Return to Transcripts main page
AT THIS HOUR
Trump Fires Away At Franken But Stays Mum On Moore; Accuser: Franken Groped, Kissed Me Without Consent; Roy Moore Defiant As Accusations Mount; Franken Apologizes For Groping Woman In 2006; Source: Mueller's "Cleanup" Subpoena Expands Search Terms. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired November 17, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Coming up this hour, the only scheduled event where President Trump will face cameras today and that means likely the only opportunity that he'll face questions and maybe answer them on embattled Senate Candidate Roy Moore.
So, far silence from the president on that one. Eight days later, his press secretary striking -- sticking to the same statement that the White House put out while overseas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the president believe Roy Moore's accusers and does he think Roy Moore should drop out of this race?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the presidents believe these allegations are troubling and should be taken seriously and he thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decisions on who their next senator should be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But overnight, the president was anything but silent about the Democratic Senator Al Franken and his apology to a woman who says that he groped her with photographic proof and forcibly kissed her in 2006.
The president tweeting this, "The Al Frankenstein picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words, where do his hands go in pictures two, three, four, five and six, while she sleeps. Which, of course, leads us all to recall this. More than a dozen women have accused the president of assault and harassment and, of course, there's this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You know, automatically attracted to beautiful women. It's like a magnet. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Grab them by the (inaudible). I can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: To all of that, President Trump has said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Those lawsuits never happened. So, can we get real for a moment? This is no longer "can you believe the president said that" kind of a moment. This is officially become a "the president doesn't get to do this" moment.
He doesn't get to question Al Franken and stay silent on Roy Moore and no one should allow it. It's playing politics with a discussion that should rise above that. So, no, Mr. President, join the full conversation going on around you, or don't -- you don't get to be part of any of it.
Is the concern over there really about being dragged into the topic of sexual harassment and assault once again? Too bad that should have been considered in how you responded to your accusers during the campaign, and that should have been considered before your campaign brought Bill Clinton's accusers to one of the presidential debates so too bad.
You don't get to pick and choose when this issue matters and when it doesn't, you don't. So, what are they saying over there today?
Let's get to the White House. Joe Johns is there. Hey there, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate, well, I can tell you this, the White House has a bit more of an explanation now for why they're treating the situation with Franken and Moore differently. And according to Kellyanne Conway who just appeared short time ago on Fox, it's an indication of the currency of the information, essentially saying that the Franken case just happened, and the Roy Moore case is much more old news.
Also indicating that the white house press secretary has addressed questions regarding Roy Moore in the past. Meanwhile, as for Franken, the White House press secretary has said, in fact, just yesterday, that she does believe a Senate ethics investigation is appropriate in this situation.
Nonetheless, it doesn't change the fact that the president has gotten repeated questions while out at public events on the issue of Senator Franken, also he's not tweeted. He tweets so many times on so many different issues it's a little odd we haven't heard from the president on the issue of Moore.
The Moore case, of course, is the kind of case that has dogged this presidency for weeks, if not months. The president picked the wrong candidate as you know in the primaries an it's difficult, of course, for this administration to figure out where they're going to go on this.
That's the reason you keep hearing that message, Kate, that the White House as far as they're concerned, believes the people of Alabama need to be the ones who decide the Alabama Senate race. Back to you.
BOLDUAN: And it may be a difficult conversation, but again, too bad. You're in the White House. It's the presidency. It's the conversation going around on around the country. If you want to weigh in on Al Franken you need to weigh in on Roy Moore. Great to see you, Joe. Thank you so much. We'll see what the president has to say today.
[11:05:01] Unlike Roy Moore, Al Franken is already in the Senate, of course, and is apologizing for what Leeann Tweeden says happened to her. Listen to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEEANN TWEEDEN, ACCUSED AL FRANKEN OF GROPING: And he just mashes his mouth to my lips and, you know, like wet and he puts his tongue in my mouth and, you know, my reaction, it was just sort of a, you know, I push his chest away with my hands and I'm like, if you ever do that to me again -- I was so angry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: As she should be. Tweeden says now she accepts Al Franken's apology, but his future in the Senate is far from certain today.
Let's go over to CNN's M.J. Lee for the very latest. M.J., what are you hearing right now from Capitol Hill?
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Kate, there's no question that Al Franken's political future is really uncertain right now. These allegations that came up yesterday are, obviously, quite stunning. Franken has not denied them and nobody is really coming to his defense.
In fact, Franken himself said in his lengthy apology yesterday that he was disgusted with himself when he saw that photo that Leeann Tweeden posted and what appears inevitable right now, Kate, is that there probably will be a Senate Ethics investigation into this matter.
And importantly, Franken himself has said that he thinks that this is appropriate and that he will fully cooperate, and his Democratic colleagues are also saying that this is the right course of action. Listen to what two of his Democratic colleagues said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SENATOR CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D), NEVADA: Very disappointed. I support an Ethics investigation. This kind of conduct should not be tolerated by anyone and any public official.
SENATOR JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: He said he's going to cooperate with the Ethics Committee and that's the right place to handle this question.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Should he be expelled from the Senate do you think?
MERKLEY: I think the right place to address it is the Ethics Committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: Now, we, of course, don't know what will come of this investigation if it, in fact, does happen but one potential issue, Kate, is the fact that these incidents took place in 2006 before Franken was a member of the Senate.
Remember, he became a senator in 2009. And the big question I think that lot of folks are wondering is, were these incidents, was this a one-time event or are there potentially other victims who might come out and speak out about Al Franken and this kind of behavior. That would dramatically change the narrative.
BOLDUAN: M.J., great to see you. Thank you so much.
Let's go now from Washington to Alabama, where we are expecting to hear from Roy Moore's wife any minute now. She has been Moore's staunchest defender since news of the accusations broke.
What will she say today as her husband remains defiant in the face of multiple allegations of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior with teenage girls. We'll have to stand by and see.
All of this comes as a new poll suggests that the allegations may be having an impact in the race. In the reddest of red states Roy Moore is now trailing the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones, by eight points ahead of that December special election.
CNN's Nick Valencia is on the ground in Alabama for us. Nick, what are you expecting to hear today?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kate. We do expect to hear from Kayla Moore, who has, as you mentioned, publicly stood by her husband throughout these allegations, at least two sexual assault allegations, but it was yesterday that Moore supporters adamantly denied.
They are saying that it is Moore who is the victim, that his character is being assassinated, and he's being framed by the GOP establishment as well as the left-wing media. It's very interesting because the campaign says that the press has not been asking about the issues. But it's Moore that has not talked about the issues of the state of Alabama since these allegations surfaced. Yesterday the bizarre press conference took a bizarre turn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judge Roy Moore categorically deny he dated teenage high school girls when in his 30s.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You read his letter and it addresses that very clearly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can he speak for himself please?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I paid for the microphone. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a question about an issue?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About the race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the issue right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: The supporters have stood by him, but these controversies swirling around Roy Moore seemed to have affected him in the polls at the very least. A new Fox News poll puts him at least 20 points behind his Democratic challenger, Doug Moore, among women and eight points behind him overall.
Even still I mentioned they're doing a lot this week, the campaign is, to bring women forward to testify to the character of Roy Moore, saying that this is not the man that they know -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: We'll see that today with his wife as you said. Let's see what Kayla Moore has to say today. Thank you so much, Nick. I appreciate it.
Joining me right now, CNN political director, David Chalian, CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, and David Mowerey, an Alabama political consultant, who's worked with both Republican and Democratic campaigns. Great to see all of you.
David Chalian, my friend, first to you, what do you make of this poll? Is Doug Jones really going to win? Is he up eight points?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We've got a ways to go before December 12th. I don't know that we know who the winner is going to be just yet. But I do think that the poll is significant. You got to remember, Kate, back in October, Fox polled this race before the controversy and had it tied. [11:10:07] It was already a very competitive race unexpectedly, so because of Roy Moore's controversial history in the state, now, clearly, this is having an impact. Look at what has happened with women voters, by 15 points, his unfavorable skyrocketed among women compared to that October poll and now Doug Jones an 8-point lead.
It is stunning to see that in a red state like Alabama, but I think this race has, you know, several more weeks in it where twists and turns certainly can be taking place.
BOLDUAN: If it could be expected in any race it would be in this one. David Mowery, what's surprising you from the ground coming out of this poll to you?
DAVID MOWERY, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONSULTANT: Well, Kate, you got me out of trig class so I'm here. I think that -- I think what we're hearing is that, obviously, women don't like this. If you look at that poll, women are moving away from Moore. I think they shared men were more likely to vote for him which is what happened in the 2012 race against him.
Anything you said bad about him, women didn't like, but men sort of rallied around the flag for Roy Moore. And the interesting thing is, Doug Jones is right at 50 percent and so usually, you know, you want to see him -- you want to see yourself over 50 if you a chance to win.
And as the other David just said, I think that there are a lot of -- there's a lot of time left and a lot of time for more allegations, but there is also a lot of time for Moore to sort of, you know, rally his base and say this isn't true and just push back and maybe win.
BOLDUAN: Speaking of surprises, if you will, Jamie, is there any surprise in your mind that President Trump is somewhat -- somewhat -- what am I trying to parse words here, he's been completely silent on Roy Moore but decided very quickly to weigh in on Al Franken?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: No. Look, you used the words pick and choose.
GANGEL: This is hypocritical. But the reality is, that he doesn't want to weigh in on the Republican race down there and Al Franken has apologized, that opens him up for attack. This is classic Donald Trump tweeting.
That said, you would think with the tape that you played at the beginning of the show from the campaign, that maybe he would stay out of it. But clearly, he thinks it's OK to go there.
BOLDUAN: David Chalian, I mean, the -- does the White House think it can, I don't know, I just -- it's not -- I don't care what the president decides to do here -- I do care what the president decides to do here. What I think isn't acceptable is that anyone thinks it's OK and par for the course that on this issue when this very important conversation is happening around the country, that the president picks and chooses when to weigh in. This is -- should be above politics, but the White House clearly doesn't see it that way.
CHALIAN: Yes. I mean, this is part of an ongoing pattern of this president having sort of abdicated the moral authority that comes with the oval office. So, therefore, we're having this huge cultural moment and he clearly feels completely tied, his hands are tied, to not weigh in on it because of his personal history.
But then, I mean, I was on the losing end of a newsroom, you know, conversation about this history, I thought there's no way the president will take the bait on Franken and tweet at Franken when he's been silent on Moore. He gets this will open up a whole line of inquiry back in it. I was wrong.
He chose to be totally hypocritical on this and I -- there is no way as this conversation is showing and many others will be having no doubt throughout the day and days to come, that this doesn't re-open the whole conversation about the allegations against president Trump.
This is -- this is an American moment right now, different than the moment a year ago, and you are seeing how all of these female accusers are now able to assess how those men that they are accusing of harmful treatment are being sort of reprimanded in the public square.
Well, how do the women that came out accusing Donald Trump a year ago feel about that? Do they feel that they're getting the fact that the person they're accusing is properly reprimanded in the public square? This is all back into the center of the conversation now.
BOLDUAN: And we're seeing that with the women who -- the women -- Bill Clinton's accusers as well, they're back in the conversation as well. Is bipartisan in the absolute worst way in what we're looking at right now.
Jamie, I was looking, there's all this talk about an ethics investigation now for Franken or if Moore is elected. I was looking over a letter announcing the Ethics Committee dismissing the complaint about David Vitter in 2008 when it came to the D.C. Madam case.
The reason cited not going forward with anything, any kind of condemnation or any punishment was, "The conduct at issue occurred before your Senate candidacy." And the conduct at issue did not result in him being charged criminally.
[11:15:10] Does that tell us everything we need to know where this Ethics thing is going to go?
GANGLE: I don't think so because we're in a different time and place. We're in a very different time and place than where we were during the campaign. So, do I think that he's going to face a higher level of scrutiny? Yes. I do.
That said, he was a comedian back then. He did what he did in the photo in public, and I think he thought he was being funny. That's what he said. He realizes he wasn't. That does not explain or excuse his other behavior that she's described where he kissed her, but I just think we're in a different climate and there is -- there is no telling how it's going to be handled.
BOLDUAN: David Mowery, let me get a final thought from you on the ground. There is time left, as you have said in this race, but so with the governor saying that the race isn't changing, Alabama Republican Party saying they're standing by Moore, what are you watching for now in the final weeks before voters vote?
MOWERY: I think that I'm looking at what the reaction of both campaigns are. I think that the Franken thing is a gift to Moore that he should push back and say look you have a senator from the other side doing this or whatever, and I'm also looking for more accusations going to come out and do the jones people take advantage of it.
Do they target women specifically or can we -- you have the big thing about issues, issues yesterday? Why is nobody talking about the F-35 fighter in Montgomery, ships in Mobile? There are actual issues who our next senator is affect the economy and the livelihood of actual Alabamians and nobody is talking about that. That's what I would pivot to if I was either of these guys.
BOLDUAN: Well, when your candidacy has become part of the national conversation, sometimes talking about the F-35 is not where the conversation ends up. Great to see you all. Thank you so much.
Any moment now, we could hear from President Trump when he holds -- right now is his only public event of the day. We're also, of course, keeping our eye on Alabama where a group of women including Judge Moore's wife are about to speak out from the steps of the state capitol. We will bring that to you, both of those moments when they occur.
Plus, this is ahead, Jared Kushner under fire once again for withholding some crucial documents requested by congressional investigators, members of both parties now are demanding answers. That's next.
BOLDUAN: In the Russia investigations, it's all about documents today and documents investigators say they need. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has now subpoenaed the Trump campaign for more Russia related documents. That is according to two sources to CNN.
And the Senate Judiciary Committee is now requesting more Russia related information from the president's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.
CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider is in Washington with all the details on this. So, Jessica first, to Bob Mueller, what does this new subpoena mean?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it's really a so- called cleanup subpoena, really a matter of bookkeeping we hear at the end of the grand jury process. Sources tell us the new subpoena is seeking more records, that's based on an expanded search term that they've used, and investigators here feel there are still things they haven't seen.
Here's the problem, according to our source, it could take months for the campaign to respond because of the amount of material being asked for. But we do know that the campaign is in the process of complying here, but they have not issued any comment on this -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: And then also, I mean, how many times is this now that Jared Kushner has given up incomplete information. What is Senate Judiciary looking for now?
SCHNEIDER: Yes. Yet, again, they're asking for more information here. So, the Judiciary Committee wants a number of documents that they say Kushner has failed to turn over so far. Here's a list of the lengthy list of documents that they want.
So, they want Kushner's communications related to fired National Security adviser, Michael Flynn, including Flynn's registration as a foreign agent, documents related to Kushner's security clearance. Of course, you'll recall that Kushner had to update his forms three times amending them to document several meetings with foreign entities including Russians.
Also on that list the e-mail chain that we know exists where Donald Trump Jr. relayed his direct Twitter messages with Wikileaks, Kushner then e-mailed that chain to Hope Hicks. The committee also wants e- mails about attempts to establish a backdoor line of communications to Russians and a dinner invite as well as some phone records.
So, Kushner's attorney, Kate, responding to all this saying that, quote, "We provided the Judiciary Committee with all relevant documents that had to do with Mr. Kushner's calls, contacts, or meetings with Russians during the campaign and transition, which was the request.
And Abbe Lowell, does include that Kushner will continue to voluntarily cooperate with all of these investigations -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: All relevant documents, it seems they think there's more relevant out there that needs to be coming in. Great to see you. Thank you, Jessica.
So, all eyes right now are on the White House and the Alabama state capitol. We could hear from President Trump any moment when he holds his only public event of the day at the White House.
In Alabama, a group of women including Roy Moore's wife are about to speak out in Roy Moore's defense. Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: After a big much needed win for Republicans in the House, a first step, if you will, as the House passed their version of a tax overhaul yesterday, well, congratulating Republicans is where the president started and then he ended it the day with attacking Democrats.
Now calling them obstructionists who don't understand the power of lower taxes and the battle over tax cuts got downright unfriendly, if you will, overnight as the Senate Finance Committee voted to move the tax bill to the Senate floor in a party line vote.
But that is not before Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown said that Republicans were only trying to cut taxes for the rich and Republican Orrin Hatch was not having any of it. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR ORRIN HATCH (R), CHAIRMAN, FINANCE COMMITTEE: I already resent anybody saying that I'm just doing this for the rich. Give me a break. I think you guys overplay that all the type and it gets old. Frankly, you ought to quit it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, the public believes it.
HATCH: I'm not through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
HATCH: I get kind of sick and tired of it. Not true, it's a nice political play --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Mr. Chairman --
HATCH: It's not true --