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Zephen Xaver Makes First Court Appearance Since Florida Shooting Yesterday; One-third of Kodiak, Alaska's Population Is Going Without Paychecks During Shutdown; Interview with Rep. Will Hurd (R- TX); Five Former Secretaries of Homeland Security Issue Statement Opposing Shutdown. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 24, 2019 - 10:30   ET


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it was yesterday that we were able to get in touch with the father. The father, he was clearly distraught. He was either just finished crying or he was in the middle of crying when we talked to him.

And this is what he had to say here. Saying, quote, "He wasn't raised to be like this" -- talking about his son -- "He's always been a good kid. He's had his troubles, but he has never hurt anyone ever before."

TEXT: He wasn't raised to be like this. He's always been a good kid. He's had his troubles, but he has never hurt anyone ever before.

VALENCIA: You noted, he made his first court appearance earlier this morning. He's being held without bond and facing five counts of felony homicide.

And, again, that press conference, expected to happen at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, where hopefully we'll get more details -- Poppy, Jim.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes. We appreciate the update, Nick. And, please, you know, we haven't gotten the identities, as you note, of the victims. So, you know, as soon as you have that, let us know.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Five suffering families.

HARLOW: Thank you.

The shutdown, it is day 34. No paycheck in sight. The Coast Guard's top admiral, calling it "unacceptable that brave men and women, protecting this country, some of them relying on food pantries and donations."

We will be joined by the wife of a Coast Guard lieutenant next.


[10:35:31] HARLOW: Kodiak, Alaska, it is a small town, home to about 6,300 people. According to "The New York Times" -- get this -- a quarter of the population there depends on paychecks from the Coast Guard.

That means those furloughed federal workers, not getting paid. That's a quarter of the community there. And on Friday -- tomorrow, for the second time -- the Coast Guard employees there, again, won't get paid.

Among them is Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Zachary Koehler. He's a helicopter pilot. His wife, Beth Koehler, they just opened a small business together in Kodiak. They have two children, both 11 years old.

And, bottom line, Beth has had enough of the dysfunction in Washington. She joins me now from beautiful Kodiak.

Thanks for being with us.

BETH KOEHLER, COAST GUARD WIFE: Thank you so much for having me.

HARLOW: Politics aside, right? We've had enough of that. We've had lawmakers on --

KOEHLER: Absolutely.

HARLOW: -- no one can agree. What is life like for you, every day this goes on?

KOEHLER: Well, we're being hit from both sides. Like you said, we are a Coast Guard family, but we are also small business owners. We are blessed that our local community, when they can shop, they shop local.

But right now, our sales are down at our store. But I have friends that are really struggling. They're having to decide what bills to -- what bills to pay.

We, we're at the end of his career, of my husband's career, so we are in a unique position in that we've had time to save, some. But we used most of our savings to open our business in 2017.

HARLOW: What are your kids, Beth, asking you about this?

KOEHLER: How much longer it's going to last, what's going to happen if it lasts too much longer, is -- is Dad going to be able to retire? Because he's scheduled to retire in a few months. And they're worried about that. And, you know, are we going to lose our business. They're -- they're --

HARLOW: You know, they're -- I was just going to say, they're at that age, 11, when in school, you're learning about how the government works, right? And how it should work, and why we pay taxes.

I mean, what do you say to them about this just utter dysfunction?

KOEHLER: We pray, you know? That's -- that's what we do. We rely on our faith in God, and we -- we say that regardless of what happens, we are OK because we have each other and we have our God. And, you know, that -- it's still a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress.

And we try to do what we can to help because there are still so many people in this community who have it worse than we do.

And it's -- the number, the percentage you gave of the 20 -- roughly 26 percent, that's just the Coast Guard. We also have NOAA and TSA and our wildlife refuges.

HARLOW: Right.

KOEHLER: That's -- that leads it up to about 30 percent.

HARLOW: So it's about a third, actually, of Koehler (sic) that relies on its federal -- and can you -- I think the number, the 800,000 number that we say, it just doesn't tell the whole story. Because, you know, it's the people that own the sandwich shops, who aren't selling those sandwiches because people aren't going to work and needing to buy lunch out.

What is the impact to Kodiak, Alaska as a whole over the last, you know, five weeks?

KOEHLER: Businesses are -- you know, we're -- business is down. I drive by the local restaurants, some of them are local restaurants. They're usually full. The parking lots are typically pretty full, and they're down.

I've talked to some of the other local business owners, people are cancelling appointments or businesses are down. There are some businesses that are offering discounts, some are offering IOUs, if they can.

We're doing what we can to help our community, but we also have to survive as a business as well.

HARLOW: This morning, we got news that five former heads of DHS, which, you know, of course, overseas, Coast Guard had said, "This is unconscionable," right? Those are their words. You have to fund this.

KOEHLER: Absolutely.

TEXT: Former Secretaries Urge DHS Funding; Gen. John Kelly; Jeh Johnson; Janet Napolitano; Michael Chertoff; Tom Ridge

HARLOW: Can you tell me a little bit about the conversations you've had with your husband -- who, again, is a Coast Guard pilot -- just about the concerns you guys have about national security?

KOEHLER: Well, our Coast Guardsmen, and all of our border security agents, they're distracted. They are responsible for protecting our borders, and right now, they're concerned about protecting their families.

And that's going to -- that could very well lead to some serious implications in the future, and that's what's scary to me. My husband is a pilot, and you know, who knows what kind of scary things could happen.

[10:40:03] You know, I worry anyway. I'm always concerned when he goes flying. That's part of the life. But I trust his skills to get him through. But right now, there are so many that are distracted and it's scary.

HARLOW: It is.

Before we go, is there anything that we -- that anyone watching can do, especially -- just for the people of Kodiak, given that a third of your population is -- is now completely going without a second paycheck?

KOEHLER: There are a few things. One is the, you can donate there.


KOEHLER: You can go to -- find -- find someone local in your own community that is struggling. There are -- there are DHS employees all over the U.S. Find someone. Even if they say no, they probably need something or they know someone who does need help.

HARLOW: There you go. Pay it forward.


KOEHLER: Yes. Absolutely.

HARLOW: Pay it forward.

Beth Koehler, thank you for being with me. And thank you for what you and your entire family have sacrificed and given to this country. We wish you all the best.

KOEHLER: Thank you. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: These are the people paying the biggest price --

HARLOW: Of course.

SCIUTTO: -- for the shutdown, and there are 800,000 of them.

Coming up any minute now, Nancy Pelosi will speak to reporters, just hours after President Trump conceded to the House speaker, and says that he will wait until the government is back open to deliver his State of the Union speech.

We're going to bring you her comments, live.


[10:45:52] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN, the most-trusted name in news.

HARLOW: Day 34 of the shutdown, if you can believe it, and still at the crux of the fight is funding for the president's border wall.

SCIUTTO: Get this. Of the nine House districts that border Mexico, only one is represented by a Republican. That Republican says that the president's wall makes no sense.

Joining us now is that Republican, Texas Republican. He represents the longest stretch of border with Mexico, over 800 miles. I've seen the map in his office.

Congressman Hurd, thanks very much for taking the time this morning.

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Thank you. And to be clear, I said, "A wall from sea to shining sea makes no sense." So.

HARLOW: Fair enough.

SCIUTTO: I hear you. Because in places, I know your position is, the wall does work. But you have said that Trump's border crisis is a myth. And yet the vast majority of your Republican colleagues are standing by that. Is the party misleading the American people here, on what this is all about?

HURD: Well -- well, what I actually said was, "It's a myth to think this is a new problem," because this is a problem that has existed under multiple administrations, going all the way back, probably, to Ronald Reagan.

So this is not a new problem. Look, 400,000 people came in here illegally last year. Now, that's a decrease of 80 percent since 2000. But 400,000's a lot of people.

$67 billion's worth of drugs are coming into our country. That's a big problem. In some communities in the United States of America, deaths from drug overdoses have eclipsed deaths on the highway or homicides. And in some cases, it's eclipsed deaths of both homicides and accidents on the road.

So these are challenges. It's 2019. We should have operational control of our border. That means, we know what's coming back and forth across our border. The only way we do that is by looking at all 2,000 miles of border at the same time. And the only way you can do that is through technology and additional manpower.

So --

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, though. Because what's -- you're right, that this has gone through Democratic and Republican administrations. What's different now is that the president is shutting down government, and 800,000 people are not getting paid because he's demanding money for a wall immediately, today.

That's what's different --

HURD: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- here. And I'm curious, if you think that he should change his mind on this --

HURD: Well, we should -- we should --


SCIUTTO: -- for the sake of the workers, too.

HURD: Look, we shouldn't be negotiating on the backs of 800,000 federal employees, many of those employees who are keeping us safe. Border patrol agents are working without pay. TSA is working without pay.

It is still more likely for a terrorist to get a fake European passport and come through our airports, all right? This is why we've got to -- that's why it's so important, TSA to be -- to be fully functional, right?

You have the number of people that are defending us from cyber-attacks within the Department of Homeland Security, we're only at 60 percent staffing.

I'm from San Antonio. Last week, 2,500 federal employees in San Antonio had to go to the food bank because they couldn't -- they couldn't afford -- they couldn't afford getting groceries, all right?

HARLOW: You know --

HURD: Other things that are impacting. We -- there are -- so the technology we're using along the border right now is really, most places, 20 years old. There are some innovative programs that are going through the pipeline to be introduced, but guess what? We can't because the government's shut down. And we can't introduce this new technology.

So if this is a crisis, the people that are dealing with the crisis should get paid. And that's why I think we should open this up.

But also, I think Speaker Pelosi should offer an alternative to what the president outlined over this weekend, and I hope --

HARLOW: And --

HURD: -- on her conference today --

HARLOW: Right.

HURD: -- is that's what she's going to do.

HARLOW: And it sounds like, from Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat, we're going to get that, which may be something that you can get on board with because it is, we hear, focused on technology.

And I just want people to know that you have voted nine times, recently, with Democrats on bills that -- to end the shutdown, that do not include a -- you know, a dollar for wall funding, nine times. My question is, as we see some fracture among some Senate Republicans

like Corey Gardner, like Susan Collins, you know, when does that group that stands with you in the House -- Republicans -- get any bigger than a dozen, which is the most Republicans you've gotten on board with you here?

[10:50:03] HURD: I think --

HARLOW: Or does it not?

HURD: -- well, I think when the -- when the final solution is some form of completing the Secure Fence Act. The Secure Fence Act was in 2006, amended in 2008.

Most of Democratic leadership have already voted for it. It would (ph) --

HARLOW: But not Pelosi.

HURD: -- we knew (ph) all the stories. Well, she didn't have to vote, but she was the speaker at the time, when it was amended in 2008. All right?

And so, you complete the Secure Fence Act. You double down on technology at our ports of entry, where the majority of the drugs are coming through. You use technology along all 2,000 miles. You make sure Border Patrol is taken care of so we don't have retention problems.

You have a -- you streamline legal immigration, so fix DACA. Have a permanent fix. Make sure TPS is made permanent. And then you address root causes. That is, violence and lack of economic opportunities in Central America, specifically the Northern Triangle. That's El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

So State Department and USAID has a role in this. Having those shut down --


HURD: -- during this, only complicates the problem as well. So that -- those are the planks of a major deal. The details within each one of those planks matter.


HURD: But kind of what I outlined is, I think, something that could pass, get over 218 in the House and 60 in the Senate.

SCIUTTO: You've probably seen the report in the "Washington Post," though, that the president is -- his chief of staff is examining the possibility of this shutdown going into March, into April, looking for the effects on agencies.

I imagine you speak to people in the White House. Do you see any relenting on this issue, or any support behind exactly the kind of bill you just described?

HURD: Well, I think the president outlined some of the broad strokes in this, in his speech. I guess it was this past weekend.

The fact that you had a DACA fix in there, and a TPS fix. Now, the details didn't go as far as what probably it needs to be. I think that is movement. So I think we're going to hopefully see a response from Pelosi.

Ultimately, both sides -- look, we should stop (ph) be (ph) thinking about what's a Republican solution or what's a Democratic solution --


HURD: -- we should be thinking about American, you know, solutions.

HARLOW: Totally. Totally, Congressman. I hear you. But just to put a button on it, here, you know, you barely won re-election in your district and there is a political price to be paid, right? For compromise.

HURD: Right.

HARLOW: We heard it from, you know, outgoing Senator Jeff Flake. When 81 percent of the Republican Party supports the president on the wall, do you think just because of politics, there just are not going to be enough Republicans to go with you?

HURD: Well, I'll clarify. I won by a narrow margin in a district that everybody predicted I was going to lose. So --

HARLOW: I hear you.

HURD: -- I think that's a -- I think that's a positive rather than -- than, actually, a negative.

Yes. It's unfortunate that a tactic that is -- and (ph) miles (ph) of wall has become the focus of what should be strategy. Excuse me.


HURD: The strategy should be, how do we achieve operational control of our border. We should be talking -- we should -- the metrics we should be focused on are, are we seeing a decrease in the amount of drugs coming in this country and the decrease of illegal immigration?

Not how many censors are in one place or how much wall is in one place. We're focused on the wrong thing. And we're focused on the wrong thing because it has become political.


HURD: And my friends on the Democratic aisle have dug in because they do not want to give a political victory to someone that they've been opposing.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Will Hurd, thanks very much for joining us today.

HARLOW: Thank you.

HURD: Thank you.

HARLOW: Again, the shutdown is in day 34. A former secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, says the damage will last for years.


[10:57:53] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN, the most-trusted name in news.

SCIUTTO: Listen to this warning. Former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson says that from a security standpoint, we as a country are letting our guard down.

TEXT: Former Secretaries Urge DHS Funding; Gen. John Kelly; Jeh Johnson; Janet Napolitano; Michael Chertoff; Tom Ridge

HARLOW: He is one of the former DHS heads that has penned this letter to both the president and Congress, to end the shutdown. Alex Marquardt joins us now.

Quite a warning.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes it is, Poppy. It's quite a warning because it comes from these five different Homeland Security secretaries who span a large amount of history, three different administrations from both parties.

This is, of course, a letter that is addressed both to Congress and to President Trump. And, really, the most remarkable name on that list is John Kelly who, until just a month ago, was the chief of staff for President Trump, and now he is calling on his old boss to end this shutdown.

Now, so much of the security apparatus, the national security apparatus, is -- continues to be funded during the shutdown: the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies.

But one that is not is the Department of Homeland Security. And of course, they take care of a huge part -- as their name suggests -- of homeland security. The Coast Guard, counter-cyber operations. And so much of protecting this country.

So they have addressed this letter to Congress and President Trump, saying that it is unconscionable, the way that Department of Homeland Security employees are being treated, the way that they are being forced to resort to charity.

Let me read just a part of this letter that was sent to Congress and the president.

TEXT: DHS employees who protect the traveling public, investigate and counter terrorism, and protect critical infrastructure should not have to rely on the charitable generosity of others for assistance in feeding their families and paying their bills while they steadfastly focus on the mission at hand. This is unconscionable.

MARQUARDT: It says, "DHS employees who protect the traveling public, investigate and counter terrorism, and protect critical infrastructure should not have to rely on the charitable generosity of others for assistance in feeding their families and paying their bills while they steadfastly focus on the mission at hand." So they call that "unconscionable."

Now, we also have a little bit of that sound that you mentioned, Jim, about former Secretary Jeh Johnson, who was under Obama, talking about the damage that could last for years to come. Take a listen.


JEH JOHNSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: From a security standpoint, we are letting our guard down. If this shutdown ended tomorrow, I fear that the damage already done to our security will be months, if not years.