Return to Transcripts main page
U.S. Signals It's Ready For Talks With North Korea; Venezuelan Opposition Leaders Detained; U.S. Considers Response To Latest Missile Attack; White House Changes Story On Trump Jr. Statement; Hundreds On Trial In Turkey Over 2016 Coup Attempt; Ronaldo In Court Over Tax Evasion Accusation; Lawsuit Fox News & White House Made Up Seth Rich Story; New Polls Show Extreme Views Among Brexit Voters; Sexual Harassment At Disturbing Levels; Serena Williams Demands Equal Pay For Black Women. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 2, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If I am to convey to the North Koreans: we are not your enemy, we're not your threat, but you are an unacceptable threat to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: The U.S. secretary of state signals he's ready to talk with North Korea, but at the same time, U.S. lawmakers warn an all-out war.
VAUSE: Donald Trump demands the release of two Venezuelan opposition leaders detained by the government in the dead of night.
SESAY: And later, a shocking poll reveals the divide over Brexit, how many pro-Brexit voters in the U.K. say they're willing to lose their job if it means the U.K. leaves the European Union.
VAUSE: Hello, thanks for joining us for another hour. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A. The hope is that diplomacy will work with North Korea. The U.S. secretary of state, says Washington is willing to sit down and talk with Kim Jong-un's regime, but only if it abandons its nuclear program.
VAUSE: That has been a long-standing policy of the United States, but should diplomacy, one U.S. senator says, war could be next; details now, from Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All-out war with North Korea, a real possibility being put forth by a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, told NBC's "TODAY," President Trump told him there will be war with North Korea if Kim Jong-un's regime continues on its path of threatening America with its missile program. Graham says Trump discussed the possible casualties with that.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When there's going to be a war to stop, then it will be over there. If thousands die, they're going to die over there, and they're not going to die here. And he's told me that to my face.
TODD: Graham says no one wants a war. But says, the president have more of a responsibility to protect the American homeland than the region around North and South Korea. General James "Spider" Marks, who led U.S. military intelligence in South Korea, says Senator Graham's remarks don't help the situation.
GEN. JAMES MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: What Senator Graham is saying, is that a whole host of those folks is going to die. That's a message that we do not have to remind the South Koreans of; they know that. It's unfortunate that he said it.
TODD: Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein, who's on the Intelligence Committee told MSNBC, there's more to the danger that Senator Graham seems to realize.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: My reaction is that Lindsey Graham should get a classified briefing like the ones I have had and sit down with Secretary Mattis, which I have done.
TODD: President Trump's defense secretary recently issued a dire warning about armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: It will be a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we have seen since 1953. It will involve the massive shelling of an ally's capital, which is one of the most densely packed cities on Earth. It would be a serious -- it would be a catastrophic war.
TODD: Kim Jong-un has a million-man army, and has bolstered his infantry and artillery near the DMZ. The Pentagon says much of those forces are in underground bunkers, ready to fire on Seoul at the first whiff of an attack by the U.S.
GEN. WALTER SHARP, FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. ARMY: The number of missiles that they have that they could launch into South Korea; they could cause a lot of damage.
TODD: There are about 28,000 U.S. troops in the region. Experts say, the U.S. and South Korea would win that war, but some studies project tens of thousands of people killed in the first couple of days.
MARKS: It would be a very nasty fight. The maneuver forces from the United States and South Korea moving into the North would encounter barriers of a very tough foe. They've been there forever, so they know the terrain. TODD: The Pentagon is not commenting at all on Senator Graham's
remarks. A White House official would not comment directly on what Senator Graham said, but told us the president often consults with members of Congress for their input and said the president is committed to using economic and diplomatic pressure to get North Korea to change course.
Now, on the criticism he's receiving, an aide to Senator Graham told us, it's worth pointing out that General James Marks, who we interview for the story was a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the campaign, which General Marks says is irrelevant. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
SESAY: Well, Journalist, Kaori Enjoji, joins us now from Tokyo. Kaori, good to speak to you again. Senator Lindsey Graham on Tuesday quite bluntly saying that the U.S. will resort to military options against North Korea, that that will inevitable if North Korea continues down this path. Bearing in mind what this could all mean for South Korea, for Japan, and those other regional players. Are we hearing of the U.S. trying to engage with regional powers aside from China to find a way to de-escalate the situation?
[01:05:05] KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, Isha, I think there has been a lot of back-and-forths, particularly with -- between the U.S. and Japan, and also between Japan and South Korea, as to how to de- escalate the situation in the Korean Peninsula. Just on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, to reaffirm their commitment in this area, and they're not even at the level but at the ministerial level.
There have been discussions on going throughout this process between not only the U.S. and Japan but South Korea and Japan. I think the words that Senator Graham used overnight, words like war, and escalation of the military -- of the military situation in the peninsula raises alarm bells, not only here but throughout the region. But for some perspective on those comments, let's listen to what one analyst had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER ANALYST FOR CIA NORTH KOREA: Very disturbing because what does he mean by over there? We do have almost 200,000 American experts living Seoul, never mind how millions of people -- South Koreans living there. We have 28,500 American soldiers living Seoul. So, I'm not quite certain what they mean by over there. We do have American lives in addition to South Korea lives at stake. North Korean artillery, over 10,000 pieces within 60 seconds of Seoul, so I think this is kind of an irresponsible statement, to be honest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ENJOJI: Isha, I also think there's a little bit of uncertainty in the region because Senator Graham's comments seem to contrast with what the Secretary of State Tillerson was saying overnight. And that he would, at some point, welcome dialogue with North Korea, and that they're not seeking any kind of regime change. I mean, stepping back one moment, I think there is a genuine concern though about an unintentional accident happening in these areas.
You've had repeated missile tests over the last couple of months, many of them falling just within the exclusive economic zone -- the exclusive waters of Japan, some 300 kilometers, 150 kilometers off the shores of the western coast of Japan. And this is a heavily traffic area not only with ships going past, container ships, you have fishing boats out there on a regular basis, we have flights going through that airspace. So, something unintended happening there, I think, is a genuine concern for people in the region here, Isha.
SESAY: Yes. A very stressful time; tension's high. Kaori Enjoji, joining us there from Tokyo, thanks so much. So, the White House is telling a different story about Donald Trump, and his son's explanation for meeting with the Russian lawyer last year.
VAUSE: And the air of changing narrative is threating to bring a new focus on the president and his closest advisor. CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the White House, for the first time, is admitting that President Trump played some role in helping draft the initial misleading statement from his son, Donald Trump Jr., that disclose details about Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer at Trump tower. This, after pushing back on a Washington Post report, that the president dictated the statement.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He certainly didn't dictate but, you know, he -- like I said, he weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do.
SCHNEIDER: The Post reported that the president was onboard Air Force One, July 8th, on the way back from the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, when he intervened to personally draft the statement. That first explanation released by Donald Trump Jr. stated that he met with the Russian primarily to discuss a program about the adoption of Russian children.
A subsequent statement acknowledged the meeting was actually set-up after Don Jr. was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. CNN reported at the time that some of the president closest aide's traveling back on Air Force One helped draft the initial response from Don Jr., prompting concerns that those White House aides may have exposed themselves to legal scrutiny in the special counsel's investigation.
The new details from the Washington Post opened the possibility that the president could find himself under similar scrutiny, despite today's admission from the White House that the president at least weighed in on the initial statement. The president's lawyer repeatedly denied any involvement by the president when the story first broke in mid-July. JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The president didn't sign
up on anything. He's coming back from the G-20. The statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr., I'm sure in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn't involved in that.
The president was not, did not draft the response. I do want to be clear, the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did issue the statement.
SCHNEIDER: Jay Sekulow, issued this statement in response to the Washington Post story last night, "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent." CNN previously reported that none of the president's attorneys were involved in drafting that first statement. A person familiar with the matter said that Marc Kasowitz, the attorney at the time, designated to handle legal matters surrounding the Russia investigation was not onboard Air Force One, and did not participate in writing the statement.
[01:10:12] On July 23rd, Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer jumped to his client's defense, saying Trump Jr. and his legal team were fully prepared an absolutely prepared to publish or make a statement that was a fulsome statement about the nature of the meeting, what led to the meeting, what the conversation was in the meeting. Donald Trump Jr. clarified the purpose of his meeting with that Russian lawyer in a second statement and with the release of its e-mail chain. But now the White House is disputing that Trump Jr.'s initial statement was misleading.
SANDERS: The statement that Don Jr. issued is true, there's no inaccuracy in the statement. The president weighed in, as any father would based on the limited information that he had. This is all discussion, frankly of no consequence. There's no follow up. It was disclosed to the proper parties.
SCHNEIDER: Congressional committees are still waiting to hear directly from Donald Trump Jr. Senator Dianne Feinstein said that Don Jr. is expected to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September. The president's son has been cooperating with the committee in order to avoid a subpoena and ensure a private interview before any public hearing. Meanwhile, Senator Mark Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee says, he wants more information from Don Jr. who he expects to appear before his committee as well. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Joining us now: CNN Political Commentators, Democratic Strategist, Dave Jacobson; and Republican Consultant, John Thomas. Dave, there does seem to be a pattern here for Donald Trump and those around him. You know, first it was the president had nothing to do with this statement from Don Jr. There's far -- he weighed in on it.
You know, it was the like, you know, the whole issues with the Russians. Never met a Russian in my life; wouldn't know Russian if I talk to over one, and well, there were meetings with Russians but there's no collusion. Then there's collusion, but hey, who wouldn't collude, you know? That's what you do during election campaigns.
You know, there's this constant, sort of, reworking of the truth, or what isn't the truth. And you know, if there is no consistency here -- this is something which just seems to have a time, after time, after time.
DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We thought that drip, drip, drip with the Hillary Clinton e-mails was bad; this is, you know, I think, in terms of being worse ten-fold. I mean, the reality is that Donald Trump is a pathological liar. There's no other way around it. I mean, the guy can't tell the truth. He just keeps kind of lie after lie; his hands get caught in the cookie jar. And I think, increasingly, Bob Mueller is looking at all of this, and this is all going to be part of that investigation that raises real questions about whether or not there's going to be anything tangible in terms of obstruction of justice.
And you know, as we look to 2018, Democrats are going to be looking at this, you know, in terms of a possible impeachment movement if we win back the House. I mean, that's the cold heart reality, and that's the trajectory that we're sort of on.
SESAY: And John, you hear Dave use the word that the president is a pathological liar. Does that get to the heart of it, why this administration can't get its story straight? Is that how you see it?
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: No. I don't think he's a pathological liar. I think he's been hiring a bunch bad people within his administration that are leaking certain information, and it's caused the president to lose control of what he's trying to control this story -- the narrative. And part of the other problem is, you know, the president continues to be a victim of his own success: he thinks he understands how to deal with the crisis and a public relations catastrophe better than his advisors.
And as we've heard in this circumstance, the advisors to Donald Trump Jr. said, get out in front of the story, release everything because it's going to come out regardless. And Trump said, no, we're going to control it my way, and that was just a big mistake.
SESAY: And when he says, we're going to control it my way, again, where is that coming from? Is it a belief that he can actually control the narrative? Is it a belief that it's not a big deal? I mean, he will do and try to understand the motivation in some way.
THOMAS: Yes. Sure, sure. I think it's actually a combination of both of those things. I mean, on the broader allegation that the Trump campaign or Trump colluding with Russia. I mean, Trump believes to his core, he didn't collude with Russia, So, this is: there's nothing there. This is a public relations issue, not a criminal issue.
JACOBSON: Well, if there's nothing though, then like, why did Donald Trump dictate the statement to his son that was misleading? It was just ingenious to speak --
THOMAS: Because he's trying to squash the story.
VAUSE: OK. Well, a week ago, the president, he was widely criticized for that speech which he delivered to the boy scouts of America. In case you missed, here are some of the highlights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You want to achieve your dreams, they said. Who the hell want to speak about politics when I'm in front of the boy scouts? We ought to change it from the word "swamp" to the word "cesspool," or perhaps to the word "sewer." But it's not good, not good.
TRUMP: By the way, just a question. Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. A few days later, the head of the boy scouts issued a statement saying, "I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent." A lot of criticism of the president but, apparently, Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal last week in an interview: "And I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful. So, there was -- there was no mix." Apparently, no one from the scouts actually called Donald Trump to say that, and the scouts told us that they stand by their original statement. So, (INAUDIBLE), what's going on?
[01:15:35] JACOBSON: You guess is as good as mine. I think the reality is the guy can't tell the truth. He's lying through his teeth every single day. He's trying to create this narrative and shake the story for himself that he's his phenomenal president, of course. I think --
VAUSE: Does he believe what he said?
THOMAS: I mean, I heard the bureau and I heard applause.
VAUSE: They're kids!
THOMAS: Yes. I mean, but it seemed pretty loud. And did the head of the troops call, and clearly not. But did a particular troop division head that called him and says that was great Mr. President, thank you -- probably.
SESAY: But then, does this just get back to the issue as the president has been accused of being incredibly thin skin, and so he felt that you know, he'd been criticized at least publicly by the Boy Scouts. He had to counter that by saying that it was the greatest speech ever. THOMAS: Well, yes, absolutely. This is the Trump that we all come to know. I mean, this is no different than how he behaved on the campaign trail.
JACOBSON: Or how he behaved at the inauguration's crowd size.
SESAY: And isn't that the point? When you watch that speech, he just loves to campaign, that he's unable in front of crowds not to revert back to candidate --
THOMAS: And he also loves applause lines.
THOMAS: And if he feels something's going to get him applause, I mean, look, I'm sure there were parents that were Democrats that didn't like there -- the president.
VAUSE: There are a lot of (INAUDIBLE), bring out either Democrats or Republicans.
THOMAS: But it was for him, I'm sure he thought it was an applause line at the moment.
VAUSE: OK. Well, look, amid all of the turmoil, the Trump administration, you know, it's still out there. It's still doing what the Trump administration does. You know, Times reported in the last couple of hours that they're actually taking on affirmative action on college campuses. Here's part of the reporting from the New York Times: " The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department's civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times."
So, Dave, after rolling back protection for the LGBTQ community unto discriminating Muslims, as well as women, they're now going to protect the white people.
JACOBSON: Right. They're doubling down. I mean, clearly, Donald Trump is fanning flames of the continued polarization of America, with minority communities, of course, and then his base. I mean, at the end of the day, Donald Trump is concerned about his base, and this is emblematic of that, right? He cares about, you know, rust belt folks, working-class folks, white males -- that's his only constituency. He's not trying to coalesce support among all different American constituencies; that's a real problem. You want the president to be the commander-in-chief of all Americans, right? And the reality is, he's only talking to 35 percent of the country.
SESAY: John, was this a dog whistle?
THOMAS: Yes. No -- I mean, well, this is standard Republican gripe that affirmative actions, reverse discrimination to see the president go after this. This isn't something like, you know, Trump is uniquely going -- I mean, this is something conservatives maintain, have railed against for years.
SESAY: That's the way that this is being done. And they're looking at, you know, that it's being done from like the political office --
SESAY: Of the --
VAUSE: Department of Justice.
SESAY: Of the Department of Justice as opposed to from, you know, Korea. Justice officials who kind of know the law and are motivated by politics, that's raising questions.
THOMAS: I think the Trump administration is trying to figure out how to get it done. And they feel that this is the best way to get something done.
VAUSE: Is this really a priority? They're on it amid everything going on right now?
JACOBSON: Right. And clearly, they're trying to change the narrative and change the discussion, but they're moving in a wrong direction. I mean, this is the guy who is propped up by the alt-right movement, the white nationalist movement. This is the guy who is endorsed by those entities, and so he's doubling down on that strategy. Clearly, he's talking about constituency.
VAUSE: OK. Guys, good to see you.
SESAY: Thank you to both of you.
VAUSE: Thank you, both.
SESAY: All right, quick break here. Ahead on CNN, new sanctions are not stopping the Venezuelan president from targeting political opponents. The government is defending the arrest of two prominent opposition leaders.
[01:19:21] VAUSE: Also, a big show of force, from a Turkish government as hundreds go on trial in the last years failed coup.
SESAY: The Venezuelan democracy seems to be getting weaker by the day. Donald Trump says President Nicolas Maduro is personally responsible for the safety of two prominent opposition leaders. Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were taken from the house; arrests in the middle of the night and thrown into jail. The men opposed a new pro-Maduro assembly that could rewrite the constitution. Our own Leyla Santiago has more now from Caracas.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are seeing a very
defiant President Nicolas Maduro, as he speaks out against the United States, against the international community saying he will not allow anyone to interfere with Venezuela's sovereignty. But we are also seeing a very embolden Maduro, who is now taking steps to take actions against opposition leaders -- the very people, the very safest (INAUDIBLE) that have been very critical of his government. And we're talking about Leopoldo Lopez as well as Antonio Ledezma, they were into custody in the middle of the night.
A very dramatic coming in particular in the case of Ledezma; you could see a group of officials who took him overnight while he was in his own pajamas. While he resisted, you could hear someone, a man yelling (INAUDIBLE), asking for help, while neighbors watching in the area were yelling "Dictatorship," or yelling, "They're taking Ledezma," to alert other people in the neighborhood. And it's not the first time that we've heard that word "dictator." Certainly, the International Community is using that to describe what is happening here.
President Trump has already placed sanctions against an individual (INAUDIBLE) to President Maduro. He also is now going after Maduro himself. What he has not done yet, what no one in the International Community has done is target the oil industry here. Venezuela was one of the richest countries in Latin. The country with the largest oil reserves in the world. And the United States is a market for that; they buy a lot of oil. And that has not been targeted yet, why? That remains unknown. There's that certainly the impact on both sides.
With the United States, you could see gas pipes; they've go up as a result. In Venezuela, you could see the economy, really, deal with some pain, and this is an already collapsing economy dealing with food and medical shortages. People who are struggling just to get the daily things they need -- food, like flour, and sugar, and basic medical supplies like Acetaminophen. Certainly, a hard time here in Venezuela, and people are wishing that they could live in the Venezuela that once was. Leyla Santiago, CNN, Caracas.
VAUSE: The biggest trial yet relating to last year's failed coup in Turkey is now underway. Government demonstrators are calling for the death penalty to be reinstated as the accused were marched into a specially filled court house. Almost 500 stand in the trial, including the generals who were allegedly behind the plot to overthrow the government. Earlier, Ben Wedeman spoke to Hala Gorani.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course, the most important defendant is Fethullah Gulen, the leader that the Turkish government accused as of being behind this attempted coup d'etat that took place on the evening of July 15th of last year, in which 249 people were killed. Now, some of those accused are accused, for instance, of murder, of attempted assassination of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of violating the Constitution, of attempting to overthrow the Turkish state and some of them are facing sentences up to life imprisonment without parole. And the people outside the court, some of them were calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty which was abolished here in Turkey back in 2004.
[01:25:34] Now, it's expected that this case, this trial is going to go on at least for a month, given the number of people who were in trial. In fact, today's session was really just to go down the list of defendants and identify them, so this is going to go on for quite some time. It's important to underscore, however, that the defendants in this case unlike, for instance, the other case we were covering last week of Turkish journalist, they don't have a lot of sympathizers or supporters. Many Turks, even those who aren't particularly enthusiastic about the Turkish president, do not support these people because they did try to pull off a military coup.
SESAY: Well, football star, Cristiano Ronaldo, appeared in court over accusations of tax evasion. The Real Madrid forward did not make a statement much to the disappointment of the crowd outside the courthouse.
VAUSE: Spanish prosecutors accused him of tax fraud, hiding nearly Euro 15 million or $17 million from Spanish authorities. The agency representing Ronaldo says it's just a misunderstanding.
SESAY: For a lot of money.
VAUSE: Yes. Ronaldo has denied the accusations. We'll take a break here on NEWSROOM L.A. When we come back, the White House, fighting back against a new lawsuit claiming the president was involved in concocting a fake news story, those details in just a moment.
SESAY: Hello, everyone! You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I am Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We'll take the headlines this hour. Rex Tillerson says the U.S. is willing to hold talks with North Korea proving the Pyongyang includes its nuclear weapons program in those negotiations. The U.S. secretary of state insists, Washington is not pushing for regime change, but he says Pyongyang is posing an unacceptable threat, and the U.S. must respond.
SESAY: President Donald Trump says the U.S. is holding Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, personally responsible for the safety of two opposition leaders. The men were pulled off of their home in the middle of the night and thrown in jail.
[01:30:07] The pro-Maduro Supreme Court says Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were detained because they were planning to flee. The opposition leaders publicly opposed the new assembly that has the power to rewrite the constitution.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Two suicide bombers killed at least 29 people at Tuesday in a Shiite Mosque in Western Afghanistan. Police say one of the bombers started firing on worshipers and then blew himself up. The second bomber also blew himself up in the crowd of people that gathered their evening prayers, still unclear who is responsible for the attack.
SESAY: Apple shares all surging an after hours trading. After the company predicted it would be the expectations and hit $52 billion in sales in the fourth quarter. And that's suggest Apple well indeed launched its new iPhone come September. Apple earning also sold 17 percent in the third quarter.
Now a bombshell lawsuit against Fox News claims that the White House played a role in the network fake story about a murdered DNC staffer.
VAUSE: And also like this story was department effort to distract from the conversing course by the ongoing Russia investigation. We get details from Brian Stelter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a possibility, this is a guy who provided two Wikileaks all those DNC e-mails.
BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A false story peddled by Fox News, could have finger print that reach all the way to the White House. A new lawsuit filed in federal court claims Fox concocted the story about the murder of 27 year old DNC Staffer Seth Rich and claims the White House have oversight it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it was true that Seth Rich at Wikileaks and DNC e-mails would not blow the whole Russia collusion narrative that the media has been pushing out of the water.
STELTER: That is part of this pro-Trump conspiracy theory. Rich's family says his death had been exploited by right-wing media. At the center of the story is Ed Butowsky a wealthy Republican donor. Tuesdays suit followed by Rod Wheeler a Fox News contributor claims Butowsky and Fox were in cahoots contriving a link between Rich and Wikileaks.
Wheeler worked with Butowsky investigating Rich's death.
ROD WHEELER, FOX FORMER PRIVATE DETECTIVE: It's very consistent for a person with my experience can begin to think, well perhaps there were some e-mail communications between Seth and Wikileaks.
STELTER: Rich's family says, "That's not true". And D.C. police believe his killing was a bust robbery nothing politically motivated. But that didn't stop Fox.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sure doesn't look like a robbery. It looks like a murder.
STELTER: After days of coverage back in May, the network retracted the story. Now a month later Wheeler's explosive lawsuit says he was misquoted defamed by Fox. And his suit goes much further claiming Butowsky coordinated the phony story with the White House. Why quote "to shift the blame from Russia and refute coalition claims?"
Butowsky named as a defendant in the suit strongly denies the allegations.
ED BUTOWSKY, TRUMP SUPPORTER and REPUBLICAN DONOR: The lawsuit is absolute crap. There's nothing to this law suit that has any in there whatsoever.
STELTER: This text mess age from Butowsky to Wheeler is one of the suits most eye-popping claims. "Not to add anymore pressure but the President just read the article. He wants the article out immediately. It's now all up to you but don't feel the pressure". Butowsky now says he was just kidding around."
BUTOWSKY: I was just joking with the man. And that's all that was.
STELTER: The White House pushing back as well.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President didn't have knowledge of the story. The White House didn't had any involvement in the story.
STELTER: But there is a link to the White House. Butowsky and Wheeler met with then Press Secretary Sean Spicer a month before the phony Fox story came out. Spicer says it was just a 10 minute courtesy meeting and the White House had nothing to do with his story.
But the suit claims that Spicer asked to be kept addressed of developments. As for Fox it calls the accusation that it published the Seth Rich story did detract from the Russian Coalition Issue "Completely erroneous".
VAUSE: And Brian is with us now from New York. You know Brian it took Fox a week to retract this particular story after it was published. But the network they've been, they were hammering this bogus story along before that and creating their selves narrative. It wasn't the Russians in fact the DNC it was Seth Rich and this ultimate example of fake news its living on to this day.
STELTER: It is. It's a counter narrative that is popular amongst some Trump voters who do not accept the U.S. Intelligence Community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the U.S. election. That is of course partly predicated on the Wikileaks release of DNC e-mails, e- mails stolen from the DNC.
There's a lot of other evidence involving Russian interference. But the DNC e-mail is one piece of the puzzle. And the Seth Rich conspiracy theory suggests are actually assert. No, it wasn't Russia it was this DNC staffer who stole the e-mails and then got them over to Wikileaks and he was killed for doing so.
[01:35:09] Imagine the heartache that this has put those Rich's family through. They say this conspiracy theory is bogus but it's been an increase source of amount pain for the family that is already grieving for the loss of their child. Now they have to see these kinds of story all over the place and Fox perpetuated it.
VAUSE: And they had beg for weeks asking the network --
STELTER: That's right, yes.
VAUSE: -- to stop putting to end, you know, for whatever reason it took a consider amount of time. You mentioned Wikileaks. According to the lawsuit, the Fox News reporter attributed two fabricated statements to Wheeler define at here.
Here are those statements, "My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of e-mail exchange between Seth Rich and Wikileaks". And that the other statement, "My investigation show someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton Team is blocking the murder investigation from going forward. That is unfortunate. Seth Rich's murder is unsolved as a result of that."
Now this is what Wheeler said was his first reaction when he saw those bogus lines attributed to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD WHEELER, PLAINTIFF: The reporter from Fox News Malia Zimmerman she wrote that story. I immediately challenged her. And I said, "Malia that's just simply not true, you and I both know this isn't true". And she said, well her boss has told her to leave those quotes in there. And I said, "Why would you leave something in an article that you know is not true?" And that's why we're here today.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
VAUSE: So Brian, the court filing Wheeler alleges "That's how the President wanted the story". We don't know if that's true. At the very least can we say the White House did nothing to kill the story which it knew to be totally false?
STELTER: I think of it on the Fox News side the ethics of Fox's behavior here are -- they're lacking to say the least. The idea that the boss is wanted this out there. They're pushing this story, it's a survey and from a journalistic ethics point of view, this is a disaster for Fox News. They retracted it. They said they're still investigating. Who knows what will happen.
But on the White House side I think it's murkier. I think it's unclear exactly how much involvement there was at the White House. We know Sean Spicer had this meeting with Wheeler where it talked about the investigation. Spicer suggested there weren't any other conversations after that. The lawsuit contradicts him and says Spicer wanted updates on what was going on.
Now, the lawsuit also says Steve Bannon was in touch in some way with the GOP donor who was pushing this. So it's murky. And I think there's more reporting that needs to be done on the White House piece of this. VAUSE: You know, we don't know if these allegations are true. We don't know how much involvement there was from the President of the United States. Did he work with Fox News to fabricate the story? But it comes just out after the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump dictated a false story about his son's campaign meeting with a Russian lawyer.
You know, these accusations would lead devastating for any president. But it seems especially so for a president who complains almost daily about fake news.
STELTER: And this is a false news story. What Fox was pushing at may was a false story. And it came at a terrible time for President Trump. Terrible time, meaning he had just fired James Comey. He had shared top secret information with the Russians in the Oval Office. He was at that moment. The low point is presidency, his gone lower since.
But at that time it was the low point in his presidency. And what did Fox do? It touted this story to made him look in some ways good and give a counter narrative to all the Russian coalition questions. So this was for Trump it was a story he needed at that moment. Does that mean the White House was involved in someway? As you said, we don't know. We need to have more reporting on this. Maybe the lawyers will be able to get more through the discovery process in this lawsuit.
VAUSE: Very quickly last question here. Wheeler, he is claiming he was forced to correct the record that goes un-repairable (ph) harm to his reputation and career but how reliable is he and how reliable is his testimony?
STELTER: I have questions about that because he was at Fox by the time he was saying some of the stuff on the air at the time. And now he is telling us somewhat different story. It is unclear, you know, why he's had this change of heart. I have questions about that that I would like to ask him.
But the bigger issue here as you've been hearing on John, is the White House, is the Trump White House and its deceptive nature the Washington Post story being the most recent example. And then you hear about this, the idea that Fox and the Trump White House are working together in order to concoct this story.
The reason why I'm taking it seriously is because of the Trump White House credibility crisis. And because of its past behavior trying to influence and interfere in news conference.
VAUSE: And of course, in all of these a complete and total disregard it seem for, you know, what the parents of this young man have been going through, I believe in prime (ph).
STELTER: At the status protocol.
VAUSE: Yes, Brian, good to speak with you. Thanks so much.
STELTER: Thanks. [01:40:01] SESAY: Quick break here. The Brexit vote exposed some deep risk in British society. A new polling suggests that risk may actually be getting worst, not better.
VAUSE: In the past few weeks. The string of economic forecast in Britain have won to gloomy outlook because of Brexit. But it seems those who voted to leave the E.U. just don't care. The new YouGov survey three out of five Brexit supporters were OK with all the economic fall out. And that figure is even higher among voters 65 and older.
SESAY: Well nearly 40 percent of "Leave" votes say they'll be willing to lose their jobs. So we'll have a family member lose their, will Brexit to happen. Of course, these figures predictably drop among those who wanted to stay in the E.U. But almost 20 percent of remain voters say they'd be OK with judging the economy just to teach-believe campaign that camp a lesson.
So Global Business Executive Ryan Patel joins me now. Ryan, always good to have you with us. Have you watched clear from the YouGov numbers is that there is that there is an element of extremism that exists within both camp. How surprised are you to hear that given everything that is known now post the vote itself.
RYAN PATEL, GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: Well, I mean definitely on a 65 age group was the one leading at over 71 percent of the people who said they would not care of the economy headwind to boom to actually gone away. So that not so much surprising.
Well surprising to me is the narrative a little bit because I think what's happening is the E.U. is now kind of come in to this and kind of piggyback of this whole a little bit. And say, "Hey, won't you guys want to come back right behind this kind of bloom and gloom narrative".
And so for me the poll is interesting to a certain degree of the timing of the same time as well as the E.U. leader's kind of saying, "Hey, why don't Britain kind of come back". And I think the problem with that right now is they want the U.K. to come back underneath their terms.
And so I think it's kind of interesting how both sides are paying a political power game right now. One saying using this pull as, "Hey, we don't need you". And other side saying, "Hey, you know, we welcome you back.
SESAY: OK. To that point let's play some sounds from the Prime Minister of Maltese. Who has expected some doubts about Brexit actually going through? Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH MUSCAT, MALTESE PRIME MINISTER: For the first time I believe that it might not happen, yes, because it's getting too complicated and to say the truth I think more people are realizing that this is the wrong way to go.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is this sentiment shared by any other European leaders you've spoken with?
MUSCAT: Well, there are some who think the same manner that I think. Others are less optimistic. But I do think that I'm not alone in having this point of view.
GORANI: You are talking about other European leaders in the block?
GORANI: Can you name any?
MUSCAT: I think that's when we discuss the whole, no I can't obviously.
GORANI: I didn't think you could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:45:04] SESAY: Is there really an off-ramp here. I mean I hear him expressing some kind of optimism there not agreeing to name of the leaders that share the same belief. But is there an off-ramp for the person at the stage?
PATEL: No. This is a negotiation. You have to understand this. What he is saying and what the other leaders are saying, "Yes, we'd welcome you back but on our -- on the terms of the E.U., right, and having to give up these things that bring walking away from"
On of the problems at the E.U. has stays with greatness. They're actually one of the most not following the E.U. policies right now. And so, now than being out they provide a little more inability (ph) for the E.U. in general.
PATEL: And so, it's all a mix message right here saying, "Hey, we want you to come back but we really want you to come back on our own terms".
SESAY: Yes. I mean the expectation is that this is going to play out, right? The expectation is the outcome 2019 the U.K. will be out of the European Union. When you go back to that YouGov poll that started this conversation and you see the, the stock extremist position.
You have to wonder about social stability in the U.K. And that in turn you have to wonder about any attempts to kind of gain some financial economic stability. I mean that seems so far off in the distance when you have a society so polarized.
PATEL: And I think that's the over all skim of this whole thing is. Think about what the effects is going to have to happen, I apology to business and the citizens within the U.K. SESAY: Yes.
PATEL: Think about just the small things with the customs. It's going to cost the U.K. over a million, $1.3 million if they come out and be able to import things. They have foreign direct investments number two in the world right now and coming out as well in number three. This is going to have a bigger effect that everyone can see right now in the year or year and a half.
And I think the sad part of all this is, I really believe this is a play between the two, you know, to the Union and U.K. This is a negation play a little bit of, you know, who's got the upper hand a little bit on at the end of the day.
SESAY: Yes. Is there anyway that you can see the U.K. gaining the upper hand at this point?
PATEL: Not when they don't have their own plan clear. Once they get a clear, clear plan and they could be able to come with the tax with other countries and partner with them. Then they can get a little more leverage to go back to the E.U. But right now the E.U. with the recent numbers of the growth being positive versus the U.K., they're kind of on a down position right now.
SESAY: Yes. Ryan Paten always good to see you. Thank you.
VAUSE: For universities who go to Australia dealing with a disturbing trend on a pretty big scale.
SESAY: Yes. Australia's Human Right Commission says some are prime grounds of sexual harassment and other crimes. CNN's Lynda Kinkade reports.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one of the largest studies ever conducted on sexual harassment and sexual assault at universities. More than 30,000 students from 39 universities across Australia were surveyed. The result pain a disturbing future.
The Australian Human Rights Commission found that more than half of all the university students were sexually harassed last year but it's on and off campus. That means they were subjected to unwanted conduct of sexual in nature like inappropriate leaning or comments.
Seven percent was sexually assaulted, meaning they were forced, coerce or tricked into sexual acts when they had withdrawn consent. And most did not even report it.
KATE JERKINS, SEX DISCRIMINATION COMMISSION: We found that only two percent of who were sexually harasses and 9 percent of those who were sexually assaulted at university made a formal report or complaint to their university. KINKADE (voice-over): These images highlight the problem. In this security vision you can see a female student walking through the car part at lunch time when she's attacked by this tall man behind here. She manages to fight him off and escape. Mina Fennah was a victim of the similar attack.
MINA FENNAH, ATTACK VICTIM: Sexual assault is an extremely traumatic experience to anyone who goes through it.
KINDKADE (voice-over): Other countries including the U.S. and U.K. have reported similar conclusions when it comes to sexual harassment on campus. The Australian chair of universities has apologized.
MARGARET GARDNER, CHAIR OF UNIVERSITIES AUTRALIA: To each of you I say this, we are sorry that this happened to you. Sexual assault is a crime.
KINKADE (on camera): The report made nine recommendation including evaluating the way students can report assault and changing attitudes on campus.
Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
SESAY: To some remarkable video here to show you over Texas police office who was struck by a car and miraculously walks away. Look at this with us in this incredible dash cam video. What will police say Officer Matthew Lesell was making a routine traffic stop when out of nowhere a suspected -- look at that? It's shocking terrifying.
VAUSE: Oh. Dear.
SESAY: The suspected drunk driver slamming into the back of the car, and as you see smashing into him too.
VAUSE: Also was sent flying in the air before landing in the middle of the road. You most actually able to be detain the suspect and call the backup and here is no surprise. The suspect was later arrested for intoxicated assault.
[01:50:11] SESAY: Truly, truly frightening. Quick break, still ahead Serena Williams is taking on the agenda pay gap.
Up next, the tennis super star serves up some hard truth on what black women earn compare to their white counter part.
SESAY: U.S. tennis star Serena Williams is demanding and end to agenda pay gap in an essay in Fortune Magazine. William highlights how black women pay even worst than their white counterpart in the U.S. They earn just $0.63 for every dollar a white man makes and also 17 percent less than their white female counterpart.
VAUSE: OK, here some of the key quotes. "The cycles of poverty, discrimination and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles. Unfair pay has prevailed for far too long with no consequence. Through decades of systematic oppression, black women have been conditioned to think they are loss than. The first step in making a change is recognition."
SESAY: We need to push this issue to the front of conversation so that employers across the U.S. can truly understand that all male and female employees must be compensated equally, not close. Not almost the same, equally.
Here now with us is Legal Analyst and Civil Right Attorney Areva Martin. Areva, good to have you with us, you know, let me just go back to that stat and repeat it for all our viewers that basically black women not only less the men 87 percent on every dollar, 13 percent less on every dollar.
By they also earn just to remind you 17 percent less than their white female counterparts which really kind of brings home this intersectionality, if you will to use that word between racism and sexism that black women face, a reality that often is overlooked and not part of the dialog.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not part of the dialog and in fact people I think sometimes get offended when you bring it up. You know, we were tweeting about black women's path equity day and I got a lot blow back on social media from people saying. Well, what about white women, what about Latino women, what about other women?
And I was trying to make the point as you just said. These are the numbers, these are the statistics. I'm not making this up. I didn't create this reality. I'm trying to help move the needle forward so that hopefully my daughters will grow up into a world where we don't have pay, you know, we don't have these disparities amongst any women of any race.
MARTIN: But it's a sensitive topic whenever you talk about race whether its police brutality or unequal pay for women, people get really weird about the race conversation.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) right now, and as a white male. I just want to apologize.
MARTIN: You owe us some money John.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE). OK, Serena Williams, she's the highest paid female athlete in the world last year, OK. So, just shy $29 million. The highest paid male athlete was Renaldo more than $90 million including the allegation of tax fraud.
Just to compare Serena, she comes in at number 39. She was on the men list. OK, so I see bump at Emera (ph) which is kind of ironic there. So when it comes to financial sport. We know the argument. Men sport's ball in more revenue, that's why men get paid more.
Is there an argument in to why women of color get paid so much less?
MARTIN: You know what interesting about that statistic about Serena and her male counterparts? This pay equity issue that we're doing with, it just, you know, sport, professional sports or it's not just low income.
MARTIN: It's in law, it's in medicine. It's in tech --
SESAY: It's in television.
[01:55:10] MARTIN: It's in television. It's in a lot of industries where you think, you would think because before educated and more lighten that we wouldn't see such wide disparities but that's not the case. It's across the board. And I think that's what caused Serena to write this very powerful and passionate letter.
But I want to point this up in this positive this afternoon. 2015 in California in asset one of the most aggressive pay equity laws in the nation. And basically change the way court in California could interpret its laws. It said that women admitted doing substantially, not the same but substantially the same jobs had to be paid the same amount.
And that made a huge difference because before that law was passes in 2015, I could be a maid, you the janitor but yet you make more than me even though we were cleaning the same building.
VAUSE: Because it said in 1963 equity pay like Kennedy said the same.
VAUSE: And this is substantially -- OK.
MARTIN: This is substantially the same. Where it makes a big difference, when it also prevented employees for retaliating against employees for talking about this hour is because we know it's important. If I know you're making $2 an hour more than me, I can go to the boss without fear of being fired of discipline.
And that wasn't the case before 2015 in California.
SESAY: Another thing I want to point out that I found interesting from days that Serena Williams uses in this article. According to survey, from Survey Monkey that she on laboratory (ph) she said they found out more than 43 percent of black men, millennial women leave men and women had equal opportunities or promotion. What do you make of that?
MARTIN: They don't know their history. It's not surprising thought to me because, we've been talking a lot about politics. Everyday in country and I remember when we rated 2016 presidential election talking to millennial women about the importance of electing a female president, whether it was Hillary Clinton or anyone else just the important of that. And millennial women said to me, they didn't care because for them women and men had the same opportunities. So they weren't jazz about this woman being the first female president. So I think those numbers mirror that very same attitude.
And unfortunately they need to go and hit the history books because they knew how difficult the struggle has been. I think they have a different --
VAUSE: Where is the good point?
SESAY: Just going to say insurance (ph).
VAUSE: Everybody say good luck and we talk about it. You need to be out there.
SESAY: All right.
VAUSE: Avera, thank you so much.
SESAY: Thank you Avera, appreciate it.
VAUSE: Well, you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And Isha Sesay, we'll be back with much more news right after this.