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Could Chris Christie Face Criminal Charges for "Bridge-gate?"; Christie Draws "Fat" Comments From Conservative Critics; CNN Films' "SOLE SURVIVOR" Tells Stories of Four Flight Crash Survivors; Cursing Toddler Now in Protective Custody

Aired January 9, 2014 - 15:30   ET


DARREN KAVINOKY, ATTORNEY: And I think that this is a case that critics will be crying "affluenza" about, because the defendant was -- is part of a family that is prominent and wealthy and influential, so there is a lot of subtext here.

Ultimately, though, it does come down to what can be proved in court. And so I very much understand why this case was not prosecuted.

But it seems like such a hollow gesture, the sleeves off of the special prosecutor's vest to say that now there is this criminal conviction that's been secured and somehow the victim and family should feel OK about it.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Darren Kavinoky and Sunny Hostin, thank you both very much.

Coming up, much more on the story of the day, Chris Christie in a 108- minute long news conference, potentially the biggest news conference of his political career, he took responsibility, he apologized, he fired a staff member, but could he himself face charges, not just civil, criminal.

Coming up next, we will talk live to this man, Alan Dershowitz, the prominent attorney who says criminal changes are indeed possible.

He'll walk us through and explain how, next.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. Bottom of the hour, I'm Brooke Baldwin.

In this whole traffic scandal rocking Chris Christie and his administration, we heard Christie say he did not know the traffic jams were planned, his word "blindsided."

He said his deputy chief of staff lied to him about her potential involvement revealed yesterday in those e-mails, those text messages.

So what did he do? He said he fired that aide.

Still a lot of legal questions and with us now from Miami, constitutional lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, the Alan Dershowitz. Nice to see you, sir. ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR, "TAKING THE STAND": Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: Let's begin with the column you wrote, because there are really two different narratives.

There's the political narrative and we're going to throw that to the side because we're going to talk legal, legal here.

You say he needs to lawyer up and prepare for worst-case scenarios. And you run through examples.

For example, the legal theories of causation and maybe criminal charges, explain to me what you mean.

DERSHOWITZ: The law works backward. It looks at a harm that has been caused. In this case, there is a woman, a 91-year-old woman who died.

Did she die as a result of the traffic jam? Would she have lived if the EMTs could have gotten to her sooner?

There were a lot of missed appointments, medical appointments, business appointments, children came to school late.

And, so, the law looks backward and says, what causes these harms?

And clearly the people who originated the traffic jams and approved them are guilty and probably guilty of crimes, because their actions led directly to very significant harms, particularly if they can demonstrate that the woman died as a result of the traffic jam.

If they are convicted or prosecuted, they very may well want to save themselves and say, wait a minute, don't believe what the governor said.

He is the one who actually created the atmosphere or told us or implied to us that it would be good to took revenge

And maybe we decided which way to take revenge, but it was following his orders to take revenge. This could put him at real risk.

BALDWIN: To be crystal clear then, if we take Chris Christie at his word and he said he knew nothing of this until yesterday morning at 8:50 in the morning, still, if he didn't directly cause harm, but indirectly caused this harm by shutting the lanes, potentially leading this to elderly woman's death, then he could face a criminal charge.

DERSHOWITZ: He could. And there's a concept known as willful blindness.


DERSHOWITZ: Don't tell me. I don't want to know. Just do what you have to do to take revenge. I don't want to know the details.

I remember King Henry II's famous statement to the knights, Who will rid me of this bothersome priest, which resulted in the death of Thomas Beckett.

We teach this stuff in our criminal law classes. There is a famous case where somebody called 911 and misdirected the police, telling them to go somewhere where there wasn't a crime. And as a result the police sped and somebody was killed.

The person who made the 911 call may very well be guilty of the crime and certainly civilly liable.

And they won't be able to get out of it by saying they were acting in governmental capacities, because it's not acting within your government capacity to take revenge on a political enemy.

So there are risks, both civil and criminal. Will they culminate? Nobody knows. It depends on what the evidence is.

It depends on whether the two people he fired decide to get revenge and say, wait a minute, we're not taking the fall for this whole thing. The governor told us to take revenge and we were following his orders.

BALDWIN: There's the issue of whether or not this plays out in trial in New York versus New Jersey and then you think of the jurors and who can't relate to sitting in a traffic jam.

So there are a lot of factors.

Alan Dershowitz --

DERSHOWITZ: Right, but it shouldn't be New York. I mean, it shouldn't be New Jersey.

It should be New York, because he has a history of taking revenge, and that's why the prosecution investigation should face in New York where he has no power and no authority.

BALDWIN: Alan Dershowitz, thank you very much. We'll see where this goes within the justice system as well as his future political career.

Coming up next, taking shots at Governor Christie, several media outlets take aim at the governor's weight in covering the scandals. Is it fair? Is it foul?

Plus, why some conservative hosts dislike Christie so much, that's next.

Plus, the family of the American held captive in North Korea is responding now to Dennis Rodman's apology for his outburst on CNN.


BALDWIN: By now I know you have seen the exchange between Chris Cuomo and Dennis Rodman who has been hanging out with his friend, dictator Kim Jong-un and some of this is former buddies.

We now know that Dennis Rodman apologized and submitted his apology and admitted to being drunk and Kenneth Bae is the American being held hostage who in the interview blamed Kenneth Bae for being in North Korea and put the blame on his end. We are now getting reaction from Kenneth Bae's family to Dennis Rodman's apology.

This is what the family said. I am quoting in part. "As Rodman has stated, being drunk and stressed is not an excuse for what he said, but we acknowledge he is human and all do make mistakes.

"We hope and pray that Rodman's comments and ongoing antics have not further endangered my brother."

That is exactly coming from the family of Kenneth Bae.

Moving on here, with the intense coverage of Governor Chris Christie's -- yes, it's being called -- "bridge-gate," many consider this a high- stakes scandal and one that's taken some low blows against him

Take a look at the coverage here. Just looking at the media coverage of this, this is from "New York Daily News," front cover, "Fat Chance Now, Chris."

And, again there is this. This is a tweet from Glenn Beck, "Fat and furious, revenge is sweet and probably salty." That's what it says in the little print below the headline.

Joining me now, Joe Concha, a columnist for "Mediaite." Joe, welcome. Nice to have you on.

JOE CONCHA, COLUMNIST, MEDIAITE: Thank you, Brooke. Good to see you.

BALDWIN: Can we just call that -- I mean, it's nastiness, Joe, nastiness coming from members of Christie's own political party.

CONCHA: Yeah, I get a kick out of the whole fat jokes with Chris Christie, because he's lost over 70 pounds. He's on his way to losing 140 pounds.

He talked during the press conference today about being at the gym earlier.

So, I just don't get when a guy gets lap-band surgery, takes responsibility, kind of like President Obama with smoking or George W. Bush never took another drink after age 40.

You have a problem, you take responsibility for it and yet still the fat jokes come even though Christie is clearly thinner. I just don't get that.

But, by the way, Glenn Beck isn't exactly the owner of an hourglass figure, so I love it when people don't exactly look like Michael Phelps or Tom Brady are taking pot shot, when they have a little pot belly themselves.

BALDWIN: Glenn Beck certainly has a lot to say when it comes to Chris Christie. This is actually what he said on CNN just last month.

Roll it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But let me ask you about this. Let me ask you about the real world. Chris Christie is the real world.

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, Chris Christie is a fat nightmare.


BALDWIN: Wow, right? I don't know how to formulate the words for the questions.

If he continues to lose weight, do they go away? If he were a woman, would we have this discussion?

CONCHA: Never if we were having a woman would we have this discussion.

What it's doing these days and particularly with these stories, it's overblown or the worst thing since Watergate.

With Christie, you would think it's a left and right issue. He is the top GOP contender as far as 2016.

A recent CNN poll has him beating Hillary Clinton in a general election.

BALDWIN: By two percentage points. Yeah.

COCHA: Exactly. So, he's a threat to the left as a Republican But where it's fascinating is when the right media jumps in.

I live in New Jersey and I see what he has done. He balanced budgets and taken on unions. If you are a Republican, you are like that's great.

With the tea party and the right flank, they see him as too liberal because of his stances on gay rights or the NRA.

Most personally, this will never go away more than the fat stuff, the embrace at Seaside Heights and the Jersey Shore of President Obama after Superstorm Sandy that put Obama over the top of Romney in 2012.

That was seen as political treason. They see that as unforgivable. He has never fully been accepted by the right wing of the party, despite being a conservative.

BALDWIN: Ah, the October Surprise of last year, right?

Joe Concha, thank you.

We should also point out that Glenn Beck is a libertarian.

Joe, thank you very much.

CONCHA: Thank you, Brooke.

Coming up next, amazing survival stories of people in major plane crashes, but were the only ones to actually survive. This is part of this film. It's called "SOLE SURVIVOR."

Plus this --




BALDWIN: We have an update today on this shocking video, shows adults cursing at this toddler.

Now, child protective services is involved.


BALDWIN: Imagine this, if you fly a lot, maybe it's something that you think about. Imagine your plane goes down and you're the only one to escape the wreckage alive.

That's the premise of "SOLE SURVIVOR," the stories of four people, each of them the only survivors of four major airplane crashes.

One of them is Jim Polehinke. He was actually co-pilot of the Comair 5191 flight that went down after takeoff from Kentucky back in 2006, killing everyone on board except him.

And he says his survivor's guilt put a deep strain on his marriage.


JIM POLEHINKE, SOLE SURVIVOR OF FLIGHT 5191: Couldn't imagine, one, somebody doing this on their own, and, two, I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

I've cried harder than any other man has ever cried or should be able to cry, and my wife was there to support me to where I could put my head on her shoulder and cry.

It's that constant struggle where my inner voice wants to keep going forward and the good voice says, Yes, come on. You have that inner strength to do it.

But the bad voice says, no, stay here. Have another shot of liquor.

I was doing a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and her being my caregiver at the time 24 hours, she was the one who had to put up with the intense roller coaster ride, if you will, of my feelings.

So has it gotten better in the five years? Yes. But do I still have the bad days that she still has to put up with? Yes.


BALDWIN: Forty-nine people on board that flight were killed, including the man sitting next to Jim Polehinke in the cockpit, Captain Jeffrey Clay.

His wife Amy Clay joins me now, along with the man who actually investigated the deadly Comair flight, Shawn Pruchnicki.

Amy, I want to begin with you because obviously you weren't on that flight but as a widow, did you suffer survivor's guilt yourself?

AMY CLAY, WIDOW OF FLIGHT 5191 PILOT: You know, I think that the knowledge of just even a small portion of the responsibility for the accident was something I had to wrestle with.

And then I felt strongly that I needed to stand up and do his part and do what he would have done to make things as right as he can.

Every day I think of everyone else who lost people on that flight and my heart just goes out to them. It's something that I've had to wrestle with for seven years now.

BALDWIN: How do you put your feet on the ground and move forward every single day?

CLAY: Well, honestly, in the beginning it was, because I have two amazing, amazing daughters.

My girls were 3-months-old and 2 when Jeff died and, you know, as a parent, any parent knows, you get up and do what has to be done every morning and I have had to a lot.

As time passes, life picks up and things get easier but my girls have been such blessings and have really given me something to live for and just to get me through the day-to-day.

BALDWIN: Thank goodness for those girls.

And, Shawn, just listening to Amy, it's been seven years, emotional.

How important is it for victims and families to really get the answers to the questions, you know, as far as what went wrong?


I think it's extremely important, Brooke, that they continue this pursuit and try to figure out what happened to their loved ones, what happened to that moment in time, and try to gain the answers to how these situations actually evolved.

How do we go from everything being fine to everything not being fine?

BALDWIN: Amy, I'm curious if you've been in touch with the man sitting next to your husband, with Jim, with others?

Is there a community of those who at least support one another in this such a unique situation?

CLAY: I stay in touch with Jim and with his wife. We didn't know them before the accident, but obviously, afterward, we had this bond.

No, I mean, I've spoken with the family or two here or there but I live further up in Kentucky and I never, ever want to put anybody in a position where they have to, I don't know, feel like I guess they have to be kind to us or make a choice about how they feel about us.

So I just kind of try to give them their space and always try to respect them and know that I have to do what I have to do and they need to do what they need to do. I hope that makes sense.

BALDWIN: I think it does, as best as I can possibly understand not being in your shoes.

But, Amy, we appreciate you, and the best to you and your daughters, and Shawn Pruchnicki, thank you very much for joining me.

And please watch "SOLE SURVIVOR." It airs tonight on CNN at 9:00 Eastern.


BALDWIN: A toddler is in protective custody after a video showed him getting brutally cussed out by adults. The toddler wearing only diapers, he curses right back to the adults.

Authorities said they found nothing criminal, but found safety concerns as they were visiting the home so they took three other kids into custody as well.

Don Lemon, my friend Don Lemon, has been all over this on "OutFront" all week. You just got off the phone with protective custody authorities.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: They can't give me much information about where they are, but you laid it out there for me.

This was initiated by the police and then the prosecutor's office looked at it, determined there was no criminal activities.

But then police determined along with child protective services that these children -- that they should go out and probably remove this child from the home, and when they got there, they saw three other children.

What they are saying is that, this affidavit to remove the children, the affidavit was not filed by the police because it was not -- there was nothing criminal found.


LEMON: So if it is found by police and it's criminal, they have 48 hours that they can hold these children in protective services. And then after that, there has to be a court hearing to continue it. But since it was filed by protective service, now, Brooke, there has to be a court hearing to determine what should happen to these children next.

So now it appears that they may be kind of in the system and it's going to take a while to find of figure out what happens next.

BALDWIN: Let's back up because we've talked to the police union that posted this video on the web side and they said, quote, it shows a cycle of violence and thuggery.

You've been talking this week about race, so in your discussions, what role has race played in the authority's response to the video?

LEMON: People are on opposite ends of the issue. This one video only shows a little black kid and so, therefore, it shows this black kid in a bad life and so it does that for many other black children.

My argument and other people's argument has been that the thug culture is not just about African-Americans, right?

It is not solely in the African-American community because I hear people who curse their kids out and say, you know, ungodly words to their kids and their kids say ungodly words back.

BALDWIN: White kids, it's all over Vine, social media.

LEMON: Absolutely. So the concern is that police were acting as therapists or sociologists or what have you in this particular case and people don't believe that's the role of the police department.

It wasn't the police department that did it. It was the police union saying, look, this is what we're up against and the head of the union talked to me.

We'll have an update for you tonight at 7:00 Eastern.

BALDWIN: We'll see you at 7:00 ,"OutFront."

Don Lemon, thank you very much.

And thank you for watching. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We'll send you to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.