tv Amanpour on PBS PBS June 15, 2018 12:00am-12:30am PDT
. welcome to ahmamanpour on p. my interview with barbara underwood. why she's suing president trump and his children over their family charity. her extraordinary rise to the top as new york's first female attorney general. plus, my conversation with south korea's foreign minister. she says president trump has opened a new peaceful chapter for the korean peninsula. good evening, welcome to the program. i'm chrischristiane amanpour.
barbara underwood is suing mr. trump's charitable organization. first, a quick reminder of underwood's rise. her former boss was a bombshell casualty of the me, too, era, accused of shocking domestic violence. he denied the charges publish in the new yorker but still he resigned within hours. barbara underwood took his place. she has a stellar record. first in her class at georgetown law school. now she's running new york's top law enforcement office, which has proven to be a major counterweight to some of president trump's policies. on immigration, the environment and today as news of the lawsuit
against mr. trump became public, barbara underwood joined me from new york for this exclusive interview. attorney general underwood, welcome to the program. >> i'm very glad to be here. >> firstly, congratulatiocongra. you are the first female attorney general of new york state. your first big case which you are announcing today is an investigation into the trump foundation, into donald trump himself and, indeed, all three of his children. what exactly are you alleging? what has happened in this case? >> what we are alleging is that this trump foundation violated a number of laws of the state of new york that govern the way a foundation -- a non-profit corporation is required to govern itself and that -- those are procedural violations.
and that the money of that foundation was distributed for impermissible purposes, personal purposes, business purposes, political campaign purposes rather than for the charitable purposes that the foundation was established to perform. >> can you give us particular details on how much money are we talking about? >> i think $2.8 million that were spent for -- that we allege were spent for improper purposes of the type i've just described. and then there are penalties under the statute as well. what we're asking for is the return of the -- the restitution of the money improperly spent and then penalties for violating the law and, of course, the dissolution of the corporation and the distribution of whatever assets it may still have. >> basically, what you want to see is the dissolution of the
trump foundation, is that corre correct correct? >> that's correct. how unprecedented is it for a sitting president to be petitioned in this regard? >> i think what i want to say is it's not at you will unprecedented for a non-profit corporation, for a charitable foundation to be held to account for these violations. it is not -- i'm unaware of a case in which the foundation involved was run by a sitting president. but there's no reason why a foundation owned and operated by a sitting president should be exempt from the laws that we routinely apply to other foundations. >> how long have you been investigating or has the attorney general's office been investigating this? >> about two years. >> in the release you made, this allegation -- you describe it as
this foundation being used as a personal checkbook for matters that the law does not allow a foundation to be used. >> that's right. it paid the business and personal obligations of various trump enterprises. and its assets were used for supporting, promoting the presidential campaign, neither of those is a permissible purpose for a charitable foundation. >> i wonder if you have your notes there, you could refer to them and tell me exactly what political bit of this you are talking about. was it a debt he owed? was it to -- i don't know. how did he allegedly use this money during the campaign? >> just before the iowa caucuses, the campaign directed -- the campaign coordinated with the foundation
to direct the disbursement of money to iowa charities and to take -- to give the campaign credit for the distributions that were being made. there are, i believe, attached to our complaint photographs that show that when the campaign -- when the foundation was distributing money, it was basically attributed to the campaign. >> just so we're clear, again, extensive self-dealing to further trump business interests like paying off a mar-a-lago debt, that's one of the allegations, correct? >> that's right. that's correct. that's right. his businesses, i believe, there are various legal obligations of his enterprises promoting his hotels, i believe. there are a series of
non-charitable purposes to which these funds -- >> you referred and explained illegal coordination around the iowa caucuses. there are e-mails, including from corey lewandowski, one of his key aides during the campaign. you allege other mismanagement issues. trump making decisions himself without proper management structure. >> right. the proper management structure is what i was referring to earlier when i said there are procedures about the way a board of a foundation is supposed to operate and the principals, the decisions that are made to distribute money from the foundation. >> attorney general underwood, are you going to seek to depose mr. trump? >> i don't think that will be necessary. but i really can't -- it wouldn't be appropriate, i think, at this point to discuss the details of where this is going. we have filed a complaint, a
petition. we made allegations. we believe we've got undisputed facts that will justify the relief we're seeking. >> mr. trump tweeted a response. here we go. the sleazy new york democrats and their now disgraced and run out of town ag are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18.8 million and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19.2. i won't settle this case. what do you make of that? what's your reaction? >> well, there are several points that are made there. this is not either a sleazy or political action, nor was it brought by mr. schneiderman. this is a straightforward case of violation of the laws governing charitable foundations and non-profit corporations in new york. >> you are saying it was not
brought by mr. schneiderman. the tweet goes on to say, schneiderman, who ran the clin c clinton campaign never had the guts to bring this case. now he resigned in disgrace and his disciples brought it when we would not settle. >> we brought this case when we were confident we had the evidence and the legal argument to back it up. and it was not -- it obviously was not settled. >> this is a big first case to take on. are you prepared for the slings and arrows that are going to come your way? >> i hope so. i think so. i mean, i have spent decades doing -- trying to apply the law without fear or favor. i have never been interested in either exempting somebody from
the law because of their political position or enforcing the law especially against them because of their political position. there's no reason why i would do anything differently. >> let me read to you what "the new york times" said when you took office in may. despite a life of firsts, first in her law school class, the first woman to serve as the nation's solicitor general and now the first to serve as nor state's attorney general, barbara underwood spent most of her career as a number two. how does it feel to be number one? >> it feels fine. i could ask the same of you, i suppose. >> no, no, no, not of me. this is all about you today and about the law and about women in the law. so tell me, what do you think as a woman you bring to the law that perhaps men don't have similar sensibilities? >> i have spent a large part of
my professional career, starting when i was clerking thurgood marshall, attacking discrimination of various kinds. it was always important to me and it is to me to understand two gs. when you exclude a group from decision making, you lose something important. and yet, it's not true that all members of their group see the world the same way. it's a little bit hard to specify exactly what i bring. i bring a life experience that's a little different. one person i worked for said that he wanted me to be his second in command because we disagreed so well. i've always liked that compliment. i think that he valued that i would disagree with him and then we would find a good way to resolve the disagreement. >> that's really refreshing to hear in this day and age, i must say. you join an illustrious but
troubled group of new yoattorne of new york state. were you surprised of the domestic abuse charges and drinking and indulging the physical violence he is accused of meting out? >> i was stunned. everybody i have spoken to about this in the office was stunned. we had no knowledge, no clue, no reason to believe or suspect anything of the sort. but we have moved forward. i have felt that the most important thing -- the most important part of my mission at the beginning was -- a month ago was to turn everybody's attention forward rather than back. we have a lot of wonderful, important work to do. very talented people working on it. i wanted to make sure that everybody felt supported and
encouraged to keep going. >> why are you not seeking this as a permanent elected office? why is it that you -- you said you would only stay until others can contest for this job. >> running for office during this period would make it impossible to do the job that i am doing. i think there are competing demands on a person's time and attention. and i felt that the very important job that i wanted to do immediately was to bring the office together to keep going forward. i have also said that i would be happy to help anybody who -- help the next attorney general if they want my help. >> i'm going to push you a little bit on that. many of the laments about why there aren't enough women in the top positions, particularly in elected office, as is the attorney general office, you know, we need you in the arena. if you don't get into the arena,
there won't be more women in these leading positions. are you sure you won't reconsider? if it was a guy, he would still be doing the prosecuting and investigating and he would still be running for office. >> i'm sure that running for office is not where my talents lie and my interests and that i can be most useful to the people of the state of new york and maybe beyond the state of new york doing what i'm doing now. >> attorney general barbara underwood, thank you for joining us. thank you for giving us your first interview and particularly on this rather important day. thanks very much. >> thank you. now another majorly important issue for president trump is to take this singapore summit with kim jong-un further. meantime, just for a moment look at this. north korean state media is having a field day with this footage of president trump returning the salute of north korea's top general and defense secretary during his summit with
kim jong-un. let's not forget that back in 2012, trump called then president obama an amateur for dipping his head to the saudi king. today, secretary of state mike pompeo was briefing regional leaders in seoul and beijing on the summit and reaffirmed sanctions relief only would happen when north korea is completely demnuclearized. he claims the chinese president is on board despite beijing suggesting loosening the sanctions. with the debate over what the u.s. got out of the summit with the north korean dictator, many paint his order, trump's order to halt joint military exercises with south korea as a significant concession to kim in return for just vague promises of denuclearization. i put all of this to the south korean foreign minister when she joined me for an interview from seoul right after her meeting with mike pompeo.
welcome back to the program. >> thank you. it's good to be with you again. >> we have spoken several times. we have spoken before the summit. can you, in broad terms, tell me, how safe do you feel today? >> i think we're feeling pretty good. i think the summit and the outcome in the larger scheme of things, if you look at it from the seven decades history on the korean peninsula, this is truly historic. it is a huge turning point. i think we're deepl grateful for this -- to mr. trump, the president, my counterpart mr. pompeo and, on, all of us who have worked towards the meeting and its outcome. >> i want to push you on the statement by president trump. let me read you a tweet that he made as he landed after the summit. just landed a long trip, but everyone can now feel safer than the day i took office.
there's no longer a nuclear threat from north korea. meeting with kim jong-un was an interesting and very positive experience. north korea has great potential for the future. of course, we do remember that he said it has great potential in terms of real estate. i want you to tell me, north korea is no longer a nuclear threat, is that what you believe? >> i think the fact is that they still have the nuclear capability. but i think what he is saying is that we have made a huge step forward, huge strides towards eliminating that threat. yes, we are well opn our way. the hard work of actually eliminating that lies before us. >> foreign minister, isn't that the point? it wasn't so long ago that kim jong-un and donald trump were trading massive insults, also trading insults and threats between north and south korea. i think everybody who witnessed the historic handshake between trump and kim realized the
precedent setting nature of that. but what is the substance to back up those warm words and that handshake? what is the substance that you can take to the bank? what has to happen next? >> i think the substance lies in the discussions among the leaders themselves, both at the u.s./north korea level and also as the south korea/north korea level, which has happened twice already, as mr. trump said in his press conference about the further commitments to eliminate a missile engine testing facility. we will see what that actually means further as we study this. >> foreign minister, it's very rare to hear this kind of assessment compared to the past. we have all been told to look out for concrete action, not
just empty or unsubstantiated promises. president trump told us that after they had signed the declaration, that the north koreans had pledged to, i don't know, destroy or whatever this engine testing site. your own military and intelligence have said that up until now, we have not observed any special movement there. there are areas that south korea and the u.s. are surveiling with interest but no special movement. so i put it to you that it is the intercontinental ballistic missile capability that changed the equation about the threat from north korea. what do you need to see to make sure this threat is over? everybody knew they had weapons. it was the interestcontinental ballistic missile capability that changed the threat. what do you need to see next? >> we need to see for sure that the engine testing site, which is critical to their ability to
develop icbm, that being dismantled as the chairman himself today president trump. we will see. we expect that to happen. but we will know for sure when that actually happens. >> meantime, can you just tell me, was south korea given a heads up that president trump was going to declare an end or suspension or whatever we want to call it to the joint military training maneuvers? as you see, he did adopt the north korean language about them being war games and provocative. were you given a heads up? did you know he was going to put that to kim jong-un? >> well, we were notified. we respect his judgement in this. i think that comes from his discussions with the chairman. and i think he had judged that based upon that discussion, this
is something that he wished to say and he noted by that before the announcement. but we have said in our declaration that we need to take measures to reduce the military tension. and this is very much in line with what president trump has said and further clarified by mr. pompeo that this is not to stop it, just to stop it, but to the extent the north koreans continue to engage in good faith discussions with the u.s., with us, to the extent that they take concrete, genuine action toert s towards denuclearization. >> your president said there needs to be a further review of the decision. your military seems to have been blind sided like the u.s. military was blindsided. let's take you at face value and say this is something you believe needs to be done in
order to show good faith and willingness to enter a new kind of dialogue. what then do you make of the fact that most analysts cannot find any concession that the north koreans have made? there was no declaration of their nuclear stockpile or their missile stockpile. there was no pledge beyond a sort of a pledge to reaffirm that they would continue progress towards denuclearization. even there, they used the same language about the korean peninsula, which as you know -- there was nothing about verifiable or irreversible. does nthat not worry you? >> you need to again take this from a larger perspective and not just focus on the nuclear issue. i think the political context of
discussion has shifted by the meeting between the north korean and the president of the united states. this is truly historic. i think the fact that they have decided to start a new chapter in their relationship overcoming seven decades of hostility. but i think there's a lot of discussion about the missing b and i in the cdib in the outcome. we have to understand that what the goal is complete denuclearization. by that we certainly mean the complete dismantlement of the north korean weapons, termateri and so on. >> you sit on the doorstep of a nuclear and missile threat. i understand you want to shift this historic tension. i'm still trying to figure out, there seems to be a lot taken on
faith. even in the issue of sanctions, already the chinese are saying, well, look, we're in a new era. let's certainly, north korea, deserves sanctions to be removed. north korea media are portraying this as a win/win for north korea, that they have been pledged to sanction relief. that's what the media is saying. they have been treated as equals on the international stage. that was the reason for this summit. let me play to you what secretary of state pompeo has said about the sanctions. >> when we refer to the mistakes of the past, they were providing economic and financial relief before the complete denuclearization had taken place. that's not going to happen. president trump made that clear not only in his press conference but made it clear when he was with chairman kim jong-un himself. the sequence will be different this time. that's important. it's essential to the understanding. >> does that give you some comfort then? all this good faith actually
does boil down to sanctions staying on. >> yes. i think we're very much on the same page on sanctions relief. exactly as mr. pompeo said, until we see visible, meaningful, genuine, verified actions toer s towards denuclearization -- >> you almost made light in this interview about verifiable and irreversible. we were told that was -- that was the line for the president of the united states from this meeting with kim jong-un. with a do y what does the alliance need to see? is the next move in kim jong-un's court? >> very much so. i think he has had a serious discussion with president trump. he has committed to denuclearization. he has committed to taking action towards denuclearization. we will see. i think definitely the ball is
in his court. we will see what that means, what they are willing to do when the discussions take place between mr. pompeo and high level officials delegation he will be appointing. >> on that note, thank you for joining us. interesting perspective. >> thank you. always a pleasure. thank you very much. >> really important discussions and revelations of the challenges and opportunities president trump faces at home and abroad. that is it for our program tonight. thanks for watching amanpour on pbs and join us again tomorrow night. >> you are watching pbs.
>> you're watching "beyond 100 days." president trump and his children are being sued by the new york attorney general over alleged illegal conduct by the trump foundation. >> they claim the charitable organization unlawfully trying to influence the election. >> the president has been hitting back, taking to twitter to say that sleazy new york democrats will do everything they can to sue me. he says he won't settle. first came the senate, now the sales job. the u.s. secretary of state visits china and says a lot of work needs to be done with north korea, but they are off to a good start.