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At This Hour

Trump In New York Civil Court On Family Finances; Raid On Trump's Mar-A-Lago Home Still Looking For WH National Security Papers; GOP Demanding AG Merrick Garland Release Raid Details; Iranian Arrested For Attempted Murder Of John Bolton; Inflation Easing July, How Will It Affect Consumers. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 10, 2022 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, ANCHOR OF AT THIS HOUR: Hello, everyone. At this hour, Donald Trump is being questioned under oath in New York civil probe of his family business and there's also this. A new report shows inflation is cooling off. Is it a one-off or is it a trend? And an arrest has been made in the killings of Muslim men in New Mexico that had paralyzed that community. This is what we're watching at this hour. Thank you so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan. There are a lot of moving parts and multiple investigations right now into Donald Trump. The former president is being questioned under oath this morning in New York's long running civil investigation of his family's business finances.

The state attorney's -- attorney general's office is trying to determine whether the Trump Organization improperly inflated the value of its assets in order to obtain loans, insurance and tax benefits, but also there are new details about why FBI agents searched Trump's Florida home. CNN has learned that the search happened because authorities believe the former president or his team didn't return all of the government records that were taken when they left the White House. Documents with National Security implications. Let's begin now with Trump under oath today. CNN's Kara Scannell is live outside the AG's office for us at this hour. Kara, Donald Trump put -- put out a statement saying he's not actually answering questions. What is this all about?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes Kate. This deposition began about an hour and a half ago. Trump arrived at that office building just behind me around 9 o'clock and he just issued a statement saying that because the investigation's being led by the New York Attorney General Letitia James. Someone who has campaigned about her efforts to investigate the former president that he said he is not going to answer questions. He also cited the raid Monday by the FBI on his home at Mar-A-Lago where they were investigating his handling of classified materials.

Now Trump issuing a statement, it's very lengthy but to get to the nuts of it he says, accordingly under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons. I decline to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded every citizen under the United States Constitution. So he's asserting his 5th Amendment right against self- incrimination and that was the big question today. Would he answer questions or would he assert the 5th Amendment? He received advice (inaudible) in both directions. Some people saying he had already answered questions about the veracity of his financial statements, so he could do it again. But other lawyers saying, it's far too risky, he's also facing a criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's office. They are investigating the very same conduct.

That investigation has slowed down but it's still open and the District Attorney Alvin Bragg told me in April that if anyone testifies in their investigation. They would take a look at those transcripts and see what that person said. So certainly a very big risk for Trump today if he were to answer questions under oath. The one thing we don't know is how long this will go on, because his -- one of his son's Eric Trump was -- was deposed last -- in 2020. He declined to answer 500 questions, citing his 5th Amendment rights. So if we -- remains to be seen how long they will go on asking these questions Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's very interesting. All right, standing by to stand by on that one. Kara, thank you so much for your reporting. So and then there are the new details as we were mentioning this morning about the FBI search of Trump's Florida home. CNN has learned that investigators were concerned that the former president or his team did not return all the government documents that were taken when they left the White House. CNN's Katelyn Polantz is live in Washington with this side of it. So Katelyn, what now?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Kate it's been two days since the search and we are learning more about what prompted it at Mar-A-Lago on Monday. So law enforcement had serious concerns about what was happening there on the Trump side. Back in January the National Archives went to Florida to reclaim 15 boxes of records from the Trump presidency that were not Trumps to keep, so we knew that and that incident lodged this criminal investigation into the handling of classified records. Than this week, of course, the DOJ goes back in with a search warrant for more boxes and documents and those records, if they had gotten out could have National Security implications. That's according to our sources now.

So we also know in this investigation that Federal authorities subpoenaed and received access to Mar-A-Lago's surveillance videos so that they were able to understand the security around these documents in recent weeks. On top of that, sources tell Pamela Brown, Katlan Collins and I that investigators were thinking Trump's team wasn't being entirely truthful with them in recent months as law enforcement was working on this problem where Trump still had these presidential records in his possession.


So on the Trump side of things though, we now understand that advisors around him thought that this investigation until essentially Monday was stalled out. That it was gone silent, but now their argument we believe that Trump didn't keep documents with National Security secrets at Mar-A-Lago because when he was president, they're saying that he declassified them. But just a reminder here, we still don't fully know what the Justice Department is investigating. That's just how these sort of things work, investigations take time. They happen in secret and so we are looking for more but right now, most of those details are under seal. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It's good to see you Katelyn and thank you for that perspective. There's so much that is not known of what is actually going on here. In response though to all of this, Republicans are growing louder and louder in their calls for the Attorney General Merrick Garland to speak publicly and release details about why the FBI searched the former president's home. CNN's Evan Perez is live in Washington as well with this side of this. Evan, the Justice Department hasn't said anything at all so far which is not surprising. So what are you hearing?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, that's a great thing to remind the -- the public right. That the Justice Department and the FBI haven't actually acknowledged this -- this search occurred. The only way we know about it is the former president went out with his -- on Twitter, I'm sorry, with a public statement right around the time the agents were wrapping up the search at Mar-A-Lago. They -- Kate, they went in there without their signature FBI jackets. They went there very quietly. They did not make a lot -- a lot of noise. So that's one of the things that we know that the Justice Department was intending to do was to make as little fuss as possible.

Offer the former president a lot of courtesy in handling this -- the -- what -- what really was the most polite way for the FBI to do a search. Here's what we know though. We know that behind the scenes there is a lot of friction among some officials who believe that the Justice Department should say something. That the -- the attorney general should come out and at least explain some of these actions. Look, you know, the -- the -- the Justice Department manuals, the rules, do allow for public statements to be made when there is a public interest and in this case, you know, obviously Donald Trump has also -- has already gone out there and set the narrative about what's happening.

So what we now have, the only -- the only information we have, you know, from the side of the FBI agents is one from the FBI Agents Association which was put out by-- by the association yesterday. In which they say that, you know, all of these types of -- of searches are handled in a particular way. They're authorized by a -- a-- a Federal judge and they're -- they're handled in a specific way for a reason, to protect the innocent. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Absolutely. It's good to see you Evan. Thank you so much.

PEREZ: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Turning now for more on all of this is Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston who's covered Donald Trump for more than 30 years. CNN Counterterrorism Analyst Phil Mudd, he's a former FBI Senior Intelligence officer and CNN Legal Analyst Jennifer Rogers. She's a former Federal prosecutor. So Jennifer, let's start with the deposition today. What do you think of the statement put out by the president saying under the advice of my counsel and for all of the -- all of the above reasons, I've declined to answer the questions presented to him today. What do you make of it?

JENNIFER ROGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well this was the million dollar question Kate whether he was going to testify or not. His son Eric did take the 5th over 500 times. Don Jr. though did testify and Ivanka did testify so what Don Sr. was going to do was, kind of, on all of our minds and he decided to take the risk of pleading the 5th. Now that is helpful to him as far as his statements now won't be in the record. They can't be used in a criminal case or the civil case, but it also comes with consequences. Because Tish James and her civil case if she files one now can use the fact that he pleaded the 5th against him, and ask the jury to make an inference that his answers would have been harmful to him.

So, you know, this is -- this is what he's done. It's probably the safer course given all the criminal investigations into him, but, you know, you have to just go back to the basics and say, if you don't have anything to hide. If you're testimony would have been truthful and would not have hurt you, then there's no reason to take the 5th. So it suggests that in fact with respect to his business practices, that there are reasons that he did not want to testify truthfully about them.

BOLDUAN: And Jennifer, you mentioning the -- the criminal case and I'm wondering what this deposition, just in general, could potentially mean for the criminal investigation by the New York City district attorney?

ROGERS: Well it doesn't mean much now because he hasn't actually testified. I mean, I know that the D.A. Alvin Bragg has been watching Tish James' investigation. They've been coordinating on their investigations. If he had testified, I believe that the prosecutors in Bragg's office would have carefully combed over that testimony to see whether any of it demonstrated evidence of criminal activity that they could charge. But now that he has refused to testify, it doesn't really give them anything additional to work with.

BOLDUAN: David, how much is at stake for Donald Trump -- Donald Trump's business with all of this?


DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST: Well, under New York State law, Latitia James could have the Trump Organization put out of business. You have a right to your life but a corporation does not have a right to its life. That's the worst scenario probably for Donald Trump beyond whether testimony he might have given could have been used against him by Federal or other prosecutors.

BOLDUAN: Does it surprise you at all that he is not answering questions David?

JOHNSTON: No. I mean, Donald has an utter contempt for the law. He believes he's special. He has used delay and avoidance tactics his entire career. He could have said a long time ago, I'm going to take the 5th Amendment if questioned about anything. But he's tried to drag these things out hoping to benefit from things like statutes of limitations.

BOLDUAN: Phil, to the other investigation, the FBI search of Trump's residence. The FBI saying, CNN's reporting that the reason they went in was that they thought that they were -- was -- that they -- was a concern that from Donald Trump or his team that they did not return all the documents that had been taken from the White House. You think there must be more here than a misplaced classified document for the FBI to go in though. Tell me why.


BOLDUAN: Hold on David. Go ahead Phil.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm sorry. I spent 25 years looking at top secret stuff from 7am to 7pm. Top secret stuff sounds sexy outside Washington. Those documents are a dime a dozen inside this city. I guarantee you there's 500 people today who will take home a -- a classified document to read because they don't get time to read it in the office. I'm not saying that's appropriate. I'm not saying that's legal. I'm saying it would be relatively common. So the documents are common, occasional abuse of those documents, I would say like it or not is probably relatively common. You've got to match that up with another piece Kate and that is two very quiet bureaucrats.

That is the FBI director and -- and attorney general who are trying to keep their agencies out of the limelight by not speaking. All of a sudden decide to authorize with a Federal judge the most significant, one of the most significant searches the FBI has ever done, to find some classified documents. Those two pieces, the fact that these documents would be common and the fact that -- that the attorney general and the FBI director came out of the -- of the, sort of shadows, tell me something else is afoot here. And if it's just that these are really super secret, I got to know what those super secrets are because I saw some of the highest level secrets in government. I'm not sure they'd chase down Mar-A-Lago to find that stuff.

BOLDUAN: So then Phil, what do you make of the pressure on Merrick Garland to come out and speak publicly about what this is all about? Like I was talking about with Evan Perez?

MUDD: I -- I would be super cautious if I were him. Remember the James Comey example. There's a couple problems with coming out to speak with one big asterisk. That is the subject or the target that is Donald Trump, a private citizen, already spoke. So he, sort of, let the cat out of the bag. What do you say now? I would be still cautious if I were the Department of Justice. First, he's a private citizen. Kate, let's make you the subject of an investigation, when the Department of Justice if that were ever to happen. Let's hope not, says hey Kate's under investigation would you feel comfortable with that? Even without them saying why you're under investigation or why your house was searched, already people are going to assume you did something wrong. You put that private citizen under a limelight. The Department of

Justice has to be cautious about doing that. But let's close with the James Comey example. As soon as the Department of Justice speaks, the questions are going to be did you close the investigation? Why did you close the investigation? When are you going to close it? As soon as you open that door, you've got to keep speaking because you've told people, we'll update you on an investigation.

BOLDUAN: There's much more to come with this and many more questions. We do need to go because we have some breaking news coming in. Thank you all very, very much. The breaking news just in is the Justice Department has just charged a member of Iran's elite revolutionary guard force in an attempted plot to murder former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton. Apparently in retaliation for the U.S. killing Iran's top general in the final days of the Trump Administration. Let's over to CNN's Kylie Atwood, Evan Perez back with us actually from Washington with breaking details on this. Kylie, tell us more what are you learning?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kate, these are pretty remarkable details coming out from the Department of Justice announcing these criminal charges against this person who is an Iranian. He's a member of the IRGC for allegedly trying to orchestrate a plot to kill John Bolton. Now to remind folks, he was the former National Security advisor for a period of time during the Trump Administration. He's also served as an ambassador, and what the Department of Justice is coming out and saying in this is -- is quite remarkable because of the detail that it gets into.

And I just want to, Kate, we're still going through this right now.


But one thing that they say is this Iranian official attempted to pay individuals in the United States $300,000 to carry out this plot, did things like taking screenshots and the like. There's a lot of information in here. Now John Bolton is responding to this, this morning. I just want to read to you what he said in part, saying I wish to thank the Justice Department for initiating the criminal proceeding unsealed today. The FBI for its diligence in discovering and tracking the Iranian regime's criminal threat to American citizens, and the Secret Service for once again providing protection against Tehran's efforts.

Now I am told that these threats to Bolton were expressed to him by the U.S. government in 2020. It wasn't until December of 2021 that he actually got Secret Service protection because of those threats. He asked for it. The Biden Administration granted him that Secret Service protection and I will say folks here in Washington have been watching that Secret Service protection and wondering what it was related to and now, of course we're getting some of those answers.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, Evan, what does this plot tell you about Iran's capabilities to strike back?

PEREZ: Well Kate, we know from the -- from taking to sources that the, you know, this has been a huge concern for the FBI and as Kylie pointed out. I mean, some of us have noticed a -- a -- an extremely, much more muscular security detail around the former ambassador. Every time he was out in public, there was a lot more security around him, more than frankly even some government officials you would see. So we knew that there was something coming up and one of the things that we know from -- from talking to officials is that they were very much concerned that after the -- the 2020 strike that killed Solemani. That the Iranians were going to respond and they just didn't know where.

And according to these court documents, in -- in this criminal complaint that was filed, by the way the individual who -- who is charged is believed to be still in Iran. He's at large. He's a former -- a current IRGC member, what we learned from this that -- in -- in these encrypted -- encrypted communications that he was talking to people here in the United States trying to hire them. They also said -- he also said that there was a second job that he had in mind which was to pay up to $1 million to carry out perhaps another assassination. So that's what the concern for the FBI, we've heard it that it was not just the Chinese and the Russians that they were looking at. The Iranians have a lot or capability that they were concerned about.

BOLDUAN: I mean, there are a lot of details in this. You're right you guys. I'm just looking through it. Photographs of two plastic bags, each appearing to contain bound stacks of U.S. currency and hand written notes underneath. I mean, it's really remarkable this detail coming out. Much more to come. Guys, really appreciate it. We're going to continue falling this breaking news for sure. Still ahead for us at this hour, inflation slowing in July. Reprieve for American consumers, how long? What does it mean? What does it mean for all -- all the prices that you face from rent, from food, from gas? We're going to get to it in a live report.



BOLDUAN: Promising news on the U.S. economy. Inflation easing in July from it's mark a year ago, at 8.5 percent over the last year. This is down from the four decade high reached in June which is the key part to all of this in this moment. CNN's Rahel Solomon here with me now with more on this. Tell us more.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So inflation actually easing, right? I mean, this was a better than expected report pretty much broadly, which we don't get to say much these days when talking about inflation. So 8.5 percent compared to a year ago over the last year. That is down from that 9.1 percent annualized figure we saw last month and core inflation, which strips away more volatile categories like energy and food, that remains steady at 5.9. But even when you look at the month to month inflation, core inflation, that showed signs of easing, so that is positive news as well. Kate when you look at, sort of, where we have been and put this in perspective.

You can see if you compare it to about January 2020. It looks like we may be easing, 8.5 percent again coming down from that 9.1, still historically high, want to be clear about that. But short of coming down there, which you can see looking at sort of over the last month where we saw some of the biggest increases and some of the biggest declines. Declines we saw energy, of course, airline fares, hotels. Some of the biggest increases however food and shelter and when you look at over the last year you can see gasoline, food, shelter still historically high and so painfully high for some.

So what does all of this mean for the Fed, of course, as it raises rates to try to cool inflation. Well we know the Fed is looking for a pattern, reports showing easing. So we're not there yet. However, if we keep seeing reports like this, numbers like this, it could mean that the Fed could be a bit less aggressive and that spells some optimism in terms of whether we avoid a recession. So it's feeling like maybe the worst is behind us, maybe we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Too soon to know.

BOLDUAN: It's literally like stand by to stand by fully on this one. It's good to see you, and thank you so much really love the detail. Thank you. Joining me now for more on this, CNN White House Correspondent John Hardwood and CNN Global Economic Analyst Ronna Foroohar, she's a columnist and editor for the Financial Times. So John, today, I noticed that President Biden was very quick and happy to make the point to talk about this report at the top of his remarks on a -- on another -- on another issue. What do you see here?

JOHN HARDWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well look, there's something memorable Kate about a zero number in a government economic report. I remember in 2011, President Obama had a jobs report came out showed zero jobs gained in that month and he was, all of a sudden, called "president zero". This is the opposite of that.


This is Joe Biden being able to say zero inflation at the headline level, in the last month. Now that's good news, obviously it's driven by declines in gas prices which could be reversed later. We need as Rahel said more reports to show that the peak has been passed on inflation. The Fed has more work to do, but this is the moment after a string of positive developments, legislatively in terms of the passage of a -- a number of bills. The jobs report last week, these are -- are a series of very welcome, positive developments for the Biden White House and the president was celebrating that today.

BOLDUAN: He was. Ronna, one thing I know you're watching is, in this, is that fuel prices, airfares, used cars, they declined in price. That offset increases in rent and food costs. What's going on here?

RONNA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, you know, you've got to look at food and rent very carefully because these are things that you can't cut back on. Right? So a lot of things that people can cut back on, taking a vacation, buying a new car, buying certain products for the home. They are cutting back on those things and I -- I think that's one of the reasons you're seeing demand fall and inflation fall, but in the things that you can't cut back on, where you live, what you eat. I think to an extent gas prices, they've come down but they're still historically high and as -- as John said, they could go back up particularly as we go into winter where you're probably going to see more Russian petrol politics.

Particularly in Europe, that those are things that I'm concerned about, you know, we've talked about this before but how you feel about the economy as an individual is sometimes just as important as all the stats in the world. And, you know, whether we're in a technical recession or not or what the CPI number is, how are you feeling? And I know a lot of people are saying, we still feel like prices are pretty high in grocery stores and at the pump.

BOLDUAN: And that gets -- directly to -- to John, the question again before the administration and the president is that people don't need reminding, but the poll -- the poll numbers do show that nothing is more important to Americans than the economy and inflation right now. And the read that from voters is that they are not happy with how -- how the president is handling it, I mean how many more reports like this are needed, do you think, to start -- for the president to start seeing this turn around?

HARDWOOD: Multiple reports. Look, people have been getting pounded by inflation on a number of fronts for the last year. And so there is a high degree of angst and unhappiness as Ronna just indicated, that the way people feel is probably fixed right now. Let's say for the mid-term elections which are coming up in November. Maybe it could ease slightly if you see a continued decline in gas prices. That's the thing that drives consumer sentiment on inflation more than any other single factor. But they need this to be sustained for a long time, obviously the Fed is going to continue raising interest rates. That is going to have an effect on the economy. Slow down the economy, the unemployment rate may go up. So there's -- there's certainly difficult days ahead but at this moment in the summertime, you can see the markets are loving it just as the White House is loving it.

BOLDUAN: Yes. John, Ronna, great to see you guys. Thank you. Coming up for us, the Justice Department announcing that they have charged an Iranian operative with trying to assassinate a former top U.S. official. We're going to return to this breaking news while coming in. Next.