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Wray and Rosenstein to Testify; Kennedy's Retires Ignites Battle. HHS Review of Migrant Shelters; Bill Shire Accepts White House Position. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired June 28, 2018 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:34:04] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are moments away from a joint appearance by the head of the FBI and the deputy attorney general before the House Judiciary Committee. You see Rod Rosenstein there standing up. Christopher Wray, the FBI director, seated. And we'll bring that to you live in just moment. The focus is the FBI and the DOJ's actions surrounding the 2016 election. This is expected to be a heated hearing.
Joining me now, CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor Shan Wu, and CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich.
It's nice to have you guys here.
Jackie, let me begin with you.
Look, this is expected to be heated and even more so because of what some House Republicans on this committee are demanding of Rosenstein and of the DOJ, that they turn over all of the documents tied to the beginning of the 2016 election Russia probe. And Mark Meadows has said if they don't get those documents, Jackie, by July 6th, articles of impeachment against Rosenstein could be in order.
How likely do you think that is?
[09:34:59] JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's hard to say. I mean it's hard to see Paul Ryan letting that happen. He's been trying to bring the temperature down on this throughout. That said, he also has shown a lack of a capacity to control the most conservative members of his conference. That's just a matter of fact. And they certainly have been very loud and very demanding of these documents. So we're just going to have to see, Poppy. It's hard to predict what the House Republican conference is going to do these days.
HARLOW: Before we -- before we move on, Shan, I just have one other beef for Jackie and -- because tied to this is what the president chose to message this morning, Jackie, from the White House on Russia, and that is reiterating a Putin/Kremlin talking point. And let me read it for you. Russia, the president writes, continues to say they had nothing to do with the meddling in our election. That is contrary to the findings of the U.S. intelligence agency and it's perplexing as to why the president would continue to say that. As we know, he's going next month to meet with Vladimir Putin.
HARLOW: And as this hearing about Russian meddling in the election gets underway.
KUCINICH: And that's certainly going to be one of the things, as we watch this meeting he has with Vladimir Putin, that we're going to be monitoring. He's also said that Crimea would rather be Russian because they speak Russia. So he really has taken the Russia --
HARLOW: It should be -- should be Russian.
KUCINICH: Should be Russian because they speak Russian. So it -- he really has made a lot of overtures to Vladimir Putin and it is perplexing because all of his intelligence agencies have said that Russia did meddle in the 2016 election.
It's about as bizarre as I suppose saying Portugal, you know, should -- as if Brazil should be part of Portugal because they speak Portuguese.
HARLOW: So, Shan, to you. On the Supreme Court, as we wait -- we're obviously going to bring you the opening statements of these two gentlemen live to our viewers. But on the Supreme Court, and you used to work, I should note, in the law office of Justice Gorsuch. Anthony Kennedy stepping down, retiring. Such a key voice. Such a key vote. Who made liberals extremely happy and conservatives extremely happy at different points with different decisions. When it comes to the social issues, gay rights, abortion, affirmative action, he was the champion and the hero of liberals. When it came to other issues like campaign finance and the Citizens United decision, he was the championing of conservatives. Our Jeffrey Toobin, on chief legal analyst, on the air yesterday kept saying, abortion will be illegal in 20 states in 18 months now that Kennedy is being replaced. Do you think he's right?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's a little bit of a fast track. I think the way that the Rowe issues would come up are probably going to be a little bit nuanced as opposed to a frontal attack on it. But certainly this court is going to be, obviously, much more predisposed toward more restrictions and it could reach the central issue of overturning it. But I don't think it's going to come as a direct frontal attack.
HARLOW: You know last year, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Ginsberg, was speaking before an audience, one of the questions to her was, who should eat more kale in Washington, and she did not miss a beat and her answer was Anthony Kennedy. Well now that Anthony Kennedy will no longer be on the high court with her, do you think Chief Justice John Roberts is actually the liberal's best hope in some of these things, at least an occasion swing vote? I mean, take, for example, the vote on Obamacare that infuriated conservatives, they called it a betrayal.
WU: Yes. I think so. But for a different reason than Justice Kennedy was more of a centrist or a swing vote. I think the chief justice, as all of them have been, is much more conscious of the court's image, its role and making sure that the American public doesn't think of it as being a politically motivated entity, which sometimes it appears to be. I think for that reason he will be a little bit more centrist. But I don't think you can look to him to really become a centrist.
You know, Justice Gorsuch, who was a great lawyer, I admire him personally, he's not going to emerge as a centrist either. So think, generally speaking, that role is going to be gone.
HARLOW: Jackie, it's critical that President Trump is the first president to get his Supreme Court nominees confirmed by a simple majority and that actually goes back to 2013, it goes back to Harry Reid sort of with the nuclear option on all judicial appointments except for SCOTUS appointments, needing just a simple majority, and then Mitch McConnell took it further last year to include SCOTUS.
But do -- a, do Democrats have a prayer here, and, b, do they have a leg to stand on when they cry foul?
KUCINICH: You know, Democrats are in a world of hurt right now because their base right now is screaming that this not be able to go through because of what happened with Merrick Garland and they really -- the balance that they're going to have to strike is really difficult. I mean look at how much money is already pouring in from outside groups into this debate. If you are of a vulnerable Democrat in, you know, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia, your air waves are just going to be flooded with pressure to vote for the president's nominee. That map was already really bad for Democrats when you're talking about politics. This makes it that much worse.
[09:40:14] HARLOW: And you saw what Heidi Heitkamp said yesterday, sort of responding to the president who attacked her and said, you know, will we get her vote on this one, because he did have some support on the others.
Thank you very, very much, Jackie Kucinich. Shan Wu. Nice to have you.
Got to get a break in before this hearing. Again this contentious hearing set to begin on Capitol Hill with the FBI director, the deputy attorney general.
We'll be right back.
HARLOW: The House Judiciary Committee hearing just getting underway here. This is a critical hearing. We're going to hear testimony in just moments from Christopher Wray, the FBI director, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein surrounding their agency's handling and actions around the 2016 election and the Russia probe. We are hearing from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte right now. His opening remarks. Then we'll hear from the ranking Democrat, Jerry Nadler of New York. And then we will bring it to you live when we start to hear from Wray and Rosenstein. So stay with us for that.
[09:45:11] The inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services is launching a review into shelters across the country that are housing thousands of undocumented migrant children. This as we wait for answers from the administration about how and when families separated at the border will be reunited.
Today, the first lady, Melania Trump, is expected to make her second trip to a children's immigration facility near the border. You see there her first trip there less than a week ago.
Our national correspondent Miguel Marquez is live in Brownsville, Texas.
And, Miguel, you're outside of a federal courthouse. Protests are expected to begin soon. What can you tell us.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and these protests are all part of a nationwide effort by ACLU and other immigration groups to keep the pressure on, to get that ruling by a judge, a couple of days ago in a San Diego court, telling the administration that it had to reunite these families. There has been zero movement as far as we can tell from the ACLU, from the different immigration groups that we speak to about trying to get those families back.
Keep in mind, a week ago the president said that he was reversing his zero-tolerance policy. Since then there's an indication that six families have been reunited. But at this point, 2,047 children remain in detention apart from their parents. And it is not clear what the plan is or if there is even a plan for the government to try to reunite those families with their kids.
The problem for them are three fold. If they want to do it, they can't reunite the parents with their kids in custody. They'd have to have some other facility. They'd either have to deport the parents without the kids or deport them all as one. All very difficult things to do. And there is some indication from the Texas Civil Rights Project that handles a lot of these cases in this area, they say they have confirmed five cases where the parents have been deport to their home countries and their kids remain in detention here in the U.S.
HARLOW: Miguel, also, before you go, we have learned a little bit more about what the Department of Homeland Security is asking from the Pentagon in terms of housing these migrants. What can you tell us?
MARQUEZ: Yes. This seems to be what the administration is moving to. Rather than letting the parents go as previous administrations have done, a so-called catch and release program where they are adjudicated and then they are released as a family pending a court date down the road. Rather than do that, they are asking the Department of Defense to prepare some sort of shelters so that these kids can be reunited with their parents and then kept in custody pending those court dates. The government's not said that. Lawyers don't quite know that. But
that appears to be where all of this is headed. And we're talking about tens of thousands of people. People now scattered across the country hundreds of thousands of miles apart.
HARLOW: Miguel, thank you very much. The reporting from Brownsville, Texas, this morning.
And, again, we're waiting for this hearing to begin before the House Judiciary Committee. We'll hear from the head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, as well as the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, in just moments. Don't go anywhere.
[09:52:44] HARLOW: Again, we're waiting for the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the 2016 election and the DOJ and FBI's actions surrounding it to begin. The ranking Democrat on the committee, Jerry Nadler of New York, speaking right now. In a moment, we will hear the opening statements of Rod Rosenstein, the deputy AG, FBI Director Christopher Wray. We'll bring those to you in full live as soon as they begin.
Meantime, the former co-president of Fox News is about to become a senior member of President Trump's administration. A source tells CNN Bill Shine, you see him right there, is expected to be named the deputy chief of staff in charge of communications. He stepped down from his role at Fox last year after he was criticized for the way he handled sexual harassment claims at the network.
Hadas Gold joins me with all of the details.
And making this, I think, Hadas, even more interesting is the road that Sean Hannity has in many ways paved, the biggest star at Fox News has paved for Bill Shine to the White House.
HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND POLITICS REPORTER: Oh, definitely, Poppy. I mean this is as close as you can get to almost Sean Hannity himself being in a major role in the White House because Bill Shine and Sean Hannity are old friends and they go back a long time. In fact, Bill Shine was Sean Hannity's producer for quite a while before he rose in the ranks at Fox News.
Sean and Bill are still very close. They've attended dinners together with President Trump. And this appointment, it might not be surprising to us anymore, because we know how much President Trump loves Fox News, but just think about the number of Fox News people that are involved in this administration right now. We have everything from State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauer, we have Josh Bolton, who is -- obviously now has a major role in foreign affairs at the White House currently. We have KT McFarland, who stepped down. Same as Monica Crowley.
But there is just such an influence of this network in this White House. We know that the president talks to the hosts all the time. I mean just look at his Twitter account. He's constantly tweeting about watching their shows. And now this just further cements that connection between a network and a White House. And while media going to politics and going back and forth is not that unusual, having one particular outlet have so much influence over an administration is just completely unprecedented.
HARLOW: It is, and, look, this may be someone that the president implicitly trusts, clearly.
[09:55:01] HARLOW: But it comes with some risks, right, because the reason that Bill Shine is no longer running Fox News is because of how he handled these sexual harassment complaints brought before him. He was never accused of sexual harassment --
HARLOW: But how he handled these complaints.
What kind of problems could that cause in the White House when you look at a White House say dealing with the fallout from Rob Porter?
GOLD: Of course. I mean, this is just something that clearly the White House has decided is a risk worth taking with Bill Shine. I mean we understand that it's from people who work there that it's difficult to work in this White House. And Bill Shine maybe they see as somebody who can take on this position.
But this is definitely going to be opening themselves up to a lot of criticism because of exactly how he handled it. I mean he stepped down because of all of these allegations of sexual harassment at the network and settlements that they may have paid out as a result. And as you noted, he was never himself accused of sexual harassment, but he was named in several lawsuits regarding how they treated these allegations.
But, clearly, for this White House, this just doesn't seem to matter as much as the benefits that they think that Bill Shine could bring. And I have spoken to a few former and current Fox News employees and they say that he would do a good job running a shop like that. The question is whether President Trump will listen to him.
HARLOW: Or let him -- let him really run the shop.
Hadas Gold, appreciate the reporting this morning. Thank you very, very much.
HARLOW: Again, on hearing watch. We're waiting. In moments we'll hear from the FBI director and the deputy attorney general. We'll bring it to you live. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HARLOW: All right, top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.
Breaking news, as we await this hearing to get underway on Capitol Hill, the nation's top law enforcement officials are there. We're waiting to hear testimony from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who you see there, smiling, in the red tie, about to give his opening statement in just a little while. Also, the FBI Director Christopher Wray in the hot seat today. They will face lawmaker questions about their agency's actions surrounding the 2016 election. We'll bring you that as soon as it begins.
[09:59:52] Also this morning, President Trump seemingly giving Russia clearly the benefit of the doubt over election meddling against what our own intelligence agencies have said. Just minutes before details about his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin were announced, he took to Twitter to write, Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election.
Let's go to Abby Phillip, who joins us