Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

President Trump Tweets on House Intel Report on Russia Interference; White House Medical Unit Accused of Loose Control of Medications; Bill Cosby Faces 30 Years in Prison After Sexual Assault Conviction; President Trump Continues Praise for Kanye West; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 27, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:30] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: We are just moments away from President Trump speaking at the White House. He's already had a big morning on Twitter just moments ago weighing in on the just released House Intelligence Committee report on the Russia investigation.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins, she is live at the White House with more.

Kaitlan, the president at least welcoming the Republican conclusions following this investigation.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is and welcoming it with open arms here. It did not take him long, Jim, to weigh in on this. On Twitter, he said it's just out, he was touting that they said that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but then he also goes on to say that it was the Clinton campaign who paid for opposition research obtained from Russia. "Wow, he says, "it is a total witch hunt," something he often says and says that it must end now.

Of course, Jim, we both know that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, something that has not been determined on that end yet. But here the president clearly touting this as a victory. But this certainly isn't the only thing on his mind today.

He is actually about to welcome Olympic athletes just here behind me on the north part of the White House for a celebration for them. They were just chanting, USA, USA. Any minute the president will be out there now to speak. But he also has a big day of diplomacy that's going on right now. Of course he's been tweeting all morning about that North Korea and South Korea summit, touting it as a win. But also expressing some cautious optimism here.

He was saying that it's going to be something great, expressing a word of caution, essentially saying, you know, too early to tell, there is not -- it's unclear which way that could go. Of course this comes as the president is planning a meeting right now, his own meeting with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. There he is on Twitter, he's saying after a furious year of missile testing, things have changed.

So that is something also that the president is focusing on this morning, but also more on the immediate future, he's also welcoming another world leader, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, here at the White House today, something that will come in stark contrast to the French president's arrival here. We saw the other day. He was here for essentially three days of pomp and circumstance.

And here with Merkel today, the three hours that she's here it's not going to be as chummy and friendly as that visit. Certainly this more sterner part of Europe of course that he's welcoming here to the White House today. But she will be looking to discuss the lower things that President Macron did as well. Those steel and aluminum tariffs, that Germany would like a permanent exemption for. Also the Iran deal is on the agenda because she as well wants the president to keep the United States in that deal.

But the relationship is very different than what we saw with the president and President Macron. No rubbing elbows, no white hats expected today for that visit. Certainly a less personal relationship between the two of them here -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. As the president talked about one nuclear deal, Europeans trying to rescue another.

Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks very much.

Now to a CNN exclusive. New allegations this morning against the White House medical unit headed up by Dr. Ronnie Jackson. Former and current employees are shining a new light on what they call a casual culture of dispensing prescription medication.

CNN's MJ Lee broke this story for CNN.

MJ, so what exactly are these employees alleging about Dr. Jackson?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, these are very troubling allegations about the White House medical unit. This is the clinic at the White House run by Ronny Jackson. That five former and current employees who have worked for Jackson at the medical unit tell me and my colleague Juana Summers that there is a grab-and-go culture there when it comes to medication.

White House staffers and officials could get prescription drugs without being examined by a doctor first. They could also casually pick up Ambien. This is a powerful sleeping aid, not just for themselves, but even for their children. And sometimes we're told that prescriptions were written for someone other than the person that the medication was for. And these practices we are told were all endorsed by Jackson himself.

The folks who spoke with us said the fact that the medication was handed out relatively casually meant that there was sometimes a scrambling to account for missing medications.

Now we did reach out to Ronny Jackson for the story. He did not respond. But remember when Jackson withdrew his nomination for VA secretary yesterday, he said the allegations made against him were completely false and fabricated and that he always adhere to the highest ethical standards. SCIUTTO: MJ, I know you heard about this culture from multiple people

who worked or still work in fact at the White House medical unit. What specific anecdotes do they tell? Because this is of course a wider issue in the medical community now, over prescription of prescription medications that said it is one cause of the opioid crisis. I mean, this is a real issue.

[10:35:10] LEE: That's right. Two examples I want to point out. We're told that one well-known Obama official was leaving the administration and he went to the medical unit to get some Provigil. Now the person we're told was given around 20 pills and it was treated as kind of a parting gift for that official.

A second example, one Obama White House staffer went into the clinic and demanded that he needed two Z-Paks for himself and his wife. Now this is a strong antibiotic that treat infections and one of the doctors there rejected the request and said look, you need to first get an exam because there are serious cardiac issues that can come from taking this antibiotic and that White House staffer got frustrated and he basically responded, look, Dr. Jackson said I can just pick it up and I don't need to be seen.

So they were eventually, we're told, handed the Z-Paks without an exam. So these allegations date back to the Obama administration, but some say they continued into the Trump administration as well -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: That's a key point because this is about oversight, not just of the Trump administration, but Obama. So has the White House responded specifically to these new details?

LEE: So the Trump White House has not responded when we asked for comments. And as for whether Jackson can stay in his job because I think that's an important discussion to have, we heard Trump say good things about Jackson the past few days. Even when he was really under fire. So we'll see what happens, but these headlines about Jackson are obviously very troubling.

SCIUTTO: No question. Fantastic reporting. I know you're going to be sticking with it, MJ Lee.

Well, the man who once played TV's most loveable dad now faces some 30 years in prison possibly after being found guilty of multiple counts of sexual assault.

Could Bill Cosby really spend the rest of his life behind bars?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[10:40:56] HEIDI THOMAS, COSBY ACCUSER: People are getting believed finally. The tide is shifting. And all of these stories can't be just people who are out for fame or media attention or monetary settlement. And therefore, people are beginning to say, OK, maybe I can also come forward with my story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: That was Heidi Thomas there, one of Bill Cosby's many accusers who testified at his retrial, saying how important the Me Too Movement likely was to Cosby's conviction.

So what's next now that the man who once played TV's favorite dad has been found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 14 years ago?

CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, she joins me now.

Areva, thanks very much. Just a shocking, a jarring story to deal with here. First let's talk about what happens next. So he has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault, that could be up to 30 years in prison. How likely in your view is it that he will get the maximum sentence or even any prison time?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jim, I don't think the judge is likely to give him the maximum sentence. You're right, with regards to every charge that he was convicted on, it carries a 10-year penalty. So in theory he could be facing 30 years, but I think the fact that the judge yesterday allowed him to walk out of that courtroom, did not remand him immediately to jail, gives us a sense about what this judge is likely to do when he gets to the sentencing hearing.

He'll be able to take into consideration Cosby's age, the status of his health, the philanthropic work that he's done over the last several decades, the fact that this is his first criminal conviction, all of those will be factors that the judge can take into consideration when sentencing him.

I don't expect that he'll serve probably more than five years. We know that the 30 years can be served concurrently. And the judge will have a great deal of discretion in determining what is the appropriate sentence.

SCIUTTO: Are you saying that with all those factors that you cite there that it's possible he serves no jail time?

MARTIN: I think there is going to be jail time. So I don't want to give the impression that he is going to, you know, totally walk free from this. But I don't think he is going to serve the maximum jail time. We know the maximum penalty is 10 years for each of the charges that he was convicted on for a total of 30. But the judge has discretion. And the judge doesn't have to sentence him to the maximum.

The judge can, you know, look at that 30 year sentence and say I think five years is appropriate. I think two years is appropriate. And we know his lawyers will be arguing for no jail time, perhaps House arrest. And definitely something less than the 30 years that's the maximum time period that he can serve for the charges.

SCIUTTO: How much -- how powerful, influential, was the testimony of other victims in this case here? MARTIN: Jim, I think it was a game changer. We know in the first

trial only one similar fact witness was allowed to testify. In the second trial, the prosecutors actually asked the judge to allow 19 women to testify. The judge ultimately decided that five fact witnesses, similar fact witnesses, witnesses that testified that this was a common pattern, a scheme, a plan that Cosby had, to drug women and then to sexually assault them. I think those five women telling the very similar story as Constand told was incredibly powerful for this jury.

SCIUTTO: And one just final question. We know, well reported, that there was an angry outburst from Bill Cosby during the hearing. Is that something that the judge is likely factor in to a decision about how much or if there is jail time?

MARTIN: Yes, I think the judge will. We can't overstate I think how incredible this verdict was. We have one of the most powerful men, iconic, you know, actor, philanthropist, icon in our community being convicted on very serious felony sexual assault charges. Emotions were high on both sides.

[10:45:02] Women cheering that this was a sea change in terms of how women will be treated, how women will be received when they come forward to tell their stories of sexual assault. And of course you have Bill Cosby who's facing the possibility of 30 years, who has fallen so far from what I'll call his throne. Of course he is angry, he's upset. So I think his outburst was in some ways natural.

I think the judge will take into consideration, you know, his anger level. But I don't think ultimately even that outburst will cause this judge to sentence him to the maximum 30 years. I think he'll get jail time, but I think more importantly this case will be, you know, revered by advocates, sexual assault advocates, who say finally women who tell their stories, courageous and brave women, will be believed and no longer will men like Bill Cosby, powerful, rich men be able to silence these women.

SCIUTTO: It's a great point, Areva, giving other victims voice now and confidence in their voice.

Areva Martin, thanks very much.

MARTIN: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: It is not just with the French president. President Trump has another bromance brewing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:50:36] SCIUTTO: The president's apparent and somewhat surprising bromance with the rapper Kanye West continuing today. President Trump tweeting this morning, in part, quote, "Kanye West has performed a great service to the black community. Big things are happening and eyes are being open for the first time in decades. Legacy stuff." Exclamation point.

This was after Kanye West tweeted his support of the president in a MAGA hat just two days ago. You can see it there.

W. Kamau Bell is the host of CNN's "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," he joins us now.

Kamau, you've been watching this I imagine over the last couple of days. Are there many in the black community that share Kanye's view of this, perhaps more than we realize?

(LAUGHTER)

W. KAMAU BELL, HOST, CNN'S "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": I mean, maybe there is more than we realize, but we're talking -- still talking about a very small percentage of the black community who thinks like Kanye. I think most of the black community is pretty disgusted with Kanye knowing that the big thing here is that the thing that Trump and Kanye have in common is that they both court controversy to create hype and headlines. So I just think Kanye is courting the wrong type of controversy.

SCIUTTO: Now when you look, though, at the numbers that the president is citing, do you see any truth in those numbers? He will often say look at the economy, it is improving, that it has reduced black unemployment, of course that goes back before Trump because much of the recovery happened in the Obama years. But is there any --

BELL: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Does he have an argument there is my question.

BELL: No, he does not have an argument there because none of the things that Trump has talked about -- and forget this stuff with the black community, in his presidency as a whole, he takes credit for things that he didn't do and then he announces things that aren't happening. So this is not -- this registers nowhere. In the black community, this is more of a Kanye story than it is a President Trump story.

SCIUTTO: OK. I want to get now to your show, and this is of course another issue that has been central to the Trump presidency, which is the issue of the U.S.-Mexico border. And I know you went down there to explore the feelings along the border. What did you find there?

BELL: I mean, we know a lot of the talk was about the wall and what is going to happen with that. And everybody we talked to on all sides of the issue, Border Patrol, activists, people on the streets, nobody believes the wall is a solution. Nobody believes a 30-foot wall is the solution. And because there is a real human cost that's being paid down there because of all the security. And I brought a clip here of me talking to someone about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: Today I'm back in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico to check out a place that reveals the human cost of America's immigration policy, the Kino Border Initiative. And I'm meeting with one of its leaders, Father Sean Carroll. Tell me where I'm at right now.

FATHER SEAN CARROLL, KINO BORDER INITIATIVE: So this is a place where we provide two meals a day, mostly to deportees.

BELL: This is their first sort of welcome back to Mexico?

CARROLL: It really is essentially. We provide food, clothing, financial support. This is a critical work here on the border.

BELL: Are there people who are coming here who have like been in the States for years?

CARROLL: Yes, we're seeing an increasing number of people who have been living in the United States for a long time who have been deported. In comparison to the last year.

BELL: I imagine some people they thought their life was set up there and then suddenly they are deported, and they find themselves in this room.

CARROLL: Sometimes almost overnight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Well, you see the very real effects there on families, individuals. I'm curious, when you were down there, did you find any support for the wall in surprising places?

BELL: You know what, I have to say, I mean, obviously this is not a scientific study, but nobody, even Border Patrol, was like we have a lot of technology down here, we need to hire more people, there is a debate about whether that is true or not, but nobody was like yes, a wall will help. Because there is not a belief that a wall can be tall enough to stop the flow of crime over the border or to stop migrants from coming over the border. I don't think anybody has that belief.

SCIUTTO: W. Kamau Bell, thanks very much. It's a great series. Please be sure to tune in on all new season of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," the Emmy-winning "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," I should say, premiering this Sunday right after "PARTS UNKNOWN" at 10:15 p.m. Eastern Time only on CNN.

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:59:16] SCIUTTO: The president just moments ago addressed the latest on talks between North and South Korea. Let's have a listen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My gratitude goes out to South Korea, my real warm feeling for President Moon for being such a gracious host to our delegation.

On the occasion of this week's meeting between President Moon and Kim Jong-un, I want to express my hope that all of the people of Korea, North Korea and South, can someday live in harmony, prosperity and peace. And it looks like it could happen.

When I began, people were saying that was an impossibility. They said there were two alternatives, let them have what they have or go to war. And now we have a much better alternative than anybody thought even possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: That was President Trump there welcoming Olympians at the White House and the possibility of peace on the Korean peninsula.

Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm Jim Sciutto.