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Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders to Hold Fundraiser in San Francisco; President Trump Visits Japan to Meet with Prime Minster and New Emperor; Hiker in Maui Rescued after Being Lost for Weeks; Tulsa, Oklahoma, Faces Flooding after Tornado; Trump Administration to Authorize Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia and UAE; Judge Blocks Trump Administration's Attempt to Fund Border Wall without Congressional Approval; President Trump Reconsidering Pardons of U.S. Military Servicemembers Accused of War Crimes. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired May 25, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:23] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It's Saturday, May 25th. I'm Victor Blackwell.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jessica Dean in for Christi Paul. You're in the CNN Newsroom.
BLACKWELL: As he digs in against his rivals and tries to boost his fundraising, Bernie Sanders is going home. He's holding a rally in Vermont to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.
DEAN: This comes as he flips his own 2016 script, announcing a fundraiser in San Francisco next week, the exact kind of high-dollar event he criticized Hillary Clinton for holding in 16, and the type of event he's taking swipes at Joe Biden for in 2020. In a campaign e- mail, Sanders' campaign manager writes "It's going to be hard to catch up to Joe Biden's fundraising. He's raising huge sums of money at large fundraising events all across the country."
Sanders isn't the only Democrat passing up a chance to rest on this holiday weekend. Seven other Democrats are campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Nevada. Bernie Sanders getting ready to fill up his campaign coffers, but his poll numbers are on a downward spiral.
BLACKWELL: CNN's Harry Enten is with us now. Harry, these short-term dips in polling, how much do they matter?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: They matter in terms of those e-mails that you have to send out, right, and fundraising obviously dries up if in fact you are seeing your poll numbers drop. But over the longer term, I'm not necessarily sure there has been that drop for Bernie Sanders.
We can take a look at a Monmouth University poll that was out this week which I think illustrates the problems that Bernie Sanders is having, and that poll showed that Joe Biden was well ahead of the field at 33 percent, Bernie Sanders at 15, Kamala Harris 11, Warren at 10. But I think the key thing here is that Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have the same exact name recognition. Remember, Bernie Sanders ran for president last time around, and got about 42, 43 percent of the national Democratic primary vote. And the fact is, he is only at 15, and more than that, he is dropping from where he was a month ago when he was at 20 percent in this same exact Monmouth University poll. So it's not been a good couple of months for Bernie Sanders. We'll just put it that way.
DEAN: Also looking ahead to summer, Harry, we're all curious about this as well as we head into 2020. You've got kind of a fun poll that you took a look at in terms of when summer officially starts?
ENTEN: Yes, this to me is one of the more interesting things. When does summer begin? Is it the fact that summer begins when baseball season starts? Is it the fact that summer begins, say, on June 21st or 20th when it often does astronomically speaking? Or is it Memorial Day weekend? And what the polling shows is that most people believe that summer begins right now, we are sharing summer together. Jessica, Victor, you and me, we're all doing it. We're all enjoying summer. I think the sun is actually shining through in the studio.
BLACKWELL: He's so dramatic. He's so dramatic.
DEAN: Is that what the natural light is on your face there, sunshine?
BLACKWELL: I think all of these people are wrong.
DEAN: When do you think it starts?
BLACKWELL: Summer begins the first time I hear Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff's "Summertime" on the radio. That's the start of summer.
ENTEN: And when is that?
BLACKWELL: I don't know. The first hot day of the year when it hits 90 degrees.
DEAN: Was that not in my polling, Harry?
ENTEN: No, it's not in my polling. I can play that right now on YouTube, or I could play that say on Christmas Day on you tube. That doesn't mean summer begins then.
BLACKWELL: When I hear it on the radio, it starts for me.
ENTEN: Please, there's so many radio stations, I can get that playing anytime of the year.
BLACKWELL: He's so emotional. Harry Enten, thank you.
DEAN: Thanks so much.
ENTEN: Have a good ones, folks. Enjoy the summer rays.
BLACKWELL: All right, all right.
DEAN: You too.
BLACKWELL: Senator Kamala Harris has been pitching policy plans while on the campaign trail. But if you look for an issues page on a campaign website, you would not find one, until now. Harris has rolled out this issues and policy page online. Among the proposals she lays out is a plan to give the average teacher a $13,500 raise. Other issues include criminal justice reform, immigration reform, and a pledge to take executive action on guns.
DEAN: President Trump landed in Japan overnight for what's being billed as a mostly ceremonial state visit. He plans to play golf with the prime minister, attend a sumo wrestling match, and become the first foreign leader to meet Japan's new emperor.
BLACKWELL: It's happening while the U.S. and Japan are in the middle of a trade negotiations. And a trade war with China is also rattling up the markets. The president spoke to business leaders at the home of the U.S. ambassador, he took a shot at the Fed, reminded the hosts of their trade-imbalance with the U.S., and urged Japanese business leaders to invest in American businesses.
Let's go live now to CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez in Tokyo. Boris, is the president down for the night? What's up on the itinerary?
[10:05:08] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor and Jessica. President Trump taking it easy tonight after the long flight over from the United States. There was a brief pause in Alaska. The president meeting with some troops there before he got here to Tokyo. He met with those business leaders, as you mentioned, really talking about the strength of the U.S. and Japan relationship. This is really, as you said, a trip about demonstrating the strength of this alliance and the close relationship between Shinzo Abe and President Trump. Trump extensively spoke about just how important this relationship is to him, and his desire to have more Japanese investment in the American economy. Listen to what he told those business leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you join in seizing the incredible opportunities now before us in terms of investments in the United States, I think you're going to see tremendous return on your investments. It's my sincere hope that the Reiwa era, the economic ties between the United States and Japan continue to grow deeper and stronger, if that's possible. I think we right now probably have the best relationship with Japan that we've ever had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Despite having the best relationship he believes the United States has ever had with Japan, the two sides are still far apart on a potential bilateral trade deal. President Trump wants access to Japanese agricultural markets for American businesses. Shinzo Abe wants to dissuade President Trump from enacting those heavy tariffs on Japanese auto parts and electronics that he's threatened before. Still plenty to do to have that trade deal finalized. But beyond that, as we noted before, this is really a symbolic trip for President Trump.
Later today, or rather tomorrow here in Japan, he's going to go golfing with Shinzo Abe, something the two men often do when they are together. He's also going to attend a sumo wrestling tournament. I actually got a chance to go to the tournament earlier this week, and I have to tell you, it is really something the Japanese people adore. There were hundreds of school children losing their minds. So to have President Trump there handing this president's cup, this official trophy to the winner of that competition is likely something that is going to endear affection toward the American president by the Japanese people.
And of course, the big reason that he's here, he's going to be meeting with the new emperor, Naruhito, on Monday, that clearly a major significant moment for this key relationship for the U.S. and for Japan. Victor and Jessica?
BLACKWELL: A full red carpet rollout for President Trump. Boris Sanchez for us there in Tokyo. Thank you so much.
A federal judge has ruled President Trump cannot use Defense Department funds to build parts of his southern border wall.
DEAN: The judge said the Trump administration would need approval from Congress first to use those funds. The decision affects specific projects in Texas and Arizona that could have begun as early as today, according to the ruling. It does not prevent the use of funds from other sources. Now, this decision comes more than three months after the president declared a national emergency in order to put Pentagon funds toward border construction.
BLACKWELL: Coming up, President Trump bypasses Congress to push through arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and others. We'll tell you why and how.
DEAN: Plus, a tragic remind tore leave stunts to professionals. Two men in Louisiana tried to jump their car over a open drawbridge. We have got details on how their attempt turned out.
BLACKWELL: And a rescue in Maui, a missing hiker found alive after she disappeared more than two weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAVIER CANTELLOPS, LEAD RESCUER OF AMANDA ELLER: I looked to our right, and it was like a movie, man, like a double take. We all looked to our right, and it was like, look at that hiker. What, and out of the woodwork, you see Amanda Eller, my friend, coming out, waving her hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:12:29] BLACKWELL: More than two weeks ago, Amanda Eller went for a hike in the Maui forest reserve. But it wasn't until last night that her friends and family knew that she was alive.
DEAN: This is a picture of Amanda taken moments after a group of rescuers tracked her down. It turns out the 35-year-old yoga instructor had gotten lost while hiking through the forest. Here's how that rescue played out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there she goes. And there she goes. Yes. And now we can celebrate. Memorial Day weekend. We did it. Oh, my god.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Just ecstatic to have their friend back. And as you can imagine, her friends and family are calling this all a miracle.
DEAN: Missing more than two weeks, Amanda Eller is found alive in Maui, Hawaii. Her rescue was announced on this post on a Facebook page set up by family and friends. "Urgent update, Amanda has been found. She got lost and was stuck and slightly injured in the forest way, way out, somewhere way far above Twin Falls between two waterfalls down a deep ravine in a creek bed."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can cry now. It's awesome, man. That's like the best. You got a good Memorial Day now.
DEAN: A photo on the page showed Eller just before the air evacuation surrounded by members of a search team. She appeared to be only slightly injured. And this picture of the ravine where she was apparently found.
JULIA ELLER, AMANDA'S MOTHER: I was crying with tears of joy.
DEAN: Her mother, Julia Eller, told CNN affiliate KHON, Amanda used water sources and ate the berries she found, strawberries, guava, and other items to sustain her.
[10:15:08] ELLER: I never gave up hope for a minute, and even though at times, I would have those moments of despair, I stayed strong for her because I knew that we would find her if he we just stayed with the program. Stayed persistent.
DEAN: Authorities said Eller, a 35-year-old yoga instructor, disappeared after going on a hike May 8th. Her car was found with her cellphone inside at a forest reserve parking lot. A last image of her was captured on surveillance video buying a Mother's Day gift the day before she was reported missing. A $50,000 reward was being offered for information regarding her disappearance and possible abduction. But now there's an ending that some are calling miraculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable. If you believe in prayer, folks, thank your Lord, because this is an answer.
DEAN: So great to see that happy ending. Now earlier this morning, we spoke with Javier Cantellops, the lead rescuer on the helicopter to find Amanda Eller. Listen to how he described finding they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAVIER CANTELLOPS, LEAD RESCUER OF AMANDA ELLER: We're in an open air helicopter, no doors, and we're all hanging out, and we're going up this one particular gulch. We're right as the crow flies about seven miles east of where her car was found. But if you walked it, it would be more like 25 miles, just because of the up and down terrain.
But we're flying up this gulf, we're flying up this ravine, and as we're looking down, man, we're passing waterfalls and going up and the river continues, and we're passing waterfalls and the river continues up, and we're all looking around. And at the same time, we all look to our right, and it's like a movie, man, like a double take. We all look to our right, and it's like, look at that hiker. What? And out of the woodwork, you see Amanda Eller, man, my friend, coming up, waving her hands. We're about 200 feet up, 250 feet off the canopy, so it was unbelievable, dude.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Now, we understand Amanda Eller spent the night in the hospital and is receiving treatment for her injuries. Good to know she is back home with her family and friends.
DEAN: Officials in Oklahoma say at least two people have died after a week of severe weather slammed that state and another round of severe storms are expected this holiday weekend. That means more than 40 million people are under severe weather threats. And that threat is extending all the way from the Central Plains to the Great Lakes.
BLACKWELL: So look at this video from earlier this week, two homes hanging over the water in Oklahoma, hanging over because the flood waters wiped out the ground underneath them. Officials say more than 10 inches of heavy rain has led to widespread flooding there and it's impacted at least 1,000 homes. Let's go now to CNN International Correspondent Omar Jimenez who joins us from Tulsa where you have been talking to people who say that they're really shocked by all of this flooding. Understandable.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor, Jessica, it's no secret that when you live alongside a river, there's always a risk of flooding, but for a lot of people along the Arkansas River here in Oklahoma, they knew that but felt they were far enough inland where they wouldn't be affected by major situations. But this is not the case. This is the scene that a lot of people across the Tulsa area are waking up to this Memorial Day weekend, and it's a scene they have grown accustomed to over the course of the week.
This spot in particular, our crew was able to drive through here two days ago with no problem, and with no water. You can see it is a completely different story now. You can't even tell where the river begins and where the dry ground is supposed to begin. And you mentioned some of those residents we have been speaking to. One in particular said that she has been here for more than 30 years and has never seen anything like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA HALL, TULSA RESIDENT: This is the highest I've ever seen the water, and I have lived here over 30 years, with my husband, and I bought the house 31 to 32 years ago.
I walked to the end of the street and then everything is under water, and I wasn't going to go wading through because I didn't know what I might step on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: And another person we spoke to, we actually caught him only moments after he learned for the first time that his home did not survive the flooding. He was pretty emotional, almost didn't even have words to spit out as we caught him in those moments there.
And now moving forward, this isn't just a Tulsa problem. It's a statewide issue they are looking at right now. State emergency operations center still activated. State of emergency for all 77 counties across the state as well.
The big question now is what is the outlook moving forward? Well, the good news is the sun is expected to be out over much of the state over the course of the day today. But that is a little deceptive because a lot of this flooding is coming from the fact that, no matter what happens upstream from where we are here in Tulsa, all of those rivers and tributaries flow into this one spot and funnel down, and that is what we are seeing happen here in Tulsa.
[10:20:04] Specifically, you look at the Keystone Dam which is what controls the waterflow here for the city. They're letting about 250,000 cubic feet per second of water through. That's the equivalent of 1,000 school buses per second of water letting through, just to keep up with how high the water is.
DEAN: All right, sending our best to all of those people and hoping that those waters recede soon. Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: President Trump has approved selling arms to Saudi Arabia, and he's deploying troops to deter Iran. CNN National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd will join us next to tell us how this could end up.
Plus, 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg's message to fellow veterans on President Trump possibly preparing to pardon U.S. troops accused of war crimes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is eroding the integrity of the military and insulting the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: President Trump is approving the sale of billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan. But to push through the $8.1 billion sale, the president is using a rarely used federal law that allows him to bypass Congress. His actions come on the same day he approved sending 1,500 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran. Joining me now, CNN National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd. Sam, thanks for being with us.
[10:25:06] SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good morning.
DEAN: So the president is using a loophole for this arms sale, and he clearly wants to get this thing done. Do we know what these weapons are going to be used for, what his reasoning is here?
VINOGRAD: I think that's a great question, because aside from the fact that the president is really creating an emergency to bypass having to uphold something called the Arms Control Export Act, these weapons are going to be used by Saudi Arabia and potentially the UAE as part of a war that both Republicans and Democrats have expressed opposition to. That is the coalition led by Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen.
There are a few things that have bipartisan support in Washington these days, but Republicans and Democrats have called for an end to U.S. support for the war in Yemen. President Trump unfortunately vetoed a resolution that would have halted our support for that war. If these arms sales go through, which includes things like munitions that are being used if for this effort in Yemen, our weapons will continue to be used by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to do things like kill civilians.
So Secretary of State Pompeo, who notified Congress about this emergency yesterday, needs to own the fact that the United States is going to be selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates and others that are going to be used to continue to target civilians in Yemen.
DEAN: And I want to take a moment to talk about the troops in the Middle East as well. President Trump saying that we need additional troops there because Iran is such a threat. Has the threat from Iran actually increased? What is driving that decision, do you think?
VINOGRAD: I think it's very likely that the threat has increased. I think that it would be unlikely that the State Department would withdraw such a significant amount of people from Iraq if the threat hadn't increased. I think it's unlikely that the Pentagon would recommend the reallocation of assets to the Middle East theater if the threat hadn't increased.
But the question, Jessica is why has the threat increased. Iran has always been a threat. They were a threat in 2007 when I lived in Iraq and they used to lob rockets at us, but they're more of a threat today, not only because President Trump has made himself really the escalator in chief. He has chosen to take a series of steps that increase rather than decrease the threat from Iran. He has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal. He has engaged in a war of words with the Iranians unnecessarily that have escalated tensions, and his administration has done things like designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, which the military reportedly warned would increase the risk to U.S. assets. So the threat has increased, but that is partially because the administration has taken steps that have increased it.
DEAN: And do you think there's anything they could do to deescalate at this point, or is this just a train that's going to continue down the tracks?
VINOGRAD: I think we don't really know whether the administration has given any kind of diplomatic opening to Iran. President Trump engaged in a PR stunt when he invited the swiss to Washington. The swiss have represented our interest with the Iranians. That's a public play. We don't know if there is any backchannel diplomacy underway. My sincere hope is that there is and that the Iranians are in some way engaging with the United States privately about how we can deescalate that situation. That would not be something that would be playing out in front of the cameras, and my hope is that that is occurring.
DEAN: And before we go, we also know that the National Security Adviser, John Bolton, told reporters today North Korea tested ballistic missiles earlier this month, and that the nation is, quote, "violating Security Council resolutions, there's no doubt about that," referring to the U.N. Is he getting ahead of President Trump here? And also what about him talking about these tests that he said happened?
VINOGRAD: He said the b-word, ballistic missiles, which is something that President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo have not said. When he said that they violated U.N. Security Council resolutions, that includes a resolution in 1965 which condemns the use of ballistic missiles no matter what the range is, short range, intermediate range, or otherwise. And Bolton has gotten ahead of the president in the past. So it is very unclear to me whether he's in fact really talking about an administration decision here or he's just adlibbing and saying what he thinks.
We do know that President Trump is in Japan, Prime Minister Abe of Japan has previously said these tests violated U.N. Security Council resolutions. And the question, Jessica, now is what are we going to do about it? President Trump is more focused on the fact that Kim has upheld his supposed promise to not test intermediate range missiles or nuclear weapons, but the fact is that Kim continues to break international law. And for the time being, we're sitting back and taking it.
DEAN: More to come on that. Samantha Vinograd, I have to let you go. But thanks so much for being with us.
VINOGRAD: Thanks, Jessica. [10:30:00] BLACKWELL: The president is in Japan for a mostly ceremonial visit. He's meeting the emperor, he's hitting the links with the prime minister, watching a little sumo wrestling. Where are trade, North Korea, China on the itinerary? Or is this the art of the deal? I'll be asking our political regulators Maria Cardona and Alice Stewart, next.
DEAN: And Sunday on the new CNN original series "The Redemption Project" with Van Jones, see what happens when victims and offenders of violent crimes meet face-to-face. "The Redemption Project" airs tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern followed by "The United Shades of America" with W. Kamau Bell at 10:00 right here on CNN.
DEAN: Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg says President Trump should not give any presidential pardons for military crimes. Buttigieg, a veteran himself, President Trump was considering pardons for multiple service members accused of war crimes, but now says he'll wait until their trials are complete. Buttigieg says Trump is negatively affecting the military's integrity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So when the president joins in with this idea that it's just natural that if you serve in conflict, that you're going to wind up murdering somebody, he is eroding the integrity of the military and insulting the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Buttigieg also went on to criticize the president's lack of military service. Trump avoided the draft through a series of health deferments.
[10:35:03] BLACKWELL: The president is on a four day state visit to Japan meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two leaders will play a round of golf this week. It's one of several events they have planned. The president will head to a sumo wrestling match. It said that he will present a Trump cup to the winner. And of course there are all the lunches and dinners and banquets and all of those.
Let's discuss with Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator, Republican strategist and former Ted Cruz Communications Director, and Maria Cardona, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist. Ladies, welcome back.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Victor.
BLACKWELL: So Alice, let me start here with you. You've got your sumo wrestling, you're meeting the emperor, there's golf, all the pomp and circumstance. Where is North Korea? Where is trade? Where is the discussion over China? There's a lot to do. Should the president be doing more than just the state ceremonial visit? Shouldn't there be work getting done?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I imagine there will be a lot of work to be done. A lot of negotiations and much of negotiation isn't done sitting in two chairs in front of some flags with the media present. Golf is an important custom in Japan. Sumo wrestling is as well. And I can imagine they will be talking about these important issues while they are at those events.
And look, this is important for this president as he has been in trying to build and continue to grow this relationship with a big ally. He has already said, he spoke with business leaders already, and encouraged them to invest in America, and invest in our businesses. So that's an important take away that we have already seen out of this.
And the importance also, as I'm sure will come out of the conversations that they've had, is talking about China, and talking about North Korea, and how us and Japan and other allies in the region can work together to take on Japan and take on nuclear development in North Korea. So there will be a lot of talk amongst what looks like fun and games. These are serious talks they will be having, and that's an important part of building on that relationship.
BLACKWELL: Maria, do you think this trip is going to come up with some deliverables?
CARDONA: I hope Alice is right. I hope that the Trump administration follows what she just said should happen. But it's very doubtful that it will. We have seen that these visits by Trump, these state visits, really are nothing except for pomp and circumstance and photo ops, and ways to inflate this president's ego, sadly. But that has been the case with most state visits in the past. We have seen that a lot of the hardcore negotiation that happens, that Alice said should happen between the president and the head of state that he's going to visit, normally happens at the lower levels. And frankly, when there are announcements about those lower level meetings, a lot of times the president just comes out and publicly degrades what had been decided.
So I think that this visit, right now at least, is nothing but a way for Trump to, number one, inflate his own ego because what we have seen from the prime minister of Japan is that he has Trump's number on this. He knows how to get things out of Trump. And how do you do that? By inflating his ego, by doing things where he will be the sole focus, by telling him he'll be the first one to meet the ascension of the emperor. He loves that kind of stuff. But sadly, I don't think it will do anything to advance our key strategies and American interests in the region.
BLACKWELL: Let's turn to the next topic. Alice, this one is for you. A federal judge blocked President Trump from using Department of Defense funds to build his border wall along the southern border, and the judge writes this, "The position that when Congress declines the executive's request to appropriate funds, the executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds without Congress, does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of the republic," and you'll see, "without Congress" was in quotes there, the judge quoting the acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in a television interview.
Should the president be so confident, because that was the position of plenty of Senate Republicans when they sent a resolution to the White House that the president had to veto that you can't just go around us and find the money anyway when we say we're not going to appropriate it. Should the president be so confident that he will get the access to the money for his border wall?
STEWART: I think he should, because this is to be expected. It's not a surprise whatsoever that an unelected judge appointed by President Obama took steps to try and stop this. And the president has been committed from the day he took office to building the wall and securing the border, and he's going to continue to work on that campaign promise. And it's something that he feels is important enough to declare a national emergency. And so whether he takes it through this funding stream or another, he will continue to put his focus on a key priority for him and for this nation. And this, I'm sure will go to a higher court, and if it doesn't go through, there are other ways to get the money. This was one, but the president is not going to let that stop him from such a key priority.
[10:40:01] BLACKWELL: Maria?
CARDONA: I think that, again, this is an indication that this president has huge autocratic tendencies, he doesn't believe in the separation of powers. He has done a lot of things that frankly recently in the past week or so, we have seen that the courts really are functioning as they should. When the president tries to ignore congress, it goes to the courts, and the courts are going to be a epidemic which check on that presidential executive power the way that our founding fathers intended.
So I don't think he should be that confident. I agree with Alice that he's going to continue to try to do whatever he can come hell or high water to try to keep his, frankly, ridiculous, and I think, does not really make sense campaign promise of this border wall because it doesn't really focus on a real solution. And I think what this judge has said is that the president needs to understand that there is a separation of powers, that he can't just go around Congress. And it's not just a Democratic ideal, frankly, a lot of Republican members do not agree with this president.
BLACKWELL: Bipartisan sentiment that says the president cannot go back and forth.
CARDONA: Exactly. That's exactly right.
STEWART: Victor, Victor. If I can just say --
BLACKWELL: We've got to take a quick break. We've got to take a quick break. But I want you to stay with us, because we have two more topics to hit. I want to talk about the president sending those 1,500 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran, the president's possible pardon for accused war criminals as well. So stay with us.
DEAN: Also a stunt usually seen in the movies turns into a tragedy. Two men in Louisiana try to jump their car over an open drawbridge. What witnesses told police leading up to that incident.
[10:45:38] BLACKWELL: Alice Stewart and Maria Cardona are back with us. I want to talk now about the president now selling more than $8 billion in arms to the Saudis, to the Emiratis, to others. This was determined by the secretary of state to be a national emergency, and Democrats here, they're not surprised, not flabbergasted about this, but they are unhappy about it. Our legal expert Shan Wu, Maria, says that President Reagan did this, both Bushs, they did something similar, national emergencies they declared. Is this different in some way?
CARDONA: Well, we'll see. We'll see what ends up happening. I think it is only because we talked about this in the last segment. I think this contours with the president's tendency to when he can't get his way to try to go around Congress. If he really believed that this was absolutely necessary for the security of the nation, that if we didn't do this, we would be in grave danger, then he would put it before Congress, which is the way that you have to do it normally through normal Congressional protocol.
BLACKWELL: Congress is afforded 30 days notification period.
CARDONA: That's exactly right.
CARDONA: And the other point to make here is that Saudi Arabia has been a really bad actor recently. They have condoned and frankly been the ones to murder a journalist, which this president doesn't seem to care about, and this administration doesn't seem to care about. It seems like some of the arms that we have sold to them in the past have ended up hurting and killing people in the war that they have with Yemen, which is why the Obama administration stopped selling arms to them, again, something this administration doesn't seem to care about. And so when you look at the issue of human rights, when you look at the issue of congressional power, these are all things this president doesn't care about.
BLACKWELL: So Alice, to you, why isn't this another example of the president trying to circumvent the purview, the powers of Congress, like we have seen the trend of the president saying that the Congress has no oversight role over certain elements it's attempting to investigate currently?
STEWART: Victor, I'm old enough to remember when President Obama said got my pen and my phone if he doesn't like what Congress did. And in this situation, I agree wholeheartedly with Secretary Pompeo that this is a situation that needs to be addressed. If anyone is someone who has increased tension and increased their rhetoric, it's Iran. And it's important for us to, in order to address the issues that they are imposing on America and in the Middle East, this is important for us to make these deals. As Pompeo said, this is a one-time deal, and it will help ensure stability in the Middle East, and it's important to do so. We don't know what all the secretary knows. We don't know what the
president knows. But if they say this is important to do not just for security and stability in the Middle East but for America as well, I take them at their word. And this is an important deal to make, and I hope it's a one time, one-time only deal, but if they say this is the right move, I trust them.
BLACKWELL: You trust them.
OK, we've got just a minute left, and I want to talk about Chief Eddie Gallagher, a Navy Seal who is facing war crimes, charges, accusations that he stabbed and killed a wounded person and shot unarmed people. The president has requested documents, considering pardoning him, and now says that he'll wait until after the trial. But Alice, what is the win here for the president? Also asked for documents for potential pardon of Marines who urinated on corpses of Taliban fighters. What's the strategy here for pardoning these men? First, he was thinking about doing it before the trials.
STEWART: I am glad that he took a step back and listened to the advice of others and decided he would wait until after these people are adjudicated. Former Navy Seal and Congressman Dan Crenshaw said the preemptive pardons need to be reconsidered. I'm glad he's doing that. But his idea and the notion, especially around Memorial Day, that we consider the stress and the tension that our military officers go through, needs to be considered. But I think it is the right move to wait until we hear all of the evidence. Let these people be adjudicated in the military courts.
BLACKWELL: Consider the stress and the tension for marines who are convicted of urinating on corporations and for a Navy Seal accused of killing --
[10:50:04] STEWART: Not them. Those were wrong. I'm talking about in the broader context. Certainly not those people.
BLACKWELL: Maria, go ahead.
CARDONA: Yes, but the thing is these are exactly the ones that he's considering. This shouldn't even be a consideration, Victor. The fact that he's considering it completely bastardizes the reason why these presidential pardons exist, which is to inject justice, to make things in a balance, to look at the virtues and perhaps the injustices that have occurred for some of these folks.
There was no injustice here. It's very clear what these members of the military did. And what they did was completely degrade the very values that our military men and women go overseas and risk life and limb for every single day. The president should not even be considering this. It's a slap in the face of our military.
BLACKWELL: He has certainly heard from the military, from several members of the military saying just that, and he's now at least saying that he's going to wait until after their trials.
Maria Cardona, Alice Stewart, thank you both. CARDONA: Thanks, Victor.
STEWART: Thanks, Victor.
BLACKWELL: We'll be right back.
BLACKWELL: Well, Memorial Day marks the start of summer, and spending quality time with loved ones, but a holiday which honors servicemembers who have given their lives for their country can be difficult for people mourning a family member.
[10:50:00] DEAN: This week's CNN hero lost her father when she was 14 and struggled with depression for more than a decade. Now Mary Robinson is making sure other children don't lose years of their lives to unresolved grief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Bella and my dad died.
MARY ROBINSON, CNN HERO: Kids in grief are kids at risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Jaden, and my mom died.
ROBINSON: Time does not heal all wounds. Time helps, but it's what you do with that time, and what you need to do is mourn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you hear other people's stories, it kind of brings comfort.
ROBINSON: That's why a place like Imagine exists, to give children a place to mourn their loss and find out that they're not alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Well, to meet some of the families that Mary is helping and to nominate someone you think who should be a CNN Hero, go to CNNHeroes.com.
DEAN: Two men are dead after trying to jump their car over an open drawbridge. Louisiana state police say the driver pulled up to the bridge while it was closed because of a passing boat. A witness told police the passenger then got out and lifted the gate for the car to pass underneath. They then tried to reverse and accelerate to race up the ramp, but the airborne car landed in the water and sank. Investigators are working to determine whether alcohol or drugs were a factor.
Thanks so much for watching this morning. Don't forget to tweet us at @JessicaDean and @VictorBlackwell.
BLACKWELL: Yes, at @VictorBlackwell on both Twitter and Instagram. There's much more ahead in the next hour of CNN's Newsroom. It's coming up after a quick break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)