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Melania Trump Talks Cyberbullying as Trump Tweets; Fallout from Trump's Yanking John Brennan's Security Clearance; Pope Francis Speaks Out on Sexual Abuse by Priests in Pennsylvania; Day 3 of Jury Deliberations in Manafort Trial. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 20, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The guy on CBS is -- what a lowlife. What a lowlife. But there's no talent. They're not like talented people.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Those are the spoken words. But there's, of course, the online behavior. How about the frequent Twitter tongue lashings, including the one where he most recently labeled former advisor, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a low life and a dog?

CNN White House correspondent, Kate Bennett, is with us from the first lady's event in Maryland. We are joined by CNN contributor and author of the book, "First Women, Kate Anderson Brower.

Kate Bennett, it's almost impossible to ignore what we have seen. I know the first lady addressed it in the past. How is she addressing it today that she's promoting this initiative and teaching kids about behavior online while the very large elephant in the room is looming?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is a very independent -- we have seen this very independent first lady. We have to acknowledge the split screen marriage happening in the White House with this first couple. The first lady's spokeswoman said to me this morning, this is the first lady aware of the criticism. She will go forward anyway. I think with Melania Trump, she takes it right up to the line. Is she doing this because of her husband? Is she doing it in spite of him? Is she not thinking about him at all when she addresses this? I think it might be the third, the latter thing. She's not considering it at all. All of us are. However, she's moving forward with this initiative about cyberbullying.

It was strange and ironic to be in the room as I was watching the first lady, meantime looking at my phone and seeing the president tweet calling a name that John Brennan the worst CIA director in history. This example is happening while this discussion is ongoing. You can't help but sort of link the two. It's inevitable. The first lady again is moving forward. She does not want to be judged by her husband. She's more saying, don't do this. Do this instead.

HILL: Kate Anderson, does that help or hurt her in terms of how effective her messaging it?

KATE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: She's got a higher approval rating by her husband by far. In some ways I think people like and respect that she's diverging from him. As Kate says, there are obvious charges of hypocrisy. She takes it right up to the line of disagreeing with him, not only today but you saw her coming out in support of LeBron James, going down to the border. Almost veiled messages today. One thing she said was face it, most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults. You can't hear that and think, maybe, this is a message for her husband. We don't know. It leads to speculation about, she's very smart. She's aware of how hypocritical this can seem. She's asked her husband to tone down the tweeting. It hasn't worked. How does she justify what she's doing now given the reality of her mother and who she is married to?

HILL: Kate Bennett, you have had reporting on this. There's not a move the first lady makes that isn't thought out in advance. She knows what she's doing. There was an interesting profile in the :New York Times" which made the point that the president's lack of support for the first lady's initiative in terms of Be Best, he is not, Kate Bennett, cheerleading this move in a way we may have seen from other presidents in terms of other first ladies and their platforms.

BENNETT: I mean, I think he has supported her. He was in the front row when she kicked off her initiative in May. During the speech today, during this conference, he tweeted seven times, none of which were about his wife or her event. They were about other things. In practice and in theory, there are two different things. I think this is a president -- when people say she should start at homed or she should control him. I don't know if that's her position. I think she has tried. She said, I tried to tell him not to tweet. He knows the consequences. I think there's a bit of unfairness to expect she's going to stop him. Therefore, she shouldn't do this if she can't. At the same time, I don't see the president -- we don't feel him fully getting behind her and supporting her, one of those seven tweets this morning, while this conference was ongoing could have been so proud as she attends this bullying and promotes Be Best, we all think that. It didn't happen. I don't think she's expecting it. I don't think it's going to prevent or motivate her. This is what we're going to see moving forward.

[11:34:33] HILL: She's her own woman. A lot of women around the country are cheerleading that.

Kate Bennett, Kate Anderson Brower, really appreciate you both being with us. Thank you.

Coming up, fallout from the president's move to yank the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. More than 175 former U.S. officials now joining a list of people slamming the president's decision. More on that next.


HILL: The number of current and former U.S. officials denouncing President Trump for revoking John Brennan's security clearance continues to grow. And 175 people who worked with intelligence agencies, the State Department, National Security Council and the Pentagon, have added their names to the list, joining 75 former CIA officials who put out similar statements last week.

Brennan, the former CIA director, turned a fierce critic of President Trump, going so far as to call the president's actions with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki treasonous. Brennan says he's willing to take Trump to court over the lost clearance.


[11:40:07] JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I will do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future. If it means going to court, I will do that.


HILL: This morning, on Twitter, President Trump basically saying, bring it on. Adding that Brennan won't sue because he was, quote, "the worst CIA director ever and was involved in the Mueller probe."

Critics say the president's move against Brennan reeks of Richard Nixon and his enemies list. Among those critics, former "New York Times" reporter, Tim Weiner, who had an op-ed in "The Times" over the weekend called, "Trump Is Not a King."

Good to have you here with us.

Give me a sense -- you touched on this in your piece. We have 175 more officials who are jumping on here. Does it change anything to have hundreds speaking out?

TIM WEINER, FORMER NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER & AUTHOR: It's an extraordinary development. I think months and years from now, we may look back on the last few days as a turning point in the opposition to Trump. The resistance coming from the establishment, from the national security empire. The critique is very, very basic and goes to the heart of who we are as a people. Trump is trying to punish Brennan and others for criticizing him. And that is a crime in monarchies like Saudi Arabia, where to criticize the crown is considered an act of terrorism. Not in this country. That's why we fought a revolution against the mad king.

HILL: Do you think though, to that point -- what we are seeing is this play out. A lot of this comes, too, from -- there's the Brennan issue but there's also the enemy of the people when it comes to journalists and people calling out things like that. There isn't always as much of an appetite as some people would like for that thought of, yes, it's important to keep this free press here, it's important to keep a check on things, you should have the ability to speak out and say whatever you want.

WEINER: The president's extraordinary attack on the CIA, the FBI, Bob Mueller, never mind the press -- we can take heat like that. He is attacking the pillars of national security in this country because why? He is terrified. He is terrified of the Russia investigation. He is terrified that the walls are closing in on him. A man like John Brennan, who was part of the initial investigation in 2006 and the beginning of 2007, he knows thing that we don't. This is part what have Trump fears.

HILL: Former Director Clapper spoke out over the weekend about what we're seeing from John Brennan. Here is what he had to say.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think John Brennan's hyperbole is an issue here, is one of the reasons we're having this crisis?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I think it is. I think John is sort of like a freight train. Common denominator among all of us that have been speaking up is concern about the jeopardy or threats to our institutions and values. But John and his rhetoric have become I think an issue, in and of itself.


HILL: Is Brennan going too far? Is he playing into the president's hands based on what we heard from James Clapper?

WEINER: I think not. I think that the people who have been the guardians of national security in this country, they come in for a lot of heat. But when they take the extraordinary step as people did over this weekend, you have the former secretary of defense bob gates, you have Admiral McRaven, who took out Osama bin Laden. They say he is acting as if he thinks he is a king and not the representative of the people who took an oath to protect and defend the constitution.

HILL: It's interesting -- it's not the only time we have heard McCarthy thrown around. The president is bringing up McCarthyism. When you see that, what's your gut on that?

WEINER: Rage tweeting at 4:00 in the morning and calling Bob Mueller Joe McCarthy, I think the president has lost his mind.

HILL: We will have to leave it there.

Appreciate you coming in.

WEINER: You bet.

[11:44:32] HILL: Good to have you here. Thank you.

Check out Tim's book, "Enemies, A History of the FBI."

Just ahead, the pope speaking out on the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church after the grand jury report from Pennsylvania outlines decades not only of assault and abuse but of coverups. What took this pope so long to speak? Will anything change?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HILL: Pope Francis breaking his silence this morning on the stunning grand jury report out of Pennsylvania. Hundreds of pedophile priests sexually abused children with more than a thousand victims spanning some 70 years. The pope's letter cites a Bible verse from Corinthians, "'If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.'" These words of St. Paul forcefully echoing in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse. The abuse of power and the abuse of conscious perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons."

CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us where survivors are gathering outside the archdiocese.

They're there because they have a message, Polo. What are they telling you this morning?

[11:50:07] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, a number of those victims who are obviously known as survivors here who say they endured abuse at the hands of various clergy members decades back. They were here at the door of the diocese of Pittsburgh with various demands. The principal one you could say is the elimination, the potential elimination of the statute of limitations. What they want to see done is the prosecution of some of those clergy members who are still alive today who they say abused them in various ways. Some of those allegations are spelled out by the attorney general of the state in that disturbing report that was issued about a week ago. We spent the weekend here in Pittsburgh. The reason why is because about a third of the clergy members that are named in that report belong to this diocese. We've been speaking to parishioners and survivors alike. That is their key demand. They want more than just an apology. I asked one survivor of sexual abuse a little while ago if the pope's words are enough for him. We heard from Pope Francis saying that they need to acknowledge with shame and repentance these atrocities committed decades ago. For this survivor, he said that kind of response falls short. This survivor has since left his Catholic faith because of what happened. So not just members of the community but parishioners and even survivors themselves.

HILL: The attorney general had actually reached out to the pope even before this grand jury report was released in a letter. It's my understanding he still hadn't heard back. What's the reaction from the A.G.'s office and other officials this morning to these words from the pope, to this letter?

SANDOVAL: Sure, we've heard reaction from regular folks and as you mentioned from the attorney general himself. I want to read you a portion of the statement that was just released a short time ago. This is attorney general for the state of Pennsylvania addressing the pontiff's letter from this morning to the faithful. Shapiro writing, "It's my hope that following the holy father's words and teachings church leaders in Pennsylvania will cease their denials and deflections and now fully support the grand jury's recommendation so that survivors have the opportunity to obtain justice and ensure this widespread abuse and cover-up never happens again." Certainly some aligning with his comments and also what we heard from

the pontiff himself, who said that looking ahead to the future that more needs to be done by the Catholic Church, not only to prevent these kinds of situations, but any potential cover-up of these kinds of situations. That's echoing the concerns we have heard from people here in Pittsburgh, Erica. They want more than that apology. They want a full admission from the Catholic Church that not only this happened but also that efforts happened decades ago to cover this kind of behavior up.

HILL: And one survivor telling me last week, a survivor saying that he felt the cover-up was actually worse than the abuse in this instance.

Polo, appreciate it, as always. Thank you.

Just ahead, could a verdict in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, come today? The jury is deliberating now for a third day. We are live at the courthouse, next.


[11:58:00] HILL: A new day of deliberations. At this moment, jurors back to work for a third day in the Paul Manafort trial. The former Trump campaign chairman is facing 18 charges of tax evasion, bank fraud, and hiding foreign bank accounts. This is also the first real test for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. After three long days, could a verdict come today?

CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, joins us from outside the courthouse.

We know there's been a little bit of activity this morning, Jessica. What's been happening?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: There has been some activity, Erica. So while the jury began deliberations at 9:35 this morning, there's been some mystery inside the courtroom. Twice already this morning we've seen the defense team and prosecution meet with the judge. It's been all out of the public view, meaning the doors to the courtroom have been closed, no one has been inside except those parties. It's all sealed, meaning the transcripts for these bench conferences won't be released until after the verdict. So the question is, what was happening? Well, we don't know. But what we do know is that the jury continues to deliberate. They're on day three. We haven't heard anything from the jury yet this morning.

The question is, could they soon reach a verdict, or will there be more notes with potentially more questions? This jury really has a lot to go through. 18 counts. They're sifting through 388 documents, the testimony of 27 witnesses. A lot of people asked, you know, have they been sequestered? This jury has not. They've been free to go home every night. They went home over the weekend. They've been instructed not to read about this case, not to talk about this case, not to research this case. Erica, the jury was asked this morning when they came back into the

courtroom after that weekend, the judge said, did you read anything, did you research anything? All in unison, they all said aloud no. This jury taking it very seriously. We're just waiting to see what happens -- Erica?

HILL: Jessica Schneider, appreciate it. Thank you.

Thanks to all of you for joining me this morning.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

[12:00:13] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you, Erica.

Nice to see you. And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS.