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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Trump Tax Return Questions Surface Yet Again; Trump Says U.S. Immigration System is Full; Boeing Slows Production of 737; Police Standoff in Georgia Leaves Three Dead; Surgeon Claims Their Rights Were Violated; Smollett Sued to Reimburse Chicago for False Investigation; Texas Tech, Auburn, Virginia and Michigan State to Battle to Determine the Duel for the National Championship; "Tricky Dick" Series Continues on Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired April 6, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns, absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did President Trump going from making the release of his taxes a campaign pledge at one point to a vow now fighting it all the way to the Supreme Court?
TRUMP: I'm under audit. When you are under audit, you don't do it. But I'm under audit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a hill people will be winning to die on is the quote from Team Trump on this issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump has a message for those wanting to immigrate to the United States.
TRUMP: The system is full, can't take you anymore so turn around. That's the way it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not just a U.S. problem. It' not just a Mexico problem, it's a Western Hemisphere problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mueller's team is reportedly fuming. They're saying that Barr didn't accurately characterize their case in his four-page letter. If he's worried about his legacy, then why mischaracterize it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing he has to lose at this point in his career is his reputation. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day" weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Good morning. A legal dispute between the White House and House democrats is now escalating. The president is pushing back on democrat's request for his tax returns and he is willing to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: And then on the border, the president told those seeking asylum that the quote, "country is full and the U.S. cannot take anymore migrants." Simply put, he says "turn around."
BLACKWELL: And the Justice Department is responding to the first lawsuit seeking the full release of the special counsel's report on Russia. They say essentially they're already working on it and the courts shouldn't circumvent the process.
A source tells CNN that the president's attorneys have been preparing for a fight over his tax returns for several months. The critics argue it's not a fight worth having especially since the president said he would release his tax returns without question before he ran for office.
TRUMP: If I decide to run for office, I will produce my tax returns, absolutely.
PAUL: Now the president repeatedly claims he can't release his returns because he is under audit. The audit is one of the main reasons the democrats want his returns in the first place. An administration official is calling the request quote, "abuse and overreach by congress." The House Ways and Means Committee, which is leading this effort by the way, is calling the claims nonsense.
REP. JIMMY GOMEZ, (D) CALIFORNIA AND MEMBER OF WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: First, it's just nonsense. We are doing our oversight responsibility. We are independent co-equal branch of government and that's what we're doing is we're seeing if the laws are working and if the audits are taking place of this president's tax returns, nothing more. Whatever comes out of it, so be it. This is not presidential harassment. This is a check and balance that should have been there the last two years.
PAUL: So joining us now CNN White House Reporter, Sarah Westwood. Sarah, what is the White House saying about this. Good morning.
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi. The White House is making clear that they plan to fight tooth and nail against this request from the House Ways and Means Committee for six years worth of President Trump's tax returns. Trump's legal team has hired a law firm, Consovoy McCarthy Park to represent the president in this matter. That firm, already representing the president in a separate emoluments case. In a letter pushing back on this request Friday, President Trump's attorneys on the tax matter argued that this was an abuse of oversight responsibility from the ways and means committee. The lawyers wrote, in part, the requests are not consistent with
governing law, do not advance any proper legislative a purpose and threaten to interfere with the ordinary conduct of audits. In that letter, they argue this represents basically partisan harassment from democrats in Congress. Congressional republicans are pushing back on the activity of democrats arguing this is just partisan; they are doing this for political purposes, that there is no real reason they would need the president's tax returns.
Of course Trump's legal team has been preparing for this for months. They are making an argument based in part also on privacy concerns that President Trump is entitled to the same privacies when it comes to his tax returns as any American citizen.
Next up, the next step in the process could be the Treasury Department seeking opinions on how to handle this matter. That could involve the Department of Justice's office of legal counsel but clearly, Victor and Christi, the White House is prepared to take this fight as far as it needs to go, potentially all the way to the Supreme Court.
BLACKWELL: All right, Sarah Westwood for us in Washington. Sarah, thank you.
After democrats won the house, it was expected that they would try to get the president's tax returns and they are doing so under the provision of the tax code. Here is a bit of the history here. For this, we go all the way back to 1924 and the Teapot Dome scandal. Lawmakers then were concerned about the alleged bribery of officials by over leases of public oil fields.
PAUL: They're also looking into potential conflicts of interest involving Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon at the time who had private business interest while in office. That's why they the came up with this provision in the internal revenue code. Now the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee, as you heard, are authorized to request the president's or anyone's really, tax returns to conduct an investigation.
We have CNN contributor and national reporter for "The Washington Post," Wesley Lowery with us as well as CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson. Joey, thank you so much. Wesley, so good to have both of you here. Want to start with you, Joey. This is, this provision, this 6103 in the internal revenue code from 1924, it's never been used before in this context. Does it apply here?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Christi, good morning to you. Good morning to you, Wesley. Here is the reality. I think it certainly has direct application and here is why. Not only are you dealing with a law that suggests that -- not suggests pretty much gives the authority to Congress to act in this way. In addition to that, often we lawyers look not only to the law, but we look at what's called legislative intent. Not to get too lawyeristic here, but legislative intent is the very reason why a statute, a law is created in the first instance. As you and Victor laid out very clearly and explicitly in terms of why
we have this 1924 law. Why, because there was a view that there may be a conflict of interest as it relates to our people who are sitting in elective office at the highest levels. And so lo and behold, here we are today, looking at potentially the same issue. I think there are two things that are significant.
The first of course is that Congress has the ability to oversee and otherwise evaluate the executive branch. I get and understand they are co-equal branches of government, but the Congress has the authority to review and otherwise determine what is happening with the executive branch of government. That hasn't happened, of course, in prior years because republicans have had control.
Now the democrats do. They're looking to really act(ph) that function very closely and part of that function is that 1924 law, which gives them the authority for a proper, legitimate legislative purpose to analyze this. And I think that when you become President of the United States, having the ability for others to evaluate whether or not they are conflicts of interest is very salient and appropriate and therefore, I think, that they are acting within their legislative function in doing it. It's not presidential harassment, it's simply oversight and I do think they have the authority to do this, even though it ends up in the courts of course.
PAUL: OK, so you -- you mentioned Congress does have the authority to review this and that it hasn't been used before. Really, it probably hasn't been used before because other presidents, since Nixon...
PAUL: ... have all released their tax returns. With that said, Wesley, what do you think the president has to hide? Why is he fighting this so adamantly?
WESLEY LOWERY, "WASHINGTON POST" JOURNALIST: Certainly. Well I think there's any number of possibilities. Right? And I think - I think much like what we have gone through with the Mueller report, I think sometimes with Trump there has the tendency especially among folks in the left to assume the absolute worst when very often perhaps that's not true but it doesn't mean there's not something in there, right?
And so for example if President Trump, he - far before he was president and before he was a candidate, he was someone who had a documented history of deeply overstating his wealth. Something like a tax return would show additional detail of how much wealth he might actually have, what his business' holdings might actually look like, what debt he might have incurred. So again, someone who again there's a documented history of overstating and misstating their own assets, their own wealth, their level of debt, a tax return would provide some additional clarity.
Also the president is someone as a real estate developer, as a businessman who had a lot of overseas foreign entanglements. He was in the process of development deals across the country. Tax returns might provide additional information, shed additional light, about some of those relationships with foreign financiers, foreign governments which might raise additional questions about conflicts of interests now that he is the President of the United States and so you can image that a tax return for someone like Donald Trump is going to be remarkably complicated and complex document, not nearly as simple as my tax return might be or yours might be, and that it might raise all types of questions that lead to investigation after investigation to question after question but that also might cut to the mythology of Donald Trump.
It might show us very simply that Donald Trump is not as rich as he's told people he is and that might cut to the - the appeal of the successful businessman president which is something that a lot of his supporters cling to.
PAUL: So here's the thing Joey, there's been no response from the IRS, as of yet, or the Treasury Department in fact, for Wednesday's request from the Chairman. Last month, though, Secretary Mnuchin had said - he actually told Congress he would follow the law if the request was made. The request has been made. So is the Treasury now obligated to release this information? What happens from this point on?
JACKSON: Yes, I think certainly, the Treasury, like any other executive agency is entitled and otherwise compelled to follow the law. It's not going to be that like any other executive agency is entitled then otherwise compelled to follow the law, but it's not going to be that simple, obviously.
What's going to happen is it's going to trigger a legal battle. I think the Department of Justice will get involved. I think you'll have different legal -- legal opinions as to how to interpret this law. Is it excessive legislative oversight or is it something that is important in an investigation, not so much the political implications of is the president rich, is the president not as rich as he is, has he misstated his tax returns but are there legitimate conflicts of interest between the President of the United States and anything else that may be going on out there?
I think that there are certain things you forfeit as president and potentially, you know, transparency is one of them, right? You let everyone know what is going on so we know you're representing that office and not representing yourself. It will trigger the input of the Department of Justice. It will trigger a legal battle. It will go to the federal courts and low and behold it may end up at some place we talk about quite frequently and that's the United States Supreme Court.
PAUL: You know Wesley, yesterday, or last night, Phil Mudd said, "Listen, I've worked in government. I have always had to release information, in fact, on an annual basis." He said, "This is not a matter of law. Why are we talking about the law? This is a matter of ethics." To that, you say what? LOWERY: Certainly. And again, the president himself, before becoming
the president said he would do this. This is a basic norm that our democracy that our presidents release their tax returns so there's no suggestion of impropriety, so there's no question about conflict of interest and this is just something that the American voters have the right to know and should know. And in the case in which a president or any candidate because we are now in the midst of another election cycle does not want the voters to see what's in their tax returns, it in and of itself raises questions about if there is some type of either a conflict of interest or impropriety.
So I think it's pretty clear here that this is something the American voters historically had the right to see and the candidates have acknowledged they have the right or it's important to see these tax returns. The president himself basically said this and then kind of, you know, switched his story on it. I think it's not a legal battle, it seems. I mean obviously there's not a ton of precedent of having to use legal mechanisms here so perhaps there might be some back and forth.
The laws, as written, suggests that Congress has absolute power and right to ask for the documents and it's hard to see a real legal argument against them receiving Donald Trump's tax returns.
PAUL: All righty, Wesley Lowery, Joey Jackson, we appreciate both of you gentlemen. Thankyou.
LOWERY: Thank you Christi.
BLACKWELL: Threats have truths. A blunt message from President Trump during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. Coming up the facts behind the border fencing that President Trump claims is the first part of a 400 mile wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible).
PAUL: (voice over) Also, police released body cam video of a deadly standoff between a gunman and police in Georgia.
BLACKEWLL: And Rolling Stones Front man, Mick Jagger, says he is feeling better. Coming up the procedure he went through and what it means for their upcoming North American tour.
(ROLLING STONES MUSIC)
BLACKWELL: Seventeen minutes after the hour. President Trump is offering a blunt message to those looking to come to the United States, the system is full, go home. (BEGIN VIDEO)
TRUMP: Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. Can't take you anymore, I'M sorry. It can't happen so turn around. That's the way it is.
PAUL: During a trip with the U.S. border with Mexico, the president didn't mix fact with fiction while defending his immigration policies and CNN's Nick Watt breaks it down for us.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's message here in Calexico today was, the country is full, you can't come in, turn around and go back to where you came from and there is an emergency on the border right now. He said the apprehension of families trying to cross over has gone up by 400 percent and he is right on that.
He was also here to see this, which has been hailed by the Trump Administration as the first completed section of President Trump's wall. It's not quite what they say it is. This is, in fact, replacement fence that was earmarked for replacement back in 2009. The funding did come through in 2017 when President Trump was in office but it's a bit of a stretch to say this is the first part of his wall.
President Trump today said that they will have built 400 miles of wall in the next two years. Now, they have actually begun construction on President Trump's wall, but over in Texas in the Rio Grande valley, they began construction on the 13-mile stretch.
Now the protesters here, their message today was, we don't want a wall and please do not close the border, which is something President Trump has been threatening to do. This little town, Calexico in California really needs Mexico(ph) much bigger Mexican neighbor over there for the economy. They rely on people coming across here to shop in the stores. They say, without the Mexican border crossing, without people coming over, this town would die.
They say, yes, we have problems in this area, our problem is not the border our problems are unemployment. Our problems are health care and our problems are the environment. So, there were some people here to support President Trump, a few read hats sprinkled amongst the crowd but generally, people are saying, listen, we are two nations, but we are one community. We don't want your wall and we don't want you to close the border.
BLACKWELL: All right, Wesley Lowry is back with us. Wesley, I want to start, before we get to the wall, specifically, with what the border. The border.
Wesley Lowry is back with us.
Wesley, I want to start, before we get to the wall, specifically, what the president said that whether it's illegal immigration or asylum, our country is full, turn around and go home. Listen, republicans have supported the president's border wall, stayed silent during demonization of illegal immigrants and would-be assylees(ph). Do you expect they will stay silent on this turn around and go home message now?
LOWERY: I would expect they'll probably stay silent in the short term. What will be interesting as we get closer to an election cycle, the president himself, up for re-election, but then also some Congressional republicans, Senate republicans up for re-election as well? It will be interesting to see how other republicans triangulate around President Trump's increasingly hostile rhetoric to immigrants. How he's always used rhetoric like this but this is very similar to during the midterm elections where the GOP has attempted to push a much more nuanced argument that look this is about illegal immigration. This is about a crisis at the border. We're not saying we don't want brown people her. We're not saying we don't want any immigrants and the president comes through and napalms that message. He says, "No, stay out. We don't have enough room. Don't come here. We don't want you." It's going to be very interesting to see if the president continues to ramp up his rhetoric this way which the president has shown time and time again he believes this is effective political messaging even as many other republicans think this is the exact type of thing that drives our opposition and turns people off from us. There could - we could see as we approach 2020 more republicans coming out and getting in a clash with him.
In the short term though, it's - I wouldn't expect any, you know, big speeches condemning the president from members of his own party.
BLACKWELL: Does it matter that this is not a wall and it's a fence? It's not part of his wall system. This was something that was highlighted during the Obama Administration in 2009. Does it matter that you put a plaque on it, all of a sudden it's what you say it is? Outside of the base that believes just anything he says.
LOWERY: And well we could add, does it matter that Mexico didn't pay for it? The American taxpayers did. Right. Even if this were the beginning of Donald Trump's border wall, which it is not, Mexico didn't pay for it and he promised the American voters that is who was going to pay for the construction of the wall.
So there is a real question here. I do think that the president, I think one of the reasons he goes ahead and puts a plaque up like this and is ramping this rhetoric up is because he believes it is important as American voters get ready to back to the ballot box in a referendum on him and his presidency, he's delivered on his most important promise to his supporters, and that was the construction of this wall.
And so he's attempting to show his work a little bit even if he is coping the answers off someone sitting next to him. Again, the reality is this is a section of wall that was not new construction, rather was a repair. That repair was approved by President Obama, even if it wasn't yet funded. Mexico didn't pay for it, the American taxpayers did. But there will be a real question here, this is one of the underlying questions on every issue in 2020, are President Trump supporters willing to kind of look the other way to grade him on a curve or do they actually hold him to the promises they made them?
LOWERY: Because if they want to hold him to the construction of a border wall, the reality is there is not a border wall today. It has not been built and again, Mexico isn't the one paying for it.
BLACKWELL: Long term we saw the president do almost a 180, an about face on closing the border. The conversation from this seat last week was it could be days until the president shuts down the border or at least large parts of it.
This weekend, it's maybe a year, maybe longer. How does the -- the reversal from the president of if they don't get it under control, then tariffs, then maybe the wall, or closing the border impact potentially the argument that will come over the national emergency that we had to do something immediate because of the threat of drugs and crime coming through the border, of course, you know, the numbers support there isn't a huge criminal element coming in. How could one residually impact the other?
LOWERY: Certainly. So I think there again the president is trying to thread a needle here and there are two - one of two things are what's going to happen. The first is the president is trying to create support and create evidence for his primary argument. There is a crisis. There is an emergency at the border that he has to do something. This was the argument they employed for the national emergency to construct the wall. This was the argument they employed for the family separations. This is an argument they employed for the new asylum policy. They have to do something; this is a crisis, this is an emergency.
Now democrats, activists, most people who spent time really looking at the numbers know there's not a pending crisis even if there is a legitimate question to be had about people who are immigrating in the United States and whether or not there needs to be increased border security or measures, right? No one is questioning that. Is there a crisis? A much bigger question.
Now that said, as the president attempts to create this crisis, right, to show that it's important that he does something...
LOWERY: ...he does run the risk of undermining his own argument, right? If it was such an emergency a year ago and you did a thing, then undid it, then it was such an emergency six months ago and you said you were going to do something and didn't, it raises a question of burning his own credibility. And so again, when voters get to the ballot box, we'll see, do they believe him or has he undermined himself?
BLACKWELL: Or the government has to take this to court and a judge has to decide. Wesley Lowery, always good to have you. LOWERY: Anytime.
PAUL: Deployment reports showing Ethiopian airline pilots did everything Boeing instructed them to do and yet that plane crashed. Well next, there are changes Boeing is making in the production of 737s. We are talking to a former FAA safety inspector to see if he would be comfortable getting on that plane.
BLACKWELL: Plus a doctor and his girlfriend accused of drugging and raping women claim their rights to a fair trial have been violated. We'll talk about that with our legal analyst.
PAUL: So good to have you here, 30 minutes past the hour right now. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. A flight from Knoxville to Houston had to land in Dallas after a mechanical issue. Listen to the message here from the cockpit to the passengers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks we may be able to see, we lost two of our screens. Now if we kept flying we lose them all eventually.
BLACKWELL: The express jet airlines flight landed safely and the airline worked to rebook customers on the next available flight.
PAUL: Boeing is now cutting production of the 737 by ten jets per month as they're working to get the plane back in the air here. 737 Max jets were grounded last month after the deadly crash of an Ethiopians airline plane. Now the preliminary report on the crash shows the pilots did everything Boeing instructed them to do, but obviously, they still weren't able to stop that plane from crashing.
BLACKWELL: Police have released body cam video of a standoff in Georgia that ended with three people dead. A gunman, suspected of shooting two police officers took a pregnant woman and her 16-year-old son hostage. The standoff ended only after the gunman killed himself. Here is what happened after that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pull the armor, pull the armor. Pull the chain. (Inaudible). Pull the chain. You all come on.
BLACKWELL: (voice over) Here, you can see police breaking open the garage door. Once inside, the police discovered the woman and her son dead from gunshots. Again, the suspect had taken his own life. PAUL: A California surgeon and his girlfriend are claiming their
rights to a fair trial have been violated. You may remember this story, Grant Robicheaux and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, are accused of drugging and raping women. Prosecutors have claimed that there were more than a thousand videos of these alleged incidents. But now the district attorneys say, these videos don't exist and Robicheaux's attorney say all this has caused incredible damage to his clients. Robicheaux and Riley have pleaded not guilty. They firmly deny all of the allegations.
CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson back with us to talk about this one. Joey, this was one of those cases that when everybody heard about it they went, "What are you talking about?" Well a statement released, on behalf of the defendants here, the attorney for the two says this, "today, the district attorney's office conceded these videos do not exist. We've asked the court to require the prosecution to turn over its internal communications and order that we can determine why and how these devastating and erroneous statements were made and try to undo the incredible damage they caused."
With that said, the fact that these videos do not exist, does that -- does that compromise their right to a fair trial?
JACKSON: You know Christi, it certainly does. The issue is, what is done about it and so let's remember the context of this. The context is that the former district attorney in that jurisdiction made these inflammatory statements concerning and inflating the amount of videos that existed, right, in the context of a race. These are elected officials, right? And that's not something you can do. In fact, there are American Bar Association rules and other rules of ethical proportion that state you cannot make what are called extrajudicial statements, that is statements outside of the courtroom when they substantially impair the rights of the accused and subject them to what we call public condemnation.
Under those circumstances, people look, people listen. We have social media. We have media here, you and I speaking. The reality is, when that whenever that happens, it impairs your right to a fair trial. Now attorneys made a motion to dismiss that is the defense attorneys of the doctors have made a motion to dismiss the couple. The issue is whether or not it's granted. Remember if it is, that's not fair to the victims. There are multiple victims here, allegedly, at the hands of this couple who have been drugged and raped. Should because of a district attorney's statement, should we drop the charges to them?
And then of course the district attorney is saying that this case doesn't turn on videos, it turns on victims who have come forward bravely and relayed their stories and we can prove our case without videos. So there will be some remedy here. The issue is whether or not there will be a dismissal of the case. I doubt it will be that extreme.
PAUL: OK, so let's talk about what they have. The current D.A. of Orange County released this statement saying the videos were immaterial to the case is the verbiage they used. And they say because the charges were made based upon the statements and evidence collected, statements by seven women, evidence collected in the defendants residence and other corroborative information, so even though the D.A. claims other evidence, there are seven women who came forward.
[06:35:00] What are the chances Joey, that just because the D.A. may have had some misconduct there, that they would dismiss the charges outright?
JACKSON: You know Christi it raises a good point. Remember though, the judge has to take it seriously because the defendant does have a right to a fair trial. When you inflame the public and speak to the public and make statements that are not true, it becomes a problem. To the D.A.'s point, videos are not immaterial, they are very material. There's information, right, meaning material having significance on the case.
There's information that's more significant as they talk about which is the statements that are made by the victims, et cetera, and the other information and evidence they have. So at the end of the day, a judge has to balance the right of a defendant to have a fair trial and the right of the victims to get redress in court. I think that really ignores to the benefit of the victims but there needs to be some remedy and I certainly would suspect that the former D.A. would be disciplined in some way, but I don't see the charges as being dismissed.
PAUL: OK, real quickly, I want to ask you about the Jussie Smollett case because his says he will not be intimidated into paying the city of Chicago the $130,000 they want to reimburse them for the investigation. This city, the police now are saying they are going to bring a civil suit. We know the threshold for a civil suit is different than the threshold for a criminal suit. Here is the thing, if the charged have been dropped, Joey, all together, how potent is a civil suit?
JACKSON: You know it's a great question. Backing up a bit, what happens is generally speaking, there's something called restitution. Restitution is something that a defendant pays. For example, when a defendant in a criminal case transgresses the law, oftentimes as part of a plea, the district attorney will require restitution which is payback for anything that you have caused. As part of any type of deal, the district attorney could have required as a condition of the plea it be paid back. That didn't happen.
Now you have a letter that was sent out about a week ago by Rahm Emanuel saying, hey, you are paying. I don't see statutory authority for that in a law. Now the mayor did cite a whistleblower statute, that I don't think applies to this case which would suggest that a person has to pay back. I just don't think that's applicable here. You pointed to standard of proof, criminal trial, beyond the reasonable doubt, right, very high standard. Civil trial, preponderance of the evidence. Is it more likely than not that you did this?
And so it will be tested in a civil realm as to whether this occurs. The bigger problem is though, is that does the defendant at any time that they make a false report and there are resources expended do you have to pay that back? Is that a precedent that is going to be set in this jurisdiction and that's something that courts will have to ferret out but again, I don't see the statutory authority in that in the law that was cited by the mayor in asking for this money to be repaid.
PAUL: Joey Jackson, always grateful for your perspective. Thank you, sir.
JACKSON: Thank you Christi.
BLACKWELL: President Trump is vowing to fight a request for his personal tax returns and now claims there is no reason to close the southern border. We'll talk about that with a Trump 2020 board member - advisory board member, Madison Gesiotto up with us next.
BLACKWELL: President Trump is threatening to take the tax return to the Supreme Court just days after a top democrat formally requested six years of his returns. The president is fighting back, pushing a false narrative that he cannot release his taxes because they are under audit; truth is he can.
Meanwhile President Trump is pulling a 180 on shutting down the southern border first claiming he would close it this week, then giving Mexico a year warning and then finally saying he doesn't think he will ever have to close it. Let's discuss with Madison Gesiotto. She is a Trump 2020 advisory board member, political strategist and attorney. Good morning to you. Welcome back.
MADISON GESIOTTO, 2020 TRUMP ADVISORY MEMBER: Thank you, Victor. Good morning.
BLACKWELL: So let's start here with what the president said yesterday during this meeting in California. Let's watch.
TRUMP: Whether it's asylum, whether it's anything you want, illegal immigration, can't take you anymore. We can't take you. Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. Can't take you anymore, I'm sorry. Can't happen. So, turn around. That's the way it is.
BLACKWELL: Turn around, that's the way it is. Should the U.S. stop admitting potential asylees who believe they have a credible fear of injury or death?
GESIOTTO: I don't think this is about us stopping the admittance of these type of people but I think it's about us taking a hard, long look at our system and hopefully Congress doing that and fixing the problems that we have. Our system is absolutely overburdened. We heard so many border agents and judges and people over the past months talking about this. And so when we have tens of thousands of cases backlogged in the courts. Just recently we are seeing migrants go up and up and up; just in March, 100,000 we had at the border. Our system is not made to handle these numbers of people so we need to make sure that we build a more efficient system to be able to handle this and of course only admit the people that have valid, merited asylum claims. I mean when we look at the family unit...
BLACKWELL: Yes but he is not saying decrease the number. He is saying we can't take you anymore. I'm sorry, it can't happen. Turn around. That's the way it is.
GESIOTTO: Right, but what I...
BLACKWELL: You're making a nuance point, the president is not.
GESIOTTO: The reason why he is say that is because of the overburdened system. He's not saying we don't want people coming to our country. Of course we want to protect people with merited asylum claims. Of course we want good immigrants coming...
BLACKWELL: That's literally what he said. That's literally...
GESIOTTO: ... to this country.
BLACKWELL: Control room, play it again.
GESIOTTO: But you have to put it in the context Victor of what he's talking about.
BLACKWELL: Play it again.
GESIOTTO: He's not saying we don't want you because we don't want people coming to this country.
TRUMP: Whether it's asylum, whether it's anything you want, illegal immigration, can't take you anymore.
We can't take you. Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. Can't take you anymore, I'm sorry. Can't happen. So, turn around. That's the way it is.
BLACKWELL: You're making a nuanced point, right? The president is saying it doesn't matter what it is. Illegal immigration, asylum, sorry, can't take you. Go home.
GESIOTTO: Right, and he's referring specifically to that overburdened system. We need to address this overburdening of our system in order to be able to take people. We can't have a system that just possibly can't take one more person because there's no space. So we need to address that so that we can take the people. So right now, no, we're overburdened but this will be addressed and like I said, this is the thing Congress also needs to be addressing. When you even look at what we're seeing with family units coming, this has increased drastically because of our laws that need fixed...
BLACKWELL: So - so what's the plan?
GESIOTTO: (Inaudible) fake families have been apprehended...
BLACKWELL: What's the president's plan?
GESIOTTO: ... and we need to protect children. We need to protect people coming from all of these countries.
BLACKWELL: What is the president's plan?
GESIOTTO: The president's plan is to continue number one to work on the border and to work with Congress to find a solution to this.
BLACKWELL: Work on the border is very vague. What is the plan to deal with the numbers of people coming here to seek asylum?
GESIOTTO: Sure. Number one, continue to address the issue we have in regards to border security as he has been doing; he's been committed to this. He's committed to the safety and security of the American people. Number two...
BLACKWELL: How does border security compare with people coming to seek asylum? If they come to the port of entry, right, and the way in which the administration wants people to ...
GESIOTTO: Part of the problem...
BLACKWELL: ... request asylum that is not a border security issue.
GESIOTTO: Right, but what I'm explaining is part of the problem that we're facing with the overburdening of border patrol is the fact that our border is not secure. And so we have people coming across and that's burdening their resources, their time. These border patrol agents can't possibly do all of this. They don't have the time or resources; there's not enough of them. That's part of the problem here. Again, going back to the point I was making is for many, many years, we have republicans and democrats...
GESIOTTO: ... in the White House and Congress promising to address this and nothing got done. I really hope this is the turning point where we see something change and something get done. It doesn't matter whether people like the president or not. This is a crisis.
BLACKWELL: Well the president has made several promises this week in which he suggested he would close down the border and then he said he would go to tariffs in a year potentially and then close down the border. Let me ask you about the wall - that the president calls a wall - it's really a fence. How does what the president went to receive his plaque yesterday, qualify as what he promised during the campaign? GESIOTTO: Well, number one, he promised border security. He promised that the American people would be protected and the crisis on the border...
BLACKWELL: He promised a wall that Mexico would pay for. That was a fence that the U.S. taxpayers paid for that Barack Obama approved in 2009.
GESIOTTO: Yes, I'm going to be honest with you. Yes, Barak Obama did not approve this. He said that they were going to do this, but guess what; the funding came from President Trump's Administration. So it finally was funded. It doesn't matter where it started; I'm just glad that it's finished.
BLACKWELL: How did -- again, is this a wall? How does this qualify as a wall? Especially the wall that President Trump, as Candidate Trump promised during the campaign?
GESIOTTO: You know as far as I'm concerned, and many people across this country are concerned, we are concerned about border security whether you want to call it a fence, a wall, whatever you want to call it. President Trump says if you want to call it peaches, call it peaches, but it's protecting the people of this country. We want to continue to approve miles and miles across the border that have been contracted. We're waiting for funding on that and I mean when we see the drastic numbers I think that will result in terms of drugs going down when it comes to them coming across the border, people of this country being protected, it's going to be worth this.
BLACKWELL: But the majority of drugs that come into the country, come through the ports of entry, so.
GESIOTTO: That doesn't matter. There are a lot of drugs coming across at those points we don't want to see. I mean and again I've said this before on this program...
BLACKWELL: It does. All of it matters.
GESIOTTO: ... I'm from Ohio. People across the state have been most affected. They have been dying. I know people who passed away as a result of this. And so when we have fentanyl coming in in enough - you know across...
BLACKWELL: And a lot of that comes through the mail.
GESIOTTO: ... unprotected across the border. Right. Right, and we need to address all of these things. It's not a single issue. It's a multi-layered issue and part of that layer is addressing the fact that we have an unsecured border where enough is coming across to knock out a significant portion of our population. So we need to address that. I mean to say that we don't just because other drugs coming from other places is silly.
BLACKWELL: Madison Gesiotto, thanks so much. We'll be back.
GESIOTTO: Thanks. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLACKWELL: From 68 all the way down to the final 4. Two teams will punch the ticket to the national championship, tonight.
PAUL: And Andy Scholes is live in Minneapolis. Good morning, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. It's not a final four that really anyone predicted. Only .04 percent of people got this final four right in their brackets. But even though Zion, Williamson and Duke are not here in Minneapolis, we still got some great storylines for this final four.
Three of the four teams never won a national title. Texas Tech, Auburn and Virginia all looking for their first. Michigan State, meanwhile, they have won one. They won back in 2000 and Coach Tom Izzo has his Spartans back in the final four for the eighth time in his career and I got the chance to talk to Coach Izzo and the other three coaches yesterday at their practices. I asked them, what are they going to say to their players tonight ahead of the biggest game of their lives.
TOM IZZO, MICHIGAN STATE HEAD COACH: You've got like two hours, two hours to give everything you have for maybe 50, 60, 70 years of memories.
BRUCE PEARL, AUBURN HEAD COACH: Just focus on the process, not the end result. One of the things we have to do to be a great Virginia team, have poise to be able to handle moments, stay within the parameter of yourself and don't try to do too much because the stage is elevated and all the cameras on us.
TONY BENNETT, VIRGINIA HEAD COACH: I always say, once the ball is tipped, it's about the game, it's about possessions and I'm sure they walked here to the open practice, they saw that and enjoyed that. This will bond us for a lifetime, you know, and there will be so many memories.
CHRIS BEARD, TEXAS TECH HEAD COACH: Let's be the team that was picked from the bottom half of the big 12 and won the conference championship. Let's be the team no one really thought would make a run in the tournament. Here we are on the biggest stage. Let's just be us.
SCHOLES: And Virginia and Alburn are going to get things started tonight a little after 6:00 Eastern. That game will be followed by Texas Tech taking on Michigan State guys and luckily they play basketball indoors because it's pretty miserable out here in Minneapolis. It's in the 40's and as you can see, pouring rain. BLACKWELL: Well thank you for enduring all of that for us Andy Scholes. A rainy, cold Minneapolis.
PAUL: Thanks Andy.
BLACKWELL: On Sunday, watch the CNN original series, "Tricky Dick." here is a preview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have protesting Richard Nixon's stupid action of expanding the war in Southeast Asia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Nixon doesn't want peace. You are not going to tell me somebody escalates war if you want peace. He's just lying to the American people.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, you see these bums, you know, blowing up the campuses.
Listen, the boys that are on the college campuses today are the luckiest people in the world and here they are burning up the books, I mean storming around about this issue. I mean, you name it. Get rid of the war, there will be another one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't have the president of the United States alienating students, refer to students as bums.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The statement itself was a front to students, emotionally.
PAUL: CNN's original series airs tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN. "New Day" is back with you in just a moment.