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INSIDE POLITICS

Harvey Weinstein Found Guilty On 2 Of 5 Counts; Harvey Weinstein In Custody Now; Harvey Weinstein In Custody After Guilty Verdict On Two Counts; Harvey Weinstein Guilty Of Criminal Sex Act And 3rd Degree Rape. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired February 24, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


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JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: I'm John King in Washington some major breaking news in New York. A jury, just moments ago finding the longtime Hollywood Mogul Harvey Weinstein guilty of two felony sexual assault charges the jury delivering a non-guilty verdict on three other counts. Let's go straight to CNN's Jean Casarez outside the courthouse. Jean, tell us what you know.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, there were five counts altogether, but yet the jury could not find on all counts, because there was a road map and there were some charges that were in essence lesser include it's of more major offenses, but here's how it comes down.

Count 1, which was predatory sexual assault, a very serious felony where you are a predator, it is maximum life in prison, not guilty. Count 2, criminal sexual act in the first degree, guilty. And that's in regard to one of the accusers in 2006 saying she was sexually assaulted violently by Harvey Weinstein in his New York City Apartment right here in Soho.

Count 3, predatory sexual assault, not guilty, the other most serious felony. Count 4, rape in the first degree, not guilty. Count 5, rape in the third degree, guilty. And that is for Jessica Mann who alleges in 2013 she was violently raped in a hotel room here in New York City.

So the two most recent accusers that had individual charges that went to the jury, the jury believed them. Not to the point of rape in the first degree, which is more serious than rape in the third degree, but there is a conviction for both of those accusers.

KING: Jean, take us inside the courtroom. What do we know about Weinstein's reaction, whether the jury looked at him, and now he's been freed during this trial? Do we know if he is going to be kept in custody or released?

CASAREZ: Well, here's what we have so far because the proceeding is still going on, but we do know from our producers in the courtroom, the jury filed in, and there is always that moment, and it's nervous for everyone in that courtroom when you don't know what's going to happen.

The jury, we understand, looked around the courtroom. They didn't look at the defendant, which is so indicative of what is ultimately going to happen. I've seen that before. They didn't specifically look at people, just gazing around the courtroom, and then the verdict was read, and then it is the duty of the court and it was done, they have to poll each and every juror to make sure it is their true and honest verdict.

That was done, they did say that. Harvey Weinstein was seated at the defense table. Hard to see him because at that point five armed officers were around him standing in a circle around him, and they actually brought in 13 law enforcement officers into that courtroom before that jury was announced. So very secure, very precise in the plan of what they were going to do.

Let's look at the penalties for a minute, because not guilty was on the life felonies. But in regard to criminal sexual act in the first degree, count 2, minimum is 5, maximum is 25. And when you look at criminal rape in the third degree, it is a probationary offense, and it can go up to four years in prison, John.

KING: Jean Casarez outside the courthouse. Stand by for us and bring us any more information as you get it. As the proceeding now continues let's bring in our CNN Senior Legal Analyst Paul Callan and Jennifer Rodgers.

Jennifer just let me start with you. Jury coming back we knew they had some trouble on Friday when they were asking questions of the judge saying they were hung on some counts. What's your interpretation of what happened here in the end and what it means for Harvey Weinstein?

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it means prison time for Harvey Weinstein, and it's clear that the judge gave them an instruction, encouraged them to keep working, and they did that. They were a very diligent jury. They worked at this for days.

They asked for a lot of evidence to be reviewed, and in the end they were able to reach a unanimous verdict on all five counts, which means that they have done their job here.

KING: What they wouldn't convict on, Paul, is convict on the most severe counts the sever charges that could have carried a life sentence. Harvey Weinstein is 67-years-old. Any prison time is ticking against the clock here. What does that tell you about the prosecution's case?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the prosecution's case was the kind of case frankly, John, that years ago probably wouldn't have be brought by a prosecutor, and I say that because the women involved, most of them, admitted that they had voluntary sexual relationships with Weinstein after the rape and the forced oral sex.

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CALLAN: But of course this was something the prosecutor developed as this was his standard operating procedure. He would engage in forced conduct and involuntary conduct with women, and then he would groom them by saying, you're going to lose your job in the industry unless you play ball with me, so he used his power in the entertainment industry to force them into silence.

So this is a big, big victory, I think, for the "#metoo movement". Harvey Weinstein, yes, he was not convicted on the top counts which could have sent him to prison for life. But the counts he was convicted on, John, one of them you can do 25 years in prison, the other you can do up to four years in prison.

So you can be sure, I think, that there will be a very serious jail sentence here, and he's ahead for - a whole lot of hurt is ahead for Harvey Weinstein as a result of these verdicts.

KING: Can I ask both Paul and Jennifer to stand by. I want to go out to Los Angeles now CNN's Chloe Melas is joining us from there. She is getting some reaction of course including from the Weinstein camp in a town where he was once legendary.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Right, so I've just spoken to the silence breakers. They are a group of women, who also include women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of misconduct. This is what they tell CNN exclusively "This conviction would not be possible without the testimony of the courageous women and the many women who have spoken out". This is just moments ago.

But John, I also want to tell you, I have just spoken to Harvey Weinstein's Publicist who tells me an attorney is already on their way to the appellate court to file an appeal. Remember, I spoke to Harvey Weinstein just a few days before this criminal trial even started.

He has been adamant that he will make movies again, and that even if he was found guilty of any counts, that he's always believed that he could file an appeal and have the life that he once had.

Also, remember, he does have charges that he will ultimately face at some point, we don't know when, here in Los Angeles. But again, just moments ago, speaking to those silence breakers, those women that have come forward, that I myself have spoken to so many of them with my reporting over the last two years - don't forget, I was in the courtroom for Jessica Mann's testimony, and she broke down crying.

She could barely get through the recounting what she said had happened to her. At one point she even had a panic attack and had to actually leave the stand. So very emotional for so many men and women and especially those silence breakers right now that feel some sort of satisfaction and a whole wide range of emotions this morning.

KING: Chloe Melas in Los Angeles, I appreciate the very quick reporting from both sides there. I want to come back to for more information. I want to come back to Paul Callan and Jennifer Rogers.

Perhaps wishful thinking the Weinstein camp saying that he believes he will be back making films at some point. The proceeding has adjourned. Do we know yet and what is standard operating procedure he has been free pending trial. Paul, to you first, will remand happen now?

CALLAN: Well, it's not automatic it's up to the judge. But I have to tell you, they having represented people with charges like this in that very courtroom that normally the defendant is remanded. And he's remanded because there is a fear that he would flee if left at large.

Now, remember, he's facing up to 25 years on one charge, up to four years on the other New York charge, and he has charges pending in California. So he certainly has motive to flee, and he certainly has the resources to flee if he wanted to.

So it would be very surprising if he was not remanded. And by the way, that lawyer who is on his way to the appellate court, my bet is he's not on his way to the appellate court to file an appeal of the underlying conviction, they're getting ready to file an appeal if the judge orders a remand to prison immediately to get the appellate court to agree that he should be released pending the appeal.

KING: And Jen, I would love your perspective. You talked about this a little earlier but after you heard Chloe's reporting about the silence breakers talking about what a critical moment this was for women who have come forward. This is a trial of Harvey Weinstein, but as Paul noted earlier, it is also was a - it is and was a signature moment for the "#metoo movement".

RODGERS: It is, and there were some 80 victims of just Weinstein alone, so I mean they're practically their own movement really when you think about the number of women who were involved with him.

So I think that they're likely breathing a sigh of relief. I think they're happy that they feel justice has been served here. They have another opportunity at it with the case in L.A., so we haven't heard the last of it. I do hope for these women there is some measure of comfort that the justice system has worked.

KING: I'm going to ask both of you to standby. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, more details on Harvey Weinstein convicted on two of five sexual assault charges in a New York City courtroom and what happens next, when we return.

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KING: More now on major breaking news this hour in the criminal sexual assault trial of the former Hollywood Mogul Harvey Weinstein. A jury finding him guilty moments ago on two out of five felony counts of sexual assault. The "Time is Up Movement", calling it a new era of justice.

Let's just get back to CNN's Jean Casarez outside the New York Supreme Court. Jean, we're looking at some of the photos from inside the courthouse as people are coming out of the courtroom obviously watching to see if the defendant comes out as well. Tell us more about what transpired inside that courtroom? CASAREZ: Well, here is what we're learning right now all right. The prosecution asked for Weinstein to be remanded into custody, which we thought they would do because he has been convicted of these sex.

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CASAREZ: The defense argued very strongly that because his behavior in court had been very professional, always showing up.

Number two, his medical issues, his back and his eyes. And then number three, the fact that he was not convicted of the most serious charges should allow for him to stay out pending sentencing. Now, we are just learning from my producer in the courtroom that the judge remanded Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, now a convicted felon, into custody.

The judge is making a judicial request for the infamy. He is being handcuffed right now. As we speak in that courtroom so this is definitely not what the defense wanted. They wanted him to be free on that bail until that sentencing, but our producers in court are saying that he is being remanded into custody as a convicted felon of two sex crimes.

KING: And Jean, take us back for viewers who might be seeing the verdict now who have not closely followed the trial. There were five charges against Harvey Weinstein. As you noted, he was not convicted on the charges that carried the most serious penalties, potentially life in prison, but can you just walk us through for viewers who are first joining in this verdict Harvey Weinstein now being held in custody awaiting sentencing. He will of course appeal of how this - the most dramatic moments as his trial transpired.

CASAREZ: That's right, well the jury entered and you don't know which way they're going to go especially with a note on Friday that was just so innocuous in a sense. But the result was that he was found not guilty of the most serious felonies predatory sexual assault, meaning someone is a predator. It is extremely serious with up to life in prison.

He was found guilty on two that have prison terms, but there is a range, and so the judge is able to look at the circumstances, the facts and circumstances, criminal sexual act in the first degree, five years to 25 years, rape in the third degree, it can be a probationary offense, and up to four years in prison.

KING: Jean Casarez outside the courthouse. I appreciate that great reporting. Please stand by and bring us any new details as you get it. And let's bring into to the conversation CNN Anchor and our Chief Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter, he is in New York.

Brian, you just heard Jean just describing it Harvey Weinstein being handcuffed, remanded into custody after being convicted on two of these five counts. Once an "Icon of Hollywood" now a prisoner in New York State.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the last time I saw Harvey Weinstein in person it was a month before "The New York Times" exposed his behavior. He looked like he was the biggest star at the party, crowds surrounding him, all wanting a minute of his attention.

Harvey Weinstein was one of the most powerful media moguls in the world. He was on the decline by 2017. He had had some bad breaks in business by that point. But in the 1990s and the 2000s, he was a king and the star of the independent film world of the film festival circuit.

This was the man with the power to make or break careers. That is what he did over and over again. He paid people off, he bought their silence he buried his own secrets which we now learned about thanks to the reporting of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at "The New York Times" running fair with the New Yorker.

Those stories in October 2017 changed Harvey Weinstein's life. They empowered these victims who were finally heard and they changed the world a little bit. They're starting this "#metoo movement", that is now international household name. The group "Time is Up" as you mentioned says this is an important moment of justice.

Another group John called the "Silence Breakers" has come out with the statement saying, it is disappointing that today's outcome doesn't deliver the true full justice as so many women deserve, but Harvey Weinstein will now forever be known as a convicted sexual serial predator.

And one more note John, this is from Jodi Kantor one of those "Times" reporters who investigated Weinstein and broke this wide open. She says Weinstein whose signature throughout 40 years of allegations with a lack of accountability has been declared guilty on two counts. Her point is that for the first time in his life, he's being held accountable.

KING: And I want to follow up on that important point, Brian, because number one as you note, sometimes we should just take a pause and pay tribute to determine to persist in credible well sourced reporting, especially when you're taking on the powerful and holding them accountable, because you know the brush back you get in those cases.

And then because of that reporting, in part because of that reporting then we saw amazing courage of people in the industry that went into that trial and testified after years of keeping silent because they were afraid their careers would be ruined if they had the courage to speak up.

STELTER: And in some cases, he did ruin those careers. There's pretty clear evidence that he was able to wield his power and influence in order to hurt women who he feared would come forward and talk about what they alleged he had done. It was done through money it was done through connections he had in the industry inside the Hollywood business.

"Time's Up", you mentioned "Time's Up" statement saying this is a new era of justice. They say this is a new era of justice not just for these silence breakers in this specific case but for all survivors of harassment abuse and assault at work.

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STELTER: And that is the bigger picture here. People even in other countries who are watching right now who heard about Harvey Weinstein and who heard about these crimes, they are looking at this saying, there is a measure of justice. Justice delayed, but finally at this moment, justice for these victims.

And it is an incredible tribute to those women who came forward by the dozens, John. "The New York Magazine" counted more than 100 women with the counts of wrong doing by Harvey Weinstein.

KING: More than 100 women remarkable. Brian Stelter, I appreciate that reporting and prospective. Let's go back to our Legal Experts, Paul Callan and Jennifer Rodgers. Paul, you talked about it beforehand, that the prosecution would request remand, you expected remand in this case.

Harvey Weinstein's team making the case these aren't the most serious charges of which he was convicted. He has shown up every time, he has health issues the judge saying, sorry, no.

CALLAN: I'm not surprised that the judge ordered a remand. Customarily that would be done in such a serious case. Yes, he was not convicted on the most serious charges, but one of those charges is a 25-year-in- prison charge, the other is four years, and by the way, a judge could run those sentences consecutive, and that's why he is on his way, probably or will be soon, to Rikers Island where maybe he'll be put in the hospital wing if he has these medical problems that his attorney says.

But he's likely to be put, I would imagine, in solitary confinement for his own protection. Because that's a tough place with people incarcerated there awaiting charges for murder, kidnapping, robbery, sex offenses, all kinds of very, very serious offenses.

KING: Jennifer, help us look forward in the sense that he's now going to be remanded into custody pending sentencing, convicted on two of these charges, 67-years-old. Harvey Weinstein is going to be sentenced to roughly what?

RODGERS: Well, the top charge he was convicted of has a term of 5 to 25 years, so he'll get at least five years. In the New York State System there is parole, so whatever he gets will be a range and it will be on the lesser end, assuming that he behaves while in prison.

But looking forward again you know he has got a whole another criminal case coming at him in California, so they'll have to transport him to California for those proceedings, keeping him in custody all the time.

So it's not just Rikers Island or wherever they place him here, he'll be in custody in California now while he faces those charges coming up in the next few months as well.

KING: More legal troubles ahead for Harvey Weinstein. Paul and Jennifer, I appreciate it. Standby we're going to continue our coverage. We're waiting of course Harvey Weinstein now handcuffed, taken into custody. We're expecting to hear from his defense attorneys in just a short while. Stay with us.

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KING: We're going to get back to our breaking news the conviction on two counts of Harvey Weinstein, the former Hollywood mogul. CNN's Jean Casarez is outside the courtroom in Manhattan. Jean, we're awaiting reaction from both the prosecution and defense. What's next?

CASAREZ: Well, Harvey Weinstein was just remanded into custody. And I told you how many law enforcement officers were around him. There were 5, 13 in the court.

KING: Jean, I'm sorry to interrupt you. Prosecutor the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

CYRUS VANCE JR., MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: After assaults it's rape even if there is no physical evidence and even if it happened a long time ago. This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America, I believe, and this is a new day.

It's a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed. The women who came forward courageously and at great risk made that happen. Weinstein is a vicious serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, trick, humiliate and silence his victims.

He has been found guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree and will face on that count a state prison sentence of no less than five years and up to 25 years. To the jurors I want to thank the jurors for their service.

Weinstein, with his manipulation, his resources, his attorneys, his publicists and his spies did everything he could to silence the survivors. But they refused to be silent. They spoke from their hearts and they were heard. They were heard by Weinstein's other survivors and by sexual predators all over the world.

They sacrificed their privacy and self-protection knowing better than anyone the extent of Weinstein's power, manipulation, retribution and abuse. To them I would say you broke silence to hold him accountable.

And believer me when I say that because you have done so, a generation of sexual assault survivors and all of us heard your every word. Thank you. I'll take a couple questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, are you fully satisfied with this verdict, in some way he came up short just mentioned could be into little as five years?

VANCE: Well, I'm certainly not dissatisfied by the verdict. I think this was a very difficult case, and a very challenging case, and a case that really moved our understanding of what sexual assault is? Where it can occur? Shattered myths that I think have part of the criminal justice system for a long time. So I believe it is felony conviction with a maximum of up to 25 years, it is not the top counts of the indictment, but by no means am I disappointed with the jury's unanimous statement that Harvey Weinstein is guilty of sexual assault and rape. Any other questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --and justice commander ensures the jury - testimony do you have concerns that women are going to have to endure such terrible - that get into work at the hands of Weinstein lawyers?

VANCE: Well, I think with regard to Jessica Mann, Harvey Weinstein was convicted for rape in the third degree. Ms. Sciorra took big risk and was in substantial pains testifying about what happened to her many years ago. I can't look behind the jury's verdicts or how they arrived at that.

We have to respect that process but by no means had it said a statement against Ms. Sciorra or against anything that she said in court. Jurors find a way through to a solution that they believe adequately brings them all together with a unanimous verdict.

In terms of the cross examination, I think we saw cross examination, the kinds that we've seen for years and years and years. I hope that with this verdict, it will become more obvious that those kinds of attacks on the survivors and victim's when they're on the stand, making it seem like it's all their fault, will be realized as legal attacks that just simply are no longer going to work in this day and age, and it's time that lawyers stop using them and continuing the myths that I think the jury verdict bought us today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vance what's your message to women about coming forward to--

(INAUDIBLE)

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