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Bernie Sanders Set to Release Tax Returns; Trump Denies Plans to Restart Family Separations. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 9, 2019 - 16:30   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And Trump lashing out at a federal court ruling that the Trump administration cannot return asylum seekers to Mexico while they wait for their immigration case to be heard in court.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're being very strong on the border, but we're bucking a court system that never, ever rules for us.


PHILLIP: A senior administration official today had a lot of blame for career officials within the Department of Homeland Security, who this person blamed for some of the problems at the border, saying that they're not being tough enough.

But, notably, the president is actually replacing Kirstjen Nielsen with a career official. Kevin McAleenan served as the deputy CBP commissioner under President Obama. So he's coming into this job having served under a previous administration that is just one of those officials that the administration seems so upset with at the moment -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Abby Phillip, thanks so much.

One of the things that President Trump there was being asked to respond to, a senior administration official told me, multiple senior administration officials told me yesterday that President Trump wants to bring back the family separation policy. He actually wants to expand it, according to these officials, not just for individuals crossing the border illegally, but individuals seeking asylum, individuals apprehended within the continental U.S.

Listen to President Trump responding about this. He blamed the policy on President Obama.


TRUMP: President Obama had child separation. Take a look. The press knows it. You know it. We all know it. I didn't have -- I'm the one that stopped it. President Obama had

child separation.


TAPPER: Now, in point of fact, in the Obama administration, there was some family separation, but they were individual situations.

Trump's zero-tolerance policy for those crossing the border illegally started by Jeff Sessions, that made it a widespread problem that he later had to undo. But there was family separation, Jen, under Obama.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There was some. It was very limited. But it was not the policy under President Obama. And neither was it the policy under the Bush administration, because we made the decision, as presumably the Bush administration did as well, that it wasn't moral and it wasn't who we are as a country.

Now, you referenced the zero tolerance. What happened when President Obama was president was, if somebody was referred for criminal prosecution when they crossed the border, they could be separated from their family. There were cases when they may have been. There aren't numbers from that.

But there were family -- there were facilities to keep families together. That was the preference. And it was only 20 percent were referred for prosecution. So even the percentage was much smaller, and an even smaller percentage of that would have been possibly separated.

But it was not the policy. And that's an important distinction.

TAPPER: So, back to 2019, David, one of the things that's so interesting about the president talking about family separation policy is that he's cautioned by people in his administration, the outgoing homeland security secretary, the current HHS secretary, his communicators, don't bring this back, it's a disaster.

But he clearly believes that it's a deterrent. He clearly thinks it works. That's why, according to the senior administration officials, he wants to bring it back and expand it. Take a listen. You can hear the ambivalence within some of his comments.


TRUMP: Now, I will tell you something. Once you don't have it, that's why you see many more people coming. They're coming like it's a picnic, because let's go to Disneyland.

President Obama separated children. They had child separation. I was the one that changed it.


TAPPER: So, again, we already talked about the Obama thing, but you can see -- you can sense the ambivalence. He thinks it's a deterrent. DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think there's a great

deal of frustration on the president's part. The numbers -- I saw you tweeted out earlier today the numbers are dramatically different than they were in the Obama administration.

TAPPER: Huge crisis on the border.

URBAN: Huge crisis on the border.

TAPPER: Humanitarian crisis.

URBAN: Yes, humanitarian crisis.

And I think where I separate and take dispatch from the president is, I would kind of double down on the funding to Central -- to these countries. I have said this before. You know, we saw this happen in South America with Colombia, a narco state.

We implemented Plan Colombia. Turned the country around. I think we could do the same, and put some money there, work with the IDB, the OAS, and others to really help stem the flow of people coming this direction.

Those people are fleeing for a reason. We can build a wall. Just like drugs. We can eradicate them at the source or we can eradicate the demand. We should try to keep those folks in their own country.

TAPPER: So, one of the things that we're hearing, Ana Navarro, is Republicans expressing serious concerns about all of these vacancies at the Department of Homeland Security. Here's Senator Mitt Romney.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I must admit that I, I'm sure, like many people, deeply troubled about the vacancies at the Department of Homeland Security and the transition process that has been carried out with regards to those vacancies.

I think it's dangerous, dangerous, given what is happening at the border.


TAPPER: Not really much of a transition process, to be honest.

Kirstjen Nielsen was fired Sunday night and she -- her last day is tomorrow.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I share Mitt Romney's concern. And I, too, am troubled.

Part of me would like to do a little happy dance and start singing ding-dong, the witch is gone, because Kirstjen Nielsen was awful. She was the spokesperson and the face for a cruel policy, which was cruel, and she implemented it incompetently.


Any entry-level job seeker at Amazon could keep better track of widgets than what she was able to keep track of children. It was unconscionable and deplorable. And part of me is very happy she is gone.

But I, too, am concerned, because I have to ask myself, what finally drove her to say no to something that Trump asked? Just how bad or how illegal or how deplorable could what he is asking be that, after years of her defending the indefensible and implementing what should never have been implemented in such a cruel and an incompetent way, it finally broke her back, that camel's back?

So, yes, there is cause for concern, particularly because we're hearing that Stephen Miller is so involved now in the policy and in picking the replacements.

TAPPER: Mary Katherine, according to "The Washington Post," Republican Senator Chuck Grassley told the newspaper -- quote -- "He's pulling the rug out from the very people that are trying to help him accomplish his goal."

And then Kirstjen Nielsen, since nobody else is going to do it, I will try to defend her, which is...


NAVARRO: Oh, please don't start now.

TAPPER: I guess her argument would be, I tried to carry out the president's policy within the constraints of the law, and he often pushed for things that were against the law.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think, as usual, the president's sort of haphazard manner and total lack of strategy or thinking through these things from a policy level does handicap.

And I'm not as concerned about the higher levels, as I am about the actual people on the border who have to implement this, who are doing this day to day, and are under a tremendous surge here of people coming over and really do have a crisis on their hands.

One of my issues, of many, with the child separation policy is that it put all of this work on an already overcrowded system. And you therefore could not keep track of where people were, which is just, why do this? And I think it's because he thinks it's a deterrent. And while I understand that intellectually, that is not a moral policy and it does not allow for us to treat people the way they should be treated.

That being said, I do think there needs to be adjudication on the border and there needs to be a way to deal with this properly. And the conflict -- not only his haphazard nature, but the conflicting court orders, make it very confusing about what exactly can be done with families at this point. TAPPER: And the inability of Congress to come together to try to fix

some of these problems, also.

HAM: Yes. By the way, yes, they could just pass a law.


TAPPER: Well, yes, they are in charge of the law.

HAM: As usual.


NAVARRO: This problem is not going to go away. Politicizing it this way is making it even worse.


NAVARRO: We need a comprehensive approach, which, as David says, requires some foreign policy issues


NAVARRO: It requires addressing the root causes of the issue. It requires modernizing our immigration system to deal with some of these realities.


NAVARRO: But you know what? None of that is going to happen. And in the meantime, this guy can't be unilaterally figuring out how to interpret judicial settlements.

TAPPER: So, everyone, stick around.

We have got some breaking news in our 2020 lead coming from Bernie Sanders. That's next.

Plus, Democrats just did something that has not been done in decades, but will they pay a price for it in 2020?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Breaking news in our 2020 lead.

Bernie Sanders of Vermont acknowledging he is a millionaire in an interview with "The New York Times." And we will know even more about Sanders' wealth by Monday, which is when he said he will release 10 years' worth of tax returns.

Sanders is the front-runner in a Democratic field that just keeps growing. As CNN's Jessica Dean reports, another Democrat just entered the race

to make this the largest field of Democratic candidates in modern American history.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The crowded 2020 Democratic field has reached the voting age of 18. California Congressman Eric Swalwell starting his first full day as a presidential candidate, touting his credentials on national TV.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I bring experience. I'm 38 years old, but I have been on the Intelligence Committee. I know who our threats are from the outside. I know what the threats to the rule of law on the inside need.

DEAN: The 38-year-old four-term congressman made it official last night on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," saying the country is in quicksand and in need of bold leadership.

SWALWELL: I'm ready to solve these problems. I'm running for president of the United States.



SWALWELL: It's official.

DEAN: Swalwell's entry to the primary brings the number of Democratic candidates to 18, the largest field in decades, exceeding the 2016 Republican primary, when the sheer number of candidates fractured the GOP vote and allowed then-candidate Donald Trump to win many contests with pluralities.

TRUMP: So, I beat 17 great Republicans. I mean senators. I beat governors. And I respectfully say, I beat the Bush dynasty. OK?

DEAN: And the Democratic field is expected to growth, with at least a half-dozen hopefuls considering a run, including former Vice President Joe Biden, who sits atop the national primary polls.

JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am very close to making a decision to stand before you all relatively soon.

QUESTION: How relatively? Within weeks?

DEAN: But it's not just Biden. Other potential contenders include Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

STACEY ABRAMS (D), FORMER GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: My decision about running will be grounded in whether or not I think I'm the best person for the job at this moment.


DEAN: And he has promised for a while now, but, Jake, as you said, it sounds like we're finally going to see Senator Bernie Sanders' tax returns in the coming days.

[16:45:00] He told the New York Times in a new interview he is a millionaire. He credits that to his best-selling book, and that he plans to release ten years' worth of those tax returns by Monday, tax day. Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Oh my God, it's Monday tax day?

DEAN: I know. Reminder for everyone.

TAPPER: All right, thanks so much. I appreciate it. So he did say to the New York Times "I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire too."

He sounds like me.

TAPPER: He's repeatedly denounced, millionaires and billionaires. Does this does this change anything to you? Does this will change how voters view him? Let me go to the Democratic table.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this has been really weird that he has held back his tax returns because it seems like he's hiding something. So the fact that he made a lot of money on a book, I don't know I think his supporters will probably be fine with it. If there's something else that's weird in there like income from and other sources, I think that could be problematic. But if it's a book, I guess he had a successful book. People gave him $18 million so maybe it shouldn't be a huge surprise.

TAPPER: Let's go to you with your favorite question which is now the Democratic field is actually bigger than the Republican field. Last time Republicans had 17 candidates, there are now 18 Democrats in this race, at least five more still might jump in.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, to be fair, it's 17 Democrats and Bernie Sanders because he's back to being a Democrat this week.

TAPPER: Well, but he's running -- he's running for the Democratic nomination. He's the -- anyway, thank you, Ana. So what might that mean in terms of the dynamics, in terms of who might win the nomination?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely nothing can go wrong here. A party can only become richer and more congenial. No, look, I think a big field is cool for voters because they get to experience a lot of people. But I do think people can get a little overloaded which is why I think when you saw at the beginning the Republican primary, especially with this very unconventional character in Trump, nobody knew how to deal with him. He popped to the top of polling and that sort of snowballs.

Now in a Democratic primary, that's less problematic because there are fewer winner-take-all states. But I do think it matters that the Biden's are up there, that Buttigieg is making this early run towards the top, and that people like to sign up for a winner. So that's an early caution.

When it comes to Bernie Sanders, I'm glad he's released his taxes. People may find that he's a little less socialist in his own life than he would like the rest of us to be. And on the issue of socialism, I say, like I'm excited for him that he made some money on his book. That's my thing. You should -- you should keep that money. As for him though when it comes to him asking the rest of us on Socialism, you first, sir.

TAPPER: And you're --

NAVARRO: Maybe he's not a Democratic Socialist, maybe he's a Capitalist Socialist.

TAPPER: You have voted Republican in the past, you are not a fan of President Trump, your vote is -- your vote is theoretically up for grabs. Is there any -- is there any Democrat that you like?

NAVARRO: My vote is not up for grabs. I will vote for a potted cactus over Donald Trump. So I am begging Democrats because --

TAPPER: OK, for grabs in a Democratic primary though.

NAVARRO: OK, no, I'm not voting in a Democratic primary. I'm still a registered Republican and yes, I require therapy in all that. But anyways, look --

TAPPER: Is there anybody that you would like the Democrats to put up. Let me put it that way.

NAVARRO: Frankly, I'd rather somebody that's not a socialist. I would -- you know, I could enthusiastically support Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar. I mean you know, there's a Pete Buttigieg. I mean, I'm OK with any of them. I would like somebody that has no trouble in condemning Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and calling a dictator a dictator even if he's a left-wing dictator.

But you know, I think this Democratic primary is going to be fun. I think it's going to be a lot of enthusiasm. I think people are raring to go. You're seeing it in the numbers reflected in the fundraising results. It's millions and millions and millions to each of them. And I think it's going to drive Donald Trump crazy to have the spotlight smack on a bunch of Democrats running around saying things instead of on him while he's sitting at home you know, watching T.V.

TAPPER: How much -- how important do you think policy proposals are? I mean, I asked that because they were not particularly important for the Republican race in 2016. And here we have people who are kind of like talking in gauzy generalities like Beto O'Rourke and doing fairly well and people who are putting forward proposal after proposal like Elizabeth Warren not faring so well with fundraising or the polls.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, this is -- this is the no kind of cult of personality right. Like Mayor Pete is rocketed from anonymity to being Mayor Pete, right. He's got one name and you know heretofore unknown. And so nobody's read Mayor Pete's policy positions on much. I think he's very -- he's very quick-witted. He's a very affable guy. He's telegenic and he makes a good case for himself.

TAPPER: A fellow veteran like yourself.

URBAN: A fellow veteran, who serve in the military. He's a gay guy that likes chick-fil-a, right. I mean it's like one of these people who don't know what to do right? And Mayor Pete is a really affable candidate. And that's more important. I think likability is much more important than a twelve-inch stack of white papers that no one's going to read.

NAVARRO: But you know, also Mayor Pete -- and we call him Mayor Pete because a lot of us can't pronounce his last name.

TAPPER: Buttigieg, Buttigieg, Buttigieg.

[16:50:00] NAVARRO: He is not -- he's not tainted by Washington stench. He doesn't have any of those --

URBAN: He's also -- he's also unconventional as well. I mean, just by definition of how he's been running, he's unconventional.

TAPPER: I hate to bring up -- break up, two Republicans are saying nice things about Buttigieg. But I do have to let you guys know about this. Be sure to tune in to CNN tonight for a town hall with Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. My colleague and friend Erin Burnett will host the live event at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Kirsten Gillibrand, Erin Burnett, be sure to watch.

Breaking news in our "WORLD LEAD" now. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the political fight of his life. Polls have just closed in the very tight race in Israel and right now it seems it's just too close to call. CNN's Oren Liebermann is at Netanyahu headquarters in Tel Aviv.

And Oren, both Netanyahu, and his top challenger Benny Gantz they're claiming victory. Where do things stand right now?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Benny Gantz who claimed victory at first when the first poll came out showing that he had a four-state lead over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Crucially as more exit polls came out, and it looked to be a much closer race. The claim of victory has gone to Netanyahu in the celebration that was that his rival's headquarters is now right here behind me.

Netanyahu has said he has spoken to his natural coalition partners, his right-wing coalition partners, and he says he has secured their support. He has the path to a 61 seat coalition which means if that holds up and if the numbers play out here, he has secured his position potentially as the -- as the country's next prime minister securing a fifth record term, as well as becoming Israel's longest serving Prime Minister sometime this summer.

He is expected to speak here shortly. He will again emphasize that victory saying he has secured the support of the parties he needs to govern. We'll see how things play out over the next few days. Exit polls here are notoriously inaccurate. The concrete results are coming in and we'll see if the results shift. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv, Oren, thank you so much. A mystery surrounding thousands of women who all have one thing in common and now it's sparking something rare in Washington, a bipartisan push to solve the problem. Stay with us.


[16:55:00] TAPPER: In our "NATIONAL LEAD," Congress is focusing, finally, on a shocking statistic. Native American women in the United States are ten times more likely to be murdered than the rest of the population. That stunning revelation is according to one federal study. And as CNN's Scott McLean reports, it's driving a new effort on Capitol Hill to find out why and how thousands of Native American women have mysteriously been killed or have vanished.


TINA RUSSELL, NIECE DISAPPEARED IN 2009: This is right before she disappeared.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ten years ago, Alyssa McLemore called 911 and said she needed help. Moments later, the line went dead. No one's heard from her since. Police in Kent, Washington still have an open investigation, but clues are scarce.

RUSSELL: How do you move on? We can't -- I can't move on.

MCLEAN: The mystery of what happened to this Native American woman has tortured her family and there are countless other unsolved cases like this across the country.

RUSSELL: And then I want her picture to go on, this one, too.

MCLEAN: An invisible crisis, Native American women murdered or missing with few answers and little attention. In some places, Native American women are ten times more likely to be murdered than the rest of the population, according to one federally funded study. One estimate based on national crime data pegs the number of missing native women and girls at more than 5,700 in 2016 alone though reliable data is nearly impossible to come by.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): What are we missing here? What's happening with our Native women that they are being victimized to the extent and to the level that they are? MCLEAN: Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski is now pushing two bipartisan bills. One aims to improve data collection on missing and murdered native women.

ROXANNE WHITE, ACTIVIST: It hardly gets talked about.

MCLEAN: Activists like Roxanne White are trying to raise awareness of missing women like McElmore and her own cousin, Rosenda Strong who disappeared from the Yakima Reservation in Washington last October. Her family thinks she was killed, but there has still been no arrests.

WHITE: The tribes are like the wild, wild west and we essentially don't have any protection.

MCLEAN: Tribal police have declined to comment. Senator Murkowski say many women disappear from remote locations, some which lack even a single police officer. Other times, cases get lost in a confusing web of jurisdictional conflicts between tribal, local, and state police. She also worries that some victims are simply discounted by police because of their race or involvement in prostitution.

MURKOWSKI: Which makes no sense whatsoever. And it doesn't mean that we should give up or that the system should not work to investigate, to find out where that woman has gone.

MCLEAN: That is what the McLemore family happened to Alyssa. At 21, he was caring for a young daughter and a dying mother. A year before she disappeared, she was picked up for police for prostitution.

RUSSELL: I just kind of felt like they wrote her off as a prostitute and they probably think that you know, she didn't have family.

MCLEAN: And Kent Police say they don't discriminate. A new law may not help McLemore, but it might finally help solve the crisis of missing and murdered native women and bring some much-needed closure to their families.

RUSSELL: We're not going to stop looking for her. We're not going to say, give up.


MCLEAN: Now, those two bipartisan bills have a long way to go before becoming law, but Senator Murkowski's office says she is pushing to get them through the committee process as soon as possible.

Now, Washington State has already passed similar legislation that requires the State Patrol to not only count the number of native missing Native women across the state, but also to come up with solutions as to how to actually fix the problem. That report is due in June, Jake.

TAPPER: Excellent reporting, Scott. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.