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R. Kelly Arrested on Sex Trafficking Charges; Mueller to Testify Before Congress; Sanders' Complicated Relationship with the Democratic Party; Williams Advances in Wimbledon; Markle Mom-Shamed. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 12, 2019 - 06:30   ET



[06:33:08] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, a 3,000 acre brush fire has forced people from their homes in the Hawaiian island of Maui. The airport there was diverting flights at one point, but operations, we are told at this moment back to normal.

Oprah Winfrey has a home on Maui and a private road on her property is now being used to help battle the fire. She confirmed that in a tweet that she gave officials access to it immediately.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: That's very generous of Oprah Winfrey.

Also breaking overnight, singer R. Kelly arrested in Chicago and now facing federal charges for sex crimes.

Brynn Gingras is here with the details.

More legal problems for the singer.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't stop. Bianna, thanks.

A source tells CNN authorities from the NYPD and Homeland Security arrested Kelly on federal sex crime charges while he was walking his dog in Chicago last night. U.S. attorneys in the northern district of Illinois handed down a 13 count indictment, which includes child pornography and obstruction of justice charges. Authorities also say Kelly attempted to influence a case in Atlanta and he's facing sex trafficking charges in New York according to the source.

And we are expecting an indictment in the eastern district to be unsealed later today. That also according to a source.

For the past five months, Kelly had been out of jail on $1 million bail. The 52-year-old pleaded not guilty to ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse in February. Those charges stem from allegations of abuse by four women, three of whom were underage when the crimes allegedly happened from 1998 to 2010. Then there were 11 more charges against Kelly in late May when an Illinois grand jury returned an indictment as it pertained to one of the accusers. Back then his crisis manager, Darrell Johnson, said Kelly denied all the charges against him and he planned to fight them in court.

Well, Johnson is expected to make another statement later this morning. And we're also expected to learn, of course, more of the details of all these new charges.


BERMAN: All right, Brynn, thank you.

Interesting, federal prosecutors with this crackdown on alleged sexual predators over the last few days, which have been --.

[06:35:03] GOLODRYGA: Exactly. A lot of charges against him.

BERMAN: All right, it is the most anticipating House hearing in years. Robert Mueller's Capitol Hill testimony is now just a few days away. But there's some new grumbling going on behind the scenes. We'll tell you what that's about, next.


BERMAN: We're learning new details this morning about what to expect when Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on July 17th. That's next Wednesday. An agreement between congressional Democrats and Robert Mueller allows for two hours for the committee to question the former special council. That means that some junior lawmakers could be shut out because of timing constraints.

Joining us now to discuss, Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "Smerconish."

And, Michael, you can understand that some of these junior lawmakers, who might like to see their face on television, they're not happy that they won't get to ask questions.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": Right. To quote the title of one of my favorite TV shows, I would say, curb your enthusiasm, to those who have high expectations that there will be some stunners delivered at this hearing. I just don't see it. And I don't see it for a variety of reasons.

[069:40:07] First and foremost, he doesn't want to be there and he's already told us that he will limit his testimony to the four corners of the report.

And then the second consideration is what you're addressing, the format blows. It's not a search for truth. It's set up to be an opportunity for individuals to get a campaign moment. Something they can put in a commercial, either grilling Mueller, if you're on one side of the equation, or, you know, sucking up to him if -- if you're in the other.

And it's so disjointed, John. I've taken hundreds, if not a few thousand depositions and the idea of handing off the ball to someone else who now gets their five minutes, by the way, interrupted by someone from the other side of the political fence, it just makes no sense. Think of the hearings for Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, how they were so disjointed. It went from one side of the other side and no one was able to establish a questioning rhythm.

So, for all those reasons, I have very limited expectations.

GOLODRYGA: But this is not your typical hearing. This is something that Democrats are probably going to get one shot at, and that's it.

Do you see a scenario, perhaps, where some would seed their time to more established, more prepared and experienced Democrats, like we saw with Republicans when they did with Congressman Jim Jordan?

SMERCONISH: Bianna, many of them just don't know how to ask a question. You know, to ask a good, tight question that illicit information is really a trial lawyer's skill. And many of the members of Congress, Republican and Democratic, they don't have it. So what you're proposing I think is wise, but I don't think their egos will allow them to do it. Rather than having 20 different people, you know, flip-flopping back and forth, give the assignment to one person, one woman, one man who can drill down and continue to pursue one line of questioning and establish very narrow parameters as to what the subject area might be.

For example, there are these ten instances of potential obstruction of justice. I mean if you're going to try and pursue all ten of them in the span of two hours, which is really one hour because that's all one party will get, you're not going to get anywhere with him. Better that you have a sniper approach instead of a shotgun blast.

BERMAN: All right, Smerconish, you've taken a thousand depositions and you host a radio show where you ask great questions every day. So what question would you ask Robert Mueller? One where you think you might get some answer or shine some light on something.

SMERCONISH: When did you decide that you would reach no conclusion relative to obstruction of justice? Now I'm going to sit back and I'm going to be a good listener and I'm going to pursue a follow-up dependent upon what his answer is to that question, because that's what I really want to know. I wouldn't waste time going into, you know, the ten different instances in the report. I would focus on process, because he has to answer the process question.

And, you know, John, from prior conversations that you and I have had, I also want to get into this whole fairness business. Where, sir, is the basis for your opinion that it would be unfair to a sitting U.S. president to establish a case of criminal culpability? I get that we can't indict a sitting U.S. president, so please don't quote for me that OLC guideline. Instead, I want to know where you derive this issue that it would be fundamentally unfair if you were to articulate criminal conduct on the part of a president. And then I'm sitting back and I'm listening again.

GOLODRYGA: Though all of that makes sense. But as we know, and as has been reported, most Americans, and frankly most members of Congress, have not read the Mueller report. So would it not be helpful to just ask him to recite specific moments from the report that he helped write himself?

SMERCONISH: I -- I get your point. I mean your -- your point is, all right, so use this as a moment to educate the public that was too disinterested or too lazy.

Bianna, here's another consideration. Mueller has the leg up because -- because Robert Mueller knows these 550 pages cold. And you're right, these members of Congress, they -- they don't. So, factually, you know, if you try and pursue him based on the substance of the report, you better be on top of your game. You better be reading in already and this weekend.

BERMAN: I've got to say, I want Michael Smerconish to ask the questions this morning.


BERMAN: He's revved up.

GOLODRYGA: You're ready to go.

BERMAN: Let's book him on your show, all right?

Watch "Smerconish" tomorrow and every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Tomorrow, if our efforts prevail, he will have the special counsel, Robert Mueller, on with him.

GOLODRYGA: I should say, you and I both read the report, right, many times.

BERMAN: Yes. Absolutely.

[06:44:53] GOLODRYGA: Well, Bernie Sanders once said the Democratic Party cannot be turned around. Now he wants the Democratic nomination for president. The complicated relationship, that's coming up next.


GOLODRYGA: Senator Bernie Sanders is a top contender in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But for most of his career in public life, he was a fierce critic of the party and its leaders.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has more on this often stormy relationship.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A big part of the Bernie Sanders brand, take on the powerful in all walks of life.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And tell the corporate elite that they will no longer continue to run this country.

NOBLES: That includes those who might be considered allies. Specifically the Democratic Party.

SANDERS: There's no question in my mind about the Democratic and Republican Parties are out of touch with the needs of the vast majority of working people in this country.

NOBLES: That was Sanders 27 years ago, offering up tepid support for Bill Clinton, then the Democratic nominee for president. For the bulk of his career, Sanders has run and won elections as an independent. And early on, even suggested that the Democratic Party was beyond fixing.

SANDERS: It has been my view for many, many years is that what we need in this country is a Jackson calls a rainbow coalition, but it has to be done outside of the Democratic Party.

NOBLES: In 1989, Sanders wrote in an essay for "Monthly Review" that, quote, now I know that there are people, good and honorable people, people who are friends of mine, who believe that the Democratic Party can be turned around. I don't.

But while Sanders railed against the Democratic Party, it did not take long for him to begin to work with Democrats to lay the groundwork for his progressive revolution, ultimately playing a central role in shifting the Democratic Party message to the left. When he was elected to Congress in 1991, he caucused with Democrats. And while still independent, ran with the endorsement of the Vermont Democratic Party.

[06:50:00] But that did not stop him from attacking Democrats when he felt they were veering off on issues he cared about. His latest, 2012, during Barack Obama's re-election campaign, Sanders made it clear he was an independent, not a Democrat, and pushed Obama to take a more progressive approach to his politics.

SANDERS: Because I'm an independent, not a Democrat. I would have liked the president to be stronger in telling us how we are going to create the millions of jobs we desperately need.

NOBLES: Sanders became a force in the party in 2016 when he decided to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

SANDERS: Do not tell Secretary Clinton. She's getting a little nervous.

NOBLES: Sanders lost that race, but he then endorsed and went to campaign for Clinton. Even today there is lingering resentment in some Democratic circles that he stayed in the race too long and didn't do enough to help her. A charge Sanders flatly rejects.

SANDERS: Oh, really? I didn't know that. I thought I ran all over the country into Nevada and everybody else working as hard I humanly could.

NOBLES: Sander's campaign says they have since supported the campaigns of 169 Democrats running for Congress and he's helped to raise close to $8 million. He's also pledged to run for president as a Democrat and promised to support the party's eventual nominee.

But he's still not afraid to attack what he views as the corporatist wing of the party and argue that while they once called him radical, now many are coming around to his way of thinking. SANDERS: Well, guess what? Virtually all of those ideas are being

talked about by almost every candidate running for the Democratic nomination.


NOBLES: So the next test of Sanders' commitment to the party may come toward the end of the primary. His critics are once again worried that he will stay in the race after it's clear he can't win.

Now, Sanders has hedged on that question, only saying that he intends to win. So does that mean he stays in until he's mathematically eliminated? Does he hang on until the convention? Unlike many in this field, Sanders will have the resources to stay in as long as he wants and drop out only on his terms.

Bianna and John.

BERMAN: That's exactly right.

GOLODRYGA: You're right.

BERMAN: Exactly right. He's got followers who will not desert under any circumstances.

Ryan Nobles, thank you very much for being with us today.

A huge trade overnight in the NBA made just for Bianna Golodryga. Two superstar MVPs reunited. The "Bleacher Report" is next.

GOLODRYGA: Can I tell you how happy I am about that?

Plus, Meghan Markle mom shamed. I'm not happy about this. The new level of criticism hitting the duchess.


[06:56:47] BERMAN: Serena now just one win away from a record 24th grand slam title.

Andy Scholes with much more on Serena Williams in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.


You know, Serena's been searching for that record tying 24th grand slam title for some time now. She hasn't won a major since the 2017 Australian Open. And Serena advancing to tomorrow's Wimbledon final with a straight set win over Barbora Strycova yesterday. The match took less than an hour. Serena is now going to face off against Simona Halep in the finals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SERENA WILLIAMS, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: It's really not about 24 or 23 or 25. It's really just about going out there and giving my best effort no matter what. And no matter what I do, I will always have a great career.


SCHOLES: And this will be Serena's fourth straight Wimbledon final. The match starts 9:00 Eastern tomorrow morning.

All right, we had a massive trade in the NBA last night. The Oklahoma City Thunder trading Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, two first round picks, and the right to swap two more first rounders. The move reunites Westbrook with James Harden, who he played with in Oklahoma City for three seasons. The Rockets back court now has won two of the past three league MVPs.

And, guys, as the former Rockets ball boy on this show, while I liked Chris Paul, pretty excited about this. Any time you can add a former MVP still in his prime, I think you got to do it.

GOLODRYGA: And as a current and forever Rockets fan, I jolted out of bed last night when I saw this. I was so excited. I do think that there seemed to be some tension between Harden and CP3.


GOLODRYGA: So, for all the right reasons, I think this is a very good trade. I'm very excited.

SCHOLES: Got a lot of people wondering if there's going to be enough basketballs in Houston for both of them.

GOLODRYGA: It's a high class problem to have.

SCHOLES: Exactly. We'll make it work.

GOLODRYGA: OK. Thank you so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

GOLODRYGA: Well, someone else who continues to have problems with the media is the Duchess of Sussex. Meghan Markle getting mom shamed. Social media's parenting police pounced on the new mother this week for the way she holds Baby Archie.

CNN's Max Foster live in London with the latest.

Really, Max, over the way a mother holds her child? We're at that?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's see what you think, Bianna. Let's bring up the pictures, because this was Archie's first public outing with his mom. Looks pretty normal on the face of it. But when you look online, she really has been shamed. All these claims that she looks awkward, she's about to drop him, much worse than that as well. It really does feel as though she can't do anything right in public right now.

I went for the official advice. National Health Service in this country saying there is no right or wrong way to hold your baby. The important thing is the parent's comfortable, the baby's head is supported, and they both look pretty happy here. It does feel as though she's under a lot of pressure.

Obviously earlier in the week she was out at Wimbledon as well where spectators complained that they were told not to take pictures of her. She's back there again tomorrow to watch her friend Serena Williams play. So another big, public moment. I'm sure as many cameras will be pointing at her as they are to Serena. Out again on Sunday as well with no less than Beyonce and Jay-z for the "Lion King" premiere. So under a huge amount of pressure.

The irony here, guys, really is the fact that she's under pressure to make more public appearances, but when she does go out, she's criticized for it.

[07:00:08] GOLODRYGA: Right. All right, Max Foster. You know.