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THE SITUATION ROOM
"Empire" Actor Jussie Smollett Released on Bond; Judge Bars Roger Stone from Talking Publicly after Inflammatory Post, Interview with Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). Aired 5-6p ET
Aired February 21, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you listen closely to what the president answer secretary of state Pompeo have been saying they may be willing to start lifting those sanctions if they start to see what the president has called meaningful progress -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's a big if. Alex Marquardt, thanks so much. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now, breaking news: fallen star. Actor Jussie Smollett is arrested and charged with a felony for allegedly paying two men to stage a hate crime attack. The "Empire" star posts bond after a dramatic court hearing.
Motivation to lie: why would a successful star lie about being beaten and having a noose around his neck?
Chicago's police superintendent delivers a stunning rebuke, saying Smollett used the pain and anger of racism to boost his career and make more money.
Lack of judgment: back in court for posting a picture of a federal judge with the apparent crosshairs of a gun, Roger Stone admits to, quote, "stupid lack of judgment," a judge calling this post sinister, saying it could initiate others and imposes a complete gag order on the Trump ally.
Plotting terror: a Coast Guard officer accused of planning mass murder is detained until trial and on gun and drug charges but federal charges say he's a self-identified white nationalist who targeted lawmakers and journalists.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Two major court cases are gripping the nation in Chicago right now after Jussie Smollett left a courthouse in Chicago, after posting bond. He's facing a felony charge for what police say was a false report about a hate crime attack. Prosecutors say Smollett paid two men to stage the attack and coached
them on what to do and say. Chicago's police superintendent says Smollett, quote, "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."
Also breaking, back here in Washington, in a courtroom after an inflammatory post, long-time Trump confidant Roger Stone apologizes to a federal judge for posting a picture of her with the apparent crosshairs of a gun. He called it "a stupid lack of judgment."
But the judge says Stone could have incited others and imposes a full gag order, warning further violations by Stone, if he says anything, publicly could mean jail. I'll speak with Andre Carson of the Intelligence Committee and our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of today's top stories.
Let's begin with our national correspondent Ryan Young in Chicago, where Smollett was in court this afternoon. Update our viewers, Ryan. Tell us what happened.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We saw Jussie Smollett leave here about 10 minutes ago; in this video you see, he has his hand on the back of a bodyguard as he's being escorted to a car. This is the first time we got a chance to see the actor after his arrest.
I can tell you this morning he turned himself in around 5:00 am. Here in Cook County, they do not allow you a sheet bond hearing so there was no video camera inside. If we would have, we would have heard some the sordid details that prosecutors have put together.
You can see this crush right here with the cameras. What we're told on the inside happened, they started laying out some of the evidence. We were surprised to hear some of the details.
According to prosecutors, Jussie Smollett took the men to a location, showed them where he wanted to be attacked and gave them all sorts of ideas, including at one point asking them to pour gasoline on him. They changed that to bleach later on.
They went and bought a noose for $100 that he gave them. The assistant DA was also talking about not only the work that went into this case but the plans they had figured out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Defendant Smollett tested Abel, stating, "Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up to talk face to face?"
Smollett indicated to Abel his displeasure that the empire -- of the empire studios handling of the racist and homophobic letter he received three days earlier. Smollett stated then he wanted to stage an attack where Abel would appear to batter him.
Defendant Smollett also suggested that Abel's older brother, Ola, assist him with the attack. Smollett stated that he wanted them to appear to attack him on the evening of January 28th, 2019, near his apartment building in Streeterville.
Defendant Smollett also stated he wanted the brothers to catch his attention by calling him an Empire F, Empire N. Defendant Smollett then detailed he wanted Abel to attack him but not hurt him too badly and to give him a chance to appear to fight back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Defendant Smollett also included he wanted Ola to place a rope around his neck, pour gasoline on him and yell, "This is MAGA country."
Prior to the brothers getting out of Smollett's car, Smollett provided Abel with a $100 bill to purchase the rope, gasoline, ski masks, gloves and the red baseball caps, which resemble the ones that say "Make America Great Again."
On the late morning of Sunday January 27th, 2019, Smollett drove his vehicle back to the Lakeville neighborhood to pick up the brothers and show them the scene where he wanted the staged attack to take place.
Smollett directed the brothers' attention toward a surveillance camera on the corner, which he believed would capture the incident. There was a change in the plan in that bleach was going to be used instead of gasoline during the simulated attack.
Smollett then drove the brothers home and provided them with a $3,500 personal check made payable to Abel, backdated to January 23rd of 2019.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: The judge even expressed anger about this, especially when it came to that noose, the idea that that could be placed on someone's neck and harkening back to what all that means, especially to African Americans. Jussie Smollett had a $100,000 bond. He got out with $10,000.
Detectives have been working this since the very beginning; 12 detectives, more than 1,000 police hours. The superintendent of police was not happy about this. He came out with some very strong words. I can tell you that the rank and file were very happy about. They've been putting this case together but while this was happening, they were taking arrows form everyone, talking about maybe the Feds need to come in and take care of this.
Detectives knew something was wrong from the very beginning. The story just didn't add up. Let's hear the superintendent's anger, his voice and his frustration with this entire case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUPERINTENDENT EDDIE JOHNSON, CHICAGO POLICE: This morning, I come to you not only as the superintendent of Chicago police department but also as a black man who spent his entire life living in the city of Chicago. I know the racial divide that exists here. I know how hard it's been
for our city and our nation to come together. I also know the disparities and I know the history. This announcement today recognizes that "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.
I'm left hanging my head and asking why?
Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?
How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?
How can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?
Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who is in need of support by police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Wolf, I can tell you, the support for Jussie Smollett came from all across the country. Everyone was focused on this case and people were wanting to know, how could this happen in the city of Chicago?
Folks talking about the crime issues and how the 12 detectives working this case and whether they should be doing something else?
You could hear that in the superintendent's voice. Not only did they give Jussie a chance to come in since Friday, he didn't show up on Monday. He didn't show up on Tuesday. They're still going after the financial records, over 50 search warrants applied in this case, over 100 witnesses talked to.
We started to see all of this be laid out. I'm not sure I've ever seen a case like this laid out before court. It's hard to hear and wonder what he was thinking in all of this.
You may want to ask him at some point, how did it get to this point?
This was a young man revered in the African American community and so many people are left asking so many questions about why.
BLITZER: The Chicago police superintendent, his words were so very powerful. Argument, Ryan, thank you very much. Ryan Young in Chicago.
Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.
The president slammed Jussie Smollett on Twitter this morning. Tell our viewers what he said. KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did, Wolf, and he tagged the actor specifically in this tweet and said, "What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments?"
That tweet from the president came minutes after the Chicago police outlined the allegations against this actor, including not only that he claimed that those two men made racist and homophobic insults --
COLLINS: -- against him but that he made reference to the president's campaign, saying, quote, "This is MAGA country."
This tweet from the president comes just after last month he was asked about this during an event in the Oval Office with the reporters and he called it a terrible event, Wolf. He said he couldn't picture anything worse.
And now this morning, he is clearly making his opinion clear, that he feels his supporters were wrongly maligned from this actor and what police are now laying out. He's not the only person weighing in. Several presidential hopefuls, Democratic candidates running for president, having to weigh in, after weighing in on this when they believed this was not a staged attack.
BLITZER: Kaitlan, good point. Thank you.
Roger Stone has just left a federal court, where a judge imposed a full gag order following his very inflammatory social media post, which showed the federal judge with the apparent crosshairs of a gun. Senior justice correspondent Evan Perez is joining us right now.
These new restrictions are significant. What do they include?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for a media savvy person like Roger Stone, what the judge has now done is essentially cut off his oxygen. He cannot speak publicly about this case anymore. He can't do any radio, no press releases, no blogs, no media interviews, no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
If you remember, Instagram is where that offensive message that really upset the judge. You could hear it in her voice today in court. You could see that Roger Stone understood that.
He sat there, unlike the image you normally see of him with this bravado, he was very, very contrite, talking about how sorry he was. But clearly the judge could have done a lot more to him today. She severely restricted what he can say to the media much more than what he was under before.
BLITZER: Very different Roger Stone in that courtroom today. He was groveling. He was apologizing. He was begging for forgiveness. He was begging for some leniency. She's a tough judge. She wouldn't have any of it. PEREZ: Right. She clearly had done her homework. She brought the offensive images into the courtroom with her. And Roger Stone took the stand on his own behalf, saying that this was, quote, "a stupid lack of judgment," apologizing.
But, Wolf, he gave a rambling explanation of exactly what happened. The judge didn't buy it. She pointed out that he said he didn't know exactly which one of his so-called volunteers were behind this image right there you see on the screen.
He said that he didn't know exactly where the offensive image came from. He said, quote, "I can only beseech your honor I will be more judicious in my actions. This was a screw-up. I admit it."
Jackson told him that the apology rang hollow and said there are no takebacks in social media.
BLITZER: Threatening a federal judge, Amy Berman Jackson in this particular case, that's a potential federal crime.
Could he face additional charges?
PEREZ: The prosecution decided to go this route with it. They could have clearly done that. It all depends on his behavior going forward. The judge made clear she will not tolerate any more of this type of behavior from Roger Stone. She could have thrown him in jail and clearly could still do that if he decides to cross this line once more, Wolf.
I think he knows he's on a very short leash. You saw the images of him leaving the courthouse today, he clearly decided he was going to keep -- at least keep for today the gag order in place.
BLITZER: He has to shut up.
PEREZ: He has to shut up.
BLITZER: No more interviews, statements, no more social media and all of that.
Another development here in Washington today, another of the president's former associates, Michael Cohen, long-time lawyer and fixer, he was up on Capitol Hill, meeting behind closed doors with members of the House Intelligence Committee. Tell us about that.
PEREZ: That's right. He is scheduled to be before that panel next week, Wolf. Today was a little bit of a mystery.
Was this a pre-interview?
It's not exactly clear. They won't explain what he was doing there. It's not unusual for witnesses to come in and do this type of thing. We don't know exactly what went on.
Keep in mind, next week, he has three different interviews, the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees as well as a public hearing, which is going to happen while the president is overseas, doing his summit meeting.
We know from the list of subjects that he's going to be able to cover everything related to the president that he knows about. So that's going to be a big day watching that testimony in public.
BLITZER: Next Wednesday morning, 10:00 am Eastern.
BLITZER: He will be testifying in open session before the House of Representatives at same time the president will be in Hanoi, meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
PEREZ: That's right.
BLITZER: What a day that will be. Evan, I know you're working your sources. Evan Perez joining us.
Democratic congressman Andre Carson of Indiana is also joining us.
BLITZER: He's a member of that House Intel Committee.
Thanks for joining us.
REP. ANDRE CARSON (D-IND.), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thanks for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let me begin with your thoughts on this actor, Jussie Smollett, this awful case in Chicago. As you heard, prosecutors and police in Chicago laid out rather meticulous evidence detailing Smollett's apparent scene to stage a hate crime against himself.
What do you make of this stunning turn of events?
I ask you not only because you're a member of Congress but also you used to work in law enforcement before you went to Congress.
CARSON: Absolutely. I worked in law enforcement. I started as a special deputy with the sheriff's department, then with the state excise police and then with Indiana Department of Homeland Security in counterterrorism.
I think it's unfortunate when anyone files a false police report or anyone makes a false claim and try to win influence or enact retribution in some kind of way in the court of public opinion.
So justice is being served. There is still an ongoing investigation of sorts, so I don't want to condemn or defend. But I will say, you know, these things have to be dealt with. I think that if people are trying to leverage the environment and fragile race relations and homophobia, any phobia, for their own personal gain, it's disappointing.
I had a chance to meet Mr. Smollett years ago. I met his sister. I met his family. He comes from a good family.
Why he would do this presses the question, what kind of environment do we live in, Wolf, where folks are using social media for their own personal gain and minimizing the victims of true assault, true anti- black sentiment, true homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia?
BLITZER: The police chief, the superintendent, in Chicago said he did this to promote his career and make more money but in the process he really has set back so much.
CARSON: You know, in this insta-fame environment where, you know, one, it's good where you have social media as a platform to express grievances or build a profile to enhance your business or maybe your career.
Some have demonstrated themselves, even average citizens, to be so thirsty and hungry that they make false allegations. I think, as a law enforcement officer, they must be brought to justice and dealt with swiftly and firmly and we have to move forward.
But I'm concerned. I met his family, as I said before, years ago. He comes from a good family. It's unfortunate that this is happening. So much talent.
BLITZER: Certainly is. Well said.
Let me turn to other breaking news while I have you, Congressman.
Did the federal judge overseeing Roger Stone's case make the right decision by placing a full gag order on Stone after his inflammatory Instagram post?
CARSON: Oh, absolutely. Mr. Stone and others have -- his repeated mafia references in the past, doing this thing that appears to be a threat to a judge, it's a dangerous game to play.
Again, it's getting the reposts, the retweets, the likes. It can be intoxicating if you don't keep yourself in check. And so his provocations and dare I say even his pomposity has gotten him into this place, where the judge had to act swiftly and appropriately and so there are real lessons and takeaways that people should not try to influence the court of public opinion without really thinking about the serious implications of what happens in a real court and the consequences of your actions.
BLITZER: The federal judge could have thrown him in jail for what he did.
BLITZER: Do you believe she should have gone that far?
CARSON: He got off lucky. He's lucky with what she did do. She could have done it very easily and understandably so. And, you know, it's a very serious matter, what he has done, what he has -- how he has positioned himself throughout the year, very questionably so. He is certainly a charismatic and dare I say avant garde personality.
But this is not a show. It's not a game. What happened with the Trump administration and the Russian government is very serious and very critical. We'll be talking about this for decades to come. It's not a game.
And so him taunting the media and really enjoying the spotlight and publicity, good or bad, I think it speaks to the kind of personality one is dealing with when they would rather get attention.
Bad attention is worse than --
CARSON: -- no attention.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right. He's lucky not to be in jail. If he does violate that complete gag order, he will be in jail awaiting trial.
The president's former attorney, Michael Cohen, the former attorney and fixer for a decade, working for Donald Trump, he met privately with staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee today ahead of his testimony before the committee next Tuesday.
You sit on the House Intelligence Committee, which will also interview Cohen next week.
Have you met personally with Cohen to prepare for his testimony?
CARSON: I've not met in terms of preparation for his testimony. But I will be present in a few days, when he speaks before the House Intelligence Committee. Again, we have great leadership with chairman Adam Schiff. We hope to ask questions that were raised last year. We'll ask deeper questions, to delve more deeply.
The beauty of this three-pronged approach, the House Intel, Senate Intel and Director Mueller's efforts, are enabling us to attack this issue from all sides to see what we get out of it. So we want to talk to him, ask him important questions before he goes to jail.
BLITZER: The House Oversight Committee will have an open hearing with Michael Cohen next Wednesday. That could go on for hours. They say they plan to venture into topics well outside the Russia probe.
Will your House Intelligence Committee ask about the president's business over the years, for example, your committee?
CARSON: I'm sure there will be a lot of overlap. I don't think we can really delve as deeply as we need to go without discussing his business interests.
BLITZER: I'm sure there will be a lot of questions on that and lot of questions on a whole bunch of other issues. Congressman Andre Carson, thank you for joining us.
CARSON: Always a pleasure. Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next, more breaking news on the "Empire" star Jussie Smollett, released on bond after being charged with a felony for allegedly paying two men to stage a fake hate crime.
And Trump ally Roger Stone also leaves that federal courtroom here in Washington after a judge slaps a full gag order on him for an inflammatory social media post. Much more on that as well.
BLITZER: We are following multiple breaking stories, including the case of actor Jussie Smollett. He was released on bond just a little while ago after being arrested this morning. Chicago police and prosecutors say he staged the attack on himself last month, hoping to promote his career through what a police superintendent calls "the pain and anger of racism."
Joining us now, CNN legal analyst, Laura Coates, and our CNN anchor, Don Lemon, who knows Smollett.
You got a chance to speak with him after this whole development erupted. Give us your thoughts, Don, on these latest developments. They are truly shocking.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously it's a stunning turn of events and, yes, it is shocking. There were people, rightfully so, who were skeptical about exactly what happened. There you see the video moments ago. There he is, Jussie Smollett, being released from the detention center there in Chicago.
I think that people were rightfully skeptical of this. None of it made sense. At least most of it did not make sense. For the people who knew him or the people who know him, they know the man. They wanted him to be telling the truth. It was awful if it did happen to him. And it's awful if it didn't happen to him.
Listen, this is what I have to say. I've been sitting back watching this. Yes, I do know Jussie Smollett. We're not best friends but I do know him.
And the friend who was with him or staying at his place, I should say, because nobody was with him when it happened, he got back with the rope and all that, who told him to call police, just texted me in the middle of the night -- I was asleep -- saying Jussie was the victim of a hate crime, Don. I think you should know.
This same person I had been texting about the Kevin Hart situation and on and on. So we have mutual friends. He texted me. And so when I woke up in the morning, saw the text, called the friend. I talked to the friend for five minutes and said, "Jussie is sitting right here. Do you want to talk to him?"
I said sure and he gave me his story. I've said that I was concerned about him as a person. My concern was whether he -- if it was true, then he was a victim of a brutal, awful hate crime.
If it wasn't true, then he had issues that were beyond something that I could help him with.
There's nothing wrong with having compassion for a person. That does not mean that I believed the veracity of his entire story. And it doesn't take away from me having compassion for someone. I think that you can have that. And it doesn't mean that I have sympathy in a way that lets him off from what he's doing.
He did something. He is accused of doing something that is awful and he should pay the price for it if it is, indeed, true and the police and prosecutors in Chicago can prove it.
The police chief this morning, the police superintendent, Johnson, spoke to me and to the crowd. I think he was speaking to Jussie the way my father, my grandfather and my uncle would speak to me.
Sit me down and say, boy, don't you know?
You don't realize what you did. What you did was not just awful, it was despicable. And let me tell you why. And let me tell you why you're facing the consequences you're about to face right now.
He was speaking to all people of color. He was speaking to all the people who put their reputations and their names on the line for Jussie Smollett. He was speaking to every black, gay and queer person in this country.
[17:30:00] And by the way, the people who are most skeptical of this story were black and queer people who I spoke with. He was speaking to all of that, to us, around the country, saying this is awful and horrible.
And what you have done is possible set back gay rights, black rights and especially people believing the stories, as trans rights to people believing the stories of people who have come up against violence in our culture because of their sexuality and their race.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes, very powerful words. And very powerful words also from that police chief, that superintendent in Chicago. I totally agree with you. His words were very, very strong. You know, Laura, what do you make of the evidence, Chicago police and the prosecutors, they've collected against Smollett?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the fact that they've laid it out so methodically, that exemplified essentially awesome detective work that said, we took this case very seriously. As the media hedge with the word, potential hate crime, it seems that they regarded it as an absolute hate crime, and investigated it and pursued it to that end, which is why I find it so unconscionable, that if true, there will be a black man in America complicit with making the word, lynching, a punch line.
You think about Chicago, in particular, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago, who found his way in Mississippi and then found his body dragged from the Tallahatchie River and was mutilated, his casket, open, at the request of his mother, to draw attention to the horrific nature of lynching in America.
You put this idea of somebody using that as fodder for career advancement in capitalizing on that horrific history, and it's unconscionable. And you add that, and I have to put it in the same category of people who capitalize on the hatred and the systemic bias against African-Americans in this country.
Susan Smith, as an example, a woman who years ago in the '90s, drove her own children into a river in South Carolina and then blamed it on a black man, hoping to capitalize on that same mistreatment and hatred and bigotry toward black people in this country.
Somatically, it is the same to me. Did Jussie Smollett commit homicide? Absolutely not. Did he endanger the lives of two children and killed them? Absolutely not. But thematically, Wolf, what he did do when the evidence laid out, was using the opportunities and capitalizing on the egregious nature of racism and homophobia in our nation, to try to literally, financially capitalized.
The evidence pointed that out. And if everything they said is true, you're seeing cell phone data, you're seeing corroboration from two witnesses, who at the 47th hour were able to be able to confess, who were not charged with a crime and you're seeing the opportunity to have a viable defense mounted obliterate. It's eviscerated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's three black men, it's three black men, Laura. It's you know -- I mean, he is accused of orchestrating the thing. But then, you have two, you know, you have two other men who are black --
LEMON: -- Nigerian descent, right? I really don't think if things are the way police laid it out. And I'm sure you've read the bond proper that was read, was brutal. And it was lethal the way that they laid it out.
But I don't think that they realized the enormity of the story, just how serious it would become. And obviously, I don't think Jussie would realize if he is indeed guilty of doing this. I don't think he realize that it would garner the attention that it did and that police would take it that seriously as it did.
But as I sat there, someone who knows him, and I looked at the video and I saw his face just moments ago, that was the first time I saw that video of him being released from jail, from the detention center. It is -- he has essentially painted his own prison. He was a free, emancipated man, a black man in this culture, who had everything going for him.
He was good looking. He was out and free and proud, as a gay man. He was -- he is a celebrity. He is famous. He has money. He has the freedom in this culture and society that most people don't have. And now, if this is true, he has essentially painted his own prison and has ruined his career, and in a way, ruined his life.
COATES: Well, Don, I think --
LEMON: I don't know --
COATES: I'm sorry. I think you're being awfully generous when you say that he did not know the enormity. I mean, the very reason he used the intersection of MAGA country, homophobic slurs, racial slurs, tried to invoke lynching through the noose, tried to originally -- if all true, use gasoline as a way to try to incinerate a black man. And in the history of our country, he was aware of the magnitude, which is why he did it in that way.
LEMON: I disagree with you.
COATES: But I do think -- I don't want to cut you off --
LEMON: Let me clear what I'm saying. No, no, no. What I'm saying is, I don't think he realized -- I think he thought that this would be -- if it's, you know, if it's because he wanted more money, that he thought that it would garner some attention within -- maybe in the world of FOX or the people over at Empire.
I don't think that he realized. He thought it through to realize that this would have ramifications and it would be a worldwide story. Obviously, it's horrible. He knew the emotions and the symbolism he was playing on. Yes, that's true.
[17:35:07] But I don't think he thought that police would, you know, would be able to dig into it and figure it out. Because otherwise, why would you do it? Why would you do it?
BLITZER: I know, Don.
LEMON: I don't understand. Why would you do it, and for what? For what, when you have everything in the world going for you? I just -- I don't -- I don't get it.
BLITZER: Everybody stand by. I just want to make our viewers aware that Don, later tonight, he's going to have much more on this story, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, including the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, we're going to look forward to that interview. Stand by. We've got lots more on all the breaking news, right after this.
[17:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We are following multiple breaking stories. Roger Stone walked out of a Washington courtroom about an hour or so ago, after an angry judge expanded the gag order, preventing Stone from saying anything about the case filed against him by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Our legal and political experts, they are here. Laura Coates, you're one of our legal experts. So, what did you make of the judge's ruling?
COATES: It was the epitome of look, you give somebody an inch, they take a mile, I gave you the opportunity to try and make a living, if I'm the judge, and what did you do? You have this, you know, crosshairs behind my head, implying that somehow, somebody should take care of me, in some respect, you don't agree with my rulings or my opinion or my position.
And so, I think that Roger Stone is now seeing the trend. It's the same judge who was involved with the Manafort case as well, who said I've already put you on notice, that if you do something that's going to look like obstruction, and you're already being charged with cases that show you have no respect and are flouting the law in general, well, you should take heed. You'll be punished.
And in this respect, she may have cut off his livelihood but it also may save him in the long run from doing anything to compromise his own defense.
BLITZER: He's lucky not to be in jail.
COATES: Yes, yes.
BLITZER: Right now, she just said shut up. Stone clearly struggled -- clearly struggled to defend himself before the judge, earlier in the day. Are you surprised, Gloria, that his lawyers -- his lawyers let him make that statement?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, in one sense, they had no choice, in the other sense, it was a risk. And I don't think it worked out very well for them. You know, he started out being incredibly contrite, apologetic, you know, there's no defense for this. This was bad judgment.
And then, the more she questioned him, the more he seemed to dissemble, to the point where she was kind of saying who gave you this picture and who posted it? And he said, I don't know who gave it to me. And one of the volunteers or something, in my house, posted it on my phone and she said, you don't know who did it?
I mean, are there 500 people living in his house who could've posted it on his phone? Color me skeptical about that. I believe he knows exactly how it occurred. And, by the way, he also wrote all the hash tags, such as fix is in and went on info wars and gave an interview that was not complimentary of the judge.
So, you know, they -- she had him and he couldn't get out of it, and he's, you know, Roger Stone, is used to getting out of things.
BLITZER: He's a publicity hound, as we know, his whole career. Do you think, Chris, he's going to be able to keep quiet?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: He -- that's a -- normally, I would say no. I would -- I would think that this hearing would be instructive to him. I think -- Gloria makes the point. Roger Stone has lived -- all of this stuff is Roger Stone 101, in political campaigns.
The problem is, Roger Stone isn't in a political campaign. He's in a legal setting. I don't know how much that has sunk in. The disassembling, the -- I think he struggles to tell the truth. I think he spent a long time being Roger Stone, priding himself on dirty tricks, and he'll go where other people won't.
And while he knew Trump was going to win before anyone else, that I think he struggles in a setting in which not following the rules has real consequences. Not following the rules in politics, you get a smack on the wrist when the press says oh, you shouldn't have done that.
But look, Donald Trump didn't follow the rules, a lot of times, in politics, and he's still the president. In a legal setting, they can put you in jail.
BLITZER: Tough federal judge. Bianna, what do you think?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, in a way, this judge epitomized the opposite of who Roger Stone is. She didn't make it about herself, right, which is something that we constantly see Roger Stone do. He is the center of attention in everything he does in front of the media. And he is a man who knows this industry, who knows the media, who knows social media.
So, to come out and sort of play this naivety role and say I don't really know social media and contradict himself at times, like Gloria said. On one hand, he said, you know, they were at my headquarters, at my house and the judge said I thought you only had five or six people working there? What do you mean the headquarters? How many people work there?
So, the longer you follow their conversation at the beginning, he appeared to be contrite and then it appeared to unravel. So, I think this is the sense of who the man is.
BLITZER: Well, do you think this is a preview of what you'll see during the actual trial?
GOLODRYGA: It very well could be. Look, she could have been even harsher with him, in a sense. But, this is a man who is used to speaking his mind and constantly going on social media, and she schooled him, in that regard.
So, whether or not he learned his lesson, is to be seen. But, I think the points made on the show are valid. He's used to a public limelight. He's not necessarily used to a courtroom.
[17:45:03] BORGER: Look, this is a man who was direct messaging Guccifer 2.0 and --
CILLIZZA: Lying about it.
BORGER: Yes, exactly. So, you know, this is somebody who understands.
BLITZER: It was federal authorities accuse Guccifer 2.0 of being a Russian asset.
BORGER: Right, exactly. And so, this is somebody who knows exactly how social media works, knows exactly what he's doing. And, you know, for him to say well, you know, somebody put it on my phone and I wasn't --
CILLIZZA: Yes. And the judge made that point, interestingly. I mean, the judge -- you don't ignore the context of who Roger Stone has been all these years.
CILLIZZA: The judge essentially said what Gloria said. Look, you kind of -- you know what you're doing. You know when you put a picture of me in crosshairs, that's not accidental. And then, you know, the deleting it and then apologizing while it's still out there. And again, it's all classic Roger Stone stuff, like, well, he's pushed that out into the national consciousness to his supporters, so who cares if he deletes.
COATES: Do you know who else didn't buy the Roger Stone, oh I didn't know this was the case, Robert Mueller, which is why he actually has an indictment right now, because he had the impression, he's trying to convey the impression that I'm a broken clock.
I happen to be right, twice a day, just by default. That just happened to be right about the WikiLeaks. I happened to be right coincidentally about the dumping of e-mails, about Podesta, and the likes.
And so, the judge, much like Mueller, and his team have said, well, hold on a second, we're seeing through this bumbling idiot persona you want to put on and saying the coincidences now looked like they've actually been contrived, that they're actually strategized and that they're not at all the result of being a broken clock.
GOLODRYGA: And look, he seemed to dig his own hole. At the beginning, he apologized profusely, and that it sort of unwound to him not understanding what this picture meant and what it was and it was some of his volunteers, and they were five or six. They were at his headquarters, so just letting him speak on his own, seemed to get him in more trouble than anything else today.
CILLIZZA: That's right.
BLITZER: You know, as we watch, you know, this new Roger Stone emerge today, it's very -- for his whole career now, basically, you never apologize, you never backtrack, you never do anything, what he did today, fearing that he was going to wind up in jail and grovelling before this judge.
CILLIZZA: So, it does remind me, in a way, of Trump. They are intertwined and have been for a long time. So, Trump occasionally will come out and do what clearly his lawyers or his advisers, politically, or otherwise, want him to do.
The problem is, it kind of makes this point, the more Donald Trump talks, the more he undermines the thing he said at the beginning. That was the thing -- the message they want to get across. It's the same thing with Roger Stone.
You let Roger Stone talk, he's going to get himself into trouble, I would say I don't think a cheetah changes its stripes. Facing potential incarceration before your trial may be the thing that scares Roger Stone into not being Roger Stone. He didn't do the Nixon victory sign walking out of the courtroom.
You know, that could be -- maybe that speech, maybe it's not. It's right on the line, so he didn't do that. Maybe this is the thing that keeps him on the straight and narrow until his trial, to Laura's point, for lying to the justice department.
BORGER: Well, he wants to raise money. This was all about raising money. Now, other people are going to have to do it for him.
CILLIZZA: For him, yes.
GOLODRYGA: And this is not a show. They're used to years of this, sort of, being a big public spectacle in a show. I think the judge reminded him that this is real life and this is a courtroom. It's no longer a show.
BLITZER: Very serious, indeed. Everybody, stick around. An important programming note to our viewers, please join me Monday, when I moderate our next CNN presidential town hall with Senator Bernie Sanders, it'll be live from here, in Washington, Monday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
Coming up, the actor, Jussie Smollett, charged with a felony for allegedly staging a hate crime attack. Why would he lie about something like that?
[17:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: More on today, shocking arrest of the actor, Jussie Smollett. Police and prosecutors say he staged an attack on himself last month to promote his career and make more money. CNN's Brian Todd has been looking beyond this one incident, asking experts why people sometimes fake attacks on themselves. Brian, what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've been speaking with former FBI agents, to psychiatrists and we found that the psychology of why people do this is fascinating. We looked at some of the most notorious cases in recent American history and found that the motives can range from revenge to a desire for attention to flat out greed.
EDDIE JOHNSON, POLICE SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO: I'm offended --
TODD: A visibly angry Chicago police superintendent says it "pissed everybody off in the police department when they discovered a possible motive for Empire actor, Jussie Smollett's allegedly fabricated attack."
Superintendent Eddie Johnson says Smollett did it because he was dissatisfied with his salary. That he took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.
JOHNSON: Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who is in need of support by police and investigators, as well as the citizens of this city.
TODD: Smollett's lawyers promise an aggressive defense against the charge. But if Smollett did stage the attack, he wouldn't be the first.
LIEUTENANT GLINIEWICZ: I'm out near the old concrete plant checking out two male white, male black.
TODD: In September 2015, authorities in Fox Lake, Illinois, initially thought police officer Joe Gliniewicz had chased three suspects into a remote area, and were shot by them. He was found dead with a gunshot wound to his chest. Police later said Gliniewicz had staged his own suicide after stealing thousands of dollars from a charity he helped run.
Experts say covering up their own crimes is sometimes a powerful motive for people who stage attacks on themselves.
DR. DANIEL LIEBERMAN, PSYCHIATRIST, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I think that when somebody is guilty of a crime, they stop thinking in rational ways. Guilt, shame, these are powerful emotions. And emotion and rational thought, often oppose one another.
TODD: But Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a psychiatrist who's worked on criminal cases, says cover-ups are among several motives for why people stage attacks on themselves, or make false claims of attacks.
LIEBERMAN: When we're confronted with a victim of attack, we reach out to them. We want to help them. And that's a wonderful thing. I think that people appreciate that and sometimes they will stage an attack in order to get that when they can't get attention or sympathy in other ways. TODD: Lieberman says that dynamic may have been at play in 2014, when a woman identified only as Jackie, claimed she'd been raped and beaten by several men at a fraternity house at the University of Virginia.
Rolling Stone Magazine did a long investigative report on the claim. But, the woman's story was discredited when police said they found no evidence that a rape had occurred. Still, she continued to stand by her account. But sometimes, experts say, the motives for false claims become more aggressive than a simple desire for attention or sympathy.
JAMES GAGLIANO, FORMER SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT, FBI: Another reason could be revenge. Somebody is angry at a spouse or domestic partner and decides, I'm going to lie and say that they did something that they didn't.
TODD: Analysts say Jussie Smollett, whether his alleged motive was self-promotion, sympathy or money, is caught up in an American social phenomenon, the culture of victimization and the power it can bring.
LIEBERMAN: Being a victim gives one, ammunition, to go on the attack. And whether or not that's a constructive way to do politics, I think is a very important question.
TODD: Law enforcement experts and psychiatrists say there's all sorts of fallout from alleged cases of fake attacks. They say in some cases, it could make it harder for real victims to get justice. And in other cases, it can actually lead to dangerous retaliation, like what could have happened in the Smollett case.
They say someone taking on the role of a vigilante could have targeted an innocent person to retaliate for the crime that Smollett had alleged. Wolf?
[17:55:09] BLITZER: Yes. All right, Brian, thank you very much.
Coming up, breaking news. A long-time Trump ally, Roger Stone, returns to a federal courtroom and is slapped with a full gag order after posting a picture of the judge, showing the apparent crosshairs of a gun.
BLITZER: Happening now, Stone's silenced and scolded.