Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Jury Clears Pulse Nightclub Killer's Wife of All Charges; Parkland Student Rejects Fox News Host's Apology; Allred Withdraws From Zervos Case Against Trump; EPA Chief's Pricey Security Detail. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 30, 2018 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:30:51] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Breaking news. The Pulse Nightclub shooter's wife has been found not guilty. The jury cleared Noor Salman of the following charges providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, obstruction of justice, and misleading law enforcement in connection with her husband's 2016 attack that killed 49 people.

CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us now. Martin, this is not the outcome, certainly, the government had hoped for. What was the reaction here from both sides?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, it was not, Brianna, and of course, you know, the family of Noor Salman is grateful for the verdict that came down, but the prosecution, federal prosecution in this case, it was pretty clear they were disappointed, and that's putting it mildly. They did come out briefly and spoke to the cameras, thanked essentially the jury, but then, boom, they were gone.

This is clearly looked upon as a defeat on the part of the prosecution and even the FBI as well. There were a lot of questions that were brought in about how the interrogation of Noor Salman was conducted. So sadness there.

And also the victims' families, 49 victims in this case, and of course now no one has brought into account in the justice system, at least. Omar Mateen died when he carried out the attack, and then you have Noor Salman and her family. Of course, they were incredibly relieved.

I was looking at Noor Salman before the verdict was read. She -- you could tell just extremely anxious. Why not? She was facing the potential of life in prison. She had already spent over a year in federal custody. She had been separated from her five-year-old little boy.

And then came the verdict, not guilty, not guilty, not guilty on all counts. And the flood of emotion on her face and of her family members was just extreme. They broke down sobbing. She left the courtroom free and she's going through the out booking process now. But again, you have a community that has suffered a tremendous loss. You had a terrorist attack. And right now it's not completely over in the minds of many.

KEILAR: What seemed to play into this verdict? Because there been a lot of talk about her confession and how it had been written by a law enforcement agent, and it really didn't seem to be her own words.

SAVIDGE: You know, obviously there is likely to be a debrief of the jurors and we'll wait to hear, but it seems the fact that the FBI conducted this 11-hour interrogation, it's been described, and yet none of it was recorded. In other words, there's no video, there's no audio recording of any of this, it's all based on the handwritten notes of FBI agents. I think the jurors had a hard time with that.

They felt, look, you had her for 11 hours, no one thought of recording anything? And then on top of that, there was other issues. It was said she was with her husband and actually went to the Pulse Nightclub to scout it out. Well, it turns out, no, there's no evidence she went with her husband to the Pulse Nightclub to scout it out, because it was later revealed the Pulse Nightclub was never the initial attack site. He chose that at random after Disney Springs where he was going to go was too heavily guarded that night.

KEILAR: Sorry, we lost Martin Savidge there. Thank you for that report, Martin.

A Fox News host forced to apologize after taunting a student survivor of the Parkland, Florida shooting. Major brands are now pulling their ads from her show. We'll have the new backlash, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:38:26] KEILAR: David Hogg, a high school student who survived the shooting massacre in Parkland, Florida is now responding to an apology from Fox News host Laura Ingraham who posted a tweet that mocked his college acceptance record.

Earlier on New Day, Hogg rejected her apology. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID HOGG, PARKLAND SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: She's only apologizing after third of her advertisers pulled out. And I think it's really disgusting with the fact that she basically tried promoting her show after apologizing to me. I think it's wrong, and I think if she really wants to do something she could cover things like inner city violence and the real issues that we have in America. I know she's a talk show host, but as such she also has the responsibility to show both sides of the story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: CNN's Hadas Gold is joining me now to talk about this. So Hadas, there was an apology from Laura Ingraham. But, power advertisers responding, is that enough for them? HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, that's right, Laura Ingraham did apologize. She posted in a tweet that she -- in the spirit of Holy Week that she apologize for any upset or hurts that her tweet caused and to the brave victims of Parkland, and for the record that she believes her show is the first to feature him and that he should be proud of his 4.2 GPA.

But despite that apology, we're seeing at least nine advertisers so far have dropped advertising on Laura Ingraham's show. These includes some well-know brands like Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Expedia, Wayfair, and some of them have been issuing comments as well. We first said that -- that what she said was not consistent with their values. TripAdvisor said those comments crossed the line of decency.

[12:40:00] And this was something we've seen before. Other hosts on Fox News have been targeted for this type of advertiser boycotts. Some have been more successful than others.

If you think about cases like Bill O'Reilly, but this is clearly a story that's going to keep going. As we heard, David Hogg is not accepting that apology.

KEILAR: What is Fox saying? Are they saying anything about this?

GOLD: So, we've not heard any official comment from Fox News just so yet. All we've heard so far is that apology tweet from Laura Ingraham. But, like I said, I think that this story is going to continue on because David Hogg is clearly not letting it go and he's keeping it up and he is wanting Laura Ingraham to not just apologize for what she said about him but also for - denounce her network and how he said they have been treating the Parkland survivors.

This has been a really interesting fight because like you said, these are high school students. These are young kids that fare taking on some really big names.

KEILAR: Yes, and realizing that they have quite a lot of power as we're seeing playing out in this back and forth.

All right, Hadas, thanks so much for that report.

Coming up, high-profile attorney Gloria Allred just quit the team representing former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos. Zervos has accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct and defamation. We'll have the details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:45:41] KEILAR: News about two of President Trump's accusers this morning. Summer Zervos has lost her famous attorney, Gloria Allred. Zervos is the former Apprentice contestant who accused Trump of sexual misconduct and then sued him for defamation when he calls her a liar.

In the meantime, Stormy Daniels has hit a road block in court after a judge halted her attorney's effort to depose President Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. CNN's MJ Lee is joining me now. So MJ, tell us, how big of a setback is this for Stormy Daniels and for her legal team?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Brianna, this is certainly not the outcome that Stormy Daniels would have wanted. What she asked for earlier this week was an expedited trial and expedited discovery with the goal of deposing President Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Now yesterday, a federal judge ruling that this motion would be dismissed essentially because that motion was filed prematurely. This judge said that essentially Stormy Daniels needed to give the president and/or Michael Cohen the option and the chance to file a motion to compel arbitration.

Now, Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' lawyer is downplaying this as a procedural setback and he has said repeatedly he plans to re-file this motion as soon as Michael Cohen and/or President Trump have taken their necessary legal steps. Now, I also want to highlight an interesting moment from NEW DAY this morning where Avenatti was asked a question about Stormy Daniels and the question of whether she would accept any amount of money to make this story go away. Here's Avenatti this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: If President Trump today called you and said, you're been a thorn in my side, this is annoying to me, I have bigger business that I'd like to move on to, how much do you want, I'll write your check.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: I don't think there's a number. I really don't. I mean, that's not what this is about.

CAMEROTA: There is no -- just to be clear, there is no number that you and your client, Stormy Daniels would take from Michael Cohen or the president to make this go away? There's no amount of money.

AVENATTI: A number that would allow him to continue to hide the truth? Is that the question?

CAMEROTA: Yes, for you to go away.

AVENATTI: No number.

CAMEROTA: No amount of money?

AVENATTI: No amount of money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: Interesting that Avenatti clearly seems to be trying to signal that this is not about money. We'll see what happens, because so far this entire lawsuit has very much been about the money, the $130,000 that Stormy Daniels received in 2016, Brianna.

KEILAR: On the Summer Zervos case, this is so curious. Gloria Allred has taken herself off the case. She's no longer going to represent Summer Zervos. Do we have any idea what happened here? May we find out?

LEE: Right. You know, this was the former Apprentice contestant who has accused President Trump of sexual assault on multiple occasions, and she was working with Gloria Allred. We now know her as this famous lawyer who has represented so many women who have taken on big names, including President trump, for women who have accused men of various kinds of sexual misconduct and sexual assault allegations. And now she is announcing today that she is no longer representing Summer Zervos.

Here's part of her statement. She says her withdrawal has nothing to do with the merits of her case, Summer Zervos' case against President Trump. "We will have no comment regarding the reasons for our firm's withdrawal. We continue to wish Summer the best in her pursuit of justice."

So very interesting that in that statement she does not say the reason for why she is no longer representing her. We might find out in the coming days so we'll keep you posted on that.

KEILAR: All right, MJ Lee, thank you so much. And joining me now is CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson.

Joey, I'm so curious about what you think about the summer Zervos case and Gloria Allred no longer representing her. I know -- you know, we don't know what it was. There can be all kinds of reasons why a lawyer is not going to be a part of a case anymore.

It could be for -- and we're not saying this what it is, but just to put out there that runs the gamut. Non-payment, there can be a different approach in defending the case or prosecuting the case. We just don't know. She seems to be stressing it's not about the merits of the case, but of course, you wonder, right?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You could, Brianna. So this is how I would assess this. And, you know, certainly we would be speculating unless there's a reason given, and she is, of course, bound by attorney-client privilege, and any, you know, lawyer who is as legit and, you know, well intentioned and as skilled as her is never going to impair the client's interest, and so of course she's going to say that's nothing to do with the merits.

[12:50:06] But here's how you analyze this. When taking a case or removing yourself from a case is really three bases, right?

The one is a legal basis. Is there any apparent conflict that you have in (INAUDIBLE) this particular client? Are you representing another client who you would have to put their interest above, and therefore, the client you're representing would be subservient? You can't do that. Is there a business or other conflict that would otherwise impair representation? That's the legal.

Then you go up to the practical. Is this a case that I can take? Is this a case that would allow for my law practice to otherwise flourish in keeping with my other business in order to pursue? And then finally, this is the personal. And that is, do we have strategic differences? Is this a client who's going to listen to me? Is this a client who's going to accept my advice or think that they have better advice than I and no more than a lawyer?

In this case (INAUDIBLE) element, Brianna. Again, just assessing it of what you would have to go through, and that is that, there were -- was another lawyer involved. So it could very well be differences not only with the client, but there was a former lawyer involved who did a significant amount of work on this case.

Is there some conflict there? Is there some difference in terms of strategy and approach as relates to that? So could be a number of reasons, and we may never know what the reasons are based upon Gloria Allred's obligation to her client and that is not to say anything. We know that that interest of confidentiality survives their relationship.

KEILAR: That's right. OK, so let's talk about Stormy Daniels. In this case where you had her lawyer Avenatti trying to get a stab at deposing the president and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the judge said not so fast, this is too quick, you're premature in making this motion. So Trump and Michael Cohen's shell company, they haven't responded to what was this amended complaint which alleges defamation yet. They have not officially filed to compel arbitration.

Obviously Stormy Daniels and her lawyer, they want things to move around at a faster -- move forward at a faster clip here. What did you think about the judge deciding to put a temporary stop on this?

JACKSON: Well, a number of things. First of all, I would say that this suit poses a very dangerous area for the president, and the president has to get out of it and has to be talked out of it, because I'm one who believes that depositions will move forward get to that momentarily.

The fact of the matter is if you get a president to sit for depositions, that president has to tell the truth. And to the extent that you don't, you could have another Bill Clinton situation where remember, Bill Clinton, we should remind everyone, was impeached for a lie that he told during a deposition. So we may never see an answer to Avenatti's amended complaint asking for a motion to compel arbitration, because that might mean that there would be discovery and this president could, therefore, be deposed.

On the merits of the judge's decision, I think it was the right call. Why? If you look at Avenatti's motion, it really pre-supposes and otherwise suggests to the court, your honor, we believe that a motion to compel would be forthcoming. In the event that motion to compel is forthcoming, we believe we'd be entitled to discovery. This judge, again to Avenatti's point on a procedural basis said, not so fast. Once we get that motion to arbitration, I will decide whether you should get discovery but not until I get that motion.

So, it was a victory now, but it may not be a victory later. If Trump's people file a motion to compel, be careful what you wish for, they very well might be deposed at a future date.

KEILAR: All right, Joey Jackson, thank you so much.

And coming up, new controversy in President Trump's chaotic cabinet. The embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt now accused of using expensive government security detail, his expensive government security detail for personal trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl. We'll have that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:57:53] KEILAR: A new report is blasting EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's pricey 24-hour security detail. Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse calling out Pruitt for taking his round-the-clock EPA funded security guards with him on private trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl.

Joining me now is CNN Government Regulation Correspondent Renee Marsh. Now, there are several other cabinet members who are facing scrutiny over their travel expenses. Does that put more pressure on Pruitt here?

RENEE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, the bottom line is, the White House has expressed that they don't like these negative headlines, regardless of what it is. So they don't want, you know, headline after headline, negative headlines at that, regarding their cabinet members. But as it relates to Pruitt, Senator Whitehouse sent this letter to the EPA Inspector General's Office, and he alleges quite a few things in that letter.

He says that according to documents that he's received from an unnamed source that he now believes or he knows that Pruitt has been using that tax-funded -- taxpayer-funded paid security detail on non-EPA business. So that includes a family vacation to Disneyland, a family trip to the Rose Bowl, as well as trips home to Oklahoma. And what the senator is pushing for is for EPA Inspector General to look into this.

They're already looking into Pruitt's travel, they're already looking into his security detail, but what the senator is saying, now that we know he's using this for non-business purposes, he's really curious about -- and raising concerns about how much this detail is really costing.

KEILAR: The EPA is defending his use of security, right?

MARSH: They absolutely are. They're saying, look, he's faced an unprecedented number of death threats and other sort of threats when you compare it to other EPA administrators. I will say this sort of level of security, I mean, we're talking about dozens in his detail, is unprecedented, but they say that is due to the threat.

KEILAR: Interesting. Well, we know you'll be poking around on that, Renee Marsh. Thank you so much for that report.

And thank you for joining me at this hour. Wolf starts right now.