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Trump Unveils Immigration Plan; White House Denies Document Request; Fighting Alabama's Abortion Ban; Poppy Harlow Shares her "Champions for Change." Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 16, 2019 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Administration's new plan for immigration. CNN is learning details of this proposal. It's going to focus on border security, of course, and -- and this is key, merit based immigration.

But the big question remains, will it gain support from the president's own party?

CNN's senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns joins me now.

Joe, the -- what's missing from this proposal apparently is dealing with what has been a central issue of any immigration debate, which is -- which is DACA, the dreamers issue.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes, and that's obviously one of the big problems, what do you do about those childhood arrivals that Democrats have been pushing again and again as a key component of any immigration plan.

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, was out here on the driveway just a few minutes ago and she said, look, the reason you don't include it is because every time you do the plan gets shot down. She says they're trying to focus on things that bring people together.

Interesting, though, they're talking about Republicans. So far Jared Kushner, who's been pushing this plan quite a bit up on Capitol Hill, has been talking primarily to Republicans. And we've gotten some critiques on that, including one from the senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who said this plan is not designed to become law. That is something Sarah Sanders disagrees with.

So there you see the big points, it does not address DACA, it doesn't address family separations at the border, it really doesn't address low skilled immigrants. This plan is all about bringing in highly skilled, highly trained, highly educated individuals in the United States and a plan sort of mimics, mocks, or is modeled against Australia, Japan, Canada, places like that. And it's going to have an uphill climb, of course, during an election year when it doesn't include key components that the Democrats want.

SCIUTTO: Yes, especially if a senator says it's not even a serious legislative proposal. Joe Johns, thanks very much.

Attorney General Bill Barr is again making clear he will not stand in the way of Congress getting answers from the special counsel, Robert Mueller. He tells 'The Wall Street Journal," quote, it's Bob's call whether he wants to testify." But that may not be tough for Democrats who have launched at least 20 investigations into the Trump administration. There is the list there now.

So how is the White House responding? A firm no, that's no compliance, no records, no do overs.

CNN congressional reporter Lauren Fox joins me now.

Lauren, Democrats considering taking action if the White House doesn't cooperate, but the White House seems to be sticking to this plan of almost a blanket no across the board.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, that's right, Jim, yesterday that 12-page letter from the White House to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler saying that they would not comply with his request for documents in the investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign may have obstructed justice during the campaign now and during the investigation into Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Now, one -- the letter said, quote, congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized do over of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice.

Now, Democrats are furious with that letter and that response. Jerry Nadler had these words to say to the White House.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): This is the White House claiming that the president is a king. This is the White House saying that the Justice Department says they can't hold the president accountable because you can't indict a president and now they're saying neither can Congress. So the president is totally unaccountable and above the law. No president, no person in the United States is above the law. This is preposterous.


FOX: We're also still waiting to see if the Justice Department is going to comply with a document request from the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, and he said earlier to my colleague Jeremy Herb that he is still having talks with the Justice Department. But, obviously, not a lot of cooperation from the Trump administration on these documents requests, Jim.

SCIUTTO: So one of the most striking conflicts here is over the president's tax returns, because the law seems to be -- well, the law is clear, it says that the Ways and Means Committee has the -- has the right to call for any return, but the secretary -- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he's just going to say no. How does that resolve itself?

FOX: Well, that's right, he was up on Capitol Hill yesterday before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, you know, testifying about the budget, but obviously this very contentious issue came up. My colleague, Elie Kaufman (ph), asked him right after the hearing if he was going to comply with Chairman Neal's subpoena. He said, you know, he hadn't ultimately made up his mind, but you could probably guess how exactly he was going to respond.

We, of course, know that the Treasury Department has said that they would not hand over the president's tax returns and that's six years of the president's personal and business tax returns. This fight likely going to court.


[09:35:06] SCIUTTO: Imagine that, another fight going to court.

Lauren Fox, thanks very much.

Abortion rights groups vowing to stop Alabama's abortion ban just signed into law by the Alabama governor from ever taking effect. A live report on what is next in this fight. That's coming up.


SCIUTTO: The governor of Alabama has signed the bill that effectively bans abortion in her state. That law set to take effect in six months, but groups such as the ACLU say they will sue to stop that from happening.

CNN correspondent Dianne Gallagher is in Montgomery, Alabama, with more.

And, Dianne, I mean even legislators who voted for this bill yesterday, they were granting that this is really about getting this to the Supreme Court.


[09:40:06] SCIUTTO: They expect to be challenged in court.


SCIUTTO: But they want to take this all the way to the very top.

GALLAGHER: Yes, I mean, to be blunt here, Jim, that's basically the objective of this. All of them, including the governor when she signed it, recognize that this is completely unenforceable, not to mention the fact that it doesn't actually go into effect for another six months. But there's no way they can enforce a law like this with Roe versus Wade still being the federal law of the land. And so what this was, and Kay Ivey acknowledged, was just sort of a

vehicle to attempt to get this up to the Supreme Court because organizations like the ACLU, like Planned Parenthood have said, look, we're going to challenge this in court, they know that this is going to be fought at every level. The hope that Alabama lawmakers here had was that they could make this so restrictive that it ended up going up to the highest court. That doesn't seem to matter to a lot of the women here who were protesting this law to begin with. A lot of people who were against a law like this happening in Alabama, who came out, Jim, they said, even though it's unenforceable, that doesn't stop the fact that seeing a law like this passed puts fear in us for what the future may bring.

SCIUTTO: Understood. OK, So on the Supreme Court --


SAM BLAKELY, RAPE SURVIVOR: I have absolutely no words to describe the disgust that I feel and so many women have told me that they feel. They are scared. They are angry. We don't know what's going to happen. We are -- we are seriously in fear for our lives.


GALLAGHER: And, look, again, we need to reiterate that the law that was signed in Alabama, even by the word of it does not go into effect for another six months. But, again, Kay Ivey has said, at this point, this is unenforceable. It is more of a message and a vehicle to attempt to get to the Supreme Court, Jim.

SCIUTTO: So there is a question, though, as to whether this is likely to get to the Supreme Court, because that would require justices willing to overturn Roe v. Wade as opposed to deciding on restrictions on it and, therefore, some of the less aggressive anti-abortion laws.

GALLAGHER: Yes. And so here's the thing, this is one of at least 16 that have been introduced or passed in this country. There are almost twice that number that are at least being considered in state legislatures across the country. And even those that have passed, each one of them have kind of been put together differently, Jim, trying to see what I guess that magic formula is to maybe get the Supreme Court to pick it up. And the idea from all of these state legislatures is, if the Supreme Court takes this up, there is a potential they could overturn Roe versus Wade.

What's really interesting is, last year when another Alabama law dealing with abortion was overturned, Kay Ivey issued this statement saying, hey, look, I'm disappointed in this, but we've got to keep fighting to get to the Supreme Court. She ended it by saying, I look forward to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. Of course now Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Kavanaugh, this is likely why a lot of these states are doing this now, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely.

Dianne Gallagher, there on the ground in Montgomery, thanks very much. Early this month, another state, the Missouri senate, Republicans there, passed another anti-abortion bill. It forbids abortions once a heartbeat is detected, similar to other heartbeat bills passed in several other states. Supporters call it one of the best pro-life bills in the country and believe that most of it will eventually be held up in court. The bill must pass the House before it will go to the governor's desk for signature.

Missouri joins a growing list of states passing anti-abortion legislation in hopes of overturning or restricting key parts of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Well, "Champions for Change," one woman's personal push to get other amputees the prosthetics they need to change the world. It's a really powerful -- it's an inspiring story by my colleague Poppy Harlow. It's coming up.


[09:49:09] SCIUTTO: Something to smile about. This week we've been bringing you stories of remarkable people who are making a lasting impact, a positive impact, around the world. For my colleague, Poppy Harlow, that person is Boston Marathon bombing survivor Heather Abbott. Part of Heather's left leg was amputated due to injuries after the attack. Not only did she overcome her own struggles during her recovery, she made it her life's goal to change perceptions and help other amputees get prosthetics.


HEATHER ABBOTT, FOUNDER, HEATHER ABBOTT FOUNDATION: I accepted what happened pretty early on, when I recognized that I couldn't change it.

To be able to feel like my old self and not have to change something that I loved to do because I lost my leg.

[09:50:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Just moments ago, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon --

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I remember hearing about it and thinking, how could this happen, and just racing there.

One hundred and forty-four injured, three fatalities, 17 critical condition at this hour.

Quickly the thought comes to your mind about the victims and who are these people.

One of them who has really stood out that we spent a lot of time with is Heather Abbott. She lost part of her left leg in the bombing. And not only is she walking again. She is running again.

She wanted to feel like herself again so much, she wanted to walk again in high four-inch stiletto heels. So, she got a prosthetic that has allowed her to do that.

She said, this is my new life. And I'm for damn sure going to make the most of it.

Just getting through the horror of what happened to you and become your full self again, I think is where most people would stop. You have taken it so much farther, challenging the status quo, battling the insurance companies.

ABBOTT: Most insurance companies don't cover it because it looks real. And it was an opportunity for me to bring attention to this issue, how to make insurance companies understand why coverage is needed for devices that aren't just for walking.

SAVANNAH BOOTH, PROSTHETIC RECIPIENT: I am the very proud recipient of the first prosthetic leg from the Heather Abbott Foundation.

I'm excited to finally look down and see ten toes and not feel like something's missing.

HARLOW: This is like one of the things that makes our job so great. Often we have to report the stories of death and horror, but we also get to report the stories of true resilience and strength. And that's what Heather's story has been for me all along.

So we're in Chicago, and I have been looking forward to this day for a really long time.

We are heading to surprise an incredibly sweet little eight-year-old boy named Jude.

HARLOW (voice over): When Jude was just three years old, there was a tragic accident while he was at home and he lost both of his legs.

HARLOW (on camera): It just hits you right in the gut. And it is because of Heather and the Heather Abbott Foundation that we're going to see Jude like he is today.

HARLOW (voice over): He and his family have no idea what is about to happen.

The Chicago Fire, which is the professional soccer team here in Chicago, they're going above and beyond for Jude and his family.

HARLOW (on camera): Go find your name, guys.

HARLOW (voice over): They're going to surprise the kids with their own jerseys, stuffed animals for the little ones --

HARLOW (on camera): Pretty awesome.

HARLOW (voice over): Their names on the Jumbotron. And Heather actually flew in to surprise Jude and his family. She hasn't seen them in three years.

ABBOTT: Hi, you. How do you like your new legs?

JUDE HILL: Good. HARLOW: Oh, my gosh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jude, you're an inspiration.

This is for you.

HARLOW (voice over): They're even going to sign Jude and his siblings to a one day contract with the team to make it official.

GREG HILL, JUDE'S FATHER: I also want to recognize a very special person, Heather Abbott, who is unbelievable. You are a champion for change.

JENNIFER HILL, JUDE'S MOTHER: This is totally Heather. This is who she is.

G. HILL: It wouldn't be possible without her help.

He is a double amputee that does not have feet, but that doesn't identify him. That doesn't detract from his character.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.

HARLOW (on camera): You are few of the lucky ones who because of Heather and her foundation could have this.

JENNIFER HILL: Getting the right kind of feet to keep him running and active changed not just his life, but all of us.

HARLOW: Legs brought back not just the ability to run, but his heart, his joy, his spirit.

G. HILL: It's there.


HARLOW: OK, world of high heels. You can rock four-inch heels.

ABBOTT: I can.

HARLOW: I'm very impressed. Do you like some of these?

It's not just about functionality, but it's about feeling like your full self, right?

ABBOTT: Yes. Yes. It makes a big difference. People don't typically know I'm an amputee when I'm walking around in my high heels.

HARLOW: I will never forget the first day that I met her years ago after the Boston bombing. Someone who has fought persistently and is now a champion for others.

She's just this ultimate woman. I don't know how else to say it other than Heather Abbott sparkles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SCIUTTO: Well, it makes you smile, doesn't it?

We're sharing all these inspiring stories all week long. And tune in this Saturday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, for an hour-long champions for change special right here on CNN.

And we have this news just into CNN.

A relief, President Jimmy Carter, the former president, released from medical center, released from the hospital earlier today. This after hip replacement surgery following a fall earlier this week. He is out of the hospital and he and his wife, Rosslyn Carter, are extending their thanks to the many people who have been following this story. We're going to stay on top of it.

[09:55:19] Just one hour from now, President Trump will hold a critical meeting at the White House. Could it help ease the rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran?