Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Trump Jr. Releases Exchanges with WikiLeaks; House Dems to Grill Sessions on Russia Contacts; Sessions May Appoint Special Counsel to Investigate Clinton Foundation; New Accuser: 'Roy Moore Assaulted Me When I Was 16'. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 14, 2017 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, November 14, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we have three breaking stories on the starting line for you.

First, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Clinton Foundation dealings and the 2010 sale of a uranium company to the Russians when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. This disclosure appears to be a direct response to President Trump, who ten days ago expressed disappointment with Sessions and said the Clintons should be investigated.

The announcement came about three hours after a bombshell report in The Atlantic revealed Donald Trump Jr. Secretly corresponded with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. Trump Jr. responded by releasing some of those direct Twitter messages, the timing of which are raising a lot of eyebrows.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Now a fifth accuser has come forward alleging that she was sexual assaulted by Roy Moore decades ago when she was just 16. Moore continues to deny any wrongdoing, claiming that he doesn't even know the woman. Those were his words. He says these charges are politically motivated.

However, there is a growing chorus of Republican lawmakers calling on Moore to quit the Alabama Senate race, one senator even saying that if he doesn't quit and he continues to run in the campaign and wins, the Senate should expel him if elected.

Right now, President Trump is heading home after this whirlwind 12-day trip to Asia. He says that he has a major announcement to make when he returns. What will it be about? That's a question we need to cover, and we're going to do it right now.

We have it all covered for you. Let's get after it. First we have CNN's Michelle Kosinski, live in our Washington bureau -- Michelle.


So Donald Trump Jr. now himself is releasing what he says were the exchanges between him and WikiLeaks before the elections. So even these few messages now that we know about tell us something, first of all, about WikiLeaks, what they wanted to do for the Trump campaign and what they wanted from it.

And, of course, here we have yet another interaction between someone involved with the campaign and what the U.S. intelligence community believes is, at the very least, a channel for Russian influence.


KOSINSKI (voice-over): The interactions between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks happened in private over direct message via Twitter, starting as first revealed in "The Atlantic," on September 20 last year. WikiLeaks reached out to Trump's son, asking what he thought of a new anti-Trump website. He responded the next day, "I don't know who that is, but I'll ask around. Thanks."

The "Atlantic" reports Trump Jr. then e-mailed a number of senior officials, letting them know that WikiLeaks had made contact.

On October 2, President Trump's friend and former advisor, Roger Stone, tweeted that damaging material from WikiLeaks was coming. The following day, Don Jr. reached out to ask about it: "What's behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?" Trump didn't get an answer back, but four days later the intelligence community announced that it believes Russia was behind the DNC hacks.

Shortly after, WikiLeaks was again releasing hacked e-mails from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta. Three days later, these now infamous remarks from then-candidate Donald Trump.


KOSINSKI: Then, October 12, WikiLeaks was back in Trump Jr.'s D.M.s, "Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us. There's many great stories the press are missing."

Fifteen minutes later, Trump Sr. tweeted about how WikiLeaks isn't getting enough media coverage. Two days later, Trump Jr. tweeted that link that WikiLeaks asked him to post. That same day, Mike Pence denied the Trump campaign was coordinating with WikiLeaks.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A spokesperson for the vice president says Pence was not aware of communications with WikiLeaks and first learned the news from the media Tuesday.

On October 21, 2016, WikiLeaks made a request, quote, "unusual idea," asking Don Jr. to leak them his father's tax returns. The reason, quote, "If we publish them, it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality."

But Trump Jr. didn't respond to any other Twitter D.M.s from WikiLeaks, including, according to "The Atlantic," a message on election night, urging the campaign to, quote, "reject the results of the election as rigged" if Trump lost, something the Russian government was also planning on doing, according to a report from the intelligence community.

Trump's own CIA director said this about WikiLeaks.

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: It's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a nonstate hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.

KOSINSKI: A lawyer for Trump Jr. responded to the revelations, saying, "We can say with confidence that we no concerns about these documents, and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum."

President Trump, meanwhile, has been trying to shift attention to Democrats, expressing disappointment on Twitter 11 days ago that the Justice Department isn't looking into issues related to his former rival, Hillary Clinton, the Justice Department announcing in a letter yesterday that prosecutors are now examining allegations related to the Clinton Foundation and the sale of the company Uranium One to a Russian nuclear agency and considering whether a special counsel should be appointed.

A source tells CNN that these Trump Jr. exchanges were already provided to congressional investigators; and he, in fact, was asked about them when he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a closed-door session in September.

So only now are these interactions with WikiLeaks themselves being leaked, which Trump Jr., in a tweet, called ironic. But there are other members of Congress part of the investigation into Russian connections, though, like the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee that say they, too, want to question Trump Jr. about this -- Chris.

[06:05:08] CUOMO: So, something that is certainly clear now, even from the Trump administration is what WikiLeaks was all about in terms of how to motivate negative energy in the election. What it means for Donald Trump Jr. remains unseen.

Another murky situation is what we see surrounding the attorney general. In just four hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to face another grilling about the Trump campaign's Russia contacts. The new special counsel request, undoubtedly, is going to come up, as well as will questions about the truthfulness of Sessions' past testimony.

So let's bring in Suzanne Malveaux, live from Capitol Hill. He better have eaten his Wheaties when he gets up there, the attorney general.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely right, Chris. Because he's going to be in the hot seat again before the Judiciary Committee. As you know, their responsibility: oversight of the Justice Department. So first on that -- first issue when it comes to a new probe, potentially, into the Clinton Foundation-Uranium One deal, we do suspect that the chair of the House Judiciary Committee is going to be pleased with that. He might get some praise, Sessions, because that is something they have been encouraging the Justice Department to look into.

But the Democrats, however, they're going to be looking into whether or not the White House influenced Sessions' decision to look further into that. We have heard the president, President Trump, urging and encouraging investigations into Hillary Clinton and her campaign and Russia connections.

Second, of course, is going to be his own ties with Russian officials, his role during the campaign. We know in January during his initial confirmation hearings, he said he had no Russian connections, no discussions that evolved, changed into three chats with a Russian ambassador.

Since then, we have seen now a guilty plea from national security adviser George Papadopoulos, who said that yes, he lied, that there were discussions about -- suggestions, potentially, of then-candidate Trump visiting with Vladimir Putin in Russia.

We also have heard from Carter Page who says, yes, he told Sessions that he was going to Russia. So, the big questions that are going to come up is did Sessions not know, did he not recall these conversations? Is there something deeper than this? And what did the president know about all of this -- Alisyn, Chris.

CAMEROTA: Suzanne, thank you very much for all of that.

Joining us now to help analyze everything that's happening this morning, we have CNN chief legal analysts, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza.

OK. Jeffrey Toobin, let's start with what we now know about this correspondence between WikiLeaks and Don Jr. What do you see here?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: This is a very big deal. There have been so many developments, and I know it's hard for people to keep straight.

But remember, the whole gist of the Mueller inquiry is, was there cooperation between the Russian government or Russian-affiliated entities and the Trump campaign? That was denied categorically.

Now we know there was a direct link between WikiLeaks, which was, as Donald Trump's CIA director just said, a witting instrument of the Russian government and the Trump campaign. And this raises very important legal questions.

You know, it is unlawful. It is a crime to solicit or receive assistance from a foreign person or company. And that includes noncash contributions. This could be seen as an in-kind contribution from WikiLeaks to the Trump campaign. It's very much grist for the Mueller investigation.


CUOMO: There seems to be one obvious political and one obvious legal question. The political question, Jeffrey, just to bounce him back to you, and then we'll get political analysis on this.

The political question is why did you wait so long to put it out? You know, Don Jr. loves to feel like he's kind of, you know, shaming the media by putting things out and showing that nothing happened.

Why did he wait a year to put out this stuff if he knew that it was a nothing situation to begin with? And then the legal question is going to become the timing. Isn't it, Jeffrey? That if you're going to look at cooperation and coordination, when did WikiLeaks ask you to do something? What did you do in response, and what was that in the context of the overall campaign? Let's put up the timeline, just so it's not as confusing to people.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Let's recap it for everybody. So let's look at how many times WikiLeaks reached out to Don Jr. OK, eight times.

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: Don Jr. responded twice to that.

CUOMO: Right. But what it's about matters, OK? So WikiLeaks says to him, tweet a link of their releases.


CUOMO: He doesn't respond. But then...

CAMEROTA: Yes, but let me just show the dates. October 12, as you're pointing out, Chris, that's when they say that. Then, on October 14, 2016 -- OK, listen to this. On the 12th, WikiLeaks direct messages Don Jr...

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: They ask for candidate Trump to tweet out a link. They say, "Hey, Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. We strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us. There's many great stories the press are missing, and we're sure some of your followers will follow it. By the way, we just released Podesta e-mails, part four."

[06:10:14] Fifteen minutes later -- and this is key -- this tweet from candidate Trump says WikiLeaks should be covered more. He says, quote, "Very little pickup by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest. Rigged system."


CUOMO: On the 14th, so it's a couple days later, that's when Don Jr. tweets the link himself: "For those who have the time to read about all the corruption and hypocrisy, all the WikiLeaks e-mails are right here."

The same day, he got Mike Pence -- now again, what did he know? What did he not know? It wasn't the most coordinated campaign, using coordination a different point than prosecutors will, saying, "We have no coordination of any kind with anybody that have anything to do with anything about Russia." So...

CAMEROTA: Or WikiLeaks. I mean, he specifically says that.

CUOMO: Right. But they're going to be under the umbrella of Russian -- Russian operative in this context. That's what WikiLeaks is. I know there are a lot of fans of WikiLeaks. But you have to look at them in the context of the current investigation. They are an agent of the Russian interference. That's how the CIA under the Trump administration sees them.

So, Jeffrey, the political question. Why did you wait? The legal question -- and I say it's only a political question, because the lawmakers had the documents. But why did you wait to put them out if you don't think they're anything? The legal question is the timing. What do you have on those?

TOOBIN: Well, first of all, why did you wait? I mean, people don't like to put out bad news. I mean, sometimes they try to get ahead of it.

CUOMO: And he says it's nothing. He says, "I'm going to throw it in your face right now, because you guys are making more of it than it is." Why did you wait?

TOOBIN: Because he's not that bright. I mean, this is not -- I mean...

CUOMO: I wasn't expecting that.

TOOBIN: all of Donald Trump Jr.'s behavior suggests someone who is really not a terrifically intelligent person, someone who is crude in his thinking and is just trying to help get his father get elected by any legal or illegal means he can. I mean, I don't -- that's my interpretation.

Legally, I think the 15-minute October 12 gap is the easiest to understand. You know, WikiLeaks asked Don Jr., tweet -- have your father tweet this out. Fifteen minutes later, he does. That's very difficult to explain other than direct coordination.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, go ahead.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, it is -- we have these rolling disclosures. After all these blanket denials, we have more and more evidence that I keep coming back to the same phrase, which is that the Trump campaign was open for business. If the Russians came and said, "Hey, we want to help your dad. We've got bad information on your opponents. We could somehow work together." They said, "Hey, let's check it out."

There was apparently no adult in the room who said, "No, you actually shouldn't do this. This is a nonstate actor." People knew what WikiLeaks were. If they had people who actually were grown up and serious about the office of the presidency they were pursuing, they could have given that advice. If they cared to get that advice. So what we have now is more and more information about them not

telling the truth about the contacts that they had, and now we see more of these connections. And what the end point is, whether it proves collusion, I don't know. I don't think we know yet. But we certainly see this willingness to cooperate at some level. And a long period now of denials until more of these disclosures are made. That's the big political piece here. That's why the president gets so upset about these things, because there's more momentum. There's more energy, as we go on, day in and week in for this investigation that finds these -- these relationships.

CUOMO: Cillizza, I see wheels turning. What do you got? I saw the wheels turning. What do you have there? What's the point?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: One more -- one more date to throw in there, Chris, which is October 7, which is when the U.S. intelligence community says formally that they have -- they believe that Russia is an active actor in trying to hack these e-mails and influence the election. So, that's October 7.

Five days later is this Don Jr. correspondence. Then a week after that is Don Jr.'s tweet.

So what's difficult is it's hard to say, "Well, I didn't know what WikiLeaks was. I had no clue." Because remember, back in July, "The New York Times" reported that the intelligence community was -- suspected that Russia was behind all this. That was July. October, confirmed.

Now, I guess you can make the argument, "I didn't know WikiLeaks had anything to do with Russia." But, again that's -- I guess it's -- that is a legal argument you could probably make. Politically, I think that's a much harder sell.

And I just -- I think that timeline -- look from October 7 to October 14. That one week is going to be very hard for Don Jr. and, frankly, Donald Trump, to answer for.

CUOMO: All right. Sessions, Jeff Sessions is coming up today. He's going to get questioned again. Obviously, part of the curiosity was him cleaning up his prior testimony about what Russians he met with and when and about what. But now he's going to have a new iron in the fire, which is going to be that that -- there's this development that he may be looking at appointing a special counsel in certain matters surrounding the Clintons and their foundation.

[06:15:17] Timeline is also important here. So, Paulina, let's put up what we know.

You have November 3, OK, the president of the United States says, "Look at them. Don't just look at me." OK? That's basically what he's saying there. All right?

November 13, all right, we get a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice directed to the Honorable Robert W. Goodlatte, who's the chairman of the Judiciary Committee for the House of Representatives. Why do we care about that? All right.

So Bob Goodlatte in July and September, he sent two letters over to the Department of Justice saying the same thing: "We want you to look into people on the left, as well," this time in the form of the Clintons.

So November 3, Trump tweets what he tweets. Ten days later, the U.S. Department of Justice responds to letters that they had gotten months earlier from Bob Goodlatte and says, "We are looking into this. If there is anything that needs more investigation than is currently going on the A.G. and the deputy A.G. will look at a special counsel."

I think the media is getting ahead of the headline a little bit. I don't think that this letter says, "I'm going to appoint a special counsel" as much as the media is saying it will.

But you have to also do it in context. Back in November 22, after the election, the president was asked about this: "Are you going to go after the Clintons? Because you kept saying you were going to all during the election." Here's what he said. When it goes up, I'll read it. There it is.

So, "Look, I want to move forward. I don't want to move back. And I don't want to hurt the Clintons. I really don't. She went through a lot. And suffered greatly, in many different ways, and I'm not looking to hurt them at all. The campaign was vicious."

So that's where this started. Now because of what's been going on with him, Jeffrey Toobin, do we see a very different posture now being motivated by the U.S. Department of Justice?

TOOBIN: You know, I don't want to be Chicken Little but you know what? This is what happens in authoritarian countries like Turkey and Russia. That when a party takes power, they start criminally investigating their opponents. I mean, that's what this is, if it happens. Now, it hasn't happened, as you just pointed out, Chris. But, you know, we're talking about the Clinton Foundation back in the '90s and the early part of this decade.

We're talking about, you know, Uranium One, who's already been investigated. This is a question about whether FOX News runs the Justice Department or whether the career prosecutors run the Justice Department. And, you know, that's the issue here.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory.

GREGORY: Well, and it's the issue of distraction. I mean, what we see time and time again is a president of the United States who is reacting out of tremendous insecurity. And we've seen this all throughout this investigation. We also see it in the way he talks about the reception he's gotten in Asia. How he talks about it's an unprecedented reception he's gotten. Who talks like this, I mean, other than someone who is so insecure?

And that insecurity is playing itself out throughout his decision making and his reaction, where he wants to now force an attorney general, who he's put into a terrible position, Jeff Sessions, over the past several months with regard to recusing himself, now putting pressure on to get a special counsel.

So this is, to Jeffrey's point, if you talk to former Justice Department officials who report terrible morale within the Justice Department, are there enough people who are, you know, going to stand up for the rule of law of saying, "No, this is not going to happen, because you have a president who's reacting in a way, you know, who promised to put his opponent in jail during a presidential debate."

CUOMO: Right. His hyperbole aside, you have lawmakers, Chris Cillizza, who agree with the president on this. We're going to have one of them on the show later this morning, Jim Jordan. That you guys are so interested in this Russia stuff, you nitpick everything about the Republicans; and Jim Comey gave Hillary Clinton a pass. And that Uranium One investigation was a pass, because we now know that they had evidence of dirty contributions that were going to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton got his speech paid for. And you guys never looked at any of it. That's justice, too. Your response?

CILLIZZA: Well, I would say that there are congressional committees, two at least, that are currently looking into those allegations. So that's the role that Congress has here, oversight. And that's what they're doing, including -- you know, you have Trey Gowdy. You have -- you have a number of people looking into these. They announced it a couple of weeks ago.

A special counsel looking into this. I just think Donald Trump yet again winds up being his own worst enemy when you demand things. If there had been no demand for why doesn't the Justice Department look into this, it may have been seen in a different light when the Justice Department started to look into it.

But remember, this is far from the first time those tweets that you showed are far from the first time he said that Jeff Sessions needs to essentially do a better job. And pay attention to the real scandal here. Can Donald Trump get his way?

[06:20:13] Don't forget. This is a man who said, "I wish the Justice Department -- I wish I could do whatever I wanted over there, but apparently, I can't."

GREGORY: Let's also remember how Republicans have compromised themselves. Congressman Jordan and others need to answer for the fact that our history shows us what Russia has done to mess with the United States, to fray relations with the United States. It happened under Bush; it happened under Obama. And because of Trump they're willing to look the other way and make Russia's interference in the election some kind of political issue instead of an attack on America.

I mean, I thought the Republican Party stood up against the role of communism in the world and against Russia. But now it's just a talking point about how the media has gone too far. That's quite a turnaround.

CAMEROTA: David, Chris, Jeffrey, thank you very much. CUOMO: All right. Another item on the menu for the president of the

United States to deal with, will be, of course, Judge Roy Moore. This is a big election going on in Alabama. This is very important to the GOP's margin in the Senate. Will he discuss it now that he's back in the United States? And what happens here? What are the different possibilities about how this can play out? We've done the digging. We've got the answers, coming up.


[06:25:05] CAMEROTA: So growing calls this morning from top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging GOP nominee Roy Moore to withdraw from the Alabama Senate race, amid allegations of sexual abuse. There's even threats to expel him if he is elected. This, as another accuser comes forward.

CNN's Jason Carroll is live in Gadsden, Alabama, with more. What's the latest, Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, Alisyn. In the wake of the most recent allegation, Alabama's largest newspaper, "The Birmingham News," put out an editorial where they called Roy Moore grossly unfit, saying it's time for him to step aside.

Moore saying late last night he has no intention of going anywhere.


CARROLL (voice-over): Beverly Young Nelson says Roy Moore attacked her when she was a 16-year-old high school student and he was in his 30s after offering her a ride home from the restaurant where she worked 40 years ago.

BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: Mr. Moore reached over and began groping me and putting his hands on my breasts. I tried fighting him off while yelling at him to stop. But instead of stopping, he began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head onto his crotch. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me.

CARROLL: Nelson says she began to cry and Moore eventually relented.

NELSON: He said, "You're just a child." And he said, "I am the district attorney of Etowah County, and if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you."

CARROLL: The embattled Republican Alabama Senate candidate denying Nelson's account.

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: This is absolutely false. I never did what she said I did. I don't even know the woman. I don't know anything about her.

CARROLL: But this message in Nelson's high school yearbook suggests the pair did know each other. It reads, "To a sweeter, more beautiful girl, I could not say merry Christmas. Love Roy Moore, D.A."

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think he should step aside.

CARROLL: The backlash on Capitol Hill continues to grow. A number of Republican senators calling on Moore to leave the race outright, removing a key caveat from earlier statements, encouraging him to drop out only if the allegations are true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe these allegations to be true?

MCCONNELL: I believe the women, yes.

CARROLL: Senator Cory Gardner, who chairs the committee the works to elect Republicans to the Senate going further, saying if Moore refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him.

Others voicing support for a possible write-in candidate as the only five senators who backed Moore's campaign officially withdraw their endorsements. Still many voters back in the home state of Alabama rallying around the controversial former judge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We make very bad decisions when we're young.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we going to take one bad action and discount the good that he's doing now?

CARROLL: Others in his hometown telling CNN that the rumors about Moore's behavior are well-known.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we would hear was that he would hang out at the mall to meet -- meet young teenagers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was common knowledge. You just steered away from him.


CARROLL: Part of Moore's defense, he says some of these accusers are being paid to come forward. I spoke to Leigh Corfman's family about that accusation. Corfman, again, alleges that when she was 14 years old, she was sexually assaulted by Moore. A family member last night telling me, quote, no money or other inducement has been paid, offered or promised, and none is expected -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Jason. That last part very important. As with most things, there are all these false analyses flying around on the Internet. And they were paid. How much were they paid?

Nobody has come forward saying that they were paid. But why would they say so? No proof has come forward saying that anyone was paid. I've never heard of "The Washington Post" paying for sources. It's certainly not in our book of standard practices here at CNN. So that's a little bit of a nothing, hollow thing. But it takes us into all the speculation that's going on here.

So let's bring back Chris Cillizza and David Gregory.

So Chris Cillizza, why should Roy Moore step down?

CILLIZZA: Well, let me first say he's not going to or I would be stunned if he did.

CUOMO: I think that I read a headline said Roy Moore is almost certainly not going to be a senator.

CILLIZZA: Someone wrote that, Chris.

CUOMO: A handsome man. Oh, it was you.

CILLIZZA: So the reason I think he's not going to be a senator or he's not going to be a senator for long is what happened yesterday between the fifth accuser coming out and alleging not -- not just a relationship but sexual assault. Let's be clear there. That's different than what we heard before. We had sexual misconduct. And now sexual assault.

Between that, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate saying he should resign, which -- withdraw, which you know, I'm not sure that affects Roy Moore.