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Will President Trump Be An Asset Or Liability For Candidates In November?; CBS Chief Les Moonves Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Claims; Hurricane Florence On Track To Hit East Coast As Major Hurricane Later This Week. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 10, 2018 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:30:00] REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), CHAIR, NEW DEMOCRATIC COALITION, MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: -- was once an exemplar of moral probity in the Oval Office. But look, you shouldn't -- you shouldn't regard that as surprising when the Democrats don't have a president or a presidential candidate out there.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Democratic Congressman Jim Himes from Connecticut. Thanks so much for being with us -- appreciate it.

HIMES: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, John.

A top Trump administration officials acknowledging Republican anxieties ahead of the midterms. What are they so worried about? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Two Republican leaders caught on tape discussing their anxiety about Republican chances for the midterms and admitting that President Trump's style could be hurting them.

Joining us now to talk about this and more we have CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, back from her world travels that I hope everybody was following on Twitter -- I mean, on Instagram. It was phenomenal, Ana.

And, former campaign -- Trump campaign strategist and now CNN political commentator, David Urban. I haven't been monitoring your every movement but I'm sure it's also glamorous, David.

All right, David, here is what Mick Mulvaney, the federal budget director, was caught on this audiotape saying to a room full of Republican leaders. This is behind closed doors, but "The New York Times" obtained the audio.

I'll read it to you.

He says, "You may hate the president, and there's a lot of people who do, but they certainly like the way the country is going. If you figure out a way to subtract from that equation how they feel about the president, the numbers go up dramatically."

Is that what you do, David? You subtract your feelings -- your personal feelings about the president in order to support him?

[07:35:00] DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: No, Alisyn, listen. Alisyn, that's not -- that's not the case at all. Listen, as you and your viewers all know, I'm a very vocal and ardent supporter of this president.

But what I think Dir. Mulvaney is talking about is just general historical trends in midterm elections. As you well know, no president does well and this president may actually, for the first time --

CAMEROTA: Yes, but he's speaking specifically about his feelings about this president.

URBAN: He may actually feel -- he may -- well, listen -- no.

Alisyn, you could say the same about President Obama. President Obama is out there beating the tocsin for his -- for his -- you know, his side to get out. And yet, when he was president, he got drubbed. President Bush before him got drubbed. President Clinton got drubbed.

If you go back to an unmodern president they all get drubbed.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I hear you but I don't think any people in their party would have said it because they hated those men.

URBAN: Well, why do you think -- listen, I said that, you know -- and I said this yesterday and I've said it repeatedly. If President Obama is so shocked about why the electorate turned or voted for President Trump, all he needs to do is look in the mirror. I mean, his presidency and his administration were the cause for the rise of the electorate in supporting of President Trump.

I mean, it's pretty simple and so -- and so for folks not --

CAMEROTA: I understand. Listen, every election is a reaction to the one before that. I understand that.

URBAN: Right, absolutely.

CAMEROTA: But it sounds like they're saying something specific about people's deep personal feelings about Donald Trump.

URBAN: Well, I think people's personal feelings about Barack Obama is what led to historic losses for him in the midterms as well.

CAMEROTA: OK. All right.

Ana, should Republicans be nervous about what's going to happen in the midterms?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, everybody should be nervous. I'm -- you know, I'm of a school of thought that there's only one way to run if you're running for political office and it's scared, and it's hard, and it's intensely.

This has been a political cycle that has been and continues to be unpredictable. There is no doubt that the passions that Donald Trump promotes and provokes are huge on both sides.

Look, he's got a very loyal base and constituency that loves him and thinks he's capable of doing no wrong. They think the guy walks on water -- has papal and fallibility. Does not make mistakes, should not apologize and is a quasi-deity.

And on the other side, you've got a very big group of people -- take a look at the polls -- who think he can do no right, who think he is disgusting. Who think he is a misogynist, a racist, a divisive, hostile factor in American politics who threatens government, who threatens democracy, who threatens American institutions, and who is just overall bad.

Both things are true. He provokes --

URBAN: I liked your first narrative better, Ana.

NAVARRO: -- great love and loyalty.

Well, I like the second one better.

Look, and it -- what I think one of the differences between what you're seeing in George W. -- you know, David brings up George W. Bush or Barack Obama. It used to be that all politics was local. That people really focused on their local candidates.

What I'm seeing in Florida -- for example, in the governor's race -- is that all politics is Trump. You've got Ron DeSantis who has projected himself -- and won the primary because he has projected himself as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Trump political organization.

And on the other hand, you've got Andrew Gillum who is -- who embodies the anti-Trump and everything that is opposite Trump.

And so we see Trump playing --

URBAN: Ana, but what about the Senate -- what about the Senate race in Florida, Ana?

CAMEROTA: Yes, what's your point, David?

NAVARRO: And the Senate race -- listen, the Senate race in Florida -- you've got Rick Scott who actually --

URBAN: So my point being is that Ana --

NAVARRO: supported -- no, let me answer you though. Let me answer you.

You've got the Senate race in Florida. Rick Scott, who actually did support Trump from day one but who is running against a moderate and has been running away from Donald Trump like if he was Zika mosquito.

URBAN: Well --

NAVARRO: So again, Trump is playing big on both races.

URBAN: So, Ana, I agree to Ana's point, Alisyn, that all politics are local --

CAMEROTA: Yes, quickly.

URBAN: -- and that candidates matter and in races where you have very good candidates like you do in the Democratic side in Texas. You've got a very charismatic candidate in Beto O'Rourke. He's compelling, he's -- you know, he makes for great T.V.

CAMEROTA: I'm curious about that. And so do you think Ted Cruz is going to lose?

URBAN: Do I think he's going to lose?

CAMEROTA: Yes.

URBAN: No, I don't think he's going to lose but I think he's in -- he's in for a tough race.

And as Ana correctly points out, there's two ways to run a race. I take -- Ana said there's one way -- there are two ways. You can run unopposed or scared, right? So you need to run scared.

Ted Cruz should be running scared. Beto O'Rourke's is a very compelling candidate and he should be running a tough -- in a tough race. But, you know, that's an instance where the president's being begged to come into Texas to help out.

So to go in with Ana's earlier narrative, in certain states this president is going to help you out a great deal. In certain states, he may not be so helpful.

CAMEROTA: OK.

URBAN: If you're going to ask the president to come in and campaign for you in downtown Boston where Ayanna Pressley just won or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won, he's not going to help you, clearly.

[07:40:06] CAMEROTA: Yes.

And so, Ana, what about President Obama now entering the stage? As a Republican, as you are, do you think that that helps or does it somehow just gin up the Trump base to make them more activated in turnout?

NAVARRO: Look, I don't know how you can gin up the Trump base any more if you take a look at primary results. And I think that the Trump base is ginned up primarily by Donald Trump.

Barack Obama is there not to gin up the Trump base but to gin up his own base.

Part of the reason that Hillary Clinton lost, in addition to the Russians, is because of the Obama coalition. It was all about the turnout. They didn't come out in the numbers that she needed.

And so, when you have got -- you know, when you've got somebody that is as popular as Barack Obama continues to be with the Democratic base, how does he not get into the arena, particularly when unlike other presidents -- you've got Donald Trump who is constantly attacking Barack Obama.

And listen, I criticized Barack Obama to death --

URBAN: So, Alisyn -- so, Ana, to push back on your narrative --

NAVARRO: -- when he was president.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

NAVARRO: No, but let me just say this. I criticized Barack Obama to death when he was president.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

NAVARRO: And when I heard that speech the other day I thought to myself -- man, look at that. A president capable of articulating coherent thoughts and complete and grammatically correct sentences. How refreshing.

URBAN: Oh, come on, Ana. So, Alisyn --

CAMEROTA: I get it.

NAVARRO: Oh, what do you mean?

URBAN: So, Alisyn, to your --

NAVARRO: I mean, your guy's practically drunk (ph).

URBAN: Alisyn, to your earlier point about do the Democrats not have anybody better than a Clinton, a Kennedy, Obama to roll out -- isn't there anybody in the future of their party to look forward rather than backward?

And to put -- and to -- also to comment on Ana's narrative --

CAMEROTA: Well, wait a second. I mean, I think that using a two-term president -- that doesn't sound that desperate, David.

URBAN: And to push back on Ana's other narrative about the base not turning out or voters not turning out for Hillary Clinton, I can tell you in my state of Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton's numbers were very, very big. Her numbers in the Philadelphia suburbs were huge.

So the point -- to make the point that somehow her voters didn't turn out and that she lost the race -- CAMEROTA: Yes.

URBAN: Donald Trump won and to the -- to the -- just to the axe -- to the point that Ana can't acknowledge the president won somehow a fair -- a fair election. That she has to say oh, the Russians did it or something.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, look.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Do you think -- do you think there was Russia meddling in the elections, like every intelligence agency of the United States thinks?

URBAN: Sure. Ana, of course.

NAVARRO: Do you think that's people's public opinion?

URBAN: Yes, yes.

NAVARRO: OK, then like I said --

URBAN: I don't know. Do you know?

NAVARRO: -- Hillary Clinton lost --

URBAN: Do you know?

NAVARRO: -- for many factors. I don't know how many votes, if any --

URBAN: Ana, do you know? Can you state with a degree of certainty?

NAVARRO: I --

CAMEROTA: Look --

NAVARRO: I know the Russians --

URBAN: Great.

NAVARRO: -- meddled in the U.S. elections. I don't know if they turned any votes --

URBAN: So, I know the Russians -- I know the Russians meddled, as well.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

NAVARRO: -- or how many.

CAMEROTA: Yes. It's hard to quantify. I think that we -- I think that we --

URBAN: But, what results?

NAVARRO: OK, well that's --

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: Guys, I think that everyone, to even the FBI, would say it's hard to quantify exactly what effect that had.

But, Ana Navarro, David Urban, thank --

URBAN: Right, absolutely.

CAMEROTA: -- you very much -- 67 days.

URBAN: Alisyn, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Oh, 57 days.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

URBAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: It's getting -- look at it. It's 57 days until the midterm elections. I don't how I just lost those 10 days.

BERMAN: Yes, but I do. I watched the segment. No, 57 -- crossed each one of them off while you were talking right there.

CAMEROTA: Thanks a lot.

BERMAN: What a dozen women accuse -- accusing ousted CEO Leslie Moonves of sexual misconduct.

The reporter who broke that story, Ronan Farrow -- I was just speaking with him in the green room. He's got a lot to say about this. He joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:47:31] CAMEROTA: CBS chief executive Les Moonves resigns amid growing allegations of sexual misconduct. Moonves was ousted after "The New Yorker" published a new story yesterday with disturbing details from six new accusers. This morning, one of those women is speaking out.

Joining us now is Ronan Farrow. He's the investigative journalist who broke the Moonves story.

Ronan, great to have you here.

RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Great to be back.

CAMEROTA: Things happened very quickly. So you broke this story yesterday with these six new accusers and today, Les Moonves is out of a job.

Would this have happened had your story not broken yesterday? FARROW: Well, I'll tell you. There was a progression of this board -- of this company being reluctant to act and that was at the heart of what made these women come forward.

First, we're reporting that in January, a number of members of this board were aware of an allegation of forced oral sex that was being investigated by the police.

CAMEROTA: So they already knew about that but they were still letting Les Moonves stay?

FARROW: Correct. So he remained in his position at the company.

Then, the six women in my first "New Yorker" story come forward. They also, extraordinarily, did not suspend him. They hired outside firms to investigate and let me remain in place.

Then I think the final straw for many of these women Alisyn was there was an announcement -- a leak after I started calling CBS sources -- of negotiations to let him exit voluntarily with a potentially $100 million compensation package.

And a lot of these women said enough. I have to tell my story now.

CAMEROTA: And is that happening? He's out of a job but he is leaving with $100 million?

FARROW: No. So the change, I think as a result of these women coming forward, is that became untenable. And overnight, several hours after our story ran, as you pointed out, they did announce that the will leave with no compensation pending the results of this investigation and that they will donate $20 million to charitable causes related to sexual assault.

CAMEROTA: That's really helpful because I didn't know how to read it. When they said that they would base his compensation dependent upon the results of an investigation, I didn't know if that meant that he'd be getting still $100 million.

Is it possible that he will get money if the investigation doesn't turn up what you're reporting did?

FARROW: Yes, and one of the questions that a lot of sources raise in this article is just how independent can an investigation like this be?

I think the fact that they've taken these steps -- that he is no longer in the job while they're investigating, that they've replaced six members of the board -- all of that goes a long way towards convincing women who might be talking to these investigators that this will be somewhat impartial. But there are still a lot of questions here.

CAMEROTA: Lest anyone feel sorry that Les Moonves might not be walking out with $100 million, I was stunned in your reporting to read that from 2006 to 2017 his total compensation was more than $1 billion. That's how vital he is to CBS and to that franchise.

[07:50:09] FARROW: Well, I'm glad you made that point Alisyn because one of the most important things about this story is this is the first Fortune 500 CEO to step down for these reasons in the #MeToo era. This was someone who was supposed to be immune to criticisms, that many of these women stayed quiet about for years because they thought he had complete impunity.

So, yes, the reluctance of this board to act and yes, a lot of these women, that's troubling. It shows how far we still have to go. But also, this is a story of how far we've come because no one thought we'd be here.

CAMEROTA: One of the women who you spoke to for the new report that came out yesterday has just been on morning T.V. so let's watch what she had to say about these accusations and his denials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHYLLIS GOLDEN-GOTTLIEB, ACCUSES LES MOONVES OF ASSAULT: Oh, that's a joke it's so bad. Of course, he did. Well, I mean, 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)

CAMEROTA: Tell us about that, Ronan. It's not just accusations of sexual harassment or verbal harassment, it's physical assault.

FARROW: Woman after woman described the destruction of their careers. That's one trait in Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb's story that is in common with a lot of these stories.

And yes, these are also violent assaults, some of them sexual. Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb also alleges that he forced her to perform oral sex on him.

But as well, there are simply violent acts of retaliation. She says after she rebuffed him in one incident, as you heard there, that he threw her against a wall, painfully. And then moved her out of her office into ever-smaller offices.

So the thread through these stories is of really vindictive retaliation, something he denies but a lot of these women who don't know each other say over and over.

CAMEROTA: Here's his denial. He's just given this statement.

He says, "The appalling accusations in this article are untrue. What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years before I came to CBS.

In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise that they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in that article is not me."

He seems to be referring to this feud that he was locked in for a while -- about the -- his future at CBS and -- as though somehow these stories were planted, I guess, to get him -- to oust him?

FARROW: So what's striking about Mr. Moonves' responses to all of these articles is he has been admitting to various portions of these allegations, including in this case saying three of these encounters happened but they were consensual. He wouldn't specify on the record which ones.

Now through all of this, he has said we're in this corporate fight -- there was a battle ongoing before all of this for the future of CBS -- and sort of gently tried to insert into the narrative this idea that this is a corporate move.

That is not the case. We've done a lot of reporting on these women and concluded that across the board they had no connections to and, in a vast majority of cases, no knowledge of that fight.

CAMEROTA: Is it your reporting that other heads will roll at CBS? Is this the end of it or other people, one of whom is named Jeff Fager, who is the head of "60 MINUTES" -- another extremely powerful franchise obviously at CBS -- that he is implicated as well?

FARROW: Well, another way in which this is bigger than Les Moonves, Alisyn, is that this is about a culture dozens of women talked about at CBS where powerful men covered up for each other. That was the allegation.

And a big example of that is Jeff Fager who used to report to Moonves as the chairman of "CBS NEWS" and now runs "60 MINUTES." And woman after woman described a frat house boy's club culture at that program and to some extent at the news division there broadly.

Jeff Fager, himself, has now been accused by seven women of inappropriate touching. There's a woman on the record in this news story describing a groping when she was an intern.

There are a lot of questions that remain about whether he'll be held accountable, too.

CAMEROTA: And what does your reporting say about his future?

FARROW: You know, I'm not going to comment on anything other than what we've put out.

CAMEROTA: Ronan Farrow, great to have you here, as always. Thanks so much for sharing your reporting.

FARROW: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: John --

BERMAN: All right, fascinating discussion there.

In the meantime, millions along the East Coast on high alert. Hurricane Florence is gaining strength and it's taking direct aim at millions and millions of people. This is a powerful storm.

We have a new update on the forecast. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:58:49] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's coming in at a different angle. We are preparing for the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the storm surge and the wind it could be very bad.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": The hurricane prompting concern about significant inland flooding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've activated over 800 National Guardsmen. We will be prepared.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The "Times" should never have done that. It's treason. You can call it a lot of things.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Does this president not understand that the Justice Department is not a tool of his own personal power?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There could be a national security risk at hand. He doesn't want this person in a meeting.

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D-IL), SENATE MINORITY WHIP: In a matter of great national security, can we trust this president to make the proper decision?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm 100 percent confident that no one on the vice president's staff was involved.

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE": Let's hope to God we don't have a crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: All right, good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, September 10th. It's 8:00 in the east which means we do have breaking news.

A brand new update and forecast from the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Florence is rapidly intensifying, headed toward the U.S. east coast. It is forecast to make landfall later this week, perhaps as a category four storm.

Look at that. That looks like a direct hit. This could be the most powerful hurricane to strike the Carolinas in almost three decades.

This hurricane poses a major flood threat inland because forecasters believe the storm could stall, dumping --