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Barbara Walters Dead At 93; Suspect In Idaho Killings Arrested In Pennsylvania, Questions Remain About Motive, Murder Weapon. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired December 30, 2022 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SALLY QUINN, AUTHOR (voice over): And I know that she was very disappointed a lot of times, particularly at ABC toward the end, where she had worked so hard, she started The View, she founded The View. She did everything possible to get as many interviews and to get that network. I mean, she's really one of the reasons that ABC became such a top network at one point is because of Barbara. I mean, she single handedly put them on the map, was the first at NBC and then at ABC.
But, you know, she lived for her work. She absolutely lived for her work and that was everything to her. And she didn't particularly enjoy vacations. She would go up on vacation and always complain how she would get bored because she couldn't wait to come back.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Typical journalist.
QUINN (voice over): And I do think that when she finally left television, she just -- I don't -- I mean, I think she just didn't want to live anymore. And I haven't -- Barbara was one of my closest friends and I haven't seen her in at least five or six years. And she -- once she left television, we had one really long lunch and she was very sad and she didn't talk much and it was very quiet and she hugged me. It was right around the corner of her own house and she called me darling and sweet heart and we hugged and she said goodbye. She was using a cane and I never saw her again. And she stopped answering phone calls from everybody, even her closest friends.
And, I mean, I would check in like I'd email or call, and so did everybody, and I would check in with my friends and people would say, she just doesn't want to see anybody and she doesn't want to talk to anybody. And I think that that was -- that was someone -- she had a daughter. She had grandchildren. She had an adopted daughter, and her daughter was important to her. But I think that her life was her work. And once that was over, she felt like she had done what she had meant to do on this Earth.
BROWN: And an incredible legacy she leaves behind.
Sally Quinn, David Gergen, thank you so much, as we'll remember Barbara Walters tonight. The news continues. Let's turn it over to Alisyn Camerota and CNN TONIGHT. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Alisyn Camerota. And we have sad breaking news tonight, the death of an American icon. Barbara Walters, news anchor, reporter, talk show host, television legend, she's passed away at the age of 93.
She had quite a stellar career. She joined ABC News in 1976, becoming the first female anchor of an evening news program. And three years later, she became co-host of 20/20. Then in 1997, she launched The View, which is, of course, still on the air.
In a statement, Barbara Walters' spokesperson, Cindi Berger, confirmed the news anchor's death, quote, Barbara Walters passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones. She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists but for all women. That's what the statement said.
We have so much to talk about with Barbara Walters and how she impacted all of us journalists.
Joining me now is John Miller, he co-anchored 20/20 with Barbara Walters. John, sad news, she was 93. Obviously, she lived a life, but she -- anyone who is I'd say 40 or above whose gone into journalism did it on the shoulders of Barbara Walters in some way.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, that's true. And I mean Barbara Walters didn't just break the glass ceiling. She broke through -- she caused the collapse of the glass building and she did it one step at a time through her career. Remember, she was on the Today Show and then moved to ABC, where she was co-anchor ABC Evening News with Harry Reasoner.
But Harry Reasoner seemed to resent her presence so much on the air that you could tell there just wasn't chemistry, he was almost hostile. And she moved off and then forged her own path, getting the interviews that other people couldn't get, becoming the go-to person whether you were a super star or a villain, and she was very generous.
When her partner on 20/20, which was a magazine show she also pioneered into an entire genre, when her partner, Hugh Downs, retired, she called me in and said I want you to be my new co-anchor. And I remember saying -- and this is about generosity and her confidence in her own picks. I remember saying, Barbara, I've never anchored anything at all in television.
And this is one of the highest rated television news shows in history. She said, well, don't worry. Everyone has to start somewhere.
CAMEROTA: That's wonderful and what a great story. She faced resentment from a lot of male co-anchors, I think, not just Harry Reasoner. But when you talk about the incredible interviews that she did, I mean, so many were record ratings-breaking and they were memorable. So, just to name a few, obviously, she did a lots heads of state. She did one with the Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat. And I remember she sat down with Michael Jackson, which, you know, basically broke the rating system. And then I think the highest rated one ever was Monica Lewinsky.
I mean, as you say, John, people, whether it was in the middle of a scandal or it was in the middle of a celebration, she was their go-to. She was the person who had established herself. You just hadn't made it until you sat down and cried through a Barbara Walters interview.
MILLER: Well -- and, I mean, a lot of this was about her special technique that she forged. If you were being interviewed by Mike Wallace on 60 Minute, when the killer question came, it came in the form of a stiletto. When you were interviewed by Barbara Walters, the killer question would still come. She would ask anything that needed to be asked. She did it in a way with not a stiletto, it was scalpel. I mean, you didn't feel it going in and she asked it with real curiosity.
I really -- the viewers really want to know the answer to this, and it made even a difficult interview, even an interview that might be hostile with another interviewer seem like the kind of thing where the person just wanted to talk and tell her, and she got a lot out of a lot of people. You name it, world leaders, Fidel Castro, she brought me back the box of cigars because she was not a cigar smoker and she knew that that would make me happy. But, I mean, it was the way that made people feel confident that she would ask whatever needed to be asked but also get their story out.
CAMEROTA: John, stand by, if you would. We have Lisa Ling on the phone with us now. She, of course, a View co-host for years. Lisa, just tell us what your thoughts are tonight with this sad news.
LISA LING, HOST, THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING (voice over): Alisyn, I'm so devastated to learn of Barbara's passing. I hadn't talked to her in awhile and so I've been concerned about her health and how she's been doing. But I -- this woman paved the way for all of us. I don't know that I would be doing what I'm doing had she not been there first and literally fought her way to the top. And I have always had so much respect for her and it was such a tremendous honor to sit alongside her for three years at The View.
CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, I feel the same way. You know, we all have -- all of us female journalists have some sort of origin story that involves Barbara Walters. Mine happened in utero. My mother claims that she was watching Barbara Walters while she was pregnant with me and thought that would be an interesting job for my daughter. I mean, it just goes to show how long Barbara Walters was in our lives and such an influential presence and such a trailblazer, as you say. I mean, to remind everybody, she started in 1961 as a reporter, writer and panel member at NBC.
But it was no easy road, as you know, Lisa. I mean, the assignments that she got and what she had to endure and breakthrough in order to become Barbara Walters, I mean, for years, they only gave her the fashion beat.
LING (voice over): That's right. CAMEROTA: And she just -- her tenacity allowed her to become this icon.
LING (voice over): And one thing I want to share, Alisyn, when I started at the view, I was in my mid-20s, I had worked as a journalist for a number of years for Channel 1, but still bit of a cub reporter. And I was so -- always trying to pepper her with questions and ask her about how she got that interview with Fidel Castro and so on. And she would always say to me, she would look me in the eyes and say, Lisa, no matter what -- I know you're very ambitious. But if anything sticks with you, let it be never neglect your personal life.
And she was emphatic about that because she had to make so many sacrifices to get to where she was. And I have never forgotten about that and I certainly -- I've thought about what she said to me so many times as I've tried to navigate this business that I never wanted to have to make those sacrifices and I really didn't, because people like Barbara did it for us in so many ways.
CAMEROTA: I totally agree. I'm so glad you said that, Lisa, because I know that to be true also. Women who got into this business in the '70s and '80s had to give up a lot in their personal lives. Many of them didn't have children. She had, I believe, three divorces. It was -- you can imagine how hard it was to have a personal life when you were traveling and interviewing heads of state and all the competition and sharp elbows that she had to endure.
I'm really glad that you brought that up because I think that that was a sacrifice that she wished she didn't have to make but she was a product of her time.
LING (voice over): She absolutely was. And she even said that as she was retiring from The View and ABC. After all the interviews that she'd done, she said that her biggest regret was that she didn't spend as much time as she should have spent with her daughter, Jackie, whom I can tell you she loved more than anything in the world.
CAMEROTA: That's beautiful. Lisa, thank you very much.
Hold on for a second because we want to bring in Sharon Waxman now, who has her own, obviously, story. She's a founder and editor-in-chief of TheWrap.com. Sharon, tell us what you are thinking tonight.
SHARON WAXMAN, FOUNDER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THEWRAP.COM: I mean, I'm just thinking what a monument Barbara Walkers was and how she was a presence consistently through most of our lives. You made the point that she started in 1960 and retired, I guess, in the mid-2015 of there about. She just never went away as a presence. So, she is somebody who represented, for those of us who were coming up as female journalists, as a constant symbol of integrity, a symbol of career and ambition and intelligence that you could aspire to. So, I think that was really important.
And when I think about all of the tarnish that we have on so many of our legendary figures in media, Barbara Walters, it never touched her. She really came through decade-after-decade and cycle-after-cycle of the various permutations of her career, whether she's on the Today Show or anchoring the Abc Evening News cast or starting The View or doing one-on-ones with presidents, which was like a must, you had to sit down with her. She was somebody who was consistently there as a symbol of what journalism ought to be, at least that's how it was for me.
CAMEROTA: You talk about her interviews with presidents, she interviewed every U.S. president and first lady, from Richard and Pat Nixon through Barack and Michelle Obama. You're right, you didn't have a choice. All roads to the White House led through Barbara Walters, as you point out.
WAXMAN: Exactly. And she was (INAUDIBLE) I think, like they needed to prove themselves to her in a way, in an interesting way. They needed to win her over.
CAMEROTA: That's right, and do it while somehow avoiding crying. I mean, I remember how many people would sit down for a Barbara Walters interview and be like, I vow to myself I wasn't going to cry but here I am weeping. Somehow, she just turned on the waterworks for people.
I think we have a Bob Iger from ABC statement here. He says -- he just tweeted out that she was a one of a kind reporter. He says, Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women and journalism but for journalism itself. She was a one of a kind reporter who landed many of the most important interviews of our time, from heads of state and leaders of regimes to the biggest celebrities and sports icons.
I had the pleasure of calling Barbara a colleague for more than three decades, but more importantly, I was able to call her a dear friend. She will be missed by all of us at the Walt Disney company and we send condolences to her daughter, Jackie, Jacqueline.
Yes. I mean, she obviously is an icon and stayed for so long at ABC, she's still identified with the Barbara Walters specials and, of course, The View.
She also was aware that she had a legacy. She was proud of it. Here is what she said about her own legacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS, FORMER ABC NEWS ANCHOR: No offense you guys out there, but if I have a, legacy and I've said this before and I mean it so sincerely, I hope that I played a small role in paving the way for so many of you fabulous women who are here tonight. I can't tell you how much pleasure it gives me when some smaller young woman comes up to me and tells me of her achievements. That's my legacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: I was there that day when she talked about that.
[22:15:02] And it was powerful and obviously she was humble in accepting the accolades and her awards always.
And so, Sharon, I mean, this is -- she was 93. Obviously, she had a long, stellar career, but as Lisa Ling and I were just talking about, it wasn't without a cost, it wasn't without a lot of personal sacrifice.
WAXMAN: Yes, I don't think that you ever saw that on camera because she was just -- all the bad stuff was not part of anything that you would note as a viewer, but there is just no way that you can be blazing a trail like she was as the -- she was a first at so many things. I believe she was the first woman anchor on the Today Show. She was the first woman to anchor the evening news on a broadcast network. And so these were first that do not come at a cost. Those do come with certain sacrifice.
And she would write about it much later in her memoirs and talk about it later, but being the only woman journalist in the room when you're there with the big guys is that takes some real self-definition and intention. And for those of us who came later, and I'm not a television journalist, I'm just a print journalist, but, honestly, you feel like it seems like the most natural things in the world. And that's why when you realize how important representation is and seeing somebody do the thing that you can then imagine yourself to become, I think she did that because for an entire generation of women journalists.
CAMEROTA: Yes. And, by the way, her male colleagues were not always welcoming and she did it anyway. We've had an easier time thanks to her.
Sharon, thank you for all of those the remembrances.
And, Lisa, I want to go back to you because you worked with her at The View and, I mean, you've talked about what a role model and mentor and help she was to you. And what was that like? What were those years there with her like?
LING (voice over): They were incredible, Alisyn. And hearing that bite from her talking about her legacy and how she hopes that she has paved the way for younger journalists, she certainly has for all of us.
And I started at The View when I was 26 years old and Barbara was so welcoming of me. She even invited me. She would have these dinner parties at her home with the likes of the late Richard Holbrooke and the late Vernon Jordan, you know, these hugely notable figures in American politics, and she would invite me.
And all of these dinner parties, we weren't having casual conversations. She would propose a question to the table and everybody's voices, you know, she truly wanted to hear from everyone and understand their perspective. I mean, Barbara was the ultimate sponge who always just wanted to absorb as much as she could. And I heard John miller talking about how effortlessly it was for her to make people cry. I mean, when I first sat down with her at a lunch after I was first hired to be a co-host on The View, she was looking me straight in the eye and asking me about my life and about everything that I had experienced as a young person. And it became so emotional. This was a casual launch.
I mean -- and this was a testament to Barbara's greatness, that it was wasn't -- she wasn't doing it because it was a job. She had this insatiable curiosity. And she really, really, wanted to know the story of the person she was talking to, the person she was interviewing. And that's why it was so effortless.
CAMEROTA: So, that's incredible. She could just look at you and make you cry. That's an art form. And you're not alone. I mean, how many dozens of people sat down in those interviews didn't want to cry and started crying. She really had that skill, I guess, because, as you say, she would just sort of look into your eyes or into your soul and try to get people to reveal their deepest secrets, and they often did.
Lisa, one of the things I'm struck by is there was that -- I guess, it was her retirement on The View. I think it was when she was retiring. And I just remember all of the women, you included, I believe, and there was just a long, long, long, long, long, long, long line of female journalists who stood and came to pay their respects to her.
And it was just, you know, famous face after famous face after famous face who basically dealt a debt of gratitude to her.
LING: Absolutely. I'll never forget that day. And, honestly, Alisyn, when I asked her about retiring, she said something candid to me. She said, I'm not really ready to retire but I'm getting some pressure. And I'll never forget that moment because I still believe that Barbara had so much to give but she felt at the time that she was getting pressured to be off the air.
But it was -- we were there because she was the queen. She has been the grandmom (ph) of journalism for all of us and, as I said earlier, just paved the way so profoundly for so many of us. And so we were proud to be there. We were thrilled to be there. And I know I've missed seeing her on television all these years. There really is no one who has been able to fill her shoes since, no one.
CAMEROTA: Yes, that was a powerful moment. And I take your point that she was getting pressure to retire, I guess, at a certain age but she did it graciously, even despite the fact that she didn't necessarily feel read to do that.
LING: She did.
CAMEROTA: Lisa, yes, thank you for sharing all of that. I really appreciate being able to talk to you tonight as we just absorb this sad news that Barbara Walters, of course, icon, legendary news anchor, has died tonight at 93 years old. We have a lot more news to get to tonight and we're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
CAMEROTA: A suspect has been arrested in Pennsylvania in connection with the brutal killings of four University of Idaho students. 28- year-old Bryan Kohberger now facing four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle. They were stabbed in their beds in the middle of the night.
Police say the suspect is a graduate student in criminology at Washington State University. In a chilling social media post, the suspect tried to solicit information from criminals to, quote, understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision- making when committing a crime.
Let's go right to CNN's Veronica Miracle. She is live for us in Moscow, Idaho. How did police get this guy?
VERONIC MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, well, so much information has come out in the last 12 hours, so much that we've learned about Bryan Kohberger. And a source telling Pamela Brown just recently that Bryan Kohberger drove his white Hyundai Elantra, that one that police were looking for from Idaho, all the way across the country to Pennsylvania, to his parent's house, around Christmas time, and that source telling CNN that during that time, police were tracking his cross country drive and they were also surveilling his parents' house. And it was DNA evidence and that car that led them to zero in on Bryan Kohberger.
As you mentioned, a graduate state at Washington State University, which is 20 minutes from here, we were there at his apartment earlier today where the Washington State University Police Department was inside searching on behalf of the Moscow Police Department because they don't have jurisdiction over on the Washington side.
And what is coming next is this Tuesday, Kohberger has an extradition hearing because he is still in Pennsylvania. And the prosecutor here in Latah County saying that if Kohberger decides to fight that extradition, then this could drag out for a long time, and it's also possible that we might not know a lot of details until he is back in the state of Idaho. Because until he returns here, according to state law, that probable cause affidavit that has so much information, cannot be unsealed. If he decides to, on his own free will, come back to Idaho and he is extradited, that will be unsealed and we should know more, including a motive and exactly why this happened. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Okay. Veronica, thank you very much for reporting on the ground there for us.
Let's turn now to Camila Bernal. So, Camila, tell us what you are learning about this suspect and his background. CAMIL BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alisyn. So, we're learning about more about his education. We know that he graduated in May with a masters in criminal justice from DeSales University in Pennsylvania. And as part of the research, you mentioned there was this post on social media where he was asking people to participate. I want to read part of what this research project was asking because it is alarming. He specifically asked to understand how emotions and psychological traits influence decision-making when committing a crime. And this post that has since been deleted also asked in particular that the study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience, so not just his masters on criminal justice but also his PhD on criminal justice.
We learned from Washington officials and the university there that he just finished his first semester as a PhD student. He lived on campus. There was an apartment and an office that the university police searched as part of a search warrant, trying to find more information on what he was doing in Pullman, Washington. This is a city next to Moscow, Idaho. They are connected. There is people that know each other. They go back and forth. This is really one community with a state border right in between. But, really, everyone in both of these cities connected, worried and still wanting a lot more information on this case, especially wanting to know why this was a targeted attack. And, again, we still don't have that information from authorities, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you, Camila, very much. So, we're going to have much more on this suspect coming up and how police found him.
CAMEROTA: We've learned a lot about the suspect in the killings of those Idaho college students, including that he drove across the country to his parents' house for Christmas break, which is where he was arrested at 1:30 this morning. Back with me, we have John Miller, also joining us as former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem.
Andy, about that drive, the FBI tracked him from Washington State driving across in the car that we were all looking for across the country to Pennsylvania and then they surveilled him for four days. That seems like an awfully long time to just keep their eyes on him and a lot of room for error. Possibly. Why did they - why didn't they just arrest him back in Washington State?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Alisyn, you can't arrest someone until you have probable cause until you've convinced the judge that you have probable cause to believe that they committed a crime and then the judge signs an arrest warrant for you to go out and do that arrest. It is likely that during that time period, they were still working on connecting Kohberger to the DNA sample that they had from the crime scene. And during that period, if they already were aware of Kohberger, maybe they'd already associated him with a white car. They would have kept him under surveillance even while he was back in Idaho.
And then of course, while he makes his way across the country, because they think he's probably their best suspect. And they don't want to take their eyes off him for any reason. And not the least of which is because he is - he's potentially a very dangerous person. So, while the team, the investigators are working on building that probable cause, getting ready to go to the judge, getting ready to ask for an arrest warrant. The surveillance team is doing their work.
And tracking someone across the country in a vehicle surveillance. It's very hard. It's like a ballet, it's so tightly coordinated from one place to another. Surveillance teams from different field offices are constantly handing off the subject to each other as he travels along. But it is something that the FBI does incredibly well. They've done it many times before and they obviously did it successfully here.
CAMEROTA: It is remarkable I mean if you've ever tried to follow anybody in a car, you know that it is hard, you can lose them at a red light I mean it's really - it's impressive that they were able to do that.
And so, John, I know you've been working your sources all day. So, they found him using genetic genealogy, meaning like 23 and me, I mean, the kind of sort of family, you know, kits that people use to find lost family members?
JOHN MILLER, FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Well, I think one of the things that you could try in an investigation, let's back up, so our crime occurs in November. By December 7th, they have the information about this white car. Right around Thanksgiving, about 10 days after the murders, they start to get the lab results back that show, we've got DNA from our victims, obviously, we've got DNA from the two kids who live down on the first floor. We've got DNA from some known subjects, but we also have unknown contributors. So, you take the unknown contributors, and you say, all right, I have no one to compare this against right now. But let's see who it relates to. And then when you find one of the people that it relates to, is 15 miles away, and has the same car that you're looking for. Things start to come together.
It may not be precisely that scenario. But that's how a case like this can go from nowhere to closing very quickly. It's because you're doing all the right things, and you're using people the right way. They've got the Moscow Police who are a small department, but they know the town. They know that people, they know the geography, they know who's who. You've got the state police homicide investigators, they know how to do a homicide, and they've got a very sophisticated certified lab.
You've got the FBI who of course, can bring in resources, 20 agents on site, but can run leads across the country, including setting up a surveillance team in a rural area, Pennsylvania to watch a suspect till you can get the probable cause to get that warrant signed.
CAMEROTA: Just incredible police work that brought it all together. So, Juliette, that the background of this suspect what we know about it is, I don't know. I mean, I was going to say fascinating, but also frightening. So, he was studying criminology, he was soliciting information online from criminals, about how they plan their crimes and the emotions they feel before and afterward, we have one of the Reddit posts, that he was claiming he was doing a research study.
So, it says, in particular, this study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with an emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience. It takes on a sinister feel now that we know this.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. That is exactly right. It seems - we keep talking about whether this was a targeted attack. Did he know any of the victims? Was he a stalker of one of the female college students? Did he think that he had a relationship with one of them because of some online interaction. And we will find out more about that, so that the authorities were quite clear. And I think for reasons that are obvious that they are going to keep the information to a minimum to abide by what the peculiar and particular rules are in Idaho until he's in custody in Idaho, then they will release information that will look more like - that will look - that will be an affidavit, we will get the kind of information that we are used to.
So, until then a lot of people are trying to put the pieces together, they want to protect their case, they want to protect what also just there was a death penalty in Idaho could very well be a death penalty case. So, they're just focused on that. But what we're starting to see, at least from his own social media presence and his own media presence, is in your worst sort of interpretation of it is a - a diabolical intent to play out a fantasy of what it is to be a mass murderer and getting information about how to do that.
And this has happened before, and how to successfully murder from others who have done it before. And we don't know if that is as an alternative to him knowing the victims, or as a way for him to go after one or if not all of the victims who he - who he might have known - that is - that is the big question right now, we all want to answer that question because we try to give meaning to these horrors and meaning for the family members.
I mean, that's - they want meaning for it. And to believe that he just planned this out and showed up or stocking some house for a random reason and kills these young adults is - it's all horrific, but it just makes it so evil as well.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. I mean, it's so chilling that we do want to know what caused it. All right, Andy John, Juliette, thank you very much for your expertise tonight.
KAYYEM: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK, now to this, after waiting for years, Trump's tax returns are finally public. We'll tell you what's in them, next.
CAMEROTA: Six years of former President Donald Trump's tax returns are now available for public scrutiny. He fought for years as you know to keep them secret, but today a House Committee released them. And of course, they do raise questions about his finances such as why did he pay little or no federal income taxes in some years?
Here are some examples. In 2016 and 2017, Donald Trump paid only $750. In 2020, the final year of his presidency, he did not pay a dime in federal income taxes. Let's try to get some answers from our experts. We have Catherine Rampell, she's our CNN Economics and Political Commentator and David Cay Johnston is a lecturer at Syracuse University College of Law who's been reporting on Donald Trump's finances for decades.
So, David, this is - this day must be somewhat, I suppose. gratifying to you that finally the public can see what you have been trying to alert us to for years?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, LECTURER, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW: Yes, it's nice after many years of trying to dig through Trump. There are lots of interesting things in these returns--
CAMEROTA: Like what, tell us about what jumped out for you because you're truly the expert on this stuff.
JOHNSTON: Well, he paid more in foreign income taxes than domestic. He has bank accounts in China. And you'll recall he insisted now that's all a lie. There's no bank accounts in China--
CAMEROTA: Let me stop you there for a second, because it's not just China. He also has them in St. Maarten, Ireland and UK, but he also paid taxes in 2017 to China, Panama, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Turkey and India. Go ahead, David.
JOHNSTON: Well, so long as you disclose you have foreign bank accounts per se, that's not a problem. But in Trump's case, we have to be worried about who's putting money in his pocket given his statements that he likes people to put money in his pocket and how that influenced policy.
I also have a column up at DC report, the news organization that I'm publisher of until Sunday when somebody else takes over about how there are 27 sole proprietor tax filings that shows zero revenue, but hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses. Trump did this over his 1984 tax returns, he got caught. There were two trials, judges in both cases found that he committed several tax fraud that put him on notice that showing you have a business or maybe it's an imaginary business, with no revenue, but for what you take the expenses to reduce your taxes is a no, no. That's evidence, very powerful evidence of criminal intent.
CAMEROTA: So, Catherine, do some of these fishy things in his taxes, to your eye show crimes? Or do they show that the IRS was asleep at the switch and not auditing him and that the tax laws allow for some of this, dubious deductions.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, OPINION COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: I think it could very well be all of the above. There's a lot of stuff in the tax code that is scandalous, and yet legal. Just because a person pays very little in taxes does not in and of itself mean that they are breaking the law, there are plenty of legal ways to avoid taxes, rather than evade them. That said, there's still plenty of dodgy material within these tax returns, some of which we knew before, some of which is maybe perhaps new.
In addition to, for example, those suspicious expenses that David just mentioned, there are loans to his kids that look like they might have been gifts, which should have been taxable. There are some dodgy charitable deductions, there are a whole host of things that do look suspicious.
Now, the audits are not complete. So, we can't say for sure whether or not they crossed the line into illegality, of course, but either way, to your question. I do think it's the case that the IRS was asleep at the switch. There were plenty of red flags about Donald Trump's aggressive at the very least tax stances going back decades, as we have heard, they should have been auditing him no matter what. It's within their manual. Of course, it is their own policy to audit the sitting president every year, whether or not there are red flags. And they didn't do it, at least for the first couple of years that Trump was in office. So, the question is why? And we don't know the answer yet.
CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, I think that that is the overarching - one of the overarching questions, but also speaking of his fishy charitable deductions, I just want to put this up, we have to go in a minute. But in 2015, but let me just start at the bottom here. In 2020, Donald Trump made zero charitable deductions. That's obviously the year of the pandemic, when so many people and organizations were struggling. In 2019, he made 500,000 in charitable deductions, 2018, he claimed 500,000; 2017, 1.9 million; 2016, 1.2 million. This one got our attention. In 2015, he claimed 21 million in charitable deductions that seems out of character, let's just say. And it turns out that that's what he did was donated 158 acres of a property he owned called Seven Springs in North Castle. And that's one of the things that the Manhattan district attorney, criminal Investigation is looking into, because he may have overvalued all of that in appraisal--
JOHNSTON: And Alisyn, that's a property he bought the whole thing for 7.5 million, he couldn't develop it. So, if you don't have any development rights, it's hard to imagine how you can come up with a number like that. An excellent example of the kind of things that should be thoroughly investigated.
CAMEROTA: David Cay Johnston, thank you very much for your expertise in this topic. Catherine, thanks so much as well. OK, now to this, a local paper did investigate the Congressman-elect who keeps lying, and this was before the election, but were people just not listening? We're going to speak with the publisher of that paper about what he wishes people had paid attention to.
CAMEROTA: New questions tonight about campaign expenditures by George Santos. The GOP congressman-elect who keeps getting caught in lies. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports there are also questionable payments by the campaign for rent and for exorbitant air travel and hotel expenses. But a lawyer for Santos says all the expenditures are illegal and Any suggestion otherwise is ludicrous.
One local paper on Long Island, the North Shore Leader started reporting on Santos' questionable biography back in September, the owner of that paper Grant Lally joins me now. Grant, thanks so much for being here. I've been looking forward to talking to you because you guys were ahead of the pack. You knew that something fishy was going on with George Santos. You guys wrote about it. And people weren't paying attention. I'm interested in the meeting that you had with him. You met with him, I guess three years ago. And what happened during that meeting? How did he strike you?
GRANT LALLY, PUBLISHER, NORTH SHORE LEADER: Well, I sat down with him almost three years ago. And it was a strange meeting. I could tell he was boasting. He was evasive. I asked him a lot of questions. He was looking for help to run for his first race for Congress. And he came across as very phony and very boastful.
CAMEROTA: Like, what was he telling you? What kinds of things was he trying - what was he trying to convince you of?
LALLY: He was trying to convince me that he was a very wealthy man. And he was 32-years-old at the time that he was very wealthy. And he was very successful, and very sophisticated in finance. And none of the pieces right up front, it didn't sit right. And his references to money and his focus on money really wouldn't be the way someone who really is wealthy would carry themselves.
CAMEROTA: And so, when he--
CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead.
LALLY: And I heard stories, over the months and years that followed, where he would brag to people about mansions that he owned in Oyster Bay or in the Hamptons, that were complete fantasy. But he would - and he would put people down and sell them. I'm going to film - I'm going to do a commercial and he asked a woman to, can I use your house because it's a nice house. He said it's a very average middle class house. I couldn't film it at my mansion. I need your very average house to film in. He literally put people down and boast.
CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean that screams man of the people for a public servant. So, Grant, then your paper started reporting - I mean, when he did launch his campaign, you started reporting on him, but people weren't paying attention and in fact the North Shore Leader ended up endorsing his opponent. I just want to read this I've never seen an endorsement quite like this, so, I just want to read it for everyone.
This newspaper would like to endorse the Republican for U.S. Congress in New York three, but the GOP nominee George Santos is so bizarre, unprincipled and sketchy that we cannot, we endorse Democrat Robert Zimmerman. Santos has been all over the map on abortion and on Ukraine. He brags about his wealth and his mansions in the Hamptons, but he really lives in a row house in Queens. He boasts like an insecure child, but he's most likely just a fabulist, a fake. And did that get enough attention? I mean, why were people you know, buffaloed by this guy.
LALLY: Look, he wasn't supposed to be a serious candidate, and in defense of the local political leadership, I mean, the seat that he was running for was not going to be a competitive seat, it was supposed to - it was originally drawn to be a very safe Democratic seat. And then, in a big upset the New York State Court of Appeals undid the gerrymander, and drew holy districts in just this past June. And he found himself the nominee, in a very competitive district in what turned out to be a very Republican year, particularly on Long Island.
CAMEROTA: That's really interesting context. Well, Grant Lally, you guys make local news. I mean, in print journalism proud and so we really appreciate you coming on and giving us your thoughts and if people had paid better attention, maybe we wouldn't be in this situation tonight. Thanks so much.
LALLY: Thank you, Alisyn. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Sad news tonight. Legendary journalist Barbara Walters dying at the age of 93. Her legacy and the people who knew and loved her, next.