Return to Transcripts main page
Russia Investigation - Prosecutors Implicate Trump in Two Crimes in 2016 Campaign; Mueller - Trump Tower Moscow Project Occurred As Russian Government Worked to Interfere in US Presidential Election; Democrats Jockeying for Position Ahead of 2020 Race; Man Who Killed Protester Faces Life in Prison; FBI: Hate Crimes Incidents Increase 17 Percent in 2017; 700-Plus Arrested as Violent Protests Rock Paris. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired December 8, 2018 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Hi, hello again everyone. Thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right, we start with major revelations in the Russia investigation. Federal prosecutors are implicating the president of the United States in two federal crimes during the 2016 presidential campaign. The stunning new memos give us an unprecedented look into the probe and say former Attorney and Fixer, Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Donald Trump when he committed campaign finance violations for hush-money payments to Adult Film Star, Stormy Daniels, and former Playboy Model, Karen McDougal.
But it doesn't stop there, Special Counsel Robert Mueller also believes the Trump Tower project in Moscow is relevant to Russia's 2016 meddling and it's not just a matter of Cohen lying about the timeline, all of this happening as Mueller says, former Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort lied about five major things including how long he stayed in touch with the White House officials after he was indicted; Mueller indicating communication was going on as recently as this year.
Let's get right to it, CNN Politics Reporter, Jeremy Herb on the president been implicated in two crimes now, what more can you tell us, Jeremy?
JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes Fred, that's right. You know, yesterday I think what we saw was one of the most revealing looks into the evidence that Mueller has gathered as part of this probe. You know, the most significant finding yesterday was as you said that Michael Cohen was directed by Trump when he committed crimes of paying -- making payments to women during the campaign so that they would not talk about their alleged affairs.
Trump now has tweeted that the filing yesterday clears him and he's tweeting again today about the witch hunt but it's clear from the filing that's from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan that Trump is in fact implicated. Justice Department has not accused them directly of a crime and he actually can't be indicted if you go by the DOJ guidance on -- because he is a sitting president but this is certainly a matter that isn't going away and it's something that Democrats are definitely going to be taking up when they take over the House next month.
Now in addition we learned yesterday about new contacts between Michael Cohen and members of -- and Russians that occurred during the early days of the Trump campaign, it's included a Russian who said he had ties to Moscow and offered political synergy to the Trump campaign. Now this was relevant because they were talking about the Trump Tower Moscow project, then those discussions went into 2015 and 2016 while the president -- while Mr. Trump was running for president and what we saw from Mueller yesterday that we hadn't seen previously was that he found it relevant to the question about meddling because the Russians were -- had to be involved in approving this Trump Tower project and it would have been a financial boom for the president had it been pursued.
Now Michael Cohen has been recommended a -- to have a substantial prison sentence by prosecutors in yesterday's filing after he had actually asked for no prison time. He's charged with financial crimes including tax fraud; he's charged with campaign finance violations tied to those payments to the women; and he's charged with lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project.
We'll see exactly how that shakes out, next month when Mr. Cohen is sentenced, Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Herb. Thank you so much.
So President Trump is declaring victory in all of this, the president tweeting this morning, "After two years and millions of pages of documents at a cost of over $30 million, no collusion."
Our White House Correspondent, Boris Sanchez, joining us now with more on the president's sentiments here, Boris?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there Fred, yes, President Trump taken to Twitter this morning as you noted to write that there was no collusion. Last night as Jeremy referred to it, he tweeted that these sentencing (ph) filings cleared him, that at the very least is inaccurate and incomplete, the White House essentially dismissing the implications that Jeremy outlined.
Sarah Sanders put out a statement yesterday, referring to all of these filings and specifically I wanted to refer to things that she said about Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. Here is what she said about the Cohen filing, quote, "The government's filings in Mr. Cohen's case tell us nothing of value that wasn't already known. Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero."
Of course, the question there is whether the White House is going to answer to the implication that the president directed Michael Cohen to commit felonies and campaigns -- and campaign-finance violations, further whether the president was actually aware that a Russian national had suggested to a coin that the Russian Federation was interested in a political synergy with the Trump campaign, no response in Sander's statement to that. Further in her response to the Manafort filing, she writes, quote, "The government's filing in Mr. Manafort's case says absolutely nothing about the president. It says even less about collusion and is devoted almost entirely to lobbying-related issues. Once again the media is trying to create a story where there isn't one."
One of the big keys to the story related to the Manafort filing is the revelation [12:05:14] that he was having conversations or communications I should say with a senior administration official as recently as May when he was under indictment, no answer yet from the White House as yet on that Fred.
We'll make sure to answer president before he departs for Philadelphia later today, as of course you know, he's heading to that Army-Navy game.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
Let's talk more about all of this, with me now is CNN Legal Analyst, Ross Garber; former Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign, Jack Kingston. Good to see you both.
So Ross, legally how worried should the president be despite Sarah Sander's statement there that you know, there's no collusion as best they can see (ph) but should the president be worried here?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So two things, one is, anytime you're that close to a criminal activity you should be concerned. You know, no one wants to be that close to it, no one wants to be accused of...
GARBER: ... you know, directing anybody to engage in criminal activity, that's the first (ph)...
WHITFIELD: So what...
GARBER: ... one (ph).
WHITFIELD: ... is his legal team (ph)...
WHITFIELD: ... likely doing?
GARBER: ... Well so second, I think his legal team is sort of sanguine in the notion that the Department of Justice has said that a sitting president can't be indicted so I think he's not particularly worried about being indicted.
On the other hand, his legal team is probably considering the political implications of this which is you know, really, I think what's going to matter hear most.
Jack, you're friends with Michael Cohen, right?
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN & CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
WHITFIELD: What's your reaction to this and you know, what he has revealed to you know, these investigators?
KINGSTON: Well unfortunately for Michael he's been all over the place in terms of what is statements are, what -- who did want and when did they do it, acting on behalf of the president as a non-campaign person and people have to remember that Michael Cohen was not part of the campaign, if he paid off these women under Trump's direction, yes, that's an issue but as I read this that he pay them off and he'd lied about it and it's a campaign violation, it's not a matter of collusion with the Russians.
As respects to the Russian...
WHITFIELD: But that's...
KINGSTON: ... officer...
WHITFIELD: ... separate?
KINGSTON: ... Well...
KINGSTON: ... so that...
WHITFIELD: ... Separate, I mean he paid...
KINGSTON: ... Absolutely.
WHITFIELD: ... them off at the direction of, now the sitting president but at the time you know, the Republican nominee...
WHITFIELD: ... so...
KINGSTON: ... remember...
Whitfield X that's where the campaign finance...
KINGSTON: ... but remember...
WHITFIELD: ... came in.
KINGSTON: ... that's according to Michael and he is not a credible witness at this point.
But the other part about the collusion was -- the report does say it, that this Russian operative reached out, a Russian nationalist and said that he could offer political synergy, whatever that is and it was not followed up on. And that's what the report says, it was not followed up on.
Now had he you know, pursued that...
WHITFIELD: But there was a...
KINGSTON: ... and said...
WHITFIELD: ... willingness to entertain it?
KINGSTON: ... but -- both nothing happened. But he did not follow up. But I think that if -- if it is shown later that "hey, you know, if we build the tower, we're going to help you counter -- there'll be a payoff or something," that would be a different game but really after two years, this is all we have, I think that the Mueller team must be extremely frustrated and disappointed with what they have.
WHITFIELD: So Ross, what are you hearing that?
GARBER: Yes, so Jack actually makes a couple of decent points. One is I do get a sense from the filings you know, from both Mueller and the SDNY that they are frustrated by lack of cooperation by some people they sought were key you know, notably Cohen and the SDNY in Manhattan and Manafort in Washington and Virginia. I think the special counsel is frustrated that those guys sort of can't give them the goods on Trump in certain respects.
You know, second, I think -- I think the filings were notable for their lack of allegations of conspiracy, actual conspiracy you know, with the Russians.
And then you know, Jack does make a point about the campaign finance violations. It's one thing you know, for Mr. Cohen to admit that he engaged in campaign finance violations, it's another thing to prove that the president...
GARBER: ... was authorizing, directing these payments for purpose...
GARBER: ... of a campaign contribution...
WHITFIELD: And these...
GARBER: ... so...
WHITFIELD: ... are...
GARBER: ... Jack has some fair points.
WHITFIELD: ... Yes. And this is information based on sentencing documents. This is not the whole kit and caboodle, this is just a very narrow scope... GARBER: Well that's...
WHITFIELD: ... of that process?
GARBER: ... right and...
KINGSTON: Let's (ph)...
GARBER: ... (inaudible)...
KINGSTON: ... let me tell you where Michael, but Michael -- you're a hundred percent right that there are political implications so if I'm Adam Schiff or Jerry Nadler and I could maybe you know, hit the president up on something on his taxes or some other thing that comes from the investigation, this helps undermine the administration so absolutely I think you're correct that there are political implications from it.
WHITFIELD: OK. So Ross, one more?
GARBER: Yes, no. For sure. So you know, couple of things I think to look for: one, is that Michael Cohen sentencing is coming up and you know, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get less than the 3 1/2 years that the government is asking...
GARBER: ... for. That's a lot of time in a white-collar criminal case for a first-time offender. You know, for these kinds of allegations you know, issues of lying to the government, Congress, you know, [12:10:14] tax evasion and making a -- you know, false...
WHITFIELD: For potentially...
GARBER: ... statements (inaudible)...
WHITFIELD: ... impacting a...
GARBER: ... (inaudible) lawsuit...
WHITFIELD: ... presidential election? That's not a -- that's...
GARBER: ... Yes.
WHITFIELD: ... nothing to sneeze at.
GARBER: It is nothing to sneeze at but again you know, let's -- you know let's -- let's see what the judge does with this. I -- I'm just giving you, you know, sort of my take, straight up.
GARBER: I think the judge is going to consider this serious but perhaps not give Mr. Cohen the 3 1/2 years that the government wants.
But second, I think the next thing to look for is you know, sort of Mueller's next steps...
GARBER: ... you know, what comes next from him and then the political implications.
We're just a few weeks away...
GARBER: ... from the Democrats taking control...
GARBER: ... of the House and I think we'll see activity there.
And so Jack you know, how worried do you believe the president should be? Do you believe that his you know, response to this more -- this morning you know, via tweet or a bit cavalier or is that just simply masking...
KINGSTON: But you know, (ph)...
WHITFIELD: ... that he has reason to be very concerned?
KINGSTON: I don't think -- I don't think so because I just don't think that Michael Cohen is a guy -- and there was eight pages of criticisms in the Southern District of New York's analysis on why he should have a maximum prison sentence because they said he over claimed his access to the presidency, he over claimed his importance and he was trying to monetize on his relationship to the campaign and the Trump family; I mean there were very scathing of Michael Cohen.
And so I just don't think that he's going to be a credible witness against him. The [AUDIO GAP] even if there was anything like a memo that said [AUDIO GAP] payoff [AUDIO GAP] Stormy Daniels [AUDIO GAP] Karen McDougal, I think that we would know that my now.
Furthermore, I think we would also know that yes, they did follow up with this -- Russian nationalist who did promise some kind of quid pro quo on if you build a tower here...
KINGSTON: ... and if you give a top -- penthouse suite to Putin then we're going to do the following for you through WikiLeaks or some other thing and...
KINGSTON: ... you know, really after 2 1/2 years or two years I believe we would know something...
WHITFIELD: Yes. KINGSTON: ... if Mueller had...
WHITFIELD: But these...
KINGSTON: ... that evidence.
WHITFIELD: ... are two big things, I mean Ross, when you're talking about you know, campaign finance you know, violations, that's one; and then you're talking about the -- a probe that focuses on a campaign, an American campaign...
WHITFIELD: ... working with a -- an adversarial foreign country. I mean these are very serious you know, matters so how does [AUDIO GAP] all of the lying that has been [AUDIO GAP] clearly you know, any Russia [AUDIO GAP] actions and you know, and this -- will this investigation get to the core of you know, why, what's with all these dealings of Russia, you can't (ph) strictly or is it only about some kind of a business opportunity that could've been a Trump Tower Moscow?
GARBER: Look, that is a big question, I think. You know, I think we're all looking for the answer to that.
I do think that you know, this notion of lying or I think as the president has called it "truthful hyperbole," I think that is going to be a problem for the president and honestly, I found his sort of communication's strategy in a way inexplicable. You know, I think his tweets while you know clearly directed to his base, that makes sense, I think they don't make much sense -- I think it is -- it is a terrible idea to have Sarah Sanders, a government employee, commenting about these personal issues.
And I think overall, I really do think he probably needs a legal [AUDIO GAP] I'm not getting (inaudible)...
WHITFIELD: But what...
GARBER: ... (inaudible).
WHITFIELD: ... do you listen (ph) (inaudible) [AUDIO GAP] (inaudible) a lot of advisors...
WHITFIELD: ... or strategists...
WHITFIELD: ... et cetera...
GARBER: For sure.
WHITFIELD: ... there are many examples of people saying they advise or you know, against or for something but he's -- the president is still doing his own thing, Jack?
KINGSTON: Yes. I don't think the president would take counsel of somebody -- he loves to talk directly to the American people and you know, the interesting thing and I can say this, all through the campaign, anytime you second guessed where the president was going with his communication, it turned out he knew exactly what he was up to but you know, I will say that this only get back to something Ross pointed out that when it comes to Paul Manafort, there's so many questions because there were so many deals (ph) and one of the questions, a lot of the information redacted and so we don't really know but it was a -- it involved a hundred and twenty-five thousand- dollar wire transfer to a firm who -- whom he is employed. Now the assumption could be that that's Tony Podesta's firm and it would appear that some of the redacted information may be going after the Uranium One question because when it -- when it comes to influencing the election, which is the central question, is it not possible that they were also trying to influence through the back door the Hillary Clinton campaign and I think that most people in fair-minded way said absolutely.
And perhaps the Mueller team is looking at some of that stuff (inaudible)...
WHITFIELD: All right.
KINGSTON: ... (inaudible).
WHITFIELD: Well except we (ph) -- we [12:15:14] don't know any of that yet.
KINGSTON: Yes. It's...
WHITFIELD: You know, again...
KINGSTON: ... it's all redacted.
WHITFIELD: ... these were you know, sentencing documents and a lot redacted so still a lot of unanswered questions.
All right, thanks so much, Jack Kingston, Ross Garber. Good to see you both.
KINGSTON: Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Thank you.
All right. The other big player in this, filings released yesterday, Paul Manafort, the Special Counsel's Office saying he lied to them on multiple occasions, this made (ph) a stunning revelation that he has been in contact with members of the Trump administration this year [12:15:38].
[12:19:49] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Filings on Paul Manafort revealed significant amounts of lying. Special Counsel Robert Mueller says President Trump's former campaign chairman lied on five separate matters, after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors including Manafort lying about, not having contact with senior Trump officials.
Here is CNN Senior White House Correspondent, Pamela Brown.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Mueller's team [12:20:14] outlined in a heavily-redacted filing, how they believe and why they believe Paul Manafort lied in quote, "multiple ways and on multiple occasions." Manafort they say, lied to the Special Counsel's Office regarding his contact with the Trump administration this year even after his indictment last October, he said he didn't talk to anyone in the administration or conveyed messages to them.
But Mueller says that's not true, his team says Manafort told a person that talked to the Trump administration officials just this past May, and had contacts with administration officials, including a senior administration official in February and May of this year and so this new and damaging information for the White House comes at a time when every move by Mueller appears to bring his investigation deeper into the White House, and Trump's inner circle and it shows it has expanded well beyond what may or may not have happened in the 2016 campaign.
So these revelations in Mueller's filings certainly raises questions about why Paul Manafort may have been lying about these contacts and who the contacts were made with.
Now Sarah Sanders the Press Secretary released a statement in response to this saying that it has nothing to do with the president and that the media is making up a story.
Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks, so much Pam.
All right, these filings are the first time, prosecutors have laid out why and how they believe Manafort breached his plea agreement.
Let's bring in former Federal Prosecutor, Renato Mariotti. Good to see you Renato.
So Mueller says Manafort lied about five key issues including the big one, being Manafort's contact with the White House so what should we make of that, that he potentially did talk to White House officials?
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & PARTNER AT THOMPSON COBURN LLP: It's really unusual that [AUDIO GAP] Trump administration were speaking and communicating with Paul Manafort directly after he had been indicted in two separate jurisdictions, with very, very serious crimes.
And so you know, typically if there was any communication that Manafort wanted to have with folks in the Trump administration, the way you would expect that to happen would be for Manafort to talk to his lawyers, and for his lawyers to communicate with Trump's lawyers, which frankly...
MARIOTTI: ... they were doing on a very regular basis. You know, this way there would be some level of privilege that would be involved, you know, that the government wouldn't be monitoring that, so why the heck was Paul Manafort deciding to go around his lawyers and communicate directly with people in the administration and why did they think that it was a good idea for them to be communicating with a man who was facing a you know, potentially a lifetime, the rest of his life in prison.
MARIOTTI: And [AUDIO GAP] the thing is there must have been some subjects that Manafort did not want discuss with his lawyers and it will be very interesting to see ultimately what those subjects were.
WHITFIELD: So from the White House we're not sure who, you know, who those players are. You mentioned you know, if they were White House attorneys, we -- you know, but what's your feeling as to the players that would be in the White House, whether it was the attorneys, whether they were advisors, et cetera and what their feelings is about accepting a call or reaching out to Manafort whichever way it went, having that dialogue, what does that say about them?
MARIOTTI: It suggests to me that they have some interest in what Man -- the outcome of Manafort's case is. In other words, either those people were involved in the activities that Manafort is under investigation for or they are people who could be embarrassed if Manafort didn't lie or hide something. They were there people who themselves have an interest in what Manafort was going to say but...
WHITFIELD: So what...
MARIOTTI: ... because you...
WHITFIELD: ... that be...
MARIOTTI: ... have to -- Yes [AUDIO GAP]
WHITFIELD: ... (inaudible).
Mariotti. No. That's OK. [AUDIO GAP] (inaudible). That would be you know, people who Manafort was close with or...
MARIOTTI: ... was working with on some of these activities so I you know I don't know exactly who those individuals are but what I would say is you know, if you're getting a call from somebody who you're watching in the nightly news, is facing you know, decades of his life in prison, you're not going to take that call and have those conversations when you know, it could be monitored, when you're a public official, unless you're highly motivated to do so. And Paul Manafort was putting himself out there and you know, the -- I think and one obvious potential implication could be that Manafort was lying or hiding about things and wanted to coordinate those lies or make sure people knew so he got credit...
MARIOTTI: ... for keeping the -- keeping (ph) secrets.
WHITFIELD: Yes. So -- because if you're in the White House, wouldn't you be worried about any further inference of overreach or obstruction of justice, if you're talking to you know, a witness, in a case, wouldn't [AUDIO GAP] now that opens you up [AUDIO GAP] for another charge?
MARIOTTI: Well for [12:25:14] sure, -- yes, of course. It's always dangerous to be talking to somebody who is the subject of a federal investigation, there's...
MARIOTTI: ... always -- but you have to be careful about doing that and how you do it and what you say.
And on top of that you know, although it's gone back and forth at least for you know, a lot of times this year, Paul Manafort was somebody that the White House was saying, wasn't that involved with Trump, didn't you know, trying to distance...
MARIOTTI: ... him from...
WHITFIELD: Yes. He wasn't...
MARIOTTI: ... the president...
WHITFIELD: ... with the campaign...
MARIOTTI: ... so...
WHITFIELD: ... very long.
MARIOTTI: ... Right. So why the heck are you -- are you reaching out to this guy and having direct conversations with him when he's facing very serious felony charges.
I will note this is literally a month before Manafort was charged with conspiring with a Russian operative to obstruct justice and temper...
MARIOTTI: ... with witnesses.
WHITFIELD: So Renato you tweeted this today, "In prior eras if the Justice Department wrote in a public filing that the president of the United States directed someone to commit a serious crime, that could mean the end of that administration.? Tomorrow will any congressional Republicans have the integrity to do anything so do you think congressional Republicans will say anything because right now, radio silence?
MARIOTTI: Yes. One thing that is really interesting to me Fredricka is you know, on the -- a lot of Trump's allies are so divorced from reality as to what's going on, that it really boggles my mind as an American, and as somebody who was in law enforcement.
You know, here you have federal prosecutors, you know, employees of the Justice Department, saying to a federal judge they believe the United -- the president of the United States directed someone else to commit felony crimes, that a person is going to prison for doing what Donald Trump directed...
MARIOTTI: ... them...
WHITFIELD: ... them...
MARIOTTI: ... to do.
WHITFIELD: ... to do.
MARIOTTI: Yes. And you know, not just like asking, you know, he asked somebody on the street but he asked his subordinate, essentially a man who was working for him to do it, and there's no condemnation, there's no concern, there's no talk of an investigation by the United States Congress, at least by congressional Republicans, to me that's...
MARIOTTI: ... disappointing as an American.
WHITFIELD: It should trouble everybody. It should trouble everybody.
All right, Renato Mariotti. Thank you so much.
MARIOTTI: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, with the midterm's past, Democrats are looking forward to the 2020 presidential race and the field is shaping up to be a crowded one, how some of the biggest names in the party are already positioning themselves for a potential run. Next [12:27:49].
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:30:14]
[12:32:12] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back.
The list of Democrats looking to challenge President Trump in 2020 is a long one. But this week, that list shortened by two. Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti announced he will not run for president out of respect for his family. And former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is also pulling out of the race, noting, quote, the cruelty of our elections process.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is still debating, throwing his hat into the ring. Earlier this week, he said he is, quote, the most qualified person in the country to be president.
Joining me right now is CNN Political Reporter Rebecca Buck. I got to get used to that, formerly known as Rebecca Berg. OK, congratulations to you on Buck now.
All right, so with this long list of Democrats, will we see similar infighting as we did with Republicans in 2016? Remember, they were like 17, right, candidates in the, you know, in the primary races.
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. And we could see even more Democrats than that this time around. Of course, there's a long road ahead still and a lot of people need to make their decisions in the next few months about whether they're going around to run for president. But it is likely to be a very crowded field indeed.
And so that complicates a lot of the mechanics of running for president. If you're a lower tier candidate, it becomes a challenge to break through the noise to raise your name ID to get your message out there. And of course the debates become very challenging as well. How do you get all of these candidates on a stage and give them a chance to debate and get their message out there. These are some of the things that are going to be worked out over the next few months of course.
But as you mentioned, there will be some fighting that comes along with that as well. And one of the challenges for these Democrats is going to be who do they focus their attacks on? When did they decide to turn negative? Right now, it's all very positive. Democrats talking about their own positive traits and their vision for America. But at some point, things will get very competitive and take a turn and they'll have to make a decision when do they start going after some of the top tier candidates.
WHITFIELD: And then while there's been so much speculation about, you know, who's running, who won't, et cetera, you know, Senator Elizabeth Warren for a long time, it has been, you know, kind of conventional wisdom that she would be someone who would throw her hat into the ring. But the controversial swirling around that DNA test aimed at proving her Native American heritage, you know, really could be an issue according to the New York Times. She has told advisers that she is concerned that she may have damaged relationships with Native American groups.
Is that the case?
BUCK: Well, it's too early to know what the long-term effect of this is going to be. It could be that this does dog her for the campaign, and obviously that's the worst case scenario for Elizabeth Warren. But her team and Elizabeth Warren believed that this was going to be a vulnerability for them.
[12:35:02] And that's why they tried to get this out of the way and address this issue as soon as possible, earlier, rather than later before she had officially announced herself as a presidential candidate.
But this could be also an important wake-up call for her team. Clearly, the response to this test has not been sort of a best case scenario for Elizabeth Warren and her would be campaign, her possible campaign. And so this could be a moment for them to say, OK, maybe this wasn't the best strategy, what can we change about our approach, what can we recalibrate in the next few months because there is still a very long road ahead in this campaign. They have plenty of time to recover from this, to change the direction, to change their course, and to sort of reset.
And so, it's almost a blessing in disguise perhaps for their campaign that it happened right now as opposed to later on. So it could be a good thing ultimately.
WHITFIELD: All right, Rebecca Buck, thank you so much.
BUCK: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: It had a nice ring I must say. Rebecca Buck.
BUCK: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right.
All right. And we'll be right back.
[12:40:30] WHITFIELD: The man who intentionally drove his car into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last year has been convicted of first degree murder. James Fields could be sentenced to life in prison for the death of Heather Heyer.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung has more.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- was self-professed neo-Nazi who barreled his car into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia was convicted Friday of first degree murder and all other charges brought against him.
TANESHA HUDSON, LOCAL ACTIVIST: I think every last one of those jurors were doing what they needed to do. They make those -- they make the choice to -- we don't stand for this type of hate at all.
HARTUNG (voice-over): A jury took just over seven hours of deliberation to find James Alex Fields Jr. guilty of Heather Heyer's murder, eight counts of malicious wounding, and one count of failing to stop at an accident involving a death. He faces a possible life sentence in prison.
Through a week of testimony, prosecutors and defense attorneys focused on Fields' intent. The commonwealth argued that Fields was unprovoked and acted with the intent to harm counter protesters. When he idly watched the crowd before him, backed up his dodge challenger, then raced it down the street reaching 28 miles-per-hour before crashing and fleeing the scene.
The defense didn't deny he drove the car but said he was in a state of panic and acted in self-defense. A jailhouse phone call from Fields to his mother recorded in March was played in court. In it, Fields said that he was defending himself from a violent mob of terrorists. But those calls revealed more about Fields.
Bill Burke was one of the 35 people injured in the attack.
BILL ADMINISTRATOR, COUNTERDEMONSTRATOR IN CHARLOTTESVILLE: The most chilling pieces were to me were the jailhouse phone calls to his mom. And you just could see the way he was talking to his mother and the way he called Heather's mom, Susan an anti-white communist and called us all terrorists and said we were the enemy and it was no big deal that, you know, Heather had died because she's the enemy. And, you know, that just tells me everything I need to know about what kind of person he is.
HARTUNG (voice-over): On August 12, 2017, Burke and Heather Heyer were among those demonstrating against the Unite to Right rally, a so- called alt-right activists chanting slogans, some carrying guns and flags with swastikas and confederate emblems marched on this college town. Fields drove more than 500 miles from Ohio to participate. His attack turned an already bloody, violent, and hate-filled day deadly.
There was widespread anger and outrage.
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.
HARTUNG (voice-over): Then --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there's blame on both sides.
HARTUNG (voice-over): President Trump's refusal to condemn the racist attack and its immediate aftermath further inflamed the national conversation.
HUDSON: Just because he was found guilty, this is not over. This is not over. This is just the start to let people know, don't think that you can come here and do this type of stuff and get away with it because we're not having it.
HARTUNG (voice-over): Kaylee Hartung, CNN.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: And for the third year in a row, the number of hate crimes reported to the FBI has increased. Last year, they jumped by 17 percent. But despite the reported increase, many incidents including some of the more horrific are missing. It includes the attack in Charlottesville. Police there did not report any hate crimes between July and September of last year even though the attack happened in August.
Joining me right now to discuss is Jonathan Wackrow, a CNN law enforcement analyst who worked as a Secret Service a gent under President Obama. Good to see you, Jonathan.
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Hey, thank you for having me.
WHITFIELD: So the Charlottesville attack was committed by a white nationalist. So, you know, why leave it out as a hate crime?
WACKROW: Well, listen, first of all, we have to look at as -- you know, for this individual and other individuals that are engaged in, you know, hate crime, and, you know, hate-based violence is from the individual standpoint, what is their means, opportunity, and intent to cause harm? And I think in this instant, you know, through the investigative process and through the trial, what we saw with, you know, Mr. Fields was that he hit the trifecta.
You know, he had the means to cause harm at this protest. He had the opportunity because he was physically there. And his intent which is often the most, you know, difficult for law enforcement and a jury to actually understand in this instance, his intent was clear, his intent was to go there and harm people.
[12:45:07] And by looking at statements made prior to the attack, after the attack and his, you know, sense of measured calm if you will in the moments that proceeded him driving this vehicle into the crowd, really led to, you know, a different, you know, pathway from his narrative which was, he was in fear. He wasn't in fear. He actually had the intent to cause harm here.
WHITFIELD: And so while Fields was convicted, you know, of murder, do you expect, you know, that hate crime charges on a federal level will come?
WACKROW: Absolutely. I mean, I don't understand how they couldn't. You know, the statistic you showed before, the FBI had released, you know, statistics from 2017 showing a rise in hate crimes. That's bad.
But what's actually worse is, you know, you have to look at it from the totality of the data. Nationally, violent crime is on the decrease. So what we're seeing is an opposite trend here, we're seeing hate crime increase. And this is something that communities, you know, from local law enforcement, you know, state entities and federal entities, all have to, you know, collectively address why is this trend going up.
WHITFIELD: Hate crimes, you know, remain vastly underreported. Only about 12 to 13 percent of agencies in the FBI report indicated that hate crimes actually happened in their jurisdiction. So what is discouraging police departments and other agencies from reporting these types of crimes as hate crimes?
WACKROW: Well, it's not just the law enforcement, it's the communities as a whole. Listen, this comes down to awareness, Fred, awareness about what is exactly a hate crime. How do I report it? A lot of these things don't even get reported to the police department because people in the communities don't even know how to, you know, the pathway to make reporting about hate crime.
So, this is -- you know, when we talk about hate crime, hate-based violence, this is a shared fate of the community, right? The community has to come together and bring awareness to one of the root causes of hate in our society and how do we prevent these actions from, you know, percolating over time to the point where they transcend from just a narrative to actually physical action like we saw in Charlottesville.
WHITFIELD: And so what do you believe may be fueling, you know, a rise of hate crimes?
WACKROW: Listen, there's not one single thing that we can point to. There's a lot of different trade factors that are coming in that fuel the narrative around hate broadly around the United States. You know, it can be the, you know, anonymous, you know, profiles on social media that are able to, you know, distribute hate broadly without attribution. It's, you know, a sense of loneliness by individuals seeking different groups to join, centered around, you know, hate based.
So, there's a lot of different things that both community leadership, corporate leaders, and law enforcement have to collectively look at. And again, hate in one area, it does not transcend to hate in another area. So, these are really issues that can be -- spoke to a specific region in the United States. So it is a community-based problem that's going to have a community-based solution.
WHITFIELD: All right, Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much.
WACKROW: Thanks a lot, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, unrest in Paris. Thousands take to the streets to protest what they call the high cost of living. Police using tear gas and water cannons to control the massive crowds. A live report from Paris, next.
[12:52:53] WHITFIELD: Violent protests against the French Government erupting in Paris again today as demonstrators attack stores and businesses along the famous Champs Elysees.
Riot police responded with force. Firing off tear gas and arresting at least 550 protesters. Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is in Paris for us. So Ben, why does there remain, you know, so much anger that's being unleashed now?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me first tell you that the number of people detained in the protest today is 737 at this point. Fifty-five people wounded including three members of the French Security Forces. Now, why are these protests still ongoing even though earlier this week the prime minister cancelled this fuel tax that sparked the protest in the beginning? Well, it's a variety of explanations. One is that people feel that Macron, who is a 40-year-old former investment banker, really just doesn't understand the difficulty of life in France at the moment.
Now, one of the reasons why many young people are here is that there's been a change in the rules for the final exam in high school which make it much more difficult for people to get into university. But it has been another very violent day here in Paris. Just beneath us you can see some of the canisters of tear gas that were used. But now the situation seems to have calmed down.
This is the Champs Elysees now. It's clear. Most of the protesters have gone home. The people you see in front of me are fellow journalists. We saw some of the last protesters going off on a side street quite peacefully, in fact.
And for the last 25 minutes or so, we have not heard the echo of tear gas which was almost a constant sound for most of the day.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ben Wedeman, thank you so much from Paris. We'll check back with you.
And we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, the time when we honor some of the best humanity has to offer, CNN heroes. And we can't wait to see who gets top honor this year.
Join Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa as they announce the 2018 CNN Hero of the Year, live tomorrow, 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
All right, hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.