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Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) Discusses Impeachment, Military Members Staying at Trump Resort; Michael Flynn Ignoring House Intel Committee Subpoena; Democrats, Mayors Demand Trump Take Action on Guns; McCabe Responds to Reported E-mails about Negative Press; Democratic Presidential Candidate John Delaney Discusses the Next Debate, Concerns If Top-3 Poll Leaders Can Beat Trump. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 9, 2019 - 13:30   ET



REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Well, thanks for having me on.

You know, when I was home for the summer recess, I thought that people really understood the difference and they actually want an investigation to happen to expose wrongdoing.

For instance, when they see the president profiting off of government taxpayer dollars, for instance, with the military, potentially having members of the military stay at his resorts. That's something that really bothers people.

Even at the same time, they want us to do their business such as trying to lower prescription drug prices or enacting common-sense gun control measures.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Do you think that an impeachment inquiry inevitably leads to impeachment?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: No, not necessarily. I think the impeachment inquiry is meant to surface as much evidence as possible so we can make an informed decision and, therefore, I think it's only appropriate that the committee have the powers to do so right now.

KEILAR: The majority of Americans don't support impeaching the president. What do you say to opponents of Trump who fear that impeachment, and knowing -- you know this -- there are not many people who do not make the distinction?

If you move forward with an impeachment inquiry, the president will highlight that as impeachment. These critics of Trump say, look, you do that, and you're actually going to help get him reelected. What do you say to those folks?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I say the people that I speak with actually understand the difference, but in any case, this is the right thing to do. This is something that I struggled with in terms of whether to move

forward with an impeachment inquiry. But the evidence of wrongdoing was so staggering that we had to -- at least I decided I had to support a formal impeachment investigation or inquiry to basically determine whether or not there's evidence to support an impeachment process beyond that.

KEILAR: The House Intel Committee, which you sit on --


KEILAR: -- is now commanding that Michael Flynn appear before Congress this month, accusing him of ignoring a subpoena. What do you want to learn from him?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: As you know, Michael Flynn was not only a part of the Trump campaign but he was also part of the Trump transition period, and he has a lot of information with regard to a number of issues.

For instance, what are the counterintelligence risks associated with the linkages between Trump campaign officials and Russia?

You know, one of the things that has been unanswered in this whole Mueller investigation is, even if those linkages did not amount to criminal conspiracy, did they present risks?

And was there information involved that, if it was exposed, it would embarrass parties here or officials of the administration if the Russians were to try to use it to their advantage and leverage or exploit that information.

KEILAR: You are also on the Oversight Committee.


KEILAR: The committee is looking into increased military spending at the president's Turnberry resort in Scotland, and now the Air Force says it's looking into all international layover stays after a controversial visit there by servicemembers. How big a deal is this?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: It's a big deal. For two reasons. One, the Constitution, and specifically what's called the domestic Emoluments Clause, prohibits the president from benefiting financially from the federal government, aside from his salary, OK? He's not allowed to take any compensation apart from his salary.

However, if the military is spending money at these resorts for layovers for their service people, that money goes into the pockets of the Trump Organization.

As you know, the Trump president has not divested himself of the assets of the Trump Organization. So that's a big problem.

KEILAR: So even to you, even if this is a cheaper option, which is what the Air Force says? That stands, and this is still a problem, as you see it? KRISHNAMOORTHI: Oh, absolutely. It's constitutionally a problem but

it's also an appearance problem.

The military is one of the more respected organizations in America, as it should be. When this type of appearance of a conflict of interest, or an actual conflict of interest exists, it, in part, tarnishes that respect that we have for the military. And that's something that we have to hold in very, very high regard.

KEILAR: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, thank you for joining us.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much, Brianna.

KEILAR: Guns are back on the agenda as Congress returns from recess and pressures the president to take action. Why my next guest says change could be made with two simple steps.


Plus, Actress Felicity Huffman making her final plea to avoid jail time in the college admissions scandal. Hear what she told a judge.


KEILAR: The gun control debate is expected to heat up this week as members of Congress return from their recess. Democrats are demanding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell take up two background check bills passed by the House earlier this year.

But McConnell says he'll only allow a vote on bills he knows the president will sign. In the meantime, there's no indication from the White House about what the president wants.

Andrew McCabe is a former FBI deputy director and he's now a CNN contributor.


Thank you so much for coming on to talk to us about this op-ed that you have out for today.

You say in it there are these two quick fixes inside the existing background check system, the first being that Congress needs to make clear what it means to be a fugitive.

Many people would be very surprised to discover, as you lay out, that in 2017, the Justice Department issued guidance that essentially allowed half a million fugitives the ability to purchase weapons. Tell us about this.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We were surprised by that as well, because for about two decades, the FBI had been using the fugitive prohibitor. That's one of the elements of the Brady Law that says you can't purchase a firearm if you are a fugitive from justice.

The FBI had always interpreted that to mean, if you had an outstanding warrant, you were a fugitive, and therefore, that transaction would be denied.

In 2017, the guidance from DOJ basically said you can only use the fugitive prohibitor if you can prove that the fugitive is actively fleeing a criminal prosecution from another state, which, of course, is information we don't have at the moment in the background check.

KEILAR: So why did they do that?

MCCABE: I don't know. You would have to ask the DOJ that question. It was a legal interpretation of the statute and the FBI relies on the department to tell us what the law says and then we follow their instructions.

But it was certainly one that had an unfortunate effect on our ability to deny those purchases.

KEILAR: The second change that you talk about is more time to do background checks. Right now, you have -- federally, it's three days. Some states have more. But why is that so important?

MCCABE: Well, that work is important. So the vast majority of folks who submit the form to initiate the background check get a response instantly, within seconds. And the overwhelming majority of those responses allow the purchase to go through.

In a limited number of cases, the FBI has to do additional research to determine if the person trying to purchase the firearm is, in fact, a match with a prohibitive record.

That research is hard to do. It sometimes involves contacting far- flung jurisdictions who may not have access to an old record of an arrest, things of that nature.

On the third day of that research, whether or not we have finished, the firearms dealer is legally entitled to allow that purchase to go through. What we found looking back is that happens in about 4,000 purchases every year.

KEILAR: That's a lot.

I ask this question of a lot of people when we're talking about guns, which is, why do you think anything would be done now when nothing has been done. This has been such an issue that is so stuck, even when there's polling numbers that show almost all Americans want to see universal background checks.

Do you think anything is different?

MCCABE: Well, like you, if I'm looking at past precedent, it's a very -- it's a dark picture, right? We've had innumerable points and tragedies that should have pushed us to improve these laws, to improve background checks, to do this work better, and we haven't taken advantage of those opportunities.

But what I would analogize it to, Brianna, is after the 9/11 attacks, the law enforcement and intelligence communities didn't sit around and say, let's come up with the one thing that will solve this problem, that will prevent a terrorist attack from ever happening again.

We thought, let's think of everything we can do to have an effect on this problem, to reduce the likelihood of another tragedy here, even by a small percent. That's the way we should be approaching this problem of mass gun violence in this country.

No other comparable country experiences mass shootings in the way that we do. We should be doing everything we can to reduce the likelihood of those event.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about a story that's out in "The Daily Beast" today while I have you hear. As our viewers may know, your actions while at the FBI are currently under investigation. You could face indictment.

And there are new e-mails being reported out of "The Daily Beast" today and they show you contacted then-FBI Director James Comey and you warned him that the "Wall Street Journal" was looking at a political contribution by his wife and possible conflicts of interest with the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.

What is your response to these documents?

MCCABE: Well, Brianna, you know, I have said from the very beginning that there's a lot of information that was not included in the inspector general's report on me. I have filed a federal lawsuit to address the circumstances under which I was fired.

I expect you will see a lot of that information come out in the course of that suit. Of course, at the advice of my attorneys, I have to let that litigation proceed.

KEILAR: Can you say if you're encouraged by what you saw in "The Daily Beast?"

MCCABE: I'm always encouraged when more information comes out that sheds light on the truth.

KEILAR: Do you feel like, in your view, it exonerates you of any judgments in the I.G. report about lacking candor --


KEILAR: -- in sharing some of that information?


MCCABE: I think it clearly shows folks that there's more to the story than they heard in the I.G. report. And I'm confident there's more information to come.

KEILAR: Former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, thank you so much for coming on.

MCCABE: Thank you. It's great to be here.

KEILAR: And one 2020 Democrat says the party's frontrunners are vulnerable. And he'll join me live.

Plus, the U.S. Coast Guard said they made contact with crew members trapped inside a huge cargo ship that capsized off of Georgia's coast.



KEILAR: The third Democratic presidential debate is set for Thursday night. But unlike the others, it will be one night and only 10 candidates, and that effectively leaves half of the field of candidates out of the mix.

I'm joined by former Maryland congressman and current presidential candidate, John Delaney.

Thanks so much for being with us.


KEILAR: You didn't qualify for this debate. So I mean, as you watch this, how do you intend to stay in the spotlight when you're not going to be part of this moment that affords so much important attention for anyone running in?

DELANEY: We obviously wish we were part of the debate. We're working on making sure we're in the October debate. And there's a November debate. I think there's more opportunities.

I'm very much focused on the early states, on Iowa and New Hampshire. We have very good teams and I've been around all the states, all 99 counties in Iowa.

I'm going to stay laser-like focused on my early state strategy, talking to voters in those states about the issues that matter to them. And we're hopeful that we'll get back in later debates.

KEILAR: And you're still in it through Iowa at least?


KEILAR: Doesn't that get expensive?

DELANEY: Running a campaign is expensive, but we're very committed. I mean, Iowa's really important to me. I have to do well in the early states. We have a great operation. I have eight offices open across the state. I've got a great team. As I've said, we've been to all 99 counties.

And we're not that far from the Iowa caucus, so we're very committed to it.

KEILAR: It's a considerable expense. You have spent millions of your own dollars on the campaign. You were very successful businessman. How --


DELANEY: There's nothing better to invest in. Right? This is all of our futures, our kids futures, my kids futures, your kids future, everyone's future. So my wife and I are fortunate that we can invest in our campaign and to try to make a difference in the world.

And I think it's an amazing privilege to be able to try to do things meaningful, and that's what I'm doing.

KEILAR: OK. You've looked at like moving here in the next -- you've looked at the next few months, and that's just a part of your financial -- you're going to stay in. You're going to dedicate whatever funds you need to. You obviously have some infrastructure and campaign expenses.


KEILAR: OK, I want to ask you something you raised concerns about. A lot of Democratic voters are very concerned about whether the Democratic candidate can beat Donald Trump. It's so important for them.

You've raised concerns about whether the three poll leaders, Biden, Sanders and Warren, can do that. Why is that, do you think?

DELANEY: I think all three of them are vulnerable for different reasons. I think Senator Sanders and Senator Warren, who I have a lot of respect for, I think they're fundamentally running on things that a majority of the American people won't ultimately support.

I think that's very dangerous. Things like making private insurance illegal or decriminalizing the border. I don't think a significant majority of the American people are behind these things. And that's a problem.

And I think the vice president hasn't really put forth a lot of new ideas. I mean, I think what we need in this election is we need new ideas for the challenges that we face, which are very significant. But we need someone who can craft solutions to these challenges in ways that a majority of the American people can get behind them.

So we need a pragmatic idealist. I don't think Senator Warren and Senator Sanders are putting forth pragmatic ideas. And I don't think Vice President Biden is reaching with big solutions that I think we need.

And we need someone who can fuse those two things together, which I believe I can.

KEILAR: Candidates like yourself, who -- a number of them, who have not qualified, will not be a part of this debate, we've seen them in past debates and even on the campaign trail, while they've had that visibility of being on the debate stage, they've been able to drive the conversation and talk about things.

Do you worry that that is going to go away in some regard because you're not on the debate stage? Because some of these other candidates aren't on the debate stage? What topics, what agenda items do you worry are going to get swept away because of the paring down of the crowd?

DELANEY: Well, I don't think there will be enough discussion around real solutions. Whether it be how we help struggling Americans, things like doubling the earned-income-tax credit, things like a national infrastructure program, things like investing in innovation.

I think we can cure cancer, cure Alzheimer's, come up with new technologies we need to get our country to net zero and actually deliver them to the world, because climate change is a global solution. I think the United States has to put forth the innovation that the world needs.


KEILAR: Biden has been talking about --

DELANEY: I think these are some of the issues.

KEILAR: -- curing cancer, you know.


KEILAR: The other candidates have climate change plans.

DELANEY: Yes. But I think, again, I think what we need is, we need real solutions to these issues. We need solutions that are grounded in the facts.

The other thing I don't think enough people are talking about is how everything is interconnected and interdependent. I mean, we see what's going on in the world, fires in the Amazon, this Brexit mess, the effect it will have on destabilizing the European Union, the factor in a global trade war and how that's hurting us.

I don't think enough of the candidates are connecting the dots. Because it is all interconnected and, in many ways, it's tied to what's going on right here in our country, how technology and globalization is affecting so many Americans.

And I think I'm uniquely positions to start tying these things together. Part of that is because I did have a successful career in the private sector. And I was the CEO of two public companies I started. Part of that is, I started in Congress. And no one else has that background. I really think that's what we need in the next president.

KEILAR: John Delaney, thank you so much --

DELANEY: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: -- for coming on.

And still ahead, Actress Felicity Huffman telling a judge she just wanted a fair shot for her daughter in that college scandal. Will her arguments spare here jail time?