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White House Can't Guarantee Tape Doesn't Exist of Trump Saying "N"-Word; Diversity Among Democratic Candidates in Midterm Primaries; Survivor speaks Out Abusive Priests. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 15, 2018 - 07:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An equal opportunity offender.

[07:00:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did Donald Trump know about these e- mails?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He knew about them?


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Credible allegations were found against more than 300 priests. Over 1,000 child victims were identifiable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who would believe me? A priest would abuse you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This report is going to help people. They're going to know that there's a lot of people out there now that believe them.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me. Welcome.

So they say there are no guarantees in life, but one would hope, I mean, really, genuinely hope that the White House could guarantee that the president of the United States has never used the "N"-word. Sadly, that's not the case.

That admission from the White House podium coming just hours after the president called his former aide, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a dog. And if that doesn't fan the flames, the Trump campaign has filed legal action against her, saying she violated a 2016 campaign nondisclosure agreement. Her response: "I will not be silenced." ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime, election results overnight. Democrats embracing diversity. Republicans siding with President Trump's pick in Tuesday's primaries. In Vermont, Democrats nominating the nation's first transgender candidate for governor. Democrats could also make history with some of their congressional nominees in other states.

President Trump, meantime, tightening his grip on the Republican Party. Minnesota's former governor, Tim Pawlenty, who was critical of Mr. Trump, losing his bid to stage a political comeback.

We want to begin our coverage at this hour with CNN's Abby Phillip, who's live at the White House. Abby, good morning.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Erica. It is the second straight day that President Trump has no public events on his schedule.

But the controversy over his alleged use of the "N"-word on a tape continues to grow around him.


PHILLIP (voice-over): The White House taking on allegations of racism against President Trump. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders unable to categorically deny the president has ever used the "N"-word, despite a direct denial from the president on Twitter.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to be clear, you can't guarantee it?

SANDERS: Look, I haven't been in every single room.

PHILLIP: Former senior White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman claiming that she heard a recording of Mr. Trump using the racial slur during a taping of "The Apprentice." Omarosa says it isn't in her book, because she heard it after it was written.

Omarosa alleges that she discussed its existence in a 2016 conference call with former campaign aides Jason Miller, Lynne Patton and Katrina Pierson. Pierson initially denying the conversation took place.

KATRINA PIERSON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: That did not happen. It sounds like she's writing a script for a movie.

PHILLIP: Just hours later, Omarosa releasing a recording of the call.

LYNNE PATTON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: I said, "Well, sir, can you think of any time that this might have happened?" and he said, "No."

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Well, that's not true.

PATTON: He said, "Well, why don't you just go ahead and put it to bed?"

PIERSON: He said it. He said -- no, he said it. He's embarrassed.

PHILLIP: Pierson now insisting she was just placating Omarosa.

PIERSON: Your viewers, I'm pretty sure, have run into an individual that is the complete epitome of annoying. To where you absolutely have to finally give in, in order get on about your day. That happened a number of times, because Omarosa is a bully.

PHILLIP: Patton also saying she never denied the conversation took place but pointing out that she was denying the group confirmed during the call that President Trump used the "N"-word.

PATTON: There were a lot of times that we talked about this tape, because Omarosa was literally obsessed with it. She brought it up constantly.

PHILLIP: The Trump campaign taking legal action against Omarosa for breaching a non-disclosure agreement she signed in 2016.

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I have to be very careful, because as of today, Donald Trump has decided to sue me, or to bring litigation against me to silence me and to not allow me to tell my story.

PHILLIP: This coming as President Trump intensifying his feud with Omarosa on Twitter, writing, "Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog."

The White House fighting back against critics who say the tweet is yet another racist attack against African-Americans.

SANDERS: This has absolutely nothing to do with race. The president's an equal opportunity person that calls things like he sees it. He always fights fire with fire.


PHILLIP: And at least one Republican senator is responding to the president and pushing back on that controversial tweet. Senator Jeff Flake sending out his own tweet yesterday, saying this kind of language is unbecoming of a president, and Republicans should not be OK with it -- John and Erica.

BERMAN: All right, Abby Phillip for us at the White House. Abby, keep us posted with what you hear from the White House this morning.

In the meantime, voters going to the polls in four states for the latest round of primaries and diversity really ruling the night for democrats.

Let's break down the big races. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker fended off his primary challenge and will face Democrat Tony Evers in the fall. Walker, who was ultimately endorsed by President Trump, is considered one of the more vulnerable high-profile Republicans in the midterms. HILL: Former Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Trump

critic, losing his bid to win back his old job. CNN projects Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson beat Pawlenty in the state's GOP primary.

BERMAN: A rough night for Pawlenty, who has an untucked shirt there to prove it.

A first happening in Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District. State legislator Ilhan Omar wins the Democratic nomination for an open House seat. She could become the first Somali-American in Congress.

HILL: History made in Vermont. Democrat Christine Hallquist becomes the first openly transgender major party nominee for governor.

BERMAN: And in Connecticut, CNN projects that Democrat Ned Lamont will face off against Republican Bob Stefanowski in the race for governor.

HILL: In the state's Fifth Congressional District, Jahana Hayes won the Democratic nomination, moving her one step closer to becoming the state's first black Democrat to serve in Congress.

BERMAN: So that is the scene across the country in the midterm elections. There's also a lot to discuss in terms of the White House.

So let's bring in CNN Politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza. Charles Blow joins us, an op-ed columnist for "The New York Times." And CNN political commentator and former White House press secretary for President Clinton and CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart.

Again, it is not yet 24 hours, and I still think it is remarkable that the White House could not guarantee that there's not a tape of the president using the "N"-word. I think it's remarkable, Charles, but I do want to know that, as far back as February of this year, more Americans than not in a Quinnipiac poll said that they believe the president of the United States was a racist.

CHARLES BLOW, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right, and they have a reason to believe it. I think that when we keep questioning whether or not he's a misogynist or a sexist or a racist, as if it is not borne out by the facts, we undermine the fact that it is, in fact, borne out by the facts.

This is a 70-year-old man who has given decades of interviews, said all manner of thing when he was not a politician, when he never thought that he was going to be a politician. That is part of the record. And we keep having some strange standard with him where people want us to start over every week, every month, every year, every decade. All those things that he said before don't matter. We shouldn't take those into account, even though he has never apologized for any of it. He has never walked back away from it.

The only thing that he did try to walk back, show some contrition about, but was not doing it fully, was the "Access Hollywood" tape, because he thought it was going to sink him. And then after the fact, he said, "I should not have done that, and maybe it's not even me on the tape," which is a complete lie.

But so when you see a person who has basically done this, and this is evidence of both racism, sexism, misogyny, never apologized for it, never walked away from it, how do you then expect me, any other American who's seen that to not take that into their calculation about his other behaviors and run everything he does through that filter?

Not doing that is kind of a point of -- a sign of insanity. We would be insane if we weren't doing that, if we were even saying that we kept questioning and saying, this was a matter of opinion in whether he's a racist or not. No it's not. That's -- that's deductive reasoning. He is, he is.

And people have basically cooked that into the books. I think that if you found the tape of him using the "N"-word, it might actually increase his support among the people who support him.

This is -- this does nothing to them. They are so baked in. They believe wholeheartedly in this approach that he is taking, and none of these insults to people who look like me hurt them, because it is not them. And there is not a betrayal of their belief in him. It is not a betrayal in what they want him to do. This is exactly what they want him to do.

If you could -- if you're still supporting him after Charlottesville, if you're still supporting him after what he's done about Haiti in an African country, you're still supporting what he said about Mexicans, if you're still supporting him as he said that Islam hates us, then this is what you want from him. I don't know what else we're supposed to say. This is not a debate. This is who he is, this is what they accepted. This is what they want.

BERMAN: Do you think that his support -- again, it's at 42 percent. Forty-two percent are supporting him because of this rather than in spite of it?

BLOW: It doesn't -- does it matter? That's the question. If you can turn a blind eye because you don't have skin in that game --

BERMAN: Literally.

BLOW: Literally. Right? Your skin doesn't look like that, then that means you're part of it, you're complicit in it. It doesn't mean you have to wake up every morning actively hating someone. Animus is not required for someone to be a racist or a white supremacist. It's not. And that is a big fallacy about it.

[07:10:05] People think you have to hate in order to arrange people in a hierarchy, but you don't. You can just simply believe that that is true. You can simply believe that racism and white supremacy produce better outcomes for everyone. That black and brown people will be better off, too, if white people were just in charge. If you just follow this man, what he wants to do, you'll be better off with this. That -- people don't think like that. That 42 percent have turned a

blind eye to what he's doing, or they are actively cheering it, if you look at some of those rallies, what he's doing. They're part of it. There's no separation from me between the person who has the racist philosophy and the person who supports the person with the racist philosophy.

HILL: And that is a question, and that is a question that is debated regularly. Can you put -- and it does -- yes, we can see that in the grand scheme of things it does happen with other candidates in other ways, but there are people who will look at it and say -- will say, look, not everyone who supports this president is a racist, even if the numbers say that more Americans believe he is a racist then do not does not mean that every person that supports him is a racist.

But there's a lot to talk about in that. And you make a point that's something for absolutely people to think about who may not have looked at it that way. Who say, "Look, I have a job, and therefore I can put that aside." Your point is can you?

BLOW: Not all -- Listen, not all of the Germans who stayed silent while they dragged peopled into gas chambers hated the Jews, but you were silent and then you let it happen.

Not everybody in America owned slaves, but they were -- too many of them were silent, and the next plantation over had them, and the next house over had them, and you didn't say a word.

You can't live in a society like this. There is no middle ground. You have to take a stand. When there is hatred in the world, you have to take a stand. When there is not -- when people are not giving everybody a fair chance, you have to take a stand.

If you say, "Well, it's not about me. I don't believe that. And therefore, I can just take the policy without the poison," then you are telling yourself a lie in order to get something without giving anything.

Life is about -- you don't -- you have that option in life. You give something. You stand for something or you stand for nothing. And that is the option. And these people are choosing -- if you're thinking you're standing for nothing, and you're just saying, "I don't agree with that but I agree with the policies, and I want the Supreme Court justice, and I want -- I want, you know, what Jeff Sessions is doing on criminal justice, and I want what Ben Carson is doing," you don't have it that way. That is not an option for you. That is not -- that is not what's going to happen in this society. You are giving -- in your silence, you are complicit, and you are silently acquiescing to a hatred. And that is part of your legacy in America.

BERMAN: Joe Lockhart, I want to bring you into this discussion, because I can already imagine that there will be supporters of President Trump, and there are networks that will excerpt part of what Charles just had to say there and say to people that have been supportive of President Trump that you have a liberal commentator like Charles saying, "You are all racist." That is something that will now be used, to an extent, to fire up the base. The politics of grievance, in some cases, has worked for them in the past. So there is that.

And also, you know, from the podium, you have Sarah Sanders yesterday trying to move beyond this. I think trying to move beyond it. I'm just not so sure what she was trying to do up there yesterday when she was answering those questions. First of all, not being able to guarantee that the president isn't on tape using the "N"-word. That's a strange box to get yourself into. And making incorrect claims about black unemployment, just flat-out incorrect claims. And then saying that he's an equal opportunity insulter, when that's not proven out by the facts, either, when if you count since the inauguration, he has clearly insulted the intelligence of black people way more than white people, Joe.

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, listen, I'm not going to try to be more eloquent or thoughtful than Charles was on racism, but I agree with everything he said. Let me take it in a lightly different direction.

They have made every political P.R. mistake you can make in the last 72 hours. What they should have done with this book -- I mean, Sarah's response yesterday, she didn't need to get into what she knew and vouching for the president. All she had to do was say the president has denied it and leave it there.

The much bigger mistake was a president who has absolutely no impulse control. This story could have gone away very quickly, mostly because people don't believe Omarosa. Because she's got her own credibility problems.

But Trump's inability to not jump in and have a cat fight, a dog fight in his words, with anyone who criticizes him, has elevated this now to a major, major problem for them.

[07:15:10] And then to take the step yesterday, you know, to move to a legal forum, this is the publisher's -- publisher's dream. It's Omarosa's dream. It's now put the president of the United States on equal footing with Omarosa.

And, you know, the idea -- and it's got -- the message it sends, I think, to most Americans, maybe not the group Charles was talking about, is boy, there must really be something on these tapes. And we don't even know if there are tapes, but we're going to spend the next couple of weeks trying to figure out what's on these tapes? Why are they fighting so hard? They should have ignored it. They should have followed the playbook of finding a couple of things that they could prove were prong, say, "Look, these things are wrong. We're just not talking about this."

BERMAN: It is -- it is fascinating on a number of levels, that A, this is where the president's focus is, right, is continually fighting fire with fire, as Sarah Sanders was saying yesterday. That he continues to go after Omarosa. That we're talking about two people going after one another who both have significant issues when it comes to credibility. We can't ignore that fact. And amid all of this, there is this discussion of race that is not

going anywhere. And as we look back at that poll, and what we just heard from Charles and I will echo, said so eloquently, that part of it, too, is Chris Cillizza, when does this start to matter?

So as Charles was laying out, you know, at some point you have to take his estimation. At some point, you have to take this into account. At what point does all of this really start to resonate with the American public?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS WRITER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, I think you have to think of the American public, whether you want to or not, as a bifurcated public. There -- there's very little gray area, and I don't mean -- when I say black and white in these terms, I don't mean it racially. There's very little gray area as it relates to Donald Trump.

There is people who, now at this point, believe anything he says and will not be changed and will yell "fake news," and say you're playing the race card. And then there are people who view him as fundamentally sort of an important bad break from the way in which we have thought about presidents in the past.

So there isn't really an American public. There's Trump people and not Trump people.

For Trump people, Charles is right. This stuff won't impact them. The reality is that Donald Trump has praised Omarosa repeatedly. He hired her four times. I made this point many times. The only way he can fire someone four times is if you hire them four times. He likes her. He has tweeted about it many times before, or at least he liked her.

The fact that he has now turned on her, the fact that he talks about her in racialized terms quite purposely will not bother, and I do think -- I'm with Charles in I do think that, for a decent chunk of Trump's supporters, it will make them happy. So I don't know that it will have a massive impact.

Joe talked about the people who aren't in that group, and I would say who aren't in the other group, which is that whatever Donald Trump says they don't want to hear. It's a small group of people who are on the fence-ish about Donald Trump. That's the people who this could potentially impact over time.

But I would say if you don't have an opinion about Donald Trump, after the campaign he ran and after the first 18 months of his presidency, it feels like you may have an apartment on another planet. Because it's hard for me to imagine that being the case. Although there are, apparently, according to polling, a few people who feel that way.

BERMAN: Chris Cillizza, Joe Lockhart, Charles Blow, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and sharing your heart. Really appreciate it.

HILL: Just ahead, a shocking grand jury report which outlines decades of sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by predator priests. And one of the victims of that abuse will join us, next.


[07:22:56] HILL: A disturbing new grand jury report records decades of abuse by priests in Pennsylvania. More than 1,000 children were sexually abused by clergy. And a report finds the Catholic Church leaders actively protected and covered up for more than 300 predator priests.

Joining us this morning, Shaun Dougherty, who was sexually abused beginning at the age of 10 by a priest who was also a teacher and coach at his school. The abuse by that priest was detailed in a separate grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, which was released in 2016. And Sean joins us this morning.

Thank you, first of all, for coming in. I know you've been waiting for this report to come out, so you've been sort of laying in wait. Now that it's finally out there, how are you this morning?

JOE DOUGHERTY, ABUSED BY PRIEST: I'm at peace this morning. Yesterday was the end of a very long journey that started for me in 2012 when I first gave a statement to the county, district attorney's office in Johnstown.

In 2012, I came from Johnstown here to New York, to open my restaurant that I own in Long Island City, Crescent Grill. And we had just purchased the property. And my mom called and said, "Father Koharchick's picture is on the front page of the 'Johnstown Tribune- Democrat.' He's been removed from ministry, and the district attorney is asking people for information."

I phoned an old friend of mine that I hadn't spoken to in a long time, but we had a shared experience with this priest, and we agreed that we would go back and give a statement.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is a small town. I'm one of nine children. Everybody knows a Dougherty in Johnstown. Like the assistant district attorney, like the detective that I gave my statement to, like the chief of police that was sitting next to him, like the assistant district attorney that was sitting next to him.

[07:25:03] So a week after I gave my statement, I received a phone call and was told that it was being turned over to the state attorney general's office. And in 2016, a huge surprise to me, when the report was released, that my abuser was in it, my statement is in it.

So today, I am at peace. I have gone through, you know -- I'm a veteran of the Navy. I felt obligated in the '90s to speak up when I came home from boot camp. And it was a hard time for people to understand that. Plus, we learned from this report that they groomed the entire community into that.

So I feel that I've fulfilled my duty. Yesterday, since coming forward, now 350-some priests. And now, since I've been public about this for two years, you know, I'm standing on the shoulders of many, many before me that, unfortunately, many are no longer with us. And they're propping me up right now and -- and I have to tell you, I'm completely at peace today.

HILL: You were, in turn, helping to prop up a number of other people who are seeing you this morning, who have read your account. It calls into question, though, what do you feel is the proper recourse? What should happen to these priests? Is there such a thing as justice for you?

DOUGHERTY: Sure, you know, justice is -- there has to be -- there's a crime; there must be a punishment.

You know, the Catholic faith is raised on sin. We are all sinners. We all commit sin. And we are all due forgiveness. It's possible.

Well, you have to first stop the sin. And to this point, the church has refused to do that. They fought this report up to the very last minute. So statutes of limitation reform, legislation.

Again, I'm a military veteran. I don't understand how an organization has more say and more sway in the state that I swore to defend than I do. So there's a bill in the Pennsylvania state house being debated now, and that could bring justice.

Plus, you know, the retroactive window portion of the bill that would give somebody like me an opportunity who timed out at 15 years old. I had to say something. By the time my abuse was done, I wasn't old enough to drive a car; but I had to do this at 15, would give me an opportunity, is being debated.

HILL: Which is remarkable that there's a question in some ways, that there is a question that it shouldn't be --

DOUGHERTY: Well, that's the lobbyists' side. That's the money side. That's the power and control side.

HILL: In terms of power and control, there is power and control in the Vatican. And the Vatican this morning said in terms of a comment on this grand jury report, their comment right now is no comment.

What should Pope Francis do in this situation, and where has he -- he's received mixed reports, to put it mildly, on the way he has handled allegations of abuse by priests in the past. Is there something he could do now, in your eyes?

DOUGHERTY: I'm a business owner, you know? This is an opportunity for me.

I was in Harrisburg yesterday. I found this. We're trying to push this legislation through. I'm exhausted. Yesterday was a trying day. I have to work tonight. I got in the car and drove from Harrisburg to here for this spot. 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.

You know, Bishop Gainer from Harrisburg has just came forward, 71 names. He's so sorry. He's -- you know, it's all about the victims. What he didn't say is he's the head of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference of Bishops, which is the lobbying -- which is paying the lobbying effort against the victims for the statutes of limitation. So he's saying that he's working with the attorney general's office while simultaneously fighting those recommendations that that grand jury just put forth yesterday.

HILL: If you could speak to the pope at this point, what would you say directly?

DOUGHERTY: You have a serious public relations problem. From a business end. I mean set aside --

HILL: What about from the moral end?

DOUGHERTY: What 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? What am I supposed to say to them? I have to deal with them as the way that they treat their organization. They're not treating it as a moral, faith-based organization. They're treating it as a business.