Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Following Discussions, Writers and Studios Depart "Feeling Encouraged"; Cassidy Hutchinson, Former Trump White House Aide, Claims Rudy Giuliani Groped Her on the Day of January 6 Attack; Giuliani Rejects Accusation of Groping Former White House Aide; Interview with Former Federal Prosecutor and January 6th Committee Former Lead Investigator Tim Heaphy; In a Fulton County Indictment, Giuliani is Charged with 13 Criminal Counts; Judge Anticipated to Accept Alex Murdaugh's Admissions of Guilt; Admission of Guilt by Alex Murdaugh for Stealing Millions From Clients. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 21, 2023 - 10:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: All right. Brand new this morning, is that the whiff of optimism floating over Hollywood instead of the smog? The heads of four major studios will meet with the Writers Guild today for the second day in a row. This after they walked out yesterday using the word encouraged.

CNN's Natasha Chen in Los Angeles. So, this smell like something is happening?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, they may have said encouraged, but I can tell you among the rank-and-file WGA members, they're not going to take anything for granted until they see an actual agreement just because of how long this has gone on for four and a half months where they've seen the previous, so-called, developments actually turn out to be disappointing. So, they're not holding their breath here.

But let's show you who was in the room yesterday. The CEOs actually showed up from Warner Brothers Discovery David Zaslav, from Disney Bob Iger, the heads of Netflix. and NBC Universal, and of course the writers themselves and the AMPTP representing all the studios. They are scheduled to continue talking today.

So, yes, it was described encouraging. This has -- you know, a hope that maybe something could be resolved before the holiday season. But there are some folks who have talked to me about how they feel like there is a possibility this is going to drag on until the end of the year, and that leaves a lot of people continued to be out of work. Not just the writers, not just the actors, but of course the people providing the props for these productions. The people who would have catered food for them. The people cleaning their offices, they've been out of work for months and there have been layoffs.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor -- U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that just in the motion picture and sound recording industries between May and August, there have been 34,800 jobs lost during that time just in this industry, not counting those ancillary businesses that would have served these productions. So, that is extremely crushing for the people currently on unemployment, not sure when they can pick up their work again. John.


BERMAN: Natasha, if there is some breakthrough today, if they miraculously walk out with a deal, when does that mean we could all see new stuff on our screens?

CHEN: Right. Well, it's not going to be immediate. Even if there is an agreement and people go back to work at the studios and go back to work in the writer's rooms, it's going to take some time for each show, for each production to really get up to full speed. A prop house owner I was talking to yesterday said that she was prepared to, you know, work as soon as the studios are ready to ask them for props, ask them for set decorations. But she also told me it's -- even after a deal is reached, he's expecting that the money won't start flowing until maybe three or four months later. So, that gives us a little bit of a sense of just how quickly those productions might turn around.

BERMAN: All right. Keep us posted. Anything you hear, let us know. Natasha Chen, thank you very much.

CHEN: Thanks.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: Disturbing new allegations in a new memoir with Former Trump White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson is saying about Rudy Giuliani and what he did to her on January 6th, and how he has responded to the allegation.

Plus, this hour, convicted killer Alex Murdaugh is expected to do something he didn't do in his state trial, plead guilty to a swath of federal charges for allegedly stealing millions from his former clients. Those details are ahead.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: So, there are new allegations that Rudy Giuliani is being forced to face today. Former White House Aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, is now claiming that Giuliani groped her when they were backstage at the big rally on January 6th. Hutchinson is well known, of course, now as the aide to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows who became the star witness in the investigation by the January 6th Congressional Committee.

She is laying out this explosive new claim for the first time in her new memoir, "Enough." In there, Hutchinson compares Giuliani to a, "A wolf closing in on its prey." That day on the ellipse. Writing that, it started with Giuliani excited and claiming to have real fraud -- real evidence of voter fraud, like, in hand. And 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, she then adds and continues, fingering the -- he says, fingering the fabric, I am loving this leather jacket on you. His hand slips under my blazer, and then my skirt. Hutchinson then goes on to describe the scenario like this. Saying, I feel his frozen fingers trail up my thigh. He tilts his chin up. The whites of his eyes looked jaundiced. My eyes dart to John Eastman who flashes a leering grin. That is before Hutchinson says she recoiled from Giuliani's grip and then filled with rage, stormed through the tent.

Giuliani's team, they call this a disgusting lie. Last night, Giuliani said this.


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 am going to grope somebody with 100 people -- first of all, I am not going to grope somebody at all. And number two, in front of like 100 people?


BERMAN: So, John Eastman, for his part, his team is also denying any of this and calling the description libelous.

John. Sara.

SIDNER: Well, we'll get some perspective on those disturbing allegations and how this could come into play against Rudy Giuliani. We're joined now by former lead investigator for the January 6th Investigation Committee Tim Heaphy.

Thank you so much for joining us. Let me start here, when you see these allegations, they came out in a book and they haven't been made since. What is your initially thought? Obviously, Giuliani denying them, but your initial thoughts about hearing from her? You saw her in person testifying.

TIM HEAPHY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER LEAD INVESTIGATOR, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: Yes, new information. I don't believe that she provided this to the Select Committee, and I'm not sure that it is relevant and that it will come in in a criminal trial in the allegations that are facing Rudy Giuliani in Georgia involve very different conduct. Conduct about challenging the election and an alleged bad act, like, you know, personal assault that she describes. I am not clear that that would be deemed relevant, certainly prejudicial.

Generally, you know, prosecutors cannot introduce bad act -- general bad act evidence against a defendant absent (ph) a specific reason as to its relevance. I'm not sure here what that might be.

BERMAN: Remind us of the role that Cassidy Hutchinson did play in your investigation, and how she proved to be a credible witness for you.

HEAPHY: Yes, Cassidy was in the room where things happened. She was Mark Meadows', sort of, principal deputy chief of staff in the White House.


She had worked herself into a position of access and trust. And she provided the Select Committee with really important information about discussions that she overheard, efforts by Meadows, by the president, by others to intentionally disrupt the joint session.

So, she did emerge as one of the people really close to the president who was able to provide very specific evidence about his state of mind. And the large majority of it was corroborated. You know, we had a lot of information, for instance, about her testimony that the president really was adamant about wanting to go to the Capitol on January 6th after that Ellipse Speech. And we were to find people inside of the president's vehicle who confirmed that he was adamant about going to the Capitol. So, we plugged her in to a broad fabric of other information as you do in any investigation, and she became -- emerged as credible information when that -- her information was corroborated.

SIDNER: Can I just ask you because you mentioned that this information wouldn't likely be brought into the case, for example, in Georgia or any of the other cases. But there does have to be a police report made, right, initially for anything to go forward, am I -- is that correct?

HEAPHY: No, not necessarily.


HEAPHY: A lot of times, things like this happen and are not reported to the police. I didn't read the book. I'm not sure that she ever went to the police, probably not. A police report is not a condition precedent for its admissibility. It's rather a relevance question, right? In any criminal trial, the rules provide that evidence that bears upon the issues at stake in that trial are admissible, but other stuff that the defendant may or may not have done is not admissible.

So, here, the prosecutor would need some theory as to how that alleged incident were bear on issues in the case, the intentional effort to prevent -- to disrupt the joint session and prevent the transfer of power. And this, sort of, alleged sexual misconduct, there would need to be a theory as to why that bears upon the broader issues that are stake in the Georgia case.

BERMAN: He is a defendant. Rudy Giuliani is a defendant in Georgia. What kind of a witness would he be given everything that has happened with him and around him at this point? How much sense would it be -- make for his defense to put him on the stand?

HEAPHY: Yes, very hard to say. I mean, he has been pretty consistent in multiple statements, both to the Select Commitment. He submitted to an interview. And while he did assert some privilege claims in response to questions, essentially doubled down on the, sort of, claim that there was evidence that the election was stolen. He has repeated those allegations publicly. So, for him to, sort of, become a cooperating witness and to provide information that would inculcate (ph) others, maybe difficult given how consistent he's been on the other side.

I don't know whether or not that is a calculus. I mean, prosecutors always want to talk to charge defendants and evaluate whether they might have information that would make the pending stronger. But really, I have no idea whether any such talks are going on with Giuliani.

SIDNER: Thank you so much for joining us and, sort of, fleshing this out. It is a really disturbing new information that's come out in this book. And I'm sure there'll be a lot more discussed about this going forward. We appreciate your time, sir.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, convicted killed Alex Murdaugh is back in court. This time to plead guilty to nearly two dozen federal financial crimes. We'll have the very latest from the courtroom.



BOLDUAN: Convicted killer, Alex Murdaugh, is back in court right now. Facing a new plea hearing as he has changed his plea to guilty. He is changing plea to guilty to almost two dozen federal financial crimes, this is, of course, on top of the life sentence that he is already serving for being convicted of murdering his wife and one of his sons.

Dianne Gallagher is following all this for us. She's joining us now. Dianne, so, what is happening with this?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, this is actually the first time that Alex Murdaugh has ever officially pleaded guilty to any of the more than 100 crimes that he has been charged with over the past two years. Court proceedings are ongoing.

CNN reported on this plea agreement with the federal government that Alex Murdaugh signed this week, essentially, admitting to these 22 federal fraud and money laundering charges. And agreeing to cooperate and work with the federal government to find his assets and pay restitution to his victims. As well as take a polygraph test if required by the government when talking about other financial crimes as well as any attempts to locate some of his money.

Now, again, court proceedings are ongoing. A judge must accept this plea agreement, that is what is happening right now in a Charleston U.S. District Court, where they are going to go through each of these charges. Talk to Alex Murdaugh about these charges.

Look, here' the thing, he is already serving two consecutive life sentences in state court for the murders of his wife, Maggie, and his son, Paul. Now, he is appealing to that conviction. But his attorneys this month filed paperwork to suspend that appeal, and they filed asking so they could do a motion for a new trial.


They've alleged there was jury tampering in that murder trial by the Colleton County court clerk -- clerk of court. They're investigating that right now and nothing has been granted. But even if he receives the maximum of these federal sentences, because that's what this agreement would allow for him to serve a federal sentence concurrent to any state sentence on this similar fraud charges.

Kate, remember he faces 101 fraud and drug-related charges at the state level. He's going to be going to court trial for those first charges on the state level at the end of November. But unless he gets out of jail for the murder charges, none of that will come to pass.

BOLDUAN: Dianne Gallagher following it for us. Thank you so much, Dianne.


SIDNER: All right. Ahead, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting right now with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and later with President Biden at the White House. As missiles have rained down overnight on his country, he is asking for help to save his country but some Republicans are saying, it's time to cut Ukraine off. All of that's ahead.