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U.S. Navy Plane Crashes Into Ocean; Trump Defends Roy Moore; Calls for Conyers to Resign; Bosnian Serb Warlord to Learn His Fate. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 22, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:31:17] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight: a U.S. Navy plane goes down off the coast of Japan. Search and rescue operations are underway right now and we're going to bring you the latest in a moment.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen and, you know, you have to listen to him also.


SANCHEZ: No endorsement, but no doubt that President Trump wants Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate despite allegations that he is a pedophile.

And new sexual harassment allegations against the dean of the House of Representatives. Now, Michigan's biggest newspaper wants John Conyers to resign after he used taxpayer money to settle with another accuser.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Dave Briggs. We are just about 31 minutes past the hour.

And we are following breaking news overnight. A U.S. Navy plane carrying 11 crew members and passengers crashed southeast of Okinawa, Japan. The plane was headed to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in the Philippines Sea. The Reagan is now conducting search and rescue operations.

Already this year, four U.S. Navy warships have been involved in accidents in Asian waters.

CNN's Ivan Watson was in Okinawa just a few weeks ago on a different U.S. Navy ship. He's been following the developments this morning from Hong Kong.

Ivan, we understand there is some good news. Several people have been recovered alive.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The U.S. Navy says there were 11 passengers and crew aboard this Navy aircraft. Well, the Japanese defense minister has told journalists that at least eight of those people have been rescued since the crash took place, which is a little under four hours ago according to a U.S. Navy statement.

The Japanese defense ministry saying this was a U.S. Navy C-2 transport plane. So, that's typically a plane that has propellers. And it is the transport, the fixed wing aircraft that can land on the deck of an aircraft carrier and then be catapulted off, ferrying people to and from the vessel. I've actually arrived on a U.S. aircraft carrier aboard this kind of plane before.

We don't know the conditions that led to the crash. Just a cursory look at the weather conditions it looks like it's sunny around Okinawa right now. Again, we're waiting to learn more about the search and rescue efforts.

As you rightly pointed out, this has been a difficult and deadly year for the U.S. Navy in Asian waters. There have been four collisions this year alone, two of them very deadly. In June and in August, the USS John McCain, the USS Fitzgerald, both destroyers, collided with commercial shipping vessels and at least 17 sailors were killed as a result of that. It's led to a major reshuffle in the U.S. Navy after the Navy concluded that these accidents could have been avoided and were the result of serious mistakes -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: And you can bet, Ivan, that there will be a serious investigation, another accident, a very contentious part of the world. Thanks for following the details for us. We'll check back in with you shortly, Ivan.

Back to the States now. President Trump never actually used the E word endorse, but on Tuesday, he strongly defended Roy Moore. At least eight women have accused the embattled Alabama Republican Senate candidate of pursuing romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers. A few of them also accused Moore of assault.

But Tuesday on his way to Mar-a-Lago for the Thanksgiving holiday, the president seemed much more concerned of the idea of another Democrat in the closely divided Senate.


TRUMP: We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.

[04:35:03] Jones, I've looked at his record. It's terrible on crime. It's terrible on the border. It's terrible on the military. I can tell you for a fact, we do not need somebody who's going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad on the military, bad for the Second Amendment.


SANCHEZ: As for why the president only spoke up now after two weeks of silence, a Republican source close to the White House says that President Trump doubted Moore's accusers, identifying Moore's experience as similar to the accusations leveled against him during the 2016 campaign. Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is traveling with the

president. He has more from Mar-a-Lago -- Jeff.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump doing something he has not done for the last two weeks, directly and personally weighing in on that explosive Senate race in Alabama. Before flying here to Florida where he'll be spending his Thanksgiving vacation, the president fully embraced Roy Moore. He said he did not necessarily disbelieve the women who had come forward to accuse him of wrongdoing, but he did accept Roy Moore's denials.

REPORTER: Is an accused child molester better than a Democrat?

TRUMP: Well, he denies it. Look, he denies it. He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen and, you know, you have to listen to him also. You're talking about -- he said 40 years ago, this did not happen. So, you know --

ZELENY: The president all but giving his endorsement. He said he would potentially think about campaigning with Roy Moore in the coming weeks before that special election in December. So, in trying to get a sense of what went into the president's thinking and into his abruptly supporting Roy Moore, aides close to him say that simply the noise and confusion from these tidal wave of cases across the country that have rippled from Hollywood to politics to media simply made it easier for him to stick with Roy Moore.

In the words of one Republican close to the White House, it's harder to tell who the bad guy is now and, of course, the White House eager to keep that seat from Alabama in Republican hands.


SANCHEZ: Jeff, thank you for that.

A new accusation of sexual harassment has surfaced against John Conyers of Michigan. A former female staffer alleging that these incidents occurred in 2015 and '16 and now, the "Detroit Free Press" is calling on Conyers to step down following reports that he paid a woman to settle a separate sexual harassment claim with taxpayer funds. The newspaper says Conyers' resignation would send a clear warning to other members of Congress.

"The Free Press" editorial board writing, quote: It's a betrayal that breaches the most fundamental trust that exists between a public servant and the people that that person represents. Even if Conyers could prove that he did not make inappropriate advances toward his former staffer, there's no defense having used dollars from his congressional office to settle the claim.

Congressman Conyers is the longest serving law maker in the House, and he's now the target of a House ethics investigation.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has the latest from Washington. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, CNN has not independently confirmed these allegations but according to "BuzzFeed", Congressman Conyers has a series of accusations and complaints filed in 2014 against him by former unnamed women on his staff. Now, according to these confidential documents which again were obtained by "BuzzFeed", the congressman repeatedly asked for sexual favors and once asked one of the women to work from his hotel room one evening where she alleges he told her she needed to touch his privates.

In another incident, he alleges the congressman asked her to stay in his hotel room to just cuddle up and caress him before going to bed. Now, this led to a wrongful firing settlement reached in 2015 to one of the women who alleges she was fired for refusing the congressman's advances. It was a $27,000 settlement which was paid directly to her from the congressman's office. Now, that's still taxpayer dollars, but importantly here, it's not from the fund that usually handles paying out these settlements within the U.S. Treasury.

Conyers has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct but he does admit the payments. In a statement, Conyers says, quote: My office resolved allegations with an expressed denial of liability in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation.

Now, meantime all of this comes as Senator Franken continues to lay low since his own accusations of sexual misconduct have surfaced and Democrats on Capitol Hill are continuing to be asked and continuing to struggle with their answers if he should resign.


SANCHEZ: And, Sunlen, thank you.

A verdict is expected at any moment for a former Bosnian Serb general accused of ordering the slaughter of thousands in the Bosnian War. CNN's Christiane Amanpour who covered the war and interviewed the general years ago joins us next.


[04:44:14] SANCHEZ: Judgment is expected at any moment for a former Bosnian Serb general accused of ordering a massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys. Ratko Mladic also charged with numerous other war crimes during the Bosnian conflict of the early '90s, a war in which at least 100,000 people were killed. A U.N. court will hand down Mladic's verdict for genocide and crimes against humanity, and the last such decision from the U.N.'s criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour who covered the conflict and spoke with the general during the war joins us now live from London.

Christiane, this brings a certain degree of closure, doesn't it? CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really

does. In fact, Ratko Mladic was the military commander of this project to ethnically cleanse and carve out a little rump statelet in Bosnia back in the '90s to join up with Greater Serbia.

[04:45:08] That was their crazy ambition and what it did was led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people. And for that, he is being accused of two counts of genocide, five crimes of crimes against humanity, and other counts against the norms of war.

But also remember that this was a war that completely absorbed all the attention of the United States. It was the Clinton administration at that time, all the Western governments at that time throughout the '90s.

And I met Mladic one year into covering the war. I met him many, many times, but the first time was one year and even then I asked him wasn't he afraid that one day he'd be held to account.


AMANPOUR: America has called him a war criminal and under any kind of U.N. tribunal, he may have to be prosecuted. What does he think about that?

It's a tough question but he's a tough man and he can answer it.

RATKO MLADIC, BOSNIAN SERB WARLORD (through translated): Yes, I can take it. I've taken more rough ones. I can take hers, too.


MLADIC: I defended my people and only my people can judge me, and there's no greater honor than defending your people.


AMANPOUR: So there he was, that false bon ami (ph), that trying to play word games with the press, hiding this killer instinct. We would see this preening smile of Mladic throughout the war. As he was giving orders to snipe and shell and besiege the city of Sarajevo, as he was giving the orders to overrun the small enclaves of Srebrenica, and that is the big one, Srebrenica, where he's accused of ordering the massacre of more than 7,000 young Bosnian males and older Bosnian mean, and forcibly removing the women and children.

So, this is what he's accused of, the tens of thousands and this is where he's going to face justice today to see what the verdict is. And he's the last one of this group of accused killers. There was Radovan Karadzic before him, who last year was accused and convicted, and before that, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. So, from the top of the pyramid, down to the commander on the ground, they have faced their day in court. We wait to hear what the court hands down against Mladic.

SANCHEZ: Now, Mladic is 74 years old. He's had several strokes. His health has deteriorated significantly.

So, if he is found guilty, what kind of sentencing would he be facing?

AMANPOUR: Well, the prosecutors want life. Previously his political master, the man who, you know, held the puppet strings, Radovan Karadzic, was given 40 years and he's appealing, but the prosecutors want life. We will see what the court gives.

You know, Mladic was on the ground. He can't say that, oh, I didn't know what my commanders were doing. He was on the ground. He was giving the orders and if you see throughout the entire interview that I conducted with him in 1993, he admitted to what he was doing.

He said, this is -- this is what I consider honor and greatness to defend my people and he said overtly that oh, yes, he might like Bosnian Muslims but only a few of them. That was his way of explaining away what he was doing. He actually had no shame.

SANCHEZ: Christiane Amanpour, we are waiting to see if justice finally comes to a man that is truly a terrible person. Thank you, Christiane.

North Korea accused of violating the armistice agreement with South Korea by chasing a defector who crossed the border. He was shot five times. We've got some incredible video to show you, next.


[04:53:08] SANCHEZ: Charlie Rose fired twice in one day over sexual harassment allegations. Both CBS and PBS terminating the TV host after "The Washington Post" published accusations from eight women. CBS is now confirming three more potential victims came forward on Tuesday. Rose's former CBS co-host Gayle King appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" last night, admitting that she's struggling with the downfall of her colleague but she says it's ultimately the accusers that matter most.


GAYLE KING, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: To be honest with you, it still isn't easy. It's still very painful. It's still very hurtful. You know, Charlie and I, we've worked together, been friends, but when you think about the anguish of those women, despite the friendship, you still have to report the news.

When you were doing the monologue about other people, I'm like ha, ha, ha, and then it was about Charlie and he's a friend, I don't like that, that's difficult.


KING: And then I think about what these women were going through. I don't like that either.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: Gayle King's comments after she and co-host Norah O'Donnell delivered a powerful and emotional response to the accusations against Charlie Rose on "CBS This Morning".

Watch this.


NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more, generally, the safety of women. Let me be very clear. There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. Women cannot achieve equality in the work place or in society, until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility.


SANCHEZ: Also developing this morning, a top Disney animation executive is taking a leave of absence after what he calls missteps. John Lasseter is the chief creative officer for Disney Animation and Pixar. An unnamed Pixar employee told "The Hollywood Reporter" that Lasseter had a reputation for grabbing, kissing and making inappropriate comments about physical attributes.

[04:55:03] Lasseter released this statement saying in part, quote, it's been brought to my attention that I've made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent.

A Disney spokesperson tells CNN the company is committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected.

Meantime, dozens of women with ties to "Saturday Night Live" are coming out in support of Senator Al Franken. L.A. radio host Leeann Tweeden alleges Franken forcibly kissed her without consent during a USO tour in 2006.

Now, 36 women who worked with Franken on "SNL" say that they never experienced any inappropriate behavior. They write, quote: What Al did was stupid and foolish and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden and to the public. In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer and an honorable public servant.

Three members of the U.S. military are being reassigned from their White House posts for allegedly making improper contact with foreign women while traveling with the president on his trip to Asia. This is according to "The Washington Post". They allegedly broke curfew during the president's stop in Vietnam and could lose their security clearances and even face court martial. All three service members worked for a specialized White House agency in charge of securing communications for top level officials.

Now to Asia and North Korea where there are accusations that the armistice agreement with South Korea was violated by crossing the border to shoot a defector. Watch this. Some North Korean soldiers captured on U.N. security video showing the soldiers running, trying to shoot a defector. One of them runs across the border. You can see just his head at the bottom of the frame there. South Korean troops had to crawl to rescue him.

In a separate clip you see one North Korean soldier crossing the demarcation line dividing the two countries. That's another violation of the armistice that ended the Korean War. The soldier was shot and he's actually the third member of the North Korean armed forces to defect just this year. Officials say that he has regained consciousness after multiple surgeries but he is going to continue to need additional treatment.

Six Syrian nationals detained by police for allegedly plotting terror attacks on Christmas markets in Germany. All the suspects were taken in custody following large scale raids in four cities, involving about 500 officers. Authorities suspect that the six have links to ISIS. Their alleged attack wasn't fully planned but a German intelligence official tells CNN they had already conducted target reconnaissance trips to Berlin. Just last year, a truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin killed 12 people, injuring nearly 50 others.

Let's get a quick check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning. I'm going to do my best Christine Romans imitation.

Global markets are higher today after Wall Street hit record highs, thanks largely to the best performing sector of the year, tech. Tech stocks rose yesterday, a 2 percent jump by Apple. Tech is up 38 percent this year.

Meantime, Meg Whitman is stepping down as CEO of Hewlett Packard. Whitman joined HP more than six years ago and will remain on the company's board. The current president and 20-year HP veteran Antonio Neri will take over. Whitman's departure now reduces the number of women leading S&P 500 companies to just 25.

Mall diamonds are losing their sparkling. Signet which owns Jewelers, Kay, Jared and Zales warned that profits will be light next year. The company blames hurricanes and weak sales for a challenging quarter. Signet is also going to shutter 125 stores in 2018 primarily at shopping malls. A Signet stock dropped 30 percent on that news. That's its worst day in 25 years.

Meantime, Facebook is under fire yet again for allowing discriminatory ad targeting. In a new report, "ProPublica" was able to purchase dozens of ads for home rentals that excluded specific groups, including African-Americans, Jews and Spanish speakers. Facebook said the ad placements were the result of a failure in our enforcement. Facebook updated its rules in February to try to prevent discrimination based on things like race, religion or sexual orientation.

Stay with us.

EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC) SANCHEZ: We're following breaking news overnight. A U.S. Navy plane going down off the coast after Japan. Search and rescue operations are right now underway. We'll bring you the latest in just a moment.


TRUMP: He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen and, you know, you have to listen to him also.