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Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) is Interviewed about Impeachment; Trump and Sons Sue Congress; Police Search for Missing Illinois Boy; Biden to Enter 2020 Race. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired April 22, 2019 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:30:00] REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): And then he gives us more. He gives us 14 other criminal prosecutions that he had to refer out because they were beyond the scope of his report.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
SCANLON: In the report, 12 of them are redacted. So we don't even know what those are.
SCANLON: And then, beyond that, he lays out the fact that the president did not cooperate with providing him information. He -- the president refused to answer any questions regarding obstruction of justice. And the answers he did give, the special prosecutor said were unsatisfactory.
HARLOW: So your -- the chair of you committee, the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, said yesterday, quote, if proven, some of the instances laid out by Mueller would be impeachable. Do you agree with him? And, if so, which -- which ones, if proven, would be impeachable in your mind?
SCANLON: Well, certainly if we look to the historical record, instances of making misleading statements to the American people, counseling people to give false testimony or mislead investigators or create records that were not factually true, all those things have been found to be impeachable offenses in the past.
HARLOW: Well, let me just stick on that first point you said. You said misleading the American people. I mean does that rise to high crimes and misdemeanors in your book? Why -- I mean the fact that the president lies to the public?
SCANLON: Well, it certainly was one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon.
HARLOW: So that's the bar for you. OK.
So let's talk about this call --
SCANLON: Well, historically --
HARLOW: Yes, yes.
SCANLON: Historically that has been the bar.
HARLOW: I -- I hear you.
SCANLON: Impeachment is both a factual and a political calculation. So, yes.
HARLOW: And, look, and it's -- it's your committee, the House Judiciary Committee, where impeachment proceedings would begin.
This call today, you know, you know where Democratic leadership stands. They're sort of in your camp on, we need to know more before we push for impeachment. But then you have Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley or Rashida Tlaib or Senator Elizabeth Warren, 2020 contender, who are saying, impeach right now.
Are they misguided?
SCANLON: I don't know they're misguided. I think we have 435 members of Congress who are going to be making different judgments.
I do think that anyone who's questioning the need for oversight hasn't read the report because the report clearly lays out that there are serious, serious concerns about whether or not this president intended to obstruct justice and undermine the rule of law.
HARLOW: Here -- here is why I ask --
HARLOW: Because you're saying, hold on, we need to do more work. We have a roadmap. Let's do that. They're saying, nope, we know enough now in Mueller and his team. Let's go now.
Do you think they're misguided in terms of how quickly they would like to see articles of impeachment brought?
SCANLON: Look, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, I know we have a job to do and we have to get this right. Impeachment is an incredibly serious constitutional activity. So we cannot rush into this. We need to make sure that we have all of the information and that we do it -- do whatever we do, do our oversight in a responsible manner.
HARLOW: Do -- so you have -- Bill Barr is coming to testify May 2nd, next week, next Thursday, before your committee. What's the most important question you're going to ask him?
SCANLON: Well, I think we need to know more about why he made the judgment that he was not going to recommend charges here. If it's the same reason as Mueller, that makes it pretty simple. If the reason he said there's nothing chargeable here is because the Department of Justice says you can't charge a sitting president, well, that's a very different issue than if he thinks there's actually some vindication here. HARLOW: Do you think the special counsel did a good job?
SCANLON: I think the special counsel did an excellent job. He was calm. He was extremely detailed. He followed the evidence where it led. When it didn't lead someplace, he told us. He parsed out very, very detailed reasons for his actions and his findings. The problem is, the special counsel's report isn't tweetable. It's a very dense, very legal document --
SCANLON: And people need to read it.
SCANLON: They can't rely upon someone else's summary.
HARLOW: Yes. Look, you point to an important -- a very important paragraph on page two of volume two about, you know, about Mueller outlining why he didn't make that decision on obstruction. That will be a key line of questioning for sure.
A few more thoughts from you.
You know, now we've seen how an independent counsel has operated, Ken Starr, for example, during Whitewater, and how a special counsel has operated, Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors, which reports -- you know, it's more political reports in terms of having to report to the attorney general. It's not fully independent in terms of separate.
Which do you think is more effective for the American people?
SCANLON: That's -- that's a tough one. I mean we end up in this situation where we're always trying to address the last special counsel and what went well. I mean there was concern with the Starr report that too much was released, it became too political.
SCANLON: AND Now on this one we're concerned about not enough being released. So, that's sometimes where the legislation plays catchup.
[09:35:05] HARLOW: So what do -- what do you prefer? What's your call?
SCANLON: Well, I think that the attorney general now, Attorney General Barr, has not released to Congress what he's required to release. I mean there is a distinction between what gets released to the public, because of national security concerns or ongoing criminal justice proceedings, but that's a very different calculation than what gets released to Congress, which has a job to do and which needs that information in order to exercise its constitutional responsibility on oversight. So, you know, we may still be OK with the current construct, but, you know, there has to be more transparency with respect to what Congress gets to see.
HARLOW: You know I ask because it was Congress that allowed the independent, you know, counsel statute to lapse in 1999. And that's why we have special counsel now.
OK, before we go, let me get you on some breaking news.
HARLOW: You may not have had a chance to read it because it just crossed just moments ago. But "The Washington Post" this morning is now reporting that the president and his businesses are suing House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to stop the use of a subpoena to get the president's financial records. We know that Mueller and his team did not go into the president's finances.
What's your reaction to that reporting?
SCANLON: That's a classic Trump maneuver. That's what he's done whenever he's been accused of misconduct, he's turned around and sued whosever accused him of misconduct or threatened to sue them. And we know that he does this all the time. He -- he's a lot of buster. And, in the end, did those suits go anywhere? No. He ends up withdrawing, he ends up settling because there's nothing to them.
HARLOW: Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, I appreciate your time this morning. Join us again and we'll be watching, of course, Barr's testimony next week. Thanks.
OK, again, "The Washington Post" reporting here that the president and his businesses planning to sue Elijah Cummings, the House Oversight Committee chairman, for the subpoenas into the president's finances.
On the other side of the break, we will be joined by Manu Raju on The Hill. We'll get a little bit more on that.
Meantime, this disturbing story out of Illinois. New developments in the search for a missing five-year-old boy. Police are now looking at the boy's home. We'll update you on that.
[09:41:41] HARLOW: All right, some really significant breaking news just a few moments ago. The president and his businesses are suing the House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to stop the use of a subpoena of the president's financial records.
Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill with more.
So they're suing Elijah Cummings, who has the subpoena power as chair of the committee and they're also suing someone else, a lawyer for the committee?
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lawyer for the committee are named as defendants in this lawsuit from the Trump Organization. This stems from testimony by -- from Michael Cohen when he came before the committee and alleged that the president, when he was a candidate, an individual, inflated his net worth in an effort to try to buy the Buffalo Bills football team, something that could potentially be illegal. Well, Elijah Cummings then went to the accounting firm that the
president had been working with, the firm Mazars and asked for roughly ten years of the president's financial statements.
Now, in the aftermath of that request, Mazars said they'd only comply if Cummings turned around and issued a subpoena. He did do that. And then the Trump Organization said that the company should not comply.
Now, the latest development, just moments ago, in federal district court here in the District of Columbia, the Trump Organization sued to prevent that accounting firm from moving forward with providing -- with this subpoena request, saying that the subpoena, in the view of the Trump Organization, exceeds constitutional limits. And one passage here, Poppy, says, because Cummings' subpoena to Mazars threatens to expose -- threatens to expose the plaintiff's confidential information and lacks a legitimate legislative purpose, the court has the power to declare it invalid and to enjoin its enforcement. So a real ratcheting up of the fight between House Democrats and the White House over a number of these oversight requests, including over the president's finances.
HARLOW: All right, it's significant, it's fascinating. I wonder if there is any precedent for this. We'll try to get our legal minds on that.
Manu, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.
This morning, to Illinois, and a new twist in the investigation of this missing five-year-old little boy there. Police say they're now turning their focus to the residents that Andrew, known as AJ, Freund, there he is, that he was living in. And investigators say it's unlikely that AJ was abducted, nor do they believe that he just walked away from his home.
Let's go to Ryan Young. He joins us this morning live with the details.
Oh, such a troubling story. What can you tell us?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A troubling story and what a great smile that young man has.
Still no sign of the missing five-year-old who was reported missing from his home last week. From what we're told, investigators are now focusing on that home. That's especially after looking at some of the evidence that they have.
Now, they believe -- investigators say they're putting special focus on the boy's family home after determining it's likely he neither was abducted or walked away. The boy's parents reported AJ Freund missing Thursday morning. They told police the last time they saw AJ was about 9:00 p.m. at bedtime, according to a release by the Crystal Lake Police Department.
Now, there's all these questions about this, but what we do know right now is the boy's mother has stopped talking with police.
Listen to her talking about this case right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOANN CUNNINGHAM, MISSING BOY'S MOTHER: Trying to hold it together. I just want my kids. That's all I have. That's my life. They're my kids.
ANDREW FREUND SR., MISSING BOY'S FATHER: We're all just doing whatever we can at this point.
I have no control over what people think. I just want my son to come home OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[09:45:00] YOUNG: Now, Poppy, as you can understand, people in that community are kind of focusing on what's going on in that house.
What we do know is that apparently the Department of Children Services has been involved with this young man since he was born. In fact, at one point he was taken away. Then he was brought back to the home. The father is actually walking through his own neighborhood at this point trying to see if he can find his son on his own.
Fifteen agencies have been involved in this. There's a lake nearby. They've done sonar through that lake. They used canine units as well to try to find the young man. But so far, no sign.
Now, I can tell you, there's a big focus on the next 24 hours or so because police say they plan to give an update, but there are lots of questions surrounding this case right now, Poppy.
HARLOW: Wow. As you said, his smile -- that little boy's smile says everything.
Ryan Young, please keep us posted on that.
All right, to politics. A big night. A CNN town hall event. Five Democratic presidential candidates all on the same stage in New Hampshire. Next, we will talk to an advisory to four presidents about what can make these folks stand out.
[09:50:25] HARLOW: All right, it might be the worst kept secret in politics. Sources tell CNN this morning the former vice president, Joe Biden, is running. That he will finally launch his race officially this week, starting with a campaign video and then a round of kickoff events.
Can he win out over a crowded Democratic field which grew to 19 candidates this morning when Congressman Seth Moulton joined the race? A new poll shows there's interest -- the interest is there. Voters are about as excited now for the 2020 election as they were in the closing days of the 2016 election. Our senior political analyst David Gergen is with me, former adviser
to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton.
Good morning to you, sir.
I'm so interested in these numbers, David. You have this Fox News poll, 52 percent of voters said they were extremely interested in the 2020 race. That's compared to 54 percent who said the same thing in the closing days of the 2016 election.
What do you make of that?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that the level of excitement are high for both races. And it's become particularly important because the younger generation now, represented by millennials and generation z, as they're called --
GERGEN: Will represent over a third of all voters in 2020. They're going to be a new, powerful force in American politics. They tend to lean left. They tend to vote Democratic.
But there is a new survey out now in preparation for the CNN town hall tonight in New Hampshire --
GERGEN: Which brings together five leading candidates. There's a poll that's been done by the Institute of Politics here at Harvard, which is a co-partner with CNN for tonight, and it finds that the millennials and generation z are expressing a high degree of anxiety about life. And for the first time our politics seem to be disturbing their mental health.
GERGEN: They also, as you might imagine, put environment way up there at the top. They're very concerned about the moral direction of the country. They don't trust people running our politics today, especially baby boomers.
But this whole notion that our politics are beginning to disturb -- you know, becoming a problem for mental health for the young, that's new and it's something we ought to be thinking about hard.
HARLOW: That is.
HARLOW: It's really significant, David. I'm glad you brought it to my attention.
Let me ask you about this polling, the latest Harvard poll. It shows Bernie Sanders is the most popular with young folks, 18 to 29 years old, 31 percent for him, while former Vice President Joe Biden comes in second there at 20 percent support.
But also look at -- guys, if we can throw that back up. What's really interesting to me about Sanders is he's got that 31 percent now. Look at back in early 2015, David. OK, he -- you know, he's been a senator, he's been in Congress for a long time, but he was polling at 2 percent. Wow.
HARLOW: I mean what gives him an edge so early on?
GERGEN: Well, he is -- you know, he's the contrarian in this race. He's run, you know, well to the left, a proclaimed socialist. And that attracts the -- many in the young who would like to see more dramatic change. You know, people -- when you're young, you're very impatient. You think the world ought to move quickly. It's a mess. And that's especially felt by millennials today. And Bernie carries that torch for them.
It's really consequential, Poppy, because if Joe Biden falters at all, Bernie is really strong and would become the frontrunner. That would have seemed unlikely, you know, just a few years ago. Very unlikely.
GERGEN: But he's put himself in a position where he carries that torch for the younger generation.
HARLOW: So you've advised four presidents. If you were advising former Vice President Joe Biden, who's going to get in this week, he's going to have this video and then he's going to do a series of events, what would your long game advice be for Joe Biden, to get in this thing, to lead the pack, and to win?
GERGEN: I think it very much ought to be that he wants to run to heal the nation. He wants to -- he's got the age, the experience, the relationships. He knows how politics was once played, how it was once respected, and he wants to restore the politics of -- that pleases -- that sets a good moral tone for the country, something we just heard youth disagree with.
GERGEN: But I would do one more thing, Poppy.
HARLOW: Yes, sure.
GERGEN: I know this is controversial. I know it seems outlandish. But I think he would be well advised to say, you know, I'm in my mid-70s now. I think it's appropriate that I run for one term. I want to run and try to bring the country together. I want to run on a more bipartisan basis. A more bipartisan government. I -- you know, I want to take time out from all the partisan bickering and see if we can pull ourselves together --
HARLOW: Right. GERGEN: And I'm going to do that in one term and then I'm going to step aside and let -- the fights will continue then.
[09:55:09] I've wondered that about him for a long time, right, because then he could say, I am -- elect me, I will govern to govern, and not to win again.
HARLOW: But I don't know if he'll do it.
GERGEN: Yes, exactly, not spend my whole time running for re-election.
HARLOW: Yes. All right, we've got to go.
David Gergen, appreciate the time, as always. Thank you so much.
GERGEN: Thanks, Poppy.
HARLOW: So join us live from New Hampshire tonight for our CNN town hall event. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg on the same stage tonight, starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, only right here.
We're following breaking news. Of course that horrific attack across Sri Lanka and we're learning that ISIS may have inspired the group thought to be behind the deadly coordinated bombings on Easter Sunday.
We'll be right back.