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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Twenty-Eight-Year-Old Suspect Charged In Killing Of Idaho Students, Facing Four Counts Of First-Degree Murder And Felony Burglary; Suspect Was Identified With The Help Of Genetic Genealogy After Unknown DNA Was Found In Idaho; Tax Returns: Trump's Own 2017 Tax Law Appears To Have Reduced Amount He Was Able To Deduct From His Tax Bill; Some Voters Continue To Support Rep.-Elect George Santos Despite Fraud Allegations; New Jan 6 Transcript: Ginni Thomas Says She Regretted "Tone And Content" Of Texts Sent To Meadows After 2020 Election. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 30, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: So, put on your party hats and raise a glass with them and their guests -- Usher, Kevin Hart, and Patti LaBelle, Anderson and Andy together again for New Year's Eve live from Times Square starting tomorrow night at eight Eastern.
And a quick thank you to Lindsey, Kelly, Ryan, Trevor and all our crew that's on the set here. Everybody have a wonderful New Year.
AC 360 starts now.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: It has been nearly seven weeks since four University of Idaho students were brutally stabbed to death likely as they slept, leaving some students too afraid to return what had been a quiet college campus. But late today, authorities arrested a suspect in the killings.
I'm Pamela Brown, in for Anderson tonight, and I'm just getting new information from a source familiar with the investigation. We're learning that the suspect actually drove cross country from Idaho to his parents' home in Pennsylvania and arrived there around Christmas. This source telling me it was a combination of DNA found at the crime scene, as well as the car that helped authorities figure out who the suspect was last week, and that is when law enforcement got together to sort all this out and then they made the arrest, culminating in everything happening today.
So they announced the arrest of Bryan Kohberger, this right here is his booking photo. He is a graduate student from Washington State University less than 10 miles from where the four victims attended school. He was arrested in Pennsylvania on four counts of murder in the first degree plus a separate charge of felony burglary.
As we said, sources tell CNN, his DNA was matched to DNA recovered at the scene of the deaths. And tonight, law enforcement is asking for the public's help with uncertainties still surrounding the case, including motive and location of the murder weapon. Authorities today are specifically asking media outlets to publicize this information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL THOMPSON, LATAH COUNTY PROSECUTOR: This is not the end of this investigation. In fact, this is a new beginning.
We all now know the name of the person who has been charged with these offenses. Please get that information out there. Please ask the public, anyone who knows about this individual to come forward.
Call the tip line. Report anything you know about him to help the investigators and eventually our office and the Court system understand fully everything there is to know about not only the individual, but what happened and why.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And the source telling me tonight that investigators are still looking into whether there was any relationship or connection between the suspect and the four victims.
CNN's Veronica Miracle is at the University of Idaho and has more.
CHIEF JAMES FRY, MOSCOW POLICE DEPARTMENT: Detectives arrested 28- year-old Bryan Christopher Kohberger in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania on a warrant for murder.
VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's the announcement Moscow, Idaho and much of the nation has waited to hear 47 days after the killing of four University of Idaho students, a suspect is now in custody.
Kohberger was arrested in Pennsylvania Friday on four counts of first- degree murder.
THOMPSON: In addition to felony burglary, which involves entering the residence with the intent to commit the crime of murder.
MIRACLE (on camera): Any indication that the suspect knew the victims?
FRY: That is part of the investigation as well. It won't be something that will come out at this point in time.
MIRACLE (voice over): Police also won't release a motive, but law enforcement sources tell CNN police were led to Kohberger after tracing the ownership of a white Hyundai Elantra seen in the area the night of the killings.
They learned Kohberger had left the Moscow area and was tracked to Monroe County, Pennsylvania, south of Scranton. Sources say the FBI surveilled Kohberger for four days until the arrest was made at 1:30 AM Friday. Kohberger's white Hyundai was also recovered though sources tell CNN and that his DNA was found at the crime scene.
FRY: Providing any details in this criminal investigation might have tainted the upcoming criminal prosecution or alerted the suspect of our progress.
MIRACLE (voice over): Kohberger is currently a grad student majoring in criminology at Washington State University in Pullman, less than 10 miles west of the crime scene in Moscow, Idaho.
Police spent the day searching Kohberger's campus apartment in Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bryan Kohberger.
MIRACLE (voice over): He graduated earlier in 2022 from DeSales University in Pennsylvania. A Reddit post Kohberger made while a student there indicates he worked on a study about how emotions and psychological traits influence decision making when committing a crime, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience.
Back in Moscow, the announcement is bringing the first signs of relief after weeks of fear.
ERIN STAHELI, MOSCOW RESIDENT: It's just been very scary not knowing who is out there.
MIRACLE (on camera): And now?
STAHELI: Well, I feel much better. I feel relieved, and so I'm just very happy the police have done their work.
BROWN: CNN's Veronica miracle joins us from Moscow, Idaho.
Veronica, a cleaning crew was seen at the house in Moscow where the crime took place. But that effort was halted, do we know why?
MIRACLE: Well, Pamela, we understand that cleaning crew arrived and they were stopped moments after they arrived because of a Court order. We asked police exactly who made this decision and why this Court order came down. They could not answer that question, but we did see that cleaning crew arrive, setup for just a few moments, and they were quickly ordered off of that property.
They were supposed to clean the house and turn it back over to the homeowner, but tonight, it remains a crime scene -- Pamela.
BROWN: All right, Veronica, thank you.
One of those questions we mentioned still surrounding this investigation was what was the suspect doing in Pennsylvania when he was apprehended?
Joining us now is CNN's Jean Casarez in Eastern Pennsylvania, outside the correctional facility in Monroe County where the suspect is being held.
So if you would, bring us up to speed about his connections there to Pennsylvania and how this arrest unfolded -- Jean.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Pamela, we have just learned some new information about that DNA that you were talking about at the top of the show. A source that is close to and has knowledge with the investigation tells me that it was genetic genealogy that helped them find who is now their suspect in this case.
That DNA was unknown DNA, it is always put through the CODIS database when there are no hits, genetic genealogy takes over, and it was put through public database that found potential familial relatives, and then it is old fashioned investigation work that proceeds from there.
But ultimately, they have to have the DNA from this potential suspect that they believe is the one to match with that unknown DNA.
Now, here we are in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This is rural Pennsylvania. He was arrested this morning at 1:30 in the morning, Albrightsville, which is about eight miles away, a very country area with farms, and yes, there are subdivisions, but they are rural subdivisions.
And from what we know, a CNN source tells CNN that the Philadelphia FBI was surveilling him right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the last four days.
While that was happening here, they were very busy in Idaho because the FBI, local police, and the Idaho State Police were putting together the information they had to form the probable cause to go before a Judge to get that arrest warrant.
It was the DNA, that source tells CNN along with the vehicle. Once they got that arrest warrant, a criminal complaint was filed yesterday, four charges of first-degree murder, and also a charge of burglary, the breaking and the entering of that home for the intent to commit a felony in that home.
He was arrested. He is right behind me now at the Monroe County Correctional Facility. He had a hearing this morning, but he has no bond. The next hearing will be a hearing on Tuesday for extradition.
Will he be extradited voluntarily? Or will the Governor have to step in front with the State of Idaho to get the proceeding going for him to get back there?
BROWN: Yes, that is a big question. We will have to wait and see what ends up happening on that front. But tell us a little bit more about what is next, right? Because there are still a lot of information that police have that they haven't released, right, in Idaho. CASAREZ: Absolutely. They say they have the car. We don't know at this point where the car is because the car could be in Idaho, it could be here in Pennsylvania or anywhere in between.
We also don't know how they knew he was in Northeastern Pennsylvania, if they surveilled him on that entire drive, because you're talking about across the entire country at this point, and most importantly, they don't have the murder weapon. They announced that today at the press conference.
But they made a plea today at that press conference that anyone that has any information of what happened and why did it happen, so that's going toward motive right there, right? They want to hear from those people. They say the investigation is ongoing, but this is a brand new phase of the investigation.
BROWN: Yes. They want to learn more about any connections to the victims. And just before the show, Jean, I was talking to a law enforcement source who said the suspect drove the car actually from Idaho arriving in Pennsylvania at his parents' house just around Christmas.
And as you noted, law enforcement had been there surveilling him, made the arrest and here we are.
CNN's Jean Casarez, thank you so much.
Perspective now from CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe; a former FBI Deputy Director; also CNN security correspondent, Josh Campbell, a former FBI special agent; and CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller, former Deputy Commissioner at the NYPD.
All right, so let's start with what we just heard from Jean, John, that this reporting that the DNA -- about the DNA, the genealogy and how it led authorities to the suspect. What have your sources been telling you about the DNA found at the crime scene?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: My sources have been telling me that DNA was a key of linking this individual to the crime scene.
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean it was the key to identifying him, and we expect to find more when we get the affidavit in support of the arrest warrant when he is returned to Idaho. But we also learned that he had a white Elantra, he was 15 minutes away from the scene, he arrived in, you know, Pennsylvania around Christmas.
Well, by then, the entire area was already looking for a white Elantra and giving police tips whenever they saw one. So, it is entirely possible that someone from where he was in Pullman, 15 minutes away, said, hey, there was a guy with a white Elantra and he just, you know, disappeared and you know, drove away and we haven't seen him. So we're still kind of waiting for those details to come together. As for the apartment and the cleaning crew, it's also entirely possible that as the cleaning crew was going to work this morning, they already had this arrest in place and he had been assigned a public defender with an attorney there. He may have even asked for, or they may have just put a halt on that thing, the defense might want to have their own examination of the crime scene before it is altered. So we'll have to kind of wait and see where that came from, but that is one likelihood.
BROWN: Andrew, a law enforcement source I spoke to just before the show said that it was really last week when the picture came together about the suspect, between -- it was the DNA, which was a significant part of the puzzle, as well as the car. And I'm told that the suspect drove the car, cross country all the way from Idaho to his parents' house in Pennsylvania, right around Christmas time.
And that, you know, law enforcement was aware of this. Tell us a little bit more about what might go into that.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure. So let's start with the DNA from the crime scene. You recover DNA that you think might belong to the perpetrator or somebody may be with the perpetrator. The first thing you do is you run it through CODIS, which is the National Criminal DNA database. If there is no hit in there, so that DNA doesn't currently exist in CODIS, then you go to the genealogy kind of examination that we understand they used in this case.
Now, if your person has -- his exact DNA is in the genealogy database, great. But more likely, what happens is you identify people who have familial connections, potentially with your DNA contributor.
Now you have to go out and investigate each one of those people to figure out if they're actually related to someone who lives in the area, maybe drives a white Hyundai, you know, those sorts of things. That could lead you to your suspect.
But you still don't know if it's the exact guy until you get a sample from that person, and then compare the original sample with the one you've obtained. That's typically done by just good surveillance, following that person around until they drink out of a water bottle, smoke a cigarette, leave something in a trash can somewhere that you can extract DNA from.
It is likely all of those things have been going on in the background over the last week or so, as they've closed in kind of really close the loop on this subject.
BROWN: Yes, because Josh, people may wonder, okay, well, the picture was emerging last week that this was their suspect. Why wasn't the arrest made until today, right?
But there's a lot that goes into making sure your ducks are in a row before you actually make the arrest. And now, there's a big part of the investigation left in terms of determining a connection between the suspects, a potential connection, I should say, between the suspect and the victims, right?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No, that's right and that is one key question we have. Was this someone who was targeting these people specifically? Or was this random? There's a lot here that tells us that it appears that the suspect had some kind of details about moving around that residence, especially at that time of hour and then for no one, you know, no neighbors to hear about it.
You know, to your point about building this case, what we know based on your great reporting, showing this suspect driving across the country under surveillance, that tells us that authorities likely at that point didn't have the probable cause to actually hook him up at that point. And so you had this surveillance effort that was underway.
I can tell you, you know, having worked in law enforcement, these are very resource-intensive operations. I was just looking at a map, depending on what route the suspect took, we're talking about at least eight different FBI field divisions that would have been part of this, involving surveillance teams and pickup teams and all kinds of assets in order to follow this person and of course, if this is a potential murder suspect, this is around the clock, 24-hour operation.
And we know from authorities that they were able to finally build that case and get that probable cause, and then early this morning, it was actually Pennsylvania State Police who put handcuffs on the suspect along with the FBI. And then now, they actually are moving through that extradition process to try to get that suspect back.
A lot of questions and a lot of it also, Pam, will come down to whether the suspect is actually talking, sometimes in these cases, suspects confess. They're proud of what they did. Other times, they lawyer up and the lawyer, a good lawyer would tell them not to speak and then they're having to -- authorities are having to rely on all this other evidence.
So that will be the key part, and then as John mentioned, once this probable cause statement from Idaho is actually unsealed which, according to their Supreme Court ruling only can occur once a suspect is back in the State of Idaho, we will likely learn more details how authorities got down to this person, and why they believe that he is the alleged killer here.
BROWN: All right, and we should make clear, you know, there is still a lot we don't know and we don't know if while he was making that cross country drive, if a tip came in some way along the line, and that is when you know, law enforcement was able to jump in and start surveilling him or tracking him.
There is still a lot we don't know, but the bottom line is he drove that white Elantra that had been widely publicized across the country from Idaho I am told by a law enforcement source to his parents' home in Pennsylvania.
It is interesting, John, that they were able to find the DNA in the crime scene. Obviously, the car was a big piece of this puzzle, but they still don't have the murder weapon. How critical is that in this investigation?
MILLER: Well, they don't need the smoking knife. They've got DNA, who -- I mean, they allegedly have DNA that puts the suspect on the scene. They have the car that was seen around the house, but the murder weapon would be good to have and they will look for it when they search the residence where he was arrested, at the residence they searched in Washington State University. They'll look for it when they search that car. All of those warrants are being processed now.
And they will keep looking for it. The interesting factor is that, you know, the killer brought an edged weapon with a fixed blade, which shows you know that they intended it -- they intended to use it for something at that place at that time and they took it with them, which may mean that the killer has an attachment to that weapon, which would suggest that they hung on to it, which would be good for the case.
On the other hand, as you pointed out, Pam, he had 38 hours of driving to throw it out the window and multiple desert roads and deserted places. So we'll have to see how they do with their search.
BROWN: We will have to see. John Miller, Josh Campbell, Andrew McCabe, thank you so much.
And still to come tonight, an in-depth look at the picture we are gradually putting together about this suspect, Bryan Kohberger.
Plus, a famed profiler who once worked at the FBI will join us with her observations about the suspect.
And then later, years after he promised to release them himself, which of course he never did, we finally know what is in former President Trump's tax returns. A detailed examination of the six years of returns released today by House Democrats.
BROWN: Well, we know a little bit about the 28-year-old graduate student, Brian Kohberger arrested today on four counts of first-degree murder and we are also learning more about how long he was in the sights of authorities.
Sources tell me tonight they were tracking him when he was driving and he drove from Idaho to his parents' home in Pennsylvania arriving there in Pennsylvania around Christmas.
But there is still much we do not know about his background, his relationship with the four people he is accused of murdering, if there even was a relationship, and the events that led to their deaths.
CNN's Camila Bernal has more on what we know.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A call to the public. Authorities in need of any information regarding Bryan Kohberger.
FRY: What we still ask is for people to continually send us things in the tip line.
BERNAL (voice over): His DNA and white Hyundai Elantra linking him to the case according to two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation, but more evidence is needed for a successful prosecution.
FRY: We are still looking for more information. We're still trying to build that picture just like we've stated all along. We're putting all the pieces together and that will help --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bryan Kohberger.
BERNAL (voice over): The 28-year-old graduated in May from DeSales University in Pennsylvania, with a Master's in Criminal Justice.
MILLER: This is someone who has been delving into the innermost sanctum of criminal thinking, who is now accused of a particularly horrific crime.
BERNAL (voice over): In Reddit posts removed after the arrest was made public, a student investigator named Bryan Kohberger thought participation in a research project associated with a DeSales University study. It was to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision making when committing a crime.
The post set the study sought to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience.
Most recently, he was a graduate student at Washington State University's Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology.
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: I am not at all surprised although really disheartened to find out that this suspect is a PhD student in Criminology at Washington State University. From the outset, we had to understand that this was an organized killer.
BERNAL (voice over): He was studying and living in Pullman, Washington, just a few miles from the crime scene. Police searched his university residence Friday morning.
JORDAN: This is a smart guy who is obsessed with crime.
BERNAL (voice over): He was arrested early Friday morning, giving law enforcement a clear focus for their investigation.
COL. KEDRICK WILLS, DIRECTOR, IDAHO STATE POLICE: This is not an ending, but rather a new beginning.
BROWN: Camila Bernal joins us now.
So Camila, Washington State University also released a statement tonight. What did they say?
BERNAL: Well, Pam, the Chancellor of the University saying they are shaken, that the entire region is shaken by this crime, saying they will long feel the loss for these students and added that she hopes this will be the beginning of a healing process.
Now in terms of the investigation, the university confirming that they helped in terms of the University Police execute the search warrant. There were two of them, one to his apartment the other to his office. They were both on campus with the university saying that they will continue to assist law enforcement in any way possible.
And then finally, Pam confirming that just this month, the suspect finished his first semester. He was a PhD student in the Criminal Justice Program. And again, he finished that semester just this month -- Pam.
BROWN: Camila Bernal, thank you so much.
So interesting. I'm joined now by Mary Ellen O'Toole, a retired FBI special agent and profiler who has worked on many high profile investigations, including those involving Elizabeth Smart and Natalie Holloway.
Mary Ellen, as we've reported, the suspect in custody has a Master's degree in Criminal Justice. You just heard there from Camila, he finished the semester. He was studying for his PhD. I wonder, is it unusual for someone accused of a crime like this to have an educational background in criminality? What do you make of that?
MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT AND PROFILER: Well, it's an interesting question, but it's not unheard of. So we had Ted Bundy who had a background in Psychology, his degree, bachelor's degree with psychology. We had BTK, bind, torture, kill, serial murder, his background, his academic background was also in criminology.
So that's not unusual that they will go to college. And they may even do well and study in an area that they find of interest. The Unabomber was a PhD in mathematics.
So we don't want to make too much of it until we learn more information about this individual and how he was using his academic training, academic knowledge and was he using that to help plan these cases? These crimes?
So I think there is a lot that we have to know before we can really understand where this knowledge, where this academic expertise comes into play.
BROWN: Right, and again, he is still, the suspect, innocent until proven guilty in this country. But certainly, police believe that this is their guy, this is who they have been searching for, this is their suspect.
And we also learned that a person named Bryan Kohberger had wanted to participate in a study at his university to "understand how emotions and psychological traits that influence decision making when committing a crime." If that is the same Bryan Kohberger, does that tell you anything?
O'TOOLE: If it is the same person, it certainly would be very interesting, because it would suggest that this suspect was really drawn to that kind of a topic, that kind of study, was interested in really trying to understand how murders are committed and what's going on in people's heads.
So that would certainly give the investigators and someone like me, a profiler, more information about perhaps how well-planned this crime was, what else went into the planning? How long was it in the planning?
So when you're interviewing someone, you've really got to do your homework of the suspect, you have to understand more about them than what they're going to tell you. So if there is this kind of planning, through academics and through research, if you know about it ahead of time, if they simply say, I just don't know, I just don't know why I did it, I just chose that house, I went in there and I did it. You're going to know based on your knowledge and your own homework, that that's simply not the case.
BROWN: In the other cases you mentioned, is it typical that the person already has those tendencies, are already interested in committing a crime had already been having, you know, imagining it, and then they go on and study it or could it be that someone goes and studies that and then suddenly they're just really interested in it and then they're like, they want to put it to use?
O'TOOLE: No, it's really the former. An interest is there and they pursue that academic interest, but the personality is such -- the personality is really involved someone that is, in many cases, very cold blooded, very predatory in their actions without empathy for another human being.
So the academics don't determine the crime. It's the academics that are an addition to the interests that the offender already has in that kind of behavior.
BROWN: Mary Ellen O'Toole fascinating conversation. Thank you.
Well, the long legal fight is over, and now, you or anyone else can see what's and Donald Trump's tax returns from six years including much of his time as President, the most significant findings so far, up next.
BROWN: Well tonight, one a Former President Donald Trump's most closely held secret is a mystery no more. The world is finally seeing what Democrats fought to obtain, review and ultimately reveal six years' worth of Trump's personal tax returns. The House Ways and Means Committee which will be taken over by Republicans next week released thousands of pages of documents today, covering six years from 2015 to 2020.
But all those numbers are merely raising new questions. Our Kristen Holmes is here to help us sort through all of this paperwork. So Kristen, what are the biggest takeaways from these tax returns?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Pamela so we knew some of this, but we learned so many more details through as you said these thousands of pages that cover six years of his tax returns. So let's start with his income tax and what he paid while he was in office. We have now learned that he had paid to us $750, only in 2017 2018 and 19, he paid a total of $1.1 million and in 2020, he paid $0.
Now, the way he was able to do this was by claiming large losses that he carried over but I talked to a number of tax experts who point directly to that $0. And they said that they believe this could signify actual business failures. You have to remember that some of this is strategic accounting.
It's something that they carry over those losses intentionally in order to offset their income, but that $0 is something that might indicate actual problems with his businesses. The other big takeaway that I saw was tax experts raising questions about claims that Trump had on his businesses. In one case in particular says in 2017, he said that his DJT Aerospace company which is operates his helicopter income was $42,965, that is a very specific number.
HOLMES: Well he claimed the exact same amount in expenses meaning the net was zero and there were no taxes on it. So a lot of questions there as to how that would work? One expert telling me that was statistically impossible to have those numbers line up like that.
BROWN: Yes, that was very, very specific number. So one of the points of concern was that the Former President might be receiving income from foreign entities during his time as President, what did his returns tell us about that?
HOLMES: Well, this was absolutely something that we were looking for, because Trump's business dealings were a huge part of the narrative around his presidency. And what we found was that he held foreign bank accounts throughout his entire presidency. And there's one in particular that is raising a lot of eyebrows.
So if we look at this, in 2015, he had bank accounts, United Kingdom, Ireland and China. 2016, United Kingdom, Ireland, China, St. Maarten. 2017, United Kingdom, Ireland, China. There are a lot of questions about why he was still holding a bank account in China and I've talked to several business analysts who say they want to know more about that. What were his actual business interests in China? And is there any indication that his policies were impacted by the fact that he had this business interest there. We're talking about foreign governments and foreign taxes, one other thing to point out.
We already talked about his income tax in the U.S. in 2017, he only paid $720. But that same year, he paid a million dollars in foreign taxes. The reason why this is significant, it is custom for a businessman who has entities across the globe to pay this kind of money.
But what it sheds light on is that as President, we now know that while he was serving in the White House, where his actual business interest lies in some of those countries, India, China, Turkey and Mexico. These are things that now there is questions about whether or not again, was his policy, or was there any impact on how he was acting, because he had these business interests in these countries?
BROWN: Yes, those are very fair questions. Kristen Holmes, thank you very much, with us now, Russ Buettner, an Investigative Reporter for the New York Times. So Russ, you've been reporting on the Former President's finances for years. What do you make of these returns? Did anything jump out at you?
RUSS BUETTNER, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think on the returns themselves, what you see is sort of a continuation of what we reported earlier, based on 20 years of his tax returns, which is that the businesses that he runs, really don't make money very often, often they lose money.
And he subsidizes that with money from his inheritance, money from his entertainment work on the apprentice and endorsement deals that don't really require any sort of business expertise but had been incredibly lucrative to him. There was a great example in this latest trove where during his one year that he reported a significant positive income, that was 2018 of about $24 million.
It looked like it had been a turn for him because that was the first year he reported positive income in more than a decade. But actually, what happened is he sold assets that he inherited from his father for $26 million. So that more than accounted for all of that positive income and that's been a theme throughout his life. And then you see other things in terms of kind of working the tax laws to his favor in ways that are somewhere between aggressive and just outright audacious.
BROWN: So, you know, does it surprise you based on what we know, then, like you're pointing out I mean, these things that would raise questions maybe audacious that the Former President's tax returns did not receive a more comprehensive audit?
BUETTNER: I think that's absolutely shocking. I mean, if you think about this, for a regular worker, your employer sends a W-2 to the IRS. You report a number that has to match that W-2 on your reform. Those numbers have to match up exactly right, or you've got a real problem. But what you see here is that Donald Trump is reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, more in expenses to report losses. And no one is going in to ask him to substantiate that. In fact, the IRS when this begins has an open audit for a refund that he obtained of $72 million dollars in 2009 and they're still reviewing that all these years later.
That's not resolved, even to this date, as far as we know, that's not resolved. And they have one auditor assigned to look at these 500 tax returns that he files every year until pressure increases and they upped that to three which is still wholly inadequate. And they are still not even thinking about reviewing all of those businesses, just his personal return and a couple of the business entities.
BROWN: Is there anything in these returns that you could see potentially becoming a part of another investigation, such as those currently being run by Special Counsel Jack Smith with the Justice Department?
BUETTNER: It's a great question. It's a frustration I think of tax returns. These are not his complete tax returns.
BUETTNER: As I said he files about 500 business returns a year. This is six business returns and his personal ones there are things that raise questions in a tax return. My experience is that the four corners of a tax return don't generally show a red flag that sort of points straight to an indictment, but there are things that require further examination.
There's a charitable donation that he claimed the tax return just shows it was a charitable donation of land for $21 million, but the underlying story of that is land he bought around in a state in Westchester County. He tried for more than a decade to develop it, he failed, it wasn't really worth very much, but yet he got an appraisal to say it was worth $21 million filed that in order to lower his taxes that year. And in future years, the IRS finally under pressure started looking at that and there it seems going to say it was worth somewhere between 8 million dollars and 0.
So those are the sorts of things that like could be looked at more. There are a lot of expenses that are quite suspicious that should be looked at his golf course in Bedminster one year, the category of general and administrative expenses increases fivefold and it's just not explained. Somebody should go in and look at that and figure out whether that's a real number or he's padding it with other things.
BROWN: Yes, there's so a lot of questions that remain. Russ Buettner, thank you so much. Still ahead tonight as the list of George Santos is lies continues to grow. So is the backlash he's facing now. Both his voters and campaign donors say they feel betrayed what sources have been telling me and my colleagues, details on that next.
BROWN: Tonight new details on incoming Congressman George Santos's campaign finances records that his campaign filed with the FEC show 37 expenses that were just one penny below the threshold to keep receipts $199.99. The violin also has several unusual expenses, including an exorbitant amount spent on air travel and hotels, and more than $10,000 in what are listed as rent payments to the company cleaner 123. The company's address is a house on Long Island where Santos's district is located.
Santos is also facing more trouble tonight over his rampant lies. Several of his campaign donors told me and my producer Alli Gordon they feel betrayed, but it's not just his donors. Voters and his district are also outraged. Some want him to resign. CNN's Eva McKend has the story.
TEODORA CHOOLFAIAN, VOTED FOR GEORGE SANTOS (ph): I am completely betrayed.
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER (voice over): In George Santos's Long Island district the outrage is palpable.
CHOOLFAIAN: George Santos is a fraud. I no longer supported him.
MCKEND (voice over): Democrats and Republicans angry in the wake of revelations, Santos lied extensively about his personal background and credentials to door to fie and voted for Santos and was drawn to his positions on pushing back on COVID-19 measures in school. My time, my choice.
MCKEND (voice over): But the Nassau County mom showed up at a rally this week, organized by state Democrats to call on him to resign.
CHOOLFAIAN: The whole persona that he created in the ability to deceive us is just so troubling. This man should not be allowed to be in office and we all know it. I wanted to show you the Republicans not to.
MCKEND (voice over): Among a slew of fabrications, Santos also misrepresented himself as Jewish and claimed his grandparents were Holocaust survivors, something genealogists say there is no record of.
JACK MANDEL, JEWISH COMMUNITY LEADER: He is - person. He's a person that's really not there.
MCKEND (voice over): Jack Mandel is a Jewish Community Leader who met Santos twice and thought he was the kind of fresh face, the district needed, but now?
MCKEND (on camera): Given what you know, now, if the election was tomorrow, and you had to do it all again, would you vote for George Santos?
MANDEL: Absolutely not. I couldn't good conscience. Once someone lies to me, I can never trust that individual again. The Holocaust is something that touches the heart of every Jew, and someone that would use that as a talking point as a vote getter. I think he is wrong.
MCKEND (voice over): But some say he shouldn't have the opportunity to further explain himself.
HENRY GOLIS, SUPPORTED SANTOS CAMPAIGN (ph): The man deserves his say and he has to answer to a lot of personal questions. Why we're at the situation, the bottom line, at the end of the day, he has to own up to everything.
REP. TOM ZMICH (R-NY): He hasn't done anything wrong. As far as legality wise, he admitted he lied and most Christian people believe in forgiveness. Maybe not forget, but move on. Let's see what happens.
MCKEND (voice over): And disappointed voters are not the only concern for Santos, federal and local prosecutors now investigating the incoming congressman who was set to be sworn in next week.
MCKEND: So the responses are somewhat varied. Even that Jewish community leader that we spoke to, even though he said he wasn't going to vote for Santos again, if he had the opportunity, he wasn't outright calling for him to resign. One thing seems to be pretty consistent, though in Manhasset, in Oyster Bay, in Great Neck, these communities.
This is a very wealthy district, but these communities not always in the national spotlight. And I think that there is consistent disappointment that now it is because of this Congressman elect that has told so many lies, that they are receiving this type of attention. I should note though, that the district also includes parts of Queens as well, Pam.
BROWN: All right, thank you so much Eva McKend. Joining me now is Democratic Congressman from New York, Ritchie Torres. Congressman Torres, we just heard from some of Congressman elect Santos assumed to be constituents. What do you think about what you heard there? Do you think they deserve some sort of recourse now that we know they were lied to on so many different fronts?
REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): George Santos should resign. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, he's a sociopath who is essentially for to the voters of New York State.
TORRES: And Mr. Santos not only lies, but he lies, about his lies. He claims that he never lied about his work experience that he only embellished his resume. He claims that he never said that he was Jewish that he was only two hyphenated ish and all of these lies would be laughable where the stakes not so serious.
We're not for the fact that this Charlatan, the snake oil salesman, is about to become a United States Congressman, and he's about to have access to sensitive information affecting matters of national security. When you're a member of Congress, you receive security clearance by virtue of the position you hold. And I have no confidence that a Republican controlled House is going to protect the public from the future fraudulence of George Santos.
BROWN: What about the donors in this case? I spoke with several campaign donors and people who attended as fundraisers today and they told me they felt disappointment. They felt conned, betrayed following the allegations of fraud and misrepresentation against this incoming Congressman, should they get their money back?
TORRES: I mean George Santos should resign and he should return every single contribution and even worse than his line is as possible law breaking. As late as May of 2020, he reported earning a salary of $55,000 a year. Then in 2021 and 2022, he reported earnings somewhere between 3.5 and $11.5 million.
That's an astronomical growth in his personal wealth that he's never fully explained. And he lent his own campaign over $700,000. And he claims the source of the money is the Devolder Organization which he owns, but this organization is shrouded in secrecy.
It has no public website. He's never revealed any of his clients on his federal disclosure as required by federal law. And so all of these are signs are grounds for suspicion and investigation.
BROWN: And we do know that investigators are looking into this at the federal and local level. But as you know, he has maintained his innocence and he has never broken any laws. He's not a criminal. He's not a fraud.
You plan to introduce a bill to require candidates to disclose under oath, their employment, educational and military history. It will be called the stop another Non Truthful Office Seeker Act, which put together, spells out Santos. But how do you think your Republican colleagues in the House should handle Santos once he is sworn in next week?
TORRES: The Republicans should call on him to resign and he certainly should be relegated to the margins. He should not be appointed to committees that have access to sensitive information. But the Republicans bear responsibility for George Santos.
Elise Stefanik, who's the GOP Conference Chair and a member of the New York delegation endorsed and raised $100,000 for George Santos. Republican leadership knew that he was a fraud and said and did nothing. And so as far as I'm concerned, the Republican Party's complicit in the fraud that George Santos perpetrated against the people of the United States.
BROWN: And we should note we've reached out to Stefanik's' office has not heard back at a donor did tell me that at least Stefanik did introduce this donor with Santos. But also a lot of people I've been talking to today are saying what about the Democrats? Where was their opposition research? TORRES: Look, there was a failure across the board a failure on the part of the Democratic Party on the part of the media, but ultimately, it's an indictment of the Republican Party. He's the Republican nominee, and no one in Republican leadership has said anything about him, even as a Republican DA has opened ended a criminal investigation into Mr. Santos. So we owe an apology and an explanation from the leadership of the Republican Party in the House.
BROWN: All right, Congressman Torres thanks for your time tonight. Well, the January sixth committee dropping a massive batch of new transcripts, including testimony from Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. How she explains tech she sent about challenging the 2020 election results?
BROWN: Tonight, new transcripts from dozens of witnesses who went before the January 6 committee. And this includes Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Text messages from 2020 show Thomas pleading with then, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to challenge the election results.
According to her testimony, Thomas told the committee "I can't say that I was familiar at the time with any specific evidence. I was just hearing it from news reports and friends on the ground, grassroots activists who were inside of various polling places that found things suspicious". CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray joins us now. So Sara, what more, can you tell us about Ginni Thomas's testimony?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLIICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Pam, and sent a wild Friday night with our team going over these transcripts. And of course, one of the big names is Ginni Thomas, the wife of Clarence Thomas. And look, you know, she is asked about these text messages that she exchanged with Mark Meadows, Former White House Chief of Staff, encouraging Meadows, encouraging Trump to continue contesting the election results and she does sound you know, a little bit sorry about that.
She says I regret the tone and content of these texts. That's what she told the congressional investigators, I really find my language imprudent and my choices of sending the context of these emails unfortunate, she added I would take them all back, if I could today. Clearly not happy that those texts are out there, although she still did stand by her belief that there was fraud in the 2020 election, even though as you just said she didn't have any specific evidence she could cite to that fact.
BROWN: Yes, she has long been a conservative activist and has long tried to argue that there was fraud in previous elections as well, but it's interesting to learn more of her testimony. She was always an intriguing witness, given the fact she's also married to a Supreme Court justice. She has also been digging through testimony from Tony Ornato, a key witness who served as the Trump White House Deputy Chief of Staff, what did he tell the committee? MURRAY: Yes, you know, Tony Ornato really came up because we got that bombshell testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, where she told the committee how or aide Donald Trump was when he was told he couldn't go to the Capitol on January 6. You know, she said she had heard this in part from Tony, Ornato. Well, Tony Ornato when he talked to the committee didn't recall all kinds of things.
I mean, he said he didn't recall Trump being angry. He didn't recall what had happened in the motorcade.