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CNN This Morning

Haley Seizes on CNN Poll; Kenny Jacoby is Interviewed about the Michigan State Harassment Investigation; Nation Observes 22nd Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 08:30   ET



EVA MCKEND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who are encouraged by this polling data. And what we've seen is her on the campaign trail really seizing on this. This notion that she may be the best one to confront President Biden in a general election.

But context is really key here. She still lags far behind Trump in support among Republican voters, well behind DeSantis as well in many polls. But her messaging has been consistent. She has long argued that there is a need for a new generation of leadership. That it is time for folks to pass the baton here. And she's been out for months sounding this alarm.

She was the first person, of course, to announce her candidacy after Trump. She maintains a majority of Americans don't want to see this rematch between Trump and Biden.

And, Poppy, something that I've heard in recent days that has caught my ear, she's doubled down on her hawkish foreign policy position. She's called China the enemy in that interview with our colleague, Jake Tapper. I'm curious to see if that resonates with primary voters since we've seen a growing number of conservative voters really favor a more isolationist view.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Eva, can I ask you, another issue that the ambassador weighed in on was Tommy Tuberville, the senator from Alabama, who has these holds on hundreds of flag officers in the United States Senate right now. What did she have to say?

MCKEND: Well, to be clear, there's just one man, Senator Tuberville, you know, holding up this process. She was a little bit wishy-washy on this particular answer. She immediately started blasting the abortion travel reimbursement policy and didn't seem to have a huge appetite to take on the senator directly. She argued that Democrats should vote person-by-person to advance these promotions.

Let's take a listen.


NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not saying Senator Tuberville is right in doing this because I don't want to use them as pawns. But if you love our military, if you are so adamant about it, then go and make Congress, Republicans and Democrats, have to go through person by person.


MCKEND: So, she seems more interested in attacking the Department of Defense than the intransigence of Senator Tuberville.

Poppy. Phil.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, a very important point to make.

Eva McKend, thanks very much.

MATTINGLY: Well, Michigan State Head Football Coach Mel Tucker has been suspended without pay following accusations of sexual harassment. We'll speak to the investigative reporter who broke this story, coming up next.

HARLOW: And a new development in the case against the former president of the Spanish Soccer Federation following weeks of fierce criticism after he kissed a player without her consent. That's next.



HARLOW: Spanish Soccer Federation President Luis Rubiales has resigned. This follows weeks of intense backlash after an unsolicited kiss of one of Spain's female soccer stars, Jenni Hermoso. That was during the Women's World Cup celebration last month. Rubiales said the kiss was consensual. Hermoso said it was not. He could also face some other very serious consequences after a Spanish prosecutor has filed a complaint of sexual assault and coercion against him.

MATTINGLY: Well, Michigan State has suspended its head football coach, Mel Tucker, without pay as it investigates allegations of sexual harassment. Allegations made by a rape survivor and victim's advocate, Brenda Tracy. The coach told investigators, quote, "Ms. Tracy's distortion of our mutually consensual and intimate relationship into allegations of sexual exploitation has really affected me. I am not proud of my judgment, and I am having difficulty forgiving myself for getting into this situation, but I did not engage in misconduct by any definition."

The investigation into these allegations was first reported by our next guest, Kenny Jacoby, an investigative reporter for "USA Today." He joins us now.

Kenny, thank you for joining us.

I want to start with, you know, the suspension yesterday came in the wake of your reporting. What's your sense of why nothing happened to Mel Tucker, the head coach, before this became public, because of your work? KENNY JACOBY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "USA TODAY": Yes, these are very

complicated situations. This case has been going on for about nine months now. And the university did face a lot of criticism yesterday for its decision to suspend Mel Tucker only after the allegations became public.

However, you know, it is complicated. If the school were to have suspended him at the onset of the investigation, they do risk potentially drawing attention to the case, which is not always what victims in these sorts of cases want.

HARLOW: The context of this also comes with the fact that you have a number -- Larry Nasser, and having previously worked there, et cetera. And so given that context, I thought it was notable that the interim president, Teresa Woodruff, said, quote, "this morning's news," meaning what you broke, "sounds like the MSU of old. It was not." And she went on to say, "it is not the same because an independent, unbiased investigation is and continues to be conducted."

What is your response, given all your reporting, hearing that?

JACOBY: Yes, you know, there is deep mistrust on the MSU campus, from students, from employees, from alumni and in the East Lansing community after the betrayal that was the Larry Nasser scandal. And, you know, they repeatedly missed opportunities to stop one of the most prolific sexual abusers in American history. And so, you know, these -- when MSU takes this long to suspend the coach without pay, people tend to think of that as, they're covering this up. And that doesn't sit well with most of these people.

MATTINGLY: I think the date that everybody's pointing to right now is October 5th. I think that's when there's going to be hearing. What's -- what are the stakes at that hearing? What do we expect from that hearing?

JACOBY: Yes, so they're going to be -- both sides, Mel Tucker and Brenda Tracy will have the opportunity to make arguments, prevent evidence, question witnesses. And the crux of the investigations are that Mel Tucker, during a phone call in April 2022, made sexual comments and masturbated without Tracy's consent. And so, at this hearing there will be a neutral hearing officer who will listen to the evidence, and, at the end of it, make a determination as to whether Mel Tucker violated the school's sexual harassment policies.


There's a lot at stake for both sides here. For Mel Tucker, he, two years ago, signed one of the most lucrative coaching contracts in U.S. history, a ten-year, $95 million deal. It came fully guaranteed unless he is fired for cause. And so if he is fired for cause after this, he could lose out on the potentially $80 million left on his deal.

Meanwhile, Brenda Tracy, you know, has a career in advocacy. She runs a non-profit called Set The Expectation. Her career entails traveling the country to athletic departments and professional and college and high school teams and educating athletes and coaches about sexual violence. And the way that Mel Tucker has portrayed her in this case as somebody who files false reports and who mixes personal and professional relationships with coaches could be very damaging to that reputation. And so she really fears that he will undo her legacy.

MATTINGLY: Yes. There's a lot to watch going forward as Brenda Tracy was an honorary captain at the spring game -- we were just showing that photo -- last year, I believe. This was really important work for you to bring this forward and certainly we'll be following it with you as the weeks ahead continue.

Kenny Jacoby, "USA Today," thanks so much.

JACOBY: Thank you.

HARLOW: Ahead for us, a former Secret Service agent with new details on the assassination of JFK. We have some of that reporting ahead.

MATTINGLY: And today marks 22 years since the September 11th terrorist attacks have changed a nation and the world. A look at where the war on terror stands. That's ahead.



MATTINGLY: We're showing you live images right now of Ground Zero as New York City is about to observe a moment of silence marking the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks and the moment the first plane hit the north tower.

Let's listen in.

Joining us now is CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller.

John, as we watch all this play out and you think of what a poignant and formative moment, not just this today, but also 22 years ago, in so many people's lives, despite the fact it's more than two decades ago, it was also extraordinarily -- it changed the face of counterterrorism. It changed the face of law enforcement, of homeland security.

Do you think that change has been effective?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I know it has, because I know what it was before. You know, I sat in a cave with Osama bin Laden in 1998 for an hour where he described declaring war on America. He predicted a black day for America after which the states would no longer be united. He said we would understand the meaning of this when we were bringing the bodies in boxes and coffins in our shameful defeat. So, that was the thing that led up to what we call the intelligence failure of 9/11. We needed to see that coming.

Since then you've seen the formulation, as the secretary told you earlier today, of the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, the change in the culture of the FBI to not just figure out who did it, but make sure it didn't happen in the first place. A tremendous challenge. So, it's changed markedly.

Our big risk is to not fall back to where we were before because that failure would be bureaucratic in form, but human in nature, when people just start to compete, collaborate less, you know, seed credit, allow the dots not to get connected because they're keeping them from each other. And that's always going to be a fight.

HARLOW: We remember what former President Obama said ten years ago about the war on terror. This was him in 2013. Let's listen.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (May 23, 2013): We must define our effort, not as a boundless global war on terror, but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America. In many cases, this will involve partnerships with other countries.


HARLOW: What effect has that had in the ten years after we heard him say that?

MILER: You know, that was the president talking to the defense university about the shape and future of war. And I think his message was, in the war on terrorism, it's not one country's uniform's on another country's royal (ph) fighting other uniforms. This is an intelligence-led war that has to be guided by precision strikes. That means more intelligence, more use of defined special forces and strategic hits. The idea of sending the big green machine, you know, to take over a whole country, I think we've learned in the last two or three instances, has been expensive, costly, in terms of treasure, but, more importantly, blood, and with results that have been uncertain.


We were able to dismantle al Qaeda and ISIS through precision strikes and capture.

MATTINGLY: When you look back, you know, kind of to that exact point. When you look at the military operations that followed the 9/11 attacks, when you look at the cost in terms of blood, in terms of treasure, not just Americans but worldwide, do you think the right lessons were learned from that experience, kind of to your point, in terms of operationally?

MILLER: I think what we learned is, in war today victory doesn't look like what it used to. It's hard to define what it looks like. In the -- in the old model somebody came with a sheet of paper and a form of surrender and it was signed by everybody and we went forward.

In this case we're talking about wars that went on longer than any other wars in history. We are talking about victory, which, you know, you invade Afghanistan to rout al Qaeda and the Taliban and you leave with the Taliban in control again and al Qaeda able to regain sanctuary. I think that's a lot of what President Obama was trying to say, which is, those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it. And we've got to study our history and adjust our future.

HARLOW: John, just because we have you at the table, and given your role here in New York City before you were one of our colleagues, I just want to give you a moment to reflect on this day, this city and where we have come since then.

MILLER: You know, I drive by there all the time. And you can't go by there without reliving a piece of that day. But I was also there on Saturday, Sunday, with 9/11 victims' families reflecting on the past and what's needed for those victims. But also, you know, Rob Casain (ph), from the FBI, he was a bond trader on 9/11, destined to live a life and make a lot of money.


MILLER: He is the head of counterterrorism today at the FBI's New York office. Rebecca Whiner (ph) had come out of Harvard and Harvard Law. She's in my old job as deputy commissioner for counterterrorism and intelligence. You saw Terri Tobin, the chief in the NYPD, talking about swearing in the children of people -- cops who died on 9/11, children who weren't born yet -

HARLOW: Right.

MILLER: When their fathers and mothers died. So, we see probably the largest since Pearl Harbor of a move towards service, sacrifice, dedication, to make sure that that history is not repeated. And it was inspiring, again.

HARLOW: And the voices of those children, as our colleague on the ground, Brynn, told us earlier, reading some of the names today as they - as they are honored and remembered. And -- go ahead.

MATTINGLY: I was just going to ask, you know, with that in mind, you think constantly, you know, generationally how many people moved towards service and the way -- how many people's life's decisions were made on that day or in the days following that day in terms of their paths.

What concerns you in terms of this new generation, since those (ph) 21-year-old's who weren't alive when this happened.

MILLER: So, that's interesting. You know, in the NYPD, I started out with a team that had survived 9/11 and knew what they were fighting for. And then, over time -- you know, today in the NYPD, 6 percent of the police officers and analysts who were there were there on 9/11. That means the largest percent know it from the history books but not as a life experience. And yet, when I talk to those young analysts, when I see the cases they're working on, when I see the hours they put in and why, they still know what we're fighting for.

HARLOW: I was thinking about all of the families that all of us have through the years had the honor of meeting and reporting on and the ways that they have honored the lives of those they lost. Today I always think about a couple, Liz and Steve Alderman, whose son was killed and the foundation they went on to create and how they dedicated their life to that work ever since they lost their child and pouring that trauma into something to make the world a better place. I mean, that is also the history of 9/11 that we hold on to so closely.

MILLER: You know, spending the weekend with Mary and Frank Fetchet, who lost their son -


MILLER: Who was working in the building that day, and started the Voices of 9/11, which is not "the voices of 9/11," it's just the "Voices." It's for victims, because they realized that people in trauma and loss are going to need what they've learned from this tragedy.


And so when the Newtown school massacre happened, they brought their group together and reached out to those parents and said, we've been where you are, not exactly the same place but the same feelings and here's how we can help. It's a legacy that has just taken people to make sure that those who died from the effects of working in the rescue effort on the pile, and others, are taken care of by the government and not forgotten.

MATTINGLY: Not forgotten.

We really appreciate hearing your time, your remembrances, as we continue to throughout the course of this day.

John Miller, thank you.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my father, Jon Leslie Albert. He was a great man, filled the room with his presence, missed by those who knew him. And one other thing I want to say. The median age of all the names I read -