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Trump Loses Appeal To Block Release Of Financial Records; Trump Comments On Long-Lasting U.S./China Trade War, On New Tariffs On France Shocks Global Markets; New Details On Public & Private Life Of Melania Trump In "Free, Melania". Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired December 3, 2019 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This just into CNN. A federal appeals court dealing another blow to the president's ongoing legal battle over his financial records. A circuit court ruling House Democrats can subpoena President Trump's financial records from financial institutions, Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

CNN's Kara Scannell is working through all of this as it's coming through.

Kate, this is -- it almost feels like deja vu because this is not the first time. This is another appeals court saying yet again that Congress has a right to subpoena his financial records as part of a congressional investigation.

What is this ruling saying?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: So this says -- it says that the banks, Capital One and Deutsche Bank, must turn over these financial records to Congress. And they're saying he should begin in one week's time with daily batches.

But they leave a carveout here, which we haven't seen in the other decision, saying that, if any involve personal sensitive information, such as a check that was made to cover a medical expense, that Congress doesn't really have a right to that, it doesn't fit their legislative purpose, which is the whole legal argument around Congress needs this, needs this information. And that's what Trump and his Lehman team have fought back against.

This --


BOLDUAN: They say it is a fishing expedition at its core and that's -- Congress says, no, we are investigating.

SCANNELL: Right, Congress is saying we need this for a legislative purpose. We might want to toughen our anti-money laundering rules, that sort of thing. BOLDUAN: Right.

SCANNELL: So this court is saying -- they're sending it back to the lower court to handle disputes over what fits in that category of sensitive information.

The big picture here is that this court is saying that the banks must turn over the financial records, with this small carveout.

But I think what we might expect to happen, as we've seen a lot of these cases, it's likely the president's team will appeal this.


And we just got a statement from Jay Sekulow, the president's personal attorney, and he says, "Legally, the subpoena is invalid as issued. In light of the second circuit's decision, we're evaluating our next options, including seeking review at the Supreme Court of the United States."

So this does seem like it's going to head to the court.

We already have the subpoena that the grand jury in New York for the -- working with the Manhattan district attorney's office, had sent to Mazars, Trump's accounting firm for his taxes. That's up at the Supreme Court.

There was another decision by a D.C. court appealing another subpoena to the Mazars and it's on its way to the Supreme Court.

BOLDUAN: We are seeing the path of where this headed but it's another critical step in this because that was another decision that had been waiting out there coming from the court.

Thanks, Kara. I really appreciate it.

Still ahead for us, President Trump is warning the U.S./China trade war could go beyond the 2020 election. And it's jolting markets already. That's ahead.



BOLDUAN: Just this morning, President Trump sending shock waves once again through global markets, indicating he's in no hurry to end the trade war with China that's already dragged on more for man a year.

Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think, in some ways, it's better to wait until after the election with China. But I'm not going to say that.


TRUMP: I just think that. I just tell you, in some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal. But they want to make a deal now and we'll see whether or not the deal will be right. It's got to be right.


BOLDUAN: Add to that, the White House is now threatening massive tariffs on goods coming from France. And 100 percent tariffs on various exports in retaliation for a new French tariff on tech companies, including those in the United States.

All of this is sending markets down today, as you see. Right now, down nearly 400 points.

So joining me is CNN Political Commentator, Catherine Rampell. She's an opinion writer for "The Washington Post."

Good to see you, Catherine. Thank you for being here.

First, I wonder when you hear the president say, do you believe him in terms of, in some ways, I think it's best to wait until after -- no way for you or I to know in this moment.

Why does he -- why is he saying that? Why would he think that? This has dragged on already with China for over a year. What would it mean to drag on for another?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It means a lot more uncertainty for businesses this. This is not a great environment for companies to be making decisions about where to invest, what kinds of contracts to sign, you know, where to locate their supply chain, right?

It's not just China. Obviously, there's been a lot of uncertainty basically throughout the world, with Mexico, Canada, with the E.U., with basically every country you can imagine.

So dragging this on even further is not going to make --


BOLDUAN: Who would -- to your point, who would it -- why would it be better? In some ways, he said it would be better to wait until after the election. For who?


BOLDUAN: Farmers, et cetera, have all said they need the trade war to end yesterday.

RAMPELL: Right. I think it's not better really for anyone. I think this is a sign that the negotiations are not going well. If you read between the tea leaves. Basically, every few months, we get told by this administration that, sometimes by the China state media, that a deal is in the offing. There are --


BOLDUAN: Final stage.

RAMPELL: Final stage, right. And markets go up. But it turns out to be a head fake, right? It looks like there's going to be a deal but, in the end, there isn't one.

Because, look, the kinds of issues we're negotiating with China over, some of which are very substantial, are sort of intractable structural issues. Things relating to intellectual property, things relating to subsidies for many industries within China. And there are major issues American companies care about but not easy to solve.

Trump can just come to sort of a fake deal -- he had been talk about the phase one deal where we would get the easier low-hanging fruit but inflicted a lot of pain on ourselves, by the way, We have five studies showing Americans are paying the tariffs that Trump has imposed. We're inflicting pain on ourselves in pursuit of a deal that doesn't seem to be in the offing.

BOLDUAN: I also think, hearing that statement from the president this morning, aside from China, is there another singular issue that could impact the Trump economy in such a major way other than China in an election year?

RAMPELL: There are a lot of things I would argue the administration has done that affect the economy. Some for better, some for worse. Certainly the tax cuts have juiced markets at the very least. I don't think they'll have a huge long-lasting impact.


BOLDUAN: Letting this linger through an election year, I feel like this is -- could be the singular biggest issue that could impact the economy.

RAMPELL: You have farmers suffering, manufacturers who are suffering. We now have a farmer bailout that is twice the size of the auto bailout from 10 years ago under Obama that Republicans opposed, as you may recall.

So there's a lot of sort of efforts at cleanup to try to buy off votes, I think, at this point. But the real problem is that we have all of this uncertainty --



BOLDUAN: What -- I guess adding to the uncertainty is then this report that China will put out a list -- of the way it's described in Chinese state media is a list of unreliable entities that could lead to sanctions on American companies. What would that mean in terms of the next front in this war?

RAMPELL: I think what it signifies is that if markets had been hoping for tensions to be cooling they are not. Again, we keep on having these head fakes.


RAMPELL: As others have pointed out, like Lucy and the football at some point. We keep on hoping there will be a resolution, whether or not it gets at those big structural changes is a separate problem -- is a separate question.

But markets, industry, companies keep hoping that they'll be at least some cooling of tensions, lifting of tariffs. And there has been some sort of temporary cease-fires. We're in the middle of one right now.


RAMPELL: But then you get announcements like this one that suggest, never mind, there may not actually be any resolution.

BOLDUAN: Yes, once again.


And, look, if you're China, why would you want to have a deal that makes -- especially significant concessions with this president in the White House.

He has been shown that when he's made other deals he doesn't honor his side of the bargain. That happened with the new NAFTA. Shortly after we signed a new NAFTA agreement, he announced new tariffs on Mexico, which he ultimately didn't impose.

BOLDUAN: No one would say it's easy. But you wonder if comments like this is helping at all that we're hearing from the president in trying to get to anywhere close to that final phase, finally.

Good to see you, Catherine. Thanks so much.

Coming up for us, new details on first lady, Melania Trump, and her life inside the White House over these past three years. We're going to talk CNN's Kate Bennett about her revealing new book, out today.



BOLDUAN: Melania Trump is back on the world stage as well with President Trump in London. They're headed to a tea shortly with Prince Charles and the duchess of Cornwall in a few minutes.

When it comes to the first lady, it really seems everyone has a theory about Melania Trump. As the "New York Times" puts it real well today, "If administration is a Rorschach test, she's a splash of ink across the White House. She is either a prisoner in the White House or she rules the roost. She's estranged from her husband or a close and influential adviser." And many more.

Someone with some new insights here, my colleague, Kate Bennett, out with a new book called "Free, Melania, An Unauthorized Biography," out today. She joins me from Washington.

It's great to see you, Kate.


BOLDUAN: Thank you.

What about all these theories? Her relationships, not only with President Trump but also with her stepdaughter, Ivanka, and the second lady, Karen Pence.

BENNETT: What I try to do in the book is sort of give a comprehensive look at Melania Trump's world. And Ivanka Trump is very much in it. She's been there for the 20 years that she and Donald Trump have been together. Ivanka Trump and Melania have had a warm relationship. But the White House years have really caused some friction.

It's an unprecedented situation. You have two glamorous women. They both have the ear of the president. They're both influential. They both have overlapping objectives at times. And it's created a behind- the-scenes deterioration in their relationship. And sometimes, backstage, things have gotten a little more complex when you consider this bizarre role of first daughter meshed with this role of first lady.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

What about with Karen Pence? I bet you have some very interesting insights into that relationship.

BENNETT: Starting out, for Karen Pence, Melania Trump seemed like the exotic unicorn. It couldn't be more different. She was a model, had posed naked in risque photographs, she's the third wife. She's anything but the traditional, value-centric Karen Pence.

In the beginning -- again, my reporting shows it wasn't always, right off the bat, a super warm friendship. Lately, the two have done more events together. I was with them on a couple trips lately and they seem to be more in lockstep.

But right off the bat, there was a behind-the-scenes, again, motion going on where people don't know what to make of Melania Trump, and Karen Pence is one of those people.

BOLDUAN: People don't know what to make of the relationship between Melania Trump and President Trump. And you have some new and interesting insights into kind of how they operate and how it works, kind of, between them, if you will. What's your theory, Kate?

BENNETT: You know, people are often surprised when they ask me, does she hate him, what's it like behind the scenes. Actually, the answer is no. They get along quite well. They're close. They speak throughout the day. They often are on the phone together. She gives him advice. She's very vocal about her opinions. He doesn't always take them.

She's an influence and she's his eyes and ears in a lot of ways. And she can maintain that because she's publicly very private, publicly quiet. But behind the scenes, she and her husband have, over their two decades together, forged a relationship that might not look like a traditional marriage but it works for them.

And certainly, you know, behind the scenes -- you always have those couples when you go to a dinner party and you walk away going, why is he with her? She's so funny and he's so dull, or vice versa. I think people question it, and that's normal. But for them, it works.


BOLDUAN: Real quick, have you gotten any response from the White House about your book?

BENNETT: Not yet, no. And again, Melania Trump, being a very private person, I'm not sure that I will. But certainly, you know, I cover the beat. They know I've been working on a book, so we'll see.

BOLDUAN: And you'll continue to cover it. And it's a great read.

Kate, thank you so much. Congratulations.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: "Free, Melania" out today.

Still ahead, a busy day ahead for President Trump. Moments from now, he meets with members of the royal family.


Plus, what's the fallout going to be after that faceoff we saw play out this morning with the president of France?