Return to Transcripts main page


Supreme Court Strikes Down Two North Carolina Congressional Maps; Trump Budget Cuts $800 Billion from Medicaid; Trump Meets with Israeli Prime Minister. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 22, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:31:05] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, some breaking news. The Supreme Court just handing down two key decisions in this congressional redistricting, the gerrymandering in North Carolina.

Let's go straight to our Ariane de Vogue who's at the Supreme Court with more.

This is significant and it follows a ruling that the Supreme Court decided not to make on North Carolina's voting laws just about two weeks ago.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Well, right. In this case, it's important because the Supreme Court now has struck down two congressional redistricting maps.

This case concerned racial gerrymander. It was brought by civil rights groups and Democrats, and they said that in two districts, North Carolina had tried to pack African-Americans into certain districts and then dilute their presence in surrounding districts.

The state said, look, we were just trying to comply with the Voting Rights Act. But Justice Elena Kagan, she wrote this opinion -- because there were two districts, the vote lineup is different, but here's what she said. "The Constitution entrusts states with the job of designing congressional districts, but it also imposes an important constraint. A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines, unless it has a compelling reason."

And one more thing, poppy, this comes at a time when Democrats after the last election led by former attorney general Eric Holder have said that they are going to really focus on the issue of redistricting for the next election. And Eric Holder said he had the support of President Obama. So that's what came out of the Supreme Court today, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Ariane de Vogue, thank you for the reporting. We appreciate it. Outside of the high court.

Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is on the phone with us.

A few important notes here, Jeffrey. Neil Gorsuch, the newly confirmed Supreme Court justice, did not take part in this because, you know, he doesn't enter into cases already in the middle of being heard. There were two votes here by the justices, the vote on one of the maps, one of the gerrymandering maps, was 8-0, so unanimous there. But on the other, District 12 map, it was 5-3.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (via phone): That's right, and this is just a very controversial area in the Supreme Court because the court has said that it's OK for state legislatures to draw lines, district lines, that help one political party, but they are not allowed to draw lines that use race.

Now the problem is, in this -- in the United States, virtually all African-Americans are Democrats so that if you draw lines to help the Republican Party, you almost always hurt African-Americans. So race -- the difference between race and political party is something the court has been trying to figure out, and it's actually -- it's very difficult to do, but in this case, the civil rights groups, the African-American voters who brought the case won. It's a very important victory, but this fight will continue state by state.

HARLOW: I was just going to say, Jeffrey, what sort of precedent does this set? I mean, are there other critical cases that are coming through the court system through the lower courts and potentially up to the Supreme Court in other states on this issue and how significant do you think it will be as a benchmark?

TOOBIN: There are a handful of cases, but what really is important is that we are heading up to the 2020 census. And after the 2020 census, every congressional seat, every seat in the state legislature will have to go through some redistricting. And what's really important about this ruling is that it sets the stage for what the rules will be in 2021 when the states get the census data and have to redistrict, and that's really the focus of what Eric Holder and President Obama are going to be doing is trying to help Democrats do better after 2020 than they did after 2010, which was not just a disastrous election for Democrats, but it was also a disastrous redistricting.

[10:35:12] And that has really, you know, paralyzed the Democratic Party for the past decade at the state level. Holder and Obama are trying to make sure that doesn't happen after 2020.

HARLOW: And as you said, this is significant not only for the implications of the ruling but ahead of the 2020 census.

Jeffrey Toobin, Ariane de Vogue, thank you very much.

Again, the breaking news on this case, on the redistricting case, "Cooper versus Harris," is that the Supreme Court, the high court, has struck down the gerrymandering, the redistricting that was led by the Republican-led legislature in North Carolina.

All right, we have a lot ahead. The president's new budget is going to be rolled out tomorrow. We have confirmed that it calls for $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid. What does that mean for Americans who rely on it? That's straight ahead.


[10:40:16] HARLOW: After joining the president for the first stop on his foreign trip, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon are now headed back to Washington. Why? Because they have a big budget rollout tomorrow and it has some very big cuts in it.

Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with us.

We knew there were going to be cuts, spending cuts. We're talking about $800 billion is the headline we have right now out of Medicaid, right?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right, out of Medicaid. So this is what we know. The Trump administration is set to deliver that full 2018 budget to Congress tomorrow. The full version of that blueprint we saw in March. That only dealt with about a third of all spending. The full budget includes entitlements and the headline, you're right, Poppy, $800 billion cut for Medicaid over the next 10 years. That's according to senior administration officials.

That cut assumes the current GOP health care bill passes the Senate and becomes law. It cuts Medicaid funding two ways. First, it stops the planned expansion of the program. Second, it cuts federal funding. The burden shifts from the federal government to the states.

Medicaid covers 70 million low-income adults, children and disabled Americans, and the CBO estimates that as federal money disappears, about 25 percent less federal money over the next decade, 14 million people will lose their coverage.

Now that number is based on an earlier version of the bill. The CBO is set to release an updated version Wednesday, and that final score will prove important when the bill reaches the Senate. Many Senate Republicans don't want to cut a program that helps their lower-income constituents, including governors, too.

HARLOW: The thinking here is that, all right, we make these cuts, but we make up for it in people's lives by this job creation.

ROMANS: Right.

HARLOW: There's no guarantee of this.


HARLOW: And --

ROMANS: These are two very distinct philosophies here. You have got a philosophy on the right that we're going to create so many jobs and grow the economy so strongly that you won't need expanded food stamps, expanded -- overlapping and maybe mismanaged antipoverty programs, right? We're going to focus on the job part of this. And also, they want to cut taxes. They want to cut taxes so that's going to grow the economy. That's their philosophy.

There's also a philosophy there about -- and we have not confirmed the food stamps angle of this, we'll know for sure tomorrow whether they're going to cut the supplemental nutrition, but that ballooned under the Obama administration part of the post-recession.


ROMANS: You know, stab to those wounds. They want to roll some of that back.

HARLOW: This is a president who did promise on the campaign trail more than once not to cut entitlements, not to touch Medicaid.

ROMANS: You're right.

HARLOW: Medicare and Medicaid.

ROMANS: You're absolutely right. But the president on the campaign trail promised a lot of things that are turning out not to be true in actual, real politics. So we'll see. We will get that budget, not just the blueprint that we've seen before. But we'll get the full thing tomorrow. That's why Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon --

HARLOW: Are headed back.

ROMANS: Are headed back.


ROMANS: Because they've got a lot of work on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

HARLOW: All right. Christine Romans, thank you so much. You'll be with us tomorrow morning as we parse through all of this as we get the budget rollout.

Still to come for us, though, right now. In just moments, President Trump is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is a very big moment. This is also a critical moment after a historic move was made by this president, the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall. Much more on that straight ahead.


[10:47:14] HARLOW: All right, you're looking at live pictures of the First Lady Melania Trump, along with Mrs. Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They're visiting the Hadasa Medical Center in Jerusalem. It is just approaching 6:00 p.m. local time there.

This follows their visit to the Western Wall, a significant, monumental visit, the first time a sitting U.S. president has gone to the Western Wall. But again, this is being dubbed as a garden visit by the first lady of Israel and of the United States to the Hadasa Medical Center.

We are also just moments away from President Trump's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two of them will sit down together. This is just one of the many scheduled events that are on the president's docket for this trip. The meeting comes as U.S.-Israeli relations are under scrutiny, thanks

to the president's quest to broker what he has dubbed the ultimate deal on Mideast peace. This as well as tension over reports that the president revealed classified intelligence obtained by the Israelis to the Russians in the Oval Office.

Joining me now, David Horowitz, editor of "The Times of Israel," Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor for the "Islamic Monthly," and John Kirby, CNN military and diplomatic analyst and former State Department spokesman.

John Kirby, let me begin with you, as you saw, as we did, live here the images of the president making that historic visit to the Western Wall. He's navigating quite a lot right now.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes, this is a big trip, and today's certainly a very significant part of that trip. This is as tricky as it gets from a foreign policy perspective, there's no question about that. The peace between the Arabs and Israelis, Palestinians in particular, and the Israelis has bedeviled countless administrations before him, so this is tough. This is really hard. And what he needs to try to do, I think, in this visit is see if there is an opening, if there is even a chance to begin to start talks again.

We haven't seen much leadership on both sides of this equation in terms of being willing to stop the violence, quit the incitement, stop the building of settlements. This is a chance for him to see if there's an opening, if that is possible.

HARLOW: David, you wrote about this in an opinion piece and you wrote about sort of the overall, the president's larger trip, but you talked about his visit, his speech in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, saying -- yesterday, saying that speech took on a, quote, "Obama-esque outreach" tone. What do you make of what we've seen from the president thus far on this big international trip?

DAVID HOROWITZ, EDITOR, THE TIMES OF ISRAEL: Well, you know, he's certainly making some history here. The speech yesterday was very -- you know, it was not Obama-esque where Israel was concerned. Obama spoke a good deal about Israel in Cairo.

HARLOW: Right.

HOROWITZ: He's barely mentioned Israel in Riyadh. But now he's come here, he's the first person I think to ever fly directly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv, never mind the first president.

HARLOW: He is.

HOROWITZ: He's been to the Western Wall, which is unprecedented, as you say, for a serving president.

[10:50:06] He's, again, about to meet with Netanyahu. I think what's interesting is he won't be meeting for very long with Netanyahu, then they're having dinner together with the wives. This is not Clinton or Obama-style, lengthy negotiations. This is

Trump as is his way, I think. You know, he told the Muslim world, the Arab world, drive out terrorism. I think he's going to say to the Israelis and Palestinians, make peace. I don't think he's going to sit down and sort of work through the clauses of a possible treaty with them.

HARLOW: Arsalan, there was an important movement, whether it was a symbolic gesture or more, I'd like you to weigh in on, from the Israeli Cabinet ahead of President Trump's visit. The Israeli Cabinet reaching out, changing some of the ground rules, easing up on those Palestinian movement restrictions in an effort to help promote economic growth for the Palestinians. Is it significant? Is it symbolic just ahead of this president's move? How do you read it?

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR, SENIOR EDITOR, ISLAMIC MONTHLY: Well, I think that any meaningful, long-lasting political solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is going to happen on the ground, and I don't think Donald trump is going to be the game-changer in that. In fact, you know, Donald Trump has come out in favor of both the two-state solution and the one-state solution, which, of course, is baffling to many foreign policy experts because it's like saying, I'm pro-life and pro-choice at the same time.

So, again, I think there's a huge credibility gap when it comes to Donald Trump, primarily vis-a-vis the Palestinians in terms of all the rhetoric that he has stated about Muslims, you know, from the fact that he wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States or that Islam hates us. So I think there's a huge credibility divide that is going to need to be bridged in order for there to be any sort of meaningful conversation between the sides.

HARLOW: John Kirby, something that the president said, I mean, he's talked about making the ultimate deal. He has tapped his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as his, you know, an attorney in the Trump administration, a former friend, someone who works now with the administration now, Jason Greenblatt, to help do that. But here's what the president said just last month when he was meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, about a deal.

He said, "It is something that I frankly think maybe is not as difficult as people have thought over the years." Does this president have a full understanding of what it takes to reach a deal, do you believe?

KIRBY: I don't know. I certainly -- a comment like that certainly doesn't give one the comfort level that you would need so that he understands the great complexity here. I mean, this is a difficult problem to solve, and I don't think -- I agree with my colleagues here that he's not going to solve it here on this trip. Maybe he can just get to a point where they can begin to start to have a discussion about moving it forward.

I do think, however, though, and I want to believe, however, that on this trip he is beginning to learn how difficult it is. You saw a different Donald Trump yesterday in Riyadh talking about the challenge of terrorism and the Muslim faith. Hopefully, his discussion here with Prime Minister Netanyahu today, President Rivlin earlier this morning, hopefully, he will -- and then with soon-to-be president Abbas who's going to be talking to him, hopefully, as a result of these conversations, he'll begin to understand how complex and how difficult this really, really is.

HARLOW: All right. And David, to you as well, is there anything that you believe is different in this visit? Obviously, he's welcomed with open arms from Benjamin Netanyahu, this president, a very different reception than, of course, President Obama, especially at the end of his presidency who did not make on his first trip to the Middle East, as president did not stop in Israel.

But is there anything outside of that, sort of broader warmth between the two -- the two leaders, anything materially different that would make negotiating a peace deal any easier for this president?

HOROWITZ: Yes, I'm not sure that there's -- in fact, you know, the Trump approach seems to be the big brush stroke approach. That's what I think, you know, and maybe we can all scoff and say, well, that's not going to work, but Clinton and Obama, for example, were into the minutia and got nowhere. So you could say maybe a president who takes three steps back and says, listen, both of you sides say that you want peace, why don't you just get on with it, and we'll be with you if you do it and we'll be really unhappy if you don't.

You know, nobody's really tried that before. So, you know, just possibly, while the Israelis welcome the coup of such an early president visit, we should remember that it's the same for the Palestinians as well. He'll be meeting Abbas for the second time in a month. Neither side is totally comfortable, but he hasn't alienated either side and I think that's going to be his approach.

You both say you want peace, we want to encourage you. He said to the President Rivlin, just before they went into their closed meeting, you've got a great opportunity right now, words to that effect, not we have, you've got. I think he's going to encourage the two sides, if they're serious, come on, show me.

HARLOW: Thank you all very much. We're out of time.

Arsalan Iftikhar, David Horowitz, John Kirby, thank you all very much.

Before we go, we do have some breaking news just into us here at CNN. Former National Security adviser Michael Flynn we have just learned will not provide records, will not provide records to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

[10:55:08] He will instead invoke his Fifth Amendment right in response to that subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Again, President Trump's former National Security adviser who President Trump fired, General Michael Flynn, we have learned will not provide records to the Senate Intelligence Committee. He will instead invoke his Fifth Amendment right responding to that subpoena. Much more on the breaking news ahead.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.

We are following breaking news in the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. CNN is now learning that fired National Security adviser Michael Flynn, he plans to plead the Fifth and will not testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, as requested. He will decline -- he will decline the subpoena that was put forth to him by the committee.