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AT THIS HOUR
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) Discusses Tomorrow's Mueller Testimony, Democrats Mock Hearings, Goal to Convince Americans to Support Impeachment, Trump's Comments on Afghanistan War, Joe Biden's Criminal Justice Reform Plan; Trump & Congressional Leaders Reach $1.37 Trillion Budget Deal; Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) Discusses Trump Saying He'll win Minnesota Due to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN); Democratic Caucus Divided Over BDS Movement to Boycott Israel; Boris Johnson Elected New British Prime Minister. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired July 23, 2019 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Is that the entirety of your focus, the second volume?
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Yes.
BASH: Our are you also asking about collusion?
BASS: No, no, no. Our focus is the second volume. And the Intel Committee, the Intelligence Committee will focus on Volume I.
BASH: Of course. Of course.
OK, so last week, Congresswoman, you voted with Al Green on his impeachment resolution.
BASS: Yes. Yes.
BASH: Before that, you had been reluctant to say publicly that you support beginning impeachment proceedings. Given your vote last week, that's changed?
BASS: No. Let me tell you exactly where I am. I have always said that if something comes up on the floor that I would vote for it. I totally recognize that what Al Green did last week was symbolic and I wanted to support his symbolic effort.
But when it comes to actually issuing articles of impeachment, I feel like we have several committees that are still in the midst of an investigation in oversight and that that needs to be completed.
I want to see -- if we move to impeachment, I want to see our leadership and our committee chairs all on the same page.
BASH: I want to turn to another committee that you sit on, Foreign Affairs.
BASS: Sure. BASH: And I want you to listen to what the president said about
Afghanistan during a meeting with the Pakistani leader yesterday at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. It would be one. It would be over in -- literally in 10 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Your reaction?
BASS: You know, I mean, I want to say that at some point I'm going to stop being shocked by what the president says. But I am shocked and horrified, because I don't know what he is implying. I'm not even sure that the president knows where Afghanistan is or what is going on in Afghanistan.
To say that, oh, we could win the war by wiping out 10 million people, not only is it completely irresponsible, but it's embarrassing.
I travel internationally all the time and I'm always put in a position of apologizing because there's no way in the world I am going to go overseas and defend an irresponsible ignorant statement like that.
BASH: Before we go, I want to ask you a question about politics, about 2020. Joe Biden is out today with a new criminal justice reform proposal. He has started to get some endorsements from the Congressional Black Caucus, which you chair. He's had a handful of endorsements.
BASH: Are you ready to throw your support behind him or anybody else?
BASS: No. You know, as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, I have two of our members that are running for president. So I think it would be a little inappropriate.
I'm excited to hear about his proposal around criminal justice reform. It is an extremely important issue for the Congressional Black Caucus. So I'm hoping that he's going to issue some policy statements that we can all get behind.
BASH: OK. Congresswoman Karen Bass, thank you so much for your time. Good luck tomorrow.
BASS: Thank you. Appreciate it.
BASH: Thank you. And still ahead, congressional leaders strike a deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid another government shutdown, but not everybody on Capitol Hill is on board. Details next.
[11:37:45] BASH: There's a deal, a bipartisan deal. Let that sink in for a second. A bipartisan deal with the White House and congressional leaders of both parties. Now, that would be a headline during any time. It is a big one right now during these raw, partisan times, especially on what it's about, which is a thorny issue of government spending.
It's not done yet because there are no votes taken. Leaders in Congress are working right now to get those votes and seal the deal on a $1.37 trillion budget agreement.
The White House and congressional leaders from both parties, as I mention, they reached this tentative two-year deal that would prevent a government shutdown and prevent the government from defaulting also on billions in automatic spending cuts.
I want to get straight to CNN's Phil Mattingly who is all over this.
Phil, obviously, the fact that you have the leaders agreeing on something is rare and noteworthy. Now the question is whether they can get the votes, because, of course, when you have compromise, in any time, you're going to anger people on both sides who didn't get what they want.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSINAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question about it. That's why the sales job starts now. Frankly, it started last night to some degree. And the sales job starts with the fact that all four leaders, the two Republicans in the House and the Senate, two Democrats in the House and the Senate, are behind and signed off on the deal.
Obviously, the president tweeting out the agreement and putting out a statement later in the night saying he wants it to move quickly through Congress is very helpful as well.
But that doesn't end it. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the point person for the administration on these negotiations, will be at a closed-door Senate Republican lunch here in about an hour to present the deal, to walk through the issues.
And make no mistake about it, Dana, you've covered enough of these. You know essentially what occurs here is leaders are trying to thread the needle. You have a $1.37 trillion deal. It increases spending over two years by $320 billion. It suspends the debt ceiling for two years. And it eliminates the budget caps that you and I spent far too much time over the last five or six years covering.
And when you do that, there's enough in the middle, traditionally, to get the requisite number of votes in the House and Senate. But you're going to lose lawmakers in both parties. That's already starting to happen. You see conservatives very angry about the spending. You see some of the folks on the left concerned about the amount of defense spending and the limits that they have in terms of policy riders they can put in the bills.
[11:40:02] Again, the effort is to find the group in the middle and get 60 in the Senate and 218 in the House. Leadership believes they will get there.
But there's no question about it, they've got more work to do before the vows votes on this, likely on Thursday -- Dana?
BASH: And it is in it for everybody in the leadership, from the president to Democratic leaders, to get this off the table as a campaign topic before the next election, which is obviously why this compromise happened in the first place.
Phil, thank you so much for that reporting.
And the Senate has some other important business coming up. We're expecting them to confirm Mark Esper today as President Trump's new secretary of defense. The expectation, we can say that, because it comes from members of the Senate who are talking about the vote count. But we will see the final rally in the next hour when they begin it.
If Esper is, in fact, confirmed, he could be sworn in as soon as this evening. He has been acting defense secretary until last week. He stepped down so he could be formally nominated for the post.
Still ahead, she is a frequent target of President Trump, but now Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is battling members of her own party over a bipartisan bill on boycotts of Israel. That vote is expected to come to the House floor as soon as today. And we'll talk to the Congressman spearheading that new proposal, next.
[11:46:17] BASH: Welcome back.
President Trump is delivering a speech here in Washington, speaking to a group of teenagers. They're at a summit prepared by the group Turning Point.
As part of that speech, he is talking as he did this morning on Twitter about the fact that he believes he's going to win the state of Minnesota because of one of the state's congresswomen, Ilhan Omar, and his battles with her and the things that she is saying about policies across the board. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Your other friend from an incredible state, right? A state that I'm going to win, Minnesota. You know that one, right?
TRUMP: And you know why I'm going to win the state? Because of her. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Just the latest, but maybe a little bit more toned-down attack on not just Omar but her three colleagues known now as the Squad.
Well, having said all of that, tonight, we're looking at the House, because there's an expectation of a vote on a non-binding resolution opposing the so-called BDS movement.
The resolution expresses House opposition to efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel. And the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which is known as BDS, targeting Israel.
It also urges Israelis and Palestinians to begin direct peace negotiations, affirms constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, free speech, supports full implementation of U.S./Israel strategic partnership, the act of 2014, reaffirms support for a negotiated solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.
And about 75 percent of each party in the House is actually co- sponsoring this bill. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are among the Democratic lawmakers who oppose it.
All of this raises questions about divisions on this issue and others in the Democratic caucus.
Joining me now to discuss this is a lead sponsor of the resolution, Congressman Brad Schneider.
So, first, why is this resolution necessary?
REP. BRAD SCHNEIDER (D-IL): First, thank you for having me here and giving me the chance to talk about it.
This is an important resolution. It makes essentially three arguments. One is that the United States supports a safe, secure state of Israel, a Jewish democratic state of Israel and Israel's long-term security.
Second, that the path to long-term security is ultimately through a negotiated two-state solution.
And then, finally, importantly, it condemns the global BDS movement, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, because it opposes two states, it denies the Jewish connection to the land of Israel, and it is seeking to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the state of Israel.
So this resolution bringing the House together -- as you noted, it has almost 350 co-sponsors. Three-quarters of the Democratic and Republican sides support this resolution. And I expect it to pass overwhelmingly tonight.
BASH: So those in your own party, who are not among the co-sponsors, are not only opposed, they're loudly opposed. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are two of them. And Tlaib called it "unconstitutional." She says, "It seeks to silence opposition of Israel's blatantly racist policies that demonize both Palestinians and Ethiopians."
SCHNEIDER: So I actually spoke to her about this. This resolution does nothing of the sort. It does not stop any speech about Israel or anything else. It recognizes the legitimate purpose and just ends of boycotts to our history, but not every boycott is legitimate or just.
BASH: When you spoke to her about it, what did she say/
SCHNEIDER: She disagreed. I don't know if she's read the resolution.
This resolution recognizes the right of Americans to petition their government, to take actions to express their views. But as I was saying, not every -- in particular, this case, BDS, is not either legitimate or just in its effort to delegitimatize the state of Israel, to refuse to Jewish aspiration for a homeland.
[11:50:14] BASH: The House speaker talked about BDS when she spoke to the AIPC, the American-Israel lobbying group back in March. Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We must also be vigilant against bigoted or dangerous ideologies masquerading as policy, and that includes BDS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: I assume you agree with that statement?
SCHNEIDER: One-hundred percent.
BASH: So if BDS is bigoted, are those who support it, your colleagues, bigoted? Or in this case, because we're talking about Jews, anti-Semitic?
SCHNEIDER: Well, I can't speak -- there are a lot of people who support the BDS movement but they may not necessarily understand the intent or the expression of how the BDS movement is actually -- what it's fighting for. The fact that it's not just fighting against the occupation of the West Bank or Gaza, it denies Israel's connection to the land going back to 1948.
BASH: But you said you explained that to your colleague, Rashida Tlaib.
SCHNEIDER: I have. And she has her narrative and she has her experience. Unless --
BASH: But you don't take it a step further and say that -- a lot of people who are looking at the opponents and listening to the opponents, who very much support this resolution because they think BDS is anti-Semitic, they are ascribing anti-Semitism to these lawmakers, your colleagues. Do you agree?
SCHNEIDER: I'm not going to subscribe it necessarily to the supporters. But the movement itself, its intent, its goals are anti- Semitic in intent. The expression of BDS, what we see on college campuses, the intent to create harassment, hostile environments for supporters of Israel on college campuses, to make it difficult for companies that are doing business with Israel in the United States and around the world, that is, by its very nature, anti-Semitic.
The movement itself has anti-Semitic means, uses anti-Semitic means. That's why it's important tonight that we're going to have more than 75 percent of the House co-sponsoring a resolution condemning the global BDS movement.
BASH: I don't want to beat this anymore, but how does -- if somebody supports a movement that you just clearly laid out you believe has anti-Semitic means and is an anti-Semitic movement, how do you make -- how do you disconnect or separate the people who support it from the movement itself?
SCHNEIDER: Very simply, the fact that they support this movement, I believe they have an understanding of what they believe the movement does without fully understanding the impact of it.
BASH: OK, last question. The congresswoman I was just talking about, Omar, Tlaib and even John Lewis are pushing an alternative resolution, as you know. They're trying to get a vote on, a resolution that says people should have the right to protest. What do you think of that?
SCHNEIDER: I don't think it's an alternative. I think it's a parallel. It supports peoples' right to protect.
BASH: So you would support that?
SCHNEIDER: This resolution clearly states and recognizes people's right to protest, recognizes that boycotts have had a role in American history and making changes around the world.
But the global BDS movement doesn't have a legitimate purpose. It doesn't seek a just end. It seeks the destruction of the state of Israel.
When they chant, "BDS programs from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," that is not a call for peace of two states. That's a call for the destruction of the state of Israel and the elimination of the Jewish people from the land. That is anti-Semitic. That is unjust.
BASH: Congressman Brad Schneider, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
SCHNEIDER: Thank you. It was good to be here.
BASH: Thank you.
Still to come, Boris Johnson gets the nod to become the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. And the key question is whether he can lead the country through Brexit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:57:25] BASH: Breaking news. Britain has chosen a new prime minister. Boris Johnson, the Brexit-backing hard-liner, easily won the Conservative Party leadership vote this morning and he will officially take over from Theresa May tomorrow.
President Trump tweeting out his congratulations to Johnson saying, "He will be great."
The incoming prime minister has promised to lead Britain out of the European Union, deal or no deal, by October 31st.
In his victory speech a short time ago, he had a message for the doubters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, NEWLY ELECTED BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I know some have already pointed out that deliver, unite and defeat was not the perfect acronym for an election campaign --
JOHNSON: -- since, unfortunately, it spells dud.
JOHNSON: But they forgot the final "E," my friends, "E" for energize.
JOHNSON: And I say to all the doubters, dude --
JOHNSON: -- we are going to energize and country. We are going to get Brexit done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Let's get straight to CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, standing right outside 10 Downing Street where Boris Johnson will move in, I guess, tomorrow.
Nic, what are you hearing there about this major shift? Maybe not a major surprise but a big shift this morning there.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think what we're being guided by the people around Boris Johnson is to expect sort of a sea change in the way -- sort of the atmosphere around 10 Downing Street, around the way things are done.
I think there was another "E" there that Boris Johnson has, not just the energy, but he sort of has the mantle now of entertainer in chief as well. This is his spirit. This is the way that he wants to up the optimism in the country.
Of course, thin on detail about how he's actually going to deliver the things he needs to deliver, this potentially hard Brexit. He'll have to replace members of his cabinet.
He's got the pressing issue of sanctions with Iran right now.
He will also need to sort of look to some of the social health care issues in the country in case there's a speedy general election, which people are talking about already.
However, how it will change. You know, just the general persona of Boris Johnson as we saw today changes. Theresa May, quite stiff. She earned the nickname the Maybot. Boris Johnson quite different. Shambolic, some would say. But let's see.
I think that's where the country is at the moment, let's see what he can do.
BASH: Could not be more different. Of course, he has a good relationship with the president but he's not been afraid to criticize him in the past couple of years.
Nic Robertson, thank you so much.
Thank you for joining me.
"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.