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CNN NEWSROOM

Aretha Franklin Passes at Age 76 Surrounded by Friends and Family; Admiral Behind bin Laden Raid Stand with John Brennan; Vatican on Grand jury Report Says Sex Abuse Criminal, Reprehensible. Aired 3- 3:30p ET

Aired August 16, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


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BROOKE BALDWIN, ANCHOR CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being with me. Her prolific sound, her soul- stirring voice was like no other, Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul has died at the 76. She is an American icon, a music legend whose transformative songs and divine talent crossed all social, racial and economic barriers. She commended respect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARETHA FRANKLIN, AMERICAN SINGER, SONGWRITER AND PIANIST:

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: I could listen to this all day long. Ms. Franklin sang for kings and queens and three U.S. presidents. Remember her amazing performance at former President Barack Obama's historic inauguration?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARETHA FRANKLIN, AMERICAN SINGER, SONGWRITER AND PIANIST: My country 'tis of thee. Sweet land of liberty. Of thee I sing. Land where my father died. Land of the pilgrim's pride. From every mountainside...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The tributes keep coming in. The Apollo Theater, there in Harlem, changed its marquee to honor her. Her family said Ms. Franklin passed away this morning after a battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.

President Trump today offering his condolences with a statement in part that reads, "She was terrific. She brought joy to millions of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come. She was given a great gift from God."

So let's go to Detroit. Ryan Young is our CNN National Correspondent there outside of her

church. She's from Memphis but moved to Detroit at a young age. And so, I'm seeing balloons behind you, tell me, show me the scene there.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you got to think about the power of music. One thing I know is that Aretha Franklin was like the auntie for everyone, especially in the black community.

And you can feel that power as people have shown up here today. There was a party literally on this sidewalk before it started raining so hard, so some of the people have kind of gone away at this point because of all the rain, but you could feel that power.

They've been playing music here. The church doors are open. People have been coming to relay their stories about how Aretha Franklin touched them, the idea that she would have these large gatherings and feed homeless people, and never giving up on Detroit. It really touched a lot of people.

People left Detroit, but Aretha never gave up on it. And that's when her music started hitting the streets here, it was just right here where they had that impromptu dance party and you could just feel that love and that power because her songs really do make you smile.

And in fact Terry is kind of the DJ, the unofficial DJ out here today. He's been playing music. Terry, we know have been talking about Aretha sort of all day long. Look, the world is watching. And, of course, they want to know how someone from Detroit feels about Aretha. Tell me what's your memory will be of the Queen of Song.

TERRY: My memory of Aretha Franklin is that she's the Queen of Soul. She's the epitome of mega super talent. Her giving to the community of Detroit, her music is a talent you won't find in many other individuals who can sing. She could sing everything from jazz to R&B, gospel.

YOUNG: What's it like now knowing that she's gone? I mean because obviously, people who love Detroit love Aretha, but sum it up for people at home that connection.

TERRY: Of course, people will always love Aretha. Aretha never left us. She always stayed with us. And she's like somebody's sister, somebody's mother, grandmother. She's the mother of Detroit.

YOUNG: You love her.

TERRY: We love her.

YOUNG: Thank you, Terry, so much for giving me that, my brother.

TERRY (ph): You're welcome.

YOUNG: Thank you. So you feel that. And you know, the other day, Brooke, you had on your show, Brooke, you had on your show about all the magazines and the fact that black women on the front of them.

BALDWIN: Yes.

YOUNG: You think about Aretha on Time Magazine, 1968. It got to a point where she wasn't even described as a black woman. But people are honoring her and the idea that she's an icon and she's connected to all of us because the music was so special.

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BALDWIN: The mother of Detroit, keep playing those tunes, Ryan Young, outside the new Bethel Baptist there in Detroit. Thank you my friend very much.

My next guest now knew Aretha Franklin when they were young women on the gospel circuit and she would later compete against Franklin at the Grammy's, not just once but twice. Her memories remain of them being on tour in the '50s with Franklin's father, Reverend C.L. Franklin.

So, Candi Staton is with me now. Ms. Staton, nice to have you on, a pleasure.

CANDI STATON, AMERICAN SOUL AND GOSPEL SINGER: Oh, it's an honor to be here. It really is. What a sad day for me.

BALDWIN: I know. I know. It's sad but let's celebrate and honor her by sharing stories. I mean can you just take me on a trip down memory lane and tell me how you first became friends back in the '50s.

STATON: Well, we were on tour together. We called them programs at the time. It was like just Sam Cooke and the Soulsters and it was like all of the gospel groups that were together. I met her when she was 16.

And she opened for father, C.L. Franklin. She would always sing the prefatory song. It was either "Precious Lord" or it was either "Precious Lord" or "Amazing Grace." And I mean she would blow the place up.

It wouldn't be a dry eye in the place, tears would be falling including myself. And I was like, where did this girl come from? She has the best voice I have ever heard in my life. I meant -- she was one of mentors.

And I watched how she commanded the stages and I watched her move the audience, God. And it was just like what she had been through. We have been through so much and I know the road. I know the road out that we came down.

It was way before the Civil Rights Bill was passed. And we had to drive long distances and sleep in the car because they weren't places for us to sleep at the time.

BALDWIN: Yes.

STATON: And we got to know each other very, very well. And all of that soul came from her mind, will, and emotions of a time, nobody can ever take her place because nobody was ever there in her place when she got what she got from God. And I am so honored to be here just to honor her today.

BALDWIN: You mentioned "Precious Lord" and let's talk about that because you heard her sing and it gave you goose bumps and apparently you gave her goose bumps in return. She talked about you in her official autobiography.

STATON: Yes.

BALDWIN: Mentions her respect for you. And particular fondness for the way you sang "Precious Lord" on tours like at the Apollo.

STATON: Yes. Oh, yes.

BALDWIN: She is a -- she was a fan of yours. What does...

STATON: She really was.

BALDWIN: What does that feel like?

STATON: It feels wonderful. I feel special.

[LAUGHTER]

STATON: You know, we emailed each other. We emailed other until she got sick. When I did the Letterman Show, she stood up for me. She text, I mean, she didn't text me, she emailed me. I'll get it right in a minute, but she emailed me and she said, I'm watching you and I'm like, "Oh no, you're not." Aretha is watching me and I'm nervous.

BALDWIN: Oh my goodness...

STATON: And then...

BALDWIN: ... and did she email you? And she email you often? And...

STATON: Yes, she did. We used to talk through email. And we talked about little things that happened on the road, little things I can't tell on the air, but it was fun stories.

BALDWIN: Oh, you could give us a little something.

STATON: Yes. But she would remind me of incidents that happened. She says, "What about this day and what about that day." I said, "Oh, my god." And we just emailed each other. And when I did the Letterman Show the last time, they only let me do the endings.

And she called Paul Shaffer and she just let him out. And she says, "Why didn't let her do the whole song?" And then she -- Paul come running back to me, "Aretha just told me off." After the program was over, but I...

BALDWIN: She had your back.

STATON: Yes. She had my back.

BALDWIN: She had your back. STATON: She really did. She loved me and I loved her back. And I love her so much. And I just want to shout out my condolences to the family. I'm praying for you.

BALDWIN: Final question, which is just what's one thing about her that really touched your heart that maybe you think America doesn't know about that you'd like to share?

STATON: I did her song when I auditioned with Rick Hall out in Muscle Shoals and "Do Right Woman." And that song used to touch me so much because of what I was going through, "I never loved a man the way I love you." All those songs were just touched me and bring tears to my eyes because I was going through a lot of abusive situations at the time.

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And it drew something out of me. It drew a feeling out of me. And I would say, "God, if I could just deliver like her," and the Lord gave me my talent. We all have our niches. And there will never be another Aretha, but those songs were the biggest ones that touched my heart the most, also the gospels. You can't get away from that. That's our foundation.

BALDWIN: Candi Staton, bless you for coming on. Thank you for sharing and celebrating. I appreciate you. Thank you.

STATON: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Much more on Ms. Franklin here in just a moment as fans pay respect from coast to coast. We also have some breaking news out of Washington. Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law just responded to the newly released reporting from fired White House aide Omarosa.

What the tape reveals about Omarosa's claims that she was offered $15,000 a month to keep her secrets to herself about the President.

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BALDWIN: Former Trump advisor Omarosa Manigault Newman has just released yet another secret recording of conversations with people in the President's inner circle. This one involves a phone call with President Trump's own daughter-in-law.

On this reporting, you'll hear the voice of Lara Trump as she is offering Omarosa a $15,000 a month job after she was fired from the administration. That offer coming after The New York Times published a story suggesting that Omarosa might break her silence because of the firing.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LARA TRUMP, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Listen, obviously, with like The New York Times article and stuff, you know, it's, it's...

OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, AMERICAN REALITY TELEVISION SHOW PARTICIPANT AND FORMER POLITICAL AIDE TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What's the New York Time article?

TRUMP: The one that, the one that -- it was in the New York Times today. I guess you didn't -- with Maggie Haberman, or they wrote about you. It sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you've got in the back pocket to pull out.

Clearly, if you come on board the campaign, like, we can't have -- we got to...

NEWMAN: Oh, God, no...

TRUMP: ... everything, everybody -- it's positive, right? And so the only thing that we have to consider, where we're talking salary as far as the campaign is concerned is that, as you know, everything is public.

And all the money that you raise and that paid salary is directly from donors, small-dollar donors for the most part. So, I know you -- you were making 179 at the White House. And I think we can work something out where we keep you right along those lines, specifically, let me see, I haven't even added up the numbers.

But we were talking about, like, a 15K a month. Let me see what that adds up to. Times 12, yes, so that's $180,000. Does that sound like a fair deal for you?" In terms of your position, specifically, I really feel like your position would require you to be able to be flexible in terms of where you are.

Sometimes, come to New York for occasional meetings. But I would love if you could occasionally go do speaking engagements and that sort of thing for us. I think you'd be awesome doing that.

And so, it doesn't really matter where you are. If you're comfortable staying in DC, then you're -- we're more than happy to have you...

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BALDWIN: Lara Trump just released a statement explaining why she would make such an offer just days after Omarosa was fired. She writes, quote, "We still wanted her on our team because we cared so much about her personally. That's why I reached out to offer her a position with the 2020 Trump campaign before we knew anything about the gross violations of ethics and integrity during her White House tenure.

Another one of Omarosa's, quote, "bombshell" tapes is a fraud," she says. "The discussions about a position with the campaign took place in numerous phone calls over the course of several weeks."

And Lara Trump ended by speaking directly to Omarosa saying this, "I hope it's all worth it for you, Omarosa, because some things you just can't put a price on." So with me now, CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, a

former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security. Also with us former CIA Intelligence Officer, David Priess, he wrote the book, The President's Book of Secrets.

Welcome to both of you.

And, Juliette, just one this, your takeaway is that again, it's the family protecting the President.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITYOUNG: It is. It's just like the nondisclosure agreements or at least the ones that we saw. There is no public interest. There is no national security interest that this White House seems concerned about.

They are concerned about the Trump interests and the reputations of Donald Trump and the nondisclosures mention the family directly, Ivanka and others. I think the other takeaway is I would like to be offered that much money to do occasional speeches. I mean it's so clearly a payoff. She's -- yes, I mean there's no job.

BALDWIN: Yes.

KAYYEM: I mean it's occasionally do a speech, but it's basically it's just clear that it's a 15,000 for her to remain quiet in light of what at least The New York Times was reporting at that time.

And Lara Trump doesn't hide that. We'll give you the $15,000 a month; occasionally will you do a speech for us?

BALDWIN: That's what, we had a lawyer on last hour saying it just sounds like a no pay job to anyone listening to that conversation.

Let me move on to something else, David. And this is for you, to the words of the President himself. We talked about how the White House has now revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director, John Brennan. And so the President does this interview with The Wall Street Journal.

We had the report on last hour who did it and this is a quote from Trump himself, "I call it the rigged witch hunt. It is a sham. And these people led it, so I think it's something that had to be done." These people meaning the folks whose security clearances are under review, the likes of John Brennan, James Clapper, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, et cetera.

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And he makes this connection here with security clearance to the Mueller investigation and saying, "something had to be done." Something...

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Right. Two things strike me on this. One, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, she came out yesterday, gave a reason which itself was not really a good one, but a supposed justification for doing this, which was national security grounds. And that one was ripped apart very quickly.

But she got ahead of the president and yet again, got undercut by the President with this interview. In any previous administration when a press secretary goes out and says something and the President goes out and undercuts them, they're gone. They resign in protest.

In this case, she appears to say, "Thank you, Sir. May I have another?" On the Mueller side of it, I cannot believe this interview with The Wall Street Journal because the President is essentially dangling out there more and more evidence of if not obstruction of justice, in this case abuse of power, which was another impeachment article against someone like Richard Nixon.

The President has the ability to control security clearances. That is almost universally acknowledged. But that doesn't mean that he cannot corruptly use that to abuse his power. In this case, to silence the free political speech of someone who is just saying things the president doesn't like. That's where this gets them into danger with Mueller.

BALDWIN: We were saying to your point, an obstruction and everything else that Juliette, it's almost reminiscent of that Trump interview with Lester Holt, right, when he was talking about the firing of Comey and over the Russia thing. And it's quite similar to -- we got to do something about that...

Revoke security clearances because Brennan, of course, was Obama's CIA chief and he was one of the guys who came to Trump before inauguration who was essentially saying, "Excuse me, we have evidence of Russia getting involved."

KAYYEM: Yes. That's exactly. I actually think this admission in The Wall Street Journal is worse than the previous admission by Trump with Lester Holt because...

BALDWIN: Why?

KAYYEM: ... here he -- because the President literally says there is a witch hunt, the Mueller case, I'm getting rid of John Brennan because both because he knows something about collusion and secondly because he's been critical of me about the Mueller investigation.

If you look at John Brennan's tweets, I mean they are emotional, they are energized, this is someone who sees the sort of denigration of America's security and national security apparatus day by day and who's committed decades of his life to defending it and supporting it.

And so the President just -- I mean that seems to me more of an admission than even where Lester Holt where actually Donald Trump was a little bit more wavering. I just want to say one thing about John Brennan and I said it yesterday.

I knew him because I was in an agency that he essentially was the point person for, the Department of Homeland Security. It is so odd to see him in this role. This was the person who if there were politics he was like on the other side of the room, whether it was immigration or the BP oil spill with lots of (inaudible) with the White House.

BALDWIN: Time to change.

KAYYEM: Yes. And so to see him in this role is just, I think it says how bad he thinks it is and he had to step outside his comfort zone.

PRIESS: Let me add one thing on that, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Go for it.

PRIESS: Because if the President was trying to distract from some of the negative publicity about Omarosa's recordings and declarations, he spectacularly failed because look what happened here. You led with the new revelation from her and frankly people aren't talking about John Brennan and whether it was right or not for him to say things about Trump, given his former position.

Now, the discussion is all about is the President copping to obstruction of justice or abuse of power, even his own purpose for doing it if it was to change the narrative away from something he didn't like this week. That has failed because it's come back to him again on the things he probably doesn't want us to be talking about.

BALDWIN: Yes. You nailed it. David and Juliette. Thank you.

PRIESS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Speaking of security clearances, just into us, the admiral who lead the operation that killed Osama bin Laden is also now weighing in, telling President Trump to revoke his security clearance as well. How about that?

We'll also talk to two journalists who had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Aretha Franklin in her church in Detroit, listen to her play the piano, the story behind their interview next.

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BALDWIN: It may have been nearly 70 years ago, but at that moment, that young Aretha Franklin stood and sang a gospel song at her father's church will live forever. And today, fans and friends are gathering outside New Bethel Baptist Church there in Detroit to honor the Queen of Soul.

And in just a couple of years ago, Time Magazine took a trip back to Detroit with Ms. Franklin where it all began as she performed a classic Christian hymn, "Rock of Ages."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)