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At This Hour
January 6 Committee Recommends Four Criminal Charges against Trump; House to Meet on Trump's Tax Returns; Chief Justice John Roberts Temporarily Blocks End of Title 42; U.S. Border Cities Brace for Migrant Influx. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired December 20, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone.
AT THIS HOUR, it could be the deciding moment on Donald Trump's tax returns. The House committee meeting today and what they could vote to reveal to the public about Trump's wealth.
Plus the chief justice puts Title 42 on hold for now as the Biden administration prepares for whatever comes next with the migrant surge at the border with Mexico.
And two major drugstore chains putting limits on common pain medications for kids. This is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.
BOLDUAN: Thanks for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan.
A moment of reckoning for former president Donald Trump and a big decision on tap for the House Ways and Means Committee. After years of fights and political maneuvering, today the House committee will decide what to do with the former president's tax returns.
The meetings is behind closed doors in just a few hours. But it comes on the heels of another historic decision, the January 6 committee referring Trump to the Justice Department on at least four criminal charges, including assisting or aiding an insurrection.
The question now when it comes to that, what will the Justice Department do with all of the evidence uncovered over the course of that committee's 17-month long investigation into the attack on the Capitol?
We're going to get to that. But let's start with the big meeting today on Trump's tax returns and what it could mean. Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill.
Lauren, I feel like you have been covering this decision in the fight that Ways and Means have had since the beginning of time.
What will happen now?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats have been pledging that they would request Donald Trump's tax returns in the days after the 2018 midterms. So that tells you how long this battle has been brewing.
But today is really a reckoning for the committee. They're going to have to make a decision about whether or not they are going to release any of the tax information that they have in possession about former president Donald Trump.
And obviously this committee is going to meet today at 3:00. They're going to quickly go into an executive session. That means a closed- door meeting. And then they'll have a discussion about what steps they want to take.
After that they come out of executive session and they'll have a vote on what to release. We don't know what they are weighing in terms of releasing. It could be a report or executive summary of this tax information.
Are they going to look at releasing the full tax returns that they have possession of?
All of that is on the table. So it is going to be a very important meeting. Meanwhile, Republicans on the committee, they're pushing back, saying that releasing this personal tax information from the former president really is a slippery slope for taxpayers across the country and what it means for the security of their information. Kate.
BOLDUAN: Lauren, stick close. Let's see what happens today. Appreciate it.
Now let's turn to the historic move by the January 6 committee, voting unanimously to refer Donald Trump to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution on four counts. Paula Reid is live in Washington for us, watching this aspect of it.
Where does this go from here, after yesterday's big meeting?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, a criminal referral is certainly no guarantee of an indictment as we know, the Justice Department has already been investigating the former president and his associates for this role in January 6.
And that investigation has been handed over to special counsel Jack Smith. And it is interesting, Kate; Smith has been working remotely in Europe, recovering from a bike accident since he's been appointed.
But a source familiar with his plan said he will be back in the United States by early January. And that is significant because, despite the fact that he was appointed over a month ago, he still doesn't have a physical office set up.
He's expected to set up shop separately from the main Justice, where the attorney general works. That is similar to former special counsel Robert Mueller and how he operated.
But the real value of the January 6 committee's work for Smith and the Justice Department is not so much the referrals but the evidence they've gathered, particularly interviews that they've conducted and the transcripts.
And these are the first time that the Justice Department will be seeing these. And those could potentially help them in their investigation as they make these critical prosecution decisions.
But I will say in conversations with the former president's attorneys, they believe some of this evidence could help them. And they argue it could help their client, particularly to undermine the arguments that any of this was premeditated.
So now all of this evidence will be in the public sphere over the next few days and it is interesting to see how this plays out.
BOLDUAN: That is a good point. Great to see you, Paula.
Joining me now for all of this is Gloria Borger, chief political analyst.
BOLDUAN: And senior law enforcement analyst former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu.
On this meeting happening today that Lauren Fox was just talking about, which will decide whether Donald Trump's tax information will ever be disclosed, Shan, what could people learn from the years of tax returns?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They could probably learn a great deal about just the public facade he presents versus what the actual state of his finances were. I mean, the real connect the dots part of this is looking at way he was attributing income.
He has hundreds of these LLCs set up. And how they treat the income from that is a great interest. You have to drill down on that to see whether he was declaring all of that, for example, some of it allegedly he has these charities.
Was he sending money to them or not?
I don't know there is that much criminal liability because assuming law enforcement already had access to this. But certainly it would be of great public interest. And it could give some nuggets of other leads to pursue in terms of criminal or civil liability.
BOLDUAN: And Gloria, I thought Lauren Fox was interesting, saying how Republicans are pushing back if info is released, not defending Donald Trump but, as she put it, the slippery slope, that they say it is going to create, what it means for other politicians or ordinary people in the future.
And I was sitting here, thinking, what kind of fallout are they trying to get at here?
Because politicians, especially presidential candidates, normally disclose this information readily.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That's the key thing. This is something presidential politicians do openly. And what Republicans are trying to do is turn the table and say, look, this isn't about a presidential audit, which the IRS is supposed to do.
And what Congress is trying to do is have oversight onto presidential tax returns, to check for conflicts of interest, particularly with foreign governments. So what they're trying to say is, look, they're weaponizing the IRS.
The IRS has been a favorite target and will continue to be a target. People don't like the IRS. And if they could do it to Donald Trump, who is now a citizen and no longer president, then they can do it to you. So that is the argument.
And on the other side, the Democrats will say, we've been going after this for years.
Now he's out of office. And now we have an opportunity to see whether our oversight act needs to be fixed or changed as we look into his tax returns and see whether there were conflicts of interest here and whether his tax cuts really benefited him substantially.
So you know, I think those are arguments for disclosure on the one side and on the other side saying, look, you know, this could be your problem, too.
BOLDUAN: Andy, when you put kind of -- when you put together all of the legal liability that Donald Trump potentially faces from the district attorney investigation in Fulton County, Georgia, to the Justice Department investigation into him, where do you put this in terms of having his tax returns finally disclosed, given that he has been fighting this for so long?
ANDREW MCCABE+ SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Kate, I think similar to the comments Shan just made, I think, in terms of legal liability, either criminal or civil, it is hard to say there is any significant possibility of liability hidden in the tax returns.
We don't know much about this. I think the much greater risk on the tax returns possible release is reputational. I mean, Donald Trump has dug in as hard as he possibly could to keep this information revealed -- keep it secret from the American public.
And now we're on the brink of maybe seeing it. And he's clearly not very happy about that. So there is a reason imbedded in here that he does not want the public to see this stuff.
It is not because he's concerned about protecting the privacy interest of everyday ordinary Americans, it's because he's interested in protecting his own interests. So I think that potential reputational damage is the biggest thing he faces on the tax return side. There is plenty of legal liability that he's going to be worried
about. But that is more from DOJ and the district attorney's office in Georgia. And we could get to that in a minute, I guess.
BOLDUAN: And Gloria, on a final point, it kind of gets at this -- it fits into the category of if and when the tax returns are revealed. It doesn't seem that it is going to change any minds. Not that revealing tax information would be put out in order to change any minds anyway.
This fits into the category of this is another moment for record of history, keeping with the tradition of what presidential candidates are supposed to do.
BORGER: Right, they are supposed to. And don't forget, Donald Trump is still a presidential candidate and announced one. And if he were to become the nominee, the question is, what would he do then?
But whenever talking about his taxes, he always said, I'm smart. I didn't pay a lot because I knew how to follow the tax laws. And I knew how to get around them. And I wonder if he will make that same argument again if that continues to be the case.
"The New York Times" has revealed a bunch of his tax returns. And you'll recall he paid a minute amount given how much money he earned. He could make an argument, that I did it this way and we need to close those loopholes.
Or look, I was in real estate and I was able to do it. And that is why -- that is why I'm smart.
BOLDUAN: A couple of quick questions on what we learned from the January 6 committee and referrals.
Shan, now that they've made the referral for criminal charges to the Justice Department, what happens now?
WU: The department is obviously beginning its own investigation. They are a little late in my opinion. But they'll have to look at all of this evidence. I mean, they're going to be finally getting the transcripts; over a thousand witnesses were interviewed.
And some folks are saying, well, we don't know, maybe the department is already ahead of them. That is highly unlikely, given what we've seen. But even if they were at an advanced stage, they're going to have to review all of this to make sure that there is nothing that they have missed.
There may be new leads that they want to follow up on. So there is a lot for them to review. Timetable wise, I think they're pretty far from making a charging decision.
BOLDUAN: Andy, the committee has called this a road map to justice if you will. But you also think this could cause some real problems for the Justice Department. In what ways?
MCCABE: Yes, I do. Think it is probably unlikely for the -- for the reason being the delay that Shan just mentioned. But I think it is unlikely that government investigators have touched upon all of the hundreds of witnesses the committee spoke to.
There are reams of transcripts, many of which are likely under oath or to federal officials from potential witnesses. And each one of those prior statements is going to end up being discoverable; meaning handed over to the defense if this case goes forward.
And each of those transcripts could contain problems that the prosecutors have to deal with, if the witnesses have said conflicting things and multiple interviews that make them less valuable as witnesses.
They may have said things that are exculpatory and make the president look less guilty. So they have to figure out where the little time bombs are laying and waiting for them and to figure out how to kind of rectify or maybe eliminate using some of the witnesses or thinking about it.
So there is a lot of work for DOJ to do here. And much of it might be in the category of kind of clean up and repair.
BOLDUAN: Interesting. It is great to see you guys. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
So a sea of people camped out on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. A new decision from the chief justice of the Supreme Court throwing more uncertainty into what is going to happen now. That is next.
BOLDUAN: The Biden administration is facing a 5:00 pm deadline to respond to the chief justice and his decision that temporarily halted the expiration of Title 42, the pandemic era policy, which has been used to quickly remove migrants, was set to end tomorrow.
But the chief justice John Roberts paused the order to give the Supreme Court more time to consider the late appeal by a group of Republican led states. MJ Lee is at the White House at this hour.
Is there any indication how the administration is planning to respond to this?
MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You just laid out exactly where things stand. Just that Title 42 was supposed to expire tomorrow. That is no longer happening. If the freeze remains in place, through tomorrow, these 19 states that
you mentioned, they made the argument that, if Title 42 goes away right now, there would be a massive surge at the U.S. border and that there would be an unprecedented crisis
And as far as the administration's response, DHS responded yesterday, no objections from them. They said in a statement that Title 42, the public health order, will remain in effect at this time. And individuals who attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will continue to be expelled to Mexico.
Now both the DHS and the White House has generally made clear that their actions on the ground will not change. That is to say that all of the preparations that they have been making and continue to make to try to keep a containment of the surge of migrants that are expected, that those actions will continue.
Just one thing I do want to note, one official telling my colleague, Priscilla Alvarez, if this freeze is in effect, going into tomorrow, they do expect a potential mini surge because not every migrant who is trying to cross the border will be aware that this freeze is in place.
But for now, that 5:00 pm deadline of today, that is what we're tracking.
BOLDUAN: All right. Stand by to stand by for that. Appreciate it. MJ.
So cities are still bracing for Title 42 to ultimately go away, which could mean a big increase in what is already a surge of migrants seeking asylum at the border.
BOLDUAN: Ed Lavandera is live in El Paso for us once again, with this side of it.
Ed, what are you hearing from officials about kind of this turn of events in the last day?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, officials here in El Paso say they will continue moving forward as if Title 42 is going to be lifted on Wednesday.
And right now the most urgent needs are finding shelter and housing to handle what could very well be thousands of migrants per day as they come through here for several days and move on to other destinations inside of the United States.
So they're most concerned about that. They're talking about using warehouses and unused school buildings to handle that influx of migrants. And so they're asking for help. And they're really focused on getting all of that squared away before the end of Title 42.
Also, there is another big turn of events in El Paso, is this development where Texas National Guard soldiers and the Texas Department of Safety have put up in the area where migrants have been crossing during last week in an orderly way, there is now a long line of chain-link fence, close to a mile long, as well as barbed wire as well.
This is not going over well with officials here in the El Paso area. In fact, the El Paso County judge texted a little while ago, saying this is not the kind of help that authorities here in El Paso had envisioned.
And a Texas military department official said that the National Guard put this up essentially on their own, not consulting with Border Patrol or local officials that this was happening.
BOLDUAN: Ed, thanks so much.
So CNN is also right across the border in Ciudad Juarez. David Culver is there for us. And he joins us now.
What are you seeing and hearing from there?
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll first give you the context of where we are. We're on the Mexico side, as you point out. This is the Rio Grande and over there is the U.S. side.
Now this is where everyone has been crossing over the past several weeks and we're talking thousands of people. It is a simple step across those stones and then they go up the hill and then start being processed.
What you see behind me is obviously going to prevent that. In fact, MJ was mentioning at the White House concern for a mini surge. When they get to this staging point for many in Ciudad Juarez from the Mexico side, they will not be allowed to go over there.
And we've seen people this morning try to go over. They've been told through megaphones and directly by National Guards men, who you could see over here, to go down to the bridge to the formal crossing. That is where they're expected to go.
They're no longer going to be allowed to go right up here and be processed. So a big change this morning, Kate.
BOLDUAN: A big change. But of course, all of this is just a Band-aid and a short-term fix. This is not a long-term strategy of how to figure out the correct way to handle this crush of migrants. But so glad you're there. Thank you so much, David. I appreciate it.
Where is this headed and what are all of the ripple effects of it all?
Joining me right now is CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. She's a former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.
Juliette, where things stand right now, what does this temporary hold from the Supreme Court plus the now continued in additional uncertainty that we're seeing play out, you saw from Ed Lavandera on one side of the border, it does create for DHS and the states and the migrants at the center of this?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. Look, as Chief Justice Roberts gave us a little bit of time in the sense that at least the status quo will hold.
But as our reporting shows, the status quo is far from ideal. What has happened is we're trying to cure a really complex problem regarding both lawful and unlawful immigration as well as customs and the movement of millions of people and goods over the course of a year lawfully.
We're trying to sort of fix the problem through Title 42, which was always meant to be temporary, was brought into place in early 2020 as a public health measure.
Now about 2.3 million migrants have been expelled. They're not allowed to claim lawful asylum status. And those people will return once Title 42 is waived. So we've just sort of bought ourselves some time.
The bigger issue is, of course, you'll have a short-term surge and then a long-term surge when 42 does, eventually, if it does get waived, and the kind of fighting between the state and federal government.
KAYYEM: Which are not only not helpful, they are dangerous or dangerous to law enforcement and citizens as well as the migrants.
BOLDUAN: And so from the Supreme Court's perspective, what exactly did Roberts do here?
Why did he set such a tight deadline for today?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Supreme Court is right again, right in the middle of another hot-button issue. And what Roberts said is, OK, I'm going to freeze that lower court deadline for now.
That allows the program to remain in place. But then he made clear that he wants to move quickly here. He gets that they have to move fast. And keep in mind that that order that he issued last night, really wasn't on what we call the merits.
He was just moving to preserve the status quo, to give the justices more time, more breathing room, so they could read up on the briefs and the case. And then he asked for briefs today.
And that is a real quick turnaround. And we're going to hear today from the Biden administration that already said it was OK with lifting the program. Like you said, it is gone through all of these preparations.
But we're also going to hear from the ACLU. And they've said all along this program leads to a humanitarian crisis. So it really does put the Supreme Court right in the thick of it with these two options on what they're going to do. And like I said, it is all at the last minute.
BOLDUAN: It sure is.
And Juliette, we had an El Paso city council representative on yesterday. And her take was, extending the order, extending Title 42 isn't going to do much at all at this point. I want to play for you what Claudia Rodriguez said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLAUDIA RODRIGUEZ, EL PASO CITY COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE: People know that Title 42 is being lifted.
And they're coming. they're coming in droves. They're coming in anticipation that this is going to be lifted. And even if they get here and Title 42 remains, the people that are going to be then handling a humanitarian crisis are our neighbors in Juarez.
The people of Juarez are also not prepared for this. They're not happy with this. They haven't asked for this. And, quite frankly, I mean, at this point, extending it is only going to push the problem over to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And it really does get at the central issue, which is if not Title 42, then what is the fix?
And we have to call it a Band-aid because a fix would be a true comprehensive immigration reform.
What is the Band-aid right now?
KAYYEM: So the Band-aid, the short-term Band-aid is the safety and security of U.S. citizens and law enforcement in terms of not creating the kind of surge that would be riskier than not. So I want to start with that, that Democrats and Republicans all agree we need the safety and security of the border communities.
That is going to be there for a surge of law enforcement resources and border enforcement resources. That does not solve the problem below the border, which is you have a lot of people who want to come.
It is a complicated issue and not to criticize the analysis from someone on the ground, but it is very hard to -- the push-pull elements of migration are really complicated. The simple lifting of something doesn't all of a sudden bring a lot of people.
They do have to declare asylum. They have to go through a process. And getting that information out to migrants, who might be willing to make this very dangerous pursuit, is key in getting Mexico's cooperation in that regard.
BOLDUAN: Let's see what happens today. It is great to have you both here. Really appreciate it.
So in the dead of the night, a $1.7 trillion spending bill is unveiled. It may avert a harmful government shutdown.
But do lawmakers know what is in the massive deal they're expected to be voting on?
We'll get to it.
But take at look at those pictures. This is Buenos Aires, a huge celebration underway for the World Cup champions. We'll take you there.