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Les Moonves Forced to Resign Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations; Serena Williams Fined $17,000 for Code Violations; Serena Williams Accuses Umpire for Sexism After Game Penalty; Hurricane Florence Strengthening, Targeting East Coast; Trump Insists White House Running Smooth Ahead of Bob Woodward Book Release. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired September 10, 2018 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- Trump insisting no chaos in the White House, as Bob Woodward's book "Fear" is hours away from hitting store shelves. This, as top administration officials try to combat the bombshell "New York Times" op-ed, that anonymous one, and the shouts of it wasn't me are ringing louder and louder, and the vice president even says he's willing to take a lie detector test to prove that he didn't write it.

Also this morning, Les Moonves is out at CBS. The powerful network CEO resigning amid sexual assault and harassment allegations from 12 women who have now come forward.

But first let's begin with Hurricane Florence. Let's go to Chad Myers in the Severe Weather Center.

Chad, what are we looking at? I know we're, you know, still a few days away from it making landfall but a cat 3 or cat 4, it's very serious.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You bet it is. Because of the bubble of water that will be under that storm when it makes landfall. We call it storm surge. It's what happened to Katrina, even though Katrina wasn't a cat 5 making landfall. It was hours before the landfall and that bubble of water under that category 5 hurricane was tremendous. Ask the people in Bay, St. Louis or Gulfport all the way over to Dolphin Island.

That's the 20-foot storm surge that just rolled right onshore because of how strong this storm was prior in its life. And that's what we're going to have right here. By Wednesday night, it's 150-mile-per-hour storm. The water is warm. There's not a lot of shear. We are going to build this into a major hurricane. The computer models now trending slightly farther to the north than they were yesterday but still Charleston, you are not out of the woods by any means because once it gets to land, it's actually going to stop.

And when it stops, it is going to make tremendous amounts of rainfall, could be 20 to 30 inches of rain and then with Harvey we had 60 inches of rain but this is more topographic. This is going to cause more flooding because of the rivers and streams and the like. Now the sun is finally up over the Atlantic Ocean for today and we'll

show you what's going on because there's not only Florence. There's more to think about. Not to worry about, just to think about. We already have Isaac, Florence and, there you go, Helene there just off the coast of Africa. So a very busy season. In fact, this is the busiest day on record for hurricane season. September 10th.

That's the normal day of the busiest hurricane events and one more for you waking up now just out in Hawaii. Yes, there's a storm for you. It will be a tropical storm. There will be tropical storm warnings coming onshore for all the islands. Here's Olivia. Right now it's a category 1 hurricane -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow. All right. Watching it on all fronts, Chad. Thank you. We'll come back to you a lot over the next few days.

Let's go to where this is all happening. States of emergency have already been declared. You can see, look, I mean, people are buying batteries, buying water, taking everything they can off store shelves.

Let's go to Wilmington, North Carolina, where this is happening. Our Kaylee Hartung is there.

The residents are taking this very, very seriously and they're getting ready.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Poppy. You know, we haven't seen anybody going to the lengths of boarding up their homes yet but plywood among the items that's coming off the shelves in local hardware stores and home improvement stores. Plywood and generators. Though many people in the surrounding beaches of Wilmington, North Carolina, tell me they've invested in storm shutters. They know the risks of living along the coast.

Some stores, though, cannot restock the hurricane essentials fast enough. This grocery store behind me, they ran out of their water supply yesterday, well before the store closed. They told me they would be restocking overnight, but that hasn't happened yet. The shelves are still empty because the truck bringing in those supplies of water hasn't arrived yet.

We've seen shelves clearing as far south as Savannah, Georgia, through the Carolina coast and into Virginia. Water and bread, of course, among the first items that people are grabbing.

You mentioned, Poppy, a state of emergency already declared in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. I'm told very important decisions will be made by local officials and state officials this morning, as they look to get their resources allocated and in place.

HARLOW: OK. Kaylee, keep an eye on it for us. Thank you very much for the reporting. We'll come back to you as well.

Now let's go to Washington where President Trump is launching new attacks in the Bob Woodward book. Why? Because it is set to hit store shelves in hours. Meaning tomorrow morning. Defending what he calls a smooth-running White House, that's what the president is doing this morning. As for that anonymous "New York Times" opinion piece, well, he is alleging an active resistance within the administration.

The White House is said to have narrowed the search for the writer. But who is it?

Let's go to our Abby Phillips, she joins me outside of the White House this morning.

Abby, you had a chance to speak to the president's counselor, Kellyanne Conway, and she just told you something interesting about how involved or not involved she is in the search for the op-ed author.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. We've been talking a lot in the last few days about the search for the op-ed writer and we know President Trump is getting increasingly irritated, considering asking his attorney general to investigate.

But we asked Kellyanne Conway this morning about whether she was involved in that search and if they were coming any closer to finding that person. She would not answer whether they were getting any closer to finding them but she made it very clear she was not in involved in any way in the search.

[09:05:06] Meanwhile, over the weekend we had Vice President Mike Pence offering himself up to be sat down with a lie detector test to prove he wasn't the person behind that op-ed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Should all top officials take a lie detector test and would you agree to take one?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would agree to take it in a heartbeat and would submit to any review of the administration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the claims made in the op-ed is that there has been discussion of invoking the 25th Amendment to even remove the president from office. Have you ever been part of a conversation about that?

PENCE: No, never. And why would we be?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: It seems right now senior administration officials are really falling over themselves, trying to make it clear they're not the ones behind it, trying to make it clear that they are loyal to this president. But it doesn't seem that we're getting any closer to knowing exactly who that person is or even what criteria the administration would use to find them.

Meanwhile, the president is spending a lot of his time over the weekend and today defending himself, defending his record and calling his White House a smooth-running machine -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Abby for us at the White House. Thanks for all the reporting.

With me now to talk about all of it, our senior political analyst and anchor John Avlon, and from "The New York Times," CNN political analyst Alex Burns.

Good morning, gentlemen.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

HARLOW: John, to you, I mean, the president going as far as -- to say publicly, when reporters asked him, that yes, he thinks Jeff Sessions should investigate, to use the Department of Justice resources to investigate who within the administration wrote this. Is that for real or is that just sort of PR, a clever way to try to fight this, make some headlines?

AVLON: Look, I'm sure the president would like to see an internal investigation, whether Justice decides to launch it and under what criteria this is --

HARLOW: They say national security. Could Justice -- can you see them actually launching an investigation into this when no national security --

AVLON: Short answer, no.

HARLOW: OK.

AVLON: The reason they keep invoking national security is the traditional law that administrations invoke when they're on leak hunts is the Espionage Act of 1917. So they've got to shoe hornet into that parameter to have that fit. But there's no indication in the op-ed that anything resembling like classified information or national security was revealed. So that's the peg they're going for and that's why they keep invoking it as they try to keep this -- you know, this hunt on.

HARLOW: So when it comes to, Alex, the Woodward book, OK, fascinating piece on CBS Sunday morning yesterday with Bob Woodward, his first interview. Let's listen to part of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE: You look at the operation of this White House and you have to say, let's hope to God we don't have a crisis. This one was in the belly of the beast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did you conclude about the beast?

WOODWARD: That people better wake up to what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: OK. But here is how Kellyanne Conway yesterday with Jake Tapper put it all. She basically said it doesn't matter because the economy is good. Let's hear her in her own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Hey, Bob, it doesn't really matter what you write in the book because the economy is doing so well. We're doing great in terms of bringing peace, not war around the globe, the regulation is down --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: But if the president wanted to talk to Woodward --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: And the president says that's the real story. That's the greatest story not told.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: I mean, the argument, she was paraphrasing the president there, is who cares, the economy will carry the day.

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the White House is making a range of sort of shifting opportunistic arguments about this book, right? There's that it's fiction, there's that the people who leaked to this book, apparently not leaking fiction, ought be ashamed of themselves, there's that none of it matters because the economy is the only thing that matters.

None of this is responsive to the stuff in the book that, you know, if you trust Bob Woodward is pretty serious and if you are someone who is interacting with the administration at all has the clear ring of truth to it. So, look, as a political proposition, if Kellyanne Conway and other White House advisers want us to sort of wave their hands at this and say this won't affect anything because of the economy, that's a legitimate political bet to make. But in terms of credibility and in terms of facts it's not really responsive to the situation.

HARLOW: Also factually speaking, John, if there were nothing to see here and this, you know, doesn't matter to voters at all, as she's saying, the president's poll numbers would be much higher with an economy doing this well. History has always proven out that way until now.

AVLON: That's exactly right. At this point in his term, lowest approval rating with the lowest unemployment rate. These two things usually dovetail together. But it's the best argument they got. As Alex just pointed out, what we're seeing here is this spaghetti strategy from the White House. They are just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. And their hope is, is look, as long as the economy does well, people will not focus on what's going on behind the curtain in the Oval Office.

But the problem for them is the op-ed and the Woodward book line up with months and months of reporting and even, you know, members of the Senate like, you know, Senator Corker saying it's adult daycare time.

[09:10:03] So this is not surprising. It's just that a lot of folks have been afraid to say that loud. Now it's hitting a critical mass.

HARLOW: And Corker is open to saying it and has been saying it because he's not running again. But then you also have people like Ben Sasse.

AVLON: Oh, yes.

HARLOW: Fascinating interview with Jake Tapper yesterday morning and he was highly critical of the party as a whole. Not just the White House but the party as a whole. Let's listen to the senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: I'm committed to the party of Lincoln and Reagan as long as there's a chance to reform it. But this party used to be for some pretty definable stuff. And frankly neither of these parties are for very much more than being anti.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He also said, Alex, and I'm paraphrasing, he wakes up every morning, every morning, and thinks about potentially becoming an independent and leaving the Republican Party. But the apt question that Jake asked him out of it is what are you doing about it, right? What is he doing about it?

BURNS: No, and this is the -- this is the question that's very, very tough for a lot of the president's critics in Congress, within his own party to answer which is you do have power as a senator to, you know, exercise your leverage, obstruct his agenda --

HARLOW: He's on the Judiciary.

BURNS: Right.

HARLOW: Banking, Armed Services Committees. He is powerful.

BURNS: And, you know, look, there are folks on the Democratic side on the left who's sort of have this view that unless you become a Democrat, you're not doing anything. And I don't really think that that's a realistic political expectation but, you know, if you're somebody who believes, as some of these senators clearly do, that we're living through a national emergency, that the president is out of control or that your party is, you know, off the rails, you know, shouldn't you be talking about it every single day or do you just want to talk about it when it's sort of politically convenient to get you in the headlines?

AVLON: And I think it's important because Sasse is going to stay in the Senate. Corker and Flake are leaving.

HARLOW: Exactly. AVLON: McCain has passed. So the mantle kind of passes to Sasse.

And he speaks for a lot of folks who feel politically homeless, who say, look, I joined the party of Lincoln and Reagan and we're not seeing that. But a lot of senators have Stockholm syndrome because Trump is so popular with the Republican conservative populist base so a voice like Sasse's becomes even more important.

Now the best-case scenario was more senators will actually grow spines and start acting like a co-equal branch of government which is what he's calling for, but also some of them, declare their independence and start acting across party lines. But that's going to be Sasse following up the rhetoric with votes that reflect his reality.

HARLOW: Your thought, and what would that look like to act? I mean, it's not like he's going to vote against Kavanaugh, for example, right? But what would acting, you know, standing up to the president and acting it and taking action look like for Sasse?

BURNS: Well, we don't have a great model for it, except maybe John McCain. Right? That he's somebody who took some really big votes on --

HARLOW: On health care.

BURNS: On health care and on some nominations. Right?

HARLOW: Yes.

BURNS: You know, not a Supreme Court nomination, but on a series of nominations where he really demonstrated clear independence. I do think it's important to note that, you know, Sasse, Corker, Flake and Senator McCain were all clearly in the minority in their own party. Not just within the Senate but in the country. Right? There's one thing to take away from primary season on the Republican side this year is that Republican voters are not feeling what Ben Sasse is feeling.

AVLON: That's fine. But is there anything more, you know, blind than my party right or wrong? That's exactly what we elect senators to do, is to be an independent conscience of the nation and to vote on principle at least as much as pure politics. So, you know, if it's simply rhetoric, if it's simply a couple of Sasse tweets then he's missing the opportunity of leadership because the mantle has really fallen to him with the passing of these other folks.

HARLOW: Gentlemen, thank you. Good to have you both. Appreciate it.

A lot ahead for us this hour. Still to come, a titan in the television industry is out this morning. CBS CEO Les Moonves stepping down amid new sexual misconduct and harassment allegations.

Also this story out of Dallas. The police officer -- the police there arrest one of their own. This is the officer who is charged with manslaughter this morning after shooting one of her neighbors and killing him, an unarmed black man, in his own apartment. What his family is calling for this morning. And Serena Williams fined thousands of dollars, penalized a game point

over an outburst with an umpire during the U.S. Open final. Now Serene calls it blatant sexism. Her male tennis stars are coming to back her up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00] HARLOW: "Cbs" Chief Executive Les Moonves forced out this morning, a major headline in the face of new sexual misconduct allegations -- sexual misconduct and abuse allegations. He is the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to lose his job because of these allegations sparked in the wake of the Me Too movement.

His departure comes as the number of women accusing him of abuse and harassment has grown to 12. Earlier this morning, "Cbs" this morning's Norah O'Donnell addressed his departure, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS: For me it's been another sleepless night, thinking about this, the pain that women feel, the courage that it takes for women to come forward. There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic and it is pervasive in our culture.

And this, I know, is true to the core of my being. Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: There was no apology in his statement from Les Moonves. He did say that he was saddened to leave the company and claimed the allegations against him are untrue. Speaking this morning to "Good Morning America", one of his accusers called out Moonves denials and called him an outright lie. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHYLLIS GOLDEN-GOTTLIEB, LES MOONVES' ACCUSER: That's a joke, it's so bad. Of course he did. I mean, I -- he took my whole career right after he appeared naked, he came running into my office and did this whole thing about -- that I didn't send the memo to anybody, and then he picked me up and threw me against the wall.

I mean, I just lay on the floor and cried. I mean, i didn't know what was going to happen to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Cnn media correspondent Brian Stelter, not only is with me, he broke the news yesterday when this happened. No apology, and women like that saying he threw me against the wall.

[09:20:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: This is ultimately a story about power, also about money, we'll get to that in a minute. But the power here is extraordinary. Two things are true at the same time. Moonves was an accomplished, acclaimed television executive.

But according to these women, he abused that power. He used that power in some cases to deny women jobs if they turned him down. And Farrow's reporting in the "New Yorker", posted on the website this time yesterday was deeply disturbing.

Now, this was his second story. Now, there were two in a row, one in July which prompted internal investigations at "Cbs", but frankly, kind of a slow investigation, we still haven't seen the results. So as a result, more women, including the one we just heard from decided to also speak on the record with their own accounts of Moonves --

HARLOW: And really articulate exactly what they say he had done to them. I mean, this one --

STELTER: Yes --

HARLOW: Is really what turned the page. Within hours, Moonves was out.

STELTER: Yes.

HARLOW: You talk about money, an 8K filing, right? Because this is a publicly-traded company --

STELTER: Yes --

HARLOW: That just came out. What do we know about what money he may leave with?

STELTER: The amount of money is what makes this Me Too case different from all the others. Moonves was owed $180 million if he was just forced out for no good reason yesterday. Now, obviously, the company feels it has a good reason to break with him and to have him leave effective immediately.

But right now, $120 million is in a pot on the table. It's going to be put in a trust. And once those law firms finish the investigation, then the "Cbs" board of directors will decide if Moonves gets the money.

Whether he's fired for cause, which means they don't have to pay him or whether they decide, hey, maybe he does -- maybe these allegations didn't add up, maybe for some reason we feel he does -- is owed the money. Ultimately, Poppy, this is going to be litigated, this is going to be argued about in arbitration --

HARLOW: Right --

STELTER: For months. But Moonves could make up to $120 million.

HARLOW: Brian Lowry, our colleague and our -- who covers this industry as well for CnnMoney, you know, in the headline this morning at the beginning of this piece, it's like a head falling off Mount Rushmore. STELTER: It really is, yes, you know, it's the equivalent of Matt

Lauer in "Morning TV, that was a shock to the country last year. Now, this is the corporate equivalent of that. The most acclaimed executive, arguably the most powerful man in the entertainment industry now leaving his job now.

He'll say this is a corporate coup, that this was about backroom dealings and it wasn't about --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Well, look, he even had a big fight with Shari Redstone --

STELTER: Yes --

HARLOW: For control of the company, the future of the company, right?

STELTER: Yes, and that is real and that's now been settled as a result of this. I think both things are true to some degree. Yes, this was a corporate tug of war, but at the same time these allegations reported by Ronan Farrow were deeply disturbing.

And finally, these women who say that he behaved inappropriately, finally they have a moment of justice.

HARLOW: What about internally what's going on at "Cbs", this investigation? Because there was Charlie Rose, Les Moonves, there have been questions about Jeff Fager, who heads up "60 Minutes" and sort of, you know, he's back from vacation. But there had been questions about -- at least investigation into what he knew.

STELTER: That's right, and Moonves is not the only person accused in Farrow's stories for the "New Yorker". Fager stands accused of making unwanted advances and creating a toxic environment at "60 Minutes", I think everybody loves --

HARLOW: Which he has denied, it's the most best-known news magazine in America. Fager has staunches in either claims against him. But "Cbs" fell that it couldn't do anything about the other claims against other people until it dealt with Moonves.

You know, if you have a problem at the top, you can't do anything about the lower ranks until you deal with the top. So now that Moonves has stepped down, we may see updates, we may see movement on some of the other issues inside "Cbs". And frankly, this company, which has been so embarrassed by this scandal would desperately like to move on.

HARLOW: And what about finally for these women, for these 12 women who have come forward, what does justice look like for them?

STELTER: I think 11 months after the Harvey Weinstein reporting at the beginning of this movement, we are seeing just how powerful this movement is. This as you said, the first Fortune 500 CEO to leave amid Me Too allegations. It is a testament to what's changed in this country, hopefully, permanently. HARLOW: Brian, thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

HARLOW: Again, Brian broke the story yesterday, a huge fallout. Ahead for us, Serena Williams now facing a big fine for her altercation with the chair judge at the U.S. Open. And some of the men in her sport, some of the biggest names in men's tennis speaking out in her defense, where does this go from here? That's next.

[09:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All right, so this morning, Serena Williams is fined as the tennis world and beyond battle what she calls blatant sexism after she lost the U.S. Open final to Japan's Naomi Osaka. Williams was fined $17,000 for three-code violations, and it has caused an uproar in the tennis world and far beyond.

Here is what happened. She was warned by the chair umpire Carlos Ramos after he said that her coach was giving her hand signals from the stands which is considered illegal coaching. She said that wasn't the case at all, she later slammed her racket in frustration, that was another automatic violation.

And because of the earlier strike against her, she was deducted a point, well, that led to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS PLAYER: I have never cheated in my life! I have a daughter and I stand what's right for her and I've never cheated. You owe me an apology! You're a thief, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Serena was watching her coach give her hand signals. So she screamed I would never have cheated, she called the ump a thief, she was penalized an entire game for what the ump said was verbal abuse. She lost what could have been her 24th Grand Slam title.

After the match, Serena claimed a double standard, she said a male player would never have been treated this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality, and for all kinds of stuff --