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Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) Discusses Ben Carson as "Inept," Saying He Lied, Should Resign, the Trump/Pelosi Feud, the Mueller Report and Impeachment; Comedian Colin Quinn Stars in CNN's "Red State, Blue State"; Trump Falsely Claims China Will Pay for $16 Billion Farmer Bailout. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:32:03] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This has been quite a week for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. First, he sits in a congressional hearing and wonders aloud if a member is asking him about Oreo cookies when she was asking him about an industry term that a housing secretary should know, REO.

And then, in that same hearing, he was asked about the possibility of a housing rules change impacting transgender people. Listen to this.


REP. JENNIFER WEXTON (D-VA): And can you assure this committee that you will not make any -- that HUD does not have any current or future plans to eliminate the Equal Access Rule during -- in rule making?

BEN CARSON, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: I'm not going to say what we will do in the future about anything. We don't know what we're going to do in the future.

WEXTON: Are you currently anticipating doing that?

CARSON: I'm not currently anticipating changing the rule.


BOLDUAN: But the very next day, Carson's department proposed a rule that would allow federally funded shelters to turn away transgenders based on religious grounds.

That member of Congress is Democrat Jennifer Wexton. She is now calling on Carson to resign. She says he lied basically straight to her face. She's saying that he has, quote, " proven himself to be deceitful and inept as HUD secretary."

Congresswoman Wexton joins me now.

Thanks for coming in.

WEXTON: Thank you for having me. First, why was this an important question for you to propose to

Carson? Did you have a clue or an inkling that changes were in the works there?

WEXTON: So I suspected, we suspected he might be making changes to this rule. The Equal Access Rule protects the LGBTQ community in HUD housing.

And I suspected, given the administration's hostility to the LGBTQ community, that there could be some changes taking place. That's why I asked the question. He lied to my face and said they did not anticipate changing it. The very next day, HUD announced a rule making that would basically gut the transgender protections in that rule.

BOLDUAN: After the hearing, I think it was also the next day, he called you to clarify. He says that he didn't fully understand your question. Now do you think -- do you think he intentionally lied to you or do you think he didn't understand the question or, I guess there's a third, he doesn't know the policies of his own agency?

WEXTON: It's pretty clear he intentionally lied to me. The question was clear. You showed the clip. He volunteered that he did not anticipate making changes to the rule and then went and did it the very next day.

Let me tell you why this matters. We know that nearly one-third of the transgender community will suffer homelessness during their lifetimes. And we also know that before the rule was promulgated, one in five shelters turned transgender people away. So this is really going to impact the community and could even cost people their lives.

BOLDUAN: You're proposing legislation in order to correct this. Because you're calling for him to resign. It's clearly not sign that that is going to happen.

WEXTON: Right.

BOLDUAN: How far do you take this fight?

[11:35:00] WEXTON: Well, I proposed legislation to ensure equal access. And I anticipate that will be moving in the coming weeks. But we've got to do what we can as Congress to stop these abuses by the executive branch.

BOLDUAN: I also want to ask you about this feud between the president and the House speaker. It's really flared up over the last two days. And it's all wrapped up in the question of impeachment. There are Democrats in your caucus that the time is now to at least begin impeachment proceedings. The speaker yesterday, though, made very clear that House Democrats are not on that path right now. Where are you on this, Congresswoman?

WEXTON: I believe all options are on the table. I don't want to take any options away. But I'm not there for impeachment just yet. We've heard from the committee chairs about the investigative

processes that they're engaged in, and I'm confident that they're doing a great job of looking into all the facts. And we've had two court cases in the past week that have backed up exactly what they're doing. So that information is going to need to be turned over. And I think we'll know a lot more as soon as we see all that information that the president has been trying very, very hard to hide.

BOLDUAN: You're in a unique position. You were one of the Democrats that helped win back the Democratic majority in the House by turning a red district blue. How does that fact factor into your decision? What are you hearing from constituents?

WEXTON: Well, constituents want us to hold the president accountable but they also want us to deliver on the promises we made to get here. That's what we've been doing as a caucus. We have passed over a hundred bills out of the House of Representatives. We've done things for universal background checks for firearms purchases, H.R.-1, the Good Government Act. We have done a lot of really important legislation. We're working to bring down health care costs and prescription drug prices.

You know, we're eager to work on infrastructure with the president, but he didn't want to do anything other than rant.

BOLDUAN: That's on a pause right now, at the very least.

If the president is involved in a coverup, as Nancy Pelosi said, if he's involved in impeachable offenses, I do wonder, why not move toward impeachment, if the job is oversight and holding the president accountable?

WEXTON: We have other work we need to do. We still haven't received all the information we need to have. We still haven't seen the full unredacted Mueller report. We haven't heard from Robert Mueller. We haven't heard from Don McGahn.


BOLDUAN: Are you OK if he doesn't testify publicly, Mueller?

WEXTON: I don't know that he has to testify publicly. That's a decision that he'll be able to make with the House Judiciary chair and all of those parties. But we do need to hear from him, as well as Don McGahn and other people who were involved in all of the matters that are before us.

BOLDUAN: Look forward to hearing, seeing if there's any more response coming from the HUD secretary to what we've been talking about here today.

Congresswoman, thank you for coming in.

WEXTON: Thank you very much for having me.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, at any moment, we're expecting President Trump to walk out of the White House as he's heading off to Japan. Will he have any parting words, maybe more specifically, any parting shots for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Stay with us.


[11:43:04] BOLDUAN: Coming up on Memorial Day -- (INAUDIBLE) -- a CNN special -- original series special presentation, Colin Quinn, "RED STATE, BLUE STATE," starring the one and only comedian, Colin Quinn. In the special, Quinn takes on the current state of American politics, the divisiveness, the tribalism, and he takes it all on, head on, and it's somehow funny.

Here is a preview.


COLIN QUINN, COMEDIAN & CNN HOST, "RED STATE, BLUE STATE": John Adams said the two-party system is the greatest political evil under our Constitution. George Washington cautioned in his farewell address against excessive political party spirit and geographical distinction. Wise words. Do they tell us what to do about it? They did not. They just said it and they died.


Now they left us to figure it out.


Real geniuses.


America, two parties still. All these years later, two parties. There's 350 million people and there's two parties. There's 15 genders and there's two parties.


There's four bathrooms and there's two parties.



BOLDUAN: And we still only have access to one of them.

Joining us now, Colin Quinn.

Great to see you. Thanks for being here.

QUINN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, you're happy to be here.

QUINN: I'm smiling now. BOLDUAN: Yes, yes. You were debating during the break, why do you

never smile. But why is that?

QUINN: I never smile because I feel like it's cheating in comedy in comedy, schmoozing the crowd.


QUINN: Those are your acts.

BOLDUAN: It's the opposite of --

QUINN: I'm a real purist.

BOLDUAN: I can tell.


BOLDUAN: This started as an off-Broadway show?


BOLDUAN: I'm kind of fascinated by the path to television, only in the sense of, it's making me wonder, what is it like to go from nightly standup comedy to then a TV special? Is it a different -- are they different muscles? Is there a learning curve?

QUINN: No. I mean, I've been doing this for a long time. I'm sure there was a learning curve once, a long time ago.

BOLDUAN: You're so old, you forget.

QUINN: Yes. It's ingrained at this point.

BOLDUAN: What do you get out of this? I mean, you've been making fun of politics and politicians for a really long time.

[11:45:08] QUINN: Yes.



QUINN: Well, just if we don't -- if we keep going where we're going, there will be -- something very bad is going to happen, do you know what I mean?

BOLDUAN: Are the jokes about politicians now, are they the same over time? The jokes are different but is the -- it's kind of what's funny about a politician or where --


QUINN: It's not about politicians. I mean, it's about us and our -- it's about the nation.


QUINN: We're all really politicians. We're all bloggers, we're all writers. Everyone's a critic because of the social media. It's more about the mentality of all of us and how this is really leading to something, you know.

BOLDUAN: How is it somehow funny, though, because everything you talk about is so sad?


QUINN: I know.

BOLDUAN: It's so sad and realistic, I would say.


BOLDUAN: A portrait of America today but a sad statement of affairs.

QUINN: A lot of people come up to me after the show and say, I feel like crying the whole time. I think, oh, boy, I better get out of the business. But as you say, it is sad, yes.

BOLDUAN: It's like an addiction. You have to acknowledge you have a problem before you can begin heal? Is that what the point is?

QUINN: What's funny is the truth. If you're pretending that this is not happening, that's not funny. It's always calling out the truth. Standup, a lot of standup is calling out things and, like, oh, yes, of course, it's happening.

BOLDUAN: "RED STATE, BLUE STATE" is the first-ever comedy special on CNN.

QUINN: Right.

BOLDUAN: You do not seem to be feel any pressure though that you could be the first and only.


QUINN: I know. But I have delusions where I'm always like, of course, it is.

BOLDUAN: Of course, it's going to be --


QUINN: You can't do standup without a little bit of confidence, you know what I mean?

BOLDUAN: Or a little bit of insanity.


BOLDUAN: Good to see you. Good luck with -- (CROSSTALK)

QUINN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I've only seen one clip and now I can't wait to see the rest of them.

QUINN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Be sure to tune in. CNN's original series, a special presidential of Colin Quinn, "RED STATE, BLUE STATE," premieres on Memorial Day, 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, right here on CNN.

Coming up, President Trump insists it's China that will pay for a $16 billion plan to help farmers hit by the trade war. There's just one problem. That's not true. Next, who actually pays and what farmers are saying about it.

But first, losing a loved one can be hard at any age. But for children, it can be especially devastating. This week's "CNN Hero" lost her dad when she was 14 and struggled with depression for more than a decade afterward. Now, Mary Robinson is making sure other children don't lose years of their lives to unresolved grief. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: My name is Bella and my dad died.

MARY ROBINSON, CNN HERO: Kids in grief are kids at risk.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: My name is Jada and my mom died.

ROBINSON: Time does not heal all wounds. Time helps, but it's what you do with that time and what you need to do is mourn.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: When you hear other people's stories, it kind of brings comfort.

ROBINSON: That's why a place like Imagine exists to give children a place to mourn their loss and find out that they're not alone.


BOLDUAN: To meet some of the families that Mary is helping and to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to


[11:52:54] BOLDUAN: Farmers hit hard by the trade war with China are now speaking out about the president's new aid package. He announced a $16 billion bailout plan to help farmers across the country that have been hit by the trade war.

But who is actually going to be footing the bill for that? Well, here is the case that the president is trying to make. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have directed Secretary Purdue to provide $16 billion in assistance to America's farmers and ranchers. It all comes from China. We'll be taking in over a period of time hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs and charges to China.


BOLDUAN: To be clear, China is not going to be paying for the aid to farmers, just like Mexico is not paying for Donald Trump's border wall. Tariffs are paid by the people who import the goods and by the consumers who buy the goods once again.

Let's go to farm country though. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Iowa talking to some farmers.

Miguel, what are you hearing from them?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The other thing the president says is that the trade tariffs are unjustified and, of course, the Chinese only put them into effect after he has increased tariffs on them.

He's talking about $14.5 billion going to farmers directly in terms of direct payments for their crops, and $1.4 billion to buy up excess crops if it comes to that, and $100 million to develop other markets, other than China, of course.

Now, farmers across Iowa, we've spoken to many of them, but whether they are Democrat or Republican, they kind of have the same thing. They say, thank you, very much, Mr. President, but at the end of the day, we would really like to get back to free-market principles.


AARON LEHMAN, IOWA FARMER: Farm efforts have been put right at the front lines of an unnecessary trade war, and it's impacting farmers more than anybody else in our economy. We've been producing corn and soybeans below the cost of production for years now, and this on top of that means the farmers are losing even more money. They are looking to find ways to stay afloat.


MARQUEZ: Now what farmers here are saying they need more than anything is certainty in the market. And the ongoing tariff trade war only makes uncertainty greater as time goes on. Even if they got back to normal today, it would still take months, if not years, to get those markets back and get back to a normal trading relationship -- Kate?

[11:55:13] BOLDUAN: That's exactly right.

Miguel, thank you very much. Coming up, President Trump is about to depart the White House for

Japan, leaving behind an escalating feud with Nancy Pelosi in Washington. Well, that's among a lot of things. Will he try to have the last word on his way out the door today?

Stay with us.