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Justice Department Reverses Course On Census Citizenship Question; Trump Defends Costs Of July 4th Event Amid Politicization Fears; Trump Tweet Catches Government Lawyers Off Guard In Census Battle; Appeals Court Rejects Trump Request To Use Military Funds For Wall; Military Chiefs Concerned About Politicization Of July 4 Event; Rep. Justin Amash Announces He's Leaving The Republican Party; Harris & Biden Campaigns Again, Trade Barbs Over Busing; What Are Most Important Issues For Iowa Voters; Several Leading 2020 Democratic Candidates In Iowa. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired July 4, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Thank you.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you. All right. Another presidential tweet sends the Justice Department scrambling. What does this mean? NEW DAY continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like the head of the executive changed his mind and that's well within his province to do so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Supreme Court held it. It shouldn't appear in there.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I spend billions of dollars on the census and you're not allowed to ask whether or not somebody is a citizen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Candidates are preparing to blanket the campaign trail in Iowa for the Fourth of July.
FORMER GOV. ED RENDELL (D-PA): Kamala Harris got a ton of praise with her first sound bite saying, "This is not a food fight. The voters don't want a food fight." Then, she took a whole tray of mashed potatoes and threw it at Vice President Biden.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Individuals who were in the United States Senate, who built a career on segregation of the races. And who worked very hard against busing.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I respect Senator Harris. I want to be absolutely clear, I never, never, never ever opposed voluntary busing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman. CAMEROTA: Happy Fourth of July, everyone.
AVLON: Happy Fourth of July.
CAMEROTA: Great to have you here.
AVLON: Great to be here.
CAMEROTA: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is a special holiday edition of New Day. So President Trump has tweeted and it has triggered a chaotic chain of events at the Justice Department. Government lawyers are now scrambling to find a, quote, legally available path to include that citizenship question on the 2020 census. This is after the Supreme Court blocked it.
Now, remember the Trump administration dropped their effort yesterday publicly and they then began the process of printing the questionnaire, so what has changed?
AVLON: And there's another setback to the Trump administration, a federal appeals court has blocked President Trump's plan to shift $2.5 billion from the military budget to build his proposed border wall. All of this as the President prepares for his Fourth of July event, defending the costs of displaying America's military might and CNN has learned that military chiefs are concerned about the President politicizing tonight's celebration.
We begin with Joe Johns live at the White House. Joe, Happy Fourth of July. What you got?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Happy 4th to you. A very busy floor for the lawyers at the Justice Department right now. The upshot of this is the president refusing to take no for an answer on inputting that citizenship question on the 2020 census, actually tweeting to that effect. This, of course, created a real scramble between the Justice Department and the Commerce Department both of whom had said, "Look, we're going to drop this issue and move on."
Apparently, the administration isn't going to drop that issue trying to figure out a way to work it all out. It created a real sense of confusion also on an emergency conference call ordered by a judge over in Maryland, a federal court judge, the attorney for the Justice Department essentially saying he'd been blindsided. Here's part of the transcript from that.
"The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the President's position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your Honor. I have not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the President has tweeted." The President now has until two o'clock tomorrow Eastern time to try to get back to the judge that they can all get on the same page on that senseless question.
Meanwhile, another setback as you alluded to at the top for the administration in the courts, this one out on the West Coast, a three- judge panel there refusing to lift an injunction on DoD money to be used for building the President's wall on the Southern Border. They said the administration does not have a likelihood of prevailing in that case. Alisyn, back to you.
CAMEROTA: OK. Joe, please bring us updates as you get them from the White House this morning. Meanwhile, President Trump is touting the show of a lifetime tonight for the Fourth of July. It will feature tanks and military jet flyovers. The President is defending the high cost of this event and some military leaders are expressing concerns. So CNN's Kylie Atwood is live at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington with a preview. What are we expecting, Kylie?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, this is where President Trump is going to deliver his speech later tonight and it's much different than how previous presidents have celebrated Fourth of July generally doing it from the White House. But Trump wanted to put U.S. military specifically on display. We have watched this morning as U.S. troops from the Army have shined up these military vehicles that are behind us using spray paint to make sure they're in good shape for the show later today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. It'll be like no other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ATWOOD(voice-over): A celebration clouded in controversy. In just hours, President Trump's Salute to America is set to begin. In what he is billing the show of a lifetime. The event will include military vehicles and weaponry on the streets of Washington. Something he claims, quote, the Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing.
But a source telling CNN some Pentagon leaders and military chiefs do not share his enthusiasm and worry that it will get political. The President also breaking tradition by delivering a speech and saving VIP tickets in front of the Lincoln Memorial for his allies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:05:13] SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): The Fourth of July is supposed to be on national holiday. He's making it not only political, but he's making it all about himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ATWOOD (voice-over): President Trump downplaying the cost, tweeting, quote, it will be very little compared to what it is worth. But that claim is misleading, as many of the aircraft involved in this ceremony will be flying in from around the country. F-35C fighter jets from California. A B-52 stealth bomber from Missouri. Apache helicopters from Kentucky and the Blue Angels from Florida. The President is also overlooking the additional costs of security personnel and infrastructure required to put on an event of the size. Democratic lawmakers now requesting a detailed accounting from the Interior Department on how those funds are being used. After the Washington Post reported, the National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million to pay for this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D-AZ): To divert it on a use that is not prescribed for that fund for what essentially is a self-aggrandization event that Trump is having for himself we believe is illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ATWOOD(voice-over): Despite the backlash, the White House maintains tonight's event is open to all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: The public is welcome to come and celebrate our great country, the greatest democracy. I'm not going to allow you to politicize it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ATWOOD: Now, there were about 15,000 total tickets given out for today's celebration and 500 of those went to VIPs. Those are President Trump's friends, his allies and donors. And we should note, however, that despite some reservations from military leaders about today politicizing the military, President Trump will be flanked by the Acting Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Joseph Dunford when we delivers his speech later today.
CAMEROTA: Kylie, thank you very much for the preview. Of course, we will be covering that. Meanwhile, joining us to talk about everything that's happening today. We have Margaret Talev, Senior White House Correspondent Bloomberg News, retired General James 'Spider' Marks, CNN Military Analyst and Jackie Kucinich, Washington Bureau Chief for The Daily Beast.
Happy Fourth of July to all of you.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Happy 4th.
CAMEROTA: OK. Margaret, let me start with you about what's happening with this citizenship question on the census. The Supreme Court basically shot it down last week. They thought that the administration's argument for why they would include a citizenship question was specious or in the words of the Chief Justice contrived. And after that we had heard that the administration said, "OK, that's it." They had to start printing, the census. It was time and so they were going to leave the citizenship question off of it. Then there was a scramble yesterday morning where we heard, no, it's back on. They're going to be fighting it again. They're going to be looking for some other legal path, though the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and it left the government attorneys quite confused. So here's what one of them said yesterday.
"The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the President's position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs 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 am doing my absolute best to figure out what's going on here." Margaret, what is going on here?
TALEV: Yes. He pretty much summed up the whole of government response to the President's tweet yesterday, Alisyn. This would caught folks at the White House off-guard, not just at the Justice Department. And look, this is the President who, you can argue is not going to take no for an answer. I think you can also argue that he just didn't like the optics of folding on something that he said was so important and basic.
So has anything substantively changed? Is there suddenly a new argument that didn't exist like five minutes before? No. There's not although there's going to have to be by two o'clock tomorrow. But I think one question that we'll be looking at is whether the President actually thinks there is a vehicle, actually intends to take this forward in time to change anything about 2020 or whether he's making a rhetorical case so that he can go back to his supporters and say, "Look, I didn't take no for an answer. I kept pushing."
It's also theoretically possible that the President could just - the printing of the census questions can continue. It's already started. This process has already begun, but that he could continue to fight this so that the option could be kept open for the 2030 census long after he's gone. So it's hard to see how this changes anything for the 2020 census.
TALEV: But it certainly changes the political argument, I think that's where we are right now.
[17:09:51] AVLON: But Jackie, I think the confusion in the administration right now is that the administration, the Department of Justice went forward and said they were done with this. They were going to drop the flight two days ago. Then, the president tweeted and called his own administration statements in court fake news. Where's the disconnect? Was the President unaware according to your reporting that the administration was going to take this step or did he just change his mind?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think as we've seen in other part of the government, it's not true until the President says it. And to Margaret's point, how much of this is about the fight than the actual results and the administration has lost most of their court cases, be it regulatory immigration across the board and there has been some speculation whether it's more about touting the policy, fighting for the policy than actually implementing policy.
Unlike other presidents, it feels like everything here is cloaked in politics and aimed more toward a general election and getting reelected than actually changing the law.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about what's happening tonight in front of the Lincoln Memorial, General Marks. So President Trump for years has had this dream of having a big military parade and it was kind of cemented for him when he went to the Bastille Day event in France and saw all of the pomp and circumstance there and so he's getting some version of that.
There will be tanks tonight. There will be a military flyover and it's hard to know if how the military feels about it and I assume we can't paint with any broad brushstrokes. Some are probably excited, some are probably confused. Here's what General Zinni said, former Head of USCENTCOM.
He says, "Put troops out there so we can thank them. Leave tanks for Red Square." Your thoughts, General.
JAMES MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I'll tell you I have absolute respect for General Tony Zinni. One of the best that the nation's ever produced. But you know the old expression, everybody loves a parade unless you're in it. Having been in a ton of parade, I'd prefer to be doing something else.
Look, the only thing a commander - anybody in the chain of command, the only thing that can be given to a soldier or any member of the military is time. You can't stroke them a check. You can put a little piece of cloth on them for great service, but you can give them time. And to be sensitive to what soldiers are dealing with as a matter of routine, it would be wonderful if you could give them some time back and say, "You know folks, spend time with the family. Do what you want. We're not going to have you gather down on the mall."
But having said that and if that was the advice that went to the commander in chief and said, "Look, Mr. President, there are better ways we can spend our time." Let's not worry about the money, frankly. It's a rounding error, but let's give time back to the troops. And if the answer was, "No, we're going to do it." Then you go, "Roger, can do it. It's a legal order. It's ethical. We'll execute and we'll do it enthusiastically."
AVLON: But General, I mean, Harry Truman did this in 1951. It's the closest we've got to a president. Are you concerned about the optics of a military parade or do you think that's overblown?
MARKS: I think it's overblown. I mean I really do. Look, it's an opportunity. This nation was created. We won our independence on the backs of amazing citizenry. We had to defend it multiple times. We're defending it today. We've been at war for 18 years and many would suggest we're in a continual state of conflict. It looks a little different now, but we continue to deploy our soldiers. It's OK to embrace the military. I really, really feel that way. The optics can be what they are, but I think this is an OK thing to do, wouldn't be my vote, but I got it. If it's legal, we can execute it.
AVLON: I appreciate it.
CAMEROTA: And Margaret, there has been a debate inside these cable newsrooms, I assume all newsrooms, about how to cover this and how to classify this and what CNN has decided. I mean some cable networks have decided not to cover it at all, some have decided to go all-in.
And what CNN has decided is to cover the event. It is an event that the President of the United States has called for and then viewers can decide what bucket they want to put it into, is it a political rally, is it a national event. It's hard to really know beforehand and before the president speaks. So what should we expect to see tonight?
TALEV: Yes. I think the big unknown is, is this in fact going to be what the White House has promoted it as which is a unifying patriotic event, a 20-minute speech at the Lincoln steps and then he get on with the rest of the night or is it going to become a politically divisive speech where the President talks about how no one has ever built up the military the way he has and about how Obama undercut the stuff in North Korea or whatever.
The talking points are going to be if the President can resist all of that and sticks to the message which is god bless America and god bless the military, then I think this is where the country is going to move on.
AVLON: The internal question.
[07:14:57] TALEV: But if it becomes a divisive event, that could be a bit of a game changer and the President has decided very clearly that no matter what, people will see this as patriotism as him embracing the military. He thinks this is a no-lose situation for him.
AVLON: Well, the internal question is which Trump shows up, teleprompter Trump or Twitter Trump. Jackie Kucinich, before we go, on this Independence Day, we've got news this morning. Congressman Justin Amash in an op-ed in "The Washington Post" declaring his independence and saying he's leaving the Republican Party. Obviously, someone who's come under fire from President Trump for his independence as a libertarian leaning Republican in the past, now making it official, what say you?
KUCINICH: Yes. He wrote that a modern politics is trapped in a death spiral. So there really isn't anything - you didn't really leave anything unsaid. Justin Amash is someone throughout his congressional career has been willing to go his own way and stick to his libertarian principles. When he first came out for impeachment, the way Republican leaders reacted it seems like they had a little bit of pent-up feelings about Amash. They wanted to get out there, because he's been known for someone to buck his party. So the fact that he's doing this, he's getting challenged for the nomination in his state, we'll see if this is something viable that gets him reelected. But if you read this op-ed, he's a child of immigrants and he really does seem frightened about where the country is going. He'll be one to watch.
AVLON: It's a must-read. Independence is something we tend to celebrate, except when it comes to partisan politics. Thank you all for joining us and Happy Fourth of July.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy 4th.
AVLON: All right. Now, from the debate stage to Iowa, the campaigns of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden trading jabs over the issue of busing again. But is it an issue that people in Iowa are going to focus on? We're going to discuss next.
[07:20:47] AVLON: All right. It's back to the future on the campaign trail with Senator Kamala Harris talking about busing in Iowa. Now, her position sounds a little different than what she said at last week's debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: I think of busing as being in the toolbox 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 toolbox should be considered by a school district.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: Harris and Biden, two of the many, many Democratic candidates criss-crossing Iowa this holiday weekend. Joining us now from Iowa, CNN Political Reporter, Arlette Saenz and Brianne Pfannenstiel, Chief Politics Reporter for The Des Moines Register. Good to have you both.
All right. Brianne, you are at the Des Moines Register. I'm wondering what your - the Iowans are making of this fight over busing between two of the leading candidates?
BRIANNE PFANNENSTIEL, CHIEF POLITICS REPORTER, DES MOINES REGISTER: Well, I think a lot of Iowans who are tuned into the debate are really looking at this through the lens of who can take on Donald Trump. And so on a national stage, they saw Kamala Harris land a punch against Joe Biden against the frontrunner right now in the polls.
And so I think they're seeing Senator Harris as a really strong competitor right now and her poll numbers are surging. And so this kind of aftermath that's playing out right now is still playing out and I think voters will see what they think about whether she's waffling, whether she's walking this back. But we're still waiting to see how this is playing in Iowa.
CAMEROTA: And yet, Arlette, this whole busing thing has become so strange basically for the irony of all that. Kamala Harris had that breakout moment during the debate where she turned and confronted the former vice president on his stance on bussing and then yesterday is revealed, she has the same position that he does on busing which is doesn't believe in a federal mandate.
Thought it should be up to - I think in what she's saying from what I'm interpreting her words, thinks this should be up to the local jurisdiction which is what happened in Berkeley, which is how she was bused, which is what she brought up her personal story. So it's the Biden campaign head exploding?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. I mean that's what the Biden is taking issue with ...
CAMEROTA: Oh, I'm sorry.
SAENZ: ... I mean, the Biden campaign was taking issue with her answer yesterday. The deputy campaign manager essentially saying that she distorted the former vice president's view and now she is tying herself up in knots, trying to respond. But one big question is this issue about busing really going to resonate with voters?
I think for Joe Biden the bigger concern is that Kamala Harris chipped away a little bit at his - the aura of inevitability that has been around him that she was able to take him on and kind of put him on shaky footing in that debate exchange. But going forward, our voters really going to care about Biden's positions in the past on busing or where Kamala Harris stands on busing. That's something that currently remains to be seen.
Now, we'll see if the candidates themselves decide to further engage on this issue today here in Iowa. Biden and Kamala Harris are going to be about 150 miles apart as they start their days. Biden will be at a parade in independence and Kamala Harris down in Indianola. So we'll see if there's any kind of exchange between the two of them over this very issue that their campaigns seem to be taking aim at each other about.
AVLON: And Brianne, that's what I want to hammer home is what folks in Iowa are talking about because busing doesn't seem to be at the top of the list. We've got a new Suffolk University USA Today poll that does delineate the top issues for Iowans and they say it's health care at the top with 29 percent climate change, immigration, income inequality, the economy, National Security and trade policy all the way at the bottom.
Brianne, what I'm fascinated by is that given the pain that a lot of Iowa farmers have felt from the trade war with China that trade is such a low issue, does that track with what you've been hearing from folks on the ground?
PFANNENSTIEL: It does track. And remember these are a lot of Democrats right now who are who are talking about these issues. And they're talking about health care, they're talking about access for their families and expanding access to Medicare. They're talking about climate change. So this really does track with what we're hearing on the ground.
[07:25:00] I would also point out that this poll also shows that 60 percent of Iowa Democrats say that defeating Donald Trump is their first priority and so this is really topping every other issue that we're seeing right now. And I think that's why we're seeing, back to Kamala Harris, why she is doing so well in the polls because she had that moment where she's perceived as someone who can take on the President.
CAMEROTA: In the latest poll among caucus goers, we'll just take a snapshot of where Iowans are right now, Arlette. Biden is at 24 percent. Harris is at 16 percent. Warren is at 13. Sanders is at 9 percent and there's so much talk about women and if the female candidate is seen as electable, but maybe the media is really driving that conversation, because when you ask caucus goers and regular voters, they are happy to say that one of the women is their top choice.
And so, I mean, you tell us since you're on the ground in Iowa, the voters that you talk to, do they think that that gender affects electability?
SAENZ: No, I think that voters are very open right ...
SAENZ: ... apologies, I think that voters are very open to having a female president and you're seeing that in the polls. You've seen both Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren rising. But a lot of the voters that I've talked to over the past week, especially I've been at a lot of Joe Biden events and they are putting electability as their number one concern when it comes to who their nominee is going to be.
There were several attendee I spoke to you last night who said that they are still considering a lot of the candidates; Biden, Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg among them and they are all concerned about electing someone who can take on Donald Trump. Health care was also another issue that was at the top of their minds. So we'll see going forward whether that electability argument is one that candidates, both the men and women on this race are going to be able to meet and effectively meet their voters.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, Brianne, the problem is that that's just a nebulous term, electability. Now, some people think that that's code for some sort of sexism that women aren't as electable as a man. But again you have your finger on the pulse there, what are you hearing?
PFANNENSTIEL: I mean you do hear occasionally from people who will say, "I don't think a woman can be elected," or, "I don't know that a gay man right now could be elected." But that's really the minority. I think most people are kind of projecting and trying to figure out what the electorate at-large will support. They're kind of playing pundit a little bit, trying to get a sense of who can be electable.
And so a lot of people say, "I support a woman. I support a person of color, but I'm worried that the rest of America might not."
AVLON: Well, Iowa certainly changed the game in 2008 by propelling Barack Obama to victory. Thank you both very much. Much more to come from the great state of Iowa in the coming weeks and months we know. All right. A quick programming note, a CNN exclusive tomorrow as Chris Cuomo interviews former Vice President Joe Biden. So how does the 2020 Democratic frontrunner plan to stay ahead of the pack? The interview airs tomorrow morning right here on NEW DAY at 6:00 am and 8:00 am Eastern.
CAMEROTA: That will be so interesting.
AVLON: It'd be great.
CAMEROTA: I think he's only done three interviews, I think, since declaring his candidacy, so it'd be really interesting.
AVLON: It'd be fascinating. A must watch.
CAMEROTA: A judge in New Jersey said that a teenager accused of rape deserves leniency because he, quote, comes from a good family. We discuss this next.