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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

More Abuse Allegations in U.S. Gymnastics; Census Dirty Trick?; Interview With California Congressman Ted Lieu. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 27, 2018 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:03]

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Making sure the country has an accurate count of the people who live here.

The Justice Department requesting a seemingly simple question be asked, asking, are you a U.S. citizen? California says it's much more than that, at the heart designed to cheat this anti-Trump state.

ALEX PADILLA, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: It literally diminishes our voice in our federal government and compromises our fair representation that's called for in the Constitution and in federal law. That's exactly what's at stake.

LAH: In California, undocumented immigrants make up nearly two to three million people.

And in the Trump presidency, fear in those communities has grown.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Frankly, it's a disgrace, the sanctuary city situation.

LAH: Trump giving more teeth to immigration enforcement. Under Trump, arrests of non-criminal immigrants more than doubled in 2017, as compared to the year before.

Video of ICE arrest of parents like this father have gone viral. The father arrested on a 10-year-old DUI charge was released.

California's lawmakers say that deters undocumented immigrants from declaring their status on any document. Fewer people counted in California, fewer federal dollars and potentially fewer representatives in Congress.

The Trump reelection campaign endorsed the DOJ's move. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in a letter, reinstating the citizenship question on the 2020 census, writes: "For the approximately 90 percent of the population who are citizens, this question is no additional imposition."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders:

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, this is a question that's been included in every sense of since 1965, with the exception of 2010, when it was removed. We've contained this question that's provided data that's necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters, and specifically to help us better comply with the Voting Rights Act out, which is something that is important and a part of this process.

LAH: Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson says it's about making representation among states more fair.

REP. WARREN DAVIDSON (R), OHIO: We don't have as many illegal people in Ohio. Ohio's losing representation to states like California. And if California's illegal population is two to three million, then they have three to five members of Congress in -- that wouldn't be there if they only counted citizens.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: Now, his map is a bit generous there. We think it's probably closer to one to three seats at stake.

But this is just California. There are other blue states joining in on the lawsuit. And I was talking to him about those federal dollars. We're talking about money that impacts education, health care services, transit, billions of dollars at stake -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Kyung Lah, thanks very much.

Joining me now is Congressman Ted Lieu. He's a Democrat from California. He serves on the Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary Committees.

Congressman Lieu, if you would explain, just be clear, the political impact of this, because it sounds like this is the biggest focus. Explain why Democrats fear that this will lead to states with large immigrant populations to have less representation, both in state legislatures, but also in Congress?

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Jim, for you question.

And let me first say that Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution requires the government to count the number of people in our country, not the number of citizens. And when you put in this question, it's going to cause some folks to not turn in their census forms, because this is a voluntary process.

It's going to require additional resources to make sure we get an accurate count. And it's going to undercount people in states like California, where there are high immigrant populations. And that could result in a lack of federal resources and services for the people that needs help and needs representation.

SCIUTTO: Now, some of the pushback from the Commerce Department, which has issued the census, is saying that there is no hard evidence that putting such a question on the form will actually suppress participation in this.

What evidence is there that this will lead people not to turn those forms in? LIEU: But that question was actually removed in 1950, contrary to Sarah Huckabee Sanders' statement today. She made yet another false statement.

That census question on citizenship has not been in for nearly 70 years. It's been a bipartisan process. And this is a process that needs to be not just bipartisan, but really the American people need to have faith that the figures coming in are accurate.

And if you're an immigration, you might not want to turn that paper in if you think bad things are going to happen to you based on how you answer the questions on the form.

SCIUTTO: So, you're using, in effect, that some folks might fear that if they don't list themselves as a citizen, that ICE will come for them?

Is that the idea, that the environment is such that you're...

LIEU: Absolutely.

That's actually correct, because you do see these ICE raids are happening.

[16:35:00]

In addition, there is a separate survey called the American Community survey that does ask that question. The Commerce Department can get that information through that survey.

The Department of Justice can get it through that survey. But they shouldn't be adding irrelevant questions to the census.

The census is designed to count people, not citizens.

SCIUTTO: Why, though, isn't it reasonable just to ask the question, right? Your name is not attached to the form when you send it in.

And there are other federal forms and government forms that ask that question. Why such an uproar from including a simple question about citizenship?

LIEU: So, one reason that this question was removed in 1950 is because the Census Bureau realized that there was undercounting of populations, including minority populations and populations that had high numbers of immigrants.

Both Republican and Democratic census directors have come out opposing the adding of this question. And, again, it is completely irrelevant to the constitutional mandate, which is to count people, not citizens.

And really what the Trump administration is trying to do is to weaponize the census, so that they can use it to undercount people in California and other states with high immigrant populations.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Lieu, thanks for that, but please don't go anywhere.

We have new questions coming about allegations aimed at president -- the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. We're going to discuss.

Please stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:40:25]

SCIUTTO: We're back now with Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu. Thanks very much for sticking with us.

Congressman Lieu, we reported that the acting director of the Office of Government Ethics told Democratic members of Congress that the White House Counsel's Office is investigating loans to Jared Kushner's businesses.

Today, however, Sarah Sanders at the White House podium said that the White House counsel's not investigating Kushner. I'm curious. This is an issue that you have been active on. Is that denial satisfying to you?

LIEU: Not when it comes to Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She already lied today about the census issue. We can't really trust what she says, because she's made so many false statements.

But I do believe Jared Kushner needs to be investigated for these two massive loans that his family's business received after folks met with him as senior White House adviser. Apollo gave him a $184 loan to his company. And Citigroup gave a $325 loan also to the Kushner company after they met with Jared Kushner in the White House.

That looks and feels improper.

SCIUTTO: Now, his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has said that he's no longer involved in these businesses and that these meetings took place after the business meetings, we should say -- or the loans to place after he left the former role in the business.

Do you believe that the separation is actually substantial there?

LIEU: The public reporting is that he still retains a stake in his family's business.

And the size of these loans is also very telling. Apollo gave a loan that was triple their normal size after the founder of Apollo met with Jared Kushner a number of times in the White House. So the whole thing really smells bad. And I think investigators need to look into these transactions.

But I also wrote a letter to Jared Kushner signed by over a dozen members of Congress asking if he asked foreign nationals to help finance his troubled property at 666 Fifth Avenue. It's been over three months now, and he still can't answer that question. SCIUTTO: It's a fair question. If you or I were applying for

security clearances, having a big debt just in the thousands of might be an issue, certainly would come up from your FBI investigator.

On another issue,Russia, the Trump administration, you have been critical of the president's handling of Russia, his reluctance to call out Russia for bad behavior, yesterday kicking out dozens of diplomats, closing a consulate in Seattle.

In your view, does the White House deserve credit here for standing up to Russia?

LIEU: I support the administration's action of joining other countries and expelling Russian diplomats.

I do note, however, that as we sit here today, Donald Trump still has not implemented the bipartisan congressional sanctions that we passed last year. The only thing that they have done is use an Obama era law to implement sanctions on some of the folks that Robert Mueller had indicted.

So, we still have a far ways to go in terms of the administration stopping the Russians from bullying America.

SCIUTTO: Now, you mentioned Robert Mueller's investigation.

The White House has denied that the president is thinking about firing Robert Miller. Do you believe those denials?

LIEU: I don't know what to believe from the White House.

But I do know that if the president fired Robert Mueller, that would constitute obstruction of justice. If he fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to meddle with Robert Mueller or fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do the same thing, that would also constitute obstruction of justice.

And this weekend, we saw these amazing March for Our Lives happened across America. If he did anything to Robert Mueller, I think you would see massive marches and demonstrations and protests.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Ted Lieu of California, thanks very much for taking the time today.

LIEU: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Michigan State was already grappling with the largest child sex abuse scandal in sports history. Now the boss of gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is facing his own allegations of abuse.

What investigators say they found on his computer, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Today, more fallout and more disturbing allegations tied to one of the biggest sex abuse scandals in sports history involving women's gymnastics. Larry Nassar is the team doctor already in prison after more than 150 women and girls accused him of sexual abuse. Now Nassar's former boss at Michigan State University William Strampel faces his own allegations. He is accused of using his position as Dean at MSU to sexually proposition and assault female students. Victims say this is only the beginning of uncovering decades of inaction and cover-up at Michigan State. CNN's Jean Casarez is live on the campus of Michigan State University. Jean, you know, I'm almost dumb founded, I am dumb founded as you read about the scale of this, the brazenness of this and now getting much further into the university structure.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And this all came about so quickly, seemingly because all of a sudden we heard that there were going to be criminal charges. And you make such an important point, Jim, it was boss of Larry Nassar, the doctor at MSU, the Olympic physician for all the gymnast in this country. And what happened is that it was the -- this doctor who actually stood up for Larry Nassar in the Title Nine complaint in 2014 and said it was a medical procedure. He wasn't sexually assaulting young women. And that doctor is what allowed MSU to say it was an approved procedure and he kept assaulting young women. One the things that stand out from the criminal complaint filed today is criminal sexual conduct. And according to the affidavit of probable cause, four young women, all female, all medical students, say that Dr. William Strampel actually groped them, propositioned them, told them if you do me a favor, I'll do you a favor, gave them comments that they need to dress in a more sexy manner and the details are just striking. Additionally we learned some background today from the special prosecutor William Forsyth with the Michigan Attorney General's Office that they received a tip in February. And that tip made them act quickly and they executed a search he warrant right here at Michigan State University to get Dr. Strampel's computer, electronic equipment, and one of the charges here also in regard to the misconduct has to do with pornography of women that was found on his computers. Images, some of them appearing to be selfies, most of them we were told have to do with Michigan State University students and also videos, pornography on his computer, 37,000 images of child porn on Larry Nassar's computer, very close for comfort, Jim.

[16:51:32] SCIUTTO: Just difficult to stomach. Jean Casarez, thanks very for staying on that just alarming story for us. The death now of an unarmed black man killed by police in his grandmother's backyard is ruled as homicide. Now, a major development coming in that investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] SCIUTTO: Today, two major decisions surrounding to black men who were killed by police. Both the killings caught on camera and both of the killings stirring outrage. In Louisiana, authorities will not file charges against two Baton Rouge police officers involved in a 2016 death of Alton Sterling. The Attorney General said the actions of the officers were justified. Cell phone video showed Sterling pinned down by two white officers in 2016. One officer then shot sterling when he concluded that Sterling was reaching for a gun. In Sacramento, the state is stepping in to see -- to oversee the Stephon Clark investigation. He was the young man shot to death by police just last week while standing in his grandmother's backyard. CNN's Dan Simon is live in Sacramento. Dan, how much is today's decision in response to the protest that we've seen almost daily since Clark's death there?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi Jim! First of all, I'm standing in the atrium of the Sacramento Police Department where just in a few moment I'll actually be interviewing the Police Chief and we'll be talking more about this issues. But no question, this is really an effort to try to reduce the anxiety that some people are feeling in this community. And why is there anxiety? Well, as we've seen on police video, some 20 shots were fired at Stephon Clark. And as we also see on the video, at one point, the officers want the microphones turned off. They actually turned off those microphones, so there's deep suspicion in the community. So that is why this announcement was made today to provide some level of oversight in terms of what the Sacramento Police Department is doing. But not everybody, Jim, is happy about this. As we saw this afternoon, Black Lives Matter activists want an outside entity entirely looking at this incident. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TANYA FAISON, SPOKESWOMAN, BLACK LIVES MATTER OF SACRAMENTO: Personally, I don't trust agencies that were close to government. I feel like the people, the community, somebody from each region of Sacramento needs to be part of a group that investigates all police misconduct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Well, obviously there is a lot for officers to look at with this incident. We should tell you that these two officers remain on paid administrative duty and at this point, their names have not been publicly released, Jim, because both of them have received death threats.

SCIUTTO: And we're hearing the handling of this case is also a big test for the Sacramento Police Chief. Why is that, now?

SIMON: Well, he is the first African-American Chief for the Sacramento Police Department. He came in about seven months ago when there was already deep trust within the community as it relates to racial matters. So he has his work cut out for him. He's trying to do his best, trying to transparent. That is what he's been saying all along, is that he wants to provide some level of transparency. We've seen a number of protests that have broken out in recent days. He's trying get the community to calm down. Thus far, Jim, with all the protests we've seen, fortunately, most have remained peaceful. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Tense times there in Sacramento. Dan Simon, thanks very much. Be sure to follow the show on Facebook and Twitter and on @THELEADCNN. That is it for THE LEAD today, I'm Jim Sciutto in for Jake Tapper. I turn you over no to Wolf Blitzer, he is as you'd expect to find him in "THE SITUATION ROOM." WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, remaining silent. President Trump is rarely silent about anything, so why is he keeping quiet about Stormy Daniels? As the White House again denies allegations of an affair, I'll talk to Stormy Daniels' lawyer live this hour.

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