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Presidential Candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) South Bend, IN. Raises $24.8 Million Second Quarter; Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) Raises $2 Million In 24 Hours After Debate; NYT Reports U.S. May Settle For Nuclear Freeze By North Korea; Protesters Break Into Hong Kong Legislature. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 1, 2019 - 10:00   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: To get into the United States.


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A very good morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

With nearly $25 million fundraising haul, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has now announced his official entry into the top tier of the democratic presidential field. But another surging figure in the race, Kamala Harris, she is answering with a key pair of party endorsements.

And as the man they want to replace returns to Washington from his trip to asia, The New York Times is reporting on a potential major policy reversal by the President on North Korea, that the White House is now considering a plan to allow Kim Jong-un to freeze his nuclear program in place, crucially keeping his nuclear weapons stockpile instead of dismantling it, as the President initially demanded.

Let's begin with the 2020 race though. CNN Correspondent Jessica Dean joins me now from Washington. So, really impressive numbers for Mayor Pete Buttigieg who came out of nowhere early on, but this waltz him, really, into the top tier of the democratic candidates.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, I think you're exactly right. This cements him in that top tier. A number like this is a very big one. It's a statement-making number and that's what's got everybody talking this morning. $24.8 million from 294,000 different people, he did over 70 different types of fundraisers. So he worked very hard for that money doing those big donor fundraisers, where you max out at $2,800 a person, and also, grass roots fundraisers where people were giving $5, $10, $15, $20.

And if you look at how that compares to his last quarter in fundraising, that was when he raised $17.1. million, which at the time, remember this, it was a huge number for him because he really seemingly, as you said, Jim, come out of nowhere. So the trajectory of this campaign has just been incredible and it has really made a difference for Pete Buttigieg who now, as you said, finds himself in the top tier of candidates. And this money ensures that he can stay in this race for a very long time. And with that many candidates in the field, Jim, longevity is important.

SCIUTTO: Yes, pretty remarkable for the Mayor of a town of 100,000 people.

Let's talk about Kamala Harris. She was another performer from the debate last week and she's now pecking up some key party endorsements.

DEAN: Right. So these are big endorsements for Kamala Harris's campaign. She picks up two new endorsements from congressional black caucus members. That's going to put her at six endorsements. That's one ahead of Joe Biden, who himself has five different endorsements from congressional black caucus members.

And all of this coming for Kamala Harris in light of a weekend where she was attacked for her race by the President's son in a Tweet. He Tweeted or re-Tweeted, rather, this Tweet you see on your screen now asking is this true, wow. You see there, quote, Kamala Harris is not an American black. It went on and on there about her race. And as you can imagine, the Harris campaign jumping all over that, saying that this was the same kind of racist attack that had been used against President Obama. The other democratic candidates coming out in Kamala Harris's defense calling these attacks, Joe Biden's campaign saying that this is the same kind of hate that was rooted in the birtherism movement.

So, Jim, as you can imagine, everybody jumping to Kamala Harris's defense there. That Tweet later deleted. But this is as Harris is on the rise, getting those two new endorsements and also raising $2 million after her big night, Thursday night when she made a splash at that debate.

SCIUTTO: I mean, just echoes of birtherism, right? And if we thought that that kind of thing was eliminated, no. Jessica Dean, thanks very much.

Joining me now to discuss this, CNN Political Analyst, Kirsten Powers, Columnist at USA Today. So, Kirsten, first of all, if I could start with Pete Buttigieg's numbers here, $25 million in a quarter for the mayor of a small town in Indiana. I mean, this is remarkable. Does this firmly put him in the top tier of democratic candidates?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. But I think that he's already been there. He's been seen as a pretty serious contender now at least for the last month or so where he's been incredibly savvy. I mean, I think one of the big things that he did was be really available to the media. I mean, he was really talking to pretty much anybody that wanted to talk to him and getting himself out there and understanding that he was unknown and he was obviously a long shot. And he has been very impressive. I think he's been able to keep his cool even when he was under fire, like he was in the debate, rightfully so. I think he's been criticized and he was taking accountability for criticisms that he's gotten for how he's handled the local issues.

So -- but I think seeing that there's money behind it shows that it's real.

SCIUTTO: Kamala Harris, of course, another performer from the debates last week and already seeing a jump in her numbers.


But what's been interesting, she was tough on Biden in that debate as we saw there. And now, some of Biden's supporters coming out to support him, Carol Moseley Braun, a former Senator from Illinois, she said the following, we can be proud of her, nonetheless, but her ambition got it wrong about Joe. He is about the best there is. For her to take that tack is sad.

Interesting criticism there in defense of Biden. Fair criticism?

POWERS: Look, she's a supporter of Biden so she's all in with him and she's going to defend him. I don't think that what Kamala Harris did was problematic in any way. The idea that even people have complained that the Biden supporters in particular have complained it was premeditated. While, okay, so you planned for a debate. That's not really -- that's actually not a problem. It's the opposite of a problem. It shows somebody who is prepared, whereas I think you saw Biden who frankly should have anticipated that somebody was going to bring this up, wasn't prepared.

And so you need to have people who are ready to be prepared and I think democrats are definitely looking for somebody who is willing to go after people and bring up tough issues. And so I think that I would expect Biden people to, of course, come to his defense, but there's nothing wrong with what she did.

SCIUTTO: Folks love to jump on story lines and trend lines, et cetera, and Biden clearly not a good day at the debates last week, but he went in with an enormous lead. In your view, you've covered this kind of thing for a long time. A sustainable wound to the democratic frontrunner or something he can recover from?

POWERS: I don't think there's one thing that will do in a candidate. I think that -- but he has a series of issues, I think, that will be raised in various debates and the question is how does he respond to them. And a lot of his frontrunner status has come from name recognition and being associated with President Obama, where there's a lot of people who are missing President Obama. And now, he's being judged more on his own behavior.

And so I think that I've never believed that Joe Biden was just going to run away with this. And there are a lot of impressive candidates. And so I think it's way too early to be -- I mean, and the same thing with people who are counting out Beto O'Rourke. I'm not counting him out Beto O'Rourke. It's just too early for this kind of stuff and we need to see what happens in the debates.

SCIUTTO: Yes. We learned a lot of lessons about counting folks in and out of the prior election cycles. Kirsten Powers, thanks very much.

POWERS: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Also this morning, a potential huge reversal from President Trump on North Korea. The New York Times reporting that the White House is now weighing a plan to would allow North Korea to keep all of its nuclear weapons and, crucially, missiles. Quoting here, the concept would amount to a nuclear freeze, one that essentially enshrines the status quo and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something that administration officials have often said they would never stand for.

Joining me now is Joseph Yun, he is the former U.S. Special Representative for North Korean Policy, and Ambassador Richard Haass, he, of course, is the President of the Counsel for Relations, long history himself in the State Department. Joseph, if I could begin with you, just in light of the fact that you were a North Korea nuclear negotiator, a U.S. negotiator with North Korea until recently, would this amount to a reversal by the administration?

I mean, the administrations have tried freezes before under Bush and Clinton, but that was a time before North Korea had nuclear weapons. This would be freezing North Korea with some 20 to 60 nuclear weapons here after administration went into these talks, saying this was all about denuclearization.

JOSEPH YUN, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Jim, freeze was always a part of the plan. You know, when you start denuclearization, freeze has to come in somewhere. The real problem with North Korea is freezing what? That's because North Korea has number of secret sites that some we know, some we may not know about. So you're not going to get a complete freeze. So if they offer a freeze or we agree to a freeze, it may only be Yongbyon, the declared site, and that's a problem.

Second problem with the freeze is they have to agree to verification, and that means inspectors all over the place, will they agree to that? So that's always been a problem, certainly when I was there, and, of course, it's a problem for right now, freezing what, how do we know it's a complete freeze?

SCIUTTO: Ambassador Haass, an interesting response to the story to say the least from the National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who notably was not there in the room with Kim and the President, although the President's daughter and others were. He said the following. I'll just read this Tweet again. I read The New York Times story with curiosity, and neither the NSC staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to settle for a nuclear freeze by North Korea. This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President. There should be con questions.

Your Tweet, Ambassador, in response to this was that this strikes you as an internal disagreement in the administration as opposed to a denial of the story.


AMB. RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Almost certainly is. Look, the President, my senses, would be willing to take less than a denuclearization, which is smart, because we're never going to get denuclearization. North Korea is not going to give up its nuclear weapons. We can keep it as a goal, we should keep it as a goal, but we're not going to get there.

So the question is, are we prepared to take lesser agreements, so- called interim agreements. I think we should though, as Joseph Yun correctly pointed out. The devil is in the details. What exactly would North Korea agree to dismantle? What would they agree to freeze? How do we know that at the same time, they're not going an end's run? We have to have some mechanism for challenging activities. That seemed to be inconsistent with either the spirit or the letter of any agreement.

This would be incredibly complicated. But that said, in principle, it's worth pursuing. However bad the situation is now, say, with the North Korea with, what, 25 or 40 or 50 nuclear weapons, with the passage of time, we would face a North Korea with as many as 100 nuclear weapons that would be of greater capability on better missiles.

SCIUTTO: Forgive me for looking for consistency in Trump administration policy here, but couldn't you say that the Iran nuclear deal was a freeze on Iran's nuclear program before it developed nuclear weapons, and yet the Trump administration pulled out of that deal? The president did calling it disastrous. Ambassador Haass, how do you compare the two?

We might -- we lost Ambassador Haass. I will defer that question to you, Ambassador Yun, because I imagine you have an opinion on it as well.

YUN: Yes, it's very much as you said, the Iran deal was freezed for a number of years and then they would be -- you know, would either have to renegotiate or they would get the centrifuges back to enrich uranium. So that's right, you know.

But the real problem with accepting nuclear weapons for North Korea is what is South Korea going to do? There is already threat by conservative South Koreans to become a nuclear power themselves. And then Japan, what is Japan going to do?

So I think any idea that U.S. would accept nuclear weapons for North Korea is a non-starter. It gets us into a very, very dangerous place. I mean, I understand that Trump administration wants to show something, but I just don't think it can openly accept North Korea as a nuclear weapon state.

SCIUTTO: Because North Korea is a serial cheater on all past nuclear agreements here, you would need some pretty invasive and broad- reaching inspections as part of any deal to give you any sort of confidence that they're abiding by such an agreement?

YUN: Exactly, Jim. And that's why the six-party talks failed because they would not agree to type of inspections that we wanted. And this is a challenge for Trump administration. We mentioned Iran. We also mentioned two previous agreements, agreed framework and also six-party talks agreement. Those are the standards in which Trump administration will be judged on North Korea. And right now, you know, there is no way they can reach anything, even resembling those three agreements. So it's a tough, tough challenge for the Trump administration.

SCIUTTO: Joseph Yun, thanks very much. Ambassador Haass, thanks to him as well. We lost the satellite link there but I know we'll be speaking with him again.

Still to come this hour, with concerns growing about poor living conditions in migrant detention facilities, one doctor based at the border says the border patrol is missing signs of illness in undocumented children. We're going to speak with that doctor.

Plus a pregnant woman shot in the stomach during a fight has now been indicted in the death of her unborn child. Now, her lawyers are fighting to have those charges dropped.

Goodness, a traffic stop ends with a deputy hanging on for his life. We're going to have more of this stunning video ahead.



SCIUTTO: Breaking news this morning out of Hong Kong, thousands of protesters, many of them young people, smashing their way into the government legislature building. They're now inside the lawmakers chamber, they are spray painting, ripping down photos. I can't tell you what a challenge it is, not just for the Hong Kong government but the Chinese. They do not take kindly to public protests.

Our Nic Robertson, he is right in the middle of this protest there live now. Tell us what's behind this, why today and why so aggressive?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The vast majority of rioters here are young people. They are coming out because they want the chief legislator here, Carrie Lam, the chief executive, to repeal and pull back completely a law that would extradite criminals, some criminals, serious criminals from Hong Kong to China.


It is, for them, the tip of the iceberg. The democracy and the freedoms that they enjoy here in Hong Kong, that their parents enjoy, that their grandparents enjoy, they believe all of that, all of that is at stake here.

And that's why they attacked the government building today. They said that they thought this was their opportunity to do something, to show that they were not going to count on this sort of trampling in the future on their freedoms by China, because that's their ultimate and biggest fear.

But what has happened here today, unlike several weeks ago, the police have not confronted the protesters. What we're seeing in this building is a free flow of protesters wandering inside, coming out when they want. There are no police around, it appears, to stop them.

They've gone into the legislative chamber where laws are passed, a sacrosanct place in any country. They've gone in there and they've taken down the colonial flag, replaced it with their own flag, spray painted graffiti that says there are no rioters, there is only tyranny. They have achieved in so many ways what they wanted to do. They had no plan.

But now, the question is at what cost did they achieve this, the support they had when the police beat them off the streets a few weeks ago is in question. It's in question because of the damage and destruction they've wrought getting inside the building. The question, of course, how will the police regain the control, what responsibility will the police take for what has happened here? This will certainly, it appears today, play into a narrative for China that there needs to be stronger and firmer control. And that is the exact opposite of what these protesters want.

So much was at stake today and the stakes got raised, Jim. And then still, this building, this government building is in the hands of the protesters, as if the White House had fallen into rioters.

SCIUTTO: Or the U.S. Congress. Nic, it's incredible to have you there right in the midst of it. I don't know another network capable of that. We're going to stay on top of the story.

An Alabama woman five months pregnant when she was shot in the stomach, now, she is charged with the death of her unborn baby, her own baby. Today she fights to have those charges dropped.



SCIUTTO: This morning, some 2020 candidates are set to release their second quarter fundraising numbers, first in with his haul, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, racing a massive $24.8 million.

Joining me now is one of Buttigieg's rivals, he's a democratic candidate as well as Congressman from Ohio, Tim Ryan. Congressman, we appreciate you taking the time today.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Him, Jim, good to be with you.

SCIUTTO: First, if I can, I want to start on the immigration issue. So many developments every day now. A funeral today, sadly for the father and daughter in that depressing picture. Let's look at the numbers though. In May, the number of people who were apprehended between ports of entry attempting to cross into the border up to 132,000 from 99,000 the previous month. There is a forecast that that figure will drop off in June, but still quite high. You're, of course, not advocating for open borders, as the President claims, but what is your plan as a presidential candidate to address the increase in the number of people attempting to cross the border?

RYAN: I would say immediately try to take care of what's happening now. I would be calling every doctor and nurse that could come down and donate their time, social workers to donate their time to help plug the hole here until we get the supplemental bill and get more people down there. We've got to secure the border. I come from Ohio. We have an opioid problem, we have heroin coming in, so we do need to secure it. But these are people that are asylum seekers.

The problem, Jim, and I've been saying this now for months, is in Central America. The President wants this drama day in and day out on CNN and other outlets so he can pretend that he is real strong and tough. Well, this is a sign of weakness. Go to Central America, help stabilize those countries where people are migrating from, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. There are people running from there because gangs are running the country. Help get the gangs out and help stabilize the country for a few million dollars, we can solve this problem and prevent this crisis at our border.

And what's the President's response? Cut the State Department funding, the very funding we would need to solve the problem.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about the bill. You were traveling last week so you weren't able to vote on the Senate bill, which provided billions of dollars to address the humanitarian crisis at the border. Had you been there, would you have voted in support of that funding?

RYAN: Well, yes. I mean, all alternatives, yes, because we need to get the money down there. I know there was a lot of things in there I would have liked to have seen.

But this gets back, Jim, again, to the main problem in the country right now is Mitch McConnell. We've got a Republican Senate and we need to nominate a candidate that cannot just win kind of the P.A., Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, which I can, we need a candidate that can also help dislodge Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, win a Senate seat in North Carolina, win a seat in Iowa and Kansas.

I think we've got to change the center of gravity of the Democratic Party to the south and the industrial Midwest, and we can start knocking some of these people off and then we won't have to have these compromises that go against.