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FBI's Election Surprise Draws Swift Criticism; Poster Child of War on Drugs Speaks Out; Saving the "Last Ocean". Aired 11-11:30p ET

Aired October 31, 2016 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:20] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, the FBI obtains a warrant to search e-mails found on a computer belonging to Hillary

Clinton's top aide and her estranged husband. But just seven days away from the U.S. election, has the FBI overstepped the mark. The former White

House ethics lawyer Richard Painter and the former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes join the show.

Also ahead, the story of Richard Winrow, one of hundreds of U.S. prisoners granted clemency by President Obama with ten years left on his life

sentence without parole.


RICHARD WINROW, PRISONER GRANTED CLEMENCY BY PRESIDENT OBAMA: Young people make mistakes, but as a young man that's not the end because there's always

an opportunity to become a better person. And that's what kept me humble for 30 years.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Now, they call it an October surprise.

Some late-breaking reveal that could upend a U.S. presidential election.

Actually, this time there have been many of them. October started with Donald Trump's leaked tax returns, released some pages that showed he

barely paid any tax over nearly two decades. Then came his lewd description of sexually mauling women, and now this, fallout for Hillary

Clinton from the latest FBI bombshell after Director James Comey formally notified Congress of a new trove of e-mails which he says were found during

a different investigation on a device used by Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner, her top aide and disgraced sexting husband.

But Comey himself admitted in his letter to Congress that the FBI, quote, "Cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant to

Hillary Clinton." A chorus of voices, a bipartisan chorus has since emerged to blast Comey's decision to make the information public with so

little detail and so close to an important election.

The Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid has even suggested that Comey may have broken the law by violating a statute that prohibits federal employees

from using their office to influence an election. If nothing else, legal scholars have said that the decision from an otherwise respected bureaucrat

was highly reckless just a week from this election.

So joining me now to discuss all of this from Minnesota is Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer in the Bush administration

and he's filed an official complaint against the FBI in this case.

And from Washington, Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director and senior CNN law enforcement analyst.

Gentleman, thank you both for joining me. Can I just first start with my colleague and former assistant FBI director Tom Fuentes?

Why do you think James Comey took this highly unprecedented step to do what he did?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Christiane, you're correct, it is highly unprecedented, but several aspects of this whole

situation are unprecedented and go back to July.

It starts with Bill Clinton, husband of the main subject of an ongoing FBI investigation, climbing on the plane with the attorney general Loretta

Lynch just days before his wife is going to be interviewed by the FBI, and unfortunately Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, does not immediately

say, good to see you, nice -- you know, have a nice day and have it be a 15-second conversation and get him off that plane. Instead, they visit

together for 30 minutes.

Well, then when that becomes public, you know, she basically says -- and here is the important point, she doesn't recuse herself and say that the

decision making and the oversight of the FBI investigation will be done by my deputy attorney general or by other senior Department of Justice

prosecutors who are career lawyers that may have already been involved in the investigation or, you know, may have expertise in this. She basically

says I defer completely to the FBI.

So she recuses the entire Department of Justice from the decision making, and that starts the bad series of events, you know, from many people's

perspective of James Comey doing the press conference on the 5th of July, saying we recommend no charges. Then Loretta Lynch comes on a day or two

later and says, and we are closing all investigations with everybody involved in the e-mail investigation. Therefore, it's a closed case.

[23:05:15] And then Comey testifies on The Hill, because it's not disallowed, let's say, to testify about cases that are closed. It's no

longer a pending investigation.

AMANPOUR: All right.

FUENTES: So that's where this whole thing starts.

AMANPOUR: All right. So that's from your perspective. Let me turn to Richard Painter, former ethics counsel in the Bush administration.

Why have you filed a complaint against the FBI in this case? And let's just not forget what Tom Fuentes just said. We were told, the public was

told that the Clinton investigation was case closed, no recommendation for prosecution.

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER 2005-2007: Well, what we hear is that they obtained a computer belonging to an aide, a former aide

of Secretary Clinton whose husband is under investigation for completely unrelated charges.

I believe they didn't even have a warrant to search the computer at the time, so they didn't know what these e-mails were. This is not a situation

where there are grounds for reopening an investigation of Secretary Clinton. This makes absolutely no sense. And if they wanted to reopen an

investigation, that's their prerogative at the FBI, but they have no business notifying members of Congress as to their investigation of

political opponents of the members of Congress who are running that committee.

The president, the vice president, the members of Congress have no right to use the FBI as a way of investigating or selectively leaking information

about opponents in elections in order to influence elections, and the only purpose of this letter was to try to embarrass Secretary Clinton, even

though the FBI at the time the letter was written had no additional information that it in looked at with respect to Secretary Clinton if they

didn't have the search warrant. So this is an abuse of official position.

AMANPOUR: It has been called an abuse of power, Tom, as you've probably seen a hundred if not more bipartisan jurists, and former attorney

generals, and other such legal officials in the United States have signed a letter against this. Are you concerned that the FBI has shown a partisan

hand, and do you believe what Senator Reid has suggested, that this does violate the rules, the precedent, maybe even the law by breaking the Hatch

Law against this kind of revelation with these few details this close to an election?

FUENTES: Well, the Hatch Act passed in 1939 says that members of the executive branch cannot actively politic using their official position or

influence the outcome of an election. That's true.

It does exempt the president and the vice president, so it's OK for President Obama to go to campaign functions and actively campaign for

Hillary Clinton. But the Hatch Act, just like Comey in July saying, you know, all of these different things happen, but I can't prove intent that

Hillary Clinton intended to violate the Espionage Act.

Well, Hatch Act is very similar. It is not a criminal statute. It is an administrative law. It could be used to have Comey removed from his job,

but in doing so they have to prove that the only motivation or the main motivation for him to do what he did and send the letter to Congress was to

influence the election against Hillary Clinton.

Now, the problem with that is that back during the summer when Comey testified on The Hill, he assured Congress that if a significant new

development came up that he would inform them. So he kind of, I'll agree, this is very unprecedented and shouldn't have happened, but he did paint

himself into a corner having testified and promised members of Congress that he would let them know if, you know, a renewed investigation occurred.

AMANPOUR: Can I play for both of you a sound bite from an interview with Donald Trump regarding his relationship with Russia and President Putin?

I'm doing this because, as you know, the furious reaction today has been for many to say why isn't the FBI either investigating or reporting what it

knows and what's been alleged to have maybe been perhaps some kind of relationship between Donald Trump, his campaign and Russia.

Let me just play this about Trump's own words about his relationship with President Putin.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I do have a relationship with him, and I think it is very interesting to see what's

happened. I mean, look, he's done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and who he's representing. If you look at what he's done with

Syria, if you look at so many of the different things, he has really eaten our president's lunch. Let's not kid ourselves. He's done an amazing job.

He's put himself really as -- you know, a lot of people would say he's put himself at the forefront of the world as a leader in a short period of



[23:10:21] AMANPOUR: So, Mr. Painter, to you first. This was conducted apparently in Russia a few years ago, and now Mr. Trump says he doesn't

have a relationship with President Putin.

However, the U.S. has assessed that there is some kind of Russian hacking of the U.S. democratic system on behalf of Donald Trump. That's what the

intelligence agencies say. Isn't the FBI -- should the FBI be investigating this aspect of the Trump campaign?

PAINTER: Oh, of course, and I'm sure they are. I mean, Mr. Trump actually publicly encouraged this hacking in various statements and he has had

investments in Russia. He won't disclose his tax returns so we can't find out the details about his relationship with Russia, but I'm sure the FBI is

investigating whether anybody in the United States, including people in the Trump campaign would obviously have the motive to help the Russians with

this computer hacking.

I'm sure it is being investigated. But the FBI would have no business making reports to the Democrats and the House Oversight Committee about the

status of such investigations. And if Harry Reid asks for that he should be told to pound sand. And that's exactly what the FBI should have told

the majority members of the committee with respect to this much-less important investigation about an e-mail server that was put in there

despite the full knowledge of the White House, the State Department lawyers and everyone else.

That investigation has been going on for a year. It should have been investigated, but members of Congress are not entitled to periodic updates

from the FBI on investigations of their political opponents, and that would include what I'm sure is an ongoing investigation with respect to the Trump

campaign and the Russian espionage.

AMANPOUR: Richard Painter, Tom Fuentes, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

One political leader who is under investigation and now on trial is the leader of the Netherlands far right freedom party, Geert Wilders. His case

started today.

He is accused of hate speech after 6,000 people complained to police that Wilders had promised at a recent rally that he would, quote, "Take care of

having fewer Moroccans in the country."

Separately, Geert Wilders supports Donald Trump. And CNN has uncovered evidence of what's being called hate speech directed at the U.S. media at a

Trump rally in Arizona this past Saturday night.




AMANPOUR: They're shouting Jew S.A. Our own Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump's campaign manager to explain and disavow these kinds of comments.




KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: That man's conduct was deplorable. And had I been there, I would have asks security to remove him

immediately. Clearly, he doesn't speak for the campaign or the candidate. And, you know, I think what he had to say was disgusting.


AMANPOUR: That might be so, but there has been a surge of anti-Semitic comments on social media targeting journalists.

The "New York Times" has been investigating and logging this phenomenon. More than 19,000 between August 2015 and July of this year, according to

the Anti-Defamation League.

Many of the attackers were anonymous, but of those who did identify themselves, the ADL said, quote, "These aggressors are disproportionately

likely to self-identify as Donald Trump supporters."

When we come back, crime and punishment of a different sort. We meet the man pardoned by President Obama after serving nearly 30 years under a tough

war on drug statute.


[23:16:10] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

President Obama has become America's most pardoning president since 1921, having now commuted the sentences of 872 prisoners. Now with 5 percent of

the world's population, but a staggering 25 percent of the world's prisoners, the United States actually imprisons a larger percentage of its

black population than South Africa did at the height of Apartheid. Think about that.

And young people in America are demanding prison and justice reform this season. Outraged at statistics like this. African-Americans represent 12

percent of the total drug users, but account for 38 percent of those arrested on drug charges. And approximately 80 percent of criminal

defendants in America cannot afford a lawyer, with tens of thousands going to jail without ever making it to trial.

Richard Winrow, an African-American from California, was 22 years old when he became the first person to be jailed under President Ronald Reagan's

much-touted war on drugs. That was 1988. And he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for a non-violent crime.

He's out now thanks to President Obama's policy and he joined us to explain all of this from our Los Angeles Bureau.


AMANPOUR: Richard Winrow, welcome to the program.

WINROW: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: You know, you are in a position that is really very fortunate after 30 very unfortunate years of being behind bars, sentenced to life

without parole.

Just take us back to that moment when you heard your sentence. What went through your mind? What did you think at that time?

WINROW: Well, at the time of the original sentence, I couldn't believe it, as a matter of fact. But I was told by my lawyers that I was going to

receive life since the beginning of my arrest.

AMANPOUR: You were quoted as saying, "It is beyond belief." And the newspaper headlines say, you know, you were being used as a guinea pig.

WINROW: Yes, that was the response from my family, that the sentence itself wasn't justified based on the conduct, so there had to be a bigger

picture, something other than just a young man possessing some drugs for distribution.

AMANPOUR: So tell me a little bit in your own words of how bad your crime was. It was certainly a non-violent crime, and to this day people say the

sentence was unjustifiably long. But what did you do? What were you caught for?

WINROW: I was arrested with possession with the intent to distribute a small amount of actually cocaine. At the time, I think the crime itself

was heightened based on the war on drugs, which was pretty bad at the time.

AMANPOUR: Yes, the war on drugs was the war on drugs under the Reagan administration, and they were eager to crack down.


AMANPOUR: And how do you feel now after being pardoned? I know you're in a halfway house. What did that mean to you, when you got that letter, that

information from the president?

WINROW: Well, it was actually the greatest day of my life because prior to that I didn't think that I would ever walk the streets free again and see

my family outside of prison.

And once I got the letter, there was this tremendous relief knowing that one day and it came that I would be able to, you know, see my family, my

grand kids, my children. Unfortunately for me, I lost my mother, but the rest of my family -- it was a big relief for them.

[23:20:05] AMANPOUR: How did you get over your disbelief, your feelings about this unfair sentence, and how did you endure those 30 years in

prison? What did you do?

WINROW: Even while I was doing the prison sentence, I knew that I represented something greater than just the sentence. So I wanted to

actually make a difference, and the difference was I wanted to prove that I was better than the sentence.

I wanted to make sure that while I was doing the time, I bettered myself. I wanted to make sure that people understood that, you know, young people

make mistakes, but as a young man that's not the end, because there's always an opportunity to become a better person, and that's what kept me

humble for 30 years.

AMANPOUR: Well, I tell you what, Mr. Winrow, listening to you say that is very humbling for us, for somebody who is just 51 years old, who has had 30

years of his life taken away. And I just want to ask you because the president writes these letters to people like yourself and others

announcing that your appeal for commutation has been accepted, and he says that he is "Granting these applications because you and others have

demonstrated the potential to turn your life around, and it is now up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It won't be easy and you will

confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change."

Does that worry you?

WINROW: No, not in the least, because I know who I am and I know that with this opportunity I'm going to put my best foot forward. Because there's a

debt that I owe to those who I left behind, to show that we all deserve a second chance. That, you know, we made a mistake and that, you know, those

laws back in the `80s did severely punish, but we can get past this because a lot of the relationships I developed in prison was because of other


Who I am today is because of other prisoners. It was a family unit in there, and everybody wanted to teach each other how to become better

people. And to them I do owe a debt of gratitude.

AMANPOUR: This is America's first black president, the first African- American president who has been very moved by the disproportionate number of young black people in jail.

Again, your commentary on that. How do you react to that?

WINROW: I actually believe because I remember reading an article before he became president, when he was just Senator Barack Obama, and when I read

the article, the first thing that struck me was and even though I was in prison, I felt like there was a duty that I had to change the image of how

African-American males are seen even though I was incarcerated.

Because him being the first black president actually gave me hope that the image of the young black man, the nefarious criminal behavior that

seemingly always at the forefront of the image would somehow get reversed. And I was hopeful that by him winning the election all of us -- and I'm

speaking of all of us, the African-American community, the white community, Hispanic community, everybody could see a change in America that we no

longer should view people through images but action.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Mr. Winrow, thank you very much indeed for joining us and good luck with your new lease on life.

WINROW: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, preserving a lease on life on a global scale. Imagine a world clubbing together to save the last ocean. We'll

explain after this.


[23:26:42] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, after the devastating news we brought you last week that six out of ten animals have been wiped out in

the past 50 years, now we imagine a world creating an uplifting antidote and making history by preserving animal life.

Antarctica's Ross Sea is one of the purest places on our planet and thanks to amazing teamwork amongst world leader it will remain a sanctuary for the

penguins, the killer whales and the hundreds of species of fish that live there.

The sea is unsullied by human pollution and scientists ruefully refer to it as the last ocean. But, thankfully, we won't be the last generation to see

it. It took presidents, prime ministers and their negotiators from 24 countries and the E.U. several years to overcome hurdles and come together

and make the Ross Sea a massive, Antarctic marine protection zone, which will preserve more than a million and a half square kilometers of pristine


And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at, and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.