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INSIDE POLITICS

Judiciary CMTE. Seeking Grand Jury Info from Mueller Report; Harris Unveils New Policies Aimed At Helping Minorities; Biden Dominates Democratic Field in New Polls; Pete Buttigieg Unveils Economic Plan Ahead of CNN Debates. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 26, 2019 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00] REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): -- what to do about them which could include articles in impeachment, and we filed that with the court and we told that to the court and we're going to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe that you are already at that point of an inquiry? Do you believe what the Judiciary Committee is doing right now is an inquiry into impeachment?

NADLER: We are doing exactly what I said a moment ago we are doing, and that is to say we are examining and investigating the various malfeasances and crimes and so forth of the president. We will reach -- we are going into court and asking for more information and to enforce our subpoenas. We are telling the court that we are doing this not just as part of normal oversight but also because it's part of our Article 1 authority and responsibility to consider all remedies, including the possibility of articles of impeachment, and that's what we're going to do.

Now, whether you call that an inquiry or whatever you want to call that, that's what we've been doing and we are doing and will continue to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman, a court battle could take a little bit of time. Do you have a deadline? Even if it's expedited it could take a while. Do you have a deadline in your mind as to when you all will make this decision? And would you --

NADLER: Well, first of all, this is not my decision, a lot of decisions and, no, I don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nadler, you mentioned the idea of having the strongest possible case before you go to court. But isn't the strongest possible case to get material being in an impeachment inquiry?

NADLER: The strongest possible case is to tell the court what we're telling the court, which you'll see in the -- I think we're going give you copies of the court filings and I quoted part of the relevant paragraph. And that is what we are -- I'll read it again. The House must have access to all relevant facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article 1 powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity, recommendation of articles of impeachment that falls in the first instance to the House Committee of the Judiciary. What we are telling the court, and this is -- and one of the purposes of telling the court is to say we are exercising the highest authority is that we are considering the malfeasances of the president, we are considering what remedies we can do, including the possibility of articles of impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman, in your opening --

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: There is Chairman Jerry Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee flanked by some of his members, all of whom actually are for opening an impeachment inquiry. We're going to bring it back to the table here.

One of the things that struck me about this was this was in some ways an attempt to sort of rehabilitate Robert Mueller's testimony. You had Nadler there opened up by saying just because he seemed older didn't diminish the work and what he presented there. What did you make of that, Seung Min?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought that was a really interesting line and it caught my attention right away. There was another one of his members who also said don't kind of look at how Mueller was saying this, look at the substance of the report and the conduct of the Trump administration because I think that is what -- that is something that had gotten lost a little bit after the Mueller hearing. I think a lot of us were struck by just how a little uneven the special counsel seemed which was something else that we focused on.

So I think they're trying to steer it back to the substance. They're trying to steer it back to the fact that, look, the special counsel did say specifically that the president was not exonerated. He confirmed a lot of parts of his report and they just want to bring it back to the substance and not the style.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But I also think it was extremely significant that the chairman kept on referring to using our full Article 1 powers and that that language is actually in this lawsuit that's being filed today. Article 1 is the article of the constitution that gives the House the power to impeach the president. So even though he side-stepped my colleagues and another reporter's question about whether Nadler believes that in effect the Judiciary Committee is already in an impeachment inquiry, that is essentially the case that he's making without outright saying it.

HENDERSON: Yes, when the question came up, he kind of looked around.

DAVIS: Anyone else wants to take that one? But that is essentially the case that he's making without coming out directly and saying it.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: And we also know -- Politico reported on Wednesday that Nadler in a closed- door meeting was urging Pelosi and others to pursue impeachment proceedings and to get the ball rolling. So he is toeing this fine line right now because he knows -- he's close with Pelosi, he knows that he doesn't want to overstep and go around her. But he very much -- and all those members that were standing behind him support impeachment.

HENDERSON: And he made it clear there in his statement, he said, listen, Pelosi basically wants to hold the president accountable too and she supports all the work of this committee. Basically to the point that you're making there.

Catherine, what did you make of Jerry Nadler there and the comments from members of his committee? They made it clear that the work, even though they're going on recess, the work is going to continue.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Yes, they were very clear that this continues. They are looking for more materials. I mean, this is an escalation of the process, even though they are still trying to say we're still looking at this, nothing has been decided.

[12:35:05] And, you know, I'm sure we will hear soon from the president on this. He has been very quick to respond when he feels like he's being pushed on this impeachment issue.

HENDERSON: Yes, we heard from him last night obviously. We know it's Hannity misrepresenting actually what came out of the hearings, but I'm sure we'll hear more from him on Twitter.

Up next, Kamala Harris unveils two policies aimed at helping minorities, but new polls indicate she has some work to do to expand her support.

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[12:40:06] HENDERSON: Kamala Harris is rolling out two big policy proposals today, both aimed at African-Americans. The California Democrat wants $60 billion to be invested in STEM education at historically black colleges. She's also calling on Congress to funnel $12 billion to go towards helping minority-run small businesses.

These are just the latest proposals Harris has unveiled as part of her, quote, black agenda. Though notably, the campaign would not signal to CNN how exactly they'd be paid for. Here's how she described her vision at a speech before the National Urban League just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going from when the doors to many of our country's prestigious colleges and professions were being closed to our community and to the new investments that educate the next generation of black leaders. We're going from redlining to real opportunity for homeownership. We're going from being excluded from the first industrial revolution to propelling the next one.

And Urban League, let's be clear, by taking these challenges on, we don't just move black America forward, all of America moves forward. All of America will benefit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: And Laura, this is just a small part of her black agenda. She's rolled out any number of other policy initiatives around her black agenda, including combatting maternal mortality and healthcare bias, decriminalizing marijuana, and expunging past drug-related convictions, increasing diversity in STEM education. Just part of what -- this initiative is.

Today -- and this something she has focused on. We haven't necessarily seen it show up in the polls in terms of how she's doing with African-Americans and other minorities, but it's a clear focus of hers.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes, we've seen more attention being devoted to her since the debates but this has been a central theme of her campaign from the beginning months ago, early on this year. A speech that she gave in Michigan, she very much hit back against the electability question, back against the fact that, oh, there isn't enough attention being paid to black and brown voters and saying pretty much in a way subtly then taking jabs at candidacies like Biden's which is much more focused on not overtly talking about race and focusing on the Midwest and other voters that -- white rural voters that flipped to Trump last time.

So, her candidacy as well as Warren's, they're very much trying to aggressively talk about black and brown voters and how their policies would specifically help them because they think that will be successful.

HENDERSON: And one of the trends you saw in 2016 was a real dip in terms of African-American turnout. It was down -- the rate of African-American turnout, which had been at historic levels with Obama, dropped about seven percentage points in 2016. A lot of African-American voters in those states that Trump ended up winning, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, some of them didn't show up.

LUCEY: Absolutely. I mean, you have voters in -- if you look at Philadelphia, at Detroit, at Milwaukee, they did not see the same kind of turnout as they did under Obama. And I think that's one of the questions going into this as Democrats try to figure out the best way to build a winning coalition. Can you boost those numbers? Can you get them up as President Trump is also making a play for African- American voters? We've heard him talking about the criminal justice legislation that he's backed. Other --

HENDERSON: Asap Rocky.

LUCEY: Yes, and other efforts. But if you are on his side, there is an argument that if this is an election won on the margins, then you'll making those kinds of appeals, you know, you're getting a percent or two, you could matter.

HENDERSON: And you see this fight between Biden and Booker too which also seems to be over African-American voters centered on criminal justice reform. A lot of the polls still showing Biden with a pretty commanding lead. There was a Fox News poll, he's at 33 percent, the rest of the field essentially half of that. Bernie Sanders, 15 percent, Cory Booker at two percent, but they have been going at it.

KIM: Well, Booker really needs to be able to grab some attention considering his standing in the polls there. He's certainly going to have a chance to do that next week when he will be with the former vice president at the debate. Criminal justice -- the criminal justice reform is really a fascinating, you know, fault line for a lot of these Democrats because we've seen how the former vice president had come under so much criticism for his role in the '94 crime bill. And the fact that this and also healthcare to a similar extent are the ones where he really -- are the issues that have really prompted Biden to punch back at a lot of his Democratic opponents.

You know, he's been singling out Bernie Sanders, a little bit of hints at Kamala Harris over healthcare and their push for a Medicare for All system. And definitely on criminal justice reform with Booker, you know, you could argue that if, you know, once Booker punched, he had to kind of punch back. But it will be really interesting to see those contrasts.

And going back to Catherine's point, criminal justice reform is an actual area where President Trump does have an accomplishment to run on.

[12:45:04] I mean, last week, the Justice Department announced that more than 3,000 people have been released under the First Step Act. So it will be really interesting to see that matchup in a general election and how that issue plays out.

HENDERSON: And Biden obviously just rolling out his criminal justice reform plan because that is going dog him. And we'll see the debate next week.

Democratic Candidate Andrew Yang is setting his crosshairs on someone other than Joe Biden. He's tweeting, "I would like to signal to the press that I will be attacking Michael Bennet at next week's debate. Sorry, Michael Bennet but you know what you did."

Apparently, it's about math which is kind of boring but, oh well. You can check Senator Bennet's Twitter feed for more on that. And you can see both of them go at it, I guess, at CNN's Democratic presidential debates. Two big nights, 10 candidates each night. Tuesday and Wednesday night at 8 Eastern, live from Detroit only on CNN.

And before we go to break, a little battle of the sexes 2020 edition. Listen to the songs that the campaign chose to have their candidates walk off stage to at the National Urban League Conference. Did the women have a little more fun with their options? I think they did.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:51:24] MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We were promised a rising tide that would lift all boats. Sure enough, GDP went up, businesses boomed, the stock market grew over decades but our paychecks didn't show it. Our incomes have basically stayed flat. That is why today I'm sharing a plan that fights to get Americans the pay raise we deserve.

Does America deserve a raise?

CROWD: Yes!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: That's Mayor Pete Buttigieg making his pitch to voters on the economy ahead of the CNN debates. The 2020 candidate directly takes on big tech companies like Google, Uber, and Lyft while putting labor unions front and center.

Vanessa Yurkevich, she's covering Buttigieg campaign for CNN. Vanessa, lay out exactly what Mayor Pete is trying to do with this new plan.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER: Hi, Nia. Well, he's really trying to put workers' rights front and center as well as put big tech companies in the hot seat. Now, this plan is very comprehensive. I just want to know a couple of highlights from the plan for people to take note of.

It guarantees all American workers the right to join a union, introduces multimillion-dollar penalties for employer interference in union elections and workers' rights, and it allows workers to collectively bargain with their direct parent companies. And as you mentioned, in that plan he names three big tech companies, Uber, Lyft, and Google. These companies employ contracted workers more in favor of full-time employees. So those contracted independent workers don't get the same rights and benefits as full-time workers. Pete Buttigieg under this plan wants to allow those independent workers to unionize and collective bargain.

Now, I asked him last night in an exclusive phone interview I had with him ahead of this rollout, is he really willing to take on big tech. And he said, yes, he was. Also, Nia, of interest, his big fundraising of this quarter, this is the second quarter, about $25 million, a lot of that money came from Silicon Valley. A lot of the people he raised money from were these Silicon Valley executives. And now he is rolling out this proposal aimed directly at them.

Nia?

HENDERSON: Yes, that's really interesting there. Vanessa thanks for that report.

And we'll bring it to the table here. We've got about 90 seconds. Julie, what do you make of this? He talked about the idea that he's been able to raise this money but still hasn't gained much traction with voters. He's about five percent I think in the latest polls I've seen.

DAVIS: Right. If only his dollars could be actual poll numbers. You know, I think it's pretty clear here. I mean, he said from the outset that he wanted to try to appeal to these voters that are not have left the Democratic Party and essentially Democrats know they have to appeal to the white working class, you know, and become again what in many places they are no longer which is the party of unions, the part of working people.

And so I think this plan is clearly focused on trying to really win over those voters at a time when President Trump is trying to tout the economy and his, you know, his popularity with working people as a selling point. And so I think he's really trying to focus in on that group of voters that Democrats have had a little bit of trouble attracting in the last cycle.

HENDERSON: And going after big tech also a theme in this Democratic primary, primarily I think from somebody like Elizabeth Warren, who's made that a centerpiece of her campaign.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes, she's been very aggressive about that. Sanders as well has talked extensively about that. And again, I think we're seeing from Buttigieg's effort to try to catch up in a way because he has been slow to release these very detailed policy plans which was a criticism early on of him. And now as they're getting into these debates, and he's very much likely going to make the fall debate. He has to start putting more meat on the bones.

[12:55:04] HENDERSON: And he's probably going to make a lot of the debates because of his fundraising numbers. He's going to probably be able to stay in this thing.

LUCEY: Yes, he certainly moved into this sort of upper tier of candidates at this point. But I think in terms of, you know, targeting voters in these states, targeting union voters, he's got competition there. A number of other candidates in this primary are really -- I mean, most notably obviously Joe Biden but also Bernie Sanders. There are lots of people really trying to make a play for those voters that are seen as, you know, kind of key people that strayed from the Democratic Party in the last election.

HENDERSON: Yes, and we'll see what he does in next week's debate. Tuesday and Wednesday next week in Detroit, of course, on CNN.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. John King is back here Sunday morning at 8 a.m. Eastern. Brianna Keilar starts after a quick break.

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