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Manafort in Court for Sentencing; College Admissions Scandal Update; Senate Vote on Yemen War; Cardinal Pell Sentenced to Six Years. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 13, 2019 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Charges that he pleaded guilty to.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.

PROKUPECZ: I do think that's significant. Judge --

BROWN: And lying.

PROKUPECZ: And lying. Judges treat that very seriously.

BROWN: This is -- this is a culmination, though, of a two year -- nearly two year investigation under Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and it's expected to get underway at any moment now, this final sentencing for Paul Manafort.

Back to you in the studio.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, guys, stay there because there's a lot to cover in the next few hours here.

Pam, Shimon, we appreciate it.

Let's discuss. Dana Bash, our chief political correspondent, is here. Paul Callan, former prosecutor, former New York City homicide prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers, former federal prosecutor.

Look, this is the judge, Paul, who revoked his bail for coaching witnesses. This is someone who said, you know, you're treating this as a marketing exercise and not a criminal case. And she will be considering that he lied under oath, that he broke his plea deal, that he flouted the gag order, that he tampered with witnesses and also the financial crimes here.

What are you expecting as a sentence?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there's a lot on her plate, but of course going into this sentencing, we have the precedent of the very lenient sentence that was handed down by Judge Ellis of approximately four years in prison. Now, of course, she's not bound by that. She can sentence him for up to ten years.

But the thing we're really looking for is, will these sentences be consecutive? That is, will he have to serve the four of Ellis first and then follow up with her sentence? So if, for instance, she gave him two years to run consecutive, he would wind up having to serve a total of six years in prison. But, she can also impose concurrent sentencing, and he could wind up getting no additional jail time. So those are the range of options that she has available to her.

HARLOW: Meaning -- can you just explain concurrent sentencing to everyone. That means that the time served in the other sentence would count toward this sentence?

CALLAN: No, if concurrent -- well, yes. concurrent sentencing means you're serving both sentences together.

HARLOW: At the same time? All right.

CALLAN: Yes. One judge gives you four years --

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: You don't adding one on top of the other.

CALLAN: The other -- consecutive is adding one on top of the other.

SCIUTTO: Right.

This is happening as we speak. Outside -- inside the courthouse, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, she has taken her seat at the bench. Paul Manafort's family also in the courtroom. Paul Manafort in a wheelchair wearing a suit. Not, as Pamela Brown noted earlier, the prison fatigues, as it were, that he was wearing in his previous appearance.

Jennifer, let me ask you this. So you had another sentencing last week, as you know, that many have criticized. Can Judge Ellis legally factor that in to her decision today and say, listen, that judge was soft, I'm going to go hard, or does she have to separate the two?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So Judge Jackson can do basically whatever she wants. A judge is allowed to take anything into consideration at sentencing unless it's constitutionally impermissible, like race, or gender, things like that. So she really can consider the totality of the circumstances.

I think that she is not going to at least overtly consider Judge Ellis' sentence because I think her view is going to be, you know, I have my own case, I have my own sentence to consider here. But as Paul said, while she's capped by a statutory maximum of ten years, the guidelines range, which is advisory but the judges are bound to consider it at least, is above ten years. So, you know, in the kind of standard issue case here, she would give a ten-year sentence because that is still below the guidelines range.

I do think she will give a concurrent sentence. That is the standard thing to do. It is unusual to give a consecutive sentence here. So, you know --

HARLOW: Even for different crimes?

RODGERS: That's right. That's right. And, you know, judges can do it but they rarely do, you know. And

sometimes it's because the statutory maximum in the case that the later judge is considering is high enough so that they can give a guideline sentence.

SCIUTTO: Right.

RODGERS: And so they just feel like it's enough time. So we'll see what she does, but, you know, my prediction, for what it's worth, is that she'll give ten years concurrent.

HARLOW: All right, we'll know soon.

Dana Bash, if she does, if Judge Amy Berman Jackson doesn't go to ten years and sort of shocks everyone with an Ellis-like sentence, does that give the president, the administration, ammunition here to make the public argument, in the court of public opinion, that Mueller has overreached?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't -- I don't think that what the judge today is going to do is going to matter very much with regard to ammunition because the Trump administration, the president himself, his lawyers, I mean they are all in on the notion of overreach. They are all in on the notion of -- and the president said point blank he feels bad for Paul Manafort. And the Manafort attorney not so subtly last week went out to the cameras and said, no collusion. I mean it doesn't take somebody who is an expert in sort of reading between the lines to see what he was trying to do there. Paul Manafort didn't do the ultimate, you know, crime, or at least the mission that the Mueller investigation is going into, and he was speaking Donald Trump's language, no collusion. Hint, hint, you know, wink, wink, we could use a pardon over here, Mr. President.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

[09:35:08] BASH: I mean there's no question that that was what that was about.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's remarkable.

Jennifer Rodgers, the issue of overreach, because -- and you're a former federal prosecutor. You know something about how prosecutors operate here. And I have spoken to lawyers and folks who are not in the Trump administration who have said to me, this is pretty aggressive. The guy broke the law, no question, but you wouldn't see a typical defendant get so aggressively prosecuted but also sentenced in this way. Do you buy that criticism?

RODGERS: Well, you know, listen, I think there is some truth to the fact that they came on his radar because of this Mueller investigation and starting to look at some of these people. But, you know, the mission of the FBI and federal prosecutors is to prosecute crime where you find it. And so when they started looking at him and started seeing all of these things, I'm not surprised that they started to prepare charges on him. And when they do that, you charge with everything that you have. I mean there's actually rules at the Department of Justice that require you to charge someone with the highest count that you have evidence for.

HARLOW: Just -- sorry to jump in for one minute. Let's get over to Shimon Prokupecz outside the courthouse.

What are you learning, Shimon?

PROKUPECZ: Right. So we're getting some color from inside court. Obviously this just getting underway in the last few minutes. And a couple of notes here from the judge. She says that what's happening today cannot be a review or revision of what's happening in another court. Obviously, given what happened last week with the four-year sentence for Paul Manafort, she addresses that issue. Obviously a lot of people very unhappy about that sentence. She says, whatever happened there is completely separate from what she is going to do today.

She then said that the sentencing -- the max sentencing -- sentence that she could impose today is ten years, and then that the recommendation ended up being more than ten years in the other case. And so really she's laying out what the guidelines are for her today and how she is going to address what's before her, separate from anything that occurred last week.

BROWN: And she said that there are two main focuses today, whether Manafort had a leadership role in the offenses and whether he has accepted responsibility for the crimes that he did plead guilty to. But then, as we know, he violated the plea deal according to prosecutors. And so we're going to be looking for how much the judge takes that into account, the witness tampering, the lying, how much of that will factor in to whatever sentence he is given.

And what we're also looking for today is whether she stacks years on top of the nearly four years he's already been given or whether she says they should run concurrent. That is something else we're going to be looking for today. So this is underway.

PROKUPECZ: Right. And also keep in mind the fact that he pleaded guilty will play a role in this. And I think the lawyers, you know, sitting there with you guys are better to explain this, but that is something that judges take into consideration during a sentencing, the fact that someone has pleaded guilty, has admitted it. This, obviously, case is very different because there have been a lot of complications since he pleaded guilty because he lied to the special counsel's office.

Back to you guys.

HARLOW: And a pretty late guilty plea at that, right?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Guys, great reporting. Stay by -- stand by. Everyone stay with us.

There is a lot going on this morning.

Also, a warrant this morning is out for the arrest of the actress, Lori Loughlin.

SCIUTTO: This story is beyond belief.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: I mean it's insane. Yes.

HARLOW: We can't believe it, but it allegedly happened. Lori Loughlin, of course, the actress you known, best known as Aunt Becky from the TV show "Full House." A warrant out for her arrest. The latest on the college cheating scandal, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:56] HARLOW: Well, this morning, a warrant has been issued for the actress Lori Loughlin, while Felicity Huffman is out on bond after being forced to surrendered her passport. This is remarkable. Both among the dozens charged in a scheme where wealthy parents allegedly bribed college coaches and administrators to get their children accepted into some of the country's most elite universities.

SCIUTTO: They bought their kids' way into school. I mean it's just unconscionable. All of this while allegedly pretending that the money was for charity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM RICK SINGER, CEO AND FOUNDER, KEY WORLDWIDE FOUNDATION: Getting into the right college will set the trajectory for the rest of your son or daughter's life. Don't leave it to chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, that was all fake. That was the CEO of the purported charity, William "Rick" Singer is at the center of this investigation and has already pled guilty to several charges.

CNN correspondent Brynn Gingras, she's been following this story.

So the CEO here is the ringleader in effect, Brynn, but he had enormous success. He had no double finding folks willing to pay a lot of money to cheat their kids' way into schools.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, Jim, he actually talked about how successful he was in court. As you said, he pled guilty to four federal charges in court yesterday. He told a judge that there's a front door to get into colleges, there's a back door. He created the side door. And he says he was pretty good at it. You know, there were a lot of college coaches, he said, that would take these bribes in order to admit these students into their colleges as athletes when they never even participated in sports.

He is facing up to 65 years in prison. And I will say, he was a cooperating witness for the government. He talked in court about wearing a wire through this year investigation. So it will be interesting to see how that plays into his eventual sentencing. SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Sixty-five years in prison is a possibility sentence here. Wow.

GINGRAS: Yes.

HARLOW: So where -- I mean where does this go? We're obviously seeing the photos of these two big name actresses, Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, but there were 50 people involved at least in this Brynn. Where does this go next?

GINGRAS: Yes, a lot of this goes to right here behind me, this courthouse in Boston. A lot of these people are going to be appearing in court within the next couple of weeks, people that have already pled guilty, people like Felicity Huffman, who you said is out on $250,000 bond. Lori Loughlin's husband has appeared before a judge. He's out on a million dollars bond. We're expecting Lori Loughlin to eventually turn herself in. So -- college coaches are going to come here to this courthouse for their next court date.

[09:45:26] Furthermore, I can say this, universities have not been charged in this case, but a lot of them are taking their own actions, some already firing coaches that were accused in this indictment, some, you know, saying that their coaches will be on leave. Others, you know, opening their own internal investigations, like USC.

HARLOW: Wow.

Brynn, thank you for being there. I remember you broke this story at the end of our show yesterday. It's stunning.

A vote with major implications set to be taken on the Senate floor today. Lawmakers set to cast their final say on whether to end the U.S. involvement in that war in Yemen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:50:27] SCIUTTO: Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman, is in a courthouse in Washington, D.C. right now hearing from a judge who's going to sentence him today.

Our Pamela Brown and Shimon Prokupecz outside the courtroom.

And we are getting new details from inside the courtroom. Tell us, Pamela and Shimon, what you're hearing.

BROWN: That's right. Just moments ago the judge, Judge Jackson, brought up the fact that Manafort violated his plea agreement and raised the question of whether he really accepted responsibility for the crimes. Here's what she said. She said whether he lied during his cooperation sessions and breached the plea agreement has some relevance. So she's basically saying there that, yes, this could be taken into account in terms of what she decides to sentence him to.

Also notable, we learned just moments ago that the probation office says that Manafort does not deserve credit for accepting responsibility. His lawyer has argued, just moments ago, that, yes, he did accept responsibility. So that seems to be a focus.

Shimon.

PROKUPECZ: Right. And now Manafort's attorneys are getting their opportunity to argue why he does deserve credit for taking responsibility. That is what's going on right now.

The other thing that I want to just point out that the judge has said is that Manafort's sentencing guidelines should get bumped higher to a level in line with what was recommended because of the fact that this involved other people in this conspiracy. We have heard from our folks inside court that Konstantin Kilimnik, this is the Russian agent, the guy who the FBI says was working for Russian intelligence, his name has now come up several times in this court hearing. Obviously a big point to make here for the judge.

BROWN: And not good for the defense right now.

PROKUPECZ: Right.

BROWN: Back to you.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much. Stay with us. Here's an idea, don't lie to prosecutors.

HARLOW: There you go.

SCIUTTO: Just, think about that.

The Senate appears to be ready to deal a pair of political blows to President Trump this week. Today, lawmakers will vote on a resolution that would end U.S. aid in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

HARLOW: Also, tomorrow the Senate is set to rebuke the president's national emergency declaration. That could be two big blows for the president here.

Our Lauren Fox is live on Capitol Hill.

So, Lauren, I mean, what this would do if it passes the House and the Senate is it would end U.S. aid to the Saudi-led coalition, you know, war in Yemen.

Any chance the White House, the president, wouldn't veto that if it happens?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, what we know is that the White House was threatened -- threatening to veto this back in December when the Senate voted on a very similar resolution. Now, what they plan to vote on today, you know, the politics have really changed since December because you have Democrats leading the House of Representatives. And we expect that this resolution would sail through the Senate and then the House of Representatives. So the president would actually be forced to sign a veto threat on something like this proposal.

Now, you know, this comes just as the Senate is prepared to vote tomorrow again to rebuke the president when it comes to that national emergency declaration on the southern border. We already know that there are four Republicans who are prepared to vote with Democrats on that resolution of disapproval. But a huge two days on Capitol Hill as Republicans really have to come face to face with whether or not they want to protect their powers in Congress or whether or not they want to actually rebuke the president on two issues that they care deeply about.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and that proposal now circulating that would kind of grant an OK for this emergency resolution --

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Declaration, rather, and not for future ones to try to get --

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Republicans from not differing with the president.

Laruen Fox, we know you're going to stay on top of it.

This is another story we're following this morning. Shocking. Disturbing. You pick the word. The senior most Vatican official to be convicted of child sex abuse is heading to prison. We'll have the latest on that story. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:58:25] HARLOW: Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Vatican official to be convicted of sex abuse to date, will become a registered sex offender.

SCIUTTO: And he's going to jail. A judge in Australia sentenced him to six years in prison for sexual abuse of two choir boys when he was the archbishop of Melbourne in the late 1990s.

CNN Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher, she's been following this story. I mean this is really remarkable for a priest to be going to prison for this. Unprecedented at this point?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly is, Jim, you know, unprecedented to see a cardinal behind bars, especially one who was a close advisor to Pope Francis and the former Vatican treasurer. You know, Cardinal Pell faced up to 50 years in prison on five counts of child sexual abuse. In the end, the Australian judge, Peter Kidd, gave him six years. And the judge issued a lengthy commentary explaining how he arrived at that sentencing. But it didn't satisfy everybody, certainly voices in Australia saying they were not completely satisfied by the six-year sentence, including one of the victims -- the father of one of the victims who said it just wasn't sufficient.

Cardinal Pell has filed for appeal, so there will be more coming from Australia. That hearing is due in June.

The Vatican had no comment on the sentencing, but they did say two weeks ago when the guilty verdict was handed down that they will be initiating their own process, Jim and Poppy, into the cardinal that could eventually result in removing him from the priesthood. So more to happen yet on this story.

Jim. Poppy.

[09:59:59] HARLOW: Delia Gallagher, thank you for being on it for us. It is truly significant.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

END