Return to Transcripts main page


The Attorney General Wants To Release Russia Meddling Conclusions Today; Hundreds Of Passengers Airlifted From Stranded Cruise Ship. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 24, 2019 - 06:00   ET




SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is absolutely imperative that the Trump administration make that full report public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To simply say, well, there is no crime in there for there's no information, that is not acceptable.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let it come out. Let people see it.

It's all a big hoax. I call it the witch hunt. It's all a big hoax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard Nixon said a witch hunt in July of '73. This is the defense of somebody who is guilty, not an innocent. Shakespeare said, "the lady doth protest too much." Trump is the lady.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A massive cruise liner lost power at the ship called the Viking Sky pitching and rolling in the waves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ship was heading to western Norway on a 12-day trip until treacherous seas turned its passengers' vacation into a nightmare.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: You're up early for a Sunday. We're glad for it. Good morning to you. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good Sunday to you.

PAUL: And as we're coming to you from D.C. we are talking about a source with the Justice Department telling CNN that the attorney general wants to deliver his conclusions on the investigation into Russian meddling in 2016 election by the end of the today. Now the question is will Attorney General William Barr make that deadline and how much of the report will the public see?

BLACKWELL: Also ahead, look at this. Incredible video coming in overnight of a dramatic rescue attempt in rough seas. This is off the coast of Norway. Hundreds of passengers had been airlifted from this stranded cruise ship, hundreds more still aboard, tug boats now are trying to pull this ship ashore.

PAUL: We start this morning now with anticipation across the nation's country, the attorney general expected to release the conclusions of this 22-month special counsel investigation by the end of today.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is traveling with the president. She's standing by in West Palm Beach, Florida. And joining us here in Washington CNN's Lauren Fox and Sara Murray.

So, Sara, let's start with you. The attorney general said this self- imposed deadline of releasing the principal conclusions by -- well, today ambitious. Do you think he'll make it?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: It is ambitious and a lot of us were actually surprised when we saw that letter from the attorney general on Friday. We figured that there will probably be some kind of waiting period before he delivered these conclusions to Congress. It was a big shock that he said, I can brief you on this as early as this weekend.

This weekend only has one day left. So, you know, we are journalists. We are familiar with being up against that deadline --


MURRAY: -- and I think that's where Bill Barr is right now. We suspect that what Robert Mueller delivered to him already sort of has these top line conclusions in them and what he is doing is he is going over them with Rod Rosenstein, probably changing some of the language and sort of whittling that down to what he wants to deliver to Congress, because he also plans to deliver that publicly.

And, you know, that may be the official end of the Mueller investigation but it's just going to be the beginning of a big political and legal battle because we know, of course, Lauren knows that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have made it clear they want to see the full Mueller report.

PAUL: Yes. In fact, Lauren, we understand that the Democrats are ready to just full on, they are prepared to battle to try to get this publicly in full released.

LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: That's exactly right. And what happened yesterday was Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, she held a conference call with members, more than 120 members on that call and she basically said, look, I am willing to fight to make this public. The American people deserve to know what is in this. We deserve to know what is in this and not just the principle conclusions that Bill Barr would present to us, but even sort of the underlying investigation.

Why they indicted one person and not another person. They want to see all of that evidence. And as you know Democrats control the House of Representatives, they have subpoena power. You can expect that the House chairman of the judiciary is expected to subpoena any information that he does not get from Bill Barr that he wants over this Mueller report.

BLACKWELL: So let's connect the two here. We have got the demands from the Democrats on the Hill, the report that is coming, at least the principle conclusion from the A.G. One of the demands from Schumer and Pelosi is that the White House not get a sneak peek of what Barr will release.

Does that include do we know the principle conclusions?

MURRAY: So we are sort of waiting for better guidance on that at this point. I mean, if the principal conclusions include something where the White House want to exert executive privilege, regardless of how the Democrats feel about this it is Depart of Justice practice to give the White House an opportunity to review that about whether they are going to exert privilege.

It's unlikely, I think, that in these top line conclusions you are going to have that kind of issue, these executive privilege issues or an issue with classified information. Those are issues that you're going to have to deal with when you get further into the guts of the report and lawmakers are saying we want to see the entire thing, and you have to talk about whether -- what needs to be scrubbed for executive privilege, what needs to be scrubbed because its classified, what needs to be scrubbed because it's a grand jury proceeding and those are not supposed to be made public or whether you're going to get a special dispensation from a judge to share that stuff.


But I think for these top line conclusions, I mean, Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein have known from the outset that they were going to have to sort of make something publicly there and not immune to the sort of Washington clamor going on. And so our best bet is those are probably already scrubbed but, you know, we may get word today that the White House feels differently, that they've seen some kind of a summary. Obviously our White House reporters are on top of that. We're on top of that checking in as well.

PAUL: Absolutely. In fact our reporting is that Speaking Pelosi said she would reject any classified briefings specifically for leaders (INAUDIBLE).

FOX: Right. The sort of Gang of Eight that has these intelligence briefings. She says the reason for that is that she wants all of her members to be looped in because she wants the public to ultimately know what is in this report and why they made the conclusions that they made and that comes with knowing what the evidence was and why Mueller made the decisions that he made.

BLACKWELL: But is this a straw man? I mean, has there been an exclusive Gang of Eight briefing offered that she is turning down or she just setting this up to say we will not accept any classified information and so far no one has asked her to come to a briefing? FOX: It sounds like it's the latter.


FOX: That this is about making sure that there is transparency here and that's what this week ahead on Capitol Hill is going to be about. It's going to be about how much of this Mueller report is -- are they willing to fight for, how much of it comes out this week.

These principal conclusions likely are not going to be enough from Democrats so that will be sort of the fight that sets up this week. And that is not even getting into what the report actually says or what these principal conclusions actually say. Democrats may have more to say on that after we learn what Bill Barr turns over to Capitol Hill.

PAUL: Delaware Senator Chris Coons, Sara, had apparently warned his fellow Democrats yesterday saying once we get the principal conclusions of this report I think it's entirely possible that will be a good day for president and his core of supporters.

Do you think there is a sense that they put too much emphasis on this report and what they want to do moving forward?

MURRAY: I think that a lot of people who are not fans of President Trump put all of their hopes into Bob Mueller. They thought that he might wind out his investigations with a whole slew of indictments, maybe dragging in members of the president's family, members of the president's current infrastructure at the White House. That is not happening.

So that at its outset already makes it a good day for the president and his team that there are no additional indictments coming and I think, you know, Lauren knows this of course, better than anyone on the set but Democrats are in a very difficult position on how they read this report and how they judge their next moves going forward.

We have heard, obviously, in the House a lot of discussion of impeachment but they really do risk overstepping -- right -- before you head into a presidential election. And I think most Americans who are watching this play out and what the polls have shown they would prefer to vote for a new person to take the White House rather than to see someone thrown out through impeachment proceedings. Remember no president has ever been removed from office that way through impeachment proceedings so Democrats are in a tough box where they sort of pin -- adding a lot of hopes on Mueller and may not get what they were hoping for out of this.

PAUL: Good point. Lauren Fox and Sara Murray, we appreciate you both being here. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So, while Washington speculates about the contents of the Mueller report, President Trump, well, he is staying silent. Yes, silent on social media. Go and check. There's really nothing on Twitter. Instead he played golf in south Florida with Kid Rock and here is the photo of the flag pants to prove it. PAUL: All right. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is joining us now from West Palm Beach. So sources say the president is happy that this investigation is over. How would we know that if we haven't heard from him yet and is there any expectation that we're going to hear from him today?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, I mean, the mood at Mar-a-Lago from sources who are close the president from those who spent time with him over the weekend, they say that there is a sense of relief, there is some celebration here but there is also kind of this wait and see. They tell us that there is no war room that is set up for rapid response to this report, that there is no panic among the lawyers and the team of advisers who are here at Mar- a-Lago.

But most notably, there is no comment, there's no tweets from the president yet of outrage or of celebration. So it is really kind of that wait and see situation. We did see the president yesterday playing golf for hours at his club and as Victor mentioned, yes, the one in the pants in the flag was Kid Rock who was there, who sent out a tweet gushing about the president, calling him a great man, someone who is so down to earth, so really kind of putting out that kind of calm relaxed demeanor.

What sources have been telling us that Republicans and allies to the president have already tried to paint this as a victory for him, despite the fact they have not received this report but the mere fact that the president does not face an indictment, that coming from a source that the president was happy this was over and that it's really kind of a wait and see type of situation.


The RNC putting out talking points already emphasizing that those inside the Trump circle and outside his allies should emphasize that this investigation that took two years, millions of taxpayer dollars, no indictments here, and therefore they are happy that it is over. I think the one thing that we should look at, however, is the fact that Emmet Flood, his attorney who is really responsible for this response to the report is here and he rarely travels with the president but here has been by his side and we have not yet seen a comment -- a celebratory comment or a claim of victory from the president yet, so they are still holding off and waiting to see what this report has to say -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: All right.

BLACKWELL: OK. Suzanne Malveaux for us there in West Palm Beach. Suzanne, thank you so much.

And today on "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Congressman Jerry Nadler joins Jake. That's at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

PAUL: So now that the Mueller report is done, there are still other investigations that are in the works right now. What is the White House's strategy moving forward? Because they have a lot to look at here. We're going to talk about it with someone who knows what it's like to be inside a White House that is on the defensive. Guy Smith, adviser to President Bill Clinton, is with us next.

BLACKWELL: Plus, cruise ship passengers being rescued after running through some really rough seas. This is off the coast of Norway.

Look at this video. We've got more of it. We'll tell you want happened here.



BLACKWELL: Fifteen minutes after the hour now. As they absorb the news that Robert Mueller had ended his investigation with no more indictments the Trump team seem to be in a celebratory mood at his Florida resort this weekend. The president even went golfing with -- there's the pants again, Kid Rock. But Democrats vow that the Mueller report was only the beginning and pointed to the fact that numerous legal and congressional investigations continue.

So here's the question, what is the strategy for the White House moving forward? Let's bring in someone who knows what it's like to work in a White House under siege. Guy Smith, former adviser to President Bill Clinton. Guy, good morning to you. Thanks for being with us.

GUY SMITH, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: All right. So a source close to the president says that there is no war room set up at the White House, that the White House staffers do not know what the communication strategy, what the response will be from the White House if this report is negative.

What is your assessment of that strategy? I mean, you know Emmet Flood, the president's go to attorney on everything Mueller. Is that his M.O.?

SMITH: Well, I think -- here is the thing that they're doing right right now and that is there is discipline. We don't see much discipline from Donald Trump on his tweets and that sort of thing. He has been completely quiet.

They need to be highly disciplined as they prepare for these more investigations and no matter what is in the Mueller report, it is going to be a road map for the Democrats and it's just the beginning. And whether or not there is collusion and whether or not they decide, well, this is -- we are exonerated, they are not exonerated. There's -- there are literally a dozen or more investigations of a very serious nature, most of them having nothing to do with the Mueller report and we don't know what is in the Mueller report and it is going to be more things for these congressional committees and rocks to turn over. BLACKWELL: Yes, those investigations in Congress, of course, the Southern District of New York and maybe Eastern District of Virginia, Washington, D.C. as well, but do you buy that there is no war room, that there is no central message this gleeful celebratory mood there? Is that what you expect as there's this tenuous time there at the White House?

SMITH: I think what we are seeing, as I said, this discipline and whether there is a war room, until they know what the conclusion are -- and frankly, I think some of the conclusions are not going to be very good for the president. I mean, nobody is going to say this guy is a boy scout and they know that.

But I don't think -- I think what they are doing now is they are going to wait and see and they are going to go slow and that is the right thing to be doing at this moment because the Democrats are going to be given a road map here, more of a road map than they already have and that is not good. It's actually political doom for Donald Trump. Not in an impeachment sense --


SMITH: -- but in a political sense. Think about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton. The drip, drip, drip of Benghazi -- we're going to -- we are looking at 15 Benghazis before you read what is in the Mueller report and there probably 10 more and this is the kind of thing going into 2020 that is what I mean by political doom for Donald Trump.

BLACKWELL: So let me challenge that. Because you say that the president and his team did not have up to this point, you know, we haven't seen any tweets from the president over the last day or so, message discipline or discipline at all, but there is the message discipline of no collusion which was repeated more times than most of us could count. Has the president --

SMITH: A 183.

BLACKWELL: OK. Well, then you've got the number. Just short of -- anything short of collusion which is not really a crime but colluding with Russians during the campaign is that a success that he set the bar so low that anything short of that he can call something a win?

SMITH: I think he will. And frankly that is a win for the American to not have their president conspiring with a hostile foreign power.


I mean, whatever you think about Donald Trump, we don't want our president colluding, conspiring with a hostile foreign power. That doesn't mean he has not got big political trouble because he has got big political trouble even if the Mueller report didn't even exist and since it does exist, is it going to be deeper trouble? Day after day after day as we go forward.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about the political ramifications beyond the 2020 race at the presidential level. What does this mean? Let's say that, you know, this report comes out and finds no wrongdoing on the part of the president. What does that mean for those Republicans who have put so much into calling this a witch hunt and calling this a hoax and then those Democrats who have invested so much in their being some accusation, some claim of wrong doing by the president in the Mueller report, what does it mean for those two parties?

SMITH: What it means is that we are going to hear about, from the congressional committees on a daily basis and things like his tax returns and all kinds of things that are not necessarily Russia. So Trump can claim a victory if that is really what it says.

We don't know that is what it's going to say. There may be all kinds of things of obstruction of justice. And everybody says, well, the president didn't get indicted. Well, the Justice Department rules are you don't indict a president. That doesn't mean there's not going to be something in there about obstruction of justice and that is political. It's not legal.

Everybody is thinking about these days about legal sense and you asked me at the beginning of the segment about what happens in the White House. You got to look at this legally but you really got to look at it politically because impeachment and all of that stuff -- some of the Democrats are talking about is about politics.

It's political. It's not a legal standard it's a political standard. But there isn't going to be any impeachment in the Senate because the Republicans are not going to go. Unless there's some --


SMITH: -- smoking gun that come along somewhere that is why I'm talking about the drip, drip, drip to the 2020 election.


SMITH: There will be a lot of noise from the Democrats about impeachment in the House but there are no votes in the Senate to convict at this moment. Now that could change and what I meant by the road map. This Mueller report could give the House committees more places to look.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Well, we are probably, if A.G. Barr meets his deadline, that self-imposed deadline of today to release those principal conclusions we could learn a lot about the next few months going into the 2020 election for President Trump.

Guy Smith, good to have you this morning.

SMITH: Thanks for having me.

PAUL: So if you like to hit cruises, cruise ships, passengers, they were just doing what you probably do, enjoying their vacation. And then this happened.

Can you imagine? And here is what one passenger said about being rescued. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAN TERBRUEGEN, RESCUED PASSENGER: It was very dangerous situation, frankly. A few people got hurt.




BLACKWELL: Listen, imagine the panic and downright fear as a cruise ship carrying 1,300 passengers ran into rough weather off the coast of Norway.

PAUL: Rough weather seems to be kind of an understatement when you look at some of this video we're seeing. Look at the furniture. It's just sliding across the room and part of the ceiling fell on one woman.

BLACKWELL: Wow. More than 400 people so far they have been have been airlifted to safety. Helicopters are evacuating the rest of the people one at a time. This morning there are tug boats that are trying to move the ship to shore. One passenger recounted what he went through.


TERBRUEGEN: Furniture would slide across the room, slide back and with it came people and g lass. It was very dangerous situation, frankly. A few people got hurt. We could see that we were getting blown in towards some rocks. That was the most frightening thing, I think.


BLACKWELL: Joining us now CNN's Salma Abdelaziz. Salma, first how many people are still on board the ship?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, it is really a holiday turned into a nightmare as you heard from that passenger there. We understand that with only 400 and some passengers rescued, that leaves about 900 people still on board waiting to be rescued.

Now there's two things happening in parallel here. The ship has three out of four engines now working and two tug boats are trying to turn that ship around and move it back to shore. But while they're doing this these helicopters are also one-by-one ferrying people, flying those helicopters down low over the cruise ship, picking people up and taking them back. And you can only imagine how horrifying that is to be jerked up into the air as high winds and high seas move you about.

PAUL: Salma, I'm wondering, if I understand correctly, this is a pretty treacherous area. Is there any answers this morning as to why this ship was there or if this storm took them by surprise? ABDELAZIZ: Christi, we are asking that question this morning as well. We do understand that all of the focus right now is on the rescue operations. So we don't know exactly why these engines shut down. But what we do know is, yesterday, around 2:00 p.m. local time in Norway, the ship made a mayday call after all but one engine stopped working.


ABDELAZIZ: They were apparently only a mile away from a very jagged and rocky coastline and were very dangerously close to hitting that coast and that is of course when the rescue operation began. They were able to anchor the ship but there will be lots of question once this operation is done. Why was the ship in this notoriously dangerous area as these weather conditions were heating up, making this an extremely dangerous journey for those on board -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: Salma, before we let you go, one more time. How far away from the shore now is this ship? I mean, how much work do they have to do to get it to shore?

ABDELAZIZ: Well, it's not just a matter of how far it is from shore. We understand at one point it was only a mile away from shore but it's also about getting the ship to turn around and actually face the correct direction to be able to pull it to shore, which is why it's going to take such a long time.

There is no estimate on how long this is going to take. And that is why you see these two things happening in conjunction. The helicopter ferrying people one-by-one as they simultaneously try to turn that ship around and bring it back to shore -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Salma Abdelaziz, we appreciate you being here. Thank you for the heads up.

BLACKWELL: All right. So as we await the details of the Mueller report, we'll take a look at the legal problems that are still hanging over this president and his associates. Stay with us. NEW DAY will continue in just a moment.



PAUL: One of the big takeaways from what we do know about the Mueller report is that there are no more indictments coming, at least not from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. However, President Trump's legal problems are still in full swing it seems. We're waiting to see the report, federal and state prosecutors are working on numerous other investigations.

In the meantime, many of those focus on President Trump, on his family, his business or a hand handful of advisers and associates. Political analyst Julian Zelizer with us now as well as CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano. Gentlemen, thank you both so much for being with us.

James, I understand that President Trump's biggest threat isn't Mueller, you say, it's the Southern District of New York. Why do you believe that?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Christi, as a cautious skeptic of the collusion investigation from the onset, I've always argued that I believe that the president faces far more exposure from either the Southern District of New York where we have already had indictments and peripheral figures in the Trump campaign and his orbit, as well as in New York state attorney general.

Now why is that? Well, the special counsel's investigation has got a very narrow bandwidth. And so they are only allowed to look at certain things that the attorney general or in this instance the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein gave them the opportunity to look into. And that's why I feel Congress, the Southern District of New York and the New York state attorney general where the president once he leaves office is going to face the greatest exposure.

PAUL: So, Julian, I know that you say even without this report, even without the findings, there is really damage that has already been done to this president. What is at the top of that list that you see?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. Number one are the other investigations that this investigation, the Mueller investigation spawned. Two, many high-level officials were convicted of wrongdoing, very high-level officials including the campaign manager of the president, and so that impacts how Americans see the character of the administration. And finally, the ways in which the president tried to impede the investigation were done in broad daylight. They weren't done behind the scenes.

And so I think that whole issue of obstruction has been right in front of us and so all of that has had accumulative effect on where the Trump presidency is today and all of these other investigations, in addition to Congress, are well under way now.

PAUL: So, you say that it's obvious to many people, but apparently not so obvious to President Trump in terms of how much trouble may be forthcoming. Let's listen to what he told Fox Business News on Friday.


TRUMP: They say there are lots of things but I don't know about these things -- OK -- just so you understand. Everyone says this one, that one. I don't even know about this.

I called -- I said to my lawyers, are we being looked at here? They don't know what people are talking about. There's so much fake news out there. It's a disgrace.


PAUL: OK. So he says he doesn't know about it. Let's put the full screen up if we could please to show some of the areas where the president is being investigated. It's the inauguration, the organization, the transition, the foundation, the administration. All of these things we know are being investigated and then there is Jared Kushner and I have to bring this in.

He is providing records to the House Judiciary Committee for the probe into the obstruction of justice. We know Chairman Jerry Nadler has sent a letter requesting information on the 2016 campaign, on the transition, the inauguration, the firing of James Comey, the Trump Tower meeting, his knowledge of the pursuit of Trump Tower Moscow project, the hush money payments.

Reconcile what the president just said with everything that is pointed out there? How does the president, how do his attorneys, James, not know about this?

GAGLIANO: Sure. Well, Christi, I think also people have been talking about the special counsel's report which basically in the hands of attorney general William Barr right now as a road map. Now it's difficult to kind of read the judicial tea leaves and anticipate what Robert Mueller and his team might have written up here but we have to recognize that there are three parts or requirements that the special counsel has.

The first is they have to issue urgent reports in advance of any type of indictments. We know that there are no more coming.


The second piece is they have to issue a full report. Now, that report is going to be a narrative.

Now in 1998 -- 1999 (ph) when the special counsel regulations were drafted there was a concern about leery details or things that did not need to be released into the public domain. This attorney general is going to have a tough goal over here because he has to make a decision on what should be released.

The public is clamoring for a full release. Obviously the left is doing that as well. The concern is going to be is he just going to provide bullet points that do result in that road map? Meaning the Southern District can look at that, the New York state attorney general can look at that, and certainly Congress which has wide latitude in opening investigations can do the same.

PAUL: Julian, he makes this good point. We know that 80 percent of what is in this report comes from the grand jury which cannot be made public. How do you balance?

I mean, this is -- this is -- I think one of the biggest obstacles here. How do you balance this report that you could release would have huge chunks of information missing from because of that -- those parameters with the promise of transparency?

ZELIZER: I think the promise of transparency has to be stronger. I think after an investigation of this length, the data needs to be made public, not only to American citizens, but also to Congress, which is continuing its investigation.

It's in the president's interest. If there is nothing there, if the report has actually exonerated him the administration should want that to be out there. And so I think in this case you lean toward transparency.

It's always beneficial to the democratic process if information is not released, there are a lot of redactions and the public doesn't really know the substance other than talking points given by the Department of Justice, I don't think there will be a lot of trust in the findings.

PAUL: All right. James, your thoughts on that as well?

GAGLIANO: I concur 100 percent. And there is legal precedent for this.

PAUL: Yes.

GAGLIANO: If we go back to 1974 the special counsel at that time was Leon Jaworski and did released the full findings and as recently as 2014 during the Ferguson -- the riots in Ferguson over the shooting of Michael Brown. The Department of Justice did the same there too. So I imagine we will get as close to full transparency as is possible.

PAUL: All right. Julian Zelizer and James Gagliano, always appreciate you both being with us. Thank you, sir.


PAUL: Sirs, I should say.

BLACKWELL: Patriots owner Robert Kraft is breaking his silence amid a prostitution sting investigation. He says he is truly sorry but his apology comes as he still denies he ever committed a crime.



BLACKWELL: New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft is apologizing. These are his first public comments since he was charged with soliciting prostitution.

PAUL: Yes. Coy Wire is with us. Coy, as I understand it the timing here is what's noteworthy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning, Christi and Victor.

Robert Kraft breaking his silence for the first time since the charges of solicitation was brought against him in Florida last month. Today is the NFL's annual meeting when opens in Phoenix where team owners, G.M.s, head coaches and commissioner Roger Goodell are all set to meet. Kraft says he is truly sorry in a statement which reads, in part -- quote -- "I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard. Throughout my life, I have always tried to do the right thing. The last thing I would ever want to do is disrespect another human being. I have extraordinary respect for women" -- unquote.

Kraft pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and has denied that he committed a crime. The NFL has said only that it's aware of the investigation surrounding Kraft and it is monitoring the situation.

The league meetings end on Wednesday. There will be discussions about on and off-the-field issues. According to NFL documents, Kraft is scheduled to serve on four NFL committees including the media committee which he chairs. His investigation, Christi and Victor, will certainly be in the spotlight when execs and coaches face reporters.

PAUL: All right. Coy, thank you so much.

We know that right now Kraft and his legal team are fighting the public release of a surveillance video obviously that allegedly shows this act on two occasions in a day spa in Jupiter, Florida.

CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson. This is with us now and this is what stood out to me initially when I read this. It sounded as though the police were saying, listen, we are going to release this video and that's what prompted his statement.

I don't -- that seems unusual. I don't remember police --


PAUL: I don't want to say threatening but saying this is what we are going to do, we are going to release it.

JACKSON: Absolutely. First of all, great to see both in person. Christi, wonderful to see you. Victor, nice to see you as well. I'm usually in a flash somewhere speaking to you.

Look, on the issue, police are on the front lines of this of this. We know that. They have done a thorough investigation from all accounts here because the larger issue, remember, is human trafficking. Right?

And the human trafficking element which is a major issue in this country, certainly needs to be eradicated. From that investigation apparently spawned what they are doing as it relates to Robert Kraft and soliciting (ph) prostitution. If those reports are true, it would be a horrific misstep on the part of the police department.

You cannot be releasing or threatening to release information about a defendant for the simple reason -- right -- everyone has a right to a fair trial. Could you imagine the prejudice that would result to him in the event that this video became public? I mean, at some point it could very well become public in the event he moves forward. There's nothing secret about such a proceeding but to do it saying I'm threatening unless you do this I think would be highly problematic. So I think police know better than that. If the reports are true about that, it's a problem.

BLACKWELL: So he was offered a plea deal.


He has decided not to plea -- to accept the deal. Do you think that is a mistake?

JACKSON: I think it very well could be and here is why. If the objective is and remember, we have heard reports that the attorneys, in fact, are making motion to suppress or otherwise keep this video out of public view. In the event that he goes forward and does not accept the plea deal, there is nothing secret about this proceeding. And so that videotape will very much or whatever the tape is --

PAUL: Very possibly.

JACKSON: -- very possibly get out into the public domain. I think there is a way to avoid that, Victor and Christi, and I think the way is ultimately to do what they say and that is if they have the goods, only he knows that, only his attorneys know whether they have the goods. What are the goods?

A tape which would demonstrates that he behaved in the manner in which he is accused and if that happens and you take the deal, which is I accept the fact that you would be able to hold me to the proven trial and find me guilty, if you say that, we will dismiss the case, the attorneys then make a motion to seal the case, sea; the records and otherwise no one ever gets to see it.

So I think it would be if he is guilty, and he knows if he is not, an incredible disservice to him in the event that he fights this moving forward.

PAUL: How important is this, Joey? And we have talked about in different cases. But how important is this for the NFL to come down pretty stringently on this?

JACKSON: I think it's very significant, Christi. Because that's the other component, right?

PAUL: Yes.

JACKSON: The first component obviously is his criminality or lack thereof. We'll see what happens. The second component is what the NFL does with this.

And, I think, to your question it's important because you cannot hold owners and players to different standards, right? We have discussions about how players might make missteps and the NFL, the commissioner comes down so hard on them. And so if you're talking about an owner who should be setting the standard for everyone else, certainly that owner has to bear responsibility if guilty and accept his just punishment too.

And so I would look for the NFL notwithstanding Robert Kraft. I mean, look what he has done for the NFL. Look at the team that he has produced every year. But you cannot have a separate standard for player, a separate standard for owner. I think he is going to be held accountable here.

BLACKWELL: All right. Several chapters more to read in this one. Joey Jackson, thank you so much.

JACKSON: Great to be with you.



BLACKWELL: Coy Wire, thank you too from Atlanta.

All right. These children were killed 40 years ago. And now Atlanta police are looking into their murders again using the technology of today in hopes of giving their families some closure.



PAUL: Well, we want to let you know that we have learned the names of two U.S. soldiers killed on the line of duty in Afghanistan. They were killed on Friday. Specialist Joseph Collette of Ohio. He is 29 years old. And Sergeant First Class Will Lindsay of Colorado, 33 years old.

Two U.S. officials tells CNN they were likely killed during the fight with the Taliban in a partnered U.S.-Afghan military operation. Now according to an army spokesman Sergeant Lindsay had previously been awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals. This is the third and fourth U.S. military death in Afghanistan this year. And our certainly thoughts and prayers go to their families.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

Well, after 40 years, police will take a new look at a series of child murders that terrified Atlanta, really terrified the country.

PAUL: Yes. Wayne Williams went to prison for two of the 29 killings but there's new technology today that, of course, that helps authorities discover whether he is to blame for all of the others. CNN's Kaylee Hartung has the details for us.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was 9 years old in 1979. MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA: For those of us who grew up in that era, in so many ways, it shaped our childhood, it robbed us of our innocence and it reminded us all that evil was real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are now 15 kids dead --

HARTUNG: That era defined for many here in Atlanta like Bottoms by the murder of at least 29 African-Americans in a 22-month period. Most of them children and teenagers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know where your children are?

HARTUNG: Ads like this ran on local TV stations a curfew set for anyone under the age of 16. Four decades later city officials announcing evidence from the murder cases will be re-examined with the help of modern technology. Multiple agencies working together on a new task force.

CHIEF ERIKA SHIELDS, ATLANTA POLICE: We have an obligation to take those advancements and see if any further analysis can be conducted on the property and evidence that was collected 40 years ago. The families deserve to find closure.

HARTUNG: Catherine Leach's son was 13 years old when he was killed.

CATHERINE LEACH, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM CURTIS LEACH: I don't think it's right for all these kids to be killed in this city and nobody was concerned about it.

HARTUNG: In 1982 Wayne Williams was tried for the murder of two young men and sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors said 22 of the children's murder were connected to him but he was never charged with other crimes.

LEACH: We want some closure. I want to know who killed Curtis.

HARTUNG: The gripping mystery, the subject of a true crime podcast "Atlanta Monster" and two days after this announcement by authorities a new documentary "The Atlanta Child Murders" debuts.

The crime market a popular one today for podcast and docu series, "Serial," "Making A Murderer," and "Up And Vanished" captivated their audiences but also led to renewed interest by authorities and answers for us all.

Atlanta's mayor made it clear they are not reopening this case. This is not about Wayne Williams. The hope is that that new look at decades old evidence can give some of these 29 families their own answers and closure.

Kaylee Hartung, CNN, Atlanta.