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Pentagon Releases Report on Niger Ambush that Killed 4 U.S. Soldiers; Alleged Racial Profiling Incident at Yale University; Trump Offered McEnroe $1 Million for Tennis Match. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 10, 2018 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I have to ask you about the president's tweets. There were some today and there was a key one. And who is this troll of the day, would you say?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: So do we have -- this makes me happy. I love Internet trolling." Donald Trump goes with "Senator Crying Chuck Schumer fought hard against the bad Iran deal," basically saying Schumer is a hypocrite when it comes to Iran. Schumer goes with the #bebest. They call back, two none other than first lady, Melania Trump. Remember her campaign that announced, we need it cut down on bullying, be kind are to one another. Well done, Chuck Schumer, that is A-level trolling.

KEILAR: It's pretty wild.

Chris Cillizza, thank you for that.

CILLIZZA: Thanks.

KEILAR: Breaking news, what went wrong in Niger months after four soldiers were killed in an ambush. Today, the Pentagon revealed the findings of its extensive investigation into what exactly happened. Were these American troops on an unauthorized mission? We'll be back in a moment with that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:34:59] KEILAR: Just in, criminal charges have just been filed against a nurse in the death of the father of former national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster. McMaster's father died last month inside of a Philadelphia retirement facility. Authorities say that the elder McMaster died from blunt impact head trauma. Pennsylvania's attorney general said today that the nurse did not perform the necessary neurological checks that would have saved his life and then lied about it. And we are told that the nurse could face up to 20 years in prison.

Breaking news on what happened to four U.S. troops ambushed and killed by ISIS fighters in Niger. The Pentagon's long-awaited report was released today, citing multiple failures but no direct blame. Investigators say two junior officers falsified documents to get approval for that unsuccessful mission.

We're learning more about what happened to Sergeant LaDavid Johnson. He was one of the soldiers killed, and his remains were found later farther away from those of his comrades. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJ. GEN. ROGER CLOUTIER, U.S. AFRICAN COMAND CHIEF OF STAFF: He was never captured alive. His hands were never bound. His serviceable equipment was stripped and taken from him. But he was never in enemy hands alive. They did have access to his remains and to his equipment. That first mission was not properly characterized. It was focused on the ISIS G.S. sub commander. There were a series of contributing factors to what happened in Tongo Tongo. The direct cause of the enemy attack in Tongo Tongo was the enemy achieved tactical surprise there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: So just weeks after the October 2017 ambush in Niger, CNN's Arwa Damon visited the site of the attack where four U.S. troops lost their lives. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): October 4th may have been America's first casualties in these lands, but not Niger's. Their patrols regularly come under attack. The ground outside Tongo Tongo is littered with heavy caliber machine gun casings. We asked the soldiers we're with if they know if they're fired by American or Nigerian forces.

They can't be entirely sure because they use similar weapons, they said.

(voice-over): And there are signs of the attack everywhere.

(on camera): Oh.

That's the school we're told was burnt down in the attack. It's a single classroom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: I want to bring in CNN's David McKenzie, who was part of the first team of reporters allowed into Niger after that deadly attack months ago.

David, what stood out to you in this report?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What stood out to me, Brianna, is there are still many questions about what happened and who is at fault. They said there were many failures in the execution and the chain of command and training even before the soldiers left the U.S. for Niger. Perhaps the most serious issue touched on is there was a falsification or hastily done authorization request for a much similar, potentially less dangerous mission that it seems these Green Berets and soldiers ended up going out on. Why wasn't their aerial support and why didn't senior commanders know what was going on? Why did it take so long for them to get to the scene? We do know this is an instance where the Americans soldiers fought

bravely, fought down to the last man standing. And that LaDavid Johnson managed to get on his own steam, heavily injured most likely, and wasn't captured by those forces. They fought valiantly said the investigating officers -- Brianna?

KEILAR: And what we learned that was the senior commander, who was a lieutenant colonel in Chad, so far away from where all this was going on but still serving a very important supervisory role, was in charge of approving what the mission was. Initially, lawmakers thought that this was this unit on a training mission and that they were ambushed. It seems like that is, in large part, because that was the mission that that commander approved, that is what was OKed, not this manhunt, going after a local terrorist, right?

[14:39:39] MCKENZIE: Well, that's right. The regional commander on the ground who approved the mission, they approved a mission that the team wasn't actually on. So that is the question are these falsified or hastily drawn together documents that they put in to get approved. Now speaking to Nigerian soldiers on the ground, one of the first responders on the scene, CNN talked to him, he described much of the same details you see in that Pentagon report, that this group of soldiers was heavily outgunned, they were outmanned, and they fought bravely. The question he had at the time was, well, why do those American soldiers go out without the force protection given how they know how dangerous this border region between Niger and ISIS and al Qaeda-linked groups that operate there. After this investigation, the Pentagon has said they will give the option to soldiers for more heavily armed support on the ground, and it seemed to have curtailed these kinds of active operations for the moment and really pushing the advise-and-assist role, which is on paper they are there to supposed to do.

KEILAR: David McKenzie, thank you so much for your insight. We appreciate it.

Next, another high-profile incident of alleged racial profiling. This time on the campus of Yale University. Why did police confront a black female graduate student sleeping in a dormitory lounge? And are these incidents starting to get more attention?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:45:40] KEILAR: Yet another incident of alleged racial profiling swarming social media today. This time from the campus of Yale University. A black female graduate student was confronted by four campus police officers after a White student called to report her sleeping in a dormitory lounge. The black student recorded it and posted it on Facebook.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I have an absolute right to document what's going on. UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: You have no right to take my

picture.

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I'm not taking your picture. This is Facebook Live.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I need to go back and finish writing my paper.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Do you have your I.D. on you?

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Yes, I do.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Can I see it?

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: We got a police call about you.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: We need to make sure you belong here.

Let me open my apartment for you so you see that I belong here. I don't think there's a need for you to be here. You probably can commit her to an institution. That's the only --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: As long as we verify you're a resident here, we'll be on our way.

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: OK, great.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Are you a Yale student?

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Of course, I'm a Yale student. How else would I get in here?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Well, you have three other cops here.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: I'm a supervisor. It's going to be OK.

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I know it's going to be OK. I know I'm not going to be in trouble. My ancestors built this university.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Well, I'm not going to be harassed. UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: You're not being harassed,

ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: That's exactly what it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: CNN has made several unsuccessful attempts to try to contact the person who called the police on the graduate student.

But this incident is just the latest in high-profile racial incidents where police were called to handle a perceived threat that turned out not to be one.

Yale University said it was troubled by what happened and that it is committed to redoubling efforts to build a supportive community. It also said the student who called police was admonished.

But many say what happened at Yale and the other places is nothing new, that this happens all of the time.

And with me now is Georgetown University sociology professor, Michael Eric Dyson. He is the author of "Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon to White America."

What do you make of all these incidents? They're getting a lot of attention. This isn't new but they're now coming to a forefront.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: That's right. The Smartphone lives up to its advertisement and its billing. This has happened for a century or more. Black people have said it, but we were not believed. That couldn't have happened. The cop would never have done that without you having provocative behavior. Of course provocative behavior that when white people do it it's never leading to the kind of behavior that when black people did it. But the Smartphone is capturing it now. We're recording it. Now we have the cameras rolling. Did police act in a similar fashion to the White student who called, let me see your I.D. Where do you live? It the unquestioned legitimacy of the white woman and that leads to the kind of racial microaggressions and harassment to which she so eloquently refers.

KEILAR: What is the role of police here, the rialto, California Airbnb, three of the four women are black, a neighbor calls the police questioning if they are where they belong. The police after 20 minutes or so, it's still quite an inconvenience, or an affront. You can see from the point of view of these women. What are police supposed to do in their role when they have been called by somebody? It sounds like to you they need to be questioning the legitimacy of the call.

DYSON: Of course. You have to. Are you sure when you get a call it's not the robber, that people are not putting on a face so to speak. The uncomfortable police is the police share many of the same unconscious biases as people who call the police. There's a collective regard -- regardless of color. You saw the black policeman engage with the black woman and say you're not being harassed, yes, I am. So blue is more important than black. The biases are held by people against black people. We know right away there's a racial code that triggers the doubt and skepticism to begin with.

[14:50:14] KEILAR: Can I ask you, I don't know the stats on this, I would be curious. For police the shortcut is to take the word of someone who has said something because in general, I suspect, that they do rely a lot on people reporting and it does lead sometimes too bad behavior. How do they circumvent that, even if some of these police officers feel very much that they are being sensitive but that that's an essential part of their job to rely on those reporting, so they can ascertain if someone is a burglar or dangerous?

DYSON: That's a broader problem. It's not just what black folks do and what cops think they have done or not done. You can't go to Waffle House, you can't fall asleep, you can't sell loosies on the street, you can't sell C.D.s. You can't tell a cop in Atlanta, I have a gun, I'm letting you know, and seven seconds later he's dead. The fear and skepticism of blackness, the notion that black people themselves are illegitimate. We have the president of the United States question the man who had the job before him along these same lines. If that's been normalized, if the attack on blackness has become ritual and habit and custom and tradition, these police people are victims of the same kind of assumptions. The short cuts mean they do the thing that's quickest, but it disserves the community citizens of color who say, if you see something, say something. But it's black people. White people sitting at Starbucks don't got the cops called on them, black people do. When we challenge this, we say it's not just the fault of the police, it's the fault of the larger society that has weaponized with the consequence we are skeptical and suspicious and don't believe black people and that's part of the heinous disregard for blackness that we have to attend to.

KEILAR: Michael Eric Dyson, thank you for being with us.

DYSON: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: Just in, the president's new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, telling CNN about the prep they are not doing about a possible sit-down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Stand by for that.

And tennis legend, John McEnroe, giving details about a million-dollar deal he was once offered to play a match against Venus or Serena Williams. He said the person who made that offer was Donald Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:57:09] KEILAR: Tennis legend, John McEnroe, is speaking about a $1 million deal that he was once offered to play a match against Venus or Serena Williams. And who made that offer? None other than Donald Trump. Take a listen

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCENROE, TENNIS CHAMPION: It was after Serena and Venus said they could play against a lot of guys. I think Serena and Venus are great but I -- you're not going to sit

there and have me say I can't beat them.

I was calling a match and, suddenly, I get this envelope and it's from Donald Trump. He wrote me a letter and said, "Dear John, I want to offer you $1 million again to play either Serena or Venus."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Well, McEnroe, a former world number-one player known for his fiery attitude on the court, said he turned down the offer because he said he had no desire to play a woman. He did say at the time that he is sure he would have won.

CNN sports analyst and "USA Today" sports columnist, Christine Brennan, joins me to talk about this.

Can we talk about him saying that he was sure that he would have beaten Serena or Venus Williams? I mean, I don't think he can be so sure.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Well, he's in his late 50s, Breanna, and I don't think anyone would want to see that. But I think Serena or Venus would have pummeled him, ala Billy Jean King over Bobby Rate (ph) back in 1973. So I guess what he's referring to is his heyday. I don't know. Serena Williams is such a powerful player. We've never seen anyone quite like her. Her record speaks for itself. So I don't know if I would have taken McEnroe back in the day. Of course, wood rackets versus the much-different rackets now, there's a lot of changes. But Serena Williams would be a force to be reckoned with at any point against anyone.

KEILAR: Why do you think Trump would make this offer?

BRENNAN: And why would John McEnroe even talk about it? Every year or so, we could set our watches that McEnroe will start talking about Serena Williams. A year ago, less than a year ago, he was talking about -- remember the -- I think a lot of folks remember when he said Serena would be about the 700th man in ranking if she was on the man's circuit, 700th. He was criticized. Then he, of course, apologized. Now here he is again bringing this up. This was floating around a few years ago. Obviously, Trump is now president. That's why it's more interesting. I think it's a match made in heaven. I'm not talking about Serena and McEnroe. I'm talking about McEnroe and Trump. Those two deserve each other in terms of ego and confidence and ability to take over the airwaves. McEnroe keeps doing this every few months or every few years. I don't know why he's so obsessed with Serena. Because, frankly, do we talk about Alabama football and how they would play against, for example, the Philadelphia Eagles? In other words, a Super Bowl champ versus a college champ? No. Why is it that McEnroe, and maybe Trump, are obsessed with this notion of men playing women? I don't get it and it makes no sense in 2018 America.

KEILAR: And it could really backfire on them, as you point out.

Christine Brennan, thank you so much. BRENNAN: Thank you, Bri.