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Trump and Russia Overshadow White House Theme Week; Baltimore Cop Caught on Video Planting Drugs?; Mark Fuhrman Tapes Revealed; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired July 21, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- ease some of that saying the president, quote, "still has confidence in Sessions." That statement from the White House coming after several Republican lawmakers ran to Sessions' defense.
All of this raising questions about what is going on in the White House and its messaging machine. Joining me now, two men who lead two -- led two big Republican communications teams, Alex Conant, former communications director for Marco Rubio for President, and Tim Miller, former communications director for Jeb Bush's presidential campaign.
So, gentlemen, let me begin -- and thank you for being here -- with your response to Republican Congressman Mike Simpson, who I'm sure you've read this quote that's getting a lot of attention in Politico. "I don't even pay attention to what is going on with the administration because I don't care. They are a distraction. The family is a distraction. The president is a distraction."
Again Republican Congressman Mike Simpson. Alex?
ALEX CONANT, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MARCO RUBIO FOR PRESIDENT: Well, I think what he means is that -- what I hope he means is that, look, even though there are mixed messages on any given day and the president is tweeting about things, they have theme weeks that nobody is paying attention to. In the meantime, Republicans in Congress are getting down to work, they're getting down to business.
And they are working on big pieces of legislation like tax reform and health care reform but then also smaller pieces of legislation that Americans might not know about. For instance passing VA benefits like -- or VA reform like they did a couple of weeks ago or sanctions on Russia as the Senate unanimously did a couple of weeks ago.
So the Congress is working even though all you do is read the headlines and read the president's Twitter feed, you might not get that impression every day.
HARLOW: I don't know, Tim. Do you think that's the message he was trying to send or was he trying to say, Mr. President, come on?
TIM MILLER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, JEB BUSH'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I think he's trying to say the latter. If you don't mind, you know, there's a lot to be disgusted about in Washington right now. I just want to say, we're pulling for my old boss, John McCain. HARLOW: Yes.
MILLER: He represents what service and sacrifice is supposed to be. And so, you know, we hope he gets back where he's supposed to be soon.
But as to Representative Simpson's comment, you know, I think that a lot of Republicans basically want to treat the president like he's kind of the crazy old uncle in the oval shaped office while they do work. And I think politically that benefits a lot of Republicans, particularly those in purple states and in swing districts where the president's antics aren't that popular.
But I do also think it's an attempt to have a wake-up call to the president. You saw even on the campaign, his old campaign manager, Paul Manafort, said that they used to try to communicate to him through shows like this. And I think that some Hill Republicans are trying to do the same thing.
HARLOW: So they're having a meeting right now, we hear, in the White House, Alex, with Anthony Scaramucci, big finance guy, big advocate for the president, big hedge fund guy. And he has been applauded by some of the senior members of the president's team, like Kellyanne Conway who called him an incredible asset, one of the killers on television. Is he the guy, if they hire him and he accepts, to turn the messaging ship around?
CONANT: Well, I mean, I think there are two observations. One is we have a president with no political experience. We have a chief of staff with no governing experience and now we're going to have apparently a communications director with no communications experience.
HARLOW: Maybe. Maybe.
CONANT: You know, we'll -- yes, I mean, we'll see how that goes.
MILLER: He had a business show for a while, Alex.
CONANT: I think we need to be clear on one thing, though. This White House has had the same communications director since day one and will have the same communications director throughout President Trump's term.
President Trump is the communications director. He sets the message every day. He's the one that speaks directly with the American people through his Twitter feed or he calls in a couple of "New York Times" reporters like he did earlier this week, without consulting the rest of his staff and has an impromptu interview with them. So he's the communications director.
I don't know Scaramucci at all. He may be the perfect person for the job, he might not be, I don't know. But I think at the end of the day, though, let's all be honest, Trump is going to remain in charge of his own communications effort as he has his entire life. HARLOW: Tim?
MILLER: Totally agree with Alex. It's an impossible job. Nobody can be an effective communications director when you can't control the principal.
Donald Trump is going to do whatever he wants. I read this morning that his staff literally didn't know what he said in "The New York Times" interview until the transcripts came out because he didn't consult with them. So you can't be a communications director like this. And look, Scaramucci has been around politics for awhile. And he's known to have a chummy relationship with reporters so I think reporters are hopeful that he'll be, you know, leaking dirt to them.
But the problem is, once you get in there, you get in this bunker mentality and so I just think that whether it's Scaramucci or whether it's Alex or whether it's anybody, you know, this is an impossible job when Donald Trump is the real communications director.
HARLOW: I would just say there is something that is an asset to the American people in having the president be the communications director because frankly you get it straight from him.
[10:35:01] With all due respect to the job that you guys do, there's no professional spin on any of it.
CONANT: Totally agree. Totally agree.
MILLER: I think he's spinning.
HARLOW: There's his spin. No, no, no. There is his. I'm just saying there's not another layer of it. This coming from --
CONANT: And I think there's a real benefit -- there's a real benefit to knowing what the President Trump -- what President Trump thinks on any given issue on any given day. For -- this is a very transparent White House, despite not having on-camera press briefings.
HARLOW: Well, wait, wait.
CONANT: Despite (INAUDIBLE) from the press. We know what the president -- we know what the president thinks.
HARLOW: Wait, not -- wait, this is also a White House, Alex --
HARLOW: This is also a White House who thinks that there are limits --
CONANT: We know what the president thinks in ways that we have never known before.
HARLOW: Tim, Alex, calls it transparent. This is also a White House that according to multiple -- well, according to the president himself in his interviews with the "New York Times" thinks that there are limits and lines which the special counsel, an independent counsel, cannot cross. That is not the definition of transparency.
MILLER: Yes, look, I think what I have to say it's transparent in the sense you know what Trump is thinking all the time. You know, we've never had a president who tweeted out his inner monologue, you know, as soon as he had it. And so in that sense you know what the president is thinking. But I agree with you, they're doing a lot to go around traditional, you know, transparency rules in the White House. And they've rolled back a lot of what former administrations have done on this.
HARLOW: Do you think, Alex, yesterday was a turning point when the president decided to sit down with "The New York Times" and spewed multiple big criticisms of everyone in his Justice Department, including his own attorney general? Was that a turning point? Because you have these four Republican senators who all spoke to my colleague Jake Tapper and all expressed immense concern about that. Republican senators. Was that a turning point?
CONANT: Well, let me first say, I think President Trump knows exactly what he's doing. I mean I think he had a strategic reason to sit down with "The New York Times" and send very clear messages to his Justice Department and to the investigators that are now looking into, apparently, reportedly, looking into his family finances. So I think it was his strategic decision and time will tell whether or not it was a wise one.
I do believe that if he does fire or ask for Attorney General Sessions' resignation, there will be a severe backlash from congressional Republicans. And if he fires Mueller, if he fires the investigators, there's going to be severe backlash from congressional Republicans in a way that he may not recover from. I think --
MILLER: He did --
HARLOW: He'd have to get --
CONANT: -- strategically done, but we'll see.
HARLOW: He'd have to get Sessions or Rosenstein to do that. Thirty seconds, Tim Miller, final thought?
MILLER: Look, I think what Republicans on the Hill need to set parameters. I appreciate what Representative Simpson said, they need to send out lines that if he's going to act and do what Alex just laid out and fire Mueller, and do actions like that, then he'll be rebuked by the Congress. And I think that's the way, hopefully, to try to keep him in a box and get this White House back on message.
HARLOW: Thank you, gentlemen, both very much. Have a nice weekend.
CONANT: Thank you. MILLER: Thanks much.
HARLOW: So OJ Simpson certainly had a good day yesterday. He won his parole hearing. He's going to be released in October. But what he cannot escape is the controversy surrounding his 1995 murder or double murder acquittal.
Up next, you will get an exclusive look from our Kyra Phillips into the never before heard tapes that helped him get acquitted.
[10:42:41] HARLOW: A Baltimore police officer is suspended after newly released body cam video appears to show him planting drug evidence. Look at this. And watch carefully. You see him place a plastic bag in a trash filled yard. Two of his colleagues are watching on. The officer then walks away, turns on his body camera.
Now this is important. Some of these body cameras actually save 30 seconds of video before they are manually turned on. Finally the officer comes back to the yard, picks up the same drug-filled bag. And you'll see him do this in just a moment.
Our Polo Sandoval is following this story that is really shaking the entire community in Baltimore. And the police chief, what is he saying?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, an unusual possible explanation, Poppy, coming from Baltimore's police commissioner who is saying that he is not ruling out the possibility -- again the possibility that the officer was simply re-enacting the drug find, though he also admits that that is not routine for their department. So the end result is to center to an investigation that's happening right now to determine if police misconduct did take place, if it is what we're witnessing in this footage.
Now this video leading to some serious concern for Baltimore prosecutors as well. They've already identified about 100 cases involving at least one of these three officers in this incident. The city state attorney is now reviewing those cases, trying to determine if the integrity of other investigations has been jeopardized.
City State attorney (INAUDIBLE) saying yesterday that a team of prosecutors now are looking for other alternative ways to try to prove those cases in question.
Now a little bit of backstory here, too. Baltimore PD, they have struggled to regain the confidence of the public after the death of Freddie Gray. You'll recall he's the 25-year-old who died while in police custody back in 2015. Six officers were charged in those -- in that case and eventually they were acquitted or charges against them dismissed. But of course it did lead to some serious conflict there on the streets of Baltimore with weeks of rioting and violence in the streets, not to mention also some of the violence that's currently being seen on the streets of Baltimore right now. You have record-setting violent crime as well as this general
distrust, Poppy. So this obviously is not a situation that helps the police department. So again the promise now from the police chief that they will investigate and they will prosecute if that's what the findings reveal.
HARLOW: It does not help improve the issues of trust between the community and the police department there.
[10:45:05] Polo, thank you for the reporting.
Also disgraced football player, OJ Simpson, you saw yesterday, got what he wanted. Nevada officials granted him parole after nine years behind bars for that 2007 armed robbery. Now that means he could walk free October 1st. His appearance before the board yesterday animated to say the least.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OJ SIMPSON, EX-NFL STAR: I haven't made any excuses in the nine years that I have been here and I'm not trying to make an excuse now. Nobody has ever accused me of pulling any weapon on them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believe that the property was yours.
SIMPSON: It's been ruled, legally, by the state of California that it was my property and they've given it to me. I've always thought I have been pretty good with people. And I basically spent a conflict- free life. You know, I'm not a guy that ever got in fights on the street.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Simpson, of course, notorious for his 1995 acquittal in the killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
Our Kyra Phillips has an exclusive on the never-before-heard tapes that played a key role in that ruling and she joins us now with the actual tapes.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I know I think it led the younger employees here like, what are those? These are cassette tapes.
HARLOW: I go back to eight tracks. OK.
PHILLIPS: There -- all right. So do I, let me tell you. But on a serious note, I mean, these tapes swayed the jury. I mean, they impacted the trial of the century. And just to back up a little bit, you know, the evidence against OJ that he killed Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown it was overwhelming. And -- so the best way to get him off a murder rap would be cast doubt on that evidence. Well, these tapes right here, I mean, this was a huge gift handed Johnny Cochran and his legal team. I mean, they were able to listen to these tapes, hear Mark Fuhrman saying the N word and say to the jury, see, he's a racist cop. He planted evidence. Story is over.
And they cast doubt. They did it. They were able to sway that jury. And many people still feel that race trumped justice in this case. And I have to tell you, that has haunted Laura Hart McKinny, the woman who made these tapes, for decades. Take a listen.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): She is Laura Hart McKinny, the writer who recorded conversations with Mark Fuhrman.
MARK FUHRMAN, FORMER LAPD DETECTIVE: Anything out of the nigger's mouth for the first five or six sentences is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) lie.
PHILLIPS: And she has remained mostly silent until now.
(On camera): Why did you decide to come forward now and talk to us?
LAURA HART MCKINNY, WRITER: I trust you.
PHILLIPS: Does it feel good to talk about this?
MCKINNY: Yes. It's time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Miss McKinny, would you come forward, please?
MCKINNY: There were bits of the puzzle that just I was unable to reveal at the time and I was unable to be as truthful as I really wanted to be.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): So she is telling her story, her truth and, for the first time, excerpts from the Fuhrman tapes you've never heard. Vulgar --
FUHRMAN: Then Weinstein, she's a little five-foot Jew, w call her the "Wandering Jew." She had a big nose.
FUHRMAN: How do you arrest a violent suspect? And I yell out, "Have a man do it."
FUHRMAN: You've got to be a borderline sociopath. You got to be violent.
HARLOW: Oh, my goodness. Laura Hart McKinny, clearly she trusts you. You covered this trial. You covered all you've done for years. Who is she and what is her relationship? How did this all happened?
PHILLIPS: You know, she's a fascinating woman because if you think about everybody that was involved in that trial.
PHILLIPS: Everybody profited off of that trial, wrote books, became analysts, did speaking engagements, had makeovers, on the cover of "People" magazine. What happened to Laura Hart McKinny? She wanted to be off the radar, she wanted to go away. The fact that these tapes, which she initially did to expose sexism in the LAPD, which you're going to hear a lot of tonight and it's very uncomfortable, I will tell you as a woman. It was really hard to listen to the way Mark talked.
HARLOW: Yes. I bet.
PHILLIPS: And a lot of the other police officers and this organization, Men Against Women, and how they wanted women off the force. But that has been hard for her. And she said, when she sat in that courtroom and she saw the Brown family and the Goldman family, and knew that her tapes were going to impact the verdict the way they did, she's had a really hard time dealing with that -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Does she ever talk to them?
PHILLIPS: She has reached out.
PHILLIPS: And it's an interest -- let's just say it's an interesting relationship.
PHILLIPS: I think that there is peace among everybody, but there's a lot of sadness.
HARLOW: Sure. Sure. Kyra, amazing reporting. I cannot wait to see it tonight.
[10:50:03] PHILLIPS: Thank you, Poppy. Thank you.
HARLOW: And so nice to see you.
PHILLIPS: Great to see you, too.
HARLOW: The actual tapes. You can watch it all tonight. CNN special report, "AFTER OJ: THE FUHRMAN TAPES REVEALED," with Kyra tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Only right here.
HARLOW: Some major news out of college football. Allegations of misconduct forced the head coach -- that football coach at Ole Miss to resign.
Andy Scholes has the "Bleacher Report." And I understand this has to do with a single phone call. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Good
morning, Poppy. Ole Miss officials announcing yesterday the head coach Hugh Freeze, was resigning immediately due to a pattern of personal misconduct.
Now according to multiple reports, Freeze made a phone call on his work phone to a number associated with a female escort service. Now Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said the conduct was just not something we thought we could continue with him as our head coach. Coach Bjork added that Freeze is not resigned, he would have been fired under the moral clause in his contract.
[10:55:07] Now a week ago Freeze told ESPN the phone call in question was a misdial. He has not made a statement since resigning. We reached out to Freeze's agent for comment but have not yet heard back.
All right. Two-time major champ Jordan Spieth revealing that he and the most decorated of all time have recently become friends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN SPIETH, HAS NEVER WON A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP: Michael Phelps has actually been a tremendous new friend that I have had since really Phoenix's last year. And he invited myself and Michael over to their house. And we talked for quite a while. I enjoyed listening to him. He wanted to hear from my side of things just about the good, the bad, you know, everything that comes with what we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Spieth is finishing round one of the Open Championship in first place, Poppy. He's still in first currently out there on the course right now in round two.
HARLOW: Andy, thank you. Have a great weekend.
SCHOLES: All right. You, too.
HARLOW: It is deadline day. Will Donald Trump Jr. and former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, agree to appear voluntarily in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee? If they don't, well, subpoenas likely coming their way.