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Democrat Presidential Candidate John Delaney Discusses the White House Blocking Hope Hicks from Answering Questions; McConnell Suggests U.S. Made Up for Slavery by Electing Obama; Booker Demands Biden Apology for Segregationist Remarks; Teen Accused of Killing Best Friend in $9 Million Catfish Scheme; CNN Examines America's Infrastructure Crisis. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 19, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: How would you handle a congressional investigation? Would you promise, can you promise that you would not invoke executive privilege or refuse or to have staffers comply with requests for testimony or even subpoenas and direct them to do that? Can you promise that.

JOHN DELANEY, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can never really promise exactly what I'll do as president around executive privilege. No person running for president can actually make that promise because we don't know the circumstances.

KEILAR: Invoking executive privilege as a way to delay something?

DELANEY: I will never invoke executive privilege to stop or stonewall an appropriate and proper investigation that the Congress of the United States is doing, which is what this president is doing. Because I believe in the separation of powers.

That's one of the great failures of this presidency. He fundamentally doesn't believe in the architecture of our great nation, which is based on this notion of the separation of powers. He doesn't believe in that. He doesn't think he should be held accountable.

And as president, I enormously respect the separation of power, the independence of the judiciary, the fact that the Congress's Article I powers, including oversight of the executive branch.

I would have a totally different view on this issue, a totally different perspective, in part, because I respect the fundamental model of this country, which is based on the separation of powers. And we need to allow Congress to actually do its job.

I think Speaker Pelosi is doing a fantastic job right now.

KEILAR: John Delaney, thank you so much for coming in.

DELANEY: Thank you for having me.


KEILAR: We really appreciate it. DELANEY: Thank you.

KEILAR: Senate Majority Leader McConnell says President Obama's election made up for the sin of slavery.

And an Alaskan teen facing federal charges for killing her friend in a $9 million catfish scheme.


[13:36:11] KEILAR: Until now, the issue of reparations for slavery has largely been confined to the fringes of political debate. But a hearing on Capitol Hill today puts this squarely in the political mainstream.

A House committee is hearing from Democratic Senator Cory Booker, from writer, Ta-Nehsis Coates, and actor, Danny Glover.

The panel is considering legislation that would set up a committee to study to consequences of slavery and issue recommendations on proposals for reparations.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas, is the sponsor of this bill.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): I am clearly a child that has walked this path. No, I did not pick cotton. But I will say that those who picked cotton created the very basic wealth of this nation for cotton was king. There was no other product.


JACKSON LEE: And so I ask my fellow colleagues that this is simply a constructive discussion that will lead to the practical responses.


KEILAR: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he opposes reparations for slavery. He says America has done enough to atone for its history of racism and oppression.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea.

We've, you know, tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We've elected an African-American president.


KEILAR: Michael Eric Dyson is a Georgetown University professor. He's an opinion writer and an author. And his latest book is "What Truth Sounds Like."

Thanks for being with us.


KEILAR: What is your reaction when you hear that from McConnell?

DYSON: It is pretty astonishing. First of all, here is a man obsessed with the past. The Republican Party is stuck in the past. Why is it they can't appreciate the fact that African-American people have been produced in a culture that has exploited our labor, not compensated us fairly, unjustly treated us?

The government sponsored Jim Crow in the separation of the races and extracted trillions and trillions of dollars from this unpaid labor.

Beyond that, the Supreme Court wasn't here, so to speak. It wasn't invented in any of our lifetimes. The Declaration of Independence wasn't written by a guy we can turn to right now. So the past clearly has a role in the present. His inability to being acknowledge that is fundamentally disingenuous.

Finally, from a party that has stood tooth and nail opposed to much of the legislation he has spoken about there and to the president, by the way, that he claims as the manifestation of reparations. Now, I don't get that.

How does Barack Obama account for 40 acres and a mule? How does he account for compensation historically for the denial of opportunity to African-American people? It is kind of strange.

But he said on the night that Obama was inaugurated, we are going to make him a one-term president. So Mitch McConnell is caught with his hand in the cookie jar on all fronts.

KEILAR: You talked a lot about ideas for reparations. One of the things you talked about is an IRA, which is not the usual meaning of the acronym.

DYSON: Right.

KEILAR: But instead, an individual reparations account for white Americans to donate to groups that help black Americans. Or, say, you cited as an example, if you have a black man that cuts your grass, why don't you double pay him, you said.

DYSON: Right.

KEILAR: The point you were making in this was, if you are for the government doing something but the government isn't doing something, well, there's something you can do as an individual. You made that point, raised a lot of eyebrows with it.

DYSON: Right.

KEILAR: But looking at the government side of things, what should the government do?

DYSON: Yes, that's a good point. I'm glad you clarified that. Because my point was, in the absence of governmental action, these are individual steps that white Americans can take to contribute toward reparation. But historically, the government has a lot to be responsible for. Lucy, you got a lot of splaining to do, so to speak. So there are enormous responsibilities on the part of the government.

[13:40:19] Mitch McConnell said we're not responsible. The great Jewish Theologian Abraham Joshua (ph) said, not all the guilty but all responsible.

All of us have benefited from a society of black labor, even if you weren't here when slavery was enacted.

Let's talk about transfer payments. Let's talk about access to education. Let's talk about compensation for retraining.

Let's talk about what my own institution, Georgetown University, has done. Two hundred and seventy-two enslaved people are the basis, enslaved people, are the basis for the wealth of that university. The student just voted each one to give $27 toward a student, a fund that would create enough wealth to be able to grant scholarships to those who are the direct descendants of those exploited.

So that, you know, you have to have the desire to figure out a way to do it, then the ingenuity comes. If you don't have the desire, if you don't have the will to fix what is wrong, then we won't do it.

Look what happened to Japanese brothers and sisters in internment camps in the Second World War. Look at Jewish brothers and sisters around Europe. So there are ways in which people can be compensated for their services.

Look at the G.I. Bill. Now, that was an act of active affirmative, it wasn't reparation, but it was trying to say these people had done to war, let's figure out a way to help them. Give them money for a house, points on a job test and entry into schools.

So there are creative ways to address the African-American plight and predicament and there are multiple fashions and forms that reparations can take to address the situation.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about something else we are tracking right now, and that is former Vice President Joe Biden who is under fire right now.


KEILAR: He was talking about bipartisanship but he was highlighting his bipartisan efforts with two segregation Senators.

He said this at a fundraiser, quote, "I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me boy. He always called me son."

And he said this about a late Georgia Senator, quote, "A guy like Herman Talmadge, one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all of these guys, well, guess what, at least there was some civility, we got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done."

What is your reaction to that? And I also want to highlight that Cory Booker weighed in on this, another presidential candidate, and he is calling for him to apologize. He said, quote, "You don't joke about calling black men boys." He also said that, "Vice President Biden's relationships with proud segregationists is not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people and for everyone."

He says some other things but those are the highlights.

DYSON: I love both of the men. They're extraordinary public servants and citizens. Cory Booker is a remarkable young Senator. Joe Biden has been there for decades and as a vice president, but he is plain wrong here.

The reality is Senator Booker is right. You can't joke about that. First of all, he would never call you a boy because you don't qualify. You are not an African-American. Your partner, Barack Obama, might have been called a boy.

First of all, to make a joke about something you're not qualified for, you're not subject to or a potential victim of, dismisses the legitimate anger, rancor, hurt and agony that African-Americans endured, and black men, in particular, by being called a boy.

So showing your bipartisan chops by saying you're able to strike deals with white supremacists and work with bigots does not advance the argument about creating an opportunity-driven society where everybody, regardless of skin color, race, gender, class or religion is able to participate.

I think that Senator Booker is right here. Joe Biden has a great sense of humor but he ought to apologize for that and get his mind in the game in a far more reasonable fashion.

KEILAR: Michael Eric Dyson, thank you so much.

DYSON: Thank you.

KEILAR: As always, we appreciate you coming in.

DYSON: Thank you for having me.

[13:43:53] KEILAR: CNN just learned that the FAA certification flight of the Boeing 737 MAX plane is expected to take place in the next two weeks. This, as hero, Captain Sully Sullenberger says he had trouble with the MAX 8 simulator.


KEILAR: A community in shock after they learn new details of the murder of a young woman, lured to her death by her supposed best friend, who was acting on instructions from a fake millionaire nearly 4,000 miles away.

CNN's Dan Simon has more.


DAN SIMON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This young woman is at the center of a disturbing catfish scheme. Induced online, prosecutors say, to murder her supposed best friend.

DENALI BREHMER, ACCUSED OF MURDERING HER SUPPOSED BEST FRIEND: What I did was wrong and I know I could have probably done something different.

SIMON: Eighteen-year-old Denali Brehmer's arraignment in an Alaska courtroom turned into something of a confession.

Authorities say it began after Brehmer struck an online relationship with someone she thought was a wealthy man named Tyler from Kansas, who, prosecutors say, offered Brehmer at least $9 million to rape and murder someone in Alaska and to have photos and videos of the murder sent to him.

What Brehmer didn't know is that Tyler was a fraud, a catfisher. His real identity, police say, 21-year-old Darin Schilmiller, from Indiana.

[13:50:09] The victim of this twisted scheme, Cynthia Hoffman. The 19-year-old was bound with duct tape, then shot and killed.

TIM HOFFMAN, FATHER OF CYNTHIA HOFFMAN: All I know is my daughter didn't deserve all of this. She should have had the friends that she wanted.

SIMON: Hoffman's father said she had a learning disability that could have made her vulnerable.

According to court documents, the killing was carried out by Brehmer and four of her friends, including two juveniles. All, including Schilmiller, has been charged with first-degree murder. It's unclear if he has an attorney.

On June 2nd, under the guise of going on a hike, Hoffman was taken to the bank of an Alaskan river. She was shot one time in the back of the head. Her body then thrown into the river.

HOFFMAN: I have one thing in my mind right now, and that's to send all six of them to hell. And I ain't going to rest until it's done. And then after it's all done, I'll show my emotions.


KEILAR: That was Dan Simon reporting.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaking in just moments. Will he react to pressure by President Trump and denounce an interest rate cut? Plus, Hillary Clinton just responded to being the focus of the

president's re-election launch.


[13:55:59] America has a billion-dollar crisis when it comes to the roads and bridges that we drive on every day. In a special report, CNN's Jason Carroll investigates how a lack of funding is catching up with our deteriorating infrastructure.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four million miles of roads and more than 600,000 bridges across the United States, in many cases, crumbling faster than they can be repaired.

SYLVIA CAMPOS, MICHIGAN DRIVER: It's terrible. It's terrible. I don't know how to tell you, it's horrible. Too many potholes.

CARROLL: The nation's roads received a "D" in the last report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Texas, Louisiana and California were among those nearly flunking, all getting "D"s. The worst, New York and Michigan, both "D"-minuses.

CAMPOS: I have a flat and I'm pissed off. Get out here and fix the potholes.

CARROLL: Last February, Sylvia Campos says a gaping pothole almost caused her to have an accident on I-75 in Detroit.

CAMPOS: You need to do something about it ASAP, now.

CARROLL: Three weeks ago, it happened again. This time on I-94.

CAMPOS: They need a pothole patrol or something. Something's got to give. This is two times. Two times to me.

CARROLL: County officials say, given the poor condition of the state's roads, it's likely there will be a third time.

CRAIG BRYSON, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, OAKLAND COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION: You get what you pay for, and right now, we've been investing less than every other state in the nation. And we have the roads to prove it.

CARROLL: Craig Bryson, with Oakland County's Road Commission, says Michigan needs $2.5 billion more a year in road funding. And there's little appetite to raise taxes or increase vehicle registration fees.

BRYSON: We need the federal government to step up.

CARROLL: Federal infrastructure money is one way to help Michigan, a state that was crucial in paving the way for President Trump's 2016 victory.



CARROLL: Whatever the source of the money, one report found annual investments in the nation's roads and bridges needs to increase by $32 billion.

A whopping 47,000 bridges in the country are listed as structurally deficient. That includes the Brooklyn Bridge, Washington, D.C.,'s Memorial Bridge and the Pensacola Bay Bridge. Structurally deficient bridges are defined as needing repairs but not unsafe for travel.

In West Virginia, one in five bridges are structurally deficient, including the Evitts Run Bridge in Charlestown.

(on camera): It's hard to see the problems from up above, but once you get under bridges like this one in West Virginia, you can really start to see what's going wrong. This is a piece of guardrail that's fallen off. Up there, there's an actual hole in the guardrail. More holes there. Crumbling concrete. At the very end, you can see where the concrete has simply fallen away.

(voice-over): An estimated 11,000 people cross the Evitts Run Bridge every day.

DAN MCGANN (ph), WEST VIRGINIA RESIDENT: This is a tragedy waiting to happen.

CARROLL: Dan McGann (ph) lives nearby and says the state has been promising to repair it for two years.

MCGANN (ph): Not so much this bridge. It's what it represents across the state. We don't invest in infrastructure. People here know about it, they're angry about it, but what can they do?

CARROLL: One solution, neighboring Pennsylvania increased taxes and fees which helped cut the number of structurally deficient bridges in half.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see there's some deterioration here.

CARROLL: But it's still a constant fight to keep bridges like this one, which will get a $54 million renovation, in shape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't have any additional revenues, the be at to stay ahead of the curve, so to speak, we're going to lose that in a few years.

CARROLL: A rough road ahead, one that will cost billions to fix.


CARROLL: So there has been bipartisan support for infrastructure. You also have the president who says he wants to make a deal, and that he'd be good at making an infrastructure deal. But as is so often the case, it really comes down to money. How are

you going to fund it? No agreement yet, and the clock is clearly ticking -- Brianna?

[14:00:05] KEILAR: That's needed.

Jason, great report.

Jason Carroll, thank you.

And that is it for me.

"NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.