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Senators in Russia Probe Say Jared Kushner Failed to Hand Over Some Russia Docs; New Bush 41 Accuser Emerges; #MeToo Campaign Grows as More Accusers Make Claims; Secretary Rex Tillerson Under Fire for Turmoil at State Department; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired November 17, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:09] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: The Russia investigation inching closer to the White House on two fronts. Special Counsel Robert Mueller issuing a subpoena to obtain more Russia-related documents from the Trump campaign.
Sources telling CNN investigators are looking for things that they're not seeing in the documents they already have and this comes as senators are turning their attention to the president's son-in-law, saying Jared Kushner got e-mails about WikiLeaks and about a Russian backdoor overture and a dinner invite and he failed to turn those over to the judiciary panel. And now they want those documents and more.
CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has been following the investigations and the developments.
So what exactly are they looking for at this point? What do they say they just don't have enough of?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, the whole investigation is about whether there were contacts and what those contacts were between the Trump campaign and people affiliated with Russia or the Russian government. The -- one of the key questions is what did Jared Kushner know or do in connection with Russia. He's been mentioned many times in this. He attended the infamous meeting in June at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer.
And one of the things investigators always do, they triangulate. You know, they see references in one e-mail to another e-mail and they don't -- then they know what they're not seeing. So apparently what they are not seeing is there are more e-mails from -- involving, connecting Jared Kushner that they haven't turned over.
HILL: Is some of this truly as we've a heard just clean up?
TOOBIN: You know, I think that may be wishful thinking on the part of people affiliated with Trump and his White House. I don't know that it's not true.
TOOBIN: But, you know, the fact that they do not have all the information that they want doesn't mean that they are finished. It means that they are still investigating. HILL: And they are possibly seeing more things. To your point that
raise further questions or that they want to know more about in terms of that triangulation?
TOOBIN: Exactly. I mean, I am certain that Robert Mueller does not want to make a career of this investigation. You know, the Ken Starr investigation took four or five years. Lawrence Walsh's investigation of Iran-contra, which I worked on, took five years.
I don't think Mueller wants any part of that. But remember, he was only appointed in May, which is not that long ago and these are complicated investigations which may take considerably more time.
HILL: Well, and to your point, while he may not want it to last overly long at the same time this is not something -- I mean, not that any investigation, obviously, would be rushed but certainly not this one, with so much scrutiny at this point. It's not something you're going to rush through anyway.
TOOBIN: Right. And remember, he's indicted Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. That trial isn't even scheduled until May of next year. So the idea that this is somehow about to end just doesn't even seem legally possible, much less likely.
HILL: When we look at Jared Kushner and this request and investigators want more and they're specific about what they're asking, but it's not the first time that he's withheld information and he had to amend his national security questionnaire and there are all these things that popped up. When you look at that is that evidence of maybe a mistake on Jared Kushner's part, bad legal counsel, or perhaps great legal counsel, which is saying, you know what, don't just say anything until you need to?
TOOBIN: Or, another possibility, intentional obstruction of justice, not turning over things you know you should turn over. This is certainly a question that any reasonable investigator would be asking. It is certainly possible to make mistakes and there is no crime in making a mistake in failing to turn over something you just didn't notice or you just were not aware of, but if you are keeping secrets in response to a subpoena, that is obstruction of justice.
And that is a question that given the repeated failures of Jared Kushner to turn over what he's asked for, is certainly a question that's worthy of being asked and I am certain is being asked by the Mueller team.
HILL: Jeffrey Toobin, appreciate it. Nice to see you.
TOOBIN: Nice to see you, Erica Hill.
HILL: Thank you.
Another woman says she was groped by Bush 41, this time while he was president. And this comes as more women step forward to tell their stories as the #metoo movement picks up momentum and certainly not just in Washington. Ahead, I'll speak with the movement's creator.
[10:38:36] HILL: This morning new allegations of inappropriate behavior against former president George H.W. Bush. A woman from Michigan says he groped her rear end at a reelection campaign fundraiser back in 1992. This is the first time he's been accused of unwanted behavior while he was in office.
CNN correspondent Athena Jones joins me now with more.
So what specifically we're hearing about these allegations, Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erica. Well, this is a woman who reached out to me. She says this happened in April of 1992 at a fundraiser in Dearborn, Michigan. This was during the re- election campaign that Bush was running at the time and she says that she attended the fundraiser with her father. She was 30 years old at the time and she says that the then-president groped her while in a photo op.
This is very similar to the allegations we've heard from several other women who come forward to say the same thing in the last several weeks.
Here's what she told me. She said, "We got closer together for a family photo and it was like, holy crap," that was her describing the moment that she says this happened. "It was like a gentle squeeze."
Now this woman does not want her name used. She wants to avoid media attention but I did speak with both her ex-husband and her best friend who both told me that she told them about the incident at the time that it happened.
Now Bush's spokesman Jim McGrath declined to comment on this latest allegation, but as I mentioned this story is very similar to the other allegations that we've heard in recent weeks.
[10:40:02] And when the first allegations surfaced at the end of October you may remember they were all dealing with incidents these women said happened in recent years, 2014, 2015, 2016. What is significant about the latest allegation is that it was 25 years ago while the president was still in office.
At the time of those first allegations in late October, Bush's spokesperson Jim McGrath put out a statement mentioning his age and the fact that he now uses a wheelchair but also acknowledging that the former president had, in McGrath's, word patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.
Now, Erica, several of the women I've spoken with said that they were irritated by that explanation. This woman is one of them. She said all of the focus has been on he's old. "OK, but he wasn't old when it happened to me. I've been debating what to do about it." She said he was a sitting president running for re-election and. And one last thing, Eric, these women have not -- it's not been easy
for them to come forward that is why many of them took years to do so. They were afraid of the backlash -- Erica.
HILL: Athena Jones with that update for us. Athena, thank you.
Also want to let you know about this, just coming into us at CNN, seven women who used to work for Senator Al Franken have released a statement defending their former boss. It reads, "Many of us spent years working for Senator Franken in Minnesota and in Washington. In our time working for the senator he treated us with the utmost respect. He valued our work and our opinions and was a champion for women. Both in the legislation he supported and in promoting women in leadership roles in our offices."
Joining me now is the creator of the #metoo campaign, Tarana Burke, who's here with us on set.
You know, it's funny, we talked about your interview last night. We talked about it this morning and in between that time, things have changed yet again. I actually just want to get your take on what we're hearing, Athena is reporting there and the reporting about, at the end the woman who reached out to her who said, you know, initially we were hearing well, he's old.
TARANA BURKE, CREATOR, #METOO CAMPAIGN: Right.
HILL: And we were talking briefly for a long time it was well, you know, he's just a dirty old man, and maybe you would -- I'm not saying that in reference to the former president but that was the thinking when this would happen with someone who was older and the bottom line is who cares if they're old or not.
BURKE: That's right. It's really about our agency and our body and I think people are -- I'm starting to here grumblings of like, oh, gosh, everything is a thing now, everything is a #metoo moment. But really I think this is a lesson for the country, right. I think people don't understand what sexual harassment is and what it does to the people who are harassed, and so yes, a grope is inappropriate. Whether you're a sitting president or you're a janitor, it's about a person's (INAUDIBLE) of their own body.
HILL: It's definitely opening up a conversation. It has been referred to -- what's happening in the country right now, has been referred to as a watershed moment. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell speaking with my colleague, Alisyn Camerota, earlier this morning, though, said she's not really impressed by the so-called progress we've seen. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Hasn't the tide turned?
REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: No. And I've said that to my colleagues. I don't think it's the watershed moment that so many people think it is because I still think that for too many there are consequences in naming who the person is and what we have to do is change the culture and that we have to have everybody speak up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Would you agree with that?
BURKE: Yes. I think that, you know, people have given this a lot of titles, tipping point watershed moment, and it is -- I think it is an opening, but culture shift has to start somewhere and this is definitely a start in a shift in how we think about sexual harassment, how we think about sexual violence in general, and so I don't want to downplay the gravity of what's happening because it takes a lot for these women to come forward and disclose.
HILL: It does take a lot. And it's interesting in the beginning, I think we can all say a lot of this started with the women who came forward in relation to Harvey Weinstein. And we look at all of these, you know, big names that people know. There's Bill O'Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, even President Trump, you know, and yet, as difficult as it would seem to come forward if you were accusing a well-known person in a lot of ways it's even more difficult if your boss or the person who is harassing you is not known at all.
BURKE: That's right. Yes. Because a lot of these -- these are women -- the women who have come forward have careers that are thriving, they're wealthy. If you're just a person who is living from paycheck to paycheck or just need your career, your job to survive it's way more difficult to come forward.
HILL: So how does that part of the equation change? Where do we give them, these people, the resources that they need that they can come forward, that they change that?
BURKE: Well, see, that's where I think the people who have the power and privilege who are coming forward can make a shift. Congress, legislatures need to make policies and create policies that help people that are not just in Congress, but people who are on the ground in these everyday jobs. People who have the power to do so have to make those changes.
HILL: Even what we're seeing in Congress, you know, bipartisan legislations that have been put forth, the #metoo act, is any of that enough?
HILL: What does it do?
BURKE: The #metoo act, the so-called #metoo act is about the people on Capitol Hill. Now I do think it's progressive. I think it is very progressive to make sure that the people who are employed on Capitol Hill and make our laws have sexual harassment training but I think the priority should be on the people who they serve, their constituents who are largely survivors of sexual violence. We need policies and legislation to help and affect them. [10:45:11] HILL: Was it surprising to you at all that there actually
had to be something -- some things passed to say oh, yes, it's time for some sort of harassment training on the Hill? I found that surprising because I think we sit through it every year.
HILL: I also just -- I mean just out of curiosity, I was looking this up for a different interview yesterday, just in terms of the research that's been done behind how effective these workplace harassment training programs are, and it's interesting, there's not a lot of study that's been done on them. Do you have a sense of how well they are or are not working?
BURKE: I don't have a sense of how well they are or aren't working. I do know that it is imperative that people understand sexual harassment. And so when -- there are people making a lot of distinctions, like, oh, I just made this comment or I just touched her on the breast lightly, or I was -- you know, there's various things. So people do need to understand it.
And so I think training is necessary so that people have a baseline understanding of it, but also we need to recognize that sexual harassment is an entry point to sexual violence and sexual abuse and so we have to take it seriously and nip it in the bud wherever it rears its head.
HILL: And we have to keep the conversation going.
HILL: One that you started long ago with the hash tag and it's good to see it revived. It's such a pleasure to meet you in person. Thank you.
BURKE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
HILL: Thanks for all the work you're doing.
The state of the State Department, Secretary Tillerson under fire for how he is running things and some worried it's actually putting this country in danger.
But first, this week on "PARTS UNKNOWN," Anthony Bourdain travels to Seattle. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": Local smelled flash brine and served with pepper ronchini (PH), sambal aioli (PH). Local dungeonous crab cooked and chilled with pickled ginger sauce, and oysters, lots of oysters.
Seattle has been for a very long time considered one of the more foodie -- for lack of a better word foodie cities. Yes. And you ask people why generally they say the sheer abundance of really good ingredients.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Exactly, I mean, you got the ocean there, you've got cattle country and orchard country just over the mountains.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To say one of the things that's changed in Seattle is there's not just the high place market but every neighborhood has --
BOURDAIN: Has a green market.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. So those entrepreneurs have a place to sell, they can go to all the markets or just some of them, but it's really fantastic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[10:51:50] HILL: The president meeting with secretary -- the secretary of State later today, as Rex Tillerson is under fire for his efforts to reform the State Department. Even facing allegations he is putting the United States in danger. Some critics worry Tillerson's overhaul will result in a lack experienced personnel in the future.
I want to bring in CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott.
So, Elise, specifically, what is causing this alarm at the State Department?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, you know, Secretary Tillerson has faced a lot of criticism on the Hill for, you know, not filling State Department positions, for his management decisions at State, and now for his kind of re-design of the State Department.
This latest wave of criticism was prompted by this letter of the head of the Foreign Service Association, this kind of union that represents the foreign service, warning that senior levels of the foreign service are, you know, kind of leaving in droves and this is undermining the diplomacy of America, making America less safe.
And, you know, you've not only heard Senator McCain, Senator Shaheen but Secretary Tillerson's, you know, closest allies like Bob Corker, you know, say that they need more answers, that they want him to promote more people, they want to fill more positions, they want to keep those senior levels of the foreign service.
Now the numbers don't necessarily right now indicate any kind of mass exodus, although a lot of people at the senior ranks have left, but I think that there is really a morale problem at the State Department, Erica. A lot of people don't feel that Secretary Tillerson appreciates that long-time experience. He has a little bit more of an insular and, you know, there's this whole distrustful attitude of long-time career employees. Not just at the State Department but in the whole Trump administration.
So I think it's really the morale issue that he needs to address, that leadership, letting the State Department and the career foreign service, these diplomats that have served in Republican and Democratic administrations, sometimes for decades, that he appreciates their leadership.
HILL: To that point, Elise, this is something that we have talked about since this administration first took office. And talked about the issues that it has caused, talked about the morale issue, is there a sense at all, though, that those conversations and the sentiments are actually getting through to the top brass, to the secretary of State and even others in other departments?
LABOTT: Well, I mean look, I think Secretary Tillerson is very press shy. Again he has this very insular attitude. So it's hard to really ask him these questions. The people at the State Department, there are some, I have to say, a lot of career employees have been serving in these acting positions and they are advising him, but you have, you know, 25,000 employees worldwide that are full-time employees at the State Department, 75,000 if you include that those foreign service nationals that serve in all these embassies around the world.
And there's just not this feeling that he's kind of wants to hear from them, that he's fighting for them. There have been, you know, a budget cut of maybe a third of the budget at the State Department. The secretary is doing this redesign of the department, he calls it employee led.
Look, I've seen him in the cafeteria meeting with groups of foreign service officers, but I think again it's that public leadership that they're looking to see from him that he's actually saying to them, I appreciate you.
[10:55:12] HILL: And it's little words that go a long, long way and mean a lot.
Elise Labott, thank you.
Officials are investigating after the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota leaks again. The biggest spill to date. We're talking about at least 210,000 gallons. That's about 5,000 barrels of oil which spilled yesterday. The pipeline's owner TransCanada said the pipeline has been shut down.
This spill comes just days after officials in Nebraska are set to announce a decision on permitting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, that sister project to the South Dakota pipeline.
Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore remains defiant and in just minutes Moore's wife along with several women are set to speak out to defend him. We'll have much more on that coming up.