Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) is Interviewed About Congress' Right to See Trump's Tax Returns; Prosecutor: Chinese Woman in Mar-a-Lago Arrest "Lies to Everyone"; Kamala Harris' Record As a Prosecutor Could Haunt Her on Trail. Aired on 7-8p ET
Aired April 8, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. You can tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: OUTFRONT next, the Trump bloodbath, a major purge happening right now inside the White House as the President says he even wants to separate families who come in through legal ports of entry. Plus the White House saying tonight the public has no right to see the President's tax returns. What is it that Trump doesn't want us to know? And the Mar-A-Lago security breach. Why did the Chinese woman who tried to gain access to the President's private club allegedly have a device to detect hidden cameras? Let's go out front. And Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, "He just wants to separate families." That is a quote from a senior Trump administration official who tells CNN that tonight about President Trump. Multiple sources tell CNN that Trump says he wants to expand his family separation policy and there's an explicit detail here. He wants to separate families even if they come to the United States at a legal port of entry.
And tonight his Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, is gone. A woman who parroted the President's words now no longer extreme enough and there is a purge going on tonight. Trump ousting senior officials fast and furiously. The Secret Service officials they're finding out their boss was ousted today from CNN, the Director of the Secret Service's Randolph Alles. Also, of course, Kirstjen Nielsen out and the would-be Head of ICE, Ron Vitiello, who just saw his nomination pulled.
And the bloodbath isn't over, sources tell CNN there are other senior officials whose jobs are on the chopping block this hour and that means fear, uncertainty, chaos, nothing getting done, and it's getting worse. Jake Tapper tonight also learning of an explosive meeting in the Oval Office two Thursdays ago. The President ordering Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to shut down one of the largest ports of entry into the United States from Mexico. That's the port of El Paso. The President wanted that border close and he was explicit in this
meeting. He said, "I want to close the next day." That would be - this meeting was on a Thursday, "Tomorrow, Friday, at noon, I want it closed." According to a person in that room, the President was ranting and raving as he said this. Nielsen warning him that closing of ports was a bad and dangerous idea and, again, tonight she's gone. So let's be clear, someone who said these things was not extreme enough when push came to shove for President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Let me be clear, walls work.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Yes or no, are we still putting children in cages?
NIELSEN: To my knowledge, CBP never purposely put a child in a cage if you mean a cage like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you intending for this to play out as it is playing out? Are you intending for parents to be separated from their children? Are you intending to send a message?
NIELSEN: I find that offensive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Kaitlan Collins is out front live outside the White House. And Kaitlan, look, you have this breaking news on the President wanting to expand the family separation policy, this purge going on. And the big question is, of course, who's helping the President? Who's aiding and abetting him in engineering this?
KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, as far as Nielsen's ouster, Stephen Miller certainly played a pretty critical role in that. He often complained about Nielsen to Trump, with President Trump and President Trump held her responsible for that recent spike in illegal immigration crossings down at the border. But it wasn't just her, she kind of was on an island in the West Wing, essentially, because she butted heads with the Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, she didn't get along with the National Security Adviser John Bolton and she also wasn't on close terms with Jared Kushner either, all people who the President values their opinion greatly.
So essentially she was alone and had few if any allies left in the West Wing to defend her when the President was holding her responsible for immigration problems.
BURNETT: So you have, as you say, Stephen Miller obviously playing a more and more central role. Obviously, his views on immigration are extreme and obviously he's one of the youngest members also of this White House, what, 31, 32 years old. This comes as the president also wants the current Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Kevin McAleenan to take over as the Acting Homeland Security Secretary. What should that name mean to people watching, Kaitlan? What's his relationship with the President?
COLLINS: Well, that's interesting because there's already someone in line to take over if Nielsen ever left. That's Claire Grady, she's the Acting Deputy Secretary right now. But instead, the President has picked the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, someone he does not have a great relationship with. They don't know each other well, I'm told by several sources. Though he did travel with President Trump to the border last week.
Until the President Trump started to notice him after McAleenan held this press conference where he said that essentially immigration enforcement was at a breaking point because of the recent surge in migrant families trying to cross the border. Now, he also has some fans in the West Wing, especially in Jared Kushner.
Two people say that Jared Kushner likes McAleenan a lot. But, Erin, the question is going to be here, the laws on immigration are not changing immediately. The President can't change them the way that he's been able to fire the people that have been ousted in recent days. And Kevin McAleenan is not seen as some idealogue, some hardliner who's going to be taking over.
They say, essentially, they think he'll run things the way Nielsen was running things. So that's the question, does anything actually change, and what is the President's response to that, and how does he hold McAleenan responsible? Now, we should note McAleenan is going to be there in an acting position. The President hasn't nominated him to be the permanent secretary where he'd have to go through the confirmation process.
So it's kind of going to be one of those wait and see things. The President will see if he likes the job he's doing.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. And I want to go straight now to the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson. Congressman, I appreciate your time. So let's just start with it, obviously, we're learning about the ranting and raving, these meetings, a policy the President wanted to expand, Stephen Miller, obviously, we are learning quite central to all of this.
What do you think about his influence over the President right now? We're talking, of course, about 33 year old, Stephen Miller, who was one of the crucial in the travel ban and obviously a huge advocate of separating families at the border.
THOMPSON: Well, it's nice to have young people around but it's also nice to have people around who get it. These extreme views that Mr. Miller put forth are not who we are as Americans. So I think what we have to do is to say to the President, "Mr. President, we're a national laws and laws are clear with respect to immigration." Anytime you try to make those laws out to be something other than what they are, then you exactly have the chaos that we're having along the border now. BURNETT: So when we're reporting tonight that the President wants to
expand the separating families at the border and, in fact, he wants to do that to families that come in at legal ports of entry, a family seeking asylum, do you think he has the right to do that, Chairman?
THOMPSON: Well, absolutely. This family separation issue is what really brought all of the conflict and chaos at the border to the forefront. The President has to follow the law. No one is above the law. The courts have determined that many of the policies he's trying to implement absolutely illegal. The return to Mexico policy, the Muslim travel ban that he tried.
A lot of things that we're involved in is simply because the President wants to have it his way, but that's not --
BURNETT: Do you think it's black and white on separating families?
THOMPSON: Oh, no question about it. Why on God's green earth would we separate children from their families? We are better country than that. And so to separate them and then not know where their parents are, in many instances we don't know who the children are, and so what I'll say to this administration, we have to get it right. You're doing absolute harm, not to just the people who are trying to get here, but to the value of what America means to the rest of the world.
BURNETT: Now, obviously, this is something that when the President started doing it was roundly criticized on both sides of the aisle. Now we're hearing that what he's saying in some of these meetings which have been so tumultuous and explosive where he's been ranting and raving is that he thinks it works. It will deter people from coming to the United States if you separate families. Obviously --
THOMPSON: Well, if you look at the statistics, it's having the opposite effect and so what we have to do is to say, "Look, you can't cut off the State Department monies to the Northern Triangle countries. You can't meter people who will come into the border. You can't have the return to Mexico policy.
All of these things have been created by this administration. The zero tolerance thing, putting children in cages. All of these things go against who we are as Americans. Our system of values is more than just that.
BURNETT: So you do have some Republicans speaking out tonight, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, your colleague, Republican Senator Ron Johnson says, "I'm concerned with the growing leadership void within the department tasked with addressing some of the most significant problems facing the nation." Referring, of course, to Nielsen. John Cornyn telling CNN also today, "Losing senior leadership at these important positions that's bound to make the President and the administration's jobs harder not easier." Is this enough or is this all talk and no action from your Republican colleagues?
THOMPSON: Well, principally not all talk and no action. I'm surprised that they are saying anything. All of the things that have occurred up to this point that has happened to children and all of that, most of my colleagues have been quiet.
You can't run a department with over 220,000 employees with part-time leadership and now you're trying to put people in office that probably violate the law that Congress passed, so the President has to follow the law. If he wants to talk to Democrats, come talk to us. You don't have to tweet us, you just come right to Capitol Hill and we'll talk to you.
BURNETT: I'm wondering what you think they'll look, you've said that Kirstjen Nielsen was unable to lead and stand up to the President for his 'misguided wall obsessed anti-immigrant agenda', that's a quote from you. But we're learning that Nielsen despite all of the times which I showed and there's many more of them where she said exactly what he wanted her to say when he wanted her to say it, she did push back at the President in these meetings.
She said the law wouldn't allow it. Now, maybe she might try to find workarounds within the law but she wanted to stay with rule of law. She's gone, what if her replacement, her full replacement when there is one doesn't even try to cite the law, could this get worse in your opinion?
THOMPSON: Well, there's no question. He's trying to find a puppet to run the Department of Homeland Security. We have to have professionals. We are nation of laws. So to put anybody other than a professional in that position is doing a disservice to the men and women who put their lives on the line every day. So I say to the President, don't send us a puppet to run the Department of Homeland Security, send us a professional.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Chairman. I appreciate your time tonight.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Attorney General Bill Barr about to testify before Congress days before he's expected to release the Mueller report. Plus, forget about being under audit, the White House now has a new reason Trump's tax returns won't see the light of day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The public has no right to see those. Just think about the precedent that sets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And stunning new details about what officials found in the hotel room of the Chinese woman accused of lying her way into Mar-A- Lago; thousands in cash, electronic devices that can detect hidden cameras and more. It sure sounds like she was a spy.
[19:15:00] Breaking news, just hours before Attorney General Bill Barr faces
Congress, we're learning just how critical Democrats planned to be about his four-page memo that he doesn't want us to call a summary on Bob Mueller's report. OK, we have some excerpts just coming into CNN and the Appropriations Committee chairwoman Nita Lowey will say tomorrow, "I must say, it is extraordinary to evaluate hundreds of pages of evidence, legal documents, and findings based on a 22-month long inquiry, and make definitive legal conclusions in less than 48 hours. Even for someone who has done this job before, I would argue it is more suspicious than impressive."
Out front now, former Chief of the Organized Crime Section at the Department of Justice, James Trusty, also a longtime friend of Rod Rosenstein who, of course, oversaw Mueller. The former Federal Prosecutor Laura Coates and former Senior Counsel at the State Department under President Obama, Austin Evers.
So James let me start with you, here we are, this is setting the tone for what this is going to be like tomorrow. What do you think about the point that Chairwoman Nita Lowey is going to make though that it doesn't matter how experienced you are to take 48 hours to come out and say, "I'm not going to charge an obstruction of justice and here's my summary," that I understand he doesn't want us to call a summary. With all of that that went into it, 22 months and 10s of thousands of pages is more suspicious than impressive, what do you say?
JAMES TRUSTY, FORMER CHIEF OF THE ORGANIZED CRIME SECTION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: That's a pretty thin gruel. I mean the reality is, this was not something dropped out of thin air on the Attorney General. He's been supervising this, he's been catching up with it, undoubtedly knew the general substance of it. So it's not like somebody that just has a 400-page book dropped on their lap and told, "Give me a four- page book report tomorrow morning."
He had an idea what was coming. He gave a brief summary. I don't think that there's anything particularly sensational about that concept. It's an executive summary. We get them all of the time.
BURNETT: Well, I got a correction because apparently it's not a summary.
BURNETT: But that's just a separate issue. No, I'm saying it laughingly because it's an absurd thing.
TRUSTY: I know.
BURNETT: But Laura, what do you think about the point that the Chairwoman is making? It certainly sets the tone for what we're going to see for Bill Barr tomorrow. Do you think that there's anything more to the substance of it than James does?
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, first, I don't think anyone is going to mention the word budget tomorrow talking to Bill Barr. They're going to be talking about issues like this in the Mueller report.
BURNETT: Right. By the way I should note to everybody as you're pointing out, that's the topic of this.
BURNETT: The hearing is supposed to be about the budget and obviously you're saying it won't be. Go ahead.
COATES: It's supposed to be, but in reality it'll be about this. And likely because, remember, while he did provide a four-page distillation, I guess, of everything else, he provided a 19-page version of it back in what December of last year when he was sending it to Rod Rosenstein and company. It took him 19 pages to talk about why he thought that obstruction was unavailable or an untenable claim before he had information to the facts before him.
So you would think that in an exhaustive comprehensive 19-page letter before you know the facts, it does seem odd to devote less than what, a page and a half to this issue. Having said that, it's true, he probably has been being up to speed and (inaudible) over time. But again it is a very quick turnaround given the total information and all of the classified data he says is there.
BURNETT: So awesome - I mean, look, we're going to watch this and it's going to be kind of painful because he's going say, "I can only say what I can say, because the report isn't out," which she's going to then - he's supposedly putting out in the next few days.
He repeatedly, Austin, that is Bill Barr, said he'll make as much information from the Mueller report available consistent with the law, OK? Now, that's obviously the crucial caveat and the law according to Barr has four areas where he would redact, which means we'll never see it. It'll be those big black pull-throughs on the page. Grand Jury material information that the intelligence community says could compromise sources and methods, information about ongoing investigations and information that could harm the privacy and reputations of peripheral players.
So if this is between 300 and 400 pages, how many are we going to see if those are the four areas he's going to redact, Austin?
AUSTIN EVERS, FORMER SENIOR COUNSEL AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think we'd go to his initial statement promising transparency and I think we need to hold him to that and I think Congress will. If you look at his letters since that four-page distillation which I think is a good word, he's been reciting the basic outlines of what DOJ would normally withhold from Congress.
And so I don't think we should take too much from that recitation. At the end of the day, what I hope is that he redacts as little as possible certainly with what he gives to Congress and anything that he does redact he justifies line by line so Congress and hopefully the public can litigate it. They can argue with the Department of Justice over what the public interest requires in this case. If you look at precedent, past special counsels and just the law at D.C. Circuit Supreme Court, there's a lot weighing in favor of disclosure here and I think Barr knows that.
BURNETT: What do you say, James? Are we going to get 300 pages of 400? Are we going to get 30? And is he going to justify any of the black mark outs?
TRUSTY: Well, I don't think the distillation is going to be longer than what we see next. I mean look, there's going to be read actions. It's kind of a joke to pretend there won't be, because at least at the very least, the Grand Jury secrecy rule, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) is going to dictate that big chunks get taken out. Really, I think, even if there's a line or two out, people are going to see what they want to see and say there's something wrong with it.
TRUSTY: But, basically, no matter the state of some of these other more policy-oriented redactions would be, 6(e) requires a court order for release and it's not really a grounds for a court order to say, we really, really want to read this stuff. Really what happens typically is the court releases it because there's a litigant in play. There's a defense attorney representing someone who has a witness on the stand who previously testified in Grand Jury. That you're entitled to because you have to be able to assess that witness in front of the jury. That's a very different kind of situation than just saying the public wants to see it.
BURNETT: It is interesting though, Laura, because anything that is blacked out could be any of the above, which is going to - I mean, basically, what I'm getting at is are we going to know much more when we see this? Because you could say this is blacked out because it's sources and methods or because it's an ongoing investigation, "Oh, there might be something else there," if that's what you want to see there or it's blacked out because it's a peripheral player and there never was anything to see here. I mean are we really going to have any resolution when we see this?
COATES: Well, I think Congress should ask for a kind of redaction law that actually does code it in a way that you're talking about to give some information whether it's classified. And, of course, Congress has already taken issue with that. They can't see classified data. There are more than sufficient parameters in place in Congress to be able to view classified data without an issue.
Also, there is a precedent that's been set by the GOP just last year when they were able to view documents about ongoing sensitive things about this very investigation. And also the idea that the Grand Jury testimony, it may be extensive but from what we know from the actual reporting and what the Mueller report may have how the investigation is done. There were hundreds of voluntary informational witnesses and interviews as well, so there should be a lot of things there to actually look at to chew on.
And finally, the idea of whether or not it'll be shown to the public is really the last piece of the puzzle. What Congress can see and what we can see will actually be the next of the battles.
BURNETT: So Austin when that battle happens, Chairman Nadler of House Judiciary Committee said he wants Bob Mueller to testify and obviously he wants this - Nadler says, "I want to see the full report first." And there's that whole question, will even Congress see the full classified version. Do you think Mueller will fight coming to testify or not?
EVERS: I don't think so. People like Bob Mueller who take up public service typically recognize public testimony as part of that public service, but I do think that Bob Mueller is at heart a prosecutor and Bill Barr share that. And I think he will be highly deferential to DOJ protocols and the decisions that the Attorney General makes about what gets disclosed by this report, which makes the first fight what Congress gets to see in this report so important.
If they cave on classified information or ongoing investigation information, I expect that Mueller will also feel that he can't testify to that, so I think Nadler needs to gear up, have a big fight over any redactions that are coming, hold Barr to his commitment to testify and be transparent. And hopefully by the time Mueller takes that chair, he will feel comfortable disclosing what he feels is in the public interest.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. And next, the White House now says the public has no right to see Trump's tax returns. Who cares what he promised, it's totally changed now. Plus, breaking news, another Democrat entering the race for president making it official moments ago, that's 18 and it doesn't even count people like Buttigieg, and Biden and we'll tell you who jumped in tonight next.
New tonight, not for public viewing. The White House in the starkest terms yet says team Trump has no intention that any of us will ever see any of the President's tax returns. Here's the Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIDLEY: The public has no right to see those. Congress definitely doesn't have a right to see the tax returns of a private citizen, but also just think about the precedent that sets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So now it's about precedent and no one having a right. Well, that is a total change from one of the original excuses which is under audit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it time to say once and for all the president is never going to release his tax returns?
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We'll have to get back to you on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, is he -- I mean, really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He may?
SPICER: No. I said I'd have to get back to you on that. I think that he's still under audit; the statement still stands.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we've said many, many times before the President's taxes are still under audit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course all president's taxes while they're president are under audit. The ones in the past, we have no idea whether they were or weren't. Certainly it doesn't prevent him from releasing them if he wants to, put again we have no idea if that's true. Manu Raju is out front from from Capitol Hill. Manu, White House now with this whole, "Guess what? You know what, it's not your right. We're never going to give it to you."
And that's maybe what he should have said to begin with instead of all of the lies that were spewed earlier about, "Oh, I really, really want to do it." But the Democrats are now fighting and they're being nasty, giving the IRS a Wednesday deadline to give six years of Trump's tax returns. This is a nasty fight.
MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It is and it's probably going to end up in court both sides gearing up for what could be a protracted legal fight that could run its way up potentially to the Supreme Court. It could take months, even years. We could get a sense of exactly how the administration plans to handle it this week, Tuesday.
The Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifying before two separate House committees on Wednesday. The IRS Commissioner coming before the Senate Finance Committee. Questions will undoubtedly come up about how they plan to handle the tax returns in that hearing and we'll get a sense whether or not the IRS Commissioner does plan to turn over the tax returns by Wednesday's deadline set by the Democratic Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal.
[19:30:05] But as you've noted, Erin, there's no sense of movement from the White House. They're flat out rejecting this. They're saying the Democrats don't have a right to it even as Democrats point to a 1924 law that says that they do in fact, the Ways and Means chairman can absolutely request it.
But this is largely untested in court and both sides seem to be willing and girding what could be a long and protracted battle -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you very much, Manu. And I want to go now to Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell of the Ways and Means Committee. He has been requesting these returns again and again and again.
Congressman Pascrell, thanks for being with me.
BURNETT: So the White House says the public has no right, right, they're no longer coming up with the president says, I really want to do it, I really want to do it. That's all over.
REP. BILL PASCRELL JR. (D-NJ): That was fish story.
BURNETT: That's not going to happen. There's no right. What's your reaction?
PASCRELL: Well, I think that's one fish story after another.
The president has nothing to do with this. The request was made to the IRS not to the president of the United States. You don't send a letter to the president and say, can I have your taxes? That is not how it works.
The law is very specific, 6103 Section F, the code, they should read it once in a while to know what the heck they're talking about. This is going to be determined by the IRS, which has never turned down a request this way.
The president is not above the law. I'm not above the law. None of us are.
We want to know for instance, did the president pay his fair share of taxes? You know, he's been audited so many times in the last 25 years , we want to know what's happened. Some of these audits wound up in fact taking him to court, taking his organization to court.
BURNETT: That's true. And he was excoriated in those cases, as David Cay Johnston has, you know, reported extensively on.
PASCRELL: Yes, he was. Right.
BURNETT: But do you think given that he has been audited before, given that there's been plenty of questionable or problematic things in there, if it was anything hugely criminal or compromising from some other country, wouldn't we already know?
PASCRELL: Well, no. What was usually when you do an audit, you're after a specific area of your tax returns.
But this goes beyond your 1040. This is not a 1040 discussion. We're talking about his personal accounts. We're talking ability his business dealings. He has business dealings all over. We don't know what that's going to
show. There may be nothing here, but what is he hiding? What are the Republicans for over two years trying to defend the president when no one's accused of him anything? We want to see what's in his tax returns.
And we're not going to make it public. That also is very clear in the law. The Republicans had no trouble, Erin, and this is what burns my fanny. Four years ago, they went after -- if you remember they went after the head of the IRS, Elizabeth Lerner (ph). You remember that?
BURNETT: Yes, I do remember that.
PASCRELL: And 50 individuals because they belonged to, quote-unquote, liberal groups to prove their point, their taxes -- their tax returns were audited. Their tax returns were unfolded, their names, their business.
And then what happened? Nothing. Nothing was found. Nothing was illegal.
What are they talking about? This is total hypocrisy. I asked the chairman when he was a Republican, when the Republicans were in charge --
PASCRELL: -- in 2017, let's do this together so that it is nonpartisan.
BURNETT: So, they say it's a precedent. They don't want you all to be able to do this, it's a precedent.
I understand it's also a precedent of public policy, public relations precedent, right? And that is release your taxes. They've all done it.
Mitt Romney did it. He's taking the president's side today. Maybe that's because he got slammed for his low tax rate.
PASCRELL: He did for 30 years, Romney.
BURNETT: Right. But a precedent we're talking about now is different. That's you guys in Congress can go out and just snatch someone's tax returns like the president. Is that a different precedent that concerns you?
PASCRELL: Yes, the president has always thought that the presidency, the executive branch in government is in Article 1, it's in Article 2. We are Article 1.
This is checks and balances government. No one is above the law be it Democrat or Republican. This was done for Democrats. This was done for Republicans.
This president is going to have to release his returns primarily because he's been audited, we want to know what's -- and that could be the beginning of other research. This is going to be, if you take this to court we're going to win. The law is on our side.
BURNETT: All right.
PASCRELL: And Richie Neal did a good job in sending the letter to the right person.
BURNETT: All right. Well, as we know there's a big fight coming up ahead of you. Thank you so much, Congressman Pascrell. I appreciate your time.
PASCRELL: My honor.
BURNETT: And next, the Secret Service agent says the malware found on the woman accused of breaching security at Mar-a-Lago was like nothing we had ever seen before.
[19:35:06] And that should scare all of us. We'll tell you about it.
Plus, breaking news. It's official, the 2020 Democrats now have the biggest field of candidates running in American history.
BURNETT: Alarming new details tonight about that security breach at Mar-a-Lago. The Chinese woman who was arrested for trying to enter Trump's private club while carrying four cellphones and malicious software had even more devices in her hotel room.
So, here's what we're finding out. They said she had a device that was used to detect hidden cameras. She had another cellphone, and keep in mind four were found on her. So, that would bring her total to five. Nine USB drivers, five SIM cards, and that thumb drive.
Remember that thumb drive with the malicious software on it? A Secret Service agent says it began installing a file onto an agent's computer right after it was plugged in. The agent said it had never happened before and was, quote, very out of the ordinary.
Lisa Ruth is a former CIA officer.
Lisa, I mean this is pretty stunning details we're getting. I mean, there's no question this person was there to do something -- I mean, it clearly seems she was a spy, right?
[19:40:05] I mean, we show her passports. What do you think, spy?
LISA RUTH, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Sure, absolutely. The question is spy for who, and I don't mean in terms of Chinese. I think she's clearly working for the Chinese. The question is, is it government, is it corporate? Nigh gut and the people I talk to my colleagues agree it's probably government. But, yes, nobody has this kind of situation with this amount of
malware and SIM cards and phones and fake stories. It's very clear she was there to collect intelligence.
BURNETT: And now we find, you know, these devices to detect hidden cameras we're learning about, the thumb drive and the malware, that Secret Service agents said they'd never encountered before. That all seems very scary and very sophisticated. Obviously, her behavior coming in didn't seem quite so much.
How sophisticated do you think her operation was?
RUTH: From what we know today, I'd say very sophisticated. And some of the clues we're going to really get information on is exactly that malware. Once we really start analyzing that.
RUTH: But I think that the approach -- you know, we say it was maybe a little bumbling, but not really. It was appropriate to the venue she was there.
If you think about it, she went in, she seemed to pretend not to speak English very well, oh, my gosh, I'm trying to get to the pool, but then as a Secret Service agent said she was able to understand very nuanced English. That's the word they used in the complaint.
RUTH: So I think it was well thought out. I don't think it was an error at all. I think it was very well thought out for the location she was.
BURNETT: So prosecutors say she presented, and this is really, really important, an invitation from Cindy Yang.
Now, our viewers who don't remember who that is, she's the former massage parlor owner. She's accused of selling access to Trump events, to Chinese clients, and she's the former owner of the spa, you know, the one where Bob Kraft is now facing prostitution charges because of his activities there.
Do you -- when you put all these things together, do you think this is something bigger, a broader network?
RUTH: Absolutely. She wasn't acting alone. There's no question about it. And as you said this really does raise questions about Yang. It also raises questions Charles Lee.
And I think that what's we're going to see over the next couple of months is the FBI and the intelligence services starting to work together to piece this, who was getting what information, who was directing who.
I think that she was there to collect intelligence. But I also would not be surprised to find out that there is a link between Cindy Yang and between other Chinese, at least who were interested in getting information.
BURNETT: Wow, all right, Lisa. Thank you so much.
RUTH: You're welcome.
BURNETT: And next, Kamala Harris, defending her response to was what one of her most controversial decisions as a new district attorney. And for the victim's family, it was not enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDNTIFIED FEMALE: It felt like she had just taken something from us. She had just taken justice from us, from Isaac.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Jeanne Moos on Trump's acting cabinet, giving political theater a whole new meaning.
[19:47:12] BURNETT: Breaking news: Congressman Eric Swalwell of California is running for president. The 38-year-old Democrat making his announcement tonight on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I see a country in quicksand. Unable to solve problems from threats from abroad, I'm ready to solve these problems. I'm running for president of the United States.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW: It's official.
SWALWELL: Thank you. It's official.
COLBERT: Now, it's official.
SWALWELL: Boy, did it feel good to say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Swalwell is now the 18th candidate to join the Democratic primary field. By the way, Buttigieg counts in there. But Biden or Bennet or Stacey Abrams or anybody else who may jump in, none of them are in there, so you're now at 18. It's huge.
Swalwell is not the only candidate, though, making news today. Senator Kamala Harris returning to an all-important state of Iowa tomorrow. And one topic that's following her on the campaign trail is her record as a prosecutor. This is a decision she made as a young district attorney and it could well come back to haunt her.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT. (BEGN VIDEOTAPE)
ISAAC ESPINOZA, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE OFFICER: My little girl.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Isaac Espinoza, young father, devoted husband -- and San Francisco police officer until his end of watch April 10th, 2004.
RENATA ESPINOZA, ISAAC ESPINOZA'S WIDOW: His captain comes over and I'm just sitting there, and he hands me his star. I remember I walk into this room and he still had blood here. He was laying there with his eyes closed and I saw the blood here, and I walked over to him and I was just like wake up.
LAH: Just 29, Espinoza was gunned down with an AK-47 by a 21-year-old gang member.
A new district attorney had just been elected in San Francisco. Kamala Harris, her first elected position.
Three days after Officer Espinoza's death, Harris held a news conference pledging to keep a campaign promise -- no death penalty.
KAMALA HARRIS, THEN-SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: In San Francisco, it is the will, I believe, of a majority of people that the most severe crimes be met with the most severe consequences and that life without possibility of parole is a severe consequence.
R. ESPINOZA: I felt like she had just taken something from us. She had just taken justice from us, from Isaac.
LAH (on camera): Did she call you?
R. ESPINOZA: No, she never called me. I just don't understand how or why she should -- you can't even wait until he's buried. You can't even wait to talk to the family. You can't just wait and, you know, have some compassion and check in on the family?
[19:50:01] GARY DELAGNES, FORMER PRESIDENT, SF POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: And I'm standing there and I'm going, oh, my God.
LAH (voice-over): Gary Delagnes, the man standing next to Harris, was the president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association at the time.
DELAGNES: You're thinking to yourself, OK, is she sorry that this kid died or is it just a political opportunity? Is this just an opportunity for her to double down on the fact she's not going to pursue the death penalty? What would her motives be to do this so soon after the death?
LAH: The political blowback for Harris was enormous. At Espinoza's funeral, as Harris sat in the pews, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein rebuked the new D.A. for not seeking the death penalty. The hundreds of officers gave Feinstein a standing ovation.
(on camera): Do you give Harris any credit for sticking to her beliefs?
DELAGNES: She was in a tough spot. I don't begrudge her that. But the way it was handled and the timing, it was just -- it was just --
LAH: For you, this is not about the death penalty.
LAH (voice-over): In the months that followed, Renata Espinoza wrote Kamala Harris a letter. Years passed. The family says Harris never responded. They say they only had one face-to-face meeting with Harris arranged by an assistant district attorney.
R. ESPINOZA: She never reached out to me. Never came over and said, I'm sorry for your loss. Never -- nothing. Nothing.
LAH (on camera): Why do you as a victim of crime need the district attorney to say those things?
R. ESPINOZA: Because it makes me feel like, okay, you honestly do care about what happens, you know? And not only that, but it shows that you're compassionate, you know, that you have feelings. It's -- losing somebody and having somebody that is going to fight for justice, come up to you and say, "I'm sorry for your loss".
HARRIS: The fact that Officer Espinoza was killed in the line of duty is an absolute tragedy.
LAH (voice-over): On the campaign trail, Harris would not answer why she did not personally reach out to the family, but says someone from her office did.
HARRIS: We reached out to the family. We reached out to the family. We always did and we did in that case as well, and offered all of the support that our office was able to give the family.
LAH: And defended her handling of the case.
HARRIS: I did not ask for permission to make my decision.
LAH: Officer Espinoza's murderer, David Hill, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
(on camera): Why is that important to know as president of the United States how she treated you?
R. ESPINOZA: You're going to be president of the United States. That's a lot. Are you going to show compassion? Are you going to be for the people? Are you going to be for yourself? Are you really being you?
LAH: Now, to "The San Francisco Chronicle", Senator Harris will say about her handling of the news conference in the Espinoza case, quote: Maybe it was just a political novice mistake. Now, Senator Feinstein, Erin, who delivered that public rebuke at the
funeral, she would later reverse her position on the death penalty. She now no longer supports it like many progressive Democrats -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kyung. Of course, maybe it's not the policy but the handling of the whole situation. We'll see how that -- how that story is perceived on the campaign trail. Thank you.
And next, Jeanne Moos on the temporary title that's become a permanent fixture at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like acting because I can move so quickly.
Well, I'm in no hurry, I have acting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:57:47] BURNETT: Tonight, Trump is casting for lead roles. In the meantime, he's got a whole lot of stands-ins.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What do all of these Trump administration officials have in common?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Acting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is acting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether they're acting or whether they're not acting.
MOOS: A temporary word has become a permanent fixture in the Trump administration. As "The Washington Post" columnist tweeted, number of cabinet members who will now be acting lends new meaning to the term political theater.
Or how about being asked to write a sad story using only three words: acting cabinet official. Cartoonist Ed Hall drew a line of acting officials ending in the man acting as president.
There's no bigger fan of acting than the director of this production. He gives the acting rave reviews.
TRUMP: It's easier to make moves when they're acting.
My actings are doing really great.
I like acting because I can move so quickly.
Well, I'm in no hurry, I have acting.
MOOS: In no hurry to have nominees grilled in confirmation hearings perhaps, something an acting doesn't have to endure until nominated for the actual position.
And who wants to go through what Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt did when a masked swamp creature popped up behind him and stayed.
DAVID BERNHARDT, ACTING INTERIOR SECRETARY: I have met with many of you in person and by phone.
MOOS: And stayed.
BERNHARDT: I catch my breath.
MOOS: And stayed.
BERNHARDT: Because --
MOOS: And Stayed. Stayed even if only one eye remained visible or only its bald head.
Until Capitol Police escorted all masked protesters out. It's hard to take promises to drain the swamp with a straight face.
When confronted by the creature from the black lagoon, no wonders the president enjoys temporary cabinet members, easier to throw them overboard.
TRUMP: But I sort of like acting. It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that? I like acting.
MOOS: If he likes acting, maybe he'd consider you know who for his next acting cabinet secretary opening.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. Just go to CNN Go.
"AC360" starts with Anderson starts right now.