Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Eleventh Death of Mount Everest Climber This Year; Michael Avenatti to Appear in Court Today as Defendant; Zuckerberg and Sandberg to Defy Canadian Court Summons. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 28, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: --- first time since World War II. Those are the dark forces that she's talking about in her own country. But they did not do as well as they were expected to do.

So I think that warning was for Europe, but also for the United States, mindful of the synagogue shootings and other hate-based shootings, our religious shootings are in the United States and, let's say, New Zealand and around the world. Very mindful of that.

And of course, you know, she is coming to give the Harvard commencement address on Thursday. And she wants to bring the story of her personal rise, her personal experience in the Communist East and how she grew to love and respect freedom and democracy.

And while she told me that it was the United States that was responsible and remains responsible for their deep, deep -- you know, fierce commitment to democracy and tolerance.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You know, we all wonder, Christiane, what you asked her when it comes to her relationship with the U.S. president, Donald Trump. And the way you asked it was just so perfect. So set the scene for us.

AMANPOUR: Well, she's obviously been known as the -- the sort of the Donald Trump favorite punching bag. In fact, people have not been able to understand how Donald Trump could really be as he is with her in public, which is doing (ph) -- criticize her on many, many fronts.

But, of course, his White House has said that he's only strong and honest like that to the people he considers friends. So I asked her, did she consider Donald Trump a friend? And I showed her the picture that had gone viral, of her sort of leaning over him during the G7 summit a couple -- a year or so ago, when you remember, there was no communique, they couldn't get Trump on board.

And she gave a very interesting answer. She said, "Yes, we have our differences. But I as a German chancellor have to have the closest relationship with the United States. They are our defenders. They are our principal backers. We are committed to this transatlantic relationship.

"And that picture," she said, "shows that even when we have the contentious times and challenges, that we can keep talking and keep trying to come to consensus." So that was her view of explaining that relationship.

I also showed her the picture of her with George W. Bush and that famous back rub in 2007, I think it was, or 2006 --

HARLOW: Right.

AMANPOUR: -- and then of course with Obama, who shared a close relationship with.

But I reminded her, also, that she was -- or she reminded me, in fact -- the only global leader who welcomed President Trump's election in 2016 --

HARLOW: That's true.

AMANPOUR: -- conditionally. In other words, "We remain very strong allies of you and the United States based on our mutual commitment to shared values."

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Right. Well, she's an experienced politician and diplomat as well. So she's -- pretty good answer on her part. Christiane Amanpour. Thanks very much.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: Fantastic interview.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

HARLOW: It's a great interview. People should watch the entire thing online and on your program, Christiane. Kudos on getting that.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: We have this -- we have this just in to CNN. Changes could be coming for those planning to climb Mount Everest, if you're one of them. This after the death of an 11th climber just this year, just in the span of a few weeks on Mount Everest. New details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:37:40] SCIUTTO: Some news now as we cover that just amazing story on Everest.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Nepal's tourism minister has now said that the country's considering changing how and when climbing permits are issued. This, after an 11th person -- an American from Colorado -- died after reaching the top of Everest. The deaths often happen on the way down, we were hearing. Yes.

HARLOW: Right, that's what I was hearing. The deaths come amid concerns that it's the overcrowding on the world's tallest mountain that has created the -- well, clearly, it's created very dangerous traffic jams near the peak.

Three hundred and eighty-one permits were issued this year. That's only about nine more than were issued last year, though. One interesting note, at this point, Nepal does not require proof of any climbing experience to apply for a permit to attempt this. Joining us now is Les Stroud, host of the TV show "Survivorman."

Les, thank you very much for being here. So --

LES STROUD, HOST, SURVIVORMAN: My pleasure.

HARLOW: -- I just wonder why you think this is happening this year, since there were only eight or nine more permits issued this year than last. What is unique about this year that got them into this predicament?

STROUD: Well, you know, a lot of things are going to conspire when you start putting a lot of numbers in condensed places. Especially, you know, big, beautiful, epic, scenic places to go or challenging, like Mount Everest. I mean, I don't want to be so fatalistic and say, "Oh, it was only a matter of time."

But when you have an unchecked, you know, area that is aggressively dangerous to be in -- and when I say "unchecked," I mean, you know, people going who do not have certification or enough experience to be there, guides leading who do not have certification or enough experience to be leading -- you definitely end up with disaster, unfortunately.

SCIUTTO: So it sounds like -- I'm curious if you support this because, after all, it's a piece of nature and people have, I guess, the right to some degree, to attempt to climb it. But it's creating enormous risks. not only for themselves but for others. Do you need to certify hikers? Do you need to better certify the guides that take them up the mountain as well?

STROUD: Well, there's two questions here. The first one, it depends. I mean, nobody's going to -- you don't want to be having to carry a special certification to hike a gentle trail on, you know, a park that's one hour outside of a city. But Mount Everest is not that.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

STROUD: Nobody really wants a special certification to paddle their canoe at their cottage lake. But going down --

[10:40:04] HARLOW: Right.

STROUD: -- an extreme northern whitewater river is something different altogether.

So on the public side, you have to take things into perspective. On the guide side, a resounding yes. I mean, I've been a longtime proponent of guides being very well-certified, very mature and very experienced. Because when you have inexperienced guides leading the public into these places, you're really -- you know, you're dancing with the devil of what might happen out there, for sure.

SCIUTTO: Plus there are resources. If you get into trouble there, people have to put their lives at risk to rescue you, right? I mean, that's another issue.

HARLOW: And why also --

STROUD: Yes. I think --

HARLOW: Yes. Go ahead, Les.

STROUD: Well, I was going to say. I think, you know, I know that there's been talk around the limiting of numbers. There are so many places that finally did impose limits, especially in North America, and it works. You know, you have to wait a long time to hike the Inca Trail for example --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

STROUD: -- down in South America. There's a great river in Canada called the Nahanni River, a beautiful -- you have to wait. I don't mind waiting. They're still worth the wait and people are out there safely and they're not destroying the area because there are limits imposed. It's just -- there's a lot of people out there right now.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Les Stroud, thank you so much for your expertise on this. Let's hope there are no more deaths. I mean, 11 already this season.

SCIUTTO: That's just brutal.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: We have more news coming up. Stormy Daniels' former attorney. He will be in court twice today on two separate cases, this time as a defendant, not at attorney. New details on the allegations against him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:46:32] HARLOW: All right. So celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti is in court today for not one but two arraignments for allegations in two separate schemes.

TEXT: Avenatti Charges: Accused of stealing nearly $300,000 from former client Stormy Daniels; Accused of trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike

SCIUTTO: These are very serious. Likely facing jail time. The first, for fraud and aggravated identity theft involving his former client -- famous one, Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors say that he stole $300,000 from her. A second arraignment today, this for allegedly attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike.

Joining us now just outside the courthouse, CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.

These are very serious. How quickly could this case proceed, or these two cases proceed?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: These are very serious charges. One of them, really, the worst an attorney could face. Allegations that he stole money, money that was meant for his client but he went ahead and stole it.

And it's how he went about doing it. Prosecutors say that he forced an e-mail, a letter, that he sent to the literary agent that was supposed to pay Stormy Daniels for her book. He forged a letter saying that the money was to go to him directly, and then made up all sorts of excuses as to why Stormy Daniels wasn't going to get that money. In total, it was about $300,000 that prosecutors say he stole from Stormy Daniels.

And then the other case, which he's going to appear for later this afternoon, involves Nike, where they say that he tried to extort them for $25 million.

Both these cases moving pretty rapidly. We're going to see him here today, appear twice. The first is for the arraignment on the Stormy Daniels case. That is set to get under way in about an hour.

Now, so that case, of course, Michael Avenatti, as he has with other cases, has denied any wrongdoing. He says in a statement -- and let me go ahead and read that to you -- that he "looks forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct. At no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled."

TEXT: "I look forward to a jury hearing all of the evidence and passing judgment on my conduct. At no time was any money misappropriated or mishandled. I will be fully exonerated once the relevant e-mails, contracts, text messages, and documents are presented."

PROKUPECZ: He then goes on to say that he has text messages and e- mails and documents that will ultimately prove his case. Obviously a long, big fight and a busy day ahead here for Michael Avenatti, where he's going to appear in both of these cases.

And like you said, Jim, these are some pretty serious charges that could land him in prison for dozens and dozens of years.

HARLOW: Wow.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Just incredible. Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much.

Joining us now to talk about this, CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers. She's a former federal prosecutor. She's now a lecturer at Columbia University Law School.

So he's facing real jail time here, with these charges.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He is, he is, he is, the two cases in New York. He also has a third case in Los Angeles.

So if you look at the statutory maximums, you're talking 30,40 years. But I think realistically, he may face about 10 years, here, in prison.

SCIUTTO: Wow.

HARLOW: So I think, you know, everyone is going to pay attention to the New York cases, the Stormy Daniels one, et cetera. But on the bank fraud charges in California, one example, he won a $4 million settlement for a paraplegic man. And according to the U.S. attorney there, he's what he did with the money. Again, from a paraplegic man.

Quote, "Within months of receiving the settlement in 2015, Mr. Avenatti drained the entire $4 million payment from this trust account using significant portions of those funds to finance his coffee business, his auto-racing empire and his own personal lifestyle."

Is he going to face potentially more jail time if convicted on those fraud charges as well?

[10:50:03] RODGERS: Well, he is because the amounts are bigger. So when you're talking about stealing $4 million, it's a much bigger deal according to the sentencing guidelines than stealing $300,000.

But as you point out, these cases have a lot of jury appeal if you're the government, and absolutely none if you're Michael Avenatti, right? Juries don't like people who steal from paraplegics to, you know, fund their lavish lifestyles. So he's got to try to get a resolution in these cases. He really can't go to trial on this.

SCIUTTO: In other words, plea to try to reduce the sentence? That's what you would recommend?

RODGERS: That's right. For sure. I mean, the extortion case in New York, you know, he could try to make some arguments there --

HARLOW: This is the one with Nike?

RODGERS: That's right. Just because they have to prove that he threatened Nike, that he didn't have a business reason for asking for what he was asking for. You could see trying to roll the dice on that. But the other two cases are basically paper cases. They're provable by the documents. He really, really has no defense here. He should look for a good plea.

HARLOW: He's a fighter.

SCIUTTO: Well --

HARLOW: I mean --

SCIUTTO: He's a lawyer. But sometimes even a good lawyer can't --

HARLOW: Yes. I just -- well, I have a hard time --

SCIUTTO: -- get (ph) you (ph) out (ph) --

HARLOW: -- seeing Michael Avenatti pleading, but I don't know.

SCIUTTO: Do -- I mean, our best read as to what's happening here is there's something of a Ponzi scheme, right? I mean, he was living too big a lifestyle and taking money from Peter to pay Paul, in effect.

RODGERS: That's right. He's taking money in from clients, he's using it to fund other things. Sometimes he's funding other clients, right? With one client's money, just to try to keep them happy and lull them into a sense of "it's OK, he's giving me my money." So, yes, it is similar to a Ponzi scheme or a pyramid scheme. Because he's got to keep all these balls in the air. He doesn't have enough money to pay everybody and fund his lifestyle.

HARLOW: OK. Jennifer Rodgers, thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: He was -- he was running for president just a year ago.

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Remember that? Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Cheryl Sandberg have decided to defy a summons from Canadian lawmakers. Facebook has confirmed that the two will not attend a hearing in Ottawa today, which aimed to look into Silicon Valley's impact on privacy and democracy. Instead, the companies sent two other executives.

HARLOW: So the Canadian folks that set this up said, "Knowing the structure of Facebook and how it's micromanaged right from the top, any change on the platform is done through Mr. Zuckerberg or through Ms. Sandberg."

Now, Facebook is saying, "Look, we are sending two other executives who will be speaking there, just not the top two." Let me read you part of the statement from Facebook.

Quote, "We share the committee's desire to keep people safe and to hold companies like ours accountable. Right now we're focused on engaging in meaningful dialogue with the committee and look forward to answering their questions."

But just not with Sandberg and Zuckerberg.

SCIUTTO: Just not in person, apparently. Exactly.

HARLOW: Right.

All right. This incredible story out of Hawaii this week, that hiker lost for 17 days in that forest, appearing in public for the first time since her rescue. What she is saying about her two-week ordeal and the volunteers who never stopped searching for her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:57:16] SCIUTTO: This is an amazing story and it's a happy one, which is --

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- nice. A hiker in Hawaii who was missing for more than two weeks is thanking -- as you might expect her to -- the volunteers who rescued her.

HARLOW: Her name -- if you don't know it by now -- there she is, Amanda Eller. She disappeared in Maui earlier this month. Seventeen days later, volunteer searchers in a helicopter spotted her deep in the forest near a waterfall. She'd fractured a leg. She had severe sunburn. No shoes, they'd washed away in a flash flood. She lost nearly 15 pounds.

She appeared in public for the first time last night and surprised everyone, thanking the volunteers, speaking -- and thanking them, really, for never stopping looking for her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA ELLER, RESCUED HIKER: I'm just a girl that got lost in the woods. And you guys, like, showed up hard. Like, this is, like, true Aloha.

And I've lived here for four years, and I have never experienced anything like this, where it's just the community is showing up with so much heart and so much passion. And these guys were not going to give up on me.

SCIUTTO: Eller says she survived on fruit, river water, moths -- I believed --

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- and most importantly, the power of will.

HARLOW: It is remarkable. Also remarkable, those who never gave up looking for her. Listen to one of her rescuers, who spoke to our Alisyn Camerota earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAVIER CANTELLOPS, RESCUE MISSION HIKER: We started (ph) bushwhacking (ph) down to her. And I am just (ph) -- we are just, like, charging at full heart (ph), full (ph) speed. Just crazy.

But at the same -- we've got to, like -- we've got to make it, still (ph), down this gulch. So as we're breaking brush all the way down in full-blown jubilation, I couldn't help myself. I already called her dad because I was 1 trillion percent sure it was him -- I mean her, you know?

I was like, "We found her, man!" And as we break -- we're breaking through the brush, I can finally start to see her. And we called out, "Amanda!" And she (INAUDIBLE), "Yeah?" "Do you recognize this voice?" She's like, "Javier?" Like, boom (ph) out of the brush, (INAUDIBLE), "You're damn right it is." It was pretty awesome. It was pretty awesome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: You know, such a great story because I think, you know, the official rescues had given up. And then the parents --

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- hired this helicopter to kind of keep searching --

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- for them --

HARLOW: And a GoFundMe campaign helped pay for it --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: -- right?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Never give up. I mean, if this isn't the definition of that, I don't know what is.

SCIUTTO: How would you do in there --

HARLOW: Not well.

SCIUTTO: I don't think I'd do well.

HARLOW: Moths and river water?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: She's amazing.

SCIUTTO: I've got a lot of respect for her.

HARLOW: Tons.

And him. And the whole team that found her. I love ending on good news. Thank you for joining us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

[10:59:55] SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.

END