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Trump Ramps Up Attacks on Democratic Congresswomen; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Discusses Back & Forth Between Trump, 4 Congresswomen, Upcoming Mueller Testimony, Hope Hicks, Hush Money Payments to Stormy Daniels; Warren Unveils Plan to Prevent New Financial Crisis; Congress & White House Face Friday Deadline to Reach Budget Deal. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 22, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:14] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is still eagerly kicking up controversy when it comes to the four congresswomen he is trying to make the liberal poster people of the Democratic Party.

A week into the fire storm, the president poured some more gasoline, tweeting, "The Squad is a very racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart. They are pulling the once great Democratic Party far left and were against humanitarian aid at the border and are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our country."

And this morning, one of his targets, Representative Rashida Tlaib, fought back.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): I'm not going nowhere!


TLAIB: Not until I impeach this president!


BASH: Now, the president is going after another favorite target, the media, for reporting about GOP alarm about all of this. Even concern inside Trump's own White House.

Joining me now, Democratic congresswoman from Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee.

Congresswoman. Thank you so much for joining me.

You are a senior member of the Judiciary Committee. I want to talk to you about the Mueller hearing this week.

But first, I want to ask about the president's tweets, and specifically the impact they're having on Democrats. I've heard mixed things from your colleagues. Many, of course, say

it's important to speak out. But also I'm hearing some frustration that the so-called Squad is pulling the caucus into these fights, which are overshadowing the policy issues that you Democrats were elected to fight for. Where do you stand?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, I am an optimist. And I think the Democratic Party is stronger now than it's ever been before.

And when I come home to the district, there are nothing but pats on my back, for one, upholding the constitution but really the work we've been doing. And I don't think it's going to the grim reaper in the United States Senate that our work has been ignored.

We passed the $15-hour minimum wage, the first time in almost a decade for the federal government, which will impact local communities. The women against violence act (sic), that the act is one that has been significant and unique in terms of the funding for law enforcement.

BASH: Right.

JACKSON LEE: Health care.

So we have done -- protecting the preexisting condition. We have a lot to talk about. The president does not. And it's evident, Dana, that because he does not, he's taking on individual members of Congress, duly elected women of color.

I would say to him, who is the bigger person, who is the bigger group. It is the Democratic Party that is focused on Democratic ideals, the Constitution, and serving the American people. He is not doing that.

BASH: Let's talk about something that the Democratic Party has been focused on very aggressively for the past two years, including your committee. And that is Robert Mueller and his investigation. He is coming before your committee day after tomorrow. Take me inside the Democrats' debate prep. We understand the focus is on five areas of obstruction. What will you specifically tackle?

JACKSON LEE: Well, obstruction is certainly an issue that I have worked on for a long time, and that will be a part of my focus.

And the other is to tell a very indicting story that can be projected by the voice and the words of Director Mueller. We know that there will be no other extended conversation or dialogue that we expect that director Mueller will engage in.

But the very point of a book versus a movie or a book that is heard versus one that is read, I think is striking.

And all we want is the truth. We want to be profound and efficient, but we want to be respectful as well. And we hope the American people will see this.

[11:35:02] I take issue with the fact that this is going to be a lightning rod. The language should be a lightning rod. The very fact that Russians were so intimately involved with the Trump campaign, so many contacts, should be a lightning rod.

And as well, Dana, the fact that there are 10 specific items or episodes of obstruction of justice, should be a lightning rod for America, just as the vile actions at the border, the treatment of people at the border and as well the work that Democrats are trying to do to cure that.

BASH: Congresswoman --

JACKSON LEE: That should be striking, the fact that we're not getting that task done because of the president.

BASH: OK. So you've been around Washington a while. You know how it works. In all candor, how much do you need Robert Mueller to lay out crimes and misdemeanors, even though he obviously didn't recommend them, in order for you -- I know you want to push forward with impeachment and your colleagues to be able to get public support behind that?

JACKSON LEE: That's a very good point. We laid out the 10, as I said, episodes, events of obstruction. They are glaring, from telling McGahn to lie, to telling them to lay off of Flynn, to the firing Comey. The lying is very conspicuous and glaring, because it was said many times and told to many persons. So I --


BASH: But how much do you need him to use those words? And do you have any --


BASH: -- suggestion that --

JACKSON LEE: Well, let's say this. We want him to use the words that are in the report. And we want him to be as forthright with us in answering the questions. That's all that we can expect.

And I would think those final words --

BASH: Is that all you need?

JACKSON LEE: in that second -- well, I would think those final words in the second volume, which you will hear, and he violated the law, and he violated the law. But the words in the second volume that indicated that, if I had confidence that the president had not committed a crime or crimes, I would have said so.

And, frankly, I think the picture that will be gleaned from the testimony, both in front of the Judiciary Committee and in front of the Intelligence Committee, will be stark and real.

The real question, Dana, is our friends on the other side of the aisle, whether they will make this a circus, whether they'll talk about how this was instigated. They never asked question how the issues dealing the Clinton impeachment of where it was instigated it. They instigated it. And they were way outside of the boundaries --

BASH: Congresswoman --

JACKSON LEE: -- of the American people.


BASH: Congresswoman, we're almost out of time and --

JACKSON LEE: -- the question.

BASH: OK. Thank you. We're almost out of time.


BASH: I want to ask one very specific question about what you asked Hope Hicks in closed testimony, which is whether the president -- or excuse me, whether she -- you asked Hope Hicks whether she was present for conversations about Stormy Daniels. She told you no. Now there are questions about whether that's true. Do you think Hope Hicks perjured herself?

JACKSON LEE: I am very concerned about Hope Hicks' flip or at least giving one answer and another answer in documents we've just found.

So perjury, obviously, is an indictable offense. And I would just suggest that what we got was one answer of no and evidence that she was present. I think we need to bring her back in and determine what actually happened. And, frankly, this will be up to prosecutors to determine what happens to Hope Hicks next.

I hope that we can get the truth, because all of that bears as well on the misconduct of this president of the United States of America.

BASH: Congresswoman --

JACKSON LEE: And the truth is the only thing we can stand on.

BASH: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you so much for your time this morning. I appreciate it.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you for having me.

BASH: Thank you.

[11:39:08] Still to come, Senator Elizabeth Warren says there are warning signs that a new financial crisis is right around the corner. But she also says she has a plan to stop it. That's next.


BASH: Elizabeth Warren believes we are on the brink of another financial crisis and, like on many other issues, she's got a plan she says would prevent it.

In a post on the blogging platform, Medium, this morning, Warren outlined a warning sign that is pointing -- many of them actually pointing in the direction of another economic crash and explained just how her policy proposals will prevent this crisis from happening.

Here now, CNN political correspondent, M.J. Lee, who knows all things Elizabeth Warren.

M.J., break down the Senator's plan.

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: She's sending a warning. She says that another financial crisis is coming. And she said that she tried to send warnings back in 2008 in the years leading up to 2008 and that Washington didn't listen. And so she would like for Washington to listen this time around.

She's pointing to things like household debt going up, corporate debt going up. She says the manufacturing industry is in a state of recession.

And here's a little bit of her plan. A big part of it has to do with reducing the household debt with things like increasing the minimum wage, canceling student loan debt, bringing down things like rent, the cost of childcare. She's also proposed tuition-free public college.

[11:45:07] What's interesting is that all of these things might sound pretty familiar, and that is because these are bits and pieces of plans that she has already put out over the course of the year.

I think what is so politically important is that she has been leaning very much into this economic message over the last couple of weeks.

Whether it's the Wall Street and private equity plan that she put out last week or highlighting the economic patriotism theme, it seems pretty clear that she wants to come out of this giant Democratic field as the candidate with the economic plan, especially if she feels like there's a good chance that the economy may not be a strong point for President Trump next year.

BASH: M.J., thank you for that. Stay with me.

I want to bring in CNN political analyst and White House reporter for the "Washington Post," Toluse Olorunnipa.

And, Toluse, you are also watching and hearing about this. This is the second plan Warren is unveiling just days ahead of the next Democratic debates.

She's going to share the stage for the first time with Bernie Sanders. They are obviously the two leaders vying for the progressive vote. How do you see that shaking out?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This could happen in one of two ways. They could either sort of team up against the moderates on the stage. There are going to be a number of moderates on the stage, including Amy Klobuchar and John Delaney, and other folks who have said that all of these policies embraced by Senator Warren and Senator Sanders are too far to the left. But I will also be watching to see whether or not they decide to take

each other on because they do vie for a lot of the same voters.

Senator Warren seems to be ascendant right now. She has been putting out a number of different plans, talking to issues that are pocketbook issues for a number to Americans. Many of the issues that Senator Sanders talked about in 2016 and tried to get out in front of.

And now that there's a much larger field than there was back then and now that there are a number of politicians and candidates that are taking on some of Bernie Sanders' policies and ideas, he's finding it hard to sort of take that mantle that he had in 2016 as the insurgent candidate.

So I would be surprised if Sanders doesn't try to sort of contrast himself with Warren and paint himself as the original Democratic Socialist progressive candidate and whether or not he tries to show that he has been for these policies for quite a long time and doesn't continue to play nice.

BASH: Yes, like Coke Classic. That's kind of the political version of that.

M.J., what are you hearing from your sources in Warren world? Are you hearing that it's more likely that she's going to want to team up on the stage or separate herself and try to overtake Bernie Sanders for those progressive voters?

LEE: Look, I think we've gotten some pretty good clues over the last couple of months that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren basically have this truce pact. Every time they're asked about the other, they say, look, we've been friends for a long time, we have worked on a lot of issues together. Elizabeth Warren repeatedly saying, I'm with Bernie whenever she is asked about the issue of health care.


BASH: How long can that last, M.J.?

LEE: Well, look, I think it is very, very difficult to imagine the two of them center stage personally going after one another Tuesday night.

But I do think -- you made a really good point that actually on -- when it comes to policy and the kinds of politicians that they are, there are some differences.

One very obvious one being that Bernie Sanders calls himself the Democratic Socialist. Elizabeth Warren says over and over again that she is a capitalist.

When it comes to the issue of student loan debt, these are two big proposals that both candidates have put out. Warren has said, let's take a look at what your wage is and what your income is, and then for some of those people I would wipe out student loan debt. Bernie Sanders has said let's wipe out all of it. So there are differences there where they could try to distinguish

each other in their own policies from one another.

But, again, I think it is very, very unlikely that they're going to be personally going after one another where we see really sparks flying between the two of them on Tuesday tonight.

BASH: M.J. and Toluse, thank you so much for that discussion. I appreciate it. And the reporting, of course.

[11:49:16] Don't miss too big nights, the CNN presidential debates, live from Detroit. They are coming up next week, only right here on CNN.


BASH: Budget deadline day is fast approaching. White House and congressional negotiators have until Friday to hammer out a deal or, you've seen this before, the government could run out of money before lawmakers return from their summer recess.

Right now, they're looking at a two-year, $1.4 trillion budget and debt plan that's on the table, but nothing is on paper yet.

I want to get straight to CNN congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, who is on the Hill.

Phil, I was joking during the break that this is like Christmas and New Year's and everything wrapped up all in one, that I get to talk to someone who loves the stuff as much as I do.

[11:55:00] Having said that, in all seriousness, this is a big, big number. And this is also a Congress and this is a city that not that long ago was focused on debt reduction, on deficit reduction. What happened to that?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'm sure you still have cold sweats waking up thinking about the 2013 agreement.

BASH: I do.

MATTINGLY: The 2011 agreements when you were walking through these halls every single day.

The reality is, based on the last couple of years, last couple of Congresses, fiscal hawks, at least from a critical mass perspective, have kind of gone into hibernation.

There's also the reality of -- and you've seen this multiple times -- the underpinnings of how these deals come together. The cuts that are in place, automatic mandatory cuts, $126 billion that will take effect in January, were put into place back in 2011 on the grounds of fiscal restraint.

The whole purpose of those cuts was to force people to reach agreements so they wouldn't have to face those cuts. That's where we are right now.

The agreements and the reason why you get these deals passed is because there's a piece of it for everybody. For Republicans, they get an increase in defense spending, which they view as very important. For Democrats, they get the increases or a parity increase in domestic programs as well.

Tied onto that is probably the most urgent portion, which you laid out, and that's the debt ceiling. The new kind of -- the new deadline for the debt ceiling, which was moved up by Treasury based on some projections into early September, has been the trigger for the urgency of these talks.

The deal that's coming together that they're on the verge of would be a two-year budget agreement, two-year debt ceiling agreement. That takes crises off their plate. But in terms of cutting spending, they still have work to do -- Dana?

BASH: Phil Mattingly, thank you so much for that.

And we'll be right back.