Return to Transcripts main page


Roughly 100 Steelers Attend One of Today's Funerals; Local Leaders Decline to Join Trump in Pittsburgh; Trump Claims He Can Defy Constitution, End U.S. Birthright; Trump Lands in Pennsylvania After Synagogue Shooting. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 30, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] DAVID SHRIBMAN, LIVES THREE BLOCKS FOR TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: And I stopped and I said, oh, I need to give you a ride. And I she said, well why? I said, I thought it was unsafe for somebody to be on the street. She looked at me like I was mad.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's funny. You were talking about the Steelers. I just got a note that more than 100 members of the team of the Steelers, including the coach, actually went to the funeral -- one of the funerals today for David and Cecil.

SHRIBMAN: Well I'm not surprised. Because right down the street about -- you can see everything if you look really carefully, there's the home of the coach. So, he is about two blocks, about a long field goal on a good day from Tree of Life.

COOPER: You know, people talk about community a lot and you talk about community. One of the things that really strikes me here is that it is not just tolerance. It is welcoming, as you said. And we talked to a rabbi earlier, Wasi Mohamed, who has through the Muslim community has helped raise more than $150,000 at this point. And they've had a long relationship. It's not a relationship that just suddenly blossomed in front of television cameras in the last two days. And the rabbi was telling me he has had a relationship with the Muslim community here predating 9/11.

SHRIBMAN: Well this is not a photo opportunity for you guys and the rest of the guys around here. This is how we live.

COOPER: And I mean, I do think there is such an important message in that. I mean clearly this person who committed this horrific act wanted to divide people and wanted to sow division and sow fear and that has not happened here.

SHRIBMAN: And you do wonder why he came here. And whether he knew enough to come here because this is the epicenter of tolerance and the epicenter of respect.

COOPER: It's also, as you wrote in one of your pieces along with the lower east side of New York, I mean, it's really the epicenter -- or has been for a long time -- one epicenter of Jewish life in America.

SHRIBMAN: It's impossible to talk about the history of Jewish life in America without talking about four or five blocks around here. There are 11 synagogues within a five-minute walk of where we're standing right here, Anderson. It's where -- this is where reformed Judaism was created. This was where in the beginnings of the industrial age Jews were comfortable. They had ceremonies sometimes in church halls and sometimes in fire stations. And it was a place where they came with comfort and ease.

COOPER: One things, again, that has struck me today with Dr. Rabinowitz's funeral -- he sounds like just an extraordinary man

SHRIBMAN: Dr. Rabinowitz was the physician for our local editor.

COOPER: It that right?


COOPER: And obviously, and I've talked to others already, his work with HIV AIDS patients at a time when many people refuse to. For the two brothers, David and Cecil, who were really pillars of this congregation, for so many people to come to the funeral of two brothers who maybe they didn't even know personally, or they met and felt that they knew. It says so much about them.

SHRIBMAN: They saw in line and probably the only ice cream place in the country that a rabbi certifies as kosher, or maybe across the street. They're the only Dunkin' Donuts in the country that is certified kosher. We've seen these men walk our streets. They're part of the landscape of Pittsburgh.

COOPER: And such a turnout. It just says a lot about this community.

SHRIBMAN: We're seeing a lot ourselves. Thank you so much.

COOPER: Thank you, I appreciate it. Brooke, back to you. We'll have more from here in Pittsburgh in a moment.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I know you will. Speaking of, the President will be arriving there moments from now. So, will take that live. Also, Trump challenging the U.S. Constitution claiming, he can single-handedly in the practice of granting citizenship to anyone born in this country. So, will discuss whether this is just a stunt to rile up his base before midterms.


BALDWIN: President Trump is doubling down on his scare tactics to voters one week before the midterms. Just take the immigration issue. He is calling asylum seekers invaders, joining a chorus of conservative personalities echoing the same talking points. This week Fox News used the word "invasion" in relation to the migrant caravan more than 60 times. And over on Fox Business, more than 75. Trump is sending 5,000 troops to the US-Mexico border and now he is threatening to end birthright citizenship. But something that is ingrained in the U.S. Constitution, with an executive order.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How ridiculous. We're the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end.


BALDWIN: To be clear, he's wrong. The U.S. is one of at least 30 countries around the world with birthright citizenship. So, with me now, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. And Thiru Vignarajah, a federal prosecutor who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. And Thiru, I want to begin with you just on the Constitution peace. I've got some sound. This is just in. This is House Speaker Paul Ryan commenting on this moments ago.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, you obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. We didn't like it when Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action and obviously as conservatives we believe in the Constitution. You know, as a conservative, I'm a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution and I think in this case the 14th amendment is pretty clear. And that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process. But where we obviously totally agree with the President is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration.


[15:40:03] BALDWIN: So again, Thiru, to quote Speaker Ryan, this obviously cannot be done, correct?

THIRU VIGNARAJAH, FORMER MARYLAND DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: No, that's exactly right. I mean, there is no precedent, there is no legal authority, there is no legitimate basis to this suggestion. The last time this argument was taken seriously was literally Dred Scott. Which was then promptly overruled explicitly by the 14th amendment to the Constitution. It's not just that he can't do it by Executive Order, it would require an amendment to the constitution to try to open the door to evaporate birthright citizenship.

We are -- timing is noteworthy -- Gloria Borger, you've just written about this. We are seven days before the midterms. We know you've been writing about the President's attempts to fire up his base. That's really what this is all about.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. It's kind of throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. He bemoaned after the pipe bomber that he was losing momentum in the midterm elections. What he's trying to do is get his momentum back. So, it's this. It's the need -- he says, OK, Republicans are going to protect preexisting condition, I'm going to pass a tax cut for the middle class somehow, sometime before the election when Congress -- I might remind you -- is not even in town. You know, sending the 5,000 troops to the border. All of this is kind of a piece.

And also, I went back and looked at President Trump's Twitter feed -- because you know there's always a tweet for everything -- and in 2012 after President Obama issued the executive action on DREAMers, he called it -- he called these actions major power grabs of authority.

BALDWIN: How about that. How about that. Twitter works for him, works against him. But I mean, you talk about momentum. I mean, essentially then the momentum would be a total abdication of responsibility. This is the President of the United States who is supposed to be in office and uphold the Constitution. And he is trying to defy the Constitution, tying it to the caravan. Tying it to the "invasion". It's fear mongering -- Gloria.

BORGER: Well look, I think elections are always about fear to a certain degree but Donald Trump likes to campaign on that. I mean, this is what he does. He gets people riled up. It works for him. He has to have an enemy in order to succeed. So, the caravan has to be the enemy. The Democrats, of course, it's an election, have to be the enemy. And so, he finds things, he finds things that he can latch on to as he's, you know, as he's doing here saying we should not allow birthright citizenship because he wants to rile up his base and the Democrats want to let all these people in. You know, this is his M.O. we've watched it for years now. In a way we shouldn't be surprised by it, except that he can't do any of it.

BALDWIN: He can't do this -- hang on. Because if you flip the script, Thiru, wouldn't this be the same thing as if you had a Democratic President who wanted to sign an executive order to change the second amendment on guns. You can't do that.

VIGNARAJAH: That's exactly right, Brooke. And it's even worse. I think he knows he can't do that. This is one of those things where whether it's building the wall at the expense of Mexico or passing a big tax cut when Congress isn't in session, he just says these things because he knows he's going to get a reaction. What I think is so troubling is not just the complete lack of precedent for this, it's also the fact that the timing comes -- of course it's a prelection stunt. But the country is reeling from politically motivated threats, from hate-infused slaughter in Pittsburgh. And our leaders in history have come forward to try to bring us together in these moments and instead to instead to inject divisiveness and sow chaos at a moment like this is just so irresponsible. But, as Gloria said, it's exactly what we've come to expect from the President.

BORGER: I think people is confused, Brooke. Because he likes to hit, but now people want him to hug people. And you know, empathy is not his strong suit.

BALDWIN: No, I would like to say, just read the Patty Davis piece in "The Washington Post" yesterday. Right. I mean, that to me I'm going to print that out and stick that on my wall. Any time someone tries to think that in moments like these you're going to have the President try to pull off a Kumbaya, it isn't going to happen. But went you go back to what the President is trying to do, Thiru, this final question. I mean, it is like I said, it's the President's job -- is it not the President's job to uphold the Constitution and not try to sit there and change it?

VIGNARAJAH: Absolutely. I mean, every one of us, his lawyer, public officials, take an oath to uphold the Constitution and to try to write out something as important as the citizenship clause to the 14th amendment is just irresponsible. I think he thinks Americans aren't going to figure this out, that we can't walk and chew gum.

[15:45:00] I think he's going to be proven wrong. We're going to not only object to this outrage today. We're going to vote against anyone who supported it tomorrow.

BALDWIN: Seven days. Gloria Borger, Thiru, thank you very much. Appreciate you.

Coming up, we will take you back to Pittsburgh where the President just landed moments ago. Also, more breaking news, the Justice Department is now investigating Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for possibly using his office for personal gain. Those details ahead.


BALDWIN: As a community is mourning in Pittsburgh, we are just now getting the first images of about 100 members of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization paying their respects at the services for David and Cecil Rosenthal, the two brothers who were killed in the synagogue shooting Saturday morning. The Rosenthal's' sister, Michelle, used to be a community relations manager for the football team, and their presence just another symbol of how greatly this tragedy has really touched this entire city.

And I also just want to take a moment here just to remember, 97-year- old Rose Mallinger, another one of those 11 lives lost at the massacre of the Tree of Life synagogue. And her family released a statement, and I'd like to read the whole thing for you.

Rose was Bubby. That's Yiddish for grandma to everyone in our family and our beloved community. She was a pillar of the Jewish community and the Tree of Life synagogue, which she was part of for over six decades. The synagogue was the center of her very active life. She was there every weekend, and the people of the congregation brought her great joy as she brought to them.

Her involvement with the synagogue went beyond the Jewish religion. It was an integral part of her life. It was her place to be social, to be active, and to meet family and friends. Family was everything to Bubby. She was one of six siblings. She had three children, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild. She loved us and knew us better than we knew ourselves.

To Bubby, age was truly just a number. She retained her sharp wit, humor and intelligence until the very last day. No matter what obstacles she faced, she never complained. She did everything she wanted to do in her life. We will truly miss her presence and company.

They end with this. This is a time for our family to be together and to grieve the loss of

a loved one. We request that the media respect our privacy. We will not be granting any further interviews at this time.

So just one of the stories and just how this community has wrapped themselves around this synagogue. And really, I think the world is feeling so much of this. Gloria Borger is back with me. And, you know, it's the feeling and it's the faith of this community. And now it's a little bit of the politics in the sense of the President, live pictures of Air Force One waiting to see Trump as he is now in Pittsburgh today. And I know a number of local leaders, even members of Congress, you know -- either didn't want him to go or aren't going with him. And what's your reaction to his desire to be there?

BORGER: First of all, I have to talk about that letter. You know, I'm Jewish. And, you know, everyone has a Bubby in their family. And, you know, it's hard. Thinking of the President, look, he wanted to come. He wanted to pay his respects. The Jewish community is divided. And, you know, some felt that today is a day of burial. As you know, Jews bury their dead quickly and that he shouldn't have inserted himself into this. But he is the President of the United States, and some said, you know, he should be welcome in this community, as David Shribman was talking earlier to Anderson. You know, this is a community that welcomes everybody, so, there are going to be divisions. I think, obviously, what we're watching for is a President who has been unable to be empathetic and a consoler and play the pastoral role that Presidents are very often required to play.

BALDWIN: There they are.

BORGER: And here he is with Melania. So, we'll just -- you know, it's a very, very somber moment. Not only for this community, but for the country and for all of us for whom family is so important.

BALDWIN: You know, listening to the rabbi from the synagogue, would welcome this President. This is a -- it's a welcoming faith. It was shabbat service on Saturday morning. Anyone could have walked in those synagogue doors and attended. And, you know, to see the President and the first lady obviously there to pay their respects but after this, the President has all those different rallies ahead of the midterms, and this was the day that he could make it.

[15:55:00] What do you think -- just in 60 seconds -- what do think he needs to -- and there's Ivanka and Jared Kushner -- what do they need to do to say? Or is their presence enough?

BORGER: I think they just need to embrace everyone. I think there needs to be a sense this cannot happen, cannot stand. Should not happen in this country. I think you just leave the politics aside. And we'll what happens later in the week. But, you know, this is a moment for mourning and it's a moment for community. And it's a moment for the country. And I think that everything else kind of has to fade away when you think of someone like Bubby, who got murdered at 97 in a temple. That's all you can do, is try and hug people back.

BALDWIN: Gloria, thank you. We're back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, President Trump is sending more U.S. service members to the U.S./Mexico border than there are fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria? Do I have that right? "THE LEAD" starts right now.

Too soon. President Trump in Pittsburgh right now.