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Some Call for Chairman Devin Nunes to Recuse Himself from Russia Investigation; Senate Announces Pending Vote on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch; Interview with Senator James Inhofe; Interview with Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: -- renewable sources of energy at this point would be a greater -- but again, going back to jobs, this isn't where the jobs are going to be. And in fact, the other policies from the administration are putting forward are going to hurt jobs in the same places that he wants to create them. Take manufacturing. If you want to create jobs in manufacturing, we should become a more global economy, not a less global economy. So if we're focused on jobs, this isn't really where you should be focused.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This sounds like a segment we need to follow up on and do more of tomorrow so that we can hear both of your great debates tomorrow before we get to Don Quixote. What's I thought we were alluding there with all the windmills.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Tilting at them?

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CUOMO: Am I Don Quixote or am I Sancho Panza?

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: To be determined. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

We're following a lot of news. Let's get right to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what a cover up looks like. Our committee has lost its independence, credibility, and the progress we made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to stay as chairman and run this investigation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would I not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This might make a good spy novel. It doesn't make a good investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have that. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A respected journalist was patronized trying to

ask a question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get Judge Gorsuch confirmed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is going to be a real uphill climb for him to get those 60 votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the law of the land.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are all going to make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, welcome to your NEW DAY. up first, the House intelligence committee's Russia investigation grinding to a halt over political infighting. The panel's embattled chairman saying that he is staying put while the White House denied that it tried to block former deputy attorney general Sally Yates from testifying.

CUOMO: Meanwhile, on the other side of Congress you've got the Senate Intel Committee and everything seems to be going smoothly there. They are going to have their first open hearing on Russia tomorrow. The president is revisiting the health care battle. He's predicting it will be easy to get a deal. He's also touting that the U.S. mission in Iraq is going, quote, "very well," and he never mentioned the air strike that just killed over 100 civilians in Mosul.

Day 69 of the Trump presidency, what will it hold? Let's begin our coverage with Sara Murray. Sara?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Bipartisanship has clearly hit a breaking point in the House. That intelligence committee is struggling with how to move forward with their investigation into Russia. And one thing is clear, the chairman of that committee and this White House are playing defense.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to stay as chairman and run this investigation?

REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) CALIFORNIA: Why would I not?

MURRAY: House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes defiant amid calls for him to step aside from the panel's Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to recuse yourself from the investigation? Is that a no?

MURRAY: The House Russia probe effectively put on hold as Democrats accuse the chairman of stalling. REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: The investigation certainly has

ground to a halt. But here's the odd things. All meetings have been canceled. We're apparently not going to do anything until this closed door meeting with Comey and Rogers occurs.

MURRAY: Nunes now saying the investigation will move forward but only after a private briefing with the FBI director and head of the NSA, which has not been scheduled. The chairman under scrutiny for canceling this week's open hearing which was supposed to feature testimony from former acting attorney general Sally Yates who was fired by President Trump.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: It's evidence of a cover up. There is no rational explanation for the cancellation of that meeting.

MURRAY: The White House fighting back against allegations that it sought to prevent Yates from testifying.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I hope she testifies. I look forward to it. If they choose to move forward, great. We have no problem with her testifying.

MURRAY: That's after "The Washington Post" published letter showing the Justice Department said Yates testimony could violate presidential privilege, all on the same day that Nunes canceled the hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should Devin Nunes recuse himself from the Russia investigation? And, two, do you know the source of his information?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No, and no.

MURRAY: Republican leadership standing by the House investigation despite growing criticism, with Congressman Walter Jones becoming the first Republican to suggest that Nunes step aside.

SPICER: If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection.

MURRAY: Press Secretary Sean Spicer on the defensive, offering a colorful comeback to repeated questions about the Trump campaign's Russia ties.

SPICER: It seems like you're hell bent on trying to make sure that whatever imagine you want to tell about this White House stays. I'm sorry. Please stop shaking your head again.

MURRAY: All as the president continues to deflect, repeatedly tweeting about Hillary Clinton and trying to shift the focus back to his legislative priorities after a bruising defeat on repealing Obamacare.

TRUMP: I know we are all going to make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [08:05:00] MURRAY: We're expecting the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee to hold a press conference later this afternoon. They've made it clear they would like to speak with Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, about his meetings with Russian officials. We are told that will likely be testimony held under oath but likely held in private. This press conference later today should give us a better sense of the timeline and possibly this committee's next steps. Back to you guys.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sara, thanks so much for the reporting there. Meanwhile, battle lines drawn over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Democrats now to filibuster. Republicans are considering using the nuclear option if they cannot get to 60 votes. CNN Suzanne Malveaux has all the latest for us live on Capitol Hill. Good morning, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, it is game on now for the Supreme Court nomination. We heard from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is throwing down the gauntlet. He is saying that Monday is when the Senate Judiciary Committee will take up the vote for Gorsuch. And then that will set the stage for next Friday. He says not only will the vote happen, but he is predicted that he will be confirmed. This is leading for Democrats and Republicans scrambling to get to their positions.

The Democrats say that they will filibuster. They've got 27 Democrats who say they are on board, two who say they are not going to do this. The Republicans on their side, of course, are looking for the 60 votes necessary to break the filibuster. They've got the 52 majority in the senate. They are looking for eight Democrats to join them, and specifically targeting about a dozen or so from the Trump friendly red states. Those are the people they want on their side. They are also willing, they say, to now use the nuclear option to change that rule, that threshold from 60 to 51 to break the filibuster. They want to make sure that Gorsuch gets an up or down vote.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER(D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: It is going to be a real uphill climb for him to get those 60 votes. If a judge can't meet, a nominee can't meet the 60 vote standard, you don't change the rules.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: No Supreme Court justice has ever been stopped with a partisan filibuster. That is obviously what the Democratic leader has announced they will do. We are optimistic that they will not be successful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: The PR campaign on both sides is ramping up. Later today, 12:30 on the steps of the Supreme Court, there will be members of the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as former clerks of Gorsuch to make the case that he's the one. Chris?

CUOMO: Appreciate it, Suzanne.

Joining us now is Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Senator, good to have you.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: Nice being with you, Chris.

CUOMO: So if they filibuster the Democrats, should McConnell exercise the nuclear option?

INHOFE: Yes.

CUOMO: Are you concerned about the precedent that that sets?

INHOFE: No, I'm really not, because it's unprecedented that you would change the rules to start with. He did that. And, you know, I was with Gorsuch yesterday. I have never been around a guy that is more qualified. Everyone agrees. Look, all these guys that are complaining about him right now, they all voted for him to be in the tenth circuit, and no one opposed him. And, so, right now it is a political game and whatever this is -- I would just say this, Chris. He's going to be confirmed.

CUOMO: You know, just a point of fact on it, you know, Merrick Garland got an easy pass when he was put up for a judgeship also. He was unopposed. They will tell you, and you know this, Senate, it is very different measuring a man or a woman for Supreme Court versus an appellate or a district court. So there is a different appraisal process here, isn't there?

INHOFE: No. The difference I see is that he was put up during the tail end of an administration. Right now, this is the very first of an administration, and there is a lot of precedent for that, that someone in his last final months should not be making the determination as to who is going to be the confirmed nominee.

CUOMO: Wasn't it in January that Garland first game up and it was just about the delay game?

INHOFE: No, it was actually at a timeframe when it would have been -- it would have actually set a precedent and. So, we are on sound grounds, and I didn't have any problem with that particular nominee. But this one is the nominee. He will be confirmed.

CUOMO: You think Garland should have been given a vote or no?

INHOFE: Not.

CUOMO: Because that's what's playing into this. And you pointed out earlier, Harry Reid set a precedent. True, but there was a carve out for Supreme Court justices in that. So this would be in fact a new manifestation.

INHOFE: Chris, I would argue with you on that. Can you change the rules, can you break the rules of the Senate? That was the issue, not how far should it go. But they have the power to do that. He did it. And I remember when that happened I thought that's going to come back and haunt him. That time is here.

CUOMO: That's what Mitch McConnell said at the time was they will regret they did this, and now this is the situation they're in. But one other thing. There are a lot of Democrats who do have opposition points to Gorsuch.

[08:10:00] They don't like the way he answered questions or what he failed to answer. They don't like some of his rulings. There is substantive resistance to him. It is not all political.

INHOFE: Well, I have to say this. The same ones and a lot I have heard making that statement were the ones that didn't make the statement before. So he's already been there. He's already answered the questions. And I thought he did a fabulous job. I watched as much of it as I could. So let's wait and see what happens. As I say, he's going to be confirmed. And I will -- America should be rejoicing.

CUOMO: All right, let's talk about the recent environmental roll back that the administration says will help the coal industry. Critics say that this is putting short-term economic interests in front of long- term environmental protection interests, and that you are not going to rebuild the coal sector any way by rolling this back. Environmental restrictions aren't your problem. Innovation is your problem. Pricing around the world is your problem with why you don't have more coal jobs.

INHOFE: Chris, I was listening to your previous guest, and I think he's really being a little generous. Let's keep in mind this has been a war on fossil fuels. This has been Obama's war on fossil fuels that has endured longer than just the time that he was president. He started that a long time ago. Fossil fuels is not just coal. It's coal, oil, and gas. Now, he's thrown in there nuclear, too.

Here's the problem you have. Right now our country is dependent upon nuclear, coal, oil, and gas for 89 percent of its ability to run this machine called America. If he's successful in doing away with it, how do you run the machine called America?

Secondly, you have got to keep in point the thing he did in Paris. This is very significant. For some reason people don't know about it or they don't care about it, but he made the statement that every country is going to say what are we going to do with our own reduction of fossil fuels. He said in the United States I commit we'll reduce fossil fuels by 27 percent by 2030.

Well, three problems with that, Chris. First of all, it can't be done. We immediately went to the EPA. They agreed it can't be done. And then secondly, if you remember Lisa Jackson, who was the first nominee, or the first confirmed director of the EPA under Obama, she said, well, it wouldn't make any difference anyway if you did it because the problem is not in the United States. The problem is China and India and Mexico and other places.

The third thing is that the United States Supreme Court has stepped in and they agree with us. And, so, that is just not -- what he did, and I'm glad that the president did what he did, but insofar as the commitment that was made --

CUOMO: Right.

INHOFE: -- by Obama in Paris, it's meaningless.

CUOMO: Right, but, look, taking all of your points as true for the sake of argument, this was about the ambition of being better, being cleaner, having more sustainable businesses, and transitioning away from those that are seen as having negative impacts on the environment. It wasn't simply to kill jobs. Obama wanted to replace jobs, a difficult task. And you seem to ignore that motivation here, that these industries can and do attribute to global warming and to the excesses of human behavior that add to global warming. And that's a big part of the motivation.

INHOFE: Well, see, I've argued this over and over again. Let's keep in mind the amount that that would contribute to global warming even by their own figures, and I'm talking about the EPA right now, would be 0.2 percent. It's not even measurable. So people who like to say that this is the major cause for global warming, first of all, this is a debate that's going on. The science is questioned and all that. But the bottom line is, even if you're right or if they are right -- I think you're quoting them -- it still doesn't make any difference because 0.2 percent is not going to make a difference.

CUOMO: But the scientific community doesn't have much of a debate about the bigger impact of global warming. You have an overwhelming majority of scientists.

INHOFE: I will argue that. I will argue that.

CUOMO: I know, but it doesn't mean that the facts are in your favor. I understand you argue it. It doesn't mean that it is a compelling argument.

INHOFE: Well, it is a compelling argument, but we're not having I right now. I'd be glad to have it with you because right now we have a lot of the really fine scientists are questioning this. In fact, they're even laughing about it.

CUOMO: Laughing about what?

INHOFE: No, let me -- I'll tell you what. The IPCC is the United Nations. That's the science that has been behind this. We all understand that. We also know that they have been totally discredited with climate change. This happened in 2009. And, you know, I think everyone was understanding of that at the time. And right now even though they have been totally discredited, they are the sciences behind this. And this is a different discussion altogether because what happened yesterday is something that is a -- is not just a coal thing.

[08:15:04] It's trying to end the war on fossil fuels.

CUOMO: Right.

INHOFE: And I think he's done it. CUOMO: Well, I don't know. Those are your words, the war on fossil

fuels. But isn't it kind of all related, that this is about moving away from industries that are seen as bad for the environment as far as trying to find new sources of energy and industries that could create jobs and be safer? I mean, in your own state of Oklahoma, you have seen negative impact from these industries maybe affecting your own earthquake content.

INHOFE: Well, no. The president has been talking about this for a long period of time and others have, too. The bottom line, though, is you got to run the machine called America and you can't do it without fossil fuels and nuclear. And this is something that everyone does understand, although they deny it.

The president has been in denial -- I'm talking about Obama now -- for a number of years in trying to come up with something that says we can rely on renewable fuels. They're out there, the technology.

Well, maybe some day it will be out there. Today, it's not, Chris. They don't have the technology right now to run America without fossil fuels and nuclear.

CUOMO: And the larger question is, how do you ever get there if you don't ever start the process? But you're right. There are lots of big conversations to have on this issue, Senator, and you're always welcome here to have them on NEW DAY. Thank you, sir.

INHOFE: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK. Another big topic we're covering. The Trump administration targeting undocumented immigrants. Well, our next guest says the wrong people are being demonized. What does he mean?

Congressman Luis Gutierrez joins us to explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: The White House tackling immigration with a threat from Attorney Jeff Sessions to sanctuary cities that they could lose federal funding if they don't enforce the laws. Immigration communities living in fear of deportation, including those not convicted of violent crimes.

Is this the start of a mass deportation force that candidate Trump promised?

Let's discuss with the Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

Congressman, always a pleasure.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: So, let's do this differently. My suggestion is this, that the Democrats have lost the messaging war when it comes to immigration. There is a perception, even though it is in defiance of fact, that undocumented immigrants are running around the country raping and killing and cherry picked cases, whether it's the Maryland rape that we just saw, that terrible murder in California some years ago -- they loom large.

[08:20:07] Do you believe you have lost the messaging war?

GUTIERREZ: Well, look, Chris, here's what I do. I wake up every morning and try to do the best job I can for the greatest number of people.

I don't think we have. I think that in New York, Chicago, L.A. and the cities across this country, we have mayors and police departments who say we cannot do our job if we lose the confidence of the people we are assigned to protect and to serve.

And, so, they don't want to be immigration agents. And so, I'm happy to be on the program, Chris, so that we could clarify some of the mischaracterizations.

CUOMO: Right.

GUTIERREZ: Here's how I see it. Yes, they call them sanctuary cities. What I would say is they're Fourth Amendment cities. Why do I say that? If you supply a warrant in the city of Chicago, right, we will absolutely honor that warrant. But you got to get a warrant.

So think about it a moment. The DEA, the FBI, the ATF, they get warrants, right? They go and pick people up. What ICE, which is another federal law enforcement agency does, is it wants to have people detained and wants the city of Chicago to go after people without any probable cause being submitted before the court and without a warrant. The city of Chicago can't do that.

CUOMO: It's not always that way. It's not always that way, though, right? I mean sometimes they will say, if you get Chris Cuomo in your jail system, we have a warrant for him. He's here illegally or he's wanted for whatever it is that falls under ICE's law enforcement jurisdiction, give him to us. And it doesn't happen.

And the rational for why it doesn't happen is the one you're offering. We'll lose confidence in the communities.

You don't hear that about the African-American communities. You know, you lose the confidence in those communities as well when you are hyper-vigilant about enforcement of law. But you still enforce the laws.

You won't do it here, why?

GUTIERREZ: And here's -- it's not that we don't enforce the law. I courteously disagree with you.

We will enforce the law if you supply a warrant. I will tell you they will hold that person in Cook County jail and release that person to ICE. So, you need to get a warrant, right? Because I think that's the basic thing.

Don't expect -- here's what they do, Chris -- what they do is they call and say hold this guy. We've had cases in the city of Chicago where somebody is held on Friday only to find out Monday, after they have been held in jail all weekend, they are a citizen of the United States of America, should never have been held in jail.

CUOMO: Right, mistakes are made. Mistakes are made.

(CROSSTALK)

GUTIERREZ: But more importantly is that they're not going after criminals. You have reported extensively in the city of Chicago, Mrs. Lino (ph). Mrs. Lino reported for 12 years. She has three American citizen children, an American citizen husband. She reported for the last 12 years dutifully, and now, all of a sudden, under the Trump administration, they say she's a danger to society and she has to leave in July of this year. That's wrong.

CUOMO: That's an issue. But it is a separate issue.

Congressman, can you tell me with all honesty and a straight face that you don't believe that there are cases in this country in major cities that are called sanctuary cities where law enforcement just refuses to work with ICE because they don't want the PR issues, they don't want the added cost issues of holding people, they don't the extra administrative issues of having to litigate cases that aren't specifically theirs, they're ICE's? Doesn't that happen?

GUTIERREZ: Here's what it really is all about, Chris, is that we live in blended communities. I'll tell you real quickly. So, when President Obama came to the city of Chicago, just to show you the depth of this, when the president came to the city of Chicago back in 2015, I took my grandson with me, Luis Andres, and Luis Andres said to President Obama, these were his new executive orders that possibly could give five million people legal status in the country. He said to the president, thanks a lot because now my aunts and uncles can stay.

So, look, Chris, even in the Gutierrez household, there are obviously extensive family members that my own grandson knows about. Why? Because he has classmates that are undocumented.

CUOMO: Right.

GUTIERREZ: Because we live in a blended community. It would be simple to say we live in a caste society and those without papers live here and those without papers live over there.

There are 5 million American citizen children, Chris, 5 million of them who's parents are documented. We have a responsible to protect the birthright of those children and, Chris, let's just fix the broken immigration system so that we no longer have to have this conversation.

And lastly, I just want to say those criminals, those illegal aliens they talk about, guess whose impact, they're on my community, on my family -- I don't want them in my community either. I want the Chicago police, the L.A. police to enforce the law, put them in jail, sanction them.

[08:25:03] And if they're here undocumented, to deport them from the United States of America.

So, let's just be clear, that we are for law enforcement protecting our communities against anyone, regardless of their immigration status. Because you are undocumented, we don't want to say now you're in a special category that the police can't go after you. No. If you are a drug dealer, if you are someone who's doing harm to a community, the full force of the law should go against you.

CUOMO: Right. And on the other side, they say, just coming in illegally is enough. But it's a wide-ranging debate. It is going to continue. Thank you for making the case on NEW DAY, Congressman.

GUTIERREZ: Thanks, Chris. Thank you.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris.

Embattled House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes refusing to step down, insisting that his Russia investigation will go forward. Congressman Trey Gowdy, he's on that committee. He's here to tell us what he thinks about this and where the investigation goes next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: The House Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation grinding to a halt over political infighting. Now for the first time, a Republican lawmaker is calling on chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from that Russian probe.

North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones tells a reporter, quote, "How can you be chairman of a major committee and do all of these things behind the scenes and keep your credibility? If anything has shown we need a commission, this has done it by the way he has acted. The integrity of the committee looking into this has been tainted."

Nunes says he is not going anywhere.

So, let's bring in one of the Republicans on the Intel Committee, and that is South Carolina's Trey Gowdy.