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IRS Faces Deadline Today on Subpoena for Trump's Tax Returns; New Details about Trump's Finances Released; CNN's "The Trump Family Business" Tonight Focuses on Trump's Businesses in India. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired May 17, 2019 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:32:27] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Stop me if you've heard this before. Today is deadline day for the Trump administration to turn over President Trump's tax returns. Yes, another deadline. This time, to comply with the subpoena from the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal.
And now, Neal is laying out what he is going to do next.
To the one and only CNN's Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill, joining me right now.
Great to see you, Lauren.
You just spoke with the chairman. Safe to assume that he is not going to be getting what he wants. So what is he going to do then?
LAUREN FOX, CNN REPORTER: That's exactly right. He's not holding his breath that he's going to get the president's tax returns, six years of personal returns and six years of business returns, today from that subpoena.
So instead, he has a couple of options ahead of him. He could move forward with contempt, although, he says that's not something he plans to do, or he can move directly to court.
Here's what he told me just a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RICHARD NEAL (D-MA): After the election, I indicated that I thought this would end up in a long court case. I have not seen much in the last few weeks that would dissuade me of that position.
FOX: Do you view contempt as a potential option?
NEAL: I don't see what good it would do at this particular time. I think that if both sides have made up their minds, better to move it over to the next branch of government, the judiciary.
(END VIDEO CLIP) FOX: And clearly, this is a chairman who is very business minded, who wants to do other things on the committee. He does not want to spend his entire time of the committee chairman of Ways and Means just talking about getting the president's tax returns.
But there are some liberals on the committee who have argued they think this chairman should move forward with the contempt citation.
I talked with Lloyd Doggett just a few minutes ago. He said he thought that contempt was in order for both Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Rettig -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: I do find the issue of contempt a really fascinating one. Chairman Neal taking a different take on contempt than others of the democratic chairmen of committees in the House. This is an interesting moment, how Neal is handling this.
Good to see you, Lauren. Thank you so much.
Coming up for us, while Trump's tax returns are clearly still a mystery, he's actually releasing some financial information. What does it tell you, and what is it leaving out?
[11:34:25] We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: Well, the chances that President Trump will be releasing his tax returns seem slim to none, even with a congressional subpoena. We do have a few more details about the president's personal finances today. It comes from Trump's annual financial disclosure form, the most detailed account available of the president's finances and one he's legally obligated to make.
The president is reporting at least $434 million last year. He also has big liabilities, pretty big liabilities, including five loans of $50 million or more. And it also shows business is down at the president's Mar-a-Lago property, slightly up at the Trump international hotel in Washington, just blocks from the White House, where the president brought in $40 million.
[11:40:09] What does this all mean? What does it tell us, and not?
Joining me is Cristina Alesci, CNN politics and business correspondent, and "Forbes" reporter, Chase Peterson-Withorn.
It's good to see you. Thank you for being here.
CHASE PETERSON-WITHORN, STAFF REPORTER, FORBES MAGAZINE: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Chase, I laid out the very, very top line. What do you learn from this financial disclosure? What are you learning?
PETERSON-WITHORN: This disclosure, which, as you mentioned, he has to file and the vice president has to file and other members of the executive branch have to file, gives us probably the best window we have into his finances, his investments, and how his business is doing. It's not a very clear window, but it does give us --
BOLDUAN: A murky window. Get some Windex.
PETERSON-WITHORN: Yes. He has to lay out here is what I own. Here's anything that is worth over $1,000 that I own, anything that is producing income for me. And he has to lay that out relatively clearly. And he does even spell out how much of each thing he owns. And he gives some limited financials about the size of what it may be worth and how much money he may be bringing in from it or generating.
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS & BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. On that front, this is not a perfect, accurate picture of what Trump is actually making.
BOLDUAN: Because there are ranges and there's a lot that's not in there.
ALESCI: Exactly. But the more important thing is that this form is designed to figure out whether or not the president has any conflicts. He can have a conflict with one dollar and he could have a conflict with $5 million. So the government doesn't check or doesn't really focus on the values that are given both on the assets and the income.
Now, there's a lot of speculation that the president is reporting top- line numbers that do not factor in his actual business expenses. So a lot of people are looking at this number and saying, it's kind of hocus-pocus because we really don't know how he's defining income, and the government isn't forcing him into a standard on that front because it's not that important for this purpose.
BOLDUAN: And, what you're saying there is, this does not give us a clear picture of how much actual money is going into his pocket.
ALESCI: Exactly. Nope.
ALESCI: It just gives us an indication, to your point, about how much perhaps his business and each individual hotel may be up or down directionally. We may be able to get an indication of, OK, he's had a better year than 2017. But even that is questionable.
BOLDUAN: So we have this reporting, the money that the president is making, right, last year, but it is much more of a complicated financial picture.
If you look at some of the good reporting coming from the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post," the "New York Times" reporting getting their hands on his tax returns from 1985 to 1994, showing that Trump had taken a loss of a billion dollars over that period of time.
The "Washington post" doing some really in-depth reporting about his cherished Doral Resort, and saying that the operating income, the net operating income had been down -- is down almost 70 percent, I think it was 69 percent.
When you take the little that we know but more than nothing that we know, what kind of financial picture does this paint?
PETERSON-WITHORN: Yes, so it seems like from these documents that the Trump Organization is, I would say, struggling to grow right now. And so, you know, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr will go around saying, we have the hottest brand in the world, whatever.
Then you see new business ventures like the hotel lines they were going to start coming to an end. Then you see the D.C. hotel, which is a hotbed for conservative celebrities. It's a place that is, you know, abuzz all the time with all kinds of people in and out of there. Seems like a great success. And revenues grew 1 percent last year.
PETERSON-WITHORN: You know, so it just seems like -- and that's the best case. At Mar-a-Lago, revenues are down 10 percent, according to the disclosure at least.
ALESCI: Kate, this is why we need the president's tax returns because, without that, we have these little pieces of anecdotal information about what's happening at this property, what's happening at that property, but we don't know globally what's going on.
It's possible he's taking a hit in New York and in Chicago and in Miami where he's not popular, but he could be making money on his foreign investments and licensing deals, right?
BOLDUAN: And, Cristina, this is the perfect opportunity to once again -- when the president said -- and I remember it was right after the midterms -- and he said that you get far more in a financial disclosure form than you would ever get in a tax return.
BOLDUAN: That is just not the case. Explain once again why.
ALESCI: That is so not true. Again, the government here is looking for potential conflicts. And it doesn't really hold the filer accountable for the actual numbers in the documents. So the filer can choose to define income any which way, sort of any which way the filer wants to.
In Trump's case, there's speculation, again, that he's taking the most generous approach and using figures that do not factor in expenses, so the income really could be a top-line number without the business expenses. We don't know how much profit he actually got to put in his pocket.
[11:45:18] BOLDUAN: Yet again, take what we're reading here -- while always more information is better than less, take what we're reading here with a grain of salt plus some, or plus 1,000, or plus like 444 million.
BOLDUAN: Good to see you guys. Thank you.
PETERSON-WITHORN: Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us still, so where exactly does the president's income come from? This all stems from a big conversation, a perfect opportunity for this: A new CNN special zeros in on Donald Trump's business dealings around the world. CNN's Erin Burnett joins me next with that.
But first, recently, two "CNN Heroes" joined forces to help a young girl. Amanda Boxtel assists people who have mobility impairments. Ricardo Pun-Chong provides free housing and support for sick children and their families while they receive medical treatment. They came together to deliver mobility to a child at Ricardo's shelter in Peru. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA BOXTEL, CNN HERO: He sent me a video of a little girl who is 8 years old, named Dolesca (ph). She has cerebral palsy. She's been in a stroller for her whole life. It's time, don't you think, for her to have a wheelchair to call her own?
Look what we have. We had to think of everything because, you know, she's going to grow with this wheelchair.
RICARDO PUN-CHONG, CNN HERO: This chair is fantastic. Dolesca (ph) is going to be so happy. She's going to have a better life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Amazing work they're doing. To see this whole heartwarming story or to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to CNNheroes.com.
We'll be right back.
[11:51:41] BOLDUAN: Donald Trump has broken with a lot of presidential norms, to say the least. One still so shrouded in mystery is his business. He's still the owner and beneficiary of the Trump Organization. His two sons run the day to day but he has not separated himself from the company, as presidents traditionally have in the past.
CNN's Erin Burnett takes a deep dive into the president's business deals and his family's business deals that stretch around the world, including in India. Take a look.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" (voice-over): India is the biggest country for President Trump's businesses outside the United States.
ANJAN KUMAR, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: There's five active projects in India right now.
BURNETT: Five, all licensing deals. Four are actively selling condos, including this project in Kolkata. It's promising unprecedented amenities in a poor city that was run by the Communist Party until a few years ago.
And this project in Mumbai, where elevators roll up and down a building being sold as ultra-luxurious.
AMEMA BERNSTEIN (ph), SPIRIT ELDER: Right now, anybody can pay tens of thousands of dollars. Maybe these are people who want to buy really nice condos or maybe they're people who want to influence the president.
KUMAR: All we know a few dozen names of people who have come up who have taken mortgages in the apartments.
BERNSTEIN (ph): Last year, the president's son, who has the same name as the president, Donald Trump, met with some of these buyers who are buying these condos.
KUMAR: There were full-page ads advertising that if you put down a down payment of $39,000 on an apartment, you could also meet Donald Trump Jr and have dinner with him.
I mean, it raised a whole host of concerns about the ethics of this kind of marketing move. And Don Jr kept saying this is what real estate developers do. Yes, but this is a real estate business being run by the president of the United States' family.
Erin joins me now.
It's great to see you. Zeroing in on India is fascinating, Erin.
BURNETT: I mean, it is. I think many people don't realize that is the single biggest country for the Trump Organization.
BOLDUAN: Surprised me when I heard that.
BURNETT: It's amazing. For $39,000, you put your money down and, all of a sudden, there you get that one-on-one, that meeting with Donald Trump Jr in a country that is notoriously corrupt, despite some recent improvements.
As she said, a few dozen names of people who got mortgages. But most people are not getting mortgages. They are buying cash. Why are they doing that? We don't know any of their names. What we do know, the person in charge, Donald Trump Jr, is tweeting on behalf of his father, appearing at campaign events on behalf of his father, and very much seen as a direct conduit to the president of the United States.
BOLDUAN: So, this is what people would traditionally think of as the Trump brand, the real estate developments. But it's not just real estate. A lot of the business is now licensing.
BURNETT: Right. And we were talking licensing, there's even licensing towers. All five of those buildings --
BURNETT: -- he's licensing. And you see that around the world, Kate. And also, as part of this we looked into a whole lot of things. You heard of Trump Vodka before?
BURNETT: You might have even heard about Trump Water before.
BOLDUAN: I'm sure it's the best water ever made.
BURNETT: But did you know, Kate, that you could get a Trump blanket?
BURNETT: You could wrap yourself in Trump.
BOLDUAN: I would love to know where all the products are made.
BOLDUAN: Remember, the Trump ties are made in China or somewhere.
BURNETT: That's right. That's right.
So, I mean, everything that he possibly could. It was post-"The Apprentice." It was leverage the name.
BURNETT: Don't put money in, take money out, and the way to do that was license.
[11:55:09] We even found a vitamin kit with a urine test.
BURNETT: All branded Trump. It's just to give the point of, what is the point of the brand, it became extremely unclear.
BOLDUAN: I'll have to think about that one, that vitamin kit for a while. I'm going to marinate on that one for a while.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for coming in. Great to see you.
BURNETT: All right.
BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it.
Don't forget to watch CNN's special report, "THE TRUMP FAMILY BUSINESS." Catch that tonight, right here on CNN, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up for us still, Bill Barr speaks out in his first sit-down interview since becoming attorney general. Why he says he is surprised, he was surprised that Robert Mueller did not make a recommendation on obstruction of justice.