Return to Transcripts main page


Former Gov. John Kasich (R) Ohio Is Interviewed About His Take On The Candidates Who Are Going Up In The Polls And The Platform They're Running With; White House Plans To Send Detained Immigrants To Sanctuary Cities; White Men Lead Polls In Diverse 2020 Democratic Field; Former DNI Clapper On Trump Echoing A.G.'s "Spying" Claim; How New Abortion Battles Compare With Jim Crow Laws. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired April 11, 2019 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:00] (TOWN HALL)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Another presidential town hall in the books, Julian Castro. You saw his brother, the congressman there. They're twins, of course.

And now it's time for PRIME TIME 2.0. We're just getting started tonight. So, what do you say, my friends? Let's get after it.

He needed a big moment to break out of a crowded 2020 field. The question is, did Julian Castro do it tonight? Ninth place in a just out new Monmouth University poll of likely Iowa caucus goers. I know that's limited. We're 572 days out. But you need to break out at some point. Better to do it sooner, right?

Someone definitely on the rise in this new number is Pete Buttigieg, now in third place in Iowa behind only Biden and Sanders. Look, he's had a lot of shine from the media lately. People will tell you that it's earned. He is appealing to people all across the scope of his party, and now he's separated himself. He is now in the conversation.

What does he do with it? How does he sustain? Let's talk about it. Former 2016 GOP candidate Governor John Kasich, Governor, thank you for joining us as always.


CUOMO: All right. So, let's put up these poll numbers again that I was just talking about and show people the current standings. The big surprise in this poll has to be Mayor Pete.

He is now really entered the main fray. I know you can look at the numbers and say well 9 percent so, what? But he has separated himself from a huge bunch of people that we need to learn about in order for them to be relevant. What's your take?

KASICH: Well, Chris, I've been hearing this for week, and I hear it from Democrats and I hear it from Republicans. And they seem to really like him, that he's -- the way he comes across, he comes across as a really smart guy, an experienced guy. He's very honest. He's direct. You know, the guy speaks seven languages. He is a veteran. I mean, all these things have really worked in his favor. But of

course, it's very early. What I would say, Chris, is what my observation is. The person whose lost because of the shine on Mayor Pete I think has been Beto.


KASICH: I think they're kind of vying for the same folks. And it's -- you know, Beto is still hanging in there. Don't take anything away from him. But this has been a good time for the mayor.

CUOMO: If you're on team Trump, and you're looking at this roster, who are you worried about?

KASICH: Biden.

CUOMO: Anybody else?

KASICH: I'm worried -- I'm worried -- really worried -- well, it's too early, but you know Joe, he casts that long shadow. And it looks like he took a pounding here over the last couple of weeks, but the polls don't indicate that it's taken a toll on him. You might say why.

Well, for those that know Joe Biden, Joe hugs everybody. It's just the way he is. He is just a very, you know, he is a, just slap you on the back, kind of give you a hug kind of a guy. And I think that these charges that some argue came from Bernie's campaign, I can't prove it, I don't know, but that's the rumor, people just, they just didn't think that was the Joe Biden that they knew. They just thought -- they just didn't accept it.

And so, I think he's weathered that. Now, we know, Chris, of course he is older. But you know, age is changing. The way we look at people today is much different than it was 10 years ago.

So, I think that Biden is very formidable. And the other thing is, Chris you know this country. You know where the people are. The people are basically center right and center left. They're not on the extremes.

CUOMO: Right.

KASICH: And Biden is able to get himself in to that slot.

CUOMO: Right.

KASICH: And we'll see. You know, Klobuchar is still doing well. Obviously, Harris, Senator Harris is doing well --


CUOMO: Yes, I mean, you got 572 days.

KASICH: -- of raising money.

CUOMO: It's just interesting to see who is separating, who isn't and why, because you have feeling of what metrics and what issues are going to matter. So, I have two of those. Two issues that seem to be resonating, at least at this point.

Medicare for All, and what the Green New Deal means, at least on the Democrats' side.

Here is Medicare for All. Let's look at these numbers, very important, 49 percent, all right? Now, as you know as issues go, that's pretty good once you get away from a direct pocketbook issue. Somewhat important, 33. Not important.

[23:04:59] So, not important, not sure is less than 20 percent. So, you know the issue is relevant. What does that mean to you in terms of how to negotiate what this issue is?

KASICH: Health care is a giant issue, Chris. It was the reason why the midterms swung to the Democrats. People are very worried about it. I'm not sure there is support of Medicare for All translates into health care. I think it's health care and then people have their ideas.

I was on Capitol Hill I guess about a week, 10 days ago, and the Democrats that I talked to, I talked to a lot of them, they come over, they shake my hand. We always have a nice chat; they are realizing that they have to moderate.

And you're beginning to see these candidates, sort of distance themselves from the New Green Deal or distance themselves from Medicare for All because Medicare for All means you might lose your private health insurance, it may shut it down. You may lose your doctor.

I don't think people are in a mood or in a mode, and you tell me what you think. But my sense is they want to make sure they have their health care. They don't want it to be ripped apart. They want to be able to get insured if they have preexisting conditions or any of their loved ones or friends.

But the idea that we're going to do major changes to it right now I think makes people very concerned and very nervous. So, patching up Obamacare, reforming it, and reforming the whole health care system makes some sense.

But when you get into let's just do away with this, let's get rid of private insurance and all that, I think it frightens people. And I don't -- you're beginning to see the candidates move away from Medicare for All.


KASICH: In terms of the Green New Deal, look, we're --


CUOMO: Let's look at the numbers. Let's look at the numbers, Gov.

KASICH: Yes, go ahead.

CUOMO: Here is the Green New Deal. Now not the same resonance, obviously that health care gets. But, you know, 72 percent very or somewhat important among Democrats, obviously. Not important, not sure. Again, a little higher than it was, about 20 percent with health care, this is about closer to 30 percent. Not important at all. So how do you play on this?

KASICH: People are concerned about the environment. And if you are a Democrat, you, Look, everybody ought to be concerned about the environment, but the Democrats got on that issue first.

And so, I think what you're going to see is you're going see more and more Republicans beginning to talk positively about things that can be done to affect the environment and to be aware of the problem of climate change. I think you will see Republicans -- you're not going to see many climate deniers. I think that's going change for Republicans.

For Democrats, how far do you want to go? New Green Deal is way beyond just what we're going do about cap and trade or a carbon tax. It's going to restructures the entire federal government and centralizes power in Washington.

That's the problem with Medicare for All. It's a centralization of power in the government at a time when really, you know, the answers to this is more transparency, more competition, more openness. So, we know what we pay for.

Chris, think about this for a second. Health care is about the only thing where we go and get treated by somebody, we don't know how well they do, we think they're good, but we don't really know. We don't know what things cost because we're afraid to ask.

If you go Starbucks, you know what the small coffee, the medium, the large, you know what all these fancy drinks are, and you know how they taste. With health care, we're sort of flying blind. And so, the answer to that longer term is transparency so that we as consumers can make intelligent decisions in a more competitive environment.

CUOMO: Right.

KASICH: That's where Medicare for All I think falls short, and the New Green Deal, yes, we're for the environment. We need to do things, we need to do it quickly, but let's not be extreme.

CUOMO: I think the big sell on health care is going to be who has the best plan to control costs, because people are learning more now --


KASICH: Yes. Well --

CUOMO: -- that what seems so wild, they're matching their mortgage with their health care costs. But governor, thank you so much --


CUOMO: -- for outlining the prescription drugs.

KASICH: Prescription drugs. Prescription drugs cost as well, Chris.


CUOMO: And we'll see whose got a deal on it versus just throwing out a label. The governor was very good at this when he was in office.

KASICH: You got it.

CUOMO: Thank you very much. I'll be leaning on you heavy --

KASICH: All right.

CUOMO: -- in the 572 days to come. Governor Kasich, be well.

KASICH: All right, Chris, thank you.

CUOMO: All right. New tonight, we're learning about a White House plan. Listen to this, to target the release of detained immigrants by sending them into certain cities. Which cities? Why? That's the real story. I've got some of the sharpest minds in the business to help dissect this craziness, next.


CUOMO: File this under you cannot make it up. The Trump White House had a plan for detained immigrants. Here is the White House's plan. Use them for revenge.

A source tells CNN the president pressured the Homeland Security -- Homeland Security secretary to release immigrants into sanctuary cities. Why? To retaliate against Democrats who oppose his border wall. Secretary Nielsen supposedly resisted.

We've got some top-notch political minds here tonight. Frank Bruni, Errol Louis, and Laura Barron-Lopez.

Laura, welcome to PRIME TIME. It's good to have you all here, fellows. First, does anybody not believe this story? Silence. OK. So --



CUOMO: Go ahead, Lopez, you go first.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes, I'll go first. It's believable. Again, this fits with Trump's efforts as well as Stephen Miller's to try to push the envelope as much as they possibly can when it comes to immigration. Trump wants to make the entire 2020 campaign about this. And if he could go unchecked, would enact proposals such as this. But again, we saw that he met resistance, and even though they

repeatedly pushed this out there, they weren't able to get their way. But this again illustrates that Trump wants to use immigration as a political tool against his opponents as opposed to trying to work with Democrats to come up with some comprehensive immigration reform to actually address the issue at hand.

[23:14:58] CUOMO: Now, if you can get past, Errol, the obvious dehumanizing aspect of this, that you're using them basically as chits, there is a little bit of an evil genius at work here. You take the people that you can't hold, right, which is part of the problem.

Really, they just should be expanding their potential to accommodate, and then you dump them in the cities where you want to show that there is a problem with too many people, and then you can go back and round them up and blame the city and hope that the overflow in the city hurts your opponents.

ERROL LOUIS, HOST, YOU DECIDE WITH ERROL LOUIS PODCAST: Yes, it's twisted. It's a good thing they didn't try to implement this, Chris, honestly. Even if they had even a glimmer of good faith about it, if they were to propose this either on the border or in towns that they don't like for obvious malicious political reasons, if it came with some money, there are any number of jurisdictions that would probably take them up on it.

In other words, if you actually want to solve the problem, you get an entirely different approach to all of this, and it would probably save a lot of money too and a loft heartache. But that doesn't seem to be what the agenda of this White House is when it comes to this particular question.

CUOMO: Making a couple of quick calls, Frank, the sell on it was from the White House's side, the president's side of espousing this, hey, look, you guys say you want them in the sanctuary cities, here they are.

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And lo and behold, aren't we shock to find out that Stephen Miller was a big person behind this and promoting it. I mean, I think you have to see this one is a measure of how frustrated President Trump is about the border and immigration, how he has been unable to deliver on any of the promise -- of any of the promises he made when he was campaigning.

I'm also just fascinated by how many examples we have now, especially with immigration, but with other things too. A federal agencies and departments saying to the White House, saying to President Trump, that is beyond the pale, and you just can't do that.

Thank God that's happening, but it really tells you how far President Trump and the White House officials around him are willing to push things, and how really morally grotesque they're willing to be at times.

CUOMO: And you know, Lopez, to push back on the idea that, the president never said that he wanted to separate people, again, he never said that he liked that message of harshness, but he liked this, right?


CUOMO: You know what I'm saying? It's completely hand in glove in terms of what I call on the show the brown menace. That's the way the president wants to cast people who are coming to this country south of the border. They're the murderers, the bad. They're coming here to hurt you.

That's why he can't show you the faces of the kids, Lopez. If he shows you the kids and the families, he can't say look at this poor kid, build a wall. It doesn't work. He's got to use the scary ones.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes, I mean, he's done this since day one when he launched his campaign for 2016, saying that the Mexicans coming across the border were rapists and criminals. So, this isn't new with President Trump.

This is something that he tried to do again in the lead-up to 2018. It was all about immigration for him, even though Republicans wanted to kind of steer away from that, because they knew down on the ground everyone was concerned about health care. And, again, he pushed this, even putting out what was considered a widely racist ad in the days leading up to the election, and it didn't work in 2018. Democrats flipped the House.

CUOMO: Now here what's I don't get, Errol, where are the Democrats on this? I see nothing but opportunity. Only a few of them have even gone down to the border to check out what's going on.

Why aren't they seizing advantage here and saying we'll fix this. We're going help. We're going bang on the president to use his emergency declaration to help provide these resources for CBP. We're going to do our own thing. Why aren't they even talking about this?

LOUIS: Well, it would be nice, actually. But I think there is a broader conversation. You are starting to hear some of it. I heard it tonight, Chris, many the form of Julian Castro talking about a Marshall plan for Central America and Latin America.

The problem has to be dealt with in the right way, in the right place with the right resources. Right now, we don't even have -- we don't have an ambassador to Honduras, which is sending so many of the people here. We don't have a nominee to be the next ambassador to Honduras. That is negligent. That is shameful negligence.

If the Democrats want to be serious, they should propose and develop sort of a comprehensive plan to deal with the factors that have led to so much of the instability. In Central America and talk about an aid plan, maybe even whip together an aid plan, try to push it through Congress, try and actually address the problem. I mean more grandstanding at the border, Yes, I guess it could work.


CUOMO: I'm not just grandstanding, I'm with you, macro. Your point works, macro, I get it. But Frank, I'm talking about micro. You know, you went down there. What is it, compassion fatigue? You know, 2014, we all ran down there with the unaccompanied minors. The first wave of the separation of kids, the Democrats all ran down there. What, does some polling show them that this isn't a winning issue for them?

BRUNI: I think they're worried about this. I think they're not sure what the politics about of this issue is going to be and how that's going to play out. I think that's why you hear them talking about it with much less specificity and much less frequency than they do, Medicare for All, or the Green New Deal, that sort of thing.

[23:19:58] I think that's going have to change between now and 2020 because President Trump is going to talk about it and talk about it and talk about it, and just kind of not responding or responding with generalities is not going to -- is not going to cut it for Democrats, as we get closer and closer to November 2020.

CUOMO: And there is space. Because, you know, we'll see. If it's McAleenan who winds up being -- McAleenan who winds up being the DHS secretary, and it looks like it will be, the current commissioner of CBP, he knows that you're not away from a fence away from a fix on this situation?

Physical borders help with certain types of deterrents and funneling and allowing them to apportion resources differently, but he is all about his manpower, the judges, the caseworkers, the accommodations. There are so many ideas this president ignores because they're not part of the metric for him.

And the Democrats have opportunity. They're not taking it. Very interesting to me. We'll see how it sets up, coming up into the election.

You guys are great. Do me a favor. Will you stick around? It turns out I have no other friends. No, I want to talk to you about what happened tonight. Julian Castro as Frank was saying and Errol was saying he reacted to the news of this sanctuary city revenge plan, let's call it at the town hall.

He also had a plan of his own to deal with this at its source, but he took time to say that the cruelty of this administration never seems to end. That's an interesting word. Strength, the way the president sells and the way his base sees it or cruelty. And if there are enough people who see it the way as cruelty, is there advantage to be had in that in the next election? Right back.


CUOMO: All right. Politics you have campaigns that are about qualitative and quantitative aspects. I want to start with the qualitative one.

We have Frank Bruni, Errol Louis and Laura Barron-Lopez. Laura, we were talking about before we went to break, cruelty. To the president's base, it's strength, that harshness plays as strength, being firm, rule of law, left is weak, left is soft. Is there space for the argument that you are articulating a little bit

in the first segment of compassionate, sweet strength and how we look at these people? What Julian Castro was saying in large doses tonight in the town hall. Is there space for that to develop a following?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I think there is. I mean, we're hearing that from more candidates than just Julian. But it's something that he is definitely trying to play up in his response to the president's immigration playbook and response to the president trying to stoke fear among his base.

And so, I think we're going see more of that. He was talking a lot about the cruelty. That was kind of the buzzword that he was using, as well as talking about the compassion that he wants to have in dealing with the situation at the border.

He also brought up his background. He is of Mexican -- he is Mexican- American, of Mexican descent. And so, he talked about his grandmother, which could really help him connect with voters, specifically Latinos who were seen are on track to become the biggest nonwhite ethnic group heading into the 2020 election.

CUOMO: Errol, I think the president said his father is from Mexico, didn't he? Let me ask you something. There is no opposite word that we use from demagogue, right? And part that of is because the negative sells. Harsh sells. Anger sells. Fear sells. Where does that come out in terms of this issue of immigration and how Democrats can play it to advantage?

LOUIS: Well, look, the reality is there are a lot of people. And we saw this when the child separation policy was first unveiled. And you saw it as well with the Muslim ban there is a lot of anger out there. There is a lot of passion out there. And it's not just at the border. There are a lot of Democrats who are really deeply offended by a lot of the policies that this White House has attempted or enacted.

And so, you know, to be in touch with the Democratic base, I think you're going to have to be a candidate who shows that you get it, that you reflect it. That you don't just use a word like cruelty, but that you show some passion behind it. And I thought in the town hall tonight, that was striking with Julian Castro.

He's got some interesting policy ideas. He's the first to unveil a real immigration platform of the Democratic candidates. He is the only Latino. He's got a lot going for him on these issues. What I wasn't getting from him, though, was sort of the heat, the passion, the anger, at least the sense that he's able to touch it.

Even if he doesn't necessarily want to generate much of it himself, there is a lot of that on the ground. And I think he is going to see a lot more of that among the Democratic base.

CUOMO: A fair point. To Errol's point about where he is going to rank right now, Frank, let's turn to the poll numbers. We have two sets to look at. We have who's likely to be in the Iowa caucuses and how they rank people, and then we also have New Hampshire. So here is Iowa, likely caucus goers. Three white guys at the top

still. Now why do I say it that way? Because the party supposedly, and I'm sure you guys hear this as well. The big brains within the Democratic Party say we're brown and we're young. That's where this party is headed and we're going to get there first. What do those poll numbers suggest, Frank?

BRUNI: I think we're reading too much into them for now. I think if we talk again in two months and four months, the poll numbers are going to look a lot different.

If we had been talking about this a month ago, Pete Buttigieg would not be, you know, in the foreground of the conversation, a lot has changed for him in one month, and I think a lot could change for another candidate in one month. So, I think it's really, really early.

But when we're talking about Julian Castro, and tonight he is looking for a breakout moment. He was looking for one last night. He had a rally in San Antonio to sort of counter president's visit there. It didn't really break through the way something similar had for Beto O'Rourke.

[23:30:05] And I think Errol really kind of hit the nail on the head. Julio (ph) has some very interesting things to say. He is using some of the right words. I think cruelty is a great word to land on.

But there is something about the way he was doing it. He didn't say to you I have an animating passion to be president. He didn't tell you why in a field of 18 and to go up you should choose him over anyone else. I think that's something that each one of these candidates has to be able to do, to be able to talk to you in a way that you say wait a second, maybe that person above all the others, because there is a lot of options here.

CUOMO: Also, it's about who the media is loving in the moment. Also, early on in the polls like this, you know, you say Beto. Beto who? Now, you got to use both of his names. You may have to go back calling him Robert because he is stuck in the middle of the pack.

Laura, let's look at the New Hampshire polls. You know, give you a similar picture. You know, Buttigieg has like this. You know, for him to be consistent three in two different polls, again, media love. Media love matters, especially in these early polls. What's your take?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. I agree with Frank. I think that in a month, we could see Harris where Buttigieg is at or Warren where Buttigieg is at. But there is something that he's latched on to. I mean, he has made movement for a reason, right?

It's because he's young. He seems to be charismatic and voters are responding to that. They like what he's talking about, although again, he's talking in broad terms, the way Beto was as well, the way Biden does to a degree. He hasn't really drilled down on policy the way Warren or the way Harris and Booker have.

So, again, we'll have to see how long this lasts. In states like Nevada and like Texas where candidates like Castro may be able to find a breakout moment in those states, Buttigieg may not play as well.

CUOMO: Errol, what are you seeing as a differentiator? Give it to me quick.

LOUIS: Buttigieg? I mean, as a differentiator, he has got interesting ideas. He wants to expand the size of the Supreme Court. He is one of only a handful of executives who are in the race. And so as a guy who has been a mayor of a fairly diversity in some ways, he's kind of got some insight into managerial issues that the senators in the race really can't claim. I think that's going to be one of his distinctions that he is going to be pushing a lot in the near future.

CUOMO: It's also good that one thing that you never know how it's going to play, but it's a nice intangible, not easy to dislike. Not easy to dislike. That's something that we often don't put enough value on in politics, you know, because that's what people are looking for when they're figuring out how to size you up. What's this person's weakness? How do we get at her? How do we get at him? He is not so easy unless you want the play to stereotypes.

All right, thank you very much for being with me tonight. I appreciate it. Laura, welcome to the show. It is good to have you.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, stunning and scary. That is how a former director of National Intelligence describes the attorney general's new claim of FBI spying on the Trump campaign. Tonight, Jim Clapper tells me what he thought when he heard the president double down on that extraordinary claim, next.


CUOMO: The attorney general going all in on spying. Certainly sits well with his boss. But how's it going to square with the men and women still actively trying to stop Russian interference who work for him? Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is worried about that and brings invaluable experience to this conversation. Director, thank you for joining me.


CUOMO: First, out of the box, are you surprised by what A.G. Barr said this week?

CLAPPER: Yes, Chris, and I assume you're referring to his spying remark.

CUOMO: Yeah -- yes, to start with, but just in general, do his words and his stated intentions surprised you, given what he did the last time he was A.G.?

CLAPPER: Well, I can't -- you know, I don't remember much about when he actually served as A.G. What I was contrasting, his commentary at the testimony versus his confirmation hearing.

CUOMO: Right.

CLAPPER: Which I watched a good part of, and frankly, was impressed. You know, he has done this before. It struck me when I watched the confirmation hearing that he wasn't in this for some further ambition or using this as a stepping stone opportunity, but just to serve. And I figured that he would be more concerned, focused on the rule of law and perhaps his legacy.

CUOMO: Especially when that's his stated intention with how he is releasing the Mueller report. And if you're going to be by the book guy, why would you start any kind of working group or any kind of investigation into something that your I.G. is looking at the same time? That's certainly not by the book. But it seems to be the spying that gets everybody. Why?

CLAPPER: Well, it does. Certainly for someone like me, I've always had an aversion to that term. I always cringed any time I was referred to as the head spy. The word "spy" has a lot of negative baggage with it, negative connotations. It smacks of illegality without oversight or supervision.

And what bothers me about this, first I thought he's kind of indicting his own people in the Department of Justice and the FBI, which of course is a part of the Department of Justice and gratuitously so.

[23:40:01] There is already an ongoing investigation by the inspector general who is known as independent and a critic. And so it would have been to me a lot more appropriate had he simply said I'm going to await the outcome of the investigation that was started before I became attorney general.

Moreover, you know, it isn't like he just got off the turnip truck yesterday. He has already been the attorney general. So he doesn't wander in the headquarters of the Department of Justice say gee, what's this outfit do? He already knew that.

So if this is a concern of his, that's something he could have asked about the first day or first week and gotten a preliminary or a briefing from the inspector general about what his preliminary findings were, rather than I thought kind of throwing actually the entire Intelligence Community under the bus.

The other point I would make, Chris, is all of this causes us to lose sight of what I think is the primary concern and what started all this was the Russian meddling.

And so what we were seeing at the time contemporaneously in addition to gaining more and more insight as time went on through the summer and fall of 2016 about the magnitude of what the Russians were doing to interfere in our political process is the interactions, the numerous meetings from members of the Trump camp with Russians.

Russia is our arch adversary. They are bent on undermining us. And we've lost sight of that with all this focus on spying on the campaign, which wasn't the case at all. This suggested to me or reminded me of the president's absurd allegation about the Obama administration surveilling Trump Tower.

CUOMO: Well, this fuels it, by the way.

CLAPPER: Oh, exactly.

CUOMO: One of the biggest points of feedback I've gotten here and on my Sirius XM radio show is, you know, I told you they spied on us. The president was right. They wiretapped him. Everybody laughed. But now, see, it is true. Barr just said it.


CUOMO: He is opening up the FISA application and showing why they looked at Carter Page and what it was based on and why they allowed the follow-ups. What do you think about the sanitizing light of transparency there?

CLAPPER: Well, you know, as an intel guy, you know, I was not comfortable, I'll put that it way, with the even releasing the redacted version of the FISA authorization request for the surveillance of Carter Page. And by the way, that was like the fourth one for Carter Page. He was known to the FBI, was on their radar scope since, I think, about 2013, preceding the campaign.

So, I personally didn't see anything improper about the FISA authorization given its redactions. I certainly didn't know about it contemporaneously, nor should I have. And the other point I would make is the FISA court has some very smart, capable experienced judges and has a superb staff.

So the notion that somehow the FBI was putting one over the FISA court is kind of ridiculous based on my experience and knowledge of how the FISA court operates.

CUOMO: Jim, let's leave it there. Always appreciate having you, director. Your insight is invaluable.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: All right. Be well. So Republicans are waging a new fight. This time, it's abortion. And it is not going on in the Supreme Court. It's about taking it to the states. And this is not the standard debate. I believe what we're seeing happening now in different parts of the country is almost reminiscent of Jim Crow laws. What does that mean? We're going to test it in the great debate, next.


CUOMO: Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. People don't like that in this country. It is controversial, especially in red states. And now we see those states moving to enact controversial laws. Ohio's governor today signed what they call a "heartbeat bill."

Signs into law makes law, a rule that essentially bans an abortion after a heartbeat is detected much earlier than the viability standard that is established by Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. It could be as early as six weeks. It's before many women know they're even pregnant. Georgia's governor is expected to sign a similar bill. Texas? Lawmakers considered making abortion punishable by death. Should that power belong to the states?

It's the start of a great debate, Jennifer Granholm and Niger Innis. I will stipulate here at the beginning. I don't believe this is about states thinking these laws are going to stick. It's about pushing the envelope and seeing what happens and what they can agitate at the Supreme Court level.

But as you heard, gov, I liken these to Jim Crow laws because I saw that as the same pernicious intent. Let's codify it. Let's solidify it at the local level so at least we're starting with a base, and then we'll try our luck, see how long we can keep it this way. How do you see it?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, no, I think you're totally right in terms of the purpose of this. They know that these laws are unconstitutional and they've been struck down up to this point.

[23:50:00] But now, they've got Kavanaugh. If you want to know what the fight about Kavanaugh was all about, this is it. They want a case, the right case to get to the Supreme Court which would overturn Roe v. Wade. Let me just say, one of the states that of course as you mentioned is under the microscope on this is Georgia. And there was a senator in Georgia who said, "We will reclaim our rights when we reclaim your seat," a woman, Senator Jen Jordan. That is it.

I'm telling you, if you saw a lot of women getting mad in 2018, you saw 117 women being sent to Congress, this goes to the Supreme Court, this is happening in these states. All of those pink hats, they are coming out again and there is very little that makes women more angry than male politicians coming in to separate them from the decisions and the very difficult decisions that they have with their doctors. This is going to be a political firestorm.

CUOMO: Niger, you were running this a little bit with the states that are codifying Roe v. Wade. You said they're codifying infanticide. You and I had discussions about this at that time. They're not doing anything that's not the law of the land now. Roe v. Wade is certainly only infanticide if you want to call it that and put that label on it but these are not new moves. Is that hand in glove with this effort?

NIGER INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Well, I think that the extremes on both ends are defining the debate on this question when most of the American people are somewhere in the middle. You know, what I was --

CUOMO: How are you in the middle about whether or not someone's got a right to choose?

INNIS: Well, it's late-term abortions, for example.

CUOMO: But who did late-term abortions? What state made late-term abortions OK? INNIS: The state of Virginia rejected a law. But you had a legislator, Julie Chen (ph), who was pushing a piece of legislation. She was confronted by one of her colleagues in the House of Delegates and asked, "Would a woman who was dilating and about to give birth be allowed to have an abortion?" Julie Chen (ph) --

GRANHOLM: Stop this B.S. right now. That is B.S.

INNIS: -- said yes.

CUOMO: The state didn't adopt it. Jennifer, go ahead.

GRANHOLM: But Niger, that is not what is happening. What is happening in the states is that who feel threatened is that they are trying to codify Roe v. Wade. In New York, as Andrew Cuomo was trying to repeal an outdated criminal law that criminalized abortion, what these states are doing, what they're doing is they see what's happening in the southern states and they are attempting to codify and to put into state law that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land.

That will only last as long as the Supreme Court continues to uphold it, of course. But that's what's happening, is that people -- this is a relationship between a woman and her doctor, and every pregnancy is different.

And I -- it is -- 70 percent of Americans believe that Roe v. Wade should stay intact and do not want to see politicians becoming physicians and stepping in between a woman with a very difficult decision, a medical decision, and by the way, let's be clear about this, the United States has the worst maternal mortality rates of any of the developed countries.

And a state like Georgia is the worst state in the country for women surviving pregnancy. So this is a health care issue. And let's not let politicians substitute their judgment for that of a physician.

INNIS: Look, I think that conservatives, pro-life advocates, which is about 50 percent of the country -- I mean, pro-life advocates and I consider myself a pro-life advocate as well, have gained tremendous traction in the country in terms of popular opinion on this question.

In the early 90s, about a third of Americans considered themselves pro-life and 56 percent considered themselves pro-choice. Today, it's split almost down the middle, 50-50. I think conservatives and pro- life advocates are much, much stronger, political, tactical and moral grounds to attack Planned Parenthood for getting federal funds, which comes out of the pockets of those who are pro-life or pro-choice.

GRANHOLM: OK, let's be clear.


GRANHOLM: Planned Parenthood does not use any federal funds for abortions. Just do not spread these lies.

INNIS: They just move around the money, Jennifer. You know that.

GRANHOLM: Planned Parenthood does not give federal --


CUOMO: Hold on. Niger, they could. You have no proof they do. So when you spread it, it's bullshit. That's why she's telling you don't spread B.S. if you can't prove it. That's the suggestion. Let her finish the point. Go ahead.

GRANHOLM: And that is the point. The Hyde Amendment prevents it, says it's illegal for Planned Parenthood to do that. So you can't just go out there and make claims that are not true.

[23:55:02] Women's lives are at stake. And this is why the people of America -- you can say what you want about where people are pro-life, anti -- pro-life, really. That's such a ridiculous thing. This is about being pro-birth.

If it were really about pro-life, you guys would be funding the things that help children once they are born instead of cutting things like food assistance to people who have young children, et cetera. But the bottom line is this is a health issue. This is not a political issue. Let the physicians make the decision.

CUOMO: I got you.

GRANHOLM: We will see what happens at Roe v. Wade.

CUOMO: All right.

GRANHOLM: We are going to see an electoral backlash if something happens.

CUOMO: I've got to jump. Both of you, thank you very much, I appreciate you being here. Thanks for watching with us. The news continues on CNN.