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Texas Killer Escaped Mental Health Facility in 2012; Trump Had CIA Director to Look Into DNC Leak Conspiracy Theory; Harvey Weinstein Hired Private Spies to Dig Up Direct on Accusers; Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired November 8, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:32:13] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The vice president set to travel to Texas today to meet with the victims and families of Sunday's church massacre.
We're learning more about the gunman and not just the novelty of who he was. That's irrelevant. But his record of where he was and what was done about it matters. Police are reporting that this man escaped from a mental health facility in 2012.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher live in Sutherland Springs, Texas, with more.
You know, language is going to be very important here in terms of accountability. If he escaped, does that mean that he was involuntarily committed? Was he there voluntarily? You know, the difference becomes important not just in terms of fact but in terms of what the system was supposed to do about it. What do we know so -- so far, Dianne?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Chris, we were told at this point, according to that police report that he was in that mental health facility a couple of months after those domestic violence charges that we know now. The assault charges against his now ex-wife and stepson at that time.
This is another case, something else we're learning that's starting to develop a bit pattern about this shooter. We're talking -- the domestic violence charges, animal cruelty, there are issues with weapons, escaping this mental health facility.
We're starting to see a pattern and many people are starting to wonder exactly how the dots were never connected and why something wasn't done, why he wasn't on somebody's radar.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Months before pleading guilty to assaulting his ex-wife and infant stepson in 2012, Texas church killer Devin Kelley briefly escaped from this New Mexico mental health facility. A police report showed that while stationed at Holloman Air Force Base, Kelley was institutionalized for attempting to carry out death threats on his commanding officers and had been caught trying to sneak guns onto the base. Officers searching for Kelley were advised he, quote, "suffer from
mental disorders" and was a threat to himself and others. Separate court documents showed that Kelley was investigated for sexual assault and rape the following year but charges were never filed.
JOE TACKITT, WILSON COUNTY SHERIFF: He did not want him at his church.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why not?
TACKITT: He said because he just thought that he was not a good person to be around.
GALLAGHER: Authorities say Kelley was familiar with the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, and attended activities there before carrying out the largest mass shooting in Texas state history.
FREEMAN MARTIN, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: When the first call came in, the Wilson County sheriff's Office arrived within four minutes. I can tell you four minutes is a long time during an active shooter situation.
GALLAGHER: Investigators now hitting a roadblock, telling reporters that they have been unable to access the shooter's cell phone. But his online presence offering clues in his mindset ahead of the massacre. Friends say that Kelley started going after them online in recent months.
[06:35:01] CHRISTOPHER LEE LONGORIA, CLASSMATE OF SHOOTER: Taking on a lot of other students. Picked on me for losing weight. Also just, you know, anti-God, you know, preaching his beliefs of atheism. Lots of guns violence videos.
GALLAGHER: Kelley also posting this picture of a rifle similar to the one used to carry out the attack.
ROSEANNE SOLIS, SURVIVOR: Everybody is going to die (EXPLETIVE DELETED). That's what he said.
GALLAGHER: Survivor Roseanne Solis recounting her harrowing story to CNN.
SOLIS: The bullets hitting, passing me like that, you know, and I could see it on the carpet. I said if I don't move from here, I'm going to die.
GALLAGHER: Solis explaining how she took cover under a church pew as the gunman unloaded, shooting her left shoulder.
(On camera): What did you see when you got up?
SOLIS: Blood. Dead people. Dead bodies. Dead children all over the place. Outside people screaming, looking for each other. Just terrible.
(END VIDEOTAPE) GALLAGHER: And the pain is still very raw here. A lot of people went through so much as you heard in Miss Solis speaking right there, Chris.
We're going to see Vice President Mike Pence. He's hoping he can alleviate some of that today. He's going to be making a visit at the hospital with some of those victims from that shooting who is -- who are still there. He's then going to meet with law enforcement who have been working around the clock since the shooting on Sunday. And finally he's going to deliver remarks at a vigil this evening at a local high school -- Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Dianne, thank you very much for the update.
So did President Trump pressure his CIA director to meet with a conspiracy theorist who believes the DNC e-mail hacking job was an inside job?
We have all the details on this story next.
[06:40:40] CAMEROTA: Sources tell CNN that CIA director Mike Pompeo recently met with a former NSA employees who denies that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. This employee believes the conspiracy theory that the theft of the DNC e-mails was an inside job. That meeting happened at the urging of President Trump.
Michelle Kosinski is live in Washington with more. What have you learned, Michelle?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alisyn. So yes, this meeting happened just about two weeks ago, October 24th, according to multiple intelligence sources. And the president had asked his CIA director Mike Pompeo to meet with somebody who doesn't believe that it was Russia that hacked into the Democratic National Committee's e-mails and then distributed them right before the election.
He believes, as you said, it was an inside job done by a DNC employee even though the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that it was Russia that interfered.
So this person is named William Benny. Used to be with the NSA. Now has been putting this theory out there. He said the meeting lasted about an hour and that Pompeo started by saying, the president wanted me to talk to you. He also says that Pompeo told him that Pompeo wants Benny to also meet with people at the FBI and the NSA.
So the White House won't say anything about this. They haven't responded to CNN's request for comment. But the CIA said that Pompeo stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment.
What this tells you, though, is how much this Russia issue still bothers the president and how much he's still looking for other theories out there -- Chris.
CUOMO: Right. And obviously, Michelle, I mean, just, you know, calling it what it is. Pompeo is Trump's guy. He's also been well received at the CIA, as you know and have reported in the past. But what does all this mean, that's the question.
Thank you for reporting, my friend. Good to see you.
Joining us now is Duncan Campbell, an investigative journalist and freelance contributor to "The Intercept." He broke the story that William Benny met with CIA director Pompeo.
It's good to have you, sir.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Good morning.
CUOMO: So one of the reasons for intrigue here is this is somewhat unusual for the director to take this step of meeting on his own. And this is in the wake of the director putting the task force that's looking into these allegations under his direct control, and of course his statement that the Russian interference hadn't affected the election. Something that they had to pull back because obviously the intelligence community has not staked that out as a position.
So what did your reporting reveal and why does it matter to you?
CAMPBELL: When I first heard there's a planned meeting, Mr. Benny was over traveling in Europe for his business. And my joke, I said, really? The president? The CIA director? This is going to happen? So I kept my cynicism well in play until the day of the meeting, confirmed it was going to happen. And I was able then to speak to Mr. Benny shortly after he had come out and seen the director. He gave me his immediate recollection of what had been said.
CUOMO: And which was what?
CAMPBELL: That the president wanted Mr. Benny to advise the agencies and perhaps the director on where to find evidence and stolen material that would show that the hacks had not originated and been directed from Russia and were in some way domestic activity on U.S. territory. That was a theory that Mr. Benny and some others have put their name to back in July and somehow or another clearly and decisively caught the president's attention.
CUOMO: So Mr. Benny has become a controversial figure in and of himself. Depending on your political persuasion here right now, he is either a truth teller whistleblower or he is a conspiracy theorist. How does he size up in your estimation?
CAMPBELL: On this side of the Atlantic and away from the fast storm of polarization in U.S. politics on this issue, things can be perhaps a bit more nuanced.
[06:45:04] I have enormous respect for Mr. Benny. He was faithful to the law and the Constitution. And also not a whistleblower for many years after he took a principled stance to leave his employer. And with his enormous experiment in seniority and carefully considered criticisms he has made a very important contribution to the debate.
This summer I think there has been about nine months of noise and attempts to push this theory or that theory just to explain it wasn't the Russians. Most of those attempts from what I have seen actually failed. But it was continuous. And eventually the dam broke and some of the people who'd properly criticized the agencies for the Iraq invasion fiasco came out and put their names jointly to a memorandum, essentially taking the president's position.
CUOMO: Duncan, appreciate the reporting. Very helpful in framing the perspective of this ongoing intrigue in America with Russian interference.
Thank you, sir. Good to have you on the show -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK. Chris, there are startling new allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Now there is reporting that the disgraced Hollywood movie mogul hired spies to get dirt on his accusers.
We have all the details from journalist Ronan Farrow who broke the story next.
[06:50:02] CAMEROTA: Multiple media outlets are reporting that the Manhattan district attorney is preparing a criminal case against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein amid new rape allegations. And now there are also accusations that Weinstein enlisted spies to get dirt on his accusers.
Joining us now is the journalist who broke this story, contributing writer to the "New Yorker," Ronan Farrow.
Ronan, good to see you.
RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTOR WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Good to be here, Alisyn, always.
CAMEROTA: What do you know about what the Manhattan DA is up to in terms of criminal charges against Weinstein?
FARROW: You know, we have ongoing reporting on that. I will say this. There are law enforcement officers who feel the ball was dropped on this case in the past and are now working very, very hard to try to put Harvey Weinstein behind bars.
CAMEROTA: OK. So let's talk about what your reporting has revealed. The extent that Harvey Weinstein went to try to shut down these women and to try to shut down reporting. You -- he learned somehow that you were preparing an investigative piece for "The New Yorker." He also learned that the "New York Times" was similarly preparing an investigative piece about him. And he went to extraordinary measures to try to shut that down and to try to sully the accusers.
What did you learn? FARROW: Extraordinary measures that I think most of us wouldn't have
thought possible. But this is what the most powerful people in America can do when they are bent on suppressing allegations against them. In Harvey Weinstein's case that included, starting in the fall of last year, hiring private spies from an elite international intelligence agencies including one staff from largely former members of the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, to use, for instance, fake identities, fake front companies, and insinuate themselves into the lives of reporters and women with allegations.
CAMEROTA: One of the most intriguing characters in this very murky sort of spy tale is this woman who uses the alia Diana or Ana, depending, and she kind of inserted herself into the lives of either journalists or sometimes the women, such as actress Rose McGowan, who befriended her, thinking that she was a women's rights advocate but in fact she was just gathering dirt for Harvey Weinstein.
FARROW: She in the fall of last year met with Ben Wallace, a wonderful reporter at "New York" magazine, and who's working on this story, as a woman named Ana, suggesting she had allegations against Harvey Weinstein, getting very emotional in their conversations which he began to find suspicious.
Later she met with Rose McGowan four times and secretly was recording their conversations and transmitting them through this organization, Black Cube, back to Harvey Weinstein. You know, Rose McGowan thought this was a friend. This was a woman who was posing as a wealth investor, offering to put money into Rose's company and to involve her in a women's rights campaign. It turns out she was an elite operative for this Israeli private intelligence firm.
CAMEROTA: This is important on many levels. Number one, this is so telling because when women like Rose McGowan starts saying things like they are trying to silence me, listen to me, people. This is bigger than we think. They're sometimes cast as they're getting hysterical. They're getting overly emotional. Look at them. Look what's happening. When in fact, there is this big plot of spider webs and Rose McGowan was right.
FARROW: Look, it is stranger than fiction. And it's all true. It's not a spy novel. I mean, these women were called crazy relentlessly. But in this case they were going, as Rose McGowan put it, gas lit. I mean, she said, you know, this was like being in that film "Gas Light." This was like living in a world of funhouse mirrors.
CAMEROTA: So it turns out that Harvey Weinstein was terrified, that he was terrified that these stories were going to come out. And that's why he took these extraordinary measures. I mean, he, you know, famously didn't like any sort of negative press. But when he felt the walls closing in because of your reporting and others, he started really kind of unraveling.
FARROW: Look, the contracts lay out the goals of these operations specifically. There is a contract signed by his powerful lawyer David Boies in one case with this Israeli firm, Black Cube, that specifically directs them to kill stories about this and to investigate these women and to try to essentially find dirt on them.
Harvey Weinstein's web was extending out to try to capture women speaking out, reporters, anyone in a position to air the story, executives, television executives, anyone he could pressure.
CAMEROTA: So why this time didn't it work? I mean, he famously squashed stories for years that were against him. Why did this time did all of these extraordinary measures not work?
FARROW: That's done to the bravery of these women speaking out, Alisyn. There is a change in the culture that has happened over the past several years. It's partly down to good reporting that has exposed Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, a number of these types of cases that set a precedent but illustrated to women, OK, maybe there's room, it's going to be tough, but I can speak. And then, you know, for the first time you saw the dam breaking on this.
CAMEROTA: And of course the tenacious work of reporters like yourself. I mean, for real, journalism.
FARROW: Thank you for that. And look, I mean, this illustrates that not just me, but a lot of journalists were targeted, and in the words of Ben Wallace, that reporter who met with a fake source with a fake identity trying to throw him off the trail, he said this created more static than I was ever familiar with in a story. But, yes, it's true, good journalism was necessary for breaking this open.
[06:55:02] CAMEROTA: Ronan, thank you very much for sharing your story with us all throughout this. It's just been extraordinary to watch it all unfold.
FARROW: Thank you for all the coverage you've been doing on this.
CAMEROTA: Good to talk to you.
CAMEROTA: OK. Be sure to watch my CNN town hall. It's called "TIPPING POINT, SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN AMERICA." It is airing tomorrow night live at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We're going to continue this conversation -- Chris.
CUOMO: Last night was a huge measure of this presidency. Democrats got their first major victories of the Trump era and even within the GOP you are hearing this was about Trump. So what did it mean? What does it mean going forward? We discuss next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: Let's send a message across the globe. Donald Trump, you don't stand for our values.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a woefully unpopular Republican president. And you're having a voter reaction to that. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a Berlin effect for Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a message for Republicans. They better start passing stuff and looking like they can govern.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say to the North, do not underestimate us.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: North Koreans accusing President Trump of trying to ignite another war.