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Beto O'Rourke to Deliver Speech in El Paso; Trump Threatens to Close Border; Mueller Report Continues to be Examined; Congress Will Get Redacted Mueller Report Within Weeks; CNN Poll: Most Americans Want Mueller Report Made Public; White Supremacist Gang Members Accused of Murder, Kidnapping; Prosecutor "Welcomes" Outside Review of Case. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired March 30, 2019 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: White House, President Trump vowing to close the southern border next week if Mexico does not do something to stop migrants illegally entering the United States. It's not the first time the president has issued such a threat but has never actually gone through with it. CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago is in El Paso at that event where many people have turned out to hear Beto. What is going to be his big message at this rally today?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well if I were anyone watching I would certainly expect immigration to be a top topic. He's expected to be here in just the next hour. We've just started to hear on and off chants of his name, Beto, so the crowd is waiting for him to arrive. Let's go over what we should expect here and then we'll go over the context of the timing of this and the issue of immigration.
He has been on the road for almost two weeks now meeting with folks, voters in the early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, listening and talking. So it will be interesting to see what he says here in terms of how those conversations shape his strategy, his future campaign and also if they provide some clarity on his policies.
You'll likely hear him talk about climate change; that's a big one for him as well as health care and then let's circle right back around to immigration. The context, the timing of this, is definitely noteworthy. Just a day before he officially launches his campaign here in El Paso in his hometown, his turf, the president, President Trump, threatens to shut down the border. O'rourke yesterday tweeted that he was at the international bridge where hundreds of migrants are being held, many of them asylum seekers, and he vowed to do more to push for more answers and to put a stop to that.
So you'll likely hear some of his reflexes in what he says here today. Now, of course this again is his home turf. This is where he kind of became the rising democratic star in the midterm elections when he went up against Senator Ted Cruz, certainly let his fundraising capabilities be known across the country, raising $80 million in the midterm election, an election that he lost by three points but now he's trying again, going big for the White House, and day one his campaign says that they raised $6.1 million. But will he be able to do what he did here in terms of getting people
energized and excited about his campaign on a national level? That's something that we'll have to wait and see. But this is part one of a three-part tour around Texas and then he has some other appearances scheduled where he'll join actually other candidates, really joining a crowded field of democrats, all hoping to get that nomination and eventually take on President Trump. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And then, Leyla, while Beto O'Rourke has made it very clear where he is on immigration and where his heart is on trying to advocate for people seeking asylum, do we have any idea whether he is working into his speech or might he go off the speech and try to address the president's renewed threat on closing the border which might potentially directly impact El Paso.
SANTIAGO: You know, Beto O'Rourke is not known to have speeches. He's very much known to ad-lib and kind of go through his bullet points. You hear the crowd cheering quite a bit over there waiting to see if he'll be saying those things but I can tell you that just in the last week or so, he has spoken out against President Trump. He says - he constantly says that this is a positive campaign, that he wants to make sure that he is supporting all candidates, but when it comes to President Trump, he has called him the meanest, the most vile, and even at times accused him of racism.
So I suspect that if reflectons of his day yesterday at the international bridge are a part of what he wants to convey on immigration which he's already doing on social media, you'll hear him talk about that. And I suspect you'll also hear him if the last two weeks have been an indication of what's to come, you'll also hear him say that he wants to take on Trump and used some strong words against that.
He'll also probably use his knowledge of the border as a way to give credibility on his stance on immigration. You know, yesterday I actually spoke to the mayor of Juarez, the border, not even half a mile down there, and this mayor in Mexico knew who Beto O'Rourke was in my conversation with him about the migrants and the backlog that are waiting just on the other side of this border in Mexico.
WHITFIELD: All right, Leyla Santiago there in El Paso, we'll come back to you. Thank you so much.
Let's talk further about this now. I want to bring in CNN political commentators Karen Finney and Ben Furguson.
All right, I can see you, Karen, glad you're with us. Ben is somewhere. He's going to pop up on screen at any moment now.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: OK.
WHITFIELD: But Karen, let me begin with you. Describe how O'Rourke's candidacy and his momentum just might impact or affect other candidates in the race. FINNEY: Well look, I mean, he brings a lot of energy and excitement.
Clearly we've seen from his fundraising numbers he's got a really good list and that's really important for candidates at this point because, a, that's a list particularly when you hear a lot of them talking about money because we're coming to the end of the month, right. They want to talk about donation size, the number of people who donated, and that tells you how many times they can go back to those people to raise money. That's why that small dollar donation is so important, those lists are so important. And I think he's someone ...
WHITFIELD: Yes, his average, they said something like $47.
FINNEY: Exactly, which means he can go back to those donors several times over. That's also the base from which you recruit volunteers. Obviously help -- that's the people knocking on doors and making phone calls. And he's kind of presented a little bit of a challenge to Bernie Sanders who everyone thought had this great list.
WHITFIELD: Right. So far I guess according to polling, you know, Beto O'Rourke is about number three behind Bernie Sanders and Biden. Immigration and here he is about to be in El Paso, immigration is going to be a cornerstone campaign item for him as it has been for the president of the United States coming at it at a very different directions, so Karen how risky is this for Beto O'Rourke to tread that territory?
FINNEY: I think he's one of the best in the party to talk about it and you're going to hear all the candidates talk about it because as democrats we have a very different perspective. We've seen images this week frankly of the overcrowding at the border, just shameful images of people outside. It looks again like cages. You've heard the border patrol saying we want to be able to release children back into Mexico because there's just such overcrowding.
So I suspect that he'll talk about the issue from the perspective of values and that is -- as someone who comes from El Paso, it's a much more complicated issue for people who live on the border states than in some of the central parts of our country and the way that President Trump tends to talk about the issues.
So I think he's also going to give light to the fact that frankly not everybody in Texas wants a wall going through their property. So I think -- like I say, from the perspective of values, as a nation of immigrants, as a way to do this in a much more humane, sane way and I think actually it's going to be very effective for him.
WHITIFIELD: All right, so Ben, now we see you, welcome. All right, so O'Rourke he's has got to appeal to moderates and potentially to republicans right now. He really is trying to get that nomination for the Democratic Party but ultimately he has to bridge a gap, and will he be able to do that with the approach that he is taking on immigration and that he is showing some empathy for those who are pleading asylum.
BEN FURGUSON, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well it's clear that he's okay alienating people, for example, in Texas because overwhelming -- meaning Houston right now -- 4,000 people were stopped just on Monday, apprehended at the border. There's a real dire - understanding that there's a massive problem here. Even Obama's former DHS secretary yesterday said there is a crisis at the border. Anything over 1,000 a day overruns our system. Those are his words. He's not playing politics and I give him a lot of credit, for saying that.
But what you have with Beto is he's basically saying I'm OK to alienate people in Texas that are living through this crisis to appeal to people around the country, and that's a lot easier for him, honestly, than the situation he was in when he was running just for the Senate against Ted Cruz. It's a very risky play though because people see the politics of this and they're going, hold on a second, this isn't the same Beto O'Rourke we saw running for Senate. Now you're doing basically a 180 and you're saying let everyone come in and let's do this in a different way, and people that supported you and a lot of those donors that supported you thought you were going to be kind of compassionate on maybe allowing for Dreamers to stay but also have some sort of border security. He seems to be abandoning that here and that's going to be tough for him to get those doners...
WHITFIELD: Ben, there's also that - Ben there's also that issue that Karen just brought up about, you talk about people who own property on the border who many are conservative who are saying, "Wait a minute. I don't think I like the idea of taking my land, seizing my land, that I have in exchange for the wall." So he might be appealing to some of them as well.
FERGUSON: Look, there's very few that are the record as saying that and if you've been to the border. I've been there, I've talked to these landowners.
FINNEY: That's actually not true.
WHITFIELD: I've read a lot of accounts of property owners who don't like the idea of eminent domain. They don't even like that there has been surveying on their properties asking for the potential of taking their land. That's pretty documented.
FURGUSON: There are some though, look, there are some that do. I mean there a lot that do. I understand there's some that don't but if you talk to people at the border, the people that are most welcoming to show you what's happening and how the people are coming across are the people that own that land. They're the ones that will walk you down and show you the pathways, show you where the drugs are coming across, show you where the coyotes drop people. I mean if you want to know who are on the front lines and who are letting the authorities know when peole come across the border, it's the landowners who are the best eyes and ears on the border and overwhelmingly the majority of them are in favor of border security. Yes ...
WHITFIELD: But not in favor, but not in favor of eminent domain.
WHITFIELD: Not in favor of giving up their land or seeing their land taken away. Karen.
WHITFIELD: For the wall.
FINNEY: We can't say that there's an overwhelming majority that there's no data point on that and when we talk about the crisis at the...
FURGUSON: I just say come down here.
FINNEY: Well frankly, I think Beto O'Rourke who comes from El Passo, Texas, is in a better position to talk about how people in El Passo, Texas...
FURGUSON: I think he's running for president and politically he's saying this. Come down here ...
FINNEY: Hold on Ben. I let you finish now you can let me finish talking. I let you finish, why don't you let me finish talking. Now Beto O'Rourke is from El Passo Texas, so I think he has a better sense of - I mean look at the crowd he had when President Trump went to the border.
Again, my point is...
FURGUSON: It is small.
FINNEY: ... actually it was bigger - it's a complicated issue.
FURGUSON: It not true. That's just not true.
FINNEY: OK, my point is - it is true. It's a complicated issue and I think that part of what O'Rourke will talk about is the fact that, I mean yes, there is a crisis at the border that President Trump has created. Now he, like other democrats have said...
FURGUSON: Four thousand people came across the border on Monday. That's a crisis. Under Obama's DHS secretary said yesterday, it's a crisis at the border.
WHITFIELD: Hold on Ben. Karen finish your point.
FINNEY: So my point is that democrats have been very clear that therefore border security and you're right, some of the folks who are down there have some of the best ideas and again, that's why they wanted money for whether it was drones, whether it was other kinds of technology, all of that and port security frankly because we know that's really a problem with regard to drug smuggling.
So I don't think you're going to hear, but we'll hear what he has to say, I don't want to prejudge but I've heard him talk about real border security but also the idea that we should not be ripping children away from their parents. That's not acceptable policy.
FURGUSON: Something we're not doing right now. I agree with you. FINNEY: Well, we - we were under President Trump.
FURGUSON: Well we're not anymore, so let's not dwell on the past. We've fixed that problem.
FINNEY: Of course now people can't find their kids, but that's also a problem.
WHITFIELD: All right, well we'll leave it here for now.
FURGUSON: Can I go back to this Fredricka.
FURGUSON: If you look at the 4,000 that came across, you look at what again the Department of Homeland Security under Obama said, you cannot say this is Donald Trump manufacturing a crisis any longer.
FINNEY: Actually that is what he was saying.
FURGUSON: You look at this last week. You look at the people that we've shown on TV, they are overwhelming the border and now Obama's people are saying the same thing. More than 1,000 a day is overwhelming. We're getting 2, 3, and 4,000 a day. If you look at the border and you come down here, this is nothing of a manufactured crisis. This is reality. The reality that you're overrun with people.
FINNEY: It is a manufactured crisis ...
WHITFIELD: We're - we're about to learn perhaps in the next 30 minutes or even an hour or so.
FINNEY: All right, Ben is misleading people, but OK.
FURGUSON: I'm not misleading. That's the facts.
FINNEY: You're misleading people about what the Obama folks have said because they're talking about the fact that the images we've seen this week of people who are being held -- held in essentially cages because the Trump Administration is not prepared to handle - in part they're not prepared to handle, processing people.
FURGUSON: (INAUDIBLE) said that when he was in office. You go look at the quote of his. His quote was clear. He said he sat down at 6:30 in the morning. If there was more than 1,000 people apprehended he knew it was going to be a bad day. He said it's 4,000 this week on one day. He says it's a crisis at the border. That's his exact quote. Go look at it. That's from him. Not from Trump, not from anybody else.
FINNEY: I have seen it.
WHITFIELD: All right, we shall leave it here for now. Ben Furgson, Karen Finney, thanks you both. We appreciate it. And again, we're still awaiting Beto O'Rourke to make his first rally since announcing his candidacy in El Paso, Texas. Still ahead, why the Trump Administration says illegal immigration is now at that breaking point. We'll take you to the border next for our perspective there and parts of the nearly 400 page Mueller report to be released in a few weeks, maybe even sooner. What could be redacted and the new demand by democrats to release the full report.
WHITFIELD: You're looking at live pictures at El Paso, Texas where at any moment former Congressman Beto O'Rourke is expected to take the stage in his first official address as a democratic presidential candidate. We'll keep watching and bringing you the speech live as it happens.
President Donald Trump doubling down on his threat to close the U.S. border with Mexico. He now says if Mexico does not stop all illegal immigration, he could close the border or large sections of it next week and warns he could keep it closed for -- I'm quoting now - "a long time."
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have right now two big caravans coming up from Guatemala, massive caravans, walking right through Mexico. So Mexico's tough, they can stop them but they chose not to. Now they're going to stop them. If they don't stop them, we're closing the border. We'll close it and keep it closed for a long time. I'm not playing games. Mexico has to stop it.
WHITFIELD: This move would impact people and trade. Mexico is a top U.S. trading partner. In 2018 trade between the two countries averaged about $1.6 billion per day.
Border officials say their resources have become strained and the U.S. immigration system is at a breaking point. Let's check in with Natasha Chen the southern border in front of the Hildago, a Texas point of entry. So what more can you tell us about this threat from the president, what some officials are calling the breaking point?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Fred, President Trump has claimed that closing the border would be a profit-making move for the United States, but like you mentioned, Mexico is a big trading partner, and two miles away from us is where all the trucks come in and out with that cargo.
Just under half of the U.S. imported fruits and vegetables are from Mexico and right behind me you can see a lot of cars, people living in border towns crossing back and forth telling us this is part of their daily, weekly routine just to get to medical appointments or see family members. So this is going to be a major impact if, in fact, he decides to close that border.
Right now all the ports of entry are still open. Senior homeland security officials tell us that the plan is to move resources from ports like this to in-between ports where there may be more illegal immigration. I want to read a statement from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. She says, "Make no mistake, Americans may feel effects from this emergency as personnel are reallocated to join the crisis response effort. There may be commercial delays, higher vehicle wait times at the border and longer pedestrian lines. Despite these impacts we cannot shirk our responsibility to the American people to do everything possible to secure our country while also upholding our humanitarian values."
I want to show you bits of conversations we've had with people who are crossing from Texas into Mexico today when we asked them how a border shutdown would affect their lives.
CARLOS FLORES, VISITS FAMILY ACROSS THE BORDER: Once every time I get a chance, I go see my dad, he lives over there. He just acquired his visa. He's only been over here for like three or four times. My kids have barely met their granddaddy. I haven't even showed him around. Having this border getting shut down, what am I going to tell my kids, you know what, your grand dad can't come over here no more.
CHRIS LEACH, LIVES IN MEXICO AND WORKS IN THE U.S.: Everyday on (inaudible) bridge, sometimes that line for people coming from Mexico to go to the states can be up to two hours long, just to give you an idea of how many people are crossing to go to work.
CHEN: Now that speaker you just heard there, Chris Leech, he actually lives in Mexico and comes over to the U.S. side for work every day. He says he is a trump supporter but he acknowledges that if the president closes the border, he will be frustrated with how that affects his daily life, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Natasha Chen, thank you so much.
Coming up, the U.S. Justice Department says it will release the Mueller report within weeks. Democrats are still demanding it by April 2, so what is the holdup?
And we're live in El Paso, Texas where 2020 presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is officially kicking off his campaign and will take the stage at any moment.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. At any moment now former Congressman Beto O'Rourke be taking to that stage right there. You're looking at live pictures out of El Paso, Texas, his hometown. It's his first official address as a democratic presidential candidate, and we'll be watching and bringing it to you live as it happens.
> The U.S. Justice Department now says a redacted Mueller report could be released in a few weeks. The U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr says the redaction process is already under way with help from Robert Mueller. Barr says they may finish going over the nearly 400-page report by mid April if not sooner. Then after the release, Barr said he would be open to testifying on capitol hill starting May 1st. The president also says he welcomes the public release of the report.
TRUMP: I have great confidence in the attorney general, and if that's what he'd like to do, I have nothing to hide. This was a hoax. This was a witch hunt. I have absolutely nothing to hide, and I think a lot of things are coming out with respect to the other side.
WHITFIELD: CNN's Boris Sanchez is in West Palm Beach for us. Boris, good to see you. The president is at his Florida golf resort today as democrats are demanding the full release of the unredacted Mueller report by Tuesday. So what is the president's legal team saying about it?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Fred, well one of the president's attorneys, Rudy Giuliani is saying that democrats like the House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler are terrible people. Nadler and other democrats want the full release of the Mueller report to Congress. Nadler has set this deadline of April 2, that's this Tuesday and it's increasingly unlikely that they'll get the report that quickly.
As you pointed out, Barr sending them a letter saying it could be sent by mid April and he could testify by May. As you heard there, the president says that he wants transparency, that he has nothing to hide. But soon after he tweeted that he may not give democrats what they want, Suggesting that he might exert some form of executive privilege. Rudy Giuliani had a lot more to say about democrats and their efforts to get this full report released. Listen to more of what he said.
RUDY GUILIANI, ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: These are terrible, terrible people.
[12:30:01] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As you heard though, the president says that he wants transparency, that he has nothing to hide. But soon after, he tweeted that he may not give Democrats what they want, suggesting that he might exert some form of executive privilege.
Rudy Giuliani had a lot more to say about Democrats and their efforts to get this full report released. Listen to more of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: These are terrible, terrible people. I'm going to tell you what's involved in this that has nothing to do with what you want to put out. You cannot disclose grand jury material. It is a crime.
Now they can say April 2nd but Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein are not going to jail because they have an unrealistic deadline. So they may have to go to court and get a court order so they can release the report. That's what they had to do with Watergate.
So, they create these false impressions for the American people. They're like dishonorable salesmen or something. I mean, they're shysters. I mean, it's ridiculous to say to the American people that Barr is delaying because he wants to delay. He's delaying because it is very difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: And it's not just grand jury material that Barr could ultimately redact. They fall under several different categories, and of them is interesting. I want to read exactly what Barr wrote in a portion of his letter, "about information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interest of peripheral third parties." It's unclear what he's implying or who he's referring to there, Fred. And we may not find out if that material is ultimately redacted for quite some time.
I should point out we saw the president enter his golf course here, his golf club in West Palm Beach earlier in the day. We've yet to see him or find out whether he is golfing from the White House press team. However, he does not have any public events on his schedule. He does have, however, a roundtable discussion with supporters later tonight, Fred.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you so much. Boris Sanchez.
All right, the American public making it very clear what they want when it comes to the Mueller report. A CNN poll finds that 87 percent of voters say, yes, the Mueller report, you know, needs to be made public. Nine percent say no, it should not.
CNN Politics Reporter Greg Krieg joining us right now. So, Greg good to see you. The president says the Mueller report exonerates him even though the language in that letter says, you know, it doesn't exonerate him fully on certain matters. What are voters saying?
GREG KRIEG, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Fred, voters are less convinced than the president. Fifty-six percent of them say that they do not believe that he's been exonerated or fully exonerated as he put it. And that number is really not surprising. It kind of tracks with how people have felt about the investigation for, you know, months now. And it really also tracks along partisan lines which is probably isn't a surprise to most people.
And it also matches with another part of the poll which showed that -- about that number, I think it was 57 percent, said that they want to see Congress carry on the investigation or just, you know, keep -- you know, hold hearings or, you know, keep talking about this. They're not satisfied that what we know now or the summary, frankly, we don't obviously have the full report yet, they're not confident that we are really done with this. And I don't think they're ready to be done with this on some level.
Now, on the counterpoint, there are a lot of people who are tired of hearing about it. We went out this week, we talked to voters all around the country, six states, dozens of people. And I think something that gets lost sometimes in this polling is kind of, you know, the -- where people prioritize these questions.
They care but it's not their first, second or third priority in many cases. They're thinking about health care. They're thinking about, you know, debt. They're thinking about the stock market and their pensions.
So I think there is a kind of a two-track thing going on here where people, they care, they want to know more. As you were saying, they want to see that report, but at the same time, they're saying that it's not really going to affect how they feel about what's going on more broadly in the country.
WHITFIELD: All right, fascinating. Greg Krieg, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
All right, up next, President Trump says white nationalism is not on the rise but a new report from federal investigators may tell a very different story. We'll break down how authorities are cracking down on hate groups.
We're also live in El Paso, Texas where 2020 presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke will be taking to the stage right in the center of that mass of people there in El Paso. We'll bring that live as it happens.
[12:38:46] WHITFIELD: All right, live pictures right now out of El Paso, Texas where at any moment former Congressman Beto O'Rourke is expected to take to the stage in his first official address as a Democratic presidential candidate. And of course, we'll keep watching that and bring it to you live as it happens.
Meantime, less than two weeks after President Trump denied the threat from white nationalism being on the rise, a major announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice about a white supremacist gang known as the 1488. Federal authorities say 18 alleged members and associates operated a significant criminal enterprise, one that included murder, kidnapping, assault, and drugs and weapons trafficking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYAN SCHRODER, U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF ALASKA: The gang is prison-based like I said with approximately 50 to a hundred members. The gang is whites only, an important aspect to being a full member of the gang is their patch, a tattoo that incorporates Nazi symbols.
JEFFREY PETERSON, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI: The statutes that you're seeing charged today include racketeering. Racketeering on the same charges that we used to disrupt the mafia of the '80s and the '90s. They allow us to pursue not only the people that pulled the triggers but the people that called the shots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[12:40:00] WHITFIELD: All right, many of the charges, in this case, stem from the killing of a fellow gang member in 2017. One defendant is still on the loose, 37-year-old Glen Baldwin who is believed to be in Florida.
Joining me right now, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Jonathan Wackrow who was also a Secret Service agent under President Obama. So, Jonathan, the official did say this was a prison-based, you know, whites-only group, but how representative might this be of what other officials have said, a rise in white supremacists or white nationalist activity?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely. So listen, Fred, I think it's important to understand that this gang in Alaska is a prison gang. They're a criminal enterprise that follows a pretty traditional pattern of, you know, criminal activity, whether it's extortion, you know, involved in the drug trade, racketeering, et cetera. The key differentiator here is their link to different hate groups.
So, the 1488 gang in Alaska is a microcosm of a larger problem. This gang affiliated and based in hate just by their name, the 14 and 88. The 14 represents a slogan that has 14 words which are the foundation for white supremacy around the world. The 88 is indication -- is an indication of their affiliation in -- to anti-Semitic groups.
So, this group is representative of hate. It's a microcosm in Alaska. What happens internally to a group like this in the prison system is one thing. Once it transcends outside of the prison environment, that's really where we see a rising trend and a rising problem, is this dissemination of hate.
WHITFIELD: Is there any indication that that is happening while this is, you know, in-prison activity? Is there any evidence that it has infiltrated outside of?
WACKROW: Absolutely. Listen, you know, the discussion around the rise in white nationalism is ongoing and it's a growing problem throughout the United States and throughout the world. What we're actually seeing is let the data speak for itself. If you look at, you know, crimes that are committed by groups affiliated with white supremacy, white nationalism, they're significantly on the rise. Actually, in 2017 data will show that crimes linked and homicides linked to them have almost doubled.
So, you know, the data is clear that outside of the prison walls, outside of the prison environment, you know, crimes that are committed by people who are affiliated to white supremacist groups are significantly on the rise.
WHITFIELD: We've seen several deadly attacks, the latest in Christchurch, New Zealand at two mosques leaving 50 people dead. You know, the gunman is a self-avowed white supremacist. So what has been learned, what has law enforcement, you know, globally learned from that case, and how is it being applied to perhaps new measures to identify potential threats that are particularly, you know, white nationalist based?
WACKROW: Well, listen, I think that the tragic event in New Zealand just highlighted the significant problem that white nationalism, you know, is causing on our society as a whole, but it's also highlighting the challenges by law enforcement. There's a big difference between hate speech and hate crimes. And law enforcement has to, you know, ensure that they are dealing with everything appropriately.
So this isn't just a law enforcement issue to solve for the rise in white nationalism, hate speech in that narrative that goes along with it. This is a community issue, this is something that's rooted, you know, in the community that they have to rally around, developing a counter-narrative to hate. So whether it's, you know, white pride, you know, anti-Semitic, you know, sentiment, that's, you know, percolating through a community, the community combined with law enforcement has to take action around this.
And we saw that, you know, rising out of New Zealand. We saw the community coming together, you know, putting up a barrier to hate saying we will not accept this in our community. That's what has to happen time and time again to mitigate this threat.
WHITFIELD: At the same time the casualty count was very high. It was highly publicized, you know, because it was so tragic and horrible. Did white nationalist groups feel that they became rather empowered by that kind of attention?
WACKROW: Well, that incident, Fred, is causing a bigger problem because that crime was committed online live streaming. So instantaneously, that hate speech was disseminated globally to tens of millions of people. The utilization of the digital domain whether it's, you know, mainstream social media networks or fringe networks disseminating this hate speech is a challenge that, you know, everyone faces right now.
How do you counteract that rapid dissemination of hate, and in that instance, the desensitization -- desensitize the violent act? It was live streamed. It looked like a video game, and it's constantly on my phone, people are sending it to me saying, hey, have you seen this.
[12:45:03] So even though Facebook has said that they took down that live stream, it's still out there, still being disseminated. So, that's the challenge for our society today.
WHITFIELD: All right, Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much.
WACKROW: Thanks a lot. WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, new questions are emerging after charges against actor Jussie Smollett were suddenly dropped. The prosecutor in the case now saying she welcomes an investigation of her decision. What she had to say next.
And, we're live in El Paso, Texas where 2020 presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke soon to officially kick off his campaign, and he'll be taking to the stage. We'll take you there when it happens.
[12:50:09] WHITFIELD: All right, lots of excitement in El Paso, Texas as former Congressman Beto O'Rourke will soon take to the stage right there. This will be his official address as a Democratic presidential candidate and of course, we'll bring that to you live as it happens.
All right, just days after prosecutors dropped charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx is defending her decision in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune saying in part she welcomes an independent, non-political review of the case, and suggesting prosecutors might not have won the case in court.
She writes, "In determining whether or not to pursue charges, prosecutors are required to balance the severity of the crime against the likelihood of securing a conviction. For a variety of reasons including public statements made by the evidence in the case, my office believed the likelihood of securing a conviction was not certain."
CNN's Nick Watt is in Chicago for us. So, Kim Foxx's op-ed appears to, you know, really contradict her earlier statements about whether or not her office would have won a conviction in this case.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. I mean, she said just a couple of days ago on Thursday, she said this office believed they could prove him guilty. Now, when they dropped the charges, they said they dropped the charges only on the condition that Jussie Smollett give up that $10,000 bond he had posted, and also do community service. And in this op-ed, it's also very important to point out that Kim Foxx says that Jussie Smollett was not exonerated.
Now, this is despite the statement that he made after those charges were dropped in which he said, you know, I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of this. So right now it's a legal argument. Now, Kim Foxx 's office, they've been saying all along, this kind of alternative prosecutions, they happen tens of thousands of times a year.
On the other side of the argument, listen, this has become political. President Trump got involved, Rahm Emanuel got involved. Jesse Jackson has not got involved sticking up for Kim Foxx, so it's really a legal question. And the one other thing I want to make or the point I want to make on this is that the Illinois Prosecutor's Bar Association, they call this move to drop those charges, they call it, quote, abnormal. So this argument is going to roll on for quite some time. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Oh gosh. And -- so the outgoing mayor, you know, Rahm Emanuel, he was furious. You know, when he sent, you know, a bill in the amount of $130,000, you know, to Smollett for, you know, the cost of the investigation, but you mentioned already, you know, there was, I guess, a deal made. You pay that $10,000, you know, back, but did they miss their opportunity to try to get him to pay $130,000 as well on condition? As a condition?
WATT: Yes. I mean, listen, you know, Smollett's lawyers are saying he's paid all he needs to pay and, in fact, the only thing that is owed now is an apology to Jussie Smollett from Rahm Emanuel and the superintendent of the police. But yes, $130,000 and I think another 105.15. I mean, he's supposed to pay that by Thursday.
Now, the question is will they see any of that money? Probably not because, you know what, he wasn't actually convicted of anything. So it's then difficult to ask him for money for a crime that he wasn't actually convicted over. So legal opinion again is divided in that --
WHITFIELD: And that would be an admission, wouldn't it?
WATT: Yes. You know, Rahm Emanuel wants Jussie Smollett -- yes. Rahm Emanuel said kind of jokingly, oh, I want him to write, I am accountable in the memo section. Unlikely they will get that money, but they're asking for it.
WHITFIELD: Right. OK. Yes. And just to underscore your point earlier from, you know, Foxx, the prosecutor, you know, she wrote, he has not been exonerated, he has not been found innocent.
All right. Thank you so much, Nick Watt. Appreciate it.
Coming up, Beto O'Rourke making a big splash in his hometown, giving his first major 2020 campaign speech. We'll take you there live as it happens to El Paso.
But first, one family, two presidents. The CNN original series "The Bush Years: Family, Duty, Power" returns with an all-new episode tomorrow night. Here is a sneak peek.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've come here to tell you today this, I'm running for president of the United States. There's no turning back, and I intend to be the next president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only seven years after his father lost the presidency, George W. Bush announces his intention to run for the White House.
BUSH: I will give it my best shot. I'm going to speak from my heart. I'm going to talk about a hope for tomorrow. [12:55:01] I'm going to talk about uniting the country. And if it works out, I'm ready. And if it doesn't work out, me and the old boy will spend a lot of time fishing together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think initially there was some debate in the campaign about whether we should even go to Walker's point and do a family thing because that was one of the arguments against George Bush. It was a dynastic campaign.
BUSH: See you tomorrow.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think they want to take a couple of questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His father who's there in his presidential flight jacket loves the moment and at some point he gets in front of the microphone, standing right in front of his son who's announcing his candidacy and starts answering questions from the press. It's like he gets to be president again for a few minutes. And George W. must be thinking, damn it, dad, get out of the picture.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
G. BUSH: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Catch an all-new episode of "The Bush Years: Family, Duty, Power" tomorrow night, 10 Eastern only on CNN.