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Trump Ally Steve Bannon Indicted By Federal Grand Jury For Contempt Of Congress After Defying January 6 Committee Subpoena; Defense Attorney In Arbery Murder Trial Offers "Apologies" For Comments About Black Pastors; Britney Spears' Attorney Vows Investigation Into Star's Father. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 12, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Gruden's attorney also questions why the emails were the only ones made public, of the NFL's investigation. The NFL denies the allegation, says it'll vigorously defend the claims.

That's it for us. The news continues. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Have a good weekend, Coop.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Now we know what the DOJ was up to, for weeks, investigating and presenting a case, to the grand jury that just indicted Trumpet Steve Bannon.

So, now will Meadows and the others cooperate? I don't ask that about Bannon, because he may be happy with the latest news, believe it or not. Why? It makes him a martyr, for his Trumpy cause, of fighting to bring down America.

He could go to jail for up to two years. Why? Yes, you're looking at about a year max, for account of contempt. He has two. But that's doubtful. One thing he likely will do is surrender.

Monday, he's going to have his day in court, and will be arraigned on two contempt counts. One related to his refusal to appear, before the January 6 committee, because of the deposition, the other, over his refusal, to produce documents, to the same committee.

So, as they say, this shizzle just got real. Contempt now has teeth, for Congress. This is a clear message, sent by the DOJ, to others, planning to follow, in Bannon's footsteps. "If you defy subpoenas from Congress, you will be criminally prosecuted."

Attorney General Merrick Garland made that crystal today. "Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the Department adheres to the rule of law."

No Trump pal pardons this time. So the question is who and what is next? My guess is Trump's former Chief of Staff. Why? Because Mark Meadows was a no-show, for his deposition today, before the January 6 Committee. And the panel says his defiance will force it to consider pursuing contempt proceedings.

Listen closely to this particular line in their statement. "Mr. Meadows has failed to answer even the most basic questions, including whether he was using a private cell phone to communicate on January 6, and where his text messages from that day are."

Is the committee implying Meadows was texting members of Congress that day, from a non-government phone, about government business? Where's the phone? If he trashed it, are those texts recoverable? The answer to that is, likely yes.

The value of Meadows, and all the rest of them, the value of them, to the probe, is obvious. They were the ones around the President. They were the ones doing the planning before, during, and after, the Insurrection. They know who knew what, and did what, and refused to do what.

The question is, does, any, have a legitimate reason to not cooperate? Let's take that question to the better minds, tonight, in a special edition of Cuomo Court. We have former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig, and Robert Ray, defended Trump, at his first impeachment trial, also a former Whitewater Independent Counsel.

Gentlemen, it's good to see you both.


CUOMO: We'll do it prosecution-defense style.

Elie Honig, what is the answer to the question? Do any of these have a colorable claim, to not cooperate, on the basis of privilege, or otherwise?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: They can try, Chris. But they do it at their own risk of prosecution. We now know that.

Now, look, Steve Bannon is the clearest possible case, to prosecute, out of all these witnesses, for three reasons.

One, the privilege is being invoked by a former president, which is an uphill climb legally.

Two, Steve Bannon was not in the Executive branch, at the time of these communications.

And three, even if the privilege applies, I would argue it doesn't apply to this kind of communication. It's meant to provide - to apply to discussions, about policy, not discussions, about wrongdoing, which is January 6, in a nutshell. So, I think there's real reason for concern, among the other witnesses. And it'll be up to DOJ. And I think those would be righteous and necessary prosecutions, if they're held in contempt as well.

CUOMO: Counselor Ray, you would not be here if you agreed with that position. How do you see it?

RAY: Well, I think the one thing, we can all agree on, is that there's not a whole lot of law, in this area, and it's mostly from the Nixon era. So, you're trying to figure out, and navigate, the contours of presidential privilege, and who it extends to.


I will say that, traditionally, the Justice Department, since the Nixon era, has taken a very broad view, of the sanctity of Executive branch communications, and has sought to protect, even those, against former employees, which would obviously encompass somebody, like Steve Bannon. Now, whether it applies here, Elie is correct that this is the outer reaches, if it does apply here.

But he potentially has a defense. We'll see it play out. He's now been indicted. I imagine that one of his defenses will be an assertion of executive privilege, as a bar, to a contempt proceeding. And that's going to take some time, to sort all that out.


RAY: With regard to Mark Meadows, I think, at least, I think we can also all agree that that's a little bit of an easier case. Mark Meadows was the former President's Chief of Staff. Now, it is the invocation, of executive privilege, with regard to a former president.

And the current president, who generally speaking, is regarded as being the one, in the best position, to decide whether or not, to assert or waive the privilege, we're in a situation now, where there's a disagreement between a former president, and a current president, about whether or not executive privilege should cover this.

I mean, the Congress can take that step, as Elie suggests, and try to hold Mark Meadows in contempt. But I mean if presidential privilege doesn't protect, the sanctity of communications, between the President of the United States, and his Chief of Staff, I'm not really sure what use that privilege would be.

And certainly, if the whole purpose of a privilege, is to encourage free and open communications, without risk that those conversations would later be discoverable, by Congress, or anybody else, it would seem to me that that privilege is designed--

CUOMO: Well?

RAY: --to encompass the Chief of Staff, to the presidents.

CUOMO: All right, understood. There's a lot there. Let's unpack some of the main things.

First of all, Elie, back to you, but Robert Ray saying that Biden is in the best position to, is a good turn of phrase. The privilege runs with the Office, not the person. So, it's not that he's in the best position. He is arguably the only person, in a position, to exercise the privilege.

And there's also another assumption being made here, which is that Meadows, or Bannon, or anyone else, can refuse to do something, on the basis of a privilege, which is not theirs to exercise.

So, what do you believe the legalities here are, guiding what can and cannot be done?

HONIG: So, it's not just Bob Ray, who says that the current president is in the best position. The Supreme Court said it in 1977, in the other Nixon case. It was what we call dicta, meaning they said it sort of in passing, but I think we all agree on that.

One of the problems that we're dealing with here, though, is that Donald Trump, and his acolytes, have blown the doors, off of executive privilege. They've taken any limitation - they've tried to take any limitation out of play.

And I'll give you a couple examples. Let's look at Steve Bannon. He was just indicted. How is he going to possibly argue that his conversations are covered by an executive privilege that he had with Rudy Giuliani, that, he had with Bernard Kerik, that, he had with John Eastman?

None of them were members of the Executive branch, when they were in their "War Room," in The Willard, on January 5. Is he possibly going to be able to argue that those are covered by the privilege? I mean, in my view, he gets convicted on those communications, his defiance of Congress on those communications alone.

Similarly, yes, it's important, when we're talking about Mark Meadows, the Chief of Staff, is the closest adviser to the president. But that's not the end of the question.

The court will ask, we have to ask, "What were they talking about?" And if they were talking about covering up for January 6, or the President's pleasure, at January 6, that's, not covered by executive privilege.

CUOMO: Robert Ray, a couple of problems.

First one is that you don't get to exercise the privilege. The President does. You would argue, here by extension, the former president does. So Meadows and Bannon can't say, "I'm exercising the privilege." That's one problem.

The second problem is that you say there's not a lot of law in this area. Well, there really isn't almost any law. This is a privilege that's gone through executive action, traditionally. And why should we assume that the Supreme Court will take up this matter, because they've never taken it up before? Doesn't that assume that it's worth taking up?

RAY: Well, look, the Supreme Court has taken up these questions, when they have gotten to this point, in the Nixon era, I guess, is the only relevant example.

And it's not like we're completely bereft of any analogies, as to how to handle privilege claims. I mean, lawyers deal with this, as you well know, and Elie knows well, all the time. I would analogize it, at least in part, to attorney-client privilege.

I mean I understand the position, in the political environment, that truth is an absolute, and that the committee is entitled to get after the truth. But we have privileges that also stand, in the public interest, to protect certain things. One would be attorney-client communications, notwithstanding that they may actually reveal what the truth is. And--

CUOMO: But that privilege, Robert, runs with the client.

RAY: Yes, it does.

CUOMO: Until they die. That is not an analog to what happens with a president. It runs with the Office.

RAY: Well?

CUOMO: Not the Office-holder.


RAY: But the Executive branch has a claim here. Whether Joe Biden has chosen to assert it, Donald Trump, as the Nixon versus Administrator, court also recognized a former president does have the ability, to assert the privilege.

Now, whether it's enforceable or not, I think is probably a facts and circumstances question. But here, the former president has invoked, which is going to be relied upon, by both, Bannon, in a prosecution, and presumably by Mark Meadows, as well, in contention with, how he deals with Congress, in the future.

CUOMO: But how does Trump invoke the privilege to stop Bannon and/or Meadows or anyone else from testifying, Elie?

HONIG: He sent a letter, saying, "Yes, I would like you to not - I would like you to give me a chance to play this out, in the courts, and see how it comes out."

Now, Bob's right, that privileges are important. We shouldn't just throw all privileges, out the window, because we want to know, everything. However - and that's exactly why Steve Bannon is in a tricky spot here. Steve Bannon would have been much better-situated, to defend himself, if he was selective, if he said, "I invoke privilege, as to my specific subset of communications, perhaps, communications that Donald Trump had with me, about legitimate policy issues."

CUOMO: But isn't that something Trump would have to do?

HONIG: If there were any.

CUOMO: How does Bannon invoke any privilege? He doesn't have one.

HONIG: Right, so?

CUOMO: It would be him, as an instrument.

HONIG: Right, Bannon is trying to--

CUOMO: Of Trump's communications.

HONIG: Exactly. He's trying to back in on Trump's very broad invocation. So, what I said, applies to both Trump and Bannon. If they were selective, and said, "I want to invoke the privilege, only as to this narrow set of protected communications," they'd be in a much better situation.

Instead, remember, Chris, 2019, April 2019, Donald Trump walks out onto the White House lawn, and declares "We're fighting all the subpoenas." And if we thought he was kidding, no, he meant that literally.

CUOMO: Right.

HONIG: And he has invoked executive privilege, so broadly, that he's hurting himself, he's hurting the people around him, and he's undermining the privilege itself.

CUOMO: How do you think it winds up, Robert?

RAY: Well, the preferred way, is what has - as Elie suggest, that you would invoke selectively, once appearing, to say, "Well, I can answer this question. But I can't answer this question, because I think that it raises information that I think is protected by a privilege that the former president has asserted." That is the preferred course.

I mean, the problem in this area is it would be helpful if a court would actually sort out this stuff first, and then you could have testimony. The committee hasn't been willing to wait for that.

And they've now brought a prosecution, by the Department of Justice, while you've got litigation pending, before the D.C. Circuit that raises at least--

CUOMO: But they don't believe it's a righteous claim.

RAY: No. CUOMO: I mean, that's why, Robert, that you've never had a former president exercise it. You've only had it exercised through the current president, by suggestion.

The fact on your side is this is well, if you don't protect communications, between the President, when he's sitting, and his staff, if you can always just unpack it afterwards, is that what was intended? And we'll see what the Appellate court says on that.

RAY: Yes, they may be right or wrong about that. But it's, I mean, I think it's a pretty dangerous position, to be, in terms of bringing a prosecution, while you've got litigation outstanding, that hasn't yet been resolved that at least raises, I think, what was probably going to be deemed a core issue here.

And again, the Justice Department may think that has no merit. But nevertheless, there's still litigation pending.

CUOMO: Well, we'll see what happens at the Appellate court level. I have to tell you, especially on a Friday night, this is a real gift, to the audience.

Robert Ray, you made your position very explainable. Elie Honig, cogent, as always. Really appreciate it, guys. Thank you very much.

RAY: Thanks very much.

HONIG: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, the Kyle Rittenhouse trial getting more complicated. Closing arguments are coming, why? Well, the jury could decide charges that weren't even offered up until now. Why would the prosecution want more charges now, and what would they be?

And the judge, is his demeanor, an issue? Would it be the basis of a legal challenge? Next.









CUOMO: A sad sign of the times, tonight, 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops are on standby, outside of Kenosha, ahead of a potential verdict, in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, next week. We're not even at the closings yet. That'll be on Monday. The judge gave just under three hours for each side.

It was a very dramatic week of testimony. You don't see a defendant, in a case like this, on the trial often. But he was there. And he offered up an affirmative defense, which means that he had to offer proof of the same. There is a burden in proving the affirmative defense.

Obviously, the prosecution has the ultimate burden. But the idea that Rittenhouse doesn't have to prove anything, to claim self-defense, doesn't make any sense, OK? I know people are saying that to you out there. They're lying.

Now, the judge was also an issue. He had a bad relationship, with this prosecutor, at times, in the presence of the jury. Now, would that be an issue? Depends. How prejudicial was it? On what issues was it? What did it mean?

Earlier today, prosecutors asked that the jury be allowed to consider lesser charges, on several of the criminal counts. Why? They're hedging. After going through - this is the privilege of the prosecution, by the way. They have the ability to add or amend charges.

But watching them this week, gauging Rittenhouse's effectiveness, they made this call. It shows that they aren't confident that they were going to get it, on the original harsher charges.

While the judge will issue a decision, tomorrow, let's break down what he is likely to decide, whether he has good grounds, to deny that, and what we saw, this week? Top legal mind, Joey Jackson, and, new friend to the show, Elie Mystal, Justice Correspondent, for "The Nation," who has followed this case, from the start.


In deference, to our new friend of show, Joey, let's give Elie, a crack at this.

In terms of your observations, do you believe that lesser charges are going to be allowed, and do you believe this judge's demeanor, will be heard about, again, on appeal, by the prosecution?

ELIE MYSTAL, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: The judge has been extremely biased, towards Rittenhouse, from the beginning, not of the trial, but of the entire case. I'm talking about his pretrial motions, his refusal to kind of force Rittenhouse, to adhere to his bail release terms.

And that is carried through - straight through the trial, to the point, where on the last day of the trial, Rittenhouse's expert witness got a - got a clapping, from the jury pool, because the judge ordered them to give a cheer, for Veterans, on Veterans Day. And it just so happened that the expert witness was a veteran. So, the judge's demeanor has been biased throughout.

Does that lead to an appeal? Well, not if there's an acquittal. Quite frankly, we have a system, where if you are acquitted, of a crime, it becomes very hard, for the prosecution to retry you.

It's called double jeopardy. It's a great rule. We probably shouldn't live in a - we don't want to live in a world where the prosecution gets to try again and again and again, to get people, until they get it right.

But because of double jeopardy, any motion that isn't kind of appealed, all the way, up to the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, in real-time, which none of these have been, means that whenever - if Rittenhouse walks, on whenever the jury, sometime next week, that's it. That's ballgame, in terms of this case, this circumstance - this case.

CUOMO: Very fair analysis. However, Joey, the comma is what if it's hung, and they want to retry, and the prosecution wants to bolster their case? That's where misgivings about this judge's demeanor may come up.

But more imminently, do you believe the Judge allows the prosecutor to present lesser degrees, of the charges, or additional charges?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, well, a couple of things. I mean, you could argue the judge's bias. I think you'd have a good argument, as Elie suggested, in that regard.

But let's remember, before we get into that, Chris that he allowed for provocation, to be argued, by prosecutors. That's huge. What does that mean in English? It means that the jury will be instructed, right, jurors are given specific instructions, as to how to evaluate the facts.

If the jury concludes that Rittenhouse provoked the attack, then you lose the privilege, of arguing self-defense. And so, that is a major boon for prosecutors with respect to--

CUOMO: Can you not argue it perfect or imperfect, at that point? Can you argue it partially at that point, or no, not at all in Wisconsin?

JACKSON: No. No, and that will be--

CUOMO: That's totally no?

JACKSON: Yes. Because what you're saying is you have to exhaust, it becomes a high farther - a higher burden, really, from a defense perspective, because now you have to say that you've exhausted all and every avenue, before you actually engage, in the act of self-defense. So, this was a big, big win, for the prosecution.

With respect to lesser-included offenses, let's just be clear about what they are. You mentioned it, Chris, that you hedge your bets, right?

Because what happens is, sometimes you go all or nothing, if you're the prosecutor. It's either you convict on the top counts, as they are delineated, he was intending to kill. He recklessly killed. He killed with depravity. Or nothing. What they said, "Maybe it's not that. It could be some degree less than that. Maybe it's not a depraved heart. But it could be something else." And that gives the jurors more bites, at the Apple, to convict you.

CUOMO: Right.

JACKSON: And so that, in and of itself, if the judge permits, and allows lesser-included offenses, it may not get a conviction, on the top counts, but it gets a conviction of another count.


JACKSON: And that's detrimental. And that's why we saw Chris, the judge, really allocuting him, and saying to him, "Do you recognize what lesser-includeds are? Are you agreeing to that? Do you realize that by agreeing, you can increase your probability of a conviction?"

But I think that - last point, Chris, the instruction is given, if there's any view, of the evidence, which would support that charge? And so, you weigh the facts. And if there's any view of the evidence, right, that supports the charge, then you give the instruction. So, it could be likely that the judge could do just that, with respect to other lesser-included offenses.

CUOMO: Elie, last word to you. Here's the question. Do you believe that Rittenhouse against the prosecution came out on top in the victim versus vigilante analysis?

That's what provocation is about, whether or not he started this, and therefore he can't claim defense, or this was done to him, and he had to run for his life, and that's why he had to shoot.

Which do you think came out more cogently?

MYSTAL: Well, I think Rittenhouse did, because the judge didn't really let the prosecution, put on the case, like that's the big - that was the big bias that I saw, in this case.


The prosecution was trying to make various kinds of provocation arguments throughout, and the judge repeatedly cut them off.

So, when you say, like, how's the jury going to look at it? It's kind of like saying, well, how do I look, if you only photograph me, like above my first chin? I look thin, right? I could be a thin guy. It's only when you get the full picture that you understand how dense (ph) I am, right?

CUOMO: I'm here for all of it, by the way, Elie.

MYSTAL: And that's what the jury's looking at.

CUOMO: I'm here for every piece.

MYSTAL: So, the jury--

CUOMO: You look good.

MYSTAL: The jury only got what Bruce Schroeder, what the judge, allowed them to see. And if you only look, at what the judge allowed them to see, I think it's a very tough case, for the prosecution.

And that goes to the sad thing that you mentioned, at the start of your program that you've got - that's why there are troops in Wisconsin. It's because we - it's not because we are a violent nation or - whipping. It's because we don't trust the system. We don't trust the process.

We see the judge. We hear his ringtones. We see his answers. We see the jury, which is 15 to one, in terms of 12 jurors, it's four alternates, 15 to one White people, versus one person of color. We see all that. And that's why you have troops, on the ground, in the Wisconsin, right now.

CUOMO: Elie Mystal, thank you very much.

Joey Jackson, as always, a pleasure.

Welcome to the show. Don't beat yourself up like that, Elie. On hair alone, you win the contest, right? Joey and I, we're not the worst- looking guys. But you beat us, because you got a signature look.

All right, have a great weekend. I'll see you both again soon.

JACKSON: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right, to the other big case, with vigilante and racial undertones, the defense attorney, at the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial, is sort of apologizing, for his comments, about Black pastors.

I can't believe I even just said, "Black pastors." You're either a pastor or you're not.

This was code. So, is an apology enough, or should he be removed, from the case, as a rep for the Arbery's - as a rep for the defendant. Arbery's family wants that. Should they get it? Next.









CUOMO: One of the defense attorneys, in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial, you've actually seen him, on this show, he tried to do his own PR, in court, today. Listen.


KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I will let the court know that if my statements, yesterday, were overly broad, I will follow up with a more specific motion, on Monday, putting that and those concerns in the proper context. And my apologies, to anyone, who might have inadvertently been offended.


CUOMO: Number one, you don't apologize for anyone, who may have inadvertently been offended. That's not apologizing. That's kind of putting it on them.

If you think, you said something, you shouldn't have said, you say what you've heard me say before. "I'm sorry. I did not mean how that came out. I shouldn't have said it."

Now, that would have been the right thing, for this Counselor, to say, to apologize for this.


GOUGH: We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here, or other - Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here, earlier this week - sitting with the victim's family, trying to influence the jury, in this case.

And I'm not saying the State is even aware that Mr. Sharpton was in the courtroom. I certainly wasn't aware of it until last night. But I think the court can understand my concern.


CUOMO: Yes, your concern is that you don't want people there that project, the outrage and the pain, in this situation. You want to make sure that the people watching are as friendly to your client as possible. But the way you said it was offensive, and projected a prejudice.

Now, keep in mind, the judge said he had no objection to the Reverend Al Sharpton, not Jesse Jackson. This guy really doesn't know the difference between these two men? Sharpton was there. Jesse Jackson wasn't there before, but now, he's coming, so are around 100 other pastors.

We don't have Black and White pastors. You don't say "Black police, White police," right? We got to get away from that. We don't want to play to it.

If you watch this show, you likely know the level of lawyering, practiced by Kevin Gough. You saw it, when he came on, and failed to explain, what his client, William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., was doing recording Arbery's death, in the first place.

In fact, he embarrassed his own client. Listen to this.


CUOMO: In the police report, the McMichaels referred to a "Roddie." I'm assuming that was you? Yes.

GOUGH: OK, hold on, Chris.

CUOMO: Mr. Bryan, how did you come, to be in the car, videotaping, that day?

GOUGH: OK. We're not going there.

CUOMO: You don't want to talk about that either, all right.


CUOMO: We didn't play the part, where he was like, basically saying his client's too stupid, to answer any of these questions, for himself. So that's what you're dealing with.

The reason this lawyer saying something about Black pastors resonates is because it speaks to what this trial is all about, the fear of Blackness, for the defendants. Why else did they decide to chase this guy, jogging through there? You don't think it had anything to do with the fact that he was Black?

Now, look, it's not a bias-specific crime. But it doesn't have to be. And it's not just about what happens in the courtroom. I tell you all the time, we only know what we show, in a courtroom. But in the court of public opinion, and all the political and cultural undertones, we got to keep it real. And that's what it was about.

Now, at trial, today's testimony focused on some Black person checking out a construction site. It's why the defendants say they thought something was wrong, when they saw a Black man, jogging in their neighborhood.

It's why the judge even called out the defense team, for intentionally keeping Black people, out of the jury box. And now, it's a concern over Black pastors, in the courtroom. You see the trend?


Now, to a different courtroom, and a much different kind of result, Britney Spears, finally freed, today, not just from daddy, but from the conservatorship, entirely. Fans are going wild. What Britney is saying to them tonight, and why her legal fights, could be far from over?

Got somebody, who was, outside that courtroom, along with many others. She's Co-Creator of a documentary that shined light on the "Free Britney" movement, really was a huge catalyst, next.








CUOMO: Got to change the hashtag. #FreeBritney now has to be flipped. Britney is free, because Spears is no longer under the confinement, of a 13-year conservatorship.


It was terminated today, by a judge's ruling, legally returning her power, to oversee her own personal affairs, financial and otherwise, to her, estimated $60 million estate. I got to say, it really sounds low, for somebody, who's made so much money, for so long. We never really saw that pursued. Maybe we will now.

Outside the courthouse, hundreds of fans celebrated, some feeling vindicated, by their years' long push, to free Britney, from her father's control.

This was the pop star's message, to fans, shortly after the news. Quote, "Good God I love my fans so much it's crazy. I think I'm going to cry the rest of the day. Best day ever! Praise the Lord! Can I get an Amen?" Amen, Britney. "#FreedBritney."

But her battles are not over. Her lawyer has pushed, for her father - and that is a very savvy move, by the way. Her lawyer is pushing, for the father, to be investigated, for his alleged abuse and misconduct.

A lot of people run away, once they get what they want. And they forget to pursue the full claim. Here, they're not doing that. And I'm telling you, the amount of the estate may also come out in that.

Britney Spears? She's been making so much money, so much success, so many hits, so much touring, for so long, $60 million, may be a fortune to anybody else. But to somebody like that?

Now, Liz Day knows this saga, in and out, as the Co-Creator, of "The New York Times" documentary, "Framing Britney Spears."

How do you feel about today?

LIZ DAY, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES, CO-CREATOR, "FRAMING BRITNEY SPEARS" DOCUMENTARY: I'm really, really shocked, at how quickly we got to this place.

Britney spoke out, in June. A month later, she gets her own lawyer. And then a few months after that, we're looking at the end of the conservatorship completely. And it really makes you wonder how earlier this could have happened.

CUOMO: Why do you think it happened as quickly as it did?

DAY: I think because she finally, for the first time, got to choose her own lawyer, and she selected someone very aggressive, named Mathew Rosengart, and he started to file to depose her father, and really do a full investigation, which no one had ever really talked about before.

CUOMO: Yes, a savvy take, because people point to "Well, you know, judges were keeping this going, for a long time. So obviously, there was some reason."

Or there was never any side, other side, to the case, presented. It was the father, going before a tribunal, who figured "Well, it's his daughter. He must be telling the truth."

Which one do you think it was?

DAY: I think the latter is probably more likely. And no one had ever filed, to terminate the conservatorship either.

CUOMO: Good point. Good point.

Now, not over yet. Pushing for an investigation of the father. But what do you make of, because you understand the situation so well?

I know $60 million is a lot of money. But if that is the real number, it sounds low, for somebody, who's been successful, for almost, what, 20 years, she's been killing it at the top of the charts, touring all over, the gig, she has, in Vegas. Is that part of any future questions?

DAY: Absolutely. That is the central question that's going to be looked at. A lot of experts point out that she should be worth a lot more. She's had like a billion-dollar perfume business that successful Vegas residency, huge royalties. Where is that money?

CUOMO: Now, one of the obstacles, in this litigation, going forward, is her stomach, for going after her own father. What do you think happens there?

DAY: When she spoke out, in June, she said she wanted her father, and everyone else involved, in the conservatorship, to go to jail. So, I think it sounds as if she wants a full investigation. But yes, I mean, it could take a really long time. It could be really expensive. So, we don't know.

CUOMO: Could be emotional also.

I want you to listen, please, to Mathew Rosengart, Britney's attorney, very savvy guy, polished practitioner, in this area, listen to what he said.


MATHEW ROSENGART, BRITNEY SPEARS' ATTORNEY: If Britney instructs, we will pursue James Spears' deposition.

We will pursue the discovery that we served on him, in the form of interrogatory document requests, and other information, we're seeking, both in regard to financial information, alleged financial misconduct, and the electronic surveillance issue.


CUOMO: Now, you touched on that, in your documentary, the alleged abuses, including the use of the hidden electronic surveillance. I want to know what you think about how strong that evidence is?

But also, that first phrase, from the lawyer, "If Britney instructs," do you think that there may be a little bit of tension, for her about, her going after her own father? And what do you think about the proof?


CUOMO: Sorry, go ahead.

DAY: I mean, I think the proof is quite strong, because we vetted our whistleblower story, extremely thoroughly, as "The New York Times" would do.

We listened to the audio recordings. We authenticated the text message, surveillance evidence. We went to great lengths, to make sure that his story was accurate, and that we could corroborate it, independently.


In terms of Britney's stomach, to go after her father, again, I don't know, but from what she said, in June, it sounds like she really does want to see him go to jail, for what he's done to her.

CUOMO: So, we see a big TBC here, To Be Continued. I know that you'll be on it. And you're always welcome here, to give us the latest, on this. But I got to tell you, there should be a source of pride for you.

To me, this has never been an entertainment story. I don't cover entertainment. But conservatorships are rare. They're supposed to be selective. And they're supposed to be for people, who are in extremis. And this never made sense. And yet, it endured for so long.

Liz Day, thank you very much.

DAY: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Good luck going forward.

So, we just marked Veterans Day. But we can't just move on, because that's what we do. We love the troops! Do we walk the walk? You got to shine a light on what they face.

Service takes a toll, physically and mentally, whether you're abroad, fighting the bad guys, or not, because they're still human beings. And all human beings struggle. But in the Military, there is often a culture, a stigma, against dealing with it. "It's weak."

An Air Force sergeant just took his own life, at the Lincoln Memorial, this week, Ken Santiago.

I want to bring in his longtime friend. You see him sitting with him, in the same spot, last year. He's a veteran himself. What does he want to tell us about his friend, and what this situation screams out, about the needs for Service members, in our society? Next.









CUOMO: Tragedy, at the Lincoln Memorial, just days before Veterans Day. Air Force sergeant, Kenny Santiago, just 31-years-old, killed himself, Monday night. He was found on the steps of the monument, according to reporting, from "The Washington Post."

Just moments earlier, he posted a heartbreaking message, especially because it was so clear-eyed, on Facebook, talking about how it can be hard, to tell, when someone is suffering and depressed that nobody could help him. Don't even try.

His friends and loved ones saw the post, and begged him, not to end his life. But it was too late.

It's hard not to feel a lump in the throat, when you hear this story. But the truth is, as of 2019, there are an average of 17 suicides, a day, among Veterans. It's not including active-duty Military.

Now, I want you to look at this picture. It's Kenny, on the right, just in April, sitting on the same Lincoln Memorial steps, with his childhood friend, Edisson Naranjo-Mejia. He's a veteran. And Edisson joins me tonight.

Edisson, I'm so sorry for your loss, brother. I'm sorry to meet you under these circumstances. But I want people to hear your friend's story.


CUOMO: What do you want us to know, about how your friend lived, before we get to how his life ended?

NARANJO-MEJIA: He had an amazing life. He was self-driven. He was hard-working. He had a lot of goals. And he was very driven to make sure he reached those goals. He started the Air Force, 12 years ago, and he was just climbing high, high, until he got what he wanted. But his goals got cut short.

CUOMO: This comes to you as a complete shock? Did you know he was struggling? Was it something that he felt he could be open about?

NARANJO-MEJIA: I was starting to have my suspicion. And we had a conversation, about a week ago, before it happened. But there was - there was no red flags. There was no - the words weren't depressed in it. There was no - there was no alarms for me, to be concerned, or say something.

He told me that he was going to see someone, and there were improvements. He had moved, so that way, he's a lot with more people, and happier, and saw some changes. And I thought that those were all good signs. But I guess they weren't.

CUOMO: Well, it's an illness, brother. It's an illness. And it is so hard to control. But unlike so many, he was dealing with it though, right? He was getting some help?

NARANJO-MEJIA: I think he attempted. I don't know the details about whether he was getting help or not.

CUOMO: Was he resistant?

NARANJO-MEJIA: But he did see a medical--

CUOMO: Was he resistant to it? Did he feel like somehow it wasn't consistent with being the big strong man that he was, the Military man that he was?

NARANJO-MEJIA: I think he was worried. I mean, he had a high-security clearance. He was - he was, as a flight attendant, or whatever the Air Force called the flight attendants.

So, he was up there with the VIPs of Washington. And if they were to ever find out that he had these kind of struggles, what would happen, to his career that he's tried so hard to work for?

CUOMO: It's the stigma, you know?


CUOMO: He wouldn't have felt like that, if he had diabetes, you know?


CUOMO: Or leukemia, you know? He wouldn't worry about "Will people see me differently?"

What do you think it is about these types of struggles that people feel are going to make them less than?

NARANJO-MEJIA: It's - they just - they feel like the vulnerability is not allowed. And I think there's also not enough support. I mean, I think the Military is saying that they're trying.

But the training has been up in the higher leadership, and not really in the frontlines leadership, where they're supposed to, the people that actually see the airmen or soldiers, every single day, and interact to them.

And so, when these people need help, they don't know where they're going to, or who to talk to. And there's no confidential. So, if he says something, there's going to be some consequences involved.

CUOMO: Edisson, I'm so sorry about your friend.

NARANJO-MEJIA: I appreciate it.

CUOMO: And I hope that telling people about his story, he had everything going for him, I hope it just reminds people--


CUOMO: --that just because someone looks great, doesn't mean they're doing great. I appreciate you.

NARANJO-MEJIA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: And I wish you the best.

NARANJO-MEJIA: Thank you very much.


CUOMO: My condolences to the family.


CUOMO: To the Santiago family, I am so sorry, and I hope that telling this story gives some purpose, to Kenny's legacy.

If you need support? It's just like having a bad knee. It's just like having a bad arm. It's just like having something that's wrong with you, cancer, anything. You go to somebody who can help.

The National Suicide Prevention line, 1-800-273-TALK, 1-800-273-8255, I'm going to tweet it out. And as we all have to know, by now, it is not strong, to resist what's wrong.

We'll be right back with the handoff.


CUOMO: That's right, I said it. The shizzle is rizzle now, when it comes to messing with Congress' subpoenas. Now, people know that contempt has teeth. What will it mean for Bannon?