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Accidental shooting; Chicago law enforcement; CNN Heroes; Donald Trump Politics; Italy Elections; sexually assaulting an unconscious woman; Kilauea Volcano; Reality TV to visit Oval Office; Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 3, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:05] PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Hello, thanks so much for being here with me on this Sunday. I'm Pamela Brown in for Fredericka Whitfield.
There are lots to cover. Any moment now, President Trump will arrive back at the White House after a weekend at camp David and he returns as new development surface in the Russia probe. The President's lawyer sending special counsel Robert Mueller a 20-page letter arguing that Trump cannot obstruct justice. This is according to "the New York Times" which obtained the letter that was sent to Mueller's team back in January. The letter also discusses Trump's power to pardoned.
Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, saying today that the President probably has the power to pardon himself and Giuliani also weighed in on the chances the President will sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: We have to keep an open mind, and I have to just to be honest, I'm leaning toward not. But look, if they can convince us that it will be brief, it will be to the point, they are five or six points they have to clarify, and with that we can get this over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Let's get straight to CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez. So what else did Giuliani say today?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Pam.
Yes, Rudy Giuliani essentially reiterated many of the points that we saw in that letter that was published by the "New York Times" yesterday from the Trump legal team to the special counsel. Giuliani acknowledged that he would have organized it differently, but he said that he did agree with about 85 percent it including that very important portion of where it states that the President could potentially end any investigation, being the nation's top law enforcement officer would give him that authority, at least theoretically according to Giuliani.
Here is the portion of that letter that were referring to. The President's legal team writing quote "if he wished, he could terminate the inquiry or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired."
Giuliani went a step further and saying that, again, in theory, the President could legally pardon himself although he says Trump is not likely to do that. Listen to this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The letter also cites the President's pardon power, do you and the President's attorney's believe the President has the power to pardon himself.
GIULIANI: He is not, but he probably does. He has no intention of pardoning himself, but that doesn't mean he can. I mean, that's an interesting constitution on can the President pardon himself.
GIULIANI: It would be an open question. I think it would probably get answered as, God, that's what the constitution says, and if you want to change it, change it, but yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: The former mayor of New York also making the case that a possible remedy to this situation would be for the President's legal team to legally try to prove that the special counsel is somehow illegitimate, something that he says the President reserves to right to do, Pamela.
BROWN: And something else was on the President's mind this morning, Paul Manafort. What was he saying about Paul Manafort?
SANCHEZ: That's right. It appears that President Trump is aiming to put some distance between himself and his former campaign advisor. He tweeted twice about Paul Manafort, writing quote "as one of the only two people left who could become President, why wouldn't the FBI or the department of justice in quotes have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort on charges that were ten years old and have been previously dropped during my campaign, he should have told me."
He went further writing, Paul Manafort came into the campaign very late and he was with us for a short period of time. He represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many others over the years, but we should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him and he wouldn't have been hired.
Of course Trump's statement sort of conflicts with the timeline. There has been widespread reporting that the FISA warrants that were approved in order to surveil Paul Manafort only were signed off on after he had left the Trump campaign. That is the President wouldn't have known, no one would have known that Paul Manafort was going to be investigated this way until he left the campaign.
Further, the notion that Paul Manafort played a small role in the Trump campaign, is a bit of a mischaracterization, after all, he helped organize the Republican National Convention and took part again in that controversial meeting with Russians in Trump tower in June of 2016, a meeting that was also attended by Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner -- Pamela.
BROWN: Yes. And you typically don't tip-off other people around that person that that person is under investigation for good reason.
BROWN: Boris Sanchez, thank you so much for all of that.
And joining me now to discuss all of this, CNN political analyst, presidential historian as well, Julian Zelizer and attorney Seth Berenzweig, an expert in constitutional law.
Seth, couple of questions to you first. I'm going to get to Julian. First of all, it struck me when I was listening to Giuliani's interview. He said if they can convince us as in Mueller's team, if they can convince us that it's just going to be, you know, a short interview, narrow in scope, then we will consider it. Is the onus really on Mueller's team to convince them of that?
SETH BERENZWEIG, ATTORNEY: No, not at all. That's not the way it works. And I think that if you go through the letter that he and a lot of people are talking about today, that is a very interesting letter. That's light on the law and big on the bluster.
It really cuts to the heart of what we are really talking about here, which is the scope and breath of executive power and privilege. None of that applies to things that occurred prior to President Trump becoming President of the United States and a lot of what Mr. Mueller wants to talk about is exactly that. This letter in the conversation really just kind of ignores that and for things that happen after the inauguration, the Supreme Court has largely dealt with that in the case of U.S. versus Nixon talking about the fact in the face of a subpoena in this kind of an instance by a special prosecutor, that executive privilege is very narrow in scope. So these are the kinds of issues that are really light on the law. It really was not a very impressive letter. And I think the President is going to use this as to fuel to drive a car into this kind of dispute. We are going to enter into a constitutional crisis.
[16:05:55] BROWN: And it makes you wonder if this letter was written more for public consumption than for Mueller's team. And do you, the way that they laid out these arguments, do you think they are basically saying that the President is above the law by saying the President can't obstruct a probe because he is the chief law enforcement officer.
BERENZWEIG: Well, they are saying it without saying it, right? I mean, they are basically saying that since he is in-charge of the executive branch, then really, what he says goes and therefore he is the law, but that is not the way it works. So if the President in this instance was going to pardon himself, that would really be a historic precedent with regard to a conflict of interest. That's not something that's supported anywhere in the law. And I think you also raise an interesting point on timing. This
letter was written about six months ago. However, it came out within about 24 hours of the D'Souza and the Blagojevich conversation with regards to the President's pardon pen. So the timing of this is very interesting in terms of the messaging that it conveys. I think it really goes back to ask the question, is this really about a legal principle or really about just making the political point?
BROWN: And to be clear, though, to be fair to Giuliani, he did say that the President wouldn't pardon himself because he wouldn't need to. So I wanted to make that point clear as well.
Julian, I want to bring you in now because this memo that Trump's legal team sent to Mueller's team back in January, acknowledged for the first time that the President quote "dictated" the first statement that they called short and accurate that was put out about his son's controversial 2016 Trump tower meeting with Russians, this contradicts what we have heard before from the White House and Trump's lawyer on at least five occasions, how problematic is that?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's problematic. And it's one of many examples where the President or the President's team contradicts themselves. And Giuliani even spoke today about their memory not always being on target with the fact. And I think a lot of these contradictory statements are actually at the heart of why Mueller keeps investigating and why there are so many concerns about what actually happened. There is not a straight story from the President and this is a prime example. This meeting really was a centerpiece of the concern about what happened before that election.
BROWN: It certainly is something that Robert Mueller has been looking at. And I want to go to the sound that you alluded to, what Giuliani said on this Trump tower meeting development this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: I mean, this is the reason you don't let the President testify. You know, our recollection keeps changing or we are not even asked a question and somebody makes an assumption. In my case, I made an assumption then we correct it and I got it right out as soon as it happened. And I think that's what happened here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, if the President's legal team staff can't even accurately recall -- they are misinformed (INAUDIBLE). What does it mean about their client in doing the potential interview?
BERENZWEIG: Well, what it means is that they really don't want him to get anywhere near an interview in this case, because it's really just what some would call potentially a perjury trap. This is a President that has a difficult time walking a straight line, and he is not exactly inclined that he wants sitting down with a special prosecutor. As we have seen in many instance instances, people can get into a lot of hot water and face federal prosecution even if they are not guilty of the substantive crime but they can provide a statement that is inconsistent to the prosecutor's office.
BROWN: They have already been charged by Mueller's team for lying to investigators.
BERENZWEIG: Many. And also Martha Stewart, which was interestingly also a pardon conversation just yesterday.
BROWN: And just to put this all in perspective here, Julian, what do you make of this 20-page letter, it's significance now six months later and the significance of it coming out now?
ZELIZER: I do think it was done intentionally. I think this was part of a political argument. In my mind, the President very much sees this as a political not a legal problem. And their audience is the electorate and their audience are the Republicans in Congress.
Part of this campaign is to raise questions of the legitimacy of the entire investigation, from the FBI to Robert Mueller. And the second part is to make really expansive claims about Presidential power, sending out signals and sending out words that suggest the President can really do whatever he wants and is above the law in certain respects.
And I think it's a twin part of the campaign and it explains some of the pardons that we have been hearing about this week.
[16:10:23] BROWN: And Giuliani himself a little over a week ago admitted that, look, this is part of a PR strategy to sway public opinion to undermine the probe in case it ever comes down to impeachment.
All right. Julian Zelizer, thank you so much.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
BROWN: Seth Berenzweig, we do appreciate it.
BERENZWEIG: You bet.
BROWN: And another world leader is lining up to meet North Korea's dictator. A report says that Syrian President Bashar al -Assad will visit Pyongyang. What does this mean ahead of the historic summit with President Trump just nine days.
Also ahead, four people shot dead near Phoenix in just 48 hours. One of the victim's works on the (INAUDIBLE) Ramsey case. Police say the homicides may all be connected. Details on that straight ahead.
[16:15:10] BROWN: Well, the U.S. is vowing to keep up the pressure on North Korea ahead of the upcoming summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump in Singapore. Defense secretary James Mattis says it won't be enough for North Korea just to show up for the meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Especially now, we must remain vigilant. And we will continue to implement all U.N. security council resolutions on North Korea. North Korea will receive relief only when it demonstrates verifiable steps to denuclearization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson is in Seoul, South Korea. Also joining me is CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd. She is a former national security advisor in the Obama administration.
Great to see you both. Nic, I'm going to start with you here, because this appears to be tough talk from Mattis and on the other hand you have President Trump seemingly changing his tone on the meeting, calling it a get to know you session, saying we no longer want, you know saying the phrase maximum pressure campaign.
So what is going on here? Do you believe that they are edging toward a watered down deal?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Certainly, that's a concern that secretary Mattis was trying to address with some of the United States allies when he was speaking there in Singapore. And he did have a one-on-one meeting with Japan's defense minister but it was Japan's defense minister, the previous day, Saturday, and said, you know, essentially, what are we supposed to understand? Is it maximum pressure or are there still sanctions and the Japanese defense minister also pointed out what a lot of people are saying is. Kim Jong-un is coming to the table without putting anything on it. As President Trump says is getting to know you.
The Japanese position on this and they are huge U.S. -- an important U.S. ally here is that there should be complete, verifiable, reversible denuclearization (INAUDIBLE) Kim's biological chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. So there is real concern.
But the way that secretary Mattis shapes this, he said, look. You know, the important -- the strength of our security is in trust between each other. We have to, you know, we have to work in that trust. We can't take it for granted. Clearly, speaking to these concerns,. But he said it's up to us, defense and security chiefs, to essentially do our job and let the diplomats do theirs.
I guess what they are saying here is, look. President Trump wants this opportunity to sit down with Kim because he believes that he can achieve something across the table. A lot of people are saying and starting from now, from you know, essentially behind the (INAUDIBLE) on this one.
So it really does focus it down on can President Trump really do what he seems to think he can do, which is convince Kim to do something which neither he nor his father nor his grandfather have done in the past. The historic precedence is there to say that may not be likely, the south Koreans want this to happen, and saying let's not be, you know, let's not be imprisoned by the history here. So, you know, on the face of it right now, President Trump does not
have himself in as strong a position as he could have done at this stage.
And Sam, I just saw you tweeted earlier saying, you know, 101 planning for a summit is to get your talking points coordinated. You have planned many summits before under the last administration. What do you make of what's going on right now?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, to Nick's point, secretary Mattis is doing his job which is to maintain a credible deterrent while the diplomats and while the negotiators intensively work out what we want from the summit.
But at a basic level, summit prep 101, coordinate on your talking points. The lack of consistency in what we are saying can be exploited by the other side. If there are public gaps, and by what we are saying that we want, the North Koreans are going to try to manipulate those gaps and try to drive wedges between our negotiators and the President and try to exploit any space possible to get what they want.
So I think what this is also showing, Pam, is the President said, I believe on Friday, that we are kicking off a process with the North Koreans to figure out what complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization is going to look like. What is coming to light is that we are also just kicking off a process as U.S. government in terms of what we want and what we are willing to give in exchange for North Korea making progress in certain areas. So it's that bifurcated process that will hopefully lead to something for substantial in just a few days in Singapore.
BROWN: And Nic, North Korean state media is saying now that Kim Jong- un will be meeting with Syria's Bashar al-Assad in Pyongyang. This of course follows the meeting that Kim has had with the president of South Korea, China's president Xi, top leader in Russia and a possible summit with Vladimir Putin. Is this Kim Jong-un trying to change his stature on the world stage ahead of the summit? What do you make of this?
ROBERTSON: I think the fact that they are announcing this right now is certainly some part of signaling by the North Korean regime, precisely to what end, a reminder for President Trump that, you know, he is not going to do a completely doing about face and change the man that he is, change the leadership that he has, you know, it should be slightly troubling that he wants to send this message now, but he wants to come to the table in a position of strength.
And again, it underlines the difficulties that faces President Trump taking on a challenge like this when he perhaps doesn't have everything as aligned as, you know, as previous administrations would have had in the past.
I think, you know, what you are seeing here is an opportunity for the rest of the key players here, and Assad is not one of them by any stretch of the imagination, but China and Russia, South Korea too, Japan to a degree. But particularly from the Russia and China perspective to see now which direction President Trump is going with Kim Jong-un. How President Trump intends to play this. And therefore, where their own national security interests lie because of this.
And perhaps that means in the future China may not be so ready to ramp up and implement the sanctions that secretary Mattis is talking about that President Trump has been able to get perhaps like the U.N. security council to get Kim to get to the table in the first place.
You know, the partners, the global partners that President Trump has used to get to this position may not be ready to do this again because they see the way that he is going to play this, it may not be in that national security interests, it becomes more complicated.
President Trump has essentially shown his hand here and it does seem to be, you know, that gamut of I'm going to pull it off, whatever it is I need to convince Kim of in that first face-to-face, I have to have a face-to-face, otherwise this goes nowhere.
[16:21:48] BROWN: Yes. No doubt they are watching closely to everything the President says and does in Japan, is also raising concerns about the summit telling the U.S. not to reward North Korea just for showing up at a meeting, Sam. What do you think is President Trump endanger of embracing the theater of this and not paying enough attention to the substance of it?
VINOGRAD: I certainly think so. But I also think that this meeting or potential meeting between Kim Jong-un and Assad is not an accident. And I agree with Nic that it is a signal from Kim Jong-un to President Trump but I think for another reason.
You have to ask yourself why is Kim Jong-un and state media in North Korea making this public days before President Trump arrives in Singapore. To me, this is Kim Jong-un showing the world what he can do. He knows that President Trump is deeply focused on the summit happening. He is inviting a war criminal to Pyongyang and knows that President Trump is probably not going to make a harshly worded statement condemning the travel. And it is not going to do anything to risk upsetting the summit. So to me this gambit with President Assad is a signal from Kim Jong-un that he thinks he has the upper hand in going to Singapore. And it is a very dangerous way to enter the meeting.
BROWN: All right. Sam Vinograd, Nic Robertson, great insights. Thank you so much.
BROWN: Well, police are searching for a gunman who may have carried out four murders in Arizona this past week.
CNN's Nick Watt is in Scottsdale with a preview -- Nick? NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the four dead are a forensic
psychiatrist to paralegal and a life coach/the therapist. We have an artist impressionist but no name and what might be the motive.
[16:22:58] BROWN: Well, police in Arizona are looking for a man that they now believe may have killed four people in a series of shootings. The latest victim was a 72-year-old mental health counselor who was found dead in his Scottsdale office on Saturday. Also among the dead, a well-known forensic psychiatrist who worked on several high profile cases including the killing of 6-year-old Jonbenet Ramsey.
CNN's Nick Watt is covering the story for us in Arizona.
And Nick, are police linking these four cases?
WATT: Well, so far -- (NO AUDIO)
BROWN: OK, we seem to be having some technical issues there, Nick Watt in Arizona. We hope to get back with him soon. But in the meantime, I want to go over to Diane Gallagher, who is covering an emotional day in Parkland, Florida. Right now, seniors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, they are graduating.
Dianne, of course, this comes nearly four months after a gunman killed 17 of their classmates, four of those victims are part of the senior class. What more can you tell us, Dianne?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, absolutely emotional day here. We are outside to the (INAUDIBLE) center. They moved the graduation because it was expected to be so large. It's a class of nearly 800 students, each of them got about six tickets. And really, the teachers have been working to figure out, how do they balance this grief and graduation. They took the beginning of the ceremony and probably the most difficult part for so many to get through to acknowledge those seniors who did not make it to graduation day. And the families of those seniors, including those four who were killed in the February 14th massacre, (INAUDIBLE), their families or family friends for those families who say they just couldn't bear to be there today.
They came and accepted it, Pam, the father and mother of Joaquin Oliver are getting these loud standing ovations as his father Manuel Oliver, ran through the aisle kind of a standing-O from the kids' cheers trying to hype them up. He hopped up on the stage. His mother wearing a shirt that said this should be my son. Instead she will be accepting that diploma.
Medow Pollick (ph), her father said I don't want to go to graduation. So her older brother and her boyfriend of four years accepted it. This was something a lot of these families were dealing with during that time, whether or not they wanted to do this.
The school said look, we have to also make sure that we acknowledge the four years, not just the past four months. We want the students who are graduating to be able to celebrate. So they worked something out. They don't usually have a guest speaker at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas graduations because their classes are just so big.
But this year, some of the teachers, one in particular, grand marshal Jeff Foster managed to kind of work behind the scenes and secure the Tonight Show Host Jimmy Fallon. He met some of the students at the march for our lives back in March in Washington, D.C., and I want you to listen to a little bit of what he had to tell them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When something feels hard, remember that it gets better. Choose to move forward. Don't let anything stop you. I met many of you this year at the march for our lives in Washington, D.C. It was an amazing day. Thank you for your courage and your bravery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: Also a lot of jokes in there, made Yanny and Laurel jokes, told them about how they were going to stalking their friends on Facebook at 2 a.m. in 10 years. And going into the real world, but it was an attempt to kind of (Inaudible) in this on and off lifting, Pamela. The teachers, the students, the parents that we talked to seem to feel like Jimmy Fallon struck that appropriate tone for them.
Now they are still in there getting their diplomas right now. They asked if the media wouldn't go inside. They wanted to kind of keep private. So we have been getting all of ours from texts and messages and calls and photos from the students, teachers, and those parents inside that we have been talking to for the past almost four months, who wanted all of us and everybody out there to be able to share with them on that day. We're also trying to keep it at least a little bit private.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM, ANCHOR: Understandably so. Diane Gallagher, thank you for bringing us the latest there from Parkland, Florida. Well, an off-duty FBI agent lets loose with some great dance floor moves. But then the night goes horribly wrong. All right, let's pull this video here. Take a look. You're looking at the agent dancing up a storm at a nightclub in downtown Denver, having some fun.
You saw the back flip. Then his weapon falls out of his waistband. When he goes to pick it up, the gun accidentally fires, hitting a person in the leg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a break dance circle, a quintessential break dance circle. There was one man who was doing flips and then he left, and the FBI agent, I guess. We didn't know that. He came on the scene and he did a back flip. And he was dancing, and then right as he did that back flip, his gun fell out and it hit the ground. It shot off.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: The victim was taken to the hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. Police are investigating to determine whether to file any charges in this case. Well, Chicago Police say violent crimes are down for the 15th month in a row. CNN's Ryan Young has all the details on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN YOUNG, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Chicago's struggle with crime continues to be one of President Trump's favourite targets.
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES, PRESIDENT: We all know what's going on in Chicago. But Chicago has the toughest gun laws in our country. They're so tough.
YOUNG: On Twitter last week, the President called out Chicago's mayor and accused the city of preventing police from doing their job. The killings are at a record pace and tough police work, which Chicago would not allow will bring back to order fast. The killings must stop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a Trump-free zone. We have facts. So here's the thing. This is what matters. What matters is what happens on the street. We're making progress. We're not where we need to be, but what we do have is a strategy that generally people buy into.
YOUNG: Mayor Rahm Emanuel tells CNN the police department is turning the tide against violence. And according to Chicago police data, for the last 15 months, violent crime has been on the decline. So far this year, there have been about 500 less shooting victims than in 2016 during the same time period. And about 50 fewer murder victims.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And while we have added hundreds upon more officers, and we're going to get (Inaudible) to do that for a thousand more. The biggest thing I am happy about is we have 32,000 kids, a record high in our summer jobs program.
YOUNG: Michael Fredrick, a long time south side resident and business owner believes so much potential has been taken by gun fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tend to want to stay in your house because there's so much shooting going on. Just this past weekend, there was a shooting near the park, earlier in the day, and they taped it off. And then later on in the day, there was a shooting at the expressway, this way and on state. And it's just taped off. You can't even commute back and forth.
[16:34:52] YOUNG: After a violent 2016, the city started adding social services, additional police officers, and state of the art technology to assist officers in the 13 most violent neighborhoods.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Shot Spotter is probably key to what we're doing here. Shot Spotter detects gunshots and notifies our officers. A lot of times before 911 is called, in fact a lot of times 911 wouldn't even be called. Officers get that notification right away to cell phones that they have with them in the cars and they're able to respond to those areas.
YOUNG: Officers say as the numbers dip, more community members are engaging with them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love this town, man. I love this town. So I am just in hopes that it will get better and different and sometime real soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we have to work at it every day. But we're doing it now slowly but surely with a little more wind at our back rather than wind in our face.
YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN Chicago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And still ahead on this Sunday, people trapped by lava on Hawaii's big island. How will they be evacuated if the situation becomes dire? Scott McLean is there with a preview, Scott.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Pam. We're on the big island where there are still a handful of people trapped between molten lava and the ocean, how many people have been rescued already and those left behind, how they'll have to communicate with authorities.
[16:40:01] BROWN: Voters in California will head to the polls on Tuesday. And one of the issues they're going to be deciding on is the fate of a judge who sentenced a Stamford swimmer to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. You may have recalled that case. Well, that sentence sparked national outrage, and now that judge is the first to face a recall in the Golden State in more than 80 years. CNN's Dan Simon has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must follow the rule of law. We must not follow the rule of public opinion. We cannot.
DAN SIMON, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: But it was the public opinion over the lenient sentencing of Brock Turner that has Judge Aaron Persky on the verge of being removed from the bench. Turner was the former Stamford swimmer who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside of a fraternity party. Persky himself, a former Stamford athlete was accused of going too soft with the sentence. Prosecutors asked for six years in the state prison. Persky judge gave him six months in the county jail, following the recommendation from the county's probation department.
What do you say to those voters who may be on the fence, who are thinking about what they should do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say stop, think, and do your home work. Do you really want a system where a judge can lose his or her job because of one lawful, yet unpopular ruling? What does that mean for the next litigant in our courtrooms if judges are afraid to make unpopular rulings?
SIMON: Persky says he can't specifically talk about the Turner case because it's under appeal. But the Commission on Judicial Performance cleared him of wrongdoing and found no clear evidence of bias or misconduct with his rulings. Yet the backlash has been fierce. It began after the victim's emotionally searing letter to Turner went viral.
You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, she read in court. In newspapers, my name was unconscious, intoxicated woman. For a while, I believed that's all I was. Critics of the sentence began to mobilize. Led by Stamford law professor Michelle Dauber, a family friend of the victim raised more than a million dollars to fund the recall effort. Since it started two years ago, the effort has picked up even more momentum in the wake of the MeToo movement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think Emily Doe's victim impact statement in many ways really serves as a manifesto for the MeToo movement. I think that it predates it. In some ways, it helped to launch it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people have a right to criticize judicial rulings. I would simply encourage people to dig a little bit deeper in terms of -- before they make that decision, and thinking not only about one specific case, but think about the downstream consequences, the collateral damage to our justice system if this recall succeeds.
SIMON: Heavily outspent, Persky and his allies have raised only a fraction compared to the other side. Local polls have showed him losing by double digits, but with still a lot of undecided voters. If the recall succeeds, he would be the first judge to be removed from the bench in 86 years, Dan Simon, CNN San Jose, California.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, a dangerous situation on the west coast, with massive wildfires, forcing people to flee their homes there. In northern New Mexico, a second town has been evacuated as the park fire has grown to more than 31,000 acres since it ignited on Thursday, and hundreds of firefighters are battling a blaze in southern California. Laguna Beach Police say that evacuation orders remain in place for about 300 homes there. Officials are hoping thunderstorms in the forecast will give firefighters a short reprieve from it all.
And meantime, three people in Hawaii have been rescued after being stranded in an area cut off from lava there, spewing from the erupting Kilauea Volcano. There are fewer than a dozen people trapped in the isolated area. Those residents who chose to ignore mandatory evacuation orders are now without power, cell reception, land lines, and water service.
Hawaii's civil defense service went through the neighborhoods, warning residents that the lava was about to cut off their final escape route, but several still chose to stay. On Friday, emergency responders had said that they had no plans to rescue anyone who didn't evacuate, but authorities now say they plan to air lift the holdout out of the danger zone if the lava spreads any further.
[16:45:07] I want to go straight to CNN's Scott McLean at Pahoa, Hawaii. Scott, any idea why the holdouts stayed behind?
MCLEAN: So it is really hard to get information from this area, Pam, because obviously we can't access that area. In fact, first responders can't even access that area at this point, because it is completely cut off by any kind of road or land route without packing through some serious bush with lava encroaching just a couple hundred yards away.
So communications are extremely difficult in that area. But what first responders, the ones who did that final sweep telling people, hey, the lava is about to cut off their road. They say that some people told them that look, they just didn't have a good place to go. And so they were opting to stay and take their chances.
The good news is that that area is actually not a mandatory evacuation area. That particular isolated area is actually under a voluntary evacuation area. Though, there are other parts of the island that obviously, people have been told you need to get out or you'll be arrested. And so there is no incoming threat of lava in a lot of those areas.
But the reality is that on the one side, you have molten lava, on the other side you have the ocean. So there aren't a lot of good options for people. Further compounding issue, there's no power, there's no water, there's no cell service, there's no land line service. These people have really no way of communicating. And so if they would like to be rescued by authorities, as those streets were rescued earlier this morning by the civil defense authorities, then they're going to have to send some other signal, some kind of smoke signal, maybe spray painting SOS on their front lawn.
However they can do it, authorities have said that they're going to regularly go through there with a helicopter and search for those types of signs. But otherwise, they're really on their own. And the lava continues to move that way and really it has no signs of letting up any time soon, Pam.
BROWN: Yeah, it certainly doesn't. Scott McLean, thank you so much.
Well, sure it can be tough keeping up with all the news at the Trump White House. But no one had any trouble keeping up with this week's celebrity White House visitor, how Hollywood meets Washington, up next.
[16:50:01] BROWN: Well, this week's CNN Hero has a passion to help families who are sleeping on hospital floors, waiting to get badly needed medical care. This non profit has given free shelter, meals, and transportation to more than 900 families in Lima, Peru.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The journey is very difficult. They come here and it's very expensive to stay here. They don't have enough money to continue their trip. Sometimes, families, they have to sell everything they have. They feel helpless. So I decided to do something for them. I want them to know that they are not alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And to see more, you can go to CNNheroes.com, and while you're there, nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero. Well, President Trump is no stranger to hanging out with celebrities, and neither is the Office of the President. Last week, he kept up a decades old White House tradition when he invited Kim Kardashian-West to the West Wing.
CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash takes a closer look at the history of celebrity and politics intermingling at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There were two reality stars in the Oval Office this week. Kim Kardashian stopped by to meet with President Trump and Jared Kushner on prison reform.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that you know he really spent the time to listen to our case.
BASH: The Oval Office has long been a magnet for Hollywood's biggest stars, A-listers flocking to Washington using their influence to push policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been no secret that you've been under great opposition to further implement some of your climate change initiatives.
BASH: For celebrities, a trip to 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue could be to receive a big award, or maybe just to snap that classic Oval Office picture with the Commander in Chief.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jesus was booked, so I invited my buddies Kid Rock and Ted Nugent.
BASH: In fact, entertaining the most famous people in America is a time honored tradition for American Presidents. President Nixon hosted Sammy Davis Jr., and famously visited with the King himself in the Oval. President Harry Truman compared musical notes with jazz legend, Duke Ellington, and Nancy Reagan danced at the White House with Frank Sinatra. Still, when it comes to meeting the President of the United States, even stars get nervous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're so scared. And he looks like he's nine feet tall when you get up to meet him.
BASH: And while the U.S. President may arguably be the most powerful person in the world, they still get star struck. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am the President. He is the boss.
TRUMP: I love his movies and I don't care if it's Rambo or Rocky. I just don't know which I like better.
BASH: For Hollywood's brightest, a trip to the White House maybe a chance to try out a little politics. After all, in today's Washington, who knows where celebrity may lead.
[16:55:05] TRUMP: I am not a celebrity. See now, I am a politician. I am so embarrassed by that term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, thank you so much for watching. I am Pamela Brown in for Fredericka Whitfield. There is much more news ahead in the next hour of Newsroom right after this short break.
ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM, ANCHOR: You are in the CNN Newsroom. I am Ana Cabrera in New York. Hello on this Sunday. Right here on CNN, President Trump's legal team addressing the notion that the President pardoning himself. Yes, the same way he pardoned a conservative pundit two days ago, the same he pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The stroke of a Presidential pen, making criminal charges and convictions just go away.