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North Korea Threatens U.S. With "Firm Action" Over Sanctions; Officials: Police Foil Plot To Bring Down Airplane; Could Sessions Be Moved To Department of Homeland Security?; Proposed Education Overhaul; Scout Leaders Apologize for President Trump's Speech Rhetoric; Major Vote Could Mark Turning Point For Venezuela. Aired 6- 7a ET

Aired July 30, 2017 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people believe that President Trump would slide Attorney General Jeff Sessions over to Homeland Security to replace new Chief of Staff John Kelly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump remains unhappy with Jeff Sessions as attorney general and Jeff Sessions isn't planning to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has been a major joint counterterrorism operation to disrupt a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane. They believe a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane was, quote, "Islamic inspired."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Venezuela is hours away from a boat that could further undermine the country's democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government banned protests but that didn't stop some demonstrators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyday people like you and me going out on the streets and using improvised explosives to makeshift bombs.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I have a boa constrictor stuck to my, my face.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Ma'am, you have a what?


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: So grateful to have your company as always. New this morning, North Korea is threatening the U.S. with, quote, "firm actions" if sanctions against North Korean regime continue.

Now President Trump blasted China over North Korea's latest missile test tweeting his disappointment with Beijing for not reining in Pyongyang.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this one, this is actually on the same day as two U.S B1 bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force. And just hours after President Trump's tweets.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is presiding over a massive military display and China is not the only country flexing its military muscles. Russia is showing off its fire power holding its annual Navy Day show.

PAUL: And back in Washington, the speculation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could possibly replace John Kelly as Homeland Security chief, but South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says that is a bad idea.

We want to cover all of that. First though, we do want to get to CNN's Will Ripley in China. Will, you are live for us and help us understand

what North Korea's threat means to the U.S.? What are they saying?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's really been a lot breaking just within the last hour, Christi. I want to read you part of this message, this warning from North Korea just within the last hour.

They said, "The U.S. needs to stop with its delusion of trying to harm us by clearly understanding the strategic status of the DPRK, which soared up as the world's nuclear and missile power and our military and people's strong will to revenge our enemies to destruction."

This warning coming after North Korea tested an ICBM that puts much of the mainland U.S. within striking range. President Trump last night tweeting very angry apparently with China for not doing more to stop, solve the North Korea problem.

The president saying, quote, "I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions a dollar a year in trade and yet they do nothing for us with North Korea. Just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem."

Now this is a dramatic shift for President Trump, who had been praising President Xi ever since their meeting in the United States back in April with a series of tweets and very positive tweets about the Chinese president.

And there were even these words that he said in France just two weeks ago. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, he is a friend of mine. I have great respect for him. We have gotten to know each other very well. A great leader. He's a very talented man. I think he's a very good man. He loves China. I can tell you he loves China. He wants to do what is right for China. We have asked him for some assistance with respect to North Korea. Probably he could do a little bit more but we will find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RIPLEY: But something is certainly shifted for President Trump two ICBM launches by North Korea within the last month. Chinese President Xi Jinping giving a speech during the overnight hours in the U.S. presiding over a massive military parade in Mongolia.

China has a policy of not directly responding to President Trump's provocative tweets. He has tweeted negatively about China before most recently in March ahead of Secretary Tillerson's visit to Beijing.

So, the Chinese president not talking about Trump, North Korea, but he did say that it's very important at this critical tense time that the People's Liberation Army in China continue to strengthen.

He rolled out a huge arsenal of increasing advanced weaponry including stealth jets that are designed to challenge U.S. fighters in terms of supremacy and disguised and also try rolling out its own nuclear capable ICBMs.

[06:05:02] Over the weekend North Korea testing its latest ICBM believed to be the most advanced in that country's history. The test overseen by North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

This weapon, Victor and Christi, analysts say could hit the west coast of the United States and cities far east as Chicago with all of the mainland U.S. probably in striking range by early next year.

PAUL: All right. Will Ripley, thank you so much for walking us through the developments here within the last couple of hours. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: President Trump is slamming China on Twitter as we said. He said that "I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade. Yet they do nothing for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem."

Let's talk now. With us is Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, and Julian Zelizer, CNN political analyst and historian and professor at Princeton University. Good morning to you.

Julian, let me start with you. The president has said many times that President Obama's era of strategic patience is over. Will this era of strategic impatience does not seem to be working with North Korea?

Next up, what is on the table to match the rhetoric from the president we are seeing this weekend?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we don't know. This has been now the strategy for some time, diplomacy or threats via tweets, trying to put pressure on China through intimidation to do something, but what we are seeing is the actual threat keeps increasing, not decreasing.

And so now we are entering a situation where you have military exercises, where the level of the rhetoric is escalating, and there is concern that the next step is some kind of military response, rather than a diplomatic response.

BLACKWELL: Well, so many have said that a military response would be catastrophic especially for South Korea with their capital, Seoul, just a few miles away from the DMZ.

But Errol, let me come to you. The president in this pair of tweets tied both the dissatisfaction with China's action on North Korea with trade with the U.S. Is there potentially some trade war coming? We know when Mnuchin announced the latest sanctions against a Chinese bank last month, he was quick to say this is not against China just the bank. Could that be changing?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if it were to change, it's unclear how it would necessarily change anything with North Korea. The reality is this is a campaign line that we've heard from then Candidate Trump for months and months and month, and always got a big cheer out of the crowd.

His critics would point out that Donald Trump's ties are made in China so if he wanted to enact some kind of revenge against them as far as trade maybe he could start that at home.

But you know, if you're talking about China being pressured by the United States to do something about a sometime ally that is right on its border and that would present a humanitarian catastrophe if North Korea were to collapse, it's a very delicate, dangerous situation much more so for China.

On the other hand, they do want a strong and fully armed North Korea on their border. Make no mistake about it, it's not as if this happened under China's nose and they didn't want any of this to go on. So, we are going to have to see something a little more complex from the president and from the White House if they really want to back China down.

BLACKWELL: There has been this vacillation between conciliatory comments about Xi Jinping and then criticizing him this way on Twitter. We'll see if there is a more consistent strategy as we move forward. Errol, Julian, stick with us. We have a lot more to talk about.

PAUL: A show of military might by Russia this morning as well. The nation bringing back its annual Navy parade displaying hundreds of ships and aircrafts.

BLACKWELL: Russian President Vladimir Putin says it's not a show of force but instead his country reviving a century's old tradition. This comes as the U.S. asks Russia for more details after Russia announced plans to force more than 700 American diplomats to leave the country. All of this stemming from a Russian sanctions bill, which is currently on the president's desk.

PAUL: There is heightened security this morning at Australia's airports after police say they have stopped a terrorist plot to bring down a plane. Four people were arrested in overnight raids in Sydney. Now investigators say the plan was Islamist inspired and included using an improvised device.

CNN international correspondent, Anna Coren joins us live from the Sydney airport. Anna, what are you hearing there about how detailed and advanced this plot could have been?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, certainly this is being described as an elaborate and credible conspiracy to blow up an Australian plane, killing innocent civilians. This plot was foiled by Australian police which led to raids across the city involving heavily armed counterterrorism officers.

[06:10:02] They raided five reports and arresting four men. Those men have not been charged as yet under Australian terrorism laws. They can be held without charge for a week. So, police obviously are working very hard to gather information and make that case concrete.

We are learning that suspicious devices have been found at some of those properties and certainly that this will be an ongoing operation, could potentially last for days. Now, obviously, airport security has been significantly increased.

We have seen police here, which you don't normally see in these sorts of numbers and obviously additional baggage security is now in place. We spoke to some of the passengers traveling and while they are not deterred from traveling they say that they are on heightened alert. Let's take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got confidence in the security systems and the staff and we have watched TV quite a lot today and quite confident that they are doing everything they need to do to make sure that everybody is safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, a bit nervous but at the end of the day, you trust the people doing their jobs. We don't mind coming a bit early to get the right scans done so that sort of stuff doesn't happen.


COREN: Some other passengers that we spoke to said that they are used to seeing this play out overseas, not here in Australia on home soil. But the government says that this is the 15th significant foiled terror plot in the country.

We have to remember that there has been a sharp increase in the number of terror cells and home-grown terrorists since 2014 who are ISIS- inspired. You have to say, Christi, that there are significant concerns that because this involves planes and airports that this plot is far more elaborate and far more sophisticated which then could have ties to overseas networks. Obviously, something police are investigating.

PAUL: Very good point. Anna Coren, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, with General John Kelly in as the new White House chief of staff, could Attorney General Jeff Sessions be moved over to the Department of Homeland Security? We will talk about that possibility.

PAUL: Also, as students start going back to school this week, there is a battle brewing over the future public education. At the center of it? Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

BLACKWELL: Also outrage over the president's speech to the scouts still creating some reaction despite an apology from the national scout leader. Hear why some scouts say this apology is not enough and what was said that was so offensive by the president.


TRUMP: As the scout law says, a scout is trustworthy, loyal. We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.




PAUL: Take a look at that, sunrise in D.C. It's going to be a beautiful day.

BLACKWELL: Look at the White House here and there is a gentleman who has the first day at work tomorrow there at the White House. We are talking about Secretary John Kelly. The general starts his new position there as chief of staff tomorrow which leaves that vacancy over at the Department of Homeland Security.

But now there is a report that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could be moved over to fill that void at DHS. A move that some Republicans are saying is a bad idea. Here is CNN correspondent, Dianne Gallagher.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a wild theory being tossed around by politicos and talking heads right now. So, we should be clear, there is no evidence to suggest that this is anything more than that right now.

But it is something that Senator Lindsey Graham is already trying to pour water on in two retweets of an article talking about this possibility. Graham first applauded Sessions' credentials as attorney general and then he wrote, "DHS Secretary Jeff Sessions doesn't sound right, doesn't feel right, bad idea."

Look, Graham obviously is trying to get out ahead of this here. So essentially some people believe that President Trump could slide Attorney General Jeff Sessions over to Homeland Security to replace new Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Now Trump has made it no secret that he is not exactly happy with the attorney general for recusing himself from the Russian investigation amongst some other things. Trump's treatment of Sessions has angered conservatives, who genuinely like the former Alabama senator and they think that he is doing a good job.

So, this theory contends that if Trump moves Sessions to Homeland Security either immediately as the acting secretary or officially nominated him for the job that the president could satisfy Republicans and he could pick a new attorney general who would then be able to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Now the man that Trump, of course, has repeatedly said is on a witch hunt against him. So, yes, we are talking long game here but, look, this could all be legal if the president actually wanted to make Sessions the permanent secretary of homeland security, he would have to either do a recess appointment or he would have to nominate him so Sessions would need to be confirmed by the Senate again.

But under the Vacancies Act, since Sessions is already a confirmed presidential appointed government employee, Sessions could temporarily serve as the acting secretary for up to 210 days while the president is searching for a permanent replacement.

And there are all sorts of circumstances that could extend even double that time period. Now if Trump were to officially nominate Sessions, he couldn't be the acting secretary because he comes from a different department, but again, remember all of this right now is just a theory. Diane Gallagher, CNN, Washington.

PAUL: Errol Louis and Julian Zelizer, back with us here. All right, Gentlemen, Errol, want to go to you first because it's a theory, but it's a strong enough theory that Senator Graham is talking about it. How plausible is it that something like this could happen?

LOUIS: That is very plausible just from the point of view of clearly what the president wants sis to get Sessions out of the Justice Department.

[06:20:11] I think we have all sort of game this out and we've seen every sign from the president personally that what he wants is for somebody to step in and fire Robert Mueller and halt the investigation.

If this is the easiest way to do it, it seems a little bit crazy in a way to sort of play with the lives of Americans to have Americans' security subject to these political winds blowing through the White House but that is where we are.

PAUL: You say it's an easy way to do it. But Julian, it wouldn't necessarily be that easy. I mean, would it? In fact, let's get to what Senator Graham said about this effort. I think we have some sound here.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This effort to basically marginalize and humiliate the attorney general is not going over well in the Senate. I don't think is going over well in the conservative world if Jeff Sessions is fired. There will be holy hell to pay. Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.


PAUL: So Errol, you're right on paper it looks like an easy shift, so to speak. Julian, not so much so. People are already paying attention and they do not like it.

ZELIZER: Right. Senator Grassley has also warned that he is not in favor of confirmation hearings if this is what he does. Senator Graham has issued very strong warnings against this because everyone in Washington understands that if this is what he does, the reason is to try to go after Mueller and people have very little appetite for this. So, the politics is much harder than the actual process which might give the president some leeway.

PAUL: What is the status of Mueller's investigation, Errol? Do we have a good grasp on that?

LOUIS: No, we don't. In fact, in a town, in an administration where leaking is sort of a daily hindrance to what it is they want to do, Mueller is showing how it should be done which is that you hire professional staff, you support them, you make sure that your morale is at a level that people are focused on a mission and not on back stabbing each other.

So, very little has come out about this investigation. Most of what we hear, in fact, seemed to be coming from the White House, from the reflective impact of the investigation which is that the president seems to be getting very nervous, has been attacking the attorney general, has been attacking the investigation, the Democrats, and everybody involved.

Which suggests that as the team starts making its probe, its initial investigation, as it starts gathering documents and so forth, there is something here that the White House does not like very much at all.

PAUL: Julian, we have been seeing this White House in crisis internally so t/to speak this week. I shouldn't say everything but many things are somewhat calm despite what we are seeing from North Korea this morning. How does a White House in crisis react to a true crisis, if it happens?

ZELIZER: Well, that is the big question. We have seen how the White House reacts to a domestic crisis in terms of policy. We have just watched this unfold with the health care bill, and it didn't go very well.

In the end, the White House wasn't able to do what it needed to do to get this legislation through and that kind of crisis, the president failed in term of leadership. And so now we see what is brewing potentially the first major international crisis.

And we don't know how this kind of chaos in the oval office, this kind of unpredictability in the oval office translates into handling a very real military threat overseas. This is not the atmosphere that we had in the White House during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 so I think everybody is watching.

PAUL: Errol Louis and Julian Zelizer, always appreciate your insights. Thank you.

PAUL: So, make sure to tune in for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper today as well. Republican Senator Susan Collins who voted against the health repeal is on his show. Jake will also talk with Senator Bernie Sanders. That is on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: The Trump administration wants to cut billions from the Department of Education and give more than a billion dollars to school choice programs. Next, we will take about the plan and the controversial education secretary charged with making it happen.

PAUL: Also some are still reeling from the president's speech in front of 40,000 scouts earlier in the week. One eagle scout has a lot to say in response.



PAUL: Breaking news this hour, the U.S. just conducted a THAD missile test from Alaska shooting down a medium ranged target ballistic missile over the Pacific. This was the 15th successful intercept in 15 tests for the weapon system.

This is happening as North Korea sent a warning to the U.S. just this morning saying if Washington continues to claim to, quote, "strong sanctions," they will respond with, quote, "firm action."

After President Trump blasted China over Pyongyang's latest missile test. On the same day, two U.S. B-1 bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.

Also, just hours after President Trump's tweet, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over a massive military display. We should point out, Russia is also showing off its fire power. Russian President Vladimir Putin watching over the annual Navy Day show earlier today.

BLACKWELL: Students across the country are starting to go back to class this week.

[06:30:06] It feels like this gets earlier and earlier every year! It's just the beginning of August soon.

Well, this will be the start of the year for the first school year of the Trump administration. Now, the president has promised major changes. Changes his secretary of education has pushed for decades.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLACKWELL (voice-over): She is loved by some and loathed by others. Education Betsy DeVos is one of President Donald Trump's more controversial cabinet secretaries. She was confirmed by a slimmest margin possible. A tie breaker vote cast by the Vice President Mike Pence.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The vice president votes in the affirmative and the nomination is confirmed.

BLACKWELL: Since then she has pushed to expanding school choice and voucher programs allowing more federal money to be spent on charter, private and church sponsored schools. Critics say at the expense of traditional public schools.

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: I believe we must change the way we think about funding education and invest in children, not in buildings.

BLACKWELL: In addition to his proposed 9.2 billion dollar cut to the education department, President Trump wants to shift an additional 1.4 billion dollars to school choice programs in his budget, limits on that money have become a sticking point. At a congressional hearing in May, Secretary DeVos refused to say whether federal funds would be blocked from schools that discriminated against students on the basis of things like race or gender identity.

REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D), CONNECTICUT: There is no situation of discrimination or exclusion, that if a state approved it for its voucher program, that you would step in and say that is not how we are going to use our federal dollars.

DEVOS: The bottom line is we believe that parents are the best equipped to make choices for their children's schooling and education decisions.

BLACKWELL: DeVos says she does not support discrimination and that schools receiving federal money must adhere to federal law but federal law does not explicitly protect the rights of all LGBT students.

In June the independent U.S. Commission on Civil Rights launched an administration wide investigation highlighting Secretary DeVos' testimony and proposed staffing cuts to the education department's office for civil rights. The DeVos hire who heads that office, acting director Candice Jackson says changes are coming.

During the Obama administration the office began releasing names of colleges and universities under investigation for their handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints. Jackson calls it a list of shame adding that, "Our job isn't to threaten, punish or facilitate drawing media or public attention."


BLACKWELL: So let's talk more about school choice. There is a 2015 Stanford study that looked at charter school performance. It found that in 41 urban regions, here are the numbers. More than half the students in charter schools had math scores that were the same or worse than students in traditional public schools, 62 percent scored the same or worse in reading.

Now I spoke with Lily Eskelsen Garcia, National Education Association President, and Richard Zimmer, a former congressman from New Jersey, school choice advocate, just a few days ago. And I started by asking, does that performance justify the proposed investment?


RICHARD ZIMMER, FORMER NEW JERSEY CONGRESSMAN, SCHOOL CHOICE ADVOCATE: I wouldn't look just at the Stanford study. There are -- the best charter schools provide measurably better education than the traditional public schools in their area.

BLACKWELL: So, Lily, let me come to you. Overall, across all grades, we found that implementing any of the school improvement grant funded models had no significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment. So just injecting money into failing schools doesn't seem to be the answer.

LILY ESKELSEN GARCIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: It's very simple. Anybody could do this without a federal grant. Go into the best public schools in your state.

Anybody can do that. Go in and walk around and see what they have got there to help those kids it. Gifted programs, athletics, art.

They've got a library. They've got a librarian. That is like finding a unicorn in some schools.

And they've got the staff and they've got the programs. Kids have access and opportunity.

BLACKWELL: Well, Secretary DeVos has been advocating for school choice for a very long time now, especially in her home state of Michigan. She and her husband through their philanthropic work.

And I wanted to listen to something she said in the past couple of months, Congressman, and it really pricked (ph) a lot of people. Her comparison here with school choice and ride sharing. Watch this.


DEVOS: Just like the traditional taxi system revolted against ride sharing, so, too, does the education establishment feel threatened by the rise of school choice. Nobody mandates that you take an Uber or Lyft over a taxi, nor should they. But if you think ride sharing is the best option for you, the government shouldn't get in your way.



BLACKWELL: What did she mean by that, Congressman, from your perspective? Because state constitutions don't guarantee a cheap and comfortable ride to a restaurant but they do guarantee free public education.

ZIMMER: Yes, they do. And the best way to promote a free education is to have competition. And the problem is that in our intercities particularly, we have very low graduation rates for blacks, for Hispanics. And those parents deserve a choice.

I understand why Lily wants more money spent but the fact is that we have got -- we have tripled our expenditures on an after inflation basis in the last 40 years and we haven't seen comparable results.

BLACKWELL: And let me -- I want to move on to another issue. I want to talk about discrimination specifically and why Secretary DeVos, not during her confirmation or months later during discussions with members of Congress, testimony over the proposed budget, has not said specifically that no federal money will go to charter schools as part of any voucher program or any scholarships funded by the federal government, any school that discriminates on an admission rates on race or LGBT status or special needs. Why hasn't she said that explicitly?

ZIMMER: Well, she should say that but she is a strong proponent of devolving education responsibility to local school districts and to states and that was -- what she didn't want federal government to be dictating the policy but I think that in those respects she is wrong.

BLACKWELL: Now, Lily, you sent a letter to DeVos a couple of months ago and you've given her to -- until September to respond and if she doesn't respond you said she should respond.

Now, I should say that the NEA has called for a President Obama's first secretary of education resigned, President Bush's first secretary of education resigned. But you said that you're not willing to work with her. How can you get anything that you want accomplished to actually come to fruition if you don't work with the secretary?

GARCIA: This isn't partisan for us. We just care about doing the right things for students. And when we have a secretary of education, as you just said, who won't clearly state that she will not support federal funding for schools that discriminate, when she says that she won't support making sure that you don't privatize things like special education and after-school programs that are being cut. We don't see where we can work with someone who cannot clearly say, I will protect all students.

For us, that is job one. All students, all children deserve a safe place to go to school and we believe that they deserve to go to a school that is well resourced and has everything they need. Access and opportunity.

BLACKWELL: Lily Eskelsen Garcia, former Congressman Dick Zimmer. Thank you both for being part of the conversation.

ZIMMER: My pleasure.

GARCIA: Pleasure.


PAUL: Well, outrage is coming from a lot of boy scouts regarding the president's words at a recent national event. Look at how many folks were there to listen to him. The question this morning, should scout leaders have known what was coming?

There is one Eagle Scout who has a lot to say about this and we are going to talk to him in a moment. Stay close.



PAUL: You know, many scouts and their families are furious over what they call political comments from the president this week. I want to give you a sampling here in case you missed it.


TRUMP: You want to achieve your dreams. I said, who the hell wants to speak about politic when I'm in front of the boy scouts, right?

As the scout law says, a scout is trustworthy, loyal. We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that. Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?


PAUL: I want to quote an Eagle Scout in his opinion piece here.

Ben Pontz wrote, "Profound disappointment barely seemed to scratch the surface of my feelings toward both President Donald Trump and the Boy Scouts of America after the president's speech at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia on Monday evening."

He is with us now. Ben Pontz, thank you so much for taking the time to be here.

A 2015 Eagle Scout from Troop 56 in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. We are so grateful to have you.

At what point during this speech that you watched that you became uncomfortable?

BEN PONTZ, FORMER BOY SCOUT: Well, I think that the president, you know, obviously had prepared notes and I think that, you know, much of his message was something that is very appropriate and something that, you know, we hoped that the president is telling the boy scouts.

But, you know, in the middle of the speech, he started talking about how the former president had not made it to a jamboree how, you know, we better make sure that Obamacare gets pass. Just sorts of things that I don't really think are appropriate to be talking to a group of 12 to 18-year-olds, most of whom aren't even old enough to vote frankly.

PAUL: So you wrote something else. And I'm going to quote it here.

You said, "I am disappointed in the president for exploiting a captive audience of young people to engage in flagrant self-promotion and to widen the chasm of division that pollutes our politics."

But I would say, too, John Rowell, a former boy scout who was interviewed by the "Star Tribune," said he was as disappointed by the lack of respect from the scout leaders.

He wrote, "It didn't matter what the speaker said. I identified it as an enormous failure of the leadership by the adults who were there."


Do you share that sentiment? Do you believe that the scout leaders failed in some way?

PONTZ: I don't know about that, necessarily. I do think that, you know, from the perspective of the national organization, the president of the United States is always the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America, so I don't fault anyone for inviting him to speak.

And, you know, I've spoken to a friend of mine who is still in scouting and he was there and he said that the leaders, you know, were talking before and after about what would be appropriate. And, you know, in an organization, as geographically and culturally diverse as the Boy Scouts, you're going to have some differences and political opinion, but I think everyone there would have been bound by the tenants of the scout law, you know, a commitment to integrity and to wanting (ph) the outdoors. And I just wish that the president had stuck to those topics in his address.

PAUL: So what did you miss from -- if you think there was a missed opportunity for the president to really speak and reach this group of people? What was missing most to you?

PONTZ: Well, I mean, I think in a time when I don't think anyone would disagree that our politics is a pretty divisive, that the president, you know, could look to the tenets of the Boy Scouts about, you know, trust worthiness and loyalty and helpfulness and being friendly and courteous. And I think those are all ideals to which we can all aspire.

And, you know, in this time of rancor, I think those are certainly things that could bound us -- bind us together and, you know, those are some things I think the president could have focused on.

PAUL: You're a sophomore at Gettysburg College just so our viewers know. A double major in political science and public policy.

You sound a little bit like a politician yourself. Is that where you plan to go? Do you have political aspirations?

PONTZ: I don't know about that. Right now, I'm just focused on school and all that goes along with that. I -- we will see what the future hold. PAUL: All right. Well, Ben Pontz, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. I know a lot of people certainly paid attention and had their own thoughts but we appreciate -- we appreciate what you're saying to us here. Take good care.

PONTZ: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The NFL is just getting into training camp and there is already a controversy. Andy Scholes will explain, next.



PAUL: Oh, and a special major league debut for one rookie and his family.

BLACKWELL: Andy Scholes is here with this morning's "bleacher report."

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hey. Good morning, guys.

Troy Scribner is battling in the minor leagues for the past four years and he was actually undrafted and to go undrafted and make it all the way to the big leagues, it's a very hard thing to do. And Scribner called up on Friday by the Angels. Made his debut yesterday and his family was not going to miss this day for the world but getting there for them was not easy.

This game was in Toronto. The Scribner's, they did not have passports so they had to find a place in Buffalo that fulfills last-second request. They paid the expedited fee of more than $500 per person, made it to Toronto in time for the game and I'm sure they're glad they (INAUDIBLE) Scribner pitched three innings and got the win in his very first major league game.

Finally, here we go again. Another NFL player said he does not believe that dinosaurs ever existed.

BLACKWELL: Another one?

SCHOLES: Yes. There was one last year too, Victor. This time it's Texans defensive lineman D.J. Reader and J.J Watt called him out on social media for this. He tweeted, "Our lockers have been next to each other for over a year and I just found out D.J. Reader doesn't believe in dinosaurs." He says, "Fossils are fake."

Well, Reader tweeted back at Watt, "Don't knock my theories man." And Watt finally tweeted back at him, "Just wanted to see if anyone had your back." And in parenthesis he put, "(they don't)."

PAUL: Is it all just a P.R. thing?

SCHOLES: I don't think so because we've heard this multiple times now that players don't think dinosaurs existed. This past NBA seasoning Kyrie Irving thinks the Earth is flat and he was dead serious.

PAUL: What?

SCHOLES: Some people don't think we landed on the moon. You know, this conspiracy theories are out there and it just -- the dinosaurs one is just confusing to think that all the fossils that are out there are fake.

BLACKWELL: But the rebuttal was don't knock my theories man.


BLACKWELL: That's it?


SCHOLES: That was it.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: No proof but OK. Thank you, Andy.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: All right. It's a call that few 911 operators have heard before. A woman with a snake attached to her face. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a boa constrictor stuck to my -- my face.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Madam, you have a what?




BLACKWELL: Look at the screen. More than 22,000 people were forced out of this music festival in Spain after that huge fire just took over the stage.

The Barcelona Fire Department says everyone was evacuated safely and there are no reports of injury. That is the good news.

PAUL: Concert organizers say a technical malfunction is what started this thing. Right now organizers are working with authorities and they're investigating this incident obviously.

BLACKWELL: There's a controversial election happening right now in Venezuela that could give President Nicolas Maduro sweeping new powers.

The crucial vote would allow him to replace the current national assembly which is controlled by his opponents with a new constituent or -- assembly rather -- made up of members nominated by his own administration.

PAUL: President Maduro took to Twitter this morning encouraging people to get out and vote. But opponents say they will not be going to the polls. Instead they have planned a large protest in the country's capital for later today.

BLACKWELL: Mexican authorities rescued 178 Central American migrants from an abandoned trailer. Now they were found in Veracruz State.

Many migrants running from violence and poverty in Central America travel through Veracruz headed to the U.S. Authorities say women and children are among those rescued.

They are being housed in Tantima which is about 400 miles from the Mexican border. This rescue comes least than a week after the deaths of 10 immigrants trapped inside a semi -- a semi-truck rather at a Walmart parking lot in Texas.

PAUL: And Ohio woman made a frightening call to 911 this week after a boa constrictor wrapped itself around her neck and bit her face. Obviously the operator was stunned when she answered the call but was able to quickly dispatch fire fighters and paramedics to her home.

Listen to part of this call.


UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: So the boa constrictor has a hold of your nose?


UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: Can you pry its jaw open if you pitch its jaw?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I'm trying. There's blood everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK, and it won't, and it's jaw won't open?


UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK, how big of a snake are we talking, madam?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's like five and a half feet.


PAUL: OK. Firefighters said they had to kill the snake to save the woman and she is expected to recover.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people believe that President Trump could slide Attorney General Jeff Sessions over to Homeland Security to replace new chief of staff John Kelly.