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Police Union Vote "No Confidence" in Sheriff Scott Israel; Trump, Sessions Spar Over Credibility of Justice Department. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 26, 2018 - 16:30   ET



[16:33:37] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news in the national lead now. A huge blow this afternoon to embattled Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel who faced criticism for his department's inadequate response to the Parkland High School shooting. The deputies in Sheriff Israel's own department just minutes ago voted overwhelmingly they have no confidence in his leadership abilities -- leadership abilities you might remember he bragged to me about just 11 days after the shooting.


SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY: I've given amazing leadership to this agency.

TAPPER: Amazing leadership?

ISRAEL: I work -- yes, Jake. This -- there's a lot of things we have done throughout. This is -- you don't measure a person's leadership by a deputy not going in to a -- these deputies received the training they need.

TAPPER: Maybe you measure leadership by whether or not they protect the community.


TAPPER: I want to bring in CNN's Rosa Flores in Florida.

Rosa, what does this mean and tell us about the governor of Florida responding?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the governor of Florida is responding. I'll get to that in just a moment, Jake.

But I've got to tell you that multiple deputies and the president of the union told me that that moment that you just played right now, that took a lot of deputies over the edge. And encouraged them to go forward with this vote of no confidence against Sheriff Scott Israel which the results were just tallied, 85 percent of those deputies who voted, voted for no confidence.

[16:35:10] Now, as you mentioned, the governor of Florida coming forward and saying that he's going to wait for the FDLE investigation to conclude before he goes forward, saying in a statement, quote, once that investigation is complete and we have all of the facts, the appropriate steps will be taken to hold people accountable.

Now, I should add that the president of the union has said that he plans to take this vote to the governor and ask him to remove the sheriff. Now, the governor doesn't have the power to remove the sheriff, but according to state law, the governor does have the power to suspend the sheriff and that would go to the state senate who has the power to either reinstate a sheriff or remove him.

But again, the breaking news, Jake, here, is that 85 percent of the deputies who voted, voted for no confidence -- voted no confidence for Sheriff Israel -- Jake.

TAPPER: Rosa Flores in Broward County, Florida, thank you so much.

Are the attorney general and President Trump even reading out of the same booklet alone from the same page? That's next.



[16:40:20] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it's disgrace. And our Justice Department which I try and stay away from but at some point I won't.


TAPPER: President Trump unleashed, leveling several attacks against his own FBI and his own Justice Department in an interview with "Fox & Friends" this morning, threatening it appears to potentially interfere in ongoing investigations. Hours later, however, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions had this to say.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Let me say with all the strength I can muster that no nation has a finer group of law officers than those who comprise the FBI, the DEA, the ATF and the United States Marshal Service.


TAPPER: Quite a contradiction. Joining me is now CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd who work for both the FBI and CIA.

Phil, great to have you.

I would guess that Attorney General Sessions knew exactly what he was doing. What do you think?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I agree. He knows he's in direct opposition to the president of the United States. I mean, these issues are beyond politics, beyond Republicans and Democrats. There's a profound issue here about rule of law. If you go to the third world, Jake, there is an issue that you can deal with in the third world and that's if a politician can say, because I'm powerful, I get to put my fingers on the scales of justice, I get to decide who gets looked at by federal authorities.

In this country, we have a different proposition that's above politics. You wake up in the morning, you put your pants on one leg at a time, you go to pee and if you're the dogcatcher or you're the mayor, if you get busted for speeding, you get treated the same way. The message from the president of the United States in the most significant democracy on this planet is, if I'm the president and I don't like the way I'm treated by law enforcement I get treated different than the dogcatcher.

In this country, Jake, it's not about politics. You don't get to do that and what the attorney general just said is, sorry, I'm with the people, not with the president.

TAPPER: So let me ask you, Phil. It seems to be that you interpret the president when he said he won't stay away from the Justice Department necessarily, you interpret that as President Trump saying he may fire the attorney general or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or special counsel Mueller?

MUDD: Well, it's more substantial than that. Give me a break. I mean, if you're the general manager of a football team and say the team on the field is horrible. Who's responsible for that?

The president is saying he won't stay away from the Justice Department. Who, ask me, who appointed the attorney general and the deputy attorney general? The attorney general has recused himself from the Russia investigation. The deputy attorney general has authorized -- not only authorized the investigation but offered documentation to Robert Mueller to continue the investigation. Who nominated those people? The president suggesting he doesn't have a responsibly for the team on the field. Excuse me. He appointed them.

TAPPER: Let me ask you, Phil. Earlier today, President Trump denied that he ever told then FBI Director James Comey that he didn't spend the night in Russia during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I go to Russia. Now, I didn't go there. Everybody knows, the logs are there, the planes are there. He said I didn't stay there. Of course I stayed there. I stayed there very short period of time. But of course I stayed.

Well, his memo said I left immediately. I never said that. I never said I left immediately.


TAPPER: Let me play for you what Comey told Anderson Cooper last night at a town hall about President Trump who Comey says claimed to him that he never stayed in Moscow when, of course, evidence has that the president did stay overnight there. Take a listen.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It's always significant when someone lies to you, especially about something you're not asking about, tends to reflect a consciousness of guilt as we would say in law enforcement.


TAPPER: Let me ask you. Who do you believe? Comey or the president? Do you think the president told Comey I never spent a night in Moscow?

MUDD: I do. I think we are confusing two questions. That is whether we agree with the approach former FBI Director Comey is taking to this problem.

In my judgment, he's been way too political. There's a second question whether when he wrote down the facts of the conversations with the president whether you look at somebody we would have called in the CIA as a serial fabricator, that is somebody who makes stuff up, the president of the United States, or whether you agree with a career federal prosecutor who's had to go before judges and juries.

I think Mr. Comey's approach to this problem becoming too political is inappropriate. I think his approach to the facts is far beyond what I would expect from the president of the United States. I believe Comey. I don't believe the president.

One final moment. You want to know where people don't want including the president's lawyers -- people don't want to put the president in front of prosecutors? Because the president will stand in front of Director Mueller and make stuff up.

You can do that on Twitter. You can't do that in front of a prosecutor. Comey is right, the President's wrong.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I want to ask you before you go, Phil. You speak with former colleagues at the FBI I'm sure all the time. What do they have to say about the President persistently attacking institutions like the FBI, the Justice Department and essentially in the view of many people I've talked to assaulting the entire judiciary?

MUDD: You know, you would think this is a political question, that it's about Republicans versus Democrats. I talked to my friends all the time. I talked to a few of them today. The question is about whether in a country that's divided by politics, it's divided by issues about race, that's divided about issues about red state, blue state, the question is whether you wake up in the morning, the bureaucracy in the country, that's the police, state and local police and the FBI treat you equally whether you're the president or whether you're the dogcatcher as I mentioned earlier. What the President is trying to suggest as a man responsible for leading the bureaucracy is we don't get treated equally. If you're the president, I get to say you can't investigate me and if you're the mayor or the dogcatcher, sorry, you get screwed. That's what he is telling me.

TAPPER: A lot of law enforcement officials current and former FBI officials that I know are conservative, they trend conservative. Do they -- are they rethinking their political alliances at all? Not that they're becoming Democrats but are they rethinking their political alliance at all, the ones you know who were conservative and Republican given the fact that the Republican President of the United States with very little protest from Republicans in Congress keeps attacking law enforcement?

MUDD: Let me figure out how to capture this for you, Jake. When I spent 25 years in government, people would be critical of President Obama. They would be critical of President Bush. It was a fairly benign criticism. You might hear it around the table. Why didn't President Obama intervene more aggressively in Syria? What was President Bush doing in Iraq? The conversations I hear today are different. They're not about politics. They're about a national embarrassment. When I talk to friends in the business and I also talk to colleagues and foreign intelligence and security services overseas, they look at a president who makes fun of judges, who makes fun of women, who talks about rocketman and then says this guy is an honorable man, that's Kim Jong-un and then they say how did America get to this place? It's not about political judgment, it's about people saying how did we get here?

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mudd, thank you so much for your thoughts and you time, sir. I appreciate it. It could hold the answer to fighting the opioid crisis but will the Trump administration go for it? That's next.


[16:50:00] TAPPER: In our "HEALTH LEAD" today, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is hoping to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions to legalize medical marijuana writing, "sometimes it is the only thing that works. I changed my mind and I am certain you can, as well. It is time for safe and regulated medical marijuana to be made available nationally. Joining me now is CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, always great to have you. Thank you for joining us. So I spoke with a biotech expert who told me -- because we were talking about this marijuana as a possible substitute or solution to the opioid epidemic and he said, unfortunately, it's not strong enough as a painkiller to be able to serve as a true substitute for opioids.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There are certain types of pain that it treats better than others, neuropathic pain which basically is that sort of nerve pain, pins and needles sensation that people will get in response to some sort of injury, trauma, for example. But there's something else, Jake which I found very interesting and I learned while filming this documentary and that is both opioids and cannabis interfere with pain signals, they interfere with pain signals being sent to the brain. Cannabis, in addition, seems to actually decrease inflammation, access a potent (INAUDIBLE) inflammatory which is oftentimes a source of the pain as well. The big thing, Jake, as you know, is it doesn't affect the brain stem so it doesn't cause people to stop breathing and die of overdose.

TAPPER: What would you say that those who would argue that using a drug that is still illegal on the federal level and illegal in many states to help fight drug addiction, it's problematic an maybe even doesn't make any sense?

GUPTA: Well, I would say this. This drug, cannabis, should not be illegal medicinally. It's shouldn't be illegal. I mean, the reason it is a schedule one substance, Jake, is because it has been preordained and this is a legal thing, not a medical thing, but preordained as having a high abuse potential, same as heroin or cocaine. The studies don't bear that out. It is also listed as something that has no medicinal benefit and the science doesn't bear that out.

TAPPER: And your feelings about this have been on the record for a while. And in fact, you have written an open letter to the Attorney General Jeff Sessions advocating that he allow marijuana to be used as a treatment for opioid addiction and also for pain.

GUPTA: I did and there was a couple of things I really wanted to convey. You know, first of all, these are desperate times with regard to this opioid epidemic. Tens of thousands of people continue to die and this has been going on for some time. It's the worst self- inflicted epidemic in U.S. history. We know that cannabis can have a real role here. We know that it can treat the withdrawal that people suffer from when they're trying to come off of opioids and we know that it can help heal the brain in that addict's brain disease that causes people to be unable to just say no. If you had to design something, Jake, to help lead us out of this opioid epidemic, if you had to design that substance, it probably looks very much like cannabis and you know, it's already there. It should be researched, it should be dosed properly, it should be made safe, but we, you know, these are desperate times.

[16:55:17] TAPPER: Sanjay Gupta, thank you. Don't miss Sanjay's Special Report "WEED 4, POT VS. PILLS." That's Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. It's the story all of Hollywood is buzzing about. That's next.


TAPPER: Our "POP CULTURE LEAD" is once again a shameless book promotion moment. The endorsements are rolling in for the Hellfire Club. Jake Gyllenhaal was spotted already deep into the Hellfire Club --