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At Least 5 Former Trump White House Staffers Voluntarily Spoke with Jan. 6th Select Committee; Biden White House Rejects Another Trump Executive Privilege Request; New Trove of Facebook Documents Due Out; Investigators Mistook Brian Laundrie's Mother for Him During Surveillance; Texas Governor Approves New Congressional Map Consolidating GOP Power; Chappelle Willing to Meet with Trans Community but with Conditions. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Just into CNN, at least five former Trump administration staffers have voluntarily spoken with the House committee investigating the January 6th attack at the capitol.

And the committee has reached out to others hoping they will talk as well without a subpoena. But many are refusing.

And former President Trump tried to prevent another batch of documents tied to January 6th from being turned over to congressional investigators.

And for the second time now, President Biden rejected the request waving executive privilege.

Trump has already sued to keep the first set of documents secret, but those could be handed over to the House panel as soon as November 12th.

Let's bring in CNN's senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig.

Elie, lawsuits don't get much bigger than this.

Assuming that Trump adds this second batch to his suit, what happens next? Will this just languish in the courts?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Let's hope not, Ana. Let's hope the courts have learned their lessons from prior cases, which have languished months and years.

Right now, we're at the lowest of the three levels of federal court. They are in the district court, which is the trial-level court.

There's oral arguments scheduled for next week. And then the district judge should be able to issue a ruling really within weeks if he recognizes the imperative of this.

Whoever loses at that stage will go up to the court of appeals, which is the mid-level appellate court. You have the right to do that. That will probably take at least a couple of months.

And then, whoever loses there, will try to get the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Of course, nobody has a right to do that. It's up to the Supreme Court what case they hear.

But really, what's the most important thing is that judges recognize that time is of the essence, that they cannot delay. There's no reason that this needs to take six months or more.

CABRERA: We don't know the specific request regarding the contents of these records. Soo broadly, what might be of interest in these documents?

HONIG: Yes, so we do have a couple of important clues as to what might in them.

First of all, these National Archives documents, meaning they are internal White House communications or communications between people in the White House and people outside the White House.

So if we're trying to figure out what was happening inside the White House, what was Donald Trump doing and saying and thinking at those key moments before and during January 6th, these documents will show that.

The other thing we know about these documents is Donald Trump has singled them out. He's fighting for just a handful, really a few dozen out of thousands that have been requested.

So that would tell me, as a prosecutor, that there's something in there that Donald Trump is worried about coming out.

CABRERA: Is it safe to assume that the Biden White House legal team has seen the content of these documents? And if so, by moving to release them, does that suggest to you that there's incriminating stuff in there by that action, their actions?

HONIG: The Biden team certainly has seen these documents. Otherwise, they wouldn't know whether they wanted to exert executive privilege or not.

What we can tell is they have looked at these documents and decided that executive privilege is not appropriate here.

One of the situations where executive privilege is not appropriate is if something involves communications relating to wrongdoing or criminality.

CABRERA: I want to circle back on the news that CNN has learned that at least five former White House staffers are now talking to the January 6th committee voluntarily, despite Trump's efforts to have everybody stonewall. What's the significance to you? Could this give the committee some new


HONIG: Yes. I think it will.

There's really two categories of witnesses here moving forward, and even looking back at what the committee has done already.

There's those who really put their patriotic duty above duty to loyalty or to one individual person and have come forward with the truth of what they have.

That's really important because the committee is trying to get a full view on what happened here.

But then there are other witnesses who have put up a fight, like the Steve Bannons, potentially, like Meadows, Patel and Scavino.

And some of the people who are likely to put up a fight are likely the ones who will be in the best position to really know what Donald Trump was truly doing and saying.

That's the inner-circle witnesses and that's where we'll see the most intense legal battles playing out.

CABRERA: Real quickly, are you surprised the DOJ hasn't made any kind of decision on whether to prosecute Steve Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress yet?

HONIG: Not just yet. They formally got the case just Thursday, a few days ago, but they have known this was coming. I'll give them a little bit of leeway.

Merrick Garland has known this was coming. He needs to be prepared to move decisively and quickly. I'll give him a few more days. But I think we can start asking, where is this decision very soon.

CABRERA: Elie Honig, good to see you. Thank you so much.

HONIG: Thank, Ana.


CABRERA: Facebook is bracing for next waves ahead. More potentially damaging internal documents are expected to be made public today. They would only add to the mountain of documents that have the company in full damage control mode.

They show that Facebook knew it had problems with things like extremist content, human trafficking and teenage mental health but couldn't or wouldn't address these problems.

In the face of mounting calls for regulation, founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is defiant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER & CEO, FACEBOOK (voice-over): Good faith criticism helps us get better. But my view is that what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company.

The reality is that we have an open culture where we encourage discussion and research about our work so that we can make progress on many complex issues that are not specific to just us.


CABRERA: And, by the way, stay with CNN and as we go through the most recent trove of documents that were released. We'll bring you new information as we learn it.

Meanwhile, a stunning admission from the police department surveilling Brian Laundrie just days before he went missing. They confused Laundrie with his own mother. How they say it happened, next.



CABRERA: Police in Florida now admit to a serious mistake during their surveillance of Brian Laundrie. They mistook Brian's mother, Roberta, for him.

Now it happened in the days after Laundrie's fiancee, Gabby Petito, was reported missing but before her body was found in a national forest in Wyoming.

Laundrie's remains were found just last week in a nature reserve near his family's Florida home.

CNN correspondent, Nick Valencia, joins us from North Port, Florida, with details.

Nick, how did this mix-up happen?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, at a time when the whole world was watching the North Port Police Department, when they needed to be perfect, they, simply put, dropped the ball in their surveillance of him.

This took place, according to police, in the middle of September when Laundrie had yet to be named a person of interest. But they found his actions suspicious enough that they wanted to keep track of him.

Late one night, they say his mother returned in Brian Laundrie's Mustang and she was wearing a baseball cap. And according to police, they believe they had a similar type of build, which is why they say this mix-up happened.

Just listen to Josh Taylor, the press information officer with North Port police, saying he wishes they could have been perfect.


JOSH TAYLOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, NORTH PORT POLICE DEPARTMENT: I believe it was -- it was his mom who was wearing a baseball cap. They had returned from the park with that Mustang.

So who does, that right? Like, if you think your son is missing since Tuesday, you're going to bring his car back to the home?

So it didn't make sense that anyone would do that if he wasn't there. So the individual getting out with a baseball cap we thought was Brian.


VALENCIA: Police did not say whether or not they believed this act by the mother to be deliberate.

Of course, there's been a lot of questions surrounding this case. There's been a lot of suspicions surrounding this case.

And we're still awaiting the official cause of death. Brian Laundrie's partial remains recovered from the reserve where he was last seen last week -- Ana?

CABRERA: Nick, does this revelation shed any new light on the timeline of Brian Laundrie's disappearance?

VALENCIA: It certainly does. This happened during a moment in the time in the investigation where police say they were taking Laundrie's parent claims or information as face value.

In fact, the police gave a press conference to the media during this time when Laundrie was already on the run, saying they knew exactly where he was. When, in fact, they didn't because of the mix-up that happened during surveillance.

It brings about a lot more questions about the parents. And certainly, there's many people out there in the public wondering if any charges are going to be brought against Laundrie's parents for perhaps helping him go on the run -- Ana?

CABRERA: Nick Valencia, in North Port, Florida, thank you.


Texas is now just as diverse as it is white. But Republicans there just redrew the state's political maps, and they ignore the state's changing demographics. We'll break it all down, next.



CABRERA: We're back with a Republican power grab in Texas as the GOP hopes to consolidate control with a new congressional map. The once-a-decade redistricting process is now complete, and opponents

say the gerrymandered map shows why Congress needs to pass new voting rights legislation.

Let's go to CNN's Tom Foreman at the Magic Wall to break it all down.

Tom, explain why Democrats are sounding the alarm in Texas.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Because they see this as a fundamental undercutting of democracy.

Take a look at what's happened here in Texas under the Republicans' control right now.

Over the past 10 years, 95 percent of Texas' population growth has been among people of color, who are more inclined, as a group, to vote democratic, 95 percent.

Let's look at more specific numbers here. Right now, the white population of Texas is about 40 percent, the Hispanic or Latino population, about 39 percent. So they're virtually even.

Yet, look at what this new redistricting does. Under this formula, the white majority districts, 23. Hispanic majority districts, 7.


So there's a massive advantage being given to the white majority districts, which will tend to vote more Republican compared to all the other districts.

The Hispanic majority -- the Hispanics in the state, the people of color in the state, are the reason they got more congressional seats.

But the reward for this is their influence politically is being diminished in the state by the Republicans who can benefit from those extra seats -- Ana?

CABRERA: And Democrats have tried to pass a couple of voting rights bills. If those had made it through the Senate, would they have stopped this from happening?

FOREMAN: They very well might have.

Let's take a look at the history of what's been happening in Texas.

For many years, the map changes there required the Department of Justice or a federal court to pre-clear those.

To basically say, OK, we think you're not trying to cut out groups of people of color and make them less powerful politically. You're not doing that. It had to be pre-cleared.

But then in 2013, the Supreme Court basically gutted the Voting Rights Act and said, it doesn't have to happen that way anymore.

And many people back then said this is what's going to happen. And now these are the results that you seem to get.

And so if you look forward, what do we have coming up next? You're going to have court fights over what has already been done.

The question is timing. Can those happen fast enough to affect the next election? Those who are raising them will want them to happen fast but that's not always the case.

And there will be a fight to pass new legislation, some idea of saying you shouldn't let this happen.

I will point out, Ana, there are states who have gotten around the gerrymander problem. There are states that have had both parties come together and say, we should have fair, democratic elections, both parties benefit from it.

But in Texas, where the Republicans are losing influence in the state that's always been red, they are not about to let that happen. At least that's the evidence of this latest gerrymander.

CABRERA: Makes you wonder why they wouldn't make more effort to court those voters, those Hispanic voters.

FOREMAN: You could argue that about both parties all the time. Why don't they just do a little bit more to answer to their voters and draw other people to their party. And so often, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Right now, in Texas, it's the Republicans taking that ball and running with it. And of course, Democrats are saying, hey, this is not democracy, to cut people out. Democracy means bringing them in.

CABRERA: Tom Foreman, thank you --

FOREMAN: You're welcome.

CABRERA: -- for making it right there in front of so black and white, for lack of a better term. Appreciate it.

Comedian Dave Chappelle says he is willing to sit down with members of the transgender community after backlash from his new Netflix special but he has one caveat.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: To the transgender community, I'm more than willing to give you an audience. But you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody's demands.




[13:57:30] CABRERA: In a new stand-up clip, comedian, Dave Chappelle, now weighs in on the firestorm over jokes in his latest Netflix special that talk about transgender people.

Chappelle now saying he is willing to meet with members of the trans community with some conditions.

CNN's Chloe Melas is here with details.

What's he say, Chloe?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Ana, it feels as though Dave Chappelle is stoking the fire here a bit more.

So he posted this clip to his Instagram page, which we're going to show you in a moment, that took place at a stand-up comedy show he did over the weekend in Kentucky, where he says, sure, I'll meet with members of the transgender community and the LGBTQ community, but under certain conditions.

Take a listen.


CHAPPELLE: To the transgender community, I'm more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody's demands.


CHAPPELLE: And if you want to meet with me, I'd be more than willing to, but I have some conditions.

First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end.


CHAPPELLE: You must come to a place of my choosing and a time of my choosing.


MELAS: On social media, some members of the transgender community have posted that they feel like Dave is continuing to mock them -- Ana?

CABRERA: So, it sounds like this controversy isn't going to go away any time soon.

MELAS: Well, he's also said -- he said during that special that his new documentary, called "Untitled," dealing with how he dealt with George Floyd's death and him going around the country, that it's being pulled from film festivals.

That film distributors don't want to distribute the film. He says that now it's only going to be released in 10 cities. So he talked about how he himself is experiencing fallout from this.

And then you have people like Jon Stewart and others in the comedy world coming to his defense.

But I don't really think that he necessarily handled this the right way, kind of saying it in a mocking tone. And it's really only just kind of throwing fuel on to the fire.

CABRERA: It didn't sound like there was an apology in those remarks.

MELAS: Right.

CABRERA: At least the clip that we played.

Thank you, Chloe Melas.

MELAS: Thanks.


CABRERA: That does it for us today. I appreciate you all for spending time with me. I'll see you back here tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. In the meantime, you can join me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

Have a great afternoon.

The news continues next.