Return to Transcripts main page


Attorney General Barr Says Mueller Report Is Nearly 400 Pages, Expects Release "By Mid-April, In Not Sooner"; Judiciary Chair Demands No Redactions; Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D) California Is Interviewed If He's Satisfied About The Two-Page Letter From Bill Barr; Barr Says His Letter On Mueller Report Was Not Meant To Be "An Exhaustive Recounting" Of The Nearly 400-Page Report; Ocasio-Cortez: Trump Just Wants Another Woman To "Vilify"; Trump Threatens to Close Southern Border Next Week; Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) Arizona is Interviewed About President Trump's Threat to Close the Southern Border. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 29, 2019 - 19:00   ET


ARWA DAMON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: .. to wait, bide their time, and then emerge even more powerful as they have in the past than before.

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: Arwa Damon doing amazing reporting for us. Thank you so much. Very, very excellent report. We're grateful to you. That's it for me. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: OutFront next breaking news, showdown over the Mueller report, the Attorney General giving a new timeline for a release with redactions. Plus, the President threatens to shut down the U.S.-Mexican border next week. What would that mean? We are live at the border. And the GOP's new villain, why Republicans are talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez more than any other Democrat, including anybody running for President? Let's go OutFront.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news, showdown over the Mueller report. The Attorney General Bill Barr has put out today this, a two-page letter to Congress. In it he promises he will give something to the public by mid-April but he adds a quote, this is one of the operative lines, "We are preparing the report for release, making the redactions that are required." The emphasis, of course, is mine.

But Attorney General Barr then spends six lines in here, six lines, the biggest chunk right in here, OK, listing possible areas of redaction, including, "Information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties." Now, obviously, peripheral is quite a subjective word, isn't it?

Redaction can be a hugely subjective enterprise, a way to hide important information, the country has a right to know or utterly innocuous and that is the problem, which is it going to be? Redactions are not flying with the powerful Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler. Within minutes of getting Barr's letter, he fired back with his own letter writing in part, "As I informed the Attorney General earlier this week, Congress requires the full and complete Mueller report without redactions," emphasis again mine, "As well as access to the underlying evidence, by April 2. That deadline still stands.

The battle lines are drawn with Barr fighting the battle as President Trump acts as if he could care less. He doesn't have a care in the world about the nearly 400 page Mueller report.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to hide. This was a hoax. This was a witch hunt. I have absolutely nothing to hide.


BURNETT: Never mind, of course, the six people in his arb are going to prison and the 38 other people charged and the Russians and its criminal counts and putting all that aside that, all know this was not a witch hunt or a hoax, let's hone in on the operative words there. Absolutely, nothing to hide.

If that is the truth, then let's bring it on, all 300 to 400 pages, because as we have seen so far of those nearly 400 pages, all we've gotten is 101 words from the actual report. We got this summary which is a loaded term apparently today. This summary from Bill Barr only 101 words in here actually came from Bob Miller. If you take away the title and the footnote, it's 74 words, that is all we have to go on.

Manu Raju is OutFront on Capitol Hill. And Manu, this is a huge fight, redactions or no redactions and when are we going to get it? Nadler and Barr fisticuffs on, how tough is this going to get?

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It could get very intense, Erin. It really depends on how much latitude the Justice Department feels it has to redact information, how much information is ultimately redacted. I can tell you in a private phone call that Bill Barr had with Jerry Nadler earlier this week, the question is how much would ultimately be redacted came up in that 10-minute phone call.

And while the call was cordial, that key question was not answered when Nadler pressed it. Now, Nadler also suggested to Barr that they go to court and work together to get a court order to release the Grand Jury information that the Democrats have been demanding as part of their demands for releasing the full report, Barr was open to those, that suggestion I am told. But he did not say that he would go forward with that.

Nevertheless, Democrats are saying that they want the full report by April 2nd, which they are not going to get. The question is what do they do next, when do they start to issue subpoenas and what will they ultimately be satisfied with given that there will ultimately be redactions. Will they agree to some sort of middle ground at the moment they're showing that they're going to offer no give here, but the bottom line is how hard do they push it, will they succeed.

They are saying tonight, Erin, that precedent is on their side, they're studying the Watergate case, the Ken Starr case, the Republican investigation to the Clinton email probe to say on all of those cases, Grand Jury information and other underlying information came to Congress. They're saying in this situation, it should happen as well, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Manu. And I want to go now to Democratic Congressman Jimmy Gomez who sits in the House Oversight Committee. Congressman, thank you very much for being with me. So we get this two-page letter from Bill Barr today. Are you satisfied with it?

REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-CA), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: No, not at all. See, I wanted to see the report and the American people want to see the report immediately.


And we want to make sure that all of the evidence comes out and the truth comes out. If they were going to redact something, I understand on some level, but at the same time if they're redacting in order to protect the President from saving them from embarrassment or preventing Congress from following lines of information then that's completely unacceptable and we're going to push back.

BURNETT: All right. So let me just get to the bottom of this issue, because this is what this is about. I mean, they're fighting over the date, but the real issue here is what we're going to get.

GOMEZ: Correct.

BURNETT: And Chairman Nadler is saying, "I don't want any redactions." Any at all. He's going all the way over here. The top Republican on the Judiciary Committee Doug Collins says that if that happens Barr would "break the law." That there need to be redactions, National Security sources and methods. According to Barr's letter as I've said the longest part of it was listing out what he's working topically to redact and he says including, "Material the intelligence community identifies as potentially compromising sensitive sources and methods." So do you support those sorts of redactions?

GOMEZ: I think that he has to work with Chairman Nadler to determine what is actually redacted. I think that in that sense they can really get to a middle ground, but at the same time nobody trusts this administration and we don't trust Bill Barr to not redact information and parts of the report that Congress needs in order to follow up on those parts.

BURNETT: Why do you think Jerry Nadler, Chairman Nadler, is saying no redactions at all? I mean, surely --

GOMEZ: Yes, because listen we've dealt with this administration. Every time we bring anybody in to testify in front of Congress, they dodge, they delay, they don't answer anything, and at the same time we need to do our job. So I understand why Nadler is pushing very hard to make sure that they listen to Congress which is a co-equal branch of government. BURNETT: All right, so then on this other issue of redaction, I

mentioned this in our lead, but I think this is very important. Barr says he's working currently to redact based on several things including information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties. Are you OK with any redactions for that reason given that the word peripheral and third party, of course, is hugely subjective?

GOMEZ: Yes. Who does it include? Does it include Donald Jr.? Who does it really include? And that is part of the problem. If we don't know who it includes, it can actually prevent us from doing our job and following up. So I understand why we're going to continue pushing back, I support that, and I want to see the report with no reductions, but if something is made, I will try to see whether it is first. But, you know what, the American people deserve a full report with no reductions.

BURNETT: Do you support the full unredacted report going to the gang of eight, bipartisan group of lawmakers who have access to the most highly classified information, and not everyone in Congress?

GOMEZ: No. I think that we've had sensitive briefings on a variety of issues with everybody in Congress and I think everybody in Congress deserves to know.

BURNETT: I want to play again some of what President Trump said today about the Mueller report for you, Congressman. Here he is.


TRUMP: I have nothing to hide. This was a hoax. This was a witch hunt.


BURNETT: Congressman Gomez, do you think he genuinely is OK with the release of the entire report or is he saying that while he expects Bill Barr, Mitch McConnell to run interference for him?

GOMEZ: This President has hid everything from the moment he started running. I don't believe him whatsoever. But remember, he also said that he wasn't releasing his taxes because they're under audit. Later we found out that he was lying about that. So he's just saying that because I believe he thinks that Bill Barr is going to do his dirty work.

BURNETT: So in Congress there's also this issue of a deadline which I want to understand from you. Chairman Nadler says April 2nd and he's not moving from it. And now Barr has said mid-April and now Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Senator, of course, says she'd be fine with April 15th. Are you fine with those extra few days, April 15th or do you think this do-or-die on April 2nd is the right way to go?

GOMEZ: I trust Chairman Nadler. Chairman Nadler has been excellent as the chairman of the Judiciary as well as the ranking member. He's pushing -- BURNETT: So he's sticking with April 2nd, you're behind him.

GOMEZ: I'm behind him 100%.

BURNETT: All right, before we go, finally, Attorney General Bill Barr has offered to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1st, House Judiciary Committee May 2nd. Obviously, those are going to be crucial days. What's the most important question you want asked?

GOMEZ: First, honestly, I'm going to leave that up to Chairman Nadler. And here's the thing, I sit on Oversight. I have other questions regarding the taxes, regarding payments to stormy Daniels. I want to get down to the bottom of that. I'm still pursuing that.

At the same time we've seen that these individuals from the administration have been coached by attorneys to not answer a word. So I honestly don't know what information we're going to get from the Attorney General if he goes before Congress. They've showed that time and time again that they're going to dodge and not be forthright.


BURNETT: All right, Congress Gomez, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

GOMEZ: Thank you so much.

BURNETT: And next Attorney General Bill Barr taking issue with anybody who called his four-page summary memo a summary of the Mueller investigation. What's up? What's the problem with the word? You take 400 pages, you distill them down to four but we can't use the word summary? Plus, President Trump insisting the situation on the U.S. southern border is so terrible that he may have to take drastic measures.


TRUMP: There's a very good likelihood that I'll be closing the border next week and that'll be just fine with me.


BURNETT: And Donald Trump Jr. directing his father's followers to attack a new Democrat.


CROWD: AOC sucks. AOC sucks. AOC sucks. AOC sucks.


Breaking news, Attorney General Bill Barr promising to release the Mueller report by mid-April if not sooner, so that's one battle line. But also going to great lengths to reject, OK this is where it gets really strange, descriptions of his letter last week in which he went through Robert Mueller's findings was a summary. He says - he has an issue with that.


OK, so in his new letter today he says, "I'm aware of some media reports and other public statements mischaracterizing my March 24, 2019 supplemental notification as a 'summary' of the Special Counsel's investigation and report. My notification to Congress and the public provided pending release of the report a summary of its principal conclusions."

I mean I don't know lawyers, is it true that Shakespeare said first thing let's kill all the lawyers? OK, OutFront now former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, Harry Sandick, former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa, and Political Editor for The New York Times Patrick Healy.

Harry, OK, I'm sorry, what is the difference between a summary and a summary of principal conclusions?

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I mean we can use words as lawyers to be as specific as we want to be and I suppose in some abstract sense what he is saying is logical. But I think it is somewhat misleading. The way in which it was presented to the public and the way in which President Trump talked about it was not just a summary of principal conclusions but he and his supporters talked about it as a total exoneration.

So he's sort of walking that back. One thinks because maybe there will be things in this report that don't sound like a total exoneration and so better to begin the process of backpedaling now.

BURNETT: All right, Asha, I mean, here's the thing, it's been nearly a week, almost to the day this weekend it'll be since Barr put the four-page distillation out. If you had an issue with it being called a summary as opposed to the principal conclusions, why not speak out sooner unless as Harry said he is trying to backpedal.

ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: I agree with Harry. Look, as lawyers we are trained to know that words have meaning and how those words can be interpreted by the public. And I don't see any reason why even if he chose to do this a week ago, he couldn't have, for example, given the number of pages in the full length of the report or offered a caveat that this does not summarize each individual investigation which the Special Counsel has provided.

I also don't know why if the full report is 400 pages, he couldn't have waited a little longer to provide a more thorough summary if that's what he wanted to do. So, yes, I think this is backpedaling. I think that the pushback has been severe and that it has misled the public on both sides and it does a disservice to Americans and to Congress.

BURNETT: Right. I mean better it would seem to just have the fight you're going to have on redactions and have gotten the whole thing next week or two weeks later, three weeks of fighting and then let's see it all. I mean Patrick, Barr also writes in his new letter, I love this, it's like this era, you write a letter and communicated by letter.

He writes, "Although the President would have the right to assert privilege," he's referring here to executive privilege, "over certain parts of the report, he has stated publicly he intends to defer to me and accordingly there are no plans to submit a report to the White House for a privileged review." OK. To me the words that stood out in here were intends to defer to me. Is Barr running interference for the President, saving him from having to claim executive privilege, because that looks really bad.

PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That's absolutely right. I mean Bill Barr is not Jeff Sessions in President Trump's mind. He really - this is a clear statement of trust in Bill Barr to make decisions that will keep the President, keep the White House from getting into an executive privilege fight that really the takeaway from that would be, what are you hiding or what are you trying to hide instead deferring or at least intends to defer to Bill Barr suggests that the President has nothing to worry about here.

The Justice Department can take care of it. Redactions can be easily done. He's fine because he has come away from this with exoneration being the central message that he wants out. He doesn't want it to be a fight about executive privilege. He doesn't want to get into the White House redacting, he wants just exoneration.

BURNETT: Of course, Asha, the big question I suppose is how the President Bill Barr communicating explicitly, but one way of course they're communicating is the way the President always communicates which is he tells the whole world what he wants one individual to hear. In this case laying praise on Bill Barr, you're amazing, you're amazing, you're amazing. Here he is.


TRUMPM: I have great confidence in the Attorney General.

I will say this, our new Attorney General, Bill Barr, is a great gentleman. And I've heard about him for years. He's a great man.

I'm going to leave that to our new Attorney General, who has been so incredible actually. That's based on a lot of people saying, this is a very, very special person.


BURNETT: Asha, the message is clear.

RANGAPPA: The message is clear and I also think that from Trump's previous behavior his pattern of behavior, he's not inclined to blanketly trust someone without some kind of assurances in my opinion.


I think that one question that members of Congress might have for Bill Barr is whether Attorney General Barr had any conversations with the President either before or after the report was released. Because if he did, then we have a replay of the Bill Clinton-Loretta Lynch scenario on the tarmac. That would be highly inappropriate and really call into question at least perception-wise his ability to make ultimately a prosecutorial decision which is exactly what happened in the Hillary Clinton case.

And I also think that ultimately these facts are going to come out one way or the other and Bill Barr as a pretty highly respected attorney has really put himself on the line in the way that he has decided to present and characterize this report at the outset.

BURNETT: I mean, Harry, this is pretty incredible. There's something going on between these two.

SANDICK: It does seem like it and why did Bill Barr get this job, he had been out of politics, out of government for many years. I don't want to say he was retired, but I don't think he was sort of in the middle of his career to put it - to say the least. And so he emerges because he wrote this 19 page memo in which he specifically said, "I don't think that this can be obstruction."

And then Barr jumps into the vacuum. It's not clear that Mueller intended him to make a finding on obstruction and says, "There's no chargeable obstruction here." So it's understandable why the President would view him with confidence and it's understandable why there would be some skepticism and let him prove everyone who is skeptical, let him prove them wrong through handling this in a fair and transparent way. I hope he does.

BURNETT: So what happens then, Patrick?

HEALY: I think you have a process over the next two weeks where there's going to be a lot of concerns from Democrats about these categories that the Justice Department is suggesting they can do redactions on.

BURNETT: Right, the --

HEALY: I mean, we hear a lot --

BURNETT: Personal privacy and reputational interest.

HEALY: Right, which is that one is a very broad category with these sort of these third party figures whose reputations apparently need to be protected in point of redaction.

BURNETT: Right, but what does peripheral mean: Is Donald Trump Jr. peripheral because he's not being indicted?

HEALY: Right.

BURNETT: Or is he central as most would - I mean, you can see how you could legally parse that.

HEALY: Sure. Absolutely, but at the end of the day you still have the Mueller report in the hands of President Trump's political appointee making the redactions himself and that team making the redactions themselves and you're going to hear Democrats who are going to be able to make a pretty effective argument about wanting to see transparency from the administration and from the Special Counsel on this report.

So the pressure at least for two weeks over redactions is going to be pretty big. If it's not about executive privilege though, that is something that helps Trump.

BURNETT: Well, it's going to be fascinating to see that the President ultimately, truly trusts Bill Barr to do that to say, "OK, I really do trust you. Then, I'm not going to say anything in there I don't like." I mean, it's a tall order. We're talking about 400 pages close to it. Thank you all.

And next, President Trump says the U.S. is facing an unprecedented security crisis at the border. But what is really happening? We are on the ground for an OutFront investigation with Ed Lavandera. And just moments ago, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fighting back to this chant from President Trump's rally last night.


CROWD: AOC sucks. AOC sucks. AOC sucks. AOC sucks.



Just now, the new villain for Republicans Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is fighting back against this attack that Donald Trump Jr. used to rally the base last night.


DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Think about the fact that every mainstream leading Democratic contender is taking the advice of a freshman Congresswoman who three weeks ago didn't know the three branches of government. I don't know about you guys but that's pretty scary.

CROWD: AOC sucks. AOC sucks. AOC sucks. AOC sucks.

TRUMP JR.: You guys, you're not very nice.


BURNETT: Moments ago, Ocasio-Cortez responded.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, DEMOCRAT NEW YORK: He doesn't have another woman, Hillary Clinton or whoever else to vilify anymore, so they need to find another woman to kind of crop up and become a lightning rod.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: OutFront now, CNN Political Commentator Scott Jennings,

former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and former Senior Advisor to Mitch McConnell, and Keith Boykin former Clinton White House Aide. Scott, you heard what she said, this is about them just needing to find a woman to hate on basically, lightning rod was the word she used, what do you say?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, I think she's wrong. I think what they're hating on is the drift of the Democratic Party towards socialism. I think this entire thing you heard Donald Trump Jr. do last night is a continuation of what President Trump started in the State of the Union where he's starting to define the Democratic Party and whoever the nominee that he runs against as a socialist.

And so I think they're going to - and as long by the way she is sort of one of the leading voices of the Party, as long as she's basically the heart and soul of the Party, I think they're going to keep going back to this well to define the Democrats as socialists as they head towards reelection.

BURNETT: I think obviously there's a lot of Republicans who want to act like she is the heart and soul of the Party. That's the big question for Democrats right now. Keith, what do you say? Is she right that this is about them needing to find - it was Hillary and now it's going to be her?

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I think she's exactly right. She's a 29-year-old freshman Member of Congress. She's been in office for all of two months now. Last year as she said at this time she was waitressing at a taco bar, she just got health insurance a month ago, she is finding her sea legs as they say. She's a voice within the Party. She is not the only voice in the party. She's not even in the leadership of the Party.

But Republicans are so fixated on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because she's young, because she's a woman, because she's a woman of color. She's a Latina. She's progressive. She's all of the things that they are afraid of about the changing demographics of this country.

[19:30:04] So they have a consistent pattern when they go out and attack people. They go and attack people like Frederica Wilson. They attack people like Maxine Waters. They attack people like Colin Kaepernick.

Donald Trump is even talking about Jussie Smollett. He doesn't have anything better to talk about. It's always women. It's always people of color. It's always minorities.


BOYKIN: It is always people want to engage in a fear campaign to gin up their right wing base and it's despicable for the president of the United States and his family do to that.

BURNETT: It might be apples and oranges to throw Jussie Smollett in there. He went after him. But I think we could I think all agree that might be in a very different category.

BOYKIN: But the president of the United States shouldn't be talking about that. That's the point.

BURNETT: All right. Scott, what do you make, though, of the obsession that Republicans have with AOC? Because it is that. According to "The Hill" they actually went through and counted, 766 times she has been mentioned on Fox News this year, more than any Democrat who is actually running for president.

SCOTT JENKINS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think Republicans are obsessed with AOC. I think Democrats are. They have elevated her to a leading voice in the party. So much so she is leading on one of their top issues, which is climate change.

And in fact, this week, the Senate Democrats had a chance to vote on one of her ideas on climate change, the Green New Deal and she tweeted that she instructed the Senate Democrats on how she wanted them to vote. So, I don't think Republicans are obsessed with her. I think Democrats are.

And, look, they have elevated her. She is an exciting voice for them. She is an exciting voice for socialism in this country.

And I think as long as she continues to be that kind of a voice, you're going to hear the Republicans talk about it because they think it's indicative of where the Democrats actually are.

BURNETT: So, Keith, you know, when you speak about her being the voice of the party -- look, the Green New Deal is her. Markey couldn't get anyone to pay attention to it until she put her face to it. I want to play this between her and Republican Sean Duffy who slammed the Green New Deal during a committee meeting this week.


REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: I think we should not focus on the rich, wealthy elites who will look at this and go, I love it because I have big money in the bank. Everyone should do this. We should all sign on to it. But if you're a poor family just trying to make ends meet, it's a horrible idea.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: This is not an elitist issue. This is a quality of life issue. You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint whose kids have their blood -- it's ascending in lead levels, their brains are damaged for the rest of their lives. Call them elitist.


BURNETT: All right, moments like that are why presidential candidate Julian Castro told me this week AOC is a breath of fresh air. Keith, is she the leader of the party right now? BOYKIN: No, she's a leader within the party. That's clear. She's an

important voice. She's an impressive voice. She's an impressive young member of Congress.

But she's not the leader of the party and there's no reason why that -- the only people are trying to make her the leader of the party right now are the Republicans because again, it fits into their stereotype of the people who they don't like who they want to demonize in the Democratic Party. Mind you, Melania Trump is out there running this whole Be Best campaign while Donald Trump Jr. is out there leading a chant "AOC sucks" at a rally for the president of the United States.


BURNETT: Back to Donald Trump Jr., who, by the way, Scott, is supposed to be running the Trump Organization, for all sorts of very important reasons in this country, it's not supposed to be doing all this political stuff but I guess they don't care about that.

He is out there saying some things that are -- well, inappropriate. Here he is last night at the rally. A few of the other things he said.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let's call him Adam full of Schiff. Adam Schiff has been peddling so much bull Schiff, he really Schiff the bed.

When I see what my father is doing and I'm the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) proudest Americans to see the result.


BURNETT: Scott, is that all OK, F bombs, S word?

JENNINGS: Adam Schiff deserves everything he's getting and more from the Trumps. He's spent the last two years --

BURNETT: I understand your point of view -- OK.


BOYKIN: Did Adam Schiff ever use a profanity to describe Donald Trump?

JENNINGS: I think accusing someone of treason is worse than a profanity. Accusing someone of being a traitor to their country is worse than a -- it's a profanity to me as a patriotic American. If somebody called my father a traitor, what Donald Trump Jr. said last night would sound like a bedtime story.

BOYKIN: OK. Then, Scott, was it profanity when Donald Trump spent 5- 1/2 years lying about Barack Obama's birth certificate? Essentially accusing him of being treasonous? Thank you very much. (CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: It's the hypocrisy, they consistently attack black people, minorities, anyone who doesn't fit into their image of who America supposed to be.

[19:35:01] And you of all people, Scott, know that, and at least call out the inconsistency.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

And next, President Trump threatens to close down the border in days. So what's really happening there? Our Ed Lavandera investigates.

And coming up, are comments like this going to derail Steve Moore's nomination to the Fed?


STEVE MOORE, ECONOMIST: I'm going to be on a steep learning curve about how the Fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions.



BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump threatening to shut down the southern border as early as next weeks, if Mexico doesn't stop all undocumented immigrants from entering the United States.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to give them hundreds of billions of dollars and tell them they're not going to use the strong immigration laws to help the United States. So there's a very good likelihood that I'll be closing the border next week and that'll be just fine with me.


BURNETT: So what is happening on the Mexican border tonight?

Ed Lavandera investigates.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every day this week, buses have dropped off nearly a hundred Central American migrants on the doorstep of the Good Neighbor Settlement House Shelter in Brownsville, Texas. Most are requesting asylum. But legions of volunteers are scrambling to help mothers and fathers with their children.

[19:40:02] CHRISTINA PATINO HOULE, EQUAL VOICE NETWORK: What we see is our community is being instrumentalized as a tool in a larger political game that is completely antithetical to what the communities here want.

LAVANDERA: Good Neighbor settlement is one of several shelters helping migrants suddenly released by Customs and Border Protection. The agency says it can't handle the massive number of migrants crossing the border.

KEVIN MCALEENAN, COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Our immigration system is at the breaking point. That breaking point has arrived this week at our border.

LAVANDERA: CBP officials say Border Patrol agents are on pace for apprehensions and encounters with more than 100,000 migrants in March which would be the highest number of monthly illegal border crossings in a decade. The Department of Homeland Security today is warning the system is in free-fall and President Trump says the tens of thousands of migrants requesting asylum are carrying out a big fat con job and is now threatening to shut down the border to control illegal immigration.

TRUMP: And we are on track for a million illegal aliens trying to rush our borders. It is an invasion, you know that.

LAVANDERA: We met Vilma and her daughter at the shelter in Brownsville. They asked we not show their faces because they fear being returned to El Salvador. Vilma says she fled her home country with her daughter because they feared being killed. Gang members murdered her mother last year. Her daughter says three police officers unleashed a bruising attack on her in January, kicking and punching her for reasons that were never clear. That's when they decided to leave.

Advocates say this is not a con job but real people facing life and death consequences.

LAURA PENA, IMMIGRANT ADVOCATE: We are not ignorant here in the Rio Grande Valley. We know what's happening.

LAVANDERA: Immigrant rights advocates say the Trump administration is deliberately creating a sense of chaos with mass releases of migrants or housing migrants under a bridge in El Paso and giving families confusing paperwork.

(on camera): This is one of the migrants here who asked us not to identify her, but these are the forms that they're given once they're released from custody here. If you look closely here, this is supposed to be a notice to appear, giving them a date to appear in immigration court. But here, they're not getting the dates.

(voice-over): The Trump administration says there's no manufactured crisis on the southern border and that there is a real humanitarian and security crisis unfolding.


LAVANDERA: So Erin, critics say the Trump administration is trying to bolster the case for the national emergency to build more wall, but the president's threat to close down the border is really sending shock waves through this part of the world. You can see there the bridge in the distance that connects Brownsville to Matamoros, millions of people depends on bridges and ports of entry to get back and forth every day. They go to school, work, see family and friends.

Closing those ports of entry will have a devastating effect along the border region. Those ports of entry, those bridges, are a life line for these border communities -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Eddie, thank you very much.

I want to go to Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona. His district is along the southern border. He joins me from Tucson tonight.

So, look, the Customs of Border Protections said the system is at a breaking point. I don't know how much Eddie's piece you'll able to hear, but some of these numbers -- 100,000 migrants apprehended this month, the highest in a decade, 40,000 children in custody, 60 migrants going to the hospital every single day.

Do you believe there is a humanitarian crisis at the border?

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: I think there's a tragedy at the border. I believe that it is rapidly becoming a humanitarian crisis in the sense that this whole situation that we're seeing in the border, that we're seeing in the border area that I represent, is contrived. It's manufactured, to meet a political end. You know, the president -- President Trump declares the emergency, uses unilateral power to shift money to build the wall and now you have to justify it and the justifications are what's causing the tragedy and what's causing the crisis.

You know, of the 70,000 they talk about, they forget to mention they come to the ports of entry, to Customs and Border Patrol and turn themselves in seeking asylum, seeking refugee status. Those 40,000 children did not sneak across. They came and voluntarily want to be processed to prove they're credible fear.

This, you know, and now taking custom officers away from the ports of entry which is a security check point where 60,000 of apprehensions of drugs and individuals happens at that border, and removing them from there and the threat of closing the border and the economic life line to the region beyond anything else.

BURNETT: So let me ask about shutting the border. Because he's now threatening to do so as soon as next week as you heard him say, Congressman Grijalva.


BURNETT: So, when you look at the Wilson Center, they've done the math, right? They're just looking at the border, hundreds of millions of dollars a day in trade would be lost, if you just look at the annual numbers.

[19:45:05] The president, though, is trying to spin this as a good thing. Here he is today.


TRUMP: With the deficit like we have with Mexico and had for many years, closing the border would be a profit-making operation.


BURNETT: Do you agree with that, profit making?

GRIJALVA: Well, for those -- no. For those states along the border and for the rest of the nation, this is about jobs. This is about one of our biggest trading partners. This is about visitation, retail sales, et cetera.

It is an economic life line and to the region, both sides of the border. And to the threat of closure to the border is going to -- whatever crisis they have been manufacturing is indeed going to become a major tragedy, both economic and in terms of humanity. I think this threat is not -- you know, the problem with his threats they're not always idle.


GRIJALVA: He could follow through on it and the consequences would be horrible.

BURNETT: Speaking of threats that I hope are idle, I want to ask about one related to Puerto Rico which is something I know very important to you.


BURNETT: Your committee is holding hearings on Puerto Rico and the aftermath of hurricane Maria. The governor, though, Ricardo Rossello spoke to our Jim Acosta yesterday, and responded to President Trump saying, look, Puerto Rico is not spending money wisely. Here's what the governor said.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Does it feel that way sometimes, that you're dealing with a bully?

RICARDO ROSSELLO, GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO: If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth. It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.


BURNETT: Do you support that way of speaking?

GRIJALVA: I -- no. The threat of violence is not the way to conduct a discussion.

But, you know, given that and with that caveat, you know, the governor is correct. This has been a pattern here, a pattern of disdain, disrespect, lack of equity of treating the American citizens in Puerto Rico after the devastation of Maria, after the fiscal collapse, treating them in harsh manners, not wanting to give food stamps, wanting to cut the amount of support and recovery money that has already been approved by Congress.

So my point is this: this is a pattern that this president has. Whether it is the border, and he talks about invasion or whether it's Puerto Rico. There seems to be a tilt that he wants to make people in this -- of color in this country his fodder in this coming election.

I think it's sad. I think it devalues our -- all of us. And, you know, Puerto Rico needs help and we're going to have hearings on that. But the issue with the president's taunt and threat is totally disrespectful and discriminatory to be honest with you.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Grijalva. Good to speak to you tonight.

GRIJALVA: Good to speak to you.

BURNETT: And next, President Trump's pick for the Federal Reserve facing questions about unpaid taxes and his past political views. So what's his defense?

And Jeanne Moos on Donald Trump's love for the third person.


TRUMP: Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Trump. Donald. Donald Trump.



[19:51:18] BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump's pick for a spot on the Federal Reserve on defense. Steve Moore, former senior economic advisor to the Trump campaign, former CNN contributor -- you saw him here a lot -- fighting back against criticism over his political positions and lack of experience, and about $75,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties to the IRS.

Cristina Alesci is OUTFRONT.


DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": Steve, I'm talking, still talking. Still talking, Steve. I'm talking here.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stephen Moore, conservative analyst and frequent Trump defender.

STEPHEN MOORE, FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD SEAT NOMINEE: I'm not so sure we could have a presidential candidate that would deliver these kinds of results. ALESCI: Whose praise of President Trump may have earned him a seat on

the prestigious panel that helps decide monetary policy for the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve Board.

TRUMP: I will be nominating Steve Moore to the Fed.

ALESCI: There are two vacancies on the board. Candidates are typically former finance executives and bank regulators. The board is supposed to operate above the political fray.

MOORE: Wait a minute --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And besides deflation -- no, I want -- I want viewers.

ALESCI: But Moore is better known as a political pundit than an economist.

MOORE: I'm not defending the president.

ALESCI: A former CNN contributor, he advised President Trump's 2016 campaign. But Moore insists that won't impact his ability to be an independent voice.

MOORE: I love what he's doing. I will be an independent voice. What I'm for -- I'll just tell you what I'm for. I'm for a strong economy, a strong dollar, stable prices and high wages.

ALESCI: When it comes to policy, both Moore and Trump appear to speak the same language.

TRUMP: Frankly, if we didn't have somebody that would raise interest rates and do quantitative tightening, we would have been at over 4 instead of 3.1.

MOORE: I think that the Fed is way too tight right now. I think they have depressed the market.

ALESCI: But it's more than just his political background and coziness with Trump that's raising concerns. Moore will have to answer questions about his taxes. A court filing shows he owes the IRS $75,000.

Moore told CNN the IRS owes him money. I'm eager to reach an agreement about the dispute and for them to move quickly on my case.

If the Senate confirms him, it's unclear whether Moore is even ready for the job. He said so himself.

MOORE: I'm kind of new to this game frankly. So I'm going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the Fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions.

ALESCI: Some economists question Moore's qualifications, while others support his nontraditional background. JIM BIANCO, PRESIDENT, BIANCO RESEARCH LLC: You don't need a PhD in

economics or have written an economics textbook in order to be qualified to make policy at the Federal Reserve. And I think Stephen Moore is a breath of fresh air in that respect.


ALESCI: So, Stephen Moore is defending himself against this criticism that he's overly political, saying that he's actually broken with the president on the deficit, on government spending and on steel tariffs. But in that same interview, he says that the president calls him every time he opposes him, every time Stephen Moore opposes the president on TV. It's that coziness that bothers the economists who believe the Fed should be entirely independent.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Cristina.

And next, Jeanne Moos takes on Trump's tendency to talk about Trump.


[19:58:04] BURNETT: Tonight Donald Trump on Donald Trump.


TRUMP: Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being.


BURENTT: And here's Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's first when it comes to the third person.

TRUMP: Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump.

MOOS: He's even done it in a tweet, perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign, which prompted author J.K. Rowling to poke the president. I wonder whether Trump talks to Trumpself in the third Trump person when Trump's alone.

TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump -- you wouldn't even be hearing about the word immigration if it wasn't for Donald Trump. Donald Trump was able to get them to give something, I don't know what the hell it was, but it doesn't matter.

MOOS: This is a man who tweeted congratulations, Donald, on his own "Apprentice" ratings. He said, thanks, Donald, when consumer confidence went up.

But Donald doesn't have a monopoly on thanking himself. Remember this guy?


MOOS: Thanking himself for lower gas prices. You know, there's actually a technical term for this.


MOOS: Psychologist Kevin Volkan has two theories for President Trump's use of a third person.

KEVIN VOLKAN, PSYCHOLOGIST: I think it's either he's branding himself, which he's very good at and I think he does that almost unconsciously. And I think also this could be indicative of narcissism where you're constantly referring to yourself.

TRUMP: No side tracks, Donald, nice and easy.

VOLKAN: You want the world to revolve around you.

MOOS: Psychologists say toddlers are illeists until they grab the concept of I and me like Elmo.

Tweeted one Trump critic, he gives third person talkers like Cookie Monster a bad name.

CHARACTER: Cookie monster alive.

MOOS: Forget cookies, the president likes his own name in his mouth.

TRUMP: Donald Trump, Donald Trump. Trump. Donald Trump.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: Stay on point, Donald, stay on point.

MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: All right. Have a great weekend.

Anderson starts now.