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Michigan State House Conducting Internal Investigation Into State Representative Todd Courser; 25-year-old Rapper Lil B Switches Support from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders; Young Couple From Mississippi Arrested for Trying to Join ISIS. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 11, 2015 - 15:30   ET



[15:31:06] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Bottom of the hour, you're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Michigan statehouse is now conducting an internal investigation into a representative as accused of faking an email smear campaign. This is all in an apparent effort to deflect attention over his reported affair with another state representative and that's just the surface level here of this.

Let me bring in Boris Sanchez to explain to me all of the pieces of this puzzle.



SANCHEZ: It's a complex story, Brooke.


SANCHEZ: The state representative is accused of coming up with a self-directed smear campaign to distract from an alleged affair with a fellow state representative. Now investigators are looking at whether he inappropriately used funds to cover up an alleged affair.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gun-toting bible-thumping, (bleep) freak.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): This is a recording, allegedly of Michigan state representative Todd Courser, the Republican making scandalous accusations about himself.

STATE REP. TODD COURSER (R), MICHIGAN: Most days he is high, stoned, on drugs and alcohol while he's supposed to be voting. In between, he has seduced and taken advantage of rep Gamrat.

SANCHEZ: The recording obtained by the "Detroit News" was allegedly made in secret by a Courser aide during a meeting between the two. The aide explained to the paper that Courser can be heard reading from a draft of an email that Courser wrote himself. The email alleged Courser had sex with a male prostitute outside of a Lansing nightclub. It was later sent to Michigan Republican under a made-up name. But the whole story was fake, a self-directed smear campaign.

COURSER: What does this do? I need to, if possible, inoculate the herd against gutter politics that are coming.

SANCHEZ: Courser devised the e-mail after he reportedly received text messages threatening to reveal his alleged affair with fellow state representative Cindy Gamrat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a Christian and just doesn't talk the talk but walks the walk.

SANCHEZ: The two, who share an office, are both tea party conservatives.

COURSER: I'm a little to the right on pretty much every issue, even in the Republican Party.

SANCHEZ: Known for their stance on strong family values and for featuring their families in their campaigns.

COURSER: Together we can make a difference. Our children are depending on us to get this right.

SANCHEZ: But three days after the recording was made public, Courser responded with an audio statement apologizing for his actions saying Cindy Gamrat had nothing to do with it and claiming that he fabricated the story and email because he was being blackmailed and push to resign. He also claims the whole plot was designed to smoke out the blackmailers.

COURSER: It was not my finest moment. It was the only option that I felt would be unpredicted by the blackmailer.

SANCHEZ: Serious allegations from a man who says he won't back down.

COURSER: I refuse to leave quietly and have decided that these efforts really need to come out.

SANCHEZ: While Todd Courser has spoken out, Cindy Gamrat has yet to publicly address the allegations. CNN reached out to both Courser and Gamrat multiple times and neither has responded. And CNN continues to effort comment from the now former aides.


SANCHEZ: We say former aides because two of them were fired in July, another left his office in April. They released a joint statement today saying in part quote "attempts to blame others instead of accepting responsibility is unfortunate. Most important, an investigation will reveal the truth. There is absolutely no truth to the accusations against us by Mr. Courser, as will be proven."

I spoke to somebody at the statehouse who said that this investigation will take quite some time. They have a lot to dig up. BALDWIN: Don't hear about that often. Boris Sanchez, thank you very


Coming up, does Hillary Clinton have a Bernie Sanders problem?


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight, with the overflow crowd, we have more than 27,000 people!



[15:35:00] BALDWIN: On the same day, Bernie Sanders packed in arena with 27,000 supporters. The presidential candidate picked up a major union endorsement and even has one rap artist switching alliances from Hillary Clinton to Sanders. That rapper with his massive online following making the headlines today. He joins me to explain why he's now supporting Sanders for president.


[15:39:43] BALDWIN: All right. 25-year-old rapper Lil B doesn't have a record deal but you may recognize him from this.


BALDWIN: Moderately famous hit called "Van." But don't be fool, his fame spend much farther. He has You Tube posts netting 60 million views, a music catalog featuring thousands of songs, more than a million twitter followers including this man here.


[15:40:06] BALDWIN: Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, I'm talking about Lil B (INAUDIBLE) in the 2016 politics began to clash here (ph) when the rapper released a track supporting Bill Clinton. In it, a nod to the now presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The song a tad too inappropriate to play here on CNN but includes this rap endorsement, shout out to Hillary Clinton, you going to win that presidency.

That endorsement though short lived as will be shared this tweet with his adamant followers. As much as I want a woman leading the USA right now, it's all about Bernie. He's the real. He loves us. Signed Lil B.

Brandon "Lil B" McCartney joins me now live from San Francisco.

Lil B, welcome. Nice to meet you.

BRANDON "LIL B" MCCARTNEY, RAPPER: Hey, Brooke. How are you doing?

BALDWIN: I am wonderful. Thank you for joining me. So, I mean, one of the reason why we really talking to you is you really resonate among so many people, including the black lives matters movement. You noted in your song, "I can't breathe," memorializing Eric Garner. And, if I may, I think the New Yorker wrote about you a couple years ago summed it up the best. "Lil B" is the strangest rapper alive. He has none of the trappings of mainstream success, no video music awards, no Fallon appearances, no record deal but he is a celebrity on the internet."

Lil B, for people who have never heard of you, why do you think you're so influential when it comes to politics issues?

MCCARTNEY: Well, you know, this give me honest my range reaching everybody from the poorest of the poor, to the richest of the rich, to the middle class, and gives me being honest and putting that through music and spreading love through music, having fun. And, you know, just really being myself, priding myself on being myself, you know.

BALDWIN: In being yourself and in being honest, you have now made national news by declaring your support for Bernie Sanders and pulling away from Hillary Clinton. Why did you switch?

MCCARTNEY: Well, you know, the people that support Lil B and support my music, they are so eccentric and they have different viewpoints. So when people come to me about bring things to my attention, I start to really pay attention because I know these people are special and have different viewpoints. A lot of people started talking to me about (INAUDIBLE) and they bring stinks to my attention, I start to really pay attention because I know these people are special and they have a lot of different viewpoints. So a lot of people started to talk to me about Bernie Sanders and they are like, hey, you need to pay attention to him. And this is out of all of the candidates, from Republican to Democratic.

And I started paying attention a little bit more and, you know, really seeing that Bernie was a part of fighting against segregation, that was something that really touched my heart and I appreciated because, most likely I don't think that was cool for him to do that back then but he still marched. As well as I heard he was for free education, which that makes me so happy because there's a lot of poor kids that might want to learn, that actually do want to learn and -- but just like health care, people are scared to go to the doctor because the bill will be so expensive. And I know for a fact that there is free education and that will lower black on black crime, you know what I mean, and crime in general.

BALDWIN: I hear you. All of these issues. So the people who love you so much are bringing these issues to your attention. I mean, granted Hillary Clinton just did unveil a college education program that would be, you know, loan-free. But they are all coming up with their different plans.

I hear you on Bernie Sanders, and especially when it comes to, you know, his involvement in the civil rights movement. So here's my next question then, Lil B. Why do you think the black lives matter movement continues to interrupt her at events? I think also, important to mention, though, you know, her national -- Bernie Sanders' national press secretary is a black criminal justice advocate and is a supporter of the black lives movement.

MCCARTNEY: Well, I think Bernie handled the black lives matter demonstration, I think he handled it very classy. He didn't leave the stage. He let them speak. He was on stage with these ladies that felt the urgency to really speak and they would (INAUDIBLE), you know, there's a lot of issues in the African-American community, the black community, whatever you identify with. And they need to be spoken about. A lot of people suppress these things.

I am a victim of suppressing these things. I tend to turn the cheek on black violence because I've been -- it's been normalized to me. You know, you see a black person get killed and you're like, you know. And I feel horrible about that. So I commend the people that are taking a stance and fighting.

And there's times where I actually do feel horrible and I do want to take a stance. It's just that I've been so desensitized and it's a frustrating position to be in. As for my mom, she calls me a Republican sometimes and I'm like, I don't know about that.

[15:45:10] BALDWIN: Let me stay on that. No, it is really important that you bring that up. And I think it's also, you know, noteworthy that a lot of these different candidates on both sides, the Democrats and Republicans, are getting asked this question about the black lives movement, about race, about police brutality, which are, you know, a number of stories we've been covering really for the best part of the last year.

I'm curious, Lil B, when you listen to these candidates, how do you judge which candidate gives the best answer for you on that?

MCCARTNEY: Just really seeing which candidate goes -- who are they with the people, you know, just trying to see and with the people I mean the youth, the African-American people, the people that they call immigrants or minorities, and that where it hurts my feelings because I consider myself American, but when I have to fill out a job application, I have to either pick African-American or black or something like that which all ends up being statistics and it's confusing. But, you know, so when I judge these candidates, I really just try to look at their authenticity because we're all judging and it's sad that we do that and we categorize.

BALDWIN: We do. We judge.

MCCARTNEY: Yes. I'm a victim of it because I judged Hillary Clinton. You know, what I mean? And I'm not against Hillary Clinton. I support the Clinton legacy. Bill Clinton, I support him so much that I love Hillary on top. But --

BALDWIN: Look. Can I ask you, since you brought up Hillary Clinton, just quickly to you to use your word, is she cursed?

MCCARTNEY: Right. Can you repeat that, please?

BALDWIN: To use your word, is Hillary Clinton, now that you're not supporting her, is she cursed? MCCARTNEY: Hillary Clinton is not cursed, but I will be continuing to


BALDWIN: There you.

MCCARTNEY: No. All love to Hillary.

BALDWIN: There you go. Brandon "Lil B" McCartney, thank you so much. Good luck.

MCCARTNEY: Yes, thank you. Yes, love.

BALDWIN: We'll be right back.


[15:51:41] BALDWIN: A young couple from Mississippi just married, and now behind bars, arrested for trying to join ISIS. According to federal investigators. These unlikely suspects who just had their bail denied after attempting to get to Syria, a trip allegedly disguised as a honeymoon. The 19-year-old woman is a high school honorable student, a member of the homecoming court. And her father here is a police officer.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins me now.

Pamela, tell me more about these two.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: really incredible, Brooke. From the outside, this seems like a very normal couple. They are newlyweds, they got married back in June. They're from Mississippi, and their 20-year-old Jalen Young and 22-year-old Mohammed (INAUDIBLE). And they were arrested on Saturday at the airport in Mississippi charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS after allegedly trying to travel to Turkey and on to Syria according to officials.

Now, the young woman right here, she's the daughter of a police officer of Mississippi. She had been studying chemistry at Mississippi State University. And law enforcement officials say that she had recently converted to Islam. Her new husband was apparently the son of a local imam. And these court documents we have been going through, Brooke, alleged that the two began corresponding on social media with undercover FBI agents back in May and talked about wanting to join ISIS in Syria. In fact, Young, the woman, seemed to be the most enthusiastic about joining the terrorist group, talking about wanting to have kids while live there in Syria. And authorities say she even praise the recent Chattanooga shooting that killed four marines.

In one conversation, if we take a look here, it says what makes me feel better after watching the news is that a brother carried out an attack against U.S. marines in Tennessee. Really, disturbing there. And she also allegedly, Brooke, told undercover agents that the two could provide a variety of skills to the terrorist group including media expertise, medical aid as well, (INAUDIBLE) after they were arrested at the airport on Saturday, actually confessed to attempting to join ISIS.

But Brooke, this is exactly what authorities have been warning about, the concern of the influence social media has on young people.

BALDWIN: Honeymoon in Syria, perhaps not. Pamela Brown, thank you very much.

Coming up, we have more on our breaking news. The new polling just released showing Donald trump maintaining his lead as the Republican front-runner for president.

And also, next, a video that's tough to look at here. This bike race through the Utah Mountains goes terribly wrong.


[15:58:21] BALDWIN: We're learning new details about the crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed fellow comedian James McNair last year. Federal officials have learned that the time of the crash, Walmart truck driver Kevin Roper had been awake for 28 hours and was driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. The deadly accident happened when Roper slammed into the back of a limo carrying Morgan, McNair and several others. That was last June. He has been charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.

And before I show you this next video, just keep in mind we are showing it to you because I can tell you that this guy survives. It's tough to watch, keep your eye on the highlighted bike on the left of your screen.


BALDWIN: I don't care how many times you watch that, it's just -- the first cyclist, he broke several ribs, punctured a lung, fractured his pelvis. Other than all of that, he is OK. That was the support vehicle that he slammed into, it happened on a mountain during the tour of Utah.

OK. Enough.

OK, before I go, you don't want to miss the second Republican debate on September 16th at the Ronald Reagan library in California, and CNN will also be hosting the first of the six democratic debates, the October 13th debate live from Nevada right here on CNN.

And that does it for me here in New York, I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being with me. See you back here this time tomorrow.

In the meantime, keep it on CNN, "the LEAD" with Jake Tapper Starts right now.