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Judge Declares Mistrial For Woman Accused Of Killing Cop Boyfriend; Both Trump And Biden Seize On Immunity Ruling To Rally Base; Trump Seeks To Overturn Hush Money Verdict After Immunity Ruling. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 07:30   ET




SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: It is the case that has spurred a thousand theories and now it's likely going to be retried. This, the emotional end of the high-profile murder trial of a Massachusetts woman accused of killing her police officer boyfriend.

Defendant Karen Read hugged her family -- you see there -- and supporters in court after the judge declared a mistrial in the case. The jury simply could not reach a unanimous verdict even after days of deliberations.

Read was accused of drunkenly driving into her boyfriend, John O'Keefe, with a car on a snowy night in 2022 and then leaving him there to die. She insists she is innocent. Prosecutors plan to retry her, however.

Here's what Read's attorney says about that.


ALAN JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR KAREN READ: This is what it looks like when you bring false charges against an innocent person. The commonwealth did their worst. They brought the weight of the state based on spurious charges, based on compromised investigation and investigators, and compromised witnesses. This is what it looks like. And guess what? They failed. They failed miserably and they'll continue to fail.


SIDNER: The prosecutors say they are going to try this case again.

Court TV anchor Julie Grant joins me now. You've been following this very closely. Can you give us some sense of this case and what some of the key evidence was that you think left the jury just unable to determine a verdict in this case?

JULIE GRANT, ANCHOR, COURT TV, ATTORNEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Sara, good morning. Great to be with you. Yes, both sides fought hard, and I think a lack of continuity really from both sides was problematic.

From the defense, we heard a narrative on the courthouse steps long before the trial ever began that Karen Read was being framed. The commonwealth did not speak out, and there's a good reason for that. Prosecutors are held to higher standards than private attorneys. They can't make extra judicial statements that could prejudice a defendant. So the commonwealth was quiet. We were only hearing one narrative.

And when it got time for trial it seemed like the commonwealth was doing everything they could to combat the narrative that the defense put out more so than just focusing on their case, which element by element they were trying to prove a homicide by a vehicle while DUI.

And they kind of tried the case backwards, Sara. They started calling all sorts of witnesses who were out that night with victim John O'Keefe and defendant Karen Read. And they told the story in a way that was confusing for the jury.

And then the defense was speaking very loudly prior to trial about a third-party culprit defense, which means they're going to point the finger at multiple people and blame them for the crimes that their client was charged with, but it never happened in the courtroom. So people were kind of waiting and waiting to hear who these perpetrators were, and the defense never put forth that burden of what's called production.

So I think on both sides, Sara, it was a well-thought case but there was a lot of confusion in both the stories and in the evidence.

SIDNER: I do want to ask you about a couple of things that were sort of outside of court that were mind-blowing. There was this sort of twists and turns that included a blogger whose nickname was 'Turtleboy.' What can you tell us about how he played a role in this case?

GRANT: Sara, he's also a criminal defendant like Karen Read is, and there's currently a separate state investigation going on right now. There's a grand jury inquiry being done as to whether the two of them colluded for witness intimidation.

Aidan Kearney, who goes by 'Turtleboy,' is currently charged with 16 felonies. And the cases are inextricably linked because the victims on his case were witnesses in Karen Read's case. And so right now, there's a grand jury investigation going on to see if there was any collusion between the two of them.


We know that in affidavits that were made public those two were on the phone for hours upon hours and had numerous phone calls. So investigators know that much -- that there was heavy communication prior to trial between Karen Reed and Aidan Kearney.

And he has a following and he's largely encouraged his followers to create this movement to "free Karen Read" even though Sara, as you know, she's out on bond. She's not jailed as a defendant.

SIDNER: You also have this other issue of a state trooper who helped lead the investigation. He was actually relieved of duty because of some of the text messages that came out where he was talking about her body and what she looked like.

Do we expect to hear from him in a mistrial -- after the mistrial?

GRANT: Sara, that -- after the mistrial, perhaps. That's a great question, Sara. You know -- so, Michael Proctor, the lead investigator on this -- this was a tough one because his conduct was disgraceful. The things he said -- his unprofessionalism -- it was inexcusable.

And the Massachusetts State Police -- you have to wonder if they felt as if he had any role in this hung jury. If his misconduct in terms of names he called Karen Read had any part in this.

The one thing that is key to understand about Proctor is there's no proof that he tampered with anything. So, yes, he said terrible things. He was unprofessional. He was discussing the case with people in his family, friends -- people who should have no knowledge of it. But when it comes to the actual framing that Karen Read's defense team claims happened, there's no evidence that Michael Proctor did any of that.

So I wouldn't be surprised -- to your question -- if he has a lawyer and if he speaks out in that regard.

And, Sara, the state -- or the commonwealth, I should say, rather, may have to call him in the second go-around even though he's been fired. If any other witness saw him collecting the pieces of Karen Read's broken taillight at the scene, then the commonwealth is OK. They can call that witness instead of him and leave him out of the case entirely. But if he was the only one to collect that evidence, they're going to be stuck with him, Sara.

SIDNER: And then, of course, the defense is going to go after him on cross. So this will be replayed all over again if prosecutors do, indeed, say what they're going to do, which is retry this case.

Court TV's Julie Grant. Thank you so much for walking us through what is a spectacle, if nothing else, of a case. Appreciate your time this morning.

GRANT: Sure. Appreciate you, Sara. Thank you for having me.

SIDNER: All right -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, a bright spot perhaps for the Biden campaign today. The campaign reporting it hauled in $127 million in the month of June, a strong showing after some signs that its fundraising was slowing. The campaign touting it as June marking the campaign's best month of the cycle. This obviously does not yet factor in the real impact of the president's debate performance as Democrats so fear. At the same time, President Biden is trying to turn the page a little bit rallying voters with a new warning about the danger he says Donald Trump presents to democracy in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today's decision almost certainly means that there are virtually no limits on what a president can do. This is a fundamentally new principle and it's a danger precedent. Because the power of the office will no longer be constrained by the law, even including the Supreme Court of the United States. The only limits will be self-imposed by the president alone.

I know I will respect the limits of the presidential powers as I have for 3 1/2 years. But any president, including Donald Trump, will now be free to ignore the law.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House for us. Arlette is the Biden campaign hoping this brings them something of a course correction?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, President Biden is trying to use this Supreme Court ruling on immunity to try to turn attention back to one of the key tenets of his presidential campaign at a time when his team is continuing to grapple with the fallout after Biden's halting debate performance.

Now, the president, in remarks here at the White House last night, warned that Donald Trump poses a threat to American democracy. He said that this Supreme Court ruling fundamentally impacts the power of the presidency and said it would embolden Trump to do whatever he pleases whenever he wants. The president said that voters should look at this ruling and dissent at the ballot box in November.

At the same time, the Biden campaign is also seizing on Trump's legal team, indicating that they want to challenge the verdict in that hush money trial after this immunity ruling.

A campaign spokesperson saying, "Today's decision is an affront to the rule of law and the very ideals our country was built on. But it has nothing to do with Donald Trump being convicted of 34 felonies for paying hush money to a porn star and then breaking the law to cover it up."


It comes as the Biden campaign is looking for some type of reset. The president really trying to turn the focus -- refocus the campaign debate around Donald Trump and the threat that he poses to democracy instead of having everything focused on himself after that bad debate performance last Thursday.

Now, it comes as the Biden campaign, behind the scenes, has been working the phone trying to ease concerns of many anxious Democrats. Something that Biden's team has been hearing from allies is they want to see President Biden out there doing more non-scripted moments. Things like news conferences or town halls.

We know senior advisers are considering the possibility that Biden could hold a major interview, but no final decision has been made.

But clearly, the Biden campaign is looking for ways to try to reset the conversation at this moment. That is part of what they're hoping with that -- those remarks from last night.

I'll also note they do have that one bright spot when it comes to fundraising, raising $127 million in June and ending the month with $240 million cash on hand. That's important because that will help them buy advertisements, open campaign offices, and hire more organizers.

But still, many questions loom for President Biden and his campaign about the path forward at a time when many Democrats are anxious about what it would mean to keep Biden at the top of the ticket in November.


Good to see you, Arlette. Thank you so much -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, with us now, Jason Osborne, former senior adviser to the Trump campaign in 2016. And CNN political commentator Paul Begala.

Paul, I do want to start with you because of new comments from Congressman Mike Quigley, Democrat from Illinois. We just heard from Arlette about how the Biden campaign is trying to calm nerves among the Democratic Party. I'm not sure it's working with Congressman Quigley.

He just told CNN, "What I'm stressing is it has to be his decision -- Biden's decisions. But we have to be honest with ourselves that it wasn't just a horrible night, but I won't go beyond that out of my respect and understanding for President Joe Biden, a very proud person who has served us extraordinarily well for 50 years. I just want him to appreciate at this time just how much of an impact not just on his race but on all the other races coming in November."

"It wasn't just one horrible night," Congressman Quigley says, and he admits to biting his tongue there.

What do you read into that?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (via Webex by Cisco): Oh, I don't have to read anything into it. I've not talked to Congressman Quigley, but I've talked to a lot of politicians and a lot of members -- Democrats, of course -- and that's what they're saying.

I think the key moment -- the peril of this debate collapse for Biden is not over. The key moments are going to be as we head into this Fourth of July weekend. Every member is going home. They're all going to march in their terrific community Fourth of July parades. What they hear from their fellow Democrats in their districts is going

to matter a lot. Maybe they will hear hey, he's a great guy. Stick by Joe. Don't stab him in the back. He delivered us from Trump. He can win.

But maybe they're going to hear more like Mike Quigley is saying. Look, it wasn't just a bad night. It was a collapse. And we've got to get a new candidate.

That -- they will come back after this Fourth of July and you're going to hear. And I think that's when this thing, one way or the other, is going to be resolved.

BERMAN: And Paul, what about what people are hearing from the Biden campaign and the White House when they do raise concerns, which is bedwetter, pearl clutcher? How effective is it to call names of people who are raising concerns about the president's debate performance?

BEGALA: It is very effective if what you want to do is alienate your allies. It is -- it is -- I'm trying to decide is it more stupid or more petty, and I think it's more stupid because they need to be strategic here. They need to reach out to people who are upset. Look, obviously, I'm one of them. They need to make their case.

And if you insult people on your team they tend to not want to be on your team. I'm sorry, but I've been through a lot of crises with politicians, and you don't go after your allies who have -- look, they have legitimate concerns.

I mean, I don't -- I don't know if you were watching, Berman -- you're an early-to-bed guy -- but that was a bad debate for Joe Biden, and any Democrat who says otherwise was just not watching.

BERMAN: I was part of the historic audience who tuned in to CNN across many different platforms to see what was truly an historic debate.

BEGALA: (Laughing).

BERMAN: So, Jason, it's not all daisies and unicorns --

BEGALA: It was on CNN, wasn't it?

BERMAN: It's not all daisies and unicorns for you --


BERMAN: -- right? Because President Biden, last night, did hit on something which may be an effective argument against President Biden (sic) -- Trump, rather -- former President Trump -- at least in terms of framing where things are.

After the Supreme Court decision expanding presidential immunity, what President Biden actually said is you have to be extra careful now --

OSBORNE: Yes. BERMAN: -- about electing Donald Trump because there are no guardrails.

Isn't there an audience for that?

OSBORNE: Oh, absolutely, but I think it also kind of falls on deaf ears a little bit when you have President Biden out there saying that the Supreme Court can't stop me when I do stuff -- you know, with regard to the student loan debt repayment.


But look, I think in terms of Democrats in the House and the Senate or down-ballot races, I think they should be probably embracing this a little bit in their own campaigns and saying look, we are the only stopgap to prevent President Trump, if he wins -- if he beats Joe Biden, we're the only thing stopping him from doing everything he wants to do to the detriment of the U.S.

Not that I agree with that but that would be the better play I think for Democrats as opposed to going and attacking and trying to replace the nominee. Because sometimes the grass is not greener on the other side and who knows who would take Biden's place.

BERMAN: I can tell you that is an argument that's being made by members of Congress running. And they may be doing both at the same time but many of them are saying it makes it all the more important now, they say, that we elect a Democratic Congress to serve as a bulwark against President Trump.

You think that's effective?

OSBORNE: I think that's more effective than actually stating -- going on the news and putting out statements saying that Biden needs to step down. I think the reality is at the end of the day, come -- if Biden stays in the race, three weeks out, two weeks out the base is going to come home to Biden just like the base is going to come home to Trump. And so you're really targeting that 10 to 15 percent of the swing voters who were with Biden last time and would come back to Trump.

But Biden really has -- like, he has no more rope to give. If he makes another gaffe -- if he has another episode like he did in the debate, he's pretty much done and the Democrats are going to suffer.

BERMAN: Is there any be careful what you wish for if you're a Republican? Would it be harder for Donald Trump to beat another candidate, or do you like the disorder if you're a Republican?

OSBORNE: Well, absolutely, I think you like the disorder. I mean, we've been through this before. We went through this in October of 2016, you know. So --

BERMAN: Paul, you talk about July Fourth here. What are the -- other than listening to people in July Fourth parades, which I really do hope they go to because they are wonderful things -- but besides the July Fourth parades -- BEGALA: Um-hum.

BERMAN: -- what are the other --

BEGALA: Yeah, they're great.

BERMAN: -- intervening events in the next seven to 10 days which you think could crystallize the decision for President Biden?

BEGALA: Well, those of us who are analysts are looking at polling. But I'm telling you -- I have a lifetime in this -- politicians are often ahead of the polls. They really are. They have good antennae. And their prime objective is to be reelected, OK?

Political parties -- they're not a church which welcomes everyone. They're not a family -- you know, like Robert Frost said, right? Home is the place where when you show up, they have to take you in. The party doesn't have to do it.

Parties exist to win and that's what those members are going to -- they'll look at polling. They'll listen to donors and other influencers. But I'm telling you, a couple of folks out at the American Legion hall on the Fourth of July -- they're going to have huge impact on Democrats.

Democrats are still a grassroots party and I think that's there Biden's greatest either asset or peril is. I don't know yet. I mean, I have my suspicions. I think that members are going to hear really negative things about Biden as the top of the ticket, but I could be wrong. But they're going to bring all that back to Washington in a few days.

BERMAN: All right, we will see in the next few days.

Paul Begala, Jason Osborne -- great to see you here in person, Jason. Appreciate it.

OSBORNE: Thank you.


SIDNER: John, stick around because you'll want to see this because the Celtics are back in the news again. Anyhoo, you see that face? That is a face of victory. It is also a face of wealth. We will talk about how he has become the richest man in the league.

Plus, why a congressman -- woman -- is facing a weapons charge this morning after doing something every traveler is warned not to do.



SIDNER: Fresh off their 18th NBA title, the Boston Celtics ownership group announced it's going to sell the team. ESPN reporting the group plans to sell a majority interest in the team by the end of the year or early next year. It's reportedly valued at around $5 billion. The group purchased the team for $360 million back in 2002.

That news comes the same day the Celtics reportedly handed star Jayson Tatum a record contract. The five-year, $314 million deal would make him the richest man in NBA history.

Also, an Indiana Republican facing a weapons violation charge following a flight at Dulles Airport in Virginia. Representative Victoria Spartz -- she says accidentally -- her office says she accidentally carried an empty handgun in her suitcase last Friday and didn't realize it was there. According to both Sparks and TSA the gun had no magazines or bullets in it, but Sparks was cited but continue on her international flight to Romania for an annual assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation In Europe -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: While there still remains a question of how far-reaching the implications will be of the Supreme Court's decision on presidential immunity.

Most immediately, and less than 24 hours later, we do know what it means for Donald Trump. His legal team now moving to leverage the decision granting president's immunity from prosecution for official acts to get this -- to get his conviction in New York thrown out. Trump's legal team already filing to seek permission to challenge the guilty verdict.

Here is how one of Trump's attorneys explained it on CNN just last night.


WILL SCHARF, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: What we have in New York is a situation where a substantial number of official acts of the presidency -- things that we believe are official acts -- were used as evidence to support the charges in that New York trial. We believe that corrupts that trial. That indicates that jury verdict needs to be overturned. And at the very least, we deserve a new trial where those immune acts will not come into evidence as the Supreme Court dictated today.



BOLDUAN: Joining us right now is former lead investigator for the January 6 congressional committee, Tim Heaphy. And Michael Gerhardt, constitutional law professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. Thank you both for being here.

Michael, before we get to the impact of the hush money trial I want to hear your reaction, Michael, to the majority opinion of the high court. You say it goes beyond being just wrong. What do you see here?

MICHAEL GERHARDT, BURTON CRAIGE DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR, UNC LAW SCHOOL: I think this is an example of the court clearly exceeding its authority and creating new law, unprecedented, without any support in any legitimate source of constitutional meaning. The court goes well beyond its authority in trying to suggest new immunity for the president or former presidents.

For example, the court talks about how there's a presumptive constitutionality for anything the president says or suggests is official. That means, for example, if the president were to order SEAL Team 6 to go kill his political rival, as long as the president claimed oh, I'm doing this as the commander in chief, then that act is constitutionally -- it's presumed constitutional. That's a whole new development in constitutional law and it's a very disturbing one.

There are other mistakes I think the court makes along the way. And so, this decision is not I think, as the chief justice tries to assure us, nothing new and nothing all that radical. Instead, I think the chief justice articulates a number of things that really underscore how radical this decision is.


Tim, you led the investigation into January 6 for the congressional committee that spent months investigating. You and I have talked many times since on what you've learned and seen in the evidence that you collected. And you've talked to me about seeing evidence of crimes.

What now do you see is the way forward for the judge and the case that the special counsel has brought? What could happen or should happen now?

TIM HEAPHY, FORMER LEAD INVESTIGATOR, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE: Yeah, Kate. Nice to see you, first of all. Thanks for having me.

I think what happens next is a full-on mini trial in a pretrial proceeding before Judge Chutkan. So the Supreme Court has articulated a test that Judge Chutkan now has to apply. She has to literally go through the allegations in the indictment and consider the evidence that the special counsel intends to present and determine whether or not it should or should not be admissible or bear upon the president -- the former president's culpability given the fact that there is this zone of immunity.

I think that opens the door for the special counsel to present essentially his entire case in a federal courtroom in Washington soon -- late this summer or this fall. So all of the evidence that we developed and the additional evidence that the special counsel developed -- because I do believe they have a bit more than we were able to obtain with the congressional investigation -- should be presented in a federal courtroom this fall.

BOLDUAN: And Michael, I played what Trump's legal team is now very quickly saying. They plan to use the Supreme Court's decision to challenge his guilty verdict in the New York criminal trial.

What do you think of that?

GERHARDT: I think it's a really poor argument. I understand why they're making it. They get some political sort of positive development by trying to challenge every criminal prosecution or, in this case, a conviction using this new case as cover. But the problem is that the case brought in New York was based on pre- presidential misconduct. And the Supreme Court has been very clear, ruling unanimously in a case called Clinton versus Jones, that a sitting president or former president has no immunity from a case based pre-presidential misconduct. So I think that's a nonstarter insofar as the appeal would be concerned.

BOLDUAN: Some of the things we heard his attorney pointing to last night were -- official White House communications is how it was described. But he was saying even tweets that came from the president or the president's Twitter feed that were put into evidence is part of the New York trial, which raises the question of just how far the tentacles -- how far-reaching and what do -- what is official and not becomes -- obviously, is a huge, huge question now.

Tim, if Trump's effort to get the Justice Department to go along with his false claims of widespread voter fraud is definitely protected and that's -- you know, has to be out of the special counsel's federal election subversion case -- how much is left of the case against Trump then do you think?

HEAPHY: Yeah, that's the question that Judge Chutkan will have to answer.


HEAPHY: The special counsel will argue, Kate, that the vast majority of the conduct was undertaken in his role as a candidate for office, not as president.