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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes; Mueller Targets Flynn; Can Republican Senate Candidate Accused of Sexual Abuse Win Race?. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 10, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Wait until you hear how he responded to our questions.
And snapshot. President Trump is all smiles and handshakes with Vladimir Putin as they pose for a summit photo in matching shirts. So why aren't they able to get together and sit down for formal talks?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore public blasting bombshell allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, calling them completely false.
Moore trying to salvage his campaign in Alabama just a month before the special election. "The Washington Post" quotes a woman who says Moore initiated an illegal sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old and he was 32.
Tonight, the Senate GOP's campaign committee says it's ending an agreement to raise money for Moore. The White House and many Republicans are distancing themselves from Moore saying if the allegations prove true, he should withdraw from the race.
We're also following alarming new allegations involving President Trump's fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that Flynn and his son were allegedly offered as much as $15 million to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric from the United States and deliver him to Turkey. This special counsel's office is investigating.
And there's new intrigue tonight surrounding President Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin as they attend an economic summit in Asia. While the two leaders briefly chatted and shook hands during a group photo, the White House says they won't be holding formal one-on-one talks after all.
But the Kremlin suggests some kind of meeting may still be possible.
This hour, I will talk to Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. He's a member of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and specialists are standing by.
First, let's go to CNN's Martin Savidge tonight. He's in Alabama for us with the breaking news on the sexual abuse allegations against Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Martin, a very firm denial from Moore tonight?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf.
And there is no question that the allegations that have been made have shaken not just the state of Alabama, not just the supporters of Roy Moore, and not just his campaign, right at a time that it appeared they were on the way to winning, but it's also evident this evening it has shaken Roy Moore himself.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Roy Moore taking to conservative talk radio making a strong denial of the accusations leveled against him, including allegations of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in 1979, first reported by "The Washington Post."
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: These allegations are completely false and misleading. But more than that, 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 the young ladies. This is, this is really hard to get on radio and explain this, as these allegations are just completely false.
SAVIDGE: Moore says he has no recollection of his most serious accuser, Leigh Corfman, who says when she was 14 and Moore was 32, he undressed and sexually abused her.
MOORE: I don't know miss Corfman from anybody. I have never talked to her, never had any contact with her. Allegations of sexual misconduct with her are completely false.
SAVIDGE: One question looms: Should Moore continue of quit his quest for the U.S. Senate? Supporters and even fellow Republicans are divided.
TIM HUDDLESTON, ALABAMA RESIDENT: What is going to happen? Alabamans are going to vote, they will make a decision. They will likely end up sending him to the Senate. And if those allegations become true, he will be replaced. But the problem is whether they are true or not.
SAVIDGE: Moore is still finding support in his home state, but in Washington, where he's hoping to take over Jeff Sessions' Senate seat, more than a dozen GOP lawmakers are saying Moore should step down if the accusations are true.
SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: If they are true, he should step aside.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: If that's true, then I don't believe that there would be any place for him in the U.S. Senate. SAVIDGE: The political scandal even triggering reaction from
President Trump halfway around the world. Speaking on Air Force One between China and Vietnam, White House press secretary, spokesperson Sarah Sanders first giving the impression Trump was supporting Moore.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person's life.
SAVIDGE: But on the very next line, Sanders repeating an increasingly heard theme.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.
SAVIDGE: Moore himself is showing absolutely no indication of quitting. In a phone interview, Moore's brother says his brother's accusers are either being paid or supporting Moore's Democratic opponent, then comparing his brother's political problems to the persecution of Jesus Christ.
But the question remains, are the shocking accusations impacting Alabama voters? It depends on who you talk to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was already voting for Doug Jones just for other reasons, so it wouldn't change my vote. But I think it would change others' votes, if they're true, I would hope.
SAVIDGE: That is the real question many people, voters, it seems, are asking themselves, are these allegations true or not?
Those who know Moore will tell you these things for certain, he's not going to quit, he won't back down. They definitely don't expect the state GOP to intervene in my way. And they do expect that Roy Moore will be the next senator for Alabama -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Just getting a statement, Martin, from Senator Mike Lee he just issued. He's a Republican senator from Utah: "Having read the detailed description of the incidents, as well as the response from Judge Moore and his campaign, I can no longer endorse his candidacy for the U.S. Senate."
Lots of Republican senators saying, if the allegations are true, if the allegations are true, he will, if the allegations are true, they say that he should drop out of the race.
But Mike Lee now saying flatly, flatly, that he should drop out of this race, he cannot endorse him for the Senate. John McCain similarly said that earlier. And Montana Senator Steve Daines also saying he should drop out, step aside. The numbers are clearly growing, Martin, in the U.S. Senate among
Republicans. We will see if that has an impact on the Senate candidate.
We are going to have much more on this story coming up.
I want to get to the new allegations right now involving the fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
We're joined by our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown.
You're getting new information, Pamela. What is the latest?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
Tonight, we are learning more about an alleged plot that Flynn and his son were involved in with Turkish officials in exchange for millions of dollars just before Flynn took on the role of national security adviser.
BROWN (voice-over): It's a bombshell allegation: Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr. were offered up to $15 million to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric living in the U.S., according to "The Wall Street Journal."
CNN has learned special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the Flynns' role in this alleged plot. "The Wall Street Journal" reports the FBI has already questioned several people regarding a meeting between the Flynns and Turkish government representatives in mid- December at the 21 Club in Manhattan.
At the time, Flynn was just weeks away from starting his new role as Donald Trump's national security adviser.
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The next president of the United States right here!
BROWN: In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria conducted before "The Wall Street Journal" story broke and airing Sunday on "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," the Turkish prime minister denies any deals were ever made with Flynn, but hoped Flynn's previous work for the Turkish government would help him win an extradition.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Had Michael Flynn provided you with any assurance it would happen?
BINALI YILDIRIM, TURKISH PRIME MINISTER: No, no, no. No one has. We are not dealing with Michael Flynn. We are dealing with the government of United States.
ZAKARIA: But he was national security adviser.
YILDIRIM: And after that, he left. BROWN: At this point, it's not known if a deal was reached or whether
money was exchanged for this proposed plan of forced extradition.
The December meeting follows revelations of related discussions months before and during the campaign. Former CIA Director James Woolsey was part of a meeting in September with Flynn and Turkish officials about potential ways to get a rival of Turkish President Erdogan back to Turkey to face charges.
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: There was at least some strong suggestion by the -- one or more of 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.
BROWN: At the time, a spokesman for Flynn denied there were any talks about physically removing, Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric leader and a legal permanent member of the U.S.
Erdogan blamed failed militant coup attempt in July last year on Gulen, who has been living in exile at this compound in Pennsylvania.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Extradite this man in Pennsylvania to Turkey. If we are strategic partners or model partners, do what is necessary.
BROWN: And tonight Flynn's attorney, Robert Kelner, released a statement saying: "Out of respect for the process of the various investigations regarding the 2016 campaign, we have intentionally avoided responding to every rumor or allegation raise 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 are making an exception to our usual rule. They are false."
Michael Flynn Jr.'s attorney has not provided a response.
And we should also mention, Wolf, that Flynn is also in hot water for not disclosing his lobbying activities for the Turkish government. He retroactively registered as a foreign agent.
BLITZER: And he got, what, $500,000 for that initial work.
BROWN: A lot of money.
BLITZER: Yes. OK, thanks very much for that, Pamela Brown, reporting.
Tonight, CNN has caught up with an elusive billionaire and power broker with links to the Russia investigation.
We're joined by our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit in Vietnam right now. Matthew, you had a chance to speak with this Russian oligarch who has
ties to Vladimir Putin and to the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, now under indictment. What happened?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, he didn't want to speak to us, Wolf, but he arrived at the APEC summit here in Da Nang in Vietnam shoulder to shoulder with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
They walked into the hotel where we were waiting for Mr. Putin, in fact, to have a meeting with various other leaders from the Asia- Pacific region. And I ended up standing next to Oleg Deripaska, and so I took the opportunity to throw some of those key questions at him about his relationship with Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: It's Matthew Chance from CNN.
Is it true that Mr. Manafort owed you millions of dollars when he was the -- when he was the head of the Trump campaign?
Mr. Deripaska, did he offer you these private meetings so that he could try and repay that debt? Were you 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 properly, sir, and you keep walking away.
Did Manafort owe you millions of dollars when he was the head of the Trump campaign?
OLEG DERIPASKA, RUSSIAN OLIGARCH: Fake news.
CHANCE: It's the real news. We just want the real truth.
Did he owe you millions of dollars?
DERIPASKA: It's the news for idiots, if you don't understand.
CHANCE: Did he offer those private briefings to you as a way to try and repay that debt, Mr. Deripaska? Can you just answer me that, please? 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: A pretty adamant refusal there by Oleg Deripaska, that Russian oligarch, to answer any further questions.
Just after that, Wolf, off-camera, he told me that there was no meddling in the U.S. election from the Russian side, and that CNN was fake news, both words we have heard expressed, of course, many times in the United States.
BLITZER: Good try, Matthew. Excellent work. He clearly did not want to speak. He's not very comfortable by that, even though his English is very good, clearly.
All right, Matthew, thanks very much, Matthew Chance reporting for us from that economic summit in Vietnam.
Let's talk more about this with Congressman Jim Himes. He's a key Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Good evening, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, you just saw that Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. You saw him avoid our reporter, Matthew Chance, who repeatedly tried to talk to him, ask him serious questions.
Is this someone your committee, this oligarch, is someone your committee would like to talk to?
HIMES: Yes, sure is.
In fact, I was admiring your reporter's ability to get that close and to ask some questions, because he -- my committee, the Intelligence Committee, he is a key figure with relationships with Paul Manafort. We would love to have the opportunity to get him testifying under oath.
Of course, as a non-U.S. national who doesn't come around the U.S. all that often, it's unlikely we're going to get that chance.
BLITZER: Why do you think this oligarch allegedly forgave Paul Manafort, who was the campaign chairman for the Trump campaign, now indicted by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, he forgave a $19 million loan to Manafort?
HIMES: Yes, I mean, that's one of the questions that we would love to ask.
I mean, one person's loan forgiveness is another person's bribe. And so, when that kind of value moves around, you really want to know what is being what is being promised or what is being done on the other side of it.
And, as I said, you know, of all of the many Russian oligarchs whose names come up, Deripaska is one who seems to be in this nexus with the Trump campaign because of his relationship with Paul Manafort,.
Look, it's quite possible that there's no connection, that that was not an avenue of collusion. If that is true, it would be wonderful if he would answer those questions. And I would think that perhaps he might be even eager to answer those questions, if, in fact, that were true.
BLITZER: Well, let's see if you get a chance to ask him those questions.
Let's turn to some developments in the Russia investigation.
"The Wall Street Journal," as you know, reporting that the special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating an alleged plan from Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr., who was one of his father's advisers, by the way, they worked together.
"The Journal" reports they were offered $15 million to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric from Turkey, Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania, and return him back to the Turkish government.
Gulen is accused of being involved in a 2016 coup against the Turkish government, accused by the Turkish government there. You're a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Have you been briefed on this? What can you tell us?
HIMES: We have not been briefed on this in particular.
And it's important you know, Wolf, and that everybody know that the Mueller investigation, which is the investigation that will and has undertaken indictments, that has, you know, pursued the criminal side of this, and if these allegations are true -- and, of course, they are allegations -- if the allegations are true, that represents any number of possible criminal violations.
The Mueller investigation is not briefing the congressional investigation, which is as it should be. And so, no, we have not received this briefing.
But I have to be -- just as an interested observer, I'm sort of interested in the fact that this information was made public to "The Wall Street Journal." Mueller's investigation has not generally been leaky.
And, in fact, when things have come out, it has usually presaged or predicted activity like the announcement of the George Papadopoulos guilty plea and, of course, the indictment of Paul Manafort and his business partner.
So the fact that this information got out is in and of itself somewhat interesting.
BLITZER: And just flesh that out for a moment. You think it was deliberate to do what?
HIMES: Well, you know, if you look back over the last couple of months or so, the public became aware of the no-knock entry into Paul Manafort's apartment, and then became aware of the ultimate indictment of Paul Manafort several days before that indictment was actually unsealed.
And so, one possibility, and this is a possibility, it's not anything I know, is that Mueller is using this kind of a statement to apply pressure on somebody for some reason. Again, I just observe that the FBI investigation really has not been leaky and this information is out there.
And it puts -- I have to be -- your story cited former CIA Director James Woolsey, saying that he recalled a meeting prior to the election in which this came up. And, of course, the Flynn side has denied that. Michael Flynn, of course, having lost his job for having lied to the vice president, amongst others, and James Woolsey, as a former director of the CIA, I certainly know who I would be likely to believe in that situation.
BLITZER: Michael Flynn Sr. did meet with Turkish representatives both before he was named national security adviser and he had another meeting after he was formally named national security adviser during the transition before he started his role after the president took office.
But do you know, Congressman, if those are the only two meetings he had with Turkish representatives?
HIMES: I don't know.
And I'm not sure that anybody could know, meaning, you know, it's quite possible there were other meetings out there that aren't reported. So, no, I don't know.
What I do know is that meetings at which a non -- before the president became the president, if there was a discussion with Turkish government representatives of something like this, quite apart from the obvious charge of kidnapping, we do try in this country try to run one government at a time.
And there have been a number of instances associated with Michael Flynn where there were discussions or at least alleged discussions with officials of foreign governments about what might happen next. That's not appropriate.
Of course, if these discussions happened after Donald Trump became president, while Michael Flynn was national security adviser, this sort of takes me back to the days of Oliver North, when, you know, people associated with the White House and the National Security Council and national security adviser were sort of freelancing foreign policy outside of the usual channels, the channels of extradition, the channels of the State Department.
So this raises a lot of questions. And again, it is a leak. It is an allegation by "The Wall Street Journal." So an awful lot of people will want to know where this goes.
BLITZER: All right.
As you know, President Trump's former security chief, Keith Schiller, he testified before your committee, the House Intelligence Committee, this week. And since then, we learned that as part of that testimony, Schiller said that during Trump's 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant, Russians offered to send five women to his hotel room.
Schiller declined and waited outside Trump's room for a little bit, but then left. He testified that he thought the whole thing was a joke.
Did you get that impression that it was all a joke?
HIMES: Well, first, I wasn't in that part of the testimony.
Even if I had been, though, Wolf, these leaks outside of the investigation are not helpful to our cause. So, again, I couldn't confirm that for you because I wasn't in the room.
But it is disappointing that this kind of information is getting out there, because, of course, we want witnesses to be totally forthcoming with the investigation. And in as much information gets out there, it reduces the likelihood that we're going to get the volunteer cooperation of witnesses in this investigation.
BLITZER: Yes, fair point.
All right, Congressman Himes, I want you to stand by. We will resume our conversation, new developments unfolding right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with House Intelligence member Jim Himes..
We're following the breaking news, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore issuing an adamant new denial of sexual misconduct allegations.
Congressman, I want you to stand by.
I want to get a live report right now from Vietnam on the president's new encounter with Vladimir Putin and the prospects for them getting together again.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's traveling with the president in Vietnam.
The president is at the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit.
Jim, we saw President Trump and President Putin face-to-face today.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And the big question of this trip for President Trump on this day is,
will he or won't he have a formal sit-down meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin?
Earlier in the week, White House said the president expected to talk with Putin about North Korea. Now the world may see little more than just a photo-op of these two leaders.
ACOSTA (voice-over): After raising expectations of a critical meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC economic summit in Vietnam, the two men only make time for this, a quick group photo with other world leaders.
The White House says both sides are running into trouble finding time for a meeting. As a frustrated Kremlin spokesman put it: "In theory, they could travel to Mars together tonight. Life is a bit different. Let's wait and see."
Administration officials who had said the president wanted to call on Putin to ramp up the pressure on North Korea are now hedging their bets.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Clearly, the leaders are going to be at the summit together. It wouldn't be at all unusual if they ended up with some kind of a pull-aside. The question is whether we have got sufficient substance.
ACOSTA: But a meeting with Putin would also highlight a mushrooming political problem for the president back home, the Russia investigation.
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: That, I think, is keeping President Trump from formally having a meeting, because he's going to have to talk about that to the press, and he may not want to upset President Putin, because he's going to have to be strong.
ACOSTA: Overshadowed by events back in the U.S. throughout the trip, from the Texas shooting, to the Virginia election defeat for the GOP, and now the Roy Moore allegations, the president is trying to change the subject, continuing his calls for Fair trade deals.
But even on this winning issue with his base, the president is changing his tune, all but forgiving China for its trading practices.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The current trade imbalance is unacceptable. I do not blame China or any other country, of which there are many, for taking advantage of the United States on trade. If their representatives are able to get away with it, they are just doing their jobs.
ACOSTA: That's a far cry from how he blasted China in the past.
TRUMP: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what they're doing. It's the greatest theft in the history of the world.
ACOSTA: The president vowed he would be tougher on trade than his predecessors, though he didn't lay out exactly how.
TRUMP: We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.
ACOSTA: The president paid tribute to Vietnam War veterans who gathered in Da Nang, where Mr. Trump remembered the sacrifices made at this once crucial battleground, touting his administration's efforts to build up the U.S. military.
TRUMP: I got to know them for a few minutes up front. And they are definitely tough, smart cookies. We like them. I think they like me, too. I'm not sure, but I think -- no, I think they do. I think they do. I think they see what we're doing for our military.
ACOSTA: And at this point, the White House is all but ruling out the chances of a meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders said reports of a sit-down were -- quote -- "wrong." And asked for an explanation, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, blamed the -- quote -- "pencil pushers" working for President Trump.
So, it seems, Wolf, the Kremlin wants a meeting, the White House doesn't -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We will see what happens. All right, Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Let's get back to Congressman Jim Himes.
Were you surprised, Congressman, that President Trump did not meet formally with Putin, at least so far, in Da Nang, as had been so widely expected?
HIMES: No, I'm not really surprised.
[18:30:01] I mean, remember, Wolf, these big public meetings are done for public consumption, right? If we have something that is real, that is problematic, that needs to be negotiated, these don't happen at big formal presentation-oriented meetings with the press there. That happens because you want to send the signal that a negotiation has succeeded, that there is actually progress being made.
I'm not sure that at this moment in time coming on the heels of the Manafort indictment and the guilty plea by George Papadopoulos, and the story -- I'm not sure that it serves the president politically, particularly well to be photographed sitting next to Vladimir Putin or to be, you know, to have to listen to the shouted questions from the press that undoubtedly would accompany that meeting. So, no, I'm not surprised that this is not going to happen.
BLITZER: But there are some major issues on the national security front. The U.S. is interested in getting Russia's help in dealing with North Korea, in Syria, in Ukraine, Crimea and certainly, I don't know if the president will raise it, if they were to have a meeting, Russian involvement meddling in the U.S. presidential election. These are important issues.
HIMES: Yes, and they may be discussed behind closed doors because that's the way those things, when they happen in a real way, usually, are discussed. Again, these big public meetings are usually done mainly to send a signal to the public. I'm not sure it is in the president's political interest to be photographed sitting next to Vladimir Putin right now.
You know, and look, yes, there's lots of things we need there, we need Russian cooperation on, the ones, the ones you listed. You know, whether this president is willing to push Vladimir Putin on those things, or, you know, bizarrely, one of the strange things where we are today. Or to push Vladimir Putin on what most Americans know to be true, which is that he's meddling in other people's democratic elections, not just ours, but the Germans and others, it's sort of hard to see that happening.
BLITZER: Congressman Himes, thanks for joining us.
HIMES: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore answers allegations of sexual misconduct and denies he abused a 14- year-old girl when he was in his 30s. But is the GOP cutting ties with him?
And a bombshell claim that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was offered $15 million to abduct a Muslim cleric living in the United States and to turn him over to turkey. What are his lawyers now saying?
[18:37:10] BLITZER: We are back with breaking news. Republican Senate Roy Moore publicly addressing sexual abuse allegations threatening to torpedo his campaign in Alabama. He's flatly denying any sexual misconduct. But two Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Steve Daines of Montana, just moments ago pulled their support for Moore.
"The Washington Post" is standing by its story that Moore initiated a relationship with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 years old, which would be illegal now and then.
Let's bring in our correspondents, analysts and specialists.
Mark Preston, it sounds as though Roy Moore based on this interview he gave Sean Hannity, conservative radio just a little while ago, he has no intention of dropping out. MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He has no intention of
dropping out. And not only are we hearing it from himself today, and we hear this today, we've heard this from his brother. Our own Martin Savidge spoke to his brother, and we've also seen folks around Alabama that have supported Roy Moore that have said they're going to stand behind him.
However, there's a couple scenarios that could play out right now, Wolf. If he decides to stay in, there's nothing in, he does win, if he wins now on December 12th, there's nothing the United States Senate can do to exclude him from entering the chamber. So, he would have to be sworn in.
What they could do, though, is allow him to be sworn in and then they could expel him if they got two-thirds majority to then kick him out of the chamber. If he does stay in the chamber, another way Mitch McConnell could punish him, is he could hold back all his committee assignments.
BLITZER: What are the chances of a write-in candidate like the current Senator Luther Strange?
PRESTON: It's a suicide mission, because there's just no way that person could win. But think of it this way, if -- if he were to get expelled from the Senate now, if Roy Moore were to get expelled, you could see Ivey, the Governor Ivey down in Alabama, could put Strange back into the Senate.
BLITZER: Very interesting.
You know, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has severed ties with Judge Moore right now, no fund-raising ties with him anymore. What's the impact up on Capitol Hill?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the biggest step that Republicans have taken yet in these last 24 hours to distance themselves from Roy Moore. And it's something that is tangible, right? It's a severed tie. And it is robbing him of essential fund-raising in the final weeks of the campaign.
This is a major vehicle, major muscle for the NRSC that could supply him essential money in the last few weeks. And again, we're only now about just over a month to the special election. So, that's an important thing for him.
BLITZER: So what are the options now, how do you see that this thing unfolding?
MATT VISER, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Well, Republican senators are in sort of a tricky spot, you know? And you'll notice a lot of them are saying, if these allegations are true. Sort of begging the question, what other information they would need to up their condemnation of this. And part of it gets at sort of the party loyalty over morality, and sort of if they're going to take a stand on morality.
And Mark was alluding to this, the party gets more fractured if you have a write-in candidate.
[18:40:03] So, you'll see people sort of sticking by him. You'll also see the close parallel with Todd Akin in 2012, where the party -- everybody distanced themselves from Todd Akin and his comments controversial, but the party funneled a million towards the end of the race.
BLITZER: Phil, I want you listen to Steve Bannon, the president's former chief strategist, talking about what has just happened in Alabama. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: But it's interesting. 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 is that a coincidence? That's what I mean when I say opposition party, right? It's purely part of the apparatus of the Democratic Party. They don't make any bones about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Phil, what's your reaction to that?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST : Drain the swamp, pump in the pond scum.
Let me tell you what we've got here, we're suggesting there's a liberal media bias against Republicans. Did you ever talk to Anthony Weiner, Republican -- pardon me, Democratic congressman from New York? How about the governor, Eliot Spitzer? How about going back in the day, a Democratic Party candidate, Gary Hart, most people won't remember, taken down by the media as a prominent Democratic candidate?
How about this guy we've called Bill Clinton? Crushed by the media because of and inappropriate relationship, in his case, with a mature woman outside the Oval Office.
If this is a suggestion that this is a party process biased against Republicans, I would say, number one, look at history. Number two is even more fundamental, we're suggesting within one day of this event that we favor party over person, that in history when we see multiple women suggest that a man did something wrong, that they're wrong. History tells us the women are right.
My suggestion would be simple, favor the person over a party and ask a simple question, do we have two, three, four days to let this settle, see what the story holds and hold your judgment on whether the liberal media attacked somebody, because it's a same liberal media who took down a governor, a congressman, a candidate and a president. I mean, I think that's appalling and the man -- he should vacation enough for ten days, that's not for that dude.
BLITZER: Which dude are you talking about?
MUDD: I'm talking about Steve Bannon. He needs to go away.
BLITZER: All right. Just want to make sure I have the right dude.
All right. Everybody, stand by.
There's more developments unfolding as we speak. We'll be right back.
[18:47:11] BLITZER: There's more breaking news this hour, Michael Flynn's attorney denying a report alleging that the former national security adviser to President Trump was offered $15 million to forcibly remove a cleric from the United States and ship him off to Turkey where he's wanted.
Let's discuss this.
Phil, this is a pretty amazing development right now. Michael Flynn Sr. and Jr., they are being investigated big time by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.
MUDD: And I think the questions are going to be too simplistic, that is, did he sell access to the oval office for money? I think the questions are subtle. And we have already seen those in the initial Mueller indictments, that's the special counsel's indictments that we saw a couple weeks ago.
Number one, did Michael Flynn have a financial relationship overseas that he did not declare to U.S. tax authorities? Did he have financial irregularities like we saw with Paul Manafort, with the Turks?
Number two, and this is where -- this gets really ugly because his son is involved. When you go into interviews with the FBI, director -- my Director Mueller, now former FBI director now the special counsel, has shown, if you lie to formal investigators, they'll throw a federal charge at you. That's called a thousand one violation, lying to federal officers.
When General Flynn and his son go in to speak, are they going to tell the truth about these relationships because if they don't, I guarantee you, Director Mueller is going to throw a federal violation at them for lying to a federal officer.
BLITZER: It's not directly related, these allegations involving Turkey, Mark, to the Russian investigation. But Mueller is moving very quickly deeply in this area.
PRESTON: Yes, and look, he has a pretty fantastic investigative team behind him, right?
This is why you don't see the special counsels very often, right? Because once you open that can of worms for the special counsel, you can basically investigate anything that is tangentially related. By the way, everything is always tangentially related. So, that's what the concern is. When they see something like this, as Phil is talking about and has
been reported at this point, it would be dereliction of duty for them not to follow. And by the way, even if it's true, putting the pressure on Flynn or putting pressure on Flynn son might get them to be more cooperative to get to where they're trying to go.
BLITZER: You know, Matt, he was only national security adviser for 28 days before he was ousted. Earlier, while he was a private citizen, the summer before, he did get $500,000 from the Turks, which he only disclosed after he was fired under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Then he disclosed that to the Justice Department.
VISER: Yes, and I think this $15 million that comes as an offer right before he takes the national security adviser position is the thing that they're -- he was that close to an allegation here.
BLITZER: He's already been named in the transition as the national security adviser to be once the president became president.
VISER: And I think, you know, we have seen this with Mueller, the ability to, you know, with Manafort, for example, put him in a dicey situation where he might offer something else up. That's the thing that the White House, I think, is most concerned about.
[18:50:02] They were worried that Flynn was going to be that first wave of indictments and he wasn't. So, I think that's the thing that's remaining out there, is what Flynn knows and what else he might know and what he can offer up.
BLITZER: I get the impression, Sunlen, you cover Capitol Hill for us, that yes, there's investigations going on the Senate side, the house side, but the real action, the real potential criminal action involves a special counsel, Robert Mueller.
SERFATY: It certainly is, and I think this really underscores how wide of a scope this all is and going back to Mark's point, you know, you have an investigation that they might be looking for one thing, but it could uncover something else. So, I think if you're in the White House, if you have anything to hide, you're shaking in your boots right now because you're realizing that they are being very thorough and every signal that they're sending is that they're looking at everything, not just on Russia.
BLITZER: Phil, you know, you used to work in the FBI and the CIA as well. There's a lot of suspicion out there, suspicion that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is squeezing Michael Flynn by going after his son as leverage to get Michael Flynn Sr. to talk.
MUDD: Let's look at one critical piece of timing. A few weeks ago, you have the special counsel Robert Mueller, whom I worked for, laid down a lying to a federal official charged against somebody in the Trump campaign circle. When you walk into an interview with Michael Flynn or his son, what are they thinking today? In this complex swirl of what happened during the campaign, they're thinking if I don't come up with the truth, what the counsel has told me is that he will lay a charge of lying on me. That's a charge that carries a federal, federal time in prison.
So, I think the timing of the initial indictments is critical to these conversations now with General Flynn and his son. They better tell the truth or else they're looking at what happened two weeks ago. Lying to a federal official charge, and that's five years or more.
BLITZER: Because I get the impression of that. I wonder if you do, that Mueller's investigation is really heating up right now following the two indictments the other day, and a guilty flee.
VISER: Yes. And you can tell that just by the public signs. And as we saw a week or so ago, how much privately Mueller is doing in only revealing, you know, with people who were cooperating who we don't yet know about.
So, I think there's a lot of activity going on. There's potential for more indictments and more interviews.
BLITZER: I'm sure the president is watching all this and his staff at the White House is reporting on it. They're all pretty nervous.
PRESTON: I think, right. And Sunlen said it. I mean, I -- if you're in the White House, if you had done something, even if it was very, very little, you are concerned at this point. I think what the president is thinking right now is, how do I telegraph the people that I will get them off? That if they are indicted, if they are convicted of something, how can I -- you know, can I go in and get them off. And I'm sure that's going through his mind.
BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There's more news we're following. Let's take another quick break. We'll be right back.
[18:57:28] BLITZER: CNN's Anthony Bourdain is serving up something very different this weekend. He's the executive producer of a fascinating look at America's first celebrity chef, Jeremiah Tower.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the master of ceremonies. He was the ring master, and he enjoyed being someone who could play host to the gathering of rich and powerful and important or self-important people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know he spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Got splatter with some food. He'd come walking out around the crowd shaking hands, saying hello, being Jeremiah, and I was just looking so (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Totally in control. And, of course, you loved that. You wanted to see him. You wanted to see who was touching your food, who's making it and who was directing the rest of the guys in the kitchen. I think Jeremiah was a celebrity chef. He was one of the first.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like a conductor walking through with an orchestra and that's what he would do. He usually had a glass of champagne in his hand and if he didn't, somebody brought it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Anthony Bourdain joins us now.
Tony, you were executive producer of this film. Tell us a little bit more about Jeremiah Tower. What made you to decide to take on this project?
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, JEREMIAH TOWER: Well, I was aware in my years as a chef, of course, I'd heard the name come up again and again and again in a very reverent way among fellow professionals. Years later, I read his memoir, "California Dish", and it made me angry and outraged that this clearly revolutionary figure, one of the founding figures in the new American cuisine, the American food revolution, a guy who changed everything about what we eat, how we eat, what restaurants look like, the role of the chef in today's society, that this man had ruled the world for a short while changed everything and then been largely and to a great extent, willfully written out of history and just disappeared.
BLITZER: Wow. I can't wait to see it. Good work as usual. We're looking forward to seeing "Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent" debuts right here on CNN Sunday, November 12th, 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Anthony, thanks so much for doing this.
BOURDAIN: My pleasure. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.