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Report: Morgan Freeman Accused of Sexual Harassment; Trump Cancels Summit with Kim Jong Un; White House Lawyer Present at Briefing on FBI Source. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 24, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you so much for being with me on this Thursday. We will get you straight to that breaking news in a moment, the fact that today the president abruptly cancelled that summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore set for next month. We're waiting to see how North Korea will respond to that. First, I want to get you straight to an investigation that has uncovered a pattern of alleged inappropriate behavior by legendary actor Morgan Freeman both on set and at his production company. Revelations from entertainment here with me now, CNN's Chloe Melas and An Phung. Ladies, this has been many months of I know working on your parts, what are you finding in your reporting, Chloe?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes, Brooke, like you said, Ann and I worked on this for many months. 16 people agreed to share their stories with CNN. Several of them said Freeman made consistent comments about their bodies and clothing choices. Eight, Brooke, said they were victims of harassment or inappropriate behavior. Two of those eight said they were subjected to unwanted touching by Freeman. Something very telling for Ann and I is that only two of the people we spoke with were willing to use their names for fear of retribution from Freeman.

One woman, a production assistant on the movie "Going in Style," said in 2016 he subjected her to unwanted touching and comments about her and another said he kept trying to lift her skirt and asked if she was wearing underwear and sad this happened in front of her co-actor, Alan Arkin, who allegedly told him to stop. Arkin could not be reached for comment. Morgan Freeman has just issued this statement to CNN after our story was published quote, "Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected. That was never my intent."

BALDWIN: So those are the words just in from Morgan Freeman and from your reporting you are finding this wasn't just on movie sets. This involved people at his production company as well.

AN PHUNG, CNN MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT DEPUTY EDITOR: That's correct, Brooke. That's what so alarming about our reporting. Much of what's alleged happened out in the open, on movie sets, in front of other actors and crew members. Some of it even happened when the cameras were rolling. Three individuals who attended a birthday thrown for Morgan Freeman at his production company claims that staffers were asked to stand in a circle, and Freeman allegedly walked up to the women, looked them up and down and stood within an inch of their face before moving onto the next woman in the circle. A source who was there a said there were sexual undertones to this exchange. And another claimed Freeman he witnessed Freeman massage the shoulders of a young intern who appeared visibly uncomfortable with the touching. And another female employee says Freeman walked up to her on set and said, quote, how do you feel about sexual harassment? When she appeared flustered by the question, Freeman turned and said to the rest of the set, and said, see, guys, this is how you do it. The source told us she was just stunned by the exchange.

BALDWIN: And these allegations, not just from production staff but entertainment reporters.

MELAS: Yes, so one of the women that we spoke to for this investigation, her name is Tyra Martin, she's a producer at WGN in Chicago. She said over the course of a decade she interviewed Freeman multiple times and that he always, consistently made sexual comments to her. But one time she feels really crossed a line when he asked her not to pull her skirt down as she stood up to leave the interview. It's unclear if that exchange was ever caught on tape but we do have an example of some of his behavior with her from another interview. There's music underneath this clip but it was not added by CNN. Take a look.




MARTIN: I don't have any magic tricks I kind of feel like I showed up for dinner without anything.

FREEMAN: I wouldn't worry about that. You got magic written all over you, child.

MARTIN: Oh, thank you. Good medicine for a single girl.

FREEMAN: I'm single, too.

MARTIN: Are you?


MARTIN: Are you enjoying bachelorhood?

FREEMAN: I'm enjoying bachelor life immensely. I get to look at you and drool.

MARTIN: Indeed.


MELAS: Brooke, the impetus for this investigation was my own experience with Freeman at a junket last year for the film "Going in Style." right when I walked into the room, he began to make sexually suggestive comments to me. As an entertainment reporter for over a decade, it was unlike anything I've ever experienced. One of those comments was caught on tape in which he says to me, "Boy, do I wish I was there" while looking me up and down. I was six months pregnant at the time. His co-stars were both there next to him, witnessed that exchange. They look at him, we have that on tape and take note of Freeman's eyes in this clip.


[14:05:00] MICHAEL CAINE: One time I congratulate a woman on being pregnant and she wasn't, so I've never done it again. 50 years I've never done it.

MELAS: You've learned your lesson.

FREEMAN: Boy, do I wish I was there.

MELAS: This movie is --


MELAS: I have to explain for those that don't understand this exchange because they weren't there is that there were comments that were sexual in nature made before and after this one, but they weren't caught on camera. We reached out to Alan Arkin, who could not be reached for comment and Caine declined to comment on this, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And these are just some of the allegations we shared. The rest of our investigation is on

We'll take a look to read it in full, Chloe and An, thank you so much. I appreciate it in your reporting.

Just in to CNN, the Senate has just reached a deal to overhaul the sexual harassment policies on Capitol Hill. The legislation just passed unanimously in the senate. Among the key provisions that lawmakers be held personal liable for paying out settlements rather than drawing from that big Capitol Hill fund. The bill heads to the House where the expectation is there will conference committee to work out the difference between the two bills.

More breaking news this afternoon, that highly anticipated meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un is dead, at least for the time being. President Trump torpedoing this potentially historic moment with a single-paged letter. It reads in part, quote, "based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate at this time to have this long- planned meeting."

We're told the last straw was when an official called Mike Pence a, quote, "political dummy" and threatened a nuclear showdown. But the letter appeared to keep the door open with North Korea just as his comments did a while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Based on the recent statement of North Korea, I decided to terminate the planned summit in Singapore on June 12th. While many things can happen, and a great opportunity lies ahead potentially, I believe that this is a free tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world. A lot of things can happen, including the fact that perhaps, and we'd wait, it's possible that the existing summit could take place or a summit at some later date.

BALDWIN: Keep in mind, all of this is happening, including our own Will Ripley, are deep in North Korea. They just witnessed the dismantling of this nuclear test site. Ripley calling in after reading the letter. Listen to this.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were just sitting kind of wrapping up the day. It's now late in the evening here. We are on the train headed back after witnessing what North Korea claims is the destruction of the nuclear site. We were sitting around the table and I got the phone call and read out the letter from President Trump and I can tell you there was just a real sense of shock amongst the people I was sitting with, the North Korean officials. They didn't give any official comment. They immediately got up and left, got on the phone, relaying the news up to the top. Imagine how they're feeling after they just blew up the nuclear site today as a sign to say they were willingness to denuclearize to make a point ahead of the summit that until literally minutes ago they thought was still going to happen.


BALDWIN: That was Will Ripley in North Korea. Let's get straight to the letter and the language that President Trump uses. Chris Cillizza has reviewed this. You've highlighted some sections. I noted that he starts with his excellency, the chairman, the dictator. Go on.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: We have the full letter up here. Go to CNN and read the letter. What you have to remember, the North Korea summit in some ways is Donald Trump versus Donald Trump. He loves making history. We know that. I said he would be the first to North Korea summit in some ways is Donald Trump versus Donald Trump. He loves making history. We know that.

I said he would be the first to sit down with North Korea's leader. It was a push and pull always. The letter I think reflects that divided mind. There are parts of it that read like a sort of wistful high school breakup letter in some ways. I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me. This is not typical Trumpian language, but he did want this to happen. Remember, he maybe wants it potentially to happen again, that this is off but maybe not forever. "Someday I look very much forward to meeting you again." This is not the fire and fury my nuclear button is bigger than yours that we've seen from Donald Trump.

This is maybe circumstances will change and it could work. If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me. Now contrast that with that last -- this is in the first paragraph but the first I want to focus. You talk about your nuclear capabilities but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to god they never have to be used. That is a real contrast to everything else in there, which is essentially, hey look, I want this to work out, I still want it to, you've got my number call me but don't forget my nuclear button is bigger than yours. You see Trump wants to make history. He wanted badly to make the summit work. At the same time, he wanted to be the one to say bad deal, I'm walking away first. That's why it seems like two different people wrote it at times.

BALDWIN: I told my producers today, this is a total breakup letter. When your relationship starts souring and you want to cut it off but maybe we can leave it open. You hit the nail on the head.

CILLIZZA: My high school career was hearing through the grape vine the girl was going to break up with me and I was quickly trying to do it ahead of time.

BALDWIN: It ended well for you.

CILLIZZA: That happened one time

BALDWIN: I mean just once. Chris Cillizza on Donald Trump, thank you so much for that. Let's get a little deeper into this.

Jean Lee is director of the Korea program at the Wilson Center. She opened the Associated Press's Pyongyang bureau in 2012 and welcome to Bruce Klinger, former CIA deputy division chief for Korea. Welcome to both of you. Bruce, let me start with you. I Chris's point about the language in the letter, it's not very Trumpian, right. It's apologetic and there are pleas and greatly appreciate your time and wonderful dialogue. Do you agree that doesn't sound very Trumpian? Do you think this is all part of an art of the deal play leaving the door open with North Korea?

BRUCE KLINGER, FORMER CIA DEPUTY DIVISION CHIEF FOR KOREA: It certainly leaves the door open for subsequent talks and negotiations and the summit planning. The president cites the most recent statements of insulting Vice President Mike Pence and threatening a nuclear confrontation, but I think what really it is more likely a cumulative effect, a cumulative response to a series of North Korean statements. Perhaps one that's most important is where they articulate the North Korean version of denuclearization, which is different from the U.S. version.

BALDWIN: I'm wondering on the whole "political dummy" quote from the North Koreans, which should have irked the administration, but what do you think happened between let's say last week with North Korea and the Bolton and then the Pence comments, doubling down on the watch remember happened in Libya with Muammar Gadhafi. What happened?

JEAN LEE, Director of The Korea Program at The Wilson Center: The North Koreans are getting the sense that this summit may not go the way that they want. Part of this is that we're hearing more from the national security adviser, from the vice president, and they are whispering in the president's ear, they are telling the president things that, frankly, won't work for the North Koreans. I do think the North Koreans were also looking for a face-saving way out of this if necessary, and I do think the White House is getting the cold shoulder from North Korea and that President Trump wanted to walk away first and not be stood up at the altar, so to speak.

[14:15:00] BALDWIN: Because he would have more to lose, right? It would be a global embarrassment if this summit was a disaster. Bruce, how do you think North Korea will react? I air quote this, they just destroyed their nuclear test site while journalists were there when all this news broke. Do you think it will be dramatic? New rocket tests?

KLINGER: It's getting far harder to predict how things are going to happen on the Korean peninsula. The ball is now in North Korea's court. They can either step up their rhetoric and that your very good at using very inflammatory and colorful language or if they do want to get back to the talks, they can make some commentary of we note with disappointment your later, we were looking forward to a realignment of our relationship, as well as the security situation in the peninsula and they can be a bit flowery in their language and that might be able to get things back. But more importantly is if the U.S. now really sees that it has very different viewpoint on denuclearization than the north, that's harder to paper over than just insults to senior U.S. officials and a few colorful nuclear threats.

BALDWIN: And what about our ally to the south, South Korea? When this news came out that the summit was scrapped, they were blindsided. The statement from South Korea reads we are trying to figure out what president Trump's intention is and the exact meaning of it.

LEE: President Moon was clearly caught off guard. This lack of coordination is not good. Any time you have South Korea and the United States not coordinating, that gives some ammunition to North Korea. Your question, I wanted to mention, though, that I think that the way that North Korea will react, you know, it's well past 3 in the morning there in North Korea so it may be a couple hours, but let's keep in mind what you referred to earlier the detonation or explosion in the north. I think it is a show of their commitment. That will say we don't know what you're talking about. And they'll say listen, you're the one walking away, not me. I've shown my commitment.

BALDWIN: But it's a show.

LEE: Indeed. That is how they're going to spin it.

BALDWIN: Middle of the night we wait to see. That will be a signal how this whole thing may proceed. Thank you very much. Coming up next, did the FBI spy on the president during his campaign, use his word? Classified briefings are under way right now to discuss that. Guess who got an invitation to join at the last moment. We'll have a live report out of Washington on that next. Also enter Rambo. Sly Stallone making a special appearance in the Oval Office today for a very important reason. More on that coming up. Back in a moment.


BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. The second of these two back-to-back briefings based on this conspiracy theory that an FBI spy infiltrated the Trump campaign. Top leaders in Congress are talking to the top leaders in the FBI to get the low down on the confidential source that the FBI used to contact Trump campaign members. It was to investigate any Russian meddling within their campaign in the U.S. election.

The president continues to twist the use of the source claiming the FBI deployed the quote, "spy" to damage his campaign and he has cited not a lick of proof. In no word that any proof was provided during that first briefing on the issue at noon at Eastern time today. That briefing took place at the Department of Justice. It initially did not include any Democrats, but changes were made responding to the outcry of the appearance of bipartisanship. Let's get to where the action is on Capitol Hill were that second meeting is happening. CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju is there. Manu, there's been so much back and forth about who is allowed to come, who isn't invited to these briefings, tell me who showed up? And has there been any word to what's actually been shown to any of these lawmakers?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The big surprise was this guest, Emmitt Flood, who attended both the DOJ meeting at the justice department earlier this afternoon as well as here at the Senate. The White House attorney dealing with the Russia investigation in part attended at least part of both that justice department briefing and this larger bipartisan meeting with leaders of both parties. This was not expected going in. It was not part of the justice department's announcement last night about the attendees at this meeting and it certainly was not the case on Tuesday when the White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders said there would be no White House official to attend the meeting.

[14:25:00] Several of us try to keep up with Flood and John Kelly on their way in. They would not comment about why Flood attended this meeting. I'm told he made remarks at the justice department briefing earlier, some very short remarks and that he left the room. Still Richard Byrd, the senate intelligence committee chairman, one of the seven or eight members who plan to come to this afternoon briefing was not aware that Flood was even in attendance.

That was one of the big questions going in. We still are unclear exactly what these members are seeing, if they're actually going to see these documents about this confidential FBI source or if they're going to be satisfied with this at all. Devon Nunes, the house intelligence committee chairman I don't not comment. We'll see what happens when this meeting, which is about 30 minutes in, breaks up.

BALDWIN: Coming up, a heated exchange on Capitol Hill. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is furious over one senator's line of questioning involving Trump and whether the president has any conflicts of interest when it comes to foreign policy. We'll play that for you next.