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Trump Pushes for Citizenship Question on Census; Trump's Fourth of July Speech Flub; Biden Speaks Out on Debate Performance; Democratic Candidates in Texas. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 5, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much.

We continue on, on this Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Welcome to a special edition of CNN NEWSROOM on this holiday week.

Happening this how, the 2020 hopefuls are taking on Texas, a state where no Democratic presidential candidate has won in more than 40 years. So here you have 10 challengers. They're at this forum for the National Education Association, a teachers union, among them, the former vice president, who is scheduled to speak, by the way, in just a moment, as well as the contender poised to become Biden's biggest rival, Kamala Harris.

The California senator just announced she raised just shy of $12 million in the second quarter, which pales in comparison, though, to some of the other Democratic front-runners. Earlier today in Iowa, Senator Harris acknowledged that she is facing an uphill battle.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It will not be easy, it will not be easy, it will not be easy, but let's just be really clear. This is not 2016. This is 2020.

And people are woke.



BALDWIN: CNN's Rebecca Buck is live in Houston at that teachers union forum.

And, Rebecca, this will be the first time that Biden and Harris will be at this same event since that contentious debate exchange. Do we know if they will at all come face to face?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Brooke, we're not expecting that as of now.

Joe Biden will be speaking near the top of the program here today, Kamala Harris speaking last in the program, so there will be some separation between them. But there's no question that their back and forth over school busing is going to be top of mind, sort of the background music here at this forum today, not least because this is, as you mentioned, a meeting of teachers, of education professionals.

And so they're going to be discussing school policy, education policy. It's very likely that this could come up in some form or fashion, but they will not be meeting face to face. Joe Biden, of course, as you know, sat down with our Chris Cuomo and was asked about this back and forth that he's had with Senator Kamala Harris.

He said he was taken aback by her attack on him at the debate, that he was surprised by how personal it was, given their personal relationship. But, as you know, Senator Kamala Harris has not been backing off from this over the past few days in Iowa, saying that she and Biden just have a disagreement on this issue.

And, as you mentioned, she's posting respectable fund-raising numbers, but her team has emphasized that they have seen a great deal of momentum as a result of this clash with Joe Biden, raising millions of dollars after the debate. And they see this as a spurt of momentum for their campaign, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Rebecca, keep your eyes peeled for the former vice president as he speaks. Thank you very much there in Houston.

And before he left for Texas, Joe Biden sat down for an exclusive interview with us here at CNN. He spoke out about what Rebecca was just alluding to that, fiery debate clash with Senator Harris that launched 1,000 headlines, and why he tries to avoid fights with his fellow Democrats.


JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I didn't want to do is get in that scrum. Do you think the American public looked at that debate -- take me out of it -- and thought boy, I really -- I really like the way that's being conducted; they're really showing themselves to do really well?

Come on, man.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But they're -- they're going to come after you.

BIDEN: Sure they're going to come after me.

CUOMO: We're you prepared for them to come after you?

BIDEN: I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn't prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me.

She knew Beau. She knows me. I don't -- anyway, I -- but here's the deal. What I do know -- and this is good and the bad news -- the American people think they know me, and they know me.


BALDWIN: Abby Phillip is our CNN White House correspondent, and Maeve Reston rested is a CNN national political reporter.

Ladies, good to see you both.

And, Maeve, starting with you, to listen to Biden there, when he says Senator Harris knows him, knew his son Beau, because they were both attorneys general at the same time, it almost sounds like he took her attack personally.


I think that was the clear subtext of that. And then you saw him almost go on and then kind of hesitate and reel it back.


RESTON: I think he really did take it personally, because -- in part because the Kamala Harris has made a point at several points, talking about how she knew Beau Biden, he was a good friend of hers, how much she loves Joe Biden.

And so I think that -- and we all watched that moment in the debate. He seemed so taken back by it and the force, like her fierceness coming at him.

And I also just think that this is, as he explained in more depth in this interview, this also -- this attack kind of strikes at the core of who he thinks he is. He thinks of himself as a champion of civil rights, someone who was on the right side on a lot of issues, and he clearly was not prepared for the fierceness of that attack, but also is not willing to go there in terms of giving it back right now, Brooke.


BALDWIN: Mm-hmm. I want to come back to that in just a second.

But along those same lines, Abby, Biden also told CNN -- quoting him -- "I get all information other people's past, what they have done, not done, and I'm not going there," right?

So, what Maeve was getting at, do you think this is his strategy overall, stay above the fray, let's not get into the mud, or is this his defense or response to Senator Harris' jab?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It seems that Biden wants this to be the way that he conducts his campaign, where he doesn't want to be throwing dirt at his fellow Democrats.

And I think that that's fine. But at the same time, it also speaks to how he interpreted what Harris did to him, by using her own experience as a child who was bused. I think Biden views that as her going -- taking kind of a low blow at him, implying that he sort of, by taking this position busing when he did back in the '70s, that he was personally attacking her, when he doesn't feel like he was doing that.

And so I think it might just be that the two are kind of misinterpreting how -- I don't think Kamala Harris viewed this as an indictment on Joe Biden's character. She seemed to view it as a teachable moment to explain to him how she viewed busing as a policy.

Biden clearly viewed it as a personal attack. And he's trying to say to his fellow Democrats, I don't want to go personal with you.

But, at the same time, it seems that Biden doesn't see this as a sort of fundamental policy issue, as a question about values, about what the Democratic Party wants to know he has learned from the time between the '70s and now.

And so, in some ways, this may -- his view that this is all about slinging dirty attacks seems to kind of miss the point of the whole conversation. And maybe that's why this conversation is still happening all these days later, because Biden doesn't seem to be wanting to go back and interpret this in a way that I think his Democratic fellow candidates want him to.


BALDWIN: Would like to.


BALDWIN: Go ahead, Maeve. Go ahead.

RESTON: No, I mean, although, Brooke, you and I were just talking about this last week after that moment, how he did a terrible job of explaining his position in the debate.

And I thought that with Chris, in that interview, he did actually lay out the reasons why he took the position that he did at the time, and felt that busing was an imperfect solution to a goal that he agreed with, and then tried to kind of pivot forward to his own plans, tripling the amount of funding for underprivileged schools, for example, and trying to sort of push the conversation into what he sees as a conversation about the future.

So I did think that he sort of redeemed himself in some respects. But, to Abby's point, he didn't say, I'm sorry I took that position, and I should have -- I should have taken a different position when Chris gave him the exact opening to do that, if he had wanted to.

BALDWIN: Yes. And, by the way, just everyone can go to to watch the rest of it. We'd be sitting here for a while watching the whole thing, but it was a phenomenal interview.


BALDWIN: So, please, go find that.

I want to ask you, just, Maeve, staying with you on money, Senator Harris, we just got her second-quarter fund-raising numbers. She brought in $12 million. The fund-raising period closed just days after the debate. And the bestselling item for June was actually a T- shirt featuring her -- this now viral photo of Harris as a kid and her debate line, right, "That little girl was me."

But she is far behind those other top-tier candidates. How does her campaign adjust?

RESTON: Right.

Well, I think that those numbers are a clear reflection of the fact that she lost the buzz that she had at the beginning. I mean, she had that huge launch. There was so much attention around her.

But she's had this problem on and off where she's not able to sustain the energy over time. And I think that's why we have seen her since her debate performance continue punching at Biden, as she's out there on the campaign trail.


BALDWIN: Because it worked for her.

RESTON: Yes. And she's trying to keep that energy up and show people that she's tough and that she thinks that she would be the best nominee up against Trump.

But I think that there clearly are some donors that still have a lot of questions about that. I mean, many of the same people who are supporting Harris are also supporting Buttigieg, who blew it away with that $24.8 million figure this quarter.

So it shows that her campaign has got a lot of work to do, and clearly they're getting started along that journey.


PHILLIP: But it may also, Brooke, just show that she's suffering a little bit from high expectations, that Buttigieg seemed to come out of nowhere, catching a lot of people by surprise by how much he captured people's attention and imagination.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.


PHILLIP: Harris has always been viewed as someone who had a lot of potential in this race, as someone who was probably going to be a front-runner.

And so she -- in some ways, those high expectations, she doesn't catch anyone by surprise. But after this debate performance, if people really felt like she did a good job, this would be the opportunity for her to capitalize on that.

And we will have to see whether or not she actually did when it comes to money, which she's going to need in order to really stay in this race for the long haul.


BALDWIN: Can't wait for, exactly, our debate coming up in just a few short weeks in Detroit. That will be one to watch.

Abby Phillip and Maeve Reston, ladies, thank you so very much.

There is so much more to discuss, from the president's comments at the White House earlier today. He says he may issue an executive order to add a citizenship question to the census. We will break down the potential legal hurdles there.

Plus, Border Patrol is investigating after agents allegedly tried to humiliate a migrant by making him hold a sign that he liked men. We're live at the border with the CNN exclusive.

And President Trump getting some flak for making a reference to airplanes during his speech last night talking about the Revolutionary War. Huh? He has an interesting explanation for that today.

We will be right back.



BALDWIN: Breaking news, 15-year-old American tennis sensation Cori "Coco" Gauff just won again, her third round match, marking a remarkable and historic run at Wimbledon.

Alex Thomas, I'm coming back to you in London. Massive congratulations to her. She is now, what, in the top 16?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she's through to the second week of a Grand Slam tennis tournament. It's absolutely amazing. I'm laughing just at the sheer unbelievability of it, Brooke.


THOMAS: I don't know what you were doing at the age of 15.

BALDWIN: Not at Wimbledon.

THOMAS: But I certainly wasn't dominating a tennis match on the famous court of the most famous tournament in the sport.

And she was very close to going out in this third round match, playing a sort of middling tour player from Slovenia who was almost twice her age. She had a match point against her in the second set, held her nerve. And you could suddenly see her opponent tighten up, almost choke.

Took it to a second set tie-break, went to a third set, and just kept battling away. Amazing. Coco Gauff into the second week, the first time a 15-year-old has got this far at Wimbledon since Jennifer Capriati, another American way, back in 1991. Look out, the tennis world. They have got a new superstar.

BALDWIN: And what was it? Last week, she was she was caught on camera talking about having to take a science test before going to Wimbledon, and her teacher had no idea that she was this tennis phenom.

So, Earth to everyone, she rocks.

Alex Thomas, thank you so much in London for the Coco update.

I want to move on to this. The president called his critics' bluff, delivering a speech during his Fourth of July event that was patriotic and not partisan, as his opponents had feared.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Americans love our freedom, and no one will ever take it away from us.



BALDWIN: But his address was not without flaws. This morning, the president blamed equipment problems and a flub, in which he made it sound like airplanes existed during the Revolutionary War.


TRUMP: The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware, and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown.

Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports. It did everything it had to do.

The Teleprompter went out. It kept going on. And then, at the end, it just went out. It went kaput. So I could have said -- and, actually, right in the middle of that sentence, it went out.

And that's not a good feeling when you're standing in front of millions of millions of people on television. And I don't know what the final count was, but that went all the way back to the Washington Monument.

And I guess the rain knocked out the Teleprompter. So -- but, no, it's not that. I -- I knew the speech very well. So I was able to do it without a Teleprompter, but the Teleprompter did go out.

And it was actually hard to look at anyway, because there was rain all over it.


BALDWIN: CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is live in New Jersey following the president today. And just -- just so we're all the same page, President Trump is blaming a broken Teleprompter, because without a Teleprompter, it's hard to remember that there were not airports in June of 1775?


SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Brooke, President Trump is blaming a Teleprompter malfunction for that misstatement.

He said his Teleprompter went out the very moment that he started in on that sentence where he described some of the heroic acts of the Revolutionary War soldiers and included among them, as we just heard, manning the air -- taking over the airports, even though airplanes didn't come around until a century after that.

But, nonetheless, President Trump saying it was not a great feeling to see the words disappear off of his Teleprompter while he was standing in front of what he described as millions of people. President Trump, ever conscious of his crowd sizes, found a way to mention them there.


It was a minor glitch in what was an otherwise well-received speech, the president blaming the rain for knocking out his Teleprompters. The White House hasn't yet confirmed that that was actually what happened and that that was the moment, if there was a Teleprompter malfunction, that the equipment stopped working.

We should also note, Brooke, that the president has gone after some of his political rivals in the past for their reliance on Teleprompters, including Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.


Let me also ask you about this quagmire. Just this past Tuesday, Vice President Pence abruptly abandoned this planned trip he had to New Hampshire after he was already on Air Force Two. Pence's aides said that there was no national security emergency, no personal health issue.

And so, today, President Trump was asked about this.


QUESTION: Why did the vice president cancel his trip the other day to New Hampshire?

TRUMP: You will know in about two weeks.

QUESTION: What is it?

TRUMP: There was a very, very interesting problem that they had in New Hampshire that...

QUESTION: What kind of problem? TRUMP: I can't tell you about it. It was -- but had nothing to do with White House. There was a problem up there. And I won't go into what the problem was, but you will see in about a week or two.


BALDWIN: So, it sounds like we're going to see in a couple of weeks.

But, in the meantime, do anything more about this, Sarah?

WESTWOOD: Brooke, I wish that I did know more about this, but this is still a very confusing event that unfolded on Tuesday.

Vice President Mike Pence never left Washington on his way to that opioid roundtable in Manchester, New Hampshire. And the White House hasn't yet said why. As you just heard, the president seemed to suggest that it was something to do with a problem in New Hampshire, although he didn't elaborate further.

The White House has said it wasn't health-related to the president or the vice president, wasn't related to national security. And they tried to downplay it, saying it's no cause for alarm, but the White House, the vice president's office, they haven't yet put forward a reason.

Trump insinuating that, somehow, in a week or so, we might figure out what the reason is. And that event in New Hampshire, the vice president's office has said, will also be rescheduled -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

Now to this breaking development, the Justice Department lawyers submitted a response on the effort to add the citizenship question in the 2020 census. The filing, which was due today, said lawyers will continue to explore options of adding the question, but made no mention of a potential executive order that the president had floated this morning.

The filing also urge that there should be pause in court scheduling while lawyers search for a -- quote -- "new rationale" for reinstating a citizenship question. They added that the census will be printed, as of now, without this question.

CNN legal analyst Paul Callan is a former prosecutor.

And, Paul, it sounds like the DOJ is just asking for more time? Do you think they will get it?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, they are asking for more time. And I think they probably will get a little bit more time.

What is -- I mean, what's so odd about this whole thing is that the Supreme Court sent it back basically to the lower court, saying, hey, the reason you gave us for doing this makes no sense. No reasonable person could accept it. So come up with a different reason. So since the court gave them this option of coming up with a different

reason, it wouldn't be unreasonable for them to get a little more time to get their arguments straight.

BALDWIN: We listened to the president as he was heading out today talking about the census, not only mentioning a possible executive order, but also mentioned adding an addendum to the census, right, so printing now, adding the question later.

Do you think that'd be in line with what the Supreme Court ruled?

CALLAN: I think that that will be challenged in court once again.

BALDWIN: You do.

CALLAN: Justice Roberts said that the rationale that had been extended by the administration for this question that had to do with the Voting Rights Act was so implausible, was so contrived that nobody could accept it.

So if he's talking about incorporating this into the census by just adding another page to the census, I don't think he's going to get around the Supreme Court's problem.

I think they have to articulate an entirely different reason that the court would look at and say, well, this is a responsible reason to ask the citizenship question.

BALDWIN: Got it.

There was a Justice Department lawyer who was obviously totally caught off guard by all of this because of the president's tweet the other morning, which reversed the Commerce Department's decision, while making this argument in court.

So, let me read from this lawyer: "The tweet this morning" -- this is the president's tweet -- "this morning was the first I had heard of the president's decision 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 is going on."

Again, DOJ lawyer responding to the president's tweet. What say you?

CALLAN: You know, it's really astounding that I never thought that I would be sitting here one day discussing court cases in the context of tweets.


And the president of the United States communicating with his lawyers via tweet, which is kind of what's going on. It's just -- it's utterly bizarre, Brooke, not the way we're used to seeing the Justice Department and the presidency operate.

BALDWIN: Paul Callan, thank you for jumping on TV with me today. Good to see you.

CALLAN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: President Trump also making claims today that migrant detention centers are clean and run beautifully -- his words -- despite multiple independent watchdogs warning of inhumane and unsanitary conditions. We will take you live to the border next.