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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Tiny Fraction of Mueller Report Revealed So Far; Did Trump Organization Cook Books?. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired March 28, 2019 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:02]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Sure. We will follow it, Bob Kraft, and as it relates to this Florida spa in Jupiter.

Jennifer Taub, a pleasure. Thank you for that very much.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: And thank you for being with me.

"THE LEAD" starts now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: It's more than 300 pages, and we have only seen about 60 words of it.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Breaking today, new details on the detail that Robert Mueller went into in his report into possible collusion and obstruction. And we have only seen a tiny, tiny fraction of it so far.

Adding extra vines to his vineyards and extra floors to Trump Tower -- a new bombshell report revealing how President Trump's company allegedly may have cooked the books and what investigators could be looking at right now.

Plus, flooded communities facing toxic drinking water danger. Is a health crisis looming for millions of Americans across several states?

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Jake today.

We begin with the politics lead.

Right now, President Trump is about to depart for his first rally since we learned some of Robert Mueller's findings from Attorney General Bill Barr. We now know a little more about the breadth of Mueller's report.

Two Justice Department officials tell CNN it is more than 300 pages' long. So far, we have only seen a few partial quotes. Democrats are intensifying their calls to see the report. Speaker Pelosi even called Barr writing a summary for Congress -- quote -- "arrogant and condescending." And, as CNN's Sara Murray reports, even without the full report, President Trump is ready to go on attack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fight to release special counsel Robert Mueller's full report took a heated turn today.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We don't need you interpreting for us. It was condescending, it was arrogant, and it wasn't the right thing to do.

MURRAY: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi aiming her ire at Attorney General William Barr, who will determine how much of the report will go Congress.

PELOSI: The sooner they can give us the information, the sooner we can all make a judgment about it.

MURRAY: CNN has learned Mueller's confidential report on the Russia investigation stretches more than 300 pages. Barr's four-page summary offers a few details, describing it as divided into two parts.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was an attempted takeover of our government, of our country, an illegal takeover.

MURRAY: President Trump firing back during a phone interview on his favorite network, while also looking to settle scores by taking aim at Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.

TRUMP: Well, Schiff is a bad guy, because he knew he was lying. I mean, he's not a dummy.

MURRAY: Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, under fire for continuing to insist the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion.

MURRAY: This even after the attorney general's letter to Congress quoted Mueller's report as saying: "It did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

TRUMP: In one way, you could say it's a crime, what he did, because he was giving, I mean, horrible -- making horrible statements that he knew were false. And, frankly, I heard they should force him off the committee or off the committee chair. He should be forced out of office. He is a disgrace to our country.

MURRAY: Today, Republicans on Schiff's committee agreed, urging the chairman to step down.

REP. MIKE CONAWAY (R), TEXAS: We have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your constitutional responsibility and urge your immediate resignation.

MURRAY: Schiff hitting back.

SCHIFF: Do I think it's OK that the president himself called on Russia to hack his opponent's e-mails, if they were listening? You might think it's OK that, later that day, in fact, the Russians attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign. I don't think that's OK.

MURRAY: Pelosi defending her Intelligence Committee chairman and turning the attention to the president.

PELOSI: So, what is the president afraid of? Is he afraid of the truth, that he would go after a member, a chairman of a committee, a respected chairman of the committee in the Congress? I think they're just scaredy-cats.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now, getting that full report is sure to be a fight.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler actually spoke to the attorney general on Wednesday evening, and said that Barr will not commit to releasing the full report.

We're also learning today from our colleagues on the Hill, Brianna, that one of the main issues here is the amount of grand jury material in that report, and they're going to have to fight over whether they're going to get a court to agree to make that public -- Bri.

KEILAR: All right, Sara Murray, thank you for that report.

CNN's Manu Raju actually asked Speaker Pelosi a very pointed question today. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you ready to accept that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians?

PELOSI: What I'm ready to do is act for the people with our bill to lower costs for prescription drugs and health care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: In case you weren't sure, Jackie, she did not want to answer that question.

So she answered the one that she wanted to.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, it's an example of what a gift the Trump administer gave to the Democrats this week by refocusing on Obamacare and health care.

[16:05:03] And that's something they want to talk about. That's something that they know that was beneficial to them in the 2018 midterms. So it allows them to pivot off of the Mueller investigation, which is more complicated.

KEILAR: They can't entirely pivot off of it, though. I mean, we haven't seen the report.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's the point, right.

KEILAR: We have seen a few quotes from the report.

BROWNSTEIN: Barely, I mean, the partial quotes.

KEILAR: Partial quotes.

BROWNSTEIN: So that the revelation today that it's at least 300 pages' long, I mean, probably helps explain the poll results that we have seen in the last couple days, both the CNN poll and the CBS poll, that a very small percentage of Americans say this is the end of the story, that the Trump has been cleared of all the questions raised about him, which is a logical response.

And we have a four-page summary of a report that's over 300 pages -- 300 pages, it can't just be, OK, there was nothing here folks, that's it. I mean, there's -- there's got to be obviously a lot of evidence and information on a lot of different questions that people have.

And I think until Americans see all of that, the cloud will not be fully dispelled over the White House.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I'm on board for as much of the Mueller report coming out as humanly possible, partly because we paid for it.

But I'm also happy to talk about this story because it is good news. It's very good news for America that he did not collude with a hostile foreign government to become to president. It's very good news that he was not a foreign asset, that he's the duly elected president of the United States, whether you voted for him or not.

That's good news for the country and our system of government. And I think, look, some people will say you set the bar too low, Mary Katharine, you're very excited that he didn't collude. I didn't set that bar. I think those same people forget how dead certain they were last week that Robert Mueller, the gold standard investigator, after two years of exhaustive investigation, was going to find that these bad and, in fact, treasonous things were true about the president.

But he didn't. And those are the top lines and I look forward to learning more. But, look, I supported this investigation throughout and I'm excited to hear not only the top lines, but the rest of it. But I think there were some who fervently hoped for a different end to this. And I say that based on, throughout this ride, the side-eye, occasional hostility -- hey, Twitter -- that I got from merely expressing uncertainty or caution, or in fact that we should measure our credibility of public servants like even John Brennan, who it turned out wasn't that credible.

We should, of course, measure that against the president, who is not that credible as well, which we have done ad nauseum. But now the good news is the adversaries of the president can go about the business of beating him in an election, if that's what they want to do, which is a more healthy indulgence than the past two years, or the conspiracy theories about this, or they can move on to the next theory, at which point open to evidence once again, but since circumspection and caution has served me well for two years, I will be bringing them to the next conversation as well.

KEILAR: And you mentioned the top lines. The top lines have to do with collusion and obstruction.

And if you trust Bill Barr, and you trust that quote that he pulled, then you believe that the conclusion is -- that's a shut case, right?

HAM: Right.

KEILAR: But when it comes to the obstruction piece, the Mueller report did not exonerate him. He punted to Bill Barr, who made the decision along...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: He may have been punting to Congress, and Bill Barr may have chosen to intervene himself.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: And to that point, Speaker Pelosi said, because Bill Barr did write this four-page summary, Speaker Pelosi said it was condescending and arrogant that he wrote that summary for Congress, maybe if he was punting to Congress instead.

The Judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler, said it's unacceptable that Barr won't commit to making public the full Mueller report. Do you believe that this report is coming out one way or another?

MEHDI HASAN, THE INTERCEPT: It's definitely not coming out in full. It's not coming out anytime soon.

We have seen 64 words out of what we're now being told is a 300-page report. I think the media framing has helped Trump portray it as a victory, because we're told about the Mueller report, as if we have read a Mueller report. Nobody has read a Mueller report. Nancy Pelosi hasn't read a Mueller report. I doubt Donald Trump has read a Mueller report.

But it's interesting.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: We understand he's not a Mueller report.

HASAN: He's now complete exoneration for himself, even though what we know from the Mueller report, it's not -- Mueller specifically said it's not an exoneration. So Trump is already lying. He is going to tell a few more at the rally, I'm sure.

And just to come back to your point, I agree with you that the bar was set to low by his opponents. There's no doubt about that, John Brennan and others putting their eggs in that basket. Having said that, though, when you talk about beating him in a fair election, what Mueller did say is that the Russians interfered in this election.

And Donald Trump told us for the last two years that they didn't. He stood next to Vladimir Putin and said, I trust Putin. Why would he? Why should I not accept his denials? He said it might be a 400-pound hacker on a bed.

How about an apology from Donald Trump for getting that story completely wrong on a Russian attack on U.S. democracy that has now been confirmed by Mueller?

It's funny how with cherry-picking Mueller, depending where we are.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: We have some new reporting, actually.

So this is just in, new details about the call between Jerry Nadler and the attorney general, Bill Barr. One Democratic staffer is telling CNN that the primary obstacle to getting the full Mueller report is that presence of grand jury information that Nadler offered Barr the opportunity to -- I should also say Nadler offered Barr the opportunity to work together to get a court order to release the grand jury information, to work together to get a court order to release the grand jury information.

[16:10:08]

KUCINICH: You're not just going to get -- it's not going to be like the Starr report, in part because the law is different.

Mueller reports to Barr, not to Congress. And I'm sure there are some Democrats out there that might have had second thoughts about releasing the Starr report in full once it dropped, sight unseen.

So this is a long process. The idea that this was going to get done by April 2, which is Monday, I believe, I know Democrats have said that...

KEILAR: Tuesday.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: I only know because I'm off on the 1st. (CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: And so that deadline, while they're saying they want it -- it was a hard deadline, it just -- that was going to be tough anyway.

BROWNSTEIN: The Starr was released, right?

I mean, and the idea -- I mean, if you kind of analogize this, people have said the idea that we would have accepted Janet Reno's four-page summary with 64 words of the Starr report is kind of ludicrous on its face.

And it's not -- if you look at the initial polling, it's pretty clear this is not in the interest of the White House, the way that this is -- yes, he has been able to just to portray it and spin it in the way that he wants.

But the country is not taking...

(CROSSTALK)

HASAN: It's not even the analogy with the Starr report.

Imagine if Mueller had come back saying, yes, he is guilty of a criminal conspiracy. Here are 64 words. Would the Republican sit back and say, we accept Bob Mueller's findings that the president is a criminal without seeing the underlying evidence?

(CROSSTALK)

HASAN: And it's the principle. We get to see the underlying evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Last night on CNN, Congressman Adam Schiff, who is the chair of the House Intel Committee, predicted that Robert Mueller himself is eventually going to testify before Congress.

If that is the case, what would you want to know? What are -- what are your questions for Mueller, especially keeping in mind that there might be a whole lot from the report that we're not going to see?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I mean, look, I mean, the -- I think the biggest question still is the question of the degree to which there was interaction between the campaign and the Russians.

HASAN: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: Adam Schiff today listed a whole series of things that are in the public record Bob Mueller decided that, in his phrase, did not establish, I believe was his exact phrase, a criminal conspiracy.

I think people are going to want to know, above all, I think even more than the obstruction questions, what exactly were the contacts? What -- why did Paul Manafort share polling information with his Ukrainian contact? What was behind this pattern of interaction, which is unlike what we have seen in previous presidential campaigns?

And Adam Schiff today kind of went through the stuff that's in the public record. Now, Mueller reached a pretty -- according to at least Barr, he reached a definitive conclusion about that. But what was -- what was the actual contact and why did it occur?

I think that would be the question.

HASAN: And why did they lie about it again and again?

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: The president's role in all of this, what the president knew, because we don't really get straight answers about that ever, particularly in an on-the-record setting.

So that would be just on every front. OK, what was the president doing here? Where was he here? That would probably take up a lot of my questions.

HAM: But I do want to say, in defense of the summary that Mueller I think very helpfully for everyone pushed back on irresponsible reporting once at BuzzFeed, when they were wrong, and said, hey, this is not correct.

So if Barr were, in fact, mischaracterizing him.

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: I think they know each other fairly well. I think he would say something about it.

But I look forward to I think Mueller probably skewering everybody on the panel anyway.

KEILAR: All right, the building is like 68 stories or 58? His vineyard is 2,000 acres, or is it really 1,200, depending on who you ask?

We're going to have new documents that show just how much President Trump reportedly inflated his net worth.

Plus, why President Trump and one of President Obama's chiefs of staff are agreeing about a story that's grabbing the nation's attention.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:52] KEILAR: In our politics lead, new details about how President Trump possibly inflated his net worth by exaggerating the size and values of certain properties and assets. Among them, a winery in Virginia, a golf course in Southern California and skyscraper in Manhattan, that's according to a new report in "The Washington Post."

I want to bring in CNN's Kara Scannell.

Kara, take us through some of what you're learning here.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna.

So, Michael Cohen, of course, he had testified that Donald Trump inflated his assets on the Hill. Now, he's provided 20 pages of documents for 2011 and 2012. So, "The Washington Post" had really dug into this report and compare it to some documents that are in the public record.

And what they found in 2011, when you think about Trump Tower in New York City, in Trump's financial condition statement he said it was a 68-story bronze glass structure on Fifth Avenue. "The Washington Post" digging found it was actually 58 stories.

The golf course in Los Angeles, they found that the Trump National Golf course, this is in the report, it says it was zoned for 75 homes with unparalleled ocean and golf course views and at June 30th, 2011, there were 55 home sites that were for sale. "The Washington Post" digging found only 31 home sites for sale.

And another example they found looking at the 2012 statement of financial condition, that said that there was a 2,000-acre vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia, that Donald Trump owned. "The Washington Post" found that the vineyard is only 1,200 acres.

And then in 2013, this two-page document says that Donald Trump has a brand value of $4 billion. That number just appeared almost out of thin air. It wasn't in any of the previous financial statements, provided for at least these past few years.

Now, it's not uncommon for there to be some squishiness around valuations but these are pretty black and white figures, and even the accounting firm highlighted a couple of red flags in here. They said this wasn't even audited. This was Donald Trump's determination of what his financial valuations are. And they also said it deviated in a couple of different ways from U.S. accounting standards that they said were significant and pervasive.

And because of that, they said users of this financial statement should recognize that they might reach different conclusions about the financial condition of Donald J. Trump if they had access to a revised from U.S. accounting standards that they said were significant and pervasive.

[16:20:02] And because of that, they said users of this financial statement should recognize that they might reach different conclusions about the financial condition.

Now, the accounting firm has declined to comment. The Trump Organization has declined to comment but this is of interest to a lot of investigators. We've got the House Committee on Oversight has asked for ten years worth of information and communications with the Trump Organization and investigators in New York are also interested in this.

BLITZER: All right. Kara Scannell, thank you for laying that out for us.

So, this all comes as a White House official tells CNN that the Trump administration has no new proposal to replace Obamacare. Sources tell CNN a plan will be introduced to Congress some time this year but they've provided no new specifics or details on timing.

As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, the battle over what to do with Obamacare is dividing the West Wing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wish it didn't take so long.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump isn't putting the Mueller investigation behind him.

TRUMP: It was a cloud. It was a cloud that most people didn't believe, fortunately.

COLLINS: Some allies wish he would focus on it a little more. Instead, he is plunging his party into the perilous health care battle once again.

MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP PENCE: The president will be putting forward plans this year that we hope to introduce into Congress.

COLLINS: But sources tell CNN the White House currently has no plan to replace the Affordable Care Act if a lawsuit overturning it succeeds. That's a lawsuit the Justice Department threw its weight behind this week over the objection of the attorney general.

TRUMP: We're going along with Texas. We're winning the case.

COLLINS: After a bruising defeat in the midterm elections, in part because of health care, Republicans are reluctant to have this fight, while projecting confidence in front of the cameras --

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The president and I are very clear. We believe Obamacare has been a failure to the public.

TRUMP: The GOP is skeptical behind the scenes. One Republican Senate aide telling CNN they are eagerly waiting on the White House's proposal that brings Republicans the consensus that has otherwise eluded us for over a decade. Democrats are eager to exploit the party's tension.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The president wants to go back to repeal and replace again? Make our day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Brianna, even though the White House has no proposal in the works, I'm told you can expect the president to tout it here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is the president's first rally since the Mueller report and, Brianna, we're also expecting another victory lap. KEILAR: And in operatic rally, we should say there in Grand Rapids,

Michigan.

Kaitlan Collins, thank you.

Buttigieg with a nudge. A brand new poll showing us who is on top of the Democratic race and who is pushing their way through a very crowded field.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:27:43] KEILAR: We're back now with our 2020 lead and Democratic voters making it clear they're ready for Joe Biden to enter the race. Twenty-nine percent shows the former vice president is their top choice to take on President Trump in a new Quinnipiac University poll. Then, it's Senator Bernie Sanders and Beto O'Rourke.

But it's South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg who is climbing the ranks, breaking through the top five after a surge in nationwide attention.

And as CNN's Rebecca Buck reports, all of this comes as Senator Cory Booker lays out his top campaign promises on a national stage for the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's no secret that New Jersey Senator Cory Booker wants to kick President Trump out of office. But the 2020 hopeful stopped short of advocating for impeachment.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to commit to you that we are going to beat Donald Trump. We are going to have this nation through the electoral process and him packing from the White House.

BUCK: As for whether Booker could move in to the White House with girlfriend Rosario Dawson.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You said recently that she'd be an incredible first lady.

BOOKER: Well, I want you to know that -- let's not get ahead of us. Right now, she is an incredible girlfriend. I'm very lucky.

BUCK: If Booker or any other Democrat plans to take down Trump, they've got work to do, according to former White House chief adviser Steve Bannon, who told CNN --

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ADVISER: I don't see anybody else in this field taking on Donald Trump. You know, Donald Trump is going to be very tough in this campaign.

BUCK: Senator Amy Klobuchar for one is not getting too comfortable, keeping the pressure on the president today as she announced her $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I put together a plan that is paid for. It's not just a mirage. The president keeps talking about infrastructure but he really hasn't put the money down that you need.

BUCK: She plans to pay for it in part by closing loopholes and increasing the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

KLOBUCHAR: It went all the way down to 21 percent and every point is $100 billion.

BUCK: Meanwhile, Pete Buttigieg is getting more attention from voters. In a new Quinnipiac poll, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor, is on the rise up to 4 percent support, edging out Booker and Klobuchar.

Buttigieg still has not officially jumped into the race, but another mayor is.

WAYNE MESSAM (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's real for me.

BUCK: Miramar, Florida's Wayne Messam now joining the crowded field of 2020 hopefuls.

[16:30:00]