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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Trump Supports Moore Despite Sex Abuse Allegations; Roy Moore's Opponent Speaks Out. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 21, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Trump Moore 2017 -- now we know.
Good evening. John Berman here, in for Anderson.
We begin tonight keeping them honest. The president of the United States of America is backing a candidate who was credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl. Now we know.
We pretty much knew last night and we spent a lot of time at exactly this moment 24 hours ago talking about it. But this time, he actually said it out loud with words repeatedly with the added touch of seeming to question the memory of alleged sexual abuse victims. We'll play what he said in just a moment.
This all began at a press conference this afternoon at a press conference in Alabama to defend Roy Moore to attack the media and to attack the women accusing him of sexual abuse, some of whom were minors at the time. This is what Moore campaign strategist Dean Young said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN YOUNG, MOORE CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: This election has ramifications not only for Alabama, not only for the United States but for the world. And, by the way, that's why you saw Kellyanne come out yesterday and say, we've got to have somebody like Judge Moore. We've got to have someone like Judge Moore.
You know, Kellyanne does talk to the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: He is speaking, of course, about Kellyanne Conway, latching on to her words criticizing Moore's opponent Doug Jones on "Fox & Friends", when she was asked if that meant that she and the administration support Roy Moore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal which is why he's not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: So, vote Roy Moore?
CONWAY: I'm telling you, that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Keep in mind, the White House had been dancing around this issue for weeks. They said the president would not weigh in on Moore or the accusations of molestations and attempted rape, first, because the president was in Asia, then it was the voters of Alabama should decide.
While all that ended today went at almost the exact same time Roy Moore's campaign strategist was nodding to White House support, the president stopped beating around the bush and said this on the White House lawn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell you for a fact we do not need somebody that's going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment.
REPORTER: Mr. President, is an accused child molester better than a Democrat? Is an accused child molester --
TRUMP: Well, he denies it. Look, he denies it. I mean, if you look at what is really going on and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn't happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now we know. The president supports Roy Moore.
Gone is any pretense that this was a difficult issue for him to navigate personally or politically. Gone has any idea he didn't want to meddle in Alabama elections. Gone frankly is any notion that these words from his press secretary were grounded in reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes this is a decision for the people of Alabama to make. The people of Alabama should make the decisions. The people of Alabama should be the ones to make the decision. The decision that the people of Alabama need to make.
It's up to the people of Alabama to make the decision. The president as I've said about seven or eight times now thinks that this is a decision for the people of Alabama to make. It's up to the governor and the state of -- the people in the state of Alabama to make a determination.
I've addressed it quite a few times. The position of the White House hasn't changed. It's up to the people of Alabama to make the determination on who their next senator should be.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So, now, we know the president does not believe that should be left up to Alabamians. He apparently doesn't believe the eighth accusation of the sexual misconduct against Roy Moore, nor does he believe the thirteen women who have come forward to tell their own stories of being sexually harassed by Donald Trump, he and the White House have called these women liars. He said he would sue them after the election. That hasn't happened.
This afternoon, after he repeatedly and emphatically said that Roy Moore denies all the allegations, the president was asked what his message to women is. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Women are very special. I think it's a very special time because a lot of things are coming out and I think that's good for our society and I think it's very, very good for women. And I'm very happy a lot of these things are coming out. And I'm very happy -- I'm very happy it's being exposed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, in the president's words, women are very special. Some women it seems anyway. He wants you to believe the women who accused Bill Clinton, for example, he wants you to believe the women who accused Harvey Weinstein, the president said he was quote not at all surprised to see allegations against him.
Other women? Not so special, not the women accusing Roy Moore, not the women accusing Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes. And, of course, not the women accusing Donald Trump. None of them at least special enough to believe.
One thing that is special according to Ivanka Trump, she says there's a special place in hell for people who prey on children. That place must not be near Alabama for her father because he left open the idea of going to campaign there for a man accused of molesting a year old girl.
[20:05:09] Now we know.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins us now. He's traveling in Florida with the president.
Jeff, you got some remarkable reporting about what was behind the president's decision to speak out loud about this today.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, good evening.
First and foremost, we should point out that this was a relatively easy decision for the president to make. He's not going against the base of his party. He's not going against a Roy Moore's defiance there. He simply is accepting his denials essentially, in touting the denials again and again. But the reporting we've gotten and we heard the president say there in
the last 48 hours, I am told by someone close to this White House the noise and confusion from all of these allegations of sexual misconduct from Hollywood to the media to politics has actually helped the president along and coming out publicly with his support of Roy Moore. He believes that it's simply -- you know, there simply is more than one bad guy here. He is simply you know essentially able to make the argument to stick with a Roy Moore.
But also, John, pure politics is at the heart of this. We heard that Kellyanne Conway yesterday was she was saying. That was a strategy. That was not as someone speaking off message there. She rarely does that.
They want to hold the seat in Republican hands here, so the president finally came out today. This was not some impromptu a remarks he gave, he said exactly in what he's been saying privately in the West Wing, that he believes these denials here. And by doing that, certainly undercutting the stories of all these women, John.
BERMAN: The calculated decision to back an accused child molester rather than have a Democrat. At the end of the day, Jeff, did these allegations -- these some eight allegations or accusations, including the molesting a 14-year-old, do they have any impact on the president as far as you know?
ZELENY: At the end of the day, it seems not, because the president seems to be siding with the denials from Judge Moore, and it certainly sounded familiar, where the president, you know, issuing so many denials during his own presidential campaign. But the White House has been watching over these last days since these allegations first came out and the fact that a Judge Moore decided to stay defiant, stay in this race, the White House still thinks he can win, John.
So, at the end of the day, politics here and holding that seat seems to be far more important than these specific allegations that were actually talking about.
BERMAN: All right. Jeff Zeleny in Florida for us -- Jeff, thank you so much. Thank you for the reporting.
Joining me now, Bill Britt, the editor-in-chief of the "Alabama Political Reporter". Also with us, Tara Setmayer and Mike Shields.
Mike, I want to start with you. Last week, the White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said in regards to Roy Moore, quote, there is no Senate seat worth more than a child.
So, how do you juxtapose that message from Kellyanne Conway with the message from the president today backing Roy Moore?
MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, John. First of all, let me just state that if I was in Alabama, I wouldn't vote for Roy Moore and I think it's an important that women like this come forward, and that they initially be believed so that we can look into it. I think there's some credible stories and credible reporting around here. So, I would write in somebody else. I also wouldn't vote for the Democrat.
But he's saying that as someone who lives in Virginia, it probably helps -- I just probably helped Roy Moore with some voters in Alabama because I think what's going on is people are seeing that Roy Moore could win. I think that's one of the shifts that's happened I think that Steve Bannon is doing an effective job of talking to the president about this race, you know, he's back to Roy Moore from the very beginning.
And I think that they're looking and seeing that he could win and if he wins, it means the people of Alabama have chosen him in an election after they heard these allegations. And so, I think that's driving a lot of this. I think when people like me and Mitch McConnell and Jeff Flake say something bad about Roy Moore, all it does is help increase his chances of winning the election. I think the White House knows that.
BERMAN: It's not just those people. Oh let's say it's Ivanka Trump, for instance, who says she believes the accusers and there's a special place in hell for people who prey on women.
Tara, of course, it's not lost on many people that Roy Moore's campaign is following a similar playbook that Donald Trump and his campaign did when it comes to accusations of sexual misconduct, which is deny, attack the accusers and attack the media.
TARA SETMAYER, ABC NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, absolutely. I mean, why not? The president was rewarded with the presidency last year after the "Access Hollywood" tape. So, I'm not surprised. I think it's terribly selfish of Roy Moore.
Those in -- I'm grateful to see that there are many in the Republican Party who have condemned this and said that he should step aside. Almost all of his colleagues I believe -- potential colleagues in the Senate have done so.
But it's also been Jeff Sessions. You know, Jeff Sessions isn't -- you know, he's beloved in Alabama. He said the same thing that he believes the women.
You know, this whole thing is really disturbing because of the party tribalism that we're seeing taking place here. This is the stench of this race, is going to hinder the Republican Party moving forward if Roy Moore wins.
[20:10:04] I can see the campaign ads already in 2018 and 2020 associating the Republican Party with this kind of despicable character and that people were excusing this away.
I mean, it's -- it's not good for the Republican Party and all of this for what, for a tax vote? I'm sorry, but there's no vote, no policy, nothing worth allowing this level of character deficit to be in the Senate for a vote? The long-term implications of this I think are troubling and could be irreparably damaging to the Republican -- not only Republican Party but the country as a whole because what does that say that for us as a society that this is how low the bar will go for party tribalism?
Our Founding Fathers --
SHIELDS: Well, but, Tara --
BERMAN: Hang on, guys. I want to bring Bill into this discussion because he's on the ground in Alabama, among other things.
And, Bill, I've had a chance to talk to you over the course of the last few weeks, the ebbs and flows of this story. How powerful do you think the president's statement will be today? He basically said he's backing Roy Moore. What difference will it make?
BILL BRITT, EDITOR IN CHIEF, ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it didn't make a lot of difference when the president back Luther Strange, but it makes some difference. It gives some of the folks that have wavered or are in the middle an opportunity to vote.
And beyond being despicable, I mean, this is Alabama. We have a right to make up our own line about the candidate. Me, personally, I have my personal opinion.
But it's the people of Alabama who go to the polls, not Washington, D.C., not New York City, not California, but the people of Alabama. We're not rubes and stooges that can't see the facts, even though we're portrayed that way even by our own people.
BERMAN: Well, look, I mean I certainly would never want to give that impression at all, but presidents in political leaders often endorse candidates. You know, usually endorse candidates particularly when they are of their own party. So, the president's endorsement or non endorsement would be notable in this case, and the fact that he was withholding it for a period of time but now essentially delivering it is in fact notable.
Mike Shields, I didn't want to jump on you. You were trying to get back into the conversation.
SHIELDS: Well, I agree with him at that point. I mean, Tara, yes, there is -- there is party tribalism going on here and it happens on both sides, but it's much deeper than that. You also have a completely functionally broken relationship with millions of Americans with the media. I mea, part of the problem -- part of the pushback from the Roy Moore camp was that this came out in "The Washington Post", and there are millions of Alabamians who go, well, that makes sense.
SHIELDS: And we're not having a conversation at "The Washington Post" to say, how did we get there? How did -- what did we do to cause ourselves that when these victims come forward, which we want -- hang on -- which we want them to do and then -- and then we put them in our publication and people immediately dismiss it? And then, finally, I think what the president is recognizing is
consistent with what he said before, which is -- I'm telling you, I wouldn't vote for him and I don't want my party -- the people of Alabama are going to make a decision --
BERMAN: Hang on, guys. We're going to take a quick break here.
Leave me two points clear. Number one, the president's not saying it's up to the people of Alabama anymore. The president's making clear that he wants Roy Moore --
SHIELDS: I think he's recognizing that the people of Alabama to make the decision.
BERMAN: Second point, you can criticize "The Washington Post" all you want, "The Washington Post" also did the Charlie Rose story.
SETMAYER: That's right.
BERMAN: And I bet you that there are a lot of conservatives in Alabama who won't find --
SETMAYER: And that Alabama local papers have also reported on this. So, it's not "The Washington Post". So, that's nonsense.
SHIELDS: No, I'm talking about what they've done before this.
BERMAN: We're going to talk a lot more about this after the break. We have much more to discuss.
Roy Moore's opponent Doug Jones took a new tack today in the campaign trail, calling out the allegations specifically, that's after he said at first that he would focus on the issues. We'll get to that change in strategy and hear what he told our Gary Tuchman, next.
And later, new sexual misconduct allegations on Capitol Hill and incredibly complex and bureaucratic process to even report harassment in Congress and payouts happen. It's all secret even when it's your tax dollars being used to fit the bill, and we're keeping them honest.
[20:16:58] BERMAN: Only three weeks left until the Alabama U.S. Senate special election, Roy Moore's opponent Doug Jones is now campaigning as a direct alternative to Moore. That comes after earlier in the week when Jones said he was going to stay in his own lane and talk about the issues. This is a new campaign ad that captures the new strategy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD ANNOUNCER: On Roy Moore's disturbing actions, Ivanka Trump says there's a special place in hell for people who prey on children, and I have no reason to doubt the victims' accounts.
Jeff Sessions says, I have no reason to doubt these young women. And Richard Shelby says he will absolutely not vote for Roy Moore.
Conservative voices putting children and women over party, doing what's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Today, Doug Jones also spoke forcefully against Moore at a press conference in Huntsville, Alabama. That's where we find our Gary Tuchman.
And, Gary, Doug Jones has been reticent to get into the accusations against his opponents so far did that change today?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you're right. Doug Jones has been relatively quiet about Roy Moore since this article appeared in "The Washington Post". He's chosen his words very carefully. So, today, after a campaign event here in Huntsville, Alabama, in the northern portion of the state, I asked him some very specific questions about the situation.
TUCHMAN: You've been quieter than any others, including lots of Republicans in the U.S. Senate about Judge Roy Moore. My question is -- if you can answer it directly -- do you believe Roy Moore was a sexual predator?
DOUG JONES (D), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I believe the women. I think that answers the question. I believe their stories have credibility and I believe them.
TUCHMAN: But a lot of people think they're credible with that sure, do you believe he was a sexual predator?
JONES: I believe their stories. I'm not going to call names, OK? I believe their stories. I'm not going to call names. I'm not going to label people. I believe their stories.
TUCHMAN: And if I can ask you one follow-up question. Donald Trump, today, the president of the United States, tacitly endorsed Roy Moore. And he said you're terrible on crime and terrible on the borders.
How do you feel that Donald Trump at this point is endorsing -- tacitly endorsing -- a man who has been accused to be a child molester?
JONES: I'm going to let -- I'm going to let the people of Alabama make that decision. I feel like my record speaks for itself, and I don't have to have the president or anyone else to talk about it or try to label it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: Many politicians on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill have called for Roy Moore to drop out of the race. But not the Democrat who's facing him here, who's getting ready for the elections three weeks from today -- John.
BERMAN: Gary, so how does Doug Jones feel about the polls which seem to have improved for him at least a little bit since the allegations came out?
TUCHMAN: Yes, despite the fact that the polls are trending in his favor, Doug Jones says, hey, let's put it this way, just like the head coach of the University of Alabama football team or the Auburn University football team, two schools here in Alabama who have a very big football game this Saturday, I don't care about the polls. I don't worry about the polls. All I care about is what happens on election day -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Gary Tuchman for us in Alabama -- thanks so much.
Back now with our panel.
Bill Britt, I want to start with you. The most recent poll we've seen is the Fox News poll which had Doug Jones up by eight points.
[20:20:04] It seems like an awful lot for a Democrat to be leading in Alabama.
Do you think that's legit or do you still think Doug Jones is the underdog here?
BRITT: Well, I think that what we're seeing internally on some polls that are -- that are not being published is that that -- those polls are not quite accurate. You know, those polls start out with asking a number of questions, do you believe the accusers? Do you believe this? Do you think Roy Moore is that?
It goes into all the allegation, then ask the question, are you voting for Roy Moore?
I mean, it kind of taints the poll when you ask a bunch of questions about allegations against Moore, and then say are you voting for him? I mean, most people wouldn't want to say yes to that. I'm not saying the poll is not a good poll. It's just it -- we question it when you have all those allegations before you ask the question, will you vote for Roy Moore?
We're seeing that and I think Doug Jones is seeing what we're seeing is that the race is close but he's not got it in the bag.
BERMAN: Why do you think he decided to now directly address the accusations against Roy Moore?
BRITT: Because like all good politicians, he doesn't care about the polls until they're not favoring him. So, he has to be aggressive. I mean, the smart strategy was to stay quiet and let Roy Moore burn.
But now that the polls are saying, hey, this is still a real contest, he has to come out and fervently blast Moore because, listen, that's what any good politician and that's what the people of that that don't like Roy Moore, the people that see these accusers as credible, which many, many people do and should, and to attack him now -- that's the smart money.
BERMAN: On the subject of attacking and blasting, we're seeing the same in reverse from Roy Moore's campaign at this press conference today. People who work for him really went after Doug Jones and they're doing it on wedge issues. Let's look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN YOUNG, MOORE CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Abortion until the baby's born. He's for transgenders going into you little girls bathrooms, and boys pretending like they're girls going into the bathrooms with your children at school. And Alabamians, if you've got a teenager -- that's in the locker room, girl, and one of these transgender people decide they want to be a girl for the day, well, Doug Jones thinks they should be able to go take a bath -- a shower with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Mike, we should point out that Doug Jones does not, you know, support full term abortions there, which is what was just suggested there. And while he supports transgender rights, we don't know where he stands on showers for instance. But you could see what was being done there, pushing these issues which matter to some conservative voters in Alabama.
Mike, how effective will that be?
SHIELDS: Yes, I mean, look, as a campaign strategist, I would tell you -- the fact that that Jones is running that ad means that he's seeing a problem, because if he thought he could let the press handle the story and then he could talk about other things, he would do that. The fact that he's needing to pour gasoline on the fire to keep it going and then if you look at it, it means that he sees he sees a problem as well. And then from the Roy Moore camp, of course, what they want to do is let's not talk about this anymore and let's talk about the things that we know we would win on, because if the campaign was about what that strategist has talked about, Roy Moore would win the election.
I mean, this is Alabama. The voters are with Roy Moore on those issues. And so, it makes perfect sense to me that that's what his campaign would try to shift to because it's a conservative state and just to finally say -- if the people of Alabama elect Roy Moore, they will have done so with all of this being out in the open, it's not as though they won't have seen all of these stories and a lot of reporting and it's now on TV ads. So, they'll have made this decision as Americans at the ballot box with a lot of information about these accusations.
BERMAN: To that point, Tara, if Roy Moore is elected, do you really believe that Mitch McConnell and some 14 Republican senators have come out saying that they don't want to see Roy Moore in the Senate, do you think they would move to push him out?
SETMAYER: I don't think so because once he's duly elected, which is true, the people of Alabama will if he wins, they've chosen him, regardless of the accusations, it would be difficult -- there's really no precedent for removing -- expelling someone for something they haven't done while they were in the Senate or for not having, you know, ineligibility issues with being a senator. They have to seat him. I don't think legally, it would hold up, as much as they would like to there I don't think that's the right thing to do.
But I just want to say something that I didn't get a chance to say it the last segment about the media. This is exactly why Donald Trump went out and continues to attack the media, calling the media the enemy of the state and on and fake news, fake news. It's to discredit the media for doing their jobs, so when it comes time to hold elected officials or people running for office, public officials accountable, that is muddied the waters so much that there's so much distrust that people don't believe in facts.
[20:25:00] This is a tactic --
SHIELDS: But, Tara -- can I respond to that?
SETMAYER: No, I'm just -- you got the chance that last time.
This is a tactic that the president has used throughout his campaign, throughout his presidency and his followers listen to that. Has there been a liberal bias, has there been problems in the past with some reporting in the media? Yes, but the entire establishment, the media, the fourth estate, is not an enemy of the people. And you're seeing that distrust and how that's trickling down into this race in Alabama where people are not believing a story that is well-researched, well- sourced, with over 50 people corroborating what happened here and still calling it fake news.
BERMAN: Mike, last word?
SHIELDS: Donald Trump didn't get elected and discredited the media. The media discredit themselves, which is why Donald Trump got elected. And it's why it's a shame we need a strong media that can report things, they need to look at themselves and ask what they've done over the last 20 years before Donald Trump came to office that people would see these stories and immediately dismiss them.
And that's on "The Washington Post" and the media to focus that attention on themselves, not keep blaming the president for who got elected because that situation existed in the first place.
BERMAN: Well, as far as I know, at this point, there's nothing in these stories -- these well-reported stories by "The Washington Post" specifically, and there are other stories and other papers and other organization to come out on a variety of recently that have been disproven in any way.
SHIELDS: Right, but they get dismissed because of who wrote the story.
BERMAN: I understand what you're saying, I understand what you're saying. But again, you're going to take "The Washington Post" story on Roy Moore. You got to take the one about Charlie Rose and the other things that are in it as well.
Bill Britt, Tara Setmayer, Mike Shields, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
Coming up for us, more on these allegations and the president's expressed preference for this accused child molester to serve in the U.S. Senate rather than a Democrat.
[20:30:19] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: More now on the breaking news tonight, President Trump's backing of Senate candidate Roy Moore despite eight accusations to sexual misconduct including allegedly molesting a 14-year old girl. Here's more what the president said today on the lawn of the White House as he left for his Thanksgiving vacation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't feed a Liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones, Roy Moore denies it. And by the way, he gives a total denial. And I do have to say 40 years is a long time, he's run eight races and this has never come up. So 40 years is a long time. The women are Trump voters, most of them are Trump voters. All you can do is you have to do what you have to do. He totally denies it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, he tried so far to get the immediate reaction to this. We also want to look at the big picture too. What if anything, does this mean for the office of the presidency? For that, we turn to someone whose pretty much see it all, David Gergen, former adviser to four presidents.
You know, David, what a sitting president offers -- I don't even think it has his support, offers his support, to a candidate who was accused of molesting a 14-year old girl. Do that a lasting effect on the presidency?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It has a lasting effect upon his party and his presidency. I think, you know, the president is taking his -- and backing Roy Moore, I think he's help a candidate, I think Moore likely -- Moore will be competitive. He might even win.
But, so clear too much of the country that the president is putting politics above principle, you know, 14 Republican senators as you've said, have come out the other ways, breaking with them. And I think that he's putting himself in a position where it's more important to get a Republican candidate, whoever it is, than it is to seek justice in an ethical outcome,
BERMAN: What do you make that CNN reporting that the president believe essentially that now we had some cover to do this because of the swirl of reports have come out in the last week. In some cases less, you know, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Glenn Thrush in "The New York Times", John Conyers yesterday, you know, Democrat at the House, that that somehow allows him to say, yes, you know it's happening to everyone here.
GERGEN: That's just the opposite because almost everyone in these other cases, Charlie Rose just got fired today. After a long career at the CBS and PBS, he pay -- he's paying a heavy price. What price is Roy Moore paying here? Now the president just throwing his arm around him said, you know, go do it.
BERMAN: What price did Donald Trump pay for the 13 women who accused him during the campaign? That's the different lesson though that he's learned.
GERGEN: It is. And I agree. You know, it's one of the unhappy facts about American life is sometimes people aren't held accountable but he did win and, you know, he's the president we have to -- he is our president. But, I think Donald Trump probably would not have been a supporter of Roy Moore more today had he himself paid a bigger price.
BERMAN: So, the president, one of the other things that he did today and we don't have the sound of it right now, but he actually teased the fact that he might go campaign for Roy Moore. He was asked directly, will you go campaign for Roy Moore, and he gave one of those President Trump answers where he said, you'll have to see next week, we'll get back to you last week. So, he's not ruling it out.
GERGEN: Not ruling it out. If Roy Moore is like running three points back, he -- would have asked him go. Let me come back to the point about the presidency, though, I think is very important.
Look, Franklin Roosevelt famously said that the presidency is pre- eminently a place of moral leadership. And by that he meant that a president helps us resolve very difficult, sticky issues and trying to figure what's right for the country, what's right for the people of this country. And you just have to say, I was so much like to see Donald Trump come to understand that and somehow more often that he does as today. You know, which sort of like, this is a decision that diminishes his leadership. And how do you think women around the country are going to feel about hearing this? He saw unsympathetic to the women's point of view. How are millennials going to feel? I think his leadership has been diminished.
BERMAN: Yes. That's why I can't imagine a picture of him with Roy Moore standing side by side in Alabama, even though the president didn't rule it out. I would think there would be a tremendous risk, potential risk to that.
GERGEN: I agree with that.
BERMAN: In addition, the fact that Roy Moore could lose, in which case is a double risk.
GERGEN: I agree with that but I, you know, he really wants to see it. He realized his agenda will be in peril. I understand the pragmatic quality of this but there -- you do, you look to the president once again to put principle above politics, not the other way around. BERMAN: David Gergen from your lips to the ears of this president, hopefully, future presidents as well. Thanks a lot of being with us.
GERGEN: Thank you.
BERMAN: Really appreciated.
Coming up the big Hill declined, reporting sexual harassment in Congress. We're going to take a look at the process as a daunting or to say (ph) at least (ph).
Plus, since taxpayers are the one paying settlements for sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, should they know who's being accused?
[20:35:01] We'll keeping them honest, next.
BERMAN: The House Ethics Committee is now investigating sexual harassment allegations against Democratic Congressman John Conyers. He's the longest serving current member of the House, that after report that he settled a complaint in 2015.
Conyers is denying any wrong doing and says he will cooperate with the investigation. Senator Al Franken is also under investigation. The difference there is he admitted and apologized for kissing and grouping a woman in 2006. Another woman now said he grabbed her in 2010.
Less than a day after harassment allegations surfaced against Charlie Rose, he has lost all of his jobs, in that case the consequences were swift. But when it comes to sexual harassment and allegations in Congress, it's an entirely different story, (INAUDIBLE) set of procedures and a branch of this government had seemed built to protect the perpetrator and making impossible for the victim to be heard. If the accuser can even make it through the process, there are virtually no consequences for the accused, the strict confidentially in any settlement doesn't even come from the lawmaker in the wrong. I give you one guess where it comes from.
OK. Times up. It comes from you, the taxpayer. Not only are you paying settlements, you have no way of knowing who is accused. Let's just back up and go to the process here. This is from Congress Office of Compliance and what's called the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.
If an employee wants to file a complaint, they have 180 days to report to the Compliance Office. Then they have to go up to 30 days of counseling, sign a confidentiality agreement. After counseling, they have 15 days to decide whether they take it a mediation at which point a lawyer funded by taxpayer money just involved, then there's 30-day cooling off period before a victim can file a form of complaint, take it to court or ask for a hearing, then there's negotiation and a committee approves the settlement and the victim is awarded that settlement, all will not be able to talk about it in which tax payers are funding. [20:40:18] Representative Jackie Speier is leading an effort to change all of these. This is what she said on "New Day" a week ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Right now, if someone wants to file a complaint they've got to go through a month of legal counseling, then they have to sign a nondisclosure agreement that is in perpetuity. Then they go through mediation. And then they have to -- have a month of cooling off period.
All the while they are still required to work in that office that was a hostile work environment. So, three months. And, by the way, the attorney in mediation is representing the harasser. The general counsel of the House is representing the harasser. The victim has no counsel, no support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Representative Speier state she has heard about victims being grabbed on the floor of the House. And a testimony before a House committee last week, she said there are two sitting members of Congress, a Democrat and Republican who have engaged in sexual harassment but have not yet been reviewed.
I asked Speier, just before air if Conyers is one of those two, you'll hear what she told me in just a moment.
But keeping them honest, these are public servants, elected officials, we pay their salary and apparently in multiple cases, we pay their settlements. So, why don't we know who they are and what has been paid out for what offenses?
Here is what we do know, over the last 20 years, $17 million have been paid to victims over violations of that Congressional Accountability Act, that act covers a lot and the compliance office doesn't break down the numbers to say how much of that money went to sexual harassment settlements versus other kind of settlements. Perhaps that's another thing that tax payers deserve to know since you are the ones paying the tab.
All right, I spoke with Representative Jackie Speier just before air.
BERMAN: Congresswoman Speier, the House Ethics Committee is now investigating the allegations against your colleague Congressman John Conyers which is something I know you called for earlier today. What's your reaction to the allegations?
SPEIER: Well the allegations are serious and that's why they need to be investigated. And moreover, I think the member, what's called the MRA, the Member Representation Allowance needs to be looked at because in many respects, I think the numbers that we've been using as to the number of cases and the amount of money that has been (INAUDIBLE) out, out of tax payer funds maybe actually much larger than $17 million to the extent that members have used their MRA accounts to pay off individuals who have been sexually harassed.
BERMAN: And used different money to pay off this claim apparently than the $17 million you've been talking about so much recently.
I do want to talk about this. So, last week you touch of firestorm when you said you knew of two sitting members of Congress, a Republican and a Democrat who have, "engaged in sexual harassment." Is Congressman Conyers one of those people?
SPEIER: No, he's not.
BERMAN: So there are two more. And that gets to my next question. Do you believe that members of Congress who settle sexual harassment claims should be named publicly? Because at the end of the day it's all about -- it's tax payers who were paying these settlements.
SPEIER: Well, that's why the bill that I've introduced would require much more transparency. The member's office would be identified and the member would have to repay the U.S Treasury for any amount of money that the settlement has required. They would have to pay it out of their own pocket.
BERMAN: And I know there are nondisclosure agreements. But isn't -- haven't things gone beyond that at this point, particularly, if you know two members who have engaged in sexual harassment? Don't people need to know who they are, people who work in the Halls of Congress?
SPEIER: Well, there are nondisclosure agreements that this -- that in one case the victim has signed. So, I'm respecting that nondisclosure agreement and the victims' wishes. And, you know, and yes, that was this is all about. This is about protecting women that work in Capitol Hill. And, you know, making sure that it is not a hostile work environment. This is a particular woman who probably still wants a career in the Capitol.
BERMAN: And you introduce this legislation. Explain to me exactly how this legislation works.
SPEIER: So, it's called the ME TOO Congress Act. And it would provide, first of all that, right now, interns and fellows aren't even covered. So they have nowhere to go. This would cover them. This would allow for a victim to file a complaint, not go through this huge process that you've already identified, that takes upwards of 180 days.
SPEIER: They would not be required to sign nondisclosure agreements.
And the harasser, if it's a member, would be identified, his office would be identified, if it's someone else in his office doing the harassing. And if it's the member, the member would have to repay the treasury the sum of money that the settlement demanded.
[20:45:10] BERMAN: How's the legislation being received among your colleagues? I've actually spoken to two Republicans in the last several days who say they support it.
SPEIER: Actually, it's really been received very well. I'm working with a number of Republicans on the bill. This is something that we have to be concerned about as employers where each required to run an office as if it is our office, that we're the CEO's of the office. And we should handle in a matter that does not tolerate a hostile work environment or sexual harassment on any level.
BERMAN: Congressman Jackie Speier, thanks so much for being with us. And thank you for your efforts of the last several weeks.
SPEIER: Thank you.
BERMAN: Up next, a reward is being offered for the information of the death of a border patrol agent and the serious injuries of another agent. Were they ambushed? Was it an assault or just an accident? What the FBI is saying tonight, when 360 continues.
[20:50:11] BERMAN: Tonight a new legal blow for the Trump administration. A federal judge has permanently blocked the president's executive order that attempted to strip federal grants for so-called sanctuary cities calling it unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, along the Texas-Mexico border there are questions about an incident over the weekend that left one border patrol agent dead and another seriously injured.
This afternoon the FBI announced they are treating the case as a potential assault on a federal officer but they aren't ruling out other possibilities. They're asking the public to help and offering a $25,000 reward for information on the death. Let's get more now from CNN Ed Lavandera.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just before midnight on Saturday, border patrol agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were responding to what's been described as activity along interstate 10 just east of the small west Texas town of Van Horn. A short time later, Martinez's partner called to say both men had been injured and needed medical attention.
(on camera): Both men were found with severe head injuries and other broken bones and they were flown to this hospital in El Paso where Agent Martinez died and his partner remains in critical condition. Federal investigators are saying little about what happened. Only to say they're describing it as a potential assault on a federal agent.
EMMERSON BUIE, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, EL PASO: There are number of possible scenarios, however, in this instance, we're going to pursue the one that is most challenging and as it's presented to us which is a potential assault on a federal officer. And as we collect the evidence, then the rest of their investigation would shape itself.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Shortly after the attack, officials with the union that represents border patrol agents said that the officers had been ambushed and possibly attacked by rock wielding drug smugglers. President Trump seize on the unconfirmed details to plug construction of the border wall tweeting, "We will and must build the wall."
TRUMP: We lost a border patrol officer just yesterday. And another one was brutally beaten and badly, badly hurt. It looks like he'll make it. But very, very badly hurt.
LAVANDERA: Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Senator Ted Cruz have also described the incident as an attack. There have been reports that the agents might have fallen into a culvert or that the incident was an accident of some sort. But three days after the incident, federal investigators insist they don't know exactly what happened.
BUIE: And we do not have a full picture yet as to what transpired, but once we get closer to that, then we'll be able to present those facts to the U.S. attorney's office or American public so that we can bring some closure to the family.
BERMAN: Ed Lavandera joins us now from El Paso Texas. Ed, Agent Martinez's partner, is she sharing any information with the investigators?
LAVANDERA: That's interesting. The border patrol union spokes person that we spoke with said that agent was in rather serious and critical condition because of the head injuries, couldn't remember exactly everything that had transpired. Federal investigators aren't confirming any of that and they say that they haven't really had a chance to explore and interview him as of yet. But they will get to that when the time is appropriate. So that's where we stand here tonight on all of this.
BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much. Ed Lavandera in El Paso, thank you.
Up next, more breaking news. CBS news is reporting three women at the network now accused Charlie Rose of sexual harassment. That's after eight women -- other women accused him the same thing in "The Washington Post" article. The new developments when we continue.
[20:57:34] BERMAN: More breaking news. CBS is reporting three women at the network have come forward and accused Charlie Rose of sexual harassment. This comes just hours after CBS new and PBS fired Rose after eight women told "The Washington Post" he sexually harassed them. And a staff member today CBS News President David Rose called the allegations against Rose extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior.
"The Washington Post" report detail allegations of groping, lode phone calls, and Rose walking around naked into president to some of these women.
When the story broke Rose apologize for what he acknowledged it was, "unacceptable behavior", but he also said, he didn't believe all the allegations against him are accurate.
Joining me now CNN Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter, host of "Reliable Sources". Brian, first, give me the latest developments. Three new women coming forward, these work at CBS?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENOIR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The news division has confirmed to me this is new information that came to light today. These women who were employed at the network apparently feel uncomfortable. And now for the first time, able to actually go to H.R. and report what they say happened. These women have spoken anonymously but they described much of the same behavior those reported by "The Washington Post". Once again we're seeing a pattern of behavior involving an "A" list man in the media of this.
BERMAN: Less than 24 hours for "The Washington Post" story to hit in CBS to take action.
STELTER: That's partly because of these new complaints inside CBS News. We also saw Bloomberg and PBS as you mentioned all severed ties with Charlie Rose. In effect, his fame to nightly talk show is now over because it has no distributor.
It won't be back on television. CBS will have to figure out how to replace him. But of course this is much bigger than Charlie Rose.
Every day we see this domino effect. Every day we see consequences whether it's in Hollywood or Washington or in New York.
Just today the head of PIXAR and Disney animation John Lasseter said he's taking a six month leave because of allegations against him.
BERMAN: It is interesting what you said. Those three women went finally felt safe to come forward and tell H.R. Maybe it's something we'll see more and more of.
STELTER: And I think what's so uncomfortable about these last seven weeks is actually, a lot that's uncomfortable. One of the aspects is what you said earlier this hour. Has Donald Trump, has President Trump paid a price? As we see all these prominent men in various industries held to account for allegations, I think that's what a lot of people are be talking about at Thanksgiving later this week.
BERMAN: It's a very different picture when Charlie Rose is out less 24 hours. Brian Stelter great to have you with us. Thank you so much.
BERMAN: That is all for us on "360." And I thank you so much for watching.
Coming up special report, "Twitter and Trump" starts right now.