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Prosecutors To Demand Jail Time In College Admission Scam; Trump At Odds With Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) Kentucky On Health Care And Border; Trump To GOP On Voting: You've Got To Be A Little Bit More Paranoid; House Panel Authorizes Subpoena For Full Mueller Report; Trump Tweets New Threat He'll Shut Down Border; Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D) Texas Raises $9.4 Million In 18 Days. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 3, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


14:30:01] BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It will be the first time that they have addressed these charges, Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN NEWSROOM: All right. Brynn, thank you very much. We'll keep our eye to the ground with your help.

Joey Jackson is with me, a criminal defense attorney and CNN Legal Analyst, and - Pop Culture Commentator and Anchor of People TV back with me.

And so it begins, today's hearing, from what I've read, is pretty standard. So what happens today?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So not much at all. So it's the beginning of what could be a long journey or could be short depending upon plea dispositions, but you are getting everyone in the jurisdiction of the court once they are in. There is a criminal complaint obviously that's out there that's out there that is filed that details the charges.

Do you know what the complaint is? And the defendants need to know their rights and that they have this criminal complaint and they're represented by counsel, issues of bail and custody and that type of thing, can we travel and move on.

And thereafter, the goods begin in terms of the discovery, sharing of information, what do the prosecutors have. And I wouldn't be surprised if there have not been discussions between the lawyers and certainly the prosecutors and the lawyers of clients to have a discussion about where we go from here and it's a decision to make. Do you want to fight the power, so to speak?

Do you want to cut a deal early in the event they are guilty because it is often better to resolve a situation early in the event you are guilty than to move on because the stakes get progressively higher, and that means more jail.

BALDWIN: Do we know what these -- I mean, I know it involves so many parents. But these are the faces, these are the women in that courtroom today in terms of why this has gripped the nation so totally, what they've been up to since the case broke, their children. You tell me.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, ANCHOR, PEOPLE TV: That's a good question, Brooke. And I think of the reasons it's really gripped the nation is because it is a clear-cut scandal. There is so much going on in the news right now and so much of it is opaque to a lot people. A lot of it is inside baseball. What's going on with Brexit? I don't know. How did Jussie Smollett beat the charges? I don't know. The Mueller report, what is in it? I don't know. But this appears to be a clear-cut scandal. You have privileged people paying for children to get into elite colleges, simple and done.

JACKSON: And very relatable.

OGUNNAIKE: And very relatable. And I think the average person who may not understand the inner workings of all the headlines can understand this one scandal.

BALDWIN: And, quickly, you mentioned of a private jet.

OGUNNAIKE: A private jet. So we're reporting on People.com that yesterday, Lori Loughlin and her husband, who you mentioned was behind Mossimo, flew into Boston on a private jet. Now if you are involved in a scandal that's in part related to the fact that you used your privilege to get your two children into college unfairly, why would you arrive on a private jet?

That is just bad for optics. Whoever advised them that that was the way to fly deserves to be fired today.

BALDWIN: Now, these women, we should -- I mean, this is incredibly serious, what they are facing, these women face -- it's different cases, right? Huffman only spent $15,000 for test scores. Loughlin and her husband spent half a million to bribe an athletic coach. Can you just compare and contrast their cases for us?

JACKSON: Yes, sure. So what ends up happening is that, to be clear, if they are charged with the same thing, right? You're conspiring. You're committing, really, mail fraud and honest services fraud, which is with kickbacks and bribery and that type of thing.

But at the end of the day, right, one obviously, is significantly more because of the money spent, right? And the other instance where you have the 15,000 relating to cheating and upgrading the exam after they took it, apparently, she was going to do the same thing for the other daughter, thought twice about it.

But in court, right, we always talk about these aggravating factors and these mitigating factors, right. Aggravating factors, what makes something seem worse, mitigating factors, what makes something a little better. The fact is a crime is a crime is a crime but the degree of money spent on it who are not so similarly situated not so similarly situated.

And so, ultimately, I think, if they are guilty, again, I think that there will be a plea bargain which has to include jail, optically speaking. We're talking about privilege. We're talking about a system system that has to work for everyone. We're talking about people who took advantage of their celebrity of that privilege. And as a result of that, a judge has to deter you.

So always remember, Brooke, no matter what prosecutors and ultimately the attorneys for Lori Loughlin, et cetera, come up with, a judge has to approve it. That's the deal.

OGUNNAIKE: But also in terms of optics, I think one of the things that they can do in the foreseeable future to endear themselves to the court is to maybe set up a scholarship fund for kids who are deserving of going to college but cannot afford to do so.

That half a million dollars that Lori Loughlin and her husband spent to get their two undeserving daughters into college could go a long way to helping many deserving around the country actually get into school or pay for SAT prep courses or pay for legitimate memberships on crew teams as opposed to having a fake -- like you're a member of a sports team and Photoshop your child's head on to another person's body. So that money could be better spent. I hope they're watching.

JACKSON: Yes, I hope they're watching. That's an excellent suggestion. And I think at the end of the day, there has to be contrition and there has to be something that really moves the needle in terms of recognizing what you did and allowing other people who are not so privileged perhaps to participate and engage in something that they can help their families.

BALDWIN: 100 percent. We've got Brynn there. We'll keep following it as the developments continue on in that federal courthouse in Boston.

[14:35:04]

Guys, thank you very much.

JACKSON: Thank you, Brooke.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: President Trump is once again causing whiplash for his party, policymakers from health care to the U.S.-Mexico border, to the release of this Mueller report: Republicans are still trying to keep up with the daily dramatic changes. We will talk to Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from the great State of Louisiana, on where he would like to see some focus, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:39:34] BALDWIN: On to two big issues, it is the President of the United States versus the party for health care and the U.S.-Mexico border. The President's latest Tweets are pitting him against Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Let me just show you one of the President's Tweets today on health care.

He wrote this. I was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 election on the wonderful health care package that some very talented people are now developing for me and the Republican Party. It will be on full display during the election as a much better and less expensive alternative to Obamacare.

[14:40:04]

But leader McConnell said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: I pointed out to him, the Senate Republicans' view on dealing with comprehensive health care reform with the Democratic House of Representatives. I made it clear to him, we were not be doing that in the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And on the border, the President threatened this, quote, Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the border. If no action, border or large sections of border will close. This is a national emergency. And, again, I point to leader McConnell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCONNELL: Closing down the border would have potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country. And I would hope we would not be doing that sort of thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: With me now, Republican Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana. Senator, welcome back. Nice to have you back.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right. So the President on health care is essentially saying, we're going to repeal and replace, and then he says, we'll repeal. And if you reelect a year-and-a-half later, we'll come up with a plan, and so he's Tweeting that he has people working on it.

Now, a lot of folks, Senator, are calling it whiplash and you have a penchant for a colorful vernacular. What would you call that?

KENNEDY: I think waiting is probably good politics. But I'm in the minority on this, but I think it is bad policy.

BALDWIN: Which part is bad policy?

KENNEDY: The part about not tackling health care. We tried it one time. We failed. This time, it's clear, we're going to need a bigger boat, which means we're going to need Democratic support. It doesn't give me any joy to say, Brooke, that the Affordable Care Act hasn't worked. We were told that the ACA would give us cheaper health insurance and more accessible health insurance, and it's done neither. We need to either start over or fix it. And I don't think it is going to be any easier if we wait two years. Now, I understand --

BALDWIN: But, Senator, hang on, because Democrats would point out, if it is nine years since this debate began with Obamacare and Republicans have yet to come up with a coherent plan. I remember your words from February of this year, two words, Obamacare sucks.

KENNEDY: It does.

BALDWIN: But when you're thinking about the good folks in Louisiana and they're saying, all right, Senator, you want to take my health care away, what do you tell them is the replacement plan?

KENNEDY: I would tell them, look, I must have misspoken, because I've never said take their health care away. But before I would end the Affordable Care Act, it seems to me that it would behoove all of us, especially the American people, to have a replacement ready. That's why we need to get started now.

I don't know a single person, Republican or Democrat, who thinks we shouldn't cover pre-existing conditions. I think we have a little time because the ACA is working its way through the courts. The courts aren't going to give us a definitive ruling next week or maybe even this time next year.

But -- and, again, my views are heterodox on this and I understand the politics of waiting, but we need to be think about the next generation and not the next election. And one of things when moms and dads lie down at night and can't sleep, one of the things they're worried about is the cost of health insurance. So let's try to get with the Democrats and do something about it.

BALDWIN: Sure. No, I'm not saying you said take health care away, it was the President who kept saying now repeal and it's just -- I think a lot of people are wondering -- it's a long time depending on what the appellate court decides.

KENNEDY: Well, we tried it alone. We tried alone. We failed. Let's do it together.

BALDWIN: Let me move on on the President last night and his wide- ranging speech at that NRCC dinner. And so the President warned in one portion of the speech, he warned House Republicans that they should be, quote, more paranoid about vote tallies come 2020. Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There were a lot of close elections that were -- they seem to every single one of them went Democrat. Hey, you got to be a little bit more paranoid than you are, Okay. I don't like the way the votes are being tallied.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Senator, is that -- is the President playing with fire there?

KENNEDY: Well, that is one you'll have to ask him. If you are asking me what I think about our state elections and as I call them state of elections because even that they're for a federal office, our states run them.

[14:45:04]

I think our states do a pretty good job. In the last two budgets, we have given states extra money to try to beef up their security. I think having the states run the elections is a lot more secure when you are trying to prevent hacking by a foreign agent.

BALDWIN: So you shouldn't be paranoid to use the President's words?

KENNEDY: I think our states are doing a good job. Now, are there some exceptions to that? Yes. Are there some instances that you can point to of voter fraud? Sure. But I don't think it is rampant. I think our states do a pretty good job. That's just my personal opinion.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about the Mueller report, sir.

KENNEDY: Sure.

BALDWIN: The House Judiciary approved a subpoena to obtain that full confidential report, so this is what your Republican colleague in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, just told us today. Here you go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Who in the world wants to violate the grand jury rule? I don't. Who in the world wants to release classified information that shouldn't be released? I don't. Barr is going to tell us about the conclusions, we'll get to see the report, and that will be that.

Well, you have this paranoia that my friends on the left have that the conclusions are really not what they are and that we're going to retry and that Mueller's conclusions are not good enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Do you agree with Senator Graham?

KENNEDY: To an extent. Look, I think we ought to let it all hang out. I'm okay releasing the complete report.

Now, we can't violate law. If the federal law says you can't release grand jury materials, then we'll have to figure out a way around that. I also don't want to violate any national security concerns or get anybody killed. But I've got confidence in Bill Barr. I think he's going to release as much as he can. I would not be averse to having Mr. Mueller if he is willing coming to the relevant committee and testify and let it all hang out.

BALDWIN: Okay, that's significant. I think that's news worthy, what you are saying.

And I want to, of course, just end with the border. I know you really wanted to talk about the U.S.-Mexico border. And so this morning, you have the President threatening to shut down the border and we did some digging. And in your state alone, did $8.7 billion worth of trade with Mexico. That was in 2017. Mexico is Louisiana's second largest export market. So what do you think, Senator Kennedy, of the President threatening to close down the border?

KENNEDY: Well, the President, as we know, has a philosophy that if you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly. He is very aggressive. I think in this case, he is overly aggressive. And here is why. If you shut down the border, the cure is as bad as the disease.

Number one, it will take probably a point off our GDP, Mexico is our third biggest trading partner, about 500,000 people legally cross that border every day, and number two, it's not going to do anything to stem illegal immigration just closing the legal points of entry. People are still going to come.

If we want to stop the illegal immigration, we have to do two things. We need to -- we need to change the asylum laws, we need to do something and surprise ourselves in Congress and do something intelligent and change the asylum laws and, number two, I would like to see the President sit down with the presidents of Mexico and the northern triangle countries and let's see if we can come up with a specific plan.

We'll put up some money in return for specific commitments from the presidents of the Central American countries, we can model it on the planned Colombia proposal that we implemented with Colombia when we pretty much stopped, not completely, the cocaine trafficking.

BALDWIN: Got it. Have that conversation with all of those presidents and come to some productive conclusion, perhaps instead of just yanking aid, which is what we've been hearing from Washington.

KENNEDY: Yes. People are coming here -- people are coming -- some people, not all, but many people are coming here from Central America not out of hunger, but out of fear, because their countries are corrupt.

BALDWIN: No. Senator John Kennedy, I so appreciate you and thank you for wanting to talk and have these conversations. I appreciate it very much. Let it all hang out. That's what's sticking with me on the Mueller report. Thank you, sir.

Big news just in from Beto O'Rourke's team, his campaign has raised $9.4 million in just 18 days. We will break down those numbers for you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:50:00]

[14:54:05] BALDWIN: New fundraising numbers for Democrat Beto O'Rourke, the presidential candidate revealing his campaign, raised some $9.4 million in the first 18 days, the average donation, $43. But Senator Bernie Sanders is leading the field overall, his campaign raising $18.2 million in its first six weeks.

So our CNN Senior Washington Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, an in-person treat on this Wednesday. So you just came from his events, Beto's event?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I did.

BALDWIN: Can you tell me about that and what your analysis of his money is?

ZELENY: Well, look, I think people were expecting a big number. We're sort of getting used to these eye-popping multimillion dollar numbers but it's smaller than a lot Democrats were thinking, $9.4 million, nothing to sneeze at at all over 18 days. But if you think about it, he raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours.

So by the candidates releasing that, it sort of raises expectations. So I think what it does is kind brings Beto O'Rourke back to earth a little bit and shows that he is going to have to slug it out like every other presidential candidate.

[14:55:09]

And the fact that Bernie Sanders has $18 million, he is now the indisputable -- undisputable frontrunner in this case, without question. He's run before. But $9.4 million is only $2 million more than Pete Butteigig so -- and Kamala Harris, $12 million. So what does all this mean? It means that people will have enough money to run a full campaign but it means that it's going to be difficult to perhaps have record-breaking numbers.

I went back and looked, because I was covering the Obama campaign way back 12 years ago, in '07. Barack Obama first proved that he could go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton at this moment, when he raised $25 million in the first quarter of '07 to her slightly less than that.

So these are all smaller numbers, he just got in, take a pause. But it brings a bit of a reality check today, I think, for Beto O'Rourke.

BALDWIN: It's interesting, the context from '07 to -- can you believe it's been so long.

ZELENY: I know, right?

BALDWIN: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

ZELENY: Good to see you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: A programming note. The four part CNN Original Series, Tricky Dick, explores Richard Nixon's rise and fall, incredible comeback and political destruction, featuring never before seen footage. This series continues Sunday night 9:00 P.M. Eastern, of course, here on CNN. We're going to take you in a bit back to Boston, live pictures outside of the federal courthouse there, two Hollywood actresses among several parents facing this federal judge. You know the story. They are all accused in this massive college admissions cheating scandal. We are live with the very latest. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:05] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.