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Jessica Roth is Interviewed about the Groping Allegations Against Giuliani; New Polls for 2024 Race; White House Sends Personnel to Border. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 21, 2023 - 09:30   ET




SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: There are new allegations that Rudy Giuliani is being forced to face today. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson is now claiming Giuliani groped her when they were backstage at a January 6th rally. Hutchinson is well known now as the aide to Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who became the star witness really in the investigation by the January 6th congressional committee. She's laying out this explosive claim for the first time in her memoir, which is titled, "Enough."

In there Hutchinson compares Giuliani to, quote, "a wolf closing in on its prey" that day at the Ellipse, writing that it started with Giuliani excited and claiming to have real evidence of voter fraud. She then writes this, "Rudy wraps one arm around my body, closing the space that was separating us. I feel his stack of documents press into the small of my back. I lower my eyes and watch his free hand reach for the hem of my blazer. By the way, he says, fingering the fabric, I'm loving this leather jacket on you. His hand slips under my blazer and then my skirt." Hutchinson goes on to say that she was frozen. She felt his frozen fingers trail up her thigh. He said - she says, "he tilts his chin up. The whites of his eyes looked jaundiced. My eyes dart to John Eastman, who flashes a leering grin."

Now, that is before Hutchinson says she recoiled from Giuliani's grip and was filled with rage. She then left the area.

In response to this, Giuliani's team said these allegations are, and as they put it, a "disgusting lie," questioning the timing of these allegations and claiming it's just marketing for her book. An attorney for Eastman called the claims "libelous." For Giuliani, this adds to the mounting of trouble that he is in, including criminal charges that you well know he is facing in the Georgia election interference case, a lawsuit over unpaid legal bills and a sexual harassment lawsuit from a former personal assistant of Giuliani's. Giuliani has denied all of the allegations.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that's right, Sara, indeed he has. He even did it on TV last night. Listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Completely, absolutely false. Totally absurd. She claims that I groped her in a tent on January 6th where all the people went in that were very, very cold as a result of the president's speech, et cetera. I'm going to grope somebody with 100 people - I'm, first of all, not going to grope somebody at all. And, number two, in front of like 100 people?


BERMAN: All right, I'm joined now by former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, Jessica Roth.

Thank you so much for being here.

I want to take this in parts if I can.

First, just a reminder of the role Cassidy Hutchinson could play in the January 6th case.

JESSICA ROTH, LAW PROFESSOR, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW: So, I think it's very likely that Cassidy Hutchinson would be called as a witness in the special counsel's January 6th case. She testified before Congress in relation to the events of January 6th and gave very powerful testimony about the events leading up to the insurrection at the capital and the aftermath, including the lack of any effort on the part of the former president and Mark Meadow, who was her boss, to stop the violence.


I think she's going to be a key witness at that trial.

It's possible she could be a witness for Fani Willis' case as well. We don't know as much about that. But if she has information, for example, about the lead-up to the efforts to certify the false electors, she could potentially be a witness in that related case as well.

BERMAN: OK. So, in the federal case, which could come in March, Rudy Giuliani is not one of the defendants. Right now it's only Donald Trump who is charged in that. In Georgia, Giuliani is charged.

ROTH: Yes.

BERMAN: So, the allegation that Cassidy Hutchinson makes in her book, (INAUDIBLE) eyes (ph), what's the likelihood that it could come up in that trial, if Cassidy Hutchinson were on the stand?

ROTH: I think, based on the reporting thus far, that it is unlikely that the testimony about this alleged sexual misconduct would be admitted in that trial because this is -- neither case, the January 6th case by the special counsel or the Georgia case alleging election interference involve charges of sexual misconduct. They both charge broad conspiracies. In Georgia it's a RICO conspiracy as well. But neither involves allegations of sexual crimes or even as part of the means and methods of the conspiracies, sexual misconduct. And it would be extremely, I think, prejudicial to Mr. Giuliani for allegations of sexual misconduct to be heard by the jury. And he would, I think, have a very powerful argument that there's not sufficient probative value of the charges in the case to outweigh that danger of extreme prejudice.

BERMAN: Is that the case even if part of his defense - and we just don't know what his defense will be, but if it goes down the line of, I'm America's mayor, I'm this hero to so many, my character is unimpeachable. If that were part of his defense, could then the Cassidy Hutchinson allegation come into play?

ROTH: It is possible that if his defense went down that road this is a way in which he could essentially be opening the door to especially cross examination by him - of him about such conduct. It's also possible, if he pursued an unlikely defense that he wasn't there, right?

BERMAN: Right.

ROTH: Her allegations put him there at the critical events. They also establish the proximity of him with John Eastman as she talks also about their connection to him having what he claimed as a trove of documents showing election fraud that he shoved in her back essentially. There's a way one can show how it's connected to the critical events in the case. But I don't see it coming in unless the defense opens the door to it through some kind of misguided effort to impeach her in that regard.

BERMAN: There are a lot of ifs there.

Now, there's another case involving Rudy Giuliani, a defamation case, for which he has already been deemed liable for defaming these two Georgia election workers. And Federal Judge Beryl Howell just ruled that Giuliani, and, by the way, both of these accusers, need to be in that courtroom in December, just a few months away, to determine the damages for this.

What's that going to be like for Giuliani?

ROTH: Well, I mean, it's already been adjudicated that he's liable, right? So, he's lost on the most important point. And now it's a question of how much money he's going to pay. So, it's going to add to his legal troubles. It's going to add to his financial troubles, which we know are mounting. He's got legal debts related to that case but so many other cases. He's also been sued by a former assistant for allegations of sexual misconduct. And Cassidy Hutchinson's allegations potentially could be relevant in that case. So he is facing a mountain of legal troubles, a mountain of financial debt, all of which just puts enormous pressure on him that we could see contribute to decisions he might make down the road.

BERMAN: Jessica Roth, thank you so much. I think we understand this better after this discussion. Appreciate it.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up, the important signals that Republican voters are sending out of New Hampshire right now. The message it sends to the frontrunner and does it also even offer a bit of optimism for everyone else trying to beat Donald Trump right now.

We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: New CNN polling shows two -- many things, but two especially important things. Donald Trump is still the man to beat in New Hampshire. He's at 39 percent support among Republican primary voters in the nation's first primary state. But also, take a look there, New Hampshire voters are showing some promising and dare I say hopeful signs for the other Republicans running. Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, and Chris Christie all seeing a new boost in support since July. The only one who likely isn't feeling so great about seeing these numbers come out today, Ron DeSantis, seeing a 13 point drop there.

Joining me now for more on this is CNN political commentator Errol Louis. He's the political anchor for Spectrum News and the host of the "You Decide" podcast.

Of the important signs this poll may bring, what sticks out most to you, Errol?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The collapse of Ron DeSantis is extremely important. The campaign is in free fall. It kind of confirms that his strategy, his basic idea of kind of starting with a really negative tone, really negative topics, I'm going to fight against woke and this kind of a thing is really not connecting with voters. People care about things like, you know, the opioid crisis, they care about student debt, they care about medical bankruptcy. He's not talking about those things and so they're migrating elsewhere to other candidates.

BOLDUAN: Kind of also showing with DeSantis, it is interesting because the resets have not landed, at least in New Hampshire. And it gets to a question of what is the core problem here. You're thinking like what -- how kind of -- the message it -- it ends up always being the message.

LOUIS: Well, that's right.

BOLDUAN: And it works for Donald Trump. It clearly doesn't work when you apply it to other candidates.

LOUIS: No, well, I mean, look -

BOLDUAN: As we know. LOUIS: Trump, in the end, is talking about things that people care

about. You know, if you ask voters, they care about their families, they care about the economy, they care about the future. They don't care about whether you're going to sue Disney or, you know, push out some tenured professors from the state university because they're teaching the wrong thing.


It's just not what is connecting with people.

And the inability to sort of course correct, to sort of size up the situation and say, hey, I lost half my support in the last six months. Maybe we should try something different. Time is running out. He's got, you know, a little over 90 days to sort of turn this around.

BOLDUAN: So, something I have found interesting about Nikki Haley since the boost that we see here in New Hampshire and the boost that she's received really since the first debate is how she's leaning into kind of a message of talking about like the hard truths of today and hard truths of politics right now. I mean it includes - things that come to mind are like her calling out Republicans for some of the problems that the country is facing right now. Calling out Republicans on kind of I would say being misleading a bit on abortion policy or what they can actually pull off, and also on being -- calling Republicans out for being part of the problem when it comes to the nation's deficits and debt. And I'm wondering, in seeing that, if she's really starting to carve a lane for herself here.

LOUIS: I don't know if that's the reason she's getting some pickup in the polls because she sort of echoes what Chris Christie is doing as well, trying to talk about the party -

BOLDUAN: True. True.

LOUIS: About the ability for Republicans to come up with ideas and a strategy to lead the whole nation, which is traditionally what you do.


LOUIS: The - I think the challenge for both of them though is that we're in such a polarized climate and the Republican voters, the reason they're gravitating to Trump is not because he's giving them detailed answers about any policy position, they -- they like the attitude, they like the combativeness, they like the fact that he has proven that he can win, because he did win in 2016. And, you know, that's a very hard argument to make that he can't do it -


LOUIS: Or that he shouldn't do it or that the party should go in another direction. The guy who succeeded last time is saying, no, let's try it again.

BOLDUAN: It's true. OK, so, from New Hampshire to Iowa, where Donald Trump is doing something that he really doesn't do at all really anymore, which is kind of retail politicking. He went to - and we'll show you guys the video, went to a pub in Iowa. Whose - he wasn't drinking. He doesn't drink. But he was kind of like throwing around pizzas, handing out pizzas to people, getting very warm reception that he received there, kind of highlighting for me that it's not really clear what fully Donald Trump campaigning is going to look like this time, but does he even need to rush in deciding it? I mean look how he's doing.

LOUIS: Well, listen, we all forget now but Donald Trump lost Iowa in 2016. And so he did -

BOLDUAN: Just ask Ted Cruz. He'll remember that.

LOUIS: Ask Ted Cruz. That's right. I mean and it's - and it is retail politicking. They've gotten used to it. They've been spoiled some would say really on both sides of the aisle. They're used to seeing the candidate at the local diner. They barely even look up, you know?

BOLDUAN: They want to have a conversation with every candidate before they caucus.

LOUIS: Exactly right. And so you sort of have to show up.

Now, he wouldn't necessarily need to do that. He's got such a big lead in the polls. But I think he's looking for a knockout blow to try and burn all of these candidates who thought they were going to get a little oxygen, a little lift, a little pickup by appealing to the evangelical base of the Republican voters in Iowa. If he can knock them all out, that cancels the strategy of Mike Pence. That cancels the strategy of Ron DeSantis, frankly. It cancels the strategy of a lot of these candidates who thought - you know, Tim Scott thought that they were going to sort of go to a lot of churches and go to a lot of the private schools and sort of appeal to that base and pull off what Ted Cruz did in 2016.

BOLDUAN: Right, do well in Iowa to kind of rocket ship them off in the beginning of the primary and -

LOUIS: Exactly right. Donald Trump looking to close that door.

BOLDUAN: So, he's looking for as short a primary as possible apparently.

LOUIS: That's right. That's right. You know, he could have it wrapped up. If he wins the first four primaries, it's hard to see how any of those candidates can make a case to their donors, to voters, or anybody else, you know, us in the media -


LOUIS: That they are worth covering as a serious candidates who could still pull this off.

BOLDUAN: It's going to be a major Super Tuesday. We'll see.

It's good to see you. Thanks, Errol. John.

BERMAN: All right, 3,000 border crossings, one location, in one day. And now the White House announces new action.

Also, new information about the major media shakeup. Rupert Murdoch steps down.



SIDNER: An announcement from the White House on the border as the crisis there gets worse. The administration announced it will send 800 new active duty personnel, in addition to the 2,500 National Guard members that are already in place. Yesterday, around 3,000 migrants crossed into the United States at Eagle Pass, the second mass crossing that we have seen this week.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is at the White House for us.

Give us some sense of how this all came about as places like El Paso are saying, we are beyond capacity at this point.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Sara, after weeks of the administration seeing low border crossings, they're seeing those numbers rise again. And that's causing some anxiety within the administration, and it's prompting officials to take additional action, some of which you just mentioned, which is sending 800 new active duty military personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border to serve in a supporting role. This is something that they have done before.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is having to add additional capacity as well. That is the first point where migrants are taken in and processed as they move through the process. And then, two, and we cannot overstate this enough, the administration announced that they will provide, or expand, the number of Venezuelans who are eligible for temporary protected status. This is a status to allows Venezuelans to work in the United States, to receive a work permit and provide deportation protections.

An additional 472,000 Venezuelans will now be eligible to apply. This is significant because we have been seeing a large flow of Venezuelans at the U.S.-Mexico border. Now, those that are crossing now will not be eligible. You have to have been in the United States on or before July 31st. But it's significant because this is an issue that has spilled over into the interior. New York City has been asking the White House to expedite work permits. This is a way for Venezuelans to get those work permits, many of whom are those migrants that are in New York City that have been straining the capacity there.


So, all of these taken together, all of these actions really underscore the challenges that the administration continues to face on immigration. And really all - they're using all the tools in their toolbox to try to manage this new surge at the U.S.-Mexico border, but it is becoming increasing difficult, Sara, especially as those consequences no longer have the same effect.

SIDNER: It is interesting because we talked a lot during Title 42. and as it was coming to an end, we weren't seeing these surges. Then suddenly now we are seeing these huge surges again.

We will be watching it. I know you will be.

Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much for the reporting.


BOLDUAN: Coming up, right now, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is in Washington. He's on Capitol Hill. And he's meeting with lawmakers. His fight now for continued support from American lawmakers while back at home Russia launches a major assault on cities across Ukraine. We're following Zelenskyy as he moves throughout the Capitol. We'll bring it to you, next.