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Dan Scavino May Be Hick' Successor as Trump Confidant; Independent Autopsy: Stephon Clark Was Shot 8 Times; Congressman Elizabeth Etsy Kept Top Aide Despite Abuse Allegations; Parkland Teen Refusing Apology From Fox News Host; Facebook VP: Cost OF Connecting Users Could Risk Lives. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 30, 2018 - 16:30   ET


[16:30:02] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Now, Dan Scavino is one of the very few aides that the president has in this White House that he truly feels has his back, because as we've reported before, there are certainly -- some people in the White House that the president doesn't think -- doesn't trust entirely or thinks are trying to undermine him.

But Dan Scavino is not one of those people, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: And that circle of trust seems to be shrinking,

Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.

I want to bring our panel back now.

So, former Trump's caddy, he's got -- you could say he's got the greatest power in the world, right? If he could tweet for Trump, right, I mean, tweets have real consequences in this administration.

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, this tells you everything you need to know about what Trump thinks about the communications director role and what he thinks about communications strategy. It doesn't matter who served in that role. There's one person who's the communications director sitting in the Oval Office.

But what has been really troubling about their strategy is that they don't have one and it doesn't matter who's in that job. So, why not make Dan Scavino the communications director? They haven't been able to move the public. They haven't been able to use it to get legislation passed. He's one of the most unpopular presidents in recent memory, that's not a successful track record.

He may just see that role of somebody who is his buddy or his close advisors -- his close friend or somebody he can complain to, and that's unique. It personally makes me because I had the honor of serving in that job and many people who have served before me in Republican and Democratic administrations and I think the way they've treated it has demeaned the job and demeaned public service so frankly nothing would surprise me, including naming the former golf caddy of the communications director.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Though I will say, one thing that Hope -- we can't -- Hope's role in that White House is unmatched. There's no one who can fill that role, because she's someone who could also interpret the president. There is a lot of reporting said she'd shield the other staff from some of the president.

PSAKI: Sure.

KUCINICH: Exactly. So that exact role, that job doesn't exist. So, instead, it appears that he's looking to someone who literally speaks his language on Twitter, and someone that the president trusts and someone that can communicate for him. So, it's actually a very literal sense of the word but not to the strategy point.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & POLLSTER: There's also this kind of you know, the flippant, oh, well, he was a former golf caddie, well, Hope Hicks began doing brand PR work for Ivanka Trump's clothing brands. Hardly, the traditional path one takes to become White House communications director, and yet, by all accounts, she thrived in the job in part because she had the trust of the principal and the trust of reporters.

Now, to the extent that Dan Scavino has one of those two things at least, that positions him perhaps better than -- there are a host of people within the Republican Party who are experienced communications operatives. In fact, the very first White House communications director that was chosen came from those ranks, the one who is well- known, respected, traditional professional. But that didn't work out because this is not a traditional White House.

SCIUTTO: Well, here's the thing -- and again, we all started somewhere, right? So, it's -- you know, don't want to take it shot at him because he started as caddie. But beyond the part of this that you could smile about, there's something truly consequential to this because Trump is running the White House, the leadership of the most powerful country in the world, much like he way on his business, very self-focused, surrounded by people who are loyal over perhaps qualified, right, surrounded by people who do not contradict him, that is not a healthy way to run a government, is it?

PSAKI: No, and I think the reality is you want to surround yourself if you're president, with people who contribute something, who challenged you, who are able to conduct and put together a strategy or a policy so that you can make the tough decisions. President Obama used to always say, it's not -- it's -- that doesn't come to his desk unless it's very, very difficult because he trusted for the most part his staff.

And I think it is true that, you know, Trump can take many different directions with the communications director job just as he has with other ones. What is telling here though is that he's not looking for somebody of the many people you mentioned who is qualified, never has, aside from Mike Dubke, who has had jobs that would prepare them for this. That's not what he's looking for as he names new cabinet secretaries either. SCIUTTO: There will be no book called "Team of Rivals" about this administration, right, and in future years.

Thanks very much to the panel. Please stick around.

She publicly called for a male congressman to resign after he was accused of sexually harassing aides. But now, one congresswoman is facing calls for her own resignation for her handling of another case. That's right after this.


[16:38:39] SCIUTTO: Breaking news, just in to CNN, results from an independent autopsy commissioned by the family on Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man shot and killed by police in his grandmother's backyard. It says the autopsy that Clark was shot eight times and yet he did not die instantly.

I want to bring in CNN's Nick Watt. He's been covering this story.

Nick, why could the results of this autopsy be significant in the investigation?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, because the lawyers for the Clark family say that this autopsy, the results of this autopsy contradict the narrative that we've been getting from local authorities. Now, the local police say that the officers perceived that Stephon Clark was holding a weapon, and the officers association says that he was in what they described as a shooting stance.

Now, this autopsy, eight bullets hit Stephon Clark, 20 were fired. The first apparently hit his left side, which may have turned him, six more hit his neck and his upper back and then an eighth went into his thigh. Now, apparently, seven of those bullets all apart from the one that hit his thigh could have been fatal.

And as you mentioned, he did not die instantly. The pathologist said that based on those injuries, he would estimate that between three and ten minutes for Clark to bleed out or for respiratory failure -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Goodness and intense.

[16:40:02] How are police responding to this, especially in light of what the family is alleging here?

WATT: Well, the police department just said that it would be inappropriate for them to comment because they haven't seen the results of the official autopsy and neither of we. That autopsy, all we heard from that was that Clark died from multiple bullet wounds.

I'll read part of their statement which reads: We acknowledge the importance of this case to all in our community and we are committed to a thorough and comprehensive investigation.

It's worth noting that the police released the body cam footage from those officers very, very quickly that answered some questions, but it also raised some more, mainly, why did officers a few minutes after the shooting mute their cameras? That's something that even the Sacramento police chief has described, Jim, as suspicious.

SCIUTTO: Lots to investigate. Nick Watt in Sacramento, thanks very much.

When Michigan Congressman John Conyers was accused of sexually harassing female staffers, his colleague Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty called on him to resign. When a staffer who worked in Esty's own congressional office was accused of harassment, the Connecticut Democrat approached the situation very much differently.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins me now. She's been looking into this story uncovered by -- first, we should note -- the "Connecticut Post".

What are you learning?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Jim. Tonight, there are many calls for her to resign. Her hometown newspaper, "The Hartford Courant", the NRCC, they call this a disturbing cover-up by the congresswoman.

But the congresswoman is tonight saying she's staying put and is not resigning over this. She is however apologizing and acknowledging that she should have handled this a whole lot better.

This was someone who was once very powerful in her office, her former chief of staff Tony Baker. And these are some very serious allegations, allegations that Baker physically assaulted a female staffer in her office who he was in a relationship with, a woman by the name of Anna Kain. And Kain alleges that Baker once punched her in the back, sexually harassed her in the congressman's office and threatened her, so much so that she had to get a restraining order against him. Now, Baker, through her spokesman, did not dispute that he engaged in abusive behavior, but he does denied punching her.

In a statement to CNN, Kain says, quote: I shared my story, but this isn't about me. This is about a flawed system designed to protect powerful people and that isolates and ignores those who need protection most.

The congresswoman is apologizing to Kain. In a statement tonight, she says: I am sorry that I failed to protect her and provide her with a safe and respectful work environment that every employee deserves. To the survivor and to anyone else on my team who was hurt by my failure to see what was going on in my office, I am sorry. And when we're talking about the failures that the congresswoman references there, the timeline is so very important here.

This is something that allegedly happened two years ago and the congresswoman knew about it two years ago. She says she first learned about this in the spring of 2016. She says she launched in an internal investigation and demanded that Baker received counseling but he ultimately stayed on her staff for three months after that.

She entered into a non-disclosure agreement with him upon his exit. She paid him severance and even wrote a letter of recommendation for him for his next job. And the congresswoman's office tells us tonight that she has since paid back that severance and they reiterate that she is not resigning, Jim, although, of course, there's a tremendous amount of scrutiny on the congresswoman over her role in this tonight.

SCIUTTO: Yes, they're just having so many repercussions across the Hill and elsewhere itself.

Sunlen Serfaty, thanks very much.

She is a Fox News host who attacked a Parkland shooting survivor for being rejected by some colleges he applied to. Now, David Hogg is asking advertisers to quit Laura Ingraham show. Is her apology on Twitter enough for him? His response is next.


SCIUTTO: We're back now with the escalating fight between the 17- year-old Parkland shooting survivor and a Fox News Host. Today, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior David Hogg told CNN that he refuses to accept the apology of conservative host Laura Ingraham and now more advertisers are pulling ads from her prime-time show despite her apology. I want to bring in CNN's Tom Foreman, he's been following the story. It started to get ugly and potentially expensive for Fox News.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, it certainly going to be expensive and it's definitely ugly at this point. Laura Ingraham has built her following, her brand and her advertisers base by fiercely engaging all sorts of controversy in the name of conservatism. This time, however, she may have picked the wrong fight.


FOREMAN: I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland. In a dramatic and rare turn-around, the conservative fire brand is extending an olive branch to David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting just days after she used her Fox News show to mock his anti-gun crusade.

DAVID HOGG, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLASS HIGH SCHOOL: To those politicians supported by the NRA that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say get your resumes ready.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who wrote that line?

FOREMAN: Hogg unwavering.

HOGG: The issue needs to be gun violence in America but what she's trying to do is distract from that and I hate it.

FOREMAN: On Twitter, she had taken her attack on the high school senior even further. "David Hogg rejected by four colleges to which he applied and whines about it." His sister fired a tweet to First Lady Melania Trump who has taken up the cause of online abuse, "Hey, my brother is literally getting cyberbullied by Laura Ingraham, any comments?" The First Lady has not publicly respond but when Hogg urges his more than 600,000 Twitter followers to contact Ingraham's advertisers, numerous companies including some big names pull their sponsorships. Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA including David Hogg. On reflection in the spirit of holy week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland. As always, he's welcome to return to the show any time for a productive discussion. For now, however, fresh off the massive marches just days ago, Hogg is having none of it.

[16:50:44] HOGG: I think it is great that corporate America is standing with me and the rest of my friends because when you come against any one of us, whether it be me or anybody else, you're coming against all of us and I think it's really disgusting the fact that she basically tried promoting her show after apologizing to me.


FOREMAN: So it's not clear at this point if this exodus of advertisers is over yet or what it might cost Fox in the big picture. They can shift this around. It may not cost them anything but certainly, it's got their attention at this point and we're not sure how they're going to end this fight if they will at all.

SCIUTTO: And has David Hogg given a sort of diplomatic (INAUDIBLE) for him where he has to be satisfied?

FOREMAN: I mean, in a sense he's offered terms of surrender. His terms of surrender at this point seems to be that he will accept her apology if she broadens it out to include all coverage by Fox of him and his friends in this whole dispute there, and I know, Jim, based on history, that seems pretty unlikely because that's a big ask at this point.

SCIUTTO: No question. Tom Foreman, thanks very much. Then more problems for Facebook after an internal memo is made public. One Facebook executive says even people dying in a terrorist attack planning to using the site could possibly be good for the company. I want to talk about that more next.


[16:55:00] SCIUTTO: We're back now with the "TECH LEAD" and more trouble at Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to quickly squash controversy over a leaked memo written by one of his top executives. In June 2016, V.P. Andrew Bosworth suggested a "by any means necessary approach to growth and connecting users." Part of his memo read the following: "Maybe it cost a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still, we connect people. The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows to us connect more people more often is de facto good." It comes as the site faces mounting questions about how it collects and stores user data. Of course, it's involved in the election as well. CNN's Dylan Byers is following this. Dylan, this Vice President, you know, very senior executive Andrew Bosworth now saying he was trying to make a point in the memo. But that point not being received particularly well. DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: No, it's not. And in fact, what it's doing is reinforcing everybody's worst fears about the kind of company Facebook is and the kind of values that it has. At a moment when Facebook is already racing to put out fires left, right and center over questions about its handling of user data, its role in 2016 election with Russian meddling, Cambridge Analytica, now all of a sudden it has to put out this fire from a V.P. who by the way is one of the core members of the Facebook team. This is not some outlier and it's forcing Mark Zuckerberg to come forward again and make a statement and he did just that. And what he said, I'll read it to you, Jim, he said, this was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We've never believed that the ends justified the means. We recognize that connecting people isn't enough by itself. And of course, as you said, Bosworth himself said that he never meant what he wrote in that piece. He didn't mean it then and he doesn't mean it now. It is very hard for people to trust Facebook when it says that. When A, we have the memo right there in front of us. What it says, there's not a whole lot of gray matter there. And B, I think a lot of people don't understand why they should trust Facebook right now in light of all the scandals that have happened in recent weeks and months.

SCIUTTO: Was this a policy statement by the Facebook Vice President or was it kind of part of sparking a discussion? Have they made that clear?

BYERS: So that's his argument. What he says is when he wrote the memo he was trying to get a discussion going about Facebook's values. But look, again, like I said, there's not a whole lot of gray matter. What he's talking about is what the north star of the company is, growth. Growing the company, getting more users to use Facebook so in part they have access to more data. And his argument in that memo is that the ends justify the means. So if there are questionable you know, practices that Facebook has about how they go about collecting that data, that's OK so long as it's getting more users on the platform. Again, it's a very hard argument for Facebook to sell.

SCIUTTO: It's like an episode in Silicon Valley. Dylan Byers, thanks very much. Be sure to tune in to CNN this Sunday morning for "STATE OF THE UNION." Jake Tapper's guest Sunday are Senator Bernie Sanders and the just fired V.A. Secretary David Shulkin. It all starts at 9:00 Eastern, time in the morning, 12:00 p.m. Eastern as well on Sunday. Follow the show on Twitter at @THELEADCNN. That's it for THE LEAD today and I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer. He is of course in "THE SITUATION ROOM."