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Accused Killer, Deported Five Times, Faces Judge; Remembering A Hollywood Legend. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 7, 2015 - 16:30   ET


[16:31:58] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Topping our world lead today, it was one year ago today that war broke out between Israel Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a conflict that took the lives of 73 Israelis, 67 of them soldiers, and more than 2,000 Palestinians, a majority of them civilians.

At a memorial service Monday in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that Israel will continue to protect its borders. But a group of Israeli combat veterans calling themselves Breaking the Silence is now calling into question the official Israeli government version of events in Gaza, vs. the shoot first, ask questions later reality as described by some soldiers who were there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Any person at the distance that could put you at risk, you kill him with no need for clearance. And asked, what if it's an innocent civilian, he said, there are no innocent civilians. Your presumption should be that anyone within the area of battle 200, 300, 400 meters from you is your enemy.


TAPPER: There are no innocent civilians.

Here now to talk about Operation Protective Edge, the director of public outreach for Breaking the Silence, Avner Gvaryahu. He's also a former Israeli paratrooper

Thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it.

This idea that there are no innocent civilians, there were no hard and fast rules during the war in Gaza, is that widespread, or do you think it's just a few testimonies?

AVNER GVARYAHU, BREAKING THE SILENCE: We actually have spoken to almost 70 soldiers putting together this report, and we have found that across the board, across the Strip, different units, different places, the rules were pretty much the same.

In the area the soldiers entered, which was a strip of land and entire neighborhoods around the Strip, those were the rules.

TAPPER: Shoot anyone you see?

GVARYAHU: We hear things along the lines of anyone who's not holding a white flag, you shoot to kill. Anyone who is over a meter four, you shoot to kill. Everyone who is a male you shoot to kill. Anyone who is not specifically the IDF you shoot to kill. And the testimonies collaborate that.

We, as former soldiers ourselves, we have been collecting testimonies for over a decade. We were very surprised. And only after hearing this from soldier after soldier, many of them officers themselves, could we actually say -- and this is what we're actually saying today -- these were the rules. So it wasn't the few rotten apples, but these were the rules.

TAPPER: All right, but let me ask you this, because the response from the Israeli government and the Israeli military to this report and to your organization in general has been strong and furious.

How would you propose that Israel wage this war, given the fact that the terrorists of Hamas, and that's what they are, you probably would not disagree with that, embed themselves within the civilian population?


So, first of all, I would say I'm not a pacifist. I myself served for three years. They're more than 1,000 men and women that have met Breaking the Silence throughout these 11 years and almost 70 of them who have fought in this operation. Not only do we believe in Israel's right to exist, but Israeli government and Israeli military's obligation to protect its citizens.


But what we're asking is while we're in this kind of operation, do we not have to ourselves questions, do we not have to make sure that we not cross the red lines? And in our perspective, there is actually an idea of how you fight a war. There's actually documentation of how you fight a war. It's called the Spirit of the IDF. This is actually a document that was written around the year 2000.

TAPPER: The Spirit of the Israeli Defense Forces?

GVARYAHU: Exactly. Exactly.

What we see in this operation is basically taking these ideas and throwing them out the window. And we actually found that there was no real discussion about it. Of course, protect yourself. Of course, Hamas is a terrorist organization, and we have to do whatever we can to protect our ourselves, but there are also limitations in war.

And that's exactly what we want to put on the table, definitely when this is part of an almost-50 year occupation, when definitely when no end of it in site.

TAPPER: "This Is How We Fought in Gaza," soldiers' testimonies and photographs from Operation Protective Edge.

Avner Gvaryahu, thank you so much for your time and for what I imagine is a fairly lonely job.

In our sports lead today, allegations of bullying, belittling, racism, a CNN special investigation into a sports program at a major American university and now former players are filing a lawsuit -- that story next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

The sports leads now, the pressure to perform by big-time college athletes. Coaches are tough, players are driven, but at the University of Illinois, former athletes on the women's basketball team now say tough coaching turned to bullying, former players charging that bullying in some cases was racist.

And now those athletes are suing the school and coaches.

CNN investigative correspondent Sara Ganim has this report.


SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the surface, the players on the University of Illinois women's basketball team seem to be thrilled to be playing. But these players and their parents tell CNN a far different and far more disturbing story.

In all, eight women we spoke to confirm the details to CNN, but wanted their parents to do the talking.

LYDIA TUCK, MOTHER: We expected toughness, but this is not what our children got at the University of Illinois. It wasn't toughness. It was madness.

GANIM: The players and their parents say the girls were divided for practice, with one group, predominantly black, treated much worse and criticized for their culture, belittled, not because of poor play, but with attacks on their character that the parents say were racist.

(on camera): Do you believe the insults were motivated by race?


GANIM: Do you believe, Tina, that there was racism on this team?

TINA GRUSECKI, MOTHER: Yes. I know it made my daughter feel very uncomfortable.

GANIM (voice-over): Several players told CNN the secondary team was called the Dog Pound.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was humiliated. She was yelled at and she was always degraded.

GANIM: Off-camera, one player, Amarah Coleman, recalled comments like, "You know how black people play." Others say the predominantly black group was accused of being toxic and poison to the mostly white starters.

TUCK: When that line is crossed into abuse, that I wouldn't stand by -- thank God my daughters aren't married at this point -- and allow them to be in an abusive relationship if they were married. It's the same thing in a coaching relationship.

GANIM: Mike Thomas is the University of Illinois athletic director.

MIKE THOMAS, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: It absolutely concerns me. That's problematic to me.

GANIM: School officials say they investigated the complaints and found no merit to them. But after CNN started asking questions, the school says it is taking a second look.

Two law firms are now investigating misconduct, and the assistant coach on the women's basketball team, Mike Divilbiss, has left the school by mutual consent, according to the athletic director. The players say Divilbiss was at the center of much of the bullying.

TUCK: She gave her teammate -- really high-five -- her teammate was doing really good in the game, made a layup or what have you, and he said, oh, the only reason you did that was because he was black.

GANIM: The parents say they expected tough coaching, but not this.

(on camera): Are you satisfied with the fact that Divilbiss is simply just not there anymore? Is that enough?

TUCK: For me, it's not.

LAKEISHA COLEMAN, MOTHER: No, because you can't trust that the culture will change for the next girl in line.

GANIM (voice-over): And the atmosphere wasn't confined just to the women's basketball team. Seven former football players tell CNN they too experienced harassment, bullying, forcing them to play injured and two allegations of physical attacks by head coach Tim Beckman. On both teams, players say coaches constantly threatened to take away scholarships, against university policy.

(on camera): The fact that this was alleged to have happened on two different teams, does that bother you in a bigger sense, that it wasn't just an isolated incident?

THOMAS: That's certainly troubling. And, for me, the primary concern of course is getting to the truth, so we can determine what the next steps are.

GANIM (voice-over): Summer workouts for the teams are just around the corner. The head women's coach, Matt Bollant, and football coach Tim Beckman are still leading their teams. Through the university, both declined to comment.


GANIM: Now, that lawsuit is asking for $10 million in damages.

Among other things, it claims the coaches on the women's basketball team segregated the players by race by -- for some road games and that coaches said that the black players were -- quote -- "undisciplined, west side ghetto street ball players."

School officials say they are -- quote -- "disappointed" that the suit was filed before the second internal investigation was complete -- Jake.

TAPPER: Sara, there are also claims, I understand, of medical mistreatment?

GANIM: Exactly, players on three different teams at Illinois have made allegations about injuries that weren't handled properly. A woman on the soccer team sued said her concussion was mishandled. Three former football players say they were pressured to play with injuries.

One told me he would limp down the field, Jake, and on the women's basketball team, one woman says that she was told to play with a strained foot, and it turned into a break. The university has hired a law firm to investigate those claims separately.

TAPPER: Sara Ganim, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the man who sparked an immigration debate after allegedly killing a woman in San Francisco facing a judge for the first time. He's now saying he wants the courts to punish him. That story next.

Plus remembering a powerful producer who helped shape the careers of many household Hollywood names.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In other national news today, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez is in court right now facing murder charges. Lopez Sanchez admitted to having shot Katie Steinle on San Francisco's Pier 14 last Thursday. Steinle later died from her wounds.

It's a case that has made national news because Lopez Sanchez is an undocumented immigrant with a long felony record who's been deported five times, but keeps coming back, even after that, even after a recent drug arrest, he was released from a jail by San Francisco authorities into the general populous because San Francisco does not cooperate with federal immigration laws it's a sanctuary city.

Dan Simon is in San Francisco outside the court. Dan, Lopez Sanchez had a felony record. He was deported to Mexico five times, a lot of talk lately of immigration and keeping border secure. What is the conversation about this in San Francisco?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, first of all, I want to tell you, I just received a press release from Senator Dianne Feinstein's office, one of two Democratic senators from California. She says that federal legislation may actually be necessary to fix this problem.

So something like this doesn't happen again. I want to read to you what she says. She says, "I strongly believe that an undocumented individual convicted of multiple felonies and with a detainer request from ICE should not have been released. We should focus on deporting convicted criminals, not setting them loose on our streets."

I think this basically reflects the general feeling that people have here in San Francisco that regardless of where you come down on this immigration debate, that somebody who has been deported five times and whose rap sheet includes seven felonies, that they shouldn't be on the streets -- Jake.

TAPPER: Except, of course, the California attorney general said that outrage over one man's conduct shouldn't shape immigration policy from the California AG there.

SIMON: That's right. Camilla Harris (ph) putting out that statement saying that one instance should not inform policy, but I think the -- there's some disagreement on that. Look, this is a situation where a guy should not have been in this country. I think there will be some push back toward Camilla Harris' office, we'll have to wait and see.

I should tell you that given that San Francisco is a liberal city in California is a liberal state, there is support for sanctuary cities, but this case is extraordinary. Given what we've said, the five deportations -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Dan Simon in San Francisco outside the courthouse there. Thank you so much.

In our Pop Culture Lead, he was a Hollywood legend who got his start promoting stars like Sinatra and Elvis. But some of Jerry Weintraub's biggest successes came later in life. We'll take a look back at his amazing career next.



TAPPER: -- now those who knew best are trying to say goodbye to an entertainment icon who died suddenly on Monday at the age of 77.


TAPPER (voice-over): He was larger than life, Frank Sinatra, sure, but actually I'm talking about this man, the producer who put Frank Sinatra center stage at Madison Square Garden for the main event, the concert promoter who discovered John Denver, the moviemaker who created spotlights for stars and still somehow managed to outshine most of them.

JERRY WEINTRAUB, HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER: I made an event out of everything in my life.

TAPPER: Jerry Weintraub was a giant of show business for more than 50 years. Living a life so large that his sudden death on Monday was tough for many to believe.

WEINTRAUB: I'm supposed to be in an old men's home, but I'm not going.

TAPPER: Weintraub was known for his well-earned rolodex compiled over decades filled with many more successes than failures.

WEINTRAUB: I want to fill Yankee stadium and I wanted to do this and that. And I knew I was going to do it.

TAPPER: The concert promoter worked with Elvis, Neil Diamond and Dolly Parton before then becoming a producer of dozens of films from Nashville -- to the "Karate Kid." Even hosting his friends the Bush's on set when George Herbert Walker Bush was vice president.

WEINTRAUB: It's important for people to understand that show business is a business.

TAPPER: Weintraub's renowned charm helped him lure big names to small projects and turn the productions into blockbusters.

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: He have a lot of stories even some I can tell about Jerry.

TAPPER: The "Ocean's 11" franchise may have been his most famous, but his film about Liberace, HBO's behind the candelabra may have received the most praise, 11 Emmys and two Golden Globes. I asked him about the project in 2013.

(on camera): How does Liberace size up in terms of entertainers, these big legendary entertainers that you've worked with.

WEINTRAUB: Well, he was a very flamboyant entertainer, he was Mr. Show business, Mr. Show man, he was a show man.

TAPPER (voice-over): As for this show man, the spotlight still shines. Weintraub was executive producing HBO's "The Brink" at the time of his death and has a remake of "Tarzan" coming out next year.

As his longtime friend, writer, Rich Cohen wrote this morning, the neon lights will be blazing above the pearly gates tonight, Jerry Weintraub presents.


TAPPER: That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over to Jim Sciutto who is filling for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.