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VP Pence To Address Israel's Knesset; Senate To Vote On Plan To Reopen Government; Gymnasts Face Their Abuser. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 22, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:20] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The 101 Freeway in Santa Barbara County, California reopening 12 days after those deadly mudslides forced it to shut down.

About 100,000 vehicles a day forced to find alternate routes because those 12-foot high piles of mud and debris were just covering it. Traffic is beginning to flow again. Shortly after noon on Sunday is when everything reopened.

At least 21 people were killed, hundreds of homes destroyed or damaged in the mudslides that followed those deadly wildfires.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: House Speaker Paul Ryan removing Republican Congressman Patrick Meehan from the Ethics Committee and ordering he be investigated after a report that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint.

Several people familiar with the settlement telling "The New York Times" Meehan became hostile when a former aide didn't reciprocate his unwanted romantic advances. She eventually left her job.

Meehan denies the allegations.

HARLOW: Right now, Vice President Mike Pence is in Jerusalem. He is about to address Israeli lawmakers at the Knesset.

The Trump administration is, of course, preparing amid all this to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Our Oren Liebermann is live this morning for us in Jerusalem for us with more.

What are we expecting to hear from the vice president?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this will very much be the victory lap for Vice President Mike Pence after a swing through Jordan and a swing through Egypt. Here, he was greeted as the man of the hour.

And we don't expect anything out of the ordinary from his speech here. What we expect is a reaffirmation of the bond between Israel and the United States -- a bond between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump. We expect Pence to talk about moving the embassy, expected to happen sometime in the next year or so. And then, we expect Pence to say that Trump is still committed to a two-state solution and a peace process. That's something Pence talked about in both Jordan and in Egypt, even though Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel seems to have sent his plans there off the rails.

Something else Pence talked about while in Jordan while visiting American troops along the Syrian border, he said that -- he blamed the shutdown on Democrats and said it is Democrats that are holding these military troops hostage in the shutdown. So, Pence very much getting political here in his visit through the Middle East here.

Again, though, this will be the victory lap. He's been greeted here as the man of the hour.

Chris, it's worth pointing out quickly that there are essentially two kinds of protests here.

First, Arab members of Knesset will mostly not be inside as Pence speaks in opposition. And then, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who refused to meet Pence, is in Brussels meeting with the E.U., pushing an entirely different vision of how to proceed on a peace process.

CUOMO: Oren, appreciate it. Thank you for giving us a lay of the land.

Well, we know back here a group of bipartisan senators are working to find a legislative solution to reopen the government.

One of those senators is Chris Coons. Where do things stand? Does he have any hope for progress? The vote today, next.


[07:37:52] HARLOW: In just a few hours, the Senate will hold a procedural vote to try to reopen the government and fund it for just three weeks, the crux of their job.

Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promises to address protections for Dreamers. Says it's his intention to do so. Some Democrats saying I don't know if I buy that.

Joining me now is Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware. He's part of this group of 20 senators who have been working throughout the weekend, with a few breaks for football here and there, trying to end the shutdown.

We appreciate you being here. Congratulations to your Eagles.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), MEMBER, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Thank you, Poppy. I -- it was a great win by the Eagles but the Vikings had an amazing season as well.

HARLOW: Yes. It was rough for us, but congrats to you guys. OK, let's start with just a few basics today. Do you think the government will reopen at any point today?

COONS: I hope that it will. We should end this government shutdown. But what brought us into this was the chaos of trying to negotiate with President Trump over a number of important issues, as you well know, Poppy.

We've got undone homework here in the Senate. We haven't resolved, for months, funding disaster relief for hurricanes and wildfires, reauthorizing community health centers and the Children's Health Insurance Program, addressing DACA and border security, and coming up with an agreement for how much we will invest in defense --

HARLOW: But you could do that.

COONS: -- and domestic priorities.

HARLOW: You could --

COONS: We could do that and here's the progress.

HARLOW: You could do that with the government open again if --

COONS: Well --

HARLOW: -- fellow -- if you and some fellow Democrats would get on board as, you know, five red-state Democrats have in the Senate to a three-week, through February eighth, continuing resolution.

You just talked to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer three minutes ago, so?

COONS: So, I'll remind you what happened Friday night that brought us into this. We had an offer of a three --

HARLOW: Well, I'm asking you what Schumer said. I'm asking you what he said this morning because we're all interested in what his position is at this point in time. That's the question.

COONS: We are going to have a caucus meeting where we're going to consider what is the final offer on the table from the Republicans. I am hopeful we can move forward but we need to have a commitment we can, in fact, move forward on all of these things.

It is progress that Majority Leader McConnell, last night, said that DACA and border security are important and we will proceed to them, but what does that mean? If you're negotiating to buy a car --

[07:40:04] HARLOW: Yes.

COONS: -- it's good enough to have agreed on the price but at some point, you've got to look at the details, and we're looking at the details right now.

HARLOW: So, help with the details. Help finish this sentence for me. I will vote to reopen the government if -- what's the detail? What's your stick point?

COONS: If I can trust that we will, in fact, in the next three weeks resolve -- and we're very close to having resolved the Children's Health Insurance Program -- we can do that today -- community health centers -- we can do that today -- that there will be a vote on a strong bipartisan deal on DACA and --


COONS: -- border security, and that we can --

HARLOW: Well --

COONS: -- deal with investment in defense and domestic priorities.


COONS: I'll remind you, on Friday, the Department of Defense said no more short-term C.R.s. We need to move forward to funding the Department of Defense. That's why Republicans joined us Friday night in rejecting the 30-day C.R.

HARLOW: OK. But look, you sit on the Foreign Relations Committee and let's play --


HARLOW: -- part of what Defense Sec. James Mattis said also on Friday about his concern amid all of this -- roll it.


JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We do a lot of intelligence operations around the world and they cost money. Those, obviously, would stop.


HARLOW: Can you talk about your concern about funding Defense -- funding our military. He's saying look, these intelligence operations are stopping right now because the government shut down.

COONS: And I'll remind you that we Democrats offered a three-day C.R. so that we could stay here all weekend, hammer out the details, and reopen on Monday. That was rejected.

And, Sen. McCaskill of Missouri, who is a strong advocate for our military, offered an amendment that would ensure that our armed forces got paid during any shutdown -- that there wouldn't be an interruption for them. That was rejected.

There's not a lot of trust here. That's how we got here.

President Trump, very famously in a vulgar exchange more than 10 days ago now, rejected a strong bipartisan --

HARLOW: Right.

COONS: -- deal that would have moved us forward. If the president's not going to be constructive we need him to stay out of this and let the Senate be the Senate and resolve it.

HARLOW: Right. Well, he seems -- he seems to be staying out of it. I mean, the --

COONS: And I dedicated all day yesterday to meeting with Republicans to rebuild some of that trust.

HARLOW: So -- all right. So, the president -- I mean, we haven't seen him in three days. He's been tweeting to use a nuclear option. That's not going to happen if you ask Republicans.

But, you know, you say we have to rebuild trust.

Do you trust Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when he said last night in his quote, in his words, "my intention to proceed on legislation that would address DACA?" He's saying keep the government open, a February eighth impasse, and I'll do this.

Do you buy those words "my intention?"

COONS: Well, Poppy, one of the challenges we have as a body is that there are several members who are part of this negotiating group who pretty famously had promises from Leader McConnell that certain things would happen by certain dates --

HARLOW: Right, like Susan Collins on health care.

COONS: -- and frankly, those promises weren't kept.

HARLOW: So you don't believe him. Is that right? Just yes or no.

Do you believe him when he says my intention is to address DACA?

COONS: I'm seeking --

HARLOW: You come on board --

COONS: I'm seeking reassurances from Republicans in his caucus that they will also insist on this -- on this process on moving forward.

I think we can get there today. I will continue working on it --

HARLOW: But --

COONS: -- but I've got to have trust that we are committed to solving all of these problems, which we can.

HARLOW: Do the numbers in the new CNN poll, which I know you've looked at -- do those concern you at all because yes, overall, 84 percent of Americans want something done.

COONS: Right. HARLOW: A deal to protect Dreamers. Now, there's a big difference in the Goodlatte bill when you talk about just renewing work visas or a path to citizenship, and that's where you guys are stuck on this.

COONS: Right.

HARLOW: But if you look and you dig into our polling numbers it says many more Americans -- 56 percent of Americans said keeping the government open is more important to them than finding a deal for Dreamers right now. That's at 34 percent. You look at those numbers.

As you know, Senator, it's across young people --

COONS: Right.

HARLOW: -- racial and ethnic minorities, women. All those groups say keep the government open, number one priority.

Is that a risk for Democrats?

COONS: And Poppy, I think if you also ask the question what is your highest priority, making sure that we invest more in our Department of Defense will we are conducting combat operations around the world and investing more in domestic priorities like access to higher education and rebuilding our roads --

HARLOW: But I'm asking you do those numbers show --

COONS: -- that would be even higher. So, yes, I agree.

HARLOW: Do they show a risky path ahead for --

COONS: We need to move forward.

HARLOW: Do they --

COONS: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Do those numbers show a risky path ahead for Democrats to not vote yes, at least for a three-week C.R.?

COONS: I think Democrats need to show that we are willing to work hard across the aisle to move forward, but that we're going to get these things resolved.

And I'll remind you, as I said at the start, we are months overdue in a Republican-controlled Congress in addressing things that affect tens of millions -- hundreds of millions of Americans, from the opioid crisis to disaster relief to community health center to Children's Health Insurance Programs.

We spent months while Republicans tried unsuccessfully to repeal the Affordable Care Act and tried, ultimately successfully, to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut bill. That's what they've been doing and they've left these important pieces of homework undone.

I believe in the goodwill of the Republicans I've been negotiating with this weekend that we can get all of these things done --

[07:45:04] HARLOW: Let --

COONS: -- in the short term. Let's hope we can move forward today.

HARLOW: Let's hope you're right and let's hope it is today. We appreciate it.

You should stick around because someone from the White House is joining the program in just minutes. Maybe you guys can talk in the commercial break.

We are going to have the White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short. He's going to come on the program in just minutes and give us an update on what the president's doing right now and where his mind is in all of this, Chris.

CUOMO: Right. Now, we had said earlier in the show that we couldn't get anyone on from the White House. That was true. Since we said that, the White House has offered up Mr. Short and we are happy to have him.

It's never an empty promise. If people from the administration want to come on, including the president, the invitation is open.

Now, other headline for you.

Nearly 100 women have confronted Larry Nassar at a marathon sentencing hearing for sexual abuse. Two of them share their dramatic words with you, next.


[07:50:02] CUOMO: In just over an hour, day five of victim impact statements will begin in a Michigan courtroom where former sports physician Larry Nassar will be sentenced for sexually assaulting young gymnasts.

More than 90 people have already confronted Nassar. Over two dozen others are still waiting for their turn to speak. And remember, these are the population that are willing to come forward.

CNN's Jean Casarez live in Lansing, Michigan.

We have never seen anything like this.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, we have not, and the sentencing hearing was not supposed to go into this next week but young women -- victims -- have been watching the hearing and have developed the confidence. Yes, I can go into that courtroom and tell my story.

The victim impact statements are emotional and it is so obvious how lives were changed forever.


CASAREZ (voice-over): From calm and controlled --

KYLE STEPHENS, VICTIM OF LARRY NASSAR: Without my knowledge or consent, I had engaged in my first sexual experience by kindergarten.

CASAREZ: -- to anger unleashed --

KAYLEE MCDOWELL, VICTIM OF LARRY NASSAR: I feel dirty, even after scrubbing my skin raw in the hot shower. By the way, I hope you enjoy the cold ones in prison.

CASAREZ: -- victims' parents --

DOUG POWELL, FATHER OF NASSAR VICTIM: Inmate Nassar -- inmate Nassar. That is what your name is and don't you forget that.

CASAREZ: -- and even coaches --

THOMAS BRENNAN, YOUTH GYMNASTICS COACH: And I've probably sent well over 100 kids to him over the years. So the guilt I feel for that is hard to -- hard to fathom.

CASAREZ: -- are being allowed to have their voices heard --


CASAREZ: -- because of one woman, the sentencing judge -- Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. Judge Aquilina is allowing those impacted by Larry Nassar's crimes to speak for as long as they like --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are nothing more than a disgusting monster.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am here as a survivor.

CASAREZ: -- and has encouraged dozens of survivors of Nassar's abuse to come forward, including Olympic medalists from around the country.

JORDYN WIEBER, VICTIM OF LARRY NASSAR: I thought that training for the Olympics would be the hardest thing that I would ever have to do. But, in fact, the hardest thing I ever had to do is process that I'm a victim of Larry Nassar.

ALY RAISMAN, VICTIM OF LARRY NASSAR: Treatments with you were mandatory. You took advantage of that. You even told on us if we didn't want to be treated by you.

JAMIE DANTZSCHER, VICTIM OF LARRY NASSAR: You manipulated me into thinking you were the good guy and helping me, while sexually abusing me over and over and over for your own twisted sexual pleasure.

CASAREZ: Aquilina addressed a six-page, handwritten letter by the defendant saying he didn't think he could mentally handle the sentencing hearing and that she was biased from the beginning.

AQUILINA: Your letter states, "Now, Aquilina is having a four-day sentencing media circus." I don't need any cameras. You certainly are free to take my picture.

I didn't orchestrate this, you did, by your actions and by your plea of guilty.

CASAREZ: Speaking publicly about the abuse has been difficult for many of the survivors but for some, it's part of beginning the healing process.

RAISMAN: I am also here to tell you to your face, Larry, you have not taken gymnastics away from me. I love this sport and that love is stronger than the evil that resides in you.


CASAREZ (on camera): The hearing continues tomorrow and it is believed that on Tuesday -- it begins in about an hour -- on Tuesday, Larry Nassar will actually be sentenced and be able to speak to the court directly, himself -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Jean Casarez, thank you. I am so glad you are here, and continue bringing those stories to us because the women you just saw in that piece, they are just a few of the more than 100 victims who told their stories during the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar and stared him down.

Joining us now, two women who have stood there and given their victim impact statements aloud in court and directly addressed their abuser.

Lindsey Lemke, a former Michigan State University gymnast, and Kyle Stephens, who Nassar started sexually abusing when she was just six years old, are with me now.

Good morning, ladies. I know it is so hard to be here.

What you did in court is something I think -- it blew me away and I think anyone would be hard-pressed to find your courage. Thank you for doing that.

And, Kyle, let me begin with you. Watching you as you directly addressed Nassar and you talked about all that he did to you but all that he has not taken away from you, where did you find that courage?

STEPHENS: Oh, I've always had that courage. I mean, just to have the opportunity to look your abuser in the face and tell him what he did to your life but that you're moving on and you're going to be stronger from it, was one of the most empowering things I've had the opportunity to do.

HARLOW: For people not familiar with what happened to you -- the abuse you endured for years and years, you were six years old and he was a family friend. And he would come over to your house and in the basement of your home and he would do this to over and over and over again.

[07:55:12] And you went to your parents, and you went to other people and no one believed you. STEPHENS: That's correct. Just a quick correction. It was in the basement of his house with his family in the home, as well.

But, yes, no one believed me. I didn't divulge all the details of the abuse.

Obviously, as you can see from everyone who's spoken out, those details were really uncomfortable. And being a 6-year-old girl -- or, sorry, being -- I was not. But when I disclosed, I was in sixth grade --

HARLOW: Right.

STEPHENS: -- so I was 12 years old.

But being that young and your body is changing and everything, you're pretty uncomfortable talking to your parents about those parts of your body.

HARLOW: Yes, of course.

You know, Lindsey, for you, you also went to people and you told them over and over again this is happening, this is happening. And you pointed a lot of your anger not only at your abuser, Nassar, but also at Michigan State University -- at the president of the university -- calling her out, saying where were you?

LINDSEY LEMKE, VICTIM OF LARRY NASSAR, FORMER GYMNAST, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Yes. I just think the most frustrating thing was I went to my head coach Kathie Klages, at the time, and you know I didn't go into detail about the treatments. I didn't think that was necessary at the time.

And she responded back to me and she said well, before you go and give your statement to the police you need to make sure that you know exactly what was happening to you and that I needed to do my research. And, to me, that was just unbelievable because she sat there and she said to me, you know, this is a medical treatment, so she knew it was happening but she still defended Larry.

And, you know, this is part of the reason why we're in the situation that we're in is because these people, instead of just listening and believing these kids that are telling them things, they --

HARLOW: Right.

LEMKE: -- they just assume that -- they question us to make us think that we don't know what we're talking about to protect him.

HARLOW: Kyle, you -- I mean, you filed charges. You went over and over again, raising your hand, your voice, saying help me, help me, essentially.

Why do you think no one was listening, not only to you but to more than 100 women? STEPHENS: I think they wanted their golden boy. He was their golden boy. He was their poster child for look what Michigan State health can do and look how great we are, and they wanted to protect him.

HARLOW: So, the blame -- a lot of it, Lindsey -- you put it on Michigan State. What should happen to these folks?

Larry Nassar's already got a 60-year sentence. He'll get a much tougher sentence on top of that after all of these victim impact statements are complete.

What should happen to the folks in power at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics?

LEMKE: I think that they should clean house. I don't -- I don't think that, you know, the way that Lou Anna Simon has acted towards the situation -- she's never going to recover, you know. If she's still here to try to say that I can fix my reputation and I can gain these people's trust back, it's never going to happen.

I mean, the only that - the right way to go about it would have been for her, back when she very first knew about it, to take action and she didn't. And that goes the same for Kathie Klages and all the other people who are being held accountable -- or should be held accountable, I should say, and they aren't.

They don't care. They would rather cover up their reputation than try to help us and that's -- it hurts and it's really sad for us.

HARLOW: So, Kyle, let's talk about what accountability means now. Are there other people you think should go to jail?

STEPHENS: I don't know, I'm not a prosecutor, but there's people that need to be held accountable for their actions. Whether that's in a civil lawsuit or in criminal court, something needs to happen.

That's Kathie Klages. That's Dr. Stolick (ph), the man that I told that worked for Michigan State when I was in -- was 12 years old.

We're talking about -- who is Larry Nassar's boss? We don't even know who that is. Where's the transparency because in 2014, he was supposed to have restrictions and those never got enforced. It doesn't take very long to figure out where that broke down but we've never heard of it and it's been a year and a half.

HARLOW: And, Lindsey, one of the things that Kyle has said is that these entities -- these powerful organizations -- Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, they're holding all of these women back from healing.

As people are watching this morning in disgust thinking that could have been my daughter, that could be my daughter at the hands of something else -- someone else -- what can happen now, in your opinion, Lindsey? What can happen now? You can't -- you can't right what happened but how can history change moving forward? LEMKE: I think the way that history needs to change is just that we need to change the way that people respond to children when they -- when they cry for help. And, you know, people take advantage of little kids because they think that we're not smart enough to understand what's happening and we must be mistaken, but it needs to change.

When a child comes to you and they need help, just help them. I mean, they're not trying to get attention, they're not trying to be mean to somebody else. They just -- they know that something's wrong.