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Pope Francis Apologiezes To Abuse Victims; Hillary Clinton Tours Book In Europe;

Aired July 7, 2014 - 16:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you say too much?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lastly, according to police documents, Leanna Harris, like her husband, has told authorities she too used the internet to research the issue of children dying in hot cars prior to her son's death.

Justin Harris' attorney said the couple were simply researching a government program warning against leaving children in vehicles. But it was Justin Ross Harris who's been arrested. The father claiming he simply forgot the son was in the car with him when he drove to work, leaving him strapped in his seat close to seven hours on a day when temperatures were in the 90s.

Harris said he only realized his mistake after he left work and was driving to meet friends, pulling into a parking lot, according to witnesses, shouting, "what have I done?"

Police doubt his claims saying the moment Harris returned to the car after work, the smell of death would have been overpowering.


SAVIDGE: Justin Ross Harris has entered a plea of not guilty. One of the things we are still waiting to see is the toxicology report from the coroner. Some are wondering whether there could have been something in the child's blood stream. Right now the coroner says it looks as though the child died due to hypothermia -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Martin Savidge, a horrible story. Thank you so much.

Coming up, Pope Francis not just apologizing, but begging forgiveness for the Catholic Church cover-up for decades of abuse of children, what is behind his emotional meeting with victims today?

Plus, Hillary Clinton takes a surprise question while on her book tour in Europe. What one reader asks the former first lady and her seemingly scripted response, coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Another world news, the Pope begging for forgiveness and promising

accountability in the sprawling sex scandal that has plagued the catholic church literally all across the globe and across generations.

Today, Pope Francis held what were reportedly emotional meetings with six victims of abuse hailing from Britain, Ireland and Germany. In a private mass the Pope then said, I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on parts of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members as well as by abuse victims themselves.

Let's bring in Father Thomas Rosica, English language assistant at the Holy Sea press office who just got off the phone with the Vatican.

Father, good to see you, as always. The Pope says catholic bishops will be held accountable for failing to protect children from abuse. What does that mean? What does that accountability look like?

FATHER THOMAS ROSICA, ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSISTANT, HOLY SEA PRESS OFFICE: First of all, you have to put this whole experience this morning into a context that began with Pope Benedict, very clearly are reaching out to the victims. Pope Francis went further than Pope Benedict bringing six of the victims to the Vatican. They arrived yesterday, just to let you know how significant this was.

This wasn't some kind of a (INAUDIBLE) visit or photo op. They had dinner at the Santa Martha residence last night. He quitted them at dinner. Celebrated mass with them this morning and then met for three and half hours individually with each person, half hour each. And then spoke at the homily at mass, made it very, very clear that this is not only a matter affecting the victims and perpetrator, but to the leaders of the church, be the bishops or cardinals, who did not do enough to expose this issue.

TAPPER: Right. But what does accountability mean, Father? Does it mean --?

ROSICA: Accountability. The protocols that are now put in place, especially formulated by this new commission of which cardinal O'Malley is a member, means that all bishop conferences, religious superiors are obligated, are required to deal with the situation, to address it, to deal with perpetrators, to care especially for victims. And when they don't do that, then certain disciplinary actions will be taken. We've seen already last week that the first time a bishop, an apostolic nun so (ph) and archbishop was stripped of his clerical state was reduced to the lay status, they say, and now the criminal investigation is under way involving that polish bishop.

TAPPER: So dealing with it means bringing in the police.

ROSICA: Of course.


ROSICA: Bishops, cardinals, superiors are required to have these matters either to bring the person to the police or to report the matter to the police.


ROSICA: There is no stopping now. It is very important.

TAPPER: That is an important step because it was thought to be handled internally for many years. The Pope himself called this part of a sacrilegious cult within the church.

ROSICA: That's right.

TAPPER: If it is that extent, it is a cult, doesn't that require in a way, exposing the cult, that it is an organization and there has been a culture of covering it up. Should that cult be exposed?

ROSICA: Right. When the hope first used the expression about this sacrilegious cult it was on the way home from Israel several weeks ago from the visit in Holy Lands. And it startled people because journalists said, what's he talking about here?

Father Lombardi and I explained it carefully afterwards that rather than adoring the God of Jesus Christ in spirit and truth, people who were perpetrating these action were adoring a false God. It was completely sacrilegious against our very nature. He went there further this morning in the homily by saying our primary role as religious leaders, men of the cloth, these priests and bishops, is to lead people to God. And God help us if we step between that relationships, sever it. And he went so far as to say the same punishment will be inflicted on you, quoting Matthews' gospel, "you will be thrown into the sea with a millstone around your neck." That's not exactly a pretty image that is being used. The Pope is extremely serious about this.

TAPPER: And Father, lastly, I want to ask, not all victims groups were thrilled with this announcement. The president of snap, the survivor network of those abused by priests, tell CNN quote "let's not mistake this meeting today real action. The meeting today will not make children safer." What is your response?

ROSICA: My response to this is snap in its origins existed for a very good purpose. And that was to bring about this, expose it and to bring about healing. Now with Pope Francis taking such decisive actions, it's about time that snap rebrands itself and continues to become an instrument of healing. It serves no purpose for the people in snap and its leaders to continue to say not far enough, not enough, photo opportunity. That is nonsense.

The Pope, Cardinal O'Malley, bishops and priests across the United States and Canada and many countries have taken this very seriously. We have exposed it. We've been brought to our knees and we stand with the victims.

It's about time snap engages in the process of healing rather than hurling stones. No healing is brought about unless we all rebrand ourselves and come about as instruments of reconciliation. That's my message. And so the snap people have got it a bit wrong. TAPPER: Father Thomas Rosica, good to see you as always. Thank you

for your time.

ROSICA: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Turning to the politics lead now.

While Hillary Clinton coyly dodges questions about her possible presidential campaign, she is not able to outrun repeated questions about a moment from her past. Now for the first time on camera, the potential 2016 hopeful is talking about a court case that goes all the way back to her work as an attorney in 1975 when she was appointed as public defender of a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. Now at the time, Clinton questioned the mental state of the victim who is now 52. And the victim accuses the former secretary of state of dragging her through hell.

Our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is following the story for us.

Brianna, how is Clinton addressing this now?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, unexpectedly in Europe and also straight to camera, so that is interesting. She answered this question during her swing through Europe as part of her book tour. She fielded questions from readers on Mum's net which a leading British parenting Web site visited mostly by women. She talked about contraceptive rights, guns advise for young women and she also commented on this rape case.

One reader asking her, as a lawyer you defended the rapist of a 12- year-old girl calling the victim quote "emotionally unstable" and saying the girls have a tendency to quote "exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences" especially when they come from disorganized family. The question was any comment and here is what Clinton said.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: When I was a 27-year-old attorney doing legal aid work at the lawsuit I taught in State Ville, Arkansas, I was appointed by the local judge to represent a criminal defendant accused of rape. I asked to be relieved of that responsibility, but I was not. And I had a professional duty to represent my client to the best of my ability, which I did. He later pled guilty to a lesser included offense.

When you are a lawyer, you often don't have the choice as to who you will represent. And by the very nature of criminal law, there will be those who you represent who you don't approve of, but at least in our system, you have an obligation. And once I was appointed, I fulfilled that obligation.


KEILAR: Now Clinton does not address the part of the question about how she challenged the victim's mental state, instead emphasizing she was doing her job.

Conservative outside groups opposed to a Hillary Clinton run in 2016 highlighted this episode saying that it is counter to her image as a champion of women and girls. But at this point, Jake, it's still unclear how big of an issue it would be for Hillary Clinton if she decides to run.

TAPPER: Well, she clearly had thought about an answer to the question and came prepared.

KEILAR: I think it's clear that she -- it was a very well thought out answer. That's how I read it.

TAPPER: Yes. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Coming up, it's not like they can't afford to pay. They just don't want to pay. The big name companies using any tactic they can to get out of billions in taxes. How are they getting away with it?

Plus, as president, he was a bore. But his secret life behind closed doors, well, that appears to be anything but. The racy love letters written by the married man and his desperate request to his mistress, ahead.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Time now for the CNN Money Lead. American companies doing everything within their power to pay the U.S. government less money. That's a time-honored tradition, but the latest trend, all the corporations are doing something called inversion. Companies listed on the American stock exchanges are packing up and leaving anywhere USA and building their new headquarters in tax havens, scattered across the globe.

It's already caught on with companies like Garmin, Michael Kors, Carnival and Nielsen, drug maker, Pfizer had a deal to invert fall through earlier this year. Now Walgreens is thinking of heading for foreign shores. The loopholes becoming so popular in Wall Street board rooms, Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation says the government is set to lose $19.5 billion in tax revenues over the next decade.

Joining me now is assistant managing editor of "Fortune" magazine, Lee Gallagher. Lee, great to see you as always. Inversion, it's the topic of "Fortune's" cover story hitting newsstands this week. It's perfectly legal. Even though companies are just picking up and leaving, they can still reap the benefits of the U.S. system? How does this work?

LEE GALLAGHER, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: It is perfectly legal. It's called inversion. Our writer, Alan Sloan, who wrote this article is very angry about this. He goes one step further and he calls it desertion. These companies are deserters. It's been legal for quite some time, but we are seeing more companies do it. Nothing really changes physically. You might still see the headquarters on whatever parkway in whatever city or state they are based in the U.S. or were, but it's about the financials. What we find is so questionable or wrong about this is these companies are drawing from so many benefits that you get when you are an American company. Benefit from our deep financial system and markets. Our rule of law and democracy. Benefiting from our physical or intellectual infrastructure. A lot of these companies are drawing technologies from our research institutions or testing them on the military or having the military as their first customers.

All these benefits that come with being an American company, they are getting all of those, but not paying for it. This is different, by the way, from what we heard about GE and Apple who might siphon some profits through subsidiary overseas. This is one step further than that.

TAPPER: What can the government due to stop this free loading, to stop the wave of companies from leaving yet remaining here enough to enjoy the benefits of being an American company?

GALLAGHER: Well, one thing a lot of people say just reform the tax code. The reason why companies do this it's so much more competitive over there, but then we just encourage a race to the bottom. We can do things to reform it, to make it more competitive. What we also need to do and Alan Sloan argues in this article is really to tighten the loopholes, tighten the regulations.

We used to be, you know, the S&P used to say you cannot list on our exchange if you do this. They loosened their rules because out of fear that basically another rival index that might start up that would allow this because, you know, more and more companies are doing it. So now 28 companies on the S&P are headquartered somewhere else.

TAPPER: The elephant in the room here is that the corporate tax rate in this country is 35 percent. In Ireland it's 12.5 percent, of course, companies are going to want to pay lower taxes.

GALLAGHER: Of course, they are, but you know, you also have to look at it, the long term -- that is a short-term solution. Every CEO would scream at me for saying that. What you also have to look at is the fiscal health of our country. Some of these CEOs doing this have been publicly saying we need a strong, financially strong economy and country to sustain our well-being. Then they are draining it from the other end. So that's what is the problem here and some of these CEOs, one was on the campaign to fix the debt. This is draining the tax base and arguably adding to the debt.

TAPPER: Fascinating. Lee Gallagher, thank you so much.

Coming up next, it was the steamiest of love affairs. A married politician who would later become president of the United States cheating with literally his neighbor's wife. Now the very detailed letters are released. Everyone is asking, that guy? Really?


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Buried Lead now, plagued by scandal, President Warren Harding was not one for Mount Rushmore. Even William Howard Taft may have been more memorable, although that was for getting stuck in a bath tub. It is a historical stunner that some, most historians wrote off, was the most lascivious Lothario.


TAPPER (voice-over): We've heard all the rumors about JFK, read all about Clinton, we've seen more than enough of Anthony Weiner, but it turns out the steamiest and best documented of Washington's wanton lust comes from Warren G. Harding.

JAMES ROBENALT, AUTHOR, "THE HARDING AFFAIR": People think that 100 years ago nobody had sex fantasies. I keep telling people, if those people didn't have sex fantasies, we wouldn't be here today.

TAPPER: Don't let the top hat fool you. These letters are not proper, 1,000 pages of notes. Not to Harding's wife, but to his mistress will be released online by the library of Congress at the end of this month. Their public display goes against every explicitly written desire of the nation's 29th president although they are not that tough to square with the historical consensus that he was one of America's worst presidents ever.

The letters were written between 1910 and 1920, and shipped to his mistress in Ohio via railway rail service in a train like this one. They preceded his time as president, but do include all, but one year in his time under U.S. Senate. They have been under lock and key 50 years under a court-ordered seal.

Page after page of Harding's hand writing described as his eager, passion, jealous, reverend, wistful love for his neighbor's wife, Kerry Phillips. He wrote, "I wonder if you realize how much, how faithfully, how gladly, how passionately, yes, you do know the last, you must have felt the proof." Proof, it turns out was something she may have been very interested in. Some experts believe that she may have been a German spy.

ROBENALT: She was being followed by the Bureau of Investigation as someone who was a spy. I think that this was kind of an insurance policy for her to keep these letters that people would not bother her if they knew that she had them.

TAPPER: Just as modern day Casanovas try in vain to delete e-mails, text messages, the married presidential hopeful pleaded with his lover to dispose of the evidence. "I you should have a fire. Chuck them. You must. Having so many letters on hand, all my love making is old to you, it is old, a darling old story which isn't to be made new."

ROBENALT: It became urgent once he started running for president and she asked for money. She blackmailed him. He said, look, I'll pay you $5,000 a year as long as I'm in office. You've got to give me those letters back. She kept the letters.

TAPPER: Jim Robenalt spent five years investigating for his book "The Harding Affair" and discovered the lengths to hide their love including code names such as hidden code words. ROBENALT: If he was writing what he called a public letter to her that anybody could see, he would use the word "constant" and underline it. That was code for "I love you more than all the world."


TAPPER: The collection of letters only shows Harding's point of view, as he is said to have destroyed the letters Phillips wrote to him, letters that may have swayed his view on international politics. We are also told that just as Anthony Weiner goes by Carlos Danger, Warren Harding had a nickname for a certain part of his anatomy. He called it "Jerry."

Turning now to the "Pop Culture Lead." Maybe Americans finally are tired of seeing aliens invade the earth on the fourth of July or the firework show enough to satisfy our appetite for loud things that go boom. The box office turned in its weakest 4th of July in a decade ever. Melissa McCarthy's R-rated "Tammy" didn't do great in theaters or critics.

If you sync this new album up with "Mall Cop" the songs will correspond to every scene in the movie. I'm joking. Pink Floyd announced it is releasing its first album in 20 years. The album titled "The Endless River" will be out in October based on recording sessions they did in 1994 when they released what was supposed to be their final album.

The word "New" is relative here. It's not clear whether the band will really go old school and reunite with Roger Waters, the guy behind a lot of Floyd's Trippi psychedelic haunting sound.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketrapper and also attheleadcnn, be sure to check out our show page at lead for video, blogs and extras. Subscribe to our magazine on "Flipboard." That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer who is right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Wolf.