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Primaries, Dems Embrace Diversity, Repubs Back Trump Picks; Group of Black Execs to Spend Millions in Upcoming Midterms; Grand Jury: 300-priests in PA abused more that 1,000 children; Investigators Dig for Answers in Deadly Collapse. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 15, 2018 - 10:30   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think if you look at Minnesota you look at Wisconsin, these are probably two of the most fascinating political states. In Wisconsin, you have a very important Republican primary. Leah Vukmir in for the United States Senate beating Kevin Nicholson which is a big win because she was backed by the establishment. She's backed by millions of donor dollars. Kevin Nicholson was as well, he has his own big donor, Richard Uihlein. But I think the interesting element here is one, how split Wisconsin has been party wise, demographically. Very kind of on both sides of the polls here. And you also have a huge governor's race as well.

Scott Walker is running again. And what you see in Leah Vukmir, what you see in the Republican Party and they play in that state, why the president played in that state is Scott Walker's organization after the election victory, after the election victory is very real, extremely proficient and has been almost roundly successful over the last couple years. So, I think that's going to be a key Senate race to watch. Obviously very key governor's race to watch.

Then you have Minnesota, look, that was the place, Poppy. You know that state better than anybody else. That was one of those interesting elements, when you talk about the president's success with endorsements. Tim Pawlenty, former governor, well-known state recognition from name I.D., he lost to Jeff Johnson. I think the expectation of the Republican Party was Tim Pawlenty would come in, give him a very good shot to win the governor's mansion in that state. He got wiped out. And I think if you think about the fact that not only did he have negative things to say about President Trump, also coming as a former D.C. lobbyist, left his $3 million job to go run in that race. Those will be very, very key states to watch in November, not just for 2018 but also for what it means in 2020.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right. And in Minnesota, there are so many open seats. You got the governor's mansion up for grabs, you got two Senate seats. You've got a number of hotly contested House seats. It is a key state for a lot of reasons in the midterms and heading into 2020 for sure.

Phil, thank you.


HARLOW: So, a newly formed group of African-American business executives, CEOs. They're going to spend millions and millions of dollars in the upcoming midterms. It's the Black Economic Alliance has already raised about $3.5 million. They're raising more. They are officially non-partisan group. They are backing right now four Democrats in these first round of endorsements. And the co-chairman, the founder, Dr. Tony Coles, joins me. Nice to have you.

DR. TONY COLES, CO-CHAIR, BLACK ECONOMIC ALLIANCE: Thank you, Poppy. It's great to be here.

HARLOW: Thank you for joining me. And let's talk first about - and it is worth noting, this is really the first time that we've seen Black American executives come together and say we're going to put our power and our voice and our money behind these candidates. Your mission is to talk about and address economic issues facing particularly African- Americans in this country. What is missing in that conversation right now?

COLES: Well, several of us have all written checks individually to support candidates. But this is really the first time that we've collectively come together and as a group to focus on economic progress for Black Americans. The statistics are critical. We know that even amongst adults, college-educated adults, Black Americans earn 25 percent less than white Americans. Even if you look at household net income, for instance, it is 60 percent lower in Black households. So, we think that this is a critical moment in the conversation, particularly as the economy appears to be rebounding for us to play a role and support this mission.

HARLOW: The four candidates right now that you guys have come out and endorsed, Senator Tim Kaine Of Virginia, gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, Stacey Abrams, who'll be first Black governor in the country, Ben Jealous for Maryland, Richard Cordray in Ohio. These are Democrats. You guys are going to back 10 to 15 for the midterms. Any Republicans you like? Any Republicans that might get your group's support?

COLES: Well, for each one of the races we have an interest in - and it is certainly true in these cases -- we have reached out to the Democratic candidates and the Republican candidates. To date we've not been able to engage the Republican candidates in the races of interest. But we would look forward to and we would welcome -


HARLOW: Let me jump in. What does that mean? I mean that they're not responding? They don't want your support?

COLES: Well, I can't comment on why they might not have responded. All I can say is that we actually -- because we're non-partisan, we try very even-handedly to reach out to both sides. We are looking for tractable solutions that are pragmatic and that can be implemented. We don't think that's a good idea, that is a Republican idea or Democrat idea necessarily, but we are looking for the idea that will work and be most productive. It is what we as business people are trained to do. So, if there is a Republican candidate who believes in the mission, who wants to sponsor legislation to support economic progress, we'd be happy to engage and to endorse them.

HARLOW: You know, you have said -- let me quote here. "It is critical that we make black economic progress a part of the conversation." And the president often touts what he says his administration has done on that front for African-Americans. Just listen to some of what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's something I'm very proud of, African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded.

[10:35:02] And on the campaign trail, remember I said, and would constantly say, what do you have to lose? Meaning what do you have to lose if you vote for Trump? And now it was just reported, African- American unemployment is at its lowest level in history.


HARLOW: Has he done enough? Does he have -- do you think he should be patting himself on the back for this?

COLES: Well, it's true that the statistics suggest that this is the lowest unemployment level for Blacks in several years, perhaps since we've been keeping records. But if you just peel the layers of the onion back -- let me set that date into context, if I might. Black Americans still have the highest unemployment of all racial groups -- white, Latino and Hispanic. So, there is a problem there clearly. And when we are employed we aren't in the high-skilled and high-paying jobs. We're about 13 percent of the population of this country. We hold about 12 percent of the jobs in this country, but we only represent 6 percent of the tech jobs, which are widely regarded as the new economy and growth opportunity jobs.

HARLOW: Of course.

COLES: So, correcting that imbalance I think is going to be quite important and we're looking for candidates who will be proactive and support opportunities for African-Americans to participate in the American dream. I think that's all anyone wants.

HARLOW: Yes. Indeed. Equality. Tony Coles, it's fascinating what you're doing. Please keep us posted on what you hear back from the other candidates you've reached out to. Thanks for being here.

COLES: We will. Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. So, ahead for us -- a story that is incredibly disturbing, but you have to hear it all. Decades of sexual abuse at Catholic churches in Pennsylvania. A grand jury report details how priests and other Catholic leaders victimized more than 1,000 children, some young girls -- as young as 7 -- being raped and how the church covered it up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:41:36] HARLOW: Horrific details from a grand jury report this morning that reveals cover-ups, rape and forced abortion inside of the Catholic church. More than 300 priests are accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children. A warning, the details of this report are graphic, but it is important for you to hear them to understand the scale of the abuse.

One priest accused of raping a 7-year-old girl who is in the hospital after her tonsils were removed. Another priest accused of impregnating a 17-year-old girl, then arranging an abortion for her. And the grand jury also uncovered a ring of priests who allegedly shared information by creating pornography where they used whips to sadistically torture their victims.

These are just 3 of the thousands and thousands of allegations here. One of the survivors spoke with CNN earlier and said the pope is not doing enough to combat this.


SHAUN DOUGHERTY, SURVIVOR OF SEXUAL ABUSE BY PENNSYLVANIA PRIEST: The pope should have landed at JFK or -- not at JFK but in Pittsburgh or in Harrisburg or in Philadelphia. By the time I touched back here in Long Island City last night. He hasn't.

When am I going to tell the pope, this is -- they're supposed to tell me the morality. I mean what do you tell an institution that teaches morality but has none?


Our correspondent Jean Casarez is back with me following this story. The Vatican for its part not saying anything this morning. We are though now hearing from the U.S. Conference of Bishops. Right?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have. And they have quite a lengthy statement. Let's show everyone what it is.

First of all, they say, "The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades. We are grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation by sharing their personal stories of abuse. As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops."

Now what this statement fails to respond to are many of the things that are in this very lengthy 885-page report written by 23 grand jurors who heard massive amounts of testimony. Almost a half a million internal documents from the diocese in Pennsylvania. One of the things in this report is that many of the bishops and priests that helped to cover it all up are still with the church, and they have been promoted to cardinals and bishops. It also talks about secret archives in the diocese and the secret archives would be where those internal documents that were finally unearthed and given to the grand jurors. But they diagram the abuse. And they also said -- told, Poppy, the actual priests that were abusing the young women and young men. But only there was one key. And every diocese, only the bishop had the key to that secret archive.

HARLOW: I mean they talk about this grand jury report, a playbook for concealing the truth, treating the victims with distain, the allegations that this went all the way up to the Vatican, and yet no word from the Vatican this morning. What about justice? What does justice look like for these victims? One who is in the hospital after a suicide attempt just recently. I mean, will they be prosecuted?

[10:45:09] CASAREZ: Right. Right. And an 80-year-old man who's a victim who said I have never been able to hug my sons, I can't go to male doctors. It is so ironic when you're talking about justice because as it was said yesterday in the press conference, because of the cover-up, the statute of limitations has run for almost all of the 301 priests who they found that there was evidence that they had committed sexual assault on these young people. Two of them can be prosecuted.



HARLOW: Wow. Jean Casarez, thank you for the reporting.

The death toll is rising this morning in Italy. Investigators, they are searching for answers. What caused this bridge on a main thoroughfare to just collapse in the middle of the day in a busy Italian city? A live report ahead.


[10:50:23] HARLOW: In Italy, the death toll has risen to 39 after a highway bridge collapsed in the heart of the busy Italian city of Genoa yesterday. This morning, search teams there continue the dangerous work of digging through the rubble, searching for survivors. The rescuers do say at this point they aren't hearing any signs or seeing any signs of life. Meantime, investigators are trying to figure out what could have led to this collapse.

Let's go to our Ian Lee. He is there now. And it was striking, Ian, that the government there came out and said, look, this was not totally unexpected.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And residents in the neighborhood have been telling them for years that this bridge was dangerous. They were telling us stories when we were talking to them about chunks of concrete falling from this bridge, which of course is dangerous in itself. And they said they were not surprised when yesterday they heard a loud crash and all of a sudden there was a cloud of dust and people were screaming. They said that essentially, they had to pack up what they could, essentially the clothes they were wearing, and flee the area because they were afraid that bridge is going to fall further. And there is that likelihood.

But you know talking to people, we've heard stories of tragedy but also survival. Let me tell you a couple. One was a firefighter who was on the bridge when it started collapsing. His car fell down but was able to land on one of the pylons, so it didn't hit the ground entirely. And that's what saved him. He said he was able to get on his phone, call his colleagues at the fire station. And they were able to rescue him. He says he thanks Santa Barbara which is the patron saint of firefighters for saving him. He says it is really a miracle that he is alive. But others weren't so lucky.

We talked to one of the first responders who was one of the first people on site. And he said what he heard was just people crying and screaming for help. Also, there was a family in a car and the mother, the father, were crushed. They thought that the child in the back seat was alive but when they picked him up the body was limp. And that's just 1 of 39 deaths that we're hearing about right now. And we're still expecting that death toll to rise as not everyone has been recovered from that concrete and twisted steel.

HARLOW: Ian Lee, thank you for that reporting. Incredibly tragic to see that happen.

All right. We'll be right back.


[10:57:16] HARLOW: The University Maryland says it takes full responsibility for the death of one of their football players. Let's go to Andy Scholes who has more for us this morning. Andy, what have you learned?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair died back in June due to a heat stroke that he suffered after just a grueling workout on campus. His death is certainly a tragedy. What makes it even worse is that it could have totally been prevented. Maryland holding a press conference yesterday. Their president, Wallace Loh, says the school accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes made during a workout May 29th that led to McNair's death.


WALLACE LOH, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: I said to the family, the university owes you an apology. You entrusted Jordan to our care. And he is never returning home again.

DAMON EVANS, MARYLAND ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: We will honor Jordan's life. And we will ensure that a tragedy such as this never happens on our campus again.


SCHOLES: Last week, ESPN published a report detailing allegations of verbal abuse, bullying and a general disregard for the players' wellbeing in Maryland. The school has placed head coach D.J. Durkin, on leave while they investigate allegations of just a toxic culture in the program. The team's head strength coach Rick Court, he resigned on Monday.

All right. Giants/Dodgers is one of the biggest rivalries in baseball and certainly looked like it last night. The Giants' catcher Nick Hundley having some words with Yasiel Puig after he was very animated on a foul ball. And when Puig shove Hundley, it was on. Both benches clear. Dodgers first base coach George Lombard was trying to break it up, but he actually just tackles Hundley to the ground right there. Nothing really escalated from there. Puig and Hundley both ejected from the game. The Giants would go on to win that one, 2-1.

Will the Browns finally win their next regular season game? Bud Light is giving away free beer to their fans. They're going to be doing it with these victory fridges which they are placing at bars around Cleveland. So, when the Browns win that game, a lock controlled by wifi will be opened, Poppy. And bold prediction here -- those beers aren't going to be in those fridges very long. I'm predicting the Browns are going to beat the Steelers week one of the season.

HARLOW: Of course, you are. OK. Michelle, my EP, what do you think? What do you think? She is a Steelers fan. She says heck no. Heck no. Heck no. I think that's genius marketing, by the way. That is pretty brilliant. Thank you.

SCHOLES: Sky is the Bud Light. Do it right.

HARLOW: There you go. Thanks for being with me today. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. I'll see you tomorrow morning. "At This Hour" with Kate Bolduan, starts now.