Return to Transcripts main page


House Judiciary Committee To Vote On Authorizing Subpoenas Against Current And Former White House Officials; Trump Is Expected To Announce Executive Action On Census; Gulf Coast Bracing For Storm That Could Hit As Hurricane; Immigration Raids To Arrest Thousands Set To Begin On Sunday; U.S. Officials Say Iranian Boats Attempted To Seize British Tanker. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 10:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Now, he's testifying before the Senate Banking Committee. Of course, we're monitoring it.

All right, good morning, everyone. It is the top of the hour, 10:00 A.M. Eastern, 7:00 A.M. Pacific. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Jim has the day off.

And we begin with breaking news on Capitol Hill. At any moment, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a vote that is set to get them one step closer to issuing subpoenas against several current and former Trump administration officials, including the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The committee right now is seeking more information on the President's zero tolerance policy at the border and their investigation into obstruction of justice.

Phil Mattingly standing by live on the Hill. I think it's important to lay out how important this one is versus all of the other ones, because they're kind of frankly blending together. How big is this?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We've seen a lot of subpoenas. We've seen a lot of investigations, frankly, by the House Democratic majority. Here's why this one matters. Again, this is an authorization for subpoenas. This doesn't necessarily mean they're going to go out.

But it's the targets of these subpoenas that comes in two buckets. The first is the long running democratic investigation into potential obstruction by the President.

Now, you'll remember early on in the new Congress, the House Judiciary Committee led by Jerry Nadler, the Chairman, targeted 81 individuals asking them for information. They've sent subpoenas to five of those individuals.

Now, they are targeting another 12. This 12 includes, as you noted, the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the President. It also includes a number of former top White House officials like John Kelly, the former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. But it also includes individuals that did not work in the White House. That includes Corey Lewandowski, the former campaign manager for then candidate Trump. That includes David Pecker, the Chairman and CEO of America Media Inc that oversees the National Enquirer.

Why that's important is we've seen throughout the White House has stonewalled on executive privilege grounds any current or former White House officials for testifying or providing information that related to their time in the White House.

What this would do, if Chairman Nadler decides to actually issue the subpoenas, is it would go after people that don't have that as cover. So perhaps that could get them more information. What it all means though is that the committee has continued expanding its very lengthy investigation into what's going on.

Now, republicans have pushed back saying that this is no different than what the Mueller report already laid out, it's re-treading old ground. But you are going to see them step forward today on the obstruction piece.

The other piece, which is also very important, is the kind of expanded dive into the administration's immigration policies. They will be issuing subpoenas on documents and for testimony from administration officials related to the border separation policy, family separation policy, that obviously raised a lot of concerns from both parties on Capitol Hill last year, trying to seek more information on that. This is part of a multi-committee effort to dig into that.

Obviously, immigration, always a hot button and it's still very topical at this moment. So we'll have to see what comes out of the committee on that. That will be coming shortly.

Again, the caveat, this doesn't mean the subpoenas are going to go out but it does give the chairman the authority to issue them. And at least what we've seen up to this point when he has that authority, he tends to use it, Poppy.

HARLOW: He does. The question is how many actually comply when they get it, right? Phil, thanks for the reporting.

In just a few hours, President Trump will hold a press conference. This is going to happen in the Rose Garden. Why? He is expected to announce that he will use executive action to add back that controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census. This comes two weeks after the Supreme Court blocked that question.

Joining me now is our Justice Correspondent, Jessica Schneider. Molly ball is also here, our National Political Correspondent for Time.

And, Jessica, just lay out for us here how significant it will be if the President does this.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Very significant. This will mount challenges on a new legal front, Poppy. The President saying he'll announce his plan in the Rose Garden this afternoon. We expect it will be some form of executive action to include that citizenship question on the 2020 census.

Of course, the Attorney General said Monday this would happen this week, but there are really significant road blocks, both logistically and legally to any executive action. The census, of course, has already gone to print without the question. So the question is would the Census Bureau have to reprint the forms? That would incur substantial cost. Or maybe just print out a supplemental page that would be included.

And then you've got these legal challenges that have already been mounted across the country. We have challenges in New York and Maryland and California on that underlying question and including it. And the judges in those cases have so far ruled against the administration.

And not to mention, the Supreme Court's ruling last month, it left in place a lower court injunction banning this citizenship question from being included. So if the President announces executive action, it would really open up a whole new set of legal challenges and then they'd have to deal with what the Supreme Court left in place, this lower court injunction.

Poppy, finally, you know, one thing a source told our Pamela Brown yesterday is as part of these legal arguments here, the administration is considering actually justifying the need for a citizenship question based off of democrats 'plans to provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants. They'd essentially argue, well, we need an accurate count of citizens, non-citizens, based on these democrats' proposals.


I mean, could this legal argument work? Who knows? But the point is the Supreme Court has left in place this lower court injunction so they would have to fight through the lower courts.

And, of course, time is of the essence here. This already went to print. And they've said maybe they could push it off to the fall, but, again, it would incur substantial expense. Who knows how exactly it would move forward.

HARLOW: Well, Molly, to Jess's point there on this new rationale that Pamela Brown is reporting from the administration, that, well, you know, these dems all raised their hand when they were asked in the debate if they should -- you know, if they would allow healthcare for undocumented migrants.

Republican Senator -- the third ranking republican in the Senate, John Barrasso, just made that argument to me. So, yes, I think we're going to hear a lot more about that.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. I mean, -- but the question is does it pass any kind of muster with the court. This is a pretty novel and I think a lot of experts would say farfetched argument to make in front of a court. I'm not a lawyer, but, you know, this is -- the court didn't leave the administration with a lot of options. They did leave a door ajar, I would say.

But it will be very interesting to see what is in this executive action that is proposed this afternoon, because so far we've seen the administration repeatedly sort of punt and try to delay the deadline as they scramble to find something.

You know, the reason that when the Supreme Court decision originally came down, the DOJ moved to abandon this push, is because they didn't see a very good or easy or plausible, or even doable avenue to continue to make an argument or find a way to do it.

And so what may eventually really be the crux of the issue here is the whole separation of powers, right? Do you have an executive branch that respects the rule of law, respects the rule of courts and is willing to take a loss when the court says you just can't do this?

HARLOW: And do you, Molly Ball, have republican lawmakers who called out the Obama administration time and time again for taking executive action, who are going to do anything of the sort to this administration if they do that on this front?

BALL: Well, I think we've seen abundantly that republicans are pretty loathe to criticize this administration and that's pretty normal partisanship. But, yes, you did -- I am old enough to remember, because I am older than five, the constant description of President Obama as some kind of emperor or king who had these arrogant delusions of power and wasn't behaving in line with the constitution.

And the actions that the Obama administration took at this point pale in comparison with the things that the Trump administration has tried to do to get around Congress and the courts.

HARLOW: Good points. We're just barely over five, all three of us on this panel. Thank you very much, Molly Ball, Jessica Schneider, I appreciate it.

Turning to some really severe weather, a storm that could turn into a category one hurricane within days could impact millions from Louisiana to Florida this weekend. It's not quite a tropical storm yet, but officials are warning people to get ready. Louisiana's Governor has declared a state of emergency.

Let's go to our colleague, Natasha Chen. She is in New Orleans with more. I know it's deceiving behind you. It's a beautiful sort of muggy, sunny New Orleans day, but that's something that could change very soon. What are people preparing for?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Poppy. It's nice right now, but we're expecting that rain to come back in later today. We're actually hearing about a couple of parishes today that are doing mandatory evacuations for certain neighborhoods in low-lying areas and another two parishes are going voluntary evacuations. So people are very cognizant of what's about to come, the worst potentially being on Saturday. And we are hearing about many flood gates closing. It takes some time to close all of them. But dozens of them are being closed in preparation for a rising Mississippi River, including the flood gate here at the port of New Orleans where I'm standing. This is going to be closed by around 5:00 P.M. Eastern Time.

We're also seeing pedestrian gates closing. That's near the Spanish plaza, the river walk around the Hilton Hotel area, right where a lot of tourists tend to gather.

So people are heeding the warnings. We're seeing sandbags around some of the hotels and buildings around here, definitely keeping a watch for the stormy weather ahead, watching for storm surge, watching for flash flooding. Poppy?

HARLOW: Okay. Natasha, thank you very much.

And let's get a read on what is expected ahead. Our Meteorologist, Chad Myers, is in the Severe Weather Center. He has more.

What are your models showing you in terms of what's coming for the next few days?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, I'm just out to 27 hours on the new North American model right now. So it's hard to get a feel because it's not on shore in 27 hours. But it is certainly making it stronger and this would be the new model run that just started at 8:00 this morning, not quite done yet.


But what we have today is a wind from the north that's pushing all the convection, all the storminess on the southern half of the low itself. There is the low. But the low isn't even a tropical low yet. It's not even a tropical depression. We don't even have the tropical storm. It will be buried when it gets here. But it is forecast to get much stronger.

And it is forecast to be inside this cone somewhere between Lake Charles and New Orleans. And if it's on the right side of the cone, as some models suggest, it will be over New Orleans. But on the left side we go farther to the west and we push more rain into, let's say, Lafayette.

What we do know is that if it continues to develop as forecast, it will run over 50 percent of the U.S. assets for off-shore oil platforms and natural gas platforms as well. So 50 percent may be offline, although this isn't a category two or three storm pushing these things around. This is just get the non-essential personnel off, get some of the other guys off there, women off as well, and get them back on shore Until this goes by.

So this is what the radar should look like until 5:00 tonight. Notice yesterday, it is covered in rain over New Orleans. But for today, just widely scattered stuff because of that sheer pushing all the rain on the southern half of the storm. But later on tonight and into tomorrow, that's when the circulation will get around the center.

As soon as all of that convection gets around one point, that's when the storm could explode, could get a whole lot bigger. If it doesn't even do what we're expecting right now, we're going to get ten inches of rain. In some spots here, if it does what we do expect, could get 20 inches of rain. So you put the rain one side of the other of New Orleans or over Baton Rouge or over Slidell, it doesn't matter. You're going to get flooding.

And then something else, the wind is going to try to push the water back up the Mississippi, creating a spike to 20 feet. Well, guess what? Those levies are exact 20 feet.

Now, typically, we don't have this problem because there's not that much water in the river. But because of the Midwest floods that we've had over the past three months, there is a lot of water in the river, and so therefore only four more feet of surge would actually put it over the top.

HARLOW: Goodness. That's just sort of a confluence of bad events all coming together. Chad, thank you for keeping an eye on it for us.

MYERS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: Still to come, in just a matter of days, we have learned that ICE will begin conducting these mass raids across the country targeting thousands of undocumented migrants and their families. Is the Trump administration setting itself up for another major legal battle?

Plus, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta defends defends his handling of sex crimes against multimillionaire, Jeffrey Epstein, why he overrode what he calls the state prosecutor's roll of the dice strategy.

And Iran ups its aggression with a U.S. ally, tries to seize a British oil tanker. Iran denies this. The Pentagon says, no, no, no, we have video evidence.



HARLOW: All right. This morning, CNN has learned that beginning this Sunday, ICE will start nationwide raids targeting thousands of members of undocumented families. Now, this is the series of raids that was planned for late June, but you'll remember the President delayed it by two weeks, saying he was hoping that there would be some sort of comprehensive bipartisan immigration agreement. That didn't happen, so now, apparently, they're going to start again this weekend.

Let's talk about this, the legal implications, what this might look like with Raul Reyes, an Attorney and Immigration Analyst. Good morning. Thank you for being here.


HARLOW: Okay. So if this happens -- and I should just note it's so odd to have this publicly talked about.

REYES: Exactly.

HARLOW: Never do administrations publicly talk about this for obvious reasons, so people can prepare. But if this happens Sunday, what should people expect?

REYES: Well, the thing -- at this point, you know, the legal implications, I don't really see that being an immediate problem because the government does have the ability to conduct immigration enforcement actions, to act on people who have final orders of deportation.

But as you said, this has been in the works for two weeks. So just the fact that people know about it is going to, number one, undercut its effectiveness. If you're undocumented and you know you have an order of deportation, you're probably not going to be home Sunday morning.

But think about this. What the Trump administration does is called collateral arrests, where they go into a home and if anyone is there who is undocumented or the family, they take all the people in the home. Not just --

HARLOW: And is that totally legal?

REYES: Yes, that is legal. That's at the discretion of DHS.


REYES: But just think about it? Are they going to be putting children in ICE vans? What if there're toddlers? Are they going to be putting them in with adults?

And second of all, because these raids are so publicly known, one thing I'm worried about is in immigrant communities, if there's going to be some type of public discord or pushback, if people see an ICE van in the neighbor's driveway, will they go and try to block it or to interfere in some way, which is in itself is a crime?

And then, finally, when ICE rounds up people, where do they go? They go to detention. They go to family detention. And one thing we know from this border crisis, our detention centers are full. And especially family detentions are maxed out. So where will the government put these people?

HARLOW: What we heard from Ken Cuccinelli on this at The New York Times is he said, look, you've already got a million people in this country, undocumented people with removal orders.


And his argument is they have gone all the way through the due process chain.

REYES: Right.

HARLOW: And they are still out there undocumented. So I think the question becomes on the flip side, what do you do other than go out and arrest them. Like what the other --

REYES: Well, that's sort of the -- to me, in my experience, the logical approach of the Trump administration. They say that these people -- I think there's an estimated between 1 and 2 million people have what they say are final orders of deportation.


REYES: But to be honest, on the ground, in reality, our local governments put more -- they put more resources into, say, sending you your DMV renewal notice or your jury duty summons than these final orders of deportation. They send it to one address. They have no guarantee that the people got it.

So many of these people, they have no idea that they should have been in court because they never got the letter.

HARLOW: But they know they're here undocumented?

REYES: Right. But they have not gone through the process there, due process, which undocumented people are entitled to.

Where we see the discrepancy is that the government will send out letters one time to one address saying you must report here for the final adjudication of your case. And repeatedly, people -- you know, the letters come back, they're misspelled, they just don't get it.

HARLOW: We had -- CNN, our team, was able to talk to the former head of CBP, the acting CBP Commissioner, John Sanders, who was only in that role for two-and-a-half months and just stepped down, about why he left. And he talked about in part the conditions that he saw at some of these detention facilities.

Let me read you part of it, quote, it hit me hard that he was in a cell talking about this little boy from Guatemala, the 16-year-old. He was in the cell sleeping, helping the kids. That has forever changed me and I think a lot more needs to be done for them.

Kevin McAleenan, right, the acting DHS Secretary right now, just told Chris Cuomo this week, he thinks it's imperative that more cameras are allowed in these detention facilities to see what is going on. Are you hopeful? Do you see this as a genuine change of heart for the administration?

REYES: No. I would be shocked. I would be thrilled, but I would be shocked if that actually happened. And we saw more transparencies at these shelters and facilities.

And to that point about the children in these shelters, think about what the administration is saying, you know, the cost. Now, this is based on DHS's own data. It costs $10,000. $10,800, start to finish, to deport for one person.

So on one hand, you have the government potentially rounding up thousands of people at a cost of $10,000 each. Meanwhile, the same DHS is saying they don't have money for toothbrushes, they don't have money for blankets, they don't have money for basic medical care of these children. So, to me, it raises serious questions about where are their priorities, where are they putting their resources and does that serve a legitimate policy purpose.

HARLOW: Okay. Thank you.

REYES: Thank you.

HARLOW: Nice to have you on. I appreciate it very much.

A group of Iranian boats with guns tried to seize a British oil tanker. What we have just learned about this tense encounter, next.



HARLOW: All right. This morning, tension is rising with Iran once again. U.S. officials confirm that they now have video of three armed Iranian boats unsuccessfully trying to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf as it was crossing right into the Strait of Hormuz. Iran denies the entire incident. Sam Kiley joins me live with more.

Sam, I mean, of course, Iran is denying this. The Pentagon says, look, we have the video evidence. And I believe it was only when the Brits pulled their guns, right, on these Iranian ships and said, back off, that they did?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Poppy. So it's a sort of a terribly British affair. This was the British Heritage, British petroleum super tanker, that was being unofficially escorted by the British ship, HMS Montrose.

Three of these very fast-moving Iranian gunships, we understand, from Ministry of Defense sources in London, approached the British Heritage and tried to herd it off course and into Iranian waters, at which point the frigate intervened and leveled its weapons at the Iranians. These weapons include machine guns manned by human beings and also an automated 30 mm cannon, pretty formidable firepower, and then gave verbal warnings to the Iranians to back off, which they duly did.

I have to say, as you suggest there, the Iranians have denied all knowledge of this incident, which is why this Pentagon video tape, the U.S. had aircraft in the air, as they often and almost always do in this very volatile area as spy planes effectively and also liaising directly with the craft moving around on the ground -- on the sea rather.

So this was a very incendiary incident not directly connected at all with the ongoing tension between the United States and Iran over the American withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and subsequent sanctions that the Iranians want lifted.

In fact, the Brits are kind of on the Iranian side on this. This is all relating Iranian retaliation, effectively, for the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker that the British believe was heading towards Syria in breach of embargo and sanctions against Syria. And that was held by the war marine commanders off the Coast of Gibraltar, Poppy.