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Democrats Raise Concerns On Security Clearances Within The Trump Administration; Former Mayor Mitch Landrieu Was Interviewed About The Democrats' Lineup For 2020; Clock Is Ticking For A.G. Bill Barr; 2020 Presidential Race: Who Will Get The Nod In 2020?; Trump's Businesses And The Russians; College Student Found Dead After Getting Into A Car She Thought Was Her Uber; Continuing To Make The World A Better Place. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired April 1, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Serious questions being raised about the Trump administration's security clearance process including clearances for the president's daughter, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner. He spoke out earlier tonight on Fox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Over the last two years that I've been here, I've been accused of all different types of things and all those things have turned out to be false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said security clearance issues in the Trump White House are a million times worse than Hillary Clinton's e-mail server issues.
The oversight committee is looking into a whistleblower's allegations that the White House has given security clearances, quote, "without the proper analysis, documentation or a full understanding or acceptance of the risks."
We've also learned that the former personnel security director inside the Trump White House says he's willing to be interviewed by the oversight committee and asked not to be subpoenaed.
Also, tonight, President Trump still threatening to shut down the border with Mexico, but a top aide saying the president has yet to make a decision, and he is talking about healthcare again.
Just in the last few minutes, a lot has happened, and we're going to bring all of this to you this hour, so make sure you stay tuned.
Let's bring in now Max Boot. Max is the author of "Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Also, Susan Glasser is here, April Ryan as well. April is the author of "Under Fire Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House."
Good evening. Good to have all of you on.
Max, you first. I want to play more what Jared Kushner had to say earlier on Fox about a career White House security advisor who alleges the Trump pushed through security clearance for some 25 individuals including Kushner and Ivanka Trump, OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: A whistleblower from the White House has now given a private interview on Capitol Hill, Democrats. And she says that 25 individuals were able to leapfrog over the career people's concerns about security clearances, and they received security clearances in her view improperly. What's your reaction to that?
KUSHNER: Well, I can't comment for the White House's process. But what I can say is that over the last two years I've been here I've been accused of all different types of things and all those things have turned out to be false.
We've had a lot of crazy accusation like that we colluded with Russia. I complied with all the different investigations whether it be the Senate, the House, the special counsel. I sat for nearly 20 hours of interviews with them.
When it came to Washington, I had a very successful business career, I have extensive holdings. I disclosed all my holdings to the Office of Government Ethics. And what I did with that is they told me what to divest, what to keep, what rules to follow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was a long answer, Max. Did he answer the question? What do you make of that answer?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, no, of course. I mean, he is doing what folks in the Trump administration always do which is to deflect and deny and not really tell the truth. I mean, for Example Prince Jared lied to the fact that he had to amend his financial disclosure form reputedly because --
LEMON: Because he said in there that he disclosed all of his holdings. Is that true?
BOOT: No, it's not true. I mean, maybe he's finally disclosed them at the end of the process, but he had to make a record number of amendments because he very conveniently forgot a lot of his holdings to begin with.
[23:04:59] I mean, this, look, Don, this is serious potential security breach that this whistleblower is calling our attention to. The fact that you've had 25 individuals or the professional security folks in the White House recommend that they not receive a clearance and they received a clearance anyway.
And according to this whistleblower, I mean, among the disqualifying issues were foreign influence, conflicts of interest, financial problems, drug use and criminal conduct. I mean, do those sound like the kind of people who should have top secret security clearance?
I mean, it's all the more ironic that, of course, President Trump became president to some extent because he kept chanting lock her up, because he accused Hillary Clinton of practices that compromises American security, vis-a-vis, he private e-mail server. And as Democrats are now saying this is potentially a heck of a whole lot worse.
I mean, it began with Jared Kushner certainly, but it doesn't end with them. I mean, apparently there are at least 24 other individuals in addition to Jared Kushner whose clearances are the result of political action, not of the recommendation of the security professionals.
LEMON: I'm glad you mentioned Clinton because Elijah Cummings says -- this is for you, Susan, that this is much worse than the Clinton e- mail controversy. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I think this is a million times worse because what you have here are people who literally have the top secrets of the world, of the world. Of the world. And not just our country but of the world. With access to them, and they have not been properly cleared.
But even more dangerous than that, they have been -- their recommendations have gone out to say they shouldn't have them, and so that should alarm each and every American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I've got to ask you is he right, a million times worse than the Clinton scandal?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, look, Don, I have to say we're stuck in this endless loop of what aboutism, and you know, we can never escape from the trap of comparing everything to the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal.
These are utterly different and extremely troubling allegations that have a lot to do with the Trump administration, and nothing to do whatsoever as far as I can tell, you know, with the Obama or the Clinton administration. It's the kind of thing that if we didn't live in this toxic environment that anyone would be concerned about.
But what strikes e is that it's not just an isolated case of a whistleblower. This comports with really reliable reporting we've already had from inside the White House that the president himself personally had to overrule and order the White House chief of staff John Kelly to just go ahead and give Jared Kushner the clearance. You didn't hear that question, unfortunately, being asked of Jared
Kushner in that interview on Fox just now. I'd have really been interested in what his answer would be if he was asked directly that question.
Did your father-in-law intervene for you in order to grant you a security clearance? So, you have this sort of unique -- and that's the reason I say it's not really comparable at all to Hillary Clinton. You have this unique combination essentially of bringing the family business right inside the White House here with Jared Kushner.
But also, her -- the allegations of the whistleblower are that, that has now been turned into a systemic rewriting of the rules for security clearances that goes far beyond Jared Kushner and Ivanka.
For example, I thought it was very interesting in the story, very below is the negative that they've actually changed the entire vetting process for security clearances to eliminate, for example, doing credit reports on these would-be White House officials.
Well, why does that matter? Because you might find out if there was something in their financial history, in their credit history that made someone working in the White House vulnerable to blackmail, for example. Now we've just gotten rid of that.
LEMON: Yes. It's interesting. So, April, we always like to have you -- sometimes we call on you last because you're there every day to put a period on this. Everybody else is kind of at 30,000 feet. You're at ground zero every single day.
So, I want you to listen to Jared Kushner what he said about 2020 and then get your response. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: You were instrumental in the president's run in 2016. What are you seeing in this Democrat field? Any interesting characters, some more than others that you'd like to run against?
KUSHMER: Well, you look to 2020, what we're focused on is figuring out how do we, you know, keep building the best way possible. The president is going to have a fabulous campaign. I think he's got the right policies, and I think he's got the country on the right track. And I think that a lot of different policies that I see, a lot of these Democrats advocating for or offering I don't think that's where the country is.
KUSHNER: I don't think that's where the country is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK, give it to us, April. Is that team Trump's message?
[00:04:55] APRIL RYAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's team Trump's message. But let's get in the weeds. I mean, just today with prison reform Jared Kushner and the president were in the room together. The president was giving Jared all sorts of praise for this prison reform issue, the First Step Act.
Now they're looking to the second step. And they were saying it was bipartisan. They kept talking about bipartisanship with this and the broad range of people that were in the room. And those who benefited from that.
The president wants to pull in more Americans with the messages and the things that he likes. He keeps talking about, you know, black unemployment, Hispanic unemployment, and wages for the least of these, how they are the best ever.
That's how they think they're going to win, by the perception if not the truth, the perception of we're doing things for all America. Especially since right now there's not a break out Democrat yet. And it's still too early for that.
But at some point, there's going to have to be a break out person to really energize that Democratic base. So we will see who will go against the president. But Jared Kushner is following along the party line, following along his father-in-law's line, his dad's line, if you will, to try to make sure they secure 2020.
LEMON: Real quick, April, do they mention healthcare as being part of their message at all? Because the president said we're going to make this, you know, the Republicans a party of health care.
LEMON: You said no.
RYAN: They didn't bring that up to today. They didn't bring. They are trying to figure out how to do this. Because right now the numbers don't add up as to what they are trying to do.
RYAN: You know, the president said that he was not going to take away pre-existing conditions. You have a vast majority of Americans who have pre-existing conditions.
And let's just talk about women having a baby, a C-section is a pre- existing condition. So, they've got to fix this before they can own it and say we've done something great.
LEMON: OK. OK. So, with that said, Max, I'm going to give this to you. President Trump is tweeting tonight with no details that the Republicans are going to come up with a great plan to replace health care and the Senate will vote on it after the election when they keep the Senate and when because the House -- I mean win back the house, I should say. I mean, more governing on a whim and by tweet?
BOOT: Yes. I mean, in terms of serious policy proposals this would be right up there with Trump saying that he is going to mandate that every American can eat as much ice cream as he or she wants and never gain a pound. And that's going to happen right after the next election if you just vote for the Republicans.
I mean, this is not a serious proposal. There is no Republican healthcare plan, and there cannot possibly be any Republican healthcare plan that offers better coverage at lower cost than the Affordable Care Act. It's impossible.
It simply cannot be done, and there's a reason why Republicans have never, ever in the last nine years come up with an alternative, Don, to the Affordable Care Act because they don't have an alternative. There is no plan that will cover --
LEMON: Don't confuse people, Max. Because some people think that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are two different things. You mean Obamacare when you're saying the Affordable Care Act.
BOOT: I mean Obamacare. Yes.
BOOT: The formal name being the Affordable Care Act Obamacare Republicans have been complaining about it for nine years but they have never had an alternative.
LEMON: But they had, he said, Max, not to cut you off but in this tweet when he said when we win the House back, well, he had the house and the Senate and they didn't do it.
BOOT: Yes, exactly. They could not repeal Obamacare in 2017 with Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate in large part because they didn't have an alternative. And how on earth are they going to repeal it in the future.
And now he's holding out some kind of magical thinking that some time, you now, after the next election Republicans will supposedly win both Houses as well as the presidency and then they will come up with magical formula which nobody has ever seen in which they are not actually seriously working on Capitol Hill. I mean, this is really testing the gullibility of Trump's base of if the president thinks that people will actually buy this.
LEMON: Yes. Interesting conversation. I've got to run, though. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
Look at that. We're less than an hour away, you know what it is, from that deadline. The one set by House judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler for the attorney general to turn over the full Mueller report to Congress. Now what?
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Time is running out. Look at the clock. We're less than an hour away from the deadline Democrats set for the attorney general to provide full Mueller report and its underlying evidence to Congress. So what's in that report, and does it support the president's claims?
Let's discuss now, former Assistant General, Walter Dellinger and the former Federal Prosecutor, Laura Coates. They are both here to drop some knowledge, so thank you both.
Walter, in your new piece for the Washington Post this is what you outlined. "How the Mueller report can still threaten Trump's legitimacy." And you say what's in the special counsel's report could challenge the president's claim that he is been exonerated. What are you basing that on since none of this has been yet?
WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right, Don, it's important to emphasize that we haven't seen the Mueller report. But here's what I'm basing it on. First of all, and I wrote this even before it was going to be 400 pages, but I was quite convinced that the first third of it has got to be a detailed account of the Russian's extraordinary efforts to intervene and influence our presidential election.
And that that counterintelligence part alone is going to be so damning because of the absence of any response on the part of the president who has done nothing to defend us against that attack. So that's part of it.
Secondly, on the question of whether any U.S. persons with the campaign were criminally complicit in that, that's the one part I think where the Trump presidency could claim the most vindication.
But the special counsel quite properly according to Barr set a very high standard. There had been to be an actual agreement, tacit or expressed, but an actual agreement with the Russians.
[23:19:55] But finally, the part of the report that deals with obstruction of justice we know is going to be damning for what is out there in the world, and the fact that Attorney General Barr says it has the evidence of both pro and con on the president's criminality, doesn't tell you what the weight of that evidence is. It could be quite damaging.
LEMON: Laura, I want to bring you in now. First, I want to play what the acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney told Jake Tapper. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It's done now. The report is there. It's extraordinarily thorough as you know. I think they talked to 500 people, issued 200 subpoenas and it completely exonerates the president. There is no collusion. There is no obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Is the White House perpetuating a false narrative?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Because they report as from excavate (ph) to us through Barr, actually uses the word exonerates. It does not exonerate him with the respect to the obstruction of justice element of it, and that part is actually quite critical. While they are down-playing that particular aspect. Now remember it had an impact on two former presidents, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
It's not to look at lightly because the president is the head of the executive branch of government.
And let's just think for a second what Walter is talking about the notion of the counter intelligence probe is how this all began. There was no collusion according to the reporting, meaning there was no complicity, there was no action by somebody explicitly to try and work with a foreign power to try to influence an election.
But perhaps the obstruction element was knowing the counter intelligence report existed. That investigation existed. And instead you tried to obstruct the investigation into how that happened in and of itself.
That's part of the issue that actually made Robert Mueller unable to reach an actual conclusion. That can't be taken lightly. And the narrative that it's all done with we can all wipe our hand to clean with it is actually incomplete and false.
CHURCH: Walter, this is what a new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll shows, 40 percent of Americans say that what they know of the Mueller report does not clear the president, President Trump, while 29 percent say it does.
And then another 31 percent say they are just not, they're just unsure. And I can understand that 31 percent because they haven't -- we haven't seen the full report. Does that mean Americans aren't buying Trump's total exoneration claim?
DELLINGER: Well, it appears that nearly one third of Americans are, which is disturbing given that even Barr's account says that it is not exonerated by Mueller. You know, what's going to be critical is how much of the report the world gets to see.
There were some intimations today that the president was suggesting that he might order the attorney general not to turn any of it over. Reversing himself on that. I think it that happened the Attorney General Barr would, should, and would resign if the president tries to stop the submission of the report.
LEMON: Laura, here's what Benjamin Wittes, the editor of the blog, "Lawfare," and someone who's been critical of the president. This is what he says. "The attorney general promised transparency when it comes to the Mueller report and that we should wait to see what William Barr delivers to Congress." Does Barr deserve the benefit of the doubt until then? COATES: Well, I think Barr deserves people to give him the
opportunity to put the complete report out there. That is true. However, the pace of that is going to be critical in assessing whether or not that benefit of the doubt should extend further.
Remember this is somebody who prior to becoming the attorney general wrote a 19-page memorandum that happens to coincide with his exact conclusion that he has reached about obstruction now. And so that benefit is actually a very short leash.
I will say, however, it does include grand jury testimony. There are national security considerations. We do want them to be thoughtful and prudent about what is released particularly given that it was an actual counter intelligence probe.
Having said that, if there is an information with respect to particularly the obstruction of justice aspect of it that leaves the Mueller, the person who for 22 months was unable to reach a conclusion, well, surely the Congress needs to have a right to see it and the American people.
And so, if he is trying to withhold information because he doesn't want anyone to second guess his particular determination, that is not fair and that is not judicious. If he's holding it to be prudent, then he does deserve the benefit of the doubt. But of course, that remains to be seen. He was able in 48 hours to give a four-page synopsis. Suddenly it will take weeks if not months to give the extended version.
LEMON: All right. Laura and Walter, thank you for your time. I appreciate it. The race for the Democratic nomination is getting crowded and some big names have yet to announce a run. I'm going to talk to a rising star who decided to sit it down. Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, next.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The Democratic field for the 2020 nomination already crowded yet some pretty big names are waiting in the wings.
I want to talk about this with the man who knows the political landscape like the back of his hand, and that's Mr. Landrieu, the former Democratic Mayor of New Orleans. And he joins me now. Thank you for joining us, Mayor. I appreciate it.
FORMER MAYOR MITCHELL LANDRIEU (D), NEW ORLEANS: Hey.
LEMON: Let's talk 2020, shall we?
LANDRIEU: It's great to be here. Thank you.
LANDRIEU: Yes, sure.
So, the two front runners in the polls are two white men, they are in their 70s. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Certainly, don't reflect the current demographics of the Democratic Party. So how do you see them doing in the primary or potentially in a general?
LANDRIEU: Well, you know, first of all, the field is very crowded. We have a large crowded field of very exciting people that span the spectrum, men, women, African-American, white, Hispanic and they're coming up with lots of ideas. They're out there working hard, and this is going to be a very long campaign, and it's not a sprint. It's a marathon as you know. And everybody's going to have to get out there and compete.
And basically, from what we've been able to see already it's going to be a kind of rough and tumble primary season so everybody needs to get ready.
LEMON: Yes. OK. So, listen, so in the question, let's break this down a little bit, because there were two white men in their 70s. Does it matter if they're white men? Does it matter if they match the demographics of the party? Doesn't it just matter whether they can beat Trump whether they're 70 or 17 --
LEMON: -- well, you can't be 17 --
LEMON: -- but 35 or whatever it is. Does it really matter?
[23:30:04] LANDRIEU: Well, my best guess is political junkies. They're going to get into all of the details. But for the American public, I think the number one qualification is who is best positioned to beat Donald Trump so that we can help secure this country, turn it around and then prepare it for the future. Whoever makes that case to the American people, I think, is the one that will ultimately prevail and will ultimately beat President Trump.
LEMON: Mayor Pete Buttigieg is getting a lot of buzz. What do you think about him? I just want to get your reaction to a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll where combined 68 percent of Americans say they would be comfortable or enthusiastic with a gay candidate. What do you think?
LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, I know Pete Buttigieg. He is a great guy. He's also been a really great mayor. He's a veteran. He speaks six languages. He's very talented, he's 36 years old, and he happens to be gay as well. I think that says a lot about the American public and how far that we've come when we can focus on the person rather than what the people consider them to be. So I think that's a good step. He's done really, really well.
Kamala Harris today posted a number of, I think, $12 million in it. So that's really good. You know, you see the most diverse field that was been seen in a long time. And of course, the incredible thing about elections and I love them is it's the beginning of a peaceful transition of power and it gives the American people a really good opportunity to listen to what great ideas there are about what's going to move the country forward.
Each one of these candidates is going to have to perform because as I said, this is a marathon, it is not a sprint. And, you know, from now until Election Day is a very long time for these candidates to show up every day and to show what they're really made of.
LEMON: Do you think that the Democratic Party is doing themselves more harm than good by -- you heard what came out about Joe Biden, to continue to cannibalize each other?
LANDRIEU: No, I don't think that that's a great idea. I do think it is rough and tumble. I do think we ought to be very aggressive in the marketplace of ideas and concentrate on that and not necessarily on personalities.
But at the end of the day, you have to stand the test of time. I mean the person that is going to serve as president of the United States not only has to represent the Democratic Party but most importantly and first has to represent the American people.
Every time you're in a primary, whether you're in the Republican primary or Democratic primary, it's always going to skew to the most excited folks that are in the party. At the end of the day, though, the general election is won in the middle of the country.
And the person, I believe, that convinces Americans that can secure the country and make us safe and restore our dignity, stabilize us and then prepare us for our future will be the one that eventually wins because at the end of the day, the only test that matters is who is best positioned to beat President Trump.
And so when the Democrats are comparing themselves to each other and denigrating themselves, the question ultimately is compared to what, and the answer to that is compared to President Trump. And that is going to be the litmus test as we get closer to Election Day.
LEMON: So all those things you just said including the best person to repair the racial divisions that have been intensified since this president, who do you think is best at this point?
LANDRIEU: Well, I think -- listen, I think that's a hard thing to say. I think it's way too early. All of these candidates from my perspective seem to be hitting their marks. Kamala Harris is doing really, really well. You know, Stacey Abrams is still -- they are talking about it. Pete Buttigieg is really kind of "blow in the roof off" of expectations at this point.
Vice President Biden hasn't yet announced and he's winning in every poll. He had a difficult weekend, but my guess is that he'll recover from that as well. And I think that especially you and I being from the south know that race is a very important issue if not the issue.
LANDRIEU: And I'm not sure that you can get through the Democratic primary without actually figuring out how to navigate the challenges that the African-American community has had in this country and speak directly to it in a very forceful way.
LEMON: I don't want to linger on this next question because I know you -- you talk about it a lot. You've taken yourself out. You're not running, right?
LANDRIEU: I am not running.
LEMON: OK. So, if you're not running, then you're not running. There's lot to talk among the Democratic -- some of the Democratic hopefuls, that the Electoral College should be abolished, even they're trying to pass legislation, the Senate Democrats. Do you think it should be -- you're in a red state, should we get rid of the Electoral College?
LANDRIEU: Well, I like to be counted. I never really understood what the impetus was for the Electoral College to begin with. I know the founding fathers thought it was a beautiful idea. We've had it since the beginning of time, so you don't change those things lightly.
It is a little bit painful to watch the party who has lost the popular vote on a number of successive elections not being able to govern or to have a Congress thwart the actual will of the American people. I think that's something worth looking at. I'm not sure I'd recommend it at this point, but it is something that we should certainly think about.
LEMON: Thank you, mayor. I appreciate your time.
LANDRIEU: All right, Don, great talking to you.
LEMON: The Mueller investigation may be over, but a lot of unanswered questions remain, especially when it comes to Trump's businesses. My next guest claims that the president and the Russians are -- his words, thick as thieves.
[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has come to a close, though he is still waiting to see -- we're still waiting to see the report. But my next guest says that regardless of what the Mueller investigation found, "President Trump and the Russians are thick as thieves."
I'm joined now by the man who said that, who wrote that, Craig Unger, the author of the new book called "House of Trump, House of Putin." Good to have you on. Good to see you.
CRAIG UNGER, AUTHOR: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: So, thick as thieves, you say. And you elaborate it in your piece in The Washington Post.
[23:39:55] You say, "What I mean is that for more than three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to the Russian Mafia held the deeds to, lived in or ran criminal operations out of Trump Tower in New York or other Trump properties. I mean that many of them used Trump-branded real estate to launder vast amounts of money by buying multimillion-dollar condos through anonymous shell companies."
How did all of this fly under the radar?
UNGER: Well, it's shocking to me because the FBI had to be keeping an eye on some of this. But I go back 35 years to 1984, when a guy named David Bogatin met with Donald Trump. Bogatin was part of Russian mafia. He went to Trump Tower. He sat down. He had $6 million in cash. It is the equivalent of about $15 million a day. And he said I'll take five condors. That's in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue where the president lives, where he works. That is the crown jewel of his empire.
And he was effectively laundering money for the Russian mafia and that happened again and again and again over the last 35 years.
LEMON: By them, you said effectively, you're claiming he was effectively, meaning by them buying the condos?
UNGER: Right. This is criminal money. Now, we don't know what Donald Trump knew about that money. I can't prove that --
LEMON: You said that Trump has repeatedly said that he had no dealings, right? But in an interview with The New York Times, he once said this, Mr. Unger. He said, "I mean it's possible there's a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows?"
No evidence that he was involved in the strategy to sell these condos to Russian mafia figures.
UNGER: There's a legal concept called willful ignorance, where deliberately turning a blind eye to things, and what you have to look at in this is how often did this happen. And I'm not a lawyer, but I think a good prosecutor might make a case that this just didn't happen three or four times.
There were at least 1,300 Trump branded condos that were sold with the criteria that they were either in anonymous shell companies and they were both anonymous shell companies and all cash purchases. So that's an extraordinary amount of money laundering. And one of the key elements in all of this is that Russian mafia is really an arm of the Russian state. They work hand in hand with Russian intelligence.
And I interviewed General Oleg Kalugin, who had been head of counterintelligence for the KGB, and he told me, oh, the Russian mafia, that is an arm of the KGB. So, it's really disturbing when you look at his 35-year period and you see again and again Russian mafia also who are laundering through it, who are running operations there, who are living there, and they are in the home of the president of the United States.
LEMON: OK, when you said willful ignorance, is this why you say that this Russian mob money that was sunk into the Trump Tower properties, that it's legal? Why do you say it's legal?
UNGER: By legal, I mean, it's very hard for a prosecutor to make a case if you can't prove what was going on in Trump's mind. And so far no one has done it. I've asked again and again why prosecutors didn't pursue this. I mean, I think it goes to what may be one of the essential contradictions in all this case.
If you remember, Felix Sater who was with Bayrock, and the Bayrock Group was in Trump Tower, and after making all that money laundering money for the Russian mafia, Trump still went on to Atlantic City. He blew $4 billion to overexpansion. And again, Russians came to his aide. And Bayrock is a real estate development company that took up residence in Trump Tower.
They partnered with Donald Trump, and they made him an offer he couldn't refuse. They said we'll put up all the money and we'll give 18 percent to 25 percent of the profits. We just want to franchise your name. And in the world of franchising, that's a huge, huge feeder pay for Donald Trump.
LEMON: Fascinating. Fascinating. "House of Putin, House of Trump." Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
UNGER: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: Thank you, Craig Unger. There it is right there. "House of Trump, House of Putin."
LEMON: Same difference. Thank you, sir. A South Carolina college student found dead hours after she got into a car that she thought was her Uber. We're going to talk to two students from the university where she attended next.
[23:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Shock and sadness on a campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia. A 21-year-old student was murdered early Friday morning after mistakenly getting into a vehicle that she thought was her Uber. Samantha Josephson's body was later found in a field.
Joining me now is Maddox McKibben-Greene, the news editor of "The Daily Gamecock," student newspaper. Also, T. Michael Boddie, the paper's managing editor. Thank you both for coming on this evening to talk about this story. T. Michael, this is -- I mean, it's horrific. Samantha was just a month away from graduation, on the verge of starting law school in September. What's been the reaction to this loss on campus?
T. MICHAEL BODDIE, MANAGING EDITOR, "THE DAILY GAMECOCK": I would say that the main reaction I've been seeing and feeling on campus is just sort of (INAUDIBLE), especially just most of the factors of, you know, her situation. I'm also about a month away from graduation. Most students that I know especially myself have Ubered home at 2:00 a.m. from the Five Points area. So a lot of what happened other than the horrific details were relatable to us as student journalists and to our peers all across campus.
[23:50:03] LEMON: Yeah. Listen, you know, things are different now than when I was in school because we've gone from having it ingrained to (INAUDIBLE) not to get into a car with strangers, just doing that because of ride share services, car pulls up, especially if it's black or whatever. It looks like an Uber and you get in. This is a wakeup call for students, right?
MADDOX MCKIBBEN-GREENE, NEWS EDITOR, THE DAILY GAMECOCK: I do think so. I did attend the vigil for Samantha Josephson and her father spoke at it. And he did say -- he made it personal for us. He said you all take Ubers. He said to himself, I take Ubers. I work, I travel. And so I think that really brings it home. And I think that is a big part of the reason that the community is kind of coming together and the campus is really coming together in the wake of this tragedy.
LEMON: This is a clip from Samantha's father, you just mentioned him, at this campus vigil. It was yesterday. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEYMOUR JOSEPHSON, FATHER OF SAMANTHA JOSEPHSON: You get into an Uber. You don't know if it's an Uber. You don't know anything about it. If there are two of you, something less likely will happen. Samantha was by herself. She had absolutely no chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Do you think, since you mentioned it, Maddox, do you think that these services need to be doing something differently, meaning the ride share services?
MCKIBBEN-GREENE: Well, I do know that Representative Seth Rose proposed a bill called the Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act to then be filed tomorrow, actually to be filed tomorrow to call Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services to be required by law to put illuminated signs on their windshields.
Because as of right now, I believe they are only required to put reflective stickers on their windshields. So I think that going the distance and making them more distinguishable from perhaps other vehicles could be helpful.
LEMON: And --
BODDIE: I'm sort of agreeing.
LEMON: Go ahead, T. Michael.
BODDIE: I was just going to say I didn't really -- I don't know if I have the authority to measure how much responsibility Uber or Lyft or even us students really have right now in those situations because it's just we're sort of coming off the weekend of the coverage of this story in general.
And I guess I haven't had much time to think about that. But I mean I do think it's perfectly logical. It makes sense that people are talking about it and discussing it at this point.
LEMON: It does. If you go -- I use Uber. It has the license plate number, the type of car, usually the driver says, you know, I'm here for Don, I'm here for something. But, you know, if you're hanging out or it's loud or whatever, you don't really know. I mean, right? Because you're just used to this car showing up and you get in it.
Your college president has promised to do everything it could to prevent another, you know, such death. What steps would you guys like to see taken? Do you think there are enough safe transportation options? What would you like to see? First is Maddox.
MCKIBBEN-GREENE: I know there is a shuttle service that runs through Five Points. I would like to see the accessibility and also the -- how much is advertised. I would like to see that be increased for university- affiliated transportation to get to students to have that message, get to students a little bit more clearly. And I think that would probably be my primary concern and the primary move in this situation, I think.
LEMON: You're a graduating student too, T. Michael, what advice do you have?
BODDIE: Yeah. I also do think that the existing transportation options the students have could be sort of marketed better so that more students understand that they're available and can use them. I remember I lived in an apartment complex once that even the apartment complex had a shuttle to and from Five Points on like the more popular nights to go out, like Thursday through Saturday.
And I think that's definitely something that could be done. We even talked this morning a little bit about possibly making that area pedestrian only during certain hours just to ensure the safety of the students. And I actually live in that area, but I still wouldn't be opposed to it, even it made it harder to get to my house. I think it's great to take measures like that.
LEMON: I think it's -- listen, everybody is mourning the loss and it's just awful.
LEMON: And a word of advice to the kids that are out there. I call them kids but young folks. Safety in numbers. Safety in numbers. And stay together. Don't get in a car by yourself late at night. Make sure you have a bunch of friends with you whatever you're doing. Just be safe. Be aware. Thank you. I appreciate it. Good luck. We'll be right back.
MCKIBBEN-GREENE: Thank you.
BODDIE: Thank you so much. [23:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
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