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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Another Accuser Comes Forward Against Alabama Republican Senate Candidate. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired November 13, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there are better options.
Luther Strange, who is the sitting Republican senator, could resign his seat and trigger a new special election, which would give Alabama voters more time to work this out, rather than try to mount a write-in campaign, which could be perilous for the GOP.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and it's not like it's unprecedented. There were all sorts of shenanigan, I remember, when Torricelli, the incumbent Democratic senator in New Jersey, I forget the exact details, but he got in legal trouble. He might have been indicted. I'm not exactly sure.
And all of a sudden, the Democrats had taken care of it. There could be a way to do it. The people could just say, well, good enough.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
One thing I think is important is that the initial strategy of saying this all about "The Washington Post" and sort of people, if you hadn't read it, then it's, well, it's "The Washington Post," it "The Washington Post," and they were trying to just sort of smother it under that.
That press conference, that was not "The Washington Post." That was not the D.C. establishment. That was not Hillary Clinton. That was a clear daughter of the South speaking in a way that was heartbreaking.
And, listen, Meryl Streep could not have pulled that off. That was as authentic as you can possibly be. And can you imagine having to relive -- people don't like to go on TV for, you know, good stuff, for happy stuff. People say, hey, put that iPhone down, I don't want you videotaping me at dinner.
For her to stand up there in front of the whole world and recount that, possibly in front of children and grandchildren, that is not "The Washington Post," sir. You're going to have to deal with a real human being now. And I hope that the people who watch that are dealing with a human being now.
TAPPER: But where they're going to attack, it's already very clear, is the attorney who is sitting next to Beverly Young Nelson, the attorney being Gloria Allred, who is obviously a Democrat and, you know, very active in liberal causes like abortion rights.
And I think Roy Moore's wife posted on Facebook a picture of Gloria Allred holding a sign at some parade saying transgender rights. That's where they're going to go with this.
CARPENTER: Yes. When I learned that Gloria Allred was representing this woman and having a New York press conference, I thought, well, they just handed a big present to Roy Moore. But she stayed out of the shot.
And that woman was visibly shaken. I don't think she overplayed her hand. She seemed to have a very vivid recall of what exactly happened. And that's the kind of memory when something terrible happens to you, you remember every second of it. It was clear she did. She had told other people.
So I think she is very difficult to dismiss. I don't care if Cookie Monster is representing her. You can't not remember that tape.
TAPPER: It was very a very moving account, very upsetting and, of course, very chilling when in her version of the story, this is just her version of the story, Roy Moore, then the deputy district attorney, who signed her year book "Roy Moore DA"...
TAPPER: Said, you're a child. Nobody is going to believe you. I'm the district attorney, and, basically, you know, it doesn't matter what you do from here because no one is going to believe you.
JONES: And you forget, you know, adults have so much power over young people, you know? A teacher, a preacher, a coach, any of those people.
Those people, I don't care how old you are, they have a big impact on you. When the district attorney says something like that to you, it goes in deep. And you can tell. She didn't talk about it. She held it in.
In some ways, she, I think, had a big chunk of her life stolen not just by what he did, but then by the threat that nobody is going to believe you. So I'm hoping that something will happen to give him some closure and some healing because tonight a lot of people believe her.
TAPPER: You know something? And maybe it's the Southern accent that reminds me of this, but I think we are -- and we have seen some of this in the press. There was a story in "The Atlantic" called "Bill Clinton: A Reckoning."
Chris Hayes said something the other day and other people have. But the accusers of Bill Clinton back in the '90s were never given the credence and treated with the same respect that these women are being treated.
And I think that there is something to be said about how society has evolved since then, but, in addition, it's hard not to look back at that period and think, you know what, the media treated those women poorly.
CARPENTER: Yes, without a doubt. You can't rewrite history, but what I am concerned about now is that I see a lot of Republicans, people like Ann Coulter on Twitter, going back and bringing up people like Senator Kennedy, Clinton, other people that did have previous acts of sexual misconduct, almost as a way of saying, well, they did it. We can, too.
Appeals to hypocrisy do not work for a party that has no moral core. And we do have a problem now because we have elected a president who has his own accusers. And so we're all going to go back through history and there is a lot of reckoning that needs to be done.
I don't know where that's going to take us. It is risky because you may lose a Senate seat, but it is a problem for Republican voters because you keep putting these people up who are morally conflicted. And now the choice is, well, you can vote for this pedophile or you can lose a seat and hand it to Democrats.
The Republican Party has to do better. It has to do it with Republican leadership. I am happy to see Mitch McConnell step up and say he should be expelled. We needed more of that during the primary process.
TAPPER: And I have to say, Van, President Trump has been abroad, so he has and he hasn't weighed in when asked about this, the few moments.
But it is a tough place for him to be, because even if he wants to distance himself from Roy Moore and even if he finds this reprehensible, then the question becomes, well, why believe these five women on the record and not these 15 on the record who will make these allegations against you, Mr. President?
JONES: Well, I mean, and that is the situation that it is a big problem I think for him and for the Republican Party.
And that's -- I think one of the things that you're going to see when he comes back is that some of the kind of the ducking and jiving and getting away with stuff is that he's got a much more narrow window on that kind of behavior now. And I think he's actually going to have to think very carefully about how to handle it.
TAPPER: Van and Amanda, stick around. We got lots more to talk about in our breaking news, including a look at how the current allegations against Judge Moore give new light to a child rape case on which he ruled as an Alabama Supreme Court justice.
That's next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: We're back with the breaking news in the politics lead today.
Given a new accuser coming forward late this afternoon, there is a renewed focus on Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore's alleged former predilection for high school girls back when he was a local deputy district attorney in his 30s.
Former Deputy District Attorney Teresa Jones told CNN over the weekend -- quote -- "It was common knowledge Roy dated high schoolgirls. Everyone we knew thought it was weird. We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall, but you really wouldn't want to say anything to someone like that" -- unquote.
That's just one part of Judge Moore's past getting renewed scrutiny. Add to the list his ruling on an appeal for a then 17-year-old convicted of raping a 4-year-old. Moore was the only justice on an eight-judge panel to rule a sodomy charge should be overturned.
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I have not been guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone.
TAPPER (voice-over): As Alabama Republican Judge Roy Moore denies sexual contact with girls who were then under agent of consent, some of his past court rulings are now being looked at in a new light.
As a justice on Alabama's Supreme Court in 2015, Moore and the other justices took on a case of Eric Lemont Higdon, a 17-year-old day care center intern who was convicted of raping a 4-year-old boy in his care.
The Alabama Supreme Court found Higdon guilty of both statutory rape and forceable rape in the first degree. The first conviction was upheld. But when the forceable rape verdict was appealed, it fell to Moore and his fellow justices to make the final ruling. Eight justices voted to uphold the conviction, but Roy Moore alone dissented, saying that a 17-year-old raping a 4-year-old on its own does not mean the 4-year-old feared physical injury.
He wrote in his dissent that the definition of -- quote -- "forceable compulsion places another person in fear of immediate death or serious physical injury. Because there was no evidence in this case of an implied threat or serious physical injury under this definition, Higdon cannot be convicted" -- unquote.
It was a strict interpretation of the letter of the law that many legal experts disagreed with.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The spirit of the law was trying to protect minors from having to prove that they are a worthwhile victim. To say that they can only be violently treated or physically assaulted or physically threatened to the point of death is saying that anything short of that is not truly victimization. TAPPER: Not recognizing the inherent threat a toddler might feel at
the hands of a 17-year-old authority figure was concerning to the prosecutor in the case.
Current Senator Luther Strange, who lost to Moore in the Alabama Republican primary in September:
NARRATOR: Unbelievably, Roy Moore was the only no-vote.
TAPPER: The Strange campaign made the Moore dissent into a campaign ad.
NARRATOR: Roy Moore, too risky for us.
TAPPER: An ad made now all the more potent as Moore faces cringe- worthy campaign questions about how he views predatory actions against the vulnerable.
TAPPER: And this just into CNN.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, is withdrawing his endorsement of Roy Moore. He says -- quote -- "I believe the accusations against Roy Moore are disturbing and, if true, disqualifying," but he stopped short of calling for Moore to drop out of the race.
My panel's back with me.
So, Cornyn said that the final decision should be left to Alabama voters. Your reaction?
CARPENTER: I mean, I think there is a script that needs to be followed. So there is -- perfectly clear what's happening. He should drop out of the race. If he doesn't, he wins, he will be expelled. I withdraw my endorsement. There's no way I support him.
Withdraw the endorsement. He should drop out and he would be expelled from the Senate. That way, there is no ambiguity about how you feel because this stuff that -- the court case that you just read in about, there was a question of whether a 4-year-old was forcibly raped or not?
Of course it is if a 4-year-old is raped. Roy Moore disagreed with that? My goodness. Withdraw your endorsement, and get him out of the race for that alone.
TAPPER: Rumors about Moore's dating life have evidently, it was news to me, but evidently been circulating for years in Alabama.
I have to say, he has been controversial and he has been a figure in Alabama politics and national politics for years. Are you surprised that we're just hearing about them now?
JONES: I am. And part of it is that, you know, he is a part of this populist, nativist kind of movement that basically tries to insulate itself from even basic decency, dignity or whatever by saying, well, we're against the establishment.
And basically, the establishment is anybody who criticizes us. So the Republican establishment, the D.C. establishment, the Clinton establishment, basically anybody who doesn't like us, they are the problem and we are the victims. This creation of a kind of a victim identity politics that's, you know, frankly, racialized for, you know, white folks who are -- who are being picked on has now become a hidey- hole for some of the nastiest stuff in American politics.
So it's now going to be up to people in Alabama, do we want to be a part of this? Is this actually a healthy development in American politics where someone because they have the right enemies, we don't care who they brutalize, who they mistreat, what they do, what they stand for. They've got the right enemies so we're for them. That's what we are right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Amanda, I want you to listen to something that the fifth accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, said today about her decision to come forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON, ROY MOORE'S ACCUSER: This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Republicans or the Democrats. It has everything to do with Mr. Moore's sexual assault when I was a teenager.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And the Moore campaign's response is the exact opposite. They're saying it is exactly 100 percent partisan and not even Republican versus Democrat, they're saying it's partisan ideological against him and the kind of Christian conservative values that he stands for.
AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SEN. TED CRUZ: Yes, their biggest argument is that they question the timing. Why did this happen now? This must be a witch-hunt because it happened now. Well, it might have to do something with the fact that this guy was a member of the state supreme court. He was a prosecutor. He ran the legal department in the state. It would be so hard for a woman to come forward with an accusation from 10, 20, 30 years ago to a man with that legal power. Now he's leaving that position and pursuing a seat in the U.S. Senate. So, of course, it's relevant. You know, if that's the best argument he has, I think people are seeing through it now and people are running away as fast as they can.
TAPPER: There are all sorts of options that Republicans are trying to figure out what to do. One of them being Luther Strange resigning. You brought that up. He's the sitting Senator right now. He resigns and it throws the whole system into a whole new state of incoherence. People have to figure out --
CARPENTER: Messy but may be preferable. TAPPER: Then there's the write-in campaign. Lisa Murkowski from
Alaska was talking to Luther Strange reportedly last week about that. It's very difficult to win a write-in campaign --
CARPENTER: Well, I will say, if there's a loser laws that would bar Luther Strange from pursuing a seat because he already lost the primary. So that gets a little tricky but --
TAPPER: Oh, OK. But this also -- this I have to say, feed in to a degree to this narrative that the Moore campaign and the Steve Bannons and Breitbarts of the world do -- are putting out there, which is the establishment is ruthless and they're going to stop at nothing to deny you a seat, even if it means rewriting the rules, even if it means, you know, change election law.
JONES: But look, I'm from Tennessee. I understand the way that people in the south don't just feel looked down on but often are looked down on from people who are not in that region of the country. But you can't let your sense of regional pride override your sense of dignity and responsibility and basic humanity. And that's really what's on trial right now for people in Alabama.
TAPPER: Van and Amanda, thank you so much. Much more on the breaking news. We're still waiting for a response from the White House. That's next, stay with us.
[16:50:00] TAPPER: Just in to CNN, we have more reaction from Republicans on the Hill on the most recent Roy Moore accusations. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says U.S. Senate Candidate Roy Moore should step aside. On Twitter, Senator Graham wrote, "in light of the most recent allegations and the accumulative effect of others, I believe #roymoore would be doing himself, the state, the GOP, and the country a service by stepping aside.
Let's turn now to "THE WORLD LEAD," on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit meeting in Manila today, President Trump visited with the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Durterte took office in 2016. His administration, according to Amnesty International, has, "presided over a wide range of human rights violations, intimidated and imprisoned critics and created a climate of lawlessness." Duterte they said has explicitly approved violence that has led to thousands of extrajudicial executions in the government's anti-drug campaign.
Now, when American reporters began to bring up these human rights issues that President Trump would not bring up in their public meeting, Duterte called the journalists spies as Philippine security jostled them. According to the White House pool report, President Trump laughed. It's difficult to understand what might be amusing about an authoritarian leader calling American journalists spies, although of course, President Trump did once tweet, "the media is the enemy of the American people." Rodrigo Duterte would almost certainly click the heart under that tweet. According to the committee to protect journalists, dozens of Filipino
journalist have been killed with no clear motives over the past two decades. Duterte himself justified killing reporters last year, saying, "just because you're a journalist, you are not exempted assassination of you're a son of a bitch. Freedom of expression cannot help you if you've done something wrong." Earlier this year, a former Philippine policeman named Arturo Lascanas admitted a role in the assassination of a radio journalist Juan Pala in 2003, an assassination that the former police officer claimed had been ordered and paid for by then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a charge that Duterte denies. That's the guy who made President Trump chuckle when he called U.S. journalists spies. It reminded us of the moment in September of this year when the Emir of Kuwait attacked reporters and President Trump by his side said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:55:17] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I'm very, very honored and happy to know that you have problems with the media also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: We don't know what at that moment was in the head of the Emir of Kuwait, where journalists are jailed or exiled for what they write or what Philippine authoritarian Rodrigo Duterte thought when the President laughed at his joke. But we do remember when American Presidents thought the principles of free speech and freedom of the press were not a laughing matter. Journalists were given mixed messages on the private meeting between President Trump and President Duterte. The White House says the issue of human rights was briefly discussed in private, while the Philippine government denies it came up at all. CNN's Jim Acosta has the story.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Trying to get a grip on leading the free world overseas, President Trump is ending his trip to Asia claiming he is on a roll.
TRUMP: It was red carpet like nobody I think has probably ever received.
ACOSTA: But on his final stop in the Philippines, he was no mood to answer questions when reporters tried to push Mr. Trump and the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte on human rights abuses in that country and whether those concerns were discussed between the two leaders during their 40-minute meeting. The Filipino Leader shut down the questions.
RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT, PHILIPPINES: We're not answering any -- this is not the press --
ACOSTA: It's no surprise the President was finished taking questions after the uproar he ignited when he once again seemed to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Moscow's meddling in last year's election. Every time Putin sees me he says, I didn't do that and believe, I really believe that when he tells me that. He means it. Making matters worse, Mr. Trump even blasted former leaders of the U.S. intelligence community that concluded Russia did meddle. "They're political hacks. So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar." Pressed to say once and for all he believes Russia intervened in the election, the President wavered again.
TRUMP: As to whether I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership. I believe in our intel agencies, our intelligence agencies.
ACOSTA: And he ignored our attempts to clarify his comments.
Mr. President, why won't you say definitively whether Russia meddled in our democracy? Why won't you say that definitively, Sir?
Two of the former intelligence officials assailed by the President as political hacks hit back on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I think he's giving Putin a pass and I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and to try to play upon his insecurities.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our -- and our whole process. And to try to paint it in any other -- any other way is I think astounding and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.
ACOSTA: Just before his news conference where he was pressed on Russia, the President fired off a tweet, taunting the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as short and fat before suggesting they could somehow be friends.
TRUMP: I think anything's a possibility. Strange things happen in life. That might be a strange thing to happen. But it's certainly a possibility.
ACOSTA: Now, on trade, President decided to go it alone on this trip, insisting he can negotiate better deals than the trans-pacific trade partnership pushed by the Obama administration. The result, the remaining countries in that partnership moved forward without the U.S., but, Jake, the President is insisting that he is putting trade wins on the scoreboard and says he'll have an announcement on that at the White House tomorrow. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you so much. Before we sign off today, I want to encourage everyone to check out a very special auction to benefit our veterans. You can find it at ebay.com/homesforourtroops. ebay.com/homesforourtroops is only a day left in this auction. The proceeds go to Homes For Our Troops, which is a charity that helps build and donate custom designed mortgage-free homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans. Some of the items you can bid on include a golf bag signed by George Clooney, a chance to go on set for Ben Stiller's new movie project, tickets to Jimmy Kimmel Live, or the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, or Conan, or Seth Meyers, or Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The View.
You can get tickets to the Army-Navy game, a Game of Thrones Poster signed by the entire cast, boots signed by Cher, it goes on and on. Bidding ends tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Bid a lot. Make a lot of money for these troops. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks so much for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, stepping forward. Another woman comes forward with a dramatic and harrowing allegation that Roy Moore sexually assaulted her 40 years ago when she was just 16 years old and he was in his 30s.