Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

GOP's Collins Pleads Not Guilty on Insider Trading Charges; New Mexico Compound Suspects Where Training for School Shootings; Michigan Democrat Poised to Be First Muslim Woman in Congress; Celebs Target Ivanka Trump on Instagram Over Dad's Policy. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 8, 2018 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: There you go.

DENT: Well, first, here's what's going to happen, I don't know the facts of the case. The charges are obviously very serious. I know Chris Collins. His challenges now are not so much ethical as they are legal. What will happen to him in Congress -- you mentioned the ethics committee hadn't commented, well, they're not going to comment. But what they're likely do is establish an investigative subcommittee and that will be announced probably shortly. They'll announce an investigative subcommittee.

I suspect the Department of Justice will ask the ethics committee to defer this investigation to them. The ethics committee will likely honor that request from the Justice Department. They don't have to, but that has typically been the case. And then, of course, then the Justice Department will move at its pace. And if there is a conviction, if there were to be a conviction, or a plea, plead guilty, then obviously the ethics committee would follow up after that. But if there's some kind of conviction, typically the member will end up resigning.

BALDWIN: OK. OK. Just tell me, as a former member of Congress, what sort of seminars or orientations would members of Congress, you know, have to sit through just to know that this is something you don't do?

DENT: Well, we do provide ethics training for members. But it often talks about things like separating your campaign from your official business. Making sure you have strong firewalls. How you treat your employees. All sorts of things about House rules and how you should comply. We really don't advise members on things that could be of a criminal nature. Now, I often tell people that if you violate -- if you violate House rules, that does not make it a criminal matter. The ethics committee does not investigate crimes per se. That's what the DOJ is for. But ethical matters can quickly become criminal matters if not handled properly. So again, these are serious charges. Congressman Collins should be afforded the presumption of innocence and let him make his defense. But until then, he's going to have a lot to deal with.

BALDWIN: Politically speaking, you know, this is someone we have certainly seen on television supporting President Trump. He's the first sitting member of congress to endorse then candidate Trump and also now yet another key player in the Trump orbit facing legal woes.

DENT: Yes. Again, this is unfortunate, although he's of course not -- Congressman Collins is not a part of the administration. Clearly very strong --

BALDWIN: A Trump ally.

DENT: Correct. He is that. But, yes, I mean, look, people like to refer to Congress as the swamp. And when issues like this arise of course Congress is criticized collectively.

BALDWIN: It's super swampy, Congressman. The allegations.

DENT: Yes. Yes, but let me just say something in defense of my former colleagues, most of them I think are very honorable people. They do things the right way. They really try hard to abide by all rules and laws and are good, honorable people. And from time to time, we've seen issues where members have gotten in trouble. I'm sitting here in Philadelphia. It wasn't that long ago the congressman who represented this area, Chaka Fattah, was convicted and is in prison, I believe, as we speak and other members, former members, have gotten themselves into trouble. So, we've seen this before. It's a sad occurrence when it happens. But the wheels of justice will grind on and hopefully will come to a fair and just resolution in this matter.

BALDWIN: While I have you just separately on the news we broke on the Trump administration now placing sanctions on Russia in response to the poisoning with the nerve agent, the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. You know, again this is something that the President did not call out Putin when he was with him in Helsinki a couple weeks ago, let alone this happened a couple months ago, but still your response this today.

DENT: Well, it's certainly appropriate to enhance sanctions on Russia for their very bad behavior. And after the Helsinki summit, that was a debacle, I think it was particularly important that the President step up and launch these types of sanctions against the Russians, further sanctions. Again, this is mystifying to so many in the country and in Congress about why the President has such conciliatory language towards Vladimir Putin when Putin's Russia is doing everything it can to undermine American interest throughout the world. And of course, you just pointed out the poisoning of the individuals in the U.K. So, it's just further evidence of it. So, these sanctions are appropriate. I'm glad the administration has stepped up and we'll see how Congress reacts.

BALDWIN: Congressman Charlie Dent, good to see you. Thank you so much, sir.

[15:35:00] We have more news just in now on another disturbing development in the case of those 11 children found starving in a trailer in New Mexico. We are now learning accusations that this compound was used to train these children for school shootings. We're live there next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: New today five adults arrested inside that filthy New Mexico compound where police found a boy's remains and 11 starving children. Those adults making their first court appearances today. Authorities raiding the compound last week in search of a missing child with severe medical problems.

[15:40:00] A couple, whose land the compound sits on, told local and state law enforcement months ago they believe they saw this missing child back in either January or February. Now the same couple is wondering why law enforcement waited until last Friday to carry out the raid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONYA BADGER, NEIGHBOR: They were dragging their feet. They were taking too long. Even if they were trying to build a case or whatnot, you know, a child's life is at stake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no excuse.

SHERIFF JERRY HOGREFE, TAOS COUNTY NEW MEXICO: I had no probable cause to give a search warrant to go on to this property. In hindsight there was, but we would not have been there lawfully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Scott McClain is there for us in Taos, New Mexico. And Scott, you received a copy of the search warrant. Tell me what you're learning about this compound and the motives there.

SCOTT MCCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brooke. Couple things that we're learning from these court documents now. The search warrant indicates that the sheriff's deputies got some information from the family and child services essentially here in New Mexico who had spoken to some of these children. And two of them apparently -- again according to this search warrant document -- had told them that this child, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, was missing then 3-year-old, would have been four now, 4-year-old child had died and that his uncle, Lucas Morton -- not his father -- had actually washed his body twice, as is the Islamic tradition. And then buried him either in a tunnel that we saw on this compound that probably stretched for about 40 yards, or in the toilet area. And so that's one thing that we're learning from the search warrant.

But last week, Brooke, the sheriff here, the local sheriff, said that he believed that the folks on this compound, the adults at least were extremists of the Islamic belief. But when he was pressed on that he did not follow up. But now we are getting a sense of what he may have meant. In the charging documents against all five of these adults, when it talks about child abuse, it justifies that charge by saying, additionally a foster parent of one of the 11 children stated the defendant had trained the child in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for future school shootings. And then it goes on to say, that should the defendant be released from custody, he poses a great danger to the children found on the property as well as a threat to the community as a whole. Basically, making the argument that these people should not be

released. They are going to have a court date in just a couple of minutes from now and we'll be there. So, we'll find out what happens at that point. But again, I cannot stress enough here, Brooke, that these people have not been charged with conspiracy to commit school shooting, with training young people, anything like that. This is just one singular point in a document, in a charging document, that we're going to have to figure out and get more information about.

We also spoke to the father of one of the men who is charged, Lucas Morton. And he said, look, yes, they were devout Muslims. Yes, his son had a problem, you know, holding jobs and things like that. And so, he thought that the idea was to go out to New Mexico on this piece of land that they had and essentially start a new life, live off the grid. Start a home set and live a peaceful life. But he said, look, they didn't have the training. They didn't have the means. They didn't have anything to actually to make that happen.

And so, he said that on Thursdays, he actually got a text message from his son, -- someone who had been estranged from him for the better part of a year -- that said, dad, we're running out of food. We're running out of money. We're starving. We need some help. And that's when he got on a plane and got out here, Brooke. So, there is a lot of moving parts to this story. You can already see the storyline starting to take shape here from the defense and from the prosecution as well.

BALDWIN: Just the details keep getting worse and worse. Scott McClain, stay on it. Thank you so much in Taos.

Still ahead here, celebrities putting the pressure on Ivanka Trump to do something about family separations at the border. See what they're posting with the #dearIvanka.

Plus, I'll talk live to the Democratic who is poised to be the first Muslim woman elected to Congress ever, Rashida Tlaib explains what motivated her to run in a year full of female candidates.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: If there is one thing clear from Tuesday's primaries it is this. That women candidates are breaking all kinds of records. 182 women in both parties won their primaries in the U.S. House race, that beats the old record by 15. At the state level women have won 11 primaries for governor. And when you look at this, this is just for Michigan, for the first time Democrats will have an all-female statewide ticket. And on that list, Rashida Tlaib. She is poised to become the first Muslim woman in Congress in the country. And she is with me. Maybe semi bleary eyed from all of the evening and the morning and the 127 text message that is you woke up to this morning. Rashida, congratulations. Nice to have you on.

Rashida, Tlaib: Thank you so much, Brooke.

[15:50:00] BALDWIN: So, by all intents and purposes, you know, you will become the first female Muslim elected to Congress in this country and what an honor that is. But it's also -- that's a lot to carry. You tell me what that feels like.

RASHIDA TLAIB, (D), POISED TO BECOME FIRST MUSLIM WOMAN IN CONGRESS: It feels like a ton of bricks. But at the same time, I don't know, I think being the eldest of 14 children I think I can take anything else that comes up. I'm so grateful for the families of the 13th congressional district. For many people, out there that might not know, I mean, this is a predominantly African-American community and I am so humbled and honored to have gotten their support. And they have really truly believed in what I stand for which is really believing that everyone deserves to live in a just, fair society. And so, I'm excited. I'm thrilled. I'll ready to hit the ground running.

BALDWIN: 36,000 women are running for some sort of office in this country this year. And I've actually spent a lot of my summer on the weekends interviewing a number of them. And many of them actually told me in their own way that since Trump won in November of '16 that they realized if they don't stand up and run that they as women have everything to lose. And you were actually at an event, a Trump speech -- this is two years ago in Detroit -- and you, along with several others were forcibly removed from that speech for heckling. You tell me, Rashida, how much of your decision to run was shaped by this President?

TLAIB: I say this to a lot to people but it's true. I think President Trump being there in office getting elected was kind of a bat signal for women across the country. It was like it's our time. We have to march on and we can't stand outside of the ring anymore. We have to actually run for office and we have to demand to have a street at the table. Because it's obvious that everything else is falling apart and to have someone like him in office that talks like him. I mean, our children have to watch that. You know, hear that language and watch that kind of behavior. And so, absolutely, I think a lot of that drive does come from, you know, President Trump being in office. And just the culture and atmosphere that he brings to that office and to our country.

BALDWIN: Let's -- let me talk about your party, though. Because Democrats, they're obviously hoping to take the House back this fall. But there's been a battle brewing within the Democratic Party because you have this further left, you know, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you, wing, and then more establishment Democrats. And the wing that really, you know, endorsed you lost out last night. I'm wondering why do you think that your progressive message doesn't seem to be resonating with Democratic voters.

TLAIB: Look. I think what I hear from the 13th congressional district -- I don't know it's going -- I obviously here --

BALDWIN: Elsewhere. Obviously, the voted for you. Elsewhere, what's going on?

TLAIB: You know, I don't know. But I can tell you this. People do want something different. We don't want just somebody that introduces bills and votes the right way and goes home. We want somebody that kind of goes beyond that. Will fight not only in the community but even on the ground and pushing back against the hate rhetoric, in trying to deliver services to residents. People want somebody real, somebody that looks like them, that feels like them, that talks like them. And I think that is something that is been so much lacking in a lot of people that run for office on both sides of the party.

And I'm really thrilled that people haven't changed, you know, the way I look or dressed or the way I talk, and they feel like someone like them is now going to represent them in Congress. And I think that's what's lacking. You know, people talk about messaging, they talk about the other things that I think don't matter as much as getting someone that has gone through the same challenges. That can sense really why it's so important that we have a much better fighter and advocate for them in Congress.

BALDWIN: Well, Rashida Tlaib, congratulations again. And thank you so much.

TLAIB: Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Let's get you back to our breaking news. New York Congressman, Chris Collins, walking out of the court moments ago after being arraigned for insider trading. Pleading not guilty. Stay here.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Ivanka Trump today speaking at a roundtable in the Midwest touting her father's initiatives on work force training. While mega celebrities were targeting her on the social media feeds over the father's border separation policy. CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas is with me now. In I've noticed my own feed. I'm sure you've noticed. All these mega celebrities, Amy Schumer, et cetera, are all trying to send her a message.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes, so, Chelsea Handler, Amy Schumer, Cara Delevingne, they are posting this open letter that was started by members of the entertainment industry to say to Ivanka Trump, listen. You know, you flippantly spoke about this separation policy at an event last week. But it's about time that you wake up to the facts according to the letter because there's still over 500 children that haven't been reunited with their families. Also calling on her to ask for the resignation of the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Ivanka has yet to respond to this. But what is significant about this, Brooke, is because when celebrities that she follows are posting this on their Instagram feeds, that puts it on her Instagram feed. So, she is forced --

BALDWIN: She's going to get inundated by dear Ivanka, dear Ivanka.

MELAS: But I went through the 1,400 followers and that Ivanka follows twice. And she doesn't follow Chelsea Handler. So, Chelsea Handler, if you thought that Ivanka was following you, she is not. So, I don't know if this means Ivanka is now starting to unfollow celebrity's that are being vocal about President Trump's policies. But, Brooke, I also just want to tell you this is not the first time that celebrities have taken her to task on Instagram. There was an open letter they posted when Trump rescinded the DACA program last year and they did the same thing.

Hoping to take this message to the first daughter. We'll see if it will work. Chloe, thank you. Thank you for being with me.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.