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Harvey Weinstein Arraigned On Sex Crimes Charges; Senate Passes Bill To Address Sexual Harassment On Capitol Hill; Russian Oligarch Met With Cohen At Trump Tower During Transition; Commencement Speaker Invokes Trump; Gas Prices Jump. Aired 12:30-1pm ET

Aired May 25, 2018 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- pretty much of all these was well orchestrated between Weinstein, the NYPD, and the Manhattan DA's Office.

So by the time Weinstein got in front of a judge, he pretty much knew what he was going to expect. We already know, he's out on $1 million cash bond. And the limits of that bond also include him wearing a GPS monitoring device 24/7. He also had to surrender his passport. He can only stay in New York and Connecticut. And he has one temporary restraining order against him at this point. This all stems from several charges he now faces from complaints filed by two victims. The most serious of those charges being rape, John.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It is a day his accusers, the alleged victims for then say, is long overdue. Any reaction from them?

GINGRAS: Oh yes, whether you look on Twitter, whether you look on the TV, there's a reaction that really globally at this point. That's how far this investigation actually took investigators was really around the globe. I want you to hear from one woman, Rose McGowan, what she had to say about this arrest.


ROSE MCGOWAN, ACTRESS: This man had hunting grounds all over the world, and he had accomplices and a complicity machine. He was, you know, the cult leader of Hollywood, I would say, their king.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he were watching this today, what would you say to him?

MCGOWAN: We got you. We got you. Yes.


GINGRAS: And it's important to note, John, that there are other investigations ongoing. A grand jury has been convened. It's possible he will face more charges in the near future. So this is just the beginning for Harvey Weinstein.

KING: Just the beginning. What a dramatic day. Brynn, appreciate the reporting all day long. Thank you so much. And from Manhattan to Capitol Hill were Congress is finally making some progress on its promise to fix how sexual harassment complaints are handled. A new Senate compromise holds lawmakers personally responsible for financial settlements and like the House Bill that already passed the Senate version gets rid of 30-day mediation and counseling period considered a stalling tactic for some and an insult to victims.

Critics argue the Senate bill still fall short. The big challenge now, reconciling the Senate version with the House version. A, how hard will that be, reconciliation process and, B, what are the chief complaints about the Senate bill in saying it's too weak.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I think that there's enough outside pressure and resistance from the House that they will probably have to go to conference. There's a sense from women's groups and from the chief anti-sexual harassment advocates in the House that the Senate bill really de-clawed a lot of the changes that were put in, in the House version.

For example, lawmakers under the House version are held liable not just for sexual harassment but for discrimination which often comprises the majority of harassment cases because it's harder to make a case of sexual discriminate -- or sexual harassment than discrimination. And they also make lawmakers personally pay the cost for any settlements in the House bill.

But in the Senate, they totally take out discrimination which again is the majority of these cases and only make them liable for certain damages. And there's one other big thing that I think you're going to hear a lot more about in the coming weeks and that is, under the Senate Bill, lawmakers on the Ethics Committees have to actually approve the claims.

And that's particularly problematic because in the House version it's totally independent investigator who is looking at all these things and its deciding, you know, who is right and who is wrong and how much is victim awarded if anything at all if they can prove anything. But this allows colleagues of the lawmakers to basically over turn that which people are really concerned about.

KING: Right. Essentially their process, their problem, if they had a better history on this maybe you could understand that. I want you to listen here to the two senators who worked at this compromised. They say, no, it's not perfect. But at least we got it done.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: It may not be everything everyone wanted exactly, but it actually going to make a change because we know what's been going on isn't good and it has to change.

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: Without being critical of the House bill too. The House had about five days to work on their bill. We had 100 days to involve our colleagues in this discussion. And, frankly, I think our bill will stand the test of time longer than theirs would.


KING: Will it?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we don't know. I mean think that, you know, as Rachael was saying, there's going to be a big push for the strength of the Senate bill. I do think it's significant that they have come to this point though. I mean this is an institution Congress that is unwilling to change its own rules, how they govern themselves, how they police themselves.

It's really only when there's a tremendous public pressure and is outcry where they actually do something to police themselves. So in that regard its significant step. But they will have to resolve these differences. And there's not much time to legislate this year. So we'll see if they're able to get it done, this Congress.

KING: It's significant. But isn't it sad that it's significant? Is it? Do you have a national conversation about incredibly serious issue and we have to clap our hands that, you know, Congress have several months to --

RAJU: Well, they're in 18 percent, John.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: What occurs to me is that, these are remedies after the fact for something that shouldn't be happening anyways. And what's happening in society is a broader conversation that may prod expectations so that if you are elected to office you just come in with a different set of expectations.

[12:35:07] I think, also, there are so many women on the ballot this year. Not all of them but many of whom have been inspired, or buoyed, or motivated, or carried forward by some of the, Me Too issues. There will certainly probably come a day in society when many of the Me Too victims are greater proportion of men at the hands of women. But right now we're not quite at that tipping point. There is a thought that more women in Congress may modulate just expected norms of behavior.

KING: Just to say, if they don't figure this out in a way that satisfies, you're not -- you'll never going to satisfy everybody. But if you don't figure out a way to satisfy more people, they might have some new faces next year that push it against, shall we say.

Up next, why did a Russian oligarch visit Trump Tower just before the presidential inauguration?


[12:40:14] KING: Welcome back. It's a safe bet the special counsel will asked about this. A Russian oligarch caught on camera walking into Trump Tower for a meeting with Michael Cohen, the president's longtime personal attorney and fixer. The footage right there, January 9th, 2017, shows Victor Vekselberg entering Trump Tower in the middle of the presidential transition, apparently unbeknown to the president-elect.

A person familiar with the meeting tells CNN that Vekselberg was a late edition to Cohen schedule and that meeting was to discuss US- Russian relations and ended pretty quickly.

Let's head CNN Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz in the conversation. Russian oligarch, Trump Tower, 10 days before the inauguration, or if you'd known, three days before the inauguration or somewhere in that ballpark --


KING: Some -- not 10 days, I'm sorry, 11 days. Why?

PROKUPECZ: Well, they're saying it was to talk to Michael Cohen about US and Russia relations. Why did Victor Vekselberg go and want to do this with Michael Cohen? Obviously that's the question, but he said for the special counsel who actually did question Victor Vekselberg. She's one of those oligarchs that Mueller stopped, pulled them off a plane. They tried to question him and they pull these electronics.

The other thing in this whole situation is Victor Vekselberg's cousin is this guy Andrew in trader who eventually wound up giving Michael Cohen a contract that he winds up paying Michael Cohen about $580,000 to do consulting work for him and it just have to do -- something to do with Trump and how perhaps getting some benefit out of Michael Cohen because of Michael Cohen's relationship with Trump. So certainly all of this is something that was concerning for investigators and something that they've been certainly looking at.

KING: The question is, is it sloppier and is sinister, I guess is the idea?

PROKUPECZ: And the problem you have here is that Victor Vekselberg is an oligarch, he's worth $15 billion. He has -- He is close to Vladimir Putin. We know that the special counsel has been looking at whether or not Russian money somehow went to the campaign, went to the inauguration through these donors, whether these oligarchs were using for donors.

And here you have an oligarch showing up at Trump Tower with his cousin who is US citizen, who actually did give money to the inauguration also. So all of that has been something that special counsel and the FBI agents have them wondering, you know.

KING: And under the umbrella of following the money also CNN reporting at the special counsel is now looking into Roger Stone's financing. Roger Stone a Republican dirty trickster going back to the Nixon days, close to this president, close to businessman Donald Trump and now close to president-elect and now President Trump.

Roger Stone telling this to CNN, the special counsel having found no evidence or proof whatsoever of Russian collusion now seems to be combing through every molecule of my existence including my personal life, political activities and business affairs to conjure up some offense to charge me either to silence me or induce me to testify against the President. I have no intention of being silenced or turning my back on President Trump.


KING: Let's say.

RAJU: I mean, and we know that he is under a lot of focus right now. I mean just looking at the witnesses that have come in to testify of late. You have Michael Caputo who's been a long time friend of Roger Stone, this question same number that said publicly meetings Roger Stone knew was a focus.

Roger Stone has not been contacted by the special counsel which is not necessarily a good sign for him. It's a sign either they're still trying to get information. We do know that he's looking at any contacts that he had through Julian Assange through am intermediary. So --

KING: Like the wall street journal is a new -- its in fresh Wall Street Journal reporting on that subject today about Roger Stone reaching our to a friend who knew Assange getting on a specific crew the time to try to get some Clinton e-mail.

RAJU: Absolutely. And so all of which seems to first suggest that there's more to Roger Stone than meets the eye about what the special counsel could be looking at here.

TALEV: And the administrations, the president and his team's posture at the initiation of all these investigations was all of this is made up. There's nothing is to here. There were no contacts. There was nothing inappropriate.

And so there could be explanations for all of these things. But when they're starting postures to say nobody was in contact with anybody and then these things emerge. That's kind of where the most obvious discrepancy begins even if you don't have your eyes on subpoenaed materials.

KING: And President hire the best people surrounded by who people lived their lives in a gray like Roger Stone and you're trying to figure out where to go. Also some new reporting on the idea that will the president sit down with the special counsel. Rudy Giuliani says he wants to. Even though Rudy Giuliani tells the president as your lawyer I don't think you should.

New reporting here from CNN that they actually had a potential date, January 27th, January 27th of this year. So four months ago. January 27th, but then on January 29th the Trump legal team response to the 20-page letter saying, oops, slow down, we have some questions.

In March, the special counsel get 16 subjects of interest. In March again another meeting between the teams. In April, team Trump reevaluates Mueller sit down after the raid of the Michael Cohen office. They get a little more hesitant shall we say.

[12:45:12] At the end of April, Rudy Giuliani meets with Mueller again. We still get the idea that the president says he wants to do it. And all his attorneys say don't. But this tells you for all the complaints that why is this going on so long? Well, they maybe they could have been on a faster track had they gone ahead with the January meeting.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean this is -- I mean, yes. And so there's been this push and pull about the lawyers President Trump wont perjury himself that he goes in there. All of his lawyers have been saying no except that when Rudy Giuliani changes his mind back in forth in his various interviews.

And this is just kind of, you know, part -- it's a microcosm of a bigger thing that's been going on, which is that if the president and his team were kind of playing ball more with the Mueller probe, things probably would be moving at a faster clip. But there's been this resistant that have returned. And so that makes people dig in harder, it makes you have this -- a lot of the in indictments are about lying to federal law enforcement officials.

I mean, when you start to do that, it metastasizes. And, again, they're playing for two audiences here not just Mueller but for the public as well. But that complicates that you have ask to, you know, what part are they trying to drag up, maybe a little more versus trying actually wrap it up the way they say that they want.

KING: And you hear the oligarch, you know, Roger Stone, this all gets confusing, but the bottom line there is what the president's lawyers don't trust the president to go into an interview with the special counsel. Got it.

Up next, the commencement speech time honor tradition for the sitting president in both good and difficult times for the country.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: The West won't contain communism, it will transcend communism.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't just get involved, fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.



[12:51:06] KING: See, this is just moments ago, the President of the United States handing out degrees to graduates of Annapolis, the Naval Academy. Just about 45 minutes outside of Washington, D.C. That's an honor there for the commander-in-chief. You see him shaking their hands as these cadets get their graduation ceremony through. Speaking to the graduating class at that Naval Academy, this is, remember, the day after the President pulled the plug on the big North Korea summit talking up America's strength.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: You are now leaders in the most powerful and righteous force on the face of the planet, the United States military. And we are respected again, I can tell you that. We are respected again. And our country has regained the respect that we used to have long ago abroad. America is back.


TRUMP: This is the second year for the President being on the graduation circuit. It's tradition to give a few speeches for the president, one in that Military Academy and couple others around the country. A slightly different tone today than when the President spoke last year at the Coast Guard Academy. That was after he fired the FBI Director Jim Comey.


TRUMP: No politician in history, and i say this with great assurity, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can't let them get you down. You can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.


KING: So, you know, we often get criticize criticized for grading the President on the curve. But let's say this speech was less about him, today's speech less about him than last year speech. Can you mark that down as progress?

DEMIRJIAN: For commencement speech, sure, it's supposed be to be about the graduates. So why not, yes. And, you know, the team may have to even develop the new things about the job, so I guess this count as one of those, that, you know, he changes the way from the rally speech. It's all me to something about this, actually, you know, on topic to the group he was speaking to.

But, you know, the President, I would say that the president is not an orator, but I actually should say the President is not an orator in a traditional style that he would put on, you know, a stage and speaks to graduates. He's an orator on his works and politics really well, but it doesn't necessarily translate to this forum perfectly.

KING: And he's a very good communicator, you're right, he's not an orator speech giver.

This is not a new thing that the commencement circuit becomes sort of a political stage. The President gives a few, usually the vice president gives a few, other leading figures in American politics and public life give a few. Hillary Clinton gave one the other day where she held up a Russian hat and make of a joke about the president of the United States, a lot of the Democratic 2020 candidates making their way around the country to get some high profile stages.

Of late, just in recent days ago, two Republicans here including the president's former secretary of state not being so kind to the commander-in-chief. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Our presidency has been the based by a figure who seemingly has a bottomless appetite for destruction and division, and only a passing familiarity with how the constitution works.


TALEV: A lot of people use these commencement speeches for kind of imagery building and that's certainly what Rex Tillerson is attempting to do now. Of course, that does things while secretary of state he might have been out of a job faster than a lot of people would have been interested in the message.

But I do think you're to know the difference last year. I was at another address in Virginia at Liberty University where the President used an address to students really to talk about himself being besieged under the auspices of telling students don't even let anyone get you down, believe in yourself. But it was really about that, moves about him. You just hear a different tone here.

[12:55:08] RAJU: And Jeff Flake in Boston, media market, New Hampshire.

TALEV: Oh, what a co-incidents.

KING: That's not Boston, that's Cambridge.

RAJU: Sorry about that. I'm sorry.

KING: Where I live that we call that the left bank. Up next for us, gas prices going up this Memorial Day weekend. Will that take a bite out of your tax cut?


KING: Topic on our political radar, how much you're paying for gas this Memorial Day weekend. The national average close to$3 a gallon now, that's up quite a bit, just in the last months. CNN's Alison Kosik following the gas market from New York. Allison, why?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, sticker shock always a thing during the summer, but this summer will definitely go down as one of the most expensive summers that we have seen in years to fill up a tank, and there were variety of reasons. There's a more expensive blend produced for the summer.

Oil prices as a whole are up. OPEC had been making production cuts, that raises the price of oil, which goes into gasoline. And of course, Trump re-imposing sanctions on Iran is factoring in as well. Demand is up as well. The economy is stronger. People are driving. But the thing is, higher gas prices, they are like an extra tax on the American consumer that can hurt consumer confidence, that they're spending more on gas. They're not spending on other things.

Also the rise in gas prices could really wipe out a big chunk of the extra take home pay some Americans are getting from the Trump tax cut plan. Unless Mark Dandy (ph) Moody's Analytics told me $67 billion of the $150 billion benefit, Americans were supposed to get will that tax cut land, that will be wiped out this year. Because that was considered sort of extra take home pay.

So for families living paycheck to paycheck, this is something they could remember for midterm time especially for Republicans, this really could become a big pocketbook issue come midterm elections, John.

KING: The timing is interesting, Alison, and every president goes through this. We'll see how President Trump handles it. Appreciate that. Every body else enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. Gas prices are up. Thanks for joining on "INSIDE POLITICS". Hope to see you Sunday morning here as well. Wolf starts right now.