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Shutdown Stalls Bill Addressing Violence Against Native American Women; Interview With Former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp; Republican Party Embroiled in Racial Controversy; Some Republicans Urging Trump to Declare National Emergency to Build Border Wall. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired January 11, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISAAC MIZRAHI, FASHION DESIGNER: I think it's just such an incredible sort of ground zero right now for fashion and style.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Make sure to tune in. The all-new series CNN original series "AMERICAN STYLE" premiers this Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern only on CNN.
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.
Hours from now, the U.S. will it hit the point of its longest government shutdown in American history. But, already, some 800,000 workers are seeing this, a big, fat zero in their paychecks today in the first pay period since the government shutdown began.
And millions more are directly impacted, the families of those workers, the contractors who haven't been able to work, families who, like three out of four Americans, live paycheck to paycheck, who are worried about paying rent, who are worried about the mortgage, paying for groceries, for medicine, for gas, for day care.
They are the ones worried and fearful today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOANNA MCCELLAND, FEDERAL EMPLOYEE: Physically, like, it just -- it makes you sick. It is. It's a pit in your stomach. It's worries. It's just emotions. And you don't know when this is all going to sort itself out.
LYNN STRATTON, FEDERAL EMPLOYEE: I have enough for one more mortgage payment, then I got to go to CarMax tomorrow and sell my car.
QUESTION: You're going to sell your car?
STRATTON: I have to.
QUESTION: You can't dip into your savings, borrow some money?
STRATTON: No, savings is gone. GENE BERTELSEN, FEDERAL EMPLOYEE: I blame them all.
BERTELSEN: Equally, because neither one of them wants to give anything, and that's not fair to us.
QUESTION: If you're saying, hey, they're not wanting to compromise or give anything, how do you see this ending?
BERTELSEN: Frankly, I don't know. And that's really scary.
JACQUELINE MALONEY, FEDERAL EMPLOYEE: It is affecting everything. As I said, I have been sick. I don't want to go to the doctor and spend even the money for a co-pay.
My daughter came to me when school was ready to start back here in Atlanta, and she said: "Mom, I don't have to have a snack." Excuse me. It's very upsetting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Meantime, our airports are at risk, food inspection is at risk, America's credit rating, the work of the FBI. I could go on and on and on, national parks closed, filled with trash.
And this just in. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican, has just issued his second statement in the last 24 hours, and this one even more urgently calls for President Trump to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall or some type of barrier at the southern border.
The senator from South Carolina said this -- quote -- "I just met with President Trump and his team. It is clear to both of us that Democrats don't want to make a deal and will never support border walls, barriers on President Trump's watch, even though they did so in the past. Mr. President, declare a national emergency now. Build a wall now."
That is Lindsey Graham today, but, under President Obama, Senator Graham, along with Senator Mitch McConnell, had a very different tune when it came to a president going out on his own.
I want you to listen to these senators outraged over an Obama executive order on immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is wrong is. It's irresponsible and will do damage our efforts to fix a broken immigration system. This is a tremendous presidential overreach.
I will try to defund the effort for him to go it alone. We will challenge him in court.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Imposing his will unilaterally may seem tempting, it may serve him politically in the short-term, but he knows it will make an already broken system even more broken. And he knows this is not how democracy is supposed to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's start here with Dana Bash, our CNN chief political correspondent, and Nia-Malika Henderson, our CNN senior political reporter.
Dana, Lindsey Graham, a few years ago said one thing, a few years later under this Republican president says something totally different. What's up?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, it's not the first time -- what is the old adage? Where you stand depends on where you sit. And this is a classic example.
I mean, you could probably spend the whole two hours of your program...
BALDWIN: Showing clips.
BASH: ... showing clips of Republicans talking about President Obama as the imperial president. Who does he think he is? He's not a king. He's just one of three branches of government.
Having said that, we are where we are. And do I think that Lindsey Graham or others who are saying, OK, fine, just do this national emergency really think that's the best course? Absolutely not. Nobody thinks it's a good idea on the Republican side.
But they also see where we are. And where we are is what you just played, before the political clips, the more important clips that you played, that you started with, the federal workers who have to sell their cars or are worried about co-pays for their child's health care.
BASH: I mean, that is just disgusting.
And so the question is how you get to a point where things -- what's going to change, what's going to shake things up? Is it a national emergency?
I mean, I talked to somebody who said that, even if -- yesterday, I think it was, or the day before, this week, we were talking about that would be his...
BALDWIN: His exit ramp.
BASH: Exit ramp, the president.
But now it's an open question about whether that would even work to open the government, because there are mechanisms that the Democrats in the House have and others to -- first of all, they could just not vote on a spending package that would reopen the government.
BALDWIN: To be clear, it's not like, bang, trigger mechanism, government opens. It's like a multitude of...
BASH: It's not. It's not. So it's unclear if that would even work.
The Democrats who now lead the House, they don't want to talk -- in fairness to, you know, looking at both sides of this process, they don't want to give an inch on this wall. They haven't from the beginning. They're not going to do it for lots of reasons, both tactical and policy.
And then you have -- we know where the president stands. So something has to change. They're trying to work on it in the Senate, but it hasn't gotten anywhere.
BALDWIN: So these federal workers, they're home, and that's not their choice. Right?
And so, Nia, then you have members of Congress who have just left Capitol Hill because clearly they're seeing neither side is budging. But at the same time, come on. Like, talk it through.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's right, yes.
BALDWIN: Let me play this clip, though.
This is Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski as she is, I believe, on her way home to Alaska. But this is at least what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I'm a little bit frustrated though. Wednesday, Thursday, yesterday afternoon at 1:45, we had our last vote, and folks pretty much skedaddled for the airport.
Well, I'm here. My trip is a little bit longer. And so there's not a lot of folks to be talking to right now, if we want to engage in these discussions about how we in the legislative branch might be able to offer a path forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: How can these members of Congress go home at a time like this.
Well, one of the things, the reality is they really don't have anything to do, unless Mitch McConnell decides to bring up any of these bills that have been passed out of the House. So, in some ways, maybe they will go home.
They're clearly going to get an earful from their constituents. You think about somebody like Lisa Murkowski representing Alaska, lots of federal workers there. And we know she has in some ways broken with the GOP in calling for some sort of compromise and maybe based on what's coming out of the House.
So I think sort of symbolically it looks terrible for a lot of these senators and House members, particularly the ones that are still taking their salaries, right, which I think is the majority of them. You have had some come out and say they don't want to take their salaries, they will donate them to charity.
But certainly most of them are taking their salaries and not doing what they were elected to do, which is to keep the government open and fund the government.
BALDWIN: As you were talking, I was just handed this piece of paper. And so apparently the president just said this in a roundtable meeting.
Quoting him now: "What we're not looking to do right now is national emergency."
Dana, so this is what he's saying publicly, not the national emergency.
BASH: He's being urged very vehemently, I'm told by people close to him, to not do it, for the myriad of reasons that we have talked about when it comes to the policy and the courts and the precedent to not do it.
So it's interesting that he came out and said that flat out right now. I think it's also because they kind of started to game it out, and never mind the precedent and the fact that they might lose in court. But I think they realize what we were just talking about, that even if he declares a national emergency, the hope then would be to get his money for the wall and then that would free up the Congress to reopen the government, pass the funds needed to reopen the government.
BASH: There was no guarantee that that would actually happen in Congress.
BALDWIN: But how is -- OK, so if that's -- if that's not a good look, then, Nia, what about this notion?
I just talked to a guy lost his home and Paradise, California, this whole idea that the White House is considering using disaster relief fund from places like Puerto Rico and Florida and Texas and California to build this border barrier.
How is that a plausible solution?
HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, none of this is a good look, as you say. I mean, you talk about the national emergency, not a good look for certain reasons, never mind the kind of hypocrisy of Republicans backing a president who is doing something like that, so you see the president backing off of that.
But then this idea that they're going to take money from vulnerable places, Puerto Rico, Texas -- California obviously had those wildfires -- all of this, I mean, there's really no easy way out of this.
And the reason that the country and these poor a federal workers and the businesses that rely on these federal workers are at this point in this situation is because the president walked away from a deal he had initially agreed to accept to keep the government open.
And there's -- and, at this point, you have Democrats also who don't want to co-sign on what they see as a symbol of the president's race- baiting. That's what -- that's how they see the wall. And so that's why it's going to be impossible to get the most diverse caucus that the Democrats have ever seen to vote for something that they feel like would be a representation of the president's issues around race.
BALDWIN: Let me -- speaking of, let me move on to this. The White House is now responding today to this controversy surrounding Republican Congressman Steve King, saying President Trump is more focused on the shutdown and not this Iowa congressman.
Congressman King is coming under fire after posing this rhetorical question to "The New York Times," and I quote: "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization, how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"
Yes, that from a sitting member of Congress. Now, his colleague on the Senate side, Republican Senator Tim Scott, just responded in "The Washington Post." He wrote this whole op-ed. Let me just quote part of it. He said: "Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism. It is because of our silence when things like this are said. When people with opinions similar to Congressman Steve King's open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand, but also our nation as a whole."
Congressman King just addressed this, his comments, the blowback, on the House floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Today, "The New York Times" is suggesting that I'm an advocate for white nationalism and white supremacy.
I want to make one thing abundantly clear. I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define. Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology, which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of six million innocent Jewish lives. It's true that, like the founding fathers, I am an advocate for
Western civilization's values, and that I profoundly believe that America is the greatest tangible expression of these ideals the world has ever seen.
Under any fair political definition, I am simply an American nationalist. I regret the heartburn that has poured forth upon this Congress in this country, and especially in my state and in my congressional district.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, Nia, let me start with you here.
And, again, this isn't the first time or the second time or the third time that Steve King has done this,but the words from Senator Scott, he stopped short of calling for action taken. But what did you think of what he wrote?
HENDERSON: Well, you got to remember who Tim Scott is. Tim Scott from North Charleston, he is someone who knew those folks who were killed in Mother Emanuel in June of 2015. He especially knew Clementa Pinckney, who was one of the reverends there.
So he knows the reality of what it means when white supremacy meets violence -- which is a violent ideology. And it came to bear here in this church when those nine people were killed. So it's not surprising that he has spoken out.
It is surprising in some ways to see him evolve in such a way, right? If you think about who he was when he first got into Congress, he wasn't someone who really spoke out on race. In many ways, this is the bargain that black Republicans have to make. Right? They don't really speak out publicly on race, and when they do, it's often condemning Democrats, right?
So now he's in this position post what happened in Charleston and in this environment where you have a president who spoke after Charlottesville, basically saying that Nazis were on the same moral plane as the folks who were anti-Nazis.
So this is where he is. I think we're going to see more from Tim Scott. You have seen a similar sort of evolution, I think, from Mia Love, who's one of our contributors now. She also was in some ways reluctant to talk about race in her party and certainly when she was in Congress.
And as she was leaving Congress, a concession speech, she had very harsh words for her own party in terms of some of the rhetoric out of people like Steve King and including the president.
BALDWIN: So, more from Tim Scott, nothing from the president, focused on the shutdown.
BASH: Right. Yes.
I mean, the point that Tim Scott was making is, you have to condemn these.
BALDWIN: You have to.
BASH: And it shouldn't take a black senator to do that. It just shouldn't.
And -- but just the broader context is, we have heard about Steve King in recent months because of these racially charged statements that he's made.
BALDWIN: Still gets reelected.
BASH: He gets reelected.
But he has been what the Republican establishment, what they used to call the establishment, on the fringe of that forever, forever and ever. And so it's not -- I think that the people who serve with him are so used to him saying outrageous things -- maybe not racially outrageous, but just outrageous in general -- that they have become numb to it.
And they're realizing that you can't be numb to these kinds of statements.
BALDWIN: You cannot at all.
Dana Bash, thank you. And, Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you.
BASH: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, former Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp camp joins me live. We will get her take on our breaking news, her old colleague Senator Lindsey Graham calling for the president to declare this national emergency on the border.
Plus, a stunning development in the case of a 13-year-old girl who'd been missing for months. Jayme Closs found alive today, and the man suspected of kidnapping her and killing the parents is now under arrest. We're hearing for the first time for the woman who found her.
BALDWIN: As the government shutdown nears the longest one in U.S. history, senators have gone home for the weekend. And a piece of crucial, potentially lifesaving legislation is on hold.
It's called Savanna's Act. And it's designed to address the alarming amount of violence against Native American women. On some reservations, the murder rate for women is 10 times higher than the national average. Former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp first introduced the bill in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old Native woman who was abducted and killed in Fargo, North Dakota, in August of 2017 while eight months pregnant.
Another woman, Ashley Loring HeavyRunner, has been missing in Montana since June of 2017. Her sister testified before Congress last month, saying she doesn't think investigators are taking their cases seriously.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIMBERLY LORING HEAVYRUNNER, SISTER OF MISSING WOMAN: I believe that if the law enforcement would have searched for my sister when she first went missing, if they would have taking her seriously, we would have my sister, and we wouldn't have to search for 18 months through the wind and three feet of snow, being chased by grizzly bears, wondering, is my sister in the mountains, knowing that there is grizzly bears all over the Rocky Mountains?
Is my sister up there? If they would have taken her serious as a person, because we are important, I believe that my sister would have been here or we would had closure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Stories like Ashley's so stunning, even Hollywood is paying attention. Last year,the blockbuster film "Wind River" was inspired by the true story of a woman murdered in Wyoming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WIND RIVER")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This is very prosecutable as a murder. I mean, clearly, she wouldn't been running through the snow if she hadn't been attacked. But I can't list the cause of death as homicide.
ELIZABETH OLSEN, ACTRESS: And I can't get an FBI team to the reservation unless it's listed as a homicide.
Look, I'm not here to solve this. I'm just here to obtain a cause of death and send a team here that can.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Look, present the rape. Present the assault and then...
OLSEN: Those don't fall to the jurisdiction of the FBI. They fall to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
GRAHAM GREENE, ACTOR: Hey, don't look at me. I'm used to no help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp is with me now live.
Senator, a pleasure to have you. Thank you so much. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Thank you so much for having
me on, Brooke, and thank you for bringing national attention to this epidemic.
BALDWIN: I wanted -- let's talk about these women. What is happening to Native American women in this country either going missing or getting killed? Why?
HEITKAMP: Well, this isn't something that's new. This is something that's been going on generation after generation.
And so many people in Indian country and so many families get discouraged, they don't even report it. They don't follow up. They just don't have any expectation that they will ever get justice. And it's about time we have this discussion.
This was initially led by our friends in Canada with First Nation indigenous women there, and we have picked up that mantle.
Susan -- or Lisa and myself then started talking about the kinds of statistics that should never happen in this country as it relates to not just indigenous women, but children and also men. And so I'm hopeful that Savanna's Act will get passed.
I have left it in very capable, incredible hands of Lisa Murkowski. And I know she's equally committed to getting this across the finish line. So I'm grateful for her always, but I'm grateful for people who will continue to bring attention to this problem.
The "Wind River," when people watched that, they would say, oh, this is exaggerated, it's Hollywood. And I would just say, no, it's not. It's not exaggerated. This is what happens in Indian country, and it needs to stop.
BALDWIN: You can't exaggerate it when you also look at the numbers, Senator.
According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, the National Crime Information Center cited 5,712 reports of slain or missing Native American women and girls in 2016, but only 116 of those cases were logged into a Department of Justice database.
And I know you have spoken to some of the families. Why do you think this is happening? Why, when you listen to these families, do they feel that law enforcement doesn't care?
HEITKAMP: Well, I think that, for many times, in Indian country itself, it turns into a jurisdictional challenge, like you saw in the movie "Wind River," where everybody sits in a circle and points fingers, instead of coming together to resolve conflict.
Here's a great example. Senator McCain, one of the last bills that he passed was with me on making sure that we had Amber Alert in Indian country. So there is just a failure of a systemic kind of arrangement of law enforcement.
In non-Indian country cases, I think it just doesn't get the attention that it should. And, in fact, the end of the year, when we were pushing very, very hard...
BALDWIN: Why do you think that is? Do you think it's because we're talking about Native women?
HEITKAMP: I think, in many times, the expectation of family members is so low, that there isn't a big push until something happens, like what happened to Savanna, and, all of a sudden, it brings a lot of attention to this invisible problem.
But I also think that we haven't put enough emphasis on our side, on the public policy side. And that's why the Savanna's Act doesn't just deal with Indian country. It deals with granting programs in non- Indian country that requires that, if you want some additional preference, you have to pay attention to this issue.
It was that problem or that provision that created problems for Congressman Goodlatte, for Chairman Goodlatte, and that's why he stopped it. And everybody said, well, can't you compromise, Senator? I said, no, because it would gut the part of this that deals with non- Indian country challenges.
And so I'm just grateful that this continues to get some national attention and that we continue to build on the support for so many of these families, because if we can give families hope that these cases will be resolved, that someone's looking, I think we will see more reports and more attention to the problem.
BALDWIN: I appreciate you coming on and addressing this on national television. And I know you're saying you left Savanna's Act in capable hands, capable hands, though, with a government that is currently shut down.
I mean, you are at home, just like the rest of your former senators today. They left.
HEITKAMP: Yes, I don't know what to say. I mean, when we -- when this happened in '13, we all stayed in town.
And the Common Sense Coalition pulled together, and we were able to reopen government with a plan. But what pushed us really was the debt limit, and you don't have a debt limit problem this time around. But you do have a problem of confidence of the public in government.
And there is no confidence when everybody leaves town and says, I guess we will go home and not pay attention and do our job. And the other thing is, I introduced a bill, and it never has gotten enough attention, but would take away the salaries of congressional -- congressional salaries, so long as there's a shutdown.
Maybe that would get their attention and maybe they would start focusing on actually resolving the impasses.
BALDWIN: Yes, I'm sure a lot of the federal workers would agree with you who we have been talking to.
I know, also, you were listening to my conversation with Dana and Nia about the racist remarks that Congressman Steve King made to "The New York Times." And I read the piece that Senator Tim Scott had said, has written in "The Washington Post."
The questions about why hasn't Steve King been censured are back in the ether. What do you think of this?
HEITKAMP: Yes, well, if Steve King was going to get censured, it would have happened a long time ago.
This is a consistent pattern. But the point that I wanted to make about that is Tim Scott is an amazing voice for reason in the United States Senate, especially on these issues. And when there was a big challenge on Black Lives Matter and what was happening, he did a series of three floor speeches that everybody in America should read.
And if you get a chance to watch him give those speeches, you should, because it is a perspective that comes from a conservative African- American politician about what his life experience has been. And I think it would open up a lot of hearts in terms of understanding that black experience in America that he shared in a very personal way.
And so I would recommend to anyone who really wants to evaluate what's happening in America to listen or to read Tim's speeches.
BALDWIN: Will do. And thank you so much, obviously, for coming on.
And let's keep Congress' feet to the fire on Savanna's Act. And any time your friend Lisa Murkowski would like to come on and talk about it, the floor is hers.
Senator Heitkamp, thank you so much.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
HEITKAMP: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, an incredible turn in the case of Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old girl who has been missing for months. She has been found alive. A suspect is now under arrest.
And, next, we will speak live with a women -- with a woman, who survived her own kidnapping ordeal, about what this young woman could be going through.