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Mayor Kate Stewart (D-MD) Interviewed Regarding Idea To Bring Illegal Immigrants In To Sanctuary Cities; Immigration Takes Center Stage In The 2020 Campaign; Rare Rebuke Of The President By A Sitting Federal Judge. Aired: 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 12, 2019 - 14:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We really appreciate it.


KEILAR: And that's it for me. NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: Brianna, thank you. Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN on this Friday afternoon. We have breaking news from the White House.

President Trump admitting he is playing revenge politics in his fight to secure the border confirming that he wants to put immigrant detainees on buses and send them to sanctuary cities to spite Democrats. Check the tweet. He says this, "Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported giving strong consideration as to placing illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities only."

That admission comes just hours after his own White House said that the idea was quote unquote, "briefly and informally raised and quickly rejected." That proposal was the brainchild of Stephen Miller, the 33-year-old immigration hardliner and top White House aide who was recently empowered by the President on this very issue, but fired Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others within the Department resisted, saying that it was likely illegal.

And at one point, at least one DHS official tells CNN that the program amounted to their words, using people as pawns. The plan by one group's count could affect hundreds of cities, counties and states nationwide, including a San Francisco district that belongs to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A spokeswoman for the Speaker issuing a scathing statement in response saying this, "The extent of this administration's cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated. Using human beings - including little children - as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable, and in some cases, criminal."

Kate Stewart is the mayor of Takoma Park, Maryland. One of the first sanctuary cities in this country. So Ms. Mayor, welcome.


BALDWIN: Your reaction to this?

STEWART: My reaction is that this is abhorrent. We have a humanitarian crisis that we're facing. And in times like these, we need to be helping people and coming together as a country. Instead, what we're doing is turning our back on people and using children for political games, and that's just abhorrent behavior.

BALDWIN: To your point there, the idea that this is retaliation against political enemies and the inference here is that these detainees are dangerous, or a threat or as Trump has claimed, a surge that is overwhelming the system. I know that Takoma Park declared itself a sanctuary city more than 30 years ago. Can you just talk to me about how that has shaped your city?

STEWART: Absolutely. So you're right, Takoma Park was one of the first sanctuary cities in the United States. We became one in the 1980s, when people from Guatemala and El Salvador were fleeing brutal civil wars there. And we wanted to make sure that we were a welcoming and inclusive community.

And when people are fleeing violence, economic upheaval, what they really need is help and compassion. And they need a safe place to call home, a place where they can live with dignity and respect, and this has been part of Takoma Park's values for decades, and we're very proud of it.

BALDWIN: Now, I hear you on help and compassion. But here's the "but," because even former DHS or border officials who are opposed to Trump's actions say that this is a crisis level situation.

STEWART: As I said before, I agree, but it's a humanitarian crisis, and when we have humanitarian crisis, what we should be doing in our country is coming together and figuring out how to help people, how to keep families together. But this administration --

BALDWIN: How? If I may just jump in because I have this number last month, 92,000 undocumented immigrants and migrants were apprehended. That is double the March of 2018, and the highest and 12 years. So you say this is a humanitarian crisis, but how do we solve it?

STEWART: We solve it by acknowledging we do have an immigration problem in our country. And we need to look at what are the fundamental principles we're going to use to address immigration. And I believe that we need to think about keeping families together, not having policies where we take families and we break them apart. We need to have policies that ensure that people live their lives with dignity and respect. And we need to make sure that we stop the fear mongering and the hatred that's going on right now.

BALDWIN: But Mayor Stewart, let me ask you this, is there any scenario in which you would be willing to work with the Trump administration to solve this?

STEWART: As I said, this is a crisis and what happens in crises is people need to come together to help one another and help those who are most impacted.

BALDWIN: So that is a yes.

[14:05:06] STEWART: If there were policies in place to help families stay together and help people who are impacted by the economic upheaval and the violence, their experiences in their homes, absolutely. We're putting people first, not politics.

BALDWIN: Mayor Kate Stewart, thank you.

STEWART: Thank you.

BALDWIN: As immigration takes center stage in the 2020 campaign, Beto O'Rourke, the former Texas Congressman, an El Paso native is taking his fight for inclusion directly to President Trump.

O'Rourke, who was part of the protest march when Trump visited his hometown earlier this year, did not mince words, on the issue when he met up recently with CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is the arsonist who gets the credit for putting out the fire. He is going to cause worse out migration and asylum seeking from Central America by cutting off all USAID, and then he wants to be the -- he wants to be the person who gets the credit for stopping it.

What we need is someone who will not play games or politics with people's lives or the security of this country, but will invest in the smart decisions and policies like investing in Central America to stop the outflow before it even begins.

We can try to address these problems at the U.S.-Mexico border with walls or open arms, or we can address them in the countries of origin before they ever become a problem, and that's what I want to do.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The President says the country is full. That was his message to immigrants when he went to the border and because you have traveled around quite a bit, and you have traveled through all kinds of communities in this country, you know that there is a certain resonance to that with some Americans and some voters.

O'ROURKE: You know what, I haven't found that actually. I was just in Storm Lake in Iowa, talking to Mexican immigrants who came to work at the Tyson's Plant that no one born in Storm Lake is working at right now. And they're investing in the success of that community and the people in that community get it.

Revitalizing rural America, in part, depends on ensuring that immigrants can find a home in rural America. Our success as farmers, as an economy, as a country, as a democracy is necessitated upon new people coming in to reinvigorate this country.

AXELROD: He says he's going to make immigration a centerpiece of his campaign and your answer is "Bring it on."

O'ROURKE: Absolutely. There's this community of El Paso, Ciudad Juarez that is the positive example of why immigration matters, why it makes us safer, why it makes our economy stronger, why it creates more jobs. So I'm looking forward to sharing that message and talking about safety and economic growth and jobs in a positive way that includes all of us.


BALDWIN: David Axelrod is with me now, and I mean, what an interview. Do you think just based upon your conversation with him, the fact that he is an El Paso native that he is going to come out so much stronger on this issue of the border and immigration because of who he is and where he's from?

AXELROD: There's no question about it. He grew up in an El Paso where people pass freely back and forth across the border. There was -- there is a kinship between those two cities and a cultural kinship between those two cities. He fundamentally believes that that is one of the strengths of El Paso. He seems completely unafraid to tread into those waters. He wants to make that a centerpiece of his campaign, and I'm sure that he will.

BALDWIN: You also, David, talked about what happens if President Trump loses his reelection bid, and doesn't leave the White House in a peaceful transition of power. So let me play that clip.


AXELROD: Michael Cohen, when he testified privately before the House Intelligence Committee -- this has leaked out of that -- said he believed that the President would resist if he were not elected in 2020. Is that a real concern?

O'ROURKE: Just know this. Our current President will stop at nothing to maintain or accrue more power. Asking the government of Russia to produce Hillary Clinton's e-mails as a candidate, or on Election Day in El Paso, Texas, which had had the greatest turnout in the entire state of Texas in 2018, calling for Border Patrol crowd control exercises in a community that's 83 percent Mexican-American are sending 5,500 U.S. service members while we're at war half a world away to the U.S.-Mexico border at a time of record security and safety. It's not just his rhetoric. It's the caging of children. It's the practices and the policies and the things that he is trying to do to undermine our democracy in our country.

And so I understand just how grave this threat is that he poses. But I also understand defeating him cannot alone be our strategy. It has to be coming together around the things that we want to achieve, but I understand that the risks that we run with this President in power.

[14:10:07] O'ROURKE: And I've got to tell you, it's the reason that despite the fact that I love being here in my hometown, and I'm so grateful that Amy and I get to raise Ulysses and Molly and Henry, for as long as I can, over the next two years, I will be an Iowa and New Hampshire and Nevada and South Carolina, and the other states of this country, trying to make the case that we can do far better as a country than we're doing now. This is our defining moment of truth and we cannot be found wanting.


BALDWIN: David, I'm just so curious. You know, I want to hear you - your reaction to what we just heard there and then spending time with him. I mean, you were around a man by the name, Barack Obama, and you sensed something special in him. So what did you sense in Beto O'Rourke?

AXELROD: Look Beto O'Rourke is a very charismatic person. I think very genuine about his passion for democracy and for the country. You know, the things that he is going to have to work through here are on specific issues and how he reconciles his record with his broader themes.

You know, he was a rather moderate Member of Congress from Texas and cast votes that aren't necessarily consistent with the image of a very progressive candidate for President, and there were we had some interesting back and forth on that.

And what I got a sense was, and I remember that Barack Obama was not the candidate that he would become in 2008 at the beginning of his campaign, what I saw was a guy who has some work to do and working those things through and harmonizing his message, but in terms of his connection with people, his projection of sort of empathy and principle and so on -- very, very strong.

BALDWIN: Can't wait to watch this whole interview. Let me just encourage everyone to do the same. It's on "The Axe Files" with David Axelrod tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. here on CNN. David, thank you very much. Good to see you.

AXELROD: Thanks, Brooke. Good to see you.

BALDWIN: Just in, stunning and rare remarks by a sitting Federal judge absolutely unleashing on the President of the United States. Hear what he has just said and we will go behind the scenes of the White House and look into Ivanka Trump including the jobs that her father considered for her and what he calls his daughter.

And the latest on that massive college admissions scandal as the actress, Lori Loughlin faces the possibility of prison time. Her YouTube star daughter says that she is in a word, devastated. Plus, a court appearance by the test taker at the center of the whole thing. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:17:00] BALDWIN: A former Obama White House official just pleaded not guilty moments ago in a case tied to the Russia investigation. Greg Craig served as Obama's White House counsel and was released on his own recognizance. His case was first investigated by the Special Counsel team. He was then given to DC Federal prosecutors who now charged him with

making false statements and concealing material information. This involves accusations that Craig failed to register as a foreign agent while doing work for Ukraine back in 2012.

In a video statement, Craig said quote, "I did not participate in a scheme to mislead the government or conceal material facts," end quote.

A lot is revealed and this new fascinating profile and White House adviser, Ivanka Trump for one, her father apparently calls her "baby" in official meetings. Pieces in "The Atlantic" gives a glimpse of just how much the First Daughter has changed during her two years in the White House.

Elaina Plott is the White House correspondent for "The Atlantic" who just wrote this piece "Inside Ivanka's Dreamworld" and so Elena, thank you so much for coming on with me and I want to quote part of your piece in a second, but you have to set the scene for me.

I mean, you've been trying to get this Ivanka Trump on the record interview in DC for months and months and months. And what happens?

ELAINA PLOTT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTIC: I get a call. I am sitting in my apartment in Washington from Sarah Sanders, and she said, "If you want to come talk to the President about her at 4:30, you can," and I was like, "Okay, well, I think I'm free. Sure."

So I go and we're sitting in the Oval talking, and then we're wrapping up our questioning, and all a sudden, his face totally lights up, and you immediately know who's walked in. And I turn around, it is indeed Ivanka, and she just acts like she's entirely surprised. It was a complete coincidence that we bumped into each other.

BALDWIN: You weren't buying that. You are not buying that.


BALDWIN: Keep going. Keep going.

PLOTT: I don't know who would. I don't know who would, and she said -- and she just had to inform the President right then that Siemens had just added 75,000 jobs to her Workforce Development Program. They had pledged that many opportunities and that she wanted to remind him at the meeting tomorrow, Tim Cook of Apple would be joining.

BALDWIN: And he responds and then you respond and you see right through this.

PLOTT: We're all just laughing. And he -- you know, he's going off on a tangent at some point. He says, "You know, she wants no credit. Just like I do, she wants no credit." It's like -- and we just we just laughed because you know, what else are you going to?

BALDWIN: You say this quote, "The Oval Office drop-in did not come as much of a surprise. The world may have gone off script, but Ivanka still follows the teleprompter." What do you mean by that?

PLOTT: What I mean by that is Ivanka Trump is somebody who, you know, based a lot of her success and her lifestyle brand on kind of the cultivation of authenticity, as she put it. So her world was say her Instagram, where it was good for her to post candid shots of her being with her children to show say, a vulnerable moment and in the White House, she's tried to deploy the same approach.

[14:20:02] PLOTT: So something like a casual Oval Office drop-in where you just so happen to stumble upon the reporter who has been profiling you for several months. That's like -- you know, that's just been her M.O. It's ingrained in our DNA for so long and that's kind of the -- you know, you've got her the President, who -- there's an embodiment of going off script, it's him, but Ivanka is somebody who -- she won't even sit down for an on-the-record interview because it's almost as though a free flowing conversation invites too much risk for slipping up.

BALDWIN: Because her image and cultivating that image is so incredibly important. In reading this piece in "The Atlantic," you also mention that the President had had rattled off a couple of other positions, which he would have liked to see her, but didn't place her in those position those positions such as ...

PLOTT: So the first thing he told me, he said, she would have been incredible at the United Nations. And I asked why he didn't nominate her after Nikki Haley resigned from the post. And he said, "Well, they would have called it nepotism, which is ridiculous. It wouldn't have been nepotism but I couldn't do it for that reason."

So in his view, it was all because of the optics. It's not that she, say, wasn't qualified. And then he quickly added that he even considered her to lead the World Bank because she is very good with numbers.

BALDWIN: Dot, dot, dot. That would be enough reason to work at the World Bank, right?

PLOTT: I didn't cut off the quote that was just it.

BALDWIN: That was it. Straight up that was it. The piece is in "The Atlantic." Elaina Plott, thank you for sharing. Thank you so much.

PLOTT: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Just in to us here at CNN News on the mysterious Jussie Smollett case here with the embattled prosecutor who decided to drop those charges against the actor is now saying about investigating her. Plus, a Federal judge just rebuked the President in rare remarks comparing his actions to the Klan lawyers. Standby.


[14:26:25] BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, a rare rebuke of the President by a sitting Federal judge. He unleashes and flat out calls President Trump a quote, "attacker" against the courts. So let's go straight to Ariane de Vogue for the details and Ariane, what did the judge say?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Brooke, this is pretty unprecedented. This is a broad swipe at the President by a sitting Federal judge. The judge is an Obama nominee. His name is Carlton Reeves. He sits on a district court in Mississippi and he was giving a speech yesterday. He was accepting an award at the University of Virginia. And he gave a very long speech and he basically accused the President of launching an attack on judges.

And he really doesn't use the President's name a lot, but what he does throughout the speech is quote from the President's tweets, and there has been a lot over the month where the President has called out certain judges for rulings he doesn't like.

And this judge also, he mentions Judge Curiel. You remember, early in the administration, President Trump didn't like a ruling by a judge who sits in California. It's an American judge. And the President pointed out that the man was from Mexican heritage. So this judge talks about that.

And finally he talks about the nomination process. He says that President Trump is nominating almost 90 percent white judges. Take a listen. It's a really strong delivery and you can hear some of it here.


CARLTON WAYNE REEVES, JUDGE, U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI: When lawmakers say we should get rid of our judges, you can hear segregation. The senators writing bills to strip our courts of their power. And when the Executive Branch calls our courts and their work, stupid, horrible, ridiculous, incompetent, a laughingstock and a complete and total disgrace. You can hear the slurs and threats of executives like George Wallace echoing into the present.

I know what I heard when a Federal judge was called very biased and unfair because he is of Mexican heritage. When that judge's ethnicity was said to prevent his issuing fair rulings, when that judge was called a hater, simply because he is Latino. I heard the words of James Eastland, race baiting politician, empowered by the falsehood of white supremacy questioning the judicial temperament of a man solely because of the color of his skin.

I heard those words and I did not know if I was in 1967 or 2017. This false seed is being sown across this country, from Mississippi to Virginia. I know because I'm here. The proof is in my mailbox, in countless letters of hatred, and I've been called a piece of garbage and arrogant pompous piece of -- and you fill in the rest. This may not be appropriate for children. A disgrace, an asshole who will burn in hell and the embodiment of Satan himself.


DE VOGUE: Brooke, you just don't often hear a sitting judge talking like that. And we know that the judiciary has been very bothered by some of the things Trump has said. We know that he got into a spat with Chief Justice John Roberts when the President called a certain judge an "Obama Judge" and Roberts issued this rare statement saying, "We're not Obama judges."