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Roy Moore Denies Sexual Abuse Allegations; Top Roy Moore Defender Steve Bannon About To Speak; Flynn Attorneys: Kidnapping, Bribery Allegations "Are False"; CNN Tracks Down Russian Billionaire Tied To Manafort, Putin; McConnell Says He Misspoke When He Said No One in Middle Class Would Get Tax Increase. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 10, 2017 - 19:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OutFront next, breaking news. Roy Moore fires back. Facing allegations of sexual misconduct with a 14-year- old when he was 32. Moore now claims he never even met her.

Plus, more breaking news. Steve Bannon, Moore's biggest backer, about to speak in his defense. If Moore goes down, does Bannon go with him?

And the Russian oligarch is at the side of Vladimir Putin today. What's his connection to Paul Manafort? We asked him.

Let's go OutFront.

Good evening everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.

OutFront tonight, breaking news. Roy Moore, the Republican candidate from Alabama under fire for explosive allegations of sexual misconduct. He is speaking out tonight.

Moore responding to a Washington Post report about an Alabama woman who says Moore sexually abused her when she was 14 years old. He was 32 at the time.

Here's Moore tonight, defiant on Sean Hannity's radio show.


ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: These allegations are completely false and misleading. But more than anything, it hurts me personally because, you know, I'm a father, I have one daughter. I have five granddaughters. And I have a special concern for protection of young ladies. This is, this is really hard to get on radio and explain this.

I don't know her from anybody. I've never talked to her, never had any contact with her. Allegations of sexual misconduct with her are completely false. I believe they're politically motivated.

I believe they're brought only to stop a very successful campaign and that's what they're doing. I have never known this woman or anything with regard to the other girls, and I understand this is 40 years ago, after my return from the military, I dated a lot of young ladies.


BOLDUAN: Remember what the woman at the center of the Post story has said. Leigh Corfman told the Post that in 1979 when she was 14 years old, Moore met her at a courthouse where her mother was attending a child custody hearing. Moore, according to Corfman offered to stay with her while her mother went inside for the hearing.

Corfman says Moore asked for her number and days later, picked her up, took her to his home and kissed her. During a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants, removed his clothes, touching her and guiding her to touch him. She was 14.

In addition, three more women told the Post that Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18, although they do not accuse him of anything inappropriate. The legal age of consent in Alabama then and now is 16. So along with those four women, the Post basis reporting on interviews with more than 30 people who say they knew Moore between 1977 and 1982.

Yesterday, Beth Reinhardt, one of the Post reporters who broke the story, spoke to OutFront about her reporting saying that her team spent a month working on it and thoroughly investigating everything the women told them.


BETH REINHARD, INVESTIGATIVE TEAM REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: We vetted their backgrounds to see, you know, do they have some kind of political vendetta against Roy Moore. That wasn't the case.

And so, you know, this was a story we took a lot of time with. And, you know, as we point out in the story, these women did not come to us seeking attention. We found them and it was only through weeks of interviews that we felt our reporting was solid and we were ready to publish the story.


BOLDUAN: So it seems to come down to this. Four women on the record with dozens backing them up versus Roy Moore. And just moments ago, more fallout for Roy Moore. Two top Republicans, Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Steve Daines of Montana have pulled their endorsement of Moore.

Alex Marquardt, he is OutFront tonight at the courthouse in Alabama where Moore allegedly met the Corfman. So, Alex, Roy Moore is fully and very vehemently denying the accusations tonight. How that's being received by voters there?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is. Well, this is the Roy Moore that his supporters know and love. The Roy Moore who doesn't back down from a fight. We spent the day speaking with some of his supporters almost to a man and woman, they are sticking with him.

We even spoke with a woman who said that even if the allegations turn out to be true, she will still vote for him.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): If anything can be said about Roy Moore's supporters, it's that they're fervent and loyal. Drawn to him in spite of a controversial past, his values-based campaign centered around Christian beliefs is popular and is reddest of red states. And that loyalty now still strong despite these new bombshell allegations.

Supporters unnerved, but so far, unwavering. At Merrill's BBQ, Dottie Finch works in the kitchen. She says she doesn't believe Moore had that sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl or pursued other teenagers. And even if proven true she says, she'd still vote for him.

[19:05:07] DOTTIE FINCH, ROY MOORE SUPPORTER: I still would support Roy Moore because I feel as if that's happened in the past.

MARQUARDT (on camera): Even if he was inappropriately touching a 14- year-old girl?

FINCH: If he went to the Lord whatever and asked for forgiveness for that and hasn't done anything like that since then, I believe that the good Lord's forgiven him as a Christian, I have to forgive him also.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Moore has slammed the accusations as a liberal conspiracy to thwart his campaign.

MOORE: It's obvious to the casual observer that something's up. We're also doing an investigation and we have some evidence of some collusion here, but we're not ready to put that to the public just yet. This is a completely manufactured story meant to defraud this campaign.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): And Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, now head of Breitbart News had been one of Moore's most prominent backers. Comparing the Washington Post story to the Access Hollywood tape unearthed during the campaign.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP'S CHIEF STRATEGIST: If you saw the way they came after him like they're coming after Judge Moore today, this is not -- they didn't debate, you know, policy or politics. This was the politics of personal destruction, right?

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Alabama's state auditor went so far as to call the allegations, quote, much adieu about nothing. Take Joseph and Mary he said. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.

And like Jesus, Moore's brother told CNN on Friday, the judge is being persecuted. J. Holland works for the county's Republican Party and has known Moore for decades. He thinks Moore could lose a few votes, but come Election Day, the turnout will be strong. (on camera) Do you think there's any chance he drops out of this race?

J. HOLLAND, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, ETOWAH COUNTY GOP: No, no, you don't know Roy Moore. He is a fighter. He -- if you got to have somebody in a fox hole with you, you want Roy Moore.


MARQUARDT: The big question now that his supporters are asking is why now? Why are these allegations only coming to light, 40 years after the fact? Do these women have -- are they waging a smear campaign against Roy Moore just weeks before this election. Is it being organized by the Democrats? It is being organized by establishment Republicans like Mitch McConnell?

They want more proof, they want more corroboration and they want Roy Moore to stay in the race and they say that he can win.


BOLDUAN: Alex, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Alex Marquardt on the ground for us.

OutFront now, Lance Bell, the Republican Party chair of St. Clair County, Alabama, and the former Democratic Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm is here. Thank you both for being here.

Lance, let me just get your take. What do you have to say about all this tonight?

LANCE BELL (R), CHAIRMAN OF ST. CLAIRE COUNTY, ALABAMA: I guess it's a scaled back approach. He's been involved in politics here, four statewide races, three county races in Etowah County. And this is just now coming out. He's a very polarizing figure. Been national --

BOLDUAN: But statewide is different than a federal election, don't you agree? In terms of the scrutiny.

BELL: Well, still state of Alabama voters. And you got these allegations coming out of Etowah County where he's run three races there as judge. He's run, you know, two times as governor, two times as chief justice.

I'm stepping back. Let's listen to the facts. Let's let the investigation take place and let's see what happens. I think we're still early jumping to conclusions. And let's give it a few days, let's let things transpire and see where we're at.

BOLDUAN: What is the standard of proof? What more proof are you looking for? What more is there to learn?

BELL: You know, I'm a defense attorney so I'm always looking at what's out there. You know, when things first happen, there's always facts that come out later. That either prove something happen, didn't prove it. I mean, let's give it a few days, let's give it some time. Don't rush to judgment and, you know, convict somebody basically on, you know, public outcry from different people. I mean, let's wait and see what happens.

If this occurred, I don't care if it's a political, you know, candidate, I don't care if it's just a (INAUDIBLE) citizen. If these facts occurred, that person should be prosecuted and they should not be in politics. They should not be leading, you know, something in government.

But I think we got to step back and we got to let this have more time to develop before we make a judgment call on what we're going to do.

BOLDUAN: Governor, do you think this is time to step back?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF MICHIGAN: Well, no, but I'm curious, Mr. Bell, does that mean, are you calling for an investigation? Would you -- is there an opportunity -- I mean, how else are more facts going to come forward without additional investigative journalism or some sort of investigation from the criminal arena?

BELL: Well, Governor, you spent some years as the attorney general when you're here in Alabama. There's no statute of limitations on this crime. So let's give it some time. Let's see if there's going to be an investigation.

I think jumping to conclusions -- look at the -- I hate to use this example, but Duke Lacrosse.

[19:10:03] Everybody in the public arena, they had already convicted those guys. We give it a little time, what happened. I mean, I hope this is not true.


BOLDUAN: Here's one thing that I -- well, and Mitt Romney spoke to this today. He said that, you know, innocent or guilty, that's for a court of law. This is a question of if this man should be a United States senator. It's two different things.

BELL: What if these facts are not true? What if it comes out the it's not true say next week or two weeks or three weeks? I think when you have a liberal newspaper in Washington that has come out in support of his opponent, I think you got to step back. I think you got to step back a little bit and let's see -- let's let the facts.

BOLDUAN: Let's also deal in facts. This is not a newspaper against Roy Moore. This is not the Washington Post against Roy Moore. This is the account of four women on the record against Roy Moore.

GRANHOLM: One of whom is a Trump voter and a long time Republican voter and they don't know one another. How is this a collusion?

BOLDUAN: Go ahead. BELL: I'm not saying it's a collusion. I'm saying let's take a step back and let's see what's happening in the future. Let's give it a few days. Let the story develop. Let's let -- you know, you just heard Judge Moore's team is doing an investigation also some others.

Let's let those facts come out. Let's give it a little time. Let's don't rush to judgment. Lot of times when we rush to judgment, we make mistakes and that's in -- go ahead.

BOLDUAN: Governor, let me ask you this. This is up to -- in the end right now, this is up to the -- unless something changes because there's no talk of there being a case or an investigation at this point.

This is up to the voters in Alabama. Many are telling our correspondents on the ground that they're going to give -- as you heard from Alex Marquardt, they're going to give Roy Moore the benefit of the doubt. So, is that the beginning and end of it?

GRANHOLM: No, it's not the beginning and end of it. First of all, there's a whole bunch of Luther Strange voters combined with the Jones voters that could make a big difference. And I would say, you know, if they want to see something happen, let's have Roy Moore take FBI administered polygraph.

If you want to put this to bed, let's call him to take a polygraph and see what happens. How many more women will have to come forward? What if another one does come forward? Will that be sufficient? What if there's corroboration of him being at the courthouse at the time when this particular story was -- where the two of them were supposed to have met.

Would that be enough? How much more do you need? I think the voters of Alabama are very smart and they are going to look at this. Especially a lot of the women of Alabama, and say enough is enough. We do not want to embarrass our state further. Republicans probably don't want to see their party embarrassed further.

You're seeing a split in the Republican Party. It's interesting, and I appreciate what you're saying Mr. Bell because what I think if I can lean from what you've just said, is that you would -- if it were found true that you would think that he shouldn't be elected.

There's a whole bunch of other of your colleagues who lead Republican county entities who are saying well, 14, maybe it's not so bad. You know, it's not a big deal if there's a big age disparity. Some people are justifying it. And are saying as the clip showed that even if he did it, that that should be elected.

That is selecting of course party over principle. And that's a terrible thing for the Republican Party in Alabama.

BOLDUAN: Well -- and Lance, you're not saying that but -- go ahead.

BELL: I was raised as, you know, a country boy in St. Clair County, Alabama, and I don't believe you do anything like that to a woman. I don't care if you're in politics. I don't care who you are. You do not mistreat a lady.

I was raised to open the car door. I was raised to, you know, treat them the way they should be treated and respect them. I was never raised to treat people like that and I do not agree with anybody who says a 14-year-old should be treated that way.

BOLDUAN: If this is true, is he disqualified to be a senator or hold any public office?

BELL: If this is true, anybody is. I don't care if it's him, I don't care if it's a presidential candidate --

BOLDUAN: There's this question though -- I just got to ask you this. There's this question though, you've got senators right now, staunch conservatives, antiestablishment senators like Mike Lee were pulling their endorsement of him because they say enough is enough. They say the Post story plus how Roy Moore answered questions to Hannity tonight are enough for them. Why not enough for you?

BELL: You know, getting ready for this, I missed the Sean Hannity interview so -- you know, I'm not going to rush to judgment. I guess it's what I do for a living being, you know, a defense attorney.

I always take a step back and I look at the facts and I give it a little time. It always plays out different than it does in initial. Sometimes, it plays out worse. Sometimes it plays out better. That's, you know, that's just the way it is.

BOLDUAN: All right. Thank you both so much.

GRANHOLM: All right.

BELL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much Governor, appreciate it.

Thank you --

BELL: Can I say one thing?


BELL: You know, I hate that the day we are today, you know, I'd like to thank our veterans. I mean, that's what we should be focusing on. I hate this story has broken and I'd like to, you know, thank all our veterans out there for the sacrifice they make so we can be here and discussing these issues and other things we do --

[19:15:05] BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Thank you so much Mr. Bell, appreciate. Thank you both.

OutFront next, Roy Moore's biggest backer, Steve Bannon, about to speak live. If Moore doesn't survive, is Bannon and his crusade done, too?

Plus, Michael Flynn reportedly offered millions to abduct a Muslim clerk who lives in the United States. Flynn is speaking out.

And, a Republican U-turn, Mitch McConnell says he misspoke when he claimed that no one in the middle class would face a tax increase under the GOP plan. Oops.


BOLDUAN: Breaking news tonight, Senate GOP Nominee Roy Moore breaking his silence tonight, vehemently denying claims that he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. This coming as one of his most vocal supporter Steve Bannon is about to take the stage at this event right here in Charleston, South Carolina. The president's former chief strategist has already come to Moore's defense. Listen.


BANNON: The Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped that dime on Donald Trump is the same Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped the dime this afternoon on Judge Roy Moore. Now, is that a coincidence? That's what I mean when I say opposition party.


[19:20:03] BOLDUAN: But those comments add to the growing divide now among Republicans. Members of the establishment if you will slamming Bannon for backing candidates they say don't belong in Washington. Josh Holmes, Senator Mitch McConnell's former top aide saying this. We'll show you.

"This is what happens when you let reckless, incompetent idiots like Steve Bannon go out and recruit candidates who have absolutely no business running for the U.S. Senate."

OutFront now, Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York. Congressman, thanks so much for coming in.


BOLDUAN: What do you make of these allegations against Roy Moore tonight, and also his flat out denial?

ZELDIN: Well, pretty serious allegations if they're true. There shouldn't be any place for him in the United States Senate. I'm glad that Roy Moore is deciding to speak up. I'm sure there are a lot of people, most importantly in Alabama, who want to hear what he has to say. Whether it's his supporters or detractors or people who are undecided, trying to figure out how who to vote for.

But, you know, these are really serious allegations, and if true, there shouldn't be any business serving in the United States Senate or serving on a local school board.

BOLDUAN: What do you -- what more do you want to hear to know if it's true or not?

ZELDIN: Well, I mean, probably you know, the same thing that maybe, you know, you or anyone else would want. I mean, if there's any additional information, you could take that into consideration. Sometimes when, you know, if someone does an interview and they're answering questions, you can listen to the words that they have to say. You can get a read from, you know, tone or body language or how they might not be answering a particular question.

So, I think as, you know, Roy Moore answers those questions, a lot of people can get a better read on -- and be able to form an independent judgment. Most importantly, long before there being any -- if there was any further investigation into it in a criminal justice setting, long before that, you have Alabama voters who get to go to the polls and decide for themselves.

So, I would imagine over the course of the next month, they'll be able to come across a lot of more information and we'll be able to watch from our vantage point, too.

BOLDUAN: But I do want to know kind of what more information you're looking for. I mean, I'm sure you've read the story that it's four women on the record using their names. I mean, their faces are out there. The girl who was 14 years old at the time says that she was, what amounts to being sexually abused by a 32-year-old man. She is on the record.

Thirty people were interviewed as part of this. She also told two of her friends at the time that this had all gone down back then in 1979. What more information is there that you're looking for?

ZELDIN: I never said that it's not true. I never said that it definitely was. I mean, there's an allegation that took place. So I wouldn't want to be misunderstood.

What I just said was, if it's true, he shouldn't be elected by the Alabama voters to serve in the United States Senate. There shouldn't be any place for him to serve in the United States Senate. But, you know, I never said it wasn't true because I just don't know.

I mean -- and you have individuals, multiple individuals coming forward with serious allegations. So, you know, again, I wouldn't want that to be mistaken in any uncertain terms. I never said that it wasn't true.

BOLDUAN: Do you think he should be a United States senator?

ZELDIN: That's up to the Alabama voters. I will say that if Alabama voters --

BOLDUAN: Do you think -- do you want to work with a Senator Roy Moore?

ZELDIN: If I would not want to work with a senator or anyone if they were responsible for what these allegations are coming out. And I don't know if there are any more allegations that will come out in light of the story, but I would not want to serve with anyone who would be responsible for any type of conduct like what these allegations against him said. BOLDUAN: Well, you said more information could come out. One of things that came out tonight in this interview, this is the other allegation. The 14-year-old is talking about being sexually abused. She also talked -- these are three other women say they had romantic relationships with him at the ages of 16, 17 and 18. Roy Moore was asked about that tonight. This is what he said.


SEAN HANNITY, THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW HOST: Do you remember dating girls that young at that time?

MOORE: Not generally, no. If I did, you know, I'm not going to dispute anything, but I don't remember anything like that.

HANNITY: Would it be normal behavior back in those days for you to date a girl that's 17 or 18.?

MOORE: No, not normal.

HANNITY: You can say unequivocally, you never dated anybody that was in their late teens like that when you were 32?

MOORE: It would've been out my customary behavior, that's right.

HANNITY: In other words, you don't recall ever dating any girl that young when you were that old.

[19:25:01] MOORE: I've said no.


BOLDUAN: Congressman, we don't all have great memories, but is that a strange way to say no? Is it not?

ZELDIN: In New York, you know, our laws are different. I mean, it's not even -- you know, in Alabama where you could date someone who might be 16 years old, you know when you're in your 30s.

BOLDUAN: Just in general, Congressman.

ZELDIN: That's not even legal.

BOLDUAN: Right. But in general, do you think a 32-year-old man should be dating a 16-year-old girl?

ZELDIN: No. Absolutely not. And as the father of two 11-year-old girls, I would say -- and I don't want my girls to be dating anyone when they're 40. But that's my problem. I have to figure out at home and mentor my two little ladies there.

But, no. Absolutely not.

BOLDUAN: Mike Lee has pull his endorsement. He says that he doesn't need to hear any more. Are you -- why are you not to a place where you can say definitively if you can back him or not. Just one way or the other?

ZELDIN: I've never backed him.

BOLDUAN: I wasn't saying.


BOLDUAN: A lot of people have not -- a lot of people are choosing sides now.

ZELDIN: Yes. Sure. I don't know. I haven't been involved in a primary. Hadn't been paying attention to it.

I have never endorsed Roy Moore. So, I don't even have an endorsement to pull unlike, you know, as you're, you know, mentioning Senator Lee and others, but I actually never endorsed Roy Moore for the primary or the general.

BOLDUAN: Congressman Lee Zeldin, thanks for coming on. We'll see if more information comes out and let you come back to discuss.

ZELDIN: OK, take care.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

OutFront next, an explosive report about alleged plot to abduct a Muslim cleric and get him out of this country. At the center of it, reportedly, Michael Flynn who is fighting back tonight.

And, check this out, President Putin and the powerful Russian billionaire side by side today at the summit in Vietnam. He is not just any oligarch. He's connected to Paul Manafort and we asked him about that.


[19:30:37] BOLDUAN: Breaking news: Trump's fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, issuing an angry denial. He's responding to a report in "The Wall Street Journal" that Flynn and his son were allegedly offered as much $15 million to abduct a Muslim cleric from the United States who is wanted in Turkey. "The Journal" also reports the plot involved transferring the cleric to a Turkish island prison. Flynn's lawyers call the report outrageous and prejudicial.

Michelle Kosinski is OUTFRONT with the breaking details.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After Michael Flynn had been named national security adviser weeks before the inauguration, "Wall Street Journal" now reports he met with representatives of Turkey at New York's 21 Club.

Flynn and his son were allegedly offered as much as $15 million to forcibly get a Turkish cleric named Fetullah Gulen out of the United States. The Turkish government blames Gulen for the coup attempt there last year and he's been fixated on pressuring the U.S. to extradite him, which so far hasn't worked.

This plan, according to "The Journal's" report, was to remove Gulen, who's been living on a green card in Pennsylvania and denies involvement in the coup, get him on private plane and send him to a Turkish prison island.

JAMES GRIMALDI, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: There would be actually cash payments involved with his removal. With someone who at the time was working for the transition, had been nominated, then became the national security adviser. Before he was then fired by the president. So, yes, it's a pretty remarkable allegation that's being investigated by the FBI and being investigated rather seriously.

KOSINSKI: Attorneys for Flynn responded in a statement. Out of respect for the process of the various investigations regarding the 2016, we've intentionally avoided responding to every rumor or allegation raised in the media, but today's news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we're making an exception to our usual rule. They are false.

A lawyer for Flynn Jr. declined to comment.

It's unclear if any agreement was reached on the plan or any money changed hands, but former CIA Director James Woolsey had previously told CNN about another meeting with Turks that he heard part a month earlier in September 2016, again, to discuss how to remove Gulen outside the U.S. legal system, a conversation he calls deeply concerning.

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: But it looks as if there was at least some strong suggestion by the Americans present at the meeting to the Turks that we would be able, the United States would be able through them, to get hold of Gulen.

KOSINSKI: At the time, Flynn's spokesman vehemently denied any such decision happened. Flynn and son are also under investigation for not disclosing lobbying work they did for Turkey during the campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Election Day. I'm excited.

KOSINSKI: On Election Day, Flynn Sr. wrote an op-ed in "The Hill", making a case for extraditing Gulen, calling him shady. The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gulen who's running a scam.


KOSINSKI: What's being alleged at this point are discussions, at least two of them, but participating in a plan like this, according to experts, could constitute a serious crime for a number of reasons and, of course, it also raises a question, who else might have known about these discussions, might have been involved with them and why.

And very, recently, CNN's Fareed Zakaria sat down with the Turkish prime minister. He denied that Flynn made any kind of reassurances about extraditing Gulen and he denied that they were even dealing with Flynn on this -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

OUTFRONT with me now, David Gergen, former adviser to four presidents, Juliette Kayyem, a CNN national security analyst, and Richard Painter, former ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush White House.

Thank you so much all for being here.

Juliette, first to you, this man is a legal U.S. resident. What would it mean if the president's adviser was part of a plot to forcibly remove anyone like that from the country?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETASRY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, it depend on the specifics of what Flynn's behavior might have been and when it occurred. And that's significant.

So, beforehand, before he would have been national security adviser, he would be sort of guilty of kidnapping, to pay to get someone out of the country.

But "The Wall Street Journal" story, it's unclear whether what they were talking about was some sort of extradition or some influence that Flynn would have used as national security adviser because remember, he's already been picked as national security adviser, so that once he's in, this would be a priority.

[19:35:11] On that point, I have to say Flynn is his own worst enemy because on the day of the inauguration, of all the issues that the national security adviser has to deal with, he decided to write an editorial on this issue? I mean, of all the issues this country is confronting, making him suggest that at least the Turks had his ear about getting rid of the cleric from the United States.

BOLDUAN: Richard, what part of this is worse or troubling for Michael Flynn? Allegedly hearing out a plot to forcibly remove the U.S. president, or being offered millions of dollars to do it?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER FOR RPESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I mean, both are crimes. I mean, kidnapping is a crime. It's also a crime to accept a bribe, to accept cash in return for official action. It's also a crime to participate in any United States government matter in which you have a financial interest under 18 United Sates Code 208.

It's furthermore a crime to lie about his relationship with Turkey or Russia on the financial disclosure form and to lie about money he received. If he did that, and furthermore, he must have been asked a lot of questions in connection with the security clearance and is becoming head of the National Security Council and a lie on those forms is a criminal offense, 18 United States U.S. Code 1001, false statements.

He's got a lot of problems and this is in "The Wall Street journal," not some left wing rag. This is "Wall Street Journal" investigative reporting. And I don't know what the truth is, but it sounds like there's something here and he's obviously in the sights of Robert Mueller and maybe he's cutting a deal right now, I have no idea what's going on.

BOLDUAN: Well, David, on the point of the trouble that he's facing, Flynn has been pretty much silent since the beginning of all these investigations that he's been caught up in. Tonight, his attorneys, though, broke that silence and they say that the claims are outrageous and prejudicial and false. What do you make of that?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, I'm not sure we should make much of it. They're making an argument that the allegations themselves that there was a plan and he was part of a plan for kidnapping and $15 million. What they are not denying is that Robert Mueller is investigating this and pursuing it as a potential set of crimes. And his lawyer has not denied it.

What is striking about this is that he had this earlier meeting in September, as Juliette pointed out, and in which Jim Woolsey, former CIA director, a man with a record for integrity, was invited to the meeting. Left very concerned. Basically, eventually left all together in the transition.

But Jim Woolsey said at the meeting, it was the American side in September that suggested there could be ways to get this man out of the country, suggesting in other words that they have means of doing that. And based on that, to have a second meeting after he's named national security adviser, knowing he's taken half a million dollars from the Turks already for whatever services he performed, I can't, with such a blunder and so stupid, you have to think, well, if he did it, maybe he thought he could get away with it.

BOLDUAN: Juliette --

GERGEN: Here's the other thing, though.

BOLDUAN: OK, go ahead, David.

GERGEN: I do think -- let me just make one other point. And that is, it seems to me what Mueller is doing is finding a lever that can get to the real story he wants to know and that is about the election.

BOLDUAN: Right, because this has nothing to do with Russia.

GERGEN: If he's got enough evidence, he can squeeze him -- he can squeeze him on this, which is a very smart thing to be able to do.

BOLDUAN: Juliette, ultimately, Flynn was fired. He's gone, right? Does this -- does this whole, the issue we're talking about with Gulen and the kidnapping or whatever, does this still pose a problem for the administration?

KAYYEM: Yes, because I actually think this story is about Donald Trump, because remember, it is about Flynn that the Comey firing sort of starts to unravel. Remember just taking people back. Comey is told by President Trump and this was you know reported at the time, President Trump tells him he's a great guy, he's a great guy. You know, don't do anything with him. This is after Flynn's gone.

And then, you have those allegiance questions, and then Comey is fired. So, if the question that Mueller is looking at is obstruction of justice of the totality of the allegations that are going on right now, Flynn is very relevant because Flynn is linked to the Comey firing. So, I actually think this story has as much to do with Trump as it has to do with the Turks or Flynn at this stage.

And that's got to scare Trump and the people around him at this stage.

BOLDUAN: On this specific story, on this specific story, Richard, from an ethics standpoint, if the discussion of a plot didn't go anywhere, was there any wrongdoing?

[19:40:06] PAINTER: Well, conspiring to kidnap people. We're also talking about accepting bribes. It means talking about getting cash and going into the administration and pushing for the extradition of a man who a country where he might face imprisonment or death. That is a serious crime.

And furthermore, I believe that General Flynn lied about his contacts with the Turkish government and with the Russian government in his disclosure forms and in interviews. He was fired for lying and we need to have some sense of decency and respect for the rule of law in this country.

And that's what we see in the past week. People collaborated with the Russians, lying about it. People think it's OK for 32-year-old man to have sex with 14-year-old girls. And now, we have someone who is conspiring to kidnap and that's been reported in "The Wall Street Journal."

You know, conspiring to kidnap someone or use his influence inside the government for money, on behalf of a foreign agent. We had a foreign agent at the very top of our national security council. Very, very sad.

BOLDUAN: I want to make just one clarification. There is no allegation that -- when you're referring to the 32-year-old Roy Moore, that he had sex with any 14-year-old, any 14-year-old --

PAINTER: I know, but people are saying that it's OK. People are saying that it's OK and his defenders are saying it's OK, and that is unacceptable in this country.

BOLDUAN: But is it important that we -- no matter where you stand, OK or not, that we get the facts right on what is being alleged in that case.

PAINTER: We don't know what happened, but it is not OK to say and to justify that --

BOLDUAN: I'm going to stick with "The Washington Post". "The Washington Post", we know as I've reported, where it stands.

But anyway, thank you all very much and very much appreciated. KAYYEM: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, the Russian billionaire with ties to Paul Manafort at Vladimir Putin's side today. CNN caught up with the powerful oligarch and asked about his relationship with Trump's former campaign chairman. You don't want to miss this.

And Mitch McConnell promised no one in the middle class would get a tax increase under the Republican's new tax plan. Now, he says he quote, misspoke. What does that mean for you?


[19:45:49] BOLDUAN: New tonight, a CNN exclusive: one of Russia's wealthiest businessmen with ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was by Vladimir Putin's side today. He is Oleg Deripaska, and tonight, he faces growing questions amid the Russia investigation here in the U.S.

Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arriving at the APEC summit, Oleg Deripaska walked side by side with the Russian president. A sign of how close he is to Vladimir Putin. And a reminder of why Deripaska's business relationship with Paul Manafort --

REPORTER: Mr. Manafort, did you commit a crime?

CHANCE: -- Trump's now indicted former campaign chairman. He's so controversial.

(on camera): Mr. Deripaska, it's Matthew Chance from CNN. Is it true Mr. Manafort owed you millions of dollars when he was head of the Trump campaign? Mr. Deripaska? Did he offer you these private meetings so he could try and repay that debt?

(voice-over): He clearly doesn't like it, but his connections with Manafort have trust this magnate into the spotlight. Oleg Deripaska made his fortune in the metal ore industry. And the collapse of the Soviet Union, at one point, he was Russia's richest man.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: How did you get there so quickly? I think that's why they say there's got to be something shady here. How did it happen?

OLEG DERIPASKA, RUSSIAN OLIGARCH: You're just need to be prepared to work for 15 hours a day, and take responsibility on a lot of things.

CHANCE: Deripaska's rocky relationship with Paul Manafort began more than a decade ago. One of their ventures was a plan to invest in Ukraine. Deripaska sent Manafort millions of dollars to buy a telecommunications firm according to court documents. But by 2014, the deal had broken down and Deripaska wanted to know

where all his money had gone. In a court petition filed in the Cayman Islands to retrieve the cash, Deripaska's lawyer said it appeared Manafort had simply disappeared. The court documents also named several shell companies controlled by Manafort into which cash from Deripaska he said to have been paid, raising concerns that Manafort was heavily in debt to the Russian oligarch.

Those same shell companies appear in the recent Mueller indictments which asserts they were also among those used by Manafort to launder money and conceal his work for pro-Russia figures in Ukraine. There are also concerns about more recent contacts between Manafort and Deripaska.

A spokeswoman for the Russian billionaire has rejected allegations first reported by "The Washington Post" that Manafort offered Deripaska private briefings while he was Trump's campaign chairman. Mr. Deripaska never received any communication, she told CNN.

Manafort's spokesman told "The Post" any briefing offered would have been routine, but that no briefings ever took place. But the reports have fueled speculation of secret contacts. Between the Trump team and Russians with close Kremlin ties, which the Trump team denied.

(on camera): Were you ever a secret back channel from the Kremlin to the Trump campaign, Mr. Deripaska? Mr. Deripaska, why won't you answer the questions?

We tried to get an interview with you, sir, and you keep walking away.

(voice-over): Deripaska's ties to the Kremlin have at times seems strange. At the height of the global financial crisis, President Putin publicly scolded the billionaire, impartially tossing him a pen as he ordered him to pay his workers.

But Russia also issued Deripaska with a diplomatic passport the years he was refused a visa to the United States over concerns, according to one former U.S. official involved in the process, about his alleged links to organized crime, money laundering and financial fraud.

His spokeswoman told CNN that Deripaska has, quote, never been convicted or accused of any crime anywhere in the world. But she added, he does confess to the currently serious crime of being Russian.

[19:50:04] (on camera): It's a big issue in the United States, sir. Did he offer you those private briefings to try and repay some of that debt to you? Is that why he offered them?

DERIPASKA: Get lost please. Thank you.


CHANCE: Kate, Oleg Deripaska being absolutely adamant that he did not want to ask any of these key questions that I put to him here in Da Nang, in Vietnam, on the sidelines of the APEC Summit. Off camera, though, he did say to me that he did not believe there was meddling by the Russians in the U.S. presidential election and he launched into more criticism about this network, about CNN, saying that, again, it was fake news and he did not trust the network at all.

Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Matthew, thank you for trying. Good to see you. Thank you.

OUTFRONT next: Mitch McConnell now says he misspoke when claiming nobody in the middle class will get a tax increase. So, what will the tab be then for the average taxpayer?

And President Trump may be far from the U.S. right now, but his food choices are very close to home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in Japan and he's eating hamburgers?



[19:55:26] BOLDUAN: Tonight, lots of promises for the middle class as Republicans begin to sell and pitch their tax plan. But is the sales job working?

Well, according to CNN's latest polling, only 21 percent of Americans feel that they'll be better off under the GOP plan.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT now. He's been looking at this.

So, Tom, there's good reasons you're saying for Americans to be concerned, because a lot of this plan has everything to do with location of course.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, yes. Take a look at the plan to get rid of the SALT deduction, the state and local tax deduction and you can see why.

Look, if you live in a place like South Dakota, where there aren't a lot of state and local taxes, then it's not such a big deal. But if you were to live in New York or New Jersey, or Connecticut, or California, where they can really add up, getting rid of this deduction matters. For example, look in Manhattan. If you live in New York City, in Manhattan, you might very well pay $25,000 a year in state and local taxes, which you deduct from your federal taxes and you save $7,000. If that goes way, you suffered a real hit here.

And, of course, you'll notice, this is happening mainly in blue states. That's why Democrats are pushing back so hard against this plan, Kate.

BOLDUAN: At the same time, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, he changes his tune today on what these cuts, all of these cuts mean for the middle class. Here's what he said just a few days ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: But at the end of day, nobody in the middle class is going to get a tax increase.


BOLDUAN: OK. Seems clear. Well, now, he's telling "The New York Times", Tom, that he misspoke and that this just today. You can't guarantee that absolutely no one sees a tax increase.

You've seen the same problem with Paul Ryan. Why are they struggling to try to pin this down right now?

FOREMAN: Because "nobody" is a dangerous word, and because -- look, the tax code is big and it's complicated and so is their plan. Take a look at what they want to do with the standard deduction out there. The standard deduction would go way up under this plan. For individuals, it will go from $6,350 to about $12,000. From married couples filing jointly, it will go from$12,700 to $24,000. Those are whopping jumps out there, and, yes, a lot of people may benefit from that change if they work it right.

But hold on a minute, at the same time in their plan, they want to do this, with the personal exemption. It's $4,000 for you, for your spouse, for your children, they want to do away with that. So, if that earlier thing gives you such an advantage that you don't care about losing this exemptions, that's fine. But let's say you have a couple more kids in here, that's $8,000 that you have to deal with.

And if that's going to hit you a different way, truthfully, Kate, you can wind up with a middle class family could be next to another middle class family, and one benefits and the other not so much.

BOLDUAN: No matter what, you still got to get the same page on what exactly it's going to look like.

Thank you so much, Tom. Great to see you.

FOREMAN: You're welcome.

Finally tonight, you know the old saying, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, unless you're President Trump in Japan.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump may have moved on from Japan but he left behind a sizzling culinary star, a burger blessed by the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in Japan and he's eating hamburgers.

MOOS: Japan's prime minister ate one with him at a golf club before the two men teed off. The Japanese prime minister tweeted a photo of the burger bromance that included Heinz ketchup saying, we're getting down to business right away over hamburgers.

But the business that boomed was Munch's burger shack. Munch's posted on Facebook that it was an honor to serve President Trump, but warned customers of trouble due to congestion given their new popularity. And to think that when President Obama visited Japan, he and the prime minister ate at a legendary sushi restaurant where the meals ran up to 300 bucks. Trump's cheeseburger cost $10.50.

We all know the president loves his KFC and McDonald's. He even did a McDonald's commercial.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A big and tasty for just a dollar?

MOOS: Now, he's inadvertently advertising Japanese burger joint.

(on camera): Will the Colby Jack cheeseburger end up being rechristened the Trump burger?

(on camera): The menu hasn't changed yet, but this was a happy meal for Munch's burger shack.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: The burger does look good though, you have to admit it.

Thanks all for joining us. Have a great weekend.

"AC360" starts right now.