Return to Transcripts main page

WOLF

Political Ad Wars; Bernie Sanders Says Things Will Get Messy; Bill Cosby To Stand Trial For Criminal Sex Assault; Defense Attorney Speaks On Bill Cosby; Live Coverage of the Bill Cosby Hearing. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 24, 2016 - 13:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: As for Bernie Sanders, he has some words of warning about the Democratic convention that's coming up in July in Philadelphia. He says things could get messy. His words.

Sanders is holding a rally in Anaheim, California. You're looking at live pictures right now. This is only two weeks, exactly two weeks, ahead of the California primary. That's coming up.

Sanders keeps -- keeping up by his push to make the Democratic Party, he says, more inclusive. And in an "Associated Press" interview, he said the process might not be pretty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's going to be messy, you know? Democracy is not always nice and quiet and gentle. But that is where the Democratic Party should come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you think the -- you think the convention could be messy?

SANDERS: So what? The democracy is messy. I have -- every day of my life is messy. But if you want everything to be quiet and orderly and allow, you know, just things to proceed without vigorous debate, that is not what democracy is about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, for more on the candidates and the campaigns, let's bring in CNN Correspondent Phil Mattingly, our Senior Washington Correspondent Joe Johns, our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and David Chalian, he's our CNN Political Director.

Phil, Hillary Clinton is bringing up Donald Trump's past bankruptcies, warning that he'll do the same for the U.S. economy if he were president. How does this fit into the campaign strategy?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the idea here is to hit Donald Trump on one of his perceived strength. And on some level, it repeats what President Obama's team did to Mitt Romney in 2012. Early on in the campaign at the earlier stages of the general election period, attack the Republican opponent on the area that he and his team think is his strength. Hillary Clinton's issue here is trying to make it appear that Donald

Trump does not care about middle class workers. You saw the comments from that advertisement on the housing crisis. You saw the continued attacks related to the bank -- the business bankruptcies of his casinos.

Their efforts here are to say, look, Donald Trump claims that he's a great businessman. Donald Trump claims he makes the best deals.

But if you look across his past, there are plenty of examples where he has failed. They're trying to undercut him at one of his perceived greatest strengths -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Trump campaign, Phil, is also bringing up Bill Clinton's past indiscretions. What's the strategy behind that?

MATTINGLY: Well, it's slightly scorched earth and it slightly might be an understatement there. I think what you're seeing from the Trump campaign is they have long said they will punch back if they feel like they've been attacked. Donald Trump clearly feels like he's been attacked. This is what his special counsel, Michael Cohen, told Chris Cuomo this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: She attacked Mr. Trump as being a sexist, misogynist and that's inaccurate. Donald Trump's not any of those things.

And, again, what they're trying to do is to portray him as such so that they can end up turning the women against Mr. Trump when, in fact, the women seem to be turning against Hillary Clinton for being the enabler in chief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Now, Wolf, Donald Trump made clear this was an attack line he was going to pursue. Still somewhat jarring to people who aren't used to this type of thing ending up in politics.

One thing has been made clear, though, by both Trump and his advisors. This is a line of attack that's not going anywhere anytime soon, even as Republican pollsters have warned away from attacking Hillary Clinton on these types of issues.

Trump has made clear this is something they're going after. They believe it can work. Now, everybody just needs to wait and see if it actually does -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, we'll see soon enough. All right, thanks very much for that.

Joe Johns is standing by as well. Joe, let's talk a little bit about the Sanders' campaign right now. It's getting a larger role in drafting the Democratic Party platform in Philadelphia. What's behind this? JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The Sanders' campaign got to name five people to the committee that helps lay out the policy positions that the Democratic National Committee supports. And if you look at the names and bios of the people on the list, you can see how important this is.

For example, Congressman Keith Allison, a big supporter of Sanders, a Congressman from Minnesota, the only office holder on the list and a convert to Islam; Cornell West, a leading progressive scholar; Bill McKibben, an environmental activist; and James Zogby, a supporter of Palestinian rights.

Now, I do have to tell you, Wolf, there's a big of breaking news.

BLITZER: Joe, hold on -- hold on for a moment. I'm going to get back to you in a moment. I just want to update our viewers. We're about to get a decision in this preliminary hearing in -- that's going on right now involving Bill Cosby, whether or not a trial could go forward. Gloria Allred, one of the attorneys for one of the woman making accusations against Bill Cosby, is speaking out. I want to listen in to hear what she has to say.

GLORIA ALLRED, DEFENSE ATTORNEY (live): Well, Mr. Cosby presented a vigorous defense today. I might add that, in my experience, 40 years of practicing law, I found it to be very unusual that such a defense was presented at the preliminary hearing stage in the way that it was.

[13:05:04] One would have to speculate, why? You know, some might speculate because the defense was attempting to have an impact on the potential jury pool to suggest that no crime was committed.

Having said that, it's -- I believe it's also an advantage to the prosecution to be able to hear from the defense the potential themes that the defense may present at the trial.

The defense suggested that they felt that Andrea Constand should testify. Just to be clear, I don't represent Andrea Constand. I've never had any communication with Andrea Constand. They wanted her to testify.

They did not get what they wanted because under Pennsylvania law, it is not a requirement that the victim, herself or himself, testify at a preliminary hearing. Of course, she will testify at trial.

But under Pennsylvania law, and this is also true in the state of California where I practice and some other jurisdictions, it is not necessary for the victim to testify at a preliminary hearing.

Instead, what she has stated in her police report can come in through the interviewing law enforcement officer. In this case, two detectives testified about her interview. And the court found that that was sufficient.

In addition, this is just my educated guess, I don't think that Mr. Cosby was thrilled that his own interview with the police was admitted into evidence. Because some of what he said could be quite damning. Having said that, the court having reviewed all of the evidence found that there was sufficient evidence to require the defendant, Mr. Cosby, to stand trial. I think that was the right decision, based on the law and based on the facts as provided.

We -- I'm happy to answer some questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defense said that she never said, no. And that was part of the defense was --

ALLRED: Yes, part of the defense's argument, in fact a large part, had to do with consent of the victim. The assertion and the argument by the defense that she didn't say, no. In other words, therefore, that she did consent.

The argument of the prosecution is that if a victim is incapacitated for any reason, in this case perhaps the pills that Mr. Cosby admitted in his police report that he gave to Miss Constand and her ingestion of some wine at the same time, and the fact that she had not had food, rendered her, according to Miss Constand, in a state where she was going in and out of consciousness.

She could -- she was aware that some things were happening. For example, her legs were paralyzed. She could also feel, according to her statement, that Mr. Cosby was touching her breast, touching and inserting his fingers into her genital area, but that she could not say, no. She could not say anything, that she was incapacitated.

As a matter of law, if a victim is incapacitated, unconscious or conscious or unconscious and then conscious again, the victim is unable to consent. That's going to be a central issue at the trial as to whether she could consent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Allred, do you believe that other alleged victims should be called to testify in trial? Would you encourage any of your clients to do that, to show a pattern?

ALLRED: The question has to do, do I think -- with, do I think that other victims will be called at trial? Will any of my clients testify? Under Pennsylvania's prior bad acts legal doctrine, potentially, other accusers could be called to testify at trial.

[13:10:02] Whether they will be called, that is subpoenaed to testify at trial, is a decision that will be made by law enforcement, the district attorney and the court, in terms of admissibility. So, that is a decision later on down the line and that is for the district attorney to decide and the court to decide after hearing what, I am certain, will be many objections by the defense to the calling of other accusers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you believe that there is a pattern?

ALLRED: If it -- if the testimony of other accusers, one or more, is or could be argued to be a same or similar signature activity, it might be considered relevant and admissible. And so, that's for the court to decide. As to whether any of my, more than 30, clients who are accusers will be called, that's not a decision that is in my hands. That's the decision of law enforcement. And I have no information on that at this time. I think it's probably premature for anyone to be making that decision.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Allred, you may have touched on this but how damaging is Mr. Cosby (INAUDIBLE)?

ALLRED: I think that Mr. Cosby's interview with the police, in the police report that was admitted into evidence, was very damaging to him. And it is now in evidence. Often, a perpetrator or an alleged perpetrator does not give a statement to the police. He did.

And now, he's going to have to deal with his own words which it was indicated, through testimony, that he signed his statement. That he was asked in the -- at the end of the statement, something to the effect of, is everything that you have stated in this statement true and correct? And he said, yes. And he signed that it was. And then, in addition, that he had an opportunity to make any changes and he did not.

Now, the defense wanted to underscore, emphasize, many times, that Miss Constand did make changes in her police statement, suggesting that somehow there is something wrong or inappropriate about making changes.

I, for one, am very glad that Miss Constand, or any person who's alleged to be a victim, has an opportunity to review a police report and make changes to make sure that it is accurate. I've represented many victims in criminal cases, and still do, including in rape cases, and still do. And they -- some of them, in other jurisdictions, have never had an opportunity to review the police report to even see if it's accurate and a reflection of what, in fact, they told law enforcement.

So, of course, in many cases, if a person is lying, then they have a standard script and they have no need to make any changes because they're just going to stick to their script. Often, if they're being truthful, then they want to really look at what is said and make sure that it's accurate. It's as simple as that.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a (INAUDIBLE) pattern from what your clients have said (INAUDIBLE)?

ALLRED: I think that Mr. Cosby is coming out (INAUIDIBLE.)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss Allred, do you think that (INAUDIBLE) now stands the key of interactions with (INAUDIBLE.)

ALLRED: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before you said those folks who do that kind of thing in these kinds of cases is some kind admission that this couldn't be so bad or otherwise why (INAUDIBLE) to interact?

ALLRED: I think that only Miss Constand and her mother should be the ones to explain why there was continued interaction with Mr. Cosby. But there may very well be reasons and I don't think that one should take that as some kind of (INAUDIBLE) admission that she wanted to continue, you know, a relationship with Mr. Cosby or that nothing happened of a criminal nature.

As a matter of fact, there was testimony about a conversation between the mother and Mr. Cosby. Pardon me?

[13:15:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I jump in for a minute? (INAUDIBLE.)

ALLRED: Oh, I'm sorry, absolutely.

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, everybody good. Come in here. Can you -- OK. Let's get our team together here, all right.

Now, we just conducted our preliminary hearing. All charges were held. We're here because we want to seek the truth. We're here to serve justice. The evidence in this case that was presented at the preliminary hearing is of a limited basis. A preliminary hearing is a situation where we only have to show that a crime is committed and the defendants connected to the crime. We did that through the victim's statement and the defendants admissions to much of the crime. Consequently, we're going to move forward on the case and look forward to getting a trial date.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) did they try to make the (INAUDIBLE) of how aggressively they're going to go after Miss Constand in terms of the consensual nature that they believe is going on here? What do you tell her -- what is she in for in terms of a trail and how aggressively she's going to be attacked?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I'm not -- I'm not going to get into the specifics of this. She was available to testify at trail under the case law that we represented and the judge ruled in our favor. It was unnecessary. It's a preliminary hearing. Hearsay is admissible and we're just, over the next hurdle in this. And each step of the -- the (INAUDBIE) line we have to go.

QUESTION: But my question was about, is there a question that the implication that they're going to be hammering --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next question.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE), yes, can you tell me -- did you have any thoughts about the significance they were trying to make by saying he gave her Benadryl as opposed to any other drug as other accusers have said they got Quaaludes (INAUDIBLE) testify to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, look, I mean that's -- the point of this is that it was intoxicating to her and that she was unable to consent. You know, that's the crime, that's the charges that we're bound over. And we look forward to handing this in court. We're going to keep our comments to what happens in court here. So while we look forward to the next step.

No, thank you.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) that there was a crime?

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Ms. Allred, is there anything that you -- can you tell us what --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so there you have the official word, the breaking news that Bill Cosby will, in fact, stand trial in the criminal sexual assault case.

I want to go right to CNN's Jean Casarez.

Jean, you were in the courthouse when the decision was made by the attorney. Set the stage for us. You're with Danny Cevallos, our CNN legal analyst, as well. Ashleigh Banfield is standing by. We'll get full analysis of what's going on from Joey Jackson as well, one of our legal analyst.

But you were inside the courtroom, Jean. Tell us how it went down.

JEAN CASEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let me tell you exactly the feel in that courtroom was professional. Bill Cosby was there. He had to be there under law. He sat at the defense table. He didn't talk with his attorneys very much at all. It was a packed courtroom. The defense was extremely aggressive toward that judge.

Now, you've just heard Gloria Allred, the prosecution theory just in a nutshell. And they had Andrea Constand's statement read through the detective. In the months of January or February 2004, Andrea Constand was invited to and went to Bill Cosby's home. When she got there, she said she was having emotional issues. He went upstairs. He brought down, she says, three blue pills. He had her take them. He also told her to drink some wine. After that, she said she suddenly felt woozy, her legs were weak. He had to assist her to a couch. She said that she was conscious in and out, but she wasn't able to stop him from sexually assaulting her.

The defense fired back on cross-examination with that statement, saying that so many things that Andrea Constand had said, she crossed out and she wrote other things, that she had gone to Bill Cosby's home several times before that and she had gone after that. That she had accompanied him and met him at Foxwoods Casino where he was performing there. And they specifically went into that because Andrea Constand had originally written that Bill Cosby had invited her to his bedroom after the show because he was going to pack. She crossed that out. And then she originally had written that they laid down on the bed together with their legs touching. She crossed that out. The defense made a point of this. And that ultimately she said we were just close to each other at that point.

[13:20:12] Now, the prosecutor objected to all of this because a preliminary hearing is not credibility. That is not taken into account. It is a prima fascia case, if there's probable cause, a crime has been committed. But the way the defense got it in, they kept saying consent. There was consent to all this. And the defense was very strong in their argument and during testimony of Bill Cosby's statement saying that Bill Cosby admitted to all the things really that Andrea Constand did, but said it was consensual. That she was not given wine. That she was given some pills, but she wasn't woozy, she wasn't unconscious, she didn't object, she never said no and she was able to say no. She was able to talk.

In the closing argument, the defense actually started screaming at the top of their lungs in the courtroom, and I have a quote here. They said, "no one should be brought to an American courtroom to undergo this," screaming at the judge, directly at judge. The judge obviously ruled that the case will go on. But the prosecution really focused on the elements and that they had proven that fascia case.

And I want to tell you one more bit of color. Before this all started, I was sitting in the second row. All of a sudden I feel this bump to my court pew, and it was a very big bump, and I looked up and right there was Bill Cosby, right above me. He was being led into the courtroom on the other side, but he had bumped into my court bench really hard. And the defense has said that his eyesight is impaired. That he is actually blind and can't see. And he then walked out from my court bench and walked up to the defense table and sat down.

BLITZER: Yes, we see him being led in by an aid as he's going in. Clearly he's got vision problems.

Ashleigh Banfield, you've covered this story for a long time. This is one woman, Andrea Constand, who made these allegations against Bill Cosby. But, what, there are more than 50 other women who have made similar allegations, right?

ASHELIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, "LEGAL VIEW": Yes, and Gloria Allred represents about 30 of them. You saw her outside the courthouse giving the summation to all those reporters. She doesn't represent Andrea, but she has a lot of interest in what's going on inside that courtroom because her clients may be paraded in there to tell their similar stories. That has yet to be determined, Wolf. We do not know how many women, or if any of them will be allowed to come in and testify to patterns, things that seem very similar to them that Andrea Constand says happened to her. So that still all has to be resolved. Who and how many witnesses may come in on behalf of the prosecutors.

But I think what you saw today, especially what Jean Casarez just reported, which is remarkable to me and I think to a lot of people who watch court, that the defense was screaming in the courtroom, no American should have to be brought in an American court to go through this, referring to their client, Bill Cosby, who is suffering from, you know, difficulties and bumping into things on the way. That may be a classic case of jury pool work because we are now going to be looking for 12 people who can be fair and unbiased no matter what they've seen in this case, no matter what they've heard in the millions of words that have been printed and broadcast about Bill Cosby and the allegations of his indiscretions. But, man, that you see some serious lawyering and some serious leg work and real estate being laid for what is to come, whenever they decide when this trial's going to happen.

But the headline is huge. I don't think we all, you know, are surprised, Wolf, but the fact that he is going to stand trial for Andrea and that case, it doesn't mean we're not going to hear about all the others as well.

BLITZER: Well, that's an important point.

Danny Cevallos, what did you expect to hear? This was a pretrial hearing. The judge made the decision now to go forward with the trial on this charge. It's a very serious charge of indecent sexual assault against Andrea Constand. Were you surprised by the decision by the judge to go forward with the trial?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I was not, Wolf. Preliminary hearings in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the county have always been the prosecution's show. The burden is very light. The prosecution must only show a prima fascia case. That it's more likely than not that a crime was committed and that this defendant committed it. Consequentially, most preliminary hearings are held over for trial. And because of that statistic, defense attorneys approach preliminary hearings with an added objective, to test the medal of the prosecution's case and, too, if possible, get as much information about the prosecution's case as they can as they prepare for trial.

[13:25:05] And if that is a test of the defense's job at a preliminary hearing, then by all accounts, by any measurement, the defense did a very, very good job today. Another battleground issue was using hearsay, using Constand's statement instead of Constand herself to testify. But it is true that last year in 2015, Pennsylvania superior court issued an opinion allowing the prosecution to make out their case using solely hearsay evidence. A case that many in the defense bar have called down right unfair and is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court. It is a rule that may not be a rule for long.

BLITZER: Let me go back to Ashleigh. I know you're there with Joey Jackson, one of our legal analysts, and I'm anxious to hear what he -- want his analysis is, how you go forward in a case like this with a trial and make sure that the trial will be a strong trial because there's a lot of publicity out there, as you know, and the jury could be impacted?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, that's the very issue. The issue, make no mistake about it, the defense in this particular case was playing, not to the court, but playing to the jury pool, who is going to have to assess the voracity of the victim in this case. And so, therefore, this is not about from a judge's perspective, Wolf, a credibility assessment. This is not about, you know, did she consent, did she not consent. That -- those are factual issues that a jury determines. All of this is about is, do you have enough? Do you just have enough reasonable belief to believe that a crime was committed and that Cosby committed it? And so, therefore, it was no surprise at all that the matter is going forward to trial and it's equally no surprise that the defense was challenging and challenging because they're serving notice that they believe in their client. They're serving notice that everyone in the world should know, particularly when that jury gets empaneled, that he did not do this.

Now, I'll tell you, there's two significant issues, Wolf, we have to talk about. The first significant issue relates to the issue of consent. Remember we're talking about pills here. Was it Benadryl? Was it an herbal supplement? Was it Quaaludes? We don't know. Cosby knows. But when you elevate the issue and talk about drug use and the fact that he gave her these drugs and gave her wine, how do you really consent when someone actually takes those things? And also keep in mind, there are three theories that the defense -- the defense has to rebut here because the prosecution is proceeding under theory number one, three counts, that there was no consent. Even if you get out of the -- well, she didn't consent, now you have to get out of, she was unconscious. That's count number two. And count number three is that the defendant plied her with alcohol and made her unconscious. That's the first thing.

The next hurdle in terms of the defense is what Ashleigh Banfield talked about earlier, and that was the parade of women coming in that courtroom. That's going to be a battleground. The defense really has to object and say, you know what, I get the fact that the law says, if there's a common plan, a common scheme, if there's a similar interest that all of them have, it goes to motive, it goes to intent and the law says, yes, you can testify. But this is so overwhelmingly prejudicial, judge, that my client is not going to be evaluated and judged on what he did or didn't do to Andrea Constand, he's going to be evaluated and judged on what he did yesterday, the week before, the year before, the month before and that would be a collateral issue. In order to keep the rights fair, judge, do not allow those women to testify. And the extent to which the defense is able to limit this issue and make it about Andrea Constand, that would be significant here because if all those other women come in, it's not about what he did to her, it's about, you know what, he did it to all these women, he did it to her too. And that represents guilt.

BLITZER: And, you know, Ashleigh, if he's convicted on these three felony charges of sexual assault, this incident going back to 2004, what kind of sentences could he anticipate?

BANFIELD: And we're talking about an 80-year-old man here. So any sentence could be a life sentence. When you're looking at these particular felony sexual assaults, they're about ten years a piece if I know Pennsylvania law. And then there's the issue of it being three separate counts. Would they be concurrent, would they be consecutive? My thought from watching these practices is that it's all based on one act, not three different acts at three different times, so they're not consecutive. They would be concurrent.

So if he got the max, it would likely be ten years. But, again, for an 80-year-old man. But I have to just say, Wolf, to what Joey, my esteemed colleague over here, just said, the parade of women, you're right, it is absolutely, you know, a probative versus prejudice issue. But I have seen many, many cases where the probodous (ph) issue is critical. Phil Specter. I always bring that up.

JACKSON: Right.

BANFIELD: There was a parade of women who came in to say the same thing happened to them and it could have been the lynch pin in his case because when you're talking about all the discrepancies in this case --

JACKSON: Yes.

[13:29:59] BANFIELD: Andrea's got discrepancies in what she told the police and put in an affidavit. Bill Cosby's got discrepancies in what he told the police and what he told Andrea and what he told their mother.

JACKSON: Right.

BANFIELD: It will be a battle of the discrepancies.