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Ohio Republican Leads Race, Democrat Doesn't Concede; Federal Court Hears Cases of Immigrant Children Still Separated from Parents; Elon Musk Wants to Take Tesla Private. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 8, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:31:51] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Too close to call. But, it's not too close for Donald Trump to declare victory and take credit for it. As results trickled in for a marquee congressional special election, the president tweeted out this: "When I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting, 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting. He will win big in November."

Balderson holds a razor-thin lead right now, but Democrat Danny O'Connor in Ohio is not conceding. In fact, the race is so tight that there is a chance it could trigger an automatic recount.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is outside Columbus with more on this big night.

Ryan, what are you hearing there today?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDET: Well, Kate, it could be some time before we know who won this race last night. Right now, Troy Balderson holds on to a 1,700-vote lead. There's about 8,000 provisional and absentee ballots they have to get through. That will take about 10 days before they get through all those ballots. Then at that 10-day mark, that's when they will decide if this race is within a half a percentage point or full percentage point. A half a percentage point means automatic recount. If it is within a percentage point, then Danny O'Connor could ask for a recount that he would pay for.

Regardless, there are still pretty big implications in all of this. Keep in mind, this is just the trial run ahead of the big event in November where they'll be running for a full two-year term.

Danny O'Connor, despite the fact that he's behind right now, doesn't appear to be conceding. Listen to what he has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANNY O'CONNOR, (D), OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I don't think he knows what he's talking about. You can fly in, hang out here for a couple hours, fly out. You don't walk on our roads. You don't have kids that go to our schools. You don't deal with the public health crisis with addiction that we have here in our state every single day. I think it is more important to have grassroots conversations. And Troy Balderson can have all the people he wants fly in from D.C. I don't think it makes too much of a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Of course, O'Connor talking about the president of the United States. And it will be debated for some time just how important the president's influence was here. But of course, he may be taking and claiming victory in this race, Kate, but keep in mind, this is a race that for three decades Republicans have won easily and they spent more than $5 million to the Democrats' $1 million. If they end up winning, it is going to be by a very narrow margin -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Ryan. Thank you so much.

As we watch as the provisional ballots will be counted, let's discuss with Richard Cordray, the Democratic nominee running for governor in Ohio. He faces Republican state attorney general, Mike DeWine, in November.

Thanks so much for coming in.

RICHARD CORDRAY, (D), OHIO GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: How do you view what happened last night? Too close to call means what?

CORDRAY: It means there was a massive swing in this district. The incumbent representative, of course, won it by 36 points two years ago. Donald Trump won it by 11. What we have is a race that's too close to call today. We have about 8,500 ballots yet to count. It shows that there's tremendous enthusiasm for change, tremendous enthusiasm to reject the divisiveness coming out of Washington. That's what we hear across Ohio and in this district in particular.

[11:35:12] BOLDUAN: If it remains as is, if, when the provisional ballots are counted and Balderson wins by a razor-thin margin, an almost-win is not an actual victory in any sport I've ever played. That's been the truth for all of the near-victories we've seen in special elections this cycle. How is this one different?

CORDRAY: What we have is tremendously gerrymandered districts in the state of Ohio. But you can't gerrymander the state as a whole. So what we have here is we have tremendous enthusiasm for change. We have voters who really care, not about the politics and the squabbling and the fighting, but about what can you do that matters most in my life? How can you improve my health care and reduce costs? How can you improve education? How can you spread out economic opportunity around the state? That's what Danny was talking about in this race. That's why there was such a positive response.

BOLDUAN: Positive. But still, if he doesn't win, he doesn't win. Right? Still, you still think this means more -- you still think this means something even if he doesn't end up winning?

CORDRAY: Look, this is a very gerrymandered district. Donald Trump won it by 11. The incumbent representative won it by 36 points. This is a dead-even race at this point so this is a big swing. What we're finding is similar a big swing around Ohio. Why? Because people are rejecting the divisiveness, the scapegoating-types of politics coming from Washington, rejecting the corruption they see in Washington and Columbus. They want something different. They want clean government. They want effective government. They want government that's on their side and fighting the powerful special interests. That's Rich Cordray, not Mike DeWine in this governor's race this year.

BOLDUAN: What does the too-close-to-call outcome last night mean for your chances to win the governor's race in November, do you think?

CORDRAY: Look, it is a big boost. Danny was campaigning, health care was the most important issue he found in his district. We are finding similar things across the state of Ohio. Mike DeWine has fought to take health care away from Ohioans for eight long years. I'll fight to protect the Medicaid expansion, to bring down costs by holding accountable the middlemen in the health care system and bringing down prescription drug prices. These are things people care about. These are peace-of-mind issues for so many families. That's the right focus and that's what people want to know about. Not some political squabble or horse race punditry. They want to know, how are we going to affect and improve their lives.

BOLDUAN: One things folks are talking about is -- it seemed to trip him up, is who he would support for speaker of the House, who Danny O'Connor would support for speaker of the House. O'Connor says that he won't vote for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker, given the opportunity, but also conceded in an interview that he wouldn't -- if it was -- if Pelosi was the only Democratic option for speaker, he wasn't going to stand in her way. Why is Nancy Pelosi so toxic in 2018 mid-term races?

CORDRAY: I don't know much about that and I don't care much about the federal officials. I'm running for governor of Ohio. I'm running to lead this state. People can see our plans and programs at CordrayforOhio.com. And I'm --

(CROSSTALK)

CORDRAY: I'm talking about what we're going to do to stand up for Ohio.

BOLDUAN: I hear you. But you worked in Washington. She put out - I looked at it this morning. She put out a statement supporting you, calling you a patriot when you left your post at CFPB. It is just kind of -- it is just a question. Do you think she would do a good job as speaker again?

CORDRAY: I don't think voters care here, when they're talking about who's going to be the next governor of Ohio, who's in various positions on the chess board in Washington, D.C. That's just not relevant to my race. What's relevant to my race is, how do we improve health care, education and economic opportunity for Ohioans. That's my focus and it will continue to be my focus, not what's happening in Washington, D.C., among insiders there. That's just not relevant to the race for governor.

BOLDUAN: Richard Cordray, we'll follow your race. Thanks so much for coming in. I appreciate it.

CORDRAY: Thank you.

[11:39:11] BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.

Coming up for us, the Trump administration's getting challenged in court again over immigration. What they're being challenged on now? And how it could change who's allowed to enter the United States. That's next.

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BOLDUAN: The ACLU is now suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions over a Trump administration policy to deny asylum claims from victims of domestic violence and victims of gang violence. There's that playing out.

But also this, that we don't lose sight of. This week, the federal court will also hear again the case of hundreds of immigrant children still separated from their parents due to Donald Trump, President Trump's zero-tolerance policy at the border. These children still waiting to be reunified. Hundreds of these parents have already been deported. Something the court has ordered to be fixed. Where does it stand now?

Joining me right now, Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, the lead attorney on this case.

Great to see you, Lee. Thank you for coming in again.

LEE GELERNT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, LEAD ATTORNEY, IMMIGRANTS RIGHTS PROJECT, ACLU: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: What's changed since we spoke last week, since you told us that essentially the government has handed over responsibility to you, to reunite these families?

[11:44:59] GELERNT: We had a hearing on Friday and the court said he's having none of that. It is the government's responsibility. They separated the kids. They sent these parents overseas without their kids. They cannot orphan these kids. It is their responsibility. And he said they need to come up with a plan to find them, but they also need to give us information so that we can help. They have been sitting on phone numbers of these parents for weeks or months.

BOLDUAN: You think they're withholding information even though --

(CROSSTALK)

GELERNT: We finally got the phone numbers. I don't think they would say they are withholding. They'll say they are just getting around to it. From our standpoint, doesn't make any difference. We just got phone numbers. Those phone numbers could have been handed over ages ago.

What the judge said is, I want a point person from the government. I want the ACLU to have a point person with another NGO on the ground, in Central America or somewhere. Let them talk, get this done. It is not that hard. The government should not be dragging their feet. These are little children sitting there without their parents.

BOLDUAN: What are the numbers we are talking about here? Last numbers I saw, it was still 400-plus children whose parents have already been deported.

GELERNT: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: And 100 or so more that are still here, still separated, still in government custody.

GELERNT: That's what we're talking about.

BOLDUAN: So these numbers aren't changing, Lee.

GELERNT: Right. So we need to make progress. I think that's what the judge is saying. Look, this is not that complicated. Basic detective work. Let's get on it. The government should be giving over all information quickly.

We want the government to take some steps. The government could be running PSAs in these countries. The government could be taking whatever steps they can do. We have NGOs working on this. But we can put together all the NGOs we want, but it is never going to equal the resources the government has.

BOLDUAN: Are you getting more or less confident you are going to be able to get these kids back together?

GELERNT: I've always been confident. I'm worried about how slow it is tanking. I just have to remain hopeful that we're going to find these parents and get them back together.

BOLDUAN: I ask this with all seriousness, because deadlines were set and deadlines have passed.

GELERNT: Right.

BOLDUAN: Has the process lost all sense of urgency in terms of the government fixing what this judge says it broke?

GELERNT: I think that's the right question. I've always felt the government has the resources to do this, if they'd prioritize it and keep it as a sense of urgency. I think we were losing some sense of urgency and the judge on Friday said, forget it, this remains an urgent priority, the government better appoint someone to handle this part of it. I think now, hopefully, we'll --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: What do you expect to get this week when you met? GELERNT: We've gotten phone numbers. We're hoping to get a plan from

the government. We're hoping to get more information. For example, there are basics things that we should be able to get. The government knows what language these people spoke. A lot of them spoke indigenous languages particular to regions. Even if that's all we can get. We are hoping these phone numbers work. We're going to start calling all these phone numbers and arrange to meet with these parents, even if it is way up in the hills in Guatemala or wherever it is. We are going to put people on the ground and go see these families and explain their options.

BOLDUAN: What is your gut telling you in how long this is going to take? We're talking about, in terms of people who have been deported, we have 400-plus children with parents who have been deported.

GELERNT: That's a good question. I really don't know. What I am hoping is --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: By the end of the year even? I mean, at this point --

GELERNT: Yes. I do not want to see it drag that long. But what I'm also hoping is we do it on a rolling basis, because we can't just think of them as an aggregate number. Each little kid needs to be reunited. So each day, if we can get some kids reunited, that's a victory.

BOLDUAN: One story of progress. We just talked to Catholic Charities of New York.

GELERNT: Right.

BOLDUAN: They had eight children getting on planes from New York to head to their parents.

GELERNT: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Those are stories we want to tell as well.

GELERNT: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Keep us updated. We'll check in.

GELERNT: I will. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

GELERNT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Breaking news, though, coming in just now, just handed to me. House Speaker Paul Ryan is now weighing in on this morning's indictment. The news of the indictment, a fellow Republican Congressman, Chris Collins. He put out a statement. I will read it to you. "While his guilt or innocence is a question for the courts to settle, the allegations against Congressman Collins demand a prompt and thorough investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Insider trading is a clear violation of the public trust. Until this matter is settled, Congressman Collins will no longer be serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee."

In terms of what the House speaker, the top Republican in the House has power to do, he can strip a committee seat, and that is what he is doing. At least until the matter is settled, according to Paul Ryan. That's the very latest with that.

[11:49:32] And any moment now, the U.S. attorney's office will hold a news conference about this very issue. Chris Collins' arrest, the indictment, the 30-page indictment that they released this morning. We're going to bring this to you live.

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BOLDUAN: A bombshell from businessman, Elon Musk. The Tesla CEO says he wants to take his company private once again and Tesla's board says it's looking at the options. What is going on here?

CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is live from the New York Stock Exchange with more on this.

Christine, what do you make of this?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a fascinating -- he's had a very cranky relationship with Wall Street, the Wall Street analysts for some time. He's got this big, broad vision. When he can't meet some of his production goals for the Model 3, Wall Street tends to be critical of him. And he doesn't like these short sellers. These are investors who come in and sell a stock they don't own and profit from basically not having a vision in the company.

He says in a tweet yesterday, which shocked everyone, he said that he has the funding prepared to take his company private at $420 a share. Valued at something like $70 billion. That would be the largest ever public-to-private conversion. And sort of day two here, the stock down a little bit, but it's getting a lot of attention. We'll talk about that later on "MARKETS NOW," CNN.com/markets now. Also interview the Movie Pass CEO about the changes to their subscriber service and how much money they're losing -- Kate?

[11:55:09] BOLDUAN: A lot more to come.

Christine, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

ROMANS: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Any moment for us, the U.S. attorney's office will be holding a news conference about this morning's arrest of Republican Congressman Chris Collins, arrested for insider trading. We'll bring that to you live.

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