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AT THIS HOUR

Democratic Presidential Candidates Spending July 4th In Iowa; Harris Surges In Three Polls After Strong Debate Performance; Rep. Justin Amash (R) Michigan Leaves Republican Party; Trump Administration Reverses Course On Census Citizenship Question; Joe Biden Speaks At Parade In Iowa. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 4, 2019 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: -- really a great movie.

[11:00:01]

The Movies premieres this Sunday night, 9:00 Eastern Time and Pacific Time, only her on CNN.

Thanks so much for joining me today. I wish you a very Happy July 4th. I hope you get to enjoy it with family and friends.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining us for a special 4th of July version edition of At This Hour.

A question to start your day, where is the best place to spend the 4th of July? My answer, of course, would be anywhere with a grill and a pool. But we weren't really asking my opinion. If you are running for president, your answer might be slightly different. Independence, Iowa, perhaps? That is where we will find Joe Biden this morning.

But the real 4th of July fireworks are between Biden and Senator Kamala Harris right now. Harris is also in Iowa, a whole slew of other democrats running for president. But while the two, let's call them both frontrunners right now, are meeting voters, their campaigns are picking up right where the candidates left off on the debate stage last week.

Let us go to Iowa. CNN Senior National Correspondent Kyung Lah is following Kamala Harris. CNN Political Reporter Arlette Saenz is following Joe Biden.

Kyung, first, to you, what is going on with this?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Harris campaign is calling this a distraction, a way to divert attention away from Vice President's own words on busing in the 1970s. They say that this question that was lobbed at Senator Harris yesterday by a reporter was much more theoretical and that's how she interpreted it, that the question was, do you support mandatory busing? She said, yes. And then she followed up with this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Busing is a tool. Among many that should be considered when we address the issue, which is a very current issue, as well as a past issue of desegregation in American schools. So I think of busing as being in the tool box of what is available and what can be used for the goal of desegregating America's schools.

I believe that any tool that is in the tool box should be considered by a school district.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: Well, that launched a back and forth on Twitter, starting with Joe Biden's spokesperson, the Campaign Communications Director, Kate Bedingfield, Tweeted, quote, it's disappointing that Senator Harris chose to distort Vice President Biden's position on busing, particularly now that she is tying herself in knots, trying to not answer the very question she posed to him.

And then a snapback from Ian Sams, the Harris spokesperson, he Tweeted, quote, Vice President Biden said, who the hell do we think we are that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child? He called busing an asinine concept. Come on, y' all are better than this, that y'all being directed to the Biden campaign.

Now, Harris campaign says, you cannot compare what happened in the 1970s when Harris was a child to the situation of schooling today. So that's what she was trying to explain, that federally-mandated busing and the conditions back then cannot be lifted up and placed here. She supports it as one of a number of ways to deal with schooling today, Kate. That is what I'm hearing from the campaign.

BOLDUAN: All right. Great to see you, Kyung. Thank you so much.

Let's get over to Arlette who is following the Biden campaign. Arlette, my friend, I literally saw you, a shot of you, chasing Biden down a parade route. Well done because he does like to jog in those parade routes, of course. His campaign would not be continuing this fight if they did not think it was the right strategy. What are you hearing?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: No, Kate, they wouldn't be. And I think just the fact that you had the Deputy Campaign Manager, Kate Bedingfield, last night starting this Twitter war of words between the Biden campaign and the Harris campaign shows just how important they find keeping the focus on this issue right now, particularly on the way that Kamala Harris is explaining her current position on busing.

Now, so far, this back and forth has only taken place between the campaign aides. What we're waiting to see is if Biden or Harris directly, themselves, will try to engage on this topic today. We could be hearing from Joe Biden a short while after this parade route here in Independence. He's just wrapping up or running up and down the parade route. Kamala Harris will be out in Indianola, Iowa in just a few hours.

But, really, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are just one of the many candidates who have descended here on the Hawkeye State for the 4th of July holiday. I was, as you said, running up and down the parade route with Joe Biden. And I asked him, have you been training for this parade? And he just simply told that I love parades. And when I asked him to compare his event to President Trump's event over in Washington, D.C. today, he simply said that today is about bringing the country and people together.

So we'll see going forward whether he or Kamala Harris might be engaging on this issue of busing directly today on this 4th of July holiday.

[11:05:00]

Kate?

BOLDUAN: Let us see.

The answer to your question, of course, when you say have you been training for this parade. The answer is always my entire life. That's the answer, Arlette. Great to see you, Arlette. Thank you so much, Kyung. Great to see you. Thanks, guys, I really appreciate it. Let's see what happens in Iowa today.

So if you want to know why Joe Biden and Kamala Harris's campaigns are battling it out, look no further than the polls, my friends, where we saw a major reset this week. So much came out, it is worth a closer look.

And for that, of course, we turn to CNN's Harry Enten. It's great to see you, Harry. Thank you for getting here.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Happy 4th of July. I'm heading up to my mom's afterwards for some fried chicken and corn on the cob.

BOLDUAN: That's wonderful. I am also going to point out that I was not invited.

So moving on from that point, which we'll deal with off-camera, take me through the major national polls. A lot came out. What does it tell us?

ENTEN: Yes. So, basically, you know, we had our CNN poll, we had a Quinnipiac poll, we had an ABC News, Washington Post poll, and there are some differences across them, right? So Quinnipiac and CNN had Biden at 22 percent. ABC News had him at 30 percent. And in the CNN and Quinnipiac polls, Harris was in second place at 17 and 20 percent, but she was actually all the way back at 13 percent and third place in the ABC News, Washington Post poll. Sanders was in second in that poll, 19 percent versus 14 and 13 in the other two.

So this is sort of confusing a little bit, right? You get a little bit of a different picture. Of course, I keep in mind these margins of error that are running across the bottom of your screen. Therefore, they are there for a reason. They are there for a reason.

So all of this stuff is within the margin where, generally, we have seen Biden drop a little bit since the base. We'll get to versus Harris is certainly up and Sanders is in that place.

BOLDUAN: Okay. So with this in mind, how much has the race shifted post-debate?

ENTEN: Yes. So this puts it all together in a nice simple slide. We like simple slides, don't we, folks?

BOLDUAN: We're very simple people.

ENTEN: We're very simple people. So, basically, we have a pre- debate, a post-debate. And what we see is that Biden has dropped five points from pre-debate. He was at 30 percent in the average poll. He's at 25 percent now. Harris is way all up. She's up ten points. Sanders has dropped a little bit and Buttigieg has dropped a little bit.

But right now, our standings are basically Biden in first, Harris in second and then Sanders and Warren very close together for third and fourth place.

BOLDUAN: So these numbers tell us exactly what we need to know, why Biden and Kamala Harris are now gloves off, if you will. They are going after each other because it's a real fight.

ENTEN: It is a real fight. This is a much closer race. If Joe Biden, you know, before the debate, was a clear frontrunner, now, you know, he's up but it's --

BOLDUAN: Now he knows he needed to make a change.

ENTEN: He needed to make a change, because if this continues going forward in the next debate, it's not going to be good for him.

BOLDUAN: And this is where we dive into like Harry's project for the day, which is what I love. Harry is now deep-diving into what history shows us about what the past runner up, what happens to them in the future?

ENTEN: Yes, okay. So this is -- you know, I'm a mad scientist. You know, I go into my lab, I type it out --

BOLDUAN: Mad, yes. Keep going.

ENTEN: Okay.

So, basically, I looked at when a former runner up runs again, right, and I looked at national polling since 1972, when Sanders is, of course, behind in all of the polls, when they are leading in the polls, those runner ups end up winning the nomination the next time around five out of five times, 100 percent. But whent they are trailing, like Bernie Sanders is trailing right now, they only won one out of 18 times -- one out of eight times only 13 percent. And so we were talking about how Biden was in trouble in the polls. But to me, the real person in trouble, Bernie Sanders, who is not ahead in any poll right now. He is very much behind eight ball at this point.

BOLDUAN: At this point on July 4th, Harry Enten is sinking Bernie Sanders' campaign.

ENTEN: You know what? July 4th is just like any other day for me. I'm in the numbers, except maybe I'm by a pool when I'm in the numbers.

BOLDUAN: That's a mental image I love. Great to see you, Harry. Thank you so much.

ENTE: Nice to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Happy 4th.

ENTEN: You as well.

BOLDUAN: All right. This programming note for you, a CNN exclusive, former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, will be sitting down with Chris Cuomo. That interview airs tomorrow morning at 6:00 and 8:00 A.M. Eastern only on CNN.

Also new this morning, a declaration of independence of sorts or actually in real life. Michigan Congressman Justin Amash announcing in an op-ed that he is leaving the Republican Party. He's the only republican, you'll remember, member of Congress to break from the party and call for Donald Trump's impeachment. And now, he says he's rejecting the entire two-party system as well.

Let me read you part of what Amash writes. He writes, in recent years though, I have become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions. Amash goes on to say, today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party.

One republican quick to say good riddance to him is President Trump, who didn't miss the opportunity, of course, to call Amash, in his words, one of the dumbest and most disloyal men in Congress.

Joining me -- disloyal in Congress is saying a lot. It just dawned on me.

Joining me right now is CNN Congressional Correspondent Phil Mattingly and Doug Heye, CNN Political Commentator and former communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Okay. Phil, what is Justin Amash doing here? Was this inevitable? What do you think is going on?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think inevitable is kind of the right word. And what this has been as kind of just a continuation of a slow rolling that has turned into a very deliberate over the course of the last couple months break with the Republican Party.

Context here is important.

[11:10:00]

And the context of Justin Amash, as he was never really mainstream republican, if you asked him, he always said he associated more with libertarian ideology than he did kind of traditional republican ideology. So in that sense, he was kind of always on the periphery of the party, to begin with, often a thorn in the side of republican leaders, as the former leadership aide, Doug Heye, might be able to confirm at some point.

But I think what you've seen in spades over the course of the last couple months with his decision to break with every other republican seemingly in America and say that the President, after reading the Mueller report, has committed potential impeachable offenses, with his decision to leave the freedom caucus, the rigidly conservative caucus that he helped found, all of these things have led to this point.

I think the big question now is what are his next steps politically? Does he still plan to run for the House? Does he plan to run for President? What happens now that he no longer is a man with a party as a home?

BOLDUAN: Yes. And, Doug, I do want your take on how much Amash was a thorn in your side for so long, but also on the point right where Phil left off? I mean, he's the only republican who called for the President to be impeached. He went home, had this town hall to cheers and jeers, and now, we have republicans in his home district in Michigan who have begun to line up to challenge him in a primary if he would be running in a republican primary.

The fact that he had so many primary challengers lining up, do you think that's what's motivating this?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, even on the 4th of July, politics always plays a role here and it shouldn't be surprising. So much of what Justin Amash has said over the past year and year-and-a-half about President Trump as a republican, I agreed with.

But the problem, and this is what I saw firsthand as I was trying to duck question after question from Phil Mattingly, who would chase me and other staffers down the hall, was when Justin Amash and other freedom caucus members were opposing whatever plan of action house leadership put forth, they were always better at diagnosing problems than they were than coming up with solutions.

And, you know, I would agree with Justin Amash. Our two-party system right now is broken. It's got some serious problems. Okay. So how are you going to solve that? Just saying I'm taking my ball and going home because I don't like Donald Trump isn't enough. You can't just identify problems. You have to come up with solutions. And this is where, I think, Amash has fallen apart or fallen short so many times in his congressional career.

And he's always relished that role of being a thorn in the side. Okay. But he hasn't really a strong legislative record. I think his only bill that he's passed is renaming a post office. So where are the solutions?

And I think that's what voters, whether you support Trump or oppose Trump, that's what voters always want to hear and that's what seems short.

BOLDUAN: So the other option, of course, then, Phil, is Amash ends his op-ed with this. I'll put up this full screen for you. No matter your circumstances, I'm asking to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I'm asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system and work toward it. If you continue to take America for granted, if we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.

So what do you think the chances are then that Amash says, forget Congress, I'm going to make an independent run against Trump?

MATTINGLY: Yes, a natural coda for that statement you just read, and that's why I'm running for President of the United States under the libertarian ticket. Look, he's been very coy about this. He's been asked about this repeatedly by reporters a couple of months ago. He's saying, I haven't thought about it but I wouldn't put it off the table. He is continuing to say he's going to kind of wait and see next steps. I think one of the interesting parts about the op-ed is he doesn't say what he's going to do next.

Again, there are real questions given the fact that I think the Trump team would really like to support whoever is in his district given the fact he's definitely not going to have NRCC's support any more whether he can win if he runs for Congress. Libertarian is what he is. The movement would like him out there, I think, and talking to people. What he decides is still an open question.

BOLDUAN: And I would just like to say, in a world -- in a political universe where so much seems to be baked in, expected, we know the ending before the beginning, it is -- it is always interesting to hear what Justin Amash is going to say, and this op-ed adds to that. Thanks, guys.

MATTINGLY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us next, the Justice Department isn't getting this 4th of July off. They are working overtime. So attorneys in the Justice Department now that President Trump told them to find a way to get a question about the question about citizenship into the 2020 census. But can they give him what he wants?

And also this, fighter jets, flyovers, tanks, military bands and White House aides working hard to make sure the President's salute to America celebration goes off without a hitch. What can we expect to see tonight? A lot people arriving for the parade, that is the traditional parade that is going along Constitution Avenue. What are they excited about? We're going to go live to the National Mall, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:15:00]

BOLDUAN: Remember when we were talking about ways to spend the 4th of July? Well, if you're an attorney of the Justice Department, you're spending it finding a way to get that citizenship question back into the census. That is right. In a stunning reversal and reversal on that reversal, President Trump has directed the Justice Department to find a way.

The President today Tweeting this, so important for our country that the very simple and basic are you a citizen of the United States question be allowed to be asked in the 2020 census. Department of Commerce and Department of Justice are working very hard on this, even on the 4th of July.

[11:20:02]

So with all of this back and forth and the Supreme Court decision to boot, what happens now?

Joining me right now is CNN's Ariane de Vogue. Ariane, yesterday, we were in this position, and I said that I thought the President was basically bluffing, firing off just another Tweet with no follow through. I clearly was wrong. Now, officials say that they're looking for the way they're saying it is a legally available path. What happened?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, that was a remarkable reversal based on the President's Tweet. Remember that the Department of Justice and the Commerce Secretary had told a federal judge that that question would not be on the questionnaire.

And then suddenly the President launches that Tweet and he took the Department of Justice by surprise, but he also took the federal judge by surprise. The President said that that was fake news. Keep in mind, Kate, fake news, meaning that his own Department of Justice had delivered fake news to a federal judge.

The judge called the parties in at this conference call and he said, look, what is going on here? I'm on Twitter. I follow the President. And the President has just Tweeted something that is absolutely contradictory to what you told me in court.

And a Department of Justice attorney said, yes, there had been a reversal. What he said to the judge was kind of extraordinary. He said, the Tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the President's position on this issue, just like the plaintiff's, and, your honor, I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the President has Tweeted. I'm doing my absolute best to figure out what is going on. So the judge basically told the government, go figure out what's going on and come back to me on Friday. And we're being told now there are now several options on the table that are being discussed on this 4th of July. One is an executive order. The President would come forward with an executive order saying he had the authority. I did speak to a government official just a little while ago who said they think that that is not realistic.

Another option would be adding to the census, somehow either an addendum or a supplement to add the question or maybe going back to the Supreme Court for some kind of motion to reconsider. So they are working behind closed doors right now, trying to figure out the way forward that the President seems to be requesting, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, another remarkable chain of events to see how this is going to shake out. We literally have no clue. Ariane, thank you so much.

DE VOGUE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan, he's joining me now for some more perspective. Paul, help me out here. So justice officials, the terminology they used -- that they are using is that they are looking for a, quote, unquote, legally available path. Is it clear that one exists? Ariane kind of listed out the options being considered. But from your perspective, what do you think?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they're in a very difficult position because Justice Roberts indicated that he could not accept the reason that was initially given by the Trump administration for why this citizenship question was being asked. He said it was a pre- text question. He did, however, leave the door open for additional information to be supplied, giving a better constitutional reason to ask the question.

So the real thing is, now, how will the court react if the Commerce Department comes back and says, well, we did have other reasons, which we didn't mention, in the initial aspect of the lawsuit. And the court might very well accept that. And the reason I say they might is because the vote split on this was very, very close. Roberts, who as you know, is Chief Justice, and is a conservative, joined four liberals to reach the result throwing out the question.

BOLDUAN: I hear you, Paul.

CALLAN: If they convince Roberts alone that it's -- the new explanation is acceptable, the conservatives would have a five majority and they might uphold the question.

BOLDUAN: I hear you though. But if three separate federal courts and the Supreme Court did not believe the reason the administration offered up for adding the question, Justice Roberts said the sole- stated reason seems to have been contrived, is what he wrote. It basically seems to be like they thought that Wilbur Ross was lying when he put this forth.

And so in that front, like I just wonder if they think they were lying in the first place, they had a contrived reason was the original reason, why then are they going to believe the next reason that is offered up?

CALLAN: Well, you're giving some great arguments here. And that's -- you're thinking like a normal person. But we're talking about how the court is looking at the census. And this thing is a complex issue. It really is. And they -- you know, Roberts might be looking for a reason to get back on board with other conservatives to permit the question.

And I will tell you, I think a lot of people don't realize, that the census arises from Article 1of the U.S. constitution, which requires that it be conducted every ten years.

[11:25:06]

In the past, there had been some pretty bizarre questions on the census. I was looking back in time. At one time, there was a question about whether you were Mexican or not. And you know why that question was eliminated by the courts at one point because -- or I should say, by the administration, was because it offended the Mexican government. So we have seen a lot of bizarre things happen with respect to the census.

And one other thing that I would add here, Kate, and that is they have until the end of 2020 to complete the census legally. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see the Commerce Department come back and say, you know something, we have re-evaluated and we can still get the census done if the court reconsiders our reasons for including this question.

BOLDUAN: And, of course, this will be after they said that they were hard up against a deadline many times over. You have to love a self- imposed and, let's be honest, obviously must be an artificial deadline that a lot of people are posing.

So the fight will continue. You can be assured of that.

It's good to see you, Paul.

CALLAN: Good to see you, and I'm off to the beach, Kate. So, you have a great day.

BOLDUAN: Have fun. Thanks for rubbing it in, buddy. I'm holding down the fort. Don't you worry. Great to see you.

Speaking of fun these days, the annual 4th of July parade down Constitution Avenue in the Capitol is getting under way in just a few minute. We're looking at live pictures from the parade route where people are getting -- they're starting to line the streets. You can see them there. And crowds are already showing up at the very same time in different part of the Capitol. Crowds are starting to show up already for President Trump's salute to America celebration that's taking place later tonight. We're going to take you live to the National Mall next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: I'm going to take you live to Independence, Iowa, where former Vice President Joe Biden is speaking to reporters.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Be careful.

(INAUDIBLE) very much, and I apologize.

Anyway, look, the question is what are we going to do in neighborhoods that, in fact, are -- they have shut down the schools, what are we going to do for all of those kids who have enormous potential who are left behind because no one recognized them.

And that's why what I would propose is -- I'm not going to (INAUDIBLE) to bore you all again, to call you all with a smile, but the fact is that's why we should triple (ph) funding for (INAUDIBLE) schools, schools in distress.

So from $15 to $45 million a year, we should get more people engaged in a way that teachers get more help , where (INAUDIBLE) school from three, four and five years old. They should be able to provide for, you know, $65 and then $100 right now in (INAUDIBLE) High School today. That's what we should be talking and debating about, that and healthcare and a whole range of other things.

REPORTER: So you made a distinction in the past between (INAUDIBLE) segregation. What's your position on it today, especially when the line between (INAUDIBLE) that have some restrictions (ph) succeeding from school districts for the purpose of busing?

BIDEN: Well, first of all, I think what we should do, we should do (INAUDIBLE). We should be in a situation where we're making sure that everybody was (INAUDIBLE) to a school that has your quality. And what intend to do is there's (INAUDIBLE) in my community that was overwhelming our opposition among -- even African-American (INAUDIBLE) what was going on.

And so, look, folks, let's move on. So what do we do now? So many -- we have such incredible possibility. Our kids have such enormous potential and we're wasting it. We're wasting.

And here's the thing that I absolutely reject. I reject the notion because a child comes from a poor family --

REPORTER: Just to some of your past statements. You called busing as (INAUDIBLE). Do you need to atone more for the --

BIDEN: I don't have to atone -- look, my record stands for itself. I've never been accused by anybody in my state. When I'm running (ph), it's not the -- overwhelming supporter of civil rights and civil liberties. I mean, it just -- this is kind of a new thing. You know, we're going back, you know, 40 or 50 years now to a vote.

I mean, you know, look, the last thing that Barack, we need to have circular (INAUDIBLE) party. The idea -- I mean, I'm not picking out votes where there's -- they're out of (ph) cast or that they weren't democrats or they were doing -- I mean, you know, this is about today, and that's what I'm going to talk about.

REPORTER: Could you reflect the reality that the Democratic Party and the country's change especially around race just even in the last five years.

BIDEN: Absolutely, positively, I do, as much as or more than anyone.

REPORTER: You have been absent from the Homestead facility last week when other democratic candidates made visits. What do you say to critics are saying?

BIDEN: I wasn't conspicuously absent.

[11:30:00]

I was doing other things. I'm going to -- I've been to the border before. I'm going back to those places. I have seen it. I'm going to go back. I'll be back to whether it's Homestead or down on the border. I'm going to be there.