Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Kushner Testified He Did Not Recall Campaign Contacts With WikiLeaks Senators Say He Did Receive Email About WikiLeaks Contact; Trump Punts On Roy Moore, But Slams Sen. Franken; Roy Moore's Wife: He Will Not Step Down; Men Sold At Slave Auction In Libya; Pres. Trump Delays New Policy On Importing Elephant Parts. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 17, 2016 - 21:00   ET

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


COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:00:52] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: All right. Breaking news in the Russia investigation tops the hour about what Jared Kushner told Congressional investigators, what he may have neglected to mention and where that could leave him.

This leaves us with plenty to get to, starting with CNN's Evan Perez. Evan, what are you learning?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Jared Kushner told Congressional investigators that he didn't communicate with WikiLeaks and didn't recall anyone in the Trump campaign who did. And we now know from disclosures this week that Donald Trump Jr. sent an e-mail to Kushner and others in the campaign last year to pass on information that he learned from WikiLeaks. And Kushner then forwarded that e- mail to Hope Hicks, one of the closest aides to then-candidate Trump and now the Communications Director at the White House.

Now, what this latest revelation does is that it turns up the heat on Kushner to go back to Capitol Hill for more interviews and perhaps to explain himself. We heard yesterday from the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee who sent a public letter to Kushner's lawyer saying that Kushner had failed turn over documents that they know exist. And that includes information about WikiLeaks.

The letter said that others had provided documents showing, "September 2016 e-mail communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks, which Mr. Kushner then forwarded to another campaign official", John.

BERMAN: Donald Trump Jr. communicated with WikiLeaks. Donald Trump Jr. e-mails Jared Kushner, told him that he was communicating with WikiLeaks.

PEREZ: Right.

BERMAN: Jared Kushner forwarded that e-mail on. And Jared Kushner testified he did not recall whether or not anyone in the campaign had communicated with WikiLeaks. So what is the Kushner camp saying about this tonight?

PEREZ: Well, Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney calls this "classic gotcha question." He says in part of the statement, "In over six hours of voluntary testimony, Mr. Kushner answered all questions put to him and demonstrated that there had been no collusion between the campaign and Russia."

And Lowell, by the way, also disputes the Judiciary Committee's letter accusing Kushner of not turning over documents. And he also says that the Judiciary Committee should ask other Congressional committees for the transcripts of Kushner's interviews with those committees and that they should ask the White House for documents that exist after Donald Trump was inaugurated. Because they say Kushner has no authorizations to release those documents, John.

BERMAN: All right. Evan Perez, thank you so much.

So, now that the other shoe has dropped, some perspective is like a giant hiking boot or is it a ballet slipper in what might come next.

Joining us, Maggie Haberman, Ed Martin, Bakari Sellers, Alice Stewart, Philip Bump, and Jeffery Toobin.

Jeffrey, I want you to go first to you, how big of a problem?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, can we just say that Donald Trump Jr. And Jared Kushner have become the poster children for the evils of nepotism? I mean, you know, the problems that they have gotten themselves into by being, at best forgetful and if not outright lying are really astonishing this early in the administration.

I mean, yes, Jared Kushner can say for the 17th time, I forgot, I didn't get around to it. I didn't remember this e-mail. I didn't remember to fill out the form accurately. And it may yet be true. It's very hard to prove that someone who says I didn't remember or I forgot or I didn't get to it is lying. But it is getting ridiculous how many times Jared Kushner has to revise what he said under oath.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, who by the way has worn her voice out reporting so hard, she can barely speak anymore.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You speak for me.

BERMAN: I want you to clarify.

HABERMAN: Yes, you will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, God, no.

BERMAN: I want you to clarify one point here. In Trump world, back in the campaign, it was sort extend in the White House. When you forward an e-mail to Hope Hicks, is it just forwarding that e-mail to Hope Hicks or is there some expectation that she shows it to someone else like, say, then-candidate Trump or President Trump?

HABERMAN: No -- look, I don't want to speak completely speculatively about this, because we don't know. But typically speaking, things would get forwarded to Hope Hicks and she would show them at minimum to a supervisor. She would show them to Cory Lewandowski. She would show them to Paul Manafort when he was there and took over. She would show them to Donald Trump, who she traveled with almost constantly.

[21:04:59] I think that we are reaching a point of this. And I think this is going to be very difficult for a lot of people. But it certainly has been difficult for Jared Kushner where over and over again the explanation is either that they forgot or this didn't go any further. It's not how it worked. It was a very small campaign. It was a very small campaign.

And there were a small group of people who were talking to each other all the time. And that's why when you have seen people throughout try to silo themselves off. And yes, I know my voice sounds great. It's been difficult, I think, for people to process when we watched how this campaign functioned.

BERMAN: So, Ed, it is now your chance to speak for yourself --

ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

BERMAN: -- here. Are we to believe, you know, do you believe the explanation that Jared Kushner got this e-mail forwarded to Hope Hicks yet had no recollection of it?

MARTIN: Yes, look, I mean, if you've never run a big campaign, I've only run my own campaign and a few others. You don't know the intensity, the scrutiny and all that. I think it's completely normal for people that aren't political, they were not politicians, they weren't campaign types to be doing things in ways that look now, especially when you have a special counsel like, oh my gosh, how could you say you forgot?

I mean, I think it actually is completely understandable. And frankly, for I think the American people, you look up and you say you're asking all about the Russians, I mean, Sessions' joke makes people laugh. I mean, I read -- in normal America.

TOOBIN: It makes people at the federal society laugh.

MARTIN: No, it makes people laugh generally, trust me.

TOOBIN: Oh, you think that -- it was a real knee slapper, wasn't it?

MARTIN: Yes, I think so too.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The biggest problem with Ed's excuse, in many excuses, is that the Trump campaign started from a zero-sum game. And they said, we didn't have any contact with the Russians at all. And we found out they did. And then they say, oh, we didn't have any collusion although we may have spoken to the Russians. It was on the sidelines, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then we find out that maybe they were sliding in our DMs asking you about what was going on. And then we find out that maybe --

MARTIN: That wasn't the Russians, no it wasn't. I mean, I was --

SELLERS: WikiLeaks is not the Russians?

MARTIN: No, it's not the Russians.

SELLERS: You're dying on that hill. And so then we have meetings --

MARTIN: No.

SELLERS: -- we have meetings about adoptions. And then we realize that maybe it's not about adoptions, maybe it's about dirt on Hillary Clinton. And so there are a lot of hills for Ed and many others to die on.

However, the fact remains that Martha Stewart, and I keep going back to this, because I advice my client on this on a daily basis, Martha Stewart, did not go to jail for insider trading. Martha Stewart went to jail on a 1001 violation, which is lying to federal investigators. That is what the hill that -- excuse me, that Donald Trump and his -- and many of his people are going down right now.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'll say, I agree with Ed. I've been on very, very small presidential campaigns where you're dealing with a small close-knit group of people. Everyone is doing the job of 12 people and you're getting 100 and 100 and 100 of e-mails every day, and I could completely see where Jared would have gotten an e-mail and not remembered it, and -- but forwarding it on.

But the difference is, this isn't an e-mail about how many yard signs should be getting to more in Iowa. This is about Russia. This is about WikiLeaks. And this would have been something that he would have remembered.

And I think to Bakari's point, what's going forward may not be whether or not he misremembered this on whether he may not have forward it on. But what he says -- and truthfully moving forward, that's going to catch up a lot these people.

BERMAN: Phil.

PHILIP BUMP, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I know. I mean, I think that's the last point's key. I mean, this isn't John Smith in debut (ph) could, well, you know, has a comment. This is WikiLeaks. I mean, the Trump campaign was talking about WikiLeaks constantly. This was, you know, this was in September. This was after all the leaks were -- the DNC leaks were already out after the convention.

So this is something that was clearly brought to their attention. And not only that, but this is Jared Kushner being asked about this, this year after we already know that these things were all problematic. And he should have been prepared to answer questions and known.

BERMAN: After he's already lawyered up.

BUMP: Exactly.

BERMAN: After he's already --

BUMP: That's exactly right.

BERMAN: -- his own memory and his own documentation of what happened. This is answer he still gave.

Jeffrey Toobin, back when we were reading Abbe Lowell's response for Jared Kushner, I saw you nodding. It didn't seem like you were buying what Abbe Lowell is selling.

TOOBIN: Well, Abbe Lowell has had a very busy week, you know, he represented Robert Menendez and won a great victory, which, you know, was a hung jury, but certainly a victory for the defense.

But, he, you know, what can he say? I mean, the only thing he can say is, well, we did our best and, you know, we'll go back and we'll do it again. And, you know, we we're not -- he wasn't lying, he was just trying his best and he may have forgotten something. And, you know, perhaps it's true.

But -- and it's very hard to disprove when someone says they don't remember, which is why Richard Nixon said on the White House tapes, advising his cronies, you can always say you don't remember. But, you know, it doesn't mean they can't remember. It might mean they're lying.

[21:10:00] BERMAN: Well, I remember. We need to take a break right now or somebody get in big trouble. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Next, I'm going to speak to General Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA about how several roads in the Russia probe seem to lead back to Jared Kushner or at least through Jared Kushner.

And later, President Trump's conspicuous silence on the sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore while calling out Democratic Senator Al Franken for his issues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, more now on our breaking news. A source with knowledge of Jared Kushner's testimony on Capitol Hill tells CNN that the president's son-in-law told Congressional investigators that he did not recall anyone on the Trump campaign communicating with WikiLeaks. That's after we found out earlier this week through our news report and a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kushner did receive and forward an e-mail from Donald Trump Jr. about Trump Jr.'s contact with WikiLeaks to then campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks.

Kushner, also in hot water for failing to providing all requested documents to that same committee. Senators say that includes not only e-mails about WikiLeaks but also "Russian back door overture and dinner invite" that Kushner forwarded to another campaign official. Now, the committee is requesting all those documents.

I had a chance to talk to speak to General Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director earlier this evening, just before the latest news broke. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: General Hayden, it seems like, Jared Kushner forgets a lot.

[21:15:01] He forgot a meeting with the Russian ambassador at Trump Tower. He forgot about the meeting with head of a State-run Russian bank. Or at least he forgot to disclose them. He also forgot to disclose financial assets.

And now the Judiciary Committee is asking for documents that they requested, but Kushner did not provide regarding e-mails on WikiLeaks and "Russian back door overture and dinner invite."

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.

BERMAN: So what's your read on Kushner's behavior?

HAYDEN: Well, John, at the beginning, my read was this was an uncareful young man who was simply not used to dealing with the federal government or with the security structure in the federal government like close with my background I have to deal with everyday.

And I think he quickly learned. And here's some good news out of this story. The government, the security clearance process, stood its ground. Foreign means foreign, all means all, and they held this young man's feet to the fire until they got the completed S.F. 86.

Now as this investigation has gone forward, it appears that Mr. Kushner and his legal team have taken a narrow definition of the documents that the various committees have asked of them. So now we find this e-mail for which he was the back end of an e-mail from Donald Trump Jr. that he never provided to the committee and they want to know why not, because that was the e-mail in which Don Jr. announced he had been in contact with WikiLeaks.

BERMAN: From your experience in intelligence gathering, is this behavior normal from someone who has nothing to hide?

HAYDEN: Well, I mean, I don't want to prejudge this, all right? And I already suggested there were some naivete and experience at the front end. But you know, John, the longer we go, those absolute categorical denials at the campaign made, that the transition team made. I mean, we're peeling those back one by one.

And so, I think it's really in the interest of the Trump administration not to play hide and seek like this, to push it all out there to disprove the theory that you're just suggesting.

BERMAN: We're talking about Jared Kushner. It was reported today that Kushner who was a senior adviser to the president who oversees China and Middle East peace has not been granted permanent security clearance. How unusual is it for an adviser, you know, 10 months in still have interim security clearances?

HAYDEN: It's unusual. But let them parse that out a little bit. It's not unusual because there's a massive backlog, although there is a massive backlog. I mean, the president's son-in-law, senior adviser is going to jump to the front of the que (ph). I mean, that's a given.

I think we've had this delay, one, because Mr. Kushner did not fill out the form very well at the beginning. And secondly, John, just very candidly -- without prejudice to the final outcome. His contacts abroad, his financial dealings abroad, they're very complicated. And so I could see why this would just take longer than average.

BERMAN: And we know that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller will soon interview Jared Kushner and, more importantly, Donald Trump, the president close confidant Communications Director Hope Hicks.

HAYDEN: Yes.

BERMAN: What information do you think is critical to obtain from her?

HAYDEN: Well, she was on the end of an e-mail from Kushner that was handing off the e-mail from Donald Trump Jr. that was handing off the contact from WikiLeaks. And so, I think what we're learning just on the surface, John, is that there are an awful lot more people within the campaign who knew about what was going on with regard to WikiLeaks and, frankly, with some Russian surrogates.

Now, we'll see if that goes beyond stupidity and gets to some criminal level. That's a judgment that Director Mueller is going to have to make.

BERMAN: You know, we also learned that the Special Counsel wants to interview the publicist who arrange the Trump Tower meeting --

HAYDEN: Yes.

BERMAN: -- between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner was there. Paul Manafort was there. So what gaps could he fill in to this?

HAYDEN: Well, look, this is -- Mr. Mueller pulling over every rock. And again, I try to hesitate to here, John, to read too much into this other than just you Bob Mueller being thoroughly (ph).

I mean, at the end of this process, he doesn't want to have to answer any question with well, you know, we didn't look into that. So he's looking into everything possible. But going forward I mean, the more we peel back, the more we seem to learn in terms of connective tissue and activity that wasn't previously known or announced. So we'll see where it goes.

BERMAN: General Michael Hayden thanks so much for being with us.

HAYDEN: Thanks, John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right, just ahead, the president has no problem weighing on an Al Franken's sexual misconduct, so why not the allegations against Roy Moore? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:23:27] BERMAN: President Trump lashed out today at Democratic Senator Al Franken or "Frankenstein" as he calls him in a tweet storm last night that drew sharp backlash today. Questions to considering the president remains steadfastly unwilling to join numerous Republican lawmakers in condemning Alabama U.S. Senator Roy Moore.

It, of course, raises the question of hypocrisy, also political expediency not to mention personal vulnerability on the part of the president who faces sexual misconduct allegations from at least 13 women. More on all of it now from CNN's Ryan Nobles at the White House. Ryan, what did the president say today about the allegations against Senator Franken?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, not surprisingly John, he attacked Senator Franken and he did it via his favorite medium, Twitter. This is what he wrote, "The Al Frankenstein picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she slept?" He goes on to say, "And to think that just last week, he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women."

And as you mentioned, John, this decision by the president to wait about 12 hours before attacking Al Franken on this point opens this White House up to criticism on two fronts, not only where they stand as it relates to Roy Moore in Alabama, but also the president's own personal accusations against him by, as you mentioned, at least 13 different women.

BERMAN: Does the White House, Ryan, have anything more to say about Roy Moore?

NOBLES: Yes. Sarah Sanders was actually questioned about this quite a bit today during the White House press briefing. And essentially, her response was that the White House has already weighed in on this issue and that they're going to leave it for the voters of Alabama.

[21:25:02] But here's a thing John. They've not gone as far as many prominent Republican leaders including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan who've directly said that Roy Moore should step down from this race. They've said if the allegations are true, he should step down. And all they've said is that they're troubling.

And also today, which I think is interesting, Sarah Sanders left opened the possibility that the governor, Kay Ivey of Alabama could set a different date for this election on December 12th. Now, Ivey's repeatedly said that she has no interest in doing that, but we do know that Mitch McConnell sent a memo to the White House outlining a number of options for Republicans as it relates to this race. And among those options was changing the date. The White House is not saying whether or not they're for or against it, but said it's up to the governor to make that decision.

BERMAN: As we know, Governor Ivey says she is voting for Roy Moore even though she says she has no reason to doubt all of the accusers. Ryan Nobles at the White House, thanks so much for being with us.

Back now with our panel. Alice, I want to start with you. You know, while he was -- traveling in Asia, the president said, you know, I haven't had a chance to really pay attention to what's going on in Alabama. I put out this statement, when I get home and start watching T.V. again, he didn't say the T.V. part but that's what he meant, then I will weigh in on it. Well, now, he's back and there's still nothing. Is it sufficient?

STEWART: No, it's not sufficient. And it's -- he's fully briefed on this. He knows exactly what's going on here. Look, the problem is sexual harassment is nonpartisan. And if he's going to condemn Al Franken, he needs to condemn Roy Moore.

We have three people here that are facing serious allegations and yes, people are innocent until proven guilty. But to -- in my view, the allegations against Roy Moore are much more convincing than his denials. And I believe he's just as guilty as Al Franken.

The problem is the president has many skeletons in his own closet. And he is not -- he doesn't have the moral high ground here. And he is afraid to go up there and speak too harshly of a Republican because he knows what is facing him.

BERMAN: Republican Alice Stewart, Republican Ed Martin response.

MARTIN: Well, I mean, this is -- I can't believe that we're having this conversation across the river in New Jersey, Menendez. No one has said he must resign until his case gets adjudicated.

Al Franken comes up and admits to at least abusing women, if not a sexual assault, an actual crime. He admitted it. The difference is the admission. And it has to matter somewhat. You can still say, as I think it's fair, there's a lot of women saying something that sounds believable, fair enough. But as to politics --

SELLERS: Man explain, man explain further --

MARTIN: The fact is the fact -- there's nothing, but the fact is this. The president has spoken. You're not listening to what he's saying. He said the people in Alabama will decide and that he's backed away. And frankly, that's what the people in America want, is not Al Franken, the people that are hypocrites. They want -- last night on this panel, we had people admit, an ethics committee hearing an investigation is where complaint goes to die. Everybody knows that in D.C.

STEWART: But here's the thing. We have the picture of Al Franken, yes. And -- but we also have the audio of President Trump on the "Access Hollywood" tape bragging about groping women --

MARTIN: You're talking about Roy Moore. You've condemned Roy Moore. Now, you're condemning -- you're going to that one. Which one is --

STEWART: No, I'm talking about the president. He's condemning Al Franken. He is the one that -- MARTIN: No, Roy Moore is the question. The question is why should

Roy Moore be condemned by the president when nothing -- when no one has proven -- all that's been said is allegations, 40 years old against the man that's new.

(CROSS TALK)

SELLERS: If I may -- I think that if we want to look at the words -- first of all, I was the one last night that sat beside you and said that Al Franken should resign. And said that ethics committee is where complaints go to die.

MARTIN: Yes, good job, you were right.

SELLERS: That is a fact. I was also the same person who said that Roy Moore doesn't deserve to the United States Senate.

MARTIN: You're wrong.

SELLERS: And Donald Trump does not deserve to be president of the United States based upon these accusations. The fact is, I mean, you can spin and twist and pretzel yourself into any position you want to do that. However, the president of the United States say they're not getting an STD in the 1960s and '70s was his Vietnam. He is the same person who walked into dressing rooms with 15-year-old girls during the --

MARTIN: We're talking about Roy Moore.

SELLERS: I'm not done talking. I'm not done talking.

MARTIN: We're talking about Roy Moore.

SELLERS: I'm not done talking yet. He's also someone who got on a bus and said that he kisses women when they choose not to be kissed and he grabs women by their pussies. His quote, not mine.

And so, while we're talking about someone who was president of the United States, I think you have to feed people equally out of the same spoon. And so with that being said, Roy Moore is a predator amongst young girls.

MARTIN: How do you know that?

SELLERS: Because 14 young people has said that. Fourteen -- how many women --

BERMAN: We're up to nine, nine to 14.

(CROSS TALK)

MARTIN: But you're a lawyer, you're a lawyer. You know you can't say that you know something based on anything.

SELLERS: But my only point to you is with that, I believe the woman who spoke out against Al Franken, not just the picture. Democrats around the country are saying maybe his hands didn't touch, maybe the photographer -- maybe she was passed out. Regardless of that, even if I give Al Franken the benefit of the doubt and said it was a bad joke, there's still a woman who I believe who said that he forcefully kissed her when she did not want to be kissed. That is enough for me to say that he should resign.

MARTIN: But this --

SELLERS: I'm not done talking. One moment.

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: It maybe, it maybe.

MARTIN: OK.

[21:30:00] SELLERS: My only point is that if I believe this --

MARTIN: You haven't answered the question yet.

SELLERS: I believe this -- if I believe this woman, if I believe this woman, I should also believe the same women who were against Roy Moore. I should also believe the same women who are against Donald Trump. And the fact that you cannot see that this is not a partisan issue is an indictment on you, not me.

MARTIN: No, listen, listen, here is what you -- here's the mistake you made, one man confess to crimes. If he hadn't confess I would have said --

SELLERS: Is grabbing a woman by the vagina a crime or not?

MARTIN: If everyone -- I keep interrupting you. One man confessed and showed the pictures. And you want to re-litigate the election, the president --

SELLERS: That not what I said. I asked you a --

MARTIN: The questions was about --

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: The question was about -- no, the question was about Roy Moore. And here is the point. You want to condemn everyone if -- let me say this, if Al Franken had said, I never did it, then there should you have been a hearing for the woman and him. Not condemning him. So, that's where we're wrong. I'm on Al Franken side that until he confessed he had a right to object. And the point is --

STEWART: But you're missing the point --

MARTIN: No, you can't prove something based on allegations.

STEWART: The point is the "Access Hollywood" tape, the president admits, he acknowledges that he grabbed a woman. (CROSSTALK)

STEWART: He says he does it all the time. And women like it.

BERMAN: Let's play it. Let's play because they -- hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on. We have the photo about -- well, look, the USO tour in 2006 is over too. We have the photo of Al Franken. We also have the tape of Donald Trump talking on the "Access Hollywood" tape. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATE OF AMERICA: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, RADIO HOST: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: What he said right there, we had Jessica Leeds on this show with Anderson not too long ago, and she acknowledged exactly what Donald Trump said in that tape he did to her. So, you cannot say that he's not admitting that he did it. He's denying it now because he's the president.

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: He's talking about Nancy O'Dell in that tape. If I'm not mistaken he's talking about Nancy O'Dell.

BERMAN: Yes.

SELLERS: And he's never even apologized to Nancy O'Dell.

MARTIN: Listen -- you guys, you guys, it means you want to rerun 2020 you get your guy to run. The American people look at that --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: Ed, I'm not condemning anything. Ed, I do not know your background at all. What I am condemning is the fact that I had a daughter and I do not want -- you can wave your hands all you want.

MARTIN: I can't wave your hand. This is the kind of stuff --

BERMAN: Hang on one second. Hang on a second.

MARTIN: Nobody's impressed when people say I have kids, I know someone. Look, I have kids too. And here is what I wouldn't want, I wouldn't want to live in a society where people can simply accused someone like Roy Moore or Al Franken and then get hung out to dry. That's wrong, it's un-American and everybody sick of it. Here's the thing, you'll lose every election, Bakari, if you can -- if Al Franken --

SELLERS: I've won four, so tell me --

MARTIN: Well, Al Franken is going to staying there.

SELLERS: I've won four.

MARTIN: What I'm saying Al Franken --

SELLERS: Have you won an election? That's my point. What are you talking about?

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: Don't wave your hands --

BERMAN: This discussion is not over. We're going to take a quick break. Maggie Haberman and Philip Bump who had been waiting on the side line maybe --

HABERMAN: No, it's really OK.

BERMAN: -- glad to be there.

HABERMAN: It's fine.

BERMAN: They'll join in this discussion, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:36:58] BERMAN: All right, picking up where we left off, sort of, hopefully maybe a little bit different. (INAUDIBLE) next Roy Moore's wife says in no uncertain terms that he is not stepping down. Kayla Moore spoke along with a group of Republican women from Alabama who are defending him as Moore blame the media, speaking of which.

Back now with our panel. And Maggie, I want to start with you here. And look, but we -- you know, look, we started talking about Roy Moore and Al Franken and it gets back to the president. The discussion did change overnight when the president did weigh in after not talking about Roy Moore. He did tweet about Al Franken.

HABERMAN: Yes.

BERMAN: And it does change thing. And it does beg questions again about the president.

HABERMAN: I think those questions about the president were always going to come up in light of the current national conversation that was sparked by the Harvey Weinstein story.

In reality, this conversation actually began in the 2016 election both with the Roger Ailes revelations at Fox News, with Gretchen Carlson's discussion about it, and with the "Access Hollywood" tape you played. So, I think that was always going to happen. But I do think the president puts accelerant on that happening when he decides to weigh in on one particular issue while ignoring another and there tends to be this great frustration in the White House when we cover things that he tweets or among his allies when we cover things that he tweets. He couldn't tweet and then that wouldn't be a focus of conversation, but he is the president and he has a bully pulpit. It's going to immediately shift the focus back onto.

He's trying to divert it to Franken, --

BERMAN: Right.

HABERMAN: -- but there was no way on this top. It's interesting, his aides had -- are very aware that he has a problem on this, that there -- it could raise other issues because I had conversations with some of them about it. But he just wanted to get involved. And that then becomes something, they don't have.

BERMAN: He wanted to shift focus from Moore to Franken. But by trying to shift to Franken he ends up pulling it back on himself which is a little bit of an issue there.

Phil, specifically about Alabama, we're a month away from Election Day, which, you know, coincidentally or not coincidentally it's about the time frame that existed between the "Access Hollywood" tape and actual Election Day.

Right now, you have Roy Moore trailing in the polls in Alabama. From what you see in your numbers guy, you know, are there things in these polls which lead you to believe that these numbers might stick?

BUMP: I think that is the most fascinating change in Fox News poll that came out yesterday versus the poll in October was -- in October men and women were about the same, about equally favorable towards Moore and Jones in terms of who they supported.

In November that skyrocketing in two different directions, men are now nine points more likely it's for a Moore -- women are 23 or 26 points more likely to support Jones. That's a huge shift.

And, you know, obviously, this is one poll. We'll look at the aggregate of the polls and see what actually (ph) looks like. But I think that you're right, there is still a month to go. And I think that the strategy by Moore and the strategy to some extent by Trump and other folks who would like to see Moore win is to simply buy their time.

Now, Trump last year, who had the benefit of during that last month, James Comey wrote a letter. During that last month what leads (INAUDIBLE) talk a bunch of things. And that was a huge distraction and that muted a lot to the conversation about what had happened with Trump. I don't know Moore is going to get that lucky.

HABERMAN: I think I shows that Alex Burns, my colleague and are sometimes colleague here, has made the point a few times, and I think he's right that it's not a perfect analogue what Moore is doing to what Trump did.

[21:40:07] Trump really refuses to get thrown out of the ring. He basically showed up at these debates. He was brutal toward Hillary Clinton at that debate. The weekend of the "Access Hollywood" where he paraded her husbands accusers in front of her. But it worked politically. She was knocked-off balance.

And he basically just showed up and it was everywhere talking about, yes he got some outside help. But he was everywhere. Moore is not debating.

BERMAN: No.

HABERMAN: Moore is not doing anything close to this --

BERMAN: He's not answering questions.

HABERMAN: Correct. And he starts moving away from these press conferences. Trump was different and I do think that that matters.

BERMAN: Alice.

STEWART: I -- My first job is in South Alabama as a news reporter. And I can tell you as many people can attest. The people there are not going to be swayed that much by "The Washington Post", the liberal media, Washington D.C, Democrats here, Republican establishment in Washington, they're going to listen to the people at the coffee shop, they're going to listen to the local news, or read the local paper. That will be where they get their decision.

The problem is, this involves children, 14-year-old girls. And this has gotten to the point to where the influx of story -- and we've had more come out since then. As I said, these stories, while they're just allegations, his response to them has not been credible. He didn't -- he had the opportunity to categorical deny these allegations and he -- instead says, that's not characteristic of my behavior.

Here is the thing, the polls have gone from him leading by eight to now he's down by eight. And the -- his base poll stay with them. There's no doubt about that. But it's the mushy middle. The people you need to fly over that you may not care.

BERMAN: -- like 90 seconds, but I do want to get you on an important point. Bakari, last night on this show you did say you think that Al Franken should resign, right now, which is farther than many Democrats have done. Have you had any pushback today?

SELLERS: There's no question I got push back. And I think that if Democrats look at them selves fairly and straight in the face they -- if you give Al Franken the benefit of the doubt, it's a picture. So, what? But I mean, if you want to appreciate what this woman said, the accuser said, then you have to appreciate. And some Democrats say, well, there were 13 accusers against Donald Trump. This isn't the same against one. Well, I'm not willing to die on the heel that one is enough and, you know, 13 is just more. But even more importantly I will say this. There is a skill to this. And I'm not the one who participates in false equivalencies. Preying on children is one thing. Donald Trump is another. Al Franken is another. I agree with that. None of them belong in elected office.

BERMAN: We're running out of time. I want to give Ed one last word here. Key Ivey, the governor of Alabama says she don't need to doubt the accusers, yet she's going to vote for Roy Moore.

MARTIN: Right. That's the same thing Jeff Sessions said and the same thing I've said. I think if you're being fair you don't want -- you can't judge these women. We have to be in a world where people come forward. But I don't have any reason to doubt Roy Moore. And I think what the president has done and what other people have done and said, the people of Alabama are going to vote.

And what -- everyone, I think we touched it now. Polls aren't right. Alabamans are not going to vote for a pro-abortion senator, a pro- illegal immigration senator. They're going to come back to Moore. And he's going to be senator.

SELLERS: They'll vote for a pedophile.

BERMAN: We we'll see. All right. Guys, thanks so much for being with us. I really appreciate the lively discussion.

Coming up, at CNN exclusive and incredibly disturbing story, an important story, Nima Elbagir gets access to an unthinkable event in Libya, slave auction of migrant workers. Men sold like commodities. What Nima and her team found, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:47:35] BERMAN: Tonight, an exclusive report on something that's hard to believe is going on anywhere in the world right now, a slave auction. For years, migrants crossing the Mediterranean who brought with them stories of horror, beatings, kidnappings, and slave. Many of them they carry their journeys from West African country, those migrants who do make it to Europe are often too terrified to go on the record about the ordeal.

For the last year, CNN has been working to bring these stories to light. CNN team, including Senior International Correspondent Nima Elbagir and Producer Raja Razek, and photojournalist Alex Platt travel to Libya to witness the true inhumanity for themselves. They got access to a migrant slave auction where men were sold like commodities. Here's Nima Elbagir.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man addressing an unseen crowd.

Big strong boys for farm work, he says. 400, 700, 700? 800. The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1200 Libyan pounds, $400 a piece.

You are watching an auction of human beings.

Another man claiming to be a buyer. Off-camera, someone asks, what happen to the ones from Niger?

Sold off, he's told.

CNN was sent this footage by a contact. After months of working, we were able to verify the authenticity of what you see here. We decided to travel to Libya to try and see for ourselves.

(on camera): We're now in Tripoli and we're closer to get a little bit more of a sense of how this all works. Our contacts are telling us that there are one to two of these auctions every month and that there is one happening in the next few hours. So, we're going to head out of town and see if we can get some sort of access to it.

(voice-over): For the safety of our contacts, we have agreed not to divulge the location of this auction, but the town we're driving to isn't the only one.

Night falls, we travel through nondescript suburban neighborhoods, pretending to look for a missing person.

[21:50:02] Eventually, we stopped outside a house like any other.

Adjust our secret cameras and wait.

Finally, it's time to move.

We're ushered in to one of two auctions happening on the same night, crouched at the back of the yard, a flood light obscuring much of the scene. One by one, men are brought out as the bidding begins.

400. 500. 550. 600. 650. 700. Very quickly, it's over.

We ask if we can speak to the man, the auctioneer, seen here, refuses. We ask again if we can speak to them, we can help them. No, he says. The auction is over, we're told.

And we're asked to leave.

(on camera): That was over very quickly. We walked in, and as soon as we walked in, the men started covering their faces, but they clearly wanted to finish what they were doing, and they kept bringing out what they kept referring to in Arabic as al-buda (ph), the merchandise. All in all, they admitted to us that there were 12 Nigerians that were sold in front of us, and I honestly don't know what to say. That was probably one of the most unbelievable things I've ever seen.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Led us because to our (INAUDIBLE) country.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): These men are migrants with dreams of being smuggled to Europe by sea.

They come in their thousands from Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana. It's hard to believe that these are the lucky ones, rescued from warehouses like the one in which we witnessed the auction. They're sold if those warehouses become overcrowded or if they run out of money to pay their smugglers.

Of these rescued men, so many here say they were held against their will. It doesn't take us long to find Victory.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No food, no water, nothing.

ELBAGIR: Victory was a slave.

(on camera): We know that some people are being sold.

VICTORY: Yes.

ELBAGIR: Some people are being sold.

VICTORY: Yes.

ELBAGIR: Is this something you've heard about?

VICTORY: Yes.

ELBAGIR: Can you tell us about that?

VICTORY: Yes. Sure.

ELBAGIR: Tell us.

VICTORY: I was sold.

ELBAGIR: What happened?

VICTORY: On my way here I was sold.

If you look at most of the people here, if you check their bodies, you see the marks. They are beaten. Mutilated. (INAUDIBLE) electric, shoot up a sharp object. You understand? Most of them lost their lives there.

I was there, the person who came to buy me, give me my money. Then they took me our home. So, the money was not even that much.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): As the migrants now start to come forward with their stories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They took people to work by force. Even when we were at the seaside port.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you are --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you are doing their work, they will be beating with (INAUDIBLE). I'm doing their work. They will be maltreating us.

ANES ALAZABI, DETENTION CENTER SUPERVISOR, TRIPOLI: But I promise you, I will take care of your husband.

ELBAGIR: Anes Alazabi is the supervisor here. With no international support, it's his job to look after the captured migrants until they can be deported. He says every day brings fresh heartbreak.

ALAZABI: I'm suffering for them. I am suffering for them. What they have seen here daily, believe me, it makes me really feel pain for them. They come on -- every story is a special case. A few, there was abusing them, few is -- they stole their money.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Have you heard about people being auctioned off, about migrants being sold?

ALAZABI: Honestly, we hear the rumors, but there is nothing that's obvious in front of us. We don't have the evidence.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): But we now do.

CNN has delivered this evidence to the Libyan authorities who have promised to launch an investigation, so that scenes like this are returned to the past.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[21:55:02] BERMAN: Nima, now that CNN has found this evidence, what's being done about it?

ELBAGIR: Well, the Libyan authorities say that they have brought together a high level committee, that they're going to be pushing to try and get as many of the security apparatus on board as they can. And their priority is first and foremost to try and ensure that the people that you saw auctioned off amongst others are found and brought back to safety. But the reality is, that the Libyan authorities, you know, their authority is limited. They are not in control of the entire country.

We spoke to the International Organization of Migration and they said that this is a business before anything else, that that auctioning off of human beings, it makes a lot of money. And so it has consequences when you come between people and their money in there. Their concern is that the Libyan authorities really aren't strong enough to take on this fight.

BERMAN: Hopefully, your reporting, Nima, will have consequences. Thanks so much for doing it and thanks so much for being with us, Nima Elbagir.

ELBAGIR: Thank you.

BERMAN: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: One breaking news item to end the show with the president tonight put his decision to lift the ban on importing elephant trophies from Africa on hold. He announced the change in a tweet after considerable outcry from conservation groups and others. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke put out a statement moments ago. It reads, "President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical.