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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

More U.S. Troops Headed to Iraq to Fight ISIS; Breaking, Up to 20 Hurt in Jerusalem Bus Blast; Sanders Pushes Clinton on Walk Street Money, Clooney Responds; Supreme Court Reviewing Obama Executive Action on Immigration. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 18, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:32:44] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting breaking news out of the northeast. Getting word more U.S. troops will be headed to Iraq in the battle against ISIS. This information coming out a short time ago as Defense Secretary Ash Carter made an unannounced trip to Baghdad. The defense secretary says more than 200 additional troops will be deployed.

Let's get details from CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

Jim, what are these troops for?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONALS SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. To be exact, 217 troops. It puts the U.S. over 4,000 total in Iraq now. They're going to be trainers, advisers, security forces, as well as aviation support. That's key because in addition to the troops the U.S. will also be sending Apache attack helicopters. This is something Secretary Carter has been pushing since December. The Iraqis had refused, saying we can handle it ourselves. But now they are allowing those Apaches in.

Why now? This is part of upcoming planned offensive to retake the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. Troops have been getting closer. These U.S. troops will be advising and assisting in that effort. And this is crucial, John and Kate. They will be allowed to be at the battalion level and brigade level, not just the division level. This puts them closer to the front lines of what's going to be a very difficult and dangerous conflict, and, therefore, puts them at greater risk here. It's an important development, and we've been watching this week to week, month to month as those troop numbers keep going in only one direction, and that's up.

BERMAN: 4,000 is an interesting number. The battalion level is very interesting. Close to the front lines. And the Apaches even more interesting, Jim, because that's fairly close air support to offensive operations, no?

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. And we know that ISIS has surface-to-air missiles capable of shooting down aircraft. They've taken down some Iraqi helicopters before. The Apaches are better defended. They have enormous technology. An Apache can attack positions even when it's out of sight from the ground. It could be behind a mountain, a couple miles away. But let's be honest here, both the troops and these airmen and airwomen, they're going to be closer to danger now.

BERMAN: Very interesting development.

Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

BERMAN: We have breaking news also out of Jerusalem. A bus explosion. There's a report of several injuries there. We're going to try to get it back to Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem. We're looking at these pictures now.

Oren, what are you learning?

[11:35:06] OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the latest information is that police are looking at all possibilities for the explosion of a bus here. What they say right now is that after reports of an explosion an empty bus in southern Jerusalem went up in flames. There was no one on that bus, but there was a bus, according to police, standing right next to it, and that's where the injured come from. According to the Israeli Red Cross, there are approximately 15 injured. There have been no reports of casualties yet but there are a number of those injured in serious condition.

Police initially called this a terror attack before backtracking and saying it appears the fire started on that empty bus before spreading, or that heat injuring people on the bus next to it. At this point, all possibilities under investigation.

In the wave of violence that started some seven to eight months ago, there has not been a bombing attack on a bus. That would be a new level to this. And really they haven't seen that here in Jerusalem, here in Israel for 10 years, although it has been a fear at the back of the mind of many Israelis. So it would be a major escalation if that's, indeed, what we're seeing here.

BERMAN: But we know right now an explosion on an empty bus injuring upwards of 15 people on a bus nearby. No reports of deaths right now, but we're seeing those pictures. Looks like whatever happened, it was a large event.

Oren Liebermann for us in Jerusalem. Thanks so much.

All eyes on the Supreme Court this morning. The justices weighing arguments over the president's controversial executive action on immigration. This could affect up to four million people living in the United States right now. These arguments happening right now. We'll go live to the highest court in the land.

Plus, Bernie Sanders launching some new harsh words on Hillary Clinton over a big-money fundraiser hosted by George Clooney. George Clooney is responding. And you may be surprised what he had to say.

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[11:41:18] BERMAN: All right. This morning, Bernie Sanders making his final push ahead of tomorrow's critical New York primary. He tells CNN that he thinks Hillary Clinton has yet to prove that she's not under the influence of Wall Street. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're very good at rhetoric and certainly she has moved to the left in this campaign and responds to many of the initiatives that we have brought forth but I think not only our supporters, I think the average person understands that when you collect such large sums of money from wall street and other special interests, they have their doubts as to whether the Clinton people will stand up to these powerful forces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Want to bring in Joel Benenson, chief strategist for Hillary Clinton.

I know you don't often agree with Bernie Sanders these days on statements like that, but there is a supporter of yours, of Hillary Clinton's that we've heard from over the last few days that has talked about the influence of money on politics, and that's George Clooney. Hillary Clinton was out at the Clooney's this weekend for a fundraiser, and this is what George Clooney had this to say about the amount of money being raised in politics right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: I think it's an obscene amount of money. I think that -- we had some protesters last night when we pulled up in San Francisco, and they're right to protest. They're absolutely right. It is an obscene amount of money. The Sanders campaign when they talk about it is absolutely right. It's ridiculous that we should have this kind of money in politics. I agree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And this guy is a supporter.

JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: But you didn't play the rest of what he said.

BERMAN: Explain to me what he said.

BENENSON: You know what he said after that. He said but these are fundraisers to elect Democratic candidates, the money is for the Democratic party to elect more Democratic Senators so we take back the Senate and add more people to the House of Representatives, so the next president, Democratic president can get things done without the kind of rampant obstructionism that Barack Obama has had to face. So in all fairness to Mr. Clooney, cutting that quote off there only tells half the story. BERMAN: He did absolutely say that as well. He did say -- but there

was money raised for both campaigns, right, for the Hillary Clinton campaign and also for the --

(CROSSTALK)

BENENSON: But the vast majority of it goes to the party because the party can raise more money in bigger chunks and that's what's going on. But, you know, Bernie Sanders has an amazing prowess at his own fundraising. He's not raising money into the Democratic Party right now to help other Democrats get elected. I think it behooves him to put all those small donors to work helping raise money to help other Democrats get elected.

But let me make another point, John --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Can I follow this up?

BENENSON: Yeah.

BERMAN: What do you think it says that Bernie Sanders is not also raising money --

(CROSSTALK)

BENENSON: I think you'd have to ask him. I just watched your clip of Senator Sanders. You know, I think it would be good for him to remember that before he even got into the race, almost a year ago to the day, Secretary Hillary Clinton on her first tour in Iowa said, I will only appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will overturn Citizens United, and if they won't do it, if the court won't turn it over, I'll push a constitutional amendment to get it done. That needs to be done. So the notion that he's pushed her to the left, I don't know why he's missed that when she said that before he was in the race. It was very clear to everybody. It was in her announcement speech. So in fairness, there's widespread agreement on the part of Democrats. The enemies here have been the Republicans, and Senator Sanders knows that.

BERMAN: But you are saying that he's not doing as much for the party as Hillary Clinton?

BENENSON: Well, he would say it. He's acknowledged it. He's raising some money for some candidates who supported him, but he hasn't raised money into the Democratic Party this cycle. He has in the past when he was running for re-election I think.

BERMAN: I want to talk about someone else on the stump over the weekend, former President Bill Clinton talking about Senator Sanders and also some of his younger supporters. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's fine that all these young students have been so enthusiastic for her opponent and it sounds so good. Just shoot every third person on Wall Street and everything would be fine. But the truth is there's 50,000 fewer people there today. The Dodd/Frank Act is working.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:45:13] BERMAN: It was a little muddy but I think you heard him. He said he thinks the message of the Sanders campaign is shoot every third person on Wall Street and everything will be fine.

BENENSON: I think we've had a debate on Wall Street all the way through. Independent experts have said Hillary Clinton's plans are actually tougher. Liberal economists like -- progressive economists like Paul Krugman, liberal analysts like Ezra Klein. And when Senator Sanders got this question at the "Daily News," he couldn't tell them what his plan was. When he was pressed on it, he said what she sass said, the authority is in Dodd/Frank through the regulators to break up the banks that pose a risk to Wall Street.

BERMAN: Why do you think the kids, the younger people, the 28,000 people in Prospect Park this weekend, why aren't they getting that message?

BENENSON: I think there are a couple things. I haven't heard anybody ask Senator Sanders why he's not winning with people over 35 or over 40. You know, this electorate, Hillary Clinton has put together the most diverse coalition. I think young people have no doubt been passionate and excited by Senator Sanders. But when you look at this electorate, we are winning among all voters over the age of 30. We are winning among African-Americans and Latinos by almost three to one.

We're winning among women, also key to the Democratic Party by almost 30 points across these races. I think when Senator Sanders dismisses states as being in the Deep South and calling it very conservative, it belies the facts. States like North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, those three states are battleground states. And not only that, more than 50 percent of the voters in those states were liberals and fewer than 10 percent were conservatives. So I don't know what message he's trying to say -- send when he talks about the Deep South but it certainly isn't rooted in reality when you're talking about the Democratic coalition we have to put together.

BERMAN: Joel Benenson, thanks for coming in. Appreciate you being here.

BENENSON: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: A very, very big day for the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court -- Joel just talking about it -- the Supreme Court reviewing President Obama's controversial executive action on immigration. The fate of some four million immigrants, who entered the country illegally, now hanging in the balance. We are live from the court. We're going to get word on the oral arguments and the questions that the justices were asking. That's coming up.

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[11:51:19] BERMAN: All right. Breaking news out of Supreme Court. The court moments ago just heard arguments in a case challenging President Obama's executive orders on immigration. This affects millions of immigrants. Texas is leading 25 other states in this suit. They argue against the 2014 orders which would temporarily shield qualified undocumented immigrants from deportation and give them permission to work and receive benefits.

BOLDUAN: First, they need to convince the justices they have the standing to bring the case at all.

Justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, was sitting in the courtroom for those oral arguments, and they just wrapped, and she's outside of the courtroom for us now. And along with us right now is senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

First to you, Pamela.

We can hear it's loud outside of the courtroom with the very high- stakes oral arguments but what did you hear inside the courtroom? What's your sense?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, inside, it was an intense 90 minutes during the oral arguments and the justices seemed deeply divided over the issue of immigration. For the conservative justices, they questioned whether the president had the authority to issue this executive action that would shield millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported and give them work authorization and ancillary benefits.

In fact, at one point, Justice Kennedy brought up whether the president was straining the Congress's fear by issuing this executive order, and he said this seems upside down. And then Chief Justice Roberts seemed concerned with the language in the memorandum that said it would give these undocumented immigrants lawful presence. He seemed confused by how it would give them lawful presence if they're in the United States in violation of the law.

But the liberal justices shot back. They said there's 11 million immigrants in the United States, the administration has a right to prioritize. Why not allow these millions of people who are low priority targets come out of the shadows, apply for work benefits while the Department of Homeland Security works on focusing to deport the high-priority targets?

And also standing was a big factor today. All eyes on Chief Justice Roberts, who seemed very interested in standing, in whether Texas even had the legal right to bring this lawsuit in the first place. Texas says that it's hurt financially because it has to pay millions of dollars by subsidizing driver's licenses to these undocumented immigrants. At one point, Chief Justice Roberts seemed to sympathize with Texas, seemed to think they had a right to bring this lawsuit, and then on the other hand, it was unclear.

It's very hard, of course, to read the tea leaves in oral arguments. You never know. But if it's a 4-4 split, that means Obama's signature immigration reform plan of his second term will be blocked. And if it is knocked down on standing that means the program will be able to go forward. The stakes are high. Millions of people's lives could be impacted and this could have broad implications for the relationship between the president and Congress.

Back to you.

BERMAN: Pamela, stand by.

I want to bring in Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, Pamela just laid out what could be the crucial argument here, which is the idea of standing, and John Roberts who could the crucial vote on that issue.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: We have an eight-member court, four Republican and four Democratic appointees. The question is, does Texas have the right to bring this case? Texas says, if you give legal status to these people, we will have to give them driver's licenses. The government says, the federal government says there's nothing in this law about driver's licenses. This law is directed entirely at the immigrants themselves. It doesn't impose any obligations on the states. So the states should not have the right to challenge it. That's the standing argument. And I think the Obama administration thinks they have a better chance of winning over one of the conservatives on standing than they do on the merits of the case of whether the law is lawful.

[11:55:16] BOLDUAN: Everyone is watching the chief justice because standing is something he's used in the past.

TOOBIN: Right. Even as a lawyer, he argued a number of cases in the court arguing for a narrow conception of standing and has written opinions as chief justice saying we can't just let anybody file a lawsuit because they're upset about a law. We have to have what's called an injury in fact. And the question is, did Texas suffer the kind of injury that courts will reject.

BERMAN: Everyone thinks it could be 4-4, which the means the president's initiative goes down, loosing.

Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Pamela, thank you so much. We'll be on that all day.

Any moment now, Donald Trump will address reporters after holding a meeting with the so-called Diversity Coalition of his at Trump Tower. We'll have that ahead.

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