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House GOP and Democratic Leaders Hold News Conferences; Excerpts from Hillary Clinton's New Book; Dem Leadership Talk about Decision to End DACA; House GOP Leaders after Decision to End DACA. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired September 6, 2017 - 10:00   ET



JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: -- to speak with the president about the fall agenda. As you said, at the top of the list is that issue of funding for the victims of hurricane Harvey in Louisiana as well as Texas.

Now, the emerging question is whether to take that proposal for $7.8 billion in emergency money and attach it to a proposal to increase the debt ceiling, which according to some on Capitol Hill, including senior Congressional aide I just talked to a few minutes ago, that may be the only way to do it they say. Even though some congressional Republicans in the House, conservatives, are opposed to that idea and would like very much to vote against any debt limit. So, the question is, is that going to happen? Will the president throw his support behind that idea?

What we do know is that the congressional Democratic leaders, Chuck Schumer as well as Nancy Pelosi, just put out a statement a few minutes ago indicating that they are in support of that idea to tie the money for the hurricane recovery and relief to the debt ceiling as long as that debt ceiling increase goes on only for about three months. So we expect to hear that from them.

And then they make their way over here to the White House for a further discussion of that and some of the other things they have to do, including figuring out how to fund the government, either getting a continuing resolution, or in the alternative, a big omnibus spending bill that would fund the government and keep it from shutting down before the deadline date of September 30th. So, a lot on the plate of the congressional leaders as they head here to the White House and interesting to see whether the president jumps very much out in front of this and starts pressing members of Congress from his own party to support the idea of tying the relief for Harvey into the debt ceiling increase. Back to you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Joe Johns, we're awaiting those press conferences from leadership in both parties. Thank you at the White House

Joining us now, CNN political commentators, Symone Sanders, Scott Jennings and Matt Lewis. So, Scott, let me go to you first, to someone who worked in the White House under former President George W. Bush. Can you help us decipher what the sitting president means when he starts a stopwatch yesterday and he and his attorney general say, right, six months, DACA is going to end and it's in Congress' lap to figure out.

And then last night, he tweets this, "Congress now has six months to legalize DACA, something the Obama administration wasn't able to do. If they can't, I will revisit this issue!"

Confusing? Yes. To say the least, right?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Clearly, the president doesn't want to kick 800,000 people out of the country. He has obviously wrestled with this publically. I actually think he picked the best of some bad options. I mean, number one, he could have ended the program immediately, which is a terrible option and absolutely cruel. And he shouldn't have done that. So that was good that he didn't do that.

He could have let the EO stand, which was going to be challenged in court. And a lot of lawyers think it was going to be struck down in court. So that's not a great option. What he did then was give the Congress six months to come up with something that would give the Dreamers what they deserve, which is certainty in their status by punting it over to the Congress.

Now, he undid a little bit of that last night by opening the door to acting if the Congress doesn't act. I'm worried about what that sets up with his attorney general because Jeff Sessions in his statement said that the president of the United States has no legal standing to issue this kind of an executive order. So if the president now has to come back six months later and sort of re up the Obama EO, he is sort of at odds with his own Justice Department. The bottom line is the Congress must act. It would be shameful for the Republicans not to act on this. These people deserve a protection.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He gave them a six-month deadline then extended that deadline perhaps indefinitely.

Symone Sanders, Democrats are going to play a big role here. If anything is going to pass Congress in the next six months, Democrats may be the majority of those votes for the protection of Dreamers. So how far do you think the Democrats should be willing to go? Do you think that they should be willing to make a compromise on border security for instance if it includes any funding for the president's border wall?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I think there was -- Congressman Crowley was on - that CNN just yesterday. And he noted that if the Republicans come to the Democrats in the House and the Senate with a deal trying to tie saving the Dreamers with the border wall for instance, we should call the FBI because they're being held hostage. And I absolutely agree with that.

I think that there is a humane and practical way where folks can go about this without having to tie it to this border wall that everyone thinks is ridiculous, mind you, including some House Republicans. This is the president attempting to strong arm some people on the Hill.

[10:05:02] And so, what I really think is we have to remember that we're talking about young people. Young people who are currently serving our country, some people who are teachers. Young folks who by no fault of their own came to this country and this is the only country they know. They are Americans in every way, shape or form except on paper. And we need to do something quickly to make sure that we're protecting them.

HARLOW: Matt Lewis, there's a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll out. And when you dig in to the numbers and you look at it party by party, there's something really interesting. More than three-quarters of Democrats but less than one-third of Republicans said they feel comfortable with the societal changes right now that have made the United States more diverse. What kind of predicament does that put Republicans in that are voting for their constituents and they themselves may believe I want to protect these Dreamers but they're also dealing with numbers like this?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Donald Trump put Republicans in a very difficult situation. He is not providing any leadership on this. And look, I think he could have had he framed it right from the beginning. He could have paired doing something for Dreamers with some sort of enforcement, whether it's border security, whether it's e- verify, ending chain migration. He could have had - I don't want to say a comprehensive bill but something that would have made it more palatable.

Right now Republicans in Congress are in this unenviable position. If they try to pass DACA without anything else, just sort of pass DACA, if they fail, then every time there's a Dreamers deported, there's going to be horrible press. Republicans are going to look like villains. And they're going to look impudent. They couldn't get anything done.

On the other hand, if Republicans do pass DACA, it's very feasible that the base, the conservative base who is very worried about a changing America - and look, I think that immigration is a good thing. But you need to make sure that America is you know, absorbing immigrants, and that they're being assimilated properly. So you're going to have a conservative part of the Republican base who say, we have the president, we have the Senate, we have the House and the only thing they did the entire year of 2017 was pass a bill allowing illegal immigrants status in America and probably raising the debt ceiling. If you are a conservative, that's not a great year for you.

BERMAN: The word amnesty pops up.


JENNINGS: -- is to tie to border security, though, right? I mean, that's the way to fix this. I think Matt has got a great point. But the way to do this politically correct is to get the DACA thing right but then tie it to some kind of border security. I don't know if it's a down payment on a wall. But there's a way to do both. We can walk and chew gum at the same time as the Republican Party. That's the message that the party ought to be sending to the American people.

SANDERS: I mean, I guess I would agree. I would agree with Scott here that -

BERMAN: Too much agreement.

SANDERS: They should be able to walk and chew gum. I definitely -


JENNINGS: Whoa! Whoa!


SANDERS: But the problem here is that the White House has not given Congress any type of guidance. We heard a lot of different things yesterday. We heard from Jeff Sessions that you know, DACA is being rescinded, that Congress has to do something about DACA. We heard from the White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that we need a - essentially a comprehensive immigration reform package. We heard from the president that if Congress can't get DACA done, then he will think about it again. So we don't really know what we're hearing.

And if anyone thinks that this Congress in six months can get immigration reform done on top of all the other things, raising the debt ceiling, tax reform, they're still trying to repeal and replace Obamacare. Have you met this Republican Congress? There's really - there's some trouble here. They haven't been able to get anything done.

BERMAN: Can we quickly talk about Hillary Clinton who once ran for president not too long ago? CNN got a copy of the book overnight. -

HARLOW: And John Berman read it overnight.

BERMAN: I'm not that fast at reading. But we did have some best people reading it overnight. There were a lot of new things that came out in the CNN reporting. You should go online to find it.

But Symone, some of the stuff that was being kicked around yesterday had to do with your former boss, former Senator Bernie Sanders. I just want to read you a couple clips here. "His attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump's 'Crooked Hillary' campaign.

She also writes, "He didn't get into the race to make sure a Democrat won the White House, he got in to disrupt the Democratic Party."

Your response, Symone?

SANDERS: My response is, look, Secretary Clinton is definitely entitled to be able to tell her story. She's telling her story from her vantage point. Not my vantage point. Not the vantage point of lots of other people across this country. But it's her vantage point and she's entitled to tell her story.

Look, is Bernie Sanders a Democrat? No. But I think Democrats and folks around the country need to be more concerned about who is willing to do the work of the Democratic Party, who is interested in advocating for and fighting for the ideals that we say we represent as opposed to who just has a D behind their name. Millions of young people, over 45 percent of young folks, millennials like myself, identify as independents. We care about the work and we care about the issues, not necessarily all these labels that people try to ascribe to us.

[10:10:01] So I'm not interested in rehashing or re-litigating the 2016 primary. I'm trying to figure out how these Dreamers are going to be able to stay and what we're going to do about our economy and is Congress going to let the government shut down?

HARLOW: Matt Lewis, what do you make of it? I mean, she also talked about how some of her closest advisers, President Obama, talked about, you know, sort of grit your teeth, deal with this, don't directly attack Sanders on this stuff.

LEWIS: Yes. She says, I accept full responsibility for my campaign. But Barack Obama wouldn't let me attack Bernie. And Bernie Sanders cost me the election. And look, I sympathize with her plight. If you are writing a book, you get a book deal, and you need to fill up, you know, 70,000, a 100,000, -- I don't know how many thousands of words -

HARLOW: She gets paid just a little bit --

LEWIS: She probable made a little more than I did on my book. You are expected to say things that are provocative and introspective and all that. So look, she has to do this if you are writing a book. But it does look bad. This reinforces, I think, a narrative about Hillary Clinton that she doesn't accept responsibility for the fact that she wasn't likeable, she didn't campaign -

HARLOW: She said there it's on her.

LEWIS: She says it and then she says, but it's their fault.

BERMAN: I want to read the whole book to be sure about it. It does seem as if she takes a whole lot of blame here for the loss, saying it's completely on her. And she notes that she's not like -- she has a problem with being likeable -

HARLOW: Lightning rod.

BERMAN: She calls herself a lightning rod. One of the things she points to - Well, one of the things she points to is the fact that she's a woman. I will leave you with you that note.

Let's listen to the Democratic leaders of Congress right now talking about their agenda.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: We'll do that, constitutional and the illegal as he may consider it to be. As I turn over to our special guest here -- I'm so pleased that so many members of the House and Senate are here -- let me just say this. President Trump is the first president in 30 years -- let's just go back to Reagan. We can go back further.

President Reagan not only acted, he acted after Congress acted. And he said Congress didn't go far enough. So he and president -- then to become President George Herbert Walker, Bush did the family fairness agenda to do more than Congress did. President Clinton followed suit. President George W. Bush was a great immigration president. We know that President Obama is a great leader, especially concerned about our Dreamers.

So this is the first president in modern times, in the lives of these Dreamers, who has been anti-immigration, rejecting the idea that immigration is the life blood of our country, the constant - of America and that every newcomer who comes to America with hopes, dreams, aspirations and optimism and courage makes America more American. And that spirit I'm pleased to yield to the distinguished Democratic leader of the Senate, Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you. Thank you, Leader Pelosi. It's not great to be here. We wish we didn't have to be here. But be here we must.

And I want to thank the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for organizing this event. And all of my colleagues in the Senate who I would like to mention if I can see them all. Senators Klobuchar, Hollen, Merkley, Udall, Heinrich, Blumenthal, Warner -- he is tall. Anyone else? -- They're the tall ones and they modestly stood to the back.

But let me say this. I want to cut to the chase. The president's decision -- the president's decision to end DACA was heartless and it was brainless. If this order stands, hundreds, hundreds of thousands of families will be ripped apart. Tens of thousands of American businesses will lose hard working employees. We're talking about folks who were brought here as children through no fault to their own.

They may have known no other country but ours and have voluntarily registered themselves with the government in order to live, work and give back to our great country. They represent no threat to the country. In fact, in so many ways, the Dreamers represent the best of our country. They want to get right by the law, by serving in the military, going to our schools, working at our companies, contributing to our society, paying their taxes. They risk and sometimes give their lives to protect others in this country.

Overseas as members of the Armed Forces and here at home like Alonso Guillen, a DACA recipient who died just last week trying to save others from the unprecedented floodwaters in Texas.

[10:15:01] So make no mistake. Dreamers contribute greatly to our country, to our businesses, to our economy.

A recent study by the Center for American Progress found that 91 percent of DACA recipients are employed, paying taxes, paying into Social Security. The same study found that ending DACA would drain $433 billion from our national GDP over ten years. And even the libertarian Cato Institute estimated that ending DACA would cost employers nearly $2 billion over two years.

It's no wonder that 500 business leaders of America are up in arms over the president's decision. Now I'm glad that some Republicans in Congress have voiced their opposition to the president's decision because we're going to need them to right the ship.

Congress has an ability and obligation to act, which is why we today are calling on Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell to immediately put the DREAM Act on the floor for a vote in the House and Senate.


We're ready to pass it. I am confident that if put on the floor it will garner overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle. But let us say this - and I think I speak for the leader as well. If a clean DREAM Act does not come to the floor in September, we're prepared to attach it to other items this fall until it passes.


It's now my honor to turn it over to the leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Michelle Lujan Grisham of the great state of New Mexico, both of whose senators are here.

SEN. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (D), NEW MEXICO: Thank you very much, Senator. I want to thank the Senate and the House -

BERMAN: All right. You have been listening to the Democratic leaders of Congress right now criticizing the action the president took yesterday in regards to 800,000 Dreamers. And Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, said what he wants to see is a clean vote on a bill to protect these 800,000 people. And if he doesn't get it, he says, they will try to attach a version of that bill to everything else the Senate discusses going forward.

Back now with our panel, Matt Lewis, first to you, you can sort of see now where Democrats are going to go with this. I think they want to wait and see what the Republicans come up with right now. But they have that luxury of sitting back and waiting and picking their spot.

LEWIS: Yes. I think -- again, I think Donald Trump has given -- done no favor for House Republicans who have a lot on their plate as it is. And he's put them in an unenviable position. The Republican base is very worried about immigration. Actually wants to curtail certainly illegal immigration, in some cases legal immigration. And so they have the choice, the Republicans have the choice of being uncompassionate or going against their base.

And this is sort of -- this is the liberal version of -- in the abortion debate on the right, if you know, a lot of people have different positions on abortion. But when Republicans talk about partial birth abortion or late term abortion, they almost always win. For decades Republicans scored a lot of points talking about partial birth abortion. This is that version on the left, OK? Immigration is a hot button issue. There's a lot of controversy about it. But as long as Democrats can talk about Dreamers, they will always win. You can tell that Senator Schumer here is running up the score. It's really impossible to be against the Dreamers. These are exactly -- if you believe in assimilation, if you want people who would join the military, are going to help America, this is who you want in the country. It's hard to be against them. And yet, where does it end? I mean, you know, what about somebody who -- what about a young immigrant brought here tomorrow to no fault of their own? At what point do we say that person should be allowed to stay?

HARLOW: But Matt, you bring up what's important here and it is language and how it's described, right? So it's described by some Republicans and Democrats like you just heard Chuck Schumer the way that you described Dreamers, right, which is hard to argue with. And then it's described by other conservatives like Steve King completely differently as amnesty and where does it end, right?

And when you look at this, Scott, and you look at some of the polling - I mean, the most recent polling that we could find purely on DACA is October last year with CBS. And the way it's described is that nine out of ten Americans support to pass to citizenship for those who came to the U.S. illegally as children if certain requirements are met. Nine out of ten Americans if it's described that way. It's just not as simple as that.

JENNINGS: I think the Dreamers have brought support in both parties.

[10:20:01] And that's ultimately -- I'm going to choose to be the glass half full guy here. I think the Republicans in the Congress will ultimately pass something that it gives them the status that they deserve.

What I think is really terrible though is this hyper partisan rhetoric coming out of Pelosi and Schumer. Remember, Donald Trump didn't create this executive order mess. He inherited this executive order from Barack Obama. And his administration's lawyers, along with many, many other legal scholars, believe that if it had been challenged in court, it would have lost.

Donald Trump I think here is trying to find a way to get this codified to U.S. Law and not leave it up to a court or a future president to kick out this executive order. So ultimately, I hope the Dreamers get what they deserve, which is a law instead of some tenuous executive order that Donald Trump inherited illegally from a previous administration.


SANDERS: It's an executive order that President Obama felt he had to write because Congress did not act. Congress has had multiple opportunities to show us that they are humane, that they care about the plight of these young people who have again contributed to this economy, who are assets to our country, again who are Americans in every single way except on paper. They have failed to act. And so, President Obama acted as a sought measure, not to say that this is the only answer, but to put something in place to at least take care of the Dreamers for now. And then the issue would be re- visited. Well, now, we are re-visiting the issue under a false deadline from President Trump. But we're revisiting --

JENNINGS: Trump had to re-visit the issue because he's going to be sued. The state attorneys general are going to sue the federal government.


SANDERS: I think what's really important here is -- there's nothing to stop, one, those attorney generals from suing today, because they could definitely - the could file suit tomorrow. I'm not an attorney but I do communications for a litigation team. And I can tell you that you can file a suit at any time. 12:00 p.m., 12:00 a.m., whenever you want to file the suit. The suit can go.

And so, there's nothing to say that the suit won't be filed. There's also nothing to say that Congress cannot act on DACA while DACA is still in place. There's nothing -- so this is a false notion that was put forth to make President Trump seem as though he was struggling with the Dreamers and struggling with this issue. But to be frank, if you -


JENNINGS: I don't understand why you want -- why do you want the Dreamers to exist under an executive order and not a U.S. law? Would you prefer this --

SANDERS: And that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is -

JENNINGS: -- instead of an executive order?

SANDERS: And I agree, Scott. But what I'm saying is --

BERMAN: Guys, I got to cut this off. As great as this discussion is, we got to go listen to the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: -- really been impressive.

When this all started to unfold, they were reaching out to express the urgency of the situation. 52 inches of rain, it's something we have never seen before. And so, they made it clear to us just how vast this problem was. And as soon as we finish here, the House will take action, as Kevin just said, on installment on this. We will not leave until this is done.

Nothing can really capture just how big and wide this devastation is. You hear a lot of numbers. Tens of thousands of people in shelters, hundreds of thousands of homes damaged. Nothing can really capture this. When we look at - when you turn on the TV in America today, you look at all the vitriol, you look at the bitterness, you look at you know, rioting and all the rest of this. You begin to wonder whether or not our civil society is holding together. This hurricane shows that it is.

This shows that our civil society is still very, very civil. An e-mail went around to J. Watt to Wisconsin to the various churches and schools. And we wanted to fill up one semi-trailer at farm and fleet with the business name Hufcor to send some aid down to the JJ Watt Foundation, a local hero, placed to the Houston, Texas. And the next day when we all collected stuff at our kids' schools, we didn't fill one semi-trailer, we filled nine. That's just in Wisconsin, getting aid down to Houston.

And so, what I think is a good story out of all of this is in this country, citizens when they see other citizens in need, they step up and they answer the call. And so, it is something that we should take stock and encouragement from.

Now, we, government, have a responsibility as well. And as the majority leader said, technology is a good thing and it's helping us. What it's also doing is it is moving money very fast through the system as it should. And that is why we will not leave until we get this done to make sure that the response is there.

We have got another hurricane right now, hurricane Irma headed to our shores. And it's critical that we act immediately. So, for now, we've got to make sure that we team up with our first responders. We are really encouraged and heartened by the people grabbing their boats and going and rescuing their citizens, people all around American sending aid.

[10:25:02] And with one more hurricane, one that 185 mile per hour winds hitting our shores again -- those people in that line are in our thoughts and our prayers.

So, I just think it's really important that we take stock of the fact that civil society in America is well and alive. It's on display. Citizens are helping each other. And the government will be there to respond to the needs of these people who have faced this unprecedented devastation. Any questions?

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, following the president's decision yesterday on DACA, put the ball in Congress' court. And I was wondering whether you support a standalone bill to DACA? And if you're thinking there needs to be broader immigration? And then the second part is, you previously had told conservatives when you became speaker you would not bring up immigration reform without the majority of Republicans supporting it.

RYAN: Yes. So, first, let me say, President Obama was wrong to do it in the first place because he overstepped his constitutional bounds. We, the president and Congress take an oath to support and defend the Constitution. So President Trump was right in his decision. He made the right call.

I'm also encouraged by the fact that he gave us time to work out a consensus, to find a compromise. Because these kids don't -- for most part don't know any other home than the United States. So I think the president was right to give us the time we need to find that compromise. Where does that compromise exist? That's what we're going to spend the next months, figuring out where that compromise is. But I think it's totally reasonable and appropriate that when you take a look at the DACA dilemma, this is a dilemma that in large part stems from fact that it is a symptom of a larger problem. And the larger problem is that we do not have control of our borders.

And so, it's only reasonable and fitting that we also address the root cause of the problem, which is borders that are not sufficiently controlled while we address this very real and very human problem that's right in front of us. So I think that's perfectly reasonable.

To your second part of your question, we will not be advancing legislation that does not have the support of President Trump because we're going to the work with the president on how to do this legislation. And if we have legislation coming through here that is worked with and supported by the president. I'm very confident that our members will support that. Susan?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) -- seems like they're trying to extract -

RYAN: I think that's a ridiculous idea. I hope that they don't mean that. Let's just think about this. We've got all this devastation in Texas. We've got another unprecedented hurricane hitting -- about to hit Florida. And they want to play politics with the debt ceiling? That will strand the aid that we need to bring to these victims of these storms that have occurred or are about to occur. And that they also want to threaten default on our debt.

I think that is a ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment when we have fellow citizens in need to respond to these hurricanes so that we do not strand them.

I think what those - what the leaders you just described proposed, is unworkable. And it could put in jeopardy the kind of hurricane response we need to have. Look, many of us got the calls from the administration who said FEMA is moving so fast that we're running out of money as early as Friday to Tuesday.

So we've got to make sure that we have the authority -- legal authority to go out and be able to put money back into FEMA so we can respond to these hurricanes, not to mention the fact that we already have to start prepositioning for the fact that Irma is about to hit Florida and to play politics with the debt ceiling like Schumer and Pelosi apparently are doing I don't think is a good idea.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) -- why not then raise the debt ceiling on your own? The Democrats have been critical of your side. (INAUDIBLE) You guys have the majority. Why not provide the votes on your side if it's that important? (INAUDIBLE)

RYAN: As you know, this takes 60 votes in the Senate. I think what the president doesn't want to do is give more leverage where it shouldn't occur on the debt ceiling. As you know, this takes 60 votes in Senate. If it was majority only vote, we could do what you are saying. But it's not a majority vote. It's a 60 vote bill in the Senate, you know that.

QUESTION: Hundreds of thousands are Dreamers are looking to you. Can you guarantee that you will take action on this issue? You will hold a vote? (INAUDIBLE)

RYAN: Look, I think people should rest easy. And I think the president made the right call. And the president also gave us the time and space we're going to need to find where that compromise is. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, this is a home that people know and they don't know any other country as a home.

And so, I think there's a serious humane issue here that needs to be dealt with. But it's only fitting and reasonable that we also deal with some of the root causes of the problem. What we don't want to have happen is another DACA problem in ten years from now. We want to make sure that we fix this issue for these kids, for these young people and address the root cause of the problem so we don't have the same thing ten years from now. And that's totally proper.

So I do believe that there's a compromise to be had here. I do believe that Congress - and we're going to work with our members to find out where that compromise is. So that we can bring resolutions to this very --