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Judiciary Committee Chairman Says White House Is Acting Like Trump Is A King; Trump Administration Reveals Details Of New Immigration Plan; Interview With Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) On Standoff Between White House And Congress; Furor Over Alabama Bill To Ban Most Abortions; White House: Dems Want A Do-Over On The Mueller Report; Furor Over Alabama Bill To Ban Most Abortions; Key Trump Properties Decline As Brand Loses Luster. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 15, 2019 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. We actually read them. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: King Trump. The House Judiciary chairman says the White House is claiming President Trump is a king as it rejects Democrats' demands for documents and testimony on possible obstruction. He says Democrats are now weighing very large fines for those who defy subpoenas.

Dead on arrival?

As the president gets ready to unveil a new immigration plan, we're learning new details of what is and isn't included. Republican senators are already underwhelmed.

Is it dead on arrival?

Controversial bill: Alabama lawmakers pass what will be the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the nation.

Could it eventually lead to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe versus Wade decision that legalized abortion?

And losing its shine: as reports indicate key Trump properties are in a state of financial decline, has the Trump brand been tarnished by polarizing politics?

Is it losing its shine?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news. BLITZER: Breaking news: the White House has given a big thumbs down to the House Judiciary Committee's request for documents as it probes possible obstruction and abuses by the Trump administration.

The White House counsel cast the Democrats' inquiry as an illegitimate do-over of the Mueller investigation, while committee chairman Jerry Nadler says the White House is claiming President Trump is a king.

He says no one is above the law and warns those who defy subpoenas may face very large fines.

Also breaking: as President Trump gets ready to unveil a new immigration plan, we're learning it does not address the young immigrant DREAMers or family separations. Republican senators got a preview from top Trump advisers, including son-in-law Jared Kushner. Sources say the GOP senators are, quote, "underwhelmed."

I'll speak with Senator Bob Menendez. He's the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. And our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

First, let's go straight to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, congressional Democrats are facing a new round of stonewalling by the Trump administration.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are, Wolf. The White House is rejecting demands from House Democrats in their probe into allegations sparked by the Russia investigation.

The White House counsel is accusing Democrats of seeking a, quote, "do over," after special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The president already has his hands full, by the way, as he plans to unveil a new immigration plan over here at the White House, a plan that some Republicans in Congress are describing as underwhelming.


ACOSTA (voice-over): As the president praised the nation's law enforcement community at the Capitol, his White House counsel all but told House Democrats to get lost in their investigation into whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice in the Russia probe.

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation should be enough, adding, "Congressional investigations are intended to obtain investigation to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized do-over of exhausted law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice."

Nadler fired back to CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: This is the White House claiming that the president is a king. This is the White House saying that the Justice Department says they can't hold the president accountable because you can't indict a president and now they're saying neither can Congress. So the president is totally unaccountable and above the law.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also sounded defiant when asked whether the IRS will ever hand over the president's long-secret tax returns to lawmakers.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: The Democrats are trying to weaponize the IRS and it's a very, very dangerous issue and that's why we are taking this issue very seriously.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Aides to the president say he's eager to cut deals with Congress as Mr. Trump is expected to reveal his new immigration plan on Thursday. The president is set to call for a new merit system for immigrants coming into the U.S., which rewards the wealthier and well educated while building a wall on the border and creating a new process to expedite claims for asylum seekers.

But the plan at the moment does not address the fate of the millions of undocumented people in the U.S., including the young so-called DREAMers in the DACA program as well as the thousands of family separations carried out by the administration.

The proposal is a renewed push for a merit-based system that White House immigration hardliner Stephen Miller promoted nearly two years ago.

ACOSTA: Aren't you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you're telling them you have to speak English?

Can't people learn how to speak English when they get here?


STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISER: Well, first of all, right now, it's a requirement that, to be naturalized, you have to speak English. So the notion that speaking English wouldn't be a part of an immigration system would actually be very ahistorical.

Ten years, 20 years, 30 years from now, we want to have an immigration system that takes care of the people who are coming here and the people who are already living here by having standards.

ACOSTA (voice-over): GOP officials told CNN that Republican senators briefed on the proposal by the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were, quote, "underwhelmed" by the plan. By the White House is anxious to hit the reset button on the issue, even as the president is previewing his plan with heated rhetoric.

TRUMP: To end deadly sanctuary cities, to stop the visa lottery program, where they take lottery systems and a country will put you into a lottery and then deposit you into the United States. I don't think most countries are giving us their finest.


ACOSTA: Now the president is expected to roll out his immigration plan tomorrow here at the White House. Senior administration officials, though, acknowledge this proposal may not really go anywhere at the moment, as it will certainly run into a wall of opposition among Democrats in Congress.

As one White House official put it, the White House is hoping to unite Republicans on immigration, even as some of those GOP lawmakers question the president's approach to the issue.

In the meantime, Wolf, we want to put this tweet on screen. The president is posting a tweet this afternoon to respond to news reports that there are hawks in the administration, pushing for military action against Iran.

The president tweeting just this afternoon there is, quote, "no infighting whatsoever" in his administration. And he says, "I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon."

Wolf, the president may have to go further than that if he's going to ease concerns up on Capitol Hill and in the national security community here in Washington, that there are people inside this administration who are plotting some kind of military action against Iran -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Serious issue indeed. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.

Let's go to our Congressional Correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty.

Sunlen, how far will Jerry Nadler, the committee chairman, go in this fight with the Trump administration?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jerry Nadler, Wolf, has been very clear that he is not backing down, that he intends to fight this every step of the way.

And today on Capitol Hill, this is something he emphasized yet again. Nadler said today that he is now seriously considering using Congress' contempt powers to potentially impose -- and these are his words here -- "very large fines" on people who do not comply with congressional subpoenas.

And he was asked specifically if that would, let's say, apply to people like the attorney general of the United States, Bill Barr, someone who is in defiance of a congressional subpoena, someone who the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold in contempt of Congress last week.

And he could not have been more clear, Wolf. He said it would be for anybody who is held in inherent contempt -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sunlen, the attorney general Bill Barr and the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they had a rather interesting encounter today. Tell our viewers what happened.

SERFATY: Very interesting, indeed, Wolf. Certainly a lighthearted moment in the midst of all of this fierce back and forth up here on Capitol Hill.

The attorney general, Bill Barr, and the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, they happened to be at the same event up here on Capitol Hill for law enforcement officials. And Barr approached Pelosi and he jokingly, according to sources, asked her if she had brought handcuffs to the event.

And the Speaker kind of shot back a joke, saying that the House sergeant of arms was there and, of course, could arrest him if need be. They certainly both laughed it off. Definitely a lighthearted moment. A moment of levity.

But one that certainly underscores this tension right now between House Democrats and the attorney general as well as many multiple administration officials -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly does. Sunlen, thank you.

Joining us now, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. He's the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. And I want to begin with this standoff between the White House and Democrats in Congress. As you heard, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, is threatening very large fines against administration officials who don't obey congressional subpoenas.

How far do you think Congress is willing to go to force compliance with these subpoenas?

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, Wolf, if we're going to observe the constitutional checks and balance as the founders of the nation created and Congress be a co-equal branch of government and having oversight responsibilities, in order to meet its constitutional obligations, it needs answers.

So when you're forced to get to a subpoena, because you haven't gotten answers voluntarily or compliance voluntarily, it speaks volumes in and of itself.

Now if you can't enforce your subpoenas, they're meaningless and so is the power of Congress to conduct oversight. So despite the president keeps talking about this being personal, it's really constitutional.

And I think Congress has to go to the maximum level in order to guarantee its prerogative and its responsibility under the Constitution --


MENENDEZ: -- to conduct oversight and get the facts.

BLITZER: The White House argues that Democrats like you and others just want what they call a do-over on the Mueller report.

How do you respond to that criticism?

MENENDEZ: You know, the Mueller report had limited jurisdiction, right?

It was about Russia and its interference and those who might have been complicit in their interference with our elections in 2016. And then it had the question of whether there was obstruction.

There's far more than that speaks to the issues that Congress has jurisdiction and oversight more than beyond the Mueller report. So simply putting this within the four square elements of the Mueller report in terms of Congress' questions, roles and oversight is absurd.

So this is far more than a Mueller redo. This is actually pursuing a whole host of issues that are critical and important to our national security, to our election security and to the question of what types of influence exist by foreign powers in our government.

BLITZER: Also, Senator, I want to get your thoughts on this new immigration plan the White House is preparing to roll out in the coming days. CNN has learned that the plan supposedly does not address DACA, the program that protects immigrants who were brought into the United States illegally but as very young children, and have grown up here in the United States.

Is that plan, from your perspective, if it doesn't address the DACA recipients, dead on arrival in the Senate?

MENENDEZ: It is. And to be very honest with you, an agreement between Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller is not a compromise. What it is, is a big fat piece of red meat to throw to the base that President Trump seems to have on this issue -- or believes he has on this issue.

But it's not a serious effort. When you cannot even deal with what I call the motherhood and apple pie of the immigration question, which is the DREAMers, the young people who came to this country through no choice of their own, whose only flag they ever pledged allegiance to that is that of the United States, whose only national anthem they know is "The Star-Spangled Banner," the only country they've ever called home is America, you can't deal with them and you can't deal with the TPS question, as a minimum, then you're not serious about immigration reform.

And by the way, what I've seen of this proposal, more through the press results, President Trump would not have gotten to be born in the United States under this proposal because his grandfather, Friedrich Trump, came under our immigration system that allows family reunification.

And it is that family reunification that Friedrich Trump from Germany came to the United States, being claimed by his sister, that then began the Trump family's history in the United States.

So the very essence of what the president availed himself of by becoming born in the United States as a result of that family reunification, he would deny others.

BLITZER: I suspect his father also didn't speak English when he came to the United States. That's another issue.

Let's turn to the escalating tension with Iran right now.

Based on what you've seen so far -- and you're the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- is this aggressive new military posture that we're seeing from the Trump administration necessary?

MENENDEZ: I do not have the intelligence, which is part of the challenge here. That's why I went to the Senate floor today. That's why the Foreign Relations Committee on a hearing on arms control. I raised it at the very beginning of the hearing.

You know, it is alarming to me that I read about a drawdown in our embassy as the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee in Iraq versus being briefed on it. It is alarming to me that the actions being taken here -- I mean, we had our embassy up and running during the height of the war.

We had our embassy running in the aftermath in the war, where there were continuing challenges. It speaks volumes.

The only way you're drawing down and the only reason you're taking these positions is, one, you either have credible evidence and intelligence that there is a threat against our people or, two, you're preparing some type of military action.

In both cases, not coming to Congress and giving them the intelligence, giving us the intelligence and us assessing the voracity of that intelligence, is an enormous challenge and deeply disturbing to me because what I don't want to see is another Iraq weapons of mass destruction moment, which led us to one of the worst decisions we've had in our history.

BLITZER: Well, do you see that unfolding?

And you speak as someone, I think you opposed the Iran nuclear deal to begin with. You were a critic.

MENENDEZ: I was. And there is a way to achieve our goal. Maximum pressure, where you are crippling Iran's economy, is to then create an outlet for a diplomatic surge to get them to the table to negotiate and make sure they will never have a pathway to a nuclear weapon.

So you have the maximum pressure but you've given them no outlet. So if I lock you in a room and I say -- [17:15:00]

MENENDEZ: -- there's no way out for you, you're going to fight like hell to try to get out of that room, so I need to give you an out.

What's that out?

Come with our allies into a negotiation that stops your pathway to nuclear weapons and guarantees us that you won't do that. Then there's relief. But right now, we're not giving the Iranians that option.

So I worry that there is going to be a miscalculation here, either by us or by the Iranians at the end of the day. And that consequence could lead us into a path that I think would be very dangerous.

BLITZER: Yes, it's pretty surprising that you haven't even been briefed on all of these developments yet as, once again, you're the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Menendez, thanks very much for joining us.

MENENDEZ: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, breaking news. House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler says the White House is treating President Trump like a king as the administration stonewalls the latest requests for information by congressional Democrats.

And is Alabama's harsh new anti-abortion bill the first step toward overturning the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion?





BLITZER: We're following a political furor sparked by Alabama's state legislature. Lawmakers just passed what will be the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the nation. Supporters of the abortion -- of abortion rights, they are furious.


LINDA COLEMAN-MADISON (D), ALABAMA STATE SENATE: Now you're in my womb. I want you out. You don't control this. You don't own this.

VIVIAN DAVIS FIGURES (D), ALABAMA STATE SENATE: You know there is no law in this country on the books that says what a man can or cannot do with his body.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: But abortion opponents are passionate as well. They're hoping the new Alabama law will give the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973.



TERRI COLLINS (R), ALABAMA STATE SENATE: We'll never get a heartbeat bill to be constitutional until Roe versus Wade is decided and reversed.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our Supreme Court Reporter, Ariane de Vogue.

Ariane, this is clearly a move by Alabama to launch the abortion fight up to the U.S. Supreme Court and could have potentially ramifications for the entire country.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Right. Here's what Alabama is trying to do.

It passes this incredibly restrictive law, right, punishing the doctors and not an even exception for rape or incest. Other states are doing the same thing in these so-called heartbeat laws. They know that they may eventually lose for now in court.

But they're emboldened. They're emboldened by Trump and they're emboldened by this Supreme Court. So their strategy now is aim high, go for Roe. But they know full well that what will likely happen first is that the lower courts will start looking at less restrictive laws, laws that don't go exactly at Roe v. Wade.

For instance, at the Supreme Court right now, there's about three petitions pending. And those petitions aren't directly challenging Roe. One has to do with an Indiana law that says you have to bury or cremate fetal remains.

Another is a Louisiana law that says that doctors have to have admitting privileges. These are seemingly more innocuous. But critics say that what they're seeing is courts -- and maybe the Supreme Court -- beginning to chip away at abortion rights, before getting to Roe v. Wade.

BLITZER: How quickly could all of this be decided by the Supreme Court?

DE VOGUE: That's what's interesting. Here you have John Roberts, trying to keep the Supreme Court out of the fray. He's sitting on these particular petitions and maybe trying to slow walk even these less-restrictive laws.

But just earlier this week, we had an interesting occasion; there was another opinion that came out, having nothing to do with abortion. But the majority, the conservatives on the court overturned some 40- year-old precedent in this separate case.

Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, he struck out in a dissent and he said, this is a warning. You cannot overturn precedent like this so easily.

And as a part of his argument, he brought up Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which is, of course, the opinion that upheld the core holding of Roe. So people like Breyer, they're sending a warning, don't move too quickly and attack precedent. And they're worried. They're worried.

BLITZER: So could Roe v. Wade be overturned?

DE VOGUE: Right now, Chief Justice John Roberts has no interest, I don't think, in taking up one of these cases, even if it got to him, that go to Roe. But the question is, will these conservatives move to slowly chip away at it with the overturning of Roe or at least really stripping it in the future?

BLITZER: I remember some of these conservative justices during confirmation hearings said that Roe v. Wade was settled law. Let's see if they still hold to that position. Thank you, Ariane, for that analysis.

We have more ahead on the breaking news. A top Democrat warning members of the Trump administration that they could face very large fines if they defy congressional subpoenas. Jerry Nadler complains the White House is acting like the president thinks he's a king.





BLITZER: Our breaking news. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat Jerry Nadler, is warning administration officials they could face very large fines if they defy congressional subpoenas.

Let's ask our political and legal experts about this fight.

Susan Hennessey, he's threatening, Nadler, what's called inherent contempt for noncompliant witnesses.

What does that mean?

What powers does Congress really have to force these individuals to comply?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN ANALYST: So usually wherever we're talking about congressional contempt, we're talking about statutory, either criminal or civil statutory contempt.

[17:30:00] That's where Congress basically has to refer a charge to DOJ and then DOJ has to prosecute it.

Inherent contempt is a constitutional concept but upheld by the Supreme Court. And basically, what the Supreme Court does say is, look, the constitution gives Congress the power to investigate and to legislate.

They need to compel certain testimonies and certain documents in order to do that job. They can't just be dependent on the other branches, and so they do have this inherent authority.

Essentially, they could order the Senate sergeant-at-arms to go out, bring somebody before them, try them for contempt, and then issue a punishment. Theoretically, they could even imprison people, although that hasn't --


HENNESSEY: That is not commonly used. Or they can impose very, very large fines. People talk about, you know, $25,000 a day. That has a way of really, really getting people's attention.

Now, inherent contempt authority has not been used since 1935. It's a very time consuming and controversial procedure. So it will be interesting to see if the Senate really does want to go down that route.

You know, that said, these are unprecedented times. They are being faced with a level of White House obstruction and noncompliance that no prior Congress has seen before, and so we may see them using really quite unusual remedies.

BLITZER: You know, there was an extraordinary moment today, the Attorney General, Bill Barr, he ran into the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.


BLITZER: And he joked, even asking her if she brought her handcuffs. It was --

BORGER: Ha-ha-ha.


BLITZER: I guess he was trying to be funny, but it was still pretty extraordinary.

BORGER: Well, it was extraordinary, and she handled it very well. She said the sergeant-at-arms is here should we need him.

And I think that -- you know, don't forget, this little exchange, which was lighthearted, obviously, came just hours before the White House told the Judiciary Committee in the House that we're not handing over anything to you.

And they decided to continue to say that you have no right to anything you have asked for because you're on a political fishing expedition, essentially. When, in fact, to echo what Susan is saying, what the House is doing, I believe, is exercising its responsibility in congressional oversight of the executive branch.

If there were no oversight of potential criminal activity, either in the -- in any part of the executive branch, what is Congress there for? I mean, it's their job to do this and the White House continues to say, you know what, it was all done in the Mueller report, and you actually have no role here. And that's -- that's kind of ridiculous.

BLITZER: Nia, how far do you think the administration is willing to go to defy Congress right now?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: They seem to be willing to go pretty far in upending these norms that we've seen more broadly in American politics. I mean, this is the style of this White House.

This is the style of the White House to want to fight, to want to have a foil, in particular, a Democratic foil. And the foils here, of course, are Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, the folks who are over these committees and over the House Democrats.

So I think this will continue from this White House, particularly because there isn't -- it isn't clear where this goes. It's not clear how long this fight lasts. It's not clear how you resolve it.

What is the real power of the Democrats to actually compel people? Are they willing to go as far as Susan is talking about here or as Barr joked about this idea, you know, of handcuffs and putting people in jail? I guess there's like a little congressional jail some place on the Hill.

But for now, I mean, this is a White House that likes to have this defiant posture. And also, I think, their -- the voters do too, the Republican voters. This idea that this is a president always under siege, it's a play that he has obviously gone to time and time again and I think will see him continue.

BLITZER: You know, Bianna, the White House argues the Democrats are simply trying to do a do-over on the Mueller report. They say that they're not going to comply with that. But the Congress does have legitimate oversight responsibilities.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And this may be the strategy from the White House as far as -- as long as they can try to keep the President out of the fray. Of course, you can't muzzle the President and restrain him from speaking out.

But when this is coming from the White House Counsel or one of the President's lawyers, it appears to protect the President a bit and take this directly on to a situation where you have an ongoing conversation and debate between the White House, the executive branch, and Congress.

But, you know, the law may be on the Democrats' side. And as we've discussed for many weeks now, this may be just an effort for the Republicans in the White House to kick the can down the road, knowing that when it comes ultimately to the courts, they will side with Democrats.

But remember what Rudy Giuliani ultimately said about how this would end up. This would be judged in the court of public opinion.

And as far as this administration is concerned, the more that they can play up this sort of strategy of the President -- he's continued to be vilified, that this is overreach, they want a do-over of the Mueller report -- this could very well work to the President's favor. At least, that is their strategy.

[17:35:03] As much of a legal bind that Barr's first four-page summary may have put him in, don't underestimate the impact that that had on the American public, which the takeaway was, obviously, no collusion and no obstruction.

So that having been the case, the fact that the President didn't fire Bob Mueller, this could give Republicans a way to say, look at what the Democrats are doing. There's nothing that they will stop at.

BLITZER: All right, ladies, everybody, stand by. There's a lot more we're following, including the political and legal implications of the controversial Alabama bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions.


[17:40:17] BLITZER: We're back with our analysts and our experts.

And, Susan Hennessey, let's talk about this anti-abortion law that was just passed in the legislature in Alabama. It basically outlaws almost all abortion. Is Roe v. Wade, if it ever gets up to the Supreme Court, in serious trouble right now?

HENNESSEY: I actually think the American public probably doesn't understand how close we are to losing the fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy in the -- in this country right now.

Now, whether or not Roe itself would be overturned is not the only question. Roe guarantees the basic right to abortion, but there are other cases -- Casey, Griswold -- that basically dictate that the amount of burden a state can place on a woman accessing that right.

So what happens without those cases is a state could make it functionally impossible for a woman to actually receive an abortion while still making it technically legal. And so those are going to be also significant cases -- you know, significant cases to look for.

You know, just last week, the Supreme Court, in a case that had nothing to do with abortion, overturned a precedent just because the five conservative justices didn't disagree with it.

That flies in the face of a concept called stare decisis where the Supreme Court doesn't change past precedent just willy-nilly, especially whenever it's workable and people have relied on it. A lot of court watchers have commented that if they are willing to

overturn that case, a precedent as old as Roe, there is nothing to stop them from doing the same and overturning Roe v. Wade.

BLITZER: Americans don't want to deal with this right now.


BLITZER: They don't want to change Roe v. Wade. A Fox News poll in February, the question was, what should the Supreme Court do about Roe v. Wade? Fifty-seven percent said let it stand, 21 percent said overturn it.

BORGER: Yes. And, Wolf, only a third of Republicans say overturn Roe v. Wade, so this isn't a popular idea within the Republican Party.

And I think, you know, the question is, of course, it's going to be a part of presidential politics. But I think that if Republicans in the state of Alabama believe that this is going to be helpful to Donald Trump in the long term, I don't -- I don't see it going there.

I mean, you have an American public that says let it stand. You have a Republican Party that says, the overwhelming majority, I don't want to get -- we don't want to get involved in this. So where does this -- where does this end up?

And it gives the Democrats an issue. I mean, the Supreme Court is always an issue. Now, it becomes more of an issue.


BLITZER: Yes. Where -- Bianna, where do you see this heading?

GOLODRYGA: Well, look, it says something when even Pat Robertson said --

BORGER: Right.

GOLODRYGA: -- said that the Alabama bill and Republicans went too far this time with this bill. Look, from everything we know about Chief Justice Roberts, he's an institutionalist.

I agree with Susan. It's not necessarily about banning abortion overall, but it could be chipping away at Roe v. Wade and making it much more difficult for women to have access to abortions, whether it's to hospitals, whether it's to how many weeks an abortion can be performed.

And it could very well not only become a political issue as we know that it already is, leading up to a presidential election, but it also really comes down to a socioeconomic issue. And the women who ultimately would pay the largest price are those who likely cannot afford to go to another state or to find a hospital or a doctor to perform an abortion.

So a lot is on the line here. Nothing will happen overnight, but this clearly will become much more heated as we get closer to 2020.

BLITZER: Nia, on the issue of abortion, President Trump, over the years, he's totally flip-flopped.

HENDERSON: He has flip-flopped. And you saw Republicans during the 2016 election be really skeptical of his conservative leanings on any number of issues, abortion being the most prominent in many ways.

But this was a big day for the Republican Party and conservatives, in general. They have fought for this issue, fought for the overturn of Roe v. Wade for decades, really putting an emphasis on a conservative judiciary.

You saw Donald Trump, as he was a candidate, basically talk to conservatives and say, these are the justices that I would appoint at the Supreme Court with Roe v. Wade being overturned being top of mind for a lot of those Republicans.

So this is a day, I think, you know, that really points to the work that conservatives have done in trying to put this issue before the Supreme Court. And it looks like, at some point, that's going to happen.

BORGER: You know, when you think about, why does Donald Trump have evangelical support?

HENDERSON: This is why.

BORGER: A question that's asked a lot.


BORGER: This is why.

HENDERSON: Yes, this is why.

BORGER: This is exactly why.

HENNESSEY: But look, at the end of the day, they may have won the courts. They have not won the battle for the American public opinion.

BORGER: That's right.

HENNESSEY: The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that abortion should be safe and legal and accessible.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's more news we're following. From Trump Tower to the fairways of one of the most prestigious golf resorts, the President's brand, right now, seems to be taking a significant hit.


BLITZER: While there have long been questions about the true nature of President Trump's wealth and his business record, he's always had a valuable brand. Now, not so much. Brian Todd has been looking into this for us. Brian, what are you


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, there are new fissures being exposed in Donald Trump's empire of properties.

[17:50:00] Two new reports say there are two famous properties near and dear to Trump's heart where profits are down, and there are serious concerns over their futures.


TODD (voice-over): It's one of Donald Trump's favorite brands.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is now the hottest resort of its kind anywhere in the United States.

TODD (voice-over): An example, he says, of his Midas touch.

TRUMP: We've had tremendous success. The bookings are through the roof.

TODD (voice-over): But tonight, it appears profits at the storied Doral golf course in Florida may have fallen through the floor.

Financial records obtained by "The Washington Post" show operating income at the Trump National Doral resort, which Trump bought and restored in 2012, fell by 69 percent from 2015 to 2017 when Trump became president.

And there's reportedly been financial trouble at another property that's also been the President's pride and joy.

TRUMP: It's great to be at Trump Tower.

TODD (voice-over): A new report by Bloomberg says Trump Tower, his crown jewel, now ranks as one of the least desirable luxury properties in Manhattan.

Bloomberg says the occupancy rate at the tower has plummeted in the last seven years, from 99 percent down to 83 percent, twice the average vacancy rate for Manhattan.

Bloomberg also says it used public information to calculate that eight of nine condos sold since Trump became president sold for a loss, although sources close to the Trump Organization dispute that math.

Trump watchers say it's all evidence that the White House may be taking the shine off Trump's gold-covered portfolio.

MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP REVEALED: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY OF AMBITION, EGO, MONEY, AND POWER": Whether it's his golf courses, his resorts, or his showcase building in New York's Fifth Avenue, in each case, we see that there's been an impact where people do not want to do business in a place with -- that carries the name of someone who they vehemently disagree with. TODD (voice-over): The lobby of Trump Tower has been the backdrop for

some of Trump's most controversial political statements on the violence in Charlottesville connected to a White nationalist protest.

TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides.

TODD (voice-over): Or a remark targeting undocumented immigrants from Latin America when he launched his 2016 campaign.

TRUMP: They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.

TODD (voice-over): A comment which the "Post" report implies may well have led wealthy clients from Latin America to steer away from the Doral resort in Miami.

At Trump Tower, the problems could also stem from the realities of being the President's New York home base.

Security fortifications, gawking crowds, and protests can make it a tougher place to live and work, according to the former Trump Organization executive who headed up its construction in 1983.

BARBARA RES, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (via telephone): You've got Secret Service and cops all over the place. It's hard to get to the building, to begin with.

TODD (voice-over): One marketing expert says the President's brand has been hurt because, sometimes, it simply couldn't be distinguished from politics.

RICHARD LEVICK, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, LEVICK: The President has decided not to separate himself from his brand. Although he no longer runs the day-to-day activities, it's very hard to distinguish the two, both from the President's point of view, from the Democratic point of view, and from the general public.

TODD (voice-over): Trump supporters dispute those concerns. They say the President's political success has boosted the visibility of the Trump brand, even more than his brash marketing and his T.V. show ever did.

They say conservative political events and foreign dignitaries flocking to the Trump International Hotel in Washington and to Mar-a- Lago have boosted profits at those properties. And Trump himself says he's not worried if his business empire pays a price for his presidency.

TRUMP: I will tell you and as most of you know, being president has cost me a fortune. And that's O.K. with me.

TODD (voice-over): But his biographers say, in reality, declining revenue at Trump Tower and Doral have to be eating away at Donald Trump.

FISHER: Deep down, he is someone who reacts very poorly to downturns, someone who doesn't like to be told that he's not a winner at every turn.


TODD: Responding to CNN's request for comment, a representative of the Trump Organization said the article on the Doral resort is, quote, absolute garbage. That 2018 was one of the best years in the history of that property.

The President's son, Eric Trump, told "The Washington Post," quote, our iconic properties are the best in the world and our portfolio is unrivaled by anyone -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Brian, in some cases, is it better for the brand to not have Trump's name on a property?

TODD: Apparently, in some cases, Wolf, yes, it is better. The "Post" report points out Trump owns a large share of two office buildings -- one in New York, one in San Francisco -- where the values have shot up since 2017.

They've gone way up. Neither of those buildings bears Trump's name. And some business owners in New York have been stripping his name from their properties.

BLITZER: Very interesting. All right, Brian, thanks for that report. Brian Todd reporting.

Coming up, breaking news, as the Trump administration rejects Democrats' demands for documents and testimony, the House Judiciary Chairman says the White House is acting like President Trump is a king.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. No do-overs. The Trump administration is defying another demand by House investigators as it accuses Democrats of trying to redo the Special Counsel's investigation. Tonight, a top Democrat says the President's team is treating him like a king.

[17:59:57] Underwhelming. The White House just revealed details of the President's new immigration reform plan aimed at unifying congressional Republicans on the divisive issue. But we're told key GOP senators are not impressed.