Return to Transcripts main page


After Trump's Trip, China To Send Special Envoy To North Korea; FBI Searching Tampa Neighborhood For Killer; Roy Moore Refuses To Drop Out Of Senate Race. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 15, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:33:20] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, was this just a coincidence? Just hours after President Trump arrived home from the 12-day Asia trip, China announced that it's sending a special envoy to North Korea on Friday.

Mr. Trump says he was pushing China to do exactly that and help with controlling Kim Jong Un in some kind of hope for a reduction of their nuclear program. Is this progress?

Joining us now to discuss this and so much more is former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, now the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Sir --


CUOMO: -- a pleasure.

CARTER: -- as always.

CUOMO: Thank you for your service to the country. Always good to be in your presence.

CARTER: Thank you for saying that. Likewise.

CUOMO: So, the president says you're welcome. We are now respected again. America is respected again around the world.

And look what China just did. They are responding to my call to help with North Korea.

CARTER: Well, we'll see what China does. The president's trip is -- trips with Chinese leaders tend to be largely ceremonial and symbolic so we'll have to see where the trip overall leads.

Trade was an important -- is an important topic, as well. We'll see what comes out there.

But with respect to North Korea, we've been urging China for decades to take action with respect to North Korea and to use the leverage that it has over North Korea to get them to step back. Now, as part of a strategy, of course, of diplomacy, as I call it --

which is what I think we should be doing at this point, and I hope that's what we're doing. I, obviously, can't speak for the new team. In addition to deterrents and defense, just in case -- which was my job and is still important --

[07:35:02] -- a course of diplomacy meaning something stepwise where you say to the Chinese if -- don't launch another missile. If you do, here's what will happen to you, which is us and South Korea, mostly.

And if you don't, here's what might be done for you. And that's where China can come in if China will do it. Now again, they haven't done it for decades.

CUOMO: The envoy doesn't change your reckoning of what China's disposition is?

CARTER: They've had exchanges before. I mean, I'm hopeful. I'm always hopeful but it would be difficult to say based upon historical experience that this is a turning point. You certainly hope so.

But the right approach and the one that I hope the administration is taking is one, of course, of diplomacy where you mix the military and the diplomatic in a step-by-step process, trying to get North Korea to first halt and then reverse its nuclear and ballistic missile developments. That's the path to go.

CUOMO: Is North Korea a worse situation than when you were there or are we just seeing a different type of dialogue in the form of a president who likes to exchange hot talk?

CARTER: Well, I first worked with Korea in probably 1994 and I did the strike plan -- designed it for the then-plutonium program.


CARTER: There have been ups and downs since then. And, by the way, some periods were the kind of course of diplomacy I'm talking about have worked for a few years, and that gives you some hope that it could work again. But generally, it's gotten steadily worse.

It was 2006 when they tested their first underground nuclear explosion and they've marched forward consistently since.

And it's very risky because you can't imagine, Chris -- and I know some people do, but I don't -- that it -- that North Korea will simply curl up in its ball and run all by itself its little Disneyland of a country and not bother anybody if it does so safely behind a nuclear shield.

I believe that they will be emboldened to do things that will be an unstable situation. That's why it's so important to turn around.

But we also have to step back a little bit and say this may or may not work. And so, deterrents and defense are extremely important. CUOMO: And you say trade has to be part of this conversation. I want to know why and your take on the president's feeling that TPP was a disaster and that him doing it bilaterally is the key to "America First" and success.

CARTER: I think trade is a strategic issue. It always seemed that way to me. It was that way to me because it is a reflection of a nation's power -- in another way, other than military, that a nation's power is expressed and that we get our way.

Now, TPP was, in my judgment, we getting our way. Getting our way because we -- our companies benefit, especially with respect to China, if there are rules of the game and if China can't pick off countries and companies one-by-one.

Remember, this is a communist country. A communist-controlled economy. We've never been in a sustained economic relationship with a communist-controlled economy.

During the Cold War, we had a long relationship -- strategic relationship with the Soviet Union but we never traded with them.

So they're able to steal intellectual properties, suppress the Internet and U.S. companies operating the Internet in their country. Engage in any competitive practices that the United States government and most other governments cannot do. So if we leave it to bilateral deals we're putting our own companies and our own trade at a disadvantage.

So it's easy to take something apart -- TPP -- but it's much harder to put something back together again. And we'll see whether that's possible. But it's of major economic importance.

This is the part of the world, Chris, of greatest consequence to America's future. It's where half the population of the world lives. It's where half the economic activity is.

If we're going to prosper as we need to, so that the American dream can continue and our society can move forward, our companies need to be able to do business in Asia. And we can't get pushed out by the -- by the Chinese or put at a disadvantage by the fact that they are, after all, a communist country. You can't forget that.

CUOMO: And then, you know, if you want to take a step further and down the path of negativity you go to the southwestern edge of that continent and you have what we've been dealing with, with ISIS.

And now, we are being told that this administration has put us in a better position. That the changes in military strategy that they've put in, in allowing generals to have more call on the field as commanders that we are now beating back ISIS. The caliphate is all but gone and we are in a much better position.

[07:40:02] Do you agree with the assessment?

CARTER: Well, we should be very proud of our military. We have defeated ISIL -- we -- that is us -- it wouldn't have happened. No other country could have done this but the United States.

We enabled the destruction of ISIS in Mosul and in Raqqa. That's not something that happened overnight.

And, you know, good things, Chris, in American security happen over periods of time. This is a campaign that began two years ago --


CARTER: -- and that basically continued.

And I give great credit to my successor Jim Mattis, whom I've known for 20 years, and Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for continuing that campaign. And it has progressed pretty much as the way we envisioned it two years ago.

It was necessary to destroy the fact and the idea that there can be an Islamic State based upon that ideology in Iraq --

CUOMO: And yet, we still got hit in New York a few weeks ago.

CARTER: -- and Syria.

CUOMO: It's not just about beating them there.

CARTER: No, no, but if this did take away the base from which they were plotting in Mosul and Raqqa every day to kill Americans, and with respect to inspired attacks of the kind of loser or a fanatic on the Internet getting all jazzed up about this idea that is Islamic State. You can't stop that entirely and that's mostly a law enforcement and intelligence matter.

But by destroying so visibly the Islamic State it's hard for anybody, however deluded, to believe that this is a happening thing.

Now, I always thought that having completed the military campaign successfully -- which I was always confident we would do and I'm glad it's done or if there's still parts to mop up -- that it would outrun the political and economic campaign.

That's what concerns me most at this juncture, Chris, and it -- that the people who live there and have been liberated from ISIS need to see their lives improved. Otherwise, some new form of despair and consequent extremism will follow.

So it's important and that's not a Defense Department thing but State Department and Agency for International Development international community. But that's what concerns me most at the moment.

And also, don't forget there are other nests of ISIS around the world -- you mentioned Southeast Asia -- and so we're going to have to go around and destroy them as well.

So it's unfinished but it's a major milestone to have taken Mosul and Raqqa. We should be very proud of our troops and their commanders for doing it. They led it. By the way, NATO allies -- people wonder if NATO allies ever do anything. They participated very strongly, very helpfully, very skillfully in the defeat of ISIS. Now we need to do the follow-up.

But we're in a much better position having delivered to the people of Iraq. I think it's very visible to them and to Prime Minister Abadi that it was us who helped them take back their country.

In Syria, we now are essentially in control through forces of -- we have of a major patch of Syria. So our position is strengthened in both of those countries for the political and economic sequel to come.

CUOMO: It is good to hear this assessment coming from you, Secretary Carter.

CARTER: Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you so much for being with us. You're always welcome here.

You know the boss is a Harvard guy, you know. You guys are always welcome here.

CARTER: Appreciate it. Thank you.

CUOMO: Look forward to having you back. Thank you for your perspective.

CARTER: Thanks, Chris. Good to be with you, always.

CUOMO: Alisyn --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Chris, now to this story.

There's fear gripping a Florida community. Police say a serial killer has struck again. We have a live report, next.


[07:47:38] CAMEROTA: The FBI now going door-to-door searching Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood for a possible serial killer.

Police have linked yesterday's shooting death of a 60-year-old man to three other unsolved murders in just the past month.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live Tampa. What are they telling you, Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, good morning.

Fears and frustrations are mounting here in Tampa. Residents here in fear that they could be next and law enforcement frustrated because they haven't been able to catch this killer.

Here is what they do have this morning. They have a description of this suspect, thanks to an eyewitness who says that this killer is a black male wearing all black with a black baseball cap, and also carrying a black long pistol.

Now, this latest clue is a result of the increased boldness of this killer, police say, because his latest victim, 60-year-old Ronald Felton was killed on a more prominent street. So police believe that they could have some surveillance video so they've gone door-to-door, knocking, asking people, looking for this killer.

And also, asking people for surveillance video. They've been scouring through this video.

Now, here is what they believe all of these killings have in common. They believe that this was a crime of opportunity because all of the victims were alone.

They believe they were all distracted. They were either on their cell phones or had their earbuds on. And also, they were all within a 10- to 15-block radius, Chris.

So if you're wondering why police are not calling this a serial killer, they tell us it's because they believe that all of these killings are connected in some -- in some way, but they don't believe they're all in the same. They don't believe they all result from some commonality.

And so that's what they're looking for. They're looking for evidence that either links them or delivers them to this killer -- Chris.

CUOMO: Well, the speculation, even, certainly has that community and law enforcement on edge.

Rosa Flores, thank you very much.

All right. So, Roy Moore very much in the news and not for good reason. He is being pushed to back out of the Alabama Senate race. He is refusing.

What are people who know the controversial former judge saying about this situation? We head to Alabama, next.


[07:52:35] CUOMO: Roy Moore, so far, refusing to drop out of the Alabama Senate race amid allegations of sexual abuse. He's accused of trying to have relationships with teenage girls when he was in this thirties, and worse. Now, those who knew him are speaking out.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is live in Gadsden, Alabama with more. A key piece to the puzzle, Gary. Good to have you.


Roy Moore is deeply respected here in his hometown of Gadsden, Alabama, but not by everybody. Since we've been here numerous people, Democrats and Republicans, have come up to us to talk to us about behavior -- past behavior they think is deeply revolting.

One man used to work in the local mall here between 1981 and 1985. He worked in a record store.

When he got there, Greg Legat says he was told there was an unofficial list of people banned from the mall. If you ever saw any people there who were on that list he was supposed to tell security. People on that list were pickpockets, scam artists, and one particular assistant district attorney.


GREG LEGAT, FORMER EMPLOYEE, GADSDEN, ALABAMA MALL: We'd talk about other people and then somebody said and don't forget about Roy Moore. And I asked what about Roy Moore and they said well, he's banned from the mall.

I said why is he banned and a police officer wouldn't tell me. He said if you see him let me know. I'll take care of it.

TUCHMAN: So what did you eventually learn as to the reason why he was banned from the mall?

LEGAT: I was told that he was bothering girls in the mall.

TUCHMAN: In what way?

LEGAT: I don't -- I don't know exactly, but he was approaching them and talking to them.

TUCHMAN: Now, girls -- when you're saying girls are you --

LEGAT: Teenage girls.


TUCHMAN: Roy Moore was in this thirties between 1981 and 1985.

Greg Legat says he saw him twice in the mall. He believes he saw him in 1982 walking past the record store. He reported it to authorities.

And then, in 1985, shortly after Roy Moore got married, he says Roy Moore and his new wife came into the record store. At that point, nobody seemed to be bothered that Roy Moore was in the mall because he had a spouse.

I can tell you, Alisyn, that Greg Legat is a Democrat but he says that's not the reason he talked to us. He says he doesn't vote by party, he votes by character -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Gary, it's pretty remarkable to have been banned from a mall in the eighties. It's hard to know exactly what that means.

Gary, thank you very much for reporting there on the ground.

Joining us now to discuss is reporter and columnist for the "Alabama Political Reporter," Josh Moon.

Josh, great to have you here to give us sort of the pulse of the state and what you're seeing unfold there.

[07:55:05] And I -- you've just written a column issuing an apology to America from Alabama. And in it, you're apologizing because you say there's been too much bible-thumping, too much holier than thou, too much greed, too much law-breaking, too much self-involvement.

Josh, why are you castigating your own state like this?

JOSH MOON, REPORTER, COLUMNIST, ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I mean, here we have a man who was banned from the mall. We've elected him the chief justice of the state twice and he's on the doorstep of being our U.S. senator.

I mean, you know, I think at some point we owe some people some apologies for some of the stuff that we do here and we've been doing it for a long time. And, you know, until people kind of take stock in what we are as a state and who we are electing to lead us, I don't think that we're ever going to get past a lot of the troubles that we have in this state. And I think Roy Moore is a prime example of some of the troubles we have here.

CAMEROTA: So, Josh, help us understand this.

Why, after hearing these five women's different stories -- they don't know each other. Why do you think so many Alabamians still support Roy Moore?

MOON: We're -- you know, we're in that conservative news bubble here a lot. And also, Roy Moore is a unique individual here in that he has kind of -- he's almost pastor-like. And he has become this kind of deity to these people here and they're going to follow him and they're going to believe him above all else.

And so, that -- it's a small percentage of people in the state who actually, you know, follow and believe Roy Moore. Plus, it's enough --

CAMEROTA: Is it? I mean, I want to ask you about that because is he popular statewide or is it a small percentage because we keep hearing that before all this happened he was slated to win.

MOON: Oh, he was going to win but you have to keep in mind this was a low turnout race. So in low turnout races -- I'm talking 10 to 15 percent is what it was in the primary and in the run-off between he and Luther Strange.

And so, when you have that low turnout, a guy like Roy Moore who has this devoted following can bring those people out to the polls and they're going to make a difference for him and that's basically what happened there. It was his people plus people voting against Luther Strange in this race for reasons that would take way too long to explain. But, you know, that's the reason why he was able to get to where he is.

He's not necessarily popular throughout the state. Most people -- I would say the majority of the people in the state see him as a -- as kind of a phony guy and understand what he's doing has been pandering for a long time.

CAMEROTA: You are impeaching your own voters in the state. Let me read more from your column because it's colorful.

You say, "What's it going to take, Alabama voter? What's it going to take before you realize that your family values, my sin is better than your sin, conservative voting approach has produced a state government filled with lying, cheating, sexually-assaulting, money-grubbing criminals who have embarrassed us countless times. And on top of everything, mismanaged the hell out of this place?"

How's that going over with your fellow Alabamians?

MOON: You know, it's sometimes hard to take a look in the mirror and, you know, get a true picture of yourself here. And -- but it's also impossible to deny.

In the same election cycle, currently here, our House speaker is waiting to go prison on 13 felony counts. Our governor was on the verge of impeachment before he resigned and pleaded guilty to two counts of campaign finance lawbreaking, you know.

And so we have our chief justice who has now been kicked off the bench for the second time in his own -- and has all of these problems that have popped up now as he runs for U.S. Senate, and we're on the doorstep of electing him.

So, I mean, I think, you know, it's a pretty accurate description of what's going on in this state and we need to take -- make some changes.

CAMEROTA: You make a pretty compelling case.

So, last question. On December 12th in this election, is Roy Moore going to win or lose?

MOON: If Roy Moore is on the ballot and he is given an opportunity to win I believe, knowing this state as I do, he's going to win.

CAMEROTA: Josh Moon, thank you very much for sharing your perspective on Alabama with us.

MOON: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news. Let's get right to it.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We're optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We want to see the Senate go first and see if they can get that done.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: They are cutting taxes on the wealthy and taking health care away from millions. JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: And I have answered every question to the best of my recollection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're left not with a lot of confidence that he's being fully transparent.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: What's it going to take to actually get a special counsel?

SESSIONS: It would take a factual basis that meets the standards.

ROY MOORE (R-AL), SENATE CANDIDATE: They've spent over $30 million trying to take me out.

MCCONNELL: He's obviously not fit to be in the Senate. We've looked at all the options and we try to prevent that from happening.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your new day. It's Wednesday, November 15th, 8:00 in the east.

President Trump is home from his Asia tour and he's got three burning issues.