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Senators to Resume Debate on GOP Tax Bill; Matt Lauer Speaks Out After Being Fired; White House May Replace Rex Tillerson With Mike Pompeo; Man Who Shut Down Trump's Twitter Account Says It was a Mistake; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 30, 2017 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:35:01] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Julie, they seem to be willing to separate the two. Chris Stewart, I had -- congressman from Utah on before who really says he doesn't like the president's tweets at all but he really is willing to compartmentalize.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, listen, I mean, there's nothing more important for Republicans right now than to get this tax cut through, to get it signed into law, to have something to show for their first year of having a Republican president, Republicans in control of the -- the Senate, Republicans in control of the House.

They have really nothing legislatively to show for that yet. They really need to get this through. And so I think that they're in a mode right now of trying to hold everything else at bay, trying to ignore all the other noise from the president, from the White House, from Democrats, and just get this thing across the finish line.

BERMAN: Right.

DAVIS: But there's no question that when you talk to Republicans privately on Capitol Hill, they are alarmed by this behavior and they are worried that it actually is going to undermine that goal of getting this thing through and then of getting a year-end budget deal and then it's going to hurt them. So I don't necessarily think it's the case that you can just write this off as the president's venting and nobody really cares.

This could actually affect his agenda and that's the big worry of Republicans. You don't hear them saying that publicly, but certainly it's a worry for them privately and they're right to worry about it.

BERMAN: Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Paul Begala, Jason Miller, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right. A day after he was fired, Matt Lauer is apologizing to those he hurt. The new statement from the former "Today" show anchor as the list of accusers is growing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:36:01] BERMAN: A new statement from Matt Lauer and new accusers against the fired "Today" show anchor.

I'm joined now by CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, as well as Chloe Melas, CNN entertainment reporter.

Brian, first to you, the statement from Matt Lauer, we did not hear from him just after he was fired, now we have.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And he says he is truly sorry. Here's a part of what he's saying in the statement that was announced at 7:00 a.m. this morning. He says, "Words? There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by my words and actions. To the people I have hurt I am truly sorry. As I'm writing this, I realized the depth of the damage and disappointment that I have left behind at home and at NBC."

Now Lauer went on to say, "Some of what's being said about me is untrue and mischaracterized but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed."

BERMAN: Now a lot of what was said and happened over the last 24 hours has had to do with "The New York Times" investigation into Matt Lauer. There's also a "Variety" report out today, Chloe. What's "Variety" reporting?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: You know, "Variety" has been working on -- I know the two writers, Ramin and Elizabeth, who wrote the "Variety" story, and they have been working on it for two months, as Brian also knows, and in there, they spoke to several people who claim that Matt Lauer acted allegedly indecently and, you know, they detail all of that, but I spoke to them just moments ago and they told me that they are still speaking to more women that have come forward to them. They're working on another story and vetting those as we speak. So unfortunately, I do not think that those are the only allegations against Matt Lauer.

STELTER: But I think it's telling that two women contacted NBC yesterday after Lauer was fired to bring new charges.

BERMAN: And tell me about one of those stories, "The New York Times," did put this one out -- Brian.

STELTER: I think the most disturbing account in "The New York Times" is this 2001 incident where a woman alleges she was summoned to Lauer's office where then he proceeded to have sex with her -- undressed her and had sex with her, and at one point she passed out, had to be helped by a nurse. So she left the company a year later. Never told management about what happened. She said she felt ashamed and did not want to come forward. In this current climate, this current national tipping point, she felt she could not speak.

BERMAN: Talking about this current climate, Chloe, we have breaking news to report just moments ago. Russell Simmons has stepped down from his various organizations. MELAS: Yes. So Russell Simmons has just released a lengthy statement

saying that he is stepping down from his various companies after he has been accused of sexual assault and harassment. A screenwriter by the name of Jenny Lumet has just detailed an encounter that she alleges took place in 1991 where she claims that Simmons forced her to have sex with him.

Now he says, Simmons, in his statement that he just gave to CNN, that he remembers the night very differently, but that he apologizes to Jenny and that he doesn't want to be a distraction to all of the companies that he has built so he is stepping down.

Remember he has Rush Communications. He also has -- was the co- founder of Def Jam, he has various apparel lines. So there are a lot of people that work for him, that he's employing some other people now to take his place.

BERMAN: Chloe Melas, Brian Stelter, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

A lot of news today on that front. There's major news developing on another front as well. We are getting word that the secretary of State's days may be numbered. We'll have the latest on those new developments coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:43:31] BERMAN: It's a pretty major breaking news right now. A shakeup in the works at the State Department.

Jeremy Diamond live in Washington for us with the details. An actual plan it seems, Jeremy, for the removal of Rex Tillerson.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. Well, the White House is at least contemplating this possible scenario which would be replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. That's according to multiple government officials who have spoken with me and my colleagues here at CNN in Washington.

The vacancy at the CIA would likely be filled by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who's of course a hawkish Republican on Capitol Hill, who has also grown increasingly close with the president.

This, of course, would make a major difference in U.S. diplomacy. Of course we know the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, there's been a lot of friction in his relationship with the president and at the same time as that friction has increased, CIA Director Mike Pompeo's relationship with the president has actually gotten better.

Mike Pompeo actually briefs the president rather, at least three or four times a week in person, and one White House official told me that they actually spend more time after those briefings speaking together, or sometimes privately, one on one. So, of course, this would -- we are not sure when this move would actually take place yet, but it's expected to happen over the next couple of months. Again, this is a leading scenario and Mike Pompeo is the leading

candidate to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson but no firm plan has yet been in place or is ready to be executed -- John.

[10:45:03] BERMAN: No, and Rex Tillerson had always said he thought he would serve about a year, we're not too far away from that date.

But the news here, Jeremy, really seems to be, this scenario that is being openly discussed by key figures inside the West Wing, correct?

DIAMOND: Exactly. That's right, John.

BERMAN: And including John Kelly, the chief of staff, his role in this?

DIAMOND: Yes. Well, we are not entirely clear on that yet, but "The New York Times" did report this morning that this is a plan that has been put in place by the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, but again, there is no clear date as far as when this would happen, but officials that we've spoken to expect that this would happen within the next couple of months -- John.

BERMAN: And don't forget, I believe the secretary of state is the senior government official who has not denied calling the president a moron, which probably creates some of the friction that may exist here. We need a statement from the State Department. We'll try to get in touch with our people there shortly.

Jeremy Diamond, our thanks to you for this.

All right. We also have some interesting news, first on CNN, you will remember when President Trump's Twitter account was taken down from nearly 11 minutes earlier this month. Now the man responsible is speaking out for the first time.

It was CNN's tech correspondent Laurie Segall who spoke to him. She joins me now.

There was this notion this was a man behaving with some kind of political intent trying to send some kind of a message on his way out the door but the truth is?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: What he's saying is that was actually not so. He said it was a mistake and he said to me in an interview, he said, "I did this, I confess, but I wasn't looking to do something bad, I wasn't planning on it." And he talks about how this account came in front of him because he's part of a group of people who looked at flagged accounts.

Someone flagged Donald Trump's Twitter account, came in front of him, he put the wheels into motion. He said I never thought, though, that I could have the power to take it down. I never thought it would happen. And he said, "Even if it was on purpose it shouldn't have taken place because of internal regulations at the company. It's not my responsibility." And funny enough, John, he didn't even realize that the account had

been take down until he saw news media reports that said a rogue employee on his last day took it down. He thought, well, I was the only one, it was my last day. And for all those people who thought he was -- who wanted to see Trump's Twitter account taken down, who thought he was a hero, I have to inform you that he actually likes -- he told me he likes Trump, he thinks Trump is a charismatic, a good leader, but he thinks he needs to learn a little bit as a politician.

The larger story here is the fact that this could actually happen. He said he had a headache and it was a bad day and he was having one of those days and that's what happened. The fact that a contractor was able to do that is a big issue for Twitter.

BERMAN: That is a serious security issue that someone was able to do that.

SEGALL: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Given what we are seeing right now, the impact of some of the things that the president writes on Twitter.

Laurie Segall, great to have you with us. Thanks so much for that story.

SEGALL: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. You want to check out Laurie's special report, "DIVIDED WE CODE." Laurie takes a closer look at tech companies and explores whether they have too much power, like, saying, taking the president's Twitter down for 11 minutes. It all starts Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Eastern right there on CNN.

BERMAN: All right. After weeks of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, the NFL has a multimillion-dollar plan to fund social causes important to players. "Bleacher Report" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:52:49] BERMAN: The NFL is pledging nearly $100 million to social justice causes that are important to its players.

Andy Scholes, with more on the "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, how's it going, John? The NFL and a group of players, they came together on a plan to address social justice issues considered important to African-American communities.

This "Bleacher Report" is presented by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

Now the agreement that they came to does not include language calling for the players to end their national anthem protest, but the league hopes that this effort will help end the controversial movement. That's according to ESPN. Now the deal calls for the NFL to contribute $89 million over seven

years to projects dealing with criminal justice reform, community relations and education, but not all players are on board for this agreement.

Russell Okung is one of them. He was on the coalition of players who negotiated this deal but he left the group because he didn't think enough was being done. Okung posted on Twitter about it, it read in part, "The NFL continues a disingenuous approach to player grievances, refusing to match the urgency of this moment. Their proposal is woefully inadequate."

All right. All eyes on the sports world are going to be on the Bahamas today as Tiger Woods makes his latest comeback. He was fine tuning his game yesterday following a 10-month layoff due to his fourth back surgery since 2014. Tiger is going to tee off in the Hero World Challenge just after noon. He's going to be paired with PGA champ winner Justin Thomas today.

So what is he most looking forward to?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: Competing again. It's been a very long time. And really looking forward to getting out there and playing with Justin and having a good time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right. Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin and Tennessee, they've had a strained relationship since Kiffin left the school for USC after coaching just one season back in 2009. Well, yesterday, Kiffin went on social media to take a shot at his old school's search for a new head coach. He tweeted a picture captioned, "Breaking news, Kim Jong-un has turned down the Tennessee job."

The trolling comes after the volunteers have been turned down by multiple people for their head coaching position, and John, it's kind of become a running joke that no one will take the Tennessee head coaching job which generally is considered, you know, one of the better jobs in college football.

[10:55:08] BERMAN: Who do you like this weekend, Georgia-Auburn?

SCHOLES: I'll go with the Dogs. Georgia.

BERMAN: Nicely done. That's the right answer.

SCHOLES: Since I'm here in Atlanta.

BERMAN: That's the right answer. Andy Scholes, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right, John.

BERMAN: All right. We do have breaking news. It has to do with the current secretary of state Rex Tillerson. How long will he hold that job? News that the White House developing a plan to push him out. New developments ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We begin this hour with what could be a major shakeup coming for the Trump administration.