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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI); Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Interview With Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Trump Attacks Cummings And Calls Baltimore District "Infested"; Top Democratic Candidates Signal Aggressive Debate Strategies. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired July 28, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Taking the stage. With the CNN Democratic presidential debates only days away, which candidates will convince voters they're the party's future?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we got a straight path to victory in this country.
TAPPER: I will speak exclusively with presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders next.
And impeachment escalation. House Democrats take a major step towards possible impeachment.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): We must make the strongest possible case both to our colleagues and to the American public.
TAPPER: Are Democrats inching closer to an impeachment vote? I will speak with the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler, next.
Plus: battleground wide.
Michigan narrowly swung for President Trump in tomorrow.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a great state. We won Michigan.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TAPPER: Now, as Democratic candidates arrive to make their pitches to voters, the president is hoping personal attacks on his opponents will help keep the state in his column.
Detroit Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib joins me exclusively in moments.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Detroit, Michigan, where the state of our union is counting down to the debates.
We're live outside of the Fox Theatre in Detroit, where, in just days, 20 Democratic presidential candidates will meet on stage for the CNN Democratic presidential debates.
As the candidates prepare to take the stage here in Michigan, a state President Trump narrowly won in 2016, they're signaling their disagreements over issues that could shape the future of the party and of the country.
For his part, President Trump is continuing to use divisive, even racist attacks on Democratic members of Congress who are members of minority groups, a campaign tactic he signaled two weeks ago he would make the foundation of his reelection campaign, when he told four minority members of Congress to go back to the countries where they came from, even though three were born here in the U.S. and all four are American citizens.
Yesterday, President Trump attacked Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, tweeting that his majority African-American congressional district, which includes parts of Baltimore, is -- quote -- "a disgusting rat and rodent infested mess. If Cummings spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous and filthy place. No human being would want to live there" -- unquote.
Seven hundred eighteen thousand human beings live in Cummings' district. And President Trump is their president as well, though he apparently views them and the city of Baltimore as someone else's responsibility.
Moreover, President Trump attacked those four freshman congresswomen of color under the guise of their criticisms of the U.S., which the president is doing here as well, of course, unless he does not believe Baltimore is part of America.
Joining me now in Detroit, 2020 presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.
And, Senator Sanders, I know you want to talk about issues, but I do also want to talk about what President Trump said about your former colleague in the House Elijah Cummings and his district being -- quote -- "a disgusting rat and rodent infested mess that no human being would want to live in."
What's your response?
SANDERS: Jake, it's unbelievable that we have a president of the United States who attacks American cities, who attacks Americans, who attacks somebody who's a friend of mine.
Elijah Cummings is one of the most decent and outstanding members of the House of Representatives. He fights every day to improve life in his community.
I do find it interesting that, when we have rural Republican districts where life expectancy is going down, where downtowns are boarded up, where people are struggling -- and people are struggling in rural America. They're struggling in urban America. They're struggling in suburban America.
Our job is to bring people together, to improve life for all people, not to be a -- have a racist president who attacks people because they are African-Americans. That is a disgrace. And that is why we're going to defeat this president.
TAPPER: He obviously thinks that these racist attacks will be effective. Are you concerned that they might be?
SANDERS: No, I don't.
I think, at the end of the day, the American people understand that, whether you're black, whether you're white, whether really Latino, Asian American, Native American, what we need is an agenda that works for all of us, and not have a president who divides us up.
We need health care for all. We need to lower the cost of prescription drugs. We need to make public colleges, universities tuition-free. We need to cancel student debt.
The American people are behind those issues. They will not accept the president trying to divide us up by the color of our skin or where we were born.
TAPPER: Let's talk about one of those issues specifically.
You and other 2020 Democrats are going to be debating on the stage just steps from where we are right now. Your Medicare for all plan will be front and center, no doubt.
Senator Kamala Harris says she supports it, and she will not raise taxes on middle-class Americans to fund it.
I want you to take a listen to what former Vice President Joe Biden had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I find that people who say they're for Medicare for all, but they're not going to tax the middle class, because you don't need to do that, come on. I mean, what is this? Is this a fantasy world here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you agree with Vice President Biden that Senator Harris is in a fantasy world?
SANDERS: Well, I think the first thing that we have to understand is, under Medicare for all, similar to what Canada has, people are not going to pay any premiums. They're not going to pay any deductibles. They are not going to pay any co-payments. So if you call a premium a tax, we're getting rid of that. But I do
believe that, in a progressive way, people will have to pay taxes. The wealthy will obviously pay the lion's share of those taxes.
But at the end of the day, the vast majority of the American people will pay substantially less for the health care that they now receive, because we're going to do away with hundreds of billions of dollars of administrative waste. We're going to do away with the incredible profiteering of the insurance companies and the drug companies.
So people will be paying, in some cases, more in taxes, but, overall, because they're not going to pay premiums, deductibles, co-payments, they will be paying less for their health care.
TAPPER: So, is Vice President Biden correct that anybody who says Medicare for all is going to happen, but we're not going to raise taxes on anybody or on the middle class is a fantasy world?
SANDERS: No, I think...
SANDERS: Well, obviously, health care is not free. Right now, we pay it for through premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. In Canada, it's paid through -- paid through taxes. We will have to do that.
TAPPER: A senior aide to former Vice President Biden is laying out his campaign's debate strategy in a new memo that they issued this weekend.
This strategist writes -- quote -- "He's going to draw contrasts where there are policy disagreements in the field, like on health care. Booker, Gillibrand, Harris and Warren all have signed on to Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all plan, which means higher taxes on the middle class. That's a nonstarter for Joe Biden."
SANDERS: Well, you...
TAPPER: Now, you're not -- you're not going to be on the stage with him...
TAPPER: ... because of the luck of the draw.
SANDERS: Well, you see, that is disingenuous on the part of Joe.
Yes, it's going to mean higher taxes. But if I raise your taxes, say, hypothetically, by $8,000, and I remove -- and I lower the health care costs that you're now paying with premiums and deductibles, which are now $12,000, you're $4,000 to the good.
We are the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health cancel to all or, in one form or another, have a national health care program. So, we under a Medicare for all, are going to substantially lower
prescription drug costs. We're going to do away with the incredible complexity and bureaucracy and waste in the current system.
But at the end of the day, again, you may pay more in taxes. You're not paying premiums. You're not paying co-payments. You're not paying deductibles. You will pay less for your health care costs than you're currently paying right now.
TAPPER: And you think Vice President Biden knows that?
SANDERS: Of course he does. And nobody -- nobody -- every study out there tells us that Medicare for all will save substantial sums of money.
Last year, the drug companies made $69 billion in profit at the same time as one out of five Americans can't afford the medicine that they need. So you're seeing massive profiteering on the part of the health care industry.
You're seeing just incredible bureaucracy and waste. Anybody who deals with an insurance company understands the kind of bureaucracy that exists. You're seeing now over 80 million Americans who cannot afford the health insurance that they need. They're either uninsured or they are underinsured.
This is a dysfunctional system designed to make profits for the people in the health care industry, not to provide quality care to all. We're going to end that.
TAPPER: You just talked about the drug companies. You're taking a bus to Canada later this morning to fight for more affordable insulin for people with disabilities.
At a fund-raiser last night here in Detroit, you appeared to compare pharmaceutical industry executives who are artificially jacking up prices to murderers. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Somebody goes out and shoots somebody, they're called a murderer. We all agree with that. Put them away.
But what happens, what happens if somebody runs a pharmaceutical industry and artificially jacks up the price...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Murderer!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Murderer!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Pharmaceutical -- pharmaceutical executives -- I think -- first of all, I misspoke. I said disabilities, when I meant diabetes, obviously, for insulin.
Pharmaceutical executive see themselves as people who help save lives and improve lives.
TAPPER: Do you really see them as murderers?
SANDERS: Well, here's -- we have -- this is a philosophical issue that we have to deal with.
If, in the case of insulin, people are dying right now -- the cost of insulin has soared in recent years. You have three companies who control over 90 percent of the insulin market. One out of four people -- we have seven million people who use insulin -- one out of four are rationing on insulin.
People are dying. There is strong evidence that there is price- fixing, that these companies simultaneously raise the prices at outrageous levels, far, far, far more than the cost of production.
Jake, if I have a product that costs me a few dollars to make, and I jack up that price, and you can't afford it, and you die, what do you call me?
So you can call them whatever you want. But I will tell you that, as president of the United States, we are going to take on the pharmaceutical industry. We're going to have an attorney general who is going to deal with the incredible concentration of ownership, and we're going to use antitrust legislation.
I'm going right now, in a few minutes, into Canada. The cost of insulin is one-tenth of the price, 10 percent of the price, same products, that we're paying here in the United States.
So, you can call the drug company executives whatever you want, but what they are doing involves corruption, in my view. That's price- fixing. It involves unbelievable greed, where they're making -- as I mentioned, the top 10 companies last year made $69 billion in profits. The top three insulin companies make $14 billion in profits.
And people are rationing. One out of four people are rationing their insulin, and people are dying. That is unacceptable in the United States of America.
And if I'm elected president, trust me, they're not going to get away with that.
TAPPER: You recently revealed a plan to forgive all $1.6 trillion of student debt in the U.S., covering 45 million people.
Senator Cory Booker had some criticism of that. Again, you're not going to be on the stage with him ,so I want to give you a chance to address it.
Here's Senator Booker.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's canceling debt for people that are of higher income brackets or going into jobs, whether they're large corporate jobs or Wall Street jobs that are going to give them the ability to pay back their money.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: Why should the American taxpayer pay the student debt for the child of a millionaire or an entry-level employee at Goldman Sachs?
SANDERS: Obviously, those are not the people who have the student debt.
The overwhelming majority of people who have student debt are working- class people who are lower-income people. They are African-Americans. They are Latinos. They are struggling right now.
And many of these people, right today, unbelievably -- I talk to them every day -- they can't afford to get married and have kids. They can't afford to buy a house. They can't afford even to buy a car. There's a tremendous weight of oppression around their shoulders.
They were told, go to college. And they did. They took out huge loans. They were told they're going to get good-paying jobs. Well, that did not happen.
Now, my view is that, if the United States Congress could bail out the crooks on Wall Street who destroyed this economy, if we can give a trillion-and-a-half dollars in tax breaks to the top 1 percent and large profitable corporations like Amazon, $11 billion profits in the last year, owned by the wealthiest guy in this country, didn't -- doesn't pay a nickel in federal income taxes.
If we can do that, you know what? We can help save a generation, the millennial generation, and cancel those debts.
TAPPER: Former Vice President Biden is spending a lot of time on the campaign trail defending his support for the 1994 crime bill, which he authored.
You also voted for it, though you made clear your concern about mass incarceration at the time. Let's roll that clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1994)
SANDERS: We are dooming today tens of millions of young people to a future of bitterness, misery, hopelessness, drugs, crime and violence.
And, Mr. Speaker, all the jails in the world -- and we already imprison more people per capita than any other country -- will not make that situation right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And yet you voted for the bill because there were many provisions in it that you did like.
How do you explain to communities of color today in particular why that yes-vote was worth the cost, even though you saw the mass incarceration problem coming down the pike?
SANDERS: Yes, I'll tell you what.
Look, when you have a large bill, as you well know, Jake, that has many features in it, many provisions in it, you have to make a choice. And the choice that I had made is, I had run for office -- and this was back in '88 and again in 1990.
You know what I said to the people of Vermont? And, by the way, Vermont is a state that then had virtually no gun control laws at all. I said, we have got to ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons -- of assault weapons. That was way back then.
And that's what I told the people. This bill, as you know, the crime bill, did have a ban on assault weapons, also had the provision in there dealing with Violence Against Women Act. And I made a promise to women.
So, I was on the floor -- what you just showed is me understanding how bad aspects of that bill was. But I made a promise to the people of Vermont. And, since then, I have been doing my best helping to lead the effort for real criminal justice reform, so that we end the disgrace of having more people in jail than any other country, so that we have today hundreds of thousands of people in jail because they're too poor to pay for cash bail.
I helped lead the effort against the terrible war on drugs, which has destroyed so many lives. And I'm proud that, in my last campaign, we talked about need to decriminalize or legalize marijuana, something that is happening all over this country.
TAPPER: I know hindsight is 20/20, but, in retrospect, are you -- are you still glad that you voted for the '94 crime bill?
SANDERS: Look, it's -- no, I'm not happy I voted for a terrible bill.
But I am happy that I was honest with the people of my state. People lose faith in politicians because they say one thing and they do another thing. If you tell the people in my state of Vermont I am going to do everything I can to put a ban on assault weapons, and then you don't do that, well, that's the other side of that coin.
TAPPER: The U.S. is on track to apprehend -- whoops. Don't worry about that. That's...
SANDERS: I got your speech here, Jake. Don't worry about it.
TAPPER: That is for Congresswoman Tlaib, so don't worry about it.
But the U.S. is on track to apprehend more than one million undocumented immigrants this year. In the past, you have suggested that increases in migrant workers coming to the U.S. drive wages down for American workers.
I want you to take a listen to yourself on "Lou Dobbs" in 2007.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2007)
SANDERS: If poverty is increasing, and if wages are going down, I don't know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, let me just ask you...
TAPPER: ... as the larger philosophical question, how do you balance compassion at the border with compassion for Americans and their wages?
SANDERS: Well, what I said about that one, the reason why I voted against that immigration bill, is there were a number of groups, including leading Latino groups, that understood that the guest-worker program in that legislation was akin to slave labor.
Those guests workers coming into this country had no rights at all. So I don't apologize for that vote.
But, right now, what we need is a comprehensive immigration reform package, which does a number of things. Number one, it leads to a path towards citizenship for the 11 million who are undocumented right now. That's what we have got to do.
It provides legal status for the 1.8 million people, young people, who are in the DACA program. And it develops a compassionate and humane process for asylum at the border.
People traveling 1,000 miles by foot with little children are not criminals. They are people dealing with violence and incredible poverty in their own country.
So we need a rational asylum process. We don't need to be ripping little children from the arms of their mothers.
TAPPER: Senator Bernie Sanders, good luck in Canada today. And we will see you on the debate stage on Tuesday night.
Thank you so much, sir.
SANDERS: Thank you very much. Thank you. TAPPER: Thank you so much.
Are House Democrats taking steps towards impeachment? I will talk to the man who would lead impeachment proceedings, theoretically, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler.
And President Trump said she should go back to where she came from. Well, that's right here in Detroit.
We're home with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. We will ask her how Democrats can turn Michigan blue in 2020.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're live from Detroit, ahead of the CNN Democratic presidential debates.
After Robert Mueller's long-awaited testimony last week, House Democrats took a major step toward possibly impeaching President Trump. The House Judiciary Committee went to court to try to get the secret grand jury materials behind special counsel Mueller's report, arguing that information is needed to make a decision on impeachment.
Joining me now, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerry Nadler of New York, the man who would theoretically lead any impeachment proceedings or hearings.
Congressman Nadler, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): Thank you.
TAPPER: I just want to clear this up, because there does seem to be some confusion after your press conference on Friday as to whether or not the House Judiciary Committee is formally pursuing an impeachment inquiry could, because, in your filing, you ask the court to enforce a subpoena for Mueller's grand jury material.
You write -- quote -- "The Judiciary Committee is investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment."
I want to clear this up here. You're investigating possible impeachment, but you haven't formally opened an impeachment inquiry.
Are you trying to have it both ways here?
NADLER: No, we're not trying to have it both ways. We said exactly what we are doing.
We are investigating the question of -- we're investigating the corruptions of the administration, the abuses of power, what Mueller showed, the possible violations of the Emoluments Clause, all the things that might cause us to recommend articles from impeachment.
There are articles of impeachment that have been recommended to the committee. And we are investigating and determining whether we should report those articles to the House. That's exactly what we're doing.
NADLER: And we're going to court get more evidence.
TAPPER: I understand -- I understand the role you need to play as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
But, separately, I'm just wondering your personal view as a member of Congress. Do you personally support impeaching President Trump?
NADLER: My personal view is that he richly deserves impeachment. He has done many impeachable offenses. He's violated the law six ways from Sundays.
But that's not the question. The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people? We have broken the logjam. The president and the attorney general were lying to the American people consistently, saying that the Mueller report found no obstruction, no collusion, and exonerated the president.
I think the hearing the other day was an inflection point, because it showed quite clearly that the report did not exonerate the president, that it found that the Russian can't -- the Russian government tried to influence our campaign, they interfered in our election, they attacked our election.
The Trump campaign welcomed that assistance and cooperated with the Russian government in -- in trying to affect the campaign. And then the president lied repeatedly to the American people and to investigators and conducted a corrupt cover-up with at least five criminally indictable acts of obstruction of justice.
These are very serious offenses against the rule of law. And we now have to get further evidence and put it before the American people as we consider articles of impeachment in the committee.
TAPPER: Do you think the president should be prosecuted after he leaves office?
NADLER: I will leave that to a prosecutor after he leaves office.
But it is clear that the -- well, let me put it this way. It is clear that, if it weren't for the Department of Justice opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted, this president -- anyone else who had done what he did would have been indicted for at least five different major crimes.
And a president who is immune from prosecution, by virtue of the Justice Department's saying that every president is immune from prosecution, should be prosecuted after he leaves office, or at least impeached and removed from office, if you can prove those crimes. TAPPER: You just said that the Mueller testimony this week, in your
view, was a -- quote -- "inflection point."
I have to say, only nine House Democrats after the testimony came out and called for an impeachment inquiry. It's still just a minority of the Democratic Caucus who supports proceeding with an impeachment inquiry, about 43 percent, about 100 Democrats.
It doesn't seem to have been an inflection point for very many House Democrats. Why do you think that is?
NADLER: Well, I -- I think it was an inflection point, that it broke the administration's lie, the attorney general's lie that the president was totally exonerated by the Mueller report. Quite the contrary. There was very damning evidence put forward on the record.
And I think, as the American people understand that, as people absorb that information, as we bring out more evidence, people will understand the gravity of the situation. It's not one that can be ignored.
TAPPER: At your press conference on Friday, you said that Mueller had a -- quote -- "remarkable exchange" with Congressman Ted Lieu of California, saying that Mueller said -- quote -- "But for the Department of Justice policy prohibiting from doing so, he would have indicted President Trump."
Those are your words.
But, Mr. Chairman, Mueller walked that whole statement back before his afternoon testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, RUSSIA PROBE SPECIAL COUNSEL: I want to add one correction to my testimony, morning -- who said -- and I quote -- "You didn't charge the president because of the OLC opinion."
That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we didn't reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Were you not aware that Mueller had walked that back?
NADLER: Well, what Mueller -- Mueller very carefully in the report and there said that he did not make a decision, but he did not make a decision only because he thought -- and he says this in the report -- he thought it unfair to the president to say he was guilty and was likely guilty of a crime, when the president couldn't defend himself in a trial that wouldn't occur -- that wouldn't occur because he could not be indicted because of the Department of Justice's decision.
But it is very clear from what the Mueller report lays out. It lays out five instances of obstruction of justice, and it lays out the three elements of the crime very clearly, with all the evidence that shows -- that shows that he -- that, had he not been the president, he would have been indicted for those crimes.
TAPPER: Right, but the exchange with Ted Lieu is misleading, because Mueller walked it back. He said he didn't mean to say what he said to Ted Lieu.
NADLER: He was very careful not to say what the report makes clear, if you read the report, because he doesn't think it's fair to charge -- to say the president is charged, when he can't -- when there can be no trial because of the Department of Justice rule.
But he lays out in the report evidence that very clearly establishes all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice on at least five different counts.
TAPPER: You subpoenaed some of the underlying materials, the information for the Mueller report on Friday, saying that there appears to be -- quote -- "compelling evidence of the president's misconduct outside of what's in the Mueller report."
Are you suggesting that Mueller and his team left pivotal evidence out of his report and testimony?
The Mueller team conceived of its -- of its purview in rather narrow terms. They looked at a couple of things. There were things that they didn't really look at, for instance, all the financial entanglements of the -- of the -- Trump with the Russians and to what extent did that influence the Russian attempt to help the Trump campaign win and the -- and the cooperation of the Trump campaign gave to the Russians?
There were quite a few different things, the Emoluments Clause, the fact that the administration -- or the administration -- that Trump seems to be making lots of money for his hotels and other things from the fact that he is president, in direct violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which is designed to prevent American presidents or any other American civil servants from being influenced by foreign powers.
So, he didn't look into a number of these different things.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Jackie Speier told me a few days ago that she thinks, if impeachment proceedings have not begun by September, then that -- then, really, there's no point in going on and beginning them.
Do you agree that there is a deadline of sorts, just because of the 2020 election?
NADLER: No, I don't. We have to defend the Constitution. And we -- and it's not -- we have
to defend the Constitution against these kinds of unconstitutional and illegal deeds. And we have to make sure that a president who does that pays a penalty, so that the next -- so that that kind of conduct is not normalized and legalized, in effect, for the next president.
So, we have to do this whatever time frame there is. And we're doing it now. We're engaged in an investigation into these different alleged crimes and into whether the president violated his oath of office to take care the laws are faithfully executed, to the various abuses of power.
And we're investigating -- we're looking into, as I said, the articles of impeachment that have been referred to the committee and other articles that might be drafted.
TAPPER: Chairman Jerry Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee, thank you so much for your time, sir. We appreciate it.
NADLER: You're quite welcome.
TAPPER: My next guest has been a very vocal supporter, to say the least, of impeachment since the day she was sworn in earlier this year.
That's gotten the attention of President Trump, who told Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and three of her colleagues to go back where they came from.
Well, Congresswoman Tlaib came from here. She was born and raised in Detroit. We're actually sitting in her congressional district.
And she joins us now to talk about her message and Michigan voters.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): Well, thank you for having me.
TAPPER: I know you want to talk about Michigan. And I will ask you that in a second.
But I do want to get your reaction to a couple things in the news.
First, you just heard Chairman Nadler talking about impeachment. You have been in favor of impeaching President Trump since you were inaugurated.
Why do you think so many House Democrats are not with you? Why do you think you're in the minority among Democrats on that?
TLAIB: Well, I know, in my district, in the 13th Congressional District, very much rooted in what they're thinking and how they're feeling in regards to a lawless president, especially one that hasn't divested in his businesses. And they feel like what they call here is upgraded version of pay-to-
play. If you want to do business with the federal government, go stay at the D.C. hotel -- Trump's hotel in D.C.
So that is very alarming to a lot of my residents, who don't want any kind of corruption, right? They don't -- it's something that we fight against all the time, even on different levels of government here. And they don't want to see people being able to pay into mergers that he just approved that hurt working families, increase cell phone bills when he allowed the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.
And I tell people all the time T-Mobile spend over like $200,000 alone at the D.C. Trump Hotel. And that kind of tainting of the process and not upholding the United States Constitution, which requires -- every single president prior to Donald Trump has divested in their businesses.
Even President Carter sold his bean farm.
TAPPER: But are you saying you're more sensitive to issues of corruption than other House Democrats are?
And I think -- look, I think they are worried. But they're also more -- I think there's always this -- cautious of whether or not they're going to win, right?
But I always remind people the Watergate class -- and this is the largest incoming class since Watergate, ironically -- did not rely on whether or not this was going to go through the Senate, right? They did what was right for the country. They put country before political strategy, before polling.
And they said, is this right now a crisis, a constitutional crisis? Do we need to move forward? And they did. And they did right by the country. And I think, and, very much, it was something that benefited all the American people.
TAPPER: I want to get your response. You're on the House Oversight Committee with Chairman and Congresswoman Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
The president obviously referred to Cummings' district in Baltimore as -- quote -- "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess," said that -- quote -- "No human being would want to live there."
I don't want to project, but he very easily could have said those same things about Detroit, it seems to me.
And he continues to say things about American cities all across this country. I mean, look, our president has a hate agenda. He doesn't have a policy agenda. And that's what he falls down on, right?
He -- right now, as people are in my district every single day, I talk to folks that are losing their jobs, not getting paid what they need. Their pay -- they're literally working three or four jobs just to make ends meet.
So many folks at the front line are really suffering. And they want somebody that's going to follow through on reducing prescription drugs and all this.
But, Jake, I mean, this hate agenda is now seeping into policy-making. You see the deregulation in EPA. And you hear from my residents in downriver here in Ecorse, Rouge, and Melvindale tell me constantly and even in Southwest Detroit, we have a right to breathe clean air. There's something going on here. We don't feel like our government is protecting us.
And it's because of the corporation is seeping in. I mean, this is a crooked CEO in the White House that is making decisions based on profits, based on where his friends and based on what his Trump Organization, his for-profit industry would benefit from, vs. what is best for the American people.
This hate agenda is not -- we're not going to get played here, especially in the 13th Congressional District. We can see it from far away that he's incompetent, that he hasn't been able to follow through on the promises he made.
And people are hurting more and more, from farmers to autoworkers, to the mother that is trying to provide for their children.
TAPPER: So you talk about the hate agenda. And you know you have heard there's -- there have been criticisms of you from even your fellow Democrats, especially for your support for the BDS movement, which stands for boycott, divest, sanction.
It's an anti-Israel movement, or it's...
TLAIB: No, it's anti -- it's criticizing the racist policies of Israel. And it's a boycott, right?
I mean, I think folks don't know, when you say BDS -- especially in around the country, when you say BDS, they don't -- they know not sure what it means.
TAPPER: Boycott, divest, sanction.
TAPPER: I want to get your reaction to something that Senator Schumer said about BDS, which is a movement you support.
TAPPER: He said -- quote -- "When there is such a double standard, when the world treats everybody one way and the Jew or the Jewish state another way, there's only one word for it, anti-Semitism. Let us call out the BDS movement for what it is."
And I think one of the questions that Senator Schumer and other supporters of Israel might have is, why focus on just Israel? Why not also call for sanctions against other countries where you might have issues, such as Egypt or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia?
TLAIB: Oh, absolutely.
And I think, if there was an economic boycott movement around Saudi Arabia, I will be the first to sign up for it.
I can tell you, they're -- all around college campuses, there are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, all different kinds of backgrounds who are pushing back against racist policies in Israel, because they see that -- the human rights violations of children being detained, the fact that my grandmother, who lives in the West Bank right now, does not have equality, she doesn't have freedom of travel.
She is someone that right now, under occupation, is feeling less than.
And I grew up in the most blackest, beautiful in the country, where every corner in Detroit here, you will see a reminiscence of the civil rights movement, of the labor rights movement. And we did it through economic boycott. It is a form of freedom of speech.
But people want to dismiss it because they're trying to say it's anti- Semitism. That's the way they're trying to discredit the fact that we all know, under Netanyahu's regime, human rights violations have gotten worse. And we need to be able to...
TAPPER: Well, why not -- why not boycott Egypt? They have human rights...
TLAIB: Oh, I would boycott Egypt, of course. I'm very critical.
TAPPER: But you keep saying you would -- you would boycott Saudi Arabia, you would boycott Egypt, but you're not.
TLAIB: Oh, let me tell you, but there -- right now, there is not a bill or resolution the floor that is saying, stop boycotting Egypt.
TAPPER: But you could invite one.
TLAIB: Of course.
And I would absolutely oppose any sort of oppression of freedom of speech, of First Amendment right in this country. It's a slippery slope, Jake, because, tomorrow, if folks want to protest -- boycott Saudi Arabia, and there's a movement, and it's got a name, they're going to go ahead and pass a resolution saying, you don't have freedom of speech, you don't have a right to First Amendment?
You can't be double standard. But, of course I would oppose any kind of oppression of that sort of freedom -- of dismissing somebody's right, First Amendment right.
And we have cases around the country from teachers who don't even know what's going on Israel who do not feel like they should wipe away their First Amendment right to be able to speak out through economic boycott.
TAPPER: I know you want to talk about Michigan, so just last question on this.
Do you think the Jewish people have the right to a state in the area where Israel exists now?
TLAIB: Look, I truly believe the state of Israel exists, correct.
But, understand, does it exist in the detriment of inequality for the Palestinian people, detriment of not really moving forward in a peaceful resolution? We're never going to have peace, I truly believe, if separate but equal is the way they want to go.
And I can tell you, I learned that from my African-American teachers in Detroit public schools, who showed me what the pain of oppression looks like. We're not going to have peace if we don't understand that we are dehumanizing Palestinians every single day when we choose Israel over their rights.
TAPPER: But, yes or no, does Israel have a right to exist?
TLAIB: Oh, of course.
TLAIB: But just like Palestinians have a right to exist. Palestinians also have a right to human rights.
We can't say one or the other. We have to say it in the same breath, or we're not going to actually have a peaceful resolution.
TAPPER: So President Trump's -- I know you want to talk about Michigan.
TAPPER: President Trump's win in Michigan is one of the main reasons he's president.
TAPPER: And when it comes to pitching voters here on his reelection, the economy is better in Michigan now than it was in 2016.
TLAIB: Really? Because GM is leaving.
TAPPER: The unemployment -- well, OK. I'm sure you can point to individual cases.
But the unemployment rate has dropped from 5.1 percent to 4.2 percent. The GDP of Michigan has increased by nearly 8 percent. Why should Michigan voters turn over control of the economy to Democrats, when it is doing better under President Trump?
TLAIB: Look, it's not handing over to anybody. It is making sure that they come priority before anybody else.
Look, the numbers that come out, that's not what's felt here, because, yes, there are low-end, low-wage jobs. Some have multiple jobs. Some are part-time jobs.
TAPPER: But wages are going up.
TLAIB: Their wages are going up because the people are demanding it go up, not because Donald Trump wanted them to go up. Does that make sense?
Because the movement of Fight For 15 is growing. The movement to hold the corporations accountable is growing. And it's because of movement work, not because of who is president of the United States.
Transformation, from the civil rights movement to the labor rights movement, didn't happen because somebody introduced a bill or whoever was president at the time. It happened because people on the ground here, especially in Wayne County, in Detroit, I have seen it over and over again, they demanded it change.
And so you see a movement of saying no more. One job should be enough, that we should be pushing back against this kind of form of putting corporations and giving them the tax giveaways vs. putting it in the pockets of American people.
TAPPER: But the economy is doing better in Michigan under President Trump.
TLAIB: But I don't put President Trump as the reason.
It's because of the people demanding it. If you don't think the labor rights movement is growing, especially in the service industry, there was just the strike downtown from security officers saying, we deserve health care.
If you haven't seen what's happening at airports right now across the nation, thousands just showed up at Reagan. We're going to have tons of folks down at the Delta terminal here at Wayne Metro Airport.
And you see that is happening, is that they're demanding it, not because they're relying on who's president of the United States.
TAPPER: So, very quickly, we have the debate coming up.
The mayor of Detroit just endorsed Joe Biden. Do you think that Joe Biden or do you think one of the more progressive candidates has a better chance of turning Michigan blue in 2020? TLAIB: Look, this might be controversial, but I have an amazing,
incredible attorney general right now, Dana Nessel. And I wish she was running, to be honest, because -- no, let me tell you...
TAPPER: But she's not.
TLAIB: She's not, but let me tell you why I need somebody like her that's fearless.
Every single time you turn around, she doesn't hesitate. She puts people first. And I want folks to know, and especially the listeners to know this. Don't watch -- and the performance of someone's debate.
Watch what their previous votes were. Watch their previous policies. That is more important than how they perform and debates, how they're answering questions, because all of us can perform.
TAPPER: Nessel 2020 is what I hear, yes.
TLAIB: But how are we voting? How are we voting?
How did the person in their previous roles -- and every single one that's running has been in some sort of role where they're making decisions, where either they chose people or they chose profits for the corporations.
And pay attention more to that...
TLAIB: ... than pay attention to how they perform in debates.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Tlaib, thank you so much. And thanks for welcoming me to your beautiful city here. I appreciate it.
TLAIB: Thank you so much. I really appreciate -- you're welcome.
TAPPER: Coming up Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says some of his 2020 Democratic rivals do not believe a woman should work outside the home. Her extraordinary new attack.
Plus, what else to expect on the debate stage. That is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He says to the people of America, if your life isn't going well, if you feel stretched financially, if you're anxious about your future, blame them. Blame people who don't look like you. Blame people who aren't the same color as you. Blame people who weren't born where you were born.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Senator Elizabeth Warren yesterday analyzing and describing the president's apparent campaign strategy of divisive even racist attacks.
Joining me here in Detroit ahead of the CNN Democratic presidential debates, Trump campaign adviser and corporate lobbyist David Urban, former Michigan Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm, former Utah Republican congresswoman Mia Love, and former special adviser to President Obama and of course our own CNN host, Van Jones.
Congresswoman Love, let me start with you.
MIA LOVE (R), FORMER UTAH REPRESENTATIVE: Yes.
TAPPER: Do you agree with Senator Warren's assessment that the president is basically just trying to divide the country with racism and other forms of hate?
LOVE: Look, the blame game has been going on for years but in the recent tweets and the things that I have seen, enough is enough. It really is disheartening. The greatest threat that we face is the division of America and I don't believe that any president should be playing a part in dividing America.
I am so -- I actually say this not just as a former representative, I'm saying this as a Republican and a mother. I think that this is exactly what the Russians want. I think it is exactly what our enemies want. To see Americans just tear each other up and the president has gone way too far. Anything less than an apology is unacceptable to me.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can I just say thank you? Thank you for being a Republican who has stood up. We need more people like you saying enough is enough.
We are not a country that craves that division. He is not going to profit electorally but using division as a way of getting to the office again. I think it is going to backfire and I really appreciate you saying that.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But, Governor, you should also call out -- call out your Democratic counter parts when they do it as well. I sit up here --
GRANHOLM: I do.
URBAN: All right. I sit up here and condemn the president when he does -- I believe that we should appear our better angels in the politics.
TAPPER: What do you think of his tweet this is weekend?
URBAN: This weekend, I think the tweets -- we talked about this a little bit. This is a president classic counter punch. Elijah Cummings is going after -- going after the border, saying the border stinks. You're doing a terrible job, Mr. President. Hold on -- and the president says, look in your backyard. Look at west Baltimore there are some really pretty awful neighborhoods that Representative Cummings --
GRANHOLM: He called them sub -- he called them not human.
URBAN: He didn't call -- no. No. No, he didn't.
GRANHOLM: Yes, he did.
URBAN: Governor, he didn't. He didn't.
TAPPER: His tweet no human being would want to live there.
URBAN: Go look at the videos posted by --
URBAN: Go look at the videos that are posted by some folks about west Baltimore. There are places that people would like to leave. And we could do better as Americans.
TAPPER: Van, let me bring you in.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, the president is failing kindergarten at this point. I mean, a kindergartener would be taken out of a classroom for talking to and about people for the way the president has talked about them.
Listen, I don't think that the Republicans can get out of it this time. Listen, if all he said was -- to be fair. If the president said, all right, you don't like the border, clean up your back yard. That would be fair. I would like if he'd be fair.
He went beyond that. He said no human being would want to live in Baltimore. That is so beyond the pale because it resonates in the idea you are sub-human if you live there. And I have got to say, I'm so proud of Victor Blackwell on CNN for coming out and just speaking from the heart the way he did. Millions of people have seen -- he speaks for me and he speaks for an awful lot of people, black and white who do not want to see the president of the United States to stooping so low to dehumanize a entire American city.
TAPPER: "The Baltimore Sun" editorial board is obviously liberal and Democratic. They had a scathing op-ed about this -- these tweets -- quote -- "We would above all remind Mr. Trump that the 7th District, Baltimore included, is part of the United States that he is supposedly governing. The White House has far more power to affect change in this city for good or ill, than any single member of Congress including Mr. Cummings. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one."
LOVE: Well, I -- this is -- this is the problem that we have. And I wanted to say this this is one of the questions -- one of the answers that I have a problem with is that Republicans can't get out of this one.
I want to remind everyone that Republicans are not racist. They are not. The policies that we believe in are good for everybody.
Making sure that we lift people from the lowest common denominator up. We should be talking about that. The problem that I have is the president of the United States is supposed to represent all Americans and when you go after Americans, you can go after their policies, you can even go after when they say things that you disagree with. But when actually -- your words hurt Americans and divide us, that is unacceptable to me.
URBAN: And again, I would just say that the president should be pointing out all the positive things his administration is doing to lift people up, right? Real wage increases, the things you were pointing out to the representative here about how Detroit has actually benefited from this president, how Michigan has benefitted from this president.
TAPPER: I'm doing it, he's not.
URBAN: No, no. But that's my point. That's my point. That the president should be tweeting out about look what I've done for you, Baltimore. Don't listen to Elijah Cummings, look at real wage growth, look at unemployment.
TAPPER: But he doesn't do that.
URBAN: Jake, that's what he should be doing. Mr. President, listen, tweet out about the good things, OK?
GRANHOLM: Can I say that to your point about Republicans not being racist, I know that's true. There are an awful lot of Republicans who are not racist. The problem is, when they don't -- when elected Republicans do not stand up against these racist tweets, they are aiding and abetting a racist president. And that is such a shame for Republicans.
GRANHOLM: I mean, you want to add to your ranks. You don't -- you don't turn people off like that.
URBAN: Racism, socialism, these words are thrown about so frequently, so freely now that people --
LOVE: I am very -- we are very careful. It is -- we have to -- I was talking about this earlier. Those words aren't thrown out.
I've been very, very careful and given the benefit of the doubt because when you throw out words like racist and they're not -- and they're not -- it doesn't really reach that level it diminishes what that word means.
LOVE: This is -- this is an issue where those comments -- that's exactly what they are. And if this president is not racist, he should come out and say, I am sorry. This is not what I meant by these words. And but I haven't seen any of that. And that is really disheartening and it hurts not just Americans but it hurts the Republican Party and all of those people who are trying to promote those policies, trying to promote the fact that unemployment has gone down.
GRANHOLM: He wouldn't do it because he thinks that helps him. Because he thinks going deeper into that base helps him rather than hurts him. And I would say that most Republicans are not racists.
URBAN: Talk about all the positive things helps him. So let's go back to the positive.
GRANHOLM: But he doesn't do that.
TAPPER: Let's move on because we have the debate coming up Tuesday and Wednesday. When it comes to the race conversation playing out on the stage behind me, former Vice President Biden is also taking some income when it comes to race especially from Senator Cory Booker. Take a listen to some of their back and forth from earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he wants to go back and talk about records, I'm happy to do that. But I'd rather talk about the future.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is easy to call Donald Trump a racist now. You get no badge of courage for that. The question is, what were you doing to address structural inequality and institutional racism throughout your life?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And I wonder, Van -- I mean, this has been a potent line of attack from Cory Booker and Kamala Harris against Vice President Biden. But I wonder if the attacks by President Trump actually makes it harder to attack Joe Biden on some of these issues because the president -- that's a policy debate, busing, integration, Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill, et cetera, versus tweets go back where you came from kind of thing.
JONES: I think a couple things are going on here. First of all, Biden is paying the cost for doing things that were popular in the '90s. NAFTA or criminal justice deform, the criminal justice bill, I think Biden makes a mistake when he gets sucked into that and forgets he was -- Biden was not Bill Clinton's vice president. He was Barack Obama's vice president. And the Obama administration actually made real progress on criminal justice reform.
And he never seems to have mentioned that or talk about that. So I think that's a mistake that he's making. I think that on the other hand, when Kamala and when Cory comes guns blazing after Biden --
TAPPER: And they're going to be flanking him Wednesday night.
JONES: Exactly. They put themselves at some risk and some peril because neither one of them have perfectly clean hands on these issues either. And so Biden has going to have to figure out how to counterpunch on this question.
What I love about though is that for the first time, we're having a substantive debate in both parties about criminal justice reform. You have no fear in the Democratic Party of talking about criminal justice reform because Republicans are also talking about criminal justice reform. So you do have a bipartisan agreement to do something.
You're arguing about the details. But I just want to warn, if you're Kamala Harris, if you're Cory Booker, your hands are not 100 percent clean on these issues either and Biden does have room to counter punch.
TAPPER: I want to bring up some polls. I'm going to come to you on the Biden thing. Biden is taking a lot of incoming but he's still dominating the field.
New FOX News national poll has him up 33 percent, Sanders is the next closest 15 percent, Warren at 12, Harris 10. Among African-Americans in South Carolina, a Monmouth poll, Biden 51 percent just among African-Americans in South Carolina, Harris is the next with 12 percent and in a hypothetical match-up in Ohio in a new Q poll, Biden 50 percent, Trump 42 percent.
He's still the man to beat.
URBAN: Yes. So he does -- each of these debates I think he does look a little sluggish, a little slower. We'll see how it looks tomorrow. But -- in his responses, he doesn't look as crisp as everyone else. We'll see.
I still think he's -- I still think he's the most formidable candidate from a Republicans' perspective to address structurally if you look at the Electoral College. Can he get out of the primary? That's the big question.
And then I'm sitting here listening earlier to Senator Sanders and Representative Tlaib and I think to myself, I'm just saying, I was telling the governor like, good luck -- good luck with that 2020. If that's the message, the message is, yes, we're going to raise taxes to pay for free education I mean for retiring student debt for everyone in America and health care for everyone, we're going to raise taxes. We're going to -- sure people are going to pay for it. People in America don't know what they're getting into. They don't know what they're getting into. And when they do those numbers are going to plummet.
TAPPER: Governor --
GRANHOLM: The first night of the debate is going to be interesting because it really will contrast this large group of moderate Democrats and --
URBAN: Wait. What large group of moderate Democrats?
TAPPER: Delaney, Hickenlooper --
GRANHOLM: Hickenlooper, Delaney.
URBAN: The guys that are polling at -- the guys that are polling at like five percent?
GRANHOLM: They're going to want to try to get in on this exact issue which is to -- which is to -- would you just let me, geez. If they want to try to make the point that whole group including Amy Klobuchar that it is the Electoral College map that is going to make a difference which means that there has to be somebody who speaks to people in the independent and who might able to lure Republicans. Steve Bullock is going to be making that point from --
URBAN: Who is Steve Bullock?
TAPPER: The governor of Montana.
URBAN: No. I know --
TAPPER: So I want to get your response to this because Senator Gillibrand said something that raised a lot of eyebrows and seemed to preview an attack that she's going to make.
Take a listen to New York Senator Gillibrand just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have Democratic candidates running for president right now who do not believe necessarily that it's a good idea that women work outside the home. No joke.
We have presidential candidates running right now who thinks the MeToo movement has gone too far. We have members of -- we have people who are running for president of the United States as Democrats who believe the standards for the Democratic Party are too high.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Yes, she did not specify, Congresswoman --
TAPPER: -- who she was talking about. And neither did her campaign. I suspect Joe Biden is one or two.
TAPPER: He voted against increasing a tax credit for women working outside the home.
URBAN: Joe Biden is the author --
TAPPER: I'm not defending it. I'm just saying it's a complicated issue.
LOVE: She is doing what they all believe they have to do which is -- which is dig into those numbers that Joe Biden has. The only thing that Joe Biden has to do really is to show that he's tough enough.
URBAN: Keep breathing.
LOVE: Stand up against some of these attacks. But the thing that is actually working for him is the fact that he's actually saying, look, Bernie Sanders is in a fantasy world if he thinks he's not going to raise taxes for Medicare for all. He's actually speaking to a general electorate.
JONES: Just to be fair Senator Sanders admits he's going to raise taxes.
URBAN: But very quietly.
JONES: Can we get a word over here?
TAPPER: Go ahead. Go ahead, Van.
JONES: Senator Sanders does admit that he's going to raise taxes. He just says we're going to save money overall. And also I do -- I don't know what she's talking about and I hope that if that's the strategy for becoming president of the United States, she's not going to be president of the United States. I don't know what she's going to do but I think that makes no sense. I do want to say I see it slightly differently on this be question around student loans. I know for older people like myself, we think this is a crazy idea. You have people in this country who have a B.S. or B.A. and are a quarter million dollars in debt. They are never going to get out of debt.
And I would tell you what. I don't think the Democrats -- I think the Democrats go too far left on immigration, too far left on health care. I don't think you can go too far left on student loans because if you tell people if you come vote for me we're going to help you, the people who are annoyed by -- are going to be energized, people who will be helped by that will be energized.
I think the student loan -- I think the student loan thing is actually a good thing for Democrats.
TAPPER: Governor Granholm, you have twice won a swing state. Three times because you were attorney general, too. Are you worried about the Democratic Party going too far to the left in the primary?
GRANHOLM: No, I think that -- I think we've got to be careful. Obviously, there's a huge spectrum inside the Democratic Party and going too far left, yes. But I don't think those are the candidates -- I don't know. We'll see what happens.
TAPPER: All right.
GRANHOLM: But I do think Bernie Sanders won here in the primary so you can't say that that is not a strategy.
It's the one thing --
TAPPER: That's all the time we have. That's all the time we have.
URBAN: You're a very good governor. You were a good governor.
TAPPER: Thank you all. Appreciate it.