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Trump Wants to Talk; Students March for Gun Control; Opening Statements in Merger Trial. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Many academics and many judges, the vise of a special counsel is that they better come up with proof of crime, otherwise they've wasted the public's money.

In terms of the coordination, it's not a crime to coordinate with Russia. It's not a crime to -- you have to find criminal conduct. And there's a big difference between political sins --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But he is not charged with just finding criminal conduct.

DERSHOWITZ: But prosecutors -- prosecutors --

CUOMO: And to assume that someone like Bob Mueller is going to find crimes or feel like he's wasting people's time, that's not really fair to him, is it?

DERSHOWITZ: It's very fair to him. He's the guy who allowed innocent people to remain in jail when they had been put in jail because Whitey Bulger had been an informer for the FBI, when he was head of the FBI. He has a very mixed record on this.

But let's get to the special counsel.

Prosecutors are not supposed to investigate not criminal conduct. They don't have a roving commission to see where the political sins have occurred. They're not supposed to look into whether there was improper political activities. They're supposed to look only for crime.

And the problem -- and I said this when the special counsel was appointed for Clinton, and Jeffrey Toobin approved it when I said it then -- I have been principled and consistent from the very beginning. I always place principal over partisanship. And civil libertarians should be very concerned about how special counsel operate, what the breadth of their mandate is, what kind of tactics they use. This is a civil libertarian's nightmare.

CUOMO: All right.

DERSHOWITZ: And it shouldn't change because the object is Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton. I'd be saying the same thing if Hillary Clinton had been elected president and they were yelling "lock her up, lock her up." CUOMO: All right.

DERSHOWITZ: Now, I think his biggest vulnerability, by the way, is not the special counsel. I think Trump's biggest venerability are these women, because they are going to establish a perjury trap. That's how Bill Clinton got impeached. And, by the way, the person who get Bill Clinton impeached, Bob Bennett, is on the list of people that Trump, if it's true, foolishly thought about appointing as his lawyer, who's Bob Bennett, who got Bill Clinton to testify about his sex life. The one thing that he can't do is testify about his sex life.

CUOMO: All right, you're putting a lot out there, professor. Let's let Jeffrey get in.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: We've got -- we've got a lot. We've got -- we've got Whitey Bulger.

CUOMO: Yes, I know.

TOOBIN: We've got Bob Bennett.

All right, let's just talk about -- let's just talk about the special counsel.

This is an absolutely textbook example of why you need a special counsel, an independent counsel, special prosecutor, whatever you want to call it.

You know, Alan, you keep saying, you know, that there was no criminal conduct here. There have already been guilty pleas. So we know there was criminal conduct here.

DERSHOWITZ: Lower level. Low level conduct. That could have been done by the Justice Department.

TOOBIN: You say low level, but the national security adviser, you think that's a low level person? Michael Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI. And that is -- imagine what credibility this investigation would have had if Jeff Sessions was in charge of investigating Michael Flynn. They were in the same --

DERSHOWITZ: We're not talking about that.

TOOBIN: They were in the same campaign. This is why there was an indelible political -- an indelible conflict of interest that couldn't be dealt with except by the appointment of a special prosecutor.

DERSHOWITZ: I don't agree with that.

TOOBIN: Robert -- now, let me finish, Alan.


TOOBIN: Robert Mueller is not investigating political crimes. He is not -- he is investigating violations of the criminal code. He has found several. He has found 13 Russians who violated -- who -- who -- and, you know, you keep saying collusion is not a crime.


TOOBIN: Collusion may well be a crime.

DERSHOWITZ: No, it's not.

TOOBIN: It may well be a crime.

DERSHOWITZ: No, it's not.

TOOBIN: Well, in violation of the campaign finance laws. The 13 --

DERSHOWITZ: That's a crime. Absolutely.

TOOBIN: That's right. And that's -- and that's potentially what collusion is.

So, I mean, you know, he hasn't charged anyone with -- any Americans with that yet. But I think, you know, what Mueller is doing is what prosecutors do, investigating violations of the criminal code. He has found several. Several people have been accused. Several people have pleaded guilty. That's what prosecutors do and that's entirely appropriate in this circumstance.

DERSHOWITZ: And that should have been done by prosecutors, career staff prosecutors in the Justice Department. Sessions was recused. Rod Rosenstein probably should have been recused too. But there are staff people. You have career people. Career people aren't paid to try to target particular individuals in a particular administration.

CUOMO: That's not what the president says.

DERSHOWITZ: And -- well, he's wrong. He's wrong. I don't believe this deep state analysis --

CUOMO: But he created the need for the special counsel with that kind of talk, Alan.

DERSHOWITZ: I'm not here -- I --

CUOMO: And by saying --

DERSHOWITZ: Look, I think -- I think it's partly --

CUOMO: By firing Jim Comey he created the need.

DERSHOWITZ: I -- I agree -- I agree with you. I think he made a terrible mistake firing Comey. And I think that's what, in fact, led to the appointment of the special counsel.

CUOMO: It did. We know that.

DERSHOWITZ: But I think it was a mistake to do it. They should have instead appointed a non-partisan investigatory commission of the kind they have in many countries in the world to look into the systemic problem of Russian influence on American elections. And if they then found evidence of crime, it could go to ordinary prosecutors.

[08:35:03] Look, special prosecutor -- we're the only western democracy that needs to use special counsel. In every other country, you have career prosecutors who are outside of the political realm. In England you have the director of public prosecution. In (INAUDIBLE) is now investigating -- who's now investigating the prime minister of Israel.

CUOMO: I hear you about that. But we do have it --

DERSHOWITZ: Special counsel are a serious violation of civil liberties.

CUOMO: All right, but --

DERSHOWITZ: But I want to focus more on what the president's vulnerabilities are. His big venerability --

CUOMO: I know. And you mentioned that. That's where I'm trying to get you too.


CUOMO: You're talking about these women in a perjury trap.

DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely.

CUOMO: It's interesting. People should know to the point of the non- partisan nature of the criticism that's coming out of the professor. He doesn't believe that Bill Clinton committed perjury because he doesn't believe that what he said about Monica Lewinsky was a material fact of the investigation and perjury is lying about a material fact. So, you know, that will surprise some people.

But how do you think these women set up a perjury trap? How would the special counsel get to them?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, the special counsel doesn't have to. All you need is depositions.

Remember, Bill Clinton was impeached largely because of a civil lawsuit that Bob Bennett didn't settle and didn't default. The first rule when you're representing the president is you do not allow him to testify about his sex life. That is an absolute perjury trap. And the idea that President Trump thought about hiring Bob Bennett, the man who put President Clinton into that perjury trap that got him impeached shows a lack of bad judgement.

CUOMO: Oh, I get you. So you're not saying the special counsel is going to look at these women.

Jeffrey, give us a --

DERSHOWITZ: He may. You never know, he may ask that question.

CUOMO: I know, but I don't know how we get there. That would be an interesting path that he would find his way there. But, Jeffrey, give us the last word on this, the idea that even if the special counsel never asks about any of these women, that if he gets deposed, if he doesn't settle all of these suits and does his, I fight, I fight, I fight, he could wind up setting up himself as Bill Clinton did.

TOOBIN: Well, I think he -- I mean Alan is raising a legitimate problem here. I don't think Mueller has anything to do with these -- with these women. But -- but it is true, there are now three pending civil lawsuits against the president relating to, you know, sexual misconduct. And he might be deposed in some or all of them. And that will present a serious, serious problem.

CUOMO: All right. Let me end it there --

DERSHOWITZ: But you say -- you say that special counsel doesn't have any interest in this. But the special counsel, who was investigating Clinton on Whitewater, didn't have any interest in it.

CUOMO: No, that's a fair point.

DERSHOWITZ: He expanded the investigation.

CUOMO: That's a fair point.

DERSHOWITZ: And the special counsel here could expand the investigation if he's willing (ph).

TOOBIN: That's -- well, but he hasn't done it yet.

CUOMO: Right. That's why we'll judge it as it comes.

DERSHOWITZ: We don't know that.

CUOMO: But, Professor Dershowitz, thank you for coming on and laying out the case. I wanted to give you your fair say.

Jeffrey Toobin, appreciate you being here. Going against the professor, never an easy task.

Erica, to you.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Two Florida massacre survivors marching in Washington tomorrow. What do they want lawmakers and the president to do about gun violence. We'll ask them, next.

CUOMO: But first we have a preview of the CNN series "American Dynasties: The Kennedys." It airs Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern, of course, here on CNN. Here's a taste.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know their name, you don't know their whole story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An historic (INAUDIBLE) palace, a state dinner brings Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy and Mr. and Mrs. Khrushchev together. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Away from the banquets and the cameras, Jack has a

serious mission in Vienna. Both sides have enough missiles to destroy the entire world. Kennedy intends to make a deal on nuclear disarmament, but the Soviet leader makes an impossible demand. He wants Kennedy to surrender the western sector of Berlin. Despite his best efforts, Jack is humiliated. He leaves the summit having achieved nothing.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I will tell you now, it was a very sober two days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: JFK learns winning power is one thing, wielding it is another.

"American Dynasties: The Kennedys," a new episode Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.



[08:42:48] HILL: Survivors of last month's high school massacre in Florida taking their fight for gun control and for conversation to Washington with the "March for Our Lives" rally. Hundreds of other demonstrations will be taking place not just around the country but, in fact, around the globe.

So what are they demanding now from lawmakers?

Joining me two of the Parkland survivors, Julia Cordover, who's also the senior class president of the high school there, and Sam Zeif.

Good to have both of you with us.

Julia, I want to start with you here. What is the message for tomorrow?

JULIA CORDOVER, SENIOR CLASS PRESIDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Tomorrow we hope to feel the unity of all the students and parents that have had this shame on gun violence and we hope that the voices and the noise that we create tomorrow will create change.

HILL: You have both spoken up. You've spoken to the president, Sam. When you had those conversations, based on that conversation and where we stand now, how are you feeling about where things go moving forward?

SAM ZEIF, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Well, this was Trump's chance to change his legacy. And after all this I think his legacy will be what's left over of the Russia investigation. And we're fighting for our inalienable rights. My classmates, friends, teachers had inalienable rights to live happy, healthy full lives and I think those rights are more important than the right to have an assault weapon.

HILL: And you had brought up wanting to see a ban on assault weapons, on AR-15 style weapons, I know, with the president.

As we look at this spending bill, look, there was some movement last night. We can't deny that. Including some extra money that was put in for school safety, obviously strengthening the national criminal background check system.

Julia, what more would you like to see?

CORDOVER: Well, our next step after this march is to see the young adults and the future of the children just to get out there and make it to the nearest poll and cast your vote because we need our future generations to make a change.

HILL: We heart from David Hogg, one of your fellow students yesterday, saying, look, this is not about taking away people's guns, this is not about doing away with the Second Amendment. There is a conversation to be had here that involves the NRA.

Sam, do you want to have that conversation with the NRA? And, if so, what do you want it to be about?

[08:45:01] ZEIF: Well, it's not about taking away the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment was for a well-regulated militia, not 300 million unaccounted for guns in America. It's -- I don't think that people should have no guns. But there are certain guns, killing machines, that civilians should not have access to.

HILL: Do you think you can have that conversation with the National Rifle Association?

ZEIF: I mean, I guess we'll have to see. I don't think they're going to listen to anyone that's -- it's their business to support rifles and put them on the streets, but it's our politicians' job to turn away the blood money for the sake of our country, the sake of people's lives.

HILL: There's been a lot of talk about school safety in the wake of all of this. Obviously we saw legislation passed in Florida. We saw it went into the funding bill last night. But then we also learned of new security measures at your high school. That backpacks will need to been clear. That you will need to wear lanyard IDs at all times. That for all of Broward County schools, there's ultimately going to be a single point of entry.

Julia, what does that change for you on a daily basis, and is it enough? Do you feel safe?

CORDOVER: So I think that it's great that they're trying to create all these protocols and implement all these safety measures, but I do not think that that will cause or save any lives. We need gun control. We need tangible legislation passed for our students so we feel safe in our safe haven, in our schools. And we do not feel safe. And I don't think clear backpack, lanyards will make us feel any safer.

HILL: You've talked about keeping the conversation going, about having your voices heard. So what does happen on Sunday? Where do you go moving forward?

CORDOVER: So we move forward speaking to other schools, speaking to students, the older generations and just sharing our cries and trying to show people that this isn't right and we can't let this be our new normal. And from there we will make our way to registering students to vote, like I am doing in my school the past couple of days, and just trying to make a difference as much as we can as students.

HILL: Julia, Sam, I appreciate you both joining us. Thank you.

ZEIF: Thanks, Erica.

CORDOVER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, the big change, the key change there will be who votes and for what. So we'll see what happens in these midterms.

John Albert (ph), inspired to help other families after his wife Jill died of cancer. So what did he do? He created a non-profit to gives children who will lose their mom or dad to cancer a time-out. And it is a moment to create unforgettable memories as a family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cruelest part of late stage cancer is the emotion. Guilt that you're leaving behind your children, and dread that you're going to miss their milestones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We give these families a chance to have fun. Have positive memories.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are trying to give each family their own unique treasured time together.


CUOMO: Boy, oh, boy, what a gift to these families and especially in that moment.

All right, to find out more about John's organization and to nominate someone that you think, this person, they could be a CNN Hero, go to

HILL: Opening statements in a high stakes anti-trust battle. What the government and AT&T are saying about a proposed megamerger, next.


[08:52:53] CUOMO: Protests erupting in Sacramento, California, four days after police gunned down an unarmed black man in his grandmother's backyard. Demonstrators marching to city hall and later on to an interstate highway demanding the arrest of the officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark. Police say the officers believed Clark has a gun. Investigators say they did not find a weapon, only a cell phone. Protesters also blocked the entrance at Golden One Center, where the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks were about to play. Many ticketholders weren't able to get inside. The game was played in front of a largely empty arena. Crowds disbursing as the night wore on. Police so far have made no arrests.

HILL: Opening statements in the high stakes anti-trust trial between the Justice Department and AT&T. The government wants to block the telecom giant's proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner, which, of course, owns CNN.

CNN's Hadas Gold is live in Washington with the latest.

Hadas, good morning.


So yesterday was finally the big day, opening arguments in this huge trial which is really being called the anti-trust case of the generation. Hundreds of people packed into this courtroom. And the big dogs, the CEOs of AT&T and Time Warner, as well as the anti-trust chief for the DOJ were there.

And in the opening arguments, we heard pretty much what we know were both sides in this case. The government is arguing that AT&T, by merging with Time Warner, is going to cause harm to competition and rise prices. They're going to do what they said was take a tool and turn it into a weapon. AT&T says that's not true, that prices will not necessarily go up, and that they have to do this in order to be more efficient and to compete with these new upstarts -- I guess they're not really upstarts anymore, but FaceBook and Google and Amazon and Netflix. And they said that they are, quote, chasing taillights when it comes to these companies.

And the big question in this case is really how they define the industry, because that's what the judge is going to have to decide. Is AT&T really competing with other big cable distributors, or are they now competing with Amazon and Netflix? The government argues that that's not -- you can't compare AT&T and cable with Netflix and Amazon and Hulu. AT&T is arguing that that's -- yes, that's what the new industry is like. And we're going to start hearing from some more witnesses on Monday.

[08:55:08] HILL: We will look forward to that. Hadas, appreciate it. Thank you.

GOLD: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, it's Friday. We made it-ish. Would you like some "Good Stuff" to send you off for the weekend?

HILL: I would -- I would love some "Good Stuff." CUOMO: We will order it right up. Oh, and for --


CUOMO: It really gets you after a whole week, doesn't it?

HILL: You mean -- you mean the joy of waking up at 1:45 to hang out with you? It sure does.

CUOMO: A unique grind. A unique grind.

All right, time for "The Good Stuff," Friday edition.

Good Samaritans rush to rescue a driver struck in a burning car. It happened at a school in Westtown Township in Pennsylvania. You can see here, a group of people joining police officers to flip the SUV. Some people even grabbed some fire extinguishers.

After some tense moments, they finally pull the victim from the vehicle. The police officers thanking the good Samaritans for their help. As for the driver, he's actually expected to be OK.

HILL: Wow, that's nice.

CUOMO: Right. Look, first responders are amazing. They run towards danger. Everything in you tells you to run away. But people can do the same thing. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things. That's "The Good Stuff."

HILL: And it is nice to continue to point it out.

It's been a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

[09:00:00] CUOMO: Thank you.

HILL: We're out of here.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman starts now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have major breaking news out of the White House.