tv Newsmakers Rep. Gerry Connolly CSPAN March 31, 2019 10:03am-10:40am EDT
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he serves a sixth term in the virginia 11, which is fairfax county and the washington metro area. he is a member of the foreign affairs committee in the house of representatives and government oversight, returned, no longer government oversight and reform. the committee has just asked president trump for 10 years for his financial records. what you expect to see in those records and what are you looking for? rep. connolly: this is a follow-up to the public hearing we had with michael cohen in which he testified under oath the president falsified financial records in order to qualify for loans and financing
that he inflated the value of the property that we just saw, yesterday a story in the washington post corroborates that undocumented. -- and documents it. he also underestimated properties for tax purposes in the state of new york and elsewhere. this is a follow-up to that testimony. just how bad was that and were laws violated? >> why do you think this is relevant? this is conduct that occurred before he became president. rep. connolly: this is a president who has not put his assets in a blind trust, as was recommended. he continues with his family to run the trump organization. he continues to run profits from -- to draw profits from various elements of the trump organization, golf courses, hotel properties, apartment buildings, with his name on it. it is relevant.
he continues to benefit from that enterprise. >> given the report you mentioned in the washington post, documents appear to corroborate the fact the president inflated his net worth. what is the next step? i imagine you will be seeking those same documents. what happens next? rep. connolly: i think it depends what we find. as a washington post story documents, we have to separate promotions in which he exaggerated his net worth and the value of properties, even to the point he added 10 stories to the trump tower. presumably you can look up and count. it is not 68 stories, it is 58. nonetheless, he presented 68. -- he printed 68. that is a distasteful and dishonest and the marketing practice that is false. it may not violate a law.
on the other hand, if you provided formal documents to a financial enterprise, that crosses over into bank fraud. we want to know what happened, what did you do? given the fact we do not have his tax returns, i do not think we have any alternative. if we think a law may have been violated, hopefully we will refer that to officials in new york state. >> either other parts of michael -- i know there are other parts of michael cohen's testimony you are pursuing other leads from? rep. connolly: a rather obscure figure who has been with the trump organization, the chief financial officer. he has, i think, the key to the lockbox. his testimony will be sought.
>> we have had a lot of talk about impeachment and the mueller report. speaker pelosi said now is not the time. i am wondering if you think this inquiry might possibly lead to articles of impeachment? rep. connolly: we can only speculate. i think we need to put that discussion aside. that is not what is driving this. we are deeply concerned and have been since before the president was inaugurated, with issues of conflict of interest. there are in tangling -- the conflicts of interest are not about financial practices in the united states, but they are about entangling relationships overseas. he has properties, for example, in the philippines. the autocratic president of the philippines, named right after
donald trump was elected -- what could go wrong with that? businessdonald trump's partial test partner as special envoy what could go wrong with , that? he continued to pursue the possibility of building a trump tower in moscow during the campaign. he did not put it on ice, as he said he did. could that have influenced how he views vladimir putin and the statements he made about russia and the rejection he engaged in in terms of his own intelligence community. those are relevant topics. this is not a gotcha investigation. it is a broader look at this picture and trying to fill in lots of blanks. sheryl: a yes or no question. if you find that he violates a clause, is it an impeachable offense? rep. connolly: yes.
a different question how and , when and will congress pursue impeachment if that is the full issue in front of us? it is concerning because it is a matter of the constitution, not new york statute -- it was written by our founders to deal with situations such as the one we face with donald trump. sarah: there were investigations on the other five committees that have some role in investigating the president. public opinion is hearing from president trump saying he was exonerated, declared completely free by the mueller report. i you concerned if democrats -- are you concerned that if democrats continue to pursue these investigations, there will be some in the public is the democrats as grasping for straws and how do you prevent that? rep. connolly: i do not want to be pursuing these issues and have the public think it is a
fishing expedition. on the other hand, i took an oath when i got elected to defend the constitution, not the president or my party. i have a constitutional obligation to pursue these matters on the gravity they represent. let's take where we are right now. i think the media is guilty of breathlessly deciding this is over, why are you doing it, this is overreach. all based on a four page of a -- summary of what we now know is a 300 plus page report. the idea there is no collusion -- what apparently he concluded is there was no criminal conspiracy with the trump campaign to collude actively with the russians. it is not saying there are not
some. and lots of receptivity to russian overtures to provide intelligence. we knew there was issues with wikileaks. we know that there was that meeting at the trump tower with russian operatives who claim to have dirt on hillary clinton. there were at least 17 or administrative officials that had over 100 contacts with russia and they lied about it. let's not forget, the reason robert mueller was appointed was because the attorney general, jeff sessions, did not tell the truth in his confirmation hearing about his own. therefore, he was required by doj procedures to recuse himself from the entire russia investigation. there is more to learn. if you look at polling data, people this is a four-page
-- people realize that this is a four-page summary written not by robert mueller, written by the attorney general, an appointee of donald trump, someone who wrote a memo questioning the underpinnings of the mueller investigation, not a disinterested party. >> some in your party, house majority whips, implied is time to move on after seeing that summary. they want to get on with the agenda, there are many people loyal to him in that district. they want to get going on the agenda. how do you balance that? rep. connolly: we have been working on the agenda since we took over january 3. i suppose there is a silver lining in this four-page summary in that it moves that agenda to the front burner and moves some of these investigations from a public perspective point of view
to the back burner, but still very much simmering. we can do both. we will. >> that is a great lead-in to the agenda. want to turn your attention to -- i wanted to turn your attention to health care. we just came off a week in which health care made a lot of news. you introduced your plan to lower premium costs, but democrats are divided over health care. you have 100 members plus presidential candidate to have signed on to medicare for all. a single-payer government plan. how likely is it we will see medicare for all pass the house? rep. connolly: we have to distinguish between pragmatic programs that can be implemented and aspirational goals toward which we move. i think medicare for all is in a lot of categories.
-- is in the latter category. it has not been fleshed out or cost assessed. we do not know the implications. we do not have clarity to provide the 180 million americans who receive their health coverage through private insurance. largely, their employers. medicare for all remains and an aspirational goal for a lot of my colleagues. i will spend my time defending and improving the affordable care act. i voted for that when i was a freshman in congress. i spend buckets of political blood defending it. i have not given up on that at all. from my point of view, despite attempts to derail it by the trump administration and by my friends on the other side of the aisle, it is working. it has expanded coverage for tens of millions of people through medicaid and the exchanges. overall, the health care cost
curve is coming down. we have protected consumers in terms of lots of reforms, chief among them, making it illegal for insurance companies to deny you coverage based on a pre-existing condition. we saw how relevant that issue alone was in the midterms. that is a very important issue for us and frankly, we are grateful for donald trump this week deciding to challenge the entire affordable care act in court yet again. that is a winning argument for us. >> i was going to ask you about that. can congress intervene in the lawsuit? and is there any plan for you to do so? rep. connolly: i do not know that we have discussed yet following an amicus brief, but hopefully will be heard. >> do you think a brief should be filed? rep. connolly: i do. especially since trump directed
his department of justice to enter into that litigation on the side of repealing the entire act. >> the halfway point. >> with republicans redirecting their attack on obamacare, of course that is an issue that my credits -- that helped democrats win back the house. and an issue you feel confidently talking about. also a lot of pressure to come up with legislation to strengthen existing laws, to address the gaps. how do you do that with a republican-controlled senate, the white house intent on dismantling it? you are to have to come up with bipartisan legislation. what would that look like, how do you find common ground? rep. connolly: given we have a republican senate, it is hard to make improvements and additions to the underlying legal framework of the affordable care act. but i think there are things that can be done nonetheless,
where we can strive for bipartisan support. there is nothing like the results of an election to clarify your thinking. the thumping my friends took in november are largely credited to economic issues and the health care issues. i think may give them pause. we know a lot of them are very accountable with the decision -- uncomfortable with the decision made by the administration this week to challenge the law in court, to resurrect that issue was not a welcome development on the republican side of the eye out. -- of the aisle. those senators and members of the house up for election next year, they may look for some opportunities to separate themselves from that activity. that is to say, the legal challenge to the bill, and show they too care about health care consumer issues. i will add, but here we are nine
years after enactment of the affordable care act. republicans have yet to put on the table and alternative. i think that speaks volumes about how completely vapid their rhetoric is about the subject. >> do you think the onus is on democrats to come up with something republicans can support? do you need to work across the aisle so there is something they agree to? there has been some compromise in the senate that never went all the way. the alexander murray deal, for example. do democrats need to find a way to get there? rep. connolly: i do not think the burden is on democrats. good ideas can come from both sides of the aisle, so long as people put aside preconceived conceptions and work together. not related to legislation, increasingly across the country, as republican legislatures have seen the benefits of the medicaid expansion in other states, including state led by
republican governors and republican legislatures such as my own in virginia, i think they have come to accept that that is a good thing for their consumers, their voters and their state and their budgets. i think there are things we can do to further expand the affordable care act. maybe not always legislatively, but possibly programmatically. >> congressman, we came off a week in which the aipac met in washington. it is clear republicans are trying to paint democrats as the party that harbors anti-semites. you yourselves have called out the president for making what you called hateful remarks. i am wondering, do democratic leaders need to do more to push back, and what should they do? rep. connolly: this is really --
as somebody who has been involved in middle east issues for 40 years, as a young staffer for the first 10 years of my career and no member of the house of an terminal affairs committee here in the house, it is to me disgusting and vituperative dab the president -- to have the president say what he said, especially coming out of the mouth of a man who, even after hearing white supremacists say "get the jews" in charlottesville, nonetheless said there were good people on both sides. i do not know who the good people were on that side. he did not condemn anti-semitism when we actually saw it in action in charlottesville two years ago. i do not think he is someone to turn to as a moral arbiter. the democrat party has always been a strong home for american jews because we share liberal
values. i do not think that will change because a stray individual makes remarks that are anti-semitic in nature or just downright stupid. i do not think that somehow changes history. it was after all a democratic president, harry truman, who against the advice of john marshall and other advisors at the time, recognize the state of -- recognize the state of israel. we have had a solid, important relationship ever since. i do not think that will change. are there different points of view about israel and the netanyahu government? of course, but there are within the jewish community as well. we are all having debates of that nature. but to characterize an american who may be jewish as to their patriotism -- i can tell you as a young catholic boy in 1960 when that happened to us because john kennedy was a catholic and our loyalty and patriotism was
questioned, and maybe we had to dual loyalties to the pope in rome. i instantly went in a defensive posture about those comments. i do not think that is going to stick at all. i think it is a very cynical move about a very important topic. >> you spoke about being in a defensive posture. that is where democrats have been. rep. connolly: i did not mean it that way. i meant emotionally. i look back to my memories of 1960, when the headlines in time magazine and news world report were, can a catholic be president? meaning, if by implication, they could not. >> should democrats go more on offense? rep. connolly: yes. >> what should they do? rep. connolly: steny hoyer gave an impassioned speech that was wildly received positively at
the aipac conference, stating what i just said, but more eloquently, in terms of who we are as democrats and what our relationship is to the state of israel, and the embrace of american jews as partners in the enterprise. that message of inclusivity was an important statement strategically for steny hoyer to make and i applaud him. >> i want to pivot to budget and appropriations, one of the most crucial aspects congress has to do this year. your district was hit down -- hit hard by the shutdown. looking ahead, there is the looming sequestration battle, a debt ceiling battle, next year's funding. how anxious to you feel looking -- you feel looking ahead to all of these tasks that need to be done, given the dysfunction we saw over the five-week shutdown, where the president could not seem to agree with congressional leaders of either party what to
do, and ended up having a stalemate? none of that was resolved. the border funding fight is still out there, as well as new battles on sequestration and debt ceilings. rep. connolly: it is important to remember a little bit of recent history. sometimes we cover the 35 day shutdown as the longest in american correct -- of american history as sui generis, but it is not. remember they wanted to shut down the government over the funding of planned parenthood, over president obama's it -- executive orders protecting dreamers and other executive orders that they objected to. ironically, no problem with executive orders from the republican president. latest and washe about the wall. it did not work out for them.
a 35 day shutdown produces nothing but damage to the economy damaged people's lives who could not pay bills, and a profound embarrassment worldwide in terms of the image of the american states not being able to fund its own government. if they want to go there again, it is their choice. it is not something we will welcome, or deliver to this president or to our friends on the others of the aisle. >> trump has not taken seriously the risk to federal employees and the government. he did not seem to have an issue. what happens when the debt ceiling is involved, and the markets are at risk? could there be real financial implications? a republican administration and the burden is on them to decide how they will want to handle it. congress will distro -- dispose of their proposal. there are enough
economists who understand the peril of playing with the national debt. you have got to pay your bills, and be good for your credit. a very serious matter. the republicans are going to have to step up to the plate within the u.s. senate, which they control, and the white house and the treasury department. >> final question? >> you mentioned the wall. congress cannot override the block orhe decision to try to block the emergency resolution. is it inevitable that the president will start building the wall? rep. connolly: having failed to override the veto, but having put together a bipartisan coalition in the house and the disapproving of his proposed action, on two fronts. we took issue with the underlying logic avenue the
crisis at -- logic of the crisis at the border. you cannot raid the treasury unless congress appropriates the fund, that is a constitutional role. we failed to override the veto, now the action moves to the courts, and there will be active litigation, there already is, entered into by states and others to object to his actions. we will see what the courts have to say. >> will conger enter natural congress enter in? have you talked about it? rep. connolly: we have not had that conversation as a caucus, but individual conversations are going off -- going on. >> i wanted to ask you about adam schiff, watching the acrimony caused by the republicans for him to step down, that is an important committee. do you think it can function with the level of acrimony? rep. connolly: prior to adam chairmanship, devin
nunes was equally controversial and had to step aside if you recall for the entirety of the russian investigation undertaken because of his own controversial actions. i think adam schiff is an honorable man, and has been us towardsn pointing misdeeds and serious lapses of testimony in this administration. i do not believe the four page summary eviscerates that. i believe that he will be a race of firm vindication in the full report is released. i think he is an honorable man, and we are not going to go down the road of happening -- of having the minority party decide for the minority the party who chairs our committees. >> thank you for coming back to newsmakers. rep. connolly: thank you. >> newsmakers continues after our conversation with gerald
connolly. i wanted to start with the general tone in congress and washington post mueller report. post mueller report. how do you see the politics playing out with this new reality? democrats, a big part of their majority comes from lawmakers from freshman democrats who came from a district that had been won by president trump. any conversation about investigating has made them uncomfortable for the first three months of their tenure. with the decision to release the summary and for the attorney general to say that this president was cleared and to not release new charges against him, this is very freeing for this democrats. they are eager to move on to the agenda. receive they do not questions about this at home at their town halls. because the apartment of justice has this deadline on this obamacare lawsuit, they ended up filing and that and saying they wanted to disable the entire
law. this gave democrats months of talking points and opportunities to pursue that legislation that new democrats have been interested in doing. synopsis of good democrats preyed on the others, republicans are really feeling emboldened. president trump came to the this week against the advice of some of his advisors, doing a victory lap and having lunch with senate republicans. feelingans are clearly relieved and aggrieved. going on offense. we saw this in the intelligence committee, which you referenced with the congressman. includings, republican leader kevin mccarthy, are now attacking adam schiff, the chairman of the intelligence committee, likening him to senator joe mccarthy, saying he lied to the american people. they are really using these four pages as a way to say we have been vindicated.
the president was right. there was no collusion. you democrats have lied to the american people. >> the reality of the politics of attacks like that on a member. chairmanship is using it as a chairmanng tool -- adam schiff is using it as a fundraising tool. >> adam schiff is not going anywhere. they are not going to let the republicans dictate who will be in charge of their committee. they will use it as fundraising omar andsame way ilhan other progressives are using the attack on them to raise money. >> what people think of the way that nancy pelosi and steny hoyer are handling the freshman progressives who have been getting so much coverage and are so outspoken on issues? how are you watching them as leaders? >> the tact they are taking is
saying they will pursue legislation. that means bold ideas like the green new deal or medicare for all are not going to medially go to the floor for a vote. they are not interested in symbolic votes. they will send it to committee. medicare for all will have its first budget hearing ever in the next few weeks. the green new deal is not something being pursued by a specific committee. however, the speaker did agree to create a climate change panel. that is something that appeases a lot of the progressives who have been asking for this. she and steny hoyer have ways of diffusing the tension. there are progressives that want to move quickly on this. that base is interested in seeing something on this. they want to see republicans put on defense on this. to the democratic leaders say we are going to give you this space in committee rooms, that is the way democratic leaders are trying to move on from this conversation without
shutting it down. >> gerry connolly is a longtime member of the moderate wing. how are members like mr. connelly approaching their desires to have legislation or acrimony with the trump administration in this new environment? >> they have to tread carefully. those members have to be careful that the young progressives if have therenced do not entire democratic party with their views. has to maintain that balance of allowing the , exceptives their voice when their voice crosses a line, as in the case of ilhan omar, who made remarks many thought were anti-semitic. speaker pelosi drew a line there. that is how they are handling progressives on the centrist side. they are emboldening them through legislation. you saw this week the speaker unveiled health care legislation that was much more in the centrist mode.
the green new deal is not going anywhere in the house. speaker pelosi and the leaders are aware that these centrists delivered them the majority. it is important to keep the majority, to keep the majority they have to win swing districts or trump districts. they will not let the craddick party go too far to the left. -- the democratic party go too far to the left. oversight committee on mr. trump's finances, even if it leads possibly two and a tribble offense. did that surprise you? >> it surprised me that he was so appointed, that he said yes, it is an impeachable offense. he did not dance around it. he did exert caution, saying that does not mean we will impeach him. we will have to see the full context. it surprised me. >> democrats have said, when michael cohen came in for his
testimony and a said he had proof that the president committed campaign-finance -- that he broken laws, there were many democrats who believed that was and a peach will offense in the same way that mr. connolly did but they refrained from saying they would pursue that because they made the argument that that is a political decision. for them to pursue that, they need bipartisan support. they need to believe there will be some trump supporters who support them at risk of dividing the country. there are democrats who have said in the past that the democrat has committed an impeachable offense and they did not sign on to the resolution from congresswoman rashida tale ib. they fired a resolution that would take the house closer to impeachment. questions.u for your >> thank you.
>> on capitol hill next week, the house will consider reauthorization of the violence against women act, which expired in february. it aims to prevent abuse and provide resources for victims and includes a provision on domestic violence and firearms. it is also possible that members will take up a senate resolution to and the u.s. military involvement in yemen's civil war. in the senate, work continues on a bill that would provide nearly $13 billion in aid for areas affected by natural disasters. also, a resolution which shorten the amount of time the senate considers certain nominations. watch the house live on c-span and the senate live on c-span2. ♪ >> get to know the freshman members of the 116th congress monday on washington journal. learn more about the most diverse group of lawmakers in history.
>> i am real. i am authentic. >> i am just a small town lawyer. >> served in afghanistan. franchisee for 22 years. >> i have this fascination with finding the answers. >> it is new for me. >> my dad is a lifelong republican who has never voted for democrat until he voted for me. >> watch washington journal live at 7:00 a.m. eastern monday morning. join the discussion. the c-span bus is stopping at the schools of our studentcam winners, recently in columbia, south carolina. at richland northeast high school. >> when we saw the topic, what does it mean to be an american,
we thought about the constitution and the first thing that came to mind was the bill of rights, especially freedom of speech. that is something that is so ingrained in the american identity at a topic that has been at the forefront, especially these past few years in terms of the press and in terms of our increasingly divided political climate. how can we not approach the subject and apply it to what does it mean to be an american? >> see the top 21 winning entries on c-span in april. you can watch every winning studentcam documentary online. >> on thursday, president trump spoke to supporters in grand rapids michigan and talked about the mueller report, the economy, and his disagreements with democrats and journalists. the president narrowly won michigan in 2016 over hillary clinton, gaining 16 electoral vo