On Tuesday, CNN showed once again that the biggest quality it looks for in news is whether or not it is damaging to President Trump. New Day co-host John Berman even brings it up when discussing other stories.
During an interview with disgruntled ex-White House staffer Olivia Troye discussing the administration’s response to the pandemic. he asked “So the fact that the president has $421 million, and some people think it might be higher, in obligations coming due over the next few years what's the national security risk there?”
Troye was making an appearance on CNN to discuss her latest accusations on the President. Since she left the Trump Administration, the former aide has appeared on leftist media outlets several times to attack Trump. Several questions remain on her exit from the administration, and she certainly is not an expert on taxes.
This did not stop Berman, who halfway through the interview changed subjects to Trump’s tax returns. Berman has been gleefully been covering the story, even making his own graphic to wave around childishly. He led into the subject by asking: “You have had background checks no doubt done on you. What would have happened if in your background check the FBI discovered that you owed $1 million, $500,000, you had $1 million in debt to various entities, what would have happened?” This had nothing to do with Troye’s accusations or reason for being on the show.
This continues a trend that was seen on Monday morning, with CNN bringing in a guest to wildly warn of Trump being a national security threat. Troye’s interview was not even the first time during Tuesday’s broadcast where President Trump’s taxes were attacked out of the blue. During a segment on the first presidential debate, veteran Democratic Party hack Paul Begala declared, “[Biden’s] got to make a case at why he's going to do a better job, especially on the economy. And this tax story allows him to do this.”
During his regular Reality Check segment earlier on the show, John Avalon hurled nearly identical attacks: “We don't know who the President owes all that money to. But it raises real concerns that some see as a national security threat.” This was after Avlon hinted that the President was desperate to win reelection because if he loses, he is likely to go to prison.
It's clear CNN's only intention is to promote Biden campaign talking points designed to tarnish Trump ahead of the first debate.
A transcript of September 29 coverage is included below:
6:09 AM ET
JOHN BERMAN: Joining us now, two preeminent political commentators. Scott Jennings, a former special assistant at George W. Bush and Paul Begala, a democratic strategist. Gentlemen, thank you both for being with us on this momentous day. On this defining day. This is the first Presidential debate. There's one thing we know, which is that the first debates tend to be the most important, Paul. So as he takes this debate stage tonight, what does Joe Biden need to do? Beating an incumbent is not easy. You did it when you were on the Clinton campaign in '92, but what does Joe Biden need to do tonight?
PAUL BEGALA [CNN Political Commentator]: He needs an economic case. I think the country is ready to fire Trump. And Joe's going take his shots, I'm sure, at Trump, and that's fine, that's good. But more importantly, he's got to make a case at why he's going to do a better job, especially on the economy. And this tax story allows him to do this. As Biden likes to say, this is Scranton versus Park Avenue. That's a good, simple, populist case. He can make that argument that the system is stacked against working people in places like Scranton and in favor of billionaires on Park Avenue or Fifth Avenue or wherever his stupid condo is.
6:51 AM ET
BERMAN: So much new information from "The New York Times" on the President's taxes. And much of the focus has been on what it now means for the President. But what might be most revealing as we mentioned earlier and most worrisome for Donald Trump is what it means for after he is President. John Avlon with the reality check.
JOHN AVLON: Donald Trump is desperate to get re-elected. So desperate that he's willing to threaten the peaceful transfer of power. But "The New York Times" report revealing insights from two decades of his tax returns might shed some light on why Trump is ready to shred every democratic norm to hold on to power. As University of Chicago law professor Daniel Hamill wrote in "The Washington post," the stakes for trump this fall are far greater than past Presidents seeking re-election. For him, a loss would not mean only the loss of a political career, but also, potentially, personal and financial ruin. The first reaction for many was fury at the fact that a self-styled populist billionaire paid less in federal income tax than an unmarried full-time worker making just $9 an hour. That's a rigged system. And it's got to get fixed. But here's what former DOJ inspector Michael R. Bromwich said. If he loses the election, he faces federal and state prosecution for bank fraud, tax fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud. No OLC memo will spare him. That's serious stuff. Now, tax fraud applies to any material knowing misstatement on a tax return, like falsely inflating losses to pay less taxes. Bank fraud would apply if Trump falsely inflated his assets to get loans. Here's what Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen told Congress in 2019.
MICHAEL COHEN [Former Trump Attorney]: Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in "Forbes" and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.
AVLON: Since then, the Manhattan D.A. said Trump could face tax fraud charges. Look, baseball great's Pete Rose and Darryl Strawberry did stints in prison for far less. The second issue stems from a mountain of debt. According to the times, he is personally responsible for loans totaling $421 million, most coming due within four years. We don't know who the President owes all that money to. But it raises real concerns that some see as a national security threat. Here's what the CIA guidelines says. Failure to lives within one's means, satisfy debts, and meet financial obligations may indicate poor self-control, lack of judgment, or unwillingness to abide by rules and regulations, all of which can raise questions about an individual's reliability, trustworthiness, and ability to protect classified or sensitive information. Now, does that sound like anyone we know? But make no mistake, this is all serious enough to increase Trump's sense of desperation. Among other things, his favorite Twitter insults, fake, failed, dishonest, weak, liar, and loser would apply to him forever. And that's before the creditors and prosecutors come calling. And that's your reality check.
BERMAN: Our thanks to John for that.
8:21 AM ET
JOHN BERMAN: Breaking overnight, a former top aide to Mike Pence confirms that officials at the white house exerted political pressure on the CDC to minimize the risk of reopening schools for in-person learning. Joining me now is Olivia Troye, she was one of the president's top aides. She left the White House last month. You were quoted in a "New York Times" piece which broke this information, the idea that there was political pressure on the CDC to change what it was saying on reopening schools. What happened here?
OLIVIA TROYE: Good morning, thank you for having me on the show. Yes, that is correct. What I saw firsthand, there were a lot of dynamics internally to the White House and a lot of pressure on the doctors on the task force especially the CDC and Dr. Redfield and the doctors and the leaders and -- in the department of CDC on specific changes on guidelines, in this situation specifically that "The New York Times" reported it was on the school guidelines and what I saw firsthand was a lot of the manipulation of the data, figure out how to tell a story that was less grim than the story was.
BERMAN: Manipulation of the data. The CDC wanted to say one thing and the white house wanted to say another?
TROYE: That's correct. In many cases, the CDC would put out these chart and graphics. Dr. Birx would brief them. She did a lot of work every single night. I saw this woman wake up at 4:00 A.M. In the morning, she would use a lot of the CDC data for the meetings. Dr. Redfield would be in attendance, Dr. Fauci would be there as well where we'd review where we were across the country, where the hot spots were and what was happening. A lot of these discussions also focused on the breakdown amongst age ranges, who we were seeing was most affected by this, was it affecting certain populations and all of these discussions were being had. In terms of the manipulation of the data, it was -- people within the White House specifically tasking more junior level staff to try find alternative data. Data that fit the narrative they wanted which was it only affects people above the age of 75 and it doesn't affect younger schoolchildren and it was all part of the narrative of we need to open up the schools and we need to open them up now.
BERMAN: They were trying to minimize the risk of reopening schools and trying to go around the CDC is what I think you're saying or muscle the CDC into conforming to their views. You were asked to be a part of this?
TROYE: I was. That's partially why -- that's mostly why I have mostly spoken in the past about the moral struggle of what it's like to be a part of this whole situation. You're constantly trying to do the right thing. I'm a national security professional, I have been doing this for over two decades. Saving lives is what I'm focused on and protecting Americans and watching this first hand was very upsetting.
BERMAN: Was it that they didn't believe you think that there were risks to reopening schools or that these risks existed? Did they not believe in the risk or was it they were trying to give misinformation about the risk?
TROYE: I think it's a combination of both, to be honest. I think there are still people walking around the White House today who don't actually believe this virus is real. A lot of them disregard it. Even though as you have seen, we’ve got over 7 million cases and we have lost a lot of lives here and we're still watching this globally happen across the world. Everyone's trying to figure out how we get past this. So I think it was a combination of both and another part of it was trying to fit the data and the guidelines and everything to the President's narrative of, you know, don't mind this. Everything's fine. We're over it. We have done great. Time to open back up, get people in schools, get people -- get the country and the economy going. It's all part of the greater messaging narrative of what the President is trying to say. It's not true.
BERMAN: Olivia, if I can ask you a question on a different subject. You were a government employee, you have worked in various sensitive jobs before. You have had background checks no doubt done on you. What would have happened if in your background check the FBI discovered that you owed $1 million, $500,000, you had $1 million in debt to various entities, what would have happened?
TROYE: Well, I can tell you for a fact that for me, as a national security profession, we get background checks every five years and there is no way that they would have granted me a clearance or allowed me access to anything sensitive or important. This is something that they really pay attention to because of the fact that it makes you subject to manipulation, bribes and they watch for this with foreign adversaries.
BERMAN: So the fact that the president has $421 million, and some people think it might be higher, in obligations coming due over the next few years what's the national security risk there?
TROYE: I think that's a red flag. I just want to know who does he owe the money to, and they'd be figuring out why, what caused this debt and the fear of it is that people can use this and hold it over your head. Foreign adversaries, they use this in the national security world and in the intelligence field. This is why they watch for that. I can tell you personally, I was questioned for my Department of Homeland Security clearance over missing a car payment when I was in my 20s. I mean, this is fact. And I was a broke college student just trying to make ends meet.
BERMAN: $421 million is a lot more than a car payment. I need to let you go but you've been on the inside, you're part of the coronavirus task force meetings. 205,000 Americans have now died. As Americans watch this debate tonight and they listen to the President try to explain -- I think that's what he'll try to do, his role in what happened and what will happen, what do Americans need to know as they are listening to him?
TROYE: I think Americans really need to remember what happened back in January at the very beginning when we found out about this pandemic and what has happened every single step of the way. They have been told falsities. They have not been told the truth. They also need to remember this is a person making decisions on how we respond to events like this. And this was a major one. And it was just very poorly handled. He only cared about himself.
BERMAN: Olivia Troye, thank you for being with us and explaining things on various fronts. We do appreciate your time.
TROYE: Thank you for having me.