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CNN NEWSROOM

Judge Sides with CNN And Orders White House to Return Acosta's Press Pass; George Conway Says the Trump Administration Is Like A Dumpster Fire; Couple and Homeless Man Are Charged with A GoFundMe Scam, Malibu Fire Survivors Stay Up All Night Watching for Flareups. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 16, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" on Sundays at 11:00 on CNN, Brian Stelter. So, this is round one.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST OF "RELIABLE SOURCES": Yes, round one, but we don't know how many more rounds there will be. This could conclude pretty quickly if the White House recognizes today's loss, accepts it and decides to settle. However, if the White House continues to fight on, if it wants to battle in court, the CNN lawyer in this case told me CNN is ready to continue litigating for as long as it takes. This ruling today from the judge, as you said, it was a limited ruling on Fifth Amendment grounds. Due process basically. Meaning that Acosta's press pass was taken away without due process, without giving him a chance to be aware of the decision, without a chance to appeal. So now the President, President Trump, is saying he's going to come up with some rules, some regulations, this way in the future if he wants to kick somebody out, he can cite the rules and regulations. So, it is unclear how this is going to go. If the White House is going to put up a big fight here, if they want to take this all the way through a court process, or if they want to acknowledge today's loss and CNN's victory and kind of quietly resolve this. My sense from the White House's statements today is that they recognize this was a defeat and they probably want to quietly resolve this, but I think a lot of people will still be on heightened alert in news rooms because now that Trump has tried to do this once with Acosta, he has opened himself up to doing it again in the future, he has indicated he might want to try to do this in the future. In response on Fox today he said if a reporter misbehaves in the future, we will kick them out or end the news conference. It means he may want to flirt with this idea in the future.

CABRERA: Brian Stelter, thank you.

Now to the White House marriage intriguing much of Washington, I'm not talking about the President and first lady, I'm not talking about Ivanka and Jared, I'm talking about Kellyanne and George Conway. Kellyanne, counselor to the President is a frequent face of the White House on television while her husband writes an in opposition to President Trump. Well, now for the first time he's talking about it in a Yahoo News podcast. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE CONWAY, HUSBAND OF KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT (podcast): I'm filling out the financial forms and it's like -- you know, it's like -- I forget what part-time or year it was, it was like late April and I'm thinking, man, I'm watching this thing and it's like the administration is like a [bleep] show in a dumpster fire. And I'm like, I don't want to do that. I don't know.

I don't think she likes it, about but I don't -- I've told her I don't like, you know, the administration, so it's even, you know, it's one of these things. If I had a nickel for everybody in Washington who disagreed with their spouse about something that happens in this town, I wouldn't be on this podcast, I'd be probably on a beach somewhere. And the fact of the matter is when it comes down to things we disagree about, I mean, we agree on most policy things, I mean, virtually all ever, it's just, OK, so this is the one thing we really disagree about. And my view was he was the lesser evil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (podcast): Is that still your view?

GEORGE CONWAY (podcast): I don't know. I don't know. You know, if I had to -- you know, I don't know. I just don't know. If faced with the choice again I'd probably move to Australia.

CABRERA: That last answer, a response to the question would you vote for Trump again. You voted for him and that's what he said. So maybe regrets. Joining us now Ben Terris who is a reporter for the "Washington Post." Ben, I'm glad to talk to you because you have some good insight into this couple and their marriage, you are one of the first journalists to do an in-depth interview with the Conways, what stood out to you from this new interview?

BEN TERRIS, REPORTER. "WASHINGTON POST": Honestly, what stood out to me was that George Conway was willing to do it. I spent time with him and Kellyanne over the summer, but other than that he really has not done a lot of interviewing, he hasn't been on television, he hasn't gone on the radio. He kind of likes to be behind the scenes, he likes to -- he likes to be alongside the action and not in front of a camera. So, the fact that he was willing to do an hour and 24-minute interview and have his voice out there calling the administration a dumpster fire was the most interesting thing to me.

CABRERA: How do you think Kellyanne is reacting to go that?

TERRIS: I'm sure she's not happy. When I spent time with her, she told me that she finds it disrespectful when George tweets negative things about the President, she said it was like almost akin to going against marriage vows, that's how disloyal it could seem at times. She said it made the kids upset and so if that's how she feels about when he's tweeting, I imagine that when he's out there actually speaking on the record it probably does not make her too happy.

CABRERA: Being so publicly in opposition of each other when it comes to Trump, what do you think their end game is?

TERRIS: That's a good question. When I talked to George he said to me that, you know, when this is all over and when she's no longer working for the President anymore, whenever that may be, that he will dance a happy jig and he thinks things will go back to normal. In the clip you played he said that they agree on most things and I think that's true, but this is a really big thing to not agree on. So, I imagine it is stressful and it is a difficult thing to deal with, but, you know, like he said there's lots of disagreements in Washington and people find a way.

[15:35:00] CABRERA: Ben, good to have you with us. Thank you.

TERRIS: Thanks.

CABRERA: Desperation in overdrive, my next guest has only slept for 30 minutes at a time for the last week as he tries to protect his neighborhood from one of those deadly wildfires still raging in California.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:40:00] CABRERA: A story we thought we could all feel good about turns out to be one big fat lie. We were among the many news outlets that told the story of a woman and her boyfriend starting a GoFundMe page after the woman says a homeless man gave her his last 20 bucks when she ran out of gas.

Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico say they wanted to repay Johnny Bobbitt Jr. for his kindness. Here is McClure playing the good Samaritan on "Good Morning America."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE MCCLURE, CREATED FRAUDULENT GOFUNDME PAGE: What if we started a GoFundMe for this guy just to get him -- you know, to get him off the streets even for a weekend?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: This story tugged at our heart strings, people flooded the GoFundMe account with small donations until it brought in more than $400,000. Police closed in, though, after the couple and that homeless man started feuding and he sued them. New Jersey prosecutors announced it was a fraud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT A. COFFINA, BURLINGTON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: D'Amico, McClure and Bobbitt conspired to pass off a fake, feel good story that would compel donors to contribute to their cause and it worked in a very big way, but it was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: All three were arrested this week. It turns out that homeless man according to prosecutors, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., he was in on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me say this about Johnny Bobbitt, he deserves our appreciation for his willingness to serve our country as a United States Marine, but it is imperative to keep in mind that he was fully complicit with this scheme to defraud contributors promoting the campaign in multiple media appearances and posing with D'Amico and McClure for a "Philadelphia Enquirer" story in front of a gas station that he did not buy gas from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Elie Honig and Jennifer Rodgers, both are also former federal prosecutors. So happy Friday, guys.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You, too.

CABRERA: Isn't this lovely? I thought this was a happy feel good story, we all did, but the thing is, Jennifer, they may have gotten away with all of this had they not had this internal feud that exposed themselves.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it makes you think they should even have taken it a step further and come up with a picture of some random homeless guy and not enlisted him in this scheme. This is often how it happens, you know, you have people who are committing a low-level crime and then they want to take it a step further and a step further to up the stakes and that's when they get caught. It's not unusual.

CABRERA: The couple texted each other, they texted friends admitting the fraud. I mean, what?

HONIG: Yes, scam artists are not always bright in the way they commit their scams and one of the things that you learn as a prosecutor is that anytime there is a pot of money, no matter the cost someone will have their hand in it. Jennifer and I have done cases relating to 9/11 fraud, people stealing money intended for 9/11 victims, hurricane sandy fraud, fraud based on aid for military veterans, for disabled children. So, you see this kind of thing quite a bit as a prosecutor. This is just another example.

CABRERA: Which is really disheartening to hear because GoFundMe is something that a lot of us are familiar with and they are responding to this development saying, quote, "all donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign will receive a full refund. GoFundMe always protects donors which is why we have a comprehensive refund policy in place. GoFundMe will process all refunds in the coming days. It's important to understand that misuse is very rare on our platform." So, refunds coming. But are there changes that need to be made?

RODGERS: Listen, GoFundMe is defined for small donations, you know, and I think it was started more kind of friends of friends. If you know someone who knows someone who is in trouble, you know, that's the kind of thing that people are looking to donate to and, you know, I don't know, I don't know what changes they could put this place that would fix this problem, but I do think they need to take a look at it because people want to donate to real causes, even if they have just a little amount to give, they don't want it going to someone who is gambling it away as it appears the defendants did in this case.

CABRERA: Let me pivot to El Chapo and that trial continues this week, we've discussed in the past jurors feeling anxious, worried about their own safety, but what about those who testify because, for example, this week we heard from a former cartel member who said El Chapo got pleasure in the killings that he is allegedly committed. Elie, he is supposed to come back in three days from now, what about his safety?

HONIG: The witnesses are likely in what we call the federal witness protection program it's called and that was a burdensome program, those people are under lock and key, the marshals have them everywhere they go. They are very good at protecting its witnesses and I'm sure in this case they have the highest level of security. That detail about how El Chapo Guzman got pleasure out of killing people rang a bell for me. We have both prosecuted cases involving mob leaders, leaders of organized crime families. A lot of them see violence as a means to an end.

[15:45:00] Part of the business with a bottom line, but it sounds like Chapo Guzman was more of the blood lust variety where he almost relished the violence.

CABRERA: What kind of a message will it send to other drug lords if he is convicted?

HONIG: I think it always sends a general deterrence message when you get someone in his position convicted. Drug lords try to insulate themselves, you have your lower level people do the dirty work so you try to stay out of the fray, this he try to protect themselves when their lower level people start to get under law enforcement scrutiny. I think it sends the message that even if you think you're protected, even if you think you're having other people do the dirty work and you're staying out of the fray, you know, we will get to you and, you know, don't keep committing crimes thinking that you will be safe from law enforcement.

CABRERA: You can take your phone call now, Jennifer, and Elie thank you both. Really appreciate it.

Just ahead, yet another incredible escape from California's fiery hell. This video is incredible. The woman's horror as her neighborhood goes up in flames. To California next.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Very grim reality of what California wildfires have left behind is simply staggering. 66 people have now died, and officials say more than 600 are unaccounted for or reported missing. Thousands of survivors are now homeless. They're living in emergency shelters or makeshift tent cities. In Malibu, a local group of residents are doing what they can to protect their neighborhood. They are staying up all night, keeping a lookout for hot spots that flare up and then trying to tackle them. And one of them is joining us on the phone right now. He is a Marine vet and a Malibu native. Robert Spangle. Thank you for taking the time.

ROBERT SPANGLE, WILDFIRE SURVIVOR KEEPING WATCH (via telephone): Great to be here.

CABRERA: This is dangerous. You have to be exhausted. Why take this on?

SPANGLE: I think it's a Malibu tradition and part of the values of growing up here. We very much know to look after each other and look at our own. And historically, the fires that have gone through here have been really, really bad and that's made the difference. I think for everyone who decided to stick around, there was no other choice.

CABRERA: Help me understand exactly what it is you've been doing. Describe for us what you're experiencing.

SPANGLE: So, there's been a group of about 25 young men called the point zoom bombers who have been every single day and night fighting fires and keeping structures safe. And in teams of three or four attached to vehicles. I've been directing and spotting them from a lookout on top of a hill. The last few days it's also shifted to relief efforts of getting supplies and looking after people who are trapped and isolated.

CABRERA: Are you worried at all about the risk?

SPANGLE: I think that's really secondary or maybe tertiary for most of these guys. Really their place and family and friends' place in Malibu is a much, much higher priority. Especially now that we're past the first few days of really terrifying walls of fire. The risk is really -- the risk is mitigated a little past that. But I don't think these guys are thinking about that much, if at all.

CABRERA: Very quickly, Robert, do you know how much you've been able to save?

SPANGLE: There's definitely been a few structures out there that if we hadn't been tending to them would have gone up. No real way to say that with certainty on any kind of scale. I know we definitely have been able to help some people who were stranded here. There was a diabetic who was stranded up a canyon for I believe three days without any insulin. And we worked pretty hard to find her not just some insulin, but the exact prescription she needs as well as taking care of some people's animals who got left behind.

CABRERA: Doing what you can.

SPANGLE: And a huge amount of the effort has been getting in all of the supplies needed to sustain the people who have stuck behind.

CABRERA: It's a community effort. Robert Spangle, thank you for what you're doing. Our hearts go out to you and the entire community there. We wish you safety and a quick recovery. Thanks again for being with us.

Now, the President today revealing that he and not his attorneys wrote responses to questions from the special counsel. So, what exactly could Robert Mueller be asking?

Plus, a new report says the President is questioning the loyalty of one person in his inner circle who aides say is the most loyal. Details ahead.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: How about this. For more than 25 years now, the state of Oklahoma has had the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate of women in the United States. But one high school English teacher is now giving some of these women a voice and the power to heal themselves. Meet 2018 top ten CNN hero, Ellen Stackable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of feelings in prison. You don't get to feel them. You are not a person and your feelings are not valid.

[16:00:00] ELLEN STACKABLE, CNN HERO: Many of the women that are incarcerated have been victims of some kind of abuse. We provide a safe place for them to overcome trauma and pain. So, it is so much more than just writing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Learning to change my life of abuse to a life of glory.

STACKABLE: It becomes a therapeutic way for healing to occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Ellen's program, Poetic Justice is in five female prisons in Oklahoma, reaching more than 2,500 women. You can head to CNNheroes.com to vote for her or any of your favorite top ten CNN heroes. Thank you so much for being with me on this Friday. I'm Ana Cabrera in for Brooke Baldwin. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.