Return to Transcripts main page


Jeff Bezos Meeting with Federal Prosecutors in New York; Sudan Dictator Under House Arrest; Interview with Tom Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 11, 2019 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And as he went in, he gave a thumbs-up to the press. He appeared calm, he appeared confident. And then he waited to hear what the court -- the judge, in fact -- had to say.

Now, what we know in terms of his bail, the bail that he skipped back in 2012, he was found guilty of that. And he could get as much as -- a sentence of as much as 12 months, in fact. So that is something that we're waiting to hear, what the final number will be for him.

In terms of the extradition hearing, that has move now to the second of May. But in the meantime, he will still have to do a video link with the court every week. These are the conditions. In terms of color (ph), the judge called him "a narcissist who could not get beyond his own selfish interests."

And you can hear in the meantime, Jim and Poppy, protests behind me. People calling for no extradition, no U.S. extradition and no more fake news.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Narcissist. Unusual words from a judge in a court proceeding.

HARLOW: That's true, that's true.

SCIUTTO: Isa Soares, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Yes. All right. Right now, a CNN exclusive. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is scheduled to meet with federal prosecutors over extortion and hacking claims that he has made. Sources say Bezos could meet with them as early as this week.

SCIUTTO: The meeting comes as Bezos claims the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was behind a "National Enquirer" story that exposed his affair. He also says the tabloid attempted, then, to extort him. At the same time, the tabloid's owner, American Media Incorporated, rather, AMI, is now searching for someone to buy the publication. Get out of the news business.

CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter joins me now. This is really a case, is it not, of Bezos turning the tables on a

story that was initially extremely embarrassing for him, but now he's going on offense?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. By saying that the "Enquirer" tried to extort and blackmail him, he got the attention of federal prosecutors who are now looking into those claims. That's one of the reasons why they would like to examine his personal devices, his cell phones, and speak with him.

One of my colleagues spotted Bezos here in New York earlier this week. He's going to be sitting down with prosecutors any time now, sharing his account, his side of the story.

One of the reasons why prosecutors want to look into this is because they have a deal with AMI, with American Media. They struck that deal last year in exchange for the company's cooperation in the Michael Cohen hush money case. Of course, that deal says you can't commit any more crimes. You can't do anything wrong.

And this, of course, would be a crime. What Bezos has alleged is a crime: extortion, blackmail, tampering of a phone perhaps. So that is why prosecutors are looking into this. That's why they're speaking with Bezos. It shows that American Media, the "National Enquirer" and President Trump's past friend, David Pecker, all continue to be in a legal quagmire.

HARLOW: Yes. It's so fascinating, Brian Stelter.

SCIUTTO: Well, if you're looking to buy a supermarket tabloid, it's going to be on the block (ph).

STELTER: Someone's going to buy it. Yes. Pecker's trying to sell it. We don't know to who, but it's probably going to be a fire sale.

HARLOW: Yes. That doesn't mean your legal woes go away, you know? If you've got them here. All right, Brian --

STELTER: That's right.

HARLOW: -- great reporting. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, breaking news in Sudan, where the long-ruling dictator, guilty of so many crimes, has been forced out now. Government officials have been arrested. People celebrating in the streets, dissidents freed as well. We'll have more.


[10:37:53] SCIUTTO: The president of Sudan has been forced from power and is under house arrest now after a military coup. And if you followed his leadership through the years, this is a big deal.

This morning, a military transitional counsel announced the end of Omar al-Bashir's 30-year reign, a dictatorship known for its brutality against its own citizens. The prime minister and dozens of other government officials have now been arrested.

HARLOW: Our CNN stringer (ph) journalist in Khartoum witnessed military troops storming the ruling party headquarters. Look at some of this video, in to us. Sudanese Intelligence Agency also says it's ordered the release of all political detainees.

And this news initially triggered some celebrations in the streets. But a witness tells CNN those celebrations stopped after the coup declaration. The Sudanese Professionals Association says it wants the military to hand over power to a civilian transitional government.

We are lucky enough to be joined by our colleague Nima Elbagir, who not only was born in Khartoum.

Your parents are there. You were just on the ground, doing extensive reporting. This is really significant.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's pretty extraordinary that just as the West, just as Europe and the U.S. was making itself comfortable in an accommodation with President al-Bashir, in spite of the fact that he is a multi-time- indicted war criminal, the FBI signed a counterterror agreement with him just in November. The European Union was giving him money to block illegal migration.

It seems his own people had had enough. The details coming in to us, Poppy and Jim, are astounding, given the grip that this man has had, not only on Sudan but across the entire region.

3:30 in the morning, the heads of his key agencies -- intelligence, defense, the police -- came to him and said to him, "Mr. President," we understand he was told, "It is time." And he said, "So be it."

He's currently under house arrest in an unknown location. His personal guard has been swapped out. Everything about his life, everything about what he has been able to wreak on the Sudanese people, has changed in these last few hours -- Poppy and Jim.


SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. Because we've seen hopeful scenes like this before. Just think of the Arab Spring, think of --

[10:40:00] HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- Tahrir Square. And then not necessarily better things follow. How confident should we be that his replacement is more democratic? That the government will be more democratic, more free. Do we know?

ELBAGIR: That is the most important question. And what's interesting is that the people on the ground aren't particularly confident. What we're hearing from activists, what we're hearing from the people that have -- that have been part of the organizing facility of all of this, is that they will not leave the sit-ins until there is some kind of a commitment to a transition, a civilian transition. Already, we're hearing the military council, the self-proclaimed

military transitional council, saying it will be two years. There will continue to be curfews. There will be a three-month state of emergency.

And the same people who had the courage to stand up and say enough is enough, are now saying to us, over the phone -- which is extraordinary to hear, from Sudan -- "We know what we want. And what we want is to be truly free. And we know what that means. And what that means is elections. And what that means is democracy. And we will not leave until we get that."

HARLOW: Remarkable, Nima, the reporting. You have the context, being from there, having just been on the ground.


HARLOW: We sincerely appreciate it this morning. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: She's lived through that regime.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

All right. So we're watching these pictures outside this courthouse in London. These are live pictures here, standing by for a press conference from U.K. officials after a judge found the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, guilty of breaking his bail conditions. You'll see it live right here.


[10:46:02] HARLOW: All right. So moments ago, 2020 hopeful and Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled a new corporate tax plan. She wants to see corporations -- big ones, the most profitable ones -- pay an additional 7 percent tax on any earnings above $100 million.

TEXT: Warren's New Tax Proposal on big corporations: Corporations would have to pay additional 7 percent tax on earnings above $100 million; Would impact about 1,200 U.S. companies; Economists: Tax would bring in $1 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years

HARLOW: This would impact about 1,200 of the most profitable U.S. companies. We're talking about big ones. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, you name it. Here she is.


TEXT: "Real Corporate Profits Tax": Amazon would owe $698 million in 2018 instead of $0

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody profits from being part of this country, and everybody ought to have to make a contribution. Little businesses do it. Medium-size businesses do it. Families do it. We want the giant corporations to do it as well.


HARLOW: With me now is Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Good morning to you. So nice to have you.


HARLOW: What do you -- what do you make of that plan?

DONOHUE: Well, Elizabeth Warren comes up with a plan every week or so, as she's trying to run for the nomination of the Democratic Party for president. And I think most of them are received in the same way. Politically it might sound good. You're not going to get it done.

There are lots of things that big corporations are doing. We, right now, are fighting a real shortage of workers. We're growing. We're -- have increased and brought a lot of business back to the country. I think we should continue to support that --

HARLOW: All right.

DONOHUE: -- instead of looking another way to tax them.

HARLOW: So you don't like the plan. I get that. I expected that. And I'm going to move on to other things in a moment.

But let me just get you on this. Because what she's doing is trying to address this issue of income inequality, right? And trying to address the fact that there are legal loopholes, and then you have the corporate tax cuts, et cetera, and she things the corporations can pay more. Can they afford to pay more?

DONOHUE: Well, you know, Poppy, this is an issue -- if you listen for three weeks in Washington, any three weeks, you'll find five or six solutions to problems. And they all go to the same place. "Let's tax people that make over this much money," or "Let's tax corporations."

And that's fine, but there's not that much room to keep taxing while at the same time, you want the stock market to stay up. And at the same time, you want more employment. It's a complicated issue and it needs to be looked at in an integrated way, not just this one idea and that one idea. Because you'll find yourself in a real problem.

HARLOW: All right. So let's move on. And Tom, look, you've praised this administration a lot for a number of their economic policies, and the president himself. However, his threat is renewed, to close the southern border if -- if Mexico doesn't do a lot more to stem illegal immigration to this country. What would that do to the U.S. economy and U.S. businesses, large and small?

DONOHUE: Well, what I have done with this administration is recognize when they do something that needs attention. And yet the Chamber and I personally have been very concerned about the way we're doing the trade issues and the border issues. My view is, they're doing a lot of the right things in the wrong way.

And to answer your specific question, look at what's going on right now. The border is all but closed in the trucking area because they've moved people from that responsibility over to dealing with this migration. Clearly they have to do some of this.

But if you just look at what's going on today, and then if you close the whole rest of the border, it would be --

HARLOW: Right.

DONOHUE: -- an economic disaster for this country.

HARLOW: Disaster? Disaster? And you're saying what the administration is already doing, by moving these CBP officers and others over to other parts of border security, is already hurting American businesses, American farmers?

DONOHUE: It is already hurting the American economy.


[10:50:00] DONOHUE: But it is clearly something that, if it's a temporary issue to deal with a crisis, people would understand that. But it's got -- we've got to figure out a way quickly. Just look at the film you've got. We've got to figure out a way very soon, to move this a lot faster --


DONOHUE: -- or we're going to back it all the way up to New York.

HARLOW: Wow. That's saying a lot. Just picturing that in my head right now, Tom.

Here's the thing. I mean, it just sounds like you're -- you say the president's hurting himself, hurting the economy by doing this. And he also just, you know, in recent days, has renewed the threat to put tariffs on cars from Mexico. That would blow up the trade deal. That would blow up USMCA, which has already been signed. Is it worth it?

DONOHUE: Well, first of all, the president, in doing that, said, "In a year from now, if we haven't solved some of these problems." Second of all, I believe generally that tariffs are a problem because U.S. companies pay them. Nobody else.

And I believe that we can do something very positive when we get the new NAFTA deal confirmed through the Congress or now, even before that, to take away the tariffs because we negotiated a deal and that's the commitment the White House made.

If he does that, then all of the other negotiations we're running now, with China and beginning with Japan and the E.U., will -- will respond much better because they'll know that when a commitment is made, a commitment has been kept.

HARLOW: OK. Yes or no. I've got to go after that. Is the president listening to you? Yes or no.

DONOHUE: Well, I think the president has responded in many occasions --


DONOHUE: -- to what I say and others say when it makes sense. We don't always make sense.

HARLOW: Tom Donohue. I appreciate your time. Come back soon. Thanks so much.

DONOHUE: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: Quick -- quick break. We're back with the breaking news after this.


[10:56:32] SCIUTTO: There is more breaking news this hour on Julian Assange. A U.S. official says that the Justice Department is expected to bring additional charges against Assange, not just the one we saw this morning regarding involvement in Chelsea Manning's hack in 2010.

Unclear when these charges will be brought. The FBI investigation into the WikiLeaks founder, we should note, has lasted years. Assange will stay in a London jail ahead of an extradition hearing here, to the U.S., next month.

Well, you know him as CNN's chief medical correspondent. He also happens to do brain surgery.

HARLOW: There you go.

SCIUTTO: Now in his new CNN original series, "CHASING LIFE," Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on a new mission, journeying across the world to find the secrets to living better for the mind, body and soul.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: My grandfather died very young of a heart attack. And my father had heart surgery when he was very young. So my father, my grandfather, I think unwittingly really motivated me.

GUPTA (voice-over): We know that there's remarkable things happening all over the world that can help us live longer, better, happier, more productive lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt like the needle went almost to the bone.

GUPTA: Thought I was in pretty good shape. This takes it to a whole different level.

GUPTA (voice-over): Is this what helps you live long?

GUPTA: You can be arrested in the States for doing what I'm about to do.

Can I work here? I would work here.

GUPTA (voice-over): "CHASING LIFE" is an opportunity for us to travel the world, looking for extraordinary health practices. Experiencing them ourselves? That's my job. That's "CHASING LIFE." To find those things and bring them back.


HARLOW: All right. Officially the coolest assignment ever. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

What a remarkable journey you've taken.


HARLOW: To Japan, the first episode?

GUPTA: Japan's the first episode. One of the most stressed countries in the world. And it's a juxtaposition because the mainland is so stressed. You have Okinawa, which is this chain of islands off the coast where you have people who live longer than just about any other place in the world.

So it's fascinating. But, you know, it really comes down to this idea. In the United States, we're spending $3.5 trillion on health care. Life expectancy has dropped three years in a row. That hasn't happened anywhere else in the developed world.

I mean, there's got to be things out there that we can learn from other countries around the world. Sometimes it's like if it's not made in America, it seems to have no value or little value. But, you know, clearly, we should learn from what's happening.

SCIUTTO: You know, we're inundated with health news and advice every other day, some of it contradictory, right?

GUPTA: Yes, yes.

SCIUTTO: One year it's good to eat eggs, then it's not. You know, just kind of basic stuff. But other habits.

Did you -- and this is early -- did you come home with a tip or two? Something that stuck out.

GUPTA: I think absolutely. With regard to how I eat, with regard to how I move. There's some things that are counterintuitive.

So for example with exercise, you know, the human body wasn't designed to sit or lie or 23 hours a day and then go to the gym for an hour. That's just not the way the body evolved to behave and act.

So you find cultures where they actually don't have gyms, where they don't even focus on exercise, have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. You think about a paleo diet and you think, you know, all this rage

about the keto diet nowadays. The healthiest hearted people in the world eat 70 percent carbs every day.

HARLOW: Really?

GUPTA: Yes. Unrefined, unprocessed carbs --


GUPTA: -- as you might guess. But there's things like that.

[11:00:00] And then there's broader themes. Like why do countries that are very similar to the United States, continue to increase in life expectancy? What's the value, objective value of community?