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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Aaron Hernandez Trial Update; Examining a Possible Police Dog Mauling of a Suspect in Custody; Russell Crowe Directs, Stars In New Film; New Book Reveals Secrets Of First Families; Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired April 7, 2015 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Susan, no witnesses to the crime, no weapon. Does the prosecution have a chance here?
[16:30:00] SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake.
Well, the prosecutors would argue that they do have a chance. And here's why. They believe that they have been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Aaron Hernandez is the one who put this plot together, who orchestrated it, who called up the victim the night of the murder, picked him up at his house, and then drove him -- on video, you see this -- into an industrial park.
And when Aaron Hernandez drove home, Odin Lloyd was no longer alive. And authorities also say that they think they have proven the fact that he had a gun in his hand before he left his house and again after Odin Lloyd is murdered.
Now, the defense will say, you didn't prove it at all. In fact, you haven't even proven a solid motive. For the first time, the defense acknowledged that Aaron Hernandez was at the crime scene, but this time they said this. He just witnessed a crime that he had no idea was going to happen. And you can't charge him with anything that happened after that because he's only charged with murder. He was only a witness.
We will see what the jury thinks.
TAPPER: And, Susan, there's been a lot of talk by court observers about Hernandez's -- for want of a better word, his swagger in court. Do you think his body language has been a turnoff to the jury at all?
CANDIOTTI: Well, here's why it won't be. It's because, when the jury is present and the cameras are rolling and the trial is going on, he has been all business.
It is only after the jury leaves and when he comes and goes from court where he is smiling, where he is laughing, when he is joking with his relatives, including his fiancee. Even after the jury went out to begin deliberations today, Jake, Aaron Hernandez was turning and carrying on quite a long conversation with his fiancee, laughing with her and appearing pretty self-confident.
So maybe at least that's how he's looking on the outside. Who knows whether he's nervous on the inside. After all, he could be spending the rest of his life behind bars if he is found guilty of first-degree murder.
TAPPER: Susan Candiotti, thank you so much.
Our coverage of this case continues this evening. Watch a CNN special report, "Downward Spiral: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez." That begins tonight at 9:00 Eastern on CNN.
In other national news today: a family demanding answers after a man dies in police custody. Now new cell phone video of the arrest shows a police dog attacking the man. Was this excessive force? We will watch that video and talk about it next.
[16:36:41] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
The national lead now. We want you to see a brand-new video raising questions about whether a man who died in police custody was mauled by a police dog. The cell phone images show the canine over the man's head. You can also see officers huddled over him. This was last Tuesday in Cumberland County, New Jersey. This cell phone video now emerging on local news in the area.
The man on the ground, Phillip White, died shortly after this confrontation.
Let's bring in CNN's Atika Shubert.
Atika, what are police saying about this incident?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, immediately after the incident, the Cumberland County police chief called Phillip White's death a tragedy. But that was last week. And since then, this very disturbing video has now surfaced.
Now, police, we called them today. They referred us to the prosecutor's office, which is investigating. The prosecutor's office won't give us any comment on this specific video. All we know from the prosecutor is the timeline of events, which is that basically police were called in on March 31, last Tuesday, to a call of a disorderly person.
They encountered Phillip White. They handcuffed and restrained him and then, according to police, they called for medical assistance because he had problems breathing. Now, he was put in an emergency vehicle, and at some point along the way, he became unresponsive. He was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital.
Now, we can clearly see in this video a police dog used in the arrest. But what exactly happened before the video, immediately afterwards or what even is happening with the dog so close to Phillip White's face, we don't know if that contributed to his death. That is what is now under investigation.
I did speak to the family lawyer, however of, the family of Phillip White. They say he had no health problems that they know of, that he had no problems of respiratory illness. They're very distraught, especially to see this video. And they're now asking police for any other material evidence that might be there, such as dash-cam video, to find out exactly what happened, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Atika Shubert, thank you so much.
Coming up, it's his directorial debut, and his personal feelings about war seem to be on display. Next, actor and director Russell Crowe joins me to talk about his latest film.
Plus, secrets spilled by former White House staffers about the Clintons, their explosive fights and the first lady's interesting way of dealing with the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- coming up.
[16:42:58] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Scientists are right now sifting through a treasure trove just found inside a French tunnel, graffiti scribbled by some 1,800 soldiers during World War II. Service members carved out messages, even maps inside hideout rooms for those who came after them.
The discovery comes as the world marks 100 years since one of the bloodiest battles of World War I, hundreds of thousands of Turks on one side and Australians and New Zealanders on the other slaughtered at the Battle of Gallipoli, which brings us to our pop culture lead today.
The battle is at the very heart of a moving new film called "The Water Diviner." It stars Russell Crowe and also marks his debut as a director. The movie is set to hit U.S. theaters in just over two weeks.
And Russell Crowe joins me now.
First of all, let me say, happy birthday.
RUSSELL CROWE, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Thank you very much, Jake.
TAPPER: Your character, Joshua Connor -- first of all, we should say, I saw the movie. It was very moving. Congratulations.
Your character, Joshua Connor, travels to Gallipoli find out what happened to his three sons who never came back from the Battle of Gallipoli.
Do you think there's a larger message about war in the film?
CROWE: Well, no doubt.
And I think it's one of the responsibilities that you take on if you are going to approach this sort of subject. There was a time that -- when movies like this fed a different part of our psyche, you know?
TAPPER: The more jingoistic, rah-rah? CROWE: And all of that.
CROWE: But I don't think that that's necessarily the responsible position to take now, especially because I'm the father of two boys.
TAPPER: Well, tell me about that, because I responded. I'm now at the age -- I don't know if you remember when you started watching films and started identifying with the dad, as opposed to starting identifying with the son.
TAPPER: But I remember that a few years ago.
And now I watch these movies and I identify with the dad. I identify with your character, because I have two children. Do you think that, if they were called to join the army, you would not want them to join? Because I myself, as a supporter of troops and veterans, but also wanting my kids to live, I have very mixed feelings about it.
CROWE: I would -- I'd find it very hard to do that, you know?
And, you know, I think that all of us, over time, have grown this thing -- or most of us -- where we honor the soldier or honor the warrior, but we still condemn the war at the same time.You know, I don't know where we go in the future, but I think the more open discussions that we have about what really -- what war consists of and how it affects and who it affects I think is a healthy thing to do.
TAPPER: Yes, you must get tons of scripts all the time. I'm sure a number of them are about war mainly because of the role in "Gladiator" that you played where you played a warrior so convincingly. What about "The Water Diviner" spoke to you that made you say not only that you wanted to be in it, but that you wanted to direct it.
CROWE: Look, I think it's a combination of the same thing that you were talking about. You know, I was reading a piece as a father about a father. So I had a direct connection to that, but also the history of the piece. It's such an important point in time for Australians and New Zealanders.
That will glittery signifies essentially the first time that Australians and New Zealanders have fought under their own flag. That was just after they became independent countries.
TAPPER: It's a big moment of pride for the Australians and the New Zealanders.
CROWE: But it's more complex than that because it's also about the manner in which we encouraged young men to volunteer. It became a big societal thing and people were encouraged because it was defending England, defending France, it was European allies.
But it was also sold to them as their one and only chance for adventure. You come from a small outback town. The next thing you know you're on this boat, you can see the pyramids in Egypt and you'll see the glories of Paris.
So it was kind of sold in a way that made young men put up their hand. And if you didn't and you were able bodied and you didn't go, then that was a big question and kind of a black mark on you.
The opportunity in this script to put a perspective in front of an Australian and New Zealand audience, which hasn't really been considered in the last 100 years, and that's the civil perspective of the Turks.
Here we are, we view it as an expeditionary force, goes across the other side of the world to fight for what we say is the good cause because it's defending Britain the motherland, right?
I'm in Istanbul doing location scouts and I'm in a high school and the clocks are stopped on the wall. I asked the man why the clocks are stop and he told that in 1915, after moms and dads dropped their kids off in the morning at a school, the government came and took all the senior students and made them soldiers.
So by that night, they were in trenches fighting the war. It's a completely different experience to take a group of young volunteers and see them off at the dock and hear about their experiences via communications later than it is for a country to be so desperate because they're being invaded to strip their high schools of senior students.
TAPPER: And the movie makes it very clear, you see the humanity of the Turks. In fact, your character bonds with a member of the Turkish military and there is just this sense of senseless loss at this battle.
CROWE: On both sides.
TAPPER: On both sides. Hundreds of thousands, I think it's more than 200,000 Turks were killed and more than 200,000 --
CROWE: Right. It's not just Australians and New Zealanders, also the Canadians, British, French, Nepalese, Indian, you have Newfoundland fighting as a sovereign nation. It was a very complicated group of allies that were involved in that invasion, and they obviously expected to do a lot better than they did.
TAPPER: Now, you've been directed as an actor many times. This is your first time directing. I can imagine -- I don't know you very well, but I can imagine you're a rather strong willed director. Did you learn anything about the perspective of directors from your previous decades as an actor?
CROWE: Of course, I started working in front of a camera when I was 6 years old in 1970. I've done 25 years now in lead roles in feature films. So I have a massive accumulated tertiary education in being on a film set and involved in problem solving. So I have no problem stealing from anybody. If I have worked with a great director, who has shown me a solution for a particular thing, that's in the back of my mind, you know. On the way to doing this, though, I didn't suddenly decide to do this. I've directed 30-something video clips for rock bands, three full- length documentaries.
So I've been prepare myself over time, but this wasn't planned. This movie wasn't planned. It just came to me in the middle of the busiest professional year I've had. I made four features in one year, which is probably unusual. And this thing landed on my lap. I read it. I had such a deep detection to it that I had to do it so my plans changed, you know.
TAPPER: Speaking of wars, I do want to ask about this when we were researching, preparing for this interview, there's a very harrowing story about threats to you that folks might not know out there, in 2001, the FBI told you there was an al Qaeda plot against you and the FBI provided security for you. It's an incredible story. I mean, it's madness. Why were you targeted?
[16:50:03] CROWE: I have no idea. It went on for a certain period of time and then one day, they just weren't there anymore so I guess, it went away or increase in the demand. But yes, it was just -- you know, I arrived one time in Los Angeles as I had done many times before, and there were chaps from the FBI wanting to have a chat. That's all.
TAPPER: So the last question I have for you is, do you feel as the star and the director more sensitivity to criticism of this film than maybe you've felt when you were I don't want to say merely the star but with less, quote/unquote, "yours because you didn't direct it."
CROWE: Well, certainly it's a more intimate experience from a creative point of view because everything in the movie is you, the composition, the color, the texture. You know, it's the emotional journey, what music you've chosen, the highs and lows of the film, where the laughs may be.
All of that is your construct, but whether or not you feel more sensitive towards it is a strange question because it's your construction, you're actually more easily able to defend it as well, you know.
TAPPER: You know the reason that certain decisions were made.
CROWE: Yes. And, you know, sometimes -- you know, this is an independent Australian film. This is not made with a big studio behind it. This was financed step by step, getting a couple of people on board, and then selling it territory by territory.
And then you know, so we have, for example, wonderful connection here in America where we distribute it by Warner Brothers, but in eight other countries in the world distributed it by universal.
You know, in some countries are distributed by A1. In Turkey, it was distributed by Mars. So it's a patch work quilt that makes up an independent film and we had that exact experience.
You don't get a chunk of money in the bank when you start. You get a dribble, you hit a mark. You get another dribble. So you are dealing with that sort of downplays over your head the entire time.
TAPPER: Well, it's a beautiful and moving film. Your director of photography is just great.
CROWE: It's (inaudible).
TAPPER: It's wonderful and it's very moving so best of luck.
CROWE: Thank you very much.
TAPPER: It's really nice to meet you. All right, and happy birthday again.
CROWE: Thank you.
TAPPER: All right, coming up, shocking Clinton secrets spilled by White House insiders like the stitches the president reportedly had to get after the Monica Lewinsky news broke. How did that happen? That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our Politics Lead, it's supposed to be one of the most secure homes in the world, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where the leader of the free world lives.
The first family secrets are supposed to be sacrosanct, but this is Washington, after all. In a new book called "The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House" is spilling the beans on some of the most intimate presidential moments witnessed by staffers, insiders now breaking the code of silence.
CNN's senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is here with all the juicy details. Brianna, some of the book's most shocking secrets revolve around the Clintons.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. This book really dishes, Jake. You learn about a number of different White Houses, the residents of the White House, Nancy Reagan perhaps the most particular, LBJ maybe the most peculiar.
But the Clintons very clearly come across as the most privacy obsessed in this book. One usher who served for the Carter administration, the Reagan administration and for Bush 41 as well as the Clintons goes as far as to say that the couple was paranoid.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR (voice-over): As Bill and Hillary Clinton prepare to fight their way back into the White House, a new book reveals details about the explosive arguments they had inside its halls.
(on camera): There was blood all over the president and first lady's bed. The blood was Bill Clinton's. What did they think had happened?
KATE ANDERSON BROWER, AUTHOR, "THE RESIDENCE": Well, everyone on the staff said that they were convinced that she clocked him with a book.
KEILER: In an ABC interview at the time, Clinton dismissed similar rumors that she had thrown a lamp at the president.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, I have a pretty good arm. If I had thrown a lamp at somebody, I think you would have known about it.
KEILAR: But insiders say the Monica Lewinsky scandal left her reeling. One summer day Hillary Clinton enlisted an usher to help her get to the swimming pool unspotted and without a Secret Service detail.
BROWER: He escorted her and made sure she wouldn't have to see any Secret Service agents, wouldn't have to see anybody on a tour, and no staffers. She didn't want to see anyone. She specifically said that. So he was so proud he was able to make this happen.
KEILAR: Just a few of the juicy tidbits in a new largely on the record account of life behind the scenes in the White House. Kate Anderson Brower interviewed dozens of former maids, chefs, florists, butlers, and doormen who have worked at the White House dating back to the Kennedy years for "The Residents inside the Private World of the White House."
Their accounts of everyday life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue seemingly ripped from the script of the PBS series ""Downton Abbey" and just like in the popular show, the lack of privacy in the White House is a constant theme in the book. Former employees describe Bill and Hillary as the most private first couple they worked for.
BROWER: I've had staffers say that the Clintons were the most definitely paranoid first family, that they ever had to work with. And they didn't ever really trust the staff. It took them a year to carry on a conversation while the staff was in the room.
KEILAR: And the Clintons had the White House phone system rewired so they could make their own calls instead of going through an operator.
BROWER: They were worried about people listening in on their phone calls.
KEILAR: Now, the Clintons did ultimately get on pretty well with the staff, Jake. That's important to note. There's also sort of sweet moments in the book, the pastry chef at the White House under the Clintons talking about how he was sort of proud that in the dark days of the Lewinsky scandal, Hillary Clinton would call frequently to request her favorite treat, which was mocha cake, and also that the female staff really rallied to her side, at least amongst themselves.
[16:00:06] TAPPER: Brianna, I can't help but observe that the Clintons had reason to not trust the staffers.
KEILAR: That's true.
TAPPER: They're now leaking all over the place. Brianna, thank you so much.
That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.