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Trump Weighs in on Franken Allegations Via Twitter; Moore on Allegations: 'Untrue, No Evidence to Support Them'. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired November 17, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEEANN TWEEDEN, RADIO HOST: He just mashes his mouth to my lips and puts his tongue in my mouth. I was so angry.
[05:59:02] SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: This kind of conduct is totally unacceptable. And I think Al Franken's apology recognizes it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump attacking Senator Franken but remaining silent about accusations against Roy Moore.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes this is a decision for the people of Alabama to make.
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama.
The allegations of those women are much more credible than the denials that he's made.
TWEEDEN: The tide is turning. People are more aware of it now, and people are not as afraid to speak up.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Friday, November 17, 6 p.m. here in New York. Chris is off today. John Berman joins me. Great to have you.
BERMAN: A week's worth of news in the last 20 minutes.
CAMEROTA: Let's get right to it. On the starting line, sexual assault scandals rocking Washington. The issue turning the White House into something of a glass house as the president goes after Senator Al Franken. The president slams Franken's behavior, despite the fact that more than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, too. And then there's the bragging about grabbing women's genitals.
Senator Al Franken's fate in the Senate remains to be seen. Franken has issued two apologies, amid calls for a Senate ethics investigation.
BERMAN: And while President Trump is happy to weigh in on Senator Franken, he will not say anything, not a thing about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is accused of sexually molesting a girl when she was 14. The president flat-out refuses to say whether he thinks Moore should be a senator.
So this larger moment is causing a grand reassessment of the present and the past. A Democratic senator now says she thinks that former President Clinton should have resigned during the various sexual misconduct allegations against him.
And while this plays out, Congress is trying to pass the most sweeping tax reform in decades. The House passed their version. The Senate is advancing on its plan, teeing it up for a vote for after Thanksgiving. Whew!
All right. We have it all covered for you this morning, starting with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, live on Capitol Hill -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. As you know, sexual assault allegations and abuse, of course, rocking both parties here on Capitol Hill.
In the meantime, President Trump sources telling us that he has been reticent to speak publicly against Republican Roy Moore around the allegations surrounding him. Reticent because he doesn't want into the -- dragged into the debate, if you will, of sexual harassment himself.
At the same time, he seems not able to resist going after Democratic Senator Al Franken over similar accusations.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Trump going after Senator Al Franken over this 2006 photo showing the Democrat groping radio host Leeann Tweeden while she slept. It was taken before he was elected.
In a series of late-night tweets, the president calling the picture really bad and speculating about where else Franken's hands may have gone, before criticizing the senator's recent efforts to speak out against sexual harassment.
Mr. Trump wading into the Franken controversy, while continuing to ignore questions about the accusations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, should Roy Moore step aside, sir?
MALVEAUX: Press secretary Sarah Sanders, referring to last week's White House statement when asked about Mr. Trump's position on Moore's future and punting the decision to Alabama voters.
SANDERS: The president believes that these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously. And he thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be.
MALVEAUX: Mr. Trump going after Franken, despite the fact that a number of women have accused him of similar conduct.
JESSICA LEEDS, DONALD TRUMP ACCUSER: He was grabbing my breasts and trying to turn me towards him and kissing me.
MALVEAUX: The president has denied the accusations, attacking the women who came forward.
TRUMP: Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign.
MALVEAUX: Although he's on tape admitting to assaulting women in this now infamous tape.
TRUMP: I'm automatically attracted to beautiful and just start kissing them, like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH, FORMER "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" HOST: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.
MALVEAUX: Tween says then comedian Al Franken forcibly kissed her while they were rehearsing a skit during a 2006 USO tour.
TWEEDEN: He just mashes his mouth to my -- to my lips, and you know, it was like wet and he puts his tongue in my mouth. I was so angry.
MALVEAUX: After returning home, Tweeden said she came across the photo of Franken groping her on a CD given to her by the tour photographer.
TWEEDEN: It's belittling. It's humiliating. I mean, is that funny? Is that ever funny?
MALVEAUX: Tweeden choking up while explaining why she's coming forward after 11 years.
TWEEDEN: You know, you always -- I don't want to be a cliche but, you know, you talk about trying to leave the world a better place for your kids, you know?
MALVEAUX: Franken initially saying that the picture was intended to be funny but wasn't before issuing a second statement apologizing: "There's no excuse. I look at it now, and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate."
TWEEDEN: That one did seem heartfelt, and I believe it. I gladly accept it. And thank you.
MALVEAUX: Franken says that he will cooperate with an ethics investigation that he's calling for, as well as the Senate leadership. Both Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. I have to say, there are a lot of female lawmakers who are very angry and frustrated here, certainly hoping that legislation calling for a mandatory sexual harassment training will at least begin to address what they see as a rampant problem here on Capitol Hill.
[06:05:04] In the meantime, Franken is laying low. He skipped votes yesterday. But sources tell us that he did apologize -- that he was apologizing to his staff, that he was emotional and upset by it all. But few people have seen him since -- John, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Suzanne, thank you very much for that. So let's talk about it. Let's bring in CNN political commentator Errol Louis and CNN political analyst Karoun Demirjian.
So Errol, this never-ending cascade of sexual harassment claims. You know, look, Al Franken, Roy Moore. The Al Franken thing is instructive, and I think that we should talk about this a little bit. He -- he immediately issued a sort of half-baked apology. Then he went further. She's accepted it.
So what is his fate? What happens to Al Franken now?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this is a case where the voters will decide. Al Franken is up for reelection next year. If he decides to run again, it will be in the hands of the voters. It's interesting...
CAMEROTA: But he survives until election next year?
LOUIS: Probably. Only in the sense that he himself called for an ethics investigation into himself. He may have done that, because he knew Mitch McConnell was going to announce an ethics investigation regardless. But who cares about the origins of it?
The Ethics Committee, three Republicans, three Democrats. They will march along. It would be unusual, I think, if they moved fast enough to actually resolve this in time for the election. So it will end up with the voters, which is probably the right place.
If you're talking about a workplace harassment or workplace hostility situation, well, where is the workplace? It's between him and his employers, who are the voters.
BERMAN: Why should it be up to the voters, though, in Minnesota? I don't think he's up until 2020. Why should it be up to the voters in Minnesota? And how is that different from Alabama? Because the president's position on Alabama is it should be up to the voters in Alabama.
LOUIS: Well, yes. I mean, you have somebody who is a candidate as opposed to an incumbent. Right? If the question is, does Al Franken get renewed or does Roy Moore walk in? Here again, it goes back to the voters.
I think, look, in all of these cases, if you look, whether you're talking about Hollywood, whether you're talking about Silicon Valley, whether you're talking about Capitol Hill, the reality is these are all different places. And we have institutions in place to deal with these things. And it's an entertainer. It's between him and his investors and his production company. If it's a politician, it should be between him and his voters.
CAMEROTA: So Karoun, here's one of the vexing things that we grapple with today. How far back do we want to go? Right? So we're in the middle of what appears to be a sea change, OK, with women coming forward, feeling emboldened, telling their stories, taking back the power. So this is the moment, right? But it's been about a month or two, OK, that we're in the middle of this tipping point.
So how far back do we want to rewind the clock and hold people responsible, OK? So 2006 was Al Franken. The 1970s was Roy Moore. And then there's the Donald Trump question. And then there's the Bill Clinton question.
And so Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been on the forefront of talking about sexual harassment and rights for women. So she was asked about does this apply to Bill Clinton? So let's listen to her response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it your view that President Clinton should have stepped down at that time given the allegations?
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Yes. I think that is the appropriate response. But I think things have changed today. And I think under those circumstances, there should be a very different reaction. And I think under n light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump, and a very different conversation about allegations against him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: What do you think of what she said there?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, everybody has kind of been in a situation right now where they are trying to look across the aisle and point fingers at what other people have done and then also keep their side of the street clean politically, in that, you know, it's difficult for Democrats to make the case against Roy Moore, make the case against Donald Trump if they have to deal with the Al Frankens, the Bill Clintons of their party. So they actually have to address that head on.
It's certainly -- probably not something you're going to hear a lot of Democrats jumping on and saying, "Oh, well, Bill Clinton should have resigned on the Monica Lewinsky affair." And then you'll probably start to hear a lot of personal details. I mean, we're talking about Roy Moore. Those are, you know, children in some cases with a 14- year-old.
DEMIRJIAN: Underage. Underage, right. Teenagers, let's just put it that way. Teenagers is the trend for Roy Moore. In the case of Al Franken, this is a question of -- you know, it's
sexual assault if he was groping her and forcibly kissing her and she didn't want that.
And Bill Clinton, are we going to be talking about situations in which, you know, there's allegations of misconduct or, you know, an affair that shouldn't have happened that might have been consensual. And you'll start to see these breakdowns.
But generally speaking, you're seeing each party go through a little bit of a, you know, self-examination moment. And that, in itself, is not a bad thing. You can't change history, but you do have to discuss it in order to be able to have a -- a cogent and legitimate position in the president.
And I think a lot of these discussions about these current figures right now, who are under the spotlight has to do with how they're dealing with the past. Right? Are they apologizing for it? Are they acknowledging it? Are they saying that was wrong. And it shouldn't stand today.
[06:10:10] It doesn't mean you can go back 20, 40 years and correct exactly what happened. But you can make a judgment based on character and about exactly how much these politicians and their peers and their parties are actually taking this seriously now by seeing how they addressed the past and to try to say we should have handled it a different my.
BERMAN: Karoun, you talk about a legitimate cogent position. Overnight, I think we saw something that I was astounded by, which was the president weighing in on Al Franken, attacking Al Franken. This is a president who's accused by, you know, a dozen women of sexual misconduct already. And this is a president who will not weigh in on the Alabama Senate race.
There is moral hypocrisy here, and there's also I think, you know, politically near malfeasance, where he opened the door all of a sudden to everyone saying, "Well, what about you? What about you, President Trump?"
DEMIRJIAN: Yes. I mean, it's like an intentional blind spot for himself and for those he chooses to put into that, I guess, sphere.
But, yes, there's -- it's very difficult to read those tweets, think back one year, and think that Trump has the moral high ground from which to be launching this sort of diatribe, especially when he's not reflected on his own actions and he doesn't seem to be willing to weigh in on the Roy Moore scandal either.
He can't have it one way, when there's so many different people now on all sides of this political. At all points, the political spectrum that are getting caught up in this. And it's proof positive that this is not one party's problem or one person's problem. And to have a president who's been was implicated by allegations just point the finger and not actually hold up a mirror, everybody can see through that. CAMEROTA: When Kirsten Gillibrand talked about what Bill Clinton
should have done. I mean, she was asked. But when she responded, Errol, in that way, there -- that provoked a very strong response from the former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton. This is Felipe Rains (ph) who says this to Kirsten Gillibrand.
"Ken Starr spent $70 million on a consensual" -- blank. "Senate voted to keep the president," Clinton. "But not enough for you, Senator Gillibrand. Over 20 years, you took the Clintons' endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite. Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck." Wow.
CAMEROTA: Wow. I mean, so what does this mean? We're not allowed to talk or to ask questions now about Bill Clinton and that his was different, I guess? I mean, you know.
LOUIS: Well, the context was different. I mean, there -- there was a full-pitched partisan battle going on that this fell right into the middle of. Arguably, if you -- you know, you don't want to dig up too much of this stuff.
But the reality is, it was a collateral issue, right? I mean the investigation that was going on, involved Whitewater and some stuff from a different kind of a scandal that was also pretty far in the past.
So the Clinton people will never get over that. They feel like they got a raw deal. They feel like the prosecutor was out of control. There's a consensus in Washington that the prosecutor was a little out of control, and they, in fact, sort of tamped down and eventually allowed to expire some of the authority that special prosecutors have.
CAMEROTA: Right, I hear you. But in terms of the sexual contact, they're saying one was consensual. And I think that the facts, I think that now even in retrospect, we know that to be true.
BERMAN: Monica Lewinsky -- Monica Lewinsky is one thing.
LOUIS: It's the president of the United States. It's unclear who...
BERMAN: And I heard Begala, our friend, do it yesterday. There was Monica Lewinsky, but that's not what the issue here is for the president. Juanita Broderick, who charged him with -- sexually with rape, sexual assault. Kathleen Willey. You know, Paula Jones.
BERMAN: None of those have been adjudicated the same way as Ken Starr, which is what Felipe is trying to point to.
LOUIS: Well, that's right. And Senator Gillibrand is going to have to be careful. I mean, she's been a leader on a lot of these issues, especially assault in the military and so forth. But these are evolving standards, and retroactively applying them, it's a very, very tricky business. And I think the sort of -- the character and the forthrightness with which people talk about it becomes part of the story.
I mean, I think Senator Franken, for example, that first non-apology, where he says, "Well, I don't really remember it. And if anybody is upset, I apologize." That's completely inadequate. A couple of hours later he does it exactly the right way, which is to say, you know, "How I felt doesn't even matter. It's what I did and who I let down." And he was very specific and he was very contrite. And then he talked about consequences. That's the way it's supposed to work.
BERMAN: All right, guys. There's obviously much more to talk about. In some ways, unfortunately, much more to talk about. We'll get to all of it. But Roy Moore refusing to exit the Alabama Senate race. New polling shows that some of his supporters may be jumping ship. A look at the latest numbers next.
[06:18:18] BERMAN: Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore keeps denying claims of inappropriate behavior against women as more accusers keep coming forward. One woman says she was sexually molested by Moore when she was 14.
A new poll suggests their stories are taking a toll on his campaign. CNN's Nick Valencia live in Gadsden, Alabama with the latest. This poll raising a lot of eyebrows, Nick.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. But he still has support here. And his supporters were adamant as ever. Despite these accusations, Roy Moore continues to deny the allegations against him. At least two sexual assault allegations. But it was yesterday that he was painting himself as the victim of establishment politics. And his supporters, they agreed. They said his character is being assassinated and that he is being framed.
They say the attacks on Roy Moore aren't just an attack on the candidate but on everyone's presumption of innocence. And as Moore took the podium, he was defiant as ever, going on the offensive against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: I'll quit standing when they lay me in that box and put me in the ground. I'm going to tell you who needs to step down. That's Mitch McConnell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: You mentioned these polls here, the controversy surrounding Roy Moore, well, they seem to be having an effect. He's trailing in a FOX News poll. Democratic challenger Doug Jones by eight points. And among women, it's even worse. He's behind by at least 20 points -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK. Thank you very much. Interesting to see those poll numbers.
All right. Meanwhile, joining us now for reaction in Alabama are morning radio show hosts from Talk 99.5 Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg. Great to see you again. We last checked in with you on Tuesday, I believe, as some of this Roy Moore scandal was sort of unfolding. And you were telling us that your listeners were either still supporting Roy Moore or on the fence.
[06:20:12] Andrea, what has, if anything, changed since Tuesday?
ANDREA LINDENBERG, RADIO SHOW HOST: I think the people calling into our show have changed a little bit. They're more conflicted. They're -- they're really trying to figure out what do we do if you're a conservative and you weren't really a Roy Moore supporter? What do you do? Do you vote for him? Do you write in a candidate? Does that help take votes away for Moore and give this seat to a Democrat? So I think people really are trying to figure out what the heck we're going to do in three weeks.
CAMEROTA: Matt, do you have a sense of what might have tipped it for people? Is it the number of women that have come forward? Is it these accounts that we hear from people who worked at the mall, at the local mall in Gadsden in the 1970s. Who keep saying that there was sort of this open secret of, "Hey, avoid that guy, Roy Moore, the assistant D.A., when he comes in."
MATT MURPHY, RADIO SHOW HOST: Well, it's as if each camp has gotten a little ammunition for their side, Alisyn. You know, Roy Moore comes out and fires back at one of the accusers, Ms. Nelson saying that the yearbook really isn't -- he didn't sign the yearbook, and it's been a forgery.
And then the other side, we have eyewitness accounts of young girls who were at the Gadsden mall in the 1970s and 80s. They say that Roy Moore was a known quantity to them, so we're just getting -- we're getting a little bit more of the narrative. We're seeing a little bit more of the picture, and if that happens, I think voters are kind of coming to some conclusions, because it's clear that the Alabama steering committee is not going to solve this for the voters. We have to do it for ourselves.
LINDENBERG: Alisyn, yesterday we had a guest in studio with us. He was one of the close friends of the woman who said she was 14 in "The Washington Post" article. And she said the town is divided. You have people who believe that Roy Moore was stalking girls at the mall and that they are being intimidated by others who don't believe any of this.
CAMEROTA: So we're seeing some interesting poll numbers that show that dichotomy that you're expressing, so let me just pull these up. This is a FOX News poll, and this shows that in terms of women under 45, OK, so they polled voters in Alabama. Their choice for senator would be 69 percent for these women. Doug Jones, the Democrat, only 20 percent, Roy Moore. But then look at this.
This is a poll of Alabama's evangelical voters. And 73 percent still support Roy Moore, despite hearing these stories. Twenty percent of those support Doug Jones.
So -- so Matt, help us understand the evangelical vote. Why is it that they would give somebody with the stories of, you know, I mean, in one case, an underaged 14-year-old. Why would they give him a pass on that?
MURPHY: Well, I think many of these evangelicals have been supporting Roy Moore for two decades. And in order for them to believe that this is the man that they've been supporting -- supporting for two decades, they have to reexamine that entire period of their life. They supported him in 2003, with the Ten Commandments monument issue. They supported him on the gay marriage issue. And they continue to support him.
I think it's very difficult for an individual and evangelical to get that introspective so quickly. After all, it's only been a week in time since some of these allegations came out.
CAMEROTA: Andrea, I want to play this remarkable press conference that Roy Moore was part of yesterday. He had no problem saying that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should be out of a job or should resign or should be voted out because of all of this. But when asked about himself and the stories about himself, watch what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Judge Roy Moore categorically deny he dated high school girls, teenage high school girls when he was in his thirties?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You read his letter, and it addresses that very clearly. Next. What I want to do is next question. Hey, I paid for the microphone. I'm sorry.
Yes, sir. Do you have a question about an issue?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That's our reporter from CNN, Gary Tuchman, who says this is the issue that we're asking about. What do you make of that, Andrea, as you watch him sort of slink out of that press conference?
LINDENBERG: You know, for once, we always talk about we want to talk about the issues. I want to talk about this issue. I think what happened there is the campaign has decided to go on the offensive, because they feel the media is attacking their candidate, Roy Moore. We want answers. We do want to sit down and talk with Roy Moore and get more information from him.
So I think that was one of those things where they said if the media comes at you and asks you those questions, everyone in the room push back and get aggressive with them. I haven't seen something like that here in the studio (ph) in Birmingham or the state of Alabama in a long time, where there was an argument between the media and the people representing a candidate for Senate. CAMEROTA: Hey, Matt, what do you think about President Trump, who has
not -- who has chosen not to speak about Roy Moore, even when he's been asked directly? Do you think that that's having an impact on Alabama voters?
[06:25:08] MURPHY: Well, Alabama voters kind of push back on the president with regard to the runoff election. He came to support Luther Strange. And Alabama voters instead decided to pick the outlier in Roy Moore in the runoff. So I think Alabama voters have been clear that they're going to make their own decisions with regard to this.
I think they're much more interested in speaking with the candidate himself. And it's not a matter -- I know that his surrogates want to claim that it's a matter of not talking to fake news and that sort of thing.
Well, we're a safe place for Roy Moore. We've had him on plenty of times on our radio show. And we can't get the candidate to respond to us. I believe this is going to continue to be a problem for him if he doesn't directly speak to the voters of Alabama, regardless of what the president tweets or doesn't tweet.
CAMEROTA: Matt, Andrea, it is great to get your pulse on all of this. It really helps to know what's happening on the ground in Alabama. Thanks so much for joining us.
LINDENBERG: Thanks, Alisyn.
BERMAN: All right. The Senate poised to take up tax reform but not before an explosive shouting match between two senators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Well, Mr. Chairman, with all due respect I get sick and tired of the richest people getting richer and richer...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order. Order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: How this all ended next.