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Trump Federal Reserve Board Nominee Under Fire Over Sexist Columns; Trump Stonewalls Congress Over Tax Returns; Parents Charged in Death of 5-Year-Old Boy. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 24, 2019 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:00]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: As he said it best, this is just the worst-case scenario. They are now reporting that they have found the body of this little 5-year-old boy, A.J. Freund. And now his parents, among the multitude of charges, are facing five counts of first-degree murder.

Let's go into all the details.

And, Josh Campbell, former FBI, you know, listening the news conference along there with me.

I mean, just awful, listening to the FBI agent saying nobody will sleep and hope justice is brought for A.J. And he'd been -- just for people who are just tuning in, so he had been last seen, according to the parents, last Wednesday night. They tucked him into bed.

They called police the next morning. They're the ones to report their child missing. Fast-forward to, it sounds like from police, it was forensic evidence, it was cell phone data that they got from the parents that led them to the information, which led them to this child's body.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, just a terrible case, obviously.

And I think really shows, from an investigative standpoint, how quickly law enforcement responds. You have them coming after the first call came out, obviously trying to locate him. And when you go into these investigations, again, you look at them, hoping that the person -- this is a missing child case...

BALDWIN: Right.

CAMPBELL: ... and not a murder. And so they bring all resources to bear, all hands on deck.

And, as you mentioned, it appears from this press conference, we're told that this was -- the case was solved by forensic data off the telephone. What we -- or cell phone. What we don't yet know is whether that was text messages, communications between the two. Maybe it was more technical in nature, as far as the geographical location perhaps where the parents had actually traveled. And so that, we will have to wait and see the court documents, what they specify, but, again, authorities leading them to this location. And they were able to find the child's body.

What is also just stunning here -- and, again, you look at the charges of murder, but there's also these multiple charges of battery as well, which signals bodily harm. Obviously, this murder is just -- it's terrible to think about.

There, you hear from the FBI special agent in charge. The one thing, if there's any the silver lining, is that you had law enforcement trying to get an answer to this community...

BALDWIN: Yes.

CAMPBELL: ... about what happened to this missing child. And now it's -- we will see what the courts do with the parents.

BALDWIN: Found wrapped in plastic in some town in Illinois.

And, again, the Department of Children and Family services had been involved with the family since this little child's birth.

Josh Campbell, we will stay on it. Thank you so much for jumping on with me.

Let's continue on. We will talk politics.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.

Here's the breaking news, President Trump trying to stonewall Congress for information about his tax returns and financial records. CNN now has learned that a bank that he did a lot of business with over the course of many, many years, Deutsche Bank, has turned over some of its Trump financial records to the New York attorney general.

This is all in response to a subpoena that asked for e-mails and loan documents related to four Trump ventures, Trump International Hotels in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, the Trump National Doral Golf Club outside of Miami, and his unsuccessful attempt to buy the NFL team the Buffalo Bills.

A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank officially declined to comment.

Asha Rangappa is a former FBI special agent and CNN national security legal analyst.

And so, Asha, just with this news now from Deutsche Bank and this information -- again, it's civil, but this information will come out. Right? So, what does this mean for President Trump?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, he's doing a full-on separation of power showcase showdown with Congress.

And I know that we're going to get to that in a second.

BALDWIN: Yes.

RANGAPPA: But this presents a whole different set of problems for him, because they involve two entities over which he has no leverage or control.

One is outside private organizations, like a bank, and the other is the state of New York. And he does not have the kind of leverage that he does in some of these battles that he's having with Congress. We know that the New York attorney general began investigating the Trump Foundation last year, which resulted in them dissolving the foundation because of mismanagement of charitable funds that were -- that were being used.

And that has tax implications, and also roads that could lead into the Trump Organization. So I suspect that they have just continued to follow the money. And now they are looking into some of these areas that I think Trump does not want people looking into.

BALDWIN: Yes. No, no, not at all. He said it himself. This is his red line, his finances.

Also, this -- we have just gotten this from Jim Acosta. A source familiar with the Trump legal team discussions telling CNN that the -- quote -- "working assumption" among the president's attorneys is that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has obtained an unknown number of

Trump's tax returns as part of its investigation.

Now, we know Congress has been working, right, the House Ways and Means Committee have been working, to get those tax returns. We know those deadlines have passed and passed again. But does that mean that they could potentially get their hands on these tax returns if Mueller had them?

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RANGAPPA: I think that becomes very problematic, Brooke.

So, first of all, I'm curious about this assumption, because, in the Mueller report itself, there is no mention of this. And from my reading of it, there was -- there were no investigative threads that would really logically lead to his tax returns.

Now, they did refer a case to the Southern District of New York, which involved those campaign finance violations. And I think those could very well lead to them. But Mueller's mandate, in my opinion, I didn't see that.

Even if they did, I think that Congress would have trouble getting those returns from the Department of Justice to see the underlying evidence. And that's because there are laws that surround how Congress can obtain tax returns. And there are privacy laws and other restrictions. And the Ways and

Means Committee is using the one avenue that is explicitly available to Congress to be able to review tax returns that -- especially for public officials who may have financial conflicts of interest.

If they begin impeachment proceedings, I think that that would be a different story, and they may be able to get to more of the underlying evidence that Mueller collected.

BALDWIN: Got it. Got it.

I also want to talk more about the battle with Congress that you just alluded to over accountability. Just to get everyone else caught up, a short time ago, President Trump declared himself the most transparent president ever in U.S. history.

Then, mere minutes later, he declared that he plans to block all House subpoenas seeking more information about him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The subpoena is ridiculous. We have been -- I have been the most transparent president and administration in the history of our country by far.

We just went through the Mueller witch-hunt. Now we're finished with it. And I thought, after two years, we'd be finished with it. Now, Mueller, I assume, for $35 million, checked my taxes, checked my financials, which are great, by the way. You know they're great. All you have to do is go look at the records. They're all over the place.

But they checked my financials. And they checked my taxes, I assume. It was the most thorough investigation probably in the history of our country. I think I read where they interviewed 500 people.

I say it's enough. Oh, we're fighting all the subpoenas. Look, these aren't like impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Hmm.

Remember, when it comes to the president being the most transparent ever, the Mueller report itself found the president's written answers to be -- quote, unquote -- "inadequate."

All this is happening just as the administration is rejecting another House subpoena regarding the census. And that is just one way the president has been stonewalling.

Here's just a couple more examples for you. You have the president considering preventing his former White House counsel Don McGahn from complying with a subpoena looking into obstruction. You have the Trump Organization has sued to stop the release of the president's financial records. The IRS just missed a second deadline to hand over Trump's tax

returns. We were just talking taxes a second ago. And the White House directed its former personnel security director to skip a deposition where he would be asked about White House security clearances.

So, Asha, bringing you back in, we know that Trump's modus operandi as a private businessman was to sue, sue and sue, right? He was quite litigious. But all the stonewalling here in Washington, does it work the same way in politics?

RANGAPPA: Yes and no.

So, unlike when he was a private citizen, he can't be -- he can't do this in the shadows and essentially intimidate and bully Congress. I mean, Congress can fight back, and they have their own interest that they have to vindicate.

And I think it's important to note that, that he's trying to continue the Mueller investigation with Congress, that Mueller investigated this, so now Congress doesn't have to. These are two separate bodies. They have different functions. They vindicate different interests.

So whatever Mueller did, Congress still has the power in its oversight capacity to pursue this information. Now, having said that, if he doesn't comply, then it does need to be taken to court. I mean, he doesn't -- Trump does not appear to be doing what many administrations do, which is to negotiate over things like executive privilege and to hand over some things and decline to hand over others.

He is just flat-out stonewalling. And once it goes into the courts, that can take up time.

BALDWIN: Right.

RANGAPPA: And, for him, he can run out the clock until, hopefully, I guess from his perspective, there's a new Congress and then he doesn't have to worry about it anymore.

BALDWIN: Yes, running out the clock.

Yes, speaking of defiance -- Asha, thank you so much.

Whether it is Trump's defiance of Congress or his deference to Vladimir Putin or any of his other actions in the past two years, many of us have been shocked and stunned and outright confused.

[15:10:01]

But what's being reported today is perhaps one of the most damning offenses of all. America's democracy was attacked in 2016. There is no question about that, no debate. Facts, evidence, numbers, motive, it's all there.

But now, with the 2020 elections next year, U.S. intelligence has warned both publicly and privately Russia is attacking the U.S. again, right now, and they will do it again next year.

But, today, "The New York Times" reports one of the president's top officials for protecting the homeland wanted to warn Trump about the looming attacks, but his acting chief of staff told her, no, do not bring it up with him, touchy subject. It's below him, which means the man in charge of preserving, protecting and defending the United States of America doesn't want to hear that the United States and its democracy is at risk again.

Why? Because of his insecurity about Hillary Clinton.

David Sanger is one of those reporters behind that "New York Times" story. David Priess is a former CIA intelligence officer.

So, I got my Davids squared today.

David Sanger, to you first.

This is Mick Mulvaney of whom I speak. He said in a statement to CNN in response to this: "I don't recall anything along those lines happening in any meeting. But, unlike the Obama administration, who knew about Russian actions in 2014 and did nothing, the Trump administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections. And we have already taken many steps to prevent it in the future."

So, to you, sir, on the byline, with this reporting today, how could this be the case, if you have the senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, dismissing Russian interference as just a couple of Facebook ads?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Brooke, first, this entire story about Secretary Nielsen and her effort to basically get the president focused on 2020 and new Russian threats, which presumably would operate by a different playbook than what they did in 2016, is a fascinating one, because it gets to one of those issues that was touchiest with the president over the past two- and-a-half years.

Every time somebody would bring up Russian interference in the election, the president would basically either dismiss it or say there wasn't much interference, or how do you know it's Russia?

You may recall, because we have discussed it before, he called me after his first meeting with Vladimir Putin in Hamburg in...

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

SANGER: Right?

BALDWIN: And, at that time, he basically adopted President Putin's argument, which was, the Russians are so good at cyber, that we never would have seen them had they been in the system.

SANGER: Well, the Mueller report delineates for probably 60 or 70 pages all of the evidence that the Russians went and did this. Comes to the conclusion that it was not coordinated with anybody in the Trump administration, but makes the compelling case about Russia.

And so I think what Secretary Nielsen was trying to do was get the president to speak in public about this, so that you could begin to marshal all the forces of the U.S. government to deal with 2020. And that's what she was told the president won't do.

She wasn't discouraged from going ahead and doing things. The NSA has done things. It went into the Internet Research Agency during the midterm elections. Certainly, Secretary Nielsen's Homeland Security Department has done a lot on the defense side.

But what she was essentially being told was...

BALDWIN: But she couldn't go to the president?

SANGER: Yes, that's right. We're not going to take this to the White House level.

BALDWIN: David Priess, you're listening to all this. What's your reaction to this?

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Yes, let me tell you there is a case to be made, under certain conditions, that you don't keep briefing the president the same material.

But a couple of conditions have to obtain. First of all, you have to be sure that he has already heard the message and has internalized it, not necessarily agreed with it.

I have briefed plenty of policy-makers who did not agree with our assessments about what was going on. But you have to make sure they have heard it and they understand what you're saying.

And you can also not brief the president again on the same information if there aren't significant updates, because look at the opposite situation. If you know the president doesn't want to hear it, and there are 10 things you need to tell the president, you could brief him on that one thing, and he gets so angry, he won't listen to the other nine.

So there is that case to be made of not briefing him on it. However, those conditions don't seem to obtain here, according to the reporting.

First of all, we have no evidence that the president has internalized this, simply rejects it upon hearing the word Russia. Secondly, there appeared to be new information here about what the Russians are doing in the future, not about what they have done in the past.

In a case like that, it is the ethical responsibility of not only an intelligence officer, like I was, but also of senior Cabinet officials, to make sure that the president understands what they're briefing him to do his job as commander in chief.

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BALDWIN: So, OK.

So, not only -- according to all of David Sanger's reporting, not only is the president, what we all know, he doesn't want to hear about Russia because it's kind of a trigger and makes him -- feels like the election is delegitimized.

But Trump is also quick to point the finger at President Obama, David Sanger, for not doing enough. Listen to what he said. This was back in July of '17.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Barack Obama, when he was president, found out about this in terms of, if it were Russia, found out about it in August. Now, the election was in November. That's a lot of time. He did nothing about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: But that is not at all what President Obama said during his final news conference in December of 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In early September, when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly and tell them to cut it out, and there were going to be some serious consequences if he didn't.

And, in fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, David Sanger, Trump says he believes Putin when he told Trump Russia didn't meddle, but then he says Obama did nothing, which isn't true. You -- you can't have it both ways.

SANGER: That's right. You can't.

Now, the truth here, my own reporting shows, lies somewhere in between. Certainly, President Obama did respond once he began to get intelligence reports, which were early as June of 2016, about the DNC break-in and the Russians obtaining that.

And, of course, then we heard about election sites, Arizona, Illinois, others, that were under some kind of attack and where the Russians appeared to have stolen some data.

So, the big question that has sort of loomed over those last months of the Obama administration is not, did they do anything? The president himself said he -- he warned Putin. And, of course, they put sanctions on Russia after the election.

The question is, did they do enough? And, as I was working away on a book that touched on this topic last year, I would say the conclusion I came do was that many of his own aides believe, in retrospect, they could have and should have done more.

But that's not doing nothing. And the Mulvaney statement suggests that the president did nothing as far back as 2014. Well, of course, the Russia election hacks weren't taking place until the beginning of 20 -- middle of 2015 forward.

You could argue, although Mulvaney did not, that the president, President Obama, under-reacted to the Russian intrusions into the State Department, White House and Joint Chiefs of Staff computer systems and didn't name the Russians in public

That's a different argument than saying he did nothing.

BALDWIN: Yes, that's not what he said, though.

David Priess, quick final word from you, sir?

PRIESS: Yes, the issue here is not necessarily the policy, which is what Mulvaney brought up. It's about whether the president is actually interested in finding out what the true threat is.

And if the president isn't listening to that, then there's going to be no policy change. He's simply putting on blinders about the threat from Russia. He connects it to his ego in the last election, but that's not what it's about.

It's about our democratic system.

BALDWIN: David Priess, David Sanger, gentlemen, thank you both.

SANGER: Thank you.

PRIESS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Good to have you on.

Coming up next: President Trump's nominee for the Federal Reserve claims he has -- he's being Kavanaugh'ed. Hear how Stephen Moore is responding after CNN's KFILE dug up a series of sexist comments he had written in the past.

And what a difference a year makes. Kim Jong-un has arrived in Russia for yet another meeting with a world leader. This time, it is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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BALDWIN: To defend himself, one Trump nominee is invoking the firestorm of another Trump nominee. Economist Stephen Moore is up for a spot on the Federal Reserve Board. And now he says his -- the critics are quote "pulling a Kavanaugh on me" after major backlash over his past sexist comments.

It was CNN's KFILE who dug up Moore's opinion pieces from the early 2000s that argue that there should be no women in men's basketball as announcers, as refs, as even beer vendors.

This is what Moore said to a North Dakota radio program:

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I was so honored when I got the call from -- from Donald Trump.

And, you know, it's been -- but, you know, all it's been since then has been one personal assault after another and a kind of character assassination having nothing to do with economics. But they're pulling a Kavanaugh against me.

And so I have got...

QUESTION: Of course they are.

MOORE: Look, the easy thing to do would just be throw in the towel and say, I don't need this. I'm taking a 60 percent pay cut to do this job, you know? I mean, it's true public service.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Pulling a Kavanaugh, referring to the intense scrutiny that now the current Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh faced during his confirmation battle after sex assault allegations had surfaced.

Moore was, until recently, we should also point out, a CNN contributor.

Andrew Kaczynski is CNN's KFILE senior editor. Also with us, sports radio host Julie DiCaro. She won a Peabody for a video in which she highlighted the violent e-mails and comments that she and her female colleagues received.

So, thank you both for being with me.

And, Andrew, back to Stephen Moore, and you guys have dug all this stuff up of his past writings, but has he backed off some of these comments? What has he said since?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, SENIOR EDITOR, CNN KFILE: So, look, he has called this -- we just heard him call it a character assassination. He's called it a smear. He said he's being Kavanaugh'ed.

Like, I don't know -- I don't even know what that means. If you're a nominee for a position in the government, if you need Senate approval, your record is going to get scrutinized.

[15:25:05]

And I think it might say something about him if he believes that, you know, us posting his own words is a character assassination.

But he did back off of this a little bit today on the "Larry Elder Show." Let's take a listen to that.

BALDWIN: OK.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MOORE: Look, I mean, I wrote some politically incorrect columns.

Look, some go back to like the turn of the century that were a long time ago that I kind of wish I hadn't written now. They certainly don't reflect my views.

But what it is, it's a diversion, though.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BALDWIN: A diversion, he says.

KACZYNSKI: Yes, so he's -- he doesn't think it's relevant to his job experience, but he is at least now admitting that his columns might not have been well-thought-out at the time.

BALDWIN: Julie, words matter. You know all...

JULIE DICARO, SPORTS RADIO HOST: Yes, they do matter.

BALDWIN: The words matter.

And you know all too well, being a woman in the world of sports. You're the kind of woman that Moore wrote about. What would you want to say to him? Do you think these views are shared by many or a few?

DICARO: I -- well, unfortunately, I think the views are shared by a growing number.

There are just tons of, I want to say young men, but they're not all young, on social media who will look at a government official saying something like this, and take it as validation for their beliefs that women shouldn't be in sports.

And I think it's one thing to sort of go back through someone's Twitter feed and take a joke out of context or maybe a time they didn't express themselves well, and use that against them, as opposed to columns, which are thought out and proofread and gone over and over again.

And it's not only his comments about women in sports, but it's his comments on the gender gap -- the wage gap between men and women. It's a lot of different issues involving women.

And, look, the issue is that sports are not just sports, right? Sports are where we work through so many of our societal issues, be it police brutality or gender equality or what have you.

And to silence women when it comes to sports and sporting events and silencing women from commenting on sports is also silencing women from commenting on what's happening in this country.

BALDWIN: Mm-hmm. To try to take a -- what did he say, a vacation from women?

KACZYNSKI: Vacation from women.

DICARO: Yes.

BALDWIN: Yes. Sorry, not possible.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Julie DiCaro and Andrew Kaczynski, thank you both so much. I'm so glad you have put these out there.

Coming up next: Kim Jong-un goes to Russia. So what message is the North Korean leader trying to send here? And what does Vladimir Putin stand to gain from meeting him?

And a driver rams into a crowd of pedestrians, and police say it was intentional -- what we know about the motive there coming up.

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