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Bloomberg and Sanders Attacked at Debate; Roger Stone to be Sentenced; Trump Loyalist Named Acting Intelligence Chief; Weinstein Jury Begins Third Day of Deliberations. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired February 20, 2020 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00]

KAREN FINNEY, FORMER SENIOR SPOKESPERSON, CLINTON 2016 CAMPAIGN: Acknowledge the truth and move on. That's what doesn't make sense.

KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, "RISING" ON HILL TV: I think -- I think he did acknowledge the truth. He said, look, here's where my houses are. You know, I just don't see how that --

FINNEY: But you're not, Krystal. That's what I'm saying, like, it is what it is. He's a millionaire.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Can I just say --

FINNEY: There's nothing wrong with that. That is, you know --

GREGORY: I don't think this is important.

BALL: But I think -- I don't think that he's ever tried to run away from that is my point.

FINNEY: I think his spokespeople tried to.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, go ahead, David.

GREGORY: This is -- this is not what's important, honestly, I don't believe.

FINNEY: Right.

GREGORY: I think it's -- it's not whether Bernie Sanders is a millionaire. It's whether he thinks billionaires are immoral. And there's plenty of people who may agree with him, but there's a lot of other voters who are going to -- who are going to sit back and say, all right, this is really what I have to sit and think about. Is accumulated wealth in the country, is, you know, achieving your goals, is that really a problem?

So, you know, I think that Sanders represents a movement. He's a movement politician. I don't think that people are looking up and saying he's got Vermont waterfront and therefore he's a hypocrite.

I think the other thing is that we're so dialed in to dissecting people, I think we can sit back and take more kind of, you know, gut check views of how these candidates did and everybody's going to make an initial impression based on that. There's still more time to go even for Bloomberg, who got a bad start but he's going to have other opportunities here.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: David Gregory, Krystal Ball, Karen Finney, great to have you on this morning. Really appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for the spirited debate about all of this.

BERMAN: We should all go visit a lakefront property together.

CAMEROTA: Let's do it. I wish your family had one.

BERMAN: That would be awesome. They don't. There's not -- we don't have it.

CAMEROTA: All right. I wish they did.

BERMAN: And Bernie Sanders happens to be in a very nice location on Lake Champlain.

CAMEROTA: Then he wins. OK, he wins.

BERMAN: All right, we have more coming from Nevada tonight. Two back- to-back presidential town halls right here on CNN. Joe Biden at 8:00 p.m. Elizabeth Warren at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. I got to say, it will be fascinating to see how they carry on their debate performances to the stage tonight.

CAMEROTA: Also this, Roger Stone will be sentenced in a matter of hours. Will the long-time friend of President Trump be pardoned today? Or soon? Or ever? We discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:35:55]

CAMEROTA: Roger Stone is hours away from learning his fate in a federal court. A jury found him guilty on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness tampering related to his efforts to contact WikiLeaks and help the Trump campaign in 2016.

Joining us now to explain how we got here and what to expect today, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig. He's a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Elie, hi.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hey.

CAMEROTA: So what do you think is going to happen today?

HONIG: He's going to get sentenced. It's going to be controversial. It's going to be explosive. It's going to be interesting.

So, first thing's first, who is exactly Roger Stone? So Roger Stone has been a fixture in the Republican political establishment for decades. He first started working as an adviser to Richard Nixon. He later worked for Ronald Reagan. And, of course, he worked in the 2016 campaign for Donald Trump. They've known each other since the '80s.

But what exactly does Roger Stone do? He's never held elected office. He's never actually been a government official. He's a back room political guy.

Here's a couple things that have been said publicly about what Roger Stone does. He's a, quote, dirty trickster. He engages in trafficking in the black arts and he lives by the mantra, admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack.

Guess who said those things about Roger Stone?

BERMAN: Roger Stone.

HONIG: Roger Stone. That's exactly --

BERMAN: Brags about this.

HONIG: Exactly. And you know who his political and personal idle, hero is?

CAMEROTA: Richard Nixon.

HONIG: Richard Nixon. And he has a tattoo of Richard Nixon's face on his back. I'm sure --

BERMAN: As one does.

HONIG: As one does. Sorry you had to see that so early in the morning.

BERMAN: What exactly is he convicted of?

HONIG: Yes, so Roger Stone was arrested about a year ago. It was January 2019. I know we remember. The story broke when we were here on NEW DAY. And Robert Mueller's team charged Roger Stone with really two types of crimes. First of all, making false statements to Congress. Roger Stone was charged with going into Congress and lying about his efforts to coordinate between the Trump 2016 campaign through this go between person and WikiLeaks over the Russian hack e-mails from the DNC. Mueller charged that, quote, Stone testified falsely that he had never discussed his conversations with the person he referred to as his go between with anyone involved in the Trump campaign.

Now, the second category of crimes is witness tampering. And that relates to this go between. That's this guy Randy Credico. Mueller charged that Stone interfered with Credico, tried to convince him not to testify, to testify falsely, threatened Credico and, most egregiously, threatened the dog. I mean I've tried cases. Juries don't like witness tampering. But they really don't like when you mess with a dog.

CAMEROTA: To kill the dog, right?

HONIG: Yes, don't touch the dog.

BERMAN: I've talked about the dog show and I've received about 10,000 angry e-mails in the last week.

HONIG: Right, you're a case in point, exactly.

So Roger Stone went to trial. Now, this was in November of 2019, a few months ago, but it kind of slid under the radar because this is right when the impeachment stuff was happening. But Roger Stone went to trial in D.C. He was convicted on all counts against him.

And that brings us to today, which is the sentencing.

Now, the Department of Justice, the prosecutors who tried the case, put in their sentencing memo. Stone's lawyers had asked for probation, no jail time. That ain't going to happen. Now, the original memo from the prosecutors was very aggressive. They said things in their memo like, obstructing such critical investigations thus strikes at the very heart of our American democracy. And they put in a sentencing recommendation, which we've heard about, seven to nine years.

I want to show you how they got there. This is the federal sentencing guidelines table. You have to first figure out, what's the person's criminal history. Roger Stone has a history of dirty tricks, but he's a one. He's the lowest category.

And then you have to calculate how serious the offense was. And they did that and they came out with 87 to 108 months. Months, which equates to seven to nine years.

So up to now everything's normal, but then things got crazy. Donald Trump, hours later, tweeted, quote, this is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side as nothing happens to them. Can't allow this miscarriage of justice. It's so unusual for a president to weigh in on a case like this.

CAMEROTA: And a jury found him guilty.

HONIG: A jury found him guilty.

CAMEROTA: This wasn't a miscarriage of justice. This was -- these were regular people. A jury of his peers --

HONIG: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: As we use in the United States.

HONIG: Exactly.

Ultimately, DOJ changed its position.

[06:40:01]

They asked for much less time. They said the sentence would be excessive and unwarranted. And now they're asking for far less. So we'll see what the judge does today when she sentences him. BERMAN: We will see. And, of course, the one thing that could render this all moot is if President Trump pardons Roger Stone, which could happen anytime. I could happen before the sentencing or after it.

CAMEROTA: It could happen one minute afterwards.

BERMAN: Or not at all. We'll have to wait and see.

HONIG: We'll see.

BERMAN: Elie, great to have you here with us.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Elie.

BERMAN: Thanks so much.

BERMAN: So, a staunch Trump loyalist with no experience in the intelligence sector has been named America's acting director of national intelligence. We're going to speak to someone who actually held that job to see if this is the right guy for it now. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Long-time Trump loyalist Rick Grenell is expected to start today as the administration's acting director of national intelligence. Grenell is currently the U.S. ambassador to Germany, but he has no experience in the realm of intelligence.

Joining me now, CNN national security analyst James Clapper. He is the former director of national intelligence. In other words, he had the job that Rick Grenell will start doing as of today.

[06:45:02]

And, Director Clapper, let me ask you, how does Grenell's experience, ambassador to Germany, who worked at the U.N., but no experience in intelligence, how does that line up with what you see as important to holding that job?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, John, I spent my entire life -- professional life in intelligence. And I found the position of director of national intelligence very tough. And so I can't imagine the challenge that somebody has in that position learning the ABCs of intelligence on the job.

I'd also comment that the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which was enacted after -- in the wake of the 9/11 Commission, investigated the 9/11 attacks, made a point of stipulating that the director of national intelligence should have extensive experience in national security. I think that's the letter of the law.

The spirit is that it is somebody that has had some experience, some depth in intelligence itself. And so I'd be concerned about it.

I'd also comment, John, that this turnover in having a series of actings is not good for the community. I really feel for the men and women of the intelligence community because of the lack of continuity and stability that these -- this constant turnover represents.

BERMAN: He's making -- the president's making an end run. With all these acting things, he's making an end run around getting Senate confirmation. Yes, Grenell was confirmed by the Senate for the ambassador job, but not anything like the director of national intelligence. The law says the president can do it. The norms say otherwise.

Rick Grenell is a partisan figure. I'm not trying to cast aspersions. He just is. All you have to do is look at Twitter to see how partisan he is and has been over the last few years.

Is the job of director of national intelligence one where a partisan would fit squarely?

CLAPPER: Well, not in my view. Obviously I think it's a position that should be occupied by a career professional intelligence officer. Now, there are those in the Trump camp that would argue that you need just the opposite, somebody to come in and be disruptive and shake up the community and all that.

What I do worry about is the -- basically kind of holy writ of intelligence, which is telling truth to power. And we've seen last year with Dan Coats and his testimony and that of others before the Senate Intelligence Committee and a worldwide threat assessment and the concern here would be where the assessment's rendered by the professionals in the intelligence community, career professionals, that don't necessarily comport with the world view of the president. And it's going to be very interesting to see how Acting Director Grenell handles that. And that -- that is a concern of mine that the views of the intelligence community would be suppressed in favor of the president's world view.

TAPPER: Do you feel safer this morning with Rick Grenell as acting director of national intelligence?

CLAPPER: I can't say that I am. I have great faith and trust and confidence in the men and women of the intelligence community that they'll continue to do the right thing.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about former ambassador to the United Nations, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was at an event last night with former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and there was a really interesting back and forth. We don't have audio of this event, but basically Bolton was asked on stage about his refusal to testify when asked by the House of Representatives and the fact that he hasn't come forward more publicly with what he saw and what he heard from the president directly about the quid pro quo with Ukraine. And Bolton said last night, he said, I can bet you a dollar right here and now my testimony would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome. I sleep at night because I followed my conscience.

What's your reaction?

CLAPPER: Well, we'll never know whether that's a safe bet or not because he didn't testify. And, in my view, if your perspective is required and needed by the Congress, you know, I didn't -- I never knew it was an option not to appear, whether under a subpoena or not.

And it almost sounds like he's trying to rationalize why he didn't testify during the House proceedings, let alone the Senate. So it's kind of disappointing. One of the criticisms, one of the allegation -- assertions made by the president's defense team when there were no direct witnesses.

[06:50:04]

Well, Mr. Bolton was a direct witness and he heard it directly from the president's mouth and characterized, according to Dr. Fiona Hill, who did testify under oath, that characterized the Giuliani mentioned in Ukraine as a drug deal. And so I think it would have been interesting and useful if not for the outcome of the impeachment but for the American people, which is the ultimate courtroom here.

BERMAN: Director James Clapper, always a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks for being with us this morning.

CLAPPER: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: John, there's still no verdict in Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial. But the jury has had lots of questions during these deliberations. What do those questions tell us? We discuss, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: A third day of deliberations in the Harvey Weinstein trial begins this morning. Yesterday, jurors came back to the judge repeatedly to ask questions about the charges.

[06:55:03]

What does that tell us about which way they're leaning?

Joining us now is CNN correspondent Jean Casarez, who's been covering this case, and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan. He's a former homicide prosecutor.

Jean, what questions are the jurors asking?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've had five noes. They deliberated 12 hours. And they wanted a readback yesterday of Miriam Haleyi. She's one of the accusers, one of the most important accusers because of an alleged assault that happened right here in New York City at Weinstein's apartment in 2006. So the jury listened to that readback.

And Miriam had testified that she met Weinstein, he courted her, took her out to dinner, took her -- invited her to premieres, and that then he wanted her to go to Paris. And she said no. And she said, you know, you have a terrible reputation with women. And he stopped pushing. She felt really bad about that and so when he invited her to apartment on July 10th, she went. That's when she alleges was a violent assault. The next morning, she went to Los Angeles on a trip paid for by

Weinstein. When she gets back, on the 25th, 26th, he wants to see her. She goes to his place and that's where she admitted in testimony that she had sex that was not forced with Harvey Weinstein.

The jury also wanted a readback from Rosie Perez's testimony. And this now is Annabella Sciorra, because Rosie Perez, very close friend of Annabella Sciorra, an actress who is one of the six accusers that testified, she said that after Annabella -- what happened, that Annabella told her, I think I was raped. But she didn't say who. But it got around and Rosie figured it out and confronted her at the end of the year. This would be '94. And she admitted it.

They also now want a couple of things. Paul Feldsher, close friend of the defendants', who testified that Annabella Sciorra had told him in '93, '94, because they were close friends, you know, I did something crazy with Harvey. Defense brought that testimony on. And they also then want the PowerPoint from Barbara Ziv, the forensic psychiatrist, and that was all about rape myths. They want to see that PowerPoint.

CAMEROTA: Wow.

Paul, that's a lot. What does that tell you?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is a jury that understands the importance of this case. And, really, this is a -- this is a signature case, I think, for the Me Too movement and sort of a new way that we're trying to be more respectful of women in these trials. And this is going to be a very important verdict. So they're carefully going through all of the evidence.

You know, in the end, even though the jury doesn't know this, Harvey Weinstein will be facing probably up to life in prison. In his case, because he's a first offender --

CAMEROTA: If convicted, though.

CALLAN: If convicted. And he could -- at his age he could actually die in prison if convicted. So this is a charge that's almost as serious as murder in the state of New York. And they're carefully evaluating the evidence.

CAMEROTA: Paul, in this Me Too moment, we've all learned very hard lessons. And these women tell the story of sickening, violent interactions, attacks from Harvey Weinstein. But they also tell the story that's more complicated. And that is, as we all know, that sometimes when your sexual predator is somebody that you're relying on for your career and your job, it gets complicated and you do have to see that person again.

But, the voluntary sexual interaction with that person is hard to get your head around. And do you think that ultimately that is what the jury is struggling with most?

CALLAN: Oh, they are struggling with that. And I'll have to tell you, when I started out as a young prosecutor in New York City, you could only be raped if you were -- somebody was holding you as gun point or was foreseeable compulsion --

CAMEROTA: Like a stranger in a dark alley. That was our imagination then.

CALLAN: That was rape. That was rape. A husband couldn't rape his wife. That wasn't even a crime in the state of New York. And now we're at a point where juries are looking at situations where someone has allegedly been raped, but then voluntarily engages in a sex act later on, maybe to help their career. And, remember, Weinstein controlled the careers of these women. He told them, if you're not cooperative with me, you'll never work in the industry again. So that's the equivalent of a gun being held to their head. That's what the prosecutors' argument is in the case.

CAMEROTA: And we just don't know if the jury sees it that way. And so --

CALLAN: Well, they're debating it and it's going to set a very important precedent for the entire nation, I think.

CAMEROTA: Jean Casarez, Paul Callan, thank you very much. Obviously we will bring you any news as soon as that breaks.

John.

BERMAN: So it was easily the most contentious debate yet in the Democratic race for president. How has the race changed this morning?

NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians.

[07:00:03]

And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump, I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: None of them accuse me of doing anything