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Nigerien Soldier: U.S. Convoy Separated During Ambush; U.S. Releases Most But Not all of JFK Assassination Files; Turning Point in the War on Sexual Harassment. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired October 27, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:31:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We have a CNN exclusive for you now. New details emerging about the ambush in Niger that killed those four U.S. soldiers. A Nigerien soldier whose unit was first on the scene after the attack providing a firsthand account of what he witnessed.
And CNN's Arwa Damon is the first U.S. correspondent on the ground in Niger. She joins us with her exclusive reporting -- Arwa.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
And this soldier and his unit arrived on scene. They were the first on scene following this horrendous, chilling attack. And he was describing how he saw the remaining surviving American and Nigerien soldiers back to back in defensive positions.
He said that he was quite impressed by their courage and the fact that they seemed to determined to fight until the very end. And the, of course, tragically, he saw the bodies of two U.S. soldiers in the back of an American vehicle, another third U.S. soldier's body found very close by as well as the bodies of three Nigeriens.
He also described how some portions of the landscape were still smoldering. Villagers later telling him and his unit that it was, in fact, the attackers that set portions of the brush on on fire to create a smokescreen so they could escape.
How the attack unfolded, it seems that initially it was carried out by eight vehicles that managed to shoot out the convoy and cause it to split apart. Two vehicles separated from the rest. And then, according to other wounded Nigerien soldiers, dozens of attackers arrived on motorcycle fully encircling the Americans and the Nigeriens.
What the soldier was telling us is he was quite surprised because he says the American Green Berets and their counterparts arrived at the base on October 3rd, a day before the attack. He did not know where they were going. When he later got the orders to move out very quickly because they had to respond to the ambush, he said that he didn't understand why the U.S. and the Nigeriens would have gone out in such a light convoy. By that he means not is sufficiently manned, without sufficient manpower, given from at least his and his unit's perspective, the threat that existed within this zone. His own unit only goes out if they are able to amass a force of at least 80 to 100 soldiers, John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Arwa Damon for us in Niger, important new information. Thanks so much for being on the ground there.
Meantime, back here in the United States, heavy rain, actually I think the meteorological term is wicked heavy rain is expected to drench the East Coast this weekend.
CNN's Chad Myers with our forecast.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, John.
A good Saturday, but a very wet and windy Sunday for all the Northeast, from Connecticut, Rhode Island, all the way up to Maine.
This weather is brought to you by Humana. Start with healthy.
Here's how it starts -- a snowstorm over the northern Great Lakes was trying to combine with a tropical storm that didn't get a name yet but it probably won't because of the cold front down to the south. Those two things come together. We were looking at a perfect storm, the kind that sank the Andrea Gail years and years ago. Not going to happen, but we're still going to get a 60 mile per hour storm, just not a 100-mile-per-hour storm, that that tropical moisture, that tropical energy could have produced.
Now, this is still going to turn into a nor'easter. Four to six inches of rainfall upstate. Maybe more across eastern Pennsylvania. This would be -- we fast forward to January. This is a two or three- foot snowstorm. We'll take the rain because you don't have to shovel it -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Oh, OK, I understand that logic. Thank you very much, Chad.
All right. President Trump, as you know, from time to time loves engaging in conspiracy theories. Well, now, he has the authority to release the nation's most classified document. But he is not releasing all of them. We discuss it, next.
[06:39:02] BERMAN: All right. The Trump administration released most but not all of the classified files in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. President Trump expressed his frustration with last minute requests from several national security agency, saying in a White House memo: I have no choice but to allow the redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation's security.
I want to bring back John Avlon and bring in CNN political commentator Errol Louis.
You know, of course, the president himself treated this a little bit like a game show or a reality show in the run-up to the revelation overnight. He said big document release coming in days finally going to learn these details. Then last minute he pulls them back.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, regretting all the while he has to be president. Not just roll out the information but actually take care of the valid concerns that may be on out there by national security agencies saying, well, you know, there are certain things we just don't want to release right now.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm not buying valid after 50 years, folks, right? I mean, first of all, they have had 25 years to prepare for this.
[06:40:04] The deadline didn't sneak up on them. And still, it appears that they were trying to redact things at the last minute, like a college student cramming for an exam.
CAMEROTA: And why is that? Meaning that --
AVLON: Well, I think they have been in denial this would ever come because they figured they could convince the president not -- to keep delaying, delaying, delaying. There's clearly something embarrassing there, as well as some potential compromising information.
But good on for Trump for making this a priority. He appears to have had his hand sort of forced at the last minute. But there is a governmental impulse for toward secrecy that overwhelms common sense very often when we actually see the documents they've been fighting to keep sealed.
BERMAN: John Avlon, the Roger Stone of morning television.
BERMAN: Roger Stone, of course, the sometimes advisor to President Trump, famous political operative, he writes this, this morning: the deep state boys will undermine the president's order by redacting and withholding as much information as they can. Unsealed JFK documents show the KGB thought that LBJ did it.
That last one was a little kicker, because, of course, Roger Stone has written books about this.
AVLON: Yes, I mean, you know, professional conspiracy theories and former Trump adviser, Roger Stone. But I agree with him on the impulse to keep things secret. I mean, you know, Pat Moynihan wrote a book on that, too. It's a larger problem.
I think, you know, he is obviously trying to sell his book.
CAMEROTA: What about the rollout? I'm just curious. Why are we in tenterhooks for hours? Waiting, that documents will come soon -- what happened with the Trump rollout yesterday? LOUIS: Now, it seems to me like it was more of the game show than
anything else. Yes, I mean, the drama and so forth.
I think there is something to be said for not wanting to feed the beast, and the beast being the conspiracy theorists. Something like 1 percent, less than 2 percent of all the possible documents have been revealed. If you got when you include things as we discovered in different context, files that will be, you know -- FBI files, CIA files that are just, you know, sort of scraps of information, rumors, completely unconfirmed.
There's one document was released saying that some notion that LBJ was part of the Ku Klux Klan. If you know his politics, he was anything but that.
BERMAN: Can we make the most awkward segue of all time here and talk about something else that happened with the administration yesterday, which was the president's opioid announcement, declaring it a public health emergency. Not a national emergency which there had been some suggestion he would, which means there is no new federal funding for it. But, Errol, a public health emergency which will refocus some federal resources and shine a spotlight on it.
LOUIS: That's right. It's not nothing. The people who are complaining that, well, there should be billions of dollars. We should be able to raid FEMA and take away from the rebuilding of Houston or the rebuilding of Puerto Rico in order to apply it to this might be a little bit misguided.
CAMEROTA: Because it does get money, federal funds are going to go to fight the opioid crisis?
BERMAN: Not new money.
LOUIS: There will be retargeted money. It will free up some resources.
But money is not the real problem here. The fact that 100 people are dying every single day from these overdoses, you know, we have already heard loose talk yesterday that I think suggests we need this national conversation. When the president said one more reason we need the wall. Well, the wall is not how fentanyl was getting into, you know, West Virginia or New Hampshire, right? And so, we've got to have sort of a rational conversation and figure out what the level of attack will be and then and only then should you start talking about the money.
AVLON: Yes. The president campaigned on this. This is something that has been a crisis. It has been snowballing for years, right? And then 90-day time period isn't sufficient, because it took more than 90 days to get where we are, which is an outright epidemic in terms of death. It has nothing to do with border crossings per se. These are drug dealers wearing lab coats and have taken advantage of pill mills in small towns, particularly in the industrial Midwest.
And an ad campaign, along the lines of just say no isn't going to do the job either. But this does need a concerted focus and is frankly overdue.
CAMEROTA: Well, look, so many people and so many families are struggling with this crisis. And the president talked about how addiction affected his life and his family. So, let's listen to that moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 would also add don't smoke. But he would say it over and over and over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: That is such an affecting moment because it's authentic and it's personal. And Trump's family has been touched by addiction, the story of his brother Fred. It was also a little flash of self- deprecating humor, which is not the president's signature, but is highly effective when deployed.
BERMAN: But it's also just say no, which worked for President Trump, which is great. I mean, it was terrific he was able to abstain his whole life from alcohol.
[06:45:03] But it has proven not to have been as effective for so many people over the generation since Nancy Reagan said it. You got to have other strategies as well to fighting --
CAMEROTA: Well, we'll see what this changes in terms of fighting this epidemic. So many people did vote for President Trump. We have interviewed them, because they thought he would immediately try to do something.
LOUIS: Most people who kick chemical addiction don't go through kind of program. It's a difficult problem to try and tackle.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. Gentlemen, thank you very much for the conversation.
So, it has been dubbed the Weinstein effect. Women speaking up about sexual abuse and sexual harassment and the powerful men responsible being called to account. What's next in this movement?
CAMEROTA: So it's been called the Weinstein effect. Just look at the spate of recent headlines, all of these after the flood of sexual harassment allegations against men in powerful positions.
Is this a watershed moment for sexual harassment? Let's discuss it with CNN political commentator and Republican
consultant Margaret Hoover, and CNN legal analyst and civil rights attorney Areva Martin.
[06:50:00] Ladies, great to see you.
How is this not watershed moment, Margaret? I mean, every single day, there is a new revelation about some powerful men. Obviously, yesterday, we saw Mark Halperin, who's been I think independently suspended while they figure out what's happening at NBC. More actress have come forward against director James Toback. People who were silent a year ago or just two months ago are now speaking out publicly.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is a refreshing moment, I think probably cathartic for many of the individuals who have felt silenced by behavior that they probably felt ashamed by, and a really welcomed, frankly surprising series of events that I think will only get us to a place where there is a more universal acceptance of what good behavior for men is, on behalf of men and women, as well as sort of an instructive framework for how women can use language to stand up for themselves when these bad things happen.
CAMEROTA: This is a teachable moment. Call it watershed. It feels different than it would have two years ago.
HOOVER: I can't help but hat tip Gretchen Carlson for demonstrating that this -- David can take on Goliath and this can happen, really the actions of one very courageous woman.
BERMAN: You know, Areva, some of the phrases you hear open secrets. I mean, you heard that with Harvey Weinstein, we heard it now with Mark Halperin. People will say, you know, everyone knew this was going on. Does this mean these open secrets, there will be no more open secrets. They will be secret no longer?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think that's a good question, John. The real issue is where do we go from here? This all started, if we think about it, with Gretchen Carlson. We can go back 25 years to Anita Hill, to those hearings we watched unfold on television when she accused then Clarence Thomas, before he was appointed to the Supreme Court of sexual harassment.
After that I watched as a civil rights attorney laws being enacted like sexual harassment training. Here we are 25 years after Anita Hill talking about things like, in California potentially, a new law that may prevent nondisclosure agreements from being used in sexual harassment cases. So, so much has happened since Anita Hill, but in some ways so little has changed, because now, we are learning women, for the last two plus decades have been suffering in some cases in silence. This is a really significant moment, I think.
CAMEROTA: So that brings us to former President George H.W. Bush, 93 years old, wheelchair bound. Two women have come forward saying he was inappropriate with them. Where are we on the spectrum with this? Does he get a pass because he is 93 years old and wheelchair bound, or is this part of the large net we are now casting with a lot of people?
HOOVER: Look, I mean, as we said in our previous segment, this has really been a watershed moment for men who have, in a position of authority, exploited the money and the power to prey on young women who were not in positions of power for decades and decades. And the name Harvey Weinstein and the name Bill O'Reilly and name Roger Ailes belongs nowhere, not even close in a sentence to the name George H.W. Bush, a man has who nobly served this country for so many years, has historically had account after account biographically characterized who he is as a man as a person --
CAMEROTA: But on this one, if he is making inappropriate jokes and he's grabbing women's rear ends, that's OK?
HOOVER: What it seems to me as somebody who is inclined to respect the bold patriotism of literally --
HOOVER: Do I think grabbing women's years and making jokes about touching them is funny? Of course not. I think it is inappropriate and I think it's unfortunate. It is not even in the same category, in fact, it's mission creep to begin to put them altogether because it does a disservice to this sort of watershed progress we are hoping to make to lump this old man into the same category.
MARTIN: I have a different take on this. Clearly some men need education and some men need prison. George Bush falls into a man who needs education. And I bet if Mark Halperin had been, you know, tapped on the shoulder by someone the first time he made inappropriate comments or did anything remotely considered sexual harassment, he wouldn't be in the position he is now, having lost a book deal, HBO deal and facing termination from his job.
So, I don't think we sweep what George Bush is doing under the rugs. Obviously, we don't characterize it with Harvey Weinstein, but we do say something is offensive, if it is offensive.
[06:55:02] Now, it can be less offensive than what Harvey Weinstein or Mark Halperin or someone else has done, but nonetheless it is offensive and it's appropriate and George Bush should know better. And if he doesn't know better, someone needs to give him one of those anti-sexual harassment classes because he shouldn't be touching women on the behind. He shouldn't be telling dirty jokes and I bet he would rather someone tell him now than a year from now, and 20 women come forward to say that he's engaged in this kind of conduct.
So, this is about accountability as much as it is about having this discussion, where do we go from where and I think we got a whole George Bush accountable just like we hold this other men.
CAMEROTA: And I mean, I think it's generational, right? I mean, he's 93 years old. The rules were much different.
BERMAN: But that was Harvey Weinstein's initial defense of himself is generational --
HOOVER: I think that's fair. Everybody who knows George H.W. Bush, says this is out of character for him. I think, you know, things change when you're 93 between -- you're a different person when you're 93 versus -- yes, I hear you.
It's unfortunate he's been a wheelchair for five years when he puts his hand around anything, it just happens to be at waist level. I don't think this is a dirty old man. I think this is a man who's gotten older and, you know, I think sometimes older men say more inappropriate things. I think you lose a little bit of your ability too self sensor. He has never had a history of this in his past. So, I think that also deserves to be put in context.
CAMEROTA: Areva, you're laughing.
MARTIN: I want to help George Bush. I don't want George Bush to go down the road of some of these other men and I think if we sugarcoat, that's the risk that we're on. I think someone needs to pull him aside and say this is inappropriate conduct.
HOOVER: His wife did that.
MARTIN: I may have been OK 50 years but it's not OK.
CAMEROTA: Communication, setting the boundaries, all of it is good. So, Areva, thank you. Margaret, thank you.
BERMAN: All right, guys. For decades, Americans have been consumed by conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination. One of the newly released classified documents ends with a new cliffhanger about Lee Harvey Oswald. Was he working for the CIA?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are all of these nuggets coming up. Some of which are very interesting. Some of which are just confusing.