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President Trump Calls Justin Amash a Loser; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is interviewed about his candidacy and Trump's impeachment; Senator Sanders is the Best Choice to Beat Trump; Trump Warning Iran; Roe V. Wade Against New Restrictive Abortion Laws; Accused War Criminal as an Uber Driver; White House Stonewalls Congressional Investigations; Elie Honig Answers Legal Questions. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 19, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I am Ana Cabrera in New York. The commander-in-chief of the United States, taking to twitter today to call an elected member of Congress from his own party a loser. I am talking about Michigan Congressman Justin Amash who this weekend broke with the GOP PAC on Capitol Hill, declared that President Trump should be impeached.
And he laid out a precise argument explaining why. The president's response, he called Amash a loser. Never a fan of Justin Amah, tweets the president today, a total lightweight. And then, Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponent's hands.
These tweets from the president, really our best insight into the president's thinking and how the White House is handling the various controversies it's facing. There has been no formal press briefing in 69 days.
But back to this weekend now. The congressman, Justin Amash, who was calling for the president's impeachment, he is the only Republican in the house to do that so far. A Republican senator told CNN today that it's not time to talk impeachment on his side of Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): My own view is that Justin Amash has reached a different conclusion than I have. I respect him. I think it's a courageous statement, but I believe that to make a case for obstruction of justice you just don't have the elements that are evidenced in this document.
And I also believe that an impeachment call is not only something that relates to the law, but also considers practicality and politics. And the American people just aren't there, and I think those that are considering impeachment have to look also at the jury, which would be the Senate.
The Senate is certainly not there either. Everyone reaches their own conclusion, as I read the report, I was troubled by it. I was very disappointing for a number of reasons, but it did not suggest to me that this was time to call for impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The House Intelligence Committee chairman, a Democrat, says he sees this call for impeachment only starting to grow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Can an impeachment be potentially successful in the Senate? We see no signs of that yet. And, you know, I respect what Justin Amash is doing and has said, he showed more courage than any other Republican in the House or Senate.
But what may be pushing us in the direction of impeachment in any event has less to do with Justin Amash and more to do with the fact that the administration is engaging in a maximum obstructionism campaign against Congress.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CNN HOST: You do think there is more of a movement towards impeachment?
SCHIFF: I think that we are seeing more members that recognize that the administration is acting in a lawless fashion. Essentially having obstructed justice is now obstructing Congress in our lawful function.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House right now. Boris, the president accusing this congressman of just trying to "get his name out there through controversy." Any prominent voices reacting to this unprecedented move in the ranks of the Republican Party? Any other ones?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, so far, Mitt Romney is the most prominent Republican outside of the White House to speak out about this. Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the RNC put out a statement last night saying that it was sad to see Justin Amash in her words "parroting Democratic talking points."
On the other side, a lot of Democrats like Adam Schiff are are coming to Justin Amash's defense including Senator Elizabeth Warren who perhaps not coincidentally is running to kick President Trump out of the White House. Listen to what she said during a campaign event earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D-MA): Congressman Amash made the point in his statement that he felt uneasy about this fundamental question about who we owe our loyalty to. And on this I could not be stronger. I took an oath of office to uphold the constitution of the United States of America.
There is no exception in that oath for political inconvenience. Everyone, everyone in this country is subject to the rule of law that includes the president of the United States. I believe we need to bring this impeachment action and we need to have every member of Congress vote on it and live with that vote for the rest of their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Still, Ana, the prospects for impeachment remain low after all, the most powerful Democrat in Congress, Nancy Pelosi, has said that she would prefer to see President Trump voted out of office instead of pursuing impeachment.
One other quick note on an entirely different subject, less than an hour ago, President Trump sending out this tweet about Iran, this as the two countries are facing escalating tensions. President Trump writing, "If Iran wants to fight that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again."
President Trump continuing to put pressure on Iran there. Just for some context, let's remember the history here, President Trump has tweeted about Iran like this before and when it comes to another regime that the United States has had a trouble some past with North Korea.
[17:04:58] Remember he said, "fire and fury," the likes of which the world had never seen would be the response to North Korean aggression, before ultimately he ended up meeting with Kim Jong-un and has had a lot of praise for the North Korean leader. So perhaps this is just the way that President Trump talks when he wants to sit down at a negotiating table. Ana?
CABRERA: OK, Boris Sanchez at the White House for us. Thank you.
Congressman, thanks for joining you us. I want to start with your Republican colleague, Justin Amash, calling for impeachment. You have a law degree. Do you agree with Amash? Are you ready to impeach the president?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): We're on the road to impeachment, it's not a road I think any of us want to go on, but now it's a bipartisan road, it looks like. And I will tell you, Ana, that Mr. Amash is someone that from the day the Russians did this, he and I worked together to put forward legislation to have an independent commission.
I believe that we should put what the Russians did and to study it out of Congress and into the hands of experts and scholars and statesperson. Every Democrat joined me when I wrote that legislation. Only two Republicans, Justin Amash was one of them. So, he showed courage very early on and so I'm not surprised that he's standing up for what's right today.
CABRERA: Just to clarify, when you say we're on the road to impeachment. Are you ready to call for impeachment at this time?
SWALWELL: Well, I'm on the judiciary committee, you know, I'm actually one of the only -- I am the only presidential candidate who would actually have to try the case on that committee. And so what I want to do is make sure that as we go down this road, that we get the full Mueller report we hear from Bob Mueller, that we hear from Don McGahn.
And that we are not doing Donald Trump justice, which if we did Donald Trump justice, we would already reach the conclusion and not rely on the facts. I still believe in the rule of law. I think the rule of law responsibly would dictate us to start having, you know, the full Mueller report and these hearings immediately, but I think that's where we ultimately end up.
CABRERA: Well, we did have hundreds of prosecutors, former federal prosecutors who came out in recent weeks saying that they see with their own eyes in the Mueller report, the redacted portion of it, that the president obstructed justice. Again, you have a law degree yourself. If he obstructed justice, what's your hesitation to say it's time to impeach?
SWALWELL: I was a prosecutor as well. And he's a double-digit obstructer by Bob Mueller's standards. And again, Ana, to me it's just I don't want to do Donald Trump justice. When this president is impeached, I want it to have the weight of the process and the order that respectfully gave him a fairer trial than he deserved.
So, I'm certainly not taking it off the table. I'm just saying I think the best thing we could do is get Bob Mueller in and see the full report, which right now, the president could just order it to be released to us. He said he's 100 percent exonerated. Well, if that's the case, he should give us 100 percent of the report.
CABRERA: I want to ask you more about your oversight responsibilities and all these different probes into the president because right now, CNN is aware of at least 21 subpoenas relating to the president. What do you say to those who argue you're overreaching, not conducting oversight?
SWALWELL: Well, we can walk and chew gum because this Congress has also passed background checks. We just passed the Equality Act last week that gives the LGBTQ community more rights, certainly at their workplace. We passed the For the People Act which updates the Voting Rights Act and has independent (inaudible) commissions in every single state so our elections are no longer rigged through gerrymandering.
So, that means that we have also have a responsibility to put a balance of power on all of these abuses of power. We can't look the other way just because there are other priorities. It's a lot of work. It's certainly more than I think you would ever see any Congress have to do with any president, but we're up for the job and making sure that this is still a country of free ideas, free markets and a free press. That is our top responsibility.
CABRERA: But what is actually being accomplished because you just listed some of the different bills and legislation the house is passing, but you as well as a lot of us know, those are dead on arrival in the Senate. And so in order to actually accomplish it, there has to be bipartisanship, right?
SWALWELL: And Ana, infrastructure there is that opportunity. You know, just last week, Speaker Pelosi, she met with the president and infrastructure and you know, whether it's greening the grid, repairing bridges and roads that need it, that is a priority and I understand there's going to be another meeting probably this week.
And so if the president wants to work with us, he will find willing parties there to create jobs and move people around. But Ana, on the issue I just want to say on background checks, there's a gun safety majority in America and, you know, brave be the senator that doesn't take that vote up if you're a Republican right now.
I was just at an event in Indiana and I had dozens of moms demand action volunteers there. In southern Indiana, this issue is one that they are truly demanding action, and senators will pay the price at the ballot box if they don't pass background checks.
[17:10:02] And so that leads me to where we're headed in the next questions because on top of investigating the president, trying to legislate, there you are on the campaign trail, you're running for president, one of 23 Democrats who have thrown their hats in the ring. Do you think there are too in Democrats in this race? Could it eventually hurt the nominee?
SWALWELL: Absolutely not. We are the "Avengers," it's not "Hunger Games." We are all I believe called because we want to save this great country, not aim so low to just beat Donald Trump. I believe if we go big on the issues, be bold with the solutions and do good in the way we govern, that every person in America will see their hard work add up to doing better and dreaming better.
That's why I came to Indiana. I was born in Iowa, married a Hoosier, was educated in the south and I'm elected in a very diverse part of California. My candidacy is in part rooted on I can add states because I know this country so well.
CABRERA: You're a father, you're a husband, over the last few weeks, and multiple states have passed incredibly restrictive abortion laws and you said you will only nominate Supreme Court justices who promise to uphold Roe versus Wade. Do you think 2020 is going to be a battle over the Supreme Court?
SWALWELL: Yes, and it must be. And I would only appoint justices that uphold the law, and also, I would fight to make sure that we put into law more protections in Congress that cement the Roe v. Wade ruling, including repealing the Hyde Amendment, which essentially only allows women of wealth and means to have abortions services while any other woman who receives government healthcare is prohibited from doing so.
And that's I think a benefit from having a young family in the White House. We get these issues that are facing young people from student debt, which I have, to having our kids safe in our schools, to a woman being able to make her own health care decisions.
CABRERA: When you talk about, yes, you believe the Supreme Court is going to be a major issue for 2020, I talk to a lot of people on the campaign back 2016, who voted for Donald Trump, because the Supreme Court was such a big issue for them. What makes you think Democrats would have the upper hand this time around? SWALWELL: Well, it's the cost of us not recognizing how big of an
issue it was in 2016, now that we have two justices on the bench who probably will not uphold the ruling in Roe v. Wade. And also, we've seen the devastating effects of money and politics because the Supreme Court said that money is speech and that corporations are people.
And so, being a president who would do all I could to get rid of the dirty money and the dirty maps (ph) that pollute our government, that is a priority for so many people because structurally, it's really poisoning our democracy.
CABRERA: Congressman Eric Swalwell, really appreciate your time, thank you.
SWALWELL: Thank you. My pleasure, Ana.
CABRERA: Let's go live to Washington now. We have got Republican strategist and CNN political commentator, Alice Stewart, and congressional reporter for the "Washington Post" and CNN political analyst Rachael Bade. Alice, with a Republican lawmaker now calling for Trump's impeachment, is there any worry inside the party that this could start to snowball?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, there is zero. And President Trump was a little harsh in referring to Congressman Amash as a loser, but he is a libertarian Republican. And so to say as Congressman Swalwell just said, that this is a bipartisan effort on the road to impeachment, is putting much too much emphasis on the impact of these statements.
Republicans understand the outcome of the Mueller report. It showed no collusion, no conspiracy, and he wasn't able to come to a determination on obstruction of justice. And without that, it's really hard to move further on impeachment when you don't have the underlying crime. So this is one Republican who is a libertarian and he is not going to open up the floodgates.
Republicans understand the Mueller report has been decided and they want to focus on issues that the American people are concerned about, certainly jobs and the health care and the economy. And the Mueller report for many in the Republican Party is a done deal and it's time to move forward.
CABRERA: But Alice, do you think Congressman Amash is right when he says most of his colleagues haven't even read the whole Mueller report.
STEWART: It could be, but the reality is they have a staff and I can guarantee you that every single member of Congress, whether they've read it or not, they have a member of their staff that has read it, and they've given them the advice based on reading every single word of the full Mueller report. And they are comfortable with the outcome and they are comfortable with where they are on this decision.
And no one is going to, at this stage of the game, come forward and say, let's open up this investigation again, let's look further into this because the report is done and they are ready to move on. And there's not bipartisan effort to move forward. And look, as you've indicated, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not even ready to go down that road.
So, I think that says a lot right there, and this is a situation where people waited for the results of the Mueller report so they could point the finger at this administration.
[17:15:03] Were there things that were ill-advised? Were there things that shouldn't have been done? Absolutely, but nothing as we have determined, was illegal and the case is closed.
CABRERA: Rachel, what's your sense of where this call from Congressman Amash is going, anywhere?
RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree with Alice, that it's not going to, you know, open the floodgates for a bunch of Republicans to all of a sudden be calling for Trump's impeachment, but I do think this could have an effect on the Democratic Party, and that there's a quiet group of Democrats in the House who have been huddling privately and talking about trying to put pressure on Speaker Pelosi and try to get her to move, again, some sort of impeachment proceeding against the president.
Now, these people, we're talking about this last week. Imagine, you know, Amash coming out -- the first Republican coming out and saying he would potentially, well, that Trump's actions were impeachable. They're going to take that and they're going to use that to increase this pressure on the speaker.
Pelosi has been very cautious and she does not want to impeach the president. She believes it's going to divide the country. She sees it as, you know, a potential loser -- potential political loser for the party. But there are more and more Democrats and it's not just because of the Mueller report. It's because Trump is stonewalling more than 20 congressional investigations.
He is saying he's going to ignore all their subpoenas and he's blocking any congressional oversight of the administration in an unprecedented way that even experts, Republican experts say really infringes on the separation of powers that has long governed our democracy.
And so, there's a lot of angry Democrats in the House and this, Justin Amash's new voice in this debate, it's only going to give them greater energy and sort of amplify their push, I think, to get Pelosi to begin those impeachment proceedings.
CABRERA: Rachael Bade, Alice Stewart, thank you ladies. Good to have you with us.
Twenty-three Democrats are vying to take the fight to President Trump, but whole show one candidate is by far the front-runner, Joe Biden. So with Bernie Sanders losing ground to the former vice president, what's his plan to turn it around? We'll take you live to the campaign trail, next. [17:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: The 2020 race is heating up this weekend especially after Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden's official campaign kickoff rally yesterday in his home state of Pennsylvania. Giving a tour out today, Senator Kamala Harris. She's holding an event at a community college in Los Angeles.
Senator Elizabeth Warren headlining rallies and a town hall in New Hampshire. Congressman Seth Molten rolling out his national volunteer service initiative at his event in Massachusetts. Also, Congressman Eric Swalwell holding a town hall in Indiana. And another one of those candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders set to join the march for reproductive freedom in Birmingham, Alabama this afternoon after holding a campaign rally.
A Fox News poll shows Sanders is at 17 percent, trailing Joe Biden by a significant margin. You can see among Democratic primary voters. Senator Elizabeth Warren follows at 9 percent and Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 6 percent.
Sanders is among several Democratic candidates openly now ripping Biden. Sanders, this week, taking aim at the former vice president's Iraq war vote and support for NAFTA. CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Birmingham, Alabama. And Ryan, just how concerned is the Sanders campaign about Biden enthusiasm eating into his support and what are they planning to do about it?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN: Well Ana, if you talk to the campaign, they will tell you they are not worried about it at all. If this were a race between a tortoise and a hare, they say that they are much more willing to be the tortoise. They are looking at this at a very slow and steady pace. They have a plan in place, a strategy, and they're not going to over react to fluctuations in the polls.
And listen, Ana, they expected Joe Biden to come into this race with a ton of support. They knew that his name recognition was going to catapult him to the top of the field. This is something that they have told me that they expected from the very beginning.
So as a result, they're not going to change that strategy all that much. What we do know is that they're not going to shy away from drawing specific policy distinctions with Vice President Biden. That's something that you've already seen done. We know that it was Senator Sanders himself who spearheaded that policy strategy.
They're not going to attack him personally, but they're going to make it clear to Democratic voters that Bernie Sanders sees the world from a certain perspective, and Joe Biden sees the world from a certain perspective.
They're taking the gamble that Democratic primary voters more aligned with Senator Sanders' view of the world. We'll have to see if that strategy plays out. But as of right now, Ana, no plans for a big strategy shift just because Vice President Biden is doing so well. CABRERA: So after today's rally, Sanders is planning to join this
march for reproductive freedom. Ryan, how is Sanders addressing the abortion rights issue on the campaign trail especially when compared to his nearly two dozen Democratic rivals, all of whom support Roe v. Wade?
NOBLES: Right. This is one of those issues that Democratic voters care a lot about but there isn't a whole lot of distinctions between the candidates as to where they stand on this issue. But this was actually just good timing for Senator Sanders, that he had this southern swing planned at the same time that this law was passed in Alabama.
They've had this trip planned for quite some time, and it just so happen that it was going to end up here in Birmingham and then in Montgomery tomorrow. So, Ana, essentially what Bernie Sanders is telling Democratic voters, is that if you're looking for someone who's been consistent on the issue of abortion for more than a decade, more than two decades, going back 30, 40 years at the start of his political career, Bernie Sanders is your guy.
This is someone who has never waivered in his support of abortion rights and his support of Roe v. Wade. And that's not going to change when he becomes president of the United States. And what we're seeing here with this campaign is the ability to adapt. You know, they rolled out a huge education plan yesterday which you'd think would have been the focus of this trip.
But because abortion is getting so many of the headlines, they're adjusting. He's going to go on this rally, which is going to happen immediately after his event here today and he's going to march with these abortion supporters and then make a big deal about it when he goes to Montgomery tomorrow, Ana.
CABRERA: OK. Ryan Nobles in Birmingham, Alabama, thank you.
President Trump just tweeted this new warning moments ago. "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran." So what's the reason for this aggressive new posture? A live report from Washington, next.
[17:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Just in to CNN, President Trump tweeting this stern warning to Iran. "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again." This is not the first time we've heard such direct language from the president aimed at Iran.
Just 10 months ago, Trump tweeted this message to President Rouhani, "Never ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer the consequences, the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before." Michelle Kosinski joins us now from Washington. First of all, do we know what prompted this new threat from the president? MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: No. That's
the obvious question, right. You would think that you would go straight to the administration and say, what's this about, let's be clear about this. But nobody is saying anything at this point about what prompted this?
I would look very closely though at what happened today. This tweet comes not long after a rocket was fired into the green zone in Baghdad. This is a diplomatic area. It landed very close to the U.S. embassy. This is the kind of attacks that you would see in the past from Iran-backed groups.
So, is the U.S. viewing this as yet another signal from Iran that they're willing to do things like this? It's possible. Another thing, Ana, is that we're expecting very soon, I mean, possibly as soon as tomorrow for the U.S. and its partners in the Gulf to say who was behind those attacks on commercial ships off of the UAE? Was that Iran? How far -- if so, how far up into the leadership did it go? There are other governments who do believe that Iran was behind that.
[17:30:01] So, if we're going to see an announcement like that soon, it is possible that Trump is responding to this, but, you know, in the past few days, we've seen him come out and say, well, you know, he's the peaceful one. Trump is the one who tempers hawks like John Bolton. I just want to talk to Iran.
And now he's saying, well hey, if you want to fight, that's going to be the end of you. So, we see at times mixed messages not just from people within the administration, but now it seems like a shift in the tone that Trump himself wants to set and analysts will say, when you're dealing with the Middle East, and especially with an entity like Iran, mixed messages are not the way you want to go here.
You want to be very clear in what you want to see Iran do. You want to be very clear in what you're willing to do so that there isn't misinterpretation or missed calculation on either side.
CABRERA: Well, we reported yesterday that this whole escalation and potential confrontation may have come about because of a misunderstanding according to some reporting in the "Wall Street Journal." We'll see where this goes next. Michelle Kosinski, we know you'll keep us updated if we hear anything more from the White House. Thank you.
It's not just Alabama. At least 15 states have passed or considered measures to restrict abortion. We'll take a look at what's behind this sudden wave of legislation taking aim at Roe v. Wade, next.
[17:35:01] CABRERA: Harsh laws and cold political calculous as Alabama lays down the most restrictive abortion law in the country. It seems President Trump thinks it went too far. On twitter, he said this, in part, "Strongly Pro-Life with the three exceptions, rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother, the same position taken by Ronald Reagan. Now, Alabama's new law does not allow abortion including in cases of
rape or incest. And the law is not alone when it comes to taking aim at existing abortion rights. In all, at least 15 states have passed or considered measures to restrict abortion laws this year.
But the actual legislation isn't the point. All these bills are part of a coordinated and concerted effort to put Roe v. Wade in the crosshairs. The debate even made it to "Saturday Night Live" season finale. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look, the fact that nine states are doing this, means this really is a war on women. And if you're a woman out there and you feel scared or confused, just know you're not alone. There are so many women out there that got your back, especially me. You can't tell me what to do with my body. You can't make me small or put me in a box.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN contributor Irin Carmon is a senior correspondent for the New York magazine and has been following this abortion debate for the past decade or so. Erin, thank you so much for being here. I mean, this grassroots movement to dial back abortion rights and Roe v. Wade in particular, has been percolating for years, right?. So, why now? Why such a boiling point in this moment? Is it because of the Supreme Court make-up?
IRIN CARMON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So, there are a few dynamics happening here. Some are which are longstanding and some of which are new. Longstanding is people sitting in a room trying to strategize how to overturn the 45-year precedent of Roe v. Wade. This is something that the Republicans and the anti-abortion we've met have been figuring out what the best way is to effectuate for quite some time.
But what you see in Donald Trump's tweet, which frankly sounds like a staffer wrote it, is the kind of fissure that happens here. They've decided that the best way to erode abortion rights in this country is to chip away at it, as opposed to banning it 100 percent.
They worry that a total ban will actually create the kind of backlash that we've seen this week. People hear things like no exceptions for rape and incest instead of banning it outright. They want to stigmatize it. They want to shutdown clinics. They want to create all kinds of hoops that women have to jump through before going to access an abortion.
A total ban has always been something that they think that the country is not ready for. However, there are activists in these states that are emboldened by the Trump presidency. They are emboldened by the fact that Brett Kavanaugh has replaced Anthony Kennedy.
Anthony Kennedy was the pivotal vote on abortion rights in this country. And they are no longer listening to the central planners of the anti-abortion movement. They have decided that they want to send this message now and they want to try their luck with the Supreme Court.
CABRERA: So let's take a look at some of the more recent polling on the abortion issue. Right now, we have a Pew Research Center poll from lat last year showing the majority of Americans, 58 percent believe abortion should be legal in most cases compared to 37 percent who say it should be illegal in most cases.
There is also this Fox News poll from just this past February, nearly 6 in 10 Americans say Roe v. Wade should stay in place. So, do you really think Roe v. Wade is in danger?
CARMON: Well look, the justices are going to consider all kinds of factors. They're going to consider public opinion even if they say that they won't, but they're also going to consider precedent, what they want to do, what they consider constitutional rights, what they consider as constitutionally appropriate.
But you're absolutely right to shout out the fact that a public opinion is not in favor of these outright bans. And in fact, I've seen polling from Perry (inaudible) says that 53 percent of Republicans do not want Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
But, this is a matter of a small minority that is deeply passionate about this has very strong beliefs that abortion should be illegal. And they have figured out how to advocate their cause in state houses around the country. And those who feel otherwise could follow their example. They've really laid the groundwork for this to happen.
CABRERA: It won't change though unless the Supreme Court decides to change the Roe v. Wade protections that --
CARMON: Absolutely. This --
CABRERA: -- are common. And are we see any signs from the Supreme Court right now?
CARMON: So there are a few things. One, in the short term, the Supreme Court is unlikely to allow any of these laws to go into effect. In the long term, when they'll be briefed when, you know, it could take years for something like this to reach the pipeline.
But just on Monday, you have Justice Steven Breyer sending a very strong signal that he's concerned. He not only said that the court is drastically overturning precedents in unrelated cases. He actually cited the major abortion precedent, Planned Parenthood versus Casey, seemingly sending a message to everybody to say, this court may indeed be ready to overturn Roe v. Wade.
It's going to come down to Chief Justice John Roberts and to some extent, Kavanaugh. We don't know exactly where their heart lies but we do know that this has been a priority of the conservative movement for 45 years.
[17:40:06] CABRERA: Irin Carmon, so good to have you with us. Thank you very much.
CARMON: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: He is almost a five-star rating as an Uber driver. But this man is also an alleged war criminal. Up next, a CNN exclusive, anyone who takes an Uber needs to see.
CABRERA: Could your next five-star Uber driver be an accused war criminal? Well, for riders in Virginia, that was a real possibility until this week. CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reports.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yusuf Abdi Ali is an accused war criminal facing a civil trial in Virginia alleging he is responsible for atrocities including torture and attempted murder in Somalia in the 1980s. While awaiting trial, he has been driving for Uber.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You Ali?
YUSUF ABDI ALI, ALLEGED WAR CRIMINAL: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just coming now.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Under cover CNN producers last week ordered an Uber in northern Virginia. Yusuf, listed on the app as an Uber pro diamond driver with a 4.89 rating picked them up. Yusuf Ali also told us he drives for Lyft.
[17:45:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you from.
ALI: Originally for Somalia.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Sir, I was surprised to see that you drive for Uber and Lyft. Did the background checks for those companies not reveal the fact that you're accused of torture and murder and about to face a trial here for basically terrorizing communities?
(voice-over): Just how Uber and Lyft missed the accusations exposes a potential hole in their screening process. A simple Google search of Ali's name brings up article after article about his alleged brutality as a commander in the Somalian security force.
A major expose by CNN in 2016 found the alleged war criminal working as a security guard at Dulles International Airport. A job he was fired from shortly after the report aired. And a search would have revealed this, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary, with villagers telling terrifying stories of Yusuf Ali's actions, the man they knew as Coloner Tukeh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two men were caught, tied to a tree, oil was poured on them and they were burned alive. I saw it with my own eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He caught my brother. He tied him to a military vehicle and dragged him behind. He said to us, if you have got enough power, get him back. He shredded him into pieces. That's how he died.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Farhan Warfaa is a Somalian who claims in 1998 Ali tortured him for months, then shot him twice and ordered guards to bury him alive. He survived. And since no international court has jurisdiction, Warfaa has turn to civil court in the U.S. to seek damages.
In court filings, Ali acknowledges he was a colonel in the Somali national army, but denies having attempted extrajudicial killing and torture, and denies directing any such actions by his subordinates. Ali told us he's been an Uber driver for a year and a half and that background check he said was easy.
ALI: If you apply tonight, maybe after two days it will come up.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Last year, Uber tightened its background checks after CNN found convicted felons were able to become ride share drivers. Both Uber and Lyft say their background checks include criminal offenses and driving incidents.
And the company that does the screening check tells CNN in a statement that they rely on public criminal records that have been adjudicated in a court of law rather than unverified sources like Google search results. Ali has never been convicted of a crime, only accused.
(on camera): Mr. Ali, I have to give you the opportunity to respond to all the allegations. You may not wish to respond to all the allegations, but the allegations are that basically you tortured people, murdered people.
Both Uber and Lyft say they don't review social media or conduct Google searches as part of background checks on potential drivers. But when we pointed out Ali's history through a simple Google search, both companies took immediate action to remove him.
Lyft banned Ali altogether for life. Uber suspended him pending a review. His trial is expected to wrap up in Virginia this week. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CABRERA: Stonewalling, the president and the White House have been doing a lot of that lately. What recourse do House Democrats have? CNN legal analyst Elie Honig joins us next to answer your questions.
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CABRERA: The president is lashing out at the first sitting Republican member of Congress to call his behavior impeachable. He is attacking Michigan Congressman Justin Amash on twitter as a total lightweight after Amash said the Mueller report shows Trump obstructed justice.
It comes as some Democrats warn the president is moving closer to impeachment with all his stonewalling of numerous inquiries into him and his presidency. Let's discuss the growing battle between the Trump and the House Democrats in our weekly segment "Cross Exam" with Elie Honig. He's to answer your questions about legal news. He's a former federal and state prosecutor and now a CNN legal analyst. So Elie, our first viewer wants to know can the House use its power of the purse to force the White House and Justice Department to comply with subpoenas?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's such a smart question from our viewer in Florida. The answer is yes. So, thus far, Congress has really just been steamrolled by the White House and the executive branch. There is really no other way to put it. Every subpoena has been either rejected or ignored by the White House.
So what can Congress do? I got that question a lot this week. People are wondering. They can vote to hold officials in contempt. At this point it's almost entirely symbolic. The water (ph) is up there joking about it. It doesn't really carry much force.
They can take cases into courts. We're starting to see that. But it's time consuming and the longer this drags on, the worse for Congress and the better for the White House. But this would be sort of the nuclear option, which is Congress holds the purse strings.
Congress under our constitution has the power to tax and to spend, to appropriate money out to the federal agencies. So Congress could theoretically say either you comply or we're going to cut off your funding.
Now, it carries political risks for sure, right. It's going to look like Congress -- I'm sure opponents will say that they're holding their breath and having a temper tantrum, but sometimes, any parent can tell you sometimes temper tantrums work.
And look, it's the nuclear option and you're starting to see certain congressional leaders, Representative Schiff alluded to this just a couple of days ago. Nancy Pelosi is holding a very powerful card here. The question is she willing to play it.
CABRERA: And then the next question is who will they eventually get to come before their committees as the White House continues to stonewall? We're still waiting to see if Mueller is going to actually come and testify. We know the House Judiciary Committee is seeking that. Another viewer asks if and when Mueller testifies, what if any limits are there on what questions Congress can ask him?
HONIG: So, If Mueller does testify and I think he will, it won't be complete open game. I think there will be limits. So first of all, we're seeing a little bit of a game of hot potato as to the big question of whether Mueller testify.
Trump first said he shouldn't, then Trump said I'll leave it to Barr, then Barr said I'll leave to it Mueller. And then late last week there is reporting that the White House might be objecting legally behind the scenes.
Once this all does play out, if and when Mueller does testify, it's not going to necessarily be open game. I think a lot of the limits that we saw in the redactions in the report, Mueller will observe those too. He will not -- I do not believe he will be testifying about grand jury matters. I do not believe he will testify about ongoing matters. I don't belief he'll be testifying nor should he about classified matters.
[17:55:01] That said, when he does testify, the stakes are going to be enormous. He is going to talk about what he found on obstruction of justice. He is going to talk about his differences with Barr, which we're seeing growing. And one thing I think we're seeing is, the more people actually understand what's in the Mueller report, the stronger the concern is growing. So that's going to be a huge moment.
CABRERA: And so another viewer asked this question. Given Trump's propensities to subvert the norms of this presidency, can Congress pass new laws to enforce those norms?
HONIG: The answer is yes. So, our system has laws which are written rules that you cannot do. But we also have norms which are these unwritten rules that you just don't do. But throughout our history, when presidents or other people have violated norms, at times that's resulted in new laws.
Couple examples, two-term presidency -- that was a long-standing norm but it was never encoded in our law until after FDR ran for and received the third and fourth terms. After he broke that norm, new laws came into effect limiting it to two.
Another is nepotism. It used to be an unwritten norm that the president doesn't hire relatives to run any of the departments, until JFK hired his brother, Robert F. Kennedy as attorney general. After JFK's presidency, new law came on the books against that type of nepotism.
So, what types of new laws might we see after this presidency? The democracy task force, which is an interesting bipartisan group, has recommended a few. Perhaps requiring disclosure of taxes by any professional candidate. Perhaps putting in more protections to keep DOJ separate from the president. And perhaps limiting pardons and even self-pardons. The thing is that you have to wait until next term because no president is going to sign a law that limits his own ability --
CABRERA: -- is president. T
CABRERA: Quickly if you will, what are the top questions for this week?
HONIG: Big questions not only relating to "Game of Thrones." We've got our own "Game of Thrones" playing out here in D.C. First of all, will we see more subpoena battles go to the court? We saw the first one last week in the dispute -- the subpoena to Mazars, which is the president's accounting firm.
I think we're going see more go this week. Probably look for the tax returns questions to go to the courts this week. Second, are we going to see other members of Congress follow the lead of Representative Amash who is the first Republican to come out and say that impeachment is warranted?
And the big one, will we learn that Mueller is going to testify in congress? I think we will. I do not expect him to testify this week, but I do think he'll be testifying within the next couple of weeks. That's going to be huge.
CABRERA: OK. Thank you so much. Elie Honig, as always. If you want to catch more of your questions and get those answers go to "Cross Exam" on cnn.com. OK, see what happens when victims of violent crimes and their offenders meet face-to-face on the new CNN Original Series, "The Redemption Project" with Van Jones tonight at 9:00 followed by "United Shades of America" with W. Kamau Bell at 10:00. We'll be right back.
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