Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Trump Says He Has Almost $500M in Cash in New Truth Social Post; U.N. Security Council Votes on U.S. Resolution, Calls for "Immediate and Sustained Ceasefire"; Congress Sprints to Pass Government Spending Bill and Avoid Shutdown; U.S. Sanctions Mexican Sinaloa Cartel over Money Laundering Scheme. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 22, 2024 - 09:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Breaking this morning, just a short time ago, Donald Trump posted on social media, claiming he has almost $500 million cash on hand. That's just three days from the deadline to hand over that huge bond payment in New York for his appeal. This is what Trump posted.

"Through hard work, talent, and luck, I currently have almost five hundred million dollars in cash, a substantial amount of which I intended to use in my campaign for president."

Now, we should note that over the course of his long career, Donald Trump hasn't always been the most reliable arbiter of how much money he has in one place or another. But that's the claim he just posted that comes after of course, he couldn't find any insurance company to underwrite a bond.


BERMAN: And we also learned this morning that, New York attorney general, her office, will be allowed to respond to the claim that he couldn't find a bond.

With us now, CNN's Kara Scannell and former assistant special Watergate prosecutor, (LAUGHTER) Nick Ackerman.

Kara, this claim from Donald Trump, he says he's got almost $500 million. Has anyone out there in the universe that needs to know, do they have evidence of this yet?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, this is clearly going to be something that you expect the New York attorney general's office to seize on when they respond. Now that they've got permission to in that brief, I did talk to Trump's attorney this morning and he was explaining to me what Trump meant by this.

He said that what Trump is talking about is the money that he has reported on his campaign disclosure forms that he's built up through years of owning and managing successful businesses. That is the very cash that Letitia James and the Democrats were targeting.

So he's trying to say that this $500 million is the amount that Trump has said that he has earned from all of his properties, you know, which he has publicly disclosed, not saying that it is actually what he has on hand now because he's already posted $100 million bond for E. Jean Carroll, roughly.

And, you know, they that -- but that still would leave about $350 million. You know, their position is that they can't put all of that into a bond because they have to run the business and do payroll and those sorts of things. But that is the explanation to get behind what Trump said today.

BERMAN: All right. Let's just -- I just wanted to follow up on that one second because you've been on the phone, doing reporting on this with the attorney. The attorney is saying, oh, this is Trump just saying what he has earned over time. It's not --

BOLDUAN: Trump is saying, not saying what he's saying.

BERMAN: Yes. Trump is not out there saying, I've been out there with Hatton hand collecting this money over the last few days. I'm about to hand this over to New York.

SCANNELL: Correct. They have -- that is not addressing the amount he actually has a mask because that is a good question. Did this mean he just got money in his pocket? And the answer is no. This is what he has publicly said. He has made over time from all of these properties as according to his most recent disclosure form, not what he actually hasn't hand and is interesting.

There was some debate the other day about whether Trump had any foreign money because one of his attorneys was on Fox and was asked about that. Now, this lawyer was also telling me that it is categorically absolutely not true that they are taking any money from Russia, Saudis, or any other foreign money. Said, it's not under consideration nor has there been at any time.

So trying to very much take that question off the table, obviously very controversial, potential conflicts of interests galore. Saying categorically, no, they're not accepting or seeking or considering any foreign money.

BOLDUAN: Nick, what one, do you think of Donald Trump saying this out loud on while he's running up against this deadline? And two, what options -- what do you think of the options that he has left because while he's saying stuff, it doesn't seem that the options are changing, that he's got in order to beat this deadline?

NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: That's absolutely correct. But keep in mind whatever the source of that money is, if he really has $500 million in his pocket somewhere. Barbara Jones, who is the special master that has been assigned to oversee this case, is going to have every right to trace that money back to wherever it came from. So this idea of whether it comes from the Saudis, the Russians, or from his own earned money is all going to be brought out and it's going to be investigated on the spot. So we're going to know the answer to that question.

In terms of his other options, they're not very good. One is that he files for bankruptcy which means that he would have to file for personal bankruptcy. Already back in the 1990s, he filed for bankruptcy six times. Not personal, but for all these various companies, all of which basically led to him stealing money from the government by not reporting taxes properly, by stealing from his family, by having his father sign a will when he was basically not able to understand what was going on.

And taking money from the Russians. But finally, having to actually file real statements about his financial worth, all of which turned out to be false and have come back to bite them. That may ultimately lead him to file for bankruptcy.


Again, his other option is to try and get money from other people and that's not so easy. Half a $1 billion is not an easy amount to come up with. And thirdly, he's got this potential option with this new media company that he's got, that he has stock in, but even there for somebody to put up a half $1 billion, even several people to put that up.

BOLDUAN: Wasn't that also hard because he's not, you can't -- you can't sell all the money you get on one of these deals. I mean --

ACKERMAN: Right. You can't sell the stock.

BOLDUAN: -- it's not really that good of an option.

ACKERMAN: No, it's not.

SCANNELL: It's restricted for six months, at least out of the gate and that value is going to fluctuate because there's always kind of the bump when something goes public, it could come right down.

ACKERMAN: That's right. And that's the problem.

BERMAN: So, Kara, this claim, which now turns out to be species (ph). It turns out to be not him saying, I've got $500 million, but saying that is what I had or have earned. Didn't he a few days ago said it was impossible for him to come up with that money? I mean, in an actual court filing.

SCANNELL: Right. I mean, these -- he was saying he does not have enough cash to secure a bond because all of these insurance companies that he talked to, they will only take cash or stock. They will not take property as collateral. And he's -- and based on the bond size plus the extra amount that he has to add to the bond in order to post it but come up to more than half a $1 billion. And even if you go by the math that I just kind of went through, that means you have about $350 million. And that's to run the company. So that's not even enough to cover the ultimate collateral to get the bond.

BERMAN: So I guess, what I'm asking -- I'm so sorry.


BERMAN: But if you're the appeals court, who's got to decide whether to reduce the money or not. Won't you look at this post on Truth Social saying, wait a second, you just told me you have the money. You're saying, it's impossible. You know, why -- why should we give you any grace here if you're saying you've got it.

ACKERMAN: That's right. I mean, that is the dumbest thing he could have possibly done to put that on Truth Social because that is a directed mission by him that he has the money. Now, keep in mind, even with this operating money or cash they supposedly have, if he doesn't pony up and put up a bond, Letitia James is going to be able to go in and basically put restraining orders on all of his bank accounts, everything that relates to him, and all of that money is going to be tied up in frozen. So if he's really got that money, he's got to put it up.

BODLUAN: You have also new reporting. Explain this one to me. The AG has now gotten greenlight to respond to some of this?

SCANNELL: Right. Because when Trump posted his court filing the other day. What she said, you know, we tried to get this money from 30 different insurance companies. We can't do it. Her office said, hey, we want to respond to this because we want to know what he actually has done to try to do this.

BOLDUAN: You want to see -- you want to see the work on that.

SCANNELL: We want to see what properties he's offered, what the terms we're opposed to by the insurance companies, and really try to get underneath how hard is he trying to do this and what extent has he really gone.

And so now the court is saying, you can respond to that. And they also are still opposing him posting a fraction of what they're saying, why can't you get several insurance companies to come together and do this? One won't do it.

Of course, Trump side, you know, their position is they don't -- they still would need the cash and they still don't have that cash.

BERMAN: Kara Scannell, Nick Ackerman, thank you both so much. I honestly feel like I understand this so much better now.

BOLDUAN: (Inaudible) the same thing.

BERMAN: All these things that have developed --

BOLDUAN: This is really (inaudible)

BERMAN: -- over the last few minutes, you really put it in the right perspective. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, you guys.

ACKERMAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Also happening right now, the United Nations is about to vote on a ceasefire resolution in Gaza, authored by the United States. The resolution contains the strongest language for a ceasefire that the United States has used until to date after previously vetoing similar resolutions. All of this is happening as Secretary of State Tony Blinken wraps up his meetings in Israel with the prime -- with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the war cabinet.

Same time, CIA Director Bill Burns, he is in the region. He is in Doha, Qatar because he is joining the ongoing talks to secure the release of Israeli hostages that have been ongoing and Tony Blinken says, may be showing that they're getting -- making -- gaining some ground.

Let's talk about these U.N. Security Council resolutions. CNN's Richard Roth is at the United Nations. CNN's Oren Liebermann is in Washington for us.

Richard, what are you expecting? What's happening with this resolution today? Bring us up to speed.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is speaking now, and Linda Thomas- Greenfield just said regarding the negotiations over the cease there, we believe we're close. We're not there yet. There is going to be a vote shortly on a resolution. Another resolution regarding the Israel- Gaza conflict.

And this resolution produces new language from the U.S. which wrote up and has written heard on this resolution with other member countries. The big change again in the language is that the United States is agreeing to a language which says there's an imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides.


It's not clear if Russia is going to go along with. It may. If somebody vetoes it, it goes down in flames. China or Russia could abstain, nodded, and it will pass. Kate.

BERMAN: Yes, immediate and sustained. The new language there. And again, this is coming from the United States. So Oren, to you, I wonder how this resolution is maybe meant to affect the negotiations going on in Doha. And if not that, the pressure that Secretary of State Blinken is trying to put on Israeli officials.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is clearly a signal and not the only one from Washington to the Israeli government that there is a need for not only more humanitarian aid, and that's what a lot of these discussions are about. Certainly, at the Pentagon where they're pressuring more humanitarian aid to get in. But also, to come to a resolution on a ceasefire and on a hostage release.

So this could be a part of that. It's worth remembering that the last U.N Security Council resolution didn't go through because the U.S. vetoed it and said, look, what's important right now is the negotiations. That's the key and anything that upsets those, we have to avoid that in the U.S. said the last U.N. Security Council resolution risked doing that.

So it's clear the U.S. still views those negotiations as the most important, perhaps the most meaningful. And with the best potential of an outcome here. But we're not there yet even if Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he goes around the region, has said the gaps are narrowing. They are not closed at this point, and it's not just these meetings today and the convergence of Bill Burns, Tony Blinken, and the U.N. There are also meetings next week. The Israeli defense minister is in the Pentagon as well as senior Israeli officials basically to try to brief the Americans on what's next, at least with the war and with humanitarian aid.

BOLDUAN: And talk about that, Oren. Because Oren, because these meetings that we're seeing now are the beginning of a series of what's really being seen as some critical discussions coming between the U.S. and Israel. What are you hearing about these?

LIEBERMANN: The Americans want to know -- the Biden administration wants to know that Israel has a plan for at least two different elements here. The first is if Israel is going to conduct a ground operation in Rafah, the U.S. wants to know what Israel's plan is for moving more than 1 million, something like 1.2 million Palestinians who are sheltering there and harboring there. Where do they go to try to find some safety and security in the Gaza Strip?

And then of course, Gaza needs more food, it needs more humanitarian aid. The U.S. has tried to get more in. They're working on a plan, that plan is underway to try to build a floating pier. But a lot of this is coordination and requires coordination with the Israeli government and military to get that humanitarian aid. And so that too is part of these discussions here.

Meanwhile, there's also big picture discussions. I'll go back to Blinken for a second. He was in Cairo, I believe it was, talking about normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia that would have to come as part of a big picture, end to the war. But the U.S. still pushing on that door as well.

BERMAN: All right, Oren Liebermann, Richard Roth, our thanks to both of you. Keep us posted, Richard. Again, these talks are ongoing, there's vote ongoing. Obviously, you want those results as soon as we get them.

This morning, there is a key House vote as the deadline to avoid a government shutdown is just hours away.

A new crackdown today on fentanyl in the United States. The Biden administration plan to tackle one of Mexico's biggest crime cartels.

And history made in Tennessee. The Country Music Capital is the first state to make it illegal to recreate a singer's voice using AI.



BOLDUAN: Lawmakers sprinting once again. But the question this morning is, are they sprinting to a photo finish to pass a funding package before a midnight deadline tonight or are they heading toward a train wreck of political infighting. Once again, that's before they even pass the baton to the Senate.

They are voting in the House on a $1 trillion deal at some point this morning with funding for six government agencies on the line. That's where we are right now. But let's find out where this is headed. Sunlen Serfaty is covering this for us on the Hill.

Sunlen, what are you hearing there now?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, time is very short up here on Capitol Hill and lawmakers, they are just staring down that midnight deadline. Now, votes officially were alerted this morning in the House. So that is officially going to start at 10:50 a.m. Eastern Time. And House Republicans, they expect that this will get passed, but there has been major grumbling, especially on the far right, and it is a high bar for this to pass in the House. They need two-thirds majority of those present today for this to pass.

So this is going to rely Speaker Johnson needs the help of House Democrats to get this passed, but just check out some of this grumbling that we heard frustration vented for many House Republicans who are wary about voting for this bill. Here's what they said yesterday up here on the Hill.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): This bill in real-time is a failure. So we're going to figure out what to do about it. Again, my job right now is to say Republicans should reject it.

REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): What he did was basically took what Schumer wanted and said, OK. Very disappointing.


SERFATY: Now, if and when this passes in the House, that's when this bill comes over here to the Senate. And it does take -- take a tough slog any one member can stand in the way, delay voting. And of course, they're running against that time for midnight tonight. So the delay is what we're watching for over here in the Senate. So, Kate, a lot of possibilities for this to get off track today. Of course, lawmakers hoping to avoid a partial shutdown over the weekend barreling towards that midnight deadline. Kate. [09:20:08]

BOLDUAN: All right. Sunlen, stay close. Let's see what happens. Thank you very much for laying it out for us for instant close this all throughout the day.

So this also ahead, the White House is taking out one of the biggest cartels in Mexico now in new ways. How it's trying to prevent them from laundering millions of dollars made from fentanyl.

And will the Dow crack 40,000 for the first time? That is a question today, actually, as we are moments away from opening bell on Wall Street. We'll be back.



BERMAN: New this morning, the Biden administration is rolling out new sanctions against Mexico's powerful Sinaloa Cartel for laundering millions of dollars made from selling fentanyl in the United States. Treasury official say the scheme involved using drug money to purchase cell phones in the U.S., which were then shipped to Mexico and sold at local stores.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo is part of this effort, and he is with us now. Thanks so much for being with us. Who and what will these new sanctions target?

ADEWALE "WALLY" ADEYEMO, DEPUTY TREASURY SECRETARY: Thanks for having me and this is amongst the 300 sanctions we've leveled over the course of the last two years. And these target -- these sanctions today will target individuals who have helped with the scheme that has allowed this Mexican drug cartel to earn money here in America, from putting American lives at risk and then take that money and move it to Mexico to enrich themselves. And our actions today will make sure that that financial assistance is cut off.

I'm the phoenix today because this is an action that has been driven by our -- the Treasury Office, of Foreign Assets Control, as well the DEA. And we've worked together to cut off these individuals and were committed to continue to take steps to make sure that the money that they earn in this country is not accessible to them. And to stop deaths from fentanyl.

BERMAN: You know, you just said they're part of some 300 sanctions that have been issued over the last couple years. How are they working? Have they stopped the flow of fentanyl?

ADEYEMO: So the president's direction, Secretary Yellen created a strike force at the Treasury to go after the assets of these individuals. Fundamentally, these drug dealers, what they are because they are businesspeople who are trying to earn money. Unfortunately, the business therein is illegal and it's costing Americans their lives. So our goal is to use every tool in our toolbox at the president's direction to cut them off from that money, to demonstrate to them that they can earn money selling these illegal deadly product here in the United States. But it's part of a holistic strategy by the administration that includes engaging with the Mexican government. Secretary Yellen was just in Mexico.

But in addition to these tools, the president has asked Congress to give us additional tools as part of the bipartisan negotiation in the Senate that will help us stop the flow of fentanyl into our country.

BERMAN: You know, when we're talking about sanctions, shifting gears here. The Biden ministration has placed sanctions on Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Broadly speaking, there are some disagreements now between the Biden administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the path going forward. What other sanctions, if any might be possible in regard to Israel or Israelis?

ADEYEMO: We're going to continue to look at how we can use our tools to effectuate the type of foreign policies changed what the president has called for. And how we can use it to protect the stability of places like the worst West Bank, by going after violent extremely settlers. Many of the people that we've already sanctioned are people who have already been prosecuted by the government in Israel.

And what we're doing is we're making sure that they don't have access to the U.S. financial system in order to buy weapons and other tools that they're using to perpetuate violence that Israel has already recognized in their country. But we're committed to using these tools as part of the president's foreign policy. In the same way, we're using them here to try and make sure that we're cutting off access to those that are using the U.S. financial system to do something that is in violation of our national security interests.

BERMAN: More on the issue of sanctions. You know, last month, the administration announced hundreds of new sanctions against Russia for the war in Ukraine. This morning, Ukraine says it just had the worst series of airstrikes against its energy infrastructure to date in this two-year war. How are the sanctions deterring Russia, which is gaining territory, strengthening its attacks?

ADEYEMO: So, John, I think one of the things that we know is that sanctions are just one tool in an overall strategy that the president is implementing. Our goal was sanctions in the Russia-Ukraine contexts, or to slow down Russia's ability to buy weapons and (inaudible) revenue. But fundamentally, in order for us to make sure that Ukraine has the resources they need to defend themselves, Congress needs to pass the president's national security supplemental.

In the same way, that supplemental includes resources for Ukraine, the Senate had negotiated a package of authorities that would give the president the ability to stop fentanyl's flow into this country. And as you know, fentanyl is the leading killer of Americans between the age of 18 and 49. You want to do everything that's possible.

And while we're going to continue to use sanctions and I've mentioned the 300 that we've done, we need additional authorities from Congress to make sure that we have all the tools in our toolkit, has the government to make sure that fentanyl stops threatening the lives of Americans, including here in Phoenix where I am today.

BERMAN: Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo, nice to see you this morning. Thank you so much for being with us. Kate.