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2020 Dems Candidates Swarm Iowa for Key Fundraising Event; CNN Iowa Poll: Biden Lead Among Caucusgoers Shrink; NYT: Mexico Agreed to Border Actions Months Before Trump Unveiled Deal. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired June 9, 2019 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are standing on the shoulders of people who have come before us and who have fought for us.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In this election, regarding my background as a prosecutor, I believe safety is a civil right.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't have view us having a opponents as much as competitors. As these battles pick up, we're going to know each other better and better so might as well carpool to some of these.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to Sunday. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Martin Savidge, sitting in for Victor Blackwell.

It is the first major test for the 2020 Democratic candidates and the results are in. The new CNN/"Des Moines Register" poll has former Vice President Joe Biden leading the field as the top choice of likely participants in the first in the nation Iowa Democratic caucuses. But he is ahead by a smaller margin than in other recent national polling. Should his campaign be worried?

PAUL: Also, President Trump touts maybe an old deal? A day after this unprecedented deal to over tariffs, "The New York Times" reporting this morning that Mexico agreed to take border actions months before President Trump announced the tariff agreement.

We are going to talk about that but we want to get background for you here on this new CNN, Des Moines, Iowa, poll, but this is not an ordinary poll. This is the gold standard for Iowa polling and this is why it matters. In the last four presidential elections, when there is no Democratic candidate running, whoever won the Iowa Democratic caucus went on to become the Democratic nominee.

SAVIDGE: With more than 20 men and women vying for the White House, the poll results point to who Democratic Iowa voters like right now, and what they like in their candidates and how they feel about impeaching the president. PAUL: Also for the first time, the Iowa poll accounts for in new

rules proposed this year by the Iowa Democratic Party that will allow Iowans participate in a, quote, virtual caucus that happens online or over the phone.

SAVIDGE: And the results of those caucuses will account for 10 percent of the final delegate equivalence, regardless of how many people participate.

PAUL: CNN political director David Chalian breaks down the numbers for us.

Good morning, David.


DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The Iowa caucuses may be just less than eight months away, but, today, is a big day in that first in the nation contest. Nineteen of the 23 Democrats running for the nomination to take on Donald Trump will be convening at a big Iowa Democratic Party fund-raising and organizing event in Cedar Rapids. They will each get to address the crowd of faithful and try to break through.

And breaking through doesn't seem to be the easiest task. Take a look at our brand-new CNN/"Des Moines Register" poll, and you will see that only five candidates actually crack 5 percent in this poll. Joe Biden, the former vice president, continues to lead the pack at 24 percent, 16 percent for Sanders, 15 percent for Elizabeth Warren, 14 percent for Pete Buttigieg and 7 percent for Kamala Harris.

What you see here is Joe Biden in the lead but in a closer contest than we have seen in recently national polls and Bernie Sanders in Iowa does not have second place for himself. He is there virtually tied with Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. So there is a real contest forming here in Iowa.

We also asked folks in addition to the first choice for your preference in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, who would be your second choice? Who else in this group are you actively considering?

Take a look at these numbers: 61 percent are preferring Biden or use their second choice. Same for Warren. Sanders at 56 percent. Buttigieg at 52 percent, Harris at 52, and then you see Booker and O'Rourke round out there.

But a majority of the Iowa Democratic likely caucus-goers are still shopping around here among the top five group of candidates here. That is a key factor in this poll.

We also look at the enthusiasm issue and this may be a potential warning sign for Joe Biden. Among his supporters, 29 percent of them say they are extremely enthusiastic about that choice, compared to 39 percent who support everyone else, who say they are enthusiastic about their choice. So Joe Biden, one warning sign in what is a pretty good poll for him is this potential enthusiasm gap. Of course, we also want to know what is driving voters' choices and

what are they looking for in these candidates? Sixty-five percent of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers tell us in this poll they want someone with a strong chance to win. Only 31 percent say that they want someone who shares their positions. Clearly, defeating Donald Trump is issue number one for Iowa Democrats.

Take a look at these candidate qualities we also tested -- issues, integrity, intelligence, leadership.

[07:05:03] These are the top qualities that Iowa Democrats are looking for in their candidate.

And, finally, I just want to share this information on impeachment because Nancy Pelosi, back in Washington, has been taking some heat from the left wing of her party. Take a look at this. She seems to be holding the right position, even within the Democratic Party, at least here in Iowa.

Forty-two percent of Iowa Democrats, likely caucus going Democrats tell us impeachment should begin right now or House Democrats are shirking their responsibility, 48 percent, the plurality, say, no, keep on with the investigation but don't begin impeachment proceedings now. That is where Nancy Pelosi is. So, taking a pulse in the activist party here, it's just not easy equation for her.

But when it comes to that main horse race taking the temperature nearly eight months out from caucus day, Joe Biden is in the driver's seat here. He won't be with the 19 Democrats today in Cedar Rapids. Joe Biden will be in Iowa on Tuesday, he'll be sharing the state with President Donald Trump that day.

Christi, Martin, back to you.


SAVIDGE: All right. There are a few of the Democratic candidates who are already reacting to the results of the poll and here's what they had to say.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A lot of the polls have me and Joe Biden defeating Trump pretty handily.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, there is a lot of time before the Iowa caucus. We have never been guided by a poll before.

BUTTIGIEG: I don't even view us as having opponents as much as competitors.


PAUL: The CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood he is White House this morning. And, Sarah, good morning to you.

We know President Trump is going to be in Iowa in a couple of days. What's the plan?


And this will be President Trump's first visit to Iowa of 2019. He'll be visiting an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs and a fund-raiser in Des Moines. And incidentally, former Vice President Joe Biden will be in Iowa on Tuesday, the same day as President Trump, but this is all happening against the backdrop of President Trump's new immigration deal with Mexico, the one he announced on Friday night.

President Trump agreed to drop his threat to impose a 5 percent imports from Mexico and what he says is a concession from Mexican officials when it comes to immigration enforcement. President Trump is taking a victory lap over this deal, "The New York Times" is reporting that some of the key components of the agreement may have existed well before the president started this latest threat to slap these tariffs on Mexican goods.

Here is part of what "The New York Times" wrote. The centerpiece of Mr. Trump's deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was reached in December, in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries. Ms. Nielsen, that's former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, announced the migrant protection protocols during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee five days before Christmas.

Now, this administration has released no details on how that so-called Mexico policy would be expanded under terms of this new deal. Mexico also rejected the administration's request to implement a safe third country policy which would force migrants to first seek asylum in Mexico before they can move on and seek asylum in the U.S. Again, Mexico negotiates were able to hold off on that question from the administration.

And another key component of the president's new deal, the deployment of 6,000 Mexican national guard troops throughout Mexico, that was also already under discussion. "The Times" regard to that Nielsen and Mexican official discussed that in March in Miami and unclear how the size of that deployment grew under the new negotiations.

And meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is in Japan negotiating with other financial regulators at the G20, and he is taking a similarly aggressive line when it comes to China trade.

Here is what "The New York times" reported that Mnuchin said: If they, the Chinese, want to come back to the table and complete the deal on the terms that we were continuing to negotiate, that would be great.

And then according to this report, he said: If not, as the president said, we'll move on with tariffs. Now, there have, of course, been fears about the economic consequences of these -- this China trade war that has been ongoing for weeks now. Negotiations hit a snag earlier this year but Mnuchin said that he had what he described as candid discussions with Chinese economic leaders. He took to Twitter to write: Had the constructive meeting with the People's Bank of China governor during which we had a candid discussion on trade issues.

President Trump has been ratcheting up his tariffs against the Chinese, but he is set to sit down with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 in Japan at the end of the month. So, perhaps, we could see some breakthrough on these sticking points when it comes to China trade later on the month -- Christi and Martin.

PAUL: All righty. Sarah Westwood, appreciate it so much.

[07:10:02] Thank you.

MARTIN: Let's go back to the polling in Iowa. Joining us now is CNN political analyst April Ryan, and the chief political reporter for "The Des Moines register", Brianne Pfannenstiel.

Good morning to both of you.


MARTIN: Brianne, let me start with you since you were the one that covers Iowa politics day in and day out. What did you think of the results of this poll?

BRIANNE PFANNENSTIEL, CHIEF POLITICAL REPORTER, DES MOINES REGISTER: This poll was interesting when you look at kind of this top tier we are seeing developed among these presidential candidates. You know, with 24 people running, it's really tough for Iowa Democrats to make sense of this massive field of candidates so we are seeing them kind of separate out.

Joe Biden is still in the lead but these three candidates who are kind of vying for second place are really kind of capturing the attention of people. We see Elizabeth warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg vying for the second-place spot. And so, today, when we go to Cedar Rapids hall of fame dinner that the Iowa Democratic Party is hosting, it will be fascinating to see how the three interact and how the crowd reacts to them because they are each about a percentage point apart. Bernie Sanders is at 16 percent and Elizabeth warren at 15 percent and Mayor Pete at 14 percent.

So this is all kind of within the polls margin of error. So to see them all kind of clustered together at the top, it will be really fascinating to see if any of them can stand out today on the ground in Iowa.

PAUL: So, April, Biden and Sanders led not only these polls but they led the polls in December, they led the polls in March that were done. They were Iowa polls. Do we make of anything of that consistency just yet or is it too early to tell? RYAN: Well, we are way early. It's very early. But this is a great

telltale sign. Remember, Iowa is the clencher. Once you get it, you know, there's a strong possibility you could be the nominee.

I mean, look at what happened with Barack Obama. Many people thought that, hey, he wasn't really viable and then Iowa put him on top and he became president of the United States. What will I say is we have got a lot of time to go, though. And anything can happen between now and then.

Joe Biden, right now, is the lead. But that lead is kind of small compared to other national polls. And Joe Biden is going to have widened that lead. You never know. Kamala Harris could come back from fifth place in those Iowa polls and jump in there to compete against Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren and also Bernie Sanders.

But the bottom line is Joe Biden is the one to beat at this moment. And he even has to worry, even though he has this number one spot, he has to widen that margin. It's too close.

SAVIDGE: Brianne, the polling suggests that elect ability is key here. Sixty-five percent, I think it was, said they want someone who's going to basically defeat President Trump. So, in other words, not so much heavily focused on issues or proposals, it's just want somebody to win, right?

PFANNENSTIEL: I think when you talk to Iowa Democrats on the ground, that's the key thing for them. We want to win. We want to beat Donald Trump.

When you talk to people, they might tell you, you know, Mayor Pete is my first choice for president but I'm really worried he can't be Donald Trump. You have a lot of these people kind of trying to game through what the rest of this election might look like, what a general election might look like and so, I don't think it will surprised a lot of people to hear the poll shows among the group of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers who say that Joe Biden is their first choice, winning is more important to them than it is among the general population of this.

PAUL: I want to real quickly ask about this virtual caucus. This is new material. How does that going to work? And how does change the dynamics of what we've known Iowa to be until now?.

PFANNENSTIEL: This is a massive shift for the Iowa Democratic Party. What they are allowing basically is people who want to participate in the caucuses which, for a long time, have been in-person exercise. They're going to allow people to participate online or over their phones, and this is an effort to expand access to people who can't get there in person, and who have other time obligations, who physically are unable to go out and to participate.

But it's really -- it's a massive shift and I can't under score that enough because we have no idea how many people plan to participate, what kinds of people plan to participate, the campaigns themselves don't know this so they are starting try to figure out how they can organize around these caucuses. The big question mark is their participation is capped at 10 percent of the overall delegate allot many so it's kind of cap in this way that could throw the results.

SAVIDGE: April, real quick, before we run out of time. I want ask you one question regarding "The New York Times" reporting on this tariff deal which the president has been touting with Mexico.

RYAN: Yes.

[07:15:00] SAVIDGE: And yet, it appears that a lot of these sort of things that were agreed upon were agreed upon months ago, in other words, a deal that already done and he is saying, look at my brand-new deal!

RYAN: Yes, martin like what is old is new, right? So, basically, when this deal was done before, it was done with the then homeland security head, Kirstjen Nielsen, and you know, the president has a problem with Kirstjen Nielsen, she is no longer in the White House. So, he wanted to make it look like in a fresh face, it was new.

But it's something but it's nothing new. Nothing new. He wanted to repackage to make it look like he is doing it. This is a kind of thing that they do, there's a lot of smoke in mirrors around the White House to repackage or rebrand, what have you, but it was already on the table.

Bottom line it's about the fact it was done by Kirstjen Nielsen. Anything she did or the person she was close to even General John Kelly. Anything both of them did is along the wayside and they are making it new.

If they like the idea they try to rebrand it as theirs. So, this is about the disdain for people and trying to say this is mine versus there. It's unfortunate but that is the way it is.

PAUL: All right. April Ryan, Brianne Pfannenstiel, we appreciate you both being here. Thank you, ladies.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, the runner-up from the 2016 end of the top end in 2020? We are talking about the election. Today on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper, a live exclusive interview with Senator Bernie Sanders. That is "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper, 9:00 a.m. Eastern , of course, only here on CNN.

PAUL: Well, the Coast Guard and other rescue crews are searching by air, by sea right now to find a police chief who fell out of his fishing boat off the coast of Texas. We have the latest for you.

SAVIDGE: Plus, the family of an army vet is asking for answers after the 41-year-old died in police custody. Coming up, what authorities are saying about his death.


[08:20:01] SAVIDGE: It has been more than a year since an army veteran died while in police custody and his family is still trying to determine what happened to their loved one.

PAUL: Yes, in April of last year, Everitt Palmer Jr. drove to Pennsylvania to resolve an outstanding DUI warrant. Two days later, the 41-year-old father of two was dead and when his body was returned to the family, it was missing several organs.

Here is CNN's Polo Sandoval.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All we know is what the family of Everett Palmer Jr. says authorities have told him and that is that their loved one died while in police custody in York County, Pennsylvania, last April. According to the family, an initial autopsy by the York County coroner's office stated that Palmer died after an incident involving an excited state where he started to hit his head against the inside of his cell door and, at the time, was restrained by authorities. But the report also showing that he had traces of methamphetamine in his system and concluded the cause of death is undetermined.

The family says that, though, he did have a history of drug use but this kind of behavior not like him, so they hired their own pathologist long after the death. That pathologist discovered that the heart, the brain, the throat were missing from Palmer's body. The York County coroner Pamela Gay says an explanation for that. The organs, according to her, were retained for further study and will not be released until the investigation is complete and said that was to determine if was there any asphyxiation.

The way Gay describes it is they have a process investigating these kind of questionable deaths and that process is being followed and they also say that they have been in contact with the family who says through their attorney that they still want more transparency and want more answers, according to them. They are still calling on authorities to release potentially any surveillance video that captured the interior of that holding cell the day that this happened. They say they have been told what happened to their loved one but they want to see it with their own eyes.

Finally, we did reach out to the York County district attorney to comment. They will not comment on this case as this investigation is still ongoing.


SAVIDGE: Understandable, they want answers. Polo Sandoval, thank you.

PAUL: There's a memorial in place for a Texas girl who police say was killed by her mother's former fiance. We're talking, of course, about Maleah Davis and her remains were found in Fulton, Arkansas, about five hours from Houston where she was reported missing.

Last night, there were dozens of people who attended a vigil in that Arkansas community to honor her. Authorities say the 4-year-old's body was discovered in a trash bag along the highway there. The cause and manner of her death are still pending.

SAVIDGE: Coming up, a massive search effort under way right now off the coast of Texas for a police chief who fell out of his fishing boat. We are talking live with one of the search crews after the break.

PAUL: Look at that. It was a celebration but turned to panic after reports of gunfire sent crowds running. This was in Washington, D.C., at the pride parade. What police are saying about that incident this morning.


[07:26:54] PAUL: There is a massive search going on right now for a police chief who fell out of a boat off the coast of Texas. His name is Chris reed. He and his wife were fishing when their boat was hit from a wake from a large err passing vessel. Now, as we understand it, he fell out of the boat we understand he was not wearing a life jacket.

SAVIDGE: Reed is also a retired paratrooper and serves on a local school board. He has a wife and three children.

Joining us now is Tim Miller. He's founder and director of the Texas Equisearch and Recovery.

PAUL: Yes. So, I know, Tim, you're on one of those search boats currently. We will get to that status in a minute.

But can you help us understand if he was in the bay and he fell out of the boat and he couldn't back in? Was he knocked unconscious? What do you know?

TIM MILLER, FOUNDER & DIRECTOR, TEXAS EQUISEARCH (via telephone): Well, from my understanding, of course, this is not the first time we have searched out here, but when the ships go by they put out a huge wake. Apparently, just wasn't prepared when the wake hit. And it threw him out of the boat.

And from what I understand, his wife, you know, did see him out there, tried to throw a rope to him and couldn't get it to him. Unfortunately, (INAUDIBLE) not able to reel him in (INAUDIBLE) I actually knew Chris Reed.

SAVIDGE: Tim, so update us on where things stand. Obviously, crews have been searching all night and as daylight returns the effort becomes renewed. What is the status of things now in the water?

MILLER: Right now, we are just beginning to start to begin this morning and, you know, we have got different tides that come in and come out, but -- and different currents and then, again, you know, the wakes that come from all of the ships and a tremendous amount of ships go through that also effects the under tows. So, you know, we searched until 4:00 in the morning and night before last and got back up at 5:30 and was out there until dark yesterday and we think -- was kind of surprised as warm as the water is that he's not floated. But got only knows, you know, with all of the elements of the currents

and the ships and stuff where he could end up. So we will have a massive search again this morning and praying that we can bring some type of close tour today.

PAUL: Tim, I'm so sorry. I heard you say you knew him. I think what is surprising he was an army paratrooper. He was the police of chief. I know they said he fell out of the boat without a life jacket but it sounds like he is a pretty tough guy. Tell me about him.

MILLER: Yes. No, he is a tough guy. He is a tough guy. Now whether he hit his head, whether, you know, got only knows what the conditions (INAUDIBLE).

PAUL: I'm sorry. I think losing a little bit of Tim.

Tim, please, if you can hear us, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us and we are thinking all of you there and best of luck in the search today.

SAVIDGE: Hopefully, is there a miracle still to be found.

PAUL: No doubt, no doubt.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, crowds in Washington were forced to run for cover after hearing what they thought was gunfire. Coming up, what we are learning about the disturbance at Washington's pride parade.

PAUL: And the Trump administration has rejected requests from embassies around the world to fly the rainbow flag from their main flag poles. How some embassies are -- they are getting creative to celebrate pride month.

SAVIDGE: Tonight on "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT WITH VAN JONES", Van Jones visits Joshua Gunner Johnson who was the victim of a shooting in 1994. Johnson meets face-to-face with the man who shot him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's good to see you, man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you feeling about willing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'm prepared for it but, still, I've woken up in the middle of the night thinking about it, for sure. It's occupied space in my head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, right? This is going to be a very emotional experience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a lot of questions are unanswered. You hold on to anger over that and the whole trial process never answers those questions. They say there is closure through it but there isn't. You know? You're left still feeling victimized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What makes it difficult any time you get into this, whether you're conscious of it or not, you have to confront yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would make me forgive the person that molested me as a child and terrorized me? What would it take? How is this going to happen, you know? I don't want everybody to think that this is, like, some romanticize version of this stuff. This stuff sucks and it's hard.


SAVIDGE: Watch "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT WITH VAN JONES" tonight a 9:00 Eastern, only on CNN.


[07:35:43] SAVIDGE: Washington's pride parade came to a very abrupt end with crowds running away what they thought was gunfire. Listen.


PAUL: There were several minutes of panic before police were able to secure the area. One man was arrested for possession of a handgun but police say there is no evidence any shots were fired. Seven parade- goers were injured while they were running away and after the chaos, police cancelled the rest of the parade. Other pride activities went on as planned.

And, of course, this month, several U.S. embassies around the world are flying the rainbow flags in honor of LGBTQ pride month, despite apparently the Trump administration rejecting their request to fly them from the main flag pole.

SAVIDGE: For some embassies their routine to fly the flag has been something they do every year. But the State Department has to give those embassies permission to fly anything other than the American flag for the main flag pole.

So, joining us is CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter.

And, Brian, pretty fascinating the way some of these embassies tried to work this.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. According to "The Washington Post" this morning, some of the embassies have found ways around these rules and this is a great example of the power of leaks and the power of journalism to show what the government is doing or not doing in the name of its citizens.

Obviously, for decades, the U.S. has made great progress with regards to gay rights. We've seen during the Obama administration even more steps to make the State Department more inclusive and to encourage LGBTQ rights all around the world. It's been an initiative of the government to be promoting this all around the world, and that's why the embassies in past years, American embassies in past years, have had the gay pride flag up during pride month.

What is notable now in the third year of the Trump administration with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo running the State Department is that apparently the requests from the embassies to put up the flag on the main flag pole have been denied by the State Department. This is a new thing this year. It was first report by NBC News.

So, clearly, there is some disappointed or frustrated or angry embassy staffers who have been leaking to news outlets about this problem. As I mentioned, "The Washington Post" confirmed this over the weekend and provided more information and some of the pictures we see here, some ways that the embassies are getting around this strange situation.

By the way, the idea that if you're working in a embassy halfway around the world and you got to get permission to fly a flag on the flag pole from D.C. kind of seems like big government bureaucracy to me, but in any case, it's good that these issues are being publicized through these leaks to these news outlets.

PAUL: I guess you can understand a little bit if it's your embassy some sort of connection there.

STELTER: To State Department headquarters.

PAUL: Yes. However what I think was interesting. President Trump released a statement, I think just within the last couple of weeks, affirming LGBTQ rights, yes?

STELTER: Right, that's right.

PAUL: He invited other nations to get involved in this world campaign.

STELTER: That's right.

PAUL: So almost as if the president is saying one thing. Where does the State Department mandate come from?

STELTER: Right. Makes you wonder if this is part of a broader effort within the State Department to be pushing certain religious values and downplaying can inclusiveness but seeing from the U.S. government in the past couple of decades, especially in the past few years.

You're right. Trump put out a statement supporting pride month. Some of these embassies have been republished that statement one of their own ways of making a statement about this strange flag situation.

SAVIDGE: Well, it's good to see the good wins out. Brian Stelter, thanks very much for that.

PAUL: Thanks, Brian.

SAVIDGE: Make sure, later, you watch Brian's show "RELIABLE SOURCES." Congressman David Cicilline joins Brian to discuss his antitrust probe of big tech companies. That will be RELIABLE SOURCES today at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

PAUL: There is a severe risk of fires in Arizona this weekend. Firefighters there, you can see why. I mean, look what they are dealing with. They are trying to get control of this wildfire that's already burned more than 7,000 acres.

[07:40:04] What officials say is behind the flames now.

SAVIDGE: Plus, in one of the most remote areas in the world, sea ice is not facing a threat above the water but also from below. CNN heads out with a team of scientists to the far corners of the Arctic Circle to find out what is behind the rapidly melting ice.


SAVIDGE: A large wildfire burning out of control in Arizona this morning. The so-called Mountain Fire has burned through 7,000 acres in the Tonto National Forest, northeast of Phoenix.

PAUL: You know, this is a popular recreation starts and part of the campground there have been closed and the fire they know was now human caused.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar with the latest on the fires and severe weather threat today.

There is a severe weather threat but as I understand they might get a little bit of a break today in Arizona?

[07:45:04] ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. So, the main concern really for the fires is going to be short term. The long term we see the winds die down on the flip side the temperatures start to go up. So, you've got to pick and choose here.

The low humidities that we expect across areas of California today, we are talking in the afternoon at the best maybe 15 percent. But some parts of the day even lower than that. Then you also have to factor in the gusty winds. We are talking up to 50 miles per hour. Keep in mind 20, 30 miles per hour is enough to spread a fire. Fifty miles per hour can spread them much farther and very, very quickly.

In addition to that, we talked about that heat. It's not just for California. We are talking Nevada, Arizona, even Oregon looking at these excessive heat alerts that we have here.

Look at reading, for example. The average high 88. We are 97 today, 108 on Tuesday. Las Vegas topping out at 105 on Tuesday, and Palm Springs, 114.

So, again, incredible heat. And it's not the only place. Texas looking at a heat advisory and even an excessive heat warning for extreme southern portions of the state.

Look at Brownsville. Now, here is the thing. In Texas, it's not just the temperature but also the humidity. The feels like temperature in Brownsville today is going to be 116. Houston, 105. Dallas right around 100.

But it's not just the heat. Remember, we also have the potential to severe storms across portions of Texas and Oklahoma. The main threats will be damaging winds and potential for large hail and even some tornadoes. And again, Christi and Martin, the main time line here for those storms is going to be late this afternoon and carrying into the evening hours as well.

PAUL: Allison Chinchar, thank you.

SAVIDGE: Well, for the longest time the story of ice melt is about rising air temperatures but what is happening under the sea ice? What a team of scientists is learning in the remote areas of the world, that's next.


[07:50:46] PAUL: Well, on the front line of climate change, a team of scientists is collecting data to better understand the reasons behind the rapid ice melt in one of the world's most remote areas.

SAVIDGE: And CNN's Arwa Damon joined them out in the far reaches of the Arctic where the ice is not just facing a threat from above the water, but also from below.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's spring in the arctic, nature is waking up as the sea ice melt, warmed by 24 hours of sunlight. This year saw a record loss of sea ice in April across the Arctic, and this is where that ice comes to die. But the story of ice loss is more than just warming air.

TILL WAGNER, POLAR PHYSICIST, UNC WILMINGTON: I would lean towards trying to keep going a little further in.


DAMON: We're in the Fram Strait, far north in the Arctic Circle.

CAPE: So we're choosing this area, because this is an area where we have this warm water meeting the ice edge.

DAMON: Biological oceanographer, Mattias Cape, is one of a small group of scientists headed by polar physicist, Till Wagner. The warm water they're talking about is the fast-moving Gulf Stream, originating in the Gulf of Mexico.

WAGNER: It's actually this warm water is at the surface as it comes up and then it drops under the ice as it goes into the Arctic Ocean. And that layer that's under the ice, that has been coming up closer to the surface and melting the ice from underneath.

DAMON: We know the oceans are taking the brunt of global warming we have caused. But the team wants to understand how the way the ice and water are interacting affects our changing world.

WAGNER: What we're trying to do is find ice that's representative of the area.

DAMON: And ice that doesn't risk breaking apart under our feet. With a polar bear guard on watch, the team works on the ice flows day after day.

(on camera): There are so many challenges when it comes to really understanding our planet's changing climate. It's a bit like trying to put together a puzzle whose pieces are constantly changing. Changing faster than the science and the studies can keep up with.

(voice-over): The team drove through the ice to measure thickness.

WAGNER: So we're starting to get a fairly good idea and it has definitely thinned in this -- in this area, as well. It's basically thinned everywhere.

DAMON: Extracting ice cores that hold frozen clues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, wow, look at this. Beautiful. We've got about a meter of ice core right here. And inside this piece of ice, actually, is a little microscopic forest.

DAMON: Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise is converted into a floating lab.

CAPE: All right. I can grab the first one.

DAMON: Melted ice-core samples come to life under the microscope. A kaleidoscope of algae and phytoplankton.

CAPE: So these sea-ice algae and phytoplankton, in general, are tremendously important for carbon drawdown. These -- they photosynthesize, takes in carbon dioxide.

DAMON: Phytoplankton don't just store carbon dioxide, they jumpstart the cycle of life. Feeding on the phytoplankton under the ice are zoo plankton which, in turn, feed small fish, feeding the bigger fish all the way up the food chain, including us.

WAGNER: Ooh, exciting, yes. Yes, there's a lot there, and this is very different than what we've seen so far, actually, in terms of just the diversity of things that are in there.

DAMON: Initial data from hundreds of samples confirmed the team's expectations. Plankton, that critical source of ocean food, concentrates where the freshly-melted ice is.

WAGNER: This is crazy. How strong. This is 14 milligrams per liter. Really strong bloom.

CAPE: Yes. Located right at the ice edge. I mean, we did have sea ice around at that station, right?

WAGNER: Yes. This is like the hot devil water that sits at the bottom. It's just waiting to come up.

DAMON: Increasing ice melt is wearing down the cycle of life here and undermining nature's carbon storage system.

[07:55:06] And that's bad news for all of us.

(on camera): These waters in this region is among the most productive when it comes to the building blocks of ocean life.

WAGNER: There it is.

DAMON: There it is. Polar bear tracks.

(voice-over): Increased melting of glacial and land ice from above and from below have recently led to doubling previous projections of sea level rise, to two meters around the world by the end of the century. That, coupled with the loss of sea ice, is not only going to deprive us of magical moments like this. Beluga whales which rely on the food under the ice to survive.

It will also deprive us of the riches the ocean now holds, riches we all depend on.

Arwa Damon, CNN, the Arctic.


PAUL: That is something else.

SAVIDGE: Yes, majestic, isn't it?

PAUL: It is, yes. Thank you to Arwa Damon there.

We hope you make good memories today. Thank you starting your day with us.

SAVIDGE: "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King is up right after the break. Have a wonderful day.