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Conservative Radio Host Slams Trump on 9/11 Claim; Turning Points: Fighting Parkinson's with Magic & Music; The Newly Released Letters of Pope John Paul II. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 17, 2016 - 08:30   ET



[08:34:01] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president. And the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hmm, let's take a look at what the president seems to be saying about Donald J. Trump. He's saying he's not going to be the next commander in chief. But the president's a very smart guy. He must be looking at the polls.

Take a look at them. Quinnipiac's got new numbers out now saying Trump's got a prohibitive lead almost across the country. You look in Nevada, big lead. South Carolina, big lead. Among evangelical, who many felt that group would be a big inroads for Cruz, maybe Carson, but certainly Cruz, not so much. He's got over 40 percent of evangelicals as well.

But it does raise a question that may wind up supporting the president's conclusion, which is, how is Trump getting to that level of popularity? And may he wind up - wind up hurting himself within the party so much as the result?

Let's discuss with Katrina Pierson, Trump campaign's national spokesperson.

Katrina, always good to see you.


CUOMO: What I'm talking about is this notion of mutually assured destruction that's starting to circle around your man Donald Trump. That what he's saying may be making him popular but may be hurting Republicans. No less than Mark Levin is making the case against him now. Take a listen to what he had to say.


MARK LEVIN (voice-over): The fact that he attacked George Bush as a commander in chief, not because he disagreed with him, but he attacked him as a liar who knew there were not weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and said he was responsible for 9/11 and he was responsible for those towers coming down. Ladies and gentlemen, that's why I posted on my Facebook, this guy sounds like Code Pink. Sounds like a radical cook. All the rest aside, all of it aside, I know too many gold star families who lost sons over there to hear this 9/11 truther crap, which is pretty close to it. Pretty damn close to it.


CUOMO: So, what is your reaction to a not so happy Mark Levin and his millions of listeners?

PIERSON: Well, you know, I think there's some credibility issues here considering how Mark Levin is supporting Ted Cruz and has a member working in the senator's office. But, you know, I - if I was a Ted Cruz supporter, I wouldn't be happy right now too. I mean you mentioned the statistics on the evangelicals voters, of Mr. Trump getting 40 percent.

But I will say this, Donald Trump did not say that George Bush - it was George Bush's fault. He said George Bush didn't keep us safe. And there are 3,000 families that agree with that. Particularly when you're talking about the campaign that Donald Trump - Donald Trump launched back in June, the whole premise was border security. And then we got into the - the Muslim immigration from hostile nations. These are all things that should have been the top priority of all presidents in the past, and they weren't, Chris.

CUOMO: However, Katrina, we both know that Donald Trump went farther than that with respect to the war, at least initially. I know sometimes he gets out over his skis and then backs up, and he did here. But the word "lying" and it being attached to what the president's motivation and the administration's motivation was then was at a minimum implied, if not explicitly stated, by Donald Trump. He then backed off it, but you do have to own the original statement as well, especially when it's such an anathema to Republicans. Nobody says that about President Bush on the left, let alone the right.

PIERSON: Well, Donald Trump is the outsider. He's not inside the echo chamber or the hall of mirrors, per say. You know, he's saying exactly what happened. They said there were weapons of mass destruction and there wasn't. We are still in the Middle East today. How many years and how many lives is it going to take to take a step back and reevaluate this process. When you're talking about somebody like Jeb Bush, who's hired a lot of the same people that were the architects of this war, how is he going to get us out of this? No one's questioning the leadership that George W. Bush put forth after 9/11. Jeb Bush is no George Bush.

CUOMO: Look, I understand what the point of attack is. I understand about broadening the tent. I'm just saying that at some point he's going to need the party. He's going to need people. You say he's an outsider. He's been an outside - he's been inside, he's been all over the place. One of these malleability is the strength of him. However, what you're saying about the war, yes, there are people who believe you about that, may even agree, but they ain't going to be voting for you in primaries, a lot of them, and the party's not going to like it. And then the stuff about the party. They fix the debates. They have people in the audience there specifically to boo me. The party says it's not true. Why make war with the RNC? Why make war with your own?

PIERSON: Well, I think you'd have to go back and last couple of cycles and ask the RNC why they've made war with their own base. One of the reasons that have given rise to someone like Donald Trump is because you had the party try to stomp out its own base, criticizing them, calling them names over the last couple of cycles. So this really is an RNC problem.

Donald Trump has put people back in politics. And, yes, some people may not like what he says or how he says it, but at the end of the day, we're seeing a lot of people and new people coming in behind Donald Trump because of the policies. This is very important moving forward when you look at the type of crowds that Mr. Trump is bringing. He has brought on the fence (ph). There are libertarians supporting Donald Trump, veterans supporting Donald Trump, millennial, minorities. There is a broad spectrum there.

CUOMO: Do you think it's the policies or do you think it's the pot shots, that he is appealing to people in a way that certainly over rides the brain, which is the stomach and the heart, that they like what they're hearing from him and it's not necessarily policy talk it's about every - how everybody and everyone stinks (ph).

PIERSON: Well, I'm going to say it's policy first because the immigration policy that was put out is really what catapulted him to the top, and that's where he's been this whole time. But you're right, there is a combination of the - the political correctness that just is non-existent in our campaign and I'm very proud of because not only do we have to fight back against the establishment in the party, but we're going to have to fight back against liberals and the media and the only way to do that is to have someone bold enough and courageous enough to say what needs to be said.

[08:40:11] CUOMO: Last question. A very particular one among people on social media when they knew you were going to be coming on. They want to see where the money went from the big event, the $6 million. They want to see which groups got it, how it was allocated. They say it hasn't been put out yet. I couldn't find it on the site. Is that something that you could put up or explain for us?

PIERSON: Absolutely. There is a list on the website. That list - I think it was 22 or 23 organizations that received the money. I just saw an article yesterday of one of the organizations that received $100,000 check and they were surprised. But there are some articles coming out now of those - those organizations that did receive those checks and the list is on the website.

CUOMO: All right, good. Katrina Pierson, thank you very much. Appreciate you being on NEW DAY.

PIERSON: It's great to be here.

CUOMO: All right, Mic.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: An interesting story ahead here. It's a side of Pope John Paul II hardly anyone knew about. Newly released letters and what they reveal about personal relationships the pope had, ahead.


[08:45:11] PEREIRA: All right, here are the five things to know for your new day.

At number one, President Obama challenging Senate Republicans to do their job once he picks a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The president promises to make his choice in due time.

Meanwhile, the president also letting loose on Republican presidential contenders, especially Donald Trump. He says he has faith in the American people and predicts the billionaire will not become the next president.

A new CNN/ORC poll out this morning shows the Democrats in a statistical tie ahead of the Nevada caucus Saturday. Donald Trump dominating the GOP field in Nevada with more than the next three contenders combined.

Apple is pushing back on a federal judge's ruling demanding the company help the FBI access a phone used by one of the San Bernardino killers. CEO Tim Cook says doing so would set a bad precedent.

C.J. the German shorthaired pointer from Temecula, California, wins best in show at the 140th Westminster Kennel Dog Show beating out 3,000 other dog. It's a dynasty of sorts. C.J.'s grandmother took the top prize back in 2005.

And as always, you can get more on the five things by visiting

Living with Parkinson's can make everyday activities very difficult. A Philadelphia man, though, is fighting his diagnosis. He's using music and magic.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has his story on this week's "Turning Points."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Richard Horn is quite the Renaissance man. Musician, woodworker, magician.

RICHARD HORN, LIVING WITH PARKINSON'S DISEASE: I can literally turn them into 100 dollar bills.

GUPTA: A neuroscientist by trade, he's also a professor emeritus of physiology at Thomas Jefferson University.

HORN: I am a passionate man of many ways.

GUPTA: When Richard was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2010, he thought he'd have to give up doing what he loves.

HORN: It was just devastating because I saw all of the beauty of magic and music being taken away from me.

GUPTA (on camera): Parkinson's disease is a progressive motor system disorder that can cause a gradual loss of movement. Symptoms seem pretty mild at first. Sometimes just a hand tremor, but eventually balance and coordination can also start to deteriorate. Treatments can slow the progression but as things stand now, there is no cure.

(voice-over): Richard refuses to let the disease stop him. The 70- year-old still plays piano several times a week.

HORN: It improves my coordination pretty dramatically.

Everybody gets four cards.

GUPTA: And performs magic. He says his shows have actually gotten better.

HORN: It changed my focus. To people, poetry and artistry are things that drive magic. Not fast hands.

GUPTA: He's also encouraging others not to give up, just like him.

HORN: For the moment I'm motivated to keep going. It will get harder, but it isn't necessarily going to stop me.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


CUOMO: Another great piece from Sanjay Gupta.

We have another great story for you coming up after the break. Newly released letters from Pope John Paul II and what they reveal about his unique relationship with a married woman that lasted decades. More on that next.


[08:52:05] PEREIRA: Fascinating here. Newly uncovered letters from Pope John Paul II lending new perspective into the former pontiff's unique friendship with a Polish-American philosopher.

Joining us to discuss this morning is Barbie Nadeau. She is a CNN contributor, Rome bureau chief for "The Daily Beast" and an expert on all things Vatican. Just the person to turn to.

So Barbie, we're learning that prior to becoming pope, the cardinal -- the then-cardinal described this woman, Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, as a gift from God. Tell us a little bit about how this friendship formed. BARBIE NADEAU, ROME BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, she wrote to

the pope in 1973 in Polish. She was a Polish speaker. She wrote to him and commended him on a book that he had written as the archbishop of Krakow. The relationship began from there.

A year later she flew to Poland to meet with him and they began to collaborate on an English language version of his book. Obviously, they were writing about philosophy, a very emotional topic. They spent lots of time together in Poland, in Rome, in Naples and in Switzerland over the course of the years. A lot of people knew about her though. So she wasn't a big secret. Any biographer that's written about John Paul II has questioned, really, what their relationship was about. These letters, though, show a different side because they have never been seen before, along with these photos that came out as well.

PEREIRA: We're showing some of the pictures now. As you mentioned, anyone who knew Pope John Paul II and people, like you said, biographers say this is no new news. He has had friendships, deep relationships and friendships with many people. Men, women, children, et cetera. People of all walks of life, really. But there is an air of intimacy, a familiarity in these letters that is undeniable, Barbie.

NADEAU: No, that's absolutely right. Especially -- you really see his response to her letter. We haven't seen any of the letters that she's written. Those are, we understand, in a university library in Harvard under lock and key at this point. We don't know what she wrote to him. But in his responses he said very intimate things, almost sort of comforting her in a way that made it seem like she was struggling, she was the one perhaps struggling with the relationship or her emotion and her feelings.

In fact, many biographers who interviewed her asked her very specifically if she was in love with him. Of course, she replied how could I be in love with a middle aged clergyman? I'm a married woman. Things like that. You know, these are -- Of course, though, their relationship was intimate based on these letters. But they were really discussing an intimate topic. Philosophy is not for the light heart, you know, those without a light heart, I guess.

PEREIRA: It certainly isn't. So I'm curious. How are those letters being received in Rome, news of them?

NADEAU: Well, you know, as I said before, a lot of people knew about her. So her name was no great surprise. The intimacy of the letters, of course, really does cast more of a human light on John Paul II. You know, a lot of us only remember him in his later years when he was suffering from Parkinson's disease and we saw him in those many difficult moments. But he was a young man who -- very vibrate man, a great writer, great philosopher who spent lots of time in the mountains doing long hikes. He's very much in nature.

[08:55:08] You know, we find in some of the letters and some of the information that he spent time in Vermont at her house that she shared with her husband and her three children, you know, giving a sermon at the picnic table in the backyard, borrowing the husband's swimming trunks to go swimming in a neighbor's pond. All of these things are intimate details that we've never heard about John Paul II before.

PEREIRA: And of course, there will be people that will try to make some sort of salacious suggestion, but I think what it does, really, is it humanizes this man and, Barbie, I think that is probably the most fascinating thing. A quick final thought on that.

NADEAU: Absolutely right. This really gives him a human side and it shows that he, you know, a person can be capable of a platonic relationship, a platonic love without crossing those boundaries. No one is suggesting at all that he broke his vows of celibacy. She was a very important person in his life. She was there on the night before he died. If you'll remember, there was a long vigil being held in St. Peter's Square when he was dying. She was one of the last people to see him alive. She was that important to him that he wanted her there -- or allowed her to be there.

PEREIRA: Barbie Nadeau, what an interesting bit of insight we've gained from these letters. Again, they're one-sided because we haven't seen her letters to him. Thank you so much for joining us today to talk about all of that. Be well.

All right. That wraps it up for NEW DAY. "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello will begin right after a short break.