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AT THIS HOUR
Trump: I Should Have Left UCLA Players In China Jail; Mueller Nears Interviews With Senior White House Aides; Kushner's Attorney: Senate Panel Is Playing "Gotcha Games"; Senate Panel: Kushner Did Not Disclose Key Documents; Roy Moore Accuser Gives First TV Interview. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired November 20, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. I'm sitting in for Kate this week.
We begin with President Trump, up before the sun, already lashing out, the latest Twitter storm targeting everyone from an NFL player to rival Republicans, to even big game hunting, but square in the president's own crosshairs, his never-ending feud with athletes.
Check out this morning's tweet, "Marshawn Lynch of the NFL's Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican anthem and sits down to boos for our national anthem. Great disrespect. Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down."
The president also took a swipe at those UCLA basketball players who were held in China on shoplifting charges. The president saying, "I should have left them in jail." After the father of one of the players downplayed the president's role in freeing them.
In a week when the nation gives thanks, the president apparently believes he's not quite getting enough. We could see him any moment now when he sits down with his cabinet members in Washington. We'll take it live as soon as that happens.
But first we begin with Abby Phillip at the White House. So, Abby, we ran through a couple of those tweets. I know the Hill is off for the week, but taxes are front and centers. What do the president's tweets in the last 24 hours tell you?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, it's already been a pretty turbulent morning for him and we haven't even heard from him yet. This tweet fight with LaVar Ball, the father of one of these three UCLA players stems from the fact that Ball a couple of days ago essentially downplayed President Trump's role in freeing his son and two other players from a potential ten-year prison sentence in China.
Now the president did play a role, according to our sources, by speaking directly with the Chinese President Xi Jinping about the incident and shortly after that, the players were sent home back to Washington.
But Trump here already pretty upset about the way in which he's not been given enough credit. He's also been going after other folks on social media, including a Republican senator, all of this happens while the White House, as you mentioned, is trying to push Congress to pass taxes.
And we heard a little bit yesterday from a senior White House official, the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, about this essential question, the individual mandate and whether the White House wants it in the tax bill where currently is in the Senate. Here's what Mick Mulvaney had to say about that yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: I don't think anybody doubts where the White House is on repealing and replacing Obamacare. We absolutely want to do it. If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that's still a good tax bill that can pass, that's great. If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, we're OK with taking it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So, that would be a pretty crucial position for some of the Republicans still on the fence about this bill. People like Susan Collins, who have concerns about the individual mandate repeal.
At the same time, the president, as I mentioned earlier, going after Republican Arizona senator, Jeff Alake on Twitter last night, essentially saying that Flake was not going to support the tax bill, because his political career was, quote, "toast." Flake's office saying that the senator has not made a decision about where he stands on that bill -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: I was going to say, is the assumption that Flake would be a no even accurate. We'll get into that and talk taxes here with my panel in a second. Abby, thank you so much, at the White House.
There's a lot to get to. Let me bring in two voices, CNN political reporter, Rebecca Berg, and CNN political director, David Chalian. Good to see both of you.
David Chalian, starting with you. You know, first of all, you have a sitting president, who is arguing that perhaps he should have let those three UCLA basketball players languish in a foreign jail. We all know this wasn't the first time he tweeted about athletes. First, what does it tell about where the president's head is this week?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Think about what you just said, Brooke, as you were describing what occurred. It's exactly the reaction I had when I read the tweet. I said this is a tweet from the president of the United States of America, who is talking about leaving Americans in a foreign jail.
I -- it's mind-boggling at one point, the shake your head, like, wow, this is a president who cannot get beyond his perceived grievances at any point for any matter whatsoever, that supersedes all else.
That's not how we normally see a president behave, right? It's something we sort of have gotten used to over the course of last year, so at times I look at it and think, this kind of fits what we know about Donald Trump's behavioral patterns --
BALDWIN: Got used to doesn't make it right.
CHALIAN: Exactly my point.
[11:05:05] BALDWIN: I got you, Chalian. So, Rebecca, we heard from Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. Let me just read his tweet blasting the president. He wrote, "The president would left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn't lavish sufficient praise on him. How can someone in such a big office be so small?"
All right. So, you have that thought, right? Then you have the tweet on Marshawn Lynch not standing for the U.S. anthem but standing for the Mexican anthem. Isn't this about culture? To David Chalian's point, is this really ultimately about someone who needs to be thanked a lot?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, absolutely, Brooke. This has been a feature of Donald Trump for, as long as he's been president, even before he was president. He is someone who does feel like he doesn't get oftentimes the credit that he deserves for the job he is doing.
That's part of the reason that we have seen the criticism of the media from him that we have, but also for these sort of public feuds, where he believes he's not been thanked by private citizens for doing his job as president as well.
It really sets up Democrats as reflected by that Adam Schiff tweet for a sort of tee-ball hit. I mean, the ball is just sitting there for them to smack politically speaking. It's such an easy line of attack on the president to say that he is acting very small, and it actually trends in line with some of the polling we have seen about President Trump.
There was a "The Washington Post"/ABC News poll over the summer that showed 70 percent of the people at that time felt that he was acting unpresidential in his office. It might be even more now, but clearly a problem for the president that people feel he isn't living up to this office that he's in now.
BALDWIN: You know, still I go back to yet again some Republicans, ardent Trump supporters saying this the guy we wanted, and nobody should be surprised, because he's acting exactly how we expected him to. Let's get to the Jeff Flake tweet, or flaky tweet, which is how the president wrote about it. He took a shot at this Arizona Republican, who listen, no secret he's been incredibly critical. We know about his book regarding the president.
So, he was caught on this hot mic saying that the Republican Party is toast if it becomes the party of the Trump and Roy Moore. This is what the president tweeted about Flake, quote, "A no on tax cuts because his political career anyway is toast."
So, there's a lot you can pick apart, and Chris Cilizza did in a great CNN write, but let's get to the no piece, David. Because, you know, with the vote margin so narrow in the Senate on taxes, why even assume that Jeff Flake is a no. Why not fight for a yes?
CHALIAN: Donald Trump can't see Jeff Flake as anything other than an enemy at this point, right? You mentioned his book, he's totally critical of him. Jeff Flake is just on the opponents' list in Donald Trump's mind.
And so even though it's a vote he needs and one that he has to court, he's immediately in a position when he hears Flake going out again with negative assessment of Trump's impact on the party, on the country, to just put him in opposition camp.
What is intriguing is that it is not at all clear that Jeff Flake is a no vote at all. I mean, philosophically, Jeff Flake has been a supporter of tax cuts and tax reform for quite some time. So, it's not unthinkable in the slightest that Jeff Flake could be a yes vote for this bill.
BALDWIN: Rebecca, how do you see it? Last thought here.
BERG: Absolutely. This is the president letting a personal beef get in the way of clear vision on this. Jeff Flake, even though he is not happy with the way President Trump has acted in office and his rhetoric in office, he votes with the president most of the time.
I agree with David on this, there's no reason to believe that he would be a no vote on this. This is exactly what Republicans don't want President Trump to be doing, which is when he's tweeting about tax reform, only tweeting about things that could potentially call this bill to unravel.
BOLDUAN: Just because there was shade thrown does not necessarily mean a no from this particular Republican. Rebecca and David, thank you so much.
Let's get you now to Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation, they're getting closer and closer to interviewing senior White House officials. All has been considerable time in the inner circle of the president and his family and they include White House communications director, Hope Hicks, White House counsel, Don McGahn, and Josh Raffel, a communications aide to White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
So, let's go straight to Shimon Prokupecz, our CNN crime and justice reporter. Shimon, what are you learning?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: That's exactly right, Brooke. Some of the closest aides to the president are now expected to be interviewed by the special counsel team. Particular attention is being paid to the Air Force One meeting which Hope Hicks and Jared Kushner were present for and also (inaudible), who was an aide to Kushner.
[11:10:02] Now this meeting on Air Force One involved crafting of a misleading statement ultimately about the president's son, Don Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer, who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.
That meeting at Trump Tower during the campaign and a statement that was crafted on Air Force One that Hope Hicks was present for, Jared Kushner and other aides, is not part of the special counsel's investigations.
And Hope Hicks, as you say is close to the president, and a witness to a lot of the actions that the special counsel is now investigating. Kushner has that issue on Air Force One, but also his failure to disclose Russian contacts, the Comey firing, and other communications with Russians that are part of what Congress and Mueller is looking into.
BALDWIN: On Kushner, your colleague, Evan Perez sat down with his attorney. She's clearly taken swipes at the Senate Judiciary Committee, essentially saying she thinks it's a gotcha issue.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's exactly right. That was Jared Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, who yesterday spoke with Evan Perez and he's taking issue with the senators after they sent a public letter, which was ultimately released to the media, accusing Kushner of not being forthcoming in providing documents and e-mails about Russian backdoor meetings and contacts with Wikileaks.
Kushner's lawyer is fighting back, saying the senators are playing gotcha games, because the e-mails senators are talking about did not involve his communications with Russians or Wikileaks. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABBE LOWELL, ATTORNEY FOR JARED KUSHNER: In my communications with the Senate Judiciary Committee, I said take these documents and let's talk about what else is relevant. They jumped the gun to make it (inaudible) and any perception that Mr. Kushner has been anything but not only cooperative.
But if you look at the contents of these e-mails, he's the hero. He's the one who is saying there shouldn't be any contacts with foreign officials or foreign entities. That's what the Senate Judiciary Committee should pay attention to and not create some sort of partisan gotcha game.
(END VIDEO CLIP) PROKUPECZ: So that's the big issue for the attorney, saying they're playing games. His attorney says Kushner is cooperating, and now the big issue will be whether or not Mueller will look to interview, Mueller, the special counsel, will look to interview Kushner -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: All right. Shimon, thank you so much on that.
I have CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa here with me. She is a former FBI special agent. You just heard the sound from Jared Kushner's attorney. Do you think his lawyer has a point that this is just a gotcha game or is Kushner in big, big trouble?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Kushner is not in trouble yet, but he is doing a pretty good job digging a hole for himself. Look, his lawyer's job is to minimize exposure of his client, in this case Jared Kushner, and to make sure that he looks in the best light possible, but the problem is that his client has a credibility problem.
If we were looking at this in a vacuum, maybe we could take Abbe Lowell's words at face value, but this is a person who has had to fill out his background check form three times to fully disclose all of his Russian contacts.
He's been getting e-mails that have Russia in the subject line multiple times. So I think that the congressional committees have a fair point that he may not be forth coming, and given that he's looking for a security clearance.
And working in the White House, I think that Kushner needs to be proactive in giving up information on everything that he can possibly remember with regard to Russia that he received during his time working on the campaign.
BOLDUAN: You make a great point about there's a theme with the whole haven't quite revealed everything that's either requested of him or even to get that clearance, when he still hasn't totally received. It brings me back to the Jeff Sessions hearings last week.
I go back because of the theme there of "I don't recall." How much of this "I don't recall" or "I'm not revealing" will people give them the benefit of the doubt or at what point are there actual consequences for this?
RANGAPPA: That's right, Brooke. So, when you just look at the sheer number of contacts between Russia and various members of this campaign, not just one, and the fact that they all seem to not remember anything.
We know that at least one of them George Papadopoulos has not actually lied about the contacts, strains credulity that this would be something that would naturally happen. I mean, there are characters now associated with the Trump campaign than in "war and peace."
[11:15:05] So, at this point, we need to get -- it's true and we need to get to the bottom of it and I will there will be consequences because all of these congressional testimonies, you know, Congress has some limited power to hold people in contempt if they're not being forth coming.
But Mueller has access to all of these e-mails that are showing who knew what when. All of these statements that these people are making to Congress can be prosecuted if they are intentionally false. Any statements they make to Mueller can be prosecuted for false statements. So, these people are working -- they are playing with fire.
BALDWIN: It's a great point, too, about Papadopoulos, right. It's a great point. Asha, thank you so much for coming in today.
RANGAPPA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Moving on, the man in charge of the U.S. nuclear arsenal drawing a stunning line in the sand on a potential strike order, saying that he would push back against the commander-in-chief if he felt the order was illegal, making us wonder why is he saying this now? What makes an order from the president actually illegal? Details ahead.
Also, the woman who told "The Washington Post" that Roy Moore molested her when she was all of 14 years of age, speaking out publicly for the first time. She explains in detail how Roy Moore attacked her. She has something to say to those claiming that she is profiting off her story. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The first woman to go public with her accusations against Alabama's Senate Candidate Roy Moore has given a televised interview to finally share her story.
Leigh Corfman first told her story about the encounters with Moore to "The Washington Post." This morning she described what she says happened to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEIGH CORFMAN, ACCUSES ROY MOORE OF SEXUAL ABUSE: I wouldn't exactly call it a date. I would say it was a meet. At 14, I was not dating. At 14, I was not able to make those kind of choices. I met him around the corner from my house. My mother did not know. He took me to his home.
After arriving at his home, on the second occasion that I went with him he basically laid out some blankets on the floor of his living room and proceeded to seduce me, I guess you would say.
During the course of that, he removed my clothing, he left the room and came back in wearing his white underwear, and he touched me over my clothing, what was left of it, and he tried to get me to touch him as well.
And at that point, I pulled back and said that I was not comfortable, and I got dressed, and he took me home. But I was a 14-year-old child trying to play in an adult world and he was 35 years old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Meantime, Roy Moore has been defiant denying all of these allegations. Corfman gave a powerful response to those denials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roy Moore denies these allegations and further says he does not even know you.
CORFMAN: I wonder how many me's he doesn't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I wonder how many mes he doesn't know. Kaitlan Collins is live for us in Gadsden, Alabama. Savannah was asking about politics. She was saying, you know, she has voted Republican her whole life, but to her this is not about politics.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Brooke, quite a striking interview from Leigh Corfman this morning on the "Today" show. As you know, she's the woman who really opened the floodgates of accusations against Roy Moore because she was the first woman to come forward with a story of her encounter with Roy Moore when she was just 14 years old.
Now, the Roy Moore campaign has denied all of these allegations saying that they are not true. Roy Moore has said he believes this is a conspiracy on behalf of the media, and establishment Republicans in an attempt to derail his campaign, but this morning Leigh Corfman says she's not profited or been paid to make these accusations against Roy Moore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORFMAN: Absolutely not. If anything, this has cost me. I've had to take leave from my job. I have no tickets to Tahiti, and my bank account has not flourished. If anything, it's gone down because currently I'm not working.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Now Corfman said she considered confronting Moore over this years ago, but she chose not to in order to protect her young children. Asked why she came forward now after decades of silence, she said that it wasn't her idea to come forward, but "The Washington Post" approached her.
And she told them the one condition she would go on the record with her story of her encounter with Roy Moore was if they found other women who had similar stories about Moore. Once they did, Brooke, that's when she made the decision to come forward with her story.
BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you.
Joining me now to talk about whether any of this would affect the race whatsoever in a couple of weeks between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones is David Mowery, chairman of the Mowery Consulting Group. He is a political and public affairs correspondent based in Alabama. So, David, nice to see you.
DAVID MOWERY, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONSULTANT: Good to see you too, Brooke. Thanks.
BALDWIN: All right. So, you know, Leigh Corfman says she wasn't at all paid despite what some folks in Alabama are trying to put out there. You know, again, she's voted Republican, but this isn't about politics. Will any of that matter one iota to Roy Moore's supporters there in Alabama?
[11:25:10] MOWERY: I don't know if that matters, but I do think that her talking directly to the camera, and her being very emphatic and empathetic about, you know, her story and the way that she was taken advantage of, I think that putting a face to a name and words out of her own mouth are definitely powerful to something that could just be seen as a rehash of a news story that came out last week. I thought it was pretty powerful testimony.
BALDWIN: So, you think it might change minds?
MOWERY: Well, I don't know about this specifically, but in the aggregate, I think that it does change minds. I don't know that people necessarily -- her saying that she's voted Republican, her saying she's not profited, those are good check marks in the box. But in the end, I think that it's the totality of the allegations that will have an effect if it -- if anything hasn't been affected, it will be that, the totality --
BALDWIN: OK. Let's talk about this group of Evangelical pastors who really have been emphatic. You know, you understand Alabamians, why do you think ideology seems to be Trumping personal transgressions for these religious leaders?
MOWERY: Well, I think Roy Moore has a champion for them for years. He's somebody they have fought alongside, as he's been elected to and then thrown off the Supreme Court twice, and now, you know, they feel like they're invested in him. You know, it's sort of like, are you going to dump something that you fought for, something that you fought with over something that apparently happened 40 years ago, and he says isn't true?
It's just typical politics as usual. People retreat to their tribes, to their corners, and they fight it out. That's why it's such tough sledding for the Jones campaign.
BOLDUAN: Sure. Just last question, we know that the White House Legislative Affaird Director Mark Short said this yesterday, "If Trump didn't believe that the women's accusations were credible, he would be down campaigning for Roy Moore. He has not done that. He has concerns about the accusations, but he's also concerned that the accusations are 38 years old.
Do we know, David, if President Trump ever had plans to campaign for Roy Moore in Alabama? Do you even think the president's presence would help him?
MOWERY: Well, he did say that if Roy Moore won the run off that he would definitely come down and campaign for him. He thought that he was a good guy and a good candidate. So, I think if we can take him at his word on Twitter, I think he had plans to if he needed it.
But, you know, the thing that I would say about those comments, if I was the Jones campaign, I would be putting that on tv, talking about Roy Moore has abandoned by his allies and abandoned by President Trump, who is supposed to be the working man and the average person's champion right now.
BALDWIN: Well, we still have a couple weeks before that special election. We'll tune in to see if that pops up in the ads. David Mowery, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate you.
If you thought the war of words between President Trump and Hillary Clinton was over, think again. Instead, it seems to be getting worse. The former campaign foe is trading new and especially brutal barbs, but the big question -- because the election was over a year ago -- why?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out. There was another somebody told me tweet today. Honestly, between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done?
(END VIDEO CLIP)