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U.S. Navy Plane with 11 Aboard Crashes Off Japan; Trump Defends Roy Moore, Doubts His Accusers; Video Captures Dramatic Escape of North Korean Defector. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 22, 2017 - 07:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our NEW DAY. We do begin with breaking news. A search for survivors is under way after a U.S. Navy plane crashed off Japan's coast with 11 crew members and passengers on board. Eight of those have been rescued. The crash is the latest in a series of deadly accidents for the U.S. 7th Fleet.

[07:00:11] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: As this emergency overseas unfolds, we assume the president knows about it, but we can't tell from his Twitter account. Because he is talking about other things. And he's talking about them a lot and in heated tones. Such as LaVar Ball, the basketball dad. And protesting NFL players.

All of this comes just hours after President Trump defended Roy Moore's denials, despite the serious accusation of child molestation. And he does seem to be supporting him in his race.

We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Barbara Starr, live at the Pentagon with our breaking story.

You told us in the last hour that they were still searching for three of the 11 passengers on board. Is that still the situation?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON STARR: As far as we know at this hour, U.S. and Japanese forces are continuing their search for three missing people from that aircraft that crashed at sea carrying 11. Eight rescued so far. So three families before this holiday weekend waiting for word on their loved ones. And they do not have it yet.

The eight rescued have been taken to the USS Ronald Reagan, and they're said to be in good condition. This was a small passenger plane that routinely carries people on and off the decks of aircraft carriers. It happened about 500 miles off the coast of Okinawa, the Japanese island in the Philippine Sea. Rescue forces were there, obviously, in quick order to be able to get to be able to recover the eight people on board.

As you say, this has been a deadly year for the 7th Fleet out in the Pacific, 17 sailors being killed in two crashes, two collisions at sea. The USS Fitzgerald, the USS John McCain both earlier this year colliding with commercial cargo shipping out in the Pacific. Seventeen sailors dead there.

Total of four serious incidents at sea for the 7th Fleet with its ships. A The latest one, a fifth on Saturday. A tug boat drifted into yet another U.S. Navy ship and caused some damage there. We will have to see what happened in this latest aircraft accident -- Chris.

CAMEROTA: Barbara, please bring us updates as soon as you have them from the upon the Pentagon there. Thank you very much.

So President Trump is up early this morning, but he is not tweeting about that Navy crash or the fate of those three missing Americans. Instead, the president of the United States is tweeting at 5:25 a.m. about the NFL and LaVar Ball. It began with this tweet. It says, "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" -- in all caps. "Too bad!" exclamation point. "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 is a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!" exclamation point.

CUOMO: The president then switched topics to the National Football League and the civil rights protests that are taking place during the national anthem, writing, "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" -- that part is true -- "finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!"

CAMEROTA: Those tweets come hours after President Trump broke his weeklong silence on Roy Moore, all but endorsing the embattled Alabama Senate nominee despite the sexual abuse allegations against Moore.

CNN's Joe Johns is live in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president is vacationing with more.

Hi, Joe.


The real message the White House and the president are sending right now is that on Roy Moore, it's all about the president's political agenda. Before flying south here to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday, the president did throw his support behind Roy Moore, despite the fact that the president's communication's team had been saying for days that what happens in the Alabama election is all about the Alabama voters.


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.

[07:05:14] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is an accused child molester better than a Democrat? 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.

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 own 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 very quickly to capitalize on the president's support, sending out a fundraising e- mail that quoted both President Trump as well as the Reverend Billy Graham and including a link where people could donate money.

Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much.

Joining us now to discuss everything is CNN Politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza; and associate editor at Real Clear Politics, A.B. Stoddard.

Chris Cillizza, I'll start with you. So we know what the president is interested in this morning. He's not talking about the search that's underway for the three missing U.S. sailors. He's talking about LaVar Ball and the NFL.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes. Look, if there's a thread that goes through Donald Trump's presidency in his political life, Alisyn, it's personal pique. The politics of personal pique. He does not like when he doesn't get credit that he believes that he deserves. He does not like when people say bad things about him. And he is unwilling or at least has demonstrated no willingness to ever take the high road. He will get in any fight with anyone. And this is just, you know, more evidence of that fact.

Look, he last week attacked LaVar Ball's son, LiAngelo Ball, as well as the two other UCLA players who were arrested in China for shoplifting. He attacked Marshawn Lynch. He attacked Jeff Flake. He attacked CNN. He attacked "The New York Times." Now we're to the NFL to Roger Goodell and to LaVar Ball.

I mean, he cares about what is him. He cares about what affects him. He cares about what people say about him. He does not view the presidency as a representative of the country. He views himself as just sort of a lone individual, an individual who gets a lot of attention, but an individual who will not allow himself to ever be attacked and not respond.

CUOMO: So how does that play, A.B., into what's going on with Roy Moore? The president says, "This is a special time. It's good that women are coming forward. This is good for women. We need to hear about these types of claims of being assaulted and harassed."

And then he says, "But Roy Moore denies it. Good enough for me. I don't want a Democrat in there."

How do you put those two together? How does this work for the president?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, there are so many facets to that question, because...

CUOMO: Every question I ask is multi-faceted like a diamond.

STODDARD: This is true, Mo.

I've got to tell you that there are upwards of 16 women who have accused President Trump, and he got through an election by saying that he was going to sue them all. They were all lying. He believes in the power of denial. He knows that there's a get-out-of-jail free card. It is basically to talk about what's helpful not what is necessarily truthful.

[07:10:04] And so standing there yesterday and saying, "He denies it, he denies it, he denies it," helps him make the case that what he really wants is to please Roy Moore's voters who are sticking with him, who are the kind of voters who support Donald Trump. He does not want to let them down. He caters to his base and nurtures his base, as we know, very -- quite vigorously. And so he's making the plain case that he's putting, you know, party over everything else. He needs the numbers in the Senate. Not a problem.

And he has basically gone against the White House message, which was it's up to Alabama to decide; the RNC, which broke their funding agreement with Roy Moore; and his own daughter, who says that hell -- there's a special place in hell for people who prey upon children.

And this is typical Donald Trump. It's not a problem for him to change his mind or break with the team.

And the tweets, obviously, about Mr. Ball, you know, as Chris was saying, he wanted to make the case that "I alone took care of this." That he -- you know, it's all about him.

He's always animated by grievance. He loves a good beef. He can't stay away from it. And he's not really concerned this morning with tax reform or anything else that the team, the Republican team wants him to be focused on.

CILLIZZA: Just to -- one other thing. First of all, A.B. is right. One thing to add: I do think it's important to know what Donald Trump did as it relates to Roy Moore yesterday. He took Roy Moore's side here. He said he believes Roy Moore. And if you believe Roy Moore, you do not believe the women who are accusing him.

CUOMO: Although the Breitbart guy on with me last night was arguing vigorously. And there's always code. There's connection between these two camps right now. It's obvious. We see it all the time. Both sides can be credible.

CAMEROTA: How's that?


CUOMO: Both sides can be credible. It's an impossibility of logic, but that's what they were arguing: "Well, you can be -- both sides can be critical." CILLIZZA: No, and I mean, that's the thing. I think it's important

to say, if Donald Trump believes Roy Moore's denials and Roy Moore has issued, as A.B. noted, Roy Moore has issued a full-scale blanket denial, "These are lies. I've never met these women." If he believes that, then he does not believe the women.

So to say women are special and this is a special time for women, those two things don't go together.


CILLIZZA: You can like Donald Trump or hate him, but that does not add up.

CAMEROTA: But Chris, I'm not sure that he's issued -- I don't hear it as unequivocally as you do, his denial. He also said, like, "I always asked the girls' moms"...

CUOMO: You're talking about Roy Moore?

CAMEROTA: Roy Moore.


CAMEROTA: So he also said, like, when Sean Hannity pressed him, something to the effect of "I don't believe that in the past I may have not done that."

CILLIZZA: But he has said in relation to -- you're right. He has not -- the denial from Roy Moore has not been unequivocal. But I would say, I think, as it relates to these charges, Leigh Corfman in particular, he said he's never met this person.

CUOMO: I've got a question for you. I've got a question. How do you think this would change the equation? If instead of the women, the eight women, it were -- it was eight men. If eight men had come forward and said the same things, not the dating thing. Because it obviously wouldn't fit the persuasion of Mr. Moore. But if eight men came forward?

CAMEROTA: And said what about Roy Moore?

CUOMO: Said that "He did inappropriate things to me, pushed up on me," different way. Do you think it would change the calculus if it's going on in the case? Do you think that that is more offensive to people than when it happens to women?

CAMEROTA: I don't know about people. But I do think that...

CUOMO: Some people.

CAMEROTA: ... the president has made it clear with his comments, A.B., yesterday, I do think the president has made it clear that he is willing to believe one man's strange denial over eight women's compelling stories. I think that for the president that he's made that decision. CUOMO: The reason I bring it up, the reason I've been thinking about

this is, I think it's just a reflection that we're not where we need to be when it comes to how we respect these kinds of claims. If you switched it and made it that Roy Moore. There is absolutely no suggestion of that. I'm just saying hypothetically. If there were little boys involved, 14-year-old boys.

CAMEROTA: Well, little boys...

CUOMO: Why, because people say, "That's disgusting, I don't want to hear it. It's horrible." But with women, we're not there yet.

CAMEROTA: You don't think that the past month of the flood gates opening has solved the problem?

CUOMO: Hey, it has exposed the problem, though. That's a good start.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it has.

A.B., here's the deal. History teaches us that Roy Moore will win. As we know, from the 12 women that came forward during the presidential election and accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. His base and voters were willing to overlook that.

CUOMO: The polls don't confirm it at this point. But there's a probability.

CAMEROTA: You tell me, A.B. What do you think?

STODDARD: Well, it really can go either way, so officials in the state are saying, you know, they have this unbelievable, you know, high amount of on request for instructions about write-in ballots. Those peel away from Roy Moore. Those are people looking for -- to use another name, because they can't stomach, you know, voting for Roy Moore.

Then you're going to have some fervid Roy Moore defenders who are going to come out. On December 12, when there's nothing else on the ballot -- it's expected to be low turnout -- you can expect the Jones voters to be motivated.

[07:15:07] So there's a chance Jones wins, because those write-in votes take votes away from Moore. But then again, Roy Moore still has a very good shot of winning this.

CILLIZZA: Just very quickly, what Donald Trump said yesterday made it much, much, much more difficult for a write-in candidate as a Republican to have a chance.

CAMEROTA: There you go. Chris Cillizza, A.B. Stoddard, thank you very much for all the analysis.

CUOMO: All right. We have video that you have to see. A North Korean soldier is apparently trying to escape across the border into South Korea, running for his life, getting shot at while he's doing so. North Korean troops then violate the truce that ended the Korean -- it's an armistice, right? What did they do? Well, they opened fire across the border. They chased the soldier.

CNN's Anna Coren has more from Seoul.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, Alisyn, a North Korean soldier is recovering here at Ager University Hospital following his dramatic defection to South Korea. While his daring escape was captured on CCTV, something that is rarely shared with the public.


COREN (voice-over): A desperate run for freedom. This video shows the dramatic moment a 24-year-old North Korean soldier left his post last week, running across the Demilitarized Zone, the DMZ, that divides North and South Korea.

It's one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world. First, in a Jeep, then on foot. He's pursued by his own comrades. They fired more than 40 shots. Doctors saying he was hit at least four times before reaching safety. These scenes captured on CCTV were played at a news conference in Seoul.

The U.N. command says that as the North Koreans pursued the defector, they violated an armistice agreement between the two Koreas. The armistice dates back to 1953 with a cease-fire between the North and South, but the war has not officially ended.

U.S. forces Korea claim the North Korean People's Army, or KPA, fired across the military demarcation line and that one soldier crossed it briefly during the incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USC personnel at the JSA notified KPA of these violations today through our normal communication channels and Pan Moon Jah (ph) and requested a meeting to discuss our investigation and measures to prevent future such violations.

COREN (ON CAMERA): When the North Korean soldier arrived here at Adjou (ph) University Hospital on the outskirts of Seoul, he'd already lost more than 50 percent of his blood and was unconscious with barely a pulse. Doctors say he'd suffered gunshot wounds to his chest, shoulder, arms, and abdomen. And by the time he reached the operating theater, he was almost dead.

(VOICE-OVER): They found large parasitic worms, one nearly a foot long. After multiple surgeries, doctors say he is now conscious and able to talk.

LEE COOK-JONG, SURGEON (through translator): He and I have spoken a lot. And I feel that this North Korean soldier defected to South Korea of his own will.

COREN: The soldier is the third member of the North Korean armed forces to defect this year.


COREN: Now, the U.S.-led U.N. command has notified the North Koreans of the armistice violations and demanded a meeting. No comment on this and the North Koreans about this latest defection.

Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

CUOMO: What a story. What a video. Anna Coren, thank you.

CAMEROTA: I mean, the -- you just get to see with your own eyes the desperation of even the soldiers. I mean, imagine regular people. And the soldier just risking, obviously, his life to try to make it to freedom.

CUOMO: And also a little bit of a window into the fragility of the situation there. I wonder if everything that wasn't going on right now is going on, would they have crossed the border; would they have shot across like that? We'll stay on the story.

All right. President Trump breaking with GOP leaders, defending Roy Moore. A lot of his supporters say, "Well, no, no, he didn't say he believes Roy Moore." He made it clear he is supporting Moore in the race. Why is he doing this? We ask a supporter next.



[07:23:16] TRUMP: Roy Moore denies it. And by the way, he gives a 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.


CUOMO: All of that signals support by President Trump for Senate candidate Roy Moore, despite the serious child molestation accusations the man is facing.

What does this mean for other Republicans? Are they now going to throw their weight behind Roy Moore? Joining us now is Republican Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey. Very important guest, serves on the House Ethics Committee. They're looking into Democrat John Conyers. Key on the tax bill. So we're going to talk about those things. Thank you for joining us, sir. And a happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Let's start with Roy Moore. First, what is your position on the accusations against Roy Moore?

REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: I believe the women, and I do not think he should be elected to the United States Senate, Chris.

CUOMO: People say innocent until proven guilty. Let the people of Alabama decide. The president says he denies it. Does that change your mind?

LANCE: It does not, and I agree with Senator Shelby, the distinguished senior United States senator from Alabama. I think he's sixth in seniority in the Senate, Senator Shelby. And he says he will not be voting for Judge Moore. And I agree with Senator Shelby.

CUOMO: Why do you think the president is doing something so different from your disposition?

LANCE: I don't know. I think that, regarding tax reform, we should try to have all sorts of members of the Senate vote for tax reform, not just the Republicans but Democrats, as well. And I think that we should move in that direction and not have a narrow victory in the tax reform issue.

[07:25:03] CUOMO: So do you think for the president it's about the math, getting that seat, even if it means supporting somebody like Roy Moore?

LANCE: That was what Kellyanne Conway had suggested. I hope that the people of Alabama might write in a Republican. I'm a Republican, Chris, and I want a Republican to win, but I hope it might be a write- in.

CUOMO: Is it fair criticism of this move to say the president by this move does not value women the way he should?

LANCE: I would hope that the president values women. He spoke yesterday about the fact that it's a good thing that women are coming forward. And it is a good thing. And I would urge that to continue. And we need to do a much better job in society, and we need to do a better job in Congress.

CUOMO: Can you believe that and then say, "But you're not going to take the women's side against Roy Moore. You're going to take his denials." Do those two ideas go together in your mind?

LANCE: In my view, we should believe the women, and I believe the women.

CUOMO: Difficult spot, right? If you say that but then you back Roy Moore, how can I believe the first part?

LANCE: I think we should believe the women.

CUOMO: All right. Let's talk taxes. But first, you also look into Conyers. You look on the Ethics Committee, Conyers, Democrat. Very long serving. These settlements that seem to be new to everybody's mind. I don't know how that can be. There's a treasury set up. These settlements been going on for a long time. But how seriously do you take this investigation? What are your thoughts on it?

LANCE: I do not comment ever, Chris, on what may be coming to the Ethics Committee or may not be coming to the Ethics Committee. But I want to assure your viewership that the Ethics Committee is completely bipartisan, five Republicans and five Democrats. And if any matter were to come before the Ethics Committee, we would investigate it fairly. I do not comment on what is before us or not before us.

CUOMO: Fine. These settlements, how are you guys OK with these settlements, and letting this fund be set up in the Treasury with my money?

LANCE: I think that all of that should be made public moving forward. And I believe transparency is the best way to proceed regarding these matters. And I was not even aware of this and...

CUOMO: You didn't know that there were settlements that have been paid by anybody in Congress? All you guys do is talk about each other down there. You didn't know anything about these?

LANCE: Perhaps I'm not the person who engages in the most level of gossip in the cloak room. But I think transparency is important moving forward.

CUOMO: Now that you know, should my money go to pay for somebody else's settlements who's in Congress?


CUOMO: Will you back one of those measures to make sure that it's one of you guys who pays if God forbid you're in a situation?


CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much. Taxes. The bill as it stands now, are you for it?

LANCE: I'm against it because of several reasons. Particularly important to New Jersey and New York is SALT, the continued deductibility of state and local taxes.

CUOMO: Why? You fat cats from these big states on the East Coast, you want to help the wealthy. You say it's about middle class, but they don't file for the SALT deductions the way the upper tier does. Why should federal taxpayers and the entire country subsidize your largesse?

LANCE: This has been in the code since 1913. It's a matter of federalism. And we shouldn't be paying taxes on taxes. And that's what happens when there is no deductibility of SALT.

CUOMO: Wait a minute. Why is it taxes on taxes? You pay your federal taxes. You get deductions for the federal side. State and local, that's on you. That's on your municipalities, and their size, and their expense.

Why should you get a break on the federal side for what you choose to spend on the state and local side?

LANCE: Because taxes are taxes, and if you pay taxes locally, you shouldn't have to pay taxes at the federal level on that. Additionally...

CUOMO: You don't pay taxes on the federal level on that. You pay your local tax. You pay your state tax. You pay your federal tax.

LANCE: I also don't want winner states and loser states and incidentally New Jersey contributes more to Washington per capita and gets less back than any state in the nation. We get about 60 cents on each dollar we send to Washington. And so we are subsidizing other states. And I certainly think that this should stay in the code.

CUOMO: So if they fix SALT, are you on board with the bill?

LANCE: I think that there are other concerns regarding the levels of the deficits. This would increase the overall debt by about a trillion and a half over -- over 10 years. And I tend to be a budget hawk.

CUOMO: Do you think it's a middle-class tax cut, that this is what -- that's what this is designed to be, to advantage that group of people?

LANCE: Many in the middle class will be helped, but certainly there are also corporate reductions from 35 percent to 20 percent. And I might favor reductions from about 35 percent to 25 percent, because that is the rate at which small businesses will be paying taxes.

CUOMO: Is the mandate repeal a make or break for you?

LANCE: I think that's mixing apples and oranges, and I would prefer that that not be in it. And I'm not sure that's going to be in the Senate bill.

CUOMO: Some very independent thoughts from you, Congressman Lance. Thank you for being with us.

LANCE: Thank you.

CUOMO: The best for Thanksgiving and your family. You're always welcome here. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. The president taking on the AT&T and Time Warner deal again. What he's saying now.