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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Report: ISIS Claims Responsibility For Attack; At Least 13 Hostages Rescued, Six Attackers Killed; Twenty Hostages Dead In Dhaka Cafe Attack; Trump On Lynch Meeting: Couldn't Believe It; Toxic Algae Prompts Florida State Of Emergency; Details of Bangladesh Terror Attack; Trump VP Options; GOP Convention Preview; Tesla Self-Driving Car Fatal Accident; More Rio Troubles Ahead of Olympics. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired July 2, 2016 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- for these Olympic games, and ask the Brazilians and they will tell you that none of them have materialized and that in fact, the various different layers of governance here are just using the Olympic Games for their own political gain at this stage.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Arwa Damon, thank you so much for bringing so much of it to light for us this morning. Appreciate it. And the next hour of your NEW DAY starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: We heard three really loud gunshots.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: People were saying there was an attack on the restaurant.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: This neighborhood is one of the most if not the most secure neighborhood in Dhaka.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: There was a huge bomb blast which we heard.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: It's a very posh neighborhood. Everyone is stunned that something like this could happen here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Always grateful to have your company with us on a Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell. We are beginning with the breaking news, an hour's long hostage standoff in the capital of Bangladesh. It's now ended with a police raid overnight.
In the aftermath, the commandos found the bodies of 20 hostages, all of them apparently hacked to death. This began when a gunman seized the cafe popular with westerners in the diplomatic zone of Dhaka. This site is just about a mile are from the U.S. Embassy. PAUL: And listen to the numbers, they are preliminary, but here is what we are hearing this morning, an Army official says at least 13 hostages were rescued after police stormed the restaurant to end that siege. Six attackers were killed in the operation.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the terror attack, and if true, it would make it the second deadliest attack of terror this week attributed to ISIS.
BLACKWELL: And let's go to Turkey, investigators there are getting new information about the terrorists behind the attack at the Istanbul airport. U.S. officials tell CNN Akhmed Chatayev, an ISIS lieutenant from Chechnya is likely behind the plot.
But first let's get the latest on the terror attack in Bangladesh. CNN international correspondent, Sumnima Udas, joining us now. Sumnima, good morning.
SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Victor and Christie. Twenty civilians dead, all of them foreigners. We don't know the nationalities of most of them, but we just heard from the minister here in India that at least one of them is an Indian national, a 19-year-old student from Berkley University.
As you just mentioned, also 13 hostages rescued, three of them foreigners, one of them a Japanese national and two of them are Sri Lankan. Now not much is really known as to how all of this unfolded.
Of course, this is a 12-hour long siege. The only people who have really been talking about how this happened and what they saw, the witnesses there, a cafe worker who managed to escape pretty much as the gunmen stormed in.
He said that as the gunmen came in, they had guns. They were shooting in the air, but they weren't shooting at anyone or hitting anyone. They just really wanted to instill fear in the restaurant. That is when the clients there ended up hiding underneath tables and chairs. Here is what the cafe worker has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHUMON REZA, CAFE EMPLOYEE (through translator): When we got out, we were on the roof. When they threw the bombs, the whole building was shaking. More than 10 or 12 bombs and they kept throwing and throwing and felt like they were progressing forward. So when we thought they were progressing forward, we thought that it was not safe anymore, we jumped from the roof.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UDAS: It just gives you a sense of how fully armed and vicious those attackers were. They not only had guns and explosives. They had AK- 22s, low-caliber rifles. Also according to the cafe worker, they were young and they were shouting (inaudible) or God is great in Arabic.
BLACKWELL: All right, Sumnima, let me ask you about this claim of responsibility from ISIS, we know that U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence here are casting doubt on that, flush that out for us, why?
UDAS: That is right. ISIS claimed responsibility pretty as soon as this hostage crisis began many hours ago and soon after some U.S. officials question that saying that, well, ISIS doesn't really have much of a presence in Bangladesh or the subcontinent in general.
And they sort of mentioned that al Qaeda is much more involved in Bangladesh, and in fact, (inaudible), which is a local militant group, they are linked to al Qaeda and they have claimed responsibility for at lot of the attacks in Bangladesh against the individuals, against writers, intellectuals, and bloggers in the past.
So many people questioning this ISIS responsibility, a claim of responsibility including the Bangladeshi government -- Victor.
[08:05:06]BLACKWELL: All right, Sumnima Udas for us there, thank you so much.
PAUL: Now here's what we know about terror groups in Bangladesh. ISIS, for instance, has had followers in the country since August of 2014. According to the CTC "Sentinel," a group of Bangladeshi nationals pledged allegiance to ISIS after the group declared its caliphate.
Starting in 2015, the ISIS followers started a wave of gun and bomb attack on Shiites, Hindus and foreigners and places of worship, but experts say extremists with links to al Qaeda are also gaining strength there.
A group calling itself ABT emerged in 2013. The group also operates under the name Ansar Al-Islam. They claimed to operate as the Bangladeshi wing of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.
Now the group is believed to be responsible for a number of recent attacks in Bangladesh including the murder of last year of U.S.-based secular blogger (inaudible) Roy.
I want to bring in CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes here. Tom, based on what we know about this attack, ISIS claiming responsibility, but some U.S. authorities questioning that. They are skeptical. Are you skeptical? Do you believe this was ISIS?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Good morning, Christi. The situation has hallmarks of all the different terrorist groups and just because one particular group, ISIS or al Qaeda did attacks a certain way in the past, it does not necessarily mean they won't change slightly.
ISIS typically has used firearms, explosives, and killed many people, and the al Qaeda attacks from four different al Qaeda-based groups in Bangladesh have typically hacked their people to death on an individual basis, about 40 people in the last year and a half in Bangladesh, so you have a little bit of both. You have firearms, explosives and then hacking the hostages to death, and there is unconfirmed reports that the hostage takers let the locals out, that they let locals out, and that they were not necessarily rescued, and then hacked to death the foreigners, and anybody who was not, that they considered to be a foreigner, they went ahead and murdered but they hacked them to death.
So ISIS typically has done the firearms and the explosives. Al Qaeda has typically done the hacking people to death in Bangladesh, and in this case, you have both.
PAUL: I want to confirm that we do know, we got word this morning that all 20 of the hostages that are dead are indeed, you are right, foreigners.
Let's talk though about the fact that six terrorists were killed, but we have gotten word that one survived and is in custody. What do you know about what will happen to him and his likelihood to talk to authorities and tell them information they may need to know?
FUENTES: Well, that is a good question. We don't know how hard core this individual is, what the circumstances were of the capture, and if he was captured or maybe seriously injured and may still die, we just don't know all of that at this point.
Hopefully, he'll be in good enough shape to talk about it, and hopefully, they will have, you know, not because of torture, but they'll have enough skill in their interrogation to be able to find out who he is, where he is from, and what inspired him.
But again, you know, when terrorists are inspired usually by what they see on the media and over the internet and social media in Bangladesh, you have both messages. You have ISIS and their prolific global messaging going out to kill anybody, and you have the takeover of a restaurant similar to the takeover of the coffee shop in Sydney, Australia, about a year ago.
And about half of the hostages there were rescued and again that was firearms only and shooting the hostages rather than stabbing them to death, but, you know, we'll have to see if this particular person if he is captured and if that is a true story whether he'll relate what the story is, why he did it.
PAUL: So just in the last three or four weeks, we have seen Orlando, Istanbul, now Bangladesh, and all of it, of course, happening during Ramadan. Today is the 27th day, which is a very sacred and holy day to Ramadan. There are three days left. Are we to assume then, Tom, that perhaps the violence will de-escalate three days from now once Ramadan is over?
FUENTES: It is hard to predict. It could, and it is not uncommon during every year during Ramadan to have an increase in the attacks, but, you know, we don't know, these attacks are going on year-round and in Bangladesh, they've had about -- ISIS has killed about 25 people in the last 18 months. Al Qaeda has killed about half that many. In those attacks, it wasn't based on a holiday or a particular certain day, it just happened at their choosing and we can see it now based on Ramadan.
We have often placed a lot of emphasis on the holidays and on their calendar, it may not be necessarily what drives it other than ISIS messaging going worldwide has said to their followers increase the attacks and do it now during Ramadan.
[08:10:09]PAUL: Right. Tom Fuentes, your expertise is always appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to be with us.
FUENTES: Thank you, Christi.
BLACKWELL: We are seeing the ripple effects from terror around the world back here in the U.S. Law enforcements stepping up security at events around the nation this 4th of July weekend, and many of those added precautions you will see like extra police on the streets, and many of them you will not see.
CNN's Sara Ganim is following that story and joins us now from New York's Penn Station. Big events around New York City expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people this weekend and security is going to be tight.
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Victor. Security will be tight across the country in major cities because people are from Chicago to Washington to right here in New York are going to be celebrating the 4th of July holiday mostly at events.
Now, in all three of these cities, and in large cities across the country people, travelers will see extra police presence. They will see the police in tactical gear, the bomb-sniffing dogs, things that quite frankly as a traveler myself, I know when you see them can be scary.
But experts are telling us they should actually reassure travelers this weekend. Having that extra police presence especially in the wake of those two attacks in the past weeks, one at the airport in Istanbul and the other at a cafe yesterday in Bangladesh.
Both soft targets like this one here at Penn Station. The soft target, of course, Victor, is a place that doesn't have that secure perimeter around it so cafes. Places of travel like a train station here, and also the perimeter around an airport before you go through security.
After seeing the two attacks at airports in the last three months, this is something that's on people's minds when they are going for a holiday weekend, where they want to celebrate. They don't want to feel the stress or the extra stress of thinking that I'm in an area that is secure.
And that's where this stepped up police presence comes from. This is the 4th, a busy holiday weekend. AAA is predicting a record 43 million people are going to be traveling this weekend in cities across the country.
Police chiefs are saying there are no credible threats, but the Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson saying that they are taking those extra precautions. That people should still enjoy their holiday weekend, just always of course be alert -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. Sara Ganim for us there at Penn Station. Thanks so much. Again, there will be security that you will see and some you do not.
PAUL: So there is a really big issue bubbling up along the Florida coast, and a lot of people are asking, what is causing this? Look at this. This toxic green algae that is blooming on top of the water. What does it mean for the people going to the beaches and what does it mean for the sea life underneath it?
BLACKWELL: Plus, Donald Trump attacks Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton's meeting with the attorney general. Is the former president now doing more harm than good when it comes to his wife's campaign? We'll ask, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I may have viewed it in a certain light, but the issue is how does it impact the work that I do and the work of the Department of Justice does? And I certainly wouldn't do it again and -- you know, because I think it has cast a shadow over what it should not, over what it will not touch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: That is Attorney General Loretta Lynch admitting, yes, it was an mistake to meet with the former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in the midst of an investigation of his wife, Hillary Clinton, and her use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state.
Let's talk about it now. To discuss the political fallout, we are joined by Donald Trump supporter and co-founder of Women Vote Trump, Amy Kremer, and Hillary Clinton supporter and former Obama campaign staffer, Tharon Johnson. Good to have both of you back.
So let me start with you, Amy. Do you that's enough what you heard from the attorney general? Should she fully recuse herself from this, or do you buy what she says that it was her intention before this happened to accept fully the recommendations of the career prosecutors and the FBI?
AMY KREMER, CO-FOUNDER, WOMEN VOTE FOR TRUMP: Well, I would hope that she would do that, but I think the reason she made that statement is because of the predicament she is in. I do think believe she should recuse herself at this point. It is a huge conflict of interest, and I don't know how that happened with the two of them. They are both attorneys. How did that happen?
BLACKWELL: And let me bring that to you, Tharon, so many people have questioned the attorney general, what was she thinking? The former president, although, he's had these meetings before, just walk up on a plane on the tarmac, he knows the optics. He knows exactly how this will be receive, what was he thinking?
THARON JOHNSON, FORMER SOUTH REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012: Well, I think the thing here that we have to be called it what it was, and it is really a cordial meeting between old friends, I mean, let's not forget --
BLACKWELL: A mistake though.
JOHNSON: And I will get to that, but it was a mistake in regards of optics at a time when you are entrenched in a very heated political campaign with the presumptive nominee on the Republican side, it definitely presents a problem with optics.
But the one thing that I think I was so really proud of Loretta Lynch, Attorney General Lynch, what she did is that she immediately came out and said, listen, I regret what I did. I wouldn't do it again.
And let's not forget, I mean, this is a woman who had a very smooth and fast process in being confirmed by a Republican-led U.S. Senate, and so, has zero history of impropriety, has been a very big person on interrogating ethnics.
But again it was President Clinton being President Clinton. I mean, when he sees someone, an old friend or someone who he knows, I'm sure that he wants to say hello, but it was definitely a problem.
BLACKWELL: He has done it with Orrin Hatch. He's done with former Governor Schwarzenegger. He's done with the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. He's done it with others. If it is coming off of the plane, he walks up.
KREMER: I do agree with you, Tharon, that at least she came out and admit it and such regrets, but I have to say that means a lot because not many times do politicians do that. They will try to back pedal or spin, whatever.
But this whole thing is about that they are above the law, and the powerful elite, and they get special treatment, and things that apply to us don't apply to them, and that is what people are fed up with, and it comes back to the trust issue.
BLACKWELL: That's a good segue way. Let's listen to what Donald Trump said about this. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, when I first heard the story, I said, no, no, you are kidding, I don't believe it. I thought somebody was joking, but it's not a joke, and it is a very serious thing, and to have a thing like that happen is so sad. As you know, Hillary is so guilty. She's so guilty. I mean, you can read them right off here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Here is the question that some have asked and we have explored it a bit this morning, is President Clinton at this point considering what he has been involved in for the last couple of months up to a year a liability in some respects to the campaign? We will put it up on the screen. I don't need to read through them, but your response to that perception?
[08:20:05]JOHNSON: He is absolutely not a liability. I mean, let's not forget, President Clinton is still a very popular Democrat amongst the Democrats all across the country. He's extremely popular with independents.
And I think that honestly he is a tremendous asset to the campaign because at that particular point where two candidates are going to have a conversation with the American people, I think President Clinton is going to be able to remind people of the Clinton years when he had a booming middle-class and an economy that was very, very stable.
Listen, President Clinton is one of the best politicians there is. I mean, he can go into the room, and really make people feel comfortable about his wife, and listen, there is no one that wants Hillary Clinton to be president more than President Clinton.
BLACKWELL: Let me come to you, Amy. There was of course the breaking news of the terror attacks this week and maybe something people did not see in exchange between Donald Trump and a voter in which she asked a question about TSA workers who wear what she called "heebie jabis," which is hijab or nijab.
And Trump said, you know, we need to look into that. Let me look at this politically and policy wise, was it appropriate for him to just let that go on the campaign trail after what we saw from John McCain back in 2008 when someone said that the president is a Muslim and he stopped them and he said, no, he is not.
KREMER: Well, first of all, Donald Trump is not politically correct, we all know that. This campaign is not your usual campaign, but you can't control what people say.
BLACKWELL: But he can control what he says, should he have corrected her?
KREMER: You know, I'm not going to -- I don't know. I don't know what he should have done there. He answered her question and said, you know, I know he is concerned about the veterans, and that is what she was talking about the veterans, putting the veterans to work for the TSA, I believe. So that is what she was talking about and I think that that is what he was referring to and --
BLACKWELL: OK, that is the political side, but as it relates to policy, is Donald Trump, should Donald Trump be looking at replacing Muslims who work for the TSA? KREMER: You know, I think that Donald Trump is looking at securing our borders right now and --
BLACKWELL: Is that -- should that be one of --
KREMER: Well, I want to be safe, and that what most people across this country want is for our families and our homeland to be safe. That is what everybody is concerned about.
BLACKWELL: All right, 10 seconds there, and we have to go, Tharon.
JOHNSON: OK. No, no, this is another opportunity where Donald Trump basically flip-flops, one time, he comes out and basically says, I won't ban all Muslims, but some Muslims. And he missed a really big opportunity here to basically pushback on what he heard, and he should have stood up and say something.
BLACKWELL: All right. Tharon Johnson, Amy Kremer, thank you both -- Christi.
PAUL: Well, it is slimy. It is green. It is toxic algae and it is dangerous amounts of it plaguing Florida beaches stopping 4th of July plans for some tourists and prompting a state of emergency. Jennifer, what are you seeing?
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Christi, it is bad. Four counties are under a state of emergency because of this. Look at this toxic green algae running through the rivers and the canals and out into the ocean. We will have a full report coming up.
PAUL: Toxic amounts of algae. Look at it there, so thick along the Florida coast. It is being compared to guacamole soup. CNN's drone flew over this area to give us a good idea of what it looks like. That is not a rendering. That is a true picture.
And there is a stench to it so badly that people say they cannot go outside. Now, think about that we are on top of this and think about what is underneath, the marine life suffocating in the thick blanket of this sludge.
Look at this video of a manatee struggling to swim in that algae- ridden canal and getting an awful lot of help from somebody so kind to give it some water from the hose. Several counties along the state's treasure coast are under states of emergencies.
CNN meteorologist, Jennifer Gray, is in Florida above all of this. What are you hearing, Jennifer, about how the state is going to handle this?
GRAY: Well, people are really concerned, Christi, because there are so many different layers to this. You not only have the environmental issue. You have the sea life issue. You have the economic impact that it is going to make.
Let me show you what we are dealing with as the tide is come in so it is moving and it is even more disgusting, but look at how thick this is and just laying right on top of it. This is throughout a lot of the rivers and the canals here in Florida.
It is starting from the inside-out, and starting from Lake Okeechobee because they have to regulate how high the lake is, because during the rainy season and the hurricane season they don't want lake to get too high and then overflow and then you have a flooding issue around the lake.
So they regulate the levels. They are flowing so many gallons of water out of Lake Okeechobee every minute that it is flowing into all of the rivers and all of the lagoons and into these intercoastal waterways and because that water has so many fertilizers from the agricultural industry.
It has so much urban runoff a lot of the chemicals in the water, and it is pouring all of the fresh water into the salt water estuaries and it's creating these toxic algae blooms. Now they had a very wet winter.
January, they started draining the lake, which is very, very early. Normally they do it at the end of the summer and so I think that is why they are seeing it worse this year than they've seen in years past.
But you are exactly right this is suffocating the marine life underneath, because it is depleting the oxygen in the water, and also as this lays right on top of the water, the sunlight can't get through.
And so then you have the plant life on the bottom of these rivers and canals die, and that is the food that the manatees rely on as well, and so because of that, there are so many layers to this, and it is stretches far beyond just the disgusting look of it.
I mean, the recreational fishing industry is a $5 billion a year industry, and tourism is $70 billion a year, but with that said, not all of the beaches are green. This is basically in the intercoastal waterways and the canals and the paddleboard shops and the kayakers and people fish here.
Most of the beaches around Florida are looking OK. Of course, they are keeping an eye on it because this does eventually go out into the ocean, and disperse and so they are urging people if you see the algae blooms, report it.
And the lifeguards are on top of it and if the toxic algae blooms are impacting the beaches, they will close, which is the last thing people want to hear on a holiday weekend -- Christi.
PAUL: And you just hope that they can scrape some of that up in a lot of the places to really help the sea life underneath. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much. GRAY: All right.
BLACKWELL: Question, could Donald Trump name a vice presidential pick before the convention? We will tell you who is the GOP presumptive nominee that he is meeting with this weekend.
Plus the investigators are looking into the deadly crash of a Tesla on auto pilot. What the company says caused the accident and what is it like to be behind the wheel of one of these cars. That is coming up next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard three really loud gunshots. (INAUDIBLE) People were saying there was, like, an attack on the restaurant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This neighborhood is one of the most, if not the most secure in Daca (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a huge bomb blast which we heard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it is a posh neighborhood. It's always been very secure. Everyone is just stunned that something like this could happen here.
PAUL: And that is one of the stories we're watching here at 33 minute past the hour on a Saturday morning.
I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. And that is the top story this Saturday, terror in Bangladesh.
The Standoff at the cafe is now over, but 20 people were found dead inside that cafe, and all of them foreigners, all of them hacked to death. At least 14 hostages, though, were rescued.
PAUL: Now, this happened in Dacca, the capital of Bangladesh, just a mile from the U.S. embassy. Seven terrorists attacked a bakery there using rifles, explosives, and other sharp weapons. Six attackers were killed, one was taken alive.
Now, ISIS has claimed responsibility for this attack, but officials are casting some doubt on that claim. There is some skepticism.
BLACKWELL: Alright, so there is the react that's continuing to see who finishes first when it comes to being Donald Trump running mate, and names like Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich have been on the rumored shortlist for weeks now. And, now Indiana GOvernor Mike Pence could push those two aside.
Trump and Pence are scheduled to meet this weekend. Let's talk, we've got Awana Summers joining us. She is an editor for CNN Politics. Awana, good morning to you.
SUMMERS: Good morning. BLACKWELL: So, Trump tweeted this morning, let's put it up guys. The speaker slots at the Republican convention are totally filled with a long awaited list, or long waiting list of those that want to speak. Wednesday is the release date there. Does that correspond with what you're hearing from your sources, that there is this long list of people who can't wait to get on stage at the Trump convention?
SUMMERS: What Donald Trump tweeted there doesn't really track with what we've been hearing and seeing in our reporting from talking with prominent Republicans, the type of politicians that you would normally see at a convention.
You heard Mitt Romney, the party's last presidential nominee. He has no plans to speak. John McCain, nominee before him, no plans to speak. Even John Kasich, Donald Trump's former rival who's the governor of the state that the convention's to be held in, doesn't seem to be having any plans to speak.
What we have heard though is that Donald Trump is likely to have his family play a prominent role, and likely to turn to the other figures, nonpolitical figures that support his run. So, Donald Trump could correct that actually, that the speaker roster has been lined up, that they're all full, and that we're going to see that release very soon as he seems to indicate. But, I think this is going to be a very different lineup than we've seen in the past, and that we're not likely to see Donald Trump with a lot of significant support rather from the traditional Republican establishment.
BLACKWELL: Yeah, Trump said this week that there were requests for him to speak on all three nights, as he said, and he turned that down. let's talk about this meeting that I just talked about between Trump and Indiana governor Mike Pence. Possibly a dark horse in the race. He's got the conservative Christian credentials behind him. What's his chance here as he lines up next to Newt Gingrich and CHris Christie?
SUMMERS: So, a pick of someone like Governor Mike Pence makes a lot of sense when you think about the things that Donald Trump needs. If you look at the way that he's appealed to the electorate, he's probably going to look at someone who can counter his brash personality, and the populism that he's really brought to this race, who can help him win some Republicans that he's yet to win over. And, so in that respect, Mike Pence does make some sense.
That said, the attention reporting has been focused on a pick like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who, since abandoning his own presidential bid has been very supportive of Donald Trump. Has appeared on his behalf, has talked about him quite a bit. Then you have a man like Newt Gingrich, obviously. A former House Speaker, still well regarded in traditional Republican circles who has come to Donald Trump's defense as he has taken heat from within members of his own party. Donald Trump has suggested that this is a decision that we could see ahead of the convention, which I think certainly would give him a bit of a bump -- turn the conversation a little bit, as there have been some reports that maybe the campaign may be not going as well as he'd liked. A lot of attention being paid to early polls that show him lagging behind Hillary Clinton in a general election match up.
BLACKWELL: You know, we talked a bit a moment ago about this moment between DOnald Trump and a voter who questioned TSA hiring women who wear Hijab, or a nijab, and Trump's reluctance, or decision not to correct the woman in discussing that they should be replaced because they wear that religious garb. He did, though, however correct a man who said something about Israel. Take us into that moment.
SUMMERS: Sure. He did actually correct a moment. He stood up and said, you know, Israel's one of our biggest allies. We're going to stand firmly with Israel, and that is an issue that has quite a bit of potency for Republican voters and those in the Republican base, so I think that was a winning moment for Donald Trump. He handled that pretty effectively.
The other moment that you mentioned though, I think that's where we get back to this question that we see around Donald Trump all the time. And, it's a question of temperament. If you look at recent polling about DOnald Trump, that's where voters questions really lay.
So, I think that as he has more of these town hall style meetings, which I expect we'll see more of as the race heads into the fall past the convention, how he handles those kind of questions. And, as you contrasted rightly earlier, this is really different from the type of response from we saw from John McCain back in the 2008 race. Very different from the temperament of past Republicans. President George W. Bush comes to mind as well.
So, how Donald Trump handles that is something I'm definitely watching closely.
BLACKWELL: Alright, Awana Summers, CNN Politics editor, thanks so much for being with us this morning.
SUMMERS: Thanks for having me.
PAUL: And, questions this morning about Tesla. While the autopilot feature was on during a drive, the first driver died. The first driver who was driving a Tesla with this feature on now dead. That is the man who died there. We have details on what caused the crash, and what the company's doing to make sure it doesn't happen again.
BLACKWELL: Question: if a luxury electric car on auto pilot ends with a fatal crash, who's to blame? The driver or the car? Now, the crash involved a Tesla being operated in the autopilot setting.
PAUL: Yeah, I want to show you some video here from last year of the driver, Joshua Brown. This is him giving a demo of how the autopilot worked. In a blog post, Tesla says that the car ran into a tractor trailer because the software didn't notice the white side of the truck in the brightly lit sky when that every driver you see on screen there was driving this week. Basically the camera did not pick up the contrast of those colors, and therefore he died. CNN Money Peter Valdez Pena, joining us now. So, Peter, you've actually driven a Tesla on auto pilot. Was there any point you were doing so where you didn't feel safe?
VALDEZ PENA: Well, first of all, let me make it clear, this was right after this software was first introduced. There have been iterations since then, and improvements, but yeah. When I was driving it, yes, there were situations where it didn't pick up a lane line, for instance, and swerved into another lane, or it didn't react quickly enough to a car being near city drivers that suddenly cut me off from another lane, and I had to grab the wheel.
So, this software isn't perfect. Of course, the question now is can something like this, at this point in the technology's development, ever be really perfect. Apparently it can't.
PAUL: We were watching a story about this earlier, and Tesla advises never -- at the end of the day, never to take your hands off the wheel. But, to that, we kind of think what is the point of auto pilot then? What do you say to that?
VALDEZ PENA: Well, a lot of cars today, Mercedes-Benz for instance, and Infiniti, have software that does a lot of what Tesla auto pilot does, maintains your place in the lane, it maintains a safety distance behind the car in front of you. You could theoretically, you know, take you hands off the wheel, but they make you keep your hands on the wheel. You don't have to actively steer, but you have to at least keep your fingertips on the wheel simply as a way of letting the car know, "I understand I'm driving a car, I'm not riding in it. I'm driving in this car, and I'm in control."
And, it sort of forces you a little pit to pay more attention, but it's much more relaxing to drive that way. I've done it miles, and miles, without really actively steering, and it is a much more relaxing way to drive. You can stay in the car long, you can go longer distances without wearing out. So, there is some benefit to it, a lot of benefit.
PAUL: Obviously, we would assume Tesla's working on a remedy for this very kind of thing. Is there any advice you could give or instruction, guidance to other people who are driving Tesla's based on your own experience as to what to watch out for? What to be aware of?
VALDEZ PENA: Sure. Well, the type of road that he was driving on, in fact, I'm from Florida, I've driven on that road. This is a really tricky situation. Personally, I would not have been relying on auto pilot in this situation. This is a high-speed road with highway type speed limits, but at the same time, there are intersections without traffic lights where vehicles can turn and cross the road in front of you.
So, in a situation like that, I'm not sure that even if the autopilot system had been working perfectly we can't be sure that there would have been enough time to stop before his car crashed into the side of that truck. You know, the only thing to do there is, sure, use the autopilot if you want to. As I said, there's benefit to it, but in a situation like this I would have also been paying very, very close attention to the road in front of me.
PAUL: Do you believe there should be a recall?
VALDEZ PENA: No, I don't think there's a recall in this. I think -- look, I hate to say this because we don't know exactly what was going on inside of that car, OK? But, there's always going to be a limit to any technology. No technology can cover every single conceivable situation. Certainly not at this point in the development of autonomous, self-driving vehicles. Nothing right now can pick up everything.
I think what needs to happen now is just that drivers -- first of all, I think drivers need to be aware that you need to pay attention in a lot of different situations, and pretty much pay attention, frankly, all the time. And, I think I might like to see Tesla tweak the software a little bit so it operates more like some of the other ones that are out there.
Yes, it's a bit of a bummer having to hold your steering wheel while your driving, not as exciting as being able to take your hands off, but we need to do something, or Tesla should do something to really make sure that its drivers are using this technology safely.
PAUL: But, is that on Tesla? Is that Tesla's problem, or is that the responsibility of the driver?
VALDEZ PENA: It is, ultimately of course, the responsibility of the driver. Any time you're behind the wheel of a car it is your responsibility to maintain control of that vehicle, and to be alert at all times. I'm just saying there are steps Tesla can take to help make sure, or to help remind drivers that they need to do that.
PAUL: So, you have no problem though continuing to drive a Tesla?
VALDEZ PENA: No, I would have problem with this. I would look at this situation, look at what happened, and say, "Look, I need to remember that when there are vehicles crossing in front of me, that's a dangerous situation. I need to remember always, always, always, that I need to pay attention, that I need to be alert because no software, at this point, is going to be perfect.
PAUL: Yeah, alrighty. Peter Valdez Pena. Good to have, yeah, your opinion on this, especially with your experience here. Thank you for being here.
VALDEZ PENA: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Brazil is facing debt, and pollution, and the Zika virus, and it's just the beginning of what seems to be the curse of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
BLACKWELL: Intense flames here. You can even hear what's going on here. Broke out after a gas main exploded just a couple of hours ago outside of Detroit. Now, the fire department in Melvindale had to evacuate part of the city, population of about 10,000. It's unsure of how many people had to leave their homes at that hour of the day, but one person was hurt.
Our affiliate says that a car crashed and hit the gas main there.
PAUL: Let's talk about the Rio Olympics because there is more and more negative attention being brought to it with more and more problems that are coming to light as we head toward the big games.
BLACKWELL: And these are big problems. This week, body parts washed ashore. You know the Zika virus is a challenge there, and athletes are backing out because of it. Rio has also had a super bacteria in the water, a bike path collapsed killing two people as well.
Senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is live in Rio with the latest. Arwa, what's the degree of confidence that this, or all of these problems will be solved before the world floods in in just a little more than a month?
DAMON: That really depends on who it is that you're asking. There is this sense that even if the problems are not all necessarily addressed or resolved, the games will somehow end up going ahead.
But, yes, Rio is facing a set of issues that other nations that have hosted the Olympics in the past have not necessarily faced, like, as you mentioned there, Zika, this super bacteria, the sheer levels of pollution that exist in some of the waters where these sports are going to be taking place.
Yes, the government says that the pollution levels are not as high as some of the athletes or others believe that they are. But, ask the athletes and they're not necessarily all that comfortable having this water accidentally splash into their mouths. That being said, they are going to be going ahead with all of this, but you have this issue of pollution I was mentioning.
Then, you also have this underlying issue of security. And, it's not necessarily terrorism related security, but it's just security in general. How safe is the population going to be from these various different criminal gangs? Yes, the streets will be flooded with very high levels of military. Tens of thousands of security forces will be added on to those that already exist here, but you have security leading up to the games with criminal gangs effectively, according to some police officers we've been talking to, running rampant.
And, you had the most recent incident involving the German national broadcasters where two of their massive trucks carrying their main equipment to set up their live positions for the games, their driver was held at gunpoint. The trucks were hijacked. The containers were later found, but they were empty. So, none of this is really instilling a lot of confidence at this stage in the government's capabilities.
That being said though, Rio is a city that has hosted significant such as the World Cup, and let's not forget that every single year they are also dealing with major events as well. So, people point to that and say, look, Rio is going to be able to handle it. Although, it might be less than ideal.
BLACKWELL: Alright, Araw Damon there for us in Rio. Arwa, thank you so much.
PAUL: And, since we're talking about the Olympics, there might be some dire news about it, but there is still a lot of excitement for a lot of people as we head into it. In fact, there was a thriller at the Olympic swimming trials. Rashan Ali has more on that.
ALI: Ryan Lochte face off in an epic swim off for the last time before they head to Rio.
PAUL: You ever wonder it must be like to be in the NBA when you're trying to wheel and deal all of these contracts, all of this money, what it's like behind closed doors? The money they throw around, the figures they throw around.
BLACKWELL: We're talking tens of millions, more than a hundred million for multi-year contracts year. Rashan Ali joining us now with the incredible amount of money that was spent yesterday.
ALI: Yeah, we love what we do.
ALI: It's always exciting to see what other people make.
BLACKWELL: But for $153 million dollars, I will get up right now.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Yes.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: So, now you can play a game?
BLACKWELL: I can't play basketball to save my life.
ALI: Aww, man.
BLACKWELL: (LAUGHING) I'm like the rainbow shooter. Like, I come.
ALI: Reportedly more than a billion and a half dollars were handed out to just 27 players yesterday.
ALI: The salary cap has gone up this year, giving teams more money to spend, and Mike Conley was the biggest winner of the day. According to reports he agreed to a five year, $153 million dollar deal to stay with the Memphis Grizzlies. That's the largest contract in NBA history, but that's just for now. The two biggest names in free agency, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant are still in the market. The Thunder are the favorites to bring back Durant, at least for one more season. Mean time, king James declined his player option with the NBA champion, Cavaliers.
But the finals MVP has made it clear he has no intention of leaving Cleveland anytime soon.
It looks like an injury might keep the world's fastest man from competing in next month's Olympic games. Usain Bolt withdrew from the Jamaican national Olympic trials with a hamstring injury, but that does not mean Bolt won't defend his Olympic title. He could get a medical exemption if he can get healthy in time. The opening ceremony is just 34 days away.
And, the duel in the pool between American swimming stars, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte lives up to the hype. They swam their final head to head race in the U.S. in the 200 meter individual medley at the Olympic trail last night, and at the end it was Phelps edging out his biggest rival by just inches. But, don't feel bad for Lochte, second place still earned him a spot in Rio. They've been battling for years.
PAUL: And, with that just second or two win.
PAUL: It's still going to be -- you go to the Olympics and you have no idea what's going to happen.
PAUL: Anybody can come out from behind.
BLACKWELL: So, let me ask you about LeBron James. He says he has no intention of leaving Cleveland, but if he were to leave, he did what he came to do, right?
ALI: Yes, he can retire.
BLACKWELL: And, he leaves with no disrespect.
ALI: I know Christi's like...
PAUL: He's staying.
BLACKWELL: We get it, we get it. You were undecided when they were down three to one, you were saying there's a chance.
PAUL: That's how Cleveland is. Cleveland fans are die hard.
BLACKWELL: Oh, no, here you go.
PAUL: How many years in the dog pound for the Browns? Just saying. Thank you.
PAUL: Thank you so much for being with us.
BLACKWELL: That's is for us, we'll see you back here at 10:00 o'clock Eastern for an hour of "NEWSROOM".
PAUL: Don't go anywhere. "SMERCONISH" is starting for you right now.