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President Trump All In on Accused Child Molester Roy Moore for Alabama Senate; Terror Suspect Arrested in New York; President Trump Signs Space Directive. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired December 11, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Exactly 45 years ago, almost to the minute, Jack became one of the last Americans to land on the moon.
Today, we pledge that he will not be the last. And I suspect we will be finding other places to land in addition to the moon.
What do you think, Jack?
What do you think, Jack, huh? We will find some other places out there? There are a couple of other places, right?
We will learn.
The directive I'm signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use.
This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint. We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond.
This directive will ensure America's space program once again leads and inspires all of humanity. The pioneer spirit has always defined America. And we're picking that up in many other fields. I think you see that. I think it's obvious.
All you have to do is look at what's happening with the markets and all of the great things that are happening. We are leading in many different fields again. And it will get more and more obvious as you go along.
After braving the vast unknown and discovering the new world, our forefathers did not only merely sail home, and in some cases never to return. They stayed. They explored. They built. They guided. And through that pioneering spirit, they imagined all of the possibilities that few dared to dream.
Today, the same spirit beckons us to begin new journeys of exploration and discovery, to lift our eyes all the way up to the heavens and once again imagine the possibilities waiting in those big, beautiful stars, if we dare to dream big. And that's what our country is doing again. We're dreaming big.
This is a giant step toward that inspiring future and toward reclaiming America's proud destiny in space. And space has so much to do with so many other applications, including a military application. So, we're the leader. And we're going to stay the leader. And we're going to increase it manyfold.
I would like to invite Vice President Pence, if he would, to say a few words. He's been leading this for me.
And I appreciate it, Mr. Vice President.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, thank you. Thank you for your leadership and thank you for the honor to be here today, in my capacity as chairman of the National Space Council, for what I believe is a momentous occasion in the history of American space exploration.
To all the extraordinary leaders who are gathered with us today, to members of Congress and the pioneers of space exploration who are gathered here, we thank you, and we thank you for all you have done to serve our nation and expand the horizons of human knowledge and advance American leadership in outer space.
Mr. President, in signing this space policy directive, you are ensuring that America will lead in space once again. To guide this new era of American space leadership, President Trump has relaunched the National Space Council. And at the council's inaugural meeting in October, we unanimously approved a recommendation to instruct NASA to return American astronauts to the moon, and from there to lay a foundation for a mission to Mars.
Today's action by President Trump makes that recommendation official national policy for the United States of America.
As everyone here knows, establishing a renewed American presence on the moon is vital to achieve our strategic objectives and the objectives outlined by the our National Space Council.
In pursuing these objectives, Mr. President, we will, as you said, enhance our national security and our capacity to provide for the common defense of the people of the United States of America.
We will also spur innovation, as the space program has always done, Mr. President. You have reflected on it often. And we will see jobs created that we couldn't even imagine could be created today. We will also ensure, lastly, that the rules and values of space exploration are written with American leadership and American values.
Mr. President, you have said that the pioneer spirit has always defined America. And by your action today, with this clear vision, returning Americans to the moon, preparing to lead to Mars and beyond, you are ensuring, Mr. President that America will lead in space in the future and for generations to come.
And I thank you for the honor of being a part of this.
TRUMP: This is very exciting and very important for our country.
And it also happens to mean jobs. Jobs. And we love jobs, too, right? That's exactly right.
TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, everybody.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Peggy Whitson in there, a couple of heavy hitters in the realm of space. All smiles at the White House, the president just signing the Space Policy Directive 1 on this 45th anniversary -- 45 years ago, Apollo 17 moon landing.
But, for perspective and for a man who has covered space for many, many years, Miles O'Brien is with me, CNN aviation analyst and science correspondent for "PBS NewsHour."
And, so, Miles, explain this to me, because, listen, I have talked -- I remember talking and interviewing the previous NASA administrator. And obviously it's been a goal all along to get boot prints on Mars in our lifetime. So, what's new about this, first and foremost?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Footprints on the moon, Brooke.
They're talking about a moon landing, at least in general terms. And while NASA was sent on a course to go to Mars and create at least an orbital way station on the moon, the idea of putting a lander on the moon is not that was in the budget.
So, I always caution people, no bucks, no Buck Rogers. And talk is cheap in space. And it's easy to make directives, but at NASA's current funding levels, the idea of going to the moon, which -- and landing and putting footprints and flags there, as is suggested, probably about a $100 billion proposition just on its own right, could very well derail that larger effort to go to Mars.
And that's always the concern. Does the moon become a way station, a hopping-off point, or might it become a dead end?
BALDWIN: Last quick question, because you heard the president mention jobs, jobs, this means jobs. True?
O'BRIEN: Yes. The truth is, all those billions we spend on base, we don't bundle them in bags and put them in the spaceship. We keep them here on Earth. We hire people. We hire engineers. We hire people to bend the aluminum.
It's always been -- it's been proven time and again that it's good for the economy. BALDWIN: OK, Miles O'Brien, thank you so much. The moon and Mars.
Good to see you.
Let's move on, though, and get to the breaking story of the day here, this attempted terror attack this morning in the heart of New York City.
We now know the man accused of strapping this homemade pipe bomb to his chest and detonating it at the Port Authority bus terminal, he's talking. He's a 27-year-old suspect, Bangladeshi descent, living in Brooklyn now telling investigators that he did -- this is because of the recent Israeli actions in Gaza that drove him to his act of terror.
He's said to have made this explosive device at his workplace, although it is still unclear actually what he does for work after leaving his former job as a taxi driver.
So, let's go to Brynn Gingras to set all of this up for us.
She's our CNN correspondent near Times Square, near the scene of the explosion.
And so what -- we are saying that the suspect is talking. What are investigators sharing with you?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Brooke, and we are learning a lot through those conversations that the suspect, 27-year- old Akayed Ullah, is having with investigators in his hospital room.
I want to add to the fact that he told them that he did this because of those recent Israeli actions in Gaza. He also told investigators he did this in the name of ISIS. That's another thing that law enforcement now is going look into, if there's any sort of background to that, any social media interactions, any visits to foreign countries to support that claim that he made to investigators in those initial conversations.
I know you just mentioned that he said that he made this bomb at his work. A little bit of conflicting information there. We are also hearing it's possible he made this at his home, a home that he had in Brooklyn in a building that he actually shared, a separate apartment, with his brother.
We are told that he made that pipe bomb about a week ago in his apartment. Again, it is now up to investigators, they say, to go talking to his brother, but not just his brother alone.
It is always part of the procedures for investigators to talk to any family members or any known associates that they can talk to, to glean more information as to exactly what his motives were and the steps he took in order to bring us to where we are today.
Also, I just want to mention, Brooke, we just heard from a law enforcement source that he and his brother most recently did electrical work in this area of the Port Authority just a few blocks away.
So, that was the most recent work that we have heard about this Ullah, and that he did it with his brother. Before that, we had known that he was a cab driver, driving a cab most recently several years ago, Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, got the new details for us. Brynn, thank you so much. Keep digging.
I have got Chelsea LaSalle joining us, was at the Port Authority this morning when the bomb was detonated. She's with me on the phone.
And, Chelsea, I mean, my goodness, how scary that must have been for you happening in the middle of rush hour there, I presume, as you were heading off to work. Tell me where you were and what you saw.
CHELSEA LASALLE, WITNESS: Yes. I was at Port Authority bus station, and I was headed down to the subway station.
And as I was walking down, I heard a lot of people screaming very, very loudly. And I kind of stopped in my tracks there for a second and waited to see if anything else would happen. And as I waited, a ton of people just started running up the stairs, screaming go, go, get out, bomb.
And people just started like stampeding up the stairs, so I followed through, turned around and ran out of the building.
BALDWIN: We are looking at some of the video from this morning. How smoky, how loud was the explosion?
LASALLE: I, luckily enough, was not far enough down the subway station to see any of it or hear any of it.
BALDWIN: OK, good.
LASALLE: I must have missed it by probably two minutes, but judging by the way that everybody sounded, it was pretty bad.
BALDWIN: And I think, if you don't live in the city, people maybe don't understand. When we say Port Authority, this is like the nexus. This is where so many people early in the morning are taking the bus or trying to take the train, right, heading out. This is prime time.
LASALLE: Yes. It was crazy.
The amount of people that were there, you know, a lot of people were just confused as people were running up the stairs. A lot of people just didn't know what was going on. I know my uncle, who I had just left at Port Authority, he was one of the upper levels, and he got shoved into a store, and they shut all of the doors. And he, like, was not able to get out at all, so I can't even imagine what that was like. BALDWIN: Chelsea, I'm glad you're OK. I know your family is all glad
to hear your healthy voice on national television. Thank goodness, because it could have been so much worse. Appreciate you taking the time to call in. Thank you.
I have got two more voices now, Matthew Horace, former ATF executive, and James Gagliano, CNN law enforcement analyst and retired FBI supervisory special agent.
So, gentlemen, thank you so much for being with me.
And, James, just turning to you first, my first thought was, if this wasn't supposed to go off this morning, right, if this was just a whoops and he was intending to take it somewhere else, isn't the question, well, where and was he trying to maximize eventually and this was an accident? We don't know, I guess.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Brooke, we dodged a bullet this morning. There's no doubt about it.
GAGLIANO: And you know the old law enforcement adage. Law enforcement has to get it right every time. Bad guys only have to get it right once.
What leads us to believe that it might have been a premature detonation is, he did not pick the most opportune spot for this. Now, we saw -- you were just showing the video there and saw the corridor there that was filled with smoke.
A properly constructed pipe bomb, the overpressure itself, would have shattered eardrums and squashed organs and probably caused a lot more carnage there. We are lucky and blessed that there were only three woundings in this instance.
BALDWIN: So, Matthew, what are they looking at now as far as how this bomb was made? You heard Brynn reporting maybe it was made at his home as recently as last week, but what are investigators and ATF folks looking at right now?
MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF AGENT: They're going to be trying to determine how it was constructed, where the materials that made the pipe bomb came from.
We can tell, if it's galvanized pipe, where it was purchased. If it's PVC pipe, what are the date ship codes? Was there black powder, smokeless powder? Was there shrapnel inside? And when we do find out where he did purchase it, did he purchase materials for other devices? And if those devices exist, where are they?
BALDWIN: The White House, James Gagliano, says that their immigration plan would have kept this guy out of the country. True?
GAGLIANO: Very difficult to say. We know he's from Bangladesh. Bangladesh is in South Asia. It's situated between India and Thailand.
We do know some of the counterterrorism experts are saying that there has been an uptick in terrorist activities there. Very difficult to say that.
The subject had been inside the country for a number of years now, and apparently while he's being interviewed now, he's saying that this has something to do with Israeli actions in Gaza Strip.
BALDWIN: But also it's because of ISIS.
GAGLIANO: Because of ISIS.
And we also know that, in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Hamas have had a cease-fire there since 2004. From the law enforcement perspective, the most important thing here is to make sure that this wasn't directed by a terrorist group, whether it was ISIS or someone else, it was only inspired, because, clearly, the rudimentary components of the bomb, the way that it went off, it was kind of a Keystone Cop kind of exercise, helps us or at least leads us in the direction this might have been only a lone wolf attack.
BALDWIN: All right, James and Matthew, thank you both so much on that what happened this morning. Thanks goodness it wasn't worse.
Meantime, right now, voters in Alabama are getting robo-calls from President Trump and President Trump. We are now 24 hours to go before polls open in the Senate race with national implications.
We will talk about whether even President Obama's involvement could backfire.
And moments ago, what a contentious White House briefing that was. The once again repeated the claims that more than a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and assault involving President Trump are false. And now a new senator adding her name to the list of lawmakers saying the president should resign.
We will be right back.
BALDWIN: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.
Full-court press in on in these final hours here before tomorrow's critical U.S. Senate race in Alabama. And despite the national reckoning against these accused sexual harassment violators, President Trump is fully embracing Republican Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate.
Moore, as you know, is accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl, sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl, and pursuing relationships with other teenagers when he was in his 30s.
So, here is President Trump's robo-call to voters there.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hi. This is President Donald Trump, and I need Alabama to go vote for Roy Moore. If Alabama elects liberal Democrat Doug Jones, all of our progress will be stopped cold.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BALDWIN: As for Moore's opponent, the Democrat here, Doug Jones, tonight, primarily African-American voters in Alabama will be getting a robo-call from former President Barack Obama urging a vote for the Democratic candidate.
But moments ago at a campaign event, Doug Jones didn't even seem to know that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What is your strategy with utilizing that robo-call from former President Obama, knowing that many Alabama voters in the state did not support President Obama?
DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm not -- I'm going to be honest with you guys. I'm way up here, and there are robo-calls that have been recorded that I'm not sure what all is going out there.
The only robo-call that I know for a fact that was recorded -- and this is true -- the only one that I know for a fact that was recorded was the one that my wife did, and she told me directly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to Alabama to our correspondent there, Kaitlan Collins. She is in Midland City, where the president's former chief strategist Steve Bannon will be there stumping for Roy Moore.
So, Kaitlan, we just saw Doug Jones talking about his wife and a robo- call he certainly knows about. What about Roy Moore? I know he was kind of MIA over the weekend. Where is he today?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: MIA is a great way to put it, Brooke.
And we have not seen Roy Moore. He's not held any public events since his last rally last Tuesday with Steve Bannon in Fairhope, Alabama. And the first time we're seeing him in a week is here tonight in this barn behind me, again, with Steve Bannon.
And that's quite unusual, and we're in the 11th hour of this high- stakes, highly contested race and Roy Moore has really not done any public events with reporters and supporters or anything that we have seen. And that's certainly something the Doug Jones campaign has been taking advantage of, because they sent out an e-mail to supporters today touting all of the things he's done, traveling statewide.
They say that they have done hundreds of events in the last two months and knocked on 80,000 doors this weekend alone. Now, the only time that we did hear from Roy Moore this weekend was on Sunday, because he taped an interview with a local outlet where he denied the allegations made against him, saying he's never molested anyone and he did not meet any of the women who have accused him of sexual assault.
However, that interview came the same day that we saw a very stunning comment from the senior Republican senator here in Alabama, Senator Richard Shelby, who, I should note, does not often do television interviews, but he went on CNN with Jake Tapper, and he said he just couldn't bring himself to vote for Roy Moore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: I didn't vote for Roy Moore. I wouldn't vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.
I think so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip, when it got to the 14-year-old story -- story, that was enough for me. I said, I can't vote for Roy Moore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Now, those comments from a Republican senator come as Democratic manpower have been spilling into the state over the last few days, with lawmakers like Senator Cory Booker coming into the state to campaign on behalf of Doug Jones.
We've got Vice President Joe Biden sending out e-mails about him, and then also former President Barack Obama recording robo-calls on his behalf.
So, it's certainly stunning here, Brooke, that we're even discussing the possibility of a Democrat victory in a deeply conservative state like Alabama.
BALDWIN: Ruby red Alabama. Kaitlan Collins, looking forward to seeing that rally tonight, and Moore coming out from the rock he's been under, I guess, for the last couple of days.
Let's have a bigger conversation.
Kaitlan, thank you.
Let's turn now to CNN political commentator Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser in the Obama White House, and CNN political commentator Andre Bauer, a former Republican lieutenant governor of South Carolina.
Gentlemen, welcome to you. Dan, just to you. We both heard the sound bite from Doug Jones --
that was the second I have heard -- where he's asked about this President Obama robo-call and he's kind of like, well, I don't think I totally know about him. Listen, the only robo-call I know about is from my wife, which I think is really telling of this election in general.
But, Dan, do you think President Obama's -- former President Obama's presence will help or hurt the Democrat in this race?
DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it has to help.
BALDWIN: Does it have to?
PFEIFFER: Yes. It does have to help. In these special elections, it's all about turning out your voters.
President Obama is incredibly popular with Democrats in Alabama and across the country. And what these robo-calls, whether it was President Obama's robo-call, whether Donald Trump's robo-call, or Doug Jones' wife's robo-call, it's about reminding people that you believe would support you to go out and vote.
BALDWIN: Why is he so totally playing it down? It's almost like he's even pretending like he doesn't know it's happened.
PFEIFFER: I think my only guess for that, I don't really know, is other than you don't want to be talking about political process in the last few days. He has a very strong case to make against Roy Moore, an accused child molester and someone who believes Muslims shouldn't serve in Congress and women shouldn't vote or serve in office, and he needs to keep the focus on that, not on who is recording robo-calls for him.
BALDWIN: So, Andre, my question is really the same for you. Do you think this President Obama robo-call in ruby red Alabama, do you think that will end up helping Roy Moore?
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I actually appreciate the president getting involved because I want more people to get out and vote overall, but I actually don't think it would help.
I think back to in my 20s. I ran for a special election Senate seat in the state of South Carolina, and the Democrat governor went to the district and tried to help. In the special elections in the South, conservatives do a better job at getting their folks at.
And what that did when that governor came into that district, it helped me motivate people to get out about how important it was for conservative values and conservative issues. And I think it will actually have the exact opposite effect. I think it will make these Republicans in Alabama remember that they don't want any more of the last eight years they in fact had. And even if they're not the biggest fan of the Republican candidate, they will get and support the candidate because of the bigger picture of what it will do to the United States Senate.
BALDWIN: That's what I was wondering, if it would actually help the Republican in this case.
What about, though, Dan -- let's play it through and let's say Roy Moore wins. Let's say the Republican wins in this case. Do you think in the end, even though obviously that's not what your team, what Democrats want, might there be a bigger win long-term? Obviously, they have telegraphed that want to use this in the 2018 midterms and beyond.
PFEIFFER: No, I don't think it's a bigger win.
I think we should do everything we can, whether we're Republicans or Democrats, to keep people who are accused of molesting children out of the United States Senate. This is a man who was banned from the mall for being too creepy to young girls.
And that shouldn't be a -- the fact that it's even a partisan issue, the fact that the Republican president is campaigning for this accused child molester is a problem.
Republicans are going to have to answer to for their support for sexual assaulters, whether it's Roy Moore or Donald Trump, in the 2018 election, regardless of what happens on Tuesday.
While I have both the two of you, the topic we have really been talking about the last hour or so is one of the most contentious White House briefings we have seen in quite a while, when Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about these Trump accusers initially, and then about these attacks that the president keeps lobbing, weaponizing these attacks on the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I would just say, Sarah, that journalists make honest mistakes, and that doesn't make them fake news. But the question that I have...
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, when journalists make honest mistakes, they should own up to them.
QUESTION: We do.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Sometimes. And a lot of times, you don't.
(CROSSTALK) HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm sorry. I'm not finished.
There is a very big difference between making honest mistakes and purposefully misleading the American people, something that happens regularly. You can't say -- I'm not done. You cannot say...
QUESTION: ... completely fake, Sarah, and he admitted it.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: You cannot say that it's an honest mistake when you are purposely putting out information that you know to be false, or when you're taking information that hasn't been validated, that hasn't been offered any credibility, and that has been continually denied by a number of people, including people with direct knowledge of an instance.
This is something that...
I'm speaking about the number of reports that have taken place over the last couple of weeks. I'm simply stating that there should be a certain level of responsibility in that process.
ACOSTA: This was not -- this was not...
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Brian, I called on Jim.
ACOSTA: This is not the line of questioning that I was going down, but can you cite a specific story that you say is intentionally false, that was intentionally put out there to mislead the American people?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Sure, the ABC report --