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Trump Praises China's President; Russian Lawyer Tied to Kremlin; Cosby Found Guilty; Medical Benefits of Marijuana. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 27, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That they have that long relationship and their interests need to be served.

But in terms of what the president tweeted, he tweeted out, please do not forget the great help that my good friend, President Xi of China, has given to the United States, particularly at the border of North Korea. Without him it would have been a much longer, tougher process.

And what he's talking about there is, look, if you buy that the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign with these sanctions is what brought North Korea to this point, then you have the Chinese to thank, because they actually have been enforcing those sanctions. We've seen that for ourselves up along the border there that the president is talking about. And that friendly tone, Jim, might come in handy because when you're dealing with negotiations with North Korea, you will be dealing with China in some sort of way.

And look no further than the armistice. Don't forget, it wasn't just North and South Korea that signed the armistice that ended the Korean War, at least the hostility technically, it was China and the United States as well. And so in order to actually come up with that peace regime, a new peace treaty, you're going to need China and the United States in that mix.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: No question. I mean only China can put real economic pressure because China's really their biggest trading partner.

Matt Rivers, thanks very much, there in Beijing.

Any minute, the House Intelligence Committee's final reports in their Russia investigation could come public, but lawmakers have big concerns before they release it.


[09:35:24] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

And the breaking news, a notable story just coming out from "The New York Times," saying that the lawyer who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign in that famous 2016 Trump Tower meeting had closer ties to the Kremlin than she has led on previously. In this story, she says that she had been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general since 2013, three years before that Trump Tower meeting. She also uses this language. She says that I am an informant. Remarkable thing to hear from the Russian lawyer who got that meeting with senior members of the Trump campaign.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. He serves on the House Intelligence Committee, which, of course, has been central to the Russia investigation.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us this morning.


First, let me ask for your reaction to this story. This lawyer saying that she had much closer ties to the Kremlin than we knew.

SWALWELL: Of course she was a Russian spy, Jim. Everything about the setup for this meeting that Donald Trump Jr. knew was that she was a Russian spy. It was a Russian lawyer connected to the top prosecutor in Russia who had dirt on their political opponent. That should have raised alarms for the Trump team. It didn't. Instead, it actually got them the meeting sooner. You saw in that e-mail exchange that Donald Trump Junior moved heaven and earth to make sure that that meeting could happen and even suggested that he'd prefer if the dirt could wait until closer to Election Day.

This just shows me, Jim, that it was very, very irresponsible for the House Republicans to shut down our investigation. We learn more and more information every day, whether it's this lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, whether it's the information about Michael Cohen, or the witness who we heard from earlier in the week, Christopher Wylie at Cambridge Analytica, who told us about a number of connection that Cambridge Analytica, the Trump data firm, had with Russians. So we should get back to work as a bipartisan committee to make sure we can tell the American people what happened.

SCIUTTO: Did your investigation turn up similar details to what we're hearing here now in this "New York Times" story about Veselnitskaya's ties to the Russian government?

SWALWELL: We learned a lot about Natalia Veselnitskaya and others at the Trump Tower meeting, Jim. It was our hope that the Republicans would join us, as they had agreed to early in the investigation, to release the transcripts to the public. If the public were able to see the transcripts, they would see a number of disturbing ties to the Trump team and the Russian government.

But the Russia -- the Republicans have chosen to bury that evidence. That will not be a part of what the public will be seeing. And I think that, again, shirks our duty to tell the public what happened, how we were so vulnerable, who was responsible and what we're going to do to make sure this never happens again.

SCIUTTO: The president, as you know, has said and continues to say repeatedly there is no collusion. His supporters as well. They say that this investigation, of at least the collusion question, has gone nowhere.

But it was interesting when James Comey was doing his interviews, including to CNN. He said it's possible. He left open the possibility, based on what he knew. That, of course, is not decisive. But, in your view, based on the intelligence you've seen, the interviews you've done, is that question still open?

SWALWELL: It certainly is, but most of the arrows point toward collusion. And, you know, criminally, it would be conspiracy to defraud the United States, but broadly, as you and I would know it, I don't know what else you would call it when the Russians hacked your opponent's e-mails. They offer those -- they offer dirt to your family. You stand on a stage as a candidate and invite the -- the Russians to conduct further hacking and then you amplify what they put out to the public. And then, once you're elected, you do all you can to work with them and pay them back. To me, where I come from, that looks like collusion.

SCIUTTO: Now, Robert Mueller, his investigation is continuing. And based on CNN's reporting, based on the kinds of questions he's asking of some witnesses, the kinds of documents he's seeking, it appears that's he's at least going down this line of inquiry. And, again, as you say, we should use the term conspiracy because collusion is not actually a crime, not really a legal term here. But this information about Veselnitskaya, would you expect that the special counsel would be investigating or have investigated how deep her ties are to the Russian government?

SWALWELL: Yes, Jim. And if you look at what the special counsel has done so far, I have every reason to believe that they are being just as aggressive in investigating what the Russians did as the Russians were in trying to meddle in our elections. They have been able to, I think, pursue all of the relevant documents, the communication logs, bank records, travel records from the press reports that we've seen.

[09:40:10] Now, that's something that our committee, the Republicans with the subpoena power, were not willing to do. We ran a take them at their word investigation. People came in, they sat in the chair, they gave us an answer and then we said, great, thanks, we're not going to do anything to see if there's records to either corroborate what you're saying or contradict what your saying. But it does look like Bob Mueller will be able to run this down.

And, Jim, let me just say, what Bob Mueller tells the world will only be what he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That's the highest standard in the law. So it may be the case that he learns something from a foreign source that you may know to be true, but if you can't prove it, you can't ever tell the world.

We were not in that position. We had a responsibility to tell the American public what we found as it related to the Trump team working with the Russians. We didn't have that high legal burden of proof. And show -- and so it's really irresponsible that we stopped doing our work and the public won't know. SCIUTTO: The president, again, yesterday, in this freewheeling

interview on the Fox morning program, again, raised the possibility that he -- that he might interfere with the Justice Department or perhaps with Robert Mueller. Do you believe that Robert Mueller needs legal protection, legislation to protect him from being fired by the president?

SWALWELL: And, Jim, the president already has interfered from the work he did with Chairman Nunes to allow the White House and the Republican chairman to interfere in our investigation, from firing James Comey, to the constant threats to Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein and Bob Mueller.

What we can do now is to pass the bipartisan legislation that Chairman Grassley, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has put forward and that Republicans here in Congress have an opportunity to put forward, because there will be future presidents who will need to be investigated for their conduct. And the best thing we can do is say that no president is above the law and no president should be able to fire their investigator.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks very much for joining us.

SWALWELL: Yes, my pleasure.

SCIUTTO: Well, in another story, Bill Cosby now convicted of sex offenses. What will happen to him now going forward?


[09:46:37] SCIUTTO: Now that Bill Cosby has been convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand 14 years ago, and just to say those words now jarring, the question now is, will he spend the rest of his life in prison?

CNN's Jean Casarez is in Norristown, Pennsylvania. She's been following this story, this trail for some time.

Jean, Constand now tweeting about the verdict this morning.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Speaking out for the very first time on the verdict of guilty, she did say just minutes ago a very profound and heartfelt thank you to the commonwealth and Montgomery County for their service and sacrifices. Congratulations. Truth prevails.

Now, in this trial, Andrea Constand was the alleged victim, now victim, but there were five other women who took the stand as prior bad act witnesses to say in essence, me, too, I also was drugged and sexual assaulted by Bill Cosby. One of them, Heidi Thomas, was asked on the stand on cross-examination, you're just here to help Andrea Constand. She said, no, I am asking that a rapist be sent to prison. She spoke out to CNN this morning.


HEIDI THOMAS, COSBY ACCUSER: I went home and I walked into our house and saw my husband and I looked at him and I said, we did it, we won, we beat goliath.

LILI BERNARD, COSBY ACCUSER: I was totally overwhelmed with emotion when the guilty verdict came out. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I had this explosion of emotion I was trying so hard to contain.


CASAREZ: And that is Lili Bernard. She was an aspiring actress. She was on "The Cosby Show." And also as she told to me in our CNN documentary, she believes she was raped several times by Bill Cosby. Of course, Cosby has denied each and every accusation.

As far as Bill Cosby, we know that he's at his home in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, today. His wife is by his side. And we spoke to the probation department and also the court this morning and the order stays the same, an order on bail, saying he must stay within his home in Pennsylvania. If he chooses to go out of state -- and, remember, he's got homes around the country, he will have to get an ankle monitoring device. But that will also require a petition before the court before that happens.


SCIUTTO: So, Jean, house arrest in effect now or something close to it. Is there a chance that Bill Cosby will not go to prison for these crimes?

CASAREZ: Well, that's very interesting because the defense has already said that they are going to mount an aggressive appeal. So, at sentencing, which we know will be 60 to 90 days from now, and these are very serious felonies, but the defense may ask the judge if he can have home confinement pending appeal. Appeal that can take a lengthy period of time. Whether the judge will allow that or not, I think we'll just have to wait for that actual sentencing to take place.

SCIUTTO: I can only imagine the reaction.

Jean Casarez, thanks very much.

Could medical marijuana be the answer to the opioid crisis? We have a sneak peek at Dr. Sanjay Gupta's groundbreaking new special. That's next.


[09:54:16] SCIUTTO: CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been working on a documentary exploring the medial advantages of cannabis. And CNN's John Berman sat down with him ahead of part four of the series debuting this weekend.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: About five years ago, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, began reporting on medical marijuana in his award-winning series "Weed." The newest edition of Dr. Gupta's series launches Sunday, April 29th. This installment explores whether our opioid crisis could be greatly alleviated by wider use of medical marijuana. In this show, you'll meet a former NFL player who says marijuana saved his life.

Dr. Gupta joins me now.

Sanjay, you know, look, people who have been through this become advocates, you know, zealots almost.

[09:55:02] SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've had it work for themselves and they've also had it work in the throes of the worth self-inflicted epidemic we've had in our history, this opioid epidemic.

Football players are an interesting bunch because they take opioids at a faster and higher rate than the rest of the population. And take a look at what happens to them.


GUPTA (voice over): Every morning former NFL lineman Kyle Turley begins his day with a cup of coffee and a few hits of something he calls a necessary medicine, marijuana. Before pot, he used pills. Lots of pills.

KYLE TURLEY, FORMER NFL OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: Since '96, when I blew my knee out, you know, it was a painkiller, a muscle relaxer, a sleep aid, an anti-inflammatory. Those four are staples in an athlete's regimen of medicine.

GUPTA (on camera): It's the opioid, it's the painkiller, that I think people are really coming to terms with.

TURLEY: Yes, because it's very easy for those to go from one to two to three.

GUPTA (voice over): To more than a dozen a day. It became a near deadly addiction.

TURLEY: I was completely hopeless. These side effects are very real. Suicide is all caused (ph) and though (ph) and I'm raging at my family, all these things.

GUPTA: And raging on the football field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now Turley throws the helmet.

TURLEY: Everybody talked about marijuana as this gateway drug. And reality is, this was my gateway to drugs.

GUPTA (on camera): Football was?



GUPTA: I mean he was hooked, John, on opioids for some 20 years. People don't know -- realize that a lot of these players, they retire young, they're on opioids, they can't get off of them. And he was worried that he was going to literally die of an overdose. Now on cannabis. All those pill bottle, he doesn't take any of that any more.

BERMAN: So does marijuana, does it replace the opioid or does it help you wean yourself off it?

GUPTA: That's a great question. Let me tell you something, I learned something over the last year making this particular documentary. It can treat pain, first of all. So it can treat the underlying source of pain. That's a consensus now from the National Academy. Cannabis can be used to treat pain.

But there's a couple things. One is, it can be used to treat pain differently. It interferes with the pain signals going to the brain. But it also decreases inflammation. So it's additive. It doesn't do -- just substitute what opioids do, it's doing something additionally, which is where I think a lot of the pain community is focusing their attention.

BERMAN: So would it be a viable, you know, mainstream replacement for opioid addicts?

GUPTA: I believe so. And I pause a little bit because there's a lot in that question. Something I've thought about a lot. It's still an illegal substance. So me, as a doctor, saying this illegal substance federally could be used to replace one of the biggest selling federally approved drugs in the history, but I think we're there. I think we're at that point.

It can treat pain, number one. Number two, is it can also treat the withdrawal symptoms that people have from opioids. Much like chemotherapy is in cancer patients, that's the same sort of symptoms people get when they're withdrawing from opioids. We know cannabis can treat that.

And the third thing, I'll tell you, which was the most fascinating to me is, that when you take opioids within a few days, you see these changes in the brain. I was shown this in autopsy specimens. Very few things can heal those changes in the brain. Those changes make you unable to stop, unable to just say no. CDD, specifically, a component of cannabis, can help heal that brain. So you're treating the pain, you're treating the withdrawal, you're treating the addiction. If you had to design something, dinovo (ph), to help lead us out of this opioid epidemic, it probably would look a lot like cannabis.

BERMAN: It actually heals it. That's extraordinary.

You wrote a letter to the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, about this issue.

GUPTA: It's still a schedule one substance, meaning that it's illegal, but it's also been pre-ordained as having no medicinal benefit. That's not true. Even the National Academy of Science says that's not true. It's pre-ordained as saying it has a high abuse potential. There can be abuse of any drugs. Not a high abuse like heroin, which is another thing in the schedule one. Even cocaine is schedule two.

So the real barriers for researchers who are trying to study this, the thing that you always hear back from everybody is, well, we need more data, we need more research. That's true. We do. Absolutely. The problem is, that if it's already preordained as having no medicinal benefit, it's very hard to get that research done. So I wanted to explain the real situation in the country right now in the midst of this terrible self-inflicted epidemic and the role that cannabis can play.

BERMAN: Remarkable. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you very, very much.

GUPTA: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: And be sure to watch Sanjay's series "Weed." It all starts this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.


SCIUTTO: The next hour of "NEWSROOM" begins right now.

[10:00:01] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

And good morning. I'm Jim Sciutto, in for John and Poppy.