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Hours Majority Leader Eric Cantor Defeated in Primary; Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Testify Before Congress; Chaos in Iraq as Militant Group Takes Mosul; The Danger of ISIS
Aired June 11, 2014 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eric Cantor might have had $5 million in the bank, and his opponent had $300,000, if that.
But it doesn't matter when somebody like Eric Cantor, who is a Republican leader, is targeted by a grass roots effort to get rid of him, not just because he's conservative, but because he's Washington, because he's establishment. And he embodied from many of their perspectives sort of the arrogance of power. That I think, that has a lot to do with it.
And along those lines, Chris, he didn't tend to the district. He didn't --they were absolutely convinced -- and I can tell you in talking to people inside Cantor world, yesterday as the polls were open and heading towards closing, they felt good. So they didn't see this coming because they were not as in touch as they should have been.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Dana Bash, dollars don't vote? Money doesn't buy enthusiasm? I thought you covered politics. What is this crazy talk we're hearing?
BASH: I covered the Tea Party world now. I've seen it. You've seen it. We've all seen it, right?
CUOMO: I have to tell you, that's the good news. The good news is money doesn't have to dominate. So the question becomes, well, how did it happen? If money wasn't enough, which is good news no matter what your political stripe, this idea of the establishment strikes back, you know, what has dominated primaries so far, even though this was really low turnout, like 12 percent, so it means an extreme can carry because it's super motivated voters, what is this sign in terms of what the Tea Party means for Republicans?
BASH: Look, the story line, the establishment strikes back, has definitely taken a hit, a big hit. The first time that we can find in history a House majority leader has been toppled in general, but especially by his own party. It's -- that's why everybody is completely stunned.
But the answer is that I think that we need to be a little bit careful to take too much out of the lesson of this being that the Tea Party is really galvanized across the country and in a way they can beat the incumbent. This is a situation where Eric Cantor didn't follow the lesson of Mitch McConnell, of John Boehner, of John Kornyn, and I'm talking about other Republican leaders in Congress right now who also has primary challengers, who worked really hard back in their districts, back in their states, to make sure it didn't happen.
But here's one thing I can tell you just in covering House Republicans and knowing their DNA is that even if they are convinced that when it comes to raw numbers this can't happen to them or this won't happen to them because this is maybe an anomaly, good luck with that, because they're nervous nellies and they're going to be very worried, many of them, that if it's going to happen to their leader, this can happen to them. And what lesson are they likely to take? I'm not going to compromise. We're not even going to put ourselves out there, which is actually pretty sad.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The nervous nellies, that can be contagious as many people are waking up this morning and thinking, what the heck happened? Dana Bash, thank you.
John King, I'm going to bring you in, CNN chief national correspondent, Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH" and host of "The Michael Smerconish Program" on SyriusXM. So John King, first to you. We watched you last night. The news started to trickle in. It was sort of like shocked face. Is this really happening? You've had a night to sleep on this. You marinated on this. What happened?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I didn't sleep all that much, Brooke. What happens was, and I think Dana makes a great point, this will be over exaggerated. Remember when Bill de Blasio won the New York City mayor's race, everyone said liberalism is back. That faded after a week or two.
So will we and will they exaggerate the impact of this? Of course we will. But because the House Republican family is so stunned here, this is going to have a huge impact. If you look at the vote totals, Dave Brat, the winner, got viewer votes than Eric Cantor got in his primary two years ago. This is Eric Cantor's fault. He was in Washington on Election Day, not back in his district.
After the Virginia Republican Convention last weekend, there was such a sort of a mood against him there that several establishment figures reached out to him and said, hey, there might be some poison in the water. Do you need our help? He said, no, I got this. I'm OK. So his confidence, his smugness, his arrogance cost him his seat.
That does not mean the House Republican leadership won't over react. And compromise, forget about it, off the table at least now through the election. And the biggest question now is will Eric Cantor try to keep his job as majority leader through the end of the year or will he step down from that job, will he be pushed from that job by the conservative activists in the Party before the year is out. Set compromise aside now through the Election Day and be sure of this -- Tea Party organizations had little or nothing to do with what happened last night. This was an insurgent campaign in a district, nobody saw this coming. But now they are going to look to other opportunities, you can count on it. There's one in Mississippi a week from Tuesday. BALDWIN: Smugness, confidence, Michael Smerconish, you're hearing all
of this from John King. Also as we wake up we think about the role of immigration, the way this challenger criticized Cantor when it came to his stance on immigration, criticizing him and his relationship with the president, maybe possibly offering amnesty to young immigrant children. How much of a role do you think that played, and also voter turnout or lack thereof in the establishment camp?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": Brooke, my headline this morning would be "Passion wins Primaries." It's only 12 percent of the electorate came out in a vote like this. It's the same reason a couple of cycles ago Mike Castle, who I think had exponentially better credentials than Christine O'Donnell nevertheless lost in a Delaware primary to that opponent.
Who are these people? These are folks who come out subsisting on a diet of FOX News, "The Drudge Report," and talk radio. They don't represent the electorate at large, but they're passionate about their candidates and they won that election yesterday. Many will say, well, it's because of immigration. Because of that perception, I think any chance of immigration reform is dead. But I wouldn't say it's a result only or primarily of Cantor's stance with regard to immigration.
BALDWIN: Let me just ask you since you brought up conservative talk radio, Michael, just to stay with you. You've written a book on this. We've heard about the role of the Laura Ingrahams and of that ilk really sort of playing a role in this process for this particular candidate here. How much of a role really did that play, do you think?
SMERCONISH: I think it plays a significant role because I think it drives the electorate to come out, let's face it, in a low-interest campaign like this. How low interest was it? It was so low interest that Eric Cantor was at a Starbucks fundraiser on Capitol Hill yesterday instead of being in his own district. So he was completely caught by surprise.
But that's what drives this constituency. They have too much power, I think, in Republican primaries for the good of the party because they can win primaries but often lose general elections. I think the GOP needs to figure out a way to expand its tent in primary season mainly by opening the primary process. But they're not yet ready to do that.
BALDWIN: John King, as far as conservatives goes, this was a pretty conservative district, seventh congressional district in Virginia. Eric Cantor by no means a moderate. You have Republicans waking up this morning, Dana Bash says there are a lot of nervous nellies. Do you agree with that? How should the Republicans in Congress meet this news?
KING: Well, Brooke, it's hard to lead when every time you take one step, let's say we're going to negotiate another debt ceiling deal with the president, do we even want to think about bringing a modest border security bill, or the dreamers, the young children of illegal immigrants, are we going to bring that bill to the floor? If you take one step and then you're constantly looking over your shoulders, am I OK, is there a sinkhole in front of me, a trapdoor in front of me, how deep in the quicksand am I, it's impossible to lead. You have to have confidence to lead, especially on the difficult issues. You have to have confidence that if you point to a North Star and tell people this is where we're going, it's going to be bumpy along the way but it's important, that people follow you.
The House Republican leadership will have no such confidence even if the polling supports them because the polling supported Eric Cantor. And they're going to have to deal with this internal family feud, internal leadership struggle, the future of John Boehner, the future of these issues, and that is going to consume them at least through the election.
And the Democrats are celebrating this. They're saying this is proof that the extreme has taken over the Republican Party. I would say this, if they can't get to immigration reform this year and they're still afraid to do it next year, Hillary Clinton may be a big winner here because if the Republicans don't deal with their demographic problem, if they put -- keep putting that off, the Democrats are stronger at the presidential level in national elections. Barack Obama is not the big winner here. They might be celebrating today at the White House today, but what is the prognosis of getting anything done over the next year or so of his presidency if the Republicans are in a circular pattern?
BALDWIN: John King, do us a favor. Don't go too far because you're going to have a whole discussion coming up here in a little bit here on INSIDE POLITICS on NEW DAY. Michael Smerconish, thank you so much for chiming in. We really appreciate it. Big, big news in Washington.
CUOMO: One of the reasons that we care so much about what happens in politics is because we need to figure out how to stop the violence in our society. And another school shooting has people all over the country asking if this time is finally enough. The latest incident came at Reynolds high school near Portland, Oregon. The gunman believed to be a student. He killed a 14-year-old freshman, wounded a teacher before taking his own life. A clearly fed-up President Obama is promising to do something to finally stop the violence, but what? Are we a law away from being safer? Sara Sidner has more from Oregon. Certainly, Sara, they're asking all the hard questions out there this morning.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. These families are also trying to surround and help the one family that will not have their student ever come home to them alive, and that is the family of Emilio Hoffman. He was a 14-year-old freshman. He was inside the gymnasium that you see just there over my right shoulder when this shooting went down. He was killed in a locker room. We're told by police that the gunman had a rifle. They have not yet given out his name, but that he was then found dead, the gunman himself, found dead in a bathroom inside the gym.
This was a terrifying day for the students who had to listen to those shots. It was just before they actually started the early morning classes. They all hunkered down in their classrooms. They had to lock the doors, turn out the lights, and wait until it was safe enough to get out. Room by room they ended up filing out of the school with their hands on their heads. We've seen those pictures so many times before, too many times before. The parents and families here are reeling. They can't believe it happened to their school and that they are dealing now with yet another school shooting. Chris?
BALDWIN: I'll take it from here. Thank you so much, Troutdale, Oregon, for us this morning.
Also Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel can expect a grilling today on Capitol Hill as he testifies before the House armed services committee in the very first public hearing on Bowe Bergdahl. A lot of lawmakers up in arms as you well know over that decision to swap those five captured Taliban fighters, those Gitmo detainees, to bring Bergdahl home. And this morning new questions about a deal to track the man once they're set free. CNN's Jim Acosta is live for us at the White House. Jim, good morning.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brooke. You said it very well there, expect some tough questions for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel when he appears before the House armed services committee later this morning, and don't expect all the questions to just be about whether or not it was a good trade to exchange five Taliban prisoners to free Bowe Bergdahl. Members of Congress from both parties are furious that lawmakers were not informed about this deal in advance of it despite the fact, and this is another reason why Congress is frustrated, they say that some 80 to 90 members of the administration, the White House here, knew about this deal before it took place while Congress was kept in the dark. Incoming White House press secretary Josh Earnest said it was actually a smaller number than that but he wouldn't specify exactly how many.
One of the other questions that will be asked of Chagel Hater on this morning is about the shifting explanations that the administration has offered as to why there was an urgency to free Bowe Bergdahl. First it was because they said his health was certainly at risk when you looked at the last proof of live video of Bowe Bergdahl, and then the administration went on the tell lawmakers if the details of that deal had become public he might have been killed. So a lot of questions to be asked of Chuck Hagel later on this morning before he appears before the House armed services committee. It will be a grilling.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: I think that's the best word to use, we are expecting a grilling. We will be watching it and bring it to you here on CNN. Jims Acosta, thanks so much.
Let's give you a look at your other headlines right now. Shelly Sterling heading to court today. She's seeking to expedite a hearing to resolve the ongoing dispute with her estranged husband Donald Sterling for the sale of Los Angeles Clippers. After agreeing to the $2 billion deal Shelly brokered with Steve Ballmer, the former head of Microsoft, to buy the team, Donald Sterling is striking back and saying no way, I'm fighting it. He's also going to continue his suit against the NBA, calling league officials "hypocrites and bullies" for trying to force him out over his racist comments. Prosecutors now say the gunman in the deadly college shooting in
Seattle purposely stopped taking medications. And 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra is accused of killing one student and injuring two others in a hate-filled rampage designed to murder as many people as possible. Ybarra is charged now with first degree murder, attempted murder, and assault. He could face life in prison if convicted.
Take a look at this. What is missing from this house? Yes, ground. Ground is missing from under that house. This is Lake Whitney, Texas, the edge of the 4,000 square foot home. Exactly, yikes, indeed. It's dangling above the shoreline. The rest of that cliff could give way soon. Officials say a crack in the cliff was noticed about a year ago. The owners were advised to evacuate two weeks ago. There is concern over what is going to happen if the rest of that cliff is going to give way. My goodness.
All right, let's get to meteorologist Indra Petersons, Wednesday, not quite Friday but midway through the week. I'm a big fan of Friday. You've been looking at some thunderstorms.
INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You're a big fan of Friday. That's weird, Michaela. Why is that?
PEREIRA: I don't know.
PETERSONS: I like sunshine, but if I can't have sunshine I do love a good thunderstorm. Look how beautiful it is. This is Macon, Georgia, from yesterday. Look at this lightning storm. It is a good thing I like thunder and lightning. Hopefully all of you do as well because we are going to be seeing a lot more of it. This trend is continuing, in fact, already this morning still seeing the thunderstorms out there.
But even a threat today, especially towards D.C., Pittsburgh, heads up. We have a threat for severe weather. Not always fun. There's danger out there as well. As you go through the late after and evening hours, you have the threat even for tornado, guys. So heads up, tornado alley as well looking for that threat today. Biggest thing to look at is a lot of humidity and scattered showers. Still talking about all these storms behind the warm front. A lot of scattered showers today. It's not the only system. We're still going to be talking about it even by tomorrow. Tomorrow the severe weather threat, though, does switch to come back around Texas. But notice two rounds of cold fronts still have to make their way through. So with that we're talking about rain all the way through Friday.
Speaking of Friday, don't worry. By Friday, finally we're going to see this big huge shift in the weather pattern. Instead of seeing all this rain up until that point, instead of the low, we're going to see high pressure build in. That's all you guys all care about because what does it mean? Sunshine comes back in the forecast and that is the key. It stays warm but it stays dry. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, repeat of last weekend, which by the way was money. It's good.
PEREIRA: I loved that picture out of Macon, Georgia, though. That was wild. Beautiful.
PETERSONS; Anything to do with Georgia, is that why?
PEREIRA: No, I like a good photograph here and there.
BALDWIN: Indra, thank you so much.
CUOMO: It's only pretty though if you're not there. You don't want to be underneath all that.
BALDWIN: I love sitting and watching a beautiful lightning storm.
BALDWIN: You missed the point. It's beautiful.
PETERSONS: Especially in the summertime, the smell.
CUOMO: I missed the point? You missed the point. There's lightning coming out of the sky.
PETERSONS: We agree, two against -- Michaela make it three, we win.
PEREIRA: I'm going with Switzerland on this one.
CUOMO: Respect that. Thank you very much.
PETERSONS: Two against one and one.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, moving along on NEW DAY, chaos in Iraq. We have to talk about this because one major city has been taken over by militants. Other cities are at risk. We'll show you the map and ask the question: is the violence headed for Baghdad? Ad who is this militant group in the first place?
CUOMO: And you know this is exactly the concern people have about when the U.S. pulls out. We're watching the Taliban guys we traded for with Bowe Bergdahl. Well, are we watching them or not? We're going to talk to a Congressman who has seen the plan and he isn't pleased. Could we really just let these guys go?
BALDWIN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Chaos in Iraq as this militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, takes aim at major cities. Now it's already taken control of Mosul. This is Iraq's second largest city. Grabbing U.S. provided weapons as Iraq's military is retreating. Does it have sights on Baghdad?
Let me bring in Bobby Ghosh; he is "Time" magazine's world editor. And you write a lot about this part of the world. So help us make sense of this situation. So, as we look, and as we broaden this discussion out to the map, first when we talk specifically about Mosul. As we said, second biggest city in Iraq.
BOBBY GHOSH, WORLD EDITOR, "TIME": 2 million people. BALDWIN: 2 million people.
GHOSH: Lots of history.
BALDWIN: Historic. Rich in history.
GHOSH: Lots of history. It is site of what used to be the biblical city of Nineveh. It's on the banks of the Tigris. It has a large military insulation, so ISIS has not only taken a city; they've taken control of a lot of military hardware. The reports of Iraqi units that were holding the city essentially took off their uniforms and left. So they've gotten their hands on some major banks. Some reports say that they've taken as much as $500 million worth of cash out of those banks. They've gotten their hands on serious military hardware, possibly even helicopters. We don't know if they know how to use them, but they have taken this. But, most importantly, symbolically this is a big, big statement from this group.
BALDWIN: Mosul specifically.
GHOSH: Mosul specifically and now they've move to Baiji.
BALDWIN: Baiji, which we can see on the map here. You see the -- blacked out is Baghdad. You have Baiji, the oil refinery in Baiji.
GHOSH: The biggest oil refinery in Iraq. Used to be the site of a major American military base. Because it's a big oil refinery, again, lots of strong military presence there. And the military, again, it would appear didn't put up much of a fight, which means this group, ISIS, has not only taken the -- likely taken the refinally and they've have shown they know what to do with the oil, they know how to sell oil in the black-market -- but they've gotten their hands on a lot of American, possibly American military hardware because when the American forces left, they gave a lot of that hardware to the Iraqis.
BALDWIN: Which is frightening with a vacuum (ph) and we'll get to that, and of course the leader of ISIS, specifically. But, again, back to the map, because as we see the different dots -- in a minute you will see all the different green dots popping up around different parts of Iraq, meaning that this could be their flubs elsewhere in the region. How pervasive are they, A, and, B, where are they getting the money?
GHOSH: Well, they're huge in Syria and now in large chunks of Iraq, which means they now control a country, really, a territory the size of the country and the city of 2 million people in Mosul. They're getting their money -- a lot of it is just like in Mosul. When they take a territory, they steal the money, they loot it. But they've also gotten support from elsewhere in the Arab world, from the kind of people who previously used to send their money to al Qaeda. These guys are now getting that money because they're successful.
We know nothing succeeds, even in terrorism, like success. So people who had previously been sending their money to Pakistan, to Somalia, to Nigeria even, they're seeing, all right, this is a guy, this is a group, that is taking all of this territory. Let's get behind them. And that's how they're getting a lot of money.
BALDWIN: Let's talk about this guy. Because a lot of people may not be familiar, A, talking about ISIS; B, the leader of this group. We have his picture for you, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. You, Bobby Ghosh, call him the superstar of the terrorist world. More influential, you said, than bin Laden?
GHOSH: Well, he is the most successful terrorist in modern times.
BALDWIN: How do you mean?
GHOSH: I mean, look at the size of the country that he holds. Look at the cities that he's holding. Bin Laden, you know, was a sort of very important figure in the history of terrorism obviously, but he was content in making mayhem. He didn't want to control a city. He didn't want to rule. This guy, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, he's also known as Abu Duwa (ph), you hear that name a lot -- he wants to control territory. He's not thinking about the after life. He wants to create what in his twisted mind is the perfect Islamic state in this world now.
BALDWIN: And the U.S. is gone. Vacuum created. He has swooped in. And we see the influence here, ISIS, specifically ISIS. Go Bobby Ghosh, thank you so much, from "Time" magazine. I really appreciate it.
Chris, over to you.
CUOMO: Well, that was very frightening but very insightful as well. Thank you for that conversation.
Coming up on NEW DAY, we were promise those five Taliban prisoners we traded for Bowe Bergdahl, we were promised they would be tracked. But is that promise all it's cracked up to be ? A Congressman who has seen the deal joins us live.
We also have more on this stunning, shocking, unbelievable, anyway you want to put it, upset in Virginia that nobody really saw coming. You're going to want to check out "Inside Politics" today as they take apart this big Cantor defeat. Stay with us.
PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Here's a look at your head likes at half past the hour.
New details this morning about one of the worst cases of friendly fire to hit American troops in Afghanistan. Four of victims have now been identified from when a coalition jet accidentally bombed five service members fighting a Taliban ambush. Here they are. These young men were from Washington state, Illinois, Ohio, and California. Their ages ranged between 19 and 25.
Another deadly school shooting, this time in Oregon. 14-year-old freshman Emilio Hoffman was killed in a locker room at Reynolds High School just outside Portland. A teacher was also wounded before the gunman took his own life. President Obama responded with a call for action, saying no other developed nation puts up with this type of gun violence.
Due in court today, the truck driver accused of causing that deadly crash that injured -- seriously injured actor Tracy Morgan. Kevin Roper was behind the wheel when his truck slammed into the limo bus that Morgan and others were riding in on Saturday. It killed Jimmy Mac, this comedian, James McNair; critically injured three other people. Court documents show Roper had not slept for more than 24 hours at the time of the crash. Morgan right now is listed in critical condition and he may very well remain in the hospital for weeks.
That's an update of your headlines. Chris and Brooke?
CUOMO: Thank you very much, Michaela.
Politics dominant this morning, but it's more than just politics. It's about what's going to happen with immigration policy, what's this mean for a new set of elections.
BALDWIN: Everything, Republican, Presidential elections.
CUOMO: It's really more outside than inside, so let's get to "Inside Politics" on NEW DAY with John King. This was big. Not even you saw it, John. That's how big it is.
KING: No one saw this one coming. I was at home with the 3-year-old because I didn't see this coming; I wasn't working late last night. But then called in to duty, if you will.
Good morning to you guys and let's keep going on this fascinating political story. 65,000 votes in one Virginia congressional district last night have changed American politics, and let's get a sense of just how deeply they have.