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Interview with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA); Supreme Court Will Not Consider Cases on Guns and Guantanamo; Orthodox Women in Brooklyn Spearheading Effort to Encourage Vaccination of Children. Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired June 10, 2019 - 10:30   ET



[10:30:38] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: House Democrats are ready to dig into the Mueller report with a series of hearings, beginning today.

This as the number of Democrats calling for impeachment proceedings against President Trump grows by the day. But there remains a big split in the party with many Dems saying impeachment is not the right move. That includes Democratic congressman from California, Ro Khanna. He sits on the Oversight, Budget and Armed Services Committee and joins me now.

Congressman, thanks for taking the time this morning.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Thanks for having me back on, Jim.

SCIUTTO: So you gave a town hall this weekend where you, when asked about impeachment, said that, to date, there isn't enough evidence to proceed. And I wonder -- and I know you've read the Mueller report -- when you see the special counsel cite 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice by the president, and lay out the case, in effect, why you believe there's still not enough evidence to proceed?

KHANNA: Well, Jim, I think the president clearly engaged in misconduct, as is evident by the Mueller report. My point in my town hall was that we need the underlying evidence. You can't just have hearings based on a summary of the evidence.

The House needs access to the actual testimonies, the actual FBI reports. And that has to be a first step. And that's why the speaker is focused on getting that.

SCIUTTO: That sounds to me a bit like a punt, right? I mean, you've got virtually the entire Mueller report as a matter of public record now. You say you're waiting for the underlying evidence and I get why that is relevant.

But if you started impeachment proceedings, you arguably have a stronger case to get that evidence. Why not just make the call today? To say this is something that needs greater investigation by Congress. Because clearly, the special counsel was not going to indict, nor was the attorney general.

KHANNA: Well, we are being very aggressive. We've got six committees investigating. And we're going to the court where, in fact, Congress this week is going to vote to hold Bill Barr in contempt, and to give Jerry Nadler the ability to get that underlying evidence, going to court.

Whether you have an impeachment hearing or not is really not going to materially impact the strategy. You still have to get the courts to order that we get this evidence. You still need to have Bob Mueller come and testify. You still need to make the case to the American people. And we're doing that.

The final point is, you need to get to 218 votes for anything we need in the House. And right now, we don't have that.

SCIUTTO: You're right. I mean, it's about a quarter that have come out publicly.

As you are investigating, there is another investigation -- in fact, there's more than one -- one by the attorney general, investigating the investigators, as it were: the origins of the Russia probe. You also have an internal inspector general investigation under way in the Justice Department.

And I'm curious, are you concerned that FBI officials, others involved in the early days of this investigation, could face criminal referrals?

KHANNA: I am. And it's a total distraction. What the American people should be focused on, what the administration should be focused on is that the Russians intervened in our election, that they hacked into county websites and they hacked into former secretary of states.

Instead of focusing on that and the threat that continues, you have this administration investigating the good people, the folks who figured out the threat. And so it makes no sense. And it's doing a total disservice to people who serve our country honorably in the FBI, CIA and other law enforcement.

SCIUTTO: As you're well aware, part of Nancy Pelosi's case for not pursuing impeachment hearings today is that she wants to get other elements of the Democratic agenda, not relating to investigating the president though. And I know that this Congress has passed a number of measures. But the fact is, measures that aren't going to get through the Republican-controlled Senate.

And given that you've got to be running on a legislative record in 2020, what pieces of legislation are Democrats going to get through the House that you believe could also get through the Senate, also become law, also get things done?

KHANNA: Well, Jim, I've had two of my bills personally passed into law. And I believe there are areas, we could get bipartisan cooperation. Infrastructure. The Democrats are willing -- desperate to do infrastructure, particularly high-speed internet, which would cost $40 billion a year to hook up every part of this country to the internet. That should pass. The Democrats are --


[10:35:15] SCIUTTO: Not after that meeting with the president, though.

KHANNA: Well, look. I mean, we can't force the president's hand. I mean, we're willing to do things that are going to give him a political wind. We're willing to put forth legislation to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, to actually make good on what he said in the State of the Union. He said Americans shouldn't be paying more for drugs than people in other parts of the country.

We're willing to pass legislation to get us out of these bad foreign wars, to get us out of Afghanistan. So we're willing to do things. The president has to be willing to live up to what he said in his own State of the Union.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Ro Khanna, thanks for coming on this morning.

KHANNA: Jim, thanks for having me back.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right. So ahead for us, the Supreme Court making a key decision on a case related to the Second Amendment. We'll tell you what it's about and what the court decided, next.


HARLOW: This morning, the Supreme Court has denied a request to take up several cases. One of them, a challenge to a federal law requiring the registration of gun silencers.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Basically upholding that law, or leaving it in place. CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is in Washington.

So, Jessica, busy day. What else are we learning?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The Supreme Court, Jim and Poppy, not wading into this gun debate. They will not hear two separate challenges to the National Firearms Act. These were challenges from people who had been prosecuted under the law. One of them in particular, for not properly registering his gun because it had a silencer.

Now, by the Supreme Court not taking these cases, this will essentially maintain these decades-long restrictions on silencers under this law. Silencers had to be registered. They were also taxed.

And of course, we saw silencers -- the issue of it -- thrust back into the spotlight at the end of May, when a gunman killed 12 people in Virginia Beach. He had a handgun with a silencer. And interestingly, many of the victims in that shooting recounted how the silencer made that semiautomatic firearm instead sound just like a nail gun, one (ph) a witness actually put it. And they talked about how if it had actually sounded like a regular

gunshot, they might have known a lot sooner. They could have had more lead time to escape.

So the issue of silencers has come back into the spotlight. But the Supreme Court will not be taking on this issue, declining these two challenges by these people who were prosecuted under this National Firearms Act -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. So there's that. And then, Jess, there's also the move the Supreme Court just make this morning on the challenge to the indefinite detention of those detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. So the Supreme Court, again deciding not to take a case, this one involving the challenge of a Guantanamo detainee to the continued detention without charges at Guantanamo. He's been detained for the past 17 years. So the court, deciding that they will not hear this challenge.

All of the justices agreed not to hear this challenge. But Justice Breyer basically said, in a note to that case, that in a future case, the justices will have to examine this issue. The issue is whether a 2001 law continues to authorize the continued detention of those remaining 40 detained at Guantanamo without these additional charges.

He put it this way. He said, "In my judgment, it is past time to confront the difficult question left open by the Supreme Court's 2004 ruling as to this 2001 law, that -- the war authorization that allows these detainees to be held in Guantanamo without these charges. But again, Jim and Poppy, the Supreme Court, deciding not to take up this issue.

So some activity within the court, but the Supreme Court sort of brushing aside these issues for now. Perhaps they'll get taken up at some other point, but not next term -- guys.


SCIUTTO: Jessica Schneider, good to have you on it. Thank you.

[10:43:34] New York State is at the epicenter of this year's massive outbreak of measles, a disease that had been eradicated. Coming up, some critics say health officials are not doing enough to stop the ongoing spread of the disease.


HARLOW: Not even halfway through the year, and America has reached an unfortunate milestone. The number of measles cases in the country this year has topped 1,000.

SCIUTTO: It's just such an incredibly sad story. That is the highest number in nearly three decades. New York State alone has seen more than 800 cases just since October. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. And, Elizabeth, this has been partly a story of parents denying

science, and therefore denying their children immunization. But it's also, you're saying, health officials not stepping up.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a question now. Because this outbreak, Jim, has gone on for so long -- since October, really, the longest in many, many years -- that some are now saying, "Gee, should officials be sort of doing something different? Taking a different tack to try to quell this outbreak?"


COHEN (voice-over): Anti-vaxxers in New York. They fueled the largest outbreak of measles in the United States in more than 20 years. Now, the states' response to this enormous outbreak, coming under fire.

BRAD HOYLMAN (D), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: Our state's inaction in the face of such an overwhelming public health emergency is appalling.

COHEN (voice-over): In New York, parents are allowed to send their unvaccinated children to school. In other states like California, schoolchildren must be vaccinated.

[10:50:06] Also under fire? Health authorities, for not bringing in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The New York City health commissioner says it's not necessary.

OXIRIS BARBOT, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE: I have more than 400 people working on this outbreak. And we are working hard, day and night, to make sure we bring this to an end.

COHEN (voice-over): Another issue? An anti-vaccination group circulated this booklet, filled with lies, to the state's ultra- Orthodox Jewish community, which has now become the epicenter of the outbreak. The State Health Department countered with these posters in Yiddish, but badly botched the translation.

Avi Greenstein runs the largest community center in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

AVI GREENSTEIN, CEO, BORO PARK JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL: They've got to do this right. And they clearly were not doing it right.

COHEN (voice-over): He says the botched ads are part of a larger problem.

GREENSTEIN: They have to reach out in a way that shows that they truly get how this community works, the uniqueness of this community.

COHEN: And have they done that?

GREENSTEIN: I think they could do a better job on that. I think it's clear, it's evident that they could do a better job on that. COHEN (voice-over): Now, one group of Orthodox Jewish women are

taking matters into their own hands, holding a first of its kind event aimed specifically at mothers.

COHEN: The women who organized this event, they're trying to do something different than what state officials have done. They've set up these stations because they know what moms in their community are worried about. Do vaccines cause SIDS, do vaccines cause autism. The answer to both of these questions is no.

COHEN (voice-over): The organizers hope it makes a difference.

COHEN: Could women, could moms be the key to ending this outbreak?


COHEN: Why is that?

BERNSTEIN: Because women are passionate about their children. And if there's enough understanding, the correct decisions will be made.

COHEN (voice-over): With dozens of new cases every week, they're decisions that need to be made soon.


COHEN: Now, perhaps a positive sign. When you look at New York State and New York City, numbers of new measles cases there went down from April to May. But still, when I asked the New York City health commissioner, "Do you think this will be under control by the fall?" She didn't answer -- Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: That -- that was such a compelling report and so important, Elizabeth. I'm really glad you did that. Thank you very much for bringing us those --

COHEN: Thanks.

HARLOW: -- indisputable facts.

All right. Stunning pictures out of Hong Kong overnight, where protesters clashed with police.

Again, those are those pictures from overnight, protestors clashing with police. According to the organizers of the protest, more than a million people -- that would be one in seven Hong Kong residents -- took to the streets to march against a controversial extradition bill.

SCIUTTO: Yes. It's a remarkable show of public support. On paper, this measure would allow suspected criminals to be sent to mainland China from Hong Kong for trial.

Protestors fear the law would allow Chinese authorities to grab anyone off the streets of Hong Kong and try them for political reasons with no guarantee of a fair trial. CNN's Matt Rivers is in Hong Kong. And, Matt, this is not based on some outlandish fear. There have been

cases like this already, where people have been kind of plucked out of Hong Kong and taken to China. I mean, it's a genuine fear.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It was in Hong Kong where it happened in 2016. There were five different booksellers here that disappeared from this city, and they reappeared in the mainland with no explanation from the Chinese authorities as to how they got there. And they were forced to give what everyone here basically thinks was a forced confession to selling illegal books in mainland China.

So you're right, Jim. This doesn't come from nowhere. And that's why you have seen so many people come out in Hong Kong over the -- it was really Sunday. There was a million people, according to organizers, that were out on the streets and they are making their voices heard about this extradition bill.

What they fear is that it basically takes away this "one country, two systems" model where Hong Kong has semi-autonomy from Beijing. If you take away Hong Kong's ability to not send people up to the mainland due to extradition, well, does that undermine the legal system here in Hong Kong? And that's what people are afraid of.

Now, after that march on Sunday, everything looked to Monday. How was the Hong Kong government, the leadership here who's been pushing this bill, how were they going to respond? They did not walk back this bill. And there could be more protests on Wednesday morning, which the next round of debate in the Hong Kong parliament is scheduled.

HARLOW: Matt, can I ask you? I mean, I'm so glad you're there. And you have such important perspective because of your reporting across China. But this is not dissimilar from what we saw --


HARLOW: -- those protests five years ago, right? When you talk about the Umbrella Movement. And they filled --


HARLOW: -- the streets, but they didn't effect much change, right? So I just wonder if you think this is different.

RIVERS: Yes. Yes, it's hard to know exactly what's going to happen. But I can tell you that there is a broader swath of Hong Kong society here. 2014 was mainly about students. Now there are more people invested in this. So if there was going to be change, it would be now. It is slightly bigger and it has more buy-in than what we saw in 2014.

[10:55:09] HARLOW: OK. Matt Rivers, thank you for that reporting. We appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: Well, the long and winding path to the White House goes all across the state of Iowa. HARLOW: That is for sure. This morning, we're getting a new look

into what those Iowa voters want to see from their 2020 Democratic candidate -- whoever their pick is -- for president.


[11:00:57] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me. You can call it a cattle call, you can call it a presidential primary speed-dating. You can call it whatever you like, but it definitely was the largest gathering of presidential.