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Rep. Ben Cline (D-VA) Discusses Barr's Testimony, if Trump Has Seen Mueller Report; Lori Loughlin Didn't Engage in Plea Agreements Talks in College Scandal; Rep Matt Cartwright (D-PA) Discusses Grilling A.G. Barr on Trump's Push to Overturn Obamacare; Did Trump Tip the Scales as Netanyahu's Rival Concedes the Election. Aired 1:30- 2p ET

Aired April 10, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] REP. BEN CLINE (R-VA): There's a question as to whether the attorney general is allowed to talk to White House attorneys or whether he's not. That's something that hasn't been answered for my -- for my questioning. But I do know that once the Mueller report has been issued, we will see it. I'm looking forward to seeing it as soon as possible with as few redactions as possible.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: So you'd -- so you don't know, at this point, if it would be OK, if it would be appropriate? Am I reading that right in your response?

CLINE: Well, I don't think any lawyer can tell you with specificity whether it's OK or not. I think it's a question that lawyers disagree on.

KEILAR: Is it appropriate, do you think?

CLINE: Well, I think that the president has said he hasn't seen the Mueller report. And I believe him. And I think that Barr is behaving appropriately in saying he's going to provide it to Congress first when he's done make those redactions.

KEILAR: All right. Congressman, thank you so much. Congressman Ben Cline, we really appreciate you joining us.

CLINE: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: Just in, we're learning more about what Actress Lori Loughlin is doing behind the scenes as she faces some new charges in the college admissions scandal.

Just in, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opponent just conceded the election. Did the president's involvement put Netanyahu over the edge?


[13:35:57] KEILAR: New developments in the college admissions cheating scandal. We just learned that Actress Lori Loughlin's attorneys never engaged in substantial plea discussions. That's according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation. However, negotiations could still take place. Loughlin and her husband are now facing money laundering charges. That's in addition to the mail and wire fraud charges that authorities had already filed against them.

Daniel Golden literally wrote this book on college admissions cheating. He is the author of "The Price of Admission." And he's joining us from Boston.

It's great to have you on again, Dan. We really appreciate your expertise on this topic.

And as you're keeping an eye on things, what do these additional charges against Loughlin and her husband say about how seriously authorities are taking all of this?

DANIEL GOLDEN, AUTHOR: Well, it certainly does show that they're taking it seriously, and they certainly should. I mean, you know, major crimes appear to be involved here, like bribery and money laundering. And this case has kind of shaken whatever confidence the nation had in the -- in the sanctity of the college admissions process.

KEILAR: And she and her husband, they could be facing serious prison time. Should these parents, including celebrities, be sent to prison for college admissions cheating, considering it seems as if their participation runs the spectrum from very involved and very duplicitous to just maybe a little less duplicitous. What do you think?

GOLDEN: Well, it seems that the penalties will probably reflect the level of involvement. You know, some of those who pleaded guilty were less involved than some of those who haven't and are probably looking at significant time. And, you know, I'd just say that people might be shocked by that, but on the other hand, poor people and minorities go to prison for much lesser offenses every day.

KEILAR: So the students here who played by the rules and did not get into the college of their choice because someone cheated and got in instead, they're never going to know if that was -- if they were edged out in a way by someone who did that. But is there -- is there anything they can do, is there anything that schools can do?

GOLDEN: Well, what we've seen from schools so far is that they've agreed to look at -- or started looking at the specific things at issue in this case. For example, the idea that kids who are put forward as recruited athletes will get admitted without anybody checking their credentials. So the schools are saying, yes, we're going to check their credentials. Or they're looking at the students who were admitted, to see if they were aware of what they're parents were doing and how they got in. But I don't see any kind of a movement toward really rethinking fundamental change about the preferences for the wealthy that underlie the admissions system. You know, sooner or later, I'd like to think that public pressure will force a more thorough reexamination of unfairness in the college admissions process. KEILAR: Yes. And your book is to that point. I mean, it outlines it

very well, "The Price of Admission" by Daniel Golden.

Dan, thanks for being with us.

GOLDEN: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

KEILAR: New today, the hush money investigation involving President Trump now involves two of the people closest to him.

[13:39:15] Plus, things get testy when Democrats push the attorney general for answers on the president's efforts to kill Obamacare. And Democratic Congressman Matt Cartwright is leading the charge. He'll be joining me, next.


KEILAR: Attorney General Bill Barr is facing questions on Capitol Hill for a second straight day. While most Democrat have zeroed in on the redaction process of the Mueller report, one congressman took aim at Barr's decision to urge federal courts to completely invalidate Obamacare.



REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT (D-PA): Let me be the one to inform you, should the law be struck down, millions of people who get their coverage through the ACA marketplace would lose their coverage and tens of millions more would see their premiums skyrocket. In addition, if you're successful, 12 million people nationally and 750,000 people in my home state of Pennsylvania, who have coverage under the Medicaid expansion, would also likely lose that coverage. Am I correct in that, sir?

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Do you think it's likely we are going to prevail?

CARTWRIGHT: If you prevail -- well, you're devoting scarce resources of your department toward that effort, are you not, Attorney General?

BARR: We're in litigation. We have to take a position.

CARTWRIGHT: The answer is yes.


BARR: We take position in litigation.

CARTWRIGHT: -- to invalidate it. If you succeed, that many people will lose their coverage nationally from Medicaid and 750,000 from Pennsylvania alone, right?

[13:45:07] BARR: I'm just saying that if you think it's such an outrageous position, you have nothing to worry about. Let the courts do their job.


KEILAR: That was Democratic Representative Matt Cartwright, of Pennsylvania, who is with us now.

Thank you for being with us today.

CARTWRIGHT: Nice to be with you, Brianna. How are you?

KEILAR: I'm doing well, sir.

So when you got that response from Barr yesterday, I mean, this was actually -- this was one of the more -- there were many interesting moments, but this was one of the more interesting moments of the hearing. What did you make of his response?

CARTWRIGHT: I was taken aback. I thought that was flip and a little bit smug. It also really calls into question how much he believes they're going to prevail in their position in the courts. They did win in the -- in the Texas Federal District Court, really with a hand- picked right-wing judge. But it goes to the Fifth Circuit next and it may end up in the Supreme Court of the United States. The way he answered that, it almost gave credence -- you know, there has been talk, unsubstantiated, but there has been talk that Attorney General Barr pushed back against taking that position against expanding their position for a full repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the courts. There was talk that he was against that and that he basically got pushed into that position. If that's true, that would be consistent with that kind of a flip answer that we got from him yesterday.

KEILAR: So -- well, CNN actually did substantiate that. A White House official and a source close to the White House told CNN that this debate that was going on internally in the Trump administration, you had Barr opposed, as you said, to the idea of scrapping Obamacare entirely by supporting the effort in the courts to deem it unconstitutional. Does that --


CARTWRIGHT: I heard that thought. That is kind of what I was thinking when I heard that.

KEILAR: And I wondered -- so when I heard his response to you, I was wondering, in light of that, does that give you any comfort in maybe the energy that the Justice Department is going to put into this?

CARTWRIGHT: Right. It gave me both pause and comfort, Brianna. It gave me pause because, as I went right to in the questioning, they're spending our federal tax dollars pushing that position. If he doesn't believe in it and he doesn't think it's going to win, why are we wasting money on that, other than to promote a campaign promise from the White House. But it also gave me comfort because, gosh, I worry about -- and this is true, we're straight up about this, Brianna. We care about the kitchen-table issues of everyday Americans. And there's 130 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions who may lose their coverage, who may end up paying immense premiums to get coverage that include their conditions. You worry about those people. When I hear that maybe the attorney general doesn't really mean to push it that hard, maybe he's just going through the motions, well, that's kind of a relief, isn't it?

KEILAR: Congressman, thank you for joining us to talk about this exchange you had with the attorney general.

CARTWRIGHT: Always a pleasure, Brianna. Have a good day.

KEILAR: You, too. Congressman Matt Cartwright.

Breaking news. The party of Benjamin Netanyahu's opponent has now conceded the election. Did President Trump tip the scales in Bibi's favor?


[13:53:07] KEILAR: Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have moved closer to cinching his fifth straight term as Israel's prime minister. Moments ago, the party of his former chief of staff and opponent, Benny Gantz, conceded the election.

Earlier today, President Trump preemptively sent his congratulations to Netanyahu.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact that Bibi won, I think, will see good action in terms of peace. Look, everyone said, and I never made it a promise, but everybody said you can't have peace in the Middle East with Israel and the Palestinians. I think we have a chance. And I think we have now a better chance with Bibi having won.


KEILAR: With me now is CNN global affairs analyst, Susan Glasser, and CNN correspondent, Oren Liebermann.

And tell us about this development, Oren. His opponent, his former army chief, conceding.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it came in a short statement to the press not only by the number-one person on this list, Benny Gantz, but also the number-two guy on the list. Both of them making short statements and not taking any questions. Benny Gantz said, "We are all Democratic and we all accept the decision of the nation. We all welcome and accept the decision of the president and we will abide by it."

He didn't openly concede, but what he's referring to is the process that now begins. Where parties will go to the president of Israel and recommend who they want to see as prime minister and then it is the president who announces who forms the next government and the next prime minister. Now that name all but certain now it is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, another member of the party who also spoke there, he said, "We didn't come here to concede the campaign of 2019. We came here to start the campaign of 2020."

A defiant tone as they realize they lost the election.

This was all as the results came in, and Netanyahu, though he was in a very tight race with his rival party, also had the bigger numbers and the clearer path to forming a coalition. And that is why the blue- and-white campaign of Benny Gantz conceded.

[13:55:05] We also earlier in the day found out that Netanyahu spoke with President Donald Trump, who called Netanyahu from Air Force One. Trump congratulated Netanyahu on that phone call. Netanyahu thanked Trump for what he's done for Israel, for recognition of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which was just a couple of weeks ago, as well as for the pressure he's put on Iran. That was, of course, a big part of the campaign for Netanyahu. And although it is difficult to estimate how many votes it won him, it certainly didn't hurt that Netanyahu was able to show his relationship with Trump as one of the big reasons to vote for him. And that is an image we saw many times over the last couple weeks, and certainly in the closing hours of the campaign.

So at this point, Netanyahu's rival conceding the election, all but granting victory. There is still a process here but it looks like that process ends with Prime Minister Netanyahu in a fifth term.

KEILAR: All right, Oren.

And, Susan, Oren is in Jerusalem but he has probably seen as much of certain members of the president's circle as we have. They blanketed Israel. The president has put so much support behind Netanyahu. How much of an impact do you think it had?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It is hard to tell. But the fusion between Team Trump and Team Netanyahu has been pretty extraordinary. It is not just that the president has taken certain actions. Prime Minister Netanyahu was literally campaigning with gigantic images of Donald Trump alongside him on the side of buildings in Tel Aviv. He ran an extraordinary commercial essentially as part of his re-election campaign saying, I disagreed with Barack Obama, and that I stood up to Obama, and that is part of why you should elect me. It is almost as if it's an extension of our deeply partisan in the United States and it was the Trump-Netanyahu ticket that was on the ballot in Israel in the last few days.

But also, it is noteworthy to say that Prime Minister Netanyahu not only expanding on his previous victory, right, so he will have potentially even a bigger margin in the Knesset, Israeli parliament, but also did so by pivoting right and by going even further toward a hard-core right-wing base. And that is significant for what comes next.

KEILAR: And part of that -- you could see in the campaign promises that he was making, right, annex the West Bank. If he moves forward with that, what does the U.S. do?

GLASSER: Well, it is very interesting. So you heard President Trump in those remarks suggesting there's still, he thinks, a chance for Israeli-Palestinian peace. They've been talking since the very beginning of the Trump administration about this peace plan that Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, has been working on. And now they say -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just testified on Capitol Hill and said it would be very soon now. We've been hearing four to six weeks for to be forthcoming for the last two years more or less. So now I think it is put-up or shut-up time on the Trump administration. Are they ever going to release this peace plan? If the answer is yes, I think we'll see something very soon from them. But they're strongly hinting it is not going to be along the lines of the two-state solution that the past previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have made that the foundation of our policy. Is the Trump administration now abandoning that?

KEILAR: That is a great question. I don't know if you have seen the cover of "Newsweek" but the freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is on it. This dives into her controversial comments about Israel. She has trafficked in some anti-Semitic tropes. Then you have other Democrats that have criticized of Israel. Politically, the president, and others have conflated all of this, calling Democrats anti-Jewish. And some of them are just anti-Netanyahu, right? So knowing that, that Netanyahu appears poised to grab this fifth term here, what do you think that is going to mean for things domestically here in the U.S. as the U.S. relates to Israel and also just this domestic debate over Israel?

GLASSER: Well, I'm glad you brought that up because it seems to me, just as that you see almost the fusion of Team Trump and Team Netanyahu in Israeli politics, the converse is true as well. I think you see President Trump and Republicans right now feeling that they have a potential domestic political issue to use in terms of Democratic increasing criticism of Israel. And as you pointed out, criticism of the Netanyahu government shouldn't be taken automatically as criticism of the state of Israel. But increasingly in our politics, it is. And of course, Democrats have to deal with outlier comment by some members of the freshman caucus --


KEILAR: Very visible members.

GLASSER: Incredible publicity given to a handful of freshman Democratic members is incredible. There are outliers in both parties and I think she's an outlier for now at least.

[14:00:05] KEILAR: Thank you so much, Susan Glasser. We really appreciate your perspective on this.

And that is it for me.