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U.S. Navy Plane with 11 Aboard Crashes Off Japan; Trump Defends Roy Moore, Doubts His Accusers. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 22, 2017 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:18] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, November 22, 6 a.m. here in New York, and we do begin with breaking news.

A U.S. Navy plane has crashed off the coast of Japan, eleven crew members and passengers on board. The cargo plane was heading to the USS Ronald Reagan when it went down.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A search for survivors is under way at this hour. And the crash is just the latest in a string of deadly accidents for the U.S. 7th Fleet.

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon for us with all the breaking details.

What's happening, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. As you say, at this hour, U.S. and Japanese forces are continuing their search-and-rescue mission about 500 miles southeast of the Japanese island of Okinawa in the Philippine Sea. A U.S. Navy C-2 aircraft, a small passenger plane, was making its way towards the deck of the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, where it was scheduled to land.

Something, obviously, went terribly wrong. It crashed. We do know from the U.S. Navy, in a statement just a short time ago, eight people, eight of the 11 have been rescued, taken to the Ronald Reagan, said to be in good condition. The search-and-rescue now continuing for the other three, of course.

This has been a very difficult year for the U.S. Navy out in the Pacific. The Navy's 7th Fleet is headquartered there, has seen 17 sailors die in two catastrophic collisions. The USS McCain, the USS Fitzgerald colliding earlier in the year with commercial shipping out there, killing 17 sailors.

Throughout the year, the 7th Fleet has had four significant collisions and incidents at sea with its ship. And a fifth one just on Saturday when a tugboat drifted into yet another Navy ship, and thankfully only causing minor damage.

So now this latest aircraft incident under investigation. If the plane was on its final approach to the deck of the carrier, that is the most dangerous time for these planes that land on aircraft carrier decks. It is always possible. We've seen it in the past. At the last minute the deck can pitch. The sea could become -- there can be sudden waves. A lot of things can happen that could send a potential carrier landing awry and cause these kinds of incidents. So we'll have to see throughout the day if they are able to rescue the three still missing and what the investigation may tell us about what happened here -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Those families of the missing, those were on board. We think about them, especially a day before Thanksgiving.

Barbara Starr, thank you very much. Appreciate the reporting.

President Trump is on vacation down at Mar-a-Lago, but he's up early this morning, and we know what that means. He is tweeting. Not about the Navy crash. No word from the president yet about what we just heard from Barbara Starr, but he is very concerned about the NFL and LaVar Ball.

It began about 30 minutes ago with this tweet: "It wasn't the White House. It wasn't the State Department. It wasn't father LaVar's so- called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long- term prison sentence. It was me. Too bad. LaVar is just a poor man's version of Don King but without the hair. Just think, LaVar. You could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China but no NBA contract to support you. But remember, LaVar, shoplifting is not a little thing. It's a really big deal, especially in China."

You can do this part.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

Then the president--

CUOMO: Don't miss the last two words.

CAMEROTA: "Ungrateful fool!"

CUOMO: There it is. You say that to me all the time. You miss it on that one?

CAMEROTA: Thank you. I'm going to move on now to the next tweet. And the president tweeted about the NFL and the national anthem controversy: "The NFL is now thinking about a new idea, keeping teams in the locker room during the national anthem next season. That's almost as bad as kneeling. When will the highly-paid commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league."

Do we think that the extension of twice as long tweets has helped America?

CUOMO: It's helped us. Because now we know even more about what is on the mind of the president. Joining us now to discuss, CNN commentator Errol Louis; CNN analyst

David Drucker. Gentlemen, good to have you back. We're thankful for you, as we get close to Thanksgiving. Thank you for helping making the show better.

So maybe he doesn't know about the Navy plane going down, although we always suspect that the commander in chief knows all these things before we do. But he ain't tweeting about it if he does. He's talking about LaVar Ball.

Errol, why -- we know he's on vacation. We know he gets bored, whatever, all the speculation. Why would he do this?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this is -- this is something Donald Trump has used to great effect throughout his political career. Let's go all the way back to birtherism. What we find is that he has an instinct, sort of a gut instinct for finding often racially divisive figures and themes that he can sort of use to political effect to help divide the country, to help sort of rile up his base. That's always the--

CUOMO: Is that what he's doing? He seems to have high ground. By all indications, he did help get the kids out of China. Asking for thanks and all that, I get the criticism. But this is something different than some of the other topics.

LOUIS: That, of course, is small and petty and unworthy of any president to sort of say, you know, "I personally did this, and you have to thank me. And if you didn't thank me enough, I'm going to criticize you."

You know, there's -- one of the social media accounts takes everything that he tweets and puts it on White House stationery so that you can see for the record what this presidential statement looks like and how much he has demeaned the dignity of the office.

But no, I mean -- and I would correct, you know, one of your writers who calls this the national anthem controversy. It's a civil rights protest in the form of NFL players kneeling solemnly during the national anthem in order to make a point and start a national discussion.

To simply call it what the president is calling it, you know, we should lock them in a room someplace; we should have them all fired. This is, you know, is something again -- and when there's a racial tinge for it, the president goes for it instinctively to try and sort of attack and divide. It is the president's politics.

CAMEROTA: This is a -- you hear the dog whistle or whatever you want to call it.

LOUIS: Don King without the hair? What else is that? And Don King was a Donald Trump supporter, by the way.

CAMEROTA: David, what do you think is happening here? Somebody has clearly let him get -- he's on vacation. So that means he's not being, what, as supervised at this hour, and he can be launching his Twitter volleys?

CUOMO: Or he just doesn't have as much coming at him early in the morning, you know what I mean. Where you have people coming in, you're getting briefed. You're getting going.

DRUCKER: Nothing has really changed. I mean, look, the president likes to have a foil.

But I think what this does for him is allow him to create an enemy that keeps his voters tied to him. I mean, I think that's the usefulness. Part of it is the president likes to spar with people. And the president likes a little chaos around him. And that I think is how he is most comfortable. Which I say based on watching him perform as a candidate an a president.

But I think the political part of it, and Errol is right in that he has a very keen sense for what drives many voters on the right, particularly Trump voters. But what this does in a way is saying whether it's LaVar Ball, whether it's the NFL, they're not really -- it's not that they're against the national anthem or against the flag. They're against you, because the flag represents you. You stand for the national anthem. You would never dream of kneeling during the national anthem.

So what these players are really doing and what somebody like LaVar Ball is really doing, who is a goof in and of himself, and that's a separate issue, is standing against you.

And in doing that, Trump is able to drive a cultural -- drive cultural tension that worked for him in 2016, that actually helped him become the Republican nominee and win the presidency. So then the question is will it help him win again in 2020? Will it help his party win in 2018?

CUOMO: A very different position now, because he is charged constitutionally and through voter mandate with being the president of everybody.

DRUCKER: And I have to say what's troubling about the NFL controversy, and I can understand very well why people might be upset with this protest which the players are using the national anthem to make a point, is the idea that an elected official of the federal government is laying down federal patriotism standards. Because everybody in America has the right to do whatever they want in regard to this. And politicians have the right to speak out.

And we've seen laws proposed to ban flag burning. But the idea that a politician is going to tell people what is acceptable, that is what is concerning.

CUOMO: The question is, if he's telling people what they want to hear, what does that say about the rest of us? But of course, again, it all comes down to leadership.

Now, LaVar Ball has been uniquely effective in getting under the president's skin. We will remind you what happened with LaVar Ball here on CNN's air that clearly motivated the president. He is clearly referencing what happened in the interview we did. So here's your reminder.


LAVAR BALL, FATHER OF LIANGELO BALL: I have to know what somebody is doing before I say thank you. I'm not just going to go around saying thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So let's--

BALL: You come and shake my hand and meet me or meet my son or anybody and then say, "You know what? Maybe I can help you out." Let's do it that way. But just because people say things, you know, it's supposed to be true. Like, "Hey, I stopped them from saving -- 10 years." Maybe we were doing some talking with some other people before you even got there.


CUOMO: The president, Errol, hates, obviously, by every indication, that LaVar Ball won't say thank you and keeps poking at the idea that he didn't do anything to get people out of China. He didn't do what people think he did.

LOUIS: Yes. This is true.

CUOMO: And you know he's playing a game. LaVar Ball is kind of doing a Trump to Trump. He's hard to choose (ph), and he knows that if you criticize this man, he will respond. He's doing it.

LOUIS: Well, this is one of the remarkable things about the president of the United States. Everybody from foreign dictators to some guy trying to sell athletic shoes can figure out how to sort of manipulate him, how to poke him, how to sort of goad him and how to get some kind of a rise out of him.

[06:10:11] It's a shame that while President Trump -- let's take him at his word -- did the right thing and helped these kids get out of a really sticky situation, one wishes he had done that for some of the political prisoners in China. One wishes that he had mentioned their names. One wishes that he was beating his chest, taking credit for trying to sort of deal with democracy and civil right -- human rights issues across Asia, which he absolutely failed to do.

CAMEROTA: And, Errol, just back to your larger point for a second, because I've been here marinating on it. Every -- you can almost say that every controversy, the president publicly -- that the president has had has been with someone of color. I mean, you look at Sergeant Johnson's wife. You look at Congresswoman Wilson. You look at the Gold Star Muslim family. You look at LaVar Ball. Like, what's--

LOUIS: Sure.

CAMEROTA: It's hard to overlook that. LOUIS: Well, that's right. I mean, look, it's been a theme. I -- I

-- you know, I react, just having seen this just now in part, because I feel like I've seen years of this.

CUOMO: Central Park Five.

LOUIS: These were the five boys who were wrongly imprisoned, wrongly convicted.

CUOMO: He took an ad out in "The New York Times" about that.

LOUIS: And to this day he has never said, "I was wrong, and I'm sorry." Or the birther controversy. You know and I know he has never said, "I was wrong, and I'm sorry." He's not sorry. He uses it for political advantage. It is the core political -- it's one of the few core political principles, along with some trade issues, that he has never really wavered on.

CAMEROTA: Errol, David, thank you both very much. So the president finally talking about Roy Moore and supporting him. Why he wants a man accused of child molestation in the Senate, next.


[06:15:27] CAMEROTA: President Trump breaking his weeklong silence on Roy Moore. The president all but endorsing Moore, citing Moore's denials of any wrongdoing amid accusations of sexual abuse involving teenage girls.

CNN's Joe Johns is live in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president is vacationing this holiday week. What's the latest, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, you're right. Before flying south here to Florida, the president did break his long silence on Roy Moore, offering his support, even though his communications staff had been saying for days that the election in Alabama ought to be left up to the voters in Alabama. The question now: how far the president will go to get Roy Moore elected.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell you one thing for sure: we don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.

JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump all but endorsing embattled Senate Republican nominee Roy Moore.

TRUMP: We do not need somebody that's going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment.

JOHNS: Insisting his concerns were about policy above all else, despite allegations that Moore sexually assaulted two teenage girls when he was in his 30s, including one woman who says she was 14 at the time, and allegedly pursued romantic relationships with six others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is an accused child molester better than a Democrat? Is an accused child molester better than a Democrat?

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

JOHNS: The president siding with Moore over his accusers before saying he was happy that women across the country are now speaking up about sexual harassment.

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.

JOHNS: A Republican close to the White House tells CNN that the president doubts Moore's accusers and sees a similarity between the accusations leveled against Moore and the sexual misconduct allegations made against him by at least 13 women in the final days of the 2016 campaign, charges the president has denied.

TRUMP: Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign.

JOHNS: Mr. Trump leaving the door open to possibly campaigning for Moore ahead of the December 12 special election in Alabama.

TRUMP: I'll be letting you know next week.

JOHNS: Breaking with his party's leadership and a number of GOP senators who have called on Moore to step down.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: He's obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate, and we've looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening.

JOHNS: Moore's Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, defending his record against the president's attacks and speaking out about the accusations against Moore for the first time.

DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I believe the women. I believe their stories have credibility, and I believe them.

JOHNS: The Jones campaign releasing an ad, quoting members of the president's own inner circle, criticizing Moore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ivanka Trump says, "here's a special place in hell for people who prey on children." And "I have no reason to doubt the women's accounts."

Jeff Sessions says, "I have no reason to doubt these young women."

Conservative voices. Putting children and women over party.


JOHNS: And this morning the Moore camp moved quickly to capitalize on the president's support, even though it wasn't an endorsement, if you will. Sending out a fund-raising letter quoting both the president and the Reverend Billy Graham and including a link to donate cash. Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much.

Let's bring back Errol Louis and David Drucker.

So David, we now know all we need to know about how President Trump feels about women and about how he will take one man's sort of weird denials over eight women's stories, two of which involve sexual abuse.

DRUCKER: Yes, but I don't think this should be surprising. Donald Trump has spent his political campaign and his presidency complaining about rigged elections and saying that people have accused him of things, including the allegations last year during the campaign from so many women that they were all liars and he denied.

So for him to ever move against Roy Moore to, in a sense, change the outcome of an election by trying to push him off the ballot when Roy Moore is vehemently denying all these allegations would seem out of place and also would raise questions about Trump in terms the, sir, if you -- if you believe Roy Moore, why shouldn't we believe the women who have made allegations against you?

CAMEROTA: I get you.

[06:20:06] DRUCKER: And when it comes to rigged elections, why are you trying to rig elections?

CAMEROTA: I hear you. And so you hear it as rigged -- as him talking about the theme of rigged elections. But just like what Errol was saying, how what he hears when the president goes after LaVar Bell [SIC], I hear when he sides with Roy Moore saying, "Women can't be trusted. I don't believe women."

DRUCKER: I -- I hear that, too. But I think this is a part of the political calculation that the president is making and the personal calculation.

Additionally, Roy Moore will not go anywhere. If the president actually called for him to get out of the race, Roy Moore wouldn't get out of the race. The president would look very impotent.

And as a side note, this really puts the Senate Republicans in an odd position, especially considering the infighting within the Republican Party, because Mitch McConnell is threatening to expel him if he wins. So are most Senate Republicans.

CUOMO: Rick Santorum says--

DRUCKER: The president's base is basically saying, "Hey, why are you messing with us?"

CUOMO: Rick Santorum says that he believes Alabama voters should think twice about voting for Roy Moore, because he won't be in the Senate very long. He actually believes that they'll move on him quickly and expel him from the Senate. And of course, then the governor there, who doesn't want to do anything right now, would be in a position to name somebody as that senator.

So there has been an evolution here. The biblical reference of seven days it's been since he got back from Asia, the president, and he has said nothing. Here's the evolution.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: The incontrovertible principle is that there is no Senate seat that's worth more than a child.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes that these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously. And he thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: If he did not believe the women's accusations are credible, he would be down there campaigning for Roy Moore. He has not done that.

SANDERS: Obviously, the president wants people both in the House and the Senate that support his agenda.

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


CUOMO: It's as ugly as it is obvious. And we saw it yesterday in real-time. There can be no question about what's motivating the president here. He says it's good that women are coming forward. It's a special time.

I don't know what's special about it. It's so horrible, you know, what we keep learning about time after time. And then he says, so in the same head lives that idea, "This is good; they should come forward" and "He denies it. Good enough for me."

Jim Acosta reports that a source close to the situation tells him for days he's been questioning these accusers, because to him it's looking more and more like what was done to him during the campaign.

LOUIS: Yes. I think all of this should be seen, and that evolution in part, as through the lens of the personal, political interests of the president, right, which he's pursuing. That's his guiding star.

I think what they have done is look at -- there's some public polling on this. I'm sure they have much better internal political polling that strongly suggests Republicans are willing to look the other way.

I mean, the most important part of that little gaggle, I think, on the lawn there was when he started ticking off different ideas where, instead of taking -- supporting a molester or an accused molester as a principle that stands apart from politics, sort of dragging it into politics. Saying, "You know what? We've got Second Amendment issues. We've got some Supreme Court appointments coming down the road. CUOMO: We had his Breitbart buddies on last night, and one of the

editors was -- one of the senior guys was saying, "Well, look at Doug Jones. You know, he's bad on taxes. He's bad on this. You know, so you've got Moore on one side, but you've got Jones on the other."

And I said, "Those are equal issues, whether or not he molested." Taxes?

DRUCKER: This is -- this is the calculation Republicans made in the campaign last year. All these issues with Donald Trump but judges and the Supreme Court and Hillary is bad. And it -- and it was effective.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes.

DRUCKER: And I think it will be effective again once the dust settles in Alabama.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes. I mean, if history is any precedent, Roy Moore is going to win.

LOUIS: That's exactly right.

CAMEROTA: He's going to win, because we already know that Republican voters and certainly Trump voters and supporters, don't see sexual abuse the way the majority of Americans do. We just put up the poll. So 60 percent of Americans feel that he should be expelled. Only 49 -- if he wins from the Senate. And 49 percent of Republicans think that he should not. So there you have it.

LOUIS: That's right. That means it will be a close race. I'm pretty sure that, you know, Kellyanne Conway, who's no slouch when it comes to polling; she's very, very good at this stuff, as an adviser to the president, sort of helped steer him to this point. We heard from Steve Bannon in his "60 Minutes" interview that what happened with the "Access Hollywood" tape was a defining moment for that campaign and therefore for the Trump political style. And everybody--

CAMEROTA: Yes. They can win despite that.

LOUIS: They can absolutely win. There's probably information again. I'm sure there's private polling that supports it. They looked at that. And then you saw the change in the president's tone. They're going to try and ride this out.

CUOMO: Just remember what Bannon did during the "Access Hollywood" thing. You know, I mean, it was widely reported. He said to the president, "No, we can win on this. We double down, we go hard. You can beat these allegations from women."

DRUCKER: And there's also a feeling among conservatives going back many years that, when they argued that character counted during the Bill Clinton impeachment era, that they lost.

[06:25:16] And while Trump does his own thing and we shouldn't -- that needs to be handled accordingly, if you look historically at Republican voters, they feel like they were burned. And so for many of them, what they have done is said, "Well, if those are the rules of the game, then that's how they're going to play." And they feel like "At least this way we have been winning." And that is, I think, something that needs to be reckoned with with voters in Alabama and across the country as we look at how they approach these allegations and whether or not they are willing to vote for a Democrat when these things come up.

CAMEROTA: Yes, this is bipartisan. Certainly, sexual harassment is bipartisan. So obviously, we're going to be talking about the Democratic side, as well, including with Democratic Congressman John Conyers and the latest there into an ethics investigation into him. That will be coming up.

CUOMO: All right. The passing of a former teen heartthrob. I'm sure you've heard this by now. David Cassidy loomed so large in the lives of so many people.

CAMEROTA: I felt included.

CUOMO: I'm sure you still have the poster.

CAMEROTA: I do, on my wall.

CUOMO: We will rekindle the feels next.