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CNN RIGHT NOW
Sources Say, Chief Justice Roberts Changed His Position To Vote Against Trump On Census Question; Democrats Vote To Ramp Up Trump Impeachment Inquiry; White House Considers Pompeo For State and National Security Adviser; Liz Cheney Rips Rand Paul, He'll Surrender To Terrorists; Mexico Is Not Paying For The Wall, States And Military Families Are; Trump Delays Tariff Hikes On Chinese Goods Before Talks; Trump To Leave Global Postal Union, Driving Up Shipping Rates. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired September 12, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAROUN DERMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: -- [13:00:00] pre- conjecture and also trying to play it safe.
JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: The question will go away when a woman wins, I guess. That's the way to do it, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don't think it's valid concern but it's a tough position for the Democrats to be in, you want to vote for something, not against someone else.
KING: All right. Time is up. Brianna Keilar starts right now. See you tomorrow.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW: I'm Brianna Keilar live from CNN's Washington Headquarters.
Under way right now, it may be the third debate, but finally the frontrunners will all be on one stage and Joe Biden already taking shots at Elizabeth Warren.
America's CEOs taking action on guns when lawmakers won't. See their new demand.
Plus, some Democrats call it impeachment proceedings. Some Democrats call it not impeachment proceedings. So who is telling the truth on Capitol Hill?
And the president goes to Baltimore after trashing the, quote, rodent- infested city.
And did Boris Johnson mislead the queen?
But we start with a CNN exclusive and new information about what was behind Chief Justice John Roberts' surprising decision to block the Trump administration's attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census question.
In June, he sided with the more liberal judges and cast this deciding vote in the five-four decision. CNN's Joan Biskupic is our CNN Supreme Court Analyst. Tell us what you're learning, Joan.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Thanks, Brianna. Well, we knew that he had casted the deciding vote with the four liberal members of the court to block the citizenship question, but we didn't know that it happened during deliberations.
BIKSUPIC: In April, right after the court had heard the case, he was ready to rule for Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary whose plan this was to add the citizenship question.
But then he began to waiver, and he started to look at the rationale that Secretary Ross had offered. Remember, he tied it to enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, saying that citizenship data needed to be collected for that. And the chief began to realize that that rationale was invented and it mattered.
So in the end, he decided that the contrived rationale, and contrived is his word, actually mattered to the bottom line vote for Secretary Ross, invalidating it, as he did in June. So it was between April to June that this all unfolded.
And it recalled in some way what the chief had done in 2012 when he voted with the four liberals in a much more surprising manner to uphold President Obama's Affordable Care Act. So twice we've had these cases go down to the wire, and Chief Justice John Roberts, who is otherwise a very reliable conservative, casting this vote.
KEILAR: That's right, appointed by George W. Bush.
BISKUPIC: That's right.
KEILAR: And you think of the fanfare that went into that appointment and that confirmation and being such a young chief justice who is clearly going to serve an important role for years and years and years. And here we're seeing the chief justice take on this role as this deciding vote. What does that tell you about how he sees his place in the court and really the place of the court?
BISKUPIC: Well, I'll tell you, we're in a new chapter. He's starting his 15th term on the court. But we're right at the beginning of his time as the key middle vote of this court. He's wearing that mantel pretty heavy.
After Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement in 2018, the chief became the ideological middle of this court. And you remember, first of all, the census case was so politically fraught and he has been trying to tamp down all the politics around the court. So here he is now at the middle amidst all of this politicking and the polarization in Washington, so he has this new responsibility.
So I think in this case, it wasn't just where he ended up on the substance of the law but aware of all the atmospherics around it.
KEILAR: So interesting. Joan, thank you so much for your report on this.
Democrats taking a major step this morning as the House Judiciary Committee voted to ramp up its impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The vote was not on impeachment itself but instead to set the rules for the committee's future investigations into alleged obstruction of justice and corruption by the president.
Here's Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): This committee is engaged in an investigation that will allow us to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump. That is what we are doing.
Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: But the Democrats' message on the I word is far from unified. When asked about it, the house speaker avoided using the term.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I support what is happening with the Judiciary Committee because that enables [13:05:00] them to do their process of interrogation and their investigation.
REPORTER: This specific language is not important. I mean, how can the American people understand the work of the committee when the members are speaking very differently about it?
PELOSI: It's not that -- you're the only ones who are so into this.
They understand that impeachment is a very divisive measure. But if we have to go there, we'll have to go there. But we can't go there unless we have the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: CNN Legal Analyst and former counsel to the U.S. Assistant General, Carrie Cordero, is joining us now.
Okay. So there is disagreement here amongst the ranks. Is it impeachment or is it not impeachment?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is the House Judiciary Committee doing as much as they can to be on the path of impeachment without the House formally calling it an impeachment inquiry. And I thought Chairman Nadler's statement that he's sick of talking about -- he doesn't really want to talk about the nomenclature anymore was really telling. From his perspective, he doesn't care if we call it an impeachment inquiry or an impeachment investigation. The committee is conducting an investigation.
And I think one of the most important things that came out of the resolution today is that they are now going to be requesting from other committees. Because as the speaker said, there are other committees that are conducting investigations into presidential conduct. And so now the House Judiciary Committee is going to request those other committees to feed their inquiry or investigation, whichever one we want to describe it as.
KEILAR: How significant is that, that they're kind of gathering all of these things into one place?
CORDERO: Well, it's significant in terms of -- because one of the biggest issues, obviously, politically here is the timing. And so the Judiciary Committee really has a limited period of time at this point, we're in September of 2019, for them to be able to either -- they're going to either bring articles of impeachment or they're not, and to the extent that other committees have been doing investigations relevant to the decision of whether to bring articles of impeachment, they have to get that information at some point and it's going to be sooner than later.
KEILAR: I want to ask you about something that CNN has learned, which is that New York prosecutors recently interviewed the president's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in prison. And this is part of their investigation to the Trump organization and hush money payments. How significant could his answers be in this investigation?
CORDERO: Well, Michael Cohen has been interviewed about this, so it could be that they had follow-up questions that they were going to ask him. You know, he's already in jail so it's not going to change the outcome for him, but it could be that there were additional questions to ask him.
With respect to the Congress though, they have a far broader mandate to look at what they're considering for impeachment purposes. And so Michael Cohen and how that information ends up playing out or whether or not there is some type of criminal charges down the road or pursuing of criminal charges is one thing, but there is a lot of other cases, emoluments, in addition to all of the potential obstructive acts that were described in the report that they need to consider.
KEILAR: Carrie Cordero, thank you so much.
CORDERO: Okay. Thanks.
KEILAR: Meanwhile, over at the White House, CNN is learning that the president is considering having Secretary of State Mike Pompeo take over John Bolton's role of national security adviser. And this would be the first time that an official has held both these roles since Henry Kissinger.
We have Kentucky Senator Rand Paul with us. He's a Republican and he joins us now. Sir, thank you for being with us.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Glad to be here.
KEILAR: So what do you think about this possibility of Secretary Pompeo serving in both of these roles?
PAUL: I think the problem that we've had in the past has been that there have been people around the president who don't believe in the president's vision. I can tell you that, originally, I was not enthusiastic about Secretary Pompeo. But in my interactions with him, I think he does listen to the president and he's trying to fulfill the president's vision.
I think this is different than Bolton who -- John Bolton had his own sort of ideas and his own sort of agenda, and I think he tried to undermine the president. I don't get that feeling with Secretary Pompeo.
Now, I do hope though that Secretary Pompeo will really digest and understand that President Trump has been against the Iraq war. He's one of the people who recognized earlier on that the Iraq war was a mistake and destabilized the Middle East, and that the president really wants to get out of Afghanistan, that the war has long been over and there's no clear mission.
And from what I understand, and I'm not always on the inside, but from what I hear, I think Secretary Pompeo has been trying to fulfill the president's desires in Afghanistan. And I think this would be a major coup for our country if we had leaders strong enough to actually end the Afghan war. It's an endless war. And I'll never forget President Trump in a state of union saying that great nations don't fight endless wars or perpetual wars, and I really respect that from the president. And my hope is if he makes this decision with Secretary Pompeo that he will fulfill the president's vision.
KEILAR: So you are comfortable [13:10:00] as long as you see him fulfilling that vision, you are comfortable with him serving in both roles, just to be clear? Yes?
PAUL: Well, what I would say is it's not my job to tell the president what to do. My job is that I want people to fulfill the president's vision. And from the outside looking in, I do think that Secretary Pompeo is trying to fulfill the president's vision, and I think that's really in great distinction to John Bolton, who, I think, was trying to fulfill his own agenda.
KEILAR: Okay. Anyone who has been looking at your Twitter account here the last day has gotten some drama from it because you Congresswoman Liz Cheney had been getting into a contentious exchange on Twitter, and you even just tweeted back at her. You took issue with her for, in your words, advocating for endless war, which you're against. She replied, quote, I stand with Donald Trump and our men and women in uniform who will never surrender to terrorists, unlike Rand Paul, who seems to have forgotten that today is 9/11. What was your reaction to that? PAUL: I guess the Cheneys, both Dick and Liz, is that they've always been never-Trumpers. They hate President Trump's foreign policy. They want to stay in Afghanistan forever. They're apologizing for John Bolton, they love John Bolton. So, really, they're part of this foreign policy swamp that has been trying to undermine President Trump.
And so people of Wyoming and people across the United States need to know that the Cheneys were never-Trumpers. I mean, Dick Cheney just last year was criticizing Mike Pence and going all in about, you know, the president's foreign policy. Just last year, Liz Cheney was criticizing President Trump over saying that our allies should pay more.
So the main aspects of President Trump's American first foreign policy, the Cheneys are dead set against it. They are never-Trumpers and they just need to be honest with the people of Wyoming and honest with the people of the country.
KEILAR: She has been critical. You, at times, have been critical at certain policies as well. And when I look at these tweets, you're tagging Donald Trump in them, both of you. And I wonder if even as we're seeing this discussion online highlight, I think, two really important different philosophies on foreign policy, do you worry that it's devolving a bit into this butt-kissing contest that's a little unbecoming of two members of Congress?
PAUL: Well, I think these are very important things. Should we stay in Afghanistan forever? That's an important debate for the country. It's also an important debate for the Republican Party. And I campaigned all across Kentucky. In fact, I campaigned all across the country saying that the $50 billion a year we're spending in Afghanistan is throwing money down a rat hole.
I have three nephews in the military. I have a good friend whose son is joining the military now and be in combat. I don't want them to go to Afghanistan if there's no military mission. And I asked the generals all the time, what is our mission. What is our national security interest in Afghanistan? There is no answer.
So this isn't just about me butting heads with the never-Trumpers and the Cheney family, this is about me saying this is what President Trump believes. I think President Trump has said for more than a decade that we should get out of Afghanistan, but also that the Iraq war and regime change was a mistake.
The Cheneys and the John Boltons, they're all for regime change. They want to remake the world in our image by toppling people militarily. And I think the president really gets that that's a mistake.
KEILAR: I want to ask you about something else related to the military, these DOD construction funds that have been diverted to pay for the wall. And I really want to ask you this, especially in light of the fact that you voted against the emergency declaration that permitted the president to divert these funds. One of the projects shelved because of this is a much needed, on-base middle school at Fort Campbell in your State of Kentucky, where you've got the population of these two middle schools, you know, this, they've been crammed into one substandard building that really cannot accommodate these 500 or so kids. Here is what one teacher on-base said to us said to us about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE LOGGINS, TEACHER AT FORT CAMPBELL: They lived under the stress of war their entire lives, multiple deployments. We deploy probably more than any other base. They're stressed at home during each of those deployments. The school should be a safe haven for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: I mean, you have the 101st Airborne there, you've got 5th Group, the Special Forces there. What can -- these are their kids. What can you do to help fix this?
PAUL: Well, I have a great deal of sympathy for the families of those soldiers who were deployed. And we have to have good schools for them. It's inexcusable that we don't.
As far as the separation of powers, I've been consistent whether the president was a Republican or a Democrat. I think the power of the purse resides in Congress. Congress decided to spend money on that school and that's what should happen. I will vote that way and have voted that way.
The majority of my caucus, Republicans and Democrats, have voted the other. So, in all likelihood, I will win. But given a chance to vote again, I will vote to send that money to the school and to keep in the military budget.
But I do agree with the president's vision in a sense that I think we need more money for border security and use that wit's end and has done something that I don't entirely agree with, that I am supportive of more money for [13:15:] border security. And I think we do have a calamity at our border and, frankly, the democrats need to get on board and help us to try to fix the border problem.
KEILAR: Then are you supportive of this Democratic effort to get another vote on the emergency declaration?
PAUL: I will always vote for Congress' power of the purse and that the executive should not be able to spend money --
KEILAR: But do you support -- of course, I hear you saying that. Do you support their effort to get a vote on it so then you would have the opportunity?
PAUL: The vote is a privilege vote and will occur. I voted that way in June and I will vote again that way if it comes up again.
KEILAR: All right. Senator Paul, thank you so much for being with us.
PAUL: Thank you.
KEILAR: Is the president's trade war with China suddenly thawing (ph) a bit? I'll be speaking with the White House trade adviser on this big move.
Plus, debate night, what Bernie Sanders will do standing beside Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.
And did Boris Johnson mislead the queen. Hear his answer ahead.
KEILAR: The White House is giving China a short reprieve from tariffs. The president says in a gesture of goodwill, it will delay additional increases for two weeks and it will now go into effect mid- October instead of on October 1st.
White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro is with us now to discuss. Thank you so much for joining us.
PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: Good afternoon, Brianna.
KEILAR: So the president says that this is a favor to China, but, Peter, the U.S. also benefits from this, right?
NAVARRO: It's a favor to China. And, basically, October 1st when the tariffs were supposed to go into effect is a really big day for China. It's their 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. So they asked out of deference to that if we would wait a couple weeks, and the president, of course, said yes and that's all there is to the story.
KEILAR: But this also helps the U.S., right?
NAVARRO: No. Only that it's a goodwill gesture and it might help with the negotiations, but it's a small thing in the scheme of things. I mean, the tariffs we've been putting in place, the Chinese have been bearing, because what they do is they slash their prices and they devalue their currency. Their currency has gone down by about 15 percent now since the tariffs were put in place. So, again, this is just a goodwill gesture by the president.
What's important in these negotiations is that the Chinese are coming to Washington in October. Those negotiations will happen behind closed doors. The seven major issues that are on the table, what we call the severe acts of economic aggression, cyber hacking of our computers to steal our business secrets, intellectual property theft to the tune of $7 billion a year, forced technology transfer as a condition of access to the market. They dump products of low cost into our market. They have these really large state-owned enterprises that are massively subsidized, not fair competition, and manipulation of their currency, like I mentioned. And, Brianna, one of the really important things to this president, made in China fentanyl and other opioids would will other Americans just this day alone, a thousand by the end of the week and over 50,000 a year. And despite promises from China, we still see fentanyl and other opioids coming in.
And the other topic I'd love to talk about today is this postal thing, but coming in through that post office.
KEILAR: I promise we will talk about that. I know that's a big deal for you today.
NAVARRO: But it's related.
KEILAR: But, look, farmers are feeling these tariffs, all right? They wouldn't need millions of dollars in bailouts if they weren't feeling them. And according to Moody's Analytics, the U.S. down 300,000 jobs, Republican Senator Pat Toomey says there is no question this is weighing on the economy. Republican Senator Rick Scott says -- he's calling for tax cuts to make up for what Americans are paying in tariffs.
So how can you say holding off of on these tariffs isn't something that's helping America and it's just the president doing it out of the goodness of his heart to curry some favor with the Chinese?
NAVARRO: Because it's two weeks and the Chinese are paying the tariffs anyway.
Going through the farmers, President Trump strongly has the back of the American farmers. China has been trying to target them. We're making them whole using some of the revenues from the tariffs.
In terms of Pat Toomey, what -- the president said (INAUDIBLE). What does Pat Toomey expect us to do? Just lie down and let China steal everything from us? He's waving a white flag, not the American flag.
This president, interestingly, Brianna, he has broad public support, broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for his China policy, because, right now, Americans are increasingly understanding these seven types of things that China does to us and they're very supportive.
So let's focus on that. I really don't want to talk anymore about China rather than to say that we have negotiations underway. The president made a goodwill gesture. We'll see where that goes. It will save you some time for the post office.
KEILAR: Of course. But let me just -- this is very important.
NAVARRO: It's a big topic and it's a big day today for this country.
KEILAR: And I understand and we will talk about. But also want to -- we saw the president tweet. It is expected that China will be buying large [13:25:00] amounts of our agricultural products. So shoot straight with farmers about this who may be watching or who will see this on tape. They should be expecting big orders from China soon?
NAVARRO: We always shoot straight with farmers. We have -- this administration --
KEILAR: Okay. You said -- look, you want to cut -- you want to be short about this? Will they be expecting big orders from China soon?
NAVARRO: President Trump tweeted that there will be orders. Let's see if the Chinese fulfill their commitments.
As you know, the problem we've always had with the Chinese is that they don't necessarily honor their commitments. We would have probably had a deal months ago. We had a 150-page agreement that was close to the finish line. The Chinese backed off.
But, again, I think what's important here, if you're looking at kind of like the economy, the macro economy, the stock market, there are just so many things going on that are favorable and bullish.
For example, if we can just pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. We're going to see the fed cut interest rates. We just saw today the European Central Bank cut interest rates. Why do we care? That's means they'll buy more of our exports, including agriculture exports.
We just cut a deal with Japan, which will help our pork farmers and our chicken farmers, and we renegotiated things, like the South Korea deal, which is a lot of bullish things going on.
Talking about China, I mean, we spent a lot on that. But all I can tell you is they're coming to town.
KEILAR: Let's talk about the postal reforms. This is pretty interesting what's happening here. You're demanding reforms on this. At the end of the month, you're heading to Geneva, Switzerland for -- it's a rare sort of special meeting with the Universal Postal Union, the Trump administration, the extraordinary Congress.
And the Trump administration says the U.S. is overpaying for its part and shipping packages from overseas to the U.S. The union sets those rates.
I understand you told me on the break that you have 40 ambassadors who are going to be at Blair House here in about two and a half hours to discuss this issue. The Trump --
NAVARRO: Yes. The Blair House is just about 50 yards away from me. It's was named after Montgomery Blair, who was the post master general for Abraham Lincoln. It's a beautiful facility. But what's interesting is that Blair had the original vision for this in Universal Postal Union.
KEILAR: He founded it?
NAVARRO: Yes. Well, he didn't found but he had the vision --
KEILAR: Or he had the vision for it?
NAVARRO: Yes. And what it does is it sets international postal rates.
Let me tell you the problem.
KEILAR: I know. But let me -- I know. I'm outlining the problem and I want to ask you a question about it. The Trump administration wants to set its own rates because it feels, I mean, for lack of a better term, that it's getting hosed here and that it's really paying too much. What happens if you don't get that demand in this extraordinary Congress?
NAVARRO: So let's -- your viewers need to understand what the problem is. Right now, for example, it's cheaper to send a package from Shanghai to New York than it is from Los Angeles to New York. Now, there're three victims because of that, right?
First of all, the post office has to subsidize China's post to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Secondly, our manufacturers and workers get hosed here because there's fewer jobs because the Chinese competitor beat him, because we're subsidizing their rates. And lastly, a lot of the stuff the China is sending us, and it's almost a million packages a day we receive in places like Kennedy Airport is contraband. It's counterfeit goods, which puts us out of work, and it's also this fentanyl and other opioids that come in through these parcels.
So what the president has said over a year ago, when he found out about this, he was as surprised as you are about this. He said, fixit. So we're fixing it. We issued an order of withdrawal. It takes a year for that to take place. But we're doing a beautiful job diplomatically to try to get a solution which allows us simply to charge fair rates so we recover our costs.
So when we go to Geneva, there're two options there. It's option B, option C. If we get that, we'll stay in. If we get out, it would be seamless. It would be seamless.
KEILAR: We'll see if you don't, okay, if you're not able to have these self-declared rates. But can you assure Americans that if you are shifting costs on to other countries -- because you're saying that the U.S. should shoulder less of the cost. So fair or not fair -- I want to ask --
NAVARRO: All we want to do is recover our cost, to be clear. Sure.
KEILAR: I understand. Fair or not fair doing that, can you assure Americans you are not destabilizing global trade in a way that will backfire on the U.S.?
NAVARRO: 100 percent. We worked on this for a year at a high level. One of my favorite people in this town is the postmaster general. She is just a brilliant individual. She has put all the resources over the agency to work on this. People at the State Department have been great in terms of interacting with all the ambassadors around the world to get us through a fair solution. And this will be seamless.
The only thing that America is going to see, like what's going to happen after Geneva is one or two things, [13:30:00] either we stay in the UPU and they will let us to self-declare our rates or we're out and we self-declare our rates. For the American people, that means it will save hundreds of millions of --