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Pelosi on Impeaching Trump: "He's Not Worth It"; Rep. David Cicilline (D) of Rhode Island Discusses Pelosi Saying Trump Not Worth Impeaching, Trump Callings Democrats Anti-Israel; New York's A.G. Issues Subpoenas to Deutsche Bank for Extending Loans to Trump Organization; Actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin Involved with Mail Fraud in College Entrance-Exam Scheme. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 12, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:32] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

"He's just not worth it" -- that is how the speaker of the House is describing the president of the United States today. And what is it he is not worth? Impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking out in a new interview that is causing a lot of reaction from left, right and center, telling the "Washington Post" in this new interview this: "I'm not for impeachment. Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelmingly and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path because it divides the country and he's just not worth it."

Of course, some House Democrats think it is totally worth it. In fact, more than one has already introduced resolutions to try to kick start the process of impeachment in the House. Others say impeachment is inevitable. Listen.


REP. JOHN YARMUTH, (D), KENTUCKY: I think we are essentially in the beginning of an impeachment process. The impeachment process begins with hearings. The Judiciary Committee is holding them, Intelligence Committee, the Oversight Committee. So we are gathering evidence.

I think that's not a matter of whether, it's a matter of when.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill, joining me now.

Manu, what are you hearing from Democrats this morning? What do they think Nancy Pelosi is trying to do here in this new interview?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They believe that she is concerned about going down a path that would essentially be fruitless because Republicans are unlikely to vote to convict this president. If an impeachment resolution were approved in the House, two-thirds of the majority in the Senate would have to vote to essentially remove the president from office. That's highly unlikely. Just moments ago, she caught up with some reporters here on Capitol Hill and she said she made her stance very clear. And she was asked by our colleague, Ashley Killough, why talk about this now rather than wait for the Mueller report to come out. She said she had been saying this all along. She said it is very divisive to go down this route.

There are Democrats who agree with her. But they hope something will come out in the Mueller report that will change public opinion and potentially change the speaker's mind.


REP. KAREN BASS, (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't believe that she completely closed the door. What she said was, unless there's like overwhelming, you know, evidence, then it didn't make sense.

REP. STEVE COHEN, (D), TENNESSEE: My personal position is that he is a blight on the American society, the American government, the American nation, and humanity.

RAJU: He should be impeached?

COHEN: I think he has done things that are certainly worthy of looking into impeachment.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, (D), MICHIGAN: I am beginning the investigation. Think about this. Every single person, I don't care if you are Republican or Democrat, wants the offenses, the things that you have been hearing about, instead of being rumors, let's have a committee process and investigate these offenses. These are really, really serious criminal activity that he is being allegedly -- allegedly being said that he is doing out of the Oval Office and that's something that should be investigated.


RAJU: That last comment coming from Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democratic freshman, who has been a major proponent of impeachment. She made a lot of news on the first day of the new Congress by using an expletive referring to impeaching this president. She plans to introduce an article of impeachment still this month to try to force action, investigation, maybe impeachment.

Still, the Democratic leadership has no desire to go that route. You heard Pelosi. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told me he agrees with Pelosi. Same with Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, who would take up any impeachment proceedings. So at the moment, the Democratic leaders are trying to tamp this down even as some of the rank-and-file continue to push for it -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: It is a fascinating moment.

Manu, thank you so much.

Let's discuss this a little bit more. Democratic Congressman David Cicilline, of Rhode Island, he is joining me now.

Congressman, thank you for coming in.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE, (D), RHODE ISLAND: My pleasure. Great to see you.

BOLDUAN: How do you read what Speaker Pelosi is saying here?

CICILLINE: I think the speaker has been very consistent about this question. She has always said this is something which will be very divisive to the country, that we can only move forward successfully in removing a president if it is done in a bipartisan way. That's a fact. We don't have the ability to do it ourselves.

I think the real point the speaker is trying to make is Democrats ran on an agenda demonstrating that we are fighting for the people of this country. With three primary objects, driving down health care costs, reducing the costs of prescriptions drugs, protecting coverage for preexisting conditions, raising family incomes, with a focus on rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of America, rebuilding our country, and taking on the self-dealing and corruption in Washington and get the government working for the people and not for the special interests. We are busy doing that work. We passed H.R.-1, a transformative piece of legislation, the biggest anti-corruption measure since Watergate. We have begun hearings on the prescription drug bills to help drive down the cost of prescription drugs. I think the speaker's point is we should not lose focus on the work that we committed to doing for the American people. And of course, we have to await Mr. Mueller's investigation but --


[11:05:40] BOLDUAN: Do you --


BOLDUAN: Do you think -- do you think, Congressman, with that, and what I'm hearing you say in laying out what the agenda perhaps for Democrats is, do you fear that if the focus becomes impeachment, if the process would begin, that it would effectively suck all of the oxygen off of Capitol Hill and make it impossible for you to walk and chew gum at the same time?

CICILLINE: I think we have to prove we can actually do both things. We need to deliver and we are already delivering on the commitments we made to the American people on the issues that matter in their lives. At the same time, the American people also expect Democrats to hold the administration accountable and do serious oversight. If that produces evidence which requires initiation of impeachment, then we have no choice to do it. We have to do both. We have to deliver on the promises and do the oversight that has been so lacking to hold this president and this administration accountable. And I think we can do both.

BOLDUAN: I hear you saying that Speaker Pelosi has been consistent. Literally, in the interview, she tells the reporter, this is news, what I'm telling you. I love it when you guys tell me that you are about to tell me news. Anytime you want to do it, go ahead. But she says this is news, and then lays out that she is not for impeachment, and says he is not worth it. Do you -- what this is doing is it is sparking real conversation in reaction to conversation about impeachment. Is it here? Is it now? Does the process need to begin? Or as Nancy Pelosi is putting it, he is just not worth it? Do you wish she had not weighed in, in this way?

CICILLINE: No, look, I don't think that the speaker said anything inconsistent with at least her general view point throughout the last several months on this question. I think the speaker --

BOLDUAN: She is leaning more toward -- in her statement, she is leaning more -- she is leaning in, in one way, more than she has in the past.

CICILLINE: I think that's right. I think, again, my view of it, this is going to be very fact specific. The facts are going to determine whether or not we move forward. The speaker has said in the past, and I think this is right, we should never move forward with impeachment for political purposes. We should never refuse to move forward on impeachment for political reasons. So I think this will be determined by what the evidence and the facts are. Whether that warrants our moving forward, it will be really fact specific. Mr. Mueller's report will inform that as well as the oversight investigations that are underway. I think the speaker's main point is, in order to do this, it would require some participation of our Republican colleagues.


CICILLINE: So far, there's so far no willingness to be part of oversight and about impeachment proceedings. I think that is a reality. You can't do it alone as Democrats. I think she was reinforcing that point in a clear way and recognizing that we have a lot of important priorities that we committed to delivering on and we need to make sure we do that.

BOLDUAN: I hear you on saying that it needs to be based on facts. I think everyone would hope that any significant move like impeachment would be based on facts. But it is, by definition, an entirely political question. That is really at its core. How can you say that politics isn't really a part of the consideration?

CICILLINE: Well, again, I think you have to first start with an examination of the evidence. If the evidence provides a basis for removal of the president of the United States, that it meets the legal standard that we believe that the Constitution establishes, then we are obligated to move forward. We have a constitutional responsibility to do it. If the facts don't provide that basis, then we cannot. I think that --


BOLDUAN: So is your read that people are misreading Nancy Pelosi or maybe Nancy Pelosi went further than Nancy Pelosi probably wanted to go with her comment? CICILLINE: No. I don't want to interpret what the speaker meant. I

think you have to ask her that question. But I think, in general, she has made the point very clear to Democrats that we should recognize the divisive nature of impeachment. We should refrain for doing it if it is perceived for a political purpose just to change who the president is. On the other hand, if there's serous evidence, overwhelming evidence of misconduct that would warrant removal from office, we should be prepared to do it. That is how I heard her remarks.

BOLDUAN: I do want to --

CICILLINE: She has been consistent.

BOLDUAN: Again, I'll add, she told the reporter it was news.


BOLDUAN: So stop trying to gaslight here, Congressman.

I do want to ask you, while I have you, on a very serious topic. President Trump, for about a week now, has been saying in public to reporters and reportedly behind closed doors to donors some variation of Democrats are anti-Israel, Democrats are anti-Jewish. Yesterday, Sarah Sanders was asked about this. She deflected questions about it. Telling reporters they should ask Democrats about it. What do you want to say to the White House about this thought? Some of the reporting is that he allegedly said Democrats hate Jews to donors.


[11:10:32] BOLDUAN: I don't have that element confirmed, but just this narrative that he is pushing. What do you think?

CICILLINE: It is just a typical approach of the president to try to use every occurrence to some political advantage for himself. The Democratic Party has a long and proud tradition of supporting Israel, supporting pro-Israel policies, supporting the relationship between Israel and the United States. The vast majority of American Jewish voters vote Democrat. It is an absurdity to say that the Democratic Party is anti-Jewish or anti-Israel. That is not to say there's not criticism within the Democratic caucus of some Israeli policies. We welcome that. We want to debate on the issues. For the president to suggest that I think is an absurdity and beneath the office and he ought to stop it immediately.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for coming in.

CICILLINE: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: I still believe that Nancy Pelosi gave me news because Nancy Pelosi said she was giving me news.


BOLDUAN: I'm just saying. Thank you so much. I appreciate you coming in.

CICILLINE: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, we have first clues are now out about what caused, what could have caused the Ethiopian Airlines flight to crash. What did flight control problems -- that's the line -- what does it have to do with it? And what does it mean as more countries and airlines are grounding the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Plus, New York's attorney general is zeroing in on the Trump Organization. What are the state investigators looking for now and what does it mean for President Trump?


[11:16:14] BOLDUAN: So there's a new investigation into President Trump today, not from Robert Mueller, not from the Southern District of New York, not even from congressional Democrats. This one from the New York attorney general issuing subpoenas to Deutsche Bank. The large international bank extended loans to the Trump Organization for the past decade and now they are in the spotlight.

CNN's Kara Scannell is getting some of this new reporting on this.

Kara, what are you learning?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Kate. The New York attorney general's office, led my Letitia James, has subpoenaed Deutsche Bank seeking documents and information relating to a series of loans, mortgages and lines of credit that the bank has extended to the Trump Organization, specifically referring in the subpoena, according to a source, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Trump Hotel in Chicago, the golf course outside of Miami, the Trump National Doral. And also they're asking for information about the Trump Organization's efforts to obtain a loan from Deutsche Bank in a bid that they lost to buy the Buffalo Bills football team. The "New York Times" is also reporting that the New York attorney general's office has subpoenaed Investors Bank relating to financial dealings that they had done with Trump Park Tower. This is the latest wave of subpoenas. They now seem to be targeting the Trump Organization and its financial dealings.

And they appear to be stemming in some part from Michael Cohen, who, when he testified last month, had essentially alleged that the Trump Organization and Trump himself had manipulated his financial statements. Let's listen.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in "Forbes," and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCANNELL: The New York A.G. is not the only investigator looking after this. Last week, we reported that New York's top insurance regulator has subpoenaed Trump's insurance broker -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Kara, thank you so much.

We are getting some breaking news just in to CNN. A dozen people are facing charges now in a college entrance-exam cheating scheme that seems to be widespread and hitting some of the nation's top universities and big names.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has the breaking details as we are awaiting a press conference to lay all of this out in more detail.

Brynn, what have you got?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The big names that we are hearing, who have been arrested or awaiting arrest in relation to this giant scheme uncovered by the FBI, is Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, two actresses, allegedly by federal authorities who say they were involved in the scheme.

I want to explain the scheme to you as we are being told before this news conference. This person would basically help students take SATs or ACT -- those are the entrance exams -- in order to get into elite colleges. This person was paid by parents to do that. That was one side of the scheme. Another part of the scheme was the same person, now indicted by federal authorities, would bribe universities' coaches to help students get into the universities basically through college athletics, even if they had no talent whatsoever when it came to athletics. It's a large scheme. We're working to get more details. The two names that were big coming from this Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. We're told Felicity Huffman has been arrested this morning in L.A. Lori Loughlin, we're told from a source, is waiting to turn herself in. Again, right now, we are seeing that they are being charged with conspiracy to conduct mail fraud, and honest services mail fraud, and that is according to court paperwork filed here in Boston.

Again, we'll getting more information as soon as the news conference starts. It's a huge scheme that has a lot of details and we will bring you more as soon as we can -- Kate?

[11:20:07] BOLDUAN: It does seem to be a huge thing that justice officials are going to be laying out in Boston in just a few minutes. We will bring more details as we get them.

Brynn, thank you so much.

While we await that, I want to bring in CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, as well as CNN legal analyst, Jennifer Rodgers.

You guys have poured over these documents. Can you give me your sense of what this actually means, Paul? We have huge big-name universities, big-name celebrities. The accusation is trying to pay off schools or people to get their kids into college. What does it mean?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is very interesting. Federal prosecutors are using a statutory scheme that they usually use in organized crime cases called RICO indictments. They are saying that this advisory board for parents to get their kids into college, called -- the nickname was The Key, was accepting huge amounts of money to employ people to take SAT tests, take ACT tests, and even more interestingly to forge athletic resumes for the students in question. For instance, there's one case cited here involving Yale University where $1.2 million was paid to get a coach to say that a young lady had a spectacular athletic background to help her get into Yale. And it was this sort of --


BOLDUAN: Obviously, we know that, in theory, her academic record would be less of a consideration getting her into school because of her athletic abilities.

CALLAN: That's correct.

BOLDUAN: It's really amazing, not only on all fronts, how big this scheme seems to be, how long it went on. I think it started back in 2011 going all the way to 2019. Jennifer, charged -- Felicity Huffman arrested and charged with a felony. Does that surprise you?



RODGERS: It always surprises you what lengths people will go to cheat to get their kids into school. We are seeing reporting of 49 people arrested across seven indictments. They are using the racketeering statute. This is a major scheme. And it appears that the enterprise was all about fraud. This guy set up the company to help people cheat to get into college. There's a big market for that. People who have money, apparently, some of them will pay money to get their kids in. That seems to be what ensnared the actresses.

BOLDUAN: We will be hearing from justice officials coming up. What answers are you looking to get from them now? There are pages and pages coming out in the indictments.

CALLAN: I think what we want to see, first, these are elite colleges that are admitting these students. How could they be so easily defrauded by having false takers of the SAT and ACT? But most importantly --

BOLDUAN: Now the fault is on the parents who are trying to bribe their way into college.

CALLAN: That is where the criminal conduct occurs. You have to wonder how they pull the wool over the eyes of the admissions people at Georgetown, Yale, Wake Forest, some of the great colleges that are involved. One thing I am very surprised by and I want to hear more details about is, when you forge an athletic resume, when you say that someone is a superstar soccer player who deserves to play for Yale, how do you pull that off?


CALLAN: It's really going to be amazing to see the details here as to how this scam was executed. It went on from 2011 to 2019. Over $25 million allegedly in bribes paid to admit the students.

BOLDUAN: The dollar amount here is really mind boggling. What they are accused of doing is really offensive to anybody who went through the regular process of trying to get into one of these schools.

RODGERS: One interesting thing to watch is some of the people charged in one of the indictments are people who worked at the schools. Some of the coaches at the schools were also involved, which explains --


RODGERS: -- how these people got through.

One other interesting thing is listed -- Singer, who was the architect of the scheme and owner of the test prep company, is charged in what is called "an information." It usually means he has waived the right to be indicted by a grand jury which usually means the person is cooperating with authorities.


BOLDUAN: That is, of course, one question that comes up is, how did this case begin?


BOLDUAN: How did they uncover this Key foundation?


RODGERS: And who is cooperating? When someone is cooperating, it is usually not the top guy. They usually don't cooperate, the architect of the scheme. I'm not sure if that has happened here. That is one thing to look out for.

BOLDUAN: As I'm looking at the information coming into CNN, Felicity Huffman is charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to court papers. Actress Lori Loughlin, who is known for being on "Full House," she is also facing the same felony charge conspiracy, mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

What kind of punishment comes with this?

[11:25:18] CALLAN: There are multiple indictments here. I have read online at least they are posting as many as seven indictments coming down with different groups of people. This is the mail fraud indictment. Mail fraud can be punishable from five years and up in terms of the punishment depending upon whether somebody has a criminal record and depending upon their involvement in the scheme. Needless to say, all of these charges are very, very serious felony charges.

BOLDUAN: It begs the question what it means for their kids if they are still in school. I have no idea.



CALLAN: The kids -- the kids may be --


CALLAN: Well, you have to think the kids would be innocent victims of this. But on the other hand, if you are forging an athletic career for a kid --


RODGERS: Not if they didn't take the exams themselves, which is some of the allegations.

CALLAN: Yes. So the kids -- the kids are adults and they obviously knew what they were doing if somebody else took the test.

BOLDUAN: It's really a remarkable thing that we're seeing right now.

We do know that justice officials will be speaking any minute now. Any more detail we get on this wide-ranging scheme that they say they're uncovering the charges that they filed, the arrests have been made, high-profile universities, Yale, Georgetown, others, high- profile names -- actresses like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin -- are charged in this. We'll bring you more details and bring that to you live as soon as it happens.

We'll be right back.