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Soon Key Player in College Scam Expected to Plead Guilty; Loughlin & Husband "Not Ready" to Make Plea Deal; Chicago Sues Jussie Smollett over "Hoax" Hate Crime; Democrats Struggle to Win Over Home State Voters; Andrew Yang Plans to Use 3-D Holograms to Campaign in 3 Places at Once; Biden Leads Polls Despite Accusations of Unwanted Touching & Not in Race Yet; Buttigieg/Pence Feud Over Faith & Gay Marriage Gets Personal; Trump Pushed Plan to Dump Migrants in Sanctuary Cities to Retaliate against Democrats Opposing His Policies; Rosenstein Defends Barr's Memo on Mueller Report. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 12, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: And we know the judiciary has been very bothered by some of things Trump has said. We know he even got into a spat with Chief Justice John Roberts when the president called a certain judge an "Obama judge." And Roberts issued a rare statement saying, "We're not Obama judges or Clinton judges or Bush judges." But this is reaching a new boiling point and this judge's comments are really, really unprecedented.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Stunning. His candor. And imagine what else is in his in-box.

Ariane De Vogue -- and so many others around the country -- thank you for sharing that.

Right now, we are waiting for word from a Boston courtroom where, any minute now, a key player in the college admissions scandal is expected to enter a guilty plea. Mark Riddell, who prosecutors described as a really smart guy, is expected to admit he took college placement tests, like the SAT, for the children of wealthy parents and took bribes. He's charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering in a scheme that ensnared celebrities and financial and business leaders. Riddell faces up to 20 years in prison. Last month, he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence.

And now to the celebrity parents who are accused of paying half a million dollars to get their two daughters into USC. Sources are telling CNN that Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer, Mossimo Giannulli, are not ready to enter a plea and wish the media would leave them alone. And friends of the daughter, Olivia Jade, said she is devastated and completely embarrassed by the charges facing her parents.

CNN legal analyst, Jennifer Rodgers, is a former federal prosecutor.

And to hear that the Loughlins, despite all of this piling up against them, they are not in plea talks and appear to be playing hard ball. Why? What would their strategy be? JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is hard for those people who

have never been in trouble with the law, law-abiding, to accept they have gotten into the problem. Even though they have lawyers explaining, it takes a while to accept the situation and realize it may be to their benefit to take a plea deal earlier rather than late. They've already had the money laundering charges added to the case so prosecutors are playing a bit of hard ball, too, and that is to the detriment of the people who plead guilty later in the process.

BALDWIN: And turning the page and ask about what's going on in Chicago and the continuing Jussie Smollett story. So the city of Chicago is suing the "Empire" actor, Jussie Smollett, for $130,000 that cost the city in investigating what they call a hoax. Do you think the suit has legs?

RODGERS: It does, if they can prove it was a hoax and he wrongfully caused them to expend money. So this civil suit will be about, did he, in fact, do that, make the wrongful statements to make the police expend the resources and how much was actually spent and whether it was justifiably spent given the information that they had at the time and those sorts of things.


Jennifer, thank you --

RODGERS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: -- very much.

In the 2020 race, why some candidates are struggling to win over voters in their own home states.

Plus, hear one candidate's plan to roll out 3-D holograms so he can campaign in three places at once.


[14:37:21] BALDWIN: As Mayor Pete Buttigieg prepares to make his announcement for the presidency, he is gaining ground in two new polls out of Iowa -- excuse me, Iowa and New Hampshire. He now sits below Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

But if the 2020 field gets crowded, some candidates have yet to convince voters in their home states they could win an election against President Trump.

CNN senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten, is here.

And talk about the home states and how well or not --


HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: It turns out a few of the candidates aren't doing too well in their home states which, to me, indicates they might have troubles down the road. BALDWIN: That is a problem.

ENTEN: Because those are the voters that know them best. Look at this. This is in New York. This is among Democrats. And obviously, Kirsten Gillibrand is from New York, the Senator from New York. Her net favorably rating is plus-22. That is behind Harris, Warren, and Booker and Biden. And Bill de Blasio is looking to run. His net favorable ability, minus-two. More Democrats statewide hold an unfavorable than a favorably view of him. It is unbelievable to be honest.

BALDWIN: So that is New York.

ENTEN: That's New York. Let's go to Massachusetts. Elizabeth Warren, it is an average of polls that I took among Massachusetts Democrats who they prefer for the Democrat nomination. Elizabeth Warren is running third in her own home state against Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Once again, this is another sign of someone, if you can't convince voters in your own home state, you should be the one to take down President Trump? How will you convince the voters in the other states where they don't know you as well?

And finally, California, Kamala Harris. A poll out, Joe Biden was leading the field. Kamala Harris at 17 percent, almost 10 points behind Joe Biden and just behind Bernie Sanders.

So we saw four candidates running for the Democratic nomination who aren't so beloved by home states.

BALDWIN: And if they just have holograms.

ENTEN: I'm a big fan of holograms.

BALDWIN: Can we talk about holograms?

ENTERN: I'd love to talk about holograms.

BALDWIN: Democratic presidential hopeful, Andrew Yang, has an idea of how to be in three places at once. Hit me.

ENTEN: Oh, my goodness gracious. What -- what in the world is -- I think he's dancing with Tupac there. My belief, folks, if we're going to dance with dead celebrities, we should dance with Adam West to do the bat dance. Look at this.


BALDWIN: What do I say? What do I say to this?

So he seriously --

ENTEN: He is seriously thinking of doing this thing. Which was a unique and a different candidacy. There are 20-plus Democrats running this time around, right, Brooke, so --

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: So separate yourself and be the hologram guy.

ENTEN: Be the hologram guy. That is better than being other things. At least we're talking about him on national TV, so there you go.

[14:40:04] BALDWIN: Harry Enten --

ENTEN: Thank you so much, Brooke.

BALDWIN: -- thank you so much.

The funny thing is you're still going to be doing that in five minutes.


BALDWIN: We'll come back to you.

A major takeaway from all of the polls Harry just mentioned here, former Vice President Joe Biden leading across the board, despite accusations he made women uncomfortable, and despite the fact that he hasn't even announced yet, folks. Let's remind everyone of that.

The former mayor of Tallahassee in 2018, Democrat candidate for Florida governor, Andrew Gillum, is with me. He's not a CNN political commentator.

And, Mr. Mayor, it is a pleasure. Welcome.

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you so much, Brooke, for having me.

I want to hear more about this hologram conversation.


BALDWIN: Would you like to be in three places at once and be an Andrew Gillum hologram?


GILLUM: Look, this is a big country and a lot of states and ground to cover. I'm not mad at the hologram idea.


BALDWIN: I'm not mad either.

GILLUM: Don't know how it will go over with voters.

BALDWIN: So former Vice President Joe Biden, and we've seen his history come back recently, whether discussion about what happened in 1991 and the Anita Hill hearings or the complicated history of racial segregation and busing. So do you think that having decades and decades of well-documented public service is a help or hindrance for him? GILLUM: Well, I mean, I think for him having decades and decades of

public service has certainly earned him a lot of goodwill and favor amongst Democrats. I think we could suspend with the idea that he's a known entity and, therefore, would be leading in the polls because, as these latest polls show, even in areas where we correct for recognition, Joe Biden still has a pretty resilient lead in front of some of the other candidates. I'll tell you, in all honesty, I didn't lead in a single poll in my Democratic primary and, yet, we won that primary. So it is still early. Polls tell us something but it doesn't tell us everything about a race. That is for sure.

BALDWIN: I got you. I hear what you're throwing down on polls.

Let's talk about Pete Buttigieg, the mayor in -- out of Indiana, out of South Bend. Making headlines for calling out Vice President Mike Pence on his anti-LGBTQ belief. And Mike Pence is hitting back. Listen.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Pete's quarrel is with the First Amendment.


PENCE; All of us in this country have the right to our religious beliefs. I'm a Bible-believing Christian.


PENCE: My wife and I are -- my wife and I are Bible-believing Christians.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: I'm not critical of his faith. I'm critical of bad policies. I don't have a problem with religion. I'm religious, too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people.


BALDWIN: So we have heard Joe Biden call Pence a great guy and he was then later pressured to apologize. And now you have Mayor Pete Buttigieg escalating this feud with Mike Pence, having the current vice president be his essentially foe. Do you think that is a smart political strategy?

GILLUM: Well, I think what is smart and I have to admire and appreciate about Mayor Pete is that he's actually talking openly about his faith and how his faith informs his public policy from the standpoint of, what does it mean to care for the sick, for the poor, for the downtrodden. I think it gives us a little bit of an insight into the type of person that he is and the kind of moral fabric that he might be guided by. But I would caution, we are electing a president and not a pope. I think where Mayor Pete could be strongest is by using whatever his faith, whatever his guiding light might be as a way to inform voters of a moral campus, if you will. Whether you are Jewish or whether you are nation of Islam or whether you are a Christian, all of us deduct some parts of our faith tradition to inform how it is that we interact with each other, how it is that we believe public policy should be used to serve more people. I think that that is the lane he should stay in. I don't think it is worth it to go after the vice president or anybody else on what they're tradition might be.


BALDWIN: But you don't -- you don't --


BALDWIN: If I may, you don't think that elevates him? The sheer fact we're talking about him on national television is because he's picking a fight with the current vice president. You don't think that is in a way helping him politically.

GILLUM: I think what helped him was an hour on CNN during a debate that yielded him, what, raising near $700,000 after his appearance. I think what people are being attracted to, it may or may not be the ultimate policy positions he holds. I think they like the way he thinks. I think that he is helping voters to get a sense of who he is and what drives him. I think the more he does that, the better the ground is that he gets to stand on. But what I want to hear from Mayor Pete is a continued lifting up of what informs his values and suspend with what -- whatever belief systems drive other politicians or candidates.

[14:45:16] BALDWIN: OK. Lastly, from a mayoral perspective, with your experience, I want to get reaction to the story of the news today that the president's immigration fight that he is considering -- check his tweet -- sending these migrants, detainees to sanctuary cities as retribution to Democrats. If Tallahassee was a sanctuary city, how would you handle that directive?

GILLUM: Well, I think -- just when the president can't go any lower, he does. First of all, I want to test the assertion. We know that, based off the numbers that people from immigrant communities, foreign- born folk commit crimes at a lesser rate than native-born people here in the United States. Those are just the facts. And the fact he's using this as a dog whistle to say all brown people or all people that are immigrants into the United States are here to commit crimes, we ought to reject that outright. But to have a president that attempts to divide us at this level, dividing us off the ridiculous tropes is an embarrassment. The president ought to worry about governing instead of attempting retributive act against Democrats. We value diversity here. We value immigrants in our community. And what he ought to be doing is figure out ways we can solve the immigration problem in this country by helping people get here and, quite frankly, do so in a way that uplifts humanity rather than dividing us and causing us to be suspect of each other simply because we have a different shade of skin or a different language that we may speak or a different country that we may have originated from.

BALDWIN: Andrew Gillum, thank you very much. GILLUM: Thank you for having me, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You got it.

He reportedly offered to wear a wire around the president and now he is defending the attorney general's memo on the Mueller report. The bizarre roller coaster ride of Rod Rosenstein.


[14:51:41] BALDWIN: Now to the man who gave Robert Mueller his job, the special counsel. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is defending his new boss, Attorney General Barr and Barr's letter detailing principle conclusions from the Mueller report. Democrats have been condemning the four-page letter for not disclosing enough as it cleared the Trump campaign in coordination with the Russians. And Rosenstein told the "Wall Street Journal" this about the A.G., quote, "He's being as forthcoming as he can, and so this notion that he is trying to mislead people is just completely bizarre."

CNN senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is with me.

And, Evan, Rosenstein once talked, as we reported a while ago, about wearing that wire, and now that the defense in Barr's letter reminds us how hard Rod Rosenstein is to pin down. Is he a friend or a foe of the president?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That is a great way to put it. I think Rod Rosenstein is the ultimate survivor in this administration and this Justice Department. Certainly, Brooke, a few months ago, when he very nearly got ousted from his job and now he's a key part of what Bill Barr is doing to show a unified front as he goes through this report and gets ready to release it to the public.

Here is more of what he said to the "Wall Street Journal." It is fascinating. He said, quote, "It would be one thing if you put out a letter and said, I'm not going to give you the report. What he said is, look, it is going to take a while to process the report. In the meantime, people want to know what is in it. I'm going to give you the top-line conclusions. That is all he was trying to do."

And I think that is exactly what Bill Barr is trying to get people to understand. That he and Rod Rosenstein together, along with apparently Bob Mueller team, are going through the report together. They are locking arms to try to show unified front. They know there's going to be a lot of criticism from members of Congress. And I think Rod Rosenstein knows -- this is probably just another few days in office before he leaves, finally, right? And I think he's trying to do this as one last thing that can perhaps burnish his credentials on the way out of the door.

I think, Brooke, you put it so well, the idea that somebody would talk about at one point -- he said jokingly -- that he would wear a wire and now we see the guy who is helping Bill Barr essentially present this report. It is quite a turn for Rod Rosenstein.


Evan, thank you, in Washington for us this afternoon.

PEREZ: Thanks.

[14:54:06] BALDWIN: A disturbing video of a teenager being punched and dragged down the stairs of her school by police officers. Hear what her father is now doing.


BALDWIN: Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Today, President Trump is admitting he is playing revenge politics in his fight to secure the border. The president confirming that he does, indeed, want to put immigrant detainees on buses and send them into cities to spite Democrats. He tweeted so. Here's what he said: "Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are, indeed, as reported, giving strong consideration to placing illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities only."