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House Voted to Condemn Trump on Racist Comments & Rep. Al Green Pushes for Impeachment; Trump Not Backing Down on Racist Remarks; Sanders Rolling Out His Health Care Plan; Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) & Presidential Candidate Discusses Where She Stands on Health Care & Trump's Racist Comments in a CNN Interview. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 17, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: He would later become known as the court's liberal wing. And he was the second oldest and second longest-serving justice on the court.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: He retired in 2010. This after nearly 35 years on the bench. Justice Stevens suffered a stroke earlier this week, passed away at a hospital in Florida. His daughters were by his side.

HARLOW: We thank him for his service to this country.

Thank you all for being with us. We'll see you here tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

"AT THIS HOUR" starts right now.

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

Forget formally condemning the president on the House floor. House Democrats seem to have moved on already and are considering straight- up impeaching the president and that could happen today. You heard that right.

Last night, the House, in a largely party line vote, went on the record to condemn President Trump for telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to where they came the from. Just four Republicans and one Independent House Democrats on that.

Now this morning, one Democrat says that doesn't go far enough. He's trying to force the House to vote on articles of impeachment. Is that taking a stand or is that playing into Trump's hands? We'll get to that in a moment.

In the meantime, President Trump is getting ready to rally supporters at a campaign event in North Carolina. He's making very clear that he's not backing down, actually relishing the controversy over his racist remarks and he's teasing for more.

Let's get to it. CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House. Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.

Manu, what is going on now with this impeachment conversation?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We expect a vote that could happen as soon as today on articles of impeachment for this president. We also expect that vote to fail. And it could fail on a pretty resounding basis.

The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, moments ago, told reporters she's not supporting this resolution. They either kill it on the House floor, essentially what they call tabling it, or they can send it back to the House Judiciary Committee for further deliberation, essentially stalling it that way.

Nevertheless, Democrats are not eager to move forward. They believe it's premature. They believe they should wait for the Mueller report. Even supporters of an impeachment inquiry believe this is moving too rapidly. Let alone, people like Nancy Pelosi, who oppose moving forward on impeachment proceedings at the moment.

Al Green, who is a supporter of this measure, told me today that there's enough evidence to impeach this president. He's not pointing to obstruction of justice. He's pointing to racism.


REP. AL GREEN (D-TX): Today, we have an opportunity to punish. As a result of what we did yesterday, the president doesn't suffer any harm. He doesn't have to pay a fine. He's not going to lose his job. But today, we have the opportunity to punish. Very similar to going to court but you have a bifurcated process. First part of the trial, you convict. Second part, you punish. This is our day.

RAJU: A lot of your colleagues say why not wait until after the Mueller hearing?

GREEN: Because you don't delay justice. The Mueller hearing has nothing to do with what we're doing now. The Mueller hearing is about obstruction. This is about bigotry and racism.


RAJU: But a number of his supporters, who do support impeachment the president, say, look, let's wait for the Mueller hearing to happen next week before we vote today. Which is what's putting Democrats here in a difficult spot because several do want to move forward and open official proceedings, may be forced to vote against this measure in just a matter of hours because they don't agree with the procedure.

And that may not go over well with some of their supporters, which is why the Democratic leadership is in a bit of a difficult spot as they try to navigate this vote that the congressman can force.

So we expect that can happen as soon as today and, of course, we expected to fail -- Kate? BOLDUAN: Really fascinating turn of events on how quickly this is

proceeding. Interesting, as Al Green laid out to you, that this isn't about the Mueller report, it isn't about Russia report, this isn't about the Mueller report, this isn't about obstruction. This is about racism. That's why he wants to move this one forward and move it forward now.

Let's see where that goes, Manu.

Abby, yesterday, we heard that behind-the-scenes at the White House aides were not happy that the president himself was going this route, if you will, taking on these four Democratic Congresswomen of color, telling them to go back from where they came from and then doubling down saying, if you don't like it here, you can leave. Today, though, is this turning into a campaign strategy?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPODNENT: It is, by necessity, turning into a campaign strategy for the president. His campaign and his allies, over the last 48 to 72 hours, they have tried to flip the debate and make it not about what the president said but about how they can use it against Democrats.

The results of it was, yesterday, that resolution vote that the president heralded as a sign of Republican unity. And then he said, what it showed was that Democrats are wedded to the squad, these Democratic congresswomen who he attacked over the weekend.

But even further now, there's this impeachment vote that President Trump seems to be implying is all part of a fishing expedition. And it seems that even if this may not have been President Trump's intent when he tweeted those comments about Democratic congresswomen, it has now become a massive distraction on Capitol Hill.

[11:05:15] He's accusing Democrats of not getting anything done, of trying only to attack him, using the chambers in Congress to attack to attack him, and to follow up on the Mueller investigation, as Al Green said, to introduce articles of impeachment against him for his racist comments.

So the president is taking the hand that he's been dealt and using it politically. And you'll see him doing that even more tonight on the campaign trail where he's already teased he'll continue go after these Democratic congresswomen, making the case to his own supporters that this is about whether you love America or whether you hate America.

That's, of course, Kate, not what this is all about.

BOLDUAN: No, it's not. But that's a tried and true campaign strategy that we have seen in the past, if you look in decades past.

Abby, thank you so much. It's great to see you.

Manu, great reporting. Let us know what else is comes up, Manu, because it's all moving so fast.

Joining me right now is White House correspondent, associate editor at "Politico," Anita Kumar, and CNN political director, David Chalian.

So thankful for you guys to be here.

Anita, Trump thinks this works for him. Why? What is he trying to do? I think it's important to take a step back or take a step above and look down on what we're seeing play out.

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT & ASSOCIATE EDITOR, POLITICO: As Abby mentioned, this is not necessarily what he intended. Perhaps he did. It's not what his aides wanted at all. They were surprised by the tweets on this weekend. They really were delayed in responding because they didn't know how to respond.

But now we're days into this. They can see sort of what's happening.

And what we're seeing is the president tweeted this morning that there have been a couple of polls, there's also a Reuters poll from yesterday, that actually shows him going up with Republicans. So clearly not Independents, not Democrats.

But at this point, it has turned into politics. They are seeing that this can work for them. That the squad, the four Democratic women, are sort of the foil of the president.

He's making all Democrats like them. They are very progressive, liberal. And he's going to show how this, you know, this is what we're up against. This is how I can win.

He's feeling good at this point. He's feeling he's relishing the moment and that he can win politically on it.

BOLDUAN: David, I'm fascinated by kind of one take away from all of this this week. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver basically pleading with his party today saying, no matter how racist the president's tweets are, to ignore the president's Twitter feed. Let me play you what he said this morning to CNN.


REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D-MO): You let the president tweet away, tweet away his presidency. But we can't continue to react to this.

He's going to insult others. He's going to speak some untruths. We need to let him hang out at the White House and do that. To the degree we can still do legislation and get some things done, we ought to do it.

My suggestion to the House and the Senate and the people of the country is to forget the man's tweets. I think he's playing us like a Stradivarius.


BOLDUAN: He's playing us like a Stradivarius. I'm hearing more and more --


BOLDUAN: outside of Washington. I mean, can they do this though? Can they forget the man's tweets?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, they and we in the press, too, right? I mean, it's all --

BOLDUAN: Great point.

CHALIAN: It's all part of this conversation. And I think Ayanna Pressley, when the four congresswomen were having a press conference, mentioned this also, this concern over taking the bait, sort of stepping into the trap that the president is setting. And you can see why there's concern about that.

Yet, Kate, it's the president of the United States saying something. To just ignore it also seems like a dereliction in duty as well.

So it puts the Democrats in a bind. No doubt about that. How do you respond to an attack without letting Donald Trump define the entire narrative, which he has proven to be so skilled at doing? And I don't think we've seen sort of a solid answer from the Democrats on just how to do that yet.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I hear you.

Anita, I don't know if it's different, but let me get your take on it. It's maybe one thing on how House Democrats deal with the president's attacks and deal with this question.

Let me play how some 2020 Democrats are handling it, though. Listen to this.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): I personally been told that, go back to where you came from. You, too. I bet everybody raised their hands, right? Right? In the back, people are raising their hands, too.

It is vile. It is ignorant. It is shallow. It is hateful. And it has to stop. It has to stop.

He needs to go back to where he came from.




[11:10:22] BOLDUAN: Is the strategy different in them responding? Responding at all? Calling him racist? Any of it?

KUMAR: No. I think what we're seeing from the 2020 candidates, they are seeing this as a moment where they can really show America who Donald Trump is and really run against him. Not just on the policies but on the personality, on this man and what he stands for.

The thing is, if you look back at 2016, Hillary Clinton also did that. She did it on policy but she also did it on exactly like this, look at his comments, look at his behavior. It didn't work. She didn't win.

They will be united in that they are against Donald Trump. The question is, will that work. And also, it's a long time until Election Day. A million things will happen between now and then. This is a question of whether this is a reflection point or is it just going to fade again?


CHALIAN: She just mentioned -- sorry.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead.

CHALIAN: Just, the different context here as well. Those 2020 Democrats are running in a Democratic primary. So this is a way to excite the Democratic base, is to take on Donald Trump. That is a far different calculus than applies to Democrats in Congress --

BOLDUAN: Good point.

CHALIAN: -- to figure out how to retain their majority.

BOLDUAN: OK, then maybe I'm completely wrong. But you can tell me that. Because I think, taking a look at the 2018 midterms, is something people need to keep in mind or at least -


BOLDUAN: With what we saw in 2018, was women and minorities turning out in record numbers. The issue that Democrats focused on then, in those Trump districts that they turned blue, was Trump a little bit but not exclusively.


CHALIAN: You're making my point.



BOLDUAN: Like, health care, gun safety, the economy, income inequality. You got Trump going to North Carolina tonight. I just think, taking a look at how instructive that is in 2020 is important.

CHALIAN: Yes. Because, in a general election context, which is what the 2018 midterm moment you're talk about is --


CHALIAN: -- yes, we saw big Democratic turnout. And there's no doubt that that turnout was Donald Trump fuel. That is certainly part of it.

But what did we see the candidates running on? Remember, these 40 Democrats that are the majority makers, that made Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the House and the Democrats in charge, they came from districts where they ousted Republicans.

So they are not sort of just traditional reliably Democratic districts. So they did not want to sort of step into Trump narrative day in and day out. They wanted to focus on health care, on economic issues, on pocketbook issues, and ride the Democratic enthusiasm wave that Donald Trump's behavior was fueling. That combination is what delivered the Democratic majority.

BOLDUAN: So fascinating.

It's great to have you guys.

Thank you, Anita.

Thank you, David.


BOLDUAN: Ahead for us talking health care. Actually, more than that. Medicare-for-All-type of health care. Is Medicare-for-All the most defining issue, then, of the 2020 Democratic primary? Bernie Sanders rolling out his plan today.

Coming up next, a CNN exclusive with Kamala Harris explaining hers again.

Plus, the notorious Mexican drug lord, El Chapo, has just been sentenced to life in prison. He spoke in court during his sentencing. His last words to the judge, coming up.


[11:18:18] BOLDUAN: No matter what the latest flashy headline is or fault line is in the Democratic primary race, the number-one, most- important issue among Democratic voters remains health care. And it's quickly become the most debated topic, exposing the clearest divisions among the Democratic candidates in the campaign so far. Medicare-for- All? Obamacare with a public opening? Abolish private insurance or no? There's a whole bunch of ideas out there.

And Senator Bernie Sanders has been a vocal champion of Medicare-for- All. That's clear. He's planning a big speech and roll out later today of his vision for health care in America.

Before then, in an exclusive interview with CNN, Senator Kamala Harris is, once again, answering questions about where she stands on the issue of health care, rejecting the criticism that she hasn't been clear about exactly what her plan is so far.

She also takes on President Trump and the uproar surrounding his racist tweets. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You are the daughter of immigrants.

HARRIS: Hm-mm.

LAH: A sitting member of Congress, a woman of color.

HARRIS: Hm-mm.

LAH: How do view President Trump's tweets?

HARRIS: I think it's un-American. Un-American. It is unbecoming of the president of the United States. I think it defiles the office of the president of the United States. It is irresponsible. It is hateful. It is hurtful. And he has taken the presidency to a new low.

LAH: You take this personally as the daughter of an immigrant. You've written about how --

HARRIS: I take it personally as a member of the United States Senate.

LAH: If we could turn to what the four members of Congress urged for people who are listening to not get distracted. How you do not get distracted? How you do not fall into his trap where he controls the narrative with a tweet like this?

[11:20:12] HARRIS: I said it many times. This president purposely, I believe, distracts and attempts to distract by flame throwing because the reality of it is he's done nothing to help working families in America.

He passed a tax bill benefiting the top 1 percent and the biggest corporations of our country.

He has conducted trade policy by tweet in a way that farmers are looking at bankruptcy and auto workers are looking at the potential for their jobs to be gone by the end of the year.

The American consumer is paying $1.1 billion more a month in everything from shampoo to washing machines because of his trade policy, which I call the Trump trade tax.

And he's not done anything to build up the infrastructure of our country.

And all that comes with that in terms of improving and elevating the condition of working families.

And so what does he do? He wants to distract by starting a whole -- lighting fires around the issue of race and ethnicity. It's disgusting.

LAH: Is this a turn? There's so much rage about this? Is this a turn for you?

HARRIS: There's so much that's disgusting about this. I think it is a turn for this president. Could it get any worse? Apparently, yes, it just did. How low can he go?

LAH: Can he get lower?

HARRIS: I don't know but he needs to go back to where he came from and leave that office. And so that's why I'm running, with the intention of making sure there will not be four more years.

I don't think that we can survive having a president of the United States who uses whatever voice he has in way that's about dividing and fueling hate in our country.

The American people will not tolerate that. I know that. I know who we really are as a country. The American people will not tolerate this kind of hate from their president.

LAH: I want to turn to issue of health care.


LAH: At the beginning of the year, in January, you talked about you were fine with getting rid of it all. And then, you indicated that there was a place for private health insurance. And then, in the debate where you raise your hand, understanding that you say you misheard the question. So let's --


HARRIS: You're building a lot into the question.

LAH: Sure.



HARRIS: I would like to just get to the point.


HARRIS: But the there's a lot you're building into the question.

LAH: The impression people are left with is that you're not sure. Let's clear it up.


LAH: From where you are --


LAH: -- tell me your position on what Medicare-for-All means under President Harris? HARRIS: Sure. Sure. Medicare-for-All means that everyone will have

access to health care. And costs will not be a barrier.

As it relates to private insurance, there will still be supplemental insurance.

But, yes, transitioning into Medicare-for-All will, at some point, reduce the requirement for insurance because everyone will have access to health care.

Under Medicare-for-All, in my vision in Medicare-for-All, people will have coverage in what they don't now, in terms of vision care, dental care, hearing aids. I'm hearing from seniors in Iowa, and hearing aids are extremely expensive and not covered by Medicare right now.

Medicare-for-All means that you recognize that, right now in America, 91 percent of our doctors are in Medicare. So you're not going to have to lose your doctor. It's very unlikely.


HARRIS: It means recognizing that, over a period of many years, the insurance companies have been jacking up the cost of health care in terms of premiums, deductibles and co-pays. So that right now, someone who has insurance still will be out of pocket of $5,000, because that's their deductible, which, for most Americans, is unaffordable.

LAH: The role of private insurance, are you limiting that to something like cosmetic insurance?


LAH: Or what is the role of private insurance?

HARRIS: It's to cover what's not otherwise covered.

LAH: That includes what?

HARRIS: Very little. Because almost everything will be covered.

LAH: So then, how does this plan differ from what Senator Sanders is proposing?

HARRIS: I think that they are very similar. I don't think -- I'm supporting his bill so, to the extent that he's talking about his bill. I don't know what else he's talking about.

LAH: He said --


HARRIS; I'm not in support of middle-class families paying more taxes for it.

LAH: That's what I was hoping to talk with you about. HARRIS: Yes.

LAH: You just said that you're not in favor of a middle-class tax hike?

HARRIS: Yes, correct.

LAH: How do you propose to pay for you version for Medicare-for-All if it resembles what Senator Sanders is proposing?

[11:25:00] HARRIS: Well, part of it is, there will have to be about Wall Street paying more. It's going to have to be about looking at how we -- and what we tax in terms of financial service. That's a part it.

The other part is to understand this is an investment which will reap a great return on the investment.

We can't only look at this issue in terms of cost without thinking about benefit. The benefit to the American public will be that people will have access to health care that, right now, they cannot afford. And we're all paying a price for that.

LAH: Senator Sanders say that's impossible to achieve without a middle-class tax hike.

HARRIS: I'm not prepared to engage a middle-class tax hike.

LAH: But in many studies, study after study shows it would cost $30 trillion over a decade to pay for this. So taxing Wall Street will reap $30 trillion in order to cover this?

HARRIS: What we're doing right now is unaffordable to so many American families. And the idea that we're going to go down this level of analysis that suggests that status quo is OK is completely unacceptable.

LAH: So people who have private insurance would eventually have to give that up under your plan?

HARRIS: They would eventually be covered under Medicare-for-All and they would still see their doctor. That's what they want.

LAH: How long would this transition take, do you envision?

HARRIS: I think the transition is going to have to take -- I mean, the bill is four years. I think it will have to take more than that, to be honest with you.

LAH: All of this done without a middle-class tax hike?

HARRIS: Without a middle-class tax hike, yes.

LAH: So $30 trillion over 10 years?

HARRIS: There are ways to pay for it also understanding the investment that we'll be making in a way that's is going reap great benefits in terms of other costs.

LAH: The investment where?

HARRIS: In American health, and what we're otherwise paying as a cost for people not having access to health care and the burdens that place on systems across the board when people don't have access to health care.

LAH: When you -- when people question that there is no formula for this, that you're going to find money in magical ways, is not realistic thinking, how do you respond to that?

HARRIS: Status quo is not enough. So we have to be open to challenging status quo so that everyone has access to health care and price is not the barrier. We have to agree that what's happening right now is not affordable to many, many working families.

LAH: Joe Biden says that this is, what you are suggesting, an elimination of Obamacare. Is that accurate?

HARRIS: It's absolutely not. Listen, I will put my record up against anybody as having been a fighter for the maintenance and sustainability of Obamacare.

As attorney general -- I mean, I'm sure, on the debate stage, I'm the only one who went to court to fight to keep in place all of the benefits of Obamacare.

But like President Obama himself has said, he used the analogy of it being like a starter home. It was a profound public health policy and shift. It was incredible, the courage he had and so many others to actually get it done. And the wherewithal to get it done was profound.

LAH: But Obamacare --


HARRIS: But now it's about taking it to the next step.

LAH: So it is moving on from Obamacare?

HARRIS: And making improvements on it. And President Obama himself said that there are improvements to be made.


BOLDUAN: Kyung, thank you so much for that interview. Really appreciate it.

So find out which Democratic candidates will be facing off on each night at the CNN debate. You know this will be a big topic, of course. Find out in a special live event. You can watch the draw for the CNN Democratic debates tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Still ahead for us, House lawmakers are expected to vote in a matter of hours on articles of impeachment against President Trump because of his racist tweets. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has long resisted calls for impeachment. What is she going to do now? We'll soon hear from the speaker.