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Scaramucci: Trump Still Not Sure If Russia Interfered; Mixed Messages On Whether Trump Will Sign Sanctions Bill; Suspected Named In Weltering Semi-Truck Incident; Who Is The Russian Pop Super Star Behind Trump Jr. Meeting; Teens May Face Charges After Recording Drowning Man; A Unique Approach To Help Combat The Opioid Crisis; Comedians Take Politics To A Whole New Level Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 23, 2017 - 17:00   ET



[17:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: At top of the hour, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. We are live in the CNN Newsroom. We begin with a remarkable revelation incoming from the White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.

Scaramucci revealing that after more than six months in office, with access perhaps to more intelligence than anyone in the world, President Trump still doesn't believe that Russia meddled in last year's election.

Scaramucci says, he's also not sure whether the president will find a new widely supported congressional bill that would hit Russia with even more sanctions and prevent the president from easing them without consent from Congress.

Those revelations among others came during a lengthy interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. Here's a portion.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Somebody said to me yesterday -- I won't tell you who, that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it.

You would have never had any evidence of them, meaning that they're super confident in their deception skills and hacking. My point is, all of the information isn't on the table yet, but here's what I know about the president.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Wait, wait, wait, Anthony...

SCARAMUCCI: Let me finish.

TAPPER: Anthony, Anthony.

SCARAMUCCI: Let me finish.

TAPPER: You're making a lot of assertions here, I don't know who this anonymous person is, it said that if the Russians had actually done it, we -- we wouldn't have been able to dissect it but it is...


SCARAMUCCI: How about it was the president, Jake?

TAPPER: OK, it's the consensus of the Intelligence Community.


SCARAMUCCI: He called from Air Force One.


SCARAMUCCI: And he basically said to me hey, you know, this is -- maybe they did it, maybe they didn't do it. And I'm going to -- I'm going to maintain for you...


SCARAMUCCI: Hold on a second.

TAPPER: This is exactly the issue here. We have experts, the U.S. Intelligence Agencies, unanimous both Obama appointees and Trump appointees, the director of National Intelligence, the head of the National Security Agency, the head of the FBI.

I mean, all of these intelligence experts saying Russia hacked the intelligence -- Russia hacked the election, they tried to interfere in the election, no votes were changed.

But there was this disinformation and this information campaign. President Trump is contradicting it, and you're siding with President Trump.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I didn't -- I didn't say I was siding with President Trump.

TAPPER: But this is -- this is exactly the point because here you have a bill, legislation that was passed 98-2 in the U.S. Senate.

The House is about to pass it, it will probably also be an overwhelming vote to sanction Russia. And President Trump told you that he still doesn't believe that Russia was trying to interfere in the election.

Even though the overwhelming body of the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Republicans and his own intelligence experts are telling him the opposite, you're saying, you're going to side with the president, don't you owe -- don't you owe a duty to the truth?

SCARAMUCCI: What about the conversation are you missing, Jake. There are checks and balances in the system for a reason, OK? The president will make that decision when he makes a decision. You're telling me that something is true that in fact -- could in fact be true.

I don't have the information in front of me. Once -- once I've cleared my security clearances and I've looked at the stuff, if I think it's true, behind closed doors, I'll turn to the president very directly and say, sir, I think this is true, but I don't have it in front of me right now.

TAPPER: My question right now is about the fact that a geo political foe of the United States, Russia interfered in the U.S. election, according to every intelligence expert, both under the Obama administration and under the Trump administration, the one person in the government who says it's not true is President Trump.

SCARAMUCCI: well, I got to -- again, one of the reasons why he is upset about it, is that this sort of -- that the mainstream media position on this, that they interfered in the election, it actually -- in his mind, what are you guys suggesting, you're going to delegitimize his victory.


SCARAMUCCI: Is that going to make his victory illegitimate?


SCARAMUCCI: Is that the point of it? Well, you know what, he legitimately won...


SCARAMUCCI: ... the presidency.

TAPPER: Absolutely.

SCARAMUCCI: Do we both agree on that?

TAPPER: He legitimately won as president, absolutely.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. So -- so at the end of the day, let him make the decision, and as I said to you, once I've got a security clearance and meet with those people myself, if I think it's true, I'm going to turn to the president very honestly with a great relation and say, sir, I think this is true.


CABRERA: That was within the last hour, the president tweeted this about Russia, writing quote, as the phony Russian witch hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians.

Joining me to discuss, CNN Legal and National Security Analyst, Asha Rangappa, she is the Associate Dean of Yale Law School and a former FBI special agent and also with us, CNN Political Analyst, Julian Zelizer. He's also a historian and professor of Princeton University.

Asha, as a former Intelligence official, I want to give you the first chance to respond to hearing that the president still does not believe Russia meddled in the U.S. election. [17:05:00] ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST:

Yes, Ana, I'm not really sure what to say about what I guess is willful ignorance of what is being presented to him, but back here on earth, the Intelligence Community has unanimously said that the Russians interfered in our election.

And what I would suggest to Scaramucci, is though he doesn't have his security clearance yet, there are some publicly available cases that do demonstrate -- just Russian intelligence efforts generally over the last decade.

So in 2010, we -- we charged 10 Russian spies who were here under not official cover in New York City. That complaint details a lot of the Russians methods and sources, and the way that they were operating.

They were swapped for four U.S. spies who were jailed in Russia. In 2015, a Russian banker, who is acting under Russian intelligence, the SVR, Evgeny Buryakov, who is here trying to get information and intelligence on sanctions, and recruiting U.S. people, he was prosecuted.

And most importantly, in February of this year, two Russian intelligence agents were charged in Federal Court in San Francisco for being behind the hack of 500 million accounts at Yahoo.

Importantly, those intelligence agents were part of the FSB, which is a law enforcement agency in Russia, which is supposedly trying to help us catch cyber criminals. So this is another reason that a cyber partnership isn't great idea.

So all of these detail election interference but they do show that the FBI, and NSA, and CIA do catch the Russians, so, you know, the Russians aren't going to get away with it.

They're not so deceptive that they can, you know, beat us, we are better than them. And I think that for the American public, these are all available on, it makes for some good reading.

CABRERA: Well not only that but let's not forget the Intelligence Agencies did put forward and make public their findings back in October what they could give...

RANGAPPA: Absolutely.

CABRERA: ... the word classified to the American public. But, Julian, Scaramucci says that once he has a chance to take a look at the data.

Once he gets his security clearance that he changes his mind about this or was he has a definitive answer himself, he'll make that known to the president, reasonably the American people as well. Is he painting himself into a corner here, if he needs to contradict the president once he gets that security clearance?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well look, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but in today's interview, he's already raising all kinds of questions which really aren't questions right now.

So he's opening up something that doesn't need to be opened up, meaning the intervention, meaning the efforts of the Russians in the election.

And sure, he'll paint himself into a corner, but my suspicion is, he will be loyal to the president and he will continue to follow the argument. Given the statements he made today and the evidence we already have. There's not much reason to continue with this argument.

CABRERA: Asha, in that clip we just played, Scaramucci says the president told him just yesterday, quote, if the Russians actually hacked the situation, and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it.

You would have never had any evidence of them. Asha, is that what President Trump believes? I mean does he essentially think the Russians are more skilled than his own intelligence officials?

RANGAPPA: That seems to be what he's implying, Ana, and I can assure you, I worked at Counterintelligence investigations. Listen, the Russians are a worthy adversary, but we are better.

And the very fact that we have all of this information and intelligence that has been clearly presented to him demonstrates that they had -- we have detected it. So I'm not really sure what else to say about this. It's -- it's troubling to me.

For me this is almost as if, you know, a president after 9/11 said, well, I just -- is still don't believe that al-Qaeda was behind the 9/11 attacks.

I mean, what would we have said at that point, when all of out intelligence agencies said that they were. It's kind of that impasse and ultimately, he's the one that needs to take action, though I do think the sanctions bill is an important step and I hope that it will be able to go into effect.

CABRERA: I'm glad you mentioned that, sanctions. Though, Asha, I want you guys to hear what Scaramucci said about whether President Trump will sign the Russian sanctions bill and then, what Sarah Huckabee Sanders also said this morning in a separate interview. Watch.


TAPPER: Congressional leaders have reached an agreement on sanctions to punish Russia for its election meddling and aggression towards its neighbors. Is President Trump going to sign the Russian sanctions bill?

SCARAMUCCI: We got to ask President Trump that. You know, it's my second or third day on the job, my guess is, is that he's going to make that decision shortly.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting these sanctions in place. And we support where the legislation is now, and we'll continue working with the House and Senate to put those tough sanctions in place on Russia.


[17:10:00] CABRERA: Julian, do you see this as a mixed message and who are we to believe?

ZELIZER: Well, it's not a mixed message and thus far, the administration has not been tough on the Russians. It's been pretty soft in its attitude.

Pretty soft in its rhetoric and of all the people who President Trump met with at the G-20, it was Putin who got the most attention.

CABRERA: But Scaramucci, said the president hasn't decided whether he's going do sign the sanctions bill. But in the mean time, we hear from Sarah Huckabee Sanders say, yes, he's -- he is supportive of this.

ZELIZER: The great thing about legislation is you have to put your name on a yes or no. So he's either going to support it or he won't.

And all of the tweets and all the rhetoric won't matter. If he doesn't, there will be a lot of questions from a Republican Congress that had bipartisan support for the bill.

If he does it, he can actually at least take a step forward showing he is serious about the threat. Not just from the election, but other kinds of expansionist activities that Russia has undertaken.

CABRERA: Asha, what's your take on this sanctions bill? Is it Congress saying they don't trust President Trump to do the right thing when it comes to Russia?

RANGAPPA: Well, I think that they are making a statement on what our policies should be, and I think that we should speak with one voice.

I think it would send a terrible message if Trump didn't sign on to this bill, because the Russians are watching, and they're going to take these as signals for how aggressive they can be here. Already I think that there have been signals to them, that they have a green light.

I mean, it's important to understand, Ana, that this isn't something that just ended in the past. Russian Intelligence Operations are ongoing.

And at some level, the stance that we take very publicly is going to influence how aggressive they are in their intelligence operations.

CABRERA: We talked with Mike Rodgers, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee here who had our special last night on CNN.

And he said he believes there are more Russian agents spies working here in the U.S. right now than there were even during the Cold War.

So to your point, there are these on going operations. Now, Scaramucci also admitted this morning that the White House does have a communications problem. Let's listen to what he says specifically about leakers.


SCARAMUCCI: Tomorrow, I'm going to have a meeting with the communications staff and say, hey, I don't like these leaks. And so, we're going to stop the leaks, and if we don't stop the leaks, I'm going to stop you.


CABRERA: Julian, we heard Sean Spicer went as far as to check people's cell phones...


CABRERA: ... to try to squash these leaks. What could Scaramucci actually do?

ZELIZER: Well, this is not unique to the president -- to President Trump's administration concern with leakers. We've heard -- we heard this in the Obama administration, but there's limits to what you can do, especially in the current age.

Where media is so easy in some ways, and social media offers all kinds of outlets, they'll try to clamp down, try to intimidate and threaten. That's one thing an administration can do. They could take away cell phones, I don't think it will help.

But ultimately, they have to ask themselves are the leakers the problem or are the cause of a lot of the leaks, the frustrations in the White House, some of the things that the president does to his own party and to his own White House, maybe if they solve those or dealt with those, some of the leaks would stop.

CABRERA: Or how about just having more transparency. Asha, we know Jared Kushner will be interviewed by Senate Intelligence staffers tomorrow -- staffers again.

And this is not under oath, and John -- Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, they're supposed to be interviewed by Senate Judiciary Committee members possibly as soon as this week. But all of these meetings are closed door is that good or bad?

RANGAPPA: Well, in the long run it's good, Ana. So this isn't -- it's not going to satisfy I think the public's need and desire to hear what they have to say.

But what happens when something is behind closed doors is, Congress doesn't do this, you know, kabuki performance where they're really kind of grandstanding for the cameras. I think they can ask some more substantive questions, get those answers and remember that even though these are not under oath, they can still be prosecuted for making false statements. They're be still be interviewed by federal officials. So they can't lie.

And they're going to give more extensive answers and presumably Mueller at some point will be able to get these. So they are still being locked down into their story.

And also these interviews don't preclude these committees from calling or using their subpoena power to call them into a public hearing. So I think overall, it's a -- it's a good thing to get more detailed and extensive answers to what's going on.

CABRERA: All right, Asha Rangappa and Julian Zelizer, thank you both.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

RANGAPPA: Thank you.

CABRERA: And while the White House says it's still unclear to the president whether Russia is responsible for meddling in last year's election.

There is zero doubt among the U.S. Intelligence Community. And here in fact is Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence appointed by President Trump, speaking these past Friday night.


LESTER HOLT, MSNBC ANCHOR: All right, can you just tell us, is there any dissent within the Intelligence Community that you oversee on the -- on the question of whether the Russians interfered with the American election.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There is no dissent and I stated that publicly.

HOLT: Everyone is on board.

COATS: And stated it to the president.


[17:15:00] CABRERA: No, dissent, and here's the president's CIA director, Mike Pompeo.


MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR, CIA: I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election is this the entire Intelligence Community.


CABRERA: So we just want to make sure you have all the facts. Right now, the Trump White House is facing its very first real test in the long run and combats between Israel and the Palestinians.

Today, Israel installed security cameras near one of the holiest sites of Jerusalem, a move that could spark more Palestinian protests. Since Friday, four have died in demonstrations and three Israelis were killed in a stabbing attack blamed on a Palestinian.

Now that White House is getting involved in efforts to try to bring down the tensions. A senior administration official tells CNN, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law is leading the effort.

Let's get right to International Correspondent, Ian Lee in Jerusalem. Ian, I want to talk about those security cameras, Israeli installed earlier today. Explain this significance and why so many Palestinians are upset about this.

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, it really just boils down to control previously, before this crisis, there was an agreement called the status quo, which included the Palestinians, the Jordanians and the Israelis, where the Jordanian walk, which is a religious endowment would administer the holy complex known to Jews.

It's the Temple Mount to Muslims as a noble sanctuary while Israel would provide security. Now, after the incident a little over a week ago where two Israelis police officers were killed, these gunmen came from that complex and killed them.

So Israel installed these metal detectors, these cameras, they say to provide security for that complex. But this sick move was seen as a unilateral move as Israel -- Israel is trying to expand its authority.

That's seen by the Palestinians, that's seen by the Jordanians and that's really what has sparked this crisis. It really is one that is going to need a political solution. But since then, we've seen clashes almost every night here.

CABRERA: Disturbing, Ian, what can you tell us about the discussions between Jared Kushner and leaders in that region, and what would it take to stop the violence?

LEE: You know this really has caused quite a diplomatic problem as well, because you do have the Arab league which has said Israel is playing with fire, you've had condemnation from many other countries as well.

But also, urging the Palestinians, the Jordanians and the Israelis to come together, and find some sort of solution. And that's where we're seeing the United States right now.

Speaking with all three sides, trying to come to some sort of resolution, and just to give you an idea of how bad things have gotten here, shortly after that attack where those two Israeli police officers died. There was a phone call between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Well, since this situation has deteriorated, there have now the Palestinian president has said he's going to freeze -- he has frozen all contacts with the Israelis until this has been resolved. So that's really where we're at right now, and as a byproduct, you are seeing these clashes.

CABRERA: How does it get resolved if people aren't talking to each other? Ian Lee, thank you for that report from Jerusalem for us.

Straight ahead, more breaking news tonight, the death toll in a tragic accident in Texas now stands at nine, we have details on the horrifying discovery inside a tractor-trailer in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio. Stay with us, you're live in the CNN Newsroom.


CABRERA: Breaking news on a horrifying human smuggling incident, police have found eight dead bodies locked in a blistering hot semi truck, alongside dozens of sick people struggling to stay alive in brutal San Antonio heat.

And in the last hour, another victim has died. Authorities are ready to name a suspect. Earlier today, authorities found the truck in a Walmart parking lot, about 2 1/2 hours from the Mexico border.

No air conditioning, no water, and San Antonio's fire chief says many injured survivors will have irreversible brain damage. I want to get to Ed Lavandera in San Antonio for us. Ed, tell us about the suspect.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, federal authorities that are investigating this case now, say that the driver of truck is 60-year-old James Bradley from Clearwater, Florida.

His exact involvement and exactly what role he played in the operation here is still not clear, all of that still very much under investigation.

But we do know that that's what investigators will be focusing on quite heavily now, it's figuring out exactly how this human smuggling operation was working, where were they along the point, where exactly were these people going to be taken, where had they been picked up.

Those are the sorts of questions that investigators will be taking how much closer look at it. And it's not clear whether or not Bradley is cooperating with investigators.

But he was found here just after midnight in the parking lot of this Walmart, where the store manager was approached by one of the 39 people that was inside of that truck, asking for water. And when they approached the truck, that's where they discover -- made the horrific finding.

There are eight people dead inside. A ninth person has since passed away. So that death toll now stands at nine, nearly 20 more are in critical condition.

So this death toll could go up, Ana, and it's a very scary situation. They kind of give you a sense of where we are, this particular Walmart location is just along Interstate-35 in the southwest part of San Antonio.

The fire chief who we spoke last night, described what the conditions were like inside that truck when they discovered the people inside.


CHARLES HOOD, CHIEF, SAN ANTONIO FIRE DEPARTMENT: Units arrived, found the trailer stuffed with victims in the back.

[17:25:00] And again, very hot, kind of like being in an oven, if you can imagine. A lot of them have suffered the symptoms of heat stroke. And so, at heatstroke, a lot of times, you have neurological deficits that you're never going to be able to recover from.

So again, for those people that have survived, they took a beating, and with our temperatures yesterday -- we had temperatures of over 100 degrees.

So you can imagine the temperature in the back of that semi loaded up with the people is probably a 150 degrees, and so, the once that we took out, all their pulse rates were at 130, they were hot to the touch.


LAVANDERA: Ana, the fire chief also said that that -- the trailer of that truck did have a refrigeration unit inside, but then it was not working.

So clearly, the temperatures inside of that truck in a horrible situation, and as I mentioned, this Walmart is just along Interstate- 35, about 150 miles from the border, the nearest border checkpoint which is Laredo, Texas.

So this part of South Texas really responsible for some of the largest numbers of illegal immigration traffic that comes through here, and human smuggling. And these -- the way these people were being transported a very common occurrence here in this part of South Texas. Ana.

CABRERA: Oh, wow. That's tough to hear, Ed Lavandera, thank you so much. Again, 20 people still in critical condition, we'll keep on top of this story.

Coming up, he is the Russian pop star who helped arrange that meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, all in a CNN exclusive.

There he is Matthew Chance catching up with this pop star at a concert and asked him why he set up that meeting. What he said next. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.


CABRERA: For the first time since the story emerged, CNN is hearing from the Russian pop star who helped set up that meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who claimed she had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance caught up with Emin Agalarov, the head of his concert in Latvia, and this is what happened.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the man on the right is Emin Agalarov. He's the Russian pop star at the center of the latest allegations about collusion between the Trump administration and the Russian government.

He's very difficult to catch up with, he won't give an official statement on this, but I think managed to speak to him earlier before this concert in Latvia.


Why did you arrange that meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer?

EMIN AGALAROV, RUSSIAN POP STAR: Come join me for the show tonight.

CHANCE: Yes, we will. Definitely. Any comments?

AGALAROV: Excellent. Excellent.

CHANCE: It's an important question. The American public want to know.


CHANCE: Why did the Trump administration...

AGALAROV: Can I have a drink?


CHANCE: Yes, you can.

AGALAROV: Without your presence. Thank you very much.

CHANCE: I need to ask you, did the Russian authorities give your family information to pass on to the Trump administration?

AGALAROV: Talk to my lawyer.

CHANCE: I already talked to him, he said you wouldn't comment.

AGALAROV: So I wouldn't comment.

CHANCE: These are questions that you're not going to be able to not comment on at some point.


CHANCE: You're going to have to answer.

AGALAROV: I'm here to perform, to enjoy the show, and I'm not going to answer any questions.

CHANCE: Why did your publicist...

AGALAROV: Guys, I'm not going to answer the question.

CHANCE: I mean, you're asking about it. You're not going to comment.

AGALAROV: You're not going to get a comment. Am I clear? You're not going to get a comment.


CHANCE: Well, that was Emin Agalarov making it very clear indeed that he did not want to speak to us about that issue. But the fact is, the allegations of collusions surrounding the Trump administration and the Trump campaign.

And his role in that alleged collusion is probably not going to go away. Matthew Chance, CNN in Jurmala, Latvia.

CABRERA: Matthew, thank you, you sure didn't let him off the hook, you tried, no doubt about it.

Straight ahead, a group of teenagers in Florida witness a tragedy and do nothing. But as deplorable as it was is what they did or didn't do illegal? My legal panel weighs in next. You are live in the CNN Newsroom.


CABRERA: It is a case described as horrifying, reprehensible, and morally outrageous, but was it illegal? That's the debate now after five Florida teenagers failed to rescue a drowning man. They instead mocked and laughed at him and recorded his death in a video posted online.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out the water, you going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That gator coming for you, lion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to help your (BLEEP).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's drowning. What the heck.


CABRERA: He's the hard truth, the state of Florida currently does not have a law where a citizen is obligated to render aid for anyone in distress or even call for help. But the police are recommending criminal charges using a legal strategy that has never tossed in the state before. I'm going to bring in our CNN legal analysts, Danny Cevallos and Joey

Jackson, both criminal defense attorneys. Danny, the police are hoping to charge these teens with essentially a law that says a person who is aware of a death is legally required to report it to a medical examiner. Do you think that this is going to work?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it's going to work. I don't know if it's appropriate to be scouring the law books, because you don't like a particular set of prospect of defendants to find some law somewhere that may apply to them.

Look, the Anglo-American History of the law in this area is that there is no duty to render aid, unless you have some special relationship, or some other reason, like you're a lifeguard, or a police officer or something like that.

Now, other countries have laws that require people to render aid in situations like that, but ours is not one of them, there are a couple states that do have that requirement, but the reality is, they're practically unenforceable.

I mean, you -- when you really think about it, requiring anybody to even call 911 when they think someone is in distress would be an unworkable duty. And the states that have it, I can't imagine that it's even used that often.

CABRERA: But, Joey, it wasn't just that they didn't do anything, it was what they did do and not doing anything, and not -- not helping this man, I mean, it was beyond just turning the other way.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So well stated, talk about the lack of humanity. So first, I have to react to this as a father, as a citizen.

You know, let me put my lawyer thing aside. I mean, this is reprehensible conduct, just think about it. What are we teaching our young people, what are we teaching, you know, as parents, as teachers, are we failing?

I mean how could someone see this and not do anything? So yes, there's a legal side of it. I'll get to momentarily, but just from a moralistic point of view, and then, Ana, beyond just, you know, not assisting, to taunt and to take pride, and joy in the fact that someone may be dead, it's just outrageous.

CABRERA: Yes, sickening.

JACKSON: In terms of the law -- it's sickening. Now, in terms of the law, to Danny's point, yes, OK, there is no duty generally to respond to anything, there's no good Samaritan law with regard to I see something, and I have to actually act upon it affirmatively, or otherwise, I'm held criminally responsible.

[17:40:00] I'll tell you this though, as a result of what occurred here and there are couple of states that have it, Minnesota being one. I think that you're going to see legislative activity. Now, we cannot

legislate morality, that's clear. People are going to do what they do. Everybody has their own set of values, their own set of circumstances, but should we not as a society at least require the bear minimum. Should we not -- I mean...

CEVALLOS: Require what, though? What will you inform?

JACKSON: When someone is drowning and someone is going to die, should we not require as does Minnesota that you take some step to call someone.

You have a cell phone, -- you have a cell phone and you have the ability to record but you don't have the ability to go 911? As a minimum you can do that.

And in terms that in responsibility, here is where I see this. I'm not saying that the police should go out and say, you didn't report a crime last week, you're guilty.

What I am saying is, when they conduct an investigation like this, and a decomposing body shows up on a scene, and they retrace them and find a video like this, there needs to be accountability and for there not to be accountability is just wrong, we're failing as a society.

CEVALLOS: That works perfectly in Joey's example that uses this particular video, which is particularly agreed. Just -- but think about it in day to day life.

When I walk by a city pool, and I see a kid splashing around, do I have to sit there evaluate my potential liability? Gee, am I suppose to jump and then save this person.

JACKSON: I have to say, No.

CEVALLOS: Gee -- Oh, OK, then on to the next example, I mean how do you enforce these laws.

CABRERA: But this is I know, a little bit different. But we have like helmet laws in some states, and it's like, you know, people -- it's against the law in Colorado for example -- or not in Colorado, but in place like Washington, say where I had come before I moved to Colorado, you have to wire a helmet.

CEVALLOS: So let's say you have to wear a helmet that's a law, and I see Joey Jackson riding around on his scooter without a helmet in New York. Do I -- am I now obligated to call 911 or someone is going to try and prove whether I could see Joey Jackson on Park Avenue without his helmet. How do you do that?

JACKSON: Here's how you do it, right? As prosecutors -- as a former prosecutor, you have a great deal of discretion, right? So there are those instances, of course, we're not our brother's keeper unfortunately as a society.

We don't have an affirmative duty to assist anyone. We can keep going, but when there's something this egregious, I would suggest right, that a prosecutor use their discretion. Deterrence is a very important part of the law, Ana.

The reason a lot of cases are prosecuted is not only for the punishment value, but to deter it happening in other instances, if you saw these teens prosecuted in this instant, it would send a resounding message that this conduct is not only immoral but it's illegal, and inappropriate, and something would be done.

And what that does is save a life. And if we could save a life, then we as a society are doing the right thing. So I do think there will be a legislative response to this issue.

CEVALLOS: And there shouldn't be.


CEVALLOS: Watch me go.

JACKSON: No, you can't.


CEVALLOS: If the teams had had the same video but instead said, oh, no, someone's drowning this is terrible. Would law enforcement be scouring the law books to find something to charge them with?


CEVALLOS: No, and that's not the way law suppose to be. You don't decide that you dislike a particular group of people and then go through all the dusty law books and find something to charge them with.

That's why that we're even looking to charge -- these are my 15 seconds, sir. That's why anyone's even looking through the law books to charge these teens, because they found who they were and their behavior reprehensible. But it's still legal. I don't like them, nobody else on this panel likes what they did, but it wasn't a crime.

CABRERA: Well, I appreciate the great debate. Joey Jackson and Danny Cevallos come back soon.

JACKSON: Glad to defend this.

CABRERA: Thank you, guys.

CEVALLOS: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, a unique approach to help combat the opioid crisis.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN REPORTER: when you're saying, bring your drugs in, and we won't charge you. THOMAS BASHORE, POLICE CHIEF, NORTH CAROLINA: I mean, it's huge from a community policing aspect. Our word should be our bond.



CABRERA: The United States is in the grips of a horrifying drug overdose epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

For many addicts, just finding a safe place to ask for help can be one of the obstacles to overcoming addiction. Now, a North Carolina police chief realized that and started the hope initiative.

A program that let addicts walk right into the police station for help without fear of jail time. As CNN's Kaylee Hartung shows that this program is saving lives. Not just locally but across the country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had no desire to live at that time of my life.

HARTUNG: Nine months ago, Thomas Spikes' life was out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've lost cars, my license, the place I've lived at, relationships.

HARTUNG: For nearly half his life, this 24-year-old has been addicted to drugs. How many times had you attempted to quit before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Countless. Countless.

HARTUNG: what made this time different?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot with the chiefs program.

HARTUNG: Known as the hope initiative, a collaboration between national North Carolina's chief of police Thomas Bashore, and town manager Hank Raper. The program battles the opioid epidemic one addict at a time.

BASHORE: If they walk into the front door, if they have drugs or paraphernalia on them anytime, they can turn that over to us and no charge were file and we facilitate them getting into recovery.

HARTUNG: Hope launched in February 2016, nearly 200 men and women have walked through these and asked for help. How important was it to build trust in this community? When you're saying bring your drugs in and we won't charge you?

BASHORE: I mean, it's huge from a community policing aspect, our word should be our bond.

HARTUNG: The chief says its success and it has also led to a reduction in crime. BASHORE: Things like shoplifting and larceny, breaking into cars. We

have seen a 40 percent drop last year.

HARTUNG: Opioid related deaths are up more than 800 percent in the state of North Carolina since 1999. And in many towns like Nashville, North Carolina they're seeing a sharp rise in heroin overdoses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people that use heroin started with pills. Heroin is a whole lot cheaper, it gets you a lot higher for the average price around 10 dollars for a bag.

[17:50:00] HARTUNG: Spikes was caught with heroin. A felony in North Carolina. His arrest led to his first encounter with Chief Bashore. Were you skeptical?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. You don't talk to cops. You don't associate with them. They're not your friends, I can honestly say, chief has never tried to pry into anything of my life from that era.

HARTUNG: People have traveled from across the state, even California and Pennsylvania to get the chief's help.

BASHORE: When you're ready to go, you can't say come back Monday morning at 8:00. You have to do it right then. So that's what we do.

HARTUNG: Twenty-four-seven, you're available?

BASHORE: That's why everybody has my cell phone number.

HARTUNG: Four months out of rehab, Spikes is building homes and rebuilding his life. How do you describe the pride you feel when you see Thomas?

BASHORE: I'm very thankful for one he's alive. Of those 172 people that we had come through the program, I've actually been to two funerals, knowing what the alternative is or what could have been putting on this.

He just recently disclosed to me that, you know, his girlfriend is pregnant. So he's going to be a father. So that's amazing thing.

HARTUNG: In national North, Carolina, Kaylee Hartung, CNN.


CABRERA: Coming up, ripped from the headlines. Comedians take politics to a whole new level. Up next, how comedy is impacting public opinion in the Trump era. You are live on the CNN Newsroom.


CABRERA: Truth can be stranger than fiction and headlines can be a goldmine for comedians. Tonight's episode of CNN, the history of comedy, it explores how the comedian transforms from someone who just tells jokes about the news to a person who is reporting it. Here's a preview. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to talk to you about drugs. Our main story tonight is income inequality. A good way to figure out which side of it you're on is when you're currently paying for HBO or stealing it.

MERRILL MARKOE, AMERICAN AUTHOR: More than ever, comedy is a way to hold people's attention while you told them boring truths.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not saying the IRS is a likable organization but not everything that's important is likable. Think about government as a body, the IRS is the anus. It's nobody's favorite part, but you need that thing working properly or everything goes to (BLEEP) real quick.

KEEGAN MICHAEL KEY, AMERICAN ACTOR: The comic has become the person who pulls back the curtain to show the world that -- do you see that this is happening? We didn't make this up, this wasn't a funny idea we had. This is what's happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The constitution isn't the star in Super Mario Brothers. It doesn't make you invincible so you can just do whatever the (BLEEP) you want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You teach us about things we should know about. It's embarrassing in a way to have someone come over here and explain how things like health care works.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's less than idea.

SARAH SILVERMAN, AMERICAN STAND-UP COMEDIAN: Comedy brings awareness. It's a practice of notice thing and there is an effect channel on the road because he's actually creating change.


CABRERA: Let's discuss, joining me now is Kliph Nesteroff, a former stand-up comic turned writer who appears in the CNN series. He's also the author of The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy.

Kliph, it's so great to have you with us. Let's talk about our current state of affairs. Do you think the Trump administration is good for comedy?

KLIPH NESTEROFF, AUTHOR: No, I don't think it's good for anybody or anything. However, at any point where there's a common knowledge of something politically making a reference to it can get a laugh.

So we're all kind of on the same page watching what's unfolding in America and we can see the absurdity ourselves. But we can't always articulate the absurdity, you know.

It's a little bit alienating or mystifying in our -- in our sort of confusion as we watch what's going on in the news. So they have a comedian articulate for us and point out the absurdity is a very effective thing you know.

CABRERA: Do comedians have political agenda?

NESTEROFF: They can. I mean, the more artistic comedians tend to be left wing, tend to be progressive because they tend to be more sensitive to what's going on. So their heart tends to believe more and they tend for that reason be able to observe and be salient in a certain way that others might not.

I don't know if anybody goes on stage with a specific political agenda other than to reflect their own point of view. So whatever their politics are, if not a stand-up comic on stage, you're going to reflect that through your comedy. So it's not so much an agenda as a reflection of your own thought and attitude.

CABRERA: Now, Saturday Night Live has had some of its best ratings in years covering this administration political all through reported in February that Melissa McCarthy's impression of former press secretary Sean Spicer rattled the president.

It was reported that President Trump actually thought it made Spicer look weak and now of course Spicer is gone. What role do you think comedy plays in forming people's political opinions?

NESTEROFF: Well, I don't think it really changes too many people's political opinions unless they are young. You know, the impressionable age of 12, 13, 14, 15, at that age, comedy can have a strong effect in forming somebody's opinion, the same way music can.

I don't know if it necessarily will change the opinion of somebody who's 40 or 50. However, it does help illuminate the absurdity, things that are actually happening.

Saturday Night Live is great for that reason. We look for to it on a Saturday for a timely sketch. But at the same time, comedy like that does not necessarily last that long.

So for instance, we all love Jon Stewart as the host of the Dailyshow. But very few of us are going back in watching reruns of the Jon Stewart Dailyshow because the subject matter has expired. So as great as comedy about politics is, it doesn't necessarily last very long beyond the, you know, current news cycle.

CABRERA: So interesting. I know you said comedy expires like a carton of milk, Kliph Nesteroff.

NESTEROFF: Yes, Unfortunately.

CABRERA: Thank you so much for your time. Don't miss the History of Comedy tonight at 10:00 only here on CNN. It's 6:00 in the evening here in New York, 3:00 in the afternoon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera, you're live in the CNN Newsroom.

So glad you could join us. We begin with a surprising revelation from the incoming White House communications director, in an interview with CNN.