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CNN NEWSROOM

Longtime Trump Friend: "He's Better Than This"; Eminem Unleashes On Trump During BET Awards Performance; Obamas And Clinton Condemn Weinstein Days After Revelations. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired October 11, 2017 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour, 9:00 am Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. The breaking news this morning, the wildfires in California, which have scorched more than 122,000 acres and there is an ominous forecast for what is to come. At least 17 people are dead. Nearly 200 more missing. Look at this.

This was Napa County. This is one of the worst hit areas. More than 100 people are being treated in Napa and Sonoma area hospitals.

HARLOW: There are also 20,000 people there this morning that have been ordered to evacuate. Two-thousand homes and businesses destroyed. The images you're seeing, just a few of them. A captain with the California Highway Patrol says he thinks this could be one of the worst disasters in California's history.

Let's go straight to our Ryan Young. He joins us is Santa Rosa, California. Those are remarkable numbers and the weather not helping out at all today.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is just unreal. When you look at that video, it is just -- just terrifying. In fact, when we got here and been (ph) able to see everything that's around us. We're actually just can't believe that certain neighborhoods are just gone.

And I want to show you this. As we walk around, we've been in this neighborhood for quite some time. And we were hoping that daylight would kind of be able to show you some of this. Of course, it's 6:00 am here, so the sun hasn't come up. But when you look at this house, you almost can't make it out.

John and Poppy, the only thing that we can kind of see is that there's a washer and dryer in the distance back there. And this repeats itself over and over again. There are more than 20 homes in this area. Of course, you talk about the 20,000 people that evacuated, there's 17 people who have died in this disaster.

And then you think about this. 183 people are still missing. Now, they say they don't believe all those people have died, because there have been communication issues here. Their cell phone service is just spotty at this point, because some of the towers have been affected.

And despite all that, now you're having issues with people who have been coming into the area to loot. And they've been coming through here, picking through people's belongings and then just trying to take it. And officers have been dealing with that as well.

So when you combine that all together and realize that they're still dealing with this and there's zero percent containment with this fire, you can tell the next two hours are going to be quite interesting, especially for those firefighters who've been working back to back hours to try to control this.

Neighborhood after neighborhood is just like this one here. And one story that kind of stuck to us was this couple who've been married 75 years, who lost their life in this fire. The man was 100 years old, his wife was 98 years old. They weren't able to make it out of this fire.

We went around yesterday and kind of just looked at some of the damage that was here. It's block after block, it looks like a war zone in certain parts of this area, and of course you know there are burning embers all over this area. Right now, the winds have died down, which is good news.

But you never know when that wind's going to pick back up. They believe today could be windy again. It's going to be interesting to see how they deal with this. In this neighborhood alone, where all the homes are flattened, the only thing that we've seen alive was someone's kitten.

And the kitten was sitting just in the distance. We're going to try to give it water a little bit later on, but you have to understand how many animals were probably left behind in this fire. It's going to be interesting when the sun comes up to see this devastating play itself out over and over again as people are starting to assess the damage.

BERMAN: That's right. We're learning so many tragic stories and it could be much worse. Ryan Young for us. Thanks so much. And the weather playing a huge factor. The fire zero percent contained and we have an ominous forecast. Chad Myers in the Weather Center with that. Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: John, we have two on this forecast. One for today and one for Friday, where Friday could be as bad as a couple of days ago. Today, we're talking about wind gusts of around 40 miles per hour. And that is dreadful. Any time you get a wind gust over double digits I-12 or 13, (ph) that's when embers can fly.

Thirty-five active fires officially. At least 1,000, if not thousands of hot spots that will be fanned by the flames today. We have an elevated and critical risk of forest fires, wild land fires today, and what happened in Santa Rosa proper was that wild land urban interface, where people would like to have their homes right next to the trees and you know, Cal Fire says please give us some defensible space.

That's what people are trying to do right now. Defensible space, because all these hotspots, with these winds blowing in different directions now. So you have a hot spot that's here, it was burning to the southeast. Now it's going to burn to southwest. And so other homes are going to be involved here, or at least in the way.

Twenty-nine miles per hour, later tonight in Sacramento. And that's East Bay. Not so much for North Bay, where the fires are actively still burning, but a wild land fire with a 15 mile per hour wind gust just keeps going.

[09:05:15]

You (ph) cannot get in front of that. The relative (ph) communities are good today. You can even see Ryan with his coat on.

It is cold there. I saw one report in Santa Rosa of 42 degrees this morning. That's good. That gets some moisture back in the plants. But by later on today, your relative (ph) community's down to like 20 percent and that's not what we're looking for. Neither is this.

The cold front that comes through today and another one that comes through on Friday with windy conditions behind the front. John, Poppy.

HARLOW: Chad Myers, thank you very much. Keep an eye on it for us, please. Meantime, explosive new allegations against Harvey Weinstein. More than two dozen women are now speaking out against the Hollywood mogul, alleging years of sexual harassment, assault, three women now accusing him of rape.

BERMAN: This, said (ph) the Weinstein Company board, including Harvey Weinstein's brother claim they knew nothing about the alleged abuse. But the New Yorker reports this morning that some employees now say they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us now with more of the story. And we keep on getting more and more information here.

BRYNN GINGRAS, NATIONAL CORRESPONENT, CNN: It's like every hour, right? Well, right now, no criminal charges against Weinstein. But multiple sources with the NYPD tell me that there are no open investigations into Harvey Weinstein right now. And no new allegations have been made against him to police.

At least here, though. That's in New York. We don't know other departments. Over two dozen people have come forward, though. Women with strikingly similar and disturbing accounts of their interactions with Weinstein over the course of decades.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: The board of the Weinstein Company insisting Tuesday that they had no knowledge of the explosive allegations against co-founder Harvey Weinstein, calling the claims quote an utter surprise. This, despite widespread rumors that Weinstein's alleged abuse was the worst kept secret in Hollywood.

Comedian Seth MacFarlane even knocked Weinstein's bad reputation while hosting the Oscars in 2013.

SETH MACFARLANE, COMEDIAN: Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.

GINGRAS: At lest 25 women, including some of Hollywood's most prominent actresses have now come forward, accusing Weinstein of acts ranging from harassment to rape. Gwyneth Paltrow telling the New York Times that when she was 22, a meeting with Weinstein quote ended with him placing his hands on her and suggesting they head to the bedroom for massages. I was petrified, Paltrow said.

Ashley Judd alleges that two decades ago, Weinstein had her sent up to his hotel room and then greeted her in a bathrobe, asking if he could give her a massage or if she could watch him shower. Angelina Jolie also telling the Times that Weinstein made unwanted advances on her in a hotel room in the late 1990s.

KATHERINE KENDALL, ACTOR: He went to the bathroom, came back out of the bathroom in a robe and asked me to give him a massage. I said no, I didn't feel comfortable. He said everybody does it.

GINGRAS: Two other women recounting similar stories on CNN last night.

KENDALL: -- and said well, at least if you won't, you know, give me a massage, then can I see your breasts.

LOUISETTE GEISS, ACTRESS: He told me he would give me a three picture deal and he could get my movie made. And you know, I don't doubt that he could, but he said you know, you have to watch me -- but you've got to stay and watch me masturbate.

GINGRAS: The New Yorker publishing disturbing audio from a 2015 police sting involving Weinstein and model Amra Battilana Gutierrez. Weinstein attempts to lure her into his hotel room before admitting to groping her the day before.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN, FILM PRODUCER, THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY: -- on everything, I'm a famous guy.

AMRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ, MODEL: I'm feeling very uncomfortable right now.

WEINSTEIN: Please come in now and one minutes. And if you want to leave when the guy comes with my jacket--

GUTIERREZ: Why yesterday you touch my breast?

WEINSTEIN: Oh, please. I'm sorry. Just come on in. I'm used to that. Come on. Please.

GUTIERREZ: You're used to that?

WEINSTEIN: Yes, come in.

GINGRAS: The Manhattan District Attorney's Office says that quote while the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged form the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law.

Weinstein's reps declined to comment on the tape but said in a statement Tuesday any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Weinstein is a long time supporter of Hillary Clinton and a major donor to the Democratic party, raising more than $1 million for Democrats since the '90s.

After days of silence, Clinton condemned Weinstein on Tuesday, saying quote the behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. The Obamas also denouncing Weinstein, saying any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: And even more people are beginning to distance themselves from Weinstein, including his wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman. The couple have two children together. And the film company that he co-founded, well that may change it's name as early as this week, guys.

HARLOW: It's a lot. Speechless.

GINGRAS: Yes.

[09:10:00] HARLOW: Thank you, Brynn. We appreciate it. Joining us now, Brian Stelter, Senior Media Correspondent and B.J. Bernstein, a former prosecutor. Thank you both. Brian, let me begin with you. You have some important new reporting. What can you tell us?

BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, CNN: A law firm now being brought in by The Weinstein Company to conduct an internal investigation into what happened here. Because Poppy, John, there's indeed (ph) a lot of questions about who knew what when.

And we don't have all the answers. The board members are denying that they knew about this wrongdoing. But it is clear that some staffers looked the other way. This is a company with about 200 people. Some knew nothing. Didn't really ever interact with Harvey Weinstein.

Others, however, did know him well, knew he was a volatile, profane executive and they're still stunned by these allegations. As one person said to me, we knew he was a creep but not a criminal. So this company now facing doubts about it's future. As Brynn said, a name change is in the works.

We're seeing Harvey Weinstein's name taken off the credits of his shows, like Project Runway. But look, wiping away a name is not going to wipe away the stain on this company's reputation.

BERMAN: The question is should they have known that he was more than just creep and did what they -- is what they did criminal. And B.J., to that end, we'll talk about his legal liability in a second, but since we started with the board, what kind of trouble are they in legally right now? And then, I suppose civilly as well? B.J. BERNSTEIN, LAWYER: I think it would really be more civil

exposure than criminal exposure. You know, criminal really is the acts of Weinstein, potentially, depending on how they were done and what state and the laws that apply.

Civilly, however, if the company knew and there had been complaints, or there were reason for them to know and that they continued to ignore it and it was just a joke around the place and that would be found out through the civil discovery and depositions of all of those people who would be under oath, then the company does need to worry.

And certainly an internal investigation's important, not only if they're changing their name, but they have to change the culture. Because if for anybody, any director, any actor or actress to work with them, they need to make changes.

HARLOW: OK, but B.J., let me ask you this. You have three women claiming rape, four claims of sexual assault, more than a dozen women coming forward with harassment claims. And according to the New Yorker reporting, 10 months of reporting, 16 former and current executives at the Weinstein Company said they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances.

No current NYPD investigation open. I get there are statutes of limitations on these things, but you have that tape from not that long ago and the New York D.A., Cy Vance says we didn't have enough to go on. Did law enforcement drop the ball in any respect here?

BERNSTEIN: It's -- you've got to look at them in each individual case. I mean the cases that were brought forward under Cy Vance -- and he's been in the news lately for dropping some other cases -- they probably should go back and look at them, although it may be too late.

Any district attorney's office with a new administration has to look at these cases carefully. And whether it's a felony rape, which would require force -- or against the will, or some lesser sexual assault charges that are misdemeanors, which again, the statute of limitations because they're misdemeanors, are much shorter.

So certainly, complaints are -- have to usually be made, but law enforcement can do it on their own. I, myself, was a victim in a case and it was law enforcement who came to me. Because as a young lawyer, I was afraid to appoint -- to name a judge. So I've been there, I know this from all sides and so sometimes it does take a direct investigation to go seek out, rather than waiting for the women to come forward.

BERMAN: You know, the entertainment this morning, Brian, is a remarkable place to be. We're seeing Jeffrey Katzenberg, long time friend of Harvey Weinstein write you've done terrible things to a number of women of a period of years. Matt Damon, who was part of so many Miramax and Weinstein films, I will peel my eyes back now farther than I ever have to look for this type of behavior.

A lot of people have to be asking themselves some very serious questions here, Brian. How much did they let slide by. BERNSTEIN: It's a long overdue period of soul-searching. We can sit

here and say things are improving, we're seeing progress in this country, women are taken more seriously than 10 or 20 years ago about claims of sexual harassment and assault. That is true.

We're in the middle of a profound cultural shift. But at the same time, there's still a power imbalance -- a big power imbalance in Hollywood. Mostly male executives, some of an older generation greenlighting movies, picking who's going to star in films and T.V. shows. This does not end with Harvey Weinstein.

HARLOW: It doesn't. Brian Stelter, thank you for the reporting. I know you're all over this. B.J. Bernstein, we appreciate the legal expertise. Coming up for us, we will speak one on one with Lauren Sivan. She's a reporter who was cornered, trapped by Harvey Weinstein. What she says happened next will stun you. She'll be with us next hour.

BERMAN: All right. This morning, one of the President's oldest friends talking about the President's tone and policies. Why he says the President is quote better than this.

And he dodged the Las Vegas shooter's bullets inside a hotel hallway then called for help. One hotel worker describes what happened on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay before the shooter opened fire on the festival.

HARLOW: Also a show of force. U.S. bombers fly over the Korean Peninsula as we get new reports that North Korea stole American warplanes. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: This morning one of the president's closest long-time friends says he is stunned by some of the language coming out of the White House, from the president. It's a new "Washington Post" interview with Tom Barrack. He chaired the president's inauguration and he says it's not just the tweets he takes issue with, it's also some of the key policies, like the travel ban and the wall.

ROMANS: Listen to what he says, "I keep on saying, but who is your base? You don't have a natural base. Your base now is the world and America. You have all these constituencies, show them who you really are. In my opinion, he's better than this."

[09:20:04] Joining us now to discuss this, CNN political commentators, Errol Louis and Matt Lewis, and CNN contributor, Salena Zito.

Errol, I want to start with you. This is coming from a man who is a very good friend of the president, he's inauguration chair. What's the significance of these words?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He also gave a remarkable speech at the convention if you remember. It was intended to sort of humanize Trump. He is trying I think to sort of play that same role here and explain Trump to the world and try to let some of the world filter into the Trump bubble and connect with him.

Unfortunately, I think for this effort, as well intentioned as it may be, the time for inspired amateurs has passed. I mean, most of the problems of this White House come from having somebody with minimal government experience thrust into a really high profile, high stakes role.

So, you know, we wish Mr. Barrack the best of luck, but it's hard to see how he can sort of right the ship when he himself has not been vetted. We don't -- there's a lot we don't know about him.

HARLOW: We have seen friends of the president try to communicate to him through the media, through cable television or this "Washington Post" interview. Salena, you know about the president's base. You spent a lot of time reporting with them and on them. Do you think that Barrack is right when he says you don't have a base? If he's not, do they support him because of or in spite of this language, these policies, tweets?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think they support him in spite and because of the comments. You know, my takeaway is that I felt was really important in that interview was the notion that he has too many yes men around him.

I think that that is always something -- a trap that any leader falls in, right? Whether it's a -- the head of a corporation, a CEO, or a president, or a senator. If you have too many people around you telling you everything you do is great, you know, you need that person to say, oh, my god, you can't do that.

I think that to me -- that was the most important point of the interview. As far as his base, he has a natural base, an interesting alignment of different kinds of people, and a lot of people that, as you know, we missed during the election.

I have not seen any evidence of them going anywhere yet, but it doesn't mean they won't. If it becomes part of the swamp that will become his biggest problem.

BERMAN: Interesting. You know, getting criticized by his good friend, Thomas Barrack, and also being criticized by Marshal Mathers today, who not --

HARLOW: Otherwise known as?

BERMAN: Otherwise known as Eminem -- with a scathing free-style performance that aired last night on the BET Awards. Just watch this for a second.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMINEM, RAP ARTIST: Racism is the only thing he's fantastic for, because that's how he gets (inaudible) rocks off and he's orange. Yes, sick tan, that's why he wants us to disband because he cannot stand the fact we are not afraid of Trump, that's why he keeps screaming drain the swamp because he's in quick sand. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: This is very direct and you could call it fierce. Matt Lewis, among other things, what Eminem said if you are a fan of mine -- you can't be a fan of Donald Trump and be a fan of mine. What do you make of this?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I would that's actually an act of courage, maybe stupidity but courage, and there was a Michael Jordan who said Republicans buy sneakers too. So at least Eminem here is sort of putting his money where his mouth is.

Having said that, I thought this is not terribly good. I have heard some of his music before that was much better than this, and this is sort of freestyle. It seems like he's an aging guy that is clinging to relevance.

But I would say I do see sort of a weird trend here. You know, there was a big story in the "New York Times" column talking about the Weinstein issue and how liberals stood behind Ted Kennedy, and Woody Allen is still out there making movies, and Jimmy Kimmel did the "Man Show," but now he's somehow this, you know, great noble saint of liberalism, fighting for health care.

Eminem is a guy who has rapped about rape and abusing women and horrible things, and maybe that was an act and maybe that was slim shady, but what is this? Are we supposed to take this seriously as political commentary? What was it when he was talking about raping women? Was that commentary? I don't know.

HARLOW: It's a really important, Matt Lewis and Errol, to see very important intersection and popular culture and politics that resonates with so many more people and it encompasses all in one way or another. Yes, what do you make of that argument? Who is he?

LOUIS: Donald Trump himself comes out of that same sort of exchange between cultural politics and electoral politics.

[09:25:09] And if he wants to be heard, and obviously Eminem and anybody else has the right to do it. I sense frankly a kind of a sort of degrading of the conversation, unfortunately.

I mean, I'm old enough to remember when it would have been unthinkable for any serious musical or Hollywood figure to stand in front of a camera and basically cuss out the president in such vulgar terms and we take it as the norm.

But you know what, the flip side of that is the "Access Hollywood" tape, right? I mean, we have a real problem with how we talk to about politics and how we talk and about each other. So, yes, it will be very easy for people to dismiss it.

HARLOW: And dismissing something as locker room talk which the president did again this week.

BERMAN: I have to say, you know, the goal perhaps of being divisive is to divide, so has the president succeed in getting what he wants here if he's got Eminem out here saying --

LOUIS: As racially divisive deliberately so and I think that's what this whole NFL controversy is about from Donald Trump. As deliberately, racially divisive as he can be, it gets very tricky when you put in somebody like an Eminem, right -- because there are a lot of Trump supporters, I guarantee you who are Eminem fans.

HARLOW: And not to mention, of course, from the state of Michigan, important for a number of reasons, important to the president.

BERMAN: Maybe Eminem will run against Kid Rock.

HARLOW: That's actually not totally out of the question. We keep asking Kid Rock to come on the show and let us know if he's going to run. Please come.

Salena, let's talk about the Democrats, Joe Biden is going to college campuses to talk about sexual assault on college campuses but has said nothing publicly about Harvey Weinstein. Hillary Clinton and former President Obama and the former first lady just came out yesterday, five days after this initial reporting to condemn him. What's going on?

ZITON: I am not quite sure why they made that such a big gap to come out against this. Obviously -- not obviously, but you would think that the president, the former President Obama certainly would not have known about his behavior. I mean, his daughter, his young daughter was an intern for them, right?

HARLOW: Right.

ZITO: So, he probably didn't know, but why they waited such a long time is sort of gets to the nugget of inauthenticity that people rebelled against in last year's primaries with Trump and Sanders where you had to massage the sentence and have it tested out with a bunch of different people before you make sure it's perfectly worded.

It would have been better if it was instinctive and immediate and from the heart rather than these, you know, these long eloquent statements with, you know, just the right words attached to it.

BERMAN: This is not a trick question. I mean, this is a fairly easy one to respond to if you can read the articles and if you hear these stories. You know, Matt Lewis, I have seen a lot of conservative pundits, you know, bloggers writing with glee about the situation and a predicament this puts liberals in it and the selective outrage that you have amongst some liberal.

However, you know, this is also a reminder that a dozen women came out and accused the president of sexual misconduct last year, and that happened a year ago and he's now the president of the United States and that's still just out there.

LEWIS: Yes. This also reminds me, of course, the Roger Ailes story, and in the case of the Roger Ailes story, it was like Gretchen Carlson is the first person that goes forward and then you have all these other people coming, including Megyn Kelly, who said that, you know, she had experienced -- I think she said something of this sort.

And the same thing happened here with Weinstein, right? You had like Rose (inaudible) and Ashley Judd initially, and now you are up to like, Angelina Jolie and others, so it makes me wonder how sadly prolific this guy was and how ubiquitous this problem is.

HARLOW: So there's one thing -- I sat down with Gretchen Carlson yesterday for an interview about this. In her words to me the flood gates are open. One thing she's finding from one thing that could change that would allow more of these women to speak is changing the laws on forced sort of secret arbitration, which is why a lot of these women in the "New York Times" article could not speak for a long time. So, we'll see what happens from here. Thank you all very, very much.

The president making the case for his tax plan in Pennsylvania a little bit later today. Ahead of the trip saying if Congress approves his plan, the economy would grow by leaps and bounds.

BERMAN: CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans joins us now. Romans, the president, among other things, suggested today no one has noticed the stock market increase. The fact that the Dow has gone up for the last few months. Nobody has noticed -- we have a whole segment on the show called "Before The Bell" where you come on and tell us about how much the stock market has gone up.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He said it would be nice if the fake news media would notice what happened since the election the stock market, Poppy and I just yesterday at this very moment 24 hours ago pointed out there have been 64 record highs in the Dow since the election.

Let me show you what that looks like because he put it all together. The president taking credit for those record highs, but you can see this is a trend that is well entrenched.