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Biden, Sanders Lead Democrats in Iowa Poll; Trump Asks Congress for New Wall Funds; Assault on Last ISIS Enclave in Syria; Boeing 737 Crashes in East Aftica, No Survivors; Young Democratic Presidential Hopefuls; Former Spa Owner on Alleged Trump Access; Elie Honig Answers Cross-Exam Questions on Manafort; Elizabeth Warren's Proposal Regarding Tech Giants. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 10, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: It's 5:00 eastern, 2:00 in the afternoon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York and you are live in the "CNN Newsroom." Let me take you to the south on this Sunday for the second straight day the center of the Democratic universe is in Austin, Texas, where the size and diversity of the party's presidential field is on full display at the South by Southwest Festival.
CNN political senior analyst, Mark Preston, is in Austin, where three of those hopefuls will soon take part in CNN's town halls tonight. And here in New York with me is Patrick Healy, politics editor for "The New York Times." Mark, you have heard from a number of the 2020 candidates there this weekend. Who's generating the most buzz?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAIL ANALYST: Well, I think the most news is no news that has come out of South by Southwest so far this weekend, Ana, and that is Beto O'Rourke. Beto O'Rourke, who appeared at a screening of a documentary that chronicled his run for the U.S. Senate showed up, appeared on stage.
A lot of people thought that they would hear him say that I've decided to run for president. He did not say that. He was very coy about it but at the same time that he was on stage, his campaign was sending out an e-mail, a list-building e-mail. So, that is where we are as we come into this evening.
As you said there are three candidates that we're going to hear from tonight, Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney and Peter Buttigieg. These are three young candidates, these are three folks who are all trying to cut a path right now in this battle for the Democratic nomination.
They all bring something a little bit different and they are all unique in their own ways. Tulsi Gabbard served overseas in a war zone, as did Pete Buttigieg. You also have John Delaney. He was once one of the wealthiest members of Congress. More of a modern (ph), a very successful businessman. So we'll hear from them tonight starting at 7:00 eastern. It will be an interesting conversation.
CABRERA: And take a look at the brand new poll we have this weekend out of Iowa. Only a couple of candidates right now in the double digits there, Biden and Senator Sanders followed by Warren, Harris, O'Rourke, Booker, and Klobuchar. Patrick, based on what we are seeing in this poll and some of the underlying numbers that came out, who should be the most excited and who should be the most concerned?
PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. It's very interesting for Bernie Sanders particularly because Bernie sanders is the one second in that poll, very close to Joe Biden, but he also lines up in terms of the issues that people in Iowa say they want to vote on, Medicare for all, green new deal, sort of an aggressive approach to raising taxes on wealthy Americans.
Those are the issues that are kind of aligned with what Bernie Sanders is talking the most about right now. Joe Biden as we know is thinking about the race as "The Times" has reported he's pretty committed to getting in --
CABRERA: 95 percent there, that is what you guys are reporting.
HEALY: Ninety-five percent to getting in, but as we know, Joe Biden would be occupying more of the moderate lane here being sort of the voice that comes in and says, you know, we need to work within our means financially and that raising taxes, for instance, on the wealthy, you know, could be a hard sell with the Republican-controlled Senate.
So, I think you're seeing some good news in that poll certainly for Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth Warren has crept up a little bit. Beto O'Rourke has come down a bit, but you're seeing a lot of -- certainly a lot of openness and opportunity there.
CABRERA: One thing that stood out to me, not as much of a political expert as you, Patrick or Mark, but it is, you know, we're dealing with the most diverse presidential field in modern political history, plus the increasing diversity among Democratic voters, which we've continued to say over and over again, but yet in Iowa that poll shows Joe Biden followed by Bernie Sanders, two older white men. Mark, is there a disconnect?
PRESTON: I don't think it's necessarily disconnect, but I do think that that Iowa poll really does give us a snapshot of this battle within the Democratic Party. We haven't seen it play out that much until we saw Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez, who when she ran, really put the whole idea of socialism on the table.
And that's an argument right now in the Democratic Party as Patrick was talking about raising taxes on the wealthy, about Medicare for all, that is where the liberal energy is right now. That is where Bernie Sanders is right now.
On the other side, you know, as Patrick was noting as well, you have Joe Biden, more of a pragmatist, more of somebody who likes to walk down the middle, who will cut a deal, certainly is liberal but somebody again, who is more pragmatic about things as opposed to aspirational. And that's going to be the big divide for Democrats when they're deciding who to nominate to challenge President Trump in 2020. CABRERA: Patrick, this past week could have been dubbed the weak
presidential candidates announced they weren't running. You have at least four -- five if you include Hillary Clinton who told a local affiliate that she wasn't planning to run. We also heard from Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who is the latest to say I'm not running just this weekend giving a message to those who are running. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP))
[17:04:59] SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Our goal is to inform the narrative in the Democratic Party so that Democrats begin to talk more to workers and talk about the dignity of work. A number of candidates have already done that, have been talking about the dignity of work. I predict that the Democratic nominee is the one that talks to workers the best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: As Brown noted, several of the other candidates, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar among them have echoed his message. But I'm wondering who do you think so far is best channeling the average worker who may be struggling right now?
HEALY: That's a good question, Ana. I mean, the sort of the Sherrod Brown announcement was a surprise to a lot of Democrats because the thought was is that he, coming from Ohio, having dealt with sort of the economic depressions in parts of that state, the layoffs that now we are seeing at GM and sort of in the Youngstown area, that he would be able to sort of give voice to that in a way not a lot of other Democrats are.
I mean, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren with her big-tech policy, sort of talking about Amazon as a monopoly and sort of squeezing out, you know, more independent, smaller businesses. Amy Klobuchar certainly sort of talking about -- sort of the micro economies in the Midwest. They're talking about those issues but no one has broken through at least on the level that Sherrod Brown did.
CABRERA: That people feel they will only understand.
HEALY: No, exactly. And I think part of Brown's appeal was that he could go in and sort of credibly talk about issues like manufacturing and even trade, where he's a little bit closer to, frankly, President Trump than he is to some of the Democrats in a way that might resonate with people.
But you saw a lot of big names getting out of the race this week saying they aren't going to run, which sort of suggests, OK, there is again really opportunity for some people to lay claim to some of those messages.
CABRERA: All right, guys, stay with me. The president today, launching a fresh fight with Congress over his border wall, demanding billions of additional dollars to pay for it in his 2020 budget proposal. A White House official tells CNN, President Trump will ask lawmakers on Monday for at least $8.6 billion in new wall funds in that proposal.
And I want to remind you, that is roughly $3 billion more than Trump asked Congress for just a few months ago and lawmakers said no. The standoff led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history before the president eventually declared a national emergency to try to get the funds.
Let's bring in CNN's White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez. Boris, where exactly does the president plan to get this money? Where are the funds coming from? Is he having to rob Peter to pay Paul?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, some critics certainly feel that way. This budget calls for a 5 percent reduction in spending from all federal agencies except those tied to defense. The president actually wants a $35 billion increase in defense spending from last year and he specifically is asking for $8.6 billion in funding for his long-promised border wall.
It's actually the first time the Trump administration is asking for border wall funding for more than one source. He's asking for $5 billion from Customs and Border Protection and another $3.6 billion from military construction funds over at the Pentagon and asking for an additional $3.6 billion basically to reimburse money that he is spending through his national emergency declaration.
The president is essentially trying to ask Congress to approve of money that he went around them to spend. Democrats are not very happy about this. Leadership in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put out a joint statement.
They write this, "President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico. Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson."
So, both sides are gearing up for what will be a nasty fight, one that could potentially lead to a third government shutdown within the Trump presidency, Ana.
CABRERA: And Boris, the president this weekend also lashing out on a conservative, Republican commentator who recently criticized President Trump's lack of progress on the border wall.
SANCHEZ: Yes, that's right. Ann Coulter, somebody who was one of President Trump's earliest supporters. Here's what the president tweeted. He writes, "Wacky nut job Ann Coulter, who still hasn't figured out that despite all odds and an entire Democrat of far left radicals against me, not to mention certain Republicans who are sadly unwilling to fight, I am winning on the border.
Major sections of wall are being built and renovated with much more to follow shortly. Tens of thousands of illegals are being apprehended, captured at the border and not allowed into our country." He's sort of responding to things we have heard from Ann Coulter since the government shutdown when she called President Trump the biggest wimp to ever serve as president of the United States.
[17:10:03] She was critical of his state of the union address as well. Clearly she feels that he's not doing enough to get the border wall built, something that he promised when he first went down that escalator in June of 2015 and declared that he was running for president, Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Boris Sanchez in Palm Beach, Florida, thanks. Patrick and Mark are back with us. Now Patrick, is the president's 2020 budget proposal dead on arrival? What is the political strategy behind this move?
HEALY: It's really going to be tough, Ana. I mean, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi showed the Democrats in both the House the and Senate could remain very unified on no funding for the wall. And there's really no reason, no pressure to believe that they will move off of that. They came away from the shutdown experience. They're like the poll numbers were on their side and that they boxed the president ineffectively.
Now, the president is going to be ramming up his re-election campaign. He knows that the wall is probably the single biggest promise from 2016 that he has to show that he's either delivering on or going to continue to fight for. So, that is huge for him. I mean, he needs that to be front and center, even if he's tilting at windmills constantly.
CABRERA: And this number is huge, Mark, $8.6 billion in border wall money. Is this Ann Coulter getting under the president's skin here or could this have been what Senator Lamar Alexander, for example, had in mind when he said he and other Republicans were trying to guide the president or convince him to get the wall money some other way then the emergency declaration?
PRESTON: Well, given the options, Republicans would rather have the president offer a budget as we expect him to do as it's been leaked out where he asks for the money as opposed to basically going in and demanding the money and taking the money away under emergency declaration.
This is a political problem for some Republicans especially when they're running in 2020. The president has taken money using this emergency declaration in a very questionable way. Now, he's not going to get the money that he's asked for in this budget. Democrats control the House. They have enough votes in the Senate to try to stop stuff from going through.
The president is going to make this a campaign issue and really, the irony in all of this is that the president could either win re- election or he can lose re-election perhaps on the one issue of that being the wall. It has so generated so much anger, so much buzz on both sides, it has inflamed those who think that it should be built and it certainly has inflamed those who don't think it should be built. And where I sit rear right now in Austin, Texas, I can tell you that
most, if not all of the folks at this gathering, they don't want the wall built. So, it will be interesting as we see over the coming months how the president tries to play this out. But not only is he going to be fighting with Democrats, he'll be fighting with Republicans as well over the next year in this budget.
CABRERA: Boris mentioned how Democrats are already rejecting this. Go ahead Patrick.
HEALY: Yes. Just one other point, the -- just about Ann Coulter. I mean, Ann Coulter has been pretty consistent on the wall, reflecting a lot of energy and the base that has wanted some kind of very, you know, intense symbolic -- not just symbolic, but real effort -- physical structure.
CABRERA: Physical structure. Lock immigration.
HEALY: It's President Trump who has been flip-flopping on Ann Coulter. I mean, as we remember before the shutdown in December when Ann Coulter started going after him, he got very nervous about that. And he was at one point sort of looking to do a real deal with Democrats on border security.
And it was Ann Coulter and others certainly on the right and far right, who kind of sort of scared him back into submission. And now him coming out, I mean, that's the thing. When he goes to the nicknames as we all know by this point, someone has gotten under his skin and he's just going to, you know, that kind of cartoonish behavior. But, you know, in his mind, it works. But it does show her getting under his skin and him flip-flopping on that.
CABRERA: Patrick Healy, Mark Preston, good to have both of you. Thank you on the front lines.
The final assault on ISIS in Syria has begun and CNN is the only American T.V. network there. Plus, no survivor as a horrific plane crash claims the lives of every passenger and crew member on board. It's the second time in less than six months a brand-new Boeing aircraft has crashed just minutes into the flight. We have details, live in the "CNN Newsroom."
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CABRERA: We have breaking news now overseas, and you will see this only on CNN. Eastern Syria, mortars, artillery, explosion and nearly nonstop machine gun fire. This town, a small enclave is where the last concentration of ISIS fighters anywhere is now surrounded and were an offer for them to surrender is now off the table.
Military action to wipe them out has begun and CNN is the only American T.V. network in this area. Our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, has been watching this heavy, heavy fighting for a couple of hours from just a few hundred yards away.
Ben, there are explosions behind you and tracers crisscrossing the sky. About how many ISIS terrorists are believed to be staging this last stand? Are we really seeing the end of ISIS as a centralized organization?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, as far as the number of ISIS terrorists inside, we simply don't know. From the beginning of this battle going back more than a month, we have heard the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces making estimates that proved wrong time after time.
A month ago they were telling us that there were 1,500 civilians and 500 ISIS fighters. It turns out as far as the civilians go, it was about 20 times higher than that number and certainly with the fighters, several thousand have already surrendered.
[17:20:00] We've spoken with some of them but they said there were still many civilians and fighters left inside. So, it's not all together clear. Now, what's interesting is that after about four hours and 15 minutes of fairly heavy bombardment and some return fire, now I'll be able to stand up again, not sit on the ground, it's gone relatively quiet.
I just see one fire burning in the distance but there are planes overhead. What we've seen in the previous two operations where they were attempting to retake this pocket, the bombing went on all night long and well into the following day. So, it's hard to sit and understand what the situation inside that camp is.
Now, that encampment is only about half a square mile. What we saw, actually, we were just outside that encampment about an hour before the operation began and already there was an intense exchange of gunfire, a lot of incoming as well from the ISIS sniper position. And now I'm hearing more gunfire from the direction of the encampment. So, this is going to be a long night. Ana?
CABRERA: Dan, what kind of help are the Syrian forces getting or are they doing this alone?
WEDEMAN: No, they are definitely not alone, Ana. They're on the ground U.S., British and French Special Forces they are manning artillery positions, mortar positions. In addition to above in the sky, there are U.S., British and French planes flying overhead, bombing the hell out of that little, small sliver of land behind me.
So, they have quite a lot of help. They are the ones, obviously, the Syrian Democratic Forces are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to the combat, tent-to-tent combat at this point but they definitely have some serious help from the U.S.-led international coalition. Ana?
CABRERA: Ben, thank you, for putting yourself in such a vulnerable position to be able to report on this for us. We appreciate your work and your crew there on the ground. Stay safe.
As we stay overseas, enormous tragedy and so many unanswered questions after a commercial airliner crashed in Africa. One hundred and fifty- seven people are dead, everyone on board. The Boeing 737 belonging to Ethiopian Airlines crashed just a few minutes after takeoff. Passengers are from 35 different countries. They're all among those killed from all over Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States.
Richard Quest joins us now from London. He's our aviation correspondent. Richard, it's far too early to know what caused this crash. It's not even been a full day since it happened, but from what we know so far, this airplane was a Boeing 737 Max 8. It's brand new. The airline CEO says there were no technical red flags ahead of time and it was flown by a senior pilot. At this stage, what do you make of this?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATON: That pilot requested to return back to Addis because of technical problems and that was the last it was heard of it. And you have to look at the similarities between this incident and the LionAir 610 flight which fell out the sky last year.
Now, that was also a brand-new Boeing 737 Max 8. The incident also happened at the very early part of the flight. In that case, 12 minutes, this case six minutes into the flight, and there is (inaudible) and altitude which also -- I can hear some people say, right, well one and one -- Richard say one on one makes three. I'm not.
I'm just saying that this is the rock the investigators are going to be looking at because it is highly unusual. In fact besides the comet back in Britain in the 1950s, I can't think of another case where a brand-new aircraft has had two major incidents with multiple fatalities so soon after entry into service.
CABRERA: So, Boeing has got to be freaking out right now?
QUEST: No, they won't be. They will be doing what Boeing does best, which is going through this methodically, recognizing that there may be a problem. They are sending a team obviously and that they will be waiting until the get the information.
There maybe telemetry already coming in from the aircraft's computer systems that are being transmitted. They will be looking at the service record. It was a brand new plane so there's almost nothing wrong with it. They will be looking at any previous incidents or had any of the other crew reported problems with sensors, with readings, with computers.
And then ultimately they will have to wait. They'll have to wait like everybody else for the Ethiopian investigators -- and they're very good at this, by the way, the Ethiopian investigators, and they will bring in the NTSB from the U.S.
[17:25:00] They will bring in the British. They will bring in Boeing. They will bring in the plane, the engine manufacturers and together they'll find the flight data recorder and work out what happened.
CABRERA: And so what kind of information might we expect then in the coming hours to help make sense of this horrible crash?
QUEST: Right. First thing we want to know is any -- what exactly did the pilot say to Addis traffic control when he requested to turnback? Did he give any indication of what was wrong with the aircraft? Secondly, how far are they in advance in finding the data recorders?
Now, this looks like it was a very serious impact, probably the plane diving out of the sky but those boxes are designed for much greater incidents than this in the sense of forces upon them. So, they will find them. They'll weed them out as it's known.
And it could be, if they find the boxes today and the boxes aren't damaged particularly badly, then you could be looking by week's end to get a good idea or midweek to weekend next week to get a good idea of what happened or at least the early parameters of what might have happened.
CABRERA: Well, the images are just so heart breaking. Richard Quest, thanks for that great reporting.
A new poll has solidified it. Two older Democrats everyone knows are the ones to beat. So how are young contenders making their mark on the 2020 race? Live to the site of tonight's presidential town halls, next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."
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CABRERA: Another busy day for the pack, and it is a pack of 2020 presidential hopefuls. We have a brand-new poll from the key state of Iowa giving us a fresh look where voters stand on these candidates. Former vice president Joe Biden maintaining his lead despite not even officially being in the race.
And with Biden and Bernie Sanders, the oldest of the candidates are leading right now, there is a growing number of young hopefuls who are looking to break through. CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is in Austin, Texas where three Democrats in the running will be in the spotlight tonight. Jeff, who are the young Democrats to watch?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Ana. There is a diverse field of Democratic candidates as you said and age is a central part of that diversity. There are two candidates who we'll be hearing from this evening.
Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana and Tulsi Gabbard, she is a member of Congress. And they have been out there making their case to voters. They are 37 years old. That means should they win, they will become the first millennial president.
PETE BUTTIGIEG, MAYOR (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: Everywhere I go people sometimes, especially here in Iowa, a little too polite to ask the question as to why a 37-year-old mayor thinks he has any business being in a discussion about the highest office in the land.
ZELENY (voice-over): That's precisely the question facing Pete Buttigieg, the youngest candidate in the presidential race. He's the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, now turning heads as he audaciously eyes at the White House. (on camera): How can you make the argument to be president?
BUTTIGIEG: So, I know you don't expect to hear this from the youngest person in the conversation but my simplest answer is experience. I know there is a more conventional path that involves marinating in Washington for 10 or 20 or 40 years, but I actually think we want Washington to begin looking more like our best-run cities and towns, not the other way around.
ZELENY (voice-over): He's touting his youth as virtue and his biography filled with a list if firsts.
BUTTIGIEG: The fact that I'm a veteran, that I'm young, that I'm in a same-sex marriage, those are important parts of who I am. But that profile just gets you a look. The real question is once people take that look, who do they see and what do they hear?
ZELENY (voice-over): Democrats are giving them a look, but there are challenges to be seen as a serious candidate on a crowded stage. He's at the forefront of a new generation of leaders who have little appetite to wait their turn.
Even Democrats not constitutionally old enough to seek the presidency like Congresswoman Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez, 29, is also influencing the party. On the campaign trail, Buttigieg is not the only millennial in the race.
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: I don't know about you guys. When someone tells me to be quiet, I speak up louder.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is also 37, and an Iraq veteran, who is building her candidacy around foreign policy.
GABBARD: That is the change that I seek to bring to this country, of bringing these uniquely American ideals of putting service before self that come from my heart as a soldier.
ZELENY (voice-over): She's still explaining a 2017 meeting with Syria's president, Bahsar al-Assad.
GABBARD: I'm deeply sorry.
ZELENY (voice-over): And has apologized for what she now calls wrong and hurtful statements where she worked for an anti-gay group. Two young congressmen also exploring a White House bid. The 38-year-old Eric Swalwell of California and 48-year-old Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. Highlighting a divide with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders nearly four decades older. It's become a ready made punch line at least for the younger candidates.
BUTTIGIEG: I understand the audacity of running for president at my age. Especially because sometimes downstairs I will still get carded when I order a beer.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZELENY (on camera): So he will not get carded tonight at this event, Ana. But there is a central theme through a lot of these younger candidates; that is military service. Pete Buttigieg served in Afghanistan, Tulsi Gabbard served in Iraq. That is a central theme we see in new members of Congress as well.
Now, when you ask mayor Buttigieg about his age, he said look, the constitution has settled that. The age of course is 35 to be president. Of course, at the end of the day that will be voters making that decision in this case. Ana?
CABRERA: I still think I'm almost 37 and I can't imagine being in a position to run for president. That alone is ambitious and impressive. Jeff Zeleny, thanks for bringing us that reporting.
[17:35:00] Live tonight from South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, three CNN presidential town halls back to back, former congressman, John Delaney at 7:00, Representative Tulsi Gabbard at 8:00 and Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9:00. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash moderate. That starts again 7:00 eastern tonight right here on CNN.
CABRERA: Welcome back. We are uncovering new details this weekend that help connect a Florida massage parlor, the Chinese business community in this country and political influence that might go all the way to the White House.
This woman in a selfie with President Trump once owned the day spa where NFL owner Robert Kraft was charged with soliciting sex. Now, according to federal records, she runs a company that introduces clients to people close to President Trump for a fee. CNN's Kaylee Hartung is in Jupiter, Florida, outside that now infamous massage parlor. Kaylee, you have been digging on this story the last couple of days. Who is this woman, and is she accused of doing anything illegal?
[17:40:02] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, Li or Cindy Yang is not accused of doing anything illegal. She no longer owns this day spa that is at the center of the human trafficking investigation. She's not been charged in relationship to that investigation in any way, but it's her new business that's now raising eyebrows.
"The Miami Herald" reports that she's running this consultant firm based in Florida that promises Chinese investors she can introduce them to U.S. political elite like President Trump and members of his family. So, the spotlight has moved on from that night she spent at the Super Bowl watch party at Mar-a-Lago with President Trump to a paid fund-raiser for Trump in December of 2017 in New York City.
Now, there are campaign finance laws in this country that govern who can and can't contribute to political campaigns. Well, in the case of that night, Yang did what she advertises she can do. She arranged for a group of Chinese businessmen to attend that event.
A source who was at that event told "The Herald" that Yang identified herself as an official with the National Committee of Asian American Republicans, that's a political action committee based in D.C. that was founded in the summer of 2016. And in reference to this group of Chinese businessmen at the event, she said they're all my guests.
Now, we've learned that in the days leading up to that event, Yang contributed significant amounts of money to President Trump's funds. She donated more than $5,000 to Trump's campaign fund and more than $23,000 to Trump's victory political action committee. In this country, a foreign national can go to a political fund-raiser of this nature just as long as they don't pay their way into it.
Only American citizens and permanent residents of this country can contribute to political campaigns. So, if a foreign national were to have paid Yang and reimbursed her for that entrance into this event that would be illegal, Ana. We've reached out to the White House, the RNC, the Trump campaign and Yang, but those efforts have been unsuccessful. Nobody has responded to our request for comment.
CABRERA: All right. Kaylee Hartung, thank you for the update.
In the days to come, crucial legal proceedings for several former Trump insiders, the most consequential of course is the second sentencing for Paul Manafort, why it's unlikely to look anything like his last hearing, next in the "CNN Newsroom."
[17:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Paul Manafort is not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. The man Trump chose to run his 2016 presidential campaign will be sentenced a second time this week. And this time, Manafort faces a much less sympathetic judge.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is the one who effectively voided his plea deal when she ruled that Manafort intentionally lied to Robert Mueller despite agreeing to cooperate in his Russia probe. And what did Manafort lie about? His relationship with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian associate who worked with Manafort in Ukraine.
Prosecutors say Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence, an allegation he has denied. Manafort shared polling data with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign, that's according to a court document filed by Manafort's own lawyers, and he met with Kilimnik again in Madrid after Trump was elected.
Also Judge Jackson is the one who says Manafort violated his bail, prosecutors telling the court Manafort plotted with Kilimnik to tamper with potential witnesses. A former federal prosecutor named Gene Rossi tells Bloomberg News, "Judge Ellis, who sentenced Manafort to less than four years behind bars in the first case this past week, may simply have assumed Judge Jackson would impose significant additional time."
And Rossi says, "That was in part why he went relatively easy on Paul Manafort." A lot of legal analysts may agree or disagree but here's the bottom line, Judge Jackson could punish Manafort an additional 10 years in the slammer for his crimes including conspiring to secretly lobby the U.S. on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian government. Also, she gets to decide whether Manaforts serves the sentence she
hands down at the same time concurrently with his first one or consecutively. Manafort is almost 70 years old so this could determine whether he spends the rest of his life behind bars.
Manafort's day of reckoning with Judge Jackson is set to happen on Wednesday. And that brings us to our weekly segment "Cross-Exam" with Elie Hoinig. Elie is a former federal and state prosecutor and CNN legal analyst. He's answering your questions about legal news.
Elie, understandably a lot of the questions this week were about Manafort. You said this is perhaps the biggest blockbuster week of questions that you received, one of them being what is the significance of the 47-month sentence he's already received?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. One of the best parts of doing this is you get to hear directly from viewers. And our viewers were really baffled and angered by this sentence and I think rightly so. I think this was an unjust sentence that we saw from the judge in Virginia.
Look, the sentencing guideline range, which is advisory, it's not mandatory, was 19 to 24 years. Now, I agree that would have been excessive given all the facts here, but this judge went 15 years below the bottom of that range.
And I thought (ph) back on the cases I did as a federal prosecutor. I did hundreds of cases, maybe a thousand. I never once had a case other than cooperators, which is a different game -- I never once had a case where a judge went that far below the bottom of the guidelines. That is how rare this was.
And I think people were angry for two reasons. One, as we said before, Manafort showed such disrespect for the law. He lied, he tampered with witnesses, he didn't even accept responsibility at his own sentencing, yet he got this enormous break.
And I think the other thing that's bothering people is the proportionality. The fact that so many people often aren't white, wealthy, powerful like him get sentenced to much more time for much less.
[17:50:03] But he's not out of the woods yet. Like you said, he has got to face Judge Jackson later and people asked, can the prosecutor appeal a low sentence? The answer is yes. Prosecutors can, but it's only done very rarely and I would not expect it here.
CABRERA: A lot of people are also talking about Michael Cohen and the checks that the president allegedly wrote Cohen, the hush money payments for having an affair or alleged affair with a couple of women trying to cover those up before the election. Here's the viewer question. Why would the president break those payments up into smaller checks?
HONIG: So the short answer is plausible deniability, meaning it can give a cover story for the president. The big question here is, were these payments reimbursement for the hush money or were they what we're not hearing as the defense retainer fees, meaning the normal fees that a client sometimes pays an attorney to be on call sort of month to month.
Overall, I think when you look at -- look, imagine if one huge check had been cut. It would be pretty obvious what that was. That's why I think the reason they broke it up was so they could claim, well, this is just an innocent retainer fee.
But when you look at all the facts, the timing, these payments started right after the hush money payments, the changing stories. Rudy Giuliani even said at one point Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for these payments so, ultimately, I don't think that cover is going to hold.
CABRERA: Another question surrounding the investigations in the Southern District of New York, again, separate from Mueller's investigations, and a viewer asked, could Trump and the members of his organization be prosecuted for racketeering?
HONIG: Sure. So, RICO is the federal racketeering law and it was really pioneered, the use of it, in the '80s by Rudy Giuliani in the Southern District of New York where he used it to go after the mafia, the traditional Italian mob.
Decades later I used the same tool in the Southern District to also go after the mafia. But here's the thing, RICO is not just for the mafia anymore. In recent years, it's been used against corruption organizations, corrupt governmental entities, and corrupt political organizations. So, you could see it.
Now, people throw the phrase around, racketeering. What does it mean? It really boils down to you have to show a jury some organizational structure and you have to show the people within that organization committed a series of crimes related to one another and related to the organization.
So, the downside is it's extra work for the prosecutor but the advantage is, and I've tried RICO cases, you get to really show the jury the full picture, how this organization operated in the broader sense. So, it's a powerful tool and I do think the Southern District, if I had to guess, is giving a hard look at whether the Trump Org. qualifies as a racketeering enterprise.
CABRERA: Interesting. Elie Honig. Could be a very interesting week ahead. What will you be watching for?
HONIG: OK, three quick things. First of all, Congress has sent request for information to the White House. The White House has said no dice. Are we going to see Congress take it up to the next level by issuing subpoenas?
Second question, Judge Jackson, seems like everything is in front of her. She's asked for an answer from Roger Stone about the gag order. Now, it comes out now that Roger Stone has this book coming out where he says some things that probably violate the gag order. He forgot to tell her us about it.
Judge Jackson says, I want your explanation. This guy is on thin ice and he's just tapping away. He's trying to get thrown in jail. And the third one, the big one I think on everyone's mind is what we opened with, what's Judge Jackson going to do going to do with Paul Manafort? She can sentence him to up to 10 years and I think she's going to sentence him to ten years.
And I think she's going to sentence him to 10 years. I think she's going to run it concurrently, meaning it's not going to be on top of the four and a half years, but I think ultimately, Manafort's sentence when all is said and done is going to end up at 10 years and I think Judge Jackson is going to be the one to bring the hammer down.
CABRERA: All right. Elie Honig, as always, thank you.
HONIG: Thanks Ana.
CABRERA: And of course, if you have your own questions you want Elie to answer check out his "Cross-Exam" column at cnn.com/opinion.
OK, 2020 hopeful Elizabeth Warren, yet again, defending her aggressive push to break up tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Why her proposal may be a tough one for her party to embrace. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."
[17:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: This week, Democratic presidential hopeful elizabeth warren making waves from Washington to Silicon Valley. She's proposing an aggressive plan to break up major tech giants including Facebook, Amazon, Google. She was pressed on this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED O'KEEFE, CBS NEWS HOST: Let me just get this clear. If you had your way, Facebook would have to sell off Instagram. Amazon would have to sell off Whole Foods.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: All those little businesses that they're running, competing businesses. Yes.
O'KEEFE: Who is the federal government to tell these companies they have to do that?
WARREN: There's antitrust law that's been around more than 100 years and the federal government has done this many times, for example, broke up Standard Oil, broke up the great monopolies of the late 19th century and early 20th century. And the reason for that is to that we can keep a competitive economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I asked CNN's global economic analyst, Rana Foroohar, what she makes of Warren's proposal. Watch.
CABRERA: Rana, I know you're writing a book on these big tech companies. What do you make of her idea to break them up?
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, it's actually a very elegant way, what she just described. It is like you own the marketplace and you can play in the marketplace. That's the problem with the big tech companies, Amazon, Google, Facebook.
There are privacy issues then there are competition issues. And I think what's interesting about her proposal, is it knits together some of those things and it says, look, we need to make sure that we're not living in a rigged game where not just people, but individual, small companies feel like they can't come into the marketplace and compete with these bigger players because that's bad for the overall economy.
I think it's very brave that she's taking on this issue and it's going to be a tough one for the Democrats because Democrats get a lot of money from the Silicon Valley.
CABRERA: Will this have a big impact on the economy at large?
FOROOHAR: You know, I think that over the longer term, if we actually regulate some of the biggest companies more tightly, it will be good for the economy. And if you look back say, 20 years ago, which is when we had the last big tech antitrust case, that was the Microsoft case, just the threat of that regulation actually allowed companies like Google to be born. There was more after an open marketplace and I think that that's what we'll see again.
[18:00:00] CABRERA: You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.