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House Judiciary Committee to Issue Subpoena for Unredacted Mueller Report Access; Concern Over Economic Impact if Trump Closes Border with Mexico; Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin to Appear in Court Today in College Admissions Scandal. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 3, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We'll see if 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. But he has made pretty clear that any subpoenas will come -- could come before Bill Barr actually releases this report in mid-April. He said he may not wait for that point, guys.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Manu, stay with us because I know you're great at tackling these folks when they come out of these hearings. We'll come right back to you if you're able to. We also have Chris Cillizza here.

And, Chris, I think one headline from this vote, is it not, is that the battle over the Mueller report ain't over.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes.

CILLIZZA: If you watched -- if you watched that Judiciary Committee hearing, you saw just in from Nadler and Collins, the chairman and the ranking member, significant animosity, distrust. And that's not getting into all the members of the committee, where you have that as well.

So, no. The fight isn't over yet. And honestly, this is, as Manu just outlined, Jim and Poppy, this is sort of a process step. It's a warning shot. It's Nadler saying, "Look, we're doing this. So I would hope you, Bill Barr, will change your mind as it comes to releasing the full report."

Now, my guess is we're going to see this proceed. You will see a subpoena issued. The Justice Department, I would assume, is going to fight that subpoena on the grounds you heard, Republicans making the case today. "This is grand jury testimony. You're not allowed by law to release it."

So then we'll have that fight, and we'll see where it goes in the legal system. So this is a political part of this process. It's happening in Congress. That will then lead, I believe, to a legal part of the process that's much more up in the air. This step, we expected. This vote, given Democrats' majority in the

House, we knew that Democrats would approve this measure. Now the question is, do they go down the line with the subpoena? And then how does the Justice Department respond?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CILLIZZA: Those two things, much more up in the air.

HARLOW: Hey, Cillizza, obviously on the political side of it, you know, just a few weeks ago -- March 20th, to be exact -- the president wasn't really helping the Republicans' case here, when he said things like, "Let them see it." Or --

CILLIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: -- "You know who's going to want to see it? Tens of millions of Americans." Complete reversal just yesterday, saying, "I think it's a disgrace. Shouldn't be allowed. Anything we give them" -- meaning the Democrats -- "will never be enough." What -- do you have any reporting on what prompted the reversal from the president on the public's right --

SCIUTTO: Good question.

HARLOW: -- and, you know --

CILLIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: -- just being able to see it?

CILLIZZA: No. I mean, I think, first of all, Poppy, generally speaking, trying to suss out what causes him to change his mind on things is very difficult. Because I just think he starts every day as sort of a tabula rasa. It's a blank slate. He kind of fills it. What he said yesterday doesn't inform what he says today, and doesn't inform what he says tomorrow.

I think what it is though, if you're looking to try to isolate it, it's probably seeing Democrats come out in the wake of the Bill Barr summary of the Mueller report, and saying, "This isn't enough." Like --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CILLIZZA: -- "We need more." And him saying, "Well, they'll never have enough. It'll never be enough." I think there's a part of Donald Trump that thought maybe Democrats would say, "OK, well, the Barr summary makes clear there was no collusion and no proof of obstruction, so let's move on to other things."

Clearly, that was not going to be the case because, again, we're talking about a four-page summary of a 300-plus-page document, the --

SCIUTTO: Yes. CILLIZZA: -- result of a 22-month investigation. So I think it's

just him sort of going back into his natural state, which is "Whatever Democrats say they want, I don't want to give them." Just on -- on the merits of it.

SCIUTTO: Chris Cillizza, you're no blank slate.

CILLIZZA: No.

HARLOW: Never.

SCIUTTO: You're full of wisdom. You're full of wisdom.

CILLIZZA: Full chalkboard, Jim.

HARLOW: Thank you.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, all.

SCIUTTO: We're going to be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:36:12] HARLOW: Let's listen in to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, addressing reporters after this hearing and vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Innumerable subpoenas were issued by the Republicans without bothering to have any kind of vote or meeting of the committee. We are giving the Republicans the opportunity to debate and to vote on subpoenas, which is different from -- they didn't give us.

Second, I am gratified to hear from at least some of the Republicans, that they will join in a -- as plaintiffs, in a lawsuit to force revelation to the committee of grand jury material if necessary. Of course, we hope the attorney general will do that first. But it was gratifying to hear that Mr. Sensenbrenner and some others, that they agreed and that they would participate.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman --

RAJU: You said -- you said in there, you said --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- this was an authorization of subpoenas. And the idea that you're not going to send them yet, you still want to talk with the attorney general. What happens between now, between the authorizing vote today and what happens next?

NADLER: Well, we're going to work with the attorney general and for a short period of time, in the hope that he will -- that he will reveal to us the entire Mueller report, and all the underlying materials. And we'll go to court to get permission to have the 6(c) material. But if that doesn't work out in a very short order, we will issue the

subpoenas.

RAJU: What does that mean, in a very short order? I mean, are (ph) you willing to do that as soon as this week, to serve the Justice Department with subpoenas?

NADLER: I'm (ph) just (ph) going (ph) to (ph) say a very short order. Beyond (ph) -- I can't say how many days.

RAJU: Are you willing to negotiate any middle ground in terms of redactions --

NADLER: No.

RAJU: -- of the Mueller -- you're not?

NADLER: No. The committee must see everything, as was done in every prior instance. Obviously, some material will have to be redacted before it's released to the public, to protect privacy, to protect their various rights. But the committee is entitled and must see all the material and make judgments as to what can be redacted for the public release by ourselves.

We handle confidential material all the time. We have facilities to do that. We make those judgments. And we're not willing to let the attorney general, who, after all, is a political appointee of the president, make that -- substitute his judgment for ours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- plans to speak to the attorney general, to figure out whether or not he will join you in going to court or --

NADLER: I think I said, we are going to negotiate with him. Yes. You do speak to someone you're negotiating with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- feel strange, all these years later, to be holding up Ken Starr, sort of a model of transparency?

NADLER: No. We're not holding up Ken Starr as a model of transparency. We're holding up the fact that his entire work product was given to the Judiciary Committee and to the Congress, as was the case with Leon Jaworski, as was the case in various other situations, period. The quality of the work, et cetera, et cetera is a different question altogether.

And, again, the Republicans kept making the same fundamental -- repeating the same fundamental mistruth, time after time. When we were opposing release of some of that material 20 years ago, it was release to the public we were opposing. Because that material, some of it was very salacious, it was very private, it involved private individuals and should not have been released to the public.

It had already been released to the committee, which was proper. What we're asking for now, is the release to the committee. And that's not what was at issue 20 years ago.

(CROSSTALK)

RAJU: You planned to go -- you planned to go to court -- you planned to go to court without the Justice Department, to get the grand jury information?

NADLER: Oh, absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks.

NADLER: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[10:40:05] HARLOW: All right. A lot of news, just made there by Chairman Nadler and the Judiciary Committee, as we bring in Joe Lockhart, former press secretary for the Clinton White House.

Look, just to tick through some of these big headlines here. Very short order means he's just giving a little bit of time to Barr to change his mind here and release the full report. And asked by our Manu Raju, Joe, if he will compromise at all on not getting the full report, maybe (ph) with a few redactions, he said "Absolutely not. We handle classified material all the time. We must see the entire thing."

So, sir, any world in which Barr agrees?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so. I think this goes to court unless somehow members like Congressman Sensenbrenner and Republicans on the Hill really want to take this case up. I doubt they will. They've never really shown any interest in taking on the president. So my guess is they'll stay relatively silent and let a judge decide this.

SCIUTTO: So there's precedent here, of course. And I don't want to make -- it's not an exact equivalent because President Nixon, there were -- there was clear evidence of crimes there. But with the tapes, right?

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: It went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided, "Yes, the tapes should be released." Is there a similar argument in your view? You saw Democrats on the committee make that argument, that the evidence that Mueller pulled up here, including evidence that Mueller cited of obstruction of justice -- though he did not make a judgment on it, Barr made that judgment.

That's the -- that material would be ruled by a court which, we should note, has a 5-4 conservative majority. Would they be likely to do the same thing and say, "Yes, it's got to be out there."

LOCKHART: Well, I think if they follow precedent, they will. I mean, again, I think Chairman Nadler made an important point there. He's not talking yet about releasing this to the public. He's talking about whether --

HARLOW: Yes, that's (ph) true (ph).

SCIUTTO: That's true.

LOCKHART: -- Congress has a right to see this. And there really is no precedent that I know of, as -- particularly since, you know, we haven't heard an exertion of executive privilege from the administration.

What we're really fighting about right now was whether this grand jury testimony, which is supposed to be secret but has been released in other cases, whether that's going to be released.

So I think on the more narrow issue of whether the House Judiciary Committee is a separate but equal branch of our government, has the right to see this whole report, the Democrats have a very strong case.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

LOCKHART: Go ahead.

HARLOW: Joe, I just want to ask you politically -- because you are a political strategist as well -- on how far you think the Democrats should play their hand here? Meaning what will it mean for them in 2020.

Obviously this is going to be a question posed to all of the 2020 contenders. We've seen the polling that shows that Americans aren't exactly enthused in terms of this being the number one priority for Democrats. They want things like health care, et cetera to be addressed.

SCIUTTO: Sure.

HARLOW: So, you know, do you think the Democrats, as this fight likely goes to the courts, need to be a little bit aware of that now?

LOCKHART: Yes. I do think they need to be aware. And it is a balance. I think right now, the Democrats are in a very strong position because they're making a very simple argument. it's not a legal argument, it's not complicated, it's not health care and all its complications.

It's, "There's a report and the public wants to see it." Eighty percent, 75, 85 percent depending on the poll want to see what's in the --

HARLOW: By the way, 80 percent of Republicans want it released.

LOCKHART: Yes. Want to see this report. So I think politically, they're in a good place now.

HARLOW: OK.

LOCKHART: They do -- they do have to be careful, both not to crowd out other issues and not to take it too far. I think what gives them a lot of latitude right now is, even after 10 days of the president and every Republicans you can find, screaming from the mountaintops, "This is total exoneration," still less than 30 percent of the country believe that.

So Democrats are not -- the public does not view this as settled. If they did, then there'd be the threat of backlash. But because they don't view this as settled and they want to know more, I -- you know.

It's -- the interesting parallel back to President Clinton, there was huge interest in what had happened. When the Starr report came out and everybody knew --

SCIUTTO: Right.

LOCKHART: -- what had happened, you know, a lot of the interest faded away. If you look at the cable TV ratings, they were down around the time of, like, the Senate trial and House impeachment. The biggest interest coming from the public was, "What happened?"

SCIUTTO: Yes.

LOCKHART: "We want to know what happened. We want to be able to make our own judgment about what happened here and whether" -- you know, what should happen.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I remember when it was released and, you know, leafing through those pages on Capitol Hill for the details.

Manu, back on the Hill. You just were able to speak to the House Judiciary chairman there. What happens next?

RAJU: Yes. The next question is when these subpoenas will be served. I tried to ask that exact question of Jerry Nadler just moments ago, saying, "Will they come this week?" He said he did not want to say that. He did not want to put a time frame on, but he said they would come in, quote, "short order." So it's unclear exactly what that means.

[10:45:04] But he indicated that this was something that he was not going to give the attorney general a lot of time to respond. He said he'll give him some time to respond.

Now -- and a big question, also, has been, "How much is Jerry Nadler willing to negotiate, if at all, over the number of redactions in the Mueller report?" I said, "Will you negotiate? Are there -- just possibility you could be open to any middle ground on redactions?"

And he said flatly, "No." He said that "We must see the full Mueller report. We're not going to let a political appointee make the decisions for us on what we want to see, so we need to see the full thing." That's what Jerry Nadler just said --

HARLOW: Yes.

RAJU: -- so they're not going to accept any middle ground. And he also -- I also asked him, "Are you going to go to court without the Justice Department to try to get that grand jury information that they're asking for -- the Democrats are asking for?" He said, "Absolutely."

SCIUTTO: Yes.

RAJU: So they are gearing up for what could be a protracted legal fight with the Justice Department. So we'll see how the Justice Department ultimately responds.

HARLOW: Yes. And as our guest noted in the last hour, Manu, Barr could go to the courts with him. With Nadler, right? And say, "We think there's public interest. Let us release this grand jury information." Manu, great reporting. Of course you got Nadler to talk. Thank you so much.

The president is now agreeing with experts that closing the border would hurt the U.S. economy. That's a big admission and a big deal. What does it tell us he will do? We'll discuss ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:50:59] SCIUTTO: the president is now admitting that closing down the southern border could have serious repercussions, a very different story from what we heard, what he said, rather, last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Closing down the border would have --

SCIUTTO: From (ph) there? But let's discuss now with CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans here.

President changing his tune.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you know, the president had said just a few days ago, he said, "Look, maybe if you close down the border, you'd get rid of that trade deficit with Mexico." And so you would -- that could be a good thing. Like most economists say shutting down the border won't get rid of the trade deficit with Mexico at all, it will just slow the legal flow of goods into the United States and out of the United States.

TEXT: Trade at U.S.-Mexico Border: $611 billion in cross-border trade in 2018; $207 billion of U.S. exports shipped to Mexico via truck or rail in 2018; 1,000-plus trucks cross border daily at port of Calexico East, CA; 11-plus daily international trains go through Laredo, Texas

ROMANS: That could shut down the auto industry in maybe a week. You could have all kinds of shortages of fruits and vegetables. And for the American farmers, oh my gosh, you guys. They are just getting nailed by retaliatory tariffs already, and this flooding.

And then you say they can't ship their beef and their pork and the like across the border, that could be devastating for them.

Larry Kudlow, the president's economic advisor, is maybe softening that a little bit and saying, "No, no, the president sees both things as important. Safety and security, and maybe -- and trade." And they'll be trying to find maybe new ways to allow legitimate commercial traffic. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We're watching it and looking for ways to allow the freight passage. Some people call it truck roads. And there are ways you can do that, which would ameliorate the breakdown in supply chains.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Now, normally, that's called ports of entry, right? That's how we do things. We have legal and well-monitored trade between these countries. So we'll see if the president steps back from his threat of completely shutting the border.

HARLOW: Romans, we found that sound, the miraculous people in the control room got it for us. Here is the president last week, and now just yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sure, it's going to be -- have a negative impact on the economy.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: All right. So last week he said it would be good for the economy. Last night he said of course it would hurt the economy.

I'm hearing from famers in the Midwest --

ROMANS: Yes.

HARLOW: -- from, you know, the CEO of a big ag company in the heartland, where we're from, saying, "This would be devastating to dairy farmers, right?" Folks that the president talked this week about protecting.

ROMANS: At any time, it would be very difficult and disruptive, especially now for the American agriculture industry. I cannot stress enough, you know, from the Mississippi River to Denver, Colorado, there is one story. And that is the pain that ag is suffering right now.

HARLOW: Yes.

ROMANS: So this (ph) timing on that, even as you're having progress on U.S.-China trade deal, then to shut down the Mexico border, we export more to Mexico than we do to China. Just keep that in mind.

HARLOW: Yes. Great point.

SCIUTTO: Very interesting.

HARLOW: Always good to have your brain, Christine Romans. Thank you.

[10:53:58] SCIUTTO: Still ahead, a big day in the college admissions scandal. Just a fascinating story. Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, they are set to appear in court today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN, the most trusted name in news.

SCIUTTO: In just a few hours, the actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman will appear in a federal court in Boston. They will face a judge on criminal charges connected to the nationwide college admissions scandal. CNN national correspondent Brynn Gingras has been following the story throughout.

Latest details? Going to be quite a day for them.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes. For sure, Jim and Poppy. You know, Felicity Huffman, Lori Laughlin, they've become somewhat of the faces of this college admissions scheme. I can tell you that the media is lined up all the way down the street, waiting for them to come to court ahead of their 2:30 court appearance.

Let's recap what they're accused of doing. Felicity Huffman, accused of paying $15,000 to alter her daughter's test scores in order to get into colleges.

TEXT: College Admissions Cheating Scandal, allegations against Felicity Huffman: Paid $15,000 to facilitate cheating for daughter on the SATs; Discussed scheme in recorded phone call

GINGRAS: Lori Laughlin is -- and her husband Massimo Giannulli, a fashion designer, accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into USC as crew recruits even though they'd never rowed that sport before.

TEXT: College Admissions Cheating Scandal, allegations against Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli: Agreed to pay $500,000 in bribes; Daughters designated as USC crew recruits

GINGRAS: And, you know, in the past, we've seen parents who have been in court and we've kind of gotten an idea from their attorneys, exactly how their defense might play out as this case continues.

It's unclear if we'll actually hear from Felicity Huffman or Lori Loughlin or her husband in court today. But it certainly will be the first time, if they do speak, that they've made any public statements in connection with this case. We'll see what their defense attorneys have to say on their behalf.

We do know the U.S. government has said that more charges could be coming down for not only those two women, but also other parents as well, connected in this case -- Jim.

HARLOW: Wow. It just seems like it's -- the net is getting bigger and bigger. Brynn, great reporting on this throughout. Thank you very much.

Thanks for being with us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. It's been great to be in Atlanta.

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