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Interview with Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Elie Honig; President Trump To Announce Juan Guaido is Legitimate President of Venezuela; Interview with Mayor of San Diego; Phoenix Chief of Police Announces Arrest of Suspect in Vegetative Rape; Mayor Pete Buttigieg to Enter 2020 Race. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired January 23, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: So, I mean, a couple -- a lot of things unusual about this case, right?
ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Yes.
SCIUTTO: I mean, first of all, missing a deadline, don't know how significant that is. Is it?
HONIG: It's not a smart idea by lawyers. It is possible that they first filed under seal to the judge.
SCIUTTO: I see.
HONIG: The judge may be in the process of reviewing and redacting, and then we may see it later today.
HONIG: So I think it's unlikely, they just blew off the deadline. Although I've seen it happen.
SCIUTTO: I mean, other thing here is, what's unusual is picking the fight, as you've explained, with the Special Counsel over a plea agreement that he made and signed onto willingly.
But then challenged whether he had lied about it, but then stopped challenging it.
SCIUTTO: Explain to folks how this went down.
HONIG: People should understand how unusual this is. A lot of what we've seen in the Mueller case is sort of what you see in a normal criminal case.
I've dealt with dozens of cooperators. I've never seen one who lies -- certainly they lie, but then that's it -- who got caught lying, then contested it, then when the judge said, "I want to see the proof," the proof came out. And then when the judge said, "We'll have a hearing," the cooperator said, "No. No, thanks." I mean, it's so obvious that Manafort isn't willing to sort of put --
you know, put his proof behind him. And his lawyers are leading him down this path. He just keeps digging the hole deeper and deeper for himself.
I don't know what his ultimate end game is. I have a theory that he may just be playing for a pardon.
SCIUTTO: That's interesting.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: That's a theory.
HONIG: So, here's the thing. He's about to turn 70 years old. He's looking at a sentence, conservatively, 8, 10, 12 years. I don't think --
HONIG: -- he's willing to do that time, and I think the theory may be, "Let's just cause trouble. Let's just be difficult for Mueller, and maybe that will appeal to Trump somehow."
HARLOW: Huh. All right.
Let me get you on something else that broke, you know, in the last 24 hours. It's really interesting. And that is that Bob Mueller wants answers on the NRA. And any ties that the Trump campaign may have had to the NRA.
Obviously, Maria Butina ties into this, right? Using the NRA to, you know, allegedly to be a Russian spy and to push her interests and Russia's interests.
But I think you noted in the last hour that Trump was not asked about the NRA, in the --
HARLOW: -- written questions?
SCIUTTO: At least not in the written questions. Yes.
HONIG: Right. I think Mueller is probably looking at the NRA as a conduit, two kinds of conduits. One, for political influence. And that's what we saw in the Butina case, right?
Butina and the Russian officials she worked for calculated that the NRA has a lot of influence, correctly, in American politics, particularly with the Republican Party.
And so they used Butina as a spy, an unregistered foreign agent. And she used, with some success, the NRA as a vehicle to get access to powerful policymakers.
And so I think there's probably questions about, was that done on a more broad scale? Were there other people doing this? Was the NRA similarly exploited in order to gain influence with the Trump campaign and administration?
And there's also a possibility that it was used as -- as a vehicle to funnel or conduit money, right?
SCIUTTO: Well --
HONIG: A lot of money changes hands, $30 million, from the NRA to the Trump campaign. Where does that come from? Is it being used to circumvent campaign laws?
SCIUTTO: That would be remarkable, if corroborated.
SCIUTTO: Elie Honig, thanks --
SCIUTTO: -- very much.
HONIG: Thank you (ph).
HARLOW: We appreciate it.
We do have some really important news, just in to us. It has to do with President Trump and the news that he is expected to recognize Venezuela's opposition leader -- not President Maduro, opposition leader -- as the nation's president.
SCIUTTO: That's right. Not the elected --
SCIUTTO: -- president of that country. Boris Sanchez is at the White House.
So, Boris, what's behind this decision?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Jim and Poppy. Yes, sources were telling my colleague Jeremy Diamond and I that President Trump is expected to announce that Juan Guaido, head of the National Assembly in Venezuela, is the legitimate president of that country as soon as he takes the oath of office.
That move could potentially come as soon as today. Recently, we've heard the administration take escalating measures, escalating rhetoric against socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro.
And this would certainly exacerbate the situation in Venezuela. Massive protests are expected today, and this step is one of a number of options that are being considered at this point.
It comes after a meeting here at the White House yesterday with a delegation of Florida lawmakers, including Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, along with Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, where they urged the president to move forward on this.
Sources indicating that the move would likely come, not necessarily in coordination but likely as other regional allies move in that direction, as we're (ph) to declare -- in that direction as well, I should say, to declare Guaido the actual leader of Venezuela.
We are told that the White House is considering all options on this by a spokesperson on the National Security Council. Those moves could include a potential full-fledged ban on Venezuelan oil, something that the administration previously considered last year, but ultimately decided not to move forward with.
I also asked the White House if they had considered adding Venezuela to a list of state sponsors of terror, something that several lawmakers have already requested. They said that all options are still on the table. They would not commit to that idea -- Jim and Poppy.
[10:34:57] HARLOW: And, Boris, just before you go, I mean, that -- if they were to go with an all-out ban on Venezuelan oil, that'd be a really big deal. Because I think some analysis I read said gas prices in the U.S. could rise 15 cents a gallon if that happens.
That's not -- you know, the president wouldn't like to see that. I mean, is --
SCIUTTO: The figure's about 10 percent of U.S. imports, if that's still the case --
HARLOW: Right? It's big.
SCIUTTO: -- but it's a significant supplier, is it not, of oil to the U.S.?
HARLOW: And are they -- is that what they're weighing now, the economic impact?
SANCHEZ: Yes, potentially. This has been an option that has been on the table for some time.
It's a quite interesting dynamic in the relationship between Venezuela and the United States, dating back to former socialist dictator Hugo Chavez, where you had both sides, you know, saying very mean things about each other but still dealing oil between the two.
Obviously, it would have enormous ramifications for the U.S. oil market, which is part of the reason, ultimately, that option was abandoned previously.
It's not clear that they're ready to move in that direction again, but I do want to point out, last night during a speech, Maduro did say that his administration would be revisiting the relationship between the United States and Venezuela, but it's unclear exactly what that means at this point.
By essentially declaring that Juan Guaido is the real leader of Venezuela, the United States will watch a constitutional crisis unfold in that country, with potentially devastating ramifications for a country that's already ravaged by poverty and strife -- Jim and Poppy.
SCIUTTO: Yes, the scenes from there are just horrific. Boris Sanchez at the White House, thanks very much.
HARLOW: Thanks very much.
SCIUTTO: President Trump has said, over and over again, that walls work. Up next, we'll speak to the mayor of San Diego. How does the border wall work in his city?
[10:41:13] SCIUTTO: President Trump, standing firm on his push for a border wall on day 33 of the partial government shutdown. Just this week, he cited the city of San Diego, saying that city even urged construction of new walls there.
TEXT: If Nancy Pelosi thinks that Walls are "immoral," why isn't she requesting that we take down all of the existing Walls between the U.S. and Mexico, even the new ones just built in San Diego at their very strong urging. Let millions of unchecked "strangers" just flow into the U.S.
HARLOW: Is that factual? Does San Diego need a new wall? Would that stop all of the crime issues? San Diego's mayor, Kevin Faulconer, joins us live.
Nice to have you.
MAYOR KEVIN FAULCONER, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: Poppy, good morning. Thank you for having me.
HARLOW: I think it's important our viewers know you are a Republican and you do support border security.
Do you need a new wall along the San Diego border with Mexico?
FAULCONER: Well, we've had border fencing as part of San Diego for decades.
FAULCONER: And, you know -- and, Poppy, you just talked about security. Just this last year, we were named the safest big city in America. We're proud of that. And I'm proud of our relationship with our neighbors right next door in Mexico.
You know, I don't -- I don't talk about building walls, I talk about building bridges and increasing that communication, increasing that flow --
FAULCONER: -- and that's really what defines our border region in San Diego.
HARLOW: We ask because the president just tweeted this week, quote, "much-wanted wall in San Diego already started." Just really quick point of fact, is that true?
FAULCONER: Well, I think they continue to see changes in the border infrastructure, whether it's the existing fencing. I'll certainly let the president speak for himself.
But, again, when we look at our relationship with Mexico -- and I'm here in Washington for the -- for the Mayors' Conference this week, we're going to be talking about the importance of increasing that trade.
Increasing -- you know, in San Diego it's $60 billion a year. That's incredibly important. And so, you know, my message remains very clear. We need to increase those opportunities for trade, for cross- border communication --
FAULCONER: -- and cooperation, and that's something we're very proud of in San Diego.
SCIUTTO: Fair point. But as you know, the government is shut down today --
SCIUTTO: -- it has been for 33 days because the president is saying he's not going to have any negotiation until he has money to build that border wall. He's called it a crisis. There's discussion of him declaring a national emergency.
You are on the front lines, as it were, here. Is it a national emergency?
FAULCONER: Look, the government needs to open. And, you know, in particular we're talking about, you know, the Coast Guard is just one example.
FAULCONER: These men and women in San Diego, we have 700-strong. We're proud of that. We're a Coast Guard city. They're out protecting us. And the fact that they are not getting their paychecks makes no sense at all. SCIUTTO: Fair point, but --
FAULCONER: We need -- we need the government to open, and the federal government needs to do its job.
SCIUTTO: But I'm asking you, is the president being truthful to the American people, that this is a national emergency? After all, this is a president who has deployed thousands of U.S. active military on the border, stating that there's a crisis, that there's an invasion.
You live and -- you're the mayor --
SCIUTTO: -- of San Diego. Is there an invasion? Is there an emergency?
FAULCONER: Look, we have a -- we have a great positive relationship with Mexico. I've -- you know, we have the Mexican, Tijuana mayor crosses into San Diego and we talk all the time, and vice versa.
It's about neighbors working together. And that's my very clear message about a binational region that works, that's a competitive advantage. That's a strength.
Not only for San Diego and California, but for our country. And why it's particularly important that we get the USMCA, the new trade agreement, across the finish line here. That's a benefit for everyone.
HARLOW: So talking about trade, obviously it's really important to San Diego's economy that that border remain open --
HARLOW: -- ports of entry, et cetera.
HARLOW: The president said as recently as December that he would close the southern border, quote, "entirely" if he didn't get wall funding.
You experienced a situation where the border with Tijuana was closed for six hours for some reason --
[10:45:04] FAULCONER: Yes.
HARLOW: -- and you said the economic impact just to San Diego was $5 million.
FAULCONER: Yes, it --
HARLOW: So what would the economic impact be, you know, for prolonged closure of the border? FAULCONER: Well, look, it would be devastating. Very clearly, we
need a safe and secure and open border, for that flow of trade and commerce. This is not just for San Diego, but for California and the country.
You know, we've been -- I've been pushing for investments in more personnel, more -- you know, the infrastructure itself at the border. We're the largest land port of entry crossing in North America, over 100,000 people every day.
We're actually looking at making another border crossing at Otay Mesa, with smart secure technology. That's what we need to be doing, is opening that up, building bridges.
Free trade works. We're a great binational border region of that example. And, Jim and Poppy, that's -- it's a story of success. And, you know, if we're not sharing our story of success, nobody's going to share it for us.
HARLOW: I'm glad it's been a story of success, and I'm glad you're here, talking about this with us.
HARLOW: You're welcome any time.
SCIUTTO: And, listen, you're talking about --
FAULCONER: Well, thank you.
SCIUTTO: -- away -- you're talking about it in a way that it's, frankly, not being talked about in Washington right now.
FAULCONER: Well, look, I feel strongly, I feel passionately about this. And this --
FAULCONER: -- is not a partisan issue, by the way. This is about doing the right thing.
HARLOW: Wow. It's been all partisan, as far as we've seen for the last 33 days. We wish you luck.
FAULCONER: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
SCIUTTO: Mayor Faulconer, thanks very much.
SCIUTTO: Good to have you. Coming up, a breaking update on a disturbing case. A woman in a
vegetative state -- I'm sure you read about this -- was raped in a care facility. That woman gave birth to a baby boy.
Now police are announcing an arrest. We're going to have that for you right after this break.
[10:51:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN, the most-trusted name in news.
HARLOW: Breaking news on a very disturbing story out of Phoenix, Arizona. Police have arrested a man that they believe sexually assaulted a woman who was in a vegetative state. This woman later gave birth to a baby boy.
SCIUTTO: And a vegetative state for years.
SCIUTTO: Martin Savidge joins us now with the breaking details.
Martin, was it a DNA match in the end?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the end, that's what it came down to, as well as some good police work, here. Good morning to the both of you.
This is case that, of course, had shocked and horrified an entire nation. It had become a near obsession for the Phoenix police department, to find out who was responsible.
And the chief of police, Jeri Williams, announced that just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF OF POLICE JERI WILLIAMS, PHOENIX, ARIZONA: Through a combination of good old-fashioned police work, combing through evidence, talking to people, following up on information, combined with the marvels of DNA technology, we are able to identify and develop probable cause to arrest a suspect.
And at this time, I am announcing the arrest of the suspect we believe who was responsible. He is 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Now, Nathan Sutherland is a licensed nurse in that facility. That is the Hacienda Medical Facility where this woman had been for long-term care.
TEXT: Sexual Assault Suspect Nathan Sutherland; Licensed Practical Nurse at Hacienda HealthCare; Charged with 1 count of sexual assault, 1 count of vulnerable adult abuse; Police: DNA matched that of victim's newborn
SAVIDGE: And now, it turns out that he was directly involved with her health care, meaning the victim here in this case. And of course, as you point out, it was DNA that seems to be the primary way that they're going to make proof here.
They said that DNA here was collected from all the male employees at that facility, but of course it was Sutherland's that matched with the baby, here.
But they didn't just stop at DNA. They also checked out the rounds records. In other words, who would have been with that patient, at what times and for how long. And that's what the police chief is referring to as far as good old-fashioned law enforcement work here.
Sutherland has been taken into custody. He is, right now, using his Fifth Amendment so investigators say he has not cooperated, not talked to them ever since they have taken him into custody.
He's been at that facility since 2011. And investigators say that this investigation is still continuing. We'll wait to hear more -- Jim and Poppy.
SCIUTTO: Lord help us. Just a horrible story.
SAVIDGE: It is.
SCIUTTO: Martin Savidge, thanks very much.
So 800,000 federal workers preparing to miss their second straight paycheck. They should get paid on Friday, and they won't because Congress and the president can't make a deal.
The Senate takes up competing bills to reopen the government, neither has any likely shot of passing. So where does this leave those workers?
[10:59:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN, the most-trusted name in news.
SCIUTTO: The mayor of South Bend, Indiana is making a push to become America's first openly gay president.
Earlier this morning, Pete Buttigieg released this video to announce plans to file an exploratory committee.
HARLOW: He's 37 years old, a Democrat, served this country in Afghanistan before running to become the mayor of South Bend in 2012.
Buttigieg spoke about the life-changing decision just moments ago. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: We've put together a terrific team. We are not going to be the most-established. We are not going to be the most well-funded.
I'm obviously not stepping onto this stage as the most famous person in this conversation, but I belong to a party whose characteristic has always been to look for fresh voices, new leadership and big ideas. And I think that's what 2020 is going to be about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Making the field more crowded. Really interesting.