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White House Swamped with Deadlines and Subpoenas; U.S Hikes Tariff and China Vows to Retaliate; Stepfather in the Maleah Davis Case Might be Charged with Murder; Elie Honig Answers Legal Questions in "Cross Exam"; American Airlines Pilot Arrested; United Shades of America Episode on Hmong Americans; "Mod Squad" and "Twin Peaks" Star Passes Away; 187 Nation Agreement to Limit Plastic Waste Trade. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 12, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: You are live in the "CNN Newsroom," wishing you a Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers out there. I am Alex Marquardt in this afternoon for Ana Cabrera here in New York.
Now, it all begins in just a few hours, a new work week in Washington with the fighters coming out from their corners -- the president and his White House versus the Democrats and their house on Capitol Hill.
Deadline, subpoenas and the president pushing back on probes coming at him from literally 20 different directions. Here is just a sample. His taxes, a powerful house committee chairman has formally issued a subpoena for President Trump's tax returns. It's the strongest official demanding yet for papers that Trump has so far refused to give up.
If nothing happens in a couple days, the speaker of the house could get involved. The attorney general, the House Judiciary Committee, voting to recommend that Congress hold him in contempt over the release of the full Mueller report. It might come up with contempt charges for other administration officials this week and issue them all at once in a package.
What about Robert Mueller? Will he ever testify before Congress? Judiciary officials say yes, not this week, but they are working on a date. President Trump either doesn't want Mueller to testify or doesn't care. His position on the subject has changed several times.
And look at all of these Democrat-led investigations. You have to read quickly, there are at least 20 of them. And the White House is actively resisting on every single one. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House. Jeremy, a lot of things on the president's plate, kind of all over the place, but it really is all happening at the same time, in the same week. What will the White House's priorities be come Monday morning?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well Alex, it's been several weeks now since the president vowed to fight all subpoenas, and we're very much seeing that continue to play out. And this week we will have a pair of some key dates here in this ongoing battle between the White House and Capitol Hill.
On Tuesday, we're expecting a federal judge to rule in this case of this subpoena from the House Oversight Committee requesting the president's financial records from an accounting firm. And then Friday, at the end of the week, we will see the deadline for that subpoena issued by the House Ways and Means Committee to the Treasury Department and the IRS.
As of now, we don't expect any change in the administration's posture on either of those issues. And as you mentioned, there are more than 20 investigations now by House Democrats that the White House is either refusing to comply with or stonewalling some way or another.
The White House's position though remains firm. And in a statement from White House deputy press secretary Steve Groves, this is what we're hearing from the White House. "There are rules and norms governing congressional oversight of the executive branch, and the Democrats simply refuse to abide by them. This White House will not and cannot comply with unlawful demands made by increasingly unhinged and politically motivated Democrats."
As for Democrats, as you mentioned, they are still figuring out how to handle the administration's stonewalling on these various investigations. They're considering these contempt charges perhaps not only for the attorney general Bill Bar, but for other administration officials in some of those 20 plus probes that we were discussing, Alex.
MARQUARDT: All right, a big week ahead. Jeremy Diamond, thanks. So here we are, 18 months until the election and President Trump is getting a lift from the economy. Congressional Democrats meanwhile continue to push for the full unredacted Mueller report. And who knows how many more investigations into the Trump administration as well as his family.
Ken Vogel is a reporter with "The New York Times" and Daniel Lippman is the White House reporter for "Politico." Guys, thanks so much for joining me this afternoon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pleasure.
MARQUARDT: All right, well, we got a lot to get to. So first to you Ken, are the Democrats right, do you think to keep battling the president as well as his allies with subpoenas and the like and as we've heard repeatedly from them, declaring a constitutional crisis or do you think they need to shift their focus?
KENNETH VOGEL, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, this is traditional congressional oversight of the executive branch. And so to that end, it is expected when you have a chamber of the Congress controlled by one party and the president of another party.
That said, it also does play well politically. It's something that Democrats can give to their base, which is very motivated by their (inaudible) towards President Trump. A lot of people, a lot of sort of activist in the base actually are clamoring for impeachment. This is something short of that.
[17:04:55] Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, obviously has said some things that suggest that she is not in favor of pushing forward aggressively with impeachment. So this type of oversight and these types of fights about with the White House about oversight are the types of things that one could be -- that sort of are expected headed into an election season. It makes sense politically for Democrats.
MARQUARDT: Right. Daniel, you actually got to speak with the president the other day. You sat down in an interview with him and among many other topics, he talked about Vice President Joe Biden who of course is leading the Democratic fields.
The president said that Biden's candidacy kind of reminded him of his own candidacy back in 2016. Given the amount of time that the president has talked about Biden, what does that tell you whether he fears him in 2020?
DANIEL LIPPMAN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: I think he definitely fears him, that's based on interviews I have with Trump advisers and people who worked on his campaign because Biden is very popular in those Midwestern states that are critical in 2016 for the president.
This is a guy from Scranton, Pennsylvania. And you have a huge field that Trump beat in 2016. You have the huge field of Democrats this time. It's so early in the process that President Trump might be predicting a little too in advance of that.
And that may also be one reason why he raised heckles on the left because he said it would be appropriate for him to talk to with Attorney General Bill Barr about potentially investigating Joe Biden and Hunter Biden for business deals in Ukraine. And clearly, the presidents of the United States should not be instructing the Justice Department to investigate their potential political opponents.
MARQUARDT: And we are gentlemen, also seeing new polling this week out of New Hampshire, which of course is the second primary state. It is good news as you can see there for Joe Biden. He is the clear front-runner, leading Bernie Sanders by double. He has got around 36 percent of the vote among registered Democrats.
But if we look a little bit closer at these numbers, we see that two- thirds are saying that finding a Democratic nominee who can beat Donald Trump is more important than agreeing with them on all of the issues. So Ken, what does that tell us about what Democratic voters are going to be looking for in the next 18 months?
VOGEL: Well, it tells us that there's something of a divide in the party and we know that there's a divide ideologically, and that is between the more sort of aggressive liberal activists, populous on the left who favor Medicare for all and free college tuition, stuff like that, that we hear from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
And those who are sort of more centrist out of the Hillary Clinton camp of the party. Biden probably falls somewhere in the middle of that, but we also see this divide between those who want to sort of push the party to embrace those liberal values and those who see electability as really the key point upon which they're going to decide their vote in the primaries.
And, you know, Joe Biden could potentially check both those boxes but, you know, the primaries are base turnout elections and so it sort of remains to be seen whether the folks who were saying that electability is their number one -- the criteria that they're sort of seizing most on, will actually turn out and drive the results in these primary elections.
MARQUARDT: It is, of course, very early days. We have seen a lot of seesawing, Beto O'Rourke for example, came strong out of the gate raising $6 million in his first 24 hours. Now we've seen him tanking in the polls. And Daniel, do you think that that's evidence of what we were just talking about, that essentially Democratic voters are gravitating towards anybody who they think can defeat Donald Trump?
LIPPMAN: I don't think the Democratic electorate has said Beto is not electable in 2020. But I think you are seeing a flavor of the month, you know, period in this primary. It was Mayor Pete's chance. Now he is, you know, seems that there's less buzz about him, although President Trump gave him a new nickname of Alfred E. Newman in my "Politico" interview.
LIPPMAN: And so I think people, you know, primary voters are still deciding. It's so early. Most of them haven't actually seen the candidates up close and so they want to get a sense of -- is this person electable and will this person be a good president in 2020.
MARQUARDT: Ken, you wrote about Rudy Giuliani cancelling his trip to Ukraine. He was going there, he said, to essentially dig up dirt on Joe Biden. And then he made an about face on Friday night saying that in the end, he is not going to be going. What do you know about that 180?
VOGEL: Well, we know that whether he goes or not, he sort of expressed something that I think is potentially significant and potentially problematic, which is that the president of the United States for whom Rudy Giuliani of course, is a personal attorney and not representing the government.
[17:10:03] Nonetheless, that the president of the United States would like to see the incoming Ukrainian government, there's a new Ukrainian president that takes office in June. Pursue these investigations into matters that could potentially were down to Donald Trump's political benefit.
And that is sort of a dangerous precedent to set when you are suggesting that you are essentially meddling in the affairs of a foreign country. It is suggesting that you would like them to do something that benefits the U.S. president personally or politically. It kind of blurs the line between the president's politics and his foreign policy and his administration's foreign policy in a way that evokes a little bit some of what we see in countries like Ukraine, former Soviet countries where the judicial systems are routinely used to punish rivals of the ruling regime.
MARQUARDT: Right. Daniel, your thoughts.
LIPPMAN: Well, I think it's just as kind of an indicator about why President Trump has not signed any pledge that those Democratic candidates have signed in terms of not accepting foreign help in an election or using what a foreign government, you know, digs up.
That may be one reason why President Trump doesn't show any interest in actually doing that. And he says that, you know, foreign countries -- kind of the message that they can do whatever they want.
MARQUARDT: Right. Right. All right, gents, we have to leave it there. Daniel Lippman, Ken Vogel, thanks so much for joining me.
LIPPMAN: Thank you.
VOGEL: Thanks Alex.
MARQUARDT: All right, well, the president has been claiming that his new tariffs on China will be "good for the country" but his top economic adviser admits that it's actually American taxpayers who will end up paying the higher costs. How will both China and the U.S. be affected? That's next.
[17:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARQUARDT: President Trump has long insisted other countries pay for tariffs. But this weekend, his administration finally admits that's not how tariffs work. Here's Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: It's not China that pays tariffs. It's the American importers, the American companies that pay what in effect is a tax increase and often times passes it on to U.S. consumers.
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Fair enough, in fact, both sides will pay. Both sides will pay in these things, and of course, it depends --
WALLACE: If it's a tariff on goods coming into the country, the Chinese aren't paying?
KUDLOW: No, but the Chinese will suffer GDP losses and so forth with respect to a diminishing export market and goods that they may need for their own --
WALLACE: I understand that, but the president says China doesn't -- China, it pays the tariffs, they may suffer consequences, but its U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers who pay, correct?
KUDLOW: Yes, to some extent. I Don't disagree with that. Again, both sides will suffer on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: Both sides are going to suffer on this, Larry Kudlow says. Now again, the president has repeatedly claimed that China is the one paying the tariffs, even last night tweeting, "love collecting big tariffs" there in all caps.
So, what are the chances that you are going to love this? On average, when we break this down, a family of four can expect to spend almost $800 more a year. And the U.S. Chamber of commerce says that the tariffs will threaten more than 2 1/2 million jobs.
Here is an example of some of the 5,000 products subject to the new tariffs. Fish like tuna, trout, salmon and shrimp. Other produce including eggs, nuts, vegetables, fruits and spices as well as processed foods like peanut butter, and jelly and juices.
Building materials such as roof shingles, plywood, pipes, carpeting and wood flooring. Then there are the natural products like granite and marble. Electronics including computers and televisions. Chemicals like pesticides, chlorine and rat poison. And then every day products such as toilet paper, writing paper, make up, dog and cat food and clothes.
Here in New York, one bike shop in Brooklyn says, "It was already feeling the pain when the tariffs were just at 10 percent. Now that they've been jacked up to 25, it's expected to only get worse." Here's CNN's Polo Sandoval.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Step inside Ryan Zagata's New York City showroom and you'll see the unintended consequences of a trade war.
RYAN ZAGATA, OWNER, THE BROOKLYN BICYCLE COMPANY: With this new tariff, it's inevitable we're going to have to increase the price on this model.
SANDOVAL: Like many if America's small to medium-sized businesses, the Brooklyn Bicycle Company is already dealing with the burden of increased Chinese import tariffs. These bikes are assembled in China, using foreign made components to keep the costs down for the consumer. In September, the Trump administration's 10 percent tariff hike on nearly $200 billion on Chinese goods forced Zagata to raise some prices.
ZAGATA: This has been one of our most popular bicycles. It was a $449 bike last summer. It's now $499.
SANDOVAL: Then on Friday, the White House announced that 10 percent will increase to 25. A change that will result in yet another price hike on the showroom floor.
ZAGATA: For every $100 we spend on bicycles, $5.50 we pay in duties. Since September, we'd been paying an extra $10. Now, we are at $15.50. With this addition tariff, now it's another $15. We're talking $30.50 for every single bicycle we import on $100, not for every bike. Every $100 we spend, $30.50. So, on a $200, our cost to factories is $200, it is $61 that we're paying in duties to the government.
SANDOVAL: Zagata says, that means some of his customers will be paying more for the same bike.
ZAGATA: It's difficult for me, I can't call my customer and say, guess what, you're getting a better wheel set, you are getting better grips and this luxurious leather saddle. That's not what you're getting. Effectively, this money is going to the government.
SANDOVAL: It's been a rough ride for many business owners since President Trump waged his trade war with China. Zagata blames the uncertainty that comes with trade negotiations.
ZAGATA: It's not difficult for us as a business to decide what to do. We've built financial models that we can punch in these variables, we go and see what the scenario is and then the model effectively will spit out, this is what you need to do.
The challenge with the models now is, we're missing one main variable. We Don't know what the final duty is going to be with these trade talks still ongoing.
SANDOVAL: There is some optimism coming from the president who on Friday took to twitter saying, tariffs will make the country "Much stronger. Just sit back and watch." That may be hard to do for some U.S. importers with China now vowing to hit back after Friday's tariff hike.
[17:19:55] ZAGATA: I think the tariffs are great. I applaud the administration for what they're doing. I just think like six months, nine months in, it's becoming really difficult and like, come on already, with these negotiations, like let's move ahead.
SANDOVAL: Paulo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
MARQUARDT: Thanks to Polo Sandoval. Now, in the meantime, China for their part has vowed to retaliate. Our Matt Rivers is at the country's busiest port with a better look at how Beijing could strike back.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The question really now, that the United States has gone ahead with raising those tariff rates, is exactly how China is going to respond, and it's not if China's going to retaliate, it's when. Usually they do so in short order after United States makes a move in this trade war like raising tariff rates. And so we're expecting Beijing, the commerce ministry here to respond relatively soon.
In terms of how they're going to retaliate, they can really do it in a number of different ways. I think the first thing you look at is American imports, things that the United States ships to ports like this one here in the city of Tianjin for Chinese buyers. Most American imports here are already facing tariffs as a result of this trade war.
But what Beijing could do is raise the tariff rates on those products. I think that's something that a lot of people might even be expecting could happen as a retaliatory move although nothing is guaranteed at this point. Another thing they could do could be surrounding things like market access.
So let's say you're a pharmaceutical company in America trying to license a new product here in China. Well, maybe regulators in Beijing say, you know what, the order came from above, that we are not licensing any American products right now -- that hurts American businesses.
And I think finally you could look at soybeans, which might seem a bit specific, but let me explain. The Americans ship a ton of soybeans here to China. Before the trade war, it was worth billions of dollars in exports from the United States here to China.
But as a result of the trade war, at least initially, Beijing put restrictions, basically telling Chinese buyers, you can't buy American soybeans any more and that really hurt U.S. farmers. As negotiations went on and the sign of good faith, Beijing lifted those restrictions, but could those restrictions be put back up as a retaliatory move after this latest move from the Trump administration to raise tariffs from 10 to 25 percent.
We don't know, but it is certainly something that could have a major impact on the American heartland and farmers in those Midwestern states. So, there's a wide range of options that the Chinese government could take to respond to the Trump administration.
We're not sure exactly when they're going to do it or exactly which measures they will take, but we know it will happen and likely in relatively short order.
MARQUARDT: All right. Our thanks to Matt Rivers for breaking that all down for us.
I want to bring in David Dollar. He is a senior fellow at Brookings and a former Treasury Department economic emissary to China. David, good to have you with us.
DAVID DOLLAR, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS: Yes, great to be here.
MARQUARDT: Now David, the president has just tweeted about tariffs and despite what Larry Kudlow admitted earlier today, the president is claiming China is paying for these tariffs.
He writes, "We are right where we want to be with China. Remember, they broke the deal with us and tried to renegotiate. We will be taking in tens of billions of dollars in tariffs from China. Buyers of product can make it themselves in the USA (ideal) or buy it from non- tariffed countries."
He went on to say, "We will then spend (match or better) the money that China may no longer be spending with our great patriot farmers (Agriculture), which is a small percentage of total tariffs received and distribute the food to starving people in nations around the world. Great."
A lot in there, David. Despite what the president says, these tariffs as we've been saying, clearly hurt Americans directly. So how exactly does it at the same time hurt China?
DOLLAR: Well, it definitely has an impact on China. The U.S. will reduce its imports from China, probably not all that much. And as you say, it's Americans who are going to be paying the tariffs, you know, that's just a tax on imports. Americans are going to be paying that.
So, we'll cut back on our purchases from China, and that's going to hurt Chinese firms, China exports a lot of clothing still to the United States and all those electronic toys we like to play with, smart phones, tablets, televisions. So, China's production will definitely be hit. I wouldn't exaggerate the impact. China is not as dependent on exports to the U.S. as it used to be, but they'll feel the pain.
MARQUARDT: David, what about that second part, the second tweet there, the president saying that if China does indeed cut spending on U.S. agriculture, then the U.S. will step in buying that agriculture and distributing it to as he said, starving people in nations around the world. What do you make of that proposal? How would it even work?
DOLLAR: Right. So basically what we're doing here is we're raising taxes on Americans, and now the president's talking about giving some of that to poor countries. I'm fine with that. This is not the most efficient way to raise taxes, though. There are other things we can do.
We can tax carbon for example, which is something we Don't want to use. And then we could use the money to help poor countries. So I have no problem with increasing foreign aide.
[17:25:01] Giving money to the farmers, frankly, I Don't think the farmers want that kind of government handout. They want a well functioning market. Our farmers are huge players in the global market. So, if they have a level playing field, they are doing fine.
They were exporting a lot of soybeans and other products to China before. And if this trade war came to an end, then our farmers would be doing great in terms of exports to China and production more generally.
MARQUARDT: So do you think that there is a way that the U.S. could be putting this pressure on China but without hurting Americans?
DOLLAR: I've never been in favor of using the tariffs as a weapon because the cost is primarily born by Americans. I think we're now locked into a kind of an ego trip really. I mean, the Chinese have been very clear, they're not going to give in to all these demands.
The administration has now doubled down so I'm worried we're stuck with this for quite a while, and it is harmful to the U.S. economy. There are other things we could do to be dealing with some of the issues with China. We've toughened up our investment restrictions and our export controls.
There are other things we could do other than the tariffs. The tariffs will only look good in hindsight if it results in a deal with China. And right now we look like we're very far away from a deal with China.
MARQUARDT: And when you look at these trade talks that essentially collapsed last week, you get the sense that both sides feel like they are dealing from a position of strength. So, who actually has the upper hand do you feel, and who do you think would blink first?
DOLLAR: Well, I think both sides have a lot of strength in this situation. These are the two biggest economies in the world. As I said, China's not that dependent on exports to the U.S. anymore. It's been exporting a lot to Latin America and Africa. Europe is China's biggest trading partner.
So, you know, China has other markets and they've become less export dependent. They can turn this into a good thing if they focus more on domestic consumption and making their domestic market more efficient. But the U.S. also has a lot of strength. This is going to hurt the U.S. economy, but we shouldn't exaggerate.
It might take half a percentage point off U.S. growth which is significant, but it is not likely to lead to a recession by itself. It's just going to slow things down in the United States. So unfortunately, two sides might hang in there for a long time because they both have a lot of strength.
MARQUARDT: Right. All right, David Dollar, thanks very much.
DOLLAR: All right, great to talk to you.
MARQUARDT: There are new developments in the case of the missing 4- year-old girl in Texas. Police now arresting the mother's ex-fiance on suspicion of tampering with evidence. We have those details ahead.
[17:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARQUARDT: New today, Houston police are saying that blood evidence linked to missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis has been found in the hallway of her stepfather's apartment. And the Harris County assistant district attorney says there is a substantial likelihood that the girl's stepfather, Derion Vance, may be charged with her murder.
Right now, Vence is in custody, charged with tampering with evidence namely human corpse. We do want to be clear, law enforcement officials at this point are not confirming whether little Maleah, who went missing a week ago is alive or dead.
Police do say that a laundry basket was found in the trunk of Vence's car along with a gas can. They're asking anyone who may have sold the gas can to him to call authorities. Houston police are also saying that cadaver dogs responded to the scent of decomposition in Vence's vehicle. CNN's Nick Valencia has been tracking this story and the anguish of the little girl's mother.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRRESPONDENT: Derion Vence is the last known person to have been with missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis. But police say since the beginning, his story has been full of holes.
MARK HOLBROOK, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: I realize there is a lot of blanks in that story. We're hoping the public can fill in the blanks.
VALENCIA: Vence, Maleah's stepfather, told police he was on the way to the airport with Maleah and her 1-year-old brother last Friday to pick up their mom. En route, he says he heard a noise coming from the car, so he got out to check if he had a flat tire. It is then he told police, he was ambushed by three Hispanic men in a blue pick-up truck.
HOLBROOK: One of them makes a comment saying that Maleah looks very nice, looks very sweet. The other male hits Derion in the head. Derion loses consciousness.
VALENCIA: Vence says he and the two children were carjacked and abducted. He didn't fully regain consciousness he says until 6:00 p.m. the next day. When he woke up on the side of the highway more than 40 miles from the airport, his 1-year-old son was with him, but 4-year- old Maleah was nowhere to be found. It took him five hours to go to a hospital for his injuries and report Maleah missing.
BRITTANY BOWENS, MOTHER OF MALEAH DAVIS: I just want to find Maleah. I just want to find Maleah.
VALENCIA: Maleah's mother, Brittany Bowens, initially defended Vence against those who doubted his story. In a long post on social media, she pushed back against his critics. But in the days that followed and as the search for the missing girl intensified, there were more questions.
On Thursday, the car Vence was driving the night Maleah disappeared was spotted in a shopping center parking lot, just a few miles from where he said he regained consciousness. Maleah's mother said the discovery added to her suspicions about Vence. His story, she says, just doesn't add up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still believe Derion? Do you still believe his story?
BOWENS: No, I Don't believe his story only because I've been out here every single day doing what I have to do as a mother. I've been trying and he hasn't been by my side, not one time. He has not called me. I haven't heard from him since Monday. I Don't know what's going on. And it's like, if you're innocent, why can't you save yourself. Why aren't you out here defending yourself? I defended you in good faith.
MARQUARDT: Nick Valencia reporting there. Our thanks to him. Derion Vence, the stepfather of missing 4-year-old Maleah is due in court tomorrow.
Now, the president has been spending his rainy weekend in Washington going after everyone from congressional Democrats to a top Republican senator and even former White House counsel Don McGahn, the one person according to the Mueller report who may have single-handedly saved Trump's presidency. So, are we getting closer to what some are calling a constitutional crisis? We will answer your questions with Ellie Honig in the "Cross Exam." That's next.
[17:35:07] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARQUARDT: The president continues to dig in, insisting that he was not going to fire the special counsel despite what the former White House counsel, Don McGahn, had told Robert Mueller. President Trump tweeting that he was never going to fire Bob Mueller, falsely he's saying that he was never going to fire him, and then that the former White House counsel had a better chance of being fired instead.
Now, this comes after the president invoked executive privilege over the entirety of the Mueller report, setting up a constitutional showdown between President Trump and Congress. So, that brings me to our weekly segment, "Cross Exam" with CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, Elie Honig.
He's here to answer your questions about legal issues. Elie, we have one viewer asking, now that especially McGahn is out of the White House, how can President Trump prevent him from testifying?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hey Alex. So first of all, I think it's been made clear, Donald Trump is terrified of what Don McGahn has to say. Don McGahn is going to be a key witness on obstruction of justice and just a reminder, he's the person who Trump according to the Mueller report, Trump asked McGahn to have Bob Mueller fired and then later asked McGahn to lie about it.
So, how is -- this weekend by the way, we learned that Trump has asked McGahn to declare that Trump did not obstruct justice and McGahn said no thanks so, that's not a good sign for Trump either.
[17:40:00] How can Trump stop him? He's invoked the executive privilege. Executive privilege is essentially the notion that certain conversations between the president and his key advisers while in office are privileged. They're confidential, they should not be spoken about.
And so even if they happened in the past, even though McGahn's a private citizen now, the president is trying to invoke executive privilege to essentially shut him up. Now, I don't think it will work for three reasons. First of all, the president has already waived executive privilege. He's already given it away. McGahn has already spoken to Robert Mueller. Second of all, it does not apply to conversations that are arguably
criminal in nature. If they're talking about obstruction of justice, that's going to be criminal. And the third reason is, the leading case that we have on executive privilege is the Richard Nixon case from 1974, which says executive privilege exists, but it is meant to protect national security and military secrets. That would not apply here. So I don't think ultimately the president will be able to silence Don McGahn.
MARQUARDT: The other big question about who might show up in front of Congress is of course Bob Mueller. He would be the biggest price certainly for Democrats. There had been some talk of him appearing on May 15th. We now know that that's not going to happen.
A date is still up in the air. So, another viewer is asking, do you think we'll see Mueller testify? Is there anyway that President Trump can prevent that?
HONIG: I do think we'll see it. Trump has been a little bit all over the map on this. He went from I have no problem to he should not testify to I'll leave it up to I think the quote was our very great attorney general. I think a little wink, wink there -- hey, very great attorney general, you know what to do.
But look, there's no legal basis to really prevent Robert Mueller from testifying. All they could really do is say, well, he's still technically a DOJ employee, at least for the next couple of weeks and we forbid you. But DOJ employees are made to testify in front of Congress regularly. So that's not really a legal basis to do it.
And when he does testify, boy, watch that, I mean, right? He's going to be talking about -- I think the big questions are going to be, where did you come out on obstruction? He didn't come out on obstruction, but do you want to give us an opinion now that everyone's criticizing you for not doing it?
And also, we know there's this simmering battle between, growing battle, between Mueller and Barr. And we know that Mueller has criticized the way that Barr characterized his report so, that will be front and center.
MARQUARDT: And specifically on the obstruction issue.
MARQUARDT: What a circus that's going to be. Elie, we've got another viewer question who is asking, why can't the courts make an exemption and fast track all of these cases relating to Congress and the president?
HONIG: I think they need to. I think Congress will be really smart because if they don't do something, this is -- all of these disputes that we're going do see breaking out about congressional subpoenas that the executive branch is shutting down, they're going to take months, maybe years to play out. The Eric Holder contempt dispute took years -- I think it took up to
seven years. So, that would be ridiculous. There's two ways I think that Congress can try to speed things up. One, you can ask the court to appoint what's called a special master, that means one specific judge is designated probably in Washington, D.C. to hear all of these cases.
That judge then can develop expertise, can make sure the rulings are consistent and can do things more quickly. The second way is there is a way to go directly to the Supreme Court, skip the lower levels and go directly to the Supreme Court. It's called Rule XI in the Supreme Court rules. It's very rarely used outside of wartime. But one situation where it was used was in the Richard Nixon case, so there is a precedent.
MARQUARDT: President Trump facing a lot from Democrats on all fronts this week, so we always end with a question, what are you going to be asking this week?
HONIG: So, a couple of big things. First of all, will Barr permit Mueller to testify? I really don't think it's up to Barr, but that's what we've been told. So, when will we see Mueller testify? Second of all, will the House take action to compel Barr's testimony? Remember, they've taken action on the unredacted Mueller report, but there was still that day a couple of weeks ago when Barr was supposed to show up, he never did.
Is the House just going to take that or are they going to take action? And third of all, is the House going to take action against Secretary Mnuchin on the IRS, on the tax returns, which he has also refused. We just have battles going on on every different front here. It's going to be an action-packed couple of weeks. We're really seeing the collision of two of the branches of government.
MARQUARDT: And you got to imagine that President Trump is going to come out swinging tomorrow morning.
HONIG: Bet on it.
MARQUARDT: Elie Honig, thanks very much.
HONIG: Thanks Alex.
MARQUARDT: All right, an American airlines pilot is in jail tonight after he was arrested right before taking off. Authorities say that he killed a Kentucky couple and their neighbor back in 2015. The couple's son joins me live, next.
[17:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARQUARDT: Tonight on CNN, W. Kamau Bell is back with an all new episode of "United Shades of America." This week, Kamau is headed to Saint Paul, Minnesota, home to one of the countries largest Hmong communities. His aim, to understand the secret war that brought the Hmong people here, and find out why they're such an important part of America's history and its culture. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
W. KAMAU BELL, HOST, UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA: Was there any experience of, you know, of racism or --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, back then, when we came here, people were accusing us of eating their dogs, eating their cats. I've been pushed down the stairs, been called all kinds of names, been spit on, been told to go back home and all that, but I don't know whether that's racism or whether that's just lack of understanding of who we are.
BELL: I think, yes, it's a lack of understanding, but there's different ways to have a lack of understanding. There is like, I don't know who you are, I should find out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BELL: I don't know who you are, get him. You know what I mean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
BELL: I think that's it. And I think America just -- because we set it up in such a way that like, whoever the dominant group is gets to define who an American is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we all came from somewhere else, right. We want the same quality of life that you experience. We want the same opportunities that you've had and so, we just need to, you know, break down those barriers, break down those stereotypes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are Americans.
MARQUARDT: W. Kamau Bell, the host of CNN's "United Shades of America," thanks so much for joining me.
BELL: Thanks for having me.
MARQUARDT: Kamau, the little known reason that you get into in this, why they Hmong came to America is because of a secret war that took place during Vietnam and then the abandonment of the Hmong people when it ended. So, if you could explain some of that history that brought the Hmong from Laos to the U.S.
BELL: Well, that professor that I was just talking to in the clip will explain it much better than I did. He broke down about 5,000 years of Hmong history into that two minutes.
[17:49:57] But, you know, the Hmong were recruited by the CIA to fight for the United States in the Vietnam War basically, but it was a secret war, so they weren't issued uniforms. They weren't really -- it was off the books, and so, they fought for the United States in the secret war.
And when the United States decided to stop fighting the war because we didn't do well over there, we left many of them behind and after they had fought for us. So, there are a lot of stories in the episode of people who basically ended up being refugees in Thailand, refugee camps and had to work their way over here after the war.
MARQUARDT: Similar to themes that we heard after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which of course are still ongoing. Kamau, this episode that's airing tonight really does look at how we define American identity. Who gets to pick, who's American, who isn't. How does this case of the Hmong community really highlight that?
BELL: I mean, I think because when many of them did make it over here -- during the Clinton era, he brought many of them over here. They were still treated as like, as outsiders, even though -- like I said, this is recent history. I've talked about this a lot. This is recent history so the people that they brought over, many of them had fought in the secret war on the American side.
So, why would we treat those people as outsiders when really they were already patriots before they even set foot on this land? So, I think it's really about like we -- there's people in this country, especially the people who are leaving this country right now, the Trump administration defined America in a very narrow way that doesn't help add to the glory that this country is.
MARQUARDT: Right. W. Kamau Bell, thanks so much.
BELL: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: Make sure you don't miss this new episode of "United Shades of America." That's tonight at 10:00 eastern right here on CNN. We'll be right back.
[17:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARQUARDT: Peggy Lipton, the star of "Mod Squad" and "Twin Peaks" has passed away. Lipton is best known for her role as an undercover officer in the series "Mod Squad" which ran from 1968 to 1973. That role earned her four Golden Globe nominations and one win for Best T.V. Actress in a Drama. Her ex-husband is legendary music producer Quincy Jones. Their daughter's put out a statement saying that she had been battling cancer. Peggy Lipton was 72 years old.
In a historic deal, 187 nations have signed an agreement to try to reduce plastic waste. Exporting countries will now have to get consent from countries, many of them poorer, developing nations that receive contaminated or unrecyclable plastic waste, much of which piles up in dumpsters or ends up in the ocean.
Notably, the U.S. did not sign on to the deal and wasn't even involved in the decision-making process and is one of just two countries that did not ratify the deal. However, the agreement will still apply to the U.S. when it tries to ship plastic waste to other countries. Now, it's the White House versus the Democrats in Congress. The
president this weekend ramping up his attacks on Democrats demanding he comply with their subpoenas, all as he's trying to block more than 20 Democratic investigations. So, what's next? We'll take you live to the White House.