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Images of Pluto; President Obama Speaks out on American Prisoners, Bill Cosby; Donald Trump Releases Financial Information. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 15, 2015 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:03]

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And before we get to a historic moment involving space and NASA, Donald Trump, who is currently leading Republican presidential candidates in some polls, just released his financial information moments ago, and he says he is worth more than $10 billion.

So let me bring in politics reporter M.J. Lee, senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, and political reporter Sara Murray.

I know we're all sort of looking through this, but this is a new number, M.J.

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: This is a new number.

What we have so far, before this filing came out -- and actually we should clarify that we don't actually have the SEC filing yet. What we have is a press release from the Trump campaign basically summarizing what we can expect to find. So, until we see that, we won't actually be able to see the full details, but that being said, the press release says that Trump's net worth is now in excess of $10 billion.

That's compared to $8.7 billion that they had previously reported in his summary, and that was as of June 2014. So, over the course of a year, it sounds like his net worth probably went up by about $1 billion, if I'm doing the math correctly.

(CROSSTALK)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: What's $1 billion among friends, right?

BROWN: Yes, exactly.

Sara, I'm going to bring you in because there was some doubt as far as whether he was even going to release this form and in fact he talks about that in his statement, in the press release, you know, that there were these naysayers, and not only did I do this, but I did it before I even could have essentially. What's your reaction to this?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, there were a lot of people, a lot of Republicans especially

who said once Donald Trump has to reveal his financials, he will get out of race then. There's nothing to worry about. He will be out before you know it. It's clear that he does not want to play into that narrative. Like M.J. Lee said, right now, we have a press release.

We have not seen the official filing, so that's the caveat here. But, look, he does delve into some details in this press release, including an updated number on his net worth, including his annual income, which for 2014 was $362 million. And he talks a little bit about what he was paid for doing his 14 seasons of "The Apprentice," which ended up being nearly $214 million from NBC.

So he's giving us even in this press release sort of a better glimpse into his finances.

BROWN: I have got to bring in Brian Stelter on that.

What's your reaction? I see you sort of...

STELTER: You know, I can't imagine that to be true.

BROWN: Really?

STELTER: I just don't -- I have covered television for 10 years. I can't imagine a reality show host like Trump making $213 million from a show, even though we should say it's a popular show. It used to be really popular, used to get 10, 20 million viewers. He was doing it for a lot of seasons, so over time he would make more as the contract was renewed.

But the idea that he would make $200 million from the show, the first reaction that I saw from a source at a major network was absolutely ridiculous.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: What would you think would be more realistic?

STELTER: Yes, someone like him is going to make seven figures, at least, millions of dollars for every season. The idea that it's over $200 million to me just reacted initially, having covered TV for a long time, seems like a real stretch.

NBC is not going to comment. They will let this out there and we will see in the actual financial disclosure forms once they are filed with the FEC if there's more information about that.

LEE: And I would point one number that I think we want to pay close attention to is how much cash Trump has on hand. I have heard different numbers from different people that are aware of his finances; $350 million, for example, is a number that I have heard. It just is going to be a number that's indicative of, can he put a lot of his own money into the campaign and make himself all the more competitive against someone like Jeb Bush, who we know has raised $110 million, which is no small change?

BROWN: Absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: This press release, this really goes and shows what is making him appealing to some voters. Look at the first line of the press release. "This report was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump's massive wealth."

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: No other candidate can say something like that.

The words $10 billion are in caps. You know, they're in caps about his net worth. It's that kind of bravado that's really appealing to some voters and yet laughable to others. So it makes him such a unique character in this race.

BROWN: The bottom line,is, as of the latest poll we saw from Suffolk University, he's ahead, neck and neck with Jeb Bush, but he's still ahead, Sara. Do you think that played into the calculus at all for releasing this information today, this press release?

MURRAY: Well, I think part of it was sort of to snub critics who said he wasn't going to do it. The other part of it is the debates, and there is some pressure that appears to be coming from FOX News to get candidates to release their financials in order to get on the debate stage.

There's been some negotiations going back and forth on that, and I think Donald Trump wants to be on the debate stage. I think the irony of all of this, you know, Donald Trump, the guy who pulled in $362 million in 2014, is really appealing to a populist wing of the Republican Party.

So this idea that people are uncomfortable with rich candidates just does not seem to be the case with Donald Trump. Republicans like him, and like that he's been a successful businessman. They like this wealth and it's not a deterrent for a lot of them in their support of Donald Trump.

[15:05:03]

BROWN: It's clearly resonating with a lot of voters.

Quickly, do we know when we're going to find out more information, when those forms are actually going to be available?

LEE: It can sometimes take a couple of days, so maybe later this week. Maybe it ends up being later today.

BROWN: OK, great. Thanks you so much, M.J. Lee, Sara Murray, and Brian Stelter. We appreciate it. .

STELTER: Thanks. BROWN: And we want to turn now to CNN's special live coverage of a

historic event involving space, NASA any moment getting ready to reveal the very first images of Pluto. This is a mission that was nine years in the making.

Let's take a look here. We're going to look at a live picture from the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland, near Baltimore, where NASA is getting ready to hold a news conference. In fact, it looks like, guys, talk to me in my ear -- OK, we are going to bring that to you as soon as it starts.

But, first, let me give you a little bit of background on this. So, the New Horizon spacecraft was spacecraft was sent by NASA and has traveled more than three billion miles. The piano-sized spacecraft went over Pluto about 7,750 miles from its surface, making it the first ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth.

That is what is partly was so significant about this, so as soon as it signaled back to Earth, missions operations in Florida erupted in cheer. It was quite a moment for all of these people working so hard on this and waiting these nine years for this to happen, for this moment to happen, and we see these cheers happening right now. As you see, they are holding American flags.

Bill Nye there, he's about to join me on set, so a lot of celebrations because so much could have gone wrong here.

I want to bring in on that note this incredible achievement, talk more about that with Bill Nye, the Science Guy, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers and CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien.

Chad, first to you. What should we expect here? This is an incredible moment. We're waiting to see these first pictures of Pluto. What can we expect, and why is this such a big deal?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's such a big deal because of the photo, the image that was released on the Internet a couple days ago.

That was from 478,000 miles away. This spacecraft got 60 times closer between then and when the latest image that we're going to see soon was taken, so the resolution will be stunning. It really will be. We will be able to tell whether the circles we see, are they truly, could they be volcanic or are they likely more a meteor crash, you know, basically that's what there is.

But we will be able to see if there's maybe some -- a basalt field. Is there anything we know of in the local or some of the planets we have already visited, the moon that we visited, is there anything like that in what we know of our solar system, or is this just a completely new world?

BROWN: I want to bring in Bill Nye. I think I just saw you there celebrating.

BILL NYE, THE SCIENCE GUY: Yes, I was there yesterday.

BROWN: What was that like?

(CROSSTALK)

NYE: Oh, it's amazing.

Just understand for me it's really personal. I -- you know, I was the vice president of the Planetary Society at that time. I want to Barbara Mikulski's office, senator from Maryland, where the Applied Physics Lab is, and we had 10,000 postcards from people who just thought this is cool.

BROWN: Wow.

NYE: And she pushed for it, the senator, and Bill Frist, the representative from the area, pushed for this mission in the year 2000. I and I guess Miles was at the launch in 2006, January 9; nine- and-a-half years later...

BROWN: Wow, unbelievable.

NYE: ... we get these pictures, man. It's just fantastic.

And so everybody -- you know, you go to schools and whatever and you say to kids, what's your favorite planet? And still my favorite planet is Earth, but some people will say Pluto. So now we have pictures of Pluto.

BROWN: Of the dwarf planet Pluto, which was discovered 85 years ago.

NYE: Yes.

And his kids were there.

BROWN: That's right.

NYE: Adrian (ph) and...

BROWN: That's OK if you can't remember their name.

(CROSSTALK)

NYE: Annette (ph). Annette (ph). Excuse me. No, no, it's all good.

So, there are a lot of numbers running through my head today. We are going to get about 10 times the resolution, 10.1 times the resolution that we had yesterday, and you can really see on Pluto that it's this world with different geologic regions.

I mean, you don't have to be a full geologist to see there's different patches. We have nitrogen snow, nitro snow, and then the dark regions seem to be very long chain carbon molecules like 150 carbons in a row up to maybe 1,000 carbons strung together and they turn like tar, like asphalt, and so that's nitro tar on Pluto.

And then there's the north pole, looking at -- what humans call the north pole. If there are any Plutonians, I don't know what they call it. But it's an extraordinary thing to finally have this picture.

So, for me, this is the third solar system. Have you ever gotten this story? We live on the first. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars Are rocky, solid, iron, nickel things.

[15:10:02]

BROWN: Yes. And then you have the gas giants.

NYE: Then you got your gas giants, exactly.

BROWN: I'm learning.

(CROSSTALK)

NYE: Your Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus.

And then after that is this whole like thousands of these other worlds and Pluto is the first among them.

BROWN: Wow.

NYE: So people call them Kuiper belt, and I don't speech Dutch. I think it's Kuiper belt objects.

BROWN: And that's where the New Horizons, it's going down the Kuiper belt.

I want to bring in Miles on this.

NYE: Oh, great. Yes.

BROWN: Because through the New Horizons, Miles, we're getting these images of Pluto and its five moons, which, by the way, I have to admit I didn't know that Pluto had five moons.

(CROSSTALK)

NYE: The word moon, you see, when you're out that far, who is the moon and who is the body?

BROWN: Exactly. Exactly.

But, Miles, it seems like, and feel free to weigh in, Chad and Bill, it seems like so much could have gone wrong here.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Oh, man.

BROWN: And it's really miraculous that this was -- this machine, the New Horizons, was able to pull this off. What is your reaction to that, and what could have gone wrong here?

O'BRIEN: Well, just about anything that you can name, from the launch, which is highly risky, all the way to running into some sort of debris along the way. This is the fastest spacecraft ever to leave our planet. It made it to the moon, our moon, in about nine hours. It took U.S.

astronauts in the Apollo capsules four days to do that. It was going one times faster than a speeding bullet as it passed by Pluto. Now, you can imagine, it doesn't take much of a collision to cause the end of that mission, so the fact that it made three billion miles, nearly 10 years in space and has apparently performed flawlessly is a testament to ingenuity and I might add a lot of clever simplicity.

They could have made a much bigger, more elaborate mission, which would have gone slower, might have had the ability to orbit, which would be kind of cool, but going for the simple, lean, fast approach in this case I think was the way to go.

BROWN: OK, Chad, Miles, Bill, stick around, because we're still waiting for those pictures. We want to get your reaction.

We have to get to a quick break.

And up next, just moments ago, President Obama scolding a reporter over a question about the four American prisoners being held in Iran. Up next, I'm talking to the wife of one of those prisoners.

Plus, the president defines rape when asked about Bill Cosby. It was a surprising moment, and Don Lemon joins us live to discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:16:36]

BROWN: Welcome back.

A major criticism of the Iran nuclear agreement is the reality that three Americans detained inside Iran and a fourth American reported missing there were not brought home as part of the deal. Jason Rezaian is a "Washington Post" reporter accused of espionage now facing a secret trial.

Amir Hekmati is a former U.S. Marine held since 2011 also accused of spying. And Saeed Abedini is a Christian pastor held by Iran since 2012. And Robert Levinson is a former FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007, officially listed as missing, not detained.

Saeed Abedini's wife, Naghmeh Abedini, joins me now from Boise, Idaho.

I'm really eager to hear your thoughts, Naghmeh. But first I want to hear -- I want everyone to hear remarks by President Obama when he was asked earlier today about your husband and other Americans still held in Iran. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: As you well know, there are four Americans in Iran, three held on trumped-up charges and according to your administration one whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why are you content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation and the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?

And last week the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said under no circumstances should there be any relief for Iran in terms of ballistic missiles or conventional weapons. It's perceived that that was a last-minute capitulation in these negotiations. Many in the Pentagon feel you have left the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff hung out to dry. Would you comment?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have got to give you credit, Major, for how you craft those questions.

The notion that I'm content as I celebrate with Americans citizens languishing in Iranian jail jails, Major, that's -- that's nonsense, and you should know better.

I have met with the families of some of those folks. Nobody's content. And our diplomats and our teams are working diligently to try to get them out.

Now, if the question is why we did not tie the negotiations to their release, think about the logic that that creates. Suddenly, Iran realizes, you know what? Maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals. It makes it much more difficult for us to walk away if Iran somehow thinks that a nuclear deal is dependent in some fashion on -- the nuclear deal -- and, by the way, if we had walked away from the nuclear deal, we'd still be pushing them just as hard to get these folks out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: An emotional President Obama there.

I want to bring back in Naghmeh Abedini.

Naghmeh, your husband is one of those detainees still in Iran that the president was talking about. What is your reaction to his comments we just heard?

NAGHMEH ABEDINI, HUSBAND DETAINED IN IRAN: Well, I am one of the families that he did meet with in January of this year, and I saw sincerity and concern when we did meet -- he got to meet my two kids -- that he would try everything to bring Saeed and the other Americans out. He promised me that. He said he did it with the Cuban prisoner and he would do it for my husband.

[15:20:03]

I think the nuclear deal has made it more difficult. I have never asked for Saeed to be part of the deal, but I have hoped that, on the sidelines, as discussed before, that he would -- that his release would be secure as we still have some leverage with the Iranian government, and that has been my hope, that his release would have been secured even on the sidelines.

BROWN: Are you surprised that that didn't happen?

ABEDINI: I am. I am.

I was hoping that I would hear some good news, but I do think, as the president said, he does care. He's concerned and they are working on it. I had a call with State and they are working on it. They couldn't promise me a timeline. They couldn't promise me that his release has been secured, but that they are working on it, that it is a top priority.

But it was hard. I guess I had put too much -- a lot of expectation and hope that, with hearing about the deal, I would also get a call that my husband was coming home. And it was emotional not hearing that.

BROWN: And have you heard from anyone since the deal?

ABEDINI: Well, I have spoken with our government, with our State Department, and, again, they said they are working on it, and they couldn't promise that his release has been secured.

Saeed's father has visited Saeed in prison today, and, unfortunately, Saeed is in the hand of the hard-liners. And I have discussed this with our government, with State Department, and his situation gets worse. These are the people that are -- have a lot of control inside of Iran. They are ones that are chanting death to America, and they are the ones that are holding Saeed in prison, and it's urgent that we get him out quickly.

BROWN: When you hear the president's explanation as to why this wasn't tied to the deal, the fact that Iran would have just asked for more concessions, what -- what's your reaction to that? Is that reasonable to you, or do you think that's just not a good enough explanation?

ABEDINI: You know, it makes sense, and it's something they have been up front with me and the other families from the beginning, that it would not be part of the deal. They have said that.

Every call I have had with the State Department and the White House has been the , but, again, I have known also that they have been talking to the Iranian government on the sidelines. So it does make sense that he was not part of the deal, but I was hoping maybe on the sidelines as they were reaching a deal they were also securing the release of Saeed and the other Americans.

But his explanation does make sense. I never wanted my husband to be part of having to give up something, our government and the rest of the world to have to give up something for their release, and I didn't want that to be used as part of the deal.

BROWN: And just to remind our viewers, your husband, Naghmeh, has been held on September of 2012 on charges related to his conversion from Islam to Christianity. He's even been accused of attempting to undermine the Iranian government. How often do you hear from him, and how is he doing, given his circumstances?

ABEDINI: You know, as you mentioned, he's there because of his Christian faith and that's been the faith that has really given me and my family strength through this time and given Saeed strength to continue.

He's been in and out of solitary. He has physical pain. He's had beatings, and he's able to continue because of that. He's very emotional. He has missed out almost now four birthdays. My daughter will be 9 in a few months and she was 5 last time she saw him, and that's really emotional for him, that he's missed out on so many of milestones and the kids growing up and our family.

But, you know, I'm just hoping we can get him home quickly, but he's strong in his faith and, again, the hard-liners in Iran don't like that he's a Christian, he's a convert. But, as you mentioned, Iranian government labels gives the -- for all the religious minorities, that's the label they give. They say that they undermine the national security of Iran by being a different religion.

BROWN: Naghmeh Abedini, thank you so much for coming on. I imagine it's a very difficult time for you and coming on and sharing that story. We appreciate it.

ABEDINI: Thank you so much for covering this I appreciate it.

BROWN: And up next right here in NEWSROOM, during his news conference today, President Obama also asked to comment on Bill Cosby. You are going to hear what he had to say, a very fiery response up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:28:43]

BROWN: President Obama a short time ago responding to questions about comedian Bill Cosby and the call to revoke Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom amid allegations of rape from more than two dozen women. Here's the president's answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: With respect to the Medal of Freedom, there's no precedent for revoking a medal. We don't have that mechanism.

And, as you know, I tend to make it a policy not to comment on the specifics of cases where there might still be, if not criminal, then civil issues involved.

I'll say this. If you give a woman, or a man, for that matter, without his or her knowledge, a drug and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: All right.

To discuss, let's bring in CNN's Gloria Borger and Don Lemon.

Don, first to you. Are you surprised that he commented on this? DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm shocked that he's commented, but I'm also

glad that he commented on it.

And I thought his -- I thought his -- his comments were right on the mark and appropriate. He said, you know, "I don't comment on specifics."