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Norm Eisen and Richard Painter Are Interviewed about the January 6th Committee; Taliban Released Kabul Bomber; Cleanup Effort in California; Meg Linehan is Interviewed about the NWSL's Abuse. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 06, 2021 - 09:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Testify immediately, challenge in court.

Let's start with you, Norm. You've got a lot of experience here.


They can run, but they cannot hide. This is not the Trump administration, where the president could embark on a stonewalling campaign backed by bogus claims of executive privilege, and then a Justice Department that wouldn't enforce the law, creating impunity for those four years, Jim.

Here, you're going to -- you have strong precedence that we helped establish in the McGahn case for testimony and in the Mazers case for documents, those are going to be enforced by Congress and DOJ will weigh in as well.

So, no, they cannot stall like they did under Trump.

SCIUTTO: And we should note to folks who are watching, each of -- Norm, you served under Democrats. Richard, you served under Republicans. And you're part of a bipartisan group of former public officials and lawyers who are zeroing in, in particular, on this memo by the pro-Trump attorney John Eastman, which really laid out an action plan, right, for how then President Trump might overturn the election with the help of then Vice President Mike Pence.

In your letter to the California bar, you say, the available evidence supports a strong case that the state bar should investigate whether in the course of representing Mr. Trump, Mr. Eastman violated his ethical obligations as an attorney by filing frivolous claims, making false statements, engaging in deceptive contact.

I mean basically he'd get kicked out of the bar there. But, Richard Painter, is that -- you know, is that the most we can hope in terms of legal consequences for someone like Eastman, given what he was trying to do here?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: I hope not. I have repeatedly urged that the Department of Justice appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the events after the election leading up to January 6th. And that includes an investigation of President Trump, President Trump's lawyers, members of the House and Senate, and White House officials involved with the insurrection and sedition of January 6th. Attorney General Garland needs to appoint a special prosecutor.

But until then, we will do what we can to hold those who participated in these events responsible. We know what Donald Trump wanted. He wanted to pressure the vice president of the United States to reverse the election results, he incited a crowd outside the Capitol. Now we see Donald Trump's lawyer drafting a memo that it seemed the aim at the same result.

And I've worked for many years on the issue of when lawyers are responsible for their clients' conduct. My first law review article was on the responsibility of lawyers for client conduct. I believe Mr. Eastman crossed the line. But that is something for the California bar to investigate. And the facts are set forth in our complaint.

SCIUTTO: I mean, he's one piece, a big piece of what appears to be a larger plot here.

Ambassador Eisen, we're nine months out from January 6th. And you have a number of folks who stormed the Capitol facing legal consequences but not the ring leaders, right? And I just wonder, are we exposing here that the system is not up to the task of policing this? By the way, meanwhile, Donald Trump is, again, the punitive nominee for the Republican Party in 2024.

EISEN: Well, Jim, to make sure that the system is up to the task of protecting our elections and protecting our democracy in a bipartisan way, as you see with me and Richard, that's why we came together in this States United Democracy Center that organized and filed this bar complaint against Eastman. And all across the country we are working to shore up, by pushing back on sham audits, by litigating against these terrible voter hijack bills that are in the states, Jim.


EISEN: Our States United Democracy Center, working together, my co- chairs, Republican Governor Christie Todd Whitman, these are not partisan issues.


EISEN: Our democracy is under assault because our elections are under assault. And starting with the Eastman complaint and much, much more, we're doing something about it.

SCIUTTO: Richard Painter, before we go, are any of the senior officials, including the former president, but others who helped and aided this plot, going to face charges for this, right, or will it be another instance of a lot of sound and fury but no actual action?

PAINTER: Well, the prosecutor down in Atlanta is looking at state charges against Donald Trump, I believe, for solicitation of election fraud. But, once again, the Department of Justice does need to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the former president and those working for him.


I will note that I was a Republican for 30 years, and one of the most important accomplishments of the Republican Party was the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies from public office anyone who has supported an insurrection such as what happened during January 6th -- at the Capitol on January 6th. Donald Trump is disqualified from public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, and the Justice Department needs to appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute everyone involved in the events of that day. We should not have to deal with his candidacy in 2024.

SCIUTTO: We'll see if that step's taken.

Ambassador Norm Eisen, Richard Painter, thanks so much to both of you and for the bipartisan work you're doing.

PAINTER: Thank you.

EISEN: Thanks, Jim.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: New details about the terrorist who killed 13 Americans in the deadly bombing at the Kabul airport. Why he was released from prison just days before the attack. That live report is next.



HILL: The Taliban claim they've now carried out two raids against ISIS-K in Kabul in recent days. This as CNN has learned the ISIS-K suicide bomber who carried out that attack in late August that left 13 U.S. service members dead and, of course, a large number of Afghans, well, that person was released from a prison near Kabul just days earlier.

SCIUTTO: That's a remarkable thing, the Taliban is now policing ISIS-K there.

HILL: Yes.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now from the Pentagon.

Oren, so this is one of many hundreds of prisoners, right, released in those days and weeks before going back to the Trump agreement with the Taliban. I mean the concern must be that there are potentially many more people like this out there.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Not just hundreds of prisoners released from those prisons, but thousands, from the Parwan Prison at Bagram Air Base, and well as the Pul-e-Charkhi Prison, both very close to Kabul. And as the Taliban approached Kabul on August 15th, just hours before they took control of the city, they released all the prisoners from these prisons, many of their own Taliban members, but also members of ISIS-K and al Qaeda. And that's why there's an increased threat without a U.S. and coalition presence in Afghanistan of the reconstitution of al Qaeda and ISIS-K.

One of these prisoners they released, we've learned from two U.S. officials, was Abdul Rehman, who, just 11 days later, as the U.S. was winding up its withdrawal and evacuation from Afghanistan, carried out this suicide bombing at Abbey Gate at Kabul International Airport that killed 13 U.S. service members, as well as more than 100 Afghans. Abdul Rehman was one of those released by the Taliban just days before. And even if they are enemies, the Taliban and ISIS-K, he was one of those released and that allowed him to carry out the terror attack that killed 11 Marines, one sailor and one soldier.

SCIUTTO: Yes, many hundreds of Afghans too.

Oren Liebermann, at the Pentagon, thanks very much.

Well, some 1,500 people are expected to be part of the California oil spill cleanup effort by the end of the week. We're now learning more about what might have caused the massive pipeline leak. A preliminary report suggests it may have been hooked by a ship's anchor.

HILL: CNN's Camila Bernal joining us now from Huntington Beach, California.

So, where do things stand this morning in terms of just the damage that you're seeing as well and the effort for the cleanup?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hey, Jim and Erica, good morning.

So, the two things that we're focused on today is the investigation and the cleanup. But let's start with the investigation.

We now know that a 4,000 foot section of that pipeline was moved about a hundred feet. So what the CEO of Amplify Energy said was that it appears as though it had been pulled and now looks like a semicircle in the middle of it is that split, that 13 inch split.

And to put things into perspective, this is a pipeline that's made out of steel. It's about 16 inches in diameter, covered in concrete. And so, in a way, it explains why this preliminary report says that it was an anchor that hooked on to this pipeline.

But the preliminary report also raising a lot of questions because it also says that the operator was notified of a low pressure and they were given that warning, but they did not shut off that pipeline until three hours later. So a lot of questions as to why it wasn't shut off, and when authorities found out about this, because the Coast Guard received reports of an oil sheen on Friday. But the company did not notify authorities until Saturday. The cleanup did not begin until later on, on Saturday. That cleanup is still ongoing. The crews here behind me, they're

arriving. We've been seeing them throughout the day, walking up and down the beach, picking up the oily sand and just doing everything they can to get this cleaned up, both here on the beach and on the water. But this is not going to be easy. It is going to take some time.

Jim. Erica.


HILL: Wow. Camila Bernal, appreciate the update. Thank you.

A coach for the U.S. Women Soccer League fired after an explosive report detailing players have been accusing him of sexual misconduct for years. The journalist who broke that story is with us after the break.



SCIUTTO: The Justice Department says that new information has added a sense of, quote, urgency and gravity to their review of the FBI's decision not to prosecute the agents who botched, frankly, the Larry Nassar investigation. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco declined to say exactly what that new evidence is, but she said she wants the survivors to understand how seriously they are now taking the issue at the department.

The DOJ has been facing sharp criticism after four of the world's top gymnasts testified before -- or, rather, during a Senate hearing about how the FBI badly mishandled the investigation. It was powerful testimony. Nassar, the former doctor for USA Gymnastics, sexually assaulted more than 150 women and girls over the course of some two decades. He was sentenced to a maximum of 175 years in prison.

HILL: Today, matches resume for the National Women's Soccer League after being called off in the wake of a new investigative report by "The Athletic" which details years of alleged abuse.


Former players Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly accusing former North Carolina Courage Head Coach Paul Riley of sexual coercion and misconduct. Riley denies the accusations but has since been fired. Now one of those players, Mana Shim, is speaking out.


MANA SHIM, FORMER NWSL PLAYER: He's a predator. He sexually harassed me. He sexually coerced Sinead, and he took away our careers.


HILL: Meg Linehan is a staff writer for "The Athletic." She broke this story. And it also the host of the podcast "Full Time with Meg Linehan."

It's good to have you with us. It is -- it is maddening, I think, for a lot of people to read this and to see laid out what you refer to as an institutional failure within the league, which, you know, as you said, is now facing -- facing a reckoning.

Why do you think it took so long?

MEG LINEHAN, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": I think what we have seen across the NWSL is that the system was built, right, upon this premise that any negative story would maybe completely derail the legal itself. So, first of all, there was this kind of institutional protection happening, but the players also felt this as well. They were afraid for their own careers. They were afraid for their teammates' careers.

So, as we discussed in the piece, there is this culture of silence that has really permeated the National Women's Soccer League.

HILL: And when we look at that, too, even, you know, the culture and the way it was set up, as you point out, in some ways -- and I was having this conversation with colleagues earlier, it almost feels like what we see in terms of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church where people were sort of moved around, but the issues were not addressed.

LINEHAN: Yes, definitely had some -- some spotlight things. I'm actually from Massachusetts, so it was hard for my brain to not go there. But I think really seeing the path where Paul Riley was released from his contract with Portland Thorns in 2015 and then he was hired by another team in 2016, and that team confirmed that they knew an investigation had happened. They said they were under the impression that nothing unlawful had happened, but they followed all league protocols in setting up Paul Riley's new contract. That, to me, again, speaks to the kind of institutional failure that we've been looking at.

HILL: And it's not just within the NWSL. You know, we heard from, on Twitter, reaction from Aly Raisman, who, of course, many people know, not just as a remarkable Olympic gymnast, an athlete, but also for her bravery in speaking out about the abuse she and so many others suffered from Larry Nassar. And she tweeted, the problem is bigger than any one abuser. Like Nassar, it includes all enablers, noting that unless we get a full, independent investigation, we'll never understand the problem well enough to fix it and the list of victims will grow.

So, Lisa Baird, who just resigned as commissioner of the league, was also part of the leadership team at the U.S. Olympic Committee. I'm wondering, do you see a broader fallout here beyond soccer?

LINEHAN: I mean we've already seen global ripples from this story across the world of women's soccer. But I think it speaks to this larger pattern. There is that fundamental issue of people that take advantage of a power imbalance, a relationship between a coach and a player, but it could really be anyone that has a power imbalance. So, I think just naturally the structure of sports, especially within that coaching relationship, dose courage athletes to maybe feel like they have to trust these people. So, it's not just going to be women's soccer. I think the gymnastics thing has really led the way and also shown how crucial meaningful investigations are but they have to -- we have four going right at the moment already within the women's soccer just since Thursday and we don't know how they're going to interact. And that's another complication, too.

HILL: It is. And, you know, it feels like there are so many story lines here. But, ultimately, you giving a voice to these athletes, right, that they trust you, allowed you to share their story, that we are shining a spotlight on this, that is going to have a difference.

I'm curious, what do you think that the -- you mentioned those investigations. We don't know where they're going to go. But what is the path forward that you see this morning?

LINEHAN: I think the key part right at the moment is that the players have a voice, right? And the decision to play games, I do expect that we're going to see some very impactful moments tonight, not just from the players, but also the fans. But there are institutional things that have to happen. The players can lead us through I think a huge part of this. But, fundamentally, we have to insure that players feel emotionally, mentally, physically safe when they play the sport, and that is the bear minimum.

HILL: Yes. Meg Linehan, phenomenal reporting and really appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

LINEHAN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Yes, such a sad story.

Well, here in Washington, are Democrats ready to use the so-called nuclear option? President Biden is considering this temporary, one- time change to filibuster rules in order to raise the debt ceiling, avoid a potential economic disaster.


We've got the details from Capitol Hill, next.


SCIUTTO: A very good Wednesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HILL: And I'm Erica Hill.

President Biden really ramping up his public pressure campaign on Republican senators. This as the nation is, of course, dangerously close to defaulting on its debt for the first time ever. The president set to meet with CEOs and business leaders just a few hours from now where he's expected to make the case that Republicans are putting the country at risk by standing firm and refusing to vote to raise the debt ceiling.

[10:00:04] SCIUTTO: Senate Democrats weighing the options to avoid default, including discussion of a one-time