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Trump Advocates For Vladimir Putin; Victims' Families Campaign For Gun Control; Epstein Accusers Speak Out; Lori Loughlin in Court. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired August 27, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Court hearings under way in that college commissions bribery scandal that has swept up several celebrities.

Moments ago -- here she was -- "Full House" Lori Loughlin and her husband arrived at that Boston courthouse for a hearing today in the college admissions scam. The couple is accused of paying $500,000 to a fake charity so that their two daughters could get accepted into the University of Southern California.

So let's go straight to Boston and CNN's Scott McLean, who's covering this for us outside the courtroom.

And so we saw her enter. I know she took a lot of heat for signing autographs on the way in last time. What did she do today?


You're right. Last time that she was here back in April, she was waving to her fans, smiling as she walked in the courtroom. The day before, when she first arrived in Boston, she was signing autographs and posing for pictures with some of her fans, which is a bit of a head-scratcher, considering the seriousness of the charges against her.

Today, though, a very different picture. You saw there she went in the back door, rather than the front door that she came in last time. She was holding her husband's hand, not smiling, not waving.

It seems as if she's taking this time a lot more seriously. And perhaps she should. The maximum penalty for the charges that she's facing of fraud and money laundering, along with her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, carries potential sentences of up to 20 years in jail.

As you mentioned, Brooke, she's accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get her two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits, even though the government alleges that neither of them ever took part in rowing.

Now, today's hearing in particular is more of a procedural matter having to do with their attorneys and the potential for a conflict of interests, because they're being charged jointly. They also have the same lawyers, her and her husband. And so that could potentially create an issue if there was ever a conflict between the two of them as this case goes on.

The other potential issue or one of the other potential issues is that one of the law firms that they're using also represented the University of Southern California in a completely separate case, though in this case, they are the victim in this alleged fraud.

So the judge is going to ask them if they understand the risks associated with that arrangement and if they'd like to proceed with the same lawyers -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We will analyze all of that in just a moment.

Scott McLean, for setting it up, thank you very much in Boston.

Now to another court event in New York. A hearing showed how the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein has not silenced his survivors. In an extraordinary move, the judge allowed these accusers, all these women, at least a dozen of them, a chance to speak up and speak on the record about what Epstein allegedly did to them.

The hearing was scheduled after prosecutors told the judge they wanted to dismiss Epstein's indictment. You know Epstein was accused of molesting and attacking dozens of girls and women before his suicide in that Manhattan jail cell 17 days ago.

Several accusers put on the record that Epstein, by killing himself -- quote -- "denied everyone of justice."

But at least one was thankful for the chance not only to be heard, but to also hear from others who suffered and survived.


JENNIFER ARAOZ, EPSTEIN ACCUSER: I just wanted to thank everybody for their constant support during this really difficult time. It was so powerful in their hearing all the other victims and very similar stories that I have endured.

I wanted to thank the judge for letting us speak, having some closure. It's still going to be a rough road, but I also wanted to thank all the survivors that have reached out to me as well and telling me their stories. It really means a lot.

I'm here for anyone that went through something similar. I thank everybody.


BALDWIN: CNN's Kara Scannell was sitting inside that courtroom.

You listened to all of these women firsthand. What did they say?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it was really kind of extraordinary. There were like three-and-a-half rows of women there; 16 of them spoke.

Some of them -- 10 of them use their own names and then statements were read from seven others. So it was a really extraordinary moment to have all these women speak and to hear their own words.

And their messages were everything from just explained to the judge the pain that they still are suffering, even though this is years later. They said that they felt so powerless. They said that their youth was stolen from them, they were robbed of their dreams.

You also heard from a number of these women that they were urging prosecutors to not stop. They said -- Courtney Wild, one of the first accusers who's gone public, she said that this is not about how he died, but about how he lived and that he did not act alone.

And so the -- some of these women were really urging prosecutors to keep prosecuting this case, go after the women who helped Epstein. We heard stories of how they were recruited as models, that they were brought in, some of these same themes that we have heard, but hearing it for the first time by these women before the judge, and just asking -- thanking the judge that they have had this opportunity, because we also heard from some of these victims, that with Epstein's death, that they felt like they were robbed of justice.


BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

SCANNELL: That they did not get their moment in court.

BALDWIN: Understandable.

SCANNELL: And that they were not able to have the kind of closure that they wanted.

But you also heard, even as some of these women told these horrific stories of how they were raped by Epstein, they said that they felt really empowered by the other women who were there now speaking up, that they felt stronger for that, and that they found their voice and they were going to continue to use it.

I mean, at the end of the hearing, a lot of the women looked relieved. I saw some of them exchanging phone numbers with each other. So they were all feeling a bit stronger knowing that they were not alone in this.

BALDWIN: An army of survivors. Stay with me.

I want to bring in two more voices in all these cases here.

First up, I have Rebecca Roiphe. She's a professor at New York Law School, and attorney Jesse Weber, host on the Law & Crime Network.

And it's so interesting, Rebecca, listening to Kara talking about these women. This judge didn't have to allow this. He didn't have to allow these survivors to show up and all speak up now, did he?

REBECCA ROIPHE, NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL: Not only did he not have to. It's extremely unusual.

This is a very simple motion to dismiss. The defendant has died. Normally, you would do it without a hearing at all. And if you did have a hearing, it would look into why the case was being dismissed, not hear from the accusers.

And it was moving. And even that short clip was moving. And it's so good for those survivors that they got a moment to have this closure. However, it really isn't the process that is designed. The criminal court is not designed for that process.

And I think it's unusual and really striking that the judge would have allowed it in this case.

BALDWIN: Judge Berman had said -- I just wanted to read his own words just to give him credit.

His office -- quote -- "remains committed to doing its utmost to stand up for the victims who have already come forward, as well as for the many others who have yet to do so."

And, Jesse, I was reading this morning about how -- you know, you think of these women and what justice looks like for them, right? And I know that, because his will was filed in the Virgin Islands, where he had that ginormous home, it would make it more difficult for these survivors to collect damages, correct?


First, it's good to see the professor from my alma mater.


WEBER: Yes, look, this reminded me very much of Larry Nassar, when you have the victims able to come out and speak.

BALDWIN: Yes. Thought the same exact thing.

WEBER: But now their battle doesn't end. This is round one. There's already civil suits that have been going, have been filed. And now it's civil forfeiture about going after the estate.

Don't think that this is the end of the day, because you look at his assets. First of all, was he really worth $580 million? There needs to be an assessment of, where is the money? How much is it? And how can they get attached to it?

And there's a much different situation now that you have the key defendant no longer with us. It's very different than the college admissions scandal, when you have Rick Singer, who's the top of the pyramid, giving information about everybody else.

You don't have that anymore. So who else is out there that provides information on Epstein now that he's no longer here? BALDWIN: You bring up Rick Singer.

Let me ask you about. We saw Lori Loughlin. It looks like she just sort of rolled into the courtroom today with her husband in this whole college admissions scandal.

Rebecca, to you. Today's hearing, I get it. It's procedural. She's being represented by a law firm that's representing both she and her husband. Might there be a conflict of interests if they eventually sort of, I don't know, clash? Did you see that as...


ROIPHE: Yes. It's just if one of the parties is more culpable than the other. And I think in this story, it actually does look like she is more culpable than her husband is, if I remember reading the indictment correctly.

If that's the case, there's always the possibility that, down the line, she might want to cooperate -- I'm sorry -- he might want to cooperate against her, the less culpable party.

BALDWIN: How does that work?

ROIPHE: And the two attorneys would have to protect the more culpable party. No, that's a conflict of interests. Then the lawyers can't represent these two clients.

So what they have to understand in this hearing is -- and really understand -- the judge is going to ask them a ton of questions to make sure that they fully understand what they're giving up, the risk that they're taking by taking on the same lawyer. We're risking, down the line, we might want to do something, one of us, that could be not good for the other party, and that, at that point, this lawyer could not represent both of us.

And that would be hard, because then you would have to hire a new lawyer at a later point in the case. And that can be really damaging. So the judge is going to make sure they understand that risk, and that they're willing to take it.

BALDWIN: And the fact, Jesse, that it is noteworthy, because she got a lot of flak for how she arrived to court last time and signing autographs and people yelling, and she was waving back, and this was sort of lack of fanfare today.

Do you think her lawyers pulled her aside and said, listen, this is what you need to do, because there are a lot of cameras on you?

WEBER: Unlike the other defendants, optics matter for these two. They're in the public eye. So optics -- optics-wise, it's great that they're coming together doing a joint defense.

But as the professor just said, legally, it's not great. Everything she does is important in the eyes, because her career is built upon the public perception. [15:10:01]

Remember, whatever happens here, even if she's found not guilty, is she still going to be found guilty in the eye of public opinion? So that's what she's thinking about, too. She's fighting two battles, not just in the courtroom, but in the public as well.

So she has to take this seriously. And, by all accounts, she is taking this seriously. And I think that there was disagreements between her and her husband about how to proceed forward and what do these charges mean.

Remember, they were hit with the money laundering charges because they didn't want to take a plea deal.

BALDWIN: That's right.

WEBER: And that's something that they have to realize. They are at a different stage than Felicity Huffman.

BALDWIN: Totally different.

WEBER: So, every step is important for them.

BALDWIN: OK, Jesse and Rebecca and Kara, thank you all very much. Appreciate it.

WEBER: Thank you.

ROIPHE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And attorneys for Deutsche Bank and Capital One are facing a major deadline in less than an hour by 4:00 Eastern. So, 15 minutes from now, today, they must tell an appeals court in New York whether the banks are in fact in possession of President Trump's tax returns.

This is part of the case from the House, where Democrats on the Financial Services and Intelligence Committees have been trying to get their hands on the president's tax documents through subpoenas.

Congressional attorneys say the tax returns are needed for those investigations. The banks' lawyer say the request violates contractual obligations not to disclose the information.

Tropical Storm Dorian is steadily churning up in the Caribbean Sea. Its projected path is eying the island of Puerto Rico. Right now, the island is under both a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch. And the next 24 hours are crucial.


BALDWIN: Meantime, it's been roughly three weeks since 31 lives were taken in El Paso and Dayton, and lawmakers have done nothing to prevent another massacre.

And now a group made up of gun violence survivors and family members has just hand-delivered a letter to the Senate majority leader's office in Kentucky. Two of them will join me live next.

And it is the question on just about everyone's mind, in the wake of the G7 summit in France. Why can't the president call out Vladimir Putin? We will discuss that ahead.

And just massive, massive area of Brazil's Amazon forests are burning at this hour. Brazil says it's turning down $20 million in foreign aid offered to them. We will tell you why ahead.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.



BALDWIN: It has been 23 days since the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton and, of course, Gilroy, before that, and members of Congress won't start debating gun safety solutions for another two weeks.

Both chambers returned from vacation September 9. But a team of moms says this cannot wait any longer.

Anita Franklin and Haley Rinehart just showed up on the doorstep of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Kentucky office to deliver a letter signed by 1,217 gun violence survivors.

Anita signed on behalf of her son Antonio, who, in April of 2014, was shot and killed after he was caught in a crossfire between two groups of young men at a local park. And Haley signed a letter for her son Eli, who at just 4 years of age suffered a gunshot wound to the head after he accessed an unsecured gun at his grandparents' house.

He survived the accidental shooting, but had to have his right eye removed. And they are both part of Everytown Survivor Network.

And Anita and Haley are with me now live from Louisville.

So, ladies, welcome.



BALDWIN: So, I read your letter. And it was the last line that really grabbed me before all the signatures where you wrote: "We demand more than your thoughts and prayers for our broken bodies, our broken communities and our broken country. Now is the time to act."

So, Anita, to you and then Haley. What do you hope your presence at his office today and all these signatures will achieve?


FRANKLIN: Well, the one thing we hope is that he will read the letters, he will share them, and that they will take action, that they will bring these two bills to the table, that it's important. It's not about what political party you are affiliated with. It's

about lives and saving lives. And, as you know, my son, 21 years old, his life could be saved. And we have to make sure that these bills are put into place.


RINEHART: And I agree with -- I agree with Anita.

We brought it so that he will read it and take heed of what we have said. This is the voice of survivors. We're part of the 58 percent of Americans who have been impacted by gun violence. And we just want them to read it and understand that it's time to do something.

BALDWIN: So what happened? Did you show up? Did you deliver it? How did folks in the office -- what did they say to you?

FRANKLIN: It was amazing. One of his staffer came out.

And we talked about the facts. We talked about how it would feel for him personally if that occurred to him or someone in his family. He asked questions about Antonio, and I explained he had just turned 21 years old, and that he was a true victim, which means he wasn't involved in a crime.

And so he had a lot of plans. For a 21-year-old, there are a lot of plans. Antonio lost his life that day, but he was an organ donor. So four people gained their lives. But it's not fair. It's not right. And we need action. And we need action now.

BALDWIN: Tell me what other staffers said.


BALDWIN: And, yes, yes, I want I want to know details. What are they going to do about it?

RINEHART: Well, we really don't know. We just hope that they take what we have presented with them and listen to it and see that we do need a stronger red flag law brought to the table.

We do need increased background checks on all gun sales, not just at gun stores -- gun shows, I mean, private sales. Everything needs a background check. And by doing that, that can help prevent potential shootings.


And I explained to him that I'm a responsible gun owner. And I think there was a little shock behind that. And a lot of people don't understand that, yes, law-abiding citizens do register their guns.

And we need to continue to keep that background check in place, so that when people don't follow the law, then they can be held accountable for the crimes they commit.

BALDWIN: Correct.

And, Haley, you brought up the red flag laws. In the weeks since Dayton and El Paso, police were able to thwart nearly 30 threats across the country, most of them because friends or family said something.

And the FBI says they received more than 38,000 tips. That's 16,000 more than normal. So what does that say to you about just ordinary Americans and their willingness to speak up to law enforcement, to use a red flag law?

RINEHART: Well, I mean, obviously, that shows that Americans are taking notice, and that if they have that in place, a red flag law, people aren't afraid to contact law enforcement and ask that these laws be checked off by these people's names, so if they try to purchase a gun, then it can prevent a potential shooting.

And knowing that people are already starting to contact officials shows that, if we had something like that in place across the nation, then people would feel comfortable enough to turn those people in to prevent mass shootings, domestic violence, shootings, and other shootings.

FRANKLIN: Right. It's about saving lives.

We advocate and we do campaign, see something, say something, do something. We're doing something. Now it's their turn to do something. And putting these laws in places what we need. We need to save lives.

We don't want anybody else to experience what our families have experienced, let alone our community. It doesn't just affect our families directly. It affects an entire community, an entire country.

And so, today -- today, we're saying to the world, we're saying to Senator McConnell, do something about the laws that need to be put in place.

BALDWIN: Ladies, thank you for using your voices.

Anita Franklin, Haley Rinehart, appreciate both of you.

RINEHART: Thank you.

FRANKLIN: Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: It was one of the biggest questions when it comes to the White House. Why is President Trump always so easy on Vladimir Putin?

My next guest explains why the G7 was the latest instance of President Trump putting Putin above all. And this is coming as two U.S. senators are blocked from entering Russia.

We have those details next.


BALDWIN: Given all that was learned about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election or the recent threats of an arms race from an adversary who claims nuclear capability, you may expect President Trump would change his tune about Vladimir Putin ahead of the 2020 race.

But at the G7 summit in France, the president lavished even more praise for the Russian despot and placed more blame on former President Barack Obama.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it would be better to have Russia inside the tent than outside the tent.

Would I invite him? I would certainly invite him. Whether or not he could come, psychologically, I think that's a tough thing for him to do. You have a G8. Now it's a G7, and you invite the person that was thrown out, really by President Obama, and really because he got outsmarted.

President Obama was helping Ukraine. Crimea was annexed during his term. Now, it's a very big area, a very important area.

President Obama was not happy that this happened, because it was embarrassing to him, right? It was very embarrassing to him.