Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Finally Weighs In On Roy Moore Allegations; Trump: Putin Speak After Russian Leader's Assad Meeting. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 21, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- choice between Doug Jones as the Democratic candidate and Roy Moore the Republican that Moore is the better candidate. Now he never came out and said that voters should elect Roy Moore.

But he was very critical of Doug Jones. He described him as a liberal Democrat. He said he wouldn't support Republican issues on things like tax reform and health care. And if that's who the Alabama voters wanted to send to the Senate then it wouldn't end up being a good decision for them.

And, Brooke, I have to point out he was repeatedly asked two or three different times about what he would say to the accusers who have leveled these charges sexual impropriety -- in particular sexual impropriety against women that are understand age.

And the president just repeatedly said over and over again he denies it. He even said that he denies it empathically. And, Brooke, this is a stark change of direction for this White House. For the most part, they have refused to weigh in at all on the Alabama Senate race.

Other than to say over and over again that it is up to the people of Alabama to decide whether or not Roy Moore should get elected. That tone changed a little bit in the last 24 hours when both Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Sanders did point out that Doug Jones, the Democrat in their mind is a liberal Democrat.

Well now you have the president who has no spoken on camera at all about this Alabama Senate race taking it a step further, basically saying that he respects Roy Moore's -- his own defense in this particular instance and that Doug Jones is not the proper choice for the voters of Alabama.

This is a stark contrast from what you've heard from numerous other Republican leaders including the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who have called on Roy Moore to step away from this Senate race.

And, Brooke, I have to imagine these changes, the calculation quite a bit for Republicans in Alabama who were facing the possibility of Moore losing that seat on December 12th. And it also makes life difficult for Mitch McConnell.

This is somebody who has essentially said that he wants no part of Roy Moore. And as a result, Roy Moore has been very critical of McConnell and he said that it's time for Mitch McConnell to step down.

So we have a stark difference of opinion here between the leading Republicans in Washington. And this comes just about two weeks before voters go to the polls in Alabama.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: let me say this again, David, made the point, I'm going to make it again. We now have the president of the president of the United States endorsing an accused child molester in Roy Moore.

Areva, to you, you just heard part of what, you know, Ryan, explaining what the president said. What's your reaction to President Trump -- his explanation for not believing these women? Not believing these Moore accusers.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, Trump is a sympathizer for men like Roy Moore because he has his own issues. So he's never going to come out attack Roy Moore because there are 16 women that have accused him.

And I agree with, David. This press conference wasn't about presenting new evidence or doing anything to address the so-called legal issues with respect to these women. It was about making a statement about Roy Moore and his support of Donald Trump's agenda and Donald Trump's support of him.

What those lawyers did I will just call it legal gibberish because it meant nothing. And this is why so many women don't come out because defendants go after them and they go after them hard. They hired lawyers. They hired investigators.

They went and found witnesses. And if these women had a team of lawyers like that they could go out and find witnesses that support their cases. They could go out and investigate the facts but usually they can't because they don't have anyone.

And that lawyer talked about financial gain, what is the gain for these women? The statute of limitations has have long passed. There's not going to be any civil loses. There's not going to be any civil judgments.

There is no money that these women are going to benefit from by telling these stories. And I think what these men just did is horrendous.

I think if quells, the women who have been so brave and so courageous in coming out. And I hope that the women who aren't speaking up will not be silenced by that nonsense that we just heard from those lawyers.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Particularly, the lawyer that was talking about, you know, the disciplinary problems of the 14-year-old. Like digging into that kind of detail seems to be sort of the definition of character assassination of a child -- you know, going into the history of a child. It just was extraordinary. And a lot of those details, you had to sort of wonder about the real

relevance of the case. You know, the girl being picked up a mile away. Well, it's not impossible for a child to get a mile away from their house -- I mean or for memories to be hazy this many years after.

So, it just really was troubling because so many women are coming out about things that happened to them so many years ago. And I think that there would be a chilling effect after watching a press conference like that.


[15:35:00] BALDWIN: Let me go -- I want to go back to, Ryan Nobles, because there are some bits and pieces of his conversation with the president and the press that's coming in.

And so, Ryan, was the president also asked to weigh in on the sexual harassment allegations swirling on Capitol Hill? And did he respond to that?

NOBLES: He did, there were questions asked to him about both John Conyers and Al Franken, he basically punted on both of those. He said he didn't want to weigh in on whether or not Al Franken should resign.

And on the John Conyers point, he said he had just read that report and he didn't want to get into it. So, it's interesting that he decided not to take the opportunity to pile on the Democrats while at the same time as he was defending the Republican which he's done quite freakily over the last couple of weeks.

But I should also point out, Brooke, that the president was specifically asked whether or not he would go to Alabama and campaign for Roy Moore.

Now, if you go back to that primary race between the president's preferred candidate at the time Luther Strange and Roy Moore, the president promised that he was going to come back and campaign for...

BALDWIN: Here he is, Ryan, here's the president. Let's listen to this exchange.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat. Jones -- I've looked at his record it's terrible in crime, it's terrible in the border, it's terrible in the military.

I can tell you for a fact we do not need somebody that's going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad with a military, bad for the Second Amendment.


TRUMP: Well he denies it. Look, he denies it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to -- are you going to campaign for


TRUMP: I mean if you look at what -- what is really going on and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn't happen and you know you have to listen to him also.


TRUMP: You're talking about he said 40 years ago, this did not happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to campaign for him? Are you going to campaign for Roy Moore?

TRUMP: We are letting you know next week, but I can tell you don't need somebody who is soft on crime like Jones.


TRUMP: Roy Moore denies it. That's all I can say, he denies it. And by the way, he told me that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe him?

TRUMP: Women are very special. I think it's a very special time because a lot of things are coming out and I think that's good for our society and I think it's very, very good for women and I'm very happy a lot of these things are coming out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Al Franken resign now?

TRUMP: I'm very happy -- I'm very happy it's being exposed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Al Franken resign now, because there are pictures of him groping one.

TRUMP: I don't want to speak to Al Franken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about John Conyers?

TRUMP: I don't know what happened. I just heard about Conyers a few minutes ago. As far as Franken is concerned, he's going to have to speak for himself. I'd rather have him speak.


TRUMP: We had a great call with President Putin. We are talking about east Syria. And of course, we are talking about North Korea. We had a conversation that lasted almost an hour and a half, and talking very strongly about bringing peace to Syria. We're talking very strongly about North Korea, and it's great.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The AT&T-Time-Warner merger, sir, what do you think about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The AT&T-Time-Warner merger.

TRUMP: I'm not going to get involved in litigation, but personally I've always felt that was a deal that's not good for the country.

I'm not getting involved in litigation, but personally, I felt prices are going to go up, I don't think it's a good deal for the country. I think your pricing's going to go up. I don't think it's a good deal for the country. So I'm not going to get involved in litigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you believe Roy Moore's denials? Do you believe him?

TRUMP: Well, he denies it. I mean Roy Moore denies it. By the way, he did say total denial. And I do have to say, 40 years is a long time. He's run eight races and this has never come up, so 40 years is a long time.

The women are Trump voters -- most of them are Trump voters. All you can do is you have to do what you have to do. He totally denies it.



TRUMP: I do. I really do. Thank you. Have a good thanksgiving.



BALDWIN: All right. So, I knew that audio was tough. It was the rotors of Marine One.

[15:40:00] He's headed out of town to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. But again the headline here is that the president addressing the scandal that has engulfed the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama Roy Moore.

And the president now has officially said the voters of Alabama do not want a liberal democrat in that seat. And again, you heard these questions from reporters.

Do you believe the accusers? Do you believe Roy Moore? And he kept saying, well, Moore totally denies it. For people who are just tuning in, David Chalian, put this all in perspective for us.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, let's just pick up right where you left off, Brooke, which is -- so if you're asked do you believe the -- do you believe Moore and what Moore is saying here, and your answer is, well, he totally denies it, that's a yes.

You believe Roy Moore over these women because otherwise you wouldn't go on to make the case that a liberal Democrat is better than somebody you believed to be a child molester as he has been accused to be by some women.

Again, we have the president of the United States in America in a totally different place than the rest of his elected leadership party. Again, not -- that's not necessarily new, this week seeing this establishment grassroots divide that Donald Trump is on an island in terms of the Republican Party here.

Mitch McConnell came out and said, a week ago, I believe the women. Paul Ryan, I believe the women. In fact, we're having a massive cultural moment beyond just the Roy Moore scenario, Brooke, where -- look at Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell this morning about their colleague Charlie Rose.

They were anguished but they came and said I believe the women here. This is a moment where everyone in America is hearing for the first time. Brave women come forward and speak about this experience.

And there seems to be one person in American leadership right now who says I don't believe the women. I believe Roy Moore. I believe his denials. That's President Trump who has just endorsed an accused child molester to be the next senator from the state of Alabama.

BALDWIN: And it's really been weeks of silence. Maeve, to you, this seems like a conscious decision to endorse him today.

RESTON: Absolutely. I mean we saw, you know, over the weekend, the last couple of days, folks like Marc Short pointing out that you know, Trump had not been down to campaign for Roy Moore. And so sort of sending signals that they're -- you know we're not going to be fully behind him.

And then you saw the Kellyanne moment yesterday where she came forward and essentially made the White House position clear, and then Donald Trump just now saying over and over again not that he just denies them but a total denial, and clearly taking that to be the truth.

So, it's really a remarkable moment. And Trump did try to -- President Trump did try to have it both ways a little bit there saying that he's proud of all of the women that are coming forward at this moment. And then it's a -- you know, a special time for women but very bluntly questioning the stories and the truthfulness of these women.

BALDWIN: And, Areva, do you buy that he was sort of trying to -- he being the president, trying to have it both ways?

MARTIN: No, I think he was very clear in stating that he doesn't believe the women. And that he supports Roy Moore 100 percent. He kept saying that over and over again, although he didn't use those words.

This is really a difficult time for women who are coming forward. And this is what they fear. They fear teams of lawyers, teams of investigators going through every piece of their history, their medical history, their dating history, where they worked, their job history, and especially attacks them in ways that sometimes beyond repair.

And it's that kind of vicious attack, that kind of aggressive attack that prevents women from coming forward. And I think it's important to note, we're not in a court of law, none of the so-called witnesses that support Roy Moore are under oath.

None of them have been cross examined by other attorneys. So there's been no, you know, evidentiary hearing on any of this. But this is not the issue for someone running for Senate. The issue for the Senate is character, integrity, and that person's leadership ability.

So the standard that we would apply in the courtroom beyond reasonable doubt, preponderance of evidence doesn't apply when we're talking about electing someone who's going to be making law, not just for Alabama but for this entire country. And I think that's lost on this president.

And I hope women who are watching this president will remember this in 2020 because for me, this is a slap in the face for women who represent women in these kind of lawsuits, and women who have been victimized and who have the courage now to step forward. Our president is not standing with us.

BALDWIN: Back to the president and to you, Ryan, at the White House, I'm curious in this quick gaggle before he headed out of town, did he at all talk about -- you had mentioned some questions are thrown at him about Congressman Conyers and Senator Al Franken.

[15:45:00] Did he talk all about, you know, news has come out in the last couple of days about all of this money, the sexual harassment, you know, settlements that had been paid out.

And so many leaders in Congress had no idea about any of it. Did he make news on that, or that lawmakers should be revealed to sitting members of Congress who are facing accusations?

NOBLES: No, he did it all, Brooke. And it's interesting that he...

BALDWIN: He did.

NOBLES: When the door was open on this -- Democratic members of Congress have been accused of sexual improprieties, he didn't seem to take the bait.

I do want to point out something important that the president was asked if he's willing and is planning on campaigning for Roy Moore in the Senate race in the last two weeks.

And he left the door open to the possibility that he may travel to Alabama and campaign with Roy Moore which would be remarkable considering the fact that there's an ad right now that's being run by Doug Jones, the Democrat in this race.

That uses the comments from the president's own daughter, Ivanka Trump when she was asked about the Roy Moore case and she responded that there's a special place in hell for people who abuse children.

That's actually being used in an ad right now. So juxtapose that with the possibility that her father, the president of the United States, could theoretically travel to Alabama sometime in the next two weeks.

And campaign for the man who his daughter was talking about would be pretty remarkable. But at this point, this president, this White House has left open that possibility.

BALDWIN: David, what are -- Maeve -- Maeve, to you...


BALDWIN: Hang on, let me go to, Ryan's, point. I think she said there was a special place in hell for men who prey on children. She was specifically inserting herself over the weekend with regard to this hole story with Roy Moore.

And here you have -- you know, she didn't say much obviously when her father faced all those, you know, accusations, and now you have her father on the other end of the spectrum. How do you square the two?

RESTON: Well, I think that we have seen that she has very little influence over her father during the course of this administration. I mean there have been a parted ways on a number of issues and this idea that everyone had joined the campaign.

That she would be the moderating force, so that she would be, you know, the whisper to her father has not proved to be true. And, you know, he didn't say anything in those comments that seem sensitive about the women's allegations or, you know, how this was affecting them.

I mean, he's clearly not being influenced by his daughter on this issue. And to Ryan's point, also, it's very hard to hear that audio, but I thought Trump did say -- did address at one point that the allegations against members of the Congress should perhaps -- should be -- that their names should be revealed but correct me if I'm wrong, the audio is very...

BALDWIN: Yes, that's true. That's true.

RESTON: Right, so I think that that was significant in the idea of, you know, trying to have it -- have it both ways or softening the blow a little bit.

BALDWIN: David Chalian, back to the potential for Donald Trump to head down to Alabama to stump for Roy Moore. I mean let's go back, remember, he picked the wrong horse, right? As you pointed out it was the Bannon wing who chose Roy Moore who ended up winning initially and he's the one who's up for the job. David, are you with me?


BALDWIN: So do you think -- I mean I guess, Trump sort of left the door open, we'll find out in the next week or so, whether perhaps post thanksgiving that he'll head to Alabama to stump for him.

And we heard those, you know, Roy Moore folks down there talking about how Trump explode the Republican establishment strategy wise, would it be a smart move for both parties, for the president to go to Alabama?

CHALIAN: I certainly think that it could help Roy Moore if Donald Trump went down to Alabama and campaigned for him. I think that could help Moore build back. He clearly has lost a significant amount of support, especially among women.

And Donald Trump may help bring some of those Republican women perhaps back into the fold. I think your ears were tuned exactly to what I was listening to, too, it almost seemed like a plea, if not an invitation, from the Moore campaign folks there asking Donald Trump to come down.

Because they understand the connection between their voters and those core Trump-based voters. Whether or not the Democrats can make a ton of hay with that, Brooke, as you see, Doug Jones now has had two ads where he's using conservative voices critiquing Roy Moore over these allegations.

He's not trying to say, hey, let me get Barack Obama down here or I want national famous Democrats down here because he understands that does not work in the state of Alabama.

But he is making the conservative critique of Roy Moore a centerpiece of his campaign to try to keep some of those Republicans who have drifted from Moore off the stage.


BALDWIN: Let me -- hang on, Maeve, I've got one more voice, Nancy Collins, has sat down people on ABC anchors interview the president in the past.

[15:50:00] And so, you know, you originally said he has to talk to me today because of the news with regard to Charlie Rose. Now, he's been fired by CBS News and PBS.

But you've been listening to this conversation and the news that the president just made at the White House. What do you make of all of this?

NANCY COLLINS, JOURNALIST WHO APPEARED ON THE CHARLIE ROSE SHOW: Well, I'm a little surprised he was stupid to actually go through with it on the one hand.

BALDWIN: Go through with it, what?

COLLINS: Go through with it to actually support Moore. Although I'm not kind of surprised either because, you know, once he makes up his mind, he makes up his mind. This is such a bad signal for everybody.

I have relatives who live in Alabama who say he should have been not been elected years ago. I don't think he's really representing the people of Alabama and moreover he's -- you know, he's very contrary.

It's almost like he wants to go up against this current thing about sexual assault. I'll show you, you know? I will continue -- I'll support somebody who has those -- who has those charges. And it's almost like, you know how he is, he kind of behaves like a child in a way.

BALDWIN: But are you -- I mean you and I talked during the campaign when all of that started happening with that tape. We know that tape and the accusations.


BALDWIN: And I'm just I don't know, I think a lot of people were thinking he wouldn't really touch it because by touching the Roy Moore story and really being on the record, that would put a spotlight on his own personal history, and those accusations, and that's where you're surprised.

COLLINS: Well, if you think you've done nothing wrong, you don't mind the spotlight. And He thinks he did nothing wrong with all of this because he's never had to pay the price. There are no consequences to any of his acts.

And also he is so contrary and again, if somebody tells him not to do something, he'll do something, even something this stupid. I've been with those girls in that situation before.

When I was young and I was 21, and I was working for Women's Wear Daily and I got my first big job and I had an apartment and I was so happy to be there. Actually, I've never told this story before, but I got a call to interview with a big Hollywood producer. I went in there. I was thrilled to death.

I knew this was a great opening job for me. And I sat with him. He was a very nice man, by the way. I sat with him and during the interview he said, will you do me a favor? I said, what is it?

Will you take off your bra? And I said, what? And he said -- I said, of course I won't. And he said, I know it's an odd request. And He did it again. So I launched into the interview. You know, I'm 22. I'm not going stand to walk out of the interview.

BALDWIN: You just continued on.

COLLINS: I continued on. And so he brought it up again and I thought to myself, how can I diffuse this? So I smiled at him, I got up, I walked into the lady's room, stayed three minutes, took nothing off, came back in and he proceed to stare at my very broad chest for the rest of the thing.

And when I got out of there, I was very happy. Actually, I didn't feel violated, I felt informed because -- warned actually, too, because it happened young in my career. I thought, OK, this is going to happen and now you know you can get yourself out of it. Should I have had to get myself out of it? No. Now a couple of days later, he called to apologize. He was mortified.

He said, look, you know, my wife left me last week. I'm really screwed up. I said I'm fine but you never should do this again because you won't have somebody who can get out of it like I can.

And subsequently we wound up to be good friends. I'm not befriending my -- I'm not befriending my, what do you call it, the guy who is making this happen, I'm just pointing out that this -- so I -- particularly with Charlie, I really resonate with those girls because anybody who says...

BALDWIN: Charlie Rose.

COLLINS: Yes. Why would you leave? Of course you don't leave, you know? In our generation particularly, Brooke, you know, if somebody sort of made a pass at you, nobody ever touched me.

I would have clocked them. But if somebody made a, you know, verbal pass you kind of go thank you very much or you're really beautiful and you're cute. I know that sounds terrible but you deflect and move on.

BALDWIN: Sure. You know, you said that other women sitting at this desk saying generational but there is -- there is something happening. There is a touch point in this country at the moment. And it's juts fascinating also just the difference and the consequences between, you know, Hollywood or journalism and politics.

COLLINS: Power. Power.

BALDWIN: Power is the theme all the way around.

COLLINS: It's the bottom line, isn't it?

BALDWIN: Nancy Collins, thank you. It's a pleasure to see you.

COLLINS: You're more than welcome.

BALDWIN: The president is also making news on his call with Vladimir Putin, when he stopped to speak with the media as he headed out of town. We'll talk about that coming up next.


BALDWIN: All right. So the president of the United States saying he had a great call with Russia's President Vladimir Putin. We know that happened earlier today. It lasted over an hour -- hour and a half.

I have Rear Admiral John Kirby with me, CNN military and diplomatic analyst to talk a little bit about this phone call. And again, just context for the call, admiral, you know, the fact is that is the same day the cozy looking photos came out with Bashar Al Assad and Putin. Assad, a man the president has called a butcher and we know Putin and Russia meddled in the election. So there's a lot of conflict in this call.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes. This looks like this call was probably set up by the Russian side. It looked like he called several foreign leaders after his day-long meeting with Assad to sort of read them out.

And that's I think what the premise for the call was. But, look, I mean it's great that they had a conversation about Syria, the president and President Putin.

It's also encouraging to see that both sides are saying they want to get to a political settlement, but the bottom line is Russia's interests in Syria are not compatible with American interests or the interests of the most of the western world in terms of trying to end this civil war.

Russia wants to keep their toll hold there. Russia is comfortable propping up Assad to be able to do that. And both Putin and Assad see that terrorists in the same way, which is anybody who is fighting the regime.

And, of course, we know that that's not the case. So I think we need to be very, very cautious before reading too much into the readout of this meeting and what real progress is likely to be made.

BALDWIN: Where do these men see eye-to-eye?

KIRBY: Well -- who, Assad and Putin?

BALDWIN: All three of them.

KIRBY: Well, I think -- I think all of them would tell you that they want to see an end to terrorist groups inside Syria, even Assad would tell you that, but beyond that, honestly, Brooke, there isn't a whole lot of commonality.

If you read that detailed -- very detailed readout that the Russian government put out about this meeting with Assad, you'll see that Assad refers to everybody who is fighting the regime as terrorists.

He looks at all the civil -- the civil war participants as terrorists. All of the groups that are aligned against him and of course they're not.

And Assad also talked about only wanting to work with Russia and maybe Iran on the future here politically for Syria, not necessarily anybody else. He talked about outsiders, meaning the United States and the U.N.

So I don't think there is a lot of commonality here. Assad wants to stay in power. Russia wants to keep their foothold and are willing to accept Assad in order to do that and the United States and the rest of the west ought to be, at least I hope they are.

And the president's readout would suggest they are, interested in a real political settlement that gives Syrians a voice in their own future.

BALDWIN: I've got less than a minute. We know that North Korea was also discussed. We know the president was in the region not too terribly long ago.

We know they're slapping additional sanctions on in addition to this state sponsor of terrorism list that happened by the administration, you know, yesterday.

What do you think this is all really about? Is this about -- obviously it's about north Korea but is it also really about sort of the third party putting a squeeze on financial institutions, say China and others, is that...


BALDWIN: Thirty seconds.

KIRBY: I do. I really think that's exactly what this is about. The state sponsor of terrorism list is not going to, even if it does result in sanctions, really have much of a practical impact.

What I think they're trying to do is make it easier for third party nation states to continue to squeeze North Korea, in particular China. China has done a lot and they should get credit for that but they can do more. And I think that's what this is about.

BALDWIN: OK. Admiral Kirby, thank you so much.

KIRBY: You bet.

BALDWIN: And I thank all of you for being with me. The lead with Jim Sciutto starts now.