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AT THIS HOUR
Trump Says Blue Wave Dead, Pelosi Says Dems Will Win House; Trump Says He'll End Birthright Citizenship with Executive Order; Donnelly Says Open to Legislation to End Birthright Citizenship; Bowers Pleads Not Guilty in Synagogue Shooting; More Funerals Today for Synagogue Shooting Victims; Oprah, Obama, Pence, Trump to Stump in Georgia for Governor's Race; Trump Names Heather Nauert to Replace U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired November 1, 2018 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] REP. BEN RAY LUJAN, (D), NEW MEXICO: We built a strategy surrounding our candidates, built around our candidates. We're investing in over 80 seats as of today and counting. We built the largest battlefield we have seen in recent memory with the goal of having many paths to secure the back the majority of the House of Representatives. Early voting is up across many parts of America and our candidates are doing well --
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as you know, Congressman, early voting doesn't say anything about which way folks are -
LUJAN: No --
BOLDUAN: The more the better.
LUJAN: That's right, the more the better, all across America.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, so you're saying you're confident the Dems will win back the House. Then you don't think Nancy Pelosi -- you agree with Nancy Pelosi. You don't think she got out in front of herself. No problem, no trepidation that Dems are going to take back the majority?
LUJAN: I never said this would be easy, Kate. We made sure that we had a strategy that would leave no stone unturned. But I have been saying for several weeks, based on the trends and the data, the strength of our candidates, many that are military veterans, CIA officers, FBI agents, many with records of service keeping our country safe, that they're in a strong position to win back the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
BOLDUAN: Guaranteed? You're confident. Guaranteed though?
LUJAN: I'm confident. Look, there's no guarantee with anything. But when you look at the data, the trends, the strength of our candidates, the lack of recruitment that came from the National Republican Campaign Committee, each and every one of our incumbents are in a strong position, and we're challenging every Republican currently held-open seat across America. And we're also challenging Republican incumbents, going deep into the map. So again, I'm confident that we will win back the majority in just five short days. As long as the American people show up to vote, again, nothing is guaranteed, but I'm confident in where we are today.
BOLDUAN: The final argument from President Trump, if there was any question, he seemed to make it clear overnight with this video that he put out that paints immigrants from Central America as violent criminals. He ran on this as well in 2016. And you guys lost. What do you do about it today?
LUJAN: Look, the president this last week suggested that he's going to somehow amend the U.S. Constitution by the use of an executive order. One, he can't do that. It's not allowed. It's simply unconstitutional and un-American. And I think the American people are seeing through that. It's why his approach, especially in amending the 14th Amendment, is so unpopular across America. And, look, the president's charges towards Democrats, especially on border security, are simply false. We're working to pass comprehensive immigration reform that also includes investments in border security, that is strong, that is smart, that is fair. And making sure that we're doing everything we can to carry out our oath of keeping people and our country safe. That's what we do. It's where our candidates are. And, again, I think the American people are seeing through what the president is doing today.
BOLDUAN: You mention birthright citizenship. The president is forcing some Democratic candidates in tough races to answer some tough questions on that very issue.
Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, he's in a tough re- election. He was asked about it, about birthright citizenship. He said he's open to looking at legislation that would end that constitutional protection. Is that how you want your Democratic candidates to be answering that question today?
LUJAN: Well, look, if you're asking me, my position on this, I think that right now that the president cannot and should not amend the 14th Amendment. I think that birthright citizenship is something that embraces American values. And it's who I am as an individual. But make no mistake, the president is going to try do everything he can to change the conversation away from what we were talking --
BOLDUAN: What does it say that Joe Donnelly -- Joe Donnelly believes it or feels he has to say it, that he's open to looking at legislation that the president was talking about.
LUJAN: Well, Joe -- look, I respect Joe Donnelly very much. I think he's a strong U.S. representative. His constituents support him and respect him. But if you're asking my position, I'm being clear about where I stand on this particular issue.
BOLDUAN: Congressman Lujan, thank you so much. No rest for you coming up in the next few days. I appreciate your time.
LUJAN: Five days, Kate.
Make sure that you're turning out to vote, America.
[11:34:01] BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Congressman.
Coming up for us, what do Oprah, Obama, Trump, and Pence all have in common? I'll help you out. It seems almost zero. They're all descending on Georgia for one of the nation's hottest midterm races. Details on that ahead.
BOLDUAN: The man accused of carrying out the deadliest attack on Jews in American history just pleaded not guilty. He was back in court this morning. A federal grand jury has indicted him on 44 counts for the horrific tragedy that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
That synagogue and that Pittsburgh community is focused, though, today, their focus today is on the victims, their lives, their legacy, and their loved ones. Gathering for a third straight day of funerals, a devoted couple and beloved dentist will be laid to rest today.
CNN's Jean Casarez is in Pittsburgh and joins me now.
Jean, you were in court for how it played out this morning. First, what happened there?
[11:39:34] JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the arraignment. And now the case is bound for district court.
But the defendant walked in today. He was not wheeled in in a wheelchair. He had a red prison garb on. He had shackles on his ankles. He had shackles at his waist. He had handcuffs on. But he walked very well. He had a large bandage on his left arm, thick bandage, white, and it was almost his entire upper arm. He's a very large man. Extremely large. And when he got to the defense table to sit between the two defense attorneys, the federal law enforcement actually took a key, an actual key, and undid his handcuffs. He nodded.
I looked at him straight on as he walked into that courtroom. And I don't know subjectively what was going on in his mind. I have no idea, but outwardly, objectively, looking at him, I saw a look on his face that the only way I can describe it would be smug.
He sat down. His defense attorneys began to speak with him. He was acknowledging what they were saying. He appeared to understand what they were saying. Understood, acknowledged. He went like this to even greet them to begin with. When the proceeding got going, it was the assistant U.S. attorney that
stood up, and this is now the arraignment, and began, turned to him and began to read to him the groups of charges, such as the intentional of the exercise with force of your exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death. He listened to every single category of charges. He had his entire face turned, sitting down, looking at the assistant U.S. attorney. The smugness was gone. He just listened. He nodded after every group of charges. Then, the male assistant U.S. attorney stood up, faced the defendant who was still sitting, to describe the potential charges. And of course, we know this can be a death penalty case, so that's what was read off. The defendant listened. He acknowledged. He went like this after every single charge that had the potential of the death penalty. When the assistant U.S. attorney finished and said, are you aware of the possible penalties, the nodding changed. And there was a -- like that from the defendant. Very strong nod. And then the magistrate judge talked about the length of the trial and the assistant district attorney said it would be three to four weeks in length. Also if the attorney general of the United States certifies this as a death penalty case, it will go longer.
So now, the case is bound over to the U.S. district court. It is bound for trial. Now the discovery will begin, and then we will now have proceedings with U.S. district court judge, Donetta Ambrose -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Jean, at the same time, the legal process now plays out. That process, as you perfectly described, that plays out.
But also, the focus for that community and the focus for all of us though still remains the victims in this. There are more funerals held today, three more funerals. You have been there covering it as the days have continued. Tell us about these folks today who will be laid to rest and how they will be remembered.
CASAREZ: You know, Kate, we first have a married couple. They were both in the synagogue, Sylvan and Bernice Simon, 84 and 86 years old. They'll have their funeral today, beginning very, very shortly. They not only were murdered in that synagogue. They were married in that synagogue over 60 years ago. A marriage announcement in the Pittsburgh "Post-Gazette" from 1956 describes the bride, as she carried her Bible, she had her white orchids, and she had white Chantilly lace on her wedding gown.
Later on today will be a noted dentist in this community, Richard Gottfried. His funeral will be later on. His wife, who is surviving, is also a dentist. They had their own dental practice in this community. They volunteered at dental clinics, wherever dentists were needed. Even at Tree of Life when they needed dental services, they were there for them.
Those are the three funerals that are attending today. So different, far different than this federal courthouse, but as you can see, there's a defendant and those court proceedings have to continue -- Kate?
[11:44:04] BOLDUAN: Jean, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: Power players, star power, whatever you want to call it, they are turning out for one of the nation's hottest governor's races. Oprah Winfrey, former President Barack Obama both headed to Georgia to campaign for Democrat Stacey Abrams, who hopes to become the first black female Senator in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STACEY ABRAMS, (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm excited to have Oprah come because she's trusted by all. And she has a story of upliftment and humanity that I think resonates across communities. And on Friday, we're excited to welcome President Barack Obama back to Georgia. I think having both of their voices added to the mix sends the signal of the kind of Georgia I want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Big names turning out for the Republican candidates as well. Mike Pence will soon be landing in Georgia to stump for the current secretary of state of Georgia, Brian Kemp. President Trump is headed there this weekend.
So what is it about Georgia right now at this point in the race?
Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston, and CNN senior political reporter, Nia Malika Henderson.
Nia, we've talked about this before, especially right now. Star power did not help Democrats in 2016. Is it different when you are talking about Oprah and Obama and campaigning in 2018?
NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think sure. It's different because in sure. It's different because in Georgia, you have got this candidate in Stacey Abrams who is keeping it close in a race that's basically tied. We didn't really see this in a state like Georgia in 2014. In Georgia in 2014, I think Michelle Obama may have gone down and rallied voters, but you have big star power in Oprah and Obama. Oprah endorsed Obama and a lot of the data show she shifted a million votes to his side. That made an impact. This race is going to be about the black turn out and rural turn out on both sides. That's why you are going to see star power for him down there with Vice President Pence as well, and on the Democratic side as well. Can you get the rural black voter who is might need you to go to their homes and provide them a ride to the polling station? This is going to be about logistics. Typically, you see that the Democratic Party infrastructure has not been that strong. Over the last couple of years, they made an investment in that state, particularly, Abrams, who has been registering voters for years. This will be a barn burner to the very end.
[11:51:07] BOLDUAN: Mark, you've both been watching this race and tracking this race so closely. What do you think at this point?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: A couple of things. One is, 20 years ago, I was a newspaper reporter in Marietta, Georgia, where Oprah Winfrey will be campaigning on behalf of Stacey Abrams. When we talk about the south and the changing demographics, and Georgia as an example, that's a conversation piece. And 20 years ago, you wouldn't see Oprah Winfrey rallying the troops for Stacey Abrams. Certainly in the south, as you see from a lot of influx of northerners who moved on for low taxes, the companies moved down there, you get folks moving in who don't have social conservative values. That's a changing of the new south. You look at Stacey Abrams, and talks about knife fights, this will be a knife fight because she knows how to engage in this fighting, as does Kemp, the secretary of state of Georgia. It will be an ugly one to the wire.
BOLDUAN: You could see some of that fighting in the final debate. Brian Kemp just pulled out of the final debate. He wants to appear at a campaign rally with Donald Trump which is scheduled at the same time. What does that say about what Brian Kemp needs or thinks he needs to win, Mark?
HENDERSON: I think they both need the base to turn out. The reason Brian Kemp is in this race going down the wire in the general election is because of Donald Trump. He's a Trump-style candidate. Donald Trump endorsed him. He needs those folks who love Trump, who are emotionally invested in Trumpism to show out for him. He likely thinks it's more important to be on stage next to Donald Trump rather than debating Stacey Abrams.
PRESTON: Same thing. The fact of the matter is, Kemp will win whether or not Donald Trump is able to get his supporters out in Georgia. We talk about the changing demographics in the south. We are not quite there yet. But this will be interesting to use as a base line moving forward how our country is changing.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you guys. Thank you.
HENDERSON: Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: We're have breaking news coming in about a possible replacement for outgoing U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is in Washington with more on this.
Kaitlan, what are you learning?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we've heard that President Trump is saying that Heather Nauert, the current State Department spokesman, is his top candidate to replace Nikki Haley as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and he could offer her the job as soon as this week. President Trump has met with Heather Nauert at the White House on Monday and discussed the position. And he met with several other people as well. But, Kate, he is telling people that Heather Nauert is his favorite for the job. If he does offer her the job and she does formally accept, she would leave the State Department where she served as the press secretary not only under Mike Pompeo, but also under Rex Tillerson.
There could be questions about whether she has the diplomatic experience for this position. Typically, people who have years of diplomatic experience are the people to take this job as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Now, another question it could raise is, who is going to be the next White House press secretary. Kate, we have long known that people in the White House had pushed Heather Nauert as a possible replacement for Sarah Sanders to take the job. People in the White House eyed her for that position because President Trump enjoys watching Heather Nauert when she does those State Department briefings and he thinks she is really good on television. Which she does, as you know, Kate, have a history in that. So we'll see if that happens. But we do know that Heather Nauert is the top candidate for the job -- Kate?
[11:55:01] BOLDUAN: You're getting a sense of how close the president is to making this decision? There have been a few top candidates at this point.
COLLINS: He's pretty close. He said she is his favorite, but he interviewed several other people. Right now, it seems this is his favorite.
BOLDUAN: All right, new top candidate to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations as Nikki Haley will be leaving soon.
Kaitlan, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Coming up, President Trump set to speak from the White House this afternoon. The topic is immigration. Details ahead.