CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Cruz Drops Canadian Citizenship; Tracking Boston Bombing Suspect; Greenwald, Partner Challenge Detention; Keeping Hunger Strikers Alive; Neighbor's Letter Says Euthanize Autistic Boy.

Aired August 20, 2013 - 11:30   ET

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


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The subtext of the whole Obama thing as far as I was concerned was just racism and bigotry of Donald Trump and others who --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Could that be at play with Ted Cruz? His father was Cuban.

TOOBIN: We'll see. This is all just getting started. Most Americans don't know who Ted Cruz is.

BANFIELD: They're going to. That's for sure.

TOOBIN: But Barack Obama was already the nominee of his party. Later, the president. Everyone knew who he was.

BANFIELD: Just so anybody that is curious, if you wonder what the Constitution says, it's Article 2, Section 1, and the part that pertains to this is, "No person except a natural born citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution shall be eligible to the office of president."

No person except a natural born citizen or a citizen of the United States at the time of this" -- quickly.

TOOBIN: That second clause is interesting because George Washington --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: They were all British citizens because --

BANFIELD: That's right.

TOOBIN: There was no such thing as the United States.

BANFIELD: They had to make accommodation for the first few.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: No kidding.

All right. Thank you, Jeffrey. We'll continue to watch. By the way, Donald Trump who was so nutty about the birther issue, when he was asked about this said probably not, when it came to whether Ted Cruz --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I broke my rule of not mentioning Donald Trump ever again, and see.

BANFIELD: He may have caught himself. He'll have to stick with his words when he said Ted Cruz is probably not eligible.

Jeffrey, thank you.

Other news I need to give you. Moments ago, Andrea Sneiderman was sentenced to five years for her role in her husband's death. He was murdered by Sneiderman's boss. That was adjudicated. The jury found her guilty yesterday of nine of 13 counts. Not any of them murder. Mostly perjury and obstruction of justice charges. She took the stand today to apologize and to say that she never had an affair. She also asked to go home to her two children. The jury said Sneiderman lied to police during the investigation. By the way, five years. She could have faced up to 60 if she had been facing some of those sentences consecutively.

Also this morning, triple murder suspect, Michael Madsen, appeared in court in east Cleveland, Ohio, and waived his right to a speedy trial. Prosecutors haven't decided if they'll go after the death penalty in his case. The judge also ruled today that Madsen will be able to wear civilian clothes instead of the orange prison jump suit at some of the future hearings. Unusual, because a lot of times they are not to wear those things in court.

Remember back in April when Boston and some of its suburbs were on lockdown? Police finally tracking down the marathon bombing suspects? One of them hiding in a covered boat? We are learning a lot more details about the kind of injuries Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sustained and other things after his arrest. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We are learning more about the condition of suspected Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and what condition he was in when he was captured by police after that incredible shootout and manhunt. All of it he ended up in a covered boat in someone's yard.

CNN's Poppy Harlow is here.

Some of the injuries that are listed are amazing. I don't think many of us knew.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We didn't know extent of the injuries. These are two court documents just unsealed late yesterday coming from the U.S. attorney's office there in Boston.

Let's talk first about the injuries. A bedside hearing, happened at the hospital when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had his lawyer there and trauma surgeon and judge there holding this hearing if you will. Severe injuries, multiple gunshot wounds.

BANFIELD: Look at the pictures.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: That's surprising, seeing pictures.

HARLOW: Exactly, that we've seen. Let's throw up there the description of the injuries coming from his trauma surgeon. The most serious injury was a gunshot wound through the left side of his mouth that exited the lower left side of his face. The surgeon called this a high-powered injury. It injured his skull base. There was a fracture there. Injuries to middle ear, the C1 vertebrae, the pharynx and mouth, also multiple gunshot wounds to extremities.

It's believed that these occurred in that shootout a few days before he was captured by police in Watertown, but we don't know when for sure when injuries were sustained because we know that gunshots were fired when the boat was surrounded. That's not clear here.

BANFIELD: Also about the notion when I hear about an injury that comes from inside the mouth and outside, I think self-inflicted gunshot wound. Maybe he was trying to commit suicide.

HARLOW: That's a great question with very little answers. All through these documents, it doesn't mention anything to this effect this could have been self-inflicted gunshot wound. I called my sources. They're not talking about that. That is a question that remains to be a question. The doctor did say that he was lucid enough in this hearing to answer questions and that's important, hearing the trauma surgeon saying these are wounds but he's lucid enough to know what's going on.

BANFIELD: One of my inside source at the hospital said many of the answers were nodding. They weren't vocal at the beginning.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes. I think just one vocal no.

BANFIELD: All right, Poppy. Good. Nice work getting through those. I know that was a quick read.

Good stuff. Thank you.

A reporter linked to NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, says that he plans to release even more secret documents after his partner was detained for nine hours and searched at Heathrow Airport and all of his electronics were taken. We'll take you live to London next to sort through this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: A menacing threat for the man who broke the news about the secret U.S. surveillance programs. He was "Guardian" newspaper reporter, Glenn Greenwald, and he says he's about to get more aggressive about releasing government secrets after his partner was taken into custody by British police. His partner's name is David Miranda, and he was detained at London's Heathrow Airport. The police seized his laptop and his phone and took a flash drive and his electronic games, too. Now Miranda is taking legal action against the British government.

Joining me now from London is our CNN senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance.

Matthew, this seems to be getting pretty ugly with Glenn Greenwald focusing his energies on releasing classified material pertaining to England now. What's been the reaction in London?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I spoke over the past view minutes to (inaudible) and they haven't released reaction to that threat. Glenn Greenwald has an e-mail to Reuters News Agency that said he would not be releasing any documents he wasn't otherwise going to publish as an act of revenge. He's been seeking to play that down.

There has been reaction here, Ashleigh, to the detention of David Miranda both from British authorities who say it was totally justified and from human rights activists who say this was something that was unnecessary and abuse of anti-terrorism laws in this country.

As you mentioned, of course, the lawyers representing David Miranda say they will be challenging that detention in the courts very shortly.

BANFIELD: What are people there saying about this? Do they feel as though this is legitimate that this person was detained under these anti-terror laws? Are they saying it's legitimate that Greenwald plans to release even further documents about the U.K.?

CHANCE: I think it's a very divisive issue. There are those, of course, on one side of the argument that believe that these documents should never have been released and that business at the security services should be kept as secret as possible and that people like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, the "Guardian" journalist that broke the story about the NSA surveillance in the United States and operations going on in Britain as well, that they should be silenced. It has become an issue of press freedom. It's become an issue of freedom of speech as well and getting to the truth, and so I think opinion is very much divided on what Glenn Greenwald may still have in terms of scandals and truths about the British security services.

BANFIELD: It's interesting.

Matthew Chance, live from London. Thank you for that.

Coming up next, you have probably seen TV programs where inmates locked up in solitary go crazy and endanger the guards. Some inmates are hunger striking and some could die and a judge has ruled what the medical personnel can do to intervene. You may be surprised at what the judge has said. We'll explain it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: A California judge has ruled that prisons can force feed inmates on a six-week-long hunger strike to keep them from dying, according to Reuters. The judge said that it even applies to prisoners who signed a "Do Not Resuscitate" order at the time they underwent this strike. Typically, prisoners would not try to save an inmate with a DNR. Prison officials say some inmates were coerced into this hunger strike against their will. Officials say it hasn't resorted to forced feeding yet but it might have to. The California Department of Corrections says nearly 200 inmates are refusing their meals. Half of them started six weeks ago. They're protesting solitary confinement and some of the health care issues in the prison that they're in -- or prisons that they're in.

Our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, joins me now about this case.

You see people that signed their own orders. How is someone to determine whether they are coerced into a "Do Not Resuscitate" and now can you go against someone's own wishes regardless if they are coerced?

TOOBIN: This case is before Felton Henderson. What he's trying to do is honor the inmates' desires but only if they are really the inmates' desires, and what he has to do is do an inquiry into each inmate who signs one of these DNRs and what were the circumstances. Get an explicit affirmation from the inmate this is what they wanted to do.

BANFIELD: Basically, investigate to find out if there's coercion.

TOOBIN: Of course.

BANFIELD: He can't possibly know that any or all of these inmates were coerced and yet they can be force fed.

TOOBIN: That's right. They can. The government is not obliged to assist in a suicide but they do believe -- a DNR, if voluntarily entered into, will be honored by most federal judges but this is a very squirrely area of the law. In Guantanamo, there are hunger strikes going on right now, and there, they are force feeding all of them. That's a straight category. That's not part of the federal judicial system.

BANFIELD: Bigger picture, these prisoners say the solitary confinement lockups goes on for years and years in some cases. They are protesting, but this is -- they're not using the words "cruel and unusual" but why don't they take this to the legal venue. Why don't they sue? I know a driver of bin Laden who sued Donald Rumsfeld and went to the Supreme Court and won. Hamdan (ph) versus Rumsfeld. Why don't they do that?

TOOBIN: Remember, the California prison system has already been found to be in violation of the United States Constitution by the Supreme Court just in the past year or two. They have repeatedly told the California system, Jerry Brown, the governor, you have to release some people because the prisons are so horribly overcrowded. This case is not technically about overcrowding. It's more about health care and solitary confinement. The idea you can snap your fingers and file a lawsuit, it doesn't work that way. It's a lot harder. They're so frustrated and angry they're taking matters into their own hands.

BANFIELD: I've worked those TV shows when guys in lockup do look insane.

TOOBIN: Yes. It is.

BANFIELD: It does look like cruel and unusual punishment when it drives them mad.

TOOBIN: Pelican Bay, which is -- that's not where this is but Pelican Bay is the supermax of California, 23 hours a day. It does seem --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Unless somebody thinks I'm soft on crime, no, that's not the issue here. Watching someone dissolve into madness like that, endanger guards and other prisoners, that's the concern.

Jeffrey Toobin, stick around. I have some other things to ask you about, including this next story.

A vicious -- when I say vicious, euphemism -- a vicious letter sent from a mother to the grandmother of a teenager who suffers from autism. You won't believe the harsh accusations and the words that this sender suggests to this grandmother, like euthanize the boy. I'm not kidding. You'll hear it when we're on the case, next, on the "Legal View."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: This one might be from the shake your head file. You won't believe what a person wrote. It was written anonymously about an autistic child. A neighbor sent a hate letter in the mail about their 13--year-old son. Maxwell plays ball in the backyard and the neighbor got so upset about the noise that she wrote this extraordinarily cruel letter and it really defies logic. I want to read part of it because it goes and on: "I hate people like you who believe just because you have a special-needs kid you're entitled to special treatment. God. Do every one in our community a huge favor and move!!! Vamose!!! Scram!!! Move away and get out of this type of neighborhood setting!!! Go live in trailer in the wilds or something with your wild-animal kid. Nobody wants you living here and they don't have the guts to tell you!!! Do the right thing and move or euthanize him!!! Either way, we're all better off!!! Sincerely, one pissed-off mother."

While you germinate for a little bit, I want to bring in CNN's senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin; and attorney and former federal prosecutor, Faith Jenkins; and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Mark Nejame.

Where to begin?

Let me start with you because the Canadian authorities are taking this very seriously, Jeff. They are looking into the possibility that this might constitute criminal behavior and a threat of some kind. I know you've looked into the Canadian law. What have you found?

TOOBIN: Canada doesn't have the First Amendment. In the United States, I don't think this would be grounds for any sort of case. The First Amendment allows you to say some hateful things and I think it would cover this letter. In Canada, it's different. It's not as protective. If you could identify the sender, which hasn't happened so far, there could be some sort of harassment filed -- harassment case filed against the author.

BANFIELD: OK. Nothing that rises to the level of say a criminal threat?

TOOBIN: No. There is no threat there. It's just denunciation in the most hateful, horrible way.

BANFIELD: You're a former prosecutor, what do you think?

FAITH JENKINS, ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: If you look at the wording, "move or euthanize him," you could look at that as being more than just an idle threat. When you look at the overall tone of the letter and the speech used in the letter and the level of anger expressed in the letter, I think that's what investigators will possibly look at.

BANFIELD: What about just the notion, Mark, that this is an anonymous letter. And let me explain that this is a grandmother's home. The mother of Maxwell and the father work and so, often times, Maxwell plays in the grandmother's backyard a couple days a week. It was the grandmother who was the recipient of this. What about the forensics in actually finding the sender? It is that tough, is it?

MARK NEJAME, ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: First of all, you go and try to get finger print, all that's been contaminated. You won't get anything.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Why? Why do you say --

(CROSSTALK)

NEJAME: It was handled. They're looking at it and passing it around. That's why you immediate preserve a crime scene. Then you even get into the issue about knocking on neighbor's doors. It's not going to happen.

BANFIELD: It's got to be someone within earshot. This whiner says she can't stand the sound.

NEJAME: Of course. It isn't even a crime to allow -- this is a hateful, gutless, horrendous letter. Is it against the law? Canada does not have the protection that we have in this country. This would not be a consideration in this country. In Canada, threats can constitute a crime. Threats in the United States are not going to be a crime for narrow circumstances we won't get into today.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: It's suggesting that this woman euthanize her child, and, in the sender's words, "Send his non-retarded body parts to science." You mentioned harassment, maybe some kind of civil suit, anything?

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: How about a restraining order?

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I think you used some of your Canadian detective skills. You pointed out in the letter, there are several spellings that are American spellings.

BANFIELD: Yes.

TOOBIN: No "U" in labor that -- rather than Canadian spellings, which would seem to narrow the suspects, especially if you just went through the neighborhood.

BANFIELD: Can I tell you --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Yes, this person who wrote this letter is such an idiot. Everything is misspelled.

(LAUGHTER)

I've got to be totally honest. Total moron who wrote it.

TOOBIN: They could identify the person and subject them to public criticism, humiliation. That might be the best resolution.

(CROSSTALK)

NEJAME: Whether they allow intentional infliction and emotional distress, or work on some kind of crime or tort in that regard, that might do it. But the reality of it is that --

BANFIELD: I got to wrap. I'm sorry. Only because I really love Suzanne Malveaux.

(LAUGHTER)

She's coming up next.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you very much, Mark Nejame, Faith Jenkins and Jeffrey Toobin. It's been great to have you.

Thank you all for watching as well. Like I said, AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: A senseless killing is rocking two continents. A promising college baseball player from Australia is dead. Police say he was the victim of a random act of violence.

The U.S. takes a stand against Egypt. The Obama administration decides to withhold some aid for now.