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Rep. Gregory Meeks (D), of New York Discusses Role of Trump's Rhetoric in New Zealand Attacks, Islamophobia in Congress, Mueller Report; Trump Demands FOX Bring Back Jeanine Pirro Following Comments on Rep. Ilhan Omar; FOX Yet to Tucker Carlson over Controversial Comments; Dept. of Transportation Investigating FAA's Approval of Boeing 737 Max. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 18, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:32:23] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Some Democrats are blasting President Trump for not speaking out against white nationalists after the horrific terror attack that left 50 people dead at two mosques in New Zealand. Senator Tim Kaine, of Virginia, said some of the president's words incite violence.


SEN. TIM KAINE, (D), VIRGINIA: I think the president is using language that emboldens them. He's not creating them. They're out there. That kind of language from the person who probably has the loudest microphone on the planet earth is hurtful and dangerous and it tends to incite violence.


NOBLES: The White House strongly denies that President Trump is easy on white supremacists. Moments ago, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, quote, "We, too, have seen the face of such evil with attacks in places such as Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and Charleston. And in the wake of the New Zealand tragedy, I want to make one think very clear, we will not permit such hate in the homeland."

Joining me now to discuss this and several other topics, Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York. He's a member of the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Congressman, just first your impression of the role that President Trump has played in the wake of the New Zealand attacks. We have seen members of his administration call out white nationalism. We haven't necessarily heard that from the president. Do you think the president should be more forceful in regard to that?

GREGORY MEEKS, (D), NEW YORK: Absolutely. The president is supposed to be and he is the most powerful person in the world. And therefore he has the biggest megaphone in the world. And he uses it for other reasons. But on this and anytime we are talking about white supremacy or white nationalism, he chooses not to use it. The language that he uses continually, even when he talked about the horrific incident in New Zealand, he came back and was talking about invaders, which is the same kind of language that you see white nationalists and white supremacists use on a consistent base. You add that on the kinds of things the president has said, whether during the campaign or before the campaign started, whether it was about Barack Obama and his status, those languages that are code words that leads and builds one upon the other. You generally would say, oh, he made a statement. It keeps building and it happens on a consistent basis.

NOBLES: The counterpoint came to the president's ambassador to New Zealand, Scott Brown, former U.S. Senator. This is what he had to say on CNN yesterday. Take a listen.


SCOTT BROWN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NEW ZEALAND: I don't give any credibility whatsoever to the ramblings of someone who is rotten to the core and is an extremist of the worse kind who can walk into two mosques and, without any care whatsoever, kill people. I don't give credibility to it. I'm not going a read it. I encourage others not to read it. I'm not going to give him the time of day.


[11:35:15] NOBLES: So this was in response to a question about President Trump's name appearing in this manifesto that the attacker used. The ambassador's argument being that this is a crazy man and the president's name may or may not have been in there. This has nothing to do with President Trump. Do you agree with that?

MEEKS: I think that anybody who is hateful is crazy. You can say he is crazy, but he is definitely a white nationalist or a white supremist. To me, that goes hand in hand. To try to wash away the fact that he is crazy, that he is not a white nationalist, doesn't hold water. He is a white nationalist. Anybody so full of that kind of hate, in my estimation, is, in fact, crazy.

NOBLES: There has been a lot of talk within your own Democratic Party, you are having an internal debate about hate speech and a resolution following remarks made by Congressman Omar and the resolution condemning hate speech. I want you to hear what Congressman Rashida Tlaib, also a Muslim member of Congress, had to say about this. Take a listen.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, (D), MICHGAN: This past week, I feel, and I know this would be somewhat shocking for some, but I think Islamophobia is very much among the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party.


NOBLES: We talked a lot of the Republicans' role in all of this. Here is one of your colleagues, who is Muslim, saying the Democratic Party has a problem with Islamophobia. Do you find that shocking? MEEKS: No. Because what I heard her say afterwards is important, too. She was saying is there has been a Republican -- right after she said that -- on the other side of the aisle, there has been some Republicans who have utilized some very similar language as what my colleague has. It's bad. The language is hurtful to my Jewish friends. There were some others on the Republican side of the aisle who used the same language and yet the same venom and the same had not been pointing at them, calling them out for the kind of language, anti-Semitism language that they utilized. You heard what recently happened with King. It's not only King. There are other individuals there. And then to close your eyes, which is worse. Dr. King said we will have to pay for not the bad acts, but for the silence of the good people. To hear all of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are silent, that is a tough thing.

NOBLES: Would you argue that the Democrats had been more forceful in pushing back against their own members when they said things that you would deem inappropriate?

MEEKS: Generally, I would say absolutely.

NOBLES: I want to move on and talk to you about the Mueller report. It seems as though everybody is waiting for it to come out. We have been told for some time that it is imminent. From your perspective, do you think we can see it drop sometime this week or in the near future? Any insight into that?

MEEKS: No insight but it will happen when it happens. I think that Mr. Mueller, when he first came in, on both sides, everybody said that he was a good man. He would do the appropriate thing. So for me, you let the work happen as it happens. You let the investigation conclude when the authorities think that it should conclude.

NOBLES: Everybody seems to think it should be made public. Even President Trump tweeting over the weekend that he thinks the report should be released. Do you feel confident that once Robert Mueller wraps up this investigation and all of us are able to read his findings?

MEEKS: We'll see. I think that the American public deserves the right to know exactly what is in that report so that we can make a determination as to where or what if anything was violated by the president of the United States, according to the Mueller investigation. Of course, we also have the Southern District investigation that is taking place. We need to get all of those facts so that we can make a determination of where the president of the United States, where, if anything he violated any rules or laws or anything else that took place that we should look at.

NOBLES: Congressman Gregory Meeks, I know this is your week in the district working with your constituents. Appreciate you giving a few minutes today.

MEEKS: My pleasure. Good being with you.

[11:39:37] NOBLES: Coming up, stay strong and fight back -- that's the message from President Trump as he defends two FOX News hosts after a string of controversial comments. Why is the network staying quiet?


NOBLES: Breaking news this morning from the Russia investigation. A judge is allowing documents related to law enforcement raids of Michael Cohen to be viewed for the first time. Judge William Pauley, from the Southern District of New York, issued the order within the last hour. Redacted documents are said to include search warrant materials used in the 2018 raids of Cohen's home, office and hotel room. They are expected to be filed in a public court -- a document tomorrow.

It is no secret that President Trump and FOX News share a friendly relationship. Now the president is going after the network to defend one of his biggest defenders. In a string of tweets over the weekend, President Trump demanding that FOX News bring back Jeanine Pirro. Sources tell CNN she was suspended over comments made over Congresswoman Ilhan Omar which some see as Islamophobic. FOX responded condemning her remarks but, so far, Pirro has yet to apologize.

With me now to discuss this, CNN chief media correspondent and the host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter.

Brian, what have you learned about Judge Pirro's status with FOX right now?

[11:45:34] BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": You might say FOX is having it both ways. A source familiar with the matter says she was suspended after the rant however she has not been fired and the network will not confirm publicly that she is suspended. You saw the tweets from the president over the weekend, three tweets saying bring back Judge Jeanine. He is urging the network in his words to stay strong and fight back against the left. The network -- he is criticizing several of FOX's news anchors. He is supporting the opinion of talk-show hosts. The network is being very quiet about this because I don't think it wants to pick a fight with the president, lest it tick off its own viewers.

NOBLES: You mentioned Tucker Carlson. He is coming under some criticism for controversial comments he made a while ago. The network has not really taken any action related to Carlson, have they?

STELTER: No. He has remained on the air. We have noticed that the number of ads on his show has really declined. We are seeing a significant advertiser pressure campaign by this liberal group media matters. You look at the number of minutes of ads on his show there's a small ad. What we are seeing is that a lot of advertisers don't want to be associated with these kinds of shows that end up still getting a lot of controversy and end up causing a lot of concern. They have pulled out. FOX is standing by Tucker. That is something else the president said, stay with Tucker Carlson. I think the president is trying to make sure his biggest supporters on TV stay on TV. It's like a shelter in the storm. He wants to make sure the shelter is reinforced.

NOBLES: All right, Brian Stelter, thank you for that update.

STELTER: Thank you.

NOBLES: Appreciate it.

Still coming up, new clues and new questions over the 737 MAX after two deadly crashes. Now authorities are reportedly issuing a subpoena to Boeing. Next, we'll have the latest on the investigation.


[11:52:03] NOBLES: This morning, the Federal Aviation Administration is under investigation. According to the "Wall Street Journal," the Department of Transportation is looking into the FAA's approval of the Boeing 737 MAX airplane, the best-selling jet liner involved in two fatal air crashes just six months apart. A subpoena has been issued to at least one person involved in the development of the plane.

Here to discuss this, CNN correspondent, Tom Foreman.

Tom, I know you've been following this story very closely. What are you learning about the investigation?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The FAA says they're just following normal procedures. That's all it's done all along. This "Wall Street Journal" article raises the possibility of the idea that in the rush for Boeing to get these new line of MAX planes out that the FAA relied too much on Boeing itself to say, we did safety checks, this is OK. We looked at the system, it's OK. That's why this investigation is underway, Ryan. The simple idea that maybe the FAA and Boeing got too cozy with each other in the name of getting this plane out so that Boeing could reap the benefits of that in this great competitive war they're having with Airbus for domination of the world air markets.

NOBLES: So what do we know, Tom, about the similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash that happened in Indonesia?

FOREMAN: We know in the Lion Air crash there was a disagreement between what we knew the pilots was doing, which was trying to keep it flying level, and an onboard air system that made it dive over and over again. There are things in the flight track of the Ethiopian plane that suggest it may have done the same thing. There's evidence on the ground that suspect it may have done the same thing. That's why there's so much concern, the idea that maybe, even as the pilots fought to keep the planes up in the air, that there was an onboard system on this new state of the art airplane that was actively fighting them and refusing to let them keep it up in the air. That's what this is all about -- Ryan?

NOBLES: Tom Foreman, continuing to cover the situation with that Boeing plane. We appreciate that report.

FOREMAN: Appreciate it.

NOBLES: Coming up, $6.1 billion -- Beto O'Rourke breaks fundraising records. Can he keep up the momentum?

But first, the death of a parent is a trauma that leaves a lifelong impact on children. After losing her dad when she was 14, this week's "CNN Hero" struggled with depression into her late 20s, when she finally got help. For two decades, Mary Robertson has dedicated herself to make sure other children don't lose years of their life to unresolved grief.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: My name is Bella and my dad died.

MARY ROBINSON, CNN HERO: Kids in grief are kids at risk.


ROBINSON: Time does not heal all wounds. Time helps but it's what you do with that time. And what you need to do is mourn.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: When you hear other people's stories, it brings comfort.

ROBINSON: That's why a place like imagine exists, so children can mourn their loss and find out that they're not alone.


[11:55:08] NOBLES: To meet some of the families Mary is helping and to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to

And we'll be right back.