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Dozens Killed In Gaza Protests As U.S. Embassy Opens In Jerusalem; Will Meghan Markle's Father Attend The Royal Wedding?; Former NBC News Anchor Discusses Sexual Harassment In Newsrooms. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 15, 2018 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[07:32:24] DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: Violent protests are underway in Gaza again after Monday marked the deadliest day there in four years. The White House is blaming the border violence on the terror group Hamas -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJ SHAH, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're aware of the reports of continued violence in Gaza today. The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response and as the secretary of state said, Israel has the right to defend itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY: Joining me now, former legal adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Diana Buttu. Diana, good to have you.

We're on a little bit of a satellite delay, so as I try to jump in bear with me. I don't want to make it seem like I'm interrupting you.

But let me have you begin by reacting to that characterization of the horrible violence we're seeing on the border.

DIANA BUTTU, FORMER LEGAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS: This is exactly what we expected, which is the U.S. and the Israelis toe-and- toe blaming victims.

After every junction, Israel has had an opportunity whether to put down its snipers or to not put down its snipers. And it has deliberately chosen to kill Palestinians, including eight children just yesterday alone, including a disabled man, all because it has the ability to do so and because nobody is stopping it.

I would have expected that the United States would be second-guessing now its decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem because that is illegal. And instead, what it has done, it has clamped down alongside with Israel and saying that Israel has the ability and, in fact, has the right to kill Palestinians, when it does not.

This is a clear violation of international law -- GREGORY: Right.

BUTTU: -- and I hope that the world is going to step up and start sanctioning Israel.

GREGORY: Right. Well, there's obviously different views about whether it's a violation of international law, whether the rules of engagement have been actually broken.

Let me ask you this. What is actually the declared goal of the March of Return on the part of Hamas?

BUTTU: It's not a declared goal on the part of Hamas. It's on the part of Palestinians who are living in Gaza and throughout --

GREGORY: But, Hamas organizes the Gaza.

BUTTU: -- one simple goal --

GREGORY: Hamas organizes the protesters and you know that.

BUTTU: -- which is one simple -- which is one simple goal -- which is one simple goal -- Palestinians want to return. They haven't been allowed to return to their homes for 70 years because of the fact that they're simply not Jewish.

I want to get back, however, to the issue of rules of engagement. We are not allowed to --

GREGORY: No, hold on. I want to -- I want to continue with my question. Hold on.

Let me just say --

BUTTU: -- simply shoot --

GREGORY: Excuse me, Diana. Hold on a second.

BUTTU: We're not allowed to simply shoot -- excuse me, I cannot hear you.

GREGORY: (Laughter).

We're not allowed to simply shoot people because they're standing in a protest.

[07:35:00] GREGORY: Right.

BUTTU: There has to be a clear line of threat. Not a single Israeli has been injured in this whatsoever, and so what Israel's doing is simply gunning people down.

GREGORY: OK, yes. I understand that perspective.

Can you hear me now? Diana, are you able to hear me?

BUTTU: Yes, yes, I can hear you.

GREGORY: Oh, OK, but you couldn't hear me a moment ago.

Because it's pretty clear --

BUTTU: That's right. The line is -- the line is going in and out.

GREGORY: OK. I'll say this question. If you can't hear it, then we'll move on.

In fact, Hamas has indicated that its declared goal is to end the Israeli State through this March of Return to reclaim all of Palestine. Is that correct?

BUTTU: What the goal is by the organizers, is they've said very clearly that they simply want to be able to return to their homes. Returning to their homes is an internationally enshrined right that refugees around the world have and that's what Palestinians want.

It's been peaceful protests that have been met with gunned -- where Palestinians have been gunned down by the Israelis.

I simply do not understand this issue where people continue to blame the victim.

GREGORY: Well, I'm just -- I want to clarify this because to return to Palestine would be to displace Israel. Is that not the expressed goal of Hamas with these protests?

BUTTU: No, not at all. In fact, people have been saying that Hamas is already indicated and all the Palestinians actions have indicated that they are willing to accept a two-state settlement. It is Israel that's never recognized Palestine's right to exist.

The demand that Palestinians return to their homes is simply that -- it's that they want to return to their homes because they have a right to do so.

It's not a question of extinguishing anybody. It's a right to return to their homes and to end this issue of Jewish privilege and Jewish supremacy. That's what this is about.

The fact that Palestinians haven't been able to return to their homes is because the international community has failed them for over 70 years now.

GREGORY: Do you -- do you recognize -- because you raise a really good point about recognizing Palestinian sovereignty and a Palestinian state. Do you also recognize that Israelis have a right to return? That, in fact, the country of Israel is a fulfillment of that right to return to its ancient homeland and that it has a right to exist?

BUTTU: I'm somebody who believes that this place can and should be one state where everybody -- Jews, Christian, Muslims, Druids -- all of the people who are living here have equal rights and should be living in equality. I don't believe in one group having supremacy over another.

This is something that I have been speaking about and writing about for years and people have been working about for years.

GREGORY: But, Diana, that's not my question.

BUTTU: But I think we have to work against -- what I think we have to work against is this system of privilege. And what people are talking about when they talk about a Jewish state is simply continuing to enshrine a system of --

GREGORY: Diana, Diana, this is not a filibuster opportunity.

BUTTU: -- exclusive Jewish privilege, and that's something that we shouldn't be having.

GREGORY: I'm asking you a simple question. Do you believe that Israel has a right to exist alongside the legitimate Palestinian sovereignty in a state, as well?

BUTTU: Nobody has denied that. In fact, it's been quite the opposite.

The PLO has recognized Israel's right to exist. Palestinian factions have recognized Israel's right to exist.

It's quite the opposite that Israel has never recognized my right to exist in freedom and in sovereignty. They've never recognized my right to exist in equality. It's quite the opposite.

GREGORY: So let me ask you one final question and try to be -- because, you know, this is not a -- obviously, it's a horrible time to think about the idea of a peace process resuming.

Can you imagine a scenario in your most optimistic state where something comes out of this period, both the violence and the moving of the embassy, that can restart a process that can be constructive or are we in a period where we're going to -- that kind of process will be dormant for the foreseeable future?

BUTTU: I don't think that negotiations are going to resume and I actually don't think that they're going to be the answer.

I was somebody who was part of those negotiations for 25 years and over the course of 25 years all that we saw was the number of settlements expand, the number of settlers triple in number to the point where there's now close to 700,000 Israelis living in the West Bank, making the idea of two-state settlement impossible.

I think that instead, we should be moving down the path of recognizing what's right and what's wrong. And what's wrong is the denial of freedom -- 51 years of the denial of freedom.

It's time for the international community to start putting in place sanctions against Israel rather than simply allowing Israel to do whatever it wants. This last move with the embassy has given Israel the green light and shown Israel that it has the right and has the ability to not only steal Palestinian land but be rewarded for it. And not only steal Palestinian land, but slaughter Palestinians in Gaza and have Palestinians be blamed for their victimhood.

GREGORY: All right. Diana Buttu, thank you for your views.

BUTTU: Thank you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, now to royal wedding news. Is Meghan Markle's father really not going to her wedding to Prince Harry? More on the photo controversy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:43:42] CAMEROTA: More severe weather could be heading for the Plains and the Northeast.

Let's bring in meteorologist Chad Myers with our forecast. What are you seeing, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm seeing the potential for big thunderstorms right through big cities today. That's the real threat into New York, into Connecticut, into Boston as well.

This weather is brought to you by Purina. Your Pet. Our Passion.

So let's get to it. This orange area and yellow area, that's the area for wind damage today. And it's going to be right through New York City, it is going to be right through Connecticut, and all of the northeast states.

Here we go hour-by-hour. By 2:00, the storms are firing in Pennsylvania, somewhere around DuBois. And then by 4:00, approaching I-95 but not there yet. And by 6:00, in the heat of the day, we get storms all the way from Boston right on down to almost Charlotte.

And some of these will be severe with significant wind damage because today it's going to be 89 degrees in New York City. That's heat, that's humidity, that's the fuel to the fire.

Now, tomorrow, not so much. New York City, you're 25 degrees cooler -- David.

GREGORY: Wow, I'm still processing that.

CAMEROTA: Me, too.

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: It's going to take a while.

GREGORY: And also this. Another midair scare to tell you about.

A flight in China was forced to make an emergency landing after the cockpit's windshield suddenly blew out. The co-pilot, who was wearing a seat belt, was sucked halfway out of the plane.

[07:45:01] Passengers had to wear oxygen masks and reported hearing a deafening sound.

The co-pilot suffered only scratches and a sprained wrist.

Last month, of course, a woman on a Southwest flight died after an engine exploded, breaking a window. She was also pulled halfway out of the plane.

CAMEROTA: OK, what's going on here?

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: What's happening with windshields and windows? Is there an expiration date on these things that is coming due suddenly?

GREGORY: Right. I mean, it's not something that we've heard about in a long time. But they've got to take a look at what -- if there's anything where the glass is under stress or has deteriorated in some way that you could have this because this doesn't seem right.

CAMEROTA: You know, I'm a nervous flyer --

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- and just when you think you've heard everything --

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- that could possibly go wrong, there's a new one invented --

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- like this.

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: All right. Meanwhile, we need to get you to the royal wedding news.

It's just days away now but there is drama unfolding. There are reports that Meghan Markle's father will not be walking his daughter down the aisle after all. This comes amid an embarrassing revelation over some staged photos.

CNN's Max Foster is live in Windsor.

He spoke with people close to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just this morning. So, Max, what are they saying there?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have to say they're absolutely devastated, it seems. They're both really upset about what's happened. They're really worried about Thomas Ragland (sic) and they want the media to give him a break. What they're -- what they're saying is that there was no one here in the U.K. on the palace side who were particularly embarrassed by the photos. They -- obviously, it was an awkward situation, the photos, but at no point did Meghan change her mind about her father walking her down the aisle. She would still like him to walk him down -- walk her down the aisle.

But there's been this horrible situation. He's decided he can't come.

And now, it's gotten really tangled up in the media arrangements as well. So they're now saying to the media, please leave this guy alone. Give him a chance to change his mind.

This is a just a few days before the wedding. The bride hasn't got her father to walk her down the aisle.

Who does she then ask? It is her mother, it is an usher? Who's going to give the speech at the reception?

They're really upset by this and they don't want this narrative to go out that the palace, in any way, was embarrassed and wanted him to pull out. They want him to come.

So it's a bit of an odd situation here. But for something very much being led by Harry and Meghan, and both of them feel the same way about this, I'm told.

CAMEROTA: OK, Max. Listen, we have four more days left. It's possible that there can be some resolution. It's possible that something can change, obviously, before Saturday and we hope there is.

But on Friday -- just to let everybody know, I'll be seeing Max shortly because on Friday I'll be live from Windsor to preview the royal wedding here on NEW DAY. And on Saturday, we will be live for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's special day. Royal wedding coverage starts Saturday morning at 4:00 eastern on CNN.

So, David --

GREGORY: Well, I mean I just -- don't you sympathize with anybody who is going through this? I mean, the notion that there's going to be media restraint on the royal wedding.

I just -- I'm sympathetic. I hope -- I hope they work it out.

CAMEROTA: Me too, because there's always drama around even just any regular --

GREGORY: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- wedding. It's a time of high drama.

GREGORY: I'm kind of excited. It's the first -- did you watch Charles and Diana?

CAMEROTA: Yes. GREGORY: That started even earlier. I grew up in Los Angeles.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

GREGORY: My sister and I watched really early, so --

CAMEROTA: OK. This one, 4:00 a.m. --

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- on the East Coast.

GREGORY: Yes. We'll see how it --

CAMEROTA: So, we'll see. We'll see how it plays out over the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, a former "NBC NEWS" correspondent says she was sexually harassed by Tom Brokaw when she was a young reporter. Why she's speaking out now and what does she want to see change? Linda Vester is going to join us live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:52:12] CAMEROTA: "NBC NEWS" putting out a report on its internal investigation into sexual harassment. The report found no evidence that leaders of the news division knew about allegations of sexual misconduct made against fired "TODAY" anchor Matt Lauer, and it concluded "NBC NEWS" did not have a broader problem with sexual harassment.

But, one former NBC correspondent, Linda Vester, disagrees. She's accused legendary anchor Tom Brokaw of sexual harassment.

And, Linda Vester joins us now. Linda, great to have you here.

LINDA VESTER, FORMER ANCHOR, "NBC NEWS", ACCUSED TOM BROKAW OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Good morning. Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: You were waiting -- you were calling for this internal report to come out and they seemed to be dragging their feet or at least not responding in a timely fashion. Then you came forward --

VESTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- with your accusations against Tom Brokaw and, lo and behold, the internal investigation -- the internal report came out.

Do you feel some sense of satisfaction for having forced the issue?

VESTER: Well, I think the internal report was deeply flawed -- that's a problem -- because women have contacted me in recent days to say that they did not feel that they could fully speak candidly to the NBC lawyers and others have contacted me to say that they didn't feel that they were properly interviewed. And when you have an internal investigation, when you're talking to the lawyers for the company that signs your paycheck women can't speak freely and that was the case here. And so what NBC really needs to do is hire outside counsel to properly investigate this. They haven't done so.

CBS has managed to do so with the sexual harassment issues there. NPR (National Public Radio) did the same thing to signal transparency and willingness. Fox News channel brought in counsel, as well, and that shows a transparency and willingness to address problems with sexual misconduct.

I don't understand why NBC isn't doing it but I think it can and it should.

CAMEROTA: So when they say -- "We found no evidence indicating that any "NBC NEWS" or "TODAY SHOW" leadership, news H.R. or others in position of authority in the news division received any complaints about Lauer's workplace prior to November 27, 2017. All four women who came forward confirmed that they did not tell their direct manager or anyone else in a position of authority about their sexual encounters with Lauer" -- you find that to be not satisfying.

VESTER: Far from the full truth, and we have a problem with "NBC NEWS" where we really need to get at the full truth. And it's ironic because this is a news organization that is supposed to be about the truth and free speech, and the problem is they're not making women fully free to speak.

So if you're a news organization that's about freedom of speech you have to let your employees be free to speak as well.

And, NBC can do it. And look, I think the workplace will be better if they have the courage to do it.

CAMEROTA: One of the things that was so remarkable about your story, and there were many remarkable things about your story -- about what happened -- you say happened to you in the mid-90s with Tom Brokaw -- is the amount of pushback you got.

[07:55:07] There were so many women who are still at NBC -- real high-profile women, from Andrea Mitchell to Rachel Maddow, who pushed back and put out this letter of support for Tom Brokaw.

Let me just read a portion of it.

"Tom has treated each of us with fairness and respect.

He has given each of us opportunities for advancement and championed our successes throughout our careers. As we have advanced across industries -- news, publishing, law" etcetera "Tom has been a valued source of counsel and support.

We know him to be a man of tremendous decency and integrity."

Did that surprise you? VESTER: It did surprise me. Everyone has the right to support a friend. That's fine. But when the letter -- a letter like that gets circulated among "NBC NEWS" employees and some report that they feel pressured to sign it, I think that's problematic.

And you and I have actually been through this before at a different company. We both worked at Fox News channel.

I was not harassed by Roger Ailes but you were, and both things were true, right? They both happened.

And in this case, both things can be true at "NBC NEWS" that Tom Brokaw could have treated some women decently and he also assaulted me.

CAMEROTA: Yes. That's your point is that nothing is universal and you wanted to sort of bring that out to people.

But one of the points of criticism that I've heard about you coming forward is number one, it was a long time ago. It was the mid-90s.

So, is it possible that he made an overture to you -- he hit on you, you rebuffed him, and after that he mended his ways? There were no more recent accusations against Tom Brokaw.

VESTER: Well, I think that doesn't really square with the truth. There is a second woman who is investigated by the Washington --

CAMEROTA: But from the same era -- mid-90s.

VESTER: Yes, same era. But does it matter when the harasser assaulted someone because it's always true and it's always relevant. And the fact that that person is still on "NBC NEWS" and has been put out by "NBC NEWS" to speak on its platforms about the #MeToo movement and about what should be done about sexual harassment, that makes it relevant today.

So let's have the conversation about that. And in the letter of the women who signed that letter of support for Tom Brokaw, they said they endorsed the conversation about the abuse of power in the workplace.

That is so germane to what is going on at "NBC NEWS." They want to have that conversation. I want to have that conversation. We can all afford to have it.

It might be painful. Some painful things might come out but I think we will all be the better for it.

CAMEROTA: Were you surprised by Tom Brokaw's letter in response about you? I mean, he said some things about your character and he suggested that you sought him out. That you invited him to your hotel. He says he should never have gone but he was sort of trying to give you career advice.

What's the record on that? VESTER: That is patently untrue. In both cases where he assaulted me, he insisted upon coming and he used the power of his position to insist upon coming.

And because I was a young reporter I felt powerless to say no. I mean, I wanted to try to keep myself safe but I didn't know how to say no to somebody who could ruin my career with a single word.

And let's be clear. He used physical force. He grabbed me behind my neck and tried to pull me toward him to kiss him. That's assault.

And I made it very clear that I wasn't interested and I broke free. That was the first time in 1994. And then he came back and did it again in 1995.

So let's be really clear about what really happened. I was assaulted. I did not invite conversations with him off campus. Those were initiated by him.

CAMEROTA: What do you want to have happen to Tom Brokaw?

VESTER: I would like to see NBC finally appoint outside counsel to conduct a thorough investigation of all alleged predators at "NBC NEWS" and that means there may be more. And this will be awkward and painful but if NBC wants to truly address its culture which, in my view, has existed for many years, then I think they need to appoint outside counsel like CBS has done, like NPR has done.

Bring them in, let everybody speak freely. Actually have women be able to go off campus so that they can really tell everything they know and everything they've seen. And then, let's address just how widespread sexual misconduct has been by men in power at "NBC NEWS."

Get at the root of sexual harassment there but also stand as an example to other companies so that we can really address what sexual harassment looks like and then how we can work together and mentor each other better going forward.

CAMEROTA: Well, we have certainly been having this conversation all too often in the past six months to a year.

Linda Vester, thank you very much for coming on and telling us --

VESTER: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: -- what you're hoping for and sharing your personal story with us.

We're following a lot of news so let's get right to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first lady, Melania, she is recovering after a successful kidney procedure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her office is extremely loyal, extremely tight- lipped so it came as a shock.