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Suspicious Trump-Kushner Financial Activity Ignored By Deutsche Bank?; Boeing Admits Flaws in 737 MAX Training: White House Blocks McGahn From Testifying. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired May 20, 2019 - 15:00 ET
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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: You are watching CNN on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.
Here's the breaking news right now, a source telling CNN the White House is expected to block former White House counsel Don McGahn's testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. The legal opinion is expected to come as soon as today, although this is something President Trump hinted at in a FOX News interview just a couple weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I have had him testifying already for 30 hours.
QUESTION: So, is the answer no?
TRUMP: And it's really -- so, I don't think I can let him and then tell everybody else you can't, because especially him, because he was a counsel. So, they have testified for many hours, all of them, many, many, many people.
QUESTION: So, as far as you're concerned, it's really -- it's kind of done. It's done.
TRUMP: I can't say, well, one can and the others can't.
QUESTION: So is it done?
TRUMP: I would say it's done. We have been through this.
TRUMP: Nobody has ever done what I have done. I have given total transparency. It's never happened before like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. Also with me here in New York, Elie Honig, our CNN legal analyst, who is a former federal prosecutor. And we will jump to him with analysis.
But first, Manu, just on our reporting, what do you know about this latest refusal to cooperate?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the White House is going to say that Don McGahn should not be forced to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, even though he is facing a subpoena, because they're going to make the case that there have a couple of options that they're considering, one, to say that he is immune from testifying before a congressional committee because he was a former senior level adviser at the White House.
Also, there's talk about invoking executive privilege. That's something that the White House did in the aftermath of the decision by the Democrats to hold Bill Barr, the attorney general, in contempt because of his refusal to turn over the full unredacted Mueller report. In that case, they invoked executive privilege and said the Democrats could not get that information.
Now, here would mark the second time that Don McGahn has not turned over information to the House Judiciary Committee, despite facing the subpoena, because of instructions from the White House. The first time was when he was required to turn over documents by May 7 for that -- the -- that McGahn had provided, had gotten from the White House as part of his testimony before the special counsel.
The White House told him not to turn over that information. Now they have asked him to appear by tomorrow at a public hearing. We're expecting him not to show up because of the instructions from the White House.
Now, the Democrats are warning that they plan to hold Don McGahn in contempt. And that vote could happen in a matter of days. Then the full House could vote to hold him in contempt, along with Bill Barr, the attorney general, in contempt and others who have defied congressional subpoenas. So, Brooke, this just the latest escalation between Democrats and the
Trump administration over a range of requests, defying congressional subpoenas, something that the courts could ultimately resolve. And then, tomorrow, Brooke, that hearing expected to go on, I'm told, presumably with an empty chair, and with Democrats raising significant concerns, and the Republicans siding with the White House.
And the fireworks aren't over yet, even if Don McGahn does not appear tomorrow, and we're not expecting him to -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: With an empty chair. Manu Raju, thank you for all of that.
And, Elie, again, just reminding people, Don McGahn, yes, private citizen now, was the White House counsel, is someone who had a key eye on whether or not this president at least tried to obstruct justice.
When you hear Manu mention potential immunity, would that apply?
ELIE HONI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's going to be up to a court.
Ultimately, what I think this is, is sort of a long-shot effort to keep the American people from hearing from Don McGahn, who as you say, Brooke,, can give us I think, based on the Mueller report, the closest firsthand view of obstruction of justice happening.
Remember, this is the person who Trump told to have Mueller fired, and then later told McGahn to lie about that.
HONIG: So this could be really damning testimony.
Now, ultimately, contempt -- contempt has just become this symbolic thing. Maybe Congress will hold him in contempt, maybe not. Ultimately, this needs to end up in the courts and a judge needs to decide on the executive privilege. I do not think it will succeed in courts.
BALDWIN: But, again, listening to you, he is a private citizen now.
BALDWIN: So how would that impact him? Like, what would be at stake for him to defy the president or not?
HONIG: Yes. It's an interesting twist, because the conversations that are arguably privileged happened back when he was White House counsel.
HONIG: The way it works is, the president really controls that privilege. The other person doesn't get to say, I'm giving it away. The president is the one who has to say he's giving it away. He's not doing that. What if McGahn just said, too bad, I'm showing up? There probably
would be no specific punishment for him. But I do think the right thing to do, in a legally contested situation like this, is wait until a court can resolve it.
But I don't think this is going to go the president's way. I do think McGahn is going to have to testify, one reason being they have already waived it. They have already given it away.
McGahn has already talked to Mueller.
BALDWIN: Three hours' worth.
HONIG: You can go to Barnes & Noble and buy the report. How could it be privileged?
HONIG: So I think there's other infirmities with the argument as well.
BALDWIN: OK. Elie Honig, thank you so much.
HONIG: Thanks, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Now to Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, who is going where none of his fellow Capitol Hill Republicans have gone to date, saying in a weekend tweetstorm that he thinks President Trump has displayed behavior that meets the threshold for impeachment.
Again, he's a Republican. Amash, who is known for his more independent streak, said that he reached that conclusion after actually reading the Mueller report, which he says showed multiple examples of actions that could be considered obstruction.
Amash' bold move sparked a swift backlash from President Trump, to his colleagues. Here is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Those who know Justin Amash, this is exactly what he wants. He wants to have attention.
Now, you have got to understand Justin Amash. He's been in Congress quite some time. I think he's only ever asked one question in all the committees that he's been in. He votes more with Nancy Pelosi than he ever votes with me. It's a question whether he's even in our Republican Conference as a whole.
What he wants is attention in this process. He's not a criminal attorney. He's never met Mueller. He's never met Barr. And now he's coming forward with this? Because this is what he wants. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: President Trump blasted Congressman Amash on Twitter, saying that he's a loser and a lightweight.
But Amash' troubles are not limited to Washington. Listen to this. One Michigan state legislator is so angry about all of this that he plans to challenge him next fall.
J.W. Verret was a member of the Trump transition team. Last month, he wrote this piece in "The Atlantic" called "The Mueller report was my tipping point. I have seen enough. It's time for impeachment." And Ana Navarro is a CNN political commentator.
So, welcome, to both of you.
And, J.W., first to you.
You can relate to this congressman now. What's it like to go out on a limb, as a former Trump person?
J.W. VERRET, FORMER TRUMP TRANSITION STAFFER: Yes, it's good to have somebody else out on the limb with me.
A month ago, people asked me, who's going to be the first person in Congress to stand up? And I predicted it was going to be Justin Amash, not because he's not a real Republican. Frankly, he's more Republican than Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump put together, 100 percent rating with Heritage, with the American Conservative Union, with the NRA.
He's far more conservative than they are, came in on the Tea Party revolution. He's just an honorable guy. And he read the report and he spoke up about how the emperor has no clothes here. He told the truth, when nobody else would.
BALDWIN: Yes, so called it that it would be him. So you guys are hanging out on one branch, right, as Republicans speaking out. What -- can you tell me, J.W., what are people in Trump world telling you behind closed doors?
VERRET: The friends I have made working in various Cabinet offices, and even in the White House, have told me, look, I can't comment, but, good for you, man. I appreciate that. That takes a lot of guts, frankly.
That's what they've been saying.
BALDWIN: No kidding.
Ana Navarro, what is your reaction to Amash?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The entire thing, I think, is a display of that right now, for so many, Republicanhood, Republican purity, Republican qualification, is measured not by principles, not by convictions, not by beliefs, but by absolute loyalty to Donald Trump. Today, we have less Republicans in Congress, but they are far more
loyal to Donald Trump. Donald Trump made sure that was the case. He targeted and attacked Republicans who dare dissent against him in 2018, anybody who spoke up against him who criticized them, who found fault with him, who spoke truth about him.
And they lost primaries, people like Mark Sanford in South Carolina, or they decided not to run again, people like Jeff Flake in Arizona, or Bob Corker, or they lost general elections, or they died.
So, today, the Republican Party is blindly loyal to Donald Trump. It's incredible to hear an RNC chair attacking another Republican, and the speaker of the House attacking a Republican in his caucus, saying that all he wants is attention.
Well, I had to tell speaker -- Kevin McCarthy, the majority -- the minority leader, if congressmen get disqualified for seeking attention, there ain't going to be nobody left in Congress, OK, including him. He'd be the first one that would be shown the exit door.
It's all about Trump. It's all about Trump.
BALDWIN: It's loyalty, yes.
NAVARRO: The world, the planet, the galaxy revolves around Trump.
BALDWIN: It was John Boehner who said it. It's like no longer the Republican Party. It's the party of Trump.
And you mentioned the RNC chair. We know that Mitt Romney actually wasn't as harsh, right, as his niece was when it come to -- came to what Amash said, but here is -- here's Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): My own view is that Justin Amash has reached a different conclusion than I have. I respect him. I think it's a courageous statement.
As I read the report, I was troubled by it. It was very disappointing, for a number of reasons. But it did not suggest to me that this was time to call for impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, J.W., you have Senator Romney calling the statement courageous, but yet he disagrees on obstruction?
VERRET: I think it is courageous.
And I would shift the focus back. Notice Justin Amash is willing to go out on a limb, but Nancy Pelosi is not willing to go out there with him. I think that's an incredible contrast that needs more attention. I think Mitt Romney's done what he can, but the Democrats are going to have to lead on this push for impeachment proceedings.
It doesn't surprise me there are some members of Congress who just want to ride Trump's coattails. And, these days, they look more like the junior officer behind the scenes at a Kim Jong-un party.
VERRET: But I think the leadership has to come from the Democrats at this point.
BALDWIN: Well, on the Democrats, how do you think -- Ana, how do you think this puts the Nancy Pelosis and the Jerry Nadlers, who've been more on the slow train, like, not jumping on let's impeach, but let's do this, and let's do this in a bipartisan way, how do you think -- how do you think Amash's comments from a Republican saying, let's go, let's impeach, force their hands?
BALDWIN: To Ana. To Ana.
VERRET: Oh, sorry.
NAVARRO: I don't think it forces their hand at all.
BALDWIN: You don't?
NAVARRO: Look, I think Nancy Pelosi has made it clear where she stands on this.
And, for her, I don't believe, from what she has said, that it's about whether offenses were committed or not, whether there are merits to the case or not. I think, for her, it's a political and pragmatic calculation.
They simply do not have the votes in the Senate. And so it would be an exercise that would divide the country. And, look, I think Mitt Romney was speaking his truth. I think different people can read this report and find different levels of disturbing information or none at all, if you are a Trump cult member, once you read it.
And Mitt Romney, like Justin Amash, I am sure read, the entire report, because that's the type of thing that Mitt Romney does. And, also, I believe Justin Amash is completely correct when he says that most of these congresspeople, who are just spouting and parroting talking points from the RNC and the Trump campaign and the Trump White House, have not read the report.
I mean, I know it's probably shocking to most Americans to hear that most members of Congress did not take the time to read 400 pages.
BALDWIN: Is it not their constitutional duty to read...
NAVARRO: Of course it is.
BALDWIN: Yes. Yes. Yes.
NAVARRO: But, listen, the constitutional duty should also be to put country over party and to put Constitution over a president of that party.
What I do hope happens, though, with Democrats is that they continue asking and demanding that Bob Mueller come and testify, precisely because there can be different conclusions reached, because -- is why we need to hear from Bob Mueller.
It's now been almost two months. It's been 59 days since this report came out.
NAVARRO: What the Trump folks are counting on is the drumbeat dying down and us getting distracted with the other hundred things that have happened since then.
But we need to hear from Bob Mueller. I say that especially, as a Floridian, after learning that two counties in Florida...
BALDWIN: Were hacked.
NAVARRO: ... were hacked and the voting base, voter registration base was compromised.
I want to know more.
BALDWIN: I know. I know. And so do many others in this country.
Ana and J.W., I have got to go, but really appreciate the conversation. Thank you both so much for speaking up on this.
NAVARRO: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next: new reports the specialist trained to detect potential money laundering flagged transactions involving companies controlled by President Trump and Jared Kushner.
And Boeing now admitting for the first time that the software used to train those pilots on the 737 MAX jets had flaws in it -- details on how that may have contributed to those two deadly plane crashes.
And my favorite story of the weekend, the best graduation surprise ever for hundreds of Morehouse College students, all of their school debt wiped clean by their billionaire commencement speaker. We will talk to one of their students and his mom live.
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We are learning the investigation into Donald Trump's inauguration is going full-steam ahead and appears to be heading into its next stage. Federal prosecutors in New York poring through tens of thousands of documents they have received from the president's inaugural committee.
They're looking into whether any of the record $107 million in donations for the inaugural was misspent, used to benefit certain people, or came from foreign donors, which would have violated campaign finance laws.
And they have talked to at least one of the planners for the inauguration whose firm was paid more than $25 million.
We also have new details today about potential red flags raised about Donald Trump and his longtime lender Deutsche Bank, "The New York Times" reporting today that the employees of the German bank flagged mobile suspicious transactions by Trump entities, including the now defunct Trump foundation.
Activity by companies controlled by the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were also flagged. But, according to "The Times," money laundering experts at Deutsche Bank who raised their concerns were ignored, at least one even fired after recommending the transactions be reported to the government.
The president slamming this report in angry tweets this morning, and Deutsche disputing that anyone was fired for questioning these transactions.
Martin Sheil worked for more than 30 years as an investigator at the IRS.
So, Martin, thank you so much, sir, for joining me.
MARTIN SHEIL, FORMER IRS SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Thanks for having me there, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Why do you think these employees, former employees from Deutsche Bank, are speaking out about this?
SHEIL: Well, they're doing what they're trained.
Apparently, they're anti-money laundering specialists. And their job is to detect suspicious financial transactions and to put together what's known as a SAR, an S-A-R, a suspicious activity report, which they hope ultimately will be provided to the U.S. Department of Treasury subsection called FinCEN, which is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Center of the Treasury. So, as the report goes, these AML specialists wrote up their SARs,
provided them to upper management, and upper management decided, for whatever reason, not to file the SARs with FinCEN.
Now, the whole point of having an anti-money laundering program is really to protect the bank. The bank generally -- most banks don't want to be investigated or charged as conspiring with their clients to use the bank to launder proceeds from some specified unlawful activity.
So the whole point here of having an anti-money laundering program is to detect suspicious transactions on the part of the bank's clients, forward them to upper management, who should then bless it, approve it, and forward it over to U.S. Treasury to do something.
BALDWIN: Which is not what happened in this case.
Let me just jump in and read. This is -- this is Deutsche Bank. This is the statement, because they have they have been under investigation for money laundering activities involving Russia. It's been heavily fined.
This is Deutsche Bank today: "We have increased our anti-financial crime staff and enhanced our controls in recent years and take compliance with the anti-money laundering laws very seriously."
But that said, Martin, can you speak to that? I mean, what's the bank's M.O. when it comes to activities like money laundering?
SHEIL: Yes. Right.
You know, in January 2017, Deutsche Bank got hit with huge fines with regard to the Russian mirror trading money laundering activities they engaged in.
New York State Department of Financial Services hit Deutsche Bank with about a $425 million fine. And the U.K.'s Department of Financial Conduct also hit Deutsche Bank with about a $207 million fine.
But that was focused on the money laundering activities occurring in the Moscow branch of Deutsche Bank, where they traded stocks with -- over in London, and then the money would go out worldwide offshore.
What I would like to draw your viewers' attention to is a $41 million fine asserted by the Federal Reserve against Deutsche Bank in May 30 of 2017, and wherein they -- this was domestically oriented. They said -- they charged that Deutsche Bank basically had no anti-money laundering program, and they didn't follow any protocols, and they hadn't been doing it for some time.
And this is domestically. So, when "The New York Times" reports over the weekend that their money laundering specialists have come across or uncovered suspicious financial transactions on the part of multiple entities associated with Donald Trump and/or Jared Kushner, that's domestic.
BALDWIN: Sure. Sure. Sure.
No, I take your point.
SHEIL: Deutsche Bank had been put on notice -- yes.
BALDWIN: No, I take you point.
SHEIL: And they still aren't fined.
BALDWIN: And let me just remind everyone, right -- and just Deutsche Bank, long relationship with Trump, going back two decades, loaning him $2 billion, and Trump still owed the bank $300 million. That was as of 2016.
Again, the bank issuing a statement saying effectively, it did nothing improper, and there was no retaliation for that one employee who was fired.
I have got to go.
Martin Sheil, thank you so much.
Of course, we're going to continue the investigation. We know Congress wants to get their hands on a lot of those bank records from Deutsche Bank as well.
I appreciate you very much. Thank you.
SHEIL: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, Boeing admitting that the flight simulator it used to train pilots on 737 MAX jets had flaws, the same planes involved in those two deadly crashes that killed hundreds of people.
We have details on how this may impact the investigation.
BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, Boeing has just admitted for the first time that the simulator software used to train pilots on those 737 MAX jets had flaws. Those are the same planes involved in those two deadly crashes that killed hundreds of people.
CNN's Tom Foreman has been following this investigation so closely for us.