Return to Transcripts main page
AT THIS HOUR
New York Attorney General Sues President Trump And His Children; Soon: DOJ Releases Report On Clinton Email Probe; DOJ Report To Have More Texts From FBI Officials Who Ripped Trump. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired June 14, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We are following breaking news. The New York attorney general filing suit moments ago against Donald Trump and his family for violating federal and state charities law.
Let's get right to it. Jean Casarez has been pouring through this. She's joining me right now. Jean, what are we learning so far?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have just gotten the actual complaint, it is 41 pages, it is the attorney general of the state of New York and suing Donald J. Trump in an individual capacity Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump as well as the Trump Foundation.
And there are very serious allegations of violation, they say, of state law and federal charities law involving the Trump Foundation, co-mingling of funds. Let's look at some quotes. It says, first of all, quote, "The petition filed today alleges a pattern of persistent illegal conduct occurring over more than a decade, that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump's personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for nonprofit foundations."
It goes on to say, "The attorney general's investigation found that the Trump foundation raised in excess of 2.8 million in a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election at the direction and under the control of senior leadership of the Trump presidential campaign."
And what they are asking for in this is that they are asking for restitution of the $2.8 million, they're asking for more penalties beyond that. They're asking that the Trump be the foundation be dissolved under a court of law.
That Donald J. Trump is not allowed to have a charitable foundation for the next ten years for his three children that are named as defendants for fewer than that, one year each for them. And very serious allegations here, illegal conduct, they're saying. And we reached out to the White House, the Trump Foundation, his children here in New York, to get a response to all of this.
BOLDUAN: This all happening right now, give them a moment to respond, we'll wait and hear because the response is going to be necessary, either in public or in a court of law. Jean, thank you so much.
Joining me now to react to this is former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu, CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston, and CNN legal and national security analyst, former FBI special agent, Asha Rangappa. Shan, give me your take on this.
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it is important to distinguish between the civil and the criminal here. This is a civil complaint and that may cause some more problems for the president than the criminal one, you can talk about that later. But there is precedent that he can't stop a civil case from going forward.
That's the ghosts from the Clinton era coming back to haunt him. And on the criminal side, I think it is very troubling that they're talking about this collusion with the senior Trump executives with regard to campaign donations because that could raise problems with campaign finance laws and that has the potential for -- I think there are two tracks we're looking at now.
BOLDUAN: Mark, with the 2.8 million and what Jean very perfectly highlighted, they raise in excess of 2.8 million if a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election at the direction and under the control of senior leadership of the Trump presidential campaign. Does that get back to that Iowa fundraiser, is there something else?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I'm not sure. We haven't heard the details on what that coordination could have been. I remember that was the night for our viewers, if they remember Donald Trump refused to participate in a Fox News presidential debate in Iowa.
Instead, held his own rally to say he was raising money for veterans organizations and held a big rally across town. I remember being there. It was packed. You have to wonder, Kate, if that's what we're talking about here because there was so much made about it, and so much made about how much money he was raising for those veterans organizations.
BOLDUAN: So true. Asha, I think what I was reading, I was reading through the quick take from David Farenthold, much of this came out in the intrepid reporting at "The Washington Post" and what he uncovered. In his -- in David's piece in "The Washington Post" about this lawsuit, Barbara Underwood, it says she set a 20-month investigation was undertaken. What kind of concrete evidence are they looking for to come out with such a statement like this?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, this is the kind of case where you follow the money. When you have a charitable foundation as the president does, you have IRS filings, you have state filings to show where the money is going.
[11:05:10] Remember that private foundations raised money, mostly, from private donors who are coming in and they're told that your money is going to go to x, y or z. If that money is instead funneled back around, their donations are funneled back around into your own businesses, then you start to violate the laws that are in place to prevent using charities for self-dealing.
And New York has one, it is called the nonprofit revitalization act and it basically prevents using money for purposes that are -- in which you have a personal interest. So, campaign expenditures, Trump properties, businesses, all of those things would create conflicts under these kinds of laws.
BOLDUAN: And, Shan, you were talking about the difference between civil lawsuit and criminal here, you said this is civil. What is the difference? What does it mean for Donald Trump?
WU: I think what it means for the president is there is precedent that says a sitting president cannot stop the progress of a civil case. That was the Paula Jones Supreme Court decision. So here, as we're seeing with some of these civil suits, he may have to do combat.
He's got to litigate those, may have to give depositions, his team is going to object to that. They may try to make an argument that the sheer volume of it means that it needs to go to the Supreme Court to be decided. Of course, that's rather illogical on its face. It would indicate if the supreme court sides with him, the worse the conduct is, the more protection you deserve.
On the criminal side, if this turns into a criminal investigation of campaign finance violations, a sitting president probably does have the protection against being indicted or being pulled into a grand jury which gets us back into some of the questions being raised in the Russian probe. Those are the two differences.
BOLDUAN: That's pretty important differences and distinctions now. Mark, I'm trying to -- I'm trying to remember back how Donald Trump and his family reacted when these reports were coming out, throughout the election and afterward and I was just handed and reminded that at a press conference in May of 2016, Donald Trump, when asked about the -- he said he gave close to $6 million to veterans group and that comes from the charity we're discussing, the charitable event we're discussing.
When it comes to -- when it came to folks questioning him, he said you should be ashamed -- folks should be ashamed of themselves for asking questions about the money he donated. And, of course, he went on -- he went on to say I've never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job. All of that is now coming back. I just want to highlight that. We have yet to hear from the president, yet to hear from anyone in the White House or counsel.
PRESTON: Well, and that's been his go-to, right? It is a personal attack on me, this is being driven by Democratic interests, how dare you question me, you know, do as I say, not as I do. That has been his strategy, his defense strategy since he started running for president. You know, since he really popped on to the scene, when you go back to the late '70s, '80s and '90s and what have you. What is interesting about this new filing that we're seeing today, is this. This didn't just pop up.
As you noted, this investigation has been going on for 20 months. Just because the former attorney general -- Eric Schneiderman, forced out of office, to resign, over allegations of abuse, and we have this new attorney general who is just got in there, doesn't mean that she decided to drop this today.
This office has been looking into this for well over a year as well as many other situations with the Trump situation. So, we should not be surprised that this would have dropped today.
BOLDUAN: Asha, what happens now. What questions do you have?
RANGAPPA: My question now is how does this relate to just the bigger pattern that we're seeing? And on a number of different fronts. Shan mentioned the campaign finance issues, we see that that is an issue that is popping up also in the Stormy Daniels lawsuit.
The self-dealing, there is a separate lawsuit that is suing the president for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which is about using his Trump properties to raise money for himself. So, this is not a one-off.
To the point just made, I think that one thing to learn from this is that when you have investigations, they take on a life of their own and just because a prosecutor leaves doesn't mean the investigation gets dropped.
You have Barbara Underwood come in, this is an ongoing investigation, and I think this is a lesson to be taken when looking at the Russia probe also that removing people doesn't necessarily stop the investigation.
BOLDUAN: Yes, an important news on its face of this lawsuit now being filed and there might be a lot of messages and lessons to be learned even beyond this. Much more to come, thank you, guys, so much. I really appreciate it.
[11:10:03] Coming up for us, the inspector general's report, it is President Trump's birthday. One thing that he asked for, he said would be a great birthday present would be the inspector general's report coming out of the Justice Department about the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. That's coming out. What kind of birthday is it going to be for President Trump? That's next.
BOLDUAN: Breaking news, New York attorney general files a lawsuit against Donald Trump and his adult children and Donald Trump is now responding. Let's get over to the White House. CNN's Ryan Nobles is there. Ryan, what is the president saying? RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Kate. The president has taken pretty much a low profile since he returned back from Singapore. But he's got a lot to say on Twitter this morning. He's responded to that lawsuit that was filed in New York. He also seems to be setting the stage in terms of expectations for that inspector general report that is expected to be out later this afternoon.
Let me read the tweets from the president. First one says, "Now that I'm back from Singapore, where we had a great result, with respect to North Korea, the thought process must now go back to the witch-hunt. Always remembering there was no collusion, and no obstruction, and of the fabricated no crime."
[11:15:12] He goes on to say, "So the Democrats make up a phony crime, collusion with the Russians, pay a fortune to make the crime sound real, illegally leak," Comey in parentheses, "classified information so that the special counsel will be appointed and then collude to make this pile of garbage take on a life of its own in the fake news."
Then he responds to this lawsuit, just filed in New York state, he says, quote, "The sleazy New York Democrats and their now disgraced and run out of town AG Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on the foundation that took in $18,800 million and gave it to charity, more money than I took in, $19,200 million, I won't settle this case.
Schneiderman who ran the Clinton campaign in New York never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost two years. Now he resigned in disgrace and his disciples brought it when we would not settle."
So, the president making it very clear where he stands on this lawsuit, telling everyone via Twitter he does not plan to settle. This, of course, a very important day for the president, Kate. He's been waiting and highly anticipating the release of this IG report.
Last week, he said that he hoped it would be a good birthday gift for him. Today being his 72nd birthday. What we're hearing is the president's legal team is going to huddle once they get a copy of that report and go through it line by line to determine exactly how this impacts the president and his White House.
They will come here to the White House to meet with the president one on one and talk about what they found and then release some sort of a response as a result. Now, we did have a brief conversation this morning with Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Giddily.
He said he's not seen the IG report yet, but the president hopes for transparency as a result of this report. So still waiting to find out exactly when the White House is going to see that report, the president expected to be briefed personally by the deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on that report.
Have not seen Rosenstein yet, Kate, So, a lot of people waiting here with anticipation as to exactly how the White House is going to respond to this. Perhaps we're getting a preview through the president's Twitter feed this morning -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Stay close to it, Ryan, because it's not going to stop anytime soon. Ryan, thank you so much. As Ryan mentioned, it is President Trump's 72nd birthday. Nothing says birthday like cake, ice cream and a 500-page Justice Department inspector general's report.
That's what Donald Trump was wishing for this year, and the IG is releasing its long-anticipated report on the Justice Department's handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. An internal look at the FBI, James Comey, and more, and Trump is already making clear what he's hoping for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Look, he's a very dishonest man. I've been saying it for a long time. I think I did our country a great favor when I fired him. and we'll see what happens. We'll see what the report says, but I guess it just got announced it is coming out on June 14th. So that will be maybe a nice birthday present. Who knows?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: We'll know soon. The president was trying to build up anticipation for the report, just last week, with this tweet. "What is taking so long with the inspector general's report? Numerous delays. Hope report is not being changed and made weaker. There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has a right to know. This weekend, his new Attorney Rudy Giuliani went even further.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY (via telephone): The first thing we're going to get is the report from Inspector General Horowitz on Comey's handling of Hillary, which I think is going to be very, very critical. I think it should be. Comey really had a chance to be prosecuted as a result of this, but we'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So now what? Joining me now justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, with as much detail as we have at this moment. Shimon, what are you hearing about the details coming out in the report.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Certainly, you know, this report, Kate, it has been a year in the making. And certainly, FBI officials that I've talked to, hope this gives them that reset under their current new leadership that has taken over the FBI.
And the key issue here with this inspector general's report is going to be how he addresses the question of whether any decisions by the FBI or the Justice Department were motivated by any bias perhaps or politics.
Now, as you know, the president said the investigation into Hillary Clinton was rigged and biased in her favor. Less than three hours we will get to see if that is supported by any evidence.
The 500-page report we have been told will show that the FBI and its former leaders along with the leadership of the Department of Justice quite frankly mismanaged the investigation.
The report will be critical of then FBI Director James Comey for holding that press conference, where he announced the results of the Clinton e-mail investigation.
[11:20:11] The report looked at the decision by Comey also to tell lawmakers just days before the November 2016 election that the FBI had reopened the Clinton investigation. Remember, that happened after the FBI found e-mails on Anthony Weiner's laptop.
We're told that the report is critical of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. She had that infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton during the campaign. As the FBI was investigating his wife, now members of Congress are getting a preview of this report, and then it will finally be made public around 2:00.
The current attorney general who himself has taken a lot of jabs from the president reacted to the report, showing his support, here's what he said about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think it will be a lengthy report and a careful report. It will be released soon, and I think it will help us better fix any problems that we have and reassure the American people that some of the concerns that have been raised are not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PROKUPECZ: And the AG making an important point about misconceptions. And perhaps there he's talking about his boss, the president, who as we know, has been hypercritical of the FBI and the Justice Department. And as Ryan said, I think we all are awaiting his reaction to the findings.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Shimon, thank you so much.
Let's get over to Laura Jarrett, the Justice Department, she's hearing more about what else will be included in this report, 500 pages, a lot to go through, you're getting more detail, Laura. What are you hearing?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Kate, the report is still not formally out yet. But we have learned that the inspector general will reveal that some additional text messages exchanged between two FBI employees who have come under fire recently for exchanging messages that have been pretty harsh against President Trump will be included in this report.
We obtained a letter that went to Capitol Hill from the Justice Department which says the following, Kate, "In May 2018, the department learned after further investigation the IG, the inspector general, has recovered additional text messages, at least two which are relevant to the final report.
The office of the deputy attorney general was made aware of one of these particular messages on the evening of June 8th and the other on Sunday, June 10th." So, clearly this has been a recent discovery, but there are going to be a lot of questions.
I predict pretty soon from Capitol Hill and possibly even the president who have seized on these text messages for months as evidence of bias within the FBI. And we'll have to wait and see to see how the Inspector General Michael Horowitz addresses that issue and whether he weighs in on whether this actually was biased or just the appearance of impropriety -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right. Laura, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Joining me right now with a lot to discuss at this moment, Democratic congressman from Connecticut, Jim Himes, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks for coming in.
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Hi, Kate.
BOLDUAN: I want to get your take. I mean, the Justice IG is putting out this report today. We have a little detail of what could be coming out, we have to wait and see what it says, though. What are you expecting?
HIMES: Well, you know, it is going to be a lengthy report. It will say a lot of different things about a lot of different people. We know what the president will say about this, regardless of what the report says, the president will say something very dangerous for the Department of Justice and the FBI, which is that this shows bias, shows that, you know, they can't do their work, et cetera.
Those of us who are not obsessed with the president's Twitter feed or his misstatements which come at the rate of a half a dozen a day will be treated, I think, to something really interesting, which is did Jim Comey make the right decision when he went public with the results of the investigation.
Remember, at the very same time that Jim Comey goes public with the Clinton investigation and castigates her, there is an investigation to the Trump campaign going on of which he makes no mention.
So, though the president will use this to show bias in the FBI, if you look at the big picture, you can say to yourself, wait a minute, whether what Jim Comey did was right or wrong, and I actually think he probably violated procedure in ways that I think were probably wrong, there is a credible argument that his actions handed the presidency to Donald Trump.
BOLDUAN: Do you trust the inspector general of the Justice Department, Horowitz? Will you accept the results that Horowitz puts out no matter what they are?
HIMES: It is critical that we be able to trust the inspector general. It is critical that we be able to trust the Department of Justice and the FBI. The FBI is out there working every day, asking people to trust them, informants and sources and that sort of thing.
Yes, unless I'm given reason to believe and not specious reasons, not it turns out the inspector general is a registered Republican or registered Democrat, yes, I will trust what he reports. Look if we get into a world where people like me can't trust the work of an inspector general within the government, we have a huge problem in this country.
[11:25:11] BOLDUAN: Really just happened, I do not assume you had a chance to read the filing coming from the New York attorney general, but the news is that the New York attorney general is filing suit against Donald Trump and his adult children with regard to their charitable foundation.
And Donald Trump has responded to it, saying that the case is ridiculous, saying he won't settle the case, and pointing to the political motivations and talking about Eric Schneiderman that stepped down and Barbara Underwood in his place. Do you think there is political motivation behind this lawsuit?
HIMES: You know, Kate, anytime you have a lawsuit or investigation of a politician and in particular of the president of the United States, the defense says it is politically motivated, right? So, this was the charge on Benghazi, you know, investigation after investigation after investigation, the Democrats all said it is politically motivated.
What we need to focus on is not the baloney that politicians throw up into the air, people like Rudy Giuliani, on air, trying to cause the sharpness and the clarity of the investigation to go away. What we need to focus on are the results of the investigation or the results of the trial or the results of a court action.
The American people need to filter the politics and the standard cheap lawyer tactic of saying this is a politically motivated attack. Every time somebody gets in trouble around here because they're having an affair or drink too much or whatever, the standard defense is, oh, this attack is politically motivated attack.
People need to filter that out and focus on what actually comes out of investigations and comes out of trials and other actions in court.
BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about North Korea, the president and returning from his summit, he sat down with Brett Baier of Fox News, he was asked about Kim Jong-un's record on human rights. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You call people sometimes killers, he is a killer.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He's a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough counted, tough people. You take it over from your father. I don't care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have, if you can do that at 27 years old, you -- I mean, that's one in 10,000 that could do that. So, he's a very smart guy, he's a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.
BAIER: But he's still done some really bad things.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, but so have a lot of other people done some bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: The president isn't dodging questions about his human rights abuses, not dismissing them, seems to be explaining them away or justifying them. What do you as a member of Congress do with that?
HIMES: Well, let me start by saying I applauded the president and supported the president in his new-found desire to talk to the North Korean dictator. I think it is always better to be talking than not to be talking and better to be talking than threatening.
But and I think I know what he's doing. I think what he's trying to do, he's a personal relationship guy. He's trying to talk up Kim Jong-un. The cost that is paid, though, is the cost to what really makes this country truly exceptional, that we stand for a set of values.
We stand for human rights, we stand for things like freedom of the press, you don't get to murder your political opponents the way they do in Russia or in North Korea. So, when the most powerful man in the world, when the leader of the United States, which is exceptional for those reasons, downplays the importance of human rights, the importance of decent politics, it sends a signal to every bad actor in the world, maybe it is OK for me to do what I want to do in Damascus or African or China.
You know, this country, you can negotiate with North Korea without giving up on our ideas and values and sadly I think the president threw that whole concept under the bus.
BOLDUAN: Do you think he believes the words he's saying?
HIMES: I don't think he really knows what he's saying. I'm not sure he's steeped in, you know, all of the details of how brutal the dictatorship is, but it doesn't matter to him.
BOLDUAN: If it gets you to a denuclearized North Korea, do these words matter?
HIMES: Well, they matter regardless. I don't think praising a dictator is necessarily critical to getting to a denuclearized North Korea. That's a goal we all want. The thing is, if this country gives up its leadership and standing up for human rights, for decent politics, you know what do we tell people around the world being imprisoned and killed by their own governments? We have abandoned them. I'm not sure you need to do that to get Kim Jong-un to denuclearize. It is this president sort of thinks that you want to build this concept of love and relationship to the point where that's going to make the difference. I'm not sure that's true.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming in.
HIMES: Thank you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Just ahead for us, we have footage just released by North Korea, new propaganda video, this propaganda video shows the president saluting one of Kim Jong-un's generals.