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Former Governor Jim Hodges, (D-SC), Endorses Biden, Discusses Democratic Race; Harvey Weinstein Found Guilty on Two Counts. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 24, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:32:14]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The press is ready to declare people dead quickly.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: But we're alive and we're coming back and we're going to win.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joe Biden there Saturday night after a second place -- distant second place finish if Nevada. With that, raising the stakes even more for what the upcoming South Carolina primary means for him. Biden making no secret now it is a must-win contest for the sake of his candidacy.

Joining me now is a man who knows a lot about South Carolina politics, former South Carolina governor, Jim Hodges. He was the last Democratic governor of the state. He's endorsed Joe Biden.

Governor, thank you for coming in.

JIM HODGES, (D), FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: Thank you, Kate. Good to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

You warned last week that a bad loss in Nevada, the way you put it, would have some impact in South Carolina. So if Biden doesn't win South Carolina, is it over for him?

HODGES: I don't know that it is over. But the fact of the matter is he will win South Carolina. He's doing very well here. I think people view him as collaborator, a partner of President Obama. He remains very popular with South Carolina Democrats.

And I think they see Senator Sanders as, frankly, someone who threatened the primary of President Obama in 2012. And I don't think that will go over well.

The contest really starts here in South Carolina. It has been the best indicator of who would win the nomination for Democrats since 2008. And I think whoever wins here will get the nomination.

BOLDUAN: You know, Democratic South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson said last hour, if Biden didn't win, it would be a difficult path for him going forward. Do you agree with that?

HODGES: I think it is certainly harder for Vice President Biden if he is not successful here. He's made it very clear that South Carolina is really where it begins for him. I think that will be the case. And I fully expect him to win and have a nice victory here.

BOLDUAN: Part of Biden's pitch, part of his argument that he wasn't sunk by the first two contests was his broad support among nonwhite voters.

I want to show you some of what we learned from Nevada. Among nonwhite voters, there, Sanders beat Biden 42-23 percent. How is that not a sign that Sanders is chipping away at that base of Biden support?

HODGES: Well, again, I think you -- South Carolina will be a bit more representative of African-American voters, who will make up somewhere between 60 and 65 percent of the primary voters here.

And I can only tell you what I know from my history here of what I'm seeing that Vice President Biden remains in a strong position.

I think the real question, Kate, here is if Senator Sanders cannot do better with African-American voters than he did in South Carolina four years ago, how can he reasonably go on and get the nomination? We need somebody who can unite all factions of the party. And, so far, Senator Sanders has not proven he can do well with African-American voters.

[11:35:16]

BOLDUAN: Tell me, because Sanders does have momentum, and momentum begets momentum traditionally. Who does Biden counter that? What is your advice going on the -- is going on the attack more on the attack the way to do that in South Carolina?

HODGES: Again, I think the contest starts here. With all due respect, the first two states --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: But it doesn't. It doesn't start there. These things all build on each other. Guess what? Three days after South Carolina is Super Tuesday. There's no time, there's no time for turn around and resets and ramping up after South Carolina.

So you can say it starts there, but Bernie Sanders has made a real show of it in the first three contests.

HODGES: The political graveyard is littered with people who did well in Iowa and New Hampshire. The truth is that candidates who do well here tend to do well on Super Tuesday and beyond.

I think you're right that it is imperative that Joe Biden do well here to be successful at Super Tuesday and to win the nomination. And I think that's going to happen here.

BOLDUAN: Governor, thank you for coming in. We've got some breaking news. I've got a million more questions, a couple more days to get you on to talk about it.

But we do have breaking news. I've got to jump. We have a verdict in the Harvey Weinstein case.

Let's jump over to CNN's Jean Casarez. She's outside the courtroom. She's been following this from the beginning.

Jean, what are you hearing?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it has been 26.5 hours of deliberations. This jury has labored for the most of last week. They had to come back today. And now we have just gotten a note that there's a verdict in this case.

You might remember on Friday, they sent a note around noon saying -- and it was sort of speculative -- but if we are hung on counts one and/or three, can we be unanimous on the other counts.

Well, one and/or three that they were toying with, whether they would be hung, are the most serious counts of all, predatory sexual assault, which the maximum penalty it life in prison. And this is when someone, if convicted, they are designated a predator.

The other counts, criminal sexual act in the first degree, rape in the first degree, and rape in the third degree.

Now, what the judge had said was that there would be about 30 minutes before the verdict is read, because everyone, all the parties have to stay in the vicinity of the courthouse. People will be going into the courtroom. Parties will be assembling.

I have seen in the past, sometimes, it is not as long as 30 minutes when the judge designated that. But everyone needs to be in place when the jury comes into the courtroom and the verdict is read -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jean, it is -- for the layman watching this -- the jury deliberation that has been going on, it is hard to understand what happened on Friday. And what the -- could we be unanimous on other charges, not on the -- and then stuck on the two most severe charges. So with this now, does that mean -- does that mean they are unanimous on all?

CASAREZ: Well, that's a very good question because, since they say verdict allegedly in that note, because that is what is being told to our producers in the courtroom --

BOLDUAN: Right.

CASAREZ: -- verdict means you have found someone guilty or not guilty. We're not hearing the words hung anymore on those counts.

So if it is as the jury has allegedly written, verdict, that means their determination has been made on all counts. We won't know specifically until they come into that room.

But the verdict sheet was very, very difficult. Because if you find count one and three guilty, you don't go to the other counts and onward and onward. It is just a road map that is very complex. And that was one of the things they said in the note on Friday, we want to understand.

And then they went through what we can find -- be hung on, potentially, or unanimous on. But, remember, unanimous is guilt or not guilt. You have to be unanimous in a criminal court whether you find someone guilty or not guilty.

BOLDUAN: And talk to me. So Weinstein charged five sex crimes, rape, predatory sexual assault, and this stems from the allegations of two women. Lay out --

CASAREZ: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- how that played out in court, what folks learned --

CASAREZ: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- and what span these weeks of testimony.

CASAREZ: There are two and I say main accusers because individual charges from them are directly going to the jury.

One is Miriam Haley, who alleged and was on the stand and in very emotional testimony that, in 2006, that she was sexually assaulted, a violent assault, she says, in Harvey Weinstein's New York City apartment in Soho, not too far from right here. And she was on the stand for quite a bit of time.

[11:40:12]

The defense countered that by so many emails, so many dinners, premieres, continued contact for years, even when she went back to London, saying this was a consensual situation. And they cross- examined her on particulars. And there was, she testified, relations with Weinstein that she did not fight before the alleged assault.

And afterwards, two weeks later, when she got back from a trip that Weinstein had paid for her to go to Los Angeles, she had what the defense called consensual sex with him.

The other main accuser is Jessica Mann. She was on the stand for two and a half days. And not one question about her, with all the 10 notes and so many questions, not one question about her testimony or the communications.

But she alleged, in 2013, that he violently raped her in a New York City hotel room. And she described that for the jury, very emotional testimony, very strong cross examination with the same theme that there was a consensual relationship going on that was even more extensive than Miriam Haley.

The other accuser is Annabella Sciorra, a very successful actress. You may know her from "The Sopranos." She did two Weinstein films. Her statute of limitations could not go directly to the jury in individual counts because her alleged rape occurred in 1993-'94.

So she was able under New York law to come in and testify as she did, but she helped boost the prosecution, so they could have a conviction on predatory sexual assault.

She testified. She's a mature woman at this point. Of course, cross examinations, her memory for all those years, and also that she appeared in another Weinstein film, prosecution said. But she's an actress. She has to work. She had to do whatever she needed to do to earn a living.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Jean, we're going to take a quick break.

As Jean brought us the breaking news, a verdict has been reached in the trial of Harvey Weinstein. We'll be right back with much more after this.

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[11:47:17]

BOLDUAN: All right, we have breaking news. We have a verdict in the Harvey Weinstein rape trial.

Joining me right now is CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, also Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES." We're waiting for Jean Casarez.

Just to fill everybody in, the judge said there's a verdict. We're waiting for it to come out. There's a period of time that transpires before the verdict is reached. The letter is sent to the judge and then read in court. We'll bring that to everybody as soon as it happens.

Let's talk about where things were left on Friday and what we could be looking at here.

We have the breaking news in. Let me go to Jean Casarez now. Sorry, everybody. Jean is outside the courtroom.

Jean, what do you have?

CASAREZ: This is what we have. On count one, which is predatory sexual assault, not guilty. Count two, which is criminal sexual act in the first degree, guilty. That is a criminal sexual act against Miriam Haley. Count three, predatory sexual assault, not guilty. Count four, rape in the first degree against Jessica Mann, not guilty. Count five, rape in the third degree, guilty.

There are two guilty convictions here. Count two, criminal sexual act in the first degree, which is five to 25 years in prison, and count five, which is rape in the third degree, which can be probationary up to four years in prison -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jean, thank you so very much, sticking with me.

Paul Callan, you just heard that. What is your reaction to this?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Let's talk about the difference between the charges here. Those charges that he was acquitted on, the predatory sexual act charges, are so serious that some lawyers would compare them to murder counts. They're "A" felonies, could have gotten a life sentence on both of those. So --

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BOLDUAN: Both of those are not guilty.

Guys, if we can throw up the counts, so we can talk those through for everyone as it can get confusing, that would be great.

One and three not guilty as Jean Casarez just reported. Continue.

CALLAN: Those counts, by the way, require the jury to believe that he had engaged in improper sexual conduct with Jessica Mann and Miriam Haley. And that the same thing or similar kind of thing happened to Annabella Sciorra. That would have made it predatory and would have raised it to a life sentence "A" felony. They didn't buy that.

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BOLDUAN: Does that surprise you that they came back with not guilty on those two most severe charges?

CALLAN: It doesn't surprise me given the question asked on Friday. You remember they hinted that they may have reached a conclusion on some counts, but not on the predatories.

BOLDUAN: They asked the judge on Friday, specifically, can we be hung on count one and/or three and unanimous on others. That was the question.

[11:50:03]

CALLAN: That's right. So that meant that they had to have believed Jessica Mann or Miriam Haley on some of the lesser counts.

Now moving on to the really serious -- and these are really serious counts. These lesser counts are not a walk in the park. One of the counts, the count involving Miriam Haley --

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CALLAN: -- calls for a sentence of five to 25 years in prison for Harvey Weinstein.

The second count, which is rape in the third degree -- the difference between rape in the first and rape in the third, is rape in the first is a forcible rape. The jury didn't believe there was a forcible rape of Jessica Mann. But they did believe that he had sex with her without her consent. That lowers it to rape in the third degree. You can actually get probation on that count or up to four years in prison.

That's what he's facing, up to 25 years in prison on one count and up to four years in prison on count number two.

BOLDUAN: Brian, stick with me for just one second.

Let me just ask the controlman, is Jean still standing by? Let me know if Jean is still standing by to join the conversation.

Jean, let me bring you back in.

We have this verdict now, Jean. Do we know what is happening in court, if anything, at this moment or any reaction in the courtroom when this was read?

CASAREZ: No, we don't have that yet. We do have our two producers in that courtroom.

But what is interesting here is that since there's a conviction, routinely -- and Paul, I'm sure, has experienced this so many times -- the prosecutor can ask to remand Weinstein into custody. He has been free on bond this entire time since he was charged in the length of this trial.

Remember, he was charged several years ago when this began. So they could be asked that. The defense can counter that and say he's always shown up in court, there's not a risk of flight and these are not the most serious felonies, and they will battle that out.

I think the looming question is, will the Los Angeles charges come into play here, because the first day of jury selection here in New York, he was charged criminally, a big press conference, with crimes, sexual in nature, in Los Angeles.

So L.A. is just really holding off until this case is concluded. And will he be allowed to turn himself in, or will they arrest him and remand him into custody for Los Angeles?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Jean, stick with me.

Again, everyone, the breaking news is Harvey Weinstein is found guilty on two counts in this trial that has been ongoing for weeks now and jury deliberation that just today entered its second week.

Brian Stelter is here as well.

Conviction is important. It's an answer. But I think we can't also lose the impact of what Harvey Weinstein's case and how it came about, and now what this conviction means for the world.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": This is vindication and validation for these victims in this specific criminal trial.

But it is also a statement for -- I'm not exaggerating, Kate -- millions of victims of sex crimes in this country and around the world.

Why is that? Because Harvey Weinstein was the first domino in what we know is a the global #metoo movement. There was the fourth. The "New York Times," that was after. The "New York Times", the "New Yorker. This speaks to the power of journalism that this case was opened up and that Harvey Weinstein was brought into court and is now going to be going to prison. It speaks to the power of journalism and the court system.

And it speaks to these voices that were silenced for decades. Remember, there were rumors about Harvey Weinstein 20 years ago. He buried those secrets, he paid off women, he kept people silent, he threatened, he cajoled --

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STELTER: -- , he did whatever he had to do to keep those secrets. Finally, today, for the first time, he's being held accountable.

BOLDUAN: And a courtroom jury of our peers says, we hear you, to these women.

STELTER: And we believe you.

BOLDUAN: We believe you.

STELTER: Now, these are two lesser charges. But ss you said, he's going to be facing prison time. This is a man who thought he was untouchable.

BOLDUAN: And acted that way.

STELTER: He thought he could do whatever he wanted to anybody else.

I'll never forget the day Ronan Farrow asked me, have you heard about Harvey Weinstein. This was an investigation going on for the better part of 2019. Those stories hit in October 2017. The world did change.

I think I'm seeing online a lot of people who have no connection to Harvey Weinstein but have had these experiences in their own lives saying, I feel something today. I feel like I've been heard today.

BOLDUAN: Paul, what happens now? We have to guess and assume he will appeal. What happens? CALLAN: Yes. I think we have to figure out, first of all, are they

going to slap the cuffs on him and put him in jail today. I have to tell you, having stood next to those defendants in the courtroom myself, customarily, a felon facing these kinds of charges and the sentences he's facing would be remanded to prison at this moment.

[11:55:02]

BOLDUAN: Would you be more surprised if he was able to walk out --

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CALLAN: I would be, frankly, shocked because he's facing, as I said before, as much as 25 years in prison on these two charges, and he's facing also California charges.

BOLDUAN: Right.

CALLAN: One of the things the judge looks at is the motivation to flee. Obviously, he has a tremendous motivation to flee because he has these major cases in both states.

Now, on the appellate issue, his lawyers are looking at one big issue, one important issue. And that is there was a juror who was seated over their objection who hinted that she was writing a book that might be involved with older men having sex and consent issues with younger women. That's going to be the focus of the appeal.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: While he's been preparing for the possibility of prison, even talking to a coach about what it might be like, he was apparently very nervous in recent days. He should have been.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And we now have an answer. Harvey Weinstein charged, convicted on two counts of rape and sexual assault.

Much more on this breaking news after this.

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