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AT THIS HOUR

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio Enters 2020 Presidential Race; Presidential Candidate & Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Discusses Climate Change, Jobs, the Presidential Race; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) Discusses White House Refusal to Hand Over Documents, Impeachment, Getting Trump's Tax Returns; Businessman Orlando Bravo Discusses his $100 Million Donation to Help Puerto Rico. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 16, 2019 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] DAVID GOODMAN, CITY HALL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: I do. I think what Bill De Blasio has going for him or what he sees is as no -- the thing he's going to do next. Mayors tend not to go on to higher office. None have gone on to the presidency in the history of this country.

So he's looking for something. He's looking at his options. And I think there's very little downside for him in getting out there and increasing his recognition nationally.

He said in a magazine interview in his first term that he was better understood essentially outside of New York City than inside of it, and we'll see if that's the case. But that's certainly what he's going to try to do, to find friends outside of the city where maybe he doesn't have as many as he used to here.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that can be a test pretty quickly. We'll see.

Great to see you, David. Thanks for coming in.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it.

Joining me now is another Democrat in the race for the White House right now, Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

Governor, thank you for joining me.

JAY INSLEE, (D), WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So you had two and a half months jump start on De Blasio. Any advice for the newcomer?

INSLEE: Follow me. Follow my plan to defeat climate crisis. Because I, just today, at this Blue Plains Water Treatment Plant, one of the most advanced plants in the world, issued my plan to put eight million people to work in high-paying jobs while defeating the climate crisis. And this plan is the biggest, boldest, and most ambitious plan of any of the candidates by a country mile because I know we are a big, bold, and ambitious country.

And so I put markers down on the things we have to do to get off coal, to get off fossil fuels, to end the subsidies to oil and gas companies, to have new ways to power our transportation system.

I'm the candidate. Look, if you believe this is a crisis, like I do, then I hope that you'll look at this plan. We call it the Evergreen Economy Plan because it's built on the success of my state.

Look, I have built the best economy in the United States. Take it from "U.S. News and World Reporter (sic)," CNBC.

And the reason we have done it is we have embraced the clean energy jobs that are good paying union jobs across our state, that are defeating the climate crisis.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: And you have made - and you have made a centerpiece -- the centerpiece of your campaign has been about climate change --

INSLEE: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- as you unveil this giant jobs proposal today that stems from this singular focus.

Something in your rollout this morning really stuck out to me, not just me, but a lot of people. You said this in your rollout, Governor: " We cannot have a middle ground proposal to build a clean energy future."

Are you taking a shot at Joe Biden there?

INSLEE: I am expressing the truth. Look, you can't approach this on a halvsies deal. We didn't win World War II by defeating half of our enemies and we can't survive by defeating half of the climate crisis.

And if you're saying we need a middle ground, while people in Iowa are seeking high ground -- I was there yesterday - from the floods, that won't cut it. We need a full deal, full mobilization.

My plan is the only plan that offers the real meat on the bone of how to put eight million people to work, fully mobilizing the United States economy.

We did this in World War II. We went from making 77 Jeeps in 1940 to 640,000 four years later. That's the type of mobilization we need.

I intend to put to work, not only our federal government, but $600 billion worth of private entrepreneurship where we could build on what we know works, which is good union labor and great investment in innovative new economies. We're doing it here in D.C.

I just met two union guys doing fantastic work with advanced technology. That's what we need. BOLDUAN: But, Governor, when it comes to -- part of being in the field of 23 is you need to set yourself apart. That means laying out the differences between your competitors.

And what I'm hearing from you right now is, yes, you're speaking directly to Joe Biden, in your comments about there's no middle ground.

Joe Biden, though, has responded to this previously when this has come up about his comment about middle ground. And he says, in response, that there's what he meant is there's no middle ground on climate change. He says what he's talking about is finding consensus, if you will.

Do you agree there's a need -- do you agree consensus is needed to get any of this that you're talking about done?

INSLEE: Listen, I think we have to live in the real world here. I live in the real world. And in the real world --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Are you saying Joe Biden is not --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Are you saying Joe Biden --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- is not living in reality?

INSLEE: What I'm saying is, it is not the real world to think Mitch McConnell is going to embrace a major effort to mobilize against the climate crisis. That's a fool's errand. That's why we Democrats need to take away the filibuster from Mitch McConnell. I'm the first candidate to recognize that reality.

Here's my uniqueness. I have the biggest plan on the climate crisis.

I'm the only candidate who's actually got success on -- I'm the first person to put the public option into law, the first to put a long-term care plan, the highest minimum wage, end of the death penalty, best gender pay equity, huge teacher pay increases. Everything that the other candidates are talking about, I have actually done in the state of Washington.

[11:35:22] Third, I know how to beat Donald Trump. I beat him 21 times in a row in court. I faced him at the White House and told him his ideas to arm teachers are ridiculous and told him me needed to quit tweeting and listening to educators.

I know I can confront him. I look forward to that. We're going to cut him off at the ankles on the economic issue because I have put people to work in unions. And that's what we plan on doing.

BOLDUAN: There's no hesitancy I hear in your voice in talking about the issues, no hesitancy in taking on --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- on taking on Donald Trump and naming him by name.

Are you hesitant then as we're talking about --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: As we're talking about this issue on climate change, are you hesitant in naming names? Are you hesitant to call out Joe Biden by name, if you are saying that he is wrong in his comments about finding a middle ground?

INSLEE: Well, if he thinks that he's going to sign -- walk in and have a cup of tea with Mitch McConnell and convince him that the climate crisis demands a full mobilization of the U.S. economy, there's some other Mitch McConnell in the world that I'm acquainted with. We have to have reality. We have to defeat Donald Trump. We have to eliminate the filibuster. And we have to have a plan to put eight million people to work. That's what I'm offering the American people.

I'm looking forward to Joe Biden putting further efforts forward.

But I'm also looking forward to all of the candidates. I invite them to match what I'm saying. I would be delighted if they could follow my leadership that I have been providing for decades on this.

I would be delighted if they followed the book I wrote 12 years ago on how to build a clean-energy economy. If they do that, that will be a great thing. And we'll have a nominee to build a new energy economy. I intend to do everything I can to give Americans a choice on that.

That's why we need a debate, a full-throated debate on climate change in the Democratic Party. I look forward to doing that.

BOLDUAN: Governor, I have many -- we hit on a bunch, but I have a lot of other questions for you. Please come back.

And I really appreciate you coming on today.

INSLEE: I look forward to it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Governor.

INSLEE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a new act of defiance. The White House refusing to hand over documents to House Democrats. Basically, all documents, refusing that. So what do Democrats do now? We'll ask a member of House Intelligence and House Oversight, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:41:46] BOLDUAN: This morning, could we now be looking at the final word in this ongoing standoff between the White House and Congress? I ask that and I'm not sure of the answer yet.

The White House is now saying it won't turn over any documents or provide any testimony from current and former Trump officials as requested from the Democratic-led House committees.

White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, in a letter, now accusing Democrats of seeking a do-over on the Russia investigation, and harassing and seeking to embarrass political opponents, is how he wrote it.

Here's the reaction from the Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerry Nadler.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The president's policy now, the president's posture now, is making it impossible to rule out impeachment or anything else. The letter we got from the White House yesterday is beyond outrageous.

Obviously, this flies in the face of 200 years of history. And it would go -- if accepted, it would go a long way to making the president, any president, a dictator. We cannot accept this and we will not accept it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. He sits on the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees, which, of course, also have issued subpoenas for Trump records and documents.

Congressman, thanks for coming in.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So here's where it feels like we are right now. You're now in a place where the White House is not going to give you anything, in terms of the documents you all are asking for. You have Jerry Nadler there talking about not ruling out impeachment. Also saying, when it comes to the officials and documents they have requested, all options remain on the table, including fines, including jail time.

Can you make the case at this point that you're not headed in that direction?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes. I think that we're starting to see some cracks in their obstructionism.

I'll give you one example. In the Senate, Mr. Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had subpoenaed Don Trump Jr. As you know, his father, the White House counsel, as well as Lindsey Graham, all told him not to testify. It turns out, he is going to testify soon. And it's going to be on a number of topics.

And so I think that, you know, there are cracks that are emerging. And we have to vindicate the will of the American people to have oversight of the executive branch.

BOLDUAN: Are you in a different place then than Jerry Nadler on this? He's outraged. He called it shameless. Do you think -- are you in a different place than him on the response from the White House here?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: No, I found the letter to be -- the 12-page letter to be very disturbing. It was meritless. At one point, I think Mr. Cipollone compared President Trump to George Washington in terms of having discussions with foreign leaders and not being subject to having any of those discussions being subject to any kind of disclosure or anything like that. This is ridiculous.

So I think that we have to now confront the challenge that's right in our face, which is, do we have a system of checks or balances or not. I think the American people want that. That's what we have to vindicate right now.

[11:45:02] BOLDUAN: And to be honest, at this point, it is starting to look like the White House is calling your bluff in terms of House Democrats. They're not giving you anything really.

Do you want to see people starting to be slapped with fines?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think that they are cooperating with different committees in different ways.

But that being said, I stand with Mr. Nadler and others who say that we should hold people in contempt if they don't answer our subpoenas.

In particular, I think Mr. Barr refuses to produce the unredacted Mueller report and the underlying documents, and he asserts executive privilege over all of that, which is completely overbroad and has no basis in the law. I think the courts will see right through that, as we proceed in the court litigation process, too.

BOLDUAN: I want to get your take on where your breaking point will be. If you take like the president's tax returns, the House is waiting to hear back from the IRS commissioner and the Treasury secretary still. Let me play you what the Treasury secretary said just yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We haven't had an official response yet. I think we have a few more days. We will comply with the timing of it. And I think you can pretty much guess how we're going to. But I haven't made a decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: You can pretty much guess how we're going to respond. That's another example of the administration not giving you what you all believe you are entitled to. I mean, set the bar for me. Where is your breaking point?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, we're not there yet. At least, I'm not there yet.

I think that Mr. Neal, of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued a subpoena. They have to respond by this Friday, as the Treasury secretary made clear in his answer. But after that, obviously, we have to enforce the subpoena.

And in that particular case, there's actually a violation of a statute that requires the executive branch to provide tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

So it's not just an issue of oversight. It's also an issue of enforcing statutes. And I think there, again, we are on the right side of the law.

Now, for those who believe that the president is going to delay this process, drag it out and make sure that we don't get anything, I point to one other example from the Oversight Committee.

The Oversight Committee requested documents to be produced from the Mazars firm under a subpoena for financial records of Mr. Trump. And there, again, the Trump administration tried to drag out the litigation process. But to everyone's surprise, the judge in that case convened an expedited hearing this past week. And I think that similar approach is going to be taken with regard to a number of subpoenas.

BOLDUAN: We'll see.

Great to see you, Congressman. I appreciate your time.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming in.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, it's been almost two years since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, they're still fighting over a disaster relief bill. Now, one businessman is taking matters into his own hands. He joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:52:34] BOLDUAN: If you're keeping count, it has been 20 months since Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, leaving the Americans there and the island ravaged. Still today, Congress is struggling to approve a full disaster relief bill for Puerto Rico.

But some in the private sector, they are no longer waiting and stepping up, and stepping up in a big way.

One of those people is investor and philanthropist, Orlando Bravo. Orlando Bravo is joining me now.

Thanks so much for being here. I really appreciate it. For perspective for folks, right after Hurricane Maria, you donated

$10 million in direct humanitarian aid to the island. Today, you're making a very big announcement, $100 million to Puerto Rico. I mean, the number, in and of itself, is astonishing. Why $100 million, Orlando? Why now?

ORLANDO BRAVO, INVESTOR & PHILANTHROPIST: You know what, our team is fired up about this. We are bringing Silicon Valley into Puerto Rico, and we're doing it from a philanthropic perspective.

See, I grew up in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and, for me, it's very personal. And I grew up across street from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez campus, that has all the tech students, engineering students that graduate. And 70 percent of those leave the island.

Now, I left right after high school. And people along the way -- and this is a story that a lot of us have. People along the way helped me. And I ended from a place of the least opportunity to Silicon Valley doing software and private equity. You cannot find a better place to get lucky over the last 20 years.

So once we did the humanitarian aid relief in Puerto Rico, we stayed in these communities.

BOLDUAN: I do find it fascinating that -- Puerto Rico is still in need of direct humanitarian aid and I find it fascinating that this isn't that. What you're wanting to do is put more towards jobs and helping people in Puerto Rico start businesses. Why that now?

BRAVO: Exactly. The problem that our foundation is tackling is one of income inequality.

BOLDUAN: This is long term?

BRAVO: Yes. An extremely topical point right now in the U.S. The U.N. did a study, and it ranked Puerto Rico in the top-five countries in the world in terms of income inequality. And as a result of that, poverty rates are 44 percent and I expect it to climb to 60 percent.

The way we can help, from our skills in business, the tech companies that we can work with is, let's create jobs in Puerto Rico and let's give opportunities to talented young adults through entrepreneurship that otherwise don't have those opportunities.

BOLDUAN: It is no secret that when it comes to the federal government response, it has been widely criticized. Congress is still fighting to get a relief bill through. And you have the president of the United States who has been highly critical of the government officials on the ground.

[11:55:09] I was just looking back. One of the things that the president has even said is, when it comes to the politicians, "They are grossly incompetent. Spend the money foolishly or corruptly, and only take from the U.S." Do you see yourself as filling a void? Do you see yourself stepping

in because of inaction by the government, because of the president of the United States saying these things about your home?

BRAVO: We absolutely feel that we are filling a void. Now, there are so many theories of why this happened, why this poverty rate, why this income inequality. There should be more help in Puerto Rico.

Now we're taking matters into our own hands. We're doing what we can with the skills that we have.

BOLDUAN: It's sad. But it's wonderful and sad that it requires that.

But thank you for coming in and thank you for making that announcement. We'll follow what this money does for Puerto Rico.

I really appreciate it, Orlando. Thank you.

BRAVO: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

All right. So with the good news of what you heard just from Orlando Bravo as well, we've got much more news to come.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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