Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Junior Invokes Attorney-Client Privilege; Hurricane Force Winds Cripple Fight Against L.A. Fires; Congressman Skipping Civil Rights Event. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired December 7, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We are back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. President's oldest son, not an attorney, the president is not an attorney either, yet when congressional investigators asked Donald Trump Junior to detail his conversation he had with his father, he refused to answer, invoking attorney-client privilege. The conversation at issue here revolves around how Don Junior should handle emerging news reports about that now infamous meeting with Russians at Trump Tower.

Some congressional investigators not at all satisfied with Don Junior's answer.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, CALIFORNIA (D): He invoked the privilege and we made it clear at least on our side of the aisle this was not a recognizable privilege. He and his counsel said they would go back and discuss it further with their lawyers and president's lawyers and get back to us. The question comes if they get back to us and say no we won't answer questions, they'll be able to subpoena Donald Trump Junior back before the committee.


BALDWIN: Two of my favorite lawyers joining me now. Michael Selden CNN legal analyst, and former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the DOJ, and also with me criminal defense attorney Mark O'Mara.

Gentleman, welcome to both of you. Michael Zeldin, this whole attorney-client privilege does that work in your world?

MICHAEL ZELDIN CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not in my world. No. The classic understanding of attorney-client privilege is there are essentially four elements to it. Which are communication made between privileged people, meaning attorney and client, in confidence for the purpose of seeking legal advice. The presence of the third party generally constitutes a waiver.

I don't think Don Junior's communications through Hope Hicks on the airplane allows him to reasonably assert attorney-client privilege. So, I think it more falls into the category of a delay. Remember, Brooke, back in September he testified before the senate judiciary committee and when asked about this he said he doesn't really recall it, so he didn't really answer the questions. Yesterday he said I recall it a little bit more now, and I talked to Hope Hicks and not my dad.

Then they asked him, let's elaborate on that. He said attorney-client privilege. So, I think this is a delay, in the worst kind of light perhaps obstructionist behavior. But it's not a valid assertion of the privilege.

BALDWIN: OK. Do you think it's valid, Mark, quickly? I have one other for you.

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Very quickly, I think it's not valid. It's another almost trip to bizarre world the way they do that. Although there is a slice they might be able to do it, it is called a defense joint agreement, if two lawyers two clients are working together on a case or event, they can talk. And if that was an argument that they made that might be a slice of light they can run this through. But very difficult and hopefully it would be in writing beforehand.

ZELDIN: Can I add one thing.

BALDWIN: Go ahead.

ZELDIN: He's correct. You could have a joint defense agreement. But the fact of this case undermines that, especially with the presence of Hope Hicks.

O'MARA: Agreed.

BALDWIN: OK. So, Mark, back to you then this whole invoking certain types of privilege, particularly executive privilege, right, we have heard that before. It was Jeff Sessions at one point when he was testifying and someone else as well. It becomes a bit of a pattern with these interviews with these other key people in the president's orbit. My question to you would be from a legal perspective, is it a strategy, citing privileges that may or may not be valid? Does it buy you more time?

[15:35:00] O'MARA: Yes, and I think it is sort of political arrogance. What are they going to do? Because when he says attorney- client privilege I'm not going to talk to you congress, even if they subpoena him and he comes back in, only way that really gets identified and resolved is some judge somewhere. There is nobody in congress who can make him answer. Presumably some judge can.

So, I think it is, what I said, arrogance the way they are doing it. And yes, now we are entering this world where all of this is OK. Let me tell you if I went in front of a judge or a client of mine went before a judge and said attorney-client privilege, it would not pass. And that judge would order him to testify or be held in contempt of court.

ZELDIN: That's right. And, Brooke, may I just add.

BALDWIN: Please.

ZELDIN: You have this appearance, which is voluntary before congress, if they subpoena him, it's exactly right they could seek to hold him in contempt. But there is a whole different reality when Mueller subpoenas him and all of this gamesmanship falls by the wayside. And what he's doing here is he's testifying voluntarily but under oath before congress. And those under oath statements can be the basis for false statement charges and now he's got to go before Mueller and now going to have potentially conflicting statements. So, it's a terrible legal strategy.

BALDWIN: OK. We are going to leave it Michael and Mark, thank you so much so much. Coming up next, we have to talk about California. These pictures, this is what tells the story what's happening in southern California. Hurricane force winds fueling the flames right up to the main artery on the west coast, the 101. A live report straight ahead here on CNN.


BALDWIN: Day four and still no clear sign of relief for firefighters and those living in southern California. At least four wildfires are still burning through dozens of neighborhoods destroying homes, and torching land all the way to the Pacific Ocean. More than 100,000 acres so far gone. But amid the panic and the sadness, people are helping one another. And their pets escaped the danger.

This man stopped in the middle of the firestorm to save a wild rabbit darting across traffic into the flames. My goodness. In Bel Air firefighters making progress on the fire. It is now 20 percent contained. But the danger of course still remains. Kyung Lah his live for us, she is a senior national correspondent there in Bel Air outside of this burnt out home. The way you were explaining last hour is how quickly this fire can move and destroy homes and cars like that.

KYUNG LAH: And unless you are out of here when you see the fire in area like Bel Air, very hilly and has a lot of valleys you can't escape. This is why. Look at this car. This happened very, very quickly, everything in this car melted that wasn't metal. And part of this there are indeed metal simply bended.

So, what we heard from the mayor of Los Angeles is this area is under a mandatory evacuation order. 110,000 people in southern California under mandatory evacuation order. And you can hear choppers in the distance, the reason why is even though this looks like a completely destroyed home, there are still hot spots all around this area. In these burned hills. What firefighters are trying to do today is they are still hitting it from the air.

You can see a chopper just along the ridge line as it comes across. This is something we have seen throughout the day and they are still hitting these hills. Because of the wind. Brooke, you had mentioned that one of the biggest concerns here is the weather. The wind gusts here in some parts of inland Los Angeles county the wind gusts are hurricane force winds.

So, the concern here trying to keep people alive, making sure they don't return to the burned-out areas. Even though it looks like no fire, they need to make sure stay out in case there are when gusts and small embers.

BALDWIN: Frightening for the people who had to evacuate, or just hanging out with the family member and you have no idea whether house is standing or not. Thank you so much for being live for us in a really precarious part of the country. I appreciate it.

Breaking news now, Congressman John Lewis announcing why he is skipping the opening of a civil rights museum in Mississippi this weekend. The reason has everything to do with who was attending, the president of the United States. More of that coming up.


BALDWIN: Just in, Congressman John Lewis, civil rights icon, will be among those lawmakers skipping the Saturday opening event for the Mississippi museum because President Trump will be attending. Lawmakers say in a statement in part the president attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this museum. They go on, the president's disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants, and NFL players disrespect the people honored in the museum.

So, there you have it. He will not be there on Saturday in Mississippi. We'll stay on that here on CNN.

As tech giants trying to crack down on hate speech people with fringe views are finding new homes on the web further controversial content, CNN tech senior correspondent Laurie Segall is here more on her special "Divided We Code." What did you find?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: Increasing there is so much pressure on these tech companies to take control of their platform. You see the weaponizing of these platforms during the election. But it is important to know that when they kick them off they don't go away. In many cases there are actually building out their own Internet infrastructure.

I want to warn our viewers they might find the content offensive or disturbing. Take a look.


[15:50:00] SEGALL: The backlash has begun. Companies like Google. Facebook and Twitter have a dilemma. On one hand they're fighting violent content removing terrorist propaganda, in trying to combat harassment on their platforms. But they are also walking a delicate line between censorship and free speech. An increasingly some people think they have gone too far.

Anthony Mayfield is the founder of PewTube.

ANTHONY MAYFIELD, FOUNDER, PEWTUBE: When they see this crackdown, even if it is not personally their content that is being, I think they are offended.

SEGALL: It's his alternative to YouTube. Can you describe the users? MAYFIELD: I think at the beginning it would be mostly fringe


SEGALL: Here's what that looks like. This was a pretty horrific title for video. Racist images or anti-Semitic images. That is pretty awful. I am writing into like trouble like do we even show any of this or do we just kind of scrap this? I don't actually think that some of these people deserve a platform.

And clearly some of the tech companies don't either, but, but the news value there is that they have a platform and that they are gathering and, so you can't ignore it, even if you don't agree with it. PewTube is one of many alternative sites popping up. This is Cody Wilson. I spoke to him years ago when he was working on a pretty controversial project.

CODY WILSON, FREE SPEECH ACTIVIST: I think I'm known as one of the more radical free speech activists.

SEGALL: He was dubbed one of the most dangerous people on the internet when you post instructions showing how to 3d print a homemade gun.

Now he has a new crusade. It's called Hatreon. A place for extreme political content can get funding.

WILSON: Andrew Auernheimer, you could probably call him a fascist probably.

SEGALL: He's like a very famous troll.

WILSON: Yes, sent to federal prison and other things for the way he trolled AT&T. You get somebody like that, that's a nice endorsement.

SEGALL: He is one of the worst trolls on Internet.

WILSON: Exactly.

SEGALL: Just remember that narrative, OK.

WILSON: Mr. Spencer I think is a pretty cultural troll.

SEGALL: Keep in mind, Richard Spencer's ideal is to have a white ethanol state. The fundamental question is should these people get a platform and where should the line be drawn?

Are you worried that some of the speech that is getting funded will incite violence, will you draw the line there?

WILSON: So, no. I'm not worried about it. I mean, when I'm talking about like an incitement, I'm talking about OK, you're outside of someone's home, there's a mob, and you say, there he is, get him. That's not protected speech. But these personalities that use hatred, these people are at worst trolls. Performance artist, provocateurs, vulgarians, and at best, they represent elements of a political hate speech that should not be censored. SEGALL: He doesn't align himself with the world views, Wilson is

enabling what he calls the political speech of these characters. He's taking a cut too. He gets 5 percent of every dollar raised on Hatreon.


SEGALL: You know It's this idea that evil to see what's out there and how much attention should we pay? And I think more and more we're paying attention because so much of this hate online over the last couple years has turned offline just can't ignore it, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Is it all these kinds of characters that are upset with tech companies or are there others?

SEGALL: You know what's interesting, these kinds of characters, right, but maybe even the larger story is it's also the government upset with tech companies. You have a month ago tech companies right on capitol hill going and facing some really challenging questions about who stays and who goes on the platform, the weaponization of their platform, and you have lawmakers calling for regulation. So, you know, tech, I've been covering tech for many years, it starts out with a little beat that could, and now you're looking at this massive issues that impact every single one of us.

BALDWIN: The election and all the people who were affected by that. Laurie Segall, thank you so much. "Divided We Code." Make sure you watch the full special. It airs this Saturday, 2:30 p.m. eastern time here on CNN. Laurie Segall, thank you.

Coming up here, Senator Al Franken hits growing harassment allegations, announcing he is resigning from congress while also taking shots at both the president and Roy Moore today. We're back in just a moment.


BALDWIN: Today FBI Director Christopher Wray vigorously defended the men and women that represent that agency after President Trump said the FBI was in tatters. The president's word. And that interpretation was quote, the worst in history. Speaking before lawmakers today on capitol hill, Wray painted a different picture of agency's accomplishments.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: There is no shortage of opinions out there. What I can tell you is that the FBI that I see is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe from the next terrorist attack, gang violence, child predators, spies from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of brave men and women who are working as hard as they can to keep people that they will never know safe from harm.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said today there is no discrepancy between Wray's praise and the president's opinion of the FBI. Sanders said the president takes issue with the quote, political leaders in the FBI.

And we now know the outcome to a police shooting that just rocked this nation after video showed Walter Scott, an unarmed black man getting shot as he was running away from a white cop. A federal judge just sentenced former police officer Michael Slager to 20 years in prison. He pled guilty to a federal civil rights violation after his state murder trial ended in a mistrial.

Here's the video from the 2015 shooting, just to warn you, it is graphic. [gunshots]

Slager has two weeks to appeal his sentence. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being with me, THE LEAD with Jake Tapper starts now.