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Trump Foundation Boosted Campaign; Abuse Survivors Demand Accountability; Inside the Conway Household. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired August 16, 2018 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:30:00] MARC OWENS, FORMER DIRECTOR, EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS DIVISION, IRS: That the New York attorney general has collected suggests very strongly and, in fact, I would say close to conclusively, that the Donald Trump Foundation was used to support, to facilitate Donald Trump's political campaign.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The attorney general's complaint also lists other examples of Trump Foundation self-dealing, including paying off a $100,000 lawsuit settlement with a notation in the president's own handwriting.
But it's the veteran's charity stunt that seems the most egregious. Daniel Borocoff is head of Charity Watch.
DANIEL BOROCOFF, PRESIDENT, CHARITY WATCH: Donald Trump basically handed over the keys to his charitable foundation to his political campaign.
GRIFFIN: Trump Foundation attorney Alan Futerfas did not address a possible IRS case and instead focused on what he believes is a politically motivated, unfounded prosecution by New York's attorney general. In a statement he tells CNN, the president's foundation has raised and donated over 19 million to charitable causes, operated with little to no expenses, and states virtually every penny raised by the Trump Foundation went exactly where it should, to support those most in need.
As for politics, we have been unable to find a single example where an attorney general, New York or otherwise, has brought a case involving a similar set of facts.
Former IRS official Owens says none of that matters to the IRS.
OWENS: The assets of the foundation were allowed to be used to support his political campaign, and that is all that is need.
GRIFFIN (on camera): The big question is, if the IRS, under this administration, is considering an investigation. The IRS will not comment at all to CNN.
In the meantime, Trump's attorneys are planning to fight the case of the New York attorney general, filing their response to this lawsuit later in the month.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Washington.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Our thanks to Drew Griffin for that story.
A Colorado man has been charged with murder and tampering with evidence after his pregnant wife and their two daughters went missing. Police say 34-year-old Shannan Watts, four-year-old Celeste and three- year-old Bella were last seen on Monday. Authorities are expected to hold a press conference later this morning. The suspect, Chris Watts, will appear in court this afternoon.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Seventy-two people overdosed in Newhaven, Connecticut, in just 24 hours from a suspected batch of K2. That's a synthetic marijuana. Many of the overdoses happening at a downtown park which borders Yale University. Emergency crews found people passed out and unresponsive. Others, vomiting, complaining of nausea. All of this comes as the CDC estimates drug overdoses killed 72,000 Americans last year.
BERMAN: And that's an increase.
BERMAN: A Colorado baker who won a Supreme Court battle after refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple is now wading into another legal battle. Masterpiece Cake Shop owner Jack Phillips has now filed a lawsuit against Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and other state officials claiming that they've been, quote, on a crusade to crush him because they despise what he believes and how he practices his faith. Phillips sued after the state said he broke the law by refusing to create a cake to celebrate a gender transition. So far state officials have not responded or declined to comment.
HILL: A shark attack off the coast of Cape Cod. A 61 year old man suffering puncture wounds to his leg and torso while swimming 30 yards from shore. This happened at Long Nook Beach in Truro. His condition unknown this morning. There have been multiple sightings, though, in the area recently. Sharks moving closer to the coastline to feed on seals.
BERMAN: I know this isn't about me, but I swim at that beach occasionally. That's not good.
HILL: You've been warned.
BERMAN: Also not good, a Massachusetts couple cutting a rug made a big splash with their dance moves -- literally. The pair getting down to "Footloose" at the Boston Harbor Hotel. They were so into it -- you saw it there -- they get too close to the protective rope and they fall right into Boston Harbor. Now, witnesses say the couple was able to get out of the water fast.
BERMAN: Luckily they weren't hurt. I would only note the irony to the fact they're listening to
"Footloose" here because this is exactly the kind of danger that the Reverend Shaw Moore was pointing out to dancing. This is the kind of thing that can happen if you dance. And this is what Kevin Bacon paid no attention to.
HILL: He did not. And they -- they clearly did not listen either.
BERMAN: It can be dangerous.
HILL: Well, I hope that others are listening to you this morning, John Berman.
BERMAN: Thank you.
HILL: All right, we take a turn here.
We are continuing to hear from survivors of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church and calls for accountability on the heels of this grand jury report. Ahead, you'll hear from a Pennsylvania lawmaker who was also abused. He tells us what he wants to see happen, next.
[08:38:43] HILL: More than a thousand children sexually abused by hundreds of Catholic priests over the span of decades in the state of Pennsylvania according to a grand jury report. Abuse that was largely covered up. One of those who was abused, Mark Rozzi, he's a Democratic state representative in Pennsylvania and has introduced a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Sir, we appreciate you taking the time for us today.
You -- you are part of this grand jury report. You spoke with the grand jury. Why was it so important to you to share your story with them?
REP. MARK ROZZI, SEXUALLY ABUSED BY PA PRIEST: It was like, for the first time in your life, you're being heard by somebody who actually cares about what happened to you. You -- you know, we have reached out to the diocese before and they didn't really want to hear anything. They didn't want to listen. And the last thing they wanted you to do was contact law enforcement.
So for the first time in your life you actually have 23 grand jurors listening to -- intently and caring about what you're saying. And it's part of that validation and being vindicated that, hey, the truth is finally going to come out.
HILL: There has been so much reaction to this report. It is also very difficult to read, as folks know if they have even tried to read a small part of it.
[08:40:00] How has that reaction before for you to be on the receiving end in some ways of that reaction? ROZZI: Well, you know, first of all, people should be outraged about what they read. We're talking about years and years, really decades of systematic cover-up. The real scandal is not that even the abuse happened, it's that the bishops aided and abetted these known perpetrators. It's the bishops who chose to protect the church's reputation and their assets rather than protect their own children. And that in and of itself is despicable. So people should be outraged. And, you know what, victims, it's a great day for victims because finally, collectively, our voices are being heard finally.
And I always said, this is a two part system. The first part is getting the truth out, then we're going to turn to justice. We're going to turn to passing legislation to give these victims in this report their day in court.
HILL: And so part of what you're trying to do with that is your bill, which is called The Real Deal. It would eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitations, as we pointed out, for childhood sexual assault claims. The Catholic -- Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has said that they contend that memories fade, perpetrators die, and they raise concerns about bankruptcy in relation to this and they said the really the time to discuss legislation will come later, but on the heels of this grand jury report the focus should be on helping survivors and families recover.
ROZZI: Sure, let's kick the can -- let's kick the can down the road. That's what the bishops have done for over 100 years with child sex abuse. That's not going to happen anymore. When we go back in the session in September, we will be passing a bill out of the House of Representatives that will eliminate the criminal statute of limitations, that will make a change to the civil statute of limitations and absolutely will have some type of window, hopefully a two-year window, that will give past victims their opportunity to get their two years back.
I don't want to hear that, you know, the church is going to file -- have to file for bankruptcy. And when they usually do, it's voluntary bankruptcy. They put certain assets aside so they can continue their spiritual education and minstrel services and they make sure they -- their pension is funded, of course, even for these predator priests. That's too bad. They have committed these crimes.
And we're tired of hearing the bishops saying, well, we're learning from this report. We're going to try to do -- make changes going forward. How about you be accountable for your actions? That's when the nuns taught me in grade school, that when you -- you commit something, you do something wrong, you are held accountable. And that's what this legislation will do finally to the church.
HILL: Do you have support from Republicans on this?
ROZZI: I do. And, in fact, I'm almost going to pass the same bill that passed out of the House two years ago, 180-15 before the Senate decided to go on a different path. So one thing I want to make sure, I want all victims out there to hear
this though, is that my legislation isn't just focused on the Catholic Clergy. It's for all victims of child sex abuse. But it's because what the Catholic Conference is doing, spending millions of dollars with lawyers and lobbyists, they're -- they're going to block justice for all victims here. And, again, I mean at what --
HILL: Is the Catholic lobby too powerful?
ROZZI: Oh, absolutely. The last time my bill passed the House 180-15 and went to the Senate, the Catholic Conference hired 39 lobbyists to work 50 senators. How can victims compete with a church that is spending millions of dollars to silence us?
And you see that in the grand jury report. They did everything they could to make sure this report didn't come out. And, again, it's the collective voice of these victims and our attorney general who really impaneled this grand jury, who was amazing through this whole process.
HILL: Those numbers are astounding when you put it -- when you put it out there like that.
How much of an impact do you think then this grand jury report, the voices of these victims and survivors, is there enough there to counter that powerful lobby that you just laid out?
ROZZI: There is. I mean, the one thing that's critical here is the media. And I -- from what I heard from legislators already, the newspapers, the TV, they're reaching out to representatives and senators in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania saying, where do you stand on the recommendations from this grand jury? We want to print your responses or we want to put you on TV and we want to hear you say, are you standing with victims or are you going to stand with pedophiles or the institutions that have protected these pedophiles.
The one thing that we definitely don't want to see is any legislator aiding and abetting a bishop now that continue the cover-up that has gone on for decades.
HILL: I do want to point out, we have invited the church on. They have not responded to that request to join us. There is, as we know, no comment from the Vatican. The pope has not weighed in. The pope, as recently as yesterday afternoon, according to a spokesperson for the attorney general, has not responded to the attorney general's letter from earlier this month.
[08:45:08] We will continue to stay on it and we hope you'll keep us updated as well. It is something that will absolutely stay in the headlines here for us. Thank you.
ROZZI: We will. Thank you for having me on.
BERMAN: All right, she works for President Trump. Her husband is one of the president's most vocal critics. So how did Kellyanne and George Conway make it work? A "Washington Post" writer got an inside look at their life. This is a remarkable article. The reporter joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BERMAN: Kellyanne Conway is one of the most recognizable faces of the Trump administration. Her husband George is a conservative, but he's no fan of President Trump and he's become a darling of the left for routinely trolling his wife's boss on Twitter.
So, what's life like in the divided Conway household?
Features and political reporter for "The Washington Post," Ben Terris, was recently invited into the Conway's new Washington, D.C., home and wrote a fascinating piece on the couple's dynamic.
[08:50:09] This thing is a must-read for everybody. Let me read one bit from it, if you will, Ben.
George Conway calls you and Kellyanne into a room to show a picture of President Trump, I believe, on Inauguration Day, or it may have been election night. He says, George says, you've got to see this picture. You should like it. It's your boss. He's not just my boss, Kellyanne, 51, says, he's our president. Yes, George says, walking out of the room. We'll see how long that lasts.
So, Ben, why did they invite you into their home to see this?
BEN TERRIS, FEATURE REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, thanks for having me on, first of all.
I think they invited me to their house because I was going to be writing a story about them anyway and usually it's better to, you know, kind of showcase yourself than just to let a story rely on other people. I don't think they wanted, you know, sniping from people on the outside to be the only part of the story.
But when they invited me into their house, there was just so much to see and write about that a lot of the reporting I had beforehand kind of fell out the window because I had so much to work with just by being around them for so long.
BERMAN: So much to work with, like this, for instance. You went on a long walk with Kellyanne Conway which describe in really compelling detail, including the fact that in a hot Washington day she didn't sweat one bit, which I don't think is surprising to any of us who have spoken to Kellyanne on TV.
She says, quote, I feel there's a part of him that thinks I chose Donald Trump over him, Kellyanne says as we walk, she's talking about George, she says, which is ridiculous. One is my work and one is my marriage. Naturally, though, the two things overlap. When George criticizes the president publicly, Kellyanne says, the media coverage and the implication that they're pitted against each other bothers their children. And as for the president himself, Kellyanne won't say it irks him, but she does think he finds it impolite. On that she'd agree.
There's so much in here that you write and the detail where it just feels, to me, the reader, so awkward. Did it feel that way to you inside the house?
TERRIS: Yes, it was a little bit awkward. But, I mean, it's a marriage, right, and marriages -- all marriages have ups and downs. This one is just playing out kind of on a national stage. So it was -- it was awkward to be around some -- some bickering, but it didn't seem completely abnormal. It just was kind of abnormal to be a reporter watching it.
And, I mean, I think what made this story interesting to me was not just that they had tension, but that it's kind of a story about, you know, the country right now. I mean the president is dominating -- you know, he's the front page of every newspaper all the time. He's on CNN all the time. I mean not showing up himself, but the stories about him. And so people just talk about him all the time and there's fights at, you know, dining room tables around, you know, the country. And this just happens to be kind of the biggest, you know, example that I could possibly find.
BERMAN: They're just like so many couples in the country, divided on their political opinions, except for the fact that one's a senior adviser to the president of the United States and that one is stirring things up very deliberately on Twitter and social media.
TERRIS: Right. Right.
BERMAN: Do you get the sense from George that he knows what he's doing, he knows that this must upset his wife, but he just can't stop himself?
TERRIS: Yes, I think that's a little bit of it. I mean what he told me basically is, if he doesn't tweet, like he'll pop. You know, like this is his outlet. This is the way that he, you know, releases some of the pressure because, you know, he's a conservative, too. This is not -- this is not a Mary Matalin and James Carville situation where they're just on opposite sides of the spectrum.
He's a conservative. He was almost in the Trump administration. He was going to join the Department of Justice, but then pulled himself from -- from that process. And I think he knows it bothers her and Kellyanne told me that he knows it bothers the children, but, you know, he's a person who has a voice and he just kind of has to get it out there. And I'm not sure exactly what's making him press tweet and press retweet on all this criticism of the president, and it's a lot of it, but I think he just kind of can't help himself.
BERMAN: Has she ever asked him to stop?
TERRIS: She has not -- she did not tell me if she ever asked him to stop, but she told me that, you know, she rolls her eyes at the tweets and I mean certainly her life would be easier if he wasn't criticizing her boss. I mean one of her top jobs is to sell Trumpism. I mean she's an architect of, you know, of kind of what he stands for and she goes around the country and on television selling what he stands for.
BERMAN: Let me --
TERRIS: And then to have her husband at home undermining it is tough.
BERMAN: Let me ask you about that sales pitch because there was one part here that was fascinating, particularly as a journalist reading it. You write this. You have an exchange with her over some of the language she had used. You said you told me you found George's tweets disrespectful. Kellyanne says it's disrespectful, it's a violation if public decency, certainly if not marital vows. And she says that as a person familiar with their relationship. And you have to say no, no, no, no, we're on the record here. I'm not going to use you as a background source, a person familiar with their relationship. There's irony here on like 14 different levels. But one of them is that Kellyanne Conway frequently criticizes the use of anonymous sources and she's trying to be one here.
[08:55:15] TERRIS: Right. Yes. I mean, you know, it's just one of those things. It's not just the Trump administration. This is something that's happened in D.C. for a long time where people trying to kind of abuse the rules of journalism, you know, going on background, being a source close to someone when it really is that person. And, you know, if you don't go off the record and both, you know, the journalist and the subject don't agree to it, it's not off the record. So she said that and she kind of tried to weasel her way out of it, but, you know, it -- I just printed it.
BERMAN: Ben Terris, as I said, this is a really wonderfully written piece. It's about a specific couple, but it's about very many married couples, as you said, an insight into I think a lot of relationships around the U.S. right now. So thank you for joining us this morning. Thank you for writing it. And, you know, good for the Conway's for letting you in to take a look at that, because I know a lot of people have had so many questions.
TERRIS: Thanks. Thanks for having me.
BERMAN: Pretty amazing, yes?
HILL: It's a great read. I agree.
Thanks, everyone, for joining us this morning. Stay tuned, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up after this break.
[09:00:01] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.
"Hogwash," that is the word reverberating this morning from former CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan clearly not intimidated by President Trump's decision to revoke his security clearance this morning, declares