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Trump Patient With Saudis As Evidence Grows Against Them; ABC Kills Off Roseanne In The Premier Of "The Conners"; Columbus Officer Gives Boys Important Lesson. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 17, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:33:43] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Republican Senators say that they will confront Saudi Arabia over the apparent murder of a "Washington Post" columnist, but President Trump told the Associated Press that blaming the Saudi is another example of "guilty until proven innocent," much like what he said about his justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, after the Supreme Court hearings.

Last hour, the president said he is not giving cover to the Saudis, but as more and more evidence points to Saudi Arabia, the optics get more consequential for this White House.

Joining me is Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH" here on CNN.

Michael, when it comes to foreign policy, when it comes to who this president listens to versus dismisses, where are his morals?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I don't understand what the Saudis hold over this and previous American presidents. It's almost like, you get elected, you get the resolute desk, you get the book of secrets. And in the book of secret secrets, it explains why there's such a stranglehold by the Saudi royal family over the president and whether democratic or Republican, they're all holding hands with the king. As a lay person, I see a Wahhabist strand of Sunni Islam that poses a threat to the West. I see 15 out of 19 hijackers coming from Saudi Arabia. I see the 28 pages that raise significant questions. I don't get it, Brooke. Finally, let's have a conversation about what drives this relationship.

[14:35:19] BALDWIN: To your point on the relationship, it not just this president. He sent Mike Pompeo over to Riyadh to demand answers. You see these pictures, a smiling secretary of state. In addition to that, Heather Nauert, the spokesperson at the State Department, on her Instagram, but I think this is germane, because they're over their demanding answers to this apparent murder of a journalist. And I guess my question to you is are they doing what they were sent over there to do?

SMERCONISH: Well, not if the meeting were 15 minutes in length. Not if the administration is going to be so accepting of some excuse of a rogue operation. I think common sense tells us what we need to know. There's closed-circuit television footage showing the man entering but not leaving. If he were alive, we'd know it. If there were some innocent explanation to all of this, by now, that would be in the press. The Turks continue to leak these grisly, gruesome details. I don't know if they're accurate. I can't imagine that so much of it would be in the public domain if it were farcical, made up. It's really a troublesome story.

BALDWIN: Tell me about -- you take a lot of callers on your show. Tell me about the woman who called in, and your discussion with her about whether her son, in the military, was more imperiled by Saudi Arabia or Iran.

SMERCONISH: This is really interesting. Thank you for raising. A woman called today, a mother whose son is in uniform. As the president expressed, she expressed her concerns for her son because of Iran. I said to her, with all respect, I wonder if American military personnel face more threats to their safety from Iran or Saudi Arabia because it's not so clear to me. It seems as if we had the Iranians contained, at least for the next 10 years. And the president was just insistent on tearing up that agreement and putting his thumb on the scale on the side of Sunni Islam to the detriment of Shia Islam. I don't think that's played out so well for us in the past.

BALDWIN: I was reading some of our CNN reporting, indicated that a senior adviser to the president says, how he handles this, this moment with Saudi Arabia, could be the most consequential moment of his presidency. He, so far, seems to believe the Saudis and their cover story. What do you think he must demand they do?

SMERCONISH: I think he needs to demand full transparency and accountability. And not to be so easily assuaged in his interest in this by whatever their explanation might be. If it's true that the walls have been repainted, if it's true that there hasn't been an allowance for a complete forensic examination of the consulate as well as the residence, then we're not learning all we need to know. As a lawyer, I'm also interested in issues of diplomatic immunity. Assuming it was these 15 individuals who arrived in Riyadh, what will be done to them? That remains to be seen.

BALDWIN: Including this intelligence officer and diplomat who has close ties to MBS. That's one of the questions, how MBS could not have known what was happening.

Michael Smerconish, thank you very much.

SMERCNOISH: Thank you.

You can watch "SMERCONISH" every Saturday morning right here on CNN at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Thank you, my friend.

[14:40:04] Coming up, spoiler alert. We finally know how ABC wrote Roseanne Barr out of her show in what Roseanne is calling a grim and morbid start to a new season. One of the original show writers gives his take, next.


BALDWIN: Spoiler alert. If you did not watch last night's premiere of "The Conners," we finally know how ABC wrote Roseanne out of the show. It a reboot after ABC canceled the show "Roseanne" because of Barr's racist rants on Twitter. So in the spinoff's first episode, producers took an interesting approach, tackling an issue that plagues blue-collar America.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: She told me that her knee wasn't healing up fast enough and I was the only person she could turn to. She said that she needed those pain pills to get back to work because you guys were running out of money.

JOHN GOODMAN, ACTOR: Don't you try to put this off on me. You gave her the pills, she took them, she died, you killed her!

SARA GILBERT, ACTRESS: Dad, stop. We just found another stash in the freezer.

I wish I would have known.

GOODMAN: It wouldn't have mattered, baby. She was going to do what she was going to do. She never listened to a damn person in her life.


BALDWIN: Critics say that last comment may have been a subtle commentary on the star.

The premiere now roughly 10.5 million viewers. That is a solid drop in the ratings from the revival last season. Barr has been predicting her character's death for months. She and her rabbi released this statement: "We regret that ABC chose to cancel "Roseanne" by killing off the Roseanne Conner character, but it was done through opioid overdose, slanting unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show."

With me is Danny Zuker, the executive producer of ABC's "Modern Family." He was also a show writer for the original "Roseanne."

And I know you have a book that we'll talk about in a second.

Danny, first of all, welcome back.

[14:45:24] DANNY ZUKER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, ABC: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Your reaction to this first episode sans Roseanne?

ZUKER: That show, I was just a baby writer there. At the time, I think there were 30 writers on the show. But that show taught me everything I know about sitcom writing, how to write something that was funny and real and resonate. I liked the episode last night. It's such an amazing cast. For me, as a young writer, it was like getting to play professional baseball because everybody was so good. I thought they handled it really well. I was happy to see them do well.

BALDWIN: Good. You've got this new book out. Let's throw it up on the screen. "He Started It!: My Twitter War with Trump."

Do you think it illustrates just our sheer divisive nature of politics in this country?

ZUKER: I think it does. The point I make in the book -- this is while partially a narcissistic exercise for me. I'm donating all the proceeds to three charities. I think what was interesting about this is when I started this Twitter war, it wasn't controversial to call Donald Trump sort of a foolish little man. And Republicans and Democrats alike would praise on Twitter. It's like go get him.

People I know who then would later start to take him seriously. It's been very disheartening to watch. I've watched -- I think that's been the hardest thing to watch is to have people who sometimes sit in a chair like yours say things like -- you know, ask the question, "What do you think Trump's strategy is here?" he's just not capable of playing three-dimensional chess and I hope my book makes that clear when you see how he thought.

BALDWIN: But yet, if he's not consciously thinking of chess playing and his moves, you're still optimistic. Tell me why.

ZUKER: Because I'm in this weird generation where I was too young for Vietnam and too old for the Gulf War. I got to live my childhood and early 20s through an era of complete peace and was always feeling like I wanted to be more politically active. And my own children, my twins are 20, my son is 17, watching them show the kind of activism I felt I missed out on in the '60s --


BALDWIN: It's kind of awesome.

ZUKER: It's been awesome. It's the first time in 60 years I ever called a congressman or Senator.


ZUKER: It's a good time.

BALDWIN: Just in the last week, just as you've been watching what's been going on, we have seen Taylor Swift, we have seen Kanye West, we've seen the video that irked the first lady with Rapper T.I. The line between entertainment and politics seems more blurred now than ever. Is that healthy, Danny?

ZUKER: I do not think it's healthy. I would much rather go back to Twitter and make fun of my own children than be involved in this little reality show we're watching right now. If you think about it, he has been more critical of people like Alec Baldwin and Hamilton and me than he has with Putin or -- (CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Kim Jong-un.

ZUKER: Kim Jong-un or the Saudis. And I think it's very dangerous. I think it's really a distraction. It's embarrassing. I always feel like -- I'm amaze amazed -- I walked around, oh, is this happening? Is this the country? Didn't, like, FDR sit in that chair at one point and inspire a nation? And now we have Kanye, so --


BALDWIN: Dropping the M.F. bomb in the most sacred space, in the Oval Office.

ZUKER: In the Oval Office. No. I don't think you've seen that before.

BALDWIN: Lastly, as I was confessing to you in commercial break, I am a mega, mega "Modern Family" fan. I've been with you guys since the very beginning. One of your show's co-creators says a significant character on "Modern Family" will die this season. Dare I ask who?

[14:50:06] BALDWIN: Well, I'm going to announce it here right now. No, I'm not going to announce it.

Let's go, Danny Zuker, let's go, right now.

ZUKER: No. I mean, you did a lot of work on the panhandle and I appreciate it. But I'm still not going to let it go to you. I'll keep it to myself.


ZUKER: But I think you'll will find it -- we just shot the episode. I think it's quite good.

BALDWIN: OK, Danny Zuker. A pleasure. Thank you so much.

ZUKER: Thank you, Brooke. I appreciate it.

BALDWIN: Just ahead here, an Ohio police officer's split-second decision is making all kinds of headlines. Instead of firing on a kid holding a B.B. gun, he stops and teaches him a lesson.


OFC. PETER CASUCCIO, COLUMBIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: I could have killed you. I want you to think about that tonight when you go to bed. You could be gone.


BALDWIN: That officer joins me live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:55:18] BALDWIN: Next month marks four years since 12-year-old Jamir Rice was shot and killed. It turns out Rice was playing outside a rec center with a toy gun.

Yesterday, 100 miles south of Cleveland, a Columbus police officer was responding to reports of two young black men allegedly waving a gun. When that officer, Officer Peter Casuccio, arrived on the scene, he did not shoot. Instead he tried a different approach that ended with a really important lesson. And it was all caught on his police body camera. Watch this.


CASUCCIO: Here's the thing. Are you (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?


CASUCCIO: OK. You know why you should be scared (EXPLETIVE DELETED)? This is getting kids killed all over the country. That thing looks real, bro.


CASUCCIO: You should be sorry and you should be scared. Do you think I want to shoot a 11-year-old? Do you think I want to shoot a 13- year-old?

I could have killed you. I want you to think about that tonight when you go to bed. You could be gone.


BALDWIN: Again, that officer, Peter Casuccio, with the Columbus Police Department, is with me now.

Officer Casuccio, thank you so much for just being with me.

I just -- what a lesson for those two boys. I read that you said you went into dad mode. How do you mean?

CASUCCIO: Yes. So I'm a dad. I mean, I have a child of my own, I have another one on the way, he's due in February.

BALDWIN: Congratulations.

CASUCCIO: Yes, thanks. You have an obligation when you put this uniform on to take a parental role sometimes, right? If you have two kids in front of you, and it almost ended in deadly force, you have an obligation as a steward of your community and to the men and women you work with to grab them by the ear and sit them down and say hey, man, this is not the way it works. This is getting kids of all colors from all different types of neighborhoods killed on an almost, you know, I hate to say it, annual basis at this point.

BALDWIN: It is, that's the truth. Good on you for doing what you did. I'm just wondering, do you think the majority of your colleagues would have done the same thing?

CASUCCIO: Yes, I absolutely do. These types of encounters are not uncommon. BB guns, pellet guns, toys and other replicas are readily available to kids all across the country. Unfortunately, as a young adult, you don't always understand the gravity of your decisions. You think you might simply by playing with your friends or you're going to show off or something you've seen on tv. As a law enforcement officer, you have nanoseconds to make a decision. I feel out of my 800,000 brothers and sisters nationwide, they absolutely would do the same thing I did.

BALDWIN: Have you talked to either of those boys' parents after this?

CASUCCIO: Yes. Actually, both parents responded -- well, the mother of the 13-year-old responded to the scene. He was on his way home from a football game. If you want to talk about how tragic things could have been, that's how tragic they could have been. Here's a 13- year-old kid who just finished a football game and then is in a deadly encounter with a police officer. His coach actually stopped. I talked with him briefly. Coach called mom and mom responded to the scene and took the young man home from there. The 11-year-old was more than happy to walk home afterwards. I told him you're coming with me, you're going to go talk to mom about this. I think mom needs to know what happened.

BALDWIN: Yes, she does. She does, she does. And not only do you -- did you do this, I do want to ask you before I let you go about Cops and Barbers. It's a community program. You started with your barber. What are you guys doing?

CASUCCIO: It's a program we do every fall. We take 20 kids this year, we're hoping to grow it next year, we hope for it eventually to be nationwide, you pair police officers with barbers in the inner city right before men go back to school, get them a haircut and get them basic school supplies. The theory behind it is to give them a little confidence and help make them successful, because that's what it's all about.

BALDWIN: We need more Peter Casuccios in the world.

Officer Casuccio, thank you so much. Truly, truly.

CASUCCIO: Thank you, ma'am.

[14:59:59] BALDWIN: Thank you.

You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

We start with the disturbing new details in the disappearance and apparent murder of U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.