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Bannon Speaks with Roy Moore; Don Jr. Testifies on the Hill. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired December 6, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:30:00] STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: He had five sons, not one day of service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinky finger than your entire family has in his whole DNA.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Now something that Steve Bannon did not bring up last night in a state that President Trump won overwhelmingly in the election last year was that President Trump also received five draft deferments from serving in Vietnam, including one for bone spurs. But when Counselor Kellyanne Conway was on CNN this morning in an interview with Chris Cuomo, she sought to put some distance between those comments from Steve Bannon on Mitt Romney and the White House, saying that the president and Mitt Romney spoke last night and that they have a great relationship.

But, Poppy, she didn't say if the president would support Mitt Romney if he ran for Senate in Utah.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, not something he's wild about, which has been pretty clear from his comments in Utah this week.

Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much.

We have a lot to discuss. Joining me now, CNN political commentators Kevin Madden, Ron Brownstein, Jackie Kucinich.

Nice to have you all here. There's a lot going on. Don Jr. is coming to the Hill to testify behind closed doors. You've got new questions about what the Vice President Mike Pence knew, and you also have Roy Moore. So let's begin with that.

And Jackie Kucinich, to you, an interesting new tweet out, series of tweets this morning from Republican Senator Ben Sasse. Let me read you two of them about the party right now and renewed funding for Roy Moore. Quote, "This sends a terrible message to victims. It's not that the party won't believe you if you come forward. It might, but it just doesn't care."

He also writes, "This is a bad decision and a very sad day. I believe the women and the RNC previously did, too. What has changed or is the party just indifferent? Is the party just indifferent?"

That is a scary question for Republicans ahead of the midterms, is it not, Jackie?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it remains to be seen because, I mean, it's hard to say how these things will play nationwide at this point, because of -- we are in the Trump era. Some things that used to matter don't seem to at this point. And Republicans, right now, if you're looking at -- depending on what poll you're looking at, are successfully making a push that this is about -- this is bigger than Roy Moore.

Who cares if your candidate might have done something morally reprehensible? It's about -- put your eye on the prize. This is about a Republican vote in the Senate. Now you have individual senators like Ben Sasse coming out and saying that's not what I stand for. But the party as a whole, right now, is embracing Roy Moore and, you know, as you said, they're the ones who are going to be perhaps reaping the consequences of this come 2018.

HARLOW: But, Kevin Madden, is that a wise move, politically, strategically? Get the votes, get the agenda passed? Is that a short-sighted view?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is. I would argue it's short-sighted. But I think that's the split within the party, Poppy, which is, to Jackie's point, which is there are a larger majority inside the party right now is more focused on winning and more animated by partisan tribalism, which is that to defend our -- the guy who's wearing our jersey at all costs in an effort to do battle with the political left.

I think the bigger problem is what are the long-term effects of that?

HARLOW: Right.

MADDEN: And Roy Moore is essentially going to -- should he be successful on December 12th, he's going to cast a very long shadow over the party. And 2018 could very well be one of those election cycles, where we're litigating everything through the lens of whether or not you were for or against someone like Roy Moore. Or, do you defend or do you criticize some of the statements that Roy Moore is sure to make -- has made in the past and sure to make from here all the way to November 2018. So that, I think, is where it continues to be a difficult long-term challenge for the party.

HARLOW: Ron Brownstein, the fact that Steve Bannon, you know, rallied for Moore last night in Alabama by hitting Mitt Romney over his lack of military service and his children for their lack of military service, lest we forget that President Trump for whom he served as a chief strategist had five draft deferments from serving in Vietnam, four for college, one for bone spurs, and none of his children have served in the military. Seriously?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you can't make this stuff up, right? But, you know, kind of the chutzpah of Steve Bannon to level that particular attack against Mitt Romney. But there's a kind of fundamental flaw in kind of the larger vision, which is that if you -- Steve Bannon's vision is kind of driving out from the party or kind of making an anathema in the party the Mitt Romneys, the Jeff Flakes, even the Ben Sasses.

The problem is, they embody the kind of voters who are already pulling away from the Republican Party in the Donald Trump, essentially white collar professional white voters, especially women, a problem that will be compounded if Roy Moore wins. If you succeed in driving those people out, you are left with -- you are not left with a big enough coalition to govern, certainly to win the presidency.

[10:35:05] And you know, I don't know whether Roy Moore is going to win or not, but I'm pretty confident that when we get the results out of Alabama, we will see the same demographic pattern that we saw in Virginia confirmed which is strong turnout and strong showings for Democrats among millennials and minorities, better than you usually see in an off-year election.

A movement towards the Democrats among white collar whites, especially women, but Republicans holding the blue collar and rural whites. That may be enough for Roy Moore in Alabama. It's not going to be enough for a lot of the Republicans in suburban districts in 2018.

HARLOW: That's a good point and an important differentiation.

Let's take a listen, guys, to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who was also attacked by Steve Bannon last night, responding this morning.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: We're not going to lose any nominations to the kind of candidates that guy you are talking about endorsed. What he's a specialist in is nominating people who lose.


HARLOW: Kevin? I mean, Mitch McConnell has his own problems, you know, chief among them, you know, really bad polling for Congress as a whole. Having feuds with the president, having a tough time getting legislation through. Is this a smart political strategy for him?

MADDEN: Well, I think the smart part of it, he is the epitome of a disciplined politician. And a disciplined leader for his party. I think he's much more focused on the big goal, which is enacting the Republican agenda. And again, that's why I think so much of this controversy is short-sighted because Steve Bannon and others that are critics of Leader McConnell will relentlessly criticize him.

But he is key right now, he is key to enacting the agenda that the president is proposing. Whether it has to do with tax reform or, you know, making sure that we have a conservative judiciary. And he's been very successful on that, to this point. There is a lot of criticism about how the health care -- Obamacare repeal was handled, but, you know, in tax reform, they're actually getting another shot at it. So it's just, again, another short-sighted approach to just constantly focus criticism on Leader McConnell.

HARLOW: It's interesting, because, Jackie, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the morality of this in an exchange with our Jim Acosta. Let's listen.

Oh, we don't have that. But essentially, she was asked by Jim Acosta how would the -- you know, the morality issue here for the president in backing Roy Moore versus the agenda issue. And the White House came back, Sarah Sanders, and says, "We've said the allegations are concerning. If true he should step aside, but we don't have a way to validate that, that's up to the people of Alabama."

Any political risk for the president? Because it seems like his calculation has been this week, no, no political risk in backing Moore?

KUCINICH: Well, so that remains -- again, that remains to be seen. Right now the president hasn't received any sort of repercussions for backing Moore. If Moore wins, they're going to look at that as the president helped make that happen. And it isn't about morality. It's about politics.

Now behind closed doors, the "Daily Beast" has reported the president really isn't concerned about Roy Moore. And he's actually looking at this more of -- as more women accusing a man in power, who didn't do anything. He's kind of internalizing it with the "Access Hollywood" allegations.

HARLOW: Right.

KUCINICH: So, I -- it remains to be seen whether in 2018, voters will come because let's not forget. Alabama is a conservative state. If Luther Strange was the person running in this seat, we wouldn't even be talking about this. So the fact -- so, you know, at the end of the day, we'll have to see whether, in places like Ron was saying, in places like Virginia, there are, you know, more repercussions.

BROWNSTEIN: Poppy, can I add real quick?

HARLOW: Very quickly, yes.

BROWNSTEIN: Real quick. In "The Washington Post" poll, in Alabama last week, Doug Jones was running 58 percent of college-educated white women. That's exactly the same number that Ralph Northam got in Virginia. That is the cost of this. And if you see that extended into 2018, even without the blue collar white women, there are a lot of suburban Republicans who simply cannot survive that level of defection. So Donald Trump is reinforcing a dynamic that's already threatening them in 2018.

HARLOW: Interesting. All right. Thank you, Ron, Kevin, Jackie. Nice to have you all. Thanks so much.

MADDEN: Good to be with you. HARLOW: So these California wildfires, they are out of control this

morning. You've got just wild images right next to the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles closed in the northbound direction. Flames threatening the heart of Los Angeles. A live report, next.


[10:43:45] HARLOW: All right. Back to the breaking news out of southern California this morning. The fast-moving wildfire hitting the heart of Los Angeles. Take a look at this new video. That's right. The vantage point from the gridlock there in Los Angeles, look how close it is to those flames. They are surrounding part of the 405 Freeway. Officials have shut down the 405 on the northbound side in those areas.

Two hundred firefighters, over 200 firefighters battling that blaze, just there. Plus, the mayor has just issued a mandatory evacuation east of the 405, and that's just one blaze. Another huge wildfire raging up the coast in Ventura County. That is where Stephanie Elam is. We also have our Kristen Holmes, as well there. Stephanie is in a neighborhood. Kristen is along the Pacific Coast Highway.

So, Stephanie, to you first. This seems to have just exploded out of control, and so fast, so close to these residential areas in Los Angeles.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's very true. And you take a look at it, Poppy, we just got an update on this fire, where I am, the Thomas Fire. And they're still saying it is burning out of control. That is the terminology being used. It is not contained. 50,000 acres that have been charred at this point. And leaving devastation like this. 2

Now that the sun is up, I can show you exactly what this looks like. And you can see behind it, the hillside behind it, the hillside behind it, you see the houses are still fine.

[10:45:03] But on that ridge, on the backside of that ridge, we drove through there overnight and it is still very much, a lot of flame, back in areas where you may not have a lot of cell signal, but there are homes back there, and they are definitely still in jeopardy there.

And what you're seeing down as far as this other fire that's burning right along the 405, causing them to shut down part of the freeway there between the 10 and the 101 Freeways, obviously huge gridlock. But more importantly, you've also got these homes that are threatened by those fire racing up there. As well as the Getty Museum.

It's also closing down some schools in the area. The school district for Malibu and Santa Monica. That unified school district closing down for the day because of this. And that's a much smaller fire at 50 acres. But because it's so densely populated, Poppy, that is why it is so scary.

HARLOW: These pictures are unreal, as we're looking at them.

Stephanie, thank you. Stay with us.

Kristen, over to you. You're near the PCH, right? You're near one of these main freeways, highways in California. You've got a smoke mask on for reasons. We can see all of it behind you. What can you tell us?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. And I want to go immediately to this thing that's happening behind me here. Look at this fire growing. This didn't even exist when we first got on with you just two moments ago. A tiny little blaze and now it has completely spread up the hill. And that just indicates that these winds are picking up.

We have seen so many crews all along the Pacific Coast Highway today. They are trying to take advantage of the fact that these Santa Ana winds have completely died down. We're in a lull right now. We saw a crew right over to my left. You can see this actual scorched earth. This was completely on fire just about half an hour ago.

We saw two crews came up, they used four hoses, axes, trying to bring this down, and yet, it's still smoldering, again, half an hour later. But this is really something else, Poppy. Watching this grow behind me. And this is what they're experiencing all over southern California, is it looks like small flames, crews trying to fight this, but then the wind picks up and they just jump and grow.

These flames, I mean, they look so high from here and we are probably a mile away. So it's really incredible to watch. And this is just one of the problems that firefighters are facing here, as these winds pick up, which they are expected to do. These fires are going to continue to jump and to grow -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, Kristen, thank you very much.

And Stephanie, just back to you, I mean, if we could pull up these images of the Getty Center, right? This is a huge center right up the hill from the 405, right next to residential Los Angeles. I mean, what are the expectations -- look at it, it's surrounded on three or four sides. What are the expectations as they say these blazes are not contained?

ELAM: Well, and that's part of the reason why they are shutting down the freeway, is that because you don't want to have other people put into danger, as well. They want to be able to take all of their resources and focus it on this blaze that is so close to this museum and also to these homes there. That is going to be the priority. To be able to get people in there and work, firefighters in there to work to contain these buildings.

Obviously they started on it right away. This fire started right around 5:00 in the morning, local time. And people driving by saying they could feel the heat of it. That is how hot it is. That's why it's so the dangerous and they want the area clear.

HARLOW: Wow. Stephanie, Kristen, thank you both very much for your reporting. We appreciate it. We'll, of course, be on this all day long.

Meantime, ahead for us, the International Olympic Committee banning Russia from the upcoming winter games in South Korea. The "Bleacher Report" is next.


[10:52:59] HARLOW: Welcome back. "Sports Illustrated" honoring quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his social justice work. And he is honored with help from a special guest.

Coy Wire has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." What a night.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: What a night, Poppy. This was a huge star-studded event. Even CNN's Poppy Harlow was on the guest list.

This "Bleacher Report" presented by the new --

HARLOW: But I was not there. I was not there. I was home with a sick kid. I wish I was there.

WIRE: Yes, I know you do. This "Bleacher Report" presented by the new 2018 Ford F-150. This was last night in Brooklyn, at "Sports Illustrated's" "Sports Person of the Year" show. Beyonce presented Colin Kaepernick an award that was named after one of his idols. Listen.


BEYONCE, ARTIST: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm so proud and humbled to present the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award to Colin Kaepernick.


COLIN KAEPERNICK, MUHAMMAD ALI LEGACY AWARD RECIPIENT: I accept this award knowing that the legacy of Muhammad Ali is that of a champion of the people and one who was affectionately known as the people's champ.

I accept this award not for myself but on behalf of the people because if it were not for my love for the people I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today.

With or without the NFL's platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people.


WIRE: All right. And we have to tell you about the most wide-ranging punishment ever given by the International Olympic Committee. Russia has been banned from the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. The committee determined that Russian athletes benefitted from systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules. More than 20 Russian athletes have lost medals from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and have been banned for life, though they have filed an appeal. Now Russian athletes who can prove they are clean, however, can be

invited to compete in Pyeongchang this February, where they would wear a uniform that says "Olympic Athlete From Russia" and would hear the Olympic anthem played at medal ceremonies instead of their own nation's song should they win gold. 2

Poppy, this is a big, big hammer that dropped yesterday for Russia.

[10:55:05] HARLOW: Yes. It's a big deal, indeed. All right, Coy Wire, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

There is a lot going on. The breaking news, of course, in California, the wildfires. We're going to keep tracking that for you.

Also, the president's son right now behind closed doors, testifying under oath on Capitol Hill, in front of members of the House Intelligence Committee. We are following all of the developments. Stay with us.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduon.