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Lori Loughlin in Court; Joe Biden Responds to Unwanted Touching Allegations; House Votes to Subpoena Full Mueller Report; Trump Wants Republicans to Campaign on Health Care. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 3, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

We begin with a combative day on Capitol Hill, where a congressional panel just voted to approve a subpoena for the full unredacted Mueller report to thwart any chance that the attorney general, Bill Barr, sends them anything less than transparent.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee argue that the full report contained classified information and grand jury testimony. The chairman, Jerry Nadler, said that there is zero negotiation on this. He wants to see every single page in full.


QUESTION: Are you willing to negotiate any middle ground in terms of redactions...


QUESTION: ... of the Mueller report?

You're not?

NADLER: No. The committee must see everything, as was done in every prior instance. 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'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.


BALDWIN: Now, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says he doesn't care to see the report.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Who in the world wants to validate 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 conclusions. We will get to see the report. And that will be that.

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.


BALDWIN: Let's talk about this.

Harry Litman is a former deputy assistant attorney general. And CNN political analyst Lisa Lerer is with us. She's a national political reporter for "The New York Times."

So, welcome, welcome to both of you.


BALDWIN: And, Harry, on the legal piece of this, I want to start with you. This subpoena here, is this more of a warning shot to the A.G.? Now that he knows the Democrats have this subpoena essentially in their -- in their back pockets ready, willing and able to use, will this pressure him to issue an unredacted report?

LITMAN: I don't think so. It's a -- it is a warning shot, but it's a bit of a blank in the gun. And DOJ knows that.

The real play here is about the redactions. And Nadler really needs DOJ to cooperate. If DOJ plays hardball and says as to the grand jury stuff, as to the national security stuff, we're not going to turn it over, they're bound for court and a prolonged battle. And DOJ has real arguments there.

So I think this is more of a public stance trying to set up a negotiation, but he's got a fairly weak hand to play, does Nadler. And even though subpoena sounds like a big deal, it's what happens next that matters. And it's by no means clear that they have the power that they assert.

BALDWIN: And just following you, hang on. If this does go to court, do you think the judge would decide on a partial redaction? What would that even look like?


So, the two things we have been talking about, national security stuff really should go to the intelligence leaders of the committee. But the big-ticket item here is the grand jury information. And the fight in court will be about whether there's some inherent authority for the judge to turn it over, because, in the text of the rule, it doesn't really provide for that.

So it's going to come down to whether a judge will be a little looser, they will say the Watergate precedent, et cetera. But DOJ will fight them on that. And they're in a rough court to win that battle.

BALDWIN: And, Lisa, when you look at the president, and he has reportedly said he doesn't mind if the report is released, right? He says, no, this is totally up to my attorney general. And now he's saying, it's a disgrace. He said -- quote -- "No amount of pages will satisfy the Democrats."

If he -- if he believes he was exonerated, and we know the real the real words in this report, what is -- what is he -- what is the White House really worried about, do you think?

LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think we're getting used to the real -- this whole fight has been political. But now we're entering a real political phase.

And what you see is the president, who previously, as you pointed out, said he wants the whole report released, changing his position on that, and we see it on Capitol Hill too. Don't forget, what was it, two weeks ago, every Republican in the House voted to release the report publicly.

BALDWIN: Correct.

LERER: And then, today, the Republicans on the committee voted a very different way.

So I think part of what's happening here is the euphoria that Republicans and the White House felt after Barr's four-page interpretation of this report came out is fading a little bit. And there is a concern that there could be some stuff that could be perhaps politically damaging for the president.


And also I think there is a sense that Republicans and the White House want to put this behind them as quickly as possible. We are rapidly moving into his reelection cycle. We're probably, frankly, already there.

So the further that -- the more this is put to bed, the further out from Election Day, I think the better off Republicans and the White House feels they will be.

BALDWIN: But when you say politically damaging, I mean, might that be about, you know, details that one could see about the firing of James Comey or his conversation with Lester Holt?

What would be so damaging?

LERER: Sure.

I, like most of Washington, have not seen this report, so, right. But, sure, it could be all those things. We also know that evidence was presented on both sides of the obstruction argument.

So there could be something having to do with the president's statements...


LERER: ... in public around -- around this issue.

So there could -- it could be any number of things. The point is that we don't know.


LERER: And the White House doesn't really know either.

BALDWIN: On that point, Harry, back over to you.

Chairman Nadler says that he would respect the redaction of a public report and that Congress would make the judgments as to what can and can't be redacted. But, at that time, do you think the White House would also be able to jump in and review whatever was necessary for redaction?

LITMAN: Yes, well, Barr, interestingly, has said he's not going to give the White House any extra latitude. At this point, the White House seems to trust in him.

We will see what happens, because at least a part of the report that has Mueller's analysis ought to come out, and fairly soon. And that will differ from Barr's. But, as of now, it's going to be between -- the two combatants here are DOJ and the House Judiciary Committee.

And it really -- the House -- Nadler needs Barr's cooperation. And I -- it doesn't look as if he's going to get it.

BALDWIN: Harry Litman and Lisa Lerer, thank you both. Good to see both of you.

On the president here, in other news, he just can't quit health care. First, in a surprise move, he pushes to invalidate the whole Affordable Care Act. Then he promises a Republican replacement plan. And then he punts, says, oh, we wait will do that after the 2020 vote.

And now he's prodding Republicans to embrace health care in the coming campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have the border. We have -- if you look at it, we have the immigration, but we have a lot -- we have the crime. We have the police. We have the military. We have so much.

They have health care right now. We have to take that away from them. The Republican Party will be the champion of preexisting conditions. You have to do it. I will be asking that this be my first vote immediately after the election. We are going to regain the House because of health care and other things.


BALDWIN: CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip is with me now.

And, Abby, what's this all about? What are you hearing on why the president keeps pushing health care?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, a lot of Republicans have been confused for the last couple of weeks about why the president keeps wanting to pick this fight with Democrats, when they simply felt like they could go along on this election talking about the economy and other things instead.

But what the president is talking about and what he talked about last night is what he thinks is a weakness for him and for his party going into 2020. They are worried -- he and his political advisers are worried that Democrats are going to have a plan for health care that the Republicans are not going to be able to counter.

They look back on 2018 and they see how badly Republicans were beaten over the issue of health care. And so the president wants to shore up that kind of opening for Republicans. The problem is, Republicans don't actually have a plan. And I think the president has spent a lot of time last night in that speech trying to convince his party that it's OK, that all they need to do is have a series of principles and to promise voters that they will cover preexisting conditions.

And, frankly, Brooke, a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill disagree. They are worried that that is not going to be enough, and that, instead, this is going to backfire on them. But, at the moment, they have come to kind of a truce here.

President Trump has basically agreed to put off pushing for legislation until after the 2020 election, but he's going to talk about general principles. That's a compromise from where he was just a couple of weeks ago, when top White House aides were saying that they were going to try to get a bill through Congress, or present it at least by the end of this year.

So they have completely changed course on that. And they're in a bit of a compromised position with the president on this. But, as you can see, President Trump is trying to bring his party along with him on this, trying to get them to see his view of things.

Many Republicans still today very skeptical that this will be a political winner for them -- Brooke.


BALDWIN: Abby Phillip, thank you very much at the White House.

We are just getting some news just in on former Vice President Joe Biden. He has just tweeted a response to the accusations that have come out this week that he has made women feel uncomfortable.

Here is part of that statement.


JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now -- and now it's all about taking selfies together.

Social norms have begun to change. They have shifted. And the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. And I get it. I get it. I hear what they're saying. I understand it.

And I will be much more mindful. That's my responsibility, my responsibility. And I will meet it.

But I will always believe governing, quite frankly, life, for that matter, is about connecting, about connecting with people. That won't change, but I will be more mindful and respectful of people's personal space. And that's a good thing. That's a good thing.


BALDWIN: CNN's Arlette Saenz has been covering the former vice president's potential 2020 run.

And we know the context of this video and some of these women who have come out saying they felt uncomfortable. Can you talk to me a little bit about what's the decision that's gone into the release of the video?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was just five days ago where we first heard that allegation from Lucy Flores saying that the former vice president made her uncomfortable during a 2014 encounter.

And a few days after that, you saw Vice President Joe Biden release a statement saying that he didn't believe he acted in appropriately, but that he was willing to listen to women share their experiences.

But there has been a lot of criticism in recent days. Some people say that the former vice president didn't exactly go far enough in his statement. And now he is making it fully clear that he's aware that he needs to change his behavior, his interactions with people going forward, because, as you heard in that video, he realizes that voters, though he finds connecting with them in a personal manner is useful, but he realizes that voters see their personal space as being very, very important.

And one other thing, Brooke...


SAENZ: ... that is really interesting from this video is that, at the very top, he talked about how in the coming month he expects to be talking to folks about a range of issues.

That's basically him conceding that, yes, he is going to be getting into the presidential race. This may not have been the way that he wants to acknowledge that. But as he's grappling with these allegations, these accusations, Biden and his team have made it very clear that this is not going to dissuade him from entering the race. BALDWIN: I mean, just to underscore your second point, this video, I

mean, does this not essentially show that Joe Biden is going to run for president?

SAENZ: Yes, I mean, it shows just how seriously he's taking these allegations and that he's ready and willing to change his behavior going forward.

Aside from Lucy Flores, you have had other women who've come out in recent days saying that their interactions with him have made them feel uncomfortable. You have had some women rallying to the former vice president's side, former staffers, administration officials, longtime friends, saying that this was just him being him, that he's an affectionate person.

And he kind of gets to that in the video. He talks about how he feels that he's -- going through the things that he's experienced himself, that he feels that connecting with voters can be done through gestures of comfort and support, but, going forward, he is going to be mindful.

And those interactions that he has with people on the campaign trail are going to be watched very closely going forward.

BALDWIN: Arlette Saenz, thank you very much on the former vice president.

And back to the president of the United States, in the same speech where Trump doubled down on health care, he also made the wild claim that wind power causes cancer. He said that he calls the Chinese president a king, and claims voters should be paranoid about how election results were tallied. We will unpack all of that for you.

Also, we're watching this federal court in Boston, where actress Lori Loughlin just got up in front of the judge for the first time to face those charges in the college admissions scam. We will take you to Boston as they are about to walk out.



BALDWIN: Right now in Boston, actress Lori Loughlin has just left this federal court room. Here she is in the yellow suit, where they faced -- parents face charges stemming from Operation Varsity Blues.

That is a massive college admissions cheating scam where they allegedly gamed the system to get their children into elite universities. They face charges that could send them to prison for months. They both waived a pretrial hearing, and did speak in court, telling the judge they understood their rights and the charges against them.

So let's go straight to Brynn Gingras. She's outside that courthouse.

And so we're talking about Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin here among these parents. Tell me what's just happened. BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

So, in court, basically, the judge has been bringing up a number of defendants in waves. And Lori Loughlin and her husband, the fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were one of the first waves of people.

So that's why we saw them exit the courthouse already. You might have seen some fans chase them down, trying to get a quick video of them, and a little -- a few screens coming from fans who've been out here outside the Boston courthouse.

We should expect Felicity Huffman, who was in a different wave of parents charged in this case, after Lori Loughlin, so we should see her in a few moments.

But what you just said, Brooke, essentially, the judge just made sure that they understood the charges against them. They kept the bond the way it was. If you remember, Lori Loughlin and her husband each posted $1 million bond soon after their arrests when they were in court in L.A.

They also waived that pretrial hearing. So, from all aspects, they're going to continue with this legal process. And that's when we should expect to see them again in a Boston courtroom.


Again, yes, the prosecution, the government is telling us, a source is telling us that they are going to ask anywhere from six months to nearly two years in prison for every defendant charged in this case, with no exception for those two actresses.

And, again, there is some sort of pressure on some of these parents to cooperate with prosecutors, because they want information on this case. And they have an indictment deadline to add more charges. And that deadline is nearing.

BALDWIN: OK. Brynn, thank you very much.

Let's go to Areva Martin, our legal affairs commentator and civil rights attorney and CNN legal analyst.

And so, Areva, it sounds to me like this hearing was pretty par for the course. Can you just take us inside the courtroom and what kinds of questions? What would have happened specifically?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, this is a pretty perfunctory hearing, Brooke. This is not a hearing where these defendants had to enter a plea. They didn't have to stand before a judge and say that they pled guilty or not guilty.

This was really for the judge to make sure they understood their rights to remain silent, they understood the conditions of their bond, that they couldn't travel, and that they were aware of what the process would be as they move forward. I think what everyone's waiting to see in this -- these cases is

whether these defendants will enter into some kind of plea agreement with the federal prosecutors. There's a lot of pressure on them to do so. There's reports that two of the individuals, one couple that's been charged, has already had a grand jury indictment come down that has added an additional charge of money laundering.

So the federal prosecutors are making it pretty clear to these parents that you cooperate, or you face additional very serious felony charges.

BALDWIN: And, to that point, maybe this is -- this is all part of the strategy of the pressure, is that we're learning that prosecutors say that they will ask for jail time for every single defendant.

Does that surprise you?

MARTIN: Not -- it doesn't surprise me at all, Brooke. And I think it's appropriate in a case like this.

We talk so much in this country about the dual justice system, one justice system for individuals who are wealthy and affluent, and then a separate system for poor people, who don't have the kind of access to high-powered lawyers.

And I think the prosecutors in this case from the very beginning made it clear that there would not be any kind of celebrity justice, that these defendants would face the same penalties and the same consequences as anyone else who has similar charges brought against them.

BALDWIN: When you look at these two, the two women who everyone's spotlighting because they're the more well-known, these two actresses, from what I have seen, it was Felicity Huffman only -- I say only with an asterisk -- only spent $15,000 for test scores for her kid.

Lori Loughlin and her husband spent half-a-million dollars to bribe that athletic coach. And it's my understanding -- and you tell me -- I mean, all these parents, it's all lumped together in one big case, correct?


And the prosecutors, again, have made it pretty clear, Brooke, they are not going to ask for more leniency with respect to the individuals that paid less.


MARTIN: From their perspective, this was one big scheme to deprive deserving students from an opportunity to gain admissions to these prestigious university. So they are not separating these defendants based on the amount of money that was involved with their particular charge.

But one thing I should note is that we're starting to see some of these parents push back. There's a couple that has taken the position that the money they gave to Singer was indeed a donation to his nonprofit organization that was meant for underprivileged students, and that they also purchased some kind of consulting services from him.

So we should expect some of these defendants to say, look, these were legitimate transactions, these were not bribes, these were not illegal transactions, as been stated by the prosecutors.

Don't know how far that will go, particularly since they're apparently are e-mails, text messages, audiotape and perhaps, even in some cases, videotape.


MARTIN: So it looks like the prosecutors have pretty strong evidence against the defendants that have been charged.

BALDWIN: Areva Martin, you are excellent, as always. Thank you. Good to see you.

MARTIN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We're back on the breaking story here on former Vice President Joe Biden.

He has tweeted out this video response to the accusations that have come out in the last week that he has made some women feel uncomfortable. Does this signal that he is running to be the next president?

Stay here.



BALDWIN: Just in, former Vice President Joe Biden has tweeted out this video response to the accusations that have come out in the last week that he's made some women feel uncomfortable.

And so here is the video in full.


BIDEN: Folks, in the coming month, I expect to be talking about a whole lot of issues. And I will always be direct with you.

But, today, I want to talk about gestures of support and encouragement that I have made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable.

And I'm always trying to be -- in my career, I have always tried to make a human connection. That's my responsibility, I think. I shake hands. I hug people. I grab men and women my shoulders and say, you can do this. And whether they're women, men, young, old, it's the way I have always

been. And it's way I have tried to show I care about them and I'm listening.

And, over the years, knowing what I have been through, the things that I have faced, I have found that scores, if not hundreds of people have come up to me and reached out for solace and comfort, something, something, anything that may help them get through the tragedy they're going through.