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Pelosi Tells Dems, Barr Believes Trump's Above the Law; Harris Proposes $13,500 Federal Raise for Every Teacher; NASA Cancels First All-Female Spacewalk for Now; Barr Tells Lawmakers to Expect Report in Weeks, Not Months. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 26, 2019 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: This job because he believes the President is above the law and he wrote a 19-page memo to demonstrate that.

So let's take a deeper dive into what the Attorney General, Bill Barr, wrote in his letter about this whole massive Mueller report. Miriam Baier, is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. She's now a Brooklyn Law School professor. So thank you so much for coming in. And let's go in on some of these phrases in this letter.

First and foremost, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the special counsel views as quote/unquote, difficult issues of law and fact concerning whether the President's actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The two words both sides jumped out to you, why?

MIRIAM BAER, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: OK, so what I want to know and right before that, the phrase proceeding that says, for each of the relevant actions investigated. So what I take from that and from other parts of this -- this is page three of this four-page summary. So page three to me is where it's all at. Is that there are a bunch of actions. In fact, at one point it says on page three, in cataloging the President's actions. So I take that to mean there's more than two. Right.

There's going to be a bunch of actions that the special counsel considered as potential bases of obstruction of justice. And then for each of those, I'm getting sense that he set out, OK, here's the evidence on either side. Now when you see both sides, you could technically have evidence on both sides but that doesn't mean it's evenly distributed on both sides, right? When I say oh, there's evidence on both sides, that could mean, wow, this is an equipoise, you really don't know the answer. Or it could mean, well, I've got a little bit of evidence on this side and so that's something I want to -- I know when I read this, I want to see that.

BALDWIN: Yep, yep. On the chairs of the six House committees demanding Barr release this whole thing right in full, that's what so many people are demanding. Because it's almost like reading the headline versus the entire piece. They want that by April 2nd. Do you think that that is even possible because of the redactions Barr says he has to make?

BAER: I wouldn't know either, right --

BALDWIN: Because we haven't seen it.

BAER: We haven't seen it. So I think -- we don't even know how long this report is, right? We know that it reflects a tremendous amount of work. And it sounds like he's now interacting with the special counsel to get information from him on what is covered by what we call Rule 6E, meaning grand jury material. So that's just a matter of law. You cannot reveal that information. And also, is there information in this report that relates to an ongoing investigation? Because you don't want to undermine the ongoing investigation --

BALDWIN: Thus the redactions.

BAER: Right. Thus the rejections. Now this is going to lead to an important point here, which is on one hand, you don't want to wait forever for the redacted report. On the other hand, you don't want folks to rush and screw up.

BALDWIN: That's a great point.

BAER: That's not good either. And you also don't want folks, if they do have to rush, they're going to err on the side of redacting more. If I have to do this really quickly, what am I going to do? I'm going to redact away. That's not good. If you want as much as transparency as possible. So I don't know if April 2nd is an actual, realistic date, but I know what I want is, I want to see as much of that report as I can see without causing any legal problems.

BALDWIN: And if it needs to take them a little bit longer to take it all in, to redact less --

BAER: I'm happy with that.

BALDWIN: OK. Miriam Baer, thank you very much.

Still ahead, a pretty major oops on a British Airways flight. Passengers headed to Germany landing in Scotland instead. By mistake. How did that happen?

And we get a new plan from a 2020 contender that would give every teacher in America a $13,000 raise. That's next.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Now to a first in the race for 2020. A proposal to use federal dollars to boost teachers' pay and it is coming from Democratic Presidential candidate and Senator, Kamala Harris.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: An initiative in what I am proposing which will be the largest federal investment in teachers' salaries in the history of the United States. And I am declaring to you that by the end of my first term, we will

have improved teachers' salaries so that we close the pay gap because right now teachers are making over 10 percent less than other college educated graduates and that gap is about $13,000 a year and I am pledging to you that through the federal resources that are available, we will close that gap.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The plan would cost $315 billion over the course of ten years. It would give states incentives. The federal government would provide the first 10 percent of funding and states would be motivated to close the remainder of the gap. For every $1 a state contributes toward increasing a teacher's salary, the federal government would then invest $3.

Randi Weingarten is the President of American Federation of Teachers. And Alexis Glick is the director of GENYOUth, A student health and wellness program that touches 73,000 students nationwide. Ladies, welcome. I know -- I know you both and I know where your heads are on this whole initiative, but Randi, let me just start with you. Because I know you think this is incredible and my mom was a teacher and I know she's watching right now and I can only imagine what she's thinking.

[15:40:00] But my question is, is it incredible enough for you and your teacher's union to go ahead and say, Senator Harris, she's our gal?

RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: So you know, I am not going to put my thumb on the scale of, you know, what we will or won't do. We are in the middle of a process. But let me just say this, I hope that every other Democratic presidential contender does something similar. Because what Senator Harris has done is bold, smart and strategic and solves what has become a more and more and more urgent problem. And so what you see is you see her values on her sleeve by saying, if public education is important as we say it is and if it is foundational to our democracy, then we have to make sure that teachers don't sell their blood plasma to make ends meet. That they actually have a real living salary.

BALDWIN: And I hear you on, you know, strategy and I just, you know, a lot of women are teachers, a lot of people of color --

WEINGARTEN: Exactly.

BALDWIN: -- and I do not doubt that Senator Harris 100 percent believes in teachers. But you listen to those other, you know, some of those other voices today saying, this is a little bit politics, Randi.

WEINGARTEN: Well except for one thing, it may -- look, everything -- let's say that everything that every presidential candidate does, including everyone who is in political office, I am sure there are politics attended to everything. But what this proposal does is you could see it from the strikes, you can see it from the fact that parents don't -- this actually solves a problem and that's what I thought was so smart and strategic.

BALDWIN: All right. Alexis, I know you are passionate on this as well. Talk to me about where the money would come from.

ALEXIS GLICK, CEO, GENYOUTH: Well, let me just step back for a second, Brooke, and just tell you, first of all, I'm in Winston Salem, right now. And right here on the ground I am working with a local company, a technology company in which the CEO of this company, NMAR, is right now sitting down with 40 students representing ten schools who come from a 50-mile radius looking at how they can solve technology solutions around healthier eating.

Now why do I bring that up? Because I applaud her for not only raising this to a national dialogue, but it needs to be a national dialogue and it cannot be politicized. We work in 73,000 schools in which we talk with and we work and support 40 million kids a day. Do you know that the average teacher in the United States spends $652 out of their own pocket to support those students? That is north of $2 billion a year. A 40 percent increase year over year.

So when you look at teacher pay right now, I sit here and I say, this is not a Republican or a Democratic issue, this is a national imperative. This is preparing our kids to have the 21st century skills that they need to step into the workforce and we have not made it a priority. When I look at our discretionary budget and we spend 700 billion. Our proposal for next year is 750 billion in military spending. We're talking about spending 60 plus billion in education. So to me, Brooke, we need to have a loud conversation about it. It's time we talk about making sure that, yes, the median is 60,000 for a teacher. In some states it's 40 and in some states it's 80. What is the appropriate given someone with that level of education? And let's make it fair based on the state by state basis. We should be having this conversation.

BALDWIN: This is -- and we're having it and I'm glad we are. But in terms of pennies, nickels and dollars, this is how she says she's going to pay for it for "The Washington Post" piece. We'll pay for this plan by increasing the state tax for the top 1 percent of taxpayers, cracking down on loopholes. You see the rest of the graphic. Is this, Alexis, is this realistic?

GLICK: Is it doable? Is it realistic? Yes. Here's the point. Number one, I think, yes. Is it realistic in that first year where she said that the federal government will support the first 10 percent increase? Do I think that's realistic and she can get that done? I do believe she can get that done. I love the idea of talking about an incentive where for the federal government putting in every dollar, the state government puts in three.

Now you and I both know -- depending on what governor in what state -- there is a tax and spend conversation. They're trying to reduce taxes. But you and I also know we are watching strikes across the United States. We've now seen 20 governors step up in the past couple months alone to say that they recognize that teacher pay needs to increase. So my response back to you is, listen, are we going to have to work on the estate tax? [15:45:00] Are we going to have to find a happy medium? Is she

realistic going to get over 300 billion over ten years? Probably not. But is this the first step in the right direction? Absolutely. Is it doable? Yes.

BALDWIN: Randi, 20 seconds. Let's say this thing goes through, what is the number one tangible change when a teacher gets paid more money?

WEINGARTEN: What happens is that they spend more time focusing on kids in classrooms instead of two and three jobs. And what happens is, they don't leave teaching. We have a shortage of over hundred thousand teachers this year. We need to want to be in teaching and stay in teaching and be able to actually focus on the kids that are in front of them. Not fretting about whether or not they'll pay their bills or their student loans. This is a great proposal and it helps us make public education foundational in our country.

BALDWIN: Randi and Alexis, ladies thank you very much.

GLICK: And, Brooke, there are 50 million kids.

BALDWIN: I know. I know. We'll keep having these conversations. We're going to keep going. I know you all want to keep going. Got to go. I appreciate it though. Our kids are so important.

Breaking news now. All charges dropped against actor Jussie Smollett. Police and the mayor are furious over this and now the prosecutor has been speaking out. We have that for you.

Also NASA cancels its first all-female spacewalk because it didn't have the right space suit to fit one of its female astronauts. I have some thoughts.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right, space geeks, listen up. History in the making, a much anticipated first all-female spacewalk is scheduled for this Friday, astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch are scheduled to -- oh, what's that? I'm being told it's not a go. Not at all a go. One small step for man is giant leap backward for women kind apparently this week. Because they don't have enough space suits to fit women.

To be specific, NASA says McClain realized during her first spacewalk that this medium sized hard upper torso, which the agency calls the shirt of the spacesuit, fits her best. But quote, only one medium sized torso can actually be made ready by Friday. So Koch will wear it this Friday, instead fellow astronaut, Nick Hague, will be joining her in space. Memo to NASA, we have sent a man to the moon, can we not make another medium suit?

Alex Stuckey joins me. The NASA reporter for "The Houston Chronicle". And Alex, I mean, I am a major space fan. I mean a space camp three times. Sally Ride is my childhood hero. But you got to be kidding me.

ALEX STUCKEY, NASA SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTER, THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Yes, you know, I think it's pretty disheartening to all of us to see that happen. You know, it was kind of to me like, OK, I feel like an all-female spacewalk should have already happened. Right. It's 2019. But you know, better late than never. And then here we are and it's not even happening.

BALDWIN: So to NASA's credit I was reading about that 2013 astronaut class, of the eight half were female. That it never happened before. I was reading about, you know, the head of NASA just this month said that chances are for the first person to land on Mars will be a woman. So making some strides. Dot, dot, dot.

STUCKEY: Yes, I mean, I think in this situation the issue is these space suits that they use for spacewalks on the space station, they were designed at a time when not very many women were astronauts. And so, they don't have -- you know, they have two mediums, two larges and two extra larges. But you know, I certainly would wear a size small. And many women I would say who are astronauts would wear a size small. So it's been a complaint of a lot of female astronauts that the spacesuits don't really fit them that well. And I think we're kind of seeing that here. And that, you know, they don't have enough of the same size ready to put two women out there at one time.

BALDWIN: What is the message to girls who have space dreams who may be hearing about this news today?

STUCKEY: I mean, I think, you know, we've made a lot of strides but we are not quite there yet. Right. You know, it was this -- this would have been huge for young girls who wanted to be astronauts to see two women out there. And even today only 13 women have done spacewalks and that's pretty astonishing when you think about how frequently they do spacewalks on the space station just to fix things on it. So I think it is kind of -- it's disheartening and sort of a step back regardless of the reason it happened. And obviously, safety first. Right. You don't want anything bad to happen to anyone up there. But it is -- it's disheartening.

It's time. It's time, NASA. Alex Stuckey, thank you very much.

STUCKEY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Just in, two new developments in the Mueller ministry. Attorney General Barr is saying lawmakers should expect the report in weeks, not months.

And we are getting word that the former Trump aid -- campaign aid, George Papadopoulos, is formally applying for a pardon. Standby.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Just in, a Justice Department official confirms to CNN that Attorney General, Bill Barr, is telling law lawmakers that they should expect a version of the Mueller report in quote, weeks, not months.

Keep in mind we have so far -- All we have so far is Barr's summary of the report which leaves open a lot of questions. We are told there are no plans to send it to the White House. And starting today it is illegal to own, make or sell bump stocks.

The attachments that allow someone to fire a semiautomatic rifle continuously with one pull of the trigger, President Trump vowed to outlaw the devices after the Las Vegas massacre that left 58 people dead and so many others injured. Just last night the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts, declined an emergency request to put the new rule on hold. The government has advised owners to destroy or drop off the devices at ATF offices. And in fact, in Washington state, officials offered up the buyback plan. They have already run out of the $150,000 set aside for that program. So many people were turning them in.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me today. We'll see you tomorrow. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.