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EARLY START

Moore Attorney Targets Accuser; Trump to Sell Tax Plan; Trump's Watershed Moment. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 16, 2017 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:00:14] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The attorney for Roy Moore going after one of his accusers. They want inscription in the accuser's yearbook analyzed by handwriting experts, as two new accusers come forward.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump heads to Capitol Hill to sell tax reform today. He'll meet with House Republicans before they vote. But the Senate plan is running into early Republican opposition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's Rubio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: And President Trump with his own Marco Rubio moment. Naturally, Twitter and the Florida senator are drinking it in.

ROMANS: The Internet went crazy. The Internet went crazy. That was -- the Internet was invented for yesterday.

BRIGGS: You were waiting for that moment as you saw him struggling for saliva.

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, November 16th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

This morning, though, two new accusations that Roy Moore made unwanted advances on young women. "The Washington Post" reporting on the stories of Gena Richardson and Becky Gray, who both worked at the mall in Gadsden, Alabama, in the late 1970s.

BRIGGS: Richardson was a high schooler working in Sears when she says Moore, then a 30-year-old lawyer, introduced himself and asked for her phone number. Richardson declined but says he called her at school, in trig class a few days later and asked her out. She finally relented and says their date ended in an unwanted forceful kiss.

ROMANS: The other new accuser Becky Gray was then 22 and working in the men's department of another store. She says Moore kept asking her out and she kept saying no. Gray says he was persistent in a way that made her uncomfortable. The two women bring the total number of accusers now to seven.

BRIGGS: Now, Moore's lawyer is on the offensive, attacking the credibility of another accuser who went public Monday. Moore's attorney zeroing in on a note Beverly Nelson says Moore inscribed in her yearbook.

The latest now from CNN's Kyung Lah in Gadsden, Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Roy Moore's attorney came out trying to defend his client. He also attempted to turn the conversation away from allegations of child sex abuse to handwriting analysis. The focus of his comments before the press today was about the yearbook, the yearbook signed apparently by Roy Moore in the 1970s by a high school girl who at the age of 16 says that Roy Moore attempted to make sexual advances toward her, unwanted sexual advances.

Roy Moore's attorney saying that the handwriting and that yearbook was forged.

PHILIP JAUREGUI, ATTORNEY FOR ROY MOORE: We have a handwriting expert, pardon me, that's looking at those. But here's the problem. A handwriting expert can't look at a copy on the Internet, right? They've got to look at an original.

So, right now, Trent Garmon, our attorney, has sent a letter or is sending a letter to Gloria Allred, demanding that the yearbook be released. We'll send it to a neutral custodian. We'll keep chain of custody and our professional expert will examine it. And we'll find out, is it genuine or is it a fraud?

LAH: Well, all of this certainly complicates things. We spoke to a voter and the impact on what will happen on December 12th, this voter said it certainly made things muddier for him and much more complicated -- Christine, Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Yes, that was quite a press conference. The attorney for that accuser quick to respond to the demands for Moore's lawyer. Gloria Allred says she will release the yearbook to an independent expert if the Senate committees agree to a hearing where her client Beverly Nelson and Moore can testify under oath.

BRIGGS: President Trump meanwhile still keeping mum after giving address on his Asia trip Tuesday. The president refused to answer questions about Moore. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Should Roy Moore resign, Mr. President? Do you believe his accusers? Do you believe the accusers of Roy Moore, Mr. President? Should he resign?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: CNN has learned the president's silence on this issue stems from past experience. A Republican close to the White House says the president is concerned the focus will shift to earlier sexual misconduct allegations against him.

BRIGGS: One Trump is speaking up, though. The Ivanka in a blistering response to the controversy, she told "The Associated Press", quote: There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children. I have yet to see a valid explanation. I have no reason to doubt the victims' accounts.

ROMANS: Moore for his part insisting he is staying the race, with a tweet ending: we will not quit.

His campaign also putting out quotes from a dozen women who have known Moore for years, all attesting to his character.

[04:05:01] And Moore himself signed an open letter to FOX News host Sean Hannity denying the allegations. Hannity had given Moore 24 hours to give a better explanation to what Hannity called inconsistencies in his stories, or drop out of the race. He now calls the allegations beyond disturbing and serious but is not so far dropping support.

BRIGGS: Meantime, Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones now publicly backing Moore's accusers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: It seems to me the statements made by the women up in Etowah County have much more credibility than the denials.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: In Alabama, an emergency meeting of the state Republican committee ended last night without comment.

ROMANS: Wow. It is just the story consuming the Republican Party this morning.

All right. It's judgment day for the House tax plan. The president heads to Capitol Hill today speaking to House GOP members ahead of a vote on their version of the tax bill.

The tax reform's real hurdle though is in the Senate. The first GOP senator is now opposing the plan, jeopardizing plans to pass it by the end of the year. Senate Republicans can only lose two votes and Senator Ron Johnson says he won't vote for the current bill. Johnson says the plan does not help small business and thus giving corporations a better deal. That prompted President Trump to give him a call.

But Johnson is not entirely wrong. In the Senate version, most tax cuts expire in eight years, including the pass through rates. That's used by small and medium size businesses. But the corporate rate is permanent, ending most tax cuts reduces how much the bill adds to the deficit, at $1.5 trillion. So, you've got to make the math work.

It can't add more and still pass with a simple majority. That's why the Senate bill repeals the Obamacare mandate, 13 million fewer Americans will be insured and not paying for those people saves the government $338 billion. It also means premium hikes about 10 percent, and that concerns another Senate Republican, Senator Susan Collins warns higher premiums may end up wiping out middle class tax relief.

BRIGGS: Rare bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill in the wake of the recent mass shootings, prompting a bill to strengthen background checks in a may be introduced in the Senate as early as today. The deal spearheaded by Republican Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

ROMANS: Two Senate sources say the legislation would ensure states and the federal government upload required background check information to national databases. The effort gained steam after the deadly church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, when the Air Force admitted it failed to report the shooter's criminal history of domestic violence.

BRIGGS: President Trump patting him self-on the back for all he achieved during a five-nation tour of Asia. The president proclaiming a great American comeback is under way and personally taking credit for restoring the country's standing in the world.

ROMANS: Mr. Trump framing his accomplishments as a correction of mistakes made by past presidents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everywhere we went, our foreign hosts greeted the American delegation, myself included, with incredible warmth, hospitality and most importantly, respect. The days of the United States being taken advantage of are over.

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ROMANS: President Trump playing on the fact he insisted on free and reciprocal trade as America's regional partners. It's worth nothing he came home from Asia with no written commitment from any country. But those countries are now moving forward on their own trade without the United States.

BRIGGS: During that live address, President Trump was visited by a sudden case of dry mouth as you saw there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: -- 17,000 jobs. Thank you.

They don't have water. That's OK. What?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Yes, the president needed some water and couldn't find it. Normally, no big deal, except he had actually ridiculed Senator Marco Rubio for his infamous moment, when Rubio gave the State of the Union response back in 2013. Trump later mocked Rubio for pouring sweat and chugging water, tweeting he choked.

ROMANS: And on a campaign trail, Trump had a lot of fun with this. He pantomimed Rubio's frantic swigging.

Now, seeing a change for cosmic justice, Rubio could not let the president's watershed moment passed. Well done, everyone. He tweeted: similar but needs work on his form. Has to be done in one single motion, and I should never leave the camera, but not bad for his first time.

BRIGGS: That's what made Rubio so awkward was that trying to keep his eyes on the camera as he grabbed the water. I think Trump's was better actually.

ROMANS: It's OK to have a drink of water during a speech, but you can't --

BRIGGS: Certainly if you come back from Asia.

ROMANS: But you can't mock people and then expect not to be mocked back.

BRIGGS: There's a tweet for that. There's a tweet for everything, folks.

All right this painting identified as a long lost Da Vinci now auctioned of.

[04:10:04] You won't believe --

ROMANS: It's unbelievable.

BRIGGS: -- for how much cash. It's a record. We'll tell you just how much next.

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ROMANS: A Baltimore police homicide detective is in grave condition this morning after being shot in the head. Police say the 18-year veteran of the force was conducting a follow-up investigation of a killing in Northwest Baltimore, when he observed a suspicious man and approached him. During the encounter, the detective was shot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMMISSIONER KEN DAVIS, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: What I want to describe this person as is cold and callous. And he's out there right now and he know knows that he shot a Baltimore police officer. He knows it. He's well aware of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The detective is in the ICU on life support with his wife and two children by his side. Some of the detective's fellow officers were noticeably devastated as they waited for information outside the hospital.

[04:15:02] A reward for over $60,000 is being offered for information leading to the shooter's arrest.

There UCLA basketball players apologizing at a news conference for shoplifting during a team trip to China last week. LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were arrested and detained after stealing merchandise from a mall in Hangzhou, China. The three freshmen have now been suspended from the team indefinitely.

ROMANS: They thanked President Trump for his help and told reporters they know how lucky they are to be back on U.S. soil.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CODY RILEY, UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER: I know that this goes beyond me letting my school down, but I let the entire country down. To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Earlier Thursday, the president perhaps thinking he would not get credit for the players' release, tweeted this. Do you think the three UCLA basketball players will say thank you, President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail.

BRIGGS: Talk about return on investment, a long lost Leonard Da Vinci work titled "Savior of the World" selling for more than $450 million. That's the most ever paid for artwork sold at an auction, far eclipsing the expected $100 million.

ROMANS: And what's so amazing about this, this painting last sold at Christie's for $60 back in 1958. It was only identified as a Da Vinci in 2011 after disappearing near the end of the 18th century. It is considered the greatest artistic rediscovery of the century. No word on the winning bidder, but I believe this is the only Da Vinci in private hands. Remarkable $450 million.

All right. A signature moment for the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, striking a pose, along with his wife, Louise Linton, to show off sheets of new $1 bills, the first to have Mnuchin's John Hancock.

The Internet went crazy, mocking this, in large part because of this -- an Instagram post by Linton over the summer that showed her stepping off a government plane and flaunting her designer wardrobe. She also squabbled with a commentator at the time who criticized her getaway. And she was widely regarded as talking down to this taxpayer for not making as much money as --

BRIGGS: You've got to see the meme coming, don't you? (CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: You know, I covered a lot of treasury secretaries and I don't really recall, you know, couples doing this. It's usually just treasury secretaries.

BRIGGS: It might be just be that that one stands in particular.

All right. Baseball's 2017 Cy Young Award winners both have been there before. Washington Nationals' pitcher Max Scherzer winning his third Cy Young Award, and second straight in the national lead. Scherzer led the NL in strikeouts and won 16 games for the Nats. He beat out teammate Stephen Strasburg and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.

In the American League, the Indians Corey Kluber won his second Cy Young Award, beating out the other finalists, Boston's Chris Sale and Yankees Luis Severino. Kluber led the American League with 18 wins despite spending a month on the disable list. He also won the AL Cy Young in 2014.

ROMANS: All right. The Russians are considered big favorites at the Winter Olympics, if they're allowed to participate. The overnight ruling that could sideline the Russians in Pyeongchang, next.

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[04:22:44] BRIGGS: Breaking news overnight. Russia facing a possible ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The World Anti- Doping Agency upholding an earlier decision that Russia's anti-doping agency is now noncompliant. Pyeongchang Winter Games are less than three months away.

A 2015 report found the Russian state conspired with its athletes and officials in a doping program unprecedented scale. Russia's sports ministry denies. A final decision on Russia's eligibility is expected next month.

ROMANS: Opposition leaders in Zimbabwe say the decades-long rule of Robert Mugabe is coming to an end. The opposition tells CNN it looks like a done deal and talks are under way to form a transitional government. No word yet from the 93-year-old President Mugabe.

The United States urging calm and a return to democratic civilian order.

Let's go live to Zimbabwe and bring in CNN's Dave McKenzie for the latest developments.

I know yesterday the U.S. embassy there was closed. Americans were told to stay, you know, shelter in place, stay home, because there were concerns about how this was going to go down, David.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. And that advice for American citizens is still in place. The U.S. embassy working at a reduced staff, and very closely monitoring the situation. The U.S. is saying it's not taking any sides in this matter, but they are still armored personnel carriers on the streets of the capital, the military clearly in charge.

And as you said, we just got word from the opposition that they say it's a done deal, that they are negotiations on going of a transition of power, perhaps some kind of transitional government. The person we haven't seen or heard from for some sometime is Robert Mugabe, the 93- year-old leader of this country, who appears to being shoved aside by the military and his ex-allies.

Still, a very tenuous situation here. There's shuttle diplomacy going on by the South African government in the region. Of course, if they deem that this was a coup, they have to step in. So, a tight rope being walked by the Zimbabwe military diplomatically, and Zimbabweans themselves holding their breath. The only leader most have known is Robert Mugabe and he could be on the way out -- Christine, Dave.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that, in Harare.

[04:25:02] Thank you.

BRIGGS: At least 13 people killed as flash floods devastate parts of Greece. Widespread destruction reported all around Athens. A mayor of northwest of the capital said some people trapped in their homes, flooded to a depth of at least three feet. Meantime, a state of emergency has been declared in the West Attica region. Officials say parts of the national highway system have been destroyed and many roads are closed. As many as 86 people have been rescued from flood waters.

Ahead, two more women coming forward with accusations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. What they say he did in a local mall that led to one story manager to tell the new hires to watch out for Moore.

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