tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN April 1, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
easy. because now xfinity lets you transfer your service online in just about a minute with a few simple steps. really? really. that was easy. yup. plus, with two-hour appointment windows, it's all on your schedule. awesome. now all you have to do is move...that thing. [ sigh ] introducing an easier way to move with xfinity. it's just another way we're working to make your life simple, easy, awesome. go to xfinity.com/moving to get started. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. serious questions being raised about the trump administration's security clearance process including clearances for the president's daughter, ivanka,
and her husband jared kushner. he spoke out earlier tonight on fox. >> over the last two years that i've been here i've been accused of all different types of things and all those things have turned out to be false. >> the house oversight committee chairman elijah cummings said security clearance issues in the trump white house are a million times worse than hillary clinton's e-mail server issues. the oversight committee is looking into a whistleblower's allegations that the white house has given security clearances, quote, without the proper analysis, documentation or a full understanding or acceptance of the risks. we've also learned the former personnel security director inside the trump white house says he's willing to be interviewed by the oversight committee and asked not to be subpoenaed. also tonight president trump threatening to shutdown the border with mexico, but a top aide saying the president has yet to make a decision, and he is talking about health care again. just in the last few minutes a lot has happened, and we're going to bring all of this to
you this hour so make sure you stay tuned. let's bring in now max boot. also susan glasser is here, april ryan as well. april is the author of "under fire reporting from the front lines of the trump white house." good evening, good to have all of you on. max, you first. i want to play what jared kushner had to say earlier on fox about a career white house security advisor who alleges trump pushed through security clearance for some 25 individuals including kushner and ivanka trump, okay. >> a whistleblower from the white house has now given a private interview on capitol hill, democrats. and she says that 25 individuals were able to leapfrog over the career people's concerns about security clearances, and they received security clearances in her view improperly. what's your reaction to that? >> well, i can't comment for the white house's process. but what i can say is over the last two years i've been here
i've been accused of all different types of things and all those things have turned out to be false. i complied with all the different investigations whether it be the senate, the house, the special counsel. i sat for nearly 20 hours of interviews with them. when it came to washington i had a very successful business career, i disclosed all my holdings. >> that was a long answer, max. did he answer the question? what do you make of that answer? >> well, no, of course. he's doing what all the people in the trump administration do which is to deflect and not really tell the truth. for example prince jared announced he had to -- >> because he said he disclosed all of his holdings. is that true? >> no, it's not true. maybe he finally disclosed them at the end of the process, but he had to make a record number
of amendments because he conveniently forgot a lot of his holdings to begin with. this is serious security breach this whistleblower is calling our attention to. the fact you've had 25 individuals or security folks recommend they not receive a clearance and they received a clearance anyway. and according to this whistleblower among the disqualifying issues were foreign influence, conflicts of interest, financial problems, drug use and criminal conduct. i mean, do those sound like the kind of people who should have top secret security clearance? it's all the more ironic president trump became president to some extent because he kept chanting lock her up, because he accused hillary clinton, and as democrats are saying this is potentially a heck of a whole lot worse. apparently there are at least 24 other individuals in addition to jared kushner whose clearances
are the result of political action, not of the recommendation of the security professionals. >> i'm glad you mentioned clinton because elijah cummings says this is much worse than the clinton e-mail controversy. take a listen to this. >> i think this is million times worse because what you have here are people who literally have the top secrets of the world, of the world. not just our country but of the world. with access to them, and they have not been properly cleared. but even more dangerous than that, they have been -- their recommendations have gone out to say they shouldn't have them, and so that should alarm each and every american. >> i've got to ask you is he right, a million times worse tan the clinton scandal? >> you know, look, don, i have
to say we're stuck in this endless loop of what aboutism, and we can never escape from the trap of comparing everything to the hillary clinton e-mail scandal. these are utterly different and extremely troubling allegations that have a lot to do with the trump administration, and nothing to do whatsoever as far as i can tell, you know, with the obama or the clinton administration. it's the kind of thing that if we didn't live in this toxic environment that anyone would be concerned about. this comports with really reliable reporting wave already had from inside the white house that the president himself personally had to overrule and order the white house chief of staff john kelly to just go ahead and give jared kushner the clearance. you didn't hear that question, unfortunately, being asked of jared kushner in that interview on fox just now. i'd have really been interested in what his answer would be if he was asked directly that question. did your father-in-law intervene
for you in order to grant you a security clearance? so you have this sort of unique -- and that's the reason i say it's not really comparable at all to hillary clinton. you have this unique combination essentially of bringing the family business right inside the white house here with jared kushner. but also the allegations of the whistleblower is that that has now been turned into a systemic rewriting of the rules for security clearances that goes far beyond jared kushner and ivanka. for example, i thought it was very interesting in the story, very below is the negative they've actually changed the entire vetting process, for example, doing credit reports on these would-be white house officials. why does that matter? because you might find out if there was something in their financial history, in their credit history that made someone working in the white house vulnerable to blackmail, for example. now we've just gotten rid of that. >> it's interesting. so april, we always like to have
you -- sometimes we call on you last because you're there every day to put a period on this. everybody is kind of at 30,000 feet. you're at ground zero every single day. i want you to listen to jared kushner and get your response. here it is. >> you were instrumental in the president's run in 2016. what are you seeing in this democratic field? any interesting characters, some more than others you'd like to run against? >> the president's going to have a fabulous campaign. i think he's got the right policies, and i think he's got the country on the right track. and i think a lot of different policies i see, a lot of these democrats advocating for or offering i don't think that's where the country is. >> socialism? >> i don't think that's where the country is. >> okay, give it to us, april. is that team trump's message?
>> that's team trump's message. but just today with prison reform jared kushner and the president were in the room together. the president was giving jared all sorts of praise for this prison reform issue, the first step act. now they're looking to the second step. and they were saying it was bipartisan. they kept talking about bipartisanship with this and the broad range of people that were in the room. and those who benefitted from that. the president wants to pull in more americans with the messages and the things that he likes. he keeps talking about, you know, black unemployment, hispanic unemployment, and wages for the least of these, how they are the best ever. that's how they think they're going to win, by the perception if not the truth, the perception of we're doing things for all america. especially since right now there's not a break out democrat yet. and it's still too early for that. but at some point there's going
to have to be a break out person to really energize that democratic base. so we will see who will go against the president. but jared kushner is following along the party line, following along his father-in-law's line, his dad's line, if you will to try to make sure they secure 2020. >> real quick, april, do they mention health care as being part of their message at all? because the president said we're going to make the republicans a party of health care. you said no. >> they didn't bring that up to today. right now the numbers don't add up as to when they're trying to do. the president said he was not going to take away pre-existing conditions. you have a vast majority of americans who have pre-existing conditions. and let's just talk about women having a baby, a c-section is a pre-existing condition. so they've got to fix this before they can own it and say we've done something great. >> with that said, max, president trump is tweeting tonight with no details that the
republicans are going to come up with a great plan to replace health care and the senate will vote on it after the election when they keep the senate and when because the house -- i mean win back the house, i should say. on a whim and by tweet? >> in term of serious policy proposals this would be right up there with trump saying every american can eat as much ice cream as he or she wants and never gain a pound. this is not a serious proposal. there is no republican health care plan, and there cannot possibly be any republican health care plan that offers better coverage at lower cost than the affordable care act. it's impossible. it simply cannot be done, and there's a reason why republicans have never, ever in the last nine years come up with an alternative, don, to the affordable care act because they don't have an alternative. there is no -- >> don't confuse people, max. because some people think obamacare and the affordable
care act are two different things. you mean obamacare when you're saying affordable care act. >> republicans have been complaining about it for nine years but they've never had an alternative. >> in this tweet when he said when we win the house back, well, he had the house and the senate and they didn't do it. >> they could not repeal obamacare in 2017 with republicans in control of both the house and the senate in large part because they didn't have an alternative. and now he's holding out some kind of thinking that oh, some time after the next election republicans will somehow win both houses and then they'll come up with magical formula which they're not seriously working on on capitol hill. this is really testing the gullibility of trump's base. >> interesting conversation. i've got to run, though. look at that. we're less than an hour away, you know what it is, from that
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and get a galaxy s10e free! time is running out. look at the clock. we're less than an hour away from the deadline democrats set for the attorney general to provide full mueller report and its underlying evidence. so what's in that report, and does it support the president's claims? let's discuss now, former assistant walter dylan jr and the former federal prosecutor laura coats. they are both here to drop some knowledge, so thank you both. walter, in your new piece for "the washington post" this is how you outlined how the mueller report can still threaten trump's legitimacy. and you say what's in the report could challenge the president's claim he's been exonerated. what are you basing on that since none of this has been yet? >> right, don, it's important to emphasize that we haven't seen the mueller report. but here's what i'm basing it
on. first of all and i wrote this even before it was going to be 400 pages, but i was quite convinced that the first third of it has got to be a detailed account of the russian's extraordinary efforts to intervene and influence our presidential election. and that that counter intelligence part alone is going to be so damning because of the absence of any response on the part of the president who has done nothing to defend us against that attack. so that's part of it. secondly, on the question of whether any u.s. persons with the campaign were criminally complicit in that, that's the one part i think where the trump presidency could claim the most vindication. but the special counsel quite properly according to barr set a very high standard. there had been to be an actual agreement with the russians. but finally the part of the
report that deals with obstruction of justice we know is going to be damning for what is out there in the world, and the fact that attorney general barr says it has the evidence of both pro and con on the president's criminality, doesn't tell you what the weight of that evidence is. it could be quite damaging. >> laura, i want to bring you in now. first i want to play what mick mulvaney told jake tapper. watch this. >> it's done now. the report is extraordinarily thorough. they talked to 500 people, issued 200 subpoenas. >> it does not exonerate him with the respect to the obstruction of justice element of it, and that part is actually quite critical. while they are down-playing that particular aspect and remember
it had an impact on two former presidents, richard nixon and bill clinton. it's not to look at lightly because the president is the head of the executive branch of government. and what walter is talking about the notion of the counter intelligence probe is how this all began. there was no complicity, no action by somebody explicitly to try to work with a foreign puoer to influence an election. but perhaps the obstruction element was knowing the counter intelligence report existed. and instead you tried to obstruct the investigation into how that happened in and of itself. that's part of the issue that actually made robert mueller unable to reach an actual conclusion. that can't be taken lithely. and the narrative it's all done with is actually incomplete and false. >> walter, this is what a new wall street journal nbc poll shows, 40% of americans say that what they know of the mueller report does not clear the
president, president trump, while 29% say it does. and then another 31% say they're just unsure. and i can understand that 31% because we haven't seen the full report. does that mean americans aren't buying trump's total exoneration claim? >> well, it appears that nearly one third of americans are, which is disturbing given that even barr's account says it is not exonerated by mueller. what's going to be critical is how much of the report the world gets to see. there were some intimations today that the president was suggesting that the at or near might suggest not to turn any of it over. i think it that were to happen attorney general barr would, should resign if the president were to stop the report. >> here's what the editor of the
blog and someone who's been critical of the president. the president promised transparency when it comes to the mueller report and that we should wait to see what william barr delivers to congress. does barr deserve the benefit of the doubt until then? >> well, i think barr deserves people to give the opportunity to put the complete report out there. that is true. however, the pace of that is going to be critical in assessing whether that benefit of the doubt should extend further. remember this is someone who prior to becoming the attorney general wrote a 19-page mem random that happens to coincide with that exact conclusion. so that benefit is actually a very short leash. i will say, however, it does include grand jury testimony. there are national security considerations. we do want them to be thoughtful and prudent about what is released particularly given that
it was an actual counter intelligence probe. mueller, the person who for 22 months was onable to reach a conclusion, well, surely the congress needs to have a right to see it and the american people. so if he's trying to with hold information because he doesn't want anyone to second guess his particular determination, that is not fair and that is not judicious. if he's holding it to be prudent, then he does deserve the benefit of the doubt. but of course that remains to be seen. suddenly it'll take weeks if not months to get an extended version. the race for the democrat nomination is getting crowded and some big names have yet to announce a run. i'm going to talk to a rising star who decided to sit it down. dad! dad!! can you drive me to jessica's house? ♪
and he joins me now. thank you for joining us. let's talk 2020 shall we? >> yeah, sure. >> so the two front runners in the polls are two white men in their 70s. currently no reflect the demographics of 2020 democratic primary. >> first of all, the field is very crowded. we have a large crowded field of very exciting people that span the spectrum, and they're coming up with lots of ideas. they're out there working hard, and this is going to be a very long campaign, and it's not a sprint. it's a marathon as you know. and everybody's going to have to get out there and compete. and basically it's going to be a kind of rough and tumble primary season so everybody needs to get ready. >> in the question, let's break this down a little bit, does it matter if they're white men? does it matter if they match the demographics of the party? doesn't it just matter whether
they can beat trump whether they're 70 or 17 -- well, you can't be 17, but 35 or whatever it is. does it really matter? >> well, my best guess is political junkies they're going to get into the all the details. but for the american public i think the qualification is who is best positioned to beat donald trump so we can help secure this country, turn it around and prepare it for the future. whoever makes that case to the american people is the one i think will ultimately prevail and ultimately beat president trump. >> i want to get your reaction to a recent nbc wall street journal poll where a combined 68% of americans say they'd be comfortable or enthusiastic with a gay candidate. what do you think? >> first of all i know pete, and he's a great guy. he's also been a really great mayor. he's a veteran. he speaks six languages, very talented, and he happens to be gay as well. i think that says a lot about the american public and how far we've come when we can focus on
the person rather than what the people consider them to be. so i think that's a good step. he's done really, really well. kamala harris today i think posted a number of i think $12 million. so that's really good. you see the most diverse field that has been seen in a long time. and it's the beginning of a peacef peaceful transition of power and gives the american people the opportunity to listen to what great ideas there are to move the country forward. this is marathon, not a sprint. from now until election day is a very long time for these candidates to show up every day and show what they're really made of. >> do you think that the democratic party is doing themselves more harm than good -- you heard what came out about joe biden, to continue to cannibalize each other? >> no, i don't think that that's a great idea. i do think it's rough and tumble. i do think we ought to
concentrate on that and not necessarily on personalities. but at the end of the day you have to stand the test of time. the person not only has to represent the democratic party but most importantly and first has to represent the american people. anytime you're in a primary, whether the republican primary or democratic primary, it's always going to skew to the most excited folks that are in the party. at the end of the day, though, the general election is won in the middle of the country. and the person i believe that convinces americans that can secure the country and make us safe, stabilize us and prepare us for our future will be the one that eventually wins. because at the end of the day the only test that matters is who is best positioned to beat president trump. the question ultimately is compared to what, and the answer to that is compared to president trump. and that is going to be the litmus test as we get closer to election day. so all those things you just said including the best person to repair the racial divisions
that have been intensified since this president, who do you think is best at this point? >> well, i think -- listen, i think that's a hard thing to say. i think it's way too early. all of these candidates from my perspective seem to be hitting their marks. c kamala harris is doing really, really well. vice president biden hasn't yet announced and he's winning in every poll. he had a difficult weekend, but my guess is he'll recover from that as well. you and i being from the south know that race is very important issue if not the issue. and i'm not sure you can get through the democratic primary without actually having to figure out how to navigate the challenges the african-american community has had and speak to it in a very forceful way. >> you've taken yourself out, you're not running, right? >> i'm not running. >> if you're not running then you're not running.
there's lots to talk about some of the democratic hopefuls that the electoral college should be abolished, even they're trying to pass legislation, the senate democrats. you're in a red state, should we get rid of the electoral college? >> well, i'd like to be counted. i never really understood what the impetus was for the electoral college to begin with. i know the founding fathers thought it was a beautiful idea. we've had it since the beginning of time, so you don't change those things easily. to have a congress thwart the actual will of the american people, i think that's something worth looking at. i'm not sure i'd recommend it at this point but it's certainly something we should think about. >> thank you, mayor. i appreciate your time. >> all right, don. great talking to you. the mueller investigation may be over, but a lot of unanswered questions remain. especially when it comes to trump's businesses. my next guest claims that had
president and the russians are, his words, thick as thieves. uh, what did i come in here for again? diapers. diapers. okay. yep. oh, sorry. yep. no, the cart... yeah, i almost hit a woman. but i'm more than a number. when i'm not sharing ideas with my colleagues i'm defending my kingdom. my essilor lenses offer more than vision correction with three innovative technologies for my ultimate in vision clarity and protection together in a single lens: the essilor ultimate lens package. so, i can do more of what i love! buy two pairs of essilor's best lenses and get a $100 back instantly. see more. do more. essilor
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what i mean is that for more than three decades at least 13 people with known or alleged links with the russian mafia ran criminal operations out of trump tower in new york or other trump properties. i mean that many of them used trump branded real estate to launder vast amounts of money by buying multiian million dollar kaunldo kaun condos through anonymous shell companies. how did all of this fly under the radar? >> well, it's shocking to me because the fbi had to be keeping an eye on some of this. i go back to 1984 when a guy met with donald trump. he went to trump tower, he sat down, had $6 million in cash, the equivalent about $15 million a day, and he said i'll take trump condos, in trump tower on fifth avenue where the president lived, where he worked that was the crown jewel of his empire.
and he was effectively laundering money for the russian mafia. and that happened again and again for the last 35 years. >> by them buying the condos? >> right, this is criminal money. now, we don't know what donald trump knew about that money. i can't prove that -- >> you said trump has repeatedly said he had no dealings, right, but in an interview with "the new york times" he once said this. i mean it's possible there's a condo or something so, you know, i sell a lot of condo units. and if somebody from russia buys a condo, who knows. no evidence that he was involved in the strategy to sell these condos to russian mafia figures. >> there's a legal concept called willful ignorance, where deliberately turning a blind eye to things. and what you have to look at is how often did this happen. and i'm not a lawyer, but i think a good prosecutor might make a cis this just didn't
happen three or four times. there were at least 1,300 trump branded condos that were sold with the criteria they were either in anonymous shell companies, and they were both anonymous shell companies and both cash performances. so that's an extraordinary amount of money laundering. and one of the key elements in all of this is that russian mafia is really an arm of the russian state. they work hand in hand with russian intelligence. and i interviewed the general who had been head of counter intelligence for the kgb. and he told me oefh, the russia mafia is an arm of the kgb. you see again and again the russian mafia who are laundering through it and running operations there, who are living there and they are in the home of the president of the united states. >> okay, when you said willful ignorance, is this why you say this russian mob money that was
sunk into the trump tower properties, that it's legal. why do you say it's legal. >> by legal, it's very hard for a prosecutor to make a case if you can't prove what was going on in trump's mind. and so far no one has done it. i've asked again and again why prosecutors didn't pursue this. i think it goes to what may be one of the essential contradictions in all this case, if you remember felix seder who was with bay rock and the bay rock group was in trump tower. and after making all that money, trump still went onto atlantic city. he blew $4 billion to over expansion, and again russians came to his aide, and bay rock is a real estate development company that took up residence in trump tower. they partnered with donald trump, and they made him an offer he couldn't refuse. they said we'll put up all the money and we'll give 18% to 25% of the profits, we just want to franchise your name. and in the world of franchising, that's a huge, huge feeder pay
for donald trump. >> fascinating. fascinating. house of putin, house of trump. thank you so much, i appreciate it. there it is right there. "house of trump, house of putin." same difference. thank you, sir. a south carolina college student found dead hours after she got into the a car that she thought was her uber. we're going to talk to two students from the university where she attended next. ng. performance organics. finally organics that work. tested and refined by plant scientists... for twice the results, guaranteed. don't grow a snack, grow a feast. don't grow a flower, grow a million dollar view. this new organic collection of soil and plant food is what you always wanted. no compromise, just results, guaranteed. miracle-gro performance organics.
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getting into a car that she thought was her uber. thank you both for coming on this evening to talk about this story. t. michael, i mean this is horrific. samantha was just a month away from graduation, on the verge of starting law school in september. what's been the reaction to this loss on campus? >> i would say that the main reaction i've been seeing and feeling on campus is just sort of, especially most of the factors of her situation, i'm also about a month away from graduation. most students that i know especially myself have ubered home at 2:00 a.m. from the five points area. so a lot of what happened other than the horrific details were
relatable to us as student journalists and to our peers all across campus. >> you know, listen, things are different now than when i was in school because we've gone to have it ingrained to us not to doing that because of ride share services, car pulls up, looks like an uber and you get this. this is a wakeup call for students, right? >> i do think so. i did attend the vigil for samantha johnson and her father spoke at it and he did say, he made it personal for us. he said you all take ubers. he said to himself, i take ubers. i work, i travel. i think that really brings it home. and i think that is a big part of the reason that the community is kind of coming together and the campus is really coming together in the wake of this tragedy. >> this is a clip from samantha's father that you just mentioned at this campus vigil. it was yesterday. let's listen. >> you get into an uber.
you don't know if it's an uber. you don't know anything about it. if there's two of you, something less likely will happen. samantha was by herself. she had absolutely no chance. >> do you think, since, you mentioned it maddox, do you think these services need to be doing something differently, meaning the ride share services? >> well, i do know that representative seth rose proposed a bill called the samantha johnson ride share safety act to be filed tomorrow to call uber, lyft and other ride share services to be required by law to put ill lumb illuminated signs on their windshields. they're only required to put reflective stickers on their windshields. going the distance to make them
more distinguishable from other vehicles could be helpful. >> sort of -- i'm sort of agreeing. >> go ahead. >> i was just going to say i didn't really -- i don't know if i have the authority to measure how much responsibility uber or lyft or even us students really have right now in those situations because it's just we're sort of coming off the weekend of the coverage of this story in general. and i guess i haven't had much time to think about that. but i mean i do think it's perfectly logical, it makes sense that people are talking about it and discussing it at this point. >> it does. if you go -- i use uber. it has the license plate number, the type of car, usually the driver, says, you know, i'm here for don, here for something. if you're hanging out, and it's loud or whatever, you don't really know. i mean, right? because you're just used to this car showing up and you get in it. your college president has promised to do everything it
could to prevent another, you know, such death. what steps would you guys like to see taken? do you think there's enough safe transportation options? what would you like to see, first maddox? >> i know there is a shuttle service that runs through five points. i would like to see the accessibility and also the -- how much is advertised, i would like to see that be increased for university affiliated transportation to get to students to have that message, get to students a little bit more clearly and i think that would probably be my primary concern and the primary move in this situation. >> you're a graduating student too, michael, what advice do you have? >> yeah, i also do think that the existing transportation options the students have could be sort of marketed better so that more students understand that they're available and can use them. i remember i lived in an apartment complex once that even
the apartment complex had a shuttle to and from five points on like the more popular nights to go out, like thursday through saturday. and i think that's definitely something that could be done. we even talked this morning a little bit about possibly making that area pedestrian only during certain hours just to ensure the safety of the students. and i actually live in that area, but i still wouldn't be opposed to it, even the it made it harder to get to my house. i think it's great to take measures like that. >> i think it's -- listen, everybody is mourning the loss and it's just awful. and a word of advice to the kids out there, i call them kids, but young folks, safety in numbers, safety in numbers. and stay together, don't get in a car by yourself late at night, make sure you have a bunch of friends with you whatever you're doing, be safe, be aware, thank you, i appreciate it, good luck. we'll be right back.
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