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Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) is Interviewed about Judge Upholding Subpoenas for Trump's Financial Records; Violent Tornado Slams Missouri's Capital, 3 Dead in State. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 23, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting our first look at the damage after a tornado hit Missouri's capital city overnight. NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, May 23rd, 8:00 now in the east. And we are getting our first look. The sun has come up over the widespread damage in Missouri's capital. This after a deadly outbreak of tornadoes tore through the central United States. Here is an apartment building, you are looking at on your screen, this is in Jefferson City, the capital, it's been torn apart. You can see trees have been snapped in half, debris is scattered around neighborhoods.

So authorities are now going door to door to make sure that no one is trapped, that everyone is safe. We just spoke to Missouri's Governor Mike Parson about these deadly tornadoes, and he addressed the problems in the state moments ago.


GOV. MIKE PARSON, (R-MO): Unfortunately, we are still assessing damage this morning. There's going to be multiple injuries at multiple locations. I think there is about 20 people maybe that was treated last night or by ambulance to a hospital here in town. And again, we are still just assessing damage.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: More than two dozen twisters carved a path from Oklahoma to Missouri in the last 24 hours, killing three people in Golden City, Missouri. The powerful storm also brought catastrophic flooding to Oklahoma. You can see these new aerial images showing homes so dangerously close to the swollen river. CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers has the very latest on all of this weather for us. And it's not done yet, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Certainly not. This won't be done until Monday. There's going to be storm after storm, every afternoon tornadoes are going to come out to play. Thirty tornadoes yesterday, and obviously now we know that there were fatalities yesterday. Some of these were long track tornadoes on the ground for miles and miles. So let's get to it. We are about 3:00 yesterday afternoon, the sun is

out, but then all of a sudden, we had one cell develop southwest of Oklahoma City, and the first tornado watch was put out. And then a little while longer another tornado watch was put out right through Jefferson and Joplin. Yesterday was the eighth anniversary of the Joplin tornado. So then we move on up here to Joplin in the afternoon, daytime, a tornado touched down two miles north of Joplin, and that's what it looked like on the eighth anniversary, Carl Junction right there.

Then the storm continued to develop and move up toward Jefferson City. There's the next stop for this big line of storms just moving right toward Jeff City. And there is the tornado storm right there, a big hook on the storm, a lot of rotation, and that's what it looked like in a lightning flash. This was after dark, well after dark, a big, big tornado there. And we still have more threats of tornadoes today, even in the northeast, because this weather has now shifted to the northeast, and another round of severe weather is going to pop up in the plains from Kansas back to Oklahoma and also north Texas. Big day again today. We will keep watching it.

BERMAN: We are watching it. Chad, thank you so much for being there.

We want to shift the focus now to Oklahoma where officials in Tulsa are encouraging residents to prepare for evacuations. They're worried a major dam there could fail. You can show these new pictures right now, we're seeing these homes dangerously close to the swollen rivers there, could they fall in? Our Omar Jimenez is live in Guthrie, Oklahoma, with the very latest. Omar, what are you seeing?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, we've really seen the flooding ebb and flow over the course of this morning. That's exactly what officials are warning people about, that as they potentially let their guards down the risks aren't done. We've been showing these aerial images over the course of this morning. You see how close these homes are dangling on the edge of the Cimarron River here in Oklahoma. That's along the river that we are standing right now, and that's the river that at the peak of this flooding was so powerful that it brought entire homes with it into the river.

And when you talk about the efforts that have had to take place to make sure that people are safe, rescuers have plunged head first into these waters at times over the course of this week, just trying to save people who were trapped at times from this water that came so quickly and so dangerously in many portions and then, yes, as you mentioned to the eastern part of the state in Tulsa they are worried about a dam overflowing there, so that is something we are keeping an eye on as well. John, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Omar, thank you very much for the update from there.

Now to Washington and politics. The feud between the Trump administration and House Democrats reaching a breaking point it seemed yesterday. President Trump walked out of a meeting that was supposed to be focused on infrastructure. The president insists he cannot work with Democrats until they stop investigating him. Joining us to give us insight into her reporting, Maggie Haberman, White House Correspondent for "The New York Times" and CNN political analyst. Maggie, great to have you.


CAMEROTA: So the president changes his mind because he was angry yesterday and walked out of his meeting and said that he can't work with lawmakers while they are investigating him. Is that -- is that set, or today will we hear something different?

[08:05:07] HABERMAN: I don't know if we will hear anything different today, but I don't think anything is ever set with Donald Trump. I think everything is one long continuous transaction. And so I think that that is what this was. If anything, he stated it as a transaction. Stop investigating me and then I will work with you. I think that he had made up his mind we know before Speaker Pelosi got there to blow up this meeting.

CAMEROTA: Tell us about that. So what's your reporting that he was planning to do this?

HABERMAN: So he's been in a not great mood for the last several days. He was unhappy about his rally for some reason on Monday in Pennsylvania, was griping to aides about it on the way home. He was watching all this coverage about his internal polling suggesting that he's in trouble in certain states, which his campaign manager then pushed back on. Then you saw the president tweet himself yesterday I would be at 65 percent if not for all these investigations. This is all wrapped up together for him.

So yesterday morning when Nancy Pelosi made this statement about him being engaged in a coverup, that phrase set him off. He was already, I think, cued to not be pleased with this meeting, and then decided fairly hastily, this was not mentioned in their communications meeting yesterday morning, a small group of people were involved in this, to lay it out and have him get to the podium first. Remember, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have been pretty good about spinning these meetings after the fact before he has had a chance to, and I think he was trying to do the opposite.

BERMAN: Why was it that he was so upset with Nancy Pelosi using the word "cover-up"? Because it's not as if that word hasn't been out there before or that concept, say, from the Southern District of New York when it charged Michael Cohen.


BERMAN: The president is individual one here whom the Justice Department has said was engaged in a cover-up.

HABERMAN: He wasn't pleased with that, either. It's not as if it was fine there and when Pelosi said it, it was a problem. But I think you are hitting on the important point here. I think that Pelosi for some reason gets under his skin, she seems to know how to. She does not need anything from him, and when one does not need something from him, he doesn't really feel like he has any leverage over them. So I think that's one thing.

The other thing is I do think the phrase cover-up ties back to what you just said. In his mind he hears it as related to the Michael Cohen case where he's implicated, not just by Michael Cohen but by prosecutors. They implicated him, they relying on other evidence, other witnesses implicated him.

BERMAN: And there were those who say he could be charged.

HABERMAN: Correct.

BERMAN: When his term is over.

HABERMAN: Correct. And that is the open question, is does he have criminal exposure if he is not reelected? If he is reelected, I think the statute of limitations ends and then he would be fine.

CAMEROTA: The irony of all this infrastructure week is that the president likes infrastructure. He has said repeatedly this is his thing. The Democrats want infrastructure. If there was one common ground everyone felt they could reach, it was infrastructure. And the American public needs infrastructure. So the idea that it never gets done is peculiar.

HABERMAN: It's really unfortunate that it's become this punchline, because it's hugely important. It is going to become increasingly more important as the U.S. infrastructure becomes older, becomes more decrepit, and becomes unattended to.

It's so fascinating to me, to your point, Chuck Schumer when the president was first elected during the transition when Steve Bannon was talking about working on $1 trillion infrastructure deal, Chuck Schumer was worried that they were going to come out of the gate wanting to do an infrastructure bill. He thought that it was going to put the Democrats in a no-win situation, they would have to go along with it, and then the president was going to have this huge sort of popular working class accomplishment. And instead he went for a tax bill at first. And that has -- actually he went for healthcare first, and then he went for a tax bill. And that has basically told the story of the president's legislative successes or failures. And here we are, yet another infrastructure week was become a joke.

BERMAN: It's interesting to me in this era of defiance, the White House and Trump associates are defying the subpoenas, they're pushing back politically at this point. What will happen if and when there are actual court orders? It seems to me that that's the crucial moment.

HABERMAN: I agree. I totally agree. I think that's going to be the test. And I believe, but, again, I could be wrong, that the White House will comply if they are told to comply by the courts. I think that if the Trump Organization is told to turn over documents by the courts, they will. Clearly, we've seen Deutsche Bank in this suit yesterday say they will comply with what the courts have ordered. These cases are all being appealed right now. We don't know what this timeframe is going to be. I do believe that the broader Trump apparatus will comply once a court

says, but which court? Are we talking about the Supreme Court? How high is this going to go? If you're Donald Trump and there is something that is problematic for him, politically problematic for him in those tax returns or in those loan documents and banking records, then you have to wonder why you wouldn't want it to come out now, because why would you push it to closer to the election?

[08:10:03] There is another school of thought, which is that he is basically just digging in defiance as we know he is prone to do sometimes because folks are trying to get things that he doesn't want them to have, and that his real concern is that it's going to show that he doesn't have as much money as he says he does, or that he's indebted, or so forth and so on. And I don't know what the answer is.

CAMEROTA: Do you know if there is a feeling inside the White House with these new decisions, the Deutsche Bank decision, that they have to turn it over, the Mazars Accounting Firm, that they have to turn it over. Are people nerve-wracked in the White House? Or now, they're just digging in?

HABERMAN: No, they dig in. I think the tone gets set from him, and they all take a posture of defending him, and they see the position that's being taken by the president's critics or by the House as just political. And it's not like there is a lot of people who are there saying something very different than what you hear the president saying.

BERMAN: It is interesting to me, though, because I do get the political strategy of delay, delay, delay, fight, fight, fight. But it seems yesterday there was a whole lot that happened that moved it several steps closer to an actual court ruling, which is very, very different.

HABERMAN: Yes, I think that's correct. And I think that that's going to be the question. This president has made clear he does not recognize the investigative authority of this Congress. That is what you have seen him say, the Trump Organization say. Every entity related to President Trump say this is a legislative body, they should be legislating. In fact, they are also empowered to do oversight, and he doesn't recognize that. So the question becomes does he recognize the courts.

CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, thank you very much. Always great to talk to you.

So coming up in just minutes, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is going to join us live.

BERMAN: A federal court dealt another blow to the Trump administration's efforts to keep the president's financial records out of Congress' hands. We were just talking about that. We will speak to a Democrat who has been at the center of so much, not just this face-off with the Treasury Secretary, but the one-on-one with Ben Carson the other day as well. Katie Porter joins us next.


[08:16:02] BERMAN: This morning, the legal stonewall President Trump has built around his financial secrets is starting to show some cracks. The new fracture coming from a judge, a federal judge in New York upholding subpoenas from House Democrats to Deutsche Bank and Capital One for a swath of records tied to the president, his children and his companies.

Joining me now is Democratic congresswoman from California, Katie Porter. She sits on the House Financial Services Committee, which is one of the committees that issues the subpoenas and the representative has been in the news just a bit lately.

So, Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

If you get these records, what is it you and the committee want to do with them?

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): We've made clear in the request in the subpoenas themselves what exactly we're interested in. We're relying on statements from Michael Cohen that Mr. Trump underrepresented his debt and overrepresented his assets, inflated them, so we are going to be looking at that very issue.

We are looking for evidence of financial crimes based on the existing evidence and testimony that has guided us to this point. These are targeted subpoenas and I'm very pleased that the court recognized the right of Congress to do this appropriate oversight.

BERMAN: One of the arguments the president's lawyers have made is, well, what's the legislative purpose of wanting that? How would you respond?

PORTER: It's completely appropriate for Congress as the legislative body, as part of the system of checks and balances to review whether the president has engaged in financial misconduct and criminal activity that is inherent. If we didn't have Congress in that role, we would have absolutely no check at all on our president. That's not democracy.

BERMAN: There have now been two legal rulings by federal district judges suggesting that the president's battle to keep this information from Congress that that is not justified. Do you feel as if you are winning in this struggle to get the information you want?

PORTER: For me what would be a win for the American people is if the president would stop obstructing this process and simply comply with these lawful requests. When we have to go to court and we have to take up taxpayer dollars, when we have to litigate, when we have to deal with these kinds of delays, it's just hurting ultimately the American people.

So, for me, the win is if we can simply do our work in Congress of doing oversight, do our work delivering for the American people on legislative priorities. I was really frustrated that yesterday, President Trump basically engaged in a whole another form of obstruction which is basically saying I'm not going to cooperate on issues like prescription drug pricing and transportation and infrastructure, which are bipartisan priorities of this Congress.

BERMAN: Is the president engaged in a cover-up?

PORTER: I can't speak to what the president is or is not doing but I can tell you he's flatly refuse to go comply with the law, and nowhere is this more evident than with the secretary of the treasury, Mr. Mnuchin's refusal to provide the president's tax returns.

The argument that Mr. Mnuchin tried to offer before the committee yesterday, which is that somehow these tax returns are covered by executive privilege, is specious. Executive privilege is designed to protect deliberations and discussions, internal documents. It is not designed to protect things like tax returns, which are clearly covered by this law.

BERMAN: If you are saying the president and his administration are not following the law, why, then, or how, then, would you tell some Democratic voters that you should not open an impeachment inquiry?

PORTER: I think that we are still considering what the right path forward is. And I think this is -- American voters should be pleased, we are not rushing into judgment here, we're considering our options, we're trying to find the path forward that allows us to do our constitutional duty, to do right by Americans regardless of their party affiliation or their party preference, and this president is just making that more and more and more and more challenging.

So, I'm glad to see my colleagues and I being thoughtful and deliberate about it. These wins in court help, I think, help us get back on our feet doing the oversight work that we need to do.

[08:20:04] But the fact that we're having to litigate about all of this is a total loss to the American people. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars and it's flat out wrong.

BERMAN: So, Congresswoman, you've made congressional hearings on C- Span must see TV by asking actual questions about legislation and regulation. The latest moment happened with HUD Secretary Ben Carson. Let me just replay part of that so our audience in case they missed it can see it. Watch this.


PORTER: I'd also like you to get back to me, if you don't mind, to explain the disparity in REO rates. Do you know what an REO is?


PORTER: R -- no, not an Oreo. An REO. REO.

CARSON: Real estate --

PORTER: What's the O stand for? CARSON: The organization.

PORTER: Owned. Real estate owned, that's what happens when a property goes to foreclosure, we call it an REO.


BERMAN: All right. That was a heck of a moment. That happened two days ago. And then, yesterday, the secretary had this explanation for what went wrong with him.



CARSON: The fact of the matter is I was having difficulty hearing her and, of course, I'm very familiar with foreclosed properties and with REOs.


BERMAN: Does that explain it, he just had a hard time hearing you?

PORTER: I'm sorry, it simply does not. It was very clear what I was saying in the context, there were questions before that that made clear I was talking about foreclosed property and how FHA deals with defaulted loans. And frankly when you view the entirety of Mr. Carson's hearing performance, it wasn't just the answer to my question was inadequate, his entire performance at the hearing was inadequate. There was literally virtually no question that he was asked that he gave a complete and competent answer to.

BERMAN: Do you feel as if he's qualified to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development?

PORTER: I do not.

BERMAN: And, again, this gets to what the president said yesterday, that you can't investigate me and legislate with me at the same time. Will you cede congressional oversight over these departments in order to get these things?

PORTER: No, look, we have to be able to fill our constitutional duties and what the framers envisioned was our being able to do both things. They gave us legislative powers, they gave Congress the power of the purse and they also gave us oversight responsibility, including potentially the ultimate power of beginning impeachment and ultimately sending things over to the Senate to decide whether a conviction in appropriate.

We are -- the Constitution puts both of these responsibilities on us and we are absolutely capable of trying to do both things.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Katie Porter, thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

PORTER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: All right, John.

A violent tornado ripping through Missouri's capital overnight, three people have been killed in another part of the state. Chad Myers joins us with what he's looking at where it's going next.


[08:26:47] BERMAN: Breaking overnight, at least three people are dead after more than two dozen tornadoes tore through the central United States. Missouri's capital Jefferson City took a direct hit early this morning.

Some of the pictures here you can see complete destruction in some of these structures, trees obviously down everywhere. We also saw pictures of trucks flipped on to their sides.

Our meteorologist Chad Myers is tracking the system. He joins us now.

Chad, what are you seeing?

MYERS: It is moving to the east at another round is developing west of there. Thirty-one tornadoes yesterday, many of them on the ground for a very, very long time.

Now, many of these here were long track tornadoes, I'm going to back you up to 2:45 yesterday afternoon, one storm developing in Oklahoma, just to the southwest of Oklahoma City. By 5:00 or 6:00 there were many more storms than that and they were rolling up toward Joplin, Missouri. And, Joplin, Missouri, yesterday was the eighth anniversary of that major tornado that moved through not that long ago.

This tornado was two miles north of Joplin. Let me show it to you a little bit more zoomed in. There's Joplin, there's Carl Junction, there is the tornado, there is the rotation heading right to Golden City. And we know three people lost their lives in Golden City yesterday from that tornado. Two miles from one that hit just eight years ago.

So, there it goes, we move up toward Jefferson City and then this tornado develops not that long ago, about eight hours ago maybe, and then that tornado looked like that in the lightning flash, a big tornado on the ground. Luckily at this point in time, no fatalities there.

So, where does it go? To the east and another one develops farther west than that. So, let's get to New York City because you are under the gun. It's going to be hot and these storms will fire through Pennsylvania, into New York, Philadelphia and D.C.

D.C., you're going to be 89 degrees today. That's plenty who had to get severe weather. Even though you don't expect tornadoes that is a possibility. There is a 5 percent chance that anybody there could see a tornado within about 100 miles or so. Back out to the west, look at this, Amarillo back towards Wichita, another tornadic day in the plains expected today.

CAMEROTA: That's not good news.

Chad, please keep an eye on it for us.

MYERS: I will.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

All right. President Trump says he will not work with Democrats until they end the investigations of his administration. We'll discuss this and more with Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, next.