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Supreme Court Rules NY Prosecutors Can Seek Trump Tax Returns, Blocks Congress from Getting Financial Records for Now; Pelosi Responds to Supreme Court Rulings on Trump's Financial Records; CDC Rebuffs WH, won't Change Guidelines for School Reopening. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired July 9, 2020 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We'll see if that happens. Given that today was the final day of decisions of the term for the high court.
My thanks to you, Jeffrey Toobin, as always for helping guide us through this and making us all smarter in the process. It's a big day. We appreciate it. To Ross Garber, Doug Brinkley, Kaitlan Collins, our Joan Biskupic, Abby Phillip, everyone who helped, Jessica Schneider at the court, Sara Murray, thank you so much.
We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.
Kate Bolduan continues our coverage right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.
We have breaking news now from the Supreme Court. Major decisions having to do with President Trump's financial records. Records that the president has refused to show to the public for years. In a 7-2 decisions the court has for now blocked Congress and New York prosecutors from accessing the president's financial documents.
The justices sending both cases back to lower courts for further review, but the justices did make one thing clear, that the president is not completely immune from facing a subpoena. The justices in the majority rejecting this claim from the president's attorneys that Donald Trump is completely immune from all aspects of criminal prosecution while in office.
Let's get to CNN's Jessica Schneider. She's live outside the Supreme Court. She's been diving through these decisions. Jessica, lay it out for us.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. The Supreme Court really laying out the bottom line here in that, the president for one is not absolutely immune from these criminal subpoenas while in office. That is rebutting what his lawyers argued vociferously at all arguments in May. Saying the president is absolutely immune. The Supreme Court saying no he has not.
In the other case the Supreme Court also saying that Congress does have a right to have access to the president's financial records and documents. However, in both cases there are limits and there is a heightened standard.
So really, the Supreme Court is saying, while it can be done, it likely will not be done any time before the election in less than four months. Remember, there were two cases here.
One involving the New York District Attorney Cy Vance seeking eight years of the president's personal and business tax returns for an investigation into that hush money that Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels in the lead up to the 2016 election when she alleged an affair with Donald Trump.
The second case involving three House committees led by Democrats wanting a broad array of financial documents from the president for multiple legislative inquiries as well as ethics investigations as well.
So, let me read you what the chief justice who authored both opinions here, what he said about that New York case and whether or not prosecutors can subpoena the president. The chief justice writing here for the court in that 7-2 decision.
We hold that the president is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need.
However, the opinion went on that the president isn't without recourse and that's exactly why this court is sending it down to the lower court in New York to consider. As for the House case, and this is really interesting because it talks about the political implications here.
Chief Justice Roberts writing in part saying, but burdens imposed by congressional subpoena should be carefully scrutinized, for they stem from a rival political branch that has an ongoing relationship with the president and incentives to use subpoenas for institutional advantages.
So really laying out there that, of course, with Congress, the House controlled by Democrats, they have political reasons for maybe going after the president that need to be scrutinized by the lower court. And, Kate, the Supreme Court today laying out really a four-part road map for lower courts when it comes to these congressional committees what the lower court should consider in determining whether or not these committees might actually get these tax documents. Again, not tax returns in the House case, only in the New York prosecution case.
So, sort of a mixed bag here, Kate. The president has lashed out at this decision on Twitter saying that it's not fair, that this is a political prosecution. But in the end, his tax returns, his tax documents, financial documents, they will likely remain hidden from view well into the election and likely beyond as they continue to fight this out at the lower courts, Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right. Jessica, thank you so much. A lot to go through. There is a lot here.
Joining me right now is CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic, Elie Honig, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and CNN legal analyst, and CNN's Kaitlan Collins, she's live at the White House, of course.
Kaitlan, let me start with you. The president is responding. And he is not happy.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, he's not. You're seeing a tweet storm already. I expect that's going to continue throughout the day.
But Kate, I do want to read a statement we just got from the president's attorney, Jay Sekulow, who argued these cases in front of the Supreme Court. He says, quote, "We are pleased that in the decision issued today, the Supreme Court has temporarily blocked both Congress and New York prosecutors from obtaining the president's financial records." Sekulow says, "We will now proceed to raise additional constitutional and legal issues in the lower court."
So, they are going to continue to fight this. This is basically what Jay Sekulow is saying in that statement. Though, of course, we should note, you know they -- this is a practical, as Jeffrey was saying, this is a practical way from the president because it's unlikely that anyone was going to see his tax returns before the November election.
But the president is facing ruling from his own two justices that he put on that court, ruling against him about whether or not he can shield his tax returns and is immune from any kind of prosecution while he's in office. The president himself in his tweets today, Kate, we should note, he's not specifically commented on Neil Gorsuch or on Brett Kavanaugh, but he is instead basically framing it as this.
Why am I being targeted instead of Democrats or his political opponents? Really something he's said throughout his entire time in office. But, Kate, it is a notable ruling coming out today and the question is does the president eventually weigh in on his own two justices and how they ruled.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Kaitlan, stick with me. Elie, let me bring you in. What are your two big takeaways from these two cases?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, big picture. These cases are really stinging legal rebukes to the president. The Supreme Court said, in no uncertain terms, no, you're not above the law because you are president. No, you are not absolutely immune from criminal prosecution. And no, you are not necessarily immune from congressional oversight.
That said, as a practical matter, if the president's goal here is to just run out the clock and drag his feet and put off having to turn over those tax returns or have the banks turn them over until after November - after the election, he is going to win but it's a short- sight of victory. I would not rest easy if I was the president. Particularly on the Manhattan DA case because that we know that case will proceed.
I believe they will win in the lower courts. It's really hard to block a prosecutorial subpoena. So, I think ultimately, I'm confident Cy Vance and the DA will get those records. And the big picture here is really the most important. The Supreme Court took a stand against presidential authority and presidential immunity.
BOLDUAN: Joan, what do you make of the -- Kaitlan was touching on it -- the breakdown of where the justices landed with these decisions. You have the president's nominees, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh siding - you know deciding with the majority here.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think what that shows is that Chief Justice Roberts tried to figure out what can we agree on here? Where can I get as many justices as possible? The result is that you know it leaves a lot uncertain as Jessica said, it's a mixed bag, not a very satisfactory ending for people who wanted to see those documents immediately.
But what Chief Justice John Roberts did was figure out a way that he could get someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg who has publicly complained about the fact that Donald Trump has not released his taxes, get RBG and Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to join something. And I think that that's quite a significant feat because what he did was say, OK, what can we agree on.
Number one, the president cannot have any kind of immunity from a criminal proceeding which was an extreme position that the Trump lawyers were asserting. We should recognize that. That what they were saying was so far. It was easy -
BOLDUAN: Joan, sorry. I'm going to - I just going to have to jump in. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reacting to this right now. Let's listen.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We'll continue to go down that path. The decision enables -- to enable the Trump administration's -- I don't know -- I don't know what they are even saying about it. I hear he's tweeting one thing and then the other people are saying another, but whatever it is it's not good news for the president of the United States.
It is a path that we -- we will take. So, I put out a statement. I don't see it here. Do we have a copy of this thing? Do we? It's not here. So -
But anyway, you don't need me to give you a piece of paper to have what this statement is. But it took me a little longer to get out here because I wanted to read to the bottom, the end of the decision and the chief justice specifically speaks to the fact that the president is not above the law, and that was something that was proclaimed in the decision including two of his recent appointment.
A careful - a careful Supreme Court ruling related to the president's financial records is not good news for President Trump. The court has reaffirmed, the Congress' authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people as it is asks for further information from Congress.
Congress' constitutional responsibility to uncover the truth, specifically related to the president's Russia connection that he is hiding. The Congress will continue to conduct oversight for the people upholding the separation of powers that is the genius of our Constitution. We will continue to press our case in the lower court.
That's what happened this morning. Earlier this morning, for the 16th week in a row, over 1 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance. 16th week in a row. We have to open up our economy. We can only do so by killing off the virus. That's what's in the HEROES act. Testing, tracing, treatment, separation, masking, wash your hands, keep your distance, as I said. That is what is in the HEROES act. The -- all of the scientific pronouncements have spoken to the need for --
BOLDUAN: All right. You're listening to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi getting the first reaction to the Supreme Court's decision right here.
Let me bring back in Joan Biskupic and Elie Honig. Elie, just bouncing off of what Speaker Pelosi is talking about. I want to kind of get your take because you have now heard from Jay Sekulow, the president's attorney, saying their pleased with what they've heard.
You now heard from Speaker Pelosi that they are happy with what they've heard, saying this is not good news for President Trump, saying that this is reaffirms Congress' authority to conduct oversight. Both sides are getting something from this. That's why Joan and Jessica are saying this is something of a mixed bag, but when it comes to the House Democrats' case, there's more to it than just what the Speaker Pelosi is saying, that this reaffirms Congress' ability to conduct oversight, because they're still not getting the records right now.
HONIG: Yes, it's funny how both sides are claiming victory. If people who are hoping or expecting to see Donald Trump's tax returns tonight, or tomorrow or before November, that's not going to happen. Big picture though. What happened here was the Supreme Court rejected Donald Trump's claim that he's above the law.
Now, when it comes to the Congress issue --
BOLDUAN: Yes. Explain then, if it rejects Donald Trump's claim that he is above the law or above oversight.
HONIG: Sure. BOLDUAN: Why then just for anyone who is out there listening, why then - why then do Democrats still need to be making their case in a lower court?
HONIG: Yes. So, when Donald Trump first got the subpoena from the Manhattan DA, he said I'm the president. Can't subpoena me. That's the issue that went to the Supreme Court today. The Supreme Court said no way. You're not above a subpoena, but any normal person who gets a subpoena in any normal criminal case has the right to fight that subpoena.
Now you almost never win. It's almost impossible to defeat a subpoena from a prosecutor as I once was. I fought some of those battles. It's very easy to win those as a prosecutor. But the Supreme Court said, no, you don't get special treatment because you're president but like any other person you can go back down into the district court, the trial court and try to fight this subpoena. The practical effect to that, is it allows the president to drag his feet, to run out the clock, to go through those motions. I think he'll lose but it will get him out past November.
BOLDUAN: Joan, give me your take. Joan?
BISKUPIC: Yes. I think the House situation is equally uncertain because even though the majority affirmed the power of the House to go for documents as part of its investigative and legislative purposes, it said here are several demands that must be met which is, again, why both sides can claim a little bit of victory here and why someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Brett Kavanaugh can sign it.
So, the Supreme Court reinforced the fact that Congress has a lot of power to investigate and issue subpoenas as happened here but that they need to then justify them on several grounds that were not justified here and lower court judges according to the majority did not assess. So --
BOLDUAN: Just one quick question as I just looking back at the president. What the tweets that the president has put out. And in part of it he is attacking the Supreme Court saying that now the Supreme Court gives a delayed ruling that they would never have given for another president. Just as someone -- you know, you follow the justice, and know them better than most. Does that impact them?
BISKUPIC: Oh, no. First of all, he's actaully lucky in this ruling in some ways. You know, remember, when the Supreme Court ruled against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, they had to turn over materials and give testimony right away. This is -- so, you know, the Supreme Court has given Donald Trump a little bit of a break of time here for starters, but in terms of President Trump's attempt to shame the justices or to complain.
You know, been there, done that. They have heard it all from him over several -- all of his years. We know what Chief Justice John Roberts had to say in 2018 about that. Stop referring the people as Obama judges or Trump judges.
They are aware of the fact that anything they do is going to be attacked by this president, And I think what they are trying to do is balance what the rights of both parties here. You know, there's two separate interests in the House case and in the president's case and they want to have enough regard for the presidency and the House mission. At the same time protect their own institutional integrity. The last thing John Roberts wants is to look like either a tool of Donald Trump or that he's just putting his finger in the eye of Donald Trump.
BOLDUAN: Joan, it's always great to have you. Elie, thank you for your analysis and perspective on this today. I really appreciate it guys. Huge, huge day. Another huge final day at the Supreme Court for the term.
Coming up for us, we are months into the coronavirus pandemic, and it feels as though we're back where we started. Cases rising, hospitals hitting capacity and overwhelmed, not enough tests. Not enough PPE? What went wrong?
Plus, the first division I college sports conference cancels all sports until January. Will other conferences follow suit?
BOLDUAN: There are now more than 3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. The country is seeing a million more confirmed infections in less than one month. That's how fast this has jumped this past month.
Right now, 33 states are going in the wrong direction. Reporting a rise in new cases. Only three states seeing a decline. The hardest hit states like Florida and Texas and Arizona are seeing a troubling jump in positivity rates as well and the number of people needing to go to the hospital with COVID for care. That data is prompting the nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci to issue this warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down. It's not for me to say because each state is different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And this morning, the CDC now says that it will not revise its guidelines for safely reopening schools. You're not alone if that is confusing. Since just yesterday the vice president announced that is exactly what was coming, revised guidance from the CDC. After the president trashed the original guidance on Twitter as being too tough, expensive and impractical.
CNN's Nick Valencia, he is following all of this back and forth, if you will. Nick, what is going on here?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, we've been following this since the very beginning of the pandemic, and what's been to clear to us since that time is that the CDC has been caught up in the politics of Washington.
And Kate, we want to remind our viewers that this is an institution that for 70 plus years has been the gold standard of public health. It has been looked to as the model around the world. And now tough they are having to walk a very fine line. Just take a listen to what the Director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield has to say this morning about the prospects of revising school guidance to safely return children back to school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Our guidelines are our guidelines but we're going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities that are trying to reopen K-12. So, not a revision of the guidelines. It's just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance that we've put forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: And here's what we know happened. Late last -- or early last week, I should say, there was an internal presentation by senior leaders at the CDC about the science behind safely and responsibly returning students to school, K-12 of higher education.
The just believe that science was there. They elevated that over the weekend. I'm told from sources at the CDC, the director, Robert Redfield, for him to bring that forward to the task force. But it was after the roundtable and the briefing by the White House task force, comments by Vice President Pence, comments by President Trump.
Leaders at the CDC said, they felt demoralized. They've been a target, appointed attacks from the president, on his Twitter, on camera, and they felt that. They feel, as I mentioned, Kate, very demoralized. And it's going to be a challenge for them in the coming weeks and months as this virus surges seemingly out of control in the United States. How they are going to walk this very political line between the White House and public health.
You know, I should end it here, Kate, by saying that they have had trouble getting President Trump to understand the nuance behind the science. He hasn't made this a priority that goes back to the very beginning during which he didn't really see this as a pandemic. That language has changed and evolved. But the difficulty of trying to get the White House to listen still very much so remains at the CDC. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Yes. Speaking just to that, the fact that the president continues to hammer that it's more testing that is leading to more numbers of cases which we're going to get to that again to fact check that again.
Thank you, Nick. I Really appreciate it.
VALENCIA: You bet.
BOLDUAN: So, let me bring in Dr. William Schaffner right now. He's professor of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Dr. Schaffner, thank you. It's very good to see you.
I want to ask you about the warning - the new warnings referring from Dr. Fauci saying that now, some states should shut down again when - with the numbers that they are seeing. Dr. Birx saying something similar that some states should go back to phase one once again.
How did United States get to this point of needing to go back to the beginning? What went wrong?
DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, Kate, good to be with you. And the virus is out there as you have said. It is spreading widely and it's as though our shutdown really didn't happen.
What went wrong is that perhaps we shut down not long enough. That's number one, but then the population was not educated that once we opened up, we really had to open up carefully. It was really going to be a new normal, masks were going to be the norm. Six-foot distancing, avoiding large groups, including religious services, and any gathering more than 10 people.
People didn't really realize that. So, they opened up in a carefree fashion rather than a careful fashion. And then the other thing that we didn't do is follow up with the manufacturer of personal protective equipment. Even here where we're doing OK at the moment, although our cases are increasing, we are nervous about the supply chain of our personal protective equipment. We haven't assured that within the United States we have enough manufacturing capacity to fulfill our needs.
BOLDUAN: It's very frustrating and -- and I'm sure demoralizing for everyone to hear that still after what we saw the mountain that we -- that people overcame when it came to personal protective equipment that it's now again still a problem in terms of supply.
And doctor, since the president continues to not understand the science as it is being explained to him or refuses to take in the new information, can you again explain, how testing more is not the problem. How the logic that if you don't test you don't have a problem is so dangerous?
SCHAFFNER: Well, just focusing on the numbers and thinking that if we don't test the numbers will stay low and, therefore, that's the reality. Well, of course not. If you don't count cases of lung cancer, that doesn't mean lung cancer doesn't exist.
So, what we need to do is test more so that we can find more people who are really infected out there, bring them the medical care and actually follow up on all their contacts. So, testing allows us to know where this virus is and how intensely it's affecting our population, and as we're seeing it's out there spreading literally like wildfire.
BOLDUAN: In the quest to find what can be done now, I want to play a moment as you laid out kind of where we went wrong. I want to play a moment when the president was going against science once again earlier in this pandemic. Let me play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the governors have to start opening up. We now know the disease. We know the weaknesses and the strength. I think that a lot of these states are going to have -- the ones that are sort of sticking to a certain very rigid pattern, I think they are going to stop. I don't think the people are going to stand for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Dr. Schaffner, that was back in May, just before Memorial Day, really that demarcation point when states were really starting to open up and now when we see where the country ended up. In looking at what went wrong and trying to learn how to fix, how critical do you think that moment and that kind of commentary from the president constantly of we've got to open up, even though the states were not showing the data that they should be opening up. How critical do you think that is proving?
SCHAFFNER: Well, obviously, it's very critical, Kate, because if we'd hung tight for a bit longer, we could have made sure that the virus' transmission was really reduced, and it would have given us more time to educate people such that we could open carefully rather than carelessly. And so, that was a lost moment but what we really need is a national program. We have a crazy I quilt at the moment. All those 50 governors, each trying to do their own thing.
Here I differ a little bit with Dr. Fauci. But if he's trying to walk a fine line, so let me say it. We need a national program. So the folks in Maine, in Missouri, in New Mexico, in Tennessee we're all doing the same thing. The countries that have been successful have had nationwide programs clearly and communicated in a very sustained way. I don't think we're going to see that. And so, I find this very, very sobering and this from an optimist.
BOLDUAN: And you are. You are, as -- as -- I'm always talking to you about something generally dire and generally scary and you really are an optimist. And crazy quilt I think is maybe the perfect way of describing the strategies that we're seeing all the way across the country. Speaking of the crazy quilt, another aspect of it, on schools reopening, you know the CDC that was going to have revised guidance coming after the president churned in, and now this morning saying that they're not revising any of their guidance.