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Trump's Lawyer, Michael Cohen, Reveals His Secret Client is Sean Hannity; U.S., U.K. Issue Joint Warning on Russian Hackers; Experts to Visit Suspected Chemical Attack Site in Syria; Protesters Urge Boycott of Starbucks. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired April 17, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, Stormy Daniels comes face-to-face with President Trump's so-called fixer, as Michael Cohen's lawyers dropped a name which rocked the courtroom.
Plus the search for the truth in the rubble of Douma in Syria. Chemical weapons experts denied access so far as the U.S. accuses Russia of tampering with evidence.
After two African American men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, protesters calling for a boycott. The Starbucks CEO has said sorry but why does this keep happening in the U.S., especially in a place like Starbucks, where (INAUDIBLE) and liberal (INAUDIBLE) rule the day?
Hello and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. I'm John Vause. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
VAUSE: We begin with the day in court for Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and a surprising revelation from his lawyers that Cohen also represents one of the president's biggest cheerleaders. That would be FOX News host Sean Hannity.
Cohen's legal thing fought to keep that relationship a secret. Hannity says he talked with Cohen about legal questions but never paid Cohen and Cohen never represented him in any matter.
CNN's Brynn Gingras has more on Cohen's legal troubles.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot unfolded in the courtroom when it relates to the FBI raid of Michael Cohen's home in his apartment and his hotel room and the documents seized. Remember, the whole reason that court was happening because the judge was trying to rule a document seized were obstructing attorney-client privilege for Michael Cohen's clients. Now Michael Cohen's attorneys were fighting against those documents
being looked at by the government, saying that attorney-client privilege was going to be obstructed here. And essentially the judge ruled in favor of all parties that were involved.
The U.S. attorney's office is now going to hand over all of those documents that Michael Cohen's attorneys can filter through them and see how much, the volume of what could be protected for attorney- client privilege.
They're also then allowed to then give some of those documents to the Trump administration to see if there's any issues there and then separately prosecutors can also do their own search.
Then all three parties are going to reconvene in the courtroom and a judge is going to decide if a filter team is going to take a look at the volume of documents that have been narrowed down before this investigation.
Remember, still a criminal litigation with happening here but before that investigation can carry forward.
So a lot of detail that still have to be worked out over the next coming weeks. It could take several weeks. But if that wasn't enough for you, there was even more drama in the courtroom and that's because Stormy Daniels was there, Michael Cohen was there but then also as part of all of this, Michael Cohen's attorneys were told they had to hand over a client list Michael Cohen's And that list in short had three names on it that were of importance.
Trump's, which we already knew about, a RNC head and then a third name which wasn't named. And the judge in this case made them disclose that name and we learned it was FOX News host Sean Hannity.
Now Sean Hannity then answered back and said that he had only legal advance that he sought from Michael Cohen because there was a big question about what he had to do with any of this or what sort of relation he had with Michael Cohen. But certainly that was a shock in the courtroom.
So next step, all these parties again are going to reconvene in the courtroom and decide how to move forward with this investigation into the business dealings of Michael Cohen. Back to you.
VAUSE: Brynn Gingras, thank you for that.
Jessica Levinson is a professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School and Michael Genovese is president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.
Good to have you both with us, a happy start to the week.
It was not a happy start to the week for Michael Cohen. To Jessica first. Just from a legal point of view, this was by all
accounts a train wreck of a day for Cohen's legal team and by association, the president's legal team.
How much damage has been done?
Where is this all now heading?
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: I actually think it could have been a lot worse for Michael Cohen and for President Trump's legal team. So Judge Wood, the federal judge who's overseeing this whole hearing, which is really about something quite narrow in terms of looking at these documents, to determine which documents are privileged under the attorney-client privilege, Judge Wood basically kind of pushed the issue off and said, you know, there are no emergency circumstances. All of you get to look at these documents, determine what is privileged and then maybe down the road we'll appoint a special master, which means a neutral party to look.
Maybe we'll have the Department of Justice have a filter team. But I think it could've actually been, in terms of like the grand pantheon of disasters, even --
LEVINSON: -- more --
VAUSE: -- said that about a lot of days we've been having in the U.S. when it comes to politics and stuff.
But the train wreck aspect of it was how the Trump legal team and the Cohen legal team handled themselves in court as maybe a preview of what's to come. There seemed to be so many mistakes and they didn't really know what the hell they were doing.
LEVINSON: Well, this is like if you were writing a pilot for America 2018, legal drama, you just wouldn't have --
LEVINSON: -- I would say it's more of a farce. So in terms of what Michael Cohen has done, I would not write an exam question that had these allegations because I think my students would be like, oh, a member of the bar wouldn't do that.
Michael, there are potential legal consequences here. There are political consequences as well. All of this coming from the material seized by the FBI, from Cohen's office, from his home, from his apartment. This is what Michael Avenatti said. He is the attorney for Stormy Daniels, who was outside the court. It was over these clients. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Depending on what is contained within those documents, I think there is significant danger to the president. The president trusted the -- president trusted Mr. Cohen as his fixer for years. He trusted him with his innermost secrets and I think that the chickens are about to come home to roost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So he did preface it by saying, depending on what is in that material, in those documents, but from the reaction that we've seen so far from Cohen, from Cohen's legal team, from the president, from the president's legal team, would you say that the president is facing a bigger legal problem here?
Or a bigger political problem?
MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this opened a Pandora's box and Trump and his attorneys and Cohen and his attorneys are trying to close that box. But it's opened and it's become a carnival atmosphere.
And today the revelation that not only was the president one of Cohen's clients but you had Broidy, who had the legal problems with the Playboy model, who he impregnated. And then Hannity's name comes up in court.
You'd call these three a rogues' gallery but I wouldn't want to insult rogues. This is -- it's just become so carnival-like in atmosphere. Lawyers can make commercials now.
Can you imagine the commercial Michael Cohen would make for his law firm?
VAUSE: Well, no. "Better Call Saul" or something perhaps.
You mentioned Sean Hannity. He of FOX News fame. Just in case anybody is of any doubt about Sean Hannity, this is Sean Hannity from earlier this month, commenting specifically about the raid on Cohen and the case before the court. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST: We have now entered a dangerous new phase and there is no turning back from this. It is clear, as I have been warning, Mueller is out to get the president and it appears at any cost. Here's what happened: upon referral from special counselor Robert Mueller, the FBI has raided the office, the home and the hotel room of Michael Cohen, the personal attorney of the President of the United States. Keep in mind Cohen was never part of the Trump administration or the
Trump campaign. This is now officially an all-hands-on-deck effort to totally malign and, if possible, impeach the President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Jessica, it is deplorable that Hannity did not declare his relationship, at least ethically it's deplorable.
What other legal issues here as well or is it just a question of ethics and saying for FOX News to worry about?
LEVINSON: I think it's journalistic ethics. When I was watching that, what I really took away was, one, of course, there's the elephant in the room, that he doesn't say a word about the fact that he knows Michael Cohen, that he's consulted Michael Cohen for legal advice. But also that if you just say certain things in a certain tone then apparently it means something nefarious happened.
If you read a transcript of what he is saying, is essentially the justice system is working, the president's personal attorney was raided. There's a reason that you take such an extreme step and that in and of itself is actually an implication of how badly the president's lawyer has actually behaved.
But in terms of Sean Hannity's legal problems -- I mean, we don't know what is going to come out there.
What was really interesting in the argument today in court is that Michael Cohen's lawyer said there's somebody who is very high profile and it would be extremely embarrassing for them, you know, this information to come out.
And then the government said basically, point me to where in the code it says embarrassment is a legal --
VAUSE: We had Alan Dershowitz, who was actually on the Sean Hannity show a few hours ago when all of this came up. He actually chastised Hannity on air. Michael, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I really think that you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen when you talked about him on this show. You could have said just that you had asked him for advice or whatever.
But I think it would have been much, much better had you disclosed that relationship.
HANNITY: -- the nature of it, Professor. I'm going to deal with this later in the show --
DERSHOWITZ: -- I understand. It was minimal. I understand that about it. But you should have said that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Michael, even if you take Hannity at his word, does it matter if the relationship was minimal or anything --
VAUSE: -- else?
GENOVESE: We'll give Dershowitz some credit. A lot of people have criticized him recently because he's been in the president's corner. In this case, he made a very strong statement right to the source. It takes courage to do that. Give him a lot of credit. And Hannity was trying to sort of fluff his way out of it.
You can't fluff your way out of something like this.
VAUSE: -- minimize this.
GENOVESE: No. And it reflects not just on Hannity but on the whole defense of the president and his team, as if to say, we can do any damn thing we want and it doesn't matter.
VAUSE: The other big story of the day, FBI director James Comey, the former FBI director, he has a book to sell. He's been out doing the television rounds.
On ABC he was asked if maybe the Russians have something on the president. This was his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I think it's possible, I don't know. These are more words I never thought I'd utter about a President of the United States. But it's possible. I would have been able to say with high confidence about any other president I dealt with. But I can't. It's possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Michael, there's some criticism that Comey is showboating here, that by going out and selling this book he's actually harming his reputation and maybe possibly generating sympathy for the president.
GENOVESE: Well, I think he has in many ways harmed his reputation because you have to remember, going into this Trump and his team don't like Comey and a lot of the Democrats don't, either. So he's really got a tough act to sell. But I think what's so fascinating about this is it's a he said/she
said kind of thing -- of he said/he said. And it is reminiscent of Watergate, where John Dean made some big accusations, well, how do you test those?
Well, they had tapes. In this case Comey versus Trump, who's telling the truth, it's kind of a heavyweight battle but it's between two Republicans and that's what's fascinating. It's not the Democrats versus Republicans. It is two Republicans in the ring.
VAUSE: What is interesting, Comey made those comments over the weekend, also on Sunday. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said there would be sanctions announced on Monday on Russia.
Those sanctions never came, to; pulled by the president, Jessica. So either Haley got it wrong or Donald Trump decided that he didn't want to upset Vladimir Putin.
Where do you think the truth lies here?
LEVINSON: Or Haley got it right at that moment and the president changed his mind, which I think is entirely possible. You know, whenever we have talked about when this president has imposed some sanctions or taken some action that's adverse to Russia's interests, it really is breaking news because if you think about it, the bar has been so low.
We essentially expect him to give Russia a free pass because there's such a cloud of suspicion over whether or not the Russian government has something over him. I thought there were a number of interesting moments in that Comey interview but that, I think, frankly, I mean, you know, is it possible"
Yes, that's not a -- that's not a conclusive statement. He made a lot of other statements that I think were a lot --
VAUSE: But he says it's possible and then the very next day, the president pulls the sanctions that were meant to be announced on Monday (INAUDIBLE) goes to proving the point that Comey was making.
LEVINSON: It's not a great narrative for the president and I would have to think that every one of his advisers, hopefully, was saying, people aren't going to have to connect three dots; they're going to connect two dots, comment-action. It doesn't look good for you.
GENOVESE: But this also reflects, I think, not only the confusion within the Trump administration but also the confused policies that they have. And to say that -- if we said two years ago that a former FBI director would say that it's possible that the president was helped by the Russians or in cahoots with them in some way, you say that's completely absurd.
You'd think it was from a U.S. basher. But it's not it's from the FBI director. And the shocking thing is that it is plausible. And I don't say it's true but it's plausible --
GENOVESE: -- shocking.
VAUSE: Jessica and Michael, good to see you both.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
LEVINSON: Thank you.
VAUSE: It's a red joint warning and it's an urgent one as well. The U.S. and Great Britain have teamed up to issue an alert about potential attacks on the heart of the Internet. U.S. and U.K. cyber experts say malicious Russian hackers are targeting millions of devices worldwide, which route Internet traffic.
Officials say they're not sure how many devices have been compromised but they say the attacks may be designed for any number of illegal uses. As one FBI investigator said, it's a tremendous weapon in the hands of an adversary.
Senior international correspondent Sam Kiley now with more details.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In an unprecedented statement put out by both the United Kingdom and the United States, Russia has been identified by those two countries as the perpetrator of cyber attacks aimed ultimately at crippling national critical infrastructure. That is the guts, the basic means by which a country functions, the trains, roads, health care, computers across the nation, even nuclear power stations.
Now that has not yet happened although there has been evidence, the Americans say, of attempts to hack the national grid inside the United States. Nonetheless they are saying that this is a moment of extreme danger.
KILEY: Let me read you one quote. They say, "The current state of U.S. and U.K. network devices, coupled with the Russian government campaign to exploit these devices, threatens our respective safety, security and economic well-being."
Now that, if it were a description of a conventional weapon, would probably cause a degree of hysteria. But because there is this steady-state now of reported attacks by Russia and other actors, often point -- fingers pointed at China, at criminal elements, constant attempts to get into critical national infrastructure, people perhaps have tot used to it.
And I think it is for that reason that this joint statement has been put out to alert the public and private sectors in both the United States and the United Kingdom and the wider Western international community that, in the view of the FBI, the head of cyber security in the United Kingdom, this is a moments in which Russia is on the offensive.
But the Russians responded out of their embassy in London, saying, "Russia is not planning to conduct any cyber attacks against the United Kingdom. And we expect the British government to declare the same."
A typical response that we've come to see from the Russians, a somewhat flippant reply and, of course, the United Kingdom, United States not yet providing any substantial proof, at least not in the initial warnings.
But they are providing methodology to large and small companies right across their nations for how to defend against these cyber attacks -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Moscow.
VAUSE: A short break. When we come back, the search for truth in the rubble of Douma in Syria. Russia accused of blocking chemical weapons inspectors from reaching the site of a poison gas attack.
Also ahead, the leaders of Britain and France facing a backlash over their decision to join in U.S.-led airstrikes without consulting lawmakers first.
VAUSE: The Russian military says it expects international chemical weapons inspectors to enter the site of a suspected poison gas attack sometime on Wednesday. Both the United States and the United Kingdom accuse Moscow of blocking access to Douma in Syria. Washington also believes Russia may have tampered with evidence at the site.
Russia denies those allegations, calling them "fake news." British officials say 75 people, including children, died in the Douma attack, which prompted airstrikes by the United States, France and Britain on Syrian targets early on Saturday.
The British prime minister Theresa May defending her decision to join the U.S. and France in launching Saturday's airstrikes. Some opposition members of Parliament say the prime minister should have consulted lawmakers first.
But Ms. May told them on Monday it was necessary to act quickly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have acted because it is in our national interest.
MAY: It is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used.
For we cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized, either within Syria, on the streets of the U.K. or elsewhere. So we have not done this because President Trump asked us to do so. We have done it because we believed it was the right thing to do and we are not alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: In Paris, a similar problem for the French president Emmanuel Macron. He tried to counter act the nation's lawmakers about why he didn't consult them first. He is taking criticism from both the Right, which accuses him of being a lackey to President Donald Trump, and from the Left, which is calling the strikes "an irresponsible escalation."
But Mr. Macron says Syria's use of chemical weapons crossed France's red line and represents a threat to global security.
Joining us now, CNN national security analyst Gayle Tzemach-Lemmon and CNN European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas.
Good to have you both with us. Thank you.
Dom, let's just start with the situation for Theresa May, the British prime minister ,legally she doesn't doesn't actually need the approval of the British Parliament before joining in some kind of military action like the one we saw on Syria.
But there is this convention which has been followed since the Iraq War in 2003. So now that she's in the situation, this minority government, where there's this warning out there of these political risks and consequences should she do this -- something like this again.
So what are those risks and what are the consequences for her?
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Yes, and you're right. You mentioned going back to 2013, when David Cameron went to the Parliament and did not get support for strikes on Syria. So that has to be at the back of her mind.
But Theresa May, I think to -- on the heels of the Skripal attack, of the Russian nerve poison on a former agent and for which she garnered considerable international support, riding that wave into this -- and that response was a surprise to her, I think, in many ways, that going into this without getting parliamentary support, which at best would have been ambiguous, given the level of divisiveness and the precariousness of her position in Parliament, meant that she went along with that, without consulting with lawmakers and the backlash has been not just from Jeremy Corbyn or the opposition but also within her party, where there's a lack of consensus on whether or not she should have gone into this with Donald Trump, with French president Emmanuel Macron without greater consultation with the international community.
Now for many arguments for and against this obviously. The Russian veto at the U.N.'s one.
But I think that she could not have gone to Parliament expecting there to be the vote that she wanted and I think the consensus is that it was time to act and that she wanted to go along with Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron on this.
VAUSE: So, Gayle, is this sort of limited value to debating what they should or shouldn't have done after the missiles have hit their targets?
GAYLE TZEMACH-LEMMON, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: This is the thing. I think for the United States, there is a fascinating development, which is that we see the United States, United Kingdom and France working in concert in ways that we have not seen in years.
For the United States this is actually you see the three allies, speaking clearly, communicating in very clear tones from all three capitals, now going to the U.N. and trying to push for a resolution. You see them really talking about coordinated action and this is much more coordinated transatlantic approach to Syria that we have seen in seven years.
Because the truth is that there has been this axis of impunity that has been allowed to go on for seven years. And we really cannot be surprised that the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian backers thought no one would stop them and that red lines --
VAUSE: Is it the U.K., U.S. and France, Dominic, Germany nowhere to be seen, offering words of support but that's it?
THOMAS: Right. And in the French case, even more now standing in the way because Macron has an unambiguous majority. He went neither to the E.U. nor to the French parliament and essentially ignored the United Nations.
So he had probably a greater opportunity of pushing this through and achieving greater consensus from the -- from the French position. But I think in terms of the broader European Union, concern about this obviously is the potential for instability in the region.
And I think what people would argue is of course something needs to be done. This has been going on for much too long and the time has come to sit down and to try and find a solution to this.
What many people would argue is, why the rush?
Why not try to build greater consensus to at least different partners and as we go into this? VAUSE: OK. So the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson answered
that question for you, justifying the use of military force. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: It was the world saying we've had enough of the use of chemical weapons. The erosion of that to boot that has been --
JOHNSON: -- in place for 100 years has gone too far. And the Bashar al-Assad, it was time that we said no. (INAUDIBLE) therefore the fight thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Gayle, how long before Bashar al-Assad uses a chemical weapon like chlorine barrel bomb?
Barrel bombs still (INAUDIBLE) --
LEMMON: I think there's a fascinating question, was there a rush, was this hasty?
Talk to Syrian activists, who would say this is years in the making, where there was green light after the green light after green light but no paying attention to anyone's red line. So I think you know this conflict has been very long on protests, very long on hammering about how bad the atrocities are and adjectives no longer describe everything that is happening on the ground.
What it has been short on is anybody taking action to stop that, whether it's diplomatic backed by military or military.
And so I think you see this whole conversation now turning to, is there an end game?
But the truth is that while U.S. policy has long been Assad must go, the reality is no one thinks he's going anywhere anytime soon, except maybe Tehran or Moscow for day trip. It's very unlikely that we see him go anywhere anytime soon.
VAUSE: In the United States, incoming national security adviser John Bolton, he wanted a larger, much more powerful military response. Donald Trump, the U.S. president said no regardless that there was a lot backslapping for Bolton from Donald Trump. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: John Bolton is here and we just had a big --
(APPLAUSE) TRUMP: -- so I think --
TRUMP: -- John, that's pretty good. I didn't expect that. I'm a little jealous.
Are you giving him all the credit?
You know that means the end of this job, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Especially for Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) popular in Europe.
So how difficult is for European leaders to sign on board for something led by the U.S. president, especially when (INAUDIBLE) stuff like this or it's a great big piece of chocolate cake, (INAUDIBLE).
THOMAS: -- extraordinarily difficult because of the question of trust and this (INAUDIBLE) Bolton's week one, right. So we're already seeing action, military strikes and so on. The level of trust is very low and his comments are inconsistent and they're at odds with his administration.
It's hard to see that a Middle East policy is clearly in place. And so the long-term goals and the long-term solution are not there. There's this extraordinary back-and-forth between him and Emmanuel Macron as to whether or not Macron in fact convinced him to maintain his presence in Syria or not.
Emmanuel Macron's invited to come to the United States to make his official visit next week. So we can see how this conversation will continue on.
But no, there is very little trust that this can be shaped by the Trump administration. And I think that Macron sees that and perhaps even an opportunity for him to lead the way on this, particularly given French interests, long-term historical presently in Lebanon and in Syria.
VAUSE: Gayle, 30 seconds?
LEMMON: This is the thing. You have this transatlantic relationship that many think has been tested. But in some ways looks stronger than it did for the United States, Syria has been a policy-free zone since 2011.
And we will see if any of that changes. People ascribe almost everything to Trump when the truth is that Syria has been a continuation of a policy that has faced challenges for years.
VAUSE: As they say, a strike is not a strategy and we have yet to see what that might be. Gayle and Dom, thank you. Appreciate it. Still to come here, Starbucks under fire, demands for action grow after two African American men were arrested in Philadelphia for trespassing. At a Starbucks?
And now another incident has surfaced, this time at a Starbucks in the Los Angeles area. We'll have all those details in just a moment.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour.
VAUSE: What some people are interpreting as an incident of racism at Starbucks had generated protests of outrage and calls for action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Starbucks Coffee is anti-black.
A whole lot of racists --
VAUSE (voice-over): OK, so here's what led to that demonstration. Employees at a Philadelphia Starbucks said two African American refused to leave when they told they couldn't use the restroom and wait for a friend unless they were paying customers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Subsequently arrested after the manager called police. And now there is another incident. This one surfaced when a few month ago a Starbucks in the Los Angeles area, an African American man who was apparently a customer needed the key code to unlock the restaurant. He was refused that number but another man supposedly hadn't ordered anything and was white, was actually given the restroom code.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys gave him the code, right? Isn't that what you did?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my business right now --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, this is not your business. This is not your business. This is not your business code. OK, you may determine that but you're not the -- you're not -- you're not in charge. I'm not -- is it my skin color?
Is it my skin color?
Is it my skin color?
Is it my skin color?
I can use the bathroom but what's included?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK, social commentator Segun Oduolowu joins me here now with more.
OK. Thank you for coming in because I want to talk to you about --
SEGUN ODUOLOWU, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Thank you for having me.
VAUSE: Here's a little more from that confrontation in California which was back in January. I want you to watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing, (INAUDIBLE)? (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). If anyone tells you that (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, but I was just about to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)?
Oh, OK, OK. So (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before you made a purchase they let you use the restroom, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just (INAUDIBLE) asked for the code.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You asked for the code and they just gave it to you, right, before you made a purchase?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK, so just to put -- make it real, this black guy comes in, asks for the code, sorry, pal.
White guy comes in, he --
VAUSE: -- could you go.
ODUOLOWU: I mean, does it get any blacker than coffee?
It's like, I mean, come on, like I -- (CROSSTALK)
VAUSE: Unless it's a latte.
ODUOLOWU: -- well, you know what, I don't like (INAUDIBLE).
Anyway, I'm just -- here's what bothers me and Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, has some 'splainin' to do --
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) but yes.
ODUOLOWU: I am not about to come on here and say that Starbucks is racist because I do not know the inner workings of their company. What I will say is the practice in Los Angeles and the practice in Philly are racially motivated.
To me that's undeniable because those two men in Philadelphia specifically said we're waiting for our friend. As they are being handcuffed and led out, their friend walks through the door.
So where are the cops who were like, OK, well, you know this really isn't an arrestable offense and the manager, what was the preceding factor in both Los Angeles and Philadelphia to treat the customer so poorly?
I think it's this --
ODUOLOWU: -- rubs off --
VAUSE: -- in Philadelphia, for instance, why did the white manager call the police?
Why do white people call the police when they have --
VAUSE: -- some kind of issue to deal with black people?
ODUOLOWU: You're a white guy. You're asking the black guy?
VAUSE: -- it's illegal to put in a -- to call in a bomb threat. It's illegal to make a false report of a fire.
VAUSE: This is a false report to police. These black guys were doing nothing.
ODUOLOWU: -- nothing wrong.
VAUSE: They get taken away.
So why isn't the guy who called in a false report to the police, why isn't he like charged or taken away or questioned --
ODUOLOWU: I think you're asking a question that runs through black people's minds every day.
What about us are you so afraid of?
Why in Detroit was a kid shot at with a shotgun for ringing a doorbell?
Why was Stephon Clark in Sacramento shot by cops 20 times?
But why are --
VAUSE: -- 12-year-old kid who was -- a drunk guy called in and said there's a kid with a gun. He gets shot dead.
ODUOLOWU: Why are they -- why are -- why does it seem that it is open hunting season on black people and that fear is now a permissible excuse to absolutely suspend not only our common sense but the writ of law.
Like we're sitting here. We're not loitering. We're telling you we're going to order. I have to call it racism on these two -- racially motivated on these two points but not Starbucks as a entity.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) this point for a little bit because how terrifying is it for an African American man to be told we're calling the police?
The police are coming.
ODUOLOWU: It's -- for me, and I'm going to be honest. I've really tried hard not to break down and cry because there are -- I work with kids when I don't do this. And the idea that I could be driving in a -- like a cop gets behind me when I'm driving. And I tense up.
So for you to say you're calling the cops on me, I've lost. I've lost. My word isn't going to be believed. It doesn't matter that I'm on television. It doesn't matter that I'm college educated. It doesn't matter that I'm married, I'm a good husband, I'm a good father, I'm a good coach.
Doesn't matter, any of these things. All that matters is that person, who has a little bit of authority, says that this skin tone is detrimental to them and I am --
ODUOLOWU: -- and I'm done. And I'm done. So the real question isn't what happens to us?
But why do you think, white people are so damn scared? Of me, of me and people like me?
VAUSE: I don't get it. I never have. Honestly don't. And I -- that's my God's honest answer. I don't get it. I never have.
ODUOLOWU: So what do we do?
VAUSE: Well, OK, so look.
ODUOLOWU: See what I mean?
ODUOLOWU: You're an educated guy. I'm an educated guy. We're sitting there talking to the world and we don't have the answers.
So here's what scares me --
VAUSE: -- a lot of white people are scary.
ODUOLOWU: -- a lot of scary white people --
ODUOLOWU: Have you seen --
ODUOLOWU: -- I digress. But here's where it gets really, really scary, John. We're smart, we're sitting here, we're talking, we're having this conversation.
We're two educated people.
What do you think that manager at Starbucks, what's their level of educational, talking to these two gentlemen, who know their level of education?
The escalation that could happen so fast because of your prejudice and fear could turn Starbucks and now have people rioting and you have people chanting outside Starbucks and calling it racism because you don't take the time just to use some common sense.
VAUSE: Exactly, OK. So the CEO of Starbucks, he did what every PR- savvy CEO should do in a situation like this. He begged for forgiveness on "Good Morning, America." Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN JOHNSON, STARBUCKS CEO: The circumstances surrounding the incident and the outcome in our store on Thursday were reprehensible. They were wrong. And for that, I personally apologize to the two gentlemen that visited our store.
Certainly, it's my responsibility to understand what happened and what led to that and ensure that we fix it. There are some scenarios where the police should be called, if there's threats or disturbance, those may be appropriate times.
In this case none of that occurred. It was completely inappropriate to engage the police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ODUOLOWU: See, I like what he said but it also feels like crocodile tears because what they didn't say is that that manager that called the police, that manager hasn't been fired. That manager no longer manages that particular Starbucks --
VAUSE: He gave the impression that he had been --
ODUOLOWU: Ah, no, they have moved that -- they have moved that manager to another location but they cannot --
ODUOLOWU: -- yes, it's in upstate Massachusetts. They have not outright said that that person has been fired. And again, what he said, I'm happy that he said and you don't really see CEOs saying that the action of the manager was reprehensible. What you said -- what you normally get is, "We'll investigate."
ODUOLOWU: Mistakes were made. There were good people on both sides. You know. We've heard that before.
VAUSE: Maybe once or twice.
ODUOLOWU: But this is -- unfortunately, if you are black in America, this is your reality, that you are walking a tightrope.
ODUOLOWU: It does suck. It does -- you're watching -- you're walking a tightrope between being getting the police called on you when you're trying to buy a cup of coffee.
VAUSE: Yes. So add that to the list (INAUDIBLE) Starbucks.
ODUOLOWU: Can't sit in Starbucks --
VAUSE: -- at the traffic light.
ODUOLOWU: -- you can't sit at traffic light, can't reach for your cell phone because it could be a gun.
VAUSE: Everything. It's a long list.
ODUOLOWU: Listen --
ODUOLOWU: -- you're preaching to the choir. We need you --
ODUOLOWU: -- on the soapbox now because I'm tired of hearing me say it. We need more people like you (INAUDIBLE) forever.
VAUSE: -- finally.
You're the last guy on Planet Earth.
VAUSE: I'm always slow. Good to see you.
ODUOLOWU: Well, it's good to see you. You're not slow with your equality. You're fast on that. And God bless you for that.
VAUSE: Thanks, mate.
OK. Still to come here, there's been some (INAUDIBLE) flooding in Hawaii. It's stranding dozens of restaurants and wiping out homes and businesses. The very latest in just a moment.
VAUSE: Parts of Hawaii are trying to recover after severe flooding and mudslides. The state's government declared emergency on the island of Kauai, which has been pounded with heavy rain over the weekend.
The floods have destroyed homes and businesses, washed out roads; more than 100 people have been airlifted to safety.
VAUSE: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.