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Report: 44 States Now Defying Trump Voter Fraud Probe; Chris Christie's Career Hits a Low; U.S. Says North Korean Missile Probably Long-Range ICBM. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 4, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[15:30:00] MYRNA PEREZ, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, BRENNAN CENTER'S DEMOCRACY PROGRAM: I think the commission put the states in a terrible position. One, it caused a bunch of legal problems for them because again they can't enforce their own laws about how you maintain certain privacy aspects of the voter rolls, notwithstanding the fact that in some ways they're public. Two, it created a political problem for them. Voters do not understand why some politician in Kansas is asking for their social security number. They know that the voter rolls can be inspected, but this feels funny. It feels invasive. All the military members that are suddenly getting identified as military members and having their addresses, and so to put that on these states is putting them in an untenable position.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: No, I know, and I just could hear the White House saying it's not just some politician in White House, it's Kris Kobach. That is what they would say. Myrna, thank you so much. We'll stay on it and see what happens. 44 are saying no, does this even happen? We don't even know yet. Thank you very much for coming in on the holiday.

But let's talk Chris Christie. Absolutely unapologetic, the new jersey governor, once a Republican star, caught on camera relaxing in the sun on a state-run beach that he himself closed because of this budget battle with New Jersey lawmakers. He didn't close beaches on just any summer weekend, keep in mind. This is the fourth of July. Perhaps the summer's biggest celebration, and social media criticism exploded. Here is how Chris Christie dismissed it.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: Sitting there with a baseball hat and shorts and a t-shirt, talking to my wife and talking to our guests. I don't apologize for it. I don't back away from it. And I think my poll numbers show that I don't care about political optics. Now if they had flown that plane over that beach and I was sitting next to a 25-year-old blonde in that beach chair next to me, that's a story.


BALDWIN: That's a sound bite of the day. Shermichael Singleton is with us. He's a CNN political commentator and a Republican strategist. Shermichael, my goodness. How the mighty have fallen. I mean, I remember hurricane sandy and the embrace between President Obama, Governor Christie, that was a real moment and at one point, he was seen as White House material, Republicans were begging him to run.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He was, Brooke, and if you recall, he also was the chairman of the Republican's Governors Association. I mean, Governor Christie for a lot of Republicans, particularly establishment Republicans, was someone that a lot of us looked to, including myself, as a potential candidate for the White House. And what you have seen is a complete fall from grace. I believe his approval rating is around 15 percent, the lowest of any governor in 20 years and it's honestly sad when you look at it, Brooke, because at this point, I watch the press conference and I've read several articles about it, and what it shows is that it's someone who's given up.

He's essentially given up. He ran for president and he failed. He wanted to be an appointment by President Trump. Jared Kushner made sure that did not occur. And now his own state has had a government shutdown, which does not look good for him who's had a career where he said I'm a strong leader, a decisive leader. Well, Mr. Governor, if you're such a strong leader, you should have been able to work with your state legislator to keep government open and unfortunately, he was not able to do so.

BALDWIN: But Shermichael, help me understand this. When you think of Governor Christie, he was blunt and let me tell it how it is before even candidate Trump, you know, rolled on to the map. And so, you know, the whole, let Trump by Trump, this is a man who wound up in the White House. But Chris Christie, being Chris Christie, left him with that 15 percent approval rating and on an empty beach. Why?

SINGLETON: Well, look, I think New Jersey is slightly different. I would not use New Jersey as an example to extrapolate across the entire country, which would indicate why President Trump did so well with his brash style.

[15:35:00] BALDWIN: But you know what I'm saying.

SINGLETON: And I guess one could correlate, he's similar to Trump, why is his approval rating at 15 percent. I was talking to a good friend of mine and she mentioned something that I did not think about as a Republican and mostly in my moments of reflection, I had to deeply think about this. A lot of people in this country are so sick and tired about what's going on in government, they're tired of leaders who are saying it's my way or the highway, I know what is good for you, I know what's best for you, and if you look nationally across the country, a lot of Americans are upset with president Trump because of that same attitude. We're divided. There's a lot of division. There's a lot of strife and I think new jersey is representative of the country by and large.

BALDWIN: Maybe that is where some of this angst and frustration is coming to, just using new jersey as this microcosm. Shermichael Singleton, we'll see what happens to him in a couple months when he is out of this office. Happy holiday to you.

Thank you. We do have more on our breaking news today on North Korea claiming it has successfully tested this long-range missile for the first time. And the U.S. official says it probably did. My next guest lays out what President Trump has to learn from this and what few options he really has to respond.


BALDWIN: North Korea's bid to hit the United States with a nuclear missile has just taken an unprecedented step forward. North Korea now claiming that it successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM, something a U.S. official now says is probable.

[15:30:00] Though it's not yet confirmed, the missile may have landed right around here. It's about 200 miles off of Japan's coast. In the hours after the launch, the president responded by mocking Kim Jong-un on Twitter, asking if he, quote, has anything better to do with his life.

To discuss, I've got David Sanger with me today. CNN political and national security analyst. He has been writing about North Korea for 30 years for the "New York Times." David Sanger, nice to see you. Let's talk about this. Because we're hearing now that, you know, experts are saying it's likely a two-stage ICBM. It was the highest altitude ever reached by any North Korean missile, so in your assessment, does this officially put the U.S. on notice?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It pretty much does. This is exactly the pace we thought they'd be on, Brooke, but it's just moving faster than I think most American intelligence officials suspected that it would. The fact that it landed only 500 miles or so from where it took off is not the meaningful statistic here. It's, as you indicated, that it went to such incredible height, about 1,700 miles in just a very sharp parabola, and if you flatten that out, you'd get to something that could reach Alaska. Couldn't reach Hawaii. Couldn't reach Los Angeles. But clearly, given the kind of about 1,700 miles in just a very sharp parabola, and if you flatten that out, you'd get to something that could reach Alaska. Couldn't reach Hawaii. Couldn't reach Los Angeles. But clearly, given the kind of progress they've made, that day may not be all that far away.

BALDWIN: That day may not be all that far away because the real fear is having a missile with this kind of range but then also miniaturize a nuclear warhead and attach it. You wrote a piece for "The New York Times" today where you said Kim Jong-un could probably do this in the next few years, David. So, what is the U.S. to do about that?

SANGER: Well, there are a couple of ways to think about this, Brooke. One is, we've been within range of Russian previously with that soviet missiles, Chinese missiles, for some time. Decades. And we followed a path called containment. The reason we don't want to follow that path with North Korea is we don't believe they're necessarily rational actors. But more importantly, anything that we would try to do in the pacific to come to the aid of our allies, the calculus would change by virtue of the fact that we know that they could well possibly reach our shores. And we don't have that much confidence in our missile defenses. So that's what's driven every American president to look at this problem. And then when they look at it, what they discover is that the cost of doing an attack on their missile or nuclear facilities is so high, including the potential counterattack on Seoul, which you'd probably lose a city of 10 million people, that no American president's been willing to do it.

BALDWIN: Yikes. You saw the president's response. I read the tweet. I think this is before we knew this was this ICBM where he said, does this guy have anything better to do with his life. You know, you've been covering the leaders in North Korea. How does that sit with Kim Jong-un? Does the president appreciate the threat?

SANGER: Well, you know, I think Kim Jong-un would say, no, I don't have anything better to do with my life because this is all about survival for Kim Jong-un. His view of the world is completely different than ours. His view is that the United States is out to topple his regime. He looks at a country like Libya, which gave up most of its nuclear technology. It was in a very nascent stage. And then when the people turned against him, the United States as allies came in and helped finish him off. He said, I'm not going to do that. So, when we go into this discussion of having a negotiation, which I think may well be the only option the United States has left, but the goal of the negotiation is to get Kim Jong-un to give up all of his nuclear weapons and his missiles, which is the refrain of many American administrations, that's not likely to happen. He views this as his only ticket to survival.

BALDWIN: But what about China? Because you know, what was it, a couple of weeks ago and the tweet from Trump and how he had been trying, but it wasn't so successful with North Korea, but today, we know that Putin and Xi met. Where does president Trump stand in this whole world leader triangle?

SANGER: Well, President Trump's had quite an education in the past six or seven months. When I interviewed him during the campaign, he said, China can solve this problem overnight. And when he met Xi Jinping down at his resort in Florida, the president said, I'm pretty confident Xi Jinping will solve this problem for us. He's now not so confident.

[15:45:00] And he's not confident about it because he has discovered what each one of his predecessors have discovered. The Chinese don't want North Korea to have a nuclear weapon but they really don't want chaos on their borders, they don't want a collapsed North Korea, they don't want South Korea and American allies against the Chinese border.

And as a result, they're not likely to push Kim Jong-un to truly give anything up. And Kim Jong-un knows this. He's figured it out just as his father and grandfather figured it out, so the Chinese influence may be great, but I don't think the Chinese are willing to use it. And that's what will make this meeting between president Trump and President Xi and then a separate one between president Trump and Vladimir Putin at the end of the week in Hamburg so interesting.

BALDWIN: You are good, David Sanger. You are good. Thank you so much.

Coming up next -- thank you.

Coming up, the pope steps up his support for the parents of a terminally ill baby in the U.K. making a big, big offer today. We'll talk to a leading expert in medical ethics about this just heartbreaking story.


BALDWIN: A British baby at 11 months old and dying of a terminal illness is raising questions all around the world over how far medical science should go to prolong life and now the pope is offering the Vatican Hospital as a possible means of keeping Charlie Gard on life support. This offer comes after the European court of human rights ruled in favor of a London hospital and its decision to turn off the machines that keep baby Charlie alive. The Vatican Hospital releasing this statement, we know that this is a desperate case and apparently there is no effective therapy. We are close to his parents with our prayers and if they wish so, we are ready to welcome their child in our structure for the time he has left to live.

I want to bring in Jonathan Moreno, he's a director at the Pennsylvania Center for Biomedical Ethics. If you were advising this mother and father, just from what you know, what you've read about this case, what would you have them do?

JOHNATHAN MORENO, DIRECTOR, PENNSYLVANIA CENTER FOR BIOMEDICAL ETHICS: You know, the tragedy here, Brooke, is not only that this is a baby that is dying but also that this has gotten to this point. I mean, what normally happens when a baby is dying in the hospital is that the hospital does a full court press, brings in clergy, brings in counselors, meets with the family. I believe what is happening right now, Brooke, is that they are trying to plan with the parents how this baby will die. You know, will it be disconnected from the ventilator, and then the mother and the father can cradle the baby while he's dying. I have a feeling that's what's going to happen now.

BALDWIN: We know President Trump has also stepped in. Apparently, the White House is in touch with these parents. He's also saying, hey, we'd love to help you here in the U.S. I mean, Jonathan, is it such a bad thing that the U.S. has a reputation of wanting to help prolong a life at any cost?

MORENO: Well, you could perfectly well understand that everybody wants to show compassion. Lot of ways my guess is that the doctors prolong a life at any cost?

Well, you could perfectly well understand that everybody wants to show compassion. Lot of ways my guess is that the doctors, very uncharacteristically for doctors to take care of a very sick baby, feel that going full bore and extending the life of this baby may be causing the baby suffering right now rather than helping the baby. And that's a very hard, intricate balance and they believe -- I think the doctors believe that really the best interests of the baby do not involve extending his life.

BALDWIN: Do you even know if there is a hospital or a specialty center here in the U.S. that specializes in might mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome?

[15:50:00] MORENO: There is one that tries to learn more by seeing this baby, but in general the talk of transfer happens in these cases, but then when you come down to it, it really doesn't happen. The transfer turns out not to be possible for one reason or another, the baby may not survive the transfer. I'm afraid really what we're talking about now is keeping the baby comfortable, and as the doctors seem to believe, making sure that the baby does not suffer unnecessarily.

BALDWIN: Finally, from a sheer human standpoint, and I know we're both thinking of the parents here, they know their little baby is going to die. How do you prepare for that?

MORENO: Well, Brooke, what's unusual about this is that it's become such a public matter. And I feel like the parents -- it's harder for them because there are these very generous offers that are being made and are emotionally complicated and probably complicating for them. That's why it would be the best thing as always to keep as close to the patient and within the confines of the family and the caregivers as possible. I do think that's what they're trying to do right now, is to draw together and be supportive for the baby's sake.

BALDWIN: Our thoughts to that family, Jonathan Moreno. Thanks very much.

Coming up next here, a critical victory in the fight to push ISIS from Syria. U.S.-backed forces breaking past a key wall now advancing deeper into the terror group stronghold in Raqqa. CNN takes you there next.


BALDWIN: Fourth of July parades and celebrations are under way across the country. For a number of the congressmen, the controversial health care bill is hanging over their heads and they're hearing about it from their constituents. This is where people are gathering over Senator Pat Toomey's office, meantime in Maine, Susan Collins has expressed concerns about the Medicaid and Planned Parenthood funding cuts. She talked briefly to reporters after walking in a parade today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For all talk of when senators can go back to their districts, they'll hear about it, what, in fact, are you hearing from your constituents?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: What I've been hearing the entire recess is people telling me to be strong, that they have a lot of concerns about the health care bill in the senate, they want me to keep working on it, but they don't want me to support it in its current form.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I saw when I was walking with you was it was almost like 100 percent. I heard nothing to the contrary. Does that surprise you at all?

COLLINS: It really doesn't. Maine is a state that's really heavily dependent on Medicaid funding. When people realize that the senate bill over the next two decades would reduce funding by 35 percent, they know that it affects their rural hospitals, it affects the rural nursing homes and that it would affect the most vulnerable of our citizens. So, I found that Mainers are very well informed about the legislation and they're deeply concerned about what it's going to mean for themselves and their neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still in the know.

COLLINS: I'm still in the know unless the bill is dramatically changed.


BALDWIN: Congress comes back from recess next week.

Gunfire in the streets of Raqqa as U.S.-backed forces close in on the self-declared is capital of Syria. They just breached an ancient wall, a big strategic blow. CNN senior national correspondent Nick Paton Walsh on the push to penetrate the heart of the city. Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, it is potentially a key moment in the move to take Raqqa. It's about 8 kilometers and 6 miles long, the wall, and goes around the whole city in the heart of Raqqa. They said they breached two substantial holes in that wall enabling the group of Syrian Kurdish and area fighters for support to push on through and basically go past all the booby traps and defense positions that Iraq laid out there. They've moved in very quickly in the last month or so, and they're now, it seems, about 3 kilometers away from the city center. The question really is, is this pace of progress going to sustain, or are they going to get bogged down in the dense urban areas of Raqqa?

There seems to be less civilians inside, for example, in Mosul and Iraq, people that have to deal with booby traps. There could be 150,000 less, but most important about 2500 is fighters. That's not very many given the sheer ranks of opposition fighters around the American fire power at play right now. It could be lengthy, it could be bloody, but so far it seems to move quite quickly and Raqqa has lost its power center in Iraq and Syria. Still some distance off, though, Brooke.

BALDWIN: That does it for me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Happy fourth.