Return to Transcripts main page

LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Sterling's CNN Interview; Barbara Walters Interviews Shelly Sterling

Aired May 12, 2014 - 12:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD STERLING, OWNER, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: When I listened to that tape, I don't even know how I could say words like that, and I'm so sorry.

SHELLY STERLING, WIFE OF L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER DONALD STERLING: I don't love him. I pity him and I feel sorry for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Dueling interviews. Donald Sterling and his estranged wife, the apologies, the accusations and the excuses. You have to hear to believe.

And also ahead this hour, the first video purportedly showing kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, most of them Christian, now wearing Muslim head dress, as the terror leader who took them declares they've converted to Islam and is offering a new alternative to his previous threat to sell those girls.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Monday, May the 12th. And welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

Donald Sterling is speaking out exclusively to CNN for the first time since damaging racist recordings were released, and he says he's sorry if he said anything wrong. But he says he was baited and that he was set up. And he's hoping for a chance to keep the ownership of the L.A. Clippers too. Just listen to what he told our Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD STERLING, OWNER, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: I'm a good member who made a mistake, and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness. Am I entitled to one mistake? Am I -- after 35 years? I mean I love my league. I love my partners (ph). Am I entitled to one mistake? It's a terrible mistake and I'll never do it again.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, CNN'S "AC 360": The vice president of the NBA Players Association, Roger Mason, he said that the players won't accept anyone in the Sterling family owning the Clippers. Not you, not your wife, not your son-in-law, not your daughter. Do you believe that?

STERLING: I really don't know. People that are going to decide my fate I think are not the media and not the players union but the NBA.

COOPER: The owners?

STERLING: Pardon me?

COOPER: The owners?

STERLING: The owners. If the owners feel I deserve another chance, then they'll give it to me.

COOPER: But there is a path for you to fight their decision, isn't there?

STERLING: Of course. But if you fight with my partners, what at the end of the road, what do I benefit, especially at my age? If they fight with me and they spend millions and I spend millions, let's say I win or they win, I just don't know if that's important.

COOPER: Why wait so long to apologize? It's been a couple of weeks. You could have come out --

STERLING: Well, that's a very good question. I just -- I'm so emotionally distraught. And the reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it.

COOPER: Do you trust people? I mean --

STERLING: I do.

COOPER: There have been -- there have been a couple of phone recordings just in the last week or two that have come out of people that you've talked on the phone - or seems to be your voice -- who then sold it to, you know, Radar Online or TMZ. And I hear that and I think, do you have anyone you trust around you?

STERLING: I don't give interviews. The only one that I know that I talked to is Magic Johnson.

COOPER: You have talked to him?

STERLING: Twice. And then - yes, he's --

COOPER: Did you apologize?

STERLING: He knew the girl, he said. He knew the girl well. He --

COOPER: Did you apologize to him or -

STERLING: Well, if I said anything wrong, I'm sorry. He's a good person and he -- what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so. But I'll say it, I'll say it, you know, he's great, but I just don't think he is a good example for the children of Los Angeles.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BANFIELD: Pretty strong words. Anderson Cooper joining me live.

Now, first of all, congratulations. That's an incredible interview. My first question to you is this, is there anyone managing this man? Does he have a publicist, a team, an assistant, anyone who's helping guide him through this forest of bad PR?

COOPER: You know, often when you go to an interview with somebody at this kind level, there is a whole team of people behind them. There's the PR people, there's lawyers, attorneys, things like that, manager. There was none of that in this case. I mean he had two friends of his over at the house who are clearly, you know, giving him advice and trying to help him. I'm not clear even if he has hired attorneys. I was told there had been some attorneys at the house earlier in the day. But it's not clear to me that he had actually, you know, employed them.

So, you know, I think he very much is trying to figure this out and kind of find his way through this. And I think he believes that there is still a path for him to retain ownership, to keep the team, and to - and I think he's hoping to, you know, be able to convince people that he's genuine in his apology.

BANFIELD: I expected someone of his ilk, certainly he has the means, to afford any team of professionals to help right the wrongs that have been made. He's still saying things like "if I said something wrong," while at the same time saying I'm sorry and I was wrong, mixed (ph) messages, he says, "I'll never do it again." Did you get the sense, being there, it's very different on television than sitting with the man for over an hour, as you did, did you get the sense that he will never do it again because he doesn't like what's happened or that he's seen the light?

COOPER: You know, I can't peer into somebody's heart and tell you, you know, what they genuinely feel. I do believe, you know, that camera lens is a small piece of glass and truth does come through it. And I'm going to leave it up to viewers to decide whether or not they believe he's genuine. I think a number of people will see this interview, hear what - hear his apology and think, look, he's an 81-year-old man and he deserves a second chance or I feel kind of sorry for him or whatever it may be. And I think an awful lot of people are going to see it and say, he's sorry he got caught, he's not sorry necessarily for what he said.

BANFIELD: Anderson, the mere mention of how he dealt with Magic Johnson in that small snippet that - that's not all.

COOPER: That surprised me. Yes, that's not all. That's really the beginning of it. And that's -- I will say, that was the, for me, the most surprising thing that he said. And I'm not clear on why he would go down that road, kind of signaling -- singling out Magic Johnson.

BANFIELD: But it's not the last - I mean there's more coming tonight on Magic Johnson.

COOPER: There's a lot more. And I think it's going to - I think it's going to surprise and deeply offend a lot of people.

BANFIELD: Like this was the least of what he said about Michael - about Magic Johnson.

COOPER: Pretty much.

BANFIELD: Can you stick around, the hour (ph) block?

COOPER: Sure.

BANFIELD: Because there's more I want to play of your interview. Again, I commend you on a spectacular interview with a man who maybe does not know the firestorm that surrounds him. Another clip from the exclusive interview that Anderson conducted. Did he know he was being taped?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD STERLING, OWNER, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: I don't know why the girl had me say those things.

COOPER: You're saying you were set up?

STERLING: Well, yes, I was baited. I mean that's not the way I talk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Donald Sterling says he's never been a racist. That's from his exclusive interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. Sterling told Anderson that he was just as stunned as everyone else by the damning recording of him making those racist remarks. Here's his explanation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD STERLING, OWNER, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: I'm not a racist. I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I'm here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness from all the people that I've hurt. And I've hurt so many people. So many innocent people. And I hurt myself. You know, I spoke to a girl that I was fond of. When I listened to that tape, I don't even know how I could say words like that. And I'm so sorry. And I'm so apologetic.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, CNN'S "AC 360": What are you sorry about?

STERLING: Well, I'm sorry that so many people are hurt. But I never dreamt that this could happen. It's a terrible, terrible nightmare. My players, they didn't need this. They didn't need this cloud over their head. And they're good people. And I love them. And I respect them. And I would always be there for them. For them to hear that I --

COOPER: When you saw them take off their warm-up --

STERLING: That I am a possible racist is so painful to me, because I'm not a racist. And I've never been a racist. It's not me. COOPER: When you saw them take off their - wear their warm-up jerseys reverse of the name Clippers wasn't on in that first game, what did you think?

STERLING: I really didn't pay attention to it. They are Clippers and they're mine and I'm theirs. That's how I feel. I would do anything for them. I made a mistake. I hope it's in their heart to forgive me for that mistake. I don't know why the girl had me say those things.

COOPER: You're saying you were set up?

STERLING: Well, yes, I was baited. I mean, that's not the way I talk. I don't talk about people, for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things, but I don't talk about people.

COOPER: Do you know how the tape got released?

STERLING: No.

COOPER: Do you think she did it?

STERLING: It's -- I don't know. I mean, an 80-year-old man is kind of foolish and I'm kind of foolish. I thought she liked me and really cared for me. I guess being 50 years, 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself.

COOPER: Do you trust her now?

STERLING: No, I don't trust her. And I just wish I could ask her why. And if she was just setting me up. I think that people say she was taping me for two years. So maybe I was just fooling myself thinking for two years that she cared for me. She certainly acted like it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: And Anderson's back live with me now.

There was a big question about whether he knew he was being taped. I think V. Stiviano has proclaimed that she was his archivist.

COOPER: Right.

BANFIELD: That this was all planned all the way along. Was there any indication - it seems from that, no, he (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: I talked to him about this. He said categorically he did not know he was being recorded at all. And as for her being the archivist, which is a claim that I believe her attorney once made, he, Donald Sterling - I asked him about that and he said, what's an archivist? Like, absolutely not, she was not an archivist. I'm too young to have my story told. And so, you know, exactly the nature of their relationship, he wouldn't really go into whether or not it was a sexual relationship. We talk a lot about, you know, the gifts that he gave her, how he saw those gifts. You know, whether they really are gifts for her. And he has a lot to say on that. BANFIELD: In the interview, as I saw the two of you on a two-shot we like to say in the industry, it just appeared to me, this looked like a man who's very used to getting what he wants at times and has lived a life thus and sort of can't believe this silliness is getting in the way and that all he needs to do is say, look, I'm sorry, let's just move on with it all and it's all going to be OK.

COOPER: Well, I certainly think he feels there's business to be done for the Clippers, there's good things ahead for the team, there's things that he believes he can do for the team still that others can't, deals that can be made, deals that are on his desk. He believes that there is a role for him to play with this team and he believes, you know, that he is the guy to do that. And he cannot imagine, I think, actually not being an owner of the L.A. Clippers. When the interview was over, he went and watched the game on television.

BANFIELD: Really?

COOPER: Which I found interesting. I mean, when I left, that's what he was going to watch, the Clippers game.

BANFIELD: Still with no team of professionals surrounding him, might be the, you know, first step if that's his plan. (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: I mean I sort of appreciated the fact that, you know, he wasn't surrounded by this team that were sort of shaping his message, that he was just talking.

BANFIELD: Right.

COOPER: I thought, you know what, that -- it says something about who he is, how he's lived, that he believes, you know, the power of his words will be enough. And so I'm always, you know, whenever I come to a situation, somebody's always surrounded by media professionals, I'm always --

BANFIELD: You're suspect, sure.

COOPER: I'm always suspect. And I kind of appreciated the fact that, you know what, it's Donald Sterling. You call him up. He answers the phone. And it's - he is what he is.

BANFIELD: By the same token, those are Donald Sterling's words. They're nobody else's. You know, they weren't shappen either (ph) up (ph). It's great - it's great work. Full interview tonight at 8:00 on your program, live.

COOPER: Right.

BANFIELD: And a lot more coming. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

COOPER: Yeah.

BANFIELD: Anderson, as always, great work.

And it turns out while you were busy doing your incredible interview, his estranged wife was also chatting it up with Barbara Walters, and she had a lot to say about the relationship and the big "D," divorce, whether she's actually going to do this or not, and what she has in store in terms of fighting till the death for that team.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: As L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was giving his side of the story to Anderson Cooper, his wife was also speaking out. Shelly Sterling told ABC's Barbara Walters that she wants to keep her half of the Clippers team, and she also addressed the racist remarks that her husband made.

Just listen to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: Is Donald Sterling a racist?

SHELLY STERLING, WIFE OF DONALD STERLING: I have never heard him say racial things. It was horrible when I heard it. I mean, it was just degrading and it made me sick to hear it. But as far as racist, I don't really think he is a racist. I don't love him. I pity him, and I feel sorry for him.

WALTERS: Mrs. Sterling, you own 50 percent of the L.A. Clippers. The NBA may insist that the team be sold. What would you do then?

STERLING: Well, that's -- I'm fighting for my 50 percent.

WALTERS: Well, there are reports that the NBA wants to out of you completely as a team owner. You'll find that decision?

STERLING: I will fight that decision.

WALTERS: What does the team mean to you?

STERLING: It means a lot. I've been with the team for 33 years. Through the good times and the bad times. And it's my passion it and I love it.

WALTERS: Do you support the NBA's decision to ban your husband?

STERLING: I can't comment on that. I was shocked by what he said. And, you know, I guess whatever their decision is, we have to live with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Well, the NBA responded to Shelly's comments about wanting to keep her half of the team, and they did so with a pretty terse little statement.

It says, "Under the NBA constitution, if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a three-quarter vote, all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated." They went on to say, "It doesn't matter whether the owners are related, as is the case here. There are rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team," end quote.

So in the interest of quotes, Shelly's attorney shot right back, saying they don't agree with the interpretation the NBA sent out and said state law and U.S. law will trump the NBA constitution.

So who's right? I want to bring in our panel of experts. CNN commentator and legal analyst Mel Robbins as well as CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos, and CNN analyst and writer for "Sports Illustrated" Michael McCoy, founding director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute and professor at the University of New Hampshire.

I think I just said the wrong name. It's Michael McCann. I apologize.

Danny, law for a second, straight-up law, as it pertains to that little old constitution, there's wording that's specific. They may disagree on it. Let's let the audience read the wording for themselves. And let's just start with the actual interpretation of what the word "owner" means, because everybody's claiming to be an owner at this point.

An "'owner' shall mean a member and each individual or entity, including both the trustees and beneficiaries of any trust that directly or indirectly owns of record or" -- next screen -- "beneficiary an interest or has effective control over a member or its membership."

I know that's tricky, but effectively, what does it say?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN: It's really saying the NBA has drafted it's constitution to include a very broad definition of owner, and the reason they do that is because if they want to hold one person accountable, they need to be able to hold the entire franchise or the person who claims to be the owner of that franchise.

Because an owner can be an entity, it can also be a person, and in reading the NBA constitution, it appears pretty clear that the NBA, their position is going to be, look, whatever tangled web of ownership a particular team owner wants to weave, whether or not they want to make his wife a co-owner, whether you want to give away an interest to your cat, who knows?

The NBA really can't control who owners will do in terms of parsing out ownership, but one thing the NBA does know. This is how we define an owner. It's very broad, and if we want to discipline one, and if you look at another article where they described affiliates and subsidiaries --

BANFIELD: Why don't I? I've got it right here.

CEVALLOS: Well, let's do that.

BANFIELD: Article 44, let's toss it out there. I want to read this for you as well, because this is what language actually says that everyone seems to disagree over. CEVALLOS: Yes.

BANFIELD: Article 44 says, "Each owner shall cause each of its subsidiaries to comply with the constitution and bylaws. If any such affiliates or subsidiaries of an owner violates the forgoing sentence, such owner and, in the case of violations committed on behalf of, as agent for or for the benefit of a member, the applicable member shall be subject to the same penalties as if that owner or member had itself committed the violation."

Michael McCann, just make that English for me. Does it mean, well, congratulations, Mrs. Sterling, you may have said you're 50-percent owner, but that also means you're 50-percent guilty?

MICHAEL MCCANN, LEGAL ANALYST AND WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED" AND SI.COM: Yeah, effectively, it does, Ashleigh, and the problem for Mrs. Sterling is that she agreed to these rules.

And that ultimately is the greatest problem for her, is that if she files a lawsuit, a court would take what's considered an arbitrary and capricious standard to evaluate how the NBA decided what to do. That standard is extremely deferential to the NBA. She would have to show the NBA failed to follow its own rules, very difficult to show. She agreed to that arrangement. The odds of her succeeding are low.

BANFIELD: How on Earth, Mel, does this irony play out?

The fact that Mrs. Sterling has been able to assert that she's a 50- percent owner, that this is all in a family trust, doesn't that effectively work against her when you actually read the language, meaning one person with poison means all people with poison, and all you all go with one broom?

MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yeah, and I'm kind of waiting for V. Stiviano to hold a press conference and say, hey, Sterling promised me a share; I'm an owner, too, under --

BANFIELD: Oh, dear god.

ROBBINS: Nothing's out of the realm of possibility at this point.

So you're absolutely right. Basically, if she wants joint ownership, she's jointly liable.

And when Donald Sterling made these remarks and it tarnished the NBA brand, and they subsequently said you've got a lifetime ban and you're out, we're going to try to strip you of your franchise rights here, he also tarnished the Sterling brand.

Nobody wants the Sterlings involved in the NBA, but you know, I actually think there's something else going on here. If you think about the Sterlings, they've been married for over 50 years. She claims to Barbara Walters --

BANFIELD: I think she said 60. Lord. ROBBINS: I think it's like 57, close to 60. She claims that she's been wanting to divorce him for 20 years. The reason why she hasn't? Money. This woman is motivated by money.

The reason why she is making a huge public stink right now is because, when she does go through divorce, she's going to be able to argue that Donald Sterling affected the value of that property, and therefore, they had to sell it, and they had to pay capital-gains tax instead having it pass through probate, which would have been significantly less taxes.

So I think she is actually not gearing up for a fight with the NBA but actually loading up for the divorce.

BANFIELD: You would have seen that in advance. And she actually said the words, believe it or not, I have spoken with my financial representatives ,and it's not the right time, when asked by Barbara Walters, why have you waited so long.

ROBBINS: And what's the one thing she didn't show, Ashleigh, in the interview? She never held up the piece of paper that had Shelly's name on it that said, this is the contract; I'm a --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: She brought the divorce agreement, said I've signed it, I just haven't filed it yet.

OK, I have to leave it there, but obviously, this story isn't over, so please come on back.

Great to have you all. Michael McCann, thank you. I'm sorry I got my name wrong off the top. I love you and adore you, and I will never do that again.

I'm sorry if I offended anyone. Where have you heard that before?

OK. So I'm going to move on to some other news that we've been working on, as well. For the first time we are now seeing the faces of those girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria. Their terrorist captors say this video shows the girls, who they say have converted to Islam.

We're going to hear from one of the girls who escaped. And let's not forget, as you look at the picture, 90 percent of them are Christian.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)