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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

California Fires; Trump's Brain Games; Hollywood Horror Stories; Trump Mocks "Liddle Bob" Corker, His GOP Ally; Interview with Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired October 10, 2017 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:03]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: More A-list celebrities telling their horrific Hollywood horror stories.

THE LEAD starts right now.

A new shocking report in "The New Yorker" claims that the once big- time Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein used his power and position to sexual assault and rape women, as Hillary Clinton five days later issues a statement about her big-time supporter.

After challenging the secretary of state to an I.Q. test, President Trump meets with his top diplomat. Did Rex Tillerson bring his number two pencil? And was his possible replacement spotted at the White House today?

Plus, red alert. Thousands trying to outrun some of the worst wildfires in the history of the state of California, some burning through an area the size of a football field every three seconds. More than a dozen people already killed.

Good afternoon. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to start with breaking news in the pop culture lead. Explosive allegations today against one of the most influential people in American popular culture of the last quarter-century, Hollywood mogul, producer and now apparent sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.

"The New Yorker" magazine and "The New York Times" today breaking huge stories in which four of the most prestigious actresses of our time, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mira Sorvino, and Rosanna Arquette, all directly and on the record stating that Weinstein sexually harassed them, joining the ranks of two other celebrated actresses who did so last week, Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.

And many other women, models, actresses, producers, executives, journalists, assistants who describe hideous behavior by Weinstein, ranging from harassment to in three cases described by "The New Yorker" magazine rape.

Weinstein is one of the Democratic Party's most prestigious fund- raisers, and Miramax Films one of the world's most powerful production houses. It's impossible to read these stories without contemplating how many people knew about this hideous behavior and let it happen for decades.

"The New Yorker" today published an audiotape it says is Weinstein with an Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. In 2015, Gutierrez went to the police to lodge a criminal complaint that Weinstein had assaulted her.

They wired her for sound and she went back to him. And in this tape, we hear the disturbing sounds of him pressuring her to come into his hotel room.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HARVEY WEINSTEIN, CO-FOUNDER, THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY: WEINSTEIN: Go to the bathroom.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ, MODEL: Please, I don't want to do something I don't want to.

WEINSTEIN: Go to the bathroom. Hey, come here. Listen to me.

GUTIERREZ: I want to go downstairs.

WEINSTEIN: I won't do anything, and you'll never see me again after this. OK? That's it. If you don't -- if you embarrass me in this hotel where I'm staying...

GUTIERREZ: I'm not embarrassing you.

WEINSTEIN: Just walk.

GUTIERREZ: It's just that I don't feel comfortable.

WEINSTEIN: Honey, don't have a fight with me in the hallway.

GUTIERREZ: It's not nothing, it's...

WEINSTEIN: Please. I'm not going to do anything. I swear on my children. Please come in. On everything. I'm a famous guy.

GUTIERREZ: I'm -- I'm feeling very uncomfortable right now.

WEINSTEIN: Please come in now, and one minute. And if you want to leave when the guy comes with my jacket, you can go.

GUTIERREZ: Why yesterday you touch my breast?

WEINSTEIN: Oh, please. I'm sorry. Just come on in. I'm used to that.

GUTIERREZ: You're used to that?

WEINSTEIN: Yes, come in.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: We should note, no charges were ever filed. I want to bring in CNN's Brian Stelter.

Let's start with this case, because I think it's illustrative. "The New Yorker" says it's from a sting operation in 2015. Not long after the incident, Gutierrez saw tabloids in New York publishing dirt about her.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Media complicity is part of the problem here, Jake.

For many, many years, Weinstein was able to keep these stories mostly out of the press, perhaps by leaking information to gossip columns and things like that. The Manhattan district attorney said this afternoon the tape we just heard is horrifying, but it was insufficient evidence to actually prove a crime.

There are going to be a lot of people scrutinizing that decision now.

TAPPER: And some big names came out today to accuse Weinstein of harassment. Tell us about some of the charges.

STELTER: Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, two of the best-known actresses in the world, are now both telling "The New York Times" they were harassed by Weinstein in the 1990s.

They were early on in their careers. They were not -- they felt they were not able to speak out at the time, and Gwyneth Paltrow now saying, "This way of treating women ends now."

Particularly, rape allegations are particularly chilling. These allegations are coming from three other women made to "The New Yorker"'s Ronan Farrow. I spoke to one of the women today, Asia Argento -- excuse me -- Argento -- who said, "This is our truth." She said, "This is our truth and it is time now for the world to hear our truth."

TAPPER: Weinstein's team responded to the allegations, we learned today. What do they have to say, Brian?

STELTER: Yes. About the rape allegations, Weinstein's spokeswoman says it's flatly untrue.

We can put part of the statement on screen. "Mr. Weinstein says any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied."

It went on to say: "He's further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any woman for refusing his advances."

A lot of women dispute that.

TAPPER: Weinstein was one of Hillary Clinton's big supporters. She weighed in today as well.

STELTER: She did, five days after "The New York Times" investigation.

[16:05:05] Many people criticizing her for taking so long. But in this

statement, Clinton said: "I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior."

If I may add, Jake, yes, the women, the courage of these women has been remarkable, but the silence among both some men and women in Hollywood and politics has been disturbing. It's not just about women having to speak out. It's about men having to support them, and for a long time, powerful male executives also stayed silent.

TAPPER: And, Brian, it's impossible to read these stories in "The New York Times" and "The New Yorker" about this vile setup that Weinstein had in his office, at restaurants, in hotels, at film festivals, all over the world, with his own staffers helping to bring these women into his lair and then leave.

It's impossible to read all this and think, oh, no one really knew, including all these board members at Miramax who fired Weinstein and acting as if this is all news to them, they're so shocked. It just is nonsense.

STELTER: Yes, I'm so glad you said that.

And, look, the blame starts with Weinstein, but it spreads far and wide. Ronan Farrow today cites 16 former and current staffers of The Weinstein Company who say they knew about the boss' misconduct.

Tomorrow, the board's going to have a meeting and they're going to come up with a new name for The Weinstein Company. But no new name can wipe away the stain on this company's reputation.

TAPPER: Brian Stelter, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And breaking right now right here on CNN, the self-described e-mail prankster who has fooled a number of White House officials and bank executives using exploits we've told you about before has now apparently fooled both Harvey Weinstein himself and his now former adviser Lisa Bloom.

In e-mails that reveal quite a bit about the behind the scenes of this horrific scandal, on Sunday, the prankster posed as Weinstein and e- mailed the very real Lisa Bloom.

"Lisa, I have had time to think and I do understand why you felt unable to remain on my team," the fake Weinstein wrote, to which, the very real Lisa Bloom responded -- quote -- "Thank you, Harvey. The new round of far more serious allegations were not made known to me, so I could not have realized, but I am not revealing any of that publicly, because that's between you and me" -- unquote. Or so she thought at any rate.

The fake Weinstein then asked her -- quote -- "Which of the latest allegations do you feel will hit hardest? You can be candid." And the very Lisa Bloom responded simply with just words: "Sexual assault."

These e-mails came before the allegations of rape and sexual assault that we just told you about.

In a different e-mail exchange, the e-mail prankster posed as Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director for President Obama, who a few weeks ago was asked by a mutual friend to speak to Weinstein.

After the fake Dunn e-mailed the real Weinstein, the real Weinstein responded: "I'm sick. I need your advice. All my best, Harvey."

The fake Dunn replied: "I'm sure redemption can be found, Harvey, but only if you're willing to be as brave as those who have found the strength to stand up to you. You should accept your fate graciously and not seek to deny or discredit those who your behavior has affected."

The real Weinstein wrote back simply, "I agree."

But that agreement notwithstanding, Weinstein's attorneys and spokespeople have been doing the opposite of that. They have been denying the allegations, and, as obtained by journalist Janice Min, Weinstein himself has been writing and reaching out privately to Hollywood CEOs and moguls asking them to defend him.

Quote: "A lot of the allegations are false, as you know, but given therapy and counseling, as other people have done, think I'd be able to get there," Weinstein wrote. He continued, "If the industry supports me, that's all I need."

We reached out to both Bloom and Weinstein's representatives for comment. We did not hear back.

Now, Republicans have been using the Weinstein scammed as an opportunity to attack Democrats, given Weinstein's ardent support for the Democratic Party.

The president's own son, Donald Trump Jr., went after late-night host Jimmy Kimmel to suggest that Kimmel use his monologue to attack Weinstein, who has given lots of money to Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE")

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": And, listen, it's true. I'm not defending Hillary Clinton. The fact is, her campaign did take money from what turned out to be a high-profile man who has been accused of sexual harassment multiple times, and not just one of them, by the way.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: She took money from two of them, Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Trump, of course, gave Hillary Clinton money in previous campaigns.

Now, we have counted at least 11 women who have accused President Trump of sexual harassment or sexual assault on the record. Jessica Drake said in a press conference that Mr. Trump reportedly grabbed her, kissed her without consent and offered her money to have sex with him.

Summer Zervos, a contestant on "The Apprentice," accused Mr. Trump of harassing her on multiple occasions, including one where he reportedly thrust his genitals at her.

Jessica Leeds told "The New York Times" that during on a flight in the 1980s, he sat next to her, lifted the armrest and began to grab her breasts and put his hands up her skirt -- quote -- "He was like an octopus. His hands were everywhere," she said.

[16:10:01]

And that's only three of the 11. Mr. Trump has denied many of these allegations, but these women deserve our attention too, even as those close to the president try to suggest otherwise.

Here's Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel on CNN yesterday. She was being asked about her call for Democrats to give back or give away Weinstein's political contributions, as well as the crude words Mr. Trump said on that infamous "Access Hollywood" tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONNA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: To even make that comparison is disrespectful to the president. He didn't have eight settlements. He didn't have women coming forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: He didn't have women coming forward?

Yes, he did. He had lots of women coming forward, Ms. McDaniel. We just listed three of the multiple accusers.

Those who express outrage at one sexual harasser and not another because of the first harasser's political views, that is morally bankrupt.

And this was a point made, interestingly enough, by FOX News anchor Sean Hannity last night, saying the left has this selective moral outrage. It's a cogent point, except that very same Sean Hannity hosted sexual harasser Bill O'Reilly on his show two weeks ago, O'Reilly, of course, fired from FOX News Channel after an investigation of multiple allegations of sexual harassment, including multiple settlements.

Look, this shouldn't be hard, and it shouldn't be partisan. It doesn't matter if it's Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump or Roger Ailes or Bill Cosby or Bill O'Reilly or Bill Clinton. These accusations are all worthy of reporting and outrage.

You don't get to pick and choose which ones you find valid and outrageous based on political party.

And, by the way, here is how Mr. Trump himself and his daughter Ivanka took the suggestion of him being a sexual predator on Howard Stern's show back in 2006.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Donald, seriously, you know about sexual predators and things like that.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are one.

STERN: All right. I wasn't going to say that.

(LAUGHTER)

STERN: But it's true.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Isn't that funny? Her dad's a sexual predator.

In our politics lead: President Trump took to Twitter to go after -- quote -- "Liddle" -- L-I-D-D-L-E -- Bob Corker -- the president's words, not mine, after the Tennessee senator told "The New York Times" that Trump is putting America on a path to World War III.

Now the White House is firing back at Corker yet again. That story's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:16:23] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we're back with our politics lead -- a politics lead that again today feels less like a politics lead and more like satire.

Here are some actual headlines from today about President Trump and the White House. Trump proposes IQ tests, face-off with Tillerson after secretary of state calls him a moron.

Here's another, Trump mocks Bob Corker's height, escalating feud with a key Republican.

And another, self-serving noise. Read Melania Trump's response slamming Ivana Trump's first lady claim.

Be honest, if I shared those three headlines with you last year, would you not have thought I was quoting "The Onion"?

But now, it's not a parody. That is our current reality, where maturity and decency are in the same abundance as electricity and potable water in Puerto Rico. The same issue Republican Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was getting at when he expressed his concerns about President Trump's erratic behavior with "The New York Times", saying, quote, I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it's a situation of trying to contain him.

CNN's Jim Acosta joins me now live from the White House.

And, Jim, the president responded today to Senator Corker's comments that the U.S. is heading on a path to World War III because of his reckless comments and his reckless tweets. What did he have to say?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.

The day started off with the president responding to Senator Bob Corker's critical comments by making fun of the senator's height. And then the White House went further with White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders quoting the late Senator Pat Moynihan, who said, you're entitled to your own opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts. This from a White House that once talked about alternative facts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's an honor to have Dr. Kissinger with us.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Just as President Trump was asked once again to express his confidence in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson --

REPORTER: Do you still have confidence in Secretary Tillerson, sir?

TRUMP: Yes.

ACOSTA: The White House is in the grips of another week of reality TV-style drama, as the president appeared to invent a new kind of competition for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, challenging him to a battle of wits, commenting on reports that Tillerson had called him a moron, the president told "Forbes" magazine, I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests, and I can tell you who is going to win.

Just kidding, says the White House.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He made a joke. Nothing more than that.

ACOSTA: The president didn't comment on the IQ challenge, but he claimed he isn't undermining Tillerson.

TRUMP: I don't believe in undercutting people. ACOSTA: But the president appeared to do just that earlier this

month, tweeting about North Korea: I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, that he's wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man. Down Pennsylvania Avenue, the president is continuing his running feud with outgoing GOP Senator Bob Corker, who warned Mr. Trump may be leading the U.S. down a dark path.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: He doesn't realize that, you know, that we could be heading towards World War III with the kind of comments that he's making.

ACOSTA: The president's response, to refer back to his bag of campaign style cut downs for his adversaries, tweeting: The failing "New York Times" set Liddle Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I'm dealing with.

Adding to that, the White House accused Corker of getting his facts wrong.

SANDERS: Senator Corker is certainly entitled to his own opinion, but he's not entitled to his own facts.

ACOSTA: Sitting next to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the president denied the country is heading towards a Third World War.

TRUMP: We were on the wrong path before. All you have to do is take a look. If you look over the last 25 years, through numerous administrations, we were on a path to a very big problem. A problem like this world has never seen. We're on the right path right now, believe me.

ACOSTA: The president's schedule was aimed at punctuating that point, with Mr. Trump meeting not just meeting with Kissinger, but also Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis.

[16:20:04] Up on Capitol Hill, GOP leaders are largely staying on the sidelines of the president's latest slugfest. Though Democratic lawmakers say they've heard their GOP colleagues share Corker's concerns in private.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I hear the same things that Senator Corker said and I have been asking them, why don't they say these things in public? I think many of them are concerned about being the victim of a tweet. Other ones are worried about having somebody run against them from the right, and there are others who basically say, boys will be boys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, as for the secretary of state, a spokesperson at the State Department set the record straight and said Tillerson has a, quote, high IQ. A source close to Tillerson said there's no need to react to the president's comments. And as for why the president keeps referring to these nicknames that he used during the campaign season, one source told me, Jake, this is a source who advises the White House, by the way, quote, it works.

That's the answer for that, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jim Acosta at the White House -- thank you so much.

The White House now says the president was joking when he said he would beat Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an IQ test. But with so many other disasters and dictators and nuclear crises, should battling wits with his top diplomat be even entering his mind at all right now? We'll talk to a Republican lawmaker, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:25:34] TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead.

President Trump declaring that he has confidence in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today, following reports that Tillerson privately called the president a moron over the summer. In an interview with Forbes released today, the president responded, quote, I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests, and I can tell you who is going to win, unquote.

Joining me now is Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. And we are going to -- going to an IQ test right now between the two --

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Just joking.

But I do want to ask you --

REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: You'll win, Jake.

TAPPER: But I do want to ask you in that interview with "Forbes," the president said about Secretary of State Tillerson, I'm not undermining, I think I'm actually strengthening authority. And a lot of people have been wondering about the relationship because, of course, the president tweeted last week, quote, I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man, that's a reference to Kim Jong- un. Save your energy, Rex, we'll do what has to be done.

That doesn't seem to most people to be strengthening Secretary Tillerson, it seems to be undermining.

DUFFY: Well, I think -- I mean, you saw this NBC report that said, you know, Tillerson was saying not so pleasant things about the president. If President Trump believed that and President Trump didn't believe he had the full confidence of Rex Tillerson, he would fire him. If he didn't think Rex was doing a good job, Rex Tillerson would be out of a job right now as secretary of state.

So, I look not happening publicly, but you have to look behind the scenes, Jake, at the relationship that these two have and how they're trying to navigate some really big problems in the world. And I think, at least thus far, the president has the trust of Rex Tillerson. And Rex has that of the president.

You know, you hear the "Forbes" article that you referenced and President Trump talking about having a better IQ or higher IQ than Tillerson. They (INAUDIBLE) he's joking. You've got to be able to have fun at some point in these jobs. And looks like that's what he was doing with the author of the article, having a little fun about IQs.

TAPPER: Sure, but if you listen to the comments made by Senator Bob Corker, the respected Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to "The New York Times," he thinks that President Trump's tweets about foreign policy have actually caused diplomatic problems and he said he was concerned that, you know, the president's leading us on a path to World War III.

Now, forgetting the hyperbole of World War III for a second, I mean, that's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressing concern that the president's tweets, you know, it's one thing if he's going after Jemele Hill on ESPN. It might not be cool or mature, but it's not going to cause an international incident. But these tweets about North Korea, that's alarming Bob Corker, at least.

DUFFY: I don't know if Bob Corker wants us to go back to the policies of Barack Obama or George Bush or President Clinton. Donald Trump has shaken things up with North Korea, and when he's done that, yes, it's made people uncomfortable, but he has the rest of the world now better engaged and more engaged in how we address the rising threat of North Korea. You have economic sanctions coming from the rest of the world, sanctions coming from the U.N. We have for the first time China engaging with us to shut down banks, financial institutions that are laundering money for North Korea.

This hasn't happened in the past. So, if you look at the successes of Donald Trump and compare that to past presidents, this president's making a lot of progress to actually address the threat. I would argue that if you want World War III, continue with the failed policies that you had over the last 16 years, and you'll have the Kim regime continue to develop weapons of mass destruction and missiles that can deliver it to our shores. So, the president's going in a different direction, but I think he's having success with that strategy.

TAPPER: Take a listen to former White House strategist and close confidant of the president, Steve Bannon, last night.

DUFFY: Listen, I disagree --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: McConnell and Corker and the entire clique, establishment, globalist clique on Capitol Hill have to go. If Bob Corker has any honor, any decency, he should resign immediately.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: So, just to -- Steve Bannon saying that Corker, McConnell and the entire clique, the globalist clique on Capitol Hill has to go and that Corker should resign. And he would if he had any honor and decency, do you agree?

DUFFY: No, Corker won a seat. He gets to fill the remainder of his term. If he so chooses to leave the Senate, good for him. But if not, he gets to serve the remainder of his term as Tennessee elected him to do.

But, you know, they're throwing in Mitch McConnell. I don't think anyone has been working harder to accomplish the Trump agenda than Mitch McConnell. Now, he hasn't been successful because he has some rogue senators, but the Trump agenda has been a Republican agenda on health care and taxes and regulation and border security. We've all for the most part bought into that agenda and Mitch McConnell's trying to accomplish it.

And to throw Mitch under the bus, think Mr. Bannon is misguided.