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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump Lawyer Evan Corcoran Leaves Team, Remains Central Witness In Classified Docs Case; Bob Costas Reveals O.J. Simpson Tried Calling Him From The Back Of The Ford Bronco; O.J. Simpson Dies At 76. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 11, 2024 - 21:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: So, before we go, you mentioned that aid. What happens to that aid? Will it get delivered?

TESS INGRAM, UNICEF COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST: We're hoping so. Despite the incident, we're going to try again.

Hopefully this weekend, we're putting in another coordination request, because it's just too important to give up. We've got treatment that we know can help the malnourished children in the north of Gaza, and we desperately want to get it up there.

SCIUTTO: Well, Tess, thanks so much for your time, for joining us. And as I said, last time we spoke, please keep yourself and your team as safe as you can.

INGRAM: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: I'm Jim Sciutto.

The news continues. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS starts now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN Breaking News.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS: I've got some breaking news for you, tonight.

I've been speaking with sources, and can now report a key attorney has left Donald Trump's legal team. That lawyer happens to be a major witness, in the classified documents case against him.

Tonight, I've learned that Evan Corcoran has quietly departed Trump's legal team. This matters because Corcoran is potentially going to be a critical witness against Trump, if that case ever goes to trial.

He was the one, who went through the storage room, at Mar-a-Lago about two summers ago, looking for classified documents, after they received a subpoena from the Justice Department. Trump allegedly misled him about the whereabouts of those documents, and also encouraged him, his attorney, to lie to the Justice Department.

Remember, Corcoran actually had to go and testify before a grand jury, investigating the case, after a judge ruled that he couldn't use attorney-client privilege, to shield from investigators, the meticulous notes that he had taken about his interactions with Donald Trump.

As we later saw, those notes helped lay the groundwork for prosecutors to indict Trump, referring to Corcoran as Trump Attorney number 1, 20 times in that indictment.

If the documents case ever goes to trial, and that's a major question tonight, Corcoran would likely be a key witness for the prosecution. Even though he ultimately recused himself, from representing Trump, in that case, he had stayed on for a bit in the other federal case against Trump, the one for election interference.

If you'll remember, he was there alongside Trump, when he was arraigned in Washington, last fall. That is no longer the case, though, I have heard.

And here's why this matters tonight. It's Corcoran's role, as a witness, in the documents probe, that could pose the biggest problem for Donald Trump. Corcoran recorded voice memos that turned into detailed notes, about his conversations with the former President, including instances, where Trump suggested that he should mislead the Justice Department.

There was that unforgettable moment that was detailed in the indictment, from the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, after Evan Corcoran had found some classified documents, at Mar-a-Lago, about 38 of them.

They were discussing what to do with them, Evan Corcoran and Donald Trump. When the former President asked him, quote, "Did you find anything? ... Is it bad? Good?"

According to Corcoran's notes, "TRUMP made a plucking motion" during the conversation, which Evan Corcoran took to mean, "OK why don't you take them with you to your hotel room and if there's anything really bad in there, like, you know, pluck it out."

Of course, as we all know now, and from that indictment, a few months later, the FBI showed back up at Mar-a-Lago with a search warrant.

I have an all-star team here, with us, to discuss this breaking news.

CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig.

And also CNN Political Commentator, and Senior Political Correspondent for The New York Times, and Trump biographer, Maggie Haberman.

And Maggie, I mean, just to hear this quiet, but a big departure from the Trump legal team.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's very interesting, because as you say, Corcoran is a key witness, if this case ever goes to trial. He provided prosecutors. And it was under subpoena.

This was, as you noted, yes, the prosecutors went and pierced the attorney-client privilege, under the crime-fraud exception. The Trump team had fought this. There was nothing Corcoran could do.

But Corcoran kept notes. He had recorded notes of his conversations with Trump. And those were extremely helpful to prosecutors, as they were trying to figure out certain things that had taken place, in the aftermath of their repeated efforts, to try to get these documents back, and their trip to Mar-a-Lago to try to get documents back.

Now, one of the things that we have seen with Trump, repeatedly, is lawyers leaving him, and what that ends up looking like, or other witnesses and allies leaving him, and what that ends up looking like.

He's about to go on trial in Manhattan. And the key witness, the central witness, is his former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. So, the notion of lawyers departing Trump's world looms very, very large.

Now, I don't know when this case will go to trial, you know?


HABERMAN: It's, at the moment, it certainly doesn't seem like it's on track any time before the election. What it would look like if Trump loses the election, and then what happens with the case? We have no idea. But this is significant in Trump's world.


COLLINS: Elie, what do you -- I mean, just to hear something like this, what stands out to you?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: The last thing that any criminal defense lawyer wants is to turn into a witness against his own client or former client. They try everything to avoid that scenario.

And for that reason, he's going to be an especially effective witness, for the prosecution, because it's going to be clear to all involved that the last place he wants to be, Evan Corcoran, is in that witness stand. But sometimes, that's the job.

Now, if people have wondered--

COLLINS: He's not like a willing witness--

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: --who's dying to get up there, and tell all. He just is going to be potentially forced.

HONIG: He has to do his job.

Now, if people are wondering, how could an attorney testify against the client? Isn't there this thing we hear about called the attorney- client privilege? The answer is that has been pierced, broken, in this case, because you'll remember, a federal judge ruled, last year, that the conversations that Donald Trump was having with Evan Corcoran, were in furtherance of a crime.

That, to be clear, does not mean Evan Corcoran was complicit in that crime. But means what Trump was trying to do through Evan Corcoran was committed the crime of obstruction. So, he's going to be a really important witness.

COLLINS: Well and that was so rare. I mean, that was a huge fight, with the district judge in Washington--


COLLINS: --over compelling him to have to go and testify that they fought. But in the end, I mean, they lost, and he had to go and he couldn't say, oh, I'm not answering that question, because it's attorney-client privilege.


COLLINS: He had to answer the questions.

HONIG: It's a big deal to break through that privilege. I mean, that privilege is sacrosanct. And judges do not do that lightly. So, this judge held -- hold a hearing, and ruled yes, what Donald Trump was doing, was trying to break the law, through Evan Corcoran.

And Evan Corcoran's role here was he was sort of the unwitting vehicle, through which Donald Trump misled the FBI.

HABERMAN: It's very specific to the obstruction piece of this investigation.


HABERMAN: And the obstruction piece of the investigation, the documents investigation tends to get sort of overlooked, right? It gets -- the part that gets focused on is the national security secrets that Trump had at Mar-a-Lago.

But there's also this second aspect of allegedly misleading investigators, and that is where Evan Corcoran is a big piece.

COLLINS: And I should note, and this is important, the Trump legal team -- or the Trump team is denying this. They're denying our reporting. We reached out to them before we came on air. They said that Evan Corcoran is--

HABERMAN: He's still there?

COLLINS: --still on the legal team.


COLLINS: They're arguing.

HONIG: Can I -- can I respond to their denial?


HONIG: He can't possibly stay on the legal team. I mean, it's almost a mathematical impossibility. Once you are a witness against the person, which he now is, you can't stay on the legal team.

COLLINS: Yes, it's kind of surprising it took this long.



The Trump team also said that The New York Times was wrong, in saying that Trump had been privately saying he liked a federal abortion ban. And we were not wrong. So do with that what you will.

COLLINS: Yes, you are quite familiar with the history of denials.


COLLINS: But Maggie, you were one of the first people, and your colleagues, to report on the notes that Evan Corcoran took. And I think when people are looking back at this, and they're trying to remember which attorney is this, and which case, the notes were kind of like--


COLLINS: --the ballgame that kind of shocked Trump, and others that he had such detailed notes of conversations that he had with Donald Trump.

HABERMAN: Yes, we were also the first people, actually, to report on the efforts by prosecutors, to pierce attorney-client privilege, to the crime-fraud exception. And what we learned about why they wanted to do that was detailed in these notes.

And one of the things that's so striking about it, and you know this very well, Donald Trump doesn't like when his lawyers take notes. He doesn't like when anyone around him takes notes. He has been like this, for decades.

There was a meeting that he had at Trump Tower many, many years ago, where he swooped in behind a junior lawyer, at his conference table, and crumpled up the notes the guy was taking. This was his approach in the White House. This is his approach, always.

So, the notion that there was such a detailed roadmap, by one of Trump's lawyers, it is disquieting to Trump.

HONIG: If I can add to that, the fact on the contrary, that Evan Corcoran was taking such detailed notes, and he was doing voice memos, right? HABERMAN: Right, so it was while he was driving.

HONIG: Right, while he was just.


HONIG: So, he's taking extraordinarily detailed notes. That tells me he had to have some inkling like, I'm going to need to memorialize this at some point.

COLLINS: Well, and we've seen the history of Trump attorneys, who have gotten in trouble before.

And I was thinking about this moment, when we interviewed Trump Employee 5, Brian Butler, the former Mar-a-Lago employee, in the classified documents investigation, he brought up this attorney.

For people who maybe are wondering who he is, I just want to play the moment of what Brian Butler told us about this.


BRIAN BUTLER, TRUMP EMPLOYEE #5: It's funny, because I remember seeing this taller guy, I think, flip-back silver hair. I think it was Evan -- who I now know to be Evan Corcoran. And I saw a bunch of other people, in the living room. I had no clue. I'm just seeing all these people. I have no clue what they're there for.

I was on the cloister outside over by the bar. The former President was walking towards the living room, like he was going to enter the living room. He was with Secret Service.

I remember, he said hi to me, hi, Brian.

Hi, Mr. Trump, or President Trump.

And then, he went in and talked to them. But I had no clue who those people were.


COLLINS: Well, and now he knows.

But that moment matters, because that was when Corcoran was searching, to find the documents that matched the subpoena, thinking he had gone through all the boxes.

But what we know from what's alleged in the indictment is Trump was telling these other guys, to move them, the day before Corcoran went through that Mar-a-Lago storage room.


HABERMAN: Yes. And one thing that I was just thinking about what Elie said, a second ago, about how Evan Corcoran may have felt the need to memorialize what was happening. In a normal world, taking notes about what's happening, especially in this kind of a scenario, where you were dealing with the FBI, is not abnormal. This is actually what lawyers do. You take notes. You make sure that you have a detailed record of everything that you have done.

So yes, Evan Corcoran was doing what he thought that he was supposed to be doing, as we understand it, which is, look through a set of boxes.

It turned out that there was what prosecutors have described as a shell game, and investigators have described as a shell game with these boxes. That was a significant moment. It just looked different than what people realized from what they were seeing in that moment.

COLLINS: Yes, I guess it does speak to the level of what it's like to be an attorney, working for Donald Trump.

HONIG: It's a tough gig. I mean, look, like let's look through the history. You mentioned Michael Cohen, right?

We've seen John Eastman. Now, he's indicted. He lost his license.

Jeffrey Clark. He's indicted. He lost his license.

Sidney Powell, she's indicted. Jenna Ellis, she's indicted. They both pled guilty.

HABERMAN: Rudy Giuliani.

HONIG: Rudy Giuliani.

I mean, it's really hard to think of an example of someone, who's represented Trump, and come out of it with their financial situation intact, their professional reputation intact, their exposure to crimes intact. It's a grueling job. It's a tough gig.

And here, we're going to end up with a situation, where this guy is going to take the stand, against his former client.

COLLINS: And also--

HABERMAN: Moving on, what happens with the case, but yes.


COLLINS: And also, it's the original attorneys who were working, on these two cases, when they were still investigations and not actual cases, they're all gone from the legal team.



COLLINS: John Rowley, Jim Trusty, now Evan Corcoran.

HABERMAN: Yes. COLLINS: All those names are not going to be the ones taking these to trial.

HABERMAN: Now, I mean, Trump cycles through lawyers. We have seen this over and over and over again.

This goes back, frankly, many, many years. But certainly, at least from when he's from the time when he was president on, he's cycled through lawyers, during the Mueller investigation. He cycled through lawyers, around his efforts to stay in power. He has cycled through lawyers, since leaving the White House.

He's about to go on trial. We'll see what this looks like.

HONIG: And to that end, let me just flag like watch the dynamic between his legal team and Donald Trump, and you both will be reporting on this, because there's always a little bit of tension at trial.


HONIG: Sometimes, the defense lawyer wants to go one way, the client wants him to be more aggressive here or less aggressive there. And that can bubble over. And sometimes, that gets reflected in the courtroom itself.

HABERMAN: We've seen it already.


HABERMAN: At least in the civil cases. There was a lot of Donald Trump, literally poking at his lawyer, Alina Habba--


HABERMAN: --to get up.

COLLINS: When you just reported on his latest attorney, Todd Blanche.

HABERMAN: Correct.

COLLINS: And how, he is now at the forefront of all of this.

HABERMAN: And how he has changed his life, around Donald Trump, which is what a lot of lawyers do.

COLLINS: Maggie Haberman, Elie Honig, always great to have you both on set, but great to have you tonight.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

HONIG: Yes, sure.

COLLINS: And of course, before all the Trump legal drama, there was the trial of the century, last century, back in the public consciousness, tonight, with the death of O.J. Simpson. We are going to be joined, in moments, by a member of the so called

Dream Team, who helped O.J. Simpson get acquitted of double murder.

Also here, someone who missed a call, while O.J. Simpson was in the backseat of that white Ford Bronco, in the police chase that was seen around the world. That's Bob Costas.

Back in a moment.



COLLINS: The Bronco chase, the fall from grace, the trial that would transfix an entire nation, and the verdict that would then divide it.

O.J. Simpson's death from cancer, at age 76 today, brings so many back to 1994. What connected Americans then were their television screens, around 95 million people, watching the same stunning scene in disbelief.

A Heisman Trophy winner, NFL Hall of Famer turned movie star, riding down a Los Angeles Interstate, in the backseat of a white Ford Bronco, in what may still be the most storied police chase in American history.

Simpson was charged that day, with the murders, of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. He went on trial, later that year, almost 30 years ago.

What would be dubbed the trial of the century, captivating a country, Hollywood, crime, race, policing, reality TV and core TV, all wrapped into one. Many people were glued to CNN, throughout it all.

This hour in particular, 9 PM Eastern, became appointment television. Everyone wanted to see who the late great Larry King would have on, to talk about the developments in that trial.


LARRY KING, AUTHOR AND RADIO AND TELEVISION HOST: Could jurors get to hear about past acts of violence, or would that prejudice them? These are all questions that Judge Ito is grappling with, in this latest round of hearings, in the O.J. Simpson case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was bruised. She was injured, where there are photographs that they're seeking to introduce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are claims. These are allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a jury should be able to see.

Allegations, my eye.

KING: What about the O.J. you knew?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The O.J. I knew could absolutely have done this, and did do this.


COLLINS: It was all O.J. all the time. Viewers were mesmerized by what was happening in the courtroom.

Of course, there was the infamous glove.


JOHNNIE COCHRAN, O.J. SIMPSON'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.


COLLINS: And then, in 1995, there was the moment, when time seemed to stand still.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, in the above-entitled action, find the Defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder in violation of Penal Code Section 187(a), a felony, upon Nicole Brown Simpson, a human being.

The defendant Orenthal James Simpson not guilty of the crime of murder in violation of Penal Code Section 187(a), a felony, upon Ronald Lyle Goldman.



COLLINS: It was a verdict that many didn't see coming that would polarize the nation.

There were gasps.

There were also cheers, many from those who believed it was Simpson, who was victimized by racist policing.

A 150 million people in total tuned in during that acquittal.

And then, they got to hear, for the first time, from the acquitted defendant himself, where else, but "Larry King Live."


KING: With us on the phone now is O.J. Simpson.

How are you?

O.J. SIMPSON, AMERICAN FOOTBALL PLAYER, ACTOR, AND BROADCASTER: I'm doing fine. And one, I want to thank you a lot, you know, a lot, because so many of my friends have told me that you've been fair. Most of all, I want to thank that man, Mr. Johnnie Cochran, for believing from the beginning, listening and putting his heart and soul on the line to send me home.

KING: Would you describe yourself as relieved? Angry? What?

SIMPSON: A little bit of everything. I think my basic anger -- and this is the last thing I'm going to say before I leave -- my basic anger is these misconceptions.

Because what they were reporting on the news, what they were reporting on these various shows, was not what the witnesses were saying.


COLLINS: On set with Larry King, the man you see there, that's Johnnie Cochran, the civil rights attorney, who was part of Simpson's legal defense team, a defense team that fame and money allowed Simpson to hire, famous local and national attorneys, a group that would borrow a moniker from the '92 Olympics a, quote, "Dream Team."

It also included star defense attorneys, F. Lee Bailey and Alan Dershowitz, and also the DNA expert Barry Scheck. Simpson also hired his friend, Robert Kardashian, the father of the Kardashian sisters.

The first assignment for the case, though, was Robert Shapiro.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert Shapiro has made a name for himself, representing high-profile clients, including ballplayers, Vince Coleman and Darryl Strawberry, comedian Johnny Carson, and actor Marlon Brando's son, Christian.

But in a matter of weeks, as O.J. Simpson's lead attorney, Shapiro has catapulted from criminal defense lawyer, to international media star.


COLLINS: And I'm joined tonight, by another member of the Dream Team of defense attorneys, Carl Douglas.

And Carl, it is great to have you joining us.

I just wonder, what was it like when you got this news today?

VOICE OF CARL E. DOUGLAS, MEMBER OF O.J. SIMPSON'S "DREAM TEAM," DEFENSE ATTORNEY IN O.J. SIMPSON'S MURDER TRIAL: You know, Kaitlan, first of all, thank you so much for having me on your show.

I was shocked and surprised when I was awakened this morning, to the news of O.J.'s death. Though we haven't spoken since the trial, I have followed his career, the ups and downs of that since then. And it was very shocking to me. And my heart goes out to his four children, over their loss. COLLINS: Well and race obviously was such a central part of this trial. I mean, it was two years after the Rodney King police beating, the riots that followed. As the Dream Team, as you called yourselves, as you crafted this defense, I mean, how much was that at the forefront, as you were calculating--

VOICE OF E. DOUGLAS: Well, you know.

COLLINS: --what that defense was going to look like?

VOICE OF E. DOUGLAS: Well we, as lawyers, Kaitlan, have an obligation to follow the evidence where it leads us.

And Robert Shapiro crafted the theme of our defense, even before Johnnie Cochran's office was ever brought on to the team, because his investigators discovered a workers' comp claim that had been filed by Mark Fuhrman, one of the central detectives on the O.J. case.

And Mr. Fuhrman had contended that he needed stress relief, because of his abject, malicious feelings toward the Black and Brown suspects or prisoners. The nature of his racism was so virulent, that he tried to separate himself from the police department because of it.

So that in essence, that's the theme for what our defense was going to be, just following the evidence where it led us.

COLLINS: There was something you said after -- right after the verdict came down, in 1995. I just want -- with Larry King, here on CNN. I just want everyone to remember what it -- what that moment was for a second.


KING: Client called this show, last week. He will appear on NBC, tomorrow night. How will -- how will he equate himself tomorrow evening?

E. DOUGLAS: Well, I think he'll be a tremendously compelling witness. He's a brilliant man. There's a lot--

KING: Guest, you mean. He's not a witness, tomorrow.

E. DOUGLAS: Correct, my guest.

There's a lot that he wants to say, to set the record straight, to change some of the misconceptions that have been spoken about on the air. I think he'll do fine.


COLLINS: One, it's just remarkable, to watch that clip, and to see it.


And that interview with NBC actually never happened, Carl. And I wonder what you make of how O.J. Simpson, how he handled this, how he talked about it, or didn't talk about it, after all of this happened.

VOICE OF E. DOUGLAS: Kaitlan, I will say in all candor that I was extremely disappointed, at the turns that his life took, after the acquittal in October of 1995.

I know we lawyers had encouraged O.J. to go to the Bahamas, to go to Bermuda. We told him they would -- they would have a parade for him, if he went back to Jamaica, for example, on vacation for a few days.

But no, he wanted to go back to Rockingham, to return to his community. He adored the revelations and the applause of his community. That was a very essence of who he was, not only as a person, but as a celebrity.

He was the first one, Kaitlan that created a career, from being an athlete out of whole cloth.


VOICE OF E. DOUGLAS: He became iconic before Michael -- Michael Jordan, before Tiger Woods, and he was the first one, to merge the connection of athlete and celebrity, to a commercial nation that was embracing him in that way.

COLLINS: When was the last time you saw him in-person?

VOICE OF E. DOUGLAS: I know exactly when it was. It was in 2005, at the funeral of my friend and mentor, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.

I remember that Al Sharpton was delivering the eulogy. And he asked everyone who had ever worked for Johnnie Cochran, to stand up. And there were many lawyers, and colleagues who stood up.

And then, he asked for anyone, who had ever been represented by Johnnie Cochran to stand up. And I looked to my right, and I saw Michael Jackson standing up. And one row back, and maybe four seats over, was O.J. Simpson.


VOICE OF E. DOUGLAS: That was the last time that I saw him in-person. But that was indeed an image of the two of them together that I would take to my grave.

COLLINS: I mean, that's remarkable to hear it.

I mean, I know your job was, you're a defense attorney, and that was your job, and what you were there to do, in that case of the century.

But was there ever a moment, where you doubted his innocence, or that you heard something that kind of made you?

VOICE OF E. DOUGLAS: It's funny, because before we were ever brought into the case, I, like most of America had questions about his guilt.

And then, I had a chance to spend 16 months of my life, combing through the evidence. And then, I had the opportunity to talk with O.J., as a person, to understand his outlook, to hear him think and talk.

And I'll tell you, Kaitlan, I will forever think two things.

One, that the prosecution, their burden of proving O.J. Simpson guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And I believe there were police officers that messed with the evidence, to convict someone whom they thought was guilty. That's a terrible indictment on the employees of the Los Angeles Police Department.

But you really have to understand the times and the atmosphere in 1994, when this trial was held, to really appreciate the significance of the verdict that was returned, one year later.

COLLINS: Carl Douglas, I mean, you had a seat to history that very few people did. It's great to be able to talk to you tonight. Thank you for your time.

VOICE OF E. DOUGLAS: Thank you so much for having me.

COLLINS: One way to describe O.J. Simpson's impact, it might just be best-described as a split-screen.

I mean, even now, on one side, there's the celebrity football player, a star, and also the suspected murderer, the infamous Bronco chase. Split with the NBA Finals.

Even the announcement of his civil trial, yes, on a split-screen, as Bill Clinton was delivering the State of the Union address. How many people remember that one?

Perhaps nowhere, though, was that split with reality more clear, in how his twin verdicts were split along racial lines.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The finding of responsibility, in the civil trial, prompted cheers, in parts of Los Angeles' white community, and suspicion elsewhere.

O.J. Simpson's acquittal, in the criminal trial, produced cheers in much of the African-American community, and dismay elsewhere.


For many African-Americans, it clearly was not about Simpson. The criminal trial not only exposed racism, in one of the investigating police officers, it also exposed the mistrust many minorities have in the criminal justice system.


COLLINS: CNN Legal Analyst, and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson is here with me.

And Joey, I mean, just to go back to that moment--


COLLINS: --of how the country was, and like what so many people maybe didn't understand fully about where the country was, until something like this happened.

JACKSON: Without question.

And remember, this trial invented the 13th Juror. What am I speaking about? I'm speaking about this 12 jurors that are there, assessing guilt and innocence. But guess who the other jurors were? Everyone else in the country, who was glued to their television, looking at every aspect of the trial.

And people had strong opinions, because they followed closely the evidence. And when Carl Douglas, brilliant interview, by the way, was speaking with you, he left off there. And he said, you have to understand the context of those times.

We remember, right? If you think about Rodney King, Rodney King was an African-American motorist, who was beat, right, beat savagely, by the LAPD. The officers was subsequently acquitted of that. And so, there were horrible feelings, about police, about police misconduct, about what policing was doing, particularly in communities of color.

And as a result of that, what happens a couple of years later, O.J. now is embroiled in this double murder. And the defense team here was masterful, at not making it about the two precious souls that were lost, which the trial should be about, but making it a larger indictment about a system that runs amok, that doesn't treat people fairly, particularly people that don't, you know, people -- Black and Brown people.

And so, what they did, this Dream Team, as you noted that they were dubbed, is they turned it into mock-firm (ph) and being racist, a system that really disregards people. And they were brilliant in doing that. It resulted in acquittal.

And to your split-screen analogy. You had some people who were cheering the verdict, and other people who were dismayed and saying, are you kidding me?

And then, of course, we had the civil case, two years later. And there was accountability, as our system allows, civil being monetary damages, in which Kaitlan he was found responsible, liable, for the murders, but of course, in a criminal context, he was acquitted.

COLLINS: Just a remarkable moment.

JACKSON: Yes. COLLINS: Joey Jackson, great to have you.

JACKSON: Always. Thanks.

COLLINS: Thank you.

JACKSON: Not only did my next guest cover that infamous Bronco chase, as a TV sportscaster, Bob Costas got a call, from O.J. Simpson, while the police were chasing him. We'll talk about that in a moment.

And what was it also like to visit Simpson in jail, as he was waiting on trial? We'll speak to Bob about it all, right after this.



COLLINS: June 17th, 1994, a day that is seared into the memory of nearly 100 million people, who watched, as the two-hour 60-mile low- speed police chase unfolded on live TV.

And they listened, as one L.A. detective tried to talk O.J. Simpson into surrendering.


SIMPSON: Just let me get to my house.

TOM LANGE, LAPD DETECTIVE: OK, we're going to do that.

SIMPSON: I swear to you. I'll give you what -- I'll give you me. I'll give you my whole body.


SIMPSON: I just need to get to my house.


SIMPSON: I can't live with (inaudible).

LANGE: We're going to do that. Just throw the gun out the window.

SIMPSON: I can't do that.

LANGE: Man, just throw it out the window.


LANGE: And nobody's going to get hurt.

SIMPSON: I'm the only one that deserves it.

LANGE: No, you don't deserve that.

SIMPSON: I'm going to get hurt. LANGE: You do not deserve to get hurt. You do not deserve to get hurt.


LANGE: Don't do this.

SIMPSON: All I did was love Nicole. All I did was love her.


COLLINS: My next guest not only witnessed that infamous moment, he helped cover it. Bob Costas was covering Game 5 of the NBA Finals, between the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets, when he was told to cut into the coverage, to cover the chase.



But before we talk about basketball, let's return to Tom Brokaw for a report on the still developing O.J. Simpson story. And here's Tom at our Manhattan studios.


TOM BROKAW, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Bob, we are witnessing tonight a modern tragedy and drama of Shakespearean proportion being played out live on television.


COLLINS: And Bob Costas joins me now.

I mean, Bob, what's it like for you to remember that night, on a day like today?

COSTAS: Well, it was surreal.

And you have to keep in mind that many of us, at NBC, not just on-air people, like Tom and Marv Albert, who was calling the game, and me, but many people, technicians and others, knew O.J. Simpson. And we knew him as a hail-fellow-well-met, nice to everybody, accommodating to fans and all the rest.

So, the shock of the accusation, and then his apparently fleeing, and you hear he had $10,000 in cash in a bag, and he's got a gun to his head, all this stuff was hard to process.

But what also made it even stranger was, as you said, we're covering the NBA Finals. Had it been a regular game, I'm sure we would have done what every network did, every other network, which is go full, to the Bronco chase.

But this was Game 5 of a tied NBA Final between the Knicks, the biggest market in the country, and the Rockets. So, NBC had a decision to make. And from time to time, Marv Albert was calling the game, would throw it to me. I would pass the ball in effect to Tom Brokaw. He would do his report. Then other times, we had a split-screen.

Most people didn't have cell phones then. But word had gotten around the Garden. And so, there were fans leaning over Marv Albert's shoulder, to try and see his monitor. I was in a different part of the arena. They're leaning over my shoulder, and asking me what information I may have.


And then, I found out subsequently that even though this was the NBA Finals, not all players, but some of them, Kaitlan, when they got into the locker room at halftime, they weren't so much listening to Pat Riley or Rudy Tomjanovich.

What's up with this O.J. thing? Give me an update on this.


COSTAS: In the middle of an NBA Finals game.

So, it was -- it was very strange. That's for sure.

COLLINS: Well, and you make a good point that that you all knew him. You personally knew O.J. Simpson--


COLLINS: --as you're watching all this play out, which I mean, as a journalist, has got to be a strange feeling.

But also, you later learned, he tried to call you--


COLLINS: --from the Bronco.

COSTAS: Yes, yes, he did.

I didn't have a cell phone in 1994. I've always been behind the technological curve. So, there was no way I was going to have one that early.

He called my house in St. Louis. There was no one there. He tried other ways to reach me.

And then, it occurred to him, maybe I can get him through the studio line, because we did the NBA show, from the same studio, where he and I sat and did the NFL show. But since we were all at the Garden, there was no one there.

And finally, on whatever attempt it was by O.J., a technician answered the phone.

And he heard, I need to speak to Bob Costas.

He's not here.

I have to speak to him.

Well, he's not here.

I have to speak to him.

Well, who's calling?

O.J. Simpson.

Yes, right. Click.

Now, I don't know any of this. As I told Brianna Keilar, earlier today, a few days go by. We go to Houston, where Game 6 and 7 were played. And on an off-day, I get a call at the hotel, from a woman from Time Magazine, who says we hear you -- O.J. Simpson tried to call you. And I say, I think, truthfully, at the time, no, that never happened. The whole conversation lasted like a minute.

Now fast-forward to November of '94. And I visit O.J. Simpson at his request, in the L.A. County jail. The trial didn't start until a couple months later. So, he's in jail. And Robert Kardashian picked me up at the hotel, took me there.


COSTAS: Al Cowlings was there. So, it was the three of us.

And O.J. and Al then, as part of small talk, say, we tried to call you from the back of the Bronco.

And I inquired why, why would you call me in that moment.

And his statement was, they were -- the press was on me, not so much about this, but about my whole reputation and my whole life. And in effect, he wanted me to act as a character witness for him. But of course, that never happened.

And I don't think he appreciated what my job would have been, in that circumstance.


COSTAS: Especially if he wanted to go on the air, I would have had to have asked him the same pointed questions, as any journalist would have. But it never came to pass.

COLLINS: We're showing video of you leaving that night, in November in 1994.


COLLINS: I mean, what was it like to go visit him in jail? COSTAS: I'd never seen that video until just now.

It was odd. They brought him around a corner, shackled at both ankles, and both wrists, wearing the blue prison jumpsuit. Looked to me like he lost about 20 pounds. But much of his personality was still intact, that kind of jocular kidding around, between sports guys.

He and I got along very, very well. And I remember that when he sat down, they removed three, but they kept one, the ankle shackle, they attached to the leg of the chair. And the way you shake hands, since there was glass between us, is you put your hand up and match his to shake hands.

And it was awkward to make small talk. And he tried eventually, as I'm sure he did with others, to convince me that he couldn't possibly have done this. Bob, you know me. I wouldn't do this. And if I did it, I'd be smarter than to leave all this evidence behind, or however he phrased it.

And to everything he said, I just said as gently as I could, well, you're going to have your chance to tell your side of the story in court, and you'll be well-represented by capable people.

And as it turned out, that jailhouse visit was the last time I saw or spoke to him.

COLLINS: That was the last time you ever spoke to him?

COSTAS: Yes, yes. There was just never.


COSTAS: I think he deduced those in his circle of friends, who still believed in his innocence.

And those who, like me, reluctantly came to the unavoidable conclusion that much as we would like to hold out a sliver of hope, there was no other conclusion to reach, other than that he did it.

COLLINS: Bob Costas. I mean, you're one of a few people, with an amazing perspective, on a day like today. Thank you.

COSTAS: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Even more prospective coming up, tonight, from someone who not only knew O.J. Simpson, and called him a friend. He was charged alongside him, as one of his accomplices, in that 2007 robbery, the one that sent Simpson to prison for years. He's here with his reflections, next.



COLLINS: We've been reflecting on the life and the death of O.J. Simpson. 13 years to the day after he was acquitted of murder, he was convicted

of armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges. The evidence showed that he conspired with five others, to storm a Las Vegas hotel room, where memorabilia dealers were expecting actual buyers. Instead, guns were pulled, as merchandise was thrown into pillowcases.

Simpson said at his sentencing that he was trying to reclaim fairly -- family heirlooms that had been stolen from him, while he was incarcerated. He claimed he didn't know that his associates had guns.

Charles Ehrlich was O.J. Simpson's best friend at the time, a friendship that ended after Ehrlich took a plea deal and testified against Simpson, as one of the accomplices in that robbery. And he joins me now.

And Charlie, it's just it's great to have you on a day like today, because--


COLLINS: Well you had such a -- I'm great.

But you had such a interesting experience. We've been talking all about what happened before the murders and that trial. You had a very different perspective of O.J. Simpson after that had happened.


EHRLICH: Yes, I did. He was a dear friend. And I never -- I never looked at it where, you know, to me he was always innocent in my eyes, because we had that special relationship. And he was a very loving father and he -- very caring. And I never saw a bad side of him.

He was a dear friend of mine. And from this day, I still don't believe that he was involved in that horrific situation in L.A.

I run a club, here in North Miami. It's called Dean's Gold. And he was a regular customer of mine, back in the day. Everyone loved him. He was very well-liked.

And in the years knowing him we were -- we became very, very close. I would have dinners at his house. Christmas, Thanksgiving. Arnelle, Sydney, Justin. Very loving. He was a very loving father.

COLLINS: His kids.


COLLINS: You know?

EHRLICH: I never -- and I had never saw him get angry. Let me put it that way. In the years and years that I've known him, not once. He was humble. People loved him. He was charming. He never -- he never showed any anger around me.

COLLINS: Well, can we--



EHRLICH: He was -- he was a -- he was a sweet man.

COLLINS: Obviously, Ron -- Ron and Nicole's family would -- they would see this all very differently. And they've made that clear, tonight. We have their reaction coming up in the show.

But when you look back at his actual conviction that happened, over 15 years ago, did you two ever speak again, after that?

EHRLICH: I once brought it up. I had -- oh this is about probably 17 years ago, when we were together. And he -- I looked in his eye and he -- he almost had a tear in his eye, at the time. And he said, I loved her. I would never ever, ever do anything to hurt her. And I am a man.

And I see the way that he -- his children, they loved him dearly. And being around him.

In my heart, I can never believe he did it. Never. And trust me, I was around him a lot. You know, I was a confidant. A lot of times, he'd asked me, you know? And I'd give him my advice. But like I said, everyone has their own opinion. My opinion?


EHRLICH: No. I don't believe he would ever do something like that.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, it's remarkable to think if that trial happened today, especially with DNA evidence, and just the way people view these celebrity cases now.

Charlie Ehrlich, you have a perspective that very few people do. Thank you for joining me tonight, and talking about this.

EHRLICH: Thank you, Kaitlan. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

COLLINS: And coming up here on CNN, Laura Coates is going to have a whole special hour, at 11 o'clock Eastern, on the life and the death of O.J. Simpson. You won't want to miss that.



COLLINS: The CNN Original Series, "SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA: THE FINAL FLIGHT" is going to air this Sunday. This week, we'll go inside the moments, 21 years ago, when people watched in horror, as the Space Shuttle Columbia, broke up on reentry into the skies over Texas.

Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RUTH ANN PETERSON, NACOGDOCHES RESIDENT: It was on Saturday morning. I was preparing to come to work. It was a beautiful day, beautiful drive. And as I turned on to Park Street, I heard a loud boom.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, our house just shook. We, you know, looked at each other, and we said, what is that? The space shuttle over Nacogdoches, what is -- what is happening? We had just gone through 911. And at first, I thought somebody blew it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was probably a reasonable thought that a lot of people had that it could be something terrorist-related, even in a small rural area, because you never know where that might take place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears that we have had an explosion in this area.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Phones were ringing off the hook, much more than our dispatch staff could handle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're telling me a piece of metal fell out of the sky?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm telling you something fell out of the sky.


COLLINS: The two-part finale of that Original Series, "SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA: THE FINAL FLIGHT" airs this Sunday, 9 PM, right here on CNN. I've been watching, can tell you, it is a must-watch.

Nearly a decade before that disaster happened, that's when the double murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman happened.

We are hearing tonight, from the Goldman family, on the death of O.J. Simpson, after a jury acquitted him in 1995.

Ron Goldman's sister, Kim and his father, Fred, say that Simpson's death comes as a quote, shock to them, and that for, quote, "Three decades we tirelessly pursued justice for Ron and Nicole, and despite a civil judgment and his confession in If I Did It, the hope for true accountability has ended... despite his death, the mission continues."

Also, new reaction tonight, from one of the key witnesses at the trial in 1995. Kato Kaelin, who lived in O.J. Simpson's guest house, at the time of those murders, had this to say.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATO KAELIN, WITNESS IN THE O.J. SIMPSON MURDER CASE: I wish to express my love and compassion to the Goldmans, to Fred and to Kim. I hope you find closure.

And finally, to the family of the beautiful Nicole Brown Simpson, may we always cherish her memories.


COLLINS: Kaelin also expresses his condolences to the children of O.J. Simpson.

Thank you so much, for joining us, tonight.