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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer; Interview With Florida Senator Marco Rubio; Immigration Verdict at Supreme Court; Not Guilty Verdict in Freddie Gray Case. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired June 23, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: They were sitting down to take a stand, so what happened? Where did they go?
THE LEAD starts right now.
Breaking news: After a chaotic 25-hour protest, Democrats end their sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. They did not get the vote they were demanding. Did they get anything at all?
With his campaign seemingly in danger of coming apart at the seams, Donald Trump heads overseas to solidify his foreign policy credentials? No, not really. He's there to open up a golf course. Today, we will ask his former opponent and sparring partner Senator Marco Rubio about Trump and about Rubio's own decision to unquit the Senate.
Plus, a verdict on the most serious charges in the Freddie Gray case, those against the van driver accused of giving Gray that rough ride that killed him.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We will begin with two major developments showing the divisions not only within our world of politics, but in our nation, first at the U.S. Supreme Court today in what may be the biggest blow ever to President Obama's agenda. In a one-sentence deadlock ruling, justices essentially blocked President Obama's executive actions on immigration.
And then at the U.S. Capitol, a block away, in an extraordinary show of defiance, or, depending on your point of view, a possible publicity stunt, after more than 25 hours, House Democrats ended their sit-in on the floor of the House, calling for a vote on gun control legislation.
The protest coming, of course, in the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack that left 49 people dead.
Let's start at the U.S. Capitol with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty.
Sunlen, House Speaker Paul Ryan did not agree to bring up any gun control measure to the floor for a vote. But, still, this push largely by Democrats to try to block those on the terrorist watch list from being able to purchase firearms legally, that will almost certainly be a campaign issue this November.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely will be, Jake.
And Democrats are already bringing up that point, being very vocal about that very issue. They are already promising now to bring this fight into their congressional districts and are already threatening to stage another sit-in on the House floor, but when they return from recess in two weeks.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: For what purpose does the gentleman from Kentucky, Mr. Rogers, seek recognition?
SERFATY (voice-over): Twenty-four hours after seizing control of the House floor, the no bill, no break protest is taking a break.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We must never, ever give up or give in. We must keep the faith. And we must come back here on July the 5th...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.
LEWIS: ... more determined than ever before.
SERFATY: Democrats are ending the sit-in for now, but promising to restart the push for new gun control measures in the wake of the Orlando attack that has brought the debate back to the forefront.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
SERFATY: Vowing to fight on and threatening to restart the sit-in on the floor after a two-week recess.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: We cannot stop until we get a bill, until a law is passed. This isn't about politics. It's not about elections. It's not about campaigns. It's about the safety of the American people.
SERFATY: Meantime, in the Senate, another fight, Republican Senator Susan Collins trying to move forward her bill seen as a bipartisan compromise to prevent those on the no-fly list from buying guns, getting a procedural test vote, which failed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ayes are 46. The nays are 52. The motion is not agreed to.
SERFATY: Predawn today...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House stands adjourned.
SERFATY: The Republican leadership in the House adjourned for recess, looking to draw for a close the act of defiance from Democrats in the House. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan today clearly enraged. RYAN: This is the people's House. This is Congress, the House of
Representatives, oldest democracy in the world. And they are descending it into chaos.
SERFATY: Blasting the Democrats' tactics and questioning their intentions.
RYAN: We watched a publicity stunt, a fund-raising stunt descend an institution that many of us care a great deal about. So, yes, I think it sets a very dangerous precedent.
SERFATY: The sit-in on the floor live-streaming on the social media accounts of members, leading to dramatic and at times contentious moments.
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Suspected and known to be a terrorist, why -- why can you get a gun, a machine gun?
SERFATY: Going throughout the night.
REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: I'm cold and I'm tired and I'm hungry. But these are feelings that I'm so privileged to have, because so many will never feel that again.
SERFATY: With protests outside and inside, lasting into the late morning.
SERFATY: And this afternoon, Senator Susan Collins had some pretty pointed words for House Democrats and their sit-in protest. She said she really does believe that their protest really help set back her efforts to form bipartisan support around her own bill in the Senate, all of this, Jake, really just underscoring how heated and how divisive this issue continues to be up here on the Hill -- Jake.
TAPPER: Sunlen Serfaty on the Hill, thank you.
Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland. He is the House minority whip.
Congressman, thanks so much for being here.
Last night, House Democrats were chanting, no bill, no break. It seemed to suggest that you guys were not going to take the Fourth of July break, you would continue protesting on the floor of the House until you got your vote. What happened?
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MINORITY WHIP: Well, the House left, as you know, notwithstanding the fact that they had two-and-a-half days left to go to do some work. They left.
Now, they will argue we didn't let them do their work. What happened was, we asked for a bill to be put on the floor, two bills, supported by 85 to 95 percent of the American public, and they refused to do so.
And I think we won the issue in what we were doing in this particular instance. And that was focus the public's attention on the unwillingness of the Republican majority to respond to the epidemic of gun violence that occurring across our country and most recently of course in Orlando, but even more recently than that, in individual shootings that we see throughout our country.
So we're going to continue to raise the consciousness of the American public, to raise the focus of the Americans who believe so strongly that we need to pass legislation which will prevent people on a terrorist list from buying guns and will have enhanced background checks.
TAPPER: ... I remember when you were House majority leader. Democrats controlled the White House, the House, the Senate in the first two years of the Obama administration. During that time, there were mass shootings in Binghamton, New York, Huntsville, Alabama, Manchester, Connecticut. Why didn't you act then?
HOYER: Well, the problem was, we couldn't get it through the Senate because the Republicans wouldn't give us 60 votes, which is the same that is happening right now in the United States Senate.
But, of course, the Republicans are in control. But they only needed 40 votes. They had 40 votes. And they stopped us from doing that. The last time, of course, that we did do that was in 1994, as you know, when we passed the assault weapons bill. Unfortunately, that lapsed in 2004. The Republicans were in charge of the Congress. And they let it lapse and would not allow legislation on the floor to continue it, so...
TAPPER: Right, but during the period I'm talking about...
HOYER: I understand what you're saying.
TAPPER: ... there were more Senate Democrats then than there are now.
But let me move on to another question.
HOYER: But there were not 60. That's my point.
TAPPER: House Speaker Paul Ryan held up a fund-raising letter this morning, one that Democrats sent out in response to the sit-in and the Republican refusal to allow a vote on a gun control.
His argument, that this is a political stunt and his proof, you're trying to fund-raise off the issue. What do you say to that?
HOYER: Well, the reality is that both parties try to fund raise from people who support them on the issues. But this, as you just quoted the leader as saying, was not a political
stunt. There is great conviction on this issue, great conviction throughout the country. And the overwhelming majority of American people believe that what we were raising last night is something with which they agree and with which they think the Congress ought to deal and act and make their communities, their schools, their theaters, their restaurants, their neighborhoods safer.
So, this is not about -- it's about politics in a small sense. It's about an issue of great importance to the American people. We want the House to act on it. Clearly, Mr. Ryan, the speaker of the House, who has said he wants to have an open, transparent House dealing with the important issues, when we put an amendment on a bill which said you can't discriminate against LGBT, the majority of Republicans voted against it because it did not allow discrimination.
Now, Paul Ryan can try to divert the attention from his inaction and the majority's unwillingness to put a bill on the floor that has the overwhelming support of the American public, but the public is not going to be diverted, and we're not going to rest.
We're not on the floor, but we're going to be in the neighborhoods, we're going to be in our districts, we're going to be around the country urging people to engage, contact their members of Congress and continue to demand that an issue of critical importance to the safety of our communities be put on the floor and let us vote on it.
TAPPER: Congressman Steny Hoyer, appreciate it. Thank so much, sir.
HOYER: You bet. Thanks.
TAPPER: It's President Obama's most crushing legal defeat, one that wipes out a key piece of his legacy.
The evenly divided Supreme Court tied, thus essentially killing President Obama's ambitious and controversial executive action on immigration, which could have prevented the massive deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., specifically those who have children who were born here.
I want to bring in CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.
Dana Bash, it's not just a court, the lower court that it was kicked back to. It's been a series of court decisions finding that President Obama overstepped his bounds when making this executive action because, in their view, he by -- stepped the legislative branch of Congress.
So, I guess the big question is, is this executive legislation dead forever?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is for as long as President Obama is in office. So, since it is his, the answer is yes. The question now is whether the idea will be revived, and that depends
on what the voters decide to do in November. It's not just about who is president. It's about who the president picks to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court that made it impossible for the eight justices to make a real decision on whether the president's executive order was constitutional.
BASH (voice-over): Raw emotion outside the Supreme Court, as those gathered learned of the 4-4 deadlock that effectively ends President Obama's executive order allowing some five million undocumented immigrants to stay legally.
JUAN-CARLOS RAMOS, IMMIGRANT: At any moment, at any time, I could be deported.
BASH: At the White House, the president made no attempt to hide his disappointment.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have to make a decision about whether we are a people who tolerate an hypocrisy of the system, where the workers who pick our fruit or make our beds never have the chance to get right with the law.
BASH: The GOP House speaker called it a victory for the Constitution.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's a win in our fight to restore the separation of powers. Presidents don't write laws. Congress writes laws.
BASH: The fact that the president tried to use his executive authority to go around the gridlocked Congress to allow some undocumented immigrants to stay legally united Republicans in opposition, even those for immigration reform.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: I agree with the idea of immigration reform. I think it's something we need. I have been very outspoken about it. But it's something that has to be sustainable coming through the House of Representatives.
BASH: All this makes the red-hot 2016 political issue of immigration even hotter. Donald Trump tweeting that: "The court kept us safe from executive amnesty for now, but Hillary Clinton has pledged to expand it, taking jobs from Hispanic and African-American workers."
And Hillary Clinton calling the decision "a stark reminder of the harm Donald Trump would do to our families, our communities, and our country."
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Build that wall. Build that wall.
BASH: Trump rode to victory in the GOP primaries using opposition to illegal immigration to rally his base.
TRUMP: Who is going to pay for the wall?
TRUMP: A hundred percent.
BASH: But now Clinton may get a political boost, thanks to angry Hispanic voters eager to help elect Democrats, especially in key swing states with large Hispanic populations like Florida, Nevada and Colorado.
A national poll last month showed Clinton at 62 and Trump at 23 percent with registered Latin voters nationwide, a political divide that is clearly even more eager now to make wider.
OBAMA: Pretending that we can deport 11 million people or build a wall without spending tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money is abetting what is really just factually incorrect. It's not going to work.
BASH: The other reality this should put front and center for voters again is how much power the next president is going to have in picking who will fill the empty ninth seat on the Supreme Court.
The GOP-led Senate shows no sign of giving President Obama's nominee a vote. And this immigration decision is just one example of the extremely consequential decisions, Jake, that are hanging in the balance until then.
TAPPER: If Hillary Clinton wins, they may rush Garland into the seat because they fear Clinton will appoint somebody more liberal. But I guess that is a big if.
TAPPER: We will see what happens. Dana Bash, thanks.
What's next, if anything, for immigration reform after the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama's executive order? We will ask Senator Marco Rubio coming up next.
[16:18:35] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
More on out politics now. When Florida Senator Marco Rubio ended his presidential bid, he expressed frustration with his Senate job and vowed many times to become a private citizen again. But that has changed and specifically it changed yesterday when Rubio officially announced he changed his mind and will in fact run for a second term.
Senator Marco Rubio joins me now.
Senator, thanks for being here.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Thank you.
TAPPER: We'll get to your decision in a bit. There are breaking news items we want to get your thoughts on.
First of all, the Supreme Court basically saying that President Obama -- the decision was tie and kicked it back to the lower court and blocks President Obama's executive action, which would provide legal status for the parents of -- for illegal undocumented citizens whose kids are here illegally because they were born here.
A lot of them, imagine, live in Florida -- what do you tell them?
RUBIO: So, there are two separate issues at play here. One is, do you believe that we need to do something about the people that are here illegally, who haven't broken the law beyond the immigration laws, have perhaps families living here, have been here a long time, do you believe we should do something about it? And the second question is, what's the right way to do it, both from a constitutional perspective and politically, in terms of getting it done?
Those are two separate questions. The only thing the Supreme Court ruled on today was whether or not the president had a power through executive order to unilaterally do that.
TAPPER: So, you agree with that?
RUBIO: Absolutely. I agree with the Supreme Court.
If the president had unilaterally passed an executive order saying we're going to cut the tax rate for every American to 20 percent -- while I like reducing taxes, but I wouldn't support him doing it through an unconstitutional executive order.
[16:20:06] And that's what the Supreme Court ruled on. That said, I do believe we need action, not just on the immigration problem we have now but the immigration problem that awaits us if we don't begin enforcing our laws and I've outlined for two years now what that should look like, which is a step-by-step approach by proving that illegal immigration is under control and I honestly and truly believe that if you can prove that to people, they are going to be very reasonable about what you'd do with someone who's been here a long time by the circumstances that I'd just outlined.
TAPPER: Your chosen nominee, the person you're voting for -- I guess not your chosen nominee. Your chosen nominee would be you.
TAPPER: But Donald Trump, who you say you're going to vote for, even though you have concerns about him, he wants -- he's going to build a wall. I mean, if he goes through with everything that he says he's going to do and he wins, he's going to build a wall, he's going to deport 11 million to 12 million undocumented citizens, including I'm sure hundreds of thousand who live in Florida. What process does your immigration proposal, even if it's step by step, have in the Trump presidency? RUBIO: Well, I think as part of a comprehensive way of approaching
border security, walls in key sectors of the border is a part of the answer. And so, that in and itself is not problematic.
I don't think rounding up and deporting 11 million people is a reasonable proposal. He can have it as his proposal, but I think when he's elected president and he sits down and sees what it would cost and what it would take, my guess is, that he's probably going to try to find an alternative to that proposal because it doesn't work. And I don't think Americans -- and I don't think Americans would require what it would require.
But people will be deported. There will be criminals deported. People who haven't been here long enough. The law needs to be enforced and Americans need to believe it, but you're not going to round up and deport 11 million people and even he has said that once they are deported, we're going to allow the good ones back in. Again, I don't think that's a workable plan but in that is embedded the recognition that you're going to have to do something with people who have been here for a long time and have not otherwise violated the law but it can't be done until you enforce our immigration laws first.
TAPPER: Big debate on the Hill right now about guns and specifically this push to block from being able to purchase guns anyone on the terrorist watch list or on the no-fly list. Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, has a bill, she says it's a bipartisan bill. You voted against it. It would block sales to those people while also having an appeals process. If you feel like you're on that list unfairly, you could appeal it. And it would alert the FBI if somebody who had been on one of those lists recently purchases a firearm.
Why would you block it? Why would you vote against that?
RUBIO: First of all, I think there are many good elements of that that I thought were very good and I think she worked very hard and did the best she could. But she was actually trying to pass something. So, she had to give in on some things in order to get Democrat votes.
I voted for a second proposal by Senator Johnson that encapsulated a lot of what she offered, but improved on the things I want to see improved on. The due process part is important. For example, it costs today between $10,000 or $15,000 potentially to go to a court of appeals. If you erroneously wind up on a no-fly list or selectee list, unless you can come up with $10,000 or $15,000 to hire a lawyer, even if you get your fees back upfront, it's going to be hard and intimidating to go to a federal court.
TAPPER: A Collins bill would refund that money if you win your case.
RUBIO: Yes. But a lot of lawyers are going to be paid in front, number one. And number two, interacting with a federal court system is a pretty intimidating process. And some of the evidence that was going to be offered against you, if it's classified, you wouldn't be able to see it, what it is that you were using against you.
So, what we're dealing with here, here's what I support -- I want to support something that would have prevented something that happened in Orlando and the way to prevent that, I believe, is to have, number one, a better way of not just investigating people but keeping them on those lists, a way that notifies law enforcement when that has happened, making it harder for people to obtain a gun.
But let me be honest with you, if that killer had not been able to get the guns from that store but he was determined to carry out a jihadist attack, he would have bought a gun from the black market or he would have built himself a bomb like the one you saw in Boston.
TAPPER: We don't know that. We know that he was able to very easily buy a gun and he used it against 49 of your fellow Floridians.
RUBIO: I know. But in Europe, it's very difficult to buy a gun and those killers were able to get them there as well.
My point is, a determined criminal or a determined terrorist will be able to get their hands on weapons. That doesn't mean we shouldn't make it harder for them to do it. The key is the notification provision, because what could have happened here, there was a look- back --
RUBIO: -- which the Johnson proposal had.
TAPPER: And the Collins.
RUBIO: Suddenly, you have a guy you were looking out for terrorism, you get this alert that he just bought two guns within three days, and that might have changed the way the FBI approached it. And under the law, I voted for it, we would have been able to arrest him for that.
TAPPER: All right. I have more to ask about this. We have to take a quick break and pay some bills. Stick around.
We'll be right back and also to talk about what changed the senator's mind and now, he's running for re-election.
Stay with us.
[16:29:04] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Senator Marco Rubio has not run away from the set. He's still here and he is running for re-election in Florida. That's also a key battleground state in the upcoming presidential election.
Let me -- let me ask you, because you do have this -- you a tough race, because there's a lot of people lining up to run against you. Still some in the Republican primary and also the Democrats.
So you said the Orlando terrorist attack spurred you into changing your mind about running for re-election. Now, Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy who is running for the
nomination to run against you, he says that you are, quote, "using this horrific mass shooting to justify your own political ambition".
RUBIO: That's not accurate because I never said that the Orlando shooting changed my mind. I was asked a question about it, and I said it impacted me personally and it makes you personally examine what we want to do with our lives, a lot of different reasons. You know, you see young lives cut short, there's a lot -- it has nothing to do with the politics. And I said during the interview, I haven't viewed it through a political calculation.
Obviously, you live in a hyper-partisan environment. They're going to jump on anything and try to use it for that perspective. This decision was much deeper than that. Ten, 15 days ago, I would have told you it's impossible. We changed our minds and I say we because this decision was made by me and by my wife, with consultation with my children.