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Harris Touts her Background; Presidential Candidates Prep for Debates; Ag Secretary on Trade War; New Video Released of Smollett; Dodgers to Extend Netting. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 25, 2019 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Says he feels Harris is a transformative figure, like President Obama.

The endorsement comes as Harris prepares for that first debate. Of course, that is this week in Miami. It will give her another chance to show why her background as a prosecutor sets her apart from her competitors.

Our senior national correspondent Kyung Lah reports.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Drumming up support in South Carolina ahead of this week's Democratic debate, Kamala Harris used the words of the courtroom to tout her record as a prosecutor.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So let's read that rap sheet, shall we? He asked black Americans, he said, what do you have to lose? Well, we know civil rights investigations are down, hate crimes are up. We have a lot to lose.

LAH: Her argument on why she is best positioned to make the case against the president.

HARRIS: Let's talk about looking at that rap sheet where he has embraced dictators like Kim Jong-un and Putin and taken their word over the word of the American intelligence community. Let's prosecute the case.

BEVERLY DIANE FRIERSON, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: I think today was a good preview of what to expect. You could tell there was fire in her spirit.

LAH: Beverly Frierson, a retired teacher, first noticed Harris during Senate hearings.

HARRIS: Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I'm happy to answer a more specific question, but --

HARRIS: Male versus female.

LAH: That handling of powerful Washington players also swayed Brandi Brooks.

BRANDI BROOKS, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: When I saw the Kavanaugh hearings, I thought she was amazing, super strong.

LAH: From Supreme Court nominees to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

HARRIS: I want you to be honest.

JEFF SESSIONS, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: And I'm not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.

LAH: To most recently the current attorney general, William Barr.

HARRIS: Has the president, or anyone at the White House, ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone, yes or no please, sir?

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president or anybody else?

HARRIS: Seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us.

LAH: Viral cable moments racking up millions of views online. But there's another narrative about Harris' prosecutor past that as a district attorney and then California's attorney general, she was more cop than reformer. Harris has pushed back on the trail and in interviews.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For whatever reason, they think a black person should never lock up other black and brown people.

HARRIS: Yes, but that -- but here's how I feel about that, (INAUDIBLE), are you saying that if a child is molested, if a woman is raped, if somebody's shot down and killed --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should go to jail.

LAH: In the days leading up to the Democratic debate, Harris is determined to showcase that prosecutorial careers as a top credential.

HARRIS: I know how to get that job done. We need somebody on our stage when it comes time for that general election who knows how to recognize a rap sheet when they see it and prosecute the case.

FRIERSON: She's no nonsense. And sometimes people play games with you or attempt to do so. She makes it clear, you don't try that with Kamala Harris, and says I'm well prepared and I can handle it.


HARLOW: Kyung Lah's great reporting there. Kyung, thank you. The Democratic presidential candidates hoping the debates will be their chance to reintroduce themselves, or for some really introduce themselves to the American voters and score points with them. They have been preparing in very different ways. Former Vice President Joe Biden studying his own record so he is ready for attacks. That's what we're hearing. Senator Amy Klobuchar reviewing 2016 Republican primary debates for clues about how to stand out from the crowd. Senator Bernie Sanders taking a unique approach, ditching mock debates and said his campaign has been attempting to influence the debate topics by introducing his own topics to the public. We're seeing that from Warren as well on say student debt elimination.

Joining me now to talk about it, CNN political analyst and political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis.

Good morning.


HARLOW: So let's start with Senator Kamala Harris. How can she be most effective on that debate stage? Because I think we know from 2016 women who come off forcefully and aggressively can sometimes be called things like shrill.

LOUIS: Yes. Well, she -- she, I think, has sort of mastered the art of being incisive, some of the clips we just saw --


LOUIS: Being pointed, being tough, but doing it with a smile, doing it with, you know, sort of smiling from her eyes the way you're supposed to do on television.

HARLOW: Someone once told me you can say anything with a smile.

LOUIS: You can get away with a lot with a smile. And I think she has really sort of perfected that to a certain extent.

HARLOW: Interesting.

LOUIS: And -- and -- but that's only, I think, to the extent that the debates become about showing that you can be fierce and forceful against Donald Trump. And that's going to be, I think, what a lot of people are going to be trying to showcase, that they can be forceful, and they can be tough --

HARLOW: Right.

LOUIS: And that they can stand up to this person who is such a difficult person to deal with in the media.

HARLOW: What -- it's going to be stark to see Joe Biden up there in his 70s standing next to people and near people half his age, right? And so one supporter of Biden suggested he could employ the sort of 1984 Reagan versus Mondale line, right, remember this, I will not make an issue of this campaign, I'm not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.


[09:35:18] HARLOW: Do you expect something similar from Biden?

LOUIS: If he's -- if he's got a great, great line, something that he can deliver as well as Reagan delivered that line, which really shut down that issue completely in that 1984 re-elect, then he should certainly deliver it.

I don't know if there's such a great line out there because, you know, it's not so much about his age in a physical sense, that's what Reagan was fending off. It's really more about the record that you've accumulated over the decades, the alliances, the votes, the compromises that might sort of stand in the way of voters really embracing him, and that's not what Reagan was really dealing with.

HARLOW: What about Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? We know they are friends -- or can we call them fri-enemies (ph) this week. But we heard Sanders this week also say essentially, I -- I'm better for this, right? My student debt plan is better, et cetera, et cetera.

How do they handle one another?

LOUIS: Well, look, Sanders has never made a secret of the fact that he's willing to sort of throw some elbows, that he's willing to contrast his approach and his plans. And as his, you know, once impressive standing in the polls has started to diminish a little bit, I think we're going to see him throw a little bit more in the way of elbows.


LOUIS: And, frankly, it's part of his brand. Part of his brand is to be the angry, loud guy who's, you know, ready to storms the castle and change everything on behalf of the people that he says he cares about. That style does not lend itself to playing nice in the sandbox.

HARLOW: Who's your -- who's your dark horse? Cillizza -- our Chris Cillizza wrote a great column this week. He talks about Andrew Yang as a dark horse, someone who's never run for office before, talking about a universal basic income, et cetera. Who's your dark horse candidate?

LOUIS: Yes. I -- well, somebody I'm going to keep an eye on just to see how he performs --


LOUIS: Frankly is Senator Booker. That he's got a lot of experience. He's got a lot of debating experience. He's placed himself -- he's still trying to, I think, find his footing. And I'd be very curious to see -- he's sort of -- he sounds like an orator, because he is a legislator, but he also ran one of the biggest -- well, the biggest city in New Jersey, so he's got executive experience.

HARLOW: Sure. And the only one from really urban, inner city environment.

LOUIS: Well, that's right. And I mean lives in the inner city.

HARLOW: That's what I mean.

LOUIS: He says that from time to time.


LOUIS: I want to kind of see how he sort of tries to position himself.


LOUIS: He's put it out there a few times. The polls don't seem to be responding.


LOUIS: He came out after Senator Biden, clearly I think suggesting that he knows he's got to make up some ground. So, he's trying, and we'll see what -- what happens.

HARLOW: OK. We'll be watching.

Errol, thank you.

LOUIS: Thanks.

HARLOW: Appreciate it, as always.

President Trump set for a high stakes meeting, of course, this meeting with Xi Jinping. In just days this all will happen at the G-20 Summit in Japan and you better believe that farmers thousands of miles away here in the U.S. are going to be watching especially that conversation very closely, tariffs, trade deal et cetera.

Coming up, Agriculture Secretary David Perdue says those farmers are the causalities of this trade war. When will they see relief?


[09:42:31] HARLOW: All right, we are just days away from the G-20 Summit. It is critical. There are crucial meetings there, especially between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. This could be a make-or-break moment for farmers in the United States because of those tariffs.

While the White House has promised aid to the farmers to counter the effects of the president's trade war, much is riding on the success of negotiations with Beijing. In an exclusive interview with CNN this morning, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is acknowledging that the farmers are taking a hit.

With me now my friend and colleague CNN business and politics reporter Vanessa Yurkevich.

You know, it's not often that we hear from Sonny Perdue. Bravo on getting the interview. What did he say?


Yes, well, it's hard to ignore what a tough year farmers have had, especially here in Iowa after historic flooding earlier in the year has left many of their farmlands under water.

Now, the administration has provided some disaster relief funds, but what farmers here want is an end to this trade war. I spoke with the secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, and asked him when this trade war is going to end.


YURKEVICH (voice over): It's a sunny day in Iowa for the Great Tractor Ride, a welcome sight after heavy rains last week brought more flooding to farmlands. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue brought his own tractor up for a ride and a message from the president.

SONNY PERDUE, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: President Trump has a lot of respect for farmers and ranchers across this country. He appreciates your patience. He understands that it's tough out there.

YURKEVICH: The U.S. has been in a trade war with China for almost a year. Farmers have felt the brunt of it, with tariffs driving down their crop prices.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Is the American farmer the casualty in this trade war?

PERDUE: I think they are one of the casualties there of the trade disruption, yes.

YURKEVICH (voice over): The president is headed to the G-20 Summit in Japan this week, where he'll meet with China's President Xi Jinping to try to get trade talks back on track after a deal fell apart last month.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Well, the president is going to speak with the president of China later this week.


YURKEVICH: You seem excited.

DE BRUIN: Yes. Yes.

YURKEVICH: What are you hoping comes out of that conversation?

DE BRUIN: Wouldn't it be great if they could get a deal?

PERDUE: I don't think he'll come home with a deal, but I think he could come home with a beginning of let's really get serious about negotiation.

[09:45:00] YURKEVICH: How long do you think it will go on?

PERDUE: I'd love to see a resolution by the end of this year.

YURKEVICH (voice over): But that might be too long for some. Farm bankruptcies are up 20 percent last year, the highest in almost a decade.

DE BRUIN: We have to pay the bill. We can't just keep going. The bank isn't going to keep letting us go, right? You know, you've got to get to that point where you say, OK, what do we do now?

YURKEVICH: Last month the president approved another bailout package for farmers, $16 billion for 2019.

DUANE BRANDT, IOWA FARMER: What they're doing this year is going to help a bunch. It's going to help me a bunch. But --

YURKEVICH (on camera): So you wouldn't be able to make ends meet if you didn't have these government subsidies?

BRANDT: They would have been very, very slim.

YURKEVICH (voice over): Farmers here hoping this lifeline continues.

PERDUE: Yes, I think that President Trump has demonstrated they can count on him. Obviously we don't have nothing promised.

YURKEVICH (on camera): So ultimately can they count on getting those funds from the federal government if this trade war continues?

PERDUE: Again, this is a 2019 program. I'm not going to promise anything for 2020.


YURKEVICH: Many farmers that we've spoken to are still supporting the president despite this trade war. But as you mentioned, Poppy, they're going to be paying very close attention to this meeting between President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping in order to see if any progress will be made on a trade deal this week.


HARLOW: I think -- Vanessa, great reporting. I think the question is, how long is their patience, right? How long of a rope are they giving the president here? Do you -- do you have any sense of that?

YURKEVICH: I asked them all that question and they don't give me a definitive timeline. They say that they're waiting -- they're willing to wait it out, but they aren't willing to wait forever, which is why they're paying very close attention to this meeting later this week, really hoping that they'll get some news of progress from it.


HARLOW: OK. Vanessa Yurkevich live for us in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Thank you for the reporting.

All right, so ahead for us, video you have not seen until now. These are the first images, the first video of the actor, Jussie Smollett, with the noose around his neck as Chicago police release hours of new video of officers talking with Smollett the night he says he was attack by those two men.


[09:51:44] HARLOW: All right, so we're just getting in the first video look showing the "Empire" actor, Jussie Smollett, with a noose around his neck. This is after he reporting being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago. Earlier this year, Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men who he says doused him with bleach and wrapped that noose around his neck. Chicago Police, for their part, later said they determined it was all an elaborate hoax staged by Smollett himself.

Let's go to Ryan Young, who has been on this story from the beginning.

So they're releasing hours and hours of this videotape, right, as part of their investigation, hundreds of files released by the Chicago Police.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just think about this, first of all, the shockwave that happened after this story when it was first happening. We were on this intersection. This is exactly where they say the attack supposedly took place. There were people running who were running for president who started putting out tweets about, maybe this needed to be a federal investigation. You had 20 detectives from the city of Chicago working this case to try to find the two men who allegedly beat Jussie Smollett.

But then it all took a turn. In fact, when you look at this video, you can see that noose placed around his neck. And almost from that moment, detectives started working backwards on this case. The rope looked pretty brand new. They were kind of concerned about that as well. And some of the parts of the story just didn't add up.

But listen to Jussie Smollett and his manager taking to the officers in his apartment just a half hour or so after the attack supposedly happened.


JUSSIE SMOLLETT: The reason I'm calling is because of this (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

POLICE OFFICER: OK. Do you want to take it off or anything?

SMOLLETT: Yes, I do. I just wanted you guys to see.


YOUNG: And as you can imagine, so many people were upset about this, the idea that a man could be attacked, a black man could be attacked in Chicago and have a noose put around his neck.

Well, this story started falling apart, especially after police arrested the Osundairo brothers. Those brothers who actually worked, at one point, on the set of "Empire," where Jussie Smollett's trainers tell police that they were a part of this elaborate hoax because Jussie wanted more attention.

He then had to face 16 counts. And this is the big story here, Poppy. At the end of the day, the state's attorney's office sort of made this case sort of go away. And that enraged detectives. This story is far from over as a special prosecutor has now been pretty much put into place in this case. Police are still asking why this happened. Let's not forget, Jussie Smollett has been removed from the show "Empire" after all this has been said and done.

HARLOW: Wow. All right, so many twists and turns. Ryan, thanks for the reporting. Please, keep us posted.

YOUNG: All right.

HARLOW: Ahead, a baseball fan struck in the head by a foul ball. Now the Los Angeles Dodgers want to stop this from ever happening again. We'll explain how.


[09:59:04] HARLOW: All right. Welcome back.

So, for the third time in just about a week, a Major League Baseball team says it will make changes to its stadium to try to protect its fans from foul balls.

Andy Scholes is with me this morning and has more in the "Bleacher Report."

What happened?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, well, the Dodgers, they've announced that they're going to join the White Sox and Nationals in extending their protective netting down the foul lines. The team's president says plans will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

Now, this comes right after a young fan was hit in the head by a foul ball on Sunday. And that fan, Kaitlyn Salazar, explained what that felt like.


KAITLYN SALAZAR: You know in those like movies where like when a bomb goes off and you hear an eerie sound and then like the scene starts to like get fady and then everyone sounds like mumble? Yes, like that.


SCHOLES: Now, luckily Kaitlyn was OK, but other fans recently have not been as lucky. A 79-year-old woman died last year four days after being hit by a line drive foul ball at Dodger's Stadium.

[09:59:56] Now, cries for more netting have become even louder recently after a four-year-old girl was struck in the head by a line drive during a game in Houston last month. MLB Commissioner Rob Manford has said extending the netting at all parks is something the league is going to look into, but it's tough to do during the season.