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Hurricane Florence Gains Strength, Takes Aim at East Coast; Les Moonves to Resign as CEO of CBS Amid Sexual Misconduct Claims; White House Aides Narrow Search for Op-Ed Writer. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 10, 2018 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's coming in at a different angle. We are preparing for the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the storm surge and the wind, it could be very bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The hurricane prompting concern about significant inland flooding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We activated over 800 National Guardsmen. We will be prepared.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: "The Times" should have never done that. It's treason. You can call it a lot of things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does this president not understand that the Justice Department is not a tool of his own personal power?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There could be a national security risk at hand. He doesn't want this person in a meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a matter of great national security, can we trust this president to make the proper decision?

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm 100 percent confident that no one on the vice president's staff was involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's hope to God we don't have a crisis.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, September 10. It's 6 a.m. here in the east. We do have a lot of news this morning. Before that, though, you were there.


BERMAN: You were at the Serena Williams match. CAMEROTA: Not only was I there I was in about the fifth row back,

thanks to some awesome seats from a very generous friend. And so we watched everything. We watched all the drama unfold.

I mean, the game itself was dramatic, and then all of this unfolded between the, you know, umpire and Serena, and so we could see these arguments happening. And we could see her crying at some points after he made a few of the calls. She pulled it together, but she was really emotional, as you can imagine.

BERMAN: On TV it felt as if the entire crowd was behind her --

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: -- and really against the empire -- umpire. Could you feel that?

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. There was booing. There were people -- every time she came back and recomposed herself, the crowd erupted and applauded, because they were with her, emotionally. It was very intense hour there. And then, at the end, I mean, we'll talk about this later in the program. You know, even Naomi, her opponent, was crying.

BERMAN: Yes. Look, I feel really bad for Naomi Osaka, who played a great match and was the deserved champion. She was just as wronged by all of this --


BERMAN: -- as Serena was. No question about that. We'll talk much more. I have many questions.

CAMEROTA: I have pictures to show all of you.

BERMAN: In the meantime, we have a major weather event shaping up this morning, and tens of millions of people need to take notice. Hurricane Florence is getting stronger and stronger and its course more and more clear. It looks almost certain to make a direct hit on the East Coast, possibly as a Category 4 storm, a potentially devastating impact. This is would be the most powerful hurricane to strike the Carolinas in three decades.

CAMEROTA: So states of emergency have been called in North and South Carolina and Virginia. This hurricane poses a major flood threat inland, because forecasters believe the storm will stall over the region and dump a lot of rain.

So let's get right to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. He's tracking Hurricane Florence. What do the models say, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, here we are now at 105 miles an hour, and the models say this goes to 150, 150 miles per hour. So for our international viewers, that's about 160 kilometers per hour.

But as we go on, this storm gets stronger and stronger, all the way to nearing the top end of Cat 4. The strongest storm that hits the Carolinas in a very long time. A lot of insomnia, a lot of amnesia going on here. The people aren't sleeping here, because they're very worried about this storm, and potentially correctly so, because this could, if it does come in like it is, like the forecast is, will make severe storm surge, storm surge like we saw in Gulfport, in Bay St. Louis from Katrina, because it's going to be out here in the water so very long getting so big, getting that bubble of water under the storm itself, and then that bubble crashes onshore at almost a 90-degree angle. That's the worst. If it's a glancing blow, you don't get as much surge.

But here, what the models are saying as you asked, right through Hatteras, maybe all the way down through Wilmington, we still don't know.

Still three days out yet, but you need to prepare for this storm, because both the GFS and European models are in very close agreement, within 100 miles of each other of what this storm is going to do.

It will make a devastating impact somewhere along the Carolinas. That's just no bull. That's it. That's what's going to be happening there. There will be people that need to leave, because there will be water coming onshore 15 feet deep, and you just need to get out of there. Run from the water, hide from the wind. And if you can hide from the wind you don't have to go very far inland with this storm; just get to a safe structure.

So there it is right now. The steering currents are going to push it right toward the U.S. I don't see how that changes, but of course, it is Mother Nature, and September 10 is the peak of hurricane season, ironically.

BERMAN: So Chad, it's not just the landfall here that's a concern. I understand there is some fear this storm could stall and dump just tons of rain inland?

MYERS: That's right. That is absolutely right. Almost Agnes-like, or -- I don't want to say Harvey, because that was a 60-inch storm. this may be a 20- to 30-inch storm.

The stirring [SIC] currents turns right into the Carolina coast, somewhere near Myrtle. Maybe somewhere near Wilmington, North Carolina. I'm not trying to scare anyone in those two cities, but You need to be the sharpest, looking at where this is going to go.

Here comes the 7-day accumulated rainfall. Yes, it will rain in the ocean, and that's no big deal, but these white spots here -- this is Roanoke. This is well inland. Those are 20-inch rainfalls in a very larger pattern. Lynchburg, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, all the way through try (ph) and the triangle. Very, very heavy rainfall. And even the GFS putting down that white. That's 20 inches of rain or more in the next five to seven days.

So that's going to cause flooding regardless. The storm surge causes saltwater flooding. This will cause river flooding. BERMAN: All right. Chad Myers for us. We're going to watch this all

morning long. We've got a lot of questions about this storm: its path, its potential impact and exactly where people need to pay the most attention, Chad. So thanks so much for being with us.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Meantime, a huge development in the media world overnight. One of the most powerful figures in all of entertainment is resigning his post. The longtime CEO of CBS, Les Moonves, stepping down after six new women accused him of assault or harassment. Joining us now, CNN senior media correspondent, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter; and CNN media analyst Bill Carter.

Brian, Les Moonves, what happened here? This is a new Ronan Farrow article that ultimately tipped this over.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this is a new phase of the #MeToo movement. Nearly one year after Ronan and others reported on Harvey Weinstein, we've, of course, saw many men lose their roles and many women finally feel a sense of accountability throughout Hollywood and other industries.

The difference in this case: a Fortune 500 CEO. And he wasn't escorted out of the building after the first article. That was six weeks ago. Instead, an army of lawyers came in, an army of negotiators came in. This is all about money.

But it was that second Farrow story that came out Sunday morning that was the final straw here. The negotiations were already happening. But Farrow's story, the second story had even more disturbing allegations. It seemed this was an absolute necessity, and by the end of the day, CBS said he was out, not just in a week or two but effective immediately.

CAMEROTA: I saw you break that news on your show on Sunday as it was happening live. And so Bill, six new women who are named, OK.


CAMEROTA: And they have stories, and their stories are about being physically accosted. I mean, not -- this isn't just verbal harassment.

CARTER: No, no.

CAMEROTA: According to them --

CARTER: Oh, no.

CAMEROTA: -- he forced himself on them.

CARTER: Yes. And it's really very disturbing. I mean, it's -- he's a really important guy in the business. I mean, it's hard to overestimate -- or underestimate, this guy is really huge. He made CBS into a powerhouse when it was a joke. But these stories are -- well, I know him -- I've known him for 25, 30

years. They're really, actually, kind of sickening to read and alarming that you could be -- kind of know a person and not see all this going on.

CAMEROTA: Here's his statement. "The appalling accusations in this article are untrue. What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago, before I came to CBS. In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now, for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me."

STELTER: So he's implying there -- what he's implying there is this is all a campaign to take them down.

CARTER: Right.

STELTER: And for months there's a corporate battle between Moonves on one side and this woman Shari Redstone on the other side. Redstone is a controlling shareholder at CBS. She makes the final call. He's been in this tug of war with her for months. And what he's implying is that "Your fingerprints are on this somehow."

CARTER: He's implying these women are lying, too. That's another thing. He's implying that women are lying, that they are making up these stories. These women --

CAMEROTA: Well, he's saying they were consensual. And so --

CARTER: But they're not describing consensual events at all. So he's saying they were put up to this. They're -- they're, you know, in the pay of Shari Redstone? What is he saying? I mean, all of these women? Twelve women now, including another story of this doctor he went to, which is a crazy episode of him just accosting a woman, apparently, he didn't even know.

BERMAN: Assaulting a woman, not accosting.

CARTER: And he agreed that he did try to force himself on her as -- just to kiss her.

BERMAN: Talk to me about the money here, Brian. Because one of the things --


BERMAN: -- they agreed to in this departure is to give $20 million to various #MeToo groups. But is it possible that this guy is going to get $100 million payoff?

STELTER: Yes, and that's why I say this is a new phase. There's so much more money at stake here than there was with any of these -- the past cases of Charlies Roses and even the Matt Lauers. Even multimillionaires, but this is in a different category, because if Moonves had been fired yesterday for no good reason, he'd be at $180 million, according to the terms of his contract.

Now obviously, if you fire someone for engaging in sexual harassment, and that's a very different conversation. So what CBS has done is kicked this can down the road. They're not going to give him any severance until the law firms that are investigating his behavior come back with results.

So conceivably -- I was told by a source yesterday he could stand to make over $100 million.

CAMEROTA: Still, I want to --

STELTER: It's going to be up to the lawyers.

CAMEROTA: So he's not going to get $180 million, but he still could get $100 million.

STELTER: A hundred million dollars.

CAMEROTA: Despite these? How? Why?

STELTER: Depending on what the law firms find. And ultimately, this is about this board of directors, which until yesterday was pretty old skewing, pretty male skewing, basically his friends, his buddies. They were the ones that didn't force him out right away. They were the ones that didn't suspend him right away when Farrow's first story came out in July.

[06:10:04] So this is partly, I think, about where does the accountability come from? And are board of directors for giant companies really willing to -- to take this moment in time seriously and recognize that we are in a different world, that we have to be in a different world.

CARTER: Remember, he's denied it. So that's an important fact in this. And he'll have lawyers, his own lawyers, who will bring up this and try to challenge it. But there's a lot of evidence now. And it's interesting that they've given this $20 million commitment --

STELTER: They're going to donate $20 million to "#MeToo."

CAMEROTA: But that's a pittance compared to a lawsuit.

CARTER: Yes, it is a pittance. But it shows sort of that they know they're in a very bad situation here, and if they wind up giving this guy a very big payment, it's going to be severely criticized.

BERMAN: You said he's denied this until this point. And when you say that, it makes me think of something that we're just learning this morning. This is in the Bob Woodward book, "Fear."


BERMAN: About the White House and the president. And there's a section -- so much of it has leaked -- but this hadn't leaked until I saw it overnight. This has to do with the various accusations of assault against the president of the United States.

In this book Woodward says the president had said, "You've got to deny, deny, deny, and push back on these women," he says. "If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you're dead." That's President Trump's playbook on how to deal with these allegations.

STELTER: For six weeks, Moonves was doing that. He was denying everything. He was staying at his job. He was vowing to fight on, a little bit like President Trump back during the campaign trail before election day.

Eventually, though, the lawyers and the stories and the accusers caught up with them, and I do think we're in a different world now as a result. You know, this changes.

CARTER: There's one difference. Moonves did admit to some activity here. He said it was consensual, things like -- There's never any admission from the president. He never gives an inch.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Which is, I think, what he's --

CARTER: What he's alluding to there.

CAMEROTA: Bill, Brian, thank you both very much.

So coming up in our next hour, we will talk about the newest accusations against Les Moonves with Ronan Farrow. He, of course, is he investigative reporter who broke this story yesterday in "The New Yorker."

BERMAN: Ronan in the middle of it all, again.


BERMAN: All right. The White House fighting back against the scathing op-ed and still desperately trying to find out who wrote it. In an extraordinary move in what is already an extraordinary story, Vice President Pence reveals what he would do to prove that he did not write it. That's next.


[06:15:57] BERMAN: New this morning, Vice President Mike Pence among several top White House officials denying that they wrote the scathing "New York Times" op-ed about President Trump. Meanwhile, CNN has learned that the White House aides who have been looking believe they have narrowed the hunt the unnamed senior White House official.

CNN's Abby Phillip live at the White House with the very latest. Abby, who is it?


If I knew that, I think I'd have more than -- I'd not be standing in front of the White House this morning. But this controversy over this op-ed continues to consume this White

House. And these denials are getting so extreme that we've had Mike -- Vice President Mike Pence agreeing to take a lie detector test to prove that it wasn't him.


PHILLIP (voice-over): The White House making an aggressive push to discredit the unnamed senior official that wrote that scathing "New York Times" op-ed last week.

If this person thinks they are being patriotic and not pa pathetic, they should come forward, claiming to be part of an internal resistance inside the Trump administration.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: If this person really thinks that he or she is being patriotic and not pathetic, which is the way I view it, then they should come forward. I think the motivation was to sow discord and create chaos.

PHILLIP: Vice President Mike Pence insisting he's 100 percent confident that no one in his office is the author.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Should all top officials take a lie detector test, and would you agree to take one?

PENCE: I would agree to take it in a heartbeat and would submit to any review of the administration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the claims made in the op-ed is that there had been discussion of invoking the 25th Amendment to even remove the president from office. Have you ever part of a conversation about that?

PENCE: No, never. And why would we be?

PHILLIP: More than two dozen senior officials have also denied writing the op-ed, and a source tells CNN that White House aides have narrowed down the search down to a few suspects.

Despite being urged to move on, the source says President Trump is still obsessing over finding the identity of the writer after calling on the attorney general to take action.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was, because I really believe it's national security.

PHILLIP: But neither Mr. Trump nor the White House have identified a crime that has been committed.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think the person broke the law?

CONWAY: I don't know. I have no idea.

TAPPER: You think that because he or she wrote the op-ed, he or she might have also broken the law? Is that the idea?

CONWAY: I have -- I have, really, no idea, and nor do you, what else this person has divulged.

PHILLIP: The White House on the defensive amid ongoing criticism.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), MINORITY WHIP: This is a matter of great seriousness and gravity. We should not be dismissing it. It isn't like his blizzard of bizarre tweets. We are talking about consistent reporting over and over again about unpredictable, unprepared, unstable behavior by this president.

PHILLIPS: The administration also bracing itself for tomorrow's official release of Bob Woodward's book, "Fear."

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE": You look at the aberration of this White House, and you have to say, "Let's hope to God we don't have a crisis." This one was in the belly of the beast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did you conclude about the beast?

WOODWARD: That people better wake up to what's going on.


PHILLIP: And President Trump today has no public events on his schedule, but Axios is reporting this morning that the president is considering and might, as soon as this week, declassifying some documents involving his former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page and a Justice Department lawyer he's been attacking on Twitter, Bruce Ohr. Now, this is something President Trump has been discussing for weeks and deliberating over for weeks. But the point of all of this is, John and Alisyn, to discredit the Mueller probe.

BERMAN: Abby Phillip, thank you very, very much. Stick around. We're also going to bring in Toluse Olorunnipa, White House reporter for Bloomberg News; and CNN senior political analyst John Avlon here, as well.

CAMEROTA: OK. So Toluse, it has gotten to the point that the witch hunt inside the White House has gotten to the point where the vice president is saying publicly, "Yes, please strap me up to a polygraph. I'd like to take it to prove my innocence."

[06:20:06] Have we seen something like this before?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: No, this is a pretty unique moment in American history that you have the vice president trying so hard among this large group of cabinet officials to show his fealty to the president, to show how much he is dedicated to the president, that he's not a turncoat, that he's not this anonymous op-ed writer. It's really unique to see this happening right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, close to the Oval Office.

It shows that there are many people who could be this writer. There are many people who are potentially being suspected of being the writer, that even the vice president is saying, "I'm willing to take an -- a lie detector test."

And with Kellyanne Conway saying that this op-ed writer was threatening to sow chaos, it's pretty clear that there is chaos that has been sown. The spectacle of so many different cabinet officials racing to show that they're not the person who is behind this; the vice president going on various Sunday shows to say that he's willing to take a lie detector test or submit to any other review of the administration to prove that he was not the op-ed writer.

It's just a clear signal that this is something that is dominating what's happening at the White House and distracting from their actual agenda, which the op-ed writer says that they wanted to frustrate, so mission accomplished there.

BERMAN: I like the way Toluse put it. It is clear chaos has been sown here.

I will also note, again, also the irony -- not the irony, but there's something cloying about the vice president of the United States basically saying, "Yes, I can't wait. Wire me up. Let's do it. Let's do it now."

This passed the soccer sideline test this weekend, John, which is to say that everywhere I went, people were saying, "Who wrote it? Who wrote it?"

What's the impact of this going to be? This is one of the most read things on "The Times" site ever. I mean, people really seem to care. This seems to have broken through.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I like that also people where I was, as well, soccer games, et cetera, were saying, "Do you know? Tell us who wrote it." And I like that they're -- that we've just been keeping a big secret from them.

AVLON: Yes, no, and I think it's -- it's finally time for you to take the lie detector test, Alisyn, that the vice president has offered up.

Look, there's no question this is resonating. It is a bombshell document. You know, the call is coming from within the house, as you pointed out, and this is someone speaking with real knowledge. So it is resonating.

The White House is going to do a full-court press to try to find the leaker in its midst. These things tend not to end well. What's different here is this surreal vision of not only the vice president being the first to offer to strap himself up. But can you imagine lie detectors lined up in the East Room for everyone to try to outdo themselves in this effort?

Look, you've seen the president and Kellyanne Conway sort of invoke national security. You know, calls for the Espionage Act. The Woodward book hasn't even dropped yet, and when it does, there are going to be a lot of former staffers who are -- seem to be sources for the book and the bad blood and distrust in the administration are going to get even more.

The president will try to distract from this by releasing the Bruce Ohr documents and the Carter Page documents. Very unclear if those will show what he wants them to show. But this is a White House in chaos right now.

BERMAN: We'll talk more about Carter Page and Bruce Ohr in a little bit. Abby, the notion that CNN has been told, again, by White House officials that they've narrowed this search down.

It seems to me that that has a lot of spin to it. I mean, if they really are down to one or two names, you would think they'd be marching these people out the door if they're suspicious of them. It's hard for me to believe they've really got an idea of who did it yet.

PHILLIP: That's right, and I think it's hard to know what they're going off of in terms of trying to identify this person. Are they just using the words on the page that have been edited by op-ed editors at "The New York Times"? Are they just using suspicions?

I think one of the things that we've heard from sources in the White House and close to the White House is this feeling that the presence of the op-ed has caused people who already had grievances against each other to try to point fingers, to try to say this person is disloyal, that person is disloyal. That's part of the chaos of this whole thing. It isn't just the search for someone whom they can't identify. It's also that it's now being used by people within this White House to try to discredit each other.

You've already seen publicly some attacks coming toward John Kelly, some people pointing the finger at Vice President Mike Pence. These are long-standing grievances that are being carried out, and the op-ed is being used to do that. And it's not clear to me that they're really, in any concrete way, getting much closer to definitively knowing who this person is.

And by the way, I mean, the White House is trying to find all these reasons why this person ought to be prosecuted. But Kellyanne Conway could not even saw what law, if any, this person might have broken. I mean, They are grasping at straws to figure out a way to deal with this. It's clear the president has every right to fire whoever this person is, but prosecute them? We don't really know.

AVLON: I mean, the only mechanism, traditionally, is by the Espionage Act. Dates back to 1917. There is no evidence that, in the op-ed, any classified material related to national security is being released. This is a clear ethical violation from the position of the White House, but they -- they're grasping at straws for a legal remedy.

[06:25:07] CAMEROTA: Here are all the people, Toluse, who have come out publicly to deny it, and it's quite a list. It gets longer every time. Here's the picture of, I mean, everybody from Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, James Mattis, Steve Mnuchin. It just goes on and on. I don't know if anybody has agreed yet to a strip search but -- BERMAN: I don't know why you had to go there. That's totally


CAMEROTA: Because I think that's --

AVLON: It's the logical next step.

CAMEROTA: It's the logical next step, is it not, Toluse?

OLORUNNIPA: Well, one thing that's very interesting is that you've had this long list of cabinet secretaries who have denied any involvement. They've put out statements saying that this is not the type of language that they would use to describe the president.

But when you look at Capitol Hill, and when you look at some of the remarks from various senators, they say that they're hearing this behind the scenes all the time from White House officials. They're saying that this is commonplace that people are coming to them and saying, "I can't control what's happening at the White House. You all need to get involved, because the president is doing something that is potentially dangerous or unhinged, or he's flip-flopping on issues."

So it's -- it's -- the actual content of the op-ed that is getting a lot of backup from the Woodward book and from members of Congress, even though all of these cabinet secretaries are saying, you know, "It's not me, and Vice President Mike Pence is saying, you know, "This is -- sounds nothing like what we see in the White House." People on Capitol Hill say this is exactly what they're hearing from people in the White House.

AVLON: So John Avlon, I want your final take on President Obama, after our air, former president Obama after air on Friday came out with this speech. Then he went campaigning again over the weekend. Where this stands right now on this new Obama v. Trump? And that's what it is. I mean, make no mistake about it. The former president has come out to make statements directly to energize Democrats to come out as a voice against the president.

AVLON: Well, look, President Obama is massively popular, particularly with the Democratic Party, and he can bridge the divide in the Democratic Party.

It is rare that you have a former sitting president coming out and calling out the man in the Oval Office.

CAMEROTA: Unheard of, right?

AVLON: Pretty much. I mean, George W. Bush sat on the sidelines during the Obama years. You know, he was not going to get dragged into that fray.

But they are the quarterbacks of the two respective political teams, and the fact that President Obama is going to be hitting the campaign trail going forward -- he was in Orange County over the weekend, trying to flip a couple of Republican House seats blue. He's going to be in Ohio later on. It really shows that he's trying to make this about a war on apathy, not a war on Trump or Republicans, per se. It's like "You've got to show up and vote, but our democracy does hang in the balance."

But this is new territory, as well, for mid-term elections. It is fascinating stuff to watch these two political leaders rail against each other in public.

CAMEROTA: How many mornings do we say this is new territory?

AVLON: Every morning.

CAMEROTA: Every morning.

Thank you all very much.

So North Korea holds a large parade showing off its military might, but something was notably absent; and President Trump is taking credit for it. We have a live report from North Korea for you, next.