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Trump's Plan to Detain Immigrants; Interview With Howard Schultz; Mike Pence vs. Pete Buttigieg; Interview With Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL). Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 12, 2019 - 15:00   ET




This is what he said: "Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are, indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities only."

And that admission comes just hours after his own White House said that the idea was -- quote -- "briefly and informally raised and quickly rejected."

The proposal was the brainchild of Stephen Miller, but it was resisted by ousted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others in the department, who said it was likely illegal. At least one DHS official tells CNN that the program amounted to, their words, using people as pawns.

Now, this plan, by one group's count, could affect hundreds of cities, counties and states nationwide, including a San Francisco district that belongs to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Now, a spokesperson for the speaker issuing a scathing statement in response, saying: "The extent of this administration's cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated. Using human beings, including little children, as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable and in some cases criminal."

And moments ago Trump just weighed in.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Crime is way down in our country over the last year, way, way down. And so that is despite all of the problems we have at the border. And we're straightening that out.

So, on sanctuary cities, as per your question, we are giving very strong consideration to having people, after a 20-day period, because, again, you are not allowed legally to hold them for more than that, we will move them into sanctuary cities.

Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN's Jessica Schneider is in Washington.

And so both Speaker Pelosi and the Trump administration official said that this plan would turn people into pawns, but this isn't the first time President Trump has done so, correct?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we have seen the president double down repeatedly, because, of course, immigration is the president's signature issue, Brooke.

And it is really the issue that he believes plays best to his base, so many of his negotiations, no matter the subject, seem to include these threats and bluster about the border as his bargaining chip.

So let's look back to March 2018. Congress and the president were in the midst of tense negotiations over the omnibus spending bill, when the White House suddenly signaled a DACA and border deal must be part of the package. Ultimately, it was not part of the deal.

And when talks were breaking down, the president lashed out at Democrats in several tweets, including this one, saying: "DACA was abandoned by the Democrats. Very unfair to them. Would have been tied to desperately needed wall."

So, that was March. Then there was November, when the president pushed a plan in the lead-up to the midterms to send 8,000 troops to the border. The president portrayed it as the military fighting a foreign invasion, but, really, by law, these troops that were sent down could only support U.S. border agents.

And officials said that the soldiers actually would not be in direct contact with the migrants crossing the border, but nevertheless the president defended the deployment, even though there was some criticism because this would be over Thanksgiving and Christmas.


TRUMP: Don't worry about the Thanksgiving. These are tough people. They know what they are doing. And they're great. And they have done a great job. You are so worried about the Thanksgiving holiday for them. They are so proud to be representing our country on the border.


SCHNEIDER: And then weeks later, the president returned to his favorite target on border issues, the Democrats, after two Guatemalan children died in the Customs and Border Protection in December from illness.

The president in that case tweeting out: "Any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking that they can enter our country illegally. They can't. If we had a wall, they wouldn't try." And then, of course, speaking of the wall, there was the longest government shutdown in history, 35 days, where thousands of government workers went without pay. And the legislative standoff there centered around the funding for the president's border wall.

He demanded $5.7 billion. Of course, he got none of that, even after that legislative stalemate, but the president afterwards said that workers were willing to sacrifice.


TRUMP: You are incredible patriots. Many of you have suffered far greater than anyone, but your families would know or understand.

And not only did you not complain, but, in many cases, you encouraged me to keep going because you care so much about our country and about its border security.


SCHNEIDER: Now, people complaining wasn't really the whole issue or the whole picture here.

At least one border union did say the majority of its members supported the president, but, Brooke, others definitely spoke out during the shutdown, including the National Border Council political coordinator, who really said it wasn't OK to say that all federal employees supported the shutdown.


He really called that statement irresponsible and careless. But we continue to see the president doubling down on his signature issue, immigration and the border -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you for running through all of that for us, Jessica Schneider in Washington.

And here is more from the White House on sending migrants to sanctuary cities, quoting them: "Tens of thousands of illegal families from Central America have been released to San Diego, El Paso, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Antonio in just the last few months. This is the stark reality of our broken immigration system. The simple question that was informally asked is whether, in order to relieve burdens on these receiving communities, illegal aliens already being released on a daily basis could be sent to and cared for by sanctuary jurisdictions, whose stated policy is to welcome and embrace illegal aliens."

So let's get some perspective and some analysis and opinion.

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is with me. She was one of three congresswoman denied entry at a child detention center in South Florida this week.

So, Congresswoman, a pleasure to have you on. Welcome.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Thanks. Great to be with you, Brooke.

Thank you.

BALDWIN: So I just read the White House response. But, again, the president himself, in a tweet -- and you heard him a second ago -- admitting that he wants detainees in sanctuary cities, specifically as retribution.

To that, you say what?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: To that, I say that it really feels more like we have a comic book villain in the White House than a president.

This is a president who flouts the law and has been repeatedly rejected in his outrageous, horrendous policies like these over and over. When he first became president, he tried to ban mostly immigrants from Muslim certain Muslim countries and was rejected by a court.

Recently, he was just rejected by a court from requiring people seeking asylum to be held in Mexico while their asylum applications will be in process. That was rejected. He was rejected from being able to forcibly separate children from their families at the border.

He has been rejected in -- repeatedly in trying to end temporary protective status for immigrants from countries that it's dangerous for them to return to. Over and over and over again, this president's policies, which are outrageous and inhumane, have been rejected by courts.

And then Monday, Brooke, after myself and Congresswomen Donna Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell attempted to conduct oversight by visiting the Homestead detention center, which just announced its second expansion of more than 1,000 children -- we're going to go over 3,000 unaccompanied minors that are housed there -- we were denied access, despite the fact that last year I passed a law requiring the Office of Refugee Resettlement to allow members of Congress in, no questions asked, without any time limits, to conduct proper oversight to make sure children are being well-cared-for.

So they continually flout the law. And the judicial branch continues to reject them.

BALDWIN: I hear you. And we talked to Congresswoman Shalala about exactly what happened to you ladies this week as well.

But on the point of the president and releasing these detainees in these sanctuary cities, if you take the political piece out of this, if you take the retribution against Democrats out of it, could the plan actually help overcrowding at the border? Is that possible?


What the president's intent on doing is using immigrants who are simply coming to this country, attempting to come to this country to make a better way of life for themselves and their families as political weapons. I don't even want to use the mild term pawns.

He is attempting to use them as political weapons to fan the flames and intensify anger. It is just outrageous, when what we need to do is sit down at the table, which I know we could do, if we could just get Republicans and Democrats in Congress to sit down and come together and adopt some sane, humane immigration policy.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: But, unfortunately, our Republican colleagues are petrified of Donald Trump.

BALDWIN: But what about the Democrats?

Because you look at this issue of the border, and it's like Trump and the border, it's inextricably linked. And, as a result, is your party at risk of overlooking it, not wanting to touch it because it's so totally associated with this president?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, Brooke, on the contrary.

We absolutely want to, to use your term, touch the issue of border security and comprehensive immigration reform, or even partial immigration reform.

But what this president now is doing, declaring a fake national emergency to try to build a border wall, to erect a seventh century solution to what is -- what could be solved with 21st century technology.


There's bipartisan support for 21st century technology. He's been rejected in a bipartisan way multiple times by Congress, and yet he is still trying to force the funding to build that wall and take away vital funds from our troops and their families from funds that Congress already appropriated to erect critical military infrastructure.

This president is -- has run amuck. And he is going to create dangerous situations, not because immigrants would go to any particular city, but because he refuses to simply sit down and try to continue to adopt and craft balanced immigration policy, border security, and making sure that we can have a humane policy that allows people who are fleeing for their lives from other countries to be able to make sure that they can make a way of life for themselves according to our laws.

It's just outrageously irresponsible. We need a president, not a comic book villain.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about Julian Assange, just WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Sure. BALDWIN: He's arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy yesterday in London on this U.S. extradition warrant. And he publicly released those hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee. And you resigned as DNC chairwoman and your e-mail was hacked.

So this is personal for you. Do you commend Trump's Justice Department for its actions on Julian Assange?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think it's about time that Julian Assange was arrested and is brought -- being brought up on charges for the obvious crimes that he committed.

He is purporting to be a journalist. I don't know any journalist -- I'm not sure, Brooke. If you look back on your really storied career so far, I doubt that you have among your credits working with a presidential campaign to help them get elected, aiding and abetting a foreign -- a dangerous foreign adversary in trafficking in stolen information, stolen data to benefit a particular candidate.

BALDWIN: Yes, no.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Those are all things that Julian Assange through WikiLeaks has done.

So, yes, he should be brought to justice, go through our justice process and be prosecuted, and let our judicial process bring him -- bring him to account.

BALDWIN: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You're welcome. My pleasure. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next: Vice President Mike Pence hits back at 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg, at issue, LGBTQ rights and how religion should or should not play into their politics.

Plus, actress Lori Loughlin's daughter reportedly is devastated by this whole college admissions scam, this as a key figure in the case, the man accused of taking tests for the students, just entered a plea in court.



BALDWIN: He is outpolling most of the Democrats with their eyes on the White House. I'm talking about South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

And then among all these Democrats, he's in a very unique position. If he makes it to the top of the ticket and eventually the Oval Office, Buttigieg would be the nation's first gay married man.

And this week, he's calling out Vice President Mike Pence and his views on marriage equality. And Pence is hitting right back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man. And, yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God.

And if you have got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with. Your quarrel sir, is with my creator.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope that Pete will offer more to the American people than attacks on my Christian faith or attacks on the president, as he seeks the highest office in the land.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, he argues that your quarrel is with him as a gay man and that he says, I was born this way, and this is the way God made me.

That's just not your belief?

PENCE: Well, I -- I think -- I think Pete's quarrel is with the First Amendment.

All of this in this country have the right to our religious beliefs.


BALDWIN: But Pete Buttigieg says he is not criticizing Pence's Christian faith.


BUTTIGIEG: I'm not critical of his faith. I'm critical of bad policies.

I don't have a problem with religion. I'm religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, and especially in the LGBTQ community.


BALDWIN: Let's have a big old conversation about this.

Joshua DuBois served as the White House adviser to President Obama on faith and race. And CNN religion commentator Father Edward Beck just interviewed Mayor Buttigieg on this very topic.

So, gentlemen, thank you for being with me. And we will get back to this back and forth in just a moment.

But, Father Beck, I have to start with you. What did the mayor tell you about his faith?

REV. EDWARD BECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he said, it's Gospel-based, and it's really socially driven for him. I mean, for him, Matthew 25 is the heart of the Gospel, that teaching

of Jesus that said, did you care for the poor? Did you visit the imprisoned? Did you care for those in need? And he thinks that Governor Pence -- remember, they had a history.

He was mayor of South Bend, Pete. And the mayor -- and the governor of Indiana tried to put through this religious freedom restoration act, which Mayor Pete saw as a license to discriminate against gay people.

And so he went after it, and that's where this battle began. So he thinks that Mike Pence's view of religion is about sexual ethics. And Mayor Pete says, my view of religion is, care for the poor, do what Jesus did.


BALDWIN: Well, you heard Mayor Pete on -- we played the clip from "Ellen," Joshua, where he says that he's not attacking the vice president's faith, but, rather, his policies.

But when you look at someone like Mike Pence, his policies are based on his faith, right? They're intertwined.

JOSHUA DUBOIS, FORMER SPIRITUAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, but Mayor Pete is bringing up these big topics that are important in our democracy.

I don't think this is about two individuals going back and forth. I think this is Mayor Pete saying, we have two very different world views and asking Mike Pence to explain what his world view is.

He kind of -- he made two big points. The first one was, he was saying that -- in his initial speech that, as a Christian, as a veteran, as a mayor of an American city, and as a gay men, he believes that he's made in the image of God, that there's nothing wrong with him, that he doesn't have a defect about him. And if Mike Pence believes something differently, than Mike Pence should be able to explain that.

He should be able to explain his world view. The second thing Mayor Pete said in the "Ellen" interview was that, around the country today, gay people can still be discriminated against in a couple dozen states. They can be denied housing if their landlord finds out they're gay. Their child can be refused service at the pediatrician if the doctor finds out that they're gay.

And Mayor Pete believes that's wrong. And if Mike Pence believes differently, he should be able to explain his world view.

BALDWIN: But to that point, there are still a lot of congregations and churches who have not made a place for the gay community, members of the gay community.

And, Father Beck, I mean, isn't one of the reasons Mayor Pete is talking about his faith in such an open way is because he's gay? I mean, is he aiming to challenge the assumptions that some people may be making?

BECK: Most definitely, because he sees himself as a devout practicing Christian, and he's in a very inclusive community that he belongs to, St. James Cathedral in South Bend, and he is welcome there.

That's where he married his husband. So I think what gets to him is when religion is used as a weapon to discriminate or to somehow put down someone else. If it's used for ill effect to somebody else, he says, that's not religion, that's not Christianity. He says, look at what Jesus did.

Jesus didn't talk about homosexuality. Jesus didn't talk about gay marriage. Why are some people on the right, according to Mayor Pete, so obsessed with those issues, and not talking about what Jesus really talked about, the criterion for salvation, again, drink for the thirsty, food for the hungry, clothing for the naked, visit the imprisoned?

This is where the Gospel lives for Mayor Pete. And he wants to have a conversation. He wants to rescue, he says, religion from the religious right and say, those of us who are progressives, he says, we should be using faith, because it's on our side.

BALDWIN: Joshua, what do you think about that?

DUBOIS: Well, listen, I think it's fascinating that we have a progressive candidate who is inviting a conversation about the details of his values and his faith and how that applies in the world, and a vice president who seems to be running away from it, who's saying, listen, under the under the overall rubric of religious liberty, we shouldn't be talking about this or it's an attack on my faith.

When I listen to Mayor Pete, I'm not hearing an attack. I'm hearing someone who wants to have a conversation about the values lines in this country. And I think that's a conversation that we should all welcome.

BALDWIN: Joshua DuBois and Father Beck, gentlemen, a pleasure. Thank you so much for the conversation on a Friday afternoon.

DUBOIS: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Appreciate both of you.

DUBOIS: Thanks for having us.

BALDWIN: Just in, we are getting word of an incident in front of the White House, a man apparently setting his jacket on fire. We will get you right back to Washington in just a moment.



BALDWIN: We're just getting word as some sort of incident just in front of the White House. Jeremy Diamond is in the Briefing Room for us with hopefully a little

bit more detail.

What happened, Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, there was a little bit of a scramble in front of the White House just before 3:00 p.m. this afternoon.

We saw a small cloud of smoke from across the White House. A Secret Services spokeswoman now telling me that a man set his jacket on fire just in front of the White House. He is being treated for injuries. We saw him being transported into an ambulance just moments ago.

And the Secret Service spokeswoman tells me that they do not believe there was any threat to the president. But we are seeing some of those elevated security measures at the moment, as we often do in these kinds of incidences.

The press, for example, has been pulled into the Briefing Room here off of the North Lawn. So we will continue to bring you updates on this, but, as of now, Secret Service saying no threat to the president at this moments and this man is being treated for those injuries.

BALDWIN: Got it. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

This just in from Boston, a guilty plea from a key individual in the college admissions scandal. Mark Riddell admits he was paid to pose as high school students to secretly take college placement tests for the children of wealthy parents. Riddell pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in this scheme that has ensnared Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, along with financial and business leaders.

Riddell had faced up to 20 years in prison, but he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence. His sentencing is set for July.

Coming up next, he is still considering his own presidential run. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz joins me live.