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CNN NEWSROOM

Hurricane Florence Churns Closer to Carolina Coast; Al Qaeda Leader Threatens U.S; Attorneys Question Events of Dallas Police Officer Shooting of Neighbor; Army Vet Who Lost Brother: U.S. Doing What Bin Laden Wanted; Gayle King Weighs in on Les Moonves Accusations. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 14:30   ET

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


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[14:30:40] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, Hurricane Florence is churning closer and closer to the Carolina coast. The powerful storm growing in strength and on a menacing path. Florence could be the strongest storm to make landfall on the east coast since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. And 20 million people are in the forecast cone. More than one million are already under a mandatory evacuation order.

With me now from Curry Beach near Wilmington, North Carolina, currently in the direct path of the storm, is someone that has no plans to evacuate, Brett Adair, a field meteorologist and a storm chaser.

Brett, pretty skies for now. You covered a lot of storms. What is it about this one that concerns you most?

BRETT ADAIR, FIELD METEOROLOGIST & STORM CHASER: Well, it's really a storm like the North Carolina coastline and South Carolina coastline haven't dealt with in a very long time, since the late '80s, as a matter of fact. Hurricane Hugo hit the upper Carolina coast, caused a lot of storm surge, heavy rain issues and wind damage in this entire area. Here at Curry Beach, you can see behind me, we have a big pier, it is one of the wood pylon piers. A storm will decimate structures like that.

BALDWIN: We're hearing about the storm, it could have wind speeds like Irma, could drop rain and stall and sit over land like Harvey. What are you hearing?

ADAIR: That's exactly what we're hearing and what we're seeing. We are watching live up to date radar satellite information coming from the air force reconnaissance hurricane hunters. The storm is so large like you mention, Hurricane Harvey dropped tremendous amounts of rainfall in Texas last year, and Irma and Hurricane Maria had wind impacts. This one may be different. Neither one of those had such storm surge impacts. The potential for 15 to 20-foot storm surge in the area is real, and it is something that hasn't been seen in a long time on the U.S. coastline.

BALDWIN: Brett Adair, I know what you're doing. Stay safe. Let's stay in touch with you through the course of the end of the week as the storm gets closer. Thank you so much, at Curry Beach, North Carolina.

Meantime, a police officer charged after she walked into this man's apartment and killed him, shot him to death. We're now hearing more from her side of things, including what she said to him. But what isn't adding up. We'll talk to the family's attorney.

Also, what is the greatest terror threat facing America now? It's no longer the lone-wolf attack. Hear about reporting from CNN today from a new Homeland Security report, next.

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[14:37:25] BALDWIN: Just in. Pope Francis is set to meet with officials from the U.S. Catholic Church this week in Rome. This is happening weeks after the news broke of the horrific widespread abuse in Pennsylvania. More than 300 priests accused of abusing more than a thousand children over decades. The Vatican faced criticism for its response and lack of answers about how to handle it moving forward. That meeting, we're told, involves two cardinals and an archbishop.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Your tears are not shed alone, for they are shared grief with an entire nation. We grieve together for every mother and father, sister and brother, son and daughter, who was stolen from us at the twin towers, the Pentagon, and here in this Pennsylvania field.

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BALDWIN: The president and first lady paying a somber tribute today to victims of flight 93 in Pennsylvania on the 17th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks. Bells tolled. And named of the 40 victims of the flight were read allowed by survivors.

In New York, at the 9/11 memorial, family members also read those names of victims that lost their lives at the World Trade Center. And at the Pentagon, Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis attended a ceremony at the Pentagon honoring the 184 who were killed there.

And on this anniversary of the attacks, al Qaeda is releasing what it claims is an audio speech from its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, urging followers to conduct further attacks on the United States. In the 23- minute speech, he calls on Muslims to wage war on the U.S.

With me now, CNN national security analyst, Peter Bergen. He produced an interview with Osama bin Laden in 1997.

Peter, always good to have you.

It has been 17 years since 9/11. Where is bin Laden's number two, and why hasn't he been caught?

[14:39:41] PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Brooke, thanks for having me on. He is almost certainly in Pakistan where bin Laden was found, where

many leaders of al Qaeda have been hiding. The CIA has been looking for him, in fact occasionally take a drone strike at targets they thought were him. Obviously, hasn't succeed. I think capacity to do attacks is low. We haven't been attacked by a foreign terrorist organization since 9/11. In the United States, attacks are carried out by people inspired but not like 9/11, 19 foreigners conducting a mass-casualty attack. Capacity of groups in the United States is lower because of all of the things we have done since 9/11, our defensive capabilities, offensive capabilities, public knowledge that this is a problem. For any viewer concerned about this, I would say Ayman al-Zawahiri is the leader of a group that doesn't have capacity to do anything outside Pakistan, and certainly not the ability to attack the United States.

BALDWIN: I want to ask about the opinion piece in "New York Times," written by Joe Quinn, a U.S. Army veteran. He tells a story of listing his brother, James, on the north tower. He talks about how he was furious that day, he joins the Army, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan where he learned bin Laden's goal was to keep the U.S. in a never-ending war. Quinn asked the question, why are we doing what bin Laden wanted all along. And writes this: "But the main reason I wanted to stay quiet about the war is because it has embarrassingly taken me 17 years to realize something. What I realize is this, 17 years ago, staring at the picture of Muhammad Atta, I wanted revenge against those that killed my brother. But I finally realized the people that killed my brother died the same day he did. I refuse to take Atta's orders or bin Laden's. I will not stay quiet in the war."

How do you feel, Peter?

BERGEN: I read this piece by Joe Quinn, and it is a powerful piece. That said, there's a misunderstanding here. Bin Laden didn't try to bring us into a never-ending war. This is what he said after 9/11 when he realized that the attack backfired. His goal was to push us out of the Middle East, not bring us further in. Since 9/11, we are more involved in the Middle East than any time in our history. And President Trump, I think, made the right decision when he said, I changed my mind about Afghanistan. Anything worse than being in Afghanistan, it is leaving Afghanistan. We have run the videotape many times before, President Obama did it at the end of 2011 in Iraq, into the vacuum that was created came ISIS.

Look, it is not a great situation to be in. We have to manage and contain this threat. It is not going away. If we take our eye on the ball and pretend it is going to go away, it tends to come back and we have seen it repeatedly. I accept that he feels strongly about this, but I think the president, after debate with his inner circle, made the right decision. A vacuum in Afghanistan would attract more groups, they build up strength and turn their eyes to the West for an attack.

BALDWIN: Peter Bergen, thank you so much. Always wonderful to have you on. Appreciate it.

BERGEN: Thank you, Brooke. Coming up, the Dallas police officer that shot her unarmed neighbor

says she mistook his apartment for her own. Now attorneys for the unarmed man question her version of events. We'll talk to one of the lawyers live, next.

And he lost an election by 67 votes. Guess what? Turns out 70 people got the wrong ballot. Hear what happens now in this election blunder.

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[14:48:13] BALDWIN: A new affidavit lays out how a Dallas police officer says she mistakenly shot and killed a man inside his own apartment. Officer Amber Guyger is charged with manslaughter in the death of her neighbor, Botham Jean, last Thursday. According to the arrest warrant, Guyger went into the fourth-floor apartment instead of her third-floor apartment, she tried to use an electronic key to open the door but it was already open. She walked inside, told investigators it was totally dark when she noticed a large silhouette. Guyger said she thought Jean was a burglar and shot him after he ignored her commands. It wasn't until a 911 operator asked her location she said she noticed she was in the wrong apartment.

With me now, Jean's family attorney, S. Lee Merritt.

Mr. Merritt, thanks for being with me. Our condolences to the family.

S. LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR BOTHAM JEAN FAMILY: I'll pass those along, Brooke. Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: I know you and this family do not accept the official account from the arrest documents from police. You tell me why, and how do you explain how this officer ended up in a home that wasn't hers.

MERRITT: Much of the affidavit simply doesn't comport with common sense. The latter part of your question, how do I explain what happened, unfortunately I can't. Typically I have some sort of theory of what happened in this case. Here, I have no idea. I do know that certain statements within the affidavit are demonstratively false. For example, the door being ajar. The doors close automatically, unless propped open because he was expecting a guest or something, I'm not making excuses, it wouldn't have been open. So what the family knows, what all of the friends know, everyone I talked to about Botham knows is that he wouldn't prop that door open. He is a very meticulous accountant, intention on everything they do. Doesn't prop doors open when expecting guests. I have spoken to people who were interacting with him minutes before it happened. He wasn't expecting any guest. So what actually happened is still a big mystery. I know what's stated in the affidavit is simply untrue.

[14:50:22] BALDWIN: You said you had a theory why she ended up in the wrong apartment. What's your theory?

MERRITT: No, no, I said typically I would have a theory.

BALDWIN: Oh, you don't have a theory in this case? I got you. MERRITT: I have no theory here.

BALDWIN: I got you.

I understand, after all of this happened, two witnesses, you tell me, I believe the two witnesses went separately, came forward saying that they did hear something. Is that correct? Can you tell me what the witnesses said?

MERRITT: Yes. So the two witnesses are actually roommates. One was in the living room, the other in her bedroom. One was in the living room watching television, both heard a knock or pounding on the door. The one closer to the scene, in her bedroom reading a book, she heard pounding followed by a female voice saying open up, let me in. She said the voice didn't sound like an officer command but sounded like someone that wanted to be let in the apartment. She said that was shortly followed by the sound of gunshots and sound of a man's voice saying what she believed to be, oh, my god, why did you do that. Again, I have a difficult time figuring out how those facts play into what we know. But I know if a door is locked, there's no one pounding on it. I'm sorry, I mean if a door is open, there wouldn't be anyone pounding on it.

BALDWIN: There wouldn't be anyone pounding on it to let them in.

Do you know this officer -- did the officer and Mr. Jean, did they know each other?

MERRITT: No one that I know who has a personal relationship with both of them can connect the two in any meaningful way. The only connection we have been able to make, she's his immediate downstairs neighbor. There were noise complaints from the immediate downstairs neighbors about whoever was upstairs, and that would have been Botham. There was a noise complaint that very day about upstairs activity in Botham's apartment. Botham received a phone call about noise coming from his apartment from the downstairs neighbor.

BALDWIN: I see. I see.

And lastly, I wanted to read part of the statement from the Dallas D.A. spokesperson, "Tt is important to maintain the integrity of the case. Once all of the evidence is presented, it will go to the grand jury."

No time line estimate on how that goes forward. On-going investigation. Case will be thoroughly investigated.

S. Lee Merritt, appreciate you. Thank you so much.

MERRITT: Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

As the investigation grows into the former CBS chief, Les Moonves, one of the network's high-profile stars is weighing in today on the accusations. What Gayle King says about her workplace. Plus, refusing to leave. Despite grave warnings to evacuate, many on

the Carolina coastline aren't moving as forecasters say Florence could strengthen to a category 5 storm as it makes landfall. The latest forecast for you ahead.

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[14:57:41] BALDWIN: Just until a couple days ago, he was one of the most powerful men in television, but today, Les Moonves is facing even more accusations that he abused that power to harass and force himself onto women. And by the way, he could still walk away with millions and millions of dollars. Six more women coming forward to accuse former CBS chief, Les Moonves, of sexual misconduct and harassment.

Even "CBS This Morning" host, Gayle King, says she's sickened by the developments and feels for Moonves' wife, who is taking a leave of absence.

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GAYLE KING, CBS HOST, CBS THIS MORNING: In our own house, we must have transparency. And I certainly feel for Julie Chen today. She's in a very difficult position. Les Moonves has done wonderful things for this company and we can't forget that either. It's just a bad situation all the way around.

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BALDWIN: CNN Money politics, media and business reporter, Hadas Gold, is with me.

Hadas, you hear Gayle feels for Julie Chen, calling for transparency at her own workplace. What is the atmosphere like now at CBS?

HADAS GOLD, CNN MONEY POLITICS, MEDIA & BUSINESS REPORTER: You can hear from Gayle and Norah O'Donnell on air talking about how much it hurt morale. You can't ignore what a figure like Moonves was for CBS. He was a larger-than-life media figure and really helped put CBS on top and on the map when it came to both a news product and entertainment product.

And you have to keep in mind, this is only a few months after the Charlie Rose incident. And when that shocked and rattled the network. So this is a difficult few months for them.

You can hear in Gayle's voice there's conflicting emotion as well. Les Moonves, for some people, was a good boss, a creative genius. This is what you see in a lot of "Me Too" stories, people can be very good at their jobs and good bosses for some, then you hear stories behind the scenes that can be really horrifying.

And the other thing you hear from CBS employees, what Gayle said on air, there's still a lot of questions left. We don't know when the internal investigation will come out. We don't know what it will say, or if we will be allowed to see what it says. It is supposed to remain confidential, per Moonves' contract, and we don't know what, if anything, he will be paid, what's the rate, zero to $120 million. How will they determine what misconduct is worth what money?

[15:00:04] BALDWIN: Right. A payout yet to be determined and a pending investigation.

Keep us posted.

Hadas Gold, thank you so very much.