Return to Transcripts main page


Editorial Criticizes Trump; Fifth Woman Accuses Franken; Matt Lauer Apologizes; Rose Calls Employees; North Korea's Missile Launch. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 30, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:33:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we do have breaking news.

Look at that number right there, 24,000. The Dow Jones Industrial average cracking the 24,000 barrier for the very first time, 24,000, a big round number. The stock market has been quite -- on quite a run for the last year, as you will hear the president point out time and time again.

Why is the market up today? It likes the progress that has been made on the tax debate inside Congress. Corporations will save a lot of money going forward. This plays into the discussion we're about to have as well.

Meanwhile, new developments in the not mincing words file this morning. "The New York Daily News" with a scathing editorial titled "Donald Trump is a Madman." It is talking about President Donald Trump saying after his latest spasm of deranged tweets, only those completely under his spell can deny what growing numbers of Americans have long suspected, the president of the United States is profoundly unstable. He is mad. He is by any honest layman's definition mentally unwell and viciously lashing out.

A subtle editorial.

Joining us now, CNN Political commentator Matt Lewis, CNN political analyst Amie Parnes.

Matt, first to you. "The Daily News," look, it's partisan, it's an editorial here. What it's talking about is what the president sent out yesterday, the anti-Muslim videos, the effect it's having on the relationship with Britain, the things he's been saying behind closed doors, denying the "Access Hollywood" tape, questioning President Obama's birth once again and then some other things he put out on Twitter yesterday accusing various people of various things with no foundation. Your reaction?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, great editorial, obviously. Going to get clicks. Is it true or not? Well, look, I don't know -- is there a method to his madness, right? I think Donald Trump is somebody who lies. So some of this could be strategic, you know, questioning, did the "Access Hollywood" tape actually happen? Did I actually say that? I'm not convinced that that's him losing touch with reality as much as him gas lighting all of us and trying to, you know, sort of re-write history.

So it's hard, you know, it's hard to define if somebody's crazy. We know he's petulant. We know he's childish. We know he lies. And we know he lacks impulse control.

[09:35:09] But, guess what, we knew these things three years ago about Donald Trump, certainly during the campaign. And the American people voted for him anyway. And so that's kind of where I'm at on this. He is all of those things. I can't diagnose him as insane. But this is the guy that we elected.

BERMAN: Amie Parnes, there's an "and but" here. And but this tax bill will likely pass. I mean it looks more and more likely that he's going to get this giant tax bill passed that will cut taxes for some but raise taxes for some and be a big tax cut for the wealthy. He's got a lot of federal judges on the bench, conservative judges. You know, can he make the case, you know, you can call me whatever you want, you can call me crazy, but I' getting the stuff I want to get done done.

AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and a lot of people are making that point. They're saying there is a strategy behind this. They're saying that he is sort of winning in that he is putting points on the board finally. That this bill might go through. That he's -- the Dow is up. That, you know, the economy is doing well and these are things that are bolstering him.

But I'm also hearing from other people who are saying this isn't necessarily good. These are people who voted for him, by the way, who are saying, I'm worried that he's becoming unhinged and unraveled. And this is happening day-to-day. I mean this is such a long time away from the Boy Scout comments and all that when people were starting to say that sort of thing. But I'm hearing more and more of that every day, particularly this week when we started with, you know, the Pocahontas comments leading to today.

BERMAN: Right.

You know, it's a great point, and I have never heard anyone make the case that he make reach these achievements because of the things that make him seem unhinged to some. You know, he's not getting the tax through because of what he writes on Twitter about the British. He's not getting the tax cuts through or appointing federal judges because he's lying about the "Access Hollywood" tape. I don't think there's a causal connection between those two things.

Guys, we do have some breaking news that I want to bring into this discussion.

We just learned that Michigan Congressman John Conyers has been hospitalized for what we are told are stress-related symptoms right now. Of course, John Conyers, the dean of the House, the longest serving House member right now, former ranking member of House Judiciary, he has been accused of various forms of inappropriate sexual behavior by people who have worked for him. There have been many, including democrats, who think he should resign altogether from Congress. There had been talk that members of the Black Caucus were urging him to get out.

Now we have learned he is in the hospital. And, you know, we will follow this very closely to see how he is doing.

You know, Matt Lewis, there is John Conyers, there's the new news about Al Franken, five women now talking about his inappropriate -- accusing him of inappropriate touching. It's five now. You know, is five enough to get him out of the Senate?

LEWIS: Right. Well, let me just say about Conyers, it's interesting that I do think that there can be a correlation between your physical health and these scandals.

BERMAN: Oh, sure.

LEWIS: Not a reason to not pursue them from a journalistic standpoint, but, you know, a joke -- and sometimes these guys, the sense that they may lose power and may not have a reason to kind of get up and go to work in the morning can, you know, Joe Paterno died pretty quickly after the whole Penn State scandal. I think Ken Lay, the Enron guy, had a heart attack or something pretty close to that whole scandal. So I'm not incredibly surprised by that. I'm surprised, actually, that there isn't more of that.

I don't know if Al Franken can make it or not. I will say this, the Democrats could have had a golden opportunity to really cast this as a Republican problem. Republicans, a lot of them, are sticking with Roy Moore down in Alabama. That's a really problematic thing. And Democrats could have had a clean shot at that. But I think the Conyers and the Al Franken stuff, and the fact that Democrats are sticking with these guys, they're not resigning, they're not being forced out, makes it really hard for democrats to make this a Republican problem.

BERMAN: All right, Matt Lewis, Amie Parnes, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

A day after NBC News announced his firing, ex-"Today" show host, Matt Lauer, responds to new sexual misconduct allegations. We've learned new details about what he is accused of doing.


[09:43:42] BERMAN: All right, breaking this morning, a statement from Matt Lauer. The fired "Today" show anchor responding to sexual misconduct claims. He says he is truly sorry to those he hurt. This as NBC confirms two new allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct against Lauer that came after his firing. The allegations came in after his firing.

CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, host of "Reliable Sources," here with me, as well as Hadas Gold, CNN media and business reporter.

Brian, first to you.

The new Lauer statement. BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a three paragraph statement intended for his former audience, his fans who watched him on the "Today" show for years.

Here is how the statement begins. It says, there are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I'm writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.

Note this next part. He says, some of what's being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.

I've asked Lauer's spokesman, what's he talking about? What is he saying is untrue? And they have not elaborated.

But he did go on to say, he regrets that his shame is now shared by the people he cherishes deeply and he concluded by saying he's blessed to be surrounded by the people he loves.

You know, you can't help but wonder how his wife, how his children feel seeing these disturbing stories in "The New York Times" and "Variety."

BERMAN: Yes. Again, the bigger question though is, how do the victims of this feel?

[09:45:03] STELTER: That's right.

BERMAN: And, Brian, we are learning a lot more about what different women now say happened.

STELTER: Yes. And "The New York Times" has a particularly disturbing account from a woman who worked for NBC in 2001, when she says Lauer summoned her to his office, proceeded to close the door and have sex with her. She says at some point she passed out and was -- had to be treated by a nurse when she woke up. She left NBC a year later, felt ashamed, so she never reported this incident to her bosses. However, now she has called NBC and filed this complaint.

She, like the other women described in "The New York Times" and "Variety" are choosing to remain anonymous, apparently still concerned about sharing their accounts publicly. You have to consider that some of these people still work for NBC, so it's a very difficult situation.

BERMAN: Notable, though, that more accounts are coming to the service.


BERMAN: Hadas, one of the things that we are learning about in the various reporting here is a button in Matt Lauer's office to lock his door from his desk. Explain.

HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: So in the story it talked about how Matt would supposedly have this button right underneath his desk, that he could press it and it would close and lock the door, which was alarming to some people. We've actually seen some reports from a former executive producer, for example, at NBC who said several executives actually had this option on their doors.

But you do have to wonder that that could be rather intimidating for anybody if you're sitting in an office with somebody as big as Matt Lauer and they close the door and lock it from the inside, that doesn't seem to be a very comfortable situation. It might be -- for some of these younger women, especially.

BERMAN: And, Hadas, you're also doing reporting, really impressive reporting, on Charlie Rose, of course, who was let go weeks before -- well, I guess a week, I have lost track of time, before Matt Lauer.

STELTER: Yes, only a week. Yes.

BERMAN: He's now calling some of his staffers. Explain.

GOLD: So in all -- a lot of the situations, you have to remember, it's not just the person who is -- who was the alleged harasser who was affected and his family. It's also the victims and also a lot of times their employees. So Charlie Rose had his own show, "The Charlie Rose Show," which was broadcast on PBS and Bloomberg and he had his own staff of about 20 or so people. And so when his show was cancelled, what happens to all those staff members?

Well, now we know he's been calling a lot of them one by one telling them -- thanking them for their service and saying, your last paycheck will be December 31st. Bloomberg is cutting off the access to their studios on December 8th. So now they're all out looking for jobs. That's at least 20 people now out of a job because of somebody's alleged misconduct.

BERMAN: All right, Brian Stelter, Hadas Gold, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

GOLD: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, we have growing tensions on the Korean peninsula. This after North Korea launched its most powerful missile yet. Why the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is now says it is time to cut all ties globally. That's ahead.


[09:52:08] BERMAN: All right, new this morning, President Trump going after China's efforts to rein in North Korea. The president writes, the Chinese envoy who just returned from North Korea seems to have had no impact on little rocket man. Hard to believe his people and the military put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemn the launch.

These comments come after North Korea successfully launched a new ballistic missile that is capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, Washington, New York, anywhere. CNN correspondent Will Ripley in Seoul, South Korea.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, right now we're waiting for the North Korean response to all of the developments that have been happening over the past 24 hours, including that brand new tweet from President Trump where he said, quote, the Chinese envoy who just returned from North Korea seems to have had no impact on little rocket man. Hard to believe his people and the military put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.

They did condemn the launch, but don't expect China to do what the United States is calling for. U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, wants China to cut off the oil supply. She said that President Trump personally made that request to Chinese President Xi Jinping, but we know that Beijing has proven unwilling thus far to do anything that they think would destabilize the North Korean regime because, keep in mind, it is a strategic buffer between U.S. allied South Korea, all the military assets there and mainland China. And China doesn't want to see North Korea and its government toppled.

North Korea will respond in some way to these new insults from President Trump. Remember yesterday in his speech he also called Kim Jong-un a sick puppy. But normally it takes a while for the North Koreans. Sometimes responses can take days because unlike the U.S. president, who tweets almost stream of consciousness, North Korea's messages are very carefully scripted and written and approved by many layers of bureaucracy before the world ever hears what North Korea's official message is going to be.

What we are seeing, though, out of Pyongyang is this brand new video of their latest intercontinental ballistic launch. This is the Hwasong-15. It's really a massive missile, if you look at the scale of it. You see the pictures of Kim Jong-un standing next to it. He stands 5'7". He was dwarfed by this 18 wheeler transporter erector launcher.

And the whole purpose of these dramatically, carefully produced, carefully edited videos is to project a menacing kind of fearful image to the world. So when you see the rocket going up into the sky, it's to project power domestically, within North Korea and also to tell the rest of the world that North Korea is growing its nuclear weapons arsenal and they say they're not afraid to use them if provoked.


BERMAN: Al right, our thanks to Will Ripley for that.

We do have breaking news just in. Producer and entrepreneur Russell Simmons stepping down from his various companies. This after an allegation by a writer of sexual assault. Jenny Lumet was a writer who back in '90 and '91 said that she was assaulted flat out by Russell Simmons. Russell Simmons put out a statement on this matter, but the gist of it is, that he is stepping down from all of his companies.

[09:55:12] We'll have much more on this ahead.

In the meantime, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is testifying on Capitol Hill. This as we heard word overnight that Jared Kushner has been speaking to the special counsel. Major developments on the Russia investigation.


BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone. John Berman here.

Major developments in the Russia investigation. Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, speaking to the special counsel. Does this mean that Robert Mueller is closing in and on whom? New signs, fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn might be cooperating.

[10:00:02] And Jeff Sessions, right now, behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee. You can see his arrival right there. That happened just minutes ago on Capitol Hill.