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"Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin Dead at Age 76; Admiral Behind bin Laden Raid Tells Trump "Revoke" My Clearance Too; Vatican on Grand jury Report Says Sex Abuse Criminal, Reprehensible. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 16, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: It may have been nearly 70 years ago, but that moment that the young Aretha Franklin stood and sang a gospel song at her father's church will live forever. And today fans and friends are gathering outside New Bethel Baptist Church there in Detroit to honor the "Queen of Soul". And just a couple of years ago, "Time" magazine took a trip back to Detroit with Miss Franklin where it all began as she performed a classic Christian hymn, "Rock of Ages."



rock of ages long live rock of thee

let me, let me, let me higher myself from thee

let the water the water and the blood

from thy side which flowed be, be, be, be of sin

oh Lord, the double, the double cure


BALDWIN: After she performed, Miss Franklin had some powerful words for young women.


FRANKLIN: I don't think women need to do anything other than be right now. And that's moving forward. Moving to the forefront, moving into the areas that men have largely hold captive. We're coming.


BALDWIN: With me now, two ladies who were right there for this filming, Gillian Laub is a photographer and director for Southern Rights and Kira Pollack is the former deputy editor of "Time" magazine and current deputy editor of "Vanity Fair." So, ladies, welcome. I remember going to the event at "Time" magazine. I remember clicking on that video and watching it. It gave me goose bumps. I mean, I've never forgotten it. It's stunning. It's stunning. Everything about it is beautiful. And to be in the room, take me back. You know you're going to meet the Aretha Franklin at her father's church. And she shows up, what happens?

KIRA POLLACK, EXECUTIVE PRODUCED ARETHA FRANKLIN'S "ROCK OF AGES": So, well, when we were at the church and we were waiting for her and she was a few hours late.

BALDWIN: OK. She's got going on.

POLLACK We're all waiting, we're waiting, we're worried, we're nervous. And she comes in her pink coat.

BALDWIN: Pink fur coat.

POLLACK With a group of people, and she said, I'm not going to perform the song that she told us she was going to sing. And we were --

BALDWIN: Devastated.

POLLACK: She was definitely done. So, we did a picture of her and we did the interview and then I begged her to do the song. Because we were all there, we had her sound engineer, Gillian was directing it, we were ready. We were in this church where she had performed when she was 8 years old. And she agreed to do it. And so, we were in the pews of the church. There were probably just a handful of us, you know, 10, 12 people. And Gillian was there, directing it. And she walked up on to the altar with her friend, who brought her up there. She sat down, and she just played this song.


POLLACK: Extraordinary.

LAUB: I mean, it was -- we were just shaking, because it was -- we knew that we were in the presence of greatness and it was such an intimate, intimate performance. And it was so emotional.

[15:35:00] And at the end, she took a moment, she stopped singing, and everyone was silent, and her eyes were welled up with tears. So, we knew that there was something -- I mean, it was so emotional for her to be in her father's church. And maybe she wasn't well, but there was something so emotional in that moment. And she started to cry.

BALDWIN: She's crying, there's a few of you in this church, and still no one's saying anything. And did she just sit there?

LAUB: She took tissues and she wiped her eyes. And I asked her why that song, why did she choose that song, of all songs that she could sing? And she paused for a moment and looked up and said, I felt it in my spirit. And then it was done.

POLLACK: And it was done. And then she walked off the altar and walked out to the car. And it was just such an extraordinary performance. And there were ten of us watching and there was just the conviction -- I mean, it was like she was -- she had so much power, just being on that altar. It was just so extraordinary. And there was so much energy in what she was singing and what she was performing. It was so deeply emotional. And we knew there was something --

BALDWIN: Going on.

POLLACK: Going on, you know. It was so clear. But it was incredible.

BALDWIN: What a special experience for both of you. And I've seen the photos, the selfies, the photos that you guys got with Aretha Franklin. That is something you just put on a frame on your wall forever, basically.

LAUB: It was definitely one of the highlights of my whole life.


BALDWIN: Gillian and , Kira, thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate it. Extraordinary.

A reporter from one of our affiliate stations in Detroit actually had the honor of seeing Miss Franklin's last concert June 10th and this is what she remembers.


PAULA TUTMAN, DETROIT REPORTER WHO ATTENDED ARETHA FRANKLIN'S LAST CONCERT: I was sitting in the second row with some friends and my husband, she looked very, very frail, but she also had this incredible power. And so, she was being helped up on to the stage and when she actually got on stage, she did look sick. And I think locally, we all knew that she was sick and had been sick. But the moment she started to sing, the moment she opened up that voice, I mean, there was incredible power. I'm friends with her opera vocal coach and know that she sang "Nessun Dorma" on the Grammys and on "David Letterman show". And she was talking about her coaching sessions with her and she was just saying that anytime she was singing, there was just this incredible strength and power that emanated from her.



BALDWIN: This just in. The man who oversaw the Navy SEAL raid that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, he's now calling for President Trump to revoke his security clearance. Writing that it would be quote/unquote an honor. It is all, of course, in reaction to what happened to former CIA director John Brennan. His clearance taken away by the White House as we learned from the briefing this time yesterday. Jeremy Diamond is our White House reporter. And Jeremy, we're talking about retired Admiral William McRaven. What exactly did he say?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Brooke. Well, Admiral McRaven, who is pretty highly respected former senior military officer, who as you mentioned, did oversee the planning and the execution of the raid that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden. He has now put out a statement telling the President to revoke his security clearance, as well, after the President moved just yesterday to revoke the security clearance of former CIA director, John Brennan.

Let me just read you an excerpt of this really remarkable letter from Admiral McRaven. Admiral McRaven writes, like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became President, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage, and worst of all, divided us as a nation. If you think for a moment your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.

Now, Admiral McRaven is certainly not the first person from the national security world war really from members of both parties to speak out against the President's action yesterday to revoke John Brennan's security clearance. Of course, this followed John Brennan's pretty heated criticism of the President. Remember, after that meeting with Vladimir Putin, John Brennan called the President treasonous. But, you know, it's been pretty resoundingly the opinion in Washington that political opposition to a President is by no means a ground for removing security clearances. There are many other officials, Republican-appointed official who is criticize President Obama after they left office, and they certainly did not see their security clearances revoked.

[15:45:00] I reached out to the White House for comment on Admiral McRaven's letter, we have not heard back. But keep in mind, Brooke, the President is still considering revoking the security clearance of nearly a dozen other former officials who have also criticized him. And again, that is the common link, is officials who have criticized him or who have been targets of the President's own criticism -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jeremy, thank you.

Coming up next, much more on the life, the legacy, Aretha Franklin. We're live at the Apollo Theater, as so many people are coming by and paying their own respects.


FRANKLIN, SINGING "SAY A LITTLE PRAYER FOR YOU": Say a little prayer for you

The moment I wake up Before I put on my makeup (makeup) I say a little (prayer for you) Oh, yes, I do And while I'm combing my hair now And wondering what dress I going to wear now (wear now) I say a little (prayer for you)

(Forever) Forever (and ever) yeah (You'll stay in my heart and I will love you) (Forever) Forever (and ever) ever (We never will part, oh, how I love you) (Together) Together (together) together (That's how it must be to live without you) (Would only mean heartbreak for me)




ARETHA FRANKIN, PERFORMING "JUMPING JACK FLASH": I was born in a cross-fire hurricane

And I howled at the morning driving rain But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas But it's all right. I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash It's a gas, gas, gas


BALDWIN: Along with Aretha Franklin there, you saw Keith Richards, Randy Jackson, Whoopee Goldberg, just a perfect example of how the "Queen of Soul's" voice span the decades. Harlem's famed Apollo theater today tweeting out a vintage marquee photo. It read, rest in peace to our "Queen of Soul", Apollo legend. So, let's go straight to the Apollo and are CNN national correspondent, Brynn Gingras is there. Are people coming by? What are they saying?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes. And underneath the marquis, Brooke, is her plaque, and surrounding that are roses, pictures of Aretha Franklin and tons of people just coming to visit. I want to introduce you to Moe and his wife, Cheryl Ratcleff. There from California who were actually in New York for vacation. They had to make a stop at the Apollo. Tell me what it was like to kind of see that plaque and the remembrance of Aretha Franklin.

MOE RATCLEFF, ARETHA FRANKLIN FAN: It's very breath taking and unexpected. I always remember Aretha Franklin from the song "Respect", "The House that Jack Built", "When a Man Loves a Woman" and many, many more of her songs. She'll always be remembered, and I will always have a special place in my heart.

GINGRAS: Have you guys been singing her songs today? You know, I talked to people and it is like I try to get them to put into words what she meant, and they just start singing her songs. Has that been the case for you guys?

RATCLEFF: Oh, yes. I've been singing -- when I heard about it and my heart just dropped to the ground. She is a better place now. I hate to hear she was suffering the way she was doing. But you know, she's in a better place now. She is up in heaven and she's looking down on us telling everybody to stay strong and carry on.

GINGRAS: absolutely, thanks so much for joining us guys. Yes, Brooke, one person put it to me that she is the "Queen of Soul", her body may not be here but her soul lives on. Of course, she's performed here more than a dozen times ever since the 60s. Last time in 2010 sold out crowds every time. A lot of people are remembering the "Queen of Soul" today.

BALDWIN: I have a feeling all weekend a lot of folks are going to world by the Apollo and pay their respects. Brynn, thank you so much.

And we do have breaking news here, just turning the page onto the story. The Vatican is now finally responding to this incredibly disturbing report out of Pennsylvania. More than 300 priests accused of abusing more than 1,000 children over the course of several decades. So, let's go to Barbie Nadeau, who is in Rome for us. And Barbie we've been waiting for the Vatican to weigh in. What are they saying?

BARBIE NADEAU, ROME BUREAU CHEF, THE DAILY BEAST(via phone): Well, you know, we've been waiting for this statement, as you suggest, for several days now pushing the Vatican pressuring them to say something. And their statement does use some language we have never heard before on this matter. They call the acts criminal. And all read from it.

The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible.

For many, many years now, the Vatican has referred to these crimes as sins and omissions. Which of course, are subject to forgiveness in the eyes of the Catholic Church. But what we're talking about here is a new language and I think that's going to be especially important for those victims and survivors especially in Pennsylvania who really did make a difference I think in calling the world's attention to these abuses -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Barbie, thank you so much. Incredibly significant, finally the weighing in from the Vatican with the word criminal. Hopefully that will help some of these survivors just the littlest bit hearing that official word from Rome. Quick break and we'll be right back.


BALDWIN: I want to take a moment now for a segment we call "Mighty Millennials". It highlights a new generation of political candidates. So, in Minnesota this week Ilhan Omar won the Democratic nomination for an open U.S. House seat. And if the 35-year-old wins in November she will join an unopposed Michigan candidate as the first Muslim woman in Congress. She would also be the first African refugee.


ILHAN OMAR, (D) MINNESOTA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We believe that together we can organize around the politics of hope and make sure that not only that we have the America we believe it is, but the America we deserve.


BALDWIN: There are three more primary dates for federal office before the 2018 midterms right there on your screen.

That's it for me. Of course, we will continue to celebrate the life and legacy of the legendary "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin throughout the rest of the day here on CNN. Thank you for being with me these last two hours. I'm Brooke Baldwin. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.