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"New York Times" Says Trump Family Set Up Sham Business to Hide Millions from Tax Collectors; Donald Trump Junior Hits Campaign Trail for Ted Cruz; The Rise and Fall of The Supreme Court's Most Controversial Nominees; Kamala Harris Comments on Donald Trump's Attacks on Christine Ford. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired October 3, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] GWENDA BLAIR, AUTHOR, "THE TRUMPS: THREE GENERATIONS OF BUILDERS AND A PRESIDENT": And before that by being just not a contender for being the heir apparent to Fred senior, Donald's father. He was not ambitious in the same way, was not belligerent, not aggressive, was none of the things that Fred was looking for in an heir and Donald was. So that was step one. And then the sisters, I spoke to Donald's older sister, Maryanne, and she was helpful. She's the oldest of the five children. She accepted the idea. It was the 1950s and 60s, I understand that, but she and her sister didn't -- you know, went along with the idea that only boys were even contenders to inherit the business. She instead became a Federal Judge. No slouch. She became a Judge. The younger brother worked with Donald until he got out of the way to help facilitate this massive transfer of wealth and avoiding any kind of taxes.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You have covered him for so many years. What was the most surprising revelation from this whole "Times" investigation for you?
BLAIR: I have to say that the scale really even staggered me, and I thought I had seen everything.
BALDWIN: Which scale? The scale of money that he received, or the scale to which they were duplicitous according to the "times"? Which scale?
BLAIR: The amount he received was massive, but really the more -- the thing that I really went like, wow, was how coordinated it was, how long it took to roll this out. This wasn't an overnight thing. This was decades in the making. And I think one of the elements in that, I was thinking about that, I've been thinking about this nonstop as you can imagine, but one of the elements might have been that Fred's father died when Fred was 12, and although he had made some money, there was a small nest egg for Fred and his two siblings and his widowed mother to go ahead on, his father was really out of the pick really early on. And then Fred really early really in his career, in the 50s when his kids were young, he wanted to provide for them. And way past the normal notion of providing, he really wanted to provide for them and began enacting this slow-motion, long-term, stealth operation to transfer his wealth. BALDWIN: Provided he did, just the money Trump made as a boy in the
single digits, right. But then we also learned through this report that Trump's father bailed him out a number of times. I'm just wondering, Gwenda, last question, if his father bailed him out as much as he did, who else might have bailed out Donald Trump?
BLAIR: I'm not sure but his father was there.
BALDWIN: Foreign money? Russian oligarchs. That's what David was saying last hour.
BLAIR: Of course. As Donald went along, after the 80s, after the huge spending spree, the yacht, the football team, the plaza, after building that Trump brand, at the end of that he was broke and went through, as we know, a number of corporate bankruptcies and the usual financial institutions wouldn't touch him and he began turning to shadowy money from eastern Europe, Russian oligarchs and bad actors. That certainly supplemented things. Dad died in 1999. That's when those oligarchs and bad actors and stuff stepped up big time. Not just starting then but that's when that really wheeled in to being where the financing was going to come from.
BALDWIN: Her book is "The Trumps, Three Generations of Builders and a President." Thank you.
BLAIR: My pleasure.
BALDWIN: Coming up, lessons from the past as the battle over Brett Kavanaugh nomination rages on. We're looking at the most contentious Supreme Court nominations in history and how they ultimately turned out.
[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: The Trumps, in particular President Trump, have said many things about Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, there was a long list of jabs. In case you have forgotten, here's a refresher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Lying Ted Cruz. The bible held high.
You ever see a guy lie like this guy?
I heard Cruz say this "I want to debate Donald Trump. Donald Trump is afraid to debate me," With the hand. So dramatic.
I watch Ted Cruz. His home is not Florida, it's Texas. It may be Canada. But to the best of my knowledge it is Texas.
[15:40:00] You are all talk and no action. What I see up here. First of all, this guy is a joke artist and this guy's a liar.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: That family feud may have just cooled down because Donald Trump Jr. is lending a hand to Senator Cruz's reelection campaign. Trump will stump for Cruz in Texas as he is facing a tough reelection bid. Let's go to Ed Lavandera who is standing by one of tonight's campaign stops there in Wichita Falls. Ed, I guess all is forgotten.
ED LAVENDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A fascinating turn this Texas Senate race here has been taking. Over the course of the next few weeks, we'll really see this relationship between Ted Cruz and the Trump family. As you documented, the history between Ted Cruz and the Trumps during that Presidential race was dramatic. It's amazing how much senator Ted Cruz has decided to embrace the Trumps in this election as he finds himself in what many people believe is a race that is much closer than anyone expected, as Ted Cruz is facing El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke. The most recent polls had Cruz up by 9 points. He has campaigned over the last few weeks and months here in Texas, and the Cruz strategy has been to embrace the Trump success, try to separate himself from what he calls the distractions of the Trump administration and try to paint Beto O'Rourke as a radical leftist who is incredibly dangerous. You've seen senator Ted Cruz fully embrace the Trump family. In fact, President Trump has said he plans to campaign for Ted Cruz here in Texas at some point this month, although that was several weeks ago and we haven't heard any formalized plans as to when that will happen. This is the first major campaign stop when you see Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. Here about to take the stage here in Wichita Falls here this afternoon.
BALDWIN: Ed, thank you in Texas for us. Meantime the controversial Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh will go down certainly in the annals of American history but his confirmation process is not the first high-stakes politically contentious fight. Think back to Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas and certainly there are others. Here with a look back is Joan Biskupic, CNN Supreme Court analyst. Joan, what do you have?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Brooke, it was 50 years ago just this year that we had even a bigger battle that changed not only the course of a justice's life but the course of describe. Earl Warren announced he was going to retire, summer of 1968, Lyndon B. Johnson is President and he decides he wants to elevate Abe Fortas who at this point is an associate justice. He nominates him for the chief justiceship. And Democrats control the Senate. But Southern Democrats who are more conservative band with Republican to filibuster Abe Fortas. He has to withdraw the nomination for Chief Justice and within a year has to step down altogether because of some allegations of financial irregularities that come up.
LBJ loses the chief justiceship. Richard Nixon comes in and he appoints Warren Berger. And as I say the course of history was changed that time in 1968.
Then we flash forward to 1987, Robert Bork. The Senate had just flipped to Democratic majority in the 1986 elections. So, Democrats control. Robert Bork had a very, very deep record of extreme conservatism and Democrats were able to oppose him. He ends up being defeated on a 58-42 vote. Coincidentally, he was sitting on the D.C. circuit at the time, the circuit where Brett Kavanaugh now sits. Robert Bork goes back to the D.C. circuit but within a year he decides I don't even want to be a Judge anymore. He steps down so he can talk about liberal activism and the process.
Then up to 1991 to a comparison that we've been making a lot during this current ordeal, Clarence Thomas, he goes through one set of Senate hearings, and then suddenly we find out about Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment. There's a second set of hearings. He ends up being confirmed on a very close vote, 52-48. But just to let you know what's so different from 1991 to now, 11 Democrats switch over and vote for this Republican appointee. So, we weren't as polarized then. Then we go to Harriet Miers, a short-lived incident in 2005.
[15:45:00] She's nominated very early in October of that year for the Sandra Day O'Connor seat. She had been a White House counsel, good friend of George W. Bush's and people cried cronyism just as they did during Abe Fortas. And who comes back and calls her a disaster on every level, Robert Bork. He says she's not competent and not conservative enough. She pulls out in a matter of weeks. That seat goes to Samuel Alito. Again, history has changed he's much more conservative than Sandra O'Connor.
And then ones that are really familiar to so many viewers, after Antonin Scalia dies in 2016, President Obama names Merrick Garland. Of course, Mitch McConnell had warned within an hour of Scalia's death being announced that whoever President Obama names will not get any votes and that seat stays vacant until President Trump comes in, brings us all the way up to Brett Kavanaugh. We'll have to see just how history repeats itself, Brooke.
BALDWIN: We should know soon enough, Joan. Thank you so much for that look into the past of the Supreme Court. Coming up, she's one of the most outspoken critics of Brett Kavanaugh. Now Kamala Harris is speaking out and not mincing words after the President mocked his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford during a rally last night.
[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Senator Kamala Harris, California, Democrat, member of the Senate Judiciary committee who is now considering Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the highest court in the land. She is expressing shock at President Trump for mocking the Kavanaugh accuser, Christine Blasey Ford during a rally last night. Here is Senator Harris moments ago at the Atlantic Festival in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D), CALIFORNIA: Urging a crowd to laugh at her. Yes. I can't think of anything more -- inappropriate is not descriptive enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
HARRIS: It's mean. It's mean.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seriously.
HARRIS: And it is completely without any level of empathy about what her experience was. He clearly watched her testimony. So, what was the purpose of saying that, and doing that? Did it need to be done? Of course not. But beyond that it didn't need to be done, doing it was for what purpose? I can't understand it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HARRIS: And I'm embarrassed that the President of the United States would do that to this woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We bring in CNN political analyst and "New York Times" reporter Julie Hirschfield Davis. Senator Harris is one of four women, Democrats, of course, on this committee. Maybe Presidential ambitions. Has really emerged as quite vocal, critical of President Trump. What do you make of her role in all of this?
JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND "NEW YORK TIMES" REPORTER: Well, as you say, she's been quite vocal in criticizing the President and in questioning Judge Kavanaugh, frankly, even before these allegations came to light. She was one of the more aggressive questioners of him and certainly since the accusations have surfaced and during that extraordinary hearing we saw Thursday, she was quite outspoken about her view of the seriousness of these allegations and what Judge Kavanaugh had to answer for. It's worth noting, and I think there are a lot of people at the White House who feel this way, that President Trump didn't have to go after her in this way and he made it easier for Democrats like Kamala Harris to criticize him and, in fact, made the decision that Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins face on whether or not to go forward with this confirmation probably more difficult by making those comments.
The White House has been pushing back, saying he was stating the facts. But it's clear given the testimony that Dr. Blasey gave last week that she could never forgot that uproarious laughter by, she alleges, Judge Kavanaugh, when he was assaulting her, that the idea of egging a crowd on to laugh at her was a tough thing and people who saw that recoiled from it.
BALDWIN: Let me play one more clip, the President in the same breath of mocking Dr. Ford. He said this of not really even knowing Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't even know him, folks. I don't even know him. I met him for the first time a few weeks ago. It's not like oh, gee, I want to protect my friend
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIS: The President has a history of discrediting former aides in trouble, everyone from Paul Manafort, George Padopoulos and has, indeed, dismissed his role in the campaign.
BALDWIN: So, Julie Hirschfield Davis, thank you for that.
First Lady on her first trip to Ghana, infamous door of no return where millions of slaves passed through before they were shipped out to the Americas.
First Lady Melania Trump expanded her presence with a solo trip to Africa. Her first major trip without her husband since moving into the White House and her first trip to Africa. First lady in Ghana, visiting an outpost for the slave trade. Here is Melania Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: It is a very special place. I will never forget. Incredible experience and the stories that I heard from the gentleman is really, really touching. And the dungeons that I saw, it's really something that people should see and experience. What happened so many years ago, it's really a tragedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The first lady is set to visit Malawi, Kenya and Egypt later this week and, of course, people are wondering, my goodness, why go now? What interesting timing, as everything is brewing in Washington, to leave the country. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts now.