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Sen. Jack Reed (D) of Rhode Island Discusses Public Seeing Mueller Report, Trump's Emergency Declaration, Trump's Criticism of John McCain; Arguments over Trump Profiting from Hotel in Washington; The Latino Voters Supporting Trump; Boeing CEO Breaks Silence on 2 Deadly Plane Crashes. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 19, 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] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Are you concerned at all that you may not get the opportunity to see this report in its entirety?

SEN. JACK REED, (D), RHODE ISLAND: I am very much concerned. I believe that the attorney general has the first review of the report from Director Mueller. And I would be hoping that he would make the report available to Congress and that appropriate sections of the report could be made public. In fact, the House overwhelmingly voted on a bipartisan basis just last week that the report should be fully public. That's the only way you are going to give I think confidence that there has been a thorough, full investigation and that the facts have led to appropriate legal conclusions.

NOBLES: So if the Mueller report is heavily redacted by the time it reaches you, do you support calling Mueller before your committee to answer questions about his investigation and his findings?

REED: Well, I think it would be appropriate after the report has been released to have Director Mueller come before the Congress. The precise committee where he would appear, that could be debated. Again, he I think should be available to answer questions that the American public will have. And the irony here is a lot of this drama about the Mueller report could be eliminated easily if the president would do several simple things, one testify under oath before Director Mueller and answer all the questions that have been raised and put those questions to rest, release his income tax which is something that has caused quite a bit of controversy and other things that he could do immediately to end this long battle over what happened in the 2016 campaign.

NOBLES: So you're obviously the ranking member in the Armed Services Committee. You have been trying days to find out what military construction projects would be cut to pay for the president's border wall. You did finally get the list of projects that could be cut. What concerns you the most about this proposal from the Trump administration?

REED: Well, getting the list was extremely important. It was no longer sort of an academic sort of transfer of some money into the wall. These are specific projects that cover the entire United States and the world. They go to the readiness and training of our forces to quality of life of troops and their families. There will be real tradeoffs here. It will be to the detriment of our military. All of these projects have been appropriated by the Appropriations Committee. Based on the request of the Department of Defense that these are critical to our national security, there's not a national security issue at the border. In fact, the head of Northern Command made it clear there's no military threat coming from Mexico. The military threats are across the globe. The readiness for those threats have to be undertaken at posts here in the United States. That's where we should be investing the money. It is no longer an academic trade off. These are specific projects at specific posts all through the United States. I hope my colleagues pay attention.

NOBLES: Acting Secretary Shanahan was before your committee. He did not have this list when he testified last year. Then he went past the deadline to hand it over to you. There's some thought that President Trump would like to keep him in the job permanently. Based on not just this, but your entire experience working with him, do you think he should have the job of secretary of defense on a permanent basis?

REED: That is the president's initial decision and then his record will be reviewed by all my colleagues. We were engaged in a very vigorous discussion last week about the list and I think through his efforts the list was produced not as timely as he suggested initially, but within a reasonable time. Again, this is a very complicated set of issues. I'll wait for the president. He has the first move in this situation. And then we will evaluate that individual very thoroughly based upon many factors their ability to -- I think very importantly to give the president wise counsel, to speak truth to power. We don't want someone who is simply going to be a presidential sort of messenger. We want someone who will stand up as did Mattis did and say, Mr. President, this situation I advise against it or I advise for it. Someone with independent judgement. We'll be looking for that.

[11:35:02] NOBLES: You have been pretty outspoken about the president's criticism of the late Senator John McCain over the weekend. How do you think your friend would have responded to the way the president has attacked him?

REED: Well, I think he would have taken a substantive course. I think in this debate over the powers of the Congress versus the president on the emergency. I have the feeling that he would have lined up with several other Republicans and opposed the president's power grab. John was someone who understood the checks and balances, that the role of the Senate particularly and the importance of the Senate to speak out on public issues. We have lost a great voice for this country. He would stand up and criticize presidents of both party physical he felt they were taking the wrong course of action. I think he would be very, very strong not in a personal petty way but in a principle way talking about how this is not the right way to proceed and he would be in sense that the military was being used to fund this wall. I think he would be adamant in his criticism of that.

NOBLES: Senator Jack Reed, thank you. I talked to you about a number of topics.

REED: Thank you.

NOBLES: Thank you very much.

REED: Thank you very much.

NOBLES: Coming up, can President Trump legally own a hotel just steps from the White House? Arguments underway right now in a case asking that very question.

We'll have more when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:41:04] NOBLES: Oral arguments are underway right now in a case that could determine if President Trump is illegally profiting from the presidency. At issue is the Trump International Hotel blocks away from the White House. The attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C., allege that the president is violating the Constitution's Emolument Clause by benefitting from foreign dignitaries who book rooms and hold events at the hotel. Justice Department lawyers argue that the term "emoluments" specifically refers to a payment made to a public official for a service, like a salary or consulting fee. Money from a private-business dealings would be exempt. They are asking that the case be thrown out.

Joining me now to talk about this is CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu.

Shan, first off, just lay out the importance of this case.

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. As with so many things regarding the president, it's basically a mess of his own making. The importance of the case is this rather obscure clause that we are all now talking about prohibits the idea of a president profiting from his office. Originally it seems like the framers were concerned with the idea of a president being conferred like a title of nobility by a foreign government or a foreign government giving them a title and then paying them. Fast forward to now, Trump has all these business interests that, unlike any other president, he has not put into a blind trust. So this is a question of let's take a look at the interests. Can it be that you're profiting from being president when foreign dignitaries that are staying at your hotel? He, of course, has raised the big constitutional issue of absolute immunity of the president, you're can't touch me, I'm president.

NOBLES: To that point, do the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C., have standing to sue here? Is that what we are trying to figure out?

WU: I think they have standing to sue. Thus far, they have succeeded at the lower court. At the trial court level, the judge agreed with them. Now they are at the level of the court of appeals. This is likely headed to the Supreme Court no matter what direction that it goes in. It is something that could be voided if the president was more transparent about his finances. As we think about the questions of, what did the framers intend, I think there's an easy way to cut through that. Let's say George Washington opened up a tavern and made everyone who came to see him stay there.

NOBLES: A very good analogy. At this point right now, this case is about a very narrow aspect of the president's personal business. We are talking about this hotel in D.C. But there are a lot of other examples of his business interests all around the world where there may be some sort of foreign entanglement. Could this lead to more lawsuits once it is ultimately decided?

WU: It could lead to more lawsuits, and perhaps more directly, the discovery process right now is kind of on hold because of the appeal. If the discovery process moves forward that kind of information may give rise to more investigations, more lawsuits. And, of course, that's what the president and his lawyers are very concerned about and really the Justice Department is helping them kind of push back against that to shield that possibility I think.

NOBLES: So to that point, that could mean they could be forced to turn over documents and could mean we would get to see something like the president's tax returns? You talk about the president not being transparent. Could this be the transparency that some are looking for?

WU: It could be. The president's tax returns are like the search for the Holy Grail. There are so many attempts to try to get to it. This is certainly one that could lead to that. I think at this point, it's probably just a matter of time before he has to turn those over. Of course, there will be other fights as to if we will get to see them.

NOBLES: That's right.

Shan Wu talking about the tax returns as the Holy Grail. Shan breaking new ground on CNN this morning.

Shan, thank you for being here.

WU: Thanks, Ryan.

[11:45:00] NOBLES: Coming up, President Trump says Latino Americans love him. The new poll sheds light on his level of support. You'll want to see this CNN special report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You want to see this not only taller, but longer?

ROLANDO RODRIGUEZ, TEXAS RESIDENT: Longer and taller, yes.

MARQUEZ: How much taller?

RODRIGUEZ: Twice, twice as much, at least.

MAYRA GUTIERREZ, TEXAS RESIDENT: We do have a lot of problems here with immigration and I do support his stance for the wall.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:49:50] NOBLES: President Trump often touts his support from Latino voters, and according to a new CNN poll, the president does have a 34 percent approval rating among Latinos. In fact, that's the highest it's been since October. So who are the Latino voters supporting the president?

CNN's Miguel Marquez went to Texas to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, dividing countries and Latino voters.

(on camera): You were born and raised in McAllen, Texas, correct?

RODRIGUEZ: Uh-huh.

MARQUEZ: And you live a mile from the wall?

RODRIGUEZ: Uh-huh.

MARQUEZ: And you want to see it not only taller but longer?

RODRIGUEZ: Longer and taller, yes.

MARQUEZ: How much?

RODRIGUEZ: Twice, twice as much, at least

MARQUEZ: You want the whole border, 2600 miles?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes.

MARQUEZ: Twenty-six hundred miles?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): President Trump, for years --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Hispanics that are in the country legally, they love me.

MARQUEZ: -- has touted how much Latino voters love him. Rolando Rodriguez is the one who likes the president's business acumen, religious alignments and border politics, particularly the wall.

RODRIGUEZ: I don't think the wall is going to be a barrier, really, for the good people. It will be a barrier for the bad people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

MARQUEZ: While, according to Gallup, a majority of Latinos disapprove of the president's job performance --

(SHOUTING) MARQUEZ: -- many angered by the family separation policy, focus on the wall and rhetoric about immigrants. The president still has some Latino support, about a third, which is on par with other past Republican presidents.

(on camera): You're working on your citizenship?

GUTIERREZ: I am working on my citizenship.

(CROSSTALK)

GUTIERREZ: Not yet.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Mayra Gutierrez came to America from Mexico when she was three. She is working on obtaining her citizenship in hopes of when the president runs in 2020. Her top three issues, abortion, the economy, and immigration.

GUTIERREZ: We do have a lot of problems on immigration and I do support his stance for the wall.

MARQUEZ: Trump-supporting Latinos here say the president has more support than many are willing to admit.

Joachim Hernandez is president of the Hidalgo County Young Republicans. He says his membership has more than double in the last year.

(on camera): How difficult a sell is it for young Republicans, young people, to Latinos in this area to support a Republican Party president?

JOACHIM HERNANDEZ, PRESIDENT, HIDALGO COUNTY YOUNG REPUBLICANS: I'm actually kind of shocked, because the last time the president came to the valley, there was a lot of people out there supporting him.

MARQUEZ: Hernandez and other Latinos we spoke to have no doubt that, with their help, Trump will win a second term in office and make good on his promise to fix an immigration system they view as broken.

(oc0: Here in southwest Texas, this is what the barrier looks like in large part. Metal about five feet high, but to be fair on the other side there's about a 20-foot drop you can't see now. But most Latinos across the country say they do not agree with the president on I see immigration policies and his idea of building a wall. But those we spoke to in this area say there's a national emergency, and they would like to see this thing doubled or tripled in size.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Hidalgo County, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: Miguel, thank you very much.

Coming up, the CEO of Boeing breaks his silence after two deadly plane crashes in just five months. Next, what he wants passengers to know and what he says the company is doing to keep them safe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:58:18] NOBLES: Boeing is attempting to bolster confidence in the wake of two deadly plane crashes. The incidents involving the 737 MAX airliners happened within five months of each other. International concern has left the jets grounded worldwide.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg promises that update to software and pilot training and coming soon.

CNN's Tom Foreman is here with more.

Tom, what else did the CEO have to say?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ryan, he essentially said, trust us. We, at Boeing, take this loss of life very seriously. We're intent on getting to the bottom of the problem and we're going to solve it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS MUILENBURG, CEO, BOEING: As more facts from the accident become available and we understand the necessary next steps, we're taking action to fully reassure airlines and their passengers of the safety of the 737 MAX. Soon we'll release a software update for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air flight 610 accident.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: This software is expected to control the degree to which this other software, the software update, will keep this other software from possibly pushing this plane into a fatal dive. That's been the concern all along. It may also bring more warnings to the pilots if this other system has been activated on the plane.

What's at stake for Muilenburg is his entire legacy. Yes, he makes tens of millions of dollars. Boeing has just been soaring in terms of wealth in recent years and they're in a fight with Airbus. But this is a guy who started as an intern in the company. He's worked his way up to be the guy in charge. He doesn't want to see all of that fall apart, especially on such a terrible ending that would be so bad for Boeing -- Ryan?

NOBLES: Tom Foreman, thank you for that report. We appreciate it.

And thank you for joining me.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.