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Ex-Intel Official Defends Controversial Trump-Russia Dossier; Affidavits: Murdaugh Took $3M Meant For Late Housekeeper's Family; Missing Alabama Woman Found Dead Inside Of A Police Van; Best-Selling Authors Detail Real Experiences Of ER Nurses; General Colin Powell Dies At 84 Of Covid Complications. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 18, 2021 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A new documentary out this morning features a new interview with Christopher Steele. He's the former British intelligence officer who was standing behind his unverified dossier that claims the Russians had compromising information on former President Trump including a secret tape which was never verified.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Most of the world first heard your name about five years ago, but you stayed silent. Up until now why speak out now?

CHRISTOPHER STEELE, FMR BRITISH INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: I think there are several reasons. I think the first and most important is that the problems we identified back in 2016 haven't gone away and arguably who actually got worse, and I felt it was important to come and set the record straight.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of your main collectors he spoke the Inspector General said, that especially the compromise was word of mouth and hearsay conversations with friends over beers. It was just talk.

STEELE: If you have a confidential source and that confidential source is blow noise uncovered, that confidential source will often take fright and try and downplay and underestimate what they've said and done. And I think that's probably what happened here.


STEELE: I think anybody that's named in this contact, particularly if they're Russian has every reason to be afraid.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you stand by the dossier?

STEELE: I stand by the work we did, the sources that we had, and the professionalism which we apply to it. STEPHANOPOULOS: And today, do you still believe that that tape exists?

STEELE: I think it probably does, but I wouldn't put 100% certainty on it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you explain if that tape does indeed exist, it hasn't been released.

STEELE: Why hasn't needed to be released?


STEELE: Because I think the Russians felt they've got pretty good value out of Donald Trump when he was president of the U.S.


BERMAN: Joining me now, CNN anchor and national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

Jim, you were the first to report on the existence of the Steele dossier and the fact that then, President-Elect Donald Trump was briefed on the existence of this dossier. A lot of it has been either disproven by the Mueller investigation or an IG report or not been able to be corroborated by either of those things. So what stands out to you hearing Christopher Steele now?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, we were the first to report that that the Intelligence Committee considered the existence of this significant enough that they wanted to brief then President-Elect Donald Trump at the time on the existence so that he was aware. But on this, I mean, what you see in Christopher Steele is someone who is standing by his work in effect here, right? Despite the fact that you've had multiple investigations to try to corroborate some of the claims in here. One for instance, not mentioned in that clip is that Michael Cohen, the President's lawyer in 2016, went to Prague to meet with Russian officials to discuss things in advance the election. That's Sunday, the Mueller report looked at specifically and determined it was not true on the existence of the more salacious materials here. I don't want to go into the details. That's something that the IG, the Inspector General of the Justice Department looked into and could not corroborate as well.


Now, Steele's explanation for sources, in effect, downplaying the information they provided themselves, as you hear there is to say, listen, that's something sources do if they're scared, and you heard him say there that they have reason to be scared from the Russians. The trouble is, several years of investigations to stand this up, have not been able to stand it up.

BERMAN: All right Jim, thank you, a, for clarifying exactly what your reporting was. It was the Intelligence Committee melt is significant enough to brief then --


BERMAN: -- president-elect. You brought up the Michael Cohen excerpt. Let's listen to that exchange.


STEPHANOPOULOS: One big claim in the dossier, the FBI, according to the inspector general's report, and Mueller reinforces it is not true. Is the claim that Michael Cohen had a meeting with Russians in Prague. Do you accept that finding that it didn't happen?

STEELE: No, I don't.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Michael Cohen has completely turned Donald Trump, he's accused him of all kinds of things. He's gone to jail. It defies logic, that if he did this, he wouldn't say so now.

STEELE: I don't agree with that. It's very --


STEELE: -- it's self-incriminating to a very great degree.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Since he's gone to prison, since he's turned on President Trump, he's told every single story. Why wouldn't he admit to this?

STEELE: Because I think it's so incriminating and demeaning. And the other reason is, he might be scared of the consequences.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think it hurts your credibility at all that you won't accept the findings of the FBI in this particular case?

STEELE: I'm prepared to accept that not everything in the dossier is 100% accurate. I have yet to be convinced that that is one of them.


BERMAN: And Jim, Cohen again says overnight --


BERMAN: -- I eagerly await his next secret dossier, which proves the existence of Bigfoot the Loch Ness Monster and that Elvis is still alive.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's interesting from Cohen, right? Because Cohen has had something well, that's something I've used him enormous change of heart, vis-a-vis Trump in the last several years and is admitted to wrongdoing right on Trump's behalf. And it's coming to very publicly criticized Trump but on this allegation here of his direct involvement, this meeting in Prague, he's sticking to his guns as well. So, that's notable right, notable in here. And by the way, earlier, I said DOJ, inspector general sort of meant to say FBI Inspector General, as cited there in Stephanopoulos' interview. Listen, Christopher Steele has a background in Russia, he served in the Moscow Bureau for British intelligence, you know, prior to going into the private sector and doing this report, he has experience he knows how Russia operates and he has contacts. So, even after all these years, he's sticking by both his experiences analysis, analysis of this and his contacts to say that there's something here, right. The trouble is, if you make such an allegation, and you have very serious operations, look into those allegations, including the Mueller investigation and they're not able to stand them up. That's a problem, right? That's a problem all these years later.

So, you know, you'd have to take his word right against and his analysis and his gut against what's been found and what's been able to be corroborated.

BERMAN: Now sometimes it makes you more credible about things that are right when you admit that you got --


BERMAN: -- something wrong. Jim Sciutto, as always, thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

BERMAN: We will see you in one hour and 22 minutes.

SCIUTTO: I'll be there.

BERMAN (voice-over): So, former President Trump testifies under oath just hours from now a deposition. We're going to talk to a lawyer who knows firsthand how Trump could handle that.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And how did a missing woman turn up dead in a park police van in Alabama?



KEILAR: A new twist in the bizarre legal scandal surrounding attorney Alex Murdaugh, who is now behind bars in South Carolina. Law enforcement officials say Murdaugh coordinated with the family of his longtime housekeeper who died in 2018 to sue himself for insurance money that he then pocketed.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is joining us live. You know, it seems like every time you hear about developments in this case, it's just one bizarre twist after another Dianne.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, this is the second time in as many months the ones prominent attorney is going to appear at a bond hearing as the defendant to the subject in that case in this particular one will also happen tomorrow in Columbia, South Carolina. It's on the attorney the -- excuse me, the housekeeper who died in 2018 Gloria Satterfield after a fall in the Murdaugh home. Well according to affidavits from the state law enforcement division, Murdaugh worked with the Satterfield family to basically sue himself over her death so they could collect insurance money, he set them up with an attorney. But they say that the Satterfield family was never notified of a $4.3 million settlement nearly $3 million dollars of which were supposed to go to the Satterfield family. Instead, the affidavit say that Murdaugh told the attorney to write a check for that nearly $3 million and put it in an account called Forge. Now there is a company called Forge LLC that handles insurance payments. This is not that, instead, this is something controlled by Alex Murdaugh, according to those officials.

Now again, he is supposed to appear in front of a judge tomorrow in Columbia, South Carolina on those charges of basically obtaining property by false pretences. Brianna, of course remember last month he appeared before a judge after state law enforcement official say that he conspired with a former client to have himself killed, so his son could get $10 million in life insurance.


KEILAR: Yes. All right, Dianne. Many more developments on this ahead, I'm sure. Dianne Gallagher, live for us in Charlotte, North Carolina.

BERMAN: This morning the family of 29-year-old Christina Nance is demanding answers after her body was discovered in an unused police van. Investigators have been poring over security footage from the parking lot trying to piece together what happened.

CNN's Nadia Romero, live in Huntsville -- at Huntsville, Alabama with the latest on this. I had to say disturbing story, Nadia.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is. And it's been so heartbreaking, John for the Nance family. They say they reported Christina Nance missing but they just weren't prepared for the shocking call they received from police that her body was found in the back of an unused police van. Well, they say they spoke with officers and they've seen some surveillance video. But the family says something just isn't adding up.


WHITNEY NANCE, SISTER OF CHRISTINA NANCE: We have no idea of how she ended that they're out of all places why there.


NANCE: Why and there then?

ROMERO (voice-over): It's been more than one week since Huntsville police officers say they found the body of 29-year-old Christina Nance and an unused police van and the public safety complex parking lot. This is video from a camera on top of the police building pointed toward the parking lot.

DEWAYNE MCCRAVER, DEPUTY CHIEF, HUNTSVILLE POLICE: No one's sitting in watching this specific camera that I'm aware of. No. These are just so that if you have an event and you need to go back and look. As you can see there, how difficult she is to see.

ROMERO (voice-over): Even the timeline of Christina Nance' final days remains unclear. Huntsville police a man's walked into the public safety complex parking lot on September 25th.

MCCRAVER: Ms. Nance is observed in the video walking around the parking lot. She lies down in the bushes at some point. She sits on the hood of a police car for some time. She approaches other cars in the parking lot.

ROMERO (voice-over): Police say Nance gets into the back of a van Three days later on the 28th, surveillance video shows movement coming from inside of the vehicle, a former prison transport van which hadn't been used since March designed to keep people locked inside and with no way to get out.

Four days later on October 2nd, Nance's family reported her missing, but it wouldn't be for five more days, October 7th, until Huntsville police saying officers saw shoes outside of the van which led to the discovery of the lifeless body of Christina Nance. A mystery deepened by the lack of obvious clues.

MCCRAVER: The body was sent for a preliminary autopsy. We are waiting for the full results which would include the toxicology, but we did get as you know the preliminary which showed obviously no trauma to the body. No signs of any foul play.

ROMERO (voice-over): A toxicology report could take weeks and the meantime Deputy Chief DeWayne McCarver says while they don't suspect foul play, the department will review its policies.

MCCRAVER: Sometimes you just have to say that was something that shouldn't have happened. It did. Our policies are such that that should not have happened. And now we have to look at that. And we have to make sure that we have things in place so that that does not happen again.

NANCE: She was very positive --

ROMERO (voice-over): But the family of Christina Nance says the poor quality of their surveillance video and the lack of information as to how she died leaves more questions than answers,

NANCE: Which is very heartbreaking to know that we didn't get the clarification that we really needed that we wanted.


ROMERO: So many unanswered questions still remain. Now the Nance family is being represented by famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump and you'll remember that name he's the same attorney representing the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. He released a statement saying that they will get to the truth of what happened to Christina Nance. John. BERMAN: The family deserves the truth. Nadia Romero, thank you so much.

(voice-over): A Capitol Police Officer accused of trying to help one of the insurrectionists cover his tracks.

KEILAR (voice-over): And real life stories from the front lines of COVID from one of the biggest selling fiction writers of all time. More from James Patterson, next.



KEILAR: Out of the ER onto the picket line, dozens of Minnesota nurses are striking for three days for seeing the Allina West Health Facility in Plymouth is shut down its emergency room and it's urgent care department. The Minnesota Nurses Association say that they have been negotiating a new contract for months without coming to a deal.

The main sticking point is summer holiday pay, which the union says most nurses in the Twin Cities already have. Allina Health says in a statement that the nurses contracts are quote, good enough.

BERMAN: So he is one of the world's best known fiction authors a master of spinning tales of mystery and murder. But James Patterson says those fictional tales can hold a candle to the real life stories featured in his newest book, a compilation of interviews with emergency room nurses sharing their experiences. Here's an excerpt from a nurse named Jennifer Retreats (ph), quote, the doctors in the medical staff are talking openly about the fact that she is going to die. The woman can still hear us, she is aware and absolutely terrified. I can see it in her eyes. Most people don't realize that this whole COVID pandemic has caused a major shift in medical treatment. The human touch is almost gone. I can't take off any of my gear but I still can hold this woman's hand. It's going to be OK, I say wiping away her tears with a tissue. I'm right here with you. I know this is scary, but I'm going to be right here with you. It hurts my soul that this woman is going through this without her family. I've never shed a tear in front of a patient before. But this time, I can't help myself. The last thing this woman sees is my masked face.


Joining me now are the co-authors of ER Nurses True Stories For America's Greatest Unsung Heroes, best selling author James Patterson, and retired Army First Sergeant and veteran of the fighting in Somalia and Iraq, Matt Eversmann.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us.

James, let me start with you. You've interviewed more than --


BERMAN: -- a hundred people for this book, 100 different nurses. And, you know, we all come in contact with our nurses in our lives, we think we know them. But you say we really don't?

PATTERSON: Yes. No, no, we don't. And this book is all about the stories. And it's not the interviews, because what we do, we take 40 page interviews and turn them into these five, six page chapters on each nurse. And it's just stories and stories and stories. You know, one about a pregnant man, one about a 600-pound woman and how they got her, and one about a nurse who this man was dying. And she snuck his golden retriever into his room. And then it the nurses crying, and the wife is crying, and the husband is crying and the dog is licking the husband's face as licking away the tears. And it's just story after story after story, great stories, and you'll understand nurses in a way that you've never had before.

BERMAN: And Matt, you know this --

PATTERSON: My opinion.

BERMAN: -- this isn't just about COVID, this is actually a project you launched before COVID. But obviously COVID is only enhanced and increased that. And Matt you got your vast experience in combat from Black Hawk Down to Iraq, and you say the experience that nurses go through is not dissimilar, in some ways to the combat experience.

MATT EVERSMANN, AUTHOR: No, it's really not and that's not a stretch at all, you know, these men and women are deployed every moment of every day. I mean, literally, you know, as we're speaking, somebody is being rushed into the emergency room and there is a young guy or young gal that's going to go to fix them and they're doing it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365, all the time.

And I would throw out that they are dealing with the trauma that, you know, certainly I as a soldier, you know, never had to experience for such a prolonged time and that, you know, the short answer, oh boy, they're heroes, they're angels among us and we really need to celebrate them. And I think Jimmy and I did.

PATTERSON: Yes, you know, John and it's amazing like they probably should have said like Sanjay Gupta read it and it blew him away. And Sebastian Junger, you know, he wrote back and he said it would change him forever. And he never read anything that's moving. And it's just their stories. Story after story. It's, you know, incredible stuff, I think.

BERMAN: How much more of a challenge has COVID made it?

PATTERSON: For the nurses?


PATTERSON: Well, you know, nobody -- I don't think there's any group that was nobody's ready was ready for COVID. But if anybody was closer to being ready, it's the nurses' especially emergency room and an ICU. And still it was overwhelmed. Obviously, it's overwhelming. They'd never seen this kind of death and overcrowding and, you know.

EVERSMANN: And by the way, they also were dealing with the normal ER stuff that happens, you know, all the time, gunshot wounds, car racks, you know, horrible accidents and just, you know, the knucklehead stuff that people do that decide to go to the ER also. And (INAUDIBLE) --

PATTERSON: You know, John, there was a story --

BERMAN: Matt, James, (INAUDIBLE) I'm sorry to interrupt you both gentlemen. But you're understand why. We have some major breaking news. Standby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: General Colin Powell, the first African-American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the first African-American secretary of state we have just learned he has died at the age of 84. His family announced on Facebook that Powell died of complications from COVID. They add he was fully vaccinated.

Again, major breaking news. Colin Powell has passed away.

Wolf Blitzer looks at his life.


COLIN POWELL, FMR CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS: I will never not be a soldier.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Colin Powell, a soldier turned statesman made history on many fronts, the first African-American and youngest Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And later, the first African-American Secretary of State.

POWELL: So I've always felt strongly that you should try to solve conflicts in this world through negotiations, through diplomacy. Anytime we can solve a problem that way and not use force and satisfy our objectives. Let's push for that.

BLITZER (voice-over): Powell grew up in the Bronx, New York. His parents emigrated from Jamaica, by his own admission, he was not an outstanding student.

POWELL: It's been amusing over the years to have people come with me say well, Chair Powell, you're chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When did you go? When did you graduate from West Point? Couldn't have gotten in.

BLITZER (voice-over): He enrolled in the City College of New York. Geology was his major, but the ROTC became his passion. Powell flourished as a cadet and after graduating, excelled as a soldier.


He served two tours of Vietnam before earning a prestigious fellowship, working for the Office of Management and Budget during the Nixon era in 1972.