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Writer Sues Trump over President's Reaction to Her Rape Allegation; Conway: "I Don't Know if Ukraine Aid Was Held Up"; Republican Defense: Yes, Quid Pro Quo But Not Enough to Impeach; DOJ Puts Anonymous Author of White House Dirt on Notice; McDonald's Fires CEO over Consensual Relationship with Employee. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 4, 2019 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:33:31]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A well-known advice columnist and author, who says that President Trump sexually assaulted her years ago inside a dressing room of the New York City landmark department store, Bergdorf Goodman, she is now suing him for defamation.

This just coming out this morning. E. Jean Carroll revealed her story earlier this year and the president has denied the allegations. So what now with this defamation case now making its way through?

CNN national correspondent, Athena Jones, has the details of the case is here now.

Athena, thanks so much for coming in.

What do you know about the case? What are you hearing about this?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, this is not the first defamation suit connected to an alleged sexual assault that the president is facing. This is at least the second one that has been filed against him.

BOLDUAN: E. Jean, in and of itself.

JONES: Exactly. We'll get back to that.

But E. Jean Carroll she shared this in a book excerpt published in "New York" magazine over the summer. The president denied it then. We have reached out to the White House and reached out to his attorney and haven't heard new denials. He denied these allegations.

She says the president brutally raped her -- those are her words -- in the fall of 1995 or the spring of 1996. She says she bumped into him while leaving Bergdorf Goodman. He recognized her, she recognized him. And he said, hey, come inside, help me pick out some lingerie for a girl.

They made their way to the lingerie section. They were teasing. They ended up in the dressing room. He wanted her to try on a body suit. She describes the stuff in very specific detail.

And so that is where she says he pushed her against the wall twice. He banged her head at one point and assault herd. She eventually pushed him away, got out, ran out.

[11:35:06]

She says -- she told "New York" magazine and she told CNN that she confided in friends about this. CNN spoke with one of those friends she confided in at the time, soon after this incident occurred. But she didn't go to law enforcement.

Well, now she is saying that the president lied about her when he said that her story was totally false.

In the president's denials over the summer, he said that her allegations were totally false. He never met this person. He also said, "I've never met this person in my life. She's trying to sell a new book. That should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section."

So she's saying he lied about her. She suffered professional damage, in his response, to her advice column. So now she's suing him.

And she's the second person. Summer Zervos, a former "Apprentice" participant, also suing the president for defamation connected to an alleged sexual assault.

BOLDUAN: So another defamation suit against the president. We'll see where this goes. It's a long road, as you point out.

Great to see you, Athena. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.

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[11:40:55]

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DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So you feel totally confident that, at the core of this, the heart of this, there was no quid pro quo?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I feel confident about the fact that Ukraine has that aid and is using it right now. That it's because of this president that they have it. The last --

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BASH: Kellyanne, you won't say yes or no?

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BASH: Quid pro quo, yes or no? CONWAY: -- I've said to you, I don't know whether aid was being held

up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That is White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, unable to answer the question asked directly and repeatedly by my colleague, Dana Bash, was there a quid pro quo when it came to investigations into Donald Trump's political rivals.

Kellyanne Conway would not answer the question, though the president has done so many, many times over, declaring even again this weekend that there was no quid pro quo.

Just as the "Washington Post" is reporting that a growing number of Republican Senators are coalescing around a new defense that there was a quid pro quo but that it wasn't bad enough to rise to the level of impeachment. That is the state of play at this moment.

Let's get a check in with former Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich. He is now a CNN senior political commentator.

Governor, always good to see you.

If this is the route that Republicans are going in terms of fending off impeachment, he did it but it's not bad enough, what do you think of that?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, everybody is going to have to decide, Kate, for themselves whether they think it does. And does this set a precedent for future executives?

Is it proper for a president to be holding vital military aid for a country like Ukraine over the leaders in that country's heads, saying if you don't do what I want to investigate my political opponents, you may not get the money?

You have the chief of staff saying it was a quid pro quo. You have testimony from Ambassador Taylor and Vindman that say -- Vindman said he was worried about the national security implications for the United States. I can't tell other people how to think.

I mean, I had two friends that I spoke to over the weekend, both of whom I served in Congress with, neither of whom voted to impeach Bill Clinton. And both of them said they don't think this is -- rises to the level of impeachment. And they're very smart, really good people.

So, everybody is going to have to make up their mind.

What I think is critical, Kate, is public hearings. Right now, everything is stark. Everything is political.

KASICH: If, in fact, you get somebody like Vindman in his military uniform testifying in public to see how the public reacts to that.

You know, right now this is partisan. I don't think it is a partisan exercise. It may be that's the Democrat's purpose, but for me it is about the presidency.

BOLDUAN: I do -- and you make a really interesting point about when this kind of moves into the public phase because, while true that you think the president has reached the point of committing an impeachable offense, it is also true that Republicans have been all over the map in terms of how to defend him.

I have gone over many times the list of the defenses of, the words in the call, to he was joking, to now maybe this is where they're getting to a place of there was a quid pro quo but it wasn't bad enough.

So far, no matter what has occurred between those two truths I just laid out, it doesn't look like it has moved Republican voters at all, which is, as you're kind of getting to, maybe which is -- when this is a political question is one of the most important things.

KASICH: Well, Kate, look, here's -- I thought long ago that Democrats should have voted for an impeachment inquiry on the House floor. They didn't do it. I think for political reasons.

Then you saw the selective leaks out of the Intelligence Committee. Then they passed rules that improved the process but still my understanding is not as robust as to what we passed in the Clinton proceedings.

It is incumbent on them to show the public that this is not just trying to remove a president because they don't like him. They have to show the public that this is a fair process. And that's why the public hearings are important.

[11:45:08]

I think, to a degree, they've put themselves behind the curve on this. And Republicans have taken advantage of it.

And now the question is, with the public hearings, does the public listen to this and say, yes, this is really a problem.

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KASICH: When a guy like Vindman testifies --

BOLDUAN: Yes.

KASICH: -- or a guy like Bolton -- we don't know what he's going to say -- does that move the public? Because it if moves the public, it moves the politicians.

BOLDUAN: But also -- when it comes to this defense that you're hearing from some of your former colleagues, and also we're hearing from reporting that they get to a place of, what they're hearing just hasn't -- doesn't rise to the level there was a quid pro quo but doesn't rise to level of impeachment.

That's exactly what Mick Mulvaney said in that press conference when we went before reporters in the briefing room, when he said get over it, it happens all the time. And because of the backlash that he faced, he then started denying that he said the words that he said. So I'm --

KASICH: Yes.

BOLDUAN: I mean, are you going to accept it when your colleagues stand up and say, there was a quid pro quo, it happens all the time, it's not a big enough deal?

KASICH: Well, Kate, what am I going to accept? Everybody has to make up their own --

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BOLDUAN: I care about your opinion.

KASICH: By the way, by the way, it doesn't happen all the time. It is true that foreign aid can be withheld as a leverage to get countries to change their behavior, but I've never heard it being used to force a country to investigate a political opponent.

BOLDUAN: Right.

KASICH: These are two dramatically different things.

Kate, I have to respect where other people end up. You know, I can't say -- call them out and say, you're a loser. I had people call me a loser because I wouldn't decide what I thought about this early on.

At the end of the time, it's up to everybody to examine their conscientious and think about what's best for the presidency and what's best for the country.

Beating people up or try to beat them into a position, first of all, it isn't going to work. Secondly, I don't think it's very constructive. Everybody has to search their soul.

BOLDUAN: You beat me up enough. I'm going to end it today on that.

Good to see you, Governor. Thanks for coming in.

KASICH: All right, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: See you soon.

We'll be right back.

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[11:52:09]

BOLDUAN: The Justice Department is putting an anonymous author on notice right now ahead of this month's release of what is being billed as a tell-all book on the Trump White House.

CNN chief media correspondent, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter is here to talk about it. He's here now.

What are you learning about this book, Brian?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": This is a letter from the Department of Justice, Trump's DOJ, to the publishing house, saying, we need to know if this person has nondisclosure agreements.

Many authors who write books who are in government service have to go through a pre-publication review process. That's what the DOJ is bringing up.

Here's part of the letter from the DOJ that CNN has obtained. It says, "We request that you immediately provide us with your representations that the author did not sign any nondisclosure agreement and that the author did not have access to any classified information.

The letter goes on to ask the publisher for more information about who this anonymous author is.

The publisher is basically responding by saying, no, we're not going to do that. We're not going to sharing anything about this author. It's confidential.

The agents for the author are going further, saying this: "The author knows that the president is determined to unmask whistleblowers who may be in his midst. That's one of the reasons why, for this book, 'a warning' was written. But we support the publisher in its resolve that the administration's effort to intimidate and expose the senior official who has seen misconduct at the highest levels will not prevent the book from moving forward."

So, Kate, this book is still coming out. It's coming out two weeks from now. It's probably going to leak at lot sooner than that. And this book alleges serious misconduct by the president. I suspect it will be part of the impeachment inquiry.

But we see, for the first time, the DOJ trying to make a move and seek information about who this is.

BOLDUAN: Important to note this book has been written -- this is the same anonymous person that wrote that opinion piece in the "New York Times" that made such waves in the past year or so.

STELTER: That's right.

BOLDUAN: And that's the author of this.

Great to see you, Brian. Thanks.

STELTER: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Great reporting.

The CEO of McDonald's is out, fired for having a consensual relationship with a McDonald's employee, a violation of company policy.

CNN's Cristina Alesci is following all this. She joins me now.

Cristina, what's the impact of this announcement, this firing, this move?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Great question. This seems to be the case of a company walking the walk, Kate. I've covered companies in corporate culture for years now, and sometimes companies have great policies, they just don't follow through on them when it comes to the top brass.

Some context here, McDonald's faced intense criticism earlier this year for allegedly failing to protect workers from harassment in some of its stores. As a result, the company had to make a more robust anti-harassment policy, and they had a training program to make sure it was followed.

So when it came time to assess the CEO's behavior and his inappropriate behavior, the board really had no choice. They had to make this tough decision.

And it didn't matter that the CEO was generating business results. It didn't matter that it was a consensual reels relationship, and it didn't matter that he was divorced.

[11:55:06]

What mattered to McDonald's was the fact that he violated this policy that clearly says you're not to have a relationship with anyone who is in direct report or in indirect report. And that's where it seems that Steve Easterbrook, the former CEO now of McDonald's, seemed to have a problem -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Cristina, he's been seen as really helping the company turn around. What are seeing as an impact on the market now?

ALESCI: Investors don't like it. He has increased sales. Particularly increased ticket sales. That means, every time an order is placed, it's a larger order than previous years. So there's going to be an impact to the business. But we'll have to see what the new CEO does and if he follows in those footsteps -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Corporate structures and corporate rules are there for a reason.

Great to see you, Cristina. That you so much. I really appreciate it.

ALESCI: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, President Trump loses another court battle over his tax returns. It was our top story, breaking news this hour. Much more on what this means and what the next steps are. That's next.

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