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Addiction Emergency Declared in the U.S.; Thousands of JFK Assassination Files Released; New Details in Niger Ambush; Catalan Leader Calls Off Elections and Independence Bid. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 27, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: With tens of thousands of Americans dying each year, President Trump declares the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency. But did he go far enough to fix the problem.

VAUSE: Thousands of government files about the JFK assassination have been made public -- new details about the killer's ties to a Russian embassy. But a last minute decision meant some files were held back.

SESAY: American soldiers in T-shirts and baseball caps with just one machine gun to defend themselves? A disturbing new account of that deadly ambush in Niger.

VAUSE: Hello everybody, great to have you with us. We'd like to welcome our viewers all around the world.

I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: A busy day in Washington, we have a lot to cover this hour starting with echoes of last year's presidential election. The Trump campaign is distancing itself from Cambridge Analytica, the data firm which contacted WikiLeaks trying to secure Hillary Clinton's missing e-mails from her time as Secretary of State.

Back in May, a new video shows a senior executive at Cambridge Analytica describing the firm was intimately involved in decision making.

SESAY: Well, the Clinton camp also appears to be caught in a contradiction of its own. CNN has learned that both campaign chair John Podesta and then DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told congressional investigators they didn't know anything about funding the now-infamous Russia dossier. But we learned earlier this week that the organizations they were running paid for the research.

VAUSE: And a few hours ago, the administration released thousands of classified files on the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy but about 300 files were we held back after a last minute request from the National Security Agency.

SESAY: And finally, earlier Thursday Mr. Trump declared the country's opioid crisis a public health emergency and that effectively passes the baton to Congress who could now craft a funding bill.

In a rare public remark, it was the first lady who spoke about the epidemic first. Take a listen.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: But what I found to be the common theme with all of these stories is that this can happen to any of us. Drug addiction can take your friends, neighbors or your families. No state has been spared and no demographic has been untouched.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction. Never been this way.

We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it.


VAUSE: Well, the opioid epidemic is considered the deadliest drug crisis in U.S. history. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.

SESAY: Last year overdoses killed more people than guns or car accidents. The most recent statistics show roughly 2 percent of deaths in the U.S. -- that's one in fifty were drug-related.

VAUSE: Ok. Let's get to our panel now. Former Los Angeles councilwoman Wendy Greuel is with us. Also CNN political commentator and talk radio host John Phillips, also a Trump supporter. We also have addiction treatment specialist Howard Samuels.

So Howard, first to you, notably the President, he declared a national public health emergency which stops short of a national emergency. The administration argues that's a distinction without a difference but a public health emergency doesn't really have funding and the President didn't request any on Thursday. So it's a lot more than just a distinction -- right?

HOWARD SAMUELS, ADDICTION TREATMENT SPECIALIST: Well, I can tell you all this is, is a photo-op. I mean, you know, I'm on the front lines here in Los Angeles at my treatment center, The Hills Treatment Center and all I know is private insurance gives 15 to 20 days in-patient care for a heroin addict or an alcoholic. It doesn't make a difference. The government insurance, Medicare gives three to four in-patient days.

So, what are we talking about? The whole system is broken as far as treatment is concerned. SESAY: All right. Wendy -- to you, you hear how the system is broken and then you hear Chris Christie, who was chosen to head up the opioid commission, a couple of months ago say that the President, you know, essentially deserves praise for the bold action he took. How do you see it?

WENDY GREUEL, FORMER LOS ANGELES COUNCILWOMAN: Well, it's been months -- months. That bold action took a long time. And in fact it's really not bold.

It's kind of been a pattern where the President would say I want to do something but and I'm going to push it off to Congress to actually find funding. And in fact when he declared this type of emergency, not the national emergency, but a public health emergency it doesn't allow there to be immediate funding. And so you have to wait.

[00:04:55] And for those families who are impacted by the opioid crisis, they don't want to wait to see the federal government step in and be able to help address a crisis that was clear.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, as you say, this announcement was months in the making, because it was in July where his -- the panel looking into this came up with the recommendation. And shortly after that the President promised that he would take action and this is what he said.


TRUMP: The opioid crisis is an emergency. And I'm saying officially right now, it is an emergency. It's a national emergency. This is a national emergency and we are drawing documents now to so attest.


VAUSE: So John -- in case you missed it. It's a national emergency. It's a national emergency. Not a national public health emergency.

So my question is why did president walk that back and go, you know, stop short of calling it a national emergency -- calling it a public health emergency? Is it because he didn't understand the difference between the two or because there's just not the money there after so many hurricanes hit the country, or he doesn't understand the extent of the problem?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the main point of what he was trying to do there is just shining a spotlight on what's going on right now with this epidemic in the country.

And to be perfectly honest with you, I don't know is this is a problem that government can solve. What we have going on right now is very different from what we saw in the 1980s and what we've seen in the years past with various other drug addiction explosions in terms of numbers.

Now, the drug dealers, you have this certain idea in your head of what a drug dealer looks like. Now the drug dealers are guys with receding hair lines and stethoscopes and degrees from fancy universities. And it's people from every age range. It's people from every racial background. It's people from every geographic area who are addicted to these things.

I was on a plane last week and this woman who had to be in her 50s threw her purse on the seat next to me, like five pill bottles came out. I thought it was Graceland. And this woman could be a grandma.

VAUSE: Right.

PHILLIPS: And they probably don't consider themselves to be drug addicts but they take lots of drugs but they get it from a pharmacy. They don't buy it off the street.

SESAY: And Howard, to that point. I mean you hear -- and you know, you're on the front lines but you hear what the president said calling it a public health emergency and then you also hear him talk about, you know, big, big, bold advertising, effectively, just say no, so people just don't start down this road. You heard that today and thought what?

SAMUELS: Well, you know, it's about education, it's about treatment, it's about interventions. The heroin epidemic, the opioid epidemic has been here for a long, long time. it's been years, ok? And it's just got worse.

And like I said, you know, before it's now through every community, rural, city, suburban area than it was 50 years ago. It's not going away. We've got to treat it. And that's what we have to do solve it.

And these ideas about more money -- well, where's the money going? We ought to have government-sponsored treatment programs that are lock- down facilities where the addicts have to spend at least a year in treatment. Not three days, 20 days. I mean it's a joke.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, the "New York Times" editorial criticized the lack of funding -- or additional funding and then added this. "Combine this with his" -- as in Donald Trump -- "repeated attempts to gut health care for poor and middle class Americans and the President has offered few tangible solutions for a scourge that now kills about 50,000 Americans a year."

Wendy -- I just want to pick up on John's point thought. John is saying that this is a problem which maybe government cannot solve. Then who solves it?

GREUEL: Well, exactly. And I think that when you have a problem that is this -- I guess, you know, pursuing every single house in this country is impacted by it one way or another -- all of us may know someone who is addicted in this crisis. The federal government does have to step in on a number of levels.

And I think the frustration is that we've been waiting since July. There's this big report, this is a crisis. So now, some will say well, it's a crisis but we're not going to put any funding and it's going to -- it's only 90 days, that emergency is only declared for that 90 days.

This is something that is going to take years to solve and we have to be able step up to the plate and say we have a role to play. We have to be able to look at funding. We have to look at laws. And not kick it down -- you know, the can down the road.

SESAY: And then John -- just to ask you because this is something that affects, you know, working class people across every band and every stratus, we've already said. But, you know, Donald Trump supporters -- they have a large block, who are working class, they are affected by this issue. Are they going to see what the President did today as a promise kept?

PHILLIPS: Well, I think it largely is a public relations campaign that he's putting on. So they'll see on the front page of their paper. It will be something that they talk about.

But in terms of fighting it, I would go back to the future -- what did we do in the 1980s? We went after the drug dealers. Right now, I'd go after the doctors. I'd go after these pill mills.

[00:09:53] There are some facilities that exist out there that exist solely to provide people with these pills when they don't need it and people get addicted to it. They die of overdoses. I'd go after those people.

VAUSE: Howard -- the problem that we have right now is that, you know, John says go after the drug dealers. But you have a member of congress who was nominated -- or Trump's pick to be the drug czar who is actually helping big pharma by weakening the laws of the Drug Enforcement Agency so they could distribute more opioid pills around the country.

SAMUELS: Well, I mean that's why, you know, this whole administration, the way they're handling it is a joke. And I've got to say, I used to be a heroin dealer. I mean I'm a recovering heroin addict. I used to sell heroin.

So it's not so much the dealers, most of them are addicts trying to support their habit. That's why we need to educate. It's the cartels. And it's not just about the pills anymore that the doctors are doing which is beyond and beyond. But there is heroin by the cartels in every community in this country. What's going on?

SESAY: I mean Wendy -- it's multi-layered.

GREUEL: Multi-layered.

SESAY: Multi-layered problem.

GREUEL: And it can't be just a public relations campaign. It has to be more than that. It has to be looking at drug treatment. It has to be looking at educating people about the fact that you can get addicted to these drugs.

And it means that you're going to have to have in every, you know, department that's in the federal government is going to have to work together to address this.

PHILLIPS: I don't think that's realistically going to happen though. I mean we have schizophrenics living on the streets right now. We can't throw them and lock them up. There's no way we're going to be able to come up with the money or have the courts agree to let us take people and put them in facilities for a year. I don't see that happening any time soon.

GREUEL: But I think the important part is that we have to deal with it at every single level. And the simplification of this that Donald Trump is trying to say is just, you know, we're going to declare this emergency and in 90 days we'll look back at it again.

We have to step up to the plate. And do more to address that at every single level of federal government.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, President Trump made a very rare mention of his older brother, Fred, who was an alcoholic and struggled with that addiction and died at age 43. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I had a brother, Fred. Great guy, best looking guy, best personality -- much better than mine.

But he had a problem. He had a problem with alcohol. And he would tell me -- don't drink, don't drink. He was substantially older and I listened to him and I respected. But he would constantly tell me, don't drink. He'd also add, don't smoke.

But he would say it over and over and over again. And to this day I've never had a drink. And I have no longing for it. I have no interest in it. To this day I've never had a cigarette.

Don't worry. Those are only two of my good things. I don't want to tell you about the bad things. There's plenty of bad things, too.


VAUSE: So Howard -- clearly, you know, Donald Trump understands the pain of addiction, but what he seems to have the emphasis on here is educating kids before they actually have the opportunity to start using opioid or abusing heroin. In his case just don't take up substances if you're vulnerable to substance abuse.

What seems to be lacking is the immediate empathy and care and treatment needed which is needed right now.

SAMUELS: Exactly. Well, exactly. And, you know, if you get arrested for heroin like I did in the 70s. I was given a choice of four years in prison or a year in rehab. That saved my life. Ok?

There's got to be a combination of government and law enforcement that pushes the addicts into treatment against their will. Because the addict, like I was, we were crazy, ok?

And if we don't do something to intervene in a very strong manner on the treatment level, there's going to be a lot more dead people.

SESAY: And John -- to pick up on Howard's point about law enforcement and the combination with treatment, there is again that contradiction that Jeff Sessions' Justice Department seems to be taking a much harsher line when it comes to drug addiction or at least sale of drugs and the rest of it.

There is that kind of contradiction, right, they're going hard. The rest of the administration is trying to find a way to kind of help these people out of the problem.

PHILLIPS: Right. And this isn't new. We saw the Rockefeller drug laws back in the 1970s where they very aggressively went after people who were using illegal drugs.

But look, I mean I have a strong libertarian streak in me and I just don't think the government will ever -- regardless of how much money you spend -- the government will never be able to fully solve this problem.

You look at little kids when they see one of those swivel chairs. They twirl around the chair because they're trying to alter their reality. People have been trying to alter their reality since the beginning of humanity. Some people can do it in moderation, some people can't. And it's just not something government can fix.

[00:15:02] VAUSE: Just very quickly. The opioid epidemic, it's spread across, you know, the eastern United States, the highest where a drug overdose is in West Virginia. Between 2014 and 2015, the CDC found there was an alarming increase in number of overdoses in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

Wendy -- last year, West Virginia and Pennsylvania went for Donald Trump while, you know, Hillary Clinton narrowly took New Hampshire. So in pure political terms, this is a bipartisan problem. Doesn't that mean that there should be some kind of a solution on how to solve it?

GREUEL: Absolutely. And I think those e that voted for Donald Trump are saying, where's, you know -- where's the real solutions here because --

VAUSE: Where's the beef?

GREUEL: Yes. Where's the beef? You can put your head in the sand and say if the problem has existed forever and it's going to away with no intervention. It means there has to be intervention at every single level

And I think today it was short on details as to how they're actually going to do it. It was again, a comment about we're going to do something but there was no meat there.

VAUSE: We're out of time. But there's also questions too about the President's attention span and how long he will be engaged in this before he moves on to something else. Wendy and John -- thank you. And also Howard -- thanks so much for coming back.

SESAY: Howard -- appreciate it. Thank you.

SAMUELS: You're welcome. Thank you.

VAUSE: Appreciate it.

SESAY: Well, we have extensive coverage of the opioid crisis in the U.S. on our Web site. Hear from those fighting a day-in day-out battle against deadly drugs and those who have managed to kick their addictions. That's all for you at

VAUSE: We will take a break.

When we come back, there are new details on that ISIS ambush in Niger which left four U.S. soldiers and five Nigerian troops dead.

SESAY: Plus (INAUDIBLE) in Spain as Catalonia's leader walks back his bid for independence -- what this means for the country in crisis.


VAUSE: Well, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis quite literally staring down North Korea. He arrived at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea less than two hours ago.

SESAY: Mattis says the U.S. goal is not war with North Korea but complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Mattis is in South Korea to meet with military officials there. It comes a week before U.S. President Donald Trump heads to the region.

It's not known if Trump himself will visit the DMZ but it seems unlikely from everything we've been hearing.

VAUSE: Well, CNN is learning new details about the ISIS ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. and five Nigerian troops in early October. A Nigerian soldier describes outnumbered U.S. soldiers fighting to the very end holding off a determined attack. The wounded U.S. and Nigerian soldiers were able to kill 20 ISIS terrorists during that firefight.

SESAY: Well, the Nigerian eyewitness, he was among the first on the scene, described that he'd seen the convoy of the U.S.-Niger the day before and he claims he was surprised at how few troops were out there in a dangerous area. He said they had just one machine gun at the time no flak jackets.

Our Arwa Damon is in Niger's capital with more.


[00:20:04] ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A Nigerian soldier who we spoke to, his unit was first on the scene, describes how when they arrived the surviving American and Nigerian troops were back to back in defensive positions. Many of them were wounded.

He says that he saw the bodies of two of the American soldiers in the back of a U.S. vehicle, a third one very close by and then the bodies of three Nigerian troops.

He says that helicopters first arrived to evacuate the wounded and then to take away those who had been killed in this horrific battle. He said that villagers later told him and his unit that the attackers as they were trying to withdraw set portions of the landscape on fire to create a smoke screen.

His unit along with another unit overnighted. He describes how more Americans arrived this time with night vision capabilities trying to search for the body of Sergeant La David Johnson. They did not find him that night; the search resuming the next day.

And then the village chief coming out and telling the soldiers that he believed he knew where the body was and that was when they were able to recover it.

The soldier who we spoke to said that the Green Berets and their Nigerian counterparts had actually stopped at his base the day before the attack. He did not know where they were going. But then he said when they received the news that they had been ambushed he was surprised that they had actually even been out on a mission because he described them as being a light convoy meaning a convoy that does not have sufficient or significant enough manpower or firepower.

He himself has been rotating in and out of the zone for the last five years and he was saying that when he and his own men go out on missions especially those that go deep into this very volatile area, they move around in a force that is at least 80 to a hundred soldiers.

He also expressed his surprise that the U.S. was not monitoring already these troops as they were going on what we now know to be an intelligence gathering mission against a high value target.

And he was also quite surprised that the U.S. did not have a more aggressive response to this attack. He said that perhaps it's now the time for America to reassess its mission in Niger, reassess how it is carrying out its mission in Niger because as he put it, terrorism has now arrive to Niger. And what the Americans are doing here so far, it is not generating sufficient results.

Arwa Damon, CNN -- Niamey.


VAUSE: Well, the showdown between Spain and Catalonia is down to the wire with all eyes on parliaments in Barcelona and Madrid. The leader of Catalonia is backing away from a plan to call snap elections and is putting the decision now to his parliament.

SESAY: And this as Spain's senate is set to move on Friday whether to suspend the wealthy region's autonomy. Catalan and Spanish leaders have been in a political deadlock since Catalonia held an independence vote more than three weeks ago.

VAUSE: And now our European affairs contributor, Dominic Thomas is with us now. Dominic's also chair of the Department of French and Francophone studies at UCLA.

Thank you for coming in.

Ok. We're now in this this cycle where one action triggers another and triggers another. The Spanish Senate expected to prove the use of article 155. Explain what will happen after that and then the chain of events of, you know, after each event has --

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. So there's been, yes back and forth constantly. We're waiting for the Catalonia parliament to weigh in today. That's sort of, you know continuing on until tomorrow morning.

But the big event really to monitor is that the Senate were Prime Minister Rajoy has gone to ask for them to essentially back up Measure 155 which would allow him to legally put the region of Catalonia into receivership.

The process has already started. Media outlets have already been controlled by the government, TV3 and others. They will take over different institutions. They will send ministers into the area to control the financing and so on.

And perhaps the most sort of problematic aspect of it is take over the local police force, which of course is going to upset people in the area.

VAUSE: I mean putting aside the police force because you know, that could either be an area of conflict or (INAUDIBLE) wait and see what happens. But essentially, when this takeover is done, I guess to what extent it is done, will there be any real noticeable change to daily life?

THOMAS: Well, the daily life is going to be the disruption that's going to happen if article 155 is officially triggered and they start to come in and control the area. And I think that this is the goal of Carles Puigdemont. I mean this is why --

[00:25:01] VAUSE: But the banks still open on time. The schools are still open. You know, life goes on. People won't notice anything --

THOMAS: Well, I think they will because there will be civil disobedience.

VAUSE: Right. Ok.

THOMAS: I think that there will be separatists who will occupy some of these buildings. They will be obstructionists. The tensions in the air already so heightened by weeks of this going on and it has become the most divisive question in the area where there is no longer any neutrality. You're either for or you're against. This is splitting apart the community. They're under financial pressure from economic exodus and other such banks (ph).

VAUSE: I guess it's a reaction to that move that will cause the upset. The move in and of itself doesn't mean massive changes for the people of Catalonia.

THOMAS: No. Because they will be governed by someone else.


THOMAS: But I think that there will be enough obstruction to the possibility of that happening. And that's where the tensions will ratchet up.

VAUSE: Ok. So Madrid was pushing through these elections in December. They saw that as a way out in December. The Catalan president Carles Puigdemont briefly seemed to be on board and then suddenly got cold feet. Why?

THOMAS: right. I think that it's a lose-lose situation. Right now the outcome is such though it's highly unpredictable. Folks in the area, of course, who do not support independence or who found out the potential consequences of independence such as exiting from the European Union and so on, will not support this.

And so that is the point at which he cannot predict winning and probably knowing that the support is not there to pass the ball back to Madrid that already has the support of the King and of the E.U., further gives oxygen to the narrative that the region is being treated unfairly by Madrid and that can potentially, as far as Puigdemont goes galvanize support for his cause. It's the only thing he has left right now.

VAUSE: Because he's getting it from both sides, right?

THOMAS: Absolutely. Within his -- huge divisions now within the party who understand some of these consequence and he has a very narrow lead because of this relationship with the CUP within his parliament and so any vote is likely to disrupt him.

So his way out of it is to say that even if they were to run regional elections he's not sure that he can trust that Madrid won't interfere with it in such a way to shape the outcome.

VAUSE: And all this -- yet another weekend of uncertainty across Spain.

THOMAS: Right. And potential huge civil disobedience and instability there.

VAUSE: We'll keep a close eye.

Dominic -- thank you so much. Appreciate it.

THOMAS: Thank you.

SESAY: Coming up, the White House releases some of the secret files on the killing of John F. Kennedy. So what's in the records the White House is keeping under wraps.


VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.

The headlines this hour.

U.S. President Donald Trump has declared the country's opioid crisis a public health emergency but the memorandum he signed says it does not call for new money to combat the massive problem. And that means relief funds won't be available right away.

Congress hasn't (INAUDIBLE) to the public health emergency fund in recent years.

[00:30:00] VAUSE: CNN is learning new details about the ambush in Niger which killed four U.S. and Nigerian soldiers. A U.S. Defense official says the U.S. convoy became separated in the ambush but they were still able to kill 20 ISIS militants during the firefight.



ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: The White House has released some but not all of the documents related to the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963. So far, no groundbreaking revelations.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: The Warren Commission concluded decades ago that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy and right now CNN has (INAUDIBLE) --


VAUSE: -- all these documents trying to find those nuggets. But we have found a few interesting things so far.

SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) in Mexico City weeks before the assassination. He called a KGB officer at the Russian embassy there. And after the assassination, a cable (ph) describes a Cuban intelligence officer who said he knew Oswald, saying Oswald must have been a good shot.

VAUSE: At least 2,800 documents have been made public by the National Archives. This happened just a few hours ago. But the president is keeping 300 files private at least for now. The CIA is also reviewing 18,000 other records and says those will ultimately be released as well.

SESAY: Earlier I spoke to Larry Sabato. He is the author of "The Kennedy Half Century" and the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. I asked him about the significance of Thursday's document release.


SESAY: There was a great amount of excitement surrounding the release of the JFK files. As you know, the president himself seemed to have caught the bug. This is what he tweeted on Wednesday.

"The long anticipated release of the JFK files will take place tomorrow. So interesting."

Then, come the day, Larry, only some of the documents were released, others withheld, pending a six month review. We're learning this is due to pressure brought by the FBI and CIA.

My question to you is, after all this time, is there still a credible argument to be made by these agencies that the release of these documents would have been harmful to national security?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: In 99 percent of the cases or more, I don't believe that it's justified. There may be a few cases of a contact, a source for the United States or an operative for the United States, who is either still active or whose family is prominent.

It's possible that you could make an argument that somebody might be in danger. I could understand redacting that name. But it's always abused. It's always overused. The CIA and FBI and much of the government overclassifies. They do it all the time.

We've even seen cases of newspaper clippings marked "secret." They're published newspaper clippings. That what government does. Knowledge is power. They have the power and they don't want everybody else to have it.

SESAY: Bearing that in mind, and as you put it, their desire to exert power, the tweet in and of itself that the president put out on Wednesday raises questions. I don't know to you but to me it raises questions about the sequence of events in all of this.

The president on Wednesday was saying this stuff is coming out and it's interesting, basically like up geeing up the tension. And then this happens.

How do you read how this played out behind the scenes, as you know the battles that happen to get papers released?

SABATO: My own sources say this all happened in the White House at the last minute or I should say for the president at the last minute. There's been someone on the National Security Council looking at some of this material and talking with the agencies for some time.

But apparently, maybe cleverly the CIA and the FBI waited until the last possible moment and then delivered powerful memos and got allies to contact the president or key people in the White House that absolutely these things cannot be released, they will threaten national security, they will threaten our foreign policy and threaten our national defense.

So you could say, what's the president to do?

My answer to that is it's been 54 years since the assassination. They've had 25 years with an exact date set on October 26th, 1992, that in 25 years, October 26th, 2017, all of this should have been released or must have been released.

Well, we all know that now it's going to be another six months for the good stuff. They've withheld a lot of the good stuff. It's a lot of gossip in the pieces I've been through so far. But I wonder if we will ever see a lot of it. I'm really discouraged.

SESAY: The documents that your team there at the university are poring through, 2,800 documents that were released, just a few tidbits coming out, for instance we're learning that a memo was sent, warning the FBI director and then attorney general, Bobby Kennedy, of a book coming out that detailed what the author characterized as "an intimate relationship" between Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, stuff that has been out there, gossip, as you say.

My question is, I know you haven't been through all of them, the papers just came out. But what's your sense of the historical value of the pages released so far?

SABATO: We've actually found some very interesting nuggets. Not all of them relate directly to the assassination. But I think there's a lot in here. Much of it, of course, is ancient history, certainly to most Americans and most people around the world.

But for historians and for people who study the presidency, there is a lot of interesting information. I just hope that the attention isn't drawn purely to the shiny objects, like whether Bobby Kennedy had an affair with Marilyn Monroe. Maybe that would have been important at one time; it is insignificant today.

SESAY: As you know, in 2013, which was the 50th anniversary of the death of JFK, there a lot of polling done and basically several of them found that many Americans believe that the murder was not the work of one man but part of a broader plot.

In fact, Gallup found that 61 percent felt it was a conspiracy involving others, just 30 percent said it was the work of one man.

My question to you is why has this line of thinking persisted?

And what the withholding of these thousands of pages will do for all those conspiracy theorists out there?

SABATO: In a poll conducted for my own book, "The Kennedy Half Century," in 2013, the 50th anniversary of the assassination, we actually found 75 percent of Americans believed in some form of conspiracy.

Why did it happen?

Because it was the crime of the century at the time at least and I think you could argue for the entire 20th century. Second, there were so many unanswered questions. It was clear that the Warren Commission wasn't told everything, that many avenues were not explored and over time, the questions raised became cumulative.

Most Americans who lived through this didn't believe it was just one person even then.

SESAY: Larry, final question before I let you go because I want to pick up on something you said. You said you hoped that the good stuff is released in time evenly after the six-month review.

What do you mean by the good stuff?

SABATO: The good stuff is going to be the information about Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico City just seven weeks before the assassination. Credible report, reported by the FBI director in the 1960s, suggested that Lee Harvey Oswald said before leaving the Cuban embassy, "I'm going to kill John F. Kennedy."

Well, did anybody else know that?

Was the information ever transmitted to anybody?

And more generally why did the CIA and the FBI drop the ball on Lee Harvey Oswald, one of about nine defectors to the Soviet Union, and one who came back and immediately started campaigning for Fidel Castro?

This was a unusual individual who was sending up red flags galore. He should have been followed carefully. They did follow him but not nearly enough and they never told the Secret Service what they were doing.

SESAY: I just want to say that the questions persist. We'll see what happens. I can't wait to get your take on all 2,800 pages to be precise that your people are poring through. Thank you so much for joining us.

SABATO: Thank you very much.

VAUSE: Still to come here, actress Ashley Judd revealed she made a deal with the disgraced movie producer, Harvey Weinstein, to save herself from his unwanted sexual advances.




VAUSE: Well for the first time since publicly accusing Weinstein of misconduct, Ashley Judd is sharing with the ABC network how she escaped his sexual advances.

SESAY: And the movie star explained how she tricked Weinstein by making a disturbing deal for sex with a big condition.


ASHLEY JUDD, ACTOR: He kept coming back at me with all this other stuff. And finally, I just said, "When I win an Oscar in one of your movies, OK?"

And he's like, yes, when you get nominated.

I said, "No, when I win an Oscar."

And then I just fled. And then I just fled.

Which I think, you know, am I proud of that?

I'm of two minds. The part that shames myself says no. The part of me that understands the way shame works says, that was absolutely brilliant, good job, kid, you got out of there. Well done.


VAUSE: Whatever you've got to do, at the end of the day.

OK, here's an unlikely duo. Pop star Lady Gaga and former U.S. vice president Joe Biden teaming up to promote awareness of sexual assault.

SESAY: They released this public service announcement as part of the "It's on Us" campaign.

Which Biden started with former president Barack Obama.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to make it real clear, it's on us. It's on everyone to intervene, to stop abuse when they see it and when they hear about it to intervene.

LADY GAGA, POP STAR: I am a sexual assault survivor and I know the effects, the aftermath, the trauma, psychological, physical, mental. It can be terrifying what you have everyday feeling unsafe in your own body.

So we're here to remind you that it's important to reach out to someone in your life that you can trust and to know that they will be there to help you.


SESAY: You must not suffer in silence. That is the truth. You must reach out.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT" and then we'll be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.