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White House Defends Trump's Comment about Omarosa; Report on Priest Sexual Abuse; Parkland Students Return to School; University Takes Responsibility for Death. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 15, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The last three years. I don't know where you have been for the last 40 years.

Look, this guy's racist history and racist past began with housing discrimination in New York back in the '60s. Let's not forget the Central Park Five. Let's not forget the attacks on Frederica Wilson, on Maxine Waters, on John Lewis who, for God's sake, is a quasi-deity when it comes to civil rights. Let's not forget the birther conspiracy, which is what gave him his birth in politics, questioning Barack Obama's authenticity and legitimacy as a president. Let's not forget the s-hole countries. Let's not forget the second treatment of Puerto Ricans. Let's not forget the attacks on Don Lemon and LeBron James for having -- for calling them dumb.

So, you know, if you need this in order to believe the guy is a racist, I mean, come on. Wake up and small the racism. Really, it isn't that hard.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And, Scott, I just want to make one point. You were talking about selling the good story. One of the problems is Sarah Sanders was trying to talk about black unemployment and she gave bad information. She made a claim that just wasn't true from the podium yesterday in the White House press room suggesting that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has already created more jobs for African-Americans than President Obama. She had to correct that afterwards. So if you're going to use the economic argument, Sarah Sanders better get her facts straight.

Who's credible right now in any of this, Scott? That's one of the problems here is that the president, Sarah Sanders, some of the president's allies trying to push back here, Katrina Pierson. But she was just caught lying about a tape. You know, she said she never had a conversation and we heard a tape of her having that conversation. So who has credibility in this entire discussion?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, that's a great question and I guess it depends on who you believe in the most. I mean if you're somebody who hates the president and you wants to see him come down and you want to see him lose and you want to see him fail, then you're going to find the people who are disparaging him to be more credible. And if you want to see the president succeed, you want to believe everything that he says. I mean I -- that -- we've separated into our tribes here, just like in

every other situation in his presidency. There's a credibility gap on a lot of fronts and so you just sort of retreat into your corner and choose to believe the person that you want to believe in and disbelieve anybody who's calling that belief system into question. And it's happening on this front as well.

I just think when the president responds to her, he is giving her credibility because it makes it appear as though he's worried about it. And then she's smartly, in some cases, gone out and sort of baited people into saying things that appear not to be true then based on audiotape evidence. So I think -- I think one way to keep people from believing that she is credible in this case would be to stop responding to her.

BERMAN: Ana, how many --

CABRERA: Listen, the person who gave -- yes, but the person who gave Omarosa credibility to begin with is Donald Trump. Or lack of credibility, right, because I think some of us never found her credible. Don't find Donald Trump credible. Certainly don't find Sarah Sanders credible. Don't find any of that lot credible.

But let's remember, Omarosa is, you know, Donald Trump's test tube baby. He owns this baby. He's hired her, not once, not twice, not thrice, he's hired her four times between reality TV and the White House. This is his problem. He owns this.

So you can't claim that Donald Trump did not know what kind of person Omarosa was. You can't claim that it's a different tribe. No, they are birds of a feather and they flock together.

What's interesting to see here is that you are seeing some of the same Trump mechanisms and the same Trump tricks used against him by somebody that is his protege and his mentee, who has been around him and who, probably with the exception of Jared and Ivanka, Jarvanka (ph) or whatever they're called, Omarosa is the person in the White House that he hired who he knew the best. A lot of the other folks he was meeting for the first time, folks like Reince Priebus or Sean Spicer or this -- Sarah Sanders or even John Kelly. Omarosa, he has known for years, decades. So he cannot claim that this is not a problem of his making.

He has no credibility. Sarah Sanders has no credibility. Omarosa has no credibility. She has been part -- she has been complicit with this administration, with the lies, with the racism for far too long to now come and play victim.

Truly, for me, one of the most disconcerting things about this entire situation is that I've come almost close, scarily close, to feeling some sort of solidarity with Omarosa. And then I remember her actions and what she said and what she has done and where she has been for the last three years and I say, girl, get over it. Take two aspirins and lay down.

BERMAN: Ana Navarro, Scott Jennings, thanks very much for being with us. I do appreciate it.


[08:34:49] HILL: Grand jury report detailing extensive efforts to cover up decades of abuse by hundreds of predatory priests. More than a thousand children involved here. So, what is the Catholic Church going to do?


HILL: A new grand jury report reveals decades of abuse by priests in Pennsylvania. More than a thousand children were sexually abused by clergy. The report finding Catholic Church leaders protected and covered up for more than 300 predator priests.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins us now with more.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, it's a massive report, 884 pages, and 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 sex abuse in their commonwealth. The report states that credible allegations were found against over 300 priests, over 1,000 child victims were identifiable.

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

[08:40:22] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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. The rest cannot because the statute of limitations has already run because, the attorney general says, because of the cover up.

More indictments may happen in the future because the investigation is continuing. The report also describes a priest who actually quit the priesthood, he got out after being the subject of many child abuse complaints, but he asked for and received a letter of recommendation for work at Walt Disney World. He worked there, according to this report, for the next 18 years.

And, John, the Vatican has spoken out this morning saying they actually do not have a comment at this point on this report.

BERMAN: All right, Jean, I'm not sure that really counts as speaking out.

Thanks so much for being with us, Jean Casarez.

Joining me now is Father Edward Beck, a Roman Catholic priest, CNN religion commentator.

Father Beck, thanks so much for being with us.

Let me ask you first about that point that just -- Jean just made there. We reached out to the Vatican for comment. Their official statement is, they have no comment. Don't they need to have a comment on this?

FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: I would hope that eventually they do, John. Remember, of course, the pope deals with a worldwide church. And as you've heard recently, reports from Chile and other places in the world are grappling and dealing with this same issue. So I'm sure in the larger context there may be a statement perhaps that just has not come out yet.

BERMAN: It does seem, in some cases, that some of the official response has been to split hairs here. I was struck by a quote that I read in "The New York Times" today from Bishop David Zubik from Pittsburgh who said, there were no cover ups going on. I think it's important to be able to state that. We have, over the course of the last 30 years, for sure been transparent about everything that has, in fact, been transpiring.

I was struck by that because this report, this mountain of pages and the evidence that was produced said exactly the opposite, that what was lacking in some cases was transparency. That what existed was an entire process to circumvent, I think, transparency.

BECK: Yes, I would not say from my evaluation, John, that it's been exactly transparent. Now, granted, that's on the advice many times of legal counsel who advise against that and the church as an institution follows legal advice. But the primary role of bishops and priests is to be pastors of their flock, not administrators, not CEOs, not worried primarily about fiduciary concerns. And so I think it troubles me to say that there was transparency because I don't think publicly that can be claimed with a straight face.

BERMAN: What's your message to Catholics in America, young Catholic families deciding right now whether to be active in their church communities. How do you say to them, this is a safe place? What's your message? BECK: John, my message would be -- and it's scat consolation, but

since 2002, with the Boston exposure, things have changed. These are reports from 70 years now. And only two priests are being prosecuted that are named. Over 100 of them are dead. So there is certainly now, in the Catholic Church, safeguards in place. There is mandatory reporting. Priests are removed from ministry. So I do not believe the problem exists as it once did.

However, do we still have further to go? Yes. But I think there's been vast improvement. So that's the hope that I have that that the improvement will continue and that we won't be talking about this ever again in the near future.

BERMAN: You brought up the fact that only two priests have been charged here. There are people who will look at this and say -- and, in fact, it was one of the recommendations of this grand jury -- that the statute of limitations for charges like this should be removed. There's no statute of limitations for the victims here. They're still living with the pain. They're still feeling the pain here. Is that something that you think should be considered?

BECK: Well, John, to be quite honest with you, I'm a little conflicted because this because legally, for a lot of crimes, there is statute of limitation. And I don't think we can just say for priests or for the church there shouldn't be. So if you're going to dispense with statutes of limitations across the board, as you know, the only crime that it doesn't exist for is murder. And the reason for that is because memory fades, evidence is compromised, et cetera. There are reasons for it.

[08:45:16] However, I think in this instance, we may have to consider getting rid of it just to show some credibility. Just showing that compassion is first and foremost, not the legality of what the law says we need to or should do.

BERMAN: Father Edward Beck, it's always a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks so much for joining us this morning. I do appreciate it.

BECK: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Erica.

HILL: Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returning to class today. So, what is different six months later? We have a life report, next.


HILL: Six months after the Parkland massacre, students are back in class this morning at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. CNN's Dianne Gallagher is live in Parkland, Florida, this morning with more.

[08:50:02] Dianne, good morning.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. And, you know, it's sort of their new normal here. Broward County Schools invested $26 million in security upgrades as a result of that shooting that happened six months ago yesterday. But for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, both past and present, the real change they hope comes from the shooting at their school will happen at the ballot box.


GALLAGHER (voice over): Back home in Parkland, for only the third time in two months, David Hogg isn't resting.

DAVID HOGG, SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: And this is a fight of our generation for our lives. This is not about 2018. This is about 2020. This is about 2022, 2024, 2040 and beyond.

GALLAGHER: Kicking off in Chicago back in June --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, how y'all doing, Chicago?

GALLAGHER: And wrapping up in Newtown, Connecticut, on Sunday, the March for Our Lives Road to Change summer tour crisscrossed the nation. The now familiar faces of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors pairing themselves with other young activists.

D. HOGG: For a moment, to become a movement, it has to be inclusive.

LAUREN HOGG, SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. And that's kind of the mind-set that we've taken.

GALLAGHER: After hundreds of thousands marched in Washington and other cities to support the Parkland teens' Never Again movement, their political cloud -- or celebrity, depending on who you ask -- seemed to skyrocket. The question now, will any of it matter come Election Day?

D. HOGG: If we can speak this change into existence, it will come. We've seen 55 gun laws passed in over 20 states since the tragedy to our school.

GALLAGHER: A recent graduate, David is preparing for get out the vote efforts through the midterms, while his sister, Lauren, is getting ready for her sophomore year at the same school where four of her friends were murdered.

L. HOGG: I feel like as I sit in class, as I learn about like trigonometry or any other subject, I'm going to feel like I could spend that time in communities like Baltimore or on the south side of Chicago or anywhere else, in D.C., lobbying, making this change.

GALLAGHER: But, things have changed in Parkland, too. Six months after a former student murdered 17 people at the freshman building, security is far tighter in Florida schools, though for some, not tight enough. More than 50 cameras installed on Stoneman Douglas' campus, patrolled by 18 security personnel. Three are sheriff's deputies. Still, Rebecca Boldrick, a Broward County elementary school teacher,

and David and Lauren's mother, isn't quite sold on the security upgrades.

REBECCA BOLDRICK, DAVID AND LAUREN'S MOTHER: So I just think some of the kinks haven't been worked out yet. And at Douglas, I don't think that they have done enough. And it's been really frustrating.

L. HOGG: So a lot of the things that they're doing right now, it's like they're putting Band-Aids on bullet holes.

GALLAGHER: And while her brother focuses on the future --

D. HOGG: And we will save lives!

GALLAGHER (on camera): Do you plan to run for office? Is that where you see this going?

D. HOGG: I don't know if I will, but I will tell you, the other night I was thinking about how old I'd be -- I'll be when I go to grad school and then I realized I could run for Congress then. So --

GALLAGHER (voice over): Their mother worries about the present.

BOLDRICK: I feel like Lauren is safer going to school tomorrow than she was before February 14th, but I think she's going to see ghosts everywhere she goes in school, and that's really sad.


GALLAGHER: Now, a law passed by Florida legislators shortly after the shooting here increased mental health funding at all of the schools, but it also required an armed guard at every single school, John, and they just don't simply have enough police officers in Florida to do that. They're trying to train these guardians. They're former police officers or military members to be the armed guard at the school. But right now law enforcement's having to step up in cities like Ft. Lauderdale and in other counties across the state until they can catch up on that new law.

BERMAN: All right, Dianne Gallagher for us in Parkland. Dianne, thanks so much. It's going to be a tough day down there. We are thinking of everyone.

Hard turn here.

The University of Maryland says it takes full responsibility for the death of one of their football players. Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair died back in June due to a heat stroke he suffered after a grueling workout on campus. His death is a tragedy. And what makes it even worse is, it that it could have been totally 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.


[08:55:06] SCHOLES: Now, last week, ESPN published a report detailing allegations of verbal abuse, bullying and a general disregard for the players' well-being at Maryland. The school has placed Head Coach Dj Durkin on leave while they investigate allegations of a toxic culture in the program. The team's head strength coach, Rick Court, resigned on Monday.

And, you know, guys, you know, credit to the way Maryland handled that yesterday, taking full responsibility for what happened. But, that being said, they didn't do it until ESPN came out with their investigation.

BERMAN: That's the importance of journalism. The importance of being a watchdog there.

Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

HILL: Thanks to all of you for joining us. CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up right after this break.


[09:00:12] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.