Return to Transcripts main page


Jordan Denies Ignoring Abuse; Deported Parents Choice; Security Ahead of Fourth Festivities; Heat Advisory and Warnings for U.S.; Trump Attack on Obama. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 4, 2018 - 09:30   ET



[09:30:53] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: An explosive report, a flat-out denial. Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan denying accusations he ignored allegations of sexual abuse while he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State. Jordan telling "Politico" overnight, if he had known wrestlers were being abused by the team's doctor, he would have, quote, done something about it. One former wrestler, however, is pushing back, saying that's not true, saying not only did Jordan know what was going on, he repeatedly turned a blind eye.

CNN's Jean Casarez spoke with one of those wrestlers and joins us now with more.

A lot of back and forth one this.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot of back and forth and there are so many layers, so let's start at the beginning.

Ohio State University is currently in the midst of a massive independent investigation about their team doctor for the university. He was there for two decades. He was actually the team doctor in the athletic department from 1981 through 1995. He is now deceased. But the investigation is because of allegations that he sexually molested and abused male athletes during the time he was there. And the university has interviewed over 150 people now at this point.

In comes Michael Disabato, who was a former wrestler at the university, and this investigation covers 15 major sports at Ohio State, but it is wrestling where Jim Jordan takes place. He was the assistant coach during part of the time that that physician was the team doctor. And Michael Disabato, I spoke to him yesterday, and he says that it was common knowledge in the wrestling department about Dr. Richard Strauss and what he was doing. He said they actually would, quote, he said, joke about it.

Listen to some more of what he said to me yesterday about Jim Jordan's knowledge, he says, and also what was done to him by Dr. Strauss.


MIKE DISABATO, FORMER OHIO STATE WRESTLER: I was close to both Jim and Coach Hellickson. We talked openly within our locker room about Strauss in particular, that he was a serial groper. I can tell you right now, he's not telling the truth because he did know. He has knowledge. He was there over eight years. It's impossible to ignore the training environment. It was deviant, chaotic.


CASAREZ: So I asked Disabato what specifically did Jim Jordan say to you back then as you were telling him about what was happening to you, because he said he would go into the room to be treated for an injury and he would be touched in his private areas. He could not tell me what Jim Jordan actually told back to him, referred back to him.

But Congressman Jordan does have a response. We want to read this. It is from his office. Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State. He has not been contacted by investigators about the matter but will assist them in any way they asked because if what is alleged is true, the victims deserve a full investigation and justice.

And, actually, the university's investigators -- independent investigators said they did contact Jim Jordan's office. He did not respond. He issued a statement to CNN last night saying, we didn't get a request for an interview. Where is the communication? Give it to us and we will help you in any way we can.

HILL: It's interesting, too, like these lapses that we're seeing in communication, as you point out, even just what we're hearing about the university and Jim Jordan's office.

Jean, appreciate it.

Also with us now is Laura Bischoff. She's a staff writer for "The Dayton Daily News" Columbus bureau, has covered Jim Jordan for a number of years.

I want to pick up on that last point there that we just heard about from Jean. So the university is saying they've reached out, they've tried to talk to Jim Jordan. They're not getting any response. His office saying, we don't know what you're talking about, that no one's reached out to us to try to schedule anything.

What are you hearing in terms of that disconnect just to start?

LAURA BISCHOFF, STAFF WRITER, "DAYTON DAILY NEWS": Well, I think it's pretty extraordinary that the university's investigators went ahead and said that they've -- they've reached out and they've not gotten a response.

[09:35:01] Now, it's something that we probably can't find out as reporters because this is an ongoing investigation, so any kind of an open records request to the university would probably not be fulfilled while the investigation is ongoing. And also on the federal side, the members of Congress are largely exempt from FOIA requests. So it's really a matter of the university saying one thing and the congressman saying another. HILL: And in terms of hearing two different stories, we're also

hearing, you know, Jim Jordan, we heard the response from his office. You, though, also spoke to one of these wrestlers. These are two different stories. What more are you learning?

BISCHOFF: Right. So, you know, this is an ongoing investigation. It started I think when Mike -- Mike Disabato had brought these issues up with the university he says over a matter of decades and got nowhere. And then after the investigation of Larry Nassar at Michigan State really kind of blew up, then he brought it back to the university and pushed the issue once again. And the university went ahead and hired outside counsel, which also hired an independent investigator in this case, to dig in.

Michael Drake, who's the president of the university, has sent out e- mails to the current student body and also the -- all the alumni asking people who have any information on this to come forward to the investigators. And that's -- that's where we are right now. And I think it's -- they don't really have a timeline on when they're going to be wrapping this up.

HILL: And how is this playing out in Ohio?

BISCHOFF: Well, it's interesting. I don't think that it -- as far as like Jim Jordan's knowledge or ignorance of what was going on back then, I don't think that's going to really impact him in his re- election effort. He is in the fourth district. He's a known commodity. He's been in politics for more than two decades in Ohio. And his district is a plus 14 percent Republican district and it's been held by a Republican every year since 1939.

HILL: So, politically, not much of an impact.

We'll continue to watch for any developments.

Laura, appreciate you joining us. Thank you.


HILL: Separated at the border. The deported parents who are now being given two options, parents, who are set to be deported, are given two options, you can leave with or without your kids. CNN actually has a copy of the new government form.


[09:40:46] HILL: Fourth of July celebrations. A lot of people preparing at this hour. Hundreds of migrant families are still separated, meantime, at the border. The government is offering parents now separated from their children an option -- they can be deported with or without their children.

CNN correspondent Nick Valencia joins us from McAllen, Texas, with more on this.

So you've got to go and it's up to you if your kids go, too? NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a new document, Erica, that we

got just yesterday from the Southern Poverty Law Center. And this document is an official government form provided by ICE to adult detainees. And it gives them two very clear options, either be deported with their child or be deported without them in hopes that their young child can pursue relief claims on their own. It goes without saying it is deeply troubling for immigrants' rights groups and advocates saying that it speaks to broader concerns that detainees may not understand the legalese or this document or may not understand the situation that they're in.

It was first brought to our attention by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was flagged to them, they say, by somebody within a local ICE field office. They say and claim that at least two of their clients, who are currently in detention, were pressured to sign this document prior to going before a judge. And if that's true, it's unlawful.

The problem is, the Southern Poverty Law Center was unable to provide us the detail of their client, so there's no way for us to verify that. No way for ICE to verify that. ICE maintains that this form is only for those who already have final removal proceedings, not for people who have yet to go before a judge. But it goes without saying, deeply troubling and speaks to the broader confusion here on the ground.


HILL: And that would be understandably, if we could locate that person and confirm that, that would understandably be the issue, the fact that this was given before any sort of proceeding.

VALENCIA: Absolutely.

HILL: Listen, this is all happening, of course, Fourth of July being celebrated across the country. And, obviously, understandably, there are going to be celebrations where you are as well today, Nick.

VALENCIA: And we're standing in front of one. And we're told by the local police here it is a smaller crowd from years past. They measure that -- of they've put that up to the heat here. It's pretty hot out already in McAllen. But it is an odd scene here in the sense that McAllen has been so much in the news with detainees here, migrants coming across the border and the broader issue of the immigration crisis in America, having this celebration here, the Fourth of July, celebrating America's independence, it is a bit odd, I'd say, just standing here with this backdrop, this stark backdrop to the immigration crisis ongoing here.


HILL: Nick -- Nick Valencia, appreciate it, my friend, thank you.

Security ramping up in the nation's capital ahead of today's Fourth of July festivities.

CNN's senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns joins us now from the National Mall with a look.

Happy Fourth.


Right around now, 11:45 Eastern Time, the National Independence Day Parade gets kicked off here in Washington, D.C., right over that way. Right behind me you can see the Washington Monument. That's always a focal point of Independence Day celebrations here in Washington, D.C.

But it is closed. So people who are coming down here need to know, you won't be able to go to the top and look down on the city, at least this year.

A lot for the first responders and other law enforcement authorities to try to keep safe here. Later today, this evening, in fact, over at the west front of the Capitol, we'll have the annual televised Fourth of July celebration. And then, of course, the big fireworks celebration begins around 9:00 Eastern Time.

Authorities, of course, are most concerned about vehicular traffic coming close to crowds. That, of course, because of current terroristic trends, if you will. So they put miles and miles -- in fact, 30,000 feet of chain link fencing and bike racks just to keep the traffic away from the crowds. A lot to be worried about. Also the weather. Concerns certainly about the possibility, however slight, of thunderstorms tonight, Erica, right around the time of the fireworks.

HILL: Joe Johns, you set me up perfectly as we move into Chad Myers with more on that.

Joe, thank you.

Concerns of thunderstorms. It's also this heat, deadly heat, for half of the country affecting people for a week now. We're talking about nearly 100 million people across parts of the country under a heat advisory or warning this morning. And that is certainly impacting planned festivities for the Fourth.

[09:45:12] CNN meteorologist Chad Myers joins us now from the CNN Weather Center with the forecast.

And it's a hot one, to put it mildly, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is, but it's not as hot as we had three days ago. So we're not going to see heat indexes here somewhere around 115, more like 97. So I guess you could -- once you've been 115, 97 seems like a walk in the park. It will be hot, though. This is not a day to make your first marathon run, especially in the afternoon. The high will be somewhere around 97 feels like in D.C. Right now it already feels like 92. It's going to feel like 104 in Cincinnati, 106 in Nashville.

So the heat is slightly shifting to the west. So here's our highs for today, five degrees above normal for New York, two above in D.C., but nine above in Nashville with a temp of 98. Now, by the weekend, look at this, below normal. New York City, only 78. Eight below normal for D.C., 80. So it's going to feel just like everything -- all that swampy weather is completely gone toward the south and toward the southeast.

But where is it going? It's going the Midwest and even farther southwest from there.

Here comes the cold front, and that's on Saturday. But the extreme heat now is in the west. And if you live in L.A., Palm Springs, Riverside, San Bernardino, you need to pay attention to this heat. It is significant. Watches and warnings are already posted.

I'm not talking about Death Valley and Vegas. I'm talking about downtown L.A., USC, you're going to be somewhere around 101 on Friday and not much difference on Saturday as well. Palm Springs, 118. Yuma, 116. Well above normal. And it's just where the heat is going for a couple of days. But some of these places may have a heat wave here lasting more than five days with temps above normal. We'll keep watching that too.


HILL: All right, Chad, appreciate it. Happy Fourth to you my friend as well.

MYERS: You're welcome. Same to you.

HILL: This morning, the death toll climbing following a ferry accident in Indonesia. Take a look at the scene yesterday. Dozens of passengers clinging to that capsized boat. Officials say 155 people survived, 34 people died. Young children among them. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

The two men facing multiple involuntary manslaughter charges in the so-called ghost ship fire have now taken plea deals. You may recall in 2016 36 people were killed when a fire destroyed a warehouse in Oakland during a party. The building's leaseholder and a tenant are the two who were charged in the deaths. Both men have pleaded no contest, which means there won't be a trial. They do still need to be sentenced, though. Each could be sentenced to between 10 and 12 years in prison.

Fact checking President Trump's Twitter feed has become a full-time job for journalists. And now there is yet another tweet. The president's predecessor, a former Obama staffer, now calling flat out false.


[09:51:15] HILL: There's no such thing as a holiday break for fact checkers, especially if you are tasked with fact checking President Trump's tweets. The president unleashing false claims about Iran, which seemed to come from a Fox News report, which was talking about, get this, debunked claims from a radical Iranian cleric about former President Obama using U.S. citizenship as a bargaining tool for the Iran deal.

You follow me on all of that?

Here's the thing, we're not showing you that tweet because it's not true. But that didn't stop the president from repeating the claim to his 53 million Twitter followers.

Joining me now is Oliver Darcy, CNN Money senior media reporter.

So we often need to -- not often, we do need to put into context how we got here. So here's a snippet of what was said on Fox News. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The chairman of Iran's parliament claims the Obama administration also granted 2,500 U.S. citizenships to families and friends of the Iranian government.


HILL: So, again, that was debunked. It came from a single source.

But that then led to a day of, we're now pushing back. In fact, here's what a former Obama administration official had to say.


JAKE SULLIVAN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The claim in the Fox News story is completely false. That somehow that granting citizenship to Iranians was part of the nuclear negotiations, that is absolutely, flatly not true.


HILL: This has become really the new normal, though. There's this constant cycle of, no, it's not true, but then it gets put out. OK, now we're spending all day debunking it. It's exhausting, but it is also so important.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN MONEY SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Right. And it's just another example, too, of the president -- it's a disturbing example. The president relying on a Fox News report, relying on right wing media to make a unsubstantiated claim about a political rival to use in an attack against them. And the interesting thing here is, as Jake Sullivan said last night on "The Situation Room," the president could have picked up the phone, he could have called his own government officials and said, hey, is this true, I just saw this report on Fox News, I'm just curious about it. He probably could have even called the former president, Barack Obama, and said, hey, is this true? But he did not do that. He relied on a Fox News report just seemingly going out there like it's no big deal, tweeting an attack on the former president and repeating a claim about an Iranian hardliner. It's, frankly, just sort of -- it's baffling, but it's also kind of sad. HILL: Well, yes. And to your point, he could pick up the phone. He

could walk down the hall. But we also know, too, that this is a president who, his intelligence community gives him information all the time that he either perhaps, in some instances, ignores, doesn't feel the need to consult.

But, you know, we had just in terms of North Korea, we had the -- we're learning more from the intelligence community this week which obviously goes against some of the tweets we had from the president after that initial summit saying North Korea is no longer a threat.

And what it brings into question is a broader issue of this sort of battle, as it is, between what the president says and people who believe him no matter what. And then when you fact check it, it's automatically seen as you're trying to bash the president.

DARCY: Right.

HILL: But it's a really important part of not just what journalists do, but, in general, it's an important part of information and sharing it.

DARCY: And we're fact checking the president. And a lot of other reliable outlets have fact checked the president.

But there is this section of the media, the right wing media, the conservative universe, that just repeats the president's false claims and they provide him information and his supporters information that comforts them. In this case, you know, the -- I haven't seen a Fox News correction on their story despite Obama officials very publicly and strongly refuting it. And, you know, I don't think the president's going to, you know, back down on his claim either. He'll probably double down because that's what he's done in the past. It's just really alarming that he's not relying on strong information to -- when he's making these points.

HILL: Yet another reminder for all of us, especially on this Independence Day, freedom of speech. It's also important that whatever you're saying is accurate --

[09:55:03] DARCY: Yes.

HILL: Especially when you're in a position of power.

Oliver, good to see you. Thank you.

DARCY: Thank you.

HILL: Still to come, British police investigating after two people are exposed to an unknown substance. All of this happening near where a Russian double agent and his daughter were poisoned just months ago.


HILL: In Britain, counterterrorism police are on the scene of what is being called a major incident. Two people apparently poisoned by an unknown substance and they are now critically ill.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is in Amesbury. It's very close to Salisbury, which, of course, is where there was a similar incident just a couple of months ago.

What more do we know today, Erin?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The incident in question happened Saturday evening. A couple, a man and woman in their mid-40s, have not been formally identified by authorities, were found unconscious in the apartment block just behind me. And authorities at the time say they initially suspected a drug overdose, heroin or cocaine. Now, they are saying they simply do not know.

But what they have done is declare a major incident. They've cordoned off this apartment building, as well as other locations thought to have been visited by the couple around this area, including a pharmacy, as well as a Baptist church where it's thought that the couple had attended a fun fair earlier that day, now in critical condition in the hospital.

But what has people here in this tiny English village so on edge is the fact that it is some six miles away from Salisbury, where, around four months ago, an ex-Russian double agent, as well as his daughter, were poisoned by a weapon of mass destruction, according to the British government. So it has people here extremely concerned.

The investigation is ongoing. And as you say, Erica, counterterrorism police are involved.

HILL: All right, we'll continue to watch for any more there.

[10:00:00] Erin, appreciate it. Thank you.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.

Good morning. Thanks for joining us. Spending part of your Independence Day holiday with us. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Poppy.