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No Public Release of North Carolina Police Bodycam Video; President Biden Set to Address Joint Session of Congress; Federal Authorities Raid Rudy Giuliani's Apartment. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 28, 2021 - 15:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Brand-new hour. I'm Victor Blackwell.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.

We are continuing to follow breaking news out of New York. Any minute, we expect to hear from former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani following a raid of his Manhattan apartment earlier today, where, as far as we know, at least electronic devices were seized by agents.

The former New York mayor has been the focus of a criminal investigation surrounding his activities in Ukraine in the run-up to the 2020 election. Giuliani has not been charged, and he denies any wrongdoing.

BLACKWELL: CNN reporter Kara Scannell CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid are following all of the angles here.

I want to start with Paula, because you have new reporting on what this warrant said exactly. What can you tell us?


I spoke with Mr. Giuliani's attorney, and he described some of what was in this warrant. He said that, specifically, this warrant describes the investigation as one into possible violations of foreign lobbying rules. And it also specifically seeks communications between his client and several individuals, including columnist John Solomon, who wrote a lot on the issue of Ukraine in the lead-up to the election.

But executing the search warrant, this is a significant turning point into this investigation, which is looking into whether Rudy Giuliani was lobbying on behalf of officials in Ukraine, while also serving as the president's personal attorney.

As you noted, Giuliani has not been charged with any wrongdoing at this point. But it is incredibly unusual to execute a warrant like this on a lawyer, particularly someone who served as the personal attorney for a former president.

So, this is really a remarkable development in this ongoing investigation.

CAMEROTA: It really is.

So, Kara, you are outside of Rudy Giuliani's department. Do we know what they got in this raid?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, no, we don't know the details of what they picked up in this warrant, although they had been previously seeking his electronic devices and any other materials that would be related to this investigation into foreign lobbying.

But Giuliani's attorney also confirmed to me that, in addition to his apartment, which is just behind me, they also executed a search warrant today on his office. So, they're really doing a big sweep here of all materials that Giuliani had, as this investigation is focused on the foreign lobbying efforts that he was engaged in on behalf of both the former president.

And what they're looking into is whether this effort to dig up dirt on the now current President Joe Biden and his son Hunter had to do with efforts being pushed by Ukrainian government officials. That's the big question here for this investigation, is, was Giuliani working with Ukrainian officials?

And there was a lot of material that came out through the impeachment proceedings the first time around for the former president about his communications with John Solomon, and with other attorneys, as well as with Ukrainian officials.

They had all also worked with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, those two associates of Giuliani's who have been indicted on campaign charges. So this is now kind of a big sweeping moment in this investigation, where they're able to get their hands on materials that are both in Giuliani's office, as well as home right behind me.

We're expecting Giuliani to address the search warrant that was executed early this morning on his radio show shortly -- Alisyn, Victor.

CAMEROTA: OK, that'll be interesting.

Kara Scannell, Paula Reid, thank you very much. Please come right back to us as soon as you have any other developments.

Joining us now, CNN White House correspondent John Harwood, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and CNN legal analyst and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Elliot Williams.

Guys, thank you very much for being here for this breaking news.

Elliot, I want to start with you, as our law enforcement mind.

Just when I thought I could erase the names Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman from my memory bank, they're back. And so can you just remind us of what this is about, that Rudy Giuliani was lobbying the White House at the same time he was digging up potential dirt on Donald Trump's political enemies?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, let's talk about the crime that's at issue here or the matter, the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

And what it says is that, when individuals lobby the federal government, our government, on behalf of another government, they have to make a notice about or declare it to the federal government. It's quite simple. We just as a nation want to know when people are acting on behalf of foreign governments, and the Ukrainian government here.

And that's really what's at issue here. You know, all this stuff about Hunter Biden and so on, you know, the question here is, did Rudy Giuliani improperly advocate on behalf of Ukrainian interests to the federal government?


Now, so the question here is -- I think what's also striking is the nature of the lobbying. And when you talk about the various reasons why people lobby the federal government, some might be for more pork bellies or for -- to launder the public relations of another country.

This was actually acting, to some extent, at Ukraine's behest. An important note about FARA is that it's very rarely charged by itself. And, certainly, in the searching of one's home, they might find more information about other crimes.

And I think that's what we should keep our eyes on here, like what comes out of this down the road.

BLACKWELL: And, John, the question of why now, and why not potentially several months ago, I mean, we knew that, during the Trump administration, that the deputy attorney general then had stiff-armed any execution of warrants on Giuliani as part of the investigation.

Could this have been because of new or pertinent evidence or indications that they needed to move now? Or is this a change to Lisa Monaco in that deputy A.G. position or Merrick Garland now in the position?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly, Victor, would appear more likely to be the latter, that is to say, the impediment that was posed by the Trump administration being removed, rather than new information.

This is an investigation that's been going on for some time. And let's just remember, it is not some random coincidence that we're talking about Ukraine with respect to Rudy Giuliani. This is directly connected to the story of Russian interference that began in 2016.

Remember, Donald Trump hired Paul Manafort as his campaign manager. Paul Manafort had been a consultant to the Ukrainian leader who was aligned with Vladimir Putin and then ousted. Russia interfered in the election. Paul Manafort, while he was running Donald Trump's campaign, with communicating with Konstantin Kilimnik, who the Treasury Department recently identified as a Russian intelligence agent.

What happened in 2020 was an extension of that story. The Russians wanted to absolve themselves and push the false idea that it was Ukraine that interfered in the election. Donald Trump advanced that storyline. Donald Trump also pressed Ukrainians for dirt on Joe Biden.

So, this was all part of an attempt to, again, help Donald Trump, absolve Russia. And it's worth noting that, before he left office, Donald Trump pardoned Paul Manafort, who had gone to jail without telling all that he knew about President Trump in 2016.

And one of the questions we have going forward is, if Rudy Giuliani is really in as serious as hot water as it looks right now, what does he know about President Trump? And if he knows it, will he tell it?

CAMEROTA: Excellent question.

So, Gloria, we have seen some version of this movie before, because this is the second time that a personal attorney to Donald Trump's home and/or possibly office have been raided by the feds. This happened to Michael Cohen.

And we all remember that he then ended up cooperating and, in fact, testifying in front of Congress about what he knew about Donald Trump. So, what do we think Rudy Giuliani's next moves are?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we will hear pretty quickly. I'm sure he's -- I'm sure he's going to fight this.

But the question that I have really is, I know we're all talking about this lobbying violation. And I know that it's usually not prosecuted. But, as John was pointing out before, the intelligence community had put out a report which strongly suggested that Rudy Giuliani may have been the -- part of a Russian interference operation in the last election, wittingly or unwittingly.

Is that what they're looking for here? What kind of conversations are going to be on those devices? Are those conversations with the former president of the United States? Are those conversations with his two buddies who are now criminally charged?

So I think this story probably has a long way to unravel. And, sometimes, you can get a warrant looking for one thing, and you find something else out. And I'm thinking that that may be what is happening here, although you do have to go to a judge, you do have to convince a judge that, yes, this is important.

And so it may be the lobbying problem, but it may be more.

BLACKWELL: Elliot, despite the shock and surprise that Giuliani's attorney is expressing through statements -- and, again, we're expecting to hear from Rudy Giuliani sometime soon in response to these raids. We would expect that they thought this was coming at some point, because the reporting was obviously public that there were these attempts to get search warrants on his devices, on his homes that were being held off by Jeffrey Rosen under the Barr A.G. in the last administration.


So, he -- did he likely expect this was coming?

WILLIAMS: Right. I guess they had to.

And, look, the Jeffrey Rosen relationship to this is only at the very, very end of the Barr administration. Our understanding, based on reporting, is that this started even prior to Election Day.

Now, look, it's not uncommon. Any administration, Republican or Democratic, would have delayed the execution of a search warrant like this for about the 60 days prior to Election Day to avoid the appearance of political conflict or whatever.

So, this goes back to, at least, I believe, as early as last summer, if not longer. So, yes, this should surprise no one. And, frankly, the statements coming out of Rudy Giuliani and his attorney are really more just attacking the process. It's federal government run amok and name-calling and stuff like that.

So, no, I don't think there's any real reason for shock or surprise.

CAMEROTA: John Harwood, how do you think former President Trump will react publicly and then privately, what he will be doing?

HARWOOD: Well, I think, in both cases, he's going to be upset, and he will express himself.

I think, first of all, it represents law enforcement getting closer to him. And even if he does not have exposure in this situation, the idea that somebody close to him was caught up in this way is something that is going to fuel his ability to say, look at what the Biden administration is doing.

He's been talking for a long period of time about the Russia hoax, about how Bob Mueller and crazy Democrats were going after him. Now you have got a Democratic president. He's going to fuel that storyline.

And, of course, there are a significant number of Republicans who believe him. But the fact that this investigation started well before Joe Biden was ever elected, and it's been going on for months, and career Justice Department officials and people in the FBI had been advancing the idea of this warrant, that provides some insulation from that charge for Joe Biden.

Joe Biden, it may be that we learn when all the facts come out that all Joe Biden's Justice Department did was get out of the way of an investigation that was rolling down the tracks to begin with. BLACKWELL: All right, John Harwood, Gloria Borger, Elliot Williams,

thank you all.

Of course, we have much more ahead on this breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We sure do.

Plus: A judge has just decided that the family of Andrew Brown Jr. will get to see the bodycam video of his death, but the public will not. Van Jones joins us live to discuss.

Also, President Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress is now just hours away. We will give you a preview.



BLACKWELL: For nearly five decades now, Joe Biden has been a spectator when a president speaks before Congress.

But now, in just a few hours, it'll be his turn. He will be there at the podium for the first address to a joint session of Congress of his administration. Just shy of 100 days in office, President Biden will call for another trillion-dollar-plus public investment, this time in free education and childcare, paid family leave.

CAMEROTA: I would say an active spectator. There's a lot of nodding if--


BLACKWELL: There's a lot of nodding, some pointing occasionally as well.

CAMEROTA: As well, yes.



CAMEROTA: President Biden's joint address comes as we get a fresh read on how Americans are grading his first 100 days in office. This is according to a new CNN poll; 53 percent of the country approves of the job he's doing; 43 percent disapprove.

Gloria Borger and CNN senior political analyst John Avlon are back with us now.

So John, you like history, and you write books about it, in fact, and presidential history.


CAMEROTA: And so the fact that it's 53 approval of the job he's doing, 43 disapprove, that isn't very high. But, of course, we're in a different time than any other president has

been in terms of the divisiveness of the country. So what do we make of those numbers?

AVLON: Well, look, it's at least 10 points higher than Donald Trump. And I think that's the key.

What we have seen in this deeply polarized time is that Joe Biden, in his first 100 days, has still been able to stay above water, his disapproval number relatively low, certainly by Trumpian standards. And his numbers in terms of whether people believe he key cares about people like them are very high. And that's a key empathy gauge.

So keep an eye on those numbers. As he extends his speech tonight, he's going to continue to go big with these bold, in some cases, surprisingly bold, progressive agenda.

But, at the same time, he's got to square the circle with his commitment to reach out and reunite to Republicans in the country at large, if not Republicans in the chamber.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there will be no thunderous applause in the chamber tonight, Gloria, obviously, because there will only be 200 people there, instead of the typical 1,600.

But there will be, as John mentioned, some enthusiasm maybe, 100 days ago, some would not have expected from progressives in the president's party, even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saying that he has an impressive agenda after these first 100 days.


And Bernie Sanders seems to be Joe Biden's best friend these days.


BORGER: I think -- I think progressives are happy because he's proposing a lot of stuff.


And whether it's going to get through, it -- he's laying down markers about what he wants. And that's really quite important. I mean, when he came into office, there were two things. One, he wanted to get vaccines in arms, and, two, money in people's pockets. And he kept saying that over and over and over again.

And, tonight, what you can expect is he's going to say, you know what, I did that. But he's not somebody to brag about how great he is. We have had that for the last administration. He's going to talk about what needs to be done, and talk about the importance of government in our lives.

So, Ronald Reagan used to say, get government out of your life. Joe Biden is going to be more like FDR.

CAMEROTA: He's also going to talk, John--

BORGER: Wants to be.

CAMEROTA: Good point.

He's also going to be talking, John, about more spending, more spending that he feels is necessary. Obviously, he's gotten tons of pushback from Republicans, even people like Democrat Joe Manchin.

But before we get to that substance, I just want to talk about style for one second, because it's been pointed out by various media pundits that this is not exactly his strong suit, the big room, raise-the- rafters kind of speech.

He's better at the intimate, one-on-one sit downs, or just speaking right into the camera. So what do you think he has to do tonight to deliver this?

AVLON: I think he's got to deliver a strong speech without losing intimacy.

He's been walking an odd line. He's sort of trying to present himself as a kinder Clint Eastwood-type figure. He's not a deeply charismatic guy. But what he has is credibility. That's his core asset. So he's got to be able to translate that into this comparatively empty chamber, and still speak to people at home with enough focus and passion to be convincing.

At the end of the day, his overarching message is he can make government work again. It's about competence, not charisma.

BLACKWELL: Gloria, our Kaitlan Collins said that it's a long speech that has been shortened some. I wonder, how much do you expect of that speech will be dedicated to a topic on which he has some of the lowest approval numbers? And that's the Southern border, being criticized by not only Republicans, but some members of his own party.

BORGER: Probably not as much as he's going to devote to the things that he thinks he has accomplished.

Biden is somebody who's going to say, this is what is left to do. This is what we need to do with immigration. We have to have a path to citizenship. He may mention the Southern border. But I think what he's going to talk about is how he thinks the government can come out of what we have been through for the past year, or, in fact, for the past four years, and help average Americans.

And what he wants and where he's going to get that money, whether it's taxing corporations or taxing the wealthy, to a degree, not taxing the middle class. And what he is proposing, I should say, is very popular in the country. When you're proposing infrastructure, and the country is all for it. Over 60 percent of the American public says we need to repair roads and bridges.

I would venture they'd also say we need to give broadband to rural communities. So, his game plan has been to propose things that are already popular in the country, even though they may not be popular with a lot of the Republicans in Congress.

BLACKWELL: All right, Gloria Borger, John Avlon.

Again, our coverage starts tonight at 8:00.

Thank you both.

BORGER: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: So, new developments in the Andrew Brown case in North Carolina. A judge has denied the media's request to publicly release bodycam video.

But he is going to let some people see it, at least soon, if not immediately, as community outrage intensifies. We have got Van Jones up with us next.



CAMEROTA: Despite legal requests from the media, including CNN, a North Carolina judge will not publicly release law enforcement bodycam videos showing the deadly shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

But he will allow immediate family members to view these and one attorney. The judge said that turning over the video to the news media could affect a potential trial of the officers involved. Thus far, the family says they have only seen 20 seconds, just a clip from a single deputy's body camera.

The sheriff has called for a full release and said the ruling is not what he had hoped.

Joining us now is CNN political commentator Van Jones.

Van, what's your response to this judge's ruling?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It doesn't make a lot of sense.

We just saw a trial where the whole world has seen the video. There was a trial. It was a fair trial. And you had an outcome. These videos are being seen all over the place all the time.

Is there something so horrific about this particular video that it is going to be especially prejudicial, when all these others are already out there? It doesn't make a lot of sense.

It does heighten the sense, though, that something really, really bad happened here. Even what they describe in court, that's what happened. Doesn't make sense. In court, they're describing a situation where the officers -- where the -- where Mr. Brown is driving away, and they're firing on the car.

I'm sorry. You can use deadly force if you are protecting your own life, if you are in deadly peril. A car driving away from you is not putting you in peril.

So, even what they described doesn't make sense.