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NYT Investigation: Trump Helped His Parents Evade Taxes; First Trailer For Dick Cheney Biopic "Vice" Released; Outside Groups Spent $18.5 Million on Kavanaugh Ads. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 3, 2018 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: They're waiting as we all are to see what the FBI hands them presumably in the next 24 hours.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And it's worth nothing that the president is not actively engaged in trying to -- with these votes bring them along, talk to them. He is not -- they are not using him for that all because he is not someone who has a lot of influence with these three. So, they are trying to keep some distance from this.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: And like in so many other situations we've seen in the past, there are Republicans out there who badly want to do right by their party and be supportive of the president. But I think this is just another example of a moment where the president simply makes that very, very difficult for them instead of making it easier.

KING: But, for most of the Republican Party, the president wants to make this tribal. For those three, Flake is retiring, Collins and Murkowski are more independent. It's a much harder sell there. We'll keep an eye on this. Still waiting to learn from the FBI when they will have some to say.

When we come back, we touch down a bit. Read the New York Times today. Listen to Donald Trump over the years say how he made his fortune. Somebody is not telling the truth.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

President Trump today being accused of, quote, outright fraud. That's in the pages of his favorite newspaper, the New York Times. The Times publishing a stunning, wide reaching investigation into the president's father, Fred Trump's real estate empire complete with photos, documents, detailed records.

The Times alleges that young Donald Trump helped his parents dodge taxes back in the 1990s, hiding millions of dollars in gifts. The paper also says he received the present day equivalent of more than $400 million from the empire starting when he was a toddler.

The president tweeting today criticizing the Times for publishing a, quote, very old, boring, an often told hit piece. That's the president's perspective. But the Times account, if you haven't you need to read it, it is meticulously sourced with business, real estate and tax records.

[12:35:04:] Read it, look at the documents, then you will laugh when you remember all this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It has not been easy for me. And, you know, I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a $1 million. I came into Manhattan and I had to pay him back and I had to pay him back with interest.

But then I have all these people writing books about I got this, I got that. I got peanuts.

I started off with $1 million and now I'm worth over $10 billion. Before my father died, he said everything Donald touches turns to gold. It is absolutely -- he was so proud of me. But I borrowed very little money from my father.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Everything turns to gold that his father funneled into his account apparently.

KING: Look, God bless Fred Trump and his support although (INAUDIBLE) saying God bless someone who's accusing the New York Times of cheating repeatedly on taxes. But on the idea that the president was supported generously by his father, there's nothing wrong with that. The president has created this myth, I got peanuts. Peanuts.

If you do the adjustments for inflation, $400 million, you don't think that's peanuts?

LUCEY: Certainly more than a million.

KING: Yes. It's more than a million. If you read the story, it also says that his father repeatedly stepped in to bail him out when he was younger. And all the things that he touches turns to gold, a lot of his early enterprises failed and failed miserably. And his father stepped in to help him out.

This is what gets under his skin. He does not like to be daddy's boy.

LUCEY: That's right. I mean, he -- this is a classic sort of were you born on Thursday, did you hit a triple situation. And the president has long held that he is self-made, there have been books and T.V. shows and it is part of the mythology about who he is and the persona that he sold at his rallies and during his campaign all along, that he was someone who made himself. And so this has to be cutting him today because he does not like anything to suggest who he was.

KING: And the question is does it matter. If you don't like Trump, you say I knew this all along. He's a fraud, it's a myth. He was, you know, born on third base, he didn't hit a triple.

If you like Donald Trump, you're like, there goes the New York Times beating him up because they don't like him because he's rich and successful. Does it matter?

MATTINGLY: So the preface, well, there's nothing that we can say that would do justice to the 13,000 word piece on this panel. Here is why it matters. Twofold.

One, this provides more ammunition should Democrats take over one or both chambers of Congress next year to try and go after his tax returns which they can through a procedural way actually try and get. So there's some of that there that's always been an issue for Democrats.

But I think more importantly, the idea of really good dedicated deep dive reporting with facts, with data, with very few off the record sources or on background sources. Just really doing the work and laying out in detail things that are true, demonstrably true. Look, tax evasion and tax avoidance, it's a very murky line. I think that's actually end of the story. I have no idea where that lands on this. But there is such value to laying out detail like this about anybody's life who's in a prominent position, let alone a president, let alone a president who refuses to release his own tax returns.

LEE: But I think the question of whether it's going to matter for the president's supporters and the really fierce supporters, that's an open-ended question. You know, you just think back to the 2016 Trump rallies and talking to the voters who were very fiercely behind him, they didn't always necessarily care about the details. They had this image of him that they had known for a while for a number of years by watching the "Apprentice" and they had decided that he was a very shrewd and very skillful businessman who knew what do about money in a way that they felt like people in Washington, D.C. didn't.

I don't know that they're necessarily going to appreciate the 13,000 words that are in this story and necessarily change their minds of this image that they have of the president is not actually accurate --

MATTINGLY: But that's not necessarily the metric, right? Like changing the minds of die hard -- the president's die hard supporters shouldn't dictate kind of whether or not you do a story or whether or not --

KING: Oh, no. The story is incredibly well done and again, in part because the president raises questions you say that doesn't add up, when you do the investigative reporting and is he right, is he wrong. Well, just read the story. Look at the signatures of Fred Trump on the checks and in the real state documents.

To your point about the Democrats, if they take back the House, there's no question. This is Elijah Cummings who would be the chairman of the Oversight Committee if the Democrats take back the House. Are we going to be the nightmare? It's in the eyes of the beholder. That's what the Democratic congressman from Maryland says. And that's a bit of a warning shot tongue and cheek at the White House. But if the Democrats take power, you can be sure they're going to use their subpoena power and their investigative power.

My other question though, if this is a past practice and it's laid out in such meticulous amazing riveting detail in this account, we know Robert Mueller has looked into things about the Trump Organization and it's brought in financial crimes expert people. We know they handed off to the southern district of New York a case in which the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization and the president's long- time personal attorney, Michael Cohen are cooperating. The question is, if pass its prologue, are there people who are looking at this and saying, OK, this is the '90s when Fred Trump was in failing health and the family was trying to decide how to handle the fortune. What about after that?

[12:40:00] Did this practice continue? Are there active investigations of that?

MICHAEL WARREN, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: This is what I'm interested in. Looking at the story like this, it's very well recorded. But it's clear they just sourced for the Times, there are multiple sources in the Trump Organization.

KING: Right.

WARREN: So somebody is out there talking and sort of opening up the books and showing the New York Times all of this. Weisselberg is the long time accountant for the Trump Organization, is somebody who's not cooperating with the feds. This could be problematic for Trump now and in a more recent as you point out, John, more recent decades of his activity.

KING: You don't think that would get under his skin at all?

WARREN: Oh, maybe a little bit.

KING: Up next, you have one of this, expect an important phone call 2:18 today Eastern Time from your government.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Topping our political radar today, do not be alarmed when your cell phone buzzes at 2:18 Eastern Time today with a presidential alert. It's the first nationwide test of a system built by the federal government and cell phone care years designed to warn us about emergencies such as a terror attack or some other disaster. It's similar to the amber alerts and weather advisories, but this one goes to virtually every phone, radio and T.V. and you won't be able to turn it off.

Things got even testier in the Florida Senate race when the two candidates squared off in a big debate last night. Republican Governor Rick Scott describing Democrat Senator Bill Nelson as a failure. The incumbent called Scott a liar. The two clashed on immigration, gun control, healthcare, and the president's role during the crisis in Puerto Rico.

And judging from this photo on the left, actor Christian Bale certainly studied the posture and the mannerisms of the former vice president he plays in an upcoming movie. The first trailer for Dick Cheney biography "Vice" has just been released. The film features Steve Carell in the role of Donald Trump. Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney. Sam Rockwell as President George W. Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIAN BALE AS DICK CHENEY, "VICE": Vice presidency is a mostly symbolic job. However, if we came to a different understanding, I can handle the more mundane jobs.

SAM ROCKWELL AS GEORGE W. BUSH, "VICE": So we're going to do this thing or what, is this happening?

BALE: I believe we can make this work.

ROCKWELL: Hot damn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: Look, Christian Bale has already played a shadowy figure who has to protect citizens with manners that many might deem, you know, uncivil. But -- so the perfect -- right, right.

[12:45:07] It was in a bat suit but it's basically the same role. So I really think this is not much of a stretch for --

KING: Bat cave undisclosed location.

WARREN: Exactly.

KING: Here we go.

MATTINGLY: You covered him, tell me, what -- I want your opinion on this, based on your initial read, is this going to be accurate, entertaining and do you think --

KING: Well, I don't know. I have to see the movie to see whether it's accurate, but in terms of the body language and the mannerisms of Cheney, that little clip right there was damn on good. It's W I'm a little less skeptical. A little more skeptical on the W part there.

But there's no question, just the way -- look, there was -- Dick Cheney was the sphinx, right? He was toughest interview in town. If he wanted to tell you something, he would. If he didn't want to tell you something, he wouldn't no matter what you had at your disposal.

LUCEY: Look, there are so many political movies coming out. This, the Gary Hart movie, there's no relief like its constant.

KING: You wanted relief?

LUCEY: Home, in the theatres. No break. MATTINGLY: I'm sorry, what town do you think you're in? What business did you get into?

LUCEY: I want to go see another Tom Cruise movie.

MATTINGLY: OK, that's great.

KING: Good for you.

When we come back, the massive amount of T.V. ad spending in the high stakes Supreme Court battle and guess what, hitting the air just 34 days until you vote.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:50:26] KING: Live pictures of the White House briefing room. Yes, it still exists. In just moments, the press secretary is set to hold what's become too much of a rarity, an actual live press briefing. We also expect the National Security Adviser John Bolton to be there to address reporters. We'll bring you that to live when it happens a few minutes from now.

In the meantime, here's a number to think about, $18.5 million. That's the total amount of money spent on T.V. ads targeting the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court fight. That since July.

That number covers spending by both pro and anti-Kavanaugh groups, and it shows just how high stakes and expensive the confirmation battle has become for both sides. According to Kantar Media which track T.V. ads spending across the country, significantly more spending in support of Kavanaugh than against him. One of the biggest groups in Kavanaugh's corner, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network responsible for ads like these.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A smear campaign, character assassination, delay by personal attack. Disgusting accusations. Unproven. Credited. Kavanaugh denies them. Don't let a last minute smear campaign negate a lifetime of excellence.

The accusations against Brett Kavanaugh are a smear. It never happened. Confirm Kavanaugh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Not a surprise, and many if not most of these ads targeted the red state Democrats for example for those who are pushing in favor of Kavanaugh. But a lot of this isn't it a waste of money given -- I understand these groups need to show they're in the fight and they need to raise more money by showing they're in the fight. But a lot of these ads are being sent when most of these senators have already made up their mind.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And I think when you're targeting people like Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski or Joe Manchin or Heidi Heitkamp on the other side of things, they're used to it. I've spoken to Senator Collins about this earlier in the process making clear like this -- the dollars were going to become in a millions, the activists are going to be coming by the tens of dozens, all of that I think and her point is like I've been through you this in healthcare, I went through it on tax, that's not how I make up my mind.

Now, there are ways to reach these senators, often it's a lot more with honey than vinegar which makes the attack adds a little bit less successful. But yes, I think to some degree they just cancel each other out because they're banging heads against one another while these senators are sitting quietly in their offices watching hearings or trying to go through judicial decisions.

LUCEY: I think that one thing that's been really impactful I think has been not necessarily ads, but the real people that we've seen emerge in the Capitol. Obviously Jeff Flake was very moved by these two women that cornered him on the elevator and spoke with their experiences.

So I think those kinds of appeals -- I don't know if they have impacted more, but those are really had -- you know, sort of captured some of those moments.

MATTINGLY: That's what mattered on healthcare on repeal and replace. That's what mattered to Collins and Murkowski not the advertising, not the (INAUDIBLE) beating. It was the individuals, their constituents.

KING: And Judicial Crisis Network is from the right if you will, conservative supporters. This ad from the left has generated a little controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've seen this before. Denials from powerful men.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

BILL COSBY: I've never seen anything like this.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation against me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Integrity matters and we cannot have any doubt. Senator Gardner, oppose the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That is from the American Civil Liberties Union which we all view as left of center. But has a tradition of saying you're innocent until proven guilty, of defending some pretty nefarious characters overtime saying they deserve a fair trial, they're innocent until proven guilty. They have decided that Brett Kavanaugh is guilty.

WARREN: Yes. And on much less than the other men who were in that ad, I mean, Bill Cosby I think is the most obvious one. There are dozens scores of women who came out with much more credible allegations. That seems to be a little bit -- they sort of got out of their skis. Although I guess this is for all the marbles which is why all of these political groups are spending so much money because for better or worse, the courts are what matter now in our politics.

KING: Well, and some groups try to hide behind this thing that we're non-partisan. That answers your question if you're trying to -- I'm sorry, but that answers your question right there whether you're in favor or opposed, a lot of these groups say we're just good government, good civic people, we don't take sides. That's taking sides.

Deb Fischer to your point, the senator from Nebraska. "I understand there are some ads in Nebraska now about me being targeted by the ACLU as a possible swing vote here on Judge Kavanaugh. I made my position very clear from the beginning. I support Judge Kavanaugh, I'm a yes for Judge Kavanaugh." Essentially she's saying you're wasting your money.

We're going to take a quick break. We're waiting for a White House briefing at the White House. It's going to happen in any moment. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:59:42] KING: We close with something it's been a while since we've seen. Live pictures here of the White House briefing room. Today's briefing, the first in more than three weeks. September 10th was the last time and that was the only press briefing of the entire month.

The press secretary Sarah Sanders says while the president often speaks to reporters on our briefings aren't is necessary as in the past. She won't be the only one at today's briefing, the National Security Adviser John Bolton will make a statement as well. Stay tune for us for that.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS today. Have a great afternoon. Wolf starts right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer.