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New York Attorney General Sues Trump Foundation; Interview with South Korean Foreign Minister. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 14, 2018 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, my exclusive interview with Barbara Underwood, the woman suing President Trump and his children over

their family charity and her extraordinary rise to the top as New York's first female attorney general.

Plus, my conversation with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. She says President Trump has opened a new peaceful chapter for the Korean


Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The US president's legal troubles are mounting; and this time, it is personal. The New York attorney general, Barbara Underwood, my guest

tonight, is suing Mr. Trump's charitable family foundation with serious allegations including the illegal use of those funds for his presidential

campaign and for settling his personal accounts.

First, though, a quick reminder of Underwood's rise. Her former boss, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was a bombshell casualty of the Me

Too era, accused by former female partners of shocking domestic violence.

He denied the charges published in "The New Yorker", but still he resigned within hours. Barbara Underwood took his place. And she has a stellar

record. A clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. First in her class at Georgetown Law School.

And now, she's running New York's top law enforcement office, which has proven to be a major legal counterweight to some of President Trump's

policies, for instance, on immigration, the environment.

And today, as news of the lawsuit against Mr. Trump became public, Barbara Underwood joined me from New York for this exclusive interview.

Attorney General Underwood, welcome to the program.

BARBARA UNDERWOOD: I'm very glad to be here.

AMANPOUR: So, firstly, congratulations. You are the first female attorney general of New York State and we will get more into that.

But your first big case, which you're now announcing right now today, is an investigation into the Trump Foundation, into Donald Trump himself and

indeed all three of his children. What exactly are you alleging and what has happened in this case?

UNDERWOOD: What we are alleging is that this Trump Foundation violated a number of laws of the State of New York that govern the way a foundation, a

non-profit corporation is required to govern itself and that - those were procedural violations - and that the money of that foundation was

distributed for impermissible purposes - personal purposes, business purposes, political campaign purposes rather than for the charitable

purposes that the foundation was established to perform.

AMANPOUR: Can you give us particular details and how much money are we talking about?

UNDERWOOD: I think $2.8 million that were spent for - that we allege were spent for improper purposes of the type I've just described. And then,

there are penalties under the statute as well.

So, what we're asking for is the return of - the restitution of the money that was improperly spent and then penalties for violating the law and, of

course, the dissolution of the corporation and the distribution of whatever assets it may still have.

AMANPOUR: So, basically, what you want to see is the dissolution of the Trump Foundation, is that correct?

UNDERWOOD: That's correct. That's correct.

AMANPOUR: How unprecedented is this, attorney general, for a sitting president to be petitioned in this regard?

UNDERWOOD: Well, I think what I want to say is it's not at all unprecedented for a non-profit corporation, for a charitable foundation to

be held to account for these violations. It is not.

I'm unaware of a case in which the foundation involved was run by a sitting president, but there's no reason why a foundation owned and operated by a

sitting president should be exempt from the laws that we routinely apply to other foundations.

AMANPOUR: And how long have you been investigating or has the attorney general's office been investigating this?

UNDERWOOD: About two years.

AMANPOUR: And in the release that you've made, these allegations - or you describe it as this foundation being used as a personal checkbook for

matters that the law does not allow a foundation to be used.

[14:05:09] UNDERWOOD: That's right. It paid the business and personal obligations of various Trump enterprises and its assets were used for

supporting, promoting the presidential campaign. Neither of those is a permissible purpose for a charitable foundation.

AMANPOUR: And I wonder if you have your notes there. You could maybe just refer to them and tell me exactly what political bit of this you're talking

about. Was it a debt he owed? Was it to - I don't know. How did he allegedly use this money during the campaign?

UNDERWOOD: Just before the Iowa caucuses, the campaign directed - the campaign coordinated with the foundation to direct the disbursement of

money to Iowa charities and to take - to give the campaign credit for the distributions that were being made.

And there are, I believe, attached to our complaint, photographs that show that when the campaign - when the foundation was distributing money, it was

basically attributed to the campaign.

AMANPOUR: And just so we're clear, again, extensive self-dealing to further Trump's business interests like paying off a Mar-a-Lago debt.

That's one of the allegations, correct?

UNDERWOOD: That's right. That's correct. That's right. His businesses, I believe there are various legal obligations of his enterprises promoting

his hotels, I believe, there are series of non-charitable purposes to which these run through.

AMANPOUR: And you just referred and explained illegal coordination between the campaign and the foundation around the Iowa caucuses, is what you what

you allege.

There are apparently emails including from Corey Lewandowski, who was one of his key aides during the campaign, and you also allege other

mismanagement issues, Trump making all the decisions himself without proper management structure.

UNDERWOOD: Right. The proper management structure is what I was referring to earlier when I said there are procedures about the way a board of a

foundation is supposed to operate and the principals and the decisions that are made to distribute money from the foundation.

AMANPOUR: And Attorney General Underwood, are you going to seek to depose Mr. Trump?

UNDERWOOD: I don't think that will be necessary, but I really can't - it wouldn't be appropriate, I think, at this point to discuss the details of

where this is going. We have filed a complaint - a petition. We've made allegations. We believe we've got undisputed facts here that will justify

the relief we're seeking.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Trump has tweeted a response. Here we go. "The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced and run out of town A.G. Eric

Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in,

$19,200,000. I won't settle this case!"

What do you make of that? What's your reaction?

UNDERWOOD: Well, there are several points that are made there. This is not either a sleazy or a political action nor was it brought by Mr.


This is a straightforward case of violation of the laws governing charitable foundations and non-profit corporations in New York.

AMANPOUR: So, you're saying it was not brought by Mr. Schneiderman, but the tweet goes on to say, "Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in

New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in

disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle."

UNDERWOOD: We brought this case when we were confident that we had the evidence and the legal arguments to back it up. And it was not - it

obviously was not settled.

AMANPOUR: This is a big first case to take on. Are you prepared for the slings and arrows that are going to come your way?

UNDERWOOD: I hope so. I think so. I mean, I have spent decades doing, trying to apply the law without fear or favor. I've never been interested

in either exempting somebody from the law because of their political position or enforcing the law especially against them because of their

political position. There is no reason why I would do anything differently.

[14:10:10] AMANPOUR: Let me just read to you what '"The New York Times"' said when you took office in May. "Despite a life of first, first in her

law school class, the first woman to serve as the nation's solicitor general and now the first to serve as New York state's attorney general,

Barbara Underwood has spent most of her career as a number two."

So, I guess, how does it feel to be number one?

UNDERWOOD: Feels fine. I could ask the same of you, I suppose.

AMANPOUR: No, no, no, no, no. Not of me now. This is all about you today and about the law and about women in the law.

So, tell me, what do you think, as a woman, you bring to the law that perhaps men don't have similar sensibilities.

UNDERWOOD: I have spent a large part of my professional career starting when I was working for Thurgood Marshall, attacking discrimination of

various kinds.

And it was always important to him, and it is to me, to understand two things that when you exclude a group from decision-making, you lose

something important, and yet it is not true that all members of that group see the world the same way.

So, it's a little bit hard to specify exactly what I bring. I bring a life experience that's a little different.

One person that I worked for said that he wanted me to be his second-in- command because we disagreed so well. And I've always liked that compliment. I think that he valued that I would disagree with him and that

we would find a good and congenial way to resolve the disagreements.

AMANPOUR: That is really refreshing to hear in this day and age, I must say.

You join an illustrious, but somewhat troubled recent group of attorney generals of New York State. Were you surprised by the allegations of

domestic abuse that were brought against Schneiderman and over-drinking and indulging and the kind of physical violence that he has alleged to have

meted out to the women in his life, to some of the women in his life.

UNDERWOOD: I was stunned. And everybody that I have spoken to about this in the office was stunned. We had no knowledge, no clue, no reason to

believe or suspect anything of the sort.

But we have moved forward. I have felt that the most important thing - the most important part of my mission at the beginning a month ago was to turn

everybody's attention forward, rather than back.

We have a lot of wonderful, important work to do and very talented people working on it. And I wanted to make sure that everybody felt supported and

encouraged to keep going.

AMANPOUR: Why are you not seeking this as a permanent elected office? Why is it that - you have said that you would only stay until others can

contest for this job?

UNDERWOOD: Running for office during this period would make it impossible to do the job that I am doing. I think there are competing demands on a

person's time and attention. And I felt that the very important job that I wanted to do immediately was to bring the office together to keep going


I have also said that I would be happy to help anybody who - help the next attorney general if they want my help.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to push you a little bit on that because many of the laments about why there aren't enough women in these top positions,

particularly in elected office, as is the attorney general office - we need you in the arena and if you don't get into the arena, there won't be more

women in these leading positions.

Are you sure you won't reconsider? I mean, if it was the guy, he'd still be doing the prosecuting and the investigating and he'd still be running

for office?

UNDERWOOD: I'm sure that running for office is not where my talents lie and my interests and that I can be most useful to the people of the State

of New York and maybe beyond the state of New York doing what I'm doing now.

AMANPOUR: Attorney General Barbara Underwood, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for giving us your very first interview, and

particularly on this rather important day. Thanks very much.

UNDERWOOD: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Now, another majorly important issue for President Trump is to take this Singapore Summit with Kim Jong-un further, but meantime just for

a moment look at this.

North Korean state media is having a field day with this stunning footage of President Trump returning the salute of North Korea's top general and

defense secretary during his summit with Kim Jong-un.

Let's not forget that, back in 2012, Trump called then President Obama an amateur for dipping his head to the Saudi King.

[14:15:07] Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was briefing regional leaders in Seoul and Beijing on the summit and reaffirmed sanctions relief

only would happen when North Korea is completely denuclearized.

He claims the Chinese President Xi Jinping is on board despite Beijing suggesting loosening those sanctions just after the summit ended.

But the debate over what the US actually got out of the summit with the North Korean dictator continues. Many paint his order, Trump's order, to

hold joint military exercises with South Korea as a significant concession to Kim in return for just vague promises of denuclearization.

So, I put all of this to the South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha when she joined me for an interview from Seoul right after her meeting with

Mike Pompeo.

Foreign Minister Kang, welcome back to the program.

KANG KYUNG-WHA, SOUTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you, Christiane. It's good to be with you again.

AMANPOUR: So, we have spoken several times. We've spoken before the summit. Can you, in broad terms, tell me how safe do you feel today?

KYUNG-WHA: Well, I think we're feeling pretty good. I think the summit and the outcome in the larger scheme of things, if you look at it from the

seven decades' history on the Korean Peninsula, this is truly historic. It is a huge turning point.

And I think we're deeply grateful for this to Mr. Trump, the president, my counterpart, Mr. Pompeo, and, of course, all of us who have worked towards

the meeting and its outcome.

AMANPOUR: So, I want to push you on the statements by President Trump. Let me just read you a tweet that he made as he handed after the summit.

"Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.

Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!"

And, of course, we do remember that he said it has potential in terms of real estate. But I want you to tell me, North Korea is no longer a nuclear

threat. Is that what you believe?

KYUNG-WHA: Well, I think the fact is that they still have the nuclear capabilities, but I think what he is saying is that we have made a huge

step forward, huge strides towards eliminating that threat. So, yes, we are well on our way.

But the hard work of actually eliminating that lies before us.

AMANPOUR: But, foreign minister, isn't that the point? It wasn't so long ago that Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump were trading massive insults, also

trading insults and threats between North and South Korea.

And I think everybody who witnessed the historic handshake between Trump and Kim realize the precedent-setting nature of that.

But what is the substance to back up those warm words and that handshake? What is the substance that you can take to the bank? What has to happen


KYUNG-WHA: Well, I think the substance lies in the discussion among the leaders themselves, both at the US-North Korea level and also at the South

Korea-North Korean level, which has happened twice already, as Mr. Trump has said in his press conference about the further commitments by the

chairman himself to eliminate a missile engine testing facility.

We'll see what that actually means further as we study this.

AMANPOUR: Foreign minister, it's very rare to hear this kind of assessment compared to the past. We have all been told to look out for concrete

action, not just empty or unsubstantiated promises.

President Trump told us that after they had signed the declaration that the North Koreans had pledge to - I don't know - destroy or whatever this

engine testing site.

Your own military and intelligence have said that up until now, we have not observed any special movement there. There are areas that South Korea and

the US are surveilling with interest, but no special movement.

And so, I put it to you that it is the intercontinental ballistic missile capability that changed the equation about the threat from North Korea.

What do you need to see to make sure this threat is over?

Everybody knew they had weapons. It was the intercontinental ballistic missile capability that changed the threat. What do you need to see next?

KYUNG-WHA: Well, we do need to see for sure that the engine testing site, which is critical to their ability to develop ICBM, that being dismantled

as the chairman himself had told President Trump. We'll see. And we expect that to happen. We will know for sure when that actually happens.

[14:20:15] AMANPOUR: Meantime, can you just tell me, was South Korea given a heads up that President Trump was going to declare an end or a suspension

or whatever we want to call it to the joint military training maneuvers?

And as you see, he did adopt the North Korean language about them being war games and provocative. Were you given a heads up? Did you know he was

going to put that to Kim Jong-un?

KYUNG-WHA: Well, we were notified. And we respect his judgment in this. I think that comes from his discussions with the chairman. And I think he

had said that based upon that discussion. This is something that he wished to say and he notified us before the announcement.

But we've also said in our Panmunjom Declaration that we need to take measures to reduce the military tension and this is very much in line with

what President Trump has said, and further clarified by Mr. Pompeo, that this is not to stop it, just to stop it, but to the extent that the North

Koreans continue to engage in good faith discussions with the US, with us, to the extent that they take concrete, genuine action towards


AMANPOUR: Well, certainly, your president has said there needs to be a further review of this decision. And your military seemed to have been

blindsided, just like the US military seemed to have been blindsided.

But let's take you at face value and say that this is something that you believe needs to be done in order to show good faith and willingness to

enter a new kind of dialogue.

What then do you make of the fact that most analysts cannot find any concession that the North Koreans have made? There was no declaration of

their nuclear stockpile or their missile stockpile. There was no pledge beyond sort of a pledge to reaffirm that they would continue progress

towards denuclearization. And even there, they use the same language about the Korean Peninsula which as you know and there was nothing about

verifiable or irreversible. Absolutely nothing that we were told about that. Does that not worry you?

KYUNG-WHA: Well, I think you need to again take this from a larger perspective and not just focus on the nuclear issue. I think the political

context of discussion has shifted by the meeting between the North Korean and the president of the United States.

This is truly historic. I think the fact that they have decided to start a new chapter in their relationship, overcoming seven decades of hostilities,

but - I think there is a lot of discussion about the missing "V" and "I" in the CVID in the outcome.

And I think we have to understand that what - the goal is complete denuclearization. And by that, we certainly mean the complete

dismantlement of the North Korean weapons, the materials and the facilities and so on.

AMANPOUR: Foreign minister, I fully understand where you're coming from. And you sit right on the doorstep of a nuclear and missile threat. So, I

understand that you want to shift this historic tension.

But I'm still trying to figure out, there seems to be a lot taken on faith. And even in the issue of sanctions, already, the Chinese are saying, well,

look, we're in a new era, certainly, North Korea deserves sanctions to be removed.

North Korea media themselves are portraying this as a win-win for North Korea, that they've been pledged to sanctions relief. That's what the

media is saying, that they've been treated as equals on the international stage and that was the main reason for this summit.

Let me play to you what Secretary of State Pompeo has said about the sanctions.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: And when we referred to the mistakes of the past, they were providing economic and financial relief before the

complete denuclearization had taken place. That is not going to happen. President Trump made that clear not only in his press conference, but made

it clear when he was with Chairman Kim Jong-un himself.

The sequence will be different this time. That's important. It's central to the understanding.


AMANPOUR: So, does that give you some comfort then, all this good faith actually does boil down to sanctions staying on?

[14:25:02] KYUNG-WHA: Yes. I think we're very much on the same page on sanctions relief, exactly as Mr. Pompeo says. Until we see visible,

meaningful, genuine, verified action towards denuclearization, the sanctions will remain in place.

AMANPOUR: You've almost made light in this interview about verifiable and irreversible, and yet we were told that that was the basic bottom line for

the president of the United States from his meeting with Kim Jong-un.

What do you need to see? What does the alliance need to see and is the next move in Kim Jong-un's court?

KYUNG-WHA: Very much so. I think he has had a serious discussion with President Trump. He has committed to denuclearization. He has committed

to taking action towards denuclearization. So, we will see.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Foreign Minister Kang, thank you so much for joining us.

KYUNG-WHA: Always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at and you can

follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.