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Interview with Keith Boykin; Melania Trump to Push Be Best Campaign Forward Today; Mike Pompeo Cancels Meeting with Angela Merkel to Head to Undisclosed Location. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 7, 2019 - 10:30   ET




[10:31:39] MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I need help. So the black voters who know me best, the people of South Bend, helped return me to office by an overwhelming margin. But out here, people are just getting to know me. And trust, in part, is a function of quantity time.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: That was presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, seeing a problem as he campaigns for 2020. His crowds in South Carolina, showing very little diversity in a state where the Democratic electorate is overwhelmingly African-American. Let's discuss with Keith Boykin. He's a former Clinton White House aide and Democratic strategist.

So Buttigieg, conscious there that he's not energizing African- American voters, which he'll need to win this nomination. Why is that?

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Well, I think it's an important acknowledgement on his part. First of all, black voters made up 61 percent of the Democratic primary vote in South Carolina in 2016. And any candidate who hopes to win in 2020 is going to have to get that vote.

I don't think people know who Pete Buttigieg is in the black community or in -- overall right now. But I don't think people who know any of the candidates right now -- there's 22, I think, candidates who are running on (ph) the Democratic side (ph), or something like that. And people are just now getting introduced to them.

Joe Biden right now is leading in the black vote. He has a history because he has a long record of working in African-American communities, but also because he was associated with the most popular African-American president, the only African-American president, Barack Obama. So that actually helps him and works in his favor.

But --


SCIUTTO: Go ahead. I'm curious. He has said that once African- Americans get to know him, as they did in South Bend, Indiana, where of course he is mayor, that they end up supporting him.

So is the key, in your view, as you were saying, really what -- whether they know him as opposed to what they know about him?

BOYKIN: Well, it's both. Because even if you -- even if they do like him, remember, there are other candidates in the race. There are --


BOYKIN: -- three African-American candidates in the race: Wayne Messam, Kamala Harris and Corey Booker in the race as well. And Joe Biden has supported being associated with Barack Obama. So there's no guarantee they're going to drift to Pete Buttigieg, even if they do learn more about him, because there are other options out there.

But remember what happened in 2008 and 2016. In 2008, Hillary Clinton was leading in the black vote, all the way up until Iowa. When Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucus, suddenly the black vote shifted to Barack Obama.

But there's no guarantee that even though Biden is winning in the black vote, now he'll continue having that after next year.

SCIUTTO: Yes. We forget history quickly --

BOYKIN: We certainly do.

SCIUTTO: -- about (ph) -- unassailable frontrunners.

But it's interesting, this issue about lack of excitement and name recognition for a candidate like Buttigieg. Not confined to him. As you say, Kamala Harris, of course, African-American. But she -- she and Corey Booker, to some extent, face a similar problem.

BOYKIN: They do. And again, it's sort of facing the Barack Obama problem from 2008, in that people, either they may like the candidate but -- or they don't know the candidate, but they don't necessarily think that candidate can win. And I think a lot of black people in 2008 had that sort of same sentiment, like "We may like Obama, but we're not sure if he can win."

But I think the issue with Kamala Harris is, she talks about electability. She made a great --


BOYKIN: -- speech about that the other day to the NAACP. And she kind of countered the narrative that you can't win if you're not a white male. And one of the great arguments against that is that the fact that the two people who've gotten the most votes for the presidency in our history, one was Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And the second was Hillary Clinton. SCIUTTO: Yes.

BOYKIN: Neither one of them were white men --


BOYKIN: -- and they both got more votes than Donald Trump. So it's not clear that just because she's not a white man, that she can't win. Or you can't also ignore the fact that she's a senator from California, the largest state in the nation.

[10:35:09] SCIUTTO: Yes.

BOYKIN: So once people get to know her -- we start having debates next month -- people will have a better chance of -- of understanding and weighing how the candidates stand up on a stage.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And that could provide one of those turning moments you talk about, right? Where, you know, who -- the unassailable leader may no longer be so unassailable.

Keith Boykin, great to have you on. Thanks very much.

BOYKIN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Just minutes from now, the president will join the first lady in the Rose Garden to push forward her Be Best Campaign.

Today marks one year since Melania Trump launched the platform to help children, focusing on their well-being, their social media use as well as opioid abuse. But her campaign has also done something else: put the spotlight on the very different contradictory message that her husband is sending, particularly online.

TEXT: Donald J. Trump: Despite the fact that the Mueller Report should not have been authorized in the first place and was written as nastily as possible by 13 (18) Angry Democrats who were true Trump Haters, including highly conflicted Bob Mueller himself, the end result is No Collusion, No Obstruction!

Donald J. Trump: We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan). We are ready for the big one that is coming!

SCIUTTO: The attacks are frequent and they're widespread, from Special Counsel Robert Mueller to the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

TEXT: Donald J. Trump: Spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier "is unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain," Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel. He had far worse "stains" than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!

Donald J. Trump: So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) "last in his class" (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He and the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!

SCIUTTO: Even the late senator, John McCain, who he attacked just this past March, going after Senator McCain for his vote against repealing and replacing Obamacare. Trump would later go on to call McCain "last in his class."

TEXT: Donald J. Trump: I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)! I look forward to facing whoever it may be. May God Rest Their Soul!

Donald J. Trump: Watched the debate last night and Beto O'Rourke, who wants higher taxes and far more regulations, is not in the same league with Ted Crus and what the great people of Texas stand for and want. Ted is strong on Crime, Border and 2nd A, loves our Military, Vets, Low Taxes. Beto is a Flake!

Donald J. Trump: @elizabethforma (ph) Goofy Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas because she faked the fact she is native American, is a lowlife!

Donald J. Trump: Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office "begging" for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill and Crooked-USED!

SCIUTTO: Is that Be Best? And look at the 2020 Democratic field. He calls Joe Biden, "sleepy;" Bernie Sanders, "crazy;" Elizabeth Warren, "Pocahontas" and "goofy;" Beto O'Rourke, he calls him "a flake." Kirsten Gillibrand, "a lightweight." You get the idea.

But when it comes to the first lady's Be Best Initiative, it does not seem that the president gets the message.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is skipping a planned trip to Germany but no one knows where he is headed next. A live report on that abrupt change of plans, coming up.


[10:41:20] SCIUTTO: The State Department is staying tight-lipped about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's travel plans, after he abruptly cancelled a trip to Germany just this morning.

Pompeo was scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel this afternoon. But the State Department cancelled the meeting, citing, quote, "pressing issues." What are those pressing issues? CNN's senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski joins me now.

Michelle, as you know, the press pool traveling with Pompeo says they haven't even been told where they're going next. Do we know why the cancellation and where they might be going? MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well,

no. The State Department isn't giving any detail yet. Just as you said, they're calling it "a pressing issue." The pool was told, "We need to leave. We're going to this undisclosed location. We're not going to tell you right now where we're going. And by the way, once we get there, you may not be able to report on it or tell anybody about what's going on there until you leave this location."

So the question is, how urgent is this matter, that the secretary of state needs to go to this location? What will he be doing there? Or is this a show of support?

You know, there's a lot of lack of clarity there, obviously. But the State Department generally acts this way over travel when the secretary would be going to an area of open hostilities, a war zone. So let that guide your thinking on where exactly he could be touching down within the next several hours -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: All right. Big U.S. carrier group going to the Persian Gulf now. U.S. officials are saying this is in response to a specific and credible threat. What is that threat?

TEXT: Carrier strike group sent to Middle East: USS Abraham Lincoln; USS Leyte Gulf; USS Bainbridge; USS Mason; USS Nitze

KOSINSKI: Yes. So this was a threat that Iran or its proxies were targeting U.S. assets in the Middle East or U.S. allies. So the U.S. had this carrier group in the Adriatic Sea. On Sunday, the move came to suddenly move it to near the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf.

So the U.S., you know, there's been speculation that, well (ph), this was planned for some time. But the administration is insisting that this was based on urgent information that Iran was planning an attack. So they wanted to move this group there as a show of force. And also, according to National Security Advisor John Bolton, to send the message that if Iran does try to attack U.S. assets or allies, it would be met with relentless force.

So there's lot of speculation, obviously, that this Pompeo unexpected trip is going to be in conjunction with this, something to do with Iran. And that's something we're waiting to see -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Michelle Kosinski at the State Department. Thank you.

[10:43:59] Houston police in a frantic search now for a missing girl after her stepfather says that she was abducted by three men. We'll have the latest, next.


SCIUTTO: The owner of the horse disqualified after winning the Kentucky Derby says he is not ready to give up. Gary West, the owner of Maximum Security, says he will sue to overturn the decision made by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, after they denied his appeal. CNN correspondent Martin Savidge is live in Louisville, Kentucky.

I mean, this is such a historic turnaround here. I mean, are there -- is there any more recourse to try to get this victory back?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you listen to Gary West, the owner there, he believes that his battle has only just begun. It does look exactly like we are sort of headed around the far turn and going straight into a courtroom, when it comes to possibly changing the outcome of the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

This appeal that was done to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, was pretty much dead on arrival. And that's because the law or the rules are very plain. They read, "When it comes to the stewards disqualifying the horse, findings of fact and determination shall be final and not subject to appeal." So the idea they tried to appeal in the first place, was really, it seems almost out of desperation.

[10:50:14] In that appeal process, the argument was being made by Maximum Security, that this was a capricious kind of decision that was made by these referees, and they really didn't have a lot of fact on which to base it. Well, the referee said, "We had (ph) a lot of video and we actually talked to the jockeys that were riding in the race."

Gary West was on TV last night. He's actually blaming another horse in the race.


GARY WEST, OWNER, MAXIMUM SECURITY: You will find that the one horse actually caused the infraction, not our horse. And if the one horse, I believe it will eventually show, that if the one horse would have finished ahead of our horse, we would have had every right in the world to claim an objection.


SAVIDGE: So a lawsuit seems to be next. Will it be state or federal court? That's the real question. Federal court, it's rare that an outcome is overturned. But I didn't use the word "never," so there could be some hope for Maximum Security. Thank you, Jim.


SCIUTTO: He (ph) led (ph) from start to finish. It just seemed like particular circumstances. Martin Savidge, thanks very much.

President Trump has pardoned a former Army lieutenant who killed an Iraqi detainee in 2009. Military prosecutors say that Michael Behenna killed a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist to avenge the deaths of two soldiers who died in a roadside bombing. Behenna claimed he was acting in self-defense. A military court sentenced him to 25 years in prison, but that sentence was reduced on appeal and he has been out on parole since 2014.

TEXT: "This pardon is a presidential endorsement of a murder that violated the military's own code of justice." Hina Shamsi, National Security Project Director, ACLU

SCIUTTO: In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union called the pardon, quote, "a presidential endorsement of a murder that violated the military's own code of justice."

A frantic search is now under way in Houston for a four-year-old girl reported missing last week. Maleah Davis's stepfather says three men abducted the girl, her brother and him on Friday night. He says the men knocked him unconscious. When he woke up 24 hours later, he says the men had released him and his one-year-old son. But Maleah was nowhere to be found.

This as we are learning new details about the girl's home life before her disappearance. CNN's Nick Valencia joins me now.

So, Nick, you're with the search party right now, looking for this poor little girl. What are you learning?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, there are a lot of gaps in the stepfather's story. He tells police on Friday night, he was on his way to the airport with four-year-old Maleah and her one-year-old brother, to go pick up the children's mother. He hears a sound coming from the car. He thinks he has a flat tire so he gets out to check that.

TEXT: Amber alert for Maleah Davis: Height: 3 ft.; Weight: 30 to 40 lbs.; Last seen wearing light blue Under Armour jacket, blue jeans, gray Under Armour tennis shoes with pink and white details, pink bow in her hair; Suspects: 3 men in blue crew-cab Chevy pickup truck, possibly 2010 model

VALENCIA: That's when he tells police he was approached by two Hispanic men who purportedly said something about the four-year-old little girl's appearance. Next thing he knows, he tells police, he's being knocked unconscious and he doesn't fully regain consciousness until 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.

It takes his about five hours to finally get medical treatment. It's then that he finally reports Maleah missing. It is worth noting as well, the mother (ph) was expecting (ph) to be picked up by the fiance -- the stepfather, I should say -- and the two children.

She doesn't file her police report until Saturday morning. A (ph) lot of gaps in the stepfather's story. So far, he's not a suspect but police have been unable to corroborate or verify his story -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, the other information here is that Child Protective Services had been called to the home in the past. What do we know?

VALENCIA: Yes. A family source tells me that it was late last year that Maleah fell and hit her head on the edge of a table. The injury required two brain surgeries --


VALENCIA: -- and it was sometime during her treatment that it was discovered that she had potential signs of physical abuse, prior trauma. That led to the CPS investigation.

TEXT: Missing four-year-old girl Maleah Davis: Past abuse allegations against family: August 2018, Maleah, two brothers removed from home; Abuse allegations stemmed from head injury Maleah had. February 2019, Judge ordered children returned to home; Required monthly checks by protective services

VALENCIA: Those children, Maleah and her two siblings, were taken away from the mother and the stepfather, only to be returned in February. A judge ordered them back to -- to the house. But Child Protective Services was still visiting the family on a monthly basis.

I've been texting with the mother over the course of the last two days. She says she's overwhelmed, extremely anxious. And she also tells her local affiliate that she's terrified for Maleah Davis.

You mentioned the search party, Jim. EquuSearch has now joined the search. They are known for their alternative methods of looking for missing persons. We're in this area because the stepfather says he briefly regained consciousness. This is the intersection where he remembers being. They're focusing the search here, on this wooded area -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, we hope there's the possibility of good news for this little girl. Nick Valencia, thanks very much.

[10:54:29] Time is now running out. Can House Democrats reach a deal to see the unredacted Mueller report? Or will they hold a vote to hold the attorney general in contempt? Stay with CNN.