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Trump's History of Press Intimidation; Police Officers Draw Guns Over Shoplifting; Taylor Swift's New Music Video; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 17, 2019 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:53] JOHN BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump, the businessman, and the brazen tactics he used against journalists and Wall Street analysts who dared question his wealth, all while he was drowning in debt. Former "Forbes" journalist who has covered Trump since the 1980s, Jonathan Greenberg, writes, Trump had waged a relentless, vindictive campaign to build his open myth by suppressing the facts, he'd compromised the truth-telling capacity of "Forbes" magazine, "The Wall Street Journal," TV broadcasters, Arthur Andersen and casino analysts on Wall Street.

Jonathan wrote this piece for "The Washington Post" "Outlook" section and Jonathan Greenberg joins me now.

Thank you so much for being with us.

And just for context here, and you've covered and known Donald Trump since the '80s, you are one of the people that he called and talked to when he was lying about his identity as John Barron (ph). You're that involved in this story, correct?

JONATHAN GREENBERG, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That's correct. I have two 40-minute tapes and it is a surreal experience to listen to them after 35 years.

BERMAN: Now, you have gone back -- one of the things that you did, which I find so fascinating, is you've gone back, given all we've learned now, and sort of reviewed all the journalism and reporting you were involved in for decades, and what you found is this relentless, vindictive campaign. Tell us about it.

GREENBERG: It has been really shocking and surprising. I worked for "Forbes." I started the Forbes 400 with Malcolm Forbes and was there for three years and then through the '80s worked on real estate. And I'd never known Forbes to back down from a story.

What I found as I looked over these secret letters, which were very similar to what was sent to Michael Cohen inflating his net worth, was that the editor -- an editor who wrote a story, the first story to question Trump's net worth -- question whether he was failing when -- before his bankruptcy was the subject of an investigation and of threats by Trump and bullying and the magazine backed down and changed its story and told them to say, instead of that Trump was worth below zero, that he had a network of $500 million.

And the reason they did it is because Trump was threatening to sue. And he was also threatening to expose Malcolm Forbes with some sort of outrageous lie that Trump had concocted, Malcom Forbes having died three months earlier, about Malcolm Forbes being -- bringing underage male companions into the Plaza Hotel so that they could drink and then being so mad that they weren't allowed to drink that he called Malcolm Forbes and said, I'm going to do a hatchets job and put this story and say that you're not worth as much as you are. The most outrageous story and yet it was in Trump's -- it got Forbes to change the net worth and tell the editors at the last day to change this net worth.

And that was just one, the first of five different incidents that I found.

BERMAN: And it's really interesting. And just -- you alluded to it, but you found three unpublished letters to Forbes that were intimidating and did push for this. And just so people know, the May 14, 1994, "Forbes" coverage, if you want to see the result of some of this intimidation, this was a cover then. How much is Donald Trump really worth now? But the original cover was going to be, is Trump broke? So he would do anything, anything to make sure that kind of word didn't get out there.

I mean how far would he go, Jonathan?

GREENBERG: Well, in the case of Marvin Rothman (ph), who a few -- a month or before that story came out in 1990 was a -- the leading Wall Street analyst about casinos, New Jersey casinos. Rothman said the Taj Mahal is going to have trouble making $1.3 million a day to keep profitable with all its junk bonds and all its debt. And Donald Trump called his boss and said, fire him immediately until he says that the Taj Mahal -- unless he says he made a mistake, Neil Barski (ph) at "The Wall Street Journal" misquoted him and is a liar and he meant to say the Taj Mahal is going to be the most profitable hotel casino ever.

When Rothman refused, he was fired and banned from the industry, which sent a signal to Wall Street analysts that allowed Trump in 1995 and '96 to take his companies public, after going bankrupt, raise $500 million from the stock market, $1.3 billion in junk bonds and nobody said a peep because he had silenced the truth tellers who might actually inform the public of what a failure he has been at business.

[08:35:19] BERMAN: And the tactics worked. And you noted that after all of this, his brand survived all the problems, even thrived, because he wasn't just concocting tales of his greatness, he was also forcing others to repeat them, or at least not contradict them.

Where do you see that now in politics all these years later?

GREENBERG: Truth is like kryptonite to Donald Trump and truth tellers are mortal enemies because they destroy his myth of success. Of success as a businessman, of success as a manager, of success as a president governing. The only thing Donald Trump is really good at, the only thing he's good at -- that he's not terrible or failing at is intimidating, bullying, suppressing the truth, and lying.

BERMAN: Jonathan Greenberg, thank you very much. This is a really revealing look back at decades of these tactics. Appreciate you being with us.

GREENBERG: Thank you very much for having me on.

BERMAN: Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking video out of Phoenix.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't open.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't open -- my hands are holding my babies!



HILL: Police drawing their gun on a family after their four-year-old allegedly took a doll from its store. We'll speak with the man seen in the video who is now seeking millions in damages. He joins us next.


[08:40:32] HILL: Developing this morning, the mayor of Phoenix apologizing after shocking video shows police officers shouting expletives and drawing their guns on the family after their four-year- old daughter allegedly took a doll from a local store. A bystander shot this footage.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My hands are holding my babies!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're gonna get shot!



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes! Get out now!






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm recording it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to open it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Put your hands up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't point it at my kids.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't put my hands up. I have a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) baby in my hands. I can't. I'm pregnant. Officer, he's overdoing -- you're overdoing it.


HILL: Well, the couple in that video has now filed a $10 million notice of claim against the city of Phoenix claiming the officers violated their civil rights.

Joining us now, Dravon Ames, who is in that video, along with his fiance and their children. He's joining us along with his attorney, Thomas Horne.

We appreciate you both being with us this morning.

As you have likely heard by now, the Phoenix mayor is apologizing in this post saying that she's sick over what I have seen, noted there's no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, she says, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting. She goes on to say she's deeply sorry for what you went through. She apologizes to the community saying she refuses to allow this type of behavior to go unchallenged.

Mr. Ames, have you spoken with Mayor Gallego?

DRAVON AMES: No, I haven't spoken to her.

HILL: So you haven't -- you haven't heard from her at all directly?


HILL: I know that this notice of claim, Mr. Horne, was filed last week. The city has 60 days, as I understand it, to respond. Has there been any response yet?

THOMAS HORNE, ATTORNEY FOR DRAVON AMES AND IESHA HARPER: No. And if they don't respond within 60 days, I can file my lawsuit.

One of the things that I think is sometimes missed in all of this is the amount of violence that Dravon was subjected to. The policeman pointed a gun at him, yanked him out of the car, forced him to the ground, pushed his head into the very hot asphalt pavement, hand- cuffed him too tight, yanked him up, closed the door by hitting his head against the door, lined him up against the car, kicked his knee so hard that Dravon is limping now and can't work at the warehouse where he was working, which involves physical week, punched him in the back. He was truly subject to an awful lot of violence.

And then the same thing was done to the mother. The child being yanked out of her -- attempted to be yanked out of her hands, ended up with what they call dead arm. She was pushed head first into a -- into the police car. She -- she gave her child to a stranger because she was so afraid of the police.

HILL: The police chief, we should point out, Jerry Williams, posting a video on the police department's FaceBook page said she was disturbed by the language and the actions of our office.

Mr. Ames, when you hear that, what is your reaction to both what the mayor has said and now what we've heard from the police chief?

AMES: The mayor, she seems like she's understanding what -- what took place in that incident, and the video. And the chief, it seems like she's apologizing, but halfway. It seems like she wants to protect what the officer did instead of knowing that that was just injustice, that was inappropriate and it just wasn't right. She seems like she's not fully apologizing.

HILL: The mayor is calling for a community meeting tomorrow. The police chief is expected at that meeting to take questions from the public. And we're also told that the police chief will speed up the implementation of body worn cameras.

How do you feel about that, Mr. Ames?

AMES: I feel like the body worn cameras would help a lot in the communities and those officers should have them on. And it was a lot of them that didn't have them on and a lot of them stood by and just watched. So I'm glad that there was a bystander there to record what was happening because I feel like that saved my family's life ultimately.

HILL: There are a couple of discrepancies that I'd like to clear up, if we could, between both the notice of claim and the incident report. So the notice of claim that you filed on Wednesday said this incident took place May 29th. The police department -- the police department filed no incident report, but, in fact, they did release an incident report that was filed on May 27th. So the discrepancy there, both in information and in the date, Mr. Horne. [08:45:08] HORNE: There are some minor discrepancies, but none of them

are material. They're -- they're trivial. None of them justify what happened.

You have to remember that Dravon was completely 100 percent compliant. He was concerned about his family. He didn't want any trouble that might threaten his family. So he was completely compliant, always did everything they asked. And, nevertheless, he was subject to all of this violence. Repetitive yelling of the "f" word in front of his children. All of these things cannot be justified and minor discrepancies between our notice of claim and their police report just show that they're -- that they're not willing to be honest about coming clean about what happened. But even if you took everything in the police report, it still wouldn't justify what was done.

HILL: We're going to have to leave it there, but we will continue to follow this story. Obviously not the last that we have heard of it.

Dravon Ames, Thomas Horne, appreciate you both joining us this morning. Thank you.

HORNE: Thank you.

AMES: Thank you.

HILL: John.

BERMAN: All right, moments ago, a huge cultural event that has the Internet on fire. The message inside the new Taylor Swift video. That's next.


[08:50:15] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR SWIFT, MUSICIAN (singing): Cause shade never made anybody less gay. So --


BERMAN: All right, brace yourselves, the Internet is full on bonkers this morning. Moments ago, Taylor Swift debuted a new star-studded music video for her new single "You Need to Calm Down." Watch more of this.


SWIFT: You need to just stop. Like, can you just not step on my gown? You need to calm down.


BERMAN: All right, obviously it's very political, very inclusive. First of all, she appears side by side with Katy Perry in this, which in and of itself is a --

HILL: That's a talking point, yes.

BERMAN: In and of itself would break the Internet. But the video is filled with all kinds of gay icons. You can see here, this weekend, with a performance the Stonewall gay bar. That's Jesse Ferguson, right, from --

HILL: Uh-huh.

BERMAN: Or from --

HILL: "Modern Family."

BERMAN: From "Modern Family" right there. We should note, it is, of course, pride month.

We want to talk about what all this means in the context of our society and how far we have come.

I want to bring in country music's Chely Wright, a friend. Wright revealed to the world almost 10 years ago she is gay, becoming the first openly gay country music star, it's safe to say. It was 2010. It was nine years ago. I remember it very well because we talked at the time there. And just what a big step that was. So nine years ago then. Today, arguably the biggest star in pop music is putting out an entire video.

CHELY WRIGHT, COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER: Yes. I mean Taylor Swift, what a -- what a powerhouse she is and always has been. And we in -- you know, I live in New York but I lived in Nashville for 20 years and was part of the country music establishment and still consider myself a part of that. But we claim Taylor. She's a Nashville girl. And her family is -- you know, lives there and her first records came out of Nashville.

And so for her to take that kind of public capital that she's built, not just globally, but with country music fans. A lot of country music fans buy every single record she puts out. And when she talks about inclusivity and authenticity and celebrates, you know, the diversity of who we are in the world, it's powerful. It -- it changes and saves lives.

HILL: There's sort of -- it's interesting. She's a phenomenal songwriter. She really is.

WRIGHT: I agree.

HILL: And she tackles so much. And when I first heard this song over the weekend, I was telling you, I made my kids listen to it. I said, there is so many great messages in here --


HILL: About how insane social media is.

WRIGHT: Yes. HILL: But it's far different when you see the video. And it's interesting to see her, you know, getting political ahead of the 2018 elections. Now putting out this very inclusive video.


HILL: And that is going to start a conversation about where we are as a country.

How helpful is she in that conversation?

WRIGHT: Well, it's huge. And we've watched Taylor in the past couple of years kind of roll out that muscularity of who she is. And what was it last year that she got everyone to register in Tennessee? And youth registering for -- to vote went way up because Taylor put out a link and said, you guys, go vote.

I think we will continue to see people like Taylor, superstars, flex in this time. It's a really divided time in the nation politically. And, you know, at this point, those of us in the advocacy world, we're kind of like, you're against us or you're with us. There's no more middle ground where you can just say, I love everybody. I don't judge. That's old news. You have to either say you are for the LGTBQ community or you're not.

You know, I know you guys know the stats. Ten women of color, trans women of color, have been murdered this year alone. Violence against the trans community, in particular women of color, black women, is going through the roof. And right now we -- it's time to just lock arms and stand up. Everybody has to. Straight allies, you know, LGBT people as well, we have to stand up and say it with more force than we've ever said it.

BERMAN: Just so everyone knows, we keep looking at the screens here as we have that video up because we're all seeing it for the first time.

WRIGHT: Because it's so good.

HILL: We're all seeing it for the first time.

BERMAN: It's so good.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: Also it's gotten -- I mean I just -- Ryan Reynolds was in it. I didn't see him before. I was watching the part with -- there's a full-on dance with Katy Perry, which I didn't realize before. Also --

WRIGHT: And, like you said, that is news in and of itself.

BERMAN: Yes. Yes, it really is.

WRIGHT: They're besties.

BERMAN: And every time we turn there, I see something -- and men kissing in the video right there. There's a lot going on there. And I think people will be decoding this for some time.

And, again, as we talk about this cultural relevance, Chely, I just want to go back again to a moment with you in 2010. You were, again, the first country music star to come out as gay, openly gay, and we talked about it in 2010. I think I was one of the first broadcasters you talked to. I was at ABC at the time.

WRIGHT: You were. You were.

BERMAN: And I just want people to listen to this moment and compare it to what we just saw. Listen to this.

[08:55:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WRIGHT: My truth is that I'm gay and I hid my homosexuality my entire career.

BERMAN: Chely didn't think country could handle her secret.

WRIGHT: I would read liner notes as if they were bedtime stories. Nowhere in there did I read anything about a homosexual.

WRIGHT (singing): Wishing me away.


BERMAN: First of all, it's a great song. I play that.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

BERMAN: That's on my playlist.

WRIGHT: John, we looked really good a decade ago.

BERMAN: Not so bad. That's really the only reason --

HILL: You both look even better now, just for the record.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

BERMAN: I've had a lot of work done.

But, Chely, again, to talk about the courage it took you and then now, it's just come so far.

WRIGHT: Well, I'm not going to try to tell you that I wasn't courageous, because I was. I probably -- make me seem cooler if I said, aw, shucks, it was nothing. It wasn't nothing. It was everything. I just got off the road -- just got in last night after a run in Texas and after each of my shows I always stay after and meet everybody. And without fail, dozens of people walk up to me with a well-worn book of mine and say, this book saved my life.

And when I decided to come out in 2007 and then ultimately did come out in 2010, I had a goal that my experience, my sharing my story would facilitate a little more ease and understanding for at least one person. And it's, you know, it has been really gratifying to be out.

But we do have a long way to go. We've still got young people in small town America. They're, you know, they're looking for icons like Taylor Swift to tell their parents. Hey, your kid's OK. Your kid's not just going to be OK. Your kids are going to be great.

BERMAN: And that's what's happening out there today. So thank you to Taylor Swift and that video.

Chely, thank you for everything you've done also.

WRIGHT: So good to speak. I love you both.

HILL: Thank you, Chely.

WRIGHT: So good to see you.

BERMAN: Great to see you.

HILL: The president said the polls were fake. Now his campaign has fired the pollsters.

Stay with us. CNN "NEWSROOM" is next.