RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This morning, Senate Republicans are distancing themselves from Roy Moore.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
He is the party's candidate for Senate in Alabama, but he is now facing allegations of sexual misconduct from the 1970s. And we should warn listeners that the subject matter in more than one of our stories today might not be something you want to hear over breakfast - or ever, frankly.
In an explosive report from The Washington Post, several women say Roy Moore pursued relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s and assistant district attorney at the time.
MARTIN: NPR's Debbie Elliott has been following Roy Moore's political career, and she joins us now.
Good morning, Debbie.
DEBBIE ELLIOT, BYLINE: Good morning.
MARTIN: So the Post is reporting that one of the girls Moore engaged with was only 14 years old at the time. According to the Post, he approached her outside a courthouse, struck up this relationship that eventually turned sexual. And there are three other women making similar accusations against the Senate candidate.
What is Roy Moore saying about all this?
ELLIOT: Well, his campaign issued a statement in which he calls the allegations completely false and a desperate political attack. You know, he is in this tighter-than-typical contest for a Republican in reliably red Alabama. Democrat Doug Jones is his opponent heading into this December 12 election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. Moore's campaign chairman is calling this report the very definition of fake news and defamation.
And on Twitter, Roy Moore is sort of posing this as this - the forces of evil out against him. He says if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me, they're going to, you know, continue these lies. He even sent out an email before the day was out yesterday trying to raise money on the report, calling this a spiritual battle. And in his signature defiant style, he's, you know, saying, I refuse to stand down. I'm not going to go.
MARTIN: A lot of Republicans want him to go. They're, saying yesterday - a whole slew of Republicans - the Senate leadership came out and said if these allegations prove true, he should drop out of the race. Is that likely?
ELLIOT: Well, not for Roy Moore. You know, this is the guy who twice got kicked out of public office when he was chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying federal court orders.
ELLIOT: So you know, he is a defiant candidate for sure. So we'll see. But certainly, the backlash was very widespread. You had even Alabama's other senator, Richard Shelby, saying if this is true, quote, "there is no place for Roy Moore in the United States Senate." Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying the same thing - he should step aside. Even the president thinks if these allegations are true, quote, "Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside," according to the press secretary on the trip to Vietnam last night.
MARTIN: Let's say he does drop out. What happens in that race? Can the GOP replace him?
ELLIOT: That's a good question. You know, according to Alabama state law, you can't take his name off the ballot. So if he were on the ballot and got the most votes, the secretary of state's office says they may end up having to call a new special election.
MARTIN: But there is a write-in on the ballot, right?
ELLIOT: That's possible.
MARTIN: OK. Stay tuned. NPR's Debbie Elliott - thanks so much this morning, Debbie.
ELLIOT: You're welcome.
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MARTIN: Hollywood is also grappling with new allegations of sexual misconduct.
GREENE: Yeah, this time against the comedian Louis C.K., who we should say actually uses the subject in his comedy a lot.
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LOUIS C.K.: How do women still go out with guys when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men? We're the No. 1 threat to women.
GREENE: All right, five women have told The New York Times that Louis C.K. either masturbated in front of them or asked to.
MARTIN: To discuss this, we're joined now by Ted Robbins. He's NPR's arts and culture editor.
TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.
MARTIN: This was another one of those open secrets, right?
ROBBINS: Yep, it was. It was well-known in the comedy world apparently. In fact, one of the episodes that's mentioned in The New York Times story took place at the Aspen Comedy Festival in front of two female comedians in a hotel room. Then five years ago, the now-defunct website Gawker published a story talking about a, quote, "beloved comedian," but it used no names. Then two years ago, another Gawker website called Defamer had a piece that named Louis C.K. but not his accusers.
And comedian Tig Notaro - she has been talking about it publicly for a while, sort of calling out Louis C.K. for his behavior. She even had a scene in her Amazon show called "One Mississippi." And I should say that Louis C.K. is actually an executive producer of this show.
ROBBINS: And the scene is about a boss masturbating in front of an employee.
MARTIN: Huh. I mean, it is bizarre when you go back and you look at a lot of his comedy. He riffs on this stuff all the time. Has he been talking publicly about these allegations? What's he saying, Louis C.K.?
ROBBINS: Yeah, he's not responded to the New York Times story or to any requests from us. He publicly has denied the allegations in the past, though he has made comments like saying he is a prisoner of his perversions. One of the women says that he apologized to her privately in a Facebook post years after the incident.
MARTIN: Professional fallout for Louis C.K.?
ROBBINS: Yeah. Well, he has a new movie called "I Love You, Daddy." It's about a father trying to stop his teenage daughter from dating a 68-year-old man. The premiere was supposed to be last night. It was canceled. So was an appearance that Louis C.K. was supposed to make on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert."
ROBBINS: His FX series "Louie" is on indefinite hiatus. And FX issued a statement saying it was disturbed by the allegation. And now they're saying that the matter is currently under review. HBO says it's pulling all of C.K.'s past projects from its on-demand platform - so all of his comedy specials - and that he'll no longer participate in an upcoming program that they're doing called "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Unites For Autism Programs." All of this is less than...
ROBBINS: ...One day since these allegations were publicized.
MARTIN: Right. It might be just the beginning. NPR's Ted Robbins - thanks so much, Ted.
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MARTIN: All right, we are going to shift gears. We're going to go to Vietnam now. That's where President Trump is for a summit meeting with Asia-Pacific leaders.
GREENE: Yeah. And Rachel, I think it's worth remembering the context here. I mean, one of Trump's first actions as president was to withdraw from a 12-nation Pacific trade deal. But the president told a group of business leaders today that the United States will continue to be an active partner in the region.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What we will no longer do is enter into large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible.
MARTIN: OK, NPR's Scott Horsley is traveling with the president, and he joins us now from the Da Nang, Vietnam.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: How's Vietnam?
HORSLEY: (Laughter) Steamy.
MARTIN: Steamy - yeah, I can imagine. So let's talk about the president and his remarks. He spoke to that group of business leaders there. What was the message he was trying to convey?
HORSLEY: On the one hand, he was celebrating the success that countries like Vietnam have had in lifting their people out of poverty. But Trump also complained some of that success has come at the expense of the United States. He argues, as he often did during the campaign, that the U.S. has been taken advantage of by other countries - that it's opened up its markets to foreign competition but that other countries have not reciprocated.
Trump also complained the World Trade Organization has failed to crack down on unfair practices by countries like China, which subsidizes state-owned enterprises and forces U.S. companies to share technology as a price of doing business there.
MARTIN: So the speech was billed as one of the keynotes of the president's big Asia tour. Did he rise to the occasion?
HORSLEY: It depends on what audience you're talking about. You know, this was advertised as a speech in which the president would spell out his vision for what the White House is calling the Indo-Pacific region. That's a phrase that globalists in the administration came up with to really illustrate that the U.S. still wants to be a player in this part of the world that accounts for so much of the population and so much of the economy.
But about halfway through the president's speech, it sounded as if the economic nationalists in the White House had grabbed the speechwriting pen and used it to air their grievances once again. So for Trump supporters back home who wanted some red meat on trade, this was a very effective speech. For people in other countries looking for reassurance that the U.S. still wants to engage in this area, maybe not so much.
MARTIN: So where does that leave those other countries?
HORSLEY: Some of the other 11 countries that signed onto that Asia-Pacific trade deal, the TPP, they hope to resurrect it without the United States. Then as for China, which was not a party to that trade deal, you know, this is potentially a big opening. By stepping back from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and by challenging other international treaties, like the Paris climate accord, President Trump has left something of a vacuum in the international community. And China is more than happy to fill that vacuum.
One analyst told me that this is the first APEC summit he can remember that China is actually looking forward to because this is, you know, one of those multilateral forums that President Trump is not terribly comfortable in. Chinese President Xi Jinping is more than happy to take the lead.
MARTIN: All right, NPR's White House correspondent Scott Horsley. He has been traveling with President Trump on his nearly two-week Asia trip. Five countries, the president is visiting. He's currently in Vietnam talking about trade.
Hey, Scott, thanks so much. Have fun there.
HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Rachel.
(SOUNDBITE OF ERIC LAU'S "SOME TIME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.