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Trump Under Fire for Inflammatory Comments About Omarosa; Hundreds of Priests Accused of Abuse in Pennsylvania; Search Intensifies After Italy Bridge Collapse. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 15, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: A historic night for diversity in America. A transgender woman and a Somali American among those securing a spot on the November ballot.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you stand at the podium and guarantee the American people they'll never hear Donald Trump utter the N word?



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House cannot rule out the president used the N word. The racial undertones of the president's tweets a persistent problem for this White House.

NOBLES: Three hundred priests accused of abusing 1,000 kids dating back to the 1940s. A damning report casting a long shadow over diocese across Pennsylvania.

And good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ryan Nobles.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning. Summer morning. And I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, August 15th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin with this, a historic night for diversity in America. Christine Hallquist becoming the nation's first transgender major party nominee for governor. CNN projecting the former energy company executive won last night in the Democratic primary in Vermont to face Republican governor Phil Scott in November. Hallquist telling CNN's Don Lemon this is a critical time for all oppressed Americans.


CHRISTINE HALLQUIST (D), VERMONT GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think we should be talking about all marginalized communities. You know, it's certainly, if I look at what's happening certainly at the national level, you know, there's a systematic attack, and it's going to start -- you know, it's going to start with the most marginalized of the communities. So the fact that our president has gone after the transgender community is no surprise, and I think everybody should be afraid.


NOBLES: In the Connecticut primary, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year could become the state's first black Democrat in Congress. Jahana Hayes defeating Mary Glassman in the 5th congressional district primary. She takes on Republican Manny Santos, the former mayor of Meridian, in November.

ROMANS: In Wisconsin, CNN projects state senator Leah Vukmir has captured the GOP Senate primary, defeating former Democrat and Marine Kevin Nicholson. Vukmir will take on Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin in November. And in Wisconsin governor's race, Democrats elected state schools chief Tony Evers to challenge Republican incumbent Scott Walker.

NOBLES: History also being made in Minnesota in the 5th District with the Democrats there nominating Representative Ilhan Omar. She's a progressive Somali-American woman. She's going to be running for congressional seat there. And Congressman Keith Ellison won the Democrat nomination for Minnesota attorney general despite allegations of domestic abuse coming out against him. He denies those allegations, but the DNC will begin a review.

ROMANS: And finally, one week after the Kansas primary, Kris Kobach is officially, officially the winner of the Republican nomination for governor. Incumbent Governor Jeff Colyer conceded the race last night after absentee and provisional ballots extended Kobach's lead to 345 votes out of more than 315,000 cast. Really close.

NOBLES: Yes. And that's a win for President Trump as well, who endorsed Kobach at the last minute.

ROMANS: Right.

NOBLES: And the Trump campaign is filing for arbitration, claiming that Omarosa Manigault Newman breached a 2016 nondisclosure agreement. It is the first legal action since Omarosa published a tell-all book about her time as a senior adviser to the president. It comes less than 24 hours after Mr. Trump declared there are no tapes of him using the N word on "The Apprentice," a claim the White House is not backing up.

We get more from CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Ryan, President Trump looking forward to another day with at least no public events on the White House schedule. The second day in a row here he's not scheduled to be seen in public, but boy, in private, so much conversation still about those explosive charges in that book by his former top staffer here, African-American staffer here at the White House, Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Now, of course, the president yesterday just being slammed for some of his responses to her, calling her, of course, a cruel word in a tweet in the morning but then also going throughout the day, just going after her specifically. But it was in the White House press briefing in the afternoon where White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the president and if he has ever said the N word, that racial slur, on tape. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you stand at the podium and guarantee the American people they'll never hear Donald Trump utter the N word on a recording in any context?

SANDERS: I can't guarantee anything, but I can tell you that the president addressed this question directly. I can tell you that I've never heard it.


ZELENY: Of course, the president has given thousands and thousands of hours, if not more than that, of radio interviews, other things, other programs, so she did not want to say that it's simply not true that he could have never said that -- Christine and Ryan.

ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny at the White House. Thanks, Jeff.

[04:05:02] Two Trump campaign advisers caught on tape discussing the president's alleged use of the N word. These two advisers claim they were only talking about it because of Omarosa's bullying tactics.

Katrina Pierson and Lynne Patton can be heard discussing the possible existence of such a recording with the president using the racial slur. Pierson even suggests Mr. Trump is, quote, "embarrassed by it."

NOBLES: But both women now claim they were just trying to get Omarosa to move on. Pierson telling CNN's Erin Burnett, the former "Apprentice" star was the, quote, "complete epitome of annoying."


KATRINA PIERSON, SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP 2000 CAMPAIGN: It got to the point where we had a campaign to run. So what you hear in that tape, which is not the tape she's been referencing, is me placating to her, which I did a number of times because she would not let this tape go.

LYNNE PATTON, DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATOR: There were a lot of times that we talked about this tape because Omarosa was literally obsessed with it. She brought it up constantly. It's clear now that the reason why she did was because she was surreptitiously recording us.


NOBLES: Earlier this week on FOX, Pierson initially denied having any conversation about the existence of a possible Trump N word tape.

ROMANS: All right, this moment yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders now issuing a rare correction. She's apologizing for falsely claiming from the podium that President Trump created three times as many jobs for African-Americans than former president Barack Obama.


SANDERS: This president, since he took office in the year and a half that he's been here, has created 700,000 new jobs for African- Americans. That's 700,000 African-Americans that are working now that weren't working when this president took place. When President Obama left after eight years in office, eight years in office, he had only created 800 -- 195,000 jobs for African-Americans.


ROMANS: So that's not even close to true. According to the Labor Department, the U.S. has created 700,000 jobs for African-American workers during the Trump administration, but added nearly three million of those same jobs during Obama's eight years in office.

Now Sanders later corrected herself via Twitter, saying the jobs numbers were correct, but the time frame for President Obama wasn't. I'm sorry for the mistake, but no apologies for the 700,000 jobs for African-Americans created under President Trump.

Sanders made the claim while defending President Trump's record on race. Bloomberg first caught the mistake, prompting an apology from the White House Council of Economic Advisers. It cited a miscommunication to Sanders.

NOBLES: And in Pennsylvania, a grand jury report reveals a jaw- dropping amount of child sex abuse by priests. It says there are credible allegations against more than 300 priests suspected of abusing more than 1,000 children, dating back to the 1940s. The report investigates clergy sex abuse in six diocese across the state, covering 54 of 67 counties.

Emotional victims spoke out in a video provided by the state attorney general.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was groomed, starting young.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The day I met him, I was around 18 months old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They targeted me because I was fatherless.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in my diaper, and I ran out and ran right to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were taught -- I mean, the priests and the nuns are God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just think, like the word God makes me think of him, and I just --


NOBLES: We get more now on this from CNN's Jean Casarez.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Ryan, officials say that this report written by 23 Pennsylvania grand jurors is the largest, most comprehensive into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church that has ever been produced in the United States.

The report states that there were credible allegations found against over 300 priests, over 1,000 child victims were identifiable from the church's own records, but they believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid to come forward is actually in the thousands.

This 884-page report took two years to put together, and there are many redactions. The attorney general's office is going to court next month to fight for those redactions to be revealed, saying, quote, "Every redaction represents an incomplete story of abuse that deserves to be told."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The members of the grand jury wrote in their report, we need you to hear this. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, but never on this scale.

For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else. Now we know the truth. It happened everywhere.


CASAREZ: Because of the cover-up, almost all of the abuse is too old to be prosecuted. The grand jury has issued presentments against two priests who allegedly assaulted children within the statute of limitations, and there also may be more indictments in the future because the investigation is continuing -- Christine, Ryan.

[04:10:06] ROMANS: That story, the systematic way, the systematic way those priests, according to the prosecutors, worked to target and to keep those children -- it's just remarkable. Horrifying.

NOBLES: Absolutely heartbreaking.

ROMANS: All right. Ten minutes past the hour. Have you noticed more animals on airplanes recently? Another airline is putting a limit on what pets you can bring for emotional support.


ROMANS: Closing arguments today in the bank and tax fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The defense rested on Tuesday without calling a single witness. Manafort spoke in court for the first time since the trial began to confirm he will not testify. His attorney chose not to present a case, claiming the government has not met its burden of proof. But Judge T.S. Ellis denied Manafort's request to have the charges thrown out. The judge called on each side to limit its closing argument today to two hours. [04:15:05] NOBLES: The Pentagon's chief spokeswoman under

investigation this morning. CNN reporting exclusively that the Defense Department internal watchdog is looking into allegations that Dana White misused her staff for personal errands and retaliated when they complained. Sources say staffers claim White ordered them to fetch dry cleaning, run to the drugstore, and fill out mortgage paperwork.

White did not respond to CNN's request for comment. The final report may recommend next steps, but Defense Secretary James Mattis could make the final decision on punishment.

ROMANS: The Department of Homeland Security's watchdog says it will review a TSA program called "Quiet Skies." The recently revealed program uses federal air marshals to track U.S. citizens flagged by computer software as possibly posing a threat. The passengers are not suspected of a crime, they are not under investigation and not on any terror watch list. Investigators are looking into whether the program follows privacy laws and whether it is effective.

NOBLES: And students in Parkland, Florida, go back to school today, but things are hardly back to normal. Six months after one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history left 17 people dead, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High now features newly installed 20-foot fences. Broward County investing $26 million in security at all of its schools, including double doors, cameras, and security personnel.

ROMANS: A different kind of back-to-school shopping, right?

Two sisters who worked in a school cafeteria in Connecticut apparently had an appetite for cash, and we're not talking small potatoes. The pair are accused of stealing nearly $500,000 in a scam that authorities say dates back to 2013.

CNN affiliate News 12 reports Joanne Pasquarelli and Marie Wilson were arrested this week and charged with larceny and defrauding a public community. Authorities say the missing cash was noticed last year when the school district installed an enhanced accounting system. Both suspects are due in court next week.

NOBLES: And far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones suspended for one week from posting to Twitter. A spokesperson says Twitter pulled Jones' personal account for seven days after he tweeted a link to a video calling for supporters to get their battle rifles ready against the media and others.

Last week, a CNN investigation found Jones' personal and InfoWars feeds repeatedly violated Twitter rules. As recently as Friday, Twitter said the accounts would remain online. Recently, much of InfoWars' social media presence has teetered on the brink of collapse with iTunes, Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms yanking his posts.

ROMANS: Starting next month, Southwest will only allow cats and dogs on board as emotional support animals. Passengers will need to present a letter from the doctor. Only one service animal will be allowed per customer and must be on a leash or in a carrier. Since the beginning of the year, American, JetBlue, Delta and United

have all announced similar rules. Fliers have become increasingly bold in bringing animals on planes. In January, a woman tried to board a United flight with an emotional support peacock.

NOBLES: And friends and fans rallying around Aretha Franklin as she fights for her life. The 76-year-old queen of soul is now in hospice care. A source tells CNN that Franklin is being visited by those closest to her. They are reading her messages from friends and loved ones and holding her hand. Stevie Wonder and Franklin's ex-husband, Glen Turman, visited on Tuesday. Reverend Jesse Jackson will be visiting today.

And the death toll rising sharply overnight after a bridge collapse in Italy. Search-and-rescue efforts expected to last for days. We are live in Genoa.


[04:23:00] ROMANS: The search and rescue effort only beginning in Italy after that highway bridge collapse that killed dozens of people west of Genoa. The death toll climbing again moments ago.

Our Ian Lee is live in Genoa for us. The pictures are just devastating. What do we know?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's really hard to describe kind of the tragedy that we are seeing unfold behind us. They're still searching, going through that rubble, trying to find if there's any survivors, though they said the last survivors that they were able to find was about 10, 11 hours ago.

Let me step aside to kind of give you a better picture, though, of what we're looking at here. You have that search-and-rescue operation right now. You can hear jackhammers trying to penetrate that massive pile of twisted steel and concrete. Some of those chunks of concrete are the size of three four-story buildings. And this bridge is a half-mile long. And the section that is missing is 400 yards.

Imagine, that's four football fields that collapsed down to the ground, sending about 35 cars plunging. There are some cars still up there on the bridge, those were the lucky ones who were able to stop and in time. And we spoke with the chief of police. He says that this is still very much a search operation. The situation, though, is growing more dire. They say there's a mix of nationalities here, many of them Italian, some Europeans, but this situation is still very dangerous. That bridge could still collapse, and so they're working very carefully. Right now though, 440 people have been evacuated from their homes out of fear of this bridge.

ROMANS: Remarkable. All right. Ian Lee, come back to us when you have any more details. Thank you so much.

NOBLES: And nearly 11 months after Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rico Electric Authority -- PREPA, I should say, says that power restoration is complete. The utility tweeting a photo of what it claimed was the last family to have power restored following the largest blackout in U.S. history.

[04:25:05] But residents of the El Yunque National Forest are still in the dark. They tell CNN they don't have power yet, many relying on generators because of the back-and-forth between PREPA and the U.S. Forest Service. PREPA says the issue should be resolved soon.

ROMANS: All right. You may recall President Trump refused to say John McCain's name Monday as he signed a Defense funding bill bearing the senator's name even as McCain fights brain cancer. While you were sleeping, "The Late Show" weighed in.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The National Defense Authorization Act is the most significant investment in our military.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Singing) Say McCain, say McCain. Why won't you say his name?

TRUMP: We would not be here for this signing ceremony without the dedicated efforts of the members of Congress who worked so hard to pass the National Defense Authorization Act.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Singing) Say McCain, say McCain. It says that in the prompter. Stupid, stupid prompter. Why won't you say his name?

TRUMP: In a few moments, in honor of that sacred obligation, I will put my signature on the National Defense Authorization Act.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Singing) Say McCain, say McCain. Why won't you say his name?


ROMANS: Let's really hope that Senator McCain got a smile out of that, if he saw that last night.

NOBLES: They actually put his name on the bill and the president just ignored it.

A transgender woman and a Somali American both poised for political history, securing spots on the ballot this November.

ROMANS: And this outrageous story. Hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania accused of sexual abuse. Up to 1,000 children, devastating cases date back to the 1940s.