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Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Trump- WikiLeaks Connection; Another Accuser Comes Forward Against Alabama Republican Senate Candidate; New Accuser: Roy Moore Assaulted Me When I Was 16. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 13, 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 ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: secret correspondence. New reporting tonight that WikiLeaks sent a private message to President Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. a little over a month before the 2016 election. What does it mean for the Russia investigation and allegations of collusion?
New accuser. Another woman comes forward saying she was sexually abused by GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore when she was a teenager. The Senate majority leader says he believes the woman as top Republicans ramp up the pressure on Moore to quit the race or possibly be expelled from the Senate if he wins.
Giving Putin a pass. President Trump under fire for suggesting that he finds Vladimir Putin's denials of election meddling believable. Two former intelligence chiefs are warning that Mr. Trump is being played and that that's putting America at risk.
And Biden 2020? The former vice president leaves the door open to a new run for the White House. We will talk about his prospects and whether the Democrats have better options.
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 in the Russia investigation.
A new report details secret communications between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks, the group that published the hacked Clinton camp e- mails allegedly stolen by Russia. The article in "The Atlantic" says WikiLeaks repeatedly reached out to the president's son during the 2016 election seeking his cooperation in spreading the organization's documents across the Internet.
Also breaking, a public and tearful new allegation of sexual assault leveled against GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore. Beverly Young Nelson says Moore groped and attacked her when she was only 16 years old and he was a district attorney in Alabama in his 30s. She showed her high school yearbook, which appeared to have been
signed by Moore , as proof she knew him then. Moore has denied any sexual misconduct. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier today that he believes Moore's accusers and he's urging him to drop out of the race.
Also this hour, as President Trump wraps up his Asia trip, he's being accused of allowing himself to be played by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Two former intelligence chiefs, James Clapper and John Brennan, tell CNN that Mr. Trump's attempts to downplay the threat from Moscow are putting the United States in -- quote -- "peril."
This after the president told reporters that he believes Putin means it when he denies Russia interfered in the U.S. election. Mr. Trump later tried to clean up those remarks, saying he sides with America's intelligence agencies that uncovered Russia's meddling.
This hour, I will talk about those stories and more with the former defense secretary, the former CIA Director Leon Panetta. And our correspondents and specialists are also standing by.
First, let's go to our senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah. She's joining us from Alabama right now.
Kyung, we heard a very detailed, new allegation against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, and we heard it from the accuser herself.
Update our viewers.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You heard it from herself. She held a news conference. She appeared on camera and she was bold enough to use her name.
She went into explicit detail on what she says happened when she was 16 years old some four decades ago.
BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: I tried fighting him off while yelling at him to stop.
LAH (voice-over): Tonight, a new accuser comes forward, Beverly Nelson, sharing her account of what she says happened to her as a 16- year-old waitress getting a ride home from then distinct attorney Roy Moore.
NELSON: He stopped the car. And he parked his car in between the dumpster and the back of the restaurant, where there were no lights.
The area was dark, and it was deserted. I was alarmed. And I immediately asked him what he was doing. Instead of answering my question, Mr. Moore reached over and began groping me, him putting his hands on my breasts.
I tried to open my car door to leave, but he reached over, and he locked it, so I could not get out. I tried fighting him off while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping, he began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head on to his crotch.
LAH: Nelson said she escaped, but kept quiet because of fear.
NELSON: I thought that he was going to rape me.
I was twisting, and I was struggling, and I was begging him to stop. I had tears running down my face. At some point -- at some point, he gave up. And he then looked at me. And he told me -- he said, "You're just a child." And he said, "I am the district attorney of Etowah County. And if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you."
LAH: She also shared her high school yearbook she says Moore signed earlier that day, the message reading, "To a sweeter, more beautiful girl, I could not say merry Christmas. Love, Roy Moore, DA."
The Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell, called for Moore to step down from the Alabama Senate race.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think he should step aside.
QUESTION: Do you believe these allegations to be true?
MCCONNELL: I believe the women, yes.
LAH: This as more and more Senate Republicans are distancing themselves from the controversial former judge accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
A defiant Moore firing back on Twitter, saying: "The person who should step aside is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell," denying the accusations head on, today issuing a statement from his campaign that he has never had any sexual misconduct with anyone and threatening to sue "The Washington Post" for publishing the allegations.
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: These attacks involving a minor child are completely false and untrue, and for which they will be sued.
LAH: Moore's wife of 32 years calls the allegations a witch-hunt, coming out on conservative media outlet Breitbart News, saying, "It's just not true, any of it," even staying Facebook claiming the accusers were paid to come forward.
In response, one of the accusers' attorneys invited Moore to give sworn testimony on camera "because the truth doesn't hide."
In Gadsden, Alabama a close family friend of the youngest accuser, who was 14 at the time, said it was also fear that held back the truth for decades.
(on camera): Why didn't it come out sooner?
KATHY SISSON, FAMILY FRIEND OF ACCUSER: We asked Leigh every time Judge Roy Moore ran for an office, why told you tell your story? And she said, who is going to believe me? I was a 14-year-old. Who is going to believe a 14-year-old?
LAH (voice-over): A registered Republican herself, she said she would not vote for Moore.
As his credibility hangs on the edge, some Senate Republicans are already signaling support for Senator Luther Strange, who Moore defeated in the primary, as a possible write-in candidate. Still, many of Moore's supporters back home are rallying around him.
JACK FLOYD, FRIEND OF ROY MOORE: The thing that bothers me about those charges is that he's been in public life, run for many offices, and as many times as it's happened, no one has ever said anything until now.
LAH: As this latest accuser was holding her news conference, the Moore campaign released a statement reading in part -- quote -- "Gloria Allred," the attorney here, "is a sensationalist leading a witch-hunt. Judge Moore is an innocent man and has never had any sexual misconduct with anyone. We will pursue all legal options against these false claims and Judge Moore will be vindicated" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that, Kyung Lah, reporting.
Much more on this story coming up.
Now I want to go to a new report on Donald Trump Jr.'s secret correspondence with WikiLeaks during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.
I want to bring in our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, who is working the story for us.
Lay it all out for us. This is a new report in "The Atlantic."
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. It shows that messages turned over to Congress show that WikiLeaks actively solicited Donald Trump Jr. beginning in September 2016, two months before the election, and that solicitation continued through this past July.
That's all according to the report in "The Atlantic." So the messaging began on September 21, 2016. That's when WikiLeaks contacted Donald Trump Jr. via direct message on Twitter alerting him to an anti-Trump Web site.
Now, Donald Trump Jr. did respond, saying he'd ask about the source and then he e-mailed top campaign officials, including Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. Now, the "Atlantic" report does note that the correspondence here was mostly one-sided. Trump Jr. did frequently ignore these messages. However, Donald Trump
Jr. did show particular interest on October 3, 2016 when he actually wrote to WikiLeaks when he actually wrote to WikiLeaks, asking about what was behind word of an impending WikiLeaks release that other people were tweeting about, including Roger Stone.
Now, this correspondence was just days before WikiLeaks began publishing Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta's hacked e- mails, and that same day of the release by WikiLeaks, the American intelligence community released a statement saying the publishing of the hacked e-mails was consistent with Russian efforts, tying it to the Russian government.
So Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer, though, he's downplaying this report now, questioning how these messages to Congress that were between Don Jr. and WikiLeaks were even given out to the press in the first place.
So Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer is saying this. He said: "We can say with confidence that we have no concern about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum." That's from Alan Futerfas, attorney for Donald Trump Jr.
But the "Atlantic" report does note that after October of last year, Donald Trump Jr. did not respond to WikiLeaks. They did, however, keep messaging him. They kept trying to solicit him. But, of course, this latest report from "The Atlantic," Wolf, it draws renewed and additional questions about the correspondence between members of the Trump campaign team and WikiLeaks and in turn really the Russian government.
So, more questions here with this release of these messages.
BLITZER: Yes, an important article in "The Atlantic" by Julia Ioffe reporting.
We're going to follow up on that. Thanks so much, Jessica Schneider.
Let's get some more on all of this with the former defense secretary, the former CIA Director Leon Panetta.
Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Nice to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let me get your reaction to this important article in "The Atlantic" noting that Donald Trump Jr. actually corresponded with WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign, messages before and after, largely one-sided, but still Donald Trump Jr. did respond at times.
He never told them to cease the communications. How significant potentially in this overall Russian meddling investigation is this latest revelation?
PANETTA: Well, it would appear to be another additional piece of evidence related to the activities of either his family members or members of his campaign working with the Russians in one way or another.
I mean, there have been some 30 times, as I understand it, in which individuals in the Trump campaign met and discussed the campaign with the Russians. And so I'm sure that Bob Mueller, as the chief consult here investigating this matter, will have to look into this issue to determine what it means in terms of the larger issue as to whether or not there was any kind of relationship between the campaign and the Russians.
BLITZER: When WikiLeaks was getting in touch with Donald Trump Jr. through these direct messages, what should Donald Trump Jr. have done?
PANETTA: Well, I don't think there's any question but that the basic message that should have gone out to all campaign individuals, including Donald Trump Jr., is do not interact with the Russians.
Don't interact with a foreign adversary that could very well come in and try to influence this election. We ought to stay away from it. But on the contrary, what we're seeing here is that there have been a number of contacts. There have been a number of conversations, all of which I'm sure will be investigated not only by Bob Mueller, but by the committees on Capitol Hill, to determine just exactly what it meant in terms of the Russians and their interference in our election.
BLITZER: But you remember, on October 10, right near the end of the campaign, Donald Trump Sr. said, "I love WikiLeaks."
That was a message he was sending out because WikiLeaks was releasing a lot of damaging information involving the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, John Podesta, who was the chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and Donald Trump Sr. said, "I love WikiLeaks."
He was clearly sending a message.
PANETTA: Well, there's no question, certainly, if this article in "The Atlantic" proves to be true, that he not only held that initial meeting, he not only commented about WikiLeaks, but he actually took steps to continue to communicate with them.
I think all of that raises very serious implications in terms of the effort to work with the Russians.
BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, I want you to stand by for a few moments, because the ranking Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, is joining us from Capitol Hill right now.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You bet. Good to be with you, Wolf. BLITZER: All right.
So tell me about this "Atlantic" article that Donald Trump Jr. was corresponding with WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign. I know you're very familiar with all of this. What can you share with us and our viewers?
SCHIFF: Well -- and this is significant. And, you know, we can operate on the assumption that these direct messages, the attorney didn't seem to contradict their authenticity.
If you act on the assumption that they're accurate, it's yet another very high-level campaign person, the president's own son, reaching out in private communication, secret communication with WikiLeaks, and they're discussing essentially how to coordinate the disclosure of information.
WikiLeaks asked Don Jr. to get his father to trumpet certain things WikiLeaks wants to push out, and then within 24 to 48 hours, you see President Trump pushing that information out. You see the president's reaching out to WikiLeaks seeking information on future disclosures.
You have WikiLeaks reaching out to the campaign, saying, if we can be helpful in fronting information that will give us the appearance of neutrality, when in fact they're not neutral at all, they're attacking Hillary Clinton, this is yet another level of interest by the campaign in foreign assistance, and not just any foreign assistance, but foreign assistance tied to the Kremlin.
BLITZER: Were you aware, Congressman, of this communication between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks?
SCHIFF: You know, Wolf, I can't comment on that. That goes to what we have received in terms of the committee, so I can't say yea or nay about that.
But I can say that, you know, if these allegations are true, that you can add Don Jr. to the list of Trump campaign people reaching out and in communication privately with WikiLeaks to people like Roger Stone, who is communicating privately with Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, to the head of Cambridge Analytica also reaching out in an effort to either obtain or coordinate the release of documents that the Russians had stolen from the Clinton campaign.
BLITZER: Is Donald Trump Jr. going to come back and testify before your committee, because at the time the campaign said they were not in communication with WikiLeaks?
Does this new article in "The Atlantic," the secret correspondence between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks by Julia Ioffe, does that change the investigation, in your mind?
SCHIFF: Well, we had been planning to have Don Jr. come before our committee for months now, and it's our expectation that he will. And you can certainly imagine these are going to be the subject, these
direct messages, if they're accurate, are going to be the subject of many of our questions. But I think, again, we need to look at the context of this.
You have Don Jr. offered a meeting with intermediaries from Russia, in the hopes of getting dirt as a part of what these e-mails describe as the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign. That's a June 9 meeting. And then literally days later, you have Julian Assange saying for the first time that he has received thousands of Hillary Clinton stolen e-mails.
And then you have following that, if these direct messages are accurate, you have Don Jr. reaching out and establishing communication with this arm, this publication arm of the Kremlin. And seen in that context, obviously, this is a part of the big picture here, part of the effort to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, part of the effort by the Russians to publish that dirt, part of the effort by the campaign to coordinate or receive the help of outfits like Guccifer 2.0 or WikiLeaks in the publication of that dirt about Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: I just want to be precise, Congressman. What exactly, from your perspective, from the perspective of the U.S. intelligence community, is the relationship between the Kremlin and WikiLeaks?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, the Kremlin -- well, it was certainly using WikiLeaks to publish these documents. I think it gave them a certain level of deniability that the more direct cut-outs like Guccifer 2.0. and DCLeaks that could be traced right directly back to the Kremlin would ultimately not provide them.
But, nonetheless, WikiLeaks is a sophisticated actor. I fully believe that they knew where exactly they were getting this information about and were more than happy to coordinate with the Russians. I don't think that this is an issue so much of they're being useful idiots, as opposed to witting participants.
There is a division of opinion, I think, among members about just how witting or how useful they were, but, nonetheless, the fact of the matter was, this was clearly one of the outlets the Russians were using for publication. The campaign knew it. They were more than willing to work with them. They were more than willing to trumpet the WikiLeaks disclosures.
And you had the candidate out there on a daily basis bragging about how wonderful WikiLeaks was and about the latest WikiLeaks disclosures.
BLITZER: Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer issued a statement following the publication -- in the publication of this article in "The Atlantic," among other things, saying -- and I'm quoting now -- "We can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum."
I want you to respond to that statement. SCHIFF: Well, they certainly have not been answered before our
committee, and we hope to get answers when Don Jr. comes before our committee.
But this, of course, is the same kind of answer we have been getting from counsel all along, which is -- and from the individuals themselves -- well, the meeting at Trump Tower was about adoptions, only to find out, no, it wasn't about adoptions, or, well, there's nothing to see here in terms of any communications between Don Jr. and WikiLeaks, when, when you look at the timetable and you see that WikiLeaks obtains these documents shortly after the meeting at Trump Tower, and you have this level of communication by not one, but at least three people affiliated with the campaign with this essential cut out for the Russians, that's not easily dismissed.
I don't think it can be dismissed at all.
BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff, thanks so much for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's get back to the former defense secretary, the former CIA Director Leon Panetta.
So, Mr. Secretary, give me your reaction from what we just heard from the ranking Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee.
PANETTA: Well, I think Adam makes the point that the committee does need to look at this issue. They do need to call Donald Trump Jr. as a witness.
They ought to discuss this matter with other individuals that were tied to WikiLeaks as well. And the whole purpose is obviously to determine whether or not there was a conspiracy here, a collusion between people in the campaign and WikiLeaks and the Russians really to interfere with the election.
I think that's the issue, and that's what they need to pursue.
BLITZER: Because you heard Congressman Schiff suggest that WikiLeaks is a cut-out of the Russian government or the Russian intelligence service. Do you believe that?
PANETTA: Well, I don't think there's any question that the Russians had an influence here. After all, it was Donald Trump himself before the Democratic Convention that made a public plea to the Russians to be able to go after these e-mails, a lot of which were held by WikiLeaks, to go after them and release them.
So, clearly, you know, there's a lot of players here, but it seems obvious that there is an interrelationship here that has to be fully investigated.
BLITZER: How does this impact the investigation of Robert Mueller, special counsel investigation, the House and Senate investigations going forward, because, as you know, President Trump tweeted on October 12, just before the election -- quote -- "very little pickup by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest, rigged system."
That was his tweet. Your response?
PANETTA: Well, again, I have tremendous trust in Bob Mueller's investigation. This is a professional, who is going to look at every detail, every bit of evidence, every fact to determine whether or not there was any kind of collusion, any kind of conspiracy here that involved the Russians interfering with our election.
Clearly, there are bits and pieces of evidence that are out there. The real question is, can you look at all of that and put -- and connect all of the dots to make the case that, in fact, that took place? I think that's going to be Bob Mueller's job, and I every confidence that he can do that.
BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more on this latest development, what "The Atlantic" calls the secret correspondence between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks.
But I quickly want to get your reaction to the other breaking news that we're following. Another woman has come forward accusing Roy Moore of sexual assault. It seems as though the cries for Moore to step aside are growing among top Republicans.
You served in the House of Representatives. You worked in Washington for years. You can see all the Republican senators who want him to step aside. It's growing, that number. What's your reaction? Is that realistic? Do you think he might?
PANETTA: I think I have tremendous respect for Mitch McConnell and what he said regarding this issue.
That takes a lot of courage to be able to say that he takes the word of the women involved in this situation, which tells me a lot about the veracity of those that are coming out and saying what they're saying.
I think, ultimately, by virtue of the opposition of Republican senators here and the argument that Moore ought to drop out, I think there clearly is going to be an issue. If Moore should be elected, I think there clearly is going to be an issue as to whether or not the Senate should take action to expel him.
That has taken place in the past with regards to senators that have been accused of this kind of wrongdoing. So I would suspect that that might be the next step that might be taken should he be elected.
BLITZER: All right. Secretary Panetta, I'm going to let you go. Thanks, as usual, for joining us.
We're continuing to follow the breaking news.
We will take a quick break and we will resume our special coverage right after this.
BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, a new report in "The Atlantic" that Donald Trump Jr. engaged in secret correspondence with WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign and since. And Tony Blinken is with us, former deputy secretary of state, our CNN global affairs analyst.
[18:30:22] What's your reaction? You read this article by Julia Ioffe.
TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it's another shoe dropping in the connection with Russia story. You know, WikiLeaks was basically the cut out. That is everything that was exfiltrated from the DNC, from the Clinton campaign was then apparently passed along to WikiLeaks, and WikiLeaks put it out. So this is a pretty close to direct connection.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I'm sorry. But speaking of direct connection, how about October 3? October 3, WikiLeaks, he WikiLeaks account e-mails Donald Trump Jr. and says, "I strongly suggest your dad links this tweet." Fifteen minutes later Donald Trump Sr., not Junior, the presidential candidate...
BLITZER: October 12.
TOOBIN: Is it the 12th?
TOOBIN: Gives a speech where he says, "Everybody should go look at this new bombshell from WikiLeaks." I mean, it's -- I mean, how direct do you need? I mean, it is a direct example of coordination between WikiLeaks and not some peripheral figure in the Trump campaign but Donald Trump.
BASH: And it's not as if questions relating to this direct message exchange that he had with WikiLeaks was not something of interest to the congressional committees, which were not told about this, didn't know about this. I mean, you heard today the people on the key committee saying, you know, "We want to get this information." The fact that he withheld it suggests that he was worried about it in a big way.
In addition to that, according to this article, it wasn't just Don Jr. who was kind of caught up in this. He then took the information and e-mailed it to, basically, the entire senior staff of the campaign, including, he said, Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks, who's now the communications director, Kellyanne Conway and others. So some of those people, like Kellyanne, I believe, they're not related to this -- or they're not engaged or caught up in this Russia investigation at all. Well, now they might be. BLITZER: Yes, let me get Bianna into this. So what does this mean in
terms of the overall Robert Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election? What does this latest development mean as far as that investigation is concerned?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, it would suggest that everyone is wondering what else does he know that we don't know quite yet?
And to go back to what Jeffrey and Dana was saying, it becomes that much more difficult to believe that Don Trump Jr. did not tell his dad about that June meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower. Remember, they said, "My didn't know anything about it," when they were clearly e-mailing each other about the communications from WikiLeaks. The president tweeting it just moments, hours after WikiLeaks had D.M.'d Don Jr. about it.
And WikiLeaks was soliciting, let's say, free advice for how they should react up until the day of the election. WikiLeaks, along with Russian intelligence, believed that Hillary Clinton would win; and they were urging the Trump campaign not to concede but to fight, to protest the results of the election. At one point they even offered for Don Jr. to turn over some of his father's tax returns, the idea being that they wouldn't look so one-sided, as if they were in favor of Trump winning the presidency.
Also interesting out of this article is that it appears that at least WikiLeaks was reaching out to Don Jr. up until just a few months ago, July of this year. That's around the time that we found out about that June meeting at Trump Tower. So for them to be in touch for that long of a period of time does raise a lot of eye drops -- eyeballs -- eyebrows, to say the least.
TOOBIN: Eye drops, too. Absolutely.
BLITZER: I'm going to bring Phil Mudd into this. He used to work at the CIA and the FBI. Phil, take a look at this communication from WikiLeaks to Donald Trump Jr. We'll talk a little bit about that. Listen to this. This is on October 12, 2016, just before the election. "Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us. There's many great stories the press are missing, and we're sure some of your follows" -- he meant followers -- "will find it."
And look at the tweet that Donald Trump Sr. released just a little bit after that. Quote, "Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of the incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest. Rigged system."
So what's your analysis of the coordination of -- or at least those two statements -- those two coming back to back?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This is pretty significant from an intelligence and investigative perspective, because you're looking not only at statements, but I want to see everybody who's copied on those e-mails, everybody who was copied in the months before. I want to see every recipient on the WikiLeaks side. Was there just one e-mail address? I want to correlate that with whether anybody in the campaign ever called a phone number associated with WikiLeaks.
[18:35:19] And then as you go into the interviews, Wolf, I want to ask everybody on that e-mail sort -- that e-mail list on the U.S. side, on the Trump side, "Do you recollect these e-mails? What other contact did you have with WikiLeaks? What did people around the campaign say?"
My point is it's not just this interaction with Donald Trump Jr. It's a whole avenue of investigation that relates to digital communication that you have to investigate and that you have to interview people about.
There is one final ethical piece here. Let's be clear. WikiLeaks published thousands of stolen U.S. government documents that were classified by the U.S. government. Regardless of whether this is illegal, for the son of a U.S. candidate to willingly cooperate in a conversation with an organization that publishes stolen classified U.S. information is an ethical breach. He should never have done this, regardless of whether it's illegal, Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, Senator Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he's being urged by others, Democrats, Senator Blumenthal among others, to issue a subpoena to get Donald Trump Jr. to testify in open session. Is that -- is that likely? What do you think?
BASH: It's more likely now, I think, than before. Even before this was -- this was revealed, there was a negotiation going on between Chuck Grassley, the Senate Republican judiciary chair, and the top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, about Don Jr. coming to testify. And the fact that this is out there now, I think probably makes it more likely that there will be a bipartisan desire to do just that.
BLITZER: And very quickly, Tony, how do you see this development impacting the overall investigations?
BLINKEN: Wolf, month after month we've heard from President Trump and others around him, no cooperation, no coordination, no collusion. And yet month after month, we get evidence, every single month, of cooperation, coordination and collusion. So I think this just further feeds the investigation. We don't know what Mr. Mueller has, but this is another piece to the puzzle.
BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's more breaking news we're following. We'll resume our special coverage right after this.
[18:41:59] BLITZER: The breaking news this hour: a new report in "The Atlantic" that Donald Trump Jr. engaged in secret correspondence with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
You know, Phil, we just got these tweets from Julian Assange. He writes this. Let me read it to you and our viewers. "I cannot confirm the alleged D.M." -- direct messages -- "from Donald Trump Jr. to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks does not keep such records, and 'The Atlantic's' presentation is edited and clearly does not have the full context. However, even those published by 'The Atlantic' show that, one, WikiLeaks loves its pending publications and ignores those who asked for details. Trump Jr. was rebuffed, just like Cambridge Analytica. In both cases, WikiLeaks had publicly teased the publications. Thousands of people asked about them. Two, WikiLeaks can be very effective at convincing even high-profile people that it is in their interest to promote links to its publications."
Go ahead, react.
MUDD: Now, let me ask a couple questions to Julian Assange, since he's so willing to speak.
No. 1, who reached out to Don Jr. and, as a supposed transparency entity, has WikiLeaks justified reached out to one candidate and not another?
And No. 2, if Mr. Assange wants to suggest that he's so transparent, can you show me the same e-mails where he reached out to a different candidate?
For everybody who thinks this is an unvarnished, unbiased organization, publishing only things in the interest of transparency, I'd ask who they'd favor in the election and who did they reach out to? I think you've got your answer in those e-mails, Wolf.
GOLODRYGA: We definitely got our answer -- the answer in that e-mail. Remember as we just mentioned, that WikiLeaks suggested that Donald Trump release his tax returns so that they could release that, so that they could at least show, "Look, we are unbiased here." So there's proof of exactly what Phil just suggested.
BLITZER: What do you think? Let me get Tony in there. Go ahead, Tony.
BLINKEN: No, I think we've got, you know, again, a mounting piece of evidence here. But this is -- this fits a very, very clear pattern, and we know from our own intelligence community that what Russia was trying to do, aided and abetted by WikiLeaks, was to favor one candidate and to try to pull down another. This fits exactly that pattern.
BLITZER: Well, when you served as deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration, also earlier you served on the National Security Council, how did you see the relationship between Russia and WikiLeaks?
BLINKEN: Well, these are the kinds of connections that we need to know much more about.
But what I think we do know is that the information that Russia managed to pull out of the DNC, out of the Clinton campaign, other places wound up one way or another on WikiLeaks and was then sent out at just the right moment during the campaign. What I don't think we know enough about yet is exactly what the cooperation and coordination was between Russia and WikiLeaks. BASH: And the way that Julian Assange sort of portrays the dynamic in
the statement you just read is that the Trump campaign, Donald Trump Jr., Cambridge Analytica, the data company that the Trump campaign ended up later hiring, were desperately trying to get WikiLeaks' help, and WikiLeaks was just kind of flicking them off saying, no, no, no, this is not what we do.
[18:45:08] I don't know if this is intentional to try to make it that it was one-sided, but I'm not so sure that that gets them off the hook. In fact, just the opposite.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jeffrey, take us inside the Mueller investigation. He's got this information maybe for all we know he's had this information for a while. From a legal standpoint, if Mueller and his investigators, his prosecutors are looking for crimes, does this -- where does this fit in?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It might. Let me give you an example. It is illegal for foreigners to contribute to campaigns. It's illegal for them to give money. It's illegal for them to give in kind campaign contributions. Was WikiLeaks' contribution to the Trump campaign an in-kind contribution from a foreign entity? If it was, that's illegal. That's certainly something they will be --
BLITZER: In other words, if they were offering specific opposition research to Donald Trump Jr. or others in the Trump campaign, what you're suggesting is that was valuable information. You know, campaigns pay a lot of money for opposition research. If they were getting it for free, it was an in-kind contribution which may have been illegal.
TOOBIN: Exactly. The key point I think you hit on is that this is something that ordinarily campaigns pay good money for. If they are getting it for free for someone who is doing that work for nothing, that could be an in-kind campaign contribution, which is a violation of the law.
BASH: Something of value, right.
TOOBIN: Something of value.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Bianna.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And the timeline sort of fits. If you start putting the pieces of the puzzle together, independent Russian reporting suggests that Vladimir Putin was made aware of the Podesta e-mails in early April. Of course, you put that in line with the Papadopoulos story, you put that in line with Mifsud coming up to -- the professor approaching Papadopoulos saying the Russians have dirt on Hillary Clinton. Then you fast-forward a few months to that infamous June meeting with Veselnitskaya, obviously, she was wanting to talk about adoption. This was a lot more about the scoop that she wanted to give and the dirt on Hillary Clinton as well.
And then you piece the puzzle a few months later and then you're into October. And the question is, when did WikiLeaks enter the picture and what was their role in releasing those e-mails and who knew what when?
BLITZER: Yes, I just want to read a couple of sentences. At a rally, Phil, on October 10th, Donald Trump proclaimed publicly in front of all those people that were there, quote, I love WikiLeaks. That was on October 10th. On October 12th, WikiLeaks sent a direct message to Donald Trump Jr., quote, hey, Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: You've got to couple this with what the president has also said in recent days about Putin's response when the president raised the election meddling, with President Trump. And let me explain why this is significant from a national security perspective.
We have the president of the United States encouraging WikiLeaks to publish stolen information related to an American electoral process. We have the president suggesting a couple of days ago that he believed a Russian dictator over the U.S. intelligence community. As we go into other electoral cycles in this country when we know Russia wants to engage in meddling to destabilize America, what do you think Putin is thinking?
I'll give you what I think. He can get off the hook if he does it again. That's the message you get from response to the WikiLeaks and the response to Putin over the weekend. Do it again.
TONY BLINKEN, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, Phil is exactly right. This is sending a message to Russia and anyone else who might interfere with us, you can do it with impunity. It's exactly the wrong message to be sending.
The fact that the president disparaged three men who served this country for three decades, four decades, Republican and Democratic administrations, Jim Clapper, John Brennan, James Comey, whatever you think of them, these are patriots who served the country well for decades and elevates Vladimir Putin, who is trained as a KGB spy before becoming president of Russia, this is totally, totally out of whack in terms of America's interests.
BLITZER: Yes, the president called --
GOLODRYGA: And don't forget --
BLITZER: H e called all three of them political hacks.
Go ahead, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: And don't forget, Vladimir Putin called his spies and hackers and Russia patriots for doing what they did. So there you go.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by.
There's more breaking news we're following. Roy Moore has just responded to the latest allegations of sexual misconduct. We'll have that when we come back.
[18:54:16] BLITZER: More now on the breaking news, a flood of Republican lawmakers now saying Alabama's GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore should quit the race. A fifth woman came forward earlier this afternoon, accusing Moore of sexually assaulting her, some 40 years ago, when she was only 16 years old, and he was in his 30s.
Just moments ago, Moore called her accusations and quoting him now, absolutely false. He added, quoting: Once again, I don't even know the woman.
But, Dana, she brought her yearbook, her high school yearbook, there was Roy Moore, can you see it to a sweeter more beautiful girl, I could not say Merry Christmas. And he signed it Roy Moore, D.A., district attorney.
[18:55:00] BASH: Maybe he doesn't know the woman because 40 years ago, she wasn't a woman, she was a young girl. If the accusations and allegations are true, if they are true, then -- now that we have five people coming out with similar stories who didn't know each other, this is a pattern. So, it wouldn't be surprising he didn't remember her from 40 years ago.
Having said that, the big question now is, whether or not the, quote/unquote, establishment Republicans who are pretty much universally lined up in favor of him dropping out of the race are going to have any impact. I have not seen any evidence that the answer is yes, the big question now that I'm hearing from Republican sources is what will president Trump do when he gets back, will he weigh-in, and even if he does add his voice to "he should step aside" mix, it's unclear if that will hold sway with Moore.
BLITZER: How do you see it?
TOOBIN: Well, I -- there's no leverage over Roy Moore. I mean, the so-called establishment, they've all turned against him, what can they do to him? They can't take him off the ballot. It's too late for that.
The only thing they can try to do is run a write-in campaign. And who are they going to run, Luther Strange? He'd already beat him once and he was on the ballot.
BASH: Well, there's talk about Jeff Sessions running (ph), but he said that he doesn't want to do it.
TOOBIN: Jeff Sessions, as I think I heard you say earlier, has his dream job. Who -- why would he leave that?
BLITZER: He's the former senator from Alabama. He had served for many, many terms. Very well known, very popular. If, in fact, Jeff Sessions were to quit his job as the attorney general of the United States and be a write-in candidate, presumably, Jeffrey, he would do well. TOOBIN: He might do well. But, also, I mean, the base of the
Republican Party is enraged by the attacks on Roy Moore, they are not interested in, you know, parsing the facts.
I don't see. I mean, don't know for sure, but I don't think it's a done deal that Jeff Sessions would win that election.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Bianna, because Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, he runs the Republican senatorial campaign committee. He goes one step further. He doesn't only want Roy Moore to step aside, if he were elected to the United States Senate, Cory Gardner says the Senate should vote to expel him. And the Senate potentially could do that.
GOLODRYGA: Well, they could, but imagine the upheaval you would hear after that, in a democracy where someone was fairly elected, then to be fired on top of that. I'm not sure that the Republicans would hold very well with their constituents either if they did something like that.
I agree with Dana, all eyes are going to be on the president and how he reacts to this. I think all eyes are going to be on Steve Bannon too. The more women we see coming forward. How much is this guy willing to put his reputation and his vision for the party down the future on the line for somebody who -- whether or not you believe the story, but you do have to wonder why so many women would come out and go through the pain of reminiscing about what happened to them. But you've got voters who are talking about populism wanting jobs, they don't want to hear stories like this. It's cringe-worthy.
BLITZER: So far, there are five women who have come forward, Phil. But you know there's a lot of speculation out there, put your investigator hat on, you used to work at the FBI and the CIA. Do you anticipate more women coming forward in the coming days, and if they do, will it make much of a difference as far as Roy Moore is concerned?
MUDD: I think it will. I mean, if you look at these cases in the past, and you look at what happens when someone like Gloria Allred steps in, she's got obviously a long history of dealing with cases like this, if you're afraid to speak before, you now have someone who can serve as sort of a buffer, a guide for you. And that's what this lawyer will do.
I think one of the most fascinating pieces of this will be what the White House says, because if Sarah Huckabee Sanders gets out there and says, now we believe this. And he shouldn't take the seat, the follow question is, if you believe their accusations, why wouldn't you believe earlier accusations leveled against the president of the United States. Why does one count and the other not count? This is going to be fascinating, Wolf.
BLITZER: And it's interesting, Dana, because you cover -- you covered Congress for a long time. Senator Ted Cruz has just pulled his own endorsement of Roy Moore earlier, he said if it's proven, then he should step aside. But now, he's gone back, Ted Cruz of Texas saying he no longer can support him.
BASH: That's right. So, as far as I can tell, there's virtually nobody in the Senate, including the senior senator from Alabama, who our colleague Manu Raju talked to today, who thinks it's a good idea for Moore to stay in. Other members of the Alabama delegation in the house and most importantly, the governor, don't agree, though. They are still, and I was just texting with a House member from Alabama, still an innocent until proven guilty camp and don't think if he should pull out if he insists that these aren't true.
TOOBIN: Isn't five enough?
TOOBIN: I mean, you have people talking, more people may come forward. What's wrong with five? I mean --
BLITZER: All right. Everybody, hold their thought, because this story is not -- clearly not going away.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.