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Democratic Congresswoman's Home Paper Calls for Her to Resign; ABC Poised to Renew "Roseanne" for Season 2; Jury Selection Begins Monday in Case Against Cosby. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 30, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: A major paper in Connecticut, "Hartford Current," calling for this Democratic congresswoman from their home state to resign. Elizabeth Esty is now apologizing for, quote, failing to protect this former female staffer, who says she was abused by the congresswoman's former chief of staff. Esty under fire for keeping Tony Baker on staff for three months after learning within a week of these allegations against him. Her senior advisor, Anna Kane, once dated baker, but said he had then turned violent, even punching her at one point in her back, berating her, sexually assaulting her in Esty's Capitol Hill office throughout 2014.

The congresswoman learned of all of this two years later after Kane says Baker left a voicemail threatening her live. The congresswoman in a statement saying she, quote, demanded counseling for my offending chief of staff and I launched an internal review of management policy and practices and an investigation into what was going on in the office. She said it was through this review that she, quote, learned that the threat of violence was not an isolated incident but part of the pattern of behavior that victimized many of the women on my staff.

It was then they decided that he would go but not before she wrote him a reference letter for his next job at the gun violence prevention group, Sandy Hook Promise, that group terminated his employment this week. So, with me now someone who knows his way around Washington and the White House, former senior adviser to president Obama and CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod, host of "THE AXE FILES." We'll get into your interview with Sir Charles in a second. But on this Connecticut congresswoman story, the fact that the "Hartford Current" is now saying she should resign, should she be worrying about her job?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think there has to be a uniform standard. I guess what she has to ask yourself and what others have to ask of her, if these same set of facts were presented to her and the congressman involved was, say, one of her colleagues on the Republican side, would she be mute, would she be silent, or would she call for some sort of action, either resignation or discipline? I suspect that she would call for one or the other of those things. And so, you have to apply the same standards to yourself. Clearly, she did not handle this information the way she should. She did not handle the situation the way she should. And there probably should be some action, whether it's resignation or there's an ethics committee proceeding. But this is not the standard by which we should expect our public figures to behave.

BALDWIN: We should point out she did speak up during the harassment allegations involving Congressman John Conyers saying we should be better, we should do better. I do think that points to a bit of hypocrisy on the part of the congresswoman.

AXELROD: Yes.

BALDWIN: Let me move on. Because I want to ask you about the West Wing and some of what we've been hearing. Some of our reporting, David, is that the President has been talking on the phone with some outside advisers who are basically saying to him you don't need a chief of staff, you don't need a communications director. Is there any scenario, David that that might be a good thing?

AXELROD: I can't think of none. It is consistent with the behavior that we've seen from the President over the last many weeks. I think that he has concluded that his instincts got him to the presidency and that his instincts will carry him through, and that he's tired of being told what he can't do. He's tired of being managed and he's going to fly by his own lights and take his chances.

But this is not the Trump organization. This is the United States government. This is the most sensitive and important office on the planet. And if you make miscalculations, there could be grave consequences. So, you need people around you, you know, Brooke, I can only tell you, I sat next to the President of the states, literally, in the next office for two years. The volume of complicated matters that come before the president are such that you have to have help. You have to have organization. You have to be able to draw on expertise. You can't run it like the Trump organization. So, I think in the long run, we and he could pay a big price for this.

BALDWIN: Charles Barkley, a man who doesn't hold back on most things. You had a long chat with him.

AXELROD: Yes.

BALDWIN: Let's watch Charles Barkley's thoughts on the President of the United States.

[15:35:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA HALL OF FAMER: Listen, I never talk bad about the president. I'm going to be factual. I've never been more angry and disgusted at this situation than I am now. This turmoil every single day, the tweeting, the hiring and firing. Like, dude, I'm blessed, and you are, too. Like it really ain't going to have a big effect on our life.

But I actually have humanity. I want everybody to have a good life. I want everybody to have a good job. I want their kids to go to school. I want their kids to be safe. I want everybody to have economic opportunity. And I want to make sure we don't forget about DACA. Our public schools -- I don't want them to forget about those poor people in Puerto Rico either. I was watching the news last night and they're still six months out. They don't have power. We don't even mention them anymore. We're wasting our time on Russia and Stormy Daniels. It's ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Tell me more.

AXELROD: Well, listen, that's Charles. You know, Charles speaks his mind and he speaks from -- in a kind of common sensical way. You know, I actually asked him, I said, you know, one of the reasons that Trump supporters say that they like him is that they feel like he's not edited, he's not manicured, he says what he believes. And that's one of Charles' appeals as well. Of course, they're saying different things. But he was very outspoken about this. He was tough on the Democratic Party as well. He talked about guns. He talked about the NCAA.

BALDWIN: Actually, David let me stop you. We have that clip. Let me play that clip. Here is where he's tough on the Democratic Party.

AXELROD: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AXELROD: I remember on election night that you said that Democrats had taken black voters for granted.

BARKLEY: Forever.

You Democrats, and I told Mr. Jones this, and I love the -- they've taken the black vote and poor vote for granted for a long time.

Everybody in my life has voted Democrat our entire life. And now we're starting like, well, how much has it really helped us? We know the Republicans aren't better. Let's get that out of the way. But if you're going to have us vote for you, we've got to start holding them accountable. Our neighborhoods are not better. Our schools are not better. Crime is not better. So, we've got to start holding these politicians accountable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Do you think he's right about the black vote?

AXELROD: I don't think he's right that things aren't better. Another part of the interview he said things are much better than when he was growing up in segregated Alabama. Part of that is because of what the Democratic Party did on civil rights. But he is right that at many times the Democratic Party assumes the African-American votes and other minority votes, assumes the vote of poor people. Doesn't communicate, doesn't engage in the way that it should. I think that's one of the reasons we saw the result we saw in 2016, where a lot of minority voters stayed home. So, Charles Barkley is articulating something that I think a lot of black voters feel.

BALDWIN: David Axelrod, you are one of the best. We thank you for coming on.

AXELROD: Thanks, Brooke. Great to be with you.

BALDWIN: We'll watch your interview with Charles on "THE AXE FILES" tomorrow night 7:00 eastern here on CNN.

Coming up, the hottest show in America right now. Partly because of its political themes in the Trump era. And now some comedians are refusing to watch Roseanne. Hear why.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURIE METCALF, ACTOR PLAYING ROSANNE'S SISTER: How could you have voted for him Roseanne?

ROSANNE BARR, ACTOR, ROSEANNE: He talked about jobs, Jackie. He said he would shake things up. I mean, this might come as a complete shock to you, but we almost lost our house the way things are going.

METCLAF: You have looked at the news? Because now things are worse.

BARR: Not on the real news.

METCALF: Oh, please!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Roseanne, 2.0, the big reboot with a mega ratings success this week. ABC is poised to renew the classic '90s sitcom for a second season. But will people keep watching it? Despite its huge Hollywood comeback, a number of fellow comedians are not feeling the new Roseanne. I want to bring in my guess. Heather McDonald, comedian and former writer on "Chelsea Lately." And she is also the host of "The Juicy Scoop Podcast." And with us Harry Enten, CNN politics senior writer and analyst. And so, Harry, let me just begin with you on what you wrote for our CNN opinion piece. Because back in the day Roseanne used to be considered a pretty progressive show. Right? That Roseanne Connor would have voted for Bill Clinton. How has she become a Trump supporter and how does that mirror real-life demographics?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Well, essentially what we see with Roseanne Barr, she still a very liberal person. I think she probably would have voted for Bernie Sanders, if she had the opportunity in the general election. But she is somebody, as with her character, she is a white person without a college degree. That show is based in the industrial Midwest. And these were voters that voted by about 10 percentage points for Bill Clinton in 1996.

But then you switch all the way forward to 2016. You see that Donald Trump carried those same voters, white voters without a college degree living in the industrial Midwest by 30 percentage points. That's a huge shift. And so, Barr and Connor both are emblematic of that. Where you see white voters without a college degree shifting from the Democratic to the Republican columns.

BALDWIN: So those are the hard facts and the numbers. What about the opinions, Heather?

[15:45:00] This is where I wanted to ask you. Because Roseanne Barr has been known for retweeting and promoting some really out there, right-wing conspiracy theories. I was reading these tweets from these prominent comedians this morning. Stand-up comedian, Kumail Nanjiani, actually tweeted -- responding to Sarah Silverman's endorsement of the show -- he tweeted, the second part of his tweet, I can't bring myself to watch a person who mocks teens whose friends were murdered, who traffics in conspiracy theories that damage our world and reality.

As a comedian, do you support Roseanne? The show and the actress?

HEATHER MCDONALD, COMEDIAN: I totally support the show. It's a great show. I have female friends that are writing on it. They wrote a show that reflected where the Connors might be today. And I thought it was brilliant. And whether you agree with Roseanne Barr's personal politics is -- you don't have to watch it. But just like liberal comedians are often annoyed when conservatives say we don't want to hear your politics, just such up and say your jokes, she has a right to have a different opinion and has a right to tweet it, just like every other American and still be allowed to entertain us.

BALDWIN: I think it's important, too, on the show and in real life she's this Trump supporter. But on the show, you have DJ in this interracial relationship, Darlene has a gender fluid kid, Jackie's a Hillary supporter turned Jill Stein voter. I mean, is it fair to characterize these 18 million voters as supporters of Trump? Heather.

MCDONALD: No, absolutely not. And I think it's great that they have those elements. Because it also shows that someone that may have supported Trump and still supports Trump today are open minded about social concerns and gender fluidity and the way they see their grandchildren and how they're adjusting to the differences in America. And because they may have voted for Trump, because of what she said in that clip about jobs and economy does not mean that they believe everything down the line of the Republican Party of today or yesteryear. People could have different opinions on things. You can be a Republican and be for gun control. I think it reflects that in the show and I like that.

BALDWIN: What the President, Harry, to you? We know about the phone call. He's all about TV stars and ratings, and both of which with this show. He called her up and congratulated her and he's also taking credit for the show's success so far. Do you think he deserves it?

MCDONALD: He did not --

BALDWIN: This is for Harry.

MCDONALD: Go ahead. Sorry. Sorry.

ENTEN: Look, Donald Trump will claim credit for anything. I think Roseanne Barr is a gifted comedienne. And people tuned into that show for the same reason that they tuned in in the 1990s. And that it's a funny show. I mean, obviously, the Trump angle has something to do with it. And I think that's why it was so successful. But at the end of the day, it's Roseanne Barr and it's the writers on that staff that were able to put on a successful program. And that's why people tuned in and why the show has perhaps has been renewed for a second season.

BALDWIN: Same question, heather. Does he get credit?

MCDONALD: He doesn't get credit. But you can't blame him for being a little excited that one show put him in a somewhat positive light. In the last year and a half, I mean, nothing else has. So, let him enjoy Roseanne with the 18 other million people -- 18 million people.

BALDWIN: And to your writer friends on the show, congrats to them. An amazing outing with 18 million viewers. Did they feel the pressure to keep, you know, conspiracy theories, to keep all that at bay and suck people in the next week?

MCDONALD: I'm sure, like anybody, they would probably wish that she, just like Donald Trump, might control her more controversial tweets. But as far as writing the show, I think they were very smart to reflect this part of America within the family, and also include a part of America that maybe feels there aren't any shows that reflect them on TV right now and they're going to watch this one. So, I think it was absolutely genius.

BALDWIN: Heather and Harry, thank you. To the both of you.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Still ahead here on CNN, an independent autopsy showing an unarmed man shot and killed by police in Sacramento. We now know he suffered eight gunshot wounds, six in the back. What the family's attorneys are saying this means for the investigation.

But first, I want you to meet this week's CNN hero. A chef from Dallas who left a successful career to keep can kids who end up in jail from going back. A chance encounter with a young man in a juvenile detention led to Chad Houser's aha moment.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHAD HOUSER, CNN HERO: I remember consciously thinking that the system is rigged based on choices that were made for him not by him, the color of his skin. The part of town that he was born into, the schools that he had access to. And I just thought it's not fair. He deserves every chance that I had. And I thought if you're not willing to do something yourself, then you're being a hypocrite. So, either put up or shut up. And that was it for me.

BALDWIN: Put up or shut up.

[15:50:00] Please, watch chad's full story go to CNNheroes.com. And if you know someone who deserves to be a CNN hero, nominate them right there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:55:00] BALDWIN: The judge in Bill Cosby's retrial has pushed back opening statements to at least April 9. That is what a source close to the trial tells CNN. The jury selection is still slated to start Monday. Cosby has pleaded not guilty to charges that he allegedly drugged and sexual assaulted, Andrea Constand, in 2004 at his home in Pennsylvania. The 80-year-old actor and comedian's first trial ended in a hung jury in June of last year. In CNN correspondent, Jean Casarez is with me from Norristown, P.A. Jean, what's different about Crosby's retrial?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, there's going to be so many things that are different, Brooke. I want to tell you that attorneys are behind closed doors right now talking about jury selection. Because that does begin on Monday. Some say it's the most important part of this case. But we learned today one thing that may be very different, and it is the issue of Quaaludes. You may remember during the last trial, it was allowed in. A part of deposition that Bill Cosby gave during the civil case of Andrea Constand, where he says, that he got prescriptions for Quaaludes and he gave Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with. He then changed it to a woman.

But today the defense stood up and said, your Honor, there's just too much here. Because you're allowing five women to take the stand to testify that Bill Cosby drugged me and sexually assaulted me. Which are prior bad acts. And now you're thinking of letting in about the Quaaludes? That's another prior bad act. And that is blatantly unfair to our side. The judge seemed to really listen to that. He has not made a decision.

But the fact is this case is about one woman. Her name is Andrea Constand. She was a Temple employee. And she went to police saying that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her. She thought of him as her mentor. I sat down exclusively with Bill Cosby's initial lead attorney for the first trial, Brian McMonagle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: So, you believe they had a romantic relationship.

BRIAN MCMONAGLE, BILL COSBY'S ATTORNEY FOR FIRST TRIAL: thank you I don't think there's any doubt about that fact. I mean, the testimony in this trial was that Ms. Constand had been to his home on a couple of different occasions. That there had been romantic settings, romantic interludes.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Constand testified the relationship was not romantic. He was a Temple friend, she said. Somebody I trusted, a mentor. As for the romantic interludes, McMonagle says happened, Constand insisted they were passes from Cosby that she rebuffed. Which made sense to Diana Parsons, who says her sister has no interest in romantic interludes with men.

DIANA PARSONS, ANDREA CONSTAND'S SISTER: Andrea was actually 16 years old when she told us that she was gay. CASAREZ: Cosby's attorneys used phone records to try to prove a

romantic relationship. Pointing to more than 50 calls Constand made to Cosby after the alleged assault and before March 31 when Constand left Temple.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: And Andrea Constand testified during the last trial that she did call Bill Cosby and she returned calls from Bill Cosby after the alleged drugging and sexual assault. But she worked at Temple. He was very involved with the women's basketball team and it was part of her job duty and she had to do what she was required to do. Brooke, we have just heard that court has finished for the day. So now, it is on to jury selection Monday morning at 9:00.

BALDWIN: I'm curious for the retrial, what Bill Cosby -- what's he been up to this whole time?

CASAREZ: He's been laying low. I mean, during the summer he did do a bit of a comedy routine in the Philadelphia area. Even to the point of seeing a reporter that was around there saying don't put me as part of me too movement. Also, on a very sad note, his daughter passed away. So, he had to go through that. And that was just weeks ago. Burying her. She was ill, but it was still obviously very, very difficult. But he's 80 years old. And he is facing life in prison, virtually for the rest of his days. So, this is a very serious situation. But he's got Tom Mesereau as his defense lawyer out of California. Of course, Tom Mesereau getting so many celebrity clients, just out and out acquittals including Michael Jackson.

BALDWIN: Jean Casarez, thank you so much. Do not miss Jean's special report. "THE CASE AGAINST COSBY" it airs tomorrow night at 8 o'clock here on CNN.

And we are just getting news that actor and former California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has undergone heart surgery and is now in stable condition. His rep said he had planned to complete the replacement of his pulmonic valve, which was originally replaced in 1997 and only meant to last 10 to 15 years. We of course, wish him well. I'm Brooke Baldwin, have a wonderful weekend. The "LEAD" starts now.