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Trump's Banks Must Reveal Tax Returns; Epstein Accusers Speak Out; Trump Suggest His Resort for G-7 Summit; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) is Interviewed about Russia Banning U.S. Senators. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired August 27, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] ASMA KHALID, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: And that is essentially to challenge either Merkey or Warren.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Keep an eye on it. That could be huge.

All right, thank you very much for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Alex Marquardt is in for Brianna Keilar. He starts right now.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Alex Marquardt, in for Brianna Keilar.

Underway right now, on alert, a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch issued for Puerto Rico as Dorian strengthens with Florida potentially in its path.

Any moment the president's banks will be forced to reveal whether they have his tax returns.

A judge rules that a pharmaceutical giant is to blame for one state's opioid crisis. Who's next?

Plus, is Brazil saying no thanks to over $20 million to fight the Amazon fires? A curious statement from Brazil's president.

And as President Trump attacks his predecessor on foreign soil, while praising a former KGB agent, the question remains, why is the American president so differential to Vladimir Putin?

Right now all of Puerto Rico is under a hurricane watch. Tropical Storm Dorian is speeding towards the U.S. territory, gathering strength as it gets closer. Residents are stocking up on the essentials, food, water and gas. And as they prepare for this potentially dangerous storm, they are still dealing with the destruction left behind by Hurricane Maria, which hit just two years ago.

Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is here.

Jennifer, Puerto Rico, of course, a place that has already seen so much, especially with Maria two years ago. When do we know that Dorian will hit and how bad do you think it's going to be?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's expected to hit tomorrow evening, so conditions will continue to deteriorate throughout the day, especially tomorrow. The problem with this storm is it's so small and so any little jog in this track could mean the difference in one area getting all the wind and rain and an area getting no wind and rain. So it's going to be -- we're going to have to pay very close watch on exactly where this storm is going to go because the tropical storm force winds extend about 50 miles from the center. Right now carrying winds of 50 miles per hour with gusts of 65 moving to the west-northwest at 13.

And so here's a closer look at it there across the Windward Islands. And as it continues to push to the north and west, it will make that brush with Puerto Rico on Wednesday evening. And, like we mentioned, could take a little bit more of a jog to the east. If it does, that's going to mean more of a direct impact to Puerto Rico. If it makes a little bit more of a jog to the west, it could mean not as many impacts or very little impacts to Puerto Rico. So still we have to pay very close attention.

And then what's interesting is it's going to be its interaction or possibility of interaction with Hispaniola with the very mountainous terrain there. A lot of times that can shred up these storms and make them a lot weaker. So what kind of state this storm is on the north side of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico will tell us a lot about what's going to happen in southeast United States by the time we get to the end of the weekend. So still a lot of questions about this one, Alex, and we're going to continue to watch it.

MARQUARDT: And we know you'll be keeping a close eye on that.

Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.

Now, any moment, Deutsche Bank and Capital One will have to reveal whether or not they have President Trump's tax returns. The court has issued a 4:00 p.m. deadline today after those banks repeatedly refused to confirm whether they have the president's returns. The bank lawyers are trying to block House Democrats' attempts to access Trump's financial records.

Sara Murray joins me now.

Sara, good to have you with me.

Is there any indication on what the banks will do? And what happens if they don't adhere to that deadline set by the court?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're waiting to see. I mean they still have a couple of hours. But, Alex, I can tell you, last week's oral arguments were certainly very awkward as these judges were asking these banks to answer this question of whether or not they have the president's tax returns and they continue to refuse to answer it citing contractual obligations.

Well, now the judges have moved forward. They have issued this order and said, you need to answer us in some form by 4:00 p.m. today.

Now, what that means we will know publicly, that still remains to be seen. They could file an unredacted version privately and we may still see this redacted version that doesn't actually answer the question publicly. But, again, we should know by 4:00 p.m.

MARQUARDT: All right, Sara Murray, thanks very much.

Now staying in legal news, soon the actress from "Full House," Lori Loughlin, and her husband will appear in federal court for a hearing in the country's largest college admissions scandal. The couple is accused of paying $500,000 to a fake charity to get their two daughters accepted into the University of Southern California claiming that the two girls were crew team recruits, which, of course, they weren't. The last time Loughlin arrived in court, it was quite the scene. You can see there. The actress smiled and greeted fans in downtown Boston. A day before that, she was seen signing autographs. Loughlin and her husband have pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, in New York, Jeffrey Epstein's accusers are getting their day in court. Today a judge is allowing Epstein's alleged victims to tell their harrowing claims of sexual abuse in front of a packed courtroom. Visibly emotional, and even angry at times, some of them took to the podium to say that they'll never really heal from all the pain and heartbreak that he caused, calling Epstein a coward after the sex offender's suicide in a New York jail.

[13:05:23] And although the charges against Epstein will likely mostly be dismissed, now that he's dead, his accusers say they won't be silenced.

Joining me now is former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams.

Elliot, this was an unusual move by the judge today. Tell us how significant it was to let these alleged victims speak out.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So it's not uncommon to -- well, not even not uncommon. You can't convict a dead man so certainly the trial was going -- the case was going to be dismissed anyway. What was remarkable was letting the witnesses testify. And I think there are two things going on. Number one, it's an act of public service. There's a bit of closure and catharsis that certainly many of the victims needed and the public could use by having them put their -- get their words out there because they wouldn't have had a chance to.

Number two, he's also -- the judge is creating a record for future proceedings. So remember Epstein has co-conspirators that would have helped him and they could potentially be charged at some point down the road. And everything that's said in court today could be relevant in those proceedings down the road.

MARQUARDT: But even if the charges are dropped, we did hear and we are hearing throughout the course of the day these awful stories. And even if there is some closure emotionally for them to some extent and if there's some closure for society, do these young women have any legal -- do they have any routes to pursue this legally?

WILLIAMS: There are two. Again, so there are going to be future charges against co-conspirators because, again, it's hard to run a sex trafficking ring in your home unless people aren't helping you, and so there could be people charged.

But also some of these accusers can bring civil suits against Epstein's estate. You know, he has certainly sizeable assets that can be gone after. And so certainly, again, it was very much in the interest of many people to get this testimony on the record today.

MARQUARDT: Right, and undoubtedly there will be people pursuing that.


MARQUARDT: I want to switch gears, Elliot, back to what Sara was just talking about in terms of these banks and whether they will reveal whether or not they have the president's tax returns.

In the past, they have cited contractual obligations as an excuse really for not revealing this. They have a 4:00 p.m. deadline today, just a few hours from now. How do you see this playing out?

WILLIAMS: So it's hard to know what the contractual obligation is. It seems that what they're trying to do is protect their own legal liability because they -- they're stuck between a duly executed subpoena from Congress and a certain lawsuit from the president of the United States if they turn those tax returns over.

So they -- they're kind of stuck right now. It's hard to see how they don't wish and try to comply with congressional subpoena. Again, Congress -- regardless of what the president says about Congress, it's still an investigative body and a bank -- they said at the beginning of this process that they were going to comply with congressional subpoenas. So it's hard to see how they don't. But they're going to be sued by their client, the president.

MARQUARDT: All right, that deadline just under three hours from now.

Elliot Williams, a big day on the legal beat. Thanks so much for joining me.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: All right, coming up, why is President Trump still advocating for Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile attacking President Obama on foreign soil.

Plus, as a judge rules that Johnson & Johnson is to blame for one state's opioid epidemic, what might happen in other states?

And I'll be speaking with the Republican who is thinking about running against President Trump, who is heckled by Trump supporters at a recent event.


[13:13:39] MARQUARDT: We have some breaking news.

A Missouri law banning abortions after eight weeks will now not go into effect. A federal judge just blocked the law, which was scheduled to go into effect on Wednesday. Today's ruling comes after two other federal judges blocked similar abortion restrictions in Arkansas and Ohio earlier this summer.

Now, switching gears.

President Trump on his way out the door from this year's G-7 Summit in France is already thinking about next year's gathering, which the U.S. is hosting. His plan is to host that group of international leaders at his Trump National Doral in Florida, a private resort that he still owns and profits from.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Doral happens to be within Miami.

The airport's right next door. We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants. We have many hundreds of acres so that in terms of parking, in terms of all of the things that you need, the ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida.

Each country can have their own villa or their own bungalow.


MARQUARDT: That suggestion raising all kinds of legal and ethical red flags. And as our next guest explains, he puts into question whether the president is acting on behalf of the United States or of the Trump Organization.

In a new op-ed in "The Washington Post," Dana Milbank writes, quote, we. With that pronoun, Trump spoke not as president of the United States but as de facto head of the Trump Organization. And now he endeavors to abuse his status as host of next year's G-7 Summit to force foreign countries and U.S. taxpayers to pump millions more dollars into one of his properties. Trump is essentially requiring foreign governments to pay him the very definition of unconstitutional emoluments. Is this a president or a timeshare salesman?

[13:15:29] That writer, Dana Milbank, joins me now.

Dana, president or a timeshare salesman. Explain.

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, why can't you be both these days?

You know, the president's been unapologetic about it from the beginning. He was going to relinquish some control over his business, but he still has the ownership. And all along the way he's taken the White House press corps and the world's attention to his properties in Ireland --


MILBANK: To Scotland, New Jersey, Mar-a-Lago in Florida, here in Virginia, and now we see him making this big play for Doral, another one of his properties, which would gain, you know, tens of millions of dollars from this as his other properties have done.

You know, people in the old days used to say this is unseemly, but, of course, this has become fairly standard these days.

MARQUARDT: You've also highlighted a number of things that the president has done in not being able to separate his personal interests from his role as leader of the country, namely reducing taxes to benefit the wealthy, lowering interest rates that would -- that would help him as well.

Are you arguing that he is unable to divorce his personal interests from his official role or is there more to it than that?

MILBANK: Well, I've seen in many cases that -- when he's speaking of "we" or he has a little bit of difficulty distinguishing between people respecting the presidency, respecting the country and respecting him. So, for example, we're now in some sort of a ludicrous fight with Denmark because their prime minister said his remark was absurd. And he said that's an insult to the United States --


MILBANK: As opposed to an insult to him. The Japanese prime minister nominates him for a Nobel Peace Prize. You see, Japan actually gets treated quite well in these -- as far as the trade war goes. So you see the president seems to not create a very great distinction between what is good for him and what is good for the country.

Now, sometimes they may be the same things, but in the case of Doral, that appears not to be the case.

MARQUARDT: And in the case of North Korea, you can call him a dotard, but that would have -- seemingly have no effect on whether you get a meeting with him.

The -- as you note, his -- our allies were careful to stroke his ego. After these days in the south of France, where at least in terms of policy it seemed that the U.S. was in a number of places isolated on the international stage, climate change, Iran, China, Russia. Do you think on a -- on a person-to-person level any of those world leaders came away with a different understanding of the president?

MILBANK: I suspect not. I mean I think maybe with the exception of Boris Johnson, who has some affinity to President Trump, they were all walking in there, you know, sort of like you might into a hostage situation, saying, let's see if we can get out of this without anybody being hurt. You know, the idea of even a communique, much less something substantive being agreed to was essentially off the table from the start. It really does seem like our allies are sort of waiting this out and hoping that things change in the United States, essentially going on with their business without us.

MARQUARDT: All right, Dana Milbank, thank you so much for joining me.

MILBANK: My pleasure, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Coming up, two U.S. senators have now been denied entry to Russia. You'll hear why.

Plus, the president's continued leniency on Vladimir Putin. A new twist on one of his presidency's biggest questions.

And Brazil now rejecting $20 million to help fight the historic fires in the Amazon, but the country's president may now be having second thoughts.


[13:23:38] MARQUARDT: Russia is blocking two U.S. senators from visiting that country. Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Both have said that they have been denied visas to Russia. Both serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Russia is saying that Johnson is on what they're calling a stop list for supporting anti-Russia legislation.

Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, joins me now.

Congressman, thanks so much for being with me.


MARQUARDT: First, I want to get your reaction to this news that these two senators have been denied visas to Russia.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, it's disturbing but not surprising. They would probably put me on the stop list and many of my colleagues for criticizing the Russians for pretty much being a menace on the world stage. Whether it's, you know, occupying parts of Ukraine and Crimea, or whether it's propping up the murderous regime in Syria, or, you know, interfering in our own democracy, the Russians don't like it when we criticize them. But, unfortunately, instead of the president backing up our critiques of Russia, he supports them. And I think he emboldens them to keep people like Ron Johnson and Chris Murphy and before them Senator John McCain, the late Senator McCain, out of Russia too.

[13:25:02] MARQUARDT: And Senator McCain said that he was proudly -- proud to be on that black list.


MARQUARDT: We see the president just got back from the G-7 in France. President Trump, while over there, claiming that Vladimir Putin outsmarted President Obama when it comes to that invasion of Ukraine and Crimea that you just mentioned. Trump repeatedly criticizing President Obama on several different subjects, repeatedly, while also saying that he then would like to invite President Putin to his golf club in Miami for next year's G-7 Summit. And we should note that Russia is not officially back in the G-7, although the president has said that he would like to see that happen.

What do you make of that, of him saying that it's better if Russia is inside the tent than outside? KRISHNAMOORTHI: I totally disagree. And most of the members of that

organization, the G-7, don't want Russia to be part of that anymore in light of, for instance, their practical annexation of Crimea. I think that this all raises the questions that we asked about in our questioning of Special Counsel Mueller when he came to Capitol Hill, whether there are linkages between President Trump and Russia that would raise counterintelligence risks.

It's very, very concerning that the president keeps currying favor with Putin, siding with Putin, trying to invite him back into these organizations, even in the evidence and in the face of all types of activity that we cannot countenance and that we criticize on a daily basis. You don't know what kind of linkages there are that would lead to this type of behavior and that raises a severe and serious counterintelligence question that we need to continue to explore in Congress to protect our country.

MARQUARDT: So is that how you're explaining it, that you're alleging that there are linkages?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: There is definitely linkages between Trump campaign officials or former Trump campaign officials and Russia. We learned during the hearing and during my questioning that Special Counsel Mueller did not come to any kind of counterintelligence assessments with regard to those linkages.

For instance, we don't know their financial ties, President Trump's financial ties or even his current business dealings with Russia. And that's something that we're trying to explore through, for instance, our investigation of Deutsche Bank and its relationship to President Trump and we're continuing with that investigation because we have to know what the risks are to mitigate them and to protect our country.

MARQUARDT: And one of the things that we do know thanks to the Mueller investigation, it's been backed up by the intelligence community, is that Russia did meddle in the 2016 presidential election.


MARQUARDT: And now as we look ahead --

KRISHNAMOORTHI: And they're planning to do so in 2020 as well.

MARQUARDT: Right. And a number of agencies and senior intelligence officials have said that they are doing it as we speak.


MARQUARDT: Robert Mueller said it as we sit here in his hearing there.

And now we're getting news from the Department of Homeland Security that they are planning, or at least going to try to protect state and local election databases from ransomware attacks, of which we have seen a large spate.

Those haven't necessarily been connected to any government, they have not been connected to any other country yet. But this notion, Congressman, that ransomware could take over these voter databases, how dangerous is that?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: It's very dangerous. And, in fact, even in Illinois, we've been -- some municipalities have been subject to these ransomware attacks and they've actually had to pay ransom in order to have their databases available to them again. And so to think that this might happen with a voter database is really very disturbing, to say the least. That's why, in Congress, under our leadership, we've put forward measures to try to add resources to state and local municipalities, as well as state elections authorities so they can protect our voter databases.

Unfortunately, these measures are now held up by Mitch McConnell in the Senate for no apparent reason. We don't understand why he would not want to protect the 2020 elections the way that most members of Congress would want. And, again, this is where I think President Trump plays a role. If he wanted this legislation to move forward, he would say so. He does not want to. So what -- why is that? What are they trying to do in preventing this type of election measure from moving forward?

MARQUARDT: Right. A scary new potential line of attack for those who wish to disrupt our elections.


MARQUARDT: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, thanks very much.


[13:29:57] MARQUARDT: All right. And this just in. The White House is now responding to pop star Taylor Swift. The singer last night called out the administration during the MTV Video Music Awards.