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Paranoia in West Wing, Trump Attorneys Gripe about Russia Probe in Public; St. Louis Protests Turn Violent; Stars Descend on Hollywood for Emmy Awards. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired September 18, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:45] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Paranoia growing inside the Trump White House as this investigation over Russian meddling takes a huge turn. "The New York Times" today reporting that officials are worried that colleagues might be wearing microphones while at work for special counsel, Robert Mueller, wires on top of that. Two of the president's lawyers were talking openly about the investigation at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. The "New York Times" reporter took this photo of White House Ty Cobb and one of the president's personal attorneys, John Dowd, griping about this for many other ears to hear.
So let's start with CNN legal commentator and former Virginia attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, and CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa, who is a former FBI special agent.
Good to see both of you.
Before we get into this meat and potatoes of this piece, can we just talk about how, we know Washington, anywhere we are talking about something so entirely important and secretive that the last place you need to be speaking about this is at a well-known steakhouse in D.C. at an outdoor table.
Ken Cuccinelli, you laugh, but I'm right?
KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, my gosh. This is lawyering 101. This isn't even lawyering 101. This is lawyering 1.5. We are told this in law school as budding lawyers and they're true. There are so many of them. This is amazing, look, guys, get a tab at pizza hut and eat in. This is amazing. This is amazing!
BALDWIN: Next to "The New York Times: Washington, D.C., headquarters. I mean, is this, Asha, is this the best legal team the president can find?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This seems like a mickey mouse legal team to me. As ken said this is lawyering 101 and there are many ethical and legal issues with these two attorneys having a conversation like this. We need to remember, Brooke, that they actually represent two different clients. John Dowd represents the president in his personal capacity and Ty Cobb is White House counsel so they have different responsibilities to those clients to be discussing this in the open where they can be overheard, really opens up a lot of issues including waiving potential privileges and based on what was reported it's now given Mueller a new potential avenue of investigation. There may be a document in Don McGahn's safe that he is now going to have questions about and may want to see.
BALDWIN: Ken Cuccinelli, would you waive executive privilege?
CUCCINELLI: Well, that's a broad question, and you can't just say on all things or nothing you take them one point at a time and Don McGahn's obvious concern is if I waive it here or I waived it there and that's his role. He's White House counsel. I appreciate the fact that in "The New York Times" article the comment these two lawyers made as it reflected on Don McGahn showed a cautious White House counsel who is concerned about the precedence as they relate to the presidency. Of course, the president is Donald Trump, but he's doing his institutional job well, that being Don McGahn at least from what's reflected in this conversation that was publicly had and now publicly reported. So that's a tough question to just answer all at once. You would never waive it as a blanket matter for all things if you're Don McGahn or if you're President Trump because remember, it's important to remember this and former attorney general will tell you this, lawyers advise. Clients decide. So the lawyers can think course A is the best course and advise their client to take that course, but if he chooses not to take that advice, that is his prerogative and it may come with its own consequences and we may see that up to this point. It is important for non-lawyers to remember that point.
[14:34:56] BALDWIN: I should also mention that after this thing happened and Ken Vogel snapped this photo, that they did go to the White House about all of this, and Don McGahn, according to the paper, privately erupted at in Cobb, according to people.
CUCCINELLI: Of course, he did. Of course.
BALDWIN: And the chief of staff sharply reprimanded Mr. Cobb for his indiscretion.
There was potential paranoia inside the West Wing. Fears that co- workers are mic'ed up to surreptitiously record conversations for the special counsel. What do you even make of those fears and even the possibility of that?
RANGAPPA: Well, I think that the paranoia is almost a natural consequence of a wide-ranging federal investigation of this, and people apparently don't know who is talking to Mueller and maybe they've been privy to conversations that they now know are somewhat sketchy and they might be questioned, as well. So everyone, i think, wondering what they might be exposed to, and i think rightly so and it's becoming more like King Henry VIII's court rather than an administration. It seems like there's a lot intrigue ask cloak and dagger, but they're all at this point going to have to look out for themselves because they may also be in the target. BALDWIN: Ken, here is another piece of this "New York Times" article,
"Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed a McGahn spy and Mr. McGahn had a couple of documents locked in his safe that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to."
We have no clue what those documents might be, why would you put documents in a safe? What might this signal to you?
CUCCINELLI: Honestly, i get as soon as i read that, i saw this will look good in a news story, but i fully expect things to be locked down in the White House, and it doesn't mean everything and it sure beats a server in the bathroom, right?
BALDWIN: What would he be so worried about? He comes from a school of thought that says let's hand over as many documents as possible.
CUCCINELLI: Sure. Presumably, you would use a safe for original, for starters of whatever the document at issue is, but he's the White House counsel. There are a lot of originals that are going to pass through that office and i don't -- I'm not at all surprised by that. I get why it looks salacious, but one of the problems with this very public conversation between lawyers is later on when there are discovery disputes this occur in the various cases that might arise, this conversation can point it back to and the lawyer on the other side will say, well, look, judge, they say they had this in the safe. How do we know this isn't the document that was in the safe? It gives cannon fodder to the other side in this matter through the course of all these investigations. It's one of the practical problems with the public nature of their discussion.
BALDWIN: In some cases, very public nature of discussions.
Ken Cuccinelli and Asha Rangappa, thank you both so very much on that "New York Times" report.
I should mention, we're talking to Ken Vogel, this reporter who snapped the photo, was listening, next hour.
Ahead, a fourth day of demonstrations under way in St. Louis after a former police officer is cleared of murder charges in the shooting death of a black man. The city is on edge as it prepares for what could happen there tonight.
[14:42:40] BALDWIN: Protests in St. Louis happening now for the fourth day in a row. Anger and unrest triggered by acquittal of a former police officer charged with first-degree murder. More than 80 people were arrested during a third night of demonstrations. Police say officers were assaulted, windows were kicked in and trash cans up ended.
Dan Simon is there for us right now in St. Louis where it looks very, very quiet. What's the story there, Dan?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brooke. Lt's explain what's been happening the last few days. During the daylight hours, you have these organized protests, everything is calm and peaceful and then at night everything just turns into chaos. That has been the trend over the last three days and there's no reason to think anything different might happen tonight. Let me explain where we are. We are in downtown St. Louis. Behind me is the Marriott Hotel and look at that, all of these windows were smash side up last night. This is the Marriott Convention Center just across the street. These windows were also smashed in, and I've got to tell you, i was in a section of town called the del mar loop on saturday night. More than 20 businesses had their storefronts damaged. It was quite a scene to see.
I want to listen now to a couple of those store owners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED BUSINESS OWNER: I personally see the value of protesting and I've been there myself and feel that it's the cause is necessary and people need to get out there and let their voices be heard. But the kind of violent and senseless acts like this really are bothersome and sad. I don't think it hinders the cause rather than furthers the cause.
SIMON: When you saw all of these businesses hit, what did you think?
UNIDENTIFIED BUSINESS OWNER: All night, that i thought I'm going to be up all night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Yes. If you're in the glass repair business in St. Louis, you're going to be pretty busy.
Brooke, let me sort of explain the scenario. Once this peaceful protest ends during the day, you have some people sort of refusing to go home. A band of protesters that I've seen is in the dozens of people, these are people wearing the masks and trying to hide their identities and then they get into a face-off with police and they're throwing things at officers and throwing water bottles and throwing rocks and they're taunting the police and then they start running as soon as the police close in and that's when this vandalism occurs. We'll see what happens tonight. We know that the National Guard is on standby in case things really get out of control -- Brooke?
[14:45:14] BALDWIN: Dan, thank you. You'll be watching tonight, I'm sure, watching St. Louis.
Ahead here, three storms brewing in the Atlantic and one of them is expected to turn into a category 4 hurricane hitting a regional ready devastated by Irma. The new track is ahead.
And diversity reigns at the Emmys as women and people of color taking home some of the biggest prizes on television's biggest night. The history-making moments, next.
[14:49:09] BALDWIN: Let's talk about the Emmys last night. Diversity took center stage there. Men and women of color, women, specifically, one of the night's biggest winters. "Atlanta" executive producer and star Donald Glover, outstanding directing for a comedy series, and "Master of None" star, Lena Waif, became the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LENA WAIF, COMEDY WRITER: For everybody out there that showed us so much love for this episode, thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a year black girl from the south side of Chicago and we appreciate it more than you could ever know. Thank you, Academy, for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Nischelle Turner is the host of "Entertainment Tonight" and CNN contributor.
It is so nice to see you.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR & HOST, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT: Hi.
BALDWIN: It was such an exciting night. It was such an exciting night to watch, and i always go to Twitter to see how people are reacting and let's just take the Emmys and note got Oscars, diversity.
TURNER: Absolutely. Television has always been a little more progressive than the films just in general and we're definitely seeing that in the accolades that played out. You were talking about two of the big winners of the night, Donald Glover. You talked about he was the first African-American to win for directing in a comedy series, the first African-American actor to win in a comedy in 30 years and Lena Waif, her speech was one of the best of the night. The first African-American woman to win for comedy writing and there was so much, so many firsts last night and in 2017 it's interesting to even think about this, and Riz Ahmed who won for "The Night Of," the second Asian to ever win an Emmy. The first Asian man, that blows my mind. The first Asian to ever win was Panjari for "The Good Wife" and you have Sterling K. Brown who won for best actor in a drama last night for "This Is Us." And he's masterful in that and he's the first African-American to win in 19 years and the last was Andre Brower in 1998. Think about this, "The Handmaid's Tale," the female -led drama.
BALDWIN: On Hulu, right?
TURNER: Yes, on Hulu, the first streaming series to ever win best drama and half of the women on the show are writers. Most of the episodes were directed by women of that show and also "Big Little Lies" which was a huge winner of a female-led comedy and the director for "Big Little Lies" did win which was the second woman to ever win for director and lots of barriers being broken there during the Emmys last night. It was a good night all around.
BALDWIN: Under of the ladies who were winning Julia Louis-Dreyfus who must have, a huge shelf at home for all of her Emmys and this was her fifth consecutive win for "Veep".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, ACTRESS: We have a great final season that we're about to start filming. A lot of surprises that our fabulous writers have cooked up. We did have a huge storyline about an impeachment, but we abandoned that because we were worried that someone else might get to it first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That was a big laugh line.
TURNER: Yes, it was. It was definitely last night and her sixth consecutive Emmy for winning "Veep." she's got eight overall and now tied for the lead with Cloris Lachman and she's ready to get Cloris next season. And she won for "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and one for "Seinfeld." The fact that she got one Emmy for "Seinfeld".
BALDWIN: That's crazy.
TURNER: Right? Six in a row with "Veep."
TURNER: It's my favorite show on television. "Veep" is ending and they announced next season will be their last season. Last night, i couldn't believe it, and i was talking to the cast of "Veep," why would you end now at such a ripe environment for a show?
TURNER: Right. We want to go out on top. That's what they want to do. Julia said it was a tough decision for her, but they'll end the show and she's the producer on it, too, but they're going to end.
BALDWIN: Good for her, and the winners.
Nischelle, good to see you.
TURNER: Always, my friend.
[14:54:38] BALDWIN: Just in to us here on CNN, speaking of politics and women, Dianne Feinstein ripping President Trump for his re-tweet of this video over the weekend showing an image of himself hitting a ball at who appears to be Hillary Clinton. Why Senator Feinstein is telling the president to, quote, "grow up."
Back in a moment.
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