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Divided Democrats Call on Pelosi to Open Impeachment Inquiry after More Trump Administration Stonewalling; Rep. Tom Malinowski (D- NJ) Discusses Trump Administration Stonewalling, Growing Calls for Impeachment; New CNN Poll Shows Biden Lead Over Democrat Rivals Shrinking; Prosecutors Plan to Move Paul Manafort to Notorious Rikers Island. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired June 4, 2019 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:07] BOLDUAN: It could be more fuel for the impeachment fire right now. CNN has learned the Trump administration has directed former White House officials, Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, not to turn over any documents to the House Judiciary Committee relating to their time at the White House. They have been facing a subpoena deadline from the committee set to expire today.
It's just the latest act of stone stonewalling that has more and more Democrats calling for impeachment proceedings to begin. Something that House Democratic leaders, like Nancy Pelosi, we do know, continue to resist.
CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill watching it all.
Manu, the House is also set to hold the attorney general and former White House counsel, Don McGahn, in contempt. Add this all up. What does it all mean?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, more officials could presumably be held in contempt if these subpoenas continue to be defied.
We just saw this morning the White House instructing two former officials, Hope Hicks, as well as Annie Donaldson -- Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, Annie Donaldson, the former chief of staff to the then-White House counsel, Don McGahn -- not to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee related to their time at the White House.
Now, Annie Donaldson was a key figure, took copious notes and witnessed a number of the items that were laid out in the Mueller report. Democrats who want to look into the potential of obstruction of justice want her to testify, but the White House is telling her not to.
Hope Hicks, slightly different. While she's not turning over documents or testify about her time in the White House, she has agreed to turn over some documents related to her time on the campaign trail. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary chairman, just put out a statement
saying in part, "I note that Ms. Hicks has agreed to turn over some documents to the committee related to her time working for the Trump campaign, and I thank her for that show of good faith."
He goes on to say, "The president has no lawful basis for preventing these witnesses from complying with our requests."
And, Kate, this morning, I talked to a number of Democrats who are still divided over that issue about whether or not to open an impeachment inquiry, but with more stonewalling, pressure is only going to build on the leadership to open a probe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO, (D-AZ): Honestly, we have to wait and see. If Mueller refuses to testify, if we can't get him to testify, and we're in that position, then, yes, at that point, we're doing too cautious. If he agrees to testify and come on a certain date, then I think we can wait.
RAJU: Do you think it's time to open up an impeachment inquiry into the president?
REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TEXAS): Long past time. We need to move forward vigorously.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D-MO): I'm not against impeachment. I'm against impatience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, the man who is in charge of that impeachment inquiry, if it were to take place, Jerry Nadler, has been in the same public place as Nancy Pelosi, who told her leadership team last night that there's no point in moving forward with an impeachment inquiry if it's only going to die in the Republican Senate.
She expressed some concern that some people don't seem to realize the House alone cannot remove the president from office.
And I'm told, Kate, she referenced Tom Steyer, that billionaire Democratic activist, who has put tons of money on air to pressure Democrats on impeachment, saying, going as far as simply having the House vote will, ultimately, be fruitless.
But will she be moved? Will the House Judiciary Committee chairman be moved if the White House continues to resist their demands? That's the question that will continue to linger as Democrats issue more subpoenas and the administration says no -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Yes, where is the line for House leaders? That continues to be a real question.
Great to see you, Manu. A lot of moving parts here, so joining me for more perspective is one
of the more than 50 Democrats to support impeachment proceedings, impeachment hearings, Congressman Tom Malinowski, of New Jersey.
Congressman, thank you for being here.
REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): Thank you.
BOLDUAN: When you look at kind of the makeup of members of Congress and their districts, you're exactly the kind of Democrat that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is focused on right now when it comes to the issue of impeachment. Democrats who successfully flipped House districts that had been red to blue in order to win back the House majority.
From your perspective -- and there are not a lot of folks that are in your position in a district that was flipped, that are supporting impeachment right now, for you, why take the risk, if you will?
MALINOWSKI: Well, I come from a district where Democrats and Republicans support the rule of law and doing the right thing. They understand that you don't get to defy a legally binding subpoena in the United States, whether you're a kid in my district who is summoned to court or a former presidential staffer. These are lines that can't be crossed.
And I think for me, it's very straightforward. There has to be some institution in Washington that's willing to hold the line in defense of the rule of law. And if nobody does, there will be no line.
BOLDUAN: You know, when I talk to Democrats in competitive districts, swing districts, those like yourself, who flipped districts this last cycle, they often tell me -- and when I say, why aren't you there yet, they say what they're hearing from constituents is they don't want us to focus on impeachment or the Russia investigation, the Mueller report. They want you to focus on the agenda, health care, the opioid crisis, you name it.
[11:35:17] For those members, what's your message to them?
MALINOWSKI: Well, I'm not trying to persuade anybody else. I'm trying to do what I think is right. But I can tell you that folks in my district absolutely want me to focus on infrastructure, on health care, and on gun violence. And they don't see any contradiction between doing that and also standing up for the rule of law and checks and balances. I campaigned on both.
And you know, the notion that we can just ignore everything that's happening, this freak show at the White House, is just not realistic. It's like saying that, you know, I'm so focused on remodeling my kitchen that I'm not going to pay attention to my house catching fire.
We do have a constitutional duty to do both. The House of Representatives have done a great job on health care and gun violence and infrastructure. We can do this as well. BOLDUAN: Manu Raju has great reporting that the House speaker, still
behind closed doors, is making clear her opposition to opening up impeachment proceedings right now. What do you think -- what do you think is going to convince her? Because she's not where you are right now.
MALINOWSKI: First of all, I completely understand where she's coming from. She's dealing with this ridiculous situation where, no matter what the president does, it's not clear that the Senate will meet its constitutional duties. So we face this burden alone.
And in a sense, you know, I'm glad you have got me on and that you're asking Democrats to wrestle with this live on CNN. But shouldn't the question be posed to Republicans? Why is this OK? Why --
BOLDUAN: I am definitely asking those questions as well, Congressman.
MALINOWSKI: Why is it OK that we get to invite a foreign power to interfere in our elections and then fire an FBI director for investigating it? That's not something that any Republican would have tolerated a Democratic president doing.
And so let's focus on that fundamental issue. It's defending our democracy and the rule of law.
BOLDUAN: So next week, the House Judiciary Committee is going to begin hearings on the Mueller report. Bob Mueller not testifying, but they were going to begin hearings on this.
When I see that, I started wondering, is the House, in essence, opening impeachment proceedings but just calling it by a different name?
MALINOWSKI: Well, we are absolutely going to do our duty and continue the investigation that Mr. Mueller started. He passed us a ball. He made it absolutely clear that there are things that, as a special counsel, he could not do, that only the United States Congress has the constitutional power to do. And we're going to do it. Whatever you call it. This is our duty and the people sent us here to do our duty.
BOLDUAN: Do you see it that way, though, that impeachment proceedings are basically beginning, but the terminology is sensitive because there's a real, you know, a sensitivity to it because -- obviously, the connotation of we're starting impeachment proceedings is a major declaration if you say it/ But do you think it's the same thing?
MALINOWSKI: Well, I think it --
BOLDUAN: Or convince me it's not.
(CROSSTALK) MALINOWSKI: It may amount to the same thing. You know the history. In the Nixon impeachment, there was a long set of hearings. We called them the Watergate hearings. There was not an actual impeachment inquiry until very shortly before President Nixon resigned.
The important thing is that we take this seriously. That's what Bob Mueller asked us to do. America was attacked. We have to take it seriously. And we can't expect the American people to take it seriously unless they see us doing that first.
BOLDUAN: Let us see where it goes in, honestly, the days and hours ahead.
Congressman, thank you for coming in. I really appreciate your time.
MALINOWSKI: Thank you so much.
[11:39:03] BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, we have a new CNN poll, and it's showing Joe Biden still the front-runner in the crowded Democratic field. But it's also showing there's maybe he's losing some ground. And it's interesting where it is. You want to see it. That's next.
BOLDUAN: The first Democratic presidential primary debate is just over three weeks away now. Today, we're getting a new picture of where all of the Democratic candidates stand at this moment in time.
A new CNN poll released this morning shows Joe Biden is still the front-runner, followed by Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Beto O'Rourke.
But there's much more there, friends, than first meets the eye.
Senior writer and analyst for CNN Politics, Harry Enten, is with me now.
Let us go through the numbers, my friend. Break it down. What are you seeing, how does it compare?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: Yes, let's break it down. First off, I think this is kind of an interesting thing. Biden is still ahead of the pack, but he was at 39 percent in April. He's now down to 32 percent now. We have seen him fall a little back after his post-announcement bump. But he's still clearly leading the field.
Bernie Sanders is a clear second place, 15 percent to 18 percent now.
I want to point out this number. A lot of people think Elizabeth Warren has momentum, but she was at 8 percent in April and only at 7 percent now.
BOLDUAN: Does this also say this is a stable-ish race as we're seeing it, though? ENTEN: I think it's a very stable race. Take a look at this. This
is where we are now, and this is where we were back in October of 2018.
And look at this. Joe Biden's numbers, pretty much the same.
[11:45:09] BOLDUAN: Yes.
ENTEN: Bernie Sanders' numbers, pretty much the same. Harris, pretty much the same. Warren, pretty much the same.
The only one who has really moved up is Buttigieg, who we didn't even ask in our October poll, and is up to 5 percent now.
Overall, most of these candidates have moved two points or less. So this is a fairly stable race.
BOLDUAN: OK, then, convince me that it's not all over --
ENTEN: That it's not all over. We --
BOLDUAN: -- before we even get into it.
ENTEN: But before we voted. We still allow voters to have their say. And I think --
BOLDUAN: We should. You're so kind. You're so kind.
ENTEN: Yes, I know. Right? I'm so giving.
Take a look at this. So this is, we asked do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of the different candidates. We see Joe Biden has the highest favorable rating, at 77 percent, but that's not too far ahead of Bernie Sanders.
And more than that, look at this. All the candidates sport much more- higher favorable ratings than unfavorable ratings.
BOLDUAN: What does favorability have to do with, this isn't over yet?
ENTEN: What it has to do with it, take a look at this. Pete Buttigieg, 41 percent favorable, 8 percent unfavorable. That means that about 50 percent of the electorate can't actually form an opinion, 50 percent of Democrats can't actually form an opinion of Buttigieg.
The question is, especially as Harris and Buttigieg become better known, will they, in fact, rise up in the polls? Let me point out one other thing.
BOLDUAN: That's interesting.
ENTEN: Let's point out one other thing right here. We asked, are you definitely going to support the candidate you're currently voting for or might you change your mind? Look at this. Only 44 percent of voters say they will definitely continue to support the candidate they're choosing right now. And 55 percent of voters --
BOLDUAN: Do you even believe that, though? Do you believe 44 percent are like, I'm already --
ENTEN: That's the other thing, right? I have seen this number before. And I have seen people change their mind.
That's the key thing here. Again, with the favorable ratings is that, looking, if all these candidates are well liked, it's much easier to shift your opinion than in a general opinion where you love the Democrat --
ENTEN: -- and hate the Republican or love the Republican and hate the Democrat. The fact that all of these candidates are so well liked gives them more of an inclination, hey, I heard something in a debate.
These are not as hard and staid as, say, in a general election where, if you're a Democrat, you're voting Democratic --
ENTEN: -- and if you're a Republican, you're definitely voting Republican.
BOLDUAN: Fascinating. By and large, good news for Joe Biden, but it's also still a race, people.
ENTEN: It is still very, very early. Voters will have their say. We'll have debate, and things could very well change.
BOLDUAN: Even though Harry Enten would like to claim he's going to tell everyone to vote today.
Anyway, moving on. Great to see you, Harry.
ENTEN: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.
Coming up for us, the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, could soon be making a very big move. Spoiler alert, it is not an upgrade. Next, we'll tell you where he could be headed and what it could mean for his future, still, of course, behind bars. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[11:52:42] BOLDUAN: This just into CNN. New York prosecutors want to move former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to one of the most notorious prisons in America, Rikers Island. Manafort is serving a seven-plus year sentence for financial crimes that were turned up during the Russia investigation, you will remember.
And this would be a very big move from minimum security to now this. So why now?
CNN senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is looking into this for us.
Evan, what are you learning about this possible move?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, right now, Paul Manafort is in a relatively nice prison in western Pennsylvania. Now prosecutors in Manhattan want to get him moved to Rikers Island. This is, obviously, the notorious prison that has gotten notoriety for violence and poor conditions.
And this is all because Manhattan prosecutors have charged him with a number of counts, I think 16 counts, including mortgage fraud. So while those charges are getting worked out, he would have to stay in this New York City facility. Again, which is a far, far cry from the conditions that he is living in right now.
Just to give you a recap, one of the things that Paul Manafort would have to probably be doing is be in protective custody or some people call it solitary confinement because of the conditions of Rikers Island.
That's one of the reasons there's now these discussions between his lawyers and the New York City prosecutors because this is going to be probably months before this trial gets under way.
BOLDUAN: And it's also interesting the point about solitary confinement, because isn't solitary confinement what Manafort's legal team said led to his declining health throughout his trials?
PEREZ: Right, it is. It became a big point of contention. Even the president weighed into this issue and said they were punishing him and so on.
The judge and the prosecutors say it was protective custody that he was being held, again, for his own safety reasons. And that's the reason why they -- you know, basically, he was confined to a cell except for a few hours a day.
The Manafort lawyers called it solitary confinement. So you can see the difference -- a distinction without much of a difference.
This is going to be a big, big change for Manafort. Because, right now, he's been in relatively decent conditions in a federal penitentiary, low minimum security prison in Pennsylvania. And Rikers is no joke.
[11:55:10] BOLDUAN: Yes.
PEREZ: Just for your Rose Garden parties this summer, give you a couple of names of people that have been held there, Tupac Shakur and Lil Wayne.
BOLDUAN: Yes, I was almost stuck when you're thinking I'm going to a Rose Garden party.
BOLDUAN: But that's just me.
Good to see you, buddy. Thank you so much, Evan.
BOLDUAN: We'll see if this happens.
Still coming up, President Trump blasting some fellow Republicans who are plotting to block his tariffs against Mexico. What those lawmakers could be doing, what are they going to do about what Trump just said about them? That's ahead.