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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Debuts Controversial First TV Ad; Bill Clinton Hits Campaign Trail Amid Trump Attacks; New Details on Obama's Executive Actions on Guns. Aired 7-8:00p ET
Aired January 4, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:15] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up next, just weeks left until the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump turns up the heat spending millions of new ads. So is he getting nervous?
Plus, breaking news, the President about to make a major announcement. New details at this hour.
And on protesters seize a government building they say they're not leaving until their demands are met. I'm going to talk to the man leading the standoff. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett tonight. OUTFRONT tonight, the sprint is on the first voting of 2016 just four weeks from today now and in that crucial state of Iowa. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are battling it out for the top spot. Right now both of those candidates are going to be speaking live making what is very close to their final pitch to primary and caucus voters. Donald Trump is rallying supporters just outside in New Hampshire in Massachusetts tonight. Ted Cruz is holding its town hall in Iowa, part of a six-day swing through three dozen counties in that state. And the rest of the GOP field is also fanning out across the early states and with the pressure on, Donald Trump is now rolling out his first TV ad highlighting some of his most controversial comments yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism. That's why he's calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until he can figure out what's going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Sara Murray is traveling with the Trump campaign. She's OUTFRONT with us tonight. So, Sara, you've been talking to voters at this Trump event and that many others, a lot of the questions right now about whether he can turn this big enthusiasm at these rallies into actual votes. What are voters there telling you?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. That's really the core question of Donald Trump's candidacy. He can turn out thousands of people for the rallies and he's leading in the polls but his supporters are a mishmash of normal Republican primary voters, Democrats that are feeling disenchanted with their own party and people who have never voted before. And one of the other question people are asking is, if it's a cold night in Iowa, will people really show up and go through that long caucus traffic?
Well, I talked to voters here in Massachusetts who were lined up outside as a temperature feeling to the teens and they were scoffing at the notion that Iowa voters wouldn't show up just because it was a little chilly outside. I spoke to one couple in their 60s who got here at 10:00 a.m. The doors didn't open until 5:00 p.m. To wait for Trump and they're convinced that his sort of enthusiasm doesn't just apply to the rallies. And if you're willing to stand outside in 15- degree weather to see Trump live in a rally, you're finally going to show up on Election Day. The other interesting thing they were saying to me, they don't want to hear anything else about the Clintons. A number of voters said, they want to hear Donald Trump talk about substance, talk about what he would do if he were president. And they said the Clintons have plenty of skeletons in their past but Donald Trump has his own scandals and they don't want to hear about any of it -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Fascinating. And yes, it is very cold in Iowa right now and yes, it is very cold in New Hampshire now. It's going to be fascinating to see that big question. Will they turned out? Sounds like something absolutely yes. Sara, thank you so much.
So how much of an impact though will Donald Trump's new ad have on this campaign and his chances in this early states. Dana Bash is OUTFRONT.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump's first paid television ad is indeed Trump, blunt and provocative.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll quickly cut the head of ISIS. And he'll stop the illegal immigration by building a wall in our southern border that Mexico will pay for.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And not without controversy. It turns out that footage of people flooding the border is not Mexico and the U.S. but Morocco and Spain. After the website PolitiFact uncovered the discrepancy, the Trump campaign insisted it was intentional to show the, quote, "severe impact of an open border." And on the forum, the reality star used to become the front-runner, free media, Trump started 2016 as he ended 2015 going after both Clintons on CNN's "NEW DAY."
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She used the word sexist. I'm sexist. And she was using very sort of derogatory terms. I said, how in the hell can she do that when she's got one of the great women abusers of all time sitting at her house.
BASH: Trump rallied a huge crowd this weekend in Mississippi.
TRUMP: Outside we have thousands of people trying to get in.
BASH: But it is Iowa just four weeks away where Trump's fiercest competitor in the caucuses is spending his week.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is now the time that the men and women of Iowa step up.
[19:05:05] BASH: Ted Cruz on a 28 stop, six-day bus tour is trying to turn his Iowa lead in the polls into an actual win next month, appealing to evangelicals by quoting scripture.
CRUZ: Pray and lift off this country. We stand on the promise of second Chronicles 7:14. If my people which you call it by my name shall humble themselves and pray, and turn from their wicked ways and seek my face then I will hear my prayers.
BASH: And throwing down his best Clint Eastwood invitation.
CRUZ: When you hang a man, make sure you hang him high.
BASH: The Iowa caucuses are February 1st, New Hampshire's primary is tonight, that's where Marco Rubio and Chris Christie started their days making place to be the alternative to Trump and Cruz.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The job is not described in the constitution as entertainer-in-chief or commentator- in-chief or even frankly economist-in-chief. It's described as the Commander-in-chief. If you can't be bothered to offer specifics on how you will perform that job, then, quite frankly, you don't deserve that job.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But anger is not a strategy and it won't make our government better and it won't make our country better unless it's anger used to motivate us towards electing someone who actually can do the job.
BASH: Now, Rubio and Christie aren't just going after Trump and Cruz. They're going after each other. A little more than five weeks ahead of the New Hampshire primary, each thinks the other is a prime competitor to be the favor of the Republican establishment. Rubio's Super Pac is poised to air attack ads against a New Jersey governor and Kate, you know, he's doing well in New Hampshire after camping out there for months hoping for a comeback.
BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right. That's absolutely right, Dana. Great to see you. Thank you so much.
BASH: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: The police are coming for you. Watch out, Dana. You can hear the sirens in the background. Let's discuss more. OUTFRONT tonight, Donald Trump, campaign
spokesperson Katrina Pierson, and conservative radio host Ben Ferguson. Guys, it's a great to see you.
BEN FERGUSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, "THE BEN FERGUSON SHOW": Good to be here.
BOLDUAN: So, Dana lays it out really high, Katrina. Dana lays it out really perfectly. Trump brags often about not needing to spend really any money and he still stays atop of the polls. So, Katrina, why then roll out any ads and why now?
KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: Well, because we're a month out from the Iowa caucus. And anyone that's running a competitive race wants to run ads to make sure that their narrative stays consistent and that their opponents don't define who they are. And as we heard that Mr. Trump's ad is very consistent with what we've been saying the entire time. This is about keeping your voters excited and getting them out to the caucus, nothing more and nothing less.
BOLDUAN: Nothing more, nothing less. Then Trump also said -- on top of that, he also said that he almost feels guilty not spending some cash. He said that to CBS. Do you think this has all been about, he just feels bad about not spending some money?
FERGUSON: No. I don't think it's about that all. I think Donald Trump is concerned that he's not going to do well in Iowa and then things can spiral out of control. He's smart to spend money. He should be spending money there because he's in a very tight race with Ted Cruz. The problem maybe what's in his ad that might get him in more trouble? The fact he says is going to take the oil of ISIS. Are we going to take it and then give it back to the people in Iraq? Are we going to take it and sell it? What is his plan with that? Because him saying he's taking off from ISIS is obviously news to me and also when he says he's going to build the wall, how are you going to do it?
At some point he's going to have to answer the question with specifics and saying that I'm a negotiator. I'm the best negotiator you've ever seen in the world. Trust me. Mexico is going to pay for it. That is not a plan. That is just an idea that is backed up in literally nothing. So, at some point he's going to have to talk to the voters in Iowa, in New Hampshire, with actual facts on how he would accomplish this, otherwise they're empty promises.
BOLDUAN: Here's the thing --
PIERSON: Well, I'm not quite sure --
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Katrina.
PIERSON: I'm not quite sure that's the case, Ben. I mean, you're talking about Donald Trump who is a building empire owner. So, of course, he knows how to build a wall. I mean, that really can't say the argument here.
PIERSON: Of course, how is that going to happen? How is he going to build the wall?
FERGUSON: I didn't say --
PIERSON: Ben, are you going to let me talk? Are you going to let me speak, Ben?
FERGUSON: Well, yes, that's not what I said.
PIERSON: Let me finish my point. Let me finish my point.
BOLDUAN: Katrina, to Ben's point, he says he knows how to build a wall but how is he going to let Mexico pay for it?
PIERSON: Because we have all of these restrictions we put on state and municipalities. Every time we give a dime to anybody, we put conditions and terms and we have all of these strings attacked. We don't do that with other nations that we give hundreds of millions and sometimes billions of dollars to. We have to start using our own leverage which is financial on these other countries to make them step up in the Middle East and to build a wall on the Southern Border of China, on the Southern Border of the United States of Mexico.
FERGUSON: Katrina, I'm not saying that Donald Trump doesn't know how to build an actual wall. OK. That is the easy part of the plan. The idea that you're going to get Mexico to do it, and the answer he has given is, quote-unquote, "Trust me, I'm the best negotiator in the world," that's not an answer. What you just said did not answer the question. Saying that you're going put pressure on Mexico and therefore they're just going to say, oh, Donald Trump became the President of the United States of America, therefore, we're going to go ahead and build a wall because he became president. That is not an adequate answer in Iowa and New Hampshire.
PIERSON: The wall has already been started -- the wall has already been started and Congress already passed the appropriations to build the wall. So, what are you talking about?
[19:10:22] BOLDUAN: So, Katrina, let me jump in on this. One thing is clear, even though he hasn't offer specifics, that has not hurt him in the polls to this point. That is one thing that has come founded many establishment Republicans and conservatives alike, how is that possible? Do Iowa voters, do New Hampshire voters do, they really want to hear more from him? We're going to find out when they head to the polls. But here's one question that a lot of folks do what more specifics on an answer to Katrina. You heard it in Dana's piece. Your campaign is being called out right now for using footage from Morocco in this new ad when talking about people flooding the U.S. border. You guys have said it was intentional. But most people -- let's be honest. Most people don't know that that video is a Morocco. So, a lot of folks, this is misleading.
PIERSON: Well, if you're any successful in business, you know that 60 percent of your sale is your visual aid. That was getting a point across of what an open border looks like. And had he used footage from undocumented minors that were flooding across the border, he would have been accused of being insensitive, or taking advantage or politicizing a humanitarian crisis. But to the point of being specific, the reason why it hasn't matter this cycle and I think he has been specific. But the reason why a lot of people aren't really listening to this 14-point necessity is because we've had Republican politicians for the last few decades that go out there and they spout off these 14-point plans, they make all these campaign promises, and they give you the exact think tank that you want to hear and then you get elected and do nothing. That's why it's not setting with voters.
BOLDUAN: We'll have to see if the visual aid is being misleading --
FERGUSON: Here's the thing though about this.
BOLDUAN: -- will fly with voters though. I will say that is going to be a lingering question that folks will going to want to know more about. Katrina, Ben, thanks, guys. Let's continue this.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Katrina.
PIERSON: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, Bill Clinton hits the campaign trail as Hillary Clinton reveals her New Year's resolution. Hint, it's all about Donald Trump.
Plus, breaking news, we're just learning the details of the President's executive order on gun control, how far will the President go.
And handling hecklers on the campaign trail. The good, the bad, and the, oh, so very ugly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Get him the hell out of here, will you, please? Get him out of here. Throw him out!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:15:51] BOLDUAN: Tonight the comeback kid is back on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. Bill Clinton hitting the Granite State on the campaign trail for his wife Hillary Clinton. It's the first time the former president is on the trail by himself in this campaign and he clearly had the GOP field on his mind offering some veiled hits along the way. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Every presidential election people run and, believe it or not, it's kind of scary this year, but believe it or not, most everybody actually tries to do what they say they're going to do when they're running. They're telling you what they believe, and so you've got to take them seriously. But you also have to take seriously whether they have any chance of doing what they say they're going to do or any record of doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Brianna Keilar is live tonight in Exeter, New Hampshire. So, Brianna, he did not mention Donald Trump by name but a whole lot of folks were wondering if Bill Clinton would respond to this comment on CNN earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They, during the course of the debate and many other times, he was talking about, she used the word "sexist," I'm sexist. And he was using very, sort of very derogatory terms. I said, how in the hell can she do that, when she's got one of the great women abusers of all time sitting at her house waiting for him to come home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So he did mention it on the stump. What are you hearing? Is Clinton going to respond?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we don't expect him to necessarily respond if today is any indication Kate, to respond kind of directly, he was asked about this by a reporter. And he sort of glossed over it. He said that Republicans will have to decide who they're going nominate. He's here in New Hampshire to tell voters, to tell the country that Hillary Clinton is the best pick for president. That said, you just played sound from Bill Clinton on the stump. And he had these thinly veiled jabs and that was not really the only one to Donald Trump.
Not surprisingly, the sort of self-selecting folks who were here and who were in Nashua, who came to hear Bill Clinton speak, they really didn't even want to hear about this. A lot of them, even one of them, an undecided voter told us that she thought that this was Donald Trump who's throwing a stone from a glass house and that he's just a hypocrite. So this isn't something that people really want to hear. Now, the difference may be if Donald Trump keeps hitting Hillary Clinton on this. We know that Bill Clinton when he's taking the incoming himself it doesn't kind of get under his skin as much as when someone is really criticizing his wife. That's when he gets very defensive. But at the same time, if today's any indication, he's going to try to keep the focus on his wife and push this controversy to the side.
BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, you talk about those hits getting under his skin, we saw that in '08. I mean, he turned out to be a liability at times for Hillary Clinton's campaign. How much are they going to be putting him out there this time?
KEILAR: We just learned after his event here in Exeter rapped a short time ago that he's going to be in Iowa on Thursday for two events. So aside that, the campaign is true to what they're saying that they believe he's an asset, that he is a good communicator, that he certainly a draw for Hillary Clinton. Now, at the same time the person you saw today on the stump was a much more buttoned up disciplined candidate than you saw back in 2008. In 2008 he notoriously did not take a lot of direction from his wife's campaign. He freelanced a bit. He got her into trouble when he called then Senator Obama's candidacy the biggest fairy tale he had ever seen and then when he won South Carolina, he said that Jesse Jackson had won South Carolina twice, which was taken as sort of a dismissive as well as a statement that had some racist undertones and that is really how he's hurt Hillary Clinton in that. But as of right now, he's showing some discipline. He was even significantly early to two events which is very uncharacteristic for Bill Clinton. And it seems like the campaign is going to try to keep putting him out there as a messenger for his wife.
BOLDUAN: Yes, it happened in a show earlier and a lot of folks were saying, wait a second, he's early? That's not Bill Clinton's style, that's for sure.
KEILAR: So weird, Kate. So weird.
BOLDUAN: It's a weird campaign, it's a weird campaign, that's for sure. Thanks, Brianna. Great to see you.
Let's discuss further. OUTFRONT now, CNN political commentator and former Communications Director first Senator Ted Cruz, Amanda Carpenter, and the president of "Correct the Record" Super Pac and he's supporting Hillary Clinton Brad Woodhouse.
Guys, it's a great to see you.
BRAD WOODHOUSE, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS HEAD, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thank you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Of course.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.
[19:20:34] BOLDUAN: So, Amanda, Donald Trump, he's not letting up on his attacks against Bill Clinton, that's for shoe. And, yes, Bill Clinton comes with baggage but you are also talking about one of the most popular former presidents. From your perspective, is this a smart fight for Donald Trump to be taking on?
CARPENTER: Well, judging from Bill Clinton's lack of response, I think it's absolutely is. I mean, Bill Clinton of all people should have a response to this question. The fact that he doesn't know how to answer it, tells me that the GOP has a complete freebie to go at Hillary Clinton through Bill Clinton and if I, you know, if I were advising somebody, I would encourage the Super Pacs -- the attack here, because they're on the defense. BOLDUAN: So, Brad, Bill Clinton's a freebie now.
WOODHOUSE: You know, I wish Amanda was advising these campaigns. My God! They tried to do this for 20 years. It's never worked. Remember, Bill Clinton won in '92, won in '96, and '98 when they were trying to impeach him. Democrats won the midterm elections and Newt Gingrich left in disgraced and then Hillary Clinton obviously was elected twice in the United States Senate with all the Republicans trying all of these tactics. Rand Paul ran this whole issue out last year. He was laughed off the -- he was laughed off the stage. So, look. I think the reason not to respond to it is that this probably helps Donald Trump a little bit in the primary because he's stoking the base, but this fight has always helped the Clintons. There's no reason to engage in it because Donald Trump is going to do what Donald Trump is going to do. But, yes, Amanda, please advise people to keep doing these attacks. They've always backfired.
CARPENTER: But here's the thing, Brad.
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Amanda.
CARPENTER: Things are very different now in 2016 than they were in the 1990s. Hillary Clinton opened the door by her herself by saying that victims of the abuse should be believed until there's evidence that they shouldn't. That brings up a question of judgment for Hillary Clinton. What was her role in these scandals? I never heard the answer to that. You know, we talk a lot about millennials who weren't around in the 1990s who are just hearing about these scandals. And quite frankly, the more I learned about them, the more alarming they are. Monica Lewinsky was 22 years old.
Under ObamaCare, people are considered children until they're 26. She was an intern. He was in a high position of power. Yes. Bill Clintons has been asked about it many times, but Hillary Clinton's role, you know, did she stand by her man or protect women? She wants to be a defender of women. This gets to her judgment, it gets to her record, and I'm certainly not surprised they have no response. They pretend like nobody else wants to know more about her thinking --
BOLDUAN: Brad, Amanda does bring up a point, I did want to raise with you. And she brings up the comment from Hillary Clinton which she says that all sexual assault victims have the right to be heard. Following that, a Republican state lawmaker in New Hampshire, we have the video of it, talked about a quite a bit, heckled her, try to shout her down, saying that women you accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault, they also have the right to be heard. To that point, is that heckler right?
WOODHOUSE: Well, look, Kate. They were heard. I mean, we saw -- we saw this issue judged in the Congress, we saw a special prosecutor appointed who went absolutely wild. We saw depositions, we saw lawsuits. These people have been heard. One thing that has been changed in the 1990s, Amanda is people have moved on. Bill Clinton is the most popular politician in America. By all means, attack him and attack his wife. There's not one time --
CARPENTER: But this is a question --
BOLDUAN: But Amanda, another thing to the point to what Brad is saying and how popular Bill Clinton is, if you look back, Hillary Clinton's favorability rating actually went up after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. So, I mean, how much of this should Republicans be concerned that the same could happen here? This could backfire on Trump and kind of by extension Republicans at large.
CARPENTER: Well, I do think in the 1990s, Hillary Clinton got some points for standing by her man but the Democrats have largely picked a fight that I don't think they can finish. They want to pretend that there's a war on women done by Republicans in Congress. That's simply is not true. You know, I have a little bit of frustration for hearing about this, you know, I worked for two Republican senators who were considered sexist in every name of a book for just simply voting against legislation. You know, the things that Bill Clinton got away with in the 1990s, he would not get away with this in 2016. I would never work for a man who did what he did with an intern. And so I think people are much more comfortable exploring this issues in a public guy. A lot of Republican women want to know what Hillary Clinton's role was in that and it's just galling to think that she wants to be a defender of women given what she witnessed as first lady.
[19:25:18] WOODHOUSE: Kate, there's so much history here, this has backfired every single time. This might stoke up the Republican base. This might be what Donald Trump needs to do to distract from the fact that Ted Cruz has gotten ahead of him and the race is getting tighter in New Hampshire. But it will drive independent women towards Hillary Clinton or hurt Republicans in the general election and by all means I hope Amanda keeps advising Republicans to continue down this road.
BOLDUAN: I'm keeping this tape, guys. We'll see. After Iowa, after New Hampshire, we'll going to come back and play, and have a chat.
BOLDUAN: Good to see you, guys. Thanks so much.
OUTFRONT for us next, we have breaking news. President Obama about to make an unprecedented announcement on gun laws. And armed protesters hold up in a government building, OUTFRONT tonight, the man leading that standoff.
[19:29:33] BOLDUAN: And breaking news. President Obama is about to make a major announcement on gun control, unveiling a series of executive orders on just that. The unprecedented move bypasses Congress after no gun control bills were passed into law.
CNN's Michelle Kosinski has the details coming in from the White House. So, Michelle, what are you learning tonight? MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: OK. Well,
first of all, you know, you see the administration and these changes, really trying to put its hand in virtually every step in the process. But because these are executive actions unilaterally enacted by the White House and not acts of Congress, you immediately see the limits there. I mean, the changes are even put out there as proposals or encouragement or guidance, these are not new laws. But the biggest issue is the background checks. Now, the White House says, everybody out there who's engaged in the business of selling guns, whether you're selling two guns a year or 200,000 guns, you have to get a license to sell and all of your buyers have to undergo background checks.
And there are going to be big penalties if you don't register it. That includes people who are not just selling at gun shows but also on the internet, even the dark web from a home, you name it. If you're selling, you have do this. However, the question is, well, how is the government going to make people register and how would they find everybody who needs to do that? What's the enforcement issue there?
Also, the White House sent a letter to every governor encouraging states to contribute more information to the background check system, things like people who would be disqualified because of mental illness or domestic violence convictions. But again, this is encouragement, how will this be enforced is a question that's out there.
The White House also wants to -- there's a proposal to beef up the background check system itself, a lot more hiring, more funding, having it operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week as well as much, much more funding for mental health treatment in this country. However, that money is an ask. It has to come from Congress, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Divided the country is, we're already seeing many reaction even before this was rolled out from Republican candidates, that's for sure.
Michelle, thank you so much.
OUTFRONT with me now, CNN political commentator Van Jones, a former special adviser to President Obama, Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, and Steve Vladeck, CNN legal analyst and a law professor at American University.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming in.
So, we now have some of the details of what the president is going to announce, what the president is pushing for, what he will formally unveil tomorrow.
Richard, from what you've heard, background checks is clearly where a big focus is here for the White House and for the president. I thought it really interesting that a recent Quinnipiac poll, it showed that 84 percent supported background checks at exactly what we're talking about here, at gun shows and for online gun sales. Among household with guns, 84 percent supported.
With all of that in mind, what is the problem then with this move by the White House?
RICHARD FELDMAN, PRESIDENT, INDEPENDENT FIREARM OWNERS ASSOCIATION: Well, I haven't read the details of the report, but our organization has always supported mandatory background checks between strangers at gun shows, on the Internet. The real problem is going to come when we examine the requirements of transferring guns between family members, friends, co-workers. That's where the rubber's going to meet the road.
In my original perusal here, there are some very good things the president is proposing, $500 million for mental health research. That's a good thing. My only question is, why did it take him seven years to figure that out?
BOLDUAN: Van, what do you say to that?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I just want to say hallelujah. This president is going to do more good on gun safety in one day than Congress has been willing to do for a decade. So, this is a very, very good thing.
Also, you have to understand, you have so many shenanigans that have been going on in terms of the gun trade. You're buying it on the Internet, the dark web, you have people setting up trusts, corporations, all kinds of shenanigans going on. The president has been begging Congress to do something about it.
There's a circle of constitutional authority. There's a circle of moral concern. Where they overlap the president can act. This president acting is a good thing. It's very good thing.
BOLDUAN: Van, but I want you to get -- I want to get you on this point to. What he's saying that one of the proposals is $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care. If everyone agrees that that's a good thing, why has it taken the president so long? That gets to what critics of the president say is that this is as much politically motivated as it is a policy
JONES: I don't think that that's fair. If you look at it overall, you've got some carrots, you've got some sticks, you've got some pleas, you've got some prayers. The president is basically putting everything on the table and saying, can we please get something done?
And the same people who criticize the president for not going to Congress, now he's going to Congress and they're saying it's too late. If this Congress want to act, Congress could have acted on mental health a long time ago.
This is a very good thing. What's so surprising, the people who jump out and say this is terrible, this is tyranny, when they look at it, as we just saw, people have been critics to the president are going to find a lot to applaud here, a lot to applaud.
[19:35:00] BOLDUAN: Richard, you know, the president when he was announcing the move, he says that this is well within his legal authority. Today, the president had the attorney general sitting next to him making announcement. Also, the FBI director, he had the head of the ATF sitting next to him.
But even before all this happened, we had Republican after Republican, including House Speaker Paul Ryan calling this dangerous level of executive overreach, the country will not stand for it. Do you think that the president is doing something illegal here in what he's rolling out?
FELDMAN: Well, I don't really know. I just perused it before the show. It all depends on the process by which he's going about promulgating this.
The president can't raise taxes by $500 million. That has to be authorized by the Congress. He can propose, but the Congress still has to act.
He can't override the Congress. We have a democratic republic in this country, with three equal branches government. And I think what people were upset about in the past, the president has overreached, and I recall three years ago almost to the day when the president issued, I believe, it was 27 executive orders. I have them with me.
And when I read some of them, many of which made sense then, but he never did anything about them. Issuing orders and effectuating them into policy are two very different tasks.
BOLDUAN: Steve, I want you to weigh in. I want Steve to weigh in on this to this point. Where the rubber meets the road, where are the details? When the president is rolling out these details? That obviously is important. But from what you hear, Steve, opponents say immediately this is executive overreach and that the president is already breaking the law. Is he?
STEVE VLADECK: I mean, I think based on what we've heard so far, no. I think it's important to separate out two separate legal questions here. The real question is about the Second Amendment. But the courts have been fairly clear that even though the Second Amendment allows people to keep them in their own home, it doesn't stop the government from requiring background checks for gun dealers and so on.
The more important question is what Speaker Ryan alluded to, which is, is the president usurping Congress' power? And that really whether the president is simply interpreting federal statutes, the ones that require background checks for certain dealers already, is it a reasonable interpretation of the statute to say that individuals who are selling guns on the internet, who are selling guns at gun shows who are doing more than just selling guns to family members are also covered by the same federal statute?
Based on what we've seen so far, I have to say, that's a long shot for them to be making much more politically sensitive I think than legally precise. BOLDUAN: Hmm. Steve, Richard, Van, thank you all so much. This
conversation is just getting under way. It's going to be a very busy week in terms of this conversation around gun control.
Thursday night, President Obama is joining Anderson Cooper and a live audience to talk about guns in America. That's at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
OUTFRONT for us next, armed protester protesters holed up in a government building. They say they're prepared to do whatever it takes to win their demands. We have a report on that coming up next.
And after protesters fire bottom the embassy in Tehran, the Saudis cut ties to Tehran. Could it blow up to an even wider war in the Middle East?
[19:42:06] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, officials in Oregon with a new message tonight to the heavily armed activists who seized a federal building. The message: lay down your weapons and go home. But the protesters say they are prepared to fight if anyone tries to stop them.
This dangerous showdown is taking place in southeastern Oregon, at this National Wildlife Refuge Building. This all started after two ranchers were convicted of settling fire to national land but for the protesters, it now goes far beyond that.
Sara Sidner is live in Oregon.
Sara, what is the status of the standoff at this point?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're standing their ground for lack of a better word, and they're saying that they're going to be here until the federal government hands the land back over to the local people. The federal government hasn't responded but I think a lot of folks know inside there that that likely isn't going to happen.
SIDNER (voice-over): It began as rally in support of two local ranchers. Now, it's standoff that could turn violent.
(on camera): Are you armed?
AMMON BUNDY, PROTESTER: Absolutely. If we as a people, if we're not armed, those trying to take our rights will take them easily.
SIDNER (voice-over): Forty-year-old Ammon Bundy says the federal government is occupying illegally, so he and unknown number of armed protesters have taken over a national wildlife headquarters in Oregon, about 30 miles from the town of Burns.
A Nevada rancher, Bundy is a familiar face when it comes to anti- government groups. In 2014, Ammon's father Cliven Bundy led a confrontation with the Bureau of Land Management which was attempting to confiscate cattle grazing illegally on federal land.
DAVID WARD, HARNEY COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I want to talk directly to the people of the wildlife refuge. You said you were here to help the citizens of Harney County. That help ended when a peaceful protest became an armed occupation.
SIDNER: On Saturday, Bundy and his supporters marched in Burns in solidarity with Dwight and Steven Hammond, a father and son team convicted of arson in 2012 and sent to jail for burning 120 acres of land.
DWIGHT HAMMOND, OREGON RANCHER: I'm going to jail for five years for 127. It seems like a bit of an overkill.
SIDNER: Prosecutors say the Hammonds were hunting deer on federal land and set a fire to cover their tracks. The Hammonds claimed they were just trying to clear invasive brush. Despite serving time and being released, they turned themselves in today after a federal judge ordered them back to jail for five more years.
The three-day standoff is being monitored by Oregon state police, the FBI, even the Republican presidential candidates are weighing in.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every one of us has a constitutional right to protest and speak our minds, but we don't have a constitutional right to threaten force and violence and threaten force and violence on others.
SIDNER: Bundy says the wildlife refuge has claimed the lands of hundreds of ranches since the early 1900s.
[19:45:01] And while they are not promoting violence, the armed protesters are prepared to stay as long as it takes.
(on camera): Do you think this is going to end where people who are here and yourself get what you have been asking for?
JASON PATRICK, PROTESTER: If peace matters, yes.
SIDNER: Otherwise things might get violent?
PATRICK: I don't get to make those decisions. I won't make a violent decision, but oppression, oppressive governments may. They probably shouldn't.
SIDNER: Now, we have been out here all day and there have been people here since Saturday, since this group took over this headquarters. We have seen no police, not the feds, not state, not local. They have not been out to this area, which is a good 30 to 35 miles outside of the closest town, Burns, Oregon.
Whether that will change or not, we have not been told, but certainly you know that the sheriff's department is well aware and so is the FBI -- Kate. BOLDUAN: Absolutely. But still, it's such a question, how is
this going to end and how long is it going to take? Sara, thanks so much.
OUTFRONT next, Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran after their embassy was attacked in Tehran. What does it mean now for the war against ISIS?
And Jeanne Moos on the never-ending battle between hecklers and politicians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here is a Trump supporter worried about Mr. Trump's money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:50:18] BOLDUAN: Right now, tensions boiling over in the most volatile region in the world. The Middle East after Saudi Arabia executed 47 people including a prominent Shiite cleric, that sparking massive protest in the predominantly Shia Iran. Crowds torching the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and today, the two countries have cut off diplomatic ties and the fallout now quickly spreading beyond their borders. At least three other countries are turning their backs on Iran.
OUTFRONT with us now, Republican Congressman Ed Royce. He is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
A very, very touchy, sensitive time and it's boiling over and happening as we speak. I want to get your take, as we look overseas, Mr. Chairman, you're watching this escalating overseas.
What does this mean for the United States? Does this means especially for the United States, the war against ISIS, specifically in Syria?
REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, could you imagine the amount of slaughter that would occur. For sometime now, the government in Iran has tried to overthrow the government of Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and now, you have these tensions. So, if this erupts into a larger war, think of the slaughter that we see. Now, the humanitarian nightmare, the refugee crisis, and imagine how that would make, you could magnify tenfold should this lead to more confrontation.
It's also going to make it much harder in terms of any negotiation over Syria when you have Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia supporting the faction against Assad, Iran supporting Assad to come to any agreement.
BOLDUAN: And it's crunch time right now in trying to reach a peaceful solution in Syria. There is supposed to be another meeting of the minds at the end of this month. I mean, do you even know, what are the chances that meeting is going to even go off?
ROYCE: Well, see, this is the other problem, because now with the governments beginning lineup and Shiite government on one side and Sunni on the other, and one of the problems is we've lost our credibility among our allies in the region. There is no longer the trust that the United States is going to stand up to Iran and there was a day when Iran or in ayatollah was concerned what we thought.
Back when Reagan was president, they gave up our hostages. Now, they took another hostage. They just fired a missile close to one of carriers in the gulf. And on top of all of that, you know, they keep testing and pushing the envelope with these launches of ballistic missiles.
So, the regional players, the Jordanians, the Saudis and others see this and so they are no longer taking our advice. When we say stand down, they don't stand down and likewise, when we tell the Iranians -- I don't know what we tell the Iranians because we seem to placate them. This is a problem.
BOLDUAN: At this point, how concerned are you that this could go from a freezing of diplomatic relations, violent protest to real military conflict?
ROYCE: And the reason I am concerned about that is because we saw the Iranian military move into Yemen and then we saw Saudi Arabia without telling us form a force regional working with Egypt.
BOLDUAN: Do you think it's a real chance here?
ROYCE: They went in to fight it. The same thing in Bahrain where you got Quds forces coming into this theater of operation here and pushing the idea the ayatollah has the answer, coming directly against the Sunni belief system. And because the Iranians have this propensity to try to overthrow regimes and call for the overthrow of regimes, this then heightens the tensions.
BOLDUAN: Seems like it's a scary, scary time and getting even worse as we speak. Mr. Chairman, it's great to see you. Thanks for coming in.
ROYCE: Thank you. Great to be with you.
BOLDUAN: I appreciate it very much.
OUTFRONT for us next, Jeanne Moos on hecklers and politicians going after one another again and again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:57:54] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bye, bye. Bye, bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: That was just moments ago. Donald Trump facing off
with one of several hacklers at his rally tonight but he is far from alone.
Here is Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They can be rude. They can be annoying.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wait, wait, wait.
MOOS: But who the heck can resist hacklers to see how a candidate deals with them. So it was news when Hillary Clinton first tried to ignore --
CLINTON: I'm not going to take your question.
MOOS: -- a Republican state representative insistent on bringing up sex issues prompting Hillary to snap.
CLINTON: You are very rude and I'm not going to ever call on you. Thank you.
MOOS: The same time Bernie Sanders was confronted by a sign- waving guy wearing a Trump shirt.
SANDERS: Here is a Trump supporter worried about Mr. Trump's money.
MOOS: A Sanders supporter retaliated by giving the hackler the two-handed one finger solute.
No one gets more practice with hacklers than Donald Trump himself. He's always saying.
TRUMP: Hello. Hello.
MOOS: To a hackler or waving good-bye.
TRUMP: Bye, bye.
MOOS: At one point, Trump was accused of being too rough on a hackler who got shoved around.
TRUMP: Get him the hell out of here. Will you please?
MOOS: And other times, Trump softened his approach.
TRUMP: You can get him out but don't hurt him.
MOOS: He tends to handle hacklers with shrugs, smiles and head- shaking, once got flak for calling a hackler overweight.
TRUMP: I mentioned food stamps and that guy who's seriously overweight went crazy.
MOOS: Depending on which candidate you heckle, you could get Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.
From Jeb Bush asking a heckler to speak up.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Excuse me?
MOOS: To Chris Christie saying sit down.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sit down and shut up!
MOOS: Bernie Sanders decided to stand down when Black Lives Matter protesters showed up at his podium, refusing to shake Sanders' hand. The candidate backed off as an organizer try to deal.
TRUMP: I promise you that's not going to happen with me.
MOOS: It's hard to out-heckle the heckler in chief.
TRUMP: How can I describe our leaders better than the word stupid?
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
TRUMP: Bye, bye.
MOOS: -- New York.
TRUMP: Bye, bye.
BOLDUAN: Thanks for joining us.
"AC360" starts right now.