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Ex-Trump Security Chief Testifies He Rejected 2013 Russian Offer to send Five Women to Trump's Moscow Hotel Room; CNN Exclusive: Special Counsel Interviewed Trump Aide Stephen Miller About Comey Firing; Washington Post: Woman Says Alabama Senate Candidate Roy More Initiated Sexual Encounter When She was 14, He was 32. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 9, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:11] VANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

Shockwaves tonight. Roy Moore, the staunchly conservative Republican candidate to replace Jeff Sessions in the Senate, has been accused by a woman of engaging in a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 years old.

Also, two breaking stories in the Russia investigation. One of President Trump's closest confidants talking to congressional investigators about the most explosive allegation of the dossier that the president calls phony and fake.

And special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation reaching even deeper into the White House and closer to the top. Senior adviser Stephen Miller becoming the highest ranking active staff to talk to the special counsel's team.

We begin, though, with the president's former body man and bodyguard, Keith Schiller, and what he said to the House Intelligence Committee.

CNN's Manu Raju has that, joins us now.

So, what have you learned that Schiller said about this apparent offer of women in Russia?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Anderson. Schiller testified that he thought this offer from Russia to send five women up to Trump's hotel room back on a 2013 trip was a joke. He said it occurred around lunchtime and when he walked then private citizen Trump up to his hotel room later that night, he mentioned it to him and he said that Trump laughed it off. He said he stayed there for several minutes after Trump went into his hotel room and then he left. And he said he didn't know what happened after that.

Now, Schiller said he did not know who the Russian was who made that offer, but said it was someone in a group that was with Emin Agalarov who was at a meeting with Trump. Now, Agalarov is a Russian pop star whose father is a Russian billionaire and close to Vladimir Putin. And, of course, it was the Agalarovs who helped set up that meeting in 2016 with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower, where Russians promised dirt on the Clintons. Now, Anderson, a lawyer from Emin Agalarov told me tonight that his

client had no knowledge of the offer for -- to send up these women to his hotel room, but lawmakers asked this, Anderson, because they wanted to know if Russians had any dirt on Trump as alleged in the Steele dossier that lays out those Trump-Russia connections. And while some of those allegations in the dossier have been corroborated, some of some of the most salacious ones about Trump's trip to Moscow have not yet, Anderson.

COOPER: What else did Schiller have to say in testimony?

RAJU: Well, he was pressed for hours behind closed doors about a wide range of issues, Trump-Russia connections, about advisers meeting with Russians. And he really claimed that he did not know much since he was in charge of security at the time. He was not involved with policy matters.

Plus, he was asked repeatedly about what he knew about the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Remember, it was him, Anderson, who delivered the letter about the firing to the FBI. He said he was not involved in those deliberations.

And I can tell you, Anderson, some lawmakers left pretty frustrated, wishing they learned more about exactly what happened.

COOPER: All right. Manu Raju, appreciate that.

Now, a CNN exclusive: another milestone in the Russia investigation. Robert Mueller's team have reached into the president's current inner circle.

CNN justice correspondent Pam Brown joins us now with late word on who he's talking and why it may be significant.

Pamela, what have you learned?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we've learned that the White House senior policy aide Stephen Miller has now been interviewed as part of Robert Mueller's special counsel probe.

So, this brings the probe really into President Trump's inner circle at the White House because Miller is the highest level aide, that we know of, who has been interviewed by Mueller's team. And he's been there by Trump's side from the campaign days up until now, and he really has a front row seat to Trump's thinking.

So, of course, Mueller's team wants to talk to him. And he was also there during the firing of James Comey during that decision-making. And so, as we know, Anderson, that specifically is part of the possible obstruction of justice probe.

COOPER: There's also, I understand, investigators are also looking into the meeting where George Papadopoulos said that he could arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin.

BROWN: Yes, that's right. So, there was this meeting back in March of 2016, a national security meeting where George Papadopoulos, that volunteer for the campaign who recently was charged with lying to the FBI in the Russia probe, said that he could set up a meeting between Vladimir Putin of Russia and Donald Trump. And we're told that Stephen Miller was there at that meeting and that Robert Mueller wants to talk to anyone who was at the meeting to learn more about what happened there.

So, it's believed that that was also part of this interview as well, along with the Comey firing, because as we know, Anderson, Stephen Miller drafted that initial memo during a weekend in Bedminster just before the announcement was made, giving the explanation for firing James Comey which sources tell us was actually very similar to Rod Rosenstein's memo which was actually cited as the reason for firing Comey. That has been handed over to the special counsel's office.

But all of this, there's really an array of issues that we're told that came up during this interview with Stephen Miller, Anderson.

COOPER: Pam Brown, appreciate the details. Thanks.

To say there's plenty to talk about with the panel would be an understatement.

[20:05:01] A top adviser to the president talking to special counsel Mueller's team, and the president's confidant, a long time bodyguard testifying about the most explosive allegation of the Steele dossier.

Joining us tonight is former FBI and CIA senior official, Phil Mudd, former CIA senior officer and Russia expert, Steve Hall, and CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Steve, this offer of -- alleged offer of the women to then citizen Trump, would you be more surprised if the Russians hadn't tried to do something like this?

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA SENIOR OFFICER: Yes, frankly, Anderson, I definitely would have been more surprised. This is standard operating procedure for the Russians. You have to remember, in 2013, this is before obviously Trump was a candidate. But nevertheless, he was what the Russians I think would have considered an American oligarch. So somebody from their own world view, somebody with money, somebody with power and somebody who you just never know one day what they're going to end up being.

That normally triggers the very low threshold for the FSB, which is the internal service of the -- the internal Russian intelligence service for the beginning of collecting all sorts of information, anything they can get their hands on or set up that could be used in a compromising situation in the future kompromat.

So, this would have been done -- if it hadn't been Donald Trump, I don't know how many senior American millionaires, billionaires came through Moscow at that time, but they all would have had this type of collection. And it's very aggressive and it's very assertive. And the FSB has been doing it for, you know, since Lenin's time. And so, they're just very good at it and they would have done it as a routine thing.

COOPER: Jeff, I mean, what do you make of the fact that Keith Schiller admitted to this much?

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, actually, I think to be fair this is exculpatory towards Donald Trump.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: I mean, the argument here -- I mean, the dossier said that there was this sorted sexual encounter between Donald Trump and people sent by Russian intelligence. Schiller says, no, didn't happen. Didn't see it. Didn't see anything like it.

He said that there was this offer. But, you know, based on what's publicly available, Schiller is the only version we have, and his version is it didn't happen. And, you know, in the absence of proof to the contrary, I think that's what the state of the evidence is.

COOPER: And also, Jeff, we should point out, Schiller said that he actually stood outside Donald Trump's door after he walked then Mr. Trump up to his room. He stood outside his door for a certain amount of time and then ended up going, the idea being that if somebody had come immediately afterward, he would have known.

TOOBIN: That's right. And, you know, much in the Schiller -- much in the dossier has been proven true, but this is something, this very inflammatory accusation, has not been proven true. And to the extent Schiller knows or is believed, it's been proven untrue, and I think that's just an important part of the story.

COOPER: Phil, I mean, what if anything do you think this says about the dossier itself? Because to Jeff's point, some has been proven to, some the meetings, but obviously, the most salacious stuff, no evidence of it at this point.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. But we have just a bit of the picture here, Anderson. Look at the couple of the pieces of the puzzle we have. The interview with Donald Jr. about the reasons for his meeting with that Russian lawyer and we learned that his initial explanation was incorrect, the fact that the national security adviser for the incoming president lied to the vice president about his conversations with the Russians about sanctions, now contacts with the Russians from the president going back to 2013.

My point, Anderson, is we don't know a lot about the dossier. What we do know is we have just snippets, three or four snapshots of the relationship between Trump people and the Russians going back four or five years. The Trump -- the Mueller team is going to have 50,000 more pieces, like the financial records that implicated Manafort. I think we're seeing the bits and pieces that have led the Mueller team to say this is a significant investigation, but we're seeing maybe 1 percent of what's going on here, Anderson.

COOPER: So whether the allegations are true or not, you say it's connecting the dots on the relationship that were forged during this time that you would be most interested in.

MUDD: That's right.

For example, one simple question you would have is the relationships developed during this exchange going back to 2013. Were any of those relationships continued over the years and were any of those the kinds much people who might have contacted the Trump campaign about information related to Hillary Clinton?

The complexity here and Jeffrey Toobin knows this better than I, but the complexity as an analyst in these cases is you're dealing with dozens of interviews, phone calls, e-mails, some of those interviews will have discrepancies. People either leave stuff out or they lie. You've got to overlay that over four, five, six, seven years.

Boy, that is a really complex timeline and we're just seeing the kinds of bits that the Mueller team has to place on that timeline to determine what happened.

COOPER: Steve, you know, obviously, during the days of the KGB, the Soviet Union, rooms were bugged, and hotel rooms where foreigners stayed. Would that still be the case for somebody like a high profile person like Donald Trump in, you know, Moscow in 2013?

HALL: Oh, yes. Absolutely. I mean, Anderson, the technology has only gotten better, just like the Internet and everything else technological-related has.

[20:10:06] And the basic skill set that the FSB, the Russian intelligence services have to have that is absolutely there and they train it. The resources they put towards this are incredible.

But to Phil's point, if I could, you know, the points of information that we're beginning to see as we pull this whole picture together are indeed critical. And Phil rightly points out that's really an important piece of this. But I would hasten to add that because we still have the salacious part of the Steele dossier unconfirmed, and, by the way, I'm not sure how long Schiller stood outside the door. We don't know what happened the rest of the evening.

COOPER: Right. He did say he left at a certain time.

HALL: Nothing may have happened.

But the bottom line is that you have to remember, the Steele dossier is a bunch of standalone, raw intelligence reports. It is not one tomb that, you know, must be read in its entirety and believed or rejected in its entirety. There's a bunch of individual reports in there, many of which have indeed started to look more and more true.

So, you need to look, I think, at each individual report there and weigh it on its individual merit because it all comes from individual intelligence sources that basically Mr. Steele managed to steal outside and get outside of Russia to contribute to this report. So, it's not a monolithic thing. Parts of it might turn out to be true. Parts of it might also not turn out to be true. You can't discount one for the other.

COOPER: That's an important point.

Jeff, to Pam's reporting on Stephen Miller and this draft letter that he wrote over the firing of James Comey, you said all along this was problematic for the White House.

TOOBIN: Absolutely because, you know, the core of the accusation, to the extent there is an accusation, for obstruction of justice, is that the argument made public that the reason Donald Trump fired James Comey was because he was too mean to Hillary Clinton, that argument, the accusation goes, was bogus, was not true. The real reason he was fired is because he was getting too close to the president on the Russia investigation. And Miller is a central figure in creating the public explanation for why Comey was fired.

So, it's extremely important to determine how that public explanation was put together and whether there is a basis to challenge that or whether it really is does seem like it was the real reason why Comey was fired. But, you know, just because Miller has been interviewed once doesn't mean he's not going to be interviewed again. I mean, these are complicated questions, and these are meticulous investigators.

So, you know, we pay a lot of attention, as we should, when an important person is interviewed, but that doesn't mean that they are done with this person. And, you know, Miller, given how important he is, I would imagine will be back for further interviews.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Phil Mudd, Steve Hall, thank you all. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, two other big breaking stories. U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, staunch defender of the Ten Commandments, now allegedly a child molester. That allegation from a woman who says Moore engaged in a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 years old. Details and reaction on Capitol Hill in a moment.

Also ahead, "The New York Times" reporters who broke the story today of allegations against comedian Louis CK, and at 9:00 p.m. tonight, a CNN special town hall on sexual harassment, "Tipping Point".

Stay with us.


[20:17:04] COOPER: There's breaking news tonight. With repercussions on many fronts up to and including control of the United States Senate, Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, denying allegations first reported in "The Washington Post" that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl that he first approached outside of a courtroom in 1979.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Gadsden, Alabama. He joins us now -- Marty. MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, if this is

true, if these allegations are true, they're truly shocking for a number of reasons. Number one, because, of course, Roy Moore is involved in a very high profile Senate race. We're just weeks away from the ballots there.

And then on top of that, the other issue here is that Roy Moore for a long time has wrapped himself strongly, saying that he believes deeply in conservative and Christian values, which if these stories are true would call that all into question. And this is the courthouse where it all allegedly began.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when she first met Roy Moore. It was 1979, when Moore was an assistant district attorney in Etowah County, Alabama. He was 32 years old at the time.

Corfman was at the courthouse with her mother Nancy for a custody hearing. Even now 38 years later, both women remember Moore introducing himself and offering to sit with Leigh while Nancy attended a hearing. They told their story to "The Washington Post."

Beth Reinhard is one of the reporters who broke this story.

BETH REINHARD, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: The momma said thank you very much for looking after my little girl and left them alone.

SAVIDGE: Corfman told "The Post" Moore made plans to see her a few days after the hearing.

REINHARD: He picked her up around the corner from her house, took her to his house, which is in a very woodsy, rural area about 30 minutes away. Took her into the house. At least twice that occurred and gave her alcohol and on one of the occasions, you know, undressed her, undressed himself and, you know, touched her over her bra and underwear and guided her to touch him over his underwear.

SAVIDGE: Remember, Corfman was 14 years old at the time. She said she was uncomfortable after that incident and asked Moore to take her home. She never reported his behavior to the police.

But she's not the only one with a story about Roy Moore.

Wendy Miller told "The Washington Post" when she was 14, Moore approached her at the mall and told her she was pretty. Two years later, he allegedly started asking her out, but she said no.

Debbie Wesson Gibson told "The Post" she was 17 when she met Moore who was speaking at her high school civics class. They went out for a few dates and Gibson says they only kissed, nothing more.

Gloria Thacker Deason says she was 18 when she met Moore. She says they dated on and off for a few months and that Moore would buy her alcohol even though she was underage. She also says they only hugged and kissed.

All four women tell the "Washington Post" they were initially flattered by his attention, but as they grew older and Moore's prominence in Alabama rose, they found his behavior troubling.

[20:20:04] REINHARD: They see he's running for such a high office, U.S. Senate. They also feel that it's hypocritical of him to be, you know, saying things like homosexuality should be illegal when in their experience he was, you know, looking for teenagers to date at the mall when he was in his 30s.

SAVIDGE: Moore calls "The Post" story, quote, completely false and a desperate political attack. His campaign has called the story fake news and points the paper has endorsed Moore's opponent in the Alabama Senate race. But "The Washington Post" stands by its reporting. And Leigh Corfman told "The Post" she has no political agenda and has voted Republican in the past three presidential elections.

REINHARD: A "Washington Post" reporter was in Alabama doing some reporting on Roy Moore's supporters when these rumors were emerging that he had had relationships with teenage girls. Two of us spent weeks in Alabama pursuing these leads that we got, and as we say in the story, none of the women were eager to go public. They were all off the record when we first spoke to them and it took multiple interviews before they agreed to speak publicly because in the end they felt like they needed to do it.


COOPER: Martin, I mean, Roy Moore certainly is not backing down from these allegations. He has some new tweets tonight. What did he say?

SAVIDGE: No. In fact, let me just read to you some of what he's been putting out to his supporters. The Obama/Clinton machines liberal media lap dogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I'd ever faced.

Another one he says, I believe you and I have the duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil, waging an all-out war on our conservative values.

And then one more: Our children and grandchildren's futures are on the line. So rest assured, I will never give up -- never give up in all caps -- the fight.

I covered Roy Moore for a long time. This is very typical from him. But when you talk to supporters, they say, look, here is a man who has espoused so much his Christian faith. If these accusations are true, they say, as a Christian, he needs to admit that regardless what the political implications may be -- Anderson.

COOPER: The age of consent in Alabama is I believe 16, is that right?

SAVIDGE: Right. Yes. What's troubling here is, of course, he's having a relationship with what appears to be a sexually tinged relationship with a 14-year-old. But then on top of that, there seems to be a pattern that he was drawn at least for some time as a prominent person in the community to very young teenage girls, much younger than he was.

COOPER: Martin Savidge, appreciate it.

Leigh Corfman has just responded. A member of her family issuing the following statement to CNN's Jason Carroll. Quote: I've learned in all my years not to get into a shouting match with someone like Moore.

President Trump has yet to weigh in, although he did tweet this, the day after Moore won the primary, quote: Spoke to Roy Moore of Alabama last night for the first time. Sounds like a really great guy who ran a fantastic race. He will help make America great again.

Now, it's important to note when the president hit send Roy Moore was already a national figure. His supporters see him as a standard bearer for biblical purity. To his critics, he's a purveyor of intolerance.

More now from our Randi Kaye.


ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in the Second Amendment.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Alabama Judge Roy Moore, bold enough to display his gun at a political rally. Just this year the former chief justice of Alabama, who quotes the bible about his often as he does the Constitution, suggested that the September 11th terrorist attacks may have occurred because God was upset at the United States' lack of morality.

MOORE: We distance ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land.

KAYE: Besides the Bible, Moore also likes to quote his own poetry.

MOORE: Babies piled in dumpsters, abortion on demand, oh sweet land of liberty, your house is on the sand.

KAYE: A decade earlier in 2005 during an interview on C-Span, Moore said homosexuality should be illegal, comparing it to bestiality.

MOORE: Just because it's done behind closed doors, it can still be prohibited by state law. Do you know that bestiality, the relationship between man and beast, is prohibited in every state?

KAYE: Years ago, Moore earned the nickname the Ten Commandments Judge for yet another controversy. In 2003, during his tenure as chief justice of Alabama, a federal judge ordered Moore to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments he had installed at the Supreme Court of Alabama. Moore refused and was later removed from office.

(on camera): He was elected to the bench again in 2013, only to be suspended in 2016 for ordering judges to defy federal orders and not issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

[20:25:06] Moore himself once denied a woman in a lesbian relationship custody of her three teenagers, referring to her private behavior as an inherent evil.

(voice-over): Now, the man who promises to restore virtue and morality to this country is having both of those very things of his questioned.

Randi Kaye, CNN New York.


COOPER: Well, when we come back, how congressional Republicans are responding to the bombshell allegations against Roy Moore.


COOPER: The Roy Moore news broke tonight. Senate Republicans were attempting to focus on their just released tax plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate GOP leaders remained silent as reporters at a tax plan photo-op shouted questions about the allegations.

Here is a look at the kind of uncomfortable moment.


REPORTER: Leader McConnell (INAUDIBLE) on the record accusations against Roy Moore, sir?


REPORTER: Leader McConnell, do you believe (INAUDIBLE) on the record accusations against Roy Moore, sir?


COOPER: Just for the record.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP Republicans did say that Moore should step aside if the allegations are true.

Joining me now, CNN congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty for more on the reaction from the Hill.

So, what else are Republicans saying about these allegations?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Republicans up here on Capitol Hill really peppered with questions very quickly about Roy Moore, called this deeply disturbing and horrifying and like he said, the majority of Republicans that we spoke to today had the same course in essence that they believe that he should step aside if these allegations hold up.

Including -- we're hearing that tonight from Senator Ted Cruz, important because he is one of the very few Republican senators who actually endorsed Moore. Senator Cruz tonight saying, "These are serious and troubling allegations. If they are true, Judge Moore should immediately withdraw. However, we need to know the truth and judge Moore has right to respond to these allegations.

And some even, there are stronger words from Senator John McCain, he was one of the very few up here that said, look, we don't need any proof, these allegations, he says, are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. McCain saying in statement, "He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of."

Meantime, we also heard from the number two Senate Republican, John Thune, today, and he said, look, we're basically looking into the laws and what the laws on the books allow for in Alabama when it come to replacing a candidate. But of course, this is as Judge Moore is digging in tonight. Anderson.

COOPER: And I mean, some Roy Moore has obviously been posing difficulties for members of Congress particularly since he won his primary back in September?

SERFATY: That's right. He has -- he certainly has not been embraced by those establishment Republicans up here on the Hill. They have literally been running away from questions for months about what they think about his more controversial past and certainly these allegations do not add anything else for them. There's certainly one other thing for them to have to respond to.

He was up on Capitol Hill in last week, launching something of a charm offensive, meeting with Senate Republicans. He appeared at the Republican caucus luncheon just in the last few weeks and he told Republicans in the room, look, I think I can win. He is trying to woo people to get on his side, but either the very establishment Republicans that he really has run his candidacy against.

I talked with one Republican out of that meeting, a senator, and he said, I asked him twice, what do you think of Roy Moore? Will you be in support of him given that he is the nominee this race twice? The senator said, I don't know him I need to know him better. So that was a big none answer.

COOPER: Sunlen, I appreciate that.

Joining me now, Dana Bash, CNN'S Chief Political Correspondent, David Gergen, former Advisor of Four Presidents, and Scott Jennings, former Special Assistance to President George W. Bush.

Dana, I mean, what happens now? I mean, Roy Moore is obviously defiant, saying he will absolutely not step aside. Can he be replaced by Republicans?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The Alabama Republican Party can remove him from being a candidate. He can't be removed from the ballot at this point. The absentee ballots have already gone out and that sort of -- that is set in stone. If the Alabama Republican Party decides to remove him, then that would mean that if anybody actually does checks the box for him, then it wouldn't be counted.

But it's really unclear at this point, if that's going to happen, particularly because as you mentioned, Roy Moore is so incredibly defiant. But, I think, you have to remember that you mentioned this and you showed that very, very awkward moment of the Senate Majority Leader being asked about this. Roy Moore being told by Mitch McConnell or anybody else in Washington we don't want to you come here if this is true means nothing. Because they didn't want him to come in the first place and it was controversial, as Sunlen was just talking, even after he won the Republican primary. So, him, being defiant is just kind of par for the course no matter what allegations.

COOPER: David, I mean the calls for Moore to step aside by number of Republicans came with the same caveat, if it's true. The allegations they all happens in 35 to 40 years ago, so there's a likely end up being their word against his. So I mean, the Republican claims both sides.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Anderson, this is becoming a nightmare for Republicans, especially if it drags on. There's no way he can prove his innocence. There is probably no way the "Washington Post" or women can prove his guilty. And so it's a he said, she said kind of situation.

But it does mean that if he continues to stand, the chances of a Democrats picking up that seat go up considerably. And what would that mean? This vote is December 12th, the person who wins is then sworn in to the Senate quickly. You could have a new Democratic senator in midst of a tax battle when the Republicans need every vote they've got. They could lose a crucial vote.

[20:35:05] If Moore stays in there, it's going to really hurt the Republican brand across the country, maybe not in Alabama but across the country. The best thing that could happen from Republican standpoint is for Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon of all people, to stand up and say this is important for the party. We believe you Roy, but for the good of the party --

BASH: It's not going to happen.

GERGEN: You can say, I never did this, but for the good of the party I'm stepping aside.

BASH: It's not going to happen.

COOPER: Scott, do you agree with that?

SCOTT JENNING, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It could may not. But let me tell you, one other thing about. There is somebody waiting in the wings, you know, who might be willing to run if they work it out. There is Jeff Sessions. Maybe he'd like to get out of the Justice Department and go back where he was really comfortable.

BASH: Wouldn't that be a twist?

COOPER: Scott, how do you see that? GERGEN: Yes, wouldn't that be a twist.

JENNING: I totally agree with Mr. Gergen. I think this is a lot about Steve Bannon. I mean, look, he right now is making the argument to Donald Trump, his former boss, and to the Republican Party that he and he alone should be able to vet and choose the Republican nominees for the United States Senate in 2018. This was his first project and it is tonight blown up on the Republican Party.

So what he does tonight to me is going to tell us a lot about how the Republicans are going to deal with this. I agree with Mitch McConnell. I agree with Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel of the RNC that he should step aside if allegations have even a shred of truth to them. As Mr. Gergen said, no one is going to be able to prove it, one way or the other.

But for the Republican Party, I would urge everyone to not look at this through the tribalism that we look at everything through right now. Look at it through the question that Jonah Goldberg tonight at National Review.

Is it worth saving a candidacy like Roy Moores over fighting out an issue like this? No, it's not worth that. And if I were Donald Trump, I'd be looking at it through this lens. Is fighting it out over this candidacy worth sacrificing my agenda? We need a Republican in the Unites States Senate, someone who can win. And that's the question in this race and all the races in 2018. Donald Trump has to have a Republican conservative Senate to enact policies. Roy Moore puts that in jeopardy, it's not worth saving.

COOPER: But Dana, isn't a very possible that, I mean, clearly Roy Moore is trying to rally this as -- this is liberal media or the Obama/Clinton nexus trying to bring him down, Democrats trying to bring him down, liberals trying to bring him down, and I guess the media trying to bring him down. Is it possible this will rally his supporters and make them more fervent in getting out vote? I mean, their allegations made against candidate Trump and, you know, didn't have an impact.

BASH: No, that's a really good point. The and the answer is maybe, but when you're talking about if it were the primary again, and if we hadn't had the primary vote then, it was Republican versus Republican, the answer may have been yes. And although you don't really see a lot of Democrats coming out of Alabama in last 20 plus years, this is a general election. And I think it could just have the opposite effect to rally Democrats who don't actually vote or Republicans who don't like this guy to vote against him.

The other thing I just want to say that, my signals tonight from Bannon world is don't hold your breath that he is going to say, you know what, for the good of the party, I think that Roy Moore should back down.

Remember, slightly different but it's the same kind of atmospherics. He was the guy -- one of the only guys in Trump Tower the night the "Access Hollywood" tape came out who said fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight. When a lot of others people said, you know what, this is terrible for the party, it's terrible for the country, you're going to lose. Back out.

COOPER: David, I mean, you know, one thing that struck me is just how quickly Senate Republicans came out and condemn Moore today. What does that tell you about where their collective heads are at?

GERGEN: Well, Anderson, that's an interesting question of course. I think couple of things influenced the rapidity once wish they responded. One was Tuesday night and the election results, and them recognizing they've got to appeal more to the middle in order to hold the House and the Senate, but secondly, this wave upon wave of accusations against men who have been toppled from very powerful positions.

You know, I think has created a sense that all of these guys do it. And so, I think he starts out, Roy Moore starts out with people almost automatically imagining, oh, yes, I bet he did that.

COOPER: Dana Bash --

GERGEN: And that's why, I think put the pressure on the Republicans to move. I think they recognized that the context has changed a lot.

COOPER: Yes --

JENNING: Yes, I would just say, we live as Republican Party through candidacies like this in 2010 and 2012 but tonight we're well beyond someone claiming they're a witch, like Christine O'Donnell or even Todd Akin, or even, you know, some of the other candidates that came along and failed. We're well beyond that. Tribalism can't prevail, but if you want a Republican Majority enacting the President's agenda, you have to have candidates that can win, candidates that have these problems. I'm telling you are not going to win and it's bad for the overall prospect of the President being able to enacting agenda. That's were Republicans have to be.

[20:40:05] COOPER: Scott, I appreciate it, David Gergen, Dana Bash as well.

Up next, the neighbor accused of assaulting Senator Rand Paul and giving him six broken ribs goes to court. The mysteries surrounding the incident seems to just deepening. Was it really just about lawn clippings? Details, ahead.


REGAN: In Bowling Green, Kentucky today, the neighbor accused of attacking Rand Paul was in court, Rene Boucher that's his mug shot there on the left of your screen, allegedly tackled Paul while Paul mowed his lawn.

The Senator was rush to the hospital with six broken ribs and other injuries. Now, here's a look at where the two men live, six days after the incident, there are still a lot of questions about what sparked the dispute between the neighbors. Drew Griffin, our senior investigator correspondent is looking for answers joins me tonight. Drew, what happened in court today?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATION CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Rene Boucher, Senator Paul's neighbor of 17 years was arraigned. He appeared before the judge, he pled not guilty and was given a pretrial date about a month out from now. But there is no doubt he did this, that he actually attacked Senator Rand Paul while Rand Paul was mowing his lawn, that he broke six of his ribs and caused all this pain. Through his attorney he says he is very remorseful about this, very out of character and said, it's stems from really a minor dispute between two neighbors who have this kind of long-standing feud over their shared lawn as simple as that sounds.

[20:45:20] COOPER: What is the Senator saying about this?

GRIFFIN: You know, that's what kind of odd. The Senator is not saying much, he convalescing at home, he is not speaking in front of cameras, he is tweeting about his condition but he is also retweeting a couple of conservative news articles that raise the specter that this was some kind of a political attack by his Democratic neighbor on him.

And he is pushing back through spokesman the idea that this has anything to do with a long-standing dispute between neighbors. In fact, his spokesperson put out the statement today, Anderson. I want to read it.

It says, "As to reports of a longstanding dispute with his attacker, the Pauls have had no conversations with him in many years. The first conversation with the attacker came after Senator Paul's ribs were broken, that was not a fight, it was a blindside, violent tack by disturbed person."

These guys, I have lived next to each other for 17 years, they haven't apparently talked in long time, many, many years. I read part of that statement to Rene Boucher's attorney Matt Baker. And this is what Matt Baker had to say about what happened.


MATT BAKER, ATTORNEY FOR RENE BOUCHER: This has absolutely nothing to do with any politics. They had not spoken to each other in years. But I still think that you're going to have -- I'm certain that you can have a personal dispute without having spoken.

GRIFFIN: Neither side is willing to say what exactly this was about or what the dispute was. Will you? Will you tell us this was over? Lawn care item or how lawns were taken care of?

BAKER: That's basically it, it's a -- it has to do with the maintenance of each other's property and the disagreement that two neighbors -- two adjoining neighbors have had over that.


GRIFFIN: It sounds like a simple matter but it's a very serious situation based on the injuries, the charges could actually be elevated. Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, it's really seems like there are still some pretty sizable pieces of the puzzle of what actually happened missing here?

GRIFFIN: There's a lot of strange things. They've lived next to each other now for 17 years. And by Paul's own account through his spokesperson today, they haven't spoken in many, many years. That seems rather odd.

We know that the Capitol Hill police came to Bowling Green, Kentucky. They interviewed Mr. Boucher about this. They are trying to determine if there was political motivation involved. The FBI is also asking about this. So we are just waiting to see what kind of investigation will come forward from the Feds. But right now this remains a local criminal misdemeanor manner in the State of Kentucky. Anderson.

COOPER: Drew Griffin. Drew, thanks.

When we come back, breaking news, more allegations of sexual misconduct, this time the focus is on Comedian Louis C.K. We'll get into the allegations by five women, plus here from the "New York Times" reporters who broke the story next.


[20:52:28] COOPER: Well, it started a national conversation on the top of the hour. It is the focus of the CNN Town Hall hosted by Alisyn Camerota, "Tipping Point: sexual harassment in America."

Meanwhile, tonight "The New York Times" has published the accounts of a number of women who have come forward with allegations against Comedian Louis C.K. I talked to the reporters who broke the story in just a moment. But first, here's CNN'S Tom Foreman.


LOUIS C.K., COMEDIAN: Are you having a good time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it OK, if I stay here a few more days?

C.K.: Let me think about in a more updated (ph), OK?


C.K.: I love you, too.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even in the best of time. "I love you daddy" might be controversial. The movie about a divorced man --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that your girlfriend?

C.K.: Oh, gosh. No, that's my daughter, China (ph).


FOREMAN: Whose teenage daughter starts dating a much older film director.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't that weird?

C.K.: No, it's not that weird. He likes young girls.


FOREMAN: China (ph), but now, the premier and a promotional appearance on "The Late Show" have been canceled after a New York Times report that the film's star and director exposed and fondled himself in front of women in several incidents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, sexual perversion is a problem. You can't stop it. People got to do what they got to do and --

FOREMAN: It's the kind of behavior Louis C.K. frequently jokes about in his stand of act.

C.K.: I'm getting kind of a rapey vibe from this girl. I don't know. You think I'm going to rape you in the off chance that hopefully you're into that?

FOREMAN: Indeed, the comedian has built a T.V. show, an army of fans and a reputation as a comedy ground breaker with his source talk about sensitive matters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China (ph) is a minor.


FOREMAN: But the accuser's names by the time are saying his jokes about sexual misconduct aren't just fiction. In numerous instances, they say they were invited to private places, such as hotel rooms, where he stripped off and masturbated in front of them. Then they say they felt pressured to keep quiet and act nothing was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, everybody is a pervert. I'm a pervert. Pervert, it's OK.


FOREMAN: CNN has not independently confirmed any of these allegations. We have reached out to Louis C.K. for any comment. We have heard nothing yet, and his publicist told the "The New York Times" the comedian will not answer any questions. Anderson?

COOPER: Tom Foreman. Tom, thanks.

Joining me now, the two New York Times reporters who broke the story along with Jodi Kantor, Melena Ryzik and Cara Buckley.

Melena, the two female comedians who -- you start off your report with, can you just explain actually transpired?

[20:55:07] MELENA RYZIK, CULTURE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, these two women, Dana Goodman and Julia Wolov where Aspen for a big comedy festival. It was a big break for them. They are performing there. And after their show, on night Louis C.K. comedian they admired invited them to hang out in him in his hotel room. It was kind of a normal thing to do. You know, the bars were closed, they wanted to celebrate. And so they joined him. They didn't think anything untoward might happen. And when they got there, they still were in their coats and hats. They didn't even take any of their winter clothing off and he immediately said -- he asked them if he could take his penis out. And before they realized what could happen and they thought it was joke, they laughed it off. And before they realize that he was -- he did that. He took all his clothes off and started masturbating. And they were in shock.

COOPER: In front of them.

RYZIK: Yes. They were totally in shock. He did in front of them.

COOPER: And this is not -- I mean, according to your reporting Cara, there are other people who -- other women who -- this seems to be a pattern?

CARA BUCKLEY, CULTURE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Certainly our reporting showed that we talked to a number of other women who said that either Louis had asked if he could masturbate in front of them or they were on the phone with them talking about -- one woman called him up to invite him to her comedy -- to her show. And she realized he was steering the conversation into private territory and then he realized soon that he was masturbating on the phone. Another woman we talked with said, when he was working on "The Chris Rock Show" and he was too, he asked if he could masturbate in front of her in the office.

COOPER: In the office?

BUCKLEY: In the office. Correct, yes.

COOPER: And was there -- there was an apology -- he made two apologies. Was it to the two comedians from Aspen?

RYZIK: You know, he made a couple of apologies to women that --

COOPER: Years later?

RYZIK: Yes, years later that this happened. He spoke to -- he sent messages to one woman, the woman who he talked to on the phone and he said to her in a Facebook message that he wanted to apologize to her for that phone call, which he said ended in a sordid fashion. And to another woman he called and said that he owed her a very late apology. In her case, that was ten years after he asked her on the set of a T.V. pilot if he could masturbate in front of her.

COOPER: Did any of these women feel that this had ramifications on their careers? Because Louis C.K. understands that -- according to your reporting -- I mean, has a very powerful what a manager or agent who represents Kevin Hart and others?

RYZIK: Yes. He is powerful in and of himself Louis as a performer and he has really powerful people behind him. And yes, several women that we spoke to said that they feared that talking about this might have repercussions for their careers. Even having any interactions with him in the form of the apology, they felt uncomfortable that this might come back to haunt them.

BUCKLEY: And in the case of the two women at the Aspen hotel who Louis masturbated in front of, you know, they heard -- they began telling everyone that they met afterwards. They were no shock, they thought, do we go to the police, we're not sure. There has to be something we can do, can we generate outrage, can we generate shame? And they began telling people. And then they soon heard that Louis C.K.'s manager was very angry that they were doing so. And they were new to the comedy scene. They were about to move to Los Angeles. This was a big player there and they felt like, we've angered this person, we can't possibly, you know, submit our material to his shows. But for many, it was the very -- Louis C.K.'s manager is very -- he represents some very top people.

RYZIK: Yes, they felt like they were arriving into a scene with a lot of enemies.

COOPER: And my understanding, according to your reporting is that even some of the people they told, some of the men they told seemed to kind of have a negative reaction?

RYZIK: Well, Louis C.K. has a real stature in the comedy world. I mean, he is a comedian that is revered by other comedians. He's ground breaking. His comedy is very funny. And when they were having that experience and sharing their story with what happened to them in that hotel room, they said that people were backing away as if it was dangerous to even hear that story.

COOPER: He is also -- I mean, uses -- has talked about this in his act, hasn't he?

BUCKLEY: He routinely talks about it. He -- and that's one of the thing that some people felt like he was using this comedy almost as a mask for what perhaps, you know, real life misconduct. He jokes extensively about his impulses, as we've seen about masturbating in his new film, there's a scene where a character mimics aggressive masturbation at length. So --

RYZIK: In front of other people.

BUCKLEY: In front of other people. So it does seem to be something -- it's just -- he traffics in it in his comedy.

COOPER: It's just such a -- there was the incident with Harvey Weinstein allegedly doing this in front of a female reporter in a restaurant in a hallway. But it's such an odd thing that he would talk about it openly in his act. One of the apologies, didn't he say something about, I was going through a difficult time?

BUCKLEY: Yes, that was one of the women who he -- the woman who he spoke with when he was speaking with her on the phone, he masturbated. He said I was going through a dark time. I was going through a tough time. I apologize for it. And it seems, you know, from those messages that he was saying it's behind me now. But, of course, we don't know if that's true.


RYZIK: Because Louis decided not to comment for our story.

COOPER: Cara Buckley, appreciate it, and Melena Ryzik, thanks very much.

RYZIK: Thank you.

COOPER: Incredible reporting from the New York Times.

[21:00:05] thanks again for watching 360. The CNN Town Hall, "Tipping Point: Sexual Harassment in America" starts now.