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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Report: Trump Jr., WikiLeaks Exchanged Private Messages During 2016 Presidential Campaign; Interview with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 13, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight with breaking news on Russia during the campaign involving the president's son. According to new reporting in "The Atlantic Magazine", three full weeks before running mate Mike Pence denied the campaign was, quote, in cahoots with WikiLeaks, Donald Trump Jr. was absolutely in touch with, you guessed it, WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks, as you'll recall, is the organization the U.S. intelligence community believes was chosen by the Kremlin to spread hack information damaging to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
What is so fascinating is how the communications in the form of Twitter direct messages meshed with certain points on the campaign timeline that we already know quite well. For instance, October 2nd, Trump friend and former adviser Roger Stone tweets that damaging material is coming from WikiLeaks. The next day, October 3rd, Trump Jr. messages them, and asks them what's coming. On the 5th, Stone says there's a payload coming from WikiLeaks. On the 7th , the U.S. intelligence community says it believes Russia was behind the DNC hacks and WikiLeaks begins releasing the hacked DNC Podesta emails.
A month later, the 12th of October, WikiLeaks messages Trump Jr., asking him to link to one of their items. Two days later, he tweets it out. And on that same day, the 14th, Mike Pence denies any collusion with WikiLeaks. It is to say at the least fascinating and not just to us. Congressional investigators are also of interest.
In a moment, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, but first, CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown with more details.
So, explain -- I mean, just the sheer length of this communication went on is stunning, Pam.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is stunning. We should note that a lot of it was one-sided from WikiLeaks. But there were responses in some cases from Don Jr. He actually released the string of messages tonight on Twitter that he had with WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign, Anderson. And this follows a report in "The Atlantic" about those exchanges.
So, let's walk through them. In September of last year, we know that the fist message came. It was late September 2016 where WikiLeaks told him, quote, a PAC run anti-Trump site PutinTrump.org is about to launch. And then it went to provide details about who is behind it. Don Jr. responded off the record, I don't know who that is, but I'll ask around. Thanks.
And according to "The Atlantic", he did ask around by reaching out to members of the campaign, including Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, telling them WikiLeaks had reached out. It's unclear, though, in what context he was saying that, but Kushner reportedly forwarded that e- mail on to Hope Hicks. In a separate exchange, Anderson, Don Jr. reached out October 3rd asking WikiLeaks what all the fuss was about regarding the impending WikiLeaks release that Roger Stone had tweeted about at the time he was hinting at this release.
And WikiLeaks didn't respond just then. But four days later, it did release John Podesta's e-mails on the same day the U.S. intelligence community condemned Russia for using WikiLeaks to release stolen e- mails. Even after that, WikiLeaks reached out again, suggesting Don Jr. tweet out a link to his followers to more easily search the released Podesta e-mails. Don Jr. didn't respond to that message, but he did tweet out that link two days later, Anderson.
COOPER: And I think in that very day that he got that direct message from WikiLeaks asking him to tweet out the link, he actually said something about the story saying it doesn't get enough attention and then two days later he actually tweeted out the link. What do we know about WikiLeaks during this -- I mean, what do we know about WikiLeaks during this time period?
BROWN: Well, I can tell you a couple of things. That same day that Don Jr. tweeted out the link provided to him by WikiLeaks, Mike Pence, of course, Trump's running mate, said on Fox News the campaign was not in cahoots with WikiLeaks. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOST: One other question, final question, about WikiLeaks, and that is some have suggested on the left, all this bad stuff about Hillary, nothing bad about Trump, that your campaign is in cahoots with WikiLeaks.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing could be further from the truth. I think all of us have had concerns about WikiLeaks over the years, and it's just a reality of America life today and of life in the wider world. But it doesn't change the fact that here you see the national media chasing after unsubstantiated allegations, allegations that Donald Trump has categorically denied.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And again, this was the same day that Don Jr. tweeted out a link given to him by WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks continued to reach out through July of this year, but Don Jr. did not respond to those messages -- Anderson.
COOPER: And I know Donald Trump Jr. released these direct message exchange tonight after "The Atlantic" story broke. Any more reaction from him or his legal team?
BROWN: Yes. So, his legal team has given us a statement, his attorney, Alan Futerfas, says we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum. A source familiar with this matter also tells us, Anderson, that Don Jr. did tell Congress about the WikiLeaks communications. There was a brief exchange. You'll recall he had a closed door interview with the Judiciary Committee awhile back and during that closed door meeting. This was brought up, but I'm told that it was a very brief exchange, brief line of questioning regarding this matter, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Pam Brown, appreciate that.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling for the Senate Judiciary Committee now to immediately subpoena Donald Trump Jr. He wants the president's son to publicly testify about the extent of these communications.
Senator Blumenthal joins me now.
So, Senator, Trump Jr.'s attorney says this is much ado about nothing, that this information has already been provided to Congress and they're not worried about it. What specifically do you want to know?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: What I want to know is the full range and content of all the communications that took place. What we see here likely is just the tip of the iceberg. There's no assurance that it is all of the communications between Donald Trump Jr. and the WikiLeaks, which, by the way, is characterized by the CIA director, President Trump's own CIA director, as a hostile intelligence service abetted by the Russians.
So, here was Donald Trump, Jr. actively engaged with a known Russian agent. I want him to be subpoenaed to testify in public about all his communications. I want there to be subpoenas of all the relevant documents because there's no assurance, none whatsoever that we're seeing all of those documents without that kind of subpoena.
COOPER: Do you believe it's possible then-candidate Donald Trump Sr. did not know his son was communicating with WikiLeaks? I mean, October 12th, the same day WikiLeaks asked Trump Jr. to tweet about its latest release, Trump Sr. tweeted that WikiLeaks wasn't getting enough attention.
BLUMENTHAL: One of the very striking aspects of these communications is the casual, almost intimate air and tone of them. And also the fact that Donald Trump Jr. was in fact communicating up the chain of the Trump campaign organization, including very likely to his father, the candidate.
So, directly answering the question: there is so much circumstantial evidence here that the president, now president was in fact knowledgeable about these communications.
COOPER: Also, as you know, on October 14th, the same day that Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that link, that WikiLeaks asked him to tweet, then vice presidential candidate Mike Pence denied the candidate -- the campaign was in cahoots, which is the word the FOX News anchor had used, with WikiLeaks. Do you want to hear from the vice president directly on this?
BLUMENTHAL: Not only from the vice president, but from the president himself. There ought to be an explanation from the president about whether he was knowledgeable about his own son actively engaged with WikiLeaks. There seems to be no reasonable, innocent explanation for these communications. And the Trump administration owes the American people a full explanation.
COOPER: We just actually -- I just received -- this is a statement from Liz Landers from vice president -- the Vice President Pence's press secretary, excuse me, Alyssa Farah. She says, quote, the vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks. He fist learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight.
What do you make of that?
BLUMENTHAL: These revelations and reports, Anderson, are stunning. They're jaw dropping. And it may be fine under normal circumstance for a spokesperson to say the vice president or any other official has no knowledge. That explanation should be provided by the vice president himself and without any disrespect, in my view, relevant officials of the Trump administration should provide that kind of explanation in public and under oath to the Judiciary Committee.
My hope is now that Chairman Grassley, who has indicated he wants to get to the bottom of these issues, will in fact issue subpoenas for Donald Trump Jr., for Jared Kushner and for other relevant witnesses. And there is a pattern here.
COOPER: The --
BLUMENTHAL: George Papadopoulos and his plea agreement is part of that pattern.
COOPER: "The Atlantic" article only notes two incidences that Donald Trump Jr. actually replying to WikiLeaks, at least via Twitter direct message. Does that undercut at all the idea that this was part of something larger? I mean, if he only responded twice?
BLUMENTHAL: Great question. And it reinforces my point that we may be seeing here only the tip of the iceberg. What we've seen is some of the responses. We know that there were in fact responses in action. That is tweeting in response to it.
But we may be seeing only the very tip of what was going on.
COOPER: Would any of this communication in your view have broken any laws, however?
[20:10:03] BLUMENTHAL: Another great question. In and of itself, each of these tweets, maybe the full range of what's in "The Atlantic" report may not violate any law, but it is more pieces of a mosaic. Each piece itself perhaps explainable, but together with the George Papadopoulos plea agreement and its communication or its indication of communications with the Russians, again, communicated up the chain of command, the June 9th meeting involving known -- now known Russian agents, all of it coming together and more likely to be revealed.
COOPER: Does it seem also just monumentally either naive or just stupid that Donald Trump Jr. would communicate via direct message with a Twitter account he has no idea who is actually operating that Twitter account, who from WikiLeaks? Is it Julian Assange who is doing it? Is it somebody else? And he's telling them this is off the record.
That just seems -- I mean, I don't know how to describe that.
BLUMENTHAL: Imprudent and unwise is a good way to characterize it. Certainly, uncharacteristic of a sophisticated business person or a campaign official. And whether it's illegal is another question. And you've asked it. That's the question that is no doubt on the mind of the special counsel.
It should be on the minds of the judiciary committee, which should subpoena these documents because we have an obligation to protect the FBI and the Department of Justice from political interference as we seek to know what the full extent is and was of the Russian meddling and possible Trump campaign collusion. That is the evidence and the evidentiary value of these communications, collusion and what exactly it shows about it.
COOPER: And finally, these are now two instances with Donald Trump Jr. where it would be very easy, and we don't know whether this happened or not, but it would be hard to believe really that he did not at some point tell his father, oh you know what? I'm in direct communication with WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks is making these suggestions to me just as when he has this meeting with a lawyer who is supposedly representing the Kremlin with dirt on Hillary Clinton, the idea that he never told his father about that meeting, it just -- that's now two instances where the idea that Donald Trump Jr., who is knowingly communicating with somebody he has no idea who they are and suggesting that their conversation is off the record would not tell his father or would keep it from his father.
Again, we don't know that there's evidence that he did, but it's highly questionable.
BLUMENTHAL: There seems to be no reasonable innocent explanation for these communications, and there seems to be no circumstantial evidence to say he didn't communicate with his father. In fact, on the opposite side, his father drafted a statement for him to explain the June 9th meeting while on Air Force One. And we know also that his father tweeted seemingly in response to these communications. But again, the pieces of mosaic are coming together.
COOPER: Yes. And he sent out an e-mail to, apparently, according to "The Atlantic", to Bannon, to, you know, Kellyanne Conway, to Hope Hicks, oh, I'm in communication with WikiLeaks.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, appreciate you being on tonight.
Up next, reaction to all this from the former director of national intelligence, retired Lieutenant General James Clapper. Also ahead tonight, our breaking news, another woman comes forward accusing Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual conduct, saying he assaulted her when she was 16. What she told reporters today in her own words and Mr. Moore's reaction when we continue.
[20:17:35] COOPER: The breaking news tonight, in communication between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks during the campaign comes after two solid days of controversy over what President Trump said over the weekend about Russian meddling. Saturday, he appeared to side with Vladimir Putin on the subject and called key intelligence officials at the time political hacks. Yesterday he walked back his remarks somewhat saying he believed that Putin believed there was no meddling and he said he's got no issue now with the intelligence community leaders as it is presently run.
I want to get reaction to all of this from one of those people that the president described as alleged political hack, someone we know is the former director of national intelligence and CNN national security analyst, James Clapper.
Director Clapper, thanks for being with us.
First of all, on this WikiLeaks story, I just have to ask, were you aware of any of this when you were director of national intelligence?
LT. GEN. JAMES CLAPPER (RET.), FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: No, I was not. I mean, we knew about the connection with -- between the Russians and WikiLeaks, although weren't sure, at least I wasn't, whether that was a witting or unwitting relationship. In other words, whether the Russians were just using WikiLeaks as a cut-out or whether there was actually an overt relationship. And I didn't know that at the time.
You know, the thing about all this, Anderson, for me is, you know, you run out of adjectives to describe the daily revelations that come out. And this is another startling one that's incredible and all that sort of thing. And, you know, you have to sort of step back and think about the big picture here, about why on earth the Trump camp was engaging with the Russians at all and now WikiLeaks, which as others have recited, Director Mike Pompeo's characterization of WikiLeaks as a non-nation state hostile intelligence service, which I completely agree with. That's exactly what it is.
So, why on earth would there be any contact? What earthly reason would there be that was positive for any of these contacts, whether Russians, WikiLeaks or anything else.
COOPER: Also, doesn't it seem just incredibly irresponsible for Donald Trump Jr. to be communicating with somebody he has no idea who it is on the other side of a direct message and then suggesting that a conversation is -- this is off the record between you and me, you know, me and you, this anonymous person I have no idea who they are?
[20:20:02] CLAPPER: Yes. It is really -- using an over worked here, incredible, that the lack of concern about security. And it makes me wonder whether they were really taking themselves seriously, whether this is really a serious campaign, they really thought they could win it because of the cavalier manner in which a lot of these communications went on. And, of course, as we all know, e-mails are forever. And so, it appears to me that weren't too careful about the audit trail here of communications with some questionable characters.
COOPER: It's also amazing, I mean, according to "The Atlantic", October 12th, WikiLeaks reaches out to Donald Trump Jr. -- thanking for his father saying something nice about WikiLeaks when the president -- when the candidate had earlier said, I love WikiLeaks, suggesting that his dad tweet out a link to WikiLeaks. Fifteen minutes -- Donald Trump Jr. doesn't respond, but 15 minutes later from the time that this message is received, Donald Trump himself tweets out very little pick up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks, so dishonest, rigged system.
And then two days later, Trump Jr. does in fact tweet out the link that WikiLeaks has asked him to tweet out.
CLAPPER: Yes. Well, the plot thickens here, you know --
COOPER: That's either a huge coincidence or somebody talked to candidate Trump about it.
CLAPPER: Well, I think it unlikely that it's coincidental. And I do think that will, again, whatever met for you want to use, piece of the puzzle, tile of the mosaic, whatever, is that -- and I am sure special counsel Mueller is doing this is to do a very detailed, meticulous reconstruction of the sequence of all these events, these communications and then in turn what was said publicly.
But, again, it's -- you know, the pitfall here, I think, is getting into the weeds of each of these startling revelations on a day-to-day basis and kind of losing sight of the bigger picture here.
COOPER: Just how bizarre and inappropriate. I mean, does this qualify as collusion to you? Not with Russia per se, but with WikiLeaks.
CLAPPER: Well, as I've said before, I'm not an attorney and I don't know what constitutes collusion. And I'm not even sure that's a legal -- that's an offense.
COOPER: Right. It's not.
CLAPPER: It certainly has the appearance and smell and feel of a developing conspiracy.
COOPER: Director Clapper, appreciate your time. Thank you.
More on the legal and political implications next with our panel of experts. We'll be right back.
[20:26:26] COOPER: Well, more on our breaking news of secret communications between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
Democratic senators are calling for a subpoena for Donald Trump Jr. to publicly testify about the extent of their messages.
Joining me now to discuss, CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, Steve Hall, retired CIA chief of Russia operations, Phil Mudd, former CIA counterterrorism official and former FBI senior intelligence adviser. Also, David Frum, senior editor of "The Atlantic".
Jeff, I mean, the fact that Donald Trump Jr. is basically acting on the advice of WikiLeaks at times, it's certainly incredible. Is it unlawful?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It may be. You know, we're getting a lot closer to an actual violation of the law with this evidence. For example, it's illegal for a campaign to solicit or receive campaign contributions from a foreign individual or a foreign company.
Now, that campaign contribution can be cash or it can be an in-kind contribution, anything of value. Here you have at least suggestive evidence that the Trump campaign is soliciting and receiving information from -- which has value. This is opposition research. And opposition research campaigns pay for all the time.
The fact that the campaign seems in active coordination with this non- American entity, WikiLeaks, certainly suggests the possibility of at least a criminal investigation if not an actual crime.
COOPER: And, Phil, according to "The Atlantic", I mean, Donald Trump Jr. then sends an e-mail to, you know, the other top people in the campaign saying, hey, I'm in touch with WikiLeaks. Jared Kushner forwards that e-mail to Hope Hicks.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. One of the things you've got to look at here, Anderson, is we're just talking about one avenue. That is what Don Jr. looked at. You've got to look at this as an investigation as a multiplication table.
So, as you said there's multiple people now he's communicating with related to his exchange with WikiLeaks. I want to know every phone, e-mail, Twitter contact between anybody in the campaign, including Don Jr. and WikiLeaks. And then you have a second question, that is during the interviews of all these individuals, what do they say about those exchanges with WikiLeaks and do they talk about whether there were conversations within the campaign.
There's one other question I can't answer, Anderson, and that's a technical question. I'd be going to Twitter to say, what's your recordkeeping? Can you give us, if I'm Director Mueller, the special counsel, can you give us all the information related to these individuals and any contact with any WikiLeaks-related account. So, this really makes the -- gives you a picture of why these investigations are so complicated.
COOPER: Steve, I keep trying to think about this from the perspective of Russian intelligence, you know, learning over the course of time, beyond what the hacking was, but that all these people in the Trump campaign, you know, Carter Page, Papadopoulos, Mike Flynn, seem willing or open to at least communication.
STEVE HALL, RETIRED CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Yes, Anderson. What you're beginning to see now from the counterintelligence perspective is these dots that are beginning to be connected. We're seeing more and more of the actual influence campaign that the Russian intelligence services were waging. And I think it's quite clear now that they were targeting pretty heavily Donald Trump Jr.
You know, we saw it with the Veselnitskaya meeting where he met with the Russian lawyer after expressing any great interest in any derogatory information, he might have, or the lawyer might have on Hillary Clinton. And now, we're seeing it again through another Russian cut out. Remember, the Russian lawyer was the cut out the first time. And this time, it's WikiLeaks. And so, we see the willingness of them to do it.
One of the interesting things about running these corporate actions and these corporate influence programs is, you know your supervisors, your bosses also want to know are they effective? How can we tell that we really changing people's minds? Well, I can tell you if WikiLeaks sent something to Donald Trump Jr. and 15 minutes later that same theme, that same message comes out of Donald Trump Sr., the candidate's mouth that's a pretty good indication that you have really good impact with your operation and it should be successful.
And, by the way, you might say that somebody like Papadopoulos is, you know, some, you know, volunteer or some part-time guy, Donald Trump Jr. is not a part time son, he's not a paid son, he's a member of the family, which would make him that much more valuable to the Russian intelligence service.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And David, I mean, the other thing is, if, you know, adjust to Steve's point, Donald Trump Sr. says something 15 minutes after Donald Trump Jr. receive this e-mail from WikiLeaks, this direct message from WikiLeaks saying, oh, you know, your dad should tweet this stuff out.
If it took 15 minutes, and we don't know if Donald Trump Jr. did talk to Donald Trump Sr., but it certainly raises a lot of question, and seems very -- much like a huge coincidence if he didn't. But if he was willing to talk to his dad based on that, the idea that he didn't talk to his dad based on this meeting he had when a Russian lawyer allegedly from the Kremlin told him they have dirt on Hillary Clinton and that the Kremlin is supporting his dad's campaign, that seems hard to believe that he didn't -- wouldn't have talk to his dad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This -- circle to influence you're describing, cast a very -- on the very first question you ask in this interview, Jeffrey Toobin's answer. To the question, are any law is broken? It is illegal for an American to solicit anything of value from foreigner. There's an exception to that rule, which is none of the law applies to media organizations. So one of the defense that was going to be -- that Trump people were preparing when -- as this case added (ph) up, was to say, even if we did cooperate with WikiLeaks that's legal because WikiLeaks is media organization. The revelation of the methods of WikiLeaks we seen this -- direct message. I think has powerful contradiction to that. WikiLeaks is not acting here like a media organization. It's acting like an organization of influence. We -- organization do not call on defeated candidates to contest the validity of an election. Cut (ph) us for Russia intelligence do.
If WikiLeaks is not a media organization then all of this has a much more sinister legal implication. If WikiLeaks is a media organization, Donald Trump Jr. has a defense and the Trump campaign has a defense. And I think after today if anybody did believe that WikiLeaks was a media organization they are a lot less likely to.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Actually, Anderson, if I can just jump in there at one point.
COOPER: Go ahead.
TOOBIN: Mike Pompeo who is Donald Trump's director of Central Intelligence has said repeatedly that WikiLeaks is an agent influence of the Russian government. So, you know, as for what WikiLeaks really is, Donald Trump's CIA has a very clear view and it is not that WikiLeaks is some online magazine, it's that it is an agent of Russian government.
COOPER: Yes, and again, Donald Trump Jr. was willing to communicate with them without even knowing the actual person he was communicating to and --
COOPER: -- claiming off the record conversations.
Up next, our other big story tonight, another accuser coming forward with serious sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. We'll get into that. You'll hear what she says happened in her own words and a swift reaction from Capitol Hill when we continue.
[20:37:02] COOPER: Another woman came forward to day accusing Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct. In this case, when she was 16 and he was in his 30s. And as the list of accusers grew, the number of defender shrink with more sitting senators today including the top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell telling Moore to get out of the race. "I believe the woman," McConnell said.
Some, however, do not nor do they believe "The Washington Post" which first broke the story of four women who say Moore approached them, one of whom alleged sexual encounter when she was just 14-years-old. Moore, in fact, is vowing to sue "The Post" and we'll talk more about that shortly. But as we said today, another woman did come forward. Her name is Beverly Young Nelson. She said back in 1977, Moore sexual assaulted her in is car after offering her ride home from the restaurant where she work and he ate. Attorney Gloria all read by her side. Ms. Nelson spoke to reporters this afternoon. We want to play a critical portion of it. You can decide for yourself what to make of her allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: He stopped the car. He stopped the car and he parked his car in between the dumpster and the back of the restaurant where there were no lights. The area was dark and it was deserted. I was alarmed and I immediately asked him what he was doing. Instead of answering my question, Mr. Moore reached over and begins groping me, and putting his hand on my breast.
I tried to open my car door to leave, but he reached over and he locked it so I could not get out. I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping he began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head onto his crotch.
I continued to struggle. I was determined that I was not allow him to force me to have sex with him. I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me. I was twisting and struggling and begging him to stop. I had tears running down my face.
At some point, he gave up. And he then looked at me, and he told me, he said, "You're just a child." And he said, "I am the district attorney of Etowah County, and if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Beverly Young Nelson revealing what she says happened to her when she was 16-years-old in Roy Moore's car. Some of Moore's defenders and Mr. Moore himself raising questions about the motivation for the women coming forward and attacking "The Washington Post" which first broke the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:40:11] ROY MOORE, U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I do not expect "The Washington Post" to stop. I think they have political agenda. And I think they're running that agenda and everybody in this room, every person watching on these cameras should ask their self, isn't it strange that after 40 years of consistent investigation, people have waited to four weeks prior to the general election to bring their complaints.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, whatever you make of the alleges, and Roy Moore denies them, this notion that these women waited decades to come forward until it will be politically most damaging to him doesn't seem to stand up.
I just want to read you a passage from "The Washington Post" original story about then 14-year-old Leigh Corfman and three other teens. "Neither Corfman nor any of the other women sought our The Post. While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore's Senate campaign, a post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed the four women. All were initially reluctant to speak publicly but chose to do so after multiple interviews, saying they thought it was important for people to know about their interaction with Moore."
"The Post", by the way, says, it based its reporting on upwards of 30 people who knew Roy Moore. And subsequently a former co-worker of his in the district attorney's office in Alabama told CNN's Alex Marquardt that at the time Moore was known to date high schoolers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Teresa Jones spoke with CNN today and she told us, "It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird. We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall, but you really wouldn't say anything to someone like that."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We should point out that Alabama's age consent then and now is 16. We should point out that this latest accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, who was 16 at the time says explicitly as you just heard a moment ago that her encounter with then District Attorney Roy Moore was anything but consensual. Prior to Beverly Young Nelson coming forward -- Moore as we mentioned, threatening to sue "The Post" and promising new revelations that would discredit the woman's initial story. He's yet to sue and he's yet to discredit the story. However, late today he did respond his wife as well, to the latest allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: I want to make it perfectly clear the people of Alabama know me. They know my character. They know what I stood for in the political world for over 40 years. And I can tell you without hesitation this is absolutely false. I never did what she said I did. I don't even know the woman. I don't know anything about her. I don't even know where the restaurant is or was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You heard Roy Moore say he did not know his accuser. At her press conference today, Beverly Young Nelson showed a page from her yearbook and inscription and it reads, "To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say, Merry Christmas", the signature apparently Roy Moore.
The meantime, in light of all this -- in light of his report among national Republicans at least, his support has been collapsing all day among national Republicans. CNN's Brianna Keilar joins us now with the latest on that.
So a lot of calls from Republicans on Capitol Hill today for Moore to drop out, where do things stand tonight?
CNN'S BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, there's a growing number, Anderson, of Republicans who are saying that Moore need to drop out of the race period, no caveat.
Now some are saying that they hold their endorsement of Moore, but as you recall, the line coming from Republicans when the story first broke was that -- if these allegations are true, Moore should step aside.
So now you have a lot of Republicans, a growing number who are dropping that, if true. And they're just saying that he needs to get out. And his has really been -- its come from a few Republicans over the weekend and then Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader weighed in Kentucky today, and he said that he believed the accusers. So, clearly, he said he found them credible. We're hearing this from an increasing number of Republicans as well. And he said that Moore needs to step aside.
So now the question is where does this go? McConnell talked about the idea of a write-in candidacy. And looking at that, we heard from Senator Richard Shelby, he floated the idea of Jeff Sessions, the current attorney general be in a write-in candidate or Luther Strange, who was Roy Moore's primary opponent, lost to him. But Luther Strange himself here on the Hill today pouring some cold water on that saying that a write-in candidacy would be highly unlikely, his words. Anderson.
COOPER: Brianna, I mean should Roy Moore be elected at the Senate -- could senators actually refuse to see him?
KEILAR: I don't know about refusing to see him but expelling him is a very real possibility. And that is what Senator Cory Gardner who, keep in mind, he is the head of the campaign arm for Republican senators. He's got his eye on the midterm elections. He's certainly worried that this is something that is going to drag down other Senate Republicans who are incumbent. And he said that, "If Roy Moore refuses to withdraw and he wins, the Senate should expel him." Now that is something that would take 2/3 of the chamber to push forward. So that would Democratic support.
[20:45:07] There isn't affirm word yet a more Democratic leadership is on this, but I was talking to one Democratic senator who's been here in the chamber for quite a while, Anderson, and he said that it would be hard to imagine a situation where certainly he would not vote to expel Roy Moore. He said, politics aside, because as you can imagine, Democrats this mean, Roy Moore being a problem for Republicans, as something that favors Democrats politically. But this senator, said, look politics aside, Roy Moore is not good for the Senate. So it does seem like there could be some certainly some democratic support and an effort to expel him if he's seated. It's a real possibility as what is democratic senator said to me, Anderson.
COOPER: Brianna Keilar, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Well, support is winning for Roy Moore on Capitol Hill, support among his base in Alabama still strong in many places. We'll get into that with our panel when we come back.
[20:50:05] COOPER: Even before today's new accuser came forward, with allegation against Roy Moore, the headlines were already piling up against him. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell saying Moore should step aside. In a small operative GOP senators joined in. We got to hear more from the White House as per Alabama Republicans, many are sticking with Roy Moore, including one of his campaign coordinator Steven Guede. I spoke to him earlier tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN GUEDE, CALHOUN COUNTY COORDINATOR, MOORE CAMPAIGN: After the initial story broke, I had more support. My phone actually rang off the hook for almost 24 hours.
COOPER: People are saying they wanted to volunteer for things like campaign?
GUEDE: Yes, people wand to volunteer. People who want to signs for the yard, people who say they don't -- you know, I don't believe it, he's a good man and we want to show our support for him,, yes absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A perspective from Peter Beinart, Contributing Editor with The Atlantic, also CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash. And Ed Martin, author of "The Conservative Case for Trump." 0:00:54.5
Dana, I know you've been talking to your sources in Capitol Hill and elsewhere, how do you see this playing out?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's completely unclear. And I think it's as clear as mud right now. I mean, you saw this avalanche of Republican leaders, Republican rank and file, even people like Ted Cruz who had endorsed Roy Moore appeared to rescind it and leaving out the, you know, if-true part, which Brianna was talking about earlier, which we heard up through the weekend especially from the White House.
But how they deal with it in real terms, if Roy Moore does go ahead and win this special election, stays on the ballot and wins in December, it's going to be as ugly as it gets because there doesn't seem to be a mechanism for the Senate to keep him from being seated, but there is a mechanism to kick him out, it's called expulsion. And even the top Republican in charge of electing Republicans, keeping GOP seats in place is a saying that he wants to start expulsion proceedings, as soon as Moore gets in and he's not allowed. COOPER: Ed, I mean, I know you're dismissive of so-called establishment and Republicans like Mitch McConnell, do you agree with Senator Ted Cruz? He is hardly establishing with Mike Lee, I mean, you said the burden is on Roy Moore to provide a -- and there was a Ted Cruz a serious persuasive demonstration that the accusations are false, and short of that he's not going to support Moore.
ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I don't -- much of the question, Anderson, I disagree with Mike Lee and Ted Cruz for sure. I -- look, excuse me, we're in a good old fashioned political hit, Anderson, and I've said this out with Don, the other night.
The fact is just this, 40 days before the election -- you know, I read the New York Times story just night, Anderson, I read again in preparation of this, Gloria Allred gets to say all the facts, and "The New York Times" and maybe you did, but New York Times didn't check any of them. They admit, we didn't check any facts. We just took Gloria Allred's word for it. This is an extraordinary indictment.
And by the way, if the indictment of elected officials and candidates is premised on just women just saying something, and in this, just women then Bill Clinton should have been thrown out office not for laying under oath for what the women said. You see, so the standard is this, Roy Moore is 70 years old and has never had an allegation like this, and suddenly he has a litany of it and what is exposing the swamp in Washington. And "The Washington Post" is way out of touch with we, the people. And I hope Alabama votes for who they want for this seat, and then when they do, let the Senate reject people and then we'll go right down the line.
The people are on TV, Anderson, including some you said, will go right down the line and we'll indict them for their personal conduct because many of them that you cite have (INAUDIBLE) that the Washington Post can write. We'll get somebody out, that says, so and so did such and such.
So, we're in dangerous territory and I just think it's a real shame. But I think Roy Moore is -- I think any of the women coming forward deserve to be heard, but the fact that they're being encountered as true and therefore the guy should have thrown out of office is amazing to me. It's a crazy --
COOPER: Peter, how do you see it?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, why would these women possibly lie? I mean, it's just -- why would they -- these are not
COOPER: Let him finish. Let him finish. You went off for the time. Let him go on --
BEINART: These are not political people, right? Did you watch that woman giving a press conference? Do you think she was enjoying that process? This is obviously deeply traumatic stuff. We know "The Washington Post" that the women did not come forward, the Washington Post had to find them and convince them to participate. Most of them were Trump supporters. So this claim that just because it appeared in "The Washington Post," which happens to be one of America's best newspapers, and because this happened before the election, therefore it must be made up, these women also talked to people at the time. They talked about the incident decades ago. Again, what possible motive would they have to lie?
MARTIN: But -- well, Anderson, Peter just said like seven things that I didn't say. I didn't say that because they said it, they lied. What I said was 40 days before an election to roll out a systemic plan and then they have the members of Congress condemn him. I said --
COOPER: So you're saying, this is a systematic plan? What evidence do you have with that?
[20:55:02] MARTIN: No, but -- well, it's pretty clear it's an order, right? I mean -- and by the way, just because "The Washington Post" says they didn't seek them out, or the people didn't soot out, it doesn't mean that -- we all know the campaign operatives say to the Washington Post reporters, hey guys go ask this person, this and that person that. This happens all the time guys. The people that are -- it may not realize it are the viewers that think the politics is somehow kind of lead by the Washington Post as the --
COOPER: So Ed, are you saying that this is some sort of plot by "The Washington Post" at the behest of Democrats or mainstream Republicans?
MARTIN: No, of course -- yes, I'm saying that the establishment in this case made clear they didn't want him, obviously the Democrats don't want him and it's a systematic effort to discredit him.
Now, look I'm not -- by the way, Peter, I never said that they weren't that it wasn't true. What I said was you're saying they have to be true and Moore has to be lying. And I'm saying Moore has a right to be taken by truth. And for those of us that known him for 40 to 50 years in public life, his word has been pretty good. There's even been an allegation of this before. He is never been allegedly -- he is been allege to do a lot of things in terms of his politics, his policy, but never this. So suddenly your life is transformed by people saying it. And I'm not saying it can't be true.
BEINART: Well, actually --
COOPER: Peter and then Dana.
BEINART: I actually think that these women's lives were transformed by what appears to be his terrible abuse of power. It does back to -- the same thing we saw with Donald Trump. And it's back, so I think you're right to, Bill Clinton.
BEINART: When you have three, four, five six women, numerous women who don't know each other, who keep coming forward despite the fact that it's very, very difficult for them to come forward. This is not an easy thing for them to do and then to be attacked all over the place by all these people. There's just -- it belies credulity that all these women are involved in a plot to lie.
BASH: Yes. Well, here's what I would say. I think what we're witnessing between these two gentlemen that maybe replace Peter with an establishment Republican is an illustration of what has been going on within the Republican Party. It's bearing out with a very, very unfortunate, horrible story, allegations and obviously defense that this isn't true. But at the end of the day, and we talked about this the night that this broke last week, Roy Moore was never the candidate for the establishment. They cringe at the notion separating all of this from his record, but just in terms of what we know that he has said and supported with regard to his experience in the State Supreme Court. And so that is the bottom line and I think at the end of the day, the big question is, what is President Trump going to do?
BASH: When he returns -- is he going to weighs in and even if he does, you know, go on the side of Mitch McConnell whether or not that's really going to --
COOPER: We're going to take a break. I appreciate. We're going to have more of this obviously in our next hour. Peter Beinar, Dana Bash, Ed Martin, thanks.
When, we come back, more on breaking news also Donald Trump Junior's secret messages with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, how these Twitter messages match up with key dates from the campaign and what Donald Trump's attorney is saying tonight next.