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CNN NEWSROOM

"Clerical Error" Unsealed Court Filing: Assange Could Face Criminal Charges; GOP-Led Committee to Issue Subpoenas to Comey, Lynch on Mueller Probe Origination; Dramatic Video of Escape from California Wildfire; Lawsuit Claims Dartmouth Department Turned into "21st Century 'Animal House'"; North Korea Tests "High-Tech" Weapons as U.S. Drops Key Demand. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 16, 2018 - 14:30   ET

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


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[14:33:19] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: A clerical error revealing prosecutors are preparing to indict WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. But for what? That is the big question. Assange's name has come up, of course, in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. WikiLeaks posted thousands of e-mails stolen from Democrats by Russian agents during the 2016 election. And Assange has spent the last six years holed up inside Ecuador's embassy in London.

I want to bring in CNN senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez.

Evan, are these actually charges coming soon, do we know, and are they related to the Russia investigation?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we don't know whether they are related to the Russia investigation, but all signs point to the fact that these charges already exist, this clerical error, as you point out, was actually in an unrelated case having to do with someone who is accused of child sex crimes, so this -- it appears what happened is that a prosecutor simply cut and paste from an existing document and then posted it, put it into this document which was filed back in august. I will read you a short part of it in which they say the complaint supporting affidavit and arrest warrant as well as this motion and proposed order would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and could therefore no longer evade arrest and extradition. That's the big concern for Julian Assange and his team is that they believe that the minute he is forced out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London that the United States will try to get him expedited here to face charges here -- Ana?

CABRERA: So I'm trying to make sure we understand. If you are able to clarify, when they say they copied and pasted accidentally, it's a clerical error, are they saying Assange isn't tied to the case in which his name comes up?

[14:35:07] PEREZ: Right. He is not at all tied to this case at all. It simply is the fact that somebody apparently cut and paste -- you know, it's the same language that they use in a lot of these types of cases, they are very similar, so someone just to make things easier for themselves cut and paste a couple of paragraphs and plopped them into this document.

CABRERA: OK. So the bigger question now is, where did they cut and paste from and what does that mean? Could it have been part of the Mueller investigation, which we just don't know at this time.

Let me move on because we just got some news, Evan. We're learning a Republican-led House committee will now be issuing noteworthy subpoenas soon. What do you know?

PEREZ: That's right. Bob Goodlatte, who is the chairman for just a few more weeks of the House Judiciary Committee, has issued or is preparing to issue subpoenas, I should say. I think he is going to issue them on Monday. The people obviously are the important ones. One of them is Jim Comey, the former FBI director, and Loretta Lynch, the former attorney general under the Obama administration. Comey is being subpoenaed to appear on November 29th. Loretta Lynch is being requested to appear on December 5th. So we know what part of this investigation is that the House Republicans have been running, which is to look into what the origins were for the Mueller investigation, the original investigation, which was an FBI investigation. Part of what they have been pushing is this idea that the investigation is without merits, Ana, which what you heard from the president just earlier this afternoon. He says that this investigation should never have begun. So I think Republicans are hoping in the closing weeks of their time in office, they're hoping that they can shed more light by calling these two important figures to bring some testimony there in the House Judiciary Committee.

CABRERA: Again, it's the Republicans who want to subpoena them. We know Democrats when they take power and have the majority come January, they have other potential subpoenas planned that will dig into more of the Russia investigation.

PEREZ: Right.

CABRERA: Evan Perez, the story continues to develop. We will continue to come back to you as you learn more. Thank you.

Just ahead, yet another incredible escape from California's fiery hell. A woman's horror as her neighborhood goes up in flames. Just incredible images and sound. We will head there next.

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[14:41:34] CABRERA: More incredible tales of survival are surfacing. A family desperately trying to escape a deadly wildfire in California.

Watch this dramatic video showing the fear and the shock one family experiences while driving through a neighborhood that is literally up in flames.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a fire going down Skyway by the health center. Going down Skyway, there's fire like crazy. I don't know if you can see it. Oh, my gosh, the whole side there. Get in. Oh, my gosh, look to the right, that house is on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at that. Oh, my gosh. Oh, my god.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Robert, get in here now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh. This is (EXPLETIVE DELETED). We are in hell. Look at right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shut your window, quick. Quick. Quick. Quick!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're having us drive this way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh, look at all these houses are gone. This is horrible. Look at this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you recording?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm videotaping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are your lights on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you can't even see them.

Oh, my gosh.

(EXPLOSION)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's explosions going on. I've got to put my window up, I can't breathe.

Oh, my gosh. Oh, this is horrible. Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. These poor people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The nightmarish reality of what the Camp Fire has left behind is simply staggering. And 63 people have now been confirmed dead in that fire and three more in a second wildfire. Officials say more than 600 people are unaccounted for or reported missing right now. Thousands of survivors are homeless, living in emergency shelters and makeshift tent cities. We will go live to the fire zone next hour.

Meantime, Kim Jong-Un testing a, quote, "high-tech weapon" in what experts call a veiled threat to the U.S. and President Trump. Hear what this weapon does. Plus, "a 21st century 'Animal House,'" that is how a federal lawsuit

is describing the way three Dartmouth professors ran their department for years. Details on the alcohol-fueled culture that allegedly led to sexual assault and even rape.

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[14:48:35]CABRERA: Truly shocking allegations against three former professors at Dartmouth coming to light in a new lawsuit. Seven women have come forward claiming the professors turned a department at Dartmouth into a, quote, "21st century 'Animal House'" where female students were given alcohol and even raped.

I want to bring in CNN's Erica Hill.

Because these are stunning allegations, Erica. Walk us through it.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are talking 72 pages here so there's a lot that is frankly jaw dropping in this filing. And 72 pages of disturbing allegations of misconduct by three former professors and also by the school. This suit claims that Dartmouth has known about the problem since 2002 and done essentially nothing. Allowing these men to treat women as sex objects, detailing how women were groped, assaulted, humiliated and, in some cases, raped amidst what's described as a party culture that emphasized and rewarded heavy drinking.

The three former professors, who are seen here, Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen, either resigned or retired over the summer.

The filing, again, it was filed yesterday, it also details the school's response, noting the associate dean and chair of the department confirmed they had received numerous complaints from graduate students who felt pressured to drink alcohol and socialize with the professors and feared retaliation if they refused, yet didn't act, which, according to the plaintiffs, quote, "emboldened the predators club to continue without fear of punishment."

[14:50:00] The suit goes on to cite this example, involving Paul Whalen, saying, "During the 2010 through 2011 academic year, Whalen announced to his students that a woman in the department had previously complained about sexual harassment and that it had," quote, "backfired, causing the complainant to lose resources and steam in her career, adding she," quote, "got what was coming to her, of course, you don't bite the hand that feeds you."

Earlier today, some of the plaintiffs described the environment to CBS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These men had all of the power in the department. They controlled all of the resources. Opting out of the Boys Club culture meant that you were cut off from those resources. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really intimidating to come out as a victim

rather than a brain scientist, which is what we went to Dartmouth to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: So the big question, of course, how do we get to this point. In the spring of 2017 more than two dozen women got together and they decided to file a Title IX complaint. That triggered a months'-long investigation, also triggered an investigation from the attorney general in the state of New Hampshire.

So during the investigation at Dartmouth the plaintiffs alleged the investigator shared their confidential information without their knowledge or consent. The plaintiffs are seeking $70 million in damages from Dartmouth's trustees, alleging that the school breached its duty to protect them from sexual harassment and also violated Title IX by failing to create an environment that was free from gender-based discrimination.

In response, the school telling CNN, quote, "Sexual misconduct and harassment have no place at Dartmouth. The board of trustees and senior leadership team are dedicated to maintaining a safe and inclusive campus and say they are committed to improving our culture."

A sentiment that was echoed in a separate letter from the school's president, which was sent out to alumni on Thursday morning.

Neither William Kelley nor Paul Whalen responded to CNN's request for comment. Through his attorney, Todd Heatherton categorically denied playing any role in creating a toxic environment at Dartmouth college, said he was disturbed by the allegations, and that none of the plaintiffs were his graduate students.

I also want to point out, also we heard from the Education Department today separately. Ana, they have opened a public comment period because they want to change the way sexual assault and sexual harassment is dealt with on college campuses and they are looking for public comment on that as they also change the definition of sexual harassment on campuses.

CABRERA: This story, case in point, why this issue is so important.

Erica Hill, thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Just ahead, North Korea testing what they are now calling a new ultra- modern weapon. What this new threat could mean for negotiations with the U.S.

Plus, the judge siding with CNN in this network's lawsuit against the White House over press access. Hear what happens next.

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[14:57:07] CABRERA: Welcome back. High-tech saber rattling coming from North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. State media there releasing this picture of Kim purportedly supervising the test of a new weapon that is described as newly developed, ultra-modern. We really don't know much about it or even if it's really new. But this test comes a day after Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. is dropping a key demand for a second Trump/Kim summit, that requirement that North Korea provide a full list of nuclear missile sites before a second meeting.

Joining us is Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Non- Proliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Jeffrey, first, let me ask you about this new weapon. What can you tell us about it?

JEFFREY LEWIS, DIRECTOR, EAST ASIA NON-PROLIFERATION PROGRAM, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, it's a nearly complete mystery. You know, we have some idea of where it was tested and we can tell that the people around Kim Jong-Un suggest that, you know, it's perhaps a piece of artillery, but the North Koreans have been very coy and no one is talking. They are saying it's a high-tech tactical weapon, but beyond that, we are just all guessing.

CABRERA: Timing-wise, why would they be showing this off right now?

LEWIS: Well, you know, they're doing it in a very kind of clever way, you know, they're getting people spun up, but they're not actually showing any pictures of the weapon. What I think has happened is there has been a bit of a decline in relations. The North Koreans recently stood up Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a meeting. And the U.S. and South Korea are doing a very small exercise involving just 500 Marines, but the North Koreans were very angry about that. I think this is the North Koreans' way of saying that things are going pretty well between the United States and North Korea for now, but if they don't get what they want, we might be back to 2017.

CABRERA: Do you see this as a new threat against Trump or a test of his administration of some sort?

LEWIS: I think it's a warning or maybe a shot across the bow, you know. I think that the Trump administration is kind of going back and forth between issuing very strong demands and then, as you said, you know, Mike Pence walking those demands back. I think this is the North Koreans trying to push in a particular direction, which is to say they're willing to do the summit, but if the U.S. wants to play hard ball, they have lots of options, too.

CABRERA: And yet, a source tells CNN South Korea doesn't look at this as a provocation. What do you make of that?

LEWIS: Well, I think the Moon government is very committed to the current situation with diplomacy. They are very much invested in making sure this works and so, you know, I think, short of Kim Jong-Un firing a missile over South Korea, what we're going to hear from them is a pretty positive take. Regardless of the spin that people put on it, you know, I think this is a warning from the North Koreans that if they don't get what they want, which is eventually relief from sanctions, this process may not be sustainable. CABRERA: Jeffrey Lewis, great to have with us.