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Ronan Farrow Says National Enquirer Shredded Trump-Related Documents; Former Fort Worth Police Officer Charged With Murder; Turkish President Erdogan Says Syrian Operation Aimed At Eliminating Terror Threat. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired October 15, 2019 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: In his new book, Ronan Farrow details for the first time just how far the "National Enquirer" and its parent company, American Media, Inc., went to protect Donald Trump before the 2016 election.
Joining us now is Ronan Farrow. His new book is "Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and Conspiracy to Protect Predators." It is out today. Ronan, great to have you here.
RONAN FARROW, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER AND CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER, AUTHOR, "CATCH AND KILL: LIES, SPIES, AND CONSPIRACY TO PROTECT PREDATORS": Always good to be here, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: The book is such a page-turner. It reads like a suspense novel.
FARROW: Thank you, thank you. People are saying that but, you know, actually, what I take away from that is some of these underhanded cloak and dagger tactics should be reserved for suspense novels and not thrown at the free presses.
CAMEROTA: Well, and one of the things that I appreciate and I think the people outside of our business will appreciate is all of the legwork that goes into reporting a story before it is on air or before it is in print, and you spell that out.
Let's start with one of the biggest revelations in the book and one that you are only now at liberty to talk about this morning, and that is this safe of secrets. We had heard rumors that the "National Enquirer" and/or its parent company, AMI, had a safe of secrets where they kept stories on Donald Trump, who was then a candidate.
Let me read what you write in the book about this.
"In June 2016, Dylan Howard" -- who is the "National Enquirer" editor -- "had compiled a list of the dirt about Trump accumulated in AMI's archives, dating back decades. After the election, Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, requested all the
tabloid empire's materials about the new president. There was an internal debate. Some were starting to realize that surrendering it all would create a legally problematic paper trail and resisted.
Nevertheless, Howard and senior staff ordered the material that wasn't already in the small safe exhumed from storage bins in Florida and sent to AMI headquarters. When the reporting material arrived, it was first placed in the little safe and then, as the political temperature about the magazine's relationship with the president turned white-hot, in a bigger one in the office of human resources.
It was only later, when one of the employees who had been skeptical started getting jumpy and went to check, that they found something amiss. The list of Trump dirt did not match up with the physical files. Some of the material had gone missing."
What happened to those files?
FARROW: So this is a book about patterns of abuses of power, including in the media world, and obviously, one of the great political stories for the last several years -- "The Wall Street Journal" has done great reporting on this, I broke several stories about this -- has been the collaboration between powerful men and media outlets and especially, the "National Enquirer" and Donald Trump.
And there are these new revelations in "Catch and Kill" about Donald Trump's collaboration with the "Enquirer" during the election, so this list was made. We, for the first time in this book -- reporters hadn't seen this before -- saw the complete contents of that list.
CAMEROTA: I can't wait to get to that. You, with your own eyes, have seen the content list of what the dirt was over decades for Donald Trump.
But first, before we get to the content, what happened to those files -- the ones that --
FARROW: Patience, Alisyn.
Yes -- no, that's exactly right. And in addition to seeing this list and the fact that it existed, which is material to these criminal investigations that have played out around this, we also document multiple source documented accounts of a destruction of evidence before the election.
CAMEROTA: They were shredded.
FARROW: There is an incident in the days before the 2016 election where we have employees saying that Dylan Howard, this senior AMI official, ordered documents to be removed from a safe and shredded.
CAMEROTA: OK. So now, tell us what was on that list. What was in that safe?
FARROW: So, you know, as with so many AMI stories, the story is about the process. The story is about the collaboration between Trump and this outlet and whether it violated election law. Obviously, AMI has signed a non-prosecution agreement admitting to potential violations of election law.
The actual contents of a lot of the stories they buried were either dubious, maybe not true. I broke that story about Donald Trump potentially having a love child, which was a story they bought -- paid a lot of money to get to -- not even clear if it's true.
CAMEROTA: And then stuffed it in a safe.
So in this case, very much a similar situation. The contents of this list are not the headline. There were about five affairs discussed on it, some of them which have become public, some of them not.
CAMEROTA: OK, so five affairs were in the --
FARROW: Right, consensual affairs that are described.
CAMEROTA: And that was in the safe, OK.
FARROW: All sorts of trivial items about feuds of various kinds over the years. You know, this was a list called "Donald Trump Killed" or something similar, and I'm not going to use the exact language to protect sources and methods here, but it was about stories that have been killed and reporting material that was sitting in a vault.
There was one headline about an alleged sexual assault, which was the Jill Harth case which has become public.
CAMEROTA: From 1997, just to remind people. This is a woman who said that she was sexually assaulted in an attempted rape by Donald Trump. She told people about it but nothing ever came of it. And you're saying that was in the file -- in the safe.
FARROW: Exactly right.
So I want to be clear. The headline here is not that there is some super-secret piece of evidence that is on that list document. Now, we don't know the exact universe of what was destroyed, either.
CAMEROTA: OK, here's what AMI says about this and about you.
"Mr. Farrow's narrative is driven by unsubstantiated allegations from questionable sources. And while these stories may be dramatic, they are completely untrue."
FARROW: I'll let the reporting in the book stand on its own. We're extremely confident in it and those denials are included very clearly in the book. It's very fair, it's very meticulously fact-checked. CAMEROTA: So just on a larger note, quickly, damaging information that could have been helpful to voters during the 2016 election was stored in a safe and/or killed by the "National Enquirer." And just quickly, wouldn't it have helped them sell magazines if they'd put that out? Why did they do that?
FARROW: Well, this is one of the curious narratives of that election cycle, that the "Enquirer" became an attack dog for Donald Trump. They have admitted that this was a coordinated collaboration, not only killing stories but also actively going after leads to try to buy and bury them. That is where the term "catch and kill" comes from.
And, Alisyn, this book actually, in addition to stories you might have heard about in the news -- this Playboy model, Karen McDougal that I reported on, Stormy Daniels -- we actually document a brand-new case of catch and kill in which there was an attempt that didn't quite go through but it's an interesting saga involving an allegation -- again, unclear whether it's true -- about Trump and Epstein that AMI sent reporters after.
Here is what Dylan Howard's lawyer says about this. So this was the editor at the "National Enquirer."
Quote, "We have advised Mr. Howard to make no further comment at this stage while all legal options and jurisdictions are being considered."
FARROW: It's obviously been a significant story in the last few weeks that Dylan Howard has done a lot of saber-rattling, as he has around each of my "New Yorker" articles on this subject, and has actually threatened booksellers around the world using a legal team that he's retained in just about every region if they carry this book.
In Australia, several retailers have pulled this book from sales -- a big bestseller here in the United States that started an important conversation about press freedom. And you see how fragile press freedom is when you see a book like this getting yanked from sale because of a spurious threat from a tabloid editor.
CAMEROTA: OK. There's all sorts of other revelations in the book beyond what you've just described, including everything that's happening at NBC and Matt Lauer. So we will get to that in our next segment with you next hour.
Thank you, stick around --
FARROW: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: -- please, Ronan.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I've literally been looking through your notes on the book and your copy of the book while you've been talking there. Wow, is there a lot in there. All right, a big update overnight on the white police officer who opened fire, killing a black woman inside her home. We have a live report from Texas as we hear from the victim's father for the first time.
BERMAN: New this morning, a former Fort Worth, Texas police officer is now charged with murder. Aaron Dean was arrested for the deadly shooting of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson inside her home. Dean abruptly quit the force Monday before he could be fired.
This morning, we're hearing new reaction from Jefferson's heartbroken father.
CNN's Omar Jimenez live in Fort Worth, Texas with the very latest here. Omar, tell us what you've learned.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. At this point, it is unclear if Aaron Dean was arrested by either a Fort Worth police officer or if he turned himself in. But he did post a $200,000 bail yesterday evening just a few hours after being arrested and charged with murder.
For the family of Atatiana Jefferson, it's a start but they say they want him prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Less than three days after Atatiana Jefferson was killed in the bedroom of her own home, the officer who police say fired the shot --
ED KRAUS, INTERIM POLICE CHIEF, FORT WORTH POLICE DEPARTMENT: Aaron Dean, I.D. 4598, was the officer who responded to the call and fired the shot that killed Atatiana.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Aaron Dean, now charged with murder.
But for the family of Jefferson, justice is still a long way off.
MARQUIS JEFFERSON, FATHER OF ATATIANA JEFFERSON: Senseless. My daughter was 28 years old. Had her whole life in front of her.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): The family's lawyer, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, tweeting, "The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested and charged with murder. We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution and appropriate sentencing."
ADARIUS CARR, BROTHER OF ATATIANA JEFFERSON: I'm watching the video. I don't understand -- there's no way to go in thinking that you have to shoot someone every time you're on a call. JIMENEZ (voice-over): The call was for what was supposed to be a simple welfare check. A neighbor was concerned about open doors so he called the non-emergency line.
CALLER: Well, the front doors have been open since 10:00 and I haven't seen anybody moving around. It's not normal for them to have both of the doors open this time of night.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Police released edited body camera footage showing the responding officers moving through Jefferson's property in the dark with a flashlight. No announcement that officers were outside the window.
Then, Dean quickly approaches a window with his gun drawn, yelling, and within seconds firing a single fatal shot.
AARON DEAN, FORT WORTH POLICE OFFICER CHARGED WITH MURDER: Put your hands up. Show me your hands.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Atatiana Jefferson was killed as her 8-year-old nephew in the room watched.
AMBER CARR, SISTER OF ATATIANA JEFFERSON: The first thing he told me was he was sad. And I asked him why was he sad and he told me because the police had killed his -- had shot his aunt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody looked at that video and said there's any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Now, Dean is charged with murdering Atatiana Jefferson, killed less than 10 minutes after that initial call for a welfare check in the bedroom of her own home.
JIMENEZ: Now, at Monday's afternoon press conference, interim police chief Ed Kraus said he expected to have a substantial update to their investigation into Dean no later than today, and that's something we'll be looking for at a press conference scheduled for later this morning -- John.
BERMAN: All right, we'll wait to hear that from you. Omar, thank you very much for your reporting.
A calamity unfolding that some accuse the president of allowing to happen. In just one week, a military debacle, a humanitarian crisis after the U.S. pulls back in Syria. We have a live report from the ground, next.
BERMAN: Developing this morning, Turkey's president is keeping up the pressure on the border with Syria, claiming that the goal is to eliminate what he calls the terror threat and to return millions of Syrian refugees over the border.
This comes at President Trump is calling now for a ceasefire and is dispatching, at some point, he says, Vice President Mike Pence to the region.
CNN's Arwa Damon is live at the Syrian-Turkish border where the impact of the decision the president made one week ago is all too visible -- Arwa.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is because that is what paved the way for Turkey's incursion into Syria.
And now, despite the fact that the U.S. has slapped these sanctions onto Turkey, that's not had any sort of impact when it comes to Turkey's ambitions with this operation, which is to clear the safe zone and then potentially resettle upwards of two million Syrian refugees living in Turkey inside Syria.
That being said, with the dramatic developments that saw the Kurds then turn to the regime of Bashar al-Assad for assistance, the movement of Bashar al-Assad's forces up to northern Syria, an area that they haven't been in in years -- that has caused some to voice their concern for yet another possible flashpoint between the Syrian government's forces and the forces on the ground that are being backed by Turkey.
Russia, though, is the one who, right now, is stepping into the middle of that possible confrontation. America has all but lost its leverage when it comes to Syria. Right now, this is Russia's game. Russia is the playmaker and Russia is also the kingmaker.
And this, of course, has infuriated U.S. forces who battled alongside Kurdish forces in the war against ISIS in Syria. It has absolutely gutted them that they have had to withdraw and leave the Kurds to fend for themselves.
And when you talk to the Kurds, they say that they recognize that there is a difference between the U.S. civilian population and between U.S. forces and the decisions that are coming out of the White House.
But when you look at the way all of this is unfolding and what America is doing, it really feels as if all of the other players are focusing on a multidimensional game of chess while America is still staring at a checkers board.
CAMEROTA: Arwa, it is very helpful to have your perspective there on the ground for us. Thank you very much.
So, the chaos and the death toll on the Turkey-Syria border is only going up, and so is the amount of disinformation coming from the White House.
John Avlon has our reality check. So, John, explain the discrepancy here. JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You've got war and peace, life and death, and that's the power of the presidency. And that's what we're seeing in Syria right now where President Trump's impulsive order to remove U.S. troops after a call with Turkey's autocrat is causing chaos and slaughter.
And, as David Sanger points out, it has "...given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government, and the Islamic State."
Who could have seen this coming? Basically, anyone who was paying attention except, apparently, President Trump. And so faced with the real time consequences of his actions, President Trump's defaulting to his comfort zone, a pattern of disinformation.
Trump's initial tweetstorm might have fooled the faithful but not so much as former special envoy on ISIS, Brett McGurk, who tweeted, quote, "Mr. President, with all due respect, none of this is true. I'd recommend having meetings with your experts and policy team before making historical life or death decisions."
Now, "none of this is true" might sound a bit like a blanket statement -- kind of harsh -- but let's break it down.
Now, Trump claimed the U.S. troops were initially supposed to be in Syria for just 30 days. Well, because video exists, let's go back to the 2015 White House press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GARRETT, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CBS NEWS: How long will they stay in Syria?
JOSH EARNEST, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, Major, we've been quite candid about the fact that this is not a short-term proposition.
GARRETT: Up to 50 or less than 50. We'll stay there for an open- ended period of time.
EARNEST: I don't -- I don't have a specific date to give you when they will come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: You got that? No time line.
OK, well how about President Trump's statement that the U.S., quote, "defeated 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate, including capturing thousands of ISIS fighters mostly from Europe." Well, to start with, most of the captured ISIS fighters are from Iraq and Syria, not Europe, so that's a big no.
And while it's true that almost 100 percent of the caliphate has been recaptured, thanks to a military operation that began under Obama and culminated under Trump, there are still thousands of ISIS fighters on the ground.
Don't believe me? Just ask Sen. Lindsey Graham.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The biggest lie being told by the administration [is] that ISIS is defeated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: I'm not sure it's the biggest lie, but how about this definitive statement from President Trump on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have no soldiers in Syria. We've won -- we beat ISIS and we beat them badly and decisively. We have no soldiers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: No, that's wasn't true. The Pentagon confirmed to CNN the U.S. still had about 1,000 troops in Syria as of last month.
Then over the weekend, the Secretary of Defense announced the president had ordered him to remove all troops from Syria.
So, U.S. policy, again, shifted around the president's impulses, which brings me to another line we've heard from the president and his surrogates that the troops needed to leave could wind up stuck in the crossfire. That the Turks weren't going in until Trump made his move, pulling troops from a border that was relatively stable until late last week.
And finally, in a classic arsonist-term firefighter move, now, President Trump has pulled the trigger on U.S. sanctions, which he'd previously bragged would destroy Turkey's economy.
With apologies to Cool Hand Luke, what we've got here is failure to communicate, not just between the president and his military advisers or between the U.S. and our allies, but between the people and their president because we saw this past week while the Kurds die, the president lies.
And that's your reality check.
BERMAN: And, John, I think as you correctly point, what we just saw from Arwa Damon on the ground and what we heard from you, this has all happened after a decision and maybe because of a decision --
BERMAN: -- the president made.
AVLON: Correct, 100 percent.
CAMEROTA: John, thank you very much.
And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Kristie Lu Stout is next.
And to our U.S. viewers, Democrats in Washington investigate the Ukrainian controversy while candidates hit the debate stage. NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fiona Hill telling lawmakers about her concerns with Rudy Giuliani's shadow foreign policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At what point might we see Rudy Giuliani arrested?
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY): The Democrats should provide Republicans and the president exactly what they would insist if the roles were reversed.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": A dozen Democrats face high stakes in the biggest primary debate stage ever.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Biden seems to have sort of plateaued, if not taking a bit of a dip.
GLORIA BORGE, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Bernie Sanders is going to be important to watch. At some point, he and Elizabeth Warren are going to have to get into it a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
BERMAN: All right, good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, October 15th. It's 8:00 in the East.
And breaking overnight, major new developments in the impeachment investigation. A former White House insider describing what she calls a shadow foreign policy -- a rogue effort to personally benefit President Trump.
Overnight, CNN learned that former Russia adviser Fiona Hill told Congress she witnessed wrongdoing -- witnessed wrongdoing inside the White House regarding Ukraine. In fact, Hill and former national security adviser John Bolton were so alarmed they reported their concerns to a White House lawyer. Bolton compared the push to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats to, quote, "a drug deal."
Hill also told lawmakers Bolton was furious about Rudy Giuliani's politically-motivated activities in Ukraine, referring to him as a, quote, "hand grenade that's going to blow everybody up." Pretty vivid languages there, yes?
CAMEROTA: That's colorful -- that's colorful language, yes. BERMAN: "The Washington Post" reports investigators are now weighing whether to question John Bolton, himself.
CAMEROTA: There's also some more breaking news.
Hunter Biden speaking out just moments ago. The son of the former vice president tells ABC News he used, quote, "poor judgment" in serving on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, but he insists he did nothing improper.