Return to Transcripts main page


Biden Apologizes; Huge Fund-Raising Numbers For Elizabeth Warren; Jeffrey Epstein Indicted on Sex Trafficking Charges. Aired 3- 3:30p ET

Aired July 8, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Jeffrey Epstein is sitting behind bars in a Manhattan jail, after federal prosecutors accused him of luring dozens of girls to his home as part of this massive sex trafficking ring.

Epstein entering a not-guilty plea in a Manhattan court today hours after the Southern District of New York revealed details of his alleged actions.


GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: The underage girls were sometimes recruited by current victims, and the current victims were given cash payments if they could bring other underage girls to be similarly abused. And that's how he continued to expand the number of new victims that he had.

And that's how it was able to maintain itself over several years.


BALDWIN: CNN criticism and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz is live outside that U.S. attorney's office here in New York.

And, Shimon, we know Epstein has had a couple of appearances today before a judge. So take us inside the hearings. What was discussed, and what's the story with bail?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So he's still in jail. He's not getting bail. He won't know that decision until July 15, when he's going to be back here in court.

And, ultimately, that is when the judge is going to decide whether or not he should be released on bail. The judge has given his attorneys some time to file some documents, if they want, arguing why he should get bail.

Obviously, prosecutors here objecting to any kind of bail. They say his wealth, his connections, he has private planes, he has many cars, if he wanted to flee, he would have -- pretty easily for him to fleet. What we saw inside court is a very different Jeffrey Epstein. He was

dressed in a blue -- a navy blue jail uniform. He walked in. He pleaded not guilty. And then he just sat there and he listened. Prosecutors revealed that more potential victims have come forward since his arrest.

That is significant, and we see that a lot in these kinds of cases, perhaps people not fearing him anymore because he is in custody, the fact that he's now been brought to court and is facing charges. People have now come forward, they say. They have called their tip line. They have called their hot line and they have come forward.

And so prosecutors are going to interview them. And this could be potentially more charges, obviously, for Epstein. And then we heard a little bit from his attorneys. And we got a little look inside of where they're heading and what they're thinking in terms of their arguments here and what they're going to say ultimately.

And it could ultimately come down to a legal question, right, this whole issue perhaps of double jeopardy. And what they're saying is that this is a do-over. They have already seen this investigated, these crimes investigated in Florida. This is where Epstein signed the controversial non-prosecution agreement.

He never expected, certainly, Epstein, that he would have to face these charges. And his attorneys are saying this is a do-over, this has already been investigated.

What we learned from obviously the Southern District of New York is that, you know what, this is not a do-over. We were allowed to bring charges against them because that non-prosecution agreement didn't prevent us, the Southern District of New York, from going ahead and filing these charges.

So that is what gave them the jurisdiction and what they feel the legal right to go ahead and pursue these charges.

And one last point I want to make, Brooke. What we learned also today is that they found even more evidence inside his $77 million mansion here on Manhattan's Upper East Side. They found a trove of lewd photos of underage girls, they believe, of women. They're going to be looking at that to see if there's going to be any more charges that they can bring in connection with that.

So there's a lot more still going on here. And this case by no means in any way over. I think, in many ways, this is just the beginning here.

BALDWIN: Yes, it sounds like from a former federal prosecutor that I have talked to, a 13-page indictment means there -- stay tuned. There's more to come.

Shimon, excellent job out there. Thank you very much in Manhattan for us.

James Gagliano is a retired FBI supervisory special agent and a CNN law enforcement analyst. And Areva Martin is a civil rights attorney and a CNN legal analyst.

So, Areva, I want to dive in actually the last point Shimon was making, about -- so, Epstein's current attorney argued today that this is -- his words -- a do-over a Florida investigation more than 10 years ago, right? And that investigation ended with what "The Miami Herald" referred to as the deal of a lifetime, a non-prosecution deal for Epstein brokered by then U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida and now current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.

As a result, and even though nearly three dozen victims were identified by police as possible victims, Epstein avoided federal charges and served 13 months in county jail, among some other things.

So my question to you is. SDNY says New York is not bound by that agreement. Do you think there's any risk of double jeopardy?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: None whatsoever. I think that argument is dead on arrival.


A couple of things here that we have to point out. What he eventually pled guilty were very insignificant state charges. I think one was soliciting prostitution. But he did not plead guilty to any federal charges.

And, definitely, there was no plea to sex trafficking, which is the charge that has been brought up against him now in New York, sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. There's no statute of limitation with respect to the sex trafficking charge.

We know that some of these crimes happened in New York. So the New York federal prosecutors have jurisdiction. We know that they were not bound by this non-prosecution agreement that was entered into between the federal prosecutors and Florida.

So I think the New York case is on very solid ground. And, in addition, as we just heard from the reporter, there is an ongoing investigation. There was already evidence seized from his mansion that suggests there may be additional charges based on what was taken out of that mansion.


MARTIN: And victims are finding their voices.


MARTIN: They are coming forward, and they are telling their stories. So there may be charges outside of those that were revealed today.

So I think this is a great day for justice for those victims that have had the courage to come forward to talk about this horrific sex trafficking case.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes. So, maybe, to Shimon's point, James, they feel more comfortable or better knowing he is behind bars, and they feel like they can use their voices.

But listening to the FBI today,they made a plea to anyone who may have been victimized by this man or any sort of scheme to come forward. Do you think this is just the beginning?


I have heard a number of people say, much -- smart legal heads talking, and saying that this is -- there going to be more superseding indictments on this. Look, Brooke, we have talked about this before. The pursuit of justice is not always timely, it's not always punctual, but it is inevitable.

And this has been going on for 20 years. There are a number of folks like me in law enforcement and former law enforcement that looked at that initial deal that he got in the Southern District of Florida, and...

BALDWIN: And you thought what?

GAGLIANO: We scratched our heads and we say, I have seen good plea deals and good non-prosecution agreements. I have seen, hmm, some that I would say, boy, they're a little suspect.

And then I have seen the Jeffrey Epstein deal. It is just -- it's incomprehensible to me how, when you sign a non-pros agreement, you're agreeing to pay restitution, you're agreeing to cooperate, you're agreeing to admit certain material facts.

But the fact that they allowed, as Areva pointed out, state charges so minimal, solicitation of a prostitute, when he was looking at charges that could have put him in jail for decades.

BALDWIN: Served 13 months.

Areva, we have got to talk about Alex Acosta. Right? So part of Alex Acosta's duties as labor secretary are to fight trafficking. A senior administration official tells CNN that the latest developments with Epstein are -- quote -- "a significant event."

Can he keep his job?

MARTIN: No, I think we should be talking about his resignation, maybe even his firing, although that's unlikely, given what we have seen from this administration.

But there has to be some consequences. A federal judge has already ruled that he violated the law, that that agreement violated the law, because it did not inform the victims of the crimes involving Epstein. They didn't even find out until almost a year after the agreement was entered into.

He had essentially already served his time. Those victims were not given an opportunity to participate, have any input into that agreement. And a judge has already made it very clear that that was a direct violation of the law.

And I don't know how Acosta continues to serve this country, to be a part of this administration, given that he entered into this agreement and did not hold Epstein accountable for the very serious crimes that clearly there was evidence to charge him with and to give him what you have described and we know that the newspaper, Julie Brown has described as the deal of a lifetime.

BALDWIN: Deal of a lifetime, yes.

BALDWIN: Back on Jeffrey Epstein.

So the way in which, James, he was arrested, I mean, they knew his flight plans, they grabbed him the second his plane touched the ground. Why would law enforcement need to do that?

GAGLIANO: Couple of concerns.

One is, this is a man not just of some means, but of infinite means. He's a billionaire. He owns an island in St. Thomas. So the concern would be, if he left, he'd never come back. And he would certainly be able to live somewhere with all the riches and the wealth that he's got stockpiled.

The other concern is this. People say all the time, why does the FBI or why do law enforcement send 10 police officers and five other agents to go make an arrest on a white-collar crime or in a crime like this on a sexual predator who's shown no indication of violence?

The problem is, sometimes, these are the most dangerous folks because they have the most to lose. And in this instance, you got a man who is a billionaire who's now looking at spending the rest of his natural life in jail. I think they handled it right.

As soon as that plane touched down in Teterboro on Saturday, they grabbed him, unsealed the indictment today. And, Brooke, I suspect there will be follow-on indictments.


BALDWIN: That's what I keep hearing from all these very, very bright lawyers.

We learned, Areva, that during the search warrant at Epstein's New York home, as you mentioned off the top in talking about these women finding their voices, all these nude photographs, this is more of them is what they found, appears to be underage girls.

Do you think this will bring about a whole new set of charges for this man?

MARTIN: I certainly hope so, Brooke. i hope that all of that evidence leads to what we know to be the case, is that this is a predator. And the reporting by Julie Brown and her team...

BALDWIN: Phenomenal.

MARTIN: ... the victims that have come forward, just unbelievable.


MARTIN: What they have revealed and what we know cause the prosecutors, although they haven't stated it outright, we have to imagine that that kind of reporting and the high-profile media attention that was given to this case...


BALDWIN: Forced their hand.

MARTIN: Forced those prosecutors in New York to say, we have to do something about this. we cannot sit by silently while these women are telling their stories and not look at this case again.

And just kudos to the reporting team and to the women. We have been talking a lot in this country about affluenza. This is affluenza on steroids. This is a guy who used all his power, his connections to the most powerful people in the world, and his money to get this sweetheart deal that no one -- we can't even imagine someone else walking into a situation like this, having 36 women talk about being mistreated by him, being sexually assaulted -- not mistreated, sexually assaulted -- and not serving substantial jail time.


MARTIN: And I just want to say this, Brooke.

Not only does my heart go out to the women. These were poor women. These were poor girls who were preyed upon, whose families were from disadvantaged and low-income communities. So not just -- it just breaks my heart for the women. But it also breaks my heart for little girls who felt like they needed to put themselves in this situation maybe to better their lives or better the lives of their families.

BALDWIN: Yes, yes. Thank you for that, Areva Martin and James Gagliano. Guys, thank you very much.

MARTIN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We are following breaking news in the 2020 race, Senator Elizabeth Warren turning in an impressive $19 million in fund-raising this past quarter, despite turning away big corporate donors.

Plus, former Vice President Joe Biden changing course again and apologizing for remarks he made about working with segregationist senators. What this signals about his own campaign.

And, later, we are live in New York, as the world champion U.S. women's soccer team is about to return to the U.S. soil -- all the details on the plans to celebrate their World Cup win.

You are watching CNN on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Back in just a moment.




SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's been the case that I haven't done any closed-door fund-raisers. I haven't been out there selling access to my time to the richest people.

I have been on the ground. I have done 105 town halls. I have been in 23 states, plus Puerto Rico.


WARREN: You bet. We're way past 35,000 selfies now. There's the key.


WARREN: But what it does is, it keeps me having a chance to hear from everybody ,a chance to have somebody walk up there, they get in a selfie line and say, here's what matters to me. Have you -- am I in your plan?


BALDWIN: Senator Warren down at Essence Fest in New Orleans. She says she has a plan. And Senator Elizabeth Warren's supporters just made it very clear they like those plans.

Her campaign just clocked in $19.1 million for her second quarter, totaling more than both Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.

But what makes this haul even more noteworthy is that Senator Warren has refused to accept any cash from big money corporate donors or political action committee.

So with me now, Wes Lowery. He's a national reporter for "The Washington Post" and a CNN contributor.

And this is a wow for the Massachusetts senator, right, I mean, 19.1. How do you interpret this?


I mean, this is a huge haul of money. And I think that you have to take these numbers, and you have to partner them with Pete Buttigieg's numbers. He came out. And he's kind of the leading Democratic candidate for quarter two, with up over 20 -- it was $24 million in that quarter. And it speaks to how especially small-money donors, but all Democratic

donors, are looking for new and fresh candidates and ideas. Look, there was a world in which we could have come into this primary and Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden could have eaten up all the money.

And, instead, what we have seen is, we have seen a bunch of other candidates who have had relatively successful fund-raising hauls.

With Warren, it's fascinating because, again, she has eschewed the big-money donors, instead has gone a small-donor-only route. And she has proven that that's not a strategy that only works for Bernie Sanders, that another candidate is able to take that on themselves and find success.


And so it speaks to, again, especially for a lot of Democrats who very often talk about the corrupting influence of money in politics, it crafts a pathway for candidates to be able to sustain a substantial campaign without having to spend all their time calling big-money donors.

BALDWIN: Talking to M.J. Lee, who covers her for us here at CNN, saying the average donation 28 bucks, 28. And she got to $19.1 million.

Let's talk Joe Biden, the front-runner in this race, Wes. The former vice president is now apologizing for defending his work with segregationists. This has happened after we all saw he clashed with Senator Kamala Harris over at the first Democratic debate.

So let me just play Biden's apology and then Harris' reaction. Here we go.


JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again?

Yes, I was. I regret it.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, he says he is sorry. I'm going to take him at his word.

But, again, that doesn't address the issue of busing in America, and the fact that he still -- we have to -- we cannot rewrite history about what segregationists were doing at that time on a number of issues, including opposing busing.


BALDWIN: You will remember Biden was quite unapologetic when this rift first bubbled up.

What, Wes, does his apology signal to you just about the overall status of his campaign?

LOWERY: Certainly.

I mean, this does feel like a reset. It feels as if the Biden campaign must be tired of having this conversation, which, again, was a bit of a self-inflicted stumble here. It's remarkable, because when you listen to Joe Biden make that apology, it comes across as humble. It comes across as understanding.

And it's pretty remarkable that wasn't something he thought to do weeks ago, during the debate, perhaps. But one of the reasons I think this issue, this debate around busing has staying power, because a lot of people are saying, why are we even talking about domestic policies from the '70s, right?

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

LOWERY: One of the reasons this has staying power is we have to member this is the first wide-open primary the Democratic Party has had in a decade, since Barack Obama became the candidate. Certainly, there was a fight between Bernie and Hillary, but most of the establishment moved out of the way and said, Hillary Clinton's going to be the candidate.

And so, because of that, there's a desire among the grassroots, among voters, among activists to really drill into what are the differences around any number of issues between Democrats and the different ideas, right? And so when you think about something like education and access to equitable education, to issues like the integration and the continued levels of school segregation, that's something that tons of Democratic activists have talked about, have been worried about, have been upset about.

And this primary gives them an opportunity to hash these things out on a national scale in the way they haven't before. And so there are going to be other issues like this as the campaign continues to play out that might seem like, well, why are we all the way in the weeds on this thing?

And it's because the base wants to have these fights. They want to have these conversations, and they want to -- they want to debate and analyze what the best steps moving forward might be. And some might argue it's a healthy part of the primary process.

BALDWIN: But the microbursts in the cycle that we all cover that mean a lot, I know, to these candidates.

And regarding this primary, speaking of Essence Fest down in New Orleans, Michelle Obama was there. And she was asked -- in this wide- ranging interview, she was asked about the 2020 campaign and this was her response:


QUESTION: What, if anything, would you like to say about the Kamala- Biden dustup? He apologized today. You have been following that? Do you have any thoughts about that?




QUESTION: Let me ask you this.

OBAMA: Barack and I are going to support whoever wins the primary. So we're -- our primary focus is letting the primary process play out.


BALDWIN: Diplomatic there, Wes. What did you think of her response?

LOWERY: Extremely diplomatic.

I'm just jealous she's down in New Orleans at Essence Fest, while I'm up here in rainy D.C., but not surprising, very diplomatic. The Obamas have made it pretty clear they're going to stay out of this race, in part because all the reporting suggests they think there's a serious need to get Donald Trump out of the White House.

And so the idea that the president or the first lady, former first lady, might weigh in and then could be wrong, might endorse the wrong candidate, there's no need for them to engage in this politics. So unsurprising that Michelle Obama is going to kind of stay above the fray right now, as is her style anyway.

BALDWIN: Wes Lowery in D.C., stay dry, my friend. Thank you very much.

LOWERY: I'm going to do what I can. Thank you, Brooke.


BALDWIN: Just a quick note to all of you about the next Democratic debate. We are so excited. We are hosting it here at CNN.

The network will do a live draw to determine who faces off each night, so don't miss that. That is Thursday, July 18, the live draw at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up in the next hour, the U.S. women's soccer team is expected to arrive back on American soil after their massive victory in the World Cup. But they still have a court battle looming over equal pay.



MEGAN RAPINOE, U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER PLAYER: I think everyone is ready for this conversation to move to the next step. I think we're done with the, are we worth it, should we have equal pay? I mean, we put on -- as all players, I'm saying -- every player at this World Cup put on the most incredible show that you could ever ask for. We can't do anything more.



BALDWIN: Sadly, the run is over for the teenage tennis sensation who wowed at Wimbledon.

Fifteen-year-old Cori "Coco" Gauff lost