Return to Transcripts main page


Pope Francis Breaks His Silence On Priest Sex Abuse Scandal; CNN Reality Check: Trump's Attacks On The Russia Investigation; Iran Foreign Minister: U.S. Addicted To Sanctions; Rate Of Pregnant Women Addicted To Opioids Quadruples. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 20, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:32:39] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are following the breaking news.

Pope Francis no longer silent nearly one week after a grand jury report detailed decades of sexual abuse on more than 1,000 children by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania. Extensive efforts to cover it all up.

CNN's Polo Sandoval live in Pittsburgh with more -- Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we had heard from the Vatican in the days following the release of those reports, but not from Pope Francis until today, as you point out.

The Holy Father now acknowledging with shame and repentance -- his own words -- that the Catholic Church failed to do enough and acted quick enough to acknowledge the pain and suffering that it had caused decades ago on so many young people.

Another portion of his letter that was just released today that stands out I can read for you directly here.

Pope Francis writing, "Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated."

That cover-up portion certainly is something that is going to stand out to people here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The reason why were are here this morning is because about a third of the clergy members that are listed in that very damaging and disturbing report were from this diocese, so that is why we have been attending masses here, speaking to members of the congregation.

And many people here say that these apologies from the Vatican to local church officials is simply not enough. They want a full admission from the Catholic Church of what they believe has been decades of covering up these kinds of atrocious acts.

And I should tell you that the Pope's message this morning certainly echoing what we have heard from church leaders here in Pittsburgh. The head of the diocese here, in the last few days Alisyn, has made very clear that there are many changes that are being instituted -- not just decades ago but also in the last several days.

Now, the question Alisyn is will those changes be enough? We hope to hear from some of those survivors of this clergy abuse later today here in Pittsburgh.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Please bring those to us when you have them, Polo. Thank you very much.

Joining us now is a survivor, Juan Carlos Cruz. He's a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest in Chile. He recently met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Juan Carlos, thank you so much for being back on NEW DAY.

Before we get to the Pope's response I just want to get your reaction to this grand jury report of what happened in Pennsylvania. I mean, the magnitude of the abuse that they found.

[07:35:07] Let me put it up on the screen for people.

One thousand identifiable victims. Three hundred predator priests who did -- you know, were just repeat offenders for years. This happened over 70 years in six of Pennsylvania's Catholic dioceses.

What did you think when you read of the enormity of this?


You know, it is heartbreaking. I can only -- you can't find the right words to say something when you hear of a horror like -- what survivors go through, what -- you know, because it's just so -- it's like a bullet that stays in your body and travels around and hurts you constantly.

I've had friends, as I told you last time, that have committed suicide because they just can't bear.

And the Pope says in his letter that the sexual abuse of anybody carries effects that are long-lasting wounds that damage people forever.

And so when you hear of something like what happened in Pennsylvania -- and I live in Philadelphia, I'm here in Chile now -- but it's horrific, Alisyn.


CRUZ: You just can't find the right words of what people suffer and go through.

CAMEROTA: Just -- and, Juan Carlos, just to give people a sense of again, the numbers here. I'll just put up this next graphic in terms of the predator priests.

Thirty-seven of them in Allentown, 20 in Greensburg, 45 priests in Harrisburg, 99 priests accused of this in Pittsburgh, 59 priests in Scranton.

I mean, the numbers are just so staggering of how this was allowed to happen seemingly --

CRUZ: They're staggering.

CAMEROTA: -- with impunity.

CRUZ: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And when you met with the Pope what did he tell you about this?

CRUZ: So, obviously, the Pennsylvania report had not been -- it wasn't out yet because we met in early May. I spent the week with him speaking. But clearly, things that you can see in this letter are things that we talked about.

I -- there's new language now from the Vatican which is important to consider. They talk about crimes, they talk about a culture of death, they talk about a culture of abuse and cover-up.

Those things were not talked about before. Before, they were omissions -- sins -- which is terrible to consider those things.

In Pope Francis' letter earlier in the month he talked -- he talks about going to local justice. You know, how bishops don't turn the perpetrators to local justice because they're not obligated to do so, and that is a horrible crime. And as you see, those numbers are absolutely staggering.

So, Alisyn, for me as a survivor, I -- and what's happening in Pennsylvania is just -- you'll see. It's 50 states. Things -- Pennsylvania is not a unique case.


CRUZ: It's all over the U.S., all over the world.

I'm here in Chile where the Cardinal Archbishop of the capital city of Santiago, tomorrow, is going to testify in front of the jury as a target witness of cover-up.


CRUZ: So it's all over the world.


CRUZ: It's horrific.

CAMEROTA: Well, Juan Carlos, I just want to end on this because this is something that the Pope just released in his letter and I found it so moving.

He says, "The victims' outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and, once again, showed us on which side he stands."

It sounds to me like the Pope heard you.

CRUZ: That's exactly what I personally talked about with him, first for three hours. Then with my two friends, we talked for two hours and through the week that I spent with him. Those were the exact words that he used.

So I am glad that he's coming out with this and I'm glad that he is speaking out and calling it like it is.

I also commend, for example, Rep. Mark Rozzi in Pennsylvania, who is working on a bill to end the statute of limitations and give a window even for survivors for two years. It's been tabled since April 2017 and Alisyn, the church is lobbying for the statute of limitations not to pass.

[07:40:14] I think that has to end. They have to lobby to help survivors, not to fight them.

CAMEROTA: Yes, understood.

Juan Carlos Cruz, thank you for all of your candor and for being willing to go public --

CRUZ: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: -- with your story. And, obviously, it has had an impact. Thank you.

CRUZ: And I want to thank you guys for putting a light where they want to put darkness. Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: We'll talk again -- John.

BERMAN: All right, the breaking news.

The president just came out with two new statements on the Russia investigation. He has tweeted more than 250 times over the last year or so about this.

How many of his claims are actually true? We'll get a "Reality Check."


BERMAN: All right, this just in. You will be shocked to know the president has new statements on Twitter this morning about the Russia investigation.

How many of his claims are true?

John Avlon here with a "Reality Check." I feel like that's the biggest set-up ever. JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And very temp (ph), like a moth to flame.

Hot off the presses, more Trump tweets about Russia. In total, more than 250. That's how many times President Trump has blasted the Russia investigation, according to a new count in "The New York Times."

[07:45:02] But, repetition doesn't change reality, folks, so let's count them down.

Trump attack number one. "The Russia investigation is a made-up story invented by Democrats to justify losing the 2016 election."

It is a line he has repeated at least 20 times, but this is false. Trump's own intelligence agencies all concur that the attack on our elections was the work of Russia.

Next, according to President Trump, Russia didn't even want to see him win the election. It's a line he's repeated at least seven times and it is false. No less than Vladimir Putin has said on at least two occasions that he wanted Trump to win.

Now, President Trump's said at least nine times that the Steele intelligence dossier started the Russia investigation. That's also false.

The Russia investigation started when Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos bragged to an Australian diplomat that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. The diplomat flagged this for his American counterparts and off we go.

Which brings us to one of the Trump team's favorite acts of deflection -- the idea that the only true collusion was between Hillary Clinton's team and the Russians. Trump's pushed this one out a whopping 22 times.

It's also known as the "I'm Rubber, You're Glue" defense. Trump's evidence is that Democrats ultimately paid for the Steele dossier and Steele got some of that information from Russian sources.

But while we know the Russian government offered the Trump campaign dirt on Clinton, there is no evidence that anyone in the Clinton campaign ever met with the Russians.

Speaking of meetings, Trump initially claimed that no campaign staffers ever came into contact with Russians. Then he said it wouldn't matter if they did anyway because they were so low-level.

Well, again, there's a problem with this one. Trump's national security adviser, attorney general, campaign manager, son-in-law, and son all met with Russian contacts before the election.

So, where does President Trump have it right? Good question.

He has made a lot of what former FBI special agent Peter Strzok said about him in personal text messages, and those text messages do show a deep concern about then-candidate Trump.

The president also says the House Intelligence Committee failed to find any collusion with Russia. That's true up to a point. The problem is it was a partisan, largely discredited report that Democrats protested. I think the far better gauge is the ongoing work of the bipartisan Senate Committee.

But, Trump's number-one most repeated assertion is that he never colluded with Russia. Now, obviously, Trump is a self-interested party here but the fact is we won't know this one conclusively until Robert Mueller completes his investigation. But the truth is the truth -- it's out there.

And that's you're "Reality Check."

BERMAN: Like in the next version, the Rudy Giuliani version of the x- files, the tagline is going to be "The Truth Is Not Out There."

AVLON: That's right. It's a very, very bleak-filled political (INAUDIBLE). That's right.

CAMEROTA: One episode -- "The Truth Is Not Out There."

BERMAN: John Avlon, thanks so much.


So, Iran's top diplomat is speaking out for the first time since the U.S. restored sanctions against his country last week.

And, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in Tehran with this CNN exclusive. What have you found out, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Interestingly enough, he seems to -- precludes the idea of possibly -- of direct talks with Donald Trump and that has been something sort of floated by both the White House and briefly, it appears, by himself at some point.

Whether or not that might be -- as an example, we've seen with Russia and North Korea. Put Donald Trump and Hassan Rouhani, his Iranian counterpart in a room and magically get negotiation back going.

Instead, Donald Trump remains committed to pulling out of the nuclear deal and reinstalling sanctions against Iran. They're taking a real hit on daily Iranian life here -- the economy.

Here is how Mohammed Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, described America's use of that global foreign policy tool that's so found of sanctions.


MOHAMMED JAVAD ZARIF, IRAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I believe there is a disease in the United States and that is the addiction to sanctions. Even during the Obama administration, the United States put more

emphasis on keeping the sanctions that it had not lifted rather than implementing its obligations on the sanctions that it lifted.

WALSH: If you felt the U.S. was addicted to sanctions though, why did you go ahead with the deal?

ZARIF: That may have been one of -- one of the mistakes. But the problem was that we felt that the United States had learned that at least as far as Iran is concerned sanctions do produce economic hardship but do not produce the political outcomes that they intended them to produce.

And I thought that the Americans had learned that lesson. Unfortunately, I was wrong.


WALSH: A real sense, I think, of a trust vacuum between Tehran and Washington. He even suggested that Trump's signature on a piece of paper wasn't necessarily worth it.

And top of that, too, where do we go forwards? Well, in the months ahead sanctions will continue to tighten. Zarif, himself, has accused the U.S. of trying for regime change.

[07:50:00] We're going to see the temperature, frankly, rise again and again here and the chance of talks in this current atmosphere quite unlikely. Iran simply hopes that the European allies of the U.S. will convince Donald Trump to get back with that nuclear deal.

Back to you, John.

BERMAN: All right, Nick Paton Walsh in Tehran. Nick, great to have you there. Thanks so much for being there.

The opioid crisis hits the most vulnerable. How the epidemic is affecting pregnant women and their babies.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is next.


CAMEROTA: All right, now we need to talk about the opioid crisis.

The CDC now says that more than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses just last year. That's a seven percent jump from the year before. Most of those deaths were opioid-related.

And now, there's a new part of the population in crisis -- pregnant women.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more.


RACHEL SOLOMON, OPIATE ADDICT IN EARLY RECOVERY: I have been addicted to opiates since I was 17.

[07:55:00] My grandmother gave me my first Percocet. I had a headache and she told me that would help.

DR. 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.

GUPTA (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, her doctors say due to her opioid addiction. So when Rachel found out she was pregnant again she was terrified.

GUPTA (on camera): How worried were you about the baby?

SOLOMON: 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.

GUPTA (on camera): They're essentially coming off of opioids I guess like an adult would, except these are babies that have just been born.


So we're going to see how big the baby is. I can tell --

GUPTA (voice-over): For Dr. Craig Towers this was not acceptable, so he decided to challenge the status quo.

GUPTA (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, but our two systemic 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. GUPTA (on camera): What was it that made you convince that maybe you could get through this?

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.

GUPTA (on camera): How's Jaycee (ph) doing?




GUPTA (voice-over): 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.

GUPTA (on camera): You're pretty proud, I imagine, that she -- Jaycee's doing so well.

HOWARD: I'm very happy about that.

GUPTA (voice-over): Now just weeks away from her due date, Rachel is hoping for the same miracle as Michaela.

GUPTA (on camera): You got names picked out?

HOWARD: Brantley.

GUPTA: What's it like to look at Brantley.

HOWARD: It's amazing. It's amazing.


CAMEROTA: Sanjay, this is fascinating. But listen, how likely are pregnant women to admit to a doctor that they're addicted or to even seek out this treatment?

GUPTA: Such an important question, Alisyn.

I mean, what you saw there -- let me just remind you again -- is a novel program. A direct reflection if you will of what's been happening in this country with opioids. So this is just unfolding right now.

In 23 states, Alisyn, it would be considered child abuse if you tested positive for opioid abuse while pregnant. In three states, you could be involuntarily committed.

Those are policies, obviously, Dr. Towers want to help change because women are far less likely to seek treatment in those situations.

But what he really wanted to show was that this was possible. That a detox and a complete detox while pregnant was possible with a healthy mom and healthy baby.

CAMEROTA: And the numbers -- his success story is really stunning.

So thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You got it.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for that reporting.

So, we're following a lot of news right now. Let's get right to it.


LISA MONACO, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: He is going to be a very, very valuable witness and you want somebody who's been in the room, and that's Don McGahn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just shows what a C-level legal team the president had at the beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you certainly can't make the argument that they are covering up anything.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. Truth isn't truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He calls John Dean a rat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is totally worried that McGahn is going to flip on him.

JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: He might be trying to give a warning. I'm, frankly, delighted to be on his enemy's list.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: I am going to do whatever I can to try to prevent these abuses. If it means going to court, I will do that.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I was very troubled by what I thought was his politicization of the Intelligence Community.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: John is sort of like a freight train. He's going to say what's on his mind.


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

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, August 20th, 8:00 in the east.

CAMEROTA: And our new day.

BERMAN: It's all of our new day. We can share in it, one and all.

President Trump is, once again, railing against the Russia probe. This, as a key question looms. What did White House counsel Don McGahn tell special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators?

CNN has learned that McGahn's attorney did not give the president's lawyers a full account --