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House Democrats File Lawsuit; Pence Cancels Event in New Hampshire; New CNN and Iowa 2020 Polls; Buttigieg Seeks African- American Support; Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) is Interviewed on the Migrant Crisis and CBP Investigation. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 2, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously Trump and a lot of these folks. So I don't think that's going to be a problem. We'll see.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS.

Brianna Keilar starts RIGHT NOW.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

And underway right now, we begin with some breaking news.

The Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee has filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department, the IRS and their respective leaders, demanding that they turn over President Trump's tax returns. This is according to the federal court in Washington.

Let's get to CNN's Lauren Fox, who is following these developments from Capitol Hill.

We also have Elliot Williams. He is a former federal prosecutor and former deputy assistant attorney general under President Obama.

I want to start with you, Lauren. What exactly are Democrats demanding in this lawsuit?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically they're arguing that they need six years of the president's personal and business tax information, but they have a good reason for it. Basically they're arguing three things. They say that they need to understand how the presidential audit program works. That's the program essentially that gives the IRS the ability to audit every president coming into office, not just President Trump. But they say it's not enshrined in law. They need to understand how it works.

They also are arguing, you know, President Trump complains that he's constantly under audit, even before he went into the White House. They say they need to see his tax returns to understand why that is so that it's fair for not just President Trump but for all of the American taxpayers. And they say they need to see these tax returns to understand whether the president benefitted personally from the GOP's tax plan that passed.

So those are the reasons they say they need this information. Of course, Richard Neal asked for it back in April. Then the Treasury Department refused. Then he issued a subpoena. Again, the Treasury Department refused.

So here we are in court. This has been a long time coming. But exactly where Richard Neal always predicted this would end up.


KEILAR: And, Elliot, you know, Congress, of course, has oversight, but the White House is saying that there's no legislative purpose for handing over the tax returns. They say they don't legally have to. In a court of law, who has better -- a better argument here?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think Congress does. Now, look, they were very careful to talk about oversight of this audit process where they could legislate on it, or just use their oversight of the tax system as a legitimate basis, right? But I think they've -- the administration has been hiding behind this legislative purpose question.

And put this in a bigger context. This isn't just about the president and his tax returns. Every committee in Congress right now is running into a bit of a stonewall with the administration over Congress' ability to investigate things.

KEILAR: Even if the White House expects that ultimately Congress will prevail, it seems as if the name of the game is to just slow things down here.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. This is -- you know, to some extent, it's about winning in court, but really this is about getting past 2020. And we know that litigation takes a very, very long time. This lawsuit's being filed, but the first motion deadline won't be for months and months and months. That's just how these things work. They take a very long time to percolate.

But, again, the big issue here is, sometimes a suit about taxes isn't about taxes. This is about President Trump and his view that presidential quote/unquote harassment is anything that Congress engages in that's an investigation of him or his administration's dealings.

KEILAR: Even though oversight is their job, very, very important to point out.

Elliott Williams, thank you so much.

Lauren Fox, great reporting.

And we're also learning that Vice President Mike Pence has abruptly cancelled a scheduled event in New Hampshire at the last minute. He is now back at the White House.

Our Sarah Westwood is at the White House.

What are you hearing there?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Brianna, the White House is not specifying exactly why Vice President Pence did not make it to that event in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was supposed to go early this afternoon to an opioid roundtable in New Hampshire, but his plane actually never left Washington. That's according to the vice president's office. A source close to the vice president's office says that he was called back to the White House for an unspecified reason. And a senior administration official says that it is not health related for either the vice president or the president, and it is not related to national security.

We know that Vice President Pence is currently here at the White House. We don't know why or why that event was cancelled. But the vice president's office says they look forward to rescheduling the event at some time in the future. So we're still waiting for some more clarity, Brianna, on why exactly that event was cancelled and why exactly the White House called Pence back here, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Sarah, we know you will keep digging. Thank you for that.

And we have some new fundraising numbers from both 2020 Democrats and President Trump. President Trump is solidly at the top here with his campaign and the Republican National Committee raising a combined $105 million in the second quarter of this year. This is in addition to $100 million cash on hand.

In the meantime, Senator Bernie Sanders' campaign announced this morning they raised $18 million in Q2, just short of the impressive $24.8 million that Mayor Pete Buttigieg posted yesterday.

[13:05:06] Also, there's a new batch of polls which are showing a shift for the candidates. Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren on the rise. And then there's steep slides for former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Sanders.

We have Mark Preston with all of this.

And we're seeing this new Iowa poll showing some trends that we're seeing nationally.


You know, let us take these pieces of the puzzle and put them together.

First, our CNN poll and then, of course, the Iowa poll. This is the Iowa poll that has just been released. Look at where we are right now. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, gaining ground right now in the key state of Iowa. This is a Suffolk University/"USA Today" poll.

Why this is important is, let's show our national poll that was just released yesterday. And the numbers are strikingly similar. We see Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, their numbers are basically matching what we're seeing in Iowa and what we're seeing nationally. That is key because this is now putting together a picture of what we've seen after the first debate.

But, Bri, I should talk about -- it's not just polls, it's about fundraising. Let's take at these -- take a look at these numbers right now. $54 million President Trump has raised by himself. That is just President Trump raising money. Pete Buttigieg, really the big surprise, almost $25 million. And Bernie Sanders at $18 million.

Now, Pete Buttigieg is at about 4 percent or 5 percent, depending on what poll you're looking at right now, but he has $25 million. He has the money for people to get to know him. But when it comes down to it in the general, this is Donald Trump at this point. He has $105 million. If you go back to when Barack Obama was running as an incumbent, he had raised about $85 million, which is about the same at this time. But again, Donald Trump clearly has this fundraising advantage over the Democrats.

And I will say this, Bri, it's not just about money. Donald Trump has the biggest soap box in the world. Whenever he decides, he can convene the press. He can say what he wants. Donald Trump is in a position right now of power based upon money and based upon his position as the president.


BRENNAN: That's right, Mark. And that's one of the things that is so difficult about unseating an incumbent, right, is they have the bully pulpit and they've already got all of these -- they've got the name recognition, they've got all of this infrastructure at the party level behind them.

PRESTON: Yes, absolutely.

Look, we can talk about money and finances and what it's worth, but if you're Donald Trump, it allows you to use that money to go out and hold these big rallies. He doesn't have to try to get on and do interviews. Everyone is trying to do interviews with him. So the power of the incumbency, the power of being president is clearly an advantage heading into any presidential election, certainly this one, 2020.

KEILAR: All right, thank you, Mark, for all of that.

I want to talk more about this right now with A. Scott Bolden, former D.C. Democratic Party chairman, Nancy Cook with "Politico" is with us, and our Jeff Zeleny is as well.

So it's still really early, we have to say this, but it's nice to finally get a sense of how the performances and how the -- what voters think is shaping this race, right? So the polls are looking good for Kamala Harris. How is the field shifting here, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I think one thing we've learned, you know, really just in the last half week since the debate is that it is a fluid and fragile field here. So, Senator Harris, went up very quickly. She knows, and her campaign aides who I've talked to know, she can go down just as quickly.

This is a sign that Joe Biden is not the inevitable frontrunner for a long time. And his campaign knew this was going to happen. They didn't know it would happen quite this soon, quite this fast. But the last time Joe Biden was in Iowa, he said, look, polls are going up and down and, in fact, they are pretty quickly. But I do think that there is a sense of concern in the Biden camp. If he doesn't do better on the trail and at debates, you know, this is going to be a problem.

The one thing that he has that he thought would be his own is that he can beat Trump. Once others -- once voters get that idea in their mind that others could potentially beat him, he's in trouble.

KEILAR: How much of a wake-up call should this be, do you guys think?

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER D.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: Who would have thought that it would be a busing question that would trigger his downfall and the uplift of some other candidates and stuff?

I don't think he's in trouble. I think -- I think it's a -- he's realistic now or he's normal, if you will. He's got up by 5 percent. But this is a boost from the debate. And so the question is, how can the other candidates keep this boost where it is, sustain this boost, because there are debates coming up in Detroit I think in another week or two and somebody else will get a boost. But Biden has got to be a strong performer. He cannot continue to be average and stay above the fray. That won't work for him.

KEILAR: Nancy, help us understand Pete Buttigieg, because we're getting numbers going in different directions. So much money that he brought in. He's still polling in the top five. That's important. But he's dropped in the polls and then this is just stunning when you look at where he's polling with black voters, zero.

NANCY COOK, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "POLITICO": I think that that has always been his weakness, can he appeal to African-American voters, which are a very key constituency for the Democrats. But I think that the success that he's had with the fundraising points to a larger theme in the campaign, which is that there is a real generational rift in the Democratic Party. And I think that, you know, we see Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, both in their 70s. I think some voters really want, you know, a younger candidate.

[13:10:09] And Pete Buttigieg fills that. He's only 37 years old. You know, he's a veteran. He speaks eloquently. And I think that that is part of why we've seen that. And he himself, before the debates, said, you know, he feels like the party needs fresh ideas. I think that's why he's appealing to people.

KEILAR: He actually addressed this before delivering a major speech today at Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition Convention in Chicago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, when you're new on the scene and you're not from a community of color, you've got to work much harder in order to earn that trust, because trust is largely a function of quantity time. I'm committed to doing that work. But I think the most important question is, will our policy benefit black Americans and all Americans? And if that happens, and if I can show that, I think the politics will start to take care of themselves.


KEILAR: He's on to something, the trust, Scott, but why -- I mean what do you think he needs to do and realistically can he do what he needs to do?

BOLDEN: Well, the problems with his police department have been there. He said he failed, right? These aren't new issues facing African- Americans. He's not -- he may be from South Bend and there maybe 20 percent population in South Bend, but now he's focused on it because he had a police killing and he wants to be president. That won't be missed by African-Americans and people of color.

What does he have to do? He has to be authentic. He has to be genuine. He has to talk about issues facing African-Americans, like education justice, racial justice, police brutality, equal education, health care, and speak genuinely about them and touch those voters. Going to Push or going to Essence (ph) Festival isn't touching African-American voters. It's socializing with them, right? But I have to know you and trust you, believe in you and that you're going to make a difference in my life and then I'm going to vote for you.

He's got another challenge too. He's got two other African-American or people of color in the race that are taking up a lot of that black vote and they don't have to run and get to know or learn on the job on how to court black voters. So he's got a real challenge.

ZELENY: And Joe Biden.

BOLDEN: And Joe Biden also.

KEILAR: And -- I was going to say, they may be attracting black voters that are not -- I mean Joe Biden is the one with all of the support.

But I want to ask you about Bernie Sanders.


KEILAR: Because, I mean, Bernie Sanders, he's down. Senator Warren is up. What's going on with the liberal lane here in this race?

ZELENY: Well, there's no question that Bernie Sanders raising $18 million is good. I mean that's a good number. It's what he raised last time, but it's not going to be, you know, the highest. But the challenge for Bernie Sanders is trying to do the second act the second time.

BOLDEN: Right. KEILAR: Definitely.

ZELENY: Last time he was the only -- the only alternative. You and I know, we spent so much time on the road with him and now they're --

KEILAR: He was shiny and new, even though he was the old guy, right?

ZELENY: He was shiny -- exactly, but now there are so many -- you know, everyone is running on his ideas, no question about it, but that doesn't mean that they are going to elect him. But I still think one thing is clear, Bernie Sanders has some just hard-core supporters who will not leave him. So the question for Bernie Sanders is, if he sees that his issues are going to win out, will he step aside -- it's way too early to say this, of course -- or will he fight till Milwaukee and beyond. That's going to be a challenge for him.

But, again, he has a lot of supporters out there, but, you know, it's not his first time around.

KEILAR: If past --

BOLDEN: He's not alone in that space.

KEILAR: If past is prologue, I say he goes the distance, if he has the money to do it.

All right, I want to -- the president. I mean this is what I was talking with Mark about. He's raised so much money, $24 million on the first day, OK, of his campaign, which is what, you know, this big haul that Pete Buttigieg brought in over an entire quarter.

What's it -- what does he -- I guess what are the other candidates up against with him?

COOK: Well, I think they're up against -- you know, Trump basically has been campaigning since he won in 2016. And so they're just up against a president that has the bully pulpit, as all incumbents do. He has a very organized campaign this time around. They're working very closely with the RNC. So far they've avoided sort of the personal infighting that has plagued the White House. And they're organized and they have a ton of money on hand. And I think that that will be hard for Democrats.

BOLDEN: But money doesn't buy you votes. I'm from Chicago, I could know that.

ZELENY: Sure it does.

BOLDEN: It doesn't buy you votes. It buys you access to votes. And the greatest weapon that Democrats have is Donald Trump himself. He's out there speaking every day. He can't grow from that 40. Sixty percent of the people in this country generally don't agree with his policies. And so he can have all the money in the world. He's got to connect and he's got to be loved by the independents and the Republicans as opposed to just the Republicans that support him in the high 80s. The money's not enough. He has got to grow from 40 percent approval and he has got to grow from that 88 percent of Republicans that support him.

ZELENY: It's always compared to who, though.

KEILAR: That's right.

ZELENY: Who he's running against.


KEILAR: Scott --

BOLDEN: And he may have a primary too. Who knows?

KEILAR: Scott Bolden, we will see. That would shake things up.

BOLDEN: Right.

KEILAR: Nancy Cook, Jeff Zeleny, thank you guys so much.

BOLDEN: Thank you.

[13:14:47] KEILAR: Now, in cities across the country, there are calls for the closing down of detention facilities that are housing migrants due to what many are calling inhumane conditions. And the reporting certainly supports that. We'll have this growing controversy ahead.


KEILAR: Democratic lawmakers are getting a firsthand look at conditions in detention centers on the border. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus visiting as the Department of Homeland Security investigates a private FaceBook group of current and former Border Patrol agents. A report by ProPublica revealed posts that reportedly joked about migrant deaths and included derogatory comments about Democratic officials visiting detention centers.

[13:20:13] We have Texas Republican Congressman Will Hurd who's with us. He represents a district that covers much of the state's border with Mexico.

Sir, thanks, as always, for being with us.

REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): My pleasure.

KEILAR: You have a very substantive op-ed in "The Washington Post." I want to really dig into that with you in just a moment.

But first let's discuss these new reports of conditions at these facilities that are coming from Democrats. They were in your district touring the Clint facility. You've toured that one just this past weekend. They also were in El Paso touring another facility. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that migrants are drinking water out of toilet bowls. Is that your understanding or your concern?

HURD: Well, I haven't seen it. And, of course, nobody should be drinking water out of a toilet bowl. I think Department of Homeland Security responded to that pretty quickly saying that was not the case. But in all of these instances when we hear this, we should go back to the source and verify the comments and understand the context of where those comments came. Nobody should be drinking out -- out of bath water -- out of toilet water, plain and simple. That shouldn't be happening. But my understanding, I have not seen that in the facilities that I've toured.

As you said, I was in the Clint facility that handles unaccompanied minors this weekend on Saturday. I didn't see any of that. We've actually seen a decrease in the number of children that are being housed in that facility. At the high water mark there was 700. When I was there over the weekend, there was about 60. As of this morning, there is about 25.

And we have to remember, these border patrol facilities are temporary facilities. These are holding facilities, only supposed to house people for less than 72 hours until they get handed over to ICE and HHS.

KEILAR: Sure. Yes.

And they have been, obviously, housing people longer than that and we've seen the consequences.

HURD: Absolutely.

KEILAR: But I want to -- I want to ask you ab out something --

HURD: Nobody -- nobody should be in these facilities, right, for long --


HURD: Let alone children, right? And -- and I think what's happening in Clint and El Paso is an example of some of the facilities across the country. And even DHS, their inspector general did a report on these temporary facilities, you know, identifying some of the problems. And when people are in our custody, we should be treating them humanely and properly.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about something Congresswoman Norma Torrez said, because she said she was worried about her safety during one of her tours. Let's listen.


REP. NORMA TORRES (D-CA): I certainly did not feel safe to be inside this location. There were CBP agents that were taking photos, selfies photos with us in the background. None of us had a cell phone to be able to record these actions by these agents. But imagine, this is what they are doing to members of Congress in front of their leadership. So you could imagine what happens behind closed doors within these ICE cells to children as young as two years old.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: I want to ask you about what she said there and also this ProPublica report about a FaceBook group of current and former CBP members --

HURD: Sure.

KEILAR: That reportedly feature jokes about migrant deaths and lewd comments about Latino lawmakers. I've heard you speak in very different terms about CBP officers. What is your reaction to this report and that description from the congresswoman?

HURD: Well, it's unfortunate that she felt that way. And nobody touring those facilities should feel that way.

I haven't seen that in my experience in going through many of these facilities. And, again, I have more border than any member of Congress. I've been doing this for five years. You know, we were investigating these facilities back in 2015. The facilities were even worse -- as bad as they are now, they were worse back in 2014 and 2015. And somebody shouldn't feel that way, especially somebody who has an oversight role of an executive agency.

My experience with Border Patrol is seeing them like in Del Rio sector, one of the areas of my district, where they've conducted 422 water rescues along the Rio Grande. That's in eight months. Imagine if a fire department did 422 rescues in eight months. These are men and women that are putting themselves in harm's way to save other people. That's -- that's -- that is my experience. And that's why I think this ProPublica website, this, you know, revelation of a FaceBook group and current members of Border Patrol saying pretty derogatory things is absolutely unacceptable. I think this should be investigated, which I know Department of Homeland Security is doing. And if people are indeed doing that, they should be fired because it is a violation of their code of ethics. And, unfortunately, this puts a bad stain on all the other border patrol members who are doing things the right way. There are border patrol members that work all day and then go to some of these shelters and help, you know, put up stands to keep, you know, pampers off the floor. So it's unfortunate that a group of people are saying these kinds of terrible things. And I know there is outrage amongst the rank and file of Border Patrol.

[13:25:31] KEILAR: Your -- let's talk about your op-ed. You outline a series of proposals in this, in "The Post," to deal with the root of the migration crisis. One of the things that you're proposing is that the secretary of state should appoint a special representative for the northern triangle. Tell me about that, and if the State Department's been receptive.

HURD: So, the root causes -- the facility at Clint, this overcrowding, these terrible conditions that we see, this is a -- this is a symptom of a broader problem. And that broader problem is lack of economic opportunity, extreme poverty and violence in the northern triangle, which is El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. We need to be addressing those root causes. And it's a fraction of the cost to do it there before it gets to our border. You know, we need to have a senior diplomat that's coordinating the

efforts in those three countries, making sure all of the federal entities, like OPIC, USAID, the State Department, INL, all of these folks that are putting resources and funds into this part of Central America, that it's coordinated on a broader effort. And we need to be including the rest of the western hemisphere because this is not just a problem for the United States and Mexico, this is a problem for the entire western hemisphere. And this is where we're going to have to address these root causes.

We also need to dismantle the infrastructure of human smuggling that is bringing people here. Last month we all know 144,000 people came into our country illegally. Almost all of them came through a human smuggler. We have phone numbers. We have license plates.

KEILAR: And -- and we're -- we have -- I want to say, we have this up. We have this up on our screen here, to dismantle smuggling rings, you want more immigration judges, you want to restrict asylum claims to legal ports of entry as well.

I want to ask you about something we talked about last time you were on. I didn't see it in your op-ed and so I was wondering. Last time we spoke was before that viral image of Oscar and Valeria Martinez --

HURD: Sure.

KEILAR: The drowned migrants at the border, before anyone saw that. And one of the things that you talked about was something that's in your bill, which is to have migrants seek asylum in a contiguous country. So in that case it would be Mexico. That's what they were doing. And they had spent two months, they were desperate and they tried to cross anyway.

Has that informed you at all to think that perhaps that could be unintended consequences of something like that proposal?

HURD: Well, look, these images are horrific. Imagine how bad your situation is for you to leave your home country, with your child, or send your child on their own on a perilous journey, 3,000-mile journey of who knows what you're going to encounter before you ultimately get to the -- to the United States. That's why addressing those root causes is so important.

And asylum is for people that are part of a protected class. And there's five levels of protected classes. It's somebody who is being persecuted by the government or by an entity that the government is unwilling to protect you from or can't protect you from. And so just applying because you want to get a better job is not a requirement for asylum. And applying for asylum is not a violation of the law.

But when our asylum laws are being taken advantage of, the people that really need asylum are the ones that are negatively affected. And so that's why we should streamline that. Oh, and, by the way, let's streamline legal immigration into the United States of America. That's something where our economy is, we need -- we need folks at every level of society, from agriculture, to artificial intelligence. Let's streamline legal immigration. And this would help address this crisis as well that we're seeing along the border.

KEILAR: Sir, thank you so much.

Congressman Will Hurd joining us.

HURD: Always a pleasure to be on.

KEILAR: President Trump is bucking tradition. Why tanks and tickets are raising eyebrows before the country celebrates the Fourth of July.

Plus, Democrats are investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after a whistleblower alleged that he misused his security detail for personal purposes.