tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN July 11, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PDT
hill today. he's testifying before the senate banking committee. of course we're monitoring it. good morning, everyone. it is the top of the hour. 10 a.m. eastern. jim has the day off and we begin with breaking news on capitol hill. at any moment the house judiciary committee will hold a vote that is set to get them one step closer to issuing subpoenas against several current and former trump administration officials, including the president's son-in-law jared kushner. the committee is seeking more information on the president's zero tolerance policy at the border and their investigation into obstruction of justice. i think it's important to lay out how important this one is versus all of the other ones, because they're kind of frankly blending together. how big is this? >> we've seen a lot of subpoenas and a lot of investigations by the house democratic majority. here is why this one matters.
this doesn't necessarily mean they're going to go out but it's the targets of this subpoenas and it comes in two buckets. the first is the long running democratic investigation into potential obstruction by the president. you'll remember early on in the new congress the house judiciary committee led by jerry nadler. they're targeting another 12. jared kushner and former top white house officials like john kelly, the former attorney general jeff sessions. but it also includes individuals that did not work in the white house. that includes corey lewandowski, the former campaign manager, that includes david pecker that oversees the national enquirer. why that's important, we've seen throughout the white house has stone walled on executive privilege groa privilege grounds for testifying or providing any information. what this would do if chairman nadler decides to issue the
subpoenas is go after people that don't have that as cover. so perhaps that could get them more information. what it all means is the committee has continued expanding its very lengthy investigation into what's going on. republicans have pushed back saying that this is no different than what the mueller report already laid out. but you are going to see them step forward today on the obstruction piece. the other piece, which is also very important, is the kind of expanded dive into the administration's immigration policies. they will be issuing subpoenas on documents and for system from administration officials related to the border separation policy that obviously raised a lot of concerns from both parties on capitol hill last year, trying to seek more information on that. this is part of a multi-committee effort to dig into that immigration is always a hot button and we'll have to see what comes out of the committee on that. the caveat, this doesn't mean the subpoenas are going to go out but it does give the
chairman the to issue them. >> phil, thanks for the reporting. in just a few hours, president trump will hold a press conference. this is going to happen in the rose garden. he is expected to announce that he will use executive action to add back that controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census. this comes two weeks after the supreme court blocked that question. joining me now is our justice correspondent, jessica schneider. molly ball is also here. just lay out for us here how significant it will be if the president does this. >> very significant. this will mount challenges on a new legal front. the president saying he'll announce his plan in the rose garden this afternoon. we expect it will be some form of executive action to include that citizenship question on the 2020 census. of course the attorney general said monday this would happen this week, but there are really significant road blocks, both logistically and legally to any executive action. the census has already gone to print without the question, so the question is would the census
bureau have to reprint the forms? that would incur substantial cost. or maybe just print out a supplemental page that would be included. then you've got the legal challenges that have already been mounted across the country. we have challenges in new york and maryland and california on that underlying question and including it, and the judges in those cases have so far ruled against the administration. and not to mention, the supreme court's ruling last month, it left in place a lower court injunction banning this citizenship question from being included. so if the president announces executive action it will open up a whole new set of legal chal skpengs they would have to deal with what the supreme court left in place, the lower court injunction. poppy, finally, one thing a source told our pamela brown yesterday is as part of these legal arguments they're, the administration is considering actually justifying the need for a citizenship question based off of democrats 'plans to provide health insurance to undocumented
immigrants. they would essentially argue we need an accurate count of citizens, noncitizens, based on the proposals. could this legal argument work? who knows. >> maybe. >> but the point is the supreme court has left in place the lower court inconstruction so they would have to fight through the lower courts. time is of the essence. they said maybe they could push it off to the fall, but they may incur substantial expense. >> molly, to jess's point on the new rationale that pamela brown is reporting from the administration, the dems all raised their hand when asked in the debate if they would allow health care for undocumented migrants, republican sflar, the third ranking republican just made that argument to me. so yeah, i think they're going to hear a lot more about that. >> sure. but the question is does it pass any kind of muster with the court. this is a pretty novel and i think a lot of experts would
say, farfetched argument to make in front of a court. i'm not a lawyer, but this is -- the court didn't leave the administration with a lot of options. they did leave a door ajar, i would say. but it will be very interesting to see what is in this executive action that is proposed this afternoon, because so far we've seen the administration repeatedly sort of punt and try to delay the deadline as they scramble to find something. the reason that when the supreme court decision originally came down, the doj moved to abandon this push, is because they didn't see a very good or easy or plausible, or even doable avenue to continue to make an argument or find a way to do it. so what may eventually really be the crux of the issue here is the whole separation of powers, right? do you have an executive branch that respects the rule of law, respects the rule of courts and is willing to take a loss when the court says you just can't do this? >> and do you, molly ball, have
republican lawmakers who called out the obama administration time and time again for taking executive action, who are going to do anything of the sort to this administration if they do anything on this front? >> i think we've seen abundantly that republicans are pretty loathe to criticize this administration and that's pretty normal partisanship. but i am old enough to remember, because i am older than 5, the constant description of president obama as some kind of emperor or kind who had arrogant delusions of power and wasn't behaving in line with the constitution. and the actions that the obama administration took pail in comparison from the things the trump administration has tried to do to get around congress and the courts. >> good points. we're just over 5. jessica schneider, molly ball, i appreciate it.
turning to some severe weather, a storm that could turn into a category one hurricane could affect millions from louisiana to florida. it's not quite a tropical storm yet, but officials are warning people to get ready. louisiana's governor has declared a state of emergency. natasha chen is in new orleans with more. i know it's deceiving behind you. it's a muggy, sunny new orleans day, but that's something that could change very soon. what are people preparing for? >> absolutely, poppy. it's nice right now, but we're expecting the rain to come back in later today. we're hearing about a couple of parishes today that are doing mandatory evacuations for certain neighborhoods in low-lying areas and another two parishes are going voluntary evacuations. the worst is potential going to be on saturday and we are hearing about many blood gates closing. it takes some time to close all of them. but dozens of them are being closed in preparation for a
rising mississippi river, including the flood gate here at the port of new orleans where i'm standing. this is going to be closed by around 5:00 p.m. eastern time. we're also seeing pedestrian gates closing, aren't the river walk and hilton hotel area, where a lot of tourists tend to gather. people are heeding the warnings. we're seeing sand bags around some of the hotels and buildings around here. definitely keeping a watch for the stormy weather ahead, watching for storm surge, watching for flash flooding. poppy. >> natasha, thank you very much. let's get a read on what is expected ahead. our meteorologist is in the severe weather center. what are the models showing you in terms of what's coming the next few days? >> i'm just out to 27 hours on the new north american model right now so it's hard to get a feel because it's not on shore in 27 hours. but it is certainly making it stronger and this would be the new model run that just started
at 8:00 this morning, not quite done yet. what we have today is a wind from the north that's pushing all the convection, all the storminess on the southern half of the low itself. the low isn't even a tropical loan yet. it's not even a tropical depression. it will be buried when it gets here. but it is forecast to get much stronger and to be inside this cone somewhere between lake charles and new orleans. if it's on the right side of the cone it will be over new orleans, or on the other side we go to the west and push rain into lafayette. if it continues to develop as forecast, it will run over 50% of the u.s. assets for off-shore oil platforms and natural gas platforms as well. so 50% may be offline, although this isn't a category 2 or 3 storm. this is just get the nonessential personnel off and get some of the women off as well and get them back on shore until this goes by. this is what the radar should
look like until 5:00 tonight. notice it's covered in rain over new orleans, but for today just widely scattered stuff because of the sheer pushing all the rain on the southern half. but later on tonight and into tomorrow, that's when the circulation will get around the center. as soon as all of that convection gets around one point, that's when the storm could explode. could get a whole lot bigger. if it doesn't even do what we're expecting right now, we're going to get 10 inches of rain. in some spots here, if it does what we do expect, could get 20 inches of rain. so you put the rain one side of the other of new orleans, you're going to get flooding. and then something else, the wind is going to try to push the water back up the mississippi, creating a spike to 20 feet. well, guess what? those levies are exact 20 feet. now typically we don't have this problem because there's not that much water in the river. but because of the midwest floods that we've had over the
past three months, there is a lot of water in the river, and so therefore only 4 more feet of surge would actually put it over the top. >> goodness. that's just sort of a confluence of bad events all coming together. chad, thank you for keeping an eye on it nor us. still to come in a matter of days, we have learned that ice will begin conducting the mass raids across the country targeting thousands of undocumented migrants and their families. is the trump administration setting itself up for another major legal battle? because alexander acosta he defends his handling of the sex crimes against billionaire jeffrey epstein. why he overrode what he calls the state prosecutor's roll of the dice strategy. and iran ups its aggression with a u.s. ally, tries toseize a british oil tanker. iran denies this. the pentagon says we have video evidence. ♪ ♪
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that was planned for late june, but you'll remember the president delayed it by two weeks, saying he was hoping that there would be some sort of comprehensive bipartisan immigration agreement that didn't happen, so now apparently they're going to start again this wen. let's talk about this, the legal implications and what this might look like with an immigration analyst. good morning and thank you for being here. >> good morning. >> if this happens -- and i should just note it's so odd to have this publicly talked about. >> exactly. >> never do administrations come out and talk about this for obvious reasons, so people can prepare. but if this happens sunday, what should people expect? >> well, at this point, you know, the legal implications, i don't really see that being an immediate problem because the government does have the ability to conduct immigration enforcement actions, to act on people who have final orders of deportation. but as you said, this has been in the works for two weeks. so just the fact that people know about it is going to, number one, undercut its effectiveness. if you're undocumented and you
know you have an order of deportation, you're probably not going to be home sunday morning. think about this. what the trump administration does is called collateral arrests where they go into a home and if anyone there is undocumented or the family, they take all the people in the home. >> is that legal? >> yes. that's legal at the discretion of dhs. are they going to be putting children in ice vans? are they going to be putting them in with adults? because these raids are so publicly known, one thing i'm worried about is in immigrant communities if there's going to be a discord or pushback. if people see an ice van in a neighbor's driveway, will they try to block it or interfere? then finally, when ice rounds up people, where do they go? they go to family detention and one thing we know from this border crisis, our detention centers are full. >> what we heard from ken cuccinelli on a "new york
times," he said you've already got a million people in this country, undocumented people with removal orders. and his argument is they have gone all the way through the due process chain. >> right. >> and they are still out there undocumented. so i think the question becomes on the flip side, what do you do, other than go out -- >> well, that's -- >> and arrest them. >> that's the -- to me, in my experience, the logical approach of the trump administration. they say that these people -- i think there's an estimated between 1 and 2 million people have what they say are final orders of deportation. but to be honest, on the ground in reality, our local governments put more -- they put more resources into, say, sending you your dmv renewal notice or your jury duty summons than these orders of deportation. they send it to one address. they have no guarantee that the people got it. so many of these people, they have no idea that they should have been in court because they never got the letter. >> but they know they're here
undocumented. >> right. . but they have not gone through the due process, which undocumented people are entitled to. where we see the discrepancy is that the government will send out letters one time to one address saying you must report here for the final adjudication of your case. and repeatedly people -- you know, the letters come back, they're misspelled, they just don't get it. >> we had -- cnn, our team, was able to talk to the former head of cbp, the acting cbp commissioner john sanders, who was only in that role for two and a half months and just stepped down, and he talked about why he left. and he talked about the detention facilities. he was talking about this little boy from guatemala, he was in the cell sleeping and helping the kids. that has forever changed me and i think a lot more needs to be done. >> kevin mcaleenan, he just told kwis cuomo he thinks it's
imperative that more cameras are allowed in these detention facilities to see what's going on. are you hopeful and see this as a change of heart for the administration? >> no. i would be thrilled, but i would be shocked if that actually happened and we saw more transparency at the facilities. and to that point about the children in these shelters, think about what the administration is saying. the cost. now, this is based on dhs 's own data, it costs $10,000 start to finish for one person. you have the government rounding up people at a cost of $10,000 each. meanwhile the dhs is saying they don't have money for tooth brushes or blankets or basic medical care for the children. so it raises questions of where are the priorities, where are they putting their resources. >> thank you very much. a group of iranian boats with
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it was crossing into the strait of. >> i believe it was only when the brits pulled their guns, right, on these iranian ships and said back off, that they did? >> yes, that's right, poppy. so it's sort of a terribly british affair. this was the british heritage, british petroleum super tanker that was being unofficially escorted by the british ship montrose, three of these very fast-moving iranian gunships we understand from sources in london, approached the british heritage and tried to herd it off course and into iranian waters, at which court the
frigade, intervened and they used a cannon with fire power and gave verbal warnings to the iranians to back aup, which they did. the iranians have denied all knowledge of this incident. the u.s. tape, the u.s. had aircraft in the air as they almost always do in this very volatile area as spy planes effectively and also with the craft moving around on the ground, on the sea, rather. so this was an incident not directly connected at all with the ongoing tension between the united states and iran over the american withdraw from the nuclear deal with iran and subsequent sanctions that the iranians want lifted. in fact, the brits are kind of on the iranian side on this. this is iranian retaliation, effectively, for the seizure of an oil tanker that the british
believe was heading toward syria in breach of embargo sanctions against syria, and that was held by the marine commanders off the coast of gibraltar. but nonetheless, adding to this highly explosive situation. one false move in a situation like this and everybody agrees the situation could get catastrophic. poppy. >> that's the one thing that all sides agree on here. if there is one miscalculation or misread or misinterpretation that things could become drastic. sam, thank you very much. ahead for us, secretary alexander acosta defends his involvement in the controversial plea deal given to billionaire jeffrey epstein for sex crimes against minors. what is going to happen to him going forward? we'll talk about it. if you have moderate to severe psoriasis
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sleep number 360 smart beds. only for a limited time. all right. welcome back. a pair of 2020 candidates are joining the list of democrats that are calling for alexander acosta to step down from his role as labor secretary. jay inslee and pete buttigieg say he should resign after he defended his role in jpt jeffrey epstein's great since crimes. he defended with the press conference yesterday. he was pressing the blame largely on the stat prosecutors and the white house say the labor secretary, at least at this point, still maintain's the
president's support. our national correspondent is here to fact check acosta's claim. so what did we hear yesterday that stands out to you the most and how accurate was it? >> there's a lot there, poppy. acosta really spent a long time explaining himself to the press corps yesterday backing up his decisions that he and others in his office made decades ago. cnn went through the points and some of them didn't totally add up. when discussing the evidence his office reviewed at the time, acosta said there wasn't enough witnesses willing to testify, that they were too scared. the fact is they had 36 witnesses. and according to a court filing, there were witnesses scared to have their identities known, but it's not necessary, remember, to have all the witnesses comply to move forward. acosta also placed blame, as you said, on the palm beach county attorney, taking credit for himself, saying if the u.s. attorney's office didn't step in, epstein would have walked free. well, the fact is, federal prosecutors have much more resources available to them than
any local office, and u.s. attorneys knew the number of victims. they had epstein's evidence of his operation that it was going widespread and that's according to courtroom filings. the palm beach county prosecutor who worked the case fired back on acosta's claims in a statement saying this. if this acosta was truly concerned with the state's case and felt he had to rescue the matter, he would have moved forward with the 53-page indictment that his own office drafted. mr. acosta should not be allowed to rewrite history. and then there was the secrecy, the plea deal epstein made being kept secret from the victims. acosta said his office tried to contact victims about the fact that epstein would plead guilty to a state prostitution charge and spend just 13 months in jail. but it's been wild reported that victims were kept in the dark and made significant effort to learn the stats of the case and a frel judge later ruled that the agreement was in violation of victims'rights.
also the secret meeting between acosta and the attorney, a meeting that many federal prosecutors would say is unusual, acosta said it happened after the sweet heart plea deal was made with epstein. the meetings with first disclosed by julie brown, who says that the meeting happened out of acosta's office and at the time discussed not telling the victims about the deal. and brown really gave a very encompassing thought about acosta and she was on new day this morning talking about it. take a listen. >> so did you conclude it's kroenyism? you just thought that he had a friendly past relationship? >> not only that, but it was ambition, i think. and to some degree it worked. look, he's a cabinet member now, you know. and the sad part about this is that all his prosecutors that worked in this office, from what we can see, also fell in line behind him. >> poppy, there is a lot there. my colleague erica breaking it
down as well on cnn.com. people should take a look at that. >> brynn, thank you so much for laying that all out. what's interesting is you're a defense attorney now, so you can see both sides of this. let's just take a moment to listen to something that struck me from acosta's press conference yesterday. here it is. >> a state grand jury brought that single, completely unacceptable, charge. a state official allowed epstein to self-surrender. i wanted to help. that is why we intervened. we did what we did because we wanted to see epstein go to jail. he needed to go to jail. >> does that pass the smell test? >> absolutely not. it makes no sense. as a federal prosecutor, you do
have so much discretion and so much power, and there were fbi agents on the ground still interviewing witnesses when the southern district of florida negotiated this deal. it makes no sense. >> you worked as a prosecutor for the southern district of new york that has now taken up the mantle, and these are the folks that are likely going to actually hold epstein to account here. can you help me understand why this multi-millionaire, well-known guy, high flying, super politically connected to bill clinton, trump called him an excellent guy in 2002, who had a big house and fancy apartment in new york city, when this stuff was happening in southern florida, why didn't the sdny take this up? >> it's hard to know. it would have been because the southern district of florida had equity, they're the ones that opened the case first. >> we know now that there were these victims in new york, these
alleged victims. so i know hindsight is 2020, but do you think, yeah, this is probably something the southern district should at least looked into back then? and maybe they did, we don't know. but nothing ever came of it. >> if they knew about it, then i'm sure calls would have been made. if victims had called them, calls would have been made to the southern district of florida. >> we heard acosta in the hour-long press conference place a lot of blame on career prosecutors in his office. this guy was the boss. is there any world in which it was not up to him? >> absolutely not. on the npa, on every plea agreement, on every indictment, the u.s. attorney's name is in all caps. every call that is made in that office is the u.s. attorney's call. >> and now as labor secretary, people may not know this, but he is charged with preventing and overseeing human trafficking. iconic, right? >> it's troubling. >> thank you, i appreciate it very much. former vice president joe biden
all right. former vice president joe biden set to deliver his first major speech on foreign policy a little bit later today. he says this is a plan that will repair the damage he says has been done by president trump. our senior washington correspondent jeff zeleny has a preview of what we will hear. this is a big deal for him. he's going to play strength of experience. i've been through it. you can trust me on the world stage. >> he is. he's also trying to focus the democratic debate and the larger goal at hand is to take on president trump. so he believes he's the strongest democrat to do that. he hasn't necessarily shown that always on the campaign trail, certainly in the don't. but in the speech we are told he is going to focus directly on how he would change the policies and the vision of the trump administration. the first policy, the vice president i'm told will argue has not worked. we also talked to a senior
campaign official who outlined the blood context of the speech in a quote like this. at the very moment democracies around the world are looking to the united states to be the true leader. president seems to be playing to the other team. the president's assaults on our democracy and institutions and underlying values has deeply tarnished our ability to lead by example and to bring others along. so in that vain, the former vice president is going to be giving a proposal in the first year of his administration, he says he would have a summit for all major world democracies to come to the u.s. and talk to democracy. he says the u.s. should be a leader in that direction. this is going to be very much an anti-trump administration world view speech. he won't necessarily be talking about the other democratic rivals. but that of course is still hanging over. he has a big primary ahead. >> and he's going to play his experience, it sounds like, as an advantage for him. but he also has issues that he's
going to have to contend with such as his vote on the iraq war. >> there is no dount. that is still something that hangs over every foreign policy conversation. skpl we saw bernie sanders do that at the debate in miami. he said joe and i have a big dins. so i'm told that former vice president is not going to talk about the war today to relitigate that. but he has previous times, over the weekend in south carolina he says i was with the obama administration and we rolled back the troops. of course they surged them as well. so it is going to be an issue in this. but he is trying to get people to focus on the matter at hand with president trump and also try and reset his campaign a bit. >> he needs to after the debate. >> right. going into the next debate here on cnn at the end of the month, he's trying to show that he again is the strongest person who would do the job on day one. >> the interview chris cuomo did with him was fascinating. and it was important i think for voters to hear from him and hear him be pressed, where he can have longer answers, et cetera. should we expect more of that
from his campaign? >> i think that will happen. he's been campaigning more this month. he's going to be in new hampshire tomorrow and over the weekend. and i'm told he also will be doing likely another interview before that debate in july. they want to get him talking more and not just simply being seen on the debate stage. because he knows he has to do better in that second debate. >> jeff zeleny, thank you so much. all right. a new report says for years the biggest utility in california, pg&e, just ignored repairs that were necessary on their power lines. that is what caused the huge wildfire. by the way, it killed 85 people. it is a stunning and important report. the reporter who broke the story in the "wall street journal" will join me next. xcellent. they really appreciate the military family and it really shows. with all that usaa offers why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us. it was an instant savings and i should have changed a long time ago.
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welcome back. if you missed this story, listen up. scathing accusations against the biggest utility company in the state of california. the "wall street journal" is reporting that pg&e knew for years that its power lines could fail and spark fires, but did not take the necessary steps to repair them. one of pg&e's failed lines is blamed for starting the huge fire in northern california last november that killed 85 people and completely destroyed the entire town of paradise. the utility company says it disagrees with the report's conclusions. one of the reporters who broke this story for the journal joins me live. good morning to you. catherine blunt is with me. good on you for sdiging, getting
these documents through a freedom of information act request. what do they tell us about over 18,000 miles of power lines that pg&e operated? >> first of all, the transmission line that failed in november and sparked the campfire is incredibly old and it shines light on just how old a lot of this infrastructure is. this is a line that was built in 1921 to carry power from the sierra nevada range to san francisco. and the you toers are a century old, that's one thing. and it also showed the extent of the age of the overall system that it was a part of. the entire system is that old. and we also received other documents as well through a few other means that show that the company had been trying for a number of years to get a handle on the extent to which its system was aging. >> right. >> and it's not just the system.
this particular system that i referred to. it is a substantial amount of the company's infrastructure. >> you write about some of these towers that are 85 years old. one of the things that struck me is you write pg&e knew that 49 of the steel you toers that carried the electric lines needed to be replaced entirely but they ranked improvements to their transmission lines as low risk and spent billions of dollars instead on other projects like substation upgrades. i guess the fundamental question is why? did they truly think nothing like this would ever happen? >> right. and i mean, that's a question that we're still trying to get at, is to why exactly a lot of these projects had been delayed. let's just go back to the line that started the campfire. we actually first reported in february that the company had delayed necessary upgrades to
this project. we ended up getting these documents by asking federal forest managers to share with us the correspondence they had with the company as the company was saying they needed to upgrade these lines. in this correspondence they say very clearly we need to replace 49 you toers because of age and we need to replace conductor and hear ward because of age and integrity. and it is activity at times to permit in these forests. they first proposed the work in 2013 and this isn't the only project they delayed. >> before you go, catherine, you obviously report how it appears regulators totally dropped the ball in holding them accountable and making them do the repairs. a federal judge yesterday ruled that pg&e has to paragraph by paragraph, that is the judge's wording, reply to your reporting. what does that feel like? >> judge alsup is a fascinating
person. he's been overseeing the company's federal probation after a pipeline explosion south of san francisco. what he's tasked with is essentially trying to make sure the company is a good actor going forward and doesn't commit any more crimes. so this probe this in this way is going to be very interesting. i am certainly curious to how the company responds. we have of course given them the chance to responses to our reporting before we published and they didn't dispute our conclusions. >> so you have not heard yet, but you do expect to get more answers from pg&e because of what this judge has called for? >> they have to. they have to file a public statement in court and we'll see how they answer these -- we'll see how they answer. >> well, again, this is a fire that caused 85 american lives. thank you very much for your important reporting. we appreciate it. >> thank you so much for having me. i appreciate it. >> of course. thanks so much for being with me today. i'll see you back here tomorrow
morning. i'm poppy harlow. at this how are with kate bolduan starts right now. >> hello, everyone, i'm kate bolduan. thanks so much for joining me. we are right now to hear from house speaker nancy pelosi. what does she do about her own democratic caucus right now? more a question now than ever after a closed-door meeting with her party yesterday where she made a passioned pitch, i'm told for unity. here was part of her pitch. you've got a complaint, come and talk to me about it, but do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just okay. who was the speaker talking about? four very outspoken freshmen liberal democrats, alexandria ocascio-cortez, e lan oh mar, ra