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Donald Trump Holds Press Conference; Iraqi Troops Encircle Fallujah. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 31, 2016 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:13] LYNDA KINKADE, HOST: The battle for Fallujah heats up. Iraqi forces now surround the city as they try to push ISIS out. Civilians
find themselves trapped in the middle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't come here expecting that everything will be, you know, perfect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Crisis in Brazil ahead of the Olympics. Political turmoil, crime, and a threat to public: many wonder are the Rio games cursed?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a question that will live in our mind forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Exclusive reporting on a deadly attack by al Shabaab on the Kenyan military. Families of fallen soldiers search for answers.
Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade and welcome to Connect the World.
Well, show me the money -- after months of being pressed to give details about a highly publicized fundraiser for veterans Donald Trump is
finally ready to talk specifics. The presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee is expected to speak to reporters any minute now at
Trump Tower in New York.
You are looking at live pictures there.
We will bring that to you live as soon as it gets underway. Trump says he will reveal a full list of groups receiving donations from that
Now, Trump made headlines when he hosted that fundraiser instead of attending a Republican debate. And since then, his campaign has given
differing accounts of how much money was raised. And there are questions about where exactly that money is going.
Here's what Trump said on the night of that fundraiser back in January.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just cracked $6 million, right? $6 million. And we have outside a list of the
organizations and folks that are going to be getting this money. We were very careful in selecting, because we want to make sure that the costs are
down, that the people are really doing it with the heart. The heart is so important. And we have picked out some really amazing, amazing veterans
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Trump in the last week has conceded he raised less than $6 million, but more than $5 million to veterans charities.
Well, let's go now live to New York for more. We're joined by CNN's politics reporter M.J. Lee as well as CNN political commentator Peter
M.J. firstly to you. So, as we just heard on the night of that fundraiser back in January, Trump claimed $6 million was raised within a
week or two. His campaign manager said it was closer to $4.5 million. And more recently a $5.5 million figure is being tossed around.
These are huge discrepencies.
M.J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And this has been a very messy situation for the Trump campaign. And with the press conference in
New York today, I think he is trying to do a little bit of damage control.
We'll see exactly what he says at this press conference at Trump tower. That will begin in a few minutes. But I think the questions that
we're looking for answers to are how much money was actually raised that day. As you pointed out, he initially said that six million dollars was
raised? It seems that that money, or at least that amount, has not been dispersed to veterans groups so far. And why has it taken this much time
for that dollar figure to actually get to these veteran's organizations?
And I think politically speaking, because this has been a big distraction, this whole episode has sort of raised questions about Donald
Trump and his, you know, style of campaigning. And also just the level of organization at his campaign if it appears that Trump was too eager to
actually go with the $6 million figure when in fact that amount was not raised, then it seems like the campaign would have some work to do and
explaining to do on why he actually said that in the first place.
KINKADE: Yeah, indeed. A lot of explaining to do.
Just let's bring in Peter. As M.J. promised to give all that money to veterans, but we've seen
months of delay and stonewalling.
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTOR: Right. The larger context hre is that Donald Trump has made so many factual misstatements since he
became a candidate. You know, there's that website called Politifact, which rates the statements by candidates and Donald Trump is far, far
beyond any others presidential candidate who has run this cycle, Democratic or Republican, in terms of how many -- the percentage of his statements
that simply turn out to be not true.
He's got a very, very, very tenuous at least -- none of this should I think should be be particularly surprising.
KINKADE: And just back to M.J., some of these charities say they are only just receiving money now, some received money back in January, some
have since received more checks.
What is Trump's campaign saying about why it took four months to distribute these funds?
[11:05:14] LEE: Well, the Trump campaign actually has not had actually a good answer and a good explanation for why it seems like there
have been some missteps in the way that they've handled this. You know, when it comes to the amount of money that Trump first claimed that he had
raised, when it comes to the time that it appears to have taken for this money to reach certain groups.
I think the reason that this has become such a big issue is because when you listen to Donald Trump talk on the campaign trail, this is an
issue that brings up almost at every campaign rally, a big part of his campaign platform is to say he wants to make sure that the veterans in this
country are treated better. He wants to make sure that the VA is really reformed.
And I think when he goes out and makes a big to do about holding this fundraiser, even skipping the Republican debate, as you mentioned, back in
January to do this, and says that he has raised $6 million. I think a lot of, frankly, veterans groups are wondering, well, why did he do this? Was
it really just for political expediency, or was he really interested in doing this purely for the reason of helping veterans and veterans groups?
KINKADE: Right. And just to Peter. I mean, there was some excuses used about the fact that these charities had to be vetted and that's why it
has taken so long, but some of these charities have been receiving funds from Trump and the Trump Foundation for many years.
BEINART: Right. I mean, again, as is typical with Trump and the Trump campaign, it's hard to get a straight answer, and the answers change
very quickly without any sense of kind of guilt or shame about the fact that what the campaign said one day turns out to be true the other day --
turns out not to be true the other day.
I mean, the larger context here is that remember going back to last year, Donald Trump, who himself, by the way, did not serve in Vietnam, got
out of serving in Vietnam, as did many other people in his class, said last summer about John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam,
KINKADE: Peter, I might just cut you off there for a minute. Donald Trump is now holding this press conference at Trump Tower. Let's listen
(DONALD TRUMP PRESS CONFERENCE)
[11:47:13] KINKADE: That was Donald Trump there explaining where the $6 million he initially said was raised for veterans was spent. He
clarified today saying indeed that $5.6 million was raised and he outlined the various charities that have received that funding. He also gave a
million dollars of his own money as a donation to one major charity and he walked through a lot of questions about where the spending took place and
why it took four months to be handed out.
Some of these charities received money initially after that January fund-raiser, but some have only just received checks in the last few days.
Now, Trump blamed the media throughout this press conference. He said I've never received such bad publicity for doing such a great job. He
actually pointed at several journalists in that press conference, one ABC journalist he said was a big sleaze. He said the political media in
particular he said he does not trust and that was the reasoning he gave for most of the coverage and the questions about the political money -- the
money that he has raised for these charities.
Now, we're going to take a quick break and we will come back and talk to some political guests
about that press conference. Stay with us.
[11:50:46] KINKADE: Well, you are watching CNN and this is Connect the World with me Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.
We've just been listening to a press conference by the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump explaining where millions of dollars he
raised for veterans went. Initially, he said $6 million was raised. Today, he clarified that and said that $5.6 million was, in fact, raised.
He said all that money has been paid. And he says he will get to $6 million, because is still coming in.
Now, he did criticize the media throughout that press conference. We have our Jim Acosta standing by for more on this.
Jim, he did say he had never received such bad publicity for doing such a great job. What did you make of those comments?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We should note to our viewers around the world, Lynda, this was pretty standard Donald Trump. It may have been
ratcheted up a few more notches today than we're used to saying out here on the campaign trail with him, but he attacks the press as
the dishonest media, the disgusting media, almost on a daily basis when we're with him on the campaign trail.
It was not a big surprise to hear Donald Trump to go after his critics in the media. After all, this is a question that has been raised for
several months now, ever since back in January when he skipped a Republican debate, decided to hold this veterans event, announced he that
he was raising $6 million. The questions really followed after that. How much money had been raised? Where were the groups receiving this money and
so on? And you heard Donald Trump saying in the last several minutes here that, yes, $5.6 million was raised, that a million dollars came from
himself and that all of this money has been distributed to these veterans groups, maybe save one that he said is still being vetted at this point.
And the Trump campaign has posted on its website all of the different groups that have received some, arranging from, say, $75,000 to $200,000.
So, no question about it there was a serious amount of money raised for these groups and who can argue with that.
But this just sort of underscored what we've seen throughout this campaign so far, Lynda. When he hears questions that he doesn't like
coming from the news media he attacks, just the way -- in the same way he attacks his Republican rivals and the am Hillary Clinton right now. This
was vintage Donald Trump today, Lynda.
KINKADE: It certainly was. And no doubt we will hear more about this as the day goes on. Jim Acosta, great to have you with us. Thanks so
Well, to other stories we are following, Fallujah is surrounded by the Iraqi army. That's the latest update from Iraq's defense ministry on the
offensive to retake the city from ISIS.
The next step is pushing into the heart of the city and drive the militants out. That is probably the most dangerous part of the operation.
Tens of thousands of people are at risk once the door-to-door combat begins.
Our Ben Wedeman has more.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Iraqi government offensive to retake Fallujah from ISIS is now in its tenth day. And what
we're seeing now is that the fighting continues to rage on. On Tuesday morning, an Iraqi force approaching Fallujah from the south was
counterattacked by ISIS. According to Iraqi officials, that battle went on for four hours. Eventually ISIS was repulsed. The Iraqi officials say
that they inflicted heavy casualties on ISIS, although they have said nothing about the casualties they themselves suffered.
Now, we understand from intelligence officers that there's anywhere between 500 and 2,000 ISIS fighters within the city but many of them are
from Fallujah itself. They know the city like the back of their hands. They've dug tunnels and trenches around it, rigged the city with IEDs and
other booby-traps so it's going to be hard going for the Iraqi forces.
Now we understand from the UNHCR that they believe hundreds of civilians are being held as human shields within Fallujah itself. There
have been reports that ISIS is executing boys and young men who refuse to join their ranks and fight.
We also understand from the UNHCR that 3,700 civilians have been able to flee Fallujah, however, Iraqi intelligence is dividing the men and the
boys over the age 12 from the rest of the civilians. The UNHCR says that 500 men and boys over the age of 12 are being held by Iraqi intelligence
for what is called security screening. 27 were released as of Monday.
The humanitarian situation within Fallujah increasingly grave. Now, the city has been under
siege by the Iraqi government for six months. So food and medicine were already short.
Now they're in critically low supply, as is clean water, to the point that the UN is worried that there could very soon be an outbreak of
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.
KINKADE: Well, I'm Lynda Kinkade and that does it for Connect the World. Thanks so much for watching.