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New High-Stakes Battle Over Obamacare Kicks Off Today; CNN Exclusive Interview: Joe Biden & Dr. Jill Biden Open Up on Presidential Race; House Judiciary Committee Moves to Subpoena Trump Officials on Immigration & Potential Obstruction of Justice. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 9, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:32:41] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The battle over Obamacare is heading back to court. In just a few hours, 18 Republicans state attorneys general, led by Texas, will be arguing before a federal appeals court why they believe the law should be thrown out.

What we won't hear at the hearing is a defense mounted by the U.S. government. That is because the Trump administration has taken the unusual -- yet understandable, considering their position on this -- they've taken the unusual position of deciding to not defend a federal law.

This is a huge moment in the now decade-long argument about Obamacare. It's fate is likely to end up in front of the Supreme Court, decided by the Supreme Court potentially at the height of the presidential campaign.

Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst, is in New Orleans where this hearing is about to get underway.

Joan, what exactly is going to happen? Lay it out for us.

JOAN BISPUKIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure, Kate. Yes, a lawyer for the Texas Republicans and for the Department of Justice are going to argue that, in 2017, when Congress zeroed out a tax penalty for people who don't obtain insurance, it effectively invalidated the individual insurance mandate and sunk the entire sweeping Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed in 2010.

Then we'll hear from lawyers on the other side, who you mentioned, the Democratic states and the U.S. House, who say that 2017 action did not affect the constitutionality of the individual mandate, and it certainly did not sink the law. They're arguing that what the Trump administration is trying to do judicially is what it failed to accomplish in Congress, repeal the act.

BOLDUAN: Joan, no matter what, this is likely to end up before the Supreme Court. Can you game out what happens when this -- after this hearing today, no matter what, when it gets before the court? BISKUPIC: That's right, Kate. First of all, just so our viewers

know, we're not going to get a ruling for several months. The hearings today and then we'll get a ruling probably before the end of the year. And then it will go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

[11:35:02] And what we all remember is that, in 2012 and 2015, just when everyone was so anxious about what was going to happen to Obamacare then, the Supreme Court narrowly ruled that it should be upheld.

So if you look at the kind of challenge that's been mounted here, I think smart money is on the fact that the Supreme Court will yet again uphold the Affordable Care Act.

BOLDUAN: A long road to get there but this is a very important, it's a huge moment in this hearing that you're going to be at today.

Joan, thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

That hearing gets underway a little later this afternoon.

Still to come for us, a CNN exclusive interview with former Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. They open up about a wide range of issues, including attacks from his Democratic rivals. That's next.


[11:40:27] BOLDUAN: Just as one Democratic presidential candidate drops out of the race, another candidate is now just jumping in. This morning, billionaire, Tom Steyer, has officially added his name to the crowded field of Democrats running for president.

He's given millions of dollars to liberal causes over the years, even spending $100 million during the 2018 midterms. Most recently, he's known for bank rolling a public campaign to try to get President Trump impeached.

With his announcement, there are now once again 24 candidates looking to take on Trump in 2020. And still leading the pack is former Vice President Joe Biden.

In an exclusive interview, Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden sit down with CNN's Chris Cuomo. Take a look.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I appreciate you guys taking this opportunity.



CUOMO: Thank you. This time, how is this different for you?

DR. JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: Well, you know, I think we knew this was going to be a little bit tougher. It feels a little bit different. There's so many candidates in the race. But so far, it's going pretty well. So we've been in, what, two months? And things feel good.

CUOMO: Biggest surprise for you so far?

JILL BIDEN: The biggest surprise I think was the debate. I think -- you know, I think probably Kamala was a little bit of a surprise. I think that's the biggest surprise so far.

CUOMO: Different position for you, fighting from the front, right? You've been an underdog pretty much your whole career. You've achieved amazing things. But what surprises you about fighting from the front?

BIDEN: Well, I knew that whoever is in the front would have a target on their back. And I knew that was occurring.

But you know what surprised me is the responses of people out in the street, the people that no matter where I am, there's an enthusiasm. And all the talk about hits and I keep having endorsement after endorsement. The governor of Connecticut endorsed me, the mayor, the leading African-American person here in Waterloo -- not here but in Waterloo, endorsed me and surprised me. A number of African-American leaders have endorsed me. The mayor of Atlanta, endorsement.

So what I try to do, Chris, is focus -- I know this is a marathon and I try to focus on my feeling here, what's happening in the street, what's happening when I go out. And it's been gratifying.

You know, I've been surprised not about the attacks, but I've been surprised at the intensity sometimes of the attacks.


CUOMO: Do you ever second-guess yourself?

BIDEN: No, it doesn't. It doesn't make me second-guess, but it makes me decide that, look, this race is about the future, man. And we can go back and pick everybody's record apart, if you want, go back 20, 30, 40 years. You take it out of context, because no one knows the context of the moment. It's really easy to distort. It just surprised me a little bit some of the stuff that's come out in terms of the attack lines.

But I'm not going to go there. And I'm just going try to -- look, Barack said it best in another context, he said you don't want to form a circular firing squad. The only person that wins in that is the president of the United States, the guy that's there now.

CUOMO: And, 2016, such a hard decision for you? Frankly, at the time, I didn't know how it could have come out any other way. Did you think that Joe Biden had had an amazing run, but that was it, in 2016? Did you think that was it?

JILL BIDEN: I did. And I think Joe thought that as well. But once this president was elected, people started coming up to us and saying, you know, Joe has to run. He has to run. And then Charlottesville occurred and then it sort of got louder. And Jill, you have to tell Joe he has to run.

CUOMO: What did that do to you? How did you process that emotionally?

JILL BIDEN: Well, I think -- I have always said that I thought Joe would be the best president and I've always supported him. And I know where his heart is, I know his values. And I think he's in such direct contrast to what we have now with President Trump.

And so as I started to think about it and our family did, I said you know what, it's the right decision.

CUOMO: Why is it worth it, as somebody who grew up in politics? You know what's going to be done to him.


CUOMO: On his best day, at his best, running at 105 percent, you know what it's going to be like. And that's just the primary, let alone a general election against one of the most fearsome politicians we've seen. Why is it worth it?

[11:45:12] JILL BIDEN: It's worth it because it's going to change the lives of so many Americans. Look what Joe can do on education, on climate change and policy. Everything that he's worked so hard for. And that makes it all worth it.

CUOMO: You said at a rally, you want to talk big ideas, I'm going to cure cancer. Did you mean it that way?

BIDEN: I did. What I meant was -- and what I've said all along, we can fundamentally change the face of cancer and eventually I think we'll be able to cure almost every cancer. We're curing cancers now, Chris.

But the thing is that we are devoted to that notion and there's so much -- think of what we can do in this country if we take the resources that are being wasted now and spend it on significant research on cancer, on Alzheimer's, on diabetes, on so many things.

I've been sitting down with the so-called P Cast, the scientists and advisors. We're on the cusp of so many break throughs. And what are we doing? We're doing nothing. Not doing nothing. The government can actually rally enormous support is -- we're tweeting from Normandy about some actress or something. I don't know.

It just seems to me -- Chris, I think you know me. I've never been more optimistic in my life about the possibilities of this country.

CUOMO: Why? We're so divided.

BIDEN: Well --


CUOMO: We can't be together on anything.

BIDEN: Well --


CUOMO: We can't even get Congress together to help kids on the border.

BIDEN: Well, the fact of the matter is we're in a better position. Our politics are broken but the public is not broken. The point of the matter is there's so many opportunities. We not only have the greatest military. We've led by the example of our power all these years.

We're in a position where we have the capacity to do so much of the greatest research university in the world. It's all right there.

What bugs me, what bothers me, is there's one big roadblock and I'm not being mellow dramatic. It's Donald Trump. Donald Trump. And what he's done is everything, everybody has done when they try to gain power and break down the barriers. He is trying to divide us in every way, on race, on religion, on ethnicity across the board. That's the only way he can stay in power.

It has to stop, Chris. Because, look, if we can't bring it together, we're in real trouble.

JILL BIDEN: Americans want us to be united. We were just at a rally here in Iowa and everyone at the rally was saying, we have to work together, we have to solve these problems. They're too big, we have to solve them together.

CUOMO: One fight at a time, that's the general election. You have to find a way to bring your party together. It seems the fundamental tension now is, is Joe Biden the right fit for this party at this time. They're coming at you not on policy, but the way you discuss policy, the phrases you use, that you are not in step with their lingo, let alone where they want to go.

BIDEN: Let me tell you, I think I'm more in step with the lingo than any of them. I was asked to go into 24 states and campaign for 69 candidates. The rest of them weren't asked to go into those places.

You remember I got criticized, and I said we're going to win back the House of Representatives. We beat the Republicans head on. We took them on, on the issues of health care. We went to their neighborhood and made the case against them.

Half of it was, as my dad would say, showing up and making the case. The idea that somehow we have decided that our system doesn't work anymore, which I'm hearing some of them say, that we're going to pack the courts and we're going to fundamentally change, I'm going to do what Trump did. If we take control, I'm going to go in there by executive order.

What are we talking about? This is the Fourth of July, man. We're celebrating what a group of revolutionary folks did. They put down their life and liberty and sacred honor. Why? For a value set. And if we give that up, Chris, we're in real trouble.


BOLDUAN: That conversation will continue.

[11:49:14] Coming up, a key House committee takes a big new step to try to force the White House's hand. What are they looking for and are they likely to get it? That's next.


BOLDUAN: Breaking this morning, new moves by a key committee to break through the stonewalling coming from the White House. In short, subpoenas are coming.

Let's get over to the capitol. CNN's Manu Raju is there.

Manu, what is going on here?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The House Judiciary Committee moving to authorize subpoenas on two fronts. One involving immigration, the president's zero-tolerance policy at the border that led to the separation of families at the border. Subpoenas for former and current administration officials, documents and testimony related to those matters, including discussion about any presidential pardons related to immigration and immigration policies.

Also, as part of its obstruction of justice probe, 12 individuals, including former and current Trump administration officials, could soon be served with a subpoena after the committee votes on Thursday to authorize subpoenas for those individuals. That includes the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, his former chief of staff, John Kelly, and people like Michael Flynn, his former national security advisor.

But also individuals who also the Democrats want to ask questions about, like that hush-money scandal to silence those alleged Trump affairs in the run-up to the 2016 election. On this list is David Pecker, the head of that parent company for "National Enquirer." Democrats are trying to get documents and testimony to learn more about that.

[11:55:06] But, Kate, with all of these matters, the question is ultimately, how much cooperation they will get, despite getting hit with these subpoenas, and will this get wrapped up in a larger court fight pitting House Democrats and the White House. That seems to be the likely scenario -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Manu, great stuff. Thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, the top two Democrats in Congress calling on Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to resign. Not for his work in Trump's cabinet but rather his role in handing a sweetheart plea deal to sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, 10 years ago. That's next.