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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
New Details on Bombing Suspect; Reporter: Trump Used Charity Money to Settle Legal Problems; Candidates Prepare for Debate in 5 Days. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired September 21, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:31:36] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New revelations about New York and New Jersey bombing suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami. Officials say he had e-mail accounts with jihad-related videos. Plus, his notebook or his journal had ramblings against the U.S. government, including this line, "Inshallah, God willing, the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets, gunshots to your police, death to your oppression."
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Officials have also now released a complaint against Rahami and details about the bombs he used.
CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, has been following that story for us.
Pamela, what are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This criminal complaint has a wealth of details, particularly about the premeditation and planning that went into the bombings. And according to investigators, just two days before the bombs were placed in New Jersey and New York, the bomber, the suspect, was seen igniting an explosive in a backyard. Investigators say that in that cell phone video belonging to a relative of Rahami, you could hear laughing after the explosive goes off. And investigators say the suspect actually entered the frame. Again, just two days before the bombs were placed. The complaint also says that back in June, the suspect was buying bomb-making materials off of eBay and those materials were sent to a business in New Jersey. Also, there's surveillance video that investigators looked at showing the suspect entering Manhattan the night of the bombings two hours before that bomb went off on 23rd Street. Then you see him leaving Manhattan several hours later.
U.S. officials I have been speaking with say they are surprised by how little the suspect did to cover his tracks, just based on the evidence recovered. 12 fingerprints on that unexploded bomb on 27th Street, investigators say belonged, to the suspect. And then there was this notebook with rambling writings are referenced in this complaint, where, as you point out, he talked about bombs going off in the streets, gun shots to your police, death to your oppression. There's one theory the gunman may have thought he -- or I should say the bomber, the suspect, in this case, maybe thought he was going to die that night and perhaps that's why he did so little to cover his tracks. So there's still a lot to be learned, whether or not he acted alone.
According to investigators, they are still interviewing family members. We know they have been interviewing his wife who is overseas. There's no indication that she knew anything about his -- this plot or had any prior knowledge. She's not been accused of any wrongdoing but this investigation still very active -- Kate and John?
BERMAN: Pamela Brown, thanks so much.
Want to bring in Art Roderick, CNN law enforcement analyst and former assistant director at the U.S. Marshal Service; and, Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst and author of "Security Mom."
Juliette, this man was on the radar. The father had said he thought his son was a terrorist. There were weird, interesting family dynamics at play. But the fact is the FBI knew who this man was a couple years ago. A similar thing happened in Orlando with the shooter there. Is this a case, again, of missed opportunities?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you always want to look at a case like this, right, in which the attack was successful -- fortunately no one was killed -- and see where the missed opportunities are. I will say two years ago, the FBI seems to have been dragged into a family, essentially a family dispute, and made a determination that that is exactly what was going on. That was, of course, an inaccurate or at least not a totally complete assessment, and whether they should have gone back over the years, we can hardly know at this stage.
[11:35:18] I just want to make it clear that two years ago it was a family dispute that engaged the FBI. It wasn't any triggering from signal intelligence or anything related to his travels. To say the FBI should have caught it then, I'm a little bit going to reserve judgment at this stage until we figure out, why did they never interview him.
I think one of the most important aspects to this case is how come his purchases on eBay did not trigger anything. That may be because we, law enforcement, is monitoring big shops like Costco or Target or something like that or hardware stores, and not online purchases.
BOLDUAN: Art, something that Pamela brought up, I want your take on. In this criminal complaint there's cell phone video from one of the family members of Rahami that, the way it's described in the complaint is, you see a fuse lit, loud noise and flames followed by billowing smoke and laughter, and Rahami walking into frame and dealing with what they were doing. There were other people there. Is there an obligation, if it is family, that they should have spoken up? It seems to suggest he was practicing bomb making.
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: When you put all this together, yeah, there's a lot of red flags that pop up. But Juliette is right, this was a domestic situation two years ago, and since that two years has passed, the FBI has changed some of their methods of operation based on Orlando and several other incidences we've had. But there is an obligation on the part of the family to call. There
was red flags raised before. There was violence, domestic violence within the family. It's going to be very interesting to hear what the wife has to say. Was there some domestic violence between the husband and wife going on at the same time that should have been reported?
Also, I think the key is when he went over to visit her in Pakistan, who did he actually go and see, where did he actually go, because that's going to be the key part of where he learned how to make bombs.
BERMAN: U.S. Customs and Border Protection raised some flags.
BERMAN: So the FBI had that also of late. Again, these things will be looked at.
And again, Juliette is right, learning is the key here going forward.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. Thank you very much.
BERMAN: The Trump campaign is now slamming a report that says Donald Trump used money from his family charity to settle legal problems from his businesses. Trump's campaign manager even says the reporter is obsessed with Trump. So what does that reporter have to say about all this? We have him joining us, next.
[11:42:02] BERMAN: Is Donald Trump dabbling in the art of the self- deal? "The Washington Post" is reporting the Trump Foundation has paid more than a quarter million dollars from the charitable foundation to settle lawsuits against Donald Trump's businesses. This report raises a lot of questions about possible violations of a tax law known as self-dealing. Now the Trump campaign is just going after the man reporting it.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk to the man. David Farenthold, from "The Washington Post" is joining us once again.
David, thank you so much for jumping on.
The statement coming from the Trump campaign, let's go through some of what they put out yesterday. One of the things they point out says, "In typical 'Washington Post' fashion, they have gotten their facts wrong." Also saying, "'The Post' reporting is peppered with inaccuracies and omissions."
Have they told you what facts they think you got wrong?
DAVID FARENTHOLD, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: No. Before that story came out, I sent them really detailed questions about basically everything in that story, and I got literally no response at all, not even an acknowledgment they had received the e-mail. Then afterward, they put out that statement. I haven't actually seen any, and I don't think any other reporter has either, any specific things they believe are wrong. If they have, I'm glad to see them. I'm glad to talk about them. I haven't actually seen one example.
BERMAN: They haven't told you what the facts are, although, apparently, they are all wrong. Let's read another part of their statement. "There was not and could not be any intent or motive for the Trump Foundation to make improper payments. All contributions are reported to the IRS and all foundation donations are publicly disclosed."
So does that clear things up?
FARENTHOLD: It doesn't. It's true that the Trump Foundation files tax filings to the IRS but the tax filings every year ask them, did you make an illegal self-dealing contribution this year, did Donald Trump use the money in his foundation to help his business or to help himself. They always check no and send that return to the IRS. What I found going through are some examples that appear to tax experts to be pretty clear examples of self-dealing that he should have told the IRS about. So they did make the tax filings, but if Donald Trump engaged in self-dealing, he didn't tell the IRS about it.
BOLDUAN: David, when asked kind of about this report last night, Donald Trump's campaign manager was asked if Donald Trump did anything illegal, and she said no, but she also pointed one -- at one instance in particular in the report calling it, "This is classic Donald Trump, but in this way, that he wanted to raise the American flag as high as possible over his property in Florida. I think a lot of Americans would applaud that." She gets to the point that there could be people who take a look at this and say, look, he's giving money from a charity to a charity, at least in this instance the fight is over how high a flag should fly and how big a flag should be.
FARENTHOLD: Well, I think that sort of confuses the legal issue here. In this case, Trump puts up an American flag on a giant flag pole that the town of Palm Beach decides was too high. It's against their town code. They fine him. He has $120,000 in unpaid fines against his club. You can think the town was right or wrong but those are the fines his club was facing, his for-profit business. So then Trump makes a legal settlement with the town that he agrees to. This was enforced on him, he agrees to it, and the town says we will waive the $120,000 of unpaid fines, but you, Donald Trump, your club, must pay 100,000 to this specific veteran's charity. What Trump does it, basically, he doesn't give any money from his own pocket or from the club as he had agreed to, but rather takes the money out of the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Even though the money is going from one charity to another, what the charity is doing is basically paying the bill agreed to by Donald Trump's businesses. It's like a gift from Trump's charity to Trump's business of $100,000. That's the part that breaks the law.
[11:45:41] BERMAN: That is what self-dealing is, a phrase that is just now being introduced to people, and could be part of this campaign.
BOLDUAN: David, thank you so much.
FARENTHOLD: Thank you. BOLDUAN: We will continue to follow up on this.
But also this. Look at your calendars. Five days, friends. That's all the time that's left for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to prepare for the very important first presidential debate. They are hitting the books, but how hard? They are figuring out how to push each other's buttons. What are the buttons?
BERMAN: You wanted to say how hard?
BOLDUAN: I did. But I decided not to. We will talk about it.
BERMAN: Plus, much more on our breaking news out of Charlotte. A city enraged by another deadly police shooting. Black leaders are now making a big demand. We'll take you there live.
[11:50:20] BOLDUAN: The final countdown, folks. Not the election, but just five days until Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face-off for the first time on the president's stage.
BERMAN: You know how you can tell? We have it right up on the screen, in case you forgot. Five days.
We have an all-star panel, chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; "CNN Politics" executive editor, Mark Preston; and CNN political director, David Chalian.
David, you are the director. We're five days out from the debate. Where are we right now in this campaign?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We are we in this campaign? We're in a place where we're a little frozen I think until this debate happens now. Which is, we are frozen in place where I think Hillary Clinton had a couple rough weeks at the end of August around Labor Day, the first 10 days of September. I think that's stabilized. And she probably has put a little bit of floor underneath her that wasn't there during the foundation and the health stuff. I think Donald Trump clearly has gotten more competitive. But if you look at the electoral map now, we are still in a place where the advantage is still Hillary Clinton's heading into the first debate.
BERMAN: Just smaller.
CHALIAN: A slight advantage.
BOLDUAN: A smidgen?
CHALIAN: Yes, but her avenue to 270, still, she has so many more options to get there than does Donald Trump. That's no small thing.
BOLDUAN: What's your read now, Dana? I mean, Hillary Clinton has taken time away from the trail to prepare, precious time. Every moment is precious. Donald Trump, you know, kind of debatable how much time he's taking.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Pun intended.
BOLDUAN: Yes, I think so.
What are you hearing about how they're preparing to take each other on?
BASH: Well, I think the way that they're preparing is completely in keeping with each other's styles, right? Hillary Clinton, as you said, is taking a lot of time off the trail, watching the videotape, a lot of it, from not just the past debates that Donald Trump was involved in during the primaries but other instances, trying to figure out what's get him, what kind of sets him off, how to -- how people react to that and that would help her, ideally guide how she will react to some of that. Her campaign manager was on saying she will do the real-time fact checking. Going to try, try to call him out on things she thinks is just not true, which, you know, we certainly have seen some of that historically, but more of a kind of -- an up-to general way I think that's it's going to be a lot more direct from her point of view.
And I also thought it was interesting that he recently took off the table, at least for now, the idea of going there on the Clintons in the '90s and Bill Clinton's sexual exploits.
BASH: Yeah, he, Donald Trump. We'll see if he sticks with that.
BERMAN: There was a claim before Donald Trump doesn't want to do mock debates. He's not prepares as much as maybe she is.
But this weekend he kind of did a little tell, right? Spent all weekend reading about trade policy.
BERMAN: And our friend, Kevin Madden, points out, like, I won't believe him when he says he's not preparing.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Yeah, but there's the Hillary Clinton way of preparing, book-ish and focus on every aspect and making sure she gets the "A" at the end of the day, and then there's the Donald Trump, like, hey, I think I'll go out, have dinner, go to the party, come back, crack the books a little bit. But the thing about Donald Trump, on policy, is -- and I think he does understand this, or at least campaign understands this -- is that he can't walk into this debate and not have the building blocks of what his policy proposals are. Doesn't need to have all the details --
BERMAN: His -- his policy details? PRESTON: Right. Let me emphasize that. His. Here's the reason why,
back in 2012, 67 million people watched the debate on a television set. That does not include how many people might have watched online. The largest debate ever watched was 81 million people back in 1980. I guarantee you, in this first debate, it is going to surpass 81 million between television and live-streaming.
BOLDUAN: When you talk about question, he needs to get his policies right, gets to a problem voters face now. It's hard to get answers from Donald Trump because it's been 56 days since he's held a press conference. I mean, and this is 56 days has been no questions about Birther, the latest, no questions about problems with his charity, or questions how he'll separate himself from his company. Except on arguably friendly places, where he's not getting these questions. They hammered Hillary Clinton when she hadn't given a press conference. The table has completely turned. What's good for the goose is good for the gander?
CHALIAN: No doubt about that. And we should keep the pressure on him like we did on her to answer questions. As we talked about at the time that the RNC and Trump campaign were applying pressure, I'm not sure voters keep a calendar at home of the last time a candidate held a press conference.
BOLDUAN: But we can't get the answers from him.
BERMAN: Or if we do, I want to hang out with those reporters.
CHALIAN: No doubt about that. But you are right that he is sticking to very friendly areas for interviews and that he -- he used to -- he regularly met with the press and took questions after every one of his primary victories, sometimes he did a press conference on the trail. That has stopped. It's stopped at the same time that he has gotten a little more disciplined and --
[11:55:23] BOLDUAN: And he has a new campaign manager.
CHALIAN: And new staff in place.
BASH: And I will say that the re-emergence of the Birther issue was part of an interview. It wasn't a television interview or press conference but part of an interview that he was asked about it and then he kind of didn't answer it and they felt they had to put it to bed.
But I do think that you're absolutely right to call him out on the fact that they hammered Hillary Clinton for not doing news conferences, and we should be hammering him.
BERMAN: The Trump campaign did the hammering.
BASH: Yeah. BERMAN: Dana, Mark, David, thank you all very, very much. Appreciate you being here in one place.
Back to our breaking news, protests in Charlotte in the wake of another deadly police shooting. The family of the man killed, they say he was reading a book in his car. The police say they found no book. They found a gun. Details ahead.