tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN March 30, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PDT
thank you for joining me. i am fredricka whitfield. we begin with president trump doubling down on his threat to close the u.s. border with mexico. he now says if mexico does not stop all illegal immigration, he could close the border or large sections of it next week and warned he could keep it closed, quoting now, for a long time. >> mexico could stop it right at their southern border. it is very easy to stop them from coming up and they don't choose to do it. we're not going to give them hundreds of billions of dollars and tell them they're not going to use their strong immigration laws to help the united states, so there's a good likelihood i'll be closing the border next week and that will be just fine with me. >> this move would impact people and trade. mexico is a top u.s. trading partner. in 2018, trade between the countries averaged out to $1.6 billion per day. border officials say their
resources have become strained and that the u.s. immigration system is at a breaking point. so president trump is putting pressure on mexico. let's check in with cnn's natasha chen at the southern border in front of the hidalgo, texas point of entry. what more can you tell us about this threat from the president? >> reporter: well, fred, this is going to be a major impact if the border closes here. we have been watching people living on the u.s. side going toward mexico today. they just go about their daily business, they runn errands, go to the dentist, see family. a lot of people cross to work and maybe live on the other side. this is going to be a big impact on daily lives. of course, the commercial cargo traffic goes through a different port about two miles from us. you've seen president trump's words there in his speech as well as on twitter talking about how mexico needs to stop the
illegal immigration from their side because of the massive influx of people. right now, ports are still open. senior homeland security official says while the border closure is on the table, what they're doing now is moving some resources from ports of entry like this to help with the influx of people coming between ports of entry illegally. i want to read a statement secretary nielson put out. she said make no mistake, americans may feel effects from the emergency as personnel of relocated to join the crisis response effort, there may be commercial delays, higher vehicle wait times at the border, longer pedestrian lines. despite these impacts, we cannot shirk our responsibility to the american people to do everything possible to secure our country while also upholding our humanitarian values. and of course, if president trump does indeed close the border, that would be a major impact not only on these people's lives but on our ability to get fruits and vegetables from mexico as nearly half the fruit and vegetable
imports into the united states are from mexico, fred. >> could be pretty sizable impact. thanks so much, natasha chen. appreciate that. let's talk further on this. joining me, former senior adviser to the national security adviser under president obama. samantha vinograd. and molly ball, and assistant editor from "the washington post," david swerdlick. good to see you all. what potentially are the security implications of this kind of threat, closing the border? >> ahead of security implications, i want to point out the law and order president is saying he is going to do something which actually is illegal. there's no basis in u.s. law for the president to close the border. if he chose to do so and was somehow able to implement that, i don't know if he is planning on posting sentries on the southern border, he is precluding the ability of americans living in mexico, 1.5 million of them to cross
into the united states. again, no basis in u.s. law to bar the 1.5 million americans from trying to enter the united states. and finally we have obligations under international law to process asylum claims. if we close the border, we are breaking international legal obligations. from a security perspective, we really have to wonder about resource diversion here. we would be closing points of entry, we would be stranding people on the mexican side of the border in highly insecure places while at the same time, fred, the president is cutting funding to central america. he started implementing that decision. our funding is used to address the root drivers of illegal immigration, so we would be taking money away that's used to address these endemic causes of illegal immigration while at the same time making illegal moves. >> those countries being el salvador, guatemala, honduras. molly, sam makes an amazing point there. can the president act
unilaterally or does he need to seek approval to close the borders like he is describing? >> look, i'm not a legal expert or a lawyer. i think it is up for debate what he could do. it depends what you mean by closing the border. does he mean closing ports of entry, closing some ports of entry, partially closing ports of entry, doing things that make it more difficult to cross but not entirely -- it is very similar to the wall, right? it sounds so simple to just seal this imaginary line people have in their mind. when you get to the practicality, it isn't as easy as we have seen with the attempt to build the wall. if it could be done, you can imagine i would face resistance, including from within his own party because people that would be effected, particularly in a state like texas which is a very republican state where i think you could expect lawmakers from that state to send an urgent
message to the president, finally i would say nobody has any idea how seriously to take the threat because he has made it repeatedly in the past. he has repeatedly spit balled about closing the border. and he doesn't follow through. so even the government of mexico doesn't know how to respond and whether it is an empty threat. >> a couple of things on that, david. a, what could it mean for the relationship which is already pretty frayed between the u.s. and mexico as a result of the president's rhetoric as president and as a candidate, and then is this the president flexing muscle, feeling, you know, rather boasted after the mueller report, feeling like it is time to unleash, do all of the stuff i want to do. >> good morning, fred. i think you're right on both those counts. i do think that federal law and the constitution does give the article 2 branch of government, the executive, wider latitude on boarder enforcement than it does in some other areas. that being said, and to sam's
point, whether or not the president has the authority to specifically shut down all points of entry let's say or almost all points of entry, preventing the right of citizens to cross back and forth is another matter. i think also the question of whether this would cut against the grain of some trade agreements with mexico remains to be seen. i think we need more analysis on that. yes, in raw political terms this is the president tacking back to an issue that's been successful for him and an issue where he feels comfortable. earlier in the week he had that tweet saying the republicans will be the party of health care and didn't get the traction i think that he wanted out of that issue. that's an issue that was good for republicans ten years ago, not as good for republicans now. this is an area where the president feels strong, likes to talk about immigration, and senses that his basis with him on this issue, and if he can't get a wall as molly referenced, maybe he gets further talking about closing the border.
there's a situation here where he tweets this out on a friday, has all weekend to see how it plays, and then he can decide next week whether he is's going to make good on this threat or whether or not he moves onto another issue that has political resonance for his voters. >> secretary neilson sent a letter requests dhs volunteers at the southern border, she also wrote that, i'm quoting, we must be vigilant and we do not create new problems by resourcing against others. right now, the situation at the border has reached a breaking point and requires the help of individuals willing to temporarily use their expertise to help address the situation. so samantha, what do you make of this request? >> what i make is that the president is undercutting his own team with the actions that he took yesterday. secretary neilson did make the statement but two days ago signed what she called a historic agreement with countser parts in guatemala, honduras, el
salvador, talking about unprecedented cooperation or security issues, trying to stem illegal immigration between our countries. two days later, the president upends that historic agreement, says these conditions aren't doing what they should to stem illegal immigration, and said the same thing about mexico. going back to your question to david about impact on the relationship with mexico, president trump unfortunately isn't making these comments in a padded room. mexico and other governments are listening to him. and at this point, mexico is not taking the bait. they said they're not reresponsible sporesponding to his threats. we have a range of issues with mexico separate from this, with trade, narcotics, trying to stem the flow of weapons across the border. at what point does the president who to date has a good relationship with president trump is going to have to say he has to step back because he can't be bullied on these issues by the president when the
president is looking for a scapegoat for the fact that the immigration policies he put forward are not yet working. >> molly, while this may widen the divide between republicans and democrats or really the president and democrats, it might create more fibetween the president and his party. >> we have seen this specifically on immigration. why did the republican congress not do anything to build a wall during the first two years of trump's presidency? because republicans in congress aren't interested in the wall the way the president is. when he pushed them on it and did the national emergency, did the shutdown, you saw a lot of republicans distance themselves from that position because it's not as important to them as it was to him. when he made the midterms all about the caravan and immigration and it wasn't the political winner across the board for republicans that the president hoped it would be, you saw some republicans wishing he
would change his focus, but he is very fixated on this issue. look, i think the president looks at places like mexico and china, thinks they need us more than we need them, therefore we should have leverage. he is not entirely wrong. we see china coming to the table to change trade agreements with them in response to tariffs imposed, but the whole point of those relationships is that they're mutually beneficial. if you do something to spite your partner, it is going to hurt the united states as well. that i think is the message members of his own party will try to get the president to accept. >> david, the president made this threat before, closing the border. what might be different this time, that he might make good on that threat. >> he has a range of options. he could close some points of entry, some ports, not all of them. he could deploy different resources from homeland security, border patrol and i.c.e. and other enforcement agencies at various places, but there would be a severe economic
impact if he completely shut down the border. mexico is an ally as sam said and huge trading partner. >> to the tune of $1.6 billion a day. that's according to 2018 numbers. >> mexico and canada, neighbors with huge borders and trade implications. the idea we shut the door, lock it, throw away the key is unr l unrealistic. i agree with molly, not all republicans are interested in this as the president is. that said, he feels it is such a signature campaign promise, build the wall, make mexico pay for it, that he has to push forward on something now that he's got the barr summary letter behind him as you mentioned earlier, that makes it seem like he is pushing ahead on the issue. he made other campaign promises in 2016, this is the one that's closely branded with him. being tough on boarder enforcement in one way or
another. >> we'll leave it there for now. thanks so much. >> thanks, fred. still ahead, the public could see robert mueller's full russia report by mid april, if not sooner. will it be enough to satisfy some democrats that say attorney general barr's summary smells of a coverup. plus, stunning new details on the crash of the ethiopian flight. what preliminary findings are telling investigators.
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pages, the report will be released. barr is open to testifying, suggesting that may 1st for the senate judiciary committee and may 2nd for house judiciary committee. thank you for joining me, congressman. your reaction to the time line and barr's offer to testify and to release a redacted report? >> we're standing by our time line, chairman nadler's request to have all materials turned over to us by april 2nd. that was still a more permissive, open deadline than any independent counsel or special counsel had ever been given. if you think back to the kenneth starr report, that report was delivered the next day, and big boxes of supporting materials came over in vans to the u.s. congress. it was the same thing in watergate. the attorney general worked with congress to go to court to say the grand jury material should
be released to congress. >> what are your suspicions here, why it was done differently? >> we have no idea what's in the mueller report. it hasn't been turned over to us. the revelation that there are more than 400 pages in there of factual findings, about presumably not just whether or not there was conspiracy and whether or not there was obstruction but also the counterintelligence conclusions and other material. yesterday, the attorney general was back pedaling rapidly saying he did not summarize the report. he zeroed in on those things he wanted to talk about. so the questions grow more volumous by the day. the basic problem, of, special counsel mueller said there was substantial evidence for the president having obstructed justice. then the attorney general closed
the door and said there was no obstruction of justice, and presumably he was acting on authority of his own 19 page memorandum, which operated like a job application, in which he said the president couldn't be guilty of obstructing justice because he's the president. >> you said questions are voluminous by the day, and if the redacted report is released by mid april and if barr is to testify on capitol hill, your questions by may may be different from the questions now. what does your instinct tell you about questions you would ask barr if you had the opportunity to ask him. >> the first question is why did he throw out all of the evidence that mueller found about presidential obstruction of justice, some of which was public, some of which hasn't been made public. why was it all thrown out. why did the attorney general
decide as a matter of law there was no obstruction of justice. was he echoing his own conclusions in that memo where he advanced a very extreme and marginal view within the law, which is that the president as a matter of law cannot obstruct justice, the theory because the president sits on top of the law enforcement function in the department of justice, he can interfere in any case he wants, dismiss witnesses, he can end cases, he can throw out prosecutions because he's the president. nobody else really believes that, but the attorney general does, and he is the one that made the call whether or not there was obstruction of justice. so we need to read that report. >> house judiciary chairman jerry nadler says he is disturbed by the lack of transparency. a senate colleague said this last night. >> the house committee is entitled to that information because it is the committee that any investigation into
impeachment starts with the house. >> so it would be okay to share this on a confidential basis but couldn't be made public, is that right? >> house judiciary committee is entitled to nonredacted version. they're entitled. i'm not saying the senate committee should get that, although it would be good. >> why should the house committee be entitled but not the senate committee? >> because anything relating to impeachment starts with the house, so they need the full report. >> congressman, if that's the case as she states it particularly because of oversight on impeachment proceedings, if the house judiciary committee doesn't receive the unredacted version and everyone only gets redacted, what are your thoughts on that? >> the senator is exactly right. there's basic confusion of institutional roles. it is up to congress to decide what materials are redacted in
the interest of national security, up to congress to tee si -- decide what's appropriate. if you look at the past practice of prior independent counsel and special counsel, they turn it over to congress because it is our oversight function in play. >> how do you see it challenged, in court? >> we will see if the attorney general continues to play games with this, which is vague mid april deadline, we may have to go to court. we gave them a hard deadline of april 2nd, which was liberal and perfe permissive. he had more time than anybody. he had enough time overnight to determine as a matter of law the president was not guilty of obstruction of justice. how long is it going to take to turn over the report, send us all of the supporting materials which we have a legal right to receive. >> we'll leave it there.
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the 400 page report to make public. barr may even appear before senate and house committees, may 1 and 2. the president says he welcomes the release. >> great confidence in the attorney general and if that's what he'd like to do, i have nothing to hide. this was a hoax. this was a witch hunt. i have absolutely nothing to hide. and i think a lot of things are coming out with respect to the other side. >> the president at mar-a-lago last night. with me, michael zeldin, former special assistant at department of justice and former federal prosecutor. good to see you, michael. help us understand, what would be the kind of material the attorney general barr and prosecutor, special counsel mueller would be redacting from this report before making it public? >> three categories principally. that which implicates executive privilege, which the president has the right to assert, that
which is classified, and that which is grand jury, what they call 6e material. those three categories appears to be what they're redacting from the report. >> now, why in the first place would mueller even give any charging authority to the attorney general, isn't that something the prosecutor would independently do? >> exactly right. i think the biggest problem in this case so far has been that the attorney general, i believe, exceeded his authority under the special counsel regulations. those regulations prescribe that the attorney general has the power at the end of the investigation by mueller to notify congress of the fact that it is over and to advise congress whether he denied mueller any right to proceed. that's all he has the authority to do. but what he did on march 24th
was to take over the investigation from mueller and make the ultimate charging decision, in this case no obstruction. that's the biggest problem. that set us in a spiral downhill when he exceeded what he has authority to do under special counsel regulations. >> is there any way of knowing at this juncture whether the attorney general took that authority or if it was robert mueller who handed over the authority to the ag as opposed to giving that charging authority to congress? >> well, it's not clear what mueller did in terms of his communications with barr but it appears to me that what mueller did was to say in his report i don't have enough evidence to reach a final conclusion about whether the president's conduct was criminally wrong, meaning i could indict him for obstruction of justice. instead, what mueller seems to have done is say there are
equities on both sides, it doesn't exactly exxon rate, and impassing to congress, irrespective whether it is a criminal law violation, it is a violation of his office, abuse of power, high crimes and misdemeanor analysis, that the house would then make. but barr intercepted the pass off from mueller to the house and intervened and made his own determination which is why we are having the conversation we are now. >> why you have so many democrats saying they want the full unredacted version. in fact, the house judiciary committee says it is owed the unredacted version. do they have the law on their side? >> well, certainly have the equities on their side. look back to monica lewinsky, ken starr investigation, what ken starr did under a different
statute is what barr should do here. starr went to the special division that oversees his investigation, this case it would be that judge that oversees the grand jury, and asked that the judge release grand jury material to congress for its evaluation in impeachment consideration. what barr should do, rather than redact the report, he should fien find a way to send the report, including grand jury material to the house for consideration. that's what barr should be working on, not redacting, figuring out how to get the entire report to the house for its consideration. >> we'll leave it there for now. thank you so much. investigators may be one big step closer to finding out why a boeing 737 crash in ethioped in.
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physically, and emotionally. body and mind cigna. together all the way. stunning new details in the deadly crash of the ethiopian airlines jet as they get closer to learning the cause. "the wall street journal" cites unnamed sources saying investigators reached preliminary conclusion. they suspect a stall prevention feature automatically activated before the crash, may have been triggered by a single faulty sensor. investigators have similar suspicions about the october crash of a boeing 737 max, flown by lion air. boeing is scrambling to update the plane software, hundreds of the planes are grounded around the world. to get more, i am joined by an american airlines pilot 34 years, author of the book paper
wings. good to see you, les. is this new preliminary finding enough to convince you the issue is the anti-stall software? >> it is getting pretty close. i mean, we have to understand the investigation, field investigation is still in progress with ethiopia, and still in progress with lion air. at this point with the analysis of the flight data recorder, it is pointing more and more towards this m cast system we talked about the last few weeks, and this is stunning for boeing to have designed the system without allowing pilots to take control of this situation. >> right, because there's so much criticism the pilots didn't get properly trained on the system, that there was some ipad type short course, criticisms about that. help people understand what is
the m cast system, what is it exactly in the auto pilot automated capacity? >> sure. the system was designed as a result of the bigger engines and where the engines were mounted, they were more forward and in an underslung aircraft, when you add power, the nose comes up. when you put engines further forward, nose has tendency to come up more. to counter act it, they put in this maneuvering characteristic augmentation system that says you're close to stall, we're going to take over for you and push the nose down. unfortunately there was a faulty sensor that said the airplane was close to stall, and they tried to wrestle it away. here's the rub with the situation, that the pilots did have a checklist procedure they could have utilized according to boeing. i'm still not positive that will alleviate the problem or would
have eliminated the problem, but here's the deal, that checklist situation is what we call a run away stab trim situation. we see a wheel between the two pilots, two wheels spinning, and if it is spinning, that makes sense to disconnect the switches boeing is recommending to do, but in this circumstance i don't think the wheels were turning which even the ethiopian crew knew of the lion air situation, still didn't make a lot of sense to them. as you pointed out, it is limited in training and what boeing presented to all crews all over the world. >> how much more troubling about the report a few weeks ago that a crew flying on the very aircraft, lion air before that fatal flight, because they had a third person in the cockpit who wasn't assigned to be at the
ready for flying but had the time and wherewithal to go through a manual when they felt like the plane was doing something that was unexpected, and they were able to correct it, that there wouldn't be some sufficient reporting that would happen after that which would send an alert to boeing or to all aircraft that have that particular plane to look out. where do you place blame on reacting to that kind of emergency? >> well, they were up at altitude, the situation, i believe you're referring to the flight just prior to the tragedy of lion air. having a jump seat rider is not unusual to be in the cockpit and it is great. i love to have a jump seat rider, they are my third pair of eyes. that jump seat rider didn't have my myopic vision of what was happening, could focus more and have creative ideas since he wasn't at the controls, fighting
controls, trying to keep the airplane from diving at the ground, so he could be more creative with the process. at this point the pilots were doing the right thing, they were looking at being assisted by the particular jump seat rider to look at a particular checklist. you always want to go to a checklist and refer to something, but you have to diagnose what the emergency is before you go to the appropriate checklist. >> all right. thank you so much. congrats on the new book as well. >> thank you. >> glad you could be with us. still ahead, the vatican now requiring papal officials to report sex abuse to church prosecutors. does the change go far enough or is it relying too heavily on the church to police itself. ng you? you'll make my morning, but ruin my day. complicated relationship with milk? pour on the lactaid, 100% real milk, just without that annoying lactose. mmm, that's good.
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pope francis is announcing new changes how the vatican handles sex crime allegations. he is now requiring vatican and papal officials to report any sex abuse claims to church prosecutors. it is the first time the vatican has drawn up official guidelines for itself on this very issue. here is delia gallagher. >> reporter: fredricka, these new laws are for employees and residents living and working at the vatican or in its embassies and missions abroad. the vatican is its own country as well as headquarters of the catholic church. while it has had some laws on its books regarding sexual issues, it is the first time it
has comprehensive legislation you might find in other countries. it really only applies to the 5,000 or so priests, nuns and lay people that are working directly for the vatican. but some of the new laws include mandatory reporting of potential sexual abuse to vatican police and authorities, raising the statute of limitations to 20 years from the 18th birthday of an alleged victim, and an automatic dismissal from office for anybody found guilty of sexual abuse. and it has been some time in the making. back in 2013 the u.n. asked the vatican for the new laws, it is something that was raised again in february at the sex abuse summit here in rome. so certainly a good sign that pope francis and the vatican have now published these new laws and guidelines, something which can be seen as really closing a gap in the larger
fight against sex abuse on the part of the catholic church. that is the gap that the vatican itself didn't have on its books, a comprehensive set of laws and guidelines when it came to sexual abuse >> thank you so much. i want to bring in cnn's senior vatican analyst, john allen. john, good to see you. so why did this take so long and will these new rules, you know, have a major effect on the church as a whole, or is this symbolic? >> hey, fredricka, well listen, it is a great question why this has taken so long. you know, in 2011 the vatican issued what's known as a circular letter, basically an order to bishop's conferences telling them they had to draft their own anti-abuse guidelines.
it has almost been irritating to a lot of people that the vatican never did that for itself. here we are 8 years later and that hole has finally been plugged. you asked will this make a major difference for the church around the world. well, no. this really only applies to the 108-acre city state at home and the vatican's foreign missions around the world to its embassy in washington and the other countries around the world. but it is symbolically important, i suppose, because it sends a message that there's not going to be any nook or crannie of the catholic church where the expectations outlined in these anti-abuse policies don't apply. >> in these new guidelines, there's a requirement of reporting these crimes to vatican prosecutors, and therein lies the rub for a lot of people. how can you have an expectation that the vatican will police and
prosecute itself? >> yeah, well, of course these guidelines only apply to crimes that are committed on vatican territory, and of course the vatican is a sovereign state. so it would be its prosecutors who would step up and be responsible for those crimes. but in terms of the catholic church worldwide, this really has nothing to do with what happens, for instance, if a catholic priest in dubuque, iowa commits sex abuse against someone. bishops and other superiors have to comply with the law of the land that they're in, so if they're in a place where mandatory reporting is law, then they need to make those reports and they have to suffer the consequences if they don't. that's not just idol talk, fredricka. just recently we saw a cardinal in france, cardinal felipe of leon who was suspended and
sentenced to a six-month jail time for failure to report sexual abuse against one of his priests. the question of what the vatican guidelines are going to be, while interesting, is not as relevant as it once was because what we're clearly seeing is that several prosecutors and police forces around the world no longer are showing the deference to church personnel they once did, and if there's a perception of a discovcoverup, going to be prosecuted. on the other end of that church leaders could end up doing jail time if they don't handle these cases appropriately. >> and the pope, pope francis, also made it clear that he wants to help convicted priests. in a letter he said -- i'm quoting now -- the person convicted for having abused a child or a vulnerable person is removed from his duties and at the same time he is offered adequate support for psychological and spiritual rehabilitation also for the purpose of social re-integration. how is that being received?
>> well, in terms of the reception, i think it's being received with question marks. i mean, the catholic church is, at least in theory -- and pope francis himself -- committed to a policy of zero tolerance. what that means is that for even one act of sexual abuse against a minor, you are supposed to be out of the field permanently, that is no longer able to represent the catholic church in any way. if you're a priest, it typically means that you're going to be defrocked. exactly how this new policy is going to square over that remains to be seen. presumably what it means is that somebody who has -- who is engaged in this behavior, even though they're going to be permanently removed and therefore will no longer have access to children as a representative of the catholic church, the catholic church and the vatican in this case doesn't want to just wash its hands of these people. they want to acknowledge some ongoing responsibility to make sure they're not a danger to
themselves or others. >> john allen, we'll leave it there for now, thank you so much. and we're standing by to hear from democratic presidential candidate beto o'rourke. he is holding his first campaign rally since announcing his candidacy. we'll bring that to you live as it happens. plus, be sure to tune in for an all new episode of "tricky dick, exploring the rise and fall of president richard nixon." the series continues tomorrow night at 9 right here on espn. ♪
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it's the first of three rallies today across texas. after announcing his candidacy he's been meeting with asylum seekers and pledging on twitter that he will continue his push to protect them. meanwhile, a much different message coming out of the white house. president trump vowing to close the southern border next week if mexico does not do something to stop migrants illegally entering the united states. it's not the first time the president has issued such a threat but has never actually gone through with it. cnn correspondent leyla santiago is at that event in el paso where many people have turned out to hear beto. what is going to be his big message at this rally today? >> reporter: if i were anyone watching i would certainly expect immigration to be a top topic. he's expected to be here in just the next hour. we've just started to hear on and off chants of his name, beto, so the crowd is waiting