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Trump to Make Statement; UCLA Players Press Conference; UCLA Players Thank Trump; Trump on Roy Moore; Sessions as Write-in; Hannity Gives Moore Deadline. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 15, 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] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Just tweeted a little while ago, he wants to get a thank you from them for getting them out.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Here we go. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me here on CNN.
We've got some breaking news for you this afternoon. The top two Republicans in the U.S. Senate now calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to become the write-in candidate for the Senate race in Alabama that has engulfed -- been engulfed in scandal right now.
This as all eyes go to President Trump, who has yet to weigh in on the fate of Roy Moore. The candidate facing new accusations of sexual assault.
But let's begin with Jeff Zeleny, he's our CNN senior White House correspondent. You know, the big question right now, now that the president is back home, when and how might he weigh in on Roy Moore?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Brooke.
That is a central question. We know the president is watching all of this activities surrounding Roy Moore unfold, but he has not yet weighed in on it.
We do know that he will be giving a statement in the next hour at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, I am told, in the Diplomatic Reception Room here at the White House. But I am told that that is about -- not about Roy Moore per se, but it is about the accomplishments as he sees them from his journey to Asia. Of course, he just returned here last evening. So he wants to talk about his meeting with world leaders, the trade imbalance, possibly North Korea. But it is unclear if he will talk about Roy Moore.
We are told this is just going to be a statement. It's not going to be a press conference. So reporters will likely shout questions. It's up to him if he answers them or not.
But we do know the White House is watching this very carefully. I'm told the president is taking a wait and see approach on this. He's waiting to see if Judge Moore would step aside on his own. He's watching some conservative voices way in on this. Sean Hannity, of course, first and foremost, of Fox News, saying that Moore has some 24 hours to better explain himself. That was yesterday.
So the president, we know, wants -- you know, is watching this. He and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, have talked about this multiple times. We do not know if the president will actually urge him to step aside.
And one reason is, this is a, you know, a complicated subject, of course, and it may not work. He could still win that Senate race in Alabama. The president already burned once by supporting Luther Strange, who, of course, is the sitting senator in this -- this special election. But, again, those questions of Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, will he stepped in? I am told that is a bit of a farfetched scenario, but certainly a possible scenario here. And the president, of course, could tell his attorney general basically to do this, Brooke. So a lot of things evolving here, but we will hear from the president in the next hour.
BALDWIN: We'll listen for him. He may comment on what we're about to listen to. These are these UCLA basketball players, over in China, back in the U.S.
Let's take a listen.
CODY RILEY, UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER ARRESTED IN CHINA: I feel terrible and I would apologize to everybody who I've let down. With that being said, I take full responsibilities for the mistake I have made, shoplifting. I know that this goes beyond me letting my school down, but I let the entire country down.
Before -- before I thank everybody who worked so incredibly hard to help us return home safely, I want to thank the Chinese police and the government for taking care of us and treating us well during our time there.
To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf. We really appreciate you helping us out.
Thank you to all the PAC-12 representatives for all of your time and support. Thank you Dan Gurell (ph), for sticking by our side and doing whatever you could to help us through this.
Thank you Chris Carlson (ph) for taking the time out of your schedule to stay with us the entire time and guide us every step of the way.
To Doug Erickson (ph), thank you for also staying with us and giving us guidance with everything.
To my teammates, thank you for being there for us throughout the process. You guys mean so much to me.
To Coach Alfred (ph), Coach Ties (ph), Coach Resard (ph), Coach Grace, thank you for all of your support. You guys always believed in me, not only as a basketball player, but also as a person. I'm sorry for letting you down.
Lastly, to my family, my mom -- my mom and dad, you guys have raised me to be smart and always make the right choices. You never left my side. And it hurts me the most that I disappointed and embarrassed you.
To my younger brother, Ben, this is not the example that I want to set for you. But from here on out, I promise I will be the best role model I can be to look up -- for you to look up to.
I have been looking forward to be in UCLA Bruin since I was young. The alumni here have set such a high standard for both academically and athletically. And as a UCLA student athlete, I'm disappointed in myself that I failed to live up to that. I can only hope that my actions, my words, my hard work in the weeks to come to prove to my coaches, my teammates and our fans that I am more capable of meeting that high standard.
[14:05:14] Away from the court, I will work especially hard in the classroom to show that I can be an outstanding representative of this incredible university, a place that is so important to many people around the world.
Again, thank you to everybody who has been there and express concerns for me and my safety this past week. I can assure you that I will never do anything again to jeopardize UCLA's reputation and as my own.
Go Bruins. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Cody.
Next we have LiAngelo Ball.
LIANGELO BALL, UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER ARRESTED IN CHINA: I would like to start off by saying sorry for stealing from the stores in China. I didn't exercise my best judgment and I was wrong for that.
I apologize to my family, my coaches, my teammates and UCLA for letting so many people down. I also apologize to the people in China for causing them so much trouble.
I'm a young man. However, it's not an excuse for making a really stupid decision.
I don't feel sorry for myself. And I've learned my lesson from this big mistake. And I'm 110 percent sure that I will not make a bad decision like this one again.
I'd also like everyone to know that this does not define who I am. My family raised me better than that and I'm going to make myself a better person from here on out.
I have the upmost respect for the Chinese police department as well. And I would like to thank them for treating me so respectfully, even after I made a stupid decision. I would like to thank Chris Carlson and Doug Erickson for staying with
us and just helping us out while we were in China and taking care of us.
I am grateful for this UCLA team that stood strong besides us and made it possible for me to be sitting here in front of you all today. I respect (INAUDIBLE) all the hard work that they put in to get us back to the United States.
I'd also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided as well.
I'm grateful to be back home and I'll never make a mistake like this again. I'm extremely sorry for those who I let down, but I'm also very thankful for all the help, love and support that they provided. And I take full responsibility for my actions. And I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, LiAngelo.
Next we have Jalen Hill.
JALEN HILL, UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER ARRESTED IN CHINA: First off, I would like to apologize to all the fans who support UCLA because I felt like my actions have hurt them the most. It hurts me because I can see the pain that I caused them.
I apologize to my teammates, my coaches and my family because of how much negative attention that I put on them that they do not deserve.
I'm sorry for shoplifting. What I did was stupid. There's just no other way to put it. And I'm not that type of person. I hope that this mistake will not define me as a person, but it shows that I have messed up and can learn from it. I don't want to be known for this dumb mistake. I want to be known for my respectfulness, and my love and passion for the game of basketball.
This event has taught me a lot and it has changed me in a way that I can't explain. I have so much more respect for the people around me, from our coaches and staffs, to the fans who live for UCLA.
I have also strengthened my relationship with God throughout this time. Without him, I would be nothing.
To all the fans out there watching, I hope that you can forgive me. I hope that you can forgive my stupid, childish action. I have learned my lesson and I hope that I can earn back the love and support that our passionate fans bring to this program.
I would like to thank everyone involved in this whole ordeal. Thank you to Chris, Doug, Gloria and Jerry for staying with us the whole time. Thank you to the police department, which treated us very well. Thank you to the PAC-12 and the whole UCLA community that helped us the whole way. And thank you to the United States of government and President Trump for your efforts of bringing us home. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Jalen.
BALDWIN: All right, so there you have it, these three guys, these three UCLA basketball players, full-throated, scripted apologies and thank yous to the U.S. government and specifically to President Trump after they were just recently in China, happened to be at the same time that the president was on his Asian swing, when they were accused of trying to steal sunglasses from Louis Vuitton in China. Why they thought that might have been a good idea and how they thought they were going to get away with it, that's a whole other conversation.
[14:10:04] But the conversation today is the fact that they sat there in front of cameras, now that they're back here in the U.S., and thanked the president, this after the president's tweet, now that he's back home as well. The president tweeted, quote, do you think the three UCLA basketball players will say thank you President Trump. They were headed for ten years in jail.
I've got Shelby Holliday, S.E. Cupp and Brian Stelter with me here.
And so first to you, Shelby. Do you think President Trump, who watches a little bit of TV, sitting somewhere and saying, you're welcome.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, POLITICS AND BUSINESS REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": I think so. I mean he certainly wanted this apology. He mentioned it -- he tweeted it this morning.
I think the apology is well-deserved. They obviously all admitted wrongdoing. They admitted to shoplifting. And President Trump's who got them home.
I think a big question is, was there a deal struck? Did President Trump offered something to Xi Jinping in exchange of these three students. That's TBD. I know China wants a lot of things from the U.S. But, for now, I think the president, yes, would be very happy that he got his "thank you." And I think that thank you is well deserved.
BALDWIN: What do you think?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think they needed to apologize. What they did was stupid.
CUPP: And --
BALDWIN: It was one of their words.
CUPP: You know publicly reprimanded and embarrassed, as they should be.
I think there's a layer here with Trump asking for a thanks and probably now gloating and reveling in that thanks, which is that there's not a whole lot of athletes on Trump's side right now. A lot of athletes who are talking about politics are talking about how much they dislike the president and his rhetoric. So I think him trying to goad some athlete in the spotlight into thanking him and appreciating him is a political move. It's for (ph) strategy.
BALDWIN: Yes. Let's rip the Band-Aid off the conversation.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right.
BALDWIN: Is, you have these three black men and you have this, you know, white president. And part of it has been the undertone of based upon previous tweets --
CUPP: I was trying to skirt -- I'm trying to walk into this --
BALDWIN: I'm just going to go there.
CUPP: So you can run in. I was going to step in.
BALDWIN: And where I'm going with it is --
BALDWIN: You have this, you know, president essentially saying to these three black men essentially like, where is my apology.
CUPP: You better thank me because I got you home. And isn't it amazing to see three black athletes thanking the president. I don't think that's going to make someone like Colin Kaepernick second guess his thoughts on police brutality or any of the other athletes who have serious issues with race in this country or police brutality. I don't think it's going to change their minds.
CUPP: But Trump got a very small ego boost today apparently.
STELTER: By the way, I think they probably would have said thank you if the president hadn't tweeted about it. I think they probably would have said thank you regardless.
BALDWIN: What's this -- is this about credit with the president? I mean I read Chris Cillizza's piece about, you know, what does this tweet mean from the president. He makes this whole point about, this is about me and about I just -- I, being the president, needs credit for this.
STELTER: Yes. It feels like a little bit of resentment politics playing into the notion that he is owed gratitude. And, frankly, you know, this became a little bit of an international incident. I don't want to -- I don't want to overstate it.
STELTER: It's not clear how much evidence there was to support these three players being detained. But to the extent this became a little bit of an international incident, it's a win for the president that he was able to say he accomplished something here and he has these players on camera acknowledging -- as he said, they were stupid. I'll never make a mistake like this again. Pretty humble statements from those players. And I have a lot of respect for them sitting there in front of the international media saying that.
BALDWIN: Yes. Yes. Yes.
HOLLIDAY: I also think you could imagine the outraged if he didn't try to do something, if he just left them in China, in a Chinse prison. So the president, yes, of course, I think should have gotten them out if he could and he did, but he does want credit. We know he loves credit.
BALDWIN: Lets come back to the Roy Moore conversation. We're going to sneak a quick break in. We talked to Jeff Zeleny at the top of the hour from the White House. And so the story goes, we're waiting to hear from the president issuing some sort of statement at the top of the hour. No question to be asked of him. But the question on so many people's minds is, what, if anything, will the president of the United States say now that he's back in the thick of things in Washington? Will he weigh in on this scandal that has embroiled this Senate candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore. You have the Senate majority leaders, other top Republicans calling on him to step out of this race. Is the president waiting of the 24 hour clock that Sean Hannity put up. We don't know. Let's talk about it, coming up next here on CNN.
[14:18:41] BALDWIN: The top two Republicans in the Senate are now calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to become this write-in candidate for the Senate race that's engulfed in scandal right now. This is happening as all eyes now go to President Trump, who has yet to weigh in on the fate of Roy Moore, the candidate facing new accusations of sexual assault.
So, my panelists is back.
S.E., to you. Do you think -- and we don't know. This is a statement at 3:00. Let's say 3:00, maybe hours later, maybe even tomorrow, does President Trump wade in? Does he need to weigh in on this?
CUPP: No and no.
No, I don't think he does because for the same reason he hasn't really weighed in on a lot of the other sexual harassment allegations that have been sweeping the country. It's an uncomfortable area for him to go. He is still facing multiple sexual assault and harassment allegations himself. So I think he has been very glad that he was out of the country for much of this.
CUPP: But, two, he doesn't -- I don't think he does need to. Remember, Republicans in Alabama did not want Luther Strange because he was appointed by Washington. That's what they thought. That's what they saw. And they didn't want to vote for the appointed Senate candidate. They wanted to pick their own. And so for Trump to come in and say, this guy's got to step down, I think they hear Washington.
I think the bigger voice that needs to come out and tell Alabama this guy's got to go, you have to vote for someone else, is Jeff Sessions. He is an -- he is Alabama's favorite son. He still has a ton of credibility there. They don't see him as Washington, even though he is now the A.G.
[14:20:14] BALDWIN: Sure.
CUPP: I think he would be able to get them over -- over the hump and say, OK, we're out.
BALDWIN: So it's a bit of a conflict of interest when you talk about Jeff Sessions. And here's my question to you, because it's now been floated, Mitch McConnell and others, and Mitch McConnell is sort of a dirty word in Alabama depending on who you talk to in Republican circles.
BALDWIN: You know, the idea, well, OK, Jeff Sessions, it was your Senate seat that we're having -- now there's this whole mess, so why don't you just go back to becoming a senator and they can appoint a new A.G., which would be potentially even great for President Trump because we know how he's felt about his recusal from all things Russia. What are -- what's the likelihood of him a-la (ph) Lisa Murkowski write-in situation?
HOLLIDAY: Well, it's a tricky situation. And you know a lot of strategist have pointed out that if you are going to be a write-in candidate, you have to have huge name recognition, you have to be very well-liked in the state. Those are things that Jeff Sessions has, to your point, very well liked in Alabama.
But the GOP is in a really difficult situation. He would obviously have to leave his job, which he loves, but he would also -- as a write-in candidate -- Mo Brooks explained this the other day. If you are a write-in candidate you can't -- and you lose, you cannot be on the ballot again as a Republican.
HOLLIDAY: So you could also see this unraveling in a really bizarre way because Roy -- ballots have already been printed. People have already started voting absentee. Some people in Alabama love Roy Moore. They might cast a protest vote. Even they split that vote and hand the seat to a Democrat, or you could maybe even envision, if you're a conspiracy theorist, Democrats voting for Roy Moore, even though he drops out of the race, because his name's on the ballot and they want to split the ticket. It's very complicated, but I was talking to a legal expert and he said, no good options for the GOP.
BALDWIN: OK. Then you have the conservative media, Brian Stelter. You have the Sean Hannity -- I mean was your jaw on the floor when you were watching him last night when even he now is saying essentially to Roy Moore, judge, you have 24 hours to explain yourself?
STELTER: He has eight hours left. Yes.
CUPP: Brian's got the stop watch going.
BALDWIN: Do you think President Trump is --
STELTER: I do. I think maybe it's that countdown clock.
BALDWIN: Waiting for that?
STELTER: I mean Sean Hannity's voice can't be underestimated in this conversation.
STELTER: He -- and he's the only person that's interviewed Moore since this scandal broke. He asked some tough questions of Moore. He didn't like the answers. I think Hannity has his finger in the air, seeing what ways the wind is blowing. He can tell that he needs to back away from Moore. He'll probably do that tonight on his television broadcast, which will be watched by President Trump.
You know, President Andrew Jackson had his kitchen cabinet of unofficial advisers. President Trump has a TV cabinet. He has Hannity. He has "Fox and Friends." He has a lot of hosts in between. He's listening to I think probably all the cable news channels, all the debate about Moore, now that he's back in the U.S., and maybe making up his mind.
Whether he does weighs in or not, and I think he does need to weigh in. Isn't he allegedly endorsing Roy Moore now that Luther Strange lost? Isn't President Trump on the record endorsing this man? I think the president's going to have a lot of reporters shouting questions at him until he says something about Roy Moore.
BALDWIN: Do you think that the president is going to take a cue from Sean Hannity on this one, S.E.? I'm serious.
CUPP: I think he could. I think Sean Hannity and his Fox cabinet, we don't need to say television, you can just say Fox cabinet --
STELTER: OK. All right.
CUPP: You know, Judge Jeanine and all his friends over there. I think he does take a lot of cues. And they give him permission to go in various places.
STELTER: Yes. True (ph).
CUPP: When they shift or change, he shifts and changes.
BALDWIN: When I move, you move.
CUPP: Yes, a lot of times.
BALDWIN: I got you.
CUPP: And vice versa. There's symbiosis there. When he shifts, they shift.
CUPP: So I think Sean coming out and saying, I'm done, I'm out, could give Trump some cover.
The problem is, Sean -- what Sean asked Roy Moore to do was come on and explain some of the inconsistencies. He's not asking Roy Moore to step down. It's this weird -- and I've heard it from a number of Republicans who really want to keep supporting Roy Moore but --
STELTER: Give us a way to do it. Give us a way to support you.
CUPP: Give us a way to do it. And I just haven't heard anyone else come to say Harvey Weinstein and say, well, just explain some of your denials or your inconsistencies, like, we'll give you that opportunity and maybe this goes away if you're convincing enough. But, you know, that's where some of these guys are and we'll see what happens in eight hours.
STELTER: Seven and a half hours now.
CUPP: Stick, stick, stick.
Brian and Shelby and S.E., thank you all so much.
Again, the president speaking, issuing some sort of statement from the White House at the top of the hour. Obviously we'll take that live.
Ahead here on CNN, harassment on The Hill. Explosive allegations that two current lawmakers are harassers and that millions of dollars have been paid out to accusers.
We'll be right back.
[14:29:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your reaction to a report that Roy Moore was not allowed into a mall (ph).
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I've met a lot of people in the mall. And if you get kicked out of the mall, that's a pretty bad situation to find yourself in.
Now, I just -- I think the evidence is becoming overwhelming that he had a problem. That people are now coming forward to say that back in the late '70s, early '80s, he was on the no flight list for (INAUDIBLE) mall, which, to me, is pretty stunning. So it gives credibility to the allegations of these -- these women. And, you know, he's portraying himself as a (INAUDIBLE) and really he's being held to account for behavior that was at the minimum creepy. And I have no reason to -- I think the women's allegations have a ream (ph) of truth and this stuff about the mall just sort of confirms the behavior in question.
So it's up to the people of Alabama I guess to deal with this. It's a shame that, you know, the Republican Party finds itself where we are. I'd like the Republican Party of Alabama to step up and fix this problem for the good of the state of Alabama and the country as a whole and certainly for the Republican Party.
[14:30:09] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, senator --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to see the president weigh in and join your calls for Roy Moore to step down?