Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Launches New Attack on UCLA Player's Father; Alabama Voters Sound Off on President Trump's Support of Roy Moore. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 22, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:10] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: On these last two days leading up to Thanksgiving, the president of the United States handed out meals to underprivileged and calmly reflected on all of his blessings. Just kidding, he basically endorsed an accused child molester and called somebody's dad an ungrateful fool.

I'm John Berman, in for Anderson.

We are thankful you've joined us tonight after what has been a notable day and a half of the Trump presidency. It turned out pretty traditional yesterday afternoon, the president dutifully performing this bit of free Thanksgiving shtick at the White House, pardoning two turkeys named Drumstick and Wishbone. The president did thank the military and first responders and called for a renewal of the bonds of trust and affection between citizens of America.

Trust and affection which didn't last until sunrise because at 5:25 a.m., the president of the United States lashed out at LaVar Ball for not being grateful enough that he helped get his son and two other UCLA basketball players out of China after they were arrested for shoplifting.

The president wrote: It wasn't the White House, it wasn't the State Department, it wasn't father LaVar so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long-term prison sentence, it was me, all caps by the way.

Too bad, LaVar is just a poor man's version of Don King but without the hair. Just think, LaVar, you could have spent the next five to ten years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember, LaVar, shoplifting is not a little thing. It's a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool.

You can just feel the trust and affection oozing everywhere. First, a little context here. These tweets were ostensibly in reaction to an interview LaVar Ball did on CNN Monday night with Chris Cuomo.


LAVAR BALL, FATHER OF UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER: I have to know what somebody's doing before I say thank you. I'm not just going to go around saying thank you.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. So let's --

BALL: You come and shake my hand and meet me, or meet my son or anybody and didn't say you know what maybe I can help you out.

CUOMO: All right.

BALL: OK, let's do it that way but just because people say things, you know, it's supposed to be true like hey I stopped him from saving ten years, maybe we're doing some talking with some other people before he even got there.


BERMAN: And let's not forget that a week ago today, LaVar Ball son and the two other players all complied with the president's less-than- subtle request for gratitude.


CODY RILEY, UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER: To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf.

JALEN HILL, UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER: Thank you to United States government and President Trump for your efforts to bring us home.

LIANGELO BALL, UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER: I also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided as well.


BERMAN: So, those thanks were not enough to satisfy the president's appetite, and here we are with this morning tweets, again calling LaVar Ball an ungrateful fool and curiously the poor man's Don King without the hair, curious first because is that a hair joke seriously? And second, is there in fact a rich man's Don King in this scenario?

The actual Don King was once convicted of manslaughter then pardoned. He is a friend for the president. He supported and appeared with him throughout the campaign, something it doesn't seem LaVar Ball would do, or maybe -- just maybe this is about more than hair. Were there messages in what the president said, how he said, and the target? We will discuss that.

Keeping them honest, some say this president is a master of distraction, that he goes on these types of tirades when the Russia investigation seems like it's closing in or to distract from something else he said that's getting him unflattering press, something like this perhaps


REPORTER: Mr. President, is an accused child molester better than a Democrat? Is an accused child molester better than a -- DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he denies it.

Look, he denies it. I mean if you look at what, what is really going on and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn't happen.


BERMAN: The president coming out in support of Roy Moore, accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl, no name-calling, no Twitter tirade, no criticism, just support. That was yesterday afternoon, right after the president pardoned those turkeys, Drumstick and Wishbone are now living comfortably on a Virginia farm. We hope they displayed their gratitude in a way that was satisfying to the president, else he might make fun of their hair.

Lot's to talk about tonight. Joining us now, two CNN political commentators, former South Carolina state house member, Bakari Sellers, and Paris Dennard, former White House director of black outreach for President George W. Bush.

Thank you both for being here I give thanks for your presence constantly.

Bakari, I want to start with you.


BERMAN: Do you believe that there is any racial overtone to the president's tweets or is this just two self-promoters going at it on Twitter?

SELLERS: Well, I think it's a combination of both. But, first, I think it's necessary for all of us to take a step back and judge this based on what it should be judged based upon.

[20:05:03] I mean, a year ago, you had the president of the United States, you had the 44th president of the United States, what he did on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a man named Barack Obama -- he was actually going to homeless shelters feeding homeless veterans in Washington, D.C. That's how he spent his Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

And now, we have the president United States chastising yet another foil which happens to be African-American.

And so, to answer your question directly, it's yes, the president, he draws this sense of inevitability. He -- you know, he patronizes, he delves into these issues of racism all the time and the reason he does it is because of the fact that he gets something out of this. He builds his currency from racism and cultural divisiveness.

And so, yes, his foils are the media. His foils are the establishment. But his foils are also black people, which is why we see him go after the Jemele Hills, to Steph Currys, the LaVar Balls, the Marshawn Lynches, the NFL players, the list goes on and on and on. But I think you and everyone else should take a step back and look at what a president should be and look at what Donald Trump is. We had a president who was feeding the homeless, taking care of veterans a year ago and now we have Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Paris, you heard Bakari make his case right there. Do you agree with any of that?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not one word and I think Bakari is a very nice person, I'm thankful he's on the program tonight to offer his opinion.

SELLERS: Thank you. Thank you, Paris.

DENNARD: But -- you're very welcome.

But the thing about this is the he is the president whether Bakari likes it or not, he surprised the United States. He was elected by the people and what he did was in response to what Mr. Barr (ph) said about the president.

The other thing that is important to note is no one was claiming the president was racist when he actually intervened to help get these three African-American basketball players from UCLA out of this Chinese jail. So, either he's a racist for doing that or he's not.

I don't think that he is a racist. I know he's not a racist. And so, what we see here is an ungrateful father who is trying to get his 15 minutes of fame on the backs of the president where he should be grateful that his children aren't having 15 years or more in a Chinese prison.

So, at the end of the day, the president intervened like, he's done on several other occasions, to get these individuals who were out of this Chinese jail, back home. And so, on Thanksgiving Eve and on Thanksgiving, the Barr family and the rest of the other two young men are with their families at Thanksgiving, and they'll be with their families on Christmas. That's something they should be grateful for which they acknowledged and that's something that the father should also just be grateful to say thank you.

You don't have to shake his hand or meet him. You didn't even have to like him. Just to be gracious enough to say thank you.

And what President Trump did is respond to that man's, that father's comments about President Trump saying that he was essentially ungrateful and didn't think the president did anything to help him, which was untrue.

CUOMO: What are the timeline here, before anyone said anything, President Trump said I wonder if the basketball players will thank me. He was the first one who threw out the notion of whether they would thank him. The players all did thank first. It was LaVar Ball who did not.

Bakari, to Paris' point, you know, the president doesn't just lash out at African-Americans. There are plenty of people who the president has gone after that are white. So, how do you differentiate the two?

SELLERS: I mean, it's pretty clear. I mean, the president establishes these groups of people that he lashes out at. I mean, you have people that are in the establishment, quote-unquote, so the Jeff Flakes, the John McCains, everyone else. You have the media and then you have these other subjects. I mean, he lashes out at African- Americans.

For example, the clearest example of this is you had Eminem, for example, at the BET Awards. John, I don't know if you were watching the BET Awards, like the rest of us. However, Eminem went on this amazing rap that he went on that down the litany of reasons he disrespected and didn't like the president of the United States.

What has happened? The president did not respond.

The president had this tendency of -- has this tendency of not responding to people who simply look like him. I mean, this is not a -- this is not a difficult or something that is that is a controversy whatsoever.

The fact is the president United States picks these foils and many of these foils either fall in a few categories. They're Muslim, they're immigrant, they are establishment figures, which are elected officials, or they're African-American. And that's where LaVar Ball falls in the category.

This is not a controversial tactic and the reason he does is because he is waging this controversial divisive cultural wars which he feels as if he can win.

BERMAN: Paris, there was another aspect of wonder the president said. There was the it was me in all caps of that tweet, referring of course to himself. You know, is that the most gracious way you think that a president can act?

DENNARD: Well, I'll tell you what, if I was trying to soften relations or improve relations with North Korea and keep them from having a nuclear weapon and using my relationship with China to try to do that.

[20:10:09] And I went over there and advocated to get these three young men out of a Chinese jail and it was I came back and they were -- the father was being ungrateful. I would remind him who did it, too.

At the end of the day, the person who intervened was the president and the president is Donald J. Trump. It was him. It wasn't anybody else. It was him. He negotiated that that release and as he negotiated release of two other persons that we all know about, Otto and the Egyptian-American woman.

So, this is what he does and he deserves the credit. We don't want to give him credit when he deserves the credit, and in this instance, again, Thanksgiving Eve, tomorrow, those three young men will be with their families instead of sitting in a Chinese jail. The simple thing to do is to say thank you.

BERMAN: And the three men --

SELLERS: This is not -- this is not -- the biggest problem though John is that the president is so small. He's such a small individual that he wants to come down and he needs the adoration. He needs the adoration. He needs people to actually say, oh my god, you're the president of the United States, you're the 45th president of the United States.

I mean, that is such a small, small man, like know -- what the president should be doing and that's why I wanted hear Paris's response to any one else's response who thinks this is a good idea to actually show the contrast. What did Barack Obama do? What did George W. Bush? What did Bill Clinton do?

BERMAN: Let me ask -- let me ask Paris to respond to that.

SELLERS: They all did something vastly different than Paris -- than what Paris wants to say this president did the day before Thanksgiving.

BERMAN: Paris, respond to that specifically. You know, should the president be out on this Thanksgiving the day before you know at a soup kitchen with veterans, and the like?

DENNARD: Well, I don't know what the president is doing tomorrow, so we can see what he does tomorrow, we can see what he does the rest of the week, leading up into the holidays. But I do know the vice president of the United States was doing. He was actually with our wounded warriors and visiting our troops.

And I don't know what President Obama did during his first term as president. I don't recall what President George W. Bush during his first term as president before Thanksgiving, the day before.

But I do know what this president is doing, which is trying to get tax cuts for middle class Americans and small business owners, so that when they're talking around the Thanksgiving table, I wish that conversation would be about the tax cut that's coming to them that this Congress is going to vote on, and hoping to get that done by Christmas.

BERMAN: All right.

DENNARD: So, that's what this president is doing. He's doing things for the American people.

BERMAN: Paris Dennard, Bakari Sellers, thank you please both of you. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

DENNARD: Sure will.

SELLERS: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. So, what do voters in Alabama think about the president's support of accused child molester Roy Moore? For weeks, the White House said should be up to the people of Alabama. We will hear what some of them have to say, next.

And later, a dramatic escape caught in a security video. A North Korean soldier, a defector, makes a run for the South Korean side of the border through the DMZ. How that turned out when 360 continues.


[20:16:10] BERMAN: A day after the president came out against Doug Jones for Senate and therefore in support of Roy Moore, we wanted to find out how the voters in Alabama feel about the president's basic endorsement.

Gary Tuchman spoke with voters there. Here is what he found out.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the shopping mall in Gadsden, Alabama, where Roy Moore has been accused of looking for high school girls when he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s. It's where we came to talk to Alabama voters.

(on camera): Who you're voting for?


TUCHMAN: Do you know who you're going to vote for, Roy Moore or Doug Jones?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely not Roy Moore.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Shopper and voter Raysha Hufstetler says she doesn't want to publicly say which Senate candidate she supports.

(on camera): Donald Trump's words saying that Judge Roy Moore denies this and saying that he doesn't want a liberal in the seat, which is an implied endorsement of Roy Moore.

Do you feel that had any influence on how you're going to vote?


TUCHMAN: And why not? Why aren't the president's words influential to you?

HUFSTETLER: He doesn't run my choice. So, my choice is mine.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But President Trump statements are proving to be very influential to others.

(on camera): Do you know who you're going to vote for in the Senate election?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Faylin Dickerson says her support of the Democrats has been strengthened because of the president's words.

DICKERSON: I'm anti-Trump just to be honest with you. So, he's endorsing Roy Moore, and I just -- I don't feel like I want Roy Moore up there.

TUCHMAN: Onisha Bryar feels similarly.

(on camera): Does it disappoint you that President Trump said that?

ONISHA BRYAR, ALABAMA VOTER: Yes, it does. The other thing that comes out his mouth, it does.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Across from the mall, the waffle house, the president's words are also influential to customer Donald Mitchell.

(on camera): Who are you supporting in this race?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Influential because he very much appreciates the president's words.

(on camera): If he said I'm not supporting anyone in this race, or if he said I'm going to pick the Democrat over to accused child molester --

MITCHELL: If he won't support him, I'm going to change my opinion in it (ph).

TUCHMAN: Really?

MITCHELL: What Trump says pretty well, pretty well, I like him.

TUCHMAN: So, his word means a lot to you?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): His wife feels the same about what the president says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for him. And I trust him.

TUCHMAN: This Judge Moore supporter also trusts the president, but says he didn't need his guidance.

(on camera): If Donald Trump would have said I don't think you should vote for Roy Moore because these women may be telling the truth, would you have changed your vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, absolutely not.

TUCHMAN: So just helped solidify.


(END VIDEOTAPE) BERMAN: And Gary Tuchman joins us now,

Gary doing so much reporting down there in Alabama. In your travels, have you run into a significant number of undecided voters?

TUCHMAN: Well, John, minds certainly changed right after "The Washington Post" article was published. But we have found over the last couple of days very few people who say they're undecided. What we have found are, a lot of people who don't publicly wanted to tell us who they're voting for, like that woman in our story and they're not shy about telling us the reason. This is creating a lot of flights, a lot of commotion among friends and within families -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Gary Tuchman for us down in Alabama -- thanks so much.

Joining me now is Bill Britt, editor in chief of the "Alabama Political Reporter". Also with us, Jason Miller, Maria Cardona, and Alice Stewart.

Bill, we lean on you for the sense on the ground in Alabama the last hours since the president essentially came out in support of Roy Moore. Have you seen any change? What impact has it had?

BILL BRITT, EDITOR IN CHIEF, ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I think some impact. I don't think it has a great impact, but I think it's given those who were on the fence about Roy Moore, but still support the president. They can point to the president now and say, yes, I'm going to vote for Moore, because I voted for Trump. If he trusts Moore, I trust Moore.

BERMAN: Jason Miller, now, I know you actually disagree with your former boss the president on this point. You do not think he should have come out for Roy Moore, the way that he did yesterday.

[20:20:00] Now that he has, what's the risk reward for him?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, John to be clear the president didn't go out and officially endorse Roy Moore, and I would urge him not to. I mean, the fact of the matter is if somebody has asked the question of one in their 30s, they were hitting on high school students, regardless of their age and they can't give you a straight answer, then I don't think they have a place in the U.S. Senate.

But I think we're getting off track I think in this overall debate here is this isn't a binary choice between Roy Moore and Jones. The folks in Alabama could go to Moore and get him out of the race or Luther Strange who's in there temporarily right now in the U.S. Senate position could go and resign and force a different special election, the governor, there's some different mechanics that they should be going with here. I think those would be much smarter options. I think any of this talk about more winning and then trying to get rid of them once he gets to the Senate is silly. I mean, that's just never going to happen. But I think we're getting trapped into I think the Democrats talking two points here when we're making it a Moore versus Jones choice, and it doesn't have to be. But I would urge the president he doesn't need to get any further involved in this, he didn't back this candidate in the primary. He backed the guy with low-energy, Luther Strange, he lost and so, this isn't on him. Don't put yourself in that position to where you own anymore than you don't need to already.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, our reporting out of the White House is that the president was trying to send a clear message yesterday and he repeated again and again and again of Roy Moore. He denies that -- he denies everything and he went after the liberal Doug Jones. He didn't explicitly say I endorse Roy Moore, but he was sending a clear signal.

Alice, there's something else that happened interesting down in Alabama today, which is a communications director for Roy Moore, John Rogers, resigned. An aide is saying that Rogers, quote, didn't have the experience to deal with the level of scrutiny brought on by the national press.

Look, I have covered campaigns where both you and Jason have worked where there has been turnover in staff over the course of the campaign for two weeks now before election day. And generally speaking, not a good sign where there's upheaval two weeks before election day.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is really it's not unusual for turnover to happen, and this has been an abbreviated campaign. So, two weeks out, it's not unusual. I talked with folks at the campaign today and they say it was simply that, it was simply the volume of incoming for that position. It was just too much and they needed to make it change in that, and that's not unusual.

Look, I want to follow up on what Jason said. I do think it's important to recognize the fact that while the president stated that we need a Republican in that spot over a Democrat, that is so true. We needed a Republican senator from Alabama, but as Jason said, Roy Moore is not the only choice.

There is an opportunity for Republicans to get behind a write-in candidate. Luther Strange certainly would be the top choice at this point, to have someone that would be representative of the values and character of the Republican Party. I just don't think that Roy Moore suits that bill. But at the same time, if he's on the ballot and if the people of Alabama elect him, which it looks like that could possibly happen, I think having him go to the Senate and trying to keep him out of the Senate once he's been elected is a huge mistake.

If the people of Alabama speak and they want Roy Moore to be their senator then he should be their senator. But there's time now to take action to make sure that doesn't happen.

BERMAN: I just want to be clear. The president of the White House are not supporting option C, the one that you guys are both bringing up here. That's not what's being pushed by the White House. That's also not what is being pushed by anyone in Alabama. Kay Ivey, the governor, would be the one to do that. She's not doing is not actually happening right now.

But I hear you both pushing for it. I just don't think the White House is listening.

Maria Cardona to you. The Doug Jones campaign is doing something interesting and different over the last hours they went up yesterday with a television ad that directly goes after the issue and the allegations, the accusations against Roy Moore. And today, they started circulating a web-only ad and there have been those who've noted that they don't think that Doug Jones would be doing this unless he had to, before he's been trying to create some distance between himself in this scandal.

Is this a sign that you think he needs to do it?

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I actually think it's pretty smart because what he did at the beginning like you said is to kind of stay out of the way because this was such a dumpster fire debacle on behalf of the Roy Moore campaign.

But I do think that what he's doing now is he is putting out the message out there, not from his own words, not from any words that are coming from Democrats or liberals, but from the words of conservatives -- from the words of Republicans themselves, from the words of people frankly who are on this panel tonight who understand how horrible it would be for the Republican Party to have somebody like Roy Moore be elected to the U.S. Senate, to have somebody like Roy Moore, an alleged pedophile, be representative of the kind of party that they are all apart of.

And so, I do think it was smart of him. You know, who knows whether he's going to win or not, I think it will be incredibly difficult, but it does show that is a possibility, there are people in Alabama who are putting principle before party.

[20:25:00] BERMAN: Let me just say, Jason and Alice are not in the ads, at least not yet.

Bill, I want to get one more question to you down in Alabama. The RNC made clear today, as well as the Senate's Republican Senatorial Committee that they're not going to start putting money behind Roy Moore. They are continuing to withhold their endorsement. Is that something that you think he cares about in any way?

BRITT: Not really, I mean, this thing about the communications director. I mean, I know John Rogers. He's a gun guy. This is a war down here.

And the other thing is Kay Ivey cannot do the thing, that's incorrect. Only the Republican Party can decertify him.

And to think that Luther Strange can be a write-in candidate, my dog Lucy would get more votes. It's just not going to happen.

BERMAN: To be fair, Lucy is a shrewd political operator.


BERMAN: Bill Britt, Jason, Alice, thank you very much for being with us. Guys, stick around, we got a lot more to discuss tonight.

Up next, the salacious photo has another lawmaker answering questions tonight. What Congressman Joe Barton is saying about a naked selfie when 360 continues.


BERMAN: A new day, a new swirl of controversy on Capitol Hill. Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas is apologizing after a new photo of him went viral.

Sunlen Serfaty joins us with more.

So, what's going on here, Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Congressman Joe Barton is apologizing for this. But notably, he does not deny that the photos that surfaced on the Internet are legitimate, saying this is from a consensual relationship instead. The Congressman said in a statement tonight, "While separated from my second wife, prior to that divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women. Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I'm sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I'm sorry that I let my constituents down."

And just emphasizing here though, of course this is an allegation -- this is not an allegation of sexual harassment at all at this point, but these are incredibly lewd photos to have out there for a seating member of Congress, John.

BERMAN: I understand that it has -- I think Paul Ryan spoke to Congressman Barton about this?

SERFATY: OK, of course in the wake of all of this, the speaker and the Congressman had spoken, that was confirmed by a spokesperson. And Ashley Strong is saying nothing other than, "We will keep those conversations between the two of them."

Of course John not too hard to imagine what was discussed.

BERMAN: No, I'm sure they both want that conversation private. Finally the Congressman recently did announce his plans for re- election. Any reason to think the plans have changed?

SERFATY: For the moment no. He considers to plans to run for re- election, he says he's not re-signing from Congress and that's according to a PR company which he's now helping him deal with all of the fallout from all of this. But even though he is staying put certainly you can admit that there's only is a very significant cloud hanging over him right now.

BERMAN: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you very, very much. I want to bring our panel back in, all whom could not be more thrilled to discuss these photos. Alice, it is interesting, you know, is this a scandal or is this just flat out embarrassing?

ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: OK, it's embarrassing. I think he handled it right to come out and say, look, you know, those are my picture, I'm sorry, it was poor judgment and he explained exactly at timeframe that this happened when he was separated from his wife. I think it was very important for him to -- to also stress that this was in a consensual relationship with a mature woman, to do away with any kind concerns that it may be with someone under age. And I don't see this is disqualifying in any way, shape or form, it's not anywhere near the same realm as a lot of these other scandals that we've been talking about such as Roy Moore and Conyers.

Look, I think this is a note to many people out there, men and women included, hell have no furry like a scorn woman in possession of a naked selfie. So note to self, go erase all those photos if you have any.

BERMAN: They've been saying that for centuries, Alice. Maria, it was interesting, you look in a statement that the words that jump out, were mature adult woman, consensual, more than anything else, it just seems like that's a sign of a times, that something that might only happen in this week in November 2017.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That's right, John. And I'm sorry can we just take a step back here. I mean we're upon the Thanksgiving and then Christmas holidays, and we are talking about pedophiles, perverts and private parts. I mean let's take this time as we go into the holiday season with friends with family to figure out what is it that we want to represent as a country. If we're going into public office, who is it that we want to be to our constituents. What kind of judgment are we ready to make and to display. We need to be better than this. This is the greatest and strongest and best country in the world. People give their lives to try to come here. Let's be who that country is.

We are not being who that country is exemplified by the person who was elected as president of the United States one year ago. And I think all of this is not a coincidence coming from that faithful day.

BERMAN: Well, look first of all Joe Barton, just on Joe Barton. I don't think he wanted to display any of this, nobody intended to his constituents in last in the (INAUDIBLE) ago or part of his district. He -- but I do understand your point, is the different case that we would saying very much, to be other things that have been going on which in some ways are bipartisan, right?

Today we learn John Conyers of course more developments with John Conyers says Gregory Meeks a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, a senior member of Foreign Affairs told me and Poppy Harlow earlier today, that he thinks John Conyers should step down as the ranking member of Judiciary.

Another Democrat Kathleen Rice said tonight, that he thinks that John Conyers leave Congress all together. So Jason, we are seeing members in both parties in some cases taking strong stances against their own.

JASON MILLER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TRUMP TRANSITION: Well John, these are very troubling allegations and I think there's really a bigger thing going on, and that's the fact that Congress has been using tax payer money to settle some of these suits. And I think that something that's really might be the -- one the biggest scandal going on here. And I think the Congress needs to get its house and order and really figure how to deal with this. I'd also caution my Republican friends out there not to rush too much into this John Conyers situation because we don't know what Republicans on the Hill are going to get swept into this next week.

[20:35:03] But going back to a point Maria said a moment ago were really -- the night before Thanksgiving, taking a step back and really what's going on with the country and why are we seeing so much of this out there. Maybe the fact that we're talking about, people taking pictures the night and all this different things the night before Thanksgiving really seems like we going to hit the skids when it comes to the new cycle. So I hope everyone has a chance to spend time with their family and their loved ones tomorrow, and have some turkey and, you know, deal with all this other stuff and come back to Washington next week.

BERMAN: The new cycle didn't take the photos and, you know, cycle, you know, also didn't make the allegations against John Conyers and what not. This is something that's very much happening in Congress right now. And Congress is very much dealing with. And I will say, I -- for both Democrats and Republicans talk about Congress, how it believes itself the idea that tax payer money is being used to fix this.

Alice, I've heard so much outrage the last few days, it makes me think this should be something that is fixed quickly. You know, whenever I think that about something that Congress is facing it never quite works out the way you think it might.

STEWART: No. And it should be put on the fast track without a doubt. Look, what we heard with regard to Conyers is that this has happened over many, many, many years. And people have tried to report this and it has been swept under the rug. But I think while the allegations against him of his sexual harassment and the things he did to these women are very troubling and many say of them say, he is habitual offender, that is troubling.

But to know, as we said that tax payer money has been used to pay off this people and to keep them (INAUDIBLE). And another big concern I think that should be addressed when we're talking about this with regard to paying off these people, is when these people get to these contracts they are required to keep silent. They have a nondisclosure agreement with that, and the problem with that is that keeps their secrets with them.


STEWART: And they are not able to use that information later if another case comes up. So it's just a self-fulfilling perpetual problem, while we're having tax payer money use to pay off these people and to be silent, we're never going get to the bottom --


BERMAN: Exactly, what did this legislation, if people on both sides of the isle want to get pass by now, let's see if it happens. You know, Jason, Maria, Alice thanks for being with us. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you

STEWART: Thanks, you too John.

BERMAN: May your cellphones bring you nothing but, you know, pure PG joy. Thanks guys.

CARDONA: Thank you, happy Thanksgiving.

BERMAN: All right, back to our top story. The President's Twitter feud with LaVar Ball, the fact that the president just can't seem to let any perceive slight go. We're going to hear from two men who know him well. He's biographer Michael D'Antonio and Tony Schwartz, the ghost writer of the "Art of the Deal".


[20:41:31] BERMAN: Back to our top story tonight, the President's pre-thanksgiving tweet storm targeting LaVar Ball, the father of one of the UCLA basketball players who was arrested for shoplifting in China. The tweets are really classic President Trump responding to a perceived snub with words of betrayal and degradation. He has proven time and time again that he really won't let these kinds of feuds go.

Joining me now President Trump's biographer Michael D'Antonio author of the "Truth About Trump" and Tony Schwartz, ghost writer of "The Art of the Deal" and contributor to the "Dangerous Case of Donald Trump".

And Tony I want to start with you and your reaction when you read what the President wrote this morning about LaVar Ball. What is it about LaVar Ball that bothers the president so much? Is it what he said or as some are alleging, how he looks?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, ART OF THE DEAL: Both. So, first of all his father is a tall black man and I think Trump is half blood and half frightened by black people. And his only way of dealing with them is to attack them. And, on the other hand I think he has a zero tolerance for any criticism of any kind, that's why he goes after anybody who says virtually anything about him that's negative.

BERMAN: Odd and afraid of black people. That's a big statement based right there based on what?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I mean I watched him. I mean he was odd, an adequately (ph) odd during the many times I saw him with, you know, members of the team that he owned in the UCFL and when he sponsored fight, prize fights. I think he had this kind of ambivalent relationship where he wished he could have been an athlete like they were. And on the other hand, if he felt fear he always felt aggression. And aggression was -- and a need to put them down. BERMAN: You know, Michael, you see him in these battles, will he ever stop fighting? Once he picks that and he would talk about how he does a certain kind of enemy shopping, will he ever let up?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, DONALD TRUMP'S BIOGRAPHER: Well, he does shop for enemies. I think what Tony said was correct, that there are these dual motivations on his part. On the one hand it is racial, on the other hand he's very thin skin. But I think that we have to notice who he responds to. And he will go after someone who he can frame perfectly, often for his base.

So, in this case, this is yet another member of the black community, also someone connected to the world of sports. He initiated a lot of the pure over the pledge -- I mean the Star-Spangled Banner protest because it was black athletes. I didn't see he ever actually went after any of the white players who knelt in solidarity with their black teammates. So, there is this desire I think to find the right person to go after who fits a certain template. He doesn't go after little guys who happen to be white, quite, I've notice that.

He kind of leave those folks alone. And if he can pick out a target who is different from him and who is base male so resent, that's the person he'll go after.

[20:45:02] BERMAN: During the campaign I mean he went after Jeb Bush plenty, I mean with -- it's low energy Jeb, and, you know, Rand Paul he said was funny looking, there was lyin' Ted Cruz and then of course --

SCHWARTZ: These were people who was running against for president.

BERMAN: OK, but it was in a setting where he talked about I mean and it weren't African-American, so that was, you know, a bit of another thing. I want to ask about the Trump brand if I can, because we learned tonight that the Trump organization is severing ties or being severed with the Trump SoHo a hotel downtown, extensively because the deal is not going the way they want it to right now. And they just does beg the question. Do you think that the Trump brand has suffered? Does the show that the brand as a business has suffered during the presidency?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I mean I think there is no question that it suffered and that it's been split down the middle, just as America has. And those who support Trump would continue to, you know, be inclined to go to his hotels and use his golf courses. And the rest of the country is very disinclined to do that.

You know, what I'm actually really struck by about Trump is how aggressively he's moved toward kind of an authoritarian perspective. The biggest fear I have is not whether he tweets about people but it's about whether he moves in the direction of a dictator. You know, I have a dance teacher whose name Dimitri (ph) who is Russian and he's my touch stone. And he refers to Trump as a kind of a poor man's Putin. And I, you know, Trump I think models himself after Putin. And the problem is that we don't have anybody to model ourselves after in this country right now. You need people to idealize. You need role models and you watch what happening I think especially to the male psyche right now, in the absence of anything to -- that you can idealize and it's troubled, and scary and frightening.

BERMAN: Tony Schwartz, Michael D'Antonio, let me just say Happy Thanksgiving completely in a vacuum of anything else going on around this. Thank you gentlemen for being with us, I appreciate it.

D'ANTONIO: Thanks John.

BERMAN: All right, the stunning escape caught on video, a North Korean soldier brazenly runs for the border across within the South Korea and comes under heavy gun fire from his former comrades in the north. Amazingly that affect he survived several gunshot wounds. How all this played out, minute by minute, next.


[20:51:03] BERMAN: A daring escape from North Korea is caught on video. A 24-year-old soldier abandoned his post, he decides to flee and across the boarder in the South Korea. And all this played out over a few minutes about nine days ago. Tom Foreman with the minute by-minute breakdown.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 3:11 in the afternoon the military truck driven by the North Korean defector appears on this security video shot from South Korea. He is speeding along a tree- lined road. And by 3:13 he reaches a lone building, believed to be a security checkpoint a half mile from the line he must cross to reach safety. There he briefly slows down before speeding away with what appears to be a guard dashing into the road behind him.

Less than a minute later the drivers passes a statute of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung and turned sharply right headed directly for South Korea. 3:14, North Korean guards and the border complex race out of a main building and a guard tower clearly in pursuit of the vehicle. At least four are chasing after the fleeing man on foot, all are armed. 3:15, the vehicle comes to a stop on the west side of the complex amidst some trees and bushes, the driver jumps out and runs. The North Korean soldiers appear only two seconds and a half dozen steps behind him.

As one appears to trip and fall, the others begin shooting at the defector as he crosses the military line of demarcation, one even briefly dashes across the line himself in pursuit before they all fall back into North Korea and disappear.

From the time they first realize the man was on the run to his crossing the freedom has taken about three minutes. But he's paid a price. 3:43, video shows the man lying motionless in leaves along side a low wall. Doctors will later say he was shot at least four times with significant damage to his left arm and his intestines. He also lost half of his blood. 3:55, on infrared images, two South Korean soldiers are seen crawling to the wounded man while an officer stands guard. Then he is dragged away. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Officials say this 24-year-old soldier whose family name was Oh was already not in the best of health, they found numerous parasites in his body associated with malnutrition, but he's had several surgeries. They now say he is recovering and communicating and, of course, intelligence officials are very interested in everything he can tell them about his life in North Korea. John?

BERMAN: All right, Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

Up next, Anderson and Anthony Bourdain chat about a new episode of "Parts Unknown".


[20:57:42] BERMAN: A new episode of "Parts Unknown" airs this Sunday night. Anthony Bourdain talked about with Anderson recently at New York restaurant called Chop Chop. Take a look.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The next show is in Southern Italy?

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": Yes, specifically in the hill of the boot in the regions of Apulia and Basilicata.

COOPER: And Apulia, I've heard this incredible beautiful, they're now allow the tourist go there?

BOURDAIN: Apulia, traditionally a very poor at a relative Arab area, it got olives, a lot of olive oil region, fishing, but neglected by the central government. The history as much of Italy history have invasion, domination by other powers outside of what is now Italy. A lot of different dialects and languages spoken there.

COOPER: Right.

BOURDAIN: Very old culture. Basilicata, beautiful, it came a lot of biblical epics there because it looks like, you know, Palestine and during biblical times, a lot of -- a lot of films shot there.

And also where Francis Ford Coppola, the great director where his people from his father side came from.

COOPER: I don't know.

BOURDAIN: Is actually peasant farmers in the fields.

COOPER: And this is us.

BOURDAIN: Yes, it is.


BOURDAIN: Good, it makes me happy to have you (ph). But, you know, Coppola is famously reticent to talk his films, particularly the Godfather. If for some reason he really open in a way that I'd never seen, he talk that length about his childhood, his families history. His sense of discomfort --


BOURDAIN: -- and shame.

COOPER: So (INAUDIBLE) in the episode.



BOURDAIN: And he talked over an incredible meal at this beautiful hotel in the court yard, his kids and grandchildren running around. He talked in length about his childhood and his sense of shame after the Godfather became an unexpected hit.

COOPER: Why shame?

BOURDAIN: You'll have to watch the episode.



BERMAN: Anderson can't stop eating. Tune in for "Parts Unknown" Sunday night at 9:00.

Thank you so much for watching 360 tonight, we hope you have a happy, happy Thanksgiving. I'm John Berman.

[21:00:02] The CNN Special Report: Secret Steak Inside North Korea, starts right now.