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Report: Aretha Franklin Dies at Age Of 76; Omarosa Releases New Tape Recording. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 16, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you so much. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. And let's just continue remembering the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin. Hearts worldwide are mourning the loss of this multi-award-winning music legend. She passed away this morning in her Detroit home, surrounded by family and friends. Miss Franklin is an American icon. A music legend whose transformative songs and divine talent crossed all social, racial, and economic barriers. She commanded respect.

18 Grammy awards, countless accolades. The first woman inducted into the rock 'n' roll hall of fame. She sang for kings and queens and U.S. presidents. Who could forget her soul-stirring performance that brought former President Barack Obama to tears.

Goose bumps. Franklin's family says she died from advanced pancreatic cancer and I'll read this statement. It reads, "in one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on."

Don Lemon, Roger Friedman, Roger is editor in chief of Showbiz, 411, both are friends of Miss Franklin. And just, today, all I want to do is hear her music and hear stories.


BALDWIN: So, let's just do that.

FRIEDMAN: We have lots.

BALDWIN: I woke up listening to you.

FRIEDMAN: We have lots.

BALDWIN: The tears from this morning, it's just -- it's a sad day, but let's celebrate her. So, starting with -- we were --

FRIEDMAN: We were talking about the Kennedy Center.

BALDWIN: The Kennedy Center.

FRIEDMAN: So that was taped at the beginning of December, two years ago and I didn't go to Washington, but I heard what happened. And she had knocked them out with "Natural Woman." And then, the show aired like December 29th on TV. So, people saw it for the first time. And two days later on New Year's Day, Aretha played Mohegan Sun, she booked the date. So, I met her and we're walking in and the venue manager said, we're going to start a little later, we had to add 300 seats. So, we said, why? Aretha says, why? She says, I don't know, but it's really sold out and now there are people waiting online and they're all asking if you'll sing this song called "Natural Woman."

BALDWIN: Like they've just discovered --

FRIEDMAN: So, Aretha says, I've been singing it for 50 years. I think it's the fifth song in the set, it's no big deal. And this woman goes, no, you have to sing it. And she goes, don't worry, I'll sing it. And she says, 50 years, I'm an overnight sensation.

BALDWIN: That's hysterical. Of course, Carole King, who wrote it, we saw her in the clip. You know, how could you give this beautiful song to Aretha Franklin. And reading so much about her today and growing up of course from Memphis and moving to Detroit, singing in Reverend CL Franklin her father's church choir at a young, young age. And we'll get into all the hits and everything else. But it seems like from everything I'm hearing, she was a gospel singer at heart.

[14:05:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Just listen to her music. And the piano, that's her playing the piano. And, you know, I heard someone on CNN earlier. And I said it before then, too. She was a musician. She was a real musician. She learned to play music on her own.

BALDWIN: Because her dad said, can I get you lessons?

LEMON: Later on, in life, she did get lessons. I think she went to Juilliard.

FRIEDMAN: Every summer, Aretha came to New York for a summer. And she would stay in the Hamptons for a week and stay in Manhattan for a week and she would go to Juilliard and have a piano instructor and it was all about technique and form.

BALDWIN: Can you imagine being that piano instructor at Juilliard, by the way?

FRIEDMAN: They probably learned a lot from her.


FRIEDMAN: But she is just really naturally adept. She can just do anything. And they taught her to -- she would say to me, look, I'm keeping my hands down. She would do it in the hotel room and show me what she had learned that day.

BALDWIN: Sure, sure. Another story, and of course, I want to hear from both of you, but her last big public show was in Philadelphia last August.


BALDWIN: You were there.

FRIEDMAN: I was there.

LEMON: I was at -- I think she did --

FRIEDMAN: Elton John.

LEMON: Elton John, with Clive Davis.


LEMON: When she came here to do Radio City.

BALDWIN: Which is how you got connected. Tell me about that show.

FRIEDMAN: The last -- she was -- now I can talk about it. She's been sick for a long time. And then she rallied. She got sick first in 2010 and things were very bad. And then she really rallied. She'd never discussed her condition. She would never tell us what was wrong, exactly. But she got better and really started doing great shows. And also, because of the illness, she lost weight. So, the irony was that she -- her voice was stronger. So, she was really singing great, and she knew it. So, come the time for Philadelphia, she had done a show in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in July last year, and it wasn't so good. I could see it on YouTube. I called her and I said, I'm meeting you in Philadelphia on August 26th. So, we had dinner. And then she went out and did this show. And it was remarkable. And it was -- it was her last show. But I'll tell you, the people who were there will tell you, it was -- like she had never been sick and her voice had top power. And we were all -- everybody backstage was shocked about how great it was, but she really put it out there. And she said to -- she said on stage, I think this is my last show.

LEMON: And I remember -- I got a text from her --

BALDWIN: Let's read Aretha Franklin's text. Don, just dive on into your phone.

FRIEDMAN: From the 14 different phone numbers.

LEMON: Something that I can share. This is from just before the Clive show. She said, hi, Don. Watching you last week, you look really great and on the money. Back in New York, April 19th for Clive's big night at radio city. Movie premiering, Robert De Niro producing after myself, Earth, Wind and Fire, Jen Hudson, Barry Manilow, Dionne Warwick, let me know if you would like to attend. Best, Aretha. So, I attended, of course. I had to leave early for work. I said, thank you for thinking of me, I would love to. And we started talking and just kept texting each other. And she said -- she thanked me for coming. And I said, of course, you sounded great, but queen, you looked amazing last night, amazing. Thank you, and she goes, thank you, Don. Looking at you, xx ooo, Aretha. This was her on stage at the Clive Davis thing. And she looked absolutely beautiful.

BALDWIN: Gorgeous. LEMON: That night. That was just not long before the Philadelphia

show. But she would not -- you know, you're right. She would not share her personal business and her health information with even some people who were extremely close to her. Because she --

BALDWIN: Very private in that way.

LEMON: Extremely private. And I spoke to someone who had been close to her for a long time, and she said, Don, for the longest time, we didn't know. And she wouldn't confirm exactly what it was. We did find out it was cancer, but she wouldn't even confirm the type of cancer. Very private.

BALDWIN: Why do you think?

FRIEDMAN: I think part of it was, her siblings all died of cancer in their 60s, and I think she was a little resigned to it, like this was something that was coming, was expected. And she didn't want to get involved in it. She wanted to keep pushing through. So as long as she could get the treatments for it, she would just keep performing. That's all she was interested in.

LEMON: But did you notice over the last couple of years, she was always very gregarious, but it seemed like she was embracing life even more. I didn't read anything into it I just thought she was looking great and that she was in a good place. And she would always say, well, let's kick it, right?


[14:10:00] LEMON: And in a way that she hadn't done before. Now, looking back, maybe --

FRIEDMAN: I think she sort of had a feeling like, let's live life to the fullest. Right now. You know, that was a big part of it.

BALDWIN: So, you're in Philadelphia with Aretha franklin. This is, what, a couple of years ago?

FRIEDMAN: This is last year. Ahead of the -- you know where I'm going with. The full etc. Right now. You know, that was a big part of it. For the pope.

Two years ago, was the pope.

She was hired by -- there was a group that staged a musical show for the pope, in the big square in Philadelphia, so I got this e-mail, and she said, do you want to come meet the pope?

BALDWIN: Do you want to come meet the pope?

FRIEDMAN: And the group of people we went with included Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. So, we all -- all of us got on the train and whatever we had to do to go to Philadelphia. I said to her, you know I'm Jewish, and she said, he won't mind. Very quick wit.

LEMON: She was fast.

FRIEDMAN: She was fast. And we had -- it was amazing. And they seated us -- when she performed for the pope, we sat right in the front row.

BALDWIN: Of course.

FRIEDMAN: And I have great pictures I have to pull out. Some are on Showbiz 411 of you can see the pope -- the pope had no idea who she was prior to this, but he was beaming through the whole thing. I was taking pictures of her like, who is this? This is the greatest thing I've ever heard.

BALDWIN: OK, OK, so you guys have all of these text messages from Aretha Franklin.

LEMON: I have great pictures.

BALDWIN: And her gazillion phones. She kept losing her phone, changing phone numbers, like, couldn't figure out --

This is the Clive party.

LEMON: No, this is at the Ritz Carlton. Her birthday party -- I think this was 2016. Oh, my god, I love her so much. Look at that. And she loved her fur coats. Like, she just loved. And she loved performing in them and she loved being the diva and taking -- oh, there she is. She loved coming on stage and taking the coat off and the crowd would go crazy. Do you remember once, remember she pulled her hairpiece off that one time.

FRIEDMAN: Oh, yes, yes.


LEMON: She'd kick her shoes off, whatever was comfortable.

BALDWIN: I love listening to you guys talk before about her purse and about cold, hard cash.

FRIEDMAN: Oh, the cash. Well, James Brown told me that he taught her to do this. And I asked her, and I think it was true that they used to tour in the '60s in the south and the white promoters would not pay them. They would stiff them when the show was over. So, James Brown, he was the first to do it, he would say, I'm only taking -- I want the cash up-front and then I'll perform. So that's what Aretha did. And she would get it and she would put it in her purse. And as the years went by, the purse got nicer and nicer and nicer.

BALDWIN: And bigger and bigger and bigger.

FRIEDMAN: And like a suitcase. And Willie Wilkerson, her boyfriend and the manager of her band, would come out with her and put the purse locked under the piano. And she would not -- you knew that there would be an encore if the purse -- if the purse stayed under the piano. LEMON: The purse was always in her eye line. And it was always --

even at the parties, the purse would be under the -- right next to her foot or on a chair that was reserved for her. When she came on my show, she would put the purse on the floor.

FRIEDMAN: But she didn't have the cash in the purse at --

LEMON: No, I didn't have to pay her. But even when she was paying the folks at the party for her birthday party, Aretha would open her purse and hundred-dollar bills -- like, I have never seen anybody --

BALDWIN: We've got to go. I could keep listening to these stories. Quickly, you want to make a note?

FRIEDMAN: I want to say to the people in Detroit, there are amazing women who have been taking care of Aretha for the last eight months. Her niece, her cousin, another wonderful woman named Beverly. These people must be exhausted. Her son, Eddie, was sleeping in the apartment every night. Willie Wilkerson with, the greatest guy. Aretha Coleman, her assistant. And these people were so dedicated to her and devoted to her and I want to send them a lot of love today.

LEMON: And can I just say the world -- I mean, everyone can learn, especially young musicians coming up, women can learn something from Aretha franklin. Do it the right way. She did it all. She was a musician at heart. And she didn't just, you now, rely on just her talent, she also wanted to learn more and give more and be a really great person. And she did.

BALDWIN: Listen, learn, respect, gentlemen, a pleasure.

Thank you so much for that. We have much more of our coverage, our special coverage of Aretha Franklin as we celebrate her life over the next two hours.

Also ahead, we have breaking news. Former White House aide, Omarosa Manigault Newman releasing another secret recording of her private recordings of members of the president's private circle.

[14:15:00] This time the president's own daughter-in-law. Omarosa claims it shows an attempt to buy her silence. Stay with me.


BALDWIN: We are back. We'll get you back to the special coverage of Aretha franklin here in just a moment. But first, former Trump adviser, Omarosa Manigault Newman has just released another secret recording of conversations with people in the president's inner circle. This time, it's a phone call with President Trump's own daughter-in-law. So, in this recording, Lara Trump offers Omarosa this $15,000 amount a month job after she was fired from the administration. An offer coming after "The New York Times" published a story suggesting that Omarosa might break her silence following her firing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LARA TRUMP, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW OF THE PRESIDENT: Listen, obviously, with like "The New York Times" article and stuff, you know, it's --


LARA TRUMP: The one that -- the one that, um, it was with Maggie Haberman, they wrote about you. It sounds a little like, obviously, that there's something that they could pull out. Clearly, we can't have -- we've got to --

NEWMAN: Oh, god, no --

LARA TRUMP: Everybody positive, right? So, the only thing that we have to consider when we're talking salary as far as the campaign is concerned is that, as you know, everything is public. And all the money that we raise and that pays salary is directly from donors, small dollar donors for the most part. So, I know you were making 179 at the White House and I think we could work something out where we keep you right along those lines, specifically, I haven't even added up the numbers, but we were talking like 15k a month, let me see what that adds up to. Yes, so that's $180,000. Does that sound like a fair deal for you? In terms of your position, specifically, I really feel like your position would require, you know, you to be able to be flexible in terms of where with you are.

Sometimes, you know, come to New York for occasional meetings, but I would love you could occasionally go to these speaking engagements and that sort of thing for us. I think you would be awesome doing that. And so, it doesn't really matter where you are. If you're comfortable staying in DC, we're more than happy to have you --


BALDWIN: Lara Trump just released a statement explaining why she would make such an offer just days after so Omarosa was fired. She said, we still wanted her on our team, because we cared so much about her personally. That's why I reached out to offer her a position with the 2020 Trump campaign, before we knew anything about the gross violations of ethics and integrity during her White House tenure. Another one of Omarosa's bombshell tapes is a fraud. The conversations about a position with the campaign took place in numerous phone calls over the course of several weeks. That's Lara Trump. Omarosa claims she never signed that deal, but the Trump campaign says it's taking legal action against her, accusing Omarosa of signing and breaching a nondisclosure agreement she signed with the campaign back in 2016. So, let's discuss. CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger is with me, Berit Berger is with me as well, a former federal prosecutor for the eastern and southern districts of New York. So, ladies, welcome. And Gloria, just first to you. What's the big headline for you out of this tape?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST'S: Well, there really isn't a huge headline other than the fact that Lara Trump feels the need to respond to Omarosa and say, look, you cut and pasted a bunch of take place here that took place over a period of several weeks. But she really doesn't deny at all that they were trying to pay Omarosa to remain with the campaign and be, quote/unquote, positive. Which is what they were worried about after they saw that piece in "The New York Times," in which Omarosa hinted, very strongly, that there was more to come. There's one interesting part of this statement, at the very end of it, Brooke, where she says -- Lara Trump says to Omarosa, I hope it's all worth it for you, Omarosa, because some things you just can't put a price on. So, there you are. Not friends anymore, I would have to say.

BALDWIN: Nope. Not friends. And Berit, you're saying, your takeaway just listening to this conversation is that essentially, it was a no- show job.

BERIT BERGER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That's exactly right. And there could be significant legal implications on this.

BALDWIN: How so?

BERGER: Look, on the one hand, if they were actually offering her a job for this kind of money, perhaps there's no problem. But it doesn't really seem like they were actually offering her a legitimate job. here they had just fired her very recently and in firing her, General Kelly had made reference to, you know, these real integrity issues that she had.

[14:25:00] And clearly, she was somebody that knew a lot of dirt that had gone on. And so then right after that, they offer her this fairly lucrative job. The question is, look, is this something that she actually would have, you know, had to show up for? Would she have had to actually do work? Or was this for lack of a better word, hush money they were paying out. And legally, you can't use campaign finance money to pay hush money to someone who may have personal dirt on you. It's not allowed.

BALDWIN: No, you cannot. And we also know that the president has tried very hard to discredit her, tweeting about it quite a bit, Gloria, but the call is pretty strong evidence that this is an attempt to have Omarosa, as Berit was just saying, do very little or nothing for the same salary, even though the White House just fired her.

BORGER: Right. And Lara Trump claims in this statement that they did not know about the ethics issues and the other issues that had been raised by General Kelly in firing her. So, you know, she's saying, we didn't know anything about the gross violations of the ethics and integrity during her White House tenure. I think that sort of strains credulity here. It seems to me that the White House chief of staff fired her. He had clearly talked with the president about it. And then somebody had to say to Lara Trump, you know, what do we do now? How do we keep her -- how do we keep her onboard here in a positive way so she doesn't go spilling the beans to the "New York Times"? It seems to me, you can call it hush money, whatever you want to call it, that for Lara Trump to say, we didn't know why you were fired, why wouldn't anybody ask the question? Why was she fired? And then, maybe, they would have gotten an answer from General Kelly.

BALDWIN: Yep, yep. Gloria and Berit, thank you so much.

Next, an explosive response from the former CIA director, whose security clearance was revoked by President Trump. We'll talk live with the journalist who did the impromptu interview with the president about this move.

And much more on the life and legacy of Aretha franklin. How she's being remembered from the Apollo Theater in New York to her Hollywood star there in Hollywood to all around the world. We'll be right back.