Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Democrats Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race; Trump Tweets Congratulations to Jones; President Trump Attacks Senator Gillibrand; Trump's Final Pitch for Tax Reform; San Francisco Mayor's Sudden Death. Aired 3-4 a.m. ET>.

Aired December 13, 2017 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[03:00:11] DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATOR-ELECT: I have been waiting all my life and now I just don't know what the hell to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A seismic shift in the U.S. senate, Doug Jones is the first Democrat to win in Alabama in a quarter century, the vote already leading to calls for a shakeup inside the White House.

Good morning, welcome to Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs. It was a shocker. Were you stunned when you woke up?

ROMANS: You know, I had no idea how this thing was going to go. I just had no idea how that race is going to go.

BRIGGS: I was stun to read the results, Wednesday, December 13th. It is 3:00 a.m. in east, 2:00 in the center of the political universe, which is Alabama, this morning Democrat Doug Jones turning deep red Alabama blue, capping off a long shot campaign with stunning win over Republican Roy Moore in last night's high stakes Senate race.

Jones taking 49.9 percent of the vote, 1.5 points ahead of Moore, who could not overcome sexual misconduct allegations that plagued him from the outset.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Alabama has been at a crossroads. We have been at crossroads in the past. And unfortunately, we have usually taken the wrong fork. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road. As Dr. King liked to quote, the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Roy Moore quoted scripture as he talked to his supporters. He refused to concede telling his supporters, it's not over and it's going to take some time. His campaign insisting a recount is possible depending on write-in and military ballots. But Alabama's state Republican Party says it's over and Alabama's Secretary of State says it is highly unlikely the outcome will change.

Our coverage of this historic election begins Montgomery with CNN's Eric Bradner.

Eric, what tilt of this race to Doug Jones?

ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, a big part of why Doug Jones won was absolutely huge turnout from African-American voters. Black voters made up 30 percent of the electorate according to CNN's exit polls that's even bigger than in 2008 and 2012, the presidential election.

So the Jones campaign had really focus on turning out African-American voters bringing people like civil rights icon, John Lewis, the Congressman from Georgia. Now, Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey into the area -- Charles Barkley, the basketball star to campaign, to try to turnout African-American voters. It worked.

The other big element of success was suburbanized either staying at home or switching parties. These are two ingredients that are important, not just here in Alabama but in 2018 heading into the midterms. It's what Democrats hope will be for success for taking the House.

The other big lesson here is that candidates matter. Roy Moore was nowhere to be found on the campaign trail, the final week he had just about two events he took two and a half days off the trail, to leave the state going a vacation with his wife and that really indeed up hurting him, whereas Jones was absolutely everywhere campaigning in dozens of places every weekend.

ROMANS: All right, Eric Bradner for us in Montgomery as we're digging through this exit poll, saying, you know, who turned out and why and what tipped Doug Jones just across the finish line. Thank you so much for that, Eric.

BRIGGS: All right, President Trump was all in on Roy Moore and when it was clear the Republican seat was lost, his reaction was extraordinarily tame by Trump standards. The president tweeting, "Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!

ROMANS: But a White House source tells CNN the result is devastating for the president, describing it as an earthquake, the finger-pointing already underway with calls for the President to replace his political director Bill Stepien.

BRIGGS: Let's go live to Washington, and bring in Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," and from Los Angeles Political Commentator Mo'Kelly, host of the "Mo'Kelly Show Radio Show."

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning to both of you.

MO KELLY, HOST, "THE MO'KELLY SHOW": Good morning.

BRIGGS: Let's just get your reaction to what is a stunning defeat for the Republican Party, for the President, for Roy Moore. Sarah, I will start with you.

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, absolutely. This is a brow to President Trump's credibility once again not only did he back the losing candidate in the Republican primary, Senator Luther Strange, who was originally appointed to fill that vacancy but he indeed up backing the loser in the general as well. This is the President who really likes to be associated with winners, someone who doesn't usually tolerate losing very graciously.

And so for him to be part of a race that was a loser in very run state where Republicans expected to win is obviously just a phycological blow to the White House, as well as a very real political won because the lost of Republican Senate seat could certainly imperil the rest of the President's agenda and it puts a taking time bomb on tax reform get done before Doug Jones seated.

[03:05:21] BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: Right.

Mo, let's talk about the anatomy of this win for Doug Jones as weaker but it looks as though African-Americans and women, especially women who are mothers of children under 18 --

BRIGGS: Suburban.

ROMANS: Suburban moms, took him over the edge. But when you dig in with this numbers, two what I think is super interesting is that white women lean toward Roy Moore?

KELLY: There was nothing that was palatable by Roy Moore if you happen to be a women, you happen to be African-American. We're talking about a candidate who was pro-slavery adjacent, a candidate who was pro for -- anti-14th Amendment. If you can't beat a guy like this, then the Democrats would never have one. It was stunning victory.

But the RNC, the Republican Party should be very concern because the stain of Roy Moore last beyond this election because he went all in on this candidate. And so by association they are seen as the party of Roy Moore even though he lost.

BRIGGS: The African-American turned out numbers was pointed out exceeding Obama level numbers, Mo, which is just stunning when you consider this is a special election. This is the only reason they come out and vote. 22,000 people came out and voted for a write-in knowing they have no factor in this election. Just to come out and say, no, I will not have this. What can you read into that as we approach 2018?

KELLY: I would say that, that is emblematic of the dwindling power and import of the President in terms of influencing elections. Yes, President Trump won a year ago but because of his actions, because of his influence he is now motivating those on the left side of the aisle those who are liberals and even moderates to come out.

He is energized to Democrats and the democratic base in a way that Hillary Clinton could not. And that is not portent well for the Republicans going into 2018.

ROMANS: What happens now on the President in this response, Sarah, and we're hearing this reporting from Maggie Haberman overnight that, you know, he had this kind of tame tweet, where is the blame game going to be, looking like do you think?

WESTWOOD: Well, certainly, President Trump is probably going to have something additional to say besides the very congratulatory, conciliatory tweet that he put out earlier this evening. We really don't know what defeated President Trump looks like. This is probably the biggest political defeat that he has been dealt since he is been office and other special election that have taken place since he was president like in Georgia, like in Kansas, Montana. Republicans have won and so President Trump hasn't had to grapple with this kind of defeat.

So it will be very interesting to see how he reacts and how he end Republican leaders in Congress come to terms with the fact that getting their agenda through is going to be that much harder until 2018 because the margins in the Senate, which were already extremely thin, Republican are going to get just another vote dinner.

BRIGGS: Roy Moore's own political strategies ahead of this election said, this is Donald Trump on trial, if the people of Alabama vote for Doug Jones, they're voting against the President, that's from the Roy Moore campaign. What about the Steve Bannon war on incumbent Republicans is his power done as we know it, Mo?

KELLY: I don't think so. He can always stay on the periphery and be a thorn this side. He is always made it very clear that he is opposite of Lindsey Graham and what Lindsey Graham is trying to do. So if anything Steve Bannon may not have a type of cachet or the power that many people thought that he had but that doesn't change his direction. That doesn't change his intent or what he plans to do as far as trying to push through his specific agenda, which I view is somewhat different from the President.

ROMANS: Let me read to you something from the Senate Leadership Fund from Steven Law, the CEO of the Senate Leadership Fund. "This is a brutal remainder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running. Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco," Sarah? WESTWOOD: Absolutely. There are a lot of folks who are going to be asking whether Steve Bannon has incredibility left heading into 2018 when he plan to back challenges to a lot of Republican incumbents and there are a lot of questions about whether the Senate Leadership Fund and other groups took the right approach to the Republican primary.

Remember that there was another Republican candidate in this race, Congressman Mo Brooks, who was seen a bomb thrower in Congress but someone who had been vetted by a Congressional race before someone who could have easily glided to victory during the general election and the Senate Leadership Fund Senator Mitch McConnell went all out to prevent Mo Brooks from entering the run off with Luther Strange because as you remember a lot of establishment Republicans were behind Luther Strange who lost support to Moore (ph). So there have been a lot of questions about whether the Republican Party really batch this from the get go by blocking insurgent candidate who actually had a chance to win in the general election.

[03:10:25] BRIGGS: Finally, Mo, can Democrats override the results here? This was a historically bad candidate for the Republican Party. He checked virtually every box of the bad candidate form that you might fill out, can they override this?

KELLY: Oh, absolutely. In you question was the answer. We're talking about the special election in December against a candidate which would never ever happen again. And you had a candidate who won and Doug Jones who was just melt toss enough where he didn't offend anyone.

These circumstances where never appear again. And yes, it does change the trajectory going in the 2018 but it doesn't decide what is going to happen in 2018. If I where Democrat and I'm not I would say, be happy in the moment but don't get so happy that you overplay your hand moving forward.

BRIGGS: It is stunning above all else. There's a lot of single issue voters in Alabama and they vote on abortion. We have a pro-choice senator from the state of Alabama first Democrat in 25 years. We'll check in with you guys in about 30 minutes.

ROMANS: Thank you, nice to see you bright in early or late depending on your perspective and your coast.

All right, was the President making a sexual insinuation, when he said a New York senator would do anything for campaign contributions? This morning, one editorial says the President isn't fit to clean toilets. My goodness, more next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:15:49] ROMANS: All right, the President tweeting, causing controversy. This time he is taking heat for a -- taking on New York's Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. He is calling for the President resignation citing many sexual misconduct allegations against him. Now the President is under fired for tweeting Gillibrand would come to my office begging for campaign contributions not so long ago and would do anything for them.

BRIGGS: The President's critics claim he was insinuating the senator would accept sexual favors for financial supporter. He is not closing the door to that. This scathing indictment of Mr. Trump from typically restrained "USA Today" editorial board, "A president who would all but call Senator Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush. This isn't about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Donald Trump, the man is uniquely awful."

More now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

President Trump has injected himself squarely in the middle of the sexual harassment debate once again, going after in a personal way Senator Gillibrand of New York, calling her a lightweight who would, "do anything for political contributions." This prompted this uproar over what the President meant by do anything for contributions.

At the White House briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- many including the Senator -- thinks that it's about sexual innuendos.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I mean, only if your mind is in the gutter would have read it that way. And -- so, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So, Sanders pushing back on the fact that there was any sexual innuendo intended by the do-anything remark. But as for Senator Gillibrand, she reacted strongly to the President. She was on Capitol Hill joined by other Democrats throughout the day saying that President Trump simply cannot talk like this to Democratic senators or others.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: It was a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice and I will not be silenced on this issue. Neither will the woman who stood up to the President yesterday and neither will the millions of women who have been marching since the women's march to stand up against policies they do not agree with.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZELENY: So this back and forth puts President Trump again in the middle of this sexual harassment debate that's shaking the world of politics, media and Hollywood. The President is saying he did not do what any of his accusers said. Now, many Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for his resignation or congressional investigation into any of that.

As for the White House, Sarah Sanders said the President would not participate in any type of investigation on Capitol Hill and any of these allegations of wrongdoing. Dave and Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Jeff Zeleny, at the White House for us this morning. Thanks Jeff.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announcing the U.S. is ready for talks at North Korea without preconditions. He made the remark Tuesday at the Atlantic Council in Washington, Tillerson making it clear if North Korea makes bad choices, the U.S. is prepared to act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're ready to talk any time they'd like to talk. But they have to come to the table and they have to come to the table with a view that they do want to make a different choice. In the meantime, our military preparedness is strong. I will continue our diplomatic efforts until the first bomb drops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Pyongyang has dramatically ramped up the pace of its military program in 2017. Since February, the regime has fired off 23 missiles.

[03:19:24] All right, ahead, President Trump making his final pitch today on tax reform promising big benefits for years to come, but the bill could have an immediate impact on your paycheck. Details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: All right, the House and the Senate working to reconcile their two different tax bills. President Trump making his final pitch on tax reform. He's set to give a speech at the White House today on how the bill will help all Americans.

He says, polls show low approval for both plans but GOP leaders promise big benefits if the final bill passes and they say that they're still on track for a vote next week.

But first, there's a lot of negotiating to be done. The latest round is centered on the corporate rate and if it will be cut to 22 percent, not 20 percent as promised. The President has conceded that could be a possibility 22 percent. Doing so, it would create $200 billion in much needed revenue over 10 years. That's because both bills propose big corporate tax cuts that add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, with no guarantee it will add jobs or raise wages. However, it will spell big changes to your paycheck right away. If passed, several payroll provisions begin January 1. Like how much tax is withheld from your paycheck. Higher taxes on bonuses and commission and many tax-free benefits become taxable, meaning you could pay more. In fact, employers have been imploring the White House and Republican Congress to keep this in mind, and how quickly they are going. How hard it will be for them to make some of these changes so quickly.

[03:25:16] BRIGGS: They are going to have to just light speed this thing through before Doug Jones is seated.

This morning, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton expected to name a replacement for Senator Al Franken. "The Minneapolis Star Tribune" reporting he will choose his Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith as Minnesota's next U.S. senator. Sources say she plans to run for the seat in the special election next year. Franken announced last week his intention to resign after he was accused of improper conduct toward more than a half a dozen women. But the selection of Tina Smith, Minnesota will now have two female senators for the first time in U.S. history and in Minnesota history Amy Klobuchar, the Democrat is of course the other one. That is an interesting development.

One of the most reliably Republican states in the nation, Alabama is blue this morning. Doug Jones defeating Roy Moore in a highly contested Alabama Senate race, the fallout for the President and what's in store for the 2018 midterms and for the President's legislative agenda, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[03:30:48] JONES: I have been waiting all my life and now I just don't know what the hell to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Say for the first time in 25 years, the Democrats wins a Senate seat in deep red Alabama. Doug Jones with major upset of a Roy Moore, how is the President handling the defeat and can Democrats carry this momentum in 2018?

This is big international news. Folks, good morning, it is front-page news in the U.K., in France, in Spain, in Germany, things were getting an early start with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And certainly it's the top story here in the United States. I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour, democratic Doug Jones turning deep red Alabama blue, capping off his long shot campaign with a stunning win over Republican Roy Moore in last night's high stakes Senate race.

Jones taking 49.9 percent of the vote, 1.5 points ahead of Moore, who could not overcome sexual misconduct allegations that plagued him from the onset. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Alabama has been at a crossroads. We have been at crossroads in the past and unfortunately, we have usually taken the wrong fork. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road.

As Dr. King liked to quote, "The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Moore quoted scripture as he talk to his supporters refusing to concede, telling them "it's not over" and it's going to take some time. His campaign insisting a recount is possible, depending on write-in and military ballots. But, the Alabama state Republican Party says it's over. Alabama's secretary of state says it's highly unlikely the outcome will change.

And our coverage of this historic election begins in Montgomery with CNN's Eric Bradner, good morning to you. How do it?

BRADNER: Well, a big part of Jone's victory was massive turnout from African-American voters. According to CNN's exit polls, black voters made up 30 percent of the electorate here. That's a bigger share of the electorate that they made up in 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

That was a key focus on the Jones campaign in the closing days and weeks. They brought in civil rights icon John Lewis, the Georgia Congressman, Cory Booker, the New Jersey senator, Charles Barkley, the NBA star, other African-American leaders to try to turnout the black vote and they're tremendously successful in that regard.

Another key was suburbanized, people that typically vote Republican here in Alabama either staying home or in some cases switching over and voting for Jones.

Now, this is a recipe the Democrats hope they can replicate in the 2018 midterms if it work in Alabama, it could work in other more competitive states.

The other element here is that candidate quality matters. Roy Moore was a uniquely controversial candidate and he all but disappeared from the campaign trail, the final week or so of the race, only holding a couple of events. President Trump, of course, tried to get him over the hurdle but our exit polls found that even President Trump is not that popular anymore in Alabama, only about half of the voters here, the job that he is doing, Dave.

BRIGGS: That is stunning for President that won Alabama by 28 points, one year ago. All right, thank you my friend. We'll check back to you next hour.

ROMANS: So President Trump was all in on Moore. Remember he call them and said, go get him Roy, when it was clear the Republican seat was lost, the President's reaction was tame by Trump standards. The president tweeting, "Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!"

BRIGGS: But a White House source tells CNN the result is "devastating" for the President, describing it as an earthquake, finger-pointing already underway with calls for the President to replace his political director, Bill Stepien.

The President, Christine has a great point about the write-in votes which were larger than the market in this election.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: But those write-in votes they showed up to just send a signal to say to the President, to say to the Republicans that will not have this type of candidate represent our state.

[03:35:09] ROMANS: 22,000, right, let's go live to Washington and bring in Sarah Westwood, the White House correspondent for the "Washington Examiner;" and from Los Angeles Mo Kelly, host of the "Mo'Kelly Show Radio Show." And you talk about the -- none of the above votes here really tells you what -- just how hard fought that race was.

You know, Sarah, how important do you think it was that Senator Richard Shelby, the Senior Senator, Republican senator from the state just yesterday, a couple days ago said, he was not voting for Roy Moore. How important was that to Alabamians?

WESTWOOD: I think it was -- probably a critical factor. Shelby is someone who obviously commands a lot of credibility and clout in the state of Alabama. The fact that most elected Republicans kept their distance from Roy Moore, from the time of the first emergence of the allegations to Election Day. Probably played a factor. It was interesting that the President -- the Republican President was one of the only members of his party to reengage with Roy Moore after those allegations surface the RNC then began to put money resources back into the race but the RNC did not reengage in that race.

Senator Mitch McConnell was never a fun of Roy Moore and even questioned as early as yesterday whether he would even allow Roy Moore to have committee assignments he joins the U.S. Senate. So certainly, the fact that most of the Republican Part remain a line against Roy Moore up until Election Day, dealt the blue to his chances.

BRIGGS: Mo, millions of words in news papers in this country and around the world will be dedicated to what happened last night. A book may someday be written about what happened last night Alabama, but Jeff Flake, the Republican Senator from Arizona who is battled with the President may have summed it up best with two words in a tweet, decency wins. Was decency above all else the biggest message taken away from this win?

KELLY: It maybe the biggest message but I wouldn't say, it's the only message. I would say, the larger messages is this President is in trouble in the sense that he is all for three. I'm talking about Luther Strange, Ed Gillespie and now Roy Moore.

In terms of what happens now, this is a big moment for the Democrats. You can see that they've generated some momentum but I'm not so sure that it's a movement. And in terms of movement, now where Republican candidates and incumbents were they run to the President or away from him as we go into 2018. And that would tell me more than anything else.

ROMANS: Yes, I think the broader effect long term for the Democrats is remains to be seen on the states but is it fascinating to think about. What about the legislative agenda, Sarah, because you got the president speaking this afternoon at the White House, about tax reform, they want to get this done, they want to get done. They want to build to the President next week on tax reform. How does that legislative agenda play here?

WESTWOOD: Well, the White House must certainly be worried but the 52 seat majority that Republicans had is about to get one seat thinner as early as January when Doug Jones is expected to be seated. They can only lose one Republican now in any given policy moving forward. And that margin was already too thin to get Obamacare repeal over the finish line.

Tax reform already had one Republican defector. It could have more once it's comes up of conference. So certainly, this has become a raise against the clock for Republicans to pass tax reform before Doug Jones is seated. They already don't have a wiggle room as it is. They can't really afford to lose any of their margins in the Senate right now when they're working with such a critical piece of legislation. So they're going to try to get this out of comfort zone unto the President desk as soon as possible and it's not just a symbolic deadline anymore to have it done by Christmas, now it becomes a procedural one.

ROMANS: Just a week ago, Dave, you were hearing whispers from Republicans that they were so confident on tax reform. They were going to look real quickly into next year on entitlement reform.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: You know, they wanted to move on to entitlements and you wonder if maybe there's some cold water on some of that impetus?

BRIGGS: You would have to think. And as we move beyond that in the Senate, Mo, Nevada, very much in play, Arizona very much in play, if Democrats can hang on in West Virginia, in North Dakota, in Missouri, are we talking about the potential of a Chuck Schemer Majority Leader?

KELLY: Well, the potential is there. I'm not sure, the reality is there. There was the potential back in 2016 and we had a Republican held majority and also Donald Trump became President.

The Democrats have to be careful not to get ahead themselves and yes, they won the game but they have to won the world' series as they say. I would say that if you can demonstrate that you can flip Alabama, turn Alabama blue, then every seat is on the table after that.

BRIGGS: All right, Tennessee, they have a very popular candidate. The Democrats doing to former governor, it could be place (ph).

ROMANS: Guys, let's talk about women here for a minute, because this was the real story line of the last couple of weeks, all these women accusers coming out and talking about their interactions with him over the years.

[03:40:06] Before that, he was not an ideal candidate by Republican standards at all because of so many of the other things that he have said and done about gays, about African-Americans and other groups that have been offended by his policies and things he has said.

But women in particular, Sarah, we look here at mothers for example, so women, suburban women who have children under 18, 66 percent leaning toward Jones, 32 percent for Moore, but when you look at overall -- I think he overall won women, right? He overall won women, but when you look at women with children, he lost. What do you make of the gender breakdown here Sarah?

WESTWOOD: Well, in the case of President Trump after the Access Hollywood tape, there was a suspicion among a lot of observers that President Trump could no longer win the election because women would defect from him on mass and we didn't see that happen. So there was sort of an expectation heading into the Alabama race that Roy Moore could still win because women wouldn't necessarily abandon him over something that had to do with sexual misconduct.

But certain, we saw that women help put down Jones in the Senate seat. Some of them did in fact defect from Roy Moore. You can talk about the severity of the allegations against Roy Moore versus the severity of the allegations against President Trump but we did see a different pattern when it came to women voters in Alabama than we did with Trump after the Access Hollywood tape.

BRIGGS: But the African-American turnout really is the huge takeaway in the side of this election exceeding Obama levels but it wasn't just the sexual misconduct, child molestation allegations. Roy Moore said in 2011, getting rid of the amendments after the 10th would eliminate many problems. That includes the amendment to abolish slavery. Charles Barkley came in, Cory Booker came in and really rallied that vote. Mo, can they emulate that type of African-American turnout catching or anything close to it beyond Alabama?

KELLY: Well, yes and no. Yes if you can feel more candidates in opposition like Roy Moore but I mean he was the genie in the bottle.

BRIGGS: Right.

KELLY: He was the lightning strike, he was very specific. I mean how many candidates are you going to have? We're going to come out who are reminiscent of Bull Connor or maybe George Wallace. That's just not going to happen again. So Democrats have to be careful not to be complacent. African-American voters have to remember that it's not just this election and we should have -- we should be cautious not to ascribe the enthusiasm of what was going on in Alabama that is going to nationally spread around the country.

There's a long time between now and 2018 and also politics is still very local. The people voted in Alabama, probably one issue voters like the rest of the country but it does not mean that one issue is the same across the board. African-Americans are not homogenous.

ROMANS: All right, Mo, Sarah thank you so much you guys, really nice to see you this morning, great analysis.

BRIGGS: I appreciate it.

Was the President making a sexual insinuation when he said a New York senator would "do anything" for campaign contributions? This morning, one editorial in a national newspaper says, the President is not fit to clean toilets. More next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:47:40] BRIGGS: The President's tweeting triggering more controversy after taking on New York's Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand is calling for the President's resignation citing the many sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Now, Mr. Trump under fire for tweeting Gillibrand, "Would come to my office begging for campaign contributions not so long ago," and here's the kicker here, "would do anything for them."

ROMANS: I also like a begging is quotation marks. I don't know what that mean. Some of the punctuation, I don't know why that he is putting that in quotation marks.

President's critics claim this is insinuating that the Senator would accept sexual favors for financial support. This giving indictment of Mr. Trump from a typically restrained USA Today Editorial Board. Listen carefully. "A president who would all but call Senator Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush. This isn't about the policy differences we have with all president or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Donald Trump, the man is uniquely awful."

More now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

ZELENY: Good morning Christine and Dave. President Trump has injected himself squarely in the middle of the sexual harassment debate once again going after in a personal way Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, calling her a lightweight who would, quote, do anything for political contributions. This prompted this uproar over what the President meant by do anything for contributions.

At the White House briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many, including the Senator, think that it's about sexual innuendos?

SANDERS: I think only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way and so, no.

ZELENY: So, Sanders pushing back on the fact that there was any sexual innuendo intended by the do-anything remark. But as for Senator Gillibrand, she reacted strongly to the President. She was on Capitol Hill joined by other Democrats throughout the day saying that President Trump simply cannot talk like this to Democratic senators or others.

GILLIBRAND: It was a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice and I will not be silenced on this issue. Neither will the woman who stood up to the President yesterday and neither will the millions of women who have been marching since the women's march to stand up against policies they do not agree with.

[03:50:03] ZELENY: So this back and forth puts President Trump again in the middle of this sexual harassment debate that's shaking the world of politics, media and Hollywood. The President is saying he did not do what any of his accusers said. Now, many Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for his resignation or congressional investigation into any of that.

As for the White House, Sarah Sanders said the President would not participate in any type of investigation on Capitol Hill and any of these allegations of wrongdoing. Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

Series of anti-Trump messages exchanged between top FBI employees released the lawmakers on Capitol Hill. One of those employees, Peter Strzok was recently removed from the Special Counsel investigation into Russian election meddling.

The message spent more than a year including the election period and they refer to Trump as a quote, idiot and love some human being among other insults. They also described the potential Trump victory as terrifying and as supporters of the President will tell you that's a major problem not just for the Special Counsel but of course he had a role in overseeing the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation as well.

ROMANS: Yes, certainly, not wise.

BRIGGS: No.

ROMANS: All right, 51 minutes pass the hour. Bitcoin, another record high this made up internet currency but the chief of U.S. Financial Regulator has a message for investors, buy everywhere.

Details on CNN MoneyStream next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [03:55:51] BRIGGS: Welcome this morning. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton expected name a replacement for Senator Al Franken. Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting he will chooses Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith as Minnesota's next U.S. senator.

Sources say she plans to run for the seat in a special election next year. Franken announced last week his intention to resign after he was accused of improper conduct toward more than a half dozen women. The selection of Tina Smith Minnesota will have a two female senators for the first time in history.

ROMANS: All right, thousands of firefighters finally making headway against the huge Thomas fire in Southern, California. Official say that blaze is now 25 percent contained. Winds have decreased to 15 to miles an hour as of course the winds that have been fueling the tender dry region.

The Thomas fire has burned some 236,000 acres. Red flag warnings are now confined to the mountains of Los Angeles, of Ventura counties covering just over a million residents. At the peak last week, nearly 20 million people were affected.

BRIGGS: San Francisco's Board of Supervisors setting a June 15th (ph) for special election to replace Mayor Ed Lee who died on Tuesday. Lee's sudden death coming just hours after he appeared in event at a city hospital. According to Congressman Nancy Pelosi, the 65-year old Lee suffered a heart attack the night before while he was grocery shopping. Board of Supervisors President London Breed has been named acting mayor.

ROMANS: All right, let's go to check in CNN MoneyStream this morning. Global Sachs mostly lower after another record high on Wall Street bank stocks pushing the Dow and the S&P 500 to all-time highs. The Nasdaq close lower on a deepen tax stocks.

The two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve concludes today, the central bank is expected to raise interest rates. It would be the third hike this year. It also marks the last meeting for that woman current Fed Chair Janet Yellen, her term ends in February.

Bitcoin just head its own new record high closing on 20 grand for one of these little made up internet coins. The Chief U.S. Financial Regulator has a message for investors, buy everywhere. The SEC Chairman Jay Clayton is urging extreme caution with virtual currencies. Morning investors to be weary if a promoter guarantee a returns if an opportunity sounds too good to be true if you are pressured to act quickly.

Clayton added that Bitcoin is not registered with the SEC unlike traditional establish recognize currencies. These virtual coins aren't tied to a central bank.

Ticket sales are strong with "The Last Jedi". I can't wait. "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" doesn't come until Friday but it's already become the top advance ticket seller of the year. That's according to Fandango. "The Last Jedi" toppled another Disney production "Beauty and the Beast" for the top spot. It is on track for opening weekend in the 200 million range. A huge number but it may not be the previous Star Wars film. "The Force Awakens" had the biggest box office opening in movie history.

Are your kids Star Wars fun?

BRIGGS: They are but I think this is a little beyond them. They're more into whatever is coming our Christmas. And Rotten Tomatoes is into it though. 93 percent, pretty good so far.

ROMANS: I haven't seen "Coco" either. "Coco" is the other sleeper hit that is making tons of money, getting tons --

BRIGGS: Well, that one has a 97 percent --

ROMANS: -- a ton of -- so, all right.

BRIGGS: OK. "Early Start" continues right now with this massive political earthquake in Alabama.