Return to Transcripts main page


Trump's EPA Rolls Back Obama Rule That Targeted Coal Plants; Trump Falsely Claims U.S. Air, Water Cleaner Than Ever Before; "Sully" Sullenberger Tells Lawmakers He Had Trouble With 737 Max Simulator; Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) Discusses Key Spots In Trump Administration Remain Vacant, Trump Deporting "Millions" Of Illegal Immigrants, Ocasio-Cortez Saying Immigrants In "Concentration Camps". Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired June 19, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: His was the Clean Energy Plan. This is the Affordable Clean Energy Plan that they're going to replace it with.

What's the difference to them? You mentioned one of them a moment ago. The Clean Power Plan, Obama's plan, relied on federal regulations to start squeezing what they considered the more-dirty energy producing parts of the sector. The Affordable Energy Plan counts on the states to do that, not federal regulations.

The Clean Power Plan was truly aimed at phasing out coal and pushing the country toward more renewable clean-energy sources. They thought that was the future.

This is absolutely about sustaining coal and supporting the jobs in the industry out there, in the states that really want it.

And the Clean Power Plan was aimed at more health protection. The Affordable Clean Energy Plan, by the EPA's own estimate, won't do the same. In fact, in about 10 years, 300 to 1500 more people per year are expected to die because of air quality issues.

To defend all of this, the White House says, this is about jobs and about the federal bureaucracy. They say the EPA has been overly prescriptive and burdensome in its rules and exceeded the agency's legal authority -- Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We also know that the president's chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, is making big claims about the Paris Climate Accord. Here he was.


MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, what has happened since then? I think our CO2 production is flat or down in a growing economy. Our economy is getting bigger. Manufacturing -- people are producing more. Factories are open more. People are driving to work more. Yet, our pollutants are going down. Compare that to some of our European and Asian friends who are

signatories to the accords who have slowing economies and their CO2 output is going up.


BALDWIN: Tom Foreman, how is that even possible?

FOREMAN: That is a complicated claim there, because it's making a link between these two things in the first place, which we don't know would necessarily be a link. And this overall claim that CO2 production is flat or down, which many environmentalists say is flatly not true. They point to studies like this from the Rhodium Group which says here are the energy combustion outputs from CO2 emissions, in 2018, it's up there and rising.

This is the basic claim of the administration. Time and again they say, we're protecting jobs, we're protecting a whole lot of things, and they push these ideas of saying, it's actually getting better out there, when the evidence for that is very, very shaky. And there's plenty of evidence to suggest it's going the other way.

Although, I would say, Brooke, it's strange that Mulvaney would make that claim because we know, this week, he has quite a cough.

BALDWIN: Tom Foreman, duly noted.


Onto more evidence here. The administration is also manipulating the facts when it comes to the country's air and water quality ratings. Here's what the president said at his re-election rally.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have among the cleanest and sharpest, crystal clean -- you've heard me say it. I want crystal clean air and water anywhere on earth. We are creating a future of American energy independence and yet our air and water are the cleanest they've ever been by far.


BALDWIN: CNN's Climate Crisis Correspondent, Bill Weir, is with me.

Bill, we know this president likes to speak in superlatives. Where does the U.S. rank when it comes to air and water pollution?

BILL WEIR, CNN CLIMATE CRISIS CORRESPONDENT: We're about number 10, which doesn't have the same catchy ring as we're number one. But, yes, we're about number 10 on air quality.

The EPA's own data, which they quietly released a few weeks back, shows about four in 10 Americans live in dangerous air conditions. And the number of like hazardous bad-air days jumped two and a half times since 2016. It's not as dramatic as the '70s, when you could taste the air in Los

Angeles. But it's a backsliding. It's a trend that alarms a lot of people, because 50 years of hard-fought bipartisan regulation cleaned up the air.

When it comes to water, tied first with nine other nations on clean drinking water. But overall, water and sanitation, we're 29th.

Then there are the egregious exceptions like Flint, Michigan, and dozens and dozens of other communities with bad infrastructure, lead in the pipes, that sort of thing.


WEIR: So, yes, we're not even close.

And I think what was left out of the conversation with Tom Foreman or the EPA's announcement today, in order to -- you know, the rallying around coal country and those jobs. It's not regulation that's killing those jobs, it's competition.

BALDWIN: That's what the administration claims?

WEIR: Yes.

BALDWIN: It's not?

WEIR: No. In April, for the first time ever, renewables created more electricity than coal. We've reached a tipping point now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the two fastest growing jobs for the next five or 10 years, solar panel installer and wind technicians.

BALDWIN: How about that.

[14:35:54] WEIR: With growth rates of like 100 percent a year. There are three times as many renewable energy workers than fossil fuel workers. The market, the free market forces are pushing in this direction.

But he made some promises to some coal miners. And as a result, they're gutting -- this is just one of 83 environmental rules that cover everything from chemicals emitted by power plants, toxic fertilizer rules, endangered species, and then, of course, the big Kahuna these days is the climate crisis.

And the scientists I've talked to, dozens of them say, if we want to keep things from getting -- the human race wants to keep things from getting really tragic, really apocalyptic, we need to leave about 80 percent of the coal we know about in the ground. That's what they would say.

BALDWIN: Thanks for helping us keep the facts straight.

Bill Weir, good to see you.

WEIR: Good to see you, Brooke. BALDWIN: Captain "Sully" Sullenberger on Capitol Hill today. His tough take on the Boeing 737 MAX and why he says the training for pilots is not even close to sufficient.

Plus, a magicians body is found after an underwater stunt goes awry. That story ahead.


[14:40:47] BALDWIN: Miracle on the Hudson pilot, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, is joining the calls of concern about Boeing's 737 MAX. He appeared before the House Transportation Committee today to discuss the two deadly crashes that killed nearly 350 people and led to the planes being grounded worldwide.

Captain Sully stressed that just iPad training is not enough. And he even tested out the flight situation reenacting the plane's nosedive in a simulator.

Here's what he said about that.


CAPT. CHESLEY "SULLY" SULLENBERGER, RETIRED PILOT: I recently experienced all these warnings in a 737 Max flight simulator during recreations of the accident flights. Even knowing what was going to happen, I could see how crews could have run out of time before they could have solved the problems.

Prior to the accidents, I think it is unlikely that any U.S. airline pilots were confronted with this scenario in simulator training.


BALDWIN: CNN's senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, is with me now.

Tell me more about Captain Sully or what else happened in the hearing.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, first, on what Sully was saying, it's an important note, because there's been a lot of innuendo that these crashes had to do with foreign pilots lacking the experience and that's why these crashes may have occurred. I think Sully and others are trying to put silence to that.

This hearing was the stakeholders involved, the people who are going to have to fly this plane, the pilots, the flight attendants. They are deeply concerned with how this plane was engineered to begin with, and how the FAA certified it.

It all goes back to this MCAS system and why the pilots weren't aware that this system that we talked about, that tilts the plane downward to correct itself in flight, that the pilots had no idea it was there.

When we move forward and you're talk about ungrounding this plane, there's a lot of talk about whether or not simulator training will be required instead of just the iPad training that Sully was talking about, or the computer-based training. It's a big deal. It's a big expense for airlines. It's also going to take a lot of time.

But there was a big push forward on that, it seemed to me, that simulator training at least will be required. Boeing and the FAA have not made any decisions or haven't made any announcements on that -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Keep us posted on what they decide.

Drew Griffin, thank you very much.

Breaking news on a plan to target migrant families right here in the United States as President Trump threatens to deport, quote, "millions of people."

Plus, we have heard about a few shark attacks off the coast of North Carolina this summer. But see what happened when a great white approached a fishing boat off the coast of New Jersey.


[14:48:25] BALDWIN: Who is minding the store in Washington, D.C.? Two and a half years into the Trump administration, nearly a dozen major jobs are currently being handled by temps, acting directors who have not been formally approved for their role.

Case in point, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who just stepped down, as all these incidents have resurfaced related to his marriage. But Shanahan had been acting defense secretary for six months. This is one of the most important jobs in the president's cabinet.

Here are a couple other key jobs without a permanent vetted leader. They include Homeland Security, U.N. Ambassador, Chief of Staff, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Air Force -- we need a second slide for this -- White House communications director, FEMA, OMB, Office of Management and Budget.

A just reminder to all of you, as Press Secretary Sarah Sanders leaves her job, no announced replacement there either.

The lack of accountability in the president's cabinet is just one question I want to pursue with my next guest, Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat with me.

Congressman Cuellar, thank you so much for joining me.

REP. HENRY CUELLAR, (D-TX): Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: I just ran through the list. Do you think the leadership vacuum in Washington is one of the reasons why there's so much chaos on the U.S./Mexico border?

CUELLAR: It will be good to have someone there for a while to we can have the opportunity to talk to them about the issues at the border. The issues we face at the border are constant. At the same time, they change in so many ways. It would be good if we have someone there that we could talk to that individual.

[14:50:02] BALDWIN: Do you think there's something to it? Do you think the president prefers having someone who is almost temporary in the position, having to try out every single day? Do you think there's something to that?

CUELLAR: I don't know, but I do know it will be good having stability. We've dealt with different folks from, let's say, Homeland Security. Different folks have been there in Homeland Security as the secretary. Right now, there's somebody that I know, that I think we can work with, Kevin McAleenan.

But I know there's been at least three of them since the president started his term.

BALDWIN: What about, Congressman, this piece of news that we know that Trump had been threatening to deport, his word, "millions" of undocumented immigrants next week. Yet he hadn't provided any additional details. We learned he surprised officials in his own administration with that tweet.

We know he's not bluffing, because the acting ICE chief, Mark Morgan, just confirmed that the agency does plan to execute an operation targeting families who have gone through their legal proceedings.

Congressman Cuellar, your reaction to that?

CUELLAR: First of all, the president said he was going to deport millions and millions of individuals. I sit on the Homeland Appropriations, so I know what the budget is. They don't have the resources to do that.

Second of all, some of those individuals are at the southern border. So if they want to do interior enforcement, yes. Can they do some operations? Of course, they can. Can they deport the millions and millions of individuals that the president said, which happened to be right before his rally in Orlando? No. It's not going to happen.

BALDWIN: How would they even do that, if we're talking about the interior of the country?

CUELLAR: Well, it depends on what priorities they're going to do. If they're going to put priorities on criminals, the violent individuals, I don't have a problem with that. I think they should focus on that.

If they're going to focus on families and kids, that's the wrong priority. If they're going to do anything, they should focus on the criminals we have here in the U.S. but not on families.

BALDWIN: Lastly, I want to get you on the record on this. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused the Trump administration of running to what she referred to as "concentration camps" in its detention of migrants at the southern border. I want to ask you what you thought of her characterization, her comparison to the Holocaust and ending it by saying, never again.

CUELLAR: Again, with all due respect to her, she has a different usage of words, and maybe a different perception. I live on the border. I've been to those detention centers. I've been to those shelters, as you know. If their adults, they're in detention centers. If their children, they are put in shelters run by non-profits. I would not use the terms she used and imply anything else after that.

BALDWIN: Congressman Cuellar, thank you, sir.

CUELLAR: Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: You've got it.

Drama on Capitol Hill unfolding on two fronts. Emotions high today in this debate over slavery reparations. We'll show you what happened.

[14:53:22] Democrats are furious as Hope Hicks is there testifying on the darkest moments of the Trump presidency. What she is and, equally significant, is not revealing.


BALDWIN: A stuntman in India was found dead after his magic trick had gone horribly wrong. He was tied up with steel chains and ropes and lowered into the water. He was expected to free himself and swim to the surface like he's done so many times before. After he did not surface after half an hour, they launched a search for him and found his body nearby.

We continue on. Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We begin with two conversations about race happening in this country today that has sparked heated debate. We'll talk reparations in a moment.

But first, Former Vice President Joe Biden is getting some backlash for comments he made at a fundraising dinner. He was trying to make a point that he can work across the aisle, work with Republicans.

And he said this about a segregationist Senator who served with him in the U.S. Senate, quote, "I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me boy. He always called me son. At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done."