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New York A.G. Subpoenaed Banks Linked To President Trump; From Daughter To President's Sidekick In Power; A New Book Looks At Ivanka Trump And Jared Kushner's Rise To Extraordinary Power In The White House; California Governor Set To Halt Death Penalty; FAA Resists Calls To Ground 737 Max 8. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired March 12, 2019 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Robert Mueller's team says Kilimnik is link to Russian intelligence. And don't forget that last week a federal judge in Virginia stunned the courtroom by sentencing Manafort to only 47 months in prison for his conviction of eight financial crimes including tax and bank fraud. Prosecutors had recommended a sentence between 19 and 24 years.

Let's discuss. Shimon Prokupecz is here, Matthew Rosenberg and Asha Rangappa.

Good evening to all of you. I'm going to start with you, Shimon. Tomorrow is a big day for Manafort and Mueller. What can we expect?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. So, you know, this would be early in the morning, around 9.30 or so we expect Paul Manafort and his team to come in. We'll hear some legal arguments.

The big question is going to be, Don, as you said what will the sentence ultimately be for Paul Manafort? Does the judge go ahead and give him the maximum, which is the 10 years on the two counts, five each. Or does she give him any kind of a break here?

We certainly saw that break in the case in Virginia. If you recall the judge there said that Paul Manafort had lived basically a blameless life before anything, before he was involved with anything that he was charged with.

And the big question now is what will happen tomorrow? Will the judge go ahead and give him the maximum? She, as you said has had a very different view of Paul Manafort throughout this case, throughout this investigation.

The judge in Virginia having a little more compassion for him. Kind of, you know, had quite the opinion on the whole Mueller investigation. Her opinion of the whole Mueller investigation has been quite different.

So, the big thing, obviously, is does he get an additional 10 years, five years? What more is he facing? LEMON: Interesting. You know, as I said, Asha, she -- this judge,

Judge Jackson is the one who sent Paul Manafort to jail after he was accused of witness tampering, also ruled that he breached his plea deal by lying to prosecutors about his Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik. Do you think this is going to factor in tomorrow's sentencing?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I think so. I mean, this judge (Inaudible), you know. But I think that we have to wait and see. I mean, look, we give judges incredible discretion on how much to sentence defendants, and I think we were taken by surprise last week, so let's see.

But I mean in this case -- you know, in her courtroom he has engaged in incredibly unsavory behavior from the court's perspective. He has obstructed justice, he's tampered with witnesses. He's lied to prosecutors. So I can't imagine that she would look kindly upon that.

And look, one way or the other he's going to jail. I think the real question here is what will Trump do after the sentence is rendered? Is he going to pardon Manafort, or will he let the just -- the sentence stand?

LEMON: Interesting. Let's talk about -- a little bit more about Konstantin Kilimnik, Matthew. Manafort's -- Manafort's co-defendant in this case. Reportedly tried -- tied to Russian intelligence. What more could we learn about this relationship between Manafort and Kilimnik?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We already know a lot. We know that Manafort tried to share campaign polling data with him and that he appeared to be a link between Manafort and Russian intelligence, and, you know, Russian oligarchs, you know, who also have ties to the Kremlin.

We could learn more about the relationship. We could learn more of what the Mueller team knows, if there was more engagement there. I think also, you know, the judge is going to be under tremendous -- there's been a tremendous kind of public outcry, and that creates real pressure to give Manafort a strict sentence, you know.

You've had public defenders talking about their clients. You've got three to six years, first thing (Inaudible), guys who have life in jail for selling $20 worth of pot to a policeman, and that's going to make it -- you know, and judges don't live in a vacuum. They hear and see this stuff, too.

LEMON: Yes. And then there's, you know, besides the Manafort sentencing tomorrow there's also Roger Stone. Roger Stone's hearing on Thursday and a sentencing update for Rick Gates on Friday. Are all of these developments a sign that Mueller's report is imminent, Shimon Prokupecz?

PROKUPECZ: I do think that these are lots of indications here that this thing is essentially on main core players of this investigation. The cooperator is all really wrapped up. When you look at Michael Flynn, we had an update on him today, he's essentially done cooperating.

Paul Manafort was the first person indicted, first person that the Mueller team, you know, essentially indicted was a main player in this entire investigation.

Remember it was before Judge Berman Jackson, which is where tomorrow's proceedings is, where we learned that Paul Manafort in this meeting with Konstantin Kilimnik was the center, was the heart of the Mueller investigation.

[23:04:59] So with tomorrow's end, with the sentencing Paul Manafort is done in terms of the special counsel's office. The main part of this investigation is over.

The big thing is, though, I do think is Rick Gates. We've heard so little about him, and he's spent all this time cooperating. And we've learned a lot about his cooperation. He certainly helped him learn a lot about Paul Manafort's activities, the meeting with this Russian Kilimnik guy.

So, Rick Gates has been a bigger figure in this entire investigation. Getting an update on him is going to be a key sign of whether or not the Department of Justice is done with his cooperation.

We believe that he is cooperating in other parts of this -- of the Department of Justice, specifically in the Southern District of New York where there are other investigations.

So, I'm looking forward to that to see what happens there. But it does seem that the key players, the key parts of this investigation are being wrapped up.

LEMON: OK, then, what about Flynn because there was supposed to be a Flynn sentencing update tomorrow, but that was -- that was just canceled. What does that mean for the president's former national security advisor and for this case?

PROKUPECZ: Right. So, Flynn they updated us today just a couple of hours ago, they put that out. He's trying to delay his sentencing. What happened last time as you will recall is that the judge surprised everyone in this dramatic fashion and held this hearing, went after Michael Flynn, thought that he should go to jail.

The prosecutors had no position, they were saying zero to six months. The judge was not satisfied with that and hinted strongly to Michael Flynn that he should delay his sentencing because he's continuing to cooperate. But that's a former business partner of his and that's outside of a case in Virginia.

But interestingly enough in the filing today his status doesn't really change. What the government essentially has said is that they are pretty much done with him. He's cooperating in this other case, but it's not a Mueller investigation.

Of course, they could always go back to him, but he also for all intents and purposes, he is done. The big thing here what's going on is that they meant to delay it because they're afraid that Michael Flynn -- his lawyers are afraid that the judge is going to put him in jail.

LEMON: So, Matthew, we're all focused on Mueller's criminal investigation but former prosecutor Nelson Cunningham says that Mueller is also continuing to counter intelligence investigation that started with suspicious Trump-Russia contacts in 2016. Could this mean double trouble for the president?

ROSENBERG: Look, counter intelligence investigations are -- they tend to remain secret. They tend to be about countering another country's intelligence services. It's not about criminal charges.

So, I don't know if it means double trouble that we're going to find out about it anytime soon, but it really does seem like there's something going on here that people around the president are still the focus of what investigators are looking at.

And those can sometimes yield criminal charges. You know, this stuff has become very hard to predict, and Shimon can tell us that. But it remains a concern, and that's pretty clear.

LEMON: Yes. Asha, listen, Cunningham says that unlike a final criminal report a Mueller counter intelligence report must be shared with Congress, and then he writes this.

He says, "The House and Senate intelligence committees are legally entitled to be given reports in writing of significant intelligence and counter intelligence activity or failures. Mueller's findings will certainly qualify."

So, he thinks there could be a second Mueller report. Do you think he's onto something?

RANGAPPA: I think it was a very interesting take, and I think he's absolutely right, that there is a very large back story of what Mueller has gathered that may not see the inside of a courtroom.

And so, his report to the attorney general, which is limited to criminal charges, the charges that he has chosen to pursue or has declined to pursue will not tell the whole story.

But I think that Congress could have this other avenue to get this other information of what may pose a national security threat to the United States.

And as Matthew just mentioned may not warrant criminal charges or may not necessitate criminal charges because doing so could divulge, you know, sensitive messages or sources or give away what we know to our adversaries but may still be of interest to Congress in terms of deciding how to proceed with that information.

And they may have that avenue through the intelligence committees to get that.

LEMON: I've got to ask you this while you're here, Asha, about this massive college admissions scandal. You were the dean of admissions at Yale law school for over 12 years. Did you ever think that something like this could happen?

RANGAPPA: You know, I mean, reading things like this, Don, makes me so angry because so much of what I did as admissions dean was to go out and try to recruit students who didn't think they had a chance to put their hat in the ring.

[23:09:55] And look, let's not kid ourselves. There are structural issues in the admissions that do benefit people with access to resources, people who can take test prep courses or get help on their essays and stuff like that.

But outright bribery, getting people to take tests for you, this distorts the admissions process and the way that people like me were trying to make fair decisions on people, and I just -- it upsets me that there may be people who are discouraged from shooting high because of this kind of unethical and illegal behavior by a select few.

LEMON: Asha, thank you for that. Matthew, thank you as well, and Shimon, I appreciate your time.

Did Michael Cohen leave a trail of bread crumbs for investigators in his testimony last month? And what clues are investigators in New York following? We're going to dig into that next.


LEMON: So, the president launching a Twitter tirade against his home state of New York and Governor Andrew Cuomo calling them presidential harassers.

This after New York state's attorney general subpoenaed two banks for records about multiple Trump Organization projects and an attempt by the president to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014.

Let's bring in now Jed Shugerman, he is the author of "The People's Courts." David Cay Johnston is here as well, the author of "It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America."

Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you both for joining me. David, I'm going to start with you. This investigation appears to have come out of Michael Cohen's testimony last month, just a few weeks ago. This is what he said about the president and the president was attempting to buy the Buffalo Bills. Watch this.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I'm giving to the committee today three years of Mr. Trump's personal financial statements, from 2011, 2012 and 2013, which he gave to Deutsch Bank to enquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to Forbes.

REP. WILLIAM LACY CLAY (D), MISSOURI: Did the president ever provide inflated assets to a bank in order to help him obtain a loan?

COHEN: These documents and others were provided to Deutsche Bank on one occasion where I was with them in our attempt to obtain money so that we can put a bid on the Buffalo Bills.


LEMON: So, the attorney general is now acting on this. What kind of crimes are we talking about there, potentially?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, if he actually got a loan he has signed documents under penalty of perjury and he can go on after. He didn't get the loan for the Bills partly because to buy the Bills he would have to put up a little over a billion dollars in cash, which he didn't have. That's how the rules work of the NFL.

But if this leads to other documents coming forward from Deutsche Bank that show he actually got loans on other occasions where he misstated his finances, then he's facing potential bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud charges.

And one of the things we also learn from this is was it really Deutsche Bank that was loaning him money over the years, or was Deutsche Bank acting on behalf of VTB, the Russian spy bank or some other Russian entity, and the risk was on those people, or did they somehow privately guarantee it? There could be a lot there.


JOHNSTON: Maybe there's nothing here. We don't know yet.

LEMON: You don't know. You're shaking your head here. What do you think?

JED SHUGERMAN, PROFESSOR, FORDHAM LAW: Look, the big picture -- first of all it's amazing that Donald Trump couldn't get an NFL franchise because they have a character clause -- so he could become president of the United States but he couldn't become an NFL owner in that world.


LEMON: Think about what just transpired in the --


SHUGERMAN: Absolutely, right.

LEMON: -- in the last couple of --

SHUGERMAN: So, where's that bar?


SHUGERMAN: So, but the big picture is that many people speculate that Deutsche Bank has been the conduit for not just in that window of time but way back for many years the conduit for money laundering. And Deutsch Bank was the only western bank that would do money with Trump, and Deutsch Bank is renowned for being and has been fined billions of dollars for money laundering with Russia and --

JOHNSTON: Deutsch Bank has paid over $22 billion in fines of all kinds and over $600 million just for Russian money laundering. Their profits last year were about 300 million euros, and they're not that big a bank.

So, you have to wonder, you know, why are they taking risks loaning money to Donald Trump when every other bank walks away and says we're not going to do business with you. You don't pay loans back. And remember during the campaign he said I borrowed money knowing I wasn't going to pay it back.

LEMON: So then why did they do it?

JOHNSTON: Well, that's the great $64,000 question.

LEMON: So, let's talk about your piece in "The New York Times" yesterday. Jed. You called for the New York A.G. to do exactly this kind of investigation. A civil proceeding against the Trump Organization, one that could end up with the company being dissolved. How extensive a crime -- do the crimes have to be to warrant that?

SHUGERMAN: Well, the step they took last night the crimes don't have to be of such grand scope. It can be simply that a business is engaged in fraud. And what they acted on was a statute that says the attorney general.

And let's keep it - keep in mind this is confusing to some Republican officials today.

This is New York State attorney general, so this is independent of federal interference. So, the crimes can be relatively narrow for them to act.

But the next step as they find out more from Deutsche Bank about not just some of these federal crimes but state crimes in New York consistent of bank fraud, insurance fraud and tax fraud, if they find enough pattern of persistent fraud the New York attorney general under another statute can bring a petition to dissolve the Trump Organization in New York State.


JOHNSTON: And we have effectively a state RICO statute which maybe you can reach at some point.

LEMON: Maybe. So, the subpoena from the New York A.G. is looking for documents about Deutsch Bank's dealings with the Trump hotel, properties in Chicago in D.C., a golf course outside of Miami, records related to the president's failed bid as I said to buy the Buffalo Bills. What does this tell you about the investigation?

[23:20:05] JOHNSTON: Well, no one has seriously looked ever at Donald Trump's finances. When he was a casino owner the casino regulators admitted that from time he got license for 12 years they never once looked at his money or checked him out at all.

And so, this is the first time we have someone with subpoena power, not people like me, you know, looking around to find whether they dropped something in a public record or it was a court hearing but subpoena power to compel the production of documents that has had the opportunity to really go after him.

And Letitia James during the campaign said elect me, I'm going to go really examine this guy.

LEMON: This is a civil investigation not a criminal one. So what significant consequences, if any, could the president and his family face?

SHUGERMAN: Right. It starts with the New York attorney general on the civil side, but this is an opportunity for the New York attorney general's office to share information with both New York state prosecutors like Cyrus Vance in Manhattan.

This is chance for him to redeem himself because he dropped the ball. He -- his office had the goods on Ivanka Trump and Don Junior for a criminal real estate fraud. He could get in on state prosecution, but they can also share information with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

JOHNSTON: And Cuomo can grant the attorney general --

LEMON: Andrew.

JOHNSTON: Andrew Cuomo -- Andrew Cuomo can grant Latitia James criminal investigative authority if he wants to. And if it's probably safe for him to do so at some point because to work him out civilly I would expect that he would probably do that.

LEMON: Or Governor Cuomo, we should say.

JOHNSTON: Governor Cuomo.

LEMON: Let's put up on the screen and these are all the investigations that are currently under way against the Trump administration. the inauguration, transition you can see them all. I mean, it's just astounding. How is any governing getting done, David?

JOHNSTON: Has there been any governing? I mean, we still have an acting FAA director. We have all sorts of unfilled positions. We have countries, major countries where there is no U.S. ambassador more than two years after he took office.

LEMON: Yes. Does he have any power with state investigators?

SHUGERMAN: No, so this is a key issue here is that, first of all, Trump -- a presidential pardon only effects federal criminal liability. So is this part of getting the key name to look for in the future is Allen Weisselberg, who is the CFO of the Trump Organization. If there was money laundering Allen Weisselberg who is already in

jeopardy because of the campaign finance felonies Michael Cohen pegged him and the testimony because about the bank fraud with Deutsche Bank, Weisselberg could be compelled because of state indictments to the cooperate.

And he can't bank on, if you will, a presidential pardon to get him off the hook. This is also because at state it also means that Trump can't interfere with state prosecutors or the state attorney general.

LEMON: Thank you. That's got to be the last word. I have to go. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate your time.

A new book is claiming that President Trump wanted his own daughter and son-in-law pushed out of the White House and sent back to New York, and there's a lot more.


LEMON: A new book about to take Washington by storm and it focuses on Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. "The New York Times" says the book seeks to tell the behind the scenes story of their rise to extraordinary power in the White House.

CNN White House Reporter, Kate Bennett has more now.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Washington buzzing about a new book "Kushner Inc." by writer Vicky Ward and its focus on Ivanka Trump's unprecedented role as both daughter and influential advisor to the president. A murky area Ivanka has had to define.


LESLEY STAHL, REPORTER, CBS NEWS: People think you're going to be part of the administration, Ivanka.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: No, I'm going to be a daughter.


BENNETT: The family connection has led to complicated political issues. Ward writes how Ivanka defended her dad after the deadly Charlottesville protest. Trump saying there was, quote, "blame on both sides."

Ivanka, adamantly sticking up for her father. Ward writes Ivanka told White House economic adviser Gary Cohn who was rocked by Trump's remarks and by Ivanka response.

Quote, "My dad is not a racist. He didn't mean any of it."

Publicly she's played the role of defiant daughter, side-stepping salacious headlines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe your father's accusers?

TRUMP: I think it's a pretty inappropriate to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he's affirmatively stated that there's no truth to it.


BENNETT: Saying privately she's able to voice her opinion.


TRUMP: I'm part of a staff, he's the president. I'm part of a team.


BENNETT: Ivanka tasked with tackling policy issues from family work leave funding to economic empowerment for women. Trump in return heaping praise as both boss and father. Sometimes with cringe-worthy results.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's so good. She wanted to make the trip. She actually said, dad, can I go with you. She actually said, daddy, can I go with you. I like that. Right? Daddy, can I go with you. I said, yes, you can.


BENNETT: And just this week during a White House meeting.


D. TRUMP: She's so formal. A special person and she's worked so hard as you all know.


BENNETT: The book also taking a look at Ivanka's West Wing role. Ward writes, setting a source at the State Department, "Ivanka would request travel on Air Force planes and if the request was denied Ivanka and Kushner would often invite along a cabinet secretary, often Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in order to gain access."

But is Ivanka advisor, daughter or perhaps the answer is both? The result in Washington more scrutinized than perhaps any other presidential family member in modern history.


I. TRUMP: There's a level of viciousness that I was not expecting, but this isn't supposed to be easy.


LEMON: So here with me now Kate Bennett, also Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump."

Good evening to both of you. Kate, according to this book excerpt Ivanka and Jared the moderating influence on the president as they are often portrayed?

[23:30:02] BENNETT: I mean, that has been sort of the underlying vibe, I guess, since the beginning of the administration and it may actually be true simply because quite frankly they're still there. This is a power couple inside the West Wing and through all the tumultuous turnover, the backstabbing, the chaotic nature of staffing issue that we've seen over the past two years, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have had the most staying power, the most influence, and quite frankly the most vast portfolios really of anyone closest to the president.

So I think that says a lot about their influence on the president, the family connection and that weird sort of grey area where those two things merge and connect. He feels comfortable with them. They feel comfortable speaking to him. I think that that sort of therein lies their sticking power.

LEMON: Michael, Vicky Ward writes that over the past few years, the president has wanted to on and off to get rid of Ivanka and Jared. Here's what she writes.

She says, "When he hired John F. Kelly as a chief of staff, a move that Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner supported at the time, he gave an early directive: 'Get rid of my kids. Get them back to New York.' Mr. Trump complained that his children didn't know how to play the game and generated cycles of bad press. Mr. Kelly responded that it would be difficult to fire them, but he and the president agreed that they would make life difficult enough to force the pair to offer their resignations which the president would then accept."

So, Ivanka and Jared are still working in the White House, Michael. John Kelly has since resigned. They are the survivors.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They are the survivors. There are two things about that story that ring true to me. One is the president's impatience. He is not a very patient man. It is quite likely that a few things occurred that he really found distasteful and he did say something about getting rid of them.

The other part that rings true is the scheme, this idea that somehow they are going to make Jared and Ivanka miserable, and then that would force them to resign. That's also consistent with the way the president operates.

But they do have sticking power. But I actually think that the notion that they're moderating where the president is concerned is something the jury is out on. It's an idea that Ivanka Trump promoted when they were in private business. She often let it be known to friends and people she respected that, oh, it would be much worse if I weren't there to wield some influence.

But I have it noted that Donald Trump is acting in a moderate way on any issue. We'll never know because we can all say, well, you should see what he really wanted to do. But I don't assume that they're all that powerful.

LEMON: According to the book, Kate, Ivanka and Jared didn't initially plan to work at the White House. And once they were there, they clashed with a lot of advisers, a lot of other advisers. What's happened since?

BENNETT: I think quite frankly the turmoil in Washington led them to actually have to stick to it. We used to hear rumors, we, the White House press corps, they are moving back to New York, this is it. I mean, you know, those rumors were fairly consistent until lately.

You know, I think they found some things. Ivanka Trump has found women's economic empowerment to be a special project for her. She has gotten some funding for that in the new budget. She has also taken on work and family leave rights, which has been to Congress. She has sort of forged relationships on Capitol Hill.

Certainly, it took them some time to find the footing but I think now that they're there and they've seen what the White House is like and what Washington can be like, Ivanka as we saw in that clip saying she didn't expect sort of the viciousness, the personal attacks, once she has gotten past that, I think that they have the idea that they're going to stick it out.

Certainly the rumors again of them leaving, of them packing it up and heading back to New York whether by the president's sort of scheming or on their own volition, those things haven't played out. And I think, again, Jared Kushner has the Middle East. He has a lot of projects going on. You know, there are flashes of troubled news about security clearances and other investigations and troubles with Kushner businesses, et cetera, but they have found their niche inside the White House. It seems to be that they are sticking to it.

LEMON: What Jared Kushner is saying about this book? What is the White House saying? We will talk about that right after this.


LEMON: We're back with Kate Bennett and Michael D'Antonio. We're talking about the new book that focuses on Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's rise to power inside the White House. So, White House officials have dismissed this book, Kate. A spokesman for Jared Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, said this in a statement.

He said, "Every point that Ms. Ward mentioned in what she called her 'fact checking' stage was entirely false. It seems she has written a book of fiction rather than any serious attempt to get the facts. Correcting everything wrong would take too long and be pointless."

I mean, this book is not flattering to Ivanka and Jared, two people who work hard at controlling their image. Will this cause significant damage to the couple or their brand, do you think?

BENNETT: It's doubtful. You know, the White House's Sarah Sanders also released a statement today calling the book fiction and saying shady anonymous sources.

[23:40:00] The writer, Vicky Ward, actually tweeted today, "I'm very proud today to join the long list of journalists disparaged by the White House." So clearly, this is another case of the White House dealing with a book being written about what is going on in the West Wing. This time, it happens to be Jared and Ivanka.

Ivanka Trump is very interesting. She is her father's daughter. When she finds herself in the midst of potentially bad press, she often takes to Twitter to tell the good stuff. This morning, she was talking about the strength of the economy. It could have been a tweet from her father, the way listing job numbers is in wage growth. This weekend on Instagram, she instagrammed to her several million followers, her sort of highlight reel in the past two years.

She's very savvy when it comes to keeping herself afloat when the headlines get a little bumpy and when the storylines get rocky. Of course, Jared Kushner, we don't hear from him a lot anyway. He's not really exactly the forward-facing member of the couple. So it's likely he will weather this book for now. But again, it's the White House facing yet another book about what's happening behind closed doors.

LEMON: Is that where you come to being a P.R. machine and promoting yourself and changing the subject rather than actual policy and doing the work of the American people? Is that what we've become? It sounds like it. What's she doing there?

BENNETT: Is that to Michael?

LEMON: Kate.



BENNETT: Yeah, I mean, I think in a lot of ways. Like I said, this is a Trump. She is a Trump family member. Branding is very important. Maneuvering, manipulating, public image is important. And also, quite frankly, Ivanka has done things within this administration, you know, tangible, pushing the ball forward in the portfolio that she does have.

I think now is the time to talk about those things. That is just what she is doing. She doesn't do it with the sort of negative energy that her father does all the time. However, she does share a lot of her progress, her positives on social media and that's certainly something she must have picked up along the way.

LEMON: All right. Michael, Vicky Ward tells how Ivanka defended her father when Gary Cohn was considering resigning after President Trump blamed both sides in the white nationalist protests in Charlottesville.

She said, "My dad is not a racist. He didn't mean any of it." Appearing on a channel with her father, she said, "That's not what he said." Listen, I guess it's no surprise that she'd be supporting her dad, but what does this say about her views on this?

D'ANTONIO: Well --


D'ANTONIO: Well, I think that her views are about protecting him and protecting herself. She is a true Trump, so she is going to practice public relations. You know, when she talks about how vicious Washington is and how the reception was so difficult, it's because she was profoundly unqualified for the job she was given, and the world knows it. Jared Kushner is profoundly unqualified.

She received 16 trademarks from the Chinese government since she's been in the White House. Jared Kushner's family is going around the world looking for money. So all of this defensiveness and where her father and racism is concerned, he said racist things for more than 30 years, so she's been aware of him all his life having problems with the attitudes he shares about various kinds of people.

So, of course, she's going to say he's not a racist. But to lie and say that he didn't say what he actually said and then to say, well, he doesn't mean it, you know, this is -- this is too much Trumpism from the daughter who would like to distinguish herself.

And the last thing that I'd like to offer is that the one tangible thing I know that Ivanka Trump has done is get a billion dollars added to the federal budget for child care. But the people who run child care at the state and local levels say that the money is directed at something they don't need. It's the wrong direction and it's not nearly enough money. So she can go around bragging about it, but it's not effective policy and it's a minuscule amount.

LEMON: Thank you both. See you next time. We have some breaking news to tell you about tonight. It is out of California. Governor Gavin Newsom will sign an executive order tomorrow placing a moratorium on the death penalty in that state. That means a reprieve for 737 people on death row in California, which has the largest death row population in the country.

The order will immediately close the execution chamber at San Quentin, but it will not alter any current conviction or sentence or lead to the release of any prisoner currently on death row.

[23:44:58] Countries around the world are grounding Boeing Max 8 planes, but U.S. officials say there's "no basis to ground the planes." Why?


TODD: The FAA is resisting calls tonight to ground the 737 Max 8. That's after two plane crashes in less than five months, killing 346 people. Multiple countries around the world have grounded the planes.

Let's discuss now. Former FAA inspector David Soucie is here. He is the author of "Malaysia Airlines Flight 370". Also Mary Schiavo, the former inspector general for the Department of Transportation. She is also an aviation attorney who represents families of airline crash victims and has litigation pending against Boeing.

Good evening to both of you.

[23:49:59] David, I want you to take a look at the countries that have grounded or cancelled the Max 8. The FAA is saying tonight that there is no basis to order that here. What is your reaction to that?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: All of those countries you have listed there, Don, have one thing in common. They didn't certify this airplane. Boeing did. And they're in the United States. The FAA is the one who certified that airplane to be manufactured. They have skin in the game.

LEMON: And that's it. What do you mean by that? Tell me what you mean by that.

SOUCIE: Well, the FAA, they have all the chips on the table. They said we're certifying this airplane, they're standing behind it. If they admit now that the aircraft had some kind of certification issue or some problem that they overlooked when they certified the airplane, to ground the airplanes now would be admitting to that, would be admitting that we did something wrong. They're not going to want to do that.

LEMON: Thank you. Mary, you said that regulators are essentially betting with their lives of crews and passengers that this won't happen again. Explain.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: That's right. So, what the FAA and Boeing have said is after the first crash, they said they were going to make changes to the manuals and require classroom training of the pilots now or of training. And then immediately after the Ethiopia crash, the FAA issued another guidance, another order that said it was going to order Boeing to make additional changes to the actual flight computer.

But it also added very cautionary, but we don't say this has anything to do with the Ethiopia crash, we're just ordering this and Boeing has to have this done by April, but we have no idea what caused Ethiopia.

So what they're saying is they don't know what caused it. Two new planes have made holes in the ground and killed almost 350 people. But they're not going to make changes because they don't know. So, they're going to wait, not order changes, and just bet that it doesn't happen again.

That's a very foolish approach to safety. Safety should be we know what's happened and we can make the change. It is not we're not going to make changes because we don't know.

LEMON: American Airlines, Mary, has more than 300 737s. Only 24 are Max 8. Southwest Airlines has more than 350 737s. Only 34 are Max 8. Would it be easy to temporarily ground such a small amount of planes?

SCHIAVO: Well, I won't say it would be easy, but with fleets like that and the ability to change their fleets and make up for the shortages of the planes, yes, for carriers like that they could do it. And they have experience in the past with other instances where they've had to ground -- Southwest had maintenance issues where they've had to pull planes under orders from the FAA and others.

LEMON: So why the resistance, then?

SCHIAVO: Well, again, I think it's because in the United States, in addition to what David said and he's right, but in the United States, the FAA defers to Boeing and they defer to the airlines. They have a different approach. In fact, they call the airlines their customers. I thought the traveling public was.

And when it comes to Boeing, most of the Boeing certifications and oversight are performed by designated examiners or persons right within Boeing or who work for Boeing. And when my old office, office of inspector general, when I was there, we reviewed the certification of the Boeing 777, on order of Congress we did that, we found that Boeing self-certified about 95 percent of the plane.

I'm not saying that was bad. But the fact of the matter is Boeing had the expertise and the FAA just won't challenge them. Even in the most recent air witness directive it said this is based on an analysis by Boeing. It's right in the order.

LEMON: Got it. So David, the president tweeted this today. He said, "Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are."

This is followed by a phone call with the president of Boeing's CEO, and the White House was later saying this. Watch.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly this is very early in the process. I think the first place we have to start is by offering our condolences.


LEMON: What's going on here?

SOUCIE: Well, I've got a good example for the president of the old style, and the FAA must be thinking the same way because right now we fought long and hard to get streaming data from the airplanes that we could look at and analyze online real-time. ADS-B does that. And we have information. We have information about the vertical speed that was erratic. It was all over the place. It was exactly -- not exactly but very similar, frighteningly similar to the prior accident that we had with Lion Air.

[23:55:01] So, you look at that and it's streaming data. It's there. It's right in front of you. But what does the FAA do? They say, well, we don't have any information. We don't have any facts. What we're going to do is we are going to wait until we get the black box out of the dirt. We're going to go take that. It's going to take a couple weeks to analyze. We're going to figure it out. In the meantime, we could have a lot of airplanes out there with the same problem and not know the difference.

So, here is a case in which technology is available. It is advanced, it is there, it is beneficial, it is something that really improves safety, but they are not using it, anyway.


SOUCIE: So, maybe that's what the president is referring to.

LEMON: David and Mary, thank you very much. I appreciate your time and your expertise.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.

LEMON: Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.