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Interview with Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX); Drug Maker Fights to Keep Lawsuit Documents Private; Interview with Former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired January 31, 2019 - 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. LLOYD DOGGETT, (D) TEXAS: Apparently, some sort of fake announcement of an emergency, of a crisis that doesn't exist will be his approach. I hope we can avoid another shutdown and all the pain that it has cost and the economic growth that it has interfered with through the Trump shutdown. A wall is just not going to happen.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Congressman, I have heard some Democrats, who are on this negotiating committee, who don't want to really have a bunch of money going to the wall, saying that they are open to some wall money in order to-- don't let the perfect be the ending of the good, is basically the argument. You clearly don't see it that way.
DOGGETT: There have long been some fences or barriers in urban areas, El Paso for example, for decades. If there's some repair or restructuring of those, yes. The idea of continuing to build a wall across the country with the president's only compromise being that he would do it with steel instead of concrete and call it a fence instead of a wall, that is not going to happen.
BOLDUAN: I wonder even with what we hear from Nancy Pelosi that any repairs will be a part of that conversation in this legislation.
I want to get to other news that has been going on.
BOLDUAN: In other news, Democrats right now are demanding information from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about a potential conflict of interest. For our viewers, this is a link between the secretary and Russian billionaire who was the subject of sanctions. He is a Putin ally. Hefty sanctions were slapped on companies he had a huge interest in after the 2016 election. These are sanctions that Mnuchin announced are being lifted despite some big pushback coming from Congress. You think this link between -- well, there's a Republican donor and the link to this Russian oligarch presents at the very least a conflict of interest in that Mnuchin should have recused himself from that decision? Have you heard back a reason why he did not?
DOGGETT: Well, I think he should have at least sought ethics guidance from in the Treasury Department and that further information is need, the very information that my colleagues, the top Democratic on the Senate Finance Committee and House Oversight Committee have requested from him. Those are the kinds of answers we needed long ago. Kate, as you know, this sanctions law was designed to change Russian behavior. President Trump fought adoption of the bill. He then tried to water it down. He then issued a signing statement to try to limit its effectiveness. It took months for them to put sanctions in place, all designed to change Russian behavior. We know that behavior has not changed. Even this morning's announcement from Special Counsel Mueller of the Russian disinformation campaign on the investigation of collusion and obstruction that the Russians are still actively involved. Their engagement abroad to undermine our democracy, they haven't changed. All that has changed is that when the Treasury Department finally put a sanction in place, they were willing to come in on a Sunday afternoon and ignore a vote in the House and Senate and undo and lift that sanction. That is wrong. And we do need to know whether Mr. Mnuchin had some personal and family connections with someone who had something to gain out of this transaction.
BOLDUAN: The Treasury Department spokesman spoke to the "New York Times" and said any conflict-of-interest allegation is, in his view, absurd. Is this a phishing expedition? It's not like, if Mnuchin recused himself, and they moved ahead with sanctions, you would have supported that move anyway? Is this a phishing expedition?
DOGGETT: No. Let me make it clear. I certainly wouldn't have supported lifting these sanctions based on the information we have now. New information coming out again within the last 24 hours that the so-called independent party that they put in to change behavior here is not very independent of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian thug who is a friend of Putin's. It's not a phishing expedition. I asked Mr. Mnuchin this question personally myself. We sought additional time to try to get to the bottom of this and have it be an entirely nonpartisan investigation. Treasury would have no part of that after initially suggesting they were willing to meet with us. They have declined that. Mr. Mnuchin refused to congressional inquiries or to appear in front of our Ways and Means Committee. It is a sorted deal. If there weren't a problem with this, he would have engaged I think in a very different approach. The bottom line for the American people though is they are willing to do extra things to make a Russian company, an ally of Mr. Putin, get the special treatment. They are not willing to protect the American people.
BOLDUAN: It will be interesting if and when Mnuchin agrees to appear before your committee to answer questions.
The chairman of your committee --
[11:35:05] DOGGETT: I'm looking forward to it.
BOLDUAN: -- the tax-writing committee, said he is looking to get Donald Trump's tax returns with the new Democratic majority in the House. How are you going to do that?
DOGGETT: You know, I made six or seven motions to our committee that were obstructed by Republicans during the last Congress. And I support the chairman's effort fully to use an almost century old law that is on the books that does not require a subpoena in order to complete the work of our committee on the confidence in the tax system, on whether Donald Trump got special tax breaks that some have estimated may amount to over a billion dollars in the tax law that he signed. All it takes is the signature of the chair of our committee to make a request to the Internal Revenue Service. I hope that can happen soon. I believe we should be thorough and careful and nonpartisan in our approach. We should also be timely. It's important that we get not only the personal returns, but these complex business transactions the president has been involved in, many limited partnerships that he is a part of that may have had significant foreign money involved. We need that in order to do the work of our committee.
BOLDUAN: Real quick, what are the chances you will get the tax returns? Do you put it at anything better than 50/50 right now?
DOGGETT: I think the law is very clear that we're entitled to get those returns. If the Treasury secretary, the same Mr. Mnuchin that ducked and dodged on the Russian oligarchs, refuses to do it, then we will have to take some court action to get the documents. President Trump, of course, the first president, a presidential candidate in recent memory to not follow through on his initial promise to disclose his returns. He clearly, just as with the Mueller investigation, has something to hide or he would be engaged with the American people and with our committee and it wouldn't be necessary to make the request.
BOLDUAN: American people, without the tax returns, still and everyone pointing out he would be the first that did not release the returns in the campaign, did not think it was any reason to not put him in office at that time.
Great to see you, Congressman.
BOLDUAN: Got to run.
DOGGETT: Thank you. Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, sir. Thanks for coming in. Much more to come.
Coming up for us, they are one of the wealthiest families in America. Now a company they own is accused of deceiving doctors, deceiving patients in order to make money off the opioid crisis. What did they know and why are they fighting to keep the lawsuit private? What is this legal battle that is now coming public?
[11:42:20] BOLDUAN: Pharmaceutical giant, Purdue Pharma, fighting a judge's order to make public the details of a lawsuit it's facing, claiming it make a fortune off the deadly opioid crisis by aggressively marketing the painkiller OxyContin. It's not just the company, but the family behind that company that is part of the lawsuit. Their attorneys are saying, if these documents that they want released -- that they don't want released -- are released, it could expose trade secrets.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is here with more. Miguel, the allegations in this lawsuit are pretty astonishing in how
the company, the family knew the problems of the drug, the dangers of the drug, and still were aggressively marketing OxyContin.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the claim in many lawsuits that the family and the company are now facing. And that is why the company wants to keep all of these documents under wrap. The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma, and estimated worth of $13 billion, says Forbes. Purdue Pharma is the maker of the opioid OxyContin. Addiction to the prescription painkiller and opioids have ravaged communities across the country. In 2017, there are more than 47,000 opioid-linked drug fatalities in the U.S., says the CDC.
Members of the Sackler family were paid more than $4 billion between 2008 and 2016 from Purdue Pharma, says the "Wall Street Journal."
The other piece of the story, says "The Journal," whose journalists saw unredacted documents in the case, is that sales of OxyContin, as they slumped, Purdue Pharma looked for new ways to make money. Among the possibilities, says the "Wall Street Journal," Purdue Pharma considered branching into the opioid-addiction treatment business. This, as the company was under fire nationwide for its contribution to the opioid crisis itself.
The lawsuit names eight members of the Sackler family as well as the company and current and former executives. The Sacker family did not respond to the "Wall Street Journal" but Purdue did, "By taking out- of-context snippets from tens of millions of documents and grossly distorting their meaning. The complaint filed by the Massachusetts attorney general is riddled with inaccurate allegations."
And 36 states and more than 1,500 cities and counties around the country have sued Purdue Pharma, says the "Wall Street Journal." One multistate federal lawsuit in 2007 settled for $600 million as part of a plea deal. Purdue was accused of misleading and defrauding physicians and consumers with regards to how addictive OxyContin is.
Members of the Sackler family were not named in that suit. The Sackler family made its fortune from Purdue Pharma, which was started in the 1950s. It wasn't until the 1990s, in its production and marketing of OxyContin, that the family made billions. The family is known for philanthropy, of course, with its name on museums and galleries worldwide.
[11:45:11] The state of Massachusetts wants these unredacted documents released. Purdue is fighting it. A Massachusetts appellate judge could decide as early as today. But certainly by tomorrow, we will know whether the documents are out there and we'll have a much better sense of how this OxyContin travesty just happened and destroyed parts of the country -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Much more clarity coming very soon. That lawsuit is far from over even when that happens.
MARQUEZ: A massive effort.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Miguel. It's great to see you. Really appreciate it.
Coming up for us, as several 2020 Democratic contenders are pushing progressive policies like Medicare for All, the former Democratic governor of a key primary state says it is time for a more moderate candidate to jump in. He'll be here, next.
First, three months after Hurricane Michael hit Florida, many residents are struggling to just clear debris to allow the rebuilding to begin. Volunteers are still there, too, and making a difference. Here is this week's "IMPACT YOUR WORLD."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's so much water and so much force, it picked the gun safe up, went through the wall. It's pretty crazy.
BILL BLAIR, VOLUNTEER, TEAM RUBICON: Hi, I'm Bill Blair. I'm from Oregon. I'm the volunteer member from Team Rubicon. Team Rubicon is a disaster recovery organization. We are veterans based. We are 70 percent veterans, 30 percent civilian.
I'm here in Florida doing disaster recovery from Hurricane Michael. The recovery process is just beginning. It will take another six months to clear the debris piles up and down the highways. This is the largest operation here in Florida that Team Rubicon has ever done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are 1,300 work requests that we have received. Unfortunately, there are 9,500 that we have not been able to get to yet.
BLAIR: The recovery process for the disasters in 2018 are going to be ongoing through 2019, 2020. It's not going to end. Period. We need you. I'll start crying in a minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all were angels in our lives.
BLAIR: What is rewarding to me is just being able to know that we have helped that person on the worst day of their life.
[11:52:05] BOLDUAN: With more Democrats jumping on the Medicare for All train in the race for 2020, and Senator Warren is pushing a wealth tax, some in the party are sounding the alarm, including one of the longest-serving governors of New Hampshire, John lynch. He told the "New York Times," "If the Democrats want to beat President Trump, their best bet is electing somebody in the middle. So move away from progressive policies, move towards the center."
That's from somebody who had more than a few presidential hopefuls come through his state.
Former New Hampshire Governor John Lynch joins me now.
Governor, thank you for being here.
Why do you think in this moment of Democrats taking on Trump in 2020, it's time to go to the center?
JOHN LYNCH, (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW HAMPSHIRE: I think most voters in this country are in the middle. We hear a lot from people on the far left, a lot from people on the far right, but I think most of the voters are moderate. And that's why I think we have a better opportunity of defeating President Trump.
BOLDUAN: You mentioned Biden, you mentioned "Bloomberg" in talking about this. But you say there's also only room, really, for one. Which one should it be?
LYNCH: You know, as former governor, I'm talking with everybody. And I will talk with anybody who wants to meet with me and discuss New Hampshire and our way of life here in New Hampshire. So it's not clear to me how it's all going to shake out. I think over the next several months, some more people will enter, some people will drop out. It always happens that way. So we just have to see what the final list looks like in the end.
BOLDUAN: Yes. There's one person who is thinking about running, talking about running. who calls himself exactly kind of what you're calling for, Howard Schultz. He's a centrist Independent, is what he's going for. He's thinking of running as an Independent. What do you think about that?
LYNCH: Well, I have respect for Howard Schultz. I actually teach the Starbuck's case at Tufts Business School where I'm currently on the faculty. He has done a great job of dealing with his people. But I go back to 2000 here in New Hampshire. Gore lost by 7,000 votes. Ralph Nader got 22,000 votes. If Gore had won New Hampshire, little New Hampshire with our four electoral votes, he would have been elected president of the United States. So I think we have to be very cautious as we think about Independent candidates.
BOLDUAN: He says if he gets in the race, hopefuls will vote for Donald Trump, not Democrats. But first, he has to get in the race, so we'll see.
There was a national poll this week that found one in three Republicans would like to see Donald Trump primaried. And 65 percent said they wanted him to be the nominee. But regardless, New Hampshire was the state that Trump first won in the Republican primary in 2016. Where do you think New Hampshire Republicans are now?
[11:55:00] LYNCH: I think they're split. I think some are very much opposed to Donald Trump, but I also think he has a base here. And I think it would be hard for somebody in a primary to beat Donald Trump, even in New Hampshire.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Well, the incumbent always has a leg up, that's for sure. Let's see how it plays out. Much more ahead of that New Hampshire primary.
It's so nice to see you, governor. Thank you very, very much for your time.
LYNCH: Thank you for having me on.
BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.
Coming up, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she appears to be drawing a red line now. No money for a border wall in any final deal. So where does that leave negotiators on Capitol Hill who are tasked with striking a deal to avoid another government shutdown? Should they throw in the towel now?