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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

The Silence is Deafening; Roy Moore's Campaign Pushes Back Against Allegations. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 15, 2017 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:02] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin tonight with Roy Moore and things left unsaid. New reporting on a possible reason why. And breaking news surrounding the allegations the Republican candidate for Senate from Alabama. The lawyer for Mr. Moore taking aim late this afternoon at one of the accusers, questioning her credibility, in fact denying all allegations against the candidate.

We'll have more on that shortly. First, though, the silence about all of it coming from the White House. President Trump stepped up to the microphone today under pressure to say something about Roy Moore. He talked for more than 20 minutes stopping several times for water as he recapped his 12 day swing through Asia in almost hour by hour detail.

Now, remember, he declined to talk about Moore during the trip, telling reporters aboard Air Force One, I've been with you folks so I haven't gotten a chance to see much. He said he'd make a major statement when he got back, but did not say on what.

So, now that he's back, now that he's seen how the story is playing out, now that he's heard the calls from Republicans for Roy Moore to get out of the race, and most importantly, now that he's got a national television audience to speak to, here is what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Should Roy Moore resign, Mr. President?

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: Should he resign?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He said nothing about his speech and did not answer any of the questions that were shouted at him.

The question is, why isn't the president weighing in?

A number of Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are proposing a way out for him. One that would also let him replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, namely persuading Sessions to run as a write-in candidate for his old seat. That seems like it would be pretty simple and would have the added benefit, at least for President Trump, of removing Mr. Sessions from his attorney general post which according to the reporting back in July, President Trump wanted anyway because of his anger over Mr. Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

Other Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham, just today wanted the president to speak out for no other reason than he's head of the Republican Party. And his daughter Ivanka, she has spoken out, telling "The Associated Press" when asked about Moore, quote, There's a special place in hell for people who pray on children.

Yet from her father so far, nothing. And again, the question is, why? Well, according to new CNN reporting it has to do with stories like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA LEEDS, TRUMP ACCUSER: Then the meal finished and the stewardess cleared away the dishes and everything else like that, and it was like suddenly he's liken encroaching on my side of the seat. And his hands were everywhere.

COOPER: Did he say anything?

LEEDS: No. And I didn't either.

COOPER: You didn't say anything to him.

LEEDS: I didn't say anything.

COOPER: You say his hands were everywhere. Can you be specific?

LEEDS: Well, he was grabbing my breasts and trying to turn me towards him and kissing me. And then after a bit, that's when his hands started going -- I was wearing a skirt and his hands started going towards my knee and up my skirt. And that's when I said I don't need this and I got up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was my conversation with Jessica Leeds last October recounting an alleged incident back in 1979. Ms. Leeds, one of a string of women accusing then candidate Donald Trump of a variety of sexual misconduct which our source, a Republican familiar with the matter, told our Jeff Zeleny, quote, he's worried about the conversation moving to his past accusers.

The source noting that the president still believes and again this is the source talking that his accusers were unfair and some of Moore's may be too.

The president, of course, denies all allegations against him. But again, this is a Republican source, and in position to know the president's thinking. And to that point, members of the Moore campaign spoke to reporters late out. It was not to get out of the race, far from it, in fact. CNN's Kyung Lah was there when it happened. She joins us now with the

breaking news.

So, this press conference today was not exactly what people expected.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, because it was happening at the same time as an emergency meeting of the state GOP, the belief was that this might be something substantive about the future of the campaign and instead, it ended up being much about handwriting.

So, what the attorney for Roy Moore said is he wants the public to decide. So here it is. Take a look at these three handwriting samples. What the attorney said is look at the way his handwriting looks.

So, this is his current handwriting, in 2017. Your top left, to your right is what it looked like in 1999 when he was signing as a judge, and then below that is the yearbook, the yearbook that Beverly Nelson showed at that heartbreaking news conference. And then the attorney said, don't even look at the signature, look at the D.A., look at the way those two letters look, Anderson.

So, now, it looks like it's going even further, legal wrangling over the yearbook. Indeed a very messy next step -- Anderson.

COOPER: What else did Moore's attorney say?

LAH: The next part that he said was quite interesting to us, because you may recall that after Nelson had her news conference, she said that she didn't have any further contact with Moore since that incident when she was 16 years old.

[20:05:12] Well, the attorney came out very hard. He said, they did have contact because Moore was the judge when Nelson got divorced.

But here are the big questions. Did she ever have to appear before Moore? And then we should point out that when Nelson had that new conference, shortly after that, Moore came out and said, and I'm going to quote here, he said, that I don't even know the woman. I don't know about anything her, yet today he's saying he was now the judge presiding over her divorce case.

COOPER: Kyung Lah, appreciate that.

Late today, the accuser's lawyer reacted, speaking to Wolf Blitzer when asked whether she'll turn over the year book in question, Gloria Allred said, but only if Moore does this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR ROY MOORE ACCUSER: Is he or is he not going to stand up and take the oath and swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help him god before the United States Senate and before the public, not only in Alabama but before the nation? When he is ready for it, is he ready to do it, if the Senate will conduct that needed hearing prior to the election, that we have made our offer to allow an independent examiner to examine this. We think that's reasonable.

But until then, if he wants to evade, avoid, deny, distract, threaten to sue, try to smear, try to discredit, we're not going to allow ourselves to be distracted by all of that noise. Let him step up, let him testify and then everyone can draw their conclusion about who is telling the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Wolf also asked her about the divorce case that Moore's attorney raised and Kyung just talked about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: But, Gloria, just acknowledge whether or not she knew that he was the divorce judge in that 1999 case. Did she appear before him? Was she aware that Judge Moore was the judge in that divorce proceeding?

ALLRED: All of these questions will be answered at a --

BLITZER: Well, why can't you answer that now? It's a simple question.

ALLRED: Because this is not a Senate hearing, last time I checked. And we're not going to put everything out there unless and until --

BLITZER: But, Gloria, it's a simple question whether or not she knew he was the judge in that divorce proceeding. You know, we'll go back to the records, but I assume you've discussed this with her.

ALLRED: Well, of course I never would disclose what I would discuss with a client that might be attorney-client privileged, confidential information. That was not discussed at the press conference and she did not discuss it one way or another. And there's a lot that senator -- well, I should say former Judge Roy Moore has not discussed, a lot that he hasn't disclosed.

So, let's do it in a hearing and not be distracted by anything else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Gloria Allred on "THE SITUATION ROOM" this evening.

I want to bring in our political and legal panel. David Gergen, Ed Martin, Amanda Carpenter, and for the legal side of things, Mark Geragos.

Mark, does it make sense to you that Gloria Allred would not, A, hand over to some neutral party this yearbook for analysis or to even answer the question about whether -- what Ms. Nelson knew or did not know?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the year book, I think, even if you have an independent expert look at it, the independent expert is going to want what's called an exemplar from the time. You can't really -- most handwriting experts are never going to be able to testify conclusively based on somebody who is 70 now and was 30-something at the time. They're going to want exemplars.

So, turning over the yearbook is only one step. They would need something to compare it with at the time when he was 32, 33 --

COOPER: Right, if he was the assistant district attorney, there must have been plenty examples of his handwriting from back then.

GERAGOS: Right. And so, that's what they would need.

And yes, I would think that turning over the yearbook would clear this up, although taking a look at it, a layperson can testify in most jurisdictions as to handwriting.

The thing that's more troubling I think for the accuser is the part about the divorce proceeding. And that's where somebody needs to do some investigation. Somebody needs to go down there, look at the court docket sheet. See if it was just assigned to Judge Moore, which happens on many occasions, or whether he actually presided over it. And generally, the docket sheet will show whether she appeared in court, whether she appeared in front of the judge, or whether this was all done kind of without her presence and done by lawyers.

That to me would tell you quite a bit, because if, in fact, she had appeared in front of him, that's something that I can tell you, most people that I know that got through divorces, remember the name and everything that happened about her divorce case.

[20:10:14] So, that would be something that would be very concerning to me if I'm representing the accuser. I'd want to know that and I'd want to see the docket sheet.

COOPER: Amanda, I'm wondering what you made of the press conference from Moore's attorney.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I just have to say this point on Gloria Allred, when I listened to her call in to Wolf Blitzer's show earlier, I was just shaking my head in disbelief to think that she is asking for a Senate hearing on a campaign issue.

Roy Moore is not a U.S. senator. The U.S. Senate is not going to hold hearings about a campaign issue. If Roy Moore was elected, perhaps the Senate Ethics Committee would take a look into his past history, but only until he's a U.S. senator would ever happen.

She I think is clearly asking for something that will not happen so she can perhaps throw a fit about. I don't know because her request is so unreasonable and I think makes her client look bad. She didn't do her client any favors by making that request.

COOPER: David, I mean, the takeaway from the Roy Moore campaign had to be he's not backing down certainly and he's not dropping out. DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN &

CLINTON: What a mess. This is a nightmare for the Republican Party. I for the life of me cannot understand in Steve Bannon hasn't seen that he ought to protect his old boss and his friend and get Roy Moore out of the race. It seems to me, Steve Bannon is the one that bears responsibility for Roy Moore being in this position, winning the nomination, and I would think to protect his friend, he would ask for him to get out of the race and get this settled once and for all.

We're going to be going back and forth. And this looks bad for the Republican Party. It looks bad for the president. It doesn't look good for Gloria Allred, you know? And I think most people are shaking their heads and saying, what a mess.

And if it goes on many more days, the Democrats are going to win that seat and that's going to be a blow to the president. Steve Bannon ought to step in the way and take that bullet.

COOPER: Ed, how do you see it?

ED MARTIN, AUTHOR, "THE CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR TRUMP": Well, look, David summarized it pretty well. I think a lot of people looked bad. I didn't think it was a great conference by the Roy Moore camp. I thought it was confusing. But at the end of the day, Alabamans get to vote on this, Anderson, and it feels like a political -- I've said a lot of times, a political hit, but it feels like an orchestrated effort.

Gloria Allred comes in. She tries to go a little too far of hammering home her grand idea of a hearing. But here's the facts: with four weeks left, the Alabama people are going to decide between a "Washington Post" fight and this is how Roy Moore's position it, and Roy Moore, it comes down to things like the next Supreme Court judge who is going to decide on abortion and things like that immigration. And that's where Roy Moore I think wins.

I will say this. I've talked to sources with the campaign, the Roy Moore campaign. And they have drafts of the lawsuit against "The Washington Post." I think Roy Moore, if he's going to sue, if he really believes like he said he ought to sue and then he can say out to the public, I will be in court and these women will get their day in court, and so will "The Washington Post".

And, by the way, Anderson, it should be said that Mitch McConnell should apologize. He should say, if there's a legal proceeding, I'll do the same thing that they're doing to Menendez. I'll wait until the case is over and then the Senate will act. This is a political hit on Roy Moore in my opinion, and now, we got -- and Roy Moore's got to fix it, though. And I think he's on his way to fixing it.

CARPENTER: I do think there is a more elegant solution that involves not Steve Bannon taking a hit but perhaps the sitting Senator Luther Strange. He could simply resign his seat and trigger a new election that would trigger a new process. He would resign from the seat. Governor Kaye Ivey would appoint a new senator in the place and have a new special election where the people of Alabama could vote with this information about Roy Moore in mind.

Is that necessarily fair to the Democrat that's running in that race? I will admit no, but these are tools that the Republicans do have at their disposal to exercise if they so choose.

COOPER: Just from a legal standpoint, does it make sense to you, Mark Geragos, that -- I mean, Roy Moore is threatening to sue. Ed is saying they're preparing for that. There's a lot of people who threaten to sue, the president is one of them, and then never actually follow through because if Roy Moore was to sue, he would have to go through the whole deposition process, discovery process --

GERGEN: Right.

COOPER: -- and he would have to answer questions.

GERAGOS: Yes. Except -- except the timing of this is spectacular for him because he can sue right now. He can sue tomorrow. He can file on Friday.

He does not have to serve it immediately. He could literally sue. He would have his complaint out there and it would be not be responded to, he wouldn't have to do a deposition. There would be no discovery prior to the special election.

MARTIN: Well, Mark --

GERAGOS: So, he's going to do that, I have no doubt.

COOPER: Let me finish.

MARTIN: OK.

I just want -- Alabama procedure, I looked up Alabama procedure and it looks like in this kind of case, they could try to expedite depositions actually and do them really quickly. There is a risk of that.

But you're exactly right. Mark has put his finger on it.

Anderson, if you want to solve this politically, if I'm Roy Moore, I follow that lawsuit tomorrow and I put Jeff Bezos and "Washington Post", John Doe, one through 10.

[20:15:08] And then I go and I say, I'm willing to put myself, I'm Roy Moore, I'm willing to put myself under oath in this lawsuit and the women will get their day in court. They will be there too and then if he doesn't want to go through with the lawsuit in six months, you can drop the lawsuit. He's in charge of it. So, there's a way out --

GERAGOS: He could file the lawsuit --

MARTIN: Yes.

GERAGOS: He could file the lawsuit and literally dismiss it the day after the election and that's the end of that. MARTIN: Exactly.

COOPER: David, what do you think of the whole idea of a lawsuit? David Gergen?

GERGEN: Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't understand.

Listen, what about the other two women? There are now six women who have come out here. Come on, guys.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: This is not lawsuit territory. But, you know, this is a question of class and being a gentleman. And, you know, he ought to recognize, as so many people tried to tell him, that this is really hurting his party. It's hurting his president and he can say, look, I didn't do this but for the sake of my friends and my party, I'm stepping out of this. There's a simple way to solve this.

COOPER: Amanda?

CARPENTER: I think we should look at what Roy Moore's job was today. His job today was to make the case to conservatives and people in Alabama that he had an explanation. He did not. Instead he chose to question the handwriting in the year book. He chose to threaten more lawsuits against reporters and he doesn't have anything else.

He had to come up with an explanation, and all he has is more bluster. He didn't do his job today.

COOPER: We've got to take a break. We're going to hear more about, we'll talk to Ed and everybody else. We'll continue this discussion. Also about the growing calls from Republican senators for Moore to step down, and the president to speak up.

Later, hear about the staffer whose quick action saved young lives as a gunman took aim at their school in California.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:20:05] COOPER: We're talking about Roy Moore and why the president is not. Republican lawmakers certainly are, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I met a lot of people in the mall and if you're getting kicked out of the mall, that's a pretty bad situation to find yourself in. He was on the no fly list for a mall, which to me is pretty stunning.

REPORTER: Would you like to see the president weigh in and join your calls for Roy Moore --

GRAHAM: Well, that would be up to him, but he's the head of the party. It would probably be good if he'd say something. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Senator Graham there referring to Moore allegedly being on a watch list of sorts at the local shopping mall back in the '80s.

And back now with the panel.

I mean, David, the silence from the president today, sources tell CNN he's worried the conversation would shift to his past accusers, all of which of course he's denied. Politically speaking is not saying anything about this the safest play for him?

GERGEN: I think, Anderson, look, he has a flimsy excuse today. He wanted to talk about his trip and he didn't want to step on his own story, but I think he's got 24 hours more to say something.

He is president. This is a really important test of his presidency, his whole agenda, where he stands. He may catch some flak for it, but that's what being a leader is. I mean, he's got to step up and do a tough thing and he's got to get this guy out of the race for the sake of his own party and his own agenda.

COOPER: Ed, how do you -- I mean, as a supporter of the president, how do you see it? Because the flipside is he already weighed in to tell people to vote for Luther Strange and he got a loss on that. Does he really want to weigh in on this?

MARTIN: No. I mean, I see it exactly the opposite of David Gergen on both points he just made back to back. One he says, the guy gets accused, therefore the classy thing is to quit. I think if that's the standard, then, David, no one will run for office because we'll accuse them.

And, by the way, Lindsey Graham has been accused of all kinds of things in terms of his own private life. Should he quit?

And the second thing David said is absolutely wrong. If the president comes out and says to Alabamans, I'm going to take away your right to choose, whether you want a pro-life senator or a pro-abortion senator, a guy who's for amnesty, a guy who's not, and if he does that, evangelicals and conservative Catholics will look up and say, boy, why is he weighing in on the wrong side of that?

What he should say is this: Roy Moore should stand -- like I just said, Roy Moore should stand up and say, I will go in court. I'll sue the "Washington Post" and the women will get their day and I'll get my day, and we'll get to the bottom of this.

Until then, don't judge this guy and smear him. Where do you go to get back to get back your reputation after David Gergen says your classless on national TV if you didn't do it? And David doesn't know he did it and David doesn't know if the women were true. So, there's a part of this that's the bottom of our political system that David should pull us up out of if he cares about America. That's what I think.

COOPER: David?

GERGEN: Well, listen, sir, you're so wrong on so mp points I'm not sure where to go with this.

MARTIN: If you want --

GERGEN: That is absolutely true. It's absolutely true we do not know the truth. Going for a lawsuit is only going to postpone the whole thing until after the elections. It is a transparent way to avoid the issue before the election.

MARTIN: No, it's not.

GERGEN: I don't think it's very honorable. I have known all sorts of people who left public life, not because they had done something wrong but because they thought there was a standard of loyalty to their party, to their White House, to their president. And they did what I think is an honorable thing. They fell on their own sword.

COOPER: Yes.

GERGEN: And you can say all you want, you can pull out all sorts of legalisms and detours and --

MARTIN: There's no legalism. It's moral.

GERGEN: But face the truth, and that is that the Republicans who represent the bulk of this party in Washington, D.C., you may not like them, but they're trying to preserve a party and preserve an agenda. And they say get out of the race, period.

MARTIN: David --

GERGEN: Get out. That's what the message is.

COOPER: Amanda, let me ask you. I mean, for those who care about the president's agenda, I mean, it is -- you know, Scott Jennings made this point last night. If Roy Moore loses and a Democrat gets elected, the president's agenda is in real danger.

CARPENTER: Yes. Well, he is boxed into silence on this topic right now because he can't speak to the subject of a man being accused of sexual assault. That's number one.

But also, he can't speak to a possible write-in campaign because I think the president does prefer this option because it would take away Jeff Sessions. If look at Republicans are saying, they are coalescing around Sessions and having some kind of write-in campaign against Roy Moore.

Well, why can't Donald Trump talk about that? Because Donald Trump would like nothing more than to get Jeff Sessions out of the Department of Justice and to get a more favorable attorney general who can help block the witch-hunt hoax Russia investigation. But if he were to come out and advocate that he should run for that seat, the Democrats would have a huge political gift for anything to do with Russia coming forward. So, therefore, he can't talk about Roy Moore at all.

COOPER: Mark Geragos, I mean, it was interesting that some -- you know, that what the attorney for Moore did not say at this press conference.

[20:25:03] I mean, he basically -- he raised this idea that Moore had been involved in the divorce proceedings for Mrs. Nelson, which actually contradicts -- it would seem to contradict what Judge Moore himself had said, which he did not know anything this person, didn't know this person. And there's still obviously nothing said about the allegations made by the woman whose 14 years old at the time she says Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her.

GERAGOS: Well, as far as the judge knowing somebody was in front of him, you know, in defense -- and mind you, I'm no fan of Roy Moore. But in defense of judges who handle thousands of cases a year, the idea that they're going to remember a specific litigant from 1999 is slim and none unless there was something significant about it. So, that doesn't cut off -- or cut off any kind of credibility.

I mean, the lawyer for Moore had a really bad day today when he was doing an interview and so today was not a great day for the lawyers involved in this case. It seems like everybody was having problems.

I think that to bring it full circle to what we discussed before, David Gergen I think makes the most telling point. Maybe I'm getting outside my lane. It isn't a legal analyst. But I think at the end of the day, this is really going to turn on Steve Bannon.

Steve Bannon is the one. If Bannon pulses the support, if Steve pulls the support, and, you know, "Drudge" was out there today, if Steve pulls the support in this case, then I don't think he's got a way to go. I don't think there's a path to victory.

But if Bannon sticks with him, I'm not so sure that Alabama doesn't get their ire -- Alabamans don't get their ire up and say we're not going to be dictated to by establishment Washington Republicans. And I don't think -- I think this idea of a write-in the campaign. This isn't Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. I just don't know that this is a -- that's a real thing.

I think Amanda's solution makes some sense. If Bannon pulls his support, if he resigns and she appoints somebody or cancels the election, that is one path way for the Republicans.

COOPER: Ed, to Republicans who say, well, look, you more than anyone obviously supporter of the president, obviously want the president's agenda to move forward.

MARTIN: Yes.

COOPER: Do you fear, you know, if a Democrat is elected that that's suddenly the president's agenda is more vulnerable?

MARTIN: Yes, you bet.

COOPER: And is there it worth severing -- if Roy Moore is the cost of preventing that, is that worth it?

MARTIN: No. Look, if a Democrat wins this election, the blame will lie right at the feet of guys like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and everybody and Lindsey Graham, who decided that they, after getting beat in the primary, wanted to look for a way to cut and run. I think what the president should do, is he should -

COOPER: You could also say, the blame would go to Roy Moore for what people believe are his actions many years ago because they believe him.

MARTIN: Anderson, if you believe he did all that, that's OK. But if he doesn't think he did, then he has a right to stand up and say, I didn't do it.

COOPER: Sure, absolutely.

MARTIN: I think what the president should say, the president should say, the people of Alabama should decide who they want to represent them, and after they decide, we'll have a discussion on all these other things.

I think the best thing would be some mechanism, a lawsuit by Roy Moore against "The Washington Post" would give the women their day in court, too. I think that would be everybody under oath. I think that would be a way to do it.

But, look, Menendez is in court and no one is saying we're going to expel him. He's in court for being indicted and they're saying, we'll wait and see what the judgment is. In this case, no, no. We won't wait and say anything. I just -- I think it's really unfair and Alabamans I think are going to reject it.

America may not. You may in Washington and New York and other places say oh, boy, Roy Moore is bad. Alabamans may say, we want a pro-life justice replacing Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We'll stick with Roy Moore. I think that's a factor.

COOPER: David, that is one of the concerns certainly for the president weighing in that, you know, that for the people in Alabama who support him and there are a lot of people in Alabama who supported him, as we've seen at the rallies, at the way the vote went down, that he already, you know, in his opinion, I guess, made a mistake on backing Luther Strange. That didn't work out and then for him to weigh in against -- on a states rights issue, does that look bad for him? I would assume that's part of the consideration for him.

GERGEN: Well, I don't think any great option for the president in which he doesn't come out with some wounds. But I -- it does seem to me that the best option from his point of view that Jeff Sessions be on the ticket or be a write-in candidate, that people can unite behind. And you put these other arguments aside, we know for some time now that Jeff Sessions has been -- has had tense relationships with the president any way and he seems to be unhappy in the job, he lost his old job. So, I thought from the beginning until last week that the Sessions' option is the best one for the president and for the party. But I think somebody has to -- you know, there are six women involved here, you know. What we're being told by the Moore people is that you can't believe any of them, all six are lying. Is that really credible?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we'll ended on that, everybody. Thanks.

Roy Moore is drawing on his deep ties to Alabama evangelicals. He spoke at a revival meeting last night. In a moment we'll talk with the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to find out what he thinks of the accusations against Mr. Moore.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There is more breaking news out of Alabama tonight, two new accusers coming forward. The Washington Post has the story. Their headline, "Two more women describe unwanted overture by Roy Moore at Alabama mall."

Joining us on the phone from Gadsden, one of three reporters on the byline, Beth Ryan Heart. Beth, if you could just explain what you've been reporting?

BETH REINHARD, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): So we were last week that about four teenager girls that Roy Moore when he was in his early 30s. He was local prosecutor pursued and one of the women we read about was 14 when Roy touched her sexually.

And as a result of that story some women have been encouraged to come forward. And one of them wrote about in a story posting tonight, a women named Gina Richardson who was a high school senior working at the mall at sears, when Roy Moore approached her, asked her for her number. She declined. She then was in school a couple days later in her class when she heard she got a call. She thought, oh my goodness, is it my dad. And she went to the office it turned out to be Roy Moore asking her out on a date.

COOPER: So what age was she at -- she was a senior in high school you're saying?

REINHARD: Yes, she was 17 or 18.

[20:35:01] COOPER: And do you know what happened? I mean Roy Moore actually called her through the school she's saying?

REINHARD: He calls her at school. She said I can't talk now I'm in third class. So he came back to see her where she worked and asked her out again. She relented she met him that night at the movies. And they went to a movie and then he offered a drive to her car which was on the other side of the mall parking lot. And, sort of, you know grabbed and kissed her at which point she got, you know kind of nervous and said I really need to go and left. And then when he would come back into the mall she was sort of hide from him. And this has been a time in the late '70s or early '80s he was gaining this reputation around the mall. We talked to a number of women around the mall who back in were asked out by him. Some declined, some did go out on date with him but, they say he was a constant presence at the mall. And you know, his -- he was constantly going after girls who were teenagers or in some cases they're early 20s.

COOPER: And is this -- you said this is the one person, is there a second person who's also come forward?

REINHARD: Yes, yes. There's another woman that we having on the record interview in our story this evening. She worked at another store. And --

COOPER: In the same mall?

REINHARD: In the same mall, yes. And she described how Roy Moore would come in frequently, ask her out. She would say no, he persisted. She finally complained to her manager at the time. And so, it's a scene that he was, you know constantly at the mall and asking girls out. Some of whom thought flattering and did go out with him, some of whom got very uncomfortable about it.

COOPER: Were you able to confirm with the person who is the manager at that time?

REINHARD: Unfortunately that manager has passed away.

COOPER: I see.

There also been reports -- I think the first one was in -- if I'm not wrong, in Alabama.com I believe and our correspondent Gary Tuchman talked to somebody who worked -- I think it was in a record store last night who remember there being questions raised about Roy Moore and being told to alert store security or mall security if Mr. Moore was seen in the mall. Have you heard anything more about that?

REINHARD: We have heard that but we -- within the story that we posted tonight is really --what we really substantiated on the record, which is, you know, we quote women who talk about being pursued by Roy Moore when they were teenagers. And then as much as we could, we collaborated their stories.

COOPER: And Beth, obviously the question that -- with some people ask is why, you know is it now that these women are coming forward. What did they say to that?

REINHARD: Well --

COOPER: Or what's your sense of that?

REINHARD: I would say the women that we talked to, for example this high school senior, you know, contacted the post after she saw the story that we wrote last week, which included account of a woman when she was 14, Roy Moore picked her up around the corner from her home and took her to his house and touched her (INAUDIBLE). So she read that story and she contacted the post and she said I want to tell you what happened to me. And she told us the story about how she had called her in her class and asked her to the movies.

COOPER: Beth Reinhard from Washington Post I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

I want to bring back in the panel. Amanda, I mean, you know, often -- you know, I think somebody on the show said last week, you know, this is early days that, these are the first reports coming out who knows what's going to happen over the next couple of weeks. And we're hearing more now report, at least more women coming forward saying something happened with them?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and this -- I mean, I think the people of Alabama has to take a look. I mean, these are their sisters, daughters, wife's, aunts coming out and saying this happened to me. And this isn't going to be an issue that is settled by "The Washington Post," or Mitch McConnell or somewhere else in Washington.

The people of Alabama have to decide this issue and the Republicans in Alabama in particularly. The governor of Alabama is a woman, her name is Kay Ivey. She is running for re-election in 2018. She got that appointment after Governor Bentley left office.

She is going to have the spotlight on her because she does have the tools to do something about this. She has not wanted to make any adjustments. She has said very recently that I will vote for Roy Moore. I have no reason not to. I think she needs to come under a lot more scrutiny because she had the power to delay an election. She has the power -- Luther Strange, he appoint someone else.

[20:40:06] The people of Alabama have to stand up because they will either lose this election and hand it to the -- the Republican in Alabama will hand a seat to a Democrats or they can say this is not a man that will represent our party and we're going to take action and change things. And I would be deeply disappointed if a female governor does not do something soon.

COOPER: Ed, I mean, does it creep you out at all the number of people just little on in this mall who have now come forward and said, oh yes, he used to troll around here? You know?

ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, look, when described, Anderson, behavior to me or that reporter described behavior to me, or when -- whatever the news that what magazine described Ted Kennedy and Senator Doug (ph) what they did to that waitress, it creeps me out. I have a daughter -- I've two daughters. It creeps me out.

But here's the question -- and again, I would add Beth Reinhard to the defamation suit and dispose her. The question is simply, in every political campaign when you do an opposition play, I'm not saying it's this but I'm saying when you do an opposition play, you go piece by piece. There no knockout blows. It's depth by a thousand cuts. And Roy Moore is being cut a thousand times.

And all I'm not saying -- I'm not saying these women aren't being truthful, I don't know, but the people of Alabama deserve to make the decision. And I want to know now whether "The Washington Post" had this information three months ago and wait it until after the primary and I'm -- look, this is all factors and we're not going to know before the election. And I think the people of Alabama get to decide who they want to represent them. Not -- by the way, this thing about Sessions coming in, they did polling. Sessions won't -- Wainwright. As Mark said it's not Mark's thing, his lawyer. It's more than politics.

That sessions' thing is a red hearing, the question is going to be these two guys, who is it going to be. And the people are going to decide, and I hope just like they did with Trump, when the country told them -- Anderson, I sat in the stop executive of one of the other networks and she told me, we never thought Trump could win after Billy Bush and anyone.

We don't know that the people want. The people on this show don't know but I can tell you they don't want "The Washington Post" telling them who is a good guy and who is bad guy. It's not going to work.

CARPENTER: But I just have to weigh in really quick. Throwing in the responsibility that Beth Reinhard and these other reporters are defaming people by doing their job? I agree with you, why Moore should file a lawsuit, certainly he has the legal expertise to do so given that he is straight supreme court justice and a D.A. as he allegedly reminds people. But for you to go through and say that Beth Reinhard are potentially defaming people, I think you should possibly be responsible for that too, unless you're willing to file a lawsuit perhaps maybe you should quit spitting those allegations.

MARTIN: No, what I'm saying is that, that's what a lawsuit. If Roy Moore is saying --

CARPENTER: Well, until someone actually puts their name on a complaint I think people should quite talking about suing the press because it's so easy to say --

MARTIN: OK, well then -- Amanda?

CARPENTER: I'm going to file lawsuit against the press, they never do, ask Donald Trump.

COOPER: All right, I mean, Ed I got to say --

MARTIN: Hey, Amanda. Wait a second, Anderson --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Donald Trump certainly has talked about suing people all the time and it doesn't actually end up suing people.

MARTIN: Anderson, you can't have Amanda say that Roy Moore doesn't get to depend himself until we file suit. CARPENTER: I said he should. Yes, file suit.

MARTIN: These women haven't file suit. If the statute isn't file suit --

CARPENTER: They don't have to --

MARTIN: Why?

CARPENTER: The statute of limitation is out the window if they happened 30 years ago. But Roy Moore is saying I'm going to file suits --

MARTIN: Could I bring that --

CARPENTER: --quite talking about and actually do given that he is such a --

COOPER: OK, Mark Geragos go ahead?

MARTIN: Go ahead, Mark.

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: I was just going to say, you know, the filing suit there -- there are some practical consequences. You know, that was kind of the approach that Bill Cosby took which is filing against his accusers. It's been kind of the approach that some of these other Hollywood types have taken where they're filing a suit against the accusers. That's generally not a great path to go down.

And I think ultimately at the end of the day, it's one of reasons the President is probably not weighing in. He's probably got his lawyer yelling at him just stay away from this, this is the last thing you want to do. You yourself have gotten exposure.

COOPER: We got to leave it there. I appreciate that -- David, quickly

GERGEN: We now like six or eight women who've come forward, how many people have Roy Moore come forward who worked at the mall, who said, yes we know -- he was perfectly, he was a gentleman and everything like that? He hasn't produced as best I can tell one single credible witness on his behalf and he has a responsibility to people to do that, he has a responsibility as a Republican to his party. He is not a man on his own. He is representing a party. And most people who do that have some sense of loyalty to the party.

COOPER: All right, we got to leave it there. Thank you.

I want to look at closer at Moore on ethical dimension here. Joining us now is Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Dr. Moore, it's always good to have you on. I'll start under these circumstances. So Roy Moore says this is a spiritual battle. Is this a spiritual battle in your opinion?

RUSSELL MOORE, PRESIDENT OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION: Well, I generally like it when use the language of spiritual warfare about their political ups and downs because I believe the spiritual warfare in real. I actually believe that there is such a thing spiritual warfare. And so I think we need to use that language where it's appropriate -- where it's appropriate in terms of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

[20:45:10] And that's really what concerns me here is people who are turning away from what they see as a cynical use of religion all across the country and then all across the political spectrum when that's not what Christianity is. Christianity is not about his up and his down in terms of political polling. Christianity is about the good news that God has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ.

COOPER: You know, we have heard people, supporters of Moore in Alabama saying -- you know, talking about biblical precedent about, you know, the age of men and women who were involved with each other in the bible. They've talked about sort of -- they've compared this to lawn mowers. When you hear some of the words, the comparisons that are being made as a man of faith, what do you think?

MOORE: Well, my blood pressure has been elevated in recent days with people suggested that even when such horrible things take place that it's equivalent to Mary and Joseph, no it's not. Or as I heard one person say on television I believe it was yesterday that this -- this would be a misdemeanor so it will be equivalent of stealing a lawn mower. That's the most horrifying sort of more relativism that I can imagine. Especially when we're living in a country where there are so many women and girls who are have their lives being crushed by powerful men who are using sexual advances and sexual assault against them. We need to have the moral clarity to come out and say sexual assault is always immoral and always wrong.

COOPER: Ed Stetzer, the Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism told worshippers this week that the proper Christian response from someone says, they've been hurt or abused is say I believe you and show mercy. Do you agree with that?

MOORE: Well, yes, I think that one thing I have heard in recent days is from a lot of evangelical women who are coming forward talking about their own experiences. In many cases there are women who believe that they won't be received, that they won't be believed if they come forward and say I've had this happen to me when it's somebody who has relative power within whatever community that is.

The church needs to be very clear in saying that we're not about who has the most power, that we're beginning to administer to and care for vulnerable women and girls. And many, many conservative evangelical churches are doing that right now. Some of the best ministries that I see to hurting women who have been through sexual violence or in gospel Christian evangelical churches, and so I think we need to make that very clear. And that means also from the very beginning pastors and leaders standing up and talk to people of congregation saying we will be here for you if you experienced that sort of hurt. That's what just Jesus has called us today.

COOPER: All right, Dr. Russell Moore. I appreciate your time. Thank you. MOORE: Thank you, Anderson.

Coming up next, the senate GOP tax reform plan, now includes a partial repeal of Obamacare, the latest from Capitol Hill why Republican aids say they feel good about the bill chances. Plus, we'll here what Senator Bernie Sanders thinks. He joins me ahead.

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[20:50:31] COOPER: Congressional Republicans tax reform plans from moving ahead at a steady clip, and now there's a big added element that has the potential to complicate thing, this Senate GOP version include a partial Obamacare repeal. Phil Mattingly joins us now from Capitol Hill with that latest. How confident are Senate Republicans they can actually get this bill through?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. One senior GOP aide told -- look, compared to where we were in health care, we're in a great place, that same aide that acknowledges that it's a pretty low bar and frankly they've added health care into this. That's really complicates things and that's for people like Senator Susan Collins who has concerns about the addition of the repeal of the individual mandate. Those are people like Bob Corker, Jeff Flake who are concerns about the deficit implications of this.

And then you also have a firm no vote at least at this point. Senator Ron Johnson coming out tonight not with concerns about the individual mandate but concerns about so called pass-through entities. Basically entities that pay taxes on the individual side of things saying what the Senate and House bill do -- doesn't go far enough for him to try and his wage is concern.

All this really underscores, Anderson, is that that is policy thick and one that is still going to be very conflicted even though Republicans are moving very well, even thought they believe they're on a good track right now. There are a lot of potential road blocks ahead, a lot of things bubbling under the service.

I will know, President Trump called Senator Johnson shortly after his opposition became known and tried to make clear they that will try and find out a way to get him "yes." The White House is engage here. Republican leadership is engage here, the question remain can they get it cross the finish line.

COOPER: Republican said, the bill would benefit the middle class, is that in fact the case? And I mean do we know.

MATTINGLY: At least for the Senate proposal, we don't and that's because they've been moving so quickly. They just introduced their latest a proposal last night around 10:45 p.m. and good, bad time reading, I will note. And they don't have the distribution tables that essentially say what this will actually do. But we do have a sense of the places where it would help people and the places where it might not.

Obviously, there's an expansion of the child tax credit. That's a big deal. There are red cuts on the individual side, particularly targeted to middle income individuals but all of the individual side tax cuts and provisions would sunset, would expire altogether in 2025. That would be problematic particularly -- and Democrats are certainly playing to this, when you look at what's happening on the cooperate side. They slash corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. That's made permanent. Other corporate side also made permanent as well.

And you also have to factor in, which I've heard from Susan Collins, obviously still on the fence on this right now, the idea that repealing the individual mandate, the CBO projects over the course of 10 years, each year they would raise premiums on average by 10 percent. For an individual who is getting -- or family who is getting a tax cut and then is facing premiums hikes, that might cancels everything out. So those are all the dynamics at play right now.

We're still waiting to the final distributional tables that get a real sense of what the Senate bill will do. No question about it, the answer to that question, who this will actually help, will it help the middle class? That might dictate whether this bill has a future. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, thanks.

I spoke earlier with Senator Bernie Sanders for his take on the tax plan. Here's that conversation.

COOPER: Senator Sanders were you -- first of all, surprised to see the repeal of the mandate as part of the tax bill? And obviously I know you're against it, I'm wondering why do you think it's a bad idea?

BERNIE SANDERS (I), SENATOR, VERMONT: Well, it's a bad idea, Anderson, because it's going to throw 13 million Americans off their health insurance they currently have, including about six million people on Medicaid. It's going to raise premiums by about 10 percent for ordinary Americans. It's going to be devastatingly harmful to rural hospitals all over American.

And on top of all that, the reasons Republicans are doing that is in order to give huge tax breaks to corporations and make them permanent.

You know, Anderson, what this whole business is about, you've heard me talk about this for a long time, is the power that big money has in American politics as a result of our corrupt campaign finance system. Gary Cohn the other day, the President's Chief Economic Adviser said, the people most excited about this legislation are the CEOs of large cooperation. And I got to admit, he is absolutely right.

Billionaires and millionaires have bought hundreds of millions of dollars into the political process, supporting Republican candidates, and today is pay-back time for them. Huge tax breaks for the rich, huge tax breaks for multinational corporations. And meanwhile, at the end of 10 years, tens of millions of American families in the middle class are going to be paying for more taxes. Terrible proposal, but it's paid for by the billionaire class who control the political process.

COOPER: I want to play something that your colleague Senator James Lankford said to explain his support a bit about why they think to repeal is a good idea. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[20:55:03] JAMES LANKFORD (R), SENATOR, OKLAHOMA: You have pretty strong agreement among Republicans that we don't like the individual mandate. And the reason is it's a tax cut directly on people who can afford it to least and my state in Oklahoma 81 percent of the people that pay the individual mandate tax make less than $50,000 a year. So this is a tax that was intended to push people to be able to buy the product, but it's actually landed on people that can afford it to least. So we're trying to repeal it. It doesn't take away the subsidies. Individuals can still get on it. They can still get full subsidies, all those things change but we remove the tax penalty for people that actually can't actually afford it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Does the mandate hit of course American as a tax?

SANDERS: It is not the best way to bring people into health care. The best way, of course, is a medicare for all single-payer system, which guarantees health care to all people and it is funded based on ability to pay. But what Mr. Lankford is saying is, OK, these 13 million people or whatever will no longer have health insurance.

And Anderson, you tell me what happens when that person today earning $40,000 a year gets hit by a bus or finds out that she has leukemia. How they're going to pay for the health care they need, they not? You know, who's going to pay for it? Ordinary Americans who have health insurance. What Mr. Lankford and the Republicans are trying to do is significantly undermine the Affordable Care Act by closing off, cutting back on hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue now coming in. That is a backdoor way to try to destroy the Affordable Care Act.

What's the solution in terms of health care? We should do what every other major country on earth does, guarantee health care to all people as a right and end the absurdity of the United States paying twice as much for capital on health care as do the people of any other nation. That is certainly not an idea that the Republicans would accept for one moment.

COOPER: I mean, you've taken issue as many Democrats have with the fact that the tax cuts are permanent in the bill while the individual cuts expire in 2025. I mean, couldn't a permanent tax cut encourage businesses to grow in the U.S.? I mean that's obviously --

SANDERS: Well, that's a funny thing. Funny that you ask that question, the answer is all of this is based, number one, on the so- called trickle-down economic theory, that is if you give huge tax breaks, to profitable corporations and to the rich, somehow that money is going to end up creating jobs and improving our economy. The truth is that the times we have done it under Reagan and under Bush too with very large tax breaks have gone to the wealthy have not resulted and not brought about those results. In fact, in both instances have seen the deficit rise very -- go up very substantially.

Trickle down economics in my view is a fraudulent theory. It does not work and it only benefits the wealthy.

COOPER: Finally, I just want to ask about Roy Moore, if he were to win, should he -- an accused sexual abuse or be allowed to serve in the U.S. Senate? The Majority Leader McConnell allows him to take a seat?

SANDERS: Look, frankly, I think Mr. Jones is going to be win that election and will cross that bridge when we have to. But right now I have a strong feeling that the people of Alabama will do the right thing and elect Mr. Jones.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, appreciate your time always, thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, the breaking news on Roy Moore, "The Washington Post" reporting tonight, the two more women who have accused Mr. Moore of unwanted overtures at an Alabama mall decades ago. This comes as Moor's attorney raises questions about one of his accusers.

And President Trump doesn't answer questions about how he views the allegations against the U.S. Senate candidate and whether he should step down from the race. All that ahead.

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