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Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) Florida is Interviewed about the Resolution Condemning Bigotry; Nationwide Blackout in Venezuela; Families of MH-370 Demand Answers; Warren Wants Big Tech Splits; Trump Speaks Ahead of Alabama Trip. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 8, 2019 - 09:30   ET



[09:30:33] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: This morning House Democrats ready to move on after a week of infighting over Representative Ilhan Omar's comments about Israeli. The House overwhelmingly passing a broad resolution condemning many forms of hate, including anti-Semitism, but also anti-Muslimism discrimination. The resolution did not mention Omar.

Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: of Florida who serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Congresswoman, it's great to have you on the show. Thanks for taking the time.

REP. DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL (D), FLORIDA: Good morning, Jim. Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you first about this vote here. There was tremendous debate inside the party about this. The final resolution condemn all forms of hate. And I think a lot of our viewers can understand that. But of course the spark for this were the comments by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. And why was her name or any specific mention of those comments left out?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: I think that it's important for us to stand together in unity. And that's what we did yesterday when we voted for that resolution. We are standing in -- against all forms of hate, whether it's anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia.

I actually find it interesting, Jim, that we had over 20 Republicans that voted against it. And I don't think that we need to target any individual. I think that, as a caucus, we need to stand united. And you saw what happened yesterday. All of us voted for this resolution. And it's just troubling when I saw some of the members on the other side that voted against it.

SCIUTTO: Of course, one of the members who did was Steve King, who has his own issues with bigoted comments.

What is there explanation? And what is your message to the Republican who voted no on this anti-hate resolution? MUCARSEL-POWELL: I think that what we've seen from this White House

and this administration is that they have used hateful words to attack people, like myself, immigrant, other people of color. And we need to show the American people that our words matter, that we are held to a higher standard. And my suggestion is for them to understand that we are sending a mixed message when you're sending -- when you're voting against a resolution that is clearly standing against hate.

I can't speak for any of them that voted against it, but I do worry that it continues to exasperate the problem that we have coming from this White House and this president, which is to use hateful words against people like myself.

SCIUTTO: On another issue for the Democratic Party, you have a -- you have a debate over really economic policy, over the direction of the party, how far to the left, particularly as you have the 2020 election coming up. You are one of more than 40 Democratic lawmakers who flipped a seat, a district, from red to blue, in a very tight race there. And as you know, the folks like yourself who flipped those districts are pretty moderate, right, and the party made a deliberate decision to run candidates -- moderate candidates with moderate positions.

Are you concerned that as some in the party pull the party to the left, including people from safe Democratic -- safe blue districts, that that's a danger for the party, not just in the House, but for the presidency in 2020?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Jim, I'm not going lie to you. I mean I do think that we can't have on -- extremes on either side. I don't think that's what the American people want. I think that what they're looking for is for government to work and it is why today we are actually voting on a very significant piece of legislation, the For The People Act, HR-1, which is restoring the faith in our democracy.

And I want -- I think that we all agree that we want the things that some of the progressives are bringing up ideas that we all support, which is being very bold and aggressive and tackling issues that affect climate. Being bold and aggressive lowering healthcare costs. But it's a matter of finding common ground. And I do think that -- you know, we've only been here for about sixty days and there are some learning curves for a lot of us. And --

SCIUTTO: You said extremes -- just to be clear what you're referencing, you said extremes on both side. Are you concerned that there -- that there are extremes, extremists, if you want to use that term, in your own party pulling the party too far to the left?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Well, you know, I -- it's -- I'm not saying that they are right now, but words matter. And sometimes those words that are being used could be seen as an extreme position on an issue. And I think that we as Americans, you know, we're 365 million Americans. We all come from different backgrounds. It's one of the great things about my party, that we have a huge tent. Healthy debate is good. We need to be discussing these issues. [09:35:05] But what we need to do is restore faith in our government.

And it's important for us to be united. I think that resolution showed that yesterday. We are united. Yes, we do have differences. We come from very different backgrounds, different districts, different experiences. I was born in Ecuador. I'm an immigrant. I bring a completely different perspective as it relates, for example, to Venezuela.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes.

MUCARSEL-POWELL: And so, you know, and it's OK to have these healthy debates.

I do feel optimistic that as we have these conversations, I see people understanding where all -- where we are all coming from. And I can tell you from my own personal experience talk about Venezuela to my caucus, bringing that perspective.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about -- I do want to ask you about Venezuela because John Bolton said just in the last 24 hours that all options are on the table. You've heard the president speak publicly about military options there.

I wonder if it's your concern that the policy of the U.S. -- and I know you have a very strong position against the Maduro government -- but is the policy of the U.S. now regime change in Venezuela? And do you support that?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Look, I have to tell you, and I'll start from the beginning, which is my statement. Maduro is an illegitimate regime. We need to support the international organizations, have supported Guaido as the interim president.

What I don't like to see from the White House, from the Trump administration and from some other Republicans from -- that are using this issue as a political tool to gain points in Florida specifically. I have very good friends that have had to leave Venezuela. I have some family members that live in Venezuela. And what we need to do is put a lot of pressure on this regime.

I oppose military intervention. And our caucus opposes it. We just had a conversation about that a couple of days ago. But what we do support is humanitarian aid, individualized sanctions, asking the United Nations to work very closely with the American government to put pressure on the Maduro regime.

So we are watching very closely. And things can change from one minute to the next. But I think the momentum is now to put the pressure on the Maduro regime.

SCIUTTO: Congresswoman, appreciate you having -- having you on the show. Thanks so much. We look forward to welcoming you back.

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Thank you. Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Five years ago, today, MH-370 left Malaysia for China. There's still no sign of the plane or its passengers? Can something like this happen again? It's still a question, believe it or not. We'll have more.


[09:41:50] SCIUTTO: This morning, millions of Venezuelans are without power several hours after a crippling blackout began in Caracas and then swept throughout the country. Nationwide schools and businesses are now closed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is blaming the embattled Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, for the outage, tweeting, quote, no food, no medicine, now no power. Next, no Maduro.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is live in Caracas. Of course daytime there now.

Patrick, this blackout just the latest hardship for Venezuelans. You really get a sense of a country falling apart there. Just basic necessities not available.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it doesn't get more basic than electricity. Hospitals, schools, people's homes without electricity and largely without water. Just a surreal scene this morning to see thousands of people walking to work because the metro was broken. Of course without electricity you can't gas up your car. Public transportation is falling apart.

So it really is a sense of a country falling apart, especially when the government, last night, when, you know, nearly 18 hours ago when the crisis first began, the power went out, they said they'd have the power back on very soon. That was just another broken promise though, Jim.

And the government here is, of course, as they always do, blaming the United States, saying that it was an act of sabotage. But people we've talked to that know something about the electrical grid here say that it's just not possible. That it's a very old, poorly maintained electrical grid and for years people have been warning this could happen. Now apparently it has.

Venezuelans simply want to know when the power will come back on. And no word yet from the government on when that will take place.

SCIUTTO: Yes, interesting how it feeds those narratives and conspiracy theories, right, about what the U.S. is up to there.

Patrick Oppmann, thanks very much.

SCIUTTO: It was, if you can believe it, five years ago today that Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappeared en route to China from Malaysia with some 239 passengers and crew on board. Nearly 26 countries joined in that search and rescue mission. Crews found nothing in the end, amazingly. The official search was called off back in January of 2017, but now the Malaysian government is telling families that it will continue the search.

CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest is following these developments. Of course, Richard, you were on top of this throughout those months

following the disappearance five years ago. I mean is there any hope that if they do keep the search they're going find anything? Do they even know where to search?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: They do and that area of searching gets ever narrower. The only disappointing part, Jim, is that last year there was a private search done by a private company and that was on a no find no fee basis. But the Malaysian government didn't renew their contract to do that, or at least their approvals to do that. So that came to an end.

And there are people who want to go out there to search. There are private companies that will do it. But they need permission. And so far that has been lacking. Or at least they need cooperation.

There is geopolitics involved here at the very highest levels. And, Jim, until those are solved, then it's unlikely that it will actually get another search underway.

[09:45:01] SCIUTTO: I mean I remember when you and I and others were talking about this five years ago, what -- a frequent question was, listen, you know, I lose my iPhone, you know, I can find that, right? I mean there are systems. Why don't planes have, you know, basic systems. They're giant, expensive pieces of technology with a lot of lives onboard. Is that going to change?

QUESTION: It's changed. It has already changed. New rules came in at the international level from IKO (ph) that mandated the so called reporting time. And many airlines like Emirates and others went much tighter, reporting every few minutes. And now there's even new technology that allows satellite reporting every couple of seconds or even twice a second in one case.

But to the fundamental point, why don't we have real-time tracking, why aren't the satellites constantly watching and reporting like radar? It's simply too expensive. The data band and the bandwidth simply isn't there. And so you do what's next, which is the planes report as often as they can and that can be extrapolated into exactly where the plane is at any given moment.

SCIUTTO: But help me understand that, because I know there's always this rush to find the black boxes, as we call them, though they're orange, you know, in the midst of this. You know, if we can -- and it sounds probably over simplistic, but if I could have Wi-Fi on the plane, why isn't the plane constantly sending a stream of information that's important, can help folks figure out what's happening not only with that plane but what might have caused an accident. Why isn't that happening today?

QUEST: It is. They're working on it even as we speak. And there have been enormous -- remember, you can't just do one thing for one airline. You have to set regulatory standards that everybody is then going follow, which will ensure that it will actually work and it will actually be robust. I'm sounding like a bureaucrat here, but that's the reasons why it's

taken so long. There are two things with black boxes. One, ejectable black boxes. Airbus is working on a system where it ejects from the plane the moment it senses something is wrong. And the second, of course, is constant data streaming. That's more likely. That's already happening in some cases. There will be a lot more of that in the future.

SCIUTTO: Richard Quest, thanks very much.

A reminder, tonight on CNN, a special look at the past five years, "Vanished: The Mystery of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370." It will air tonight at 10:00 Eastern Time only here on CNN.

And breaking news, just this hour, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren says that the tech giants FaceBook, Google and others are simply too big. She wants to break then up. Her plan coming up.


[09:51:58] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

The breaking news, Elizabeth Warren, candidate for president, wants to split apart big tech companies. First up, Amazon, FaceBook, Google. She says that these major companies are reducing competition, squashing small businesses. The senator will take her plan to supporters at a presidential campaign event today.

CNN political correspondent MJ Lee joins me now with more.

You know, she's not entirely on her own here. I speak to folks in the intelligence agencies who say that these companies may need regulation in some form. But the idea of splitting them up, tell us what she's thinking about here.

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no, Jim, this is a big proposal coming out from Elizabeth Warren this warning, forcing big tech companies to split up or break apart. We're talking about companies like Amazon, like FaceBook and Google. And it essentially says that certain tech companies, if they have annual revenues of $25 billion or more, either need to split up or spin off certain parts of their companies.

In plain English you can understand this as, if you're a tech company that does too many things -- so, for example, if you are Amazon, you can't both be the marketplace and also be the company that sells things on the marketplace. You essentially need to choose one thing and not do too many things.

Another huge component of this proposal is that it would unwind very high-profile tech mergers. So we're talking about mergers that you're very familiar with, like Amazon and Whole Foods or FaceBook and Instagram. So that is a big second part of Elizabeth Warren's tech policy proposal that's out this morning.

And the political implications, of course, are going to be huge, as you noted. We are going to see folks in Silicon Valley, executives, investors, not be very happy about this. But, in the meantime, on the other hand, we are going to see progressive activists and leaders, consumer advocates probably be very happy about this because this is an issue that they have been talking about for a while.

As you noted, Jim, we are going to see Elizabeth Warren here in New York, on Long Island City, later today. And we are told that she is going to talk about this there in the rally. And significant too because, remember, Long Island City is where we saw Amazon having to pull out of their plans to build a second headquarters there when they face so much backlash, especially from political activists and leaders. So just all goes to show that this is probably going to be a very big issue heading into the 2020 election, Jim.

SCIUTTO: No question. And it raises the question, though, how she proposes to do it. Is she talking about legislation? Is she talking about court orders here? Something that I know we're going to continue to follow. And MJ Lee is going to continue to follow.

This is the president. He spoke just a short time ago to reporters on his departure for Alabama and then Mar-a-Lago. Have a listen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are seeing wages rise more than they have at any time for a long, long time. Wages are going up, first time for many years. I talked about it during the campaign. For over 20 years. So I'm happy about that.

The economy is very, very strong. If you look at the stock market over the last few months, it's been great. And certainly since my election, it's up -- getting close to 50 percent, the stock market. So we're obviously very happy with that.

[09:55:14] We will -- I think as soon as these trade deals are done, if they get done, and we're working with China. We'll see what happens. But I think you're going to see a very big spike.

A lot of people are waiting to see what happens with the China deal. Mexico/Canada is done. We'll be submitting to Congress very shortly. And that's a great deal for the United States. So we're very happy about that.

And I am now, as you know, going to Alabama. Some of you are joining me. But I look forward to it. I'll be meeting with Governor Ivy. The people of Alabama, they got hit very hard by the tornados. We're stopping there. Then we're going to Florida. And we're going to do a lot of work. We'll be working very hard.


TRUMP: I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. I think it's been a very, very tough time for him. But if you notice, both his lawyer, a highly respected man and a very highly respected judge, the judge said there was no collusion with Russia. This had nothing to do with collusion. There was no collusion. It's a collusion hoax. It's a collusion witch hoax. I don't collude with Russia. So I just want to tell you that his lawyer went out of his way, actually, to make a statement last night, no collusion with Russia. There was absolutely none. The judge, I mean, for whatever reason, I was very honored by it, also made the statement that this had nothing to do with collusion with Russia. So, you know, keep it going. Let's go. Keep the hoax going. It's just a hoax.

Senator Burr said there's no collusion. You look at Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Commission -- Committee, they said there's no collusion. And, guess what, there is none.


TRUMP: What?


TRUMP: Well, it's a step. I think you'll probably find out it averages out. The unemployment rate just went lower. We're down now to 3.8 percent. So we had very good news on that. I think the big news really was that wages went up and that's great for the American worker. That's something people -- I don't know if they ever expected to see it.



TRUMP: Well, I haven't heard that. I think they're doing well. But if it happened that way, we'll do even better. We'll do very well either way, with or without a deal. But you're telling me something that I have not heard.


TRUMP: Yes, sure, I'm confident. But if we don't make a very good deal for our country, I wouldn't make a deal. If this isn't a great deal, I won't make a deal.


TRUMP: Say it?


TRUMP: I don't even discuss it. I have -- the only one discussing it is you. I haven't discussed it. I know that in watching and seeing you folks at night, that Michael Cohen lied about the pardon. And it was a stone cold lie. And he's lied about a lot of things. But when he lied about the pardon, that was really a lie. And he knew all about pardons. His lawyer said that they went to my lawyers and asked for pardons. And I can go a step above that, but I won't go -- do it now.



TRUMP: It's the most ridiculous suit I've ever seen. Bad lawyer. I had a bad lawyer.

Go ahead.

That happens.



TRUMP: You're competing with a helicopter, Jeff (ph).


TRUMP: Well, I think that it's going very well. At the border, we're doing a great job. We're apprehending record numbers of people, 75,000 over the last short period of time. That's a lot of work. And with a wall we wouldn't have to do it.

Now, I think we're doing fine in Congress. They understand it's an emergency.


[09:59:44] TRUMP: Well, time will tell. But I have a feeling that our relationship with North Korea, Kim Jong-un and myself, Chairman Kim, I think it's a very good one. I think it remains good. I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we'll see what happens.

Look, when I came in, under the Obama