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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Ryan, Pelosi Both Call on Conyers to Resign; Roy Moore Features President Trump in New Ad; Interview with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired November 30, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ARNOLD REED, ATTORNEY FOR REP. JOHN CONYERS: It's not up to Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi did not elect the congressman.
[16:30:02] And she sure as hell won't be the one to tell the congressman to leave.
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conyers ally Jim Clyburn after initially defending him now also joining the calls for his resignation. Conyers lawyer implying it's a power play.
REED: There have been people that have wanted John Conyers to step down for years.
GANIM: All of this today after former Conyers staffer Marion Brown spoke to NBC, despite having signed a nondisclosure agreement with Conyers when she settled a case in 2014.
MARION BROWN, ACCUSES CONYERS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: It was sexual harassment violating, violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guys of discussing business. And then propositioning me to, you know -- for sex. And he's just violated my body. He has touched me in different ways.
GANIM: On the other side of the Capitol, a fifth woman has accused Minnesota Senator Al Franken of sexual misconduct. Army veteran Stephanie Kemplin said when she was stationed in Kuwait in 2003, Franken groped her during a photo op while he was on a USO tour. She told CNN she turned away moments before this photo was snapped, saying, quote: When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast and I remember thinking, is he going to move his hand?
Franken put out a statement saying in part, he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct.
Today, Franken refusing to address a growing list of accusers.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Looking forward to fighting this terrible tax bill.
GANIM: Just moments ago, Franken for the first time facing a call to resign from a fellow Democrat, Tim Ryan. Meanwhile, the woman who spoke out against Conyers this morning could face legal trouble for her interview. Her attorney telling me, she advised her client she could be sued by Conyers and forced to pay back that settlement money, plus additional damages if he resigns and goes after her. A big risk she took her today, but she said it was worth it, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Sara Ganim, thank you so much.
Terrifying images of Kim Jong-un showing off what is likely North Korea's most dangerous missile yet. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is a major in the Army National Guard and also in the House of Representatives. She joins me next. Stay with me.
[16:36:42] TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead. President Trump is the star of a new campaign ad for embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't need a liberal person in there. Jones, I've looked at his record, it's terrible on crime, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment.
AD ANNOUNCER: Roy Moore, the right choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It comes less than two weeks before voters head to the polls in the critical contest.
CNN's Alex Marquardt is in Birmingham, Alabama.
Alex, we're learning about a 2011 course that Moore co-authored and it said that women shouldn't run for office?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is the latest in a long list of controversies swirling around Judge Roy Moore. In addition to saying that, that Muslims should not serve in Congress, in addition to getting kicked off the state Supreme Court guys. He was the co-author on a course for a group called Vision Forum which no longer exists. It's a group out of Texas that taught exclusively to men. And they described egalitarian feminism. So, this radical notion that men are equal to men as a false ideology.
Now, this course that Moore was a co-author of had video and audio components and essentially said that if women run for office, people have a moral obligation not to vote for them. It also criticized the women's suffrage movement, which, of course, helped get women the right to vote in this country.
Now, the Doug Jones he campaign responded, calling it part of a larger and disturbing pattern against women. He said that every day brings more examples of how Roy Moore's extreme and divisive agenda would make Washington worse and why he should not represent Alabama in the Senate. Jake, we have also reached out to the Moore campaign, but so far, have
not heard back.
TAPPER: And, Alex, at a rally last night, Moore blamed the LGBT community for these sexual misconduct allegations, including this woman from Alabama who says that when she was 14 years old, he sexually molested her and when he was in his 30s and the other Alabama woman who said that when she was 16, he sexual assaulted her?
MARQUARDT: He likes to blame a lot of people. He casts this as himself against the world. It's not just the GOP establishment who's against him, it's not just Democrats, but it's also, now, the LGBT community.
Take a listen. This is what he said last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: When I say they, who are they? They're liberals. They don't want conservative values. They're the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender who want to change our culture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: So, remember, Jake, the first time that Roy Moore was kicked off the state supreme court was for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments. He likes to cast this as a good versus evil fight, as a culture war, as a fight for Christian values. We have heard him rail not just against the gay and lesbian community on the campaign trail, but also against transgenders, saying there should be no such thing as transgender bathrooms. Transgenders should also, he says, not serve in the U.S. military -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Alex Marquardt.
Just today -- let's talk more with our panel right now. We should point out that Roy Moore is in a Twitter feud with comedian Jimmy Kimmel. This started last night when another comedian who's part of the Kimmel show crashed Moore's rally at a church wearing a shirt that said Gimme Moore.
[16:40:07] Today, Moore tweeted Kimmel saying; If you want to mock our Christian values, come on down to Alabama, do it man to man.
Within minutes, Jimmy Kimmel responded, saying, quote: Sounds great, Roy. Let me know when you get some Christian values and I'll be there.
The little comedy there, of course, but -- there is a bigger issue here about Alabama becoming something of a laughingstock, if it actually votes for Roy Moore.
MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. And you know, whether they will vote for Roy Moore after all of the headlines that we have seen over the last couple of weeks, I think when a candidate has become sort of so controversial and so well-known for the controversies surrounding him, obviously, that becomes sort of the center of what this special election will be about.
I think you're right, that the voters who either choose to reject him or choose to support him, that will really come down to the last couple of weeks and the news that has come out over the last couple of weeks about these women and some of the actions that he took many years ago with these young women, I should say, teenagers.
TAPPER: Just today, two top Democrats called for Congressman John Conyers, Democrat for Michigan, to resign amid sexual harassment allegations. This comes as bipartisan legislation was just introduced that would end the use of taxpayer money to settle these misconduct claims against lawmakers.
Joining me now, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, one of the co- sponsors of the legislation.
Congresswoman Gabbard, before we get to your legislation, I do want to ask you, do you agree with Tim Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, and Paul Ryan that Congressman Conyers should step down?
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: Yes, absolutely. This kind of behavior of objectifying women and disrespecting them in such an incredible way is unacceptable. We should have a zero tolerance towards this kind of behavior, and he should resign.
TAPPER: How would your legislation stop the culture of sexual harassment and assault? And also, secrecy when it comes to the sexual harassment and the problem on Capitol Hill?
GABBARD: Our bill goes directly to the heart of the problem that has allowed this to perpetuate for so long behind closed doors and, you know, dark curtains. The fact that this process has allowed members of Congress and their staffers to settle claims for things like sexual harassment and assault using taxpayer dollars and without anyone knowing about it is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable.
Our bill not only changes this process for the future, making it so that members of Congress or staffers who have this predatory behavior, they will be held personally and financially responsible. But it also deals with the last 20 years and, you know, 278 or so claims that have been settled already in Congress, in bringing out how much those settlements were for, what they were for, and who was involved, whether it be a member of Congress, or a staffer, while freeing survivors and victims of these incidents, and giving them the opportunity to talk about this issue, if they would like to do so.
TAPPER: Now, I'm not a lawyer. The idea sounds great to me, release these women from these nondisclosure agreements. But lawyers have said to me that there might be constitutional issues with it since it was a contract already agreed upon. I assume that this has been vetted by lawyers that say that there is a way to do this?
GABBARD: This legislation went through the congressional legislative counsel that they held to draft this. The bottom line is the American people did not sign on to this. The American people and Congress did not sign on and say no, you've got to keep these things secret. And we certainly agree to have the American people pay the bill for members of Congress who are either sexually harassing or assaulting staffers here in Congress.
This has to be brought out to the light of day in order to begin to change this culture that is becoming all too prevalent within our society where people should actually be living up to this standard of aloha -- treating people with care, with kindness, with respect, not as objects that they can use and abuse as they wish.
TAPPER: Congresswoman, I want to turn to North Korea if we can. New images were released today showing a gleeful Kim Jong-un overseeing the missile launch on Tuesday. How concerned are you about whether we might be actually headed for war here?
GABBARD: You know, Jake, this is something I've been talking about for years. From the time that I ran for Congress and ever since I've been here, talking about how real this threat is, because this has been very real for the people of my home state of Hawaii who have long known that North Korea's continued growing capabilities put us squarely within range of their intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The fact that we are in this position today where we have no good options left to us really is a failure of past leadership, both Democrat and Republican. And so the only viable option that I see before us today is a diplomatic one, and that can only be pursued if two things happen. One is that we negotiate directly with North Korea and Kim Jong-un, and secondly, in order for those negotiations to be successful, we have to understand why Kim Jong-un is holding on so tightly to those nuclear weapons because he sees them as his only deterrent from the U.S. coming in and trying to topple his regime. And he knows this because of our track record. He looks back to Iraq and how we overthrew Saddam because of false intelligence and weapons of mass destruction.
He looks to Libya, and we see how even after Gaddafi was promised by the U.S. that if he gave up nuclear weapons we wouldn't go after him, then we went after him and took him out. He looks at what we are -- have been -- are still doing in Syria in trying to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad, sees what's going on with Iran and how people in the administration and Congress are increasing this rhetoric to go after Iran and overthrow their government. So there's a long track record here that must end. Not just, you know, through word, but we actually have to end this regime change policy for North Korea to see that we're serious about peacefully negotiating, to de-escalate and ultimately denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, thank you so much. It's always good to see you.
GABBARD: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: We'll be right back. We go lots more to talk about with our panel. Stick around.
[16:50:00] TAPPER: We're back. We're going to stick with our political panel. Alabama Special Election is less than two weeks away. Roy Moore has been -- he has this new ad using President Trump's almost endorsement that was at the White House. And a group backed by Steve Bannon, CNN has learned will spend six figures on campaign ads for Moore. Do you think Moore might actually have the momentum now to win?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, I mean, it's Alabama also, so this is a state that Trump won by almost 30 points. And so, you know, even considering how controversial he is, it's very difficult for a Democrat to win there. So I think that that is sort of default expectation that I would have for it. The fact that it has even tightened as much as it has is because he was so controversial. And he was controversial even before you know, the issues came up with the -- with the 14-year-old and these other women. And so I think when you add that in, that's what's tightened it. But yes, he definitely could still win.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: This is what's so infuriating about this political moment, right? Just a few moments ago, I had a story about how he was part of something that said women shouldn't run for office. My blood is boiling right now.
TAPPER: Or vote, right? Or even. He was against suffrage.
ANDERSON: This is -- this is insane, right? And this is someone who I agree, is extremely likely to wind up in the United States Senate. And I think for a lot of voters in Alabama, I don't think a majority of voters in Alabama think women shouldn't run for office. I don't think a majority of voters in Alabama think it's OK for men in their 30s to make sexual advances to eighth graders. But what I do think is that there are a lot of voters who are willing to say, yes, you know what, the world says Alabama will be a laughing stock if we vote for this guy, but I don't care what the world thinks. And I'll stick a finger in their eye to prove that we're willing to do the unpopular thing, to stand up for conservative values. And that's the political moment we're in. And so, again, I don't think it's that a majority of Alabama voters will endorse these things that he's done, but they will vote for him in spite of it because that is the heinous political climate that we live in now.
TAPPER: It's pretty heinous, I agree. So one of the big questions for Republican Senators is, if Roy Moore wins, what do we then do? There are --- there's talk of not seating him. There's talk of immediately beginning impeachment proceedings. Take a listen to Republican Senators Susan Collins, probably the most liberal or moderate Republican in the United States Senate talking about how the GOP will have no choice but to seat him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: If he is elected, there are no grounds under the constitution to fail to seat him. If the voters of a state fully knowing all of these allegations nevertheless choose to elect Roy Moore, is it appropriate for the Senate to expel him? I think that's a really difficult question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That's where we are. It's a difficult question. Should the United States Senate seat somebody who has been credibly accused by multiple people of molesting or assaulting or at least having improper advances towards children, people under the age of 18?
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, look, I think that if you were to put every single Senate Republican under a lie detector test and ask them, should Roy Moore be your colleague? Most of them would answer, he's not worth the trouble and no, I don't want that. However, I think what Susan Collins there is getting to, part of it is if that voters in Alabama decide that they want to vote for him, despite these stories having come out, despite learning these things from his past, then part of that is obviously our democracy and how our democracy functions. And do you really want to reject a choice that the voters have made? The other option, of course, is trying to expel him, but that is tricky for the Senate Republicans after an election has already taken place.
TAPPER: Indeed. Great panel. Thank you so much. It's being called the glitch that stole Christmas. Why you might not be able to make it to your holiday vacation or from your holiday vacation if you fly one particular airline that accidentally gave way too much pilots a vacation. Stay with us.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: Today's "NATIONAL LEAD," American Airlines is scrambling to deal with a Christmas crisis. The world's largest airline is still working for a major scheduling glitch. Something -- somehow allowing too many pilots to take vacation in the month of December leaving 200,000 flights unstaffed during Christmas week. Today American airlines is thanking several pilots for stepping up and picking up unassigned flights, but there are still hundreds of flights uncovered. The hope is a bank of pilots on standby will be able to solve this problem. Today American Airlines says so far it's not canceling any flights in December. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper turning over now to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SIT ROOM." Thanks for watching.