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Former Trump Bodyguard Testifies about Dossier; Moore Accused of Sexual Contact with Teenage Girls; Possible Trump-Putin Meeting in Vietnam. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired November 10, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:11] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Live from Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
And ahead this hour:
A possible reunion for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, coming just hours after the latest twist in the Russia investigation.
Plus a flamboyant and starched conservative politician has been accused of what -- having sexual contact with teenage girls. Why this case could impact the balance of power in the United States Senate.
And the latest bombshell and the sex scandal rocking Hollywood -- comedian Louie C.K. is the latest entertainer accused of bad behavior.
Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us.
I'm Natalie Allen. And CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
Our top story: U.S. President Donald Trump is due to arrive in Vietnam within the hour for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. We'll bring that to you live when it happens.
Meanwhile though new details emerging from investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The man who used to be the President's bodyguard, seen here, has testified on some aspects of a dossier about Mr. Trump before he became president, specifically what allegedly happened during a 2013 trip to Moscow.
CNN's Manu Raju has our report.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's longtime confidante, former bodyguard, Keith Schiller testified behind closed doors for the House Intelligence Committee. Now several sources familiar with that testimony tell both me and our colleague, Jeremy Herb, about some of the details about the trip that Schiller took with private citizen Donald Trump back in 2013 to Moscow when they were discussing -- when they went there because of Trump's involvement with the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. Now what Schiller told the committee was an offer made by a Russian to send five women up to Donald Trump's hotel room that night. Schiller said he took it as a joke. He later told Trump about it on their way up to his hotel room that night. Trump laughed it off.
Schiller waited outside the hotel room and then after several minutes Schiller left and he said did not know what happened the rest of that night. Now the reason why this is significant is this is all part of the investigation into that so-called dossier of allegations compiled by that former British agent Christopher Steele looking into any Trump-Russia connections.
Now there are some salacious allegations in that dossier, some of those salacious allegations actually have not been verified. And this is why investigators were asking about the question. They wanted to know whether or not Russians had dirt on Trump just at the same time they were meddling in the United States elections.
Now this comes as special counsel Robert Mueller's own investigation is ramping up itself. He interviewed Stephen Miller, one of the most senior aides at the White House taking to him about the firing of former FBI director James Comey as well as things that happened during the campaign season given that it is Stephen Miller who was so very close to Trump during the campaign season and at the White House.
But we are told that the Comey firing was first and foremost on the special counsel's mind as he starts to investigate possible obstruction of justice with the President.
Manu Raju, CNN -- Washington.
ALLEN: We want to break all of this down. With us from Los Angeles to discuss this -- Democratic strategist Robin Swanson and conservative commentator, Joe Messina. Robin, Joe -- thank you so much for talking with us.
I want to begin though -- let's play a sound bite from President Trump, his remarks on this dossier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's very sad what they've done with this fake dossier. It was made up. I have to say the whole Russian thing is what it's turned out to be. This was the Democrats coming up with an excuse for losing an election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: So that's what the President has said. He maintains that.
Joe -- let's begin with you. He has not wavered on this, the President, but the FBI has corroborated some information in the dossier though not the more salacious allegations regarding Trump's trip to Moscow. What do you make of this so far? JOE MESSINA, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Look, I tend to agree with
President Trump. I think you're going to find a lot of information there is not true. You know, there's always a bit of truth in lies that are told.
But when you look at this, I'm really surprised. I'm still trying to figure out how somebody rejecting five women sent to their hotel room is a bad thing. I don't understand why this is such a big story. With the exception of the fact --
ALLEN: Point well taken.
[00:05:00] MESSINA: -- ok. And I think it shows a bit of integrity, whether you like the man or not, you have a security guard. If the security guard knew, that President Trump's -- maybe his character was such that he would have accepted those five women, then he would have sent them along. He would have knocked on the door and said, hey, Mr. Trump, I have something here you might want.
And Mr. Trump even laughed it off. He didn't -- notice there wasn't even a comment that said, hey, why didn't you knock on the door and let me know what was going on?
MESSINA: I mean I just don't see this as a major news story, if you would.
ALLEN: There's an element of the story -- his security guard apparently was at his door for a time but didn't stay there for the whole time.
Robin, you weigh in on that aspect for us?
ROBIN SWANSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. I mean I think there are much bigger questions that are of concern to the American people than that.
I think what was Stephen Miller's role and the fact that he has top campaign aides -- Donald Trump has top campaign aides that have already lied to the FBI.
And all of that comes from the top. It's clear that the Trump campaign would do anything to win. It's clear that they did do anything to win. And we need to know what did Steve Miller do? What was his role in the firing of James Comey? Why are his top campaign aides lying to the FBI? And how much of that came straight from the top?
And I think those are the questions that are fundamental to the Mueller investigation that we're going to learn more about. That the American people deserve to know if our election was tampered with and that all signs are pointing to yes.
ALLEN: Joe -- what does it say that it seems this investigation just creeps closer and closer more so to Mr. Trump's inner circle with Stephen Miller.
MESSINA: I think it's interesting when you say they would do anything to win. We just saw a whole bunch of information, a whole bunch of reality on what Mrs. Clinton would have done to win, what any candidate would do to win it seems like in modern elections.
And when you're doing investigations like this, of course, it's going to move towards the top. We've seen them with the Obama ministration. You saw them with the Clinton administration, with the George Bush administration.
SWANSON: None of these people are in office any more. It doesn't matter.
MESSINA: Well, you -- all right.
SWANSON: None of those are in office.
MESSINA: You can say that -- Robin.
SWANSON: The President of the United States is under investigation. None of those people are under investigation.
MESSINA: Robin -- I have listened -- Robin -- with all due respect I had listened for six years of George W. Bush's problems. Six years into the Obama's presidency -- how everything was George Bush's fault.
ALLEN: It does seem like -- if I can interrupt you --
MESSINA: Go ahead.
ALLEN: -- it does seem like every time we start to talk about this investigation and what is going on, where Mueller is pointing to that the Republicans on the panel will go back and rehash, rehash what others did.
This is not the administration we're discussing.
SWANSON: They're not the ones under investigation.
MESSINA: No, I'll stay with this -- I'll stay with this administration.
SWANSON: They didn't collaborate with the Russians. That is what we're talking about right now and that's why there is a federal investigation. And that's why things are taken very seriously and there is an FBI -- people have lied to the FBI. These are serious questions.
And we think that the American election was tampered with by the Republicans at the impetus of Donald Trump. And that is an extremely serious accusation that we need to get to the bottom of. And that's what this is about.
It's not about any previous elected official whether they're Democrat or Republican.
MESSINA: Ok. All right. Fair enough. But you've got an FBI that's been working on this for well over a year, long before he became president. There is no concrete evidence. Are they the worst investigative team on the planet? By now they would have something that actually can tie them together.
And you know, of course, you're going to look at -- look, the hate for Donald Trump in this country by a group of people, maybe a larger group of people, but a group of people nonetheless is pushing -- they won't look past anything the man, does right. They won't look at anything that might not be -- there seems to be every rock, every pebble, everything we walk by has got something to do with Mr. Trump and why it's wrong.
You know, I'm surprised we --
SWANSON: Well, there is 64 percent of Americans do think he's doing a poor job. So they're not pleased with that. So I think there are a majority of Americans that are very concerned with what's happening in our country right now. So I think you're right about that.
ALLEN: All right. Let's stop right there for a moment because there's another revelation that has come out of Washington -- very significant. I want to get you guys' reaction to that.
An explosive new report from the "Washington Post" alleges Roy Moore, the Republican senate candidate from Alabama initiated a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 30s. Moore vehemently denied these allegation and tweeted he will never give up the fight.
For more on this, let's go to CNN's Martin Savidge then we'll talk about it.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when she first met Roy Moore. It was 1979 when Moore was an assistant district attorney in Etowah County, Alabama. He was 32 years old at the time.
Corfman was at the courthouse with her mother Nancy for a custody hearing. Even now, 38 years later both women remember Moore introducing himself and offering to sit with Leigh while Nancy attended the hearing.
[00:09:57] They told their story to the "Washington Post". Beth Reinhard is one of the reporters who broke the story. BETH REINHARD, "WASHINGTON POST": The mother said thank you very much for looking after my little girl and left them alone.
SAVIDGE: Corfman told "The Post" Moore made plans to see her a few days after the hearing.
REINHARD: He picked her up around the corner from her house, took her to his house which is in a very woodsy rural area about 30 minutes away. Took her into the house, at least twice that occurred -- and he gave her alcohol. And on one of the occasions, you know, undressed her, undressed himself, and touched her over her bra and underwear, and guided her to touch him, over his underwear.
SAVIDGE: Remember, Corfman was 14 years old at the time.
She said she was uncomfortable after that incident and asked Moore to take her home. She never reported his behavior to the police.
But she's not the only one with a story about Roy Moore. Wendy Miller told the "Washington Post" that she was 14 Moore approached her at the mall and told her she was pretty. Two years later he allegedly started asking her out but she said no.
Debbie Wesson Gibson told "The Post" she was 17 when she met Moore who was speaking at her high school civics class. They went out for a few dates and Gibson says they only kissed, nothing more.
Gloria Thacker Deason said she was 18 when she met Moore. She says they dated on and off for a few months and that Moore would buy her alcohol even though she was underage. She also says they only hugged and kissed.
All four women tell the "Washington Post" they were initially flattered by his attention. But as they grew older and Moore's prominence in Alabama rose they found his behavior troubling.
REINHARD: They see he's running for such a high office, U.S. Senate. They also feel that think it's hypocritical of him to be, you know, saying things like homosexuality should be illegal when in their experience he was, you know, looking for teenagers to date at the mall when he was in his 30s.
Savidge: Moore calls "The Post" story quote, "completely false and a desperate political attack". His campaign has called the story fake news and points out the paper has endorsed Moore's opponent in the Alabama senate race.
But the "Washington Post" stands by its reporting and Leigh Corfman told "The Post" she has no political agenda and has voted Republican in the past three presidential elections.
REINHARD: A "Washington Post" reporter was in Alabama doing some reporting on Roy Moore's supporters, when these rumors were emerging that he had had relationships with teenage girls.
Two of us spent weeks in Alabama these leads that we got. And as we say in the story, none of the women were eager to go public. They were all off the record when we first spoke to them. And it took multiple interviews before they agreed to speak publicly because in the end they felt like they needed to do it.
SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN -- Gadsden, Alabama.
ALLEN: Also want to point out Miss Corfman there said she voted for Donald Trump. But Robin and Joe, I know we want to talk about this.
But first, before we get going, let's begin with senate reaction. Here's one Democrat and two Republicans on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: It's awful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How concerning will it be for the Republicans?
MANCHIN: It's very concerning -- well, it's concerning for anybody. I don't care what side of the aisle you're on, that's a horrific situation. It's very concerning.
SENATOR JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: The allegations, if true, maybe he needs to step aside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How concerned are you going to be that this is going to hurt the Republican Party?
THUNE: Well, I think if he does what he should do, he does the right thing and steps aside I don't think it will hurt the Republican Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they're true he should step aside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: And one more -- let's get a tweet now from Senator John McCain. If we can pull that up right now, I'll read it for you.
"The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of."
So there you have it some on Capitol Hill saying let's see if this is true. In fact they can figure that out at this point. And we have Mr. McCain saying, nope, it's over. Robin, let's start with you on this one.
SWANSON: Yes. I mean disturbing, sickening, criminal -- are the first words that come to mind for me and also that this is the hand-picked candidate of the administration. And perhaps this is not -- this shouldn't be the moral compass of America. That Steve Bannon shouldn't be the moral compass of America. This is the candidate Donald Trump said quote, "could make America great again". I don't think it's so great for the young women that he molested. So I think there's big question marks here, big troubling, disturbing allegations and absolutely he should step down and it will change the entire agenda of the senate.
[00:15:01] I mean if the Republicans lose this seat in the senate, which they're primed to do right now, I think that's going to change the dynamics on all the discussions moving forward.
ALLEN: Not so sure that this is a man who is going to step away. Before we go to you, Tony (SIC), I want to read Mr. Moore's defense. Let's look at his tweet. He's certainly a man who has fought vigorously for what he believes in in his career.
"The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal, even inflict physical harm if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me."
But again, to you, Tony -- these women, it doesn't look like they're out to get this man for political reasons.
MESSINA: Well, I'd like to say what I said on my radio show today what I would like to do to people who sexually abuse children. I think it's the worst thing. There isn't anything lower than that. So let's just start off there. I don't approve of any of this.
ALLEN: A good place to start.
MESSINA: I find it interesting though that when it comes to a Republican doing these kind of things they are guilty until proven innocent. The last I checked we were still living in America.
I don't care which side of the aisle you're on. Sexual assault or sexual abuse when you're accused of those kinds of things, it would ruin not just somebody's career because that's secondary, it could ruin somebody's life and we have seen these things happen in the past before.
If the man is guilty, not only does he need to step aside or if he's done this kind of thing, he needs to be prosecuted and put in jail for it. He doesn't get a pass because he's a Republican -- a Republican conservative or a Christian Republican conservative. It doesn't work that way.
But again, I'd like to say when you start talking about these kinds of allegations and right away people are upset that other Republicans are saying first, if you're guilty -- what do you want me to say? You want me to say, well, there's a hint that this happened so you need to step aside?
And I'm sorry but I do find it suspect because in politics we know how nasty it gets. One of the things I was talking about today is where were they -- you know, you said it's a very high office. Well, the Supreme Court in the state is a very high office.
Where were they when he ran the first time? Where were they when he ran the second time? Where were they in the primaries?
ALLEN: Well, one of them has something to say about that and always wanted to come forward. But, you know, these women -- let's face it, they're scared.
SWANSON: And they were children.
MESSINA: I agree, it's tough.
SWANSON: They were children and we need to stop blaming the victims here. So absolutely, they came forward. They're talking --
MESSINA: They have parents.
SWANSON: -- about it on national television. And those are Republican senators that you had in your earlier feed denouncing -- denouncing the candidate and denouncing any association with him.
So, yes, the court of law comes in, absolutely, he should be prosecuted. And he should pay the consequences now because he's running in an election right now.
MESSINA: Robin -- this is not a Republican -- this is not a Republican and Democrat thing -- Robin. I mean this is --
SWANSON: It's not. I agree. I absolutely agree.
ALLEN: Nice to see that people are backing away from the tribal thing and just saying what --
MESSINA: No, no, no. Yes, I agree.
ALLEN: But, you know, the question is, you say you know, everyone is saying, well, if it's true -- where do we go to figure that out? You've got this report by the "Washington Post". He denies it via tweet. What does he need to do to tell us this isn't true?
MESSINA: Nothing he says -- nothing he says is going to prove it, right? I mean he's already sat in front of a camera. He sent out the tweets. He's talking about it, that these aren't real. So I don't know -- a court of law. That charges need to be brought forward and he needs to follow the course. We are a country of laws.
If he's guilty, he goes to jail -- plain and simple. He gets no pass.
ALLEN: And then it's like, where will the Republicans be if that were to happen. MESSINA: It shouldn't be a concern. The concern should be that these
young ladies and these families get justice. I think politicizing it is making it wrong. That's my personal feeling.
SWANSON: Well, he's running for political office. It's hard to not politicize something when he's running for a political office. That's what he put --
MESSINA: I know. But you know what --
SWANSON: -- that's the position he put himself in and a position that he put those children in.
ALLEN: We're going to have to leave it there. We're going to have to leave it there.
Thank you so much, both of you, for a robust discussion on this.
MESSINA: Thank you.
ALLEN: We appreciate it lot.
SWANSON: Thanks for having me.
ALLEN: Robin Swanson, democratic strategist; and conservative commentator Joe Messina -- really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Up ahead, will Presidents Trump and Putin meet face-to-face at the Asia-Pacific Economic summit in Vietnam? Our panel weighs in, coming up.
Plus, tensions are mounting between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia -- why Riyadh says Iran is involved.
[00:19:32] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: Welcome back.
At any moment, U.S. President Donald Trump will be landing in Vietnam to attend a summit of Asia Pacific leaders. Russian President Vladimir Putin is going to be in Vietnam for the summit as well.
The question -- will the two leaders meet one-on-one?
Our Nic Robertson is following the story from Danang, Vietnam. Also Terry McCarthy, the president and CEO of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council also with us from Los Angeles. Thank you, Terry, for being with us.
Nic -- let's start with you though. The President about to land in Vietnam -- he's got issues to deal with there. But the big question is, will he meet with Vladimir Putin? Is now the time for that?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Look there's still no answer on that. We heard from Russian officials yesterday that it looked like it was on the cards. They were saying it was going to happen.
Then we heard from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that unless there was something substantive, something substantive that they could really apparently agree on then it was still up in the air.
The spokesman for President Putin Dmitry Peskov, late yesterday said that it was still under discussion, still active. But he said regardless, both men were here at the summit and they would meet at some point.
So it seems to have been ramped up and now being downplayed. There's still a possibility. President Trump has a window of opportunity, a period of quite some considerable time this afternoon where there's bilateral meetings potential there for him.
But at the moment, you know, we don't have anything new. Obviously when the President's plane lands there maybe new information accompanying him there but as of about four hours ago when his plane took from Beijing, no, it's still not a done deal yet for that bilateral.
ALLEN: I wonder if that means they just haven't made up their mind yet or just aren't telling us. We'll get back to you in just a second -- Nic.
But Terry -- I want to ask you about that as well. Certainly, the United States and Russia, the relationship couldn't be any worse right now. And considering what the President is dealing with at home, but also consider the threat of North Korea -- should these two men come together for that reason alone?
TERRY MCCARTHY, CEO AND PRESIDENT, LOS ANGELES WORLD AFFAIRS COUNCIL: Well, Natalie -- what strikes me about this whole trip is how heavily scripted it's been.
So we've seen Trump sticking to message in Japan. He gave a very big speech in South Korea which focused a lot on North Korea. And then in China he stuck to his script, too.
It seems to me what the White House strategy here is to try and build up a series of alliances with all the key players so they can then go back to North Korea and do some negotiating. And that's why expect they will try and make this meeting come through with Putin who will have to be part of whatever new approach they make to North Korea.
ALLEN: And they will have to deal with the optics of that somehow that's why you have a team to help you figure that out.
Is this -- this is the President's Air Force One right now. It's just touched down in Danang and we'll wait to see the President step off with the first lady as we continue our discussion here.
So Nic -- let's talk more about his goals there in Vietnam, certainly coming off a very cozy meeting with China, coming to some terms regarding trade. But again, this President wanting China to step up more and deal with this very situation with North Korea.
ROBERTSON: Sure -- we talked about that very warm relationship in China.
[00:24:58] Indeed, that is actually continuing even while President Trump is arriving here. The first lady Melania Trump there remained behind in Beijing and went to visit some of the pandas in China, in Beijing today.
So when President Trump arrives here, it's going to be heading into what could potentially be a rocky environment. We understand that he will be talking about trade. He -- when he first came into office -- took the United States out of the TPP, the Trans-Pacific partnership. That has rankled some of those members including Japan. Vietnam who's hosting the APEC summit here was hoping really to be able to profit by that economic grouping.
So we are -- President Trump does have the possibility that on the margins of this APEC meeting you may get an agreement between the remainder 11 nations part of the TPP that they will press ahead with that agreement. That could be slightly embarrassing for President Trump. But what he will talk about here is free trade being fair, balanced and reciprocal trade.
But obviously there may be some pushback on that. He's also talked about the importance of isolating all countries helping isolate North Korea to convince North Korea and Kim Jong-Un to denuclearize. So those will be some of the principal things.
We've also heard the White House talk a lot about the free and open Indo-Pacific region. We've heard national security advisor McMaster talk about it a lot recently. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talk about it a lot recently. So perhaps President Trump will get a definition of what the Indo-Pacific region being free and open really means.
The assessment seems to be that there's an effort to sort of introduce -- introduce India rather into this sort of larger geographic grouping, perhaps to sort marginalize, neutralize China's influence in what's normally talked about as the Asia-Pacific region -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Yes. And Terry -- what do you make about that possible paradigm shift and how we do Asia and our relations in that region?
MCCARTHY: Well, clearly, one of the huge topics that won't be talked about openly but will be in the back of the minds of pretty much everyone there is how the rest of Asia is going to deal with China and how the United States plays its hand there.
So of course, TPP is off the table for the time being but there's a lot of other stuff going on too. The U.S. Navy, of course, is there in force as they try and intimidate North Korea.
I think it's interesting the optics, the attempts by the Japanese and the Chinese, the two major players there to Russians show how close they are to President Trump. But this is not -- you know, it's interesting. These are not long term buddies. They're clinging on to President Trump. They know how volatile this leader is --
ALLEN: Let me interrupt just for a moment Terry -- just so I can just remind everybody --
MCCARTHY: Here he comes.
ALLEN: -- there is the President coming down the stairs as you speak, to be greeted by the Vietnamese and as Nic pointing out Melania Trump is not with him on this leg.
I just also want to tell both of you that I've just been told by our control room that Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman told reporters there on Air Force One that there are no plans at the moment for President Trump and Vladimir Putin to have a meeting. So that seems where that stands.
So Terry -- why don't you continue on as we continue to see this live video about what you're speaking about? But also speak to the huge, huge topic. What does this president need to achieve vis-a-vis North Korea?
MCCARTHY: So I was just saying that both the major leaguers here, Abe and Xi Jinping, they both know how volatile Trump is. So they're sort of clinging on to him not as a long-term buddy but almost like you'd hold on to a container of nitroglycerin. They're afraid if they let him drop he might explode in some unexpected way.
The North Korean problem, you know, perhaps more by chance than by design, President Trump's statements have sort of brought people's fears to the foremost. There really is a concern now there could be a conflict in North Korea which can be very bloody -- North and South Korea. And so I think that all the parties are now starting to realize that they really need to come up with some new approach which will be a diplomatic approach to North Korea.
Of course, the problem is that all the major parties there have issues among themselves -- the Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Russians and the U.S. You know, there's some problems -- bilateral problems there and so the big task for Trump and for his advisors in the White House is how do you get everyone on the same page and then go to North Korea and say, right. Here are the outlines of some kind of a negotiation that we'd like to start and back away from this very bellicose rhetoric that has been rankling everyone around Asia in the last couple of months.
ALLEN: Yes. Absolutely.
And of course, we'll be following this leg of the trip. Nic Robertson will be covering for us. The President will be making a speech, he'll be there for us.
Nic -- we thank you. Terry McCarthy, we thank you.
[00:30:01] And again, President Trump just now landing in Vietnam.
And we will continue to follow it, of course. Thank you both. We'll see you again
Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, it's already devastated Yemen.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: -- we thank you. And again, President Trump just now landing in Vietnam. We will continue to follow it, of course.
Thank you both. We'll see you again.
Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, it's already devastated Yemen. Now a Saudi-Iran proxy war could be spreading. We hear from Saudi Arabia's top diplomat, ahead here as we push on with CNN NEWSROOM.
ALLEN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen. Here our top story this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump just arrived now in Vietnam, the fourth stop of his 12day trip through Asia. He will be attending the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, after concluding his trip to China.
Upon arrival, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that there is no meeting scheduled between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.
In other news, a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran has escalated in recent days. Riyadh has ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon in a standoff with Iraqi-backed Hezbollah. The kingdom is also tightening a blockade on Yemen, which faces a dire humanitarian crisis. CNN's Becky Anderson has more now from Abu Dhabi.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Life in one of the Arab world's poorest countries is about to get worse. Millions could be about to starve to death. The U.N.'s humanitarian chief warning Yemen will soon sink into the largest famine we have seen in decades.
That warning coming after a Saudi-led military coalition tightened its air, land and sea blockade of the country. It was the Saudis' response to this: Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen firing a ballistic missile at the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. The missile was intercepted just after the strike. Saudi foreign minister Jubeir blaming their arch rivals. JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: We see this as an act of war. Iran cannot lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Iran denying supplying the Houthis with missile while the kingdom's increasingly assertive foreign policy stance coming at a time of major change back home also this week a newly formed anticorruption squad led by the 32-year-old crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. Went two arrests, a number of high profile princes and --
ANDERSON (voice-over): -- businessmen all in line with plans to diversify the economy and modernize society. His critics saying it's simply a way for him to solidify power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The king of Saudi Arabia takes very, very seriously the issue of corruption, waste and mismanagement.
ANDERSON (voice-over): The Saudi attorney general said more than 200 Saudis have been called for questioning on corruption charges that cost the country at least $100 billion. While the kingdom is moving swiftly at home and abroad, the world is watching, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman reshuffling the government, promising women they will drive while rolling out an ambitious employment and diversification agenda along with combating terrorism and extremism with a moderate view of Islam. His supporters saying he's pushing reforms in a country yearning for change. The naysayers say the crown prince is simply consolidating power for himself while upending traditions -- Becky Anderson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
ALLEN: Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, the allegations keep coming; sexual misconduct allegations now against comedian Louis C.K. We'll have more about that.
ALLEN: Welcome back.
Another high profile entertainer embroiled in a sexual misconduct controversy. This time, it is comedian Louis C.K. Five women tell their stories to "The New York Times" including how the comedian reportedly exposed himself and performed lewd sex acts in front of them or made lewd comments or requests.
The reaction was swift. The premiere of his new movie was cancelled; also scrapped, an appearance on "The Late Show" with Stephen Colbert. CNN has not independently confirmed the allegations; no response yet from the comedian. Let's bring in criminal defense attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez. He the
sexual assault and child abuse unit in the Riverside, California, district attorney's office. He joins us now from Los Angeles.
Thanks so much for talking with us.
AMBROSIO RODRIGUEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Natalie.
ALLEN: The allegations just keep growing. It's been shocking, it's like the floodgates are opened and victims, men and women, are ready to talk.
What do you make of it?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think everything changed after Weinstein. Once they saw someone as important as powerful as Harvey Weinstein fall, it kind of opened up the floodgates for a lot of people who feel are making accusations that they've been victimized by people who are more powerful, people in a position of authority and influence in Los Angeles.
It is really the talk of the town. This has frozen the entertainment world in Los Angeles. We've had what happened with Kevin Spacey, the fact that -- and, you know, potentially Oscar-nominated movie is being reshot and his part is being taken out --
RODRIGUEZ: -- that's unheard of. And now the allegations against Mr. Louis C.K., who was beloved and very popular. Obviously, the accusations against him -- and these are crimes; this isn't sexual harassment, these are sex crimes.
Exposing yourself the way these various women that have come forward have reported are crimes. They're crimes; if convicted, require having to register as a sex offender, require jail time and even prison time if there are multiple convictions. So we are in a new era and a new time after Weinstein fell.
ALLEN: I want to ask you, since you're an expert in this area, you have led sexual assault cases there in California, so many people ask, well, why did the women not talk?
We certainly know the pressures on victims to go public with something like this.
RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. It's hard enough for women to come forward when it's not public, when it's not a famous person of influence and authority to come forward. Most of the time when we're talking about these kind of cases, the accusations are never against strangers. Those are the rarest of cases when it comes to sex crimes.
What is the most common is that it's someone in the family, a father, stepfather, uncle, a family member, a coach, a teacher. It is very difficult for them to do that in a setting where it doesn't mean that your entire life is going to be exposed and analyzed and attacked by high-profile defense attorneys.
And there's a machine to protect these types of men. So people should not be in any way alarmed or should they be doubted, simply because it's taken them so long to come forward.
ALLEN: Right. And the other thing I want to talk about is, it takes a long time to even be able to talk about something like this. You're shocked, it's traumatic, you're full of shame. It's even hard to comprehend what you've experienced.
RODRIGUEZ: Right. And the most natural reaction is for women to feel that they did something to deserve this. That is, what did I do in order for this to happen to me? So, Natalie, you're absolutely right. This is something that most women do not want to deal with in a public setting.
But there has been a major cultural shift in the last month that seems to -- we kind of like the tip of the iceberg now.
ALLEN: Yes. A tipping point, if this is a larger, perhaps somewhere, we're going in a positive way to something that's been going on for so very, very long. Criminal defense attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez, thanks so much. We appreciate it.
RODRIGUEZ: Appreciate it.
ALLEN: And a reminder to join us later for a CNN town hall, "Tipping Point: Sexual Harassment in America" with CNN's Alisyn Camerota. It airs at 10:00 am in London, 6:00 pm in Hong Kong, a very powerful hour. And you'll hear from some people who've come forward.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more on all of this. Next here is "WORLD SPORT."