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Roy Moore's Lawyer Casts Doubt On Accuser's Story; House Votes On Tax Bill Today; Zimbabwe Opposition: Transition Of Power Underway; Rare da Vinci Painting Smashes World Records. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 16, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:37] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Show us the yearbook. That's where we are, folks.

An attorney for Roy Moore is going after one of his accusers. They want inscription and 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.




BRIGGS: And, President Trump with his own Marco Rubio moment. Maybe he should have kept some of his earlier comments bottled up.


BRIGGS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm parched.

ROMANS: I'm parched, Dave.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: That was too easy. That was too easy.

I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Let's begin with serious --

BRIGGS: Let's do.

ROMANS: -- allegations this morning. 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 at Sears when she says Moore, then a 30-year-old lawyer, introduced himself and asked her for her phone number. Richardson declined but says he called her at school in Trig class a few days later to ask her out. She finally relented and says their date ended with 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.


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 -- a 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 that handwriting in that yearbook was forged.

PHILLIP 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 who will 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's certainly made things muddier for him and much more complicated -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: Kyung Lah, thank you for that.

The attorney for that accuser, Beverly Nelson, quick to respond to the demands from Moore's lawyer. Gloria Allred says she will release the yearbook to an independent expert if Senate committees agree to a hearing where Moore can testify under oath.

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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should Roy Moore resign, Mr. President? Do you believe his accusers?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

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


ROMANS: CNN has learned President Trump's silence is rooted in his own past controversies. 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. Ivanka tells the "Associated Press" quote, "There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children. I've yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims' accounts."

[05:35:01] ROMANS: Moore is insisting he will stay in 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.

And Moore, himself, signed an open letter to Fox News host Sean Hannity denying the allegations.

BRIGGS: Hannity had given Moore 24 hours to give a better explanation or drop out of the race. He now calls the allegations quote "beyond disturbing and serious" but, so far, not dropping his support. He has said this will be left up to the voters of Alabama.

ROMANS: All right, 35 minutes past the hour.

It is judgment day for the House tax plan. The president heads to Capitol Hill to speak to GOP House members ahead of a vote on their tax bill.

Now, there are two versions, the House and the Senate.

What does the House bill mean for your taxes? Well, it cuts taxes significantly next year but it favors the wealthy over time.

On average, Americans' incomes will rise 1.6 percent next year. It's about $1,200. By 2027, the average tax break is about $860. And tax cuts fluctuate depending on your income level. For the bottom

half of earners, those making between $25,000 and $50,000 a year, cuts are less than one percent next year -- nearly vanish by the year 2027 -- while the top earners still benefit.

It's all about the budget here. Republicans need to find a way to pay for these tax cuts over time.

Reducing costs is one reason the Senate version repeals the Obamacare mandate. Repealing that mandate, of course, a back float of Obamacare. It would mean 30 -- 13 million fewer Americans insured.

Not paying for those people saves the government $338 billion. It also means premiums could go up like 10 percent a year so critics worry higher premiums will wipe out middle-class tax relief.

Let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan, live from Washington.

We'll get to taxes in a minute, but I want to start on this Roy Moore controversy. You know, the people of Alabama have a big choice here to make. Washington -- this is the big story in Washington today consuming the Republican Party -- what to do about Roy Moore.

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: That's exactly right, Christine.

And, you know, there's a little bit of desperation out there, dare I say it. You know, it's certainly time for that Hail Mary pass -- the scenarios that Republicans are discussing. Write-in campaigns, possible expulsion from the Senate.

They're grasping at straws to a certain extent because if Roy Moore doesn't want to step down from this race there are very few options that remain for Republicans and they are fairly extreme and not guaranteed to work. And they may actually hand the seat to a Democrat which could imperil the already extremely slim majority that Republicans have in the Senate.

So it's a very delicate situation and through it all Republicans continue to have to answer questions about this because it is one of the most important stories that are out there right now and it's one of the main questions that Republicans are going to face, and so they may want to duck those questions.

And a lot of them have had to sort of walk back their endorsements, but those questions are going to persist as long as Roy Moore is in the news.

BRIGGS: But like tax reform, like health care, this requires leadership and there are those who have not spoken out strongly enough.

And the female governor of Alabama -- the female governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, at this point, says she will vote for Roy Moore.

And how about the President of the United States, who wades into waters he belongs nowhere near if they fit his particular cultural wars? Why has he not waded in on this one and how long can he be permitted to punt?

KOPAN: Well, if he's going to deny them he's going to, you know -- if he's going to dodge the questions, he can dodge the questions. They're not going to stop coming. Certainly, he's going to have to keep hearing these questions and figure out a way to respond.

And, you know, this is a tough call for him to try to wade into his own history here. Again, the narrow Senate majority, the need to push tax reform, the --

One of the far-fetched scenarios that's being discussed is having Attorney General Jeff Sessions mount a campaign for his old seat, which would take him out of the Justice Department. He has had a tense history with Trump.

There are a lot of dangerous traps for the president here and he's trying his best not to step in them, but we'll see how long he can avoid those questions.

BRIGGS: And for Jeff Sessions it's dangerous, too, because if he gives up the A.G. role and runs -- you can't do both at the same time because of the Hatch Act, so that's the difficulty for Sessions. He might give up the attorney general position and not win in Alabama --


BRIGGS: -- so a really difficult situation for Jeff Sessions.

ROMANS: Let's talk about taxes because this is go week -- go time for taxes. Today, the president will go to the Hill and talk to GOP Congress members about the House tax plan.

What are you expecting?

KOPAN: Well, we expect it to pass the House. That's sort of as far as we can see at the moment but things are seemingly lining up for that.

And there's certainly Republicans in the House who are not happy with this bill and will not vote for it, but the leadership seems to think that they have enough votes for it to pass and they're usually pretty good at whipping those votes.

[05:40:05] Beyond that, we still don't know, you know. It still has to go through the Senate.

There's now a Republican senator against it. They can only lose two and still have Mike Pence to break the tie, but if they lose any more than that they can't pass this bill.

So then, even if they do pass it, there are a number of differences between the two bills. They're going to have to work those out between the houses and then get the lawmakers to vote on it again. So there are a lot of pitfalls ahead for this. At the same time, you talk to any Republican on Capitol Hill, they

deeply want to come out of this year with a win.


KOPAN: Tax reform is one of their top, top items every year. They really, really want to get this done and that seems to be pushing some Republicans who would otherwise be on the fence into the win column. They really want this done.

ROMANS: Well, the tactical move of putting the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate into the Senate version, you know, it appeals to two core fundamentals of Republicans, right? Cutting taxes and getting the government out of your life -- the government doesn't tell you what to do. Those are two powerful things that Republicans could --

BRIGGS: It might further complicate matters when it comes to moderates like Susan Collins. It's going to be a tough battle ahead.

Tal --

KOPAN: It's a risky gambit, for sure.

BRIGGS: Tal, our mugs are never far from our grasp because we do all get cottonmouth on this desk, as the president did in his big speech yesterday. What a classic moment it was.

We have the video, of course, and the sound to show folks in case they missed it -- what happened yesterday with the president.


TRUMP: Seventeen thousand jobs. Thank you. They don't have water but that's OK. What?


BRIGGS: Oh, Tal, you know --

ROMANS: The Internet was invented for yesterday.

BRIGGS: Yes, it was.

ROMANS: It really was.

BRIGGS: And, as always, Tal, there's a tweet for that, you know. Normally, this is just something we laugh at but the president once ridiculed Marco Rubio for the very --

ROMANS: Ruthlessly.

BRIGGS: -- same thing.

ROMANS: Ruthlessly ridiculed.

BRIGGS: What do you make of what went down yesterday?

KOPAN: Yes, I mean, that's the thing. I don't know if President Trump will learn a lesson about mocking people and the boomerang effect -- what goes around comes around. But certainly, this wouldn't be as much of a story if not for his record with Marco Rubio.

And, you know, Marco Rubio definitely joking in the moment. A little bit of self-deprecating humor about sort of setting the tone for this but, you know, adding a little fuel to the fire on Trump.

So look, it's not -- it's not a matter of national security, for sure, but with the sort of delicious irony of what goes around comes around the president sort of made this a story for himself.

ROMANS: I also think that that speech was really -- the lack of news in that speech also was, you know -- I can't speak. I need a glass of water.

BRIGGS: What, you need some water?

KOPAN: Yes, I mean, there wasn't really a major headline.

BRIGGS: Nothing concrete to show our success --

ROMANS: Yes, so, you know --

BRIGGS: -- in Asia.

ROMANS: I mean, the president was writing his own success story about that trip, even as critics were saying the United States has come back, you know, leaving this leadership position in Asia behind, etcetera, etcetera.

BRIGGS: Yes. All right.

Tal Kopan in Washington this morning. Thank you so much.

KOPAN: Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right.

The Russians are considered big favorites at the upcoming winter Olympics if they're allowed to participate. The overnight ruling that could sideline the Russians in Pyeongchang, next.


[05:48:20] BRIGGS: All right. Some 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 noncompliant.

The final decision on Russia's eligibility expected next month. The 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 of quote "unprecedented scale." Russia's Ministry of Sport denies it.

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 underway to form a transitional government. No word yet from 93-year-old President Mugabe.

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

I want to go to Zimbabwe now and bring in CNN's David McKenzie for the latest developments.

And so many folks this morning are talking about how this was an attempt to keep the wife of the president from seizing power on her own right.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. The president's wife, Grace Mugabe, is known as "Gucci Grace" because of her really extravagant shopping trips.

And now, this was all kicked off by the moves, we believe, of Grace Mugabe to succeed the 93-year-old president and her husband, Robert Mugabe.

But, you know, that is looking increasingly unlikely, of course, because the military is now in charge. They're on the streets here in Harare, the capital. It's calm but not a single sign of any policemen that are normally all over the place here throughout Zimbabwe. They have been told, it seems, to stay home.

[05:50:00] And we're learning now that the former prime minister and leader of the opposition is in town. That leads to suggest that there's ongoing negotiations to form some kind of transition government here in Zimbabwe to possibly push Robert Mugabe formally out.

Right now, he is the president in paper -- on paper, but it seems in practice he holds very little power. And it does seem like they're trying to figure out a way for him to leave the country or exit the scene. But given he's been in charge for nearly four decades it might be that he's not willing to go quietly -- Christine, Dave.

ROMANS: So many people there have only known him as their leader. Certainly, a transition.

Thank you so much, David McKenzie.

At least 13 people killed as flash floods devastate parts of Greece. Widespread destruction reported all around Athens. The mayor of Mandra, northwest of the capital, said some people were 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 those floodwaters.

BRIGGS: The head of the top consumer watchdog is stepping down. Does it have to do with political aspirations? "CNN Money Stream," next.


[05:56:13] ROMANS: Fifty-six minutes past the hour.

A manhunt in Baltimore this morning after a homicide detective was shot in the head. Police say the 18-year veteran of the force was conducting a follow-up in northwest Baltimore when he approached a suspicious man.


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


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.

A reward of over $60,000 is being offered.

ROMANS: Talk about a return on investment. A long-lost Leonardo da Vinci titled "Savior of the World" selling for more than $450 million, the most ever paid for artwork sold at auction.

BRIGGS: Wow. Get this, the painting, though, last sold at Christie's Auction for $60 back in 1958. It was only identified as a da Vinci in 2011 after disappearing at the end of the 18th century.

No word on the winning bidder.

ROMANS: All right. Speaking of money, let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets higher today despite another slide for U.S. stocks. A tough day yesterday because energy stocks fell on lower oil prices and concerns over tax reform.

The first GOP senator is opposing the bill. Senator Ron Johnson says it unfairly benefits corporations over small business.

The current rally, of course, in stocks is fueled by hopes for tax cuts. Any sign of failure could trigger a sell-off.

Wilbur Ross is losing his billionaire title again. Last week it was Forbes, today it's Bloomberg.

But the conclusion is the same. The Commerce secretary is not a billionaire. Ross' net worth is now at $860 million. Still a lot of money but down from $3 billion.

That's according to Bloomberg's billionaire index. It determined the figures he provided could not be independently verified. A Commerce Department spokesperson declined to comment.

Richard Cordray stepping down as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, writing it was a joy to serve as the very first- ever director of the CFPB. He plans to resign at the end of the month.

Republicans have no love for Cordray. He was appointed by President Obama -- former President Obama in 2012. Republicans say he overstepped his regulatory authority.

His departure may have more to do with political aspirations than GOP pressure. Cordray is believed to be preparing for a 2018 run for governor of Ohio.

And this removes an impediment to the Trump administration, quite frankly --


ROMANS: -- who would like to declaw this entire agency -- this agency that is there to protect consumers. They say it holds back business.

BRIGGS: Yes. So what happens now with banking?

ROMANS: We shall see, yes.

BRIGGS: Will we go back?

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" starts right now. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson joins Cuomo and Camerota. He's the one opposition to this tax bill. It should be interesting.

We'll see you tomorrow.


GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON: How many women is it going to take to be believed over one powerful man?

JAUREGUI: Not once have I ever seen him act inappropriate against any women.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He is on the no-fly list for a mall, so it gives credibility to these women. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is reluctant to weigh in on this.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: His hands are too close to the fire on himself.

ROMANS: The House expected to pass its tax reform bill today as all eyes remain on the Senate.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I wouldn't vote for this Senate version, bottom line.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump is committed to passing tax cuts this year.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: This is not a good deal. This is such a scam.


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know what this is but it makes you see a little funny about 40 minutes later.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, I'll take some. Thank you very much.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY.