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Report: No Fed Charges for Officers That Killed Alton Sterling; FBI Chief Says Mildly Nauseous to Think He Affected Election; All Out Blitz on Health Care Vote Tomorrow. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired May 3, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR:
AREVA MARTIN, CNN CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: The statement that we are hearing that one office walked up to Mr. Sterling, put a gun to his head and said, bitch, I will kill you. That evidence can be taken into consideration by the state's attorney general. When you look at the totality of what the Fed's found, there will be state charges filed against at least one of these officers based on the press conference held by the family's attorneys.
BALDWIN: What about, James, the way in which the DOJ handled this? As nick had pointed out, "the Washington post" report, I cannot imagine being the family and hearing about this through a piece in the newspaper. What do you make of how the DOJ handled it?
JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI CHIEF OF STAFF: It is unfortunate. There's no way to remove the human component of this. Anybody who watches the video of the family in front of a microphone explaining how they feel about this --
BALDWIN: You ache for them.
GAGLIANO: You do. But you also have to understand that the police officers involved in this -- and I don't know them personally, but they are also entitled to due process. Police unions are collectively bargaining units. Those officers have a right until formal charges are brought, which is interesting in this case, normally it's the state taking a look at something. A grand jury being convened and deciding not to move forward.
BALDWIN: And the defense to step in?
GAGLIANO: Absolutely. The feds -- and as your other contributor just pointed out, the feds have a much higher bar to reach that standard. You have to prove what that person, that cop is thinking during that struggle.
CHARLES COLEMAN, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Brooke, that raises an interesting point overall when you start talking about this administration eight department of justice and how they are going to approach these cases. Typically, as James has already said, we've seen grand juries decide whether they are going to indict these officers for these offenses. This case begun under the administration of President Obama and the feds have stepped in and they have begun looking at this. Now within the past week, we three see civil rights cases with respect to police and their conduct involving black lives, whether that's Michael Slager or Alton Sterling. We've had an issue in terms of looking at how was this department of justice going to deal with these cases with respect to law enforcement and excessive use of force.
BALDWIN: So how do you feel about it moving forward? Because you've used those names but also have names like Tamir Rice and Eric Garner. Let me just quote Sessions saying, the DOJ will hold accountable any law enforcement officer who violates the civil rights of our citizens by using excessive force. But the bar won't --
COLEMAN: Sessions has said a lot of things.
BALDWIN: It's important to point out his side.
COLEMAN: Absolutely. He's said a lot of things. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. This administration has been very pro law enforcement from the beginning. Communities of color have been having an uphill battle with respect to getting justice and indictments or even having due process take its form with respect to law enforcement and how they interact with communities of color. With respect to the verbiage and rhetoric that we've heard, not just from Jeff Sessions but their position on police brutality and civil rights cases involving law enforcement, it doesn't look good.
BALDWIN: What about the police officers, Areva? The family wants them fired. What is the likelihood of that?
[15:35:00] MARTIN: Well, Brooke, again, based on what the family attorneys shared, they want the state investigation to go forward and not be impeded by any comments that were made and the prosecutor was also restrained in his remarks because they don't want the investigation in any way to be undermined. But from what I heard, listening to that press conference, there appeared to be pretty compelling evidence presented by the federal prosecutors to the families. Apparently, there are six videotapes and it shows a 71- second incident. From start to finish when the cops first approached Mr. Sterling until he shot 71 seconds had elapsed and the attorneys say those 71 seconds will show enough evidence for the state's attorney to file charges against at least one of those officers who they say conduct was heinous.
COLEMAN: t's important to remember these are two different sets of charges that we're going to be talking about with respect to the federal investigation and what hopefully will take place at the state level.
BALDWIN: I got it. Quickly?
GAGLIANO: Brooke, if I can just say, I understand that the attorney general is a political appointee, if anybody is saying that the career prosecutors who make determinations whether or not you're going to go forward with charges or not are politically affected, I would strongly throw a flag on that one.
BALDWIN: Okay. James and Charles and Areva, thank you all so much.
Meantime, up next, the director of the FBI, James Comey, says he's, quote, mildly nauseous at the idea that he may have influenced the 2016 election but still stands by his decision in the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. We're live on Capitol Hill with highlights of his heated testimony.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Welcome back. The FBI director testifying today saying it makes him, quote, mildly nauseous to know his investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail server 11 days before the Presidential election may have impacted its outcome
Welcome back. The FBI director testifying today saying it makes him, quote, mildly nauseous to know his investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail server 11 days before the Presidential election may have impacted its outcome but also said he would do it all again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Look, this is terrible. It makes me mildly nauseous to think we may have had an impact on the election. But honestly, it wouldn't have changed the decision. Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28th and tell me what you would do, would you speak or would you conceal? And I could be wrong, but we honestly made a decision between those two choices that even in hindsight -- and this has been one of the most painful experiences -- I would make the same decision. I would not conceal that on October 28th from the Congress. One of my junior lawyers said, should you consider what you're about to do may help elect Donald Trump as President? And I said, thank you for raising that. Not for a moment because down that lies the death of the institution. I can't consider for a second whose political fortunes is affected in what way. I have to decide what's the right thing to do and then do that thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We have with us Brian Fallon, a former press secretary for Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential campaign. Page pate
and Manu Raju. Great to have all of you with me. Brian Fallon, beginning with you, we just heard from Hillary Clinton herself yesterday essentially saying it was because of Mr. Comey's actions that it cost her and at least a third of the reason why she thinks it cost her the election. When you listen to that today, what was running through your head?
BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually thought Jim Comey had a rough go of it today. You don't often see him break a sweat. He's a pro. Very polished. You saw him get rather animated in the clip that you just played and I think the senators asked fair but tough questions and I think he failed to enter one fundamental issue which is the double standard of the fact that he publicly acknowledged an investigation of Hillary Clinton at a very early stage and basically campaigned for close to a year under a cloud of an ongoing investigation and didn't make the same acknowledgement at all with respect to the investigation that we now know the FBI is still actively conducting with respect to Donald Trump and allegations of collusions with Russia. So even just put aside the letter he wrote on October 28th, put aside from that infamous July press conference, just going back way early in late 2015, he publicly acknowledged the investigation into Hillary Clinton. Never did that with Donald Trump. He didn't have a good answer for why today at that hearing.
BALDWIN: It seems like part of the reason may be the timing. Manu, I want to bring you in on what Brian's question is. Why with The Hillary Clinton investigation, why not with then candidate or nominee Trump and part of it -- and you followed up with Dianne Feinstein on the fears of concealment. Talk to me about that.
MANU RAJU, CNN CAPITOL REPORTER: That's right. This was the concern that the senators had raised, why did James Comey as the FBI director reveal these e-mails without going and getting a warrant first, getting -- looking at the e-mails and disclosing it later. Comey's argument is that this was much earlier in the -- the Trump investigation was not nearly as advanced as the Clinton investigation. The Clinton investigation had been essentially closed in July and he had an obligation to reveal this publicly in October when he learned about these additional e-mails. I think it was very interesting, also, Brooke, to learn exactly how he learned about the additional e- mails, that it was from Huma Abedin who had forwarded e-mails to Anthony Weiner that included classified information on that and she simply was just asking Weiner to print it out to provide it to Hillary Clinton. A really remarkable chain of events that led to this decision to reveal this. And also, Bill Clinton's decision to actually meet with Loretta Lynch on that tarmac.
RAJU: That led Comey to believe that he had to publicly reveal some of these things to show that there's transparency in the process. Some Democrats did not buy that argument but that was the first time we've heard of Comey shedding some light into his thinking along this investigation. Brooke?
[15:45:00] BALDWIN: On the issue of concealment, we have sound from his testimony and then your conversation with the Congresswoman afterwards. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: When the Anthony Weiner landed on me on October 27th and there was a huge -- people forget -- new step to be taken, we may be finding the golden missing e-mails that would change this case. If I were not to speak about that, it would be a disastrous, catastrophic concealment. It was incredibly painful choice but not all that hard between very bad and catastrophic. I had to tell Congress that we were taking these additional steps. I prayed to find a third door. I couldn't find it. Two actions, speak or conceal. And I don't think many reasonable people would do it differently what I did. If you were standing there staring at that on act 28th, would you really conceal that? So, I spoke.
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, SENATOR, California: I don't quite understand why he didn't get the search warrant before and quietly and see if those e-mails were there, anything there. But he did not. That became clear. That, to me, is a major point. Why would you do this 11 days before without getting the search warrant quietly and taking a look?
RAJU: Because he didn't want to conceal potentially damaging information.
FEINSTEIN: How would he be concealing it? If it were damaging information there, he would announce that he was going to investigate. But he didn't announce. And there was no damaging information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, it was an important question from the senator and, page, what is protocol? You have these two ongoing investigations, both with regard to Trump and associates and Russia and then with Hillary Clinton and her private server. What's protocol, the fact that he could divulge one and not the other?
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Protocol in a normal case would argue against the FBI disclosing any evidence. You can acknowledge that there's an ongoing investigation but certainly not disclose anything about that investigation. But this was not an ordinary case. That remarkable event, that made this case unusual from the very beginning. James Comey was left with the ultimate authority, basically, to determine whether Hillary Clinton was going to be charged or not. It was also up to him to determine how to respond to all of the public information that was out there about that investigation. And I don't think there was a double standard here. He confirmed the Clinton investigation at the beginning and then did not say another thing about it until he publicly announced that the investigation was closed. And as you heard him say during his testimony, he then had this mess basically dumped on his table with these new e-mails. I disagree with the senator's argument about the timing. It's very different to disclose incriminating information versus the fact that there's an ongoing investigation. So, before he sought the search warrant, he felt compelled to correct the record and said this investigation is no longer closed because I have new information that I need to look at. He had no way of knowing at that point whether that additional investigation would have taken a day, a week, a month or lasted into next year.
BALDWIN: And he said he was concerned about the credibility of some of the senior leaders within the DOJ and that's why he went to those cameras that Manu referenced, because he was worried that he couldn't credibly complete the investigation.
BALDWIN: I've got to go. Brian, Page, thank you so much. The Vice President is on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress
trying to get those votes for the new health care bill. This, after President Trump personally talked to two members of Congress and changed their "no" votes to "yes" today. Details on when a vote on health care could come.
[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: The White House is launching a full-court press to get the thousand to vote on health care tomorrow. Here are the pictures of the vice President who has rolled up on Capitol Hill trying to get some of those votes and hold some meetings from members of Congress. Earlier the President met with two Congressmen who planned to vote no. Congressman Billy Long and Fred Upton are now voting yes. That is apparently because of an amendment to the health plan that would provide another $8 billion to fund high-risk pools and help those with pre-existing conditions. Moments ago the White House said it is, quote, impossible to estimate whether that amount is going to be enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If someone has continuous coverage, that's never going to be an issue,
regardless of no circumstance anyone with continuous coverage with have a problem with pre-existing conditions. If someone chooses not to have coverage for 63 days or more and were in a state that opted out and put in a high-risk pool then we've allocated an additional $8 billion over five years to help drive down the costs. For somebody to know what that number of people, is how many states will ask for and receive a waiver is literally impossible at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now CNN politics reporter M.J. Lee on The Hill, and so on top of the question of whether or not $8 billion is even enough, we know the white house is also insisting anyone with pre-existing conditions be covered. That is a major promise. Do we know that that's how the latest bill is being mapped out?
M.J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I can tell you that talking point from Sean Spicer that we just heard is not going to be enough to win over the folks on Capitol Hill right now who have real concerns about parole texting people who have pre-existing conditions. That $8 billion big is something that we've been talking to lawmakers all day about. Is that going to be enough. Does that move the needle enough? For some members obviously, members like Congressman Upton and Billy Long, they have both said today that that was enough to get them to a yes vote from a no. For a lot of other members that we've spoken to, particularly the moderate members who are in the Tuesday group, they are still saying that that is not enough to change their votes, and, brook,
I can tell you obviously, the White House would like nothing more than to be able to have a vote on this bill tomorrow, Friday or even Saturday, but as of right now there has been no scheduling changes, and what that means is that leadership still not have the 216 votes. Just to share some fun color from Capitol Hill, obviously a very frenzied day. What that means for some members is they are preparing for maybe, and I'm stressing the word maybe, the possibility of having to stay a little bit longer in Washington, D.C., maybe past Friday, even Saturday, and for one member of Congress, Congressman Phil Rowe, he has a wedding to get to on Saturday and it's his own wedding, so a lot of uncertainty right now about what is going to happen to the schedule. Again, as of right now, no scheduling changes.
[15:55:00] BALDWIN: Why were you late for your wedding? The health care vote. Hopefully they can get that thing done early. Thank you so much. We'll continue covering this until presumably that vote happens tomorrow. Coming up, all kinds of breaking stories today. You saw the testimony on Capitol Hill from FBI Director Comey in the hot seat talking about why it makes him quote, unquote mildly nauseous to think about his letter regarding Hillary Clinton's e-mails, his decision and why he says he'd do it again. We'll be right back.