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AT THIS HOUR

Tempers Flare over House Subpoena Fight on Security Clearances; Ocasio-Cortez Speaks on Security Clearances; Sarah Sanders Spoke to Reporters on Mueller Report, Health Care; New Fundraising Numbers for Democrat 2020 Candidates; Delay in Software Fix for Boeing 737 MAX Planes; Family of Fifth Grader Who Died after Classroom Fight Demands Answers. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired April 2, 2019 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:21] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Certainly not a dull moment or dull morning on Capitol Hill.

CNN's Manu Raju is there where the fireworks continue to fly at this House Oversight Committee meeting dealing with security clearances.

Manu, what more are we hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very intense back and forth between Democrats and Republicans about the security clearance issue. Democrats pointing to the information that they got from this White House official, Tricia Newbold, who is raising significant concerns about the White House's security clearance processing, the lax security. And Democratic Chairman Elijah Cummings said she came forward at great personal risk. She was worried about retaliation, worried about, frankly, what Republicans may do learning about her coming forward. Republicans pushing back saying there's absolutely nothing wrong with what they're hearing. Nothing like what happened with the Hillary Clinton e-mail situation. And they're saying that the way that Elijah Cummings handled this was completely reckless.

We have back and forth from the hearing just moments ago where fireworks erupted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D), NEW YORK: I mean, every day that we go on without getting to the bottom of this matter is a day that we're putting hundreds if not potentially thousands of Americans at risk. I mean, really. What is next? Putting nuclear codes in Instagram D.M.s? This is ridiculous. We need to get to the bottom of this. And in order to do that, we have to issue subpoenas because people in this administration are not Cooperating. And every day that there's an insecure line of communication that could be leaked, that could be hacked, that could be screenshotted without proper channels is a day that we are putting our national security at risk. So the reason why we have to conduct and have these accommodations is

because we are a committee that is committed to protecting whistleblowers. I do have to commend the ranking member and to see the coordination between the ranking member and the chair in a commitment to whistleblowers not just in respecting them but in protecting them is really admirable and important. I wanted to note that because this is -- this is what protecting whistleblowers looks like. When they need a certain accommodation because they fear retaliation, we have to make accommodations. This committee, in particular, as the Oversight Committee in the House of Representatives, we have a unique responsibility to protect those that have the courage to come out and say when something is wrong, regardless of the administration.

Even in prior administrations, you know, it doesn't matter the party, when something is going wrong in government, when there's overreach, when there's an abuse or a misconduct of process, we have an obligation to see and investigate it out. So it is so serious. Especially as a New Yorker, especially as anyone who cares about the security of what happens on American soil, every day that we have an insecure line of communication, we have a responsibility to investigate and make sure that is -- that we get to the bottom of it. I just needed to put that note in.

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So one of the big questions this committee is investigating is Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and whether or not they were given security clearances properly in light of reports that the president overrode concerns about internally about whether they should have actually gotten these clearances.

Now, I had a chance to act Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez moments ago about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and whether she believes they should have the clearances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Did that process get overridden through the proper channels? I think the answer to that will determine whether they should have a security clearance or not.

RAJU: Republicans are saying this is not even anywhere near as bad as the Hillary Clinton e-mail situation. What's your response?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, it's like I said in committee, we're getting reports that there's communication happening with Saudi officials via WhatsApp. I mean, like I said in that, what's next, Instagram D.M.s? This is completely insecure. An issue with that as we saw in the lead-up, you know, to so many attacks and so many issues is that when we have insecure channels of communication, anything can get hacked. And if we don't know what hostile forces know about us, we are putting thousands of lives at risk.

[11:35:17] RAJU: Do you think Jared Kushner should come before --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So what's going to happen just moments from now, the House Oversight Committee will authorize subpoenas for the former director of personal security at the White House, Carl Klein, demand an interview from him about apparently what this woman, Trisha Newbold, alleges, that he overrode her concerns and issued roughly 25 or so security clearances for individuals she said should not have happened. Klein's attorney said he is willing to come voluntarily, but Democrats say that's not enough because he's not agreed to answer their questions. So that's going to all come to a head later this afternoon -- Erica?

HILL: Manu Raju with the latest for us. Manu, thank you.

Just ahead, Senator Bernie Sanders revealing what he now has in his 2020 war chest. He's got money. A lot of it. We'll break down those numbers, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:46] HILL: Sarah Sanders just speaking with reporters, a gaggle. And let's bring you more of what she had to say, addressing questions on the Mueller report and also health care. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don't. We know that it's a failure. We know it's a disaster. We know it doesn't work and Americans don't want it. We also know Democrats are unwilling to work with this president to fix the broken system we have, whether it's on health care, whether it's on immigration. If they want to get serious about sitting down and solving problems over the next two years, we would be more than happy to do that. So far, all we have seen from them is they want to play political games and not actually do their jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: Joe?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On the Mueller report, the president previously said he has no problem with it being released. He wanted all of it released. Now, he's saying that releasing it would not satisfy Congressman Nadler and Congressman Schiff. Did he receive any information on the contents of the report that would make him decide that maybe he doesn't want that information released?

SANDERS: No, the president hasn't been briefed on the report. The president is still allowing the attorney general to make that decision. But we know by the actions that we have seen from Nadler and other Democrats in Congress is that the president's right. They will never be satisfied. They're sore losers. They lost in 2016. They lost because they tried to convince all of America of something that we all knew was untrue, that the president had colluded with Russia. It was a total lie then. It's a total lie now. And they continue to lose on this issue. At some point, they have to decide they're ready to move on like the rest of the country.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The president considers any carve-outs or exceptions --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Sarah Sanders talking there about the Mueller report. Also answering a brief question on health care.

CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza, joining me now.

Hearing a little bit, not necessarily perhaps new but certainly continuing to tout a familiar line, Chris.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Yes, that's right. This is not new, Erica, but it is both the line from Sarah Sanders, the White House, and Donald Trump, in particular, and we'll hear it from now until election day, which is something that is frankly not true. What is true is that the Mueller report as summarized by Attorney General William Barr said that Bob Mueller did not establish collusion, and essentially offered no opinion on whether Donald Trump had obstructed the investigation. The idea that this was a witch hunt, a hoax organized by Democrats and the media, I would point people to the 199 criminal charges that Robert Mueller filed as part of his special counsel investigation. The 37 people and entities charged, the 7 people who pled guilty, all of whom have ties, some closer than others, but ties to Donald Trump. The five people sentenced to prison and the one person, Paul Manafort, convicted by a jury of his peers of wrong doing. Yes, collusion was not established. No, that is not a broad-brush way to say that the investigation was politically motivated and pointless.

HILL: Oh, Chris Cillizza, you and your ever-important facts.

CILLIZZA: I mean --

HILL: You know, I'm with you. I like to side with the facts.

Here's the other thing. I do want to also get your take on this. We're getting new fundraising numbers when it comes to 2020 for Democrats. Why is the money important? Obviously, it allows for the campaign to move forward and get bigger. Bernie Sanders bringing in quite a big haul. What is not only the overall number tell us but also the other numbers associated with the number of donors?

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: One other point about why fundraising is important. You're right, Eric, it lets the campaign grow and continue. It also speaks to real investment in a candidate. But writing a check, pushing a button, donating money means that you have real stake in a candidate. It's a hard decision to make. Parting people with their money. So it matters. I would say mostly we should not be surprised by what the three people were showing on the screen have raised with Pete Buttigieg being a little exception. We expected Bernie Sanders to be at the front of the pack here. He is, $18 million, with that number of donors in 41 states. It's hugely impressive. Again, it's not surprising, but it's impressive. Kamala Harris, first-time presidential candidate, doesn't have the list that Bernie Sanders has, but is from California and was regarded as -- is regarded as a top- tier candidate, easier to raise money. Still $12 million is $12 million more than I ever raised.

[11:45:08] HILL: You and me both.

CILLIZZA: Buttigieg, on the left, on the last one, $7 million. Clearly, he's not in the same category as those other two or Beto O'Rourke, but he's the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Until three weeks ago, no one had ever heard of him, so he's raised a lot of that money in the last couple weeks, and he's clearly a momentum candidate, worth keeping an eye on.

HILL: Chris Cillizza, always good to talk to you. Thank you.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Coming up, a major delay for Boeing. A software fix for the 737 MAX that was supposed to take days we're learning will now take weeks. So then what happens at this point? And what is the FAA saying about all of this? We have more on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:16] HILL: Boeing's worldwide fleet of 737 MAX jets is facing several more weeks of mandatory grounding. The plane-maker continues to work on a software fix after similar crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed nearly 350 people.

CNN's Tom Foreman is in Washington.

Tom, what more are you hearing this morning?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was something that we thought might be taking days before these updates were in place, and the planes presumably are approved by the FAA and back up in the air. Then at the 11th hour, Boeing apparently discovered something in their internal procedures that said we need to fix something more. And the FAA issued a statement that says, "Time is needed for additional work by Boeing as a result of an ongoing review of the 737 MAX flight control system to ensure that Boeing has identified and appropriately addressed all pertinent issues. Upon receipt, the FAA will subject Boeing's completed submission to a rigorous safety review."

You can read this in a lot of different ways, if you wanted to, Erica, but simply what it comes down to is this. With the problems, the Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Air crash and the possibility that the MCAS system, the stabilizing system, the software, was involved in both systems neither the FAA nor Boeing wants to make another mistake. So it looks like they are simply saying, look, if we found anything at all, push it back a week, two weeks, three weeks, whatever it takes, and get it right. Because if they did not get it right at this point, especially since they are under investigation by the Justice Department and others over the approval process, if they didn't get it right at this point, it could essentially destroy the future of this airplane, which is largely the future of their company -- Erica?

HILL: We're also waiting for more information for a preliminary report about the crash of that Ethiopian Airplane. When is that expected?

FOREMAN: Well, that also is delayed. We thought we might get it on Monday. Now it's not quite clear when it will come out. Maybe later on this week. And remember, these are preliminary results. These things typically take months, sometimes even years to get to the bottom line. And, again, I wonder if the driving force here isn't a sense that the Ethiopian authorities are saying we also don't want to jump out and say anything that we can't support moving forward. Because, truthfully, Erica, worldwide air travel hats been affected because of this. Worldwide concerns have been raised. And nobody wants to precipitously say something now that makes it worse and then takes the blame for that, especially, never forget, hundreds of lives were lost for some reason out there, and we need to make sure what that reason was before these planes take off again.

HILL: Travelers want answers. But most important, the families of those hundreds of people deserve those answers.

FOREMAN: Absolutely.

HILL: Tom Foreman, thank you.

Just ahead, the family of a fifth grader is demanding answers after the 10-year-old died following a classroom fight. More on that story, next.

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[11:58:04] HILL: The family of a fifth grader who died after a classroom fight is demanding answers. And 10-year-old RaNiya Wright died last week. She died two days after that fight at her school in South Carolina. Autopsy results could still be weeks away. And RaNiya's parents say authorities at this point aren't giving them any information about what happened.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in South Carolina.

So parents are not getting any information. What are officials saying, Dianne?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Not much, Erica. In fact, we know about as much as her parents do, which really is the problem. In a situation that is multi-layered, on top of the fact that have you a 10-year-old girl that these parents are preparing to bury tomorrow, they say that they have received little to no information about what led up to her death.

It might be easier to list what we do know. Authorities say that there was some form of altercation inside her fifth-grade classroom last month, so eight days ago at this point. She died from her injuries two days later. But her parents say that they have received no information on what led up to that altercation, exactly what may have happened during it, and -- and they have been trying to get information.

Now, we've just spoken with the attorney for her father, and the attorney tells us, Erica, that there's no video from inside the classroom, but he says there's video from inside the hallway. And the parents actually went down to try to view that video just recently, and they didn't end up getting to see it.

They say, more than anything, on top of the pain of losing a 10-year- old in a fight in a school, they want to know what happened and what led up to this.

HILL: It's amazing that we don't know. And you would think that the community, too, would also be demanding answers as they are sending their children to school.

GALLAGHER: Yes, and they are. I'll tell you, Erica, that the parents of other students who were in the classroom, the teachers, they -- they are going to meet with these parents in what they are calling their own separate investigation to try and figure out what happened.

HILL: It's a disturbing story to say the least.

Dianne, we know you'll stay on top of it for us. Thank you.

GALLAGHER: Thanks.

HILL: Thanks to all of you for joining us here on AT THIS HOUR.

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