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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump is Accused of Assaulting Women; Christie Gets Criminal Summons. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 13, 2016 - 12:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:00:30] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: All right, hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. It's 12:00 in the East here in New York and you're watching a special live noon edition of AT THIS HOUR. If you couldn't get enough, you've got more.

You're looking at live pictures, we're going to show you right now, of West Palm Beach, Florida, where Donald Trump is set to speak any moment now. We will take you there live. It is definitely ripe to be a huge moment for his campaign.

Why? This isn't just another campaign stop. This is the first time Trump will be speaking live since a slew of new allegations have surfaced against him overnight. Will he address the wave of brand-new allegations of unwanted kissing, unwanted touching and groping that have come out against him?

Donald Trump started the morning off already taking to Twitter to defend himself. Here's one tweet. Help said this. "The phony story in the failing "New York Times" is a total fabrication written by the same people as the last discredited story on women. Watch," he says.

Two women did speak to "The New York Times" on the record. CNN has not been able to independently verify their accounts, we do want to say. One woman was a 22-year-old receptionist in Trump Tower in 2005 when she says Donald Trump kissed her without permission. The other women, Jessica Leeds. She says Donald Trump assault her on a plane more than 30 years ago. Listen to her account.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA LEEDS, SAYS SHE WAS ASSAULTED BY DONALD TRUMP: It was a real shock when all of a sudden his hands were all over me. He started encroaching on my space. And I hesitate to use this expression, but I'm going to, and that is, he was like an octopus. It was like he had six arms. He was all over the place. And if he had stuck with the upper part of the body, I - I might not have gotten - I might not have gotten that upset. But when he started putting his hand up my skirt, and that was it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: All right, that is not all. A writer for "People" magazine says that Trump pushed her up against a wall and kissed her when she was at an assignment at his Palm Beach estate back in 2005. She was writing a story on the one year anniversary between Donald Trump and Melania. Melania Trump allegedly was pregnant upstairs. Donald Trump responded to this charge this morning on Twitter. He wrote, "why didn't the writer of the 12-year-old article in "People" magazine mention the incident in her story, because it did not happen," Donald Trump says.

Let's go straight now to CNN's Jim Acosta. He is live in West Palm Beach where we will hear from Donald Trump out loud very shortly.

Jim, what do we expect to hear?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think that is the question, John. But what we can tell you from talking to people inside the Trump campaign, I talked to a Trump campaign official earlier this morning who said they plan on fighting fire with fire. They plan on responding to these latest allegations against Donald Trump by essentially having more Bill Clinton accusers come forward. So that is something we can expect to see in the days to come. Not necessarily today, according to this official, but in the days to come.

And as you pointed out in those tweets, Donald Trump is not backing away. He is - he is refusing these charges, saying plainly that they are not true. We saw as much in that statement from the campaign overnight when they demanded that "The New York Times" retract that article with the threat of a lawsuit. And, of course, that statement that they released yesterday evening saying that these accounts in "The New York Times" are fiction.

But what we can tell you, if past is prologue, John and Kate, in terms of Donald Trump coming out here in front of this rally to talk to these supporters about all of this, you know, my guess is, is that he won't. We'll have to wait and see, of course. He tends to go to and seek out refuge with conservative media outlets when he wants to talk about these sorts of things, to defend himself. And so my expectation is, is that at some point in time he will do that.

I will tell you, though, that ever since a few days ago when Donald Trump said he was unshackleled after House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he was no longer going to defend Donald Trump, the GOP nominee has been just that, he has been unshackled, saying yesterday Hillary Clinton should go to jail, accusing Paul Ryan of being a part of some sinister deal to stop him from becoming president. So my guess is we will hear more of that when Donald Trump comes out here in a few moments.

And just one last thing. We have not noticed a drop-off in terms of the enthusiasm coming from his supporters at these campaign events. I was at one in Lakeland, near Tampa and Orlando yesterday, here over in Palm Beach County today, John and Kate, and they are just as revved up as Donald Trump supporters have been all along. The only noticeable difference that we're seen in these last few days as we're getting closer to this election, and these are desperate times for this campaign, is that many of these supporters are venting their frustrations at us, the media, because they just don't like the news coverage. They don't like the stories that they're seeing right now about their candidate.

[12:05:16] John and Kate.

BERMAN: Yes, we have seen that, Jim, in many ways. It's unfortunate, but, thank you very much for your reporting. We enjoy what you have to say. Thanks, Jim.

All right, in response to the allegations reported by "The New York Times," Trump's legal team is threatening a lawsuit and demanding a full retraction of the story, writing in a letter, "your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se. It is apart from, among other things, the timing of the article, that it is nothing more than a politically motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump's candidacy."

BOLDUAN: Joining us now on this, Paul Callan, CNN legal analyst, former professor of media law at Seton Hall University, and Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources."

Brian, first to you, if we could, because we'll get to the lawsuit in just one second, because you have more information about "The New York Times" and this back and forth, and also, kind of to Jim Acosta's point, when we could be hearing from Donald Trump.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Donald Trump had one interview scheduled today. It was going to be with his friend Sean Hannity, one of his favorite interviewers over at Fox News. About half an hour ago, Donald Trump canceled that interview. According to Fox, Trump backing out of the interview. He will - Hannity will still be interviewing four Clinton critics tonight. These are the women who accuse Bill Clinton of various sexual abuses. Those women will be on Hannity's show tonight, but Donald Trump won't. So this raises the prospect of Trump doing no interviews, even with his friend at Fox News.

BERMAN: More of a campaign appearance when he's with Sean Hannity (INAUDIBLE).

STELTER: That's right, but even that is now scratched.

BERMAN: That interview.

And also you have some word on "The New York Times" that they're responding to -

STELTER: "The Times" is working on a response to what you just heard, what you just read there about the retraction.

BOLDUAN: OK.

STELTER: Clearly, "The Times" is not retracting this story. They believe the story was absolutely appropriate to publish and they're standing by it.

Just one little bit of color about what's going on behind the scenes there. Today happened to be the one day of the year where "The Times" chief lawyer comes down to the newsroom for an annual educational session about how the law works, how media law works.

BOLDUAN: Quite the timing.

STELTER: He just had to cancel that. He's a little busy today.

BERMAN: He's busy.

STELTER: He's busy today.

BOLDUAN: I would say so.

So, Paul Callan, exactly to this point, Donald Trump is threatening legal action. What legal action, what's the ramifications, what do you see here?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is the media - well, a lesson that he is probably going to give the staff at "The New York Times."

STELTER: Right, on a different day now.

CALLAN: Yes. Exactly. It is that a public figure like Donald Trump, like a politician, can only sue somebody else for defaming them for, you know, hurting their reputation in a serious way if they can prove actual malice. Now, for normal people who aren't well known, who aren't public figures, they just have to go into court and prove a lie was said about them and that it hurt their reputation. But if you're "The New York Times," -

STELTER: Right.

CALLAN: Being sued, you've got to prove that "The Times" deliberately lied or acted with a reckless indifference to journalistic standards in the way they handled the story and went forward and published it. It's a very difficult standard to meet.

BERMAN: It's very hard when you have two women on the record -

BOLDUAN: Right.

BERMAN: One of whom made an on camera video right there. They have these women saying it. So "The New York Times," you know, they have to have a reason to believe they were flat out lying to put them in any kind of legal jeopardy.

And, Paul, to be clear, you know, everyone's been saying overnight, Donald Trump's threatening legal action. There's that letter from the lawyer there. That's not a lawsuit.

CALLAN: No. BERMAN: I mean that letter is about as far from a lawsuit as you can get. There were no facts stated there. It's just a threat. And it seems to be the purpose to intimidate.

CALLAN: He regularly threatens people with lawsuits. But let me tell you something, you sue "The New York Times" for defamation, you're going to create a monstrous battle that will lead to discovery and a lot of embarrassing things coming out.

BOLDUAN: That could be the worst part.

CALLAN: I think you may see a lawsuit. Trump could sue the alleged victims who say that they were molested by him because they'd have to lawyer up, endure a lot of expenses and maybe, if nobody's picking up the tab for their legal expense, but we don't know, maybe somebody is, that would be a reason for them to walk away from the lawsuit. It might be done as a harassing tactic to get them to walk away from - from the claims.

BERMAN: But, discovery, that would mean Donald Trump would have to face questions about what?

CALLAN: Well, he'd have to face questions about his prior sexual history. He would have to face questions about other women who may have made claims that haven't come publicly forward, that the lawyers will find out about in discovery.

BOLDUAN: Right. (INAUDIBLE).

CALLAN: But I would caution you on this, it's highly unlikely that any discovery would take place in a civil case before the election.

BOLDUAN: Exactly right.

CALLAN: Most of this would happen after November. So I don't think that's a realistic threat.

BOLDUAN: And you can just imagine what that would feel like.

OK, guys, great to have you. Thank you very much.

CALLAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We are keeping an eye on this box on the bottom of your screen. That is where Donald Trump will be taking to the stage very shortly. Waiting to hear, as Jim Acosta said, we don't know what Donald Trump will say. When have we ever. So we're going to wait and see about that. But it is an important day in his campaign to hear what he has to say when he takes to the microphone.

Let us discuss. CNN political commentator Kevin Madden is here. He's a former senior adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, he's a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies now. CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, David Brody.

[12:10:12] It's great to see you guys. Thank you so much.

Gloria -

DAVID BRODY, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CBN NEWS: Good to be here.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Gloria, what do you make of this moment? We're waiting for Donald Trump to take the stage right now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we've heard him tweet about - we've read his tweets about these charges that came out overnight. We haven't heard him speak about it. And the question that I have is, how directly is he going to address it and how directly then is he going to start deflecting all of this to Bill Clinton. We've heard from Jim Acosta that they're going to start making charges about Bill Clinton. One would presume also Hillary Clinton. I presume he's going to talk about WikiLeaks and John Podesta's e-mails.

I think that this is - the hints have been, and they've been strong hints, that what we're going to see for the next month is really a scorched earth strategy. His supporters, as you've heard, are not running away from Donald Trump. So if he is out there, what he is trying to do is get his base ginned up so they go out and vote. And the Trump campaign believes that they've got a lot of supporters that we're not counting out there -

BOLDUAN: Right. I have heard that.

BORGER: That could potentially get them over the line. I do not think that is the case given his huge gender gap problems right now. But what they're trying to do is gin up the base and get those - get those voters out there. So that's what I think we'll be seeing from him today.

BERMAN: So, Kevin Madden, the risks of scorched earth, explain.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, scorched earth is not a strategy. Scorched earth is a reflex. And the idea that they're -

BOLDUAN: Like acid reflux. Is there a pill for that?

MADDEN: Yes. It is - you know, it is a - and the other thing is that the idea that there's a lot of voters out there that we're not counting and that you can win just by appealing to your base is also - it is just hoping. And hope is not a strategy. So the way to win this race right now is to - is to win undecided voters. It's to - it's to - it's to bring together a larger Republican base that would - you know, where essentially Donald Trump would be getting 90 percent of Republican voters that way he could go out and get a lot of undecided voters and potentially be competitive.

But the problem is with this scorched earth approach is that he's actually going to lose a whole bunch of - of Republicans and he's only probably going to get around 75 to 80 percent with it and then he's going to turn off so many of those suburban women, independent voters and suburbs all around the country. And that is - it just doesn't add up for him as a strategy.

KEILAR: That's the math.

MADDEN: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Math is tough for Donald Trump right now, David. But one thing we've also seen is the unconventional Donald Trump. And you - you have said this, things have piled up on Trump before and he has shown the ability to survive, largely because of his base of support. They - it does not - the sequence of events does not change their opinion of the candidate. When does it become too much though, at some point, or do you think this could be, yet again, things pile up and Donald Trump can weather the storm?

BRODY: Well, I guess we'll find out. And October has quite a few surprises. Probably maybe a few more. And then at some point, how much water can be in the boat before the whole thing tips over. But, you know, honestly, you can make the argument that Donald Trump has everybody right where he wants them. He is a counterpuncher. He's a fighter. He's a street brawler. And here we go. I know scorched earth isn't necessarily a strategy, but what strategy do you have at this point. I mean if all a sudden he's going to be Mr. Presidential, teleprompter Donald Trump into the squishy middle, that ain't gonna work. And so basically you have a double-down here.

And, honestly, Kate and John, I got to tell you, he has an argument to be made about the mainstream media. Now, I know a lot of folks in the mainstream media will disagree, but there are voters out there - and I'm not just talking about Donald Trump's rabid fans that are shouting at CNN and other - and other outlets - but he can make an argument to say, well, isn't this interesting, in October, how "The Washington Post," then "The New York Times," and you can go on down the list, and it comes out three weeks before the election, there is an element to that where Donald Trump can play very well in his base and the question becomes, how much of the base can get out.

I will say this, there was a Democrat strategist I was talking to privately says he is extremely worried. A Democratic strategist here, extremely worried about that silent majority that is out there that is not out there in the polls that we haven't seen so far.

BERMAN: No, not out there in the polls.

BORGER: I think the question is -

BERMAN: Hang on - hang on one second, Gloria, because I do want to get to one last thing.

BORGER: OK.

BERMAN: We are also waiting - we're waiting on Donald Trump, who's speaking in Florida. You're looking at live pictures of that.

BOLDUAN: Right.

BERMAN: We're also waiting on an event in New Hampshire. The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, is getting ready to speak up there. We're going to keep our eye on that speech as well because she has dealt a little bit with this notion that David Brody was just talking about, scorched earth, that Donald Trump may level new charges. She has said, if they go low, we'll go high. Is she the very messenger that the team Clinton wants out there today?

[12:15:20] BORGER: I think so. I think - I think we saw in the last debate, Hillary Clinton decided not to address any of the charges that Donald Trump had leveled against her husband in the press conference just an hour before the debate. And I think that in terms of appealing to women and those suburban women that Kevin Madden is talking about, I think that Michelle Obama is a - is a great messenger.

I think what she's going to try and do, because they understand that the Trump base is going to get energized by what is occurring right now. And what the Democrats have to worry about is that their voters thinking, oh, this thing is over, we can stay home. They don't want that to occur. That's what they're worried about. They want to get their voters out there.

But, you know, David Brody was talking about Trump may have people where he wants them. I don't think so. If you look at the polls that came out today, Clinton is up nine in Pennsylvania, up 12 in Michigan, up seven in the state of Wisconsin. Donald Trump has to do a lot better than that.

BERMAN: Just how the Trump team planned it.

MADDEN: You can make - yes, you can make the argument that he has them right where he wants them, but that doesn't mean it's a credible argument.

BORGER: Right. I don't think it is.

BRODY: Well, you know, I don't -

BERMAN: All right, guys, stick around. We'll let David defend himself right after the break. We're going to take a quick break, guys. Don't go anywhere. We are watching these two live events. Pictures right there from Manchester, New Hampshire, where Michelle Obama will speak shortly.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

BERMAN: And from Florida, Donald Trump, he will speak for the first time since these new accusations about unwanted touching and kissing came out. We're waiting on both those events.

BOLDUAN: And we also have some breaking news coming in about the bridgegate scandal.

We've just learned that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be - will be facing a criminal summons. Details on what that means, that's coming in. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:21:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BOLDUAN: Some breaking news just in about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. We've now learned that he will be getting a criminal summons for the bridgegate scandal of 2013. A citizen accusing the governor of official misconduct for the nightmarish lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

BERMAN: CNN's Deborah Feyerick has the details for us.

Deb, explain exactly what this means.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, John, Kate, what it means is that it - things could get a lot uglier for Chris Christie, who is currently spearheading Donald Trump's transition effort should the Republican become president.

Now, a county judge in New Jersey has found probable cause to issue a criminal summons against the New Jersey governor. Prosecutors in Bergen County, right now, trying to determine exactly what their next steps will be.

And this stems from a civilian complaints filed by a New Jersey resident alleging official misconduct against the governor. And the civilian complaint basically accuses Christie of knowingly refraining from ordering his subordinates, his loyalists, to reopen lanes from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to the George Washington Bridge. Something that caused massive backups back in 2013 for a four-day period.

Now, the governor's spokesperson says that this is a dishonorable complaint filed by a known serial complainant and political activist with a history of abusing the judicial system. Christie has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the lane closures. And his spokesperson says that they will immediately be appealing today's ruling.

Now the timing of this complaint, Kate and John, comes during a federal trial of two of Christie's key aides in what, as you called, popularly known, bridgegate. The complainant, William Brennen (ph), tells CNN that he wanted accountability from the governor, which is why he filed this official misconduct complaint. Now he's facing a criminal summons. Christie, represented by the international law firm Austin and Byrd (ph). We've reached out to them but have so far - are waiting to get comment.

Kate. John.

BERMAN: All right, watch this space, Deb Feyerick, thank you so much.

Coming up for us, we have two live events, major events today. Donald Trump will speak at any moment from West Palm Beach, Florida. His first chance to address the wave of accusations that came out overnight of women who accuse him of inappropriate conduct.

And, also, in Manchester, New Hampshire, Michelle Obama, she will speak. She will talk to Democratic voters up there. Will she talk about these new accusations? We're watching both events. We'll take you there live.

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[12:27:50] BOLDUAN: We can call it live event-a-palooza at this moment. We are watching two big live events that are happening any moment now. On the right, you're looking at West Palm Beach, Florida. That is Rudy Giuliani, a chief adviser to Donald Trump. He is speaking to the crowd there. Donald Trump will be taking to the stage any moment. His first live remarks since a slew of new allegations have come out against him as we've been discussing of inappropriate touching of women in the past.

On the left hand of your screen, you're look at Manchester, New Hampshire. Michelle Obama, the first lady, is going to be speaking there. Very interested to hear if she and what she has to say about everything that we've been seeing playing out on the campaign trail just in the past 24 hours.

BERMAN: All right, let's talk about all of this. And there is a lot of it. Joining us is Gina Loudon, a radio and TV host and Trump Supporter, Bob Cusack, editor and chief of "The Hill," Angela Rye, CNN political commentator, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst.

Guys -

BOLDUAN: You did that in one breath. That was impressive.

BERMAN: It was not bad, right?

Gina, I want to start with you here. We're looking at live pictures. Rudy Giuliani warming up the crowd, which means we are close to Donald Trump taking that stage. And this is the first time we will hear from him -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, don't tell him, but (INAUDIBLE) good story about (INAUDIBLE) -

BERMAN: This is the first time we will hear from him since this slew of allegations, as Kate put it, that came out overnight accusing him of unwanted touching and kissing. What do you think he needs to say today?

GINA LOUDON, HOST, "AMERICA TRENDS WITH DR. GINA": Well, I think that he's just - they just need to stay the course. People don't want to talk about this. They want to talk about issues, the things that really matter, like national security and economic security. Things where Hillary Clinton has a very tarnished record, making insider deals with Wall Street and the media just to get elected, basically admitting via the WikiLeaks that she is going to say one thing to voters and another thing to Wall Street.

BOLDUAN: Right, but Gina - LOUDON: These are the kinds of things that really scare voters. Not some - not someone's - not last minute, 11th hour allegations that are completely unfounded and are unequivocally denied.

[12:29:43] BOLDUAN: Well, it's interesting you put it that way, last- minute allegations that - last-minute allegations because that's what you're saying you would like to hear from Donald Trump is not what it seems his campaign has said is going to be their strategist going forward. Joshua Green of Bloomberg said this morning that they're going to be coming out with new accusers of Bill Clinton. They're going - what they're going to do now in the last 20-plus days is they're going to go harder, go deeper and dirtier into these allegations against Bill Clinton. So it seems like it's the same thing.