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National Republican Congressional Committee Hacked; Eric Trump Lashes Out at George Conway; Biden Contemplates Presidential Run; Missouri Police Chief Apologizes Amid Systemic Problem of Rape Kits Destroyed Across US. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired December 4, 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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[14:31:36] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Just in to CNN, the National Republican Congressional Committee says at least one of its databases was recently hacked. This is a group that works to elect and reelect Republicans in the House.

Let's get more information. I'm joined by CNN Politics Reporter, Dan Merica.

Dan, do we know who was behind this hack and what data may have been compromised in.

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: They do not know who was behind the hack. In April, they were told of the hack by a vendor and told the e-mails of four of the most senior members had been surveilled for month. The NRCC informed Crowd Subscribing, a cyber security firm that helped the Democrats deal with their hacking issues in 2016. Ian Pryor said it can confirm it was a victim of a cyber intrusion by an unknown entity.

"The cybersecurity of the committee's data is paramount and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter." The hackers not on had access to the account and could see what e-mails were sent and received by these four staffers, but they could fully log in to these accounts. That's a pretty significant intrusion.

It very clear the NRCC is taking this very seriously. They have hired an outside law group, as well as an outside communications firm to help through all of this.

Obviously, hacking has been on the forefront since the 2016 campaign and since so many Democratic organizations were hacked during that campaign. The NRCC, which was hacked this time around and DCCC were talking about coming to an agreement and agreeing to never use hand material during campaigns. That was happening during the midterm elections.

They couldn't reach that agreement but the NRCC did agree, the chairman said, they would not use material like that in a campaign ad. If these are hacked, other campaigns can elevate them. Both of these committees have tried to make sure that doesn't happen. There's still a lot left to come out from the hack of the NRCC -- Ana?

CABRERA: Indeed.

Thank you very much, Dan Merica.

The president's son is calling out Kellyanne Conway's husband, saying George Conway is being disrespectful to his wife. Ana Navarro weighs in next.

[14:34:17] Plus, some possible 2020 contenders responding to Joe Biden calling himself the most-qualified candidate in the entire country. What Democratic stars think of this, next.

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CABRERA: Welcome back. The president's middle son, Eric Trump, is running to the defense of one of his advisers. He lashed out at Kellyanne Conway's husband after George Conway implied a tweet from Trump could be considered witness tampering. Eric Trump fired back saying, "Of all the ugliness in politics, the utter disrespect George Conway shows towards his wife, her career, and place of work, and everything she has fought so hard to achieve might top them all. Kellyanne is a great person and, frankly, his actions are horrible."

Joining me to discuss, CNN Political Commentator, Ana Navarro.

Ana, what do you think of that tweet from Eric Trump?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR; Well, two things come to mind. First of all, you know, there's some issues that maybe Eric Trump wants to sit out. If your father is Donald Trump, who cheated on every one of his three wives, including your mom, who cheated on his current wife with a "playboy" bunny and cheated on the "playboy" bunny with a stripper, maybe, just maybe talking about husbands being disrespectful to wives is not the alley, is not the one that you should be taking on.

And then, you know, on a more substantive note, look, we are in a modern era, an era where sometimes spouses don't have the same opinions. I think it's a personal issue and they can deal with it privately. I think every couple knows how to deal with them or not deal with them within the walls of their own home.

It's often one of our business. I can tell you George Conway has great respect for justice, the truth, the Constitution, the rule of law, for the role of the presidency, for the integrity of judiciary proceedings, for the independence of the judicial branch, and I think a lot of Americans respect him.

[14:40:35] CABRERA: Would you be upset with your husband if he did that?

NAVARRO: Sweetheart, I'm engaged to get married. Yes, I would be. In my household I would hope that each other's place of work is off limits. But, again, I don't think any of us can judge different couples and marriages. To each his own. I hope they can make it work.

CABRERA: I want to talk Joe Biden. Here's what he Biden said on his book tour last night about a possible 2020 run, quoting, "I am a gaffe machine but, my god, what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can't tell the truth."

Ana, are gaffes in the era of Trump as detrimental as they once were?

NAVARRO: I don't think so. Yes, he tends to stick his foot in his mouth. He's sometimes very touchy feely. But when I think of Joe Biden, I think of him in so many ways as the anti-Trump. He's got vast experience, vast policy knowledge. He gets along across the aisle.

CABRERA: Because you mentioned his experience, I don't mean to cut you off but I want you to weigh in on the fact that he said he is the most qualified person to be president right now. Is he?

NAVARRO: Listen, if he were thinking of running for president, you should think that you are the most qualified. If you are thinking of running in what looks to be a field of more than a dozen potential Democratic candidates, if you are going to run you should have the confidence that you are running because you are the most qualified and the most -- and the one that brings the most to the table and offers the most and is able to win. And so I think that running for office and winning requires a healthy ego and he should have it. So should anybody else thinking of running for elected office.

CABRERA: Do you think he'll run?

NAVARRO: You know, I think so. I think he's got nothing to lose. There's no reason why he should have regrets. I think he regretted not having run in 2016. I think, you know, to me he is the anti- Trump. He is all empathy, human emotion, he's got such compassion, he's got such a basis of policy knowledge, foreign policy knowledge, he's jovial, he's a unifier.

He's got family values. It would be a foil and a contrast to Trump. The question is, can he get through a primary? Look, we'll have all of those proverbial age questions, is he too old to run? But, folks, if he runs, we're assuming he's running against Donald Trump, right?

It's not like he's running against Lebron James or Hussein Bolt or something. Just put them both on a treadmill and whoever is left standing and breathing without the aid of an oxygen machine gets the presidency.

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NAVARRO: My money's on Joe.

CABRERA: I appreciate you joining us. Thank you. Good to see you.

Coming up, a big response to CNN's exclusive report of rape kits across the country being destroyed, trashed. What one police chief says he plans to do about it. [14:44:11] We continue to keep an eye on the Dow. It still down more

than 643 points.

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CABRERA: The police chief of Springfield, Missouri, is apologizing to rape survivors following a massive CNN investigation that uncovered a systemic problem of rape kits being destroyed. Once that DNA evidence is gone, it can never be used to lock up a rapist or exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

CNN looked at more than 1,400 sex crime cases and investigations and discovered rape kit destruction all across the country since 2010.

I spoke to a woman in Fayetteville, North Carolina, whose rape kit was destroyed.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): Fayetteville's police chief said the department made a huge mistake by destroying hundreds of rape kits over a decade ago.

HAROLD MEDLOCK, CHIEF, FAYATTEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: I'm frustrated, I'm angry that one person may not get justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never ever heard of other police departments going public and saying we've destroyed this massive amount of evidence. Were they an anomaly? The answer is sadly they're not.

CABRERA (voice-over): CNN found hundreds of rape kits trashed long before statutes of limitations expired and in places where there is no time limit to prosecute the crime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had to find a way to cope.

CABRERA: This woman is one of the 333 victims in Fayetteville, North Carolina, whose rape kit was destroyed. We refer to her as Christine, as she's asked to remain anonymous.

[14:50:13] (on camera): Why were they destroyed?

LT. JOHN SOMERINDYKE, FAYETTEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: We were just clearing up space in the evidence room.

CABRERA (voice-over): Despite the trashed evidence, Fayetteville police offered to reinvestigate cases like Christine's.

It started with a girl's night out at a local bar in 2007. Christine and some friend had been drinking and ran into guys they had seen around town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I regret leaving with one of them who I thought was a nice guy.

CABRERA: Then what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He took me to an apartment. I consented to be with him, and he said he had to leave the room and he came back and he had three of his friends with him. I told them no, I told them that's not what I wanted. I was fearful that if I made a noise or fought back that something worse would happen. So I just laid there and took it until it was over. The guy that I had consented to was laying next to me and I just asked him to take me home.

CABRERA (voice-over): Christine says her roommate found her distraught and in tears and encouraged her to report the rape.

Every time a rape kit is collected, the victim's body is treated as the crime scene. A nurse asks questions like, did he ejaculate inside of you, did he kiss you, lick you? For three to five hours a nurse swabs the mouth, breast, bite marks, scrapes under finger nails, combs pubic hair, inserts a speculum inside the body, photographs are taken of every injury.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's almost like a continuation of the assault itself.

CABRERA: Eight years later, Christine saw her police report for the first time.

(on camera): What had been done to investigate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing. Not an interview, not follow-up questioning, nothing.

CABRERA (voice-over): As was the case with 85 percent of kits destroyed in Fayetteville, Christine's evidence was never tested.

(on camera): Do you look at what happened to people like Christine and think this is on us, we dropped the ball?

SOMERINDYKE: Yes, absolutely. We could have done better and we should have done better.

CABRERA (voice-over): Eight years later police tried to do better. The three men Christine originally named were finally questioned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Each one of them took the Fifth. They did not talk. They can't be compelled to talk. Authorities said, we don't have anything to go on, we can't file charges.

CABRERA: If Christine's kit had been tested, DNA from multiple men may have corroborated her story or linked one of them to other assaults, but instead, a dead end.

SOMERINDYKE: That's our fault for destroying evidence and for not doing the right thing years ago.

CABRERA: Fayetteville stopped destroying rape kits in 2009, too late for most of the cold cases. Only three of the 333 have resulted in criminal charges. (on camera): What did you lose when those rape kits were destroyed?

SOMERINDYKE: A chance to get justice.

CABRERA: And what message does it send, for not just the victims here in Fayetteville whose rape kits were destroyed but around the country?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't matter. What happened to you don't matter.

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CABRERA: Christine's story barely scratches the surface. Rape kits were destroyed all around the country, in many cases, without ever being tested for evidence and when cases still could potentially be prosecuted.

As a direct result of CNN's nationwide investigation into these rape kits, a police chief in Springfield, Missouri, issued this apology.

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WILLIAMS, CHIEF, SPRINGFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT: The Springfield Police Department takes full responsibility for what we now know are mistakes in the handling of past sexual assaults, particularly with regard to the testing or disposal of evidence contained in sexual assault kits.

To the victims of sexual assault and their families who may have been affected by these past mistakes, we sincerely apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I want to bring in CNN Investigative Reporter, Ashley Fantz, who has been the lead reporter on this exclusive CNN investigation.

Ashley, you have spent years working on this. Bring us the latest developments.

[14:54:58] ASHLEY FANTZ, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: As you saw there, Springfield police chief, Paul Williams, offering an apology and inviting victims to contact him if he felt their assaults were not investigated appropriately. He also instituted other changes. We found officers were sending victims letters telling them they had 10 business days to respond or their cases will not be investigated.

He said that will stop. He pledged to stop giving victims so-called prosecution declination waivers, given to victims soon after they reported being assaulted and before investigations were complete. The effect of that was to end cases.

We reviewed more than 1,400 rape investigations from 207 law enforcement agencies country the country, Ana and determined that police trashed evidence in 400 cases before the statute of limitations expired. So nearly 80 percent of those kits were never tested. An important point to note from our investigation is that 400 number

is likely higher because there are an estimated 17,000 law enforcement agencies in this country, and one expert said that what we uncovered was a systemic problem.

CABRERA: And of course, the bottom line is this means no justice. This means that communities could be at risk of potential serial offenders or people who have already committed crimes and thought they got away with it.

Ashley Fantz, thank you very much for your reporting, for bringing us the latest information.

And for more on the exclusive investigation on destroyed rape kits, go to CNN.com/destroyed.

More on our breaking news. An extraordinary moment. Senators leaving a CIA briefing on the murder of a journalist say there's no doubt the Saudi crown prince was behind it. And this contradicts the Trump administration. The explosive new standoff just ahead.

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