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Op-Ed: Trump is Taking Us Down Path to Tyranny; Haberman: Trump Uses Twitter for Manipulating Media Coverage & Distraction; Does Putin Control Trump Through His Finances; Outrage as MGM Countersues Survivors, Families of Las Vegas Shooting; Las Vegas Shooting Victims Reacts to MGM Lawsuit. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired July 24, 2018 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] JEFFREY SACHS, PROFESSOR & DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I would like to see any voice right now in Congress every day standing up to him and saying our country doesn't run this way. Even, Mr. President, if you're right about what you're saying -- I think he's wrong -- but even if he's right, the history of our country is that presidents have worked to bring the nation along. They have worked with Congress to make sure that Congress is on board. They have never presumed this is a one-person show that you negotiate with an adversary in secret and your closest advisers, much less congressional leaders, have no idea what's going on. If you lead us --
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: But, Jeffrey --
SACHS: -- trade wars --
BALDWIN: Forgive me for jumping in. If you say anybody in Congress, there have been members of Congress who have spoken up, the John McCains of the world, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake. What has that changed?
SACHS: Well, it's good they're doing it, but how about somebody who is not leaving office right now?
SACHS: Somebody that actually has an ongoing political career. I would like, of course, to see Senator Schumer, who is the leader of the opposition right now, every day speaking and every day being covered by the media, being heard as well. But I would like Congress institutionally to say that we are the ones that decide on whether war or not under the U.S. Constitution. So the kinds of tweets that Trump is making about Iran, which are very serious, by the way, because they really could lead to a shooting war soon -- this is not beyond imagination at all. Where is Congress saying that the president does not have the authority to lead us in to war? It's shocking to me. And it is equally dismaying that we don't even seem to have the political instincts right now. And again, this is not whether one is in favor of against particular policies. It is whether one believes in the rule of law.
SACHS: Is it enough to wave the flag national security and then you can disrupt anything you want?
BALDWIN: Yes. We don't know. Continue to raise your voice. Others are as well.
Jeffrey Sachs, thank you so much.
SACHS: Thank you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: I urge everyone to read his opinion piece at CNN.com/opinion.
Thank you, sir.
The president, king of distractions when he finds himself under pressure from culture wars to blame games. We'll look at the pattern.
And new dramatic video out of Los Angeles. Police chasing a suspect in the shootout at a Trader Joe's. We are now learning the only victim killed was actually from a bullet from the police officer. The police chief's emotional reaction to that news, next.
[14:37:06] BALDWIN: Much has been said about the benefit and disservice of the president's relentless Twitter feed. But a year and a half into his term, a number of reporters are noticing a trend. Take a look at this week's all-caps menacing threat to Iran. CNN political analyst, Maggie Haberman, says this would be a strategy on behalf of this president to manipulate media coverage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it is unrelated to what is going on with Michael Cohen's case, his former lawyer, whose audio recordings of them talking as we reported on this on Friday. And I've been told mixed things about the president's reaction. I don't think he was pleased. I don't think this is a story that makes him comfortable. I think the collective mass of this is contributing to why he has been doing all-caps tweet about Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's talk more about the president's distraction techniques with Chris Cillizza, CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large.
Where do you want to start?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: OK. There's a lot I'm going to go quick. Let's start with coincidences, don't happen that much in politics. This is not a coincidence. Let's go through a couple of tried and true Donald Trump distraction techniques. Dates are important. September 23rd, 2017, this is his first tweet about NFL players kneeling. What else was happening on September 23rd? September 21st, the special counsel asked for documents pertaining to the Trump presidency and the firing of James Comey as the FBI director. And John McCain decided he wasn't voting for the health care bill. Not a coincidence.
Let's go to the second one of the Trump distraction play book, launch a conspiracy theory. This is a very commonplace one that Donald Trump uses. OK. Let's go to the -- here's the tweet. Again, dates are important. March 4th, 2017, the Obama's wiretap. This is the idea he was surveilled. That's been proven false. OK. What else was happening around that time? Jeff Sessions met with the Russian envoy twice and he didn't disclose it in his confirmation hearings, March 1st. Jeff Sessions recuses himself from the Russian inquiry, which we know still bugs Donald Trump. That was March 2nd. This is March 4th. Remember, coincidences don't happen.
Number three, strategy three, "what aboutism?" This is a common technique used by the Russians to try to justify their actions as relates to the U.S. Here's a few. This is him saying, "If Obamacare is so great, why did they spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to hype it." Obamacare. "The Clinton campaign, there was never a special counsel appointed." And this is May 18, 2017. We don't have examples of the headlines because it happens so much. His Twitter feed is a "what aboutism" and trolling sweepstakes. Constantly happening. Now, what is he distracting from? This is important, Brooke. First, 917 kids still separated from their parents. And it feels like a month ago, it was actually only nine days ago, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The only version of events, despite what Sarah Huckabee Sanders says, the only version is the Russian version of events. Last week, director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, said he hadn't even heard from Donald Trump about what happened. Two hours those guys met privately. We still have no window. That's what we need to focus on. That, the kids being separated. Those are what Donald Trump wants to distract this. He knows fighting on Cohen, Russia, immigration issue, bad for him. Fighting on things like the deep state and security clearances, and fighting on Iran, good for him.
Back to you -- Brooke?
[14:40:54] BALDWIN: It's stunning. We lived through it. We've covered it for the last year and a half. We've taken it piece by piece. For you to throw it up there, it's just -- it's a thing.
CILLIZZA: Well, it suggests a pattern.
BALDWIN: Yes, pattern, sure.
CILLIZZA: I don't think you can look at that and say, huh, one time maybe. Four times where the timing is that close? It's not on accident.
BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza, thank you very much for that.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: And now it's the question so many are asking, is the president compromised by the Russians. There's a growing spotlight on the president's past financial dealings. So let's explore that.
But first, a look at how one Hollywood actress hopes to make a difference for kids growing up in poverty. Here is today's "IMPACT YOUR WORLD."
JENNIFER GARNER, ACTRESS: I grew up as I have often told people one generation and one holler removed from poverty.
BALDWIN (voice-over): For more than a decade, Jennifer Garner has stood up for America's poorest kids as a save the children ambassador.
GARNER: The playing field for kids in America is not equal.
MARK SHRIVER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, SAVE THE CHILDREN: We've been working in primarily rural America for the last 75, 85 years focusing on education, making sure kids are entering kindergarten ready to learn. We have a home visiting program working with the parents in the home to make sure they're stimulating their kids socially, emotionally.
BALDWIN: Save the Children also offers a two-week intensive program for students heading to kindergarten, like Alaina, who has autism.
HEATHER FINCHER, PARENT: Some of the stuff she's learned over the past year has really blown my mind. I wish you could have met her at the beginning of last year.
SHRIVER: We run in school, after school, and summer literacy programs that have a physical activity and nutrition component as well.
BALDWIN: Jessica Babb's son, Levi, entered the program four years ago.
JESSICA BABB, PARENT: He just took off the moment he sat at the desk. He has a desire for reading that I love and admire about him.
GARNER: We talk about how kids are the future. We're not doing anything about it. We have to be aggressively out there helping them.
[14:47:33] BALDWIN: President Trump's threat, where he seemed to have caps lock on, against Iran on Twitter stands in stark contrast to his low-energy pushback of Russia. Russia is right now, right now, attacking American elections, and this president has yet to level any vitriol against Vladimir Putin. The lack of attack is bolstering beliefs Putin has a hold on the president not from the campaign but through Trump's finances.
Investigative Journalist Adam Davidson writes this in "The New Yorker, quote, "In the years before he became a political figure, Trump acted with impunity, conducting mineral diligence and working with people who few American business people would consider fit partners. During that period, he may have felt protected by the fact that U.S. law enforcement officials rarely investigate or prosecute Americans who engage in financial crimes overseas."
With me now, the author of "The Making of Donald Trump." He is David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and editor of D.C.report.org. He's been reporting on Trump's financial for almost 30 years.
David, you are the go-to guy on this. Remind everyone how much foreign money just exists in Trump world.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, D.C.REPORT.ORG & AUTHOR: Lots of it. We don't know exactly. We know the Russians have been courting Donald, spending money on him and putting money in his pocket for more than 30 years. Donald's son, one of his sons has said they were getting lots of money from Russians. And he'd been deeply involved with Russian gangsters in deals in New York, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Toronto, and other places.
BALDWIN: All right. So that said, there's been all this chatter since Helsinki and since this invite to have Putin come to the White House, people are wondering why would he do that? Is the president compromised. Adam Davidson wrote, "Trump fears there is kompromat out there, maybe a lot of it, but he doesn't know what it is, who has it or what might set them off."
David, do you think Trump is compromised or do you think the issue is he thinks or knows there's some sort of kompromat out there but he doesn't know what it is.
[14:49:53] JOHNSTON: He believes in his own mind he's better than the rest of us, and, of course, he should be president, he should be in charge for life, as he himself has said. But Donald also knows that his tax returns and his early audited are a real problem. I began at D.C. Report six weeks ago calling for a criminal examination of Donald Trump's tax returns. He's had two income tax fraud trials he lost. He went to extraordinary lengths to hide books and records from an audit by the city of New York. There are many other examples I've written about over the last 30 years.
And Russian money is very important to Donald's position and explains why, when banks wouldn't loan him money, and he had no credit, he was flush with cash through all sorts of deals, as well as being bailed out a few years ago by Dmitry Rybolovlev, one of the Russian oligarchs, who paid two to three times for the value a mansion Trump had that was a dog on the market.
BALDWIN: Do you think this president is compromised financially, and do you think that's the reason we have yet to see his tax returns?
JOHNSTON: Well, we're never going to see Donald's tax returns unless Governor Andrew Cuomo is serious about his baby step claim that, if asked, he'll authorize a criminal investigation. But, yes, financial level, a thorough audit and examination of the books and records is going to show deep ties between Donald Trump, Russian oligarchs, Russian gangsters. And when I say Russian, I mean Russian-speaking peoples. And it explains why Donald would attack the pope but will not say a critical word about Vladimir Putin.
BALDWIN: David Cay Johnston, thank you.
JOHNSTON: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Here are words for you: Disgusted. Insulted. That is how some survivors of the Las Vegas massacre describing a lawsuit by MGM, suing survivors to protect itself from lawsuits. We'll talk to a survivor shot three times about what she thinks, next.
[14:56:31] BALDWIN: Public outrage and disgust is exploding over a lawsuit filed in last year's Las Vegas shooting massacre. MGM, the owner of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where the shooting happened, is countersuing the families of those who were killed and the survivors who were injured. MGM claims it doesn't want any money but it needs legal protection from the courts to keep survivors from suing the hotel. MGM says it's not responsible for what happened based upon a post-9/11 law. That law would protect this hotel on the grounds that it hired a security firm approved by the Department of Homeland Security.
The victims' attorney called the lawsuit un-American. And survivors said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON MCMILLAN, LAS VEGAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Hearing that I'm now being sued? It's not only insulting. It's -- it enrages me to think that this company can just try to skip out on their responsibilities and their liability for what happened is -- and to blame the victims, to say it's anyone else's fault other than their own is absurd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's talk to Jasara Peguijo (ph), a survivor who was shot three times.
Jasara, thank you so much for being with me.
And before we get into your reaction to this suit, I want you to take me back to that night. You were there with your sister. Remind me what happened to you.
JASARA PEQUIJO (ph), LAS VEGAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, we were enjoying a country concert, dancing and singing, and I had my arms up, and shortly after one of the songs, I heard what I thought were fireworks. Kind of looked around at each other, and I realized that I had just been hit in my arm, and I had blood coming out of my arm, and the concert was still going on, and next thing you know I was hit again, and then we went to the ground and I was hit again, a third time in my side. And we just laid on the ground until we felt like it was safe to get up. BALDWIN: You survived this. And you are now one of the thousand or
so names in this lawsuit that is claiming that MGM is not liable for the attack. Again, they say they don't want money. They're saying they're not liable. Did you feel like you were safe? What's your reaction to being named?
PEGUIJO (ph) I was mad. We weren't safe at that concert. And it is 100 percent their responsibility. And the fact that they're just going to put it on us saying that I remained in the line of fire is just crazy. It's really disheartening.
BALDWIN: Why do you think -- they're saying they're not responsible. Why do you think this hotel and they hired the security company to protect this festival? They're saying that they're not responsible.
PEGUIJO (ph) Well, I can only -- the only way I can kind of put it together in my head is, if you throw a party, you're responsible for your guests. You're responsible for anything that happens. Anything that was -
[14:59:12] BALDWIN: Oh, we lost her. That's what happens --