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Now, Court Hears Case of Trump's Push to Keep Documents Secret; E.U. Representative Says, Second Day of Vienna Nuclear Talks to Focus on Iran Sanctions; Jury Selection Begins in Manslaughter Trial for Former Minnesota Officer. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 30, 2021 - 10:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN NEWSROOM: A major hearing underway right now in D.C. District Court. Lawyers for former President Trump are arguing that they need to keep key documents secret from the House select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Trump has tried to assert executive privilege over hundreds of pages of documents. Lawyers argue even out of office he has the power to shield his records from prying eyes.

CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez joins us now from outside the court. Evan, any tea leave reading from inside the court so far?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim and Erica. This is not going so well right now for the president's team. They are facing a very skeptical audience right now in this three-judge panel. Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of the judges who is hearing this, says this all boils down to who decides when it is in the best interest of the United States to disclose presidential records. Is it the current president of the United States or the former?

All three judges seem skeptical of the idea that the former president has the right to block records from being disclosed to Congress when the current president has already waived executive privilege, citing the extraordinary nature of what happened on January 6th, citing the idea that what happened on January 6th deserves for Congress to investigate and to figure out what happened to prevent it from happening again.

And, of course, we know that the former president lost already in this courthouse with another judge in the lower court who said presidents are not kings and the former president is no longer president.

So, we'll see how this argument wraps up. But right now, Trump's legal team is trying to rely on a Nixon-era Supreme Court ruling to try to say that even though he's no longer president, he still has the right essentially to overrule the current sitting president of the United States. Erica, Jim?

HILL: Evan, appreciate it, thank you.

Also with us, Defense Attorney former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu. Shan, always good to see you.

As we heard from Evan there, a skeptical audience is how he phrased it in talking about that three-judge panel. I know you said that the Trump team's argument is fairly weak in your view, even if this panel agrees, the reality is we are not likely done. This will keep moving forward and could end up before the Supreme Court. Is that inevitable, do you think, at this point?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that is inevitable. Whichever way it goes, it will have to go to the Supreme Court. And I think that, you know, the court -- the Supreme Court is probably going to fast track it as much as they can. I mean, the D.C. Circuit has been moving quickly, but the issues here certainly Trump's team wants to drag it out so they'll certainly go to the Supreme Court. The issues probably deserve them to take a look at it.

HILL: Deserve the Supreme Court take a look at it. What do you anticipate that outcome could be, because we know how important, how lasting the implication of that decision will be?

WU: I think that the Supreme Court, if I'm reading my tea leaves right, is probably going to rule against the Trump team here for the reasons that the district court laid out very well in that very well analyzed opinion. And I think for the same reasons the D.C. Circuit is going to will rule against him, which is he's put all his eggs just in the one basket, which is this notion as a former president, he can still control the privilege, which is simply wrong.

Not only that, they've also kind of engaged in some hyperbole by saying if you allow this waiver of executive privilege to be assigned, it's going to tear apart the whole fabric of the separation of powers. And that's really wrong. This is an extraordinary incident. Congress certainly has to look at it. But it's the very fact that it's extraordinary that makes it less likely to have substantial use going forward. It's just not going to arise all that often.

And I think the Supreme Court is going to be aware of that. They're really going to focus on the question of who should be deciding, a current president or a former president? The answer is certainly the current president.

HILL: In terms of that separation, in terms of the balance of power, how important is that for this court?

WU: I think it's always very important for the districts court as well as the court of appeals. I think that's probably why the Supreme Court would take the case. I mean, there's this argument that the balance of powers will be torn apart. But I don't think they're going to see it that way. I mean, actually, the process itself shows that it's working its way properly through the system.

[10:35:02] There's basically a disagreement within the executive branch right now of where the current executive, the president, says this should go forward. Congress wants it, a former executive says no. It's exactly the kind of thing courts should determine.

HILL: I can't help but notice you said that's why you think the Supreme Court would take it up. I mean, is there any scenario that you envision where the Supreme Court does not?

WU: I think that's unlikely. I mean, they don't have -- they're not required to take up cases. It's discretionary on their part. So, it's theoretically possible. That would be quite a slap in the face to the Trump team.

HILL: It would be quite a statement.

WU: It would be quite a statement, and it is possible. I think it depends on how well-reasoned and how articulated the reasons are put forth by the D.C. Circuit if they rule against him. But the Supreme Court has discretionary jurisdiction. They don't have to take it.

HILL: Well, we will watching. Shan, always good to see you. Thank you.

WU: Good to see you. Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, the second day of the Iran nuclear talks under way in Vienna, Austria. The discussion today will center on sanctions, a key issue. Why the White House says they have, quote, other options if diplomacy fails.



SCIUTTO: As nuclear talks resume in Vienna, Austria, today, Iran is now expressing a willingness and seriousness to reach a deal but not unless U.S. sanctions are lifted. Negotiations began Monday with the U.S. warning Iran against further uranium enrichment, a step towards making a bomb. Israel forcibly lobbying against any sanctions relief. The European Union's Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora told reporters something has to change both for the sake of nuclear security and the people of Iran.

Joining us now, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Ambassador Richard Haass, he's also the author of the book, The World, A Brief Introduction.

All right, so they tried these talks earlier in the year. They fell apart. Iran is now run by a harder line government than even the previous one, which is pretty hard line as they come. You say talks are unlikely to succeed. Why is the administration making a go at this now?

AMB. RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, the reason the administration wants to make a go at this is if you take step back, think about their foreign policy, one of the things they've tried to do is dial down on foreign policy, in general, and particularly on the Middle East. They want to focus on domestic issues, they might want to focus on China. The last thing they want is for the United States again to become embroiled in the Middle East. So, the best thing from the administration's point of view is to make this issue go away for five or ten years, and in their view, the best way to do that is to get both countries to reenter the 2015 agreement.

SCIUTTO: So, Iran is closer today, perhaps just a number of weeks away, from the breakout moment, having enough fissile materials to make a bomb than they were under the Iran nuclear deal. What are the other options if diplomacy fails here then?

HAASS: First of all, I'd say even if diplomacy succeeds, it doesn't solve the problem of Iran. There're questions about secret nuclear activity that might continue, important parts of the agreement expire in a number of years, plus the agreement never limited Iranian behavior around the region, support of terrorism, Hezbollah, things like that. I think you have to say that.

If, however, it fails, the alternatives, it seems to me, is probably living without any formal arms control but a set of red lines. I know the expression has come under more than a little criticism, but Iran would understand the limits to American or Israeli tolerance to certain behavior and would be hopefully incentivized to do certain things or not do others.

SCIUTTO: Israel, and this is consistent under the Biden administration, through Trump, and now again, lobbying against negotiation here, any lifting of sanctions. Is there a possibility here -- and, by the way, Israel already doing a whole host of assassinations and cyberattacks -- of Israel taking action unilaterally against Iranian facilities if it deems the U.S. is going too far in the direction of diplomacy?

HAASS: Absolutely. We have some historical precedence for that in the past, Israeli actions against Iraq and Syria. This is seen as a mortal threat in Israel across its political spectrum. So, yes, if they sense the administration was too committed to arms control or not ready to use force, and they thought Iran was crossing one of their red lines, absolutely. They would be prepared to use military force and figure that the U.S./Israeli relationship would, one way or another, get through it.

SCIUTTO: It's quite a bet. Okay. Another topic, Ukraine, the public warnings from NATO leaders, from the U.S. and others about Russian military activity, and, frankly, other sorts of activity, allegation of a plot targeting the Ukrainian president over the weekend, are growing louder. What is your read of that situation there? Do you see any sign of Russia heeding those warnings, dialing back a little bit, or would you say the threat of a genuine full-scale invasion is still very real today?

Unfortunately, I think the threat of it is what you describe as a genuine full-scale invasion, almost World War II-like against Ukraine is very much alive. [10:45:00]

It's totally consistent with what Mr. Putin has said and written. It's consistent with their military buildup. And, look, what didn't happen at the time of Crimea, what hasn't happened. So, my own view is he thinks, yes, you have to pay some economic sanctions, but he is not expecting, I would think, a NATO or more broadly anything but a Ukrainian military response.

SCIUTTO: One nightmare scenario that's been mentioned to me by a number of people briefed on the intelligence is a possibility of two things happening at once, and that is that Russia acts on Ukraine and China perhaps acts on Taiwan, no hard intelligence on this but just viewed as what would we do if. What do you view the current threat to Taiwan from China, which has been rattling the saber about taking over or reclaiming, as it says, Taiwan for a number of years now, but the U.S. Pentagon views as a very imminent threat?

HAASS: I wouldn't call it imminent, because imminence is a function of capability and intentions. I think the Chinese have created much more of a threat, much more of a capability. They're building up what would be an enormous roll of the dice given the economic sanctions they would face, some of the military uncertainties, all that. So, I can't rule out a nightmare scenario sitting here, a two-front crisis or three-front one if something were to happen with Iran, if they made a dash for nuclear weapons.

But my own view is the Chinese are still some years away, most likely, from being in a position where they're confident they can move against Taiwan in a convincing fashion. The challenge for us is over these few years to strengthen deterrence so Xi Jinping is dissuaded from ever making such a move.

SCIUTTO: And it's becoming more public a lot of that support, including visits from lawmakers, which in the past would have been quite something. Now, it's happening almost with regularity.

Ambassador Richard Haass, always good to have you break it down for us.

HAASS: Thank you, Jim.

HILL: Exactly 55 years after gaining independence from the U.K., the Caribbean Island of Barbados has now severed its last tie -- look at that rainbow -- to the British monarchy by removing Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and declaring itself a republic.

On Monday night, the country's governor, General Sandra Mason, was sworn as the first ever president of the island nation.

Barbados Native Rihanna also honored during the ceremony as a national hero.


PRESIDENT SANDRA MASON, BARBADIAN PRESIDENT: On behalf of a grateful nation but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you the designee for national hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robin Rihanna Fenti. May you continue to shine like a diamond.


HILL: Barbados does plans to remain part of the British commonwealth but will now decide on a new constitution.

Still to come, jury selection begins in the case against Kim Potter, the former Minnesota Police officer accused of fatally shooting 20- year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop turned arrest.



SCIUTTO: Jury selection is under way in the trial of former Minnesota Police Officer Kim Potter.

HILL: Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Force is facing two counts of manslaughter after fatally shooting 20-year- old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop back in April. She says she mistook her taser -- her gun for a taser.

Let's go straight to CNN's Adrienne Broaddus for more. So, Adrienne, what is the latest this morning?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, jury selection is under way. It began with Judge Chu asking the potential jurors a set of preliminary questions. They were not to respond verbally but by show of hands. And at this hour, panelists or panel member number two is on the stand answering questions by Kim Potter's defense attorney, Earl Gray.

Now, those of you who may be unfamiliar with this case, it dates back to April. That's when all eyes were on the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. During the middle of that trial, about 11 miles away from a suburb of Minneapolis, in Brooklyn Center, Kim Potter attempted to pull over Daunte Wright for a traffic violation. He had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota.

Prior as he was -- as they were attempting to take him into custody, Wright entered his vehicle and Potter yelled on that body cam video, taser, taser, taser. And she mistakenly -- she says she mistakenly pulled her taser -- her gun instead of her taser.

Yesterday, members of Daunte Wright's family and supporters spoke out. Listen in.


COURTNEY ROSS, GIRLFRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD AND DAUNTE WRIGHT'S FORMER TEACHER: Daunte Wright was a student of mine at Edison High School. He was a joy, and his smile would light up this room a thousand times.


BROADDUS: And that was Courtney Ross speaking. She's a former educator of Daunte Wright as well as the former girlfriend of George Floyd.

And, Erica and Jim, it's really crucial, a lot of folks are saying this video is going to play a critical role.


And we've seen how video in cases have played a role before. Even in the case of Derek Chauvin, we saw the cell phone video, but once trial started, all angles from body cam video was essential. Back to you.

HILL: That's for sure. Adrienne Broaddus, I appreciate the update. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thanks so much to all of you for joining us today on a busy news day. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HILL: And I'm Erica hill. Stay tuned. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts after this break.