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CNN NEWSROOM

Beto O'Rourke Breaks Fundraising Record in First Week After Announcing 2020 Candidacy; New Visitation Program for Incarcerated Rikers Island Mothers and Their Children; Department of Transportation Subpoenaing FAA for Boeing MAX Approval Documents; Southern District of New York to Release Documents Tomorrow Seized in Michael Cohen Raids; Record Flooding in Nebraska. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 18, 2019 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes. I mean, this is a record-breaking haul. This is what we were talking about with Beto O'Rourke. "Let's make a statement on day one."

And he beat back Bernie Sanders, who only raised $5.9 million on day one. You know, Bernie Sanders is supposedly this fundraising machine, and Beto O'Rourke comes in and says, "No, I'm the fundraising machine."

TEXT: Early fundraising numbers: Beto O'Rourke, $6.1 million; Sen. Bernie Sanders, $5.9 million; Sen. Kamala Harris, $1.5 million; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, $1 million; John Hickenlooper, $1 million

Fundraising is important because in a field that is so large as this, you want to be able to stay alive as long as possible, keep your ads on the air and hauls like this will allow you to do so.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Even after he himself apologized for some of the things he said at his rollout. When he said that about his wife in Iowa, saying, you know, she's taking care of the kids, it stuck me but I didn't know it also struck her. And then he -- you know, sort of apologized for how he did that.

And a number of sort of unanswered questions, sort of big platform ideas but not a lot of direct policy answers. The American people don't care about -- I guess it was just -- is it the energy? What is it?

ENTEN: I mean, at least a subset don't care, right? I mean, look, most people aren't donating to campaigns. He clearly has this subset of supporters who are very much behind him, this core group of supporters. And of course that's very important. A field that is as large as this.

Remember, you might be able to win in Iowa caucuses, with, you know, 25 percent of the vote with a field this large. So having that core group of people -- I think the real question, though, is will he be able to expand that support when this field gets narrower. And of course we'll have to wait and see on that. HARLOW: And what's it going to mean when Joe Biden gets in? I say

"when," not "if" because of this. Let's listen to Joe Biden over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the -- of anybody who would run.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: I didn't mean --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Yes.

ENTEN: This is typical Joe Biden, right? I mean, Joe can't help himself. But these are the types of fun gaffes that I think we can all laugh about. It makes him more of the common man. And I think that's going to be one of the big questions.

Because Joe Biden and Beto O'Rourke are both candidates who are appealing more towards your centrist Democrat, right? If you look at the congressional roll call vote record, they're both towards the middle versus a Bernie Sanders or a Kamala Harris are more on the left side.

So I think that's a big question. When Biden gets in, does Biden overtake O'Rourke? Or is it a case where they're kind of even? If O'Rourke's able to stay even with Biden, you know, let's say he gets a big polling boost and is able to keep his name in the press, I think it's a good sign for his campaign.

HARLOW: Is he the most progressive? I -- that struck me. Because "progressive" has a whole new definition, I think, in this campaign. Whether it comes to the Green New Deal, whether it comes to 70 percent marginal tax rates, whether, you know, it comes to socialism.

ENTEN: I mean, by the standard definition, I would say no. Right? I mean, if you look at his record or the statements that he's made so far, Joe Biden is, in fact, much more towards the center of the Democratic Party.

HARLOW: Right.

ENTEN: But, of course, I think Joe Biden will argue that, "Wait a minute, I have a record. I was part of a team with Barack Obama. And we actually have a record of change. Of not just saying things, but getting things done." I think that's what Biden's getting at, is --

HARLOW: Here --

ENTEN: -- we've made progressive change. HARLOW: Here's the thing. He also has a record way back in the

Senate, right? And that is, he's going to have to explain some of it when it comes to criminal justice issues, et cetera. So --

ENTEN: Criminal justice, busing, you name it. And I think --

HARLOW: Yes.

ENTEN: -- that's going to be a real question, of how far back are we going to go. Are the voters going to be willing to, quote-unquote, "forgive him" for, perhaps --

HARLOW: Yes.

ENTEN: -- some of these votes that weren't so great in today's light (ph).

HARLOW: Hillary Clinton dealt with it and had to -- you know, was asked a lot about it during the last election.

ENTEN: They -- I think that Joe Biden right now, the big thing for him --

HARLOW: Yes.

ENTEN: -- is to run as an Obama Democrat. That's his angle.

HARLOW: Gotcha. When's he announcing?

ENTEN: I think April, you know? That will be when fundraising, when we get a new fundraising quota --

HARLOW: Yes.

ENTEN: -- he doesn't want to come in and say, "I've just raised $2 million." Give himself to the end of June.

HARLOW: All right. Harry Enten, thank you, my friend.

ENTEN: Thanks so much.

HARLOW: Ahead for us, a CNN exclusive report. Mothers getting a chance to get out of Rikers Island Prison, of all places. Spend time with their children. Could this actually reduce incarceration? Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Tell me about your daughter.

AMANDA MARTINEZ, RIKERS ISLAND INMATE: I'm going to cry. She's my one and only child. She's 12. She's the best kid I could ever ask for. She's humble, down to earth. She's so smart. So, so smart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All right. There are nearly 3 million children in the United States who have a parent in jail. Just think about the impact, for a moment, on those kids. According to the Urban Institute, they face an increased risk of ending up behind bars themselves, not to mention the trauma that they experience.

So right here in New York City, Rikers Island Jail, of all places, and the children's museum, are betting that taking off the handcuffs and bringing these mothers to reunite with their children, even for just a few hours, will stem the cycle of generational incarceration. We went to see it for ourselves.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW (voice-over): There are 489 women behind bars here on Rikers Island.

HARLOW: So this has been your home for the last six months?

MARTINEZ: Yes.

HARLOW: Rikers Island?

HARLOW (voice-over): Many of them are mothers.

HARLOW: How many times have you been in and out of prison?

LYDIA FUNES, RIKERS ISLAND INMATE: I have lost count.

HARLOW: You've lost count?

FUNES: Yes.

HARLOW (voice-over): Many have been here before, and may end up here again and again. Left behind are their children.

But on this Monday, these inmates are not in their jumpsuits. They're not in handcuffs. They are mothers, reunited with their children for a few potentially life-changing hours.

Since April, New York City has been piloting a program that brings mothers from Rikers Island Jail, accepted for good behavior, here, to the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

[10:40:05] This is Amanda Martinez's (ph) second visit here with her daughter, Ananda (ph). It's her 12th birthday today.

ANANDA (PH) MARTINEZ, DAUGHTER OF AMANDA MARTINEZ: It feels a little more normal because we're in a better setting. It's more fun and we have more activities.

AMANDA MARTINEZ: I don't feel as if I'm locked up right now. I love it. It feels so good.

HARLOW (voice-over): Martinez's (ph) mother is taking care of Ananda while she's serving time.

PLACIDA MARTINEZ-ESPADA, MOTHER OF AMANDA MARTINEZ: You want to be with your family. And Christmas was hard, so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you need some help?

FUNES: Yes.

I'm waiting on my children. I'm hoping they get here real soon. I was making them Valentine's Day cards.

CHIRLANE MCCRAY, FIRST LADY OF NEW YORK CITY: Come on, it's party (ph) time.

Most of these women who are behind bars are mothers. Most of them, 79 percent.

HARLOW: Wow.

MCCRAY: Yes. And so it's --

HARLOW: Just on Rikers, or all incarcerated?

MCCRAY: On -- on Rikers.

HARLOW (voice-over): And that's why the first lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray, saw the need and took a chance on this.

MCCRAY: So the boy (ph) said, "Well, we didn't want to play anyway."

We know that these separations can have a devastating impact on the child's development. Prevents them from being able to love and laugh and learn. We did a baby shower at Rikers, and I saw that the children couldn't look into the parents' eyes, that they kept their heads down. They were emotionally withdrawn. It does -- it just -- it broke me.

HARLOW (voice-over): So we went to Rikers to hear more from these mothers, Amanda Martinez and Lydia Funes.

HARLOW: Heroin in the reason you're here here?

FUNES: Well, yes.

HARLOW (voice-over): Funes has been in and out of jail, more than 30 times. This time, she's pleaded guilty to drug charges and tells us she's going to rehab soon. She's a mother of four. Among her youngest, 11- and 12-year-old girls.

FUNES: Chastity (ph), she's 11. She wants to be a nurse.

HARLOW (?): OK.

FUNES: And Trinity (ph) wants to be a teacher. And they're very good kids. HARLOW (voice-over): Very good kids who rushed to see her at the

museum but missed her by minutes, she says, because of transportation delays.

HARLOW: Does the opportunity to possibly go back to the museum next month, to see your girls, does that motivate you here?

FUNES: Right. It makes me -- I want to be involved in these kind of programs, and I want security to clear me. So it does make me behave better.

MARTINEZ: I would have never thought, in a million years, I'd be able to see my daughter without shackles, without a uniform, without these bars.

HARLOW (voice-over): This is Amanda Martinez's first time in jail, but she's been arrested more than once and served probation on drug charges.

MARTINEZ: I chose the streets over my family. The day I got locked up, my daughter was actually with me.

HARLOW: What did your daughter say?

MARTINEZ: "I love you, Mom. And it's going to be OK."

HARLOW: This is you visiting with her at the museum?

MARTINEZ (?): Yes, well --

HARLOW (voice-over): Most recently, she was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, for allegedly selling heroin while her daughter was by her side. She has not entered a plea in that case.

HARLOW: Tell me about your daughter.

MARTINEZ: I'm going to cry. She's my one and only child. She's 12. She's the best kid I could ever ask for. She's humble, down-to-earth. She's so smart. So, so smart.

HARLOW (voice-over): The Crafting Family Connections program is funded through private donations and taxpayer dollars.

HARLOW: What about the critics who say, "Why should my taxpayer money be going to this?" Be going to helping -- yes, they're mothers, but they're also people that are charged with some very serious crimes.

MCCRAY: No. First of all, they didn't do anything so wrong that their children should be punished as well. You know, what's happening is that we're -- we're punishing the women while they're in jail, punishing them even more. Punishing their children and their families.

HARLOW: Amanda Martinez is charged with selling heroin, fentanyl and cocaine 13 times. Six times, allegedly, with her 11-year-old daughter there. Why does she deserve this? What do you say? MCCRAY: Well, I think that it just doesn't get better if we don't

encourage positive relationships and a positive understanding of parenting.

HARLOW (voice-over): Despite programs like this, the city has announced plans to close Rikers Island in 10 years, following a litany of investigations surrounding inmates' civil rights, and an increase in violence within the jail in recent years, despite efforts to increase security.

A 2018 independent report found deep underlying issues on Rikers Island.

HAZEL JENNINGS, CHIEF OF DEPARTMENT, RIKERS ISLAND: I've been on the job for about 30 (ph) years, and we have never done anything like this, ever.

[10:45:03] HARLOW: When the first lady's office came to you and said, "We want to do this," what did you think?

JENNINGS: I said, "We've got to be crazy if we go into this."

HARLOW (voice-over): But Chief Hazel Jennings opened her mind, and the gates at Rikers.

JENNINGS: I think everybody deserves a second chance, you know? We all make mistakes. Some more, worse than others. But at the end of the day, it's really about the kids. Because they're our future, and we have to invest in them.

ANGELA GONZALEZ, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS OFFICER, RIKERS ISLAND: Like, we can't take it out on the children, for the decisions that the mothers made.

HARLOW (voice-over): Officer Angela Gonzalez has been to every one of these visits.

GONZALEZ: It (ph) gives (ph) the kids a sense of, their parent is safe. Their parent is not in a bad environment. So it gives -- I think it gives them comfort.

HARLOW (voice-over): It might surprise you, like it did us, they've even opened the program to inmates charged with violent crimes.

JENNINGS: It's really about reducing the idleness, and just helping them. Because at some point, they will go back out into the communities. And we want them to be better human beings than what they may have started out as.

HARLOW (?): What tells you it works?

LESLIE BUSHARA, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF MANHATTAN: The reaction of the families and the kids. The tears, the joy, the happiness. One little boy turned around and said, "This is the best day of my life." HARLOW (voice-over): Other cities have taken notice. Chicago is considering launching a similar initiative, and Kansas is already piloting one.

LORI HANIS, INMATE, TOKEPA KANSAS CORRECTIONAL FACILITY: It's hard to hold back tears. That's for sure. But it's just -- it's a feeling that you can't even describe.

HARLOW (voice-over): In a 2016 study published by the Journal of Criminal Justice, researchers analyzed 16 different studies, and found a 26 percent decline in repeat criminal offenses by prisoners who were visited while they were in jail.

MCCRAY: If children are able to bond with their mothers and maintain that tie, that -- they are less likely to be incarcerated themselves. I can tell you that there is no better return on our investment than making these visits happen.

MARTINEZ: I could be dead. My lifestyle that I used to live, I could be dead. I'm here, talking to you about my daughter --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say cheese!

MARTINEZ: -- in a wonderful program that Rikers Island has to offer. Out of all places, Rikers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: All right. So the question is, is it going to work? We'll see. We'll keep tracking the data. They've expanded it through 2020. And you're probably wondering, like we did, "So, are fathers going to be able to do this? Or is it just mothers?" They told us they're considering it for fathers.

And today, this is going to happen this afternoon, like it does one Monday every month, for these mothers in jail. And people from the jails in Kansas are going to be visiting this program in New York City, to learn from it today. We'll see if this grows on a national scale.

Ahead, federal investigators are looking at the FAA issuing a subpoena over their approval of Boeing's 737 MAX jets after these two crashes, just months apart. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:52:34] HARLOW: Two major developments in the deadly crash of that Ethiopian airliner. According to "The Wall Street Journal" this morning, the Transportation Department inspector general is looking into the FAA's approval of the Boeing 737 MAX plane that has now been involved in two deadly crashes in a matter of months.

This comes after Ethiopia's transport minister says the plane's flight data recorder shows similarities between these two fatal crashes. My colleague Tom Foreman is with us in Washington.

So, I mean, they're subpoenaing for information here. What is driving this?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what seems to be driving this is this concern, according to "The Wall Street Journal," that in this great fight with Airbus for dominance of the world markets, Boeing was trying to get the MAX line of planes out quickly.

And that the FAA allowed Boeing to do too much of the testing and, essentially, the certification that everything was going to be OK with this plane. That, too often, they said to the company, "Well, just tell us this system is working. Tell us it's safe."

And that these shortcuts somehow led to fatal problems in the plane, which caused the crash of the Lion Air crash in -- Lion Air plane off Indonesia last fall, and this more recent one. That's the theory behind all this. We've been unable to independently confirm all of this, but that's what "The Wall Street Journal" is saying.

So the Department of Transportation is saying, "Let's look at the FAA. Let's look at their procedures, see if that happened." The FAA is saying it followed its normal procedures -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. They are indeed. But, I mean, this is what one of our analysts, Mary Schiavo, Tom, brought up to us the day after the crash, you know? That Boeing essentially has all of -- a lot of the experts. And that these plane companies are allowed to do a lot of this sort of self-testing and self-regulating.

So we'll see what this bears out. We appreciate your reporting, Tom. Thanks.

FOREMAN: You're welcome.

HARLOW: We're getting new information on the FBI raid of the former Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen. We'll bring that to you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:58:54]

HARLOW: All right. So we've just learned that documents related to the FBI's raid of Michael Cohen's office and apartment will be released to the public tomorrow.

Of course redacted versions of some of the search warrant materials related to last year's raid. Again, of his home, of his office and hotel room, have been approved for release by a judge. This is taking place in the Southern District of New York. The documents are being released as a result of a request from various media organizations, including CNN. We'll watch out and see what those show us.

In the meantime, tragedy across the Midwest. Record flooding in Nebraska has submerged at least 17 locations throughout the state. Look at this.

These are some of the aerial views of what is happening right now in Nebraska. Bridges broken by the rushing floodwaters, families are being plucked from their homes by rescue helicopters and boats.

This is the result of the worst flooding, there, in half a century. More flooding is expected on the way. Many towns have become like islands, with more than one hundred cities and counties issuing emergency declarations.

Here's what we know right now. At least three people have died across Nebraska and Iowa, 290 have been rescued so far. Right now, at least 22 shelters are open.