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"Ashamed" Franken Says He'll Return To Work Monday; Conyers Steps Down From Judiciary Committee Amid Probe; New Sign Flynn May Be Cooperating With Mueller's Team; Trump Stands By Moore Despite Allegations Of Sexual Assault; Officials: Tillerson Snubbing Ivanka Trump Over Trip; Bourdain Explores Southern Italy Tonight At 9 P.M. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 26, 2017 - 17:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. You are in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here. We begin this hour with stunning developments in the national debate on sexual harassment.

The tide that started in Hollywood now appears to be sweeping through Capitol Hill, first Senator Al Franken, finally speaking out publicly about the allegations made by two separate women. Here is what Franken told Minnesota radio just today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: What matters is that I am ashamed of that photo. She is -- you know, she didn't have any ability to consent. She had every right to feel violated by that photo. I have apologized to her and I was very grateful that she accepted my apology.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: More of Senator Franken's interview and what he is planning to do next coming up. Meanwhile, a major development concerning another Democrat mired in scandal, Congressman John Conyers stepping down from his role as ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and met the allegations of sexual harassment and workplace abuse.

The 88 year old denies the allegations and says he will be vindicated. And then there is the all important Alabama Senate race. President Trump today voicing fresh support for fellow Republican Roy Moore who has been dogged by sexual misconduct allegations made by numerous women.

Reporters are covering every angle, Ryan Young in Minneapolis, Kaylee Hartung in Atlanta and Boris Sanchez, outside the White House. Let's start in Minnesota and the new comments from Senator Al Franken after eight days without speaking publicly, Franken reaching out to his hometown media outlets to talk about the allegations he is facing. What he has done about them, what he will be doing next. To recap one

woman claims Franken sexually harassed her in 2006 before he was in the Senate.

But now there is a second woman who says he groped her during a photo op in 2010. That was while he is a senator. CNN's Ryan Young joins me now from the senator's home state of Minnesota. Ryan, tell us what Franken is saying today. What else is he saying?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, he used the words embarrassed and ashamed, that's the first thing that we heard from him in the last few days.

Of course he talked that for eight days and he really didn't say anything. Now he is reaching out to his hometown, not only the paper, the radio and the television interview later this evening. Of course we all wanted to hear his words in terms of addressing these allegations. And today this afternoon he spoke up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: I'm just going to do my job and I'm going to go forward. This has been ten days since this came out. I'm going to go forward. I'm going to -- I'm going to take responsibility. I'm going to be held accountable and I'm going to try to be productive in the way I speak about this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: You know, a lot of people talk about the idea of being Minnesota nice and tough walking around here in the last few hours, just talking to people and getting initial reactions to these interviews.

They wanted to see this on camera interview. They want to see how he looks when he is talking about what he is addressing in terms of these allegations. Another quote that came from the paper that stood out, is I don't remember these photographs.

I don't -- this is not something that I would intentionally do. So people trying to see the ramifications of what happens next. This interview airs tonight at 10:30.

His first sit down with a reporter -- local reporter here. People want to see his face. They want to feel whether or not he is being truthful when he is talking about these allegations, and what happens next. He says he going to report to work on Monday. So of course people watching this intense scrutiny will continue. Ana.

CABRERA: We haven't heard Franken actually speak for eight days. Why now?

YOUNG: Yes. Well, that has been part of the conversation that a lot of people have. Of course, it looks like it's time -- first, to talk to people in this state. So he hit the paper first and then public radio, and then of course that television interview is all interesting to be timed.

Of course Monday is when he is talking about going back to work. So I'm sure there will be a lot of conversation just, not only about him facing some of these allegations.

But in the question someone asked will there be more women stepping forward he said two weeks ago, he wouldn't have thought any women would have stepped forward. So now he is not sure if anybody else will come forward. Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Ryan Young in Minneapolis, thank you. Let's turn to Congressman John Conyers announcing hours ago he is stepping down from his important role on House Judiciary Committee as he faces an ethics committee investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and work place abuse. Let's get right to correspondent Kaylee Hartung in Atlanta. Kaylee, what are you hearing?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Congressman Conyers, Ana, continues to deny the allegations against him. He announced in a statement today that he would be stepping down from his position as a ranking member on House Judiciary Committee saying, quote.

[17:05:00] I deny these allegations many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger. I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.

He went on to say I have come to believe that my presence as ranking member on the committee would not serve the efforts while the Ethics Committee investigation is pending.

And a senior Democratic aide tells CNN that this decision comes for Conyers to step aside comes after days of Nancy Pelosi talking with Conyers and members on the Congressional Black Caucus behind the scenes of how Conyers could step aside gracefully.

CABRERA: Kaylee, how is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi responding to all of this? Because she was on the talk shows earlier today prior to announcement making comments and this all happened after that.

HARTUNG: Right, Ana, there was a change in tone from Nancy Pelosi before and after this announcement came from Conyers. Following his announcement, she struck a very firm tone as she said in a statement quote, zero tolerance means consequences.

I have asked for an ethics investigation and as that investigation continues, Congressman Conyers has agreed to step aside as ranking member. As a woman and mother of four daughters, I particularly take any accusations of sexual harassment very seriously.

We are at a water shed moment on this issue and no matter how great an individual's legacy, it is not a license for harassment. I commend the brave women coming forward. But earlier today before Conyers stepped aside, Nancy Pelosi nearly defended him. She went so far as to call him an icon. You have to think if that

statement and that harsh tone she brought was in reaction to back lash she felt after making these comments on Meet the Press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: We are strengthened by due process. Just because someone is accused and was it one accusation or two, I think there has to be -- John Conyers is an icon in our country.

He has done a great deal to protect women, violence against women act which the left-wing and right-wing is quoting me as praising him for his work on that and he did great work on that. But the fact is as John, reviewed six cases which he knows, which I don't. I believe he will do...

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: I'll finish my sentence -- that he will do the right thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: Now that we have learned more about the behind the scenes conversations that were happening between Pelosi and Conyers and the Congressional Black Caucus. You have to wonder, Ana, if it helps explain why she continued to say this morning she

thought Conyers would do the right thing.

CABRERA: Kaylee Hartung in Atlanta, thank you. President Trump meanwhile is making his way back to the White House from his private resort in Florida. CNN's Boris Sanchez is in Washington awaiting the president's arrival. Boris, has the president said anything about all of this?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, the president has weighed in on the Senate race in Alabama and Roy Moore. It has been an interesting shift on how the president has gone from seemingly not wanting to talk about the allegations against Roy Moore to now almost stopping short of endorsing him.

It has been an interesting shift from initially because you'll recall that the White House was echoing other Republicans when the president put out a statement saying that if these allegations were true then Roy Moore should step down.

Just a few days ago he was asked about these allegations and he said that Roy Moore is denying them and left the door open to potentially go to Alabama and campaign for him. This morning the president dug further in his heels tweeting this out.

He writes the last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer-Pelosi puppet who is weak on crime, weak on the border, bad for the military and our great vets, bad for a Second Amendment and wants to raise taxes to the sky. Jones would be a disaster. Doug Jones of course is the opponent of Roy Moore. And then he

further tweeted out this. I endorsed Luther Strange in the Alabama primary. She shot way up in the polls but it wasn't enough.

Can't let Schumer-Pelosi win this race. Liberal Jones would be bad. Of course it has been interesting to watch the two different directions that the president and his own party have gone.

Initially, while he did echo fellow Republicans since then many of them including Senator Tim Scott and Senator Lindsey Graham said the best thing for Roy Moore to do would be to drop out, not only for the party but for the country.

The president, Ana, obviously going in a very different direction again leaving the door open to even potentially campaigning on behalf of Roy Moore.

CABRERA: And I wonder when that would be because we know he is returning to the White House with Congress facing a very busy week and month ahead, right?

SANCHEZ: Right. You think it would be a crucial time for unity within the Republican Party we may see a vote in the Senate on tax reform as early as Thursday.

[17:10:00] The president has actually set to meet with Congressional Senate Republicans on Tuesday. He is heading to Capitol Hill for the third time in a little bit over a month. And then later that day, he set up a meeting at the White House with not only Republican leaders in Congress but also Democrats.

Because as you recall in September they gathered together and came up with this three month stop gap for government funding and to raise the debt ceiling, and now they are visiting that once more as you know, Ana, the government is set to run out of funding by December 8th.

So this is really a crucial time for Congress especially when you consider that legislative victories for this administration over the past year have been lacking. There is a lot riding on tax reform right now. Ana.

SANCHEZ: All right, Boris Sanchez in Washington, thank you. I want to talk more about today's stunning developments concerning these high level politicians now roiled in scandal. Joining us now Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief from Chicago Sun-Times, David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser for Reagan and Clinton, And Michael D'Antonio, the author of The Truth About Trump.

David, we have Conyers now stepping down as ranking member of Judiciary Committee. We have Franken expressing his force vowing to regain trust of constituents as he returns to work tomorrow. Do you think this is the end of the story?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, no, no. Question is whether they are on the right track on the Democratic Party versus the Republican Party. But I think, Ana, we are likely to have more names come forward, other accusations come forward and difficult decisions by the leadership.

But I must say on this -- after a period of stumbling so often, Democrats I think are getting it right on sexual harassment. If you look at a question of Post in a couple of weeks ago, what it found is if someone is accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, only 40 percent of Republicans would say that is not a deal breaker.

They are still be willing to vote for him. But 60 percent of independents say that is a deal breaker, and 80 percent -- 80 percent of Democrats. You know, this is an issue on which doing the right thing is good politics.

CABRERA: Lynn, Conyers is stepping down from a committee but he isn't losing his job. It sounds like Franken isn't planning to go anywhere so Pelosi's statement this afternoon following her controversial comments this morning that, Kaylee, mentioned, it reads zero tolerance means consequences. Is this what zero tolerance looks like?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: It depends on what Ethics Committee do. The Ethics Committees in the House and Senate are basically toothless tigers in many instances.

Maybe I will -- maybe this will be different this time and they also take a very long time, Ana, in getting any resolution. And I think so speed is also important in this case. So Conyers stepping down from judiciary is an inside game. He might lose some staffers, he will be able to play.

I don't think that's hardly a consequence of substance to pay in this case. But also, one of the things Pelosi said is to let due process play out. You see a very different in how Conyers and Franken is approaching this.

Franken wants to talk about it. He says, I'm going to try and -- he said what he said. He is giving interviews. Conyers is not. So all of these allegations are not the same and as you see there are many ways of handling this. Obviously, what Roy Moore is accused of is very, very different.

CABRERA: And it's kind of interesting now, Lynn, because you talk about due process. That comment specifically about due process needs to take place, that sounds an awful like what we are hearing from those supporters of Roy Moore.

SWEET: I think what is happening with Roy Moore is that there is -- that's kind of a little bit of due process, let's have an election and if I am a Republican, I'm going to vote Republican. That's what this sounds like to me.

And the political analysis, all this is just to keep him in the game long enough to remain viable in the eyes of his supporters, I'm not talking about detractors so they can feel OK about going and voting for him. That's what in my analysis I think what that is about. CABRERA: And as we look at the issue facing both parties with the

specific examples, let's talk about how the president is handling all of this tweeting today twice at least on the Alabama Senate race just this morning, he writes I endorsed Luther Strange in the Alabama primary.

He shot way up in the polls but it wasn't enough, can't let Schumer- Pelosi win this race. Liberal Jones would be bad. That's just one of the two tweets. Michael, the president is not using Moore's name in his tweets today but isn't he basically saying vote for Moore?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course, he is. And he is begging the people of Alabama to give him a Republican senator. I think what is also fascinating to note in this instance is that the president has said repeatedly Moore, well denies it.

[17:15:00] And for as long as he denies it, the president is not going to take this in the way that the rest of us do. And of course, that's what the president himself did when running back in 2016. He denied it and denied it and, denied it.

And he got away with it. So there is this thing that he does that he has voiced often where you deny everything and move on. And only a weak person in his estimation accepts accountability and takes responsibility.

So what the Democrats are doing a little bit and I agree that they are not doing it in a serious way yet is they are at least acknowledging these cases and acknowledging the seriousness of it and taking them seriously as individuals so you have Franken talking openly about it and Conyers stepping down from his chairmanship.

There is a bunch more to come. As, David, said I think there are many, many more cases to come because this is about how men often act. And I don't know a woman who hasn't had this kind of thing happen to her. So we should expect a great many more accusations.

CABRERA: I mean, it does seem, David, like the punishment at this point facing his members -- his sitting members of Congress right now is rather punitive.

You've got President Trump meantime leader of the Republican Party supporting a candidate accused of molesting a young teenager decades ago and you've House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calling Conyers an icon after his own harassment allegations. I mean where is the moral fiber of both parties right now?

GERGEN: Well, I don't -- I disrespectfully disagree that they both look alike as parties handling this. You know, if someone is accused of wrong doing, the investigation ought to take place before we all decide which way it is.

And the Democrats at least are saying we are going to investigate. Now, Nancy, has got a very good point that these investigations have often been toothless. But now they are -- now that the focus is on them, they're going to

have to be serious about the Conyers investigation and they're going to have to be serious the Franken investigation, and any other people who are accused.

And the Democrats are pushing I think rightfully a bill in the House to not only -- have for this on the Republican side, to have you know, better training for people including members of congress. But also, if there are any settlements to make it transparent.

And when taxpayer money is used we ought to know about that. And I have this kind of hidden deals. At least the Democrats are trying to clean up.

If you contrast that with the leadership of the Republican Party, yes, McConnell and yes, many other people in the Senate but Donald Trump as leader of the party is refusing to have any investigation on any of the women.

He said he was going to bring a lawsuit against these women. He has not done that. There has been no investigatory work. And on Moore, he completely accepted it with no investigatory work.

CABRERA: Let's listen to what Lindsey Graham has said responding to the latest Trump tweets on the Alabama Senate race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: From a Republican point of view, I don't see what winning -- I don't know what winning looks like with Roy Moore.

If he wins, we get the baggage of him winning and it becomes a story every day about whether or not you believe the women or Roy Moore, should he stay in the Senate or should be expelled.

If you lose, you give the Senate seat to a Democrat at a time we need all the votes we can get. The moral of the story is don't nominate somebody like Roy Moore who can actually lose the seat that any other Republican can win.

And from a party perspective, we've got to look long term and not short term. And what I will tell President Trump, if you think winning with Roy Moore is going to be easy for the Republican Party, you are mistaken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Lynn, is Lindsey Graham right?

SWEET: Lindsey Graham is a student of the Senate and he knows how this will unfold. But on the other hand, you can't, you know, put this toothpaste back in the tube.

They did nominate Roy Moore. There is no second -- you know, this is what Alabamans are going to vote on in just a few days because there is no sign he is going to drop out.

So what Graham described in the sense where from his perspective sounds like a lose-lose, except for having another Republican vote to help pass a tax reform. And maybe some other important legislative initiatives where you need every Republican that you got.

CABRERA: Well, again, we will talk much more about what is happening in terms of the legislative agenda coming in our next block, Lynn Sweet, Michael D'Antonio, David Gergen, thank you so much.

SWEET: Thank you.

CABRERA: Also ahead Jared Kushner has until tomorrow to turn over more documents relating to the Russia investigation and with reports that Michael Flynn might be working with Robert Mueller should the president's son-in-law be worried? We will discuss with our panel next. You are live in the CNN Newsroom.

[17:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: While you were celebrating Thanksgiving, we learned that attorneys for Michael Flynn have stopped sharing information with other defense attorneys in the Russia probe including those representing his friend and former boss, President Trump.

Legal experts say it could mean Flynn has decided to cooperate with investigators. And former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara, agrees. Listen to what he said on CNN State of the Union today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The way to get yourself off the hook and in his case not only himself but potentially also his son, who's involved in some of this, the only way to do that is to cooperate with the prosecution. It doesn't mean just because he has withdrawn from a joint defense agreement, that will happen.

[17:25:00] But my view is based on how things used to operate in my office and based on how the world works is that there is a substantial likelihood that they are at least in discussions with respect to cooperating.

Now that could fall apart because maybe he is not disclosing everything. He is trying to protect or he is trying to minimize and the prosecutors decide not to sign him up to a deal. But I think the likelihood is that is what they are talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: On top of wondering about what Flynn might be up to, the White House is also facing a deadline. Jared Kushner has until tomorrow to turn over documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

You all recall that committee accused Kushner of failing to give them key e-mails involving Russia and WikiLeaks. With us to discuss, CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to four years president both Democratic and Republican, David Gergen.

Also back with us CNN contributor and Donald Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio, and joining us now, CNN presidential historian, Tim Naftali.

Michael, the Flynn development, his lawyers cutting off communications with Trump's lawyers. Kushner at a deadline now to turnover more documents tomorrow to the Senate Judiciary Committee. These are the president's family members in some cases. Is he sweating?

D'ANTONIO: Well, if he isn't, then he is more of a lizard person than any of us can imagine. Only a cold blooded animal would not be sweating at this point. I have a friend who has actually done a lot of legal work in organized crime cases.

And he says that when someone notified you that they are no longer part of the joint agreement, they typically say we are no longer friends. And so this means that Michael Flynn is no longer a friend of the president and no longer a friend of Jared Kushner. It is very bad.

I also have been told that Robert Mueller would not be making a deal with Flynn if he doesn't have something on people higher up. You don't make a deal with a little fish to give him a break if you are not going to be handed something on the bigger fish.

And so this is all very bad. Where it leads is hard for us to estimate but I can't imagine that the president is having a very good Sunday.

CABRERA: David, a short time ago the president tried to suggest otherwise tweeting this. Since the first day I took office, all you hear is phony Democratic excuse for winning election, Russia, Russia, Russia, despite this, I have the economy booming and possibly done more than any ten month president.

So Trump says he has gotten a lot done but there still has not been a major legislative accomplishment for this president nearly one year in. How much do you think the Russia investigation has played a role in that?

GERGEN: Well, I think people are on tender hooks on the Republican side special in the Congress about how this is all going to come out. And these headlines are menacing for Donald Trump, there is no question about that.

But I would come back to what, Preet, said and that is what this signals the Flynn lawyer distancing himself, cutting off communication at the White House lawyers. It signals it is very, very likely that conversations have started and negotiations have started.

What we don't know is whether Flynn has a story to tell. It is worth remembering that when Flynn was speaking immunity for testimony to Congress, his lawyers said what a story he has to tell.

Well, that is what Mueller is obviously trying to figure out as part of the negotiations if we do grant in effect, you know, give him a way out of this thing that he escapes going to jail or going through criminal process.

Then Mueller has to know in advance just what do you have, at least give me some sense of it. And as those negotiations -- I think we have to wait and see how the negotiation turns out. There is not a good day for the president but I don't think it is a bad day unless he come forward and has something really to say.

CABRERA: I mean you mentioned when he asked for immunity saying Flynn had a story to tell talking at this lawyers, that was before Congress. They didn't take that bait. So does that mean anything? We'll see.

But, Tim, President Trump would argue that the Russia investigation is getting in his way of agenda items and legislative accomplishments. But based on what you have seen has the president and this administration more broadly done everything it can to keep the investigation moving along?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, there are two issues here. Number one is that I think his tweets are a great tell.

CABRERA: Yes.

NAFTALI: Obviously, he has learned something. I mean it is speculation. It seems to me he learned something today about Russia makes him -- that is annoying him. Why tweet out of the blue about Russia?

CABRERA: About Russia.

NAFTALI: So he's -- there is something bothering him. He learns something...

CABRERA: And before this, it was seemingly like as if he had dropped some of the Russian talk.

NAFTALI: He dropped and he was focused on Alabama.

CABRERA: Yes.

NAFTALI: Something -- so he learned something today.

[17:30:00] Russia -- it is very good for him to blame Russia for his troubles with Republicans on the Hill. You can't blame Russia for the fact that the Affordable Care Act is still alive.

You can't blame Russia for the fact that if these negotiations towards the tax cut are not that easy. It may happen but it's not easy. You can't blame Russia for the fact that his ban -- his Muslim ban didn't go through the way he wanted it to go through.

So Russia is useful for him, too, because he can blame it. His big problem frankly is that whatever it is about the Russia story he is unwilling to basically come clean in a way that would help him push it away. All he would have to do is say, look, Putin was responsible for

messing in our election. I won anyway but it is a horrible thing that a foreign country did this.

CABRERA: Yes.

NAFTALI: I want to know exactly how they did it. So it will never happen again. If he had said that what a different position he would be in today.

CABRERA: That's a good point. Meantime, Michael, I'm curious to get your take on how other members of the Trump family have been reacting to all of this, too.

They continue to feel the heat and we see his son, Donald Trump Jr., under increased scrutiny. But he isn't exactly trying to stay out of the spot light.

In many ways he has sort of reacted the way his dad did. He is giving speeches, he's going to fundraisers, he's tweeting against GOP establishment, Clinton, sending his father.

He has even made public -- here's different, he has made public the Twitter messages between himself and WikiLeaks during the campaign. What do you think that is all about?

D'ANTONIO: Well, it is out of the family play book to be bold, to sort of get in your face and in Donald Trump Jr.'s case in the past he has submitted to the public e-mail chains about the meeting at Trump tower with the Russian attorney.

So I think this is consistent with the combative nature of the Trump style. But I also think deeply and often about what Ivanka Trump faces now, if Jared Kushner is in serious trouble -- Kushner has his own experience with his own father going to prison.

I don't think the Kushner family is going to be happy at all about the prospect of their son in terrible circumstances and perhaps facing growing Congress or in some legal proceeding. So there are some choices looming in terms of loyalty and just the pressure on these people.

I think it is part of the problem of surrounding one's self with family. This is actually one reason why some business people push their kids away from the family business especially when it is a very big and controversial one.

They just don't want the kids to get touched by whatever mess might reside beneath the surface. And instead we have a family that's intertwined with the business and intertwined with the political operation of the White House and there are lots of risks all around.

CABRERA: All right, gentlemen, got to leave it there. Tim Naftali, David Gergen, Michael D'Antonio, thanks to all of you. Coming up, with the top Democratic on the House Judiciary Committee stepping down over allegations of sexual misconduct. The president is standing by Roy Moore calling for Alabama voters to support him although he is also accused of sexual assault. So how do Alabama voters view Trump? We'll hear from them next.

[17:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: So President Trump is standing by Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore despite the calls from a lot of GOP law makers for Moore to step down over sexual assault allegations against him.

Without mentioning Moore's name Trump tweeted today, the last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer-Pelosi puppet who is weak on crime, weak on the border, bad for military and our great vets, bad for a Second Amendment and wants to raise taxes to the sky. Jones would be a disaster.

The president also tweeted, I endorsed Luther Strange in the Alabama primary and he shot way up in the polls but it wasn't enough, can't let Schumer-Pelosi win this race.

Liberal Jones would be bad. But what do Alabama voters think and how much influence does the president have over their vote? Our Gary Tuchman went to Moore's hometown to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the shopping mall in Gadsden, Alabama, where Roy Moore has been accused of looking for high school girls when he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s. It's where we came to talk to Alabama voters. Who you're voting for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roy Moore.

TUCHMAN: Do you know who you're going to vote for, Roy Moore or Doug Jones?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely not Roy Moore.

TUCHMAN: Shopper and voter Raysha Hufstetler says she doesn't want to publicly say which Senate candidate she supports. Donald Trump's words saying that Judge Roy Moore denies this and saying that he doesn't want a liberal in the seat, which is an implied endorsement of Roy Moore. Do you feel that had any influence on how you're going to vote?

RAYSHA HUFSTELTER, ALABAMA VOTER: No.

TUCHMAN: And why not? Why aren't the president's words influential to you?

HUFSTETLER: He doesn't run my choice. So, my choice is mine.

TUCHMAN: But President Trump statements are proving to be very influential to others. Do you know who you're going to vote for in the Senate election?

FAYLIN DICKERSON, ALABAMA VOTER: Doug Jones.

TUCHMAN: Faylin Dickerson says her support of the Democrats has been strengthened because of the president's words.

DICKERSON: I'm anti-Trump just to be honest with you. So, he's endorsing Roy Moore, and I just -- I don't feel like I want Roy Moore up there.

[17:40:00] TUCHMAN: Onisha Bryant feels similarly. Does it disappoint you that President Trump said that?

ONISHA BRYANT, ALABAMA VOTER: Yes, it does. The other thing that comes out his mouth, it does.

TUCHMAN: Across from the mall, the waffle house, the president's words are also influential to customer Donald Mitchell. Who are you supporting in this race?

DONALD MITCHELL, ALABAMA VOTER: I support Roy Moore.

TUCHMAN: Influential because he very much appreciates the president's words. If he said I'm not supporting anyone in this race, or if he said I'm going to pick the Democrat over to accused child molester...

MITCHELL: If he won't support him, I'm going to change my opinion in it.

TUCHMAN: Really?

MITCHELL: What Trump says pretty well, pretty well, I like him.

TUCHMAN: So, his word means a lot to you?

MITCHELL: Yes.

TUCHMAN: His wife feels the same about what the president says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for him. And I trust him.

TUCHMAN: This Judge Moore supporter also trusts the president, but says he didn't need his guidance. If Donald Trump would have said I don't think you should vote for Roy Moore because these women may be telling the truth, would you have changed your vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, absolutely not.

TUCHMAN: So it just helped solidify.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Thanks to, Gary Tuchman, for that report. Coming up, we have heard of the turmoil at the State Department but now word that career diplomats being pushed out in droves as new hiring is frozen. So what exactly is going on with the State Department and how much is

Rex Tillerson to blame? We'll ask a former State Department spokesman what he thinks next.

[17:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: This weekend we learn the names of the three sailors who went missing when their transport crashed off Japan. Japan's coast on Wednesday crashing into the Philippine Sea. They are Lieutenant Steven Combs of Florida, Airman Matthew Chialastri OF Louisiana, and Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso also from Florida.

These men were aboard a plane like this one when it crashed just south east of Okinawa. Eight other people were rescued. They are said to be in good condition.

I want to bring in CNN military and diplomatic analyst, Admiral John Kirby who is joining us from Washington. Admiral, this is now the third deadly incident involving the navy's seventh fleet this year. How do you make sense of this?

RETIRED REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Well, I think first of all, it's very tragic and my thoughts go out to the families that are effected by this as well as ship mates and fellow crew of these three individuals because they are grieving, too.

I think we need to be real careful though, Ana, in drawing too bright a line between this crash and the other mishaps, and safety incidents that have happened in the Seventh fleet over the past year.

The Navy fully investigated those and did a comprehensive review, they found some common linkages and issues that they got to work on in terms of leadership, resources, training, and you know what, as a result of the investigation into this plane crash, they might also find some links into those larger issues.

But we need to let investigation complete itself and then -- and then go from there. I would add that this aircraft has an extraordinarily great safety record.

Only three crashes prior to this one since 1980, this is the first fatal one since 1980. So it's a very safe aircraft, have been flying a long, long time. Again, I think we just need to let the investigation take its run.

CABRERA: Such a tragic situation. I want to pivot to a different topic now. As a former State Department spokesperson, I want to ask about some reporting, we have Ivanka Trump getting ready to lead investigation allegation to India for this global entrepreneurship summit.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not sending any high level State Department staff. Sources telling CNN that decision is not about the budget, it's about Ivanka specifically. What is the potential fallout of this? KIRBY: Well, I don't know how much it's really about Ivanka or what

the tensions are between Mr. Tillerson and her, if that is in fact the case. Obviously, that's not a healthy thing for relationships between the White House and the State Department.

It certainly not a healthy thing for the way we are representing ourselves to the rest of the world. I would say that this particular entrepreneur summit in India is about women entrepreneurship.

So I think it is perfectly appropriate for Ms. Trump to go. She is an entrepreneur -- entrepreneur herself and represents the president.

And what I have been told by State Department sources is that although they are not sending any high level in terms of like the secretary himself or the deputy secretary, or policy chief, they are sending some senior staff to help Ms. Trump work her way through that summit and of course she will have the full support of the embassy there in India.

CABRERA: Now the New York Times has reporting on the inner struggles at the State Department perhaps that's why this issue involving Ivanka and State Department has taken on a bigger life.

This is what the New York Times has in their story reporting at this quote, in his first nine months in office, Mr. Tillerson turned down repeated and sometimes urgent requests from the department's security staff to brief him according to several top officials in the bureau of diplomatic security.

Finally Mr. Miller, the acting assistant secretary for diplomatic security was forced to cite the law's requirement that he be allowed to speak to Mr. Tillerson. This obviously fits into what we have been hearing about moral problems at the department. But admiral, do you think it is more than that?

KIRBY: I think it is certainly part and parcel to that. I also think it is representative of the fact that Mr. Tillerson tends to isolate himself or at least is isolating or begin isolated by senior staff around him and not necessarily really reaching out to the rest of the State Department.

To the people there in foggy bottom or to the many cadre of foreign service officers and ambassador he has around the world, he sends sort of gets advice from a small group, and isolating himself there on the seventh floor, and that's not healthy.

Look, a bureaucracy is not a business. The bottom line for diplomats is not about making money or profit. It is about representing U.S. values around and U.S. foreign policy around the world.

And he would do well I think to spend more time making himself accessible to them to asking from what they think into reaching out to their expertise.

That is what worries me the most from what I am hearing. He is not really doing that. He is really not reaching out inside the bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is not a bad word. I mean it is what is. It can be slow, it can be frustrating but it's important particularly at the State Department.

CABRERA: Admiral John Kirby, thanks so much. We really appreciate your time and your take.

KIRBY: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, we'll have much more on our breaking news, Congressman John Conyers will step down as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. Plus, we'll hear from Senator Al Franken in his first interview with a local Minnesota radio station.

[17:50:00] Stay with us.

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CABRERA: On the season finale of Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain takes in the sights and sounds of Southern Italy. Here is a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Never been to this part of Italy before. It exposed underneath of Italy. There's a romance to this country. I'm here because of (Inaudible). We made a show together in Rome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does this remind you of (Inaudible).

BOURDAIN: A little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

[17:55:00] BOURDAIN: It's confusing. Is Italy even a country? Is it a conglomeration or association of different cultures? What's happening in this perfect, beautiful, delicious, wonderful, confusing, awesome place?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Don't we all need an escape sometimes. You can explore southern Italy with Anthony Bourdain tonigh on Parts Unknown at 9:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN. We'll be right back.

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