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Geraldo Rivera: I'd Like to Beat Up "Rotten Snitch" Whistleblower; New Details on When the DOJ First Learned of Whistleblower's Allegations; New Season of "This Is Life" Premiers Sunday Night at 10:00 P.M.; House Intel Chair Says Hearings, Subpoenas, Depositions on Impeachment Investigation Coming Soon. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 27, 2019 - 14:30   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": But commonsensically, I say, if it was someone in the Intel Community given access to the White House, it's not like they plunked a talk radio host off street. This has to be an individual who was vetted just to get their gig and seemingly will have credibility. Although in the complaint, acknowledges much of this is hearsay, relying on the reports of others.

So I think there's a lot of testimony that needs to be taken before we really can look at evidence and know what it is. I know there's a rush. People want to weigh in and know immediately which way it cuts. I just think it's premature.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Just to your point, though, Michael, about hearsay, because we always want to be careful about, did this person actually see the phone call? No, they didn't. But when you read what the whistleblower said about the phone call it matches the memo. Almost reads as if they did read the transcript.

SMERCONISH: To your point, when you look at the whistleblower complaint, I've not heard anyone thus far say, uh-huh. Take a look at what was stated in it, and's it's incorrect. I mean, I guess Mayor Giuliani would say well they accused me of circumvention and I was circumventing anything.

But you're right. The whistleblower apparently didn't hear, see the transcript of that call. I just reread the paragraphs. They really are an uncanny match for what we did find in the transcript.


Michael, thank you so much. Michael Smerconish.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

KEILAR: And be sure to watch "Smerconish" Saturday mornings at 9:00, on CNN.

Speaker Pelosi says Attorney General Bill Barr has "gone rogue." New details about when the Justice Department first learned of the

whistleblower's allegations.



KEILAR: The timing is changing on when the Justice Department knew about the whistleblower complaint involving President Trump and his call with Ukraine's president.

Senior officials first told CNN the Justice Department learned of the allegations in the final week of August when the acting DNI reaching out to seek legal help how to proceed. The final week of August was the time the inspector general referred the matter officially to the Justice Department.

Now we learn that national security lawyers inside DOJ knew about the whistleblower's allegations more than a week before the inspector general's official referral.

The "New York Times" reports that the White House also became aware of it at that time.

I want to turn now to Mary McCord, former acting assistant attorney general for National Security. She led the early stages of the Trump/Russia probe before special counsel was appointed.

And you, Mary, are now legal director for the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center.

Thanks for joining us.


KEILAR: So, I mean, I'm curious about this timing, but first I want to ask you, just about the determination of DOJ lawyers, that this complaint did not reach the standard required to send it to Congress.

First, let's talk about the idea of this not having to do with intelligence activities. What is your read on that?

MCCORD: Well, certainly Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the Intelligence Community, felt it did fall within that definition. And certainly sometimes on difficult legal issues, reasonable minds can differ, including reasonable legal minds, including those of the Department of Justice lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel.

Those lawyers wrote the opinion that the complaint, the topic of the complaint, did not involve the funding or administration of intelligence activities. And the subject of the complaint, that being the president, was not a member of the Intelligence Community. It was a very, I would say, sort of technical reading of the words of

the statute to say that this is not something that is within DNI, is the director of National Intelligence's purview and requirement to send to Congress.

Mr. Atkinson disagreed, was persistent, and continued to ask for guidance so it could get to Congress. He felt it was important to get to Congress and asked for guidance from the director of National Intelligence on how to ensure that this report would get to Congress.

KEILAR: Does this complaint warrant a criminal investigation, in your view?

MCCORD: So reading the complaint in combination with then reading the memo that was released, I guess it was yesterday, that is sort of a rough transcript of the call, the rough transcript itself I think is indicative enough to warrant further investigation. At least based on my experience, 20 years as a federal prosecutor and three more years over at the National Security Division.

There are several, indications of several different types of crimes, not just campaign finance violations but also bribery and gratuities.

And so I was surprised to learn -- and I still have friends and colleagues I respect very, very highly at the Department of Justice and I don't want to guess what their legal rationale might have been because we haven't seen it in writing.

All we've done is heard from justice officials through their spokesperson I guess that they determined not to go further with the investigation, and that did surprise me.

KEILAR: Do you worry that those lawyers are in a tough spot here? And that they could be influenced?


MCCORD: I certainly think that there are lawyers in a tough spot at the Department of Justice. Certainly career lawyer who have made, you know, years and in many cases decades out of doing criminal investigations and doing other investigations, national security investigations.

I think that these people are of utmost integrity and would stick by their viewpoints. But ultimately the report went up within the chain to political appointees and so the political appointees do ultimately have the final say on matters like this.

KEILAR: Very good point.

Mary McCord, thank you so much.

MCCORD: Thank you.

KEILAR: President Trump making threatening comments and accusing the whistleblower of treason. We're going to talk about the impact his war on U.S. intelligence agencies will have on U.S. national security.

Also, Joe Biden, one of the president's targets here, says President Trump is trying to hijack and election.



KEILAR: This Sunday Lisa Ling is back with an all-new season of "THIS IS LIFE," and in the first episode, taking it on another taboo topic, online pornography. Lisa looks how digital porn is addicting watchers and distort distorting an entire generation.


LING (voice-over): Porn addiction isn't a medically recognized disease but hundreds of thousands claim it is real and turning to these sites.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People from every continent across the planet. Impacts Christians, atheists, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans. If you're a human being and have access to the Internet, you can absolutely get addicted to porn.

LING: Alex is emphatic it can happen to anyone, and 95 percent of abusers are men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does happen to young men more often than any other group I would say. I think the most vulnerable demographic is males between the ages of 8 to 14.


KEILAR: Lisa Ling joining me now from New York.

Lisa that is -- I don't even know what to say about that, eight to 14 males. That is so young.

LISA LING, CNN HOST, "THIS IS LIFE": We interviewed a group of young men and they all said the first time they were exposed to pornography is when they were 8 years old.

Even if your child doesn't have a device in his or her possession if they have access to one, which most kids do these days, there's a possibility even if you have really stringent filters on your devices, that they will be able to access pornography.

As you saw, if you just put a couple of words into Google they don't even have to be particularly lascivious words. It's sometimes shocking what comes up and if a kid is unable to process that.

If this is the first time they're seeing images of sex, it could affect them for the rest of their lives.

KEILAR: And's pornography's been around for so long, but there's something about this age, this age that we're in, this information age, that is making this such an exponentially bigger problem.

LING: There's just so much out there and it's so accessible. At the tip of our fingertips we can access an unlimited amount of information. That's the thing.

In this critical stage of life, critical stage of brain development, it can really alter how young people perceive sex and even relationships, the opposite sex, the same sex, based on what they've been exposed to.

And so parents need to really wake up and start to think about having conversations with their kids.

You know, we interview an adult film star in our episode and she's on a mission to tell people that what they're seeing is adult entertainment. And when you click on this stuff, you don't see that before cameras started rolling, there was a negotiation about comfortability, about consent.

And so we as parents, our culture, we need to educate kids how to be more literate about porn.

KEILAR: Working to correct the negative perceptions that porn spreads. So I know that is something that really we're going to want to tune in to and see. I'm curious to see what they said.


I do want to ask, this is one of the projects you've been working on. What else do you have in store for this season?

LING: Like every other season, we have a hugely diverse pallet of shows this season. Our second episode is about a class of doctor prescribed medications, benzodiazepine. They include valium. And if you haven't taken these drugs, you probably know someone who does or has been taking them for long periods of time.

And these are medications, if taken improperly, taken for an extended period of time, could do some very serious damage, and they could be very, very dangerous. So I hope people tune in for that.

We also embed with Marines and profile female Marines going through training alongside male counterparts. And we embed with the NYPD Counterterrorism Department to see how terrorism evolved over the years.

KEILAR: Really pulling back the curtain.

Lisa Ling, thank you for joining us.

We'll check out your new season, "THIS IS LIFE," premiering at 10:00 p.m. only here on CNN.

A 12-year-old Virginia girl says is traumatized after three of her white classmates pinned her down and cut some of her dreadlocks off.







UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. And then the back of it was in the middle of her back, and they cut all of these.


KEILAR: Fairfax County police say they are now investigating this attack against Amari Allen that happened Monday at Emanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Allen is a sixth grader who knows the three boys who approached her on the school's playground.


AMARI ALLEN, ATTACK & HAIR CUT BY OTHER STUDENTS: One of them pulled my hands behind my back, one put their hands over my mouth and one cut my hair.

So they were saying, like, my hair was ugly, nappy. They were saying I don't deserve to live. I shouldn't have been born. Along those lines.

I was feeling pretty traumatized but I felt compassion for them because I felt from think point of view something happened to them that made them want to do this.

CYNTHIA ALLEN, GRANDMOTHER OF AMARI ALLEN: I'm devastated, because, number one, I didn't know that these things still exist. We are in 2019. They attacked her as who God created her to be, as a young lady of color.


KEILAR: School officials say that all of the students involved, including Allen, are not attending classes during this investigation. The school says it is "deeply disturbed by the allegations," adding Emanuel has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and abuse.

The Vice President Mike Pence's wife, Karen, teaches art there at that school. Something that garnered national attention early when it was, revealed the school has a policy banning gay students and parents.

More on our special coverage of this scandal engulfing the White House, including new reporting on who inside the administration wanted the president's call moved to a more secure system. Plus, who could be legally exposed in all of this? Intel Chairman

Adam Schiff says subpoenas are coming soon.



KEILAR: We are learning more now about the timeline for the impeachment investigation. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff is moving quickly. He's now talking about hearings, subpoenas, depositions that will be coming soon.

I want to get right to Capitol Hill and senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.

Manu, when can we expect these things?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very soon. Adam Schiff told me today he wants to move, in his words, "as expeditiously as possible."

I asked, do you plan to have a hearing next week. He said, we are planning on having a hearing next week. And he also said expect subpoenas to come out. And also said expect to bring witnesses forward for depositions.

A lot of it depends on how witnesses cooperate. We've seen House Republicans, trying to get the administration to comply with document requests.

I asked, how will you deal with potential stonewalling from the White House. Could be more evidence of obstruction of the Congress and began impeachment for President Nixon and could potentially be for President Trump.

He plans to push forward quickly. And when Congress is on recess, the House Intelligence Committee in session.

A number of members plan to cancel their events in their districts to come back for what could be a very eventful couple of weeks, including potentially interviewing the whistleblower, potentially bringing others forward who may have witnessed how that whistleblower complaint was handled.

The question ultimately will be, what did they glean and how quickly they will move. Democrats want to move on articles of impeachment sometime this fall -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Real quick, did he name names?

RAJU: I asked specifically. He declined to comment.


KEILAR: All right, Manu, thank you. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.