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Marines Men's Group Still Sharing Explicit Nude Photos; Senators Wants Trump Campaign Associates to Testify on Russia Contacts; Trump: Republican Election Bloodbath if Health Care Bill Not Passed; FOX News Pundit Lashes Out over Plagiarism Charge Costing Her Trump Admin Job. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 9, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:32:30] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. CNN has learned a secret Marines group for men is still sharing explicit nude photos of female Marines and veterans long after the scandal broke. One victim says she contacted investigators in January and now members of this Marines United Facebook group are now taunting investigators online. And they are not just looking at these photos. Apparently, in chat rooms, some make sexually charged comments about the photos or suggest these women should be raped. The NCIS is investigating.

The nation's top Marine is outraged.


GEN. ROBERT NELLER, COMMANDANT, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Unfortunately, it appears some have forgotten the fundamental truths and have acted selfishly and unprofessionally through their actions on social media. Let me cut to the chase. When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines, I don't think such behavior is that of true warriors or war fighters. It's embarrassing to our core, to our families and to the nation.


BALDWIN: General Neller adds, if necessary, he will make changes within the Marine Corps to crack down on this behavior.

Let's talk this over with James Laporta, a former Marine and freelance journalist who shared his finding his findings with us at CNN.

So we're grateful to you, James.

And he's also a Marine Captain.

And Angie Morgan is with us as well.

Thank you both for your service to this country.

I find this story absolutely disgusting as a woman.

So, James, first to you. You told our producer you received death threats for speaking out

about this. You saw the photos originally. Let me ask you to back up. On this Facebook page, what was the response you were seeing from people on this Facebook group?

CAPT. JAMES LAPORTA, FREELANCE JOURNALIST & FORMER MARINE: So the main response that was within the group was everything from celebration to every time another national new outlet picked up the story to taunting FBI and NCIS agents with who would be investigating, some leaving nude photos for them. Some laughing that it would be funny if the FBI or NCIS agent looking into the group would find nude photos of their significant other. Some were trying to look for self- preservation, seeing if legally they had committed a crime, if legally they are protected from being investigated. Saturday turned to Sunday, it turned into what the group calls Racist Sunday, which is the group members lodge racist complaints at each other or members outside the group to get the most laughs. And then other posted death threats towards (INAUDIBLE. Some say they'd pay up to $500 for anybody that could find nude photos of Mr. (INAUDIBLE) wife. Some posting names, phone numbers, addresses of Mr. (INAUDIBLE) contacts, things like that.


[14:35:47] BALDWIN: OK, OK, let me just jump in. I appreciate the description and the wide range, and I understand there's also even additional pages that have been created, T-shirts being sold. I did hear correctly, you have spoke within a victim?

LAPORTA: Yeah, so I spoke with a victim just before we came on. She reported to me that, apparently, Wednesday night, they have morphed into what they're now calling Marines United, 2.0. They have apparently created T-shirts that say "Marines United, we have your six and your nudes." I don't know. I don't know what you do with that.

BALDWIN: I don't know either.

Angie, to you.

We know so many phenomenal Marines. I'm sure you're disgusted in hearing these stories, too. How does this make you feel?

ANGIE MORGAN, FORMER MARINE CORPS CAPTAIN: It was a hard time coming anyone displaying this conduct or behavior a marine because it's so anti the culture where I learned how to lead and grew up in. To me, that's not representative of my experience coming from the Marine Corps. So the subset of individuals who are demonstrating this behavior very anti-culture. It is outrageous. It's degrading to the women who serve and disrespectful to the great Marines who I know who are still currently serving on active duty. It does not represent them. It's unfortunate. I really hope justice is brought to them quickly.

BALDWIN: Has there ever been a time for you among female Marines where this was known or there were fears that this could happen? Did you feel safe? Did you feel protected? MORGAN: So when I served in active duty, there was 180,000 Marines

and only 1,000 were female officers. So if you were asking if I've been harassed in the Marine Corps, yeah, of course. But what I found informally were amazing mentors to help me navigate through difficult situations and through the chain of command, and it worked well for me. So any type of behavior that I thought was unprofessional or even borderline unprofessional, I saw that it was addressed quickly. I know that may not be the case for everyone.

BALDWIN: Can I ask if you're saying yes to harassment, anything in the ballpark of photos like this?

MORGAN: Nothing like this.

BALDWIN: Thank goodness.

MORGAN: Nothing at all.

BALDWIN: James, back to you.

Are you talking -- you said you had talked to a female. Are you helping others, are there groups trying to reach out? I'm wondering, if you're a female Marine and you're on active duty and you're deployed, I'd be worried.

LAPORTA: Right. One victim told me headquarters of the Marine Corps is providing services for them, mental health services. I have seen some law offering free legal services to some of these victims for free. So I am seeing a lot of that. But I don't know how it's being communicated to all the victims. Because we don't how many victims there are. There really isn't a clear understanding of how, even if I am a victim, how I can find out if I'm a victim. All this was done in secret. So the number of victims is really unknown just like the number of Marines engaged in this is unknown.

I want to push back on a very important area that I'm seeing from members of Marines United. This group does do good things. In terms of if there's a Marine struggling with PTSD, if there's a Marine on the verge of suicide, that group, and very quickly, can get that person help, and they have. They get them into therapy or prevent that person from doing something wrong. And that's good. They should continue to keep doing that.

But that doesn't justify exploiting other Marines.


LAPORTA: It doesn't justify exploiting other women in general.


LAPORTA: So all that it good work they are doing is being overshadowed by the bad work.

[11:40:12:] BALDWIN: The notion of perpetrating this sort of thing and making T-shirts with women's photos without any consent is not OK. James, thank you for your help.

And, Angie Morgan, thank you.

MORGAN: Thank you.

LAPORTA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We do have more breaking news this afternoon. U.S. Senators telling Manu Raju on Capitol Hill saying they want a number of Trump's campaign associates to testify over the investigation into their contacts with Russia.

So let's go to Capitol Hill.

Who do they want to sit in the hot seat?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRSPONDENT: That's right. This is all part of this larger investigation that's happening into Russia. Russia's involvement in the election and to determine whether or not there were any campaign contacts between Trump associates, Russian officials during the heat of the election and whether or not there was any conclusion as well. I'm told from several Senators to sit on the committee they do want to hear directly from some of those named, including Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager, as well as Carter Page, who has been in the news for campaign contacts with Russians during the heat of the investigation.

Now the reason for this I'm told from some of the Senators is that while they have looked at some of the raw information that has been provided by the CIA at the headquarters in Virginia, that information looked at the scope of the efforts by the Russians to infiltrate the elections, to hack the cyberattacks, but not necessarily -- the Senators haven't been able to piece together that that information is linked to the Trump campaign and those contacts that allegedly took place between Trump associates and the Russians. So they want to hear directly, Brooke, from these officials and former associate what is they said at the time, what they talked to these Russians about. So we'll see if they do that. If they don't, they can subpoena them. They have the power to do that on this committee as well on this committee -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Manu, thank you. Manu Raju in Washington for us.

Coming up next, President Trump warns of a blood bath in Republican districts if the new health care bill fails. We'll talk live with a Republican governor up for re-election next year. Hear what he thinks about all this.

Plus, despite all the backlash, the party's controversial bill just cleared a major hurdle.

We'll be right back.


[14:47:06] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

More than had 30 states across the country expanded Medicaid and now millions of lower-income households covered under the expansion are at risk of losing it under the Republican's new health care plan.

And one state is more vulnerable than the others. Arkansas was the first state in the nation to receive approval to expand Medicaid as a private option, and now Medicaid enrollment there has far exceeded expectations, leading to potentially high costs for the state.

With me is Republican Governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson.

Governor Hutchison, nice to see you. Welcome.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON R-ARKANSAS: Thank you. It's good to be with you.

BALDWIN: I understand you welcome the House Speaker Paul Ryan and the president's health care proposals. But as I understand it, your state's Medicaid program is tightly woven with Obamacare, meaning if there were to be a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act without immediate replacement, the health insurance of hundreds of thousands of people there would be at stake. What would your message to those people in the great state of Arkansas be?

HUTCHINSON: That this is a beginning of a process that you see in Washington. There's a long way to go. So take a deep breath, relax and be assured that what the reform that we have in Arkansas we want to continue. We want to make sure that we come out with a system that doesn't reduce the insured care that they have right now. What we have right now is not working. It needs to be replaced. But as you said, the key is what we replace it with. The governors are calling out for taking advantage of this opportunity for true reform. That gives the state more flexibility than b what the House plan suggests. And we don't need to have a major cost shift and that's one of the challenges we face.

BALDWIN: So taking that deep breath, Tom Cotton, Republican Senator from your state, today, said, slow down, start over, saying the Republicans are moving a tad too quickly. Is he right?

HUTCHINSON: I don't mind them moving quickly. And the House, that should not be the end result. The House plan may pass the House, and that's OK. But I'm counting on the Senate to take a stronger look, listen to the governors on this, and to go back to a plan that gives the states more flexibility. When I say that, right now, under the House plan, you still have to ask for waivers. We still have to go the federal government. Let's give that flexibility to the states up front. We can do it on a healthy population covered by Medicaid in terms of block grant. That's lets us have a true work requirement if the states want to do that.

Most importantly we have trouble with whenever -- like in Arkansas, we're trying to reduce the expanded population by 60,000. And if you do that, where do they go? Right now, they can go on the exchange and get a subsidy and do some cost sharing, but under the House plan, that subsidy is reduced to the extent that some of these would not have coverage.

[14:50:33] BALDWIN: Obviously, which would be a huge issue for those folks. On the notion of listening to your governor, as we know that President Trump is warning of this, quote unquote, blood bath next year if Republicans fail to replace Obamacare, you, sir, are up for re-election next year. What's your response to this term "blood bath?"

HUTCHINSON: Well, that's his way of saying we need to fulfill our promises. And the promise was that we've got to repeal Obamacare, which again, let me emphasize, is not working right. It's caused all kinds of problems in terms of the cost of insurance, but also in the lack of flexibility for the states. We've got to bend that cost curve and reduce the costs for the future. We're trying to do that. So you've got to repeal it, and he's right. If we don't do that, the American people are going to lose faith, so we've got to do it. At the same time, we've got to have a strong partnership between the federal government and the governors as to what we replace it with. The governors have worked very hard between ourselves, expansion states, non-expansion states, to make some good recommendations to Washington.

BALDWIN: One thing who knows a thing or two about cost and budget is the House Speaker Paul Ryan. I don't know if you saw the pictures, but this was a guy standing in front of that PowerPoint screen, sleeves rolled up, explaining during this news conference this new bill.

I'm just curious, who do you think is a better salesman of this iteration of the bill, Speaker Ryan or President Trump?

HUTCHINSON: Speaker Ryan know it's ins and out. He can sell it well from a substantive standpoint. Nothing beats the bully pulpit of the United States, though, and it's going to take his help to get the bill and the final product through both the House and the Senate. And --


BALDWIN: But if I may jump in, Speaker Ryan knows the ins and the outs. Does that mean the president doesn't?

HUTCHINGTON: Well, the president is a CEO. He is setting the direction on it. So I'm not quibbling with either one. Each one has a role in this. Speaker Ryan is a person that really gets in the details and that's what he's got to communicate and that's his role. The president has to give a broader picture of this, bring the Senate and the House together with the governors to get the final solution.

BALDWIN: OK. Governor Hutchinson, from Arkansas, thank you so much for the time today. I really appreciate you.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

Coming up next here, CNN uncovers plagiarism by a former FOX News contributor who was getting ready to join the Trump administration. Now she is falsely claiming those allegations have been debunked, and that it was a political hit job. We'll discuss that.


[11:50:03] BALDWIN: Conservative pundit, Monica Crowley, is lashing out, defending herself against plagiarism charges first reported here on CNN. She claims that she lost her job in the Trump administration over a, quote, unquote, "despicable political hit job." She even said there was a campaign to, quote, "delegitimatize the president."

You listen for yourself. This is Monica Crowley talking about this on FOX.


MONICA CROWLEY, FORMER FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR: What happened to me was a despicable, straight-up political hit job, OK. It's been debunked. My editor has completely supported me and backed me up.

There is a very toxic, and it's getting increasingly toxic and poisonous atmosphere, of personal destruction in Washington and the media. It's always sort of been there, but now it's at a whole different level.

The attack on me was a test. What happened to me, what happened to General Flynn, what has happened to Attorney General Sessions and others is all of a piece. There is a very dangerous and very effective destabilization campaign under way against this president, his administration, and his agenda.


BALDWIN: All right. With me now, Brian Stelter, CNN media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources"; and the man who broke this Crowley plagiarism story, Andrew Kaczynski, senior editor and founding member of CNN's "K Files."

We heard her very forceful defense but, at the end of the day, you founding evidence this is total B.S.


BALDWIN: Bananas?

KACZYNSKI: Bananas. Like none of the stuff that we reported has been debunked. No one ever asked for a correction. It's -- I mean, it's very straightforward if you look at our articles. We put everything side by side, there really is no defense of it. So I don't even basically know what to say other than that.

BALDWIN: So you say B-A-N-A-N-A-S to this.

KACZYNSKI: Bananas. BALDWIN: You, sir, her book has been yanked. Hannity didn't even push back when you listen to her on his show. Is this just a world of alternative facts and file it under that?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPODNENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: It really is. I don't have any other fruits to reference but this is how alternative facts are created. Whether on the right or the left, in this case it's partly due to Sean Hannity not challenging Monica Crowley at all.

To suggest that her editor has her back and this book was completely OK, the book was pulled from the shelves. Harper Collins had to step in in this case.

Monica Crowley can try to repair her reputation but she's doing it in ways that are untrue. It's making people worse by misleading people.

BALDWIN: What did Harper Collins, her publisher, say?

KACZYNSKI: Well, Harper Collins pulled the book. I can't exactly remember what their statement was. Something along the lines, we are pulling the book until she can update it with citations for her book. That book still has not been updated. They are not reselling it. You can't buy a kindle version or anything. So, again, what is she talking about?

I put this as much on FOX, on Hannity, particularly, as I do on her. You know, if you're going to try to rehabilitate someone, but do it by letting them mislead viewers about what actually happened, I think that's disappointing. So that's on Hannity, she did seem to come in with prepared remarks trying to discredit your story but the evidence was plain as night -- plain as day. We rarely see plagiarism examples that are this cut and dry. We'll see what she does next. I'm not sure what the role is for someone who has to give up a government role who has left FOX News.

BALDWIN: Quickly, let's follow up on the new settlement over at FOX.

STELTER: This is another settlement between FOX News' parent company and an employee who says they were sexually harassed. Last summer, the fall of Roger Ailes over harassment allegations. We can show you the latest statement from Tamara Holder. She said she was assaulted by an executive there in 2015. FOX has confirmed this saying that she reported an incident of sexual assault the prior year. Once she did notify FOX, the company investigated the matter, took decisive action for which Ms. Holder thanks the network. Her contract expired January 1st and she left the network. The statement ends, "FOX is grateful for Ms. Holder for her many contributions during her tenure at the network and wishes her continued success."

In other words, trying to make the best of a terrible situation here. The company trying to do the right thing after this assault allegation that she made.

BALDWIN: Yeah. STELTER: But this is another example almost eight months after the Ailes' incidents went down and Ailes had to resign, this is still a challenge for the Murdochs, for the owners of 21st Century FOX, that they continue to deal with harassment and assault allegations from former employees of the network.

BALDWIN: Brian, thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Andrew, thank you very much.

Let's roll on, hour two.

All right, we continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. That you for being with me.

The most-Republican, a powerful Republican in Congress rolled up his sleeves today, laid it out all on the line for this new plan to replace --