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House Democrats Continue To Push For The Answers To Questions Raised In The Mueller Report; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler Says Mueller Will Not Testify Next Week On Capitol Hill; New Escalation In The U.S. Trade War With China. Aired: 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 10, 2019 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The teachers were well intentioned, but she says there was a culture of polarization of school administrators not listening to parents nor teachers.

The school's executive director told CNN that the school found no evidence to support these allegations that were made by the parent. In a statement she said, "Like any school with more than 1,800 students, we receive complaints, all of which we take seriously and investigate promptly."

And that is it for me. NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Brianna, thank you. Hi, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Let's get right to the Breaking News. Breaking News on two fronts in fact, House Democrats continue to push for the answers to questions raised in the Mueller report. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler says Mueller will not testify next week on Capitol Hill.

There had been some expectation that he would show up on May 15th, but that we now know will not happen. Meantime, Chairman Nadler is doubling down on holding Trump associates in contempt if they do not comply with House subpoenas and that still includes former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

So let's start up on Capitol Hill with our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju, and Manu, you just talked to Chairman Nadler. What did he say?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is threatening to hold Don McGahn in contempt if the former White House counsel does not comply with the subpoena that they have issued compelling his appearance by May 21st.

You'll recall, Brooke, that already the White House has instructed him not to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee because according to the White House, they could breach these confidential discussions. Democrats are giving them a chance to come before their committee before holding him in contempt.

But there are a number of other administration officials, other witnesses that Democrats are trying to get cooperation from, but the administration is stonewalling resisting their requests. And now Democrats are considering packaging all these people who are in defiance of their demands, in defiance of their subpoenas and having one floor vote, a series of floor votes against a number of people who could be held in contempt.

That of course includes also the Attorney General Barr who the Judiciary Committee voted to hold in contempt. And Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman warned today that he is thinking about holding Barr in contempt if he does not comply with the House Intelligence Committee subpoena as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you confident that Mueller will come testify?

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): We're waiting. We did subpoena.

RAJU: You did subpoena McGahn?

NADLER: No, no, McGahn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you confident Mueller --

NADLER: If we have to, we will hold him in contempt if he does not obey the subpoena. I assume he will obey the subpoena.

RAJU: Are you prepared to hold him in contempt if he doesn't comply with that subpoena that you issued this week on Bill Barr?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We are considering that and that maybe the course we have to take, but we are making every effort we can to get them to fulfill their legal obligations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So the question is what's next after holding these individuals in contempt? And that's what the subject of a furious debate within the House Democratic Caucus right now. Of course there will be court action on some fronts to try to compel these subpoenas, compel compliance with these subpoenas, but others pushing for more punitive action. All things that they are broaching right now.

But they have not yet settled on a certain thing to go forward with. But one thing, Brooke, that you noted before -- just before -- Nadler making clear that Bob Mueller will not come before the House Judiciary Committee next week.

Adam Schiff also trying to get Mueller to come by to his committee. He told me that Mueller will eventually come. The question is will they get cooperation? Will they eventually have to subpoena the Special Counsel? They are not ruling that out, but they do expect him to eventually testify -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Got it. Not a matter of if, but when. Manu Raju, thank you very much. Let's analyze with CNN legal analyst Elie Hoenig who is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

So Elie, starting with Manu's news, the notion of the Democrats wanting to bundle these contempt citations. Why would that be beneficial?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it says something first of all, that our Congress is now having to shop in bulk for contempt citations, right? You've got potentially McGahn, you've got potentially Barr, you've got potentially Steve Mnuchin over the IRS -- the tax returns.

So here's where we're at, and I think it's a smart move that they do bundle them together. We can't be doing these piecemeal -- all of us -- in Congress and the courts.

There clearly is a strategy here. The Executive Branch, the White House has made clear it is going to just be a straight no on everything. So let's get these all bundled up. Let's get them all through Congress at once. And then let's get them into the courts for everybody's benefit as quickly as expeditiously as efficiently as possible.

BALDWIN: On the Mueller testimony, now no longer for the 15th, what do you think the hold-up is?

HONIG: Not clear. Look, it's the main event, right? And now we know we have to wait a little more, but it's going to happen. All it is going to do, I think is build anticipation. It's like when you go to see Springsteen or like your favorite band, Pearl Jam, and the ticket says 8:00 p.m. performance. You know it's not really going to be 8:00 p.m. You know, you're going to have to --

BALDWIN: But you're sticking it out rain or shine.

HONIG: Yes, and it's going to be all the better when they do take the stage. Look, Mueller is going to be the main event. There's no question about it. And if anything, I think the stakes have been raised with Mueller over what we've seen we've seen the last couple weeks.

[14:05:12] HONIG: I'll give you a couple of examples. Number one, the million dollar question, would you have charged obstruction? Is he trying to tell us in the report, he saw enough for obstruction? Everyone is trying to decode his sort of Riddler-like language.

Well, now he's getting criticized by everybody. Barr criticized him during his testimony last week. The White House criticized him. People on both sides of the aisle have said, "Where does Mueller stand?" Well, let's ask him. Maybe he'll answer. Maybe he'll try to duck, but maybe he'll answer.

BALDWIN: So that would be the main event. But I would argue having Don McGahn sit up there in the hot seat is pretty massive as well. So the date that's been floated out, May 21st. We know he's been subpoenaed. We also know that the White House has told him not to comply with said subpoena. He is now this private citizen. If he abides by the law, is it up to him or to whom is it up to?

HOHIG: It's really not up to McGahn, in the first instance. What the White House is saying is we're invoking executive privilege, and what that means, basically, is that when the President is in office, and he has conversations with his close advisers, certainly McGahn would have qualified when he was White House counsel, in some situations, not all those conversations are private, and they are confidential. They don't come out later.

And so what the White House is saying is, we know you don't work for us now, Don McGahn. He is now a private citizen. But when we had those conversations, they were privileged and so for McGahn, it is really going by the rule of law here. He has got to wait until it goes through the courts.

I think Congress is going to fight back on that. I think it goes to the courts, and I think ultimately, that executive privilege argument will lose in the courts, and I think ultimately, McGahn will have to testify.

BALDWIN: Okay. Elie Honig, thank you so much.

HONIG: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Now to the new escalation in the U.S. trade war with China. Take a look at this friendly goodbye today between Treasury Secretary Steve Menuhin and China's top trade negotiator. And there may have been a handshake. But folks, there was no deal. U.S. officials say they did not expect one today.

So now as Trump has promised, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods just jumped from 10 percent to 25 percent as of midnight. The higher tariffs are impacting items like fish, luggage, baseball gloves, and putting multiple industries at an even tighter financial bind.

Some had grown optimistic that the President would hold back after talks were seemingly progressing, but then word came down that the Chinese were trying to go back on their word on certain negotiating points. And American manufacturers woke up today to a new reality, as one bike maker describes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNOLD KAMLER, BICYCLE MANUFACTURER AND SELLER: We have not made a hard calculation because actually, we thought that talks were going really, really well as of a week ago, it seemed that we were close to a deal. And suddenly we have a crisis.

Bicycles are very price sensitive. If our prices will need to go up, they already went up about 8 percent last year, they probably have to go up about another 8 percent to 12 percent if this thing goes through.

And when bicycle prices go up, sales go down. And so I will try my very best if this thing does stick not to have any layoffs. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: China is now promising to take necessary countermeasures and the Dow, it had been in the red for most of the day. It is off just about 20 points here, two hours to go before that closing bell.

Abby Phillip is our CNN White House correspondent. And so Abby, we know the President tweeted that there is quote, "Absolutely no need to rush these talks." We saw the goodbyes. How is the White House feeling about the trade meeting?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, no rush is not exactly what I think Wall Street and many manufacturers really wanted to hear. But it's a reflection of how President Trump is trying to change the dynamics in these talks.

And part of that strategy is the tariff increase that we saw at midnight last night, putting additional pressure on the Chinese to make good on some of their promises to be at the table on some of these big issues.

As you said things had been going well, until recently until about a week ago when U.S. officials believe that the Chinese were backtracking on some of their agreements. And they weren't even sure if the meetings that occurred yesterday, and today were even going to happen.

There was some doubt that the Chinese negotiators would end up showing up. They did, in fact come to Washington, but there has been no major progress. Officials had signaled yesterday that if there was progress, perhaps President Trump might not have gone forward with these tariffs.

But we're in a place now where these talks have basically broken down and President Trump is upping the pressure on the Chinese basically saying we are more than happy to keep the tariffs on, on you guys for as long as possible until there is a good deal on the table.

But he also seemed to acknowledge that there is real damage being done to some aspects of the U.S. economy, particularly farmers. He suggested that farmers might need to get some help from the government. So it's going to be a tough road ahead for both sides. But these talks today don't seem to have produced any major breakthroughs. We don't get any indication from the White House that President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China spoke at all in the last 24 hours or so.

And those are kind of bad signs because in the past, the two have tried to connect with each other as a way of breaking through some of these log jams. So I think the administration is in a bit of a holding pattern right now. Talks are not called off, but not enough progress was not made to stop this hike in tariffs last night.

[14:10:17] PHILLIP: And we could be seeing more tariffs on the horizon given that President Trump seems pretty eager to keep the pressure up, and frankly, Brooke, he kind of likes tariffs. He doesn't actually think it's a really terrible thing.

So I think that's one of the challenges, you know, facing the folks who are trying to get this deal to really come to fruition here.

BALDWIN: Abby Phillip, thank you very much. And speaking of these tariffs, reportedly, the 25 percent tariffs will not hit goods that left Chinese ports before the midnight deadline, but once the new tariffs do take effect, one analysis shows how much exactly Americans could feel it.

The consulting firm Trade Partnership estimates the entire cost of what the President is doing from the 25 percent tariff to existing taxes on high tech imports from China would eliminate more than 930,000 jobs and raise expenses for the average family of four by nearly $800.00 a year.

Diane Swonk is chief economist for accounting firm, Grant Thornton, Wendy Cutler once served as the Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and is now Vice President of the Asia Society Policy Institute. So two of the smartest ladies I know on all of this are with me now. And so thank goodness for that.

Wendy, let me just start with you here because obviously reading your "Times" piece last night, you made the point that these talks are different to those that have come before and if these negotiations fall, why do you say that there is no going back to the status quo?

WENDY CUTLER, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think just because of the tariffs that are in place, and we're in a very different place with China, if there's no deal, I think we're going to see these tariffs in place for a long time. And those are going to hurt China, but they're also going to hurt the United States.

BALDWIN: But Trump tweeted, and this is -- I'm just going to read part of his tweet, "Tariffs will make our country much stronger, not weaker," Diane, but don't both countries have a lot to lose when you tell me how American consumers will be hit hardest in a full blown trade war.

DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GRANT THORNTON: Well, they are the ones that bear the cost of tariffs, which are taxes on American consumers. And the retaliation as we've already seen has hit farmers. We've seen bankruptcy surge.

So, even as they talk about doing more subsidies to help out farmers, many of the smaller farmers have already been hard hit and that's why you're seeing many of the senators that represent some of these farm states, like Iowa come out against the tariffs because of the pain that is already inflicted from retaliation from China.

And the other issue is collateral damage. This is not just -- we've already saw the slowdown in China at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, showed up from Europe to emerging markets to Japan. And those were the markets that were also hit by the escalation of a trade war -- a full blown trade war. And that's where we're vulnerable is the spillover effects. This is not the Japan-U.S. trade war, where Japan, when they had a

trade war with us had very limited impact on the rest of the world. It actually is something where the tentacles of China are in nearly every other economy out there. And so the spillover effects are quite dramatic and come back to haunt us.

This is not something that's a one off. It's something that accumulates over time. And remember, the administration has not lifted a tariff that it has levied so far, even in places where we've come to a trade agreement, like Mexico, a tentative agreement, like Mexico or Canada, and is threatening more tariffs.

And so there is a sense out there that there's no winning in negotiating with us on these bilateral trade agreements.

BALDWIN: So with that, said, Wendy, two for you really; one, then why is the market just even up a smidge right now and to if this has been, you know, part of the deal negotiating, we saw the President yesterday boasting about the big, beautiful letter from President Xi. What happens if China totally walks away from the table?

CUTLER: Well, if China walks away from the table, we're not going to get the market opening that we've achieved in these talks already, and let me just say a lot of progress has been achieved in these talks.

As of a week ago, we just have a handful of issues left. But now the landscape is a lot more complicated.

In terms of the markets, I think something that was said in the introduction to this piece needs to be kept in mind. And that is, the new tariff increases have been applied to goods that are on the water now, so they haven't entered the United States.

So to factor, there's a couple more weeks before these goods will enter the U.S. Customs territory and subject to these high tariffs. So maybe the markets feel that there's a little more time for this deal to be made.

And finally, I would just say --

BALDWIN: Is more time? May I just follow up? Is there more time for the deal to be made?

CUTLER: I think so, I think you know, there are a few more weeks because we won't be feeling the impact of this new tariff increase. I also think that China now has a lot of -- you know Liu He has got to go home and have some serious talks with Xi Jinping and in the rest of the leaders in China to figure out how they want to proceed. Do they want to impose countermeasures now and really up the ante? Or do they want to find a way to reach a deal recognizing that a lot of the things we're asking China to do are in China's interest?

[14:15:17] BALDWIN: Diane, you had made the point that, you know, much of what we're talking about is no longer produced here. So why can't we just buy and make everything in the U.S. as a President has tweeted? SWONK: Well that's the real issue is that the kind of investment it

would take, the kind of time and lag to actually produce these things here again, and the cost would mean automated and not a lot of jobs generated.

So we would have a big hit nonetheless, even if we tried to bring it all back. So that's not a realistic way to think about things. And I want to make one other point that I think is really important here is, the last part of this, although it may be in China's interest economically, it may not be Xi's interest in how he has consolidated power.

And what I worry about is that we are going to see, because it is a bilateral agreement, the rest of the world agrees with us. They don't like how China does business and because it's bilateral, the chances of them breaking the agreement in some way down the road, I think are very high, given how Xi has consolidate power. And what I worry about out there is that this sort of entrenches us in trade wars going forward, because the only enforcement mechanism is tariffs instead of a multilateral approach, where we'd have the pressure of our peer group.

But that issue on how long it would take to bring production back and what it would look like even if it did in the interim, would be quite costly to the U.S. economy.

BALDWIN: Which we don't want at all. Diane Swonk, Wendy Cutler. Ladies, thank you so much.

CUTLER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Vice President Joe Biden surging in a new poll. What does it mean for the rest of the Democratic field, including Senator Bernie Sanders? Plus, Rudy Giuliani says he is going to visit a foreign government to ask them to open investigations connected to Biden. So what is going on here?

And a mother who warned of another Columbine at that Colorado School that just suffered a deadly shooting this week is now speaking to CNN. You will hear her own words ahead. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:22:05] BALDWIN: Next week, Joe Biden takes his third bid for the White House to the place that is home to the nation's first primary, New Hampshire. And the two-day swing comes as this this new Monmouth poll shows the former Vice President is a clear favorite among the States' Democrats. In fact, it is not even close.

Biden sits atop the survey at 36 percent. That is double his closest competitor, Senator Bernie Sanders who sits in second place with 18 percent. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kamala Harris, round out the top five.

But in another key state, Pennsylvania where Biden was born, the views on the former Vice President are actually a bit mixed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: How many of you think that Joe Biden being from Pennsylvania will make a difference to Pennsylvania voters?

PAT FLANNIGAN, DEMOCRATIC VOTER IN PENNSYLVANIA: I don't think Pennsylvania claims Joe Biden. Like we don't go like, "Oh, he's our boy." I mean, I don't know of any connections there that says we're going to vote for him because he is from Pennsylvania.

ALEX LUDY, DEMOCRATIC VOTER IN PENNSYLVANIA: Especially for like young people like me. I have no like real long emotional ties to Joe Biden.

JESSICA WOLFE, DEMOCRATIC VOTER IN PENNSYLVANIA: I worked for the Obama campaign. I have a lot of positive feelings towards the Obama- Biden years. I feel like everybody says, "Oh, we need to go forward. We don't want to go back." I want to go back. I want to go back to those eight years. I think that those eight years were some of the best eight years that we've ever had as a country. And so I feel like when you're scared -- and I'm scared -- and when you're worried you want to go home. And to me, Joe Biden is home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: David Axelrod is a former senior adviser to President Obama, host of the CNN, "The Axe Files." So David, always a pleasure.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, there.

BALDWIN: Biden has referred to himself recently as an Obama-Biden Democrat. My question to you is, do you think nostalgia or perhaps relying on nostalgia is a double-edged sword this go around?

AXELROD: You know, not in the Democratic primaries. I'm not sure that it gets you all the way there. But there are other elements of Biden that that could. He is seen as someone who would be a strong opponent, for President Trump. And in this New Hampshire poll, you can understand the reasons why he does very well, among older voters. He does very well among working class voters.

You know, he cuts right into those categories of voter that we're aware Donald Trump won the presidency, particularly in those northern industrial states, Midwest, industrial states.

So that is real. The association with Obama helps him where it really helps the most is with African-American voters. There aren't many in New Hampshire, but nationally, he's at 50 percent among African- American voters. I don't think anybody else is even in double digits.

And so the association is really helping him there, when he gets to South Carolina, where 55 percent of the vote is African-American that could prove to be a big advantage.

[14:25:11] BALDWIN: So he is posting the strong numbers there. But here's a but -- his handling of the Anita Hill, you know, during the Clarence Thomas hearings continues to loom over this campaign.

Just this past Tuesday, Dr. Biden, his wife, told NPR and I'm just paraphrasing here that he has called Anita Hill. He has apologized. It's kind of it's time to move on. Yesterday, Professor Hill wrote a column in "The New York Times," and she wrote this, "If the Senate Judiciary Committee led then by Mr. Biden had done its job and held a hearing that showed that its members understood the seriousness of sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence, the cultural shift we saw in 2017, after #MeToo might have began in 1991 -- with the support of the government."

So David, how do you grade Biden's response on this, if you were advising them? How should they -- what should they say?

AXELROD: Well, I thought he should have been more overt about apologizing for the way he conducted those hearings. You know, I sat down the other day with Janet Napolitano who you know, in different incarnations, former Homeland Security Secretary. She was the lawyer for Anita Hill in 1991, and she said, "Look, those hearings were a mess."

And she cut Biden, some slack, but not all that much. And she said, he needs to do more, and he probably just needs to do more. One of the advantages of Joe Biden is that he has got a long record that -- and people know him. The other the challenge for Joe Biden is that he has got a long record that people will take issue with.

And so we should note, whatever the polls say, we're at mile marker four of a marathon. He sprinted out in front here. He is going to have to work hard to stay there.

BALDWIN: How about somebody else who is sprinting along, though, a bit farther behind, Senator Cory Booker? You talked to Senator Booker. He struggled in the polls. He is coming in at you know, 2 percent in the Monmouth survey, I noted off the top. He opened up about his new gun control proposal, and why the issue is so important. We'll watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, when I'm President of the United States, I'm taking a fight to this issue, like folks will have never seen before because we're better than this as a country.

It's a uniquely American problem. No other country has this kind of carnage, more people in my lifetime have died in this nation due to gun violence than in all the wars and the Revolutionary War than now. We are not going to give thoughts and prayers, which to me is just [bleep]. I'm sorry to say that as a man of faith, but I was taught that faith without works is dead.

We're going to bring a fight with everything that I have to solve this problem, because it is solvable and we know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: So he says he is bringing on a fight, you know, that no one

has ever seen before. But he's not alone. Eric Swalwell made it a key theme for his campaign. Beto O'Rourke said it's a part of Booker plan that calls for Federal license to buy or own guns goes too far noting that he comes from a very proud gun owning state.

David, it may resonate in the primary, but how will tough stances on guns like that play in the general election?

AXELROD: Well, it depends where the country you are. In metropolitan areas and suburban areas, probably very well; and in some of these rural areas, not as well.

But you know, one thing about Booker is that he lives in the inner city of Newark. He has lived there for 20 years. Gun violence doesn't just come episodically there in the form of mass shootings. They're a frequent occurrence. And so when he speaks about this, there is this genuine body of passion and urgency that he brings. And that could be very important for him if he has to go anywhere in this primary campaign.

BALDWIN: David Axelrod, thank you very much. Let me remind everyone to tune in to the next "Axe Files," Senator Cory Booker joining David Axelrod to discuss the message behind his presidential bid. His key take on key issues, from climate to criminal justice and how his experience as a mayor prepared him for this 2020 race. It airs tomorrow night at seven o'clock Eastern right here on CNN.

Senator Elizabeth Warren lands smack dab on the cover of "Time" magazine to spread the word on her new slogan, "I have a plan for that." Why Warren believes America is ready for her big ideas.

But first, why is Rudy Giuliani going to the Ukraine to call for an investigation into Joe Biden?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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