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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  July 28, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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happening now in the "newsroom," deadly wildfires ripping through northern california. >> we didn't think the fire was going to come here. >> you just can't believe this is happening in your community. >> tens of thousands fleeing their homes as firefighters race to get the flames under control. plus, stunning allegations from six women against the man in charge of cbs, less moonves. >> she alleges he backs her against a wall and says this has got to stay between us and she was very frightened. she then gets fired. >> sexual harassment, intimidation and a culture of covering it up. and the former archbishop of washington resigns over allegations of sexual abuse. cnn "newsroom" starts now. hello, again, thank you for
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being with me. i'm fredricka whitfield. president trump is spending the weekend at the golf resort in bed minu bedminister, new jersey. the news of a booming economy and the president fulfilling a campaign promise overshadowed by the latest bombshell in the russia investigation. the man who once said he would take a bullet for trump is now telling special counsel mueller the president knew about that infamous 2016 trump tower meeting ahead of time. this is something the president has repeatedly denied. and now the president is doubling down on that denial. cnn's white house reporter sarah westwood joins us live from new jersey near the president's golf club where he is spending the weekend. how is the president handling
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this? >> reporter: president trump is settling in for a weekend facing many unanswered questions about that 2016 trump tower meeting involving his son, donald trump, and a russian lawyer. trump refused to answer questions about those claims from his attorney michael cohen. that trump had advance knowledge of that meeting. rudy giuliani, trump's current attorney, is going after cohen in the wake of cnn's reporting about what cohen is prepared to testify. take a listen to just how dramatically giuliani's tone has shifted when it comes to trump's former fixer. >> he doesn't have any incriminating evidence about the president or himself. the man is an honest honorable lawyer. i expected something like this. he's been lying for years. >> reporter: now, the president is also going after michael cohen in another remarkable
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shift, claiming cohen is simply lying about the meeting in order to extricate himself from legal troubles. and of course all of this comes against the backdrop of an otherwise successful week for trump by any measure. the president made strides in trade talks with the european union. he attended the reopening of a steel mill that was saved by his tariffs. he touted the reliease of robus economic numbers on friday. but as has frequently been the case, fred, president trump's domestic agenda and his economic message were once again overshadowed by developments in the russia investigation. fred. >> all right, sarah westwood, thank you so much, in new jersey. so if michael cohen's claim is true it would demolish all the stories the president and his team have been telling about that meeting. and it could become a central piece in robert mueller's russia investigation. cnn's randi kaye has a look at how we got to this point.
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>> reporter: on june 3rd, in an e-mail, donald trump jr. is promised incriminating information about hillary clinton. his response, if it's what you say, i love it, especially later in the summer. six days later, meeting with the russian lawyer at trump tower. joining him, trump's campaign chairman at the time, manafort, and his son-in-law, jared kushner. whether "the new york times" broke the story, don jr. didn't initially disclose the attending purpose of the meeting. instead, he said the purpose was to discuss the adoption of russian children. but the very next day when "the times" broke the news that the president's son was promised damaging information about hillary clinton, don jr. issued a statement saying the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to russia were supporting mrs. clinton. he also said the lawyer changed the subject to adoption. two days after the story broke,
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white house press secretary sarah sanders denied the president had any prior knowledge of meeting. >> when did the president learn that meeting had taken place? >> i believe in the last couple of days is my understanding. >> reporter: the next day on fox news, don jr. told sean hannity his father was unaware of the meeting. >> did you tell your father anything about this? >> no. it was such a nothing -- there was nothing to tell. >> reporter: that narrative worked. until it didn't. the story would soon unravel. the morning after don jr.'s denials on fox news, the president's lawyer, jay sekulow, told cnn this -- >> the president was not aware of the meeting, did not attend the meeting, and was only made aware of the e-mails very recently by counsel. i wasn't involved in the statement drafting at all, nors what the president. >> reporter: a week later, a strong denial from the president himself, during this taped interview with "the new york times." >> did you know at the time?
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>> no, i didn't. >> but you didn't -- >> it must have been a very unimportant meeting because i never even heard about it. >> no one told you a word, nothing? >> it's a very unimportant -- sounded like a very unimportant -- >> reporter: if that's true and the president didn't know anything about it as he says, how does he explain what happened next? "the washington post" reported last july that the president himself decided to say the meeting was about adoption. and dictated the misleading statement don jr. gave "the new york times." the paper said the president dictated statement aboard air force one the day the story first broke on his way back to washington from the g-20 summit in germany. then in january, this year, the president's lawyer, sekulow, suddenly contradicted earlier claims he and the white house had made that the president was not involved in drafting his son's statement. in a letter to special counsel robert mueller, is beingseculowe
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president dictated on behalf of his son, don jr. after reports that president trump actually drafted his son's statement, sarah sanders went into damage control mode. because of her own earlier statements about the timing of the president's knowledge of the meeting. >> he certainly didn't dictate but, you know, he -- like i said, he weighed in, offered suggestion, like any father would do. >> reporter: still, the denials about whether the president knew continued. in september last year when don jr. was asked by the senate judiciary committee if his father knew about the trump tower meeting in advance, he told senators no, i wouldn't have wasted his time with it. and that might be true. and chances are robert mueller wants to find out. randi kaye, cnn, new york. >> all right, joining me right now, cnn intelligence and security analyst and former cia operative bob baer and cnn reporter erica ordin. good to see you both. erica, you first, how much legal
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trouble potentially could the trump team be in if indeed cohen's claims are true that trump knew about this meeting before it happened? >> sure, so i think there are two ways in which it could be legally problematic for him. the first pertains to coordination between the campaign, members of the campaign, potential coordination between them and foreign nationals who are trying to influence the election. the other is with regard to mueller's obstruction probe. if trump knew about the meeting and the intended purpose of meeting and subsequently drafted or helped draft statements that did not disclose the purpose of the meeting, mueller will be examining those with respect to what he actually knew. >> and then of course there's the issue of don trump jr., what he told, you know, lawmakers on the hill that, you know, his dad
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didn't know and -- whether he perjured himself on that potentially. cohen has represented trump for a long time. even, you know, it was cohen who said he'd take a bullet for trump. but now the president's own attorney, rudy giuliani, is calling cohen a liar after he had already called him a very honest lawyer. so let's talk about the discrediting of the white house's defense in all of this. >> well, fred, right now, cohen has a better record of telling the truth than the president or giuliani. i find it bizarre giuliani would say he's been lying for years. so why did the president keep him on retainer? that makes no sense at all to me. by the way, fred, we don't know really what happened in that meeting at trump tower because nobody's come clean clearly and the fbi i know, for one, is investigating the possibility that there was a russian intelligence officer at that meeting in addition to the lawyer. now, i don't know where they've gone with that, but that is one
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suspicion. so mueller is deep into this. at that meeting, other e-mails we have not seen. they've not all been leaked to the press. i think we're going to hear a lot more about this. if cohen, in fact, was at a meeting when trump approved this or, you know, coordinated this meeting with the russian lawyer, this sounds like collusion to me. >> yes, is it enough that it would be his word, michael cohen, or perhaps he'll say there were other people present, he's willing to share those names with bob mueller. is that i guess verifiable enough? >> well, i think, fred, that there may be con temp rainious notes we haven't seen. i would suspect that. maybe even taped conversations with the president related to this. we just don't know. we don't see what sort of evidence that cohen is going to come out in support of this. frankly, it's a bombshell. you know, this is going to dribble out for quite a while. but i think the president is
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definitely in legal jeopardy at this point. >> so erica, sources are telling cnn that cohen does not have an audio recording, you know, corroborating the claim that trump knew. we do know cohen has said there has been -- hae he has a lot of audio recordings but it's different to record your client or people in your office versus some belief that he would be recording something going on in trump tower. so how would mueller go about trying to verify that, you know, this really did go down without any kind of, you know, recording? >> so as you said, there doesn't seem to be -- it doesn't seem to be the case that there is an audio recording. as bob said, there could be con tem con tem plannious notes or phone records that mul core access that would not necessarily contain -- rather, timing around when don jr. first learned of and accepted the
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meeting, if there are phone records around that point where -- can show him calling -- >> there's this whole issue of a blocked caller. to what extent can mueller's team try to find out, you know, who that might be. >> i'm not totally sure. but i'm sure they will subpoena any phone records they can and then the other issue is whether anyone else is in that room and can testify to what cohen says or has indicated that he might be able to provide. >> okay. still just yet another chapter. all right, erica orden and bob baer, thank you so much. all right, straight ahead in the "newsroom," a frantic search is under way for three people missing after fast-moving wildfires ripped through northern california. 500 structures have burned to the ground and those flames are now threatening more homes. we'll take you there live.
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plus, the pope accepts the resignation of a powerful cardinal accused of sexual abuse. i'm joined by one of the attorneys who led the charge to have him removed coming up.
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another turn for the worse as a massive wildfire in california explodes in size over night. the car fire as it's called nearly doubled in size, scorching nearly 81,000 acres. it's one of several wildfires in the state and has already claimed the lives of at least two people. right now there's a desperate search for two young children and their great-grandmother who all went missing after their home was engulfed. out of control flames up and down the state, forcing tens of thousands to evacuate. >> again, we didn't think the fire was going to come here so
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we didn't really take things out. like, everybody else that was scrambling at the last minute to get out when we saw the fire on the ridge. i mean, once we saw it there, then we knew it was coming but it was too late then. >> cnn's paul vercammen is in redding, california, a site of one of the largest wildfires. paul, the devastation behind you, what is happening? >> reporter: well, they're actively trying to fight this fire, but they've gone to west and it has left behind an unbelievable swath of destruction in its wake. this is the car fire. you can see in this neighborhood in west redding everything basically taken to the ground. now, to give you a little more perspective on how this acreage doubled, you might say, how did it go from 40,000 to 80,000 overnight? well, we went off and took a little drive about ten miles from here. this is the road leading towards
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igo, a small town west of redding. and look around at the charred landscape. you can see where the car fire came roaring through here. burning most everything in its path. but firefighters successfully had some great moments where they safled structures. off in the distance, on top of that hill, everything else is burn bud that structure is still standing. and the landscape is just barren. look at the remnants of trees. they're just like burned up matchsticks now, pointing towards the sky. and as we speak, there are some deer that disappeared, they've gone up the hillside. but they're looking for anything green they can forage on. you can tell this fire came down here with so much momentum, fire whirls, firestorm everywhere. and this is a problem throughout the state of california right now. because there's several fires
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burning here. some 90 major fires throughout the united states. some 900,000 acres burned. it's a lot four firefighters to deal with. i'll just pan over here. there's the deer we were talking about. this is their forest and it's gone. and so they've come down the hill looking for something to forage on as we said, all part of the drama of this massive fire, 80,000 acres. the car fire which they said started by the mechanical failure of a vehicle. some reports are there was a tire blowout on a motor home, fred. >> it is devastating. i'm wondering, paul, is there any update on the search for this great-grandmother and these two kids? what can you tell us? >> all we know is the family was very, very, very adamant that they were missing. authorities have not put out any sort of a bulletin. so what we understand is there's
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an active search going on with any other relatives and at any evacuation centers. so we'll give you anything we know when that becomes available to us. >> all right, please do. paul vercammen, thank you so much. all right, more than 700 children remain in government custody despite the fact a deadline to reunify families separated at the border has come and gone. this as new allegations of mistreatment at shelters now comes to light. sometimes a day at the ballpark is more than just a day at the ballpark. stadium pa : all military members stand and be recognized. sometimes fans cheer for those who wear a different uniform. no matter where or when you served, t-mobile stands ready to serve you. that's why we're providing half off family lines to all military.
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deadline to reunite separating families and an estimated 700 children still remain in custody. officials say the families were ineligible for reunification for various reasons such as the parents declined, they were deported or they had criminal records. cnn correspondent kaylee hartung is in mcallen, texas. >> reporter: there's no straight answer as to what happens to these 711 kids still in the u.s. government's custody. one former i.c.e. official warning some of these children may never see their parents again. but it's our understanding there are essentially four options for these children moving forward. one is to remain in government custody. they're more than 100 shelters for children operated by health and human services. right now, the average length of stay for a child there is about 57 days but there's no limit as to how long they can stay.
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if a child has family member in the united states, they could be released into their custody or that of another sponsor. of course, there are criteria that those sponsors must meet in order to take the children into their custody. but if a child doesn't have family in the united states foster care could be the answer. of course even when a child is released from government custody, though, fred, they still have to make their case to a judge to stay in this country. if they can't do that, and i still say they're not guaranteed to have a lawyer in court with them if they can't make that case to a judge, they could be deported. there are so many legal complexities here, fred. and immigration attorneys say they have to figure this out as they go. >> there are reports that children are being mistreated at some of these shelters. what do we know? >> there are, and cnn has reported on unsanitary conditions. these children are forced to
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live in. the trauma they're undergoing as a result of separation from their families. but now police reports and call logs are detailing something to an unimaginable degree and that's sexual abuse some of these children are experiencing in these facilities operated by the united states government. pro publica, they've uncovered documentation that says at least 125 calls have been made over the past five years to police alleging of sexual abuse for children in these shelters for immigrant children. and these calls, i should say, date back to 2014, so that precedes the trump administration and the zero tolerance policy that separated children from their families. this goes back to the final days of the obama administration. think about that, over the past five years, at least 125 calls allegeding the sexual abuse of children in these facilities they're being housed in. some of these calls allege
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fights, missing children. what we do understand is there is a disconnect between what the government says is happening in these shelters that they operate versus what these children are saying is happening. we now see a federal judge mandating an independent monitor be present in these facilities to keep her abreast of what's happening there, fred. as you mentioned, 711 children still in the custody of the u.s. government separated from their families. >> all right, very troubling. kaylee hartung, thank you so much. let's discuss the politics of this. i'm joined by mike bennett, senior vice president and co-founder of the think tank third way. good to see you. >> good to be here. >> and brian mcgwire, he is the former chief of staff to senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and a republican strategist. good to see you as well. >> good to see you. >> matt, to you first, shouldn't everyone care about this and
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what will happen to these kids regardless if you're a republican, democrat, regardless of where you are on border control, et cetera? >> without a doubt. in the view of most democrats, donald trump has been a catastrophe in many ways but i think the most monstrous thing this administration has done is removing children from their parents and putting them in facilities where they're subject to mistreatment. it's essentially kidnapping. there's a lot of things in our politics that are complicated. tariff wars. you could make arguments on both sides for certain of the things that are likely to be issues in this fall's campaign. but kidnapping children from their parents and mistreating them and putting them in cages is something that every single american can and will understand and will take with them into the ballot box when they go in november. >> brian, what is good about anything here in defending this kind of approach?
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>> well, look, what -- the separation of children from family is something that's a huge tragedy. i have three little children and thinking about that is hard to do. the fact of the matter is the president has tried to resolve this with his executive order. every republican in congress has expressed strong willingness to do it. the real problem here the larger problem, is the law that's governed this question for 20 year. it was a problem the obama administration faced. that's made it impossible for the government to detain children and their parents for any length of time. so we're trying to figure out a way to get through that. but the law is something that the democrats don't see any interest in changing because their higher priority right now is preventing enforcement of illegal immigration rather than solving this problem that the flores settlement created 20 years ago. that to me is a tragedy and one the democrats are going to have
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to pay for as well. >> matt, why are you shaking your head? >> because this is ridiculous. the problem we're facing now, the 711 kids that are still being held away from their parents in custody is a problem created 100% and entirely by the trump administration. there is no ambiguity about this. it is true -- >> i think there's no doubt that the administration is trying really hard to address this situation at the border -- >> no, they're not. >> they had a very tight deadline to return these children and their parents. >> how, brian, when we heard admissions from the administration that they didn't document these children, nor match them up with the parents before they separated. that's why you have so many kids who were separated. >> they've tried under a very tight deadline to do so. it's an extremely chaotic situation as your reporter attested to. the good news is we have ngos, charitable organizations and a government feverishly trying to solve this problem.
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it's not easy to do. they're trying vigorously to solve the problem. >> but isn't that after the fact? isn't that the argument that that's after the fact there was a lack of organization is what we heard from so many. in fact -- >> which should not be surprising. a problem of this scale is something that's difficult to get a handle on and to solve in a short period of time. i have every impression that people are trying to resolve this problem responsibly, expeditio expeditiously. it's tragic these parents continue to be separated from their parents. but every indication i've seen, all the reporting suggested, that people are working hard to try to resolve this problem. >> go ahead, quickly, matt. >> fred, that's just not enough. the fact of the matter is, they broke it and they are unable to fix it. there are 711 kids being held in custody for no reason, away from their parents. there are kids as young as six being sexually assaulted. and then being told it's essentially their fault.
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has reported there's a 6-year-old girl who was forced to sign her first initial on a document she could not read. basically taking responsibility for her own sexual assault in custody. this is a catastrophe that is caused by trump and is enabled by congressional republicans. >> so a lot of things have happened, you know, in the course of a month and a half when people got a better grasp of the numbers of separations from visiting facilities. but there also seems like there's kind of a lull in what is really transpiring, brian. your former boss mitch mcconnell did visit, you know, i.c.e. headquarters in louisville yesterday to show his support for the agents. when asked about the missed deadline, why so many kids have still not been reunited with their family members, this is what he said. >> well, there's a piece of legislation to try to deal with this court decision that phillip
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is referring to that created this challenge about keeping families together. as i said a minute ago, the secretary of homeland security said yesterday she thought they were close to reunifying, identifying and reunifying the pool that are already here. and if it requires legislation to overturn the court decision, which i think it does, i support that. >> brian, could he be doing more? >> i think he's exactly right. he's referring to the court case that i referred to at the beginning that has bedeviled administrations going back 20 years. the problem here is the democrats don't seem to have any interest in resolving this legislatively. their highest priority as the movement to abolish i.c.e. now makes clear is to prevent enforcement rather than to resolve a truly tragic situation that prevents congress, prevents the administration from keeping these parents and their children together once they've been detained for any period of time. that's the larger issue here and
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one that democrats need to come to the table and to help republicans solve. they don't seem to have any interest in doing that right now. >> matt, quickly do you see any consequences midterm directly related to -- i think everyone agrees it's a debacle. >> oh, yeah, this is something every voter knows about, every voter cares about and every voter will be thinking about when they cast their ballot in november. brian's spin notwithstanding, people know who's responsible here, trump and the republicans. >> matt bennett and brian mcgwire, good to see you both. pope francis accepts the resignation of anccused of sexue decades ago. the attorney for the man who made that decision against the cardinal joins me next. what about him?
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all right, welcome back. an exclusive investigation by cnn. bayer, the pharmaceutical giant that makes the esure birth control device, has been paying doctors big money for consulting fees and other services. this comes after new questions about esure's safety. cnn senior medical correspondent elizabeth cohen has the latest. >> reporter: after giving birth to four children. she says her doctor suggested esure, a device implanted into fallopian tubes. >> made my life horrible. >> reporter: in so much pain, she had an hiss rekt mi to get rid of esure. bayer says it is safe but will
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stop selling it true to declining sales. now wondering did it last 16 years on the market in part because bayer was paying doctors millions? a cnn analyst of a federal database shows from 2013 to 2017, bayer paid a total of $2.5 million to 11,850 u.s. physicians in connection with esure. >> that's a lot of money. for a device that has caused so much trouble. >> reporter: the payments for consulting and other services are legal. but many health professionals question whether they're ethical. dr. martin mckerry is professor of surgery at john hopkins medicine. >> that looks like a bribe. >> reporter: but bayer disputes that and in a statement told us it collaborates with health care professionals in a range of activities to help improve clinical practice and patient outcomes. potts isn't so sure. >> i'm dr. cindy and i perform a simple procedure called esure. >> reporter: from 2013 to 2019,
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bayer paid the doctor more than $168,000. the second highest amount paid out to doctors nationwide related to esure. basinsky was also paid from 2008 through 2012. the amount unknown because the federal database doesn't go back that far. potts and other patients we talked to say they feel that money influenced the doctor who promoted esure. >> the esure procedure is the most effective sterilization procedure available. >> they felt that more than $168,000 would influence someone. what do you think? >> i would say that i do not feel it is influenced me at all in any way. i think there can be professional relationships with companies and physicians. i did a lot of work to earn that money. a majority of activities were involved with educating physicians. >> so one company gives you more than $168,000, other companies
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don't give you anything for their birth control products, you treat them exactly the same? >> i feel i do, yeah, i do feel i do. she says it didn't sway her. >> that's a lot of money to say it didn't sway you. >> reporter: other patients cnn spoke to defended dr. basinsky's judgment. the doctor said she's sad esure is coming off the market. >> i think it is a safe and viable option for women. >> reporter: potts says she'll be glad when esure is gone and out of the hands of doctors. elizabeth cohen, cnn, petersburg, indiana. coming up, the former archbishop of washington resigns over allegations over sexual abuse. the attorney for the man who leveled those claims joins me next.
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pope francis has being acce the resignation of this cardinal. he was told several months ago that the new york archdiocese was investigating an allegation of abuse from a teenage alter boy almost 50 years ago. te pope has suspended mckerik from public ministry and has ordered him to a life of prayer and penance until the accusations are resolved in a church trial. attorney patrick millicer represents the altar boy who accused the minister of sexual abuse. how does this make your client feel?
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>> well, he's mixed. in fact, i have two clients who were sexually abused as children and they're mixed. cardinal mckerik needs to be held accountable for what they did to them when they were children. however, then there also is much work to be done. they feel as though, you know, a lot more work needs to be done to investigate what influence cardinal mccarrick may have had while he was the cardinal and archbishop. >> it's still alleged, hasn't been proven, that church trial n nor, you know, in other criminal trial setting. cardinal mccarrick said in june he was shocked by the allegation and in this statement i want to quote, now, while i absolutely -- while i have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse and believe in my innocence, i am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through
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wells for the scandal such charges cause our people. what has been your response to that statement? june? i have no recollection? >> i think he's not taking responsibility for what he did to these children, is what i think, and that's what my clients think. the young man you're speaking of that made the report met with the archdiocese and their program and spent a lot of time talking to them and they found his reports credible. and they are credible. >> and the client that you represent, how has that person been doing all of these years? what has that personal, you know, journey been like as a result of what's been alleged? >> well what happened here is someone in significant power, at the time he was the secretary to the archbishop of new york, and
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he was sexually assaulted by this man and so it was confusing to him at the time. it was a betrayal of someone who he held in, you know, not only as a mentor but high esteem. and of course when somebody in that position sexually assaults you, it's going to cause problems. he has suffered from some problems over the years because you just -- he never has understood what happened. >> and now others have come forward with allegations of abuse against mccarrick so how far reaching do you think this is? >> i think it's very wide spread. i also represented another young man who was sexually abused when he was a kid by march carric and there were a report of a number of seminarians who were subjected to mccarrick's sexual harassment. i think it's wide spread. mccarrick, even before he was a cardinal, was a pedophile. >> what kind of confidence do you have that the catholic church will get to the bottom of
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this, make any progress as it relates to allegations like this? >> i think having cardinal mccarrick resign and the pope accepting his resignation from the college of cardinals is a good first step. i do think it's the beginning, not the end. i think it's really critical for the church to go in now to the different diocese like the archdiocese of washington, d.c. and the archdiocese of newark and archdiocese of new york for that matter where mccarrick held leadership positions and make sure he didn't contaminate that process to protect kids and he isn't protecting other child molesters who maybe had similar crimes to what he committed. >> thank you so much for your time. >> thank you very much. >> still so much more straight ahead in the "newsroom," but first, here's this week's start small, think big. >> a job to me was really a piece of identity that i wear that informs the world of who i
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right now, president trump is spending the weekend at his golf resort in bedminister, new
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jersey. the news of a booming economy and the president fulfilling a campaign promise overshadowed by the latest bombshell in the russia investigation. the man who once said he would take a bullet for donald trump now is preparing to tell special counsel robert mueller that the president knew about the infamous 2016 trump tower meeting ahead of time. accord to sources. this is something the president has repeat lid denied and now the president is doubling down on that denial. cnn's white house correspondent boris sanchez is joining us now live from berkeley heights, new jersey, near the president's golf club, where he is spending the weekend. so what's next for the white house? >> hey there, fred. sources indicate that aides have tried to get president trump out on the road to keep him focused on the strength of america's economy. and not the slow drip of


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