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CNN NEWSROOM

Anti-Trump Groups' Massive Protest; How Rich Is Donald Trump; The Wonder List Premier; Hillary Clinton's Shouting Aired 10:30- 11:00a

Aired March 17, 2016 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00]

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT, DEMOCRACY SPRING SUPPORTER : -- to be very basic, which is democracy itself, that means making sure everyone has equal access to the way w vote. And it means changing the ways we fund the campaigns.

COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So it builds itself as one of the largest civil disobedience actions in a generation.

What do you mean by civil disobedience?

TEACHOUT: Well, I should tell you I was involved in some of the early stages of democracy spring. Since then I've started my run for Congress so on a lot of the details we have to ask the current organizers -- but actually where I come from and why I'm so supportive there are going to be, I think, thousands of people. And again, I don't know the exact numbers now who will be sitting in in Congress saying, this is not a system that I -- that's working.

We got to change the way it's working. But I think the bigger point and the reason it's so important is you can feel left, right, center, totally dropped out of politics, people saying we aren't living in a system where people's voices are equally heard. And, you know, I'm a big student of the founding generation of the people who wrote our constitution and they would never have designed a system that requires candidates to spend all their time raising money.

COSTELLO: No, I hear you. But here's the thing, Trump supporters are saying that this protest, this active civil disobedience is really about Donald Trump, it's not really about campaign finance or money and politics or any of that.

TEACHOUT: It really has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

Last fall when we started talking about it, we were talking about changing the way we fund campaigns. Right now we have a system, I imagine (INAUDIBLE) if they don't Congress members spend 30 percent to 70 percent of their time talking to donors, not doing their jobs, and we see the effects, we see the effects in the economy that is increasingly unequal and doesn't serve people. That's what we were talking about last fall and that's what people are going to be talking about this April.

COSTELLO: OK, we'll see how many turn out. Zephyr Teachout, thanks for joining me this morning.

TEACHOUT: (INAUDIBLE).

COSTELLO: OK. So now I'd like to bring in John Avlon, editor in chief of "The Daily Beast." Good morning, John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Carol.

COSTELLO: Good morning.

So there's this big protest that's supposedly happens in April. Trump supporters say this is really about Donald Trump and these people are going to, like, I don't know, stop traffic or disrupt lives to protest Donald Trump, what do you think?

AVLON: Yes, look -- I mean I think Trump and his professional apologists live in a Trump centered universe, but I don't think protesting big money in politics is the same as protesting Donald Trump. In fact I think, you know, a broken clock being right twice a day, one of the notes that Donald Trump has hit that is populous is about being anger at the system, being rigged at the donor class, and notably saying he liked Bernie Sanders doesn't have a super-PAC. But that may change if there's a (INAUDIBLE) through general election. But, you know, not everything that's a protest action is directed at Donald Trump.

That also said that if you're angry about big money in politics you got to deal with Citizens United. You need to deal with constitutional amendment process. You need to deal with actual legislative and regulatory goals like the FEC which is divided and dysfunctional, the IRS which has been taking a look at a lot of these scam organizations, and professional protest action may be emotionally satisfying but the drum circle is not going to solve the deeper problem.

COSTELLO: Well, here's the thing too. You talk about big money in politics, but isn't there proof this time around that big money in politics didn't really matter? I mean, take a look at Marco Rubio, you know, lobbyist and PACs (ph) spent millions and millions of dollars on his campaign and he lost horribly. Donald Trump is using his own money. Bernie Sanders is getting money from small donors.

AVLON: Yes.

COSTELLO: So we could argue that, yes, there's big money in politics but often it doesn't work.

AVLON: Yes, look, I think this cycle does offer some comfort to people concerned about the disproportionate influence of big money. As you just pointed out Bernie and Trump, nontraditional. And a lot of the people who raised a ton of money, Jeb, Rubio, didn't work. You can't buy love, that's true.

But there is a deeper sense that the system is rigged, it's rigged by super-PACs, the set of structures are screwed up. And that there's not the same kind of (INAUDIBLE) people would like. That's real even if the failure of some big money efforts have gone down. So you know, it's not that we're in an apocalyptic situation but people aren't wrong to be frustrated at the status quo and the sense that the system is rigged.

COSTELLO: OK. So, let's talk about Donald Trump and his riot comment.

You know, Ben Carson came on Erin Burnett's show last night and sort of re-enforced the notion that if it's a contested convention, that there might be violence, we don't know , but there could be, what do you make of that kind of talk?

AVLON: You know, (INAUDIBLE) that kind of dog whistle, whether it's conscious or unconscious is basically functions as a veiled threat.

[10:35:02]

And our democracy is better than that and so frankly should be the Republican Party. You know, that's not the way we play ball here. You know, an awful nice convention you got here, it would be a shame if anything happened to it. I mean, that's just -- you know, thug- like threats. And you know, if Donald Trump is actually going to be the Republican nominee, maybe it's too much to hope that he actually start acting presidential. But maybe he could stop consciously trying to divide and demonize dissenters even in his own party, and his apologists and the press doing the same thing -- I mean, the partisan press.

So you know, now is the time to see if we can actually redeem this election and make it anything more than a mudslinging divisive fest between folks who are trying to capitalize off negative emotions against the other person. This is a mess here and that stuff just -- it's just we're better than this, people.

COSTELLO: John Avlon, thanks for stopping by.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM.

AVLON: Thanks,

COSTELLO: It is no secret Donald Trump is rich, but just how rich is he, anyway?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:40:19]

COSTELLO: I'm really rich. Donald Trump has posted of his wealth more than once during this election session. Trump argues that if he can make a fortune for himself, he can do the same for you.

His campaign claims he's worth some $10 billion. But the GOP front- runner still hasn't released his tax returns. Those billions though are in sharp contrast to the millions of Americans he wants to leave.

According to the Census Bureau the average American household took home just over $53,000 in 2015.

So let's talk about money with CNN money correspondent Cristina Alesci. Good morning.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

So Trump more than any other candidate in modern history, Carol, has really focused on his business success and the fact that he is rich. And the reason why we're focusing on this is because he focuses on it, right? So my producer and I went to the only publicly available information about how rich he really is, which is this 92-page financial disclosure form that all candidates have to file with the Federal Election Commission and we started digging through this document and what we found was that there were more questions than answers. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALESCI (voice-over): It's Donald Trump's pitch to the American people, I've built a fortune for myself and I can do it for the country too.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I built a great, great company. Trump stakes -- where are the stakes? The winery, you see the wine. I have done great and that's the kind of thinking you're going to have to need.

ALESCI: But just how great has Donald Trump done? This 94-page financial disclosure released by the Federal Election Commission may be long, but it's short on specifics.

ROBERT KELNER, PARTNER, CONVINGTON & BURLING: The form doesn't call for a great deal of detail. It allows you to report, for example, ranges of income rather than exact amounts which is a little different than a tax return that you might file with the IRS.

ALESCI: But the government doesn't require Trump to release his tax records. The long disclosure document which candidates must file is the only official window into Trump's wealth. From January 2014 to June of 2015, it shows at least $1.4 billion in assets.

TREVOR POTTER, FORMER FEC CHAIRMAN: It was a somewhat inflated report in the sense that he lists as his assets billions of dollars in good will for the Trump name, I don't know what the marketplace pays for that, but that is unusual for those forms.

ALESCI: It also includes at least $433 million in income, according to our tally and checked by a third party. But it's hard to tell whether that income is actually flowing into Trump's pockets or into his company's coffers.

KELNER: He lists revenues rather than income. He has, for example, his golf courses, golf related revenue, so it makings it a little bit difficult to know, is that just the gross revenue of his golf course or is that actually the income of Donald Trump after you pay for all the expenses of running the golf course? ALESCI: In the end, the distinction may not matter, at least not to the government.

The financial disclosure form is supposed to find potential conflicts of interest, it's not a check on the candidate's math. And Trump's math has always been hard to verify says author, Tim O'Brien. Trump sued him claiming that O'Brien low balled his net worth. The case was dismissed.

TIM O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, TRUMPNATION: Any time he estimates his own net worth he adds in this humongous figure for good will and branding. He says, the Trump brand is worth X many billions. And that's just Donald sitting around eating a cheeseburger saying, I'm worth X billion of dollar.

ALESCI: In July, Trump claimed a net worth of $10 billion, "Forbes" and "Wealth-X" put it closer to 4 billion. We reached out to the Trump campaign but didn't get a comment. Short of an independent audit, all we really know for sure is this --

TRUMP: I'm really rich, I'll show you that in a second.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALESCI: Most people, Carol, know him because of the name on these tall glitzy buildings in New York and around the world. But what was interesting with this financial disclosure document is that we found out that more than half of his income actually comes from golf courses and resorts which is very interesting because it's not the first thing you think of when you think of Donald Trump.

COSTELLO: No. I'm just struggling -- I'm from the Midwest, we're not showy people from the Midwest. What difference does it make if you're worth 10 billion or $4 billion? Like what difference does it make? You're rich.

ALESCI: Yes, I think that is -- I think that's an excellent point but I also think that people want honesty and they want to know, you know, are you, you know, saying what you're really worth?

[10:45:03]

And why do you -- if there are questions around this, why do you have to inflate it? Why is it important to Donald Trump to say that he's worth $10 billion rather than, you know, the 4 billion that are -- that other outlets have estimated?

And what's really interesting is since you're from New York I'm going to -- I'm going to mention this, the fact that there is an ice skating rink here in Central Park, Wollman Rink, many people outside of New York don't know that it's owned by Donald Trump. And we found it in his financial discloser. And he generates about $8 million a year from ice skating -- from an ice skating rink.

COSTELLO: Wow.

ALESCI: So more to come on that.

COSTELLO: (INAUDIBLE). Cristina Alesci, thanks so much.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, traveling to Cuba is getting a whole lot easier, but is the once isolated country ready for a tourism boom? Bill Weir dives in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:50:03]

COSTELLO: On Sunday, President Obama will make a historic visit to Cuba. The president has already sent this letter to a 76-year-old Cuban woman ahead of his trip, it was stamped and mailed off -- it was stamped and mailed off in the first batch of direct mail sent to the country in 50 years. The woman had written Obama about how excited she is for his visit. But as the diplomatic doors carefully open Cuba is bracing for a rush of tourists and that could come at a cost, especially for marine life.

In a special episode of "THE WONDER LIST." Bill Weir takes a deeper look inside Cuba.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN HOST: Fish -- no politics, right?

DR. ERIK GARCIA-MACHADO, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF HAVANA: Exactly, exactly. They don't have borders.

WEIR: No border.

FERNANDO BRETOS, CURATOR, FROST MUSEUM OF SCIENCE: Yes, it goes beyond fish. It's migratory birds. It's even manatees.

MARCHADO: Exactly, manatees.

DR. JESSY CASTELLANOS-GELL, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF HAVANA: Sharks...

MARCHADO: Dolphins.

GELL: ... turtles, dolphins.

BRETOS: (INAUDIBLE) that are passive migrators.

WEIR: It's a nice office.

MACHADO: Yes, exactly.

WEIR (voice-over): Jessy and Erik are Cuban marine biologists. Fernando is a Cuban-American devoted to using science to trump ideology. He used Castro's love of marine life to open a dialogue years before the politicians, so he credits manatee diplomacy with the change in cold war tone. BRETOS: I think, we have a lot to do with that, our science diplomacy, breaking down barriers. From my perspective -- I'm a Florida resident, so my work here in Cuba is selfish as (ph) well (ph) --

(CROSSTALK)

WEIR: You're downstream.

BRETOS: I'm downstream.

So whatever happens if Cuban reefs aren't well protected, if we lose this crown jewel of the Caribbean...

MACHADO: Exactly.

BRETOS: ... Florida suffers, the Gulf of Mexico suffers, New Jersey suffers.

WEIR (voice-over): Florida is just 90 miles away, but reefs this healthy are impossible to find there anymore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: All right. The man with probably the best job at CNN (INAUDIBLE) Bill (ph) Weir (ph), welcome.

WEIR: Thanks, Carol.

COSTELLO: So let's talk about those beautiful reefs.

WEIR: Yes.

COSTELLO: (INAUDIBLE) it was going to be opened up to tourism and --

WEIR: Yes.

To give you a staggering statistic, Cuba and Florida, about the same size, Cuba gets right now about 2 million visitors a year, Florida 90 million. So as those Gates open, the rush of people and bring in sunscreen and fertilizer, and all the things -- all the chemicals that we use here don't exist there. It's like a time warp obviously and so they're worried. They're worried about that. But they know that tourism is going to improve lives, they hope it's going to improve lives. So finding that balance.

Now what's interesting is the CIA once conspired to kill Castro with exploding seashells or a poisoned wet suit, because he was a scuba diver.

COSTELLO: Oh my God (ph).

WEIR: But it turns out that marine life as Fernando said there, was one path to open this door.

COSTELLO: I have to ask you about Cuban cigars... WEIR: Yes.

COSTELLO: ... because that's what everybody asks me about. Will we be able to buy Cuban cigars soon?

WEIR: I think so. There's a limit now. I think you can but it's so ambiguous as to how many you can bring back. But yes, you don't have to sneak them in your laundry as you get back. You can buy them.

But we actually went to the Vinales region, sort of the Napa or the Bordeaux of cigar leaf and it was beautiful. You get out of Havana, it is so gorgeous. And I said to this guy, hey, we could open like a cigar tasting business right here. You could have people smoke your cigars...

COSTELLO: That's right.

WEIR: ... in the field where it's -- the gentleman is living under socialism -- communism for so long it never even occurred to him. He said, yes, come on down

(CROSSTALK)

WEIR: You can say in my house for free. No, that's not how it works, you got to make some money. But the place blew my mind. Went (ph) down (ph) there (ph) there with American preconceived notions, blew my mind.

COSTELLO: I just hope that -- I just hope that Cuba remains as beautiful as it is today.

WEIR: They do too.

COSTELLO: A lot of people hope that.

WEIR: They do too.

COTELLO: Bill Weir, thanks so much. And the season premiere of "THE WONDER LIST" airs right here on CNN this Sunday, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. You do not want to miss it.

I'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:58:10]

COSTELLO: Critiques of Hillary Clinton's manners (ph) is (ph) to (ph) make her supporters want to shout. Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's used to getting shout outs. As well as shouting at her audience.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Florida! MOOS: Shouting everything from her gratitude to her website.

CLINTON: HillaryClinton.com.

MOOS: But between her hoarse voice and her volume, critics covered their ears, Hillary shouted her speech, tweeted media critique, Howard Kurtz. "What's she mad at," wondered Fox's Brit Hume.

Last month journalist Bob Woodward declared.

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: She shouts. There's something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating.

MOOS: But when Joe Scarborough advised, "Smile. You just had a big night," he got an earful from supporters crying sexist.

Comedian Kate Spencer tweeted a photo with fangs captioned, "Me when Joe tells women to smile." The hashtag #smileforjoe inspired women to post their unsmiling faces.

The liberal political blog "Wonkette" asked, "You want to see a smile, here's a smile. Oh, you want a bigger smile, here's a bigger smile." And in a cameo on the show "Broad City" Wednesday, well, you don't get smiles much bigger than this.

The male candidates sure aren't above raising their voices.

TRUMP: And then as soon as we left, they knocked the (EXPLETIVE) out of everybody.

CLINTON: You know --

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Excuse me, I'm talking.

TRUMP: No, no, no. No, no, no --

(CROSSTALK)

MOOS: Hillary herself is aware of the shouting critique.

CLINTON: I'm always being told that when I talk to you I should talk in a very calm...

MOOS: And sometimes she catches herself --

[11:00:00]

CLINTON: And above all -- above all.