Return to Transcripts main page


Today: Trump to Hold News Conference on Census & Citizenship; ICE Raids Set to Begin Sunday in 10 Major Cities; Millions of People Under Flood Risk as Storm Strengthens; Speaker Nancy Pelosi Speaks Amid Democratic Party Infighting. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:15] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.

We are waiting right now to hear from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at any moment. One of the biggest questions before her moment is, what does she do about her own Democratic caucus right now. More a question now than ever after a closed-door meeting with her party yesterday where she made a passioned pitch, we're told, for unity.

Here was part of her pitch. "If you've got a complaint, you come and talk to me about it, but do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK."

Who was the speaker talking about? Four very outspoken freshmen liberal Democrats, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley.

In responses to that meeting and what has been said by Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke to the "Washington Post," saying this in part, quote, "It's outright disrespectful."

So is that what unity sounds like this morning? Does this threaten the Democrats majority? We many soon found out. We will wait to hear from Nancy Pelosi.

But first, as we wait for that, we are watching two other moves from the White House.

The president teasing to a Rose Garden event this afternoon where he's expected to announce this afternoon executive action in the ongoing fight over the census.

And a government official confirming to CNN also that ICE is planning mass raids to pick up and deport thousands of undocumented migrants this weekend.

Two big moves, big moves that are both likely to be challenged in court.

But they're also big moves that aren't just policy. They are also, to be clear, blatant political plays. Moves that play directly to the president's base, even if he's not successful. So let's get to all of this. First the census and the citizenship

question about it all.

CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House. She's joining me now.

Abby, the Supreme Court blocked the administration's attempt here. It's still being fought out in lower courts. What then are you learning about this next move?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, this is the culmination of a week's worth of scrambling on the part of the president's team and the Department of Justice to figure out how they can potentially get the citizenship question onto the 2020 census, despite the fact that this has already gone to the Supreme Court and the court has said their reasons for wanting to include it to contrived.

So President Trump today, our understanding, is that he's going to issue some kind of executive action. It may not be an executive order. It may be something like a presidential memorandum, which is a little bit different and has a little bit perhaps less force.

But either way, this is all going to end up back in the courts. The citizenship question has already been blocked from the court, so if the president tries to do this, it's not even clear that he will be successful. It's not clear that the question will then be placed onto the 2020 census.

More likely is that it's going to kick off another round of litigation, pushing this issue back to the Supreme Court yet again.

And then the question becomes is there enough time for this to be sorted out so that the census can be print in time for 2020. This is not an optional thing for the administration. It is in the Constitution that they have to do this every 10 years.

So we will learn more this afternoon about what kind of force, if any, this presidential action will have, that President Trump will take this afternoon.

But it's coming this evening, I should note, right after he has the social media summit with his supporters, who he says have been discriminated against on social media. It's possible that those very same possible could be watching President Trump as he issues this presidential executive action.

This is the audience for this effort, Kate, his base. The people that he's trying to reach are just his supporters who he's trying to say, i'm still working on this, I'm not giving up on it -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Abby, thanks so much. Much more to come on that.

And to the other big political play coming from the president and the administration today, CNN has learned that the immigration raids that were planned, then put on hold by President Trump last month, are back on for this Sunday. According to a U.S. official, ICE is preparing an operation to pick up

some 2,000 undocumented families this weekend.

The "New York Times" first reported the news and also quotes a Homeland Security source as saying that ICE might even detain immigrants who happen to be on the scene, even though they are not targets of the raids, so-called collateral deportations.

Listen here to a top immigration official just yesterday.


KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CUSTOMS & IMMIGRATION SERVICES: They're absolutely going to happen. There's approximately a million people in this country with removal orders. And of course, that isn't what ICE will go after in this, but that's the pool of people who have been all the way through the due process chain.


BOLDUAN: Let's get more on this right now. CNN's Nick Valencia is in El Paso, Texas, for us.

Nick, what are you hearing there?

[11:05:08] NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this is very targeted interior enforcement, according to an ICE official, of 2,000 undocumented immigrants who recently arrived to the United States crossing the southern border and are under current removal orders.

But we also, as you mentioned, may see some collateral arrests, meaning undocumented immigrants that are not the target of this interior enforcement and happen to be on the scene of an ICE raid, may also be arrested by ICE.

This is very similar to what we first heard in June, when afterwards, closely after, we expected to this happen. President Trump, in an unprecedented announcement, called them off. Now they're back on. Expected to start on Sunday, the last several days.

And we're getting this new reporting from CNN's Maria Santana about the cities where this will happen. They include Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco.

The concern, of course, as we've heard from officials inside ICE, ICE agents concerned about safety, that these plans have been announced, that they're out there.

Of course, also a concern is, if these undocumented immigrants that they're targeting are still at the same addresses.

Immigrants' rights advocates have called rhetoric surrounding these interior enforcements "heartless" and they say it's a political move from the Trump administration. More red meat for his base -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Nick, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

An important programming note for all of you. Tomorrow, at 10:00, we're talking about this very issue. Tomorrow, at 10:00 Eastern, we have a CNN special report, it's called "THE HIDDEN WORKFORCE, UNDOCUMENTED IN AMERICA." It gives a behind-the-scenes look at how undocumented workers keep the nation running, and the fear they face living in the shadows. That's tomorrow night, at 10:00. Don't want to miss that.

Let's talk about this very issue and also the census issue that we were talking about at the top of the show.

Joining me right now is CNN political analyst and White House reporter for "Politico," Eliana Johnson, and Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, which is suing the Trump administration over several of its immigration policies, as well as the ACLU taking on the administration on the census question.

Thank you both for being here.

Lee, first on the raids that we're getting reporting on, what are you hearing from -- what are you hearing from migrants that you're working with about these raids?

LEE GELERNT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ACLU IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS PROJECT: I think they're scared. This administration has been terrorizing immigrant communities for years. And i think this is more of the same, where they're living under toxic stress.

Imagine being a child constantly hearing your mother may be taken away or you may be deported. Imagine if you're a U.S. citizen child living with a mixed-status family and, all of a sudden, your parents are going to be deported and you're going to have to live in a country you've never been to or be separated from your families.

I think that's why some people in the administration itself were saying we shouldn't be going after these families.

BOLDUAN: Lee, are you hearing from families? There's like a heads-up last month and then it was delayed.

GELERNT: Right. Right.

BOLDUAN: Now it's gotten out and there's a heads-up again it's coming Sunday. What are they doing?

GELERNT: We'll see what they do. I mean, there's a little bit of a tricky situation, because you don't want to panic people unnecessarily. But now it looks like the raids are actually going to come.

And so what we're trying to do is mobilize not just immigration advocates, but even big law firms are starting to mobilize and we want people to understand their rights. That they don't have to open the door if there's not a warrant and all those types of things. But ultimately, this is going to be horrible. I mean, notice who the

administration is going after, families from Central America. And so I think there's going to have to be a mobilization. This is about as bad as it can get with raids, going after families specifically.

BOLDUAN: Hold on for just a second.

Eliana, I do want to get your take. When you look at this move, along with the expected executive action on the census coming from the White House, is there another way to view it other than a blatant political play to his base? I mean, the fight -- the fight is the whole ball game. If that's the case, should folks be taking these moves seriously?

ELIANA JOHNSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you can look at it in two ways. The president has often been more bark than bite when it comes to actions on immigration and towards Mexico. He talked about closing the border, he talked about imposing tariffs on Mexico, and he's announced these raids once. None of those things have happened. So let's see how aggressive these raids are if they do happen.

It's atypical to announce raids, because it makes them less effective. People have time to prepare for them.

But as you mentioned, Kate, simply the rhetoric is something that tends to energize the president's base.

And the citizen question, if it goes forward, would be something with a real impact. And that does look like something the president is ready to take action on.

So, yes, I think you can say that the president is looking ahead to his reelection. And whether these things are real or merely rhetoric doesn't matter that much. He does view it as a useful political issue.

[11:10:11] BOLDUAN: Lee, on the census, the ACLU is leading the legal fight against the Trump administration on this as well. If he announces an executive action -- it's still unclear what is going to be said when he comes to the Rose Garden.

GELERNT: Right. Right.

BOLDUAN: But if executive action is announced, what is the ACLU's response?

GELERNT: We'll be back in court. Obviously, we want to see what he does. But we'll be back in court. The Supreme Court has already said the reasons they've given previously were contrived. I think it's going to be more contrived, and certainly back in court.

And I think the census is part of the whole anti-immigrant agenda. Fortunately, the Supreme Court put a stop to it initially. We'll see what the president does this time. But I think it will be more contrived than initially. BOLDUAN: What do you make on the threatened happening raids over the

-- coming this weekend with the "New York Times" reporting that there's going to be these collateral deportations with these raids, that authorities may detain immigrants who are just on the scene --


BOLDUAN: -- that aren't actually the targets of the raids? I mean, what does that really mean?

GELERNT: Right. I think it means that they're just going to sweep in any Central American they can find who are living with these families.

And one of the things people should know is, if they're claiming a lot of these people didn't show up for their hearings, the notice system they've devised is completely defunct. It's just --

# Tell me.

GELERNT: Because people don't get notice in time or it gets sent to the wrong address or the notice is sent right before the hearing so they can't get there.

You know, there's going to be --


BOLDUAN: So there's more to this?

GELERNT: There's absolutely more to this.

And so it's horrible that they're going after families. But also we want to make sure that people have the right to go in and say, well, I missed my hearing, if that's why they're being deported, because of the notice problems. There are also people who have asylum claims who need to be able to raise those. So I think you're going to see a huge mobilization around these raids.

But ultimately, if the administration says we're really focused on criminals and national security threats --


BOLDUAN: Right. And these people have removal orders on their heads and they're not --


GELERNT: But note that they're going after families, not people with serious criminal histories or national security threats. Central American families.

And it's part and parcel of the issues you've been covering at the border, going after Central American families, who are asylum seekers, separating Central American families. It's all directed essentially toward that. BOLDUAN: You take it seriously that it would be happening this Sunday?

GELERNT: We have to take it seriously until it doesn't happen.

BOLDUAN: Eliana, does this get Democrats -- this threat, this move, this raid, if they happen, does it get Democrats back to the table to talk immigration? Because that's what the president said that he wanted the first time that he threatened ICE raids in American cities, and then they delayed it.

JOHNSON: I think it's likely to have the opposite effect. I think it's very difficult at this point to get Democrats negotiating with the president on this issue, because, often, his extreme tactics, I think, alienate Democrats and make them say this is not somebody we can negotiate with.

Particularly the left frank of the Democratic Party, which has really been a thorn in the side of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


JOHNSON: I think they're likely to point to actions like this and say, you cannot sit down at the table with a president who is taking these sorts of actions.

BOLDUAN: It's an interesting point.

And it's all swept up in what we're waiting to hear this hour, is from Nancy Pelosi, because you know she will be asked at this press conference about what is happening in the caucus and is there unity and what that actually means, specifically with the left flank.

Eliana, thank you so much.

Lee, thank you very much for being here.

Let's see what happens.

Coming up, millions of Americans are under risk right now of massive flooding as a monster storm is churning in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane season is already starting. It could hit the gulf coast as a hurricane.

[11:14:01] Stay with us, everybody, and we'll have an update for you.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back, everybody.

Four million people under flash flood threat right now as the first tropical system of the year starts to bear down on the gulf coast. Barry was officially named a tropical storm a few minutes ago. It could make land fall as a hurricane this weekend in Louisiana.

But even ahead of that, it's already showing its strength with damaging wind and rain in parts of the region. At least two parishes in Louisiana are already under mandatory evacuation orders. And dozens of flood gates have been closed in the New Orleans area.

To give you an idea of how big and nasty the system is looking to be right now, check this out. What it did to a play set. And this is hundreds of miles inland near Ft. Worth, Texas.

CNN's Chad Myers is watching the forecast in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Natasha Chen is on the ground in New Orleans.

Natasha, first to you.

What are you seeing and hearing there right now?

NATACHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're just hearing from city officials in New Orleans just a few minutes ago talking about the pumps in the city. They said all but two of them are working. So they have 120 total, so 118 of them are fully functional right now. They said the two that are down are smaller and are in places are other pumps are functioning. So they're fueled up, ready to go for this

[11:20:07] We also know that the flood gates are being closed, dozens of them, in preparation for the weather to come in. The worst of it, of course, being Saturday. Flood gates, including this one at the port of New Orleans, where we're standing. This one will be closed by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time today. They've been closing pedestrian gates as well by the Spanish Plaza and the River Walk and the Hilton Hotel area, places that tourists like to come here.

The city hall in New Orleans was closed yesterday and will remain closed for the next couple of days.

As you mentioned, there are mandatory evacuations in certain cities and neighborhoods of two parishes in the more low-lying areas. There are another two parishes that are preparing people for voluntary evacuations.

So everyone is really tracking the system and keeping a watchful eye. There's a storm surge watch, as well as a flash flood watch.

It's hard to tell from the sunny weather we're having right at this moment, but yesterday there was a torrential downpour. And we're expecting more of that to come in later today and possibly tomorrow as well -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Natasha, we're going to stick close to you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Let's go over to Chad now.

Chad, you've been watching it. What can we expect from the storm? What is it looking like right now?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's looking bad. I mean, like not organized bad. Good for us and bad for it. I'll show you that in a second.

Barry looks very disorganized. I have a friend named Barry in Houston and we don't appreciate that.

Anyway, here is the tropical storm warning that was just posted. That's the blue area. Watch the still in yellow and pink. Otherwise, though, this is the storm. There's the low. Where are the storms? Not near the center.


BOLDUAN: Chad, can I cut you off?

We need to jump over the Capitol Hill. Nancy Pelosi is speaking right now.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I've said what I'm going to say in the caucus. That's where this is appropriate. And I said what I'm going to say in the caucus. They took offense because I addressed, at the request of my members, an offensive tweet that came out of one of the member's offices that referenced our blue dolls and our new Dems, essentially as segregationists. Our members took offense at that. I addressed that.

How they're interpreting and carrying it to another place is up to them. But I'm not going to be discussing it any further.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If I could just follow up briefly, you talk a lot about civility in the caucus. Is this the message that you preached yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But many of those freshmen members, who have taken offense to your comment, have found it -- (INAUDIBLE) --

PELOSI: I've said what I'm going to say. With all due respect, maybe you didn't hear what I said. I said what I'm going to say on the subject.

What I said in the caucus yesterday had an overwhelming response from my members, because they know what the facts are and what we're responding to.

We respect the value of every member of our caucus. The diversity of it is a wonderful thing. Diversity is our strength. Unity is our power. And we have a big fight and we're in the arena. And that's all I'm going to say on the subject.

If you want to waste your question, you can waste your question.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On the ICE raids that you mentioned in your opening statement, the president gave Congress two weeks to come to some sort of deal on immigration, especially on the asylum laws in our country. Do you see any momentum to change the asylum laws or to sit down and work towards the immigration -- (INAUDIBLE)

PELOSI: Well, the asylum laws are what they are. In other words, it's important for people to understand what they are.

We're part of a global society. And when someone comes to a country seeking asylum, they are not breaking the law coming into the country, and they have to prove their case, that they have a well-founded fear of persecution.

So it's not a question of saying we're going to change the global human rights dynamic that exists.

There are some initiatives -- Zoe Lofgren, who is masterful in all of this -- that suggests that some review of asylum seekers status could be done in-country instead of traveling here. And that's one thing that I think would be appealing to the administration. That doesn't necessarily mean you change the law. You just have to allocate resources to do it.

In terms of comprehensive immigration, I think there's real need for it. My understanding is that people don't even like that term anymore. So we're talking about DREAM promise and beyond, where we go with it. And I think that is something that we have to do. It's not something you can do in two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Will you appeal to the president to put off the raids?

[11:25:09] PELOSI: I'm going to appeal to the people of faith, the faith-based organizations to appeal to the president. I think that they put him in office and they have a better voice for this.

I did appeal to some of them to help with the conditions for the children when we were having the back and forth before the break, but they were given the short shift by Mitch McConnell. It was just like he wasn't interested in their appeals as to what would be needed.

But, yes, it's a longer thing. The possibilities are there. He sent -- you know this. I think it's in the public domain, so I'll be confirming it. He sent -- the chairman, I guess he is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.


PELOSI: Graham. To my office to talk about some things that we could do and there may be some possibilities of some things that we can do. It may not be the total comprehensive, but it would address some of the points.

We have to do that. I mean, we have principles that we've always put forth. We want to secure our borders. We want to be respectful of immigration policy that is fair to the American people and to newcomers coming to our country. We want to again have a path to citizenship.

And I always like quoting Ronald Reagan who said, "We cannot close the door."

So recognizing that we're not deporting 11 million people because of status of their documents or lack thereof. We did have that initial conversation. And there may be some possibilities.

But every time you think you've made progress, then it doesn't necessarily happen. But we are having conversations about it, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can the president do a census question by executive order?

PELOSI: Well, I don't know. He has an injunction. There's an injunction that he just has to overcome. It's an injunction against putting citizenship on the ballot.

We have been printing the census forms. June 30th was the deadline. So we're printing the forms. We fully expect the census to go forward.

The president's effort to put the citizenship question on the census will continue to be challenged in court. The Supreme Court destroyed the administration's argument that the question was needed to support the Voting Rights Act. Really? Including their rationale it was based on a contrived pretext.

Next week, the full House will vote on a resolution of criminal contempt on Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross so we can enforce the subpoenas and get the facts.

So he'll try all kinds of things. But we'll have to get around the injunction. In the meantime, we're printing the forms.

And by the way, one of our issues in lifting the caps is more money for the census.

Thank you all.


BOLDUAN: All right, you were listening to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking on quite a few topics.

Let me bring in CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, on this.

Dana, let's start with what Nancy Pelosi very clearly did not want to talk about. We talked about at the top of the show, but this is -- what is happening between leaders, moderates and the left flank of the Democratic Party after a closed-door meeting of the caucus last night, where Nancy Pelosi made this impassioned pitch for unity in the caucus.

And that is not what we are seeing play out publicly when liberal members are coming out saying that it's outright disrespectful how Nancy Pelosi has been speaking about them. And she said very clearly basically I'm not going to talk about it. I said what I said in the caucus and that's it.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And to be specific, the latest is that AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said to the "Washington Post" and then doubled down with our colleague, Manu Raju, this morning, saying that the speaker is going after members of color and that that is a pattern. She said that first to the "Washington Post" again. And this morning, when she doubled down with Manu. Manu said, are you suggesting that's racism. She said, oh, no, no, absolutely not.

Look, it's getting ugly. And the fact is, the speaker, as you heard, she said she didn't want to talk about it, but then she did explain herself a little bit saying that her argument was that the progressives need to be careful in how they criticize the moderates, just as it should be considered vice-versa.

[11:30:02] It's hard to be any leader of a very diverse ideologically diverse caucus.