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CNN NEWSROOM

All Eyes Are On Texas; Steve Bannon Has Declared Literal War Against The Gop Establishment; Sergeant La David Johnson Laid To Rest Today; Russians Who Met With Keyed Trump Officials At Trump Tower Have Spoken To Senate Investigators; Stunning Record Reveals Incredible New Details About The Lengths That Russia Went To To Legitimize Its Troll Accounts To Social Media And Influence American Voters; Former Fox News Host Bill O'reilly Settled A Sexual Harassment Claim To The Tune Of $32 Million; Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 21, 2017 - 16:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:00:11] PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: And you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday. I'm Pamela Brown in for Ana Cabrera. Great to have you along with us.

Today eyes are on Texas where we will soon witness an incredibly rare sight, all five living former Presidents together in the same room. They have (INAUDIBLE) hurricane relief concert and President Trump noticeably will not be there. You will recall, it has only been a few days since President George W. Bush and Barack Obama delivered thinly veiled attacks against the commander in-chief. And last night Steve Bannon, President Trump's defender on the outside, fired back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: President Bush to me embarrassed himself. Speech writer wrote highfaluting speech. It is clear he didn't understand anything he was talking about. He has no earthly idea whether he was coming or going, just like he was when he was President of the United States. There's not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush's.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: CNN's Boris Sanchez will live right outside the White House, and our Kaylee Hartung is live at the Hurricane relief benefit in Texas.

Boris, first to you. Bannon has declared literal war against the GOP establishment, and he delivered that speech at the California GOP it convention. We know Steve Bannon and President Trump remains close. Does the White House endorse Bannon's attacks?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Pam, we asked the White House for comment on Bannon's statement. We have yet to hear back. But you will recall that earlier this week on Monday when the President held a joint press briefing with senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, he was asked about Bannon's attacks on McConnell and other Republicans. And he said that Steve Bannon is a friend and that he is doing what he believes is best for the country.

However, Bannon's attacks on establishment Republicans in office now is different than what we saw from Bannon yesterday when he was viciously going after a former President, questioning his intelligence, questioning whether or not President George W. Bush knew the words that he was saying during his speech on Thursday, in which he warned about the dangers of nativism and talked about problems with protectionism. He also went on to say that bigotry is emboldened in the United States, and we should be wary of conspiracy theories because the democracy is now more susceptible to them.

So former President Bush didn't directly signal President Trump or Steve Bannon. But if you read between the lines, it's pretty clear what he was talking about. Beyond that, Bannon has been recruiting candidates and raising funds to challenge a lot of establishment Republicans currently in office in the midterm elections of 2018. So it's a delicate balance between kind of towing the line of his base right there at the Breitbart base and working with those like Mitch McConnell who the President needs to appease in order to get a lot done on his agenda including tax reform or changes to the affordable care act, Pam.

BROWN: You talk about President Bush, he will be at this concert along with four other living former Presidents.

Kaylee, someone noticeably will not be there joining them and that is current President Trump. Do we know why we won't be there?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, it's been surprisingly difficult to get an answer to a seemingly different question -- was President Trump invited to join all five former living Presidents? The answer we get when asking that question is that he will be appearing tonight via a previously recorded video message. It's a two-minute message. We have a clip of it for you here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we begin to rebuild, some of the America's finest a public servants are spearheading the one America appeal. Through this effort, all five lives former Presidents are playing a tremendous role in helping our fellow citizens recover.

To Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, Melania and I want to express or deep gratitude for your tremendous assistance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: A message of unity and gratitude from President Trump there. But it's no secret, there's no love lost between President Trump and the Bushes or the Clintons or Barack Obama. But we do know tonight that we will see all five former living Presidents on stage together. Four of them will address the crowd in short remarks that I'm told will focus on volunteerism and the American spirit. President George H. W. Bush, as you know, no longer speaks publicly. But Pamela, it will be a unique sight to see tonight.

BROWN: Certainly a rare moment.

Kaylee Hartung and Boris Sanchez, thank you both so much.

And I want to bring in our panel to discuss all of this. We have with today "the Washington Post" political reporter Eugene Scott, and deputy managing editor of "the weekly standard" Kelly Jane Torrance.

Thank you both for coming on.

Kelly Jane, first to you. It seems pretty remarkable that a crowd at a Republican convention about as loyal and establishment as you can get would be booing a former Republican President. Is the Republican Party at war with itself? What does it tell you about where things stand within the GOP?

[16:05:27] KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It is at war with itself. And you can kind of tell that by the reaction from the crowd. I mean, you did have some people boos George Bush. And when Steve Bannon made his remarks, some of which were quite nasty about George W. Bush, you heard a few laughs from the audience. But it was not an overwhelmingly anti-Bush crowd. It was definitely a mixed crowd.

And you know, I don't know if the GOP is at war with itself so much as it's undergoing a hostile takeover right now from people like Steve Bannon who, his words, he literally seems to have said he is declaring war on the Republican Party. He is out to get what he considered establishment candidates. And of course, he never really, you know, defines what an establishment candidate is. What do these people believe that he is so against? I mean, he talks generally about protectionism, America first. But when you talk about, I just want to get people out of there because they have been in the party for a while, then you start to wonder what his real motives are.

BROWN: Right. And it's clear what he didn't like about President Bush's speech in particular is he focus on globalism, whereas Steve Bannon has a very different viewpoint when it comes to nationalism.

Eugene, I want to bring you because the President, as we all know seems to strive in chaos. Today, La David Johnson, one of the soldiers killed in Niger, he was laid to rest in Florida. But the President did pay respect to him on twitter. Instead, he went after and stoke the flames of that controversy surrounding congresswoman Wilson, who is close to the family, who has this back and forth with the White House this week.

Here's what he tweeted. He says I hope the fake news media keeps talking about wacky congresswoman Wilson in that she as a representative is killing the Democratic Party.

Again this is the same day that La David Johnson is laid to rest in Florida. Is he trying to deflect here?

EUGENE SCOTT, POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: What he is trying to be consistent with his base. And what his base has rallied behind if you see other tweets is attacking Representative Wilson, because we are in such a tribalistic (ph) partisan time.

The President has sent more tweets attacking Congresswoman Wilson than he sent honoring those four soldiers who died no Niger altogether. And the reality of the matter is we still do not know what happened in Niger. And that's where the focus should be or what happened to these servicemen who put their lines on the line in the military organization, a community that the President says he values so much. He just hasn't been forward and forthcoming with why they were even there. And I think a lot of Americans still have questions.

BROWN: Yes. The White House has been pretty silent on the whole matter, saying that, you know, once DOD that continue the investigation, doesn't want to speak until it concludes.

And Kelly Jane, just in terms of optics here, you have a soldier laid to rest today, five former Presidents raising money for hurricane relief. Meanwhile, President Trump is golfing and tweeting attacks against a congresswoman. Is this a missed opportunity to lead, for President Trump?

TERRANCE: It is. You know, Eugene made a great point talking about how Trump says he values the military. I mean, he values it so much he doesn't think you should be able to question a four-star general. But how much does he value it when he spent - I mean, I was curious about this concert tonight, you know. I thought maybe it was a last- minute thing they couldn't do the logistic in time. It was announced to the public on October 4th. It's now October 21st. If they wanted Trump wanted to be there, if he wanted to be there, it would not have been a problem.

But you know, I have to wonder, if you are one of the former living presidents, do you want to be on the stage with the guy who just a few days ago claimed the no other president has really called the families of fallen soldiers. And you look at what these five men.

And you know, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, these are, you know, these are old I guys. Their health is not that great and they are getting up on stage. They are getting there to encourage people to help relief efforts. And you know, Donald Trump has an amazing megaphone with his twitter account. Millions of people read it, you know. Networks like this one, CNN broadcast what he is tweeting. And instead of talking about fallen soldiers, instead of encouraging other Americans to help with relief efforts, he is going after, you know, a congresswoman and, you know, the fake media. It's really quite incredible that he has an opportunity to help Americans, and he's just not using it.

BROWN: Well, and he said - I mean, he admitted that he knows how powerful this platform is. And he told FOX Business News, as soon as I tweet, it's on your, you know, on your show two seconds later. He knows the kind of effect it has.

[16:10:02] TERRANCE: Exactly. BROWN: Eugene, I want to go to you now because at a dinner earlier

this week, how speaker Paul Ryan went through a list of facts that people might not know about them. It was supposed to be a joke, but one of these facts was particularly interesting. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Every morning, I wake up in my office and I scroll twitter to see which tweets that I will have to pretend I did not see later on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: OK. So it was meant to be a joke, but do you think there is some truth to that?

SCOTT: Absolutely. I mean, when the President tweets things that people find problematic or just leave the press with more questions, we tend to go to everyone who can provide some perspective, which would include the house speaker.

Very often, the House speaker does not want to comment on these tweets, because as you just say, he wants to pretend that he didn't even see them. Both the President and Ryan are here to serve the American people. And when you are talking about hurricane relief and tax reform and healthcare and these issues that many Americans consider priorities when they went to the election booth in November, they need more than 140 characters. And unfortunately the President and his communications shop has not been as forth coming with the questions that the people have, especially on this issue in Niger that we were talking about earlier. We saw that even John McCain even said that he has received insufficient information on it and he is the top Republican in the Senate on armed services. And there is just so much more that needs to be known by everyone.

BROWN: Right. Sarah Sanders was asked about it repeatedly yesterday at the White House briefing and she just would say, look, DOD is investigating. We will let you know when we learn more.

Thank you both. Thanks for coming on. We do appreciate it.

TERRANCE: Thanks, Pamela.

SCOTT: Thank you.

BROWN: And coming on this Saturday, sergeant La David Johnson laid to rest today as we learn new details of the ambushed that killed him. Much more when we come back.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:16:04] BROWN: In South Florida today, a day of unthinkable sadness and loss for the family of a U.S. soldier killed in combat overseas. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

BROWN: That is La David Johnson's wife kissing his casket. She is six months pregnant, a widow now dealing with the loss of her husband killed in Niger. So this is the final resting place of Johnson, 25 years old killed earlier this month during an ISIS ambush in Niger.

Three other American soldiers killed in that ambushed, along with him. And despite new details emerging this weekend, there are still so many unanswered question about what happened to that American unit October 4th.

CNN senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski joins me now from Washington.

So Michelle, what more are we learning about that weekend, the deployment to Niger and what happened to those soldiers?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Just a few more details. And some of it is just sorting out confusion and some back and forth there' has been over the last few days. I mean, from what U.S. officials are saying now, these troops were working with Nigerians. They were on their way to a meeting. They have stopped at a village so that the Nigerians could get some supplies. Then they had a meeting with local leaders.

It's believed now the U.S. troops were leaving that meeting and they were already in their unarmored vehicles when this attack by around 50 ISIS fighters began, although that's not 100 percent. There was some conflicting reporting that maybe they weren't even in their vehicles yet, you know, contributing to the risk of casualties. At any rate, that's something that the investigation is obviously working on.

There's also a question over when La David Johnson was somehow separated from his fellow troops and then found 48 hours later about a mile away, was there a sort of tracking signal coming from him, might that, though, have been coming from a vehicle instead?

So there are questions over what exactly happened and what was the situation on the ground? But then bigger questions over how it happened in the first place. Questions about the Intel and the coordination among U.S., Nigerian and French troops.

BROWN: Yes. So that just sort of basic facts. We still don't know.

Michelle Kosinski, thank you so much.

And a U.S. senator on the arm services committee says that this attack shows where the U.S. war on terror is heading. Take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The war is headed to Africa. It's beginning to morph, as we suppress the enemy in the Middle East, they are going to move. They are not going to quit. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Retired army colonel Steve Warren is our military analyst. Also here is Bob Anderson, former head of the FBI's cybercrime division.

Thank you both, gentlemen, for coming on.

Colonel Warren, first to you. Is Senator Graham right? Is the war sort of heading toward Africa more and more?

COL. STEVE WARREN (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you, Pamela.

Senator Graham is spot on in this case, in my view. The war will continue to morph. We see these radical jihadist forces looking for a home. And what they look for is ungoverned spaces, fragile central government as areas where they can plant their flag, where there's ample opportunity to recruit new followers and continue to build up their forces.

He is also right in the second sense that he didn't even really touch on. And it's, you know, what we have seen in Niger, is in many ways the future if how we will fight this counterterror war. It is small special forces who go in and attempt to strengthen and support the local indigenous militaries and governments and in an effort to attack and to beat back these burgeoning terror forces.

[16:20:23] BROWN: No. I mean, if that's the case, what can we do to prevent a similar attack happening in the future? As it has been reported, they were in unarmed vehicles. There wasn't any overhead cover. I mean, what needs to change to prevent this from happening again?

WARREN: In every case, what we are going to have to do now, is figure out other resource allocation. You know, we saw the commander of U.S. Africa command testify on Capitol Hill just this past March and talk about the fact that because it's Africa and today the priority is the Middle East, he only gets about 20 to 30 percent of the intelligence assets that he requires or that he believes he needs. And so, as we see the fight begin to shift, we are we are going to have to now analyze where we place our resources.

BROWN: Bob, I want to bring you in because we have learned that the FBI is now assisting the Pentagon's investigation in to this deadly attack in Niger. What does the FBI bring to the table in an investigation like this?

BOB ANDERSON, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI'S CRIMINAL AND CYBER DIVISION: Yes. Pamela, great to see you again, unfortunately, under these circumstances.

What the FBI will do will bring a specialized team of people on the ground that won't only just look at the evidence part of the scene which would be ballistics and everything that happened at the ambush site, but really, allow everything to see a time line of exactly what happened. I'm sure they have already talked to the troops who are on the ground

during this incident, both our own troops and the troops of Niger. They will also look at all of the logistics. On the back end side of that, they are going to be working with the country that is hosting our troops there as well as working with the United States intelligence organizations to see if there is any type of communications that we could pick up our determined if there's a planned or subsequent hasty attack on our troops.

I think really what is going to come out this through the men and women on the ground working with was department and defense and military troops is kind of razor point timeline on exactly what happened and where and why it happened.

BROWN: And they are working in tandem as we speak.

I'm curious, Bob, what the significant is because we have heard Michelle Kosinski say that Johnson, La David Johnson who was found a mile may have been a tracking vehicle on him, were may have in the vehicle. What is the significance of that? What does that mean?

ANDERSON: Well, it depends. I mean, in these types of incidents, and I'm sure Steve will agree, I mean, the last thing that anybody in those teams are going to want to do is leave anybody behind, quite frankly. So they would have, in some instances the ability to track vehicles and/or personnel. And I think in any fog of war and confuse in one of these sites, I think we really need to wait until the FBI and the department of defense comes out with a full report.

There's different things, obviously, and Steve can talk to this, that you do during ambush situation, one is an attempt to drive through it, other times you have to engage. So I think there could be a variety of issues in potentially why this individual was found a mile away.

BROWN: Go ahead.

WARREN: Pamela, you know in, all of human endeavor, there is nothing that compares to a fire fight as far as the confusion, the fear, the screams, the blood, the terror that permeates. And number one is that confusion. And you know, having been there, I'll tell you, you don't know where the bullets are coming from. You don't know which way to turn. There's only 12 guys, you have five down, right? Three killed initially and two wounded. You need at least one American to take care of each of that. So now, your 12 is down to 10. One guy separated. The confusion is something that I don't think most people can understand. And that's what really leads us to this.

BROWN: Not unless you've been there like you, you know?

WARREN: Again, it's like nothing else any other human endeavor.

You know, it is interesting, as we try and we, you know, we look, it's been two weeks now, why don't we know this detail and that detail? But I will tell you, you know, this is the middle of nowhere. It's like the surface of the moon as far as its remoteness. And you know, just look to Las Vegas, where even now we are still seeing revisions of the timeline. This is a place that's blanketed in TV cameras and there's all sorts of eyes in Vegas, unlike you know, in Africa where there's almost nothing. So it will take some time. Hopefully, we are so grateful to have experts like the FBI there to really help piece this all together.

BROWN: All right. Colonel Warren, Bob Anderson. Thank you so much.

ANDERSON: Thanks, Pam.

WARREN: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: And coming up on this Saturday, the Russians who met with keyed Trump officials at Trump tower have spoken to Senate investigators. Details on that when we come back.

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[16:29:15] BROWN: Well, CNN has learned that Russians present at that now infamous 2016 meeting at Trump tower last summer have been interviewed by Senate intel investigators. This according to Senator Richard Burr, who is the chairman of the committee, who stopped short of revealing exactly who has been questioned, which Russians. And while the month-long probe into Russian and Trump campaign collusion continues, the President on a FOX Business interview airing Sunday, is calling this federal investigation quote "bad for the country."

I want to discuss this now with CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin.

Michael, thanks for coming on.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: My pleasure.

BROWN: So the President says, this is bad for the country. This investigation is bad for country. Do you agree?

ZELDIN: No, I think it's important for us to know whether or not there was collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russians. I think it's important to know what the Russians did with respect to tampering with the election, irrespective of whether there is collusion at the end. I think it's important to know what Paul Manafort or General Flynn may have done. I think these are important things to give confidence that we know what happened. We know how to prevent it. We know who is responsible, if there is anyone that is responsible, and then we can move on from that. But to call it a witch-hunt or bad for democracy, I think misses the point.

[16:30:34] BROWN: From the White House perspective, you know, it's clear the President does not like the shadow hanging over his first year in office, but I have heard from people that the concern is also that it's hurting foreign affairs, dealing with foreign leaders, that this is brought up that the President is under investigation.

Do you think that Mueller, at some point, if there isn't any evidence against the President should come out even before the investigation wraps up to say, look, this investigation is ongoing, but the President isn't a target of the investigation. ZELDIN: Probably, if it was determined that there was no collusion

that involved the President personally.

BROWN: Or obstruction of justice.

ZELDIN: Or obstruction of justice, then there is no reason why Mueller couldn't do that. There's no with four, five work streams that he is undertaking. There is no reason why he can't say this work stream is tied up and we are done with and here is our findings. But we're still working on others.

So I don't think there's anything wrong with that. The problem is it's hard to get to the ultimate question of what was the involvement of the Trump campaign with respect to collusion, and what if any role did President Trump have in obstructing the investigation, until pretty late in the process.

BROWN: Right, because they have just started really the first round of interviews with White House officials and former officials, Reince Priebus, former chief of staff, Sean Spicer, and General Kellogg. What does that tell you that they're just beginning those interviews?

ZELDIN: That's right. So if you got concentric circles, they are still in the outer ring. I mean, nobody in the White House presently, hope hicks, who would know a lot about the communications. I don't know that she has been interviewed. And others who are presently in the White House, we have all go to former. So we are moving in, as you would normally do, and I think we have got, you know, weeks or months still to go.

BROWN: Let me just quickly ask you this. I have spoken to people close to the President who said if Mueller wanted to interview him that they would actually advise against it. What do you think about that?

ZELDIN: The White House would absolutely advise against it. I think that the White House wants to wait until the very end to see, one, where they can avoid an interview altogether or two, if they have to have an interview, they have that interview after they know as much as is possibly knowable about this. Because people have said, one, you want to know your enemy, if you will, has on you. But second, people have said Trump's greatest liability is with respect to whether he will tell you truth, just like with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

HARTUNG: We saw where that went.

ZELDIN: So that is something that they are really trying to avoid.

BROWN: All right. Michael, stick around because we have some new reporting on those Russian ads on Facebook and how they targeted voters in the U.S.

But first here's a look at this week's "fresh money."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) EMILY WEISS, FOUNDER, GLOSSIER: Glossier is different in many ways from most beauty companies. First of all, we have a highly curated collection of products. We are not interested in making a bunch of (INAUDIBLE) at the mall. Seeing what sticks. We also are only available direct to consumer. We don't sell through department stores or multi-brand stores. That allows you to do many things. One is, we are able to communicate directly with our customers. We know who exactly who she is, exactly what her preferences are, how to personalize to her needs, and we were able to ask her what she wants.

My relationship with beauty is complex, probably like many women. I think of it like dressing up, like clothing. It's a way to feel good, to feel your best, and to express yourself.

We may by three years old, but to me this is still very much day one. We have such a climb ahead of us to meet the demand, and we have so many more products we are making. I'm definitely restless, which I guess is the key ingredients for being an entrepreneur.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:38:51] BROWN: A stunning record reveals incredible new details about the lengths that Russia went to to legitimize its troll accounts to social media and influence American voters. "The Daily Beast" reports that at least one account now known to be run by Russians was retweeted numerous times by key Trump campaign staffers in the days leading up to last year's election.

Joining me now is senior news editor for "the Daily Beast," Ben Collins and CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin is back with us. He has worked closely with special counsel Robert Mueller in the past.

So Ben, you helped breaks this story, obviously, tell us how this happened. What does this account look like? Who retweeted it? And what this all mean?

BEN COLLINS, SENIOR NEWS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Sure. Sort of pretend to be the Tennessee GOP. That was called underscore GOP. And it would have tweet like most of the stuff it tweeted was standard Republican talking points, anti-Democrat stuff, stuff that you would see on twitter usually. And then every once in a while it sort of veer into Kremlin talking points, up by the Syrian civil war, stuff like Marine Le Pen, even though this is again a Tennessee GOP account for some reason. We found out, you know, last week this was in fact a like based out of the intranet research agency's giant troll farm in Petersburg.

[16:40:04] BROWN: OK. So the key question is, did anyone who is retweeting it from the Trump campaign know that it was actually emanating from a Russian troll farm?

COLLINS: Right. We don't know. We asked the campaign, they did not respond. But we do know that, you know, one week before the election Donald Trump Jr., the President's son, he retweeted a thing about how there was voter fraud in Florida from that account. Kelly Anne Conway two days before the election tweeted some crazy things about Hillary Clinton. Two days before the election. Michael Flynn Jr. who is the son of Michael Flynn, who is you know now a deep part of this Russian investigation, he tweeted this account over 30 times. That was not (INAUDIBLE).

BROWN: Just for context, how dud that compare to just random people on the street retweeting them?

COLLINS: Yes, exactly. So I may have, I don't know, it's possible, I'm just throwing it out there. I know lots of people in the media correspondent. It was a very active account day and night. So it was on manned, I think, maybe a shady thing about this, it was manned 24/7. If it was odds dude in Tennessee, he did not get a lot of sleep.

BROWN: That is really fascinating.

OK, so Michael Zeldin, from Mueller's perspective, I would imagine one of the things you would want to get out with this is, did they know? If they were retweeting a Russian's account, was there any collusion, right? I mean, would that be one of the key questions?

ZELDIN: It may be the $64,000 question, which is collusion or coincidence? And it could be that there's a lot of coincidences that it's an active campaign, and they are active in social media and they are just retweeting stuff that's have interest to them and there is innocence in all behind it or it was coordinated. That is, there was the hacking of the DNC, the hacking of the Podesta emails, the prediction of their release, then their release, then the use of it, and then this targeting campaign that mirrors what Jared Kushner's data analytics campaign.

You can't look at what was going on Facebook and twitter by the Russians, separate from what was going on on twitter and Facebook by Kushner and the data analytics. They just marry up so closely. Could be coincidence. Completely, I'm not accusing anybody of anything or it could be collusive. And I think you talked about this.

COLLINS: Yes. I think the important thing that Michael brings up is this is a holistic thing, right? The pizza gate conspiracy. All of this like really wacky thing, is that were Kremlin talking points. They came from reading too deeply into John Podesta's emails, where in too deeply into the DNC hacks, and they were pushed over and over again by these Russian troll accounts. They would have been very specific things in between like the inspirational post - that they would post. Like if they posed as African-Americans in the United States, they would post 90 percent inspirational and 10 percent things about how Hillary Clinton is running a pedophile operation off a pizza shop. This was coordinated in that capacity. We don't know who it was coordinated with.

BROWN: So legally, what is Mueller looking at? Because, you know, you keep hearing that collusion isn't a crime, so what would the legal ramifications be? ZELDIN: So if the Russians at the Donald Trump Jr. Meeting, for

example, gave something of value to the campaign and the campaign gave something of value back, though that latter part is not required, that could be a conspiracy to violate the election laws, because foreign nationals are not allowed to make contributions.

BROWN: That's up for debate where incriminating information on opponent is actually something of value, right?

ZELDIN: That's right. That's right.

BROWN: I have heard varying opinions on this, that it's sort of unprecedented on this.

ZELDIN: Right. Though opposition research, there are some FEC, Federal Elections Commission, findings that opposition research has a value. And if you donate something of value, it's a contribution. So I think that in the end it would be hard to say this is not a donation of something of value. So there is a potential for violation of federal elections commission laws.

BROWN: And to be clear, they claim they never received anything. But go ahead.

ZELDIN: That's right.

And the second thing is the hacking. There's a computer fraud and abuse act that makes it illegal to hacks somebody's computer. That would be the Russians. Similarly though it would make it a crime for you to make use of that information knowingly. Like receiving stolen property. I steal something, that's a crime. You receive that stolen property, knowing that it's stolen, that's a separate crime.

And so the question here is, did they know that this was hacked information illegally so? Did they agree to use it for their political interests? If so, potential conspiracy to violate the computer fraud and abuse act.

BROWN: Now, these are all under investigation. Of course, they have all claimed innocence. They say they did nothing wrong. But this is all something that Robert Mueller is looking at. Thank you so much.

ZELDIN: Which is why the investigation will take a while.

BROWN: Much to the chagrin of the White House.

Ben Collins and Michael Zeldin, thank you.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

BROWN: And coming up on this Saturday, an explosive report about former FOX News host Bill O'Reilly and the $32 million sexual harassment settlement. The details on that.

But first, in this week's "PARTS UNKNOWN," Anthony Bourdain takes us to a dining scene at the crossroads in Pittsburgh. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:45:19] ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: Since the decline of big steel in the post-war years, leading up to the '60s and beyond Pittsburgh fell on some hard times. But, they say, things are turning around. High tech, medical research, a lot of really good chefs opening very cool restaurants, microbrewers. They say things are turning around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[16:50:48] BROWN: Well, CNN has learned that former FOX News host Bill O'Reilly settled a sexual harassment claim to the tune of $32 million. This is back in January with a longtime FOX News legal analyst. Well, the "New York Times" reports that FOX News went on to resign O'Reilly a month later for a $25 million a year contract before eventually firing him in April.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent Jean Casarez. She joins me now to discuss what we just heard from O'Reilly's representative about this. What have you learned?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we do. That's very interesting. But first, let's look what 21st century FOX's statement as they have given to us.

They say quote "when the company renewed Bill O'Reilly's contract in February, it knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him by Liz Wiehl, but was informed by Mr. O'Reilly that he had settled the matter personally on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company. His new countered made at a time typical for renewals of multi-year talent contract, added protections for the company, specifically aimed at harassment, including that Mr. O'Reilly could be dismissed if the company was made aware of other allegations or if additional relevant information was obtained in a company investigation. The company subsequently acted, based on the terms of this contract."

Obviously they are talking about him leaving the company. Now, we did, just minutes ago, get a statement from Mark Fabiani who is on behalf of Bill O'Reilly. I want to read part of this because I think this is important.

One against the "New York Times" has maliciously smeared Bill O'Reilly, this time even failing to print a sworn affidavit from his personal lawyer, his former lawyer, Lis Wiehl, repudiating all allegations against Bill O'Reilly. The Times ignored that evidence, sworn under oath and chose to rely on an unsubstantiated allegations anonymous source and incomplete, leaked or stolen documents.

BROWN: So this is all very interesting on many levels, but the company here is saying, basically, we knew about that there was a settlement. We didn't know how much it was for, $32 million, but we had not, in the contract in case, there were more allegations. CASAREZ: And I guess the pivotal point of what you are just saying is

they had knowledge. They had knowledge that there was at least an accusation that there could be a lawsuit, and it appears they knew the person involved. And they went on to extend that contract for four more years. They are saying it was a personal situation. They were out of it. They didn't know anything about it.

BROWN: Even though the -- you know, the accuser in this case was a FOX News legal analyst.

CASAREZ: That's right. And Lis Wiehl, is former federal attorney, brilliant woman and author of many books. Just so accomplished in her own right in many ways. And she was on the network for a long time.

BROWN: And to be clear, and as it point on the statement by his spokesperson, I mean, O'Reilly denies all of these allegations, right?

CASAREZ: Yes.

BROWN: Even though that he settled at least in one case about $32 million. He says it's not true.

CASAREZ: Yes, right. Saying there's a conspiracy against him and that settling a case does not mean you are admitting anything, you are settling a case.

BROWN: For $32 million. Again, that's just an astounding amount of money. How unprecedented is a settlement to the tune of millions and millions of dollars in a case like this?

CASAREZ: You know, I think that's a tough question because when you are talking about a confidential settlement, many times you don't know the amount of money because it never comes to life. The "New York Times" is reporting this. They brought it to light. They are saying $32 million and that's huge.

BROWN: And of course, this is all happening in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandals.

CASAREZ: And in the midst before Bill Cosby's retrial.

BROWN: Right. It seems as though -- and of course, Roger Ailes, the sexual harassment claims against him. You know, it seems as though there is sort of a shifting landscape here.

CASAREZ: It's amazing. It is amazing. And it really did start off with Bill Cosby. And then it went on from there. And as you can see, it's just been a continual eye-opener, I think for the last several years now.

[16:55:08] BROWN: Right. And the media, you know, as we have said is playing an important role in terms of bringing some of this to light.

CASAREZ: And one more thing, "New York Times" is also reporting on this case that there was repeated harassment by Bill O'Reilly towards Lis Wiehl. That they had a nonconsensual relationship. That's how it was termed by the "New York Times." And that there was a sending by Bill O'Reilly of salacious electronic communication.

BROWN: All right. Jean Casarez, thank you very much for breaking it down for us here. We appreciate it.

And coming up on this Saturday, heartbreaking video from Hollywood Florida, where sergeant La David Johnson was laid to rest this afternoon. The touching moment from the funeral and the latest on the ambush that kills him.

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