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U.S. and Mexico Reach Agreement on Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Asylum Case Adjudication; U.S. Border Patrol Continues to Meet Migrants at Southern Border; Democratic Presidential Candidates Not Including Joe Biden Campaign in Iowa; Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Reverses Position on Hyde Amendment; Police Arrest Former Husband of Missing Women on Suspicion of Crime; Flooding Affects Farmers in Missouri; Queen Elizabeth of England Turns 93. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired June 8, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, we are so grateful to have you with us, as always. It is Saturday, June 8th. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN newsroom.
PAUL: And this morning the president is tweeting in support of the deal that has been reached now with Mexico after he called off the tariffs he threatened to put on Mexican goods.
BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Trump undermined U.S. leadership by making reckless threats. The president announced the news last night after three days of negotiations. Now, part of the agreement, Mexico will deploy National Guard troops throughout their country to take on human smuggling operations and allow migrants caught crossing into the U.S. to be returned to Mexico as they await a decision on their asylum claims. In exchange, the U.S. has agreed to speed up the asylum process.
PAUL: Joining live from the White House right now with more on this deal, CNN White House Correspondent Sarah Westwood. Sarah, what are you hearing there this morning? And good morning to you.
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning Christi and Victor. And President Trump is up and touting the agreement this morning that his administration reached with Mexican officials. He's saying that everyone is, quote, very excited about the agreement, his words. This agreement caused him to back off that threat to impose a five percent tariff on all goods imported from Mexico, and in exchange Mexico has agreed to step up immigration enforcement on its southern border to stop the flow of Central American migrants coming up through Mexico to get to the U.S., and also, as you mentioned, to allow those asylum seekers to wait on the Mexican side of the border as their cases are being adjudicated in the U.S. President Trump took to Twitter this morning to write, "Mexico will try very hard, and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement for both the United States and Mexico."
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this morning is arguing that perhaps this wasn't a successful gambit after all, that President Trump undermined American leadership by making these threats against an ally, Mexico. Here's part of Pelosi's statement, "President Trump undermined America's preeminent leadership role in the world by recklessness threatening to impose tariffs on our close friend and neighbor to the south." Then she goes on to say "We are deeply disappointed by the administration's expansion of its failed Remain- in-Mexico policy which violates the rights of asylum seekers under U.S. law and fails to address the root causes of Central American migration." This agreement with the Mexico side was reached after three days after intense negotiations between the Mexican delegation and the U.S. side led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here in Washington. But the Mexican ambassador to the U.S. said that Mexico is prepared to now take unprecedented steps to meet the U.S. demands. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA BARCENA, MEXICAN AMBASSADOR: As a result of these discussions, the United States and Mexico commit to a Mexican enforcement surge. Mexican will take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration to include the deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border. Mexico is also taking decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations, as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WESTWOOD: Now, many Republicans on Capitol Hill had expressed concerns about the president's tariff threats. They were afraid that that could hurt American businesses, that this could hurt U.S. consumers. And some had pressed President Trump to delay his tariffs. But now that situation seems to be completely avoided because the president has backed off that threat in exchange for the immigration deal, Victor and Christi.
PAUL: Sarah Westwood, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: So there's extra border enforcement and help in breaking up trafficking networks, so the U.S. got almost everything that President Trump wanted from Mexico.
PAUL: The talks aren't over yet, though. They're going to go on for another three months. CNN national correspondent Dianne Gallagher live for us from El Paso, Texas, right now. So wondering what the people at the border, how they're framing this, what they think.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So look, Christi, Victor, nobody on either side of the border wanted tariffs on Mexican exports to the United States. It would have been difficult for business, and life here along the entire border, specifically in places like El Paso and just over there in Juarez. But the Mexican president tweeted, thanking the Mexican people for
their support pretty soon after President Trump tweeted last night. He then said that they would all gather to celebrate these results at 5:00 p.m. in Tijuana today. Initially that was supposed to be a demonstration against the tariffs. Instead, of course, the president turning it into a celebration. But aside from the fact that at least as of right now we're not going to see any new tariffs, the jury is still out on whether or not this is actually going to impact the flow of people migrating from those northern triangle countries into the United States.
[10:05:10] Look, there are various reasons. It's a very layered situation there as to why so many people are coming, specifically from like Honduras and Guatemala. There is extreme poverty, there is ever present violence, and they are also dealing with things like a drought which is causing a shortage in food in some of those areas.
But a lot of experts believe that part of what is behind this recent spike we're seeing -- there were 133,000 people who were apprehended at the border just last month, more of those people were families than anything, more than 11,000 of them children. They say that a large part of the reason why we're seeing this enormous spike is due to this ramped up rhetoric on immigration. It's being funneled down to people in those countries who were thinking of making the journey, that if they don't get out now, they may not have an opportunity in the long run.
The smugglers who were trying to get here likely aren't going to relay the message that there's going to be additional National Guardsmen and things like that throughout Mexico. So we're going to have to wait and see if this is actually going to have an impact on the flow of people here. It's not going to change their circumstances.
BLACKWELL: So there's a deal, many issues still to sort and solve there. Dianne Gallagher for us there in El Paso. Thanks so much.
PAUL: Talking about this now, the president's handling of this deal, with CNN contributor and Donald Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio. Michael, thank you so much for being with us. First and foremost, your reaction to this deal, is this a win for the president?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's a temporary win, especially when you consider things from a public relations standpoint, and you can see that the Mexican president himself is trying to spin this for P.R. purposes. So we're now in an era where the American president makes a threat, engages in negotiations that appear to be substantial but we don't know. The results days later is an agreement that's quite vague, and both sides spin it as a win. so it's really hard to tell what's happened here other than a theatrical performance that is ultimately aimed for the president at 2020.
PAUL: You're speaking in part to what Speaker Pelosi said earlier today about undermining, she says that President Trump undermined America's preeminent leadership in the world by recklessly threatening tariffs. Did he compromise U.S. credibility here, or is this a valid strategy? D'ANTONIO: Well, it's a valid strategy if you're looking at 2020 and
you've promised your base that you're going to do something about what's happening on the border and you're blaming Mexico. So he put Mexico in the position of the enemy, and then attacked them with this tariff idea. So perhaps he'll be able to present this, as he's trying to this weekend, as a victory.
What Speaker Pelosi is saying about how the president has disrupted America's standing around the world is quite accurate. The president has threatened tariffs against, of all nations, Australia. He's threatened tariffs against India. He's threatened tariffs against Canada and Europe. It's because he has this one stick and he's going to use it to hit everybody and think that this bullying is going to solve the problems.
This runs contrary to decades of American policy where we tried to make friends with allies, and we tried to encourage open relations in trade. Now, the situation on the border in Mexico is unique. It's a serious problem, and yet he's using the same method. And it's hard to see where this is going to lead. And for the president, I think he has to keep in mind that this is one situation where there will actually be numbers. We'll see month by month the number of arrests, the number of asylum applications, the number of deaths among children who are being held by U.S. authorities, and we'll be able to tell whether he's getting a result or not.
PAUL: Yes, see how effective this is. When it comes to, and we talk about the politics behind all of this, does this agreement -- there are a lot of people who say something had to be done. This seems to be something. Does this, however, replace President Trump's wall? Will it satisfy his base?
D'ANTONIO: That's a perfect question, because we have to remember he promised a big beautiful wall that would stretch across the entire border, and that Mexico would pay for it. So now how does he explain that there is no wall and that Mexico hasn't paid a penny. It's very hard to see that that's going to work. I can imagine the campaign ads any opponent would develop related to this border policy.
[10:10:02] And I think, not to be repetitive, but he's creating a lot of anger among those who should be our allies and friends. You take out this threat and you impose it on Mexico and you essentially humiliate the Mexican government and the Mexican people by forcing them to agree to something, you're creating potential hostility in the future. And I think that's something the president doesn't think about. He doesn't consider where will America stand two years, five years, 10 years in the future?
PAUL: Michael D'Antonio, we appreciate you being here, sir, thank you so much.
D'ANTONIO: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: So the deal is meant to push back a wave of migrants coming into the U.S. and really the frequency of the crossings, the number of people coming. It was really clear when CNN's Gary Tuchman went down to the Mexican border.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we witnessed is and what you're about to see was chaotic, depressing, emotional, and sad. We spent part of the afternoon with agents from U.S. Border Patrol in a van with them as they patrolled the border near El Paso, Texas. And what we saw in a 60-minute span was them apprehend eight different family units, 25 people, most of them children. Every five or 10 minutes people were coming out of the Rio Grande. The first person we saw was Juana. She was emaciated, 25-years-old, with a six-year-old son and a nine-month-old baby on her back. They were all hungry, they were all thirsty, and they were all sick. She said she was very poor, and she had to come from Guatemala because she had no money left and no means. She said she had heard in her town that people that gotten to the United States as long as they had brought children with them, that they got here safely. She was apprehended.
We also met Sandy from Honduras. She didn't come with any children. She's about to have a child. She's eight-and-a-half months pregnant, and she came all the way from Honduras, spent three weeks taking buses, trains, and walking to get to the United States. She says that her husband and brother were killed by gang members. She was afraid it was going to happen to her too, that she had to leave and had to come here.
And then we me a man who brought his two sons, and after he was apprehended by Border Patrol he started crying.
Tears of happiness he says that he made it with his son, with his son, he's very happy.
And we saw that for many of the people, crying out of a sense of relief, crying out of happiness when they arrived here and they realized they were no longer on this journey.
Something very notable, the Rio Grande is what separates Texas from Mexico. The middle of the Rio Grande is the border. Here it's relatively dry and people are able to walk across it on rocks. When they walked across the river they saw this huge 18-foot fence, which is about 1,000 feet to the north of the river. All of them said they thought they had to figure out a way to get over the fence. The Border Patrol said no, you're already in the United States. You crossed the river. They were greatly relieved. So this fence does nothing to stop people from entering the land of the United States.
One thing I can tell you is that these Border Patrol agents we worked with are very professional, they are very considerate. They're ambassadors to this country, and they do a great job being ambassadors to these people who have gone through an awful lot.
This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, in El Paso, Texas.
PAUL: Gary, thank you so much. Listen, still to come, former Vice President Joe Biden reversing
course on abortion funding. The question now is, will this help or hurt his campaign?
BLACKWELL: Plus, nearly half the Democrats running for president in 2020 are going to be in Des Moines, Iowa today. We're live as the candidates campaign at the city's gay pride festival.
PAUL: And President Trump flips on space goals and says NASA shouldn't be talking about going to the moon. What he says NASA should focus on in instead.
[10:17:22] BLACKWELL: Iowa is the place to be this weekend for most Democrats running for president in 2020.
PAUL: Yes, with the Iowa caucuses less than eight months, nearly half of the 2020 field is in Des Moines for the annual pride festival. Leyla Santiago is with us as well. So I think it's almost easier to name who's not in Iowa this weekend. Leyla, what are you hearing?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's going to be very, very busy weekend. But let's start there. Let's start with who will not be in Iowa, and that's frontrunner Joe Biden. His campaign tells us that he has a family commitment that was set a while ago. That's why he is not here.
That said, we're already starting to see a lot of these candidates really busy hitting the ground. Last night we saw Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Here this morning we watched former Congressman Beto O'Rourke and his wife take part in a 5k here where there will be a vibrant celebration and really a large gathering of folks in Iowa. So we expect to see these candidates really take aim at them. They'll have a candidates' forum here, and they'll have eight of the candidates have a 10-minute pitch to the voters, make their case.
But let's go over some more numbers here. By tomorrow night we expect 19 of the 23 candidates to be in Iowa at the Hall of Fame dinner. And then the other really big set of numbers, we expect a new poll to be out. "The Des Moines Register" as well as CNN poll will be out tonight, and that will gauge where these candidates stand in Iowa.
What's the big deal about Iowa? It is the first caucus state. And you know the last time I was here, I actually spoke to a voter who told me that if he has only met a candidate once he won't even consider them. They want these candidates to take Iowa serious as much as they take the responsibility of being the first caucus very serious. So these voters will be engaged, they'll be here to see these candidates as so many of them make Iowa a priority this weekend. Christi?
BLACKWELL: All right, Leyla Santiago for us in Des Moines, thanks so much.
PAUL: Thanks, Leyla. Now, abortion rights for a lot of people are the center of debate
heading into the 2020 election. There's a new CNN poll out this week showing three in 10 Americans would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on that issue.
BLACKWELL: That is the highest percentage in any CNN poll since 1996. CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen is following where all the candidates stand on the issue. It has become the big issue for at least the week and likely for some time during this campaign.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And that very poll that you just mentioned also shows that respondents are moving towards the two extremes of the issue. And that's really forcing everyone running for president to take a strong stand either way.
[10:20:05] CHEN: With several states banning abortions and much earlier stages of pregnancy than established by Roe versus Wade, 2020 Democratic candidates are coming forward in defense of abortion rights.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People who are frightened are the ones who don't get access, and that's just not right.
CHEN: Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand have called for Roe versus Wade to be codified into federal law.
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET, (D-CO) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Kamala Harris had a good idea the other day.
CHEN: Harr is proposing the Department of Justice block what she calls dangerous abortion restrictions in states pushing unconstitutional anti-choice legislation before they go into effect. Harris is also among a host of Democratic candidates who tweeted in support of repealing the Hyde Amendment which bans federal dollars for being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or where the mother's life is in danger. Fifteen states off their own funding for a wider range of abortion services to Medicaid recipients. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports more than half of the women of childbearing age on Medicaid do not qualify for most abortion services.
SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D-NJ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This assault on women's reproductive rights is an assault on women, but it's a particularly assault on African-American women.
CHEN: Joe Biden was the only candidate in the Democratic field who supported the Hyde Amendment until he changed his mind this week.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's zip code.
CHEN: On the Republican side of the race, President Donald Trump was for abortion rights in the '90s but is now against them. His administration imposed new restrictions Wednesday on the use of fetal tissue in scientific research. His only primary challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, penned an op-ed last week defending a woman's right to choose.
CHEN: And that sole Republican challenger, Weld, did not mince words in that op-ed. He said he was and always will be what the political world calls pro-choice. He said that these anti-abortion laws are based on religion, not science. Christi and Victor, back to you.
PAUL: Natasha Chen, we appreciate it, thank you.
BLACKWELL: There's now been a fifth arrest in an attack on a couple in London. Maybe you've seen the picture online. Coming up, what we're learning about the attack and why one of the victims shared this heartbreaking image.
PAUL: Also, autopsy results are back revealing new details on how three Americans died in the Dominican Republic.
[10:26:06] BLACKWELL: Police say now a fifth teen has been arrested in connection with an attack on a lesbian couple on a bus in London. Metropolitan police announce that arrest today, and four other teenagers were arrested yesterday on suspicion of robbery and causing grievous bodily harm.
PAUL: One of the women actually shared this image. This was taken moments after the attack, which happened May 30th. The woman says she shared her story on Facebook to raise awareness and that in the aftermath found out a lot of her friends had been harassed because of their sexuality.
BLACKWELL: Police searching for a missing Connecticut woman are now focusing their investigation on her estranged husband and his girlfriend. Fifty-year-old Jennifer Dulos disappeared two weeks ago.
PAUL: According to "The Hartford Courant" this morning, the girlfriend of Dulos' estranged husband met with investigators yesterday, walked the wooded area behind the home that she shared with her boyfriend. Here's CNN's Jean Casarez.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As law enforcement continued their investigation into the disappearance of 50-year-old Jennifer Dulos, legal documents say something police won't say at this point -- Jennifer Dulos was the victim of a crime. After last being seen on the morning of May 24th dropping her children off at school, hours later a missing persons' report was filed. During a search of her home police discovered multiple stains of blood on the floor, multiple areas of suspected blood spatter, and attempts to clean up the scene. They concluded Dulos was a suspected victim of a serious physical assault. REV. PETER WALSH, ST. MARK'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH: The truth of it is
that people are all dealing with something that doesn't even seem real, and yet it clearly is real.
CASAREZ: Reverend Peter Walsh led community members at a prayer vigil after the mother of five went missing while police focused on their investigation, calling residents of New Canaan to ask for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As part of this timeline, we seek video surveillance from homes or businesses that have cameras which capture vehicular activity on roadways.
CASAREZ: That timeline had law enforcement searching a busy street in Hartford after city surveillance video showed what appeared to be her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, depositing trash bags into garbage receptacles, more than 30 stops in all, hours after Jennifer Dulos went missing. A woman matching his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, description is seen with him. Clothes and a sponge from the recovered bags were confirmed to have Jennifer's blood on them.
That led police to arrest Fotis Dulos and Troconis, charging them with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. After an initial court appearance, Troconis posted the $500,000 bond, Dulos did not and remains in jail.
Jennifer Dulos and her husband of 12 years have been embroiled in a divorce battle the last two years. In her original divorce filing Jennifer told the court, quote, "I am afraid of my husband. I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way," and claimed that he threatened to kidnap their children. Fotis Dulos denied it all to the court.
While police continue to conduct searches at properties he owns, they are also coming through mountains of trash for any evidence that can determine what really happened to Jennifer Dulos.
Jean Casarez, CNN, New Canaan, Connecticut.
PAUL: Officials in the Dominican Republic are waiting for toxicology results to determine the official causes of death after three American tourists mysteriously died within days of one another at the same resort.
Officials say initial autopsy results show that 41-year-old Miranda Schaup-Werner died of a heart attack and that Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day had internal bleeding and an abnormal build-up of fluid in their lungs.
[10:30:08] The State Department says the FBI is helping Dominican authorities with those toxicology reports, and the island's tourism minister says the Dominican Republic is safe and called the deaths isolated incidents.
PAUL: And listen to this, federal investigators say they've connected a confessed serial killer to more than 60 murders, yes, six-zero. Who you see there, 79-year-old Samuel Little currently serving three consecutive life sentences for murder in California. Just last week he was indicted in the deaths of two women in the Cleveland area decades ago. Now according to the FBI, Little has confessed to killing more than 90 women in 14 states between 1970 and 2005. If confirmed, that would make Little the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history.
BLACKWELL: The U.S. and Mexico have reached a deal to avoid the threat of tariffs on Mexican goods, but are there more problems on the political horizon? Our political team of experts joins us next.
BLACKWELL: The U.S. and Mexico have reached a deal to avoid President Trump's threat of tariffs on Mexican goods. The agreement comes after Mexico said that they'll deploy National Guard troops throughout the country and send migrants that are apprehended crossing into the U.S. back to Mexico. But it's not a done deal, because talks will continue and the two countries may announce further efforts within the next 90 days.
[10:35:03] Let's talk about this now. Joining me to discuss, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart. Welcome back.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Victor.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Alice, the latest we have is now from Speaker Pelosi who says that this was a reckless threat. Was it?
STEWART: Yes, it certainly was a threat. It will be determined whether or not it was reckless if things progress as we would like them to. Look, I never was a fan of using a trade war as part of border security, but the ultimate goal was to get Mexico off the sidelines and in the game on stemming this flow of migrants into the country, and they have. The key is Mexico has been saying for some time that they are caught in the middle of this and they're more of a spectator. But the goal is to get them to actually work with the United States and try and keep the migrants from Central America staying in Central America, and us working together with Mexico is key to that. We can do that many ways by working, continuing USAID efforts in Central America to help stop the gangs and provide economic incentives for them to stay there.
So the ultimate goal was to get Mexico involved in the process, and so far that's working. Let's just hope that they continue to stay involved.
BLACKWELL: Maria, Alice says it's working. Can you determine today, 14 hours after the announcement, if it's working?
CARDONA: No, of course not. I completely agree with Speaker Pelosi that this was governing by temper tantrum. And frankly, I think it was a sham. I think that he threatened these tariffs and then he got a ton of blowback from the business community and his own Republican supporters, and he had to figure a way out of it. And so I'm glad that Mexico and the United States are negotiating on this, but this is not the way to do this.
This is indicative of a president who has never understood the issue of immigration at its core, and frankly I don't think he really cares about the -- about how this actually works and what the core problems are. If he did, he wouldn't shut off aid to the northern triangle countries, which is exactly what we need to be doing to fix the stability, to help them deal with stability and violence and crime at the heart of the country so that these migrants don't come across.
Look, this deal, from what I understand, is not going to work because now, apparently, originally we were going to pay for -- or Mexico was going to pay for a wall at our border. And now taxpayers are not only going to pay for this supposed wall with Mexico, but now we're supposedly going to pay for a wall between Guatemala and Mexico as well.
BLACKWELL: Alice, let me ask you this, because according to the agreement, the primary commitment from the U.S. is that it will accelerate the adjudication process for these asylum claims. The president has long wanted to accelerate deporting people who had unsubstantiated claims when they were in the U.S. Without additional judges, and remember this is the president who said we need to get rid of the judges, without the people being in the U.S., what's the incentive to accelerate the process if they're waiting in Mexico?
STEWART: Well, certainly anything that we can possibly do to adjudicate the process and speed up that process is critical.
BLACKWELL: But that could have happened at any point up to today, right?
STEWART: Right. Clearly that is part of the negotiating between Mexico and what needs to get done. Ultimately the number one priority is to secure the border, and we have been saying, the president has been saying for quite some time the problem is not at the U.S./Mexico border as much as it is the northern triangle countries and the Mexico border, and Mexico has done nothing.
So the key, more than anything, before they even get to our border and needing to adjudicate them is stopping them at the source, and that means making incentives to keep these migrants in Central American countries and make sure that it's safer there and they don't feel the need --
CARDONA: That's not what the president is focused on.
BLACKWELL: The former foreign minister of Mexico was on at the 8:00 hour, who told us what happened during the Obama administration was once they redeployed law enforcement from across Mexico to go to the southern border during the undocumented -- the unaccompanied minor crisis, that the drug cartels and organized crime, they started taking over, and then you had a rush of Mexicans into the U.S. instead of Central -- it was just a switch of nationality and not a change in the numbers.
We need to take a quick break. But Alice and Maria, stay with us. We're going to talk with you about former Vice President Joe Biden and his reversal on the Hyde Amendment, and the president's remarks about the moon and mars. Christi?
CARDONA: Thanks, Victor.
PAUL: Talking about former Vice President Joe Biden as he makes that reversal about abortion funding. The question is, is it evolution? Has he evolved as a person? Or is it pressure from his 2020 Democratic rivals?
[10:44:01] BLACKWELL: Maria Cardona and Alice Stewart are back. Let's talk about former Vice President Joe Biden. Maria, I'll start with you. Reversed course on the Hyde Amendment, which limits federal funding for abortion. This is a position, supporting it, that he has held for decades. Ad then from one night his campaign says that he believes that -- well, first, several weeks ago he said that he thought the Hyde Amendment should be reversed, then last night, after some reporting, he said that the campaign said that he supports it, and the next day he was on the other side of it. Is this evolution or is this pressure from the rest of the field?
CARDONA: Well, I actually think it is evolution. I don't think it was done in the most elegant manner, but I think that he actually had the right instinct, because as you noted there were -- when he was at a rope line with his supporters several days ago at an event he did say to her that the Hyde Amendment couldn't stay.
[10:45:01] I wish the campaign had gone with that. And if they had gone with that, then this evolution would have seemed a lot smoother. But I do think that is where he is. I do think that he took everything into consideration in terms of where we are with the very critical notion that we could lose a woman's right to choose given the Republicans' efforts to get rid of Roe v. Wade.
And I think you're seeing this only with Joe Biden, but you're seeing this with a lot of Democrats and independent and, frankly, Republican women who do support pro-choice, that they really do see this as a real threat at this moment in time, and they see the possibility that the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade. I think that's causing a lot of people to really come out publicly to support it in a much more aggressive manner.
BLACKWELL: Understood. But the question really wasn't -- and I'll bring it to Alice now -- whether they genuinely believe that Roe could be overturned or reversed, but the reversal from Joe Biden. Alice, to you, was it evolution, or just the political reality that he had to be on the other side of this?
STEWART: I think the second part of that equation is right, Victor. He was persuaded not just by his political party but in his Democratic challengers, but from what we hear Alyssa Milano, a Hollywood actress. It's not unusual for politicians to evolve on key issues, but you don't evolve and go back and forth and back and forth in the span of a few days. That's just not the proper way to go about doing this.
Look, I strongly believe the Hyde Amendment should stay in place. Federal funds should not be used for abortions of all kinds. That is my position, but I'm a Republican. Any person that is running for a Democratic primary should understand the base of the Democrat party and the view of Democrats, they are pro-choice and they certainly want to see Hyde overturned. That should have been discussed long before he announced his decision to jump in this race, and that should have been thought out and planned exactly how he's going to execute his changing or evolving on this issue. They did a sloppy job, but ultimately he got in the right place from the Democratic primary standpoint.
BLACKWELL: Maria, let me ask you about where is the vice president. He says his campaign says this weekend when 19 Democratic candidates are in Iowa, he has a family commitment. Last week it was the California Democratic Convention, 14 candidates spoke there, didn't show up at She the People. There's a list, a growing list of these major events where most of the field is showing and he's not. Is that just because he's the frontrunner and why go? Or is there something else here potentially?
CARDONA: I'm going to take the campaign and Joe Biden at their word that he had a family commitment that he needed to keep, and therefore that is what is keeping him from being in Iowa today. But I do think that he does have a bit more flexibility because people in Iowa already know him. He has been there. I'm sure he will be there many more times between now and when Iowans actually take a vote. And when you have the upcoming debates, which I think is what people are going to really focus on here on out, that is where you're going to really see the movement in terms of people starting to really pay attention to this.
But I do think also that he cannot take this for granted. He is the frontrunner right now, but I think a lot of voters will be turned off if this is something that he believes that he deserves simply because he is the most well-known candidate out there. People need to see him work for it. People need to see that he is wanting people's vote, that he is wanting to work for people's vote, and that it's not something that he just believes he deserves because he used to be the vice president for eight years. And I think you'll see that. I think you'll see him work hard for this.
STEWART: Victor, if I can disagree with my friend Maria there. I've spent a lot of time in Iowa on presidential campaigns, and I can assure you absence does not make the heart grow fonder when it comes to these voters. They want you there. They want you in their living room drinking coffee many times. And I understand --
CARDONA: I agree with that. You'll see that from him.
STEWART: But at some point he has to breathe the same air as his Democratic challengers before he gets to the debate stage.
CARDONA: I agree.
STEWART: Because his numbers in Iowa are not great. He's only ahead four points in Iowa.
BLACKWELL: Usually those --
CARDONA: I agree with that.
BLACKWELL: And the polls show what has already been decided. The polls show the change after -- they show the wake after the ship has already passed, right.
CARDONA: That's right.
BLACKWELL: So we're expecting that we'll see the vice president at some of these events. Inevitability, there's a long list of inevitable candidates and nominees.
CARDONA: And apparently there's a CNN Iowa poll that's going to come out tonight, so we'll see where things stand.
BLACKWELL: Good job, Maria Cardona.
BLACKWELL: Promoting that CNN poll that's coming. Maria Cardona, Alice Stewart, thanks so much.
STEWART: Thanks, Victor.
CARDONA: Thank you, Victor.
PAUL: And happy birthday to the queen. Yes, Queen Elizabeth, the royal celebration today, and we get our first look at Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, since she had her son.
[10:53:27] PAUL: Flood waters in St. Louis County are near historic levels right now, and farmers are worried that they're just not going to be able to make ends meet.
BLACKWELL: CNN's Dan Simon spoke to one farmer affected by all this flooding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where are we at this exact moment?
ADAM JONES, FARMER: We are directly over my fields which I was going to plant soybeans in this year.
SIMON: Adam Jones is a fourth-generation family farmer. His fields, which would normally be sprouting corn and soybeans, have turned into lakes.
It's pretty amazing to think you might be in a tractor, and today you're in a boat.
JONES: Yes, and we're in four feet of water. So halfway up the grill of the tractor. Yes, it's pretty -- it's pretty surreal.
SIMON: And the latest round of flooding, Jones says, has diminished any hope of a viable product for hundreds of farmers, many of whom had already been reeling from President Trump's trade war with China.
JONES: We're not going to make any money this year.
SIMON: Located in the small town of Old Monroe north of St. Louis, Jones says that tariffs had already cut into his bottom line, with China slashing its purchase of American soybeans. Though farmers have been promised government assistance, he doesn't know how much he'll receive, and the notion of a bailout wears on his pride.
JONES: Farmers don't want a bailout. We don't want government money. We just want a free market. Most farmers are still supporting President Trump, but I think it's wearing out. The flooding is obviously more difficult. The tariffs might be more frustrating because somebody has control over the tariffs.
[10:55:00] SIMON: For now, his immediate concern is trying to save the house built by his grandparents. These pumps and a homemade flood wall have mainly kept it dry. He says the water won't fully reseed until July, too late, he says, for any planting.
JONES: You don't get your food from the grocery store. You get it from the grocery story, but we're out here working our tails off to grow it for you. And we're having a pretty tough time.
SIMON: Yet he says most farmers wouldn't have it any other way.
JONES: Farming's a passion. It's what I love. We don't farm for money. It's what I love. My dad does it and did it. My grandpa did it. My great grandpa did it. Right here on this land. I'm four generation on this farm. And I take pride in that. and I just have a passion for agriculture, unfortunately.
SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, Old Monroe, Missouri.
PAUL: I couldn't deal with that. Hope it gets better there soon for them.
Queen Elizabeth celebrating her birthday, annual trooping the color ceremony here.
BLACKWELL: He is into it.
PAUL: Look at him. And do you see who's at the right there? BLACKWELL: Yes, we see her, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. So Queen
Elizabeth turns 93 years young. That actually happened in April, but today is the official birthday. Festivities included a flyover parade, a moment with the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
PAUL: And Meghan the Duchess of Sussex, as you say, in her first public engagement there since the birth of her son, Archie.
BLACKWELL: His intensity, his waving is the best part of this.
PAUL: It's awesome.
BLACKWELL: He is into it.
PAUL: Happy birthday to the Queen, happy vacation to you.
BLACKWELL: Two weeks.
PAUL: I hope you make good memories today.
BLACKWELL: CNN Newsroom with Alex Marquardt is up after the break.