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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

American Teacher Shot Dead in Benghazi, Fast-Food Workers Protest; Mexican Police Recover Stolen Radioactive Material; Court Documents -- Toronto Mayor Tried to Buy Back Incriminating Video; College Football Star Faces Rape Allegations

Aired December 5, 2013 - 11:00   ET

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


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: It is not just cold and miserable out there. It is downright dangerous. And if that's not bad enough already, another wave of snow and ice is right behind this one. Find out how much worse it could get.

Also ahead, a possible national championship, the Heisman trophy, and a young man's freedom all on the line. We're about to find out if Florida State's star quarterback will be cleared or charged with rape.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Thursday, December the 5th. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

I want to start with news that's just developing now. We're going to begin with reports of an American teacher shot dead in Libya.

Reuters says it happened this morning in Benghazi, a troubled city forever linked to the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in 2012.

And this follows a chilling new Web posting from the American-born mouthpiece for Al-Qaeda.

Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is following all the developments. Can you get us up to speed on what we know about the shooting, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know the shooting took place in Benghazi. The young teacher was exercising, his regular, routine morning exercises, we're told, when he was killed.

This comes hard on the heels just a couple of days after Adam Gadahn, the American Al-Qaeda spokesman, released a 17-minute Internet posting in Arabic, but calling on Libyans and other Muslims, but specifically Libyans, to rise up in vengeance against the United States and Americans in Libya because of what he said was the wrongful arrest about two months ago of Abu Anas al-Libi.

You'll remember, al-Libi, brought here to the United States in connection with attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Godan calling for an attack on American interests, there isn't a claim of responsibility yet. We don't know if it's Al-Qaeda. Shocking similarities with what happened with Chris Stevens, remembering back to that last year, a couple of days before Chris Stevens killed, the head of Al-Qaeda at that time, calling for an attack on American interests inside Libya for the killing by drone of Al-Qaeda's number two at that time, a Libyan.

So there are very big similarities here, Al-Qaeda's spokesman calling for attacks on Americans in Libya and within days, actions.

We don't know if this is linked yet to the death of this young teacher, but those similarities raise a lot of concern right now.

BANFIELD: I want to be really clear, because this is so early in this story. And the minute you mention the word "Benghazi," hackles go up.

Is there any possibility at this point, is anyone entertaining the notion at this point this could be a random crime against an American, or is it looking more and more that this is a targeted crime and that that American was set for that kind of a crime?

ROBERTSON: It could be a random crime. Absolutely, Benghazi is the type of place where a random crime could happen.

What concerns me, the details that I just talked about, about the threat and the linkages we've seen to previous threats.

The other thing that concerns me is when people have described here this young man going through his regular morning exercises, he had a routine. This is what is the implication of what people are saying.

And we know that terrorists studied the routines of people's behavior before attacks, so it's sounding less like random, he was out on the streets and somebody went past him and just decided to kill him.

And certainly there are Westerners who visit Benghazi. We know it's a dangerous place.

But those -- these will be the issues I'm -- that raise my concerns right now. But you rightfully do ask that question. Could it be random? We're still waiting for more information to become clear.

BANFIELD: OK, Nic Robertson on the story for us, live. Thank you for that.

You may have to cross a picket line today if you are going through a drive-thru, a fast-food drive-thru, because we could see the biggest protests yet by fast-food workers and their supporters against what they consider non-living wages.

Right now the median fast-food wage for people working in those restaurants is about nine bucks an hour.

Now that is above the federal minimum, but it's well below the federal poverty line for a family of four.

CNN's Alison Kosik is spending the morning outside a Wendy's in Brooklyn.

Big question for you, because there are those who say that's crazy they make so little money, and there are other whose say that's crazy we're suggesting this as an all-out strike, that there are a lot of people coming in who aren't the workers that are pushing the strike, more like labor organizers.

What are you seeing out on the street?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Physically out on the street protests have yet to begin here, at least in Brooklyn at this Wendy's.

Across the country and closer in toward New York City, other protests have been going on all morning.

Now, you're talking about that $9 minimum wage -- the -- what -- $9 that the average, minimum-wage worker earns. Whether or not that's fair, you know, there are so many sides to this issue.

The critics certainly are very outspoken, and a lot of the critics are the businesses, the restaurants coming out and saying that you see this federal minimum wage get as high as $15 an hour, they say it could be bad for business, because what it would wind up doing is food costs would go up, that they'd have to go ahead and pass those costs onto consumers.

They also say it would be a job killer because these businesses would be forced to get rid of their employees and automate those positions.

And we're already seeing a lot of that happening. I don't know if you've seen this, Ashleigh. Many airports have it where you go and you order on a tablet. You don't even have any human interaction and then your food comes up. So that could be the wave of the future if minimum wage does, in fact, go up, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And they're not just asking for money, as I understand it, right?

KOSIK: Right. They do want to have the right to form a union without having any kind of repercussions with that.

But I think really the headline that they're going for is they want a wage that they can even have a chance of living on, you know, $15 an hour, because what they're making right now, many say, is that they just can't pay their bills and they have to have one job, have two jobs, have three jobs just to make ends meet.

And you see this sort of movement really gathering steam lately. And many people are wondering why all of a sudden is this becoming such a headline issue?

It's because of the recession. It had a really -- a lot to do with it. eight million jobs were lost during the recession. A lot of those jobs haven't come back.

And usually when you think of these minimum-wage jobs, many think that they were put in place for teenagers, young 20-year-olds. Now you're seeing 25 and up having to take these minimum wage positions, Ashleigh.

KOSIK: And that's hard to look at a family of four trying to survive on that. Many of them are on public assistance as well, so I can see sides. both weighing in on this.

Alison Kosik, watching it for us, thank you for that.

I have some other news that I want to bring to your attention, as well. This one got us really nervous yesterday. Police in Mexico have now found that stolen truck that contained radioactive cobalt-60, the stuff that you can use in a dirty bomb.

They've also recovered the highly dangerous cargo. Seriously, not only the dirty bomb, but also just the potential of the sale of that material to others who are not friends of America.

Two thieves are still on the loose. Still, though, they apparently opened the packaging and they, themselves, very well could be sick.

Also making headlines, in just a few hours, Florida prosecutors are set to announce whether or not the star FSU quarterback, Jameis Winston, will face rape charges.

A fellow student says the Heisman Trophy favorite raped her at an off- campus apartment last December. We're going to bring you that press conference, live at 2:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

Toronto's crack-smoking mayor, you thought he was out of the news? Beg to differ. He cannot get out of hot water.

New court documents suggest that he may have actually tried to buy back that incriminating video allegedly showing him hauling off a crack pipe by offering cash and a car.

His rebuttal to that, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: It is Canada time, the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto making headlines again, as if he ever really left us.

According to some newly released court documents, gang members have said that Rob Ford tried to buy the video that reportedly shows him smoking crack-cocaine several months before it even became public.

A gang member is alleging in a phone conversation that was intercepted by the police. So this is not someone making big, wide public allegations. He's just talking to someone on the phone, and the cops are listening in.

The allegation is that Ford offered five thousand bucks and a car in exchange for that very dangerously damning videotape. The gang member allegedly scoffed at that bid, too, indicated instead he'd be asking somewhere in the $150,000 range for that very valuable piece of videotape.

For his part, the mayor, Mayor Ford, angrily responded to these new allegations. It's weird, because they're kind of allegations that someone didn't even know they were making. They were just being overheard.

He responded to it this morning during a call-in, an appearance on a sports talk radio station. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: Number one, that's an outright lie.

And, number two, you can talk to my lawyers about it, but I'm here to talk football, guys. So if you want to talk football, talk football.

If you want to talk about other things, then, unfortunately, I'm going to have to let you go.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BANFIELD: There you go. Magic, huh?

Here with the LEGAL VIEW, CNN legal correspondent Jean Casarez on the left, CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos on the right, like I needed to tell you who was who.

Jean, let me start with you. While this has all been very funny and annoying and a nuisance for the people of Toronto, it's now actually pretty serious, because if we're talking about the potential for blackmail, drug gangs being able to blackmail a mayor or at least keep him at bay and keep officers of the city at bay, this could be massive.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: You're exactly right.

And the way this came about, it's so ironic, because the Toronto police were trying to get to this drug gang, alleged gang of drugs. Fifty-nine phones were tapped because they went to a judge and they got the wiretaps.

So, as the conversations are going on, they suddenly hear the name of Toronto's mayor. And we don't think at this point, from the transcripts, that they knew ahead of time, the police, that the mayor was involved.

But it was that allegation of the video, and this would have been in March that he knew about this alleged crack video, that he offered to get some money to get the video, $5,000 and a car.

BANFIELD: OK, so let's be real clear. The mayor was never the target. He was not being wiretapped. The mayor was not the target, people, and the things that were said about the mayor, those people knew nothing about who was listening in.

And what they said, so much pictures of Rob Ford doing the "hezza." I did not know until today that "hezza" is actually heroin.

And Bloods members -- Dixon Bloods members talking about Ford's smoking their rocks again. That's a term for crack. They were talking so liberally about the material that they had.

Danny, does it make a difference that these are claims that are being made without the people knowing that they're making them? Basically they have no idea that they're making these claims. They're just talking amongst themselves.

In terms of the credibility of what's being said?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. This is what we call wiretapping. And it's very similar in Canada as it is here in the United States.

That means these agents were listening in on these candid conversations, and if what I'm reading is true, and Jean echoed this, this means that these guys, the feds, were essentially doing a valid wiretap, and then all of a sudden, can you imagine the moment in the white panel van parked outside, the moment when they realize, hey Bob, is that the mayor?

CASAREZ: Are they talking about the Rob Ford?

CEVALLOS: Are they talking about Rob Ford?

CASAREZ: No.

CEVALLOS: Can you imagine the hustle and bustle, the chaos that ensued when they realized that they had potentially the mayor on the hook? If that's just true, they stumbled upon his crack purchases, there's a problem.

However, I will say that for a conspiracy to exist, you need more than the minimum number. In other words, the purchaser and buyer of crack does not a conspiracy make. So I think saying he's a co-conspirator with these guys is not appropriate at this time.

BANFIELD: And we should be very clear, Jean, this is where your legal expertise -- Jean is a lawyer, so she knows what she's talking about -- comes into play. This did not lead to any charges for the mayor today. We don't know what's coming down the pike. If there is any criminal action taken against the mayor, this stuff could very well be evidence that jurors hear in a courtroom, and could very much weigh toward what they feel about his guilt or innocence?

CASAREZ: It could be exhibit A for prosecutors. We were talking about this before the segment. Now, you need corroboration as far as any alleged crimes. We were talking about tampering with evidence, tampering with witnesses, and Danny brought up such a great point. The mayor didn't know there was an investigation that was going on. So, can you even be charged with that? I think, Ashleigh, people are saying why hasn't the mayor been charged with something? I think we now have insight that they knew much more than we did up until today when these transcripts were released and that investigation may be ongoing.

BANFIELD: And other than the big headline of him offering money and a car to get the tape, that the phone calls reveal we have loads of photos on this guy that they clearly -- these are Somalis, that they clearly articulated, this drug gang, were valuable and could be an insurance policy to protect them in their criminal behavior. It is so distressing to see those things. I think you're going to be back, talking about this one again.

(CROSSTALK)

CASAREZ: To be continued.

BANFIELD: Something tells me -- to be continued is the perfect tag line on this one. Jean Casarez, Danny Cevallos, thank you.

If you live anywhere from central California to southern Ohio, you probably have a big weather problem today. And the bad part is, it's probably not the worst. The worst is still to come. Believe it or not, these scenes from northern Minnesota are remarkable. Looks like a scene out of the movie "Fargo."

Not even the worst yet, because when it comes to winter storms, half an inch of ice can do a lot more damage than a big foot of snow. Scenes like these from 2007 very much in the forecast today, all the way from Dallas to Little Rock to Memphis. I haven't even mentioned the brutal cold yet. Jennifer Gray is going to do that. She's holding down the fort at the CNN weather center in Atlanta.

I used to live in Dallas; four and a half awesome years, Jennifer, and I remember when there was an ice prediction, everybody went on red alert.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's so true. Dallas, I'm from Shreveport. It's the same thing. You get ice in the south and the entire city shuts down. That's what we're looking at over the next 24 to 36 hours.

Right now, we're seeing ice, freezing rain anywhere from St. Louis all the way down through the south, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Dallas, you haven't seen it yet. By the time the sun goes down this afternoon, that's when we'll start to see the ice accumulate in Dallas. We could see anywhere from half an inch all the way up to maybe three-quarters of an inch of ice there.

As we go down to the south, we are going to continue to see the ice and snow anywhere from Albuquerque all the way through portions of west Texas, El Paso seeing the rain right now. As we go through the next 24 to 36 hours, the ice forecast anywhere from Dallas through Little Rock, Paducah, half an inch of ice. This could do a lot of damage. We're talking about downed trees, power outages possible. All of the above as we go through late on Friday.

BANFIELD: Jennifer, keep an eye for us, if you will. Thank you for that. He is the quarterback of the number one college football team in the nation. And he's also being considered for the Heisman trophy. Jameis Winston is being investigated for rape right now and his life could take a huge turn in a matter of hours. Details are coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Florida State University star quarterback Jameis Winston will learn today if he is going to face charges for allegedly raping a fellow student last December. He is the Heisman trophy favorite, and led the Seminoles to a number one ranking this season, but an investigation has really overshadowed a lot of that success.

Prosecutor handling the case is making an announcement in about a couple of hours from now, as 2:00 pm eastern time. We'll bring that to you live. In the meantime, joining me now is CNN's Martin Savidge and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.

Marty, let me begin with you, if I can. Maybe a little bit of background will help to get us to why we are in a case that is a year old, and here we are just about to find out if there are charges against this young man. Why the delay?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hello, Ashleigh. Nice to see you. Good question and one of many questions that continues to hang over this case that may be answered this afternoon.

Remember, this was an incident that was reported by the young woman to authorities December 7th last year. So, a year later. Why has it taken so long? The local authorities in Tallahassee began investigating and they say that in February of this year, the young woman broke off contact with them and said that she did not want to proceed forward with the charges.

The attorney that represents Winston said, in his mind, that meant the end of the investigation. Suddenly that investigation, which up until that point had not been known publicly, was made public in November. Once the media got a hold of it and it got out there, the state's prosecutor's office said, that's strange. Why didn't we heard anything about this case? Normally we should get that police report. They launched their own investigation and the results are what we're expecting at 2:00 this afternoon.

BANFIELD: Stand by if you will, Martin.

Paul, I want to ask you about the handling of this case. The prosecutors didn't get their hands on it for such a long time. Investigators doing presumably thorough work, you would hope, in any case. There will be a lot of people out there who will say a big star athlete? Sure, why not drag your feet. Sure, why not wait until the Heisman trophy is announced, that kind of thing. Is that fair, given when the star power landed in this man's lap and when the crime allegedly happened? Is there a timing issue with respect to that?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the crime allegedly happened in December last year, of 2012. He wasn't as big a star as he is now. But he was widely considered one of the top high school football players in America.

BANFIELD: So when I say it's plausible, anybody who feel that is way it's not crazy to think --

CALLAN: It's not crazy to think he was given special treatment because he's a star. But of course, on the other hand, people who say these football players get subject to false claims all the time, professional basketball players, professional football players, they're saying --

BANFIELD: College lacrosse players.

CALLAN: College lacrosse players as well. Just because a claim is made doesn't mean that somebody's guilty. Now, we have to see what went on behind the scenes. What I find to be suspicious and disturbing is that the prosecutor doesn't seem to have been involved in this at an early stage. Usually when you have a high-profile suspect --

BANFIELD: They would be in there?

CALLAN: They bring them in right away. I'm not hearing that. We'll hear it today probably in the press conference as to the backstory of the investigation.

BANFIELD: Okay, and one of the investigators' defenses in all that criticism is that the accuser in all of this was not on board at the beginning. She turned away from them. I think her camp is refuting that. But that makes a big difference. You cannot go ahead with these kinds of prosecutions unless you have the goods.

CALLAN: Very, very true. She claims that she made a complaint to the police and that the police told her she would be dragged through the mud and she would be destroyed because she was going after a famous football player and she then got cold feet and backed out.

BANFIELD: This is the discrepancy. If the police are saying the accuser backed off, we can't do a case without an accuser telling us what happened, and the accuser is saying, what do you mean I backed off? I was told back off. You're going to ruin a young man's dream. That's, essentially, where the heart of the argument --

CALLAN: That's right, and that's the whole can of soup. If they talked her out of prosecuting, that's absolutely wrong. A lot of times, I must say - which gets back to the prosecutor -- if the prosecutor is in play at the beginning of the case, a prosecutor may say, hey, if you were raped, you're going to testify in front of a grand jury. We're going to go forward with the case. A lot of times they reassure victims to try to go forward with a case that otherwise would be dropped.

BANFIELD: I have to wrap it up. You have to tell victims that, right? You can't just throw them into a lion's den and shock them with the idea that now I have to be public in front of the world? You do have to tell them these things.

CALLAN: But it's how you tell them. There's nothing wrong with telling them this is going to be a tough road but we'll stick by you if you want to go forward with the charges. That's what the cops should be saying.

BANFIELD: Paul Callan, thank you. Stick around, I have other questions for you a little later in the program, and Martin Savidge, as always, great reporting, and thank you for that. And you can watch the Florida state attorney's announcement at 2:00 eastern time right here, live, on CNN. I think there will be a lot of people tuning in to find out exactly what will happen there.

If you thought you had privacy, even traveling overseas, think again. A new report indicates that the NSA -- yep, good old NSA, can track your movements and your relationships. And it's all because of what you carry in your purse or your pocket. We'll get the LEGAL VIEW on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)