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Delivery Van Plowed Into A Crowd Of People, Killing Two And Injured At Least 20 Others; President Trump's Attorneys Have Started To Prepare Him For A Potential Interview With Special Counsel Robert Mueller; President Trump Is Defending His Embattled EPA Chief Scott Pruitt; President Trump Singled Out California For His Millions Of Illegal Votes Claim; Tiger Woods Facing An Uphill Climb At The Masters. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired April 7, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: This happened in Germany. The northwestern city of Muenster, near the Dutch border. A man behind the wheel of a delivery van plowed into a crowd of people, killing two and injured at least 20 others. Some of them are in critical condition right now. Witnesses say the van smashed into the open air section of a busy restaurant. The driver of that van is also dead. Police say he committed suicide with a gun right after the crash.
Julian Reichelt is joining us now. He is the editor in chief of the newspaper "Bild."
Julian, it is after 10:00 at night there now in Germany. This happened about 3:00 in the afternoon, I understand. State officials just held a live press conference with reporters. What did they say?
JULIAN REICHELT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BILD NEWSPAPER: Well, they basically talked, the media through what happened today and what they know about it perpetrator. The one thing that is of highest importance here is that so far nothing points to (INAUDIBLE), although, the footprint of the attack definitely looked like in the beginning, the perpetrator is a 48-year-old or 49-year-old German man who lived in the city of Muenster, who has no criminal background, who his neighbors describe as a completely unknown, someone who never was special, who never stood out. And so far, there are no clear motives and no clear indications why he carried out this attack today.
CABRERA: And why are federal officials so confident, though, that this man has no extremist motivations or connections at this point? It is still so early in the investigation.
REICHELT: Well, so far, they are only confident about Islamist background. And they are not ruling out a political background. It's still very possible that he had some sort of a political motive. There were reports today that a political pro-Kurdish (ph) demonstration was planned exactly in the spot where he carried out this attack today. There are speculations about the more extreme political background of this man. But so far, that's only speculation. So what they are able to rule out right now is a possible Islamist background, but no political background. CABRERA: OK. So they are saying no Islamic terrorism at least at
this point in the investigation. Sources also telling us that police officers are at this attacker's home, searching it. What are they looking for, do you know?
REICHELT: Well, they are looking for possible clues into the motives of this person. And from what we have learned from our police sources, apparently he may not only have one residence but several residences, which would be kind of strange. Usually in Germany, where you are registered, you have one address and not several. So this may be the first of a couple of ways they could have the German squads have entered the bidding about an hour ago. There were explosions heard. So we do not know why they used these kind of methods. But apparently, they wanted to make sure that there is no one still left in the building who could then attack them. So they went in quite aggressively. And now are searching the residence of the man who drove the truck, to learn more about his motive.
CABRERA: Julian Reichelt, in Germany, thank you for that update.
Joining us to talk more about this, two CNN law enforcement analysts, James Gagliano and Josh Campbell. Both are former FBI supervisory special agents.
So James, police announced very quickly this was a deliberate attack. And now also announcing quickly they don't see any ties to radical Islamic terrorism. Is there any information in what we just heard that stands out to you?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure. The attacker appears to be an anomaly from this sense. And I have been making some phone calls and talk to some characters and experts. So we know that they are saying police right now are skeptical this is an Islamist terrorist. But they are not saying he wasn't an adherent to a particular political ideology. Remember, terrorism is you are conducting violence or intimidation in pursuit of political or social goals.
Ana, real quickly, let's walk down what has happened over the last two years.
14th July, 2016, in Niece, France, 86 kills, one attacker.
19th December, 2016, in Berlin, 12 killed, one attacker. 3rd June of 2017, the London bridge attack. You and I sat here and talked about it that night. Eight kills and three attackers.
31st October, 2017, right around the corner from us, west side highway attack, eight dead.
What is different about this attack that gives us pause is this fact. Most of the time, the folks that I have talked to that talk about Islamist terrorists, if they are going to conduct their terror attack, the martyrdom comes from giving their life in the pursuit. So if they use a bomb, they die in it. The bomb they become part of the weapon. If they die by suicide by cop, martyrdom is still a possibility. In this instance, the attacker took his own life. By their rule book, that's cowardice. That's what makes us think there might be some kind of mental instability here.
[16:05:04] CABRERA: And when we talk about the attacker, Josh, in this case, we know the driver killed himself, as James mentioned. The authorities have now said he is a German citizen. And based on Julian's reporting, he had no criminal background. What happens next?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, great to be with you, Ana and Jimmy.
Next is going to be trying to fully identify this individual and everyone who was in his orbit. Having worked far too many of these investigations involving the loss of life overseas, I can tell you that there are two aspects. There is the part of the investigation that is seen and the part that's unseen.
As we watch the pictures there of the crime scene and we saw earlier footage of police officers processing, that's what is seen. We see the collection of physical evidence in order to determine what happened and how it happened.
The second part, the unseen, is going to help us determine why it happened and get to that motive. And until we fully identify the subject, we won't yet know, you know, what his tendencies were, who his contacts were. That is a part of the investigation that is going to take some time in order to really sue that out.
And it is important because especially, you know, as you mentioned, the reporter earlier, how close this was to the Dutch border, you know. This is something that may not just in fact Germany but other countries as well. So, you know, if you have other associates, now is the time where they may be going underground, they may be looking to, you know, escape the purview of the law enforcement. And so, it's really going to be an all hands on deck approach.
And I can tell you, and Jimmy spent time overseas as well, you know, working with our foreign partners. The fusion of information between intelligence services and law enforcement has come so far, you know, from early days where now we see it as just a matter of course. That it's one of these attacks happens and an individual identified, that information is quickly shared to other law enforcement services, other intelligence agencies so they can determine if they have information that may also help investigators locally.
CABRERA: James, this isn't the first time we have seen a vehicle used in an attack, even in Germany specifically. You mentioned the Berlin attack. You take through a bunch of other ones that had happened in Europe and here on U.S. soil. What do we know about the uptick in this specific type of attack specifically though in Europe?
GAGLIANO: Sure. And I called for this. I mean, the United States is part of the five Is. We have intelligence sharing with four other partners. I think we need to expand that going forward. I also think we need to look at soft targets. And we have seen the proliferation of shootings at schools. We talked about hardening of schools to make them a more difficult target for somebody bent on causing death and destruction there.
And immediately in the wake of the west side terror attack where we talked about this, this was on 31 October of this past year. We talked about how quickly the New York City council came to be putting up the ballards along the west side highway. They recognized that there were access routes that a vehicle could get on there, where there were bike paths and passenger and routes where people could walk, and they fixed that.
I think going forward, we're going to have to look in the west at possibly doing a better job of separating pedestrian thoroughfares from vehicular traffic.
CABRERA: Terror climate in Europe. We have talked a lot about this over the past few years, Josh. What more can you tell us about what's happening in that realm in this part of Germany?
CAMPBELL: Well, I think it's important to first say, as we mentioned, you know, throughout our reporting today, that we are not yet clear whether this was terrorism. I think it's too early. Obviously, that's going to be something that investigators are going to look into for the reasons that were mentioned earlier. It looks like, you know, it is questionable when compared to other attacks. But unfortunately, the climate is such that we have seen these types of incidents in the past. And when you look at individuals and back at some of the recent instances of terrorism, individuals are either inspired or sometimes directed by those who are overseas. And that's why it's going to be very important to fully identify this person, to determine it.
And I would say if it is terrorism, it is a big if, but if it is terrorism, what caused that motivation? Is this something that he, you know, came to on his own or did he have contacts that now investigators and law enforcement are going to want to, you know, determine and see if they are actually inspiring other people as well.
It's a herculean effort in order to go and dig in to someone's past, but they are going to be looking at that. That just will put to look at everything in his orbit, as mentions, his contacts, his associates, his communications, mediums in order to determine, because as you mentioned, this isn't the first time we have seen these types of incidents.
As we look to the Middle East, I mean, we have talked a lot about ISIS, you know, in recent years. As they are crushed, there will be fighters that are returning home that are going back. So just because we are taking land away from them doesn't mean we are going to be taking away that ideology. So it is very much remains a threat.
CABRERA: Right. And as you point out, it doesn't look like this has any tie to Islamic terrorism or radical Islamist terrorism, according to officials in their latest press conference.
But James, back to the fact that this is a tactic we have seen used by other terrorists in the past, using a vehicle to create chaos, to create death and injury, what do law enforcement officials do knowing this is increased in frequency? How are they combatting this? GAGLIANO: Yes. I mean, the west, we pride ourselves on civil
liberties. We pride ourselves on living in a democracy, and you are able to do what you do with limited restrictions. It is difficult. We can certainly chart when people buy firearms, you know. That conversation has been going on here for a while, but how do we deal with this?
This isn't somebody that is buying components to a bomb. It is not somebody buying large amounts of fertilizer. This is a vehicle. And somebody owns a vehicle and they have a valid driver's license, and really, they are not on our radar. Very, very difficult. I think what's going to be important here is to look at the digital footprint of this individual. It's the 21st century. Everyone seemingly has a digital foot print. What that digitally exhausts from, you know, their iPads, their phones, who they called were there any associates involved in this or was this just a mentally disturbed individual.
And Ana, it's a difficult thing. You and I have talked about this so many times before. We want to, sometimes people that are just evil or people are mentally disturbed. We want to try to attach some motive to it and sometimes that's really difficult to do.
CABRERA: You just look for red flags, and that can be the key in terms of prevention. I know that we have discussed in the past.
Thank you, both. James Gagliano and Josh Campbell. We will, of course, stay on top of this story as we get new developments throughout the hours in the NEWSROOM.
CNN exclusive, the President's lawyers preparing him for a possible interview with the special counsel. So how high are the stakes?
Plus, Trump revives a conspiracy theory about illegal voting in the election. So why is he doubling down when it's already been debunked?
And a scandal keeps piling up for the President's EPA chief. Why Scott Pruitt was forced out of his D.C. condo and even had the locks changed on him.
[16:15:36] CABRERA: Welcome back.
Now to CNN's exclusive reporting that President Trump's attorneys have started to prepare him for a potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. This news is the clearest sign yet that the President's legal team is at the very least thinking about allowing him to sit down with Mueller. Someone who is already indicted 19 people, including four former Trump campaign officials. Now, the President has said multiple times that he wants to talk, even under oath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, would you still like to testify to special counsel Robert Mueller, sir? DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. I would
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of this.
TRUMP: One hundred percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to Mueller?
TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it, actually.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To reach a high standard, you would do it under oath, correct?
TRUMP: I would do it under oath.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: He even said at one point, I would love to do it.
Let's bring in someone who has an idea of what a sit-down with Mueller might look like. CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin is a former federal prosecutor who has worked closely with Mueller at the DOJ.
Good to see you, Michael. You are the perfect person to have this conversation with this afternoon. What does this new detail tell you, are Trump's lawyers going to let him be questioned?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think, Ana, that there are possibly three ways to evaluate this. One is they are testing to see how well the President might hold up in interview with Mueller. And they could be doing -- starting the process of mock interviews in the same way you might prepare for a Presidential debate with mock debates and questions and simulate what's going on just to see how the President does to help them make a decision about whether to comply or not to comply with the request.
Two is the lawyers could have concluded this is a big mistake, that the President is not ready for this, doesn't have the discipline to go through this, and they are going to try to prove to him through these prep sessions that this is not what he wants to do, and that we have to think of a different legal strategy.
Or third, they could be saying, look, this is inevitable. The case law, Nixon v. the United States, Clinton v. Jones, really don't give us much room to resist this. So we just better start preparing piece by piece, you know, topic by topic, obstruction, collusion, coordination. And hope that the President spends time with us and actually sits down and does this and not throw his notes up in the air like he did in West Virginia.
CABRERA: Right. Right. So let's go with that scenario, given you have worked with Robert Mueller. If you are part of President Trump's legal team, how would you be prepping him specifically for a potential Mueller question? ZELDIN: So I think the way you would look at it is, Mueller is going
to identify specific areas that he wants to make inquiry of. He is going to probably want to talk about coordination with campaign officials and Russians. He is going to want to talk about allegations of obstruction of justice or other interference. And he will have a couple of topics that will be predetermined between the lawyers about that's what he wants to. And then he is going to start asking about each of those topics. And so, when you prepare the President, you have to do the same thing. You got topic by topic, prepare the President so he knows what to say, so he knows what others have said from the public record. He has a lot of catching up to do with Mueller, who is way ahead in terms of preparation. But it's really going to be a long process to catch up to Mueller and be ready to answer the questions that Mueller is going to be prepared to ask.
CABRERA: Now, Trump's legal team on the Russia related issues. We know, consists of just two lawyers, Jay Sekulow as well as Ty Cobb. Do you think they are up to the task?
ZELDIN: I don't think that's enough band width to prepare the President. I think that they need additional people, experienced prosecutors who have done this before. I know Sekulow has a prosecutor who is working with him on a part-time basis.
But if I were advising the President, I would suggest he bring in a couple of additional full-time former prosecutors, maybe some who have worked with Mueller or worked with others associated on the Mueller team so they understand what Mueller is like to work with or be interviewed by. And have them lead the prep sessions, as I say, I have analogized it to preparing for a Presidential debate.
I don't know how the President prepared for his Presidential debates, but I know how others do. And it's a serious mock court sort of process where you are running through the various questions and answers that you anticipate will come your way so that when they come your way, you don't hear them for the first time.
[16:20:24] CABRERA: When I was preparing for this segment, I was thinking about those Presidential debate preps as well. We know this President isn't much for preps. In fact, he threw out his prepared remarks literally in the air this week. And you mentioned that as well.
But I spoke with Sam Nunberg a long time ago, who was part of the debate prep for the President during the campaign, who basically said, Trump really didn't feel like he needed to get ready for those debates. He was ready as is. So why do you think he is agreeing to this prep now?
ZELDIN: Well, because in a Presidential debate, if you make a misstatement, and it's just a political event. In a deposition or under oath, grand jury appearance, if you make a mistake, which is a material misstatement, it can land you with a felony charge of either perjury if you are under oath or making a false statement if you are not under oath. Each of which carries criminal penalties. And could lead to an indictment if the President is indictable or an article of impeachment if the house was so inclined.
So the stakes are much higher in this context. The President knows that he has been deposed in civil actions, and I expect his lawyers are telling him the big difference here is Robert Mueller has the power of prosecution, and that's not what you want to, you know, run afoul of or the power of referral to the House for articles of impeachment consideration. This is something, Mr. President that we really need to put the time into and prepare for.
CABRERA: So you are saying he hasn't experienced anything like this before, despite the fact he has touted he has been deposed more than 100 times in the past through his business dealings.
Thank you, Michael Zeldin.
ZELDIN: You're welcome, Ana.
CABRERA: Coming up, President Trump is defending his embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt, calling him a quote "good man." Why some say that phrase could actually be the kiss of death.
[16:26:47] CABRERA: Welcome back.
To see a portrait of what a cabinet secretary attracting the wrong kind of attention looks like, just look to the headlines this week about EPA chief Scott Pruitt. Allegations of a sweetheart deal for a $50 a night condo from lobbyists in D.C., one that Pruitt stayed in for so long, the landlords were forced to kick him out by changing locks.
A request for police escorts to flashlight and play a siren to help him get around town faster, including on trips to restaurants. Descending officials sidelined or demoted as punishment for speaking up against the boss. And an inquiry into just how much it would cost to lease a private jet for government business.
This is just the beginning of even more allegations against Scott Pruitt. And they begin to paint portrait of a key Trump administration member indulging in the worst instincts of the Washington swamp the President promised to drain. Ask the President, however, and he sees an effective steward of his priorities, unfairly under siege.
Joining us now, Myron Ebell, the director of the center for energy and environment at the competitive Enterprise Institute, and a key member of the President's transition team. Also, Van Jones, host of the Van Jones show, right here on CNN, and a former special adviser for green jobs to President Obama.
Van, I'll start with you. Should Scott Pruitt be fired?
VAN JONES, CNN HOST, VAN JONES SHOW: Yes. And the fact that we are even having a conversation like this is really, really terrible. This is -- we talk about conflict of interest. You literally could
not have a more textbook example. In fact, if you had a TV script for a corrupt -- they would say no, this is unreasonable. Nobody in a federal office, nobody in public life would ever do anything close to this. You are working for the President of the United States, and you are taking free gifts from lobbyists. You are staying in the home of a lobbyist? And then you turn around and you do favors for that person in broad daylight. And the President says you are under unfair attack.
What attack would be fair? What attack would be fair? If this is not a fair instance of the public being concerned, the media being concerned, and now government officials being concerned about clear abuse of authority at the highest levels.
CABRERA: Myron, looking at all of these ethics concerns, if one of your employees did what Mr. Pruitt is alleged to have done, would you keep him on?
MYRON EBELL, TRUMP TRANSITION MEMBER: He has been a little careless, but I want to point out to Van Jones, he may have forgotten that in 2010, it was revealed that the treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, had lived for eight months free in a townhouse valued at over $3 million owned by a Wall Street executive.
JONES: Were you for that?
EBELL: I don't remember him complaining.
JONES: This is the kind of stuff, you can't defend it, so you say, look what my little brother did, look what Tommy did. This is the kind of stuff that's ruing the country. You know better than to pretend that the only thing wrong in the country is the Democrats are bad or the Republicans are bad. We have to have high standards for everybody. And this does not meet your standard, I know all about you. You have higher standards than this.
CABRERA: What do you say? Should he be fired? Should Pruitt be fired, Myron?
EBELL: No. Van, I agree with you that there is a swamp here. And these kinds of things are tolerated, careless, just stupid things that people do because they want to have a first-class flight or they want to get someplace quicker.
[16:30:12] CABRERA: Hold your thought for just a second. Hold your thought for a second, Myron, because it's a lot more than that. It's a lot more than the $50 a night condo. Let me put up a list of all the other things that have come up through the course of the past several days.
There is the condo that he rented from energy lobbyists. He approved raises apparently for two aides, salaries after the White House the declined the requests. He asked security to use sirens to cut through traffic. He reassigned staffers after they raised concerned about his spending. He requested a 24/7 security detail on personal trips that racked up tens of thousands of dollars. He spent $120,000 on a trip to the Vatican. He hired 12 more agents costing at least $2 million per year for their salaries. You have all these flights in first class, totaling more than $100,000 in the first year of the administration. He has spent approximately $25,000 for a highly secure sound proof booth for Pruitt. He considered buying a $75,000 bullet-proof desk replacement. You are OK with that? You are willing to just look the other way?
EBELL: No, but I want you to understand that if you compare this to Gina McCarthy, his predecessor or Lisa Jackson, Gina McCarthy thumbed her nose at a congressional subpoena. Lisa Jackson used a false identity to avoid our freedom of information act laws, which my colleague Chris Horner discovered, by the way. And so these are -- these are very serious compared to wasting a few thousand dollars.
JONES: Lisa Jackson didn't spend a couple of million dollars going to Disney Land.
I mean, here is a thing. You guys have only one play book, which is to come out and try to find anybody who ever did anything bad before and say what about that? And I don't understand why you can't just say, as a conservative, this is not the way the government should be functioning.
I mean, I am sure you like the fact that he is pro-pollution and that kind of stuff. Maybe you can defend his policy record, but you can't defend his ethics. And to try to go nit-picking back through everybody who ever served in government, I don't think serve your cause very much.
Here is the problem we have right now. The worst thing that you can say about a public official is that they are abusing the trust of the American people and the American taxpayer. According to conservatives. And that's what's happening here.
EBELL: Van, I think that you are losing sight of the fact of what this is really about. The attack on Scott Pruitt personally is really an attack on President Trump's agenda. President Trump is trying to reform the EPA and get rid of the regulatory onslaught that has developed throughout the Obama administration. And the Democrats and the environmental pressure groups can't defeat him on the policy because in fact they are very popular. They want to get rid of Scott Pruitt because that will make it much harder for the President to implement his very ambitious agenda.
CABRERA: Van, before you respond, let's just take a look a little bit about what Mr. Pruitt has done in his brief tenure on the policy side. His EPA has already repealed the clean power plan, centralized control of the clean water act decisions. Revised fuel efficiency standards. Eased clean air act regulations. Do Democrats want him fired because he has been effective?
JONES: Listen, he is a pro-pollution administrator. You have -- this is a guy who is in the name of trying to go after job killing regulation, is ramming through child killing deregulation. Increasing the amount of pollution, the amount of poison in American air and water, which means more asthma attacks for kids, more cancer for kids. That's his agenda. He is a pro-pollution administrator. We don't like that.
So the reality is we have been saying that the whole time. We have been challenging him on that the whole time. The idea that the only reason that the rest of the public is now outraged about him is because environmentalists don't like his record is absurd.
I'm sorry, the American people have a little bit better sense, a little bit more integrity than you think. People don't like this stuff. I don't like -- listen, I think his major crimes against the country are poisoning America's air and water, but it's a serious crime against the public trust to do stuff he's doing.
I don't like kids going to the hospital for asthma and cancer. That's why I want to make sure that we have clean air and clean water. He has got another agenda. That's fine. But then pursue that agenda with integrity. Pursue it with high ethics. Don't pursue it in a sleazy way that you would never accept from anybody else, a government official, especially if they were Democrats.
CABRERA: Myron, isn't there somebody else who could potentially push through the President's agenda who doesn't have all this ethical baggage?
EBELL: Ana, the reason these charges about raising pollution and creating more asthma attacks isn't resonating with the public is because it's totally false. The air continues to get cleaner. The water continues to get cleaner. We have laws in place which Scott Pruitt has said we need to get back to basics and actually concentrate on the pollution laws and not a lot of stuff that is politically correct.
So the fact is, of course, there are other people who can do it. But once you have taken out -- this is the first person who has tried to reform, Scott Pruitt is the first person who has tried to reform the EPA since early in the Reagan administration.
[16:35:32] JONES: This isn't a reform.
EBELL: This is -- if he is taken out, it's going to be very hard in the current political situation to get someone anywhere near as good and as committed to the President's agenda as Scott Pruitt is.
JONES: All politics.
CABRERA: Van, you respond and I want to play sound from Al Gore.
JONES: It's all politics all the time. The actual ethics don't matter, the impact doesn't matter. And by the way, this idea that Obama's EPA did all this horrible damage, just to be clear about the facts here, under President Obama, the economy grew and kept growing. We came out of the great recession with all those policies in place. And by the way, California -- yes, and by the way, California, which has tougher environmental laws than does the federal government, is actually growing bigger and stronger and better than the rest. You can have good environmental policy and good economic policy, and I think it's important for us to remember that.
CABRERA: And good ethics and be able to complete that as well. Regardless of where you stand on the policy, find somebody who matches your policy who has good ethics.
But Van, let's play a clip from Al Gore and your interview with him which will air tonight on the van Jones show. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will tell you that I would be very surprised if 90 percent of the American people looking at the facts of that situation did not think that there was the appearance of outright corruption there. And Donald Trump ought to fire him. It won't do any good for me to say that, but if I told him to keep him on, maybe that would make him fire him.
But honestly, regardless of party, regardless of ideology or his policies, the American people have a right to believe there is some modicum of integrity in the way our government is operating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Van, do you think we need to hear that kind of a message from more Republicans?
JONES: If this were a Democratic official, you would have the Republican Party lined up and screaming. I have seen Republicans going after, you know, mayors of urban centers, Congress people, for tiny, tiny infractions. This is an over the top, blatant abuse of power. The Republican Party should step up to the plate and defend its own principles and values in this matter.
CABRERA: I'll give you the final thought, Myron. We have seen, by the way, three Republicans who have said Pruitt should not keep his job.
EBELL: He is doing a good job. And contrary to Van's story line about how great the economy was and how great California is doing under Obama, in fact, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and the reason President Trump won the election --
CABRERA: Real quick, though. I don't want to go down the hole about -- hold on, hold on. Hold on. Hold on, answer the question on Pruitt. Specific to Pruitt, Myron, I know you want to talk about California policy.
EBELL: Ana, you never told van he need to concentrate on Pruitt. You let him give them completely phony story. President Trump won the election because he said I'm going to get rid of the regulatory onslaught at the EPA, and he won the industrial belt in rural America, and that's why he's President. Scott Pruitt is an important part of that, and that's why we're defending him over these really small potatoes charges.
CABRERA: All right, got to go, guys. We will leave it there. Myron Ebell and Van Jones, thank you both.
EBELL: Thank you.
CABRERA: A reminder to tune in tonight for the VAN JONES SHOW featuring former vice President Al Gore. He has much more to say on this issue and more. The director of the mega hit movie "Black Panther" Ryan Coogler also joins Van. That's tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.
We will be right back.
[16:43:42] CABRERA: A dose of unreality from the President this week. The man who won the election and lost the popular vote regurgitated a debunked conspiracy theory that millions voted illegally. The President already devoted government money to proving this fantasy. His presidential voter fraud commission uncovered no evidence of massive wide-scale fraud before dissolving, yet, the President the apparently still believes this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Many places like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to say, that's a conspiracy theory. Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: California secretary of state Alex Padilla is joining us now.
Sir, thank you for spending your Saturday with us.
First, President Trump singled out your state for his millions of illegal votes claim. What's your response to what we just heard from the President?
ALEX PADILLA, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you, Ana, for having us back to be able to respond and defend our honor.
You know, the President's allegations are not just allegations. They are just outright lies. He is clearly still fixated. His ego can't handle the fact he lost the national popular vote, so he makes these false allegations, that by the way, dishonor and disrespect the state elections officials across the country, local elections officials across the country, and the thousands upon thousands of volunteers who give of their time to help administer elections with integrity.
But I think we know why he continues to do it. Because for him, it serves as a distraction. Distraction of his chaos coming out of the White House on any given day. And unfortunately, for those of us in the elections world, distraction from the real threats to our elections, issues of cybersecurity and foreign interference. The same foreign interference that he has yet to acknowledge and do something about from the 2016 elections.
[16:45:36] CABRERA: I want to ask you more about the cybersecurity side of things in a moment, but just to make sure we have the facts straight first, have you investigated any cases of potential voter fraud in California?
PADILLA: Look, we take voter fraud very seriously, and when there's proof or evidence that warrant an investigation. We take that and we act on it. But despite the year and a half and going claims coming from Trump and team Trump about massive voter fraud in California, we have asked repeatedly any proof, any evidence they have, bring it on. We Are happy to inquire and investigate, and not a peep. Not a single shred of evidence from him or his bogus commission that, as you referenced in the intro, was forced to disband after wasting taxpayer dollars and not providing a single piece of evidence of actual massive voter fraud.
Look, this is important for voters to understand. There is a lot of protocols and safeguards in place to prevent things like double voting. You know, California give you one example, increasingly, more and more people are choosing to vote by mail. They receive their ballot in the mail. If a voter tries to show up at a polling place on Election Day and vote again, the roster has a record that that person received the ballot in the mail. If that person can surrender their original ballot, they can be given a replacement ballot. Short of that, they are given a provisional vote which we check that the vote by mail ballot wasn't submitted first before counting a provisional ballot.
So again, one example in many, many more safeguards that protect the integrity of our elections.
CABRERA: Got you. And just quickly, have you investigated any cases of potential voter fraud?
PADILLA: Absolutely, voter fraud comes in many different shapes and forms. There has been investigations. There has been commissions. There's been studies and there's been reports. And they all conclude the exact same thing. Voter fraud is exceedingly, exceedingly rare. Not just in California but across the country.
CABRERA: No, that's true. That's what the studies have found.
Very quickly, if you will, what types of procedures and protocols and preventative measures are you putting into place to prevent cybersecurity election meddling for the midterms?
PADILLA: Right. Well, short of having any support coming from the oval office, we are working with Congress to buttress resources and frankly strengthening the relationship between elections officials at the state level and federal intelligence agencies so that at least become aware of the cyber threats that are upon us now with the primary season in full swing as well as having upgraded hardware, servers, et cetera, ongoing monitoring of the internet.
The good news here, at least in California, the voters are seeing right through it, the public is seeing through it. They are not believing Trump's claims and we are actually seeing registration go up. We just announced this week more than 100,000 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds preregistering to vote now. That's a lot of soon to be voters waiting in the wings for their 18th birthday.
CABRERA: California secretary of state, Alex Padilla, thank you for joining us.
PADILLA: Thank you very much.
CABRERA: Coming up, Tiger Woods facing an uphill climb at the masters while he struggles, another top player is surging. CNN's Don Riddell is following all of the action in Augusta.
DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: That's right, Ana. They call it moving day at the masters. Some are moving, some are charging. Not so much Tiger Woods, but Rory McIlroy stands on the brink of an historic achievement. We will have the latest from Augusta in just a bit.
[16:53:53] CABRERA: It's a star-studded leaderboard. Round three kicking into high gear at the masters. All the top contenders are on the course, including second-round leader Patrick Reed, former champions Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson.
Let's bring in CNN's Don Riddell. He is joining us now from Augusta, Georgia.
Don, nice weather conditions to start the tournament. And today, not quite as nice.
RIDDELL: Yes, it's dry at the moment, but the showers have been coming in on and off. And that's just an extra factor for the players to have to deal with.
But I tell you what, these young guns making a charge don't seem to be that bothered by it. Patrick Reed was absolutely electrifying on Friday. He has just made a series of birdies within the last 30, 45 minutes to build up a commanding lead here. Of course, Patrick Reed, a very exciting Ryder cup player. He is got good PGA tour pedigree. Never won a major, but he is making a very good case for himself here.
I tell you who he has got on his tail, though. Rory McIlroy, this exciting northern Irish golfer. He is trying to make history this week. He's trying to create the career slam. If he wins the masters, he will do it. It will be -- he will have won all four career grand slam tournaments in his career, joining a group of only five players, (INAUDIBLE), Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. McIlroy would become the first European to do it, and he's stating his case.
Sadly, Tiger Woods, not in contention this week. He did make the cut, though. He had his best round of the day today. It was an even par round. He is hoping to go even better on Sunday. The much vaunted comeback didn't play out as expected, but it's early in the season. He could do more later this year.
Back to you, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Don Riddell, thanks for that update.
Quick break. We will be right back.
[16:59:52] CABRERA: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. We continue to follow breaking news overseas. Two people are dead, at least 20 others are hurt after a sudden and violent attack that police say looks deliberate. It happened in Germany, the northwestern city of Muenster near the Dutch border. And a man behind the wheel of a van, a delivery van, plowed into a crowd of people. The fact that two people who died --.