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At Least One Dead In Accident Near West Point Training Site; U.S. And Mexican Officials To Meet On Tariffs And Migration; 32 Percent Jump In Migrants Encountered Or Arrested At Border In Many; Politico Says That Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Would Rather See Trump In Prison Than Impeached. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired June 6, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Breaking news.
At least one person has died following an accident near a training site for West Point Military Academy. Just to give you some perspective here, that's about a 45-minute drive north of New York City.
Let's go to the Pentagon. Our Barbara Starr joins us. So, I mean, Barbara, tragic news so far this morning.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Very, very difficult news, Poppy. There has been one person who has lost their life in this accident near the West Point training area. West Point authorities saying the accident did in fact involve an armored personnel carrier.
This is a training area for the academy in the summertime, especially. Cadets go there and train on their warfare skills in a number of areas. It would not be unusual for them to be moving around this wooded area, to be moving on the roads and engaging in training. What we know is that New York State Troopers are part of the first responders at this site, trying to render aid to whoever else may be injured in this. There are also West Point military police, army military police responding to this event.
The details, in fact, are very scarce. We don't know how many cadets may have been there. We don't know how the army vehicle became involved in the accident. We don't know if, in fact, another private vehicle, a commercial vehicle, was also involved. We simply don't have the details at this hour. First responders are there trying to gather information, trying to render aid at this site.
But, again, not unusual, West Point is a big neighbor in this area, north of New York City. The cadets are often out and about, and especially in the summertime in these wooded areas up and down the roads, conducting their summertime training. Poppy?
HARLOW: Okay. Barbara Starr, thank you. Please keep us posted.
I'm joined on the phone by retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent James Gagliano. Of course, he's just a couple minutes from West Point Academy there in New York. And, James, you obviously are a graduate of West Point. You know the terrain very, very well. What is your initial reaction to this news?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Poppy, just horrific news. And, obviously, folks that are at the United States Military Academy and preparing to be army officers, they understand that training is tough and it's realistic. And at times, there are accidents and there are casualties from helicopter crashes or sometimes friendly fire incidents. This appears to be what was a 2 1/2-ton light-medium tactical vehicle. It was transporting about 20 cadets and three active duty soldiers at the time on Route 293, which you pointed out is fairly close to my home.
Now, the accident took place by Camp Natural Bridge. Now, just so the viewer understands, Camp Natural Bridge is a facility that houses active duty soldiers, not cadets, during summer training. So the 101st Airborne Division or the 10th Mound (ph) Division or the 82nd Airborne Division, they will send active duty soldiers to come in during the summer when the cadets can do their field training.
Now, also along Route 293 is Camp Buckner, where the cadets hold training their summer training for rising sophomores, or what we call yearlings, and there's a number of ranges. Small armed ranges, mortar ranges, field artillery ranges and the FBI even has a range along that area.
Now, if I can speculate on this just in trying to read the tea leaves here, the sophomores who would be at Camp Buckner conducting their summer training, the entire class of around 1,000 cadets, would not be there yet. This is kind of the train the trainer aspect. So these are probably senior cadets or junior cadets that are out there training with the active duty soldiers at Camp Natural Bridge, at Camp Buckner along this route.
They get up early in the morning, they have breakfast at 6:00 A.M., they are at their training sites usually between 7:00 and 7:30, and it looks like this accident took place on 7:30. I am, again, speculating they were probably moving to one of the training areas. And, you know, absolute tragedy along that route there, there's plenty of military vehicles that travel through there, but it is also open to civilian traffic.
So hard to glean yet what actually caused the accident, but we're hearing right now that there were 23 soldiers, that includes cadets and active duty members that were transported to local hospitals, Poppy.
HARLOW: Oh, wow. All right, we do not have that number confirmed yet, but we're working on it. James, thank you. As we look at these aerial images from just moments ago, you see the big tarp there over what one would think maybe is the accident area or the triage area. We'll keep you posted.
All right, turning to the economy and politics, we're just a weekend away from billions of dollars in new tariffs, essentially taxes, on every single import from America's current largest trading partner, that is Mexico, kicking into effect. And the President says he is, quote, very happy with it.
At the same time, his own officials are holding urgent talks for a second day aimed at stopping those tariffs before they're supposed to start, which is on Monday. The President is demanding that Mexico block a rising flow of undocumented migrants to the U.S. border. 144,000 of those undocumented migrants came across the border in May alone.
But only the President seems very happy with the proposed tariffs. A new study projects they could lead to 400,000 lost American jobs.
Michelle Kosinski is with me at the State Department. Michelle, that's not even including if those tariffs ratchet up to 25 percent, which the President has threatened could happen in October. So then where do these negotiations stand?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. I mean, why would the President want to slow his booming economy? Why would he want to do anything to hurt jobs and anger republicans, farmers and business people anymore? So that is lending some optimism to this, because I think there's a thought out there that, well, the President could do this, but really does he want to when all is said and done?
So it's been kind of nebulous as to what the White House expects to come out of these meetings. They have laid out things they want. They want Mexico to put more resources at its border, to take -- to keep more asylum seekers there, to make sure people aren't profiting so much on human trafficking, et cetera.
So what we've heard from both the White House and the Mexican side after yesterday's meetings were that they were good, that there was some progress made, that the White House appreciates the proposals that Mexico is putting out there. But today, we heard the Vice President say it is not nearly enough.
What we're hearing from one administration source today ahead of the meetings that we expect to happen either now or very soon at the State Department is that no one should expect a full-fledged agreement to come out of today. What this source told me is that they're on a path to figuring this out. But the proof will be in the pudding. Do the numbers at the border come down or not?
So if no one should expect a full-fledged agreement today, what exactly does that mean for tariffs that are supposed to go into effect on Monday? I think what we're waiting to see is whatever these talks produce in terms of what Mexico is willing to do, that is additional to keep people from going through Mexico to the United States, is that going to be enough for the President to say, okay, we will hold off on these tariffs for now?
HARLOW: I don't know, but it's a really important question, and we'll know a lot more on Monday if those tariffs take effect. Michelle at the State Department, thanks so much.
The influx at the border is not likely to change the President's mind on this. Look at these new numbers again, because they are startling. 144,000 undocumented migrants apprehended or encountered at the southern border just last month. That is up 32 percent from April. It is the highest monthly total in 13 years. Let's talk about what is causing this.
Carla Provost joins me, Chief of U.S. Border Patrol. Thank you for being here. I am so glad to have your voice on this this morning.
You have been doing this, Chief Provost, for a long time, since 1995. Why is this happening?
CARLA PROVOST, CHIEF, UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL: Well, it's certainly, there are numerous factors, numerous push and pull factors that are leading to particularly the Central Americans moving north, obviously, things going on in their countries. But the fact that they know that if they bring a child and they're telling us this, that they will be let into the U.S., they're coming. We have apprehended over 230,000 children being brought into the country illegally between the ports of entry this year already. That's unprecedented numbers.
HARLOW: Okay. So, Chief, Congressman Will Hurd, a republican, who you know his district includes 820 miles of the border there, the southern border, his argument is -- he said this to Don Lemon last night on this network, that, basically, it's how the Trump administration is interpreting the law here, basically treating all those folks as asylum seekers, which means that they can stay in this country longer, et cetera. That's actually contributing to the problem here. Would you agree with him?
PROVOST: I would say the issue is the fact that we are unable to hold family units. And that comes from a Flores Settlement Agreement where we cannot hold a child longer than 20 days. And that's loophole that's being exploited.
HARLOW: No, I hear you, but I guess just my question is about the why, why they're coming? And Will Hurd, Congressman Will Hurd, again, a republican, is saying part of it is because of how the administration is interpreting the law here, treating all of these folks as asylum seekers. See what I'm saying? Is that part of it?
PROVOST: The issue is they don't even have to claim asylum, and they know that. We're interviewing these families as we apprehend them.
They are telling us that they are being told by smugglers, they're hearing announcements in their own country of if they come right now and they bring a child, they will be released. And that is a true statement because we cannot hold them longer than 20 days if they have a child.
HARLOW: So let's listen to a little bit more of the argument that Congressman Will Hurd is making, again, a republican in a district on the southern border. Here's what he said to Don Lemon last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN CNN TONIGHT: What is happening? What's driving this?
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): So the ultimate root cause is people are leaving the northern triangle, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, because of violence and lack of economic opportunities in those countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: So violence and lack of economic opportunities. To try to curb that, and we know that the largest number of those crossing undocumented are from the northern triangle, the U.S. had committed $420 million in aid. But that was stopped earlier this spring by the Trump administration. They cut all of that aid. Are you concerned that cutting that aid just makes the crime go up in those countries and makes the economy worse so that more of them are fleeing to the United States?
PROVOST: Well, I can certainly say that we need to be addressing those push factors, which is what you're talking about there. And we are working. We have individuals in those countries working with them on the push factors. The vast majority of the families we're catching are saying they are coming here for economic reasons. Very few actually claim asylum in border patrol custody. That's about 8 percent who claim asylum in border patrol custody.
We also have to address the pull factors, and that is the fact that they are being told now is the time to come.
HARLOW: Right. Okay. So, Chief, I hear you on that, but it's notable to hear you say one of the leaders on the front lines here of this, that the Trump administration cutting economic aid to the northern triangle is making it worse.
PROVOST: Well, I know that the Trump administration is working with those countries. I have --
HARLOW: No, I understand that, but I just -- I really want a straight answer on the aid. I mean, you're saying what you're seeing there on the border is that not having that economic aid is driving more. It's part of the push factors, is what you said, correct?
PROVOST: I am saying the aliens are saying that economic factors in their country are those push factors.
HARLOW: Okay. So on that point, as you know on Monday, if there's not a big grand deal with Mexico on this issue over the weekend, the President will institute 5 percent tariffs on all goods coming from Mexico, and that could go up to 25 percent in October.
The White House, Kevin Hassett, the Chief Economist there, told us this week that will hurt the Mexican economy a lot, it will hurt the Mexican economy even more than it will hurt the U.S. economy. Do you have some concern that making the Mexican economy worse is, again, going to have the adverse impact of pushing more of those migrants out of Mexico into the United States?
PROVOST: Well, the vast majority of the individuals that are coming, as you stated earlier from the northern triangle, I can tell you my biggest concern is the fact I have had over 610,000 people cross illegally between the ports of entry. And that flow has got to stop. This is the highest we have seen in over a decade. And the demographic change and the dangers of crossing our border between the ports of entry are extremely high. The smugglers do not care about these individuals. They are putting themselves at risk when they're making that dangerous journey, and I need the numbers to go down.
HARLOW: What is the number one thing, Chief Provost, that you think the Mexican government could agree to do today in these meetings with the White House that would most significantly stem this tide of undocumented migrants?
PROVOST: Well, I would love to see them do more on their border with Guatemala and see what they can do to address this situation down there. We work hand in hand with the Mexicans. We do parallel work with them here along the southwest border with Mexico, and we have been doing that for years. We always like to increase that. And I would love to see an increase in that area as well.
HARLOW: Okay. And we heard Peter Navarro obviously say that on this show yesterday as well, who has the President's ear on this. We'll see what the Mexicans agree to today, if anything, and I appreciate your time and what you do. Thanks very much.
PROVOST: Thank you, Poppy.
HARLOW: All right. So we continue to follow the very sad breaking news this morning that at least one person has died and multiple people are injured following an accident near a training site for West Point Military Academy. This is in New York State. We'll bring you the latest.
Also a stunning headline from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who reportedly told democrats she'd rather see the President in prison than impeached. How is that going to fly with the caucus? We'll discuss.
And today marks 75 years since the D-Day invasion. We honor those who fought and those who died for our liberty. Stay with us.
HARLOW: All right. So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi apparently wants to see the President in prison. That's a reporting from Politico this morning. Again, Politico reporting that the Speaker said in this closed-door meeting with democratic leaders Tuesday night, quote, I don't want to see him impeached. I want him in prison.
So, of course, we went to Pelosi's office, we asked them if that's true.
They would not confirm or deny it. All of this as the House Judiciary Chair, Jerry Nadler, refuses to say if he and the Speaker are even on the same page when it comes to impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: Are you on the same page with the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, when it comes to impeachment?
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): As I said, we are launching an inquiry now. And whether we launch an impeachment inquiry, it may come to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash is with me. CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers joins me now too.
To Dana, that pause speaks 1,000 words from Nadler.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it sure does. And, apparently, he was the person who Nancy Pelosi was directing her prison comment to in that contentious closed-door meeting earlier this week that Politico was reporting on, which, of course, totally dovetails with what we have seen and heard from Manu Raju and our whole team on Capitol Hill, except the P word, saying for the House Speaker, second in line to the presidency, to say, in any context, that she hopes that the President of the United States is in prison is pretty remarkable.
BASH: Having said that, what she appears to have been saying in a very stark way was, look, we want to deal with this at the ballot box. This is a first-term president. This is somebody who the voters are going to decide on in, you know, a little more than a year from now. And at that point, the rules are off. The game is over with regard to the constitutional shackles that prosecutors have on them in dealing with the President of the United States.
So she was trying to make the case, as she has in public so many times, but to a more and more restive caucus, even leadership, apparently, that we need to let that happen and not take matters into our own hands with impeachment.
HARLOW: You know, at the same time, she may be saying that, Kirsten, but a new CNN poll out this morning shows a lot more people now think the President is going to win a second term. Let's pull it up. 54 percent say they think he will win in 2020. You know, if you compare that to other presidencies, those Americans are slightly more apt to say that the President will win now than they were to say that Barack Obama would win a second term in may 2011. That was just after the death of Osama Bin Laden. Is this all about the economy or is there something else here? KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, it goes without saying that we're pretty far away from the election, so I don't know how much we can read into it. But I think it has to do with a couple things. I think, first of all, you know, a lot of people underestimated Donald Trump the last time around, and I don't think people are going to make that mistake again, because a lot of people who didn't think he could ever become president, whether it was in the Republican Party or in the Democratic Party, you know, obviously learned otherwise. So I think that's factored into it.
I think the fact the economy is doing pretty well, you know, presidents tend to do well when the economy is going well, and the fact that we don't really know who the democratic candidate is going to be. And so there isn't a sense of we have somebody for the democrats or even for people watching and observing it, who people are really aligned behind and who can really get behind who they think can beat Donald Trump. That process is happening right now and it's going to shake out and eventually is going to depend -- how people feel about this is going to depend a lot on who that candidate is.
HARLOW: Right. And the frontrunner in the polling among democrats to be that candidate has been Joe Biden. But, Dana, this abortion stance and support -- continued support for the Hyde Amendment, basically banning federal funding for abortions in almost every scenario seems to really be weighing on Biden. And I wonder how big of a deal you think this is going to be for him.
BASH: You know, it's such a good question. I don't know the answer to that because the politics in the Democratic Party have changed so quickly and so intensely. So Joe Biden is saying that he is just going to stay consistent with how he has felt and how he has voted for four decades, which is, he's for abortion rights, but that ends with the notion of taxpayer dollars being used to help pay for abortions. That has been, had been, the mainstream of even the Democratic Party.
Not anymore. The platform changed in 2016. And the competitors that Joe Biden has to a person are all on the other side of that. They're with the platform. They think that federal tax dollars should be used, particularly because what you're talking about are the lowest income women. You're talking about taxpayer dollars used through Medicaid, and they are the ones who need it the most.
I was told yesterday by a source in Biden world that he is sticking to it and was sticking to it by, hold on to your hat, because he believes it.
And he's not going to change. So given that, it really is going to be such a fundamental test of whether Biden can stay on the high, high perch that he's on given the way that the winds are shifting beneath him.
HARLOW: The winds are shifting, Kirsten, at a time when the makeup of the Supreme Court is far different than it was, you know, when he was the Vice President, at a time also when you have to consider his evolution on the issue, right? He became a senator in 1973, the year Roe versus Wade was decided on in the Supreme Court. He said as recently as 2012 that life begins at conception, that that is his personal belief, but, of course, he went on to say I don't believe the government has a role getting between a woman and her doctor. But you know, I think Dana's reporting is spot on that this is his personal belief, and voters, how are they going to decide him, between his personal belief or what his belief is that should be the law of the land?
POWERS: Well, I think there's a couple things. One is that he -- if you look at the Democratic Party, he's widely out of step. And he does need to get through a primary before he gets to the general. And he seems to be running a general election campaign. There was a poll that showed 50 percent of -- 57 percent of Hillary Clinton voters in 2016 thought that it was time to scrap the Hyde Amendment. I mean, those are general democratic voters. That's not just the democratic base or the progressive base.
And so I think that one of the -- the problem I think is the biggest problem for him is it's kind of an inconsistent view, because he does support funding, I believe, if there is rape or incest, but he doesn't support it if there isn't. Well, I mean, if you're saying, well, I believe these things personally, like why are you able to negotiate on certain circumstances but you can't negotiate on other circumstances?
And I think that he can have his personal belief. There are democrats who identify as pro-life, particularly Catholics, who say I won't impose that view on you. But I think once you start imposing that view, you run into problems in the Democratic Party. And so he is out of step.
And one of the reasons I think is important to point out that the Democratic Party has changed so much on a lot of different issues. It's because there're a lot of voices in the Democratic Party that didn't use to have voices. There are people of color who have a real impact now. There are far more women in positions of power. So for him to say like, I have always thought this and I'm going to stick to it, I don't know that that's a really defensible position.
HARLOW: Okay. Thank you both. I think this issue is not going away for him. We'll see where it goes. Great reporting. I appreciate it.
President Trump calls them, quote, among the very greatest Americans. We'll have more on this morning's beautiful and very special tribute to the heroes of D-Day. We're going to take you live to Normandy next.