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Soon: House Judiciary To Vote On Subpoena For Mueller Report; GOP Grapples As Trump Flips On Healthcare; Wall Street Journal: Ethiopia 737 Max Pilots Initially Followed Boeing Procedure; House Judiciary Approves Subpoena For Full Mueller Report, Aired 10-10:30 ET

Aired April 3, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


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[10:00:41] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of a busy news hour. I'm Jim Sciutto reporting from Atlanta.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: I'm Poppy Harlow. We're glad you're with us.

Happening now in the House Judiciary Committee, the power of the democratic majority on full display. Any minute now, the panel will authorize subpoenas for the Mueller report in its entirety, and not just that, also the evidence underlying it, thereby, rejecting the Attorney General's plans to turn over an edited version in a week or two.

SCIUTTO: Panel's top republican calls subpoenas both reckless and irresponsible but the democratic Chairman calls the A.G., the Attorney General, a political appointee, who does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. I mean, it's going to be an issuing debate is it not, Manu, because it was an unanimous vote in Congress to make the Mueller report public, but now you have republicans here trying to put the brakes on that.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very partisan debate taking place in this committee all day, all morning long. Republicans are saying give the Attorney General some time to release the Mueller report. Let him do it consistent with the applicable laws and regulations, redact what's necessary to be redacted.

Democrats say full transparency is necessary. They are saying that precedent is on their side. When you look at what happened with the Starr investigation to Bill Clinton, the republican-led investigation to a Clinton email server in the House Justice Department provided evidence to Capitol Hill. They are saying that -- look at those past cases, this is why we need this information.

Now, what's happening right now is that republicans are trying to limit grand jury information, prevent the grand jury investigation from the Mueller investigation from going over to Capitol Hill. Democrats are about to reject that. And in moments they're going to authorize subpoenas for the Mueller report, for the underlying evidence and for five former White House officials and any records that they got from the White House in their preparations to testimony before the Special Counsel.

Now, Jerry Nadler, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the top republican on this committee went at it this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), N.Y.: I will give him time to change his mind. But if we cannot reach an accommodation, then we will have no choice but to issue subpoenas for these materials. And if the department still refuses, then it should be up to a judge, not the President and not his political appointee, to decide whether or not it is appropriate for the committee to review the complete record.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R), G.A.: This is reckless, it's irresponsible and it's disingenuous. It's also confusing since the Attorney General is doing exactly what he said he would be doing, making as much of the report public as possible under federal law and department on policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So one thing that Collins also said was that the people who are facing subpoenas, the five former White House officials, some of them, he said, are cooperating already with the House Judiciary Committee's investigation into obstruction of justice. That appears to be an apparent reference to the former White House officials Hope Hicks and Steve Bannon. He said, why serve them with a subpoena? But democrats are saying, are not actually serving them with a subpoena today. They want this authorized so that if they don't get cooperation, they plan to drop these in the laps of all these individuals.

And, as you heard Jerry Nadler there, he is willing to take this fight to court, and that could be ratcheted up, even before Barr decides to release the redacted version of the Mueller report. Guys?

HARLOW: Yes, he made that abundantly clear this morning in that opening statement. Manu, thanks for the reporting.

Let's get some insight from Jim Schultz, a former White House lawyer under President Trump, and Elizabeth Holtzman, former Democratic Congresswoman, who not only served on the Judiciary Committee during Watergate but also co-wrote the special prosecutor law that followed. Good morning to you, both.

Elizabeth, let me begin with you, because we just saw this argument between a ranking republican and Chairman Nadler about the independent counsel statute versus the Special Counsel, right? And Cohen says it's not apples to apples here.

When you look back at Watergate, when you look back at the ruling from Judge Sirica in 1974 to allow to agree to turn over to allow the turnover the grand jury report and evidence on Watergate, Bill Barr says it's exactly that that the law prevents him from turning over. Who is right and what should the committee do?

[10:04:52]

FMR. REP. ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN (D), N.Y.: Well, the fact of the matter is that this discussion is a kind of theoretical discussion, because Barr, if he really wanted the grand jury materials to be turned over to the Judiciary Committee, which would ultimately allow Congress to make a decision as to whether obstruction of justice has taken place, impeachable offenses have taken place, whether we need remedial legislation, then he would go to court himself, which is what happened during the Jaworski, during the Nixon impeachment. He would go to court. He might even go to court with Jerry Nadler with Mueller and say, judge, this material is important. During the Nixon impeachment proceedings, the grand jury developed a roadmap. The judge ordered that to be turned over to the Judiciary Committee. We would like the same thing to happen now.

Why isn't he doing that? That is the critical thing. And, to me, it shows a kind of -- talk about disingenuous, it shows he's really talking out of both sides of his mouth. One, oh, I can't turn over, but, oh, I'm not going to go and ask the judge to allow me to turn it over either. So that speaks volumes about the refusal of the Justice Department to have full disclosure here and the Attorney General, I'm sad to say, acted in a very political way when he said initially, he drew a conclusion as to whether a prosecutable case existed against Trump for obstruction. He had no business doing that.

SCIUTTO: Jim Schultz, Elizabeth Holtzman has a lot of experience with this. She makes an argument here. And I should note, the President said he has nothing to hide. Those republicans who are now arguing here so fervently, they voted unanimously with democrats to make the Mueller report public. Why the sudden hedging?

JIM SCHULTZ, FMR. TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: There's difference between politics and the law. Bill Barr is following the rule of law. He is reviewing the report and making judgments as to what --

SCIUTTO: Why doesn't he go to a judge like Congresswoman Holtzman said?

SCHULTZ: Well, he has every right as the Attorney General of the United States to review that material, to determine what is subject to 6(c), which is the grand jury secrecy section. And there's a reason why grand jury materials are secret. And remember, there are other investigations that were offshoots of this one in other districts in both Virginia and in the Southern District of New York. So that's a consideration that needs to be taken, that needs to be reviewed.

So I think the disingenuousness here is the investigation of the investigation on the part of Congress here. Mueller has completed his investigation. The democrats don't like the result. So now, they want to investigate the investigation by pulling in White House staff --

HARLOW: I seem to remember, Jim --

SCHULTZ: -- who were going to have --

HARLOW: Jim?

SCHULTZ: Let me finish. Who have executive privilege issues and served in the capacity on both, some of them served in the past to both the campaign and served as lawyers on the campaign, so there's attorney/client privilege issues there and these executive privilege issues as it relates to the work that they did in the White House, this is nothing but fear.

SCIUTTO: I don't remember the same calls in 1998 regarding the Starr report. But, anyway, my colleague has a point.

HARLOW: I'm old enough to remember republicans wanting to investigate the investigation, republicans like Lindsey Graham wanting to investigate the investigation. But I digress that would take us in a whole other route.

Congresswoman Holtzman, to you, there's another thing that the democrats in Congress could utilize, the House Intelligence Committee, for example, could utilize, and that is a little known and only once used ability, power to release publicly classified information is what happened with the Nunes memo. Adam Schiff just said this week, we're not going that far. We can't abuse that like he believes republicans did. Should they?

HOLTZMAN: Well, they certainly shouldn't abuse their power but there could something that is improperly classified. After all, I was in Congress and I served, and I had top security clearance afterwards. I mean, I know that there is a lot of stuff that's classified that shouldn't be.

But going back to the point that was just made that democrats want to investigate the investigation, that's not what's happening. Democrats want the American people to see what Mueller found. And right now, that's not being done. And the fact of the matter is that Barr could show that he cared about transparency if he went to the court, as Jaworski did, and said, judge, please release this to the House Judiciary Committee. He is doing nothing of the kind. So he is perpetrating, in my view, a cover-up.

Secondly, there is no executive privilege with regard to the commission of a crime. That was decided in U.S. versus Nixon, when Nixon wanted to keep the tapes hidden and the Supreme Court said, no, you've got to make them public. So that's really important.

SCHULTZ: Cover-up of what? Mueller made his findings of no collusion. Cover-up of what, Congresswoman? I don't understand what you're asking here.

HOLTZMAN: Okay. But he didn't -- Mueller didn't make a finding, but Mueller did not make --

SCHULTZ: So this is [INAUDIBLE] theater on the part of the democratic members of Congress. That's it. Bill Barr is reviewing this and says he will get back to everyone in mid-April when his review is done.

SCIUTTO: Just let the Congresswoman answer.

HOLTZMAN: Mueller made no finding on obstruction of justice. That's what Barr did. That was improper and totally political.

SCHULTZ: How -- Barr and Rosenstein, who -- let's not forget, democrats went to protect Rosenstein --

[10:10:04]

HOLTZMAN: Both of them had no business doing that.

SCIUTTO: Jim, please let her finish.

HOLTZMAN: They're not the special prosecutor.

SCHULTZ: He was going to keep the Mueller investigation together. Democrats wanted to save Rosenstein. Now all of a sudden he's wrong? Come on, Congresswoman.

SCIUTTO: Whose decision --

HOLTZMAN: You come on. The fact of the matter is, what do you have to hide? Let's make this public. That's the whole point. And the more obfuscate and the more words come out to try to cover up, it's what it is.

SCIUTTO: Please, Jim, let her finish. Let her finish. We'll give you a chance to respond. Jim, your response?

SCHULTZ: So following the law, following 6(c), get classified information, all of those things need to be taken in consideration, executive privilege as it relates to people that -- let's remember, the report hasn't been, none of it has been made public, and they're already talking about subpoenaing witnesses who have already talked to Mueller. So, now, all of sudden, they're not going to investigate the investigation and redoing the work?

SCIUTTO: We don't know what they said to Mueller. And as the Congresswoman notes, the Mueller explicitly said on obstruction of justice, he's not exonerating the President. Why don't Americans have the right to see what evidence he found?

SCHULTZ: Tens of millions of dollars on this investigation, it needed to be done, but now, Congress just wants to waste more money and the people are going to get frustrated with it. People in this country are going to get frustrated with it.

HOLTZMAN: What are they afraid of showing the American people? Why are they fighting so hard to keep this secret?

SCHULTZ: Nothing. Bill Barr, the Attorney General of the United States is following the rule of law.

HOLTZMAN: Well, you are? If you weren't worried, then make it public and Barr would go to court, but they're not doing it.

SCHULTZ: Democrats don't seem to care about that.

HOLTZMAN: They're not doing it. So action speaks louder than any words.

HARLOW: Jim and I are going to go home for today and you two could carry on.

SCHULTZ: We can do this all day.

HARLOW: Yes, look, I ingest [ph], but it's a really important debate. You're voices are so important on this and we'll have you both back. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And you know a thing or two about it. Thanks to both of you.

HOLTZMAN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Republicans this morning grappling with where the President stands on some very key issues, healthcare and the border to name two.

HARLOW: Kaitlan Collins, our colleague, is at the White House with more.

Such a reversal here, Kaitlan, on both under immense pressure from McConnell on down and republican leadership. They go to the President?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They did. There's been a steady stream coming from Capitol Hill to the White House from republican lawmakers over the last several days ever since the Trump administration threw its weight behind that lawsuit that would invalidate the Affordable Care Act.

But now, this morning, on Twitter, the President is insisting he did not change his mind about delaying that push to replace Obamacare until after the 2020 election at the urging of the Senate majority leader. He's saying he was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 election on the healthcare. He says that talented people are working on it right now and it's going to be on full display during the election. And he thinks it's going to be a great campaign issue. He says, quote, I never asked Mitch McConnell for a vote before the election as it has been incorrectly reported as usual in The New York Times, but only after the election, when we take back the house, et cetera. A lot going on there.

But, first, we should note that the President did actually catch republicans off guard when they threw their weight behind that lawsuit because republicans were not planning on coming up with a replacement for Obamacare. They were not planning on revisiting that after several failures. And the President did have to take the advice of several people, including the Senate majority leader who frankly said that the republicans did not want this fight and they were not going to make it a big issue in the Senate before the next presidential election.

Now, the President has been speaking about this at length ever since last week, saying that he believes republicans can take this issue back from democrats, including these remarks that he made last night at a dinner in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: If we stay away from that subject, we're going to lose. We're going to lose. We can't stay away. It's too important. It's too important because the democrats -- you know what, we have the border, we have -- if you look at it, we have the immigration, but we have a lot -- we have the crime [ph], we have the police, we have the military, we have so much. They have healthcare right now. We have to take that away from them.

We have to protect and cannot run away from, I think, all pre-existing conditions. We can't do it. You're going to get clobbered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: So, Jim and Poppy, the President is now saying that the first thing they vote on after the 2020 presidential election will be healthcare. Now, that's counting on republicans winning back the House, he says, and, of course, the President winning the White House again. But also, we should note that is something that the President said on the campaign trail last time would be first thing he voted on during this term of his presidency.

SCIUTTO: Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much. And the President will often things have been incorrectly reported, as he did here. This is an easy fact check. His Chief of Staff set a plan within the next couple of months this weekend. The Vice President's Chief of Staff says that they were going to introduce it to Congress this year. The Tweet is not true.

Joining us now is Molly Ball, National Political Correspondent for Time Magazine. Molly, it seems that the President here, in addition to changing his tune but also trying to change history a bit on his public statements on this has realized that this was -- that he got ahead of himself here, and this was not a good issue or good promise to make now in healthcare.

[10:15:04]

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: Sure. But I think the President's point on the politics of this, he's not a bad pundit in this case. Republicans are losing the issue of healthcare and it is a big vulnerability for the party, just as he said. I think the problem that they are going to have is, number one, a lack of credibility and, number two, lack of track record, as you pointed out or Kaitlan just pointed out.

There was a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare that republicans had been making for years and years. And the President in those same remarks last night saying he, himself, felt like he had been sold a bill of goods. I think a lot of voters might have felt the same way because it turned there wasn't a plan to do that once republicans gained control after the 2016 election. Fast forward to 2018, and that was absolutely the number one issue for many, many people, a huge factor in democrats taking the House.

And that was a time also when the President and many republican candidates said that they were going to protect pre-existing conditions. The problem is that voters simply did not believe them.

HARLOW: Molly, let me get you on the border here because the President just Tweeted about it again, saying, unless Congress closes loopholes, I'm going to do this. Chuck Grassley, a very powerful Republican Senator said, until he closes the border, meaning the President, I don't believe it. And the President seems to be backing away in the last 24 hours a little bit from it, despite this Tweet saying, okay, Mexico is doing a little bit more now. I'm interested in, you know, what he thinks is most important to his base, the economic toll that we know it would cost this country immediately if you close the border or the immigration security national border part of it? Because we heard him say, yes, it would cost the economy, but I care more about security. So, which is it?

BALL: Well, look, Trump's base is with him no matter what. It kind of doesn't matter what they think. He's not losing their votes. What matters is the people that he is going to need for reelection, and that's not his base. That's other Americans, that's people in the middle, that's soft republicans, that's independents. And all the evidence we have so far is that they are not with the President on the border issue, whether it's sold as a matter of security or as a matter of economics.

So, you know, the President has a credibility problem even with his own party as evidenced by that statement from Senator Grassley. We've heard the same thing from the Mexican government. They just aren't convinced that this isn't an empty threat until it happens. And then when and if it does happen, it's an open question whether it will, in fact, force Congress to act, because Congress doesn't necessarily take kindly to being shoved into a corner in that way on something that they don't want to do and that there's not a political consensus on.

HARLOW: I mean, if a more than 30-day government shutdown didn't push Congress to act on this, you know, why is this going to? I think you make a great point. Molly, thank you. Nice to have you.

BALL: Thanks.

HARLOW: Of course, we're staying on top of the all the breaking developments as House Democrats are pushing forward in this hearing to send multiple subpoenas to get the full Mueller report and underlying evidence.

SCIUTTO: And a new report that the pilots of that Boeing 737 Max jet flown by Ethiopian airlines did follow emergency procedures as recommended by Boeing before that plane crashed, the stunning new details.

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[10:22:41] SCIUTTO: There is new information this morning about how pilots operating a Boeing 737 Max jet responded in moments before the plane crashed in Ethiopian Airlines plane, they were flying and crashed. According to the Wall Street Journal, the pilots initially followed Boeing's emergency procedures, the ones they recommended after a first deadly crash, but they still failed to regain control. 157 people on board, all of them on board, were killed.

HARLOW: This appears to contradict Boeing and FAA assertions that following a checklist of emergency procedures would have solved the issue and saved all those people.

Our correspondent, Robin Kriel joins us live from Ethiopia this morning. You're on the ground in Addis Ababa. What are you hearing?

ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing yet from Ethiopian authorities, Poppy and Jim, on when that preliminary report is going to be released. There have been a number of false starts, I guess, in terms of when this report was going to come out. But what I can tell you is that that shock throughout the aviation community here in Addis Ababa, Ethipia on the news that the pilots, in all likelihood, according to this Wall Street Journal article did try to follow emergency procedures provided by Boeing after that first Lion Air crash and that somehow that did not work. And we're not sure of exactly how that would have unfolded. That all should be detailed in the report due at least by the 9th of April. That's the deadline.

But it would have told the same picture, the very similar picture of the Lion Air crash where there would have been this six-minute desperate tug of war between pilot and plane, six minutes after the plane took off from Bole International Airport behind me and crashing in a field south of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.

And since then, devastated families we've been speaking to, people trying to get any form of DNA, trying to get something that belonged to their families from this wreckage. We can tell you that there are 35 different nations of nationalities of the people on board, including several children.

And it has been a very tough -- really a tough period for Ethiopian Airlines, Africa's real jewel airline, the new spirit of Africa, they call themselves, having been asked a lot of tough questions about pilot training, about the safety history of their airline and the safety records of their aircraft.

[10:25:00]

If this turns out to be true and the pilots did everything in their power to keep that plane from nose diving despite being pushed down by this automatic system, that failed even when they tried to disengage it, then it will at least be a vindication for them and the pilots on board that aircraft. Of course, not hugely helpful to the families who are in, obviously, deep, deep pain right now.

SCIUTTO: Robyn Kriel, thanks very much. SCIUTTO: We have breaking news on the Hill. The vote under way now on subpoenas for the Mueller report. Let's listen in.

NADLER: Does any other member wish to vote who hasn't voted? The clerk will report.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman, the vote is 24 ayes, 17 nos.

NADLER: The ayes have it. The resolution is amended as agreed to. This concludes our business for today. Thanks to all of our members who are attending. The mark-up is adjourned.

SCIUTTO: You heard it there. They voted in favor, apparently along party lines to at least give themselves the power, as we understand it, to issue subpoenas for the report if not satisfied.

HARLOW: That's exactly what this would do. This vote will allow them, which Nadler, I think, interestingly said in the opening statement, he's going to give Barr a little bit more time to change his mind, which it doesn't seem like Barr is going to do to hand over a fully un-redacted report to Congress.

If that doesn't happen, he made it very clear, as I bring in Manu Raju, our colleague. Manu, Nadler made it very clear that if Barr doesn't change his mind and turn it all over to Congress, he'll take this all the way to the courts. Right, Manu? Manu Raju?

RAJU: Yes, I didn't catch the top of your question. That's right.

HARLOW: Just walk us --

RAJU: We're actually right outside the House Judiciary Committee room.

SCIUTTO: The vote along party lines?

RAJU: Yes. The vote was along -- it seemed to be along party lines. It didn't sound like there were any republican defections. The debate only was along party lines. Republicans saying that the democrats were going far, way too far in their demands for all this information. You heard right before this 24-17 vote along party lines to obtain the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence, along with those records from the five former White House officials.

The republicans tried to limit the amount of information that would come to Capitol Hill. They wanted to prevent grand jury information, in particular, from coming to Congress that democrats rejected along party lines, this debate playing along this way as well.

Jerry Nadler made very clear that he was going to serve these subpoenas when he feels necessary, even though authorized today, he would do it when he found it to be the right time and he was prepared to go to court, if necessary. That was the message that he sent to the Justice Department today. Give them some time to decide give them the full Mueller report. If he does not feel they're get cooperation, that's when they're going to ratchet up this fight. But a very significant move just now in this contentious hearing to try to move forward and demand, get all this information about what happened in this two-year investigation into Russian interference, potential obstruction of justice. And now, we have to wait what the next steps are, what the Justice Department decides to do and what Jerry Nadler decides to do about whether to actually serve these subpoenas and see if they can get these records, guys.

HARLOW: Yes. So in terms of the comparisons that are made here, you know, you heard Jerry Nadler saying, the law is on our side because of the precedent set during Watergate. And you had the ranking republican, Doug Collins, saying that's just not the case. It's not apples to apples at all because it was an independent counsel versus a Special Counsel here. I suppose, you know, that is the key argument that's going to continue between them.

RAJU: Yes, that is. And one of the other areas that democrats are pointing to for precedence, what happened in the last Congress, in the last Congress, republicans were investigating the Clinton email investigation, the start of the Russia probe, and they got 8,080 pages of emails and other documents, underlying evidence of that investigation.

Republicans, you point to that, and they'll say, well, a lot of that was heavily redacted. They fought to un-redact a number of those documents. They say the number is irrelevant. But that's the point that each side is making going forward. Democrats saying they wanted essentially a road map to understand exactly what happened here to inform their investigations. And as you heard from republicans in there just now, they say, this is all an effort as an assault on this president.

But one thing is very clear, no one has seen what the actual Mueller report has said. You heard a number of republicans in particular tried to characterize what the Mueller report said in there -- has said. But they've even acknowledged, no one has any idea what it says. The question is how much of the redactions will ultimately come out.

[10:30:01]

We'll see Jerry Nadler comes out too because we're waiting for him. We'll see if he has any statements to say about what just happened.