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McCain's Casket Being Transported to D.C. for Funeral; GOP Aide Says Dems Winning Majority Could Lead To "Perfect Storm"; Trump Claims Google Ignored His Speech to Congress. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired August 30, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right, we are back live here. Live pictures of the late Senator John McCain's airplane. His casket is now on board. He will be traveling with 18 members of his family, taking off there from Phoenix for the final time as he heads to Washington, D.C. So, we are going keep a close eye on this, ahead of his big lie in state at the capitol rotunda in Washington. Then on to the national cathedral for the service on Saturday. We're going to keep a close eye on this as we watch family members board the plane. But I want to move on to other news of the day as well.
You heard the reporting from Jim Acosta at the top of the show. So, let me bring in two lawyers sitting next to me, Elie Honig, a formal federal prosecutor in the southern district of New York and a former Assistant Attorney General for the New Jersey division of criminal justice. And Bob Bianchi, the former head prosecutor and chief law enforcement office of Morris County, New Jersey. So, gentlemen, on to what Jim is reporting about some -- let me read this quote to you, which sums up feeling in the White House.
This is from "The Washington Post" today. Winter is coming. "Game of Thrones". Winter is coming ... Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood. The White House will be under siege. But it's like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody's prepared for war.
Right? So, you have this potential war of two fronts, impeachment proceedings potentially and Democratic controlled of House committees, subpoenas, wrangling with The Hill. How do you prepare for an impeachment proceedings?
ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: This is -- as Jim Acosta said earlier -- this is an epic storm that's brewing around the President. You have investigations coming from the federal level, Mueller and southern district, state level A.G., county level D.A., you have the possibility of impeachment. You have the possibility of endless subpoenas and investigations if the House flips. What you need is a real serious, seasoned D.C. lawyer. There is a real paucity of that in the White House right now. Arguably and that Flood is the only person who meets that. Don McGahn did, but he got thrown or pushed out, however you want to phrase it.
BALDWIN: After the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. So, it's Trump over Twitter. This is a good guy.
HONIG: Right. Just show him the door gently. Because he committed the two great sins of Trump world. He said no to the President and he talked. You know, serious lawyers sometimes have to say no. And if you are a client, Trump, who won't take no, you are never going to get that serious D.C. attorney that you need to get through this.
[15:35:00] BALDWIN: You mentioned the legal team, alone. I was reading a quote from Jack Gwen was a former White House counsel under former President, Bill Clinton, said, like on a good day, they had as many 60 lawyers, but often had in the range of 40. What kind of lawyers. You mention a good D.C. lawyer. What kind of lawyers do you need to prepare for this kind of thing?
ROBERT BIANCHI, HOST, LAW IN CRIME NETWORK: I ran an agency of 200/300 people. I had 37 attorneys. I tried to get the very best. They may have had different viewpoints. But we got into a room and we battled it out. We came to a decision, we moved forward. What you have is kind of what is being alluded to, you have a client who's not listening, who goes to Twitter, who's making statements there against his interests. He's got multiple jurisdictions coming at him.
And mark my words, Brooke, I have been saying for months, and I'm glad some people are coming around to it. Watch the state prosecutors in this case. They're going to come around like a whip saw because Mueller is not stupid. Because of the pardon power that the President has that he is not enlisting the Attorney General's office or the local prosecutor's offices with similar crimes. Could be a prosecutor on the state level to bypass the President's pardon power. So, to the point --
BALDWIN: Like give me an example.
BIANCHI: Well for example, look at what happened with Michael Cohen. He pleads guilty to the certain things, and the next thing he's getting subpoenas for tax problems that he may have for not paying his state taxes. I'm not saying that case is going to go anywhere. But with every joint investigation that I led with the federal government, we had state crimes they could be charged with and federal crimes. And the carrot always was, we'll let go if you plead guilty to the federal crimes. But in the event, something gets tricky with those federal crimes, here we are on the state side ready to prosecute. And I don't think that's being spoken about. It implicates Manafort, it implicates Cohen. It implicates Weisselberg, or anyone else who might be thinking, oh, I got the President in my pocket. Trust me --
BALDWIN: Weisselberg has immunity, remember, as does Pecker, which we'll get to in just a second. What do you think will give the White House legal team may be more of a headache? You know, one would think, one would think, oh my gosh, the "I" word. That's what Trump says, he doesn't want to say impeachment, the "I" word. The potential proceedings there or the idea of wrangling with House committees -- Democratic-controlled House committees.
HONIG: I think the potential of nonstop investigations and subpoenas will be more of a headache. BALDWIN: You do?
HONIG: But I think there's a more lethal threat coming from the prosecution side from Mueller, from the southern district, from the two state guys here -- it's federal too. But from the possibility of the state as an escape hatch. In fact, the President does do extreme things such as pardons or firings. And one thing I think the President will be well advised to do -- which he has not done so far -- is to take a page out of what Bill Clinton did back in the '90s. No pun intended -- he put a wall between the White Water defense and his day-to-day job as a president. He said these are my lawyers. He had the best lawyers in the country. They're going to handle the special counsel -- the independent counsel at the time, Ken Starr -- and I'm just going to be President every day, and I'm not distract myself with this. And here we see our President now is going nuts.
BALDWIN: Which is what this White House should be doing.
HONIG: Yes, that's what I would advise. But you see the President doing the opposite. He's waking up in the middle the night and setting out tweets.
BIANCHI: You have clients like this, that you give them the sound advice about remain silent, don't say anything. That protects the innocent as well as the guilty. And these feds and state attorneys are looking at every single tweet, specifically as it relates to obstruction and trying to make the case something different. May not be to protect the President, could be Don Jr. It could be to protect Kushner. It could just be because he doesn't want the investigation to go any longer. And every day he does it he's putting him and his crew in jeopardy. And he's just not listening to the lawyers that are saying keep your mouth shut.
BALDWIN: Everybody watching the outcome of November 6. Oh, so kept closely and carefully. Gentlemen, thank you so much for that.
Still ahead here, President Trump takes his, quote, fake news attacks to the social media giants and his son toys with the idea of creating an all new platform for conservatives. We have details on that.
And live pictures back in Phoenix. The plane is still on the ground there carrying the casket -- carrying the late Senator, John McCain. About to take off. A number of family there on the plane, on board, heading next to Washington, D.C. a full weekend of memorial events planned right here on CNN. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT WOODS, FRIEND OF SENATOR MCCAIN: He fought the good fight. He finished the race. He kept the faith. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: We want to take you right back to Phoenix. You can see the plane carrying the late Senator John McCain taxiing and on the left side of your screen, 300 members of the Arizona National Guard there standing by for this moment. Nick Watt and Maeve Reston are standing by for me. And Nick, let me just start with you, since you're there at the airport. I heard you say earlier 18 members of the Senator's family are on the plane before they had to Washington, D.C. who's with them?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, 18 members. Obviously, his late wife Cindy. They were married for 38 years. All seven of his children, both biological and adopted and four grandchildren and friends. You know, for them, they are, I mean, it's a beautiful sendoff that he planned himself. But also, think of the family. I mean they're having to going through service after service after service, remembering the father, the grandfather, the husband that they loved.
[15:45:00]And of course, the country and Arizona mourning the statesman, the hero, the war hero, the man who served this state for 35 years. And took this flight numerous times to Washington, D.C. apparently when he and Cindy were raising their kids here in Phoenix, she was from Phoenix. That's why he moved here. He would always try and make it back for the weekend to be here with us kids. And it's very obvious the love that all of his children have for him and the deep pain that they are feeling right now. It's very obvious as they were on the tarmac here, the little touches of shoulders, the body language between them all. It's clearly an unusual family, modern family, but very, very united now in grief -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Nick, thank you so much. Maeve. I want to come to you, but I just want to be clear. Let's just when we see this plane take off let's just all sit in silence out of respect for this national hero. But just to quote his dear friend, the former Vice President, Joe Biden, earlier at his service. I know you're there at the church. He said to paraphrase Shakespeare, we shall not see his like again -- Maeve.
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: That was just that moment, Brooke, that just hits you in the gut. I mean, it was so poignant. I'm thinking of Senator McCain's friends, this former fighter pilot taking his last flight and all his friends on board who are swapping stories about him, telling his funniest jokes.
BALDWIN: Let's just watch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'd like to say good-bye to a man that's meant so much to this state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there they go. They say goodbye to departure. They'll be switching over to the other frequency to direct them back to Andrew's Air Force Base.
BALDWIN: Just so poignant. To watch this. You don't even have to have known him. To hear air traffic control speaking about him as he left his beloved Arizona for the final time, heading to Washington, D.C., a place he knew oh so well, heading to lie in state at the capitol rotunda where so many other people will be able to pay their respects tomorrow. Maeve, help me out. It's a beautiful picture.
RESTON: Just so moving. And he -- you know, he loved flying so much. He felt so free and so it's just so moving to see this final flight with Senator McCain, you know, there with Cindy and all of his friends. These men that traveled so many miles with him on the campaign trail, his fellow prisoners of war who wanted to be with him all the way there through the end -- Brooke.
Maeve, thank you so much. We will take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: The President's obsession with discrediting the media is reaching a new platform, Google. President Trump tweeting this pre- produced video today where he claims the search engine ignored his speech to Congress but instead promoted a live stream of President Obama's state of the union speeches. Google quickly refuted that claim and explained that they did indeed highlight President Trump's 2018 state of the union. But quote, we have historically not promoted the first address to Congress by a new President which is technically not a state of the union address.
So, let's start here. CNN senior media reporter, Oliver Darcy is with us.
[15:55:00] And social media and tech expert, Lance Ulanoff is back with us as well. And so, let's just start with the President's tweet, Oliver. What more do you know about why he did that?
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: It's really unclear why he tweeted this particular video. Like you pointed out, it's not grounded in fact. Google did in fact promote the presidency of the union address in 2018. And they don't promote the first address to Congress every year. That's technically not a state of the union address. And it was no different when Obama was in office. But this is part of a larger push by conservatives where they allege the social media companies have bias against conservatives. And it's very similar I think what you see them do with the media. Where they say that these powerful entities are pushing a supposedly liberal bias on consumers. There isn't really anything there in most of the instances that they point to. But it's part of a larger agenda and it's really a political issue that they're using to whip up the conservative base, excite the conservative base for the midterms.
BALDWIN: Along the same vein -- I was reading, I get my top ten lists from Mike Allen and Axios, every morning in my inbox. And he was talking about his interview with the President's son, Don Jr. and so he said -- this is a quote from Don Jr. ... exactly zero doubt in my mind that tech bias is real. I don't think this issue is going away because I don't think it is changing.
And they even entertain the idea of building a conservative social network. This is what he said. I would love to do it but what I would prefer is take one or two Silicon Valley conservatives. And let them start it and then I'd help promote the platform and be all over that.
That's a fantastic idea, starting a social platform that no one is on.
LANCE ULANOFF, SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECH EXPERT: Exactly. One of the difficulties of starting a new platform is that your friends are all on the other place. Oh, by the way, the President is on Twitter. So, starting an alt-twitter, a conservative Twitter, he won't be there because he's got his whole audience there. He's not going to do it. Same with Facebook.
BALDWIN: Is the idea grab he's saying grab some conservatives from Silicon Valley?
ULANOFF: It is the kind of thing that can certainly be done. But it'll take a really long time to get any sort of traction or leverage, certainly not what they want to do. This is a distraction, obviously. We've got the midterms coming up here and they want to be talking about that. But one of the thing that I really walked away from is that Trump doesn't understand Google search at all. He doesn't understand this technology. It doesn't matter. You know, he basically says whatever he wants. You know, he doesn't understand that search is built on a whole bunch of things, it's built on page rank, it's built on signals, it's built on heuristics, it's built on context. He doesn't understand it.
He simply saw something from a study that was done that is kind of debunked and went forward with that. But it resonates with his base that has a deep distrust of technology. And I will say there are real conversations to have here about data and privacy and algorithms and A.I. but this is not the way to start that conversation.
BALDWIN: You my friend, got an interesting phone call last night.
BALDWIN: Steve Bannon, formally the White House chief strategist. He calls you up and you have a conversation with him about tech and conservatives. And what does he say to you?
DARCY: Well he says a lot of the same stuff that you hear from the President. But he's actually a little more radical than Trump himself. Particularly when it comes to talking with these executives. He claimed -- called them evil. He said these are run by sociopaths. These people are complete narcissists. These people ought to be controlled, they ought to be regulated. These people are evil. There is no doubt about that.
BALDWIN: Who are these people?
DARCY: These are the tech executives at Facebook, at Google, at Twitter. He said that these are all evil people. And he said there was no doubt about it. He also said that he thinks that the government should seize the data that the tech companies have accumulated over the years.
BALDWIN: The government should seize the data. I'm looking at Lance's face.
ULANOFF: This is a fantastic idea. There are already distrustful of the tech companies that have the data, but let's give it to the government where they are always afraid the government is watching them. The government is looking at this stuff.
And which is it? Is it regulation or deregulation? You know because it's deregulation at one point but with tech companies let's regulate them. That's all I have heard. You know, tech companies are dealing with a whole new set of problems. When they were building the technologies, they were thinking left and right. They were thinking the broadest set of people to make a business. And now they are struggling every single day to figure out how to satisfy both sides.
You look at Twitter's Jack Dorsey who went forward and said, yes, we have kind of a left leaning bias at the company, of the people, but we try so hard to make sure that doesn't get in there. And then he went on Hannity and he talked about it. So, because their scrambling. These tech leaders are scrambling to try and explain how difficult it is and how much they want people to enjoy their services.
DARCY: The bottom line is this is a tactic used to whip up the conservative base to get them excited, to get them out to vote, to fundraiser of them. We saw the President earlier this week. He started fundraising off of this alleged Google bias. So, I think you're going to see a lot more of it in the future.
BALDWIN: That is the bottom line. You summed it up perfectly. Oliver and Lance, the gentleman, thank you so much. We should have more conversations about this. As I'm listening to the two of you. Thank you.
And thank you for watching. Jim Sciutto is back in for Jake Tapper today. "THE LEAD" starts now.