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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Mueller Court Filing in Manafort Case Due Tonight; "New York Times:" Trump's Former Fixer Michael Cohen Gave Prosecutors New Information About Trump Family Business; R. Kelly Charged With Sex Abuse, Victims Include Minors; "Empire" Producers Cut Jussie Smollett's Character From Final Two Episodes Of Season After His Arrest; Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Charged With Soliciting Prostitution In Human Trafficking Sting Operation. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired February 22, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Tonight, a major milestone in the Mueller investigation. We're waiting tonight for the Mueller team to submit their sentencing memorandum in the Paul Manafort case. Now, the deadline is midnight. The memo is likely the last major filing in the prosecution of Paul Manafort.
As we have seen in other sentencing memoranda, it may also contain new information in the Russia investigation, and serve as another sign post toward the overall investigation is headed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. There was no anything. So, that's the nice part. There was no phone calls, no nothing.
We have a -- I won the race. You know why I won the race? Because I was a better candidate than she was and had nothing to do with Russia. And everybody knows it's a hoax. It's one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on this country.
So, I look forward to seeing the report. If it's an honest report, it will say that. If it's not an honest report, it won't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was the president earlier today.
Will tonight's memo provide any clues to that final report? That's one question out of many, and it's not the only breaking news on the subject either. There is new reporting as well tonight on potentially new evidence that Michael Cohen gave federal investigators about the Trump Organization.
Maggie Haberman is on that byline and we'll talk to her shortly. But, first, the Manafort memo and CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.
So, what could we learn from this sentencing memo? And, again, we are expecting this really at any moment now up until midnight.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. We are expecting this, Anderson, up to midnight. It could come at any moment. It's just another Friday here in Washington, D.C., as we await news from the Mueller team.
And really, this is, we hope, in some ways, could button up, put a lot of information together about the Mueller investigation. We know from other filings that they considered Paul Manafort a central figure. He was at the heart, the matters he was involved in. Has been at the heart of what the special counsel has been looking at.
And specifically, what we're looking to see in this memo that hopefully gets filed soon is whether or not they explain any more the relationship between Paul Manafort and this long-time business associate of his, Konstantin Kilimnik, believed to be a Russian agent, whether or not the government explains what their relation is, especially during the campaign. The other things we're going to learn more about, Paul Manafort's business activity. A lot has been made about that.
And really, ultimately, do they in any way put together more information about where their investigation stands? Is this a milestone for the Mueller investigation? This could be the last significant filing that we see from them.
COOPER: The New York district attorney's office is also preparing charges against Manafort if he were to get a presidential pardon. Is that correct?
PROKUPECZ: Yes, that is correct. So, they have been working on this case for probably about two years now, Anderson. It's also related to tax charges and loans that he received from banks, the Manhattan D.A.'s office started looking into this around the same time that Mueller came in.
And what happened is, they had stopped. They basically did not take any kind of heavy activity. They did not do any kind of heavy investigative activity, because they did not want to interfere in the Mueller investigation.
And certainly, the other concern from folks in law enforcement and Manhattan D.A. is that the president could pardon Paul Manafort, essentially letting him free on all of these alleged crimes, some of them that he's been convicted on. The Manhattan D.A.'s office wants to secure, make sure they can at least secure charges that the president would not be able to pardon Paul Manafort on.
COOPER: All right. Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate it. We'll come back to you, obviously, if events warrant it tonight.
Preet Bharara is a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. He joins us now.
So, Preet, because this may be the last big filing he hands the report over to the attorney general, how much do you think we could learn from this memo? Because in the past, we have seen a lot of details put into the sentencing memo.
PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It's unclear. And I hate to speculate about something that is going to be obvious in minutes, if not hours. But, look, there is a reason why separate and apart from, you know, wanting to telegraph major developments in what the investigation is for them to want to say more detail in the submission.
And the reason for that is, you know, remember, initially, Paul Manafort was -- went to trial, was convicted on eight counts, in one case, in the Eastern District of Virginia, then decided not to go to trial with respect to the D.C. case, the one we're talking about, and decided to cooperate, and entered into a cooperation agreement with the special counsel's office and got, you know, kind of a nice deal, having to plead guilty to only two counts, two conspiracy counts. And then they ripped up the cooperation agreement, and they don't have to stand by it anymore, because they believe Paul Manafort lied. And that was litigated and basically agreed upon that he lied and didn't deserve the benefit of this cooperation agreement.
[20:05:04] So, for that reason, the prosecutors are now very free to talk in much greater detail, as they did in the other case, about all sorts of things they think Paul Manafort did. And the precursor to this was the occasion of one of the prosecutors for the special counsel's office declaring in open court how interested they were in a particular meeting between Paul Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik as Shimon was just talking about.
So they have incentive to bring before the court with respect to the particular case how serious his conduct was, because he breached the cooperation agreement. Separate from any interest in putting before the public, before the report becomes public, if it ever does, what happened in the case.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, the prosecutors are supposed to outline all the facts that should be considered at his sentencing hearing. Mueller -- I mean, others have commented, though, that in the past Mueller has been very adept at revealing only the minimum amount of information he has throughout this investigation, but has put details into these documents and some have argued that it's a way to get it in front of the public in a way that might not be possible, depending on how this final report is handled.
Do you believe that he is intentionally putting details in there to kind of get them out into the public sphere?
BHARARA: You know, I don't know. It doesn't strike me as the way that Bob Mueller traditionally operates. If he knows he's going to have an opportunity to provide a full report to the attorney general as is required by the guidelines under which he was appointed, then I don't think so.
But it's a tantalizing prospect to think about that. So, I think it's -- I think it's interesting. I think there have been sort of fascinating tidbits that you and I have discussed before that don't necessarily have to be in the document and find their way into the document anyway. But I think it's impossible to tell.
COOPER: At the end of all of this, how much time do you think Manafort might end up serving? I mean, you know, beyond any question of a pardon, just in terms of sentencing? It's very likely he could spend the rest of his life in jail, in prison.
BHARARA: The reason for that, he's 69 years old. He turned 70 in April.
BHARARA: Look, the prosecutors, as a lot of people have described with respect to -- remember, he has two cases. He refused to waive the venue requirement that the government is supposed to meet. So he had a case in Virginia and a case in the District of Columbia.
With respect to the other case we talked about a couple of weeks ago, the sentencing guidelines, as determined by the probation department with respect to his report that happens in every case when anybody is facing sentencing in the federal system, said that the guidelines range is 19.5 to 24.5 years. That's on the one case.
On this other case that we're talking about tonight, he can face additional time. Now, according to the cooperation agreement that they had originally entered into, the parties agreed, the defendant and the special counsel's office agreed, that some of that conduct was overlapping. With respect to the conduct overlapping like the tax evasion and those sorts of things, that the sentence in the one case should be concurrent with the sentence in the other case so the second case wouldn't dramatically increase his exposure.
But one of the counts on which he's going to be sentenced in the case we're talking about tonight, the D.C. case, was a conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with witness tampering. That will likely be on top of whatever he gets in the other case. And in the other case, although the sentencing guidelines call for 19.5 to a 24.5-year sentence, I don't think that that will happen. I think that that seems excessive. And it's largely driven by the dollar value of the tax evasion that we're talking about in that case.
So that happens all of the time. There's an exorbitant amount of time called for by the sentencing guidelines. I think the likelihood is not going to be anywhere near that but still substantial. I wouldn't be surprised if it was very high, single digits or low double digit sentence.
COOPER: This notion of the district attorney in New York preparing in case Mueller gets pardoned by the president, he -- they can do that? I mean, how would -- how do they actually go about that?
BHARARA: You have to do it carefully. We have something in the constitution called the double jeopardy clause.
COOPER: Right, yes.
BHARARA: And it can apply, depending on the circumstances, in both directions if the federal prosecutors go first versus whether the local prosecutors go first. Generally speaking, if the federal prosecutors go first and it's the same conduct that's at issue, depending on the state constitution of the local prosecutor, and in New York, it's a pretty -- it's a pretty high bar, they can't go forward.
So, there are arguments that can be made depending on what their case is about. I don't know exactly what their case is about. But it likely will at a minimum be about tax evasion. And there was a fix made to New York law some years ago after the Leona Helmsley case, who's convicted of tax evasion many years ago, making it clear that if you commit tax evasion on the federal level -- federal taxes, and then separately evade state taxes, you don't have a double jeopardy problem.
So I would expect that Cy Vance, the man at the D.A.'s office, at a minimum looking at that.
[20:10:02] But without knowing the details, you don't know what the legal obstacles will be. There may be some, but they're pretty smart over there and they probably have figured out a way not to have those problems.
COOPER: Wow. I love that you have been able to connect Leona Helmsley to part --
BHARARA: I've always wanted to say her name on national television.
COOPER: Blast from the past.
Preet Bharara, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
I want to dig deeper now with Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia attorney general, former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu, and former senior FBI and CIA official, Phil Mudd.
Shan, do you believe that this filing could be a glimpse into where Mueller's investigation stands so far? I mean, how revealing based on what he's done in the past do you think Mueller would be?
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I don't want to throw shade on the party. But the theory for it being more revealing depends on two things, Anderson. A, they're trying to give us hints, which I would agree with Preet, I don't think they're trying to do that.
Or two, now that the plea agreement has been breached by Manafort, the prosecutors don't have to limit themselves. And the reason they wouldn't limit themselves is to make sure that they put all the bad conduct in front of the judge, to make sure he gets a very heavy hit on the sentence.
But I don't think they need to do all of that right now. If we assume that the Mueller team likes to be minimalist, they don't need to pull out a lot to give them a very heavy sentence, because simply based on the dollar amount, it's already high. And he's also got the Virginia case coming up. So, I don't know that they necessarily have the incentive to reveal a lot here, just to really punish him for his breach.
COOPER: Ken, do you agree with that? I mean, one big aspect of the case that this filing may cover is Manafort's contact with, you know, Konstantin Kilimnik, which Preet was talking about, who prosecutors are alleging is connected to Russian intelligence and that Manafort shared polling data with.
KEN CUCCINELLI, PRESIDENT, SENATE CONSERVATIVES FUND: Right. If there is anything beyond sharing polling data, I might expect to see it in the explanation of the special counsel to the judge as part of sentencing. But beyond that possibility, I would agree with the comments already made that Bob Mueller is not going to look at this as an opportunity to reveal more. I think you can expect to see him continue his sort of minimalist approach to revealing information.
Like I said, with the one exception, if there is unique significance to that meeting, I would, in fact, expect to see it, because I would think the special counsel would want the judge to consider those unique facts as part of the punishment phase.
COOPER: Phil, talk a little bit about sort of the focus on Kilimnik. If he's indeed connected to Russian intelligence, as prosecutors have alleged, do you think that whatever Manafort shared with him would have been passed along to others? If it's just, you know, a lot of Republicans will say, look, polling data, that's not like top-secret information.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYS: I --
MUDD: No, I agree with that. I agree. I hate to say this, Anderson. I agree with the two lawyers who have been on tonight. It's the first time ever I'll say that.
But I mean, the lawyers for the defense have a right to see the information that Mueller has. So if there is information that's been passed along to Kilimnik, I think if it's not extremely sensitive, they should have it.
I mean, in terms of the conversation you were having earlier about what lawyers say about the jeopardy that Paul Manafort is in, I'm going to agree again. I think Mueller doesn't have the responsibility, and I don't think he will reveal a lot of information.
Manafort, as we discussed, is 69 years old. Even in limited circumstances, he's got 5, 10, 15 years. That's a lot of time for somebody that age. So, we keep talking about the amount of information that will be revealed in this legal process. I'm not sure that's going to happen.
He's already under tremendous jeopardy. He's already going to face jail time. I'm not sure this will be as interesting as people talk about, Anderson.
COOPER: Shan, Manafort's legal team -- they have until Monday to file their own request for Manafort's sentence. Excuse me, given his lies to prosecutors, how much will that really matter? Will they recommend really matter?
WU: I think it will matter a lot. I mean, this is truly their last- ditch effort here to try and get him out from under a really bad problem. So I would expect them to both play up his age, his ill health, and probably take another shot at claiming that some of the misrepresentations he made were more accidental than not. I mean, they can't really get the judge to change her mind on what she did point out.
But they can paint the overall picture this was not one mass of intentional lies. That some of it perhaps due to his age and health was just misrecollection. So I would look for a pretty powerful statement from them, because they really need to push this down. His only hope of getting this low was that the prosecution would agree to go down in the guidelines, because of his cooperation.
Without that, all he's left with is the Hail Mary for the pardon.
[20:15:02] And, you know, that may still be out there. Perhaps it can be a message that what he was holding back on, what he was lying on, was maybe important enough to the Trump people, that maybe that's his message that deserve a pardon.
COOPER: Yes. Ken, as Jeff Toobin has pointed out, apparently Paul Manafort looks terrible, walking with a cane. Looks like he's aged considerably. Does not look like he's in good health.
I want -- Ken, I want to ask you about what I talked with Preet about, about Manhattan prosecutors, the idea they're preparing a criminal case against Manafort if President Trump decides to pardon Manafort. You know, Preet talked about, if it's state tax evasion, then it's not double jeopardy on federal charges.
COOPER: A., do you agree with that? And is that fair for -- I mean, to kind of do an end run like that?
CUCCINELLI: Well, first of all, I do agree with the double jeopardy analysis. But having dealt with double jeopardy myself over the years in my legal capacity, you ask it an interesting way, Anderson. You asked is it fair?
I think most Americans objectively, if you took the politics out of this, if they -- you asked them about sort of a state-level prosecutor lying in wait if things don't go a particular way at the federal level or if they do, most Americans would be -- would not be comfortable with that.
That is our system, however. It is perfectly legal. It is perfectly constitutional. It's a separate charge, a separate offense and a separate sovereign.
So, there's no getting in the way of it if you're President Trump or if you're Paul Manafort. So that is going to be left hanging out there, regardless.
COOPER: Shan, I guess me saying -- using the word "fair" is a little naive, because had you're talking about the legal system, what's fair and legal are often two different things.
WU: Well, we hope they're aligned most of the time, Anderson. But I would say the easiest way to understand that double jeopardy argument to me is I have to pay both state and federal taxes. So, they're two sovereigns to me.
So I don't think the majority of people would think that it's unjust. I mean, it makes perfect sense analytically those are two separate charges for him. I also don't -- there has also been some reporting they have been laying in wait in the sense that he doesn't get pardoned.
But I think the way I'm reading that, is they did just pause it because they didn't want to interfere with Mueller and now they can resume it. So I think they'll move forward with that. And, again, that's just -- it's a never-ending nightmare for the Manafort people and team. There is no end to the misery here.
And I don't know if they would be able to cut some kind of good deal, because at this point, they have no leverage on him.
COOPER: Phil, I mean, pending charges in Manhattan, possibly at the New York state level -- I mean, it just goes to show, even if the president escapes the Mueller probe, his legal troubles are far from over. This is just going to drag on and on.
MUDD: Boy, we're talking -- let me now differ from the lawyers. We're talking about a lot of legal issues, as somebody who participated in investigations, my sympathy level is near zero. We have a very complicated case with a series of witnesses who decided to lie. One of them is Manafort, who lied repeatedly.
Whether it's federal or state charges, if you want to lie in front of a judge, and in front of federal investigators, and then you say, well, you know, I don't really like jail, because I don't feel very good. And I have health issues. You know, I understand there's a double jeopardy question. I understand there's questions about whether the public will view this in one way or the other.
But as someone who investigated, when you lie, you're going to have to pay the price. And one of the prices is, you're going to spend some time getting three hots and a cot, three meals at my taxpayer dollars and a room and a federal prison. I don't feel that sympathetic. He should have told the truth. End of story.
COOPER: Phil, I never want you testifying against me.
MUDD: That's going to happen one day, Anderson. You're done.
COOPER: If it does happen, I am done.
Phil, thank you very much. Shan Wu, and Ken Cuccinelli, always, thank you very much.
Coming up next in Washington, the president preparing for what Michael Cohen might tell Congress next week. There is late word on new information he's already given to federal prosecutors, as you'll see. The subject matter in question lives squarely on the far side of one of the president's red lines. We'll talk to Maggie Haberman about that.
Also tonight, breaking news in the R. Kelly case. Details on the sexual abuse charges he's facing and when he is expected to turn himself in.
[20:23:31] COOPER: We're awaiting the sentencing memo recommendation from Robert Mueller's team tonight. That could happen any time before midnight. We'll obviously bring that as breaking news.
There is other breaking news tonight ahead of Michael Cohen's upcoming testimony before Congress. The question is, did the president know about it earlier today when he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you have concerns about Michael Cohen's testimony before Congress next week?
TRUMP: No, no, no.
REPORTER: Mr. President, are you still considering --
TRUMP: Lawyer/client. But, you know, he's taking his own chances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Fairly nonchalant, all things considered, especially given that this next story crosses his red lines. It landed late today in "The New York Times." The headline reads: Cohen gave prosecutors new information on the Trump family business.
"The New York Times" Maggie Haberman, who shares the byline, she is our political analyst and joins us now.
So, Maggie, talk about your new reporting that Michael Cohen offered up to federal prosecutors in New York. Do we know how detailed it got or what we know about it?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: As we say in the piece, Michael Cohen met recently with prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, which is where he pleaded guilty to talk about the Trump Organization. Information related to insurance claims.
We don't have more details than that. We don't know where these insurance claims were processed or what they were for, specifically. But that is what he talked about. He also was asked questions about Imaad Zuberi. Zuberi is the one
individual who was mentioned by name in the subpoena the Southern District issued to the presidential inaugural committee a couple of weeks ago. There was a -- more of a business transaction between Cohen and Zuberi than Zuberi had let on in an interview with "The New York Times."
[20:25:08] There had been some check he had written to Cohen for $100,000. Cohen apparently didn't deposit it, but Zuberi played it off as if they had barely had any interactions.
What this all adds up to, we don't know. But remember, Cohen is going to be testifying three times next week, two closed doors, one in an open setting. I think there are going to be a number of things he's not allowed to talk about. But it's really just, again, a reminder that he remains one of the biggest threats to the president. Not just now, but going forward.
COOPER: So, Zuberi -- and that's a name not a lot of people know. But you have reported on him in the past.
Initially, there was -- or part of what people -- authorities have been looking into is money paid to the inaugural committee. You're saying at the same time he also was paying Michael Cohen $100,000, which is something he had downplayed to you previously, saying he really hadn't had business dealings.
HABERMAN: Correct. He said he had had a couple interactions with him, that they had talked about doing some real estate venture that didn't end up taking place. That appears to have been true.
However, he did write this check to Michael Cohen that appears not to have been cashed. But I don't know why you write someone a $100,000 check if you're not planning on going into business with them.
And to your point, Zuberi is notable, because he was a very large donor to the inaugural committee. He had been a Clinton donor and Obama donor before that. He was someone who was looking for entry points into the new administration.
He clearly thought that Michael Cohen might be one. He thought the inaugural might be another. He wrote $900,000 in donations to the inaugural committee.
COOPER: We should also point out, this is around the time that Michael Cohen seemed to be kind of selling himself as an entry point into the new Trump administration. I mean, you know, there were companies I think, you know, AT&T was one of them and others which we now know I think gave Michael Cohen money for a consultant.
HABERMAN: There were a lot of companies that I think were looking to -- that had absolutely no connection to Trump or his orbit, and they were trying to understand the new White House. And I think that Michael Cohen became somebody who folks went into business with for that purpose. But I think that, again, we don't know the full scope of everything he
talked about with the prosecutors. But he clearly did not simply, you know, stick to what we have heard before, which is about hush money payments to women who had claimed to have had affairs with President Trump.
Michael Cohen worked for the Trump Organization for a decade. He was around for an awful lot of discussions and an awful lot of transactions that took place. And presumably he has stories to tell.
COOPER: Do you know how something like this comes about? I mean, why wasn't this information that Michael Cohen gave to them a while back? I mean, he has certainly been involved in the Southern District now for quite some time. And you talked about also information he might give in the future.
Is it not the kind of situation where they just ask him to download all his information that he has in his head?
HABERMAN: It's a great question. Remember that Michael Cohen did not strike a -- a Cooperation deal with the southern district. That would have required him to basically sit and answer whatever questions they wanted about whatever topic they wanted in his life, any crimes he may have knowledge about, or partake in himself or been aware. He chose not to do that. And that is believed to be part of why he got the pretty large sentence that he got.
There is always the possibility that if prosecutors find his information credible and useful, they could recommend a sentence reduction. It obviously remains to be seen if that will happen. He was supposed to go to jail in two weeks. He is now not supposed to go for another two months, because he had some medical issues.
But I think that this has not taken place in the typical course of things that we see with the southern district. We're just going to have to wait and see what it amounts to.
COOPER: It's also interesting, because in the past, the president has continued to attack Michael Cohen. You know, in certain mob-like terms, referring to him as a rat. Knowing -- it's interesting, though, to see how the president is going to react to his testimony, because, as you say, he doesn't have a cooperative agreement. If he has -- he may have more information that he could give to prosecutors, depending on how prison time goes for him, depending on how his feelings are toward the president as time goes by.
HABERMAN: Right. And, look, it certainly doesn't have to be -- just thinking ahead to the testimony, forgetting about what happens in the future with the prosecutors, to your point, he's going to testify next week. The president will be out of the country. Michael Cohen can talk about things that even if they are not legally damaging, they could be politically damaging to the president.
And that has been one of the things that has confounded a lot of people, even supporters of the president, who look at how he has behaved toward Cohen and think why would you intentionally attack someone the way he has, knowing that Cohen may have this wealth of information that he may be able to talk about?
[20:30:00] The president and his allies have repeatedly questioned Michael Cohen's credibility. The Southern District, even there, where prosecutors went after him pretty aggressively, they also said that they found his information on certain issues to be truthful.
Robert Mueller's team issued a stronger memo before Michael Cohen was sentenced, saying that he had been helpful to their investigation and that they found it truthful. So, I think you are going to see all of this play out when Michael Cohen is testifying next week.
COOPER: Just very briefly, and you may not know the answer to this, because it may not be known. Do we know, is Michael Cohen meeting in advance with, you know, staffers on Capitol Hill in advance of his testimony? Because oftentimes politicians like to do that, because it can help them hone their questions, you know, they're not just going on a fishing expedition in front of cameras. They can hone their questions much more succinctly.
HABERMAN: We don't know the answer to that. I would assume that there's going to be some insight at least among Democrats about what Michael Cohen -- what areas generally he might be touching on. But it's not clear at all how much advance prep there is going to be. It's not clear how much time everybody is going to get. There are a lot of members of this committee and so I think that there is going to be an awful lot of interest from different people.
COOPER: Yes. Maggie Haberman, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
HABERMAN: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, an arrest warrant has been issued for R&B singer, R. Kelly, who has been indicted on 10 felony counts of sexual abuse involving four victims, including minors. The singer's lawyer says he's going to turn himself in tonight. We'll have the latest on that.
[20:35:00] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. R. Kelly's lawyer says the singer will turn himself in tonight after an arrest warrant was issued on charges that he sexually abused four victims, including at least three minors.
The executive producer of a documentary series that aired recently called "Surviving R. Kelly" says the singer's alleged activities has been an open secret for almost two decades. And quotes -- and we quote him right now saying, "It's time for him to finally pay for the harm he has caused the black girls' lives that he's ruined."
CNN's Randi Kelly -- Randi Kaye joins us right now with the latest. So, what more do we know about this? Because, I mean, this has been going on, obviously, for quite some time.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Anderson. R. Kelly has long had a reputation for trolling underage girls dating as far back as the 1990s. Remember, he reportedly had married the singer Aaliyah when she was just 15, he was 27. Neither actually ever admitted to the marriage, which was reportedly annulled before she died in a plane crash years later.
But over the years, the stories of abuse and manipulation have just continued to surface. Girls as young as 15 accusing Kelly of having sex with them, plying them with drugs and alcohol.
The first time lawsuit filed in 1996 by a woman who alleged a sexual relationship with Kelly, which she said began when she was 15. That was later reportedly settled. Then in 2001, another lawsuit from a woman who said Kelly initiated a sexual relationship with her when she was 17, that case also settled.
And in 2002, Kelly was accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl in a video in which the girl was urinated on. Kelly was arrested in that case when he was 35, then acquitted six years later. One accuser claimed that he impregnated her when she was 16. Another said he videotaped her without her knowledge. Kelly has strongly denied all of these allegations over the years.
But as of tonight, Anderson, he has been indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving the four different victims, as you mentioned, three were older than 13, but under 17, that's according to the state's attorney in Chicago. One count refers to Kelly using force or the threat of force.
His attorneys have yet to release a statement on all of this. But this all comes on the heels of Attorney Michael Avenatti announcing that he's handed over a videotape to the state's attorney's office in Illinois that he says shows Kelly having sex with an underage girl.
CNN was actually able to view that tape and it appears to show Kelly having sex with a girl who refers to her "14-year-old genitalia." And the man in the video also refers to the age of her genitalia, as well. And the girl repeatedly calls the man "daddy."
This new footage very disturbing, lasts almost 43 minutes. But what is on the video apparently mirrors some of the alleged acts for which Kelly was first arrested for back in 2002.
COOPER: And there was also a videotape in that trial following the 2002 arrest.
KAYE: Correct. That was a child pornography case that went to trial finally in 2008, so it took six years. But in that case, he was accused of making a 27-minute sex tape with an underage girl. The alleged victim in that case met him when she was just 12. She claimed that he made her do vial things and he filmed them all.
That video does have similarities, including the urination to the VHS tape that just surfaced recently and was submitted to the Cook County authorities. But in the end, the jury in that case decided that the identity of the girl was not conclusive, and he was found not guilty. But now as more women have continued to come forward with stories of abuse, something really seemed to shift in R. Kelly's world, Anderson. In January, the lifetime series you mentioned, "Surviving R. Kelly," was released and that included testimony from several women who said they had been abused by the singer. And then after that, Kelly was dropped by his record label. So now after all these years, many women are hoping that justice will finally be served, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Well, we'll see him turning himself in tonight. Randi, thanks very much.
Joining us now is CNN Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Anne Milgram. Anne, 10 charges, maximum of seven years on each count if convicted, how strong does the state's case against R. Kelly seem to be?
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it seems very strong. And we can distinguish it in a minute against that case that went forward in 2008 with one victim. Here you've got four separate victims. That is, you know, that it is a pattern. And you've got -- three of them underage, so essentially statutory rape charges. And then you've got one that's force or threat of force.
And so here you've got four separate women, three of which are between the ages of 13 and 17, all of whom are alleged victims in this case. And it really is, when you think about these types of cases, and having victims cooperate and come forward, having that number of victims, it just -- it makes a huge difference in sex crimes cases.
And I would say one thing, just about the 2008 case. You know, having investigated it and tried cases that are -- involved sex crimes, I would say this. That case was particularly difficult, because the victim did not cooperate at the trial. And so it was hard to figure out. It was, you know, the government was not able to prove that it was her and R. Kelly denied that it was him. I think we're going to see a really different situation here.
COOPER: I mean you prosecuted sex crimes. As you said, I mean the fact that there are multiple victims here makes a major difference when a -- when an alleged victim refuses to cooperate, refuses to testify, then it becomes, you know, very -- it's not impossible to proceed with the case.
[20:40:15] MILGRAM: Absolutely. And even one victim cooperating, it is not nearly as strong as having four. And remember that Kim Foxx, the state's attorney, after that documentary that you and Randi were just discussing came out a couple months ago, Kim Foxx went on, you know, national T.V. and said, "Please come forward if there are victims in Cook County."
So she now has four victims who are willing to cooperate with her in a case against R. Kelly, that makes it such a strong case versus having just a single victim and it's -- it really will make a difference in the trial and the prosecution.
COOPER: So there's expected to be a bond hearing tomorrow. Would someone facing these kinds of charges typically be allowed to post bond and remain free? MILGRAM: Yes. I mean, it really depends. I mean, what you see in a lot of cities is you would see very high bail set, if at all set in cases like this. They didn't charge rape here. They charged it as aggravated criminal sexual abuse, so it's sort of a level two felony.
Again, the sentences are really potentially very high between -- up to seven years on each count, if he's convicted. And so I think it's very likely that the judge will set extraordinarily high bail on R. Kelly.
The real question is, is he a risk of flight? And so, you know, that's what it's going to come down to. Is he willing to surrender his passport? You know, what if his tour dates or commitments abroad? A judge would not look kindly on that. And, again, you know, he's been -- he has shown up to court before has been present in trials, so I think he has a good chance to get high bail.
COOPER: Yes. All right, Anne Milgram, appreciate it. Thank you.
MILGRAM: Thank you.
COOPER: Just ahead, the latest on the Jussie Smollett saga. I'll talk with Dr. Cornel West about the alleged hoax and what may cause people to cast doubts about the next time a racist attack -- real racist attack surfaces. We'll be right back.
[20:45:41] COOPER: The producers behind the Fox show, "Empire," have decided to remove Jussie Smollett's character from the final two episodes of the current season. This, of course, in the wake of accusations that he paid two men $3,500 to stage what he claimed was a racist and anti-gay attack on him in late January.
In their statement, the producers call the allegations "very disturbing" and say they're placing their trust in the legal system as the process plays out. The two men have been cooperating with authorities.
Joining me now is Dr. Cornel West, professor at Princeton and Harvard as well. Dr. West, thanks for being with us. First of all, do you believe the allegation that Jussie Smollett staged this attack and filed a false report or at this point, where are you on this?
CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL: Well, it's a good question. I mean, I like to stay in contact with the evidence and hope he has a fair trial, but it looks as if there's evidence that for some reason he came up with this hoax, but we'll have to see.
You know, he's a very talented actor and the sad thing is that, you know, we lose sight of the human beings who are the genuine victims, gay brothers, black folk, brown, red, yellow and others. And this is true even in the R. Kelly case. It's so sad. You know, it's the children. It's the precious and priceless black girls that we need to focus on. I mean, his genius is undeniable. His music has enriched my life, but he has to be accountable. That kind of activity is gangster activity, thuggish activity. He has to be accountable.
But a long history of this, though, Brother Anderson, you know, you've got Martin Heidegger, a philosophic genius and a Nazi as renowned (ph) lyrical genius in poetry but a fascist. How do we keep track of the art which still affects us and then the very ugly and vicious and malicious activity that's too often that goes hand-and-hand with genius.
But I think R. Kelly needs a fair trial too, I mean, there's no doubt about that. And Robert Kraft, we can go on and on. The brothers are just out of control of all colors, I can tell you that, all of them. All we brothers need to be rented (ph) in some way accountable, but go right ahead.
COOPER: A spokesman for the NAACP said that the allegations against Smollett should not be used as a smokescreen to obscure real racism in the United States. How concerned are you about that, and people using this as kind of a reason to doubt claims of actual hate crimes?
WEST: No. I think the NAACP hits the nail on the head, there's no doubt about it. But think about this, though, Brother Anderson, that war crimes, Wall Street crimes, white collar crimes, I wish that we focus as much on those crimes as we do on these particular hoaxes, seemingly, and even the crimes on the street.
If we're going to have a rule of law, it's got to be a rule of law for everybody. We've all got to be accountable. But see, I come out of the legacy of Jerusalem that says I always look for the criminals at the top. And then I keep track of the criminals in the middle and below, because we need to be concerned with criminality, no matter what, as well as the criminality inside of ourselves.
But the ones at the top oftentimes are the most dangerous. And they're the ones who very rarely get this kind of focus, this kind of highlight, this kind of accountability that people are calling for.
COOPER: That's certainly true. The superintendent, it was interesting, for the Chicago police yesterday, talked about how as a black man, he was left asking why, why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusation if that is, in fact, what happened?
WEST: Yes. You know, I also want to keep in mind that I think Brother Smollett has a drug problem, and so he might not be in full control. He still has to be accountable, but he might not be in full control.
R. Kelly in the same way, I think of his precious mother, Joanne, taking him to church and teaching him music. He didn't -- he couldn't read, he could write, but produces just magnificent music. Lulu, his first girlfriend, who died drowning in his eyes. The wounds are so deep. [20:50:01] But the fundamental question always is, will you be a wounded hurter or be a wounded healer? And if you're wounded, as is the case it seems to me with Smollett, as is the case with R. Kelly, might be the case for Robert Kraft. I don't know his life. But the question is, whatever wounds you have, will you choose to be a healer or will you choose to be a hurter. And if your wound --
COOPER: Because that is their choice.
WEST: -- going to be those that produce -- that's their choice. And if you're wounding other, especially precious girls and black girls, I mean, my god, you know the value of life in this society as one in which our precious black sisters, especially under 15, are always overlooked, always down played.
And so when you engage in that kind of violation, oh, my god, this is sinful, capital S if I can use a Christian category on corporate media here tonight. It's wrong, you know. It's just immoral, brother.
COOPER: It's interesting that you talk about choice. I mean, people are sometimes victims of their circumstance. But there are plenty of people who would have every reason to, you know, be angry to make -- to do something wrong and yet they make a choice of how they want to live their life despite where they -- you know, what they had experienced as children or what they have experienced at some point in their life. They make a choice about the path that they want to walk and I think it's an important point that that is a choice one can make.
WEST: That's right. And that is precisely the lesson that R. Kelly heard from his magnificent teacher, Lena McLin, at Kenwood High School who was a niece of Thomas Dorsey who wrote "Precious Lord," Martin Luther King Jr.'s favorite song. And what does she tell R. Kelly? You have been wounded. You grew up out of the (INAUDIBLE) project. You grew up hated. You grew up hunted. You grew up harassed.
You can bounce back, but in bouncing back -- and not only create beautiful music, but you've got to treat human beings right, the women, the men, the elders, the babies. And R. Kelly has this genius on the one hand and thuggish proclivity on the other hand, all of it. And it seem to allow to thuggish proclivity if they have, but it is what it is and it's going to have to pay. You got to reap what you sew. But even he can bounce back in prison -- brother, he can bounce back in prison, no doubt about that.
COOPER: There's redemption. Redemption is possible for anybody.
WEST: Bounce back is always a possibility, that's exactly right.
COOPER: Dr. Cornel West, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
I want to check in now with Chris to see what he is working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris? CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Brother Anderson, Brother Cornel has a unique ability to give one hope and he has an interesting take on R. Kelly. My take on it is the flip side. I mean, you've been hearing stories like this for a long time about him and I think part of this prosecution is going to have to be a discussion why did it take so long for these charges to manifest and are they going to be evidencing a pattern that has been over our long course of time. So it's going to be interesting case to watch.
We have some new information tonight about what Michael Cohen has been talking about with investigators. The President is right, Cohen wasn't just his lawyer, he was very involved in different aspects of his business and we're going to relay some new information about what that could mean for Donald Trump and why this could be a bigger problem for him than the Mueller probe.
And, of course, just like you, we're on Mueller watch. We're going to see if this pleading on Manafort comes out. This is the last best chance to find out what Manafort meant to the actual Russia probe before the final report. So we're on it.
COOPER: Yes. All right, seven minutes from now, a lot to look forward. Chris, thanks very much. We're going to see you in a few minutes.
More break news on this busy Friday, including Robert Kraft as we were just talking about, owner of the New England Patriots who we touch on briefly, he is being charged of two counts of soliciting prostitution in Florida. We'll have the latest on the charges against him.
[20:57:48] COOPER: Robert Kraft who owns the New England Patriots is being charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution, this in the wake of a months long investigation in South Florida. The charges against Kraft and others center around a spa in Jupiter, Florida. Our Jason Carroll joins us now with the latest on that. So, talk about the details of these charges. What is alleged?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this all stems from an investigation into allegations of human trafficking which investigators say took place at the Asia Day Spa down there in Jupiter, Florida, Anderson. Police charged Kraft with two counts of solicitation -- soliciting another for prostitution.
This is a misdemeanor, but they say that they gather all the evidence they need. They say part of that evidence is on videotape. They say they have videotape of Kraft in a room where they say that -- they characterize this videotape as Kraft taking part in what they characterize as paid acts.
They did not elaborate beyond that, but you can use your imagination there. I mean, this is an investigation that went on for several months. And again, police say they've got all the evidence they need on this one.
COOPER: Has Kraft made a statement or had anything to say about this?
CARROLL: Well, he has. He did make a statement. He ended up making a statement through his spokesperson who said in part Kraft denies the allegation. The statement reads, "We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting any further."
But once again, Anderson, police say they've got not only evidence against Kraft, but against 25 other men who they identify as Johns. They say they've got tape of Kraft and those other men as well.
COOPER: All right. Well, Jason Carroll, we'll continue to follow it. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.
I want to give you a reminder. Don't miss "Full Circle." If you haven't seen it, it's our daily interactive newscast on Facebook. You get to vote on what stories we cover. It's every day at 6:25 p.m. Eastern Time. You get all the details. Watch it at -- on facebook.com/andersoncooperfullcircle. I hope you check it out. It's fun.
Jason Carroll had that report on Kraft, no doubt more about that tonight, also R. Kelly and a lot more ahead. Chris is going to be handling things from here on out. Let's go to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."
CUOMO: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "PRIME TIME." It's Friday and I have new information for you.