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Chris Christie Spends Time on a Beach He Closed; White House Stays Confident Senate Bill Will Pass; Iraqi Forces Nearing Liberation in Mosul; Kidnapping Suspect to Appear in Court. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 3, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:31:36] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back. It's a holiday week and the Jersey Shore should be packed, right? Wrong.

A New Jersey government shutdown has left the state's beaches empty. Closed down. Except for one group. Governor Chris Christie and his family right there.

These pictures caught by local media on this deserted beach right in front of a state-owned residence, the governor's residence on the beach there.

Here's how the governor is responding today in an interview.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: What a great bit of journalism by the "Star Ledger." They actually caught a politician being where he said he was going to be with the people he said he was going to be with, his wife and his children and their friends.

So it's really -- I'm sure they're going to get a Pulitzer for this one because they actually proved -- they caught me doing what I said I was going to do with the people that I said I was going to be with.


WHITFIELD: All right. But after the pictures were taken yesterday when asked if he had gotten a tan, he said this during a press conference.


CHRISTIE: No, I didn't, Claude, but go ahead. I didn't get any sun today. I'm done. We're talking about the closure of government and you're talking about your TMZ stuff.


WHITFIELD: So the spokesperson for the governor later added to that moment by saying the governor had not gotten any sun because he was wearing a hat. He had a baseball hat on. All right. Joining me now to talk about all of this, Sally Kohn, CNN

political commentator and columnist at the "Daily Beast," and John Philips, CNN political commentator and political columnist at the "Orange County Register."

Good to see both of you. All right. Sally, you first.


WHITFIELD: So within minutes, both Houses of the legislature will be convening to try to strike a budget deal, but now this is kind of superseding all of that. That it looks like the rules are different for everybody else except for Chris Christie and the governor. Chris Christie and his family. The governor. Big problem?

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, look, as has lately been the case, we're often focusing, we in the media, we sort of citizens in general often focusing on these sort of tabloidy kind of personal infighting details instead of the important policy disagreements that are on the table.

The problem for Christie here is that this really crystallizes the larger critique of him, which is this, I don't care about how much suffering I cause the regular folks of my state, I'm going to keep giving more giveaways, tax breaks, incentives to big business and the very rich. And if you don't like it, who cares?

I mean, at this point it almost seems like Christie exists just so that there's some politician in America who has a lower approval rating than Donald Trump. And if he really wanted to make himself look worse, he would go and pull a stunt like this. It's just -- it's callous. It's ridiculous, it's absurd. It's Chris Christie.

WHITFIELD: So, John, the governor's approval rating is at 15, and the governor has already said, I don't care. Is this just strictly a testament to that? That he was like, you know what, I don't really care?

PHILIPS: Well, my favorite part of the story is that it warranted paparazzi photographs from a helicopter from every possible angle.

[10:35:04] And it reminds us how fortunate we are that Christie decided not to don his American flag Speedo because I hear that when he does that Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands all become states. So look --


WHITFIELD: I'm not going to laugh.

PHILIPS: It's a holiday. It's the weekend. And it's also a reminder as to why people like term limits because even the politicians that we start out liking end up living like Marie Antoinette, he's been around in a long time, he's not going to run for president again, he's not going to run for the United States Senate, there's nowhere for him to go. He's a lame duck and he's acting like one. WHITFIELD: OK. So let's pivot now from that to, you know, a matter

that so many people across the country really do care about and it's about health care and whether there will be, you know, a new deal struck, et cetera. You've got, you know, some members of the GOP who are saying just bypass the August recess. They need to really get their hands dirty and try to, you know, make some real progress here.

So, Sally, is there going to be any real, I guess, shaping of a new plan made in the coming months?

KOHN: Well, look, I don't know. I am not optimistic and I'm not optimistic for, by the way, what are good reasons, which is that there are -- look, the divide in the Republican Party in Congress right now is between people who want to see Trumpcare cut Medicaid even further, hurt poor and working class families, including by the way the ones who voted for Donald Trump, hurt them even more.

Hurt seniors who rely on Medicaid for their nursing care home, hurt them even more, so there's a large contingent of Republicans who want to see this policy go further, exacting more pain. And thankfully there's a group of moderate Republicans who say no, that's bad for America, that's bad politics. It's also just immoral.

By the way, I have Obamacare, so I'm not going to sit here -- it is better than what I used to have. It is still not what it could be. But the idea that we should scrap a system that works OK and could work better and instead replace it with something that is universally a bad idea is incredibly worse, more destructive and disastrous, is about as preposterous as everything else that this presidential administration has tried to do.

WHITFIELD: So, John, listen to Joe Manchin. This is what he said. He said that he wants to, you know, see the president succeed. He wants to see some sort of health care deal made. But listen to how he put it.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: He is our president and I want him to succeed. I want him to know there are Democrats that want to work with him. But right now they can't even repeal it. They can't get 50 votes to repeal it because somebody is getting hurt more than what they're willing to sign onto. Then look at some of us. Work with us Democrats who are willing to meet you in the middle.

I'm looking every way I can to work with them and work with this White House and work with this president, my president, in trying to make things better.


WHITFIELD: John, will this be a growing consensus?

PHILIPS: I think it might be. My take on this is it's better to get it right than to get it done fast. And Joe Manchin is a guy who has worked with Donald Trump. He voted for many of his nominees that went before the U.S. Senate. And something happened last week very quietly that got lost in all the noise, and that is Kate's Law passed the House of Representatives and it passed on a bipartisan vote.

Donald Trump is coming into this with no political experience at all and it takes a while to learn how to build these coalitions together to get a majority of Congress behind a piece of legislation. And they were able to successfully do that in the House. I suspect Kate's Law will pass the Senate on a bipartisan vote.

And I think that he's learning a lot of lessons from that. And if he would employ the tactics that he used with that legislation to this, I think he will be in very good shape.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there. John Philips, Sally Kohn, good to see both of you. Happy Fourth weekend.

PHILIPS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. All right. Iraqi forces are right now closer than ever to liberating the city of Mosul. So what is the U.S. plan after ISIS loses control? We'll discuss next.


[10:43:52] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. The new dramatic images into CNN we want to share with you now as Iraq's military makes its final push to liberate the city of Mosul from ISIS control. You can see smoke billowing from the skyline as Iraqi forces move forward.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Barbara Starr are following the latest developments.

So, Nick, you first. You were just there. How is this playing out?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very slowly, Fredricka, at this point. We are seeing the last few hundreds of meters literally of territory inside the old city of the Iraqi town of Mosul. Once the biggest population center ISIS controlled. Well, they're now in a very small pocket. But they have suicide bombers in their midst, civilians being used as human shields, rubble everywhere, booby traps in that rubble.

We've seen ourselves civilians emerging from that rubble, leaving the bodies of their loved ones. Dead behind under it, too. It's been a nightmare for Iraq but it's one that seems to be slowly coming to a close. Much political will here to announce the end of ISIS, their final victory. And that could be hours, it could be days away. Things are moving slowly, though -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And so, Barbara, ISIS has another de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria. It is close to falling as well.

[10:45:06] So once both capitals fall, what is the U.S.' plan moving forward to defeat ISIS?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this may be, you know, just the beginning as you point out, Fredricka. The fighters that the U.S. is backing are moving into Raqqa, encountering a lot of opposition. No telling when it will be back under their control. But already the planning going on for what happens next and the what happens next is really the big problem.

You could get Raqqa back from ISIS presumably. It's going to take a while. But can you restore civilian control? These fighters that are doing this, mainly Arab, Kurdish, and that's going to be a problem. There's the beginning if you will of a reconstruction council, people to install hopefully to run a civilian government. But this is still Syria. It's still Bashar al-Assad's country and he is backed by the Russians.

So if these fighters manage to get Raqqa back, what happens when Syrian forces backed by the Russians also with some Iranian influence begin to move back into these areas? Will these people be able to really hold on to Raqqa in the middle of Bashar al-Assad's country? Could ISIS move back in? What about the money that it's going to cost? These are all questions that the Trump administration yet has really to answer.

And there is another complication. Turkey, a close U.S. ally just to the north. Turkey not happy about most of this because it's going to add to the Kurdish influence in northern Syria, something that Turkey objects to. So this really just the beginning maybe of the middle but not even the beginning of the end for the complications for the Trump administration according to everyone we talked to -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And Nick, back to Mosul, Iraq, there are conflicting reports about the potential, you know, timeline about the fall of Mosul. What are you hearing?

WALSH: As I say, it could be hours, it could be days. I'm hearing anything from potentially five days, the reality of the fighting on the ground to perhaps hearing some more political announcement possibly in the next 24 to 48 hours. It's a war. Things change the whole time.

The broader question that people hear is, how does the reconciliation begin in Iraqi society? Remember it's always been split of ethnic lines of Sunni versus Shia. Those different groups of the Islamic faith. The Sunni used to be under control under Saddam Hussein, they have now fallen from minority and the Shia are running the government and running lots of the military.

The Shia have to reach out to that Sunni minority. The Sunnis were close to ISIS, many say. Certainly they're extremists, providing them room to breathe in certain parts of the country. There's deep suspicion between both sides being on opposite sides of the front line frankly for the last three years or so. The question is, can they begin to reconcile and while that reconciliation takes place, can Iraq begin to rebuild? So much of what ISIS have left behind is rubble and dust -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, Barbara Starr, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it. All right. The man accused of kidnapping a graduate student in

Illinois set for his first appearance in court. Coming up, how the suspect's activity online could play a major role in the case.



[10:52:13] TOM HOGAN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, CHESTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: This is the story of a savage and senseless murder.


WHITFIELD: That was the Chester County, Pennsylvania, district attorney yesterday announcing the charges against the man accused of shooting and killing 18-year-old Bianca Nicole Roberson in an act of road rage. 28-year-old David Desper faces multiple charges including first-degree murder and reckless endangerment.

The victim's family says she had been shopping for new college clothes with her mom and grandmother just before she was killed when her car and the other vehicle somehow were merging there.

Desper turned himself in after fleeing from the scene after, again, shooting at the young girl, striking her in the head, killing her.

In just moments now the suspect in the disappearance of a University of Illinois student is due to appear in court. This as new details emerge about Brendt Christensen. The FBI says that Christensen may have visited abduction fantasy and kidnapping Web sites right before allegedly kidnapping 26-year-old Yingying Zhang.

Zhang was studying at the University of Illinois when she went missing three weeks ago. Police say surveillance video shows Zhang getting into Christensen's car.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung is following the story.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're outside the federal courthouse in Urbana, Illinois, just on the outskirts of the University of Illinois campus where both Brendt Christensen and Yingying Zhang had studied. Christensen today is only charged with the kidnapping of Zhang. Will additional charges follow? We shall see. He's being arraigned this morning.

It was on this June 9th video surveillance footage that we last saw Yingying Zhang. Police say that's Christensen's she was seen getting into. Once police connected Christensen to the car, and -- they put him under continuous surveillance. After two weeks of keeping a watchful eye on him, they captured Christensen on an audio recording explaining to someone how he kidnapped Zhang. We don't know who he was explaining that to. Perhaps we will learn that today in court.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: All right, Kaylee Hartung, thanks so much.

President Trump working the phones this morning all ahead of his first face-to-face meeting as president -- the president will be meeting with Vladimir Putin. We're following all the developments.