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President to Revoke More Security Clearances; Deaths of a Mother and Her Two Daughters; Opioid Crisis. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired August 18, 2018 - 08:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Good Saturday morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: And I'm Christi Paul. Always grateful to have you with us. This morning, new jabs in the fight over security clearance. The President, defiant, threatening to strip a DOJ official's clearance soon. This is 60 former CIA officials are condemning his decision to revoke former Director John Brennan's clearance. Brennan's take -- well, here he is.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: He's drunk on power. He really is. And I think he is abusing the powers of that office. I think right now this country is in a crisis in terms of what Mr. Trump has done and is liable to do.


BLACKWELL: Well, what is critical to understand here, the people who could lose their clearance next, all of them, have either been publicly critical of the President or are tied to the Russia investigation in some way.

PAUL: And The Washington Post is reporting documents to strip their clearance are ready for the President to sign. We'll begin this hour with CNN's Sarah Westwood. She's in New Jersey where the President is staying this weekend.

Sarah, what are you learning about what is ahead in terms of security clearances?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, President Trump, he's facing that growing backlash to his decision to target Former CIA Director John Brennan. Former intelligence officials are speaking out against the President this might set as the White House is struggling to explain the reasoning behind that decision.

And this is coming as The Washington Post is reporting, like you mentioned, that the President is considering stripping the security clearances of at least nine other officials who are connected in various ways to the Russia investigation.

Now, 60 ex-CIA officials have spoken out against the President's decision to target Brennan, saying in a statement, "All of us believe it is critical to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure. But we believe equally strongly that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues, without fear of being punished for doing so. The country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views."

Now, notably, many of the former intel officials who are speaking up for Brennan are not necessarily agreeing with the way that he's gone after President Trump, but they all agree on his right to do so.

Some of the names potentially on Trump's list for revoking those additional security clearances include Director of National Intelligence under Obama, James Clapper, and Former FBI Director James Comey, and one current official, Bruce Ohr. He's a name who has come up more as Congressional Republicans and even Trump himself has scrutinized his ties to the opposition research firm hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: But President Trump says that he's received a tremendous response for revoking Former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance, and he expects that he will revoke more. Tremendous response based on condemnation from dozens of former intelligence officers, the embarrassment expressed by the admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Rejection and support from members of Congress. Yes, tremendous response. That's clear. But what the administration has not been clear about is why the President did it. I want you to listen to the conflicting justifications from the Press Secretary and from her boss, the President.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I say it, I say it again. That whole situation is a rigged witch-hunt.


BLACKWELL: Makes sense? Well, this is not new. It's not even the first time it's happened this week. After former staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman said that she heard a recording of the President using the "N" word multiple times, the President tweeted, "There are no tapes. I don't have that word in my vocabulary." The very next day, Sanders said that she could not guarantee that there is no tape. And they say Omarosa is not credible. And you can understand why Sanders created some daylight between

herself and the President. She's given full throated endorsements to his claims in the past that have turned out not to be true. Many times. According to The Washington Post Fact Checker blog, the President has made 4,229 false claims or misleading claims while in office. On average, that's more than seven a day.

Let's now bring in our guest, Michael Williams. He is State Senator here in the State of Georgia. And we're appreciative of you coming back to the show.

SEN. MICHAEL WILLIAMS (R), GEORGIA: It's a pleasure being here.

BLACKWELL: So let's first start with this concept of the President, the administration saying that Omarosa is not credible. I want you to watch this series of statements over the last year-and-a-half from the administration.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't it true that the President had already decided to fire James Comey and he asked the Justice Department to put together the rationale for that firing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump made the right decision at the right time to accept the recommendations.

TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he didn't have anything to do with the statement that Don Junior put out that was being worked on with the state (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't involved in the statement drafting at all nor was the President.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President weighed in as a father. He did not dictate the statement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President did dictate a short but accurate response in "New York Times" article on behalf of his son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Congresswoman stood up and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that, and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building. And she sat down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured. So that's a lie. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Summarized, the allegations against Rob Porter are serious and deeply troubling. They were investigated as part of the background check as this process is meant for such allegations. Not completed, and Rob Porter had since resigned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March and then a completed background investigation in late July.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were asked whether the President knew about this payment that the long-term lawyer made to facilitate a rather (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no knowledge of any payments from the President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) law firm and the President repaid it. Oh, I didn't know that he did.



BLACKWELL: So, Senator, after all of that, I mean, how does this administration have the authority to say someone else is not credible?

WILLIAMS: Well, first of all, he is the President of the United States. The people of this country elected him to do what he is doing right now. And he is shaking up Washington D.C. He's draining that swamp. And what we're seeing is a lot of backlash from that.

Is there -- are there some personal issues that he may have? Sure, he's a human just like you and I. But he's doing what the people want, and that's the positive response he's getting.

BLACKWELL: When you say personal issues, is that personal problems with the truth? Because what we've just watched was a series over a year-and-a-half of the President saying one thing, the administration saying something else, and then the truth coming out later.

WILLIAMS: No, he doesn't have a problem with the truth. He goes out there and he does what he feels like is right for our country. He does what -- again, the American people elected him to do which is -- because he's set to drain the swamp. It has nothing to do with the truth. And if you will, I --


BLACKWELL: Everything -- let me step in here. Because everything has something to do with the truth. I mean, for you to say, if he doesn't have a problem with the truth, he is doing what the country elected him to do, as if those things are mutually exclusive.

WILLIAMS: No, they're not. He -- OK. Let's go back to all the criticism that you guys listed out, the ex-CIA director having his security clearance revoked. BLACKWELL: Yes.

WILLIAMS: They're attacking him. The political elite are attacking him from doing that. The people -- the American people were fine with that. And why are they politically attacking President Trump? Because it's affecting their wallet, their pocketbook. The people that are having these high clearances after they leave government service, they get paid a lot of money to be on advisory boards and councils and all kinds of stuff to help private companies with the information they have.

BLACKWELL: Well, first, I find it interesting that a state senator and candidate for governor is sitting across from me and putting himself outside of the political elite.


BLACKWELL: But let me go back to the heart of your question here because the reporting from The Washington Post is that they have now prepared documents for the President to sign to revoke more security clearances, and they're just waiting for the optimum time to use them as distractions.

Does that not hollow out the entire premise if they believe there are things men and women are abusing their privilege of having this and putting national secrets in jeopardy? Why wait? If it's a problem, do it today.

WILLIAMS: If it's a problem, definitely do it today. Do I know why they're going to wait? I don't know why. But to say that The Washington Post says that and just to believe as being critical when they have always been against the President, I can't take that as a valid source.

BLACKWELL: Do you believe that the press is the enemy of the people?

WILLIAMS: I believe the press is conflicted right now. I believe that the press has a responsibility to make a profit to make money and also a desire to report. And when you look at the various news channels out there, there's Fox, there's CNN, they are presenting information that goes out to their base so they can get to get clicks and eyeballs. And they are more concerned about making money than about delivering real news.

BLACKWELL: OK. So you believe that this conversation we're having right now is just fake news?

WILLIAMS: No, I didn't say that. I didn't say that.

BLACKWELL: OK. So tell me what -- under the concept of the President's attack on the media, you -- I've asked you if you believe that the media is the enemy of the people.

WILLIAMS: Well, let me -- let me ask you this question. You all --

BLACKWELL: This typically isn't how this work. I ask the question, you give the answers. We both have --


WILLIAMS: OK. I'll answer that question by saying --


WILLIAMS: -- why has the President not talked about how Facebook and Apple and several of these media companies have stripped Alex Jones?

BLACKWELL: I feel like -- Oliver Darcy has been on this story for CNN and has been doing it online and on television. And I see you read the President's speech this morning. So we have indeed talked about it.

Let me go to this. I want to talk about Omarosa and this book. She claims that she has heard the President use the "N" word on recording multiple times. The President said he hasn't. The White House says we can't say one way or the other. But you can't guarantee if there is no recording. Would it matter to you if we had?

WILLIAMS: Yes, it would matter. It would matter as an individual. It would not necessarily matter to me as a person that is running our country. The reason I separate those two is how. I thought --


WILLIAMS: He has his personal beliefs, his personal ideas. What I truly believe, he is able to separate those from how he is running the country.

BLACKWELL: So you say this is an important point here --


BLACKWELL: -- for you as a man, Donald Trump using the "N" word, you personally would have a problem with that?


BLACKWELL: But you don't have a problem with the Office of the President using the "N" word.

WILLIAMS: He did not use the "N" as the Office of the President. In that Office, he used it outside his personal life.


WILLIAMS: If he was President and he goes on TV and use the "N" word, yes, I would have a major problem with that. But he did it before he was President.

BLACKWELL: So -- wait a minute. He did it before he's President. So it's OK?

WILLIAMS: It -- no. I never said it was OK. Again, it's always wrong for me individually. BLACKWELL: Yes. But --

WILLIAMS: But as the President --

BLACKWELL: What is the distinction you're creating here with the "N" word that there is one situation in which I have a problem with it, but there is another one that it's OK?

WILLIAMS: No. No. I always have a problem with the use of it.


WILLIAMS: I don't have a problem with Donald Trump having used it in the past as my President. I would always say using the "N" word is wrong, is bad, and should never be accepted in our society. But just because he may have done it years ago, not as our President, doesn't mean that we need to continue to berate him because he used it.

And also, let's go back in time. How old is Donald Trump? 70-years- old?


WILLIAMS: 72. 60, 50 years ago, we were not in a society that we are in now where people freely used that word. Not that is good --

BLACKWELL: We are not talking about 16-year-old Donald Trump where he's using the "N" word. We're talking now potentially a 55, 50, 65- year-old Donald Trump using the word.

WILLIAMS: Do you know how old he is when he uses it?

BLACKWELL: I don't know how old he is --



BLACKWELL: -- but my question is, why does it matter to you?

WILLIAMS: -- we can't say --


BLACKWELL: -- this is not where I expected this conversation to go, Senator. So let me -- I do want to go to military. But the idea that I have a state official sitting across from me saying right now that I'm OK with my President having used it because it happened before he was in office. Tell me if I'm getting this wrong.

WILLIAMS: To be clear, to be clear, personally, it is always wrong. It's always wrong to use that word. But as a President today, he has not used that word. As a President today, he has not done that. To hold somebody accountable for something he did years ago as our President today, I think it sets a bad precedent. BLACKWELL: So if the tape comes out, your defense is to hold him

accountable today for what he said when he was a television host is a bad precedent?

WILLIAMS: I think you can say it for a lot of things, yeah.

BLACKWELL: OK. We're going to put a comma there at that conversation. I've got to get to other things here. But that's an important distinction you created right there.

Let me talk now about this military parade. The President is married to the idea of having this grand gesture. Right? Do you support the idea of this parade?


BLACKWELL: OK. Tell me why.

WILLIAMS: One of -- again, Donald Trump's campaign platforms was to make America great again, to bring back American exceptionalism, to take pride in our country. And this is just one of those ways that he wants to do that because not only are we the economic capital of the world, we're also the military power of the world. And let's celebrate that, let's embrace that. Let's not abuse it --


WILLIAMS: -- but let's accept it, embrace it and show the world that we are --

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you this. The President is at Bedminster. This is the -- and let's put up the numbers -- the 148th day that the President is at one of his golf properties -- not the restaurants, not the other ones, he's at one of his golf properties. He's been in office for about 575 days I believe it is.

More than a quarter of his presidency he spent at a Trump golf property. Not one day with the troops in Afghanistan. If he wants to make some grand gesture, why not as President, go and speak -- he's a wartime President. Why not go and speak to his troops at war?

WILLIAMS: I'm not going to sit here and second guess why the President hasn't gone and spoken to the troops while he's playing golf. I don't know the answer to that. What I do know is that he truly loves this country. He truly loves those people, those men and women that are out there fighting for our country.

BLACKWELL: Then why not go and thank them face-to-face?

WILLIAMS: Well, he's doing that by giving them pay raises, by trying to put more money in the budget. But do you think they would prefer him to go out there to Afghanistan and say, "Hey, guys, I appreciate what you're doing?" or "Let me fight for you in Congress so that I can give you more money so you can just take care of your family, your kids and your wife?"

BLACKWELL: Let's just be clear that this President although he did --


BLACKWELL: -- sign into law a pay raise for the military --


BLACKWELL: -- it's not the first. It's been going on for decades.

WILLIAMS: I never said it was the first --




WILLIAMS: But he's out there fighting for --


BLACKWELL: You put pay raise, you put that feather in his cap as if it makes him unique. This President is unique in the case that it's now been 575 days of his administration, and this wartime President has not gone to speak with his troops in the arena there in Afghanistan. But he's got time to go and play golf for one -- or go to his golf properties 148 days of a 575-day administration.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Also, Donald Trump is a business guy. And to be an effective business guy, you have to delegate. The CEO of a multi- billion dollar company cannot do everything. He cannot be the person that does every single task. He has people in leadership in the military he respects, that he honors, that -- again that he hand- chosen, going out there and doing that. And again, he is fighting for what he feels like is most important. That's making sure they have money to take care of their family.

BLACKWELL: He's the Commander-in-Chief.


BLACKWELL: He's the Commander-in-Chief. You can't delegate that.

WILLIAMS: He's not delegating the Commander-in-Chief. He is delegating who is talking to the troops while he's back at home fighting for their livelihood.

BLACKWELL: OK. State Senator Michael Williams, always good to have you on the show.

WILLIAMS: It's a pleasure. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you so much.

PAUL: Breaking news right now, Kofi Annan, Former U.N. Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize winner, has died. He's 80 years old, a diplomat from Ghana. He served in the U.N.'s top post from 1997 to 2006. He worked tirelessly for human rights.

The current Secretary General released this statement, "Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good. It's with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. His legacy will remain a true inspiration for all of us." His family said Annan passed away peacefully after a short illness. He was surrounded by his wife, his sweet children. They were by his side during his final days.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo under fire for saying "America was never great." So now he is walking that remark back, understandably. We'll discuss the political fallout with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. She'd join in a second.

PAUL: Also we have some new disturbing details we're learning regarding the deaths of a pregnant woman in Colorado and her two young daughters.


PAUL: With new detail for you this morning regarding the deaths of a pregnant woman and her daughters in Colorado. But let's listen here first to one of those little girls singing about her father.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daddy is a hero. He helps me grow up strong.


BLACKWELL: Hmm. Her dad, Chris Watts, is the prime suspect and is accused of killing his wife Shanann and the daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste. Watts has not been charged, but prosecutors are expected to file those charges in the coming days. And we have new information coming from court documents. And we'll share that with you in a moment. But listen to what CNN's Randi Kaye has learned about the family.


SHANANN WATTS, MURDERED MOTHER (voice-over): Guess what, girls? Mommy has a baby in her belly.



RANDI KAYE, REPORTER, CNN NEW YORK: A moment of joy that's turned to pain and mystery. That was Shanann Watts telling her two daughters that she was pregnant again. 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste were thrilled.


SHANANN WATTS: I love you, girls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll give the baby a hug.

SHANANN WATTS: You're going to give the baby a hug?


KAYE (voice-over): There is also a video of her sharing the news with her husband of nearly six years, Chris Watts.


CHRIS WATTS, HUSBAND OF MURDERED MOTHER: That's awesome. I guess -- I guess when you want to, it happens.


KAYE (voice-over): But not long after that video was taken, something terrible happened. On Monday of this week, Shanann and her daughters went missing. Then came Tuesday. And Shanann's husband, Chris, began a series of public pleas for their safe return.


CHRIS WATTS: Just come back. Like, if somebody has her, just please bring her back. I need to see everybody. I need to see everybody again. This house is not complete without everybody here. I just want them back. I just want them to come back. And if they're not safe right now, that's what's -- that's what's tearing me apart.


KAYE (voice-over): Authorities searched the home and canvassed the neighborhood. Two days later, a grisly discovery.


JOHN CAMPER, DIRECTOR, COLORADO BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: We have been able to recover a body that we're quite certain it was Shanann Watts's body.


KAYE (voice-over): Authorities say the woman's body was recovered on the property of a petroleum and natural gas exploration company where Chris Watts used to work. The bodies of two children were found nearby. Then another bizarre turn. The desperate husband and father, who had pleaded for his family's safe return, was now suddenly the prime suspect in their disappearance.


SGT. IAN ALBERT, FREDERICK, COLORADO POLICE: In the late hours of Wednesday evening, the husband, Chris Watts, was taken into custody and was transported to the Weld County Jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE (voice-over): He has yet to be officially charged. But police say

Chris Watts faces three counts of first degree murder and three counts of tampering with a human body.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like, no -- like, he wouldn't do anything. And then I see his interview, and I was like, "Oh my God." Like, "something's not right."


KAYE (voice-over): On Facebook, with emotions running high, Shanann's brother directly accused Chris Watts. This piece of blank, "May he rot in hell. He killed my pregnant sister and my two nieces." Police have not suggested a motive. Before his arrest, Watts told reporters that he and his wife had exchanged words.


CHRIS WATTS: (INAUDIBLE) conversation. But I'll leave it at that.


KAYE (voice-over): Still, on Shanann's Facebook page, a portrait of a happy family and a woman in love.


SHANANN WATTS: I got a friend request from Chris on Facebook. I was like, "Ah, what the heck? I'm never going to meet him." I accept. But one thing led to another. And eight years later, we have two kids, we live in Colorado, and he is the best thing that has ever happened to me.


KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

BLACKWELL: Well, new court document suggests some of the victims may have been strangled.

PAUL: And surely before autopsies were conducted on the girls and her mother, Chris Watts's attorney requested DNA swabs be taken around the girls' necks and under the mother's fingernails. So later this morning , we're going to be talking with you at (INAUDIBLE) about this case and what those might be telling her.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is walking back his remarks that America was never great. The comments set off a lot of criticism around Washington and around the country. But will it affect voters at the polls in November there in New York and potentially in 2020 across the country?

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joins us ahead.


PAUL: Well, good morning. 32 minutes past the hour. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's good to be with you this morning. The Paul Manafort jury will return on Monday after ending a second day of deliberations without a verdict. And the President, he chimed in, calling Manafort a very good person and this trial, "very sad."

PAUL: And Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax evasions, bank fraud, hiding foreign bank accounts, and he's facing up to 305 years in prison if convicted on all of those charges.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is with us here to discuss.

So good to have you here, Atlanta Mayor.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), MAYOR, ATLANTA: Thank you for having me.

PAUL: Thank you. So -- you're, of course, an attorney. Do you get the sense that the President should be weighing in on this at all, seeing the fact that the jurors are in deliberation mode at this point?

BOTTOMS: It's America. So we should all have a right to weigh in. I don't think that he's correct. But he certainly has a right to express his opinion. But I think at the end of the day, who knows what a jury is thinking and what they are deliberating. You don't know if you have one person who's holding out or if you have six people. And so I think we just have to wait until the verdict. But I don't think the President really has any insight into what this jury will do any more than any of us.

PAUL: So you don't see the President's words as tampering in anyway?

BOTTOMS: I don't see them as tampering. I think he is expressing an opinion. And if the jury is truly doing its job, then it's not listening to the President and watching the news.

BLACKWELL: So you are a Democrat. Let's have a conversation about broader democratic politics. We're, of course, in mid-term season. There are many candidates for the House who are saying potentially that they are not going to vote for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker if Democrats take it back. And we've heard this from the Democrat from Connecticut, Jim Himes. Let's watch.


REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: I'm a huge admirer of Nancy Pelosi's operational ability. The fact that our top three leaders are in their late 70s, I don't care who those leaders are, that is in fact a problem. It is a problem because of course we are at a moment in time where young people are involved as they never have been before. These are the Parkland students getting young people involved.

And I don't care how good you are. There is a generational gap. And so -- again, you can ask me for a yes/no answer for what happens four months from now. But very clearly, that -- soon, the Democratic Party is going to need to get some faces and some people who can speak to people in their 40s to people in their 20s. No doubt about it.


BLACKWELL: For a member of Congress to be calling out the top-three -- I mean, you've got Nancy Pelosi, Jim Clyburn, Steny Hoyer, all in their late-70s, calling them out solely for their -- because of their age or do you think he has a point, that you need some fresh blood at the top?

BOTTOMS: I think I'd much rather have a conversation on what our issues are and not about someone's age. I think it's completely unfair to say that someone is unfit to lead simply because they are 70. But what I would say is that it's an opportunity for us to look at our leadership across the board. I think that we do have solid leadership, but I think certainly all voices need to be reflected. But I don't think someone's age stops them from reflecting the voice and the will of the people in the party.

PAUL: Just that wanting to talk about issues. There was an issue that popped up this week with Governor Andrew Cuomo where he said that -- and he says later that it was in an artful expression Wednesday when he said that America was never that great. Of course, he was talking about the campaign slogan of President Trump.

But let's listen here to how he's trying to clear that up now.


ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK (voice-over): I want to be very clear. Of course, America is great, and of course, America has always been great. No one questions that. As you know, my family is evidence of American greatness.


PAUL: OK. So the thing is, the President's slogan was "Let's make America great again," implying that America wasn't great in the first place. Is it not the same argument? Is it -- is it fair for the President to slam the governor in this case?

BOTTOMS: I think that it would be disingenuous to say that America has had some moments that have not been that great.

That being said, we are still the greatest country in the world. But if you look at our history as it relates to slavery, as it relates to our struggles with civil rights, as you even look at moments that we are experiencing with this President, we've had some moments in our country's history that we should not be proud of.

But that is what a democracy is all about. And there is no country on this earth that has a stronger democracy and a stronger opportunity for us to correct when we are wrong than this country.


PAUL: I'm sorry, I guess we're running out of time. I have to get to one other question. It's not just about Georgia, but it's about the nation. 72,000 deaths in the opioid

crisis. Georgia, apparently, is leading the way to a sense, while numbers are 14% nationally, 16% increase in deaths in Georgia last year. What is Georgia doing? What is the plan to try to combat this?

BOTTOMS: There really is a comprehensive effort in this state, and we are very fortunate in Georgia and that we are the home to the CDC in Atlanta. But we are still dealing with addiction on any number of levels. Not just the opioid crisis, but in many of our cities, we are still dealing with a crack epidemic.

So drug addiction in this country and the way that we address it with criminal justice reform and with health services and mental health services, it really has to be -- will continue to be a comprehensive approach.

PAUL: All righty.

BLACKWELL: That's Keisha Lance Bottoms. Thanks so much.

PAUL: Thank you for being here.

BOTTOMS: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: All right. President Trump is going after drug makers, ordering Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sue some opioid manufacturers. Coming up, Dr. Sanjay Gupta gets his -- joining us with his medical opinion on the move and whether it will help end America's battle with addiction.


PAUL: Well, President Trump has asked the Justice Department to file lawsuits against the makers of opioids that have contributed, of course, to the nation's opioid crisis. Now, this is just one of many efforts federal and state governments are taking to combat addiction.

Earlier I spoke with CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the ways America is combating this crisis.


PAUL: So, doctors in several states, I know Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, they're limiting opioids due to the CDC --


PAUL: -- restrictions. But that could have some harmful effects on people who really need it. Could it not?

GUPTA: Yeah. I think that's the real balance. And I saw these CDC recommendations from the beginning. And they were recommendation, first of all. There's no law here that says doctors can only prescribe certain things.

And in fact, if you look at the first page, it says it's for primary care doctors who are prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, outside of palliative care, outside of end- of-life care. So it's -- certain patients, they realize or just going to have a probably a more likely demand for opioids. But yeah, this is the balance, Christi, is there are people who really need these medications probably.

PAUL: How badly do they suffer without them?

GUPTA: If someone has become dependent on opioids for pain and they've been taking them long-term, at that point, they need them, they've also become dependent on them. So it's -- it would be really hard to sort of taper those patients down, especially when they don't have good alternatives for their pain. That's one of the big concerns.

I will tell you -- and I think it's worth pointing out that we still take 80 to 90 percent of the world's opioids in this country. We're not even five percent of the world's population. My point is this. It's not that people don't need these medications. It's that the rest of the world has figured out a way to take lot less -- and people presume they have seen pain issues and issues all over the world.

So why do we get --

PAUL: We could treat it differently --


GUPTA: Treat it differently.

PAUL: -- better?

GUPTA: Different -- different ways of treating pain, non-opioid based ways of treating pain. You have emergency rooms that are completely opioid-free emergency rooms. They don't --


PAUL: In other countries.

GUPTA: In other countries and even one now here in the United States. And they figured out ways to say, look, someone comes in with a broken hip, for example. Can you give injections into that area to basically decrease the inflammation as opposed to immediately starting to take pills that affect the whole body? I'm not saying that's going to be the answer for anybody.

PAUL: Sure.

GUPTA: My point is we have not innovated with regard to pain hardly at all in this country because opioids have just been the answer for everything.

PAUL: But that's a strange thinking about the medical advances and the resources that are available in this country.

GUPTA: Right.

PAUL: Why have those alternatives not expanded do you think?

GUPTA: Well, look -- I mean, Christi, this is a -- it's almost a philosophical question to some extent. I think -- and it goes without saying, this is a huge business we're talking about. There's not a lot of incentives to change something that's a huge business where you have 80 to 90 percent of the world's supply coming into this country. So it's not to be patronizing to researchers who did good work out there, but morphing these opioid-based medications have been the answer for decades now.

PAUL: So I wanted to ask you about President Trump this week asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sue companies who produce opioids. Is that an answer to trying to combat the crisis?

GUPTA: I would say that it's not an answer. But I think it's become a little bit of -- it's become necessary at the state level. There's 27 states that have already done this. Right? They've already suing these manufacturers, and now the federal government is saying they may join some of those lawsuits and do one of their own.

I think that for some time, you've had certain companies that have been out there giving information that we now know was false. And that false information has probably created this culture of opioid use. And that was the intent. It's a big company. That's what they're trying to do. But --

PAUL: They're telling us not --


GUPTA: They're trying to make money. So if they behave badly, if there were actual laws broken in terms of the false information being given, the way that these drugs were distributed, the way that they paid people to promote them, whatever it may be, those are probably authentic lawsuits.

PAUL: So there is a -- yes. So there is a place where a lawsuit would be beneficial and legitimate?

GUPTA: I think so. I mean, I'm not a lawyer, but I think that if you look at what they're specifically they're suing on, you can look at the evidence and say, well, yeah, there's a lot of those things seem to have happened.

PAUL: So if Sessions came to you, let's say, and said how do I determine what to pursue here and what not to pursue -- look, I -- from a medical perspective, would you give him about looking at these companies and making that determination?

GUPTA: Well, I'm a forward-looking guy. So I think that if the effect of a lawsuit is to really help address the current problem, then I would focus on that with the Attorney General, saying, what are going to be the guarantees now going forward that we're not going to still be in the situation where companies are shipping tens of thousands of pills to a community of 5,000 people? Why were they doing that? What did they think was going to happen there?" Those types of things have to stop.

In terms of the punitive part of it, I don't know. I think that's going to be a question probably for the lawyers to decide. But clearly, there's been hundreds of billions of dollars made on these drugs, and people have lost their lives as a result of it.

PAUL: All right. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.

GUPTA: Yeah. Thank you.


BLACKWELL: Up next, ICE agents arrest a man on his way to the hospital for the birth of his son. And his wife had to drive herself the rest of the way.


PAUL: Well, a new baby boy is without his dad today. ICE agents hauled him away, the father, as the family was headed to the hospital where the mother was scheduled for a C-section.

BLACKWELL: And the mother says she does not know what to do now because Chris Holmstrom -- actually Chris Holmstrom with CNN affiliate KCAL, KCBS, he's the reporter who has more for us.


CHRIS HOLMSTROM, KCAL-KCBS REPORTER (voice-over): Maria Del Carmen Venegas holding back the tears.


HOLMSTROM (voice-over): She says she's doing bad at this moment. And that's when you most need your husband.

The mother of five just gave birth two days ago. The same day her husband, Joel Arrona, was detained by ICE agents. It was Wednesday afternoon. Venegas was on the way to the hospital with her husband. She was heading there for a pre-planned C- section. Surveillance video shows them at the gas station when two cars surround her vehicle. She says they were ICE agents.

VENEGAS (foreign language): (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMSTROM (voice-over): She says they asked for her ID. So she got her ID and gave it to them. And then they asked about her husband's ID. She says he doesn't have his, but we live pretty close and we can get it if you need it. She says that's when agents had him step out of the vehicle to check for weapons. When he got out, they put him into custody. You could see Venegas was hysterical and had no idea what was going


VENEGAS (foreign language): (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMSTROM (voice-over): She says her husband has no criminal history and that police have never stopped him, he's never had a ticket.

Venegas was forced to drive herself to the hospital. Shortly after, she gave birth to her baby boy. While he is physically OK, this mother is living a nightmare.

VENEGAS (foreign language): (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMSTROM (voice-over): She says, my husband needs to be here. He had to wait for his son for so long, and someone just took him away.


BLACKWELL: The family is working to get an attorney, but ICE has not yet commented on the incident.

PAUL: We're back with the CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.


PAUL: Well, it is just about nine o'clock, and we're so glad to see you. (INAUDIBLE) can we take a well-deserved break --



PAUL: -- you get another hour.

BLACKWELL: Five hours back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now. This morning, the feud over security clearances is escalating. Ex-CIA Director John Brennan firing back at President Trump after the President threatened to strip a DOJ official's clearance very quickly.


BRENNAN: He really is. And I think he is abusing the powers of that office. I think right now this country is in a crisis.