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Trump Hires New Lawyer Who Peddles Theory That FBI, DOJ Framed Trump; Trump's Lawyers Give Mueller Descriptions Of Key Moments Under Investigation; Facebook Stock Tanks On News About Personal Data Breaches; Interview with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey; Trump Praises Drug Program Funded by the Clinton Foundation. Aired 7- 8p ET

Aired March 19, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:15] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next. Trump's lawyers, Trump lawyering up -- President Trump hiring a new attorney who's fueling conspiracy theories about the Russia investigation. Is Trump's new lawyer his mini-me? And Trump's attorneys reportedly turning over documents about moments in the Russia investigation, all in an effort to keep Trump from having to say anything to the special counsel, will it work?

And Trump giving credit tonight to Hillary Clinton. You have to see him say it to believe it. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Trump versus Mueller. The President with a major new hire tonight. President Trump adding former Federal Prosecutor, Joseph DiGenova to his Russia legal team. And if that name isn't familiar to you, what comes out of his mouth should be. DiGenova is a mini-me to President Trump.

In fact, perhaps his greatest asset to the President is his embrace of a Trumpian conspiracy theory.


JOSEPH DIGENOVA, TRUMP LAWYER: There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and if she didn't win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime.

Make no mistake about it, a group of FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.


BURNETT: You could see how appealing that is to this President. DiGenova sounding a whole lot like his new boss.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you look at what's gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: And today, DiGenova, again, sounding like Donald Trump, as he turned his attack directly at FBI leadership. Director Christopher Wray, the man that Trump hand-picked for the job, let's just remember that, this is his pick, his guy, sworn in just 229 days ago, well here is what his new lawyer had to say about Wray.


DIGENOVA: Chris Wray has become an embarrassment to the FBI. What is going on at the department? This place seems to be upside down on its head. What does that tell you about the FBI director? It tells you he's a coward.


BURNETT: A coward. That's Trump's guy. Although, DiGenova now is just sounding a lot like Donald Trump on steroids.


TRUMP: When I -- when everybody, not me, when everybody, the level of anger at what they've been witnessing with respect to the FBI is certainly very sad.


BURNETT: So, DiGenova joins team Trump at the exact same time Trump himself is, for the first time, leveling a personal attack against the special counsel himself.

Here is the tweet. Again, it is the first time ever that Trump has slammed Bob Mueller by name. "The Mueller probe should never have been started and that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a fake dossier, paid for by crooked Hillary and the DNC and improperly used in FISA court for surveillance of my campaign. Witch hunt."

OK, put aside factual inaccuracies in that tweet. If Trump's slam of Mueller was a test to see if Republicans would defend the special counsel or cave with silence or passivity to their party leader, Trump has to be pleased. It took more than 12 hours before the first Republican chimed in on the Sunday talk shows and the general reaction was stunningly spineless.

Here is the statement from Speaker Paul Ryan nearly 18 hours after Trump's tweet, "As the speaker has always said, Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job." Ryan did not address Trump's false charges against Mueller and the Russia investigation and he certainly did not take the extra step of putting his face behind that, going on camera to defend Mueller.

To their credit, a number of Republicans did speak out vehemently, taking on the president to the cameras. Listen to that.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How would Republicans react do you think if he fired Mueller?

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think that it would be a total upheaval in the Senate.

SEN. ORRIN, HATCH (R), UTAH: It would be the stupidest thing the President could do is fire him.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Once he goes after Mueller, then we'll take action. I think that people see that as massive red line that can't be crossed.

SEN. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When you are innocent, if the allegation is collusion with the Russians and there is no evidence of that and you're innocent of that, act like it.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If he tried to do that that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.


BURNETT: One problem. Corker, Flake, Gowdy and Hatch all are resigning. They have nothing to lose so they're speaking out. And of course, Graham himself ran against Trump for president. Makes you think about those comments.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT tonight at the White House.

And, Jeff, the President clearly is taking a more aggressive posture towards Mueller. That is the fact tonight.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, a much more aggressive posture. And consider this, only eight days ago, the President said he was not planning on hiring a new lawyer, not planning on adding to his team.

[19:05:00] Well, tonight, he certainly has done that, and not just with anyone. I mean, you saw the sound and statements from his new lawyer. Of course, this is someone the President has been watching and listening to and he likes what he hears.

So, what this means is this, he is essentially dropping the, you know, play nice strategy. And it seems like he's escalating this confrontation with the special counsel. Of course, all of this is coming as the President and his team has to make a key decision. Well he sit down with them, will he answer questions from them? A variety of opinions here.

But the President we know has becoming increasingly agitated over the last several days. We saw him, you know, essentially acting out, lashing out over the weekend on social media. He does not necessarily agree with the passive approach from his other lawyers, so he wants a hotter approach.

We tried to ask the president about that, the new lawyer, as he came back to the White House this evening from New Hampshire, Erin, he did not have anything to say. Certainly had a lot to say over the weekend on Twitter. Erin?

BURNETT: Certainly did. All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT now, the Democratic senator, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee which is front and center in this tonight. We're going to get into those details.

Senator, I appreciate your time.

The President's hiring of Joe DiGenova, a lawyer who has said President Trump was framed by the FBI and the DOJ, called Christopher Wray, the President's own pick to run the FBI a coward today. Your reaction to his hiring?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Well, obviously, this is a signal that the President wants to amp up the hostilities between himself and the FBI and the Department of Justice and the special counsel.

And I think some of the comments that Mr. DiGenova have made are in a long tradition of semi-outrageous defense council statements that are made to try to bait the prosecution or the investigation into making errors. I think Chris Wray and Bob Mueller have been around long enough not to be baited in that way, but we'll see. I hope that they just keep their cool and do their jobs. But theatrics designed to provoke prosecutors and investigators are not an unheard-of technique for lawyers representing criminal defendants.

BURNETT: You know, one of the President's tweets, senator, he wrote, "The Mueller probe should never have been started, in that there was no collusion and there was no crime." His personal lawyer, John Dowd, told the "Daily Beast" that it's time to end the Mueller investigation.


BURNETT: So this is what came out. And then, of course, the White House came out today and was adamant, "No, no, no, no, the President is not going to plan on -- is not going to fire Mueller." Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters, "It's pretty clear", I'm quoting Hogan, "There are no conversations or discussions about removing Mr. Mueller."

Do you take the White House at their word? Or I suppose I should say, at which word?

WHITEHOUSE: I think at this point, enough has been said to threaten the Mueller investigation that the Republicans in the Senate, particularly Chairman Grassley, should schedule a markup of the bills that would provide a little bit of due process before a firing of Mueller could be concluded and let those bills come forward. We've had the hearings. Both bills are bipartisan. They can be readily reconciled, but there's no point in reconciling them if a markup isn't scheduled.

So that would be the next logical step and I think as a Senate, as a Congress, we should be stepping up to do the things that even Speaker Ryan has said we should do, which is to make sure that the Mueller investigation can run its due in proper course.

That's the logical next step. If it is not taken, that sends a very big signal to the President that we do not take this seriously and that it will amp up the pressure by the White House on this investigation.

BURNETT: Do you support your colleague, Bob Corker? I know you're aware, he is saying he wants a bill to protect Mueller, but he wants to attach it to a bill, obviously, to keep the government open, the spending bill. Would you go ahead and support it being done that way?

WHITEHOUSE: If that could be done, yes. It would be helpful if we've had the markup so that the two bills that both do this could be reconciled. We have not agreed on a single piece of legislation. We have two bipartisan pieces of legislation to reconcile. But, yes, i would absolutely support tagging that on to this bill --

BURNETT: As Corker suggested.

WHITEHOUSE: -- once the bill is reconciled.

BURNETT: When I bring up Corker, I don't know if you heard at the beginning of our program just before our interview, but, you know, I played the very strong statements out of Corker, out of Flake, out Gowdy, out of Hatch. They all came out and spoke out against what the President is saying against Mueller. They said it's unacceptable. Gowdy said, that's not how an innocent person would behave. That's brave of them to do.

But as we pointed out, right, they all happen to be resigning.


BURNET: We're not hearing as much from Republicans who are not resigning, who are staying in this Congress. The House Speaker, Paul Ryan, only had that short statement, didn't go to camera, as he said, as the speaker has always said, "Mr. Muller and his team should be able to do their job."

Are you confident Republicans are --

WHITEHOUSE: This is not their favorite conflict.

[19:10:16] BURNETT: But are they going to take him on on this or not, more broadly?

WHITEHOUSE: I think we've got to force that question by getting the legislation to protect special counsel past. That really is the acid test. You can say all you like, you can try to dodge the talk shows or go on the talk shows, but ultimately, if the President is going to move against the Special Counsel, then legislation in place is a really good way to show that, A, you're serious about this, and B, it's not going to be so easy for the President to do that. That could have a very significant effect and keep us within the confines of rule of law, which is what is, I think -- what at least should be first in everybody's priorities.

BURNETT: All right. Senator Whitehouse, thank you. I appreciate your time tonight, sir.

WHITEHOUSE: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, breaking news, "The Washington Post" tonight reporting Trump's lawyers are handing over information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And there's a strategy they're giving because they don't want to give something even bigger. We're going to tell you what's going on.

And Facebook snared in a massive scandal that's growing bigger tonight. Shares of Facebook even plunging on this news. And it's all related to the Trump campaign. And James Comey's highly anticipated tell-all knocked from the top of best seller list. Can you believe this, everybody? Its proof the world is still working by "A Day In the Life" of Marlon Bundo, a rabbit (ph).


[19:15:26] BURNETT: Breaking news, Trump's lawyers handing over documents tonight to the Special Counsel, Bob Mueller, this is according to the "Washington Post," which is saying it's an effort by the Trump team to actually limit the scope of any possible interview the President has with Mueller, right? Give him -- dump information in exchange for not giving information in another way.

And from what we understand, the information being handed over, "The Washington Post" is saying goes beyond the campaign. So they're saying it includes memos and messages about the firing of the National Security Adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, and the former FBI Director, Jim Comey.

OUTFRONT now, Richard Ben-Veniste, special prosecutor on Watergate, Julie Pace, the Washington Bureau Chief for the AP, and Mark Preston, our senior political analyst.

So, Richard, let me start with you. What do you make of this new reporting? They're saying, OK, we'll give you more information. Basically, anything -- they're not -- they're basically, we'll give you anything except for this interview?

RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR DURING WATERGATE: I don't think the interview will take place. I think there'll be a pretext in advance that will scotch any notion of a voluntary interview. I think we are fast approaching a crossroads, Erin, where the United States is going to have to be confronted with a decision about whether we value the rule of law.

This continued attack against Mueller, against the Department of Justice, against the FBI is a pretext for Mr. Trump eventually to fire Mr. Mueller, I believe. And unless Congress makes known their intention, that is, not to allow this, and I listened to Sheldon Whitehouse, who I have great respect for, talking about the two resolutions, there should be a third. It's a doomsday resolution. If you fire Mueller, if you take steps to impede his investigation, then we will support an impeachment resolution.

BURNETT: And I think as you're saying, obviously, there is not that will right now, at least not with the number of votes that we need to do so. We just don't have that. I mean, Julie, according to this reporting tonight from "The Post", Trump's team -- the documents that they are handing over, right, they're handing over, Richard using the word pretext, but they're handing them over because they don't want him to have to do an interview. And "The Post" is saying they're worried that the President could make erroneous claims. I guess that's the way that they would put that maybe what other people would call something else, and that he would be vulnerable in a long interview.

Obviously, this is a very serious concern among the Trump team that they can't have confidence in him going in that room.

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And what we've seen from Trump's lawyers over the last several weeks, while they've been negotiating with Mueller, is this attempt to try to minimize either Trump's in-person interaction with Mueller or the scope of what he would be questioned about. This has been part of an ongoing process. What the Trump lawyers want to do, like any lawyers would want to do to protect a high-profile client, they want to limit his exposure. And this is seems to be their way of trying to say, hey, we've already answered those questions. We already gave you that information.

I do think it's notable that they're trying to be proactive on things that happened after the campaign. Because we do know that Bob Mueller is looking at, as it relates to Trump in particular, that he's looking at the firing of James Comey. That that has really factored into his decision-making, as it relates to the president's own exposure here.

BURNETT: Right. And Mark, I mean they're looking at, obviously, who knows what they're looking at broadly, right? We can be talking about financial crimes or corruptions or collusion, whatever it might be. But we do know they are specifically looking at an obstruction of justice situation, right, with the firings of Michael Flynn and Jim Comey, because the president himself said publicly that he did so when it came to Comey regarding Russia, right?

Let me just play that sound bite to remind everybody what the president said.


TRUMP: In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.


BURNETT: So, Mark, I mean, you know, he already said what he said. What do you get from him in an interview? You get from him kind of talking around it and backing off and saying well, I didn't say what I said, and Lester Holt cut stuff out of the interview, he shouldn't have cut out, which by the way, Lester posted the whole thing online, yada, yada, yada.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, look, I mean at this point right now, I mean it's brilliant in some ways of Trump's lawyers to say, let us answer these questions proactively.

[19:20:05] You know, let's make your life easier. I don't know if that's necessarily going to work because we all know President Trump. Look, all our viewers know President Trump. Once he starts talking, he can't stop himself. It's like a freight train that has left the station and cannot stop.

And what they're concerned about is that Donald Trump will go out and he'll say something that will contradict to what he said five minutes earlier, five seconds earlier for that matter. And quite frankly, he's probably going to open up several more doors for the investigators to enter if he goes in for this investigation or for this interview.

BURNETT: And yet he maintains -- he's happy to talk to the special counsel and he has nothing to hide. And Richard, the reason why that is so important is because of what Trey Gowdy, Republican Chair of the Oversight Committee, OK, so I just want to emphasize to everybody, he's got an important position and he's a Republican, here's what he had to say about the President's cooperation or lack thereof.


GOWDY: And when you are innocent, if the allegation is collusion with the Russians and there is no evidence of that and you're innocent of that, act like it.


BEN-VENISTE: I think the President has kind of painted himself into a corner, talking about how eager he is to give his statement under oath, where, in fact, all of his actions recently are of a person who is cornered, who feels cornered, who feels agitated. And so, I still remain very skeptical that he's going to give a statement under oath.

Any lawyer looking at the record of Mr. Trump's casual acquaintance with the truth would be very remiss, I think, in allowing a statement under oath unless it's absolutely necessary.

BURNETT: And, Julie, when you take what Trey Gowdy had to say, which was very significant, with the President's tone tweet, right? The President calling out Mueller by name for the first time in a tweet where he talks about a witch hunt, it is clear he is taking this to a new level. Or even if he can't get rid of Mueller, is the goal simply to just discredit Mueller enough but in the eyes of the American public, this long-term Republican nominated by Republicans would somehow have the results of his inquiry questioned by a decent percentage of the American voting population.

PACE: Absolutely. I think that's a major part of the President's strategy here, is if he believes that he can get his core voters, who have proven to be extremely loyal to Trump to see whatever outcome of this investigation, whatever outcome comes from this investigation as either fraudulent or politically biased, then he believes that he can skate free.

I think that it's a strategy that he has seen work in other instances. He certainly goes after the news media and tries to discredit negative stories about him. He goes after political opponents and tries to discredit them. So he's had success on this front. But what we saw over the weekend was definitely an escalation from the President.

He's called this investigation a witch hunt. He has tried to discredit it previously, but going after Mueller specifically, by name, that's new, it reflects what we've heard from people around him for quite a while long time, that he has been wanting to go after Mueller, it just took this long for him to actually take that step.

BURNETT: All right, perhaps happy to burn down the whole house, even if it means he himself has nowhere to go home to. Thank you both all very much.

And next, Facebook feeling serious heat tonight, a firm linked to the Trump campaign accused of ripping off information from nearly 50 million users and using it to help the campaign. A new undercover expose on that firm is making matters worse tonight. You're going to hear part of it, pretty stunning.

And President Trump hails a drug program made possible by Hillary Rodham Clinton. And it's no joke. You'll hear him.


[19:27:11] BURNETT: Breaking tonight, the biggest plunge in four years, Facebook shares off seven percent taking the entire U.S. market down with them. This, after news that a data firm with ties to President Trump's campaign gained access to the private information of probably some of you watching, 50 million people, without their consent.

And tonight, the company, Cambridge Analytica is now the subject of a massive undercover expose. Channel 4 in the U.K. captured Cambridge Analytica senior executives, basically making a pitch to people they thought were clients, they were actually reporters posing as clients. They were pitching bribes, honey traps, digging up and then distributing nasty material about political opponents.

Here's Mark Turnbull, the managing director of Cambridge Analytica's political global team, talking about preying on people's hopes and fears.


MARK TURNBULL, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA, MANAGING DIRECTOR: Two fundamental human drivers when it comes to taking information onboard effectively are hopes and fears and many of those are unspoken and even unconscious. You didn't know that was a fear until you saw something that just evoked that reaction from you.


TURNBULL: And our job is to get -- is to drop the bucket further down the well than anybody else. To understand what are those really deep- seated underlying fears, concerns. There's no good fighting an election campaign on the facts, because actually, it's all about emotion.


BURNETT: No good fighting on the facts. Now, Cambridge Analytica says the report is edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent the nature of the conversations that took place. And they say their executives, "Entertained a series of ludicrous hypothetical scenarios."

CEO Alexander Nix says when the reporter who was posing as a client turned the conversation to entrapment and corruption, the executive, "left with grave concerns and didn't meet with him again."

Nix adding, "Cambridge Analytica does not condone or engage in entrapment, bribes or so -called honey traps nor does it use untrue material for any purpose." You will hear in just a moment what they did have to say about honey traps and prostitutes.

OUTFRONT now from Capitol Hill, Manu Raju. Manu, first, there are now growing calls tonight for an investigation into this whole situation. This firm hired by the Trump campaign and what they did with tens of millions of personal information from Americans.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And you're hearing a lot of those concerns predominantly at this moment from Democrats, Erin. That's on the House side, Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Intelligence Committee is calling for Alexander Nix to come before his committee.

Last year, Nix did speak to the House Intelligence committee via video conference. And members on the Democratic says complained that it was limited and scope and that they were -- the members were not actually present there and a lot of this information that just come out is new to them. And they want to question him on it.

But Republicans on that committee have closed out the investigation, and just tonight, the Republican who's running the Russia investigation, Mike Conaway, made very clear he does not plan to bring any Cambridge Analytica officials to the House Intelligence Committee and said that's going to be a decision for Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the committee, who's moving into other areas as part of his investigation.

You are hearing some calls from the Senate side, the bipartisan calls, for at least some hearings into this matter, bringing in Mark Zuckerberg and others from these tech companies to talk to that and to explain exactly what happened here. But so far, no commitments yet from the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley says he'll take it under consideration.

So unclear exactly how far Congress will go to dig into this matter, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you, Manu, very much.

And OUTFRONT now with me is Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is launching a state investigation into the matter.

Attorney General Healey, thank you very much for your time tonight.

I mean, new tonight, there are these secret undercover tapes that have been released in Britain showing senior executives at Cambridge Analytica talking about things like entrapping politicians in compromising situations, using bribes, sex workers. In one of the tapes, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, says and I quote him: send some girls around to the candidates' house. We have lots of history of things. Ukrainian girls are very beautiful. I find that works very well.

Knowing that that's how they do business, that's how they pitch clients, what do you say about Cambridge Analytica and its connection to Facebook and voters?

MAURA HEALEY, MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, this is all very troubling, Erin. And, look, my job as attorney general is to protect consumers. And the fact of the matter is that there are hundreds of millions of Facebook users across this country, billions across the world. And I think what users are entitled to, given how vast the amount of information is they make available online, that they have some assurance that a company like Facebook, which controls this massive platform, is going to take some responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect against this very kind of theft or misuse of their personal data.

BURNETT: So, I mean, you know, you talk about the hundreds of millions of users in the U.S., look, we understand here from the latest reporting that perhaps 50 million Facebook users here were impacted, with their information taken without their consent, by this voter influence firm that was hired by the Trump campaign.

What are you hoping your investigation will do for them?

HEALEY: Look, when you and I go online and when we participate in social networking sites, we know we're giving up some privacy in that. But I think what most people are concerned about, and certainly what consumers are correspond about is who's having access to that information? And did I actually consent to the use of that information? That's going to be the focus of my work here in this investigation.

BURNETT: And to that point, former Cambridge Analytica employee, Christopher Wylie, who is really the whistle-blower here, is doubling down on his accusation that these Facebook users may have been used to help elect Donald Trump, right? That that's what this was used for. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER WYLIE, FORMER EMPLOYEE, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA: I think it's really important for Americans to know what this company has been doing with their data. And it's really important to, I think, to find out, was this data used to help elect Donald Trump? What I do know is that Cambridge Analytica was meeting with Corey Lewandowski in 2015, before Trump had even announced and offering the services that I'm talking about right now.


BURNETT: What do you make of that? Corey Lewandowski was eventually, of course, chairman of the campaign. They're saying this started back before Trump even announced he was running.

HEALEY: Yes. Well, we need answers to a number of questions. I'll tell you, my focus is going to be on the use of this particular platform. I mean, we're in a day and an age when these are large technology companies that have a tremendous platform in terms of its scope and its reach. And we need to work together to determine how that is going to be used in a way that is responsible and in a way that consumers and the public don't get taken advantage of, don't get exploited.

Here, it's one thing for users, Facebook users to have a situation where Facebook may be targeting them with ads. It's a different situation, however, when that data, that information appears to have been misappropriated by another entity, and then used for all sorts of potentially nefarious purposes. This is serious. And it's why we're looking at this.

The other thing that happened here, Erin, that's significant, is that, remember, there were approximately 270,000 Facebook users who were basically fooled into participating in this personality test, this particular app.

[19:35:05] And what happened as a result of that, their entire social networks, friends, family, coworkers, that was also exposed and that's why you see this incredible magnitude, 50 million users. We need answers and that's why we're doing this investigation.

BURNETT: All right. Attorney General Healey, thank you for your time tonight.

HEALEY: Good to be with you, Erin.

BURNETT: And don't miss, tonight, Don Lemon, he's going to sit down with Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower, Christopher Wylie. You won't want to miss that. That's tonight at 10:00 with Don.

And next, this is going to be hard to believe, Trump is publicly congratulating, lauding something from the Clinton Foundation. Did he even know he was doing it? Wait until you hear.

And serious allegations of corruption tonight about the Kushner family. Did they just game the system to get richer?


BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump with a major endorsement of the Clinton Foundation. Yes, you heard me right. This is not an alternate universe, although, I suppose it could be. I don't know these days. Anyway, here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we applaud Adapt Pharma's decision to provide free -- free Narcan to all high schools, colleges, and universities in America.


[19:40:02] BURNETT: OK. Narcan is a life-saving drug for an opioid overdose. It is made by Adapt Pharmaceuticals, the company you just heard the president reference.

That company is giving out doses, in fact, 40,000 of them for free, as he referenced. But what he didn't reference is the way that they've been able to do that. They've been getting funding to do that for the past year from the Clinton Foundation.

OUTFRONT now, national affairs correspondent for "The Nation," Joan Walsh, and communications director for President Trump's transition team, Bryan Lanza.

Brian, did the president even know that Adapt Pharma is funded by the Clinton Foundation? I mean, you know, it's great that he's lauding what they're doing. Do you think he knew?

BRYAN LANZA, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: Yes, I would say this about the president. He's always found this issue to be a very bipartisan issue. So I'm not surprised that he's lauding this pharmaceutical company. I mean, there's a lot of innovations taking places that he's supportive of, that through his administration is moving on this issue.

I don't know that he knew about the Clinton Foundation. And to him, having talked to him about this issue and having the first connection that we have on this issue, I don't think that he cares. Like this is a president that's looking for a solution that has devastated our communities, rural and inner cities, and he's passionate about it.

BURNETT: All right. So I guess the question is, would he have chosen to mention that or something else? I mean, look, Bryan, we all know, he has talked about the Clinton Foundation anytime he can and he's talked about it in this way. Here he is.


TRUMP: The Clinton Foundation is a disgrace. It's hard to tell where the Clinton Foundation ends and where the State Department begins. Access and favors were sold for cash. A massive cover-up of widespread criminal activity at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation in order to keep the Clintons in power.


BURNETT: Joan, tonight he, quote, applauds the work they're doing, although, of course, he did not do so by name.

JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Not by name, of course. No. And I bet he has no idea that they are involved in this. I mean, this drug company is not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts, Erin, they're doing it because they're getting money from the Clinton Foundation. He does not know that, because he knows almost nothing about the opioid crisis. His own commission came out with recommendations that have been ignored.

One member of that commission came on CNN in January and said they were moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic. They put zero funding into the recommendations of their own commission. This was a political charade today. Bryan may say the president cares about it deep down in his heart, but he doesn't care enough to either learn the details of what really makes a difference or fund the kind of programming that it requires.

BURNETT: Bryan, it does speak a lot for character, here. Do you think the president would have had the character to say it if he knew the Clinton campaign funded it? Or perhaps even to mention that they had done something good? It would have been a very magnanimous and good thing to do, wouldn't it?

LANZA: I mean, we can speculate. I don't know what they put together for this president, but I think what we saw was he saw a program that's working, that's effective, and that's working towards sort of a common solution. And it is a bipartisan thing. I can't tell you what the administration knew and what he wouldn't have done.

But like I said, what I know from this president, from going on three years, is that he does have a commitment on this issue. He's made promises, and you know, contrary to what's been said, he has had initiatives that have moved forward, and they're working on it now. I think what he laid out today, a good amount of that stuff was going to take an executive order and not congressional approval. That was on purpose. He wants to move fast here.

BURNETT: Well, that's interesting. You know, if he's calling out something as effective and it came from the Clinton Foundation, I'm just pointing out. I mean, I know the Clinton Foundation is a disgrace certainly wouldn't fit with that.

This is a major policy speech, OK, that he gave today, and I know you all dispute what he's actually done, but it was a major speech. Part of his policy on combating opioid crisis, Joan, has -- it involves death penalty for some drug dealers. He spoke about that specifically today. Here he is.


TRUMP: We have to get tough on those people. And that toughness includes the death penalty.


BURNETT: In the past, he's complimented the president of the Philippines for imposing the death penalty, on executing people, drug dealers, specifically, without due process.

WALSH: Right. This is disgusting. It's a disgusting thing to say. It's an awful thing to call for. Most people will say, it won't help.

And I also need to point out, with Erin, that the president once was a character witness for a cocaine dealer who happened to run his helicopter operation with Trump casinos. He almost lost his casino license because he literally wrote a letter that got this guy, Joseph Weichselbaum, a softer sentence. The rest of the people involved in the trafficking got 20 years. This guy -- Trump's friend got 18 months.

David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, has been all over this story for two years. It's got no attention. And now, he's calling for the death penalty for opioid dealers? It's ridiculous.

BURNETT: Bryan, is that the ultimate hypocrisy?

LANZA: No. Listen, as somebody who is passionate about this issue, I lost a brother-in-law to this issue. You know, I do think that these drug pushers, you know, do deserve some type of punishment and as harsh as possible. I mean, oftentimes, they're not responsible for the loss of one life, they're responsible for the loss of dozens of lives. And at some point, you have to say, when is enough enough?

I think you have to send a message to these pushers that are targeting our children, that are targeting our communities, that a as country, we've had enough of them targeting and preying on these victims. And we have to find a solution.

Like I said, my thing is, I've lost a brother-in-law. This is a very personal issue to me on this. And I don't think we can be harsh enough on these pushers.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

Of course, no matter where you fall on this shall, you have to look to Mexico. You can kill and more people come in. Money can do a lot.

All right, thank you all very much.

And next, the Kushner family real estate profits under major scrutiny tonight. Did the family enrich themselves by self-dealing, skirting the law?

And a book war over Mike Pence's pet rabbit.


BURNETT: New tonight, serious allegations of corruption aimed at Jared Kushner's family business. Now, Kushner still has a stake in his family's real estate company, which is obviously a big question to begin with.

[19:50:04] And he's under scrutiny amid reports of falsified documents that helped company's profits.

Cristina Alesci is OUTFRONT.


CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These three buildings in Queens, New York, are the latest headaches for Jared Kushner and his family's company. In a span of about two years, Kushner Companies bought and sold these apartment complexes making $19 million in profit. But now, allegations that he repeatedly lied on city paperwork and forced out tenants.

AARON CARR, HOUSING RIGHTS INITIATIVE: When there's smoke, there's Kushner.

ALESCI: Watchdog group Housing Rights Initiatives says the Kushner claimed on these forms that there were no rent stabilized apartments in these buildings, when in fact many were rent stabilized, which drives down the value of the building.

CARR: Kushner Companies appears to have deliberately used invasive destructive and illegal construction practices to push tenants out of its apartment.

ALESCI: In New York, rent stabilization means landlords are limited in how much they can raise rents. When tenants leave, the landlord can charge more. By Kushner Companies claiming there were no protected tenants in the building, advocates say it was easier for them to force tenants out.

RITCHIE TORRES, OVERSIGHT & INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE, NYC COUNCIL: Kushner Companies is engaged in a practice that I call the weaponization of construction, the use of illegal construction to harass tenants out of their homes and to deregulate affordable housing units out of existence.

ALESCI: CNN found Kushner companies marked at least 16 buildings as not having rent stabilized apartments when in fact there were as many as a hundred and sixty eight in those buildings. Many of the forms were later corrected the city council is opening an investigation and will refer any illegal activity to law enforcement.

For its part, Kushner companies denied it acted improperly, saying in a statement, our development team has renovated thousands of apartments with minimal complaints over the past 30 years. The investigation is trying to create an issue when none exists.

Kushner Companies did not intentionally falsify department of buildings filings in an effort to harass any tenants.

One expert we talked to you says the practice of incorrectly completing these forms was common in New York. Jared Kushner was the CEO of Kushner Companies at the time of these alleged violations, though he didn't personally sign the forms. After moving to Washington, he stepped down from the family business but he still invested in some of these deals. In fact, his personal financial disclosures lists the three properties in Queens.

This building, 666 5th Avenue is one other complication. The skyscraper has major debt. Jared's father Charles Kushner now confirms he discussed raising money from Qatar's finance minister in April. That's after Jared Kushner joined the White House.

In a statement to "The Washington Post", Charles Kushner said, quote: Before the meeting, Kushner Companies had decided that it was not going to accept sovereign wealth fund investments. We informed the Qatari representatives of our decision and they agreed.

Yet the meeting raises questions about what outside influence countries might be able to exert through Jared Kushner, one of the presidents most senior advisors.


ALESCI: Now for the most part, Kushner Companies saying maybe there were clerical errors in some documents but Kushner Companies has other documents it says that it filed correctly. Now, CNN has obtained one of those dockland documents which was filed in 2015. But at this point, there's an investigation.

This misleading paperwork sparks an investigation and Kushner Companies are going to have to deal with it.

BURNETT: Many, many questions.

All right. Cristina, thank you so much.

And next, trolling Mike Pence with his own rabbit. It sounds inappropriate but Jeanne Moos will explain.


[19:58:01] BURNETT: Tonight, down the rabbit hole. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Forget Trump versus Mueller. This battle pits bunny book against gay bunny book.

VOICE: Hello, my name is Marlon Bundo.

MOOS: The vice presidential pet, Mike Pence's daughter got him five years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marlon's from Craigslist.

MOOS: A seller said, make me an offer -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.

MOOS: So, the name Marlon Bundo stuck. Now, Charlotte Pence has penned a children's book about him illustrated by her mom. Karen Pence says she doesn't do faces so don't expect to see her husband's.

The night before the Pence's book came out, John Oliver show published its own version.

JOHN OLIVER, COMEDIAN: Our story is about Marlon Bundo falling in love with another boy rabbits because our Marlon Bundo is gay.

MOOS: In a dig at Mike Pence's positions on gay rights, Marlon falls for Wesley.

VOICE: We will get married and hop together forever,

MOOS: Gay romance in one version, the vice president reading the Bible holding Marlon in the other.

In the gay audio book, Marlon is voiced by actor Jim Parsons.

VOICE: So Wesley and I got married.

MOOS: Parsons is himself married to a man.

Marlon Bundo has been promoting his book by pretending to read, nosing around the dust jacket, checking out a newspaper article.

The publisher of the Pence's book sounded hopping mad: It's unfortunate that anyone would feel the need to ridicule an educational children's book and turn it into something controversial and partisan.

Though author Charlotte Pence seemed unfazed. the only thing better than one bunny book for charity is two.

Marlon himself has other priorities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marlon does like to go up to the vice president's feet and he'll chew on his socks.

MOOS: But in the gay version, Marlon and Wesley bypassed the socks in pursuit of each other.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

VOICE: We have to get some sleep Marlon, tomorrow, we leave on our bunny moon.

MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: And Jim Comey, that's now number one on Amazon.

Thanks for joining us. "AC360" starts now.