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CNN NEWSROOM

20 States File Motion to Block Trump Border Wall Funding; Boeing Admits It's Working on Second Software Fix; President Trump Hosts Border Security Roundtable; Harvard Fencing Coach Under Investigation; Chicago to Sue Jussie Smollett for Cost of Investigation; Trump Lawyers Sent Letter Pushing Back on Request for Tax Returns; Man Who Pretended to Be Missing Boy Charged. Aired 3:30- 4p ET

Aired April 5, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Meantime, 20 states are now suing to stop him from using federal funding outlined in his national emergency declaration to complete the border wall. They have filed a motion accusing President Trump and a number of administration officials of violating the separation of powers principal. And CNN's Nick Watt is live in Calexico, California, right along the border with Mexico where the President is today. And so you tell me first, how are people there reacting to the President's visit?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was met at El Centro by some Trump fans. I've seen a couple of red MAGA hats around here but no more than two. There are a few hundred protesters who have been out here all morning and they do not want the wall and they do not want President Trump to close the border. They were concerned that perhaps today would have been his platform to announce that closure.

The reason that they don't want a border wall here is a lot of people carrying signs saying two countries, one community. This town Calexico on the U.S. side, is pretty small, about 40,000 people. Mexicali, its sister city on the other side, has about a million people.

People in this town rely on cross-border trade for their existence. One town official said if he closed the border this town will be strangled. Now they say, listen, we've problems down here but the problem is not the border. The problem is education. The problem is health care. The problem is the environment. Those are things that we need. We don't want, we don't need a border wall.

When they talk about their region down here, they're talking about an area that straddles that border. There is a lot of movement across those border. They said, listen, if you're going to spend that money on anything, spend it on upgrading the port of entry so people can cross more freely. And also you have border patrol can check for those drug smugglers. That's what they want. They don't want a wall and these people don't really want to see President Trump. But they hope he is going to pass here so they could holler at him -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: You could tell how they feel. They just want some of those signs we just saw. Let me ask you this,

Nick. Before the President left the White House this morning, he had tweeted, within two years we will have close to 400 miles built or under construction and keeping our country safe.

What is the reality about border construction?

WATT: Well, the reality here, I could tell you is this, I was down here in October when this two and a quarter-mile stretch was unveiled. And there's a plaque on that wall that says, "The First Section of President Trump's Border Wall."

It's not, it's actually a fence. You could see through it. And I'm not sure if that makes the definition of a fence. But it was also earmarked way back in 2009 -- before President Trump even ran for office -- earmarked for replacement. There was a fence there already. They have replaced it with a taller fence, that is true. But it is not really the first part of President Trump's border wall. But he has hailed it as that and I wouldn't be surprised if he hails it as that again today -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, Nick, thank you very much in Calexico. We're keeping our eye on the President speaking part of that round table with immigration officials. Thank you very much for now.

Coming up next, Boeing finds a second software problem with its Max 8 jets and admits it may delay getting them back up in the air. See what's being done to fix it.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Boeing's struggle to get the 737 Max 8s back in service has just been hit with another setback. "The Washington Post" reports the FAA has ordered Boeing to fix a second software problem. The manufacturer discovered with the aircraft's flight control system. Boeing officials tell CNN that this is separate from the automated anti-stall software known as MCAS and that the second glitch is relatively minor.

A preliminary report into that Ethiopian Airlines crash cited the MCAS's failure as a major factor in the deadly accident. So Tom Foreman is with me now. And Tom, you were so wonderful on the other day when we were getting the first statement from Boeing. But now we have this second issue with the flaps. Can you tell me about this and how it relates to the flight control system?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a Boeing source tells CNN that this is a minor issue as you mentioned a moment ago. The flaps are of course not a minor part of the plane. So perhaps what he means is an easy thing to fix. Maybe not a big thing but the truth is, Brooke, there is nothing minor about anything happening at Boeing right now. There is so much scrutiny on this company, particularly as we've digested the preliminary report a bit more. And Boeing has itself said, Yes, this is the problem. This computerized system on board, we have to get it fixed, we have to get it right. Remember, the computerized system is supposed to be a safety measure

to keep the plane from nosing up and stalling instead of false input. Which apparently has happened in both Lion Air and the Ethiopian Air crash in those cases a false reading made it instead push the plane down toward the ground. And, Brooke, you know, the bottom line is many people who don't know anything about avionics or about aviation, they do understand this, this preliminary report said the plane ended up going into the ground at a 40-degree angle traveling close to 600 miles per hour. Everybody gets that.

And until Boeing can come up with really ironclad proof now to convince the regulators, the aviation industry, pilots and the flying public that that will not, cannot, never going to happen again, this plane remains in very deep turmoil and probably remains on the ground. And that's a big, big deal for Boeing.

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: What about the fact that Ethiopian Airlines says, there is now a big question mark regarding its future orders for Max 8 jets?

FOREMAN: Yes, this is an issue because the planes are roughly 5,000 orders out there and there are questions about the degree to which they can turn down the jets or break these contracts. But what are you going to do if you are Boeing? If all of a sudden more people say we simply don't want them, they are still --

BALDWIN: Tom, forgive me. We need to go to the President.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- had a tremendous impact already, the piece that we're going to be look at. But we have under contract and under construction, we have a lot of things happening. And we expect to have close to 400 miles done within about two years from now. That is a lot. 400 miles will cover most of it.

I just want to thank everybody for being here. We have some of our great, great people from the state. And of all places, it's California. And we love California. But those people want us to build the wall and we've got to do it, including the wall in San Diego which is pretty much completed and it has had a tremendous impact. The wall is having a tremendous impact.

So I want to thank the border patrol station in Calexio -- Calexico and it's been a great group of people. I just met them back stage and the way you work is pretty incredible and the job you do is beyond belief.

We have a system that's full. It is just full. And I was telling some of the people before, if it is full, there is nothing you can do about it. We have some horrible court decisions that have been made over the years. It's very unfair. And that's the way it is. But the system is full. And when it is full, there's nothing you can do. You have to say, I'm sorry, we can't take you.

We've been trying to take people and I have to disagree with it. We've been trying to take people and you can't do it. You can't do it. So we're going to look at that and we're going to look at a very -- very strongly. I would like to thank Secretary Nielsen for being here, General Semonite, chief of Army Corps of Engineers for being here. And thank you very much. It has been fantastic. The job you've done. And you're going to be speaking later on and explaining exactly what's happening with the wall and how much. In fact we'll be doing some of it now, I think. Probably better time to do. Commissioner Kevin --

BALDWIN: President Trump there speaking with immigration officials and some members of Congress there, Calexico, California. Along the U.S./Mexico border. We'll keep an ear to the ground on what he has to say. Quick break. We're back in a moment.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A real estate deal in Boston between Harvard's head fencing coach and a wealthy parent raising questions about who gets into top tier colleges. How they get in? The "Boston Globe" reporting that back in 2016 a father of two student athletes, one already at Harvard and the others in high school, bought the fencing coach's house for nearly twice its value.

The "Globe" reports, just a couple of months later, his younger son got accepted into Harvard and a couple of months after that the dad sold the house at a $300,000 loss. You could see why Harvard is now investigating.

Let's bring in Sara Azari. She's a white-collar criminal defense attorney. And, Sarah, to be clear, this is not part of the massive college admissions scandal, but we should note also both of the sons actually do fence. But still, when you are reading through the details, what are the red flags for you?

SARA AZARI, WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Look, both of the sons -- I think the mother went to Harvard. But still this is really stinky. I mean, he bought the house at a loss. He claims it's an investment but then it's done covertly. The kids don't even know their father bought the house from the fencing coach. Why cover that up? I mean, if it's a legitimate purchase, if it's a legitimate investment -- first of all, it's not an investment, it's a complete loss. But why cover it up.

Unfortunately this is yet another example of a wealthy parent cheating their children's way into college. And in this case, not really a crime. I mean, it's a bribery in disguise but it doesn't amount to any type of fraud that could be prosecuted based on what I read so far. So, I don't know, I think Harvard is doing the right thing by doing an internal investigation. Because Harvard was not part of that scandal and their trying to keep their integrity intact.

BALDWIN: Yes, so they're investigating that. How about what's been going on in Chicago? The Jussie Smollett case. He is now refusing to pay the city of Chicago for the cost of that investigation into what officials' claim was a faked hate crime. So now Chicago says it is going to sue Smollett. Does Chicago ever see the money?

AZARI: Look, you know, what's interesting to me about this, is Mark Geragos' three-page response to the city of Chicago's counsel. Essentially saying, take a hike, we're not paying you the $130,000. If you think you're going to file a lawsuit, it's frivolous. If you think you're going to prosecute under the municipal code, it's double jeopardy, it's malicious prosecution, you've made defamatory comments.

Really, he comes out on the offensive. And I just hope this doesn't turn the stink into a stench. The theme of the day is stink. Because it's just, you know, he's opening up a can of worms.

[15:50:00] He's saying, look, we're going to have all of these hearings in public, all of the discovery is going to be aired out. We want everybody to know what happened in your investigation. And I wonder if that's Geragos puffing or if this is really an empty can of worms? I mean, he comes on very strong about Smollett being harassed, Smollett doesn't owe any money. And it's interesting to me. I mean, it's a very strong response, but again, very consistent with Smollett claiming his innocence.

Even though the state attorney's office said, you know, we're dismissing this, not because he's innocent. We stand by the investigation. But it's because we think it's the fair thing to do. So can he be sued? Absolutely. There's a provision under the municipal code in Chicago that allows for the collection of restitution by its police department. Even absent a criminal restitution order. So he can be sued. And I think this is going to maybe be a door into the transparency that all of us have been asking for.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes, Sara Azari, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

I want to get to an update on the breaking news we've been covering this hour. A Trump administration official telling CNN that President Trump and his legal team are willing to fight the House Democratic request. This is coming from House Ways and Means for his tax returns. They want six years' worth. They are saying they're willing to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Let's go back to our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown, with an update. You just got the text of the letter that they sent to Treasury. What does it say?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN WHITE SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We're learning about this letter, here, Brooke, that was just sent from lawyers retained by President Trump from Consovoy/McCarthy law firm pushing back against this request from the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee for the President's tax returns. This is a letter that was sent to the general counsel in the Treasury Department. And the lawyers are making their case.

We're getting a glimpse for the first time of the case they're making, saying that essentially the chairman does not have a legitimate reason to obtain the President's tax returns.

Here are a couple excerpts from this letter. One of the excerpts says, even when ways and means can identify some legitimate committee purpose, it cannot request tax returns and return information to punish taxpayer for their speech, or politics.

It goes on to say, Chairman Neal's request is especially inappropriate, because as noted above, he is asking for tax returns, administrative files, and other information regarding an ongoing IRS examination.

Talking about the audit that the President said is ongoing with his tax returns. Now, as we know, tax returns can still be released, even though it is under audit. But this letter is making a broader case, that this has to do with the constitution, this has to do with the law, that there isn't a legitimate purpose.

But even if the Democrats could prove there was one, this letter makes the case that their reasoning is transparent. That this is all about politics and Presidential harassment, because the President is in a different party.

Now, as you know, Brooke, Democrats have said that they believe that they have solid legal ground here. That this is all part of their oversight responsibility. And so, we're just now getting a glimpse of this fight, in the wake of this letter that was sent to the IRS, from the Democratic chairman. And this fight will continue -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Pamela, thank you for the update.

BROWN: Yes.

BALDWIN: Former Vice President Joe Biden today speaking out for the first time since several women have come forward, accusing him of making them feel uncomfortable. There he was on stage this morning. Had a big speech. And he joked about the allegations. Two times. Coming up.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Let's take a moment to honor this week's CNN hero. Three times a week, every week for the past six years, Judge Craig Mitchell, wakes up at 3:30 in the morning and runs through L.A.'s notorious skid row neighborhood. He does it to try to change the lives of those struggling with poverty and homelessness and addiction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE CRAIG MITCHELL, FOUNDER, THE SKID ROW RUNNING CLUB (voice-over): Running is a mechanism for the participants to build relationships.

(on camera): This is the one time I'm at the front of the pack.

(voice-over): Lawyers, social workers, people from all different walks of life, running with people who are recovering from addiction and homelessness.

(on camera): Good job.

(voice-over): We affirm, we listen, we support. It shows what open- minded people who really care about each other, how they can treat one another. And it's a lesson in and of itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: To nominate someone that you think is worthy to be a CNN Hero, please go to the website, CNNheros.com right now.

Just in to us here at CNN, charges have now been filed against a man who turned up this week claiming to be a boy who disappeared in 2011 when he was just 6 years old. DNA results proved otherwise. Today, federal prosecutors charged 23-year-old Brain Rini with making false statements to federal investigators. They say he has a history of making such claims. But for relatives of the boy he claimed to be, Timmothy Pitzen, who is still missing, it was the re-opening of an old wound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALANA ANDERSON, TIMMOTHY PITZEN'S GRANDMOTHER: It's kind of back to ground zero for us. You know, I'm kind of re-living everything that did happen and renewing the loss, one more time. It's hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Investigators claim the imposter learned about the missing boy's story from watching a "20/20" episode.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you for being with me. We're going to go to Washington now. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.