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President Trump Still Silent, White House Aides Hint They Hope Roy Moore Wins; Charlie Rose Accused of Unwanted Sexual Advances. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 20, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:05] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The headline says it all. Eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them with nudity, groping and lewd calls.

John Berman here, in for Anderson.

That story is just ahead.

We begin though with the remarkable admission whether deliberate or by accident, it's out there now. When it comes to choosing the next U.S. senator from Alabama, the White House would prefer an alleged child molester to a Democrat. Now we know.

When it comes to Roy Moore, Republican us Senate candidate from Alabama, alleged molester of a 14-year-old girl, alleged attempted rapist of a 16-year-old, that's the answer from White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. Now we know. She let it slip while lashing out at Moore's opponent on "Fox and Friends", prompting this question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, vote Roy Moore?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He's a doctrinaire liberal, which is he's not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, vote Roy Moore?

CONWAY: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax -- this tax bill through and the media -- if the media were really concerned about all these allegations and not what this was truly about in the Democrats, Al Franken would be on the ash heap of bygone half funny comedians. He wouldn't be here in Capitol Hill. He still has his job. What's Bob Menendez doing back here?

That's the best my state of New Jersey can do? Huh, Doocy? You live there. Let me tell you something --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I'm saying the RNC is withdrawing support to Roy Moore.

CONWAY: This guy Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal.


BERMAN: So, just in case you missed it in that cloud of misdirection, Kellyanne Conway one of the presidents top advisors accidentally or otherwise utter the truth that until now has there not crossed the lips of anyone at the White House.


CONWAY: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax -- this tax bill through.


BERMAN: They need the votes, she says. They need Roy Moore's vote. They want Roy Moore's vote, never mind that many of his potential Republican Senate colleagues say they don't need or want Roy Moore, period. Never mind that all these accusers have now gone on record alleging various forms of sexual misconduct or uncomfortable encounters on Roy Moore's part. Never mind that Moore was reportedly barred from a local mall for allegedly bothering young women.

Never mind that Kellyanne Conway herself said just last Thursday --


CONWAY: Whatever the facts end up being, that the premise is, of course, the principle -- the incontrovertible principle is that there's no Senate seat that's worth more than a child.


BERMAN: So, keeping them honest, principles are so last Thursday. Now we know.


CONWAY: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax -- this tax bill through.


BERMAN: Now we know.

Yet if Kellyanne Conway uttered the truth this morning, it was a somewhat inconvenient truth.

This afternoon, when asked about it, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders says the president had no position beyond this.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We certainly think that this is something that the people of Alabama should decide and I'm not going to be able to weigh in anything further beyond those comments.


BERMAN: Sarah Sanders trying to put this morning's toothpaste back in the tube while dispensing some familiar soft soap.


SANDERS: The president believes this is a decision for the people of Alabama to make. The people of Alabama should make the decisions. The people of Alabama should be the ones to make the decisions. The decision that the people of Alabama need to make, it's up to the people of Alabama to make the decision.

The president as I've said about seven or eight times now thinks that this is a decision for the people of Alabama to make. It's up to the governor and the state -- the people in the state of Alabama to make a determination. I've addressed it quite a few times, the position of the White House hasn't changed. It's up to the people of Alabama to make the determination on who their next senator should be.


BERMAN: Now, listen to that long enough and you might get the impression that telling Alabamians how to vote is the kind of thing this president would never do. He would never, for example, get on Air Force One and fly down to Alabama. That would never happen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States.


BERMAN: Nor will the president ever go to a rally for Alabama Republican primary candidate Luther Strange get on stage with him and tell Alabamians how to vote.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is why I'm here tonight to ask the good people of Alabama to send Luther Strange to the United States Senate so he can defend your interests, fight for your values, and always put America first. Go out and get out the vote.


BERMAN: Why it's almost like he's telling the people of Alabama how to vote, and here he is at the very same event promising to support Roy Moore if Moore won.


TRUMP: And by the way, both good men, both good men. And you know what, and I told Luther I have to say this, if his opponent wins, I'm going to be here campaigning like hell for him. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[20:05:03] BERMAN: And sure enough, when Roy Moore defeated Luther Strange, the president got behind Moore. Congratulations to Roy Moore, he wrote on his Republican primary win in Alabama: Luther Strange started way back and ran a good race. Roy, win in December.

So, it wasn't until accusers began coming forward that the president, especially his surrogates and spokespeople, latched on to the "let Alabama decide" talking point and it wasn't until this morning that Kellyanne Conway revealed the talking point to be bunk. The truth which she lets slip is that what the White House has decided, it prefers an alleged child molester to a Democrat because the alleged child molester will support the president on tax cuts. Now we know.

Plenty to talk about with Stephen Moore, CNN senior analyst and Trump supporter. Also, Phillip Bump of "The Washington Post", and Amanda Carpenter, former communications director to Senator Ted Cruz.

And, Amanda, I confess to being surprised when I heard Kellyanne Conway say this morning what she said about Roy Moore and Doug Jones, only because of how hard Sarah Sanders in the White House were working to make it seem as if the president won't weigh in. But yet, there Kellyanne was at the White House saying what she said. What do you make of it?

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Well, they want the vote and they like many other Republicans want to act like they have no responsibility or obligation to give Alabama voters a better choice. The governor of Alabama who's a woman says she believes the women but then she's going to vote for Roy Moore anyway.

This is what I am sad to say is becoming the new standard the Republican Party. This is a new variation of what reluctant Republicans said about Donald Trump. Well, I support him but I don't endorse him.

What they're really saying is that I am not going to stick my neck out and take the risk of demanding higher standards for our party and at the same time trying to wash my hands of any responsibility for when he does something wrong. That's what's going on here. They want the vote, but they're going to pretend like they're not responsible for enacting any standards when their party, when these are the very people who are tasked with doing so.

BERMAN: Stephen Moore, from where I sit, no one wants tax cuts more than you do.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Thank you. I'll take that as a compliment.

BERMAN: And I meant it as such.

Do you think it's enough of a reason for voters to look beyond these allegations against Roy Moore? MOORE: Look, I think Judge Roy Moore was kind of a creep, and I think these are obviously very serious allegations against them. But I also think that it is appropriate for the people of Alabama to make this decision and, you know, this is this election is almost a jury of his peers, right, to indicate whether the people of Alabama want this man to represent them.

By the way, the Democrat is no saint either. This is -- the Democratic candidate is for partial-birth abortion and in a state that's highly Christian and Catholic. I mean, so, you know, there's no moral high ground here between the two candidates.

BERMAN: Except that one is an alleged child molester.

MOORE: Yes, and the other one is for partial birth abortion, which a lot of people in Alabama think is tantamount murder.

BERMAN: Which is most people look at their a political position as opposed to, you know -- well, look, I was just now about the last week as a matter of fact. I mean, people are really they're disgusted by Roy Moore's behavior, no question about it. A lot of Republicans have said they're not going to vote for him. But who should make this decision?

I mean, I'd ask, you know, you all that question. Who should make the decision? And my argument is people in Alabama should make the decision.

If I were a lie were living in Alabama, I wouldn't vote for either of these two. I'd vote for, you know, the -- you know, somebody like Jeff Sessions or something like that.

BERMAN: But Kellyanne Conway, instead of saying Alabamians should decide, today seem to say you should vote for Roy Moore.

MOORE: But, look, this is just a truism. It's just math, right, that Republicans are going to face a tough time if they lose the Senate. I mean, it's just a fact.

BERMAN: We have this picture that we put up of 14 Republican senators have come out. There it is right there. And these are people who've spoken, and I'm sure they want Republican votes in the Senate, yet they say it's not worth voting for Roy Moore.

MOORE: And again, I think it's -- if Roy Moore wins the seat, I think that if people of Alabama say, we want him to represent us, I think he should be put in the United States Senate.

BERMAN: All right. Philip Bump, there was a remarkable moment inside a cabinet meeting today at the White House. I think we have a little bit of sound of the president not Kellyanne Conway, but the president being asked where he stands on Roy Moore specifically. Let's play that.


REPORTER: Your thoughts on Roy Moore, Mr. President? Do you believe his accusers? Do you believe Roy Moore's accusers, Mr. President?



BERMAN: All right. The president not just not answering but also crossing his arms in defiance to say I'm not answering and you can't open my arms to force me to do so. Philip Bump, he's got, what, three more weeks until election day?


BERMAN: Can he not answer this question for three more weeks?

BUMP: It seems that way, right? I mean, it's been more than a week already. I mean, I -- obviously there's a he's sitting on top of a huge can of worms. If he starts talking about whether or not he is in a position to adjudicate allegations by women of sexual misconduct, all of a sudden, it opens up everything that happened between October 7th and election day of last year. I mean, that's really the problem.

I think that Kellyanne Conway did not slip accidentally. I mean, I don't know that she was asked to go out there and say that. But this is clearly the business from the White House. They want more than anything to get these tax cuts passed.

It is certainly the case that were Moore to win, there is a group of Republicans in the Senate who are more than willing to quickly move to expel him from the Senate, which would essentially start the whole process over again in Alabama, meaning essentially there be another Republican who would be a senator. But that's a slow, fraught process. It wouldn't necessarily come fruition.

So, this may be the best shot that the White House sees --

MOORE: Let me ask you a question about this though. Do you think that Robert C. Byrd, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and was a racist and segregationist, should have been expelled from the United States? Do you think -- I mean, liberals not only --

BUMP: I'm not Corey Gardner --

MOORE: I know, but I mean, what about Ted Kennedy?


CARPENTER: Yes. Can I jump in here on this?

MOORE: I mean, liberal said that Ted Kennedy was the lion of the Senate.

BERMAN: I want to ask something more relevant to today, and it gets to the same question of morals --

MOORE: But these are allegation from 40 years ago -- BERMAN: I'm going to ask about Moore's relativism, which is the same

basic question here, Amanda, which gets, you know, we're going to talk about Charlie Rose in a second, eight women came forward today and said, you know, he was a serial creep over many years, essentially. Al Franken, a second woman came forward today, CNN reported this and said that he touched her, you know on her rear end during a photo op in 2010.

Did these allegations and you can add and what Steve is talking about there or not, did these make it easier for Roy Moore to defend himself?

CARPENTER: Well, here, I do think there's a disconnect between politics and media and, you know, Hollywood. And what we see happening outside of Washington is when these allegations come forward, the men are quickly dealt with by shareholders or their companies or whatever you have it.

On the political side, you have Donald Trump who spoke favorably about assaulting women on the "Access Hollywood" tape. Nobody can dispute that characterization of it, had many women come forward, and he's still won.

You have Al Franken, which is, you know, different scenario. We saw the picture. There's a Senate ethics investigation. Who knows what's actually going to happen with that? Seems to be like a free pass for right now.

You have Roy Moore, lots of women coming forward, may still win his seat.

My question is, are allegations of sexual assault, abuse, harassment disqualifying for federal office? I look at this scenario and the answer seems to be no, because there's no one saying they should immediately leave.

I don't think there's any chance in the world that Roy Moore actually gets expelled from the U.S. Senate if he wins, and this is why. It would be much easier for him to deal -- for the Republican Party to deal with him in this race have Luther Strange stepped down, have a new person appointed in there and trigger a new special election. That is far easier than actually going to the historic on process of expelling someone which I think would only be the 15th or 16th member in U.S. history -- you know, Senate history. And so, that's just not conceivable at this moment in time.

And so, congressional approval ratings are already in the tank. People don't trust Washington, until the politicians figure out a way to deal with us, is this going to go lower and lower, because people outside of Washington seem to get it.

BERMAN: So, Stephen, just going back to this point and the ultimate moral relativism here, you know, President Trump keeps like, you know, kicking Al Franken here. But where does he play into this, and does that make any sense to you to criticize Franken but not the president for whom there are more a dozen accusation? MOORE: Well, I think there -- you know, I don't know if there's a sameness to these allegations in these two cases, but look, I think for Donald Trump to say the people of Alabama should decide this I think is an appropriate thing for the for the presidents to say. He has denounced, you know, Roy Moore for these allegations.

BERMAN: Right.

MOORE: And so, look, the questions if the people of Alabama aren't going to make this decision, who is?


CARPENTER: -- Alabama deserve a better choice than an accused child molester --

MOORE: Well, absolutely.

CARPENTER: -- than someone who's going to, you know, that is extreme an abortion?

MOORE: Yes, I --

CARPENTER: Why doesn't the Republican Party step in and say this man does not hold to our standards, we are going to give Alabama voters a new choice. There's three people that have the power to help that process start. It's Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Governor Kay Ivey. They're all ducking it.

MOORE: Amanda, they can't get him off the ballot. I mean, they can't change the ballot at this point.

CARPENTER: Luther Strange should step down and they could trigger a new special election. Luther Strange is almost at the end of the term anyway.

MOORE: Amanda, I would love to see that happen. I would love to see Moore just stepped out of that seat. He's not going to do it. They have a choice between these two.


BUMP: But that would also start a whole new court battle. I mean, I mean, I don't want --


BUMP: -- I do want to point out that you know it's OK to equate Robert Byrd and Roy Moore.


BUMP: To equate Franken and Trump is a little bizarre.

But I mean, look, the question for the Republican Party long-term is look what happened in Fox News pulling between October and November. October and November, men and women have centrally had the same view of Moore and Doug Jones in the state of Alabama. After these allegations come out, men supported Moore by nine points, women supported Doug Jones by more than 20 points, right?

This is a question for the Republican Party. Do they want to be the party that not only has someone who has been alleged of sexual assault as the president, but also then looks the other way as a senator stakes --


[20:15:02] MOORE: But do you think the Democrat -- do you think the Democrats should expel the senator from Minnesota?


BERMAN: We're going to wrap this up here. We have three more weeks to discuss it in this election, if it lasts three more weeks at this point.

Stephen Moore, Philip Bump, Amanda Carpenter, thanks so much.

All right. Sadly, there is yet more along these lines. Allegations against Charlie Rose, the reaction where he works, the explanation he is offering.

And later, exclusive CNN reporting on the death toll in Puerto Rico, nearly times higher than the official number.


BERMAN: The day began with the Roy Moore revelation by Kellyanne Conway, it ends with Charlie Rose accused of unwanted sexual advances toward women, unwelcomed nudity, lewd phone calls, groping. In the hour since "The Washington Post" story hit, CBS News has suspended him. PBS halted distribution of his late-night talk show. And Rose himself has weighed in.

He becomes the latest but almost certainly not the last man to be accused of or have admitted to sexual misconduct. In fact, he's the second one today, joining Glen Thrush in what is now a long line of journalists, politicians, media figures, executives, pundits and entertainers. Thrush, of course, a "New York Times" White House correspondent. "The Times" today suspended him and he has issued an apology as has Charlie Rose of sorts.

Amy Brittain broke the Rose story late today in "The Washington Post". She joins us now.

Amy, look, your piece, you detailed multiple allegations of Charlie Rose making unwanted sexual advances towards women that included groping, these phone calls, even walking around naked in front of some women. Can you explain this?

AMY BRITTAIN, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: Well, I would say that the allegations are certainly very troubling and the reporting took weeks of speaking with women who worked with Rose from the span of the 1990s until very recently. And the very troubling thing about their allegations is that there were so many similarities and the stories that they told.

And let me reiterate that these are women who in many cases did not know -- did not even know one another and worked for Rose at different points in their life. And there were certain patterns of behavior that were alarming, concerning the groping, the nudity, touching them, late-night sexual phone calls. And there seem to be very clear consistencies and sort of how he would carry out these interactions towards women.

[20:20:02] BERMAN: Consistencies. And was disturbing to me is some case, at least a broad knowledge, some of this stuff was happening. It seemed like an open secret among some of Charlie Rose's longtime staffers. And in some cases, some of it was sort of reported.

How did it stay quiet for so long?

BRITTAIN: Well, I think you have to look at "The Charlie Rose Show" and look at the amount of power that he has. I mean, he is one of the most respected journalists and TV hosts in the nation.

And the unique thing about his show is that it's a very small staff, roughly 12 to 15 individuals. There's no HR department. The only person essentially that anyone could report a complaint to would be his executive producer who have been with him since 1991.

And multiple women told us that they felt like they really could not report this behavior, and we did speak to one woman who did report it and she was fired soon after reporting it.

BERMAN: Charlie Rose did release a statement today. It said, in part: It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I expect responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.

So, what else did Rose have to say about these allegations against him?

BRITTAIN: I mean, I read that statement and I just have to be clear to all the viewers, that we sent Charlie Rose a detailed list of questions, with every single allegation that was going to be contained in this story 24 hours before publication. At no point in those hours that he wants to engage on any sort of line by line, you know, challenge to any accusation in the story.

He issued this general statement late in the day today. If he does want to come back to me and say what specifically he believes is inaccurate concerning accusations, I would really like to hear from him, because no one has told me anything specifically about what he would challenge in the story.


BRITTAIN: And we have corroborated these women's accounts extensively through emails, through friends, family members, ex-boyfriends, people that they told at the time of the incident.

BERMAN: All right. Amy Brittain, stick around.

I want to bring in CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter, also CNN contributor and former "New York Times" media writer Bill Carter.

And, Brian, I want to start with you. Charlie Rose has been suspended from CBS. PBS has halted his show. Do you think his broadcasting days are over?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I would be surprised if CBS brought him back to the morning show that he's hosted for the last five years. He has a lot of questions he needs to answer. The tables need to be turned on him now, the interviewer. Now, he needs to become the interviewee.

This is the continued domino effect, John, that you were just talking about. One whisper network which was women sharing information about men who act like predators has been replaced by another whisper network. Now, the whispers in Hollywood and in this city in New York and Washington and elsewhere are about what man is it going to be accused next because journalists like Amy are doing these incredible investigations corroborating these accounts and like you said it's not going to end with Charlie Rose.

BERMAN: I don't know, accused may not even be the right word. Uncovered next might be the right word.

And, Bill Carter, you know Charlie Rose. I mean, this is a guy who's an elder statesman of TV, highly respected, widely admired. You know, a TV icon and so far is there any left true at this point.


BERMAN: You know, what's the impact of this revelation?

BILL CARTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: Well, I think it's enormous impact I think -- you know, I know Charlie well; I have been on the show. I think, you know, he had this reputation of being this, you know, intellectual sort of guy and certainly a guy what you know supposedly was accepting of women. He had a lot of women on his staff, maybe we now know the reason why.

But, you know, this -- a behavior sounds like sort of like guardia senior (ph) or something you know? Except I guess in his case, send your citizen kind of, because he's been around for a long time.

But it's just appalling behavior, and I don't -- I think it's absolutely career-ending. I just don't see how anyone comes back from this. I think it's too much for anybody to now accept him as at what he was before. BERMAN: Amy, the part of his apology if you can call it that is this

line: I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings even though I now realize I was mistaken.

In your extensive reporting, was there any sense among these eight women that these feelings were shared?

BRITTAIN: Absolutely not, and these interviews with these women, I just want to reiterate, they took place over hours and hours of conversations that we had with them, over an extensive period of time. In some cases, you know they would go back and look through emails and perhaps they had you know complimented Mr. Rose about a certain show or said that they admired his work and looking back, they say that they felt like they sent those emails in a sense of, you know, a power dynamic.

He was their boss and many of them were young and he was the only reference that they had on their resume. But I just want to say that that none of them said it was in any way consensual.

[20:25:01] They had that no desire to have these interactions with them.

BERMAN: Yes, and that gets me back then to one of the more disturbing aspects of this, Brian, which is that the executive producer -- his longtime executive producer dismissed this as Charlie being Charlie.

STELTER: Yes, and now, she regrets that certainly. Others regret looking the other way. We have a similar language talking about these stories, whether it's Harvey Weinstein or Roy Moore or Charlie Rose, each case very different, and it's -- you know, a little bit troubling to try to put them all together because each case is different. But the similarities are the language. We talk about people looking the other way, people not realizing it was right in front of them. And this is all fundamentally about power dynamics, as Amy said.

BERMAN: In this case, it's different because they were told, they were literally told this was going on and they just think Charlie being Charlie.

STELTER: That's right.

BERMAN: Brian Stelter, Bill Carter, Amy Brittain, thank you so much and thank you for your reporting.

All right. So, you are the leader of the free world, what do you do to spend the weekend? How about tweeting about a football player who didn't stand for the national anthem, the father of a basketball player who you don't think paid you the proper respect, trying to define what all says about this president from someone who wrote the book on him, literally and seriously. That's next.


BERMAN: The president was busy on Twitter this weekend and into this morning. The leader of the free world trained his focus on an NFL player, writing: Marshawn Lynch of the NFL's Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican anthem and sits down to boos for our national anthem. Great disrespect. Next time, NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.

The president also took aim at LaVar Ball, the father of one of the UCL players released from a Chinese jail. He wrote: Now the three basketball players are out of China and safe from years in jail, LaVar Ball the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail.

That comment of the American president, saying U.S. citizens should be left in foreign jail raised some eye brows to say at least. Reporters ask Sarah Sanders about it at the today's briefing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he believe that he really should have left the players in jail?

SARAH SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: No I think if that's the case he wouldn't have taken the action that he did and certainly acted in order to help really -- get those individuals released and brought back to the country. Matthew.

MATTHEW NUSSBAUM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: So falling on that, if that's not how he feels, then why did he say that he should have left them in jail?

SANDERS: Look the president was --

NUSSBAUM: What are we supposed to take from that?

SANDERS: Yes -- well the president was -- it was a rhetorical response so criticism by the father.


BERMAN: A rhetorical response she says. Does that make any sense in this context? Don't answer that was a rhetorical question. President Trump's biographer Michael D'Antonio joins us now.

Michael, you look at some of these tweets and some of these fights that he gets in verbally as well, as sort of trying to place himself in jux position of the other. Put the other in his place, what do you mean by that?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, DONALD TRUMP'S BIOGRAPHER: Well he's always looking for an enemy and I actually think he is uncomfortable without one. Yes, this is a way of getting attention. But it's energizing to him. He finds it exciting. He said to me when I interviewed him, I've always like to fight, all kinds of fights, he likes physical fights he's -- he likes arguing with people. So he's got to have an other to go up against then. I don't think it's an accident that it's primarily Hispanic, African-American, women, you know, members of and already groups, less powerful people. Those are the folks he picks on. He identifies them as the other. And then he goes at it. And, you know, would Mr. Ball, he is a controversial character on his own. I think the president is aware of that. So, let's mix it up with this fellow because its fun and I can prevail.

BERMAN: You also note that there's an element of this or it's a gain for the president. It seems like sometimes the people he is targeting are props and some sort of play.

D'ANTONIO: Well we're all props. You know, this is his drama and we are all either supporting players or occasionally we're dragged on to the main stage for combat. You know, in this case he's sought out some people to pose against and to fight. We're supposed to watch. He loves getting away with it. This is -- another element of this is there's -- it's like an arsonist who sets a fire and then returns to the scene to watch the firefighters struggle to put it out and relishes the idea that he's not getting caught.

The president is -- we spoke once about this and he said, oh, I don't think I got in trouble for doing that one. And that he kind of beamed, like I could attack this person and I got away with it. And that was marvelous for him.

BERMAN: Does he always get away with it though? In this case LaVar Ball, Jeff Flake, we should is, you know, white Mormon from Arizona. So it's not only African-Americans he got away, but he gets away so far with going after Jeff Flake, LaVar Ball, (INAUDIBLE). But there has been examples where he picks a fight that we don't know, if he's going get away with -- James Comey for instance --


BERMAN: -- he's going after a bit on Twitter, quite a bit.

D'ANTONIO: He makes mistakes. He is despite his bragging claiming that he's got the highest IQ around and all of best words. His judgment is flawed and I think that it's because this is an emotional endeavor for him. He's very much driven by instinct. So, this is also the thing that he does well. He's reverting constantly to the thing he did before he became president. And it's being president that's difficult for him.

BERMAN: But there is a debate whether this is some kind of strategy or three dimensional stress (ph) or as like (INAUDIBLE), you know, a great CNN political writers notes, zero dimensional guest. Where the president is just saying stuff because he likes to say stuff.

D'ANTONIO: Well, and it's all a blur to the rest of us. You know, if he's attacking one person today, another person tomorrow and three days from now it's a third person, who can keep up and hold him accountable. He is the Hoodini (ph) of accountability. He escapes accountability at all cost. And I think he does it 90% at a time.

BERMAN: Well, if he's a Hoodini (ph), picked a fight with David Copperfield and LaVar Ball, we'll see how that goes. Michael D'Antonio, great to have you. And that man LaVar Ball will be on "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon at 10:00 p.m. Let's just say you going to expect the boys risk conversation. [20:35:03] Coming up here, two months after Hurricane Maria, the official death toll is 55 in Puerto Rico. But tonight, new and exclusive reporting from CNN's Leyla Santiago finds that the number of hurricane related deaths are well into the hundreds. Her report next.


BERMAN: A CNN exclusive investigation now. Two months ago today Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. There are still many without clean water and the government claims it doesn't know exactly how many homes and businesses have power. Two months in, that is not the only indicator of how Hurricane Maria affect the more than 3 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico. There's also the death toll which officially is 55. But tonight that number is coming into question because the CNN investigation has revealed the number could be much higher, much, much higher.

Here's Leyla Santiago's exclusive report.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are is images they'd rather remember, the ones capturing Jose Pepe Sanchez joking with his family. But there's another image, his daughter Roxanne cannot stop thinking about.

[20:40:03] The moment she opened the door and found him on the ground.

(on-camera): It's going to be sensible (INAUDIBLE). So she says that Maria had not pass straight through here. She believes her dad would still be alive today.

(voice-over): She believes his nerves, stress during Hurricane Maria led to a heart attack when Maria struck in September. He had a hear attack in February but the family says, he had recovered. Boarding up windows himself the day before the storm.

Just minutes before Maria made landfalls, she tells of her father's complaint of breathing complications. When her uncle called 911 he said help was not available in the interior part of the island.

(on-camera): No one from the government has come to ask questions about the cause or the situation surrounding his death.

(voice-over): Over the same month last year, the number of deaths in Puerto Rico increased by 472. The government is reporting 55 people died at the hands of Hurricane Maria.

HECTOR PESQUERA, SECRETARY OF PUBLIC SAFETY, PUERTO RICO: It's accurate based on the factual information that we received, yes.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): This is Puerto Rico's Secretary of Public Safety in charge of the death count.

CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR, SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO: It appears for whatever reason that the death toll is much higher than what has been reported.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Politicians, news outlets like CNN have raised questions about the accuracy of those numbers. So we decided to count for ourselves. CNN called 279 funeral homes. We were only able to reach about half of them. We asked, how many of the deaths were believed to be related to Maria. Despite the official death toll, they claim 499 hurricane-related deaths in the month after the storm. That's nine times the government's number.

(on-camera): Why the gap?

PESQUERA: Because as I said before I work on factual, I can't work on I believe.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): So we described Pepe's case.

(on-camera): Gentleman is at home, he has a stroke, the person with him call 911. 911 says, we can't get there in time because the 150 mile per hour winds are pounding as right now. Is that a hurricane related death?

PESQUERA: Absolutely.

SANTIAGO (on-camera): OK, allow me to introduce you to Jose, Pepe. That was his case.

(voice-over): A case not included in Puerto Rico's death toll. The discrepancy begins here, the death certificate. A doctor marked Pepe's death natural. Cases marked natural aren't supposed to go to forensic. In forensic says, if they don't get the cases there's no way to investigate if it's related to the hurricane. On the certificate, doctors are not obligated to report if the hurricane contributed to the death.

PESQUERA: It's quite frankly, they should, but you're right. Will they be obligated to do it by law, no, but I still submit to you that there's a moral and ethical responsibility to do that.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Pesquera plans on asking legislatures to change the law, require doctors to flag natural disasters on death certificates. And that's not the only issue, he admits he needs people to flag cases too.

PESQUERA: And you're the first person, the first media outlet and I'll say publicly, that brings in information for us to verify.

SANTIAGO (on-camera): But is that the media's job or is that your job?

PESQUARA: So, it's our job to take care of 2,900 bodies doing every month to see that the doctor -- the doctor says they're fine, that the it does occur in the way that it happened.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Pesquera tells us he will investigate, the multiple cases CNN brought to his attention. (on-camera): Why is the government of Puerto Rico not double checking and why isn't the government of Puerto Rico doing what CNN did, calling the funerals homes one by one? Visiting these families one by one?

PESQUERA: Funeral homes to begin with are not the person to tell us what the people die of or not die of.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): He says families should notifying the government if they believe Hurricane Maria is responsible for a death. Loved ones like Pepe's wife, who told us as the time the priority was not to make sure their loved one was counted in a statistic rather to make sure he had a proper goodbye.

(on-camera): They were married when she was 20, and she misses him.

(voice-over): Families trying to make sense of tragedy and a death toll.


BERMAN: All right, Leyla Santiago joins us now from San Juan. First of all Leyla a very important report, thank you for bringing it tonight. There's a major discrepancy here in these death toll numbers. How are officials responding to this reporting?

SANTIAGO: Well you heard the secretary NRP say CNN was the first to bring specific cases to him. He said he gave us his word. He's going to look into them, investigate them and if justified, add them to the official death toll count.

[20:45:02] We also checked in with forensics, they told me that they sent people to funerals homes, cemeteries, hospitals to look into suspicious cases. And each time, according to forensics they were false claims. Even when so far as to call them rumors. John.

BERMAN: All right, another important element down there. Getting power fully restored still a huge priority. And I know you spoke to the CEO of Whitefish today that's the company who have store power. What did the CEO have to say?

SANTIAGO: Right. That's been a very controversial contract, but then big news today out of Whitefish, the CEO saying Andy Techmanski saying that the government of Puerto Rico owes them $83 million and as a result, despite the fact that he claims he is asking multiple times for payment, because he has not been paid, he said, he is being forced to stop all work from Whitefish until he can get that payment.

Remember, earlier the government of Puerto Rican canceled the controversial contract with Whitefish, but they were scheduled to continue work until the end of this month. According to Whitefish they have not been paid and so they'll have to stop now. What that means in terms of if there will be delays or what that means in terms of people getting power back here on the island and its progress, we'll have to wait and find out. But we did check in with the government, the PREPA, the power authority tells us that because the Whitefish contract is under investigation, they are not making any more comments on that relationship with the company.

BERMAN: Well certainly can't help with hundreds of thousands of people still without power. Leyla Santiago again, thank you so much for your reporting.

Up next, back to our top story tonight, sexual misconduct delegation against Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. We're going to hear from a childhood friend of accuser Leigh Corfman about what she knew and when.


[20:50:05] BERMAN: Back to our top story tonight. The sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. This morning one of his accusers Leigh Corfman appeared on "Today" show. She was 14 years old when she alleges Moore inappropriately touched her, molested her. This is part of what she said this morning.


LEIGH CORFMAN, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: He removed my clothing. He left the room and came back in wearing his white underwear. And he touched me over my clothing, what was left of it. And he tried to get me to touch him as well. And at that point I pulled back and said that I was not comfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell anyone at the time?

CORFMAN: Right after it, I told two of my good friends. And then I told one other. And they told me how bad an idea this was.


BERMAN: One of Leigh Corfman's friends when she was 14 spoke to our Gary Tuchman today about she knew and when. Gary joins me now from a community meeting in Gadsden, Alabama. First off Gary, what's this meeting all about?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well John, this is the Back Forty beer company. It's a craft brewery in the town of Gadsden, Alabama. And this is the hometown of Judge Roy Moore. Now this sort of town hall, they didn't call it exactly a town hall, but that's what represent it just came to an end a short time ago. More than 100 people came into this facility. Some people against Roy Moore, some people for Roy Moore, some people have no opinions or whatsoever, but they all want to talk about the importance of unifying this town, because this town is going through a lot and it was very civil I will tell you that.

Judge Roy Moore denies all the allegations. Today we talked to a life long friend of Leigh Corfman. Her name is Patti Spradlin, and Patti tells us she is a conservative Christian and avid Republican has never voted for a Democrat but strongly supports her friend and she told us about the times in middle school and high school when she and Leigh and other friends would hang out at the mall here in Gadsden.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): And did you see Roy Moore at the mall?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): And how many times do you think you saw him at the mall when you were 15 (INAUDIBLE) --

SPRADLIN: Almost every weekend.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And what was he doing?

SPRADLIN: Walking, always alone by himself, and with a very wandering eye.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Wandering, looking at what?

SPRADLIN: Wandering, looking toward -- that was one thing that was kind of an unspoken among our friends is that you didn't dare make eye contact with him because we felt like that that would invite him to pursue us or maybe cross over and get closer to us, that sort of things.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): So what did you think he was doing? Do you think he was looking for high school girls?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): I mean was that well known among you and your friends?

SPRADLIN: Yes, without a doubt.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): 1979, Leigh told a couple of her friends something happened with Roy Moore?

SPRADLIN: Correct.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Something bad. One of those friends then told you, 37 years ago. And all about all this years.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): What did that friend tell you happened really?

SPRADLIN: That this person that we were very familiar with from the mall had taken Leigh to a house, to his house, and taken her clothes off and touched her. What we felt about that person in the mall was true, that he was indeed what we thought that he was. And he was after what we thought he was after. And he proved it with Leigh Corfman. TUCHMAN (voice-over): Since you went public, you've talked to her on the phone?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): You texted her?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): What have you said to her?

SPRADLIN: That I'm so proud of her.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): What did she say back to you that you recall?

SPRADLIN: That she loved me.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And then what did you say to her?

SPRADLIN: I said thank you for being my friend.


TUCHMAN: Once again, Roy Moore has said none of this is true. Last week at a rally he held a news conference afterwards, we asked him if he's ever touched any of these accusers. He would not the answer question and walked out the room with his wife. John.

BERMAN: All right Gary Tuchman, for us in Gadsden, Alabama tonight. Gary, thank you.

The Justice Department trying to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner? Is it really about the president punishing CNN?


BERMAN: The Justice Department today filed suit to try to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner are parent company. The question is does the president's the antipathy towards CNN have anything to do with this? A busy night for Brian Stelter. Brian, you know, look AT&T's Randall Stephenson responded to this station by the DOJ, his response was, you know, does it have anything to do with CNN, he says, frankly, I don't know.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: But at court, at trial we may find out. The official answer from the government is that this deal is anti-competitive, and that's why the DOJ is going to court to block it. But given president Trump's animosity toward this network, his tweets demeaning CNN, also his tweets criticizing the Justice Department, there's a lot of skepticism about whether his fingerprints might be on this. And that's what AT&T wants to find out it believes in the months to come as this goes toward court, they might be able to find it out.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin know that he may be deposed in this case which is fascinating. On another unrelated note or is it, special report tonight, "Late Night in the Age of Trump" it air just moments from now. What can we expect?

STELTER: You know, we could use some laughs after a day like this. So many crazy headlines. We decided to do this hour-long documentary about late-night because it's really has been changed profoundly because of President Trump. People like Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Trevor Noah. They are stars have been on the rise, thanks to President Trump. They are sort of a liberal antagonist for this president. In some cases I would argue they were actually better at it, than Democratic politicians. So we go behind the scenes tonight.

[21:00:00] BERMAN: Brian Stelter, thank you very much. And thank you for watching 360. The affirmation CNN Special, "Late Night in the Age of Trump", starts now.