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Palm Beach County State Attorney Says Kraft, Other Defendants Could Face 1 Year in Jail for Soliciting Sex; Columnist: Bob Kraft, Jeffrey Epstein Examples of Billionaires Behaving Badly, especially with Women; 20 House Democrats Call on Trump to Fire Labor Secretary; Interview with Democratic Presidential Candidate John Delaney. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 25, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: -- jeopardize any potential prosecutions. So let's 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 where they're forced to perform Labor or sex acts for money.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you clarify how this process works for Robert Kraft? You said you determined he is a resident of Palm Beach County. They're issuing a summons. Does that mean he has to appear in court or can he send an attorney?

ARONBERG: Yes, it's a summons, so he does not have to make a public court appearance.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So he can send an attorney?

ARONBERG: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: One or two charges?

ARONBERG: Two.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

ARONBERG: How important is the cooperation?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

ARONBERG: If it goes to trial, their testimony could be helpful. But you know if there's video evidence, that's always very powerful. But I don't want to talk specifically to the evidence, but in general, video, eyewitness testimony, are all important for any trial.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Palm Beach County -- (INAUDIBLE)

ARONBERG: That was three administrations ago.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I understand. To set the record straight, how are you handling it?

ARONBERG: Florida voters passed Marcie's Law, a victim's bill of rights. We have already had a training session for all the prosecutors. And we are adhering to Marcie's Law. As someone who campaign ed for it, it's really important to all of us. We must let the victim's voices be heard.

Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

ARONBERG: Correct. Correct. It depends on the judge and the court. The judge imposes a sentence. Now if there's a plea, then we have a lot more to say in it, but this is all speculation. It's still early.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

ARONBERG: We work on Sober Homes Task Force and when it came to drug treatment centers, we're often frustrated that the inspections that occurred were just to see if the fire extinguishers were working. So we upgraded the laws to increase the demands. Maybe that needs to be done here, too. Maybe there should be increased scrutiny.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

ARONBERG: There are 328 million Americans and 800,000 law enforcement officers, so it's up to all of us to be the eyes and ears to protect against human trafficking. Because a lot of the stuff occurs in plain sight. Like the nail salon worker who is living in the back room and who's not allowed to handle money and is afraid the look at you in the eye. If you see something, say something. And maybe that's the good that can come out of all this. Maybe we'll have a new understanding of what human trafficking is and isn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last question, please.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

ARONBERG: There were two different occurrences, in which he's been charged.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

ARONBERG: It is what it is. Instead of one charge, there are two counts, so he faces two separate counts. Have to satisfy those counts with a plea and move on from there.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

ARONBERG: He could. He could.

Take one more?

All right. Thank you all very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. ARONBERG: Thank you.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so two pieces here. Number one, obviously, that news conference was dominated by you heard the state's attorney there in Palm Beach County talking about modern day slavery, human trafficking, this whole ring that the Jupiter police and law enforcement there, over the course of several months, you know, brought to light. And as a result of that, 25 people he was just saying were charged. Now they were charged with soliciting prostitution, which is different than being involved in human trafficking, but he was spotlighting that as a human atrocity.

But the other piece is Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, he faces two counts of soliciting prostitution, possibly a fine.

Areva Martin, attorneys and CNN legal analyst is with me, and criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, Mark O'Mara, are with me.

I just want to jump right in.

Mark, with you on the legal of this, so with regard to Robert Kraft, he's one of 25 individuals all part of this, you know, ring who are charged with soliciting in order to commit prostitution. Sounds like he doesn't even need to show up. What does he face legally speaking here?

[14:35:17] MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: Legally, he faces one year on each count for a total of two years and the potential of a $1,000 fine under the general statute. But there's a specific statute to this crime which requires a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and mandatory attendance at a class. So generally speaking, he doesn't need to show up. He's going to work something out with his attorney and the prosecutors. But one thing he needs to be careful about, once the discovery is forwarded to the des, it becomes public record in a Florida law, meaning that video, though it might be edited to a certain extent to protect the victim, is going to be available for the general public. My advice to Kraft is to work something out quickly and get it done before that discovery is out officially. And he won't take this advice. But he could now, since he's in the center of this little mini storm, he could come out, acknowledge what he did -- it's on video -- then maybe even use some of his billions to address the issue that the prosecutor spent so much time on, which is human trafficking.

(CROSSTALK)

O'MARA: Fifteen years ago, in this kind of work, it was the prostitutes we were focused on. Now finally we're looking at the people causing or forcing them to do what they do. That really needs to be the focus.

BALDWIN: Hearing, Areva, the sheriff, I was reading a quote from him this morning talking about really the mop centers or the men and this was a rescue operation. I mean, what happens to these women now?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what we heard that state attorney talk about is helping these victims, these women will come forward. He talked about programs available to them. Both under state law and federal law. And although I was encouraged to hear the state attorney talk about trying to provide help for the victims, I'm by the amount of what I'll say focus on the victims. The reality is if you're forced into sex trafficking or human trafficking, you're not likely to have the kind of trust with law enforcement that would, you know, propel you to come forward. I wish the laws were tougher on these men who are soliciting sex from these women who were forced into prostitution. And I agree, 15 years ago, this was a different conversation. But given it's 2019, this conversation needs to be a lot further along and we need to be talking about a lot stiffer penalties for men who participate in sex trafficking. Potential of one year, that really comes down to a diversion program, 100 hours of community service and education class. That's all we're really talking about for these 25 men engaged in this very, very serious crimes. Crimes that there are victims. I love that the prosecutor said this isn't a victimless crime. These are real women who have suffered real harm.

BALDWIN: I'm glad he talked about it as much he did, and maybe to Mark's point, maybe Bob Kraft puts some of his money in a good place as a result of this.

Mark O'Mara, Areva Martin, thank you both so much. Appreciate that.

O'MARA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: My next guest says Patriots owner, Bob Kraft, along with former New York hedge fund manager, Jeffrey Epstein, are just the latest examples of billionaires behaving badly, especially when it comes to women who are younger, have less means, and in his words, "are disposable."

Will Bunch is a national columnist for the "Philadelphia Enquirer."

Will, thank you so much for coming on.

Your piece touched a lot of us. Reading it this morning and you write that this is a, quote, "day of reckoning," and even as you acknowledge some wealthy men have been doing this for decades. So why do you think it's different this time? The reckoning.

WILL BUNCH, NATIONAL COLUMNIST, PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER: Well, yes, I think we are having a day of reckoning. I was encouraged by the language from the state's attorney in the way he talked ed from the state's attorney in the way he talked about this case. When the news about Kraft broke on Friday, the first reaction was to see this as a sports story. I'm from Philadelphia, everyone hates the Patriots, right, or this is a lonely old man. I know some people said it. That was addressed in the news conference. I think the real issue here is the power imbalance and I think people are seeing this in so many cases where elites in America aren't being held accountable these days.

In my column, I address not only Kraft, but Jeffrey Epstein, the hedge fund billionaire accused and investigated for abusing young girls at his Palm Beach mansion on a scale that really rivalled Jerry Sandusky in terms of numbers of victims. Yet, unlike Jerry Sandusky, he was given an incredible slap on the wrist. A 13-month sleep in the jail at night and go to a luxurious office during the day sentence. Immunity from any federal charges. And the person who oversaw that deal, Alex Acosta, was rewarded by Donald Trump and made Labor Secretary of the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

BUNCH: And -- yes?

[14:40:18] BALDWIN: No, I want to jump in. You're making all your points. I wanted to home in on the NFL statement. The league's personal conduct policy applies to everyone. But you write that no one should be shocked when Bob Kraft essentially speaking of slaps on the wrist. When he gets the slap on the wrist and you spotlighted this tweet. From "New York Times" best-selling author, Jeff Pearlman, who wrote this, "The NFL will absolve Robert Kraft of any and all sins because you can solicit prostitutes, punch women, kill dogs, do drugs upon drugs, just can't kneel to protest against African-Americans."

Does the NFL have an accountability problem and if so, how does that change?

BUNCH: You saw Kareem Hunt who was accused of violence against a woman was almost immediately solicited by other teams and just signed a contract with the Browns and we have a long history of them looking the other way. You know there's three big power imbalances in this country right now. There's the income inequality, the powerful billionaires. The patriarchy imbalance and white privilege imbalance. It's fascinating the only person who was really punished by the NFL, the racial power imbalance. And I think the NFL with its history now of with the wrist slaps, they're under a lot of pressure. They need to handle this situation with some sensitivity towards the female victims here.

BALDWIN: Will Bunch, with the "Philadelphia Enquirer," thank you so much for your piece and your words. I appreciate it.

BUNCH: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We were just talking about Jeffrey Epstein. Democrats are now calling one of the president's cabinet members to resign after a judge ruled that Alex Acosta broke the law by giving the billionaire a sweetheart deal in his sex abuse case. We'll talk more about that.

Also, Senator Elizabeth Warren vows not to attend fundraisers or take phone calls from wealthy donors as a candidate for the primaries. Is that even realistic?

And the Oscars have everyone talking today. While diversity was on display, the best picture winner did not get the same praise. We'll discuss that.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:48:05] BALDWIN: Twenty House Democrats are demanding Trump fire his Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. The new development comes after a federal judge ruled Acosta, serving as U.S. attorney in Miami, broke the law by arranging a pretty sweetheart deal with Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of sexually abusing dozens of underaged girls.

CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, is with me now.

Jessica, what are the Democrats saying?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, so these House Democrats, they're really reiterating these big questions about the plea deal Acosta arranged for Epstein. That's when he was U.S. attorney in Miami and now these 20 Democrats are saying the president needs to demand Acosta's resignation from his Labor secretary position and the president needs to do it soon so they sent this two page letter to the president where they accused Acosta of suck coming to the pressure of his powerful defense team in 2008 when Acosta and other prosecutors in Miami essentially let Epstein off the hook. They gave him 13 months in the county jail which allowed him to avoid trial and even shut down the FBI investigation into those allegations that Epstein sexually abuse d more than 30 underaged girls. So last week, a federal judge in Florida ruled that Acosta and other officials at the Department of Justice broke the law by not notifying the alleged victims of this plea deal and really actively concealing the negotiations.

So now these 20 Democrats are writing in the letter this. They say, "As members of Congress, we are committed to ensuring that those who occupy top positions in the federal government are held to the highest standards of the law. We strongly believe that Secretary Acosta was negligent in his duty to represent the best interest of the victims and the U.S. government, and as such, we request that you immediately demand his letter of resignation." That letter to the president.

Now, Brooke, Acosta and the White House, they haven't yet responded to this latest call from House Democrats that he resign. The last we heard about this was from the Labor Department and they defended his involvement in that 2008 plea deal last week after the judge ruled. And the Labor Department said that the plea deal itself was approved by the Department of Justice leadership at the time. So no response yet. But they continue to really defend this plea deal that happened in 2008 -- Brooke?

[14:50:30] BALDWIN: Jessica Schneider, thank you very much.

Meantime, former Democratic Senator Harry Reid speaking to Dana Bash. He is giving 2020 candidates advice. We'll talk with one of those candidates, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:55:10] BALDWIN: Senator Elizabeth Warren is making a promise to her supporters. The Massachusetts Democrat says she will hold no fundraiser, no dinners, no phone calls with wealthy donors. Senator Warren has not yet held a single fundraiser since she announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee. She has disavowed accepting PAC money and donations from federal lobbyists. This may be seen as a criticism or challenge to Democratic competitors.

Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney was the first Democrat to formally announce his 2020 presidential run in July.

Congressman Delaney, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us.

Thanks for having me, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let me dive in on this Elizabeth Warren news here because you were one of the wealthiest members of Congress. Here is Senator Warren. She is obviously doing this in part to stand out. You know from people like you. Her competitors. How do you respond to this?

JOHN DELANEY, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don't take any PAC money or any corporate money either. I mean my campaign is focused on the issues that matter to the American people. I'm not sure this issue matters that much to the American people. They want to know you're going to put their interests first, which is what I'm committed to doing. That you're not taking money from PACs and that you're focused on solving the b problems that affect their day-to-day lives. Health care or pharmaceutical prices or whatever the case may be.

BALDWIN: But obviously money matters in politics. You have to raise the money to run. So if she won't meet with these mega affluent donors, go to these fundraisers, accept phone calls, do you think she should accept their checks?

DELANEY: You know, I don't really have any opinion on what Senator Warren does in terms of how she plans on funding her campaign or who she raises money for. Any of that stuff is not really relevant to what I care about and what I care about is talking to voters about what they care about and solving problems that affect their lives and laying out a vision for our country's future and addressing some of the big issues we have. Whether it be climate change or the effect of technology and automation is having on our workforce. These are the issues that really matter to the American people and I think every campaign's got different strategies. I've got my strategy. I'm sure she's thought through hers.

BALDWIN: Here's a big issue on foreign policy. The president as we speak is up in the air on his way to Vietnam for his second summit with Kim Jong-Un and if you were president of the United States, how would you be tackling North Korea?

DELANEY: Well, I would insist on denuclearization of North Korea. That should be our goal from this summit.

BALDWIN: How is this different from what Trump wants?

DELANEY: I think it is what he wants. So, listen, I hope this summit is successful. I mean, North Korea possessing nuclear weapons and the destabilizing force they have in the region and potentially around the world, everyone should care about that, Democrats, Republicans, Independents. I hope this summit is successful. I hope --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Would you want to meet with Kim Jong-Un as well?

DELANEY: I have nothing against engaging diplomatically. And if I thought I could deliver an outcome that was positive for the American people, I absolutely would meet with him. Now the key is not to give up too much. I do worry that the president, where he waves the flag and says he got something big out of North Korea, he agrees to do something that really hurts the interest of the United States of America like pulling our troops out of the Asia-Pacific region, for example. I do not think he should do that for almost any concession with North Korea. I mean, North Korea is the isolated nation it is because of bad behavior. I think they have an opportunity to potentially re-enter the world stage if you will, economically, if they agree to denuclearize. That should be enough incentive for them to do that.

BALDWIN: Sure.

DELANEY: We should insist on a deal that we can verify, inspect, we can find out what we're doing. We shouldn't be pulling our troops out of the region to get North Korea to do something like this. I worry about the deal he cuts, but every American should root for a successful outcome.

BALDWIN: Congressman Delaney, you mentioned climate change as something that matters to you.

DELANEY: Yes.

BALDWIN: The news that came out in the last 24 hours is the fact the White House is assembling this ad-hoc group of scientists to reevaluate climate science conclusions. So translation, the president wants skeptics to discredit his own government's assessment of climate science.

DELANEY: Right.

BALDWIN: And his pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations just said that about climate change. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do yourself believe in climate change?

KELLY KNIGHT CRAFT, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S NOMINEE FOR U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I believe there are signs on both sides that are accurate.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You believe there's science that proves there is -- man is not causing climate change?

CRAFT: I think both sides have their own results from their studies and I appreciate and I respect both sides of the science.

(END VIDEO CLIP)