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Washington Post Publishes Article Detailing Accusations of Sexual Misconduct against Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore; Roy Moore Denies Charges of Sexual Misconduct; President Trump Claims Russian President Putin Denied Russian Interference in U.S. Election; Texas Church that Suffered Mass Shooting Reopens Doors. Aired 2-2:30a ET
Aired November 11, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- CNN Newsroom starts now.
Hello again everyone and thank you so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We're continuing to follow a major story this hour. Judge Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican running for a U.S. seat in the U.S. Senate, is fighting back against claims of sexual misconduct from nearly 40 years ago. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE, (R) ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: "The Washington Post" established, or published, rather, yet another attack on my character and reputation in a disparate attempt to stop my political campaign for the United States Senate. These attacks involve a minor, and they're completely false and untrue.
We get older, ladies sometimes put --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: That was Judge Moore's first public appearance since the scathing allegations surfaced claiming he assaulted a then 14-year-old girl decades ago when he was in his 30's. CNN's Alex Marquardt was at that event earlier today. So Alex, what more was said?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's trying to paint this as a liberal conspiracy spearheaded by "The Washington Post" to thwart his campaign in these final few weeks. He rejected any sort of sexual misconduct from these alleged events around 40 years ago. He's also saying that it's absolutely unbelievable that these allegations are coming out in these final few weeks and that they are from so long ago. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE, (R) ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I've been investigated more than any other person in this country. To think that grown women would wait 40 years to come before, right before an election, to bring charges is absolutely unbelievable.
MOORE: Why now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: Why now? That's what we're hearing from the Moore campaign, that's what we're hearing from the man himself.
To answer that question very simply these women didn't come forward on their own. They were found by "The Washington Post," and after a bit of time agreed to tell their stories.
We're also answers that question through one of the women herself. The lawyer for Gloria Deason, who is one the women named in that report, says today "Moore knows full well why these women did not tell what he did to him before this week. As young teenage girls in the late 1970s in a small rural southern town, they had no way of knowing their rights especially against him considering that he was a district attorney at the time. As he gained more power within the Alabama judiciary, they likely feared that he would publicly persecute them precisely as he has done this week."
Now, as these allegations have come to light, we are hearing more from the people who knew the women who are corroborating their stories. We're also learning more from people who knew Roy Moore at the time, specifically a woman named Teresa Jones who has spoken to CNN. She was a deputy district attorney at the time working alongside Jones. She tells CNN "It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls. Everyone we knew thought it was weird. We wondered why someone of his age would hang out at high school football games and at the mall. But you really wouldn't say anything to someone like that."
So we are learning more and more in the wake of this story. The big question, how will it affect Moore's campaign, how will it affect his supporters? Fred?
And during that event today, it was veteran's day event, but then Roy Moore, after commenting about those who served, had these remarks. You could also audibly hear people cheering him on, Alex, if you're able to hear me still. No, doesn't look like -- he's lost us. Thank you so much Alex Marquardt.
Let's talk about this with my panel. Tara Setmayer is a former communications director for Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and Jack Kingston is a CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to the Trump campaign. Good to see you both. So Jack, you first. I want to get your initial reaction to how Roy Moore overall is handling these allegations.
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think if he's innocent he's doing what an innocent person would be doing, which is going out front. Of course yesterday he was on a national radio show and then today he knew he had a national audience, and so he was forthcoming about it. I think he's going to have to continue that and he's going to have to
have his wife there. And he has witnesses on his side that he should bring them forward himself. But I also think, frankly, from a political standpoint, shifting it to this is a matter of politics, "Washington Post" is certainly not a pro-Republican publication and the timing is very suspect. And I think if he can convey, hey, listen, I'm going to go out there to fight the establishment. I'm going to go to Washington, D.C., and fight for you, and they don't want me there. I fought establishment people for 40 years and you know me. And you've known that I'm going to be a fighter, and if these allegations were true there's been plenty of opportunities to attack me in the last several decades, but it hasn't come forward. And I think politically --
[14:05:07] WHITFIELD: And he said that in his statement, that, you know, for these women to wait 40 years is unbelievable. He went through a litany of investigations that he has been part of from five statewide campaign, judicial investigations, controversies on religious liberties, et cetera. And so he was saying if ever there was anything, why wouldn't it come out sooner? So Tara, that is his -- you know, his best defense or that is part of his defense. Is that enough?
TARA SETMAYER, FORMER COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR, GOP CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER: No. I can't even believe that as a Republican, as a conservative, that I'm sitting here discussing and debating with other Republicans that are trying to excuse away the reprehensible behavior --
KINGSTON: Tara, that might be fine for you to say that but that's not true.
SETMAYER: Let me finish my statement, Jack.
WHITFIELD: Wait a second. Hold on a second, Jack, because you were just talking about going down --
KINGSTON: And I was talking about --
WHITFIELD: So now it's Tara's turn.
SETMAYER: You know, the truth hurts, so of course we're going to have this kind of reaction.
KINGSTON: Tara, that wasn't true. I answered the question of what Roy Moore should be doing plain and simple.
SETMAYER: Did I name you? I'm talking -- I'm speaking in general.
WHITFIELD: So now I want to hear what Tara has to say about this. Go ahead.
SETMAYER: Thank you. What I've seen over the last few days coming from people in Alabama, elected Republican officials in Alabama, others on this program, on this network, that have tried to go -- engage in political gymnastics to try to excuse away what Roy Moore is alleged to have done is really pathetic. I remember a time -- I've been around the Republican politics for over 20 years, and I remember a time when principled Republicans would not even allow mere allegations of moral deficiencies move forward. I remember when Mark Foley was run out of Congress for texting underage pages. I remember when Republicans didn't allow Chris Smith, they weren't happy with what he did when he texted pictures of himself without a shirt on. I remember --
KINGSTON: Chris Smith from New Jersey never did anything like that.
SETMAYER: Not that one.
KINGSTON: Let's get it right.
SETMAYER: So I remember --
KINGSTON: Chris Smith never did that.
SETMAYER: -- when Republicans were cheering on Steve Bannon and the Trump campaign when he paraded out women who had allegations against former president Bill Clinton and his behavior. So we're supposed to believe those people. But in this situation where you have a woman who has contemporaneous witnesses at the time that corroborate her story, "The Washington Post" did their due diligence, 30-plus people went on the record. We have more people now coming out who worked with Roy Moore in the last report who said that this was something that was well known.
The reason why these women are coming out now is because there's been a watershed moment in this country where women are starting to feel that they can safely come out and make these accusations against and discuss what happens to them against powerful men. With the Harvey Weinstein issue and what's going on in Hollywood, with what happened with others, that I think now they feel safety in numbers. That's why. They didn't come out. "The Washington Post" found them.
KINSTON: Let me say this.
WHITFIELD: All right, now Jack.
KINGSTON: Filibuster over. Let me say this, Tara, and I respect your right to come to the conclusion that he is guilty. The question asked of me was, what should Roy Moore do. And I prefaced my remarks, if he's innocent, he should do what he's doing. He should deny it and he should get witnesses on his side if he can find them. And that's plain and simple.
SETMAYER: So then, Jack why is it that there are some --
WHITFIELD: Why is it that -- your preface is that -- why is it that there are some members of Congress who are saying these allegations mean that he is not fit for office. You've got John McCain who said that, you've got Bob Corker who tweeted. Look I'm sorry but before these reports surfaced, Roy Moore's nomination was a bridge too far. So, you know --
WHITFIELD: Let the chips fall where they may.
KINGSTON: Well, as you know, politicians' first instinct is to protect their own politics, and some of that is going on. But I also think that they're very uncomfortable with what they've heard and what they've seen on the newspaper. And they absolutely have the right to come to that conclusion.
My point is if he's an innocent man, which I know doesn't mean much. Mitt Romney said innocent until proven guilty except in politics and then called for his resignation. There's a little bit of a circus going on, but I do think that he's got to go out there and give his side of the story.
[14:10:00] Now, not the first politician to be in that position, as you know. That's why we know the name wan neat Juanita Broaddrick and Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones. All this stuff has been there before. And people in public office, even people in public office, do have the right to defend themselves. And I think that's what he's got to do, and he needs to do it credibly.
SETMAYER: The fact that you're even comfortable with defending this, it's disturbing to me.
KINGSTON: There you go again, Tara.
SETMAYER: That's a double standard, Jack, because you have yet to come out and condemn this.
KINGSTON: Tara, there you go again. There you go again.
SETMAYER: You can try to use the Reagan line on me.
KINGSTON: What should he do?
SETMAYER: Are you -- I'm asking you. Are you comfortable with someone like this not -- it's not even this. He was unfit before with all those other problems, but are you comfortable with that?
KINGSTON: I note you're out there in California an expert of what's going on in Alabama.
SETMAYER: No, actually I'm right in New York. And I'm from New Jersey.
KINGSTON: New York. That's a lot better. But let me say this.
SETMAYER: I don't know what has to do with anything.
KINGSTON: He has been in -- I hope I'm not on trial with you, the judge. I'd love to see some evidence and some procedure discussion. SETMAYER: You'd better be glad you're never in a court of law against
KINGSTON: I'll keep my eye on you, Tara. Here's the question. This guy has been in elect the office for 40 years. I absolutely, positively know that there have been opportunities for people who have been aggrieved to step forward. During that period of time, the Alabama public, the Alabama constituents have gotten to know him. There has to be some trust level out there.
So he's accumulated good will. Now he's got to be able to use that good will to say these are false, and here's why. And frankly, if some of it is partially true, for example, if he went out with an 18- year-old, he could say I did go out with an 18-year-old. In fact I believe he said that, but he also said but I never served her alcohol. Something like that, people, OK, we'll buy that. But the people of Alabama in the court of public opinion are going to have to make this decision.
WHITFIELD: And they will decide in four-and-a-half weeks on December 12th. All right.
SETMAYER: Politics is a judgment call, it's not at court of law. Judgment in what people are looking at here, I'm sorry, but it doesn't look good for Roy Moore and people are still making excuses for him.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks to both of you, Tara Setmayer, Jack Kingston, appreciate it, thank you.
All right, President Trump again defying his own intelligence community, this time saying he believes Vladimir Putin's election meddling denials. We'll ask a former U.K. ambassador to Russia for reaction next.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. The CIA responding to President Trump who just said on his Asia trip that he beliefs Vladimir Putin election meddling denials. The agency releasing a statement after it was asked about the president's remarks. "The director stands by and has always stood by the January, 2017, intelligence committee assessment. The assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed," that on behalf of Mike Pompeo.
A Putin spokesperson originally denied that the two leaders, Putin and Trump, discussed the election while on this Asia trip, but then just not long ago the Kremlin reversed course, saying Putin told Trump that he, quote, "categorically rejected even the hypothetical possibility that Russia could somehow interfere in the election process."
Let me bring in Sir Andrew Wood. He is the former U.K. ambassador to Russia. Sir Andrew Wood, good to see you. Thanks so much for being with me. So what is your reaction when you hear a U.S. president take the word of the Russian president Putin over his own U.S. intelligence community's assessment that there was interfering in the U.S. election by Russia? SIR ANDREW WOOD, FORMER U.K. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: It's
extraordinarily hard to find a proper answer to that. Putin has a long record of lying, sometimes so boldly, one suppose he's having a laugh to himself. This occasion is one of them. He personally presumably was not operating the computers, and to that extent he wasn't involved, but obviously he's given coverage to those who were.
WHITFIELD: And that the Kremlin would originally say that this discussion never happened, they talked about the economy, and then there would be an about-face saying, oh, yes, the two men did discuss it. Is this an issue of perhaps the spokesperson wasn't privy to the content of these two men's discussion? Or does the Kremlin find that it's advantageous for Russia to go ahead and acknowledge that once again it reiterated it was not involved?
WOOD: My guess is it would be a tactical decision. It's in their interest to back up the president on this issue because also, plainly, the fact they were discovered doing what they have is extremely embarrassing for them. It's much better for them to be able to do it and nobody to notice. But it went beyond that.
WHITFIELD: But the president of the United States says he is looking forward to a potential good relationship with Russia. I mean, do you think that is plausible?
WOOD: Well, yes. It would be much easier if Russia looked carefully at some of its policies, notably towards Ukraine. It would be much easier if people would cease talking in generalities, like we're both against terrorism. For that, you have to say what terrorism precisely is. Terrorism, for the Russians and Syria was anybody who was opposed to President Assad. For us, it was primarily ISIL, but it certainly did not include the people that were actively being attacked in Aleppo, for example.
WHITFIELD: Might this be a clever strategy on President Trump's behalf that the president could see that perhaps he could gain something from this kind of deference to Russia over an expressed commitment for American intelligence community?
[14:20:00] WOOD: Well, he's your president, and you know him better than I do. But, again, that seemed to be a rather emotional reaction. Obviously the investigations that have been going on have been uncomfortable for President Trump. That doesn't mean to say he's guilty of anything at all. But they are an uncomfortable scenario. He would plainly much rather they weren't going on. But to deny all the intelligence agencies is certainly a rather extreme comment.
WHITFIELD: But being the former ambassador in Russia, you have perhaps a better understanding than most of the psychology, the strategy of Russia, and how another country might find some leveraging. Might this be an attempt by the president of the United States in which to find some leverage of Russia?
WOOD: Yes, in an abstract in and general fashion, it's in the interest of both United States and Russia to manage constructive policies between them. But as I said, that depends primarily on the real change in Russian attitudes, which are very hostile to the United States.
I can see also there are individual interests in there for President Putin, who has election campaign to face, not that he's likely to have much trouble with it, but he has got that, and because obviously President Trump has a situation in the United States to manage for his own. So yes, but it seems to be tactical, not serious.
WHITFIELD: OK, Sir Andrew Wood, thank you so much, from London.
WOOD: You're welcome.
WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.
[14:25:33] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The Texas church where more than two dozen people lost their lives when a gunman opened fire will open its doors tomorrow to the public. The church releasing this statement, saying "This is our church but it is not just us that are suffering. It is our hope that this will be healing for everyone." The ex-wife of the gunman is speaking out right now. She spoke to "Inside Edition" about her former husband.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TESSA BRENNAMAN, EX-WIFE OF TEXAS CHURCH GUNMAN: He had a gun in his holster right here, and he took that gun out and he put it to my temple, and told me do you want to die? Do you want to die?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The congregation of First Baptist Church will be holding services tomorrow in a community center near the church where the shooting took place.
Thanks so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. See you again tomorrow. We've got so much of the newsroom straight ahead at the top of the hour.