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Report on Abuse in Catholic Church; Manafort Defense Rests; Pentagon Spokeswoman Under Investigation. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired August 15, 2018 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:33] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A new grand jury report reveals decades of abuse by priests in Pennsylvania. More than 1,000 children -- 1,000 -- were sexually abused by clergy. The report finds that Catholic Church leaders protected and covered up for more than 300 predator priests.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins us now with more.

Jean, this is a remarkable report.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, the 884 page report, it took two years to put together. It was written by 23 Pennsylvania grand jurors. And according to officials, it is the largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church that has ever been produced in the United States.

Grand jurors listened to testimony from dozens of witnesses and studied half a million pages of internal documents about alleged child sex abuse in Pennsylvania. The report states that credible allegations were found against 300 priests. Over 1,000 child victims were identifiable.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said that church words like "horseplay" and "wrestling" to cover up was actually about rape and sexual abuse. The report stated most of the victims were boys, but girls were also victims. Some were teens. Some were younger. Shapiro said that many of the bishops and priests that covered up the abuse are currently in the church and have been promoted to cardinals and bishops.


JOSH SHAPIRO, PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: They wanted to cover up the cover up. They sought to do the same thing that senior church leaders in the diocese we investigated have done for decades, bury the sexual abuse by priests upon children and cover it up forever.


CASAREZ: Grand jurors have recommended changes to Pennsylvania law. One of the most notable being to eliminate the statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of children. Sexual abuse committed by two priests outlined in this report can still be prosecuted. Only two. There may also be more indictments in the future because the investigation is continuing. The report also describes a priest who quits the priesthood after being the subject of many child abuse complaints but he asked for a he received a letter of recommendation for work at Walt Disney World. He worked there, according to this report, for the next 18 years.

And, Erica, the Vatican, moments ago, they have just spoken out saying that at this point in time they have no comment.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. That speaks volumes in and of itself, doesn't it?

Jean, appreciate it. Thank you.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

HILL: Joining us now, the president and CEO of Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, Angela Liddle. Angela helped Pennsylvania lawmakers rewriting that state's child protective services law in the wake of the Penn State Jerry Sandusky scandal. And her organization works with clergy and staff across the state, helping them recognized and reported child abuse.

I just want to get your take initially on what we learned in this grand jury report.

ANGELA LIDDLE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PA FAMILY SUPPORT ALLIANCE: Well, I think it's a hard read for anyone. It is a very dark and somber time in Pennsylvania. As you read the words of victims, as you read things from the secret archives, and then the words of the grand jurors, it's a tough time.

HILL: It is tough, to put it mildly, as you say.

You also said that this points to the Catholic Church and that, in your words, it's like organized crime. What did you mean by that?

LIDDLE: Yes, it absolutely is. I think that there are those in leadership who have tried to minimize this by saying, well, you know, there were essentially a few bad eggs and it's a new day. And the reality is, that doesn't near do justice to the magnitude of what actually was perpetrated against likely more than 1,000 child victims, now survivors.

[06:35:15] The church went at great lengths to cover this up. They moved priests. They paid priests. They silenced families with hush money. They flat out lied in media reports. They disclosed only what they wanted to and very little at that. And so, truly, this was, on every level, a very large cover up. As the attorney general said yesterday, they tried to cover up the cover up.

HILL: As we look at this, the church's statement in terms of this, noting the report 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. Going on to say, they're grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation, and shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.

The Vatican, as we just learned from Jean, no comment at this point.

This is something that this pope, who has been praised on a number of other efforts, has had mixed reviews to say the least. Is there any leadership at this point that can come from the pope that -- that can make a real difference because something needs to be done?

LIDDLE: Well, it absolutely does. And the reality is, now is not a time for no comment. It's also not a time to do, as Bishop Gainer (ph) did yesterday in the local media here in Pennsylvania and say, yes, you know, there were these two priests in 2014 and they actually admitted to raping and molesting children. And their punishment was to live the rest of their lives in prayer and penance.

That's now how our law operates. And it's time now for the church to really speak and behalf as if they have to follow the law, like everyone else does. And, very clearly, this happened because they believed they were above the law.

HILL: This report looks specifically at six dioceses in the state of Pennsylvania. But we can put up on the screen, around this country, 19 different dioceses that have actually filed for bankruptcy protection because of sex abuse settlements. And we talk often about how this is not just in the United States. This is a global issue for the Catholic Church, which is why there has been so much pressure for Pope Francis to speak out.

You say one of the other things that need to come out of this is, we need to start believing children, which survivors and victims would certainly agree with you on.

Among the jury's recommendations, though, the grand jury's recommendations, and we can put those four up on the screen there, they also want to eliminate the statute of limitations for sexually abusing children. That's been a little tougher to move forward in Pennsylvania.

LIDDLE: Well, it has and it has been largely because of the strong lobbying base of the Catholic Church. They have put much of their resources into trying to shut down these legislative efforts, just as they put resources into silencing families. And it's time now to use those funds in a more productive way.

We absolutely support the elimination of the statute of limitations. I'm hoping that the magnitude of this, and really the outcry from the public, it's time for the public to get involved in this and demand there be change and action. Very different from what we have historically seen.

HILL: And part of that may come through hearing the brave stories of some of these folks that have come forward. An 83-year-old man, who we heard from yesterday, and another woman who said the abuse started at 18 months (ph).

Angela Liddle, appreciate you joining us and appreciate the work you're doing. Thank you.

LIDDLE: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, thanks, Erica.

Closing argument today in the Paul Manafort trial. A huge day ahead. This after the defense decides to call no witnesses. Was that a good move? What message did that send? We'll analyze, next.


[06:43:01] BERMAN: Big day. Closing arguments set to begin in just hours in the Paul Manafort fraud trail. Manafort's defense team rested yesterday without calling any witnesses to the stand. Was that a good move?

Let's bring back Shan Wu. He's Rick Gates' former lawyer, a CNN legal analyst, and attorney and legal affairs commentator and CNN legal analyst Areva Martin.

I want to talk about today in a second, but let's review what happened yesterday first. No defense witnesses. Didn't stage any affirmative defense there, Areva. You suggest there are two possible major reasons for this. One of them is that the Manafort defense team might just be planning for some kind of presidential pardon.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, John, we've heard all along that Paul Manafort hasn't cooperated with the special council, hasn't been willing to enter into any kind of plea deal, and that's all because there's some speculation that he may believe that Donald Trump is going to pardon him. And so no matter what the outcome of this particular trial, he's going to get a free, you know, get out of jail pass from the president.

But the other issue is, you know, there's not much that Paul Manafort can say in light of the incredible amount of evidence that was presented during this trial. This wasn't just Rick Gates, the alleged liar testifying in this trial, this was mounds and mounds of documentary evidence from bank statements, to e-mails, to other documents that really demonstrated to this jury how complicated and how involved this criminal scheme was that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were involved in. And what we know about these kinds of cases is, a bad defense can make a prosecution's case even better.

HILL: And, Shan, I know you had pointed to the -- those documents, documents, documents as well. This mountain, this paper trail that was there that was presented.

What's also fascinating is what we're learning about perhaps Rick Gates' role in all of this. And the fact that Robert Mueller, according to our reporting here, wasn't necessarily as interesting in the Manafort stuff as they are for everything else that is still to come, according to reporting from our -- from our Evan Perez. And I just want to read this here. In this court filing earlier this week, the first signs of how the Mueller team plans to use the information from Gates to tie Manafort possibly to a Russian negligence agency. Surprising at all that that's coming out now?

[06:45:17] SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, no. I think that --

HILL: A matter of course (ph).

WU: I think it is a matter of course in terms of the timing of things. With the trial, we finally began to get a little bit of a peak as to how much the Mueller team's already assembled on it. So I think they were careful not to veer off course into collusion. They weren't supposed to do that. It's about taxes and bank fraud. But I think we're definitely getting a little hint as to how much they already know.

BERMAN: And one of the things, Shan, that is interesting here is, we've heard the defense try to tar, to an extent, Rick Gates, who was your former client. And, again, just as you always stipulate, you're not commenting on anything other than what's in the public record. You're protecting your attorney-client privilege here.

But it seems to me, in their closing argument, they are going to try to make the case, in a sense, that Rick Gates is the real criminal here, or at least a worse criminal. And he's the one who should be to blame. And jury (ph) -- you've been listening to this trial, Paul Manafort should get a break?

WU: I think that's right. They've gained a little bit of credibility by promising they would show some things, such as Gates having stolen, and they've done that. So that always helps the defense.

But I think Areva's right, there's a lot of paper evidence here. And one factor they may try to suggest is this notion of jury nullification, which is, they may say to the jury, look, there is so much wrongdoing being forgiven here, not only by Gates but by these other -- I mean as witnesses, that they may try and suggest that this just isn't really fair. That there's something else going on here. It's not really a proper administration of justice to go after Mr. Manafort for these tax and bank fraud cases when there's so much being forgiven in terms of other people's wrongdoing. That's what we call a jury nullification argument. And that could play here too as well.

HILL: There's been a lot of focus over the course of the last, what was it, 11 days in total that we had for this -- for the Manafort trail. A lot of focus on the judge as well. And the judge saying -- we know closing arguments begin this morning. They will have two hours, but the judge making it very clear, he believes it should be wrapped up in about a quarter of the time. I'll give you this time, but you should really need that much.

Areva, is that surprising or is there anything we should read into that, or is this more of, this is the way Judge Ellis runs his courtroom?

MARTIN: I think this is more of the way Judge Ellis runs his courtroom. He has made it clear from the start of this trial that he is in control, not the litigants, not the parties, that he is the ruler of his courtroom. We've seen him be very active, going as far as questioning witnesses, making statements, and even sparring with the prosecution, more so than the defense team.

So I don't think any of that will change. I think until a verdict is rendered in this trial, this judge will continue to be actively involved as a jurist.

Now, some have questioned whether he has crossed the line, but other lawyers that have appeared in his courtroom say this is how he tries his cases.

BERMAN: I do think lawyers from both sides will be careful during closing arguments because they don't want the judge involved during those closing arguments.

Shan, I do want to ask you one question, if I can, about the nondisclosure agreement, the Omarosa issue.

We all have been told, and we realize, that a non-disclosure agreement signed inside the White House, a government employee, that is not legal or constitutional in any way. But if she did sign one with the campaign in 2016, could that compel her to start being more silent, shall we say, going forward? Could that be enforceable?

WU: I think it could be enforceable. I think there's an interesting question about that non-disclosure signed with the campaign, which is, can she parse it out and say it only controls information relating to the campaign period, not the White House.

I think there's a floating issue here that hasn't really been explored yet as to whether it's proper if it's the campaign paying her essentially money to be quiet. That may be a questionable thing to do from a campaign, although they may have been planning to give her some sort of a nominal type job. But I think it is possibly enforceable.

Practically, I don't get the impression that anything's going to silence her at this point. I think she's just going to keep leaning right into it.

BERMAN: Right. I will note, she was more careful last night than she has been in some time with the choice of her words.

Shan Wu, Areva, thanks so much for being with us. I really do appreciate it.

WU: You're welcome. Thanks.

MARTIN: Thanks, John.

HILL: A CNN exclusive. A Pentagon spokeswoman under investigation for allegedly misusing staff and retaliating against complaints. We have that live report, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:52:58] BERMAN: A CNN exclusive. Sources tell CNN that the Pentagon's chief spokesperson is under investigation for allegedly misusing staff for personal errands and retaliating against those who complained.

CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon.

Barbara, this is your exclusive reporting. What have you learned?


Dana White is the press secretary, the chief spokesman, for the Defense Department. She hasn't been seen on the podium actually since May. But now we do know that the inspector general is conducting an investigation over allegations that people complained about her using them to run her person errands. And when they complained, she transferred them to other jobs. Their complaint now, they are being reprised against, that there are reprisals against them.

What are some of the complaints about -- the allegations about what Dana White used her staff for? Well, things like getting her dry cleaning here at the Pentagon, buying her pantyhose, working on her mortgage paperwork, get her lunch and snacks, driving her to the Pentagon on snowy days. None of that is acceptable under federal ethics rules. You cannot use people to conduct your personal business. So that is why all of this is under investigation.

She is not commenting. The Pentagon is only saying there is an ongoing review. They are not commenting.

But let me give you just a little bit of a sense of how the Pentagon works. On any given day, you can see Defense Secretary James Mattis in the hallway picking up his own dry cleaning.


HILL: That does set the scene.

Barbara, appreciate it, as always. Thank you.

If you follow John Berman on Twitter, you know that earlier this morning he promised you would have disco. I don't know if this comes with disco, but I can give you this, a little dance. A seven-year-old boy challenged a TSA officer, Joshua McCall (ph), to a dance off. And so Officer McCall was not about to back down. Passengers at Newark Liberty Airport -- that looks like a little flossing (ph) to me.

BERMAN: I think that's a pickle.

HILL: Aren't the floss and the pickle the same thing?

BERMAN: That may be the case.

HILL: Yes. So this is at a security checkpoint at Newark. You see Officer McCall there showing off his moves. Officials say they were so impressed that they shared the video online to show it as an example of the, quote, human side of the dedicated professionals on the front lines of Homeland Security. It is pretty cute.

[06:55:14] BERMAN: If a TSA officer is dancing, is it, in fact, the safety dance?

HILL: I can't top that.

BERMAN: Exactly.

HILL: I can't -- I can't top that.

BERMAN: You're amused and deeply offended at the same time.

HILL: John Berman for the win.

No, well, he's got some moves and actually impressed.

BERMAN: All right, so the White House cannot say if the president has ever used the "n" word. I'm going to say that one more time. The president of the United States, the White House cannot guarantee there's not a tape of him using the "n" word. Stew on that for a moment.

Back in a moment.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never heard him say the word.

The fact that we're even having this discussion is ridiculous.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: A president should not be speaking like this. He made Omarosa into a sympathetic figure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president called lots of people dog. He's an equal opportunity offender.

[07:00:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did Donald Trump know about those e- mails?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He knew about them?


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: It's not true. He didn't know. I know he didn't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a vendetta against the church. We're called survivors for a reason.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Credible allegations were