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Pressure Intensifies For Governor Northam To Step Down; President Trump Hints At Border Wall Announcement During State of the Union. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired February 3, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: I am not either of the people in that photo. It is disgusting. It is offensive. It is racist.
I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just made it worse. He is completely tone deaf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans and Democrats, not one really thinks that he has any serious chance of surviving this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just formally invited president Trump to deliver the State of the Union address.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Listen closely to the State of the Union. I think you'll find it very exciting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got mothers out here crying (ph). Say (ph) something (ph) to (ph) us (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A heated protest outside of MDC demanding to know why inmates inside are freezing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, after a bizarre press conference, that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam apologized and tried to explain himself there are now and more people calling for his resignation than there were the day before.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. At first Northam admitted being in that racist 1984 yearbook photo and now denying it but it is the way he chose to deny it that has a lot of people going, what's happening? Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) R. NORTHAM: When I was confronted with the images yesterday, I was appalled that they appeared on my page, but I believe then and now that I am not either of the people in that photo.
I am not and will not excuse the content of the photo. It was offensive, racist, and despicable. Why did I dress up? Yes. I didn't realize at the time that it was as offensive as I have since learned and knowing that, what I know now, I wouldn't have done it, but, at the time, I did not realize it.
I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume. I had the shoes. I had a glove. And I used just a little bit the shoe accomplish to put under my -- or on my cheeks and the reason I used a very a little bit but I don't know if anybody has ever tried that, but you cannot get shoe accomplish off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still able to moonwalk?
PAM NORTHAM, WIFE OF RALPH NORTHAM: Inappropriate circumstances.
R. NORTHAM: My wife says appropriate circumstances.
I was the president of the VMI Honor Court. Our code there is a cadet shall not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do, that is the most meaningful thing to me in my life. I tell the truth. I'm telling the truth today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: After that, more elected officials went On the Record and they urged him to resign.
BLACKWELL: Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine have been privately encouraging Northam to step down. A Democrat with knowledge of those talks tell CNN after that press conference their patience was done (ph).
Let's go live now to CNN politics reporter Dan Merica in Richmond, Virginia. Dan, there are a lot of people questioning now only the governor but those advising the governor who said that this would be a good, this could keep you in office, it seems to have caused more damage.
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, it was pretty clear shortly after that press conference that when Ralph Northam went into that room hoping to shore up support and possibly stem the calls for his resignation, he failed spectacularly. He did not get what he needed most which is more support, reaffirmation of support from some top names in Virginia politics on the Democratic side.
The real earth shaking statement came when Senator Tim Kaine and Senator Mark Warner, it's worth noting, both former governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as Bobby Scott, representative from Virginia, issued a statement saying that they watched the press conference and could no longer support Governor Ralph Northam. I want to read to you exactly what they said. They said, "After we watched his press conference today, we called Governor Northam to tell him that we no longer believe he can effectively serve as governor of Virginia and that he must resign."
That was earth shattering to many people here, but it was followed up by a statement from Attorney General Mark Herring and the first African-American governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Doug Wilder. Both saying that they no longer supported the governor after they released somewhat tepid statements on Friday and Saturday where they said it was up to him, they didn't call outright for his resignation.
That was very significant because it basically said that this man who didn't have a party -- you have to remember that on Friday and Saturday, he lost support of both sides of the Democratic caucus here at the statehouse, he also lost the support of his party, the Democratic Party of Virginia said that they no longer supported him and wanted him to resign.
This man without a party went into this press conference that was frankly quite bizarre. He talked about how he blackened his face for a Michael Jackson costume in an attempt to defend himself from a photo he said he didn't appear in. It's also worth noting that he kind of flip-flopped. On Friday, he said the photo that was him, that he admitted to being in the photo and then on Saturday, he is saying the exact opposite.
It has wrinkled a lot of people who said he hurt himself more in the press conference because he raised credibility questions. And going forward, it really is difficult for many people here to see what his path forward is, Victor and Christi.
PAUL: All right. Dan Merica, appreciate the update. Thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: With us now CNN political commentator is Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist, and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University. Welcome back.
I mean, this has become even more bizarre after that news conference, Maria. First --
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BLACKWELL: -- let's just set what the governor said on Friday versus what he said yesterday. Yesterday, he apologized for the picture being on his page, but this is what he said on Friday.
I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo. Why would any politician or any adviser to a politician, to a principle, allow them to admit to being in a potentially career ending photo if there is any deniability? It just doesn't make sense. CARDONA: It makes absolutely zero sense, Victor, which is why, as I think everybody has been stating since the press conference, that press conference was deadly for him, and in my book -- look. What he said on Friday completely, I think, underscores the fact that either he was in that photo or he understands that there were instances where he did this because, if not, his reaction would have been one of utter outrage and incredulity that a photo like that would have ended up on his yearbook page or that anybody would ever think that he would be capable of that. That was not his initial reaction.
BLACKWELL: And you wouldn't have to call around your friends to check. Wouldn't have to call your old friends to and say did I appear in black face? Do you remember me in a KKK costume because I don't recall?
CARDONA: That is exactly -- that's exactly right, Victor. That is why this completely is incredible. His press conference underscored that. And I am so glad that, as painful as this is for Democrats and for people in Virginia who put their hope and their faith in Ralph Northam, he has got to step aside.
And, look. This doesn't mean that he can't be forgiven. This doesn't mean that he can't be redeemed. He can be forgiven but that doesn't mean that he is -- continues to be capable of leading Virginia. He is not capable of doing that and he needs to step aside.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Let me get Julian because you have an op-ed up on CNN.com that reminds us this was not in the 1940s or 50s -- right -- what he said yesterday was that he attributed his not being -- if you believe that denial from of governor that he wasn't in black face in Virginia but he was in black face at Texas at this dance competition, he attributed to the place and time that where I grew up.
Al Jolson wasn't still singing Mammy on television. He was impersonating Michael Jackson in the mid '80s. Give us a reminder, Julian, where the world was in '84.
JULIAN E. ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Look. By the 1980s, civil rights is very much alive and well. The year before, the nation and Virginia had gone through a debate over making Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. Virginia actually resisted.
And the idea both of using black face was not widely accepted. It was controversial when it came up in the '80s. And certainly having a photo of that and someone in a KKK costume, whoever it is, whoever is in the photo, to have that on a yearbook page of yours with your name was not the normal thing to do in the 1980s and 1984. So this was controversial then and circa 2019 as the governor of a state that just went through trauma of Charlottesville, this is the traumatic thing today.
So there is no real excuse for having that photo on your page, whoever you are, and the photo is now confirmed and so that's what makes it difficult to support him at this point.
BLACKWELL: So, Maria, the governor says he is not going to leave. [06:10:01]
At least he says if he can still continue to do good with the people of the Commonwealth. What are the options for -- let's talk about the state Democrats. Not so much for those on the outside, the former candidates, those former candidates and senators.
BLACKWELL: But state legislature, with Democrats in the minority in Virginia, what are their options to force this governor because they want him out?
CARDONA: Well, I think that what is going to happen is that the pressure is going to be so great, Victor, that Ralph Northam is just not going to be able to sustain it. And if he is going to at least live up to what he, himself, calls himself in terms of having honor, having integrity, and being somebody that has values, he is going to have to step aside.
It's ironic that he said in his press conference yesterday that one of the reasons why he wants to stay as governor of Virginia is to be able to lead the conversation about race, to be able to be the one to lead the healing. Well, I'm sorry, governor, but you are the one who appears in this photo of black face or at least have admitted to appearing in black face. You cannot be the one to be able to lead this conversation with credibility, you cannot be the one to be able to lead Virginia to healing in your current position as governor.
CARDONA: If he wants to try to do that, Victor, that could be a great way for him to redeem himself and we all know that America loves a story of redemption. But what America --
BLACKWELL: But don't have to do that in the statehouse.
CARDONA: That's right. Exactly.
BLACKWELL: And it especially, Victor, it is especially unsustainable when the person who was waiting in the background to take the leadership position of Virginia is a young, dynamic, African-American man named Justin Fairfax --
CARDONA: -- whose ancestors were actually slaves in Virginia. That to me is the picture of redemption.
BLACKWELL: We will see if that pressure continues to come from the state legislature and Democrats and maybe some Republicans.
CARDONA: It will.
BLACKWELL: Maria Cardona, thank you so much for joining us.
CARDONA: Thank you, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Julian, stick around because we're going to talk about the State of the Union. Speaking of the "STATE OF THE UNION," the show, not the speech. Former governor of Terry McAuliffe and Senator Richard Shelby are on "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" later this morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
PAUL: Because President Trump is set to address the nation Tuesday in his State of the Union telling reporters there's going to be and I'm quoting here, "a big announcement." What we are learning about what is to come. Stay close.
BLACKWELL: Plus, the countdown to Super Bowl LIII down to just a few hours now. Andy Scholes is getting ready for the biggest day in sports -- Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's finally here, guys. Will Tom Brady be able to win his sixth Super Bowl later today or will Aaron Donald and the Rams pull off the upset? We're going to have celebrity predictions for you coming up.
BLACKWELL: President Trump is scheduled to address the nation on Tuesday, the State of the Union address is about 10 days out from a potential second government shutdown.
PAUL: In the meantime, lawmakers are working to deliver the president a spending bill that would avoid another shutdown. Now, Friday, President Trump fueled speculation that he may bypass Congress altogether, possibly declaring this national emergency to secure funding for his border wall.
BLACKWELL: CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood joins us now. So, Sarah, what are you learning about the State of the Union? Any details?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, good morning, Victor and Christi. And what we are learning about the State of the Union is that the White House expects President Trump to try to project a tone of optimism. They use words like bipartisanship, optimism, unity to describe this speech. The theme of it is called choosing greatness. But, of course, it's coming against the backdrop of those stalled budget negotiations on Capitol Hill, talks that the president has described as a waste of time.
Democrats have been attacking President Trump for leaving the door open to a second government shutdown on February 15th when the temporary spending bill runs dry. President Trump is still hinting that he may have something to announce in the area of potentially pursuing federal funds through a different avenue during that State of the Union address. Listen to what he said on Friday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, have you privately decided whether or not you will declare national emergency?
TRUMP: Privately? What's in my mind? I'm certainly thinking about it. I think there's a good chance that we'll have to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying that we should be prepared for you to announce at the State of the Union, what you are going to do?
TRUMP: Well, I'm saying listen closely to the State of the Union. I think you'll find it very exciting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WESTWOOD: Now keep in mind that President Trump expressed reluctance to declare a national emergency to try to get wall money that way during the last shutdown but as the talks have continued to deadlock during this round of negotiations, Trump increasingly suggesting that he fully expects to declare a national emergency.
We do expect President Trump to invite guests to the State of the Union that compliment the topics he is expected to talk about. The White House says that includes trade, immigration, the economy, national security. The White House says they will unveil the identities of those guests tomorrow afternoon so we will look to that.
But we are getting a sense of how some lawmakers plan to observe the tradition of bringing guests who symbolize issues that they care about. For example Democratic Senator Kamala Harris he's bringing an air traffic controller who was affected by this latest shutdown. Republican Senator John Cornyn bringing a border patrol sector chief. He's someone who has championed border security. Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell bringing a survivor of school shooting. So all of these people we will expect to see bringing their issues into the State of the Union as well on Tuesday, Victor and Christi.
BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood for us there in West Palm Beach near the president's resort. Thanks so much.
PAUL: Back with us CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, and now Siraj Hashmi, commentary writer and editor for "The Washington Examiner." Gentlemen, good morning to you.
ZELIZER: Good morning.
SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER AND EDITOR, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Good morning.
PAUL: We just heard Sarah talk about what we can expect at State of the Union. At the end of the day, I know he is going to have this optimistic tone. It's titled choosing greatness. Siraj, I want to know what you're watching for because there is no doubt going to be an awful lot of tension in that room.
HASHMI; Absolutely. And, you know, there is about 99 percent chance that if Virginia Governor Ralph Northam doesn't resign by the time Trump delivers the State of the Union, Donald Trump is going to go -- hit Democrats and criticize them for condemning Northam after the racist yearbook photo but not saying anything or having at least met the outrage in terms of calling for his resignation after his comments that seem to suggest infanticide. And it might spark a new debate about where the Democratic Party and what values they hold most dear.
But, of course, we're going to look at border security. If there's going to be anything exciting about this that may produce a moment of bipartisanship, it would be possibly President Trump turning towards House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and maybe giving her a wink or a smile, a fist bump, or even a hug.
PAUL: That would be interesting if we saw that. Speaking of the speaker, Julian, I want to read something from your op-ed with CNN. You wrote this, "Without question, Pelosi is the most lethal political threat to this presidency. The House has the power to issue subpoenas, launch investigations and hearings and initiate impeachment proceedings. Trump's fate may very well be shaped by her decisions."
Historically, there have been presidents who have been at odds with speakers when giving the State of the Union. How do you think this one is going to be different?
ZELIZER: It won't be different. This reminds me a little of when Nixon spoke and Carl Albert who was a Democrat was the speaker of the House in 1974 the year everything fell apart. The tension will be palpable in the room.
Speaker Pelosi has little love for the president and whatever the president says, I think he is frustrated how he was face-down because of this fight over the government shutdown and so there might be rhetoric. I doubt there'll be a fist bump -- maybe there will be but the reality is this is the confrontation that will shape the next year, not only on the investigations issues, but also on issues such as the budget and such as the wall.
PAUL: OK. So, Siraj, what is interesting is we heard Sarah talk about some of the people that will be guests of some the congressmen and women who are going. New Jersey Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman is bringing Victorina Morales, she's an undocumented worker who was recently fired from the Trump national golf course. We also have Congressman from California Jimmy Gomez he tweeted this on Friday. "Sandra Diaz, a formerly undocumented worker, who was hired by the Trump Golf Course will be my guest at the State of the Union. Trump calls immigrants murderers and rapists, but he wants them to clean his hotels and golf resorts. Hypocrisy at its worst."
So when president talks about immigration what is the power or lack of power of their presence in that room?
HASHMI: Well, it's interesting because President Trump, while he was still just a businessman, he definitely relied on undocumented workers to basically be employees of his organization and you're going to see, obviously, the tonal shift from Trump going hard after immigrants and championing the border wall and he will definitely be called out by Democrats on this and there is no question that, you know, he had many times where he had many positions that were different from where he is right now.
I mean, looking back even towards 1999, he was very much pro choice and now he is pro life. The same thing can be said with him with respect to immigration. And, obviously, this is one of those things that he's just going to have to be strong on in terms of being forceful in his language that the United States needs a border wall and, of course, there are many good immigrants in this country, whether they came in the country legally or illegally and that we just need to reform our immigration system.
PAUL: Julian, I mean, immigration is going to be one of his most bruising battles no doubt about it. Has there ever been a State of the Union that actually turned the corner, made progress for the president?
ZELIZER: Not really. The example that comes to mind in 2002 when President George W. Bush laid out the axis of evil which were nations like Iraq who he argued were also part of war on terrorism. It was forceful and that he helped build political support for launching troops but obviously this was a disastrous war and it ended up helping to drag down his presidency and the reputation of the GOP.
So you can actually move people every now and then, but in the wrong way. But, overall, it's very hard for these speeches to move public opinion in a polarized era. Very few people in the electorate are going to be persuaded by a speech to all the sudden say, I changed my mind on an issue. What is more likely is this is a way to try to rally Republicans behind the president, but I still think that is a hard sale, given how much of the public, including more and more Republicans don't believe this wall is needed, useful or worth shutting down the government again for.
PAUL: Julian Zelizer, Siraj Hashmi, we appreciate both you being here. Gentlemen, thank you.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
HASHMI: Thank you, Christi.
BLACKWELL: And joining us for President Trump's State of the Union address to the nation, special live coverage starts Tuesday night at 8:00 eastern right here on CNN.
PAUL: Stay with us. We are talking about no heat, no power, no hot water. Not just for a day, but for days.
These are the complaints of more than thousand inmates and workers at a federal prison in Brooklyn, New York. The community, you see them all there coming out. They are outraged. We have an update for you. BLACKWELL: And youth versus experience at the Super Bowl. Our Andy Scholes will look ahead to the big game.
PAUL: All right. Up early making your food, getting all your drinks in order? All lined up? Everybody ready?
BLACKWELL: Layers one and two of the seven layer dip in already. Working on that third layer.
PAUL: Super Bowl LIII, of course, now we are hours away and we can finally say it. Patriots and Rams set to face off here in Atlanta.
BLACKWELL: Andy Scholes has more outside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Interesting matchup, Andy.
SCHOLES: Yes. You guys make me hungry talking about all that dip.
SCHOLES: I can't wait to get into something later today. But you know what? The time for talking is over. It's finally time to settle this on this the field.
Tom Brady and the Patriots trying to win their sixth Super Bowl and that would tie them with the Steelers for the most all time. Many believe the only way the Rams have a shot at winning this game is if they can get to Brady. He has not been sacked all playoff long.
But the Rams have the 2018 defensive player of the year Aaron Donald. He was given the award last night for the second year in a row and Donald is as unstoppable as they come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, he's a freak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just disruptive man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very relentless.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Best defensive player in the league.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I had to think of one word I would say dominate. He is probably -- he's the best player that I've played with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have a guy 6'1" that can (ph) 500 pounds, lift a truck, you know, it's -- nobody can defeat him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we go full out and practice we probably won't get a lot done. You know what I'm saying? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though he looks blocked he's really not blocked. And, you know, the next thing you know he's off a guy, getting to the quarterback, causing havoc.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: All right. So we'll see if Donald has a big game. The NFL's MVP also handed out last night. No surprise the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes running away with the award. Mahomes is the second player ever to throw up over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season. At 23 years old, Mahomes is the second youngest player to ever win the NFL's MVP award.
Now big partly of Super Bowl week is always all of the parties around town. Yesterday, I went to the fanatic celebration. Cardi B was the headliner and check out Patriots' owner Robert Kraft. He jumps out there on the stage and starts dancing with Cardi B during her performance. The 77-year-old still has the moves.
And while I was at the party I talked to a bunch of athletes and celebrities to get their predictions for today's game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEYTON MANNING, TWO-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: I think you'll know how early how it is going to be.
DR. MEHMET OZ, TELEVISION HOST: We'll make it a house call. We have to collect the co-pay but this one time I'll give away free recommendation I'm going with the Pats to cover the spread.
EMMITT SMITH, THREE-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: I'm going for the Rams. That's it. That's all I can say.
THURMAN THOMAS, PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAMER: Tom Brady is so good. You know what? I wouldn't mind seeing him win another championship.
MARSHAWN LYNCH, OAKLAND RAIDERS RUNNING BACK: I don't know. I'm going for the Patriots to blow the Rams out.
MANNING: I see it being close one way or another that's all I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't bet against Brady.
KEVIN HART, ACTOR: Prediction, Eagles will win 37-16.
SCHOLES: Eagles? Last year?
HART: Eagles 37-16. That is my prediction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Kevin Hart is a big Eagles fan and always the comedian. He has the Eagles winning this Super Bowl even though they are not in it. But a lot of people picking Patriots, guys. So it wouldn't surprise me if the Rams shock everyone like the Eagles did last year and it ends (ph) up being the Rams winning tonight.
BLACKWELL: All right. We will see. Andy Scholes, thanks so much.
SCHOLES: All right.
PAUL: Thank you, Andy.
So we are now almost 12 hours into a standoff between police in Ohio and a suspect, a suspect who shot and killed Ohio sheriff's deputy, another is recovering and the suspect has barricaded himself now in an apartment. Authorities in Clermont County, Ohio, there. This is near Cincinnati say the deputies were doing a welfare check when they were shot. Minutes early a man did call 911 saying there were people in his apartment who wouldn't leave and that he had weapons in that home, but, again, one officer has died, another is recovering and that standoff is still going on. It started last night at about 7:00 p.m. so almost 12 hours in.
Pope Francis is beginning a historic visit to the Middle East today. Coming up, why this three-day trip to the United Arab Emirates is so very important.
BLACKWELL: Actor and singer Jussie Smollett was back on stage last night less than a week after he said he was attacked by two men in Chicago. Last night's concert in West Hollywood was his first public appearance since he reported that attack to the police. Now, no one has been arrested. Police have not found surveillance video of the attack but they've released pictures of two men they would like to speak with. Last night's performance Smollett clarified a few things.
JUSSIE SMOLLETT, ACTOR: My little sister is really (ph) like Olivia Pope. She's in the back. I was bruised but my ribs were not cracked. They were not broken. I went to the doctor immediately. (INAUDIBLE). I was not hospitalized. Both of my doctors in L.A. and Chicago cleared me to perform and said to take care obviously. And above all, I fought the (EXPLETIVE) back. (INAUDIBLE). So now you can (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So Pope Francis is beginning a historic visit to the United Arab Emirates today. The Emirates are predominantly Muslim country. Around about a million Catholics live there though most of them from the Philippines and India. During this three-day visit the pope is expected to meet with Muslim religious leaders and hold a large outdoor mass.
Speaking before the trip, the pope called it the UAE a model for different cultures living in peaceful coexistence but this trip is the first time a pope has visited the Arabian Peninsula. BLACKWELL: British Prime Minister Theresa May is now writing in the newspaper to make her case for Brexit. This morning she wrote in an op-ed in "The Sunday Telegraph" that she plans to deliver Brexit on time.
But as we see here it may not be an easy job. The other person with the tough task is the speakers of the British House of Commons. He's the man referring to the Brexit debate among lawyers or refereeing, I should say.
CNN Bianca Nobilo profiles the speaker.
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER, BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS: Order! Order!
Stop it. It's low grade. It's useless and it won't work.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Bercow, one of the most recognizable voices in British politics, in a role almost as old as Parliament itself.
BERCOW: The best-known visible function of the speaker is to chair in the chamber, chair the prime minister's questions, to chair the debates. In that capacity, I'm the referee.
Don't tell me what the procedures of this house are.
If the speaker is the sort of person who is going to be cowed or intimidated by an administerial rant or a letter sent by way of complaint, that person isn't fit to be speaker.
NOBILO: Speaker since 2009, how has he learned to control hundreds of lawmakers?
BERCOW: You sometimes you do have to speak loudly. There's no point in saying, would you mind awfully, just possibly, after due reflection, thinking about stopping speaking?
If somebody is going on too long, sometimes you just have to interrupt and say, "Order, order!"
BERCOW: Order! Order! Order!
NOBILO: A job fraught with the difficulties of the day.
BERCOW: We're grappling with the biggest current issue facing us, Brexit. No resolution of the matter has yet been obtained.
It is a concern. It isn't something that the speaker can determine.
NOBILO: All six centuries of speakers have faced their own challenges, including mortal danger.
(on camera): Do you feel that weight of history when you conduct your daily duties? BERCOW: The truth is that it was a very perilous enterprise to stand for speaker before the Democratic age came upon us.
The historians here will note that some seven speakers lost their heads for championing the Commons against the executives.
That does enable me to view the woes and challenges which afflict and confront the House of Commons and which, if all truth be told, periodically, afflict and confront me. That is to say, whatever happens to me, I'm not likely to lose my head.
NOBILO (voice-over): Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.
PAUL And still to come, more than a thousand inmates and workers at a federal prison in New York say they have been stuck in the dark with no heat, no hot water, and this has gone on for days. More on that with Joey Jackson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got mothers out here crying (ph). Say (ph) something (ph) to (ph) us (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Dozens, look at them, of demonstrators there, they swarmed the front of the federal prison in Brooklyn, New York, yesterday, protesting what some are calling inhumane conditions from more than a thousand inmates.
BLACKWELL: Workers and inmates say the facility has been without heat, without power, without hot water for days. They described the building as an icebox.
Reported Miles (ph) Miller (ph) from our affiliate in New York has details.
MILES (ph) MILLER (ph), CNN AFFILIATE (voice-over): The banging you hear is a desperate cry for help from detainees at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park, seeking relief from the bone chilling cold temperatures inside their cells.
Rhonda Barnwell works in the detention center. She says the waterfront facility is a virtual icebox for employees and inmates.
RHONDA BARNWELL, WORKS IN THE JAIL'S MEDICAL STATION: They are complaining about heat as well. They can't speak. Their throats are hurting.
MILLER (ph): Since Sunday, these small reading lights are all that illuminates their cells. The fire department says a small electrical fire plunged the federal lock-up into darkness that day sparking fear among those in the building.
BARNWELL: We have dark spots where we are moving inmates and there is no light so we are really afraid for the staff member's safety, as well as the inmates because it's a lot of areas where we cannot see. Some of the officers got injured today trying to lock the inmates back in the cells.
MILLER (ph): The problems didn't start with that electrical fire though. Employees told Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez during her tour at the facility Friday the place has been without heat since January 21st.
REP. NYDIA VELASQUEZ (D), NEW YORK: They have to work with their coats, their gloves, covering their heads, that it was the cold weather, the temperature was unbearable (ph).
MILLER (ph): New York (INAUDIBLE) reported two weeks ago the detention facility was experiencing staffing shortages forcing the warden to shut down attorney and family visits for an entire week. David Patton is the chief federal defender for New York.
DAVID PATTON, CHIEF FEDERAL DEFENDER FOR NEW YORK: It's important to realize that the these are people who are pretrial detainees. They haven't been convicted of crimes. They are entitled to have daily access to their attorneys.
MILLER (ph): This woman's husband is an inmate at the jail. She says she has been calling every day and can't get in touch with him. She asked us to disguise her identity for fear of retribution by the staff.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was told that the facility was on lockdown. I called back again on Tuesday to find out what was going on and they had no information to give me. I decided to drive down to the facility and all of the lights are shut off.
MILLER (ph): The Federal Bureau of Prisons tells us the cells have heat and hot water. But attorneys don't buy that.
PATTON: The warden, Herman Quay, at the MBC either doesn't know what is happening at his institution or he is not being honest about what is happening at the institution because the conditions are not acceptable.
BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson. Joey, welcome back.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you, Victor. Good morning to you.
BLACKWELL: Good morning. So what recourse do the inmates have here? The relative of the inmates and those workers.
JACKSON: So, you know, Victor, putting it in context, MDC, Metropolitan Detention Center, is cold under normal circumstances. It's drafty under normal circumstances for anyone who has been there, certainly. So that is problematic to begin with.
I've been there several times, clients there, et cetera. Now the problem becomes that you have a number of hoops for inmates to jump through before they can have viable lawsuits. There is any parade of horrible circumstances that can happen, obviously, when you lack heat, you lack hot water but there are a number of things they are up against, specifically like what? Because you addressed the issue of remedy.
OK. There is no heat, there is no hot water and incidentally just to take a short cut before moving on, everyone is blaming each other. The warden apparently says there is heat, there's hot water and there's hot meals, right? And then, of course, you have the issue where they are blaming Con Edison and Con Edison saying it's a electrical problem, we have nothing to do with it. So there's that issue.
Aside from that because which is important because it goes to the specific facts there's now how do you redress it? And there's just so many federal laws that are anti-suing the federal government, it becomes problematic, like what? Like the prisoner's Litigation Reform Act went into effect 20 years ago, I think '96 -- mid '90s where there were so many prisoners who were litigating that they said, wait a minute. We're going to make you jump through several hoops like filing grievances with the specific facility you're in before you even get to federal court.
And then wait. Can't get to federal court because there's a Federal Torts Claim Act you have to file with the Bureau of Prisons first and let's see what they do. And so while you may have remedies they are so long down the road. And then the other problem briefly, Victor, is that the prison is going to argue it was temporary, it was out of our control, we had a government shutdown in addition to the shutdown, there was cold weather so you're going to see all this finger pointing and blaming.
And I think at the end of the day, remedies are going to be scarce. Goodness gracious that you have protesters there who bring attention to it and I think the attention to it is what is going to get it when you see public officials and other union leaders there to address the problems before the courts get it because, boy, is that a process.
BLACKWELL: I just wonder what would the alternative have been to move these 1,600 plus inmates and, of course, the staff and the correctional officers. What else could they have done?
I imagine, we don't know this, we will probably get this from more investigative reporting from the local affiliate there -- that they are working as quickly as they can and they know people are in there who are in these low temperatures. What else could they have done?
JACKSON: Well, interestingly enough, your question, which focuses like a laser beam on the core issue, is going to be a question that would be asked. For example, by people evaluating the grievance by a court if they end up getting this.
What else is there to do? Now to the core of that question, apparently, they are suggesting that as officials and other people who are saying this is outrageous, that there is a building right next door that has plenty of heat, that has plenty of hot water, that is not subject to the same conditions and power outages here, that has a very limited number of female prisoners in there, move them over there.
But then, of course, the question becomes we don't have staff, logistically, it's problematic, we are dealing with security issues, we're dealing with internal issues so this is just a disaster. And I think, quite frankly, the fact, Victor, that you're talking about it, right? That we are having this discussion and that people are there saying, no more, this is outrageous, I think that is going to be the quickest fix because it gets people's attention and people don't like, generally, bad press, and so hopefully that will restore order, it will restore the problem and everyone will be OK.
What I'm concerned about, I'm sure you and everyone else, is in the instance of these heat and hot water, what happens medically and anything else to prisoners and do they develop conditions that otherwise would be nonreversible? That is going to be something to look at.
BLACKWELL: Yes. We saw a tweet from the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, who said that he is sending over warming blankets and generators whether the federal government or Bureau of Prisons likes it or not so hopefully that got to the people who need those resources.
Joey Jackson, always good to have you.
JACKSON: Thank you, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Christi --
PAUL: As more and more people call on the Virginia's governor to resign over that racist yearbook photo, there are still a lot of people trying to figure out what -- what was the meaning of this bizarre press conference to announce that he is staying put? We are going to talk about it on the other side of the break. Stay close.
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R. NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: I am not either of the people in that photo. It is disgusting. It is offensive. It is racist. I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just made it worse.
He is completely tone deaf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans and Democrats, not one really thinks that he has any serious chance of surviving this.