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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Judge Orders Trump To Pay Nearly $355M In Civil Fraud Case; Russian Prison Service: Alexey Navalny Dead At 47; "United States Of Scandal" Premieres Sunday At 9PM ET/PT; Jared Kushner Defends $2 Billion Investment From Saudis. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 16, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Vladimir Putin is shutting down potential protests. He's issuing threats to those who dare to demonstrate what could have been an assassination. Coming up, reaction to it all from Trevor Reed, the U.S. Marine who also spent some time in a Russian prison.

Plus, comments you may have missed this week from Donald Trump's son- in-law, Jared Kushner. The cozy relationship he wants to keep up with a world leader who also is responsible for brutal human rights violations.

And leading this hour, a major court ruling against Donald Trump. He's been ordered to pay nearly $355 million in a civil fraud case. He's been banned from doing business in the state of New York for three years. And the codefendants in this case include his adult sons, Donnie and Eric. Let's go straight to CNN's Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid.

Paula, what did the judge say in his ruling about Trump and his businesses?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, here, Jake, Trump's combative and defiant legal strategy has yielded yet another massive loss in New York state court. Now, in addition to those hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties, the judge has also barred Trump from serving as an officer or director of a New York corporation for three years. He also cannot apply for loans from banks registered in New York for three years. Now, the only good news, and it's a small g, is that he was not issued the corporate death penalty.

Here, the judge backtracked and is not going to dissolve Trump's business certificates for the Trump Organization. Some people might wonder, well, why not? This is a very rare penalty in the state of New York. And in the few instances where it has been implemented, there has been a clear victim. And one of the key lines of the Trump defense here is that there was no victim, no one was harmed.

Everyone made money, everyone went home happy. So that is likely part of why he did not issue the corporate death penalty. But instead, the judge is installing some serious monitoring inside the Trump Organization. He installed a monitor back in 2022. This is an independent monitor who just monitors the organization to make sure that they're complying with laws and regulations. That monitor, according to today's opinion, will continue for another three years. And then the Trump Organization has to pay for what is described as a new compliance officer.

And, of course, Jake, one of the things that makes this case so personal for the former president is not only that it strikes the heart of his identity as a businessman, but it's also about his family. And when it comes to his two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. And Eric, the judge found them both liable for fraud, ordered them each to pay $4 million, and has barred them from serving as an officer or director of a New York corporation for two years.

Now, it's also interesting, the judge also talked about Ivanka Trump, who testified in this case. He described her testimony as thoughtful and articulate, but said that her repeated memory lapses about details of deals that she worked on were, quote, "suspect." Now, throughout this case, Trump and his lawyers and some of his children, at least two of his children, took a very combative, defiant, remorseless approach to this case. And we can see now this -- the result, it has yielded a verdict that will likely drain his coffers. It's not even clear that he can actually pay these penalties, even if his business technically survives.

TAPPER: And, Paula, last hour you brought us the statement from Trump attorney Alina Habba. Now we're hearing from Trump's main lawyer on the case. What is he saying?

REID: So here, Chris Kise has issued a statement saying, quote, "The court today ignored the law, ignored the facts, and simply signed off on the attorney general's manifestly unjust political crusade against the front running candidate for the president of the United States. President Trump will, of course, appeal and remains confident the Appellate Division will ultimately correct the innumerable and catastrophic errors made by a trial court untethered to the law or to reality."

Now, if you notice, in this opinion, it's over 90 pages. It's incredibly detailed. Clearly, the judge is anticipating this appeal, preserving the record for those appeals. And just a moment ago, we got another statement from the New York attorney general, Letitia James, laying out sort of a contrast to the Trump statement and explaining why, you know, most ordinary people understand why you can't lie to insurance companies or banks. She says, quote, "When powerful people cheat to get better loans, it comes at the expense of honest and hardworking people. Everyday Americans cannot lie to a bank to get a mortgage, to buy a home. And if they did, our government would throw the book at them. There simply cannot be different rules for different people."

And as the Trump family, the Trump Organization, contemplates today's verdict, they have a much more serious case coming in just a few weeks, the first criminal trial against former President Trump brought by the Manhattan district attorney. And, Jake, will be watching to see if they continue to take this more combative, aggressive approach. Certainly looked yesterday like that's what Trump is going to do, but it's coming at an enormous cost.


TAPPER: All right, Paula Reid, thanks so much.

With us now to discuss, Gene Rossi, former federal prosecutor and former assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. And Jamie Gangel is also here with us.

And Gene, New York Attorney General Letitia James was seeking $370 million.


TAPPER: She got almost all of that.


TAPPER: Are you surprised by the judge's rule?

ROSSI: No. And I'll tell you why, on page 88 of this opinion, it lists that this is not their first rodeo. So I think what drove this judge more than anything, in my humble opinion, is the list of settlements and frauds that the Trump organization, Donald Trump at all, committed since 2013. It's on page 88. And he calls it, this is not their first rodeo. So I think this other crimes evidence gave the judge consolation and buttressed his argument as to why there was such massive fraud.

TAPPER: The other -- the idea being these people have been accused of fraud before.

ROSSI: They've been slapped on the wrist.

TAPPER: Right. And we need to take actions.

ROSSI: The charity, the foundation. And I think he got to the point where enough is enough.

And I just want to say this, I did fraud cases and tax cases for Department of Justice, there were three books in this case, and it's not really described, but looking at it, there's the book they gave to -- the set of books they gave to the banks, you raise assets, lower liabilities. The second book is the one you give to tax authorities where you try to deflate your assets and increase your losses. And then there's that third beautiful book. That's the book that has the real data. And he's talking about that in all his description of the witnesses.

But that's the punchline at the end. They had three sets of books over many years, and they defrauded everything.

And I want to add one thing, he calls their defense that no one got harmed. He says they crowed that the borrowers did not hurt the bank, that they did not hurt the banks. He's rejecting that argument that there was no harm. TAPPER: Very, very interesting.

Jamie Gangel, let me turn to you. Let's start with the impact this is going to have on Donald Trump, not as a candidate or as a former president, but as a man, as a person who sees himself as this wildly successful businessman. And basically, the judge has just said to him before the entire world and his family, you're a fraud.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not going to go over well, which will not surprise anyone. This goes to the heart of how Trump has sold himself to the American people. This is his brand, whether he's a millionaire or a billionaire, we're not exactly clear about that, but this does hurt. Michael Cohen, who worked for him told me last year, of all the cases, this is the one that will upset him the most, because it goes to the brand.

TAPPER: Three hundred and fifty million dollars is a lot of money. On top of that, you have the 83 million he's been ordered to pay E. Jean Carroll for defamation. That's the woman that he sexually assaulted. Do we know if he has more than $400 million in cash that he can pay as penalties here?

GANGEL: We don't know. Let's add also New York State, I believe, has nine percent interest. So I saw a number. This could go up to 400 million. As we say, this is real money.

And my understanding is that New York state, like the federal cases, he'll have 30 days either to post a bond, give him some money or ask the court for a stay on that. I would find it hard to imagine that he has this much cash.

TAPPER: Yes. And, Gene, the lawsuit alleged that Trump and his codefendants committed fraud because, as you noted, they were inflating assets --

ROSSI: Absolutely.

TAPPER: -- on financial statements --


TAPPER: -- to get better terms on commercial real estate loans and insurance policies and downplaying any liabilities. One argument from Trump's lawyers was essentially, look, this is how real estate works. Why did the judge disagree?

ROSSI: I think the judge said that if we allow this conduct to continue, then everybody in New York City and America is going to do what they do. We have to put a stop to it. And I was a prosecutor. I didn't have defendants come in and say I shouldn't be prosecuted because everybody's doing it. You have to draw the line.

But I go back to page 88 of this opinion, the judge didn't have a hard time drawing the line because they got so many slaps on the wrist.

TAPPER: Yes. ROSSI: He said, I can't take this anymore. We have to stop them.

TAPPER: And, Jamie, we should note the judge did not impose what's called the corporate death penalty --

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: -- ordering -- taking away his business license and ordering that the Trump organizations need to be dissolved. So it does sound like the Trump family is going to have to let someone else run or monitor very closely the businesses. What's your take on that?


GANGEL: So I think heads are exploding in the Trump family because this is a family business.


GANGEL: They like control. The words independent monitor, independent director of compliance, that is not going to make anybody happy.

TAPPER: All right, Jamie Gangel, Gene Rossi, thanks to both you. Appreciate it.

ROSSI: Thank you.

TAPPER: This ruling is coming just as many the Americans are starting to think about the 2024 presidential raise, not to mention their taxes. What political impact this ruling in all of Trump's legal cases might have. We're going to talk about that next.


TAPPER: And we're back with our breaking news. Former President Trump has been ordered to pay nearly $355 million in his New York civil fraud case. Let's discuss with our panel.

Adrienne Elrod, how you think Trump is going to react to this bad news for him?

ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh, I don't think he's going to act positively at all or react positively at all, Jake. I mean, we've seen the way he's reacted in some of the other cases against him. But you know, look, I'm looking at this from the standpoint of how are the voters going to react? How is the average swing independent voter that will ultimately decide this election, how are they going to react?


And I think when you look at all of these legal cases stacked up against Trump, from E. Jean Carroll to this case to the trial in Georgia to the overall trial that's coming up in a couple months, it all stacks up. Not looking very favorably toward Trump when it comes to his reelection chances.

TAPPER: Alice, how do you think Republicans officials are going to react? Is this just going to be more of the witch hunt refrain?

ALICE STEWART, FORMER TED CRUZ COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Absolutely. And were already hearing that from Trump's attorneys that this is injustice and a witch hunt and weaponization of the legal system. And Republicans that support Donald Trump, which is most of them, will rally behind him and continue that dialogue.

And look, this is plain and simple, Donald Trump's brand as a successful businessman built him up, and his brand as hostile under fire brought him down in this case. And the judge repeatedly said that his lack of contrition and remorse is a big factor in his decision making process. But the fact that he went so high with this number is really going to frustrate Trump's face and really embolden them to buy into the baseless claims that all of these legal issues are part of this big witch hunt. They're not looking at each of these cases individually and each of the outcome individually, they are buying into Trump's lie that all of this is part of an overzealous prosecution and justice system that is clearly out to get him because he is the main challenger to Joe Biden, and this will further embolden Republicans. I'm not sure it's going to be so helpful in the general election, but it's certainly going to embolden the base right now.

TAPPER: And, Gloria, Trump claimed his Mar-a-Lago resort was worth more than a billion dollars.


TAPPER: The judge says this was fraudulent because, first, it would require him to list Mar-a-Lago as a private residence, which the deed prohibits. And second, a $1 billion valuation is 400 percent more expensive than the most expensive private residence in the United States of America. So that's a classic Trump exaggeration --

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: -- in business form. And it really speaks to who he is and why the judge said, you're not going to get away with it this time.

BORGER: Exactly. You know, this is a man who went into his father's business, which was in Queens, and made a name for himself, taking it into Manhattan, and was kind of the golden boy. And that's how he has always seen himself, as somebody who can make multimillions of dollars, and nobody can ever challenge that. And what's happened with this case is that it looks like in many ways, it was a house of cards.

And you know, he has testified publicly that he was sitting on $400 million in cash. Let's see, as you were talking to Jamie before, whether he has that money to pay what he now has to pay. And this goes to his whole persona. And his -- the way he views, not only the way he wants the public to view him, but it's the way he actually views himself. He doesn't want anyone to be his boss.

They've said that a monitor, a babysitter has to continue to babysit the business, and he doesn't want anybody to have any control, and they haven't paid attention to the one they've had there in the meantime the judge said. So, you know, this really -- this strikes at his very heart. Like, this is his business and nobody's going to tell him what to do and nobody's going to tell him he did anything wrong.

TAPPER: So, Adrienne Elrod, Trump and his associates have been saying for a long time that, you know, Joe Biden is behind this, even though there's obviously no evidence that the Biden administration had anything to do with this. This is brought by the New York attorney general. The case did not have the outcome Trump wanted. He plans to appeal.

What would you advise Democrats to do about this case? If anything, just let the story speak for itself? Or should they seize on it, talk about what a fraud he is? What are the politics of this, do you think?

ELROD: Yes, I mean, look, Jake, as you know, you were there with us covering the 2016 campaign, we had to really make the case that Donald Trump was a fraud. We had to, you know, lift up the opposition research and get it out there because not everyone realized how fraudulent he was. This is a totally different ballgame. It's baked in. People know.

I mean, Alice is right. I don't know that it's really going to impact his face, but I think it's certainly going to impact voters when it comes to the general election. If I were Democrats, and I think this is what you're seeing a lot of Democrats do, I would just sit back and not get engaged in this. I think the Biden campaign has been incredibly effective by letting the court speak for itself. They're not getting -- making this political at all.

You know, what the judges are ruling, what Tish James is doing, you know, what's happening in Georgia, that is all speaking for itself. And ultimately, voters will decide whether or not this is somebody that they want back in the White House. My guess is, again, when it comes to those narrow states that will decide this election, Jake, the answer is they don't want him back.


TAPPER: Alice, Trump could, in theory, pay this $355 million fine using funds from his leadership pack, Save America, since Save America is operated separately from authorized campaign committees. We should note that other legal troubles he has a lot have whittled that fund down from about $50 million to about $5 million, according to his latest legal filing. He will keep fundraising off of this legal loss, no doubt. But how will he balance the need to pay for his legal bills versus the need to pay for his campaign and also not be seen as somebody who uses his campaign donors to pay for these legal excesses?

STEWART: Well, Jake, first, I wouldn't classify it as much as using campaign donors. These are willing Republicans that are more than happy to donate their money for his legal fees, specifically because they do believe, as he has said, that he is being targeted by overzealous prosecutors that are doing the bidding for Joe Biden, and they are more than happy to continue to donate for those legal fees.

And look, he will continue to campaign as he has been doing. And a big part of funding that is off of these legal issues. He -- as soon as one of these rulings is handed down, he's putting out e-mail solicitations for contributions. And we all know that every time he goes in or out of a courtroom, he's making a statement based on the fact that he is the victim of a witch hunt. And he will continue to do what he's done to date. And a lot of Republicans are more than happy to donate to that.

BORGER: But, you know, I think the question is, what does this do to the big donors? What does this do to the Wall Street funders? Do they want to stay away from this because it's too hot to touch in a general election? We'll have to see, because right now they're not raising the money they want to raise. And the big donors could be a big help, but we'll have to see if that materializes.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks to our panel. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the stunning, shocking news to which we woke up this morning. Putin critic Alexey Navalny found dead at his prison. Video shows Navalny just last night, just hours before his death, there he is on screen. I'm going to talk about this case with U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was also once a Russian prisoner in a horrific prison. He'll join us here next in the studio.



TAPPER: In our world lead, Russian opposition figure and outspoken Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny has died, according to the Russian prison service. They say Navalny collapsed in prison after a walk. There is video of Navalny appearing in court and looking well. This is from just yesterday. CNN's Matthew Chance takes a look now at what we know and the reaction from around the world.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his last appearance, just a day before he died, Alexey Navalny seemed in good spirits, even teasing the judge at the court hearing where he appeared by video conference.

Your honor, I will give you my personal account number so that you can send me money from your huge salary, he said. I'm running out, thanks to your decisions, he joked. Prison authorities say he collapsed on Friday after his daily walk. State media says emergency teams called to his penal colony tried to revive him for more than half an hour. Still, Navalny's family are waiting for confirmation of his death.

YULIA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEY NAVALNY'S WIFE (through translator): If it is true, I want Putin and all his staff, everybody around him, his government, his friends, I want them to know that they will be punished for what they have done to our country, to my family, and to my husband.

CHANCE (voice-over): But Navalny's demise sends yet another chilling message to the Russian opposition. A few braving restrictions to lay flowers amid widespread shock, the country's most prominent opposition figure has been silenced. What calms me is that if he really died, his death will make his supporters a bit stronger, says this woman in St. Petersburg.

When I learned about it, I was horrified and cried, says another. Now I just want to scream, she adds.

But with Russian presidential elections just weeks away, Vladimir Putin seems unfazed by the death of another prominent critic. He's visiting an industrial facility in the city of Chelyabinsk, leaving his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, to field the awkward question. According to the rules, all necessary investigations are underway, he told reporters. Later, suggesting that much international reaction to the death is unjustified.

But for many, blame is already being laid at the Kremlin's door. Pro Navalny protests are banned in Russia, but in neighboring Georgia and elsewhere, mourners are turning out to pay their respects and to voice their anger. Putin die, they're chanting. But it is his critics, it seems, whose lives are snatched away.


CHANCE (on camera): Well, Jake, tonight the Russian authorities are actually moving to arrest lots of those people who have been laying flowers out of respect for that opposition figure, Alexey Navalny. OVN, which is a group that monitors Russian repression says at least 73 people have been arrested in cities from Moscow to St. Petersburg to Murmansk in the north and Lisjin Ovograd (ph) elsewhere, which gives you an indication of just how widespread support and sympathy is for this figure. Jake, back to you.

TAPPER: All right. Matthew Chance in London for us, thanks so much. With me now to discuss former Russian prisoner, former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, he was wrongfully detained in Russia for 985 days. Trevor, thanks for joining us. What was your first thought when you heard that Alexey Navalny had died in prison?

TREVOR REED, FORMER U.S. MARINE IMPRISONED IN RUSSIA FOR THREE YEARS: I knew immediately that the Kremlin had probably assassinated him. I'm not sure how they did that, whether that was with, you know, chemical weapons like they had attempted before, or they used some other means, but without a doubt, they've killed him.

TAPPER: You were held in a Russian prison for 985 days, much of it in a remote work camp. Do people drop dead suddenly in these prisons?

REED: You know, that's an interesting question. They do drop dead, but that's due to neglect. You know, a lot of people are starving there like, I was in solitary confinement. You're under horrible conditions. They're going to refuse you medical treatment, things like that. But as far as I saw a video with Navalny that was really recent, and he looked healthy, I don't think there's any way that he suddenly died of medical issues.

TAPPER: You know, Navalny's mom said she had visited him just this week, I think, on the 12th, and there's video of it right there. He was in good spirits, she said, good health. And -- but this video is actually from yesterday in court. Do you think it's possible for Navalny's health to change this fast, or you clearly seem to think like somebody in the Kremlin ordered this to happen?

REED: Sure. Yes. I think this didn't happen by accident. This wasn't, you know, a medical issue, something like that. This is clearly ordered by the Kremlin, high up, probably from Putin himself. And one of the indicators of that is the fact that they had moved Navalny to a different prison camp about two months ago.

So one part of that is they may have moved him over there because of the upcoming election. They wanted him out of sight, out of mind. But, you know, I think it's a lot more clear now after his death that the reason that they moved him there was so that they could, you know, assassinate him.

TAPPER: Yes, they moved him to Siberia, north of the Arctic, I think. You were a wrongfully detained American prisoner in Russia. Navalny was a wrongfully detained Russian prisoner in Russia. Do you think that you two were treated differently?

REED: I think in Navalny's case, you know, he was a person of some importance there. And at that time, the Kremlin was taking care to try to make it look like they weren't, you know, this monster that we've clearly seen that they are now. I think now, you know, all bets are off and the Kremlin is going to eliminate any type of opposition that they have with, you know, with no hesitation. I think the days of them pretending to be a good guy are gone.

TAPPER: What do you make of the fact that there is the left and its flirtation with communism and Russia that's been going on since the beginning of the Soviet Union? But what do you make of the right in this country doing all this biding for Putin, whether requested or not, painting over how repressive it is, comparing what happens to Navalny to the trials that Donald Trump is going through when obviously they couldn't be more different and Donald Trump has due process, is living in a mansion, flies his private jets, et cetera, et cetera. What do you make of that when you hear that kind of rhetoric from the right?

REED: Frankly, that's pretty shocking to me. It's not anymore because that's become commonplace, but from a party of hardliners like Ronald Reagan, you know, one of the hardest presidents on the Soviet Union ever to have that party degrade to the level where it's just pushing Kremlin talking points. Kremlin propaganda was, you know, surprising to me, but also upsetting because it kind of dishonors all of the Republican presidents that we had in the know, true conservatives who cared about the national security of the United States more than anything. And I think that's rapidly disappearing from the right in politics today, and I think that needs to be fixed immediately.

TAPPER: Trevor Reed, always good to see you, my friend. Thanks so much for dropping by. Appreciate it.

REED: Thanks for having me. TAPPER: And CNN is going to run a special encore presentation of the documentary film Navalny, it's a powerful, important film. It won an Academy Award for best documentary feature. We're going to air it tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.


Coming up next on THE LEAD, inside some of the biggest scandals of our time and one man often called in as a crisis manager. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our Politics Lead, covering national politics and politicians for nearly 30 years I've seen all kinds of political scandals ranging from the silly to the consequential. I don't think you have ever seen them covered quite like this though. Join me Sunday night for the premiere of two back to back episodes from my brand new of CNN original series. It's called the United States of Scandal. Here's a preview of what you'll see Sunday night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did the same as them and nothing worse.

TAPPER (voice-over): What drives powerful people to break the rules?

SCOTT ENGLISH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR SC GOV. MARK SANFORD: I've never done an interview about this ever in my life and until today.

TAPPER (voice-over): And what happens when they get caught?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I didn't feel like it was sexual either.

TAPPER: You didn't?


TAPPER: Because it sounds like there was an attraction. You said you're so hot --



TAPPER (voice-over): And most importantly, why do they risk everything to do it? Over six episodes CNN new original series United States of Scandal, we'll try to peel back the headlines of some of the country's most sensational political scandals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The governor disappeared and didn't leave anybody else in charge.

TAPPER: Full disclosure, I was friendly with Mark and Jenny Sanford.

TAPPER (voice-over): There are some scandals we never saw coming such as when the governor of South Carolina dropped off the face of the earth so he could fly to Argentina to have an affair.

TAPPER: When it was proven true, I felt dumb. I felt duped for naively believing that I ever knew Mark Sanford, the person.

TAPPER (voice-over): And we will revisit scandals that you think you know.

JIM MCGREEVEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: I engage in an adult consensual affair with another man.

TAPPER (voice-over): Giving you an up close perspective.

TAPPER: In 2004, the Democratic governor of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey, stepped into a press room just like this and became an overnight sensation.

MCGREEVEY: I have decided the right course of action is to resign.

TAPPER: We were also quick to embrace the headline that we may have forgotten to dig a little deeper because the reason why Jim McGreevey resigned is a lot more complicated than we remember.

MCGREEVEY: They didn't wake up and say, you know, I'm going to be deceptive for the sake of deceiving.

TAPPER (voice-over): And we'll speak to some of the key players and scandals that were so explosive, the fallout did not just topple careers.

ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS: I'm here to tell you right off the bat, that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing.

TAPPER (voice-over): People were sent to prison.

TAPPER: So, Governor, thanks for joining us.


TAPPER: So you've been out of prison now for almost two years.

BLAGOJEVICH: A little over two years.

TAPPER (voice-over): Such as former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges, including trying to sell Obama's open Senate seat.

TAPPER: I guess one question I have is --

TAPPER (voice-over): Why? Why did he do it?

BLAGOJEVICH: Look, I had 2,896 days in prison to ask myself 1,000 questions, including that. But you know what, what was the alternative? I have all my staff and lawyers. We all go to saunas and get naked and talk to each other so nobody's got wires on him?

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Joining us now someone who knows his way around a political scandal, he worked as special counsel to President Bill Clinton, Lanny Davis. Lanny, I can't wait to talk to you about how these scandals work. But first I have good reaction today's ruling, Donald Trump ordered to pay $355 million in the civil fraud trial. This is on top of the $83 million, he's been ordered to pay to E. Jean Carroll. Will this have any impact on him politically do you think?

LANNY DAVIS, CRISIS MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST: Probably not in his base, but this country's presidential elections are decided between the 40 yard line. So about 20 percent of the electorate are swing voters, and it could will have an effect.

TAPPER: Do you think Donald Trump has changed anything about scandals and how people respond to them? The scandals I cover in this series took place between 2000 and 2015 before Trump. Has he rewritten the rules?

DAVIS: As a political candidate he has because he doesn't listen to the advice of a crisis manager like myself, which is to tell the truth. That advice wouldn't sit well with him since in my opinion. He doesn't really care about truth versus the opposite. So I don't think so.

TAPPER: Your advice, I quoted all the time, which is it's three prongs, and you actually wrote a book, I think with this title, but correct me if I'm wrong, it's get it all out. Get it all out on your own terms. Get it all out early, is that right?


TAPPER: What's the name of the book?

DAVIS: The name is Truth to Tell. And it's that mantra is the crisis management, counterintuitive advice to somebody who's made mistakes. And that is, if you've made the mistakes, the longer you wait to get it all out yourself, the more damage you do to yourself. The one exception is if you've committed a crime --

TAPPER: Right.

DAVIS: -- and it's up to your criminal defense lawyer to say don't speak, because you may go to jail.

TAPPER: If you could go back, you're most famous for helping Bill Clinton handle the Lewinsky affair. And he survived. And he stayed as president and you know, he's a successful post president, et cetera. If you could go back and give him any advice would it be to have done what you just said, which is admitted all early and just own up to it? And do you think that would have prevented any of the problems he had later on?

DAVIS: Well, it might have been wisdom is hindsight. In the case of Bill Clinton, he left office on his last day, despite all of the pain that he went through and personal apologies that he made publicly after the event. He ended up with a popularity job approval rating of 65 percent. So he'd probably say that he inflicted pain on himself and his relationship with his family. And then he ultimately apologized to the American people. So it's hard to second guess when it involves a personal indiscretion or weakness, more in the political arena. And in the legal arena, if you can admit it all in the media so that it doesn't dribble out drip by drip. That's the best strategy.

TAPPER: Right. But he was impeached for -- and he did lose his law license right for some for committing perjury and suborning perjury. And I know he disagrees with the accusations but I mean.


DAVIS: Well he paid a big penalty personally and politically, five, 10 Republicans in the United States Senate voted to acquit him. That was a pretty big number to oppose impeachment. But he's still paid a personal price yet. His last day in office 65 percent approval rating, the American people were able to differentiate a personal weakness from a high crime and misdemeanor.

TAPPER: How do you think scandals have changed in the era of social media?

DAVIS: Big time. My clients still are facing crisis management advice. And social media has made the fraction of a sentence that a bad fact can circle the world, much more malignant, and therefore you have to be much more out in front than my usual advice. We used to have a news cycle when I was at the White House.

TAPPER: Right.

DAVIS: And it's just been in recent years because of social media. There's no news cycle, there's a fraction of a second cycle. So you have to do your best both as a lawyer which I am and as a crisis manager to try to get all the facts quickly, and try to get in front of the story before it dribbles out a little bit at a time.

TAPPER: Do you think that social media and the more partisan cable news organizations have made it easier to rally defense though on the other hand?

DAVIS: Yes. There's an echo chamber that didn't exist when I was at the White House 25 years ago, or even in recent years. And certain cable in certain news sites echo misinformation between themselves and you can't break into that echo chamber. So it is a much different world and even cable and television crisis management. You have to try to get into those echo chambers with other people who are within those echo chambers.

TAPPER: Lanny Davis, I hope I never have to hire you. But if any of you out there ever get in trouble, Lanny Davis is the man. Thank you so much for being here.

DAVIS: Thank you Jake.

TAPPER: The CNN original series United States of Scandal premieres Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern only here on CNN. Coming up next, the comments from Jared Kushner this week that may give us a glimpse of how Donald Trump, his father-in-law, could treat his relationship with a controversial world leader. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In our World Lead, while House Republicans are focused on whatever money Hunter Biden and the President's brothers may have garnered from connections to the then Vice President Joe Biden, an FBI informant has now been charged with lying about the Biden's ties to the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, charge that undercuts the whole Republican effort.

Meanwhile, there is also some next level sleaze and grift going on right in front of our eyes. Jared Kushner who ran Middle East policy as a sort of shadow secretary of state during the Trump years and the son in law of Donald Trump had advised the president at the time Donald Trump to cozy up to Saudi leaders including by not protesting Saudi brutal human rights violations. He often defended Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or MBS, whom the U.S. says ordered the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi's body was cut into pieces after he was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Now shortly after leaving the White House, Kushner's equity firm was reportedly given $2 billion by the Saudis Royal Fund, which is controlled by MBS, earlier this week, Kushner was asked by Axios about the U.S. Intelligence Report, which holds MBS responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's murder.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree with the DNI or do you believe that report?

JARED KUSHNER, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Are we really still doing this, Dan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely.

KUSHNER: So I have not seen the DNI report that the Biden administration put out there, right. And number two is, look, I know the person who I dealt with, I think he's a visionary leader. I think what he's done in that region is transformational. I think he's done a lot of things that are in America's interest. And I think he's done a lot of things that have made the world a better place. And I understand why people, you know, are upset about that. I think what happened there was absolutely horrific. But again, our job was to represent America to try to push forward things in America.


TAPPER: Are we still doing this? Yes, Jared, we're still doing this. The DNI report is public. It has been public for three years. I'll post it on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, so you can read it for yourself. But just in case you're watching the report from the director of National Intelligence says, quote, we assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and that's the man you called a visionary. That's the man who gave you $2 billion to invest. He quote, approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for "The Washington Post."

Now, the kill team included thugs who worked for a group led by a close advisor to MBS, who says he makes no decisions without MBS's approval, as well as seven members of MBS's elite, personal protective detail, that was the kill team. And remember, Jared, this happened in 2018 when Trump was in power, while you were still in power, power to which you were not elected.

Kushner also said that he followed all the ethics rules and there were not any conflicts of interest in the deal with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, or PIF.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you at the time concerned about taking money from PIF? And if you could do it again, would you have done it at all differently?

KUSHNER: Yes, so PIF is one of the most prestigious investors in the world, every fund manager is trying to work with them. I think what's happening in Saudi Arabia is one of the most exciting transformations that we're seeing now in the world of a country. And if you ask me about the work that we did in the White House, for my critics, what I say is point to a single decision we made that wasn't in the interest of America.


TAPPER: OK. I'll point to one. How about letting an ally kill a "Washington Post" columnist, Jared? That seems like an obvious answer for anyone hasn't been you given 2 billion reasons to ignore it. And we are still going to talk about this especially on the day when we're talking about other world leaders taking out other dissidents. We should note MBS was asked recently, if he would keep his $2 billion with Jared's fund, even if Jared's father-in-law is elected president in November. The answer, of course, was yes. All of it happening right in front of our eyes.


We are standing by for Donald Trump to speak after the ruling today in the civil fraud case against him. We're going to be right back after this.


LETITIA JAMES, NY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Powerful or politically connected you are, everyone must play by the same rules.

TAPPER: New York Attorney General Letitia James is speaking now about the ruling in the Trump civil fraud case. Take a listen.

JAMES: Donald Trump engaged in deceptive business practices and tremendous fraud. Donald Trump falsely knowingly inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, his family and to cheat the system. Donald Trump may have authored the art of the deal. But he perfected the art of the steal.

This long running fraud was intentional, egregious, illegal, and he did it all of this -- he did all of this with the help of the other defendants, his two adult sons and senior executives at the Trump Organization. And so, after 11 weeks of trial, we showed the staggering extent of his fraud, and exactly how Donald Trump and the other defendants deceived banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions for their own personal gain.

We prove just how much Donald Trump, his family and his company unjustly benefited from his fraud. Today, the court once again ruled in our favor, and in favor of every hard working American who plays by the rules. Donald Trump and the other defendants were ordered to pay $463.9 million. That represents $363.9 million in disgorgement plus $100 million in interest, which will continue to increase every single day until it is paid.

Donald Trump, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, and the former comptroller of the Trump Organization, Jeffrey McConney, are each banned from serving as officer or director of any New York company for three years. Mr. Weisselberg and Mr. McConney are also banned for life from serving in a financial management role in a New York company.

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are banned from serving as an officer or director of any New York company for two years. And Donald Trump and his companies are banned from applying for loans from any New York bank or financial institution for three years. A new independent director of compliance will be created at the Trump Organization to ensure the company establishes internal protocols and meets financial reporting obligations.

And the current independent external monitor will continue to oversee the company's financial dealings and ensure this fraud cannot continue. I want to be clear, white collar financial fraud is not a victimless crime when the powerful break the law and take more than their fair share. There are fewer resources available for working people, small businesses and families. And every day Americans cannot lie to a bank about how much money they have in order to get a mortgage to buy a home, or a loan to keep their business afloat, or to send their child to college.


And if they did, our government would throw the book at them. I want to thank the entire incredible and hardworking team in my office that tried this case, because the scale and the scope of Donald Trump's fraud is staggering. And so to is his ego, and his belief that the rules do not apply to him. Today, we are holding Donald Trump accountable. We are holding him accountable for lying, cheating, and a lack of contrition and for flouting the rules that all of us must play by because there cannot be different rules for different people in this country. And former presidents are no exception. This decision is a massive victory for every American who believes in that simple but fundamental pillar of our democracy, that the rule of law applies to all of us equally, fairly, and justly. Thank you.