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Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D) New Mexico Is Interviewed About The President's Tax Returns And Mueller Report; Rep. Tim Ryan Joins Crowded Field Of Democratic Hopefuls; 14-Year-Old Says He Is Illinois Boy Who Went Missing In 2011. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired April 4, 2019 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:32:53] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It was foreshadowed. It was threatened. It was promised. And now, it's happened. House Democrats want to see the President's tax returns. Republicans are already fighting back.
Well, the Democratic chairman of the tax writing committee says the following. Quote, this request is about policy, not politics. The top Republican on the committee, Kevin Brady, he calls it abuse and says this. Weaponizing our nation's tax code by targeting political foes sets a dangerous precedent and weakens Americans' privacy rights.
Rest assured of one thing, this fight is serious and just getting started.
Joining me right now is Congressman Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico. He's part of the Democratic leadership in the House. Just a few days ago, he announced he's running for Senate in his state -- seat that was -- will be open as Senator Tom Udall is retiring. Congressman, thank you for coming in.
REP. BEN RAY LUJAN (D), NEW MEXICO: Kate thanks for having me today.
BOLDUAN: Kevin Brady, abuse and dangerous. That's what he calls this attempt to get the President's tax returns. What do you say to him?
LUJAN: Look, the -- it's very clear that there's authorities for the Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to have proper oversight over tax returns and in this case, the President of the United States. And President Trump is not the first President to have his tax returns reviewed by Congress. It was also President Nixon, President Ford.
So look, this is not about the politics. This is about the policy, and insuring that everyone in this case the President of the United States, is abiding by the same rules and laws that everyone across America has to abide by.
BOLDUAN: Despite what oversight authority any committee has, can you honestly say that there's no politics involved here in trying to get his tax returns? LUJAN: Look, the President is the first president in modern times not to voluntarily release his tax returns after he promised he would do that. And so it's incumbent upon us as we're conducting our oversight responsibilities, in this case, the Ways and Means Committee, and additional investigations that continue to take place in the House Intelligence Committee looking at financial ties of this President to the Russians.
So look, in every way we can, I think it's incumbent upon us to get the information, to get the facts. And if there's nothing to hide, I don't understand why this should be such a challenge and why there should be pushback from this administration.
[11:35:08] BOLDUAN: Politics -- policy, and politics. I think we can probably agree that there's a little bit of a mix of both involved here. So if Congressman Neal, the chairman, if he gets the returns and everything is on the up and up, as you said, if there's nothing to hide, why don't you put them out, are you ready to say that's the end of it?
LUJAN: Look, if everything is on the up and up with the President's tax returns and that's where the facts lead us, then that's something that should be clearly spelled out. The same thing with the Mueller report, make it public. Let's make sure we understand where the facts lead us. Reveal the information to the American people. And if everything is on the up and up, then that's where the facts lead us.
BOLDUAN: I want to get to the Mueller report in a second, but on the Democratic side, a lot of the candidates have put out tax returns, multiple years. Bernie Sanders, though, famously has resisted releasing his tax returns. In the 2016 campaign, he only released his 2014 returns. This time, he promised Wolf Blitzer in a town hall, to release more, saying in February that it would be soon, but nothing yet. How many years do you think the Democrats running for President should have to release?
LUJAN: Well, look, whatever we can make sure that we're doing to encourage presidents to release or presidential candidates to release their tax returns we should be doing. As a matter of fact, Congress actually took action and we passed into law in H.R.1 the requirement for presidential candidates to release their tax returns. I think that's good for truth and transparency for the American people. Some of the candidates have --
BOLDUAN: And that's a great point. And that is a great point. That was part of H.R.1. That is part of what you guys believe. So if Bernie Sanders isn't putting out 10 years like Elizabeth Warren and others has, what do you say to him?
LUJAN: Well, Democrats and Republicans should embrace this. I think its incumbent upon all of us especially those of us that voted for this important initiative from a party perspective that we make sure everyone on all sides are doing this.
BOLDUAN: So let's talk about the Mueller report. Do you have faith in the attorney general to release as much of the report as is possible?
LUJAN: The attorney general has shown his reluctance, if not outright refusal --
BOLDUAN: How? How has he shown that reluctance? So he hasn't even done anything yet. He says he's working on it.
LUJAN: Well, he says he's working on it. He's delaying this. He's only released a summary. The only people who know what's in the report are Special Counsel Mueller and his associates as well as the attorney general. The attorney general put out a four-page summary.
What's most concerning though is that "The New York Times" is reporting that associates of Special Counsel Mueller are saying that the attorney general is not accurately reporting what was in the report, so that's concerning. Let's get a chance to look at this so that way, again, we can see where the facts take us and make sure it's available to not just the Congress but the American people.
BOLDUAN: How -- what's your measure of how much of the report is enough to see? Is it 50 percent, is it 75 percent, is it 90 percent, is it 100 percent, you know, when you're talking about redactions?
LUJAN: Well, I'm of the opinion that we need to release as much of this report as we can. And I'm looking and advocating for releasing --
BOLDUAN: Maybe if you see 50 percent of the report, are you going to say that's an absolute travesty?
LUJAN: No, look, I've advocated for the release of the entire report. I understand and I'm sensitive to information that may be sensitive from a redaction perspective, but that does not appeared to be what the attorney general is doing.
As a matter of fact, it was even suggested that members of Congress who had received a classified briefing in order to keep us from talking about this report, it's incumbent for the American people to see this report, and as much of it. And I've been expressing my support for the entirety of the report to be released.
BOLDUAN: But Democrats were furious when Jim Comey held that press conference about not charging Hillary Clinton and talking about details of the investigation when she wasn't charged with anything during the campaign. Are you asking Bill Barr to do the exact same? He's not charging Donald Trump. So why should DOJ list out all the details especially when you're talking about grand jury testimony which could be true, maybe not true about the investigation publicly? Explain that to me.
LUJAN: Mr. Comey decided to come forward and take action upon Election Day as opposed to us conducting our constitutionally responsible oversight to carry out and get this information. And that's why we're asking the attorney general to work with us. Congress is doing everything we can. As a matter of fact, we voted 420-0, Democrats and Republicans came together to say this report should be made public and made available. And on top of that, the President of the United States himself said that he wouldn't back away from releasing this report. So that's all we're saying is, keep your word, Mr. President.
BOLDUAN: Are you satisfied if there are classified elements of this, sensitive elements, are you satisfied if members of Congress see it but the public doesn't?
LUJAN: Absolutely not. It's incumbent that the American people also are able to see this report. I think people across America have asked for that, and that's something that we should be able to deliver, and that the attorney general should respect as well.
BOLDUAN: Let's see what the attorney general's move is. Mid-April is upon us pretty much. Congressman, thank you for coming in. I appreciate it. You ran in to vote, came out in 90 seconds. That's how fast you can move as a member of Congress if you want to. Thank you, sir.
[11:40:06] LUJAN: Thank you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Coming up, another Democrat jumps into the 2020 race for president. So how does he stack up? How does he want to stack up? How is he positioning himself against the growing field right now? We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: Add one more to the list. Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio is in. Joining the growing list of 2020 Democratic candidates speaking out earlier on ABC, describing the moments behind how he made the final decision to run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:45:12] REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: And I can go back just a few weeks where my daughter called me crying from school because her friend was crying to her. Her dad just got transferred at the local General Motors plant. The kids had to move.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
RYAN: And my daughter called me and she said, you got to do something. And I said, I'm going to do something. And I'm going to run for President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: A member of Congress since 2003, Congressman Ryan says that he's planning a Saturday rally in Youngstown, Ohio about all this. CNN national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux is tracking this for us. Suzanne, tell folks more about Congressman Tim Ryan.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, Kate, Tim Ryan is probably best known here in Washington for being the guy who failed to overthrow Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House twice. He tried after Trump won in 2016 election, arguing the Democratic Party needed new leadership. And again, two years later but backed down, ultimately supporting her.
Outside of Washington, let's face it. He has very little name recognition. He's a 46-year-old congressman from Ohio. He's been in office since 2003. When he first took office, he was the youngest House Democrat at 29 years old. He represents the 13th District, which is largely a working class district in northeast Ohio. And that is a district where roughly 45,000 people voted for both him and Trump in 2016.
As a young man, he was recruited to play football in college and a knee injury forced him to take another route which was politics and law. And he fashions himself as a bridge, an economic champion of the forgotten middle working class. And he is both praised and criticized for being a bit all over the map when it comes to policy. He was against reproductive rights, now he supports it. He was a strong proponent of gun rights. Now, he leans more toward gun control.
He believes in Medicare for all but also tax cuts for corporations. And like Trump, he argues against NAFTA, current U.S. trade deals. But he also supports a higher minimum wage, more than the $15 that Bernie Sanders is proposing. So what does he say about this? How does he explain it? He says, well, this makes him fiercely independent, Kate.
BOLDUAN: How does, other than being fiercely independent, what does the congressman say is going to set him apart from the pack right now? How did he describe it?
MALVEAUX: Sure. I mean, he's a champion of the working class. I think there's a headline from the "Atlantic" that says, and it asked the question, can a rust belt yogi save the Democratic Party? Apparently, he's big on meditation and hot yoga. It sums it up because he's been publicly musing about running for higher office for a long time.
And there are those in the Democratic Party who believe that he might not stand much of a chance of winning the Democratic nomination, but could provide a higher profile for something down the road. His two toughest primary competitors would be Joe Biden as well as Senator Amy Klobuchar, who are competing for the same midwestern voters. Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes, when folk say, and yes, he's low name I.D. across the country right now. When folks say he's very little known, you can say that about a lot of the candidates who are jumping into the race. As we see, things aren't changing when it comes to name I.D.
MALVEAUX: Yes, just starting.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Suzanne, I really appreciate it.
Coming up for us, a possible break in a cold case, a mystery for nearly a decade. Could this teenager on the left be the missing Illinois boy on the right who vanished eight years ago?
[11:48:31] More on that next.
BOLDUAN: A missing child investigation is under way now in three states this morning, and here's why. It is an incredible story, if it is true. A 6-year-old boy, the boy you see on right part of your screen, he goes missing. Three days later his mother's body is found in a hotel room with a note saying that he is now with people who love him.
Well, now, almost eight years later, a 14-year-old boy shows up, picture on your left, shows up in Kentucky saying that he is Timmothy Pitzen and that he's escaped his kidnappers and that he just wants to go home. Incredible.
CNN's national correspondent, Athena Jones is following all the details as they are coming out on the story. Athena, please, they are trying to figure it out. Is this 14-year-old boy Timmothy Pitzen, and if so what happened to him?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Good morning, Kate. This is an extraordinary story. We know that multiple law enforcement agencies are working together to try to get to the bottom of this. It all began Wednesday morning with a call to police from this neighborhood here in Kentucky. That call leading to this possible break in what has been an 8-year-old or nearly 8-year-old cold case that gained national attention.
FRAY KNIGHT, NEWPORT, KENTUCKY RESIDENT: We could see the fear on him and how nervous he was and how he kept pacing. And he just looked odd.
JONES (voice over): A stunning discovery in one Kentucky town after a teenager told authorities he is this missing boy, Timmothy Pitzen, last seen nearly eight years ago. This age-progressed photo shows what he may look like today.
Law enforcement has not confirmed the teen's identity, but Timmothy's family says they're cautiously hopeful.
ALANA ANDERSON, TIMMOTHY PITZEN'S GRANDMOTHER: I'm very hopeful that it's him and that he's OK and he's been in a good place when he was gone, that he's going to come back to us.
JONES (voice over): An Ohio police report says that the male identified himself as now 14-year-old Pitzen, adding that he, quote, just escaped from two kidnappers holding him for seven years, running across a bridge into Kentucky from a Red Roof Inn. The boy was unsure where the inn was located.
A woman who saw the boy outside her house tells CNN her neighbor called police after the boy told her he'd been running for two hours and didn't know where he was.
KNIGHT: He had bruises on his face. He looked real shaky, like he was hungry, he was unsure. I mean even a little noise, he was jumping. He was very uneasy.
JONES (voice over): Timmothy Pitzen vanished when he was only six years old after his mother, Amy Fry Pitzen, checked him out of school and took him on a three-day road trip. The child was last seen leaving this Wisconsin resort with his mother.
[11:55:04] The next day, Amy Fry Pitzen was discovered dead inside this Illinois motel from an apparent suicide. Police finding a cryptic note that read, Tim is somewhere safe with people who love him and will care for him. You will never find him.
Timmothy's disappearance has puzzled law enforcement for years.
LEE CATAVU, DETECTIVE, AURORA POLICE DEPARTMENT: I have yet to meet one person who believes that she would ever harm her child. The other option is that she turned him over to someone who, as she wrote in her note, would love and care for him.
JONES (voice over): Pitzen's family relaying this message to the teen they are praying is their loved one.
ANDERSON: We have never stopped looking for him, thinking about him and that we love him and will do everything to get him back to a good life.
JONES: Now the teen describes his alleged kidnappers as two white men with body builder-type physics. One with curly black hair and a spire web tattoo on his neck. The other short and statured with a snake tattoo on his arms. They may be driving a white Ford SUV. And police here tell us they're getting an uptick in calls and tips from the public. And they're working hard to run every single one of them down to get the bottom of this. Kate.
BOLDUAN: Oh my god, so many questions. I can only imagine what his family is thinking right now. And their hope now renewed. Unbelievable. Thanks so much, Athena.
We'll be right back.