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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Mark Green Withdraws As Army Secretary Nominee; W.H. Considers Massive Budget Cuts To Anti-Drug Policy; Confusion Over Pre-Existing Conditions: Who's Covered; Report: Trump Team Warned Flynn About Russia Contact; Keeping Them Honest: Border Wall Claim; Trump-Murdoch Ties Drawing Scrutiny; New Details On Aaron Hernandez's Apparent Prison Suicide. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired May 5, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:23] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to "360." The president is spending another weekend at a Trump golf resort, this time in New Jersey with a lot of breaking news happening tonight in Washington. Athena Jones joins me with the latest. So, Athena, major setback tonight for President Trump's Army Secretary nominee.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. That's right. The White House and the Pentagon aren't commenting on this, but this is a huge setback. This is an administration that has struggled to fill positions across the government, including key post and important agencies like the State Department.
And when it comes to this particular post, Army Secretary, this is the second nominee to withdraw his name. The first one was a billionaire. He withdrew because he had issues divesting from his investment holding. Mark Green withdrew after coming under fire for controversial statements he's made in the past on Islam, on evolution, on LGBT issues. At one point he said that being transgender is a disease.
Now, Green is blaming the liberal left for distorting his words, but it isn't just liberals who are expressing concerns. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain also took issue with some of the things he had to say, but a still clear -- a clear setback with it comes to filling this post, Anderson.
COOPER: And, separately, this word that the administration might be preparing to drastically cut the budget of the White House Drug Policy Office, what's the latest you're hearing on that?
JONES: Well, this is really interesting. We're talking about nearly 94 percent proposed cut to that office, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, leaving the budget going -- having the budget go from nearly $400 million to just over $20 million. This is coming at a time when the Centers for Disease Control say that opioid overdoses have reached epidemic levels.
And, of course, tackling the opioid crisis is something that the president promised to do over an over again on the campaign trail. So this is leaving some folks scratching their heads. Perhaps the writing was on the wall about this. This particular group's website has been blank since inauguration day. So that may have been a signal.
I should also mention, Anderson, this is coming at a time when Republicans on Capitol Hill are working on legislation, this new health care repeal bill that would allow states to decide what benefits insurers have to cover. That's very different from Obamacare rules that require insurers to cover so-called essential benefits like mental health and substance abuse. So this is leaving a lot of people upset right now. Anderson?
COOPER: Athena Jones, appreciate it.
According to "New York Times," the president's acting drugs are called the proposed cuts the drug policy office heart breaking in an e-mail with staff. The CDC says opioid overdoses, as you heard from Athena, have reached epidemic levels and it is something the president promised that he would address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Never before has there been a drug epidemic like we have in our country.
The youth of our country is being poisoned with what's coming across the boarder. They're poisoning our youth.
We're going to work with people. We're going to set up programs. We're going to try everything we can to get them unaddicted.
We are going to work very hard with medical professionals to take care of those people that are so badly addicted.
We're going to happy help the people that are so badly addicted.
We're going to help them
We will help all of those people so seriously addicted. We'll get them assistance. We'll make sure that they have the top treatment and get better. We got to get them better. We got a lot of people that is strung out on bad stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me now, Maggie Haberman, April Ryan, Bakari Sellers, and Jason Miller.
Jason, you know, obviously the president spoke very, you know, eloquently and passionately during the campaign, you know, when he was in New Hampshire. Clearly, he was affected by people he had talked to. How do you square those comments with this kind of proposal of cutting the budget by 94 percent?
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, Anderson, you're exactly right that this is something that the president was very passionate about on the campaign trail, certainly his family likes so many of our families. You know, my families have been impacted by it and I'm sure every single person on your panel can talk to an immediate or close family member who's gone through a struggle with opioid addiction.
My understanding in talking with folks in the administration is that the program is going to be reformed and this administration is going to pay just as much attention, spend just as much time on opioid addiction as any administration before.
In a couple -- there are a couple startling statistics that I would put in front of you. Just in the previous administration from 2009 to 2015, the amount of opioid overdoses went from 20,000 to 35,000 a year. And just with heroin alone, it went from about 3,000 a year to 13,000 overdose deaths every year.
COOPER: Right. But, this is the --
COOPER: -- that supposedly coordinates a lot of the state responses and stuff to these overdoses, to drugs.
[21:05:02] MILLER: Well, and that's -- I mean, look, clearly, what we're doing right now isn't working. You see the way that these numbers are skyrocketing. I mean, this is not Nancy Reagan in the war on drugs from the 1980s. We are not fighting this well as a nation and we need to. And I think it's good that the administration is going to restructure this and come out with some new solutions and some new approaches to dealing with this.
COOPER: Maggie, I mean, does this square with what the president said during the campaign?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: If this is what it is and this is the only way they're handling it, no, it does not. I'm not really sure on how this squares with this new office of innovation or American innovation that Jared Kushner is heading. And I think that is to put -- the opioid crisis as supposed to be under his per view.
I have no idea whether they're planning on transferring the money or adjusting the budget line or something, but on the face of it, if that is all it is, that raises an enormous amount of questions. I have to --
COOPER: So he's got China policy.
COOPER: He's got Middle East --
COOPER: -- the opioid epidemic. HABERMAN: During the transition he often said to tech executives that everything runs through me, and that apparently is quite literal right now. I don't know what this means in terms of the budget. The president was talked about it frequently on the campaign trail. It's a much harder issue to actually solve with practice than it is to talk about.
And Jason said something about the war on drugs of the 1980s. The administration is actually approaching other drug issues in sort of a war on drug approach. I mean, there is a very sort of tough on crime approach that the attorney general has taken, that members of the administration have taken. So I'm not sure how this all squares.
COOPER: April, is it possible just like a trial balloons sort of running this up and then any other lesser cuts won't seem quite (inaudible)?
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: This president said he was going to make massive cuts, domestic cuts and focus more so on the military. But he also said he wanted to build a wall to in part stop the drug problem.
So I don't know if he's trying to offset this wall to counter drugs, but what it does is, is it tells his base that he's not keeping a promise. He spoke to a large part of white America, white America, that's having this drug problem.
Heroin, opioid addiction, he said in just what you played those thoughts, he said that he's going to deal with it and now his campaign promise seems like it's teetering on possibly not being fulfilled, but at the same time this is very draconian. I mean, to make a 94 percent cut, that is huge.
COOPER: You know, interesting, Bakari, because obviously, you know, the president has talked about the wall as being something that would prevent drugs from being brought across.
Obviously, you know, heroin -- black tar heroin is an issue coming across the borders being smuggled in, in a variety of ways. But it's really prescription pills, which many people start out with, they end up on heroin because it's cheaper and actually easier to get.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN ANALYST: Correct. When you look at New Hampshire, when you look in this part of Vermont, when you look in these parts of America where you're dealing with these opioid crisis, no, it's not heroin which is the leadoff, which is the gateway, many times you see people overdosing or using these prescription drugs.
And so when you look at what's happened over the last two days, when you look at the fact that the House Republican GOP (inaudible) Budweiser and repealed and replaced Obamacare name only. But, yes, it did take away those protections for individuals who are going through substance abuse.
I mean, you look at today and you see that they fraction the office or crippled the officer or destroy the office where you can combat this opioid abuse. You have to say that his promise is following --
COOPER: Well, to Jason's point there he's saying -- Jason says, "Look, it's not working. It's worse than before."
SELLERS: I mean, let me talk about Democrats and Republicans for one moment, because we haven't gotten the issue of drugs in our country right in either party. I mean, I think that April and I sit here and we smirk a little bit because the drugs are now ravaging white America, people are all of a sudden concerned.
But when we had a crack epidemic, which was -- to that my family, to Jason's point, he said members of your family, you know, I pray to God that and I'm thankful that none of my family had to deal with this opioid crisis, but my family has had to deal with a crack epidemic. And not only that, but we dealt with the punishments from the Bush and Clinton years which put many African-American males in jail.
And so what we see is what we have been doing when it comes to has not been working, but the draconian methods of Donald Trump and Attorney General Sessions, we seen that before. And I can tell you and everyone else watching, that ain't going to work either.
RYAN: I want to piggy back off to something. I want to piggy back off to something that Bakari said, when you deal with the issue that the black community has been dealing with for a very long time. And I'm going back to the Clinton years. Crack cocaine versus powder cocaine, Jeff Sessions stopped the one-to-one ratio. It's now 18 to one. That -- during the Clinton years it was 100 to one.
RYAN: Jeff Sessions stopped it from being one-to-one it's not 18 to one, but the disparity in sentencing.
COOPER: Jason, your thought?
MILLER: And, Anderson -- yeah. One other point here is this is one of the things they're bringing in Governor Chris Christie from New Jersey to help organize. And just so we're clear, I do not believe and my understanding is that there is not going to be a 95 percent cut to the overall fight against drugs or the effort to try to stop opioid addiction.
[21:10:08] It's just their restructuring and reformatting this to bring some new solutions to the table and I think that's good, because you look at the skyrocketing numbers, and clearly, what's been going on over the past 8 years, over the 16 years, has not been working.
COOPER: We'll obviously follow on this closely. Thanks very much, everyone.
As the health care bill moves to the Senate, how some House members who voted for it are facing anger back in their districts? Watch what happened in a town hall in Idaho with -- over a Republican Congressman Raul Labrador.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) people on Medicaid accept dying. You are making --
REP. RAUL LABRADOR, (D) IDAHO: No one knows anybody tonight, you know, that? That line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, in case you didn't catch that, Congressman Labrador said that nobody dies because they don't have access to health care and you heard that reaction there at the room.
As the bill does make its way through the Senate process, there could be, obviously, significant changes. One of the sticking points will be the issue of pre-existing conditions.
Protection for people with pre-existing conditions is one of the most popular elements of Obamacare and President Trump promised the Republican version will be, "Every bit is good." The House version leaves some legal room for states and insurers. Our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now with more and what's (inaudible).
First of all, Elizabeth, I mean, a lot of people have pre-existing conditions. Does this new bill affect all of them?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Anderson, it doesn't. If you're over 65 and you're on Medicare and maybe supplemental Medicare, and then it doesn't affect you. So this isn't absolutely for everyone. Or if you get your insurance through an employer, then the pre-existing part, pre-existing conditions parts of this don't affect you.
But, if you are on what's called the individual market, if you're buying insurance on your own, then these conditions about pre-existing conditions, they will affect you.
COOPER: So what affect would it have on people in that group with pre-existing conditions?
COHEN: Well, it could have no effect, because insurance companies do have to sell you policies. That's something that started under Obamacare and they can't up charge you. They can't charge you more because you have this pre-existing condition.
But, Anderson, there's a but here and it is a big but. If you don't pay your premiums and you have a 63-day lapse in insurance, so just 63 days you go without insurance, then the system says, "Aha, now we can charge you whatever we want for a year." So I'm told that those charges could be tens of thousands of dollars a year or even higher.
So, you know, in that sense, you think, you know, what would people do? I mean, even though it's only one year that you can face these very high charges, if they're very high and you can't afford it, you're basically uninsured.
COOPER: I mean, we have heard a lot about the high risk pools, are they going to help people with pre-existing conditions?
COHEN: You know, they could, but they can also be a problem. So if you do have that lapse in insurance and you have a pre-existing condition, that's when you go into your state high risk pool. So it's there for you. They have to insure you.
But, again, they can charge you whatever they want for a year. There's no guarantees about what they're going to charge you and there's no guarantees about what they're going to cover. They might not cover certain things. And so critics are saying, wait a second, this is really a problem.
Now, Republicans say, "Hey, we're going to put billions of dollars into these high risk pools just to make sure that people can afford them." So, you know, that's an option that states can have is to use that money. But many experts I talked to said even though it's billions of dollars, it may not be enough.
COOPER: And what about people on Medicaid with pre-existing conditions?
COHEN: Now, people on Medicaid with pre-existing condition, Medicaid have to take them and they can't charge them extra. So, that's good news. But, there's a very big piece of bad news for people on Medicaid. Do you remember what Obamacare did was they had expanded Medicaid.
COHEN: So the federal government said, "Here, we're going to give you money to insure more people on Medicaid." Well, if that gets taken away under this Republican bill.
So that's a lot of people who took advantage of expanded Medicaid, who probably wouldn't be able to under this bill and then they're going to find themselves in a situation as all these other Americans or on the individual market.
They're not getting it through their employer. They're going to be on the individual market and they can suffer the same problems that we just been talking about if they have a pre-existing condition.
COOPER: Yeah. Well, let see what the Senate does on this. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks.
COOPER: Just ahead, there's more breaking news tonight in the Russia- White House watch. A new report tonight that senior members of President Trump's transition team warned former national security adviser Michael Flynn about the risk of his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
Also ahead, a follow up to our "Keeping Them Honest" report on the claims the White House has made repeatedly this week about the fence in this photo that they said is a border fence, it's not. But the White House is saying now based on our reporting.
[21:17:49] COOPER: Breaking news tonight in the Russia-White House watch. "The Washington Post" is reporting that senior members of President Trump's transition team warned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn about the risk of his contact with the Russian ambassador.
Now, according to the report, these warnings came weeks before Flynn was recorded discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. That phone call led to Flynn's force resignation two weeks after he became National Security Adviser because he lied to the vice-president about it.
On Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about General Flynn. The former director of national intelligence will also testify before the panel. Jim Scuitto joins us now with details. What do we expect from this hearing on Monday?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, from Sally Yates, Anderson, you're going to have the former acting Attorney General contradicting the White House on Michael Flynn saying that nearly three weeks before he was fired by President Trump, she delivered a forceful warning to the White House that he was in danger of being compromised by Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The honorable Sally Yates.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): For 10 days in January she was the acting U.S. Attorney General. And on one of those days, she delivered a forceful warning to the White House regarding then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: I want to thank you for your leadership.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Now on Monday, Sally Yates will for the first time tell her account of that warning to the Senate Judiciary Committee. CNN has learned that in a January 26th meeting with White House Counsel Don McGahn, Yates said that Flynn was lying when he denied discussing U.S. sanctions on Russia with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. Flynn's misleading comments, Yates told the White House, made him potentially vulnerable to blackmail by Russia.
YATES: Welcome to the Department of Justice.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Yates' account contradicts that of the White House, which has described her warning in far less serious terms.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The acting Attorney General informed the White House Counsel that they wanted to give, "a heads- up" to us on some comments that may have seemed in conflict with what he had sent the vice president.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Just days after delivering the warning, Yates was fired for refusing to enforce President Trump's travel ban. Yates' testimony comes as the multiple congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election put on bipartisan appearances.
[21:20:08] REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We're working together very well, the whole committee is, and grateful for that opportunity.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Meanwhile, the questions from lawmakers in open session tell a very different story. Republicans focused on alleged leaks of classified information.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) IOWA: Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in the news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?
SEN. BASE SASSE, (R) NEBRASKA: There are clearly members of the I.C., that have at different points in the past, leaked classified information. That is an illegal act, correct?
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Democrats focused on any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: The President of the United States could be a target of your ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's involvement with Russian interference in our election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From an investigative standpoint, is the sheer number of connections unusual or significant?
COPPER: How much will you (ph) to actually be able to say publicly in this hearing since a lot of the information is classified?
SCIUTTO: This is a big problem with these hearings, the public versus the classified sessions. In public, there's a real limit as to how far she can go.
She can say, as we reported, that she delivered this warning and it was 18 days before the White House fired him. She could go there, but she can't get into the classified information that was the basis of her assessment that he could be blackmailed in effect by Russia.
And we also, I should say from Yates, Clapper and others, not expecting a major Russia bombshell. In other words, some sort of revelation about Trump-Russia contacts, at least in the public setting.
COOPER: Also, we should talk about this what being describe as a massive hack on a document dumped into the e-mails of one of the candidates in the French presidential elections just a day before voters go to the polls. What is the latest? SCIUTTO: Anderson, you know, incredibly alarming deja vu here. You have a candidate, Emmanuel Macron, you're seeing his picture on the screen there now. A globalist, pro-European, less than 36 hours before French voters go to the polls in this election, nine gigabytes of e-mails, photos, targeting just him dating up to April 24th, just a little more than a week or two ago released onto the web, fitting a pattern that, of course, we're familiar with here in the U.S. of document and e-mails releases targeting one candidate in the election.
And I should note as you have noted in the previous hour, Anderson, that his opponent, Marine Le Pen, is a pro-Russian candidate. She's been accused of taking money from Russia. Fits a pattern here and I will add one more thing that U.S. intelligence officials have been telling me for weeks that they expect a Russia emboldened by its punitive success here in the U.S. to target elections in France, Germany and that may very well be what we are seeing here.
COOPER: Yeah. She got multimillion dollar (ph) alone from a Russian bank. She says, "No French bank would lend her money." Jim Sciutto, thanks.
Up next, Gary Tuchman has "Keeping Them Honest" follow-up on a White House claim that a flimsy, chain-link border fence is being replaced by that big steel fencing. It's not true. Today, Gary finally got a response in the White House on why they made that claim.
[21:25:02] COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" follow-up to a story we brought you last week. Today, President Trump signed the spending bill into law that will keep the government running through the fall.
Now, we've been showing you, through some great reporting by our Gary Tuchman, that some claims about border wall construction, well, just aren't true. It all started earlier this week when two separate White House officials stood at the podium in the press room and pointed to photos that they say showed flimsy, chain-link border fencing that was being replaced by big steel fencing.
The whole thing was basically try to bolster their claim and campaign promise that they're serious about building a border wall. Here's what Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET DIRECTOR: We are building this now. There is money in this deal to build several hundreds of millions of dollars of this to replace this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, we decided to check that out. We sent Gary Tuchman to the border construction site. He is pointing to a fence, a chain-link fence, basically saying that was like this flimsy border protection that they were rebuilding and making into a much sturdier fencing. It's in Sunland Park, New Mexico. Here is some of what Gary found. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In addition to the frequent trains chugging along the border, one of the first things we noticed here was this empty chain-link fence suffering the countries, which a child on the Mexican side was climbing, a fence the budget director actually pointed out.
MULVANEY: This doesn't stop drugs and it doesn't stop criminals from crossing the border. In fact, it doesn't stop hardly anything from crossing the border.
TUCHMAN: Press Secretary Sean Spicer also noted it.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And if you look at that one in particular, you got a chain-link fence, is what is currently on our southern border. That is literally down there now. We are able to go in there and instead of having a chain-link fence, replace it with that bollard wall.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Well, "Keeping Them Honest," again, the chain- link fence has never been a border fence. Workers and law enforcement on the scene, who say they can't go on camera, tell us it's just part of the construction site put up by the construction workers for safety.
COOPER: And, Gary, it's unbelievable that -- I mean, two folks in the White House, Sean Spicer and Mulvaney were both pointing to this as a border fence when it's just -- that's just not true. So to be clear, that was never, ever a border wall or a border fence. It was only put up to help with construction?
TUCHMAN: That's standard protocol when you build these border walls or improve the actual border walls or border fences that you put up chain-link construction fences in order to keep everyone safe on both sides of the border, you want people running through while you are constructing it so it's a temporary fix. So, yes, it's a temporary thing, Anderson.
COOPER: And you've been trying to get a response from the White House and anybody in the government. I understand you got a call today from the Office of Management and Budget. What do they say?
TUCHMAN: Right. So I did talk to the director of communications for the budget director and he says it's an honest mistake. What he told me was they did not know it was a temporary fence and we're surprised by it, maybe we should have been more clear. And they absolutely made their point much easier, because there are hundreds of miles of this border where there is no fence.
TUCHMAN: Or where there's fence up to your knees, that's just barbed wire. So, it would have been easier to make the point by finding something else, but they just made a presumption that this fence, next to the steel wall that they were building, was part of the border fence.
[21:30:05] It was a presumption they made and it was a presumption that was wrong.
COOPER: Right. And I guess nobody bothered to check. Just as we played just a minute ago, Mulvaney was saying, "We are building this now. There is money in this deal to build several hundred of millions of dollars of this to replace this." What did the office have to say about that?
TUCHMAN: Well, the fact is, they do have money now that they can start building the wall where there was wall before. That will be allowed with the money they have now.
The Trump administration, though, cannot build new wall where there wasn't wall. One quote they made, though, Anderson, the other day that the budget director made was he said, "This stuff is going up now, why, because the president wants to make this country safe." The intonation there was that the wall that we saw in Sunland Park, New Mexico was the result of Donald Trump.
TUCHMAN: The communications director says, "We acknowledged it has nothing to do with Donald Trump on the beginning of the wall, but that he could stop construction now if he wanted to." They also said that the back call perhaps wasn't very clear also, said, "We're not trying to take credit for that fence in Sunland Park, New Mexico. If people got that impression, that is not what we were trying to say."
COOPER: It does seem like that's clearly what they were trying to do. Make it sound like this was something, you know, that's why this budget was a win for them because they were doing this wall, when in fact -- as you said that wall went up because of George W. Bush and there's -- I mean, even under President Obama they could continue to repair a wall.
TUCHMAN: Well, not only George W. Bush. But, right, it was George W. Bush and Barack Obama who allowed it to continue. Donald Trump had nothing to do with it. But that was an interesting point that he brought to me. He said that Donald Trump was now the president, if he had the feeling that he didn't want a fence to be built, he can stay stop the construction. He's not stopping it. In that sense, he's responsible.
But then they said also, "Yes, we're not trying to make the impression that he is responsible for the fence in the pictures that we showed during the news conference. Yes, we made honest mistakes."
COOPER: All right. Gary Tuchman, "Keeping Them Honest," thanks very much.
Up next, President Trump's friendship with Rupert Murdoch is raising questions tonight. The media mogul introduced the president at a dinner last night here in New York at a time when the Department of Justice is investigating Murdoch's Fox News. Now, this raises ethical and legal questions. We will talk it over with our Jeffrey Toobin and Maggie Haberman.
[21:36:04] COOPER: President Trump's meeting with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull brought Mr. Trump back to New York for the first time since he took office. They talked face-to-face aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid, now a museum.
The event also put a spotlight on President Trump's close ties to media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who is one of the speakers at last night's dinner after the Trump-Turnbull meeting. He introduced, in fact, President Trump. It's no secret the two men have a long running relationship.
And now that Mr. Trump is president, it's more complicated than ever. Tonight, their ties and mutual praise for each other are raising concerns. Brian Stelter has the latest.
RUPERT MURDOCH, CHAIRMAN, NEWS CORPORATION: The commander-in-chief, the President of the United States, my friend Donald J. Trump.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump being introduced by 21st Century Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Thursday. Trump echoing those warm words.
TRUMP: Thank you to my very good friend, Rupert Murdoch.
STELTER (voice-over): The president also touting his past financial contributions to one of Murdoch's pet causes, the American Australian Association.
TRUMP: Through years through Rupert, every year, he'd send me this letter, "Could you lease give money." I'd say, "What do I have to do with that Rupert?" And I just kept sending him money, money. And now I realized, that was money well spent. That's right. Right, Rupert?
STELTER (voice-over): It's a line that might have gotten a laugh, but it's a relationship that's raising questions about possible conflict.
The U.S. Justice Department, which President Trump oversees, is investigating the Murdoch-owned Fox News, looking into settlement payments, stemming from harassment complaints against former Fox News boss, Roger Ailes.
Could the close relationship between Trump and Murdoch stymie the pursuit of justice? The president loves Fox News. It's his favorite network and he's a frequent guest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How was Easter?
TRUMP: It was great. STELTER (voice-over): Murdoch's paper, like "The New York Post," helps to boost Trump to celebrity status in the 1980. Much later, Fox's opinion shows help to lay the seeds for Trump's election wins.
Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times" says, "Trump and Murdoch now speak almost every day even as the Justice Department investigates Murdoch's profit-making Fox News machine."
Thursday's high profile Trump-Murdoch meeting, calling to mind another eyebrow raising meeting that Trump criticized heavily on the campaign trail. He blasted former President Bill Clinton's meeting with then Attorney General Loretta Lynch as the DOJ was investigating Hillary Clinton's e-mails.
TRUMP: So, she met with him for 45 minutes on the back of an airplane on the tarmac in Arizona. I think it's disgraceful. I think it's a disgrace.
STELTER (voice-over): But now that Trump is president, it's his relationships that are raising questions.
Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.
COPPER: Lots to discuss. Back with me is CNN Political Analyst, The New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman. And joining us is also CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
So, Maggie, how close are the president and Rupert Murdoch?
HABERMAN: Much closer since Donald Trump became president than before he was the president. They had a decades-long relationship. But that basically goes back to when Rupert Murdoch owned -- and owns "The New York Post" and Fox News.
Fox News obviously helped President Trump's campaign a lot because he was on a lot, even before he was a candidate. And Trump sort of became a phenomenon on the New York City gossip pages through page 6 on "The New York Post."
Rupert Murdoch was never particularly close to Trump. They knew each other. They were not similar types of businessman. One was much wealthier than the other. I think that Rupert Murdoch did not see Trump as a serious contender for a very long time for the presidency. But, he has always craved a serious advisory style relationship with a U.S. president.
He did not have that with George W. Bush. He clearly didn't have that with Bill Clinton. And now he is essentially efforting that with Donald Trump. They speak, if not daily, several times a week.
COOPER: Wow, really?
HABERMAN: They're the kind -- and we reported this in the "Times" a couple weeks ago. [21:40:03] The content of the conversation is a little unclear. It is said to include essentially a broad set of issues. Murdoch has urged him to stay focused on the economy, urged him to stay more broadly focused on foreign policy, but with specific targets.
There is the question of whether this is wise given the fact that the Justice Department is overseeing a probe into payouts to women who had alleged sexual harassment at Fox News.
COOPER: Right, which the president has been very supportive of Bill O'Reilly and also even Roger Ailes.
HABERMAN: That's right. I think he has distanced himself from Ailes. I think that that has changed. They really don't speak anymore as I understand it from several people. In the case of Murdoch, they clearly do.
But in terms of Bill O'Reilly, when my colleague, Glenn Thrush and I were in the Oval Office a couple weeks ago and we were speaking to the president, he mentioned Bill O'Reilly in another context, off the record, and I asked him whether he thought O'Reilly was being treated unfairly and he defended him pretty strongly.
COOPER: I mean, Jeff, is this -- it's not illegal. Is it inappropriate? I mean, I guess you could -- I'm trying to think about this compare to Clinton and Lynch meeting on the tarmac.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's the difference between laws and norms. Certainly, it is not illegal for Donald Trump to talk to Rupert Murdoch every day if he wants to. But, he is part of a company that's under investigation and every other president that I'm aware of would have a White House council who would say, you know, just cool it. Don't do -- it doesn't look right.
But, you know, Donald Trump has made his name violating what we think of as norms, not rules. I mean, the most famous being releasing your tax returns.
TOOBIN: That's been a norm of American politics for decades. It's not a law. And Donald Trump won the presidency without releasing his tax returns. This is the kind of thing that, you know, it is not illegal, but no other president that I can think of and Democrat or Republican would talk to a CEO a lot who is, in effect, under federal investigation.
COOPER: The -- I mean, obviously, Fox News has -- while during the campaign, you know, there were some folks at Fox News and Megyn Kelly, who is, you know, tough with Donald Trump, critical of Donald Trump, maybe even Tucker Carlson to some degree until he got his own show, it seems like there's -- they're now fully on board on the Trump train.
HABERMAN: I think that Rupert Murdoch has a habit when he gets behind someone of essentially being all in. And I think that you're seeing that now. I do think there are a lot of very good straight news reporters at Fox News.
COOPER: Sure, absolutely.
HABERMAN: There are people who are not, you know, sort of appeared to be pushing in one direction or another. Absolutely, Chris Wallace has very good interviews and they're very tough interviews. But I do think that on the whole, you are seeing tonally very supportive day in and day out of the president and unquestioning of whether some of his agenda is meeting what he says it is or whether they are being forthright with the facts.
COOPER: Do you think this is appropriate?
HABERMAN: I think as Jeffrey said it is not illegal, but I think that it's not something I can think of anyone else doing. And I think that it is -- it raises questions about the appearance and it is the question you asked this. I don't know how different this is from the Loretta Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton on an airplane and that created a huge stir.
COOPER: All right. Maggie Haberman and Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.
New details on the apparent prison suicide of former NFL star, Aaron Hernandez. What investigators believe happened in his final hours.
[21:47:04] COOPER: Today, we have new information on the apparent prison suicide of former NFL star, Aaron Hernandez. He was found hanging in his Massachusetts prison cell on April 19th. Just days earlier, a jury had found Hernandez not guilty in a double murder case.
The former New England Patriots player was already serving a life sentence for a previous murder conviction. Separate reports released by state police and the Department of Corrections offer some insight into Hernandez's final days and hours. Jean Casarez reports.
JEAN CASAREZ CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the middle of the night when Aaron Hernandez was found. At 3:03 a.m. a corrections officer observed a sheet hanged in front of Hernandez's cell door. The officer poked at a piece of the sheet. The sheet fell. That's when the officer saw Hernandez hanged naked from the window.
He used one of his bed sheets. The floor of his cell was covered in shampoo. Hernandez was then cut down by the officers and they began to perform chest compressions. Hernandez was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m.
(on camera): Video surveillance of Hernandez's cell block shows that no one entered his cell after 8:00 p.m. But at some point between the 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. cell checks, Hernandez had methodically created an elaborate suicide scene. (voice-over): Hernandez's right middle finger had a fresh cut with blood on his hand. Investigators found a bible in the cell, you are looking at the front cover, the bible opened to John 3:16 with blood marking the verse.
Next to the bible were three handwritten notes, one of those letters written to his fiancee was released today in legal filings. "Shay, you have always been my soul mate and I want you to live life and know I'm always with you. I told you what was coming indirectly. I love you so much and know you are an angel."
Investigators spoke to inmates about Hernandez after his death. Many said he was excited after his recent acquittal in his double murder trial. They described him as positive, happily emotional. They said he had gotten more spiritual as time progressed in prison, even talked about playing in the NFL again and had requested his laundry be ready for an upcoming weekend visit by his fiancee and daughter. That visit never happened.
Despite these positives, his reality was rather grim. He was serving a life term for first degree murder. One inmate told police that shortly before lock in that final night, Hernandez came to his cell door saying what could have been his final words. "Remember, when you die, your soul gets re-incarnated."
With the death investigation now closed, Hernandez's lawyer remains unsatisfied saying he and his team of experts will begin an independent investigation into his death alleging the total lack of professionalism exhibited by government officials and their employees during this entire process is unprecedented.
[21:50:17] COOPER: So, Jean, why is the defense so intent on launching new investigations?
CASAREZ: Well, Jose Baez is not alleging impropriety or a different cause or manner of death, but he believes that they have their investigators, they have good ones. And also in the forensic aspect, another set of eyes needs to investigate all of this.
He's also saying that the family of Hernandez, they were not treated well. They were never apprised by the state of what the investigation was doing, that the media knew more than they did.
And, Anderson, we have just gotten a letter from Jose Baez. It's actually a statement in regard to the suicide note that was attached today to the legal filing, which we just heard about in my story. I read it. And he says that it didn't have to be in that filing. It's clearly amateur hour, he says. Instead of protecting victims, they are punishing and torturing the Hernandez family who need to grieve.
COOPER: Strong words. Jean Casarez, Jean, thanks very much. Appreciate it. Now, an infamous missing person case. It was 10 years ago this week, hard to imagine, when Madeleine McCann vanished while sleeping in an apartment during a family vacation in Portugal. She was just days shy of her fourth birthday. And decade later, a lot of leads have been followed and still no sign of her.
Randi Kaye covered the story when it first happened. Tonight, she has a special report that premieres at the top of the next hour right here on CNN. Here's a preview.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are two witnesses who say independent one another that they saw what they described as a very ugly, pock marked or spotty skinned man watching apartment 5-A.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another witness reported having seen suspicious men on a balcony near the McCann's apartment just hours before Madeleine disappeared.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meanwhile, an upstairs neighbor saw another man very acting suspiciously in the little pathway between the pool garden and apartment 5-A.
KAYE (voice-over): And there was more. British police released a sketch of one of the men they say had approached nearby apartments, asking residents for donations to a local orphanage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, there was no such orphanage. So clearly, these men were involved in some kind of a crime, possibly just burglary, but possibly something else.
COOPER: And Randi joins us now for more on the special report. Do the police think that the McCanns were being watched?
KAYE: They do. I mean certainly in the days leading up to that, there are a lot of witnesses you say that they noticed strange men, as you heard there, standing around at the gate area and looking into the windows of this apartment 5-A where they stayed. And we went back there to Praia da Luz, Portugal and with the Spanish investigator who worked with the family and we stood on the corner and he showed us why their apartment would had been more exposed because it was on the corner. There were a lot of different access points. So that is why they think they are being watched.
The question is, why were they being watched if that is the case? Were they being watched so somebody could take her for some type of black market adoption operation or sex trafficking ring? Or maybe it was just a botched burglary or burglary gone bad? The parents still holding out hope that she's alive. Kate McCann still buys Christmas presents for her every year hoping --
KAYE: -- that one day she'll be able to give them to her.
COOPER: Randi Kaye, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Randi's special report, "Missing: Madeleine McCann" is just minutes away. That's at the top of the hour, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. It's followed by the CNN Special Report "Downward Spiral, Aaron Hernandez" at 11:00.
And up next on "360," Anthony Bourdain and I talk about his latest adventure in one of his favorite places in the universe. He explains the finer points of shooting food porn, his words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: I should say beautiful place.
COOPER: Had you been there before?
BOURDAIN: I have been there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:57:37] COOPER: This weekend in a new episode of "Parts Unknown", Anthony Bourdain is serving up what he described to me flat out as food porn. Those were his words. Just to be clear, Anthony himself is the first to admit he has the best job at CNN. He's paid to travel around the world, eating incredible food, drinking amazing wine, and soaking up local customs. This time he went back to one of his favorite places on the planet, a town in Northern Spain. And I talked to him about it recently.
COOPER: This upcoming episode is San Sebastian, which is the best country.
BOURDAIN: Yeah. Yes.
COOPER: What -- which were either.
BOURDAIN: I love San Sebastian deeply. It's a place that I have a lot of friends. It has more Michelin stared restaurants per capita than anywhere else in Europe. A vast, great feisty independent very, very old culture who track their language.
They haven't basically moved. Everyone is still trying to figure out where they came from. And as best anyone can figure out, they've done genetic testing and language testing. They go back to like caveman times. They've just always been there.
They are food obsessed. Their ingredients are arguably the best. And pound for pound, it might be the best destination in Europe to eat in.
COOPER: Really? BOURDAIN: Even bad restaurants are great. Meaning, even the cheesy tourist restaurant with the pictures and the menu in English is going to deliver you really, really good food. They were just very, very proud. It's a beautiful place.
COOPER: Had you been there before?
BOURDAIN: I have been there before numerous times, as so many of my shows are. This was a purely selfish enterprise, basically using CNN's money. I cynically went back to San Sebastian, one of my favorite places on Earth and shoved delicious, delicious food and fine wines in my face for a little over a week. So thanks.
COOPER: Well, sounds good. At least you brought us along on the journey.
BOURDAIN: We made some pretty high test food porn this time out, I'm telling you.
COOPER: Is that right?
BOURDAIN: The shot progression is so similar, you know. Start little wide, moving from the medium. You know the rest.
COOPER: Yeah. OK. I think that's our climax there.
BOURDAIN: So to speak.
COOPER: (Inaudible) and they call it a tease in television. Don't miss "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" Sunday on CNN 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. The CNN Special Report "Missing: Madeleine McCann" starts now.