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Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) is Interviewed About House Dems Backing Impeachment Inquiry, and Visits to Southern Border. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired August 2, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] SETH MEYERS, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: Snaps, murders them, and spends a decade in prison.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you to your international viewers for watching. For you CNN Newsroom and Max Foster is next. For our U.S. viewers, we have some major breaking international stories, so let's get to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, August 2, 8:00 now in the east. And we do begin with this breaking news because the U.S. has formally pulled out of one history's most significant nuclear agreements. The cold war era INF treaty with Russia banned intermediate range missiles. It was signed by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev more than 30 years ago. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo now says that Russia's noncompliance has led to the demise of it.

Also breaking this morning, big developments in America's longest running war. CNN has learned that the U.S. is preparing for a troop reduction in Afghanistan, hoping to bring back thousands of service members in the coming months. Sources tell CNN the Trump administration has also began scaling back personnel at the U.S. embarrass in Afghanistan. CNN's Kylie Atwood broke the story. She's live in the Washington with all of the details. Kylie, what have you learned?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, good morning. That's right. Today the INF treaty after more than 30 years is officially dead. Secretary Pompeo announcing that the U.S. after warning Russia six months ago that they would be getting out of the treaty if Russia did not come back into compliance with the deal, the U.S. has now exited because Russia has not come back into compliance. They have been violating this deal for years now. They have deployed these missile systems that are a violation of the deal, and now the U.S. is going to be developing its own types of missiles to be in a space where they can compete with Russia on this front. They will also be testing those missiles in the coming weeks, U.S. department of defense officials tell us. The State Department is also saying that this is Russia's fault

because they have not been in compliance. The question now is will there be some sort of war with Russia in terms of building up of these arms? And that is the major question here. Now, a U.S. senior official is telling CNN they don't see this as a provocative move, that the U.S. is going to be testing these missiles. And that's because they're going to be testing conventional missiles which they are now allowed to develop because the deal is over.

The other story that we are covering this morning, John, is the fact the U.S. is pulling down its personnel at the Afghanistan embassy. That is the largest U.S. embassy in the world. And the Trump administration is hoping that they can cut the footprint there, the personnel, by 50 percent by the end of September. Now, the State Department told me that they are acknowledging this plan is in place, that this withdraw is happening. And they're saying that it's not a haircut move. They are not going across all sections and just taking people out. In fact, they're making a productive decision here in trying to maintain what they can. This comes as there's a possibility of also cutting U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 8,000 to 9,000 from the current levels of about 14,000. John?

BERMAN: Kylie, thank you very much for giving us that breaking news and your work on it overnight. We really appreciate it.

Joining us this morning, Wajahat Ali, CNN contributor and contributing op-ed writer for "The New York Times," Susan Glasser, CNN global affairs analyst and staff writer for "The New Yorker," and Wes Lowery, a CNN contributor and national reporter for "The Washington Post."

And Susan I want to begin with you on the INF treaty. This ban destroyed, frankly, missiles with a range of up to 3,400 miles, seen as one of the most successful, for a time, nuclear treaties ever, historic to say the least. Now, there are bipartisan feelings that it's ineffective at this point because Russia was already violating it and China not onboard. However, it is significant as of now it's dead. And the other part of that is, if Donald Trump is working on his personal relationship with Vladimir Putin, what is he getting out of it if Putin has all of a sudden or has been violating treaties with no consequence?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Look, there's a lot to unpack here. This has been with us since 1987, so it is a major disruption, I would say, in the world order. It particularly makes our allies in Europe nervous because, remember, the name of this treaty was intermediate range nuclear missiles. And so the ones who would potentially be at direct risk are Europeans, like those in Germany, for example. So those have been the people who have been the most vociferous on not wanting the treaty to collapse. We have blamed it on Russia. We have said since the Obama administration they've been violating this treaty.

There are couple of things looking ahead I think that make experts about this very nervous. Number one, an even bigger deal, the new START treaty is set to expire in 2021. [08:05:04] There are no active negotiations at this moment to talk

about renewing it or even extending it for five years, which we could do without a formal vote in Congress. John Bolton, the national security adviser, is a noted arms control skeptic. He has said that he's not interested and doesn't think the United States will extend that. And if that was allowed to expire, you'd be in a situation really for the first time since the beginning of the cold war that we did not have any major arms control framework between the United States and Russia. So I think that's something to really keep your eye on, number one.

Number two, of course, is the question of China, and are we moving away from a kind of U.S.-Russia centric cold war era, nuclear era, and towards a more chaotic multiplayer world. The United States has said that one of its goals in letting the INF go away would be to create a new treaty that would involve China as well as Russia. The Chinese have said they're not interested. And so to me it's just a riskier moment in the world.

CAMEROTA: Wajahat, I see you nodding throughout Susan talking. And so the fear of course is this sparks a new arms race. So how unsettled should Americans waking up right now feel.

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Very unsettled, because we went from disarmament to a potential arms race. And what Susan said was on point. Now if you're Vladimir Putin, you're going to be smiling, because he's like, yes, this is what I wanted. I'm out of it. I'm going to be aggressively stockpiling weapons. Russia is going to be resurgent. China was never part of the treaty, does not want to be a part of the treaty. They're going to be aggressive. They want their hegemony over the region. The United States, especially with warmongers such as John Bolton are very happy. It's great for the military industrial complex, it's great for warmonger, it's great for nuclear weapons. It is not good for the stability and security of the world.

And you also have Donald Trump, the man who is going to be heading it. So it reminds of a scene of Dr. Strangelove towards the end where Major Kong is riding the weapon, taking out his cowboy saying wee-ha. And I said that at 8:00 a.m. in front of the world audience right now, but that's what it reminds me of. It makes me very nervous. In all seriousness it should make everyone very nervous because that treaty in 1987 was historic. It wiped out an entire class of nuclear weapons, thousands of missiles. And now we are looking at a potential arms race, China, Russia, the United States.

BERMAN: And again, just to be clear, the argument that some people on both sides are making is that Russia was already violating it, so doing away with the treaty in effect just allows the United States to acknowledge what is already a reality. But I take your policy.

I want to talk electoral politics if I can, Wes. We just heard Harry Enten give us the numbers behind some of the questioning of Barack Obama's record that happened in the Democratic presidential debates this week. You had Julian Castro doing it. You had Bill de Blasio doing it, and you have by implication many of the Democrats doing it when it comes to health care. And Harry made the case at least from a data driven perspective it's risky because Barack Obama is as popular as you can get among Democratic voters, even more popular among African-American voters. So why at this point, Wes?

WES LOWERY, NATIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Certainly. I think that Barack Obama is the most popular Democratic candidate or figure of our lifetime, and that seems very unlikely to change, perhaps only if Michelle Obama writes another book and in fact surpasses him. That's the only shot that someone will be more popular in the Democratic Party that Barack Obama is Michelle.

That said, I do think that sometimes there's a little bit of risk in oversimplifying how that works. I remember covering the midterm elections in 2014, later on in 2018. But back in 2014 the sense was the Democrats are going to try to take -- trying to hold onto the time, the Senate, and try to take back the House by campaigning on Barack Obama's legacy. He was in North Carolina. He was in Missouri. He was in all these states arguing that I need you to show up at this midterm election for me. And the argument was Barack Obama is remarkably popular, that's it was going to be about his legacy. And guess what happens. Republicans take the Senate and it completely changes the end of Barack Obama's time as president.

So I do think that while it's a questionably true the former president is an extremely popular among Democratic politics, and that many of the people who support Joe Biden support him because of that relationship with Barack Obama and they see him as an extension or potential extension of Barack Obama's legacy, you can love someone and not think they're above critique.

And I also think at this point with so many new and different young candidates, there's a stylistic and tonal choice. I don't know that anyone really knows the answer. Do you run on saying let's go back to what was going on half a decade? Or do you lay out your own vision moving forward? And that investigation might include having learned some lessons in the last five years. So I do think there is room for Democrats to critique Obama and his legacy even as he remains a very popular figure. I think Barack Obama today might have some thoughts for Barack Obama four years ago.

[08:10:06] CAMEROTA: One person who had a lot of thoughts, who thought it was a dumb idea what Democrats did, was President Trump. And you know he prices himself on his T.V. punditry, Susan, so here were his thoughts after watching the debates.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was watching the so-called debate last night.


TRUMP: And I also watched the night before. That was long, long television. And the Democrats spent more time attacking Barack Obama than they did attacking me practically.


CAMEROTA: And then he laid out on a list of things they could attack him on. No, just kidding. So Susan, what did you think of the strategy?

GLASSER: Well, as far as President Trump's commenting on it, this is the sort of blessing and a curse of a showman president, right? We're left with him narrating essentially the events that he's also directing for at least four years. And so this is one more striking aspect of it.

I thought Harry gave a very jolting wakeup performance actually. Those numbers are very compelling, because I think the point -- I agree with Wes, but the point is that there's a policy question about this strategy of pulling the party away from the Obama legacy as well as the sheer popularity question. While it's true that you need a new generation of leaders, the thing that's dramatic to me is how quickly Democrats have moved on from Obamacare and talked about Medicare for all as if it wasn't an enormous struggle even to pass Obamacare. The political reality is not going to just suddenly transform itself so dramatically in the United States you're going to forget about the 50 percent of the country that's Republican and that doesn't support not only Medicare for all but any kind of dramatic expansion.

So the politics of it make most of these ideas impossible as well as the question of the enormous personal popularity that former president Obama has.

BERMAN: We just got a little bit of news here, which that the Amy Klobuchar and the Klobuchar campaign has said she qualified for the September debates, which means --

CAMEROTA: Now eight.

BERMAN: Eight total. There we go. There are those who qualify this debate. It means she's raised money from 130,000 different people, and she's at two percent in four or more polls. So eight, perhaps and counting at this point. I don't know if you're going to get the smaller debate stage that so many people have been calling for here, Wajahat.

ALI: Eight is better than, what is it, 432 candidates that are running right now. And I'd much rather Senator Klobuchar than Marianne Williamson, right, because Senator Klobuchar, even though she's polling around one, two percent, is a very sober candidate. If you saw her debate performance, she didn't go negative. He has been very consistent on message. She says she can win in the Midwest.

And also I want to give Senator Klobuchar credit because she has made a commitment every day to call out Moscow Mitch. That is a name given to Mitch McConnell by Joe Scarborough. She says we have to get to the bottom of Russia's interference. And why is Mitch McConnell holding up this bipartisan bill to protect our election. So Senator Klobuchar compared to some other candidates is a very serious candidate. I'm happy to see her as part of the gang of eight right now, which will most likely be 10. Let's pray to God it doesn't go to 11 so we have to endure two more nights and stay up to 11:00 for these three hour marathons where we have to endure Marianne Williamson, who is fantastic with her memes, but I'd rather see these Democratic candidates winnow down to about six or seven who will be the most realistic candidates to take on Donald Trump in 2020.

CAMEROTA: Marianne Williamson is not going to be happy with you.

ALI: That's OK.

CAMEROTA: That is not the message she's hoping for. Wajahat, Susan, Wes, thank you.

BERMAN: And I will note, there are a lot of people who did take her performance and say it jumped out. David Brooks wrote a whole column about Marianne Williamson. So there are people who have a different view than the one you just heard.

CAMEROTA: There you go.

Democrats in the House very close to reaching a milestone that adds pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So we'll speak to a Democrat who now supports starting impeachment proceedings, next.


[08:18:32] BERMAN: All right. New developments this morning. By CNN's count, 117 House Democrats are now calling for the beginning of an impeachment inquiry.

Why is that number important? Well, 118 would mean that a majority of Democrats in the House want this inquiry.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski. He is one of the 117 Democrats calling now for an impeachment inquiry, a relative new member of that group. And the congressman does join me from El Paso, where he has visited the border, and we'll get to that in just a minute here.

Congressman, if and when, because I think it's a matter of when that number reaches 118, and a majority of you and your fellow House members from the Democratic Party want an impeachment inquiry, what do you think Nancy Pelosi will do?

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): Well, I actually don't think it's quite as important as you make it sound, because as far as I'm concerned, an impeachment inquiry has already begun. The Judiciary Committee has made clear that they are seeking documents and witnesses for the purpose of conducting an impeachment inquiry. So that's what I called for and many others called for a while ago and it's happening.

BERMAN: You do not think it is necessary for the House to vote for a full inquiry?

MALINOWSKI: No, the inquiry is being conducted by the Judiciary Committee and the chairman has said that it's begun. There are many ways to do this. [08:20:00] The House can determine on our own how we do it. So, as

far as I'm concerned what I called for is happening.

BERMAN: So, again, just to be clear, you're right. There's no constitutional requirement that the full House vote to begin an impeachment inquiry. There's no requirement the House Judiciary vote to begin an inquiry. The House Judiciary chair may be able to just say it's happening. Maybe. It's unclear.

What matters is what the courts think. And if the courts treat it any differently when deciding what information will be provided to Congress, are you confident that the courts will give the Judiciary Committee what they're asking for?

MALINOWSKI: I believe that the courts will defer to the House when it comes to defining what an impeachment inquiry is. And even if there wasn't an informal inquiry, I think most of the requests we've made are obviously reasonable.

These are legally binding subpoenas we've issued to witnesses and you cannot have a president, Democrat or Republican under any circumstances say that nobody can respect their congressional subpoena. It's just patently ridiculous. So I always thought we would prevail in the courts, and I think making clear that this is part of an impeachment inquiry can only help.

BERMAN: OK. So, you -- just to be crystal clear, you think the inquiry is on at this point?

MALINOWSKI: I -- absolutely. The Judiciary Committee has said that it's conducting such an inquiry, and therefore it is.

BERMAN: And no vote in the committee, no vote in the entire House? You don't think it's important and you're not asking for it?

MALINOWSKI: There's -- I think there's clearly a consensus on the committee this is the case. It's not just the chairman. The leadership understands this. There's not a huge dispute in the House about where we are right now.

BERMAN: All right, Congressman, you're at the border. You're at El Paso and you have visited with officials over the last few days.

I know the issue of asylum is particularly important to you and the issue of refugees is important to you. You were born in Poland. You came to the United States as a young child with your mother.

What have you heard and what have you seen with your own eyes at the border?

MALINOWSKI: So, the misery that we were seeing in these detention facilities has eased quite a bit, but that's because we have pushed the misery back to Mexico. The administration is following a policy now that if you cross the border legally, to ask for asylum, you're immediately pushed back to Mexico to wait for weeks or months for your number to be called and then when it's called and you're given that interview and you pass that interview, you're pushed back again.

And what this has done is actually create a bigger incentive for desperate people who are waiting month after month in Mexico where we basically washed our hands of them, a bigger incentive to pay somebody to help them to cross illegally. And we're seeing the border patrol confirmed this to us yesterday, the current policy is actually pushing more migrants to make that dangerous illegal crossing between points of entry.

BERMAN: So you're saying by making asylum harder, you're actually increasing a certain type or the danger of border crossings?

MALINOWSKI: It's absolutely happening, yes. And the border patrol confirmed that to us yesterday.

Look, the administration will say -- well, we want everybody to follow the law. If you want to apply for asylum in America go to a point of entry and ask for it lawfully. But they're actually punishing people for doing that right now.

If you follow the law, you are immediately sent back to Mexico where there are not enough shelter beds, where the United States is doing absolutely nothing to help the Mexican government take care of these people. And they become easier prey for the smugglers and traffickers who give them another way to come here.

And look, this is -- we had a statement recently that came out from Stephen Miller who as you know is running this policy at the White House. He said, quote, my mantra is to create as many unsolvable dilemmas for these migrants as possible so that they never make the journey.

So, basically, the policy is cruelty at every stage, whether it's separating families which is still happening, by the way, in a different guise. We're just making it impossible to apply for asylum in the hopes that people will be deterred from coming, but they're still coming.

BERMAN: I do want to ask you, Congressman --

MALINOWSKI: The cruelty doesn't work and it's not who we are.

BERMAN: I do want to ask you. You're on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and you work in the State Department. We learned overnight CNN did they're drawing down diplomatic personnel in Afghanistan. "The Washington Post" reports that the United States and Trump administration wants to reduce the troop number in Afghanistan to some 8,000 and may be very close to a deal with the Taliban to do so.

[08:25:06] Are you in favor of that?

MALINOWSKI: I'm in favor of diplomacy, but I think giving the concession of withdrawing troops before we have a deal between the Afghan government, which we have supported all these years and the Taliban is a mistake. I don't trust the Taliban to stop supporting terrorism just because they say so. I certainly don't trust them to treat women right or to respect the Afghan Constitution, all these things our troops have sacrificed so much for.

And so, for the president to simply give them the concession that they demand, which was a U.S. troop withdrawal, before we see them actually keeping their promises, it is a terrible idea that we will regret.

BERMAN: Congressman Tom Malinowski from New Jersey -- thank you very much for joining us this morning.



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