Return to Transcripts main page


Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) Discusses Growing Calls for Trump Impeachment, Pelosi's Resistance, Trump's Response on Climate Change; Officer Who Didn't Confront Parkland Gunman Charged with Child Neglect; Could Trump's Tariff Push Cost Him Votes; Poll: 47 Percent Feel Trump's Tariffs Hurt U.S. Economy; 3 Americans Founds Dead at Same Dominican Republic Hotel. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 5, 2019 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] REP JARED HUFFMAN (D-CA): We've got a job to do, I believe. And I think the evidence is overwhelming. It's compelling. It's time to begin an inquiry.

And then it will be on the Senate. And, look, the politics of this issue and where things are with the Senate are not static. They can change. As we bring forward these facts through proper hearings, if we do it in a thoughtful way, there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on United States Senators.

If they want to stick with a criminal president in the face of all of this compelling evidence of unprecedented misconduct in office, there will be price to pay.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You, though, when you talk about -- politics are all over this thing, right? You are in a safe seat, a deep-blue district in northern California. But Democrats in the House won the House majority back, in part, because Democrats were able to flip red districts and turn them blue.


BOLDUAN: I want to play for you what I am hearing from some of those House members, those House Democrats. Listen to Andy Kim.


REP. ANDY KIM (D-NJ): People in my district were so upset about that paralysis and just the partisan knife fighting. And they said we just need to get government back and be able to move forward and be able to get the job done and actually try to work where the rubber hits the road.

Those are the cues I'm taking. Those are some of the concerns that, certainly, I and others worry about when we think about not having that focus on our legislative agenda.


BOLDUAN: Do you think -- (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And that's the reason that he's not there yet. This won't happen unless you convince folks like Congressman Andy Kim. How do you convince him?

HUFFMANN: Look, he's not wrong. We have to walk and chew gum and keep working on all these issues so important to the American people. Last night, we passed the Dream Act out of the House of Representatives. That was a big, historic action. I wish we were talking more about that today.


BOLDUAN: But that's the thing about impeachment, though. It's such a huge thing, there's no question it is going to overtake all the conversation if and when that would happen.

HUFFMAN: Kate, we're talking about impeachment right now, aren't we, even though we're not in an impeachment inquiry. I think the Hamlet act, the endless handwringing over, should we have an impeachment inquiry, should we not? We're calling the president lawless, we're saying impeachable offenses have occurred, but we're not willing to put it in context of an actual inquiry. That's why everybody is consumed with this impeachment issue.

We just started the inquiry.


HUFFMAN: That could be one channel that we and the media talk about while we do all our other important work.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting point.

I want to ask you, really quickly, you spent a large part of your career working on environmental issues.


BOLDUAN: The president overseas in an interview - a new interview, he talked about climate change. And he met with Prince Charles and said Prince Charles had spoken to him a lot about climate change, something he has been championing for a long time. The response from the president on climate change is, "I believe there's a change in weather and I think it changes both ways."

He's talking about it went from global warming to now we call it extreme weather. This isn't the first time the president has denied climate change. What's your response when you heard that from the president?

HUFFMAN: You know, it's always a roller coaster with this president, when he starts conflating weather with climate. The more he says on this subject, the more deeply embarrassing and shameful it is. He's not just failing to lead. He's embarrassing our country on the world stage when he talks that way about an issue that's so vitally important.

BOLDUAN: It also makes me wonder -- you're on the environmental committee on Capitol Hill -- what that means for getting any work done with this administration. But we'll leave that for another day.

Congressman, thank you for coming in.

HUFFMAN: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.

Coming up for us, his job was to protect students. Now the former school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is facing criminal charges for how he responded the day of the massacre. Next, we'll talk to one mother who lost her daughter that day.


[11:38:20] BOLDUAN: His job was to protect the students and the school from harm. He's now behind bars, charged with abandoning them when they needed him most.

We're talking about Scot Peterson, a former resource officer of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, in Parkland, Florida, arrested yesterday. And he's now facing 11 criminal charges, including child neglect and perjury, after the massacre last year that left 17 students and staff dead and 17 others injured.

Investigators say Peterson failed to confront the gunman, never going inside the building where the shots were fired, and it all went down, and then lied to investigators about it.

He, Peterson, has always said that he acted properly. Here is what he told NBC last year.


SCOT PETERSON, FORMER RESOURCE OFFICE AT MAJORITY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: The families need to know, I didn't get it right but it wasn't because of some, oh, I don't want to go into that building. Oh, I don't want to face somebody in there. It wasn't like that at all.


PETERSON: No. There was no time. Things went so fast.

Those shots I heard, immediately, I thought they were outside. I didn't know where they were coming from.


BOLDUAN: He made his first court appearance this morning. He could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted.

What does this mean for the families of all of those killed? Joining me now is Lori Alhadeff. Her 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa,

died that day at Parkland.

Thank you so much for being here.


BOLDUAN: What was your reaction, Lori, when you heard that Peterson was arrested and charged?

ALHADEFF: I was very happy that finally justice is served and that he is going to be held accountable for the death of 17 people.

[11:40:01] BOLDUAN: And it's not that the memory of that day is ever very far from your mind at all, but I can imagine that it is moments like that, like this, that bring it all flooding back.

ALHADEFF: You know, on February 14th, when the shooting was happening, I texted Alyssa. I told Alyssa to hide that, help was on the way. Peterson was that help. He had a duty to go into that school and take down the threat and he froze.

BOLDUAN: Peterson has always defended himself. You heard in that interview with NBC News. And in that same interview, he said last year that it will haunt him for the rest of his life.

And his attorney, in responding to the charges, had said -- one of the things that he said was that there was only -- there has only ever been one person to blame for those deaths, and that's Nikolas Cruz. Do you hear that?

ALHADEFF: You know, that's unacceptable. He had a duty to go in there. He was an armed police officer with a gun. He could have gone in there and taken down the threat and he could have saved lives. So, he is at fault and he should be held accountable and should spend the rest of his life in jail.

BOLDUAN: He's charged for his inaction, right, for not -- not for what he did, but for what he failed to do. And as we're learning very quickly, criminal liability in that regard is quite unusual and rare.

What if, Lori, after all of this, where you feel justice may be served, that he will be held accountable in your view in this moment, but what if, after all of this, then, he doesn't go to jail?

ALHADEFF: Well, I think our justice system will prevail and he will be held accountable and justice will happen. And they will make sure that he serves the rest of his life in prison, as he should be.

BOLDUAN: Do you have anything that you've been wanting to say to Scot Peterson, if you had the chance?

ALHADEFF: I would just tell him that I hope that the picture of my daughter haunts you for the rest of her -- of your life and that you spend a miserable life in jail. And the 17 lives that were taken that day were because of your lack of failure to go in and engage the threat.

BOLDUAN: We're showing some of the pictures that you shared with us of Alyssa. She's such a beautiful soul. We cannot forget that.

And also reminds me, seeing pictures of her again, that your entire life changed that day.

But you have since really turned your grief into action. You ran, and now sit on the county school board. You formed an organization to try to make schools safer around the country. And you've had some success. New Jersey approved Alyssa's Law this year.

But still it has only been about 16 months. How are you?

ALHADEFF: I'm OK. You know, for me, Alyssa lives withinside of me. I'm doing this for Alyssa, making sure schools are safe and having a voice for change and standing up and fighting for the 17 and for all the kids in America.

BOLDUAN: Lori, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for bringing the memory that's still alive of your daughter and sharing it with us again today. Thank you so much.

ALHADEFF: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Alyssa and Lori Alhadeff.

[11:44:07] We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: President Trump is demanding action from Mexico to stop illegal immigration, or else, obviously, threatening new tariffs on the country set to set in next week if they don't do, quote, unquote, "something," as the president said.

Being tough -- being a tough trade negotiator and tough on border security is some of what got Donald Trump elected in the first place. But could these moves now actually cost the president down the road, looking at his re-election bid, his election this time?

Josh Green has a new article for "Bloomberg" that digs into this. The headline is, "Trump's Tariff Spree Comes with Big Electoral Risks."

Josh is joining me right now.

Josh, when I was reading this, it's fascinating what you got your hands on and what it spells out. It's analysis from Goldman Sachs on the longer-term political impact of the president's tariffs moves. What did they find?

[11:50:00] JOSHUA GREEN, CNN ANALYST: Well, what's interesting is they found that Trump's original move against China last June where he applied $50 billion in tariffs was quite popular with voters, especially voters in swing states but that every subsequent trade action Trump has taken since then has had a net disapproval rating. If you look at the tariffs he has applied to allies like Canada and

like Mexico, those have been especially unpopular and especially unpopular in the key swing states that are probably going to decide the 2020 elections.

What this tells me is that Trump's increasing use of threats outside the trade arena, his current threat against Mexico to stanch the flow of migrants is not something that is necessarily going to benefit him.

I think there's a mystique around Trump with tariffs that these are always a winning move for him and the data seems to suggest that, in this case, it's not.

BOLDUAN: And you point out, and the states here is what matters. According to the Chamber of Commerce, Texas would be the state hardest hit by tariffs on Mexican goods, followed by that would be Michigan, California, Illinois, Ohio.

In there is one state he shouldn't have to worry about, Texas. Two states he needs for re-election, Michigan and Ohio.

Do you think anyone at the White House or, quite frankly, maybe more importantly for what we're talking about here, his campaign, is looking at this?

GREEN: I know for a fact there are people looking at the White House and his campaign are looking at this and advising him against this.

It became public a day or so after he made the announcement by tweet last week that his chief trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, was very much against this deal, not only because it upends the effort to put through a NAFTA replacement, the USMCA, but also because, if you look at who is going to be hit by these tariffs in the U.S., it's mainly auto companies.

And where are auto companies based? They're based in the upper Midwest and swing states that Trump is counting on to win, and where he is already underwater in the polls, and where Republicans faired very poorly in the 2018 midterm elections.

I argue in my piece, he is taking a real electoral risk by leaning so heavily on tariffs and hitting allies with them.

BOLDUAN: It sure looks like it. It's a fascinating segment, great read.

Thanks, Josh. Really appreciate it.

GREEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

I want to continue this discussion, but, first, I want to show you what you were looking at, is President Trump and the first lady. They have arrived in Ireland where the president will be touching down. He's going to be meeting with Ireland's prime minister. They will have a meeting together. Lots of issues to be discussing. Looking at the ambassador there as well. They will be meeting to continue on their trip. We'll keep watching pictures and bring you news.

We do want to continue the discussion we're talking about when it comes to trade, tariffs and the polls.

Joining me right now is CNN's Harry Enten.

You've been looking at this. That was really interesting analysis from Wall Street. But when you look at the polling numbers that you have been digging into, what does it say?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER & ANALAYST: I think I agree with Wall Street on this.

Let's look first at this particular question asked by Monmouth last month. Do the Trump tariffs help, hurt or have no impact on the U.S. economy? Look at this, 47 percent say it hurts the U.S. economy. Just 25 percent of Americans nationwide say it helps the economy. So these tariffs, voters are moving against them, Americans moving against them.


ENTEN: But it's not just tariffs. Let's talk about trade more generally. Look at this. Approve or disapprove of Trump's job on trade. Just 39 percent of Americans, of voters approve of Trump on trade, 53 percent of voters disapprove of Trump on trade.

Check this out. Look at this. Has Trump been or will be successful in revising trade deals to be better for the U.S.? Back in December of 2016, 62 percent.

BOLDUAN: Yes, he was a tough negotiator.


ENTEN: Exactly. People thought it would be able to revise these trade deals, they would be good for Americans. Look at this. Jump ahead to December of 2018, then it drops only to 40 percent and the plurality 47 percent of voters nationwide say he won't be able to do that. That's a large jump from the 31 percent.

BOLDUAN: It fascinating because you have two things. You have people who don't like what he is doing in terms of trade moves. People are afraid of what it could mean when it comes to the economy. But in the end, it comes down to what real impact they see in the economy or maybe it's their personal economy that is the real kind of X factor that we don't know in the next month.

ENTEN: We don't necessarily know. I will point out that Trump's trade numbers in the Midwest, as Josh was point out --


ENTEN: -- are just as weak as they are nationwide, according to Quinnipiac University. When you break them down into the key midwestern states you see that.

One other thing I'll point out, take a look at this. This is something -- it's not just that people are upset with Trump individually. He is changing their mind on free trade more generally speaking. Back in November of 2015, slightly more Americans thought free trade was a bad thing than a good thing. Jump ahead to May of 2019, a majority of Americans, 51 percent, over 25 percentage point jump, now say --


BOLDUAN: This is something really to watch in the coming months.

ENTEN: And in the Democratic primary.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Great to see you, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

We just heard from Josh as well.

[11:55:00] Coming up for us, a deadly mystery we're looking at. Three American tourists dead at the same hotel in the Dominican Republic. What happened and could their deaths be connected? That's a real question now.


BOLDUAN: A tragic mystery in the Dominican Republic after three American tourists died in the same hotel and within days of each other.

Martin Savidge has been following this.

Martin, what are you learning about -- I mean, what are you learning about what to this point has really been a mystery, a scary one?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a scary one. It's a popular destination for many Americans.

So let's go to May 25th. And 41-year-old Miranda Schaupe-Warner, she's celebrating an anniversary with her husband at the Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana, which in the Dominican Republican. She has a drink from the mini bar on the first day she arrives. Suddenly, she becomes extremely ill, calls out to her husband and collapses. He calls for the paramedics. They arrive. Before they get there, she dies.

On the same day, another American couple, this from Maryland, they're celebrating the fact that they've gotten engaged. They check into the same resort. There for five days. Social media shows they had a wonderful time. On the day they are supposed to leave, hotel staff go to their room and find both of them dead.

The mystery here is that it does not appear to be foul play. But the question is, how can three Americans die within five days of one another.