Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Family of Synagogue Suspect "Shocked and Deeply Saddened"; What is Trump Administration doing About Rise of White Nationalism; Investigation Launched Amid NRA's Internal Leadership Drama; Trump Accuses NY AG of Illegally Investigation NRA; Biden Speaks at First Campaign Rally in Pennsylvania; Report: Wall Street Freaking Out Over 2020 Democrats; White House Reviewing Stephen Moore's Sexist Comments on Women. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 29, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RABBI YISROEL GOLDS, SAVED FROM GUNMAN BY SHOOTING VICTIM LORI KAYE: Who's like a brother to me, is trying to resuscitate her and he faints and he's lying there on the floor next his wife. And then the daughter Hannah comes out screaming, daddy and mommy what's let's go. It's just the most heart wrenching sight I could have seen. I got up on a chair right there and I looked at our congregation, and I said we are a Jewish nation that will stand tall. We will not let anyone or anything take us down. Terrorism like this will not take us down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Three other people were injured in the shooting including an eight-year-old little girl. They have all been treated and released from the hospital.

Saturday's shooting adds to a growing list of recent attacks in houses of worship and not just here in the U.S. In the last six months there have been attacks at two synagogues in Pittsburgh and in Southern California. Fires at three historically black churches in Louisiana and another church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Overseas were the New Zealand mosque shootings and the Catholic Church bombings just last week in Sri Lanka. And Peniel Joseph is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. He's a history professor at the University of Texas. So professor, thank you so much for being on with me. And the first question is really just simple. When you hear about attack after attack after attack at places of worship, are we no longer safe to pray?

PENIEL JOSEPH, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RACE AND DEMOCRACY (via Skype): Well, I think increasingly that appears to be the case, Brooke. I think these shootings over the past six months are all connected with the rhetoric of white nationalism, with the rhetoric of anti-immigration sentiment. The rhetoric of anti- Semitism, anti-black racism that has really flourished over the last 2 1/2 years in the United States and globally.

BALDWIN: If I say jump in, what do you attribute that to, the rise in white nationalism?

JOSEPH: I think the rise in white nationalism, it predates the election of President Donald J. Trump. Certainly President Trump both the election and the way in which he has governed as President of the United States has amplified and emboldened white nationalists both domestically and globally.

We think about Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 and the President doubling down on the notion there were good people on both sides. His support for confederate statues, these are all dog whistles and code to white supremacists. We know this from all the data, Brooke. The ADL, the Southern Poverty Law Center, they all show an increase in hate crimes happening both domestically, an increase in anti-Semitism happening domestically and internationally.

BALDWIN: Now, on this shooting in Poway over the weekend, the President condemned this pretty quickly and said exactly what you would want a President to say and then Sarah Sanders said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think one of the most important things we can do is use the bully pulpit of the President and call out this hatred by name. Condemn it as the President has done and will continue to do any time something like this comes up. Hopefully we don't see another incident like this. It's a horrific and heinous moment. It's something that should never happen in our country. And the President along with the entire administration condemn that behavior and racism and bigotry and evil and violence in every form possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And while, Penial, that sentiment is appreciated, when you look at this President's history, he has not always done this. He has yet to comment publicly on those historic black church fires in Louisiana. So do you take him at his word this time?

JOSEPH: No, I don't. And there's a lack of consistency. When we think about past Presidents like Lyndon Baines Johnson during the Civil Rights Movement, they were uncompromising in using the bully pulpit to talk about social justice and advocate for racial equality. This President has really rhetorically admonished Muslims, immigrants. He has really spread a kind of intolerance that he's not the originator of the intolerance, Brooke, but he's really amplified this intolerance, and he's really gained a bunch of admirers who are usually on the fringes of American democratic politics. We're thinking about white supremacists. We're thinking about supporters of the lost cause when we think about the confederacy. They love Donald Trump globally.

So on one level even when the President denounces as he should anti- Semitism, they're listening to two messages. They're listening to the message denouncing anti-Semitism.

[15:35:00] But they're also listening to the message saying that there were good people on both sides and that Robert E. Lee who was a traitor to the United States of America. Who was the general who was a slave owner and was fighting to keep racial slavery in the United States was a great guy. They interpret that message as a message of support for their intolerance and support for their anti-immigration, their anti-Semitic and their anti-black advocacy.

BALDWIN: Penial Joseph, I appreciate your voice in all of this. Thank you so much for the time today.

JOSEPH: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: The nation's largest gun lobby is in crisis as internal strife within the organization is now prompting an investigation.

Plus he is the President's controversial fed pick who made the sexist comments about women over and over and over again. But today is the White House's support for Stephen Moore cracking?

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A major power struggle at the NRA, the National Rifle Association. It's ended with the president of the gun rights group stepping down. The bitter dispute also sparking a full-scale investigation by the New York Attorney General. Oliver North is out as NRA President amid allegations of extortion. It appears long-time CEO of the powerful gun lobby, Wayne LaPierre, emerges victorious.

North accused LaPierre of financial misconduct and wanted to form a crisis committee to look into the NRA's finances. But instead of an internal matter, the New York AG is now investigating, looking into financial transactions, unauthorized political activity and potentially false or misleading disclosures in regulatory filing.

President Trump today tweeting this. That the NRA is under siege. And calling the New York investigation illegal. The President pleading with the group to get its act together quickly. Stop the internal fighting, get back to greatness fast, again, a quote from the President.

Elie Honig is a former assistant U.S. attorney with the Southern District of New York. Trump says this whole thing is illegal. Does the New York investigation have authority over NRA finances or is that an internal matter and how would this have even gotten on the radar of the New York AG to begin with?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure, so nothing is an internal matter if it involves embezzlement. If it involves tax fraud. If it involves violation of nonprofit statuses. So sure, there are internal issues. But if there are crimes or civil violations, then the New York AG is well within its right to step in.

And I thought it was so interesting the way this came to the New York AG's attention. Which is here's a prosecutor's secret. Some of the best leads come from breakups, and whether that's --

BALDWIN: Like who? HONIG: Spouses, former friends, business partners, internal drama

within an organization. One of the best corruptions cases I ever made was because a soon to be ex-wife came into us and said my husband is involved in this elaborate corruption scheme.

BALDWIN: No, the wife spilled the beans.

HONIG: Listen, ex-spouses are really good sources of information. And here you have two people vying for control and power within this organization.

BALDWIN: Yes.

HONIG: And their business has spilled out into the public, and it's open game.

BALDWIN: How serious are these allegations?

HONIG: It depends. I see sort of two different ways this could go. There could be civil violations. If the NRA was playing fast and loose with its tax-exempt status. If they were actually paying their officers more than they should have been through vendors it sounds like, then they can lose their tax-exempt status. They can lose their nonprofit status. Which is pretty devastating for an organization like that. The more extreme possibility is there could be criminal charges here. There could embezzlement. There could be tax fraud if they were intentionally doing things to avoid having to pay taxes?

BALDWIN: I mean, would it be inconceivable that depending on the result that the NRA could go away? Is that the craziest thought ever?

HONIG: Well they could be kicked out of New York. Right now they're charter in New York. I'm sure they'd find many other bases where they could reincorporate or sort of renew their charter. But one important thing to keep in mind is if there are criminal charges here at the state level, no pardons for then President. Keep that in mind.

BALDWIN: Elie Honig, thank you.

HONIG: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: He has been in the race for a whopping four days. And seemingly already getting under the President's skin. After Joe Biden scored a big union endorsement, we will bring the first rally of his campaign to you live this as a new report deals with how Democrats on Wall Street are quote, unquote freaking about the party's 20 candidates running for the White House. The writer of that piece with the scoop joins me next.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This just in to CNN. We're learning former CNN talk show host, Larry King, has undergone an angioplasty and stint procedure. It happened on Thursday. The 85-year-old suffered chest pain known as angina and went to the hospital. Doctors say he did not have a heart attack. He is said to be in good spirits, recovering well and plans to be back at work on his shows, "LARRY KING NOW and POLITICKING WITH LARRY KING" and we wish him, of course, just the very best.

Anticipation is building in Pennsylvania where former Vice President, Joe Biden will soon speak at his first official campaign event in the city of Pittsburgh. The rally comes as Biden gets a key endorsement from the International Firefighter's Union which praises him as a problem solver who cares deeply about America.

Meantime, this magazine report suggests that Wall Street, and Wall Street Democrats specifically getting a little nervous about some of these candidates. An article by my next guest says big donors from the financial industry are freaking out -- was I believe the phrase -- over the Democratic candidates. There was no single one candidate that they feel they can all live with and throw their money behind. And in the words of one banker, there is tremendous fear.

The guy who wrote the piece, "New York Magazine" national correspondent Gabriel Debenedetti. He's here with me now. And so, I mean, it's a fascinating read on I guess the freaking out and the good ways and the good ways. I mean, I just want to read a quote before I talk to you. This is from a hedge funder. I mean, honestly, if it's Bernie versus Trump, I have no f****g idea what I'm going to do. Maybe I won't vote.

Who are they freaking out about?

GABRIEL DEBENEDETTI, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well I think the main fear here is about Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are the two people that they really are worried about are going to regulate Wall Street and regulate the financial industry a lot. But they're also just are terrified that those guys are pulling the rest of the Democratic Party so far left when it comes to economic issues, financial issues.

[15:50:00] They're terrified that there's not going to be anyone that they can deal with. And remember, this is a group of people that's used to being the kingmakers in Democratic primaries going back for a long time. They were very close with Secretary Clinton, of course, a lot of them lined up behind Barack Obama. But a lot of them basically have known a lot of these '20 candidates for a long time but are nervous that none of them are necessarily good enough to win or that they're shifting far left with the rest of the party.

BALDWIN: Sounds like some of the candidates they preferred, a Gillibrand or a Booker are not exactly killing it in the polls. And then you have, of course, the guy at the top, who just jumped in on Thursday, Joe Biden. What do they think of Biden?

DEBENEDETTI: A lot of them like Biden, but it's with an asterisk. Which is that he's never had to raise a lot of money from them in the past. Because of course, when he was running in Delaware, he didn't really have a lot of competition, and he was really close with the credit card industry there, but not on Wall Street. So in the last two years, he's really trying to build up relationships there. So a lot of them like him. But a lot of the folks that you think might like him have really been looking at younger faces. Because they're not sure if, you know, if they're trying to find someone who can beat Donald Trump, they're not sure that he's the guy to do it.

BALDWIN: Younger faces like Mayor Pete?

DEBENEDETTI: Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg. They both got a lot of support from Wall Streeters. Particularly people who supported Obama last time and our looking for someone who's young and dynamic. Kamala Harris also has a ton of support in this community.

BALDWIN: What about Wall Street for Trump? What did Anthony Scaramucci say to you?

DEBENEDETTI: Well, Anthony Scaramucci of course is not just the former White House communications director, he's a hedge fund manager himself. He said, that basically, there are a lot of people on Wall Street who like Trump, but won't say it out loud, because he's too controversial. So they'll vote for him. They'll give him money if they can figure out a way to do that without backing --

BALDWIN: They just don't want to say it too loud for their clients.

DEBENEDETTI: Exactly. Exactly. So, you know, Wall Street, there are more Democrats than Republicans for now, but there are a lot of people who are not very comfortable with either side right now.

BALDWIN: Gabe Debenedetti, thank you so much for the 411 on Democrats on Wall Street and who they're liking and not.

DEBENEDETTI: Thank you.

DEBENEDETTI: More on our breaking news now. The feds thwarting a terror plot, targeting places in Southern California. Which a suspect wanted to use explosives. We're getting some details on that. Stand by for more.

Plus, the White House is signaling there could be trouble ahead for yet another fed pick, just a week after Herman Cain removed himself from consideration. We'll tell you what's changing, coming up.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Today, for the first time, the White House confirms Stephen Moore's nomination to the powerful Federal Reserve Board may be in peril, after all. This coming after CNN's K-file released old columns that Moore had written for the "National Review." Where Moore argued that women should be banned from refereeing, announcing, even selling beer at men's basketball games.

And our CNN White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins has more on this. And, Kaitlan, all of these questions about Moore's fate of course comes after Trump's other board pick, Herman Cain, withdrew his consideration last week. We knew that the White House was adamant in his support of Stephen Moore. So you tell me, what's changed?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, so far, they've also been adamant in their support for both of them, but that changes once in a while you see one of them drop out, as we did with Herman Cain. And now it seems the White House is not as fully confident as it was about Stephen Moore as they have been in the past. But Sarah Sanders telling reporters today that they're reviewing his comments and that they'll get back to us after they've reviewed him and if they have any updates.

Now we should note, that of course, the President's economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, later came out and said they were not rethinking his nomination, but that he was still going through the vetting process. It's been about a month since the President said he wanted to name Stephen Moore to this board. And of course, that was around the time he also said he wanted to name Herman Cain. And we've seen what has happened to Herman Cain.

And Stephen Moore has told "The Wall Street Journal," that if his nomination becomes a liability, if it's going to affect some Senator once he's going through the confirmation process, a Senator that's going up for re-election. It could hurt their chances of being reelected. He said he would drop out, if it came to that.

Now, right now, the White House says they're reviewing this, but of course, Brooke, you know that when the President often picks someone for a position and they come under backlash, he typically doublings down on it when he sees them being attacked. So right now, effectively, this is all going to be up to President Trump.

BALDWIN: Let me turn the page from that and ask you about -- we're waiting, we're standing by for this big speech of Joe Biden's in Pittsburgh. And you know, there have been all these reports of what President Trump's advisers have been telling him to really not do when it comes to this man newly entered the race here as of just Thursday, Joe Biden. What are you learning?

COLLINS: Yes, we've heard that the President's advisers, especially the ones related to the campaign have urged the President not to go after any of these candidates individually, because, instead, they think it will be better if all the Democrats just attack each other, criticize each other, and then they leave to see who it is that the President is actually going to be running against.

But if you look at the President's Twitter feed this morning, you see, that is not advice that the President is following. He's referenced Joe Biden in at least four times, in specific, going after things that has happened to Biden today, including that he got that endorsement from the Firefighter's Union. So clearly, that's not advice that the President is following.

We've heard that the campaign is not going to go after and single out any of these candidates individually, but if the President does, what we've been told is that the President is the one running his own re- election campaign. So you can expect him to follow suit. And you're already seeing people inside the White House, like the counselor Kellyanne Conway doing the same -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, when you look at the President's Twitter feed, you know, several tweets about Joe Biden, it's as though, you know, that the general election has begun and the notion that by taking on any of these candidates it would then have this reverse effect of evaluating them. Right? If the President himself is taking on Joe Biden. Kaitlan Collins at the White House for me this afternoon. Kaitlan, thank you very much.

And thank you for being with me on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.

[16:00:00]