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Joe Biden Reverses Position on Hyde Amendment; May Jobs Numbers Lower Than Expected; More Americans Reporting Similar Experience at Bahia Principe Resort. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 7, 2019 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: So, Symone, I want to play what the co-chair of the Biden campaign, Congressman Cedric Richmond, said on CNN just a couple of days ago regarding Biden's position on this, and get your reaction. Have a listen.


CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, BIDEN CAMPAIGN: I think the vice president has been very consistent over his career in the Senate since '76, when the Hyde Amendment became law, that he is a deeply religious man. I think everyone knows that. And he's guided by his faith.

And his position on the Hyde Amendment has been consistent --


SCIUTTO: "Deeply religious man," "guided by his faith." But now making this reversal. How do you reconcile that statement with this change?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, there's nothing to reconcile. First, Congressman Richmond was absolutely correct. What you heard the vice president say last night, though, is that as we're working through our health care plan, the details of our health care plan, he cannot justify locking out millions of women from coverage based upon their zip code.

That --


SCIUTTO: But he said -- but for years --

SANDERS: I know.

SCIUTTO: -- he's held a position that blocks out those women based on their zip code, justifying it by saying this is part of his religious beliefs, which is a fair argument to make. It's just that it's odd to say this so deeply held -- religious, emotional, philosophical -- and then say, "Well, actually, no longer." SANDERS: Well, I don't think he said, "No longer." Look, I was with the vice president all day yesterday. We were in Atlanta. We did a range of events. We had a number of meetings. We met with local community leaders.

And as he was working through his remarks for yesterday evening, he was very, very clear that this is a deeply personal thing for him. But he's also very clear that he believes in making sure folks across the country have access.

We talk a lot about the middle class on our campaign, Jim. And when we talk about the middle class, we are talking about a middle class that includes everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity. Whether you're gender-nonconforming, whether you are gay, straight, LGBTQ, whether you pray to the -- to Jesus or Buddha.

And so I think understanding that that is our position, that is who Joe Biden is, that is the kind of campaign he's running, when we're talking about access to health care, when we're working through our health care plan --


SANDERS: -- he made a very logical decision. Now, Jim, I want to -- I also want to address something else that I've been hearing last night and this morning --

SCIUTTO: But before we get to it -- before we get to it -- and I do want to give you an opportunity. I'm just saying, politicians change positions during campaigns, sometimes after being president or sitting in other seats of government here. But it's when -- you know, on policy issues.

But when you change something that you held for decades and justify in deeply personal terms, I just wonder if this raises questions about the vice president's other positions through the years, and will he make changes as well. And what do you say to voters who might say, "Well, wait a second. I'm not sure where he stands now, if he's willing to change a position like that."

SANDERS: Well, Jim, that's what I was just about to address. That's what I've been hearing this morning. There are some folks who want to talk about the vice president's authenticity.

Let me tell you something. I liken what the vice president said last night about, again, reinforcing his support for a woman's right to choose, reinforcing his support of Roe and understanding the existential crisis that we're in across the country as Republican governors have failed to expand Medicaid for millions of people, and as Republican legislatures are cracking down on the rights of women.

And they are literally assaulting -- assaulting women in places from -- in -- when it comes to laws, from places from Georgia all the way over to Louisiana, Ohio. There's something in the legislature right now in North Carolina and Missouri. This is likened to where the vice president ended up landing on marriage equality, you know? So I want to push back and, you know. If the vice president was

bending to the whims of a number of my liberal activist friends, he would have come out for Medicare for All last night. But you heard him talk about a public option.

So I just -- he's authentic. Voters know who Joe Biden is. He is someone that is -- that has these deeply personal, held beliefs. He's someone that believes in connecting with people, but he's also somebody that believes in listening. And I think --

SCIUTTO: Is (ph) --

SANDERS: -- voters can expect that he is going to be the same Joe Biden on -- he's the same Joe Biden last night that he is today. Somebody that's listening, somebody who's authentic --


SANDERS: -- and that's what --


SANDERS: -- you're going to continue to hear from him on the campaign trail, Jim.

SCIUTTO: We know that women voters are going to be -- play a big part in the Democratic primaries but also in the general election. And clearly, the abortion issue, particularly as you have these GOP laws in GOP states, going through, blocking all access to abortion. It's going to be a big issue.

And I'm just curious if the vice president was concerned that other Democratic candidates for the nomination were winning on this issue. And that he had to catch up, in effect.

SANDERS: Jim, I think there are a number of other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination that are worried about Joe Biden. But who Joe Biden is worried about is the American people. And as I noted earlier -- and I will reinforce again for anyone that has a question -- that his stance on Hyde, his now not supporting the amendment, is about access.

[10:35:03] And if we are running a campaign that says, "We believe in rebuilding the middle class," that's the middle class. We're talking about everybody. And so that middle class absolutely includes women. That middle class absolutely includes specifically women of color, includes white folks, includes black people, Asian-American Pacific Islanders. That's what this is about.

And so as he's working through the details of his health care plan, which we are -- I know folks are looking for a health care plan, you're going to come, you're going to see it's -- this is something that he felt the need to address.

Joe Biden is not worried about what any of these other Democratic contenders have to say. But he is concerned with making sure that the American people understand that he hears them and that he understands the existential crisis that we're in.

I want to say one --


SANDERS: -- more thing, Jim. People might forget that the one time in the last, I would say, 50 years that Democrats took on a Republican Supreme Court nomination and won against -- and won, was Bork. And guess who led that fight. It was Joe Biden.

And that was a fight specifically about Roe. And that was a fight specifically about women's rights --

SCIUTTO: All right.

SANDERS: -- and their right to choose. So if anybody has a question about where Joe Biden stands, I guarantee you, he stands strongly on the side of women in this country.

SCIUTTO: Symone Sanders, senior advisor to the Biden campaign, also a former colleague of mine as a CNN commentator here. Thanks very much. We look forward to keeping up the conversation.

SANDERS: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Coming up at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time, Kate Bolduan will talk to Senator Bernie Sanders -- also happens to be running for president -- it's going to be live. Stay with CNN.

This morning, surprising numbers showing the health of the economy, only 75,000 jobs added in May. That is less than half of what was forecast. What does this mean for the economy going forward? Is it a warning sign? We'll have more.


[10:41:10] SCIUTTO: This morning's jobs report shows that the U.S. economy added only 75,000 jobs in May. That is well below what experts had forecast. That report also revised down numbers from the previous two months, subtracting 75,000 jobs as well. But the markets do not seem to mind, at least not yet. The Dow up about a percent.

Joining me now, Ken Rogoff, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, now a professor of economics at a little place up north called Harvard.

Ken, thank you for taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: So what do you see going on here? I mean, I imagine the markets are up because they're probably thinking an interest rate cut may be coming on the way. But what you connect the dots below forecast here, revising downward the previous two months, concerns about manufacturing jobs, other signs on the bond yield curve. Do you see warning signs of a slowing economy?

ROGOFF: Well, I don't think there's any question, this report should be of concern. I mean, the best guess is we're not going to go into recession. But the idea that President Trump can just do whatever he wants, putting in these trade tariffs, even on our friends and neighbors -- Mexico -- randomly, unpredictably. It affects business sentiment.

And I think we're probably going to see it in the numbers. If not because of the -- if not this time, going forward. I'm certainly concerned.

SCIUTTO: Is that principally about the tariff threat? I know that's -- I mean, even some of the president's own economic advisors -- Kevin Hassett -- said on our broadcast, that tariffs would have an economic cost. Is it largely the tariffs? Or is it also that we're 10 years into an economic expansion and these things come to an end, like everything?

ROGOFF: You know, honestly, who knows. Productivity has actually been picking up a little bit. The economy -- you know, the longer -- the trend the last couple years has been positive. But you're absolutely right. I mean, going forward, given our slow growth of the labor force, given productivity, hasn't been that strong. Unless productivity picks up, we're not going to keep growing at 2.5 and --


ROGOFF: -- three percent.

I'm optimistic, it could go on for longer. But not with this kind of trade craziness.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Let me ask you this, then. Because now, the Federal Reserve chairman is telegraphing the possibility of cutting rates, justifying it in part based on the negative economic impact of tariffs being imposed on Mexico.

I wonder from your view, I mean, is he in effect enabling the president's policy here? Because the president can say, "I'm going to use tariffs and I can count on the Fed to bail me out."

ROGOFF: Well, he can count on the Fed to bail him out except if something goes wrong, the plan is for Trump to blame the Fed. So who knows.


ROGOFF: You know, they just try to play the cards as they see them, on the table. And this hugely raises uncertainty.

I think the most recent one on Mexico's just at a whole other level. With China, you can kind of understand it. But with Mexico, he just signed an agreement. The president of Mexico had just sent it to his parliament. And now he's tearing it up and saying he's going to do something else. It's a whole other level of unpredictability. SCIUTTO: Yes. I think folks, yes, they forget that this happens on

so -- and with America's closest allies, right? It happened -- Canada, the E.U., et cetera. Tariff threats off --

ROGOFF: Yes. This is Mexico. It's not China.

SCIUTTO: Yes, yes. Ken Rogoff, good to have you on the program.

ROGOFF: Thank you.

[10:44:53] SCIUTTO: A Colorado couple is claiming that they became violently ill at the very same resort in the Dominican Republic where three Americans died just days apart. What they believe made them sick, it's coming up.


[10:50:00] SCIUTTO: Authorities in the Dominican Republic say more tests need to be done before they know conclusively how three Americans died at the Bahia Principe Resort in La Romana. Forty-one- year-old Miranda Schaup-Werner collapsed and died May 25th. Just five days later, Edward Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day were found dead in their room.

Meanwhile, we are hearing from a Colorado woman who says that she stayed at the very same resort, and that the circumstances surrounding those three deaths sound eerily similar to what she and her boyfriend experienced. CNN's Drew Griffin joins us now. He spoke with the couple.

Drew, they describe symptoms, becoming violently ill while staying at that resort. What did they tell you?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, they're questioning whether or not what happened to them could be a key in determining what happened to these three Americans who are now dead at this very same resort. This really was, for them, a dream vacation turned nightmare. And the nightmare will not stop.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Kaylynn Knull reached out to CNN almost immediately after learning three Americans just died at the same resort in the Dominican Republic, where she believes she was poisoned along with her boyfriend.

GRIFFIN: What is your reaction?



KNULL: It's too coincidental, with the symptoms that we had, for me to even begin to stay quiet about it.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): One year ago this month, the Colorado couple traveled to the all-inclusive, Grand Bahia Principe Resort La Romana. And for the first few days, it seemed a vacation of a lifetime. But on the sixth day, Knull became ill.

KNULL: I woke up with a headache one morning. We had gone to breakfast to see if I could get some water, get some juice, try some food, feel better. And then when we came back to the room, it actually hit us a lot stronger and we smelled the smell of chemicals.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): She got progressively worse. Then her boyfriend, Tom Schwander, started feeling it too. They say they were sweating, drooling, dizzy, nauseous. It wouldn't go away. Neither would the smell in their hotel room.

KNULL: We saw a housekeeper outside and, like, called her in to see if she could come in. She walked maybe five, six feet into the room and turned around and said, "I'm not doing that." And then got on her walkie-talkie to the front desk and said, "Something's going on with this room." She refused to come in and clean it.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Kaylynn and Tom had seen someone spraying plants near the air conditioner outside their room. They assumed it was pesticide, but the hotel wouldn't say what it was. They switched rooms twice. It didn't help.

SCHWANDER: It progressed over the rest of our trip and then over the course of a couple weeks after.

GRIFFIN: A couple of weeks?

SCHWANDER: Yes. The abdominal cramping and the G.I. upset lasted for a couple -- a few weeks.

GRIFFIN: And you said drooling?

SCHWANDER: Yes. Drooling --


SCHWANDER: Bad sweat. Tearing.


SCHWANDER: Dizzy, nauseous. Yes. And the abdominal cramping was the worst. That was the hardest symptom to deal with. It was just so much pain.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Back in Colorado, Knull's physician diagnosed her with organophosphate poisoning. Schwander's doctors suspect the same thing.

Heavily regulated and in some cases, banned in the U.S., organophosphates are man-made chemicals found in insecticides. Exposure can cause increased saliva, tear production, diarrhea, nausea, sweating, confusion and death.

The couple says they still have occasional symptoms. And they are most concerned about their future health. Even after filing a lawsuit, they still do not know what exactly poisoned them.

KNULL: Honestly, all I wanted was the chemical name. That is all I ever wanted. I could care less about the money, if I can save my own life later. And him, too. It's what happened to him, what happened to me, what's -- what is it that we can do at this point.


GRIFFIN: Jim, not only will Bahia Resorts not answer any of our questions, but the company put out a statement saying all this reporting is causing the company to suffer "a great discredit," they write. "Damage to its image and reputation. But more importantly," the company says, "serious insults and threats are being made to our more than 15,000 employees and their families, who are the company's main asset and to whom we cannot remain on the sidelines."

Tom Schwander, the man you just saw in that video, is an ambulance director, a trained EMT. Jim, he has no doubt that he believes he was poisoned by pesticides when he was in this same resort, one year ago this month.

SCIUTTO: Some interesting minimum coincidence there. Drew Griffin on top of the story. Thanks very much.

[10:54:43] Still to come, CNN obtained stunning new video of a dangerously close encounter between Russian and U.S. Navy warships. The U.S. calling this an aggressive act by Russia. You could see there just how close they came.


SCIUTTO: This morning, a man is in custody, suspected of planning an attack on New York's Times Square. Sources telling CNN the suspect was looking into buying grenades and firearms. He also allegedly talked about killing police and government officials.

TEXT: New York Terror Plot Arrest: Source: Suspect discussed buying firearms and grenades to use in Times Square attack; Suspect also talked about killing police and government officials; FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force took suspect into custody

SCIUTTO: The FBI and the NYPD teamed up in an operation to arrest that man on Thursday. He is due in federal court later this afternoon. A source tells us there is no longer any imminent threat.

And thanks so much to you for joining me today. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN," coming up. She's got a big interview, Senator Bernie Sanders, candidate for 2020. Her show starts right now.