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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Senators Say Kushner Received Emails About WikiLeaks, Kushner in July Told Congress He Did Not Recall Any Contacts; Keeping Them Honest: President Taking a Pass; The President Takes a Pass; Pres. Trump Blasts Franken, But Stays Silent on Moore; Moore's Wife: He Will Not Step Down; Poll of Women Voters Moore Trails Dem Opponent by 26 Pts. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 17, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The ever more curious case of Jared Kushner. Breaking news in the Russia investigation.
John Berman here in for Anderson.
Tonight, we're learning that a piece of Jared Kushner's testimony to congressional investigators is being called into question. It has to do with WikiLeaks, which published the e-mails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. At the very least, this development turns up the heat on the president's son-in-law and could mean another date with Congress.
CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with the latest.
Evan, what are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Jared Kushner told congressional investigators that he didn't communicate with WikiLeaks and certainly didn't recall anyone in the Trump campaign who did. But we now know from disclosures this week that Donald Trump Jr. sent an e-mail to Kushner and others in the campaign last year to pass on information that he had learned from WikiLeaks and then Kushner forwarded that e-mail to Hope Hicks, one of the closest aides to then candidate Trump and now the communications director at the White House.
BERMAN: So, what's the next step here? Will he be called in for further questioning by Congress?
PEREZ: Well, yes. This latest revelation certainly turns up the pressure on Kushner to go back to Capitol Hill and for more interviews and perhaps to explain himself.
We heard yesterday, John, from the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee who sent a public letter to Kushner's lawyer, saying Kushner had failed to turn over documents that they know exist, and that includes information about WikiLeaks. The letter said that others had provided documents showing, quote, September 2016 e-mail communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks, which Mr. Kushner then forwarded to another campaign official. At the least, he's going to have to go back to explain that. BERMAN: Yes, to be clear, he says he doesn't recall being told anyone
in the campaign communicated with WikiLeaks. Don Jr. sent an e-mail saying he had spoken to WikiLeaks, which then Jared Kushner forwarded on to Hope Hicks. So, how is team Kushner responding?
PEREZ: Well, we got a response from Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney. He calls this a classic gotcha question. He says, quote, in over six hours of voluntary testimony, Mr. Kushner answered all questions put to him and demonstrated that there had been no collusion between the campaign and Russia.
As you pointed out, you know, the underlying thing here is that what Kushner's answer is he didn't recall any. So, he's not saying he didn't receive the e-mail, John. He's simply saying he didn't remember it.
BERMAN: All right. Evan, stay right there. I want to come back to you shortly.
First, though, more on Jared Kushner who certainly does seem to turn up throughout this investigation. In addition to the congressional angle that Evan just reported, we also expect that special counsel Robert Mueller will be interviewing Kushner as part of his probe at some point if he hasn't already.
CNN's Pamela Brown has a look at exactly what Kushner's role has been so far.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new request from lawmakers for more of Jared Kushner's personal communications about Russia and WikiLeaks. Just the latest example of how Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, is involved in most of the key moments of interest to investigators, as they seek answers on Russian meddling and any collusion with the Trump campaign.
JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information.
BROWN: Kushner's role is being looked at across many areas of the special counsel and congressional investigations, including revelations just this week he forwarded an e-mail about Donald Trump Jr.'s communications with WikiLeaks to then campaign aide Hope Hicks. He also played a role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey by supporting the decision.
And CNN has learned investigators are asking witnesses about Kushner's involvement in the firing that is now part of the obstruction of justice probe. He spearheaded the campaign's data analytics operation which is now under scrutiny by investigators looking at whether the Russians had any help targeting fake news during the election.
CNN reported Russians trolls at times targeted specific states on Facebook, including Michigan and Wisconsin, two states Trump narrowly won. The campaign denies working with the Russians. During the height of the presidential campaign, Kushner, along with
Don Jr. and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort took a meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer, that Don Jr. was told had dirt on Hillary Clinton. A meeting he failed to disclose several times on his security clearance form.
Kushner said the meeting turned out to be so insignificant that he accidentally left it off his form. Kushner's parent lack of transparency has drawn the ire of Democrats.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: He's definitely apparently omitting documents, and that is the reason that I have long advocated subpoenas for all of the documents. That's the only way we will know whether he's producing all of them. He certainly is doing himself no favor by withholding some, apparently. And I think he ought to be subpoenaed to appear before the committee in open under oath at a hearing.
BROWN: Kushner also held a secret meeting at Trump Tower with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Michael Flynn during the transition where they discussed using the Russian embassy's secure communications to discuss Syria policy during the transition.
[20:05:01] Kushner denied it was meant as a secret back channel.
And another meeting that has drawn scrutiny is the one he had with Russian government banker Sergey Gorkov during the transition. In his testimony to Congress, he denied they discussed business matters.
But the bank released a statement saying business was the purpose of Gorkov's trip and Kushner did not initially disclose a personal e-mail account he used for official business when he was interviewed in September by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Kushner's lawyer says his client is voluntarily providing documents to Mueller's team and congressional investigators and has been cooperative throughout the process.
BERMAN: Still so much forgotten or not disclosed or disclosed and then not forgotten.
Pamela Brown joins us now. Evan Perez also. And with us, former special counsel and assistant to Robert Mueller, Michael Zeldin, and former Nixon White House counsel and Watergate central figure, John Dean.
John, I want to start with you. Again, the breaking news tonight is that Jared Kushner said he did not recall any campaign contact with WikiLeaks despite the fact he received an e-mail from Don Jr. about a conversation he had with WikiLeaks and Jared Kushner forwarded that e- mail on.
So, how big of a jam do you think Jared Kushner is in tonight?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, the "I don't recall" defense is not a very good one if you actually do know what you're talking about and just don't want to remember or don't want to refresh your recollection.
It was tried during Watergate. Bob Haldeman, the former White House chief of staff, went to jail on that specifically. He was convicted of perjury for claiming he couldn't recall.
And juries also react to this repetitive "I don't recall" because these things get flushed up if somebody gets really pressed in a grand jury. So, I think he'd better start refreshing his recollection before he does any more testimony because he's hurting himself badly.
BERMAN: You know, Michael Zeldin, Counselor, when does this become perjury? When does "I do not recall" again and again and again become perjury or is this just some kind of golden ticket, not just for Jared Kushner, for other people involved in this investigation like Jeff Sessions?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So, John Dean said it right, which is that if I don't know is seen as a purposeful lie to avoid answering the question, in Haldeman's case, there were the take place. He knew what was there. He actually remembered, but he used "I don't recall" as a means of lying. That's potentially, and it was in Haldeman's case actually perjury.
On a one-question question, do you recall receiving any information about WikiLeaks and the answer is "I don't recall", on a one-off that's not going to amount to perjury and it's going to be incumbent upon the questioners to ask more questions.
In this area of false statements and perjury and obstruction of justice, you really need to see patterns of behavior that are based on specific questions or specific requests for documentation that are properly crafted, that the individual who has to respond or answer did so with intent to mislead. So, in this case, I don't know yet that we're there with Kushner.
For example, if the question put to Kushner was, did you have any contacts with Russians? That's one question. If it's "did you have any contacts with Russians, Russian emissaries or people affiliated with Russia, that's a different question, and they each would require a different answer.
And anyone who has been a defense lawyer knows you advise your client to answer the questions that have been asked of you and not volunteer more information. And so, we may be in that situation where Abbe Lowell is doing a good job in representing his client's best interests. And if people want this information, they just have to do a better job of asking for it.
BERMAN: Michael, the fact, though, that he had all those nondisclosure issues of things he was supposed to disclose, does it make it harder to argue that this was a one off?
ZELDIN: Well, yes, in some respect. The more there is a pattern, the harder it is to argue I don't remember is a truthful answer. With respect to the SF 86 form, that form is a form that asks for iterative answers. You fill it out. You remember more things. You fill it out.
I remember when I was filling it out and it asked me what foreign travel I had in a ten-year period. I had to go get my passport, I had to look at all the stamps in my passport and start filling them in. And then you submit the form and you say, oh, my goodness, I remember I went to this place and I traveled there to an official passport and you amend your form. And the form even says you can amend and can amend up until the time you're interviewed by FBI.
So, it doesn't necessarily itself reflect dishonesty, but you then have to build a mosaic and say, do all these things fit in and do they create a pattern of obfuscation, or are they just innocent, independent mistakes?
BERMAN: Pamela, one other item here, obviously, and your story lays it out well, is that Jared Kushner has been in a lot of these places that are now in question, including as part of that meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer who promised Don Jr. dirt on Hillary Clinton.
[20:10:08] Well, we've learned that the special counsel Robert Mueller wants to interview the guy who I guess is a British citizen who helped arrange that meeting, correct?
BROWN: Yes. That's right. He's a British publicist. He was really the organizer of this meeting. And he learned from a source familiar with the matter that Robert Mueller's team has been in touch with his attorney, Bob Gage, to set up a time where he can come to the United States. Right now, he's in Thailand, where he can come to the United States and be interviewed by Mueller's team.
And Rob Goldstone really is a central figure when it comes to that Trump Tower meeting with Jared Kushner, Don Jr., Paul Manafort and that Russian attorney who Goldstone said had incriminating information on Hillary Clinton. And he, of course, as you'll recall, he also said that the Russian government was trying to help the Trump campaign. So, of course, Mueller's team would want to learn more about what was behind that?
Goldstone has told people around him he was just goosing up the language, exaggerating it to get the meeting. But Mueller's team will want to get to the bottom of it to see if there was some broader conspiracy and also get his account of what happened in that meeting, John.
BERMAN: So, Evan, one other interesting part here, that's part political, part familial, is that you have Jared Kushner who is he center of investigation. There are a lot of questions for him, but there are also a lot of questions for Donald Trump Jr. And there is a question about whether or not their interests coincide here.
PEREZ: Right. And I think that's been one of the questions that certainly first came up back in June when we started asking about the Trump Tower meeting, John. I think when we first approached, it was -- we were interested in telling the story about Jared Kushner amending his SF-86 to report the existence of that meeting, which as you remember, nobody knew about.
And so, then, suddenly, the administration or the white house came up with a new answer that really put it all as Don Jr.'s fault. So, as you say, you know, I think they have a little bit of a diverging interest here. And also, I think, when you get questioned about this, it's going to be interesting to see how these men answer the questions about how this meeting came about, what happened at the meeting.
I think certainly these are questions that Robert Mueller will be interested in looking at the answers and see how they differ. And I think that that's going to really be important to see how this all plays out.
BERMAN: All right, guys. We're going to continue this conversation in just a moment.
Also, later, President Trump is still staying silent on the accusations against U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, despite laying into Senator Al Franken for his sexual misconduct. We'll get into that when 360 continues.
[20:16:22] BERMAN: Back now to our breaking news. White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told congressional investigators that he did not recall anyone in the Trump campaign communicating with WikiLeaks. That is according to a source with knowledge of his testimony. But we know that Kushner did receive and forward an e-mail from Donald Trump Jr. about Trump junior's contact with WikiLeaks. That we learned from a new report this week in a Senate Judiciary Committee letter.
This puts the president's son-in-law back under the microscope. The Senate investigators are also for more documents they say he withheld.
So, let's bring back our panel.
Pamela Brown, I want to start with you. The notion that Jared Kushner didn't fully comply with the request from Congress for documents, do we know if they're circling back with anyone who has been asked for information.
BROWN: Well, not publicly that we know of. This is -- seems to be the first example where you see a committee releasing a public letter calling on someone who is part of the Russia investigation to provide missing documents as they say.
And what's interesting here is that the request to Jared Kushner and his tell me was just as broad to them as it was to other people, such as Don Jr. And the reason they know -- they knew that some of the missing documents that Kushner's team hadn't turned over some of these documents was because others such as Don Jr. had turned over everything. And so, that is how they knew.
But Abbe Lowell, the attorney for Jared Kushner, just sent a letter to the judiciary committee, essentially admonishing them for going through the media rather than going to him directly for these documents, for this request. But it certainly raises questions if there had been two document productions prior to this, why this hadn't all been turned over.
As Michael Zeldin pointed out, though, it could be intentional in terms of not wanting to hand over things voluntarily that go beyond what the specific request is.
BERMAN: All right. John Dean, obviously, we're talking about the president's son-in-law here, not just a senior adviser, and his son Donald Trump, Jr.
And it begs the question, do you think the president of the United States, if they faced any serious legal trouble, would hesitate to pardon them?
DEAN: Well, I would -- the natural instinct, of course, would be to do so. He might also let the process play out and just make sure they didn't go to jail. That's what George Bush did with Scooter Libby, you'll recall.
We're really early to be thinking about pardons. I can't believe that his counsel hasn't told him not to send a signal because it would be obstruction of justice to offer a pardon at this early stage. That's one of the things that Nixon was charged with before the Congress in his impeachment. So, I think it's pretty early to be thinking pardons.
BERMAN: It will be interesting to see how much history they know if they go back and look at everything you went through back then.
Michael Zeldin, I want to play a clip of sound today. This is Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He was talking to the federal society which is a conservative legal group in Washington. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: What I ask you is, is Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started here. Any Russians?
Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia or something?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, Michael, his audience of conservative lawyers, they loved the joking. The question is, does Robert Mueller think it's so funny that the attorney general of the United States who may not be connected to this overall investigation is making these kind of jokes?
[20:20:00] ZELDIN: I don't think it's going to affect Mueller's thinking about this one way or the other. If Mueller is looking at Attorney General Sessions for possibly lying under oath, I don't even know if that's completely within his mandate, then I don't think the fact that he made a joke at the Federalist Society is going to matter one whit to him.
However, as an appearance matter, I don't think it would have been smart to advice the attorney general to make fun of essentially his lapse of memory. Remember, he didn't remember a hundred and something times over three days of testimony, and that just doesn't create a good appearance, and it makes it seem as if he's thumbing -- putting the thumb in the eye of Congress. I just don't think it's smart for him to have done that. But, you know, it was a cute joke.
BERMAN: Well, if you want to extend a joke, if anyone in the audience had answered yes to Russia, the real question is would the attorney general remember it later on, if he was testifying about it, because that appears to have been the problem here?
Evan Perez, last question this subject to you. Do you have any sense that the attorney general is part of this investigation by the special counsel or that he will be questioned ultimately?
PEREZ: I think we do expect that at some point, Sessions is going to be asked some questions, especially in particular about the firing of James Comey, which we know is part of what Robert Mueller is looking into. We know that one of the questions is whether or not there was any attempt at obstruction of justice.
After all, the only reason why Robert Mueller's office exists is because Comey was fired. If you remember, James Comey, the FBI director.
So, we expect that he will be. So far, Sessions has not been asked and just in reaction to what he was laughing about Federalist Society, I think if you'll remember Hillary Clinton was joking about with a rag, wiping away of the server, things like that and people didn't find that funny either and certainly the FBI didn't.
So, I think that's the context that I think even people who are looking at the Russia investigation right now are looking at that joke.
BERMAN: All right. Jeff Sessions is laughing today at least. We'll see how long that lasts.
Guys, appreciate it. Thank you one and all.
The president has no problem weighing in on Al Franken's sexual misconduct. So why is it radio silence on the allegations against Roy Moore, not to mention the allegations against Donald Trump?
Keeping them honest, next.
BERMAN: Keeping them honest tonight, silence can say a lot. Selective silence even more, that plus hypocrisy, most of all.
Once again today, "mum" was the word from President Trump and the White House on Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. To be sure, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders today called the sexual misconduct allegations against him serious.
But that's not the question. Everyone knows it's serious that a woman says she was sexually molested by Moore when she was 14. It's serious when another woman says she was sexually assaulted when she was 16. The question isn't whether the claims are serious, it's do you believe them and if you do, is Roy Moore worthy of being a U.S. senator.
Late today, Alabama's governor weighed in, saying she stands with Moore, even though she has no reason to doubt his accusers. She is choosing his platform over alleged pedophilia.
Now, you can agree or disagree with her decision. Many will, but it is a decision, as well as a commitment to be held accountable for.
Now, the president has made no such commitment. For eight days, nothing beyond a throwaway statement such as mere allegations and if they are through. No further statements, no on camera comments, not even a tweet. Just a picture of the president not tweeting about anything.
However, he has tweeted about Democratic Senator Al Franken's misconduct with broadcaster Leeann Tweeden, including groping her as she slept. The Al Frankenstein picture is really bad, he wrote, speaks a thousand words, where do his hands going pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 while she sleeps, and to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women.
So, the president limits his outrage to Franken, a Democrat, but stays silent on Moore, a Republican, which is odd -- odd when you consider all the leading Republicans now lining up to condemn Roy Moore and say that they believe his accusers. It is odd when you consider all the Democrats condemning Al Franken, even after his apology yesterday.
It's odd when you see Hillary Clinton's successor in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, saying in retrospect, that Bill Clinton should have resigned for his sexual improprieties. Put it all together and any notion that the two parties are protecting their own melts in the heat of what by any measure is an extraordinary moment. Yet instead of rising to that moment, a bipartisan moment we should add, the president of the United States, the head of the Republican Party and traditionally at least a moral example for the country has shrunk from it, while taking shots at a member of the opposing party.
So, why Franken and not Moore?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Well, Al Franken was a brand-new news story yesterday and the president weighed in as he does on the news of the day, often enough. The Roy Moore story is eight days old and the president put out a statement during his Asia trip on that. And since then, our press secretary spoken on behalf of the president by saying that he believes the people of Alabama will sort out what to do with Roy Moore and with that election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, the Roy Moore story is old news, but Al Franken is not which would explain why the president doesn't tweet anymore about his defeated opponent Hillary Clinton. Oh, wait. It would explain why he stopped talking months ago about his election victory. Oh, wait.
The fact is old news or new, big news or small, this president weighs in on it, so the idea that he can't be bother with a stale old news out of Alabama is hard to believe, especially when, as you've been seeing, there have been significant developments nearly every day, sometimes every hour.
So, is it partisanship, hypocrisy or both? You can decide for yourself. However, is it personal? That is hard to deny.
Our reporting suggests a powerful reason why the president cannot bring himself to say an alleged molester, attacker and reputed shopping mall lurker should not be Alabama's next senator, 13 reasons he won't say it, in fact. At least 13 women who have gone on the record with claims about Donald Trump's past behavior. Jessica Leeds, Mindy McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Temple Taggart, Kristin Anderson, Summer Zervos, Cathy Heller, Jill Harth, Jessica Drake, former Ms. Finland Ninni Laaksonen, Karena Virginia and one woman who was yet to names.
So, the president says they are all lying, all of them. So, if you're keeping score at home, he is fine saying Franken is guilty and Bill Clinton and he's not surprised about Harvey Weinstein, but he's willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to two notable individuals Roy Moore and then the man caught on tape saying this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women, I just start kissing them, it's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the fussy, you can do anything.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BERMAN: Let's bring in our panel. Joined now by David Gergen, Abbey Phillip, Philip Bump and Amie Parnes.
David Gergen, first to you, the president weighing in as he did over night. What does it accomplish for him other than making him look like a hypocrite perhaps both politically and personally?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well John, increasingly (ph) looks like the president and his team have -- are really think we're stupid and Americans are stupid, that they don't know this, that they don't see the hypocrisy, that they don't really care. I think he's got it absolutely wrong. People carried grievingly. You know, women are coming forward courageously all across the country on these issues. And there's a real change in the culture underway and Americans are looking for leadership out of White House, especially moral leadership in a moment like this, they're not getting it.
The president's taken an enormous camel, that is if he can just stay silent long enough, get up there right up there in that election and Roy Moore can pull it off, and go to victory and this will all go away. I don't think it goes away. It's too -- is -- one of the classic cases that Americans get it and they do care.
BERMAN: So Abbey Phillip there was a remarkable line pushed from the White House today. Sarah Sanders said, the president hasn't mean do anything wrong, Senator Franken has. That's a pretty giant loophole that they've created here considering the Access Hollywood tape.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And I think it's also a little bit -- it's almost a little too convenient. I mean there are some differences in this case, there is a photo of Al Franken and doing something that most people agree is pretty horrific and there's no such photograph of Donald Trump doing that, but there is an audio tape as you just played which the White House seems to believe can be easily dismissed. I think there are a lot of other people out there who watch that tape and they say this is someone who admitted to this kind of behavior, which indicates that it's not something that he at the time at least believed was out of order.
The White House is also maintaining that these women who accuse the president of wrong doing are still lying, I mean even after all this time, even after the promises of lawsuit they have a blanket statement that these women are just liars. And that they -- and they provided virtually no evidence as suggest that they are. So, they just don't want to have the conversation and I think the president is very drawn to images. He believes that it's really easy to take Al Franken's a task over it, because Al Franken admitted that he did something wrong and he knows that a little bit harder to do it when it comes to some the specific accusations that these women have made against him. I think they're using that as an opportunity to make this in some ways a partisan attack.
BERMAN: You know, Philip Bump, is there a political calculation here for the president he just doesn't want to lose the seat in Alabama and or he doesn't want to his base?
PHILIP BUMP, THE WASHINTON POST: Yes, I mean it seems pretty clear that he and his party would prefer to hold on to that seat in Alabama. You know, for a while they were thinking maybe more to seat down and someone else could run and campaign. But I mean I think that the quote you just had from Sarah Huckabee Sanders is really revelatory, because she's essentially saying, we are making this political choice. And the political choice is that -- if we don't say anything, we're going to get away with this.
And if you remember Donald Trump has essentially focus on his base from the day he started running. And his base loves to defend him and to hate on Democrats. And so what he is doing is he is defending himself and he is saying Al Franken is a bad guy and his base eats it up and hit continue be eaten up and that has continued to been his strategy.
BERMAN: I mean is he providing a road map for anyone accused them sexual misconduct? Amie Parnes, you know, you literarily co-wrote the book on how Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton --
AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
BERMAN: -- despite the fact the Access Hollywood tape exist. So why would he think that an aisle is the best way to get through this?
PARNES: And that's the thing, people knew about the Access Hollywood tape --
PARNES: -- and they knew about all this accusers. And they voted for him anyway. And so I think he's being saying, OK, if I could get through that, if I could win the election against Hillary Clinton who had this entire apparatus working in her favor. I can sort of squeak by now and I think that's why he thinks that this is working him.
[20:35:12] And it also is a strategy where he is kind of the this thumb tails with his whole entire media strategy. You know, "The Washington Post" is out to get me. And so I think this also works in his favor to kind of, you know, takes a bat Roy Moore in many ways, because it is kind of what he has been saying all along about himself.
BERMAN: Well, we'll see how it continues to play. We're going to get break in right now.
Next, more on the president's real (ph) to silence on Roy Moore after lashing out after Al Franken.
BERMAN: We're talking about president Trump's willingness to condemn Senator Al Franken despite his unwillingness to join more than a dozen Republican law makers who were condemning Senate candidate Roy Moore.
[20:40:00] This is what the president said back on November 11 from his trip through Asia about the news of Moore's alleged sexual misconduct. The president said, I'll basically put out a statement which was obvious, so I'll stick with statement for now, but I'll have further comment as we go down the road. I'd have to get back into the country to see what's happening.
Well, the president's been back in the country for a few days and it certainly seen what is happening in the news because he does watch TV. Yet still no statements.
So, let's bring back our panel, David Gergen, Abbey Phillip, Philip Bump, and Amie Parnes. David, you know, is what -- what is today, today's November 17th, the special lunch in Alabama is December 12. I simply don't believe that he can last until December 12 without saying something out loud on this. And he instead himself up for a whole lot of problems, every time the press seize him, they're going to press him on this.
GERGEN: Well, I think that's right John. But -- look I think I basically agree he's taking a gamble. It was a gamble he took on Hollywood Access tape, he dismiss a month and I just shrug it off. Your voter -- the voters stuck with him and he won the election. He's trying to do the same thing here. If he shrugs it out long enough, that's old news, I'm not want to get into that, we talk about something else. We passed the big tax bill, that's what's more important.
The issue shrugs it off and gets through Roy Moore wins, that will be a gamble to be paid off. I do think that though that times have changed since the Access Hollywood tape. At that time people stuck with him because they had great hope that he would deliver jobs, he would deliver also to promise to detail with Obamacare and all the rest. And now that they're not seeing that happening he's not getting good marks. I don't think people are as anywhere near as hopeful or as patient with him as they were then.
BERMAN: And Amie, you know, he poke to bear (ph) last night with the Franken statement, it was one thing not commenting on Moore but when your going to comment on Franken you create a whole bunch a new problems.
PARNES: Right and exactly, and he's going through, he has to get tax reform done, he's off message again. So it's taking him off of the Russian story line on to the, you know, sexual assault story line. Something that he is desperate to avoid.
I talk to a couple of Republicans earlier today who say it's really obvious what he's trying to do. He's trying to once again distract and, you know, push -- he doesn't want to have to face -- talk about himself and what he's gone through. So this is a problem for him and he knows that.
BERMAN: To that Abbey, let me bring you to this discussion, how much do Mitch McConnell, you know, the Republican leaders who were out on a limb here with the party? How much do they want the president involved here? Would they like to see him make a stand?
PHILLIP: I think they would. They very much want Trump to kind of show the way here. Partly because, despite the fact that Trump didn't endorse Roy Moore in the primaries, Trump's voters are behind Roy Moore. Trump's chief former chief strategist Steve Bannon is a driving force in that campaign, and I think McConnell would really like for Trump to step in and say something, it's not clear that would make a difference for the reasons I just outlined.
Trump's lack of endorsement in the primaries did not stop Roy Moore from winning. So it's unclear where that's going. We do know that McConnell and his staff are trying to put together a list of options for the president. Trying to give him indication of what the options are. And frankly not many of those options are particularly good. So, you know, I think they're in a bind, maybe they're looking for a way out. But it might be wishful thinking that someone who's persisted and one despite the fact Trump did not endorse him, is going to suddenly step down or do anything in response to Trump pulling an endorsement.
BERMAN: You know, Philip Bump, what role does Steve Bannon play --
BERMAN: -- in all of this?
BUMP: Right, today it's a very fair question. Steve Bannon's or -- it's his wagon to Roy Moore, is he likes to say that it would happen the other way around. But after Roy Moore is already headband and came in and do, you know, he took credit for his primary victory, as we know as Bannon still talks to Trump with some regularity, so it's not clear if he's bending Donald Trump's ear on this.
You know, I'm going to think, the thing to keep in mind though is we're still a pretty decent distance from this election.
BUMP: If you look at one of the things that happened in the Access Hollywood tape is there is still another month in that campaign, and during that month, people's attention turn, it turn of the Jim Comey letter, it turn to the WikiLeaks releases. And so, that's one of the ways that Donald Trump was able to avoid it. It will be interesting to see if Roy Moore can actually have people brush aside, you know, alleged of pedophilia over the course of the next month, but there's a lot of time left.
And so, Donald Trump, if he can bide his time for -- promptly a short period of time, he might be in clear.
BERMAN: It's almost the exact like of time.
BERMAN: And it was from the Access Hollywood tape. We'll see what happens a lot will play out in Alabama. Guys thank you so much for being with us, I really appreciated it.
Coming up --
GERGEN: Thank you.
BERMAN: -- Roy Moore's wife say he absolutely will not step down from the race despite all the women coming forward to say he sexually harassed or pursued or in one case molested them when they were teenagers. What she and a group of Republican women in Alabama are saying, next.
[20:48:59] BERMAN: Roy Moore's wife says she and her husband are victims attacks by the media and he's not stepping down. Kayla Moore, held a press conference today and the sexual allegations against Roy Moore, she called him an officer and a gentleman and she and a group of Republican women in Alabama defended him. Gary Tuchman is in Birmingham and he joins us now live. Gary what Kayla Moore had to say at this press conference today?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well John, Kayla Moore and her husband Roy have clearly developed a message for the called mainstream media. And that is we'll make statements to you but we will not take questions from you and that was the trend that continued today.
Kayla Moore participating in a news conference on the steps of Alabama state capital Montgomery surrounded by woman who support Roy Moore, the wife strongly defended the husband.
KAYLA MOORE, ROY MOORE'S WIFE: He is a loving father and a grandfather, the most important, he is a Christian. So, let me set the record straight, even after all the attacks against me, my family, against the foundation and now against my husband, he will not step down.
[20:50:09] He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: Her statement didn't go over well with accusers. One of the attorneys for accuser Gloria Deason said on Facebook, "Roy Moore continues to be despicable by using religion as a shield against the accountability for his sex crime. Sexual predators and child molesters exist in all walks of life, all backgrounds, all occupations and professions, all races, all religions including evangelical houses of worship, just like their victims.
Now we certainly wanted to ask Kayla Moore a question, she was hustled out after she made her statement, we want to ask her for example, what did she think of Donald Trump, the president of the United States saying almost nothing about her husband, if she think that's a good thing. But she didn't want to answer, she got in the car and she drove off. John.
BERMAN: And so one person who did speak today was the Republican governor of Alabama. She made an announcement about who she will be voting for.
TUCHMAN: That's right. Governor Kay Ivey had not said anything up until today. And today she participated in the traditional pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey. And let just say is not but only with Turkey that's happy tonight, Mr. Roy Moore maybe happy too because she said, because she wants to support the Republican Party, she will vote for Roy Moore, but what's most interesting about is she also said this about the accusers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. KAY IVEY, (R) ALABAMA: I certainly have no reason to disbelieve him they have them, the timing is little curious, but at the same time I have no reason to disbelieve him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: So what it comes down to is this, she may believe the accusers, the governor of the state of Alabama, but she is voting for the accused, John.
BERMAN: All right, Gary Tuchman in Alabama for us, thanks so much Gary. With me now, Ed Martin and Tara Setmayer.
Tara, I want to start with you. Roy Moore's wife standing besides him, other women up there as well. Do you think that will make a difference in this race?
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, because I think you're going to find sycophants that follow people everywhere you go. I mean it's almost like a political Stockholm syndrome. So I don't really think that that's going to be credible outside of the echo chamber that they're already in.
Most people objective observers looking at this are probably horrified by the fact that your -- this many people in Alabama are excusing away the actions of a potential chilled predator here. This is -- it's amazing to me that even with the governor of Alabama said, she is literally choosing party and party tribalism over morality. You know, our founding fathers warned against this kind of tribalism and warned against this kind dogmatic allegiance to parties. And George Washington warned about that, he warned about, you know, individual power rising to the point where it lays on the ruins of public liberty. Benjamin Franklin said only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. I don't see how any of this excuse making for the idea of maintain a Republican in office is good for America or even good for Republicans moving forward. And this is coming from me a life long Republican. It's -- I think it's shameful and dangerous in the long run actually.
BERMAN: Ed you're shaking your head no?
ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen -- I -- I don't know what to say. Actually the founding fathers taught all about like sensuousness of the press too, that was something it was written about last week, in the sense that Russian judgment I've never seen anything like this. I mean this (INAUDIBLE). I agree with the statement that Jeff Sessions started, that he said, I have no reason to doubt these women. That's when being fair is.
But also no reason to doubt Roy Moore. And, you know, different than Al Franken or Bill Clinton they admitted what they did. This guy said he didn't do it. And today when Kayla Moore stood on the steps, she said my husband went to west point, he served in Vietnam for five years, so he did had a life record that none of this ever came up until this, you know, two weeks ago. That doesn't mean that we should have some respect for the victims and what they're saying. But the idea that you seat on there and you lecture that you think this man is so bad, it's really breathtaking. And the people of Alabama are looking up and, you know, what they're saying? If you keep Al Franken in office, and you keep lecturing us, we're going to elect the guy that's pro-life, pro-Second Amendment not the liberal Democrat.
BERMAN: I got --
SETMAYER: Even if he's charlatan.
BERMAN: One second, on second, one second, because I do want to tell you what the women of Alabama are saying right now at least according to the latest poll which is from Fox News, by the way. Roy Moore is trailing by 26 points among women right now likely voters in this race. So right now women are looking at that, Tara, and saying --
BERMAN: -- they're displeased.
SETMAYER: Absolutely because women, you know, their mothers, their daughters, they've gone through -- women have -- are exposed to these kinds of behavior. We've seen this with all the accusations and admittance of sexual harassment and sexual assault that's come out from powerful men. I mean, you know, I'm not lecturing anyone, I'm actually make -- yes, I'm making a moral judgment, because in the game of politics, in a political arena, it is all about making a judgment. It's not a court of law.
[20:55:04] And when I see nine accusers that are very incredible to me when contemporaneous witnesses and 50 other people that are corroborating these stories, I'm sorry, but I believe that these people are credible. And you can't have it both ways, you can't say that oh well, I think I don't have any reasons to disbelieve the victims. But then turn around to say that Roy Moore is not -- is being raked over the coals by some unfair media. The media is there to hold people accountable, and that's exactly what the "Washington Post" has done.
So you can't trod out Clinton accusers and expect every to believe them and then turn around and say that, well Roy Moore gets a pass. In the interest of pure politics explain to me by how this advances Republican conservative American values of freedom and liberty? How does that do that when you want someone in this moral in office?
MARTIN: Tara, honestly can I answer the first part of John's very important for the viewers to know. Just like Donald Trump after the Bill Bush radio, the polling is not going to make sense for a long time if ever. So when you say that women are voting, they were also saying the same thing against Trump and he won states that were polling wrong. So that's the first I'd say.
And the people of Alabama are getting pretty tired that Fox News poll shows some oversampling of different things. But here's what I'll just say is. We have a system in this country of politics. And when people throw things up, you're right, we make a judgment about what we believe. But, you know what your not vote -- I don't think you're voting in Alabama. And the people of Alabama are saying we've known this guy for decades and this never came up, even when he was being destroyed by the media for going Ten Commandments guy.
MARTIN: No wait, I didn't interrupt you, Tara.
BERMAN: OK guys, we're going to --
BERMAN: Unfortunately we're running out of time -- we're running out of time here --
MARTIN: -- desperate to condemn people.
SETMAYER: No, you guys are the desperate ones trying to excuse away a child predator. I'm telling you straight. And women were afraid --
SETMAYER: -- to come forward until the recent events of other powerful men being taken down by this. So now they felt safe to come forward. He was a man of the law. These were simple people in small- town America that could not take on the law. And you see all these women have been destroyed.
BERMAN: Well, here's what I know.
SETMAYER: And that's why they were afraid to come forward.
MARTIN: Senator more should talk to us before he's sworn in.
BERMAN: Well Senator Moore should talk to us before he swore in. Senator Moore we had some questions or --
BERMAN: -- or, you know, well judge more to ask him some questions --
BERMAN: -- December 12 -- election day is the December 12 at least for now in Alabama. Hopefully we'll have a chance to talk about this again guys in the coming days.
Coming up for us our breaking news tonight in the Russia investigation involving Jared Kushner, his memory and WikiLeaks.