Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Trump Jr Invokes Attorney-Client Privilege in Russia Probe; Backlash in Mideast over Trump's Jerusalem Announcement; Day 4 of Destructive Wildfires in Southern California. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired December 7, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:40:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: --- had with his father over the response to the revelation of his meeting with Russians at Trump Tower.

So with me now, Mark Geragos, CNN legal analyst, also a defense attorney, and Carrie Cordero, a former counsel to the U.S. assistant attorney general for national security.

Good to see both of you on this Thursday afternoon.

Mark, just to you first.

The fact that Don Jr invoked this attorney-client privilege because he said there was an attorney in the room, thus attorney-client privilege. So he didn't have to tell these members of Congress about this conversation he had with his dad. Have you ever heard of that before?

MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. In fact, you know, this is not a standard privilege, but it's one that's kind of developed. And basically, what it says is if you have a joint defense agreement, and we know that they did have a joint defense agreement, because you'll remember about two weeks ago it was reported that General Flynn's lawyer had notified them that they were pulling out of the joint defense agreement, which was precisely why I think you and I discussed we knew that a plea was coming. So if there is a lawyer in the room and the subject is the joint defense, then under what has been developed in the case law, yes, he can assert that. And I saw Adam's -- your piece with Adam Schiff, who I've known since he was a federal prosecutor. Federal prosecutors always try to monkey around with that privilege, but so far, it's with stood the scrutiny of federal prosecutors.

BALDWIN: All right.

But, Carrie, you see it differently, don't you?

CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: I think there is a different way one can look at it. And that a pal cyst depends on the facts some of which we don't know. So I'm not sure that we know publicly when that defense agreement was entered into. And attorney-client privilege applies to communications between an attorney and their client. And it has to be either in the course of the attorney giving legal advice or the client seeking legal advice. So it's not at all clear that this particular meeting that Trump junior had with his father and what I understand to be his father, the president's lawyer, it's not at all clear Don Jr would be covered under attorney-client privilege for that particular communication. And it also raises sort of what has been a bigger issue regarding when individuals in this investigation are testifying before Congress, and they are asserting different types of privileges.

BALDWIN: Executive privilege, right. We heard the executive privilege used before. I think it was the A.G. Jeff Sessions, who had used it becoming a bit of a pattern. Is that your point?

CORDERO: It is. Right. Exactly. So we saw it with Sessions testimony, we saw it with the DNI testimony where testifying before Congress, Congress one of the members of Congress asked a question, they don't want to answer that question, and so they assert some kind of privilege. In this case it's attorney-client privilege. In those cases, it was executive privilege which covers communications with the president or deliberative process with the president. And yet then when questioned on it they seem to go back and say well we are not sure if that privilege applies so we'll check on it. So this is unclear whether it's delay or legitimate.

BALDWIN: We don't know, right?

So, Mark, wouldn't, though, if he's not answering the question, if Don Jr isn't answering this question, he's citing attorney-client privilege, does on the phase I camp would say what are you trying to hide? Get on with it and answer the question. What's recommended what's really going on?

GERAGOS: Well, remember, that's what people always say about the Fifth Amendment also. What are you trying to hide? I can't tell you how many times jurors get instructed that you are not supposed to consider it then go back in deliberate rooms and say why wouldn't the witness testify, if it were me, I would testify. Privileges are designed specifically, and have been around for hundreds of years in America, because they are supposed to protect communications. In this case, I don't disagree that it's fact specific, but the idea you are trying to hide something, I would take issue with. Because, remember, if you don't assert the privilege, just like the Fifth Amendment, if you answer something, you can waive it. So when they say, we are going to go back and check, they don't want to be in ha position, and a lawyer would be -- it would be malpractice, per se, for a lawyer to allow somebody to not assert the privilege. Whether it's a spousal privilege or an executive privilege, whether it's Fifth Amendment or attorney-client, because you don't want to be in a position where you waive it. And, yes, it's fact specific but, at the same time, it's not manufactured or something out there to delay. That's usually - it's usually somewhat of a kind of a trite way to analyze it. Because the reality is the lawyer has a duty, a duty to the client and to protect the client, zealously protect the client. And if he believes, in good faith, this was joint communication, meaning they were discussing the defense or the joint defense, then he has to assert it.

[14:35:17] BALDWIN: OK. So protecting his client. Let's also remember when the news broke about this whole Trump Tower

meeting some months back, you remember Don Jr put out this statement claiming the meeting was initially about adoptions. And President Trump's attorney said he wasn't at all involved in the response. Remember this?


JAY SKEULOW, ATTORNEY TO DONALD TURMP: Let me say this, the president, I do want to be clear, the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement.


BALDWIN: So we now know that that actually isn't true. And that Don Jr said that President Trump was debating between a longer versus a shorter statement while staffer, Hope Hicks, was on board Air Force One.

Carrie, how do you see that?

CORDERO: Well, again, this is part of what the congressional investigators and probably the special counsel are trying to get to the bottom of is what was the president or other members of the administration or campaign involved in, in trying to change the narrative or describe the narrative, whatever it is, of the reason behind that June 2016 meeting. And so the concern is that they cannot use privilege like attorney-client privilege to try to cover up activity, particularly if it's activity that potentially indicates evidence of trying to obstruct the investigation or throw up those types of road blocks in the ongoing administration.

BALDWIN: Carrie, Mark, thank you both so much. Good to see both of you.


BALDWIN: Coming up next, protests erupting in the Middle East over President Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. We will speak to the former U.S. special envoy to Middle East peace, George Mitchell. Does he still think a peace deal could be possible in the wake of the violence there?

And CNN is live on the front lines of the fires in southern California.

Back in a moment.


[14:41:38] BALDWIN: Talking now about all the prophet protests erupting in the Middle East over President Trump's controversial move recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capitol. Dozens has been injured in West Bank and Gaza amid clashes between Palestinian protects and Israeli security forces. Both sides claim Israel as their capital. Let's talk it over with one of the world's leading negotiators, the

man who brokered North Ireland's peace deal, former U.S. special envoy for Middle East peace under President Obama, who led a push for a two- state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians, former Democratic Senator for Maine, George Mitchell.

Senator, always a pleasure to have you.


BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

First, your response to what's happened, the protests, the violence, in regard to Jerusalem?

MITCHELL: I think the president's statement was premature and unwise. The reality is that Jerusalem is the capitol of Israel, will be. There is no doubt about that. But the real question is whether there will ever be a Palestinian capitol in eastern Jerusalem of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state. The president I think effectively undercut his own policy, which is he wants negotiations between the parties to reach agreement on a solution, and he says he'll accept a two-state solution. Personally, that's the only viable solution. But this action makes it much less likely that you'll get it started, and if you get them started less likely to produce a desirable result.

BALDWIN: What do you think he's getting from this announcement?

MITCHELL: I think reinforcement of his base. Strong support within Israel. Opposition everywhere else in the world. And I'm not sure that's a winning formula.

BALDWIN: On the opposition, Turkey prime minister said it's like, quote, pulling a pin on the green made. Do you think Arab leaders at all stoking the flames by predicting Armageddon by all of this?

MITCHELL: I think it's important to say what the important did not say. He did not try to define the boundaries of Jerusalem. He said he was not doing so. He did not preclude a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem. So while the anger and hostility of the Palestinian and their allies in the region is understandable, because this action was so unnecessary, nonetheless I hope they don't overreact to it and I hope the violence is not widespread. Because I think in time both the Palestinians and Israelis will understand it's best for them, in their self-interest, not in the act of charity, to reach agreement so they can be two-states living side by side in peace.

BALDWIN: We know other presidents had wanted to do this. None had followed through, Obama, Bush 43. Is the dilemma timing when they are trying to build influence in this part of the world?

[14:44:58] MITCHELL: Yes. And it's adding confusion. Just two months ago, the president said he had a peace plan for the Middle East and said I'm not thinking about moving the embassy until I give a peace plan a shot. BALDWIN: Has that happened?

MITCHELL: No. That's the problem. It's sending one message, and then under cutting that message with the opposite message, and effectively making the opposite argument somehow this helps with the peace plan.

BALDWIN: So what's in effect of that mixed messaging in a really important part of the world?

MITCHELL: Well, it creates confusion. Leads to some of the reactions that you have described here now and on your network today. Tomorrow will be a crucial day.


MITCHELL: Well, it's the day of prayer in the Muslim world. It's a day on which Jerusalem has been particularly the location of protests. I hope very much that it is not a violent day. And that what has occurred will be largely accepted. And people will be able to move on. That's asking a lot, particularly since this was an unnecessary action. And I emphasize we are the allies of Israel. We are not negotiating with Israel. We are asking them to negotiate with the Palestinians. That's our policy. That's the president's policy. And we should be thinking of ways to encourage that to happen, not ways that make it more difficult for that to happen.

BALDWIN: George Mitchell, always a pleasure.

MITCHELL: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thanks so much for coming by.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up, hurricane-force-winds disastrous in southern California where crews are battling these wildfires. Homeowners being evacuated to safety. Beachfront properties also in danger. An eerie glow seen over the water. Look at the pictures. My next guest was given 15 minutes to pack her home up and leave. She will join me next, coming up.


BALDWIN: It is day four now in these massively destructive wildfires scorching parts of southern California. Largest among them in Ventura County. It's spreading quickly. Now about the size of Denver. If you remember the Napa Fires two months ago, this is now three times that. Nearly burned 100,000 acres.

And you see this orange glow that is hovering over the Pacific coast line. The fire has now made it to the ocean. These plumes of smoke were taken by NASA from outer space. The crew onboard the international space station could see them with their own eyes. This is how big this has gotten. But in Bel Air Estates, the fire there still burning. Fire crews are

keeping it at bay, but their biggest fear is the wind and flames jumping the 405 Freeway.

Kyung Lah, our CNN national correspondent, is in Bel Air with the latest in the fire fight there.

Kyung, just looking at the damage behind you, what are the biggest concerns there today?

[14:50:30] KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The biggest concerns are the number of houses, all of these valleys, and that the hot spots are not out yet. Wildfire can be very destructive and destructive quickly.

You can see that this fire just jumped, ran at the house. One of the firefighters here earlier told me it was like a bomb went off and just over took this house. And then over there, another car, and what remains of this house. It was a gorgeous house, neighbors tell us. This is the community of $3, $4, $5 million homes.

And the way this fire burned yesterday, because we could see it as we drove up here, is it burned all the way up this hill. I want you to take a look down into this valley. What we are seeing firefighters do today this they are dotting all of these valleys, walking this difficult terrain that is burned, and looking for any additional hot spots. You see in the distance there, there are some firefighters still trying to figure out is there anything hot left. Because as winds come up, Brooke, that can pick up, and then suddenly they have another problem on their hands -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: That is hard work. Firefighters and crews, we are thinking of them and the people in these communities. Just how incredible this can spread.

Kyung, with the pictures there in Bel Air, thank you to you and your crew.

My next guest barely escaped her neighborhood in the Los Angeles area. It was completely surrounded by fire. When Kiley Viramontes walked out of her house, this is what she saw. This is the picture. This orange sky smothered in smoke and flame. She and her husband had mere minutes to pack and get the heck out of there.

Kiley is on the phone now.

Kiley, hearing a little bit about you, and there you are, live in L.A. Your story this year, it's been incredibly difficult year. You were in Las Vegas. You survived that shooting, thank goodness. Now you have survived this fire. How are you holding up today?

KILEY VIRAMONTES, FIRE VICTIM: Yes. I mean, when I hear it out loud, I've been through traumatic months.

BALDWIN: Bless you. VIRAMONTES: I'm here for a purpose. So many people didn't make it out of Las Vegas alive. So I wanted to prove my worth and keep going forward. And so then to wake up and to just come out and see this fire surrounding us, I was just like, I just couldn't believe it was happening.

BALDWIN: You are worthy. No need to prove it. You are worthy.

And so tell me what happened. I mean, I understand it was, what, 4:00, 4:30 in the morning when you heard pounding on your doors on the wee hours of Tuesday. You walk outside. What do you see?

VIRAMONTES: It was surreal. I walk out and see flames everywhere. That was looking right across the street. And it was just surrounding our whole neighborhood. And I mean I was just in shock. Helicopters. They were dropping water. And spot lights. And I just felt like I was in a scene of a movie.

BALDWIN: Had you ever seen anything like that before?

VIRAMONTES: Never. I never seen anything like it. No.

BALDWIN: Never. And so what about your house? What about your belongings?

VIRAMONTES: So we had about, I don't know, 10, 15 minutes, and me and my husband, we just grabbed anything we could. I mean we got married about year and a half ago, so I wanted to grab sentimental stuff.

BALDWIN: Wedding pictures.

VIRAMONTES: Yes, wedding pictures. I forgot my dress, and I was so sad. But everything is fine. That's all just material.


VIRAMONTES: We grabbed that and paperwork and I grabbed some hangers and ran.

BALDWIN: And so where are you staying now? Have you been in touch with your neighbors at all?

VIRAMONTES: So I've been staying at my in-laws how, luckily 15 minutes away, so they are in sun land, we evacuated on Tuesday and went over there, then the fire was coming towards us, so I thought we were going to have to evacuate again. It was traumatizing. We have heard hour house is OK. I'm just waiting to see. But down the road from us about six houses burned, so I feel terrible for them.

BALDWIN: What is that? It's one thing to see these pictures on TV, it is quite another to open your front door at 4:30 in the morning and realize you have to leave.

What is that feeling like -- first of all, you're totally right, those are just things and thank goodness you and your hubs are OK, but the whole not knowing, not knowing about your home? VIRAMONTES: That was the worst thing. I mean we are sitting there

watching the news, you don't know if your House is going to be on the news showing that it's burning down. So the not knowing factor it was so stressful. And even last night they said the winds will get worse and today is worse. So we might have been in the clear yesterday but we might not be in the clear today. So it's the unknown is really scary.

[14:55:11] BALDWIN: You are OK. You are with your in-laws. You have your husband. Congratulations for getting married a year and a half ago.

VIRAMONTES: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Looking to the future, and hope, and you're worth.

Kiley Viramontes, thank you for the time.

VIRAMONTES: Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: I appreciate you. Thinking about you and your family in California.

We'll talk more about California in a bit. But moments from now, a heads up, Chuck and Nancy, round two. Remember the Democrat leaders ditched the president last week because of a tweet. Now Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are about to sit down with the president. We'll take that moment for you and tell you what they plan to discuss, coming up next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've had three back surgeries and the last one didn't do so well.

I come to the springs in Idaho City three times a week. The hot water makes me feel so much better.

The depression seems to leave, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you step into a hot bath and your core temperature goes up, a number of things happen that help with pain. You relax the muscles, it takes tension off the nerves. Hot baths expand the blood vessels to allow the healing properties within the blood to be delivered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on six different OxyContins, 14 pills a day. Not only did I drop the pills in numbers, I dropped the medication and potency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you do this for a long period of time, three or four times a week, we know your risk of cardiovascular disease, your risk of heart attack, of stroke goes down with emerged in hot water or steam. There are people that have cardiovascular conditions where they should

check with their physicians before they engage in any treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he gets in the corner there and I can see it in his face that he's totally calm. It impacts us in every way possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I'm trying to do is get back some quality of life that I enjoy.


[15:00:09] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: All right, we continue on here. You're --