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Priest Abuse Survivors Share Their Stories; Hundreds Gather At Vigil To Remember Mollie Tibbetts; Ohio State Suspends Urban Meyer For Three Games; CNN Reality Check: The Truth About The Trump Administration's Legal Issues. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 23, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: I think Nancy Pelosi did a brilliant strategy about coming in and saying everybody's corrupt -- everybody here -- and we're going to change it. I thought it was a brilliant tactical and strategy.

I don't think that works here.

I think most Americans who voted for Donald Trump, it's already baked in. They realize that listen, this is not the greatest guy in the world. He's a bit of a cad but I want him to shake up Washington.

And I -- and the economy is good. And when you look back at -- when you look at Bill Clinton, who went through an impeachment, the economy was better than and I think his party sustained a little better than they are.

I think that's what it's going to come down to. I do think that this starts to become a growing problem and the problem is the president himself -- he just can't stop talking about things he shouldn't be talking about.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mike Rogers, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

ROGERS: Thanks.

BERMAN: Alisyn --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the murder of Mollie Tibbetts has become a political talking point for the White House about illegal immigration. How does her family feel about that?


CAMEROTA: Hundreds of calls are flooding a Pennsylvania clergy abuse hotline after a grand jury report detailed a decades' long cover-up of sexual abuse involving more than 1,000 children abused by more than 300 predator priests in Pennsylvania.

[07:35:10] CNN's Erica Hill spoke with some of the abuse survivors and she's here with their stories. These are incredible stories, Erica. ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are.

I mean, that grand jury report -- one of the survivors said to me if you were to buy this you would have to buy it in an adult bookstore because of how graphic it is, and she's right.

I sat down with four survivors and the parent of another victim. They are angry, numb, and empowered by the support they've received and by the strength of each other, and they're also demanding action.


JOHN DELANEY, SURVIVOR OF SEXUAL ABUSE BY PENNSYLVANIA PRIEST: I would get high before I would have to serve mass and I could separate myself from what was about to happen to me.

And I was in charge of the altar boys. I got to make the schedule.

I would schedule myself so that others didn't have to take it. I did -- I did it so that other people wouldn't have to take it because I knew I was stronger and I knew I could disconnect.

SHARON TELL, SURVIVOR OF SEXUAL ABUSE BY PENNSYLVANIA PRIEST: My abuser used to say mass in our kitchen.

HILL: In your kitchen --

TELL: In our kitchen.

HILL: -- where you grew up?'

TELL: Yes, in our kitchen. I was abused for 20 years.

And you ask how I separated the two? I split. I had one of me that took -- handled the abuse and the other one was just myself.

HILL: Arthur, you're here to speak for your son who is no longer with us, but you can continue to give him a voice.

ARTHUR BASELICE, SON WAS VICTIM OF PENNSYLVANIA PRIEST SEXUAL ABUSE, DIED IN 2006: What kind of a parent would I be if I didn't continue my struggle and fight for my son?

What kind of a person -- a man -- any human being would even think about molesting a child, let alone somebody who claims to be a representative of God?

And these are the kind of the people that the Catholic Church wants to represent them in the community? Spiritual incest, soul murder, that's what I see.


BASELICE: All of them. VANSICKLE: Yes. All of these different abuses that we've gone through, they stay with us. We continually think about it and re- abuse our self in silence.

HILL: Why do you think this is such a problem in the Catholic Church? It's not just Pennsylvania.


HILL: It's not just the United States.

JULIANN BORTZ, SURVIVOR OF SEXUAL ABUSE BY PENNSYLVANIA PRIEST: I think it's gone on because it was allowed to go on. They knew -- these guys knew they were going to be covered for it. They knew they were going to be moved.

They did it because they could.

HILL: Is there anything that the Catholic Church could do to regain your trust?



BORTZ: Not today, not today.


HILL: Are any of you still -- do you still consider yourselves Catholics?

TELL: Oh, I'm Catholic.



BORTZ: I go straight to God.

BASELICE: Well, I'm not a -- well, I -- look, my grandparents were from Italy. I didn't have a choice.

BORTZ: It's in the DNA. Catholicism is in the DNA.

BASELICE: Right, it's all --

BORTZ: Catholicism is in the DNA for some of us.

DELANEY: The Jesus that I learned about in school would not turn his back on children.

BORTZ: Right.

DELANEY: Not once.

BORTZ: Everything they taught is a lie. I mean, it's -- there's no other word. There's no other word.

So am I Catholic? Yes, I'm Catholic. But do I believe anything? Not anymore.

HILL: Would anything feel like justice for any of you at this point?

DELANEY: My day in court.


DELANEY: My day in court when we have just what like everybody else is supposed to get.


DELANEY: And it's not about money. It's not about the money. I don't care about money. I never did this for money.

I want my day in court. I want justice.

BASELICE: There's only one remedy for this and that's to eliminate the SOL -- the statute of limitations -- and enact a survivor window. That's the only remedy.

Prayers are what got us into this mess.

HILL: If you had an audience with the Pope -- if you could sit down with him and speak to him face-to-face, what would you say?

TELL: I would say you need to clean up your act. You need to get your church in order. You need to take all of those priests that have been abusing children and put them in jail.

DELANEY: The way I feel now, prayers, penance, fasting -- they're all words. I need action.

BORTZ: They're not listening to us. He is not listening to us. So I think if Pope Francis wanted to do something maybe that would be a good place to start.

BASELICE: I would tell the Pope make Jesus proud of you and stop protecting the enablers and abusers.

VANSICKLE: And take these people out of ministry. Make an example out of them.

TELL: People ask if I will ever get past this. I say no. There are things, there are signs every single day that remind me of my abuse.

[07:40:05] So, no, this is until the end of my life. I will always think about this.

VANSICKLE: This family's growing and it's growing fast, and it's going to be an army. And we're not going to stop and we're going to keep adding to it. And we're going to -- we're going to force the church to change. BASELICE: And I know this, that you can't buy salvation. You've got to earn it.


HILL: Sharon Tell and Juliann Bortz suffered their abuse in the Allentown diocese which sent us this statement calling the abuse "devastating and tragic for victims and survivors," and also asking for their forgiveness.

The Dioceses of Erie and Philadelphia where the other abuse occurred of the folks that we spoke with did not respond to CNN's request for comment related to these specific cases.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. Listening to their stories is so powerful.

HILL: Yes.

CAMEROTA: I mean, I'm choked up listening to it -- how they've carried it for decades and how they'll never get past it, of course, and how they want justice.

HILL: Right, and it seems -- I mean, why is it so hard to give people justice? And they bring it back to that every time.

And there is so much to each one of their stories.

You look at Sharon Tell, for example. Her abuser, 20 years. He officiated her wedding, he baptized her three children.

CAMEROTA: That's how interwoven the church is in so many of these family stories that we've read about. I mean, it's just -- it was with them since childhood.

BERMAN: And how about that message from that one guy telling the Pope make Jesus proud of you. Telling the Pope.

HILL: He also said he wants to hear the Pope's confession.

BERMAN: It doesn't go away. The pain doesn't go away.

Erica Hill, that was terrific. Thanks so much.

HILL: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Hundreds gathering last night at a vigil to remember Mollie Tibbetts after authorities found a body believed to be that of the missing Iowa college student.

An undocumented immigrant has been charged with her murder.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher live in Iowa City with the very latest -- Dianne.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, Mollie Tibbetts should have been starting her second year here at the University of Iowa. We're told that she had so many credits -- she worked so hard that she actually would have been going in as a junior.

And the people who spoke last night at this memorial had nothing but those kind of things to say about Mollie. She was dedicated, she was passionate.

Now, in their future, they're going to be thinking about court dates and planning her funeral.

Now, the man accused of killing the 20-year-old student, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, appeared in court yesterday for that first time. He is charged in her murder -- $5 million bond.

And a lot of attention has been paid to his immigration status -- that he is undocumented.

He worked for four years at a dairy farm that's owned by a prominent Republican here in Iowa.

They said that the man that appeared in court under that name was not the man they hired. That he used a different name with an out-of- state I.D. and a Social Security card that had checked out on a Social Security verification program. They didn't use E-Verify.

But it's been picked up by politicians around the country, using it to forward the debate about immigration in this country, including the President of the United States who used it for political purposes, saying we should put more Republicans in office and build a wall.

Well, Mollie Tibbetts' friends said that that is the exact opposite of what their friend would want to be used for.


BRECK GOODMAN, FRIEND OF MOLLIE TIBBETTS: It makes me feel distraught because I don't want her death to become a political status. I don't want her death to be used as propaganda.

I don't want her death to be used for more prejudice and for more discrimination and I don't think she would want that either.


GALLAGHER: Now, Bahena Rivera will appear in court next on August 31st -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, Dianne. Thank you very much for that update.

Now to this story. Ohio State's head football coach and how he is handling the allegations of spousal abuse involving an assistant coach. Did the school go far enough in punishing him? There's a lot of outcry today.


[07:47:48] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) URBAN MEYER, HEAD FOOTBALL COACH, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: My heart and not my head. I fell short in pursuing full information because at each juncture I gave Zach Smith the benefit of the doubt.


CAMEROTA: All right. That was Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer apologizing to fans, but not the victim of spousal abuse.

Meyer is suspended for three games without pay for his response or lack thereof to the spousal abuse accusations involving his assistant coach in 2015. Meyer had denied knowing about those accusations until last month.

Joining us now is CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. She is a sports columnist for "USA Today." Christine, great to have you here.

You say this 3-game suspension for Urban Meyer has been, quote, "an embarrassment." Why's that?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Absolutely, Alisyn. And, in fact, when you read the report, which I had not read when I wrote that column obviously because everything was happening quickly last night.

When you read the report it's amazing that Urban Meyer, an employee of a state publicly-funded university, kept his job. It's just stunning.

The -- basically, it just sounds like he destroyed text messages. When a Freedom of Information request was being made by the student newspaper, all of the sudden all the text messages are gone except for the last year. He asked about that.

Obviously, knowledge about the behavior of his assistant coach who he kept on even though he knew from 2009 that Zach Smith, the assistant coach, was involved with alleged domestic violence. Nine police reports against this man and Urban Meyer kept him throughout.

And then -- you played a little bit of the press conference -- the fact that he could not mention the victim's name, Courtney Smith. He was asked specifically about her. Said he felt sorry for everyone involved.

Just an incredibly poor performance Alisyn by a man in 2018 who should know better and who should be very lucky today that he kept his job.

CAMEROTA: So let's play that moment. Let's play that moment that you and so many people felt was really insensitive in terms of his response to who he should apologize to.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What message do you have for Courtney Smith?

MEYER: Well, I have a message for everyone involved in this. I'm sorry that we're in this situation and -- we're just sorry we're in this situation.


[07:50:00] CAMEROTA: He's sorry they're in that situation? I mean, as though he has no culpability.

BRENNAN: Yes, he has a lot of culpability. He's the man in charge.

And this, by the way -- Urban Meyer is one of the most sanctimonious people in sports. He is someone who has said with college basketball coaches if they used an illegal second cell phone to make phone calls to recruits that they should be fired.

He has never, ever shied away Alisyn from giving his opinion about harsh punishment for others.

And then he accepted this leniency, really -- three games. He'll be back for the bulk of the Big Ten season. It will be as if nothing ever happened.

I think he's a lessened man, he's a weakened man.

Believe it or not, when you walk into the Ohio State practice facility there's the words honesty and respect for women. They might as well just paint over those today because certainly and Urban Meyer, they have no credibility anymore in those areas.

CAMEROTA: Well, we have to go but just one more point. He makes $5.28 million a year and it just tells you about the OSU football culture that they want to keep him on after everything that you have outlined.

Christine Brennan, thank you very much.

BRENNAN: Thank you. Thanks, Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right, so how do the Trump White House's legal troubles compare with other administrations? A CNN "Reality Check," next.


[07:55:18] CAMEROTA: OK. Time now for a CNN "Reality Check."

Legal issues are swirling around the Trump White House --

BERMAN: You don't say?

CAMEROTA: -- as you may have heard from us, but is that really any different from any other administration?

CNN senior political analyst John Avlon here with a "Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, yes, we could use one here.

Remember this, guys? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



AVLON: Oh, the drain the swamp -- one of the Trump campaign's chief rallying cries along with "lock her up." Well, 19 months into the Trump administration, things seem swampier than ever.

The president's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen both convicted.

His first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pled guilty to lying to the FBI. So did foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos whose bragging about dirt about Hillary Clinton kicked off the Russia investigation.

And, Manafort's deputy, Rick Gates.

But with that crew, Trump is on a path to being in a class of his own, potentially rivaling Richard Nixon. Let me explain.

Only one person in the Obama administration pled guilty to a crime and it was a misdemeanor. Then-CIA director David Petraeus, who pled guilty to removing classified information in connection with an affair.

George W. Bush -- eight members of his administration got caught up in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. In all, there were 21 criminal convictions and guilty pleas and 10 prison sentences, including Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby whose sentence was commuted by Bush and was later pardoned by President Trump.

Now, Bill Clinton's administration was definitely beset by self- inflicted scandal, but in terms of actual convictions there were only two.

Former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros pled guilty to a misdemeanor for lying to investigators about payments to a former mistress.

And the chief of staff in the Agriculture Department scooped up as part of the investigation into his boss, Mike Espy. But, Espy himself, was acquitted on all counts and is currently running for Senate in Mississippi.

Bush 41, only one conviction but it was the U.S. treasurer on charges of tax evasion, obstruction, and making false statements.

Now, it might surprise some of Reagan's acolytes that his administration saw a whopping 24 convictions and guilty pleas largely related to the Iran-Contra scandal. Now, some were saved from jail time thanks to pardons from Bush 41, who thought the investigation was politically motivated.

Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford each saw one term and no criminal convictions during their terms.

Which bring us to Richard Nixon and Watergate. Major players were convicted, including the White House chief of staff and the former attorney general who served as campaign chairman.

Not only that, but Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace for accepting bribes.

In all, dozens of Nixon administration and campaign aides were convicted and at least 10 major figures served jail time. Nixon, of course, was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.

All this is a reminder that every administration has its scandals and bad apples. But it also reveals that not every administration is the same when it comes to what Donald Trump once called, quote "a culture of government corruption."

And less than two years into his administration, Trump may be on pace equal or exceed the numbers set by his swampiest predecessor, Richard Nixon.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: He may get tired of winning, at least when it comes to that race, yes?

AVLON: Not a race you want to win.


CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for the reality check, John.

AVLON: Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right, a whole lot of news this morning. Some new statements by the president we have to dive into. Let's get to it.


TRUMP: It's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal.

LANNY DAVIS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: He wants to turn his life and tell the truth.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Failing to report a lawful contribution is the political equivalent of jaywalking.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: We've heard every story known to mankind from Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats are getting a compelling message now about a culture of corruption and that's a powerful weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let the Mueller investigation take its course. The second Manafort trial could be instructive.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Manafort case doesn't have anything to do with the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he starts saying that if you're associated with me and you're a criminal, you're OK, that is gangsterism.


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

BERMAN: All right, good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, August 23rd. It is 8:00 in the east.

The president lashing out at the criminal justice system, lavishing praise on convicted felons and fighting back in a new interview. This, after his former longtime attorney Michael Cohen said under oath that the president directed him to break the law to make hush money payments in order to help win the 2016 election.

Now, the president falsely claims there is no campaign finance crime. The real crime, the president says, is this.


TRUMP: It's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal. You get 10 years in jail, but if you say bad things about somebody -- in other words, make up stories if you don't know -- make up stories -- they just --