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John Brennan's Security Clearance Revoked; Husband in Custody for Family's Death but not Charged; China Likely Training Pilots to Strike U.S.; Former U.N. Secretary-General Dead at Age 80; Manafort Trial; Rate of Pregnant Women Addicted to Opioids Quadruples. Aired 11a-12n ET
Aired August 18, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:18] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin with fresh attacks today by President Trump against the nation's former CIA director John Brennan. Tweeting this morning, "Has anyone looked at the mistakes that John Brennan made while serving as CIA director? He will go down as easily the worst in history. And since getting out he has become nothing less than a loudmouth partisan political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country."
This week the President revoked John Brennan's security clearance calling him a hack who can't be trusted to keep secrets. The move prompted more than 70 intelligence officials, including top former CIA directors, to come together with a statement warning the President the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts.
Brennan himself firing back at the President calling him power hungry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: He is drunk on power. He really is. And I think he is abusing the powers of that office. I think right now, this country is in a crisis in terms of what Mr. Trump has done and is liable to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And Trump may not be stopping with Brennan. He has ordered the White House to draft more clearance cancellations of current and former officials, all of whom have been publicly critical of the President or tied to the Russia investigation in some way.
CNN's Sarah Westwood is in New Jersey where the President is staying this weekend. Sarah -- how else is the White House -- is the President responding? SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well Fred -- President
Trump is continuing to attack the former CIA director whose security clearance he stripped earlier this week in an attempt to retaliate against John Brennan for his criticism of the White House. Trump going after Brennan's tenure as CIA director, describing him as a political hack.
And it's true that certainly there were some controversies in Brennan's tenure as CIA director and there were times when both Democrats and Republicans did criticize Brennan.
But former senior intelligence officials, dozens of them are now banding together to defend Brennan, arguing that President Trump has created a potentially dangerous precedent by stripping a former government official of his security clearance over political commentary that the President doesn't like.
Sixty ex-CIA officials came together to issue a strong warning to the President writing, "All of us believe it is critical to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure. But we believe equally strongly that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so. The country will be weakened if there's a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views."
Now certainly all of these former senior intelligence officials are not necessarily saying they agree with how Brennan has gone about attacking the President but they certainly agree with Brennan's right to do so.
Meanwhile President Trump is considering stripping security clearances from nine additional individuals who are related to the Russia investigation in various ways.
Senator Mark Warner who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee is warning that he will take action if President Trump follows through with this plan.
And "The Washington Post is reporting that the papers have already been drawn up to strip the security clearances from those nine officials. But White House aides are waiting for a time when it might be convenient for them to roll out the revocations of those security clearances, perhaps to distract from future negative headlines -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Sarah Westwood -- thanks so much. >
All right. Let's talk more about this. With me right now is Bob Baer, a CNN intelligence and security analyst; and CNN national security analyst Juliette Khayyem. Good to see you both.
All right. So we saw this powerful statement from dozens of former CIA officials condemning the President's decision to revoke Brennan's security clearance.
So Bob -- as a former CIA case officer, how is this move likely playing with current rank and file members within the CIA?
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Not well. I've looked at those 60 names and there are a lot of very good officers, non-partisan statement. They are offended by this. It's an attempt at intimidation by the President against national security establishment to shut them up.
And frankly, pulling Brennan's clearance, there's no justification for it. Everybody in the CIA knows why you get one pulled -- it's unauthorized disclosure, contact with foreign governments, statements that have been made on television that betray secrets. Brennan did none of that.
[11:04:59] So this was political retaliation. And I think the President is scared of Brennan because of what Brennan knows about the Russian investigation. And he's trying to shut this thing down, period.
WHITFIELD: And Juliette -- you know, Brennan, you know, described this pulling of security clearance, you know, as an egregious act. He described the President as being drunk on power.
In your view, how perilous does this make this situation for the intelligence community, that the President would do this? And threaten to do it more.
JULIETTE KHAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. So I think before the response and pushback by the senior leaders -- formers as we call them at the Defense and Intelligence Agency, you might have thought, well, this is really bad.
But this pushback that you are seeing, right from, you know, people like Bill Gates, who really don't get into the, you know, sort of political scrum, as well as the former agents, I think suggests that the President sort of, you know, did something without thinking through the consequences, which we have seen before.
I have to say, you can't look at what the President did to John Brennan outside the context of the Omarosa tapes, right. I mean in other words, the press release that was sent out about Brennan was dated a month ago. I mean this is being used to simply distract from a lot of bad media about the White House.
And the fact that Sarah Sanders and others are the ones sort of in charge of this, as we now know in terms of the reporting, in terms of when they're going to release, you know, future security clearance withholdings, suggests this is all political.
And I think -- I think the intelligence community will survive this. But I think it shows how desperate Donald Trump, Sarah Sanders and others are right now in terms of what the narrative means for the White House.
WHITFIELD: So then Bob, the flip side to that, did Brennan at any juncture in your view cross the line? Did he go too far, whether it be talking about, you know, Russian collusion or otherwise, knowing that he would still be used as a consultant, you know, with the intelligence community?
BAER: Well, I think it's what John Brennan knows. A lot of the intelligence we're seeing that's appeared in the press is just the tip of the iceberg. He knows a lot more. There's a lot more from the National Security Agency that would back this stuff up and that's what scares the President.
But I'd like to add --
WHITFIELD: Is that where he potentially went too far, perhaps revealed too much given he does know but there would be classified information that he would be entrusted with to not share publicly?
BAER: Well, you know, he said that the collusion charges are -- probably will stand. And he said it's hogwash that there was no collusion. But that's the closest he came. But he didn't cross any lines of disclosure on secrets.
I watched his statements very carefully. He said nothing that I would consider is a secret.
But let me add one thing. Just going after Bruce Ohr at the Department of Justice is totally egregious because that's a warning to justice that if you come after me, I'm going to pull your security clearances.
They are about ready to destroy Bruce Ohr's career and he said nothing at all. And that's intimidation of the Department of Justice. And I think that's much worse than Brennan.
WHITFIELD: And the President went very far, certainly making it political with Ohr by bringing in his wife, you know, who works for Fusion GPS. And the President was very, you know, very sharp in his criticism to both of them.
Let's take a listen to the President, to the White House, while they have had contradictory reasons as to why they did revoke Brennan's clearance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I say it, I say it again -- that whole situation is a rigged witch hunt. It's a totally rigged deal.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And then we also have that sound of the President, you know, pointing out, you know, Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie Ohr and why, you know, they are on the wrong side of things.
Listen to the President here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I will be taking it away very quickly. I think that Bruce Ohr is a disgrace with his wife Nellie. For him to be in the Justice Department and to be doing what he did, that is a disgrace. That's disqualifying for Mueller.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. that's the President's sentiment that they are on the wrong side of things -- Bob. How much did the President reveal in all of that to you?
BAER: There's not a scintilla evidence that Bruce Ohr gave his wife any classified information, any advice or the rest of it. There's no e-mails, nothing.
A lot of officials in Washington have spouses who work in jobs that may be a conflict of interest but the government looks into that. Security officers look into it and they find out if there's any sort of passing of information.
[11:10:07] There's been no accusations against Bruce Ohr. In fact, he didn't work on the investigation at all. You know, going after this man is a pure act -- vindictive act. I don't see it any other way. And the rank and file at the Department of Justice feel the same way.
WHITFIELD: So Juliette -- does the President reveal in any way from all that he just said overreach?
KHAYYEM: Oh, absolutely. Look, I mean we're searching for a reason for what he did. He is telling us, he doesn't like Brennan. He said it in a tweet today. He is now going back to Brennan's tenure at the CIA as if that's a justification for rescinding the security clearance.
They have said -- sometimes I think it's hard for us to take what they say literally because you can't believe they're actually saying it. But they have said that they don't like what Brennan has been saying about the President publicly -- period.
There's no national security need. There's no classified -- there's no evidence of classified information disclosure. Brennan was on the far side of, you know, these formers in the sense that he was much more aggressive, his language could be jaw-dropping -- I admit that.
I knew Brennan. To see that language from him was, I think, was surprising but not -- but I think reflected more what he believed to be the importance of calling out what was going on with this administration, right. I mean it was -- it reflected John Brennan's change in terms of what was going on.
And I think going after Ohr and his wife, I mean this -- we saw this with McCabe as well. Donald Trump sees wives as appendages of what their husbands are doing. So he went after McCabe's wife because she had run for office once.
As Bob was saying, my husband had been in the classified world as well. You learn immediately that pillow talk is the thing that you do not do. There's lots of couples out there that do not disclose what they are working on. And it's just a reach by Trump at this stage to denigrate a man because his wife actually has a successful career. We have seen it before.
WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now. Thanks to both of you. Juliette Khayyem, Bob Baer -- appreciate it.
KHAYYEM: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right.
Still ahead, an alarming report from the Pentagon claiming China is likely training pilots to strike U.S. targets. That same report detailing the country's efforts to upgrade its military might, even in space. What's the message behind these power moves?
Plus, a horrifying discovery in Colorado -- the bodies of a pregnant woman and her two daughters found days after they disappeared from their home. And the person in custody is the father and husband seen on video begging for their safe return.
[11:12:39] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: Welcome back.
New details about the heartbreaking deaths of a pregnant mother and her two young daughters. Court documents suggest some of the victims may have been strangled and the bodies of the four and three-year-old were found in an oil well.
Their father, Chris Watts, has been arrested but not formally charged in the death of his wife, Shanann, and the two daughters. The family shared their life on social media and they appear smiling and laughing, the girls gushing over their dad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daddy is a hero. He helps me grow up strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Kaylee Hartung is following the investigation for us. It's heartbreaking -- Kaylee. What is the latest?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred -- authorities have shared very few details to this point in the investigation. But new court filings from last night by Chris Watts' defense team suggest that strangulation could have been the cause for the death of some of these victims. Now this court filing has requested that the court allow DNA samples to be taken from the neck and the hands of the two little girls. They are also requesting DNA samples be taken from the hands and underneath the fingernails of Shanann.
The defense, not giving any indication as to why they would make this request. It's unclear if it will be allowed or if that was already done in the course of the autopsy. That autopsy complete but again, authorities not sharing many details and they have not released that cause of death to us at this point -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: What about a motive? Because people have been looking at these videos posted on Facebook, pictures of the family that seemed, you know, so happy; would speak glowingly, particularly of the dad, the husband.
HARTUNG: There are so many unanswered questions here -- Fred but undoubtedly "why" is the biggest one, the most difficult one to answer. Again, authorities sharing very little information to this point and one of those reasons is because the judge has sealed the arrest affidavit.
That document could shine more light on a possible motive but we don't expect that to be unsealed until we see Chris Watts again in court, which will happen Tuesday.
Fred -- I just want to show you this scene behind me very quickly. Last night a candlelight vigil where this community came together to mourn the loss of life and also to support one another.
As you see this show of support for this family, the tragic irony among many points of that is that today was supposed to be a celebration of life for this family. Today, a gender reveal party was planned for Shanann -- as you mentioned, 15 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.
WHITFIELD: All right. Kaylee Hartung -- thanks so much.
Still ahead -- shocking claims of China's efforts to assert its military dominance. A new Pentagon report says the country is likely training to strike U.S. targets and is working to develop its nuclear capabilities. Is the country vying to replace the U.S. as a world superpower?
[11:19:55] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right. Alarm bells are ringing over military moves in China. A new report from the Pentagon warns that China is actively developing its fleet of long-range bombers and is likely training its pilots to strike the U.S. and its allies.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): China is aiming to boost its nuclear weapons capabilities through its long- range bombers. The Chinese military likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets according to the latest Pentagon report.
[11:25:00] One of the CIA's leading experts on China says China is trying to send a message.
MIKE COLLINS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CIA EAST ASIA MISSION CENTER: The Chinese do not want conflict. They do not want war. They do not want conflagration. But at the end of the day they want every country around the world, when it is deciding its interests, its decisions on policy issues, to first and foremost side with China not the United States.
STARR: China's goal?
COLLINS: The Chinese fundamentally seek to replace the United States as the leading power in the world.
STARR: President Xi making clear Chinese military power is to be reckoned with.
The Chinese have some military advantages. Vice President Mike Pence revealing a U.S. military shortfall.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hypersonic missiles designed to fly up to five miles per second at such low altitudes that they could potentially evade detection by our missile defense radar. In fact, China claimed to have made its first successful test of a hypersonic vehicle.
STARR: And a key Chinese event.
PENCE: China launched a missile that tracked and destroyed one of its own satellites -- a highly provocative demonstration of China's growing capability to militarize space.
STARR: But it is here in the South China Sea in a well-known feud that the U.S. already finds itself facing off against China -- man- made islands now with air strips and radar towers, islands capable of housing troops and weapons.
It was clear when CNN's Ivan Watson joined a U.S. Navy patrol aircraft that Chinese forces warned the Americans were not welcome. The U.S. crew responded with a carefully crafted message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: United States Naval aircraft conducting lawful military activity beyond the national airspace of any coastal states and exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law.
WHITFIELD: Thanks to Barbara Starr.
Joining me right now, Max Baucus -- he is the former U.S. ambassador to China. Mr. Ambassador -- good to see you. MAX BAUCUS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: Yes.
WHITFIELD: So help us through this report. You know, the Pentagon saying China's air force has been, quote, "reassigned a nuclear mission". And it is quote, "likely training its pilots for missions against the U.S."
So what's your interpretation of that?
BAUCUS: Well, we should not be surprised. China's military power has been growing dramatically over the years because China wants strong military capabilities it can put together combined with its economic power, combined with the size of the country to project power certainly in Asia and maybe even other parts of the world. So this should not be a surprise.
WHITFIELD: So China responded today to this report saying "The U.S. report ignores the facts and that the U.S. should abandon its, quote, 'cold war mentality'." What do you make of that statement?
BAUCUS: This is typical Chinese rhetoric. When I was ambassador, I constantly reminded the Chinese because China is growing at such a rapid rate, population four times of the U.S., military spending rising so quickly that they had an obligation to tell us what their intentions are with respect to the world and show us what their intentions are.
Their actions in the South China Sea are actions which are not good. And their economically with the 2025 program is not good. So we've got a huge challenge ahead of us. And the answer, I think, is very simple at least in concept and that's to engage China to show up -- 80 percent of life is showing up.
We must be involved much more diplomatically, economically as well as militarily. Our military budget increases -- it's helpful. But we have to be in Asia economically with something called the Trans- Pacific Partnership which we should try to put back together again. If we engage then China will not be able to bully us.
WHITFIELD: And then finally, President Trump, you know, tweeting this morning, "All the fools that are so focused on looking only at Russia should start also looking in another direction -- China." Do you think he is referring to something other than this latest report?
BAUCUS: Frankly, Russia is of great concern. From my perspective China should be of an even greater concern because China is so much larger. Their vision is so long-term. As sure as Xi Jinping is the president, that there will be other Chinese leaders with the same vision, close to the same vision at Xi because China feels that their rightful place in history has to be restored after thousands of years of being the center of civilization.
Compared with Russia -- Russia is only strong now I think because of Putin. When Putin leaves, Russia is not going to be near the force it is today. But when Xi Jinping leaves, China is still going to be there and it's going to be a major concern. WHITFIELD: Mr. Ambassador Max Baucus -- thanks so much for your time.
BAUCUS: You bet.
[11:29:59] Next, an advocate of human rights across the globe has died. Now, many world leaders, including U.S. Presidents remembering the life of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
WHITFIELD: Tributes and condolences are pouring in following the death of former U.N. Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan. He was 80 years old.
[11:34:54] His foundation says Annan died after a short illness. His wife and children were by his side in his final days. Annan is being remembered as a man of courage, a friend of thousands and a leader for millions.
CNN's senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth looks back at Annan's life and legacy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I Kofi Annan --
KOFI ANNAN, FORMER UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: I, Kofi Annan --
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General in United Nations history.
ANNAN: Good morning. As you know, this is my first day. It's like first day in school.
ROTH: Annan received quite an education serving ten years at the helm of the United Nations. There were personal highs and lows -- from winning the Nobel Peace Prize to failing his fight to stop the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Born in Ghana, Annan's university schooling included the big chill of Minnesota at Macalester College. Kofi Annan spent most of his adult life with the U.N.
ANNAN: Ok. Now we go to work.
ROTH: The man who many simply called Kofi rose to the top after over half a century. Staffers recalled his ability to lead and inspire. Annan did manage to avoid potential career-ending moments while serving in the Department of Peacekeeping.
In 1994, the U.N. Security Council and others including Annan were accused by the U.N. field commander in Rwanda of ignoring his warnings. An estimated 800,000 people died as the world was reluctant to send troops in. ANNAN: I believed at that time that I was doing my best. But I
realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done.
ROTH: The next year thousands of Muslims were massacred in Srebrenica as Bosnian Serbs overran a U.N. safe zone. Annan would later say Rwanda and Srebrenica would shape his global thinking.
The Secretary-General at the time, Boutros Boutros-Ghali would take the heat. U.S. ambassador Madeleine Albright would block him for a second term as Secretary-General. Washington's candidate -- Kofi Annan.
ANNAN: I didn't have any such dreams. It had never happened that somebody from the system was elected Secretary-General.
ROTH: Annan's first term was highly-rated. He championed human rights and urged the U.N. to protect civilians if their own governments turned on them. But it was Annan whose charm and style elevated him to international rock star status. The man and the organization accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, months after 9/11.
ANNAN: We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire.
ROTH: Reporter: it would not be a smooth second term for Annan. Friends of Annan reported he appeared depressed and distant, unable to stop the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He later called the assault illegal.
ANNAN: I think the worst moment, of course, was the Iraq war which as an organization we couldn't stop. And I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it.
ROTH: A personal nightmare when a suicide truck bomb killed U.N. Iraq envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and many U.N. personnel sent to Baghdad by Annan.
ANNAN: So you can imagine shock with the brutal death of my friends and colleagues happened.
ROTH: Iraq brought more bad news for Annan. The so-called oil for food U.N. agreement with Iraq led to corruption. A report later cleared Annan, but his son Kojo was linked to the scandal. The reserved Annan erupted when a reporter pressed him about a mysterious Mercedes tied to his son.
ANNAN: You have been behaving like a grown school boy in this room for many, many months and year. You're an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession.
ROTH: A warmer engagement on his final day when Annan drew a standing ovation in the General Assembly. He never stopped working for the goals of the global organization Annan spent a lifetime -- a life and career fuelled by tragedies and triumphs.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: Richard Roth -- thank you so much.
Former President Barack Obama released a statement saying, "Kofi Annan was a diplomat and humanitarian who embodied the mission of the United Nations like few others. His integrity, persistence, optimism and sense of our common humanity always informed his outreach to the community of nations. Long after he had broken barriers, Kofi never stopped his pursuit of a better world and made time to motivate and inspire the next generation of leaders. Michelle and I offer our condolences to his family and many loved ones."
And former President George W. Bush also releasing a statement saying, "Laura and I send our sympathies to the Nane and the Annan family on the passing of Kofi Annan. Kofi was a gentleman and a tireless leader of the United Nations. His voice of experience will be missed around the world."
[11:39:54] And U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley releasing this statement saying "Kofi Annan devoted his life to making the world a more peaceful place through his compassion and dedication to service. He worked tirelessly to unite us and never stopped fighting for the dignity of every person. We join the entire United Nations and diplomatic community in celebrating his life and lifting the Annan family up in love and prayers.
Next, Paul Manafort's legal team now finding renewed confidence as the jury heads into a third day of deliberations Monday; and the President publicly weighing in on the trial. We will discuss next.
[11:45:02] WHITFIELD: Jurors in the Paul Manafort trial will begin a third day of deliberations Monday morning. President Trump's former campaign chairman is charged with 18 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts. Jurors have asked the judge four questions, including a request to define reasonable doubt. Manafort's attorney is suggesting that longer deliberations favor his client.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT ATTORNEY: They are happy to continue deliberating on Monday. We're happy to see that they're doing so. And everyone have a great weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does a long deliberation work in your favor?
DOWNING: I think it does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right.
With me now is Shan Wu. He is a CNN legal analyst, a former federal prosecutor and also the former lawyer for Rick Gates; and Lynn Sweet, the Washington bureau chief for "The Chicago Sun Times". Good to see both of you. All right. So Shan -- in your view, do prolonged deliberations in a case like Manafort's, does that say that it's favorable to the defense?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's always a little bit of speculation. But in this case, I would disagree with Kevin. I was concerned for the prosecution when that note came out so fast asking about reasonable doubt. But now the jury seems to have settled down. And they are deliberating. And as a prosecutor, when prosecuted, I liked that.
I like the jury taking its time, working through the case. So I don't personally think that a longer deliberation is good news for the defense.
WHITFIELD: Does it really speak to perhaps how complicated this case might be? I mean we are talking about 18 counts and involving details that perhaps, you know, most laymen are not familiar with -- Shan.
WU: It does. And I think actually the jury was very impressive. Their first questions out of the box were extremely focused and went right to the heart of one of the harder issues about the disclosure requirements and registration requirements for the foreign bank accounts.
So one possibility is that sometimes a jury wants to get the low hanging fruit out of the way; if they had some questions about that, they want to know about the law and reasonable doubt so they can analyze the rest of the evidence. And that seems to be what they are settling down to do now.
WHITFIELD: And then Lynn -- you know, the President actually weighed in on this Manafort trial yesterday. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't talk about that now. I don't talk about that now. I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad. When you look at what's going on there, I think it's a very sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time. But you know what? He happens to be a very good person. And I think it's very sad what they have done to Paul Manafort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. So two things there -- Lynn. Number one -- very unusual for a president, a sitting president to be commenting on an ongoing case, no less the jury and deliberation. And then, you know, number two, does the President's sentiment give a window into his allegiance to Paul Manafort?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, I will take the second one first, which is, yes, and he is signaling that he would be open to some kind of clemency. But it doesn't matter for the jury, of course, because they're not supposed to be watching any of it. And of course, President Trump says, I'm not going to comment and then he goes on to give maybe three or four interesting points about the case.
Can I just throw in one thing? I did cover the tail end of the Manafort case. Here is why I would read absolutely nothing in terms of the tea leaves into this question. The judge gave the jurors about 90 minutes of instructions on this case of which beyond a reasonable doubt was a portion of it. They don't have a written record of the instructions. And so, of course they would maybe need a refresher.
I don't know why they just didn't get the written instructions that the judge gave them. But that is another reason why no one should be surprised if they have questions because they don't have the jury instructions written down for them. And they were sent a lot of exhibits that they will be looking at for the first time.
WHITFIELD: And than Shan -- how do you digest the fact that the sitting president is commenting on an ongoing case like this. And this case is an extension of investigation of the President's campaign?
WU: Truly a historic moment actually. I don't think that's ever happened before. From a legal analytical standpoint, does it rise to obstruction, what the President said? Probably not. Certainly very questionable that he would insert his views into it.
I would say that for Kevin Downing, the defense attorney, this is a moment that enshrines him in the defense counsel hall of fame. No other criminal defense lawyer has ever gotten to say that -- that the President supports my client on trial. So it's really amazing.
And there's some questions about should he have done that. And I'd say, you know, he can't look a gift horse in the mouth.
[11:49:58] Judge Ellis chose not to impose a gag order. The judge we were in front of in D.C. did impose a gag order. So I think, you know, he's free to comment.
WHITFIELD: Ok. Robert Mueller's team, you know, wants George Papadopoulos -- he's a former adviser to Trump's 2016 campaign -- to spend six months in jail, saying he impeded the investigation when he lied to them about his contact with the professor in London. Is the judge likely to impose a sentence like that or is this just a warning shot -- Shan?
WU: I think he's likely to follow that recommendation. Frankly, it's still quite a sweetheart deal for Papadopoulos even though he may have hoped not to have any jail time whatsoever. So I think the judge will probably follow that recommendation.
WHITFIELD: Lynn -- final word?
SWEET: Well, actually, what is so interesting in the government sentencing memo is how they go through how they went in and George Papadopoulos, who lives in Chicago with his wife, how he went in on the first interviews without a lawyer.
What's also interesting is that his wife had taken to TV shows lately in a plea either for clemency or go fund me for their legal costs. And the lawyers even went to the trouble of slapping her down a bit and saying she said something that wasn't right. So, you know, I do agree with Shan -- you know, the guidelines range from zero to six months imprisonment. And so even though they -- the prosecutors did mention that that range is there, the judge has discretion.
WHITFIELD: And real quick before I let you go. So Shan -- really quick, why wouldn't a case like Manafort's -- why wouldn't the jury be sequestered particularly during deliberations given this is so highly publicized and given that there's so much at stake?
WU: Probably Judge Ellis felt that that was too great an imposition on the jury. Judges are very sensitive to the strain and interference in the jurors' lives. That's what he probably thought. There's also some feeling out there that when you sequester the jury, it places even greater pressure on them. But he's going to be second-guessed on this one.
WHITFIELD: All right. Hopefully they're following all those instructions, right? Not watching reports -- because that's usually what comes with an instruction over the weekend when you get to go home and then deliberate again on Monday. No reading of any material about the case, et cetera. We'll see.
All right. Shan Wu, Lynn Sweet -- thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
WU: Good to see you -- Fred.
SWEET: Thank you -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Next, a health crisis for an increasing number of pregnant women -- opioid addiction. A controversial program that helps women wean off opioids during pregnancy could actually cause them to more easily overdose. But how? Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains straight ahead.
[11:52:47] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: A growing crisis in the U.S. according to a new CDC report. More than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year. That's a 7 percent increase from the year before. Most of those deaths were opioid related. Another CDC report finds the number of addicted pregnant women is soaring.
CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has that.
RACHEL SOLOMON, OPIATE ADDICT IN EARLY RECOVERY: I have been addicted to opiates since I was 17. My grandmother gave me my first Percocet. I had a headache, and she told me that would help. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): If there
was a last refuge of people insulated from the opioid epidemic, it was pregnant women. But even they are no longer immune. For them, the risk of opioid addiction has quadrupled over the last 15 years.
(on camera): What do you think when you hear that?
SOLOMON: I believe it because I did it.
GUPTA (voice over): Rachel Solomon grew up here in eastern Tennessee, a part of the country hard hit by the opioid epidemic.
Two years ago she had a miscarriage, the doctors say due to her opioid addiction. So when Rachel found out she was pregnant again, she was terrified.
(on camera): How worried were you about the baby?
F1: I was very worried, but I just thought that my body was not going to be able to carry it.
GUPTA (voice over): It's hard to overstate the risks of being pregnant while addicted to opioids. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and the possibility a baby would essentially be born into a crisis of withdrawal known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, NAS.
This is tough to watch -- the uncontrollable crying, unstoppable tremors and this distinctive scream.
(on camera): They're essentially coming off of opioids I guess like an adult would, except these are babies that have just been born.
DR. CRAIG TOWERS: That's correct.
We're going to see how big the baby is so I can tell --
GUPTA (voice over): For Dr. Craig Towers, this was not acceptable. So he decided to challenge the status quo.
(on camera): Conventional wisdom has been if someone has a use disorder during pregnancy, don't try and detox. Wait until after they've delivered the baby. The thought was that would be safest, is that right?
TOWERS: That's correct. Our two systematic reviews now have shown that that's not the case.
GUPTA (voice over): Dr. Towers says he has now detoxed more than 600 women from opioids while they were pregnant. Not a single baby has died.
(on camera): What was it that made you convinced that maybe you could get through this time?
SOLOMON: He asked me just to trust him. And nobody's ever done that with me. You know, they've never cared like that. GUPTA (voice over): It's the same compassion Michaela Howard felt
when she detoxed during pregnancy. It wasn't easy, but look at how it turned out.
(on camera): How is J.C. doing?
MICHAELA HOWARD: She's good. She's a happy baby.
GUPTA (voice over): Yes. This is her beautiful baby girl, who is now three months old.
HOWARD: She was born with no withdrawal symptoms and she didn't go to the NICU.
[12:00:01] GUPTA (on camera): You're pretty proud I imagine that she's doing so well?
HOWARD: I'm very happy about that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're almost there.
TOWERS: Yes -- we're doing good.
GUPTA (voice over): Now just weeks away from her due date, Rachel is hoping for the same miracle --