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Trump Warns Of "Obliteration" Amid Rising Tensions With Iran; Trump: "I'm Not Looking For War, And If There Is, It Will Be Obliteration Like You've Never Seen Before"; Trump Warns Of "Obliteration" As The President's Explanation On Halting Iran Strikes Raises Questions; Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) Is Interviewed About The Advisors Of President Trump In And Outside The White House About Calling Off The Strike On Iran; Trump: Not Looking For War With Iran, But If There Is, It Will Be "Obliteration Like You've Never Seen Before"; Trump "Not Looking For War," But Warns Of "Obliteration"; Cites 150 Potential Deaths As Reason For Halting Strikes; Key SC Event Kicks Off, 21 of 23 Dem Candidates Attending; Biden Attends Key South Carolina Event Amid Controversy; Rep. John Lewis: I Don't Think Biden Remarks Are Offensive. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 21, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You can always tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Have a great, great weekend. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the President says he's not looking for war with Iran but warning if there is, it's obliteration. Plus, a civil rights icon coming to the defense of Joe Biden and his comments about segregation senators. Will that stop the attacks from his 2020 rivals? And profiting off the presidency, how President Trump is reportedly getting taxpayers to give his properties a big financial boost. Let's go up front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Out front on this Friday, breaking news, obliteration. President Trump tonight saying war with Iran would end with obliteration for Iran. But he doesn't want a war even though we ordered a strike against Iran only to brag about them calling it off.

And this is the core of it, his explanations as to why he did this strike and when he did it or didn't do it, don't add up. So let's start with the when, because this depends on which Trump you believe. Here's how President Trump recounted the situation about the strike in an interview this afternoon.


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: So you never gave a final order?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, no, no, no, but we had something ready to go, subject to my approval. And they came in and they came in about a half an hour before. They said, "Sir, we're about ready to go." I said, "I want a better definition."

TODD: Planes in the air? Were planes in the air? TRUMP: No, no, we're about ready to go.

TODD: Yes.

TRUMP: No, but they would have been pretty soon. And things would have happened to a point where you wouldn't turn back or couldn't turn back.


BURNETT: OK. That is after a tweet this morning with the President wrote, quote, we were cocked and loaded to retaliate last night on three different sites. Ten minutes before the strike, I stopped it. Time really matters here when you're talking about killing people. Half an hour before, no planes in the air or 10 minutes before cocked and loaded? Take your pick.

So then the President called the whole thing off, so why did he do that?


TRUMP: They came and they said, "Sir, we're ready to go. We'd like a decision." I said, "I want to know something before you go. How many people will be killed, in this case, Iranians? I said, "How many people are going to be killed?" "Sir, I'd like to get back to you on that." Great people, these generals. They said - came back and said, "Sir, approximately 150."

And I thought about it for a second and I said, "You know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people."


BURNETT: So the United States was about to strike around killing about 150 people which could start a war and no one had told the President that people were going to be killed until he asked or what about the fact that when he did ask, he didn't ask until the last minutes before the strike according to his own timeline. Frankly, this is all really dumbfounding and disturbing.

It seems it literally couldn't be true and it all now begs the question of why the President made that decision without asking questions in the first place. A senior administration official tells CNN that the President's National Security advisors and the leaders of the Department of Defense were unanimously in favor of this strike, which would kill 150 people, that includes National Security Adviser John Bolton, Pompeo, all of them on board.

So everyone around Trump on this was OK with it. So then why did the President ultimately go against them all? Well, the official tells CNN that President Trump was being urged by outside advisors not to carry out but strikes. Outside advisors like who? We don't know who they are or why he would share it with them, people not in the chain of command or in his defense circle, incredibly classified information about a military strike on Iran.

Here's one thing we do know, at least one person outside the White House that the President likes listening to these days, who was vocal against the strike was Fox News host, Tucker Carlson. We know the President listens to Carlson and watches his show in part because he referenced him on Twitter twice this week alone.

So last night, Tucker Carlson was actually talking about possible strikes of Iran before the President made his decision and here's what Tucker said.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The very people, in some cases, literally the same people who lured us into the Iraq quagmire 16 years ago are demanding a new war, this one with Iran. The President, to his great credit, appears to be skeptical of this, very skeptical.


BURNETT: So was it him? Kaitlan Collins is out front at the White House. Kaitlan, you've got new reporting on how the President is feeling about his decision right now. He was very clear. He did not feel it was proportionate to kill 150 people in exchange for killing no one. How's he feeling tonight?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, we're being told that the President feels confident about his decision. He's been watching the coverage play out today. He's getting praise from people who are usually his critics. And so the president is telling people he feels like he followed his instincts here and made the right decision.

Now, that comes as CNN reporting show that virtually all the President's National Security advisors were in favor of some kind of action against Iran, some kind of strike though they wanted the President to go forward with and that includes his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, of course, the National Security Advisor John Bolton.

[19:05:16] But today as the President was explaining his decision to call off this strike at what he said was the last minute, the President said that there are sanctions in place on Iran which the administration has imposed previously, but he said that they added more sanctions last night. But Erin, that's just not the case. The Treasury Department has not announced any new sanctions today.

We did know that the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was down in Florida today giving a speech and he said that if Iran does continue its activity that they say is going on with money laundering or financing these terrorist organizations that they will impose these additional countermeasures, though he didn't detail what those are. But right now, there are no new sanctions on Iran.

Now we reach out to the White House and ask them what was the President is referencing, what about this claim that's not true, but Erin, they have not gotten back to us yet. Yet a senior administration official did tell My colleague, Jim Sciutto, that now they are considering a digital sanctions, but still there have not been any put in place yet.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. I want to get more on that. Now. Let's go up front to the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Smith who, of course, not only has the chairmanship but attended the meeting at the White House on Iran last night.

So let me start with you, Chairman with the strike itself. Do you applaud the president for going against his advisors and then going with whatever outside advisor or advisors it was and ultimately calling off the strike?

REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): I think it was the right decision not to do this strike. I think it would have had a very unpredictable consequence and could easily have escalated into a severe armed conflict with Iran. And don't forget, we have a lot of U.S. military personnel in that region, who would be vulnerable to a response from Iran. So I think it was the right decision.

I'm not sure about the process leading up to that decision or the way the President chose to explain it. But yes, I think showing restraint in this situation was the right thing to do.

BURNETT: So let me ask you though, about how this went down because as you say the timeline and how it played out is actually really important here. You were at the White House briefing on Iran yesterday, so you were there. Were you aware that a strike where people would die 150 odd people would die was imminent, was on the table?

SMITH: That was not said, but yes we all knew that was on the table. At the briefing, they basically, first of all, wanted to show us the intelligence to show us that they had clear evidence that Iran was responsible for this. And then they wanted to sort of discuss what they were thinking in terms of possible options. Now, they were very hesitant about naming specific options, but there were, gosh, I don't know, 12, 15 Members of Congress there from the House and the Senate.


SMITH: We all ask, "What are the options?" And they gave us sort of the range of what the options were and it's pretty obvious from the conversation that this was one of them. They did not give us an indication that they had decided at that point on what option they were going to choose.

BURNETT: All right. So at that time, did you feel there was anything like - I mean you knew that there was an option of killing scores of people, 150 people, I guess, in the case as the President said. Do you think that that would have been proportion? I mean the President was very explicit, unmanned drone, 150 people, ultimately, I didn't think it was proportionate.

SMITH: Yes. And I don't see why it would have taken him that long to reach that conclusion. But I agree with it. I know it was obvious that the White House, but the President was genuinely conflicted. He does not want to give Iran a blank check to strike our assets in this way. On the other hand, he's mindful of the fact that any response that we have could escalate the situation.

Now, sitting around him, the National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary Pompeo, Vice President Pence, I think they were more willing to take that risk. But in the big problem with that is I don't think any of them know where does it lead. You say you don't want regime change in Iran, OK, well, what do you want? And what do you think is going to happen if you strike Iran and what's your plan for dealing with it.

In the body bottom line that came out of that meeting and many other conversations, they don't have a plan.

BURNETT: They don't have one.

SMITH: And that's trouble.

BURNETT: So what I'm trying to understand though, because, again, when you talk about the possibility of something happening that could cause a serious armed conflict, a war, you want to know that people are doing things in a very specific way, right? You want to know there's a process and a procedure.

So the President says that within 10 minutes or half an hour of these strikes happening, depending on which Trump you believe, they said, "We're ready to go. We'd like a decision." He says, "I want to know something, how many people are going to be killed?" And so they said, "We'll get back to you." And then they get back to you about 150.

This is 10 minutes or 30 minutes before strike. You're telling hours before you were aware that Iranians would be killed when you looked at these range of options. Do you think he literally was not paying attention before?

[19:09:54] SMITH: I don't know. And keep in mind, they've had months to contemplate this. Because the maximum pressure campaign that they've put on Iran, the sanctions, pulling out of the JPOA, putting the IRGC on the terrorism list. I talked to a lot of intel people that lead up to this, they all could have easily predicted exactly how Iran would have responded in the way that they have respond to it.

So as they implemented this plan, they literally had months to contemplate. "OK, we're going to do this." It's reasonable to assume that this is what Iran is going to do. What comes next? And now that's the part they didn't think about, and I think this is sort of evidence of a failing within the National Security Council.

John Bolton kind of wants to run things on his own. He doesn't have the regular conversations with the NSC and the Pentagon that they should so that the President can hear. "Well, here's what we think is going to happen. Here are your options." So it's not a literal last minute decision. BURNETT: Which, again, all we have is his timeline and it appears

it's that way, which I think is deeply unsettling for people or what you think you should have struck or not struck is actually not the point. The point is the way this went down should be deeply unsettling to anyone.

The President then tweeted today, Chairman, "Sanctions are biting and more added last night." You just heard Kaitlan reporting. There were no sanctions added. So are you aware of new sanctions about to go in place, additional ones, was that discussed in your meeting?

SMITH: It was not. Well, actually it was and the President said us what he said publicly. But you're right, there's no evidence of that. I do want to say that it is not the point whether or not he struck. It does matter and given the choice between him having gone ahead and done it ...


SMITH: ... and decided at the last minute not to do it, I would prefer the latter. But you're right, the process is troubling, yes. This is part of the way the President negotiates and basically, what's the right word here, he doesn't tell the truth when he negotiates. He says what he thinks is most useful in that particular moment.

And I guess I understand that's the negotiating strategy. But the truth comes out fairly quickly and kind of undermines that argument. And to say that, "Well, here's what we did, we put more sanctions on," when we didn't, again, that undermine it. And keep in mind, one of the big point here, we need allies and friends, OK?

To confront Iran effectively, the more people who are with us the better. And if they're looking at this and trying to figure out, "OK, well, what do you guys do and shouldn't we be with you or not?" It's going to undermine their confidence in being with us, because we don't appear to know what we're doing and we don't appear to be clear on it.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Chairman. I appreciate your time.

SMITH: Thanks for the chance.

BURNETT: And next, the President claims he called off the strike after learning 150 people could die. Does that excuse that up? A former general who's been in these decision making rooms, in these situations is out front. And you won't believe where Trump wants to hold one of the next world economic summit? And again, maybe you will. Plus, 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg facing fierce criticism tonight, press to answer why he believes black lives matter after recent police shootings.


[19:16:20] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump tonight with a new message for Iran. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm not looking for war and if there is, it'll be obliteration like you've never seen before. But I'm not looking to do that.


BURNETT: And as you just heard our Kaitlan Collins is reporting that the President is very pleased and very confident with the decision he made not to kill 150 Iranians in a counter strike. Out front now the former Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, April Ryan, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and former Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton, also former member of the Joint Staff.

General Hertling, you obviously served all around the world, including in the Middle East and you know how this process works. Is it possible that the President of the United States did not know he was about to kill 150 people until he asked 10 or 30 minutes, whichever is the case, before strike that could start a war?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I won't say whether it's possible or impossible, Erin, but if it happened, it was very bizarre and I'm extremely skeptical. The military decision making processes, what we call it, measures different analysis provides information on collateral damage, circular area of probability of hit that identifies the type of weapon systems used and what's going to be struck and how it's going to be struck.

Part of the rewards, risk, restraint scenario that you have is here's what we're trying to do, here's the end state, this is what we're using to do it, the risk to personnel in the area or the ones delivering the weapons is considered. And you also have restraints if it's going to strike a building that's next to a hospital or where there's a lot of civilians around. You look at proportionality.

All of those things are all part of an onerous process that occurs every time you launch a strike package. For the President to say he wasn't briefed on that just goes beyond the pale in terms of how I've seen it done before, how I've experienced before in terms of getting these kinds of packages, and it doesn't make sense to me.

BURNETT: Colonel Leighton?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Oh, I agree with General Hertling. When you look at the processes that are used both for conventional strikes as well as special operations strikes, these are the kinds of things that go in there. You want to know what weapons you're going to be using. You want to know what the possibility is of collateral damage, in other words deaths of civilians. You want to know what is going to happen to any of the structures that are around that area, and you want to make sure that you don't violate the laws of war and that's really what it boils down to.

BURNETT: April, you cover the White House. So do you have any idea who these outside advisors were? Because we know the internal advisors, the important ones on National Security were allied in alignment on going ahead with this. Outside advisors said, "Don't." Do you have any idea who they were? Who said, "No, hold back. Don't do this?"

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, Erin, I have reached out to several people, White House insiders, who are standing firm saying that the President made this decision on his own without really going to anyone else. It's a sobering moment not only for a president to have to possibly pull a strike on another country, particularly Iran.

But it's a sobering moment for a president who does not understand the gravity of this, who does not seem to understand the intelligence. And, again, from my insiders, they're saying that the President made this decision himself. They're putting the onus on the President, not on outside advisors,

BURNETT: Which, of course, obviously, goes against some of the, at least, our reporting out there.

RYAN: Yes. Yes.

BURNETT: We'll see what happens as it comes out. I mean, I don't know. I mean it's very hard to tell. What we know is things don't add up here.

RYAN: Exactly.

[19:20:07] BURNETT: I mean, Colonel, one GOP source tells CNN that it was a mistake that President Trump chose not to retaliate. Here's one of them, Congresswoman Liz Cheney.


REP. ELIZABETH CHENEY (R-WY): The failure to respond to this kind of direct provocation that we've seen now from the Iranians, in particularly over the last several weeks, could in fact be very serious mistake.


BURNETT: Congressman Adam Kinzinger who also served was asked by CNN, "Does the President risk looking weak with his decision to pull back?" He replied, "I think there's certainly a risk, yes." What do you say, Colonel? What other options does the President have at this point now that he has backed down off of this military strike and told the world about it.

LEIGHTON: Well, I think the problem that he had, Erin, was telling the world about it. He could have had a really brilliant tactical move if he had gone with the course of action that he chose and basically warned the Iranians that if this happens again, if you shoot down another Global Hawk or do anything like that again, we will actually strike you. This is your warning. If he had done that, it would be a completely different issue.

But given the fact that he has revealed so much of his planning of this thinking that really limits the option of surprise and his options diplomatically as well.

BURNETT: So General, I want to ask you because I don't know if you heard Chairman Smith from Armed Services. He was saying he was there yesterday with the President. He felt like the President was paying full attention. The chairman said he was aware of the options on the table, one of which included killing people and killing people in the amount that we're talking about here in this strike.

But he clearly knew that hours before, so I guess I get back to this point, do you think it's possible that the President is simply not telling the truth when he says that he did not know 150 people would die until a few minutes before when he explicitly asked?

HERTLING: I wasn't in the room, Erin, but no I don't think he's telling the truth. It is beyond the pale, again, that he would say something like that. And in fact I think he's attempting to put the blame on the military and showing himself as the hero in this particular scenario. He's saying the military didn't tell him.

I guarantee the military told him as part of this briefing because they react to the request for the type of strike. They give the President the options that he wants and then gives him the pros and cons of what those options are to include collateral damage. So by him saying, "Oh, gee, nobody told me and I was the one that called it out." I just got to throw the BS flag on that. It just doesn't make sense, because it's not the way it's done.


RYAN: What I go back to is at the very beginning of this administration and how this president could not handle taking those briefing books that were the size of books to read them every day. He needed bullet points. I mean, again, we don't know who's telling the truth. But unfortunately, we understand that the President has a problem with telling the truth.

Erin, this is such a serious situation and the President is operating in the stance of weakness, not a stance of strength. He's talking too much on Twitter, instead of going to the American public from the Oval Office to talk about this or to have his press secretary, his outgoing press secretary talk to the American public.

We can't trust this president as to what he says. At a time as grave as this, a sobering moment that could also - we're not out of this moment as of yet.

BURNETT: Thank you all very much. And next, nearly every 2020 Democratic hopeful at a key event in South Carolina happening right now. How was Joe Biden being received in light of some of his remarks about segregationists? And dozens of horses dead at a California racetrack, why? We investigate.


[19:27:48] BURNETT: Out front tonight, the fight for 2020. Democrats in South Carolina for Congressman Jim Clyburn's annual fish event. A key chance to woo voters in the State that holds the first southern primary. Twenty-one of the 23 candidates are expected there. All eye will be on Joe Biden who's still on defense for citing his work with segregationist senators in the 1970s.

Defending Biden today, the civil rights icon and Democratic Congressman John Lewis.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I don't think the remarks are offensive.


BURNETT: Lewis went on to say, the civil rights movement required working with people who opposed the movement, would engage in assault and even people who were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Out front now Keith Boykin who was an aide in the Clinton White House and former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania and Chairman of the DNC Ed Rendell who has endorsed Joe Biden for president.

So Keith let me start with you. You strongly believe Joe Biden needs to apologize. Obviously, he has not done so and he is lining people up to say why what he said is OK. Congressman Lewis saying that he's not offended, is that significant for you?

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Not for me. I respect John Lewis. He's a civil rights icon legend and he's contributed a great deal to the discourse, but his words are just one person's words and there are a lot of people in the African- American community who were still concerned about what Joe Biden said and there may be a generational divide, maybe it's younger people as opposed to older people who feel that way.

But they're still a part of the Democratic Party base and Joe Biden has the duty, I think, to sort of speak to all of those different people. You can't just give the impression that you're more comfortable working with James Eastland, a segregationist senator, that you are working with a black senator name Cory Booker. That's not a good look for Joe Biden and he needs to do something about that.

BURNETT: What do you say to that Governor Rendell?

FORMER GOV. ED RENDELL (D-PA): Well, of course, Joe Biden never said that at all. Look, I think Congressman Clyburn said that he would work with Strom Thurmond the most notorious of all segregationists on issues that were important to South Carolina. So if it's good enough for Jim Clyburn, it's good enough for John Lewis, I think that should put an end to this. And let me tell you, Erin, if we Democrats keep shooting at each other.

[19:30:01] If Joe Biden falls out of lead and, let's say, Elizabeth Warren takes the lead and we attack Elizabeth Warren, we are going to elect Donald Trump, and Democratic voters I think are going to be very ticked off as people attacking other Democrats.

BOYKIN: You know, I don't agree with that, Governor. I think the fact that it's good enough for John Lewis and good enough for Jim Clyburn means it's good enough for John Lewis and Jim Clyburn. It doesn't mean it it's good enough for everybody else. It doesn't mean it's good enough for African-Americans.

We're not a monolithic community. Just because two black people who happened to be older people subpoena say that, it doesn't mean that the rest of the black community has to come along with that.

So, it's kind of offensive to suggest that two people get to close down the entire conversation for the entire black community.

BURNETT: Governor, do you think that this is a generational issue?

RENDELL: Jim Clyburn did more than say it was OK. He said he did the same thing.

And the message is clear here. The American people by 70 percent want us to get things done. Want us to talk to each other. Want us to talk to people who are political opponents.

They're sick and tired of the gridlock in Washington. And Joe Biden is by far the best candidate to break that gridlock.

BOYKIN: Well, part of the problem, though, I think, Governor, is that the Democratic Party, now I'm a part of that party, I worked in that Clinton White House, for example, I worked for Democratic candidates in the past, that our party has been too accommodating of white racist and people who are the segregationist types and people who use white racial resentment politics. And we haven't been accommodating enough of the African-American base of the party, with the people of color in the party, or the women in the party. Women are the majority of the population.

And we continue to cater to white men who are 29 percent of the population, particular white conservative men, that's not a good look for party in 2019.

BURNETT: So, I want to play for each of you the -- what we happened earlier today. With the Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who he was supposed to attend in the fish fry, but he cancelled those plans to return home for march related to the deadly shooting of a black man buy a white police officer in South Bend. This is actually you're looking at here is live, but I want to play for you what happened moments ago an exchange with community members.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say to us today in front of all the cameras that black lives matter?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Did you ask me if black lives matter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we want to hear you say it.

BUTTIGIEG: Of course, black lives matter. CROWD: Then fire your cops!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a racist?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about a black live what matters about a black life to you, Mayor Pete? What matters about a black life to you? Answer that question.

BUTTIGIEG: The same thing that matters to me about my own.



BURNETT: Keith, you sort of --


BOYKIN: I'm shocked I saw this the first time. That's in South Bend.


BOYKIN: You know, this is I think going back to the conversation I was having with Governor Rendell, is just that African-Americans are not a monolithic community. There are a lot of black people fed up and tired of the Democratic Party, not to mention even the Republican Party but the Democratic Party speaking the right language, but not doing the right thing when it comes to going to the mat and fighting for African-Americans.

Yes, the Democratic Party is head and shoulders above the Republican Party, there's no doubt about that. But in terms of being willing to fight for the issue that is black people are concerned about, black people want to see the party leaders, see the presidential candidates do something and lead on the issues not be followers.

BURNETT: Governor, what do you make of that? I'll give you a chance to respond here to one more thing that happened with the exchange with Mayor Pete moments ago. Here it is.


BUTTIGIEG: I do not have evidence that there has been discipline for racist behavior in the case so far.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you running for president.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You running for president and you -- you ask people to vote for you?

BUTTIGIEG: But if they have --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You running for president and you want black people to vote for you. That's (INAUDIBLE). That's not going to happen.

BUTTIGIEG: I'm not asking for your vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You ain't going to get it either.


BURNETT: Governor, what do you make of this? I mean, this is part of the Democratic base. This is anger. Go ahead.

RENDELL: I guess it's generational at all as Keith said. So it's clearly not a generational problem.

Look, the answer is African-Americans like all Americans have the right to respect that political parties will do things to benefit them and to deal with their problems.

And I will tell you there is no person in American life who has a better record over the last 40 years of dealing with civil rights issues of dealing with justice issues, than Joe Biden has. Joe Biden has done more to combat racism and has done more to create opportunity for African-Americans than anybody else. The ACA, the Affordable Care Act, did more for African-Americans than any piece of legislation in the last 20 years. Joe Biden helped Barack Obama pass the ACA, judging by his record, not by words.

BURNETT: I will leave it there and obviously much to discuss there era there. I'll have you both back. Thank you.

[19:35:00] And next, how taxpayer money is reportedly helping one of Trump's struggling properties.

And an OUTFRONT investigation tonight, what's behind the mysterious death of dozens of race horses at one of America's most popular race tracks?


BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump wants the next meeting of world leaders at a Trump property. "The Washington Post" reporting Trump wants G7 world leaders and their entourages to possibly convene at Trump's Doral Golf Club in Florida. That detail part of a new report that looks at how much money Trump's properties have made off of his own visits there. The president spends so many days at his own properties.

OUTFRONT now, Josh Dawsey, one of the reporters who broke this story.

And, Josh, I appreciate your time.

OK. So, let's start with Doral. It's a resort that has been struggling as you report, has had plenty of trouble since the president took over. But it seems to be that the president thinks he can, you know, use his situation now to turn that around?

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president was there this weekend, Erin, for a high-dollar fund raiser with a supposedly raised $6 million. He did a lunch, talked to top CEOs, executives in Florida. And the president floated also having the G7 at Doral in 2020 when the United States can host it.

It's one of his favorite properties. But as you said it had has had financial difficulties of late. Some of it can be attributed to his presidency being a bit polarizing.

[19:40:03] Other parts, it's a bit unclear. But the president certainly loves this property and wants to be there, and wants others there.

BURNETT: And obviously, those others spend money and maybe that turns things around.

DAWSEY: Correct.

BURNETT: You report about how rampant this behavior is, Josh. I think it's important to highlight from your reporting, taxpayers are paying for this, right? You actually write about a visit to Mar-a- Lago in April 2017, right after Trump took office. In four days, the federal government spent $30,000 on rooms, according to your reporting. And you saw e-mails, one State Department official emails Michael Dobbs, who was a travel coordinator with the State Department. Do you know what they charged for each room? Dobbs replies in the emails you saw, $546, I believe, which was 30 percent of the lodging per diem. That's an email.

That means taxpayers were paying four times the federally allowed amount to Trump's hotel.

DAWSEY: So, when the president goes there. There is an entourage there with him. Someone from the chief of staff office, national security advisers office, whole coterie of secret service personnel be, what we found in that visit and dozens since, is that the White House officials, government officials use the Mar-a-Lago bar, they spent more than $1,000 on alcohol. They also stayed in the property's best suites. In a matter of four days racked up a tab as you stated.

The bar tab itself was about $1,000. One of the nights spent for more than 50 shots of alcohol. So, there is a lot of copious spending going on at his properties.

BURNETT: Copious spending and again, just to put the exclamation on it, that in many cases is paid for by the American people.

DAWSEY: Correct, correct, taxpayers, yes.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Josh.

DAWSEY: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, why are dozens of horses dying at a legendary American racetrack?


[19:45:41] BURNETT: Tonight, dozens of horses dying, dying at one of America's most well-known and popular race tracks. The deaths are unexplained.

So, our Nick Watt went OUTFRONT to investigate.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trainers, right now under investigation at Santa Anita. Are some of them to blame for the 29 horses that had died this season at the fabled California track? A spike that put horse racing under the national spotlight, increasing calls for this sport to be banned.

DEMONSTRATORS: Horses have emotions!

WATT: Investigators also looking at whether heavy winner rain was a factor, was the track at fault.

JIM CASSIDY, PRESIDENT, CA THOROUGHBRED TRAINERS: They kept sealing the track. But unfortunately, every time you seal, the pad underneath gets harder and harder.

WATT: Stephen Friedman (ph) represents the owners of Santa Anita.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not just the turf or the surface they're racing on. There's medication issues.

WATT: That's the question now being asked. Were some trainers overmedicating their horses, running too hard..

CASSIDY: For every hundred guys that are here, there is always going to be one or two not that are going to either not pay attention or try to do something flakey. People just like pushing, especially owners. They don't want to pay for them sitting at a farm and not making money.

WATT: Twenty-five trainers have lost horses this Santa Anita season, among them big names like Jim Cassidy.

(on camera): What happened?

CASSIDY: We haven't figured it out yet.

WATT (voice-over): Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer is the only trainer who lost three at Santa Anita since December and he's lost another two at Golden Gate Fields near San Francisco since November.

DR. DIONNE BENSON, CHIEF VET. OFFICER, STRONACH GROUP: We've been looking at every trainer record.

WATT (on camera): Have you been looking at his record?


WATT: And what are you finding?

BENSON: Well, I mean, it's an ongoing process. We have gotten information about, you know, what he has done. And his violations and so, we're considering whether he will be -- ever trainer were considering whether they will be welcomed back at Santa Anita.

WATT (voice-over): The California horseracing board is leading the probe, but won't release necropsies or speak to us until they're done. A criminal probe by the Los Angeles D.A. also under way they say to determine whether unlawful conduct or conditions affected the welfare and safety of horses.

(on camera): Not everybody is on the same page.

BOB BAFFERT, HORSE TRAINER: Well, unfortunately, we all get painted with the same brush, you know? And that hurts us. And the -- but I think they're -- they're getting tougher.

WATT (voice-over): Meantime, Scott Herbertson, professional gambler, race horse owner is speaking out.

SCOTT HERBERTSON, RACE HORSE OWNER: I think it's a few bad apples making us look bad. You got guys pushing horses beyond their limits and causing these catastrophic accidents.

WATT: This is not just a 2019 issue, 29 dead so far this year. According to the CHRB, 37 died at Santa Anita last year, 54 the year before.

And it's not just a Santa Anita issue. It's nationwide, systemic.

JAMES GAGLIANO, PRESIDENT, THE JOCKEY CLUB: Our incidents of fatal injury is higher than most of the other countries we studied, in some cases as much as five times.

WATT: Jockey Club stats suggest ten race horses die in the U.S. every week. Anti-racing activist Patrick Battuello claims the real figure is higher.

PATRICK BATTUELLO, HORSERACINGWRONGS.COM: We have documented over 5,000 confirmed kills on U.S. tracks just since 2014. We estimate that over 2,000 horses are killed racing or training across America every year.

WATT: CNN has not independently verified Battuello's figures.

HERBERTSON: I hope to think that even with some of the breakdowns be, the guys feel like the horse can run one more time and I think they just take the risks too many times.

WATT: Of three horses Jerry Hollendorfer has bought from Herbertson the past eight months, two of them are now dead, including Kochees.

HERBERTSON: Right about here, I think Mario feels them going wrong and just turn him pull out safe.

WATT: Kochees brought down at Santa Anita May 25, and was euthanized. Hollendorfer had bought the 8-year-old horse after a claiming race back in November. To enter, you put a price on your horse and anyone can buy it. Or claim it.

(on camera): When Jerry Hollendorfer claims one of your horses --

HERBERTSON: You just cringe. You hope for the best.

WATT (voice-over): Kochees was dead in a little over six months.

HERBERTSON: He knows his name.

[19:50:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Want a carrot?

HERBERTSON: If you're asking for a carrot, he starts swaying his head. A sweetheart horse.

WATT: After Kochees died he told the "Associated Press": We thought he would run real well. We thought he would win. In my mind, there is absolutely no doubt that that we've done every single thing properly with Kochees and all the rest of our horses too.

We don't yet know how Hollendorfer's three horses died at Santa Anita. We don't have those necropsies to the ongoing investigation.

(on camera): I called Jerry Hollendorfer. I told him we've noticed a few of his horses had died and that we've been hearing some pretty serious allegations against him. I asked him if he'd like to sit down and tell us his side of the story. He said no and he told me never to call him again.

(voice-over): Another California trainer Mike Pender right now is serving a 30-day suspension after training a horse with a fractured leg and shipping him to Golden Gate Fields in the Bay Area and trying to enter him in a race there. Pender said he couldn't talk to us until after the investigation.

(on camera): You've seen trainers training horses that are clearly unfit.

HERBERTSON: All the time.

CASSIDY: The jockeys are concerned. I'm riding for a big guy, I don't want to scratch the horse if he doesn't feel 100 percent because the guy will fire me or get mad at me. So, we've explained to the riders, look, you blame it on the veterinarians. You say hey, the vet said no.

GAGLIANO: There's a lot of money involved. There's a lot of different actors involved. And, frankly, the regulations are not good enough.

WATT (voice-over): And then there's the issue of medication. The Jockey Club states improper drug use can directly lead to horse injuries and deaths.

STEFAN FRIEDMAN, SPOKESMAN, SANTA ANITA PARK: Stopping the potential masking of injuries, that is how you are going to reduce these numbers.

WATT: According to the Dr. (INAUDIBLE) at UC Davis, more than 85 percent of horses that die on a track have a previous injury, which led to their death which might have been masked by meds.

MARY SCOLLAY, KY EQUINE MEDICAL DIRECTOR: Oftentimes people will say I just gave it to help the horse. He felt better with it. And yes, the horse did feel better with it, but in some cases the horse felt better than he actually was and that put that horse at risk of injury.

WATT: There are now cameras in every barn at Santa Anita and right now a trainer Billy Murray under investigation after an assistant was filmed allegedly doping horses at the end of March. We tried to speak to Murray after a hearing. He went to the men's room. He denies the charge.

Jerry Hollendorfer has been sanctioned for overmedicating and doping issues 19 times since 2006. We couldn't find any evidence of successful appeals.

CASSIDY: That doesn't surprise me.

WATT (on camera): It doesn't surprise? Why? Not?

CASSIDY: Because Jerry is tunnel vision. He does what he wants to do and that's it. You don't like it, it's too bad. I'm just saying.

WATT (voice-over): Hollendorfer's career earnings, nearly $200 million, total fines for those events in California, only $16,950. And it never suspended.

Bob Baffert is one of the most famous in racing, five time Kentucky Derby winner. Santa Anita is his home track.

BAFFERT: You know what? People don't understand Jerry felt really bad when he lost those horses. Felt really bad. He's a hall of fame trainer. He's a really good trainer. He does take really good care of his horses.

But he runs lower quality, you know, those claiming races, sometimes they can be, you know, it's tough.

WATT: We certainly are pretty sad when they get hurt, Hollendorfer has told the "A.P." The owners of Santa Anita and California authorities say they are reducing the use of riding crops, prohibited most meds in the 48 hours before a race or training, carrying out deeper pre-race and now even pre-training vet checks, bringing in a pet scanner, and cracking down.

But issues remain across America. Among them, racing in the U.S. is governed by 38 independent jurisdictions.

CASSIDY: You go to a different state, you don't know what the rules are.

WATT: Jockey Club now championing a congressional bill that would create a national anti-doping body to reduce the number of horses dying on America's tracks.

GAGLIANO: We think that we're at a tipping point. This is America's legacy sport, but it has to look inside and make some substantial changes.

WATT: Scott Herbertson believes strong pre-race exams will weed out the bad apples.

(on camera): Are you worried what people are going to say when they know that you've spoken to us?

HERBERTSON: I'm sure I'm going to get backlash probably from all sides, but I can't sit silently and watch this happen. It's too sick.


WATT: Now, they did close the track back in march while they were trying to figure out what is going on here. There are were calls in the past couple weeks for them to close it again from Senator Feinstein, from the governor of California, from California horse racing officials.

The owners of the track have refused. They say we have introduced sweeping groundbreaking changes. If we continue racing, we will see, we will prove that those reforms are working.

This is the last weekend of the Santa Anita season, so, Erin, fingers crossed.

BURNETT: Thank you so much, Nick.

And we'll be right back.


BURNETT: Thank for joining us on this Friday night. Don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT anytime. You just have to go to CNN Go.

Anderson starts right now.