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January 6 Committee Tries To Stick The Landing Tomorrow; Anna Sorokin: "I Definitely Did" Take Advantage Of People; Philly Man Sentenced Up To 60 Years In Prison For Attempted Murder Despite Thin Evidence, Dubious Eyewitness Account. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired October 12, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And her dad, now, has dementia. She talks a lot about anticipatory grief as well.
You can point your cell phone, at the QR code, in your TV screen, right now, for a link, or you can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, or any place you listen to podcasts.
The news continues. Want to hand it over to Jake Tapper, and CNN TONIGHT.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to CNN TONIGHT. I am Jake Tapper.
And tonight, we're less than a month, 27 days, away from one of the weirdest and least predictable midterm elections, in modern memory. What's happening now, and ending, on Election Day, November 8th, is not typical. It's not, as of now, it's not shaping up to be a wave for one party or another. Now, it's more like a Sharknado.
Now, typically, Republicans would and should be feeling pretty good, about their chances, to retake both the House, and the Senate, by significant margins. Feeling good, because things are bad. With high inflation, and fears of a recession, voters are inclined, to hold the party in power, right now that's Democrats, responsible and accountable.
Because, prices are up, almost everywhere you look. Life is more expensive. By which, of course, I mean, Life Cereal, wheat and processed wheat products, up more than 20 percent year-to-year. And, as the late great rapper, Humpty Hump, might say, "Straight Butter Baby!" By which, of course, I mean that the cost of butter is up 30 percent, August-to-August.
And, of course, our friends, in Saudi Arabia, are making sure we all continue to feel more pain, at the pump. Thanks MBS! Fist-bump!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lost (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hitting me hard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm over it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very unhappy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prizes are crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: And, as President Biden, told me, on last night's show, it could all very well get worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't think there will be a recession. If it is, there'll be a very slight recession. That is, we'll move down slightly.
It is possible. I don't anticipate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: And all that turmoil is reflected, in a brand-new CNN poll, showing that you, America, don't think economic conditions, in the U.S., are good right now. You give President Biden bad marks, on the economy. And you think the government is not doing enough, to stop a possible recession.
So, for Democrats, on the ballot? This is what they say, in the biz. "This is serious headwinds," more like gale-force winds, actually. Put on those mittens, Bernie!
We should point out, there are some issues, where Democrats might have an edge. They're putting a big focus, right now, on abortion rights, since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, is no longer theoretical, and severe laws, opposed by the general public, are sweeping state legislatures.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Banning all abortions, even when a woman's life is at risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He supports outlawing all abortion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Paul Junge, called abortion, "Made up rights" for women, I was personally disgusted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women would have no choice because Ashley Hinson decided for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: And frankly, that might not be enough. Because polling shows, Republicans are favored, on some of the issues voters care most about, not just the economy, but also immigration and crime.
So, you can see why, in your average swing congressional district, or a battleground state, Republicans would be feeling pretty good, until - until - until they had to their Republican county potluck, and running to this guy, Ohio Republican House candidate, J.R. Majewski.
You probably most recently heard of him, as having falsely claimed, to have served in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press, though you may have first met him, when you saw that he turned his lawn, into a 19,000 square foot "Trump 2020" sign.
Or perhaps, you know him, from his career, as a rapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO - CAMPAIGN AD/J.R. MAJEWSKI)
J.R. MAJEWSKI, OHIO REPUBLICAN HOUSE CANDIDATE: This is our last chance. This is the hill we die on. This the line in the sand. We need to win on the battlefield, united we stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: That is no Humpty Hump!
But that performance is not nearly as disturbing as the fact that Majewski went on Fox, wearing a QAnon T-shirt, QAnon! The deranged conspiracy theory that a cabal of Democrats, and Hollywood producers, are part of a satanic cannibalistic cult of pedophiles. That QAnon shirt is one that should have the sleeves that tie in the back!
And that's what brings us to what Biden's pollster, John Anzalone, says is so far keeping the midterm election, from being a complete Republican rob, which theoretically it should be, given the economy and disapproval of the President.
Anzalone says, these midterms are a case of the head wins versus the head cases. Now, maybe you don't like that framing. It does come from a Democratic partisan. But Anzalone is also acknowledging massive disapproval, of his own party, particularly, on the economy.
And it's really essentially the same argument that we heard, from Senator Mitch McConnell, when he talked about candidate quality, possibly keeping him, from becoming Republican Majority Leader, again. Candidates, whose races are far more competitive, than they should be, given the givens. Herschel Walker, in Georgia, Blake Masters, in Arizona, Dr. Oz, in Pennsylvania. And then, of course, there are those candidates, with fringe ideologies.
Yes, the price of breakfast cereal is skyrocketing. But some of these candidates are cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs, and singing from the Donald Trump election grievance songbook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KRISTINA KARAMO, (R) MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE CANDIDATE: It is not right that hundreds of thousands of votes are allowed to be considered as lawful votes when we know they're illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: It's not right, is correct. It's not right. That's inaccurate.
Unhinged lies, born from Donald Trump's grievance that he lost, and his refusal to accept reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats.
TRUMP: You don't concede when there is theft involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: It was after that speech, of course, when masses of Trump supporters, then stormed the Capitol, leading to one of the darkest days, in modern U.S. history.
And some of the folks, who played a role, in that insurrection? They're on ballots, across the country, right now, such as Doug Mastriano, in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He comes from the farthest of the fringe-right. He even hired the anti-Semitic founder of the fringe social media company, Gab, as a consultant.
Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor, he can be seen in this photo, dressed as a Confederate soldier, and in this one, at the Capitol, on January 6.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG MASTRIANO, (R) PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Voting integrity? Wow! Oh my goodness!
(AUDIENCE CHEERS & APPLAUSE)
MASTRIANO: I've seen better elections in Afghanistan! Not hyperbole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: He's right. It's not hyperbole. It's just utter crap.
And, in Pennsylvania, the Governor, appoints the Secretary of State, to run elections. So, it's totally possible that an election liar, could appoint the person, who oversees elections, in one of the most crucial battleground states, in America. Lot of this going around, in battleground states. Arizonans, they elect Secretaries of State, to run their elections. This is Republican nominee, Mark Finchem, who threw his tinfoil hat, into the ring, for that position.
Finchem was also outside the Capitol, January 6th. And he's proudly running, on a platform, of refusing to count the ballots that go for candidates he doesn't like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK FINCHEM, (R) ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE CANDIDATE: But knowing what we know today, there are certain counties that should have been set aside, as irredeemably compromised. Maricopa County was one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: Maricopa County. Of course, you remember that exhaustive far-right partisan audit was conducted there.
That's where the Cyber Ninjas were literally holding up ballots, looking for bamboo fibers! Yes, bamboo, I said. This is part of this deranged conspiracy theory that Chinese ballots, with a bamboo, of course, had been shipped into Arizona.
Now look, I can see where maybe some of you are, at home, thinking, "These people aren't in office, right now. And they never will be." But A, oh, they absolutely could win, given the economic headwinds. And B, this anti-democracy insanity? It's already infiltrated the same halls of Capitol Hill, where the rioters once stood.
After she was released from prison, January 6 insurrectionist, Simone Gold, was greeted, by none other than Texas Republican congressman, Louie Gohmert, who gave her an American flag, one that had flown, over the very Capitol that she had attacked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): She is out. It's freedom day. And thank god that he sent us Simone Gold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: Ask the Capitol Hill cops, how much of a role they think God played, in sending Simone to the Capitol that day!
And here's where politics gets even more cynical, because Democrats describe these candidates, as an existential threat, to American democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Folks, you know, we talk about democracy, whether it's at risk. Well, democracy is at risk, in most places, when the only definition, of whether you win, you either have to win the election, or it's been stolen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: Sure, absolutely.
Except across the country, Democratic campaigns, and Democratic outside groups, have spent tens of millions of dollars, trying to help these election-liars, win their Republican primaries, at least $52 million, according to CNN's calculations. Because, they think these existential threats, to democracy, will be easier, for them, to beat, in November than normal Republicans would be.
Take Michigan freshman congressman, and actual combat veteran, Peter Meijer. Meijer was one of just 10 Republicans, who voted to impeach Donald Trump, after January 6. That's a tough vote for anyone, much less a freshman.
Meijer was running for reelection, this year. Democrats repaid the favor, by spending more than $400,000, to boost his fringe opponent, Trump-backed, John Gibbs. Previously obscure, a guy who had written that women should never have been given the right to vote and, of course, he's a sharer of Trump's big election lie.
And the result of that money from the Democrats? Gibbs won his Republican primary, and Meijer is leaving politics.
The race, this November? It's still a toss-up. And it is possible that another election liar will end up, in Congress, to which Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger, says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): If Peter's opponent wins, and goes on to November, and wins? The Democrats own that. Congratulations!
Don't keep coming to me, asking where are all the good Republicans that defend democracy, and then take your donors' money, and spend half a million dollars, promoting one of the worst election-deniers that's out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: So, how do the Democrats explain this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The political decisions that are made out there are made in furtherance of our winning the election, because we think the contrast between Democrats, and Republicans, as they are now, is so drastic, that we have to, we have to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: "We have to win," Pelosi says, therefore, they are nominating fringe candidates, in the Republican Party.
I'm trying to think of other times that Democrats were convinced the candidate was so extreme, there was no way he could win the general election. Can anyone - anyone think of an example?
All of this leaves you, the voter, in sort of an impossible position. You should be able, to walk into that voting booth, and vote on issues that affect your life, like the economy, or crime, or education, or health care.
But now, in too many races, instead of asking yourself, "What can this candidate do for me, and my community, and my children, in the next two years?" You now also have to ask, "Hey, does this candidate believe in democracy?"
Tomorrow, the January 6 committee, will argue that Donald Trump does not believe in democracy, and that he is a clear and present danger to democracy.
The panel's about to have its last public hearings, before the midterm elections, one last chance to try to convince rational Americans, about the dangers, of the anti-democracy movement, one that pushes the former President's election lies and, sometimes, encourages violence.
Coming up, a key witness, from a previous hearing. Former Trump deputy White House press secretary, Sarah Matthews, in her first live interview.
J. TAPPER: So, the January 6 House Select Committee, is trying to stick the landing. I'm told, tomorrow's hearing, will serve as the committee's, basically, closing argument, before the midterms, to voters.
One of the star witnesses, so far, has been Trump's former White House deputy press secretary, Sarah Matthews, who resigned, on January 6. She testified, publicly, before the committee, in July.
And she joins us now, in her first live TV interview ever.
Don't be scared!
So, you worked, in the White House, for Trump. I guess, the big question that, we're going to hear, tomorrow, is do you think Donald Trump poses a threat to democracy?
SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: I do think that he poses a threat to democracy. I think that January 6 showed that. And that was part of my reason for resigning. He failed to act that day.
He had every opportunity, to call off the mob, and condemn the violence. We've seen from taped testimony, from several of my colleagues that folks were pleading with him to do that. And he didn't ever pick up the phone, once. And I think that the January 6 committee has laid that out.
But furthermore than just January 6? He's continued to push the lie that the 2020 election, was stolen, from him, with zero evidence of that. And I think that that does pose a threat to our democracy.
J. TAPPER: Was there anything on that day, January 6, 2021, was there a specific straw that broke the camel's back? Or was it just the accumulation of everything?
MATTHEWS: I do think that it was a slow-burn for me, the accumulation of him pushing the election lie that it was stolen.
But probably, on January 6, when he tweeted out the video, after everything we had witnessed, him saying, "Oh, we love you. You're very special," to his supporters? That was really the moment, for me, when I knew that I was going to resign.
J. TAPPER: While you were testifying, a few months ago, the House Republican Conference, the official Twitter feed, for the House Republican Conference, they attacked you. They smeared you. And, at the time, you were working for House Republicans, I think, on the Environment and Public Works Committee, or something like that.
I know you didn't know about it, in real-time. And probably, by the time you found out about it, they had deleted it. But that must have felt horrible!
MATTHEWS: Yes, I thought it was definitely an embarrassing look for them. I was a current House staffer, at the time. And for them to tweet that out? They can't claim ignorance. I know the people, on Elise Stefanik's team, personally.
J. TAPPER: That's the number three Republican, in the House--
MATTHEWS: Who can--
J. TAPPER: --who's in charge of the Conference, yes.
MATTHEWS: Exactly. And so, they know that I was a current House staffer.
And I think what was most astonishing to me, about them tweeting that out, was they tweeted it, calling me a liar, before I ever even opened my mouth. So, they didn't even hear, what I had to say, in my testimony.
And I don't think what I said in my testimony was proof that I was lying. There was nothing to be lying about, because everything I said, has been corroborated, in the taped testimony that we've seen, from my colleagues. That, President Trump, had people around him, begging him, to condemn the violence, to call off the mob, and he did not act. J. TAPPER: Yes, no, it was a bad look for them. That's a nice way to put it. I mean, it was - there - too many people in the party have become trolls.
Based on your experience, with Kayleigh McEnany, who was the press secretary, while you were her deputy, other people, like Stephen Miller, other people, who worked in the White House, do you think they actually believe these lies, about the election being stolen, despite there being no evidence of widespread fraud? Or do you think they're just play-acting, because it keeps them in Donald Trump's good graces?
MATTHEWS: I can't speak for specific people. But I will say that I think it's a little bit of both.
I think there are some folks, who know better, and are smart enough, to see through this. They know that there's no proof of the election being stolen, but they wish to stay in the good graces of Trump-world, and they prioritize their ambition and careers for that.
But then, I do think there are some people, who truly are detached from reality, and have convinced themselves enough that the election was stolen.
J. TAPPER: And just to remind people, you are a conservative Republican?
J. TAPPER: Is there still a place for you, in the Republican Party, do you think?
MATTHEWS: I still think there is a place. I'm hopeful that by speaking out, and saying that Donald Trump, is lying to the American people, about the 2020 election, that it will hopefully encourage more people, to come forward, and acknowledge this.
And I think that the more people that are willing, to stand up, and speak the truth, will save the Republican Party. But I am not encouraged by the direction that it's headed, right now.
J. TAPPER: We've seen a lot of brave young women, from the Trump White House, you, Cassidy Hutchinson, Alyssa Farah Griffin, coming forward. I wish that some of the middle-aged men, who had been, in positions of power, over you, had such courage!
Sarah Matthews, thanks so much. Good to see you.
J. TAPPER: Thanks for being here, tonight.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
J. TAPPER: From one of the most notorious liars, in the history of the presidency, to one of the most notorious liars, in American pop culture. Coming up next, the face that launched a thousand rip-offs, and one very popular Netflix series. My interview, with Anna Sorokin, a.k.a. Anna Delvey, now rocking the ankle monitor. That's next.
J. TAPPER: Tonight, she is back, out in the world. Well, kind of. Convicted con artist, and fraudster, Anna Sorokin, is now under house arrest, after being released, from prison, last week. You might know her story, from the hit Netflix show, "Inventing Anna," where she is portrayed as an epic scammer.
Sorokin served nearly four years, in prison. But, after being released, on parole, she was then arrested again, this time, by Immigration, for overstaying her visa. Sorokin is now awaiting her immigration hearing.
I sat down with her, earlier today, in her apartment, in Manhattan.
J. TAPPER: So, you're out of detention, for the first time, in a year and a half. You've been here, at this apartment, since Friday night. How's it feel to be semi-free?
ANNA SOROKIN, INSPIRATION FOR "INVENTING ANNA": Well, I'm so happy to be getting this opportunity. I feel like I'm getting a second chance, to fix my mistakes, yes. And I'm so happy, ICE agreed to release me, even if it's just house arrest.
J. TAPPER: House arrest, and you have this ankle monitor here.
SOROKIN: I do.
J. TAPPER: Is that annoying?
SOROKIN: No. I'm getting used to it. They tightened it up a little bit, so it's not dangling as they used to.
J. TAPPER: Are you allowed to leave the apartment at all?
J. TAPPER: Not at all?
SOROKIN: No. Well, I'm supposed to check in with my criminal parole, with my ICE officers. But otherwise, no.
J. TAPPER: And do you have any idea how long you're going to be in house arrest?
SOROKIN: No, not yet. We're, like figuring it out, now.
J. TAPPER: Figuring it out? SOROKIN: Yes.
J. TAPPER: And I'm trying to think how you pass the time. I know you do art, now. This is a - this is your work?
SOROKIN: So, this is a reproduction, of one of my sketches, "The Delvey Crimes."
J. TAPPER: And then you have this free time. I don't know if you've had any time to binge, any TV shows?
SOROKIN: Oh, no, not at all.
J. TAPPER: There's one, on Netflix, called "Inventing Anna." I'm not sure if you've seen it?
SOROKIN: No, not yet.
J. TAPPER: You haven't seen it?
SOROKIN: No. But I saw like about half an hour of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNA "DELVEY" SOROKIN, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY JULIA GARNER, "INVENTING ANNA": Maybe it would help if you stop thinking about me like everyone else. Like basic, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. TAPPER: Have you heard, like, do you think she got your accent? Because it became, her depiction of your accent, was so famous, for a while, there was even a skit on "Saturday Night Live," about it, and people would do the "You're so basic," there, people would do the accent.
Is that, I mean, is that something you enjoyed or thought was weird or what?
SOROKIN: I don't think I sound like it. But I think she got me from the time before. Because, I used to, like 10 years ago, I used to travel so much, when I was like in my mid-20s. But now, I just spent so much time, in the States, and I was like only been speaking English. So, I guess, my accent is not as strong as it used to be.
J. TAPPER: So, I wonder, you wanted to be famous and well-connected. You came to New York, with all sorts of plans. And you're now known as a notorious con artist, and grafter, and liar. And I'm wondering, do you have any regrets?
SOROKIN: Absolutely, yes. I feel so sorry for a lot of the choices I've made. I also feel like I've learned so much and, like, I grew, as a person.
J. TAPPER: Have you apologized to anyone?
SOROKIN: Yes, I did.
J. TAPPER: Who?
SOROKIN: Well, I said, I'm very sorry for all the decisions I've made.
J. TAPPER: Oh, in court, you mean, you said it? But have you reached out to anybody? Have you reached out to any of your friends, or hotels, or the restaurants, or anyone?
SOROKIN: Well, I didn't steal any money from friends. The only friend that was in lot of my current (ph) case, I got acquitted of that count.
J. TAPPER: Right.
SOROKIN: And everybody else is a financial institution.
J. TAPPER: But when you say, right now, and you just said that what you did, and you did it to financial institutions? It doesn't sound like you really regret what you did. You sound like you're almost kind of like casting it as, "Oh, it was a victimless crime."
It wasn't a victimless crime, right? I mean, you took advantage of people?
SOROKIN: I definitely did, yes. And I was younger, and I learned from my mistakes.
J. TAPPER: But did you?
SOROKIN: I did, yes.
J. TAPPER: Did you learn from those mistakes? I mean, are you not going to do anything like this ever again?
SOROKIN: Absolutely not.
J. TAPPER: So, you served 20 months, in pretrial detention, at Rikers. Then, you were convicted. You did another 20 months. Then you were released. And then, instead of going back to Europe, you did 18 months, here, in the United States, in Immigration custody.
SOROKIN: That's right.
J. TAPPER: But why not be free, in Europe, instead of, in detention, in the United States. Can you help me understand that?
SOROKIN: Because I'm trying to fix the mistakes, I've done, in the past. And I feel like if I were to leave, and say, "Oh, whatever, I'm just going to do - I'm just going to move on, and like move to Europe," I would be like accepting the labels that they're trying to slap on me. So, I think, like, me just staying in jail, and trying to prove people wrong, got to stand for something. I hope people will recognize it. J. TAPPER: But what do you mean prove people wrong? By staying, in the United States, and doing what? What do you - how are you going to prove anybody wrong?
SOROKIN: Well, I'm still on my criminal parole. I'm still with ICE. And I'm trying to comply with all the rules and restrictions they're placing on me, and just kind of change the narrative.
J. TAPPER: What's your case to immigration, for why you should get to stay, in the United States, after everything that happened? Why should the American people let you stay here, knowing, how effectively you conned, and fleeced, so many Americans, here, already?
SOROKIN: Well, I feel like I deserve a second chance. It was my mistake that I've made, and I've served my time. And I feel like I should deserve a second opportunity.
J. TAPPER: Do you think there's something about the United States, where we are fascinated by con artists, grifters, liars? Is there something that we like that we find interesting?
SOROKIN: I would say so, yes. So, I was thinking, if I were to be prosecuted, for similar crimes, in Germany? I don't think people would really care.
J. TAPPER: Is that right?
SOROKIN: Yes. So, I felt like, I never really wanted to be famous. And--
J. TAPPER: You didn't want to be famous?
J. TAPPER: You just wanted to be influential and well-connected?
SOROKIN: Yes, I just wanted to like work on my business. And I feel like part of it was the prosecution, the way they portrayed me, and just the media, they kind of created this idea of me, and I'm just being left to deal with it, right now.
J. TAPPER: You convinced people that you were an heiress that you had lots of money that you didn't have and?
SOROKIN: I actually never said that to anybody.
J. TAPPER: Oh?
SOROKIN: That was just an assumption they had.
J. TAPPER: Well see, you're saying all this stuff to me, it doesn't sound like - it doesn't sound like you're really actually all that repentant. It doesn't sound like you're actually really regret what you did, or even necessarily think you did anything wrong.
SOROKIN: I mean, I've definitely did like a lot of I don't - I made a lot of wrong choices.
J. TAPPER: Like what?
SOROKIN: Well, just misrepresenting, I guess, my financial - my financials, to financial institutions. But I'm trying to like not glamorize my crimes, and not lead anybody to believe that that's the way to get famous.
Because, I suffered a lot, as a result, like as a consequences of my actions still, even though like I don't always show it, I'm not like going to go on TV, and cry. But like, I've done a lot of time in jail. And it's been very hard, a lot of times.
J. TAPPER: So, what's the plan now, for how you're going to support yourself?
SOROKIN: I am working on my podcast, and on doing more of my art.
I'm still very happy, I've been afforded a second chance to, like just stay here, and to fix my mistakes. And hopefully, I will be known, for some of my legit projects, and not just what I've been trying to do, when I was in my early-to-mid-20s.
J. TAPPER: OK. The best is yet to come, is what you're saying?
J. TAPPER: OK.
J. TAPPER: And you can see even more of our interview, with Anna, on Twitter, and on CNN.com, including her thoughts, on the U.S. criminal justice system, and how she says she wants to work to change it.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees that we can all get a lawyer, to defend us, if we're charged with a crime. It does not guarantee that you will get a good lawyer! Coming up, an example so disturbing that I just couldn't be silent about it. With a defense lawyer like this, who needs prosecutors?
J. TAPPER: How bad can a lawyer be, and still be considered, adequate counsel, in the United States?
That's a question that has plagued me, for the past two years, while researching a story, I first learned about, through my dad. It's the question that's at the center of a story, I wrote, a cover story, for "The Atlantic," out today that examines the case of C.J. Rice.
In 2013, C.J. Rice, was a Philadelphia teen. He was sentenced to up to 60 years in prison, for four counts of attempted murder. Now, Rice not only has insisted on his innocence. But my dad, who was his pediatrician, at the time, has said that Rice would have been physically incapable, of committing the crime in question.
Now, you would think that that would have played a key part, a key role, in his defense. But it's just one of the many ways, his lawyer, failed C.J. Rice. And the injustice? It's far worse than I ever could have imagined.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): This is my dad, Dr. Theodore Tapper, who spent decades, as a pediatrician, in South Philadelphia.
For years, my dad's been telling me, about a former patient, C.J. Rice, currently doing 30 years to 60 years in prison, for a crime, my father insists, Rice could physically not have committed.
DR. THEODORE TAPPER, C.J. RICE'S FORMER PHYSICIAN: That was impossible.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): No DNA, no guns found, no crime scene evidence, ties Rice to the September 2011, nighttime shooting, and wounding of four people. One eyewitness, who had known C.J., for years, initially, and repeatedly, told police she could not identify the two gunmen.
JASON KADISH, C.J. RICE'S APPEALS ATTORNEY: I think it was approximately 20 hours, where she had spoken to, at least, I think, it was three different officers, and had never (ph) said, "Look, this is somebody that's in my neighborhood."
J. TAPPER (voice-over): But overnight, police say, a confidential informant told them that Rice may have been involved. So, detectives, then showed this photo array, to the eyewitness, and she then fingered Rice.
Three years later, Philadelphia police changed policy, barring any investigating detectives, from conducting the lineups, because of the possibility of suggestion.
J. TAPPER (on camera): This is the position, where one of the shooters was, the one that was IDed, as C.J. Rice, the night of September 25th, 2011. The eyewitness testified that he was 20 feet away.
20 feet away, however, would actually have put them, like here. This is 20 feet away. Where I was before, while there, over there, that's more like 50 feet away, maybe even more, depending on exactly where he was, behind this car. That was over here.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): Witnesses said they saw the gunman running. But my dad had examined the 17-year-old C.J. Rice, just five days earlier, and he insisted C.J. was in no condition to run. T. TAPPER: He had staples, in his abdomen, over approximately an eight-inch or nine-inch surgical incision, from his breastbone, straight down, as far as you could go.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): That's because three weeks earlier, C.J. Rice had been shot, three times, in a case of what he thought was mistaken identity.
T. TAPPER: There was no way this young man, five days, after I saw him, was running anywhere, let alone walking fast.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): My dad demonstrates here, just how slowly, he remembers C.J. Rice, leaving his office that day.
T. TAPPER: With great difficulty and with very great slowness.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): When C.J. Rice was named as a suspect, his mother, Crystal Cooper, met him at the police station, so he could turn himself in.
CRYSTAL COOPER, C.J. RICE'S MOTHER: And the detective took his arm, to help him walk up the stairs.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): C.J.'s family could not afford legal counsel. So, court-appointed private attorney, Sandjai Weaver, took his case on.
And Weaver did not provide C.J. with an adequate defense. Weaver appears to have never visited the crime scene. She never obtained the location data, for Rice's cellphone, which he told her to do, since he said it would show that he was nowhere near the crime scene.
C. COOPER: After the trial, then C.J. starts telling me "Oh, she should have did this. I told her to do this. She didn't listen to me."
J. TAPPER (voice-over): She never prepared, or even met with witnesses, such as my father, who met her, for the very first time, on the day, he was, to testify, at trial, about C.J.'s wound and pain.
T. TAPPER: Every time, I talked extensively, with the lawyers, in person, in their office.
This is the only time I had never had a conversation of any length at all before the trial.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): At the trial, Sandjai Weaver never requested that Rice's case be decertified to juvenile court.
She never mentioned that the only eyewitness, to place C.J. at the scene, initially failed, not once, but three times, to identify him, as the shooter. She never challenged the eyewitness, about the inaccurate assessment, of her distance, from the shooter's. She never introduced Rice's hospital records.
T. TAPPER: Before the trial, in 2013, I had not seen any hospital records at all. J. TAPPER (voice-over): My dad obtained them, a few years later, after the trial, at C.J. Rice's request.
T. TAPPER: Many things surprised me. One was a bullet that fractured his pelvis. It just made it even firmer belief that there's no way he could have run.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): C.J. Rice had an alibi, a witness, who said he was with him, the night of the shooting.
KADISH: Just from review of the record, it seemed that the alibi was ill-prepared. There was nothing to corroborate it.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): But unlike, with C.J.'s co-defendant, whose alibi witnesses, told their stories, to the police, long before the trial? Sandjai Weaver never told C.J.'s alibi witness, to give a statement.
T. TAPPER: So, on the stand, the prosecutor turned Weaver's incompetence, into evidence, of him lying, asking the witness, quote, "Today is the first day that you got in front of anybody other than the defense attorney and told them about where C.J. was?"
Sandjai Weaver also inexplicably called someone, who was not with C.J., at the time of the crime, as an alibi witness. It all made C.J. look guilty.
We can't ask Sandjai Weaver, about any of this. She passed away in 2019. C.J.'s co-defendant was acquitted. C.J. was sentenced to 30 years to 60 years in prison.
KADISH: If there were a new trial, and some of these things were addressed, it could - juror would have a hard time, not having a reasonable doubt.
J. TAPPER (voice-over): C.J.'s new attorney, Jason Kadish, applied for conviction relief, in County Court, arguing that C.J. Rice had ineffective counsel. But the same judge, who had presided over C.J. Rice's trial, heard the appeal, and he rejected it.
C.J. Rice's story, which I tell, in the new issue of "The Atlantic" magazine, is important, because of how unusual it is not. A poor kid, with no means, and an incompetent court-appointed lawyer. The assembly line of a criminal justice system too often not focused on justice.
My father continues to support, and exchange letters, with C.J. Rice, in prison. C.J.'s mom holds on to memories, and holds out hope that he will, one day, be free, if someone in power, seeks to right, what she sees as an injustice.
J. TAPPER: Of course, witness testimony can be notoriously unreliable. More than two-thirds, of the people exonerated, with The Innocence Project's help, DNA evidence? Two-thirds of them involved, eyewitnesses, who were ultimately proven wrong.
And Barry Scheck, from The Innocence Project, is here with us. Also, Van Jones, who is working, to get C.J. Rice, out of prison. They join me next. Stay with us.
J. TAPPER: We just told you the story of C.J. Rice. His story reminds us that the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees the right to counsel, and a competent one, really is nothing more than an empty promise, in the United States.
Joining us now to discuss, Barry Scheck, Co-founder of The Innocence Project; and Van Jones. He's an activist for criminal justice reform, and he's working, on C.J.'s case.
Van, let me start with you. There's something really to be said about how C.J.'s case was handled, to begin with. The cops just went into it with, this was a rival gang shooting thing, and they didn't really seem - it really seemed like there was just a desire, "We just need to make an arrest. We need to make an arrest."
VAN JONES, FOUNDER, DREAM.ORG, HOST, "THE MESSY TRUTH," CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes.
J. TAPPER: And not really "We need to search for justice, here, and figure out who did it."
JONES: Well first, I just want to thank you, and I want to thank your dad. Now, your dad is a bulldog. Your dad is just - but he just will not let this thing go. And, as a result, maybe we'll get some kind of justice.
Bryan Stevenson, in the book - he says, it is - in America now, "It is better to be rich and guilty than poor and innocent." So, if you're poor and innocent? The chances you're getting a good lawyer are not what they should be. And this is a case that shows.
You did more work to figure out what happened then the cops, the prosecutors, or the defense attorney. And once you look - you start looking under these rocks? What you find is a system that's broken. It's a broken system.
The Sixth Amendment - always conservatives love the Constitution. Sixth Amendment says, "If the State comes against you, you get a good lawyer." It's no longer true in America.
J. TAPPER: And Barry, we need to point out, because, your organization, The Innocence Project, has done such important work.
And you've highlighted how mistaken eyewitness identifications, are the leading factor, for wrongful convictions. Nearly 70 percent of your 375 DNA exonerations, involve eyewitnesses, who have been proven to be wrong. But this is not something that the American people necessarily know. And if they're not told it, they just believe people.
BARRY SCHECK, CO-FOUNDER, THE INNOCENCE PROJECT: Well, I think we've made a lot of progress, as Chief Ramsey, actually instituted some reforms, in Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania has done something on eyewitness identification.
But the ineffective assistance of counsel issue is the hardest. Justice Marshall dissented in the Strickland case, which set out the standard. And what he said, is the standard for ineffective assistance of counsel that we used to say, "If you put a mirror, under the nose of the lawyer, and it fogs up, then you have an effective lawyer," for purposes of the courts.
But the truth is, we do not have an objective standard. Marshall pointed out that the way they wrote the standard, is that it depended on the locale. If you're in a locale, where they didn't have good lawyers, particularly when they aren't paying court-appointed lawyers, very much money, which was what's going on here, although she was uniquely bad?
J. TAPPER: Right, yes.
SCHECK: You're - and, by the way, if you're that bad, with those problems? You should be thrown off those panels.
J. TAPPER: Right.
SCHECK: And people don't do that with - lawyers protect themselves. But a bad lawyer, we can't even count delayed (ph), how many people are innocent, and convicted, by the bad lawyers and, frankly, sentenced to far more time than they ever would have gotten, as this lawyer didn't put this poor young man, in juvenile court, where his sentence would have been a lot less.
J. TAPPER: Yes. 30 years to 60 years, for a crime, in which nobody was even seriously injured, much less killed.
And, as you note, and have noted before? I mean, you can be drunk, as a lawyer, or arrested for drunk-driving, on the way to the courthouse. You can fall asleep. You can literally be disbarred, during the trial. And that's all considered kosher, in our judicial system!
And Van, a lot of people don't realize the significant difference, between a public defender, who are often excellent attorneys, and court-appointed attorneys, who are - they don't have as good a track record.
JONES: They don't. And sometimes, the financial incentives make it even worse.
So, you have public defenders, they're lifelong, they're committed, they do it all the time.
You have other lawyers, they pick up these cases for money. And they get paid the same, if they do a good job or a bad job. They get paid the same, as you point out, in your piece? If they work on the case for 10 hours, or 10,000 hours, they get paid the same.
So, the incentive, as you point out, is to get a bunch of cases, and do the minimum amount of work. And that results in a lot of injustice.
Its one positive though, is that people are fighting back. Dream.org has a petition up now, to get people, who want to see this case resolved, differently, to go to Dream.org's petition, and sign up. You've got lawyers, like Erin Haney, from the Reform Alliance, who is now getting involved in, and fighting back.
So, this particular case, I think, it started a real movement. You have - there - you have Shapiro, Krasner, and Fetterman, three of the big legends, in Pennsylvania politics. Any of those three, could take this case up, and do something about it. I think, this could start a movement for - to change this country, where the Sixth Amendment applies, again.
What are the Conservatives concerned about? "The Big Government! "Big Government's going to come and get you.
J. TAPPER: Right.
JONES: The only thing that's in the Constitution that protects you, Sixth Amendment says, a lawyer can help you. And they need to join with us, to make that real, again.
J. TAPPER: And Barry, I was saying, during the commercial break, once you - once you see the injustices, built into the system? You can't unsee them.
And I was stunned to find out, in Pennsylvania, they have a thing called a PCRA. You want to say, "I didn't get a fair trial, in the courtroom of this judge." Guess who you go to, to get a ruling on that? The same judge! How many judges are going to be like, "Yes, you're right! I did a bad job here?"
SCHECK: Ask Meek Mill!
But, the one point, I'd really like to make here is that John Pfaff, wrote a great book, called "Locked In (ph)," about over-incarceration, in this country. And myself, and others have been asking for a Marshall Plan for indigent defense. And frankly, that's not a lot of money, when you can think about it, in terms of, what we're spending, in so many areas.
And you've got to do it now. Because, you talked about what could happen in Pennsylvania that well, you've got to raise the standard of practice. You have to make it by statute, an objective standard, for what constitutes effective assistance of counsel, real categories.
Because what Marshall was complaining about, from the beginning, he really knew, right? J. TAPPER: Yes.
SCHECK: Is that unless you lay it out, and you have constitutional standards, and it'll have to be done in the state.
J. TAPPER: Yes.
SCHECK: As Justice Alito has already told us, he doesn't want ABA standards, constitutionalized. It's got to be state by state by state.
J. TAPPER: Yes. And again, none of us want guilty people roaming the streets. We all want guilty people in prison. The question is, are we sending innocent people to prison, because of the inequities in the system?
Van Jones, Barry Scheck, it's so great to have you here. Thank you so much.
We'll be right back.
J. TAPPER: Thanks so much, for joining us, tonight.
I'll be back, tomorrow night, with Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger. He's on the January 6 Select Committee. This will be his first interview, following tomorrow's hearing, which we're told, will be the last one, before the midterm elections. That's tomorrow night, at 9 o'clock Eastern.
Until then, you can follow me, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the TikTok, @jaketapper.
Our coverage continues now, with Laura Coates.
Laura Coates, did you see - I know, you're a big "Inventing Anna" fan. Did you see the interview, with Anna Delvey, a.k.a., Anna Sorokin?