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Tichelman Plea; Taking Train of Death; Warren Speaks to Young Progressives

Aired July 16, 2014 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you so much. Good to see everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me on this Wednesday.

Let's begin with a murder case that has absolutely stunned investigators. This alleged high-price call girl is suspected of shooting up her client with heroin, and then watching him die from an overdose, all the while drinking a glass of wine.

That woman, 26-year-old Alix Tichelman, appeared in a California courtroom today. She was allegedly on this yacht last November with 51-year-old Google executive Forrest Timothy Hayes. Now, authorities say, once she finished slipping that wine, she gathered her belongings and simply walked away, but not before lowering the yacht's window shades. And her actions were all apparently caught on this surveillance video.

Here's the back story. Tichelman met Hayes on this dating website that some say is really just a front for prostitution. And in this case, authorities say, she had an ongoing prostitution relationship with Hayes. But the young woman's legal representation is adamant that this is not murder.


LARRY BIGGAM, TICHELMAN'S LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE: The case is sad. Five children no longer have a father. But to demonize and sensationalize and totally blame Alix Tichelman is simply wrong. It's misplaced. This case is about two adults who got engaged in a consensual and mutual drug use affair, and it was all in the context of a sexual encounter that he initiated, he encouraged, he wanted and it went awry. It went bad.


BALDWIN: Let's talk about what happened today. CNN national correspondent Kyung Lah was inside that courtroom for her arraignment. She joins me live. HLN host Jane Velez-Mitchell and CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos join me as well. We'll get to you two in a minute.

But first, Kyung, to you. Tell me what happened inside that court today.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, she entered a not guilty plea. These are very serious charges. She was very serious. She was very quiet. Very different than the woman who's been pictured on social media. She did ask for her plea -- her bail to be reduced. The judge denied that saying that she was, Brooke, possibly not going to show up because they were concerned that she has dual citizenship in Canada and in the United States and that she was intending to move elsewhere, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. Let me move on to you, Danny, because we're talking about this manslaughter charge. What exactly would they have to prove?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, manslaughter in California works like this. If the defendant was engaged in a crime not amounting to a felony, in this case a misdemeanor or an infraction, and a death results, similar to the felony murder rule, then if that crime caused the death, she can be charged with manslaughter, even if she didn't intend to kill anybody. And that's exactly what I've read the criminal complaint, that's what they're alleging, that in the course of using heroin, which is a crime, that the victim died. And that is the basis for the manslaughter charge. And if the video shows her bringing the heroin to the premises and injecting, then I have to say, the prosecution has a strong case, if that's what we see on the video.

BALDWIN: OK. Jane, we're learning a little bit more also about this alleged dating site that this Tichelman apparently used. And I just want to ask you about these sugar babies. This is what they call themselves. But first, everyone, watch this.


BELLA, "SUGAR BABY": Up here is just describing a little bit about myself.

LAH (voice-over): She's 28, loves cooking, sunsets. A typical online dating profile. Until this section.

BELLA: Basically, the allowance you're seeking. I have moderate, which is $3,000 to $5,000.

LAH: Dollars, a month. And you heard right, an allowance, to date her. Bella - that's not her real name -- is paid by suitors who list their sizable income and net worth, so-called sugar daddies, meeting sugar babies on the website

BELLA: I'm able to live the lifestyle I want without slaving for it. I'm being taken care of by someone I truly care for, and they're caring for me.

LAH: This is the same website that police say Alix Tichelman used to meet Google executive Forrest Hayes. Tichelman is accused in his murder and dubbed a high-end Silicon Valley call girl. Police say she used the website to meet her clients. The company says Tichelman was one of its users, but her profile raised no red flags.

ANGELA JACOB BERMUDO, SEEKINGARRANGEMENT.COM: Seeking Arrangement is in no way or form a prostitution or escorting service. We are a dating website. LAH: That's the intent of the website, insists the company. It was

started in 2006 by a self-described never been kissed M.I.T. nerd Brandon Wade. The former software engineer explained the concept to "Out Front" three years ago.

BRANDON WADE, CEO, SEEKINGARRANGEMENT.COM: A sugar baby is defined as a younger woman who usually wants to meet a wealthy man to take care of them. In this case, they are sugar daddies.

LAH: Since then, Wade has built a multibillion dollar pay-for-play empire with more than 3 million members. Nearly half the women, says the company, are college students paying for the cost of their education.

MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR: They are not a dating website.

LAH: Critics believe the website operates in a gray zone. The exchange of money between visitors is not clearly visible and the profiles don't necessarily solicit for sex.

ROBBINS: I don't think that it - that makes it legal in California or any other state where prostitution is illegal. I think it just makes it sticky to prosecute.

BELLA: I'm not in it just for the allowance. But, after all, we're - we all are on this site for a reason.

LAH: In just two years, Bella has put $30,000 towards her college debt. She says she's only been intimate with two men, probably fewer partners than other women her age.

LAH (on camera): What is the difference between you and someone who's a paid escort?

BELLA: An escort gets paid to leave. I get a part of their wealth to see them again.


BALDWIN: OK, you three, that was Kyung Lah's reporting. Throughout the whole thing, Danny, I was watching you shake your head. But, JVM, I'm beginning with you on this one. You heard Mel say it's sticky, it could be sticky to prosecute Tichelman on the prostitution charges. Again, on the surface, you saw in Kyung's piece, you know, they're saying, it's not an escort service, it's dating.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Yes, and there are a lot of these sites. I wrote about these sites in my book, "Addict Nation." And essentially, my opinion is, it democratizes whatever you want to call it, prostitution, dating in exchange for food, dinner and housing. I don't care what you want to call it, it democratizes that exchange, reduces the need for a pimp, eliminates the need for a pimp, and allows women to become entrepreneurs of their own body, so to speak. And by the way, it's not just women. They will hook up sugar daddies with sugar babies who are male and those sugar mamas with male -- young men who - BALDWIN: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It goes all different ways. But the bottom line is --

BALDWIN: I was wondering about - I was wondering about that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, the bottom line is, it's an exchange. It's an interaction. And, of course, the women say that they don't sleep. A lot of times they say, well, I'm not sleeping. But, you know, as one person said, that's what they always say.

BALDWIN: But the woman -- Kyung, I mean you talked to this woman who, you know, allowed you to tell her story, all be it with a pseudonym. She said, what, she has slept with two men?

LAH: Yes. And she's saying that they're basically forming relationships. That every relationship you meet on any website, you try to put interests together. In this case, what this woman is saying is that she simply wants to meet men who are like-minded as she. It's a financial transaction. They have similar financial goals. She has a need, he will meet her need. And that just because you start out at that point, doesn't mean that you're necessarily a prostitute. That's her claim.


LAH: We should point out that Tichelman, when she was on this website, she was treating it in a very different manner. And the website says, yes, they knew that she was a user. They did not know that she was using it in this manner.

BALDWIN: OK. Danny Cevallos, you get the final word. You listened to all of this. What do you think?

CEVALLOS: Well, I mean, it's the oldest profession because it's endured. It's the hardest to define. It means something different to everybody. For the proponent of the website would say it's just a way for a guy who's lonely and happens to have $20 to meet someone else, a girl who's lonely and she happens to have $20.

BALDWIN: Or $3,000 to $5,000, her allowance.

CEVALLOS: Or thousands or however much. And other people, law enforcement, the FBI, they've had Operation Cross Country. They view online sites like this as prostitution. And it may be the oldest profession, it may also be the most subjective.

BALDWIN: Danny Cevallos, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Kyung Lah, thanks to all three of you. We will follow what happens to her in court.

Just ahead, a bizarre moment on the border.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adam Kwasman was making a speech.

KWASMAN: The reason why lady justice holds a blindfold over her face --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But then the Republican congressional candidate suddenly stopped. He got word a bus was heading down the road and took off for it.

KWASMAN: I was able to actually see some of the children in the buses and the fear on their faces.


BALDWIN: The problem is, that bus here, that was not full of undocumented immigrants, rather it was full of YMCA campers. Wait until you hear how he explains the gaffe.

Plus, our correspondent, Gary Tuchman, climbs on the so-called "train of death." The one immigrants are risking their lives on each and every day to sneak into America. He joins me live from Mexico, next.


BALDWIN: Welcome back to CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Profiling or protecting the public? That's the debate over one lawman in Arizona. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has come under fire for publicly revealing where 40 undocumented children will be housed. This is all part of the surge of these illegal immigrant kids who have overwhelmed the Texas border very recently.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys (ph) lucky (ph). You guys (ph) better (ph). None of you are better than us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're standing here - and you're standing here --


BALDWIN: And this whole exchange gets increasingly heated when protesters for and against the undocumented show up at the location in the town of Oracle. Anti-illegal immigrant demonstrators were planning to block this road, but Sheriff Babeu stopped that. Still, CNN's Chris Cuomo took Babeu to task for suggesting that some kids could be affiliated with gangs.


SHERIFF PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA: The members of the community have not only legitimate concerns, they want to be heard. Everything went fine yesterday.

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": Assuming all of what you just said is true, the frustration, the lack of communication, the lack of coordination, I still have this fundamental question.


CUOMO: Do you think you're making it better by villainizing these kids?

BABEU: It's not about villain -- do I have a right to know who these kids are? Especially in the light that my experience with the (INAUDIBLE) federal government.

CUOMO: Yes, but do you have a right to suggest who they are when you don't? Do you have a right to suggest who they are when you don't know? You want to know. That's a legitimate question.

BABEU: Those - yes, I -

CUOMO: But then don't assume that they're gangbangers.

BABEU: We do know by fact that -- well, we know for a fact through the screening in Texas that some number -- we don't know what the number -- not just that -

CUOMO: I know but we -

BABEU: We had our own experience here, 300 to 400 violent criminals we do know for a fact were released in my county a year ago. So this is my experience.

CUOMO: I understand.

BABEU: And I'm speaking from my perspective and my county and my job is to protect the families of my county.

CUOMO: I understand.

BABEU: Not to protect the families of central Americans.


BALDWIN: Sheriff Babeu also told CNN he believes the government has failed to inform local law enforcement about the arrival of undocumented immigrants as Homeland Security officials had promised.

Back to that bus. The bus transporting the 40 or so undocumented immigrant children never showed up in Oracle Tuesday. But that didn't stop this one Arizona lawmaker from trying to earn political points. Our Phoenix affiliate reports that Arizona Representative Adam Kwasman took a picture of a bus arriving at the protest. He tweeted it out, even said this to a reporter on the scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM KWASMAN (R), ARIZONA STATE HOUSE: I was able to actually see some of the children in the buses. And the fear on their faces. This is not compassion.


BALDWIN: Well, the bus here actually was from the YMCA, carrying campers, who were smiling and taking pictures. This is according to our affiliate, KPNX. The station's reporter confronted Kwasman, who then said this.


KWASMAN: I apologize. I didn't know. I was leaving the - I was leaving when I saw them. I said I saw children.


KWASMAN: I saw children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But those weren't migrant children.

KWASMAN: Those were not migrant children. That's fine.


BALDWIN: And then back to the bus that he tweeted out, KPNX tells us now that Kwasman deleted that tweet. It is not clear where the bus of undocumented children actually ended up.

And whatever unfriendly elements these immigrants face here in the United States, they really pale in comparison to what they endured to arrive here. Our Gary Tuchman traveled some 750 miles south of the Texas border just to show you one option people are taking. It is an option so incredibly risky, it has gained an ominous and unforgettable nickname. Gary will join me live. But first, I want you to watch his report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is called "the beast," or "the train of death." And it's heading north, arriving in the southern Mexico Pueblo of Ixtapec (ph). When it's in the midst of its journey across Mexico, hundreds of migrants sit on top and in between its cars. Many people get hurt or killed boarding or getting off while it's moving. And that's why it's known as "the train of death."

The train in Ixtapec is making a pit stop. And many of the people on top of the train, for as many as eight hours, are getting off for food and water. This Honduran man was one of the passengers.

He says the ride wasn't so bad. That he left Honduras to find better work. Like many of the passengers, he is extremely hungry.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Most people get off "the beast" right now to go to a nearby shelter and will catch the next train. But some people, like these guys up there, will stay on this train because they don't want to miss this when it leaves.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The shelter in Ixtapec provides food, water, medical care and is well known among migrants who can spend as much time as they want here. Two-year-old Richard of Honduras is here. His foot was cut off when he and his mother were run over by one of the train wheel when they were trying to get off. The arm of his mother Emily was partially detached. She pulled her son off the tracks with her good arm just before her son would have been killed.

She says, "I couldn't believe what was happening while it was taking place. One of the things I thought was if this is God's will, then it's God's will."

Unaccompanied children share this facility with adult migrants before they go back to "the beast" for the rest of the journey north. Volunteers, many from the United States, help take care of them. Emily is an artist, a painter, who dreamed of practicing her craft in the U.S. I ask if she and her two-year-old will continue their journey to the United States.

She says, "yes, so none of this will be in vain."

"The beast" will be leaving soon.

TUCHMAN (on camera): This guy's waiting to get on the train right now. He's waiting for it to slow down enough and he says he wants to go to the United States and he's going to stay on it until he gets to the U.S. border.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The journey with other train connections will take no less than 12 or so days. For many, much longer if they make it at all.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Once people start boarding, they have no idea when it actually will start its trip to the north. It starts and stops for a while while they get it back on track. And I'm not going to go for a ride. I'm going to get off before it's going very fast. But it's anybody's guess when it will get to the United States. I'm getting off now because it's starting to go fast.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is a life for the very motivated and very desperate.


TUCHMAN: (INAUDIBLE) cars still sitting here in this rail yard. As early as this evening, Brooke, a locomotive will (INAUDIBLE) with about two dozen cars will hook up to this car and then hundreds of undocumented immigrants will be on top of these cars going (INAUDIBLE) United States. We want to show you (INAUDIBLE) Richard (ph) in our story, the train stopped here and (INAUDIBLE) - down this ladder and I got to the bottom, the train started moving. Because after it stops, people (INAUDIBLE) the cars. They didn't know (INAUDIBLE) that and one of those huge wheels when over the little body's foot and the mother's arm.


BALDWIN: Gary Tuchman. Tough -- not the best connection, but I think what you're showing us how that little boy or anyone, really, could lose a limb on it so often. Thank you so much, for us in Mexico. So often we see the tops of all those rail cars packed with people hoping for a better life. Gary Tuchman, thanks.

Coming up next, Senator Elizabeth Warren firing up the crowds this week. And it's got a lot of politicos asking this, could she be a potential challenger if Hillary Clinton decides to run come 2016. We'll discuss that.

And when rockets from Hamas head toward Israel, the air raid sirens sound. So we'll talk to the creator of this app on an iPhone that brings those alerts directly to your hands, to your phones. Stay right here. You're watching CNN.


BALDWIN: Are you running for president? That's the question for Hillary Clinton in just about every single interview. But last night, if you were watching "The Daily Show," host Jon Stewart took a little different approach.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I kind of prefer a home office.


CLINTON: That's where I wrote my book. It was on the third floor of our house. So that worked.

STEWART: Do you have a favorite shape for that home office? Do you have like a - do you like - do you like that office, let's say, would you like that office -

CLINTON: Maybe -

STEWART: Would you like to have corners or would you like it not to have corners? I don't know.

CLINTON: You know, I think that the world is so complicated, the fewer corners that you can have, the better.


BALDWIN: Hmmm. Cornerless office. Hmmm. Stewart went on to joke that it sounded like she had just declared her presidency. Clinton, obviously, has not confirmed a darn thing.

Meanwhile, another politician making the rounds in recent days, Elizabeth Warren, fresh from stumping in deep coal country of West Virginia yesterday, in friendly waters today, speaking at a summit for young progressives. Alongside a few well-known other Democrats, Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, makes one wonder, are we seeing Elizabeth Warren gearing up for a 2016 presidential run? And could she pose a challenge for Hillary Clinton if she decides to go for it? CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, joins me from Washington.

And to add another layer to this, now you have a couple of Republicans who think Hillary Clinton better watch out.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And one of them is another female who did run for the Republican position last time around, didn't get very far. Listen to what Michele Bachmann said on "Crossfire" last night.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: I don't see her as necessarily taking Republican votes, but I think that she will be an extremely attractive candidate for the Democrat voters in 2016. If she chooses to mount a run for the presidency, I would agree with Newt, I think that if I was Mrs. Clinton, I would be extremely concerned with what I see.


BASH: Now, Brooke, let's just get real. Maybe this is wishful thinking among Republicans because the conventional wisdom is that because Elizabeth Warren is more to the left on the political spectrum and the Democratic spectrum in particular than Hillary Clinton, that she might be more beatable by a Republican. But there's no question that Elizabeth Warren is out there, she is -- has always had, even before she was in the Senate, a very, very big backing, a big fan base among progressives because of her work for liberals around the country when she was a professor and when she was in the administration. So the buzz continues, no question.

BALDWIN: Listen, whether it's wishful thinking or not, I just wanted to also make a point with you that a lot of people -- you see Elizabeth Warren, you think Massachusetts. You bring up professor -- Harvard professor. But really, she was born in Oklahoma - what, born in Oklahoma City, takes up a lot of issues affecting middle America.

BASH: Yes.

BALDWIN: Not necessarily what a lot of people think of.

BASH: That's right. When you think of a Harvard educated lawyer, you might think of the person who is currently in the White House. A Barack Obama. And that's why I think a lot of people are comparing the two. Because at this point in the 2008 cycle, Barack Obama was certainly a very well-known person, a very well-known politician who had a very big fan base, but not a lot of people took him seriously as a potential presidential candidate because Hillary Clinton was so incredibly powerful at this time and look what happened there.


BASH: I will tell you, there are a lot of - a lot of differences. I actually happened to be on Barack Obama's first trip to Iowa when he was just a senator, the short time he was a senator, and it was pretty clear early on he was running. It was different. And let me just button this up by saying that I've been doing a little bit of reporting on talking to some people who kind of have a sense of whether she would run for president this time around. One source I --

BALDWIN: She being Elizabeth Warren?

BASH: She being Elizabeth Warren. The e-mail I just got back from somebody who should know said zero chance. And another Democratic source, who sort of knows how things are going, said something very interesting, Brooke. That certainly she has a huge, as I said, fan base and part of the reason why this buzz continues is because the Democratic electorate doesn't necessarily want a coronation in Hillary Clinton. They want to have some form of a primary. They want to have some form of a fight, for various reasons, whether it's the way that some of them perceive Hillary Clinton or just because if you're into raw politics, it tends to make candidates better for the general election if they have a primary run.

BALDWIN: OK. Well, maybe it really is wishful thinking on both sides of the political aisle.

BASH: You never know. Stranger things have happened.

BALDWIN: That's right. Dana Bash, thank you so much, in Washington.