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Pelosi: A.G. Barr Believes Trump is "Above the Law"; Pelosi Says Democrats Have "No Taint" of Anti-Semitism in Party; Michelle Obama Equates Trump to a Divorced Dad; Democrats Demand Testimony on Trump's Pardon Offer to McAleenan; Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) Discusses Democrats Subpoenaing Banks for Trump's Financial Records; Notre Dame Ravaged by Fire, Money Pledged Worldwide to Rebuild. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired April 16, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: How redacted it is. That's going to be the question.
Let's discuss this with chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Network's April Ryan.
So it's interesting, as we await this Mueller report coming out Thursday morning, she wants to see how redacted it is.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
KEILAR: We know that it's going to be too redacted for the likes of any Democrat, right, but she was saying that the attorney general believes that Donald Trump is above the law. This is the starting position, right, Gloria?
BORGER: Right. And that's a little partisan, I would say. But I think the reason that she is saying that is because she knows that -- that the attorney general, before he was attorney general, wrote a memo in June of 2018 saying that you can't prosecute the president for obstruction, that this was ridiculous, and so that's her -- that's her starting point. And she also clearly doesn't believe that he should have decided on obstruction by himself. I mean, she is the speaker of the House, and I would think she believes it's up to the Congress to do, not the attorney general.
KEILAR: I want to talk about what Christiane began the interview with. Well, first, she asked about the cathedral Notre Dame, to be clear about that. But then she asked about Ilhan Omar.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
KEILAR: The congresswoman who spoke in, perhaps accidentally but somewhat unapologetically, in minimizing terms about what happened on 9/11. And the speaker had come out and -- and criticized President Trump for re-tweeting images of the towers falling, as sort of a slam -- as a slam on Ilhan Omar. Nancy Pelosi said that she hasn't spoken with Omar and also said that she had words for Ilhan Omar in her statement where she said that it's sacred ground when you talk about 9/11.
RYAN: It is.
KEILAR: It definitely is.
The whole point of this is Nancy Pelosi is overseas talking to Christiane Amanpour in an interview with a lot of international significance, and this is what follows her there. This is a huge distraction for Democrats.
RYAN: Actually, it was the third question. She went Notre Dame and then Brexit. She wanted to get the international stuff off the table and then go to Ilhan Omar. But you're right. This story is consuming us because you have a new congressional leader who has been brought in to some of the elder statesmen's chambers to talk about how she speaks and some of the things that she says. And this was something that happened a month ago, and the president added a video to this to kind of sensationalize it. You know, her words were not artful at all, OK.
She could have used different words. But at the same time, it is following Nancy Pelosi because Nancy Pelosi is a Democrat. Congresswoman Omar is a Democrat. And it makes you wonder, as I'm told, that Congresswoman Omar is in safety right now. They don't want to disclose where she is. Either way, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, could have spoken with her one way or the other to either chastise her or say, look, we stand with you. We know there's some congressional leaders who are not happy about this. Many Democrats are not happy about what she said. But at the same time, you know, they are giving her protection and they are standing with her because they feel, you know, there are other people on the other side of the aisle that are doing the same thing. And she has a right to say what she said but was it the most artful thing? No.
BORGER: She's got -- she's got to navigate a difficult terrain here in the Democratic Party. I mean, the other day, on "60 Minutes," she was asked about the new progressive. She said there were like five of them and then she said ,I'm a progressive myself, which she is. But she's got these new members, and she owes got to figure out how to give a united front to the American people for Democrats, and she doesn't want them to appear anti-Semitic at all.
RYAN: You're absolutely right.
Brianna, this is something that we're looking at with this freshman class, you know. There are concerns with some of the most stellar members, as would you say, or the names. You have these young upstart freshmen who are ready to get in and be part of what they used to be in the world, activists, activists.
KEILAR: They are legislators.
RYAN: Now they are legislators. How do you change and shift from being activists?
BORGER: And they're in charge. And they are in charge.
RYAN: Exactly. And that's a big shift.
KEILAR: It's a very good point, April.
KEILAR: I do want to turn now to some comments that were made by Michelle Obama, who is equating President Trump to a divorced dad. Let's have a look at exactly what show said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We come from a broken family. We're a teenager, you know, we're a little unsettled, you know. And, you know, having good parents, you know, is tough, you know, and sometimes you spend weekends with a divorced dad and that feels like it's fun. But then it gets sick. That's what America is going through. We're kind of living with a divorced dad right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:35:03] KEILAR: All right. She got some chuckles, but that was a sexist comment.
BORGER: Oh, I think so. And I think divorced dads --
KEILAR: Divorced dads everywhere.
BORGER: -- who are good dads are upset about it. I mean, we understand what her point was, which is --
KEILAR: Honestly, a lot might have more than a weekend with their kids.
BORGER: That's right.
RYAN: There are some good dads. Let's leave the good dads off.
BORGER: And we agree.
Her point was dads are for fun, and after a while the -- the fun wears off.
KEILAR: Dads aren't serious. Dads don't really take care of you.
BORGER: Right. And dads don't realize, that you can't eat pizza every night and maybe your tummy will get upset. It was a bad metaphor, I think, but we understand what she's saying, which is, OK, those feelings that you had about Donald Trump being for change and all good things will happen have probably worn off with the American people. I think it's wishful thinking on her part.
KEILAR: It's surprising to me that Michelle Obama would make that mistake.
KEILAR: Do you think it was a mistake?
KEILAR: You think it was a mistake? OK.
RYAN: Michelle Obama is on a book tour, and she has spoken her truth. She knows this president, and she's talked about Donald Trump putting her children's lives in jeopardy and her life in jeopardy, OK. So that's from the place I believe she's speaking.
KEILAR: But the words.
RYAN: Was the analogy great? It may not have been the best analogy. But at the same time, what she spoke to -- and I'm looking beyond the words -- her words may not have been great. I mean, there are some children who do have dads they don't want to go to. There are some of those parents that are not the greatest. So I understood that part.
KEILAR: When you start saying we'll look beyond Michelle Obama's words --
RYAN: What I said it was not the best analogy, OK? But at the same time, looking at what she's saying, and I looked at Ilhan Omar and look at her words as well.
KEILAR: Or anyone.
RYAN: For anyone.
RYAN: Stephen King, let's go there. Here's the thing. What she is saying we're a divided nation. We're going through growing pains. Serious tummy ache, nausea, maybe even calling earl, I don't know, but she was saying we're going through growing pains and we need to be adults about it. As the president of the United States, you are the leaders. You are basically the parent of the nation. You're trying to bring unity and trying keep things calm and you're our safety net.
BORGER: To the good divorced dads out there. KEILAR: Speak to it, Gloria.
BORGER: That was not the best thing to say. We get her point.
BORGER: But it was a bad metaphor analogy, whatever you want to call it.
RYAN: I'm with you.
BORGER: Find a new one.
KEILAR: All right, Gloria Borger, April Ryan, thanks to both of you.
At any moment now, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, will be speaking, giving an update on the fire damage to the Notre Dame Cathedral and the efforts to rebuild it.
[13:42:31] KEILAR: This just into CNN, House investigators want to know more about President Trump's pardon promises. It's a promise the president made at the border earlier this month when he told border agents they could break the law to keep migrants out of the country. Remember, he said to tell judges that the country is full. Now, Trump is also promising or has promised to pardon Customs Border and Protection commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, if he broke immigration laws.
And our Priscilla Alvarez is here with me to discuss this.
This is the House Judiciary Committee. What do they want to know?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: They want to know about two to three instances, and they are the meeting you just discussed with border agents in which he discussed that had they should be OK to break the law. Then, the second was with McAleenan in which he said that he would grant him a pardon if he were to block asylum seekers from crossing the border. So what they are looking for here is a list of department employees that were at those meeting and would have heard those interactions and those exchanges. And they want to know more about how the president floated this possible pardon to who -- who then at the time was commissioner at the time, Kevin McAleenan.
KEILAR: There's a question of whether he was joking or not, right, and that will come down to what these folks say. There's also reporting with the border agents who were told they could break the law to keep migrants out, basically, do anything they needed to. Afterwards, supervisors had to say disregard what the president said, essentially.
ALVAREZ: Right. What we know from our reporting is that agents did go to their leaders and they asked them about what -- about the president's remarks, in which they were told they would be held liable if they were to follow through with that. So the question here that the committee is trying to home in on is, what did the president say and who was there for when he said it, and -- and how was it followed through or not?
KEILAR: Very important questions to answer.
Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much.
ALVAREZ: Thank you.
KEILAR: Just ahead, in the pursuit of President Trump's tax returns, Democrats are taking a new approach. Today, they are sending subpoenas for the president's bank records. I'll be speaking to a congressman on that committee.
[13:44:32] Plus, an effort to rebuild is already under way at the Notre Dame Cathedral. French President Emmanuel Macron addressing his country in minutes.
KEILAR: With the White House and President Trump's attorneys fighting against the request for his tax returns, three House committees are moving ahead with their own investigations into the president's finances. The House Intelligence Financial Services Committee -- the House -- pardon me -- the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees separately have issued subpoenas to several major banks for loan information. The House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed an accounting firm that has prepared financial statements for President Trump. And the president's personal attorneys are threatening a legal action to stop that accounting firm from providing any information.
California Congressman Ro Khanna is a Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. He's joining me now.
So thanks for being with us.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Thanks, Brianna, for having me on.
KEILAR: So the president's lawyers here are saying that your committee chairman, Elijah Cummings, is overstepping his authority. What do you say to that?
[13:50:08] KHANNA: I disagree. This is about basic transparency. Every president going back to Richard Nixon has released their tax forms. And every member of Congress has to talk about their assets, their family assets. And could you go online and see all of my disclosures. There's no reason the American people shouldn't know the basic financial picture of this president and whether that is dictating or guiding his policy.
KEILAR: So what are you looking for? Are you expecting this would include tax returns or getting at the information in another way?
KHANNA: Well, I think it is getting at the information in another way. I think the president would be smart just to release his tax returns and he may then make it less necessary for us to try to go with alternative routes to piece this together. But what we need to know is, what are potential financial conflicts of interest, why is it that we had tax policy that benefited real estate developers with a pass-through, are there positions that he's advocating in the government that are being influenced by his own personal financial holdings. And this is why we've brought disclosure laws for the members of Congress. The public has the right for the information.
KEILAR: The request IS -- from the chairman is for 10 years of financial information. Why go so far back? Why go six years back before Donald Trump even announced his run for president? What are you looking for there?
KHANNA: Well, I think we need to get a full picture about his assets and what conflicts he may have. Does he have influences in other countries that are possibly giving him loans? What are the investments and what type of perspective that it brings for him? But if he came back and said, I'm going to give six years or we're going to get six years of information, not 10 years, we could have a conversation. But so far, he hasn't been willing to give us anything.
KEILAR: It was Michael Cohen, the former's personal attorney and fixer, who testified that Donald Trump inflated his net worth. Is that at all the basis for part of what you're looking for here?
KHANNA: It is one part of the concern about whether, in the deal with trying to buy an NFL franchise, he inflated his net worth or fully paid his taxes. But we're not making any pre-judgments. I think this is a very simple principle. Every president in the past has been honest with the American people and disclose their assets. And I don't understand why this president doesn't just do that and get it over with and let the American people make a determination about what is guiding his policy and whether he has any conflicts of interest.
KEILAR: There have been many reasons that we've heard from the president, from his top aides, for why he won't release the tax returns. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said members of Congress aren't smart enough to understand the president's taxes. Do you think you're smart enough to understand the president's taxes?
KHANNA: Well, I'll tell what you I'm smart enough. I was born in Philadelphia in the bicentennial year and I'm smart enough to understand our Constitution. And if Sarah Sanders wants to have a cup of coffee, I'm happing to discuss Federalist 51 and Madison's arguments for the separation of powers and why we have to have checks and balances. I love to have that conversation with her because Madison understood there weren't perfect people in Congress or the White House, but we have this amazing constitutional system, and complying with that system is about respecting the people and the framework our founders set up.
KEILAR: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank so much for being with us.
KHANNA: Brianna, thanks for having me. KEILAR: French President Emmanuel Macron expected to speak any moment
about the horrific fire that gutted Notre Dame Cathedral and the plans to rebuild it. This, as we're learning more details on the race to save the landmark's priceless artifacts.
[13:58:37] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for joining me.
Any minute now, French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to address the people of his nation amid universal vows to rebuild after that horrific fire that nearly destroyed one of the city's and the world's most iconic symbols, Notre Dame. Inside the charred remains of the cathedral roof, nicknamed the forest due to the forest of trees needed to build it, they're scattered along the floor. In their place, a massive hole that you see there. It is a view of the Parisian sky, a physical reminder of what the French interior minister, who you just saw there, during a trip inside the burning building, said is, quote, "a gaping wound in the heart of Paris."
And in London, in what Prime Minister Theresa May called a show of solidarity, bells rang at Westminster Abbey to mark the moment the fire began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Remarkably and thankfully, no deaths have been reported in the fire. Which was finally extinguished after a nine-hour battle. Firefighters were able to save Notre Dame's twin towers and facade with many of the treasures inside.
I want to get straight to Max Foster, in Paris.
And, Max, some of the biggest names in France's business community have pledged millions and millions to rebuild Notre Dame. Tell us about that.