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Trump Tweets on Investigation; Cosby Jury Back Deliberating; Berman's Champions for Change Story. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 16, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:33:35] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have breaking news. A statement from the president of the United States that has sent shockwaves inside his legal team. He wrote just moments ago, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt."

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The president seems to confirm - does confirm in that tweet he is under investigation for firing James Comey. It's unclear, though, who he is accusing of telling him to fire the former FBI director. Is it Mueller? Is it Rosenstein? Who is it?

Our legal experts are here to help us discuss. CNN legal analyst and counsel at Edelman and Edelman, Paul Callan, and CNN contributor and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, Steve Vladeck.

Gentlemen, Paul Callan, to you first, what do you make of this?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's another bizarre development. Rod Rosenstein probably is the person he's referring to, the acting attorney general who's in charge of the Russia investigation, and who did that memo outlining problems that Comey had had previously. But, you know, who knows because he gave an interview with Lester Holt in which he suggested he had already made up his mind, the president, to fire Comey previously.

HARLOW: But Rod Rosenstein isn't leading this investigation. Mueller is.

CALLAN: Mueller is, but Mueller answers to Rosenstein within the confines of the Justice Department. And only Rosenstein has the authority to actually fire Mueller. So he's - I think the president is now obsessed with Rod Rosenstein and is going back looking at the Rosenstein memo, which recommended firing - well, or was critical of Comey, let's say.

[09:35:08] BERMAN: Yes, look, that is one plausible thread here.

You know, Steve, to you. Number one, the president confirms that he is under investigation in this statement, which is a major development right there. You know, if that is what the president meant to do. Even if it's not what he meant to do, it is what he did. But, number two, if Paul Callan is right and he's trying to stick fingers in the eye of the deputy attorney general right now, what's the game here? Is he trying to force Rod Rosenstein out? We had that bizarre cryptic memo from Rod Rosenstein last night. Is he trying to pressure him maybe to resign?

STEVE VLADECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Maybe, John. I mean I think the - it's always dangerous to try to get inside the president's head and even more dangerous, I think, to try to get inside his tweets. But this could be part of laying the groundwork for firing Rod Rosenstein and that, of course, would change who was in charge of overseeing special Counsel Bob Mueller and the Russia investigation. That honor would fall to the associate attorney general, Rachel Brand (ph). So maybe what we're seeing is the president starting to try to sow the seeds of discord so that when and if he actually wants to move Rosenstein out, there's been at least some groundwork, some ground swell against him.

HARLOW: The president has been, I think it is fair to say, obsessed with proving to the American public that he is not under investigation. You'll recall his letter firing James Comey said, and, by the way, thank you for three times saying I was not under investigation. Why would he say this morning, I am being investigated?

CALLAN: Obviously, he's had solid information sent in his direction that the focus of this investigation has shifted to include him. And in fairness, you know, what the president -- and I know he understands this because he's been involved in a lot of legal cases. During an investigation, if another piece of evidence is uncovered, the investigation can shift to a new target. And I think the president is concerned that it's now shifting in his direction.

BERMAN: You know, and, Steve, the other developments, which were big before this happened, the Trump transition team, "The New York Times" reports told to hang on to all of their memos and documentation, having to deal with Russia in particular, officials there. Vice President Mike Pence hiring his own lawyer. How significant is all of this?

VLADECK: Yes, I mean, I think it's more and more sort of noise, more and more momentum coming out of Special Counsel Bob Mueller's investigation. And so, John, I think what we're heading for is some kind of showdown between the special counsel investigation on the one hand and the president on the other. You know, I think the question's going to be whether the president allows the investigation to go forward or whether in fact we see a repeat of history with another Saturday night massacre like situation where he becomes so frustrated with this momentum, with this noise, with this pressure that he take the legally possible but political suicidal step of shutting down the whole investigation.

BERMAN: Look, I think the White House or his private attorney now needs to respond and fill us in with what the president is thinking here because this is a pretty interesting development today. Hopefully we will get more clarification soon.

Paul Callan, Steve Vladeck, thanks so much for being with us.

CALLAN: Thank you. VLADECK: Thank you.

HARLOW: The Cosby jury deliberating right now for the fifth straight day. Moments ago, they came back. They asked their seventh question. Are they going to be deadlocked, or will this jury be able to reach a decision? Next.


[09:42:23] HARLOW: All right. So right now jurors are starting their fifth day of deliberations in the Bill Cosby sexual offense trial. They just came back to the judge to ask a question. This is the seventh question that they've asked during these more than 30 hours of deliberation. Yesterday when they were deadlocked the judge told them, keep trying.

BERMAN: Yes, let's get the very latest on what's going on right now because some interesting development this morning. You see Bill Cosby entering the courtroom just moments ago.

Brynn Gingras joins us.

Brynn, what are you learning?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: About 30 minutes into this fifth day of deliberations when they came back and they said they have a seventh question in this case. Now, remember, it was 11:30 yesterday, their fourth day of deliberating, where the jury came back and said that they were deadlocked. They could not make a unanimous decision about this verdict.

Now, what we don't know at this point is what that seventh question is. We have eyes and ears in the courtroom with Jean Casarez. But we also don't know at which degree they're deadlocked. Are they deadlocked, a split, between members of the jury, or are they deadlocked on particular counts of these three counts of aggravated indecent assault. So there's still a lot of questions surrounding the confusion and this, you know, lack of being able to agree on a decision here for this verdict.

But we're certainly waiting. And tensions are certainly rising. You've been hearing Jean talk about how this jury has expressed frustration just with their body language inside the courtroom. I can also tell you that we've seen frustration outside the courtroom where accusers have been standing by, Cosby accusers from the past, waiting to hear this verdict. Cosby supporters also there to see how this jury will decide this case.

So as soon as we get answers to that seventh question, we will let you know, but this jury going at it for more than 40 hours at this point over the past five days.

HARLOW: Yes. Well, they're considering these three different counts. We'll see if they can come to a unanimous decision. Brynn, thank you for the reporting. We appreciate it. Again, our Jean Casarez is in the courtroom. We'll bring you more when we have it. We're following a lot this Friday morning. The Russia investigation this morning. The president tweeting and confirming he's under investigation. Much more on that ahead.


[09:48:56] BERMAN: This week CNN is focusing on "Champions for Change." I wanted to highlight an incredibly special organization, a place that the group itself says they hope you never need to know about. Friends of Karen provides emotional, financial and advocacy support of families of critically ill children.


BERMAN: No one's prepared to have a critically ill child. I mean, I think people avoid thinking about it.

SARAH COAKLEY, SOCIAL WORKER, FRIENDS OF KAREN: Yes. I mean that's the number one thing families always say, we never thought this was going to happen to us. And nobody does. No one's prepared for it. You're not prepared financially for it. you're not prepared emotionally for it. And that's where Friends of Karen can come in.

It's always hard as she's getting treatment, right?

BERMAN (voice-over): Sarah Coakley helps family face the unfaceable. She's one of a dozen social workers at Friends of Karen, an organization which supports the families of critically ill children.

BERMAN (on camera): How many families are you working with right now?

COAKLEY: I have a case load of about 40. Yes.

[09:50:03] BERMAN: Four zero?

COAKLEY: Four zero.

STEPHANIE GUITY, ZORAYH'S MOTHER: This is the process. Her hair started - she started losing her hair. This is her twin sister Zoey.

BERMAN (voice-over): Take the case of 14-year-old Zorayh Guity and her family. Their world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with sarcoma in her leg.

What's it like to hear that your - your child has cancer?

GUITY: Uh, it's - I'm sorry. Getting emotional. It's the worst thing possible to hear. It's really heartbreaking. It really is.

Hello! How are you?

COAKLEY: Good. How are you doing?

It's always a fine balance talking about the finances and the emotional piece, but you want a parent to know that we are going to pay their bills so that they can sit by their child's bed. GUITY: They helped me along the way so that I was able to maintain my

sanity and not have to worry about one aspect of my life while I'm worrying about the health of my child.

JUDITH FACTOR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FRIENDS OF KAREN: So, come on, I'll show you some (INAUDIBLE) my office. This is what I spend some of my day doing.

Part of what Friends of Karen does is we pay family bills. This is for a cell phone, hospital expenses, medicines. These are the things that keep a family afloat when their child is sick.

BERMAN (on camera): Do you ever get to the bottom of the pile?

FACTOR: There's always a new pile.

BERMAN: This really is a house, isn't it?

FACTOR: It is a house.

BERMAN (voice-over): Judith Factor is executive director of Friends of Karen.

FACTOR: We can't prevent the pain, but we can certainly lessen that pain for a family. There's not a person at Friends of Karen that doesn't feel the mission in their heart and work their hardest because they really care about the kids and their families.

BERMAN: What are the darkest moments?

FACTOR: Well, we all get an e-mail when a child dies. While most, maybe 80 percent of children are cured, it's always - one is too many.

BERMAN (voice-over): Friends of Karen is named after the first child helped nearly 40 years ago. It's based out of a 150-year-old house, a genuine home for the organization.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need 15 of these, please.

BERMAN: Home to the volunteers, a home to the 15,000 children they have helped, a home for so many memories.

FACTOR: I remember this family. We love you, Eric James Barron. We miss you, buddy.

Look at this. This is the "Celebrity Jeopardy" check for $50,000 that you won for Friends of Karen. And I -

BERMAN: So, yes, I once played "Jeopardy" on behalf of Friends of Karen and I was really nervous. So beforehand, I wrote Judy a note thinking she would say, oh, don't worry, just do the best you can, it will be OK. But, no, essentially she wrote me back and said, quit whining.

"Think of all the remarkable Friends of Karen children who will benefit from the donation that we'll receive from "Jeopardy!." Think of all the horrible treatment that they go through every day and the strength they have to endure it. Being on "Jeopardy!" will be a piece of cake compared to that."

FACTOR: I can't tell you how grateful we are to you for being so smart and for playing.

BERMAN: I was thrilled. I was thrilled that it worked out.

ALEX TREBEK, HOST, "JEOPARDY": He is the winner, $42,900.

BERMAN: How'd I do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looks like a backpack.

KIDS: Yes.

BERMAN (voice-over): Friends of Karen isn't just money and medicine, there are sibling services, as simple as an art project, can make brothers, sisters, twins, feel included, safe, remembered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So glad. I really hated it when she got sick.

BERMAN (on camera): Most of us even hate to think about these situations and at Friends of Karen they joke that they ruin all kinds of dinner parties by bringing up what they do. And I have to confess that my mind often drifts towards the pain and the tragedy, but - but they don't, you know, not the social workers, not the families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kissing her. Always kissing her forehead, yes.

BERMAN: Oh, this is tough. This is in these pictures here.

COAKLEY: I often saw Zorayh laying down in a hospital bed or in a wheelchair. And a couple weeks ago I went to visit them and it was the first time I saw her standing and walking, and this smile on her face was huge.

BERMAN: Those smiles must make all the difference.

COAKLEY: It does. That's what gets you through, knowing what it can look like at the end and what you're hopeful for, for each family.


BERMAN: I love those smiles.

Just to gives you a sense of what these families are dealing with. After we filmed this story, which was a month ago or so, Zorayh went back to the hospital twice for an infection in her leg, and it was scary. It was very scary. But because the Guity family is so strong and with the help of Friends of Karen, they got through it and they're hoping that the next scan shows the cancer in remission.

For more on this, go to Be sure to check out CNN's special "Champions for Change" hosted by Sanjay Gupta. This airs tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. HARLOW: I'm so glad you did that. We're both parents, and all you want

is a healthy child.


HARLOW: And for people that have to go through that, I'm glad Friends of Karen is there.

BERMAN: It's a wonderful place. A wonderful place.

HARLOW: All right.

BERMAN: All right, we've got a lot of news today.

[09:55:02] The president is moments away from heading to Miami. He's got an announcement on policy toward Cuba.

But, just moments ago, he made a stunning statement, admitting that he is under investigation and appearing, we think, maybe to attack his own deputy attorney general. Much more coming up.


HARLOW: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

[09:59:53] We do have breaking news this morning. A major admission from the president, we think. In a statement he confirms he is under investigation for firing former FBI Director James Comey. Here are his exact words. The tweet speaks for itself.