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Tonight House Democrats Hold Conference Call on Mueller Report; Trump: "Nobody Disobeys My Orders"; Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) Discusses the Mueller Report, Impeachment of Trump, Obstruction of Justice; Rep. Seth Moulton Announces Presidential Run; New Warren Education Plan Wipes Out Student Debt for Millions; Biden Expected to Announce Presidential Run This Week; Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Could Move to Africa After Baby's Arrival. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired April 22, 2019 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:32] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: To impeach or not impeach, that is the big question when House Democrats speak to each other just hours from now. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hosting her entire caucus on a conference call to, presumably, get on the same page after the redacted version of the Mueller report dropped. She said Friday, "Congress will not be silent." But will they be speaking with one voice, at least on the Democratic side? That is far from clear at this moment.
Here's what one top Democrat, Elijah Cummings, has said about it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): I've got to tell you, there comes a point in life where we all have to make decisions based upon the fact that it is our watch. And you know, history, I think, even if we did not win possibly, if there were not impeachment, I think history would smile upon us for standing up for the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And the president just responded to the first questions on impeachment.
Kaitlan Collins was there. Kaitlan Collins asked the president, and she's joining me once again.
Kaitlan, what did he say?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I believe this is the first time the president has interacted with reporters since the Mueller report was publicly released on Thursday. We asked him about not only impeachment but also this depiction in the Mueller report that the president is often ignored by his own staff. And, Kate, it's clearly something that's been on the president's mind because he was quick to answer it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you worried your staff is ignoring your orders, as the Mueller report portrays?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody disobeyed my order.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you worried about impeachment, Mr. President?
TRUMP: Not even a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: He said, Kate, he's not even a little worried about impeachment. Democrats are deciding which way to go on that.
But back to the staff that has ignored the president's orders, he says, 'Nobody disobeys my orders." That's what he told us. Kate, that's certainly not what the Mueller report showed, released on Thursday, because not only did it detail a president who has been dishonest at times, the Mueller report also portrayed a president who had his White House counsel ignore his directive to start the firing of the special counsel. It also showed his attorney general ignoring his questions about him un-recusing himself from overseeing the investigation. As well as a former campaign aide who refused to carry out the president's directive to send a message to the attorney general to curtail the Russia investigation.
But clearly, Kate, we reported over the weekend the president was pretty furious at those reports that detailed not only a dishonest president but also a president who was regularly managed, restrained, or flat-out ignored by his staff. That was something he wanted to address with reporters.
BOLDUAN: He sure did.
Great to have you there, Kaitlan. Really appreciate it.
Let's talk more about this. Joining me is Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. She sits on the House Oversight Committee.
Congresswoman, thank you for coming in.
DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D-DC): Of course.
BOLDUAN: The president says he's not worried even a little bit about impeachment. The chairman of your committee, Elijah Cummings, he suggests even if the effort would not be successful when it comes to impeachment, it could still be worthwhile because it would put you guys on the right side of history. Do you agree?
HOLMES NORTON: Well, the way we get on the right side of history is by doing the investigations that are going to be under way next week when we begin to meet. We have been here before and we have to be very careful. We do have precedent to guide us. That is the impeachment of President Clinton. I think that many members may not recognize what that entailed. Impeachment is essentially an indictment that begins in the House. That could happen in the House. I'm certainly not sure it would. But if it did, it would then have to go to the Senate, where two-thirds is required. First of all, the Senate is controlled by Republicans. Two-thirds of the Senate, even if it were controlled by the Democrats, would be difficult.
Now, when President Clinton was impeached, the House did indict. That's what impeachment is, indict. But the Senate did not convict. So impeachment did not occur, and Clinton was more popular after that attempted impeachment than before.
So I am not prepared for the first time that the Democrats have had control of the House in seven years to go down an impeachment path that possibly, and I think almost certainly, will lead nowhere.
[11:35:08] HOLMES NORTON: It's a waste of our time.
BOLDUAN: If you do think it's a waste of your time, I wonder if you think -- as you said, your job is to continue these investigations, but if these investigations are into the matter that was fully investigated by Robert Mueller, are the investigations also a waste of time, if you think this is not leading anywhere close to impeachment in the end?
HOLMES NORTON: Well, actually, the Mueller report was a virtual invitation to the Congress to do the kind of investigation that only the Congress can do. Remember, Mueller was confined by the legal process. We are oversight. Therefore, we can look much more deeply into, for example, collusion. Now, we know that there were countless contacts between the Russians and the Trump Organization. And we know exactly why they occurred, but we need to know more about those contacts. That's not the standard that a U.S. attorney -- that's essentially what Mueller is, uses. He uses the standard of whether or not somebody can be indicted. We use a standard of, what do the American people need to know. And this report just begs for that kind of oversight. It begs for us to look at obstruction of justice --
HOLMES NORTON: -- where the invitation was even more clear because the Mueller report said we can't say that -- we certainly don't say there wasn't obstruction of justice.
BOLDUAN: Let me play for you -- on obstruction of justice, I want to play what the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, what he said on that yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: You think this is impeachable?
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Yes, I do. I do think that -- if proven, if proven, which hasn't been proven yet. Some of this -- if proven, some of this would be impeachment, yes. Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: He's talking about the at least 10 episodes of obstruction Mueller was targeting in his inquiry. If proven, do you think it would change your mind on impeachment?
HOLMES NORTON: Certainly. Jerry was being careful, if proven. If proven where? Impeachment is a political process, not a legal process. So it would have to be proved not only to indict in the House but proved for real in the Senate. By the way --
BOLDUAN: So you don't think -- are you saying you think he was dodging the question? Do you see -- after investigations in the House into the matters of obstruction, do you see yourself getting into a place where you would support impeachment or think no matter what, it still is a road to nowhere?
HOLMES NORTON: I believe it's a road to nowhere because I do not believe the Senate would, indeed, complete the process and impeach. Therefore, we would go to the people in 2020 with a failed impeachment attempt. I do not favor impeachment. I certainly don't say it should be off the table. There's more to come, it seems to me, from our investigations. But to assume that impeachment is going to occur when it has almost never occurred in the history of the United States, and we have a recent example where impeachment failed with President Clinton, is to go to a road to nowhere and we'll go to the people with nothing to show for having been in the majority for two years.
BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, thank you so much for coming on. I appreciate your perspective.
HOLMES NORTON: My pleasure.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, crowded is an understatement. Another Democrat jumps into the race for 2020 as Joe Biden is also getting ready for his big announcement. Can he shake up the crowded field? Who's best positioned to lead the pack? Who's leading now? What does 20 people in the race look like?
[11:39:01] We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: A fresh new week, and a fresh new face jumping into the Democratic field for 2020. Seth Moulton, the congressman from Massachusetts, an Iraq war veteran, and now number 19 running for the Democratic nomination.
Here he is this morning on ABC on what he thinks may set him apart from some of the field.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. SETH MOULTON, (D-MA): I'm not a Socialist. I'm a Democrat. And I want to make that clear. And maybe that's a differentiator for me in the race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Who could he be talking about?
He's number 19. And number 20 is not far behind. Joe Biden also expected to jump into the race this week.
Joining me is CNN senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten.
Good to see you, Harry.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER & ANALYST: Nice to see you.
BOLDUAN: What exactly does the Democratic field look like right now?
ENTEN: Yes, folks, it is huge. My goodness gracious. You can barely see the text on the screen. We have a field of 19. We think it's going to go to 20 when Biden announces, which we expect later this week. That's a modern record for the Democrats. And the other thing I should say, a partridge and a pear tree is not included here.
BOLDUAN: You don't get to say it unless you do the full run.
BOLDUAN: Six Senators, six representatives, two governors, two mayors.
ENTEN: Two non-office holders, one cabinet official, and one U.S. vice president.
BOLDUAN: And a partridge in a pear tree.
ENTEN: And a partridge in a pear tree.
BOLDUAN: There you go.
ENTEN: This field is very, very crowded. You get a slice of every different part of the Democratic Party.
[11:45:03] BOLDUAN: You really do. And also surprising there's only two governors.
ENTEN: That's amazing, right? You think back, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, all these people were all former governors. This time, nothing on this side of the aisle.
BOLDUAN: Take us through the CNN town hall in New Hampshire tonight. What do the polls look like right now in the early states?
ENTEN: If you were to look at the early states, specifically New Hampshire, you see Biden is up. Although, this is not an overwhelming lead. We see Buttigieg climbing in the polls. You also see that in Iowa where Buttigieg seems to have the momentum. Biden still holds the lead with Sanders in second. But remember, Bernie Sanders got over 60 percent of the Democratic primary vote in New Hampshire last year, and right now he's only at 16 percent.
BOLDUAN: All right. And it's early.
ENTEN: We still have like nine months to go. We have so much time. This could change 1,000 times.
BOLDUAN: Harry acts like he's exhausted but he gets excited.
ENTEN: I got a lot of energy, folks.
BOLDUAN: Good to see you. Good to see you, man.
ENTEN: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.
On this, joining me now for more on this, CNN Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.
It's great to see you, Jeff.
Let's start with number 19.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: OK.
BOLDUAN: Who is Seth Moulton?
ZELENY: Kate, Seth Moulton is a congressman from Massachusetts. He was elected in 2014 and was one of the several new members of Congress who had military service in the years after 9/11. He was in Iraq four times. He led his Marine units there. So he is someone who is going to be talking about national service a lot. It's something he's been sort of a centerpiece of his time in Congress. He also was one of the House Democrats who tried to challenge Nancy Pelosi. Of course, that did not work out very well, so that's one of the things hanging over him. So he is 40 years old, on the younger side of these candidates. Not the youngest. That's Pete Buttigieg at 37. But he'll be emphasizing his military service as he jumps in. And he'll be in New Hampshire tomorrow, South Carolina and Iowa later this week -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Elizabeth Warren rolled out a new plan on student loans. A huge proposal promising to cancel billions of dollars of student loan debt, expand her promise on free college tuition for everyone. It's like forgiving credit card debt for everyone in the country, plus someone. And that's all ahead of the big CNN young voters' town hall tonight. What is this all about?
ZELENY: Look, she's been continually raising policy ideas more than most other Democrats in the race. She's been putting out full-fledged policy ideas. Boy, this is one of the most significant ones we have heard. We talk about Medicare-for-All, but college student loans, it is a major issue facing so many Americans. Her plan would forgive loans for people making under $100,000, loans of up to $50,000. So this is something that is going to be certainly of interest to a lot of voters out there. This affects -- some 95 percent of all people who hold student loans would be eligible to apply for this. But, Kate, the spending, the price tag, $1.25 trillion for this.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Yes.
ZELENY: So it will be picked apart, but, boy, it is popular.
BOLDUAN: There's now 19 Democrats in the race. And you have new reporting Joe Biden will be number 20. He's going to be joining this week. What are you hearing about his plans now?
ZELENY: He's planning to announce later this week, we're told. I was told this morning, a short time ago, aids to the former vice president are calling around to Iowa legislators. They're say he's getting in soon and expect Joe Biden to visit Iowa next week. That would be his first visit there as a full-fledged candidate. He will be the 20th person jumping in. He's leading in the polls, as Harry was just talking about. This is going to be the biggest test for him. Is he able to maintain that lead, if you will, that edge, as he actually jumps in? So for all the talk for months and months and months about Joe Biden jumping in, Kate, it's almost on the verge of happening in about 48 hours or so, probably on Wednesday, and look for the early state visits coming up after that.
BOLDUAN: Joe Biden saying if he would, he would want to be the last one jumping in. Still, we have to see if he will be the last one.
Good to see you, man. Thank you.
ZELENY: See you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Make sure to join CNN live from New Hampshire for the first major candidate event of the 2020 presidential campaign. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg all on the same stage, back-to-back, for a CNN town hall event you can watch tonight, starting tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
[11:49:28] Coming up for us, the world waits for the royal's royal baby. That's not the royal news though today. Could Harry and Meghan be gearing up for a very big move? More on that, next.
BOLDUAN: They have a baby on the way. The world is waiting for that big announcement. And now, are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle planning a very big move? A British newspaper is reporting that the duke and duchess of Sussex may be planning another big break from royal tradition soon after their baby's arrival. What does this actually mean?
CNN royal correspondent, Max Foster, joins me now. Max, where could they possibly be moving and what is the palace saying
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. So "The Sunday Times" yesterday reported that they could be moving to Africa. And we're getting a series of non-denials, if I can call it that, Kate, from the palaces, so they are not denying that this is true. And it does make sense when you consider Meghan and Harry, and how they are looking to move their roles forward, they're looking to define their roles after they have the baby. The queen has asked them to be involved and really lead on commonwealth issues. Most of the commonwealth countries are in Africa. So Africa might be an interesting place for them to focus on.
But you also consider that it's traditional for senior royals to go off and lie low somewhere, as I call it, that as newlyweds. So the queen and Prince Philip went off to Malta. Prince William and Kate went off to Wales when he was a helicopter pilot. And if Harry was going to go anywhere, it would make sense to go to Africa. He spent time in Africa before his gap year before he went to university. He spends a lot of private time in Botswana, in particular. He's very involved in African conservation issues. He even Instagrammed about that today. So, I think, if he were going to choose to go anywhere, it would be Africa. It won't be a number of years, as the paper suggests, probably a number of months, but an interesting move, nevertheless.
[11:55:15] BOLDUAN: First things first. Get the baby here and then you can decide on where you go next.
BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Max. Thank you.
Coming up for us, a new legal showdown adding fuel to the fire. The president and his sons suing Congress over the House Democrats' demand for his financial records. What do Democrats do now?