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DHS' Katharine Gorka Expected To Be Named Spokeswoman For Customs And Border Protection; FBI Looking Into Gunman's Military, Social Media History; Harvard Rescinds Admission Of Parkland Shooting Survivor Over Past Racial Slurs; Hope Hicks To Face Questions over Hush Money Scandal, Obstruction Allegations In Mueller Report; New Poll Shows Trump In Tough Fight In Florida. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 18, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: But at the same time, Gorka does have defenders within DHS. We talked to one who said they are ready for her to become spokesperson at Customs and Border Protection.

But, of course, CBP has taken on this heightened importance. She will be front face, the public persona of this at the same time that CBP, really the front line of defense when it comes to migrants crossing the border in these record numbers at the same time the president has railed against immigration, promising these crackdowns.

So Katherine Gorka expected to be the top spokesperson, the press secretary of Customs and Border Protection. But there are still questions, Brianna, as to when that will be finalized and when she'll take that role. She has some criticism within DHS.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This will not be the last discussion of this, I think, either.

Jessica Schneider, thank you for following this story.

Jon Stewart is back, continuing his fight for first responders who got sick after September 11th. Here his message for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


[14:35:17] KEILAR: Law enforcement is still working to determine why an Army veteran loaded with guns and ammunition tried to rush a federal courthouse in downtown Dallas. Brian Clyde was shot and killed by federal authorities before he could enter the building.

FBI agents are now scouring his social media pages. They're looking at his military records as well.

And before he was killed, Clyde engaged officers in a shootout that was captured by a witness who lived next door.


UNIDENTIFIED WITNESS: We have a shooting down here right now. Shots fired. Shots fired. We have SWAT coming through.







KEILAR: Dianne Gallagher, our national correspondent, is in Dallas. She's working this story, trying to get new details about the gunman.

What have they found, Dianne, on his social media? Are there any clues about a possible motive?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what they're hoping to piece together, Brianna. We've looked at his Facebook page and it paints a pretty unsettling picture here.

Look, there's a lot of postings, pictures, videos dealing with guns, some which appear to be similar to the rifle that was used in Monday's shooting.

One that was posted just last week, which he appears to issue what some could interpret as a call to arms, which is why we're not playing the audio of this. But again, shows the rifle that looks similar to the one that was recovered from the scene yesterday.

Now, there are lots of memes that you see, including just pictures of him in his uniform. But there's lot of memes like you see on 4chann, 8chann, Confederate flag jokes, Nazi memes, and a lot of misogynist memes and jokes on that page. As well as mixed with some normal everyday postings about his families and things like that. That page has since been taken down.

We do know authorities are looking at his social media footprint to try to figure out why are he may have targeted this building behind me.

There are still plenty of agents out here. They've been checking this out over and over again.

Brianna, he was armed to the teeth. I'm talking about five 40 round magazines on him at the time. It's a miracle that no one else was seriously injured in this yesterday.

KEILAR: It's stunning, especially watching that video. And he didn't get in the door.

Dianne Gallagher, in Dallas, thank you.

GALLAGHER: Thanks. KEILAR: Harvard has rescinded the acceptance of a Parkland shooting survivor over racial slurs that he made two years ago, setting the stage for a debate about redemption, about opportunity and growth.


[14:42:45] KEILAR: A Parkland shooting survivor and vocal gun rights advocate will not be attending Harvard this fall. The university is rescinding Kyle Kushuv's acceptance over racist and sexist texts and documents that were written two years ago.

Kashuv has since apologized for what he calls abhorrent racial slurs made when he was 16 years old. He said the messages were an effort to be as, quote, "extreme and shocking as possible."

Kashuv says he sent a full explanation and an apology to Harvard's Admission Committee and its Office of Diversity Education asking for guidance on, quote, "righting this wrong."

The Florida teen has become a well-known alternative voice to the #neveragain movement, led by other Parkland survivors. Many of his followers expressing outrage at Harvard's decision.

Frank Bruni is an op-ed columnist for "The New York Times." He's the author of a new book on college admissions, called "Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be."

Frank, thanks for being with us.


KEILAR: When you look at this, do you think Harvard made the right decision?

BRUNI: I think this is a tough one. I can see it going either way. We like to say do this or do that. In this case, it was a tough call. The things that Kyle wrote were awful. If they're indicative of an irredeemably racist perspective, if that's the kid, the young man who is coming to campus, you can understand Harvard wanting to say to the word and to the other students, those aren't our values, that's not the environment we're creating.

But the question is, is a 16-year-old spouting off in a way that has nothing to do with how he really feels, who he is really going to become. Are there second chances for someone of that age? And what are we going to hold people accountable for when it comes to private social media stuff that isn't often the best window into who they are? Those questions are important well beyond this case.

KEILAR: What about in the case of -- we just spoke last hour with a reporter who's looked at some of these -- the rescinding of these acceptances that Harvard has done. This is not the only young person this has happened to. And the people that this has happened to, they've run the political spectrum.

But Harvard has a practice of, when something like this happens, they're not questioning -- what you said, which is a question that a lot of people wonder, what is this really -- is this him trying to have shock value, does this speak to him as a person?

Harvard, blanket, has kind of said, we don't care. If you put this stuff on social media and we find out about it, we have a character clause, you're not coming in. What do you say to that?

[14:45:16] BRUNI: I'm not familiar with every case that's come before. There may be some cases where they didn't rescind except in -- I don't know the whole sample set we're looking at.

I would hope that Harvard would look at these case by case and ask whether they're seeing an adolescent acting out in a completely inappropriate but not necessarily meaningful to who they are way. Or whether they've got to make those judgments in a careful way.

They need to do that because they're not seeing the social media history of every applicant who comes in. You know, they happen to have eyes on this particular situation. How many situations do they not have eyes on, and do they have to keep that in mind as they lower the hammer on someone?

That said, I think it's important to remember Harvard is a private institution. They admit I think something like 5.5 to 6.5 of the students that apply. It's their right to say who does and doesn't come to Harvard.

And what the admissions process is entirely about is character judgments. The fact that something comes to light a couple weeks or months after an admissions decision has been made, that doesn't mean that can't be taken into account. And taking that into account isn't inconsistent with the spirit of the admissions process.

KEILAR: Frank Bruni, thank you for being with us.

BRUNI: Thank you.

KEILAR: Breaking news now from Capitol Hill. Up next, we now know more about the questions former Trump aide, top aide, Hope Hicks, is going to face tomorrow when she goes before the House Judiciary Committee.

We'll be right back.


[14:51:12] KEILAR: Breaking news now from Capitol Hill. We're learning more about Hope Hicks and her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee set for tomorrow.

I want to go to our Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, joining us live from the Hill..

Tell us what you've learned.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The House Judiciary Committee plans to ask Hope Hicks in a closed hearing tomorrow about her knowledge of the president's involvement in those hush-money scandals, the efforts to cover up Donald Trump's alleged extra marital affairs in the runup to the 2016 elections. That's going to be one major topic the House Judiciary Committee plans to ask Hope Hicks tomorrow.

It signals a renewed interest on Capitol Hill over the president being implicated in those felonies that caught up Michael Cohen, the former fixer who is now in jail. They want to ask her what she knows about the hush-money scandal.

Now, not only that, there are questions that the committee plans to ask her tomorrow about the allegations that were detailed in the Mueller report that she had firsthand knowledge of or had some involvement in or any sort of knowledge whatsoever.

That includes the president's conduct around his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, the president seeking to have Jeff Sessions, the then-attorney general, un-recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe, the president's efforts to dismiss, allegedly, the special counsel, the president wanting curtail the Mueller investigation all together, that alleged report, as well as the firing of James Comey. That is a significant topic that they plan to ask her about.

But in addition to that, what she did in 2017 when it was revealed that Donald Trump Jr, along with Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, took that meeting at Trump Tower with the Russians. Initially, they released a statement that was a misleading statement. They want to ask her about her involvement in that.

Brianne, the question is, what will she ultimately answer. We do know that the White House has tried to prevent their aids and former aids from discussing issues about their time in the White House. But if executive privilege is invoked or they try to block that, the Democrats plan to negotiate to see what she can answer there. If they don't reach accommodation, then we could see a court fight play out.

This will all happen behind closed doors, Brianna, but a transcript of this interview could be released within 48 hours of this closed-door session -- Brianna?

KEILAR: And it sounds like the expectation of Democrats is that they're not going to get all of the answers to all of the questions that they want.

RAJU: Certainly -- they should, because, in their view, she discussed all the matters in the Mueller report, related in the Mueller in some way. They believe she has essentially waved those questions of executive privilege.

But from the time before there was a presidency, there was no executive privilege that can be invoked on, say, the hush-money scheme that occurred in 2016. So they expect some answers about that in particular.

We'll see what she has to say -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Manu Raju, thank you so much for that report from the Hill.

We have a programming note now. The CNN film, "APOLLO 11," which takes you inside humanity's greatest feat with newly discovered incredible footage, this is going to be on Sunday night at 9:00 even here on CNN.

Soon, President Trump officially kicks off his re-election bid in Florida as he makes an announcement on arresting millions of undocumented immigrants. And a new poll shows he may face a tough fight in the Sunshine State.

[14:54:41] Stay with us.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: It is the top of the hour. I'm Alex Marquardt, in for Brooke Baldwin this afternoon.

It has been a busy day in the Trump White House as the president heads to Florida this hour to formally kick off his reelection campaign. The Trump campaign is playing up the president's ties to the state, which he narrowly won over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But a brand-new poll shows that, when compared to top Democrats, the president is in for a tough fight to keep Florida red.

And those new polls are coming as President Trump stuns his aides and officials in the Department of Homeland Security by announcing on Twitter that ICE will start to deport millions of undocumented immigrants as early as next week.

CNN White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, is in Orlando.

Kaitlan, we'll get to that immigration policy in a second. Walk us through these new poll numbers that show the president, in head-to- head matchups, being defeated right now by Democrats.

[15:00:02] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alex. What's striking about these polls is how much they seem to mirror the general outcome of what we've been reporting on.