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Trump Has A Consequential Week -- Michael Cohen, Kim Jong Un, National Emergency Fight; Trump Suggests Trade Deal with China Imminent; Prosecutors Says Kraft And Other Defendants Could Face One Year in Jail. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired February 25, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: What's it like to be a full time stay at home dad? Have your daughter flying missions half a world away while your friends are having different experiences as moms and grandmothers. What's it like to leave your baby when she's just 6 weeks old and for her to refuse to hug you for days when you return and is it different for men and women? You might be surprised what our military family members say. So, check out my column and send us your feedback and story idea ideas at HOMEFRONT@CNN.COM. Brooke Baldwin picks it up from here.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Thank you. Hi there. You're watching CNN. Let's dive into the breaking news out of Florida where any minute now, prosecutors will speak out on NFL owner, Robert Kraft, who has been linked to a prostitution and sex trafficking ring targeting multiple day spas and massage parlors in central Florida. The 77-year-old billionaire has now retained a defense attorney and faces two counts of soliciting someone to commit prostitution and police say there is video showing Kraft receiving what they refer to as paid acts at the Orchid Day Spa as well as video showing him being driven to this facility. The spokesman for the state's attorney says the charge, which are second degree misdemeanor, usually carry no more than 60-day county jail sentence. In a statement, a spokesperson for Bob Kraft denied he ever engaged in any illegal activity. Let's go to the news conference where we are about to hear from the state's attorney, Kaylee Hartung for me in West Palm Beach. So run through, we are still waiting for him to be charged, correct?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And we expect this press conference to be very revealing. Not only because we expect to learn of the formal charges that will be filed against Kraft and 24 other men who allegedly engaged in these paid illegal sexual acts with women at the day spa in Jupiter, Florida, but we're also expecting to learn the evidence that investigators have against these men. You mentioned police say surveillance captured these paid acts. We're told that the state attorney will be sharing with us the probable cause affidavit that led a judge to file these charges. In those we expect what was captured on video to be described to us in graphic and likely very uncomfortable details. When it comes to the question of what happens next for Kraft, if he is in fact charged with the two counts of solicitation for a prostitute, those are misdemeanor charges. We know he has obtained a defense attorney here in the palm beach area. And we're told that that defense attorney gave the state attorney's office the palm beach address of Robert Kraft so that's where he would be summoned from. But here, the onus is on Kraft to turn himself in. Nobody is going to be knocking down his door here in Florida or trying to extradite him from Massachusetts. It's on him to show up here and turn himself in, which we don't expect him to do. He has every right to deal with this entirely through his attorney, communicating with the state's attorney's office here in palm beach and as a first-time offender, we're told by the state attorney's office, it is very unlikely he would see any jail time. The maximum penalty being 60 days in jail, but more likely, community service, maybe a fine, maybe an educational component.
BALDWIN: OK. We wait for those details with you in West Palm Beach. We'll take the news conference when it begins.
President Trump is in the air flying to Hanoi, Vietnam, for his second summit with Kim Jong-Un. As the President works toward a future of denuclearization, his past just may steal the spotlight from this major foreign policy event. You see, President Trump's long-time personal fixer, Michael Cohen, will finally testify before Congress this week and while Cohen can't talk the Russia investigation, the now convicted felon can open up about a lot of other issue before he heads to prison May 6th. He pleaded guilty to tax fraud, making false statements and campaign violations and on top of all of this, the President's national emergency declaration to build a border wall will face its first official challenge from Capitol Hill. Those three stories playing out in a big way and most of it in public view all before this Friday. So, let's get to what happens when. I have with me now, CNN politics reporter, Chris Cillizza with me. So, the wild week to come. Hit me.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes, enjoy today, I guess. Let's go through day by day. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday. So, here's what we got. Nancy Pelosi is down here because the House is going to vote on that resolution to say Donald Trump can't declare a state of emergency on the border.
[14:05:00] Remember, if that goes through, 18 days until the Senate must by law act on it. Michael Cohen is testifying, but it's behind closed doors, so we're not going to hear really, unless we hear from people coming out. This is the big one. Michael Cohen testifying. House oversight committee. We waited and waited for it. As of right now, we're here. We have two days, day and a half, maybe things could change. We expect him to do this. A big moment. Now he's not going to talk, very unlikely to talk about the Russia investigation. It's an ongoing investigation, but maybe he will talk about what he's pled guilty to, which he said he paid off Stormy Daniels and orchestrated the payment of Karen McDougal to keep them quiet during the 2016 election at the direction of Donald Trump. Which if you believe Cohen's version of things, makes Donald Trump an unindicted conspirator. Maybe three quarters of the world away from here in Vietnam, we'll have the first day of the summit. Now over here, I'll get out of the way even more. We have Cohen again testifying on Capitol Hill, behind closed doors. Two little Cohens, one big one. The 27th is the one to watch.
Again, we have the summit. The second summit and we still have a debate by the way. Are they de-nuclearizing? Mike Pompeo said something yesterday. OK, let's go to it. Our colleague wrote a good piece. So, this is kind of what you're seeing. You have on the one side, what could be legitimately if a real peace treaty could be negotiated, it could be signature foreign policy of Donald Trump's presidency to date. Maybe throughout even if it goes eight years. On the other, you have the guy who fixed all of Donald Trump's problems. He has turned on Donald Trump. He is now telling his story or is going on Wednesday to tell that story publicly. We really have not heard September for drips here and an interview here or there, what he has said in open court. Really haven't heard the Michael Cohen story. He's not going to tell all of it, but more than we've heard. We'll hear it from his mouth. It's an open hearing. You have this, I feel like this is true of Donald Trump. So many things Donald Trump does. We could put another one in here, which is just sort of the Mueller investigation for the tri split screen.
Maybe if it's not this week, we get the report the week after. A cloud that kind of looms over this. This is what he sort of creates. He is that kind of guy. He's a television producer. You've got two huge stories to watch. This potentially amazingly good for him, this may be striking at the heart of his presidency. Both happening at the same time.
BALDWIN: So, Wednesday is the biggie of the big week. Got you. Thank you so much. Analyze a lot of what you just threw down. Gloria Borger is with me, so starting with the Stephen Collinson split screen peace deal, Kim Jong-un on one side versus the guy who turned on Trump and is going to prison for lying, who are you looking more for forward to, will pique most curiosity?
GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm surprised at the Democrats for having it at the same time the President is abroad in a very important meeting with Kim Jong-un. The President will be asleep one would think, for a lot of the Cohen testimony. And if the Democrats want to say this is above partisanship, it's interesting they're having it while the President is overseas. Not normal procedure, but nothing that's normal these days. So, you know that's my first instinct here. But let me say that Michael Cohen's going to have a lot to say as you pointed out earlier, you sort of circumscribed about what he can say publicly about the Russia investigation. But he can tell us if the Democrats ask him and I presume they will about whether he was directed to lie to Congress by anybody. Who directed him on the hush money to the mistresses? How did the Trump Organization operate? The President's taxes.
BALDWIN: Family members.
BORGER: Family members. All kinds of things. The Republicans of course, Brooke, are going to be saying that Michael Cohen has absolutely no credibility. That he's a proven liar. That he's been indicted for lying and you shouldn't listen to him.
BALDWIN: All of that potentially coming down when they'll be questioning him on Wednesday, which we'll tune into and take the whole thing live, but as I'm also thinking of the President in Vietnam, my mind is on Asia. How significant is it that there looks to be a trade deal with China? How significant for the President on this, not only economically right back home, but politically? Not only economically right back home but politically.
BORGER: I think it's very significant. I think it's good news depending on what the deal is. That the tariffs you saw how Wall Street was reacting to these things. And I think that in the end, if it's a good deal, this is going to be very good for the President of the United States. He'll be able to say I was a great negotiator, et cetera, but the proof is in the pudding here. We've got to look at the details. If he wants to invite him to Mar-A-Lago to talk about this, let's see how it develops. He's pushed off that deadline for over the weekend for the tariffs to take effect. So, if it works, it works and it will be good for him.
BALDWIN: Thank you very much.
As Chris had reported, tomorrow, Democrats officially begin their challenge of the President's national emergency to fund construction of his wall. They plan to introduce a resolution in the House to block it. Now to help back their case, nearly 60 of the top names in national security and diplomacy, both Republicans and Democrats, are speaking out today. Against the President's declaration and you're looking at pictures at a few of the officials who include several past secretaries of state and heads of national security. Let's go to CNN SENIOR national correspondent Alex Marquardt with this. So, all these people signing their names. What is the crux of this letter?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR National Correspondent: Yes, this is a wholesale joint bipartisan loud rejection of the President declaring this national emergency. You have 58 of the biggest names in the national security apparatus who have been in charge of the country's national security for the past decade who have come out and in no uncertain terms with the rejection over the President's announcement. It is an 11-page statement --
BALDWIN: Excuse me, let's go to Florida. This is the Robert Kraft story where he could be charged, this is the state's attorney in Palm Beach County.
DAVE ARONBERG, STATE'S ATTORNEY IN PALM BEACH COUNTY: To commit prostitution. Pursuant to sections 797, 2f and 5a1 of the Florida statutes. This charge is a first-degree misdemeanor. Punishable by one year in jail. Mandatory $5,000 fine. 100 hours of community service and a class on the dangers of constitution and human trafficking. We also expect to receive packets with two women who have been arrested by the police department for among other things, reports from the proceeds of prostitution, which is a second-degree felony. All defendants are presumed innocent at this point. The charges begin with court process with local defendants, a summons to appear in court. The defendant will have an issue, which is essentially a low-level warrant. He'll have to either surrender or have an attorney contact law enforcement to satisfy the warrant. First off, this will publicly release court dates for those receiving a summons and the name of all defendants will be released and actually, they have been already. The names have been released by the Jupiter Police Department. I'd like to thank the men and women of the Jupiter police department for their professionalism and diligence in investigating these cases. Our ongoing partnership with local law enforcement that helps keep our community safe. You can tell a lot about our community by the way it treats its most vulnerable individuals and that includes victims of human trafficking. Which is modern day slavery. Human trafficking is the business of stealing someone's freedom for profit. Including it could happen anywhere, including in the peaceful community of Jupiter, Florida. In 2017, our office joined with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and FBI to help start a human trafficking task force. We are pleased with our progress, but we realize there's a lot more to do.
[14:15:00] These cases aren't about any one defendant or any group of defendants. The larger picture, which we must confront, is the cold reality that many prostitutes in cases like this are themselves victims. Often lured into this country with promises of a better life only to be forced to live and work in a sweatshop or a brothel performing sex acts for strangers. Human trafficking is built on forced fraud or coercion. It is evil in our midst. It is also fueled by the demand side. Demands from otherwise law-abiding citizens who are not aware or don't want to be aware about those being exploited. Human trafficking often occurs in plain sight, which is why I'm hopeful these cases will encourage people to say something if they see something and for victims of this unreported crime to gain the courage to let their voices be heard. With that, I'd like to take any questions you may have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please identify yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible)
ARONBERG: No. If they are local residents, if they live in Palm Beach County, they will receive a summons in the mail. It's like a ticket. A notice to appear in court. And that court date is, can be found through the clerk's office. If they are from out of the county, then they're subject to a capias, a low-level warrant. And that one, they would either have to surrender to the authorities or they could have an attorney reach out and satisfy the warrant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible)
ARONBERG: There is no requirement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any kind of evidence any of these people knew (inaudible)
ARONBERG: Well, the matters are still being investigated. And I don't want to get too much into the details of the case because this is a pending matter. But I can say this. That so far, there have been no charges of human trafficking in any of these cases, but that could change in the future depending on what the investigators find.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigations are months long, last a while. (inaudible)
ARONBERG: Those are questions for the police. The police engaged in a multi-month investigation then turned over a filing packets to our office for prosecution. I think the question would be more geared towards the investigators. They're very professional and I think they did an outstanding job. So, it's always a balance as you say. Between letting the them gain enough evidence to file charges and stepping in and stopping it, but that is really a question for the investigators. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are the women who were working in those brothels? Do you think state law is sufficient to deal with this situation?
ARONBERG: I was a state senator when we tightened the laws against human trafficking. Florida law is very strong against human trafficking. It is a first-degree felony. For most cases of adult human trafficking. When it comes to child human trafficking, it is a life felony. And if there's force involved, some violence, and adult human trafficking would become a potential life felony. So, our punishments are severe, but there's a high burden of proof. You need to reach that burden of proof and that's always a question in these cases, which is why these investigations can take some time. But one thing I'll mention about Florida flaw is that it's very progressive. If victims will speak up, they're eligible to have their records expunged, including arrests for prostitution, but they need to speak up. At the federal level, victims are eligible for a visa that can allow them to stay many the country and it's only reserved for victims of human trafficking. So, the key is to get the victims to speak up.
[14:20:06] Well the women now, I know that the investigators have been talking with them and you have to get details from those agencies such as Jupiter Police Department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida has a new law that protects victims of crime from having their information revealed. Is there any way that the Johns here are considered victims?
ARONBERG: No. Marcie's Law does not protect defendants. It protects victims of crime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From CBS 12. These documents you just handed out put Robert Kraft in the parlor on the morning of the AFC championship game. Is that correct? He was in Florida that morning?
ARONBERG: Well, the documents speak for themselves. They'll be handed out and I know that we don't always give out those documents, but because the police department identified the names in advance and you've had the names for some time, we decided to in the interest of transparency, so let you have those documents, but they speak for themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Influence and money and power connection. Is there any reason to believe that Kraft would be treated any differently than these other 24 men?
ARONBERG: I can assure you that our office treats everyone the same. Whether you have a lot of money or you were indigent, we treat all defendants the same and no one gets any special justice in Palm Beach County. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You expect more arrests to come from other
similar businesses in Palm Beach County?
ARONBERG: Hard to say because the investigators of the Jupiter Police then you have the Martin County Sheriff's Department, Vero Beach. It's a multicounty effort. It's hard to say if there are more arrests based on their investigations, but I was asked about rumors of bigger fish and I said that would be news to me. I also added that it's hard for me to talk about rumor, especially false ones.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible)
ARONBERG: There are two cases there. Two counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has your office decided to go from a second-degree misdemeanor, what was it -- to what is the motion to do with this case?
ARONBERG: Well all the cases are being charged as first-degree misdemeanors under the tougher Florida statute. One reason why that decision was made was because it has a mandatory 100 hours of community service. A mandatory $5,000 fine and a mandatory class on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking. Not to mention, a potential for an increased jail sentence from 60 days to a year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Multiple homes here and up in Massachusetts, California, will he be given a capias or summons.
ARONBERG: There was a question whether or not Mr. Kraft lived here in Palm Beach County and I believe we decided to, it was a summons, so he has a residence here, so he'd be receiving a summons. Oh, the question is when you get a summons in the mail, generally do not get a mug shot. That's up to the police department. It's not up to us. It's up to the local law enforcement agency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has he been sent that summons?
ARONBERG: His attorney has been provided the summons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) Are you happy with the way it's being handled?
ARONBERG: I think law enforcement has done an excellent job. Very professional and thorough and they've helped steer the conversation away from any one particular defendant towards the evil of human trafficking. It's about time the country has a real conversation about human trafficking, which is modern day slavery in our midst. This is not about lonely old men or victimless crimes. This is about enabling a network of criminals to traffic women into our country for forced labor and sex.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you know there were 25 people charged? Weren't there a lot more? [14:25:04] ARONBERG: Those were the ones charged by the Jupiter
police department. When I talk about human trafficking, I'm talking about the general subject of human trafficking. The larger picture. There is no allegation that any of the defendants were involved with human trafficking. They are not being charged as such. But instead of talk about a particular defendant, I'd like to make the conversation broader because this country needs to have a reality check on what's going on when it comes to forced labor and forced sexual conduct.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When did you first hear about --
ARONBERG: Well our prosecutors have been involved in this for some time. It's hard to pinpoint. I've been aware of it for a while.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you think when you first heard it?
ARONBERG: I've been involved in fighting human trafficking for a while. So, nothing surprises me. I give a lot of speeches. I'm on the Attorney General's statewide task force for human trafficking, so when this came across my desk, I wasn't surprised. I'm not surprised of the defendants. They come from every socioeconomic group. Just a reality of the times we live in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think needs to be done on the supply side of this?
ARONBERG: It's a good question. What should be cone on the supply side to stop human trafficking? Well, the laws are in place and we need to do better about encouraging victims to speak up. Because victims don't know there are services available to them. They don't know they could get their criminal records expunged or obtain a special visa to remain in this country. So, if we would treat victims in the matter as victims and not criminals, I think you would gain the trust of more individuals to speak up on these matters because right now, they come from country where is the police are not their friends so they need know that we're here to help them. And treat them as the victims they are. Terry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Palm Beach County has a lot of spectacular enterprise type businesses and they have for years. I reported on it all those years. (inaudible)
ARONBERG: Our task force works with law enforcement to root out human trafficking at the store front or internet. A lot occurs on the internet. Facebook is a popular site used by human traffickers to recruit and groom victims. We're working on them on a daily basis. T but there's a high burden of proof. We prosecutors can only file cases that reach the level of burden of proof that we can obtain beyond a reasonable doubt and so these cases are long in the making, but we hope sometimes, some of them can make a big enough splash to send a message to the rest of the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What agencies you work with?
ARONBERG: Our task force works with the FBI. And the Department of Homeland Security.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the victims cooperating?
ARONBERG: That's up to investigators. They're working with them on it. I can't say much on the status of that. (inaudible) police can charge based on probable cause. Is it more probable or not that a crime has occurred? For prosecutors to charge, we have to have a good belief that we can get a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt u. It's why sometimes we'll see police are charge some cases and we'll decide not to file charges. That's why we're having this press conference because we made the decision that enough evidence exists to file charges in all 25 of these cases. I'll get you next. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible)
ARONBERG: I don't understand how someone can be targeted. You look at all the defendants in this matter. They come from all walks of life. Rich, poor, there's young and old. So, I don't believe anyone is targeted for whom they are. Over here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Women are considered victims, is the video evidence (inaudible)
ARONBERG: The individuals involved were working with them and I can't speak more about it as far as the victims to gain more information, but it should not affect our ability to use video ultimately if we need to in court.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the most important thing to meet that high burden of proof?
ARONBERG: Well, the video evidence always very powerful in a court of law. You also have the testimony of some of the victims. I know that if many cases like this, there are language barriers and there are interpreters needed. We're working on all those things. Listen, I'll get you next. Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any possibility that those who have been charged can somehow --
[14:30:00] ARONBERG: There are programs and classes available. So just because the mandatory penalty is up to a year in jail doesn't mean someone's going to get that. If it goes to trial, it's up to a judge and you look at the person's background. First time offenders are unlikely to get significant jail time. Depending on the plea, the background, the conduct, these are all considerations that come into play.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your office is open to plea of a lesser charge.
[14:30:00] We don't talk about the status. That goes into too much detail that I can talk about at the time. Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk about the women? How did they get their story-- ARONBERG: Yes, that would be for the Jupiter police department. I
say in cases like this, and I talk about in generalities because I can't speak to the specific evidence. I can't talk about where they came from or how we broke this case because that could jeopardize any potential prosecutions, so just say in cases like this, it is not uncommon for women to be lured into this country under false pretenses with the promise of a better life, a high paying job only to be stuck in squalor in a brothel or a sweatshop.