Return to Transcripts main page


Former Reporter Lied to by Donald Trump to Get on Forbes 400 List; Giuliani Joins Trump's Legal Team; Cohen Criminal Probe; Two Florida Deputies Killed; Parkland Students Hold Walkout. Aired 9:30- 10a ET

Aired April 20, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:31:18] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new this morning, a former reporter for "Forbes" magazine, he claims he was lied to and tricked by Donald Trump to get on the magazine's yearly list of richest Americans. His proof is rediscovered audiotapes of Donald Trump apparently posing as his secret alter ego, vice president of finance, John Barron. In other words, he claimed he was someone else on the telephone.

Joining me now, senior national correspondent, Alex Marquardt.

This is really crazy.


And this report from Jonathan Greenberg, who was the "Forbes" reporter at the time. He really eviscerates Trump's claims of wealth over the years, how much property he said, the value of that property. And it goes back to 1982 when "Forbes" was putting out the first edition of their richest people in America, the first 400 -- the richest 400. Trump, obviously, wanted to be on this list. And so he contacted Greenberg and said that his family was worth some $900 million, so he deserved to be high on the list.

"Forbes" eventually decided he was worth around $100 million and then Greenberg says he later discovered that Trump was worth only $5 million, which, of course, is nothing to sniff at, but is far lower than Trump would want you to believe.

Fast forward two years later. "Forbes" was putting out their third edition of their magazine and Greenberg got a call from John Barron, who was encouraging him to put Trump higher on the list. Take a listen.


JOHN BARRON: Most of the assets have been consolidated to Mr. Trump, you know, because you have down Fred Trump, and I'd like to talk to you off the record, if I can, just to make your thing easier.



BARRON: All right. But I think you can really use Donald Trump now and you can just consolidate it. I think last year somebody showed me the article on it. I think you had 200 and 200 and really it's been pretty well consolidated now for the most part, as -- as I also think somebody had mentioned that you had asked about that or somebody had, and it's been pretty well consolidated, OK?


MARQUARDT: All right, so that, of course, sounds a lot like -- like Mr. Trump.


And what he's saying in that -- in that -- in that clip was that he wants -- he -- that most of his father's assets were, in fact, his. So he, in fact, deserves to be higher.

Of course we know that Trump has been accused of using this name over the years. In fact, in 2016, when he was running for office -- running for the presidency, he admitted to Jimmy Kimmel that -- that he has used this alias Barron and we know that he has an affinity for the name because that's what he named his fifth child, his son.

Now, Greenberg says that it took him 35 years to realize that he had been conned and he has some pretty harsh words for Donald Trump, which he -- and he spoke to "NEW DAY" this morning. Let's listen to that.


JONATHAN GREENBERG, FORMER "FORBES" REPORTER: He is a consummate con man. He understood what I was doing, you know, going around the country, asking people, and asking them, and he figured out what he had to do in order to deceive me and get onto that list. And he did it very well. And he maintained that persona of just sort of talking about his assets without any sense of debt and lying about it.


MARQUARDT: Now, Trump, of course, during the campaign, claimed that he was worth some $10 billion. We have no proof of that because he has not released his tax returns.

John, we have reached out to both the Trump organization and the White House. We have not yet heard back.

BERMAN: Interesting quote there, Jonathan Greenberg, Donald Trump lied about who he was and lied about how much he was worth.

MARQUARDT: By a substantial amount.

BERMAN: Alex, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

MARQUARDT: Thanks. BERMAN: So, Rudy Giuliani, no known aliases, has finally landed a job with the president as a liaison to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Our Abby Phillip standing by in Florida with the latest on this.



Rudy Giuliani, one of the president's outside advisers and someone who he talks to fairly regularly is joining the legal team he confirmed this week. Now, this latest edition comes after a slew of departures and false starts when it comes to the president and his lawyers, but it also represents perhaps a change of strategy here. Giuliani says that he's joining the team in part to help bring this Mueller investigation to a more rapid close and he's going to start by asking the special counsel what they want in terms of documents and trying to provide them to them as soon as possible.

[09:35:15] Now, Giuliani is not just the former New York mayor, but he's also a former U.S. attorney and says that he knows Robert Mueller personally. He told CNN that he believed that Mueller is really the best that they could do in this scenario and he characterized him as fair. Now, that is a far cry from what we've heard from President Trump, who, in the past, has said that Mueller has all kinds of conflicts and has called the investigation on its face a witch hunt.

But as Giuliani joins this team, he says his role is going to be fairly limited. But the president is also kind of in dire straits when it comes to stacking his legal team. John Dowd left the legal team a few weeks ago. He's also this week adding two more lawyers, two Florida white collar lawyers, to his team. He has Ty Cobb in the White House and Jay Sekulow as well.

But -- so the president is trying to get as much firepower as he can, especially now that he is also dealing with this matter involving his personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

BERMAN: And on the subject of Michael Cohen, CNN learned, Abby, that the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, told the president he wasn't a target in that investigation, correct?

PHILLIP: That's right. We've learned that in this meeting, Rosenstein told Trump he wasn't the target. Now, of course, that can always change. But that was, at least to the president, something of a relief considering how much this Cohen matter has really preoccupied him.

You know, sources have told CNN this week that the Cohen issue is perceived as being a kind of -- by far a bigger problem for Trump than even the special counsel investigation, in part because of the role that Cohen played in the president's business and personal matters. But the fact that Rosenstein is saying, this isn't about you directly, President Trump, is something that might change the dynamics around whether or not the president decides to do anything to fire Rosenstein or others around both the special counsel investigation and the investigation into Michael Cohen. BERMAN: All right, Abby Philip, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Back with me now, Phil Mudd and Caroline Polisi.

Caroline, you know, Rudy Giuliani was a U.S. attorney here, you know, an accomplished prosecutor, but he hasn't tried a case --


BERMAN: In 20, 30 years. So what do you make of this decision?

POLISI: Look, I think he's a big name, big personality, obviously great legal mind, former, you know, United States attorney for the southern district of New York, which is now prosecuting the Michael Cohen investigation. I think that's an interesting issue.

But, look, he's living in a complete dream world if he thinks, as has been reported, that he's going to wrap up this case in a couple of weeks. He's not a magician, OK. He's a great -- he's a great attorney, but, no, he's not a magician. That is the most ludicrous thing I've really ever heard.

You know, federal criminal investigations move as a glacial pace. And by all accounts this one has been moving at a break-neck pace. We have, you know, indictment -- active indictments with Paul Manafort going on, guilty pleas already. This is really moving along. SO the idea that he's just going to come in here and wrap this all up is ridiculous.

BERMAN: And, Phil, it seems like he's trying to leverage his past relationship with Robert Mueller. He's going to walk in and say, hey, you know, Bob, remember how we worked together? Let's figure out a way to reach a conclusion on this pretty quickly.

Based on your experience working with Robert Mueller, do you think that will be effective?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Absolutely ridiculous. That is not why he's coming on. He's not coming on to work with Robert Mueller and he's not coming on to the legal team.

Look, he's got a couple of characteristics. He's got a face that's recognizable to Americans. He's got a long-time history with Donald Trump, including serving as his -- one of his surrogates during the campaign. And maybe most significant, when you go low, he'll go lower. The man is willing to dish dirt. He's coming on to be a surrogate for Trump, I believe, to trash Robert Mueller, to trash the investigation and to cooperate with the president and trying to undermine the Department of Justice and the FBI as they try to -- as they try to continue the investigation.

I think Miss Polisi is absolutely right. I hope if I ever get in trouble, she represents me.

Look, the -- you think he's going to walk in the room with Robert Mueller and say, you know, why don't you guys kind of just wrap up this federal investigation at a pace that I think is appropriate. That's never going to happen. And Mueller's never going to listen to that. This guy is a junkyard dog and that's why he's on the team, ending of story.

BERMAN: I will say that up until this point, as far as I can tell, he's been careful about what he says specifically about Robert Mueller. And he has spoken about Mueller specifically in fairly glowing terms.

You know, Caroline, who will represent Phil no doubt, quickly, as far as I can tell, Phil Mudd is probably in need of representation.


BERMAN: The fact that the president was told that he's not a target in the Cohen investigation --

POLISI: Meaningless.

BERMAN: Well, it's better than being a target.

POLISI: It's better than being a target, but, you know, in my line of work, as a criminal defense attorney, these distinctions, subject- target, target-witness, and especially target-subject distinction are without a difference. Really they are on the ground assessments at the time and the fact is it can change with the drop of a hat. So, you know, I wouldn't be popping the champagne bottles if I were President Trump at this moment. I think it means nothing.

[09:40:17] BERMAN: Phil, I wanted to get your take on the John Barron tapes, just because. I want to know what you think when you listen back to these tapes of Donald Trump back in the 1980s on the phone purporting to be somebody else talking about his money, according to this reporter, in false ways.

MUDD: Come on, who's the -- what's the surprise here? The president during the campaign built an image as he was trying to build an image back then by claiming that Barack Obama wasn't an American and the president himself was a representation of true Americans. He then went on to say, I'm one of the best presidents ever in terms of the inauguration. Sean Spicer told us that was a lie from day one. The president tried to portray himself as a victim of the deep state by saying that his offices, his Trump Tower was wiretapped by the feds. A complete lie.

The only thing that's changed in the last 30 or 40 years is not the dog. The dog doesn't change his spots. It's the fact that now the president has Twitter and social media to continue to portray an image every day as a victim of the deep state and as a representation of America. The guy hasn't changed since those days.

BERMAN: Phil Mudd, Caroline Polisi, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

MUDD: Thank you. BERMAN: All right, there is now a criminal investigation underway in

Florida after two deputies were murdered in broad daylight. We have a live update from the scene, ahead.


[09:45:34] BERMAN: This morning, investigators are searching for a motive after two Florida deputies were shot and killed in an ambush- style attack. Deputies Noel Ramirez and Taylor Lindsey were eating at a restaurant when a lone gunman walked up to a window and fired two shots directly at them without warning. The gunman was found dead outside the restaurant. Officials say the incident is under active criminal investigation.

Our Nick Valencia outside the restaurant.

And, Nick, I understand you just got new details from an eyewitness?


The scene still here in Trenton, Florida, is still very fresh. Peering inside this window here, the Chinese restaurant where the two deputies were shot and killed, the Styrofoam cups that they were using to drink out of while having lunch are still sitting on the table. There's blood still on the ground there inside.

I just spoke to an eyewitness at a business here shortly -- well, directly across the street, I should say. She didn't want to be identified, but she said that she saw the gunman after he fired those fatal shots and said he wasn't in a hurry. He wasn't in a rush. He actually was peering inside the sheriff's deputy vehicle and then made his way behind the business. Reportedly that's where he shot and killed himself. Deputies found him inside a car with what they say was a gunshot wound.

It is still a very emotional scene here. The community here is caught off guard because it's just such a small place. In fact, it was an emotional press conference yesterday by the Gilchrist County sheriff who said that these two officers were the best of the best. He didn't go into detail about what could have been the motive, but suggested that what could have played a part is the demonization of law enforcement in America.


SHERIFF ROBERT SCHULTZ, GILCHRIST COUNTY, FLORIDA, SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Sergeant Ramirez and Deputy Lindsey were the best of the best. They were men of integrity, they were men of loyalty, they were God-fearing and they loved what they did and we're very proud of them.


VALENCIA: The Gilchrist County sheriff refused to give more details about the shooter, just calling him a coward. He said the focus should be on the heroes, these two deputies. Noel Ramirez, 30-years old, a seven-year veteran of law enforcement, and Taylor Lindsey, 25, who had more than three years of law enforcement experience. The FDLE, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, will be the lead investigating this case.


BERMAN: How awful.

Nick Valencia for us in Florida.

Nick, thank you very much.

Moments from now, students at thousands of schools across the country, they will walk out of class on the same morning we are learning about a new school shooting. Stay with us.


[09:52:30] BERMAN: All right, we do have breaking news.

One student has been injured after a new school shooting at a Florida high school. We know that the student was shot in the ankle. The shooter is in custody. This is in Ocala, right now. I believe it's called the Forest Hills High School. Students are being led to a church nearby that school to be reunited with their parents.

And this shooting comes just minutes before students across the country are expected to walk out of their schools to rally for more gun control. A rally to try to prevent just the kind of shooting that happened earlier this morning.

Our Dianne Gallagher joins us now from Parkland, Florida.

Dianne, I understand the students are scheduled to begin their walkout basically right now.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's sort of the plan right now, John. We should be starting to see students leave the campus here at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School within the next few minutes. The plan was for them to leave at 9:50 a.m. They're going to walk to an area and then have a moment of silence for about a minute at 10:00 a.m., thinking about gun violence victims. And they're going to add 13 seconds at the end of that to remember those 13 who were killed 19 years ago today at Columbine.

Now, this is a little different than the walkouts of the past. This is called a National School Walkout. There's about 2,500 schools that have -- students who have signed up across the nation saying they're going to participate in this. They chose this day. It was a student in Connecticut said, after the shooting here two months ago, she felt like she wanted to do something. She used the Columbine anniversary as that date.

But in Colorado, at Columbine, they usually mark this day by not going to school and by choosing to operate as a day of service. The principal, who was the principal at the time of that shooting, sort of sent out some messages to the school saying, hey, guys, we don't want this to just to be a walkout, a political statement or anything like that. Please do some kind of service, if you will, if you need to walk out. So that's also going to be offered at the school for those students who kind of want to respect those wishes, they don't want to walk out.

I've talked to a lot of these kids here at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, John. They tell me they feel a bit conflicted. They want to respect Columbine, they want to respect their wishes, but they also want to continue this movement. We've seen so much going on with this Never Again movement. So I'm not sure what we're going to see in the next couple of minutes coming out here. Their teachers were out this morning supporting them before school, John, protesting as well, saying we've got to end gun violence.

BERMAN: We will watch very closely, Dianne, as it develops over the next several minutes. We're also going to bring new updates on that new school shooting in a different part of Florida.

Thanks very much, Dianne.

[09:55:02] James Comey in his own words. The memos with Donald Trump on everything from Michael Flynn to Russian hookers. We're following it all.


BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. John Berman here.

We are following breaking news out of Florida where one student has been injured after a new shooting at a high school. These details are still coming in. But we know the student was shot in the ankle. This happened in Ocala, Florida. The shooter is in custody. Right now students are being led to a nearby church to meet their parents.

[10:00:06] The shooting happened just minutes before students across the country were expected to walk out of their classrooms, rally for new gun control laws.