Return to Transcripts main page


Trump & Family Sues Banks for Complying with Democrat Subpoenas; Democrats Hold Ground as Barr Threatens to be "No Show" at Hearing; Trump's Fed Pick: Biggest Economic Problem is Lover "Male Earnings"; Chase Bank Under Fire for "Tone Deaf" Advice to Customers; Trump Proposes Sweeping Immigration Policy Changes. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 30, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:33:07] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: President Trump and his family are suing two banks in the growing legal and political battle over financial records. The lawsuit is in response to subpoenas by two House committees to Deutsche Bank and Capital One. The president's attorneys say the subpoenas are unlawful and illegitimate.

On FOX News, his son, Eric, said it's a political conspiracy.


ERIC TRUMP, SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: We're not adversarial to any of the banks. We're just saying this is presidential harassment.

By the way, it's not just my father. It's, Eric, I want to see all your bank records. I want to know how much, you know, Laura spent on baby formula for Luke. I want to know how many beers Tiffany had on a Friday afternoon in Georgetown.

What the hell is the legislative purpose?


KEILAR: We have Julian Epstein with us, the former chief Democratic counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.

You've been through struggles like this before.


KEILAR: And do you think that when it comes to this particular situation, that the president and his children are going to prevail, preventing Deutsche Bank to share information.?

EPSTEIN: No. I think this is a Hail Mary pass, the lawsuit against Deutsche Bank to stop the compliance for the subpoena. The courts will almost never step into a congressional subpoena of a private entity like a bank, unless there's a major constitutional issue. So a legal strategy, I think even the Trump lawyers would probably admit this is a Hail Mary -- a Hail Mary move.

As a tactical strategy, this is all about delay, and that's what you're going to see from the Trump White House is basically delay, delay, delay, stonewall, stonewall, stonewall, whether it's the subpoenas to private entities like banks or subpoenas to the Justice Department for things like the underlying Mueller materials, which the Judiciary Committee really needs in order to conduct its proper oversight.

KEILAR: If the facts were different, if this was a Democratic president and were you advising him, what would your advice be?

[13:34:53] EPSTEIN: Well, they are playing a game. I think, with respect to the subpoena of the banks, they just won't win that game and I think they know they won't win that game. On the question of the subpoena of the Mueller materials, for example, they believe that they can stonewall this, drag it out in the courts for months, maybe even years, and then ultimately prevail with a -- in litigation where the courts will say, you guys interest to negotiate this out. Courts don't like to step into legislative/executive disputes. They generally say both sides should try to accommodate. So the Trump administration feels, at least for the Mueller materials, which I think is actually the more important question here, that they can draw this out over the long term and they can keep saying, in the meantime, you guys, if you think you have enough evidence on obstruction of justice, go ahead and impeach me, big guys, because we don't think you have consensus even in your own caucus to do that. So that's the game they're playing. I think it's a dangerous game because what it's going to do is drag this entire investigation into election season. And the Democrats on the Hill and the Judiciary Committee have a lot of things they can continue to investigate other than what's in the underlying Mueller documents, which are going to be disputed, for example, the Deutsche Bank materials. Remember, on Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bank lended Donald Trump $300 million-plus. He was regarded by the U.S. banks as not being credit worthy.

KEILAR: That's right.

EPSTEIN: Deutsche Bank also had to agree to pay $600 million in fines for laundering Russian money. There's a lot of other things. The point here is there's a lot of other things that the Trump administration wants to stonewall and drag this out, the Judiciary Committee can find a lot of other things to talk about in the next 12 months.

KEILAR: Let's talk about the attorney general, Bill Barr. He's supposed to go before the House -- Senate on Wednesday and House on Thursday and is threatening not to show up because the plan is to have committee lawyers -- a position you would probably envious of, being able to not just giving questions to the member of Congress but, as a committee lawyer, questioning the attorney general. He does not want to do this.

EPSTEIN: Well --

KEILAR: If you were doing this, what would you be asking him? And why would it be essential in the eyes of Democrats for the lawyers to do this, not just the members?

EPSTEIN: Well, first of all, we have to done this. During the Clinton impeachment, we did this with Ken Starr, who represented the Justice Department, so there's plenty of precedent for committee attorneys to do that. And generally, the really you bring in a skilled committee attorney is they're not confined by the five-minute rule where the witness, like Attorney General Barr, can dance around questions --


KEILAR: Play out the clock.

EPSTEIN: Run the clock. And that you can really get deep into what are some serious issues. And I think particularly some of the issues that the Judiciary Committee attorneys would like to focus on is, there's four areas of obstruction of justice that Mueller was rather explicit constituted substantial evidence of obstruction of justice, the three efforts to curtail the Mueller investigation and the dangling of pardons to Manafort. Those seem to be -- I think most prosecutors look at that and say, but for the circumstances of the Justice Department opinion saying you couldn't prosecute the president while he's in office, most prosecutors would say that is something that they would be very tempted to prosecute. I think that's the kind of thing they want to hear Barr dance around, try to come up with an answer, try to explain why that isn't obstruction of justice, and I think they would have a lot of fun with that. Barr doesn't want that.

KEILAR: Of course not.

Julian Epstein, thank you so much. This was really very insightful.


BOLDUAN: Appreciate your being here.

EPSTEIN: Enjoyed being with you.

KEILAR: President Trump, his pick for the Federal Reserve says the biggest problem to the U.S. economy is declining male earnings.

And Chase Bank told its customers to stop splurging on coffee and cabs, and you can just imagine the public's reaction to that.


[13:43:12] KEILAR: Stephen Moore, President Trump's pick for the Federal Reserve board, is again under scrutiny for comments that he made about income and gender. Here's what he said.


STEPHEN MOORE, ECONOMIST & PRESIDENT TRUMP'S NOMINEE FOR FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD: The biggest problem I see in the economy over the last 25 years is what has happened to male earnings, for black males and white males as well. They have been declining, and that -- that is I think a big problem.


KEILAR: So Moore is a conservative economic commentator, a former Trump campaign adviser. And he's previously said that female athletes wanted, quote, "equal pay for inferior work," among a lot of other things, other misogynistic things that he's said.

And I want to ask "Washington Post" opinion columnist, Catherine Rampell, about all of this. She's with us from New York.

Catherine, you look at statistics, and they show that earnings have increased more rapidly for women than men in the last 25 years and banks for men have gone up as well. What is the case that he's making here that that is the biggest issue facing the economy?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the context of this, to be clear, is that he had written in an op-ed or a piece I believe in "National Review" magazine several years ago and made comments on TV before that saying that he thought it was destabilizing for American families if women became breadwinners, that if women started earning more money and became more economically self-sufficient, it is possible they would start to view men as, I believe the phrase he used was economically expendable, which, I don't know, maybe says more about his view of relationships between men and women than societal issues. But in any case, that is what he was being asked about in that interview:

Why did you make this comment, suggesting that you were concerned about women's rising raises and the narrowing wage gap. And then he kind of spun to say, what I actually care about is that men are earning less. In fact, as you pointed out men are not earning less in absolute terms. They haven't gotten huge wage gains and that's something we should be concerned about, you know. We want policy- makers to be doing everything that we can to make sure that both men and women have nice raises moving into the future. But, you know, the way to address that is not to say, well, we want to hold women back and cap how much they are able to close the gender wage gap.

[13:45:33] KEILAR: You've been clear you're no fan of Moore's. We've seen that in your op-eds. You say it's knots the sexist comments that disqualify him though. It's something else in your opinion. Tell us about that.

RAMPELL: I do think the sexist comments should, in theory, be disqualifying but there's much more important disqualifications at work here, including, that look, the Fed -- the Fed board jobs are among most important economic policy-making jobs in the world. The central bank is among the -- is -- you know, the Fed is one of the most important central bank in the world, the most important central bank in the world, and its core function is maintaining stable prices and maximum employment. And Stephen Moore has shown time and time again that he can't tell whether prices are going up or down.

He said this on this network multiple times with me. And he has tried his darnedest to encourage the politicization of the central bank. And the central bank, the Fed, needs to be politically independent both in practice and in perception in order to function. If the public does not believe that the central bank is independent, if it thinks the printing press is in the hands of politicians, which is essentially what Moore has advocate in calling for Trump to fire the members of the Fed that he himself has appointed, then that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and the bank is basically no longer able to control inflation. So my concerns are basically about what he would do to potentially compromise the independence of the central bank.

KEILAR: I also want to ask you about something that's trending right now. Chase Bank sent out a tweet. It was meant to be little motivation, some dialog between customers and their bank account, perhaps, with the bank account, offering advice like make coffee at home and don't take a cab, it's only three blocks away. This completely backfired. And even Elizabeth warren chimed in saying this tweet was tone deaf. You don't think it was that bad.

RAMPELL: Look, I mean, I think the phrasing was clumsy and not particularly well done, but the kinds of tips that they are providing are pretty standard conventional money-saving tips that you would hear on like Suze Orman's show.


KEILAR: But let me ask you this because the criticism is, big banks make big profit, why the are they the ones telling us how to save our money.

RAMPELL: I mean, I don't know what the -- what the social media person at Chase Bank believes his or her job is supposed to be or his or her mandate is, but it seemed like the idea here was just like, you know, as a bank, here's the kind of financial advice that we would give out to clients, including you can save a little bit of money, instead of going to Starbucks, you know, you make coffee at home, which, again, is not the most controversial tip.


RAMPELL: Is that going to, again, help people get higher earnings? No. There's bigger picture forces at work here that related to why there's an equality in the economy and why there's been income stagnation. But I feel like this is sort of the outrage machine at work. I can't find myself getting that worked up over a tweet encouraging people to make coffee at home.

KEILAR: Who takes a cab three blocks, is my question?

Catherine --

RAMPELL: I don't know. I don't know. Maybe it's raining. Who knows.


KEILAR: Maybe they have a broken leg. I don't know.

Catherine Rampell, thank you so much.

RAMPELL: Thanks for having me.

KEILAR: It's a story under the radar today. The president proposing sweeping restrictions on how migrants can seek asylum in the U.S. We'll talk about the dramatic changes that he's proposing.

[13:49:01] Also, Joe Biden -- and live pictures here -- making his first campaign visit to Iowa as new CNN polls show a big bump in the polls for the Democratic front-runner.


KEILAR: President Trump has proposed sweeping changes to immigration policy putting new restrictions on asylum seekers. He's ordered the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to close out claims more quickly, within about six months. And the president also wants to include application fees for asylum and work-permit applications. The aim being to bar migrants, who have entered illegally, from working while they wait for the claim to be processed.

We have CNN immigration reporter, Priscilla Alvarez, with us. She's been following all of these big developments.

And tell us who this would affect.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN IMMIGRATION REPORTER: This is a drastic change in the asylum process in the U.S. And it could affect thousands of migrants. Remember that last month, there were 96 -- more than 96,000 apprehensions along the southern border and many of those are families. DHS has also reported there's been a 2000 percent increase in credible fear claims, which is the first step in the asylum process, over the last five years. So taken together, this could affect thousands of those coming into the U.S. to claim asylum from these triangle countries.

KEILAR: This isn't a done deal though, right?

ALVAREZ: No. And this is a very important point to make. Because what Trump did last night is he issued a memo to direct the attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security to take action. Now what that action looks like within these 90 days, what they draft up, and the process that these regulations would have to go through could take a long time. So this is mostly a what is to come.

[13:55:02] KEILAR: Priscilla, we know you'll follow every twist and turn.

Thank you so much.

ALVAREZ: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And we'll continue to monitor clashes underway right now in Venezuela as citizens try to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

And President Trump once again playing host to Chuck and Nancy. How each side says the meeting went.


[14:00:07] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.