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Trump Invokes The Fifth During Deposition In Probe Of The Trump Org; Inflation Increased By Zero Percent Last Month, Compared To 1.3 Percent In June; Trump Leaves Deposition With NY A.G. After Pleading The 5th. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired August 10, 2022 - 15:00   ET


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: His appearance delayed before the grand jury and he was able to do that by a short amount of time, but he essentially argued that he should have a long delay. He had a medical procedure. He couldn't fly to Georgia and the judge who was overseeing that challenge essentially said figure it out, you can take a bus, you can drive, we'll give you ample time, but not as much as you have been asking for. So we'll see how this goes for Lindsey Graham today.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right. Sara Murray, thank you.

It's the top of a brand new hour on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to have you with me.

We begin with the strategic silence of Donald Trump. The former president pleaded the fifth during a deposition in a civil probe of his family business. And Trump's refusal to answer questions is a bold contradiction of his past comments.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The mob takes the fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?

When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the fifth so they're not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the fifth, I think it's disgraceful.

Have you seen what's going on in front of Congress? Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, horrible, horrible.


BLACKWELL: Lawyers are deposing Trump in a civil investigation by the New York Attorney General and she's looking into The Trump Organization's alleged misleading of lenders, and insurers and tax authorities by providing them inaccurate financial statements. Add this to the list of legal troubles facing the former president, including a federal criminal probe of presidential documents that lead to an FBI search of his Florida home. Monday's search has his supporters urging him to move up his announcement of a 2024 run.

CNN's Kara Scannell has the latest on the deposition from outside the New York Attorney General's Office. So what did the President say about why he took the fifth?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Victor, as you played in that montage, you see it's quite a different tune today that the former president now saying he is not answering questions and asserting his Fifth Amendment right. In a lengthy statement, the former president said that one of the reasons he wasn't doing this is he said that the New York Attorney General, a Democrat, Letitia James, he called her investigation a political witch hunt. And he also referenced that FBI search warrant at the Mar-A-Lago, his home, on Monday and that unrelated investigation, he said that solidified his decision.

Now, I'll read you part of the statement, it's in a typical Trump paper ball. He said, "Years of work and 10s of millions of dollars have been spent on this long simmering saga, and to no avail. James now realizes I built a great company with tremendous value, and her case is a 'scam', which is why for years they haven't been able to file a single charge."

Now, this investigation is still ongoing and she has not admitted or consented in any way that his - that this was a scam investigation at all. But she is in there investigating him. She wants to know whether they had misled lenders, insurers or tax authorities by having misleading financial statements.

And James said that one of the reasons why she subpoena the former president for his testimony today is because she wanted to understand what his role was in preparing those financial statements and coming up with the values of the properties included in them.

Now, Trump is asserting the Fifth Amendment. It's coming up at almost six hours now that he's been in there. It's not - really not clear how long he will continue to be in there answering questions. By contrast, Eric Trump, his son, was deposed in 2020. He asserted the Fifth Amendment to more than 500 questions.

Now, recent weeks, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, they came in for testimony also under a subpoena and they answered the questions not asserting the Fifth Amendment. So we're waiting to see if he's going to be leaving soon. We've seen some Secret Service activity, but for now, we're heading up into hour six, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Kara Scannell watching it there for us. Thank you, Kara.

We've got new details now about the FBI's search of Trump's Mar-A-Lago resort. Authorities believe that Trump or his team did not turn over documents that were property of the government, that's according to a person familiar with the matter who also says those documents were classified and have national security implications.

CNN Anchor and Senior Washington Correspondent Pamela Brown is here. So what are you learning about the search?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, what we're learning is that FBI investigators got to the point where they grew suspicious. They were concerned that Trump's representatives were not being fully forthcoming, not telling the full truth over the months of discussions with them. And the concern was that there were documents including classified documents that could have national security implications that were still being held at Mar- A-Lago even after the National Archives took 15 boxes away earlier this year.

And so that is all factored in into the search warrant that was executed there at Mar-A-Lago, the president's former residence - private residence on Monday. And so, it is notable that the FBI took this big step, this unprecedented step, and in fact through the course of the investigation, and even reached out to Trump Org issued a subpoena for Trump Org to turn over surveillance footage of Mar a Lago as part of this investigation.


Now, why the FBI decided after more than a year that this was the time to go in there and collect these documents were told about a dozen boxes, according to one of the lawyers for Trump, why now is the time that is still unclear. But there has been so much backlash from the right, in particular, to this search.

In fact, Victor, there's been so much backlash that the biography of a federal magistrate judge has been taken off of a website in Florida. Now, this person has been identified by some media outlets as the judge that signed off on the search warrant. CNN has not been able to independently confirm that, but it is notable that the information, the contact information, the address for this judge had to be taken down, given the reaction to this on the right, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we've certainly seen some violent rhetoric on social media after Monday's search warrant was executed. Let me ask you about the defense that we're hearing from those who are around the former president about having these classified documents at Mar-A-Lago, what do you know?

BROWN: Yes, you're already seeing this defense start getting out there from Trump allies. Kash Patel, a former Trump administration official was on Fox News talking about this idea that the President declassified these documents when he had the ultimate authority to when he was in the White House.

And so, therefore, the FBI didn't take away any classified documents because the President, when he was in that role, declassified them. You can't do it retroactively, but the argument is going to be made moving forward that as president, he declassified many sets of documents and that whatever was taken, which we don't know exactly what was taken, was included in those sets of documents.

The tricky part here is, Victor, it's a gray area. There is no formal procedure when it comes to the president declassifying documents. I spoke to a former White House lawyer who said typically, the White House counsel would write up a memo, have the President sign what he wanted to declassify.

But, of course, in the Trump White House, things didn't follow the typical procedure, the typical protocol and there is a school of thought that, yes, because the President has the ultimate authority to declassify, he can just say it and that's that and there doesn't have to be a paper trail behind it. So that would be the tricky part if it ever got to court, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Pamela Brown with the reporting, thank you.

All right. Dave Aronberg, who's actually not too far from Mar-A-Lago is joining us. He's the State Attorney for Palm Beach County. And Elliot Williams is a former federal prosecutor and CNN Legal Analyst. Gentlemen, welcome.

Elliot, let me start with you, the former president invoking his Fifth Amendment rights here. This has gone on for now hour six, we hear from Kara Scannell out there. Is this what you expected that he would do knowing his history in these depositions?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think so. So it's a few things, Victor. Look, what the Fifth Amendment it, it just says in the Constitution quite clearly that no person can be compelled to testify against themselves. You can't bring someone in to have them testify and then use that testimony in a criminal proceeding. And so you hear, literally, you have the right to remain silent, if you've ever watched a cop show, that's the Fifth Amendment. That's what the President asserted here.

Actually, he's got a basis for asserting the Fifth Amendment here because we know about an ongoing criminal investigation in New York City, based on the same facts that the attorney general is investigating today, this question of whether he unlawfully inflated the values of some of this property. So, yes, we could have expected it, but this might be the one time Donald Trump actually has a good Fifth Amendment claim to bring.

BLACKWELL: Dave, this is a financial investigation. They're trying to determine if he inflated or deflated the values of properties for insurers or other business contacts. These cases are made on paper, so how detrimental maybe is this to the case or not?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: Victor, it's hard to tell, because when it comes to these economic cases, people lie but paper doesn't, and that's why you want to find the paper trail. But Trump doesn't use email or text messages, so that's why they wanted him to testify and now they're not going to get it.

But because this is a civil investigation, Donald Trump's taking of the Fifth Amendment can be used against him as a negative inference at a civil trial. So Trump was caught in a box here, because if he took the fifth, then he avoids having his statements used against him in a criminal trial and there is a criminal investigation as Elliot pointed out.

But at the same time, he risks having the invocation of the fifth, creating a negative inference against him in a civil trial. So Tish James, the Attorney General here is going to use that against him.


And if you don't think a civil investigation matters, just ask Ivanka, the Trump Foundation was shut down because of an action taken by Attorney General Tish James, the same person who's in charge of this.

BLACKWELL: Now, Dave, you said that this could be used as a negative inference against him in a civil trial, do you expect that this will go that far to a trial?

ARONBERG: These things rarely go to trial. They usually settle just like the Trump Foundation. They agreed to disband the whole foundation and I expect this to settle. But I do expect that there will be an action brought against Trump and the organization by Tish James. She has come a long way to get this deposition and I think she's going to keep pursuing it till the end.

The bigger question is whether it leads to criminal charges. My counterpart in Manhattan, DA Alvin Bragg has sort of put the criminal investigation on hold. There was a lot of controversy about that. And Trump was worried that if he said the wrong thing, it could reignite that criminal investigation. Well, I think he doesn't have to worry about that as much as he has to worry about civil charges coming.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Ellie, what do you make about - of the, I guess, the disparity in strategy here because we know that the former president is invoking the fifth. Also, his son, Eric Trump invoked the fifth, so has Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of The Trump Organization. But Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump answered questions. I mean, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are both leading this organization or at least they were doing the administration taking different roads. What do you see here?

WILLIAMS: Well, there's this open question as to whether the President is playing four dimensional chess, while everyone around him is playing checkers and there's a grand strategy here. I'm not convinced that they actually have a broader grand strategy here illegally. And it just - look, it is splashy to plead the fifth and if you notice, the president immediately came out and issued a statement saying, I plead the fifth a bunch of times. This is the fake news media coming after me.

It is probably as much of a political and public relations strategy as it is a legal one, notwithstanding both of the legal points, both David and I have made here. But there - I think there's a little more behind this than just legal strategy going forward.

BLACKWELL: Dave, let me ask you about the search warrant that was executed on Monday at Mar-A-Lago. There is the return, there's the inventory of everything that was taken. If this is so egregious as the president and his team said that this was, should the former president make that public?

ARONBERG: Oh, yes, and the former president can. He can release a search warrant. He can release the inventory, but he's not going to do so. Because he knows that will undermine his claim that he did nothing wrong. And I think this claim that the DOJ should be the one that's transparent. You saw when Mitch McConnell said that, hey, let's talk about this in public, Merrick Garland, and give us more information.

Well, he knows that prosecutors live by a different set of rules than politicians. We cannot provide details about a pending investigation. That could jeopardize our sources. That could jeopardize our case, because you're depriving a future defendant of the right to a fair trial if you litigate it in the press.

But the potential suspect here, Donald Trump, is not subject to those same rules. He can release all that stuff, but he won't, because he would rather try this case in the court of public opinion.

BLACKWELL: Dave Aronberg, Elliot Williams, thank you.

Well, inflation may be finally starting to fizzle just a bit, but prices are still high across the country. How today's new economic report may affect the Feds next interest rate decision, we have that for you.

Plus gas prices are now averaging about $4 per gallon, but one expert warns do not celebrate just yet.



BLACKWELL: Today, gas prices are down for the 57th consecutive day. AAA is reporting the national average is just above four bucks a gallon, including in places like Washington, D.C. where CNN's Pete Muntean is starting to hear from people who are relieved by the drop in prices.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Victor, we are watching the gas prices fall in real time here at the Citgo station in northeast C.D. was $3.89 earlier today, now it's $38.5 for a gallon of regular. The most common price for a gallon of gasoline you will see in the U.S. right now according to GasBuddy, $36.9 which is dragging down the national average now $4.01 according to AAA, $0.02 overnight, down $0.67 in the last month.

Think about where we were back on June 14th, we've reached the all time high for a gallon of regular of $5.02, so we've seen the price of gas on average drop a dollar, since then 57 straight days of decline. And Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy says the trend could continue, but a little bit of caution here, Mother Nature could throw a wrench into things.


PATRICK DE HAAN, HEAD OF PETROLEUM ANALYSIS, GASBUDDY: We're not in the clear yet. The peak of hurricane season starts in mid to late August and I think my anxiety is going to be pretty elevated because if we see any major storm, I would say a category three or stronger targeting an area between New Orleans and Houston, buckle up.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MUNTEAN: Gas prices right now are the silver lining when it comes to

inflation, causing the rate of inflation to go down a little bit in the month of July compared to previous months. It's also good news for consumers of pretty much everything businesses not passing along gas prices near as much for things like milk and eggs, Victor.


BLACKWELL: Thank you, Pete Muntean. Also, in July no increase in inflation from June 2022 to July 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that consumer prices increased 8.5 percent year-over- year, still high, but slower than the 9.1 percent increase in June.

Joining me now is Mark Zandi. He's the Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics. Mark, welcome back. Have we passed the peak?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: I think so, Victor. That with great trepidation, a lot depends on those oil prices and that previous report about that hurricane possibly blown through, so things can go off the rails. But the most likely outlook scenario is that oil prices stay roughly where they are, gas prices hanging around four bucks a gallon and we've seen the worst of the high inflation, still painfully high, still very difficult for most Americans, but moving in the right direction.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Beyond the singular question, so many people have asked about the peak of inflation, when you look at today's report, what's the broader picture?

ZANDI: It's - I'd say, much improved. The oil prices are really key. It shows up mostly - most quickly with regard to gas prices. But it's going to show up in food prices as well. The one disappointment in today's inflation numbers was food prices, food at home prices continue to rise very quickly. But I think that spot is set to come down because a big part of the increase in food prices is just the cost of getting the food from the farm to the store shop, the diesel prices and diesel prices have come in as well.

And you're seeing also the supply chain issues related to the pandemic and the shutdown of China, they're starting to abate, vehicle prices are rolling over, used car prices have actually declined, apparel prices are down because of the shift in consumer demand away from stuff goods that we were buying in the teeth of the pandemic to now other things like travel, and restaurants and ballgames.

There's a lot of inventory sitting there that retailers have and they're going to start discounting that - those inventories to try to move that inventory. So to kind of add it all up, Victor, it feels like we're going to get some better news here going forward.

Again, it's not going to be a straight line, I'm sure. There's going to be ups and downs and all arounds and there's going to be disappointments. But I do think we're going to feel a lot better about inflation a year from now.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the Fed, because obviously it's taking some aggressive moves to try to cool inflation over the last several months. There is another CPI report coming out before their next decision on interest rates, but how do you imagine they are looking at this one report of the two before they have to decide?

ZANDI: Well, I think they're taking some solace in it, but they have a script, right? They've told - they've been raising interest rates since the beginning of the year. They've told us pretty point blank that they're going to raise rates some more here. They meet again in September. They'll probably raise rates another half point at that meeting, a couple more rate hikes later in the year.

And I think that's kind of sort of where they're going to end the story, that that's going to be the peak in the rate increases. And today's numbers provide support that they still need to step on the brakes, slow things down, make sure that, we don't overheat, that we don't blow past full employment and wage in price pressures become more of an issue.

But this kind of numbers suggest that they don't need to step on the brakes even harder and that's really good news, because that gives us a fighting chance to kind of navigate through the next six to 12 months without recession. It's going to be a struggle. It's going to be slow growth, high inflation, it's not going to feel great, it certainly hasn't up to this point, but I think we can make our way through without recession if we continue to get numbers like today's number, which I think we have a fighting shot at.

BLACKWELL: All right. Mark Zandi, always good to have your insight, sir, thank you.

Moments ago, former President Donald Trump left the deposition with the New York Attorney General in connection with the civil investigation into The Trump Organization. Let's go back now to CNN's Kara Scannell outside of the AG's office. Kara?

SCANNELL: Yes, Victor. We just saw moments ago, former President Donald Trump leave in a parade of Secret Service vehicles. They drove right past us. People were shouting questions, but he did not answer any. He didn't roll down the window. We didn't see him at all. But this wraps up now six hours that he has been inside the New York Attorney General's office not answering questions and asserting his Fifth Amendment rights.

So this now is one of the most significant moments in this investigation. The Attorney General have been waiting for his testimony saying that they were getting toward the end of this investigation, but they wanted to know what his role was in the preparation of his financial statements, which is something that they're investigating.

So we could see this investigation wrap up soon. We could see them make a decision on whether to bring any type of enforcement action, Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right. No questions answered inside, no questions answered outside. Kara Scannell for us, thank you very much. We'll speak to a Trump biographer about the deposition just ahead. Stay with us.




BLACKWELL: The woman whose allegations led to the 1955 lynching of teenager Emmett Till will not face charges.