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Car Slams into Pedestrians at Boston Logan Airport; Chris Christie Relaxes on Beach After Closing It to Public; Suspect in Chinese Scholar's Kidnapping Goes to Court; Bannon Advises Tax Hike on Rich. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 3, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Back to our breaking news, live pictures around Boston Logan Airplane the day before the Fourth of July. We are covering multiple injuries, as it appears a driver, perhaps the driver of that taxicab, slammed into pedestrians. According to our last guest, it sounds like this is the taxicab staging area, an area where the cab drivers are actually sitting in those tables, you know, and having a bite to eat in between shifts or rides. We don't know the severity of the injuries. Also don't know if it was deliberate. Was it a health incident on behalf of the driver? Was it a mechanical failure with the car? We don't know yet. As soon as we know anything else, I promise we'll pass it along.

Turning now to politics, it is almost July 4th, America's Independence Day. Millions spending their hard-earned vacation time lounging on beaches or site seeing in state parks. Everywhere, except Jersey. Many beaches, state parks shut down over a fight involving the budget. But one man has defied the odds. One man brave enough to make it past the gate. One man victorious in reaching the promised sand. And he is the very man who closed the beaches in the first place. Yes, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie relaxing on a beach despite closing it to the public.

When asked whether he got some sun, Governor Christie says, nah.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R), NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: No, I didn't, Claude, but go ahead. I didn't get any sun today.


CHRISTIE: No. No. There's no one at a state park. There's no lifeguards. There's no one to pick up the garbage. There's no one providing any service.

Next! Next!


Excuse me.

Next. Next.

I'm done. We're talking about the closure of government, and you're talking about your TMZ stuff.


BALDWIN: The governor's representative later clarified his denial of getting sun by saying -- and I quote - "He had a baseball cap on."

Governor Christie defended his beach trip this morning.


CHRISTIE (via telephone): It's where we live, one of the places we live. What a great bit the journalist by "The Star Ledger." They actually caught a politician being where he was said he was going to be, with the people he said he was going to be with, his wife, children and friends. So it's a bit of -- I'm sure they'll get a Pulitzer for this one. They actually proved -- they caught me doing what I said I was going to do with the people I said I was going to be with.


BALDWIN: Matt Arco is with me, a political reporter with "The Star Ledger" and, who has covered the governor extensively.

I bet you never thought you'd be covering this.

Matt Arco, nice to talk with you today.

Listen, New Jerseyians are reacting the way they are, not just because of the pictures on the beach and the stark contrast between the vast sand and governor and his family and everyone else packed in around other beaches, but this is a governor who is "Mr. I tell it like it is."

MATT ARCO, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE START LEDGER & NEWJERSEY.COM: Yes, look, we're at a point with the folks in New Jersey, and Governor Christie, he's just not liked. New Jerseyians are ready to see him go. And he's, right now, the lowest-polled governor in modern history. So folks are fatigued, ready to see them go. We're in this budget shutdown. The intricacies of who's to blame, they don't pay attention to. But a lot of folks don't have a high opinion about him. And now they've got images of him on the beach, which fans the fury.

BALDWIN: So he was the one asking the governor because, apparently, he wouldn't have said anything had the governor not had a pinkish skin tone. Would this story would not have been broken, if your colleague had not been so astute.

ARCO: My colleague and I didn't know at the time. But another one of our colleagues had snapped a picture of the governor on the beach. So it was a way for my colleague, looking at another story, he wanted to open up the question to Governor Chris Christie. He was getting criticism, the governor, for being at Island Park State Park to begin with. There were a lot of memes going around online and he was getting criticized for it. And when he sensed the question from our colleague, he immediately wanted to bring up that Christie attitude and bring that brashness that we often see with the governor when he gets questions he doesn't like.


BALDWIN: But, Matt, let me go back to, the representative for the governor. Said he did not get any sun, he had a baseball hat on. Chris Cillizza wrote a piece on this today called it a media backtrack entry on the spin hall of fame. How does this play out for him politically?

[14:35:00] ARCO: I don't think -- it's like typically governor's office snark. It's insult to injury that the picture is out. People are definitely upset. And the fact he told a colleague that he had no sun was a useless thing to say. There was no reason for it. He obviously knew that it wasn't true. So I think, again, that adds to the anger.

But the image itself is enough to have the governor's approval rating drop even further than it is.

BALDWIN: 15 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll. Not good. Maybe he'll go to the White House and have another chapter. We'll see.

Matt Arco, thank you so much for joining me on the Chris Christie Sun- gate?

Is that what we're calling it now?

Coming up, one of President Trump's closed adviser apparently going all Democrat, pushing a plan to raise taxes on the rich. We'll talk about that coming up.

And while a crowd gathered as a vigil for a missing graduate student, a chilling photo reveals who was spotted -- look at that -- in the background. The school says it is the suspect in the abduction standing there. Now investigators are revealing what they found on his computer, including Web sites about how to plan a kidnapping. We'll have a live report, next.


[14:40:41] BALDWIN: We have a significant update out of Boston Logan Airport, where a taxi staging area, you know, ended up hitting a number of people who were in the way. Ten people have gone to the hospital.

Jason Carroll has been working the phones. Jason Carroll has a very important piece of information on whether or not this is deliberate.

What have you learned?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are getting some information. This, according to two law enforcement sources, who tells CNN, Brooke, this was an accident. Apparently, the driver of that taxicab in question there confused the brake with the gas, and then plowed into the pedestrians there at that taxi pool. This whole incident, just to recap, starting about 1:44, that's when

the call initially came in that there was all of this activity going on there in east Boston. Apparently, the taxicab driver, once again, according to two law enforcement sources, confusing the gas with the brake, and then plows in waiting at that taxi pool.

We're getting word that 10 people were injured during the incident. We're still trying to get confirmation of the extent. Four people taken to Tufts, the remaining two taken to Mass General Hospital.

That was a crowded section there at the time. I was looking for a tweet that ran it about 1:20 p.m. And they had some 320 taxis waiting there at that particular time. So you can imagine how crowded it was at 1:44 when the call initially came in.

Once again, we're now hearing from not one, but two law enforcement sources that tell us this was now an accident, that the driver of the taxicab, cooperating with the authorities, apparently, got confused between the brake and the gas -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Jason, thank you so much for the update out of Boston.

Let's move on, though.

Federal authorities say a man's abduction fantasy may have led to the death of a University of Illinois graduate student. Yingying Zhang, who came to America to continue her education, disappeared last month. The FBI has reason to believe she is dead, because her abductor, Brendt Christensen, was talking about the kidnapping on tape. He appeared in court today on kidnapping charges. The FBI said he frequented an online forum known as Abduction 101. Look at this. There are threads like Perfect Abduction Fancy. And the University of Illinois confirms the suspect in this abduction showed up to the student's vigil last week.

CNN correspondent, Kaylee Hartung, captured this photo. The University says he is the man in the top right corner of the photo.

Kaylee is with us live.

Did they have any idea why he showed up? What more are they telling you?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, Brendt Christensen was arrested on Friday. It was the day before that, the Zhang family, still so full of hope when I spoke with them that day, that the university had organized this walk through campus for members of the community to show their support for Yingying and her family.

We have now confirmed that with the University of Illinois that is, in fact, Brendt Christensen, the suspect in this kidnapping, in the top right-hand corner. I had taken that photo as folks were congregating here on the steps just before that walk began. Really startling to see him and have his identity confirmed at that walk in her honor.

BALDWIN: We know that police believe she is dead, based on this audio, what he said in this recording, but they won't elaborate. Kaylee, do you know -- what more do you know about that?

HARTUNG: Well, let's start at the beginning of the evidence here, Brooke. The last sighting of Yingying Zhang, on June 9th, she was seen getting into a car that police say Christensen was driving that day and he owns. When they search his phone, they found the records, as you mentioned, of the Abduction 101 site and the Kidnapping Fantasy site. Then, on that same day that we attended the walk in her honor, he was already under surveillance. He had been for about two weeks. That's when authorities captured him in audio recording telling someone -- we don't know who -- how he kidnapped her. That's all the evidence authorities are currently willing to share. But authorities say they have additional evidence that lead them to believe that Yingying Zhang is no longer alive.

[14:45:29] BALDWIN: I still can't believe you caught him in that photo.

Kaylee, thank you so much. Kaylee Hartung.

Steve Rogers is still with us here. I'm going to bring Steve into the conversation.

Just, first, going back to the photo, which you can see Kaylee caught. Police say that was the abductor who went to the vigil.

Is this something, you know, that in a sick, twist the way, that they want to see what's going on?

STEVE ROGERS, RETIRED POLICE DETECTIVE LIEUTENANT: Brooke, yes. A couple things. One is he carried out his fantasy from beginning to end. That could have been part of his fantasy, ending this. In another sick, twisted way, some of these criminals will go to the scene of funerals, wakes.


ROGERS: Well, sometimes, believe it or not, they're remorseful, looking for forgiveness in their own way. They're having a hard time coping with what they did, or just confirming, like, what I did, and I got all these people gathered in one area to mourn my victim. It's a sick crime. And this, Brooke, believe me, this was, at least, appears to be, a crime of opportunity. This poor girl at that bus stop became his victim.

BALDWIN: Apparently, this Web site is for -- or at least marketed for consenting adults, sexual fantasy, you know, into acting out kidnappings. But they have had to, I think, privatize the site or close it, because it's been cited in multiple criminal complaints for people such as this individual, with nefarious intent, not just do it for -- how does it exist?

ROGERS: It shouldn't. We'll always hear the First Amendment, no one is committing a crime. This is inciting a criminal act. This individual actually carried this act out. And in his mind, you know what? He probably figures he's performed a fantasy in his mind. Maybe he feels he didn't do anything wrong. But here's what's key. The key is the police got him right away.

Now the motive, what was his motive? We'll probably find out it was simple and tragic as, well, I went on a Web site, decided to carry out a fantasy, and it went too far.

What troubles me is the fact that he changed his story. And when he cleaned the passenger side of the car more meticulously than the driver's side and said to the police, in another story, well, I let her go. That may be the signal that led police to believe she's no longer with us.

Sad for the parents, and we need to keep them in mind.

BALDWIN: Yes, absolutely

Steve Rogers, thank you so much.

ROGERS: You're welcome.


Thank you.

Next here, we're talking taxes. Rising taxes on the rich sounds like a plan from the Democrats. One of the president's closes advisers is pushing the idea. We'll talk to two economists about Steve Bannon's latest plan.

Also just in, the White House is weighing in on that video the president tweeted, the whole wrestling/CNN video. More on that.


[14:52:36] BALDWIN: A tax hike for the wealthy to pay tax cuts for the middle class. Sounds like a talking point from the left. But surprisingly, the idea is being floated by one of the men who has President Trump's ear, Steve Bannon. He's works from behind the scenes, quietly pushing this radical approach to tax reform. A far cry from what traditional Republicans would like.

So with me now, two different opinions, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, an organization that opposes all tax increases, and Dylan Ratigan, strategic advisor for Tasty Trade, a financial news and entertainment site, and chairman of Helical Holdings.

So, gentlemen, let's get started.

Grover, to you first.

Everyone knows your name because you pushed Republicans to sign that pledge not to raise taxes of any kind. I have a feeling you entirely disagree with Mr. Bannon?

GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Yes. It's a particularly cruel thing for Bannon to do. Had we grown during the Obama year at Ronald Reagan rates of 4 percent rather than 2 percent as Obama. There would be 12 million more Americans working today. That's the problem we need to fix. That's why Trump won the election. Raising taxes hertz economic growth, Obama reminded us of that. Reagan pointed out that that was in fact the case. We need lower rates across the board, and the president is pushing particularly for taxes on businesses to be reduced, to subject that it might make somebody field good to know that somebody else is paying higher taxes, that's a cruel thing to do when you're hurting somebody. The whole point of high tax rates is so politicians can tell the middle class, are we screwing you? Not as much as that guy over there. It's the excuse they use to damage the middle class. If somebody is in the White House and hasn't read history, that's unfortunate.

BALDWIN: I heard the word "cruel" said twice here.

NORQUIST: Cruel. Cruel.

BALDWIN: Dylan, your response to Grover?

[14:54:43] DYLAN RATIGAN, STRATEGIC ADVISOR, TASTY TRADE & CHAIRMAN, HELICAN HOLDINGS: The appeal of being very simplistic with tax debate in public, in other words, cut all taxes, no matter what, is an incredibly appealing P.R. message, incredibly appealing political message. The reality is taxes are either an incentive, we are not encouraging money to be invested in American business, especially new business where job is created. It will outrage the right and, quite honestly, it will never happen.

From an actual policy standpoint, if you want to make something happened to create jobs in this country, you would drive towards tax incentives that benefit investment in business formation and discourage consumption or frivolous use of capital. So the issue is not, are you taxing the rich or the poor. If you really want to create jobs, the issue is, are you using tax policy to intelligently encourage investment in new business formation while discouraging excessive frivolous consumption. Unfortunately, that part of the tax debate never makes it onto the spear because of the appeal to raise taxes, cut taxes or leave the rich alone.

BALDWIN: Grover, Dylan is saying this would be a political win. The majority of Americans agree with the notion of taxes, say, a Bill Gates, and helping out a guy in the middle class. If he picked up Independents and reached a bipartisan agreement on something like this, don't you think it would be a win?

NORQUIST: No. The president is putting forward a significant reduction on the tax burden. There's not a single Democrat who would vote to reduce taxes overall. They'll cheerily vote to raise taxes on some people. They've been doing it all their lives. That's what Democrats do. But they also raise taxes on lower and middle-income people, as Obama did for Obamacare, massive mini taxes on middle and poor people. Gas taxes they've been pushing, energy taxes they've been pushing. They do, oh, look, we're going to tax Bill Gates over here other, the Kennedys kids over here. And while they do that, they pick the pockets of middle-income people. It's all an effort to convince people that somebody else is paying for it while they gouge the middle class. It's a standard act that politicians do. All taxes discourage whatever you are taxing. Taxing income discourages work. Why would you do that more than absolutely necessary to fund a limited government?

BALDWIN: But let's play this out.




RATIGAN: Here's where I agree with Grover. Taxed income is a bad idea, because you want people to generate income.


BALDWIN: But at the same time, you need to generate tax revenue. So where do you collect that money first? I would strongly argue that a consumption tax, especially a discretionary tax, as opposed to taxing basic necessities is a better place to begin taxing. And for that matter, a tax, a very aggressive state tax. Ultimately, there's very little evidence that the children of the rich are the best people in the world to determine how to allocate capitol. So if you can't allow income to be encouraged while discouraging idle wealth for people who don't work and idle consumption, I would say that would be a more intelligent use of tax policy.

BALDWIN: I appreciate you guys. Let's play this on you and we'll go. Steve Bannon pitches this idea, Dylan, to the president. President Trump then says, what?

RATIGAN: President Trump, who know. What president Trump says changing from one hour to the next. But I'm sure what Trump says to Steve Bannon is, explain to me how we do this and how we win by doing this, and he's all ears. There's no evidence that Donald Trump is not an ideologue or who believes in any policy of any kind. He's an impulsive opportunist who changes from one hour to the next.

BALDWIN: Grover, what do you think? Same question, what does Trump do.

NORQUIST: Sure. Trump has very consistently said he wants to reduce tax rates on everyone, bring business taxes down to create more jobs and opportunity. He's committed to abolishing the death tax, abolishing the alternative minimum tax to dramatically increase the per capita, or the exemption for individuals from 6,000 up to 12 for an individual


NORQUIST: -- from 12 to 24 for a family of four.

BALDWIN: So, he says no?

NORQUIST: This is not going anywhere. It's a distraction. It's an unfortunate distraction, because it's a cruel joke on middle income people to think that killing their jobs helps them.

BALDWIN: Grover Norquist, Dylan Ratigan, thank you both so much.

You are watching CNN on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.

Just one day after tweeting himself body slamming the media, President Trump is now back to White House business, trading his Twitter for the phone. The president had calls with leaders in these different countries today. They will all be meeting at the end of the week in person during the critical G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. This is where the president will come face to face --