Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

8 Rescued, 3 Missing After Navy Plane Crashes Off Japan; Trump Breaks with GOP Leaders on Moore Scandal; Dramatic Video North Korean Defector's Desperate Dash. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 22, 2017 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's just you know a few hours after this happened, but what can you tell us at this point?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to both of you. U.S. and Japanese forces at sea continue to search for the three who are still missing. We're told all 11 aboard were U.S. Navy personnel. They were onboard a C-2, a small fixed wing aircraft that carries people back and forth to aircraft carriers. They had left an air station on land and they were flying to the carrier, Ronald Reagan, which was about 500 miles off the Japanese Island of Okinawa, conducting routine operations. They were supposed to be going to the ship. Helicopter forces from the ship were able to rescue those eight, apparently fairly quickly, and bring them aboard the Ronald Reagan. They are said to be in good condition there.

Now, it has been a very difficult and deadly year for the Navy's Seventh Fleet out in the Pacific. They have lost 17 sailors. 17 sailors killed this year in two separate major collisions with commercial shipping and two U.S. Navy warships. The McCain and the Fitzgerald, as you will remember, both had collisions with cargo ships, 17 sailors losing their lives in those incidents. They've had actually a total of four incidents with their ships over the past year.

And just as recently as Saturday, a minor incident when a navy -- when a Japanese tug apparently scraped yet another U.S. Navy ship out there. None of these apparently related, of course, to this aircraft accident. It remains under investigation, but as we begin this holiday weekend, of course, the absolute top priority is to try and find the three missing. John, Poppy?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Indeed. All right, Barbara Starr for us, thank you so much. Please keep us posted, Barbara.

This morning, the president says he's having meetings and working the phones at what he calls the winter White House in Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach. He is also, as we said, self-aggrandizing and name calling in his fight with the father of a college basketball player. "It was me" President Trump wrote in all caps this morning, me who obtained the release of three college basketball players from a Chinese jail. This has to do with the refusal of one of the players' father, LaVar Ball, to lavish the president with the praise that he wants. He calls the father an "ungrateful fool."

HARLOW: More on that in a moment. But also, Roy Moore, by contrast, now has the president's support in the Alabama Senate race. President Trump says Moore, quote, "totally denies the allegations," including molesting a 14-year-old girl, engaging in sexual misconduct with other teenagers, and therefore, well, essentially from the president, nothing else to see here.

Joe Johns is in Palm Beach where the president is spending Thanksgiving. Joe, pretty remarkable comments from the president.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. And it's very interesting, just how early it started, Poppy, around 5:30 Eastern Time, the president's first tweet out. And one of the things I think you have to point out is with the world watching the human drama developing in Okinawa, with Americans whose lives are in danger, the president's first tweets were not about that. He didn't tweet about Okinawa until around 8:00 a.m.

The first tweets, of course, were about LaVar Ball, that situation with his son who got arrested in China. The president is requesting a thank you, if you will, from LaVar Ball and he's just not going there. There were also, or there was also at least one tweet relating to the NFL, the continuing controversy there. And if I can pull it up here, I'll just read it to you.

"The NFL is now thinking about a new idea -- keeping teams in the locker room during the national anthem next season. That's almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!" the president says.

Well, the NFL did put out a statement. Joe Lockhart, who I believe used to be a White House communications press secretary, if you will, said this issue is not on the agenda, at least for December. So, it sounds like whatever the president reported on Twitter, perhaps just a bit premature.

But, the other thing I think is important to say is that while the president is here and right now we're told he's golfing or at least away golfing, while he is here this time, he doesn't appear to have a lot of the people around him who have in some degree, at least, within able to keep him in check. The White House chief of staff is not here for the Thanksgiving vacation, the White House press secretary, apparently, not here. Our Liz Landers, White House producer, has checked on that. So that may be a factor in the president being able to tweet just about anything he wants to. And the other thing I think you have to say is he's got some time on his hands. So we'll see what happens. Back to you.

[10:05:01] BERMAN: He's golfing right now. Some golf courses don't allow cell phones on the course. So maybe he won't be tweeting for the next several hours while he golfs. Joe Johns for us in Florida, thank you so much.

Of course, as we said, yesterday, the president said it loud and clear. He is now backing the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore, who was an accused child molester. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is for us in Montgomery. Kaitlan, this was a big move from the president.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: it certainly was. The president broke with leading Republicans when he voiced the support for Roy Moore, this very contentious candidate in the Alabama Senate race, who has been accused of sexually assaulting multiple women, including ones who are as young as 14 at the time that the assaults occurred. And as the president left the White House yesterday for Mar- a-Lago for this Thanksgiving break, he not only criticized Doug Jones, Moore's Democratic opponent in this race, for what the president says he's soft on crime, soft on the military, but he seemed to accept Roy Moore's denials about these multiple sexual assault allegations made against him, John.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones. I've looked at his record. It's terrible on crime. It's terrible on the border. It's terrible on the military.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, is an accused child molester better than a Democrat?

TRUMP: Well, he denies it. He denies it. I mean, if you look at what is really going on and you look at all of the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies. He says it didn't happen and you have to listen to him also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Now, not surprisingly, John and Poppy, the Moore campaign began touting the president's remarks almost immediately after he made them, sending out a press release to their supporters. Now, as far as how the president got to this state, where he's voicing support for Roy Moore after originally the White House put out that statement, saying that the president filmed the allegations against him very troubling.

We're told that the president doubted the Moore accusers from the beginning and that he even compared the situation to what happened to him last year during the presidential election, when he was also accused of sexual assault by multiple women, which is something the president has steadfastly denied. And that he believed that it was easier for him to stand alongside Moore, since a wave of sexual assault allegations have been made recently, ranging from anywhere from Hollywood, to Capitol Hill.

But the president found it was easier to stand by Roy Moore. It's clear the campaign is enjoying the backing of the White House right now. They sent out that press release. And we've seen Roy Moore in the campaign really double down on their claims that these women are lying when they say that he sexually assaulted them. And though Roy Moore hasn't done very many interviews, he did do an interview last night where he said that he believes that there will be further information to come out in the coming days that will disprove these allegations made against him. But it's clear, John and Poppy, that the White House believes this Senate seat for now should remain in Republican hands.

HARLOW: Very clear. Kaitlan Collins, thank you, in Montgomery, Alabama.

With us now, CNN political analyst, Jackie Kucinich, CNN political commentator, Ed Martin, and former policy director for former first lady, Michelle Obama, now a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Maryland, Krish Vignarajah. It is nice to have you all here. Jackie, welcome back. It's so good to have you back.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you. It's good to be back.

HARLOW: Let's talk about the significance of this. Backing an accused child molester in the Alabama Senate race, because he explicitly said, the president, we don't want a liberal in there. Politics aside, the significance of this?

KUCINICH: You know, so much for draining the swamp. This has become purely political. It's very cynical to look at this and say this is just about a vote in the Senate. And it could have very large implications for the Republican Party as a whole. Because if Roy Moore does make it into the Senate, there -- I mean, unless they expel him, even if they expel him, he is a part of the Republican Party and his colleagues are going to have to deal with him and these allegations that are much more than it's -- you know, it's -- they're very serious. It's much more than some of the other things they're being conflated with. So this could have much larger ramifications than I think that some people are thinking about at this point.

BERMAN: You bring up a good point. Molesting a 14-year-old, being accused of molesting a 14-year-old is different than this other list of allegations or revelations I should say that have come out for the last few days. But Ed, we've had a chance to talk about this over the last few weeks. Do you think that this growing list, which now includes, you know, Charlie Rose, who was fired, John Conyers, Al Franken, which we talked about, do you think this provides the president some political cover now to give this backing to Roy Moore?

ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's a fair description, John, in some ways. I guess I hadn't thought of it that way, but can I agree with Jackie on one thing.

[10:10:01] I talked to a senator yesterday, two days ago, who said the Ethics Committee hasn't expelled anyone from the Senate since 1862.

This guy told me, because both of them were Missouri senators. So that's not going to be -- if Moore wins, he's going to be in the Senate. They're not going to take him John. So everyone should understand that. But I think you're right. John, I think there's one thing people are not hearing the president say. And I think it's kind of important. It's that the accusations -- and again, I have said over and over, I don't have any reason to disbelieve the women. I don't know them. But I also know Roy Moore a little bit. He has said he didn't do it. You know Franken confessed to it. You know Conyers confessed to it -

HARLOW: Hold on. Hold on. That's not factual. Conyers did not -- Conyers actually said, I explicitly deny this.

MARTIN: Oh, I thought he apologized to the woman that he settled with.

HARLOW: No.

MARTIN: OK, well, sorry. Well, Conyers had a settlement. OK. So in that case, I take it back. Conyers deserves to be heard and not be -- everyone shouldn't judge him without being heard. There is a little bit of a, you know, kind of crucible or Salem witch trial thing going on here as we listen to real -- you know, Charlie Rose did confess. But other people to say they didn't do it, like the president and Roy Moore, they have to have certain credibility. And John, to your point, their credibility goes up with the public when they see that -- people call Roy Moore a child molester on TV, not here, on our station, that's not fair. And they do it all the time and America sees that.

HARLOW: Krishna, to you, you're running for governor in Maryland, you worked in the White House with the former first lady and part of your platform that you worked with actress Ashley Judd on is changing the way these state agencies work. Making a new state agency to deal with sexual harassment, arguing that fundamentally, the system is broken. What is the societal impact? OK, you heard Ed's point. What is the societal impact, though, of not believing these women and using words like the president used yesterday, this was 40 years ago.

KRISH VIGNARAJAH (D), MARYLAND GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's incredibly problematic. I mean, the sad reality is that we have had a silent epidemic from the Hill to Hollywood, from, you know, board rooms to newsrooms to classrooms. And, you know, in some ways, we've made progress in the sense that if Anita Hill happened today, Clarence Thomas wouldn't be on the Supreme Court. But the fact that women have across the country and in Maryland said enough, have come out and spoken out against perpetrators, and that they're being, you know, ridiculed and attacked. I think reflects the fact that, you know, we still have a ways to go.

BERMAN: Did you hear what Ed heard? Ed made the case there, Krish, that the president said that, you know, Roy Moore denies this, but he didn't speak out specifically against the women. Isn't it sort of a binary choice here? If you're going to defend Roy Moore, you're going to say Roy Moore denied it, denied it, aren't you then at least by implication saying you have doubts about the stories by these women?

VIGNARAJAH: Absolutely. I mean and I think that this is the bigger problem, right? Which is when women come out and they share these stories that are incredibly painful to share in the public eye, for our president to weigh in, he's obviously taking a side. And I think it speaks to a bigger problem, which is, what happens when you don't have women in leadership. Is, you know, for example, in Maryland, we don't have, out of 14 federal and statewide offices, none of those positions are filled by women.

This is not an issue just in Congress. Even in Annapolis, you have a sexist culture. And I think that part of the problem that we need to solve for is that going forward, women are part of this process. And I think, you know, one of the reasons why Ashley and I had worked on a proposal is we want to make sure that women are not put in the same position in 10 or 15 years. That when they share these painful stories with people, that there is actually some progress made. And that's why, for example, one of the things that we've proposed, any politician running for office has to avow whether they've engaged in sexual harassment or sexual assault.

HARLOW: Ed, to you, the president in the same breath as his other statement which we've just discussed said, quote, "Women are very special. I think it's a very special time." Look, this is someone who has a woman very close to him in terms of policy and being his adviser, Ivanka Trump, who just wrote a book about women in the workplace. How can he say "women are very special" and then in so many words argue that their claims don't have merit against Roy Moore, so he's standing next to a guy he didn't even endorse in the primary?

MARTIN: Well, I think that sometimes people who are watching have to understand that politics and business and a lot of things that are happening are not all of life. In this sense, I think Donald Trump has a pretty special relationship with his wife, from what I've heard, with his daughter. His daughter actually tends to hold sway over him on policy, making him more liberal on some things for me. But I just think what he means is this. Is that there are plenty of good women that have been wronged.

And the me too movement when it says bring their voices forward. That is so important and we should honor it. But there are lots of people that are falsely accused or at least deserve their day in court. And when it's a 40-year-old charge, 40 days before an election -

(CROSSTALK)

[10:15:04] KUCINICH: Hold on.

MARTIN: Wait, no but 40 days before an election --

KUCINICH: No, no, no. I'm old enough to remember when Donald Trump was parading Bill Clinton's accusers, right before a debate with Hillary Clinton. So this idea that there's a statute of limitations in terms of -

MARTIN: No, there's not a statute of limitations.

KUCINICH: No, but I'm saying is that you're taking this "40 years ago" thing, that shouldn't be relevant. The bottom line is it seems like the president believes women when it's politically expedient.

MARTIN: Well, I think that those women -- Trump used the women -- presented the women as a political argument and the people voted on it. And in this case, again, I agree with you, the women were presented by Gloria Allred and others as a political argument -

(CROSSTALK) BERMAN: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. First of all Ed, I just want to step-in. Gloria Allred happened came after "The Washington Post" came forward with these women with these stories. One of whom, we've not heard say that she didn't come forward at all, and you know, until she was -- these people are people who came forward because of Roy Moore running and because they were approached by "The Post." They say there was nothing political about it.

MARTIN: That's not -- that's not how anyone who knows politics 40 days before the election sees a rollout of charges that includes Gloria Allred. I mean, look, it doesn't matter.

HARLOW: That's the fact, Ed. We know the facts from these women and the reporters of "The Washington Post".

MARTIN: But the fact is that they're 40 years ago. That is a fact that the people of Alabama get to factor into it.

KUCINICH: Why does that matter?

MARTIN: Because it matters, there's a reason why we have a justice system that has statute of limitations. Not because the charges aren't real and valuable to be heard, but because you have to have some sense of the judgment. So 40 years later, a rollout 40 days before an election against a guy whose policies are not acceptable to a large group of the Republican establishment and the Democrats and others, so it's a political part of this, is all I'm saying. And that's what the president has acknowledged. At the end of the day, Alabamians are going to get to vote on who goes to the Senate. And they care about the border. They care about liberal on crime, which is what the Democrat is.

BERMAN: Unfortunately, we have to go to break right now. But I just want to say, if you followed the history of sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment discussions in this country over time, you talk about the church, you talk about other places, sometimes it takes years for people to have the courage to come forward. That's just how it goes. It doesn't have to be political. So Jackie, Ed, Krish, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

HARLOW: Thank you all very much.

MARTIN: Happy Thanksgiving.

VIGNARAJAH: Thank you.

HARLOW: And to you. All right, running for his life, wait until you see this video. A North Korean defector, chased by military guards his own team shot multiple times as he runs to escape over the border. The dramatic video just released.

BERMAN: Plus, the president lost tax cuts for Christmas. Is one key Republican giving him a gift of support?

And these guys not exactly BFFs right now. Dallas Cowboys' owner, Jerry Jones, and the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, we have a new interview with Jones this morning. What does he say about what he intends to do?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:22:20] HARLOW: This morning, dramatic new video of a mad dash for freedom. A North Korean soldier speeding towards the border with South Korea in an army truck before he bails out and makes a break for it by foot, all of this while his former comrade shoots at him 40 times. Our Anna Coren has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A desperate run for freedom. This video shows the dramatic moment a 24-year-old North Korean soldier left his post last week, running across the demilitarized zone, the DMZ that divides north and South Korea. It's one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world. First in a jeep, then on foot, he's pursued by his own comrades. They fire more than 40 shots. Doctors saying he was at least four times before reaching safety.

These scenes captured on CCTV were played at a news conference in Seoul. The U.N. command says that as the North Koreans pursued the defector, they violated an armistice agreement between the two Koreas. The armistice dates back to 1953 with a cease-fire between the north and south that the war has not officially ended. U.S. Forces Korea claimed the North Korean people's army, or KPA, fired across the military demarcation line and that one soldier crossed it briefly during the incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: UNC personnel at the JSA notified KPA of these violations today through our normal communication channels and requested a meeting to discuss our investigation and measures to prevent future such violations.

COREN: When the North Korean soldier arrived here at the Ajou University Hospital on the outskirts of Seoul, he'd already lost more than 50 percent of his blood and was unconscious with barely a pulse. Doctors say he'd suffered gunshot wounds to his chest, shoulder, arms and abdomen. And by the time he reached the operating theater, he was almost dead.

And in his intestines, doctors found large parasitic warms, one nearly a foot long. After multiple surgeries, doctors say he is now conscious and able to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He and I have spoken a lot, and I feel that this North Korean soldier defected to South Korea of his own will.

COREN: The shoulder is the third member of the North Korean Armed Forces to defect this year. Ana Coren, CNN, Seoul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. I want to bring in Colonel Steve Warren, CNN military analyst, retired U.S. Army. Colonel thanks so much for being with us. First off, again that is stunning video to see. It really is, to see the desperation of this one man. Talk about it in the big picture, though, is this some kind of propaganda defeat or stain for Kim Jong-un?

[10:25:08] COL. STEVE WARREN (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thanks, John. It certainly is a defeat for Kim Jong-un. It's a stain for Kim Jong-un. And I think it shows something else that we have to keep our eye on. These soldiers that are in Panmungak on the DMZ are really some of North Korea's best. They are the most heavily indoctrinated. They're the best trained and they're looked at as really the most reliable. So the fact that one of them broke and ran I think says something about the condition of the regime right now. We don't want to read too much into it yet, but I think it's notable that this was a Panmungak soldier who crossed the DMZ.

HARLOW: Look, luckily, he is alive. He survived these multiple surgeries, after getting shot at 40 times by some of his own fellow soldiers. What is the intelligence value here of him, once, you know, he is in a state where he can communicate more freely with the U.S. and with South Koreans? Do you think he talks and what could he give?

WARREN: I think he'll probably talk quite a bit. And there's a potential for him to provide a lot of information. We don't know yet what this soldier's rank is. Is he a higher-up at a lieutenant colonel, a colonel, or a general or a lower-ranking private? But either way, what we'll be able to learn from this North Korean soldier is really how life is inside of these North Korean military units. And this is important information for us to be able to gather, so we understand what the morale is like, we understand how much dissension there is within the ranks. It can potentially give us a window into ways that we could begin to peel the military away from the regime, which is something, of course, that we like to see happen.

BERMAN: So there are defections to South Korea. Usually, though, through China, going over the DMZ is a rare thing. What are the rules of engagement here? The North Koreans pursued him right up and to and in some cases over the border.

WARREN: Very dramatic defection. Not one that we see very often anymore. This military demarcation line and in fact the entire demilitarized zone has a long list of very complex rules and regulations all agreed to back in the '50s. I think the bottom line to keep in mind is that under no circumstances is anyone authorized to cross that military demarcation line, either headed north or headed south, at all. Additionally, certainly, no shots can ever be fired across this MDL. That said, there have been violations on this this -- of this armistice over the years. In some cases, we've seen them monthly or even weekly. The violations can be as small as an inappropriate gesture across the MDL to as large as, you know, firing artillery shells across the MDL, which we've seen, as well.

HARLOW: Colonel Warren, thank you very much for joining us. Just stunning to watch this over and over again, but it's remarkable.

BERMAN: It's a race for freedom. It is what it is.

WARREN: And great work for those in Korea for releasing this, really important.

HARLOW: Yes, thank you.

BERMAN: Good point.

HARLOW: A looming deadline for Republicans, tax reform. They have to do this, so say some Republicans, or they could lose the majority. Will they get it done this year? Ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)