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Soon Indicted Ex-Obama White House Counsel in Federal Court; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) Discusses the Indictment of Greg Craig, the Mueller Report, Barr Saying Trump Campaigned Spied Upon, Plan to Dump Migrants in Sanctuary Cities; Oakland, CA, Mayor Discusses White House Plan to Dump Migrants in Sanctuary Cities; Buttigieg/Pence Feud Over Faith & Gay Marriage Gets Personal; "Washington Post" Lists 6 Most-Threatening Investigations for Trump. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 12, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: He tries to say that the Mueller team is all Democrats. They are not. And that this is sort of a political witch hunt. He also I will -- he tweeted -


KEILAR: -- the placement -- he was complaining that this didn't get enough publicity, Greg Craig's indictment.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): It puts the lie to his statement. As you know, Special Counsel Mueller was a Republican, or is a Republican. And I think that the fact of the matter is that the -- the Mueller probe had nothing to do with politics. It had to do with getting to the bottom of what happened in 2016, whether there was obstruction of justice, and whether there were efforts to aid the Russians in meddling in our democracy as well.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about Bill Barr, the attorney general, because he has gotten a lot of notice for using the word "spying" to describe the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. He did not cite any evidence to support that claim. That was part of the issue. And our Laura Jarrett is reporting that sources say -- sources close to Barr say he wasn't trying to use the word "spying" in a pejorative way. Do you believe that?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: No. I think it was an irresponsible thing for him to say that without explaining himself. Basically, warrants for probable cause were issued by a court in connection with this electronic surveillance, and basically the FBI did what it's supposed to do, which is to pursue criminal wrongdoing. And to equate that spying is just simply outrageous. He's not the attorney general for Donald Trump. He's the attorney general for the United States.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about a story the president just commented on a short time ago that he had a plan to take undocumented immigrants from the border and bus them to sanctuary cities, so cities run by Democrats, and release them on to the streets. The "Washington Post" reported this. We've confirmed this. What's your reaction to this? This is supposed to be retaliation against his political enemies. KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes, again, this is completely outrageous. Again,

the president apparently brought up the suggestion or his aides brought up the suggestion, and ICE officials immediately shot it down, according to the "Washington Post" reports. And now he's bringing it up again in this tweet. You know, this is -- it's really unfortunate that, you know, the president would think about using these children and these migrants as pawns in some kind of a political game. I think that rather than doing that he should follow the law, and he should administer our immigration laws faithfully down at the border.

KEILAR: You're -- two-thirds of the people that come to the border are women and children. And we know that from statistics coming to the Trump administration. But when you hear the president describe these immigrants, he describes them as rapists, as murders, as criminals. He says they look like heavyweight fighters. With that in mind, I mean, you look that the with a different idea of who these undocumented immigrants are, but that's what he's describing. So knowing that that's what he's describing, depositing into cities, what do you think -- what was he trying to achieve? What would he be trying to achieve with that?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: He's trying to create fear. I think that's what he's trying to do. I think he's trying to create fear among people throughout the United States about these migrants. I think that, as you mentioned, these women and children are basically fleeing violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and other places. And rather than trying to stem this migration at the source, we also heard this week from people like Attorney General Barr and others, Mike Pompeo, that there might be assistance that's actually cut off or curtailed to these countries that are really trying to deal with the violence and what's driving these people to our borders. I really think that not stemming that migration at the source along with a zero-tolerance policy at the border, namely prosecuting criminally all those who are basically trying to cross into our country, whether they are asylum seekers or not, is completely wrong.

KEILAR: Congressman Krishnamoorthi, thank you so much for joining us.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you. Thank you.

KEILAR: I'll be speaking with the mayor of Oakland, who has been on the receiving end of President Trump's attacks against these cities.

[13:34:41] Also, as prosecutors play hardball with Actress Lori Loughlin in the college admissions scandal, hear what Loughlin is saying behind the scenes about possible plea talks.


KEILAR: The White House, moments ago, confirming reports that they considered a plan to dump undocumented migrants into sanctuary cities. And this happens as the president admits that he's currently considering doing this. The gist of the statement from the White House is that since the migrants are being released into the U.S. anyway, why not direct them to sanctuary cities.

We have Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, California, which is a sanctuary city.

Mayor, thanks for being with us.


KEILAR: Tell us your reaction to this report, the president planning to bus immigrant detainees to cities like yours.

[13:40:01] SCHAAF: This is an outrageous abuse of power and public resources. The idea that the administration thought in any way that it would be acceptable to use families and children, human beings as political retribution against their enemies should infuriate every American, regardless of political affiliation.

And I am proud to be the mayor of a sanctuary city. We believe sanctuary cities are safer cities. We embrace the diversity in Oakland. And we do not think it's appropriate for us to use local resources to do the government's failed immigration work.

KEILAR: You describe the undocumented immigrants that he's talking about, overflow immigrants that cannot be housed at the border, you're describing them as women and children. It's important to note that two-thirds of the immigrants coming to the border are, indeed, women and children. The president though, when he describes immigrants, he paints a very different picture. He paints one of violent criminals, rapists, murderers. He says asylum seekers look like heavyweight champions, UFC fighters.

Are we having an issue with your audio, Mayor? Can you hear me?

SCHAAF: You're back. Thank you.

KEILAR: OK, good. All right. Sorry.

Did you hear what I said. I can repeat myself. It was long. I'll try to shorten it.

SCHAAF: Yes. No, I agree with you.


KEILAR: I guess my point is, he's describing them as violent criminals. You are not. The premise is, from his perspective, this would be dropping not women and children but violent criminals into your community.

SCHAAF: The data is very clear that immigrants and even undocumented immigrants commit far fewer crimes than non-immigrants. The data is clear. Sanctuary cities like Oakland are actually getting safer. We believe that there's safety and harmony in diversity and inclusion. And there's plenty of research to back that up. But what's really outrageous is the way that this administration continues to use petty politics and really vitriolic rhetoric to advance a racist agenda. This is not American.

KEILAR: Mayor, we really appreciate you being with us. Mayor Libby Schaaf, from Oakland, California, thank you.

SCHAAF: Thank you. Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: A growing feud between the vice president and Pete Buttigieg sparking the question, which party is the party of faith.

And backlash erupts over Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's comments about the September 11th terror attacks. Why she's now quoting President George W. Bush.


[13:47:15] KEILAR: A home-state feud centered around marriage equality and homosexuality is playing out on the national stage right now. Democratic presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, is calling out Vice President Mike Pence, his former governor, over his stance on the issue.

Buttigieg is taking direct aim at Pence's interpretation of the Bible, prompting Pence to tell this to our Dana Bash.


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 -- as he seeks the highest office in the land.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. 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.

BASH: How so?

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


KEILAR: Now Buttigieg is explaining how easy it would be to put this to rest on "The Ellen Show."


PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: I'm not interested in feuding with the vice president. But if he wanted to clear this up, he could change his mind and say that shouldn't be legal to discriminate against anyone in this country for who they are. That's all.



KEILAR: We have S.E. Cupp with us, a political commentator and host of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED."

S.E., Pence is a devout evangelical Christian and Buttigieg is a devout Episcopalian. He's trying to stake out this position talking about faith, not something that Democrats are known for doing What do you think about this debate and also what appears to be a strategy by the mayor?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED": I think that's been a long time since we've seen a Democratic candidate with as muscular and an unapologetic Christian vote as Pete Buttigieg has. As you mentioned, he's a devout Christian. He speaks the language fluently and convictedly. It's very natural for him. It's not a put-on like some politicians do. And I think that's really refreshing. Whatever you may think of the secularization of the country, 73 percent of Americans are Christian. I think this is a very strategic, smart, and I don't mean it's inauthentic, but smart appeal to moderates who may need some reminding of what it sounds like when a Democrat talks positively about God.

KEILAR: This was the first Democrat who has targeted Pence, and so I think it's something that is getting a lot of attention. Why do you think that this is the first time that this has happened?

CUPP: Yes, I think it's natural to Pete Buttigieg because it's personal for Pete Buttigieg. Other candidates can talk about equality and gay rights as a political issue. For him, it's very personal. And so I think it's, again, smart but authentic for him to sort of, quote/unquote, "pick this fight." I think it is refreshing to see such a civil conversation between two, I think, thoughtful men of faith, who I think deeply believe what they are saying. It's nice. It's not typical in today's sort of rancorous political discourse to see such a high-minded conversation, a disagreement at that.

[13:50:35] KEILAR: And it shows the division as well in the Christian faith about the issue. So it is interesting to watch that play out in the political sphere.

CUPP: Sure.

KEILAR: S.E., thank you so much. S.E. Cupp.

CUPP: Sure.

KEILAR: Do not miss her show, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED," tomorrow and every Saturday evening at 6:00 Eastern on CNN.

When it comes to investigations into President Trump, turns out they are not all created equal. Breaking down the six most damaging congressional inquiries.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:55:41] KEILAR: As Washington and the world wait for the Mueller report, in whichever form it may arrive, the president faces many other investigations in a House controlled by Democrats. And the "Washington Post" ranked them in order in least damaging to most.

And the reporter who figured this out is joining me now, Amber Phillips, the political reporter for "The Fix," the "Washington Post" political blog.

So you laid out six of the most threatening investigations. Tick these off for us.

AMBER PHILLIPS, STAFF WRITER, THE FIX, WASHINGTON POST: Sure. Because not all of them are created equal. I have my eye on the House Intelligence Committee. They are looking at obstruction of justice. A question that the Mueller report left unanswered. But to get that, they're going to need information they might not be able to get, which is the unredacted Mueller report.

Same thing for another big question that the committee is looking at. Did the president make decisions with Russia and Saudi Arabia based on his bank account? A big question but they're going to need to get secret conversations between Trump and the Russian president. And something to keep an eye on.

Some of the most fruitful investigations I have my eye on, Brianna, are whether -- what the president did before he was president. For example, House Oversight Committee wants to know if the president inflated his net worth to get deals or deflated them to dodge real estate taxes.

KEILAR: And Michael Cohen will play into that?

PHILLIPS: Exactly. Michael Cohen testified before Congress and saying he did this. And now this House Oversight Committee is going to follow up on that. This is close to getting some really key financial documents.

KEILAR: So it is verifiable, right?

PHILLIPS: Quite possibly. And experts I've talked to say this could constitute some level of fraud. It is worth looking at the legal implications here.

KEILAR: And what's the next one, the security clearance issue?

PHILLIPS: Yes, did the president have a role in giving people security clearances that shouldn't have gotten them, according to experts. He's the president, he could give anyone he wants a security clearance. But a House over sight committee is working with a whistleblower saying he did this over objections, specifically Jared Kushner. This investigation has the potential to catch the president in a lie about his involvement here.

KEILAR: And then tax returns. PHILLIPS: Yes. This is one of the flashier questions on Capitol Hill

right now. A tax committee has asked the IRS for six years of tax returns. They're prepared to go to court to get this information. An aide told me it is possible we could all see the president's tax returns. He's been keeping this secret for a while now.

KEILAR: Why did you pick the hush money payments as the most threatening? What was the judgment there versus something that could include fraud even?

PHILLIPS: Right. Because there's already a legal investigation going, up in New York, into these hush money payments. And a House Oversight Committee is laser focused on trying to figure out the president's involvement in this. Again, Michael Cohen testified before Congress and handed them checks that he said basically made up the president's reimbursing him for the hush money payments. So what happens if the president loses in 2020, could he be in legal jeopardy for an ongoing investigation?

KEILAR: When you are looking at this investigation into obstruction and there's actually information that Congress may not be able to get, they would subpoena, presumably, the subpoenas are ready to try to get that unredacted Mueller report.


KEILAR: The conclusion from Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein was this did not meet the threshold for obstruction of justice. And how is it possible Congress might come to a different conclusion?

PHILLIPS: That is why I didn't label this as the most damaging for the president because, you had Bob Mueller with all of the resources of the Justice Department and the FBI, spending years looking into this. He didn't reach a conclusion. It is an open question if a divided Congress can, when they might be obstructed themselves from documents they need to look into this.

KEILAR: Do you think Congress could find answers to maybe the other five of these issues?

PHILLIPS: I think that some of the questions about the president's business practices, because there's documentation from his loans, his financial statements, from the Trump Organization, from lawyers who could get subpoenaed to Congress, are ones to keep an eye on.

KEILAR: Special person watching you here on CNN, watching "The Fix."

PHILLIPS: Goodness, yes, 5-month-old Quinn.

KEILAR: You're just back from maternity leave. Say hi to your daughter.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Brianna.

Hi, Quinn. I love you.

KEILAR: That is very exciting.

Welcome back, Amber. It is so nice to come on and break this down. We appreciate it.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

KEILAR: And that is it for me.

"NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.