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Rep. Al Green (D) Texas Says Vote On Trump Impeachment Resolution May Be Today; Trump Praises GOP Support During House Vote On Racist Tweets; Ex-Drug Lord El Chapo Sentenced To Life Plus 30 Years; Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) Vermont To 2020 Democrats, Reject Private Insurance And Pharma Donations. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 17, 2019 - 10:00   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.


Just moments ago, the House democrat who just filed articles of impeachment against the President says it is time for the House to send a powerful message. Right now, Congress very much split on the idea, the democrats very much split, including the leaders. But in just a few hours, they all may be forced to hold a vote.

HARLOW: Yes. this is very significant. Our Manu Raju just spoke with Democratic Congressman Al Green of Texas. Let's listen to this.


REP. AL GREEN (D-TX): -- voting between 4:00 and 5:00 today on this issue. This will be the opportunity.


GREEN: Today, 4:00 and 5:00 today. This will be the opportunity for us to all go on record. Either we will move forward with impeachment or we will vote against it.


HARLOW: Okay. Manu Raju is with us. That's big. I thought this was going to happen next week.

RAJU: Yes. It could happen within the next two legislative days. That's under the House rules, this resolution will be brought up. It's considered privilege. That means that essentially he can force a vote without the consent of the democratic leadership. And as a result, it could happen today or tomorrow. And Al green told me that he expects it this afternoon. Now, I just spoke to top democratic leadership aides who say that they have not made a final decision yet about when exactly this will come up or exactly what form it will come up in. But it could very well happen in just a matter of hours.

Now, democrats are divided over this issue, they have been for some time, and also divided about whether or not to vote right now on impeachment, articles of impeachment, given that Bob Mueller, the Special Counsel, is testifying next week.

But Al Green just told me moments ago it is time to move forward right now. There is enough evidence to satisfy the high crimes and misdemeanors standard. And he says it's not necessarily because of the obstruction of justice laid out in the Mueller report, it's because of racism.


GREEN: We should go forward as expeditiously as possible, and we should do so because on yesterday, we convicted the President. This is a bifurcated process. The condemnation was an eviction. Today, we have the opportunity to punish.

RAJU: A lot of your colleagues say, why don't wait until after the Mueller hearing.

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


RAJU: So the ultimate question is how many votes will he get on the House floor? Certainly not enough to approve an article of impeachment against this president, even supporters of an impeachment inquiry are skeptical about moving forward. I just spoke to one of them -- multiple of -- several of them, I should say. And one of them just now, Veronica Escobar, told me it's not, quote, the wisest time to move forward, particularly before the impeachment, the Mueller hearing of next week.

And Jerry Nadler, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, declined to comment. It's unclear what form it will take. It could either be, one, to refer this matter back to the House Judiciary Committee or to kill it altogether. Either way, it could put democrats on record, even ones who want to begin formal impeachment proceedings, which is why leadership is not eager for this vote. It puts some of the members in a tricky spot. Guys?

HARLOW: Yes. Okay. Manu, great to get him to talk right now. Thanks so much.

SCIUTTO: Meanwhile, President Trump is now signaling that he is going to take on the squad at his rally in North Carolina tonight. Let's go to CNN's Abby Phillip at the White House. Of course, Abby, this was initially meant to be counterprogramming for Mueller testimony, and Mueller would have been his target, I imagine, but that's been delayed. So now, the new target is the squad.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And in some ways, this is also counterprogramming to the Mueller testimony and all of this talk on Capitol Hill now about impeachment because the President is very eager to reframe this as a debate about the democrats embracing the squad, a group that he is characterized as being socialists, as advocating for, you know, anti-Islamist views. And these are his characterizations of some of the more controversial statements by some of the members of the squad.

But the President is taking this as a political opportunity. He has Tweeted last night and today that he was excited about how unified republicans have been in the last day. He says, democrats are now wedded to the squad. And he seemed to be excited by all the drama unfolding on the House floor that, of course, ended in an impeachment resolution being brought forward.

The President has not addressed that directly, and the White House hasn't addressed that directly, but they have repeatedly over the last several months said that democrats are trying to re-litigate the Mueller investigation, the President calling it a fishing expedition in a Tweet.


So I think you can expect to hear a lot more about that tonight when he's at that campaign rally in North Carolina. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Multiple targets. Abby Phillip, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Let's talk about this and a lot more with Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, serves on both the Judiciary and the Intel committees. You've got a busy week next week, no question. But before us, a few topics, let's begin with your exchange last night on the House floor with your republican counterpart Doug Collins talking about the President's words and the way in which you describe them. Let's play it.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Saying immigrants from Mexico are rapists is racist. Saying there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville is racist. Calling African countries shit hole countries is racist. And telling four members of this body to go home is racist. Do you think it's not racist to say those things?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman, the status point of order.

SWALWELL: Do you think it's not racist?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So the gentleman will suspend. The gentleman will --

SWALWELL: Is that what you're saying right now, Mr. Collins?


HARLOW: So, Congressman, you officially withdrew those words because it is a violation of House rules to specifically say that the President himself on the floor is racist or bigoted. But would you do it again?

SWALWELL: Actually, Poppy, no, I withdrew the word, shit hole. That was the word I was asked to withdraw. No, that the other -- everything else -- so I repeated it again. I was asked to withdraw that word because that word, under the House rules, is vulgar. And the point I was making is if you're going to object to me saying it, maybe you should object to the person who actually said it.

HARLOW: All right. Well, fair enough. What Doug Collins was objecting to though was more broadly what they objected to with Nancy Pelosi's comments, right, which is calling the President a racist. You did not withdraw those words. And I assume the answer to my question is, yes, you would do it again?

SWALWELL: Yes, I don't want this ever to be normal in this great country that we all love, this inclusive country of ours. And if we ever let it become normal and we ever just say, oh, that's just the President, you know, being the President, then I think we lose a sense of, you know, the diversity and inclusiveness that we need and that we want our children to have as they conduct themselves in their classrooms and become adults and lead the next generation.

HARLOW: Okay. But let me get this reaction then. Because you've got republican lawmakers saying this is a stunt, this wasn't bipartisan, you guys are just doing this to get attention. Even the democrat, Adam Jentleson, the former Chief of Staff to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told The Daily Beast, quote, Trump wins all these fights for the simple reason that he is not getting impeached. Even half-hearted attempts to hold him accountable just highlight the democrats are choosing not to use the most powerful accountability tool they have. Does he have a point, sir?

SWALWELL: Well, you know, Reid had -- Majority Leader Reid, I think we're headed that way, to impeachment, but this was bipartisan yesterday. Actually, republicans did join democrats in condemning the President.

HARLOW: Well, you say, we're headed that way toward impeachment. So the breaking news is that your fellow democrat in the House, Al Green, just moments ago told Manu Raju he's going to bring this up. He's going to push this vote in the next two days. I think it's going to happen tonight likely on impeachment. This is the third time in as many years he has done it. And he is doing this before Mueller's testimony because he says now the President deserves to be impeached not necessarily because of what the Special Counsel found but because of his words that, in Al Green's mind, are bigoted. Will you vote yes on that or will you table it or will you object?

SWALWELL: Well, I already believe that we should have impeachment proceedings. I've been supporting that for months now.

HARLOW: But will you vote yes on Al Green's resolution to do so now?

SWALWELL: I think I'll probably vote yes, Poppy, but not just for those words but because of what the President did and the way he worked with the Russians and what he did to cover that up, the way he's cashing it in on access to the Oval Office. I believe we should start impeachment proceedings immediately.

And I don't think it should just be Donald Trump. I think it should be the Attorney General. I think it should be the Secretary of the Treasury. I think it should be the Secretary of the Commerce, all these lawless -- all these people who are refusing to follow congressional subpoenas.

HARLOW: I think that's very interesting because the last two times that Al Green has done this in 2017 and 2018, it has failed by a wide margin. And Nancy Pelosi herself, the leader of your caucus, has said, wait, let's do this methodically, let's take the time, let's get the evidence. But you -- I just wonder if you think you represent a majority of the caucus now saying you're going to vote yes on this.

SWALWELL: You know, I don't want to speculate on that, but the numbers are going up. They're not going down, right? You have more people every day saying that we need impeachment proceedings, and I don't think you're going to see that number go in the other direction where people say, oh, you know, this president, I actually think he's a good guy and he's going to start to follow the law, take me off those calls for impeachment.

HARLOW: So a quick yes or no and let's move on. Is Nancy Pelosi wrong then to keep waiting on this?

SWALWELL: She plays a different role. You know, she's the conductor of the symphony.

HARLOW: I know that. But if you were her?

SWALWELL: No one can be Nancy Pelosi, and I don't want to speak for her. She really has a different role, one that I respect.


But I'm going to urge my colleagues to move toward impeachment proceedings and she's going to do her job.

HARLOW: Okay, all right, fair enough.

So, yesterday on this program, we heard House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy call democrats, the entire party, talking about the squad but then addressing the entire party as, quote, this new democrat socialist majority. And you have said to me before, I believe in capitalism, not in redistribution.

Putting aside the fact I know you don't agree with the content of his statement, I wonder if you think it is catchy and if you think it is dangerous to your party's chances in 2020.

SWALWELL: No, it's not. I understand though why if you're working really hard and you're just living paycheck to paycheck or you have student loan debt and you're not able to buy a house, you may be asking for something other than the capitalist system that we have today. But most people aren't telling me they want socialism. They're saying they just want to see their hard work add up. And I think we're of the party where if you work hard, it adds up.

HARLOW: So, fair enough. Before you go, you have stepped aside from running for president in 2020. As I mentioned to you, this means a whole lot more time with your two-year-old and your nine-month-old. I know it was a hard decision. But you've said to our colleague, Erin Burnett, last week, I support the Democratic Party's progress led by Tom Perez, which is to narrow the field and raise the threshold.

We've got the Q2 fundraising numbers now. Do you believe that it would be most helpful, most advantageous to the Democratic Party's chances in 2020 right now for more of your fellow democrats to step out of this race soon?

SWALWELL: You know, Poppy, it's going to have to be their own personal decision. And I think that's best. But the threshold for the debate stage in September, only about six to eight of them will make it anyway. And I just believe if you're not on the debate stage, you know, it's hard to make the case that you should be in the mix there.

It's a traffic jam right now. And it was hard for us to breakthrough. And once it looked like we couldn't win, we felt like we had moved the needle on the issue of gun violence. A number of the frontrunners endorsed my plan to have a ban and buyback on assault weapons. It was time to go back to the work in the Congress.

So I'm excited to be back and I look forward to now just rooting for our nominee as someone who would work with them in Congress and as a father of two kids whose future will depend on their leadership, whoever she may be.

HARLOW: Oh, whoever she may be. Do you have a name for us this morning?

SWALWELL: I'm just -- no. I think we have a lot of talented women candidate, and I think those are, you know, going to continue to breakthrough as we go forward.

HARLOW: But you think it's going to be a woman?

SWALWELL: I think there's a very good possibility. And I think that's a great thing for us.

HARLOW: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for being here.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

SCIUTTO: It's a good interview. And, clearly, there is a very sharp division in the Democratic Party today on this issue of impeachment. We're going to watch it fold out later tonight in a vote.

Still to come, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi working on a face-to-face meeting with a member of the so-called squad, another step towards unity, perhaps.

Plus, it's been a divisive issue for democratic presidential candidates, Medicare for all. Today, Senator Bernie Sanders is set to address the issue and call on his rivals to take a major pledge. Details of that pledge ahead.

HARLOW: And more protests this morning in Puerto Rico as calls intensify for the governor to step down, but he remains defiant after incredibly offensive remarks that he made were leaked.



HARLOW: All right, breaking news. El Chapo, the drug lord, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, just sentenced. Let's go to our Jason Carroll outside the courthouse. Jason, what did he get?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as expected, the judge in this case just sentenced El Chapo, Joaquin Guzman, to life in prison plus 30 years, to add insult to injury, to him and his team. He was also ordered to pay $12.6 billion back to the U.S. government.

Once again, this caps a very long trial, over three months. Sentencing here, which is pretty much what we expected, as, you know, he was convicted on all ten federal counts, including running a continuous criminal enterprise, which in itself already carries a mandatory life sentence. He was also found guilty of nine other counts, including the manufacture and distribution of a number of drugs.

But this really what prosecutors say puts an end to this very long and infamous career of a man who ran what they call the world's largest and most prolific drug organization.

Very quickly, Poppy, Guzman, for his part, spoke during the sentencing, saying he did not believe justice was served here. He also says that he wanted to thank the jurors and some of the officers who took care of him when he was here in the United States. He says, quote, there was no justice here, obviously, prosecutors feeling very differently today. Poppy?

HARLOW: Of course.

SCIUTTO: Life plus 30 years. Jason Carroll, thanks very much.

2020 presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders says that he will not accept any health industry donations and is now calling on all of his democratic rivals to make the same pledge, Sanders calling on candidates to reject any campaign funds from pharmaceutical industry executives, lobbyists or PACs, political action committees.


HARLOW: He's delivering a speech this afternoon on healthcare policy. Obviously, this is huge in this race. Ryan Nobles is following all of it.

What will we hear from him, Ryan?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, first of all, this is not a surprise that Bernie Sanders is coming out with this challenge to his democratic rivals this week. It comes just a couple days after former Vice President Joe Biden unveiled his healthcare policy plan and a day after Kamala Harris also talked about prescription drugs.

And, essentially, what Sanders is going to say today is that you cannot change a corrupt system by taking money from people who lead that corrupt system. And a big speech later this afternoon, Sanders is going to outline why he believes that Medicare for all, a single- payer, government-run healthcare system is the only way to really solve the healthcare coverage crisis.

And he's going to specifically say that democratic candidates for president should reject all fundraising dollars from anyone connected to the healthcare industry above $200. And there is no doubt that this is specifically aimed at both Biden and Harris, who continue to hold high-dollar fundraisers and continue to take money from these interests, while Sanders and some of his other opponents, like Elizabeth Warren, for instance, are not taking money from those interests. And Sanders has never taken money from folks in settings like that.

So this is setting the bar to a certain extent, Jim and Poppy. Sanders wanting to hold his democratic opponents' feet to the fire and really make sure that democratic primary voters know where he stands and where they stand.

SCIUTTO: Each of them trying to distinguish themselves from a still large pack of candidates. Ryan Nobles, thanks very much.

Joining us now to discuss all this is Faiz Shakir. He is Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign manager. Good morning, Faiz. We appreciate you taking the time.


SCIUTTO: So, first, I want to get to where the American public is and even the democratic voting base on this issue of Medicare for all but also the Affordable Care Act. A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, it found the ACA, as it's known, is viewed favorably by 46 percent of the country, unfavorable by 40 percent. But this is even more telling. Among democrats, the law is even more popular. 79 percent view it favorably. Only 12 percent regard it unfavorably.

So what does that tell you about Senator Sanders' plan? Does he have the people behind him on this? SHAKIE: Well, what the same poll showed, Jim, is that Medicare for all is quite popular with American people and with democrats. And there's a reason why, because you have 32 million people plus who don't have insurance right now. And as good as the Affordable Care Act was, there are still tens of millions of people who are underinsured, who --

SCIUTTO: Isn't the thing, Faiz -- sorry. To be fair, isn't it that folks like the idea of it, but when they're asked more specific questions, for instance, on employee-based

healthcare, they may say, I like Medicare for all. But if they're told, oh, your employee plan, that's gone, unions, et cetera, they're like, wait a second. I'm not sure how I feel. I mean, that's the issue, isn't it?

SHAKIR; This requires education. We're prepared to have that debate. That's why Bernie Sanders is delivering the speech today. Because under Medicare for all, you have the most popular healthcare program in America, that is called Medicare. And what you're doing is expanding that. So right now, it's available to people 65 and older.

Now, it would be expanded to 55 and older in the first year and then 45 and older in the second year, 35 and older in the third year, and so on. And I do believe and the Senator believes that if you go about that approach, it is both feasible and very popular, and I think people are going to react to having greater comfort and security in their lives knowing that when they switch jobs, they've got healthcare , they are available for them.

HARLOW: Faiz, one of the things that struck me actually most in one of the most important parts of the last debate, the first democratic debate, is when Sanders was asked and pressed, will taxes for middle class Americans go up under your plan, and he said, yes. But, you know, in his view, they're going to get better care and more care, broader coverage.

Listen to part of this fascinating interview that our colleague, Kyung Lah, did with Senator Kamala Harris about this issue of taxes when it comes to coverage. Here it is.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): My vision of Medicare will not be about a middle class tax hike. So I am not prepared to do that at all.


HARLOW: What is your response to Senator Harris? Do you think that's possible? Could she provide the same coverage that Senator Sanders is proposing without the tax hike that he says is inevitable?

SHAKIR: If what Senator Harris is saying that middle class families will not pay more under Medicare for all because their tax burdens will go down, because right now, many of them are paying a corporate tax right now to get high -- paying high premiums, high co-pays, high deductibles. In exchange for paying a little bit more in taxes, that goes away. Middle class families will save money. If that's what she's saying, she is right about that.

And I think that this is the option that people have. Right now, they are fighting with health insurers. They know that the administrative burdens that they deal with every day, small businesses deal with these administrative burdens, they are painful. And what you're going to offer people is a simplified approach that they can rest easy knowing that they've got healthcare for themselves and their families.


They can focus on their jobs and their lives.

SCIUTTO: No, no, go ahead.

HARLOW: We did -- we want to talk a little bit about socialism too. And we both have a few questions for you on socialism. Because we heard it was on this program yesterday that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said this is the new democratic socialist majority, which maybe you guys embrace, right, because of the position of Senator Sanders as a socialist. Is that helpful though to the Democratic Party overall, do you guys think?

SHAKIR: So let me just say about Donald Trump who is attacking in a very racist way four members --

HARLOW: Really just tight on time and asking you about that labeling.

SHAKIR: Right. I just want to say like what he's doing is attacking them because their policies, which is free tuition at public colleges and universities, cancelling student debt, Medicare for all. Instead of having that debate about policies, he wants to take into to a racist place.

What I'm saying is those policies are quite popular. And instead of having that debate on policies, he's trying to elide that debate. We think that this is the popular. Americans support this across the board.

SCIUTTO: But the numbers don't support it actually. There's an ABC- Washington Post poll that found that Trump would beat a candidate perceived as a socialist by 49 percent to 43 percent, whereas other candidates not perceived as socialist would beat him. So I'm just curious, are you convinced you have the public behind you?

SHAKIR: Jim, there's a guy with a name Bernie Sanders. And I hope you will take a look at Bernie Sanders against Donald Trump and look at those head-to-head numbers and then report back to me what you find, Jim. Because I think you'll find in the 25 of the last 25 polls, Bernie Sanders is beating Donald Trump head-to-head in every poll out there. Can you challenge me on that?

SCIUTTO: Well, I can challenge you on -- because we're talking about positions that are his signature issues which don't have the backing of the majority of democratic voters. And, of course, those issues are going to be discussed, you know, at length in the coming months. SHAKIR: Absolutely. And what do you think, Jim, that most people know about Bernie Sanders? What do you think they know about him? He ran for president before in head-to-head in places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. He is crushing Donald Trump. How do you explain that to me, Jim?

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, we'll let the voters decide. I'm just saying on the issues that you're making, your signature issues that the polls show, they don't back those particular issues. And as voters learn about those issues, that might be factored into the decision. We're going to keep up the conversation because we've got a lot of time until November 2020.

HARLOW: Come back, Faiz. Come back soon, okay? We really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Be sure to watch CNN Newsroom at 2:00 today. This senator himself, Senator Sanders, will join CNN ahead of that major speech on healthcare.

No insurgency here. Progressive members of the so-called squad say they are not trying to take over the Democratic Party. Hear from them next.