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Tornadoes Wreaking Havoc from Kansas to PA; Biden Responds to Trump's Siding with Kim Jong-un on Public Remarks About Him; Beto O'Rourke Unveils His New Immigration Plan; Supreme Court Sidesteps Abortion Question in Indiana Ruling. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired May 29, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
[07:00:03] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. Breaking news this morning, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, huge swaths of Pennsylvania, even here in New York City, be on the lookout for swaths of the area, be on the lookout for tornadoes.
Thirty-nine million people in the path of extreme weather today. In the last two weeks alone, more than 300 tornadoes have cut a path of destruction across the country. Nearly two dozen tornadoes were reported yesterday.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The Kansas City area was hit hard. There was extensive damage, as you can see from these aerial shots. The mayor says dozens of homes in his area are, quote, "all gone."
So let's begin our coverage with Scott McLean. He is live for us in Linwood, Kansas. What's the situation there, Scott?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alisyn.
Now that the sun has come up, we're starting to get a better sense of the scale of the destruction. And in this area in Linwood, it is vast.
You can see over there that house largely intact. But look at next door, there's only one wall remaining. As we look across the landscape, you can see houses destroyed. You can see this large debris field here. You can imagine just how strong the winds had to be.
This was an EF-3. Early indications are saying that means wind speeds were at least 136 miles per hour. Look at what it did to this house. It is hard to believe that that is what is left of someone's home, someone's belongings. This might have been their garage, but it is really hard to tell.
This row of trees here just snapped like matchsticks here. And look at this. This is an RV. We don't know how it got there. But we know that it has now flipped on its back, completely upside-down.
And look across the street. That house right there, well, the roof was completely ripped off. And look at right in front of it. There was a mattress stuck to that tree. You can imagine just how strong the winds had to be to cause that. Now we know that May is typically the worst month for tornadoes. This Maybe has been especially bad.
MCLEAN (voice-over): Severe storms sweeping through the Midwest and heartland to the East Coast, hammering millions and leaving behind a path of destruction, the 13th day in a row that tornadoes have touched down in the United States. A large and powerful tornado ripping through the Kansas City area on Tuesday night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing left of that house. Just crumbled completely.
MCLEAN: The storm creating a heartbreaking reality for many residents here, completely stripping the side of this house, its bed and bathroom now visible from the sidewalk. This father's home levelled but grateful to have survived the storm with his family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were underneath the one part of the house that didn't get taken. I feel lucky I'm alive. So I mean, how much luckier can you be?
MCLEAN: Take a look from above, a bird's eye view inside ruined homes. The storm ravaging Douglas County, Kansas, injuring at least 12 people and destroying stretches of homes and businesses, leaving behind giant piles of debris.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just imagine what the people inside of that house went through.
MCLEAN: Another tornado confirmed overnight in Pennsylvania.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what I thought was leaves circling was actually shingles.
MCLEAN: Ripping through this town, uprooting trees and damaging several homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you drive around and see the destruction, you really realize how lucky we are that nobody was hurt.
MCLEAN: The cleanup is just beginning in the Dayton area after Monday's devastating tornadoes. The rebuilding there could take years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Devastation. World War 3. It's tough.
MCLEAN: At least eight confirmed tornadoes touching down in Ohio this week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just came through like a freight train, and it seemed like it lasted forever. I was just holding my kids as tight as I could.
MCLEAN: The storm gutting this home with its ceiling fan still holding onto what's left of the structure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went through, looked at house after house. And you wonder how anybody came out of those houses alive.
MCLEAN: Now luckily, this tornado seemed to break apart before reaching the Kansas City area. It is the first time that they heard sirens in downtown Kansas City in eight years.
At the airport they were taking shelter in parking garage tunnels. The runways were actually closed for more than four hours, because there was so much debris on them, debris they think was from this area almost 50 miles away. They saw household items, bits of houses. You can imagine what else might have ended up on those runways, carried that amazing distance there.
Now, this area is going to be in the clear in terms of severe weather for the next two days. But there are nearly 40 million people at risk of seeing a strong tornado across the country today -- John, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: The numbers are stunning.
BERMAN: I'm just looking at the pictures behind Scott right there. And we are, again, watching these storms today as they move to the east.
Meanwhile, new developments in the president's campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden. The Biden campaign hit back after the president sided with Kim Jong-un and his opinion of Biden.
Joining us now is Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for "The New York Times" and a CNN political analyst.
I want to read the statement that came from the Biden campaign. And they were eager to point out that they waited to release the statement until the president had returned from his overseas trip. This is what the Biden campaign said: "The president's comments are beneath the dignity of the office. To be on foreign soil on Memorial Day and side repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former vice president speaks for itself, and it's part of a pattern of embracing autocrats at the expense of our institutions. Whether taking Putin's word at face value in Helsinki or exchanging love letters with Kim Jong-un."
To me, the interesting thing here is how the Biden campaign just keeps saying, "Thank you," essentially, to the president's attacks on him.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I want to separate two things out. I think there is no question that, politically, this is helpful to Biden in the sense that the president has been so singularly focused on him, including to the point, literally, of distraction while he was on this trip in Japan.
He was on Twitter. My colleague, Annie Karni, wrote a great piece about how he just sort of couldn't seem to stay in the moment. And so politically, there's a reason that the president's own advisers asked him to stop targeting Biden himself. They do think Biden needs to be dealt with as a political threat but that they don't deploy their biggest weapon against him.
On a separate note, what happened this weekend with what the president said on Twitter, siding with Kim Jong-un -- and he did. I understand that the president tweeted yesterday, "No, he didn't do it." Yes, he did. His first tweet was very clear about that.
That was a pretty astonishing moment. And it really didn't actually get anywhere near the attention that I think it might have had, had it not been a holiday weekend but also had people not become kind of inured to the things that this president does.
But that was striking. And the Biden campaign clearly made a decision to highlight how unusual that was, so it didn't just become a normal back and forth, and waited to point out to people, especially for younger reporters who might not know this is not how politics have traditionally worked in this country.
CAMEROTA: Such a great point. It was unprecedented. It was unprecedented on foreign soil to, as they say, side with a murderous dictator. And I mean, we just couldn't underscore that enough.
And you can tell --
HABERMAN: As opposed to when the president was doing it here.
HABERMAN: He's been -- he's been offered all kinds of praise for Kim Jong-un over his own advisors' objections while he is here. But it was the doing it while he was overseas on Memorial Day weekend that was --
BERMAN: Side by side with an ally who's in missile range --
BERMAN: -- of North Korea, with missiles they're testing.
CAMEROTA: And testing missiles.
CAMEROTA: But you -- I think -- you can tell me, because you studied this more. That it obviously affected the president or got under his skin, because he tried to clean it up on Twitter.
HABERMAN: I think that there was a recognition, if it wasn't that the president -- got under the president's skin. There was a recognition that this went a step too far. And I think his own people were able to say to him this went a step too far, so he ended up doing what he often does, which is, "I didn't say what you saw me say."
And I -- you know, that worked for him very well during the 2016 campaign, saying that he didn't say something that he had previously said, sometimes seconds earlier, because people were sort of disoriented by the way he approaches these things. I don't know that that's going to work as well now, but we'll see.
BERMAN: You asked an interesting question, which is do the attacks on Joe Biden -- are they happening just because Biden is the frontrunner, or are they happening because the president has a particular bee in his bonnet?
HABERMAN: I mean, I think that he associates him with Obama in a specific way. I think that he is somebody who he knows and who he has watched over the years.
Remember, Joe Biden's first political campaign was in the 1980s. His presidential campaign was in the 1980s. This president's cultural touchstones tend to be around that time in history. So I think that's part of it.
But I do think the fact that Biden is doing really well in every poll and the fact that he sees on TV all of these polls where Biden is clearly -- look, the polls will tighten, because that's always the way this works.
But he does see that Biden opened up a lot of ground and the campaign's internal polling showed that -- that Biden would best the president if the campaign was today. So I think that gets in his head.
CAMEROTA: Back to North Korea for a second. The president, again, sided with Kim Jong-un in terms of the missile testing. The president had said months ago that he was promised by Kim Jong-un that there would be no missile testing. Now there has been missile testing. And his national security adviser, John Bolton, says that it clearly violates the U.N. resolutions. Other people agree.
Not the president. The president seems willing to overlook that. So is national security adviser -- are his, John Bolton's days numbered?
HABERMAN: I think that that depends on what day it is, right? And I think that there's a big question about whether the president wants to make a change to, I think, what would be his fourth national security adviser by the time he gets to the 2020 re-election.
I think that -- that most people I talked to inside the White House do not believe there will be a change made. That doesn't mean people are not telling the president he should make a change.
There are a lot of people who don't like Bolton. They include Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, although his spokesman denied that to me in a statement. We've got pretty strong sourcing otherwise. The president himself, if -- just bluntly, does not like Bolton.
BERMAN: That's what I got from -- you have a terrific story in the paper with Peter Baker and that I've been reading, on Twitter also. And you say unambiguously -- I just want you to delve into this a little bit more --
BERMAN: Unambiguously, the president doesn't like him.
HABERMAN: No. He doesn't like him, and there's a -- there's this thing that the president does when he -- you know, he's very much in -- you know this. He's very much about sort of interpersonal chemistry and whether he likes you or doesn't like you.
It's sort of immediately decided. And if he doesn't like you, which is true with a lot of people, he will then come up with reasons to say why he's, you know, disagreeing with you.
[07:10:08] So, you know, when it was John Kelly, his former chief of staff, it was, "I like John Kelly. He's just not a political guy." He never really liked John Kelly. He never clicked.
He has never clicked with John Bolton and the way he has dealt with that is, "Well, I didn't like him on Venezuela and the advice I was given and the intelligence we were given. I haven't liked what he's said about Iran."
But in reality, he has been very critical of Bolton for many, many months, going back to -- prior to Venezuela and the intelligence sort of not working that they could oust Maduro where the president asked Sheldon Adelson, who is one of his biggest donors and one of Bolton's biggest backers.
You know, how do you think John Bolton's doing? That was at the Republican Jewish Coalition event in Nevada several months ago. That tells you how long this has been percolating for President Trump.
Here's some strange bedfellows. President Trump and Mitch McConnell. In terms of style, you wouldn't think that they would form this very powerful duo, but they have in terms of the Supreme Court.
And when you see Mitch McConnell, well, I mean, maybe we have the tape where he's asked will he -- if someone right now were to leave the Supreme Court, would he fill it? Which we remember he did not do during President Obama's term. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a Supreme Court justice were to die next year what would you do?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I would fill it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Enough said. So --
HABERMAN: He's clearly being honest. I mean, you know, people who cover the Senate for a long time have said that McConnell has actually been pretty consistent about this. That the issue is whether the Senate is held by the same party in power in the White House. And so that wasn't the case in 2016. That's his argument. I'm just saying that. I'm not justifying it.
However, it is clearly very different than what took place when he coined something called the Biden rule or whatever it was in 2016 about why they were not going to appoint another -- another Supreme Court justice -- or maybe it was 2012 -- anyway, at some point he coined the phrase.
Mitch McConnell and two of my former Politico colleagues wrote a book about Congress, Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer. And in it they make very clear that McConnell cares about winning. That is his big concern to your point that he's got a like-minded fellow in Donald Trump. If there is a similarity between these two pretty different men, it's that they care about power, and they care about wins, and they sort of don't care about the -- the other costs.
BERMAN: And the court. They found a common bond here that will benefit both of them and what they want.
HABERMAN: For decades.
BERMAN: Mitch McConnell has made clear what he wants. I mean, Mitch McConnell has made clear what he wants, to do whatever he can to get there.
HABERMAN: That's right.
BERMAN: I do want to ask you, I'm an avid reader of your reporting. I also read a little bit about you yesterday. There was a report in "New York" magazine basically saying you're getting it from all sides right now for your reporting: from the White House and from the left here.
Just want to know if you have a response to that or if you want to reflect on the difficulty of reporting in this hyper, hyper-attuned age?
HABERMAN: I didn't -- there was a piece written about this by Jonathan Chait at New York. And I didn't see it until somebody sent it to me. And so that's -- I'll leave that to him. I don't like when we become the story. It is never comfortable when we become the story.
I think there was a particular story in question over the weekend that a lot of people had an issue with, primarily. But not only about a photo that was chosen and "The Times" addressed that reporters do not choose their own photos.
I always regret when any story becomes this much of a controversy if it's not sort of about the merits of the reporting. We are not above criticism. And we deserve it, and we hear it. I think the tenor has gotten extremely personal, and I think that's unfortunate.
BERMAN: I hope you had a chance on Twitter to read some of the comments made by your colleagues, who are reporters. Universally, I think, every journalist in America thinks you are --
HABERMAN: Oh, no. Not universally, but thank you for saying that.
BERMAN: I'll say it. You're a national treasure.
HABERMAN: That's --
BERMAN: And I think that we depend on you for your reporting. So thank you for everything you do.
HABERMAN: That's nice of you to say. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you, Maggie. We always appreciate having you here.
HABERMAN: I appreciate it.
CAMEROTA: New this morning, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is against a border wall and wants to protect DREAMers. But he's offered few specifics on how he'd tackle immigration until now. O'Rourke just unveiled his new immigration plan.
And CNN's Leyla Santiago has details in a new interview with Beto O'Rourke that you will only see on CNN. Tell us what he said.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this is a nine-page proposal for immigration reform. He calls it a road map, admits that the details are not fully defined. But that, he says, is on purpose. Because he wants to continue to develop this proposal as he talks to voters on the campaign trail.
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the Chamizal Park, which was dedicated after a treaty signed by the United States and Mexico to address a border dispute.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke knows the history of this border, in part because he's from El Paso. This border has defined much of who he is today.
[07:15:03] (on camera): I was talking to voters who, some have said, "Yes, that's the candidate who wants to tear down the wall." Do you take issue with that?
O'ROURKE: I'm the candidate who wants to make sure that our immigration system works. We certainly don't need more walls. And I would leave it up to local communities.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): That's why part of his newly-released immigration plan: immediately halt work on the border wall. And yet --
(on camera): Not too far from here they are building a wall on private property after raising $22 million via GoFundMe.
O'ROURKE: Yes. I think what you do on your private property, including building a wall, is your business. So good for them.
But by that same token, I don't think that our federal government should be taking your property, which is what we'll have to do to build a 2,000-mile wall to separate the United States from the country of Mexico.
SANTIAGO: Major priorities for Beto O'Rourke: no family separation; a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, including DREAMers.
O'ROURKE: I think we go a lot further than, really, anyone in this plan. We stop the chaos that we have on our border right now. Chaos that was imposed by President Trump.
SANTIAGO: The fine details: he says only migrants with criminal backgrounds who pose a threat to the community should face detention. He would cut all funding to for-profit prison operators. Under his plan, congregations and communities would be able to sponsor visas for refugees.
He'd enhance security, more personnel and investing in technology on the border. And he wants to invest $5 billion in Central America to get to the root of the issues that lead to migration.
(on camera): When politics come into play, it's a give and take. What are you willing to give up to get this done?
O'ROURKE: I don't know that -- that any successful negotiation has -- has begun with -- with the middle path or the compromise position.
What I just described to you is based in based on listening to my fellow Americans here in El Paso but in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in Wisconsin, in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, as well.
This is not a Democratic Party plan. Nor is it a Republican Party plan. This is an American immigration plan. And I think it serves Americans wherever we live.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Now releasing his second major policy roll-out as a 2020 presidential candidate, this is what he believes is best for America.
(on camera): When was America at its best?
O'ROURKE: I think America is about to be at its best. This moment of maximum peril, where you have a president who seeks to further divide an already polarized country. This moment will produce the best of us. It will have this country come together to make sure that we meet these challenges, to rewrite our immigration laws in our own image.
SANTIAGO: And the other candidate that has released a detailed immigration plan is Julian Castro, also from Texas. His plan calls for decriminalizing border crossings, but to O'Rourke's plan does not -- Alisyn. CAMEROTA: Leyla, thank you very much for bringing that to us.
All right. We have a programming note for you. Dana Bash hosts a CNN town hall with Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Michael Bennet. That's tomorrow night at 10 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
Well, the Supreme Court has ruled for the first time this year on abortion. More on that decision and the potential implications for Roe v. Wade. All that next.
[07:22:37] CAMEROTA: The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepping a big part of an abortion case. And in so doing, the high court does not appear ready to test the landmark case of Roe v. Wade.
So this was a new decision on a 2016 Indiana abortion law. The justices let stand a lower court's rule that blocks Indiana's ban on abortions motivated by race, sex or disability.
But the justices also allowed a part of the law that requires clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains.
Joining us now to talk about this is Curtis Hill. He is the attorney general of Indiana.
Good morning, Mr. Hill. Thanks for being here.
CURTIS HILL, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
CAMEROTA: So it sounds like you got this mixed decision. And what I want to focus in on is the first part that we just described, where Indiana had tried to block women from getting abortions if it were based on a disability.
And I'm just curious about that one. Why -- why would you want a family to have to have a child with a severe disability?
HILL: Well, the issue that the General Assembly faced was not with regard to the question you posed. It's the question of the rights and consideration of the unborn child in terms of discriminatory actions of eliminating that opportunity at life. Making a decision based solely on race or disability, certainly, is a discriminatory practice. And no decision in terms of -- of whether or not to have a child should be based on that solely. And that's what the General Assembly chose to do and expand.
CAMEROTA: But that confuses me. Because as you know, there are lots of terminations of pregnancies based on the fact that there are severe abnormalities of a fetus. And so why would you take away that choice from a family?
HILL: Well, it's not a matter of taking away that choice. It's a matter of making a decision solely on the basis of not wanting a child, because the child doesn't have a particular characteristic. We have, certainly, examples every day of children who appear to have
disabilities or concerns or problems, prenatal, that are born and live very productive lives and families who support those children.
HILL: So it's a matter of whether or not it's appropriate to use that as a sole basis. And the court's decision, I think, was very interesting. Because some might view it as a denial of Indiana's ban. I think it was something a little different. It was really a wait and see.
[07:25:08] The court used an appropriate standard of "We haven't seen this particular issue. Let's let it percolate." I think that was Justice Collins's words --
CAMEROTA: I think you're right that they punted it. But again, I don't -- I don't feel I'm getting an answer to my question.
Why would families in Indiana -- why would lawmakers make them have to have a child with severe disabilities? How does that work? Why -- why is that a good thing for the state of Indiana?
HILL: The Indiana -- the Indiana General Assembly has looked at this from the standpoint of whether or not it's appropriate to seek an abortion solely on the basis of a characteristic that someone else chooses to not be appropriate. And that's the measure in which they have taken.
CAMEROTA: We're talking about severe abnormalities where, as you know, some -- let's be specific, OK? So a chromosomal defect, trisomy 13 or 18. That child will have so many problems and will most likely not live past their first birthday.
Why would lawmakers force parents to bring that child to fruition?
HILL: The law does not address issues with respect to severe abnormalities that would make a child unviable. That's not the point of this particular statute.
CAMEROTA: But it does cover those.
HILL: This statute relates to decisions based on -- this statute bases its decisions on -- on discriminatory practices. Simply making a decision to have an abortion based upon a characteristic that is -- that is unnecessary. And so I think the --
CAMEROTA: Yes, but lots of families do make that decision based on --
HILL: And so I think the issue here -- the issue here becomes --
CAMEROTA: But Mr. Hill, hold on a second. Lots of families do have to make that decision based on the single characteristic of finding out that their children -- that their fetus has a severe abnormality. That is the reality. HILL: Well, the reality is the court will look this -- this matter
over in the future. I think the door is now open and, if states are paying attention, there is an avenue in which to -- to move forward and determine through the various circuits what the appropriate standard would be. And when there's a conflict in that standard, we'll see the Supreme Court, in all likelihood, take action.
CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, I hear what you're saying. The Supreme Court punted. I get it.
But what I don't still understand is why the Indiana legislature thought that they could force parents to have to care for a child with a severe life-threatening abnormality. What's the answer to that?
HILL: And I've told you that the Indiana General Assembly has not taken a position of forcing anyone to do anything.
CAMEROTA: That is what the law would do.
HILL: The interest in Indiana -- the interest in Indiana has been to provide protection to the unborn from decisions that are made that are uncharacteristic, making a determine that this is a child who's unwanted because of a discriminatory practice.
And the General Assembly in Indiana believes, appropriately, that's an inappropriate manner in which to make a choice of aborting a child.
CAMEROTA: And so, just -- just help me understand this. If a woman goes into a clinic in Indiana, if this Supreme Court decision hadn't happened, and had a child with severe disabilities, she would not be able to terminate that pregnancy?
HILL: Each case is an individual case. The -- the severe disabilities in terms of a particular characteristic has to be determined by each child.
As I said before, this is not a matter in which a child has -- is unviable or whether -- or where a situation where the health of the mother is in question.
CAMEROTA: I mean, Mr. Hill, it just is. It is. The way the law was written, that does cover severe disabilities; and women in Indiana would not have been able to terminate those pregnancies.
And the Supreme Court blocked that. They punted it, I should say. They punted it, because they agreed with a lower court that that doesn't make any sense.
And so that's where we are today. And I just wanted to get your concept on the motivations for why Indiana felt that way.
But we shall see what the Supreme Court does in the future.
Mr. Curtis Hill, thank you very much for joining us.
HILL: Thank you. CAMEROTA: John.
BERMAN: More than 300 tornadoes just in the past two weeks. What is fueling this destructive outbreak? We have a closer look next.