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Source: Trump Willing to Take Tax Fight to Supreme Court; Mulvaney Meets with White House Staff, Cabinet Members at Camp David to Discuss Health Care; Trump Says He Has Not Read Mueller Report but Says He "Has Every Right to Do So"; Democrats Use IRS Tax Code to Request Trump Tax Returns; New York Man Charged with Threatening to Kill Rep. Ilhan Omar; Three Black Churches Suspiciously Burned in 10 Days; Obama Appears to Take Veiled Swipe at Trump in Germany; Chicago to Sue Jussie Smollett for Cost of "Fake" Hate Crime Investigation; Robert Kraft's Attorney Fight "Sneak and Peak" Warrant. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 6, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats have formally requested the documents from the IRS. And administration officials say they are willing to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That official said, quoting now, "This is a hill and people would be willing to die on it. We will see you in court."
We're just learning that Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is holding a meeting at Camp David to discuss health care. This comes after President Trump said this week that he does not plan to hold a vote on health care until after the 2020 election.
Meanwhile, the fight is brewing on Capitol Hill over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report. The president now confirming he has not read the report, but says he has every right to do so.
Let's start with the fight over President Trump's tax returns.
CNN's White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez, is live for us in Las Vegas where the president will speak next hour.
So the president's lawyer sent a letter to the Treasury Department pushing back on the Democrats' request. What more can you tell us about what was said?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. That letter to the Treasury Department essentially signals that the administration feels that the request from the House Ways and Means Committee is illegitimate. I'll read a portion of the letter now. An attorney for the president writes, quote, "If the IRS acquiesces to Chairman Richard Neal's request, it would set a dangerous precedent, as Secretary Mnuchin recently told Congress, he's not aware there has ever been a request for an elected official's tax returns. For good reason. It would be a gross abuse of power for the majority party to use tax returns as a weapon to attack, harass and intimidate the political opponents. Once this Pandora's Box is open, the ensuing tit-for-tat would do lasting damage to our nation."
It gives you an idea that the defensive posture the president's attorneys are going to take on this. This is yet another front in the war between Democrats and the White House. As you said, the president's attorneys have been preparing for this for some time. They're willing to go all the way on this to the Supreme Court.
We should point out two points for context here. First, the president himself broke with precedent. He was the first candidate in more than 40 years to not release his tax returns to the American people. And the American people simply want to see them. Take a look at this poll released in mid-March, done by CNN, and 67 percent of those asked say that they want to see the president's tax returns.
We'll see if he brings it is up during his speech, set to start in about an hour, to the Republican Jewish coalition holding a gathering here in Las Vegas -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: And, Boris, we were hearing that Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is convening a meeting this weekend at Camp David. What are you learning?
SANCHEZ: This is a curious development. My colleague, Sarah Westwood, confirmed that the acting chief of staff was hosting White House staffers and several cabinet members at Camp David to discuss health care. Notable part of this is that over the last two weeks we've seen a flipflop from the White House on this issue. We had heard surrogates to the president say that the administration was preparing a plan to send to Congress before the end of the year. That would mean a third attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare by this administration. Fred, the previous two plans failed. The president had to walk that back and ultimately say he wouldn't press for a repeal and replacement of Obamacare until at least after the 2020 election.
So what exactly White House officials are plotting or planning out here is unclear but it is surprising to see that this has now become a priority considering it would be unlikely that Republicans could pass anything through the Democrat-controlled House unless something changes after the 2020 election -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: Now let's talk about the Mueller report. Two weeks after it went to the U.S. attorney general, and Trump is trying to reassure people about what he has or hasn't seen?
SANCHEZ: Yes. The president sending out two tweets earlier today about the Mueller report. He writes, quote, "I have not read the Mueller report yet, even though I have every right to do so. Only know the conclusions. And on the big one, no collusion. Likewise, recommendations made to our great attorney general who found no obstruction."
The president goes on to bash Democrats, saying, no matter what the White House hands over, they'll never be satisfied.
I want to point out Robert Mueller did not make a recommendation or a conclusion on the issue of obstruction. In fact, specifically quoted in Attorney General William Barr's synopsis of the Mueller report, he says that Mueller did not make a conclusion and that he did not exonerate President Trump.
So the president clearly not only not reading the Mueller report, but potentially not reading thoroughly through Barr's synopsis here -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: Boris Sanchez, thanks so much, in Las Vegas.
Let's talk further. Joining me to discuss, White House reporter for Politico," Eliana Johnson, and national reporter for the "Washington Post," Wesley Lowery.
Good to see you both.
Let's begin with the fight for the president's tax returns.
Eliana, House Democrats have put in a formal request with the IRS. Now what?
[13:05:05] ELIANA JOHNSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, tax returns are some of the most sensitive documents. They're considered some of the most sensitive documents in our political system. So this sets up an intense fight over whether Democrats will get these documents. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee does have the right to request them. But there are certain exceptions. They have to have a legitimate legislative purpose to get these documents. So that's where the fight is, with the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, arguing he does have a legislative purpose to see these documents, and the president's lawyers, in that letter you cited earlier, saying that they absolutely don't, that this is simply a fishing expedition to politically embarrass the president. So that's the argument that you're going to see play out over the next several weeks and months and, potentially, wind up litigated before the nine Supreme Court justices.
WHITFIELD: Wesley, doesn't that 6103 Act, this provision say that the law doesn't appear to give the Treasury secretary any legal mechanism to deny the request? Especially when it's coming from the head of the House or Senate tax-writing committees?
WES LOWERY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Certainly. Well, and the law itself was written to give Congress this precise oversight into high- ranking, you know, American officials in order to see if they have any types of conflicts. That was the intent of the law when it was passed initially, was to allow Congress to see if a high-ranking member of the administration had any, any financial conflicts of interest. The reason, as President Trump's lawyers note, it's never been applied to a president previously, is because all the other presidents have released voluntarily their tax returns.
LOWERY: So I do think that it's going to be very difficult for the president's lawyers to argue that oversight of the president is not a legitimate legislative act. It's the point of Congress. One of the points of Congress. WHITFIELD: So President Trump for years has said that he was under
audit. He said it as a candidate as well. Which is why this is his reason, which is why he can't release the tax returns. So we did a CNN fact-check, you know, on this, and no matter what Trump says, an audit would not prevent him, and has not stopped past presidents from releasing their tax return.
So, Eliana, if the president is saying he is so willing to abide after an audit, you know, why would his administration say this is a hill that people are willing to die on?
JOHNSON: It's -- what they're argue something that this sets a bad precedent. They're not quite arguing simply that the president doesn't want to release his tax returns. What they're saying in that letter is that if lawmakers can simply request the tax returns of the president or any high-ranking official, tax returns will become political fodder in the future and that's dangerous. We've heard them say, what's to stop Republicans from requesting Nancy Pelosi's tax returns when they hold the House and so on. So they're citing an argument for political precedent, rather than simply that Democrats don't have the right to request Donald Trump's tax returns.
On the audit question, it's interesting. They're saying that -- it's customary for the IRS to audit the vice president and the president every year. And with Donald Trump, they're saying that they want to see that the IRS has, in fact, been auditing Trump for the past three years. So it's actually they're saying that they want to see he's being audited rather than that he needs to release his returns because he's not under audit.
WHITFIELD: So Mick Mulvaney is holding this meeting this weekend at Camp David. And it's to discuss health care.
Wes, we heard the president say he wants to get rid of Obamacare altogether and we've got a better plan. What could be hashed out? Who might be in attendance even at this meeting to see if they can come up with something better, even though the president says there wouldn't be a vote on the Hill until after 2020?
LOWERY: Certainly. Well, I think there's political pressure, the president to and Republicans broadly to come up with some type of plan. They've now spent years talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act. And it's a big political issue. This is something, in fact, that some Republicans don't want the president talking about again.
WHITFIELD: Because they haven't been able to come up with a plan something better, anything more winnable than you know, in so many years now.
LOWERY: Certainly. Well, and part of this was prompted by the decision the Department of Justice to -- to, in a pending court case, decide it was not going to defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and take a position that, in fact, the entire law might be unconstitutional. That suddenly meant the Trump administration was taking the side of getting rid of the -- scrapping the entire Affordable Care Act, throwing into jeopardy the health care of millions of Americans. That prompted the administration to need to at least show some work or show some effort to come up with some type of plan to retain health care. Because as we know voters -- and we saw this in the midterms and we've seen this in previous elections -- voters get concerned. They hate the idea of Obamacare in theory. They love the idea of the Affordable Care Act. And, suddenly, when it's going to disappear, they stop supporting President Trump and elect Democratic members of Congress.
[13:10:21] WHITFIELD: We have two weeks after the Mueller report was handed over to the attorney general, and President Trump tweeting today, I don't know if this is to reassure people or what, but, quoting now, "I have not read the Mueller report yet, even though I have every right to do so."
The Justice Department said there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for a privileged preview.
So, Eliana, you know, is the president just trying to change the subject here or is this some inference a reminder in his view that he should be privy to the report?
JOHNSON: I think the president is actually trying to remind people that he hasn't gotten any special privileges and that he is, like everybody else, waiting to see this report. Because the narrative has very much been that he is leaning on his Justice Department, that he had leaned on them to fire Bob Mueller and put a lot of pressure on many of his underlings at the Justice Department. So I think the president is trying to make clear that while he may have a right to see this report, he is in the same position as the rest of the American public, waiting to see what the contents of the report actually are.
WHITFIELD: Of course, House Democrats have taken steps to authorize a subpoena for the full unredacted Mueller report.
So, Wes, where do you suppose it goes from here? Will they see the unredacted before the redacted, which is expected to be this month? Or what?
LOWERY: Well, it's unclear. I think that A.G. Barr is going to have to make decisions about what he's willing to hand over to Congress. Much less willing to show the American public and people. I think it's very likely that in the coming weeks the public will start to see at least more than we have so far. We have to remember, this is a report that is hundreds of pages long, you know, we believe.
LOWERY: And we've only seen now a three-page summary written by someone who themselves was not involved in the investigation. And so I do think we're going to start to see it trickle here. But I think there's certainly a political risk as members of the administration, whether they be attorney general, whether it be others, continue to piecemeal release parts of this report. Which is very different than similar special counsel investigations where very often the public much less Congress have received it in a much more substantive way very early. I do think we'll probably ultimately see most of this. Although, once this report is released, there's going to be a question about how much is redacted, how much grand jury testimony is pulled out of this, and if that, in fact, creates additional questions. Hand the American public, a 400-page report, but 200 pages of it are blacked out, it's going to make people even more interested from what they can't see.
WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there for now.
Wes Lowery, Eliana Johnson, thanks so much.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, both Trump and Democrats say the law is on their side in the fight for the president's tax return, so who is right? We'll fact-check the legal battle, straight ahead, next.
[13:17:25] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. After months of preparing for the fight, over President Trump's taxes, the Democrats have made their move. The House Ways and Means Committee has formally requested six years of documents from the IRS. Democrats are requesting the tax returns under a part of the tax code written in 1924 that says, quoting, "The Treasury Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such requests," end quote.
The president's lawyers responded by calling the request unconstitutional and, in a letter, said it was an abuse of power.
I want to take a closer look now with Steve Rosenthal, a tax lawyer and senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
Good to see you.
STEVE ROSENTHAL, TAX ATTORNEY & SENIOR FELLOW, URBAN-BROOKINGS TAX POLICY CENTER: Good to see you. Thanks.
WHITFIELD: Let's begin with this request. Is it legal under the tax code?
ROSENTHAL: Certainly legal under the tax code, because the law implicated is part of the tax code, Section 6103 F of the Internal Revenue Code.
WHITFIELD: And it says, you know, that, "The Treasury Secretary shall furnish a return, the return information specified." And this is now kind of a summary of it, "In a request from the head of the House or Senate tax writing committees."
So the House Ways and Means Committee says it has every justification in which to do so. How is it that Trump's lawyer, William Consovoy, is calling this request unconstitutional? What would be their best argument?
ROSENTHAL: I think the arguments are two-fold. One is a policy or equity, that the request unduly infringes on President Trump's privacy rights. And the other is to call into question whether or not there's a legitimate purpose for the Ways and Means requests, for Chairman Neal's request.
WHITFIELD: And so the committee says, in part, that they want to look into it to see if there are any conflicts, any, you know, commitments particularly with foreign entities, anything that would perhaps prejudice or influence the president when it comes to policy-making.
ROSENTHAL: In part, that could be their concern. I spoke to the committee last month, testified, and laid out a variety of concerns that they might pursue. The one that Chairman Neal mentioned expressly in his letter last week was to check to make sure that the IRS was fairly and impartially auditing the president. Because the IRS has, as your prior guest mentioned, an informal, or at least administrative practice to audit each president's tax returns. Whether they're doing it fairly is a separate question. And that's what Chairman Neal said he was going to investigate.
[13:20:14] WHITFIELD: The Trump lawyers arguing that the request unfairly intrudes on the president's personal privacy. You touched on that. That there's no legislative need for the returns to be released. Will it be their position that they have to now convince the court of that or convince the IRS of that? Convince who?
ROSENTHAL: They have postured their defense as a legal defense for the court. But of course, there are a couple of other forms involved, the politics. And I think that's the notion of picking on the president and the fairness of that.
As far as the courts are concerned, the question of legitimate purpose, it's actually a pretty low-bar to overcome in my view for Chairman Neal and the Ways and Means Committee.
ROSENTHAL: This is a committee - well, this committee has as its jurisdiction the review of the Internal Revenue Service. And Chairman Neal was very clever in crafting his request narrowly to see if the Internal Revenue Service was properly fulfilling its functions in examining the president, and whether or not there may yet need to be legislation to ensure that the Internal Revenue Service independently evaluates the president's tax returns without influence.
WHITFIELD: The White House says that it's ready to take this to the U.S. Supreme Court. Do you see this going that far?
ROSENTHAL: I think it could. I think another strategy here is not just the litigation strategy trying to win but the strategy of trying to delay. And the more appeals and efforts of the administration takes to delay the request by the Ways and Means Committee, could yet result in, practically speaking, the returns never being provided.
WHITFIELD: All right. Steve Rosenthal, thank you so much.
ROSENTHAL: You're welcome.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, hate in America. A New York man has just been arrested for threatening to attack and murder U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, because she's Muslim.
And fires gut three historically black churches in a span of just 10 days. Authorities now looking at the suspicious nature of those fires.
We're live on both stories, next.
[13:27:02] WHITFIELD: A New York man faces charges today, accused of threatening to murder Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Court records show the threats came during a call to the freshman representative's office in Washington, D.C., last month. The caller allegedly threatened to murder Omar because she is Muslim.
CNN correspondent, Polo Sandoval, joins us now.
Polo, what more can you tell us about this?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, it's part of an investigation that the federal authorities have had ongoing here, Fred. Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has drawn controversy for several comments since coming to Congress and she's is also one of the two Muslim women who are first to serve in Congress.
According to prosecutors, staff at her Washington, D.C., office received a threatening phone call on March 21. A man on the other line identified himself as Patrick Carlineo Jr. He asked the staff of the congresswoman, quote, "Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood," and also asked, "Why are you working for her." According to investigators, he then proceeded to call Representative Omar a, quote, "terrorist" and threatened to kill her. And the charging document that we've gone over also states that he not only left his name and contact information, but he literally spelled it out. That certainly assisted the FBI in tracking him down. They eventually knocked on his door in western New York about seven days later. And during a March 29 interview, according to the charging affidavit, the suspect in this case, Carlineo, claimed to be, quote, "a patriot," someone who loves the president and hated who he claimed were radical Muslims in the government.
We should mention Carlineo remains behind bars ahead of a detention hearing schedule on Wednesday. We have reached out to his lawyer, who represents him, but also a friend of his, but, Fred, we have not heard back.
I should point out this is certainly not the first time that a member of the Congress would receive a threat on this level. Obviously, these kinds of cases are investigated by capital police who eventually refer to the FBI. WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
SANDOVAL: You bet.
WHITFIELD: Three historical churches in the same Louisiana Parish have burned in 10 days. All of them have a large African-American congregation. And now the state's fire marshal is calling it suspicious.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is here with the latest.
No one has been hurt in the fires, but authorities feel like this is no coincidence.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. And all three of these fires burned in the middle of the night so, thankfully, no one was hurt. But the similarities go beyond the timing of these three fires that have happened in the last 10 days. All three of these churches have been very active in the St. Landry Parish community for more than 100 years. And all three of these buildings were located on or near rural highways in the area.
Authorities haven't said yet that they can connect these three fires, but the state fire marshal said all three fires are suspicious, saying they've identified, quote, "suspicious elements" in each of these cases, and he says those elements are being thoroughly probed.
[13:30:05] The fire marshal cautions that arson investigations can take months. These are incredibly complicated situations to walk into because it's a scenario in which all of your evidence has been burned. All three of these churches have been reduced to not much more than rubble. So this investigation is going to take a lot of time. And these investigators have a lot of work ahead of them, Fred. The St. Landry Parish sheriff says some progress has been made and he said he hears the communities' pleas to find out who is responsible for this.
WHITFIELD: There have multiple agencies involved. While you talk about the structures being decimated, it's extraordinary the kind of fire-fighting investigation, you know, that can really zero in sometimes on accelerants.
HARTUNG: That's right. And to the question of motive, which, of course, is being discussed, there's a recognition that all three of these were African-American churches in this community. But the pastors in particular here are saying they don't want to inject race into this conversation.
Reverend Harry Richard, one of the pastors of one of the churches that's burned to the ground said we don't know who's doing this or why. But he doesn't want to inflame -- no pun intended -- the tensions in this community at this time.
Listen to the message he hopes to deliver to his community this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REV. HARRY RICHARD, PASTOR, GREATER UNION BAPTIST CHURCH: God's grace is undeserved. I know we don't deserve this. But he gives us something better than this. And that's, undeserved grace. I thank God for grace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: He will be delivering a sermon tomorrow, on Sunday, at a temporary location for his congregation.
Fred, authorities locally are saying they are allocating manpower and they are authorizing overtime for people to help work through this investigation to protect people as they go to church this Sunday, and also to find out who is responsible.
WHITFIELD: And sadly, the spate of -- of fires in historically black churches has happened historically in this country before. So these investigations have some precedents. They can use as a guidepost to figure out who may be responsible for these.
Thanks so much, Kaylee Hartung. Appreciate that.
Still ahead, President Obama just offered advice to a few politicians in Washington. Was it a veiled shot at President Trump? What he had to say, next.
[13:36:37] WHITFIELD: President Obama is in Germany this weekend to speak at a town hall event and he appeared to take a subtle swipe at someone back in the states.
CNN senior international correspondent, Atika Shubert, was at the event in Berlin.
Atika, President Obama didn't mention his successor directly. I mean by name. But did it appear that that's who he was talking about this.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He was responding to a question about how he keeps his mindfulness. Does he meditate for mindfulness? He answered it this way. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I definitely think that there's some politicians who could use some meditation.
OBAMA: I -- there's is no doubt about that.
OBAMA: I can think of a few who, you know, just sit there for a little bit and -- (LAUGHTER)
OBAMA: -- reflect.
OBAMA: Find some inner peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUBERT: So was that a dig at the current president? Perhaps. Again, he didn't mention any particular names. And in fact, he really refrained from weighing in too much on the domestic politics of the day and said he focused on trying to inspire this group of young leaders, about 300 young leaders, from all across the continent. Politicians, writers, activists, climate change activists, it was a diverse group, all of them bursting to ask him questions -- Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Among those questions, did anyone ask him about his political future or just future?
SHUBERT: They did actually. I think people were sort of hoping he would weigh in a little bit perhaps on some of the discussions within the Democratic Party now but, again, he refrained from getting into specifics, but he did make this statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I'm not here to support any political party. I've held my last political office. The Obama Foundation is nonpartisan. Michelle would leave me if I ever ran for office again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUBERT: So he's definitely has his sense of humor intact.
And it's interesting to note, despite the town hall and all the other things he was doing here, he was able to fit in a little bit of statecraft. He met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday before flying back later this evening.
WHITFIELD: They developed a pretty good relationship while he was in office, right?
SHUBERT: Absolutely. They are actually close friends.
WHITFIELD: All right, Atika Shubert, thank you so much.
[13:39:09] Still ahead, Chicago plans to sue actor, Jussie Smollett, after they say he fooled everyone into thinking he was the victim of a hate crime. Can authorities legally force the actor to reimburse them? We'll discuss, next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The city of Chicago is threatening to prosecute and sue actor, Jussie Smollett, after they say he staged a hate crime attack on himself. Smollett missed a deadline imposed by the city last week to pay back the cost of the investigation. You remember the back and forth in the story, right? Initially, the actor claimed he was attacked by two Trump supporters. Police later accused Smollett of staging the attack and paying off the men involved in order to bolster his career. The prosecutor then dropped all 16 charges against the actor but also agreed he would forfeit the $10,000 he posted for bond and perform community service.
Smollett's attorneys have sent a letter to Chicago police saying he will not be intimidated into paying the $130,000 reimbursement of investigating the alleged crime.
Let's talk this over with Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney and law professor.
Good to see you both.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Hi, Fredricka.
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Hey, Fred.
FRIEDMAN: Here we go. Here we go.
WHITFIELD: Here we go. OK, buckle up.
So, Richard, you first.
The prosecutor, you know, dropping all charges and allowing this forfeiture of the $10,000 for the bond, community service. How can the city now come back and say, we want you, Smollett, to pay for $130,000 in the investigation? Wasn't the deal already cut?
[13:45:18] HERMAN: Right, Fred. Yes, the criminal deal was cut. As part of the criminal deal, they should have made this part of the resolution of the case. They didn't do that. That's flawed. That's negligent on behalf of the city doing that. But what the city is say something that, this is for overtime fees that were incurred as a result of this investigation, which they believe was a sham. And so therefore, they think it's fair and justifiable and reasonable, and they're going to serve him probably with complaint, civil complaint, this week. And remember, it's civil, not criminal. Different burden of proof for this type of case here.
Jussie, as Chris Rock says, it's about image right now. And you could litigate this case. You'll incur at least $130,000 in legal fees. Isn't it better to pay the money up, take a trip to Vegas, into esthetics, get your face beautified, relax, and then come back and rehab your reputation?
FRIEDMAN: No, no.
HERMAN: Because that's what he needs right now. Not to fight this battle. Sixteen felony counts, Fred. I've never seen that in my entire legal career. Sixteen felony counts all get dismissed. Never. FRIEDMAN: All right. All right.
WHITFIELD: Avery, is this an issue of the city missed its opportunity? You know, as it was trying to cut a deal so to speak. But again remember the city said they were blind-sided by what the prosecutor did. So I guess they weren't in on what could have been a bigger deal.
FRIEDMAN: Well, what an awful argument. Awful argument. Let me tell you something, a plea deal in a sense is the contractual relationship resolving criminal cases. So if they decide to institute a civil action, and there's a hearing, the judge is going to say, wait a minute, you've already got this fellow on community service, you've had him waive his $10,000 bond, you had you a chance to include that in the plea deal but you didn't do it. So other than looking stupid what possible chance do they have in this case? It's over. They're never going to get the money.
WHITFIELD: Meantime, Smollett's attorney, Mark Geragos, said it would be unconstitutional to pursue him for recovering the $130,000.
Richard, what do you say about that? Unconstitutional?
HERMAN: It's not unconstitutional. Lawyers like to throw that term out there. It's not unconstitutional. The resolution was from the criminal case. This is a civil case that flowed as a result of his conduct. Therefore, that whole issue of whether or not it was a sham could probably now be litigated in a civil arena. And remember, O.J. Simpson, different burden of proof. You know, it could go bad for this guy, really bad.
FRIEDMAN: No. No.
HERMAN: And he could incur $130,000, $200,000 in legal fees defending himself.
HERMAN: Pay the money, Jussie, move on with your life, rehab your reputation, which has been destroyed.
FRIEDMAN: Here -- here's the point. You're trying to separate -- the underlying set of facts resulted in the plea deal. That was essentially the contract between Chicago --
HERMAN: Criminal. Criminal case.
FRIEDMAN: -- and that's what this is about.
FRIEDMAN: Prosecutors -- prosecutors fumble cases all the time. In fact, one of my dear friends, a federal judge, said they screwed things up. This is screwed up. It's over.
But guess what, our segment is not over, Avery and Richard.
WHITFIELD: Stick around, we got another case.
Up next, Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, is fighting to suppress secret recordings of him allegedly soliciting sex acts at the Florida spa. The so-called sneak-and-peek warrant that's being scrutinized, next.
[13:53:15] WHITFIELD: Attorney's for Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, say secret recorders of the billionaire allegedly soliciting sex acts at a spa in Florida should be suppressed. A so-called sneak-and-peek warrant allowed investigators to search the property without notifying the subject of the warrant until later. In a statement, Kraft's attorneys write, "The Jupiter Police Department resorted to the most drastic, invasive and discriminant spying conceivable by law enforcement, taking continuous video recordings of private massages in which customers would be stripping naked as a matter of course in order to prosecute what are, at most, misdemeanor offenses."
Our legal guys are back, part two, Avery and Richard.
Avery, you first.
Isn't Florida a two-party state? If that is the case, doesn't Kraft's attorneys, you know, have a good argument here?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I don't know what kind of warrant was issued or what authority local law enforcement has, but, frankly, in a case like this where there's been this ongoing effort to deal with sex slavery, we need to know the background. We haven't seen the back argument. At the end of the day, Robert Kraft is no different than 300 other guys going to the Orchids of Asia. And none of them got orchids, by the way. Basically, what's --
FRIEDMAN: I think they got a number of different things, but it wasn't an orchid. At any event --
FRIEDMAN: Interestingly enough, Mr. Kraft has indicated he is not guilty of a crime. He's gone back to the fans in New England and apologized for not doing anything wrong. We'll see what happens.
WHITFIELD: Richard, this sneak-and-peek warrant, is there validity here? Do Kraft's attorneys have the upper hand?
[13:55:08] HERMAN: It's a really good motion that was filed on behalf of Robert Kraft. The Florida legislature spoke out on what cases they will permit sneak-and-peek warrants and which they will not. One of the cases excluded is prostitution. This was clearly, in Jupiter, a prostitution investigation. So, if the judge buys that argument, this is going to be suppressed. They are going to be successful on that. Fred, the two-party consent, you are right. They had the volume off. They were not recording sound. It was just visual. So --
WHITFIELD: Doesn't that apply to both visual and audio? The two party?
HERMAN: You know, I think --
HERMAN: It's the audio. The two-party consent for audio, I think, is where it falls down. This is not a slam dunk. We don't see the response by the government. Next week, that's going to come in. Again, this is a well -- I look at the motion. It's well written. It's based on really good law. I think Kraft has to worry more what the NFL is going to do with him when this is over with.
HERMAN: Right now, he passed on a diversion program and getting a complete dismissal. He wouldn't take that. If he loses the motion -- by the way, even if he wins the motion and the video is out, the prosecution can make a deal with the masseuse --
HERMAN: -- and have her come in to --
HERMAN: -- and still prosecute him and still convict him.
FRIEDMAN: Absolutely right.
HERMAN: So there's a lot of problems --
WHITFIELD: Avery, last word. FRIEDMAN: Last work, basically --
FRIEDMAN: -- I think he's got a lot of problems. He's got a lot of problems with this case. It's not going to evaporate. It's a much of a larger issue concerning sex slavery. It's not just what happened at the spa, and I think that will come out. I think the motion is going nowhere and I think he has to face the music.
WHITFIELD: Oh, boy.
Avery Friedman, Richard Herman --
WHITFIELD: -- good to see you. Times two, in one hour.
HERMAN: A full hour next time, Fred.
WHITFIELD: OK. We'll work on that.
WHITFIELD: Have a good one. Have a great weekend.
FRIEDMAN: Take care.
HERMAN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: A quick check of more of our top stories right now.
Police have released bodycam video of a standoff in Georgia that ended with three people dead, including an expectant mother. Listen to how it all unfolded.
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WHITFIELD: You can see police breaking open the front door and, of course, the garage door. The gunman took a pregnant woman and her 16- year-old son hostage. The standoff ended when the gunman killed himself. Once inside the home, police discovered the woman and her son dead from gunshots.
The University of North Carolina's woman's basketball coach is denying she made racist remarks to players. Instead, Coach Sylvia Hatchell says she was referencing a television show. A spokeswoman tells CNN Hatchell was trying to pump up the players by saying, quote, "In the ACC, they are going to string you up and hang you out to dry." A line she claims comes from the old western show, "Gunsmoke." Hatchell's attorney says the coach may be tough on players but doesn't have a racist bone in her body. He denied Hatchell forced players to play through injury. Hatchell and her staff have been put on leave amid an investigation.
A flight from Knoxville to Houston had to land in Dallas after a mechanical issue. Listen to the frightening message the passengers heard from the cockpit.
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UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: We lost two of our screens. Now, if we kept flying, we would lose them all, eventually.
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WHITFIELD: The Express Jet Airlines flight landed safely. The airline worked to rebook customers on the next available flight.
We have much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. It all starts right now.
Hello, again, everyone. Thanks for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin with the showdown over President Trump's tax returns. His lawyers have been preparing for this moment for months. The Democrats have formally requested the documents from the IRS. An administration official says they are willing to take this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That official saying, quoting, "This is a hill and people would be willing to die on it. We will see you in court."
Meanwhile, acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, is holding a meeting at Camp David this weekend to discuss health care. This comes after President Trump said this week he does not plan to hold a vote on health care until after the 2020 election.
[14:00:01] All of this happening as the fight brews on, on Capitol Hill, over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report.