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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Threatens Media; Harvey Weinstein Investigation; Trump Praises NFL For Anthem Crackdown That Hasn't Happened; Trump Whisperer Tom Barrack: He's Better Than This; Trump Whisperer: I Tell Him I Don't Like The Rhetoric; New Hotel Dispatch Sound As Gunman Opened Fire; MGM Resorts: New Police Timeline May Not Be Accurate; Prosecution Rest In Menendez Corruption Case; Sen. Accused Of Taking Expensive Gifts From Doctor; Boy Scout To Let Girls Join, Attain Eagle Rank. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired October 11, 2017 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Calling his brother Harvey -- quote -- "a very sick man" and a -- quote -- "world-class liar who is looking to blame others."

Here to talk more about the story is Ronan Farrow. He's the author of that deeply disturbing Weinstein expose that ran in "The New Yorker" in which 13 women told him they had been sexually harassed, assaulted or even raped by Weinstein.

Ronan, thanks so much for being here.

RONAN FARROW, "THE NEW YORKER": Good to be here, Jake.

TAPPER: We know that for decades reporters have been trying to get this story into print. You finally did.

How is it that a story with such enormous a scope, such horrific really human rights violations didn't come to public light until now because of you and "The New York Times"?

FARROW: I mean, look, these women describe obviously horrific allegations.

They really tore their guts out, Jake, telling these stories. They had nothing to gain and everything to lose. They were all terrified to do this. And that terror, I think, speaks to the question you're asking. Again and again, they said they feared retaliation. They talked about a vast machine, a legal apparatus that locked them into restrictive nondisclosure agreements in return for payouts, a P.R. apparatus that smeared some of these women.

It is perhaps not coincidental several of them said that in the case you just highlighted of Ms. Gutierrez, several items began to appear as the DA was considering this case about her sexual history, about her past in Italy.

TAPPER: Yes. These stories, they're really human rights abuses. As the reporter

that uncovered so many of them, what was the most horrific part of this for you?

FARROW: You know, I want to highlight one story in particular.

Asia Argento, this Italian actress, told a really horrific story of a rape, and, you know, very credible. Obviously, you wouldn't be reading this in "The New Yorker" if it hadn't checked out to the nth degree.

And she specifically talked a phenomenon that is present in a number of these stories, Jake, which is she went back afterwards. She went back to her alleged attacker. And that was a source of tremendous shame for a lot of these women, that he was enmeshed in their professional lives, that they continued to be afraid in a way that made them submit to him.

That is a facet of sexual assault and harassment that often is very real and it was brave of her to talk about it.

TAPPER: And speaking of Argento, I want to play a clip of a movie directed by her. She is one of the people, as you note, who accuses Weinstein rape.

And that she told you that Weinstein himself saw this clip and recognized this as based on what happened between them. Let's run a little bit of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You know what would be great is if you would give me a massage, just a little massage to make me just relax. Then I can read that little story of yours, you know, that scarlet diva thing.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Little massage?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, yes, just a couple of minutes. Come on, please?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I'm sorry. I don't understand.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: No, no, it will be fine. Just a couple of minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So he tries to entice these women into just an innocent massage and then from there it gets horrific.

FARROW: And, Jake, you know, she talked about how not only did Weinstein she said come up to her and say, I recognize myself, hah- hah, very funny.

She also said woman after woman, including other actresses, came up to her and said they recognized that pattern of behavior. And that's how she came to the conclusion, in her words, that this was a modus operandi.

TAPPER: You know, the board of The Weinstein Company, which includes Harvey's brother, Bob, said that the allegations were an utter surprise to them.

But when you read your story and "The New York Times" story and it's part of the culture obviously at The Weinstein Company. Staff members were clearly part of it. Do you buy it? Do you believe that Bob Weinstein and the board of directors had no idea this was going on?

FARROW: There were 16 former and current executives and assistants that spoke to me for this story who corroborated these allegations, who said they had either personally witnessed things that they were troubled by or participated in what they described as a pattern of meetings that were just sort of thin cover for predatory advances on young women.

This was very enmeshed in company business. And again and again, they said everybody knew, you know? And, you know, I can't speak to what Bob Weinstein knew or didn't know without extensive reporting on that, but I can say that there were a lot of people in this piece saying they knew, and they felt guilty about not speaking out.

TAPPER: An attorney for Mr. Weinstein released a statement about your article, saying -- quote -- "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein." This is Harvey Weinstein.

"Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any woman for refusing his advances. With respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationship were consensual" -- unquote.

Might Weinstein, do you think, face some sort of legal action in the wake of this story?

FARROW: Look, obviously, this was a "New Yorker" piece. He had a very fair opportunity to comment and give input and begin discussions about this piece.

And he said these things, that this was not consensual, that there was no retaliation. The women tell a very different story, and we have seen in previous cases of this kind that, you know, at this point, after the revelations come, there are decisions in the hands of these women.

[16:35:03]

And I'm not going to speak to specific legal or other remedies that are available to them. But I know that I'm still talking to a large number of these women, and that they continue to be committed to, you know, exposing a culture of silence around this.

TAPPER: You mentioned earlier the smearing of the Italian model who went to the police after he allegedly assaulted her.

And I want to talk to you about the media complicity in this outrageous story, because, in 2015, specifically "The New York Post" devoted its cover to smearing the actress I mentioned earlier, and model, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, reporting -- quote -- "The model accusing Harvey Weinstein of molestation tried to score a movie role."

We just ran a picture of the tabloid cover. That's only one of the many, many attacks on Battilana that appeared in the press after she accused Weinstein.

The media, some in the media, not everyone in the media, but the media really played a role in serving as Harvey Weinstein's enforcer. And the media, some in the media are responsible for this happening, this continuing to happen. They have assault and rape on their hands, in my view.

FARROW: So, you know, in the story itself, there is a young woman named Emily Nestor, who also did a very brave thing going on the record, and she said she actually witnessed a case of this transpiring in real time, where Mr. Weinstein was enraged about a dispute that was happening with one of his -- an actress in one of his films in the press, and was, you know, talking about planting stories, she said, and in a threatening way, she felt, told her, watch the news cycle. There will be negative items about my opponents in this.

And, indeed, there were. And he came by her desk at the company after this alleged sexual harassment and said, did you see?

And that is something that was tremendously frightening to a lot of these women, Jake, and absolutely is a huge part of this story.

TAPPER: Now, you reported this originally for NBC News, but you ultimately took it to "The New Yorker" in order to find a media outlet that would run it.

An NBC source told The Daily Beast -- quote -- "He brought NBC News early reporting on Weinstein that didn't meet the standard to go forward with the story. It was nowhere close to what ultimately ran. At that time, he didn't have one accuser willing to go on the record or identify themselves. The story he published is radically different than what he brought to NBC News" -- unquote.

That seems like a real lie to me. My understanding is while the story was at NBC, you had three named women, the full NYPD audio and every one of the quoted executives and employees that you referenced earlier in your story, you had them all. What's the truth here?

FARROW: Look, Jake, you understand this. These are human rights abuses, as you said. These are women coming forward with a very, very hard set of stories.

And I really want the focus to be on them and what they did and continuing their fight.

You know, look, the media piece of this is a conversation that can unfold over time. I have already spoken as of last night on "The Rachel Maddow Show." I was confronted with a question I didn't expect. And I answered it honestly. I understand now that NBC is no longer claiming that I brought this story to them. It was assigned at NBC. And they have talked about how long it was there and the fact there was a lot while it was there.

I truly do think it's very important for us to stay focused on the women here.

TAPPER: All right. I can't disagree with that.

Ronan Farrow, thank you so much for your time.

FARROW: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks for the excellent reporting. I appreciate it.

FARROW: Appreciate it.

TAPPER: Is President Trump taking his media name-calling a step further? Now he's actually threatening action. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:42:50]

TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead now.

President Trump suggesting earlier that media outlets that report critically on him should be punished. He tweeted today -- quote -- "With all fake news coming out of NBC and the networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license? Bad for country!"

This comes after an NBC News report that the White House and Defense Secretary Mattis call false that the president -- quote -- "wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal."

My political panel is here to discuss with me to discuss this and much, much more.

So, am I over-reading this? I'm going to take this seriously, but not literally, that he actually thinks that there should be some sort of way that the media companies can be punished or their licenses can be taken away if they report critically on him. Am I being unfair?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, that's what it sounded like. That's now how this works. That's not how any of this works.

And I suppose he's referring to broadcast licensing, which is thankfully a bit of an anachronism. We can all get access to many forms of media outside of that.

TAPPER: Yes. People are on the Internet now.

HAM: But it's not allowed at all to discriminate those licenses based on the content of that programming, because of free speech and all that good stuff.

TAPPER: It's just astounding, but it's almost like we don't even -- if President Obama said that about FOX News -- and he certainly was harsh about FOX News, but if he said something about taking away their licenses, I can't even imagine.

The world would explode, Friday.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: But, look, he's not -- President Trump is not really known as a big free speech advocate, actually. He's talked a lot about wanting to change libel laws.

He doesn't -- he thinks that, you know -- yes, I do think he think if you say something critical about him, that he should be able to sue you and has a pretty an unusual position for somebody who is in the Republican Party today, right?

Because this is not the conservative position today on free speech. It's really become an issue that conservatives take pretty seriously.

HAM: But he has a transactional relationship with freedom of speech, as he does with so many other things. Like, if this is bugging me at the moment, I don't like it. Get it out of here.

TAPPER: Take a listen to President Trump this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, speaking of people who write whatever they want to write, I mean, President Trump was -- he wrote something false on his Twitter feed today about the NFL and the reason why they're imposing -- or not imposing -- but their stance on the national anthem.

[16:45:00]

He doesn't seem to understand that the biggest purveyor of false news, fake news, is him. And it just blows my mind that he thinks, like, well they shouldn't be able to print this, but I can say and print whatever I want.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: Yes, I mean, I think there are two parts here that often one side doesn't recognize the other one. The President and the press can lose credibility and have credibility to give away and too often are giving it away on both sides. I don't even mind the President as a media critic and taking some shots every now and then. And I think many in America don't mind every now and then, because when you get things wrong, and sometimes we don't admit it, but this is when you go too far and you can't punish them and people can write whatever they want. That's how this works. TAPPER: Yes, turning to what he said today about the NFL, he tweeted,

it is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players stand for our great national anthem, respect our country. Now, the NFL is disputing that the President's tweet is a correct interpretation of what they're doing. It's not happening, at least not as of now. There is something that they're going to unveil to team owners. But there are those who say that the President, by getting team owners and Goodell to kind of hug and lean towards the flag and the anthem and against the demonstrations during the anthem, that he's won this chapter in the culture war, this battle in the culture war. Do you agree?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: I -- oh no, go ahead.

HAM: I think we're all losing.

TAPPER: Just because we're all being divided?

HAM: Yes, but, look, I do think -- I do think his was -- as often, his gut instincts correct, that people react viscerally to a protest that happens with the flag and happens with the anthem, even though there's another part to it. It's more complex. He is right, that there's a whole group of people, millions of people he was speaking for in part of that. The NFL, I think, is probably going to overcorrect and tick off all the people who weren't ticked off already because the NFL is bad at doing things and Roger Goodell is bad at doing things.

POWERS: Yes, but also, I just think it's important to remember that Donald Trump, I don't think really cares that much about the patriotism and the flag. And we've seen the way he talks about some patriots in our country, John McCain --

TAPPER: Like John McCain, yes.

POWERS: That's not really what this is about. This is a culture war that he saw he could get in the middle of and he could, you know, win over his base and make his base happy. I don't believe he personally cares one way or the other about the fact that -- about the national anthem. And I also think there is no -- there is no way that these players could protest, even if it didn't involve the national anthem, that Donald Trump would be OK with, right? If they waited and did it after the anthem and say they decided to come out and just put their fists up and say something, are we supposed to believe Donald Trump would just be like, oh, that's great, we love -- we love that protest. He would find another reason to have another problem with it.

TAPPER: Interesting comments today from Tom Barrack, he's a close friend of Mr. Trump. He's been called the Trump whisperer. He was the Chairman of the Republican -- of the Inaugural and he spoke at the convention. And he said this to the Washington Post, "Trump thinks he has to be loyal to his base. I keep on saying, but who is your base? You don't have a natural base. Your base now the world and America, so you have all these constituencies, show them who you really are. In my opinion, he's better than this." Meaning he's better than what we're seeing. Barrack also said he was shocked and stunned by some of the President's rhetoric and tweets. This is one of the President's closest friends. He's been talked about theoretically as possibly a new Chief of Staff if Kelly leaves. Do you see this as something of an intervention? What is this?

HAM: Well, it does seem interesting that a lot of these folks are going to the press and saying these kinds of things and he's, of course, a very close friend. He's famous for the fact he can disagree with the President and remain a close friend. I guess we'll see because the end of that is that he's better than this, seems like something that might tick President Trump off. But I think he's a valuable person to have if he can indeed disagree with him and stay a close friend because he needs someone like that.

TAPPER: It seems like a pretty shocking thing for a good pretend to say to the Washington Post. Not to be overheard saying it, and not to, you know, not to saying it to President Trump, he's better than this.

POWERS: Yes, but also, I just have to ask myself, is he better than this? Like, what's the evidence that he's better than this? And in the article, I don't feel he offered anything even at one point referred to how Donald Trump is seen as being this very selfish, self- involved person. And so, how does he manage to be friends with him for so long? And he said it's -- you know because he doesn't need anything from him and he's always sort of subservient to him. Well, I mean, I didn't see him painting another picture. Like, who is the real Donald Trump that we're not seeing? I don't understand.

TAPPER: That's a good question.

HAM: Like, the real slim shady, please, stand up.

TAPPER: Yes. It's nice, Eminem is in the news. Barrack said, quote, I tell him all the time, I don't like the rhetoric. So if the President is not listening presumably to Ivanka Trump and not listening to Tom Barrack, one of his oldest and dearest friends, obviously not listening to former Marine General John Kelly quite often, is there anyone he listens to?

HAM: I'm going to think that's been the question. When Kelly came into the administration, the question was, look, can he put some more order into different ways that the administration does something? Sure. But can you fundamentally change this human being? I doubt it. And the key is to have somebody in the room who can disagree with him that he might actually listen to. I'm not convinced there is that person, even Tom Barrack.

[16:50:17] TAPPER: Final thought?

POWERS: Yes, I think that he -- he's doing what he does to get his hit from his base, right? And so something has to change, where someone can convince him that he can get the attention that he craves from someone else. And right now there's just a certain part of the population that likes what he's doing and a certain part of the population that doesn't. And I think he's going to continue to cater to those people. TAPPER: And the majority of the population is the majority. It

doesn't like what he's doing. All right, great job. Thanks so much, Mary Katherine and Kirsten Powers. A major change coming to the Boy Scouts of America, that story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: We're back with our "NATIONAL LEAD." And just in to CNN, the haunting radio call to hotel dispatch the night of the Las Vegas massacre. MGM Hotel Engineer Stephen Schuck describing shots fired as he hides. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHEN SCHUCK, ENGINEER, MGM HOTEL: Call the police. Someone's firing a gun up here. Someone's firing a rifle on the 32nd floor down the hallway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Base to 106 Stephen. Security wants to know if you know a room?

SCHUCK: It's at the end of the hallway. I can't -- I can't tell you what room. He looked like he fired down the hallway when I got close to the door.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: The casino released this audio to CNN on the heels of a potential face-off between MGM and law enforcement over recent shift in the timeline by law enforcement. Earlier this week, police said a hotel security guard discovered and was shot by the shooter six minutes before he opened fire into the concert crowd, not as was originally reported as the shooting was starting. And MGM Resorts Spokesperson reacted to that version of events saying, "We cannot be certain about the most recent timeline that has been communicated publicly and we believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate." Law enforcement pushing back now with a source close to the investigation telling CNN's Kyung Lah, "Our timeline is pretty accurate with all the facts known."

Now to politics, and the government now resting its federal corruption case against Democratic Senator Bob Mendez of New Jersey. Menendez is accused of accepting expensive gifts including private jet rides and swanky vacations to the Dominican Republic and Paris from a wealthy eye doctor friend Salomon Melgen. In exchange, prosecutors say Menendez used his position to push the federal government to take actions that would benefit Melgen, whom the federal government alleges owed them almost $9 million in a billing dispute. CNN's Laura Jarrett has been following this trial from the beginning. She joins me live from the Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey. Laura, what's the most damning evidence as the Menendez defense begins to make its case.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Jake, after 18 days of testimony and 35 different witnesses, some of the most striking evidence to date has been the Senator's own words. As you mentioned, the prosecutor's theory here is that Menendez put his thumb on the scale, trying to pressure different federal officials to weigh in on this $8.9 million billing dispute to help Melgen out.

And recently, the prosecutors introduced the series of e-mails showing the extent to which Menendez worked with his staff behind the scenes, including a 2009 e-mail in which Menendez directed his then Chief of Staff to, "find out and determine who has the best juice at the Department of Health and Human Services. Now, prosecutors love this e-mail because they say it shows his corrupt intent in this whole bribery scheme. But the defense attorneys say he did nothing wrong here, and this was actually part of a larger concern that Menendez had about policy issues concerning overbilling practices at the Department of Health and Human Services.

TAPPER: You know, what's interesting in this trial and others like it is what is legal and what isn't legal in a system where politicians are constantly grubbing for money and doing favors for donors and constituents and where does a quid pro quo happen and where does not? Where can one not be proven? And the judge last week suggested he was being careful to not repeat what he referred to as the Bob McDonald case, the former Virginia Governor, where the Supreme Court threw out McDonald's bribery conviction. How could this case resemble that in a real concrete way?

JARRETT: Yes, Jake. The judge has really zeroed in on the McDonald decision, which has proved to be somewhat of a legal bogeyman, if you will, for prosecutors because what it did is it raised the bar on what's now required to get someone on the hook in a bribery case. And as you mentioned, setting up a meeting or, you know, trying to get a friend to get a phone call is now not enough, said the Supreme Court, and instead what you need to show is that a federal official, a politician, put his thumb on the scale or pressured somebody else to act on an ongoing proceeding or a lawsuit. Now, prosecutors say that's exactly what Menendez did by reaching out to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or Kathleen Sebelius, but the defense lawyers say, no, that's not what he did, he didn't target subordinates.

TAPPER: All right, Laura Jarrett, thank you so much.

Finally today in our "NATIONAL LEAD," Armstrong -- Astronaut Neil Armstrong, President Gerald Ford, former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, Director Stephen Spielberg, all of them earned the honor to be called Eagle Scouts. And today, girls can officially join their ranks. The Boy Scouts Board of Directors unanimously voted today to welcome girls into their program starting in 2018, allowing girls to eventually earn the highest honor of Eagle Scout. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. You can follow me on Twitter @JAKETAPPER. Turning you over now to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."