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Kamala Harris's Radio Response to About People Questioning That She's Not Black Enough; Interview With Rep. Deb Haaland, D-NM. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired February 11, 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] NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And it isn't something that you typically hear about male bosses, right? And - and so, you have had people basically push back on this and say, she is facing this scrutiny because she is a woman. We'll see where this story goes.

I think it's good for her that it came out early. I think it's good --

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Yes.

HENDERSON: -- for her that she has a fairly good answer, which is that she - she's a tough boss, and that's she's got some staffers who have been with her a number of years. We'll see where this goes. Are there tougher stories out there? I think the first one wasn't as tough. And then there was a second one saying that maybe she threw something at a staffer. It didn't hit anyone.

So we'll see. I think for her it matters because her image that she is selling to the public is Minnesota nice, right - Midwestern nice. That's she's somebody who can bring the country together. There's a line in her speech about, you know, a bridge to a better future and a better community. So I think for her it matters a little bit more. But I think at least her answers for now. We'll see how they suffice. And we'll see if more stories come out.

BOLDUAN: And a question for all of the candidates as they're getting into the primary, Karoun, is - is how do they take on Donald Trump, right? And the Mayor Pete Buttigieg's approach to Trump versus the Elizabeth Warren approach to President Trump --

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- which is ignore him or take him on directly. What - which approach do you think wins out in the primary?

DEMIRJIAN: I mean this is the big question for the Democratic Party, right? Which - which way are they going to go? They're not exactly a completely cohesive group.

BOLDUAN: Right.

DEMIRJIAN: I don't think that you can completely ignore Donald Trump. He is everywhere. He is on television every five seconds. He is doing things that make the news all of the time. So to pretend like you're not actually addressing him in this election is to, kind of, ignore where the gut of the Democratic Party is after the heartbreak of 2016 that they had.

But, you know, to completely go further than you can actually substantiate, necessarily, by saying oh he's, maybe, not going to be a free person. I mean, the Mueller investigation has not gotten that far. The Democratic leaders in the House do not want to talk impeachment right now. So that may be just, kind of, throwing too much red meat out there.

And clearly there's some, sort of, a happy middle. But we don't know who that's going to be, or what it's going to sound like because it's going to depend a lot on the candidate. And at this point, they're all making their pitches out there and seeing what sticks with which part of the - the base they hope to claim.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

DEMIRJIAN: They're not yet at the point where they're going to have to start answering, you know, and challenging each other. And that's where we're going to get to see, you know, really --

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's the important part.

DEMIRJIAN: -- where they can, kind of, split the party. Yes.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And also, too much red meat, that is a line you will never hear.

(LAUGHTER)

That is not a philosophy that Donald Trump adheres to. That's for sure.

DEMIRJIAN: True. That is true.

BOLDUAN: Nia, I do want to ask you about another - about Kamala Harris. During a radio interview this morning she was asked about people questioning that she's not black enough. And I thought it was important how she answered it and what she said. Let me play for you what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: So I was born in Oakland --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: -- and raised in the United States, except for the years that I was in High School in Montreal, Canada. And look, this is the same thing they did to Barrack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

HARRIS: This is the - this is not new to us. And so, I think that we know what they're trying to do. They're trying to do what has been happening over the last two years which is, powerful voices trying to sew hate and division among us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

HARRIS: And so, we need to recognize when we're being played.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: What do you think of her response?

HENDERSON: You know, I think it's - it's a good response, and I think it's something she's going to have to answer more so in terms of politics, right? I mean, on the one hand the question of blackness is about, sort of, where did you grow up and who your parents were. But it's also a question of how black are your politics, right? How well do they represent African Americans?

And I think - so her record as a prosecutor, I think when sometimes - when people talk about how black she is, in some ways they mean her record as a prosecutor, and whether or not that is in line with what's best for African Americans? Because we know of the disproportionate ways in which the criminal justice system has affected African Americans.

But yes, I mean, I think this a question that she's going to get. You hear a lot of, sort of, Twitter buzz on this, in some ways, with people questioning whether or not she's just performing black, is she really black? Sure she want to Howard, but she married a white man, which I think she also addressed in that interview as well and essentially said, she married who she fell in love with. So --

BOLDUAN: Yes.

HENDERSON: -- you know, this will be a question that she'll have to answer, as we know that Obama did as well.

BOLDUAN: I find it fascinating, though, when you look across the Democratic primary field, how - how candidates and the people interviewing them, no one's shying away from any of these --

HENDERSON: Right.

BOLDUAN: -- topics though --

HENDERSON: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- from - from Kamala to Amy Klobuchar with the story about her, to Pete Buttigieg, generational. He's, you know --

HENDERSON: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- fashions himself a generational candidate, not shying away from his sexuality at all. This is a fascinating moment to watch play out. It's good to see you guys. Thanks.

HENDERSON: Thanks, Kate.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the top U.S. commander in the war against ISIS gives his take on the state of the fight, and joins the Intelligence Community in contradicting President Trump. So will the President say he is wrong? That's next.

[11:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Tens of thousands, that's the number that the U.S. commander in the war against ISIS puts as the strength of ISIS in Syria and Iraq right now. General Joseph Votel underscoring the assessment that intel leaders gave to Congress recently, and is yet another military leader contradicting the President's declaration that ISIS has been defeated.

Let's get the reality check here. CNN's Senior National Correspondent Ben Wedeman is in eastern Syria, and CNN's Barbara Starr. She is traveling with General Votel in Cairo. Let me start with Barbara in Cairo. Barbara, what more is General Votel saying?

[11:40:00]

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's making the point that the physical caliphate - just pushing Syria - ISIS out of the territory in Syria that it once controlled is not going to get rid of ISIS.

That this is still an organization with fighters, capabilities, plotting and planning, and it's something that is going to have to be watched very carefully, and that the U.S. going to have to participate in keeping the pressure up on ISIS so it doesn't reemerge, or they can, at least, try and control that reemergence, even when this last bit of territory is gone. Votel, here in the Middle East, offering a very long-term, perhaps more strategic view about the situation, listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH VOTEL, UNITED STATES ARMY GENERAL: It doesn't mean the end of the organization. And we are going to have to continue to - to put military pressure on them. The Syrian Democratic Forces will, and will help them. So that - that will be taking place.

And we'll be looking to how we have to adjust our - our footprint to make sure that we can continue to provide the enabling capabilities that the - that the Syrian Democratic Forces require. And then, of course, we have other - other tasks that we're pursuing here. We're going to - we're going to continue to move forward with our withdrawal of forces.

(END VIDEO CLIP) STARR: So they are - the U.S. is proceeding on getting the more than 2,000 U.S. ground troops out of Syria under President Trump's withdrawal order. But Votel tonight making clear that he thinks there is a role for the U.S. to continue putting pressure on ISIS, just not from inside Syria. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, an important voice, thought (ph), for sure. Barbara, thank you so much. Let me get over to Ben really quick. Ben, you're on the ground in Syria. What are you seeing there?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing is that even though this offensive to retake Baghouz Al-Fawqani, that last town in Syria held by ISIS, which began on Saturday night that ISIS is far from vanquished.

We saw this morning, first-hand, up close, and too personal, a counter-offensive in which ISIS forces started firing right over our heads. We were about a mile from the frontlines. They fired a mortar right next to our position.

We essentially had to leave the town because they were coming in our direction. They had managed to make it over the berm that divided it. It marks the beginning of the town. And if it were not for the U.S.- led coalition aircraft overhead, as well as British, and French, and American special forces in the town firing artillery and mortars back at these advancing forces, that the counterattack would have succeeded.

The fact of the matter is that ISIS is, indeed, perhaps maybe not tomorrow, as we were told by some SDF commanders. It will be driven, or vanquished, in that town itself. But what we've seen in Iraq and in Syria is that ISIS fighters have been able to escape to remote parts of the desert, to the mountains.

Others have blended in with the local population. And they continue to conduct hit and run raids and attacks, essentially returning to what ISIS was before it claimed any territory, which was a terrorist insurgency. And the worry is that once the Americans pullout, there will be a vacuum here into which could rush the Turks, the Syrian regime, as well as ISIS itself.

So we're at an important landmark on the - in the battle against ISIS. But nobody, not even the fighters backed by the United States are laboring under the illusion that somehow, with the fall of this last town, ISIS will become history.

BOLDUAN: Yes, great point, Ben. Thank you so much, Ben, for your reporting, always from the frontlines, Barbara, great to see you. Thank you as well. Coming up for us, negotiations to keep the government funded hit a roadblock as talks breakdown. And this time it's not about the border wall. Who or what is standing in the way now? We're going to ask a Democratic lawmaker who was at the border this weekend.

[11:45:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Optimism dashed, well at least for now. Last week ended with the hope that Democrats and Republicans were going - were about to reach a deal to keep the government open.

But today, is that hope now completely dead? Joining me right now, Democratic Congresswoman Deb Haaland of New Mexico, she was just - she just got back, actually, from a trip to the border. Congresswoman, thank you for coming in.

REP. DEB HAALAND, D-NM: Thank you so much for having me.

BOLDUAN: All of the reporting right now, from our smart - smart folks - folks on the Hill is that both sides, they were close to a deal to avoid another shutdown. And now it's not the wall that's holding up a deal, but it's about a limit or a cap on how many people ICE can hold at a detention facility.

If this is about - if the whole thing is really just about keeping the government open --

HAALAND: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- are Democrats now the ones standing in the way?

HAALAND: Look, I'm sure that they'll work that part out. I was just at the border this past weekend, and the whole situation with those facilities is that they weren't meant to - to detain families. Whole entire families now are being detained at the border facilities. And it's - it's an untenable situation. So - so I hope that they can work it out. I feel confident that they can.

[11:50:00]

We need to - you know, we - the President's been griping about a wall for so long, but there are so many other needs on the border ...

BOLDUAN: Yes.

HAALAND: ... infrastructure needs, other needs like, you know, new scanners and things like that that - that we know could make the processing of those documents and people a lot faster. But I'm confident that - that we can hammer out a deal, and hope that, you know, they come together again and work it out.

BOLDUAN: Are you - are you concerned that if the deal, right now - the hold up - the stalemate is over this cap on how many people these detention facilities can hold, and that's something that Democrats want. They want a lower cap. Are you concerned that if this then is what heads us to another shutdown. That Democrats are going to face the blame?

HAALAND: I don't the Dem - I mean, look, the President took responsibility for the shutdown in - in - on the front of the last government shutdown.

BOLDUAN: Right.

HAALAND: And so, it's - it's his - you know, it's on - to me it's on him. This all started with the idea - you know, his insistence on a border wall that we don't need. I just - as I said, I just came from the border in El Paso.

BOLDUAN: Yes, nice (ph).

HAALAND: It's a safe and secure border. There are so many things that they need other than a wall. And I - I just feel that the concern for Democrats is the families. And they don't want us to separate families any longer. They don't want the government to mistreat these folks who were coming to flee, you know, danger and violence in their own countries.

And so, I think there's still a few more days. I will look forward to them coming together and working until the job is done. Their charge is to keep the government open. And I'm positive that the Democrats will do everything they can to make that happen.

BOLDUAN: And we will see if the President has the same takeaway as - after he goes to the border tonight, as you did when you were there. I do want to ask you, as you - as you are one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, President Trump tweeted at Senator Elizabeth Warren this weekend this - for our viewers we'll put it on the screen.

Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign trail, Liz. And trail is in all capitals.

HAALAND: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Do you think that in that, the President was mocking her with a joke about the trail of tears here?

HAALAND: I do, yes. Yes, it's evident to me. He - he is just completely ignorant when it comes to Native Americans and Native American history. It's exhausting, right?

(LAUGHTER)

It's completely exhausting to try to keep up with - with so much of - of his ignorance and racism for native people. And - and I'm - I just, you know, at this point, I feel like he needs to be ignored because he's not learning anything. It'd be nice if he picked up a book and decided to read about Indian history. He would - he would not be mocking anyone if he knew more.

BOLDUAN: And you have defended Elizabeth Warren, as she's been criticized for how she's talked about her heritage. Last week this came all back up again, not because of President Trump, but because of new reporting out. The Washington Post finding that she had listed her race ethnicity as

Native American when she was registering for the Texas Bar back in the 80s. Is that a problem for you? Do you think this should be a problem for voters?

HAALAND: You know, I am - I am an enrolled member of a tribe in New Mexico. Senator Warren is very cognoscente of the fact that tribes determine tribal membership. She wasn't trying to be an enrolled member of a tribe. Also, it's not - I mean, I would never tell anyone how they should identify themselves.

That is a - that is a - that is what's - you know, someone decides on their own. What I know about Senator Warren is that she has fought for working families for a heck of a long time. She was returned billions to Americans who have been ripped off by - by big banks. And - and I'd like to see her. And she will continue to - to work hard for working families, and make sure that people have a fair deal in this country.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, I want to ask you about one of your fellow freshman Democrats real quick.

HAALAND: Yes.

BOLDUAN: She's being accused of anti-Semitism. Illhan Omar, she tweeted over the weekend suggesting that Republicans only support Israel for campaign contributions. And she tweeted it's all about the Benjamins in a tweet.

Republicans are calling for the Speaker to take action against Omar over this. Democrats have spoken out saying, you know, that it's - the anti-Semitic tropes are unacceptable. What - where do - what do you say?

[11:55:00]

HAALAND: Well, I say that, sure, it's common knowledge that Republicans will - I mean, they do take campaign contributions from - from everything, everyone, and every, you know, corporate pack money, and gas and oil industry money, and all of these things.

It think that my colleague, she - she has decidedly - decided not to take campaign contributions from some folks. I mean, look, it's - it's not - it's not up to us to police what people say on - on Twitter, you know. With respect to that, I have never witnessed any of my colleagues promote, or speak, or, you know, allude to ...

BOLDUAN: But APAC doesn't ...

HAALAND: ... anti-Semitism.

BOLDUAN: ... but APAC - she points to APAC. And APAC doesn't - doesn't contribute to politicians. And even ...

HAALAND: That's true.

BOLDUAN: ... I mean, Democrats - your Democratic colleagues, many of them are speaking about what she has said.

HAALAND: Right. I don't - I mean, I don't have - I don't have a - a comment that currently.

BOLDUAN: Because you don't think the comment was anti-Semitic?

HAALAND: Well, I think the comment alluded - what you read me - I didn't read it. But what you just ...

BOLDUAN: OK.

HAALAND: ... read me alludes to campaign contributions. It doesn't allude to anything else, but that.

BOLDUAN: But it speaks to a longstanding veiled anti-Semitism that many folks have talked about over the years about - about Jews - Jews running things because - Jews running things because they have money.

HAALAND: Yes, I don't - I mean, I don't subscribe to that. I - I don't subscribe to that.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, thank you so much for coming in. I appreciate your time.

HAALAND: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Virginia's governor, in a new interview, is refusing to step aside over the racist photo controversy that is - he's been engulfed in. But he also says he's learned a lot from the past week. Is that enough, his comments - new comments ahead.

[12:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)