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Stormy Daniels, Trump Lawyer Communications Given to Manhattan D.A.; Dominion vs. Fox News Enters Day Two of Court Hearing; Colorado Dentist Accused of Killing Wife with Arsenic-Laced Protein Shakes. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 22, 2023 - 10:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. I'm John Berman.


This morning, indictment watch drags on, frankly, as the president -- the former president is now facing, we're learning, potentially even more legal peril. So, at any moment now, there could be a possible indictment involving hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. That, of course, is the case that we're watching in Manhattan because the grand jury will reconvene today.

We're told that Trump is preparing himself for that to happen today, but not clear whether he's prepared for this. Sources now say a federal judge overseeing the classified documents probe, this is a different case, the documents found at Mar-a-Lago, has seen compelling evidence now that Donald Trump used his attorney to help further a crime. So, the big question, could that attorney now have to testify.

BERMAN: Plus, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell just hours away now from a decision that is considered to be maybe the most significant of his career. Will he decide to raise interest rates again to fight inflation? And if he does, can he avoid the dreaded B word and the R word both at the same time? What are those words?

HILL: Those words are bailout and recession.

BERMAN: Thank you. My imagination there was that it was running amok. We will discuss.

And a Colorado dentist has now been charged with killing his wife, the mother of his six children, by poisoning her protein shake. We have new developments in that case as well.

But we do begin this morning with CNN exclusive reporting. We are learning that emails between Stormy Daniels and one of Trump's attorneys and his firm had been turned over to the Manhattan district attorney. These emails from 2018 when Daniels was looking for an attorney and reached out to Joe Tacopina, if that night name sounds familiar, it's because he's been on T.V., he now represents Donald Trump.

HILL: So, Daniels' current attorney tells us that his client shared confidential information about the case with Tacopina and that Tacopina's role now on the Trump legal team poses a conflict of interest.

Kristen Homes broke this story for us and she's live this morning in West Palm Beach, Florida, near Mar-a-Lago. So, Kristen, what more do we know about these communications and also the timing here?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to Stormy Daniels' attorney, again, this is back in 2018, that she provided this confidential information when she was seeking an attorney. She went back and forth in a number of emails with Tacopina and with his firm essentially answering questions, giving a level of detail that he thought should go under review.

So, he turned over these communications to the prosecutors, and now it is in the judge's hand to decide if this is going to amount to any sort of conflict of interest. And if it does, does it require some kind of disqualification for talk or does it require some kind of limitation. Because you have to keep in mind this. Could that information be used in this case and specifically, could it be used potentially against Daniels, if this goes to trial, and there's a cross-examination, could the information that she gave Tacopina and his firm be used against her in some capacity.

Now, I will note that Tacopina denies that there is any conflict of interest. He says he never spoke to her, met Stormy Daniels, but I do want to point to one thing. This is on our own air back in 2018. This is an interview with Don Lemon, where Tacopina mentions Stormy Daniels. This is what he said.


JOE TACOPINA, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: And I can't really talk about my impressions or any conversation we had because there is an attorney-client privilege that are attached even to a consultation.


HOLMES: Even to a consultation, so obviously raising some questions here. And, again, it will be up to a judge to decide if this does amount to a conflict of interest.

HILL: All right. We'll be watching for more on that. Kristen, I appreciate it. Thank you.

So, now when it comes to this case of the classified documents, which were found at Mar-a-Lago, sources now telling CNN a federal judge has seen compelling evidence that Donald Trump may have used his attorney to help further a crime.

BERMAN: The judge also ruled the prosecutors had shown Trump shouldn't be able to use attorney-client privilege to shield his discussions with his lawyers. With us now is CNN Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz. Katelyn, just give us the actual news in this here, what we learned about what Judge Beryl Howell said here.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, what we're learning is that Judge Howell is agreeing with the Justice Department and the Justice Department has the goods or appears to have the goods that could force Donald Trump's lawyer, Evan Corcoran, to testify against him in the grand jury proceedings in the classified document investigation and that he could be saying something that could show that Donald Trump himself was trying to break the law, commit a crime potentially.


That's a really big deal. There's a lot of signs in this ongoing proceeding. We're watching now in the circuit court of appeals in D.C. There's a lot of things that suggests that this really is the type of testimony that could make or break a case, the linchpin testimony. And we are waiting to hear whether a federal appeals court is going to force Evan Corcoran to come back into the grand jury proceeding and give answers.

The reason that we keep reporting on this is because we keep learning little tiny things that happened in this proceeding that was so crucial before the district judge last week, and this new information really puts together this full timeline that Evan Corcoran had drafted a statement to the Justice Department, saying that they had searched for classified documents, turned everything over, the FBI then came in tomorrow, Mar-a-Lago found more than 100 classified records. And so he has been trying to hold off having to say to the grand jury exactly what he and Donald Trump talked about.

And so the court cited against Trump and with the Justice Department, saying he did need to go answer the questions, say exactly what Donald Trump said to him, what advice he gave back to Donald Trump. Right now, the circuit court of appeals has put an unheard of deadline on this, and we are waiting for them to do something. The Justice Department did file a response at 6:00 A.M. this morning, just hours after Trump had gone to the appeals court.

HILL: And do we know how quickly we could hear from here from the appeals court?

POLANTZ: Any minute now. It's fully briefed, as they say.

HILL: Right. We were just waiting at this point. Katelyn, I really appreciate it and I appreciate the very understandable explainer.

BERMAN: Look, there's a whole lot of any minute nows going on today in the legal world surrounding Donald Trump, which is why it's great that Elie Honig, CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor, he is here with us led.

Elie, I just want to start with this little bit of Katelyn Polantz was just reported here, why it's so significant? I think you told me last week that in your entire legal career, attorney-client privilege was only pierced once.


BERMAN: Okay, one time in 14 years. That's the biggest. So, that's how unusual this is. And this new information that we received last night with Judge Howell, we knew that she had to have seen something in order to pierce that privilege, but now we know a little bit more than significant.

HONIG: Yes. What's really important about this is it answers the question, who is the liar here, or at least who does the Justice Department think is the liar here, and the answer, now we know, is Donald Trump. And we know that the judge agreed.

So, this goes back to when Donald Trump's team sent an affidavit and affirmation to the Justice Department during the whole Mar-a-Lago incident saying basically, we have given you all the classified documents and we've looked everywhere, that's everything. That was a lie. There were way more classified documents.

And so the question is who in this chain of client, Donald Trump, and then attorneys, including Evan Corcoran, who was the liar? DOJ went to this federal judge and said, we think Trump is the liar and they proved it by what's called a prima facie case, which is Latin for, on its face. Not the same as beyond a reasonable doubt, big important difference there, John, but now we know that the judge has said, yes, I find by a prima facie case that the one who lied here is Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Yes. Oh, I just -- I keep it looking at Erica here. I guess it's just me talking to you.

HILL: This was you (INAUDIBLE), so I was sitting it out.

HONIG: Any combination, I'm good. Let's go.

BERMAN: Erica is just standing by here. All right, so that is the documents case.


BERMAN: Meanwhile, you are here on a very short leash because this indictment could be handed up today, it could be having to do with connections to the hush money payments. Explain to me the process here. We think the grand jury meets on Wednesdays. What could be happening behind the scenes right now? If this were to happen today, what's happening?

HONIG: So, in any grand jury presentation, you come to a point where you've shown them all your evidence as a prosecutor. Then you have to make a decision as a prosecutor, do I now ask them for an indictment. The vast majority of the time, the answer is yes, but Alvin Bragg will have to make that decision.

If he wants to seek an indictment, then you go into the grand jury room, you give them a draft indictment, you walk the grand jurors through it. You say, okay, proposed count one is this crime, here are the legal elements of this crime. Proposed count two on down the line. Sometimes you give a summary, okay, just as a reminder, folks you've heard from Michael Cohen, you've heard from et cetera on down the line, here's what they told you, and then you leave the room and they vote. And if they vote by a majority, again, lower standard here than beyond a reasonable doubt, then you have an indictment.

At that point, it is a sealed in diamond. We won't necessarily see it. We will not see it at that point. It's under seal. It's protected. It's not public. It goes over to the court, and then you arrange for the arraignment, the first appearance. Usually that's when the indictment is unsealed.


But Trump's team might know they've been indicted. They might even get a copy of that indictment from the prosecutor. It's really up to prosecutor. So, we're going to have to be in a react mode here.

BERMAN: And, look, we should still say it may not happen at all. But if it were to be happening today, the process of the prosecutor going in speaking to the grand jury getting a vote, how long would that take?

HONIG: It could take an hour. It can take a half hour. It can be very, very quick. You just run through the indictment. If there's only two or three counts, that takes five minutes. They vote. They may deliberate, but you're not talking about a trial jury deliberation, which can take days or weeks.

BERMAN: Which is why we say this could really happen any minute, which is why we're sort of waiting on pins and needles here.

Very quickly, the CNN exclusive reporting on Joe Tacopina, who a lot of people know from television, is a serious attorney who has had a lot of clients over the years. How problematic is this possible conflict of interest?

HONIG: So, this actually happens not infrequently, where attorneys representing a client, here, Donald Trump, and it turns out he's also represented a witness in the past, right? The first question is, was there an attorney-client relationship formed between Joe Tacopina and Stormy Daniels? I think the answer is yes. We just heard Joe Tacopina saying, yes. You don't have to have a formal contract, I hereby represent you in order to form that relationship.

So the second question is, is it a conflict that we can deal with? And what the court will probably do is say to Donald Trump, Mr. Trump, if he's the defendant, let's assume, your lawyer, Joe Tacopina, used to represent somebody who can now be a witness against you. Are you okay with that? Usually, the defendant will say, yes, he's my lawyer. I want him as my lawyer. I waive it. It's fine. And then what the judge will often do is say, okay, but, Tacopina, you are sealed off. You cannot cross-examine Stormy Daniels, who you had an attorney client relationship with, and you cannot use or disclose any information that she gave you. And then the courts really trust attorneys as officers of the court to make good on that.

BERMAN: Thank you very much for explaining that.

HONIG: It's attorney-client privilege day.

BERMAN: Elie Honig, thank you so much for explaining this also well, and I do apologize that you didn't get to talk to Erica.

HILL: It's okay. It was supposed to be all J.B.

BERMAN: That you were stuck with just me.

HONIG: We're going to chat afterwards. We'll make up for it.

HILL: All right. Let's turn now to this critical decision as we look at the fight against inflation. So, hours from now, we will learn if the Fed chair has decided to hike interest rates again. And, of course, if that is a yes, the next question is by how much.

BERMAN: All right. CNN's Matt Egan joins us now. Obviously, matt, this affects people in so many ways, and it also will be the first and most fulsome time that we've heard from the Fed since all of this banking turmoil. What are you expecting?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS AND ECONOMY REPORTER: Well, John and Erica, you know, the Fed is walking a dangerous tightrope right. Now, raising interest rates in the middle of the banking crisis risk making the banking crisis worse. But doing nothing here means they could be letting inflation heat back up. I mean, this really is one of the most challenging decisions in Jerome Powell's career and it could really go a long way towards shaping his legacy.

Now, Goldman Sachs thinks that the Fed is going to do nothing here, keep interest rates steady, try to survey the damage in the banking industry, and that's what Sheila Bair thinks should happen to. But look at this. Over on Wall Street, investors are actually coalescing around the idea that the Fed is going to raise interest rates. At last check, about 85 percent chance that the Fed raises rates by a quarter of a basis point, just 15 percent chance right now of no rate hike.

And given those odds, there is a danger here that if the Fed doesn't act today, if it doesn't raise rates, they could end up kind of spooking Wall Street. A lot of investors would worry that the Fed looks scared and that the Fed maybe knows something that they don't. So, if the Fed raises rates today, that means that rates will be the highest level since 2007 on that chart. You can see that rates are going up rapidly. We haven't seen rates go up this fast and this short amount of time really since the early 1980 under Paul Volcker.

So, what does all this mean for everyday Americans? Well, higher borrowing costs. We've already seen mortgage rates go up to nearly the highest level in 20 years. The Fed moves today. They could go higher. Credit cards, it's never been more expense to have a balance on your credit card, auto loans, student loans, all of them getting more expensive. And Powell is also going to face questions today on this banking crisis, how much does he think that the stress in the banking industry is slowing the economy and also how did regulators, including the Fed, missed the red flags before these banks imploded. So, a lot of tough questions today for Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

BERMAN: Matt Egan, we know you will be watching and parsing every syllable that comes out of his mouth today. Thanks so much for being there for us.

EGAN: Thank you.

HILL: Still to come here, explosive arguments in the courtroom, lawyers for Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems facing off in that defamation lawsuit as they both are hoping for a summary judgment and to a trial.

BERMAN: Plus, Paltrow in court over a collision on the slopes. The 76-year-old man accuses her of seriously injuring him then just skiing away.


We have the details on that ahead.

HILL: And a Colorado dentist accused of spiking his wife's protein shakes with arsenic is expected to be charged with her murder. The questionable internet searches prosecutors say he made before her death, that's coming up.


BERMAN: Lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News are back in front of a Delaware judge this morning. Both sides are trying to convince that judge to rule in their favor now, skipping a jury trial in the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.

HILL: In the first day of the hearing, it was really only supposed to be one day, as far as we knew, the judges some pretty tough questions for Fox's attorneys and also challenged some of their possible legal defenses.

CNN Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy joining me now.


So, there is more to come today. This went on for awhile yesterday.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes. It wasn't supposed to, theoretically, go on and bleed into the second day, but it did, and now we're seeing them continue to make their arguments in court, continue to try to bring these legal filings that they've submitted over the past few weeks and months to life in the court in front of this judge who's going to decide one way or another.

Fox has asked to be declared the winner ahead of a trial. Dominion has also asked to be declared the winner. Either scenario is not super likely, but it's possible the judge could rule in some minor things. But what's been really interesting to watch, Erica, is how the judge has greeted some of Fox's arguments in court. And he's been quite skeptical at times. At one point, he called Fox's arguments intellectually dishonest. And another point, he asked Fox, he said, how can you be fair if you are knowingly providing false information?

And so it seems pretty clear that Fox, at least in this in this hearing, is not being greeted with the warmest arms.

HILL: Yes, not exactly. No, definitely not a warm hug, that's for sure. It is fascinating, and to your point, the fact that it's bleeding into a second day, so more to come more to watch for today. Oliver I appreciate it. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Still ahead, poisoned protein shakes. That is how prosecutors say a Colorado dentist killed his wife. We have details of this case, next.



HILL: A Colorado dentist accused of putting arsenic in his wife's protein shakes is expected to be formally charged tomorrow with murder.

BERMAN: James Craig is being held without bond. Prosecutors say he planned his wife Angela's death for weeks. According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by CNN, Craig searched online for, quote, undetectable poisons, quote, how to make poison and, quote, how many grams of pure arsenic will kill a human.

CNN's Whitney Wild is following the story. Whitney, what else is in this affidavit?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a really chilling timeline. And just to give you a sense of how rapidly this escalated, this chilling timeline begins March 4th. That's the day that police say James Craig had arsenic delivered to his home. Two days later, his wife, Angela Craig, went into the hospital. She had symptoms like dizziness. She had headaches. She had difficulty focusing her eyes. Those, according to police, are all symptoms of arsenic poisoning.

Then you fast forward to later in the month between basically March 9th and March 14th when police say James Craig ordered potassium cyanide, a highly lethal chemical, to his dental practice. Around that same time, Angela Craig was hospitalized for a second time.

A few days after she was let out of the hospital, she returned to the hospital again last week. That was the third time she was hospitalized. She was complaining of the same symptoms, you guys. She was complaining of dizziness, headaches. Her body felt sluggish. It was not responding. She had difficulty focusing her eyes. Police say, again, these were all symptoms of poisoning from substances like arsenic. And so the last time that she was admitted to the hospital, that was the third time, she rapidly declined. She went into the hospital. She was put on a ventilator. And soon after that, she was basically declared medically brain dead.

That was just last week. And in a matter of days, James Craig was arrested. He is now facing charges for first degree murder, and police were able to bring this case so quickly, they say, basically in this affidavit, because they found volumes of evidence. The search is on his computer. Again, some of these you mentioned, but we'll go through them again, things like undetectable poisons, how many grams of pure arsenic will kill a human, how to make poison, top five undetectable poisons that show no signs of foul play.

This overwhelming evidence convinced police to get James Craig off the street. He is now behind bars. He's on no bond. As you mentioned, he's going to be formally charged tomorrow. This is a really shocking case. It's rocked their community, and then further, it's the personal details that make this case just so gut-wrenching. James and Angela Craig were parents to six children.

And what is perhaps one of the most piercing details in this affidavit comes basically the very end, John and Erica. Police say that as Angela Craig lay dying in the hospital, James Craig flew another woman to Denver, a woman that he appeared to have an intimate relationship with and he, according to police, had apparently planned to start a new life with her.

We've reached out to James Craig's attorney, we have not yet heard back. Back to you.

BERMAN: Wow. I mean, what a case. Whitney Wild, thank you so much for those details.

This morning, parts of California still reeling from yet another atmospheric river system, and it's not over yet. Even more rain and snow are expected today before the storm system moves toward Arizona and the Rockies.

HILL: California's utility company, PG&E, says that the storm exceeded all expectations, heavily damaged electric infrastructure, and that means over 100,000 people are still in the dark this morning, 100,000 customers.

CNN's Stephanie Elam joining us now. So, Stephanie, these rainfall records broken yet again on Tuesday. You guys can't catch a break in California.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know what, Erica, let's be happy. I have like maybe a two-minute window here that it's not raining, so I don't have a hood on, so we're going to take it, right?


It's been raining a ton. Last night, it woke me up. It was so loud in Los Angeles.