Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Trump Facing Questions Under Oath in Video Deposition; Inflation, Democratic Infighting Threaten Democrats Chances in 2022; Secretary of State Blinken Comments on Death of General Colin Powell. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 18, 2021 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Right now, former President Donald Trump is facing questions under oath in a video deposition about an alleged assault of protesters outside of Trump Tower in 2015. Here is some video you're looking at here. Trump is also facing a growing list of civil lawsuits now that he is out of office.

CNN's Kara Scannell is live outside Trump Tower in New York with much more on this. Kara, what are you learning about what's happening right now?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Kate, this video deposition was set to begin at 10:00, so it should be about 90 minutes under way. And this all relates to a case involving an alleged assault that took place just behind me outside of Trump Tower in 2015. A few men were protesting some of Donald Trump, who was then a candidate for president, some of his anti-immigration rhetoric. And according to the lawsuit, Trump's chief security officer allegedly assaulted the man, hitting one of them in the head.

Now, this lawsuit has been going on since 2015. In 2019, a New York judge said that the former -- or the current -- the former president's testimony was indispensable to this lawsuit but it had been delayed because he was still in office. That brings us to today, this morning, 90 minutes ago this got under way.


And as you said, this is one of many civil lawsuits that's facing the former president. And it's not the only deposition he will be giving. A judge in another case, that's the defamation lawsuit brought by the former apprentice contestant, Summer Zervos, a deposition will take place in that case by the end of the year. And there are many other civil litigation that is ongoing involving a bunch of investors in a company has sued the former president and his family members, alleging that they promoted this, what they called a multilevel marketing scheme. There's also litigation involving January 6th insurrection, the 2020 election, and these ongoing criminal investigations as well, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Kara, thank you so much for that.

Joining me now for more on this is Defense Attorney and former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu. It's good to see you, Shan. I mean, there are a couple of fascinating aspects to this talking when you're talking about this deposition that's under way. Chief among them, how do you depose someone who lies all the time, I mean, even when caught in a lie, continues to lie?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The best way to deal with a lying witness is to get very clear and lock them into their lies. So, it's a fiction that you're going to break that witness, like in some T.V. series or movie. You want to really be clear, lock them in so that lie is completely boxed in and that opens them up for sanctions later or you can use that lie to confront them when they tell a different story.

BOLDUAN: And, Shan, I've heard people say that this deposition could come back to haunt him. Do you think that's the case and why?

WU: Absolutely. It will come back to haunt him for what we were just discussing for those reasons, because he'll be locked in under oath to a position and he'll be hard-pressed to change it later, to say, I didn't say that, which he likes to tell the big lie. And also it can open doors in related cases as well, particularly in this bodyguard aspect.

It's interesting. It's a little bit of an analogy to what kind of communications, what kind of directions would he give to his bodyguards similar to what kinds of communications was he giving about the January 6th insurrection, which was also violent.

BOLDUAN: He's been deposed before, December 2015 was one of them, part of the lawsuit over Trump University. And at the time, I remember the reporting on this much later, he said he didn't recall 35 times, and he had, I want to play, this exchange with the attorney questioning him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you've stated though that you have one of the best memories in the world.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't know. Did I use that expression?


TRUMP: Where? Could I see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can play video of you of a reporter reporting --

TRUMP: No. Did I say I have a great memory or one of the best in the world?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the best in the world is what the reporter quoted you as saying.

TRUMP: Well, I mean, I don't remember that. As good as my memory is, I don't remember that. But I have a good memory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you don't remember saying you have one of the memories in the world?

TRUMP: I don't remember that.


BOLDUAN: I mean, if that's how Trump operates this time, what can be learned if he can't recall anything?

WU: If he consistently takes that position, the way to go at him is through other documentation of what he said, memos, other people's testimony, email, things that he can't really go against other than to claim he doesn't remember.

From a strategic point of view, you don't really want to do what that attorney did, which is to get into a he said, he said thing, didn't remember saying it this way. You want to give concrete examples of what he can't fudge. Here's your email, here's what the memo says.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Shan. Thanks for that perspective.

Still ahead for us, President Biden's economic agenda is facing steep challenges from rising inflation, supply chain issues and, of course, the divisions in his own party. More on that, next.



BOLDUAN: Looming problems in the U.S. economy are putting more pressure on the Biden agenda right now, as well as the Democrats' chances in keeping control of the House and Senate in next year's midterm elections. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg admitted to CNN this weekend that disruptions in the supply chain will persist into next year. Rising prices and inflation are showing no signs of letting up either. On top of that, Democrats are still divided on the president's spending package still being negotiated on Capitol Hill. So what now?

Joining me for perspective is Democratic Congresswoman from Michigan Debbie Dingell. Congresswoman, thank you for being here.

So, if everyone seems to think this is a critical week again when it comes to these bills and the Biden agenda, I don't see progress, not that I'm in the room, but do you see progress?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): So, first of all, let me say something, failure is not an option, period. And it's not about next year's elections, it's not about anything but we have to deliver for the American people. This was a vision that Joe Biden laid out in advance of being president. We need to fix our roads and our bridges, we need internet in the cities, in the rural areas. We need to get lead out of water pipes across the country and there a lot of things we've got to deliver on. So, I've been talking to a lot of people these past few weeks. So I think it's good that we're going to get back. We're going to be in the same place.


Everybody needed to take a deep breath. It was pretty tense when we left. But I do believe that everybody and I don't like calling it about (INAUDIBLE). Different people represent different parts of the country that have different things that they really need. People know we have got to come together. I saw that movement over the break, and I believe we've got to get it done now that we're back for a couple of weeks.

BOLDUAN: And maybe a deep breath will make a difference. But one big part of what is part of a divide, in part, is clean energy measures now, a central part of kind of Biden's plan on climate change, pushing utilities to draw more power from clean energy sources, moving away from fossil fuels.

Our reporting, CNN's reporting is that Joe Manchin is a no on this, on this aspect of it. If that's the case and that remains, Congresswoman, how big of a problem is this?

DINGELL: Well, first of all, I don't know exactly what Joe Manchin is saying. There's entirely too much speculating and negotiating going on in the media, but we don't know what the true facts are. Everybody said, I'd support electric vehicles. I made a commitment two years ago to bring environmentalists, the UAW and the companies to the table, and we set a goal at the White House in August of (INAUDIBLE) of electric vehicles by 2030.

You have to get everybody at the table. You have got to talk about your concerns. Union workers were concerned they were going to lose their jobs. Companies wanted to make sure that they would have the kind of support that they would need so the consumers would have confidence in the battery and be able to fortify the vehicles.

So, let me hear exactly what Joe Manchin is saying, let me understand what his issues are, because nobody, including his state of West Virginia, mine of Michigan, which has had (INAUDIBLE). Global climate is real, the flooding, the hurricanes, the wildfires are destroying many of the communities we live in. We've got to do something about it. I don't believe that Joe Manchin doesn't know we have to do something.

BOLDUAN: One thing -- one area where there is no speculation though is kind of the big move, what's happening now between Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin. I mean, last week, Bernie Sanders took this -- and when it comes to politics, it's an aggressive step of writing an op-ed in one of Joe Manchin's hometown papers to make the case for the bigger plan. And Manchin was very clearly not happy about it. He put out a statement saying that he's not going to take orders from, as he put it, an out-of-stater.

As you said, not negotiating in the media, is this a smart way to negotiate this thing, the way that this is being handled between Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders?

DINGELL: So, let me say I said to a number of my colleagues a couple weeks ago, got a little trouble because some took it personality, we need to stop doing sound bites in the media and we need to be in the room talking to each other, looking at each other eye-to-eye. Because, you know what, the people -- I don't care where you come from, what state, what district, we all have people that are hurting, that are counting on us.

You know, we've been talking about fixing our broken infrastructure for decades. We are now the equivalent of any third-world country in the world. That's not something we should be proud of. We have got to get this done. And we aren't going to get it done negotiating through op-eds and negotiating through sound bites in cable, as much as I love you, Kate. We have got to do it, get in the room and get this done.

And, quite frankly, the president has got to take -- I mean, he's been meeting with us, we've got more meetings this week. We're going to talk to him. But he's got to bring us all together and say, this is what we've got to get done.

BOLDUAN: Do you think, well, this is one thing you said to me last time you were on, that you needed Biden to do more, step in, speak to House members especially. Is he doing that?

DINGELL: Yes, he is doing far more of that. I was on a call with him last week for a couple of hours. He has met with other members, I've talked to a number of members, there are more meetings this week that people will be participating in. And I think that they're going to be very important. We now know what he thinks.

Now, we all have to help land the plane. I used that phrase. We've got to help -- everybody's going to have to -- we're talking about programs not dollars. Everybody likes to get caught up in the minutia of numbers. People are talking about the programs that they need for the people back home. We're doing it. Now, we have got to bring it closer.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming on, Congresswoman.

DINGELL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, video of his death shocked the country. Now, the three men charged in Ahmaud Arbery's murder are standing trial. The latest from the courthouse when we return.


BOLDUAN: Let's go to the State Department right now. Secretary of State Tony Blinken to speak in the death of General Colin Powell.

TONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Secretary Powell was beloved here at the State Department at C Street, and at our embassies and consulates around the world. He came to the State Department after a long and extraordinary career in the U.S. Armed Forces. He was General Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs when we walked into the Oval Office to be sworn in as our nation's top diplomat. After that, he was Mr. Secretary.

He gave the State Department the very best of his leadership, his experience, his patriotism. He gave us his decency, and the State Department loved him for it. Secretary Powell trusted the career workforce here. He empowered them. He made sure that the desk officer who knew a particular country or issue most deeply was the one who got to brief him or the president.

He told his staff that they didn't need to worry about getting fancy lunches, hamburgers and hot dogs were just fine. When he hopped on to the elevator, he would pull others on with him. He didn't bother with formalities. And he wasn't overly concerned with hierarchy either. He wanted to hear from everyone. He walked around the building, dropping into offices unannounced, asking what people needed, making sure they knew he was counting on them.

Secretary Powell was simply and completely a leader and he knew how to build a strong and united team. He treated people the way he expected them to treat each other, and he made sure that they knew he would always have their back.

The result was that his people would walk through walls for him. Secretary Powell's career in the U.S. military is legendary. As a teenager at the City College of New York, not far from where we grew up in the South Bronx, he joined ROTC, and after graduation became an army officer. For 35 years, he was a professional soldier. He started in the infantry, served two tours in Vietnam, was stationed in South Korea and West Germany and oversaw operation Desert Storm in Iraq.

By the time he retired from the military, he was arguably the most respected and celebrated American in uniform. At that time, he received his second Presidential Medal of Freedom, this time from President Clinton, who said at the medal ceremony, today, a grateful nation observe the end of a distinguished career and celebrates 35 years of service and victory, a victory for the United States military that gave young Colin Powell a chance to learn and to grow and to lead, a victory for the military and political leaders who continue to elevate him based on their complete confidence and sheer respect, a victory for a nation well served, and in a larger sense, a victory for the American dream, for the principle that in our nation people can rise as far as their talent, their capacities, their dreams and their discipline will carry them.

After that career, Colin Powell could have enjoyed a quieter life, maybe dedicating himself full-time to the organization he founded, America's Promise, to help young people from underrepresented communities, like the one where he grew up. Instead, he started a new career in diplomacy. And I believe Secretary Powell's years as a soldier are what made him such an exceptional diplomat. He knew that war and military action should always be a last resort, and to make that so, we need our diplomacy to be as robust and well-resourced as possible. He called for increased funding for state which then, as now was just a fraction of the Pentagon's budget. He modernized the State Department, putting a computer on every desk. And he believed deeply that America was an exceptional nation, that we could and should lead with confidence and humility and that the world was safer when the United States was engaged and its allies and partners were united.


Future military leaders and diplomats will study Colin Powell's work, like the Powell doctrine that hammered out criteria for when and how the United States should use force, and his support for expeditionary diplomacy, diplomats and military working together to bring stability to high-threat environments. He was a man of ideas, but he wasn't ideological. He was constantly listening, learning, adapting. He could admit mistakes. It was just another example of his integrity.

As is probably evident by now, I was a huge admirer of Secretary Powell's. I always will be, and he was very generous with me. This past of 4th of July, we spent a few precious hours together talking about the State Department, discussing all the challenges we're confronting around the world. Two things were clear. Secretary Powell's depth of knowledge about world events was unmatched, and he loved the State Department and wanted it to thrive.

So, today is a sad day for us here at State, especially for all those who worked for and with Secretary Powell and will never forgot the experience. Our thoughts are with Alma Powell and the entire family today, to everyone who loved him. Colin Powell dedicated his extraordinary life to public service because he never stopped believing in America, and we believe in America in no small part because it helped produce someone like Colin Powell. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

BOLDUAN: Secretary of State Tony Blinken and his reaction to the passing of the former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Jamie Gangel is still with me. Jamie, thank you for sticking around. As we heard from the secretary right there, what did you think of his remarks? He was simply and completely a leader.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely correct. And also I thought it was very important that he talked about General Powell even though he became secretary of state, you heard Secretary Blinken say, we still called him General Powell. His lack of formality, hamburgers and hotdogs were fine. If he was getting in an elevator, he would pull other people in with him.

I remember there was a story a couple of years ago, I think it was in 2019, he was actually on his way to a doctor's appointment at Walter Reed, and he got a flat tire. And for people who have known Colin Powell over the years, I think the thing he liked the best in life was actually fixing cars. He would have friends bring cars over to fix in his driveway. But he got a flat tire on the beltway, and someone stopped to help him, and when he got to his appointment, he posted a note on Facebook or social media and said, thank the person for stopping. And he said these words, Kate. He said let's just take care of each other.

And I think that speaks -- that whole picture speaks to who Colin Powell was, and I think Secretary Blinken captured that. BOLDUAN: What a wonderful anecdote and story about -- I mean, as he said, it seemed, as you put it, despite the enormous titles and positions that he had, the enormous impact that he's had on American policy for decades now, just that he was a man who did not forgot himself or it seems didn't take himself too seriously.

GANGEL: I think the word self-deprecating comes to mind. I remember the very first time I met him. He never said he was from New York City. He said he was from the Bronx. And he was the first to say he went to -- he didn't go to West Point. His grades weren't great. He went to City University of New York. And the fact that he could make it, rise to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs, become secretary of state, I think he took great pleasure in making sure that everybody knew that from his upbringing on the stoops of the Bronx to a city school that you could make it.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Jamie, thank you, as always, for being here.

We are waiting to hear also from President Biden himself. We have seen many statements coming in from former secretaries of state as well, former President George W. Bush.

After hearing that, let me hand it off to my colleague, John King. Inside Politics begins right now.