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NYT: Deutsche Bank Staff Saw Suspicious Activity with Trump & Kushner Transactions; Trump to Instruct Don McGahn to Defy Subpoena, Skip Testimony; Trump Prepares Possible Pardons for Accused U.S. War Criminals; Columbine Survivor Austin Eubanks Found Dead at 37. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 20, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: How much leeway does the bank have?

MELISSA MURRAY, LAW PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SHCOOL OF LAW: Well, the bank is supposed to report these transactions to the Treasury Department. The problem, of course, is that the Treasury Department is part of the executive. And Steven Mnuchin is the head of the Treasury Department and he has been under no compunction to provide any information to congressional Democrats and it's unlikely --

LINETTE LOPEZ, SENIOR FINANCE CORRESPONDENT, BUSINESS INSIDER: These are scary times. The fact that the Treasury is a black hole to us should scare everyone. What if these whistleblowers had spoken up and this had gone to the Treasury and, poof, disappeared?

MURRAY: There's no oversight. If Mnuchin won't provide it to Congress, anything that comes up is not going to get there. You're in sort of a lawless situation with Deutsche Bank and the president.

BALDWIN: We know, to put a button on this -- we've reported on this, and I think you and I have talked about it, Linette -- that the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees have subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and others for information into Trump's finances. The president and the Trump Organization have sued the bank to prevent them from handing over any of this information.

So we wait to see if perhaps this puts more pressure on the bank and what these committees and Congress are able to get their hands on.

Ladies, thank you so much. I appreciate both of you on all things Deutsche Bank and Trump.

This 8-year-old girl, thank goodness, is safe with her family today after a bold kidnapping in broad daylight. How a doorbell camera and a good samaritan helped save her.


[14:35:45] BALDWIN: Breaking news now. CNN has learned the White House has instructed former White House counsel, Don McGahn, not to testify tomorrow. McGahn was set to face a congressional panel. Let's go to our White House correspondent, pamela Brown, with me now.

Pamela, so what, Trump is saying don't do it?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's already set the stage for this, Brooke. He's already said he wants to fight all the subpoenas from the Democrats. As expected the White House is preparing to send a legal opinion to Don McGahn, former White Hoiuse counsel, and his attorney in an effort to block McGahn's testimony.

The subpoena deadline was tomorrow from the Judiciary Committee. Jerry Nadler, the chairman, sent that subpoena. He said he expects McGahn to show up unless he has a court order, which is unexpected.

So we've learned, Brooke, that the White House, behind the scenes, has been working on this, working on legal justification to block McGahn's testimony tomorrow by the deadline.

And i'm told by a source familiar that one option the White House has been exploring is this idea of immunity, from asserting immunity to McGahn would not be compelled to testify. We don't know what the White House is going to do. They've weight the idea of using executive privilege to block his testiomony,. So executive privledge and immunity are two of the legal options they would explore, they would use in order to do so.

As you know, Brooke, McGahn was a key witness in the Russia probe, and the Mueller report, and the obstruction investigation. And there were high stakes for his testimony. And this just sets up another flash point between the White House and the Democrats, and this expectation that the White House will block his system.

And Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he'll hold a vote to hold Don McGahn in contempt if he does not show up.

We should also note, Brooke, that Don McGahn is now a private citizen. The decision is up to him. As he did previously with the document request that the White House blocked, he has been deferring to the White House because of the interest in his time at the White House as White House counsel.

As far as we know, the letter has not been officially sent to Capitol Hill blocking the testimony. That's the expectation today because the deadline is tomorrow for his testimony -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: One more, Pam. Don McGahn himself, do we have anything from him? What's he saying?

BROWN: We don't have anything from him. He's letting his lawyer deal with all of this. His lawyer has been in touch with the White House. We know that, previously, with the document request that was blocked, the White House sent a letter to Don McGahn's attorney. That lawyer sent a letter to Capitol Hill. The White House also sent a letter to Capitol Hill. That's the expectation for how this is going to play out. But, clearly, McGahn, i'm told, is deferring to the White House and

will not fight anything the White House wants him to do, in this case, blocking his testimony either through executive privilege as the White House did previously with the document request or through the assertion of immunity.

There's a DOJ doctrine and LOC memo from 2014, Brooke, that makes the case of why presidential advisers should not be compelled to testify to Congress. That's one of the areas the White House and DOJ has been looking at in an effort to block McGahn's testimony. Again, we don't know which route the White House is looking to take. Only that it's preparing to block McGahn's testimony.


Pamela Brown with the reporting. Pamela, thank you so much, at the White House.

Melissa Murray, let me bring you back in on this.

Again, to underscore that Don McGahn is one of the key eyewitnesss. He sat with and gave Mueller 30-plus hours for his Mueller report. He's one of the key eyewitnesss to prove whether or not President Trump attempted to obstruct justice. Your reaction to the White House telling him to defy the subpoena?

MURRAY: Same old, same old. We've seen this constantly with this president. Every time a subpoena is proffered, the White House says the person who is supposed to receive can't and will not testify. This is par for the course. This is a president who does not want Don McGahn to appear before Congress.

BALDWIN: Explain the immunity piece pamela is mentioning as an option.

[14:40:02] MURRAY: Executive privilege and absolute immunity are different. Executive privilege is the president's option to keep certain information that's exchanged between the president and his closers advisers out of the hands and the public and Congress. Absolute immunity is for the individual. President have absolute immunity against subpoenas from Congress. That's part of the separation of powers. The issue here is whether that same absolute immunity applies to the president's advisers.

Note, during the Iran-Contra hearings and in other points in history, you've had lots of close advisers to presidents appearing before Congress under subpoena. It's not unusual for a close adviser to do this. It's unusual for a president to argue a close adviser is subject to the same kind of immunity as the president.

BALDWIN: Again, he was set to testify tomorrow.

MURRAY: Tomorrow.

BALDWIN: Melissa Murray, thank you very much --

MURRAY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: -- for jumping on that.

President Trump reportedly looking to pardon several accused and convicted U.S. war criminals. What message does that send to the military and to the entire world?

And just in, boeing now admitting the simulator software used to train pilots on the jets involved in the deadly crashes contain flaws. What this massive admission means in this investigation.


[14:45:44] BALDWIN: President Trump may be considering pardons for several military members who are accused or convicted or war crimes. CNN has learned the Department of Justice Pardon Office has asked the U.S. military for case files for two U.S. servicemembers accused of murder. This was a first reported by the "New York Times."

And this comes weeks after President Trump pardoned Army First Lieutenant Michael Behenna, convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner.

These new cases have been championed by conservative pundits. But it's also sparked quick backlash from several veterans groups.

Chris Cillizza is there for us in D.C., our CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large.

In one of these cases, Chris, the former Navy SEAL hasn't gone to trial yet.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's right. Let's go through them, Brooke. It's important to note, the "New York Times" said these pardons will be extradited in hopes of potentially announcing on Memorial Day weekend. As you noted, we talked about this last week, Donald Trump has pardoned two people in this vein. Two people already.

Let's go through them. First, Eddie gallagher, Navy SEAL, accused of killing two Iraqis, unarmed Iraqis, and stabbing another unarmed Iraqi. His Navy SEAL cohort said they witnessed him doing this. Here's Donald Trump -- and has not gone to trial yet, was about to go.

Donald Trump, "Gallagher will be moved to a less restricted confinement while he awaits his day in court. The process should move quickly.

Obviously, he was watching one of our competitor networks.

Let's go to what the attorney for Mr. Gallagher said. "We would love to have the trial, but" -- here's the important part -- "Chief gallagher would welcome any involvement by the president."

You kind of see where that one is headed. Now, this is not, by any means -- as you mentioned, there are several people. Let's go to the next one. OK, this is matthew goldstein. Green

Beret, he and several of his comrades detained an Afghan mean who they suspected was involved in making IEDs. Several soldiers have been lost to IEDs in that area. They detain him. They eventually release him. Goldstein is accused of murdering that man after he had been released. OK. Again, has not gone to trial and been found guilty.

Here's Trump again. "At the request of many, i'll be reviewing the case of U.S. military hero, Major Matt goldstein. He could face the death penalty from our own government. After he killed the terrorist bombmaker, the world is safer."

Again, a little bit of elision of exactly what we know, facts on the ground, but that's Trump. And his lawyer, Goldstein's lawyer, and his parents have been advocates for Donald Trump to take a look at it.

Here's what i believe it's his father told CNN recently.


JERRY GOLDSTEIN, FATHER OF MAJOR MATTHEW GOLDSTEIN: I don't know what the implications might be as far as the law is concerned but he is the commander-in-chief. If he feels that action is not being taken in the proper way, as he learns more about the situation, we're in favor of him doing whatever he feels is necessary. We would encourage his involvement.


CILLIZZA: OK. Now, final case, Brooke. This one is different. This person, Nick Slatten, he'll come up in a second, Blackwater contractor. He has been convicted. He has been found guilty of an incident in Iraq, in Baghdad, that left 17 Iraqis dead, another 20 injured, involving Blackwater, the security firm. He has been convicted.

Those are three of the names out there. Obviously, Trump has tweeted about the first two.

We're talking about Memorial Day weekend potentially. Very quick. Usually, pardons and the documentation to justify them do take much longer. They've asked for an expedited case moving this thing along faster. We shall see.

Again, just a reminder, we've seen this before. We talked about it last week. He's done this with two other people and he's said on the campaign trail and in the White House that this is the sort of thing he believes he should be doing using that executive power which has granted him broadly as it relates to pardons.

Brooke, back to you.

BALDWIN: We'll keep the eye out for those potential additional part pardons.

Chris Cillizza, thank you so much -- CILLIZZA: Thank you.

[14:50:07] BALDWIN: -- for running through those for me.

Another tragedy tied to the Columbine high school massacre. A survivor, who spent his life helping others, has been found dead. We'll talk about his life.

Plus, more on our breaking news. The White House expected to block former counsel, Don McGahn, from testifying tomorrow. What this means in the president's war with Congress.


[14:55:20] BALDWIN: In 1999, Austin Eubanks watched his best friend die in the Columbine school shooting. Though Austin would survive, his life was never the same.

He was very public about his addiction to opioids, which he said began in the weeks after the tragedy when he was medicated for his injuries. That addiction would go on for more than a decade before Austin found what he described as lasting sobriety.

Sadly, over this past weekend, Austin Eubanks was found dead in his home. An autopsy is set for today but no foul play is suspected.

In a statement to a local TV station, Austin Eubanks' family said, in part, that he, quote, "lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others face. Helping to build a community of support is what meant the most to Austin and we plan to continue his work."

Zach is also a Columbine survivor. Zach and i just spoke recently on the 20th anniversary of the shooting. And Zach has been candid about the struggles he's faced in the years since that awful day.

Zach, thank you so much for talking to me again. I appreciate you.

And i know you and Austin weren't close. You did know each other. When you read the news this weekend about his death, what were you thinking?

ZACH CARTAYA, COLUMBINE SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, hi, Brooke. Thank you for having me. I wish it were under better circumstances. But it's nice to talk to you.

When i read the news of Austin's death, i was devastated. Much like what happened with Dr. Jeremy richmond, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, i was just so disheartened to find out that once again someone who had come so far and seemed to strong had lost their battle again. It seems to be sort of an epidemic among survivors.

There's a need in this country for mental health and mental illness in the same way we treat the common cold. You can get your antibiotic. My anti-depressants can range in price depending on the day of the week. It's disheartening to know someone else lost their battle and once again Columbine is associated with death. BALDWIN: Can you just for people who missed our interview, just talk

a little bit about some of the challenges you faced in the year after the shooting? For perspective, i was talking to you. It was amy talking about a car backfiring in a parking lot, and nearly 20 years later, you hit the deck because of instinct in hearing noises. For you it's deeper and more difficult. Can you share a little bit of that with me?

CARTAYA: Absolutely. The day after the shooting, our principal said that recovery is a marathon and not a race. I didn't know at that point in time how true the words were. It is a marathon. You have to keep going. It's something you're going to struggle with for the rest of your life.

There's the issue with the car backfiring. Fireworks get to me quite a bit. I don't enjoy Disneyworld or the Fourth of july. Not that they're not great places or holidays, but also i stumbled in my marathon.

And akin to Austin, i found myself incarcerated with no clue as to what happened. I very seriously was close to ending my life until my mother stepped in and intervened and literally saved my life.

Again, i don't want to sound like a broken record here but knowing that someone who had fought so hard lost their battle is just truly heartbreaking and disheartening.

BALDWIN: For people who are waging their own war, i just want to end on this positive, that the Rebels Project. You and other Columbine survivors founded this support group. And one focus i know is on assisting trauma survivors with mental health needs. Can you tell me about what you're doing?

CARTAYA: Absolutely. So the core of the Rebels Project is really about normalizing the experience. That you're not alone and there's no part -- there's no spot where you've gone too far. You can always come back and begin to run your marathon again. The commonality of suffering is what we focus on through the Rebels Project.

We've also taken a large step to launch project journey which seeks to pay for survivor's mental health care. We're looking and reaching out and trying to find sustainable funding sources.

And at the, although while is site is being revamped, our logo is there and you're able to make a tax-deductible donation to our 501(C)3.

BALDWIN: Zach Cartaya, i admire you. You have a voice and use it.

CARTAYA: Thank you for the opportunity. It was nice talking to you again.