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Interview With Rep. Tim Ryan (R-OH); Alabama Woman Charged In Death of Her Fetus; Interview With Bert Johansson, Pediatric Care Physician at the Border. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 1, 2019 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 some of our values.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: I wonder if you're concerned, as more Democrats even see the situation at the border as a crisis -- believe we have the figures here, but it was in single digits earlier this year, around 7 percent. Now it's 24 percent of Democrats. Of course, a large number of Republicans view it as a crisis there.

TEXT: Those Who Call Illegal Immigration a Crisis: Democrats: January, 7 percent; April, 24 percent. Public: January, 24 percent; April, 35 percent.

SCIUTTO: Is that a problem politically for Democrats in 2020, that they're seeing it -- they're not necessarily blaming it on the president. They're seeing it as a crisis here.

RYAN: Yes. Well, yes. I don't think it's a problem for Democrats. I think it is a crisis. I don't think it's a crisis for the Democrats politically, if you want to talk in stark political terms. I think it's a problem for the president.

The president gets elected to solve problems. That's why he gets hired or she gets hired, to solve these problems. He hasn't solved them. He's made matters worse. He's cutting the State Department funding for Central America, as I said, where we could actually solve the problem. He's making matters worse.

Kids are laying, literally, in their own snot, diapers that haven't been changed for three weeks, haven't had a shower. Like, fix the damn thing. Like, what are we talking about here? You're the president of the United States. Go down there. You're already spending billions of dollars, fix it. You're master business person, master problem-solver. Go down there and fix it.

People are dying, people are getting hurt. And the American people are tired of him getting these photo ops with dictators when he should be home fixing the problems here in the United States.

And this is -- this lays at the foot of the president. This is his responsibility. He's in charge. Buck stops with him. And he is not solving the problem. In fact, he's making it worse.

SCIUTTO: I hear your passion there. I appreciate it. A final question before we let you go. You're, of course, locked in an extremely competitive race for the Democratic nomination, more than 20 candidates. Awaiting quarterly fundraising numbers. You haven't announced it yet. Can you give us a sense of where you stand with those numbers?

RYAN: Well, I got in really late, Jim, so my numbers aren't going to be what Mayor Buttigieg's was or are. But we're doing really well. We had a great rollout. I like our changes. We've had a huge uptick since the debate because I was the one who was really bringing the conversation back to the working-class issues.

Look, this is going to be about who can beat Donald Trump. And, you know, congressman, 17 years, from Ohio that can win Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Western PA is going to be on everybody's radar screen and people are starting to notice this now.

And also, what I talked about with winning the Senate back. That's going to be the key. I can beat Donald Trump. I will take him to task and I can help us build the Senate back up to have a Democratic majority. That's what people are going to look at.

And the reality of it is, they want someone who's going to bring the country together. Trump won three of my -- three of my counties and I did 20 percent better than Hillary Clinton, almost 20 percent better than Hillary Clinton. So I can help breach the gap, bring people together: white, black, brown, gay, straight.

We've got a country to transform here. And the opportunities are there if we can remove the bully from the White House, remove the bully from the playground. I'm the person that can do that. And as that message gets out, we continue to do better and better.

"Washington Post" just bumped our power rating up two points. The only one who got a bigger bump than we did was Kamala Harris. So we're moving people, once we get our message out. So they -- your friends watching can go to, Jim, and send me a few bucks, help me along the way.

SCIUTTO: Gave you a chance for your pitch there. Congressman Ryan, thanks very much for joining the broadcast this morning.

RYAN: Thanks, Jim.

[10:33:48] SCIUTTO: A pregnant woman, shot in the stomach during a fight. She's now been indicted in her own unborn child's death. Police say that she is responsible. Will the district attorney prosecute her, mother who lost her child, for manslaughter?


SCIUTTO: Really remarkable legal case here. This morning, the district attorney's office in Jefferson County, Alabama's considering whether to prosecute a woman for the death of her unborn child after this mother was shot by another woman.

Marshae Jones was five months pregnant last December, when she got into a fight outside a Dollar General store. Police say Jones started the fight, and that the other woman was simply defending herself when she shot Jones in the stomach. But now it's Jones who is being prosecuted, possibly, for the death of her unborn child.

CNN's Martin Savidge, he is live in Alabama with details.

So the grand jury has said, "Move forward." Now it's up to the prosecutors as to whether they do.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Actually, a number of things are going on, potentially, today, Jim. The story is as complicated as it is controversial.

So it is anticipated that perhaps this hour, the defense attorney for Marshae Jones will file a motion for dismissal. In other words, trying to get a judge to dismiss the manslaughter charge against her. Once that motion is filed, then we'll know what judge, we'll know what courtroom and, more important, maybe the time and date of when some sort of rendering could come about.

The other thing you point out is the district attorney in this case. She is saying that she respects fully, the grand jury and its decision as far as handing down an indictment of manslaughter against the mother, who lost her child. But she says it's not up, finally, to the grand jury.

TEXT: Woman Charged in Her Fetus' Death, What We Know: Woman was shot in stomach last December; She was five months pregnant, fetus didn't survive; Police say she started fight that led to shooting; She was indicted last week for manslaughter; D.A. weighing whether to prosecute her

[10:40:01] SAVIDGE: In fact, the district attorney says that she could prosecute on manslaughter or she could prosecute on a lesser charge, or she may decide not to prosecute at all. And that decision is expected to come, perhaps, sometime this week. Certainly soon.

So there are a number of things that are in the works here -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Amazing (ph) story to follow. Martin Savidge on it. Thanks very much.

Joining me now is Jennifer Rodgers. She is CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor. She's also a lecturer at Columbia Law School, knows fair (ph) things about the law.

So this is -- a case like this, first of all, you said unprecedented, right? We haven't seen someone prosecuted under these circumstances?


SCIUTTO: And it's related legally to the claim that life begins at conception. So in other words, the fetus is viewed as a person like you and me?

RODGERS: That's right. So now, Alabama law and the constitution says that life begins at conception, a fetus is a person. And that's how this woman has been charged, at least by the grand jury, with doing something reckless to cause the death of another person, according to Alabama law, her fetus.

SCIUTTO: Well, that's what's -- you know, on the one hand, let's say that someone had shot her. Why not charge the woman who shot her? Make an argument for that. But saying -- they're saying she's responsible because she started the fight.

TEXT: What is Manslaughter in Alabama? A person recklessly causes the death of another person; A person causes the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute murder, "except that he or she causes the death due to sudden heat of passion"


SCIUTTO: Legal principle there?

RODGERS: Yes. Factually, it's hard to sort it all out. The grand jury decided not to charge the other woman, believing that she was acting in self-defense, which is a defense, if you -- you know, someone is using deadly force against you, you can retaliate using deadly force. So hard to know what the grand jury was thinking. It'll be more important to see what the prosecutor decides to do.

SCIUTTO: Legally under Alabama law, of course, which applies here, does -- do the prosecutors have a case? Would they have a case?

RODGERS: Well, it's interesting. The manslaughter law in Alabama is very similar to other manslaughter laws, so that's not really the issue here. The issue is, is it constitutional to charge this woman because her fetus died. You know, normally, under current Supreme Court precedent, women have control in choices over their own bodies, including if there is a fetus inside it.


RODGERS: So that's really the issue here, is it constitutional under the federal Constitution, to bring charges against her for this. And that's what we're going to be waiting to see.

SCIUTTO: Because, of course -- you know, so Roe v. Wade, based on privacy, so it gives the woman private choice to make a decision about whether to terminate a pregnancy. But as you're saying here, it would then encompass other choices by a pregnant woman, as to whether, for instance, she gets into a fight, right?

RODGERS: Yes. And everything from, you know, can you drink one or two glasses of wine, can you go skydiving, and all sorts of choices that women currently have the ability to make when they're pregnant could potentially be called into question if a person is inside you --

SCIUTTO: Right. RODGERS: -- and you have to protect their life more than your own,


SCIUTTO: And then face consequences for that. So how does the defense argue here? How do they push back?

RODGERS: So they make a motion saying that under the federal Constitution, it's, you know, unconstitutional to be prosecuted in this way, and we'll have to see how that plays out.

Now, many observers are concerned that with the current Supreme Court, with Justice Kavanaugh now on the court, that they may be looking to overturn Roe v. Wade.


RODGERS: So we'll have to see how that plays out. And the question is for anti-abortion advocates, "Is this the case that you actually want to see go up to answer that question?" Or would they rather have a traditional abortion case do that.

SCIUTTO: Right. And in the short term, does state law apply or federal law apply here? Which would --

RODGERS: Well, so the federal Constitution --

SCIUTTO: Which takes precedence, I should say.

RODGERS: So the federal Constitution applies to everybody and everything that we do.


RODGERS: So they both apply. But even if it's OK under the state constitution and state law, they still have to comply with the federal Constitution. So that will be the argument they're making here.

SCIUTTO: Unprecedented case. Really remarkable circumstances. Something to watch. Jennifer Rodgers, thanks for helping us understand it.

RODGERS: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Civil rights groups, suing the state. We'll follow the story as news develops.

[10:43:31] Another story we're following, health experts have been given the all-clear to enter detention centers holding migrant children in Texas along the border. This as one doctor says the Border Patrol is routinely missing signs that those children are sick when they come in. We're going to speak to that doctor, next.


SCIUTTO: A judge has now ordered that health experts be allowed inside detention centers holding migrant children in Texas to make sure the facilities are safe and sanitary.

Last week, a team of lawyers, doctors and advocates said that children at one facility were being held in just deplorable conditions. Our next guest has treated dozens of migrant children in the El Paso area, and he says that medical screening process at CBP areas is, quote, "absolutely unequivocally inadequate."

Joining me now, Dr. Bert Johansson. He is a pediatric critical care physician.

Doctor, thanks for joining us this morning.

BERT JOHANSSON, PEDIATRIC CRITICAL CARE PHYSICIAN IN EL PASO, TEXAS: Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to discuss what's going down here on our border.

SCIUTTO: So you've been down in El Paso for the past 10 years, treating migrant children. How many patients are you seeing now? And how does that compare to years past?

JOHANSSON: Well, I'm seeing a lot fewer now in the past few weeks. In the few weeks past, we were seeing literally, Border Patrol and ICE were releasing anywhere from 600 to almost a thousand patients. Now, we're seeing about a hundred a day.

And then prior, back in 2014, it was -- more -- when it was being run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the migrants were going to places such -- out in Chaparral (ph), that was being run by the Baptist Children and Family Services. So it was more controlled. At the time, we were seeing about 600 people there.

[10:50:09] SCIUTTO: Now, you made the point that Customs and Border Patrol Agents, they're required to have trained health care staff on- site to evaluate the children. But you say the agency's doing a poor job of doing that. What have you seen?

JOHANSSON: OK. Well, let me just start off -- the individual agents that I've worked with -- both at the Border Patrol, ICE, Homeland Security and now the federal police officers -- I've seen these agents actually risk their lives to save children. I've seen them spend their own money to buy formula and medicines for them.

So my issues are -- are more infrastructure and then (ph) higher- level. I would like to see physicians, nurse practitioners who are pediatric-trained, examining these children at an earlier time. I would also like to see the conditions in which they're being housed, change. Representative Escobar made a good comment when she was talking about how they're collected together.

Even though I hadn't been inside these center because they hadn't allowed us, I can tell you something about what's going on. I'm seeing illnesses like scabies, and what people call ringworm: skin infections. This comes when people are in close contact.

And I have some worries that we need to intervene because there's other transmitted infectious diseases that we can cut down on transmission of.

Additionally, many of these children are also ill from dehydration or diabetes, that they need their meds and they need ongoing care.

SCIUTTO: So I'm curious, as you watch the political debate in Washington, the question has been about advocating -- allocating money. Here, of course, you had the dispute over this bill to send billions of dollars down, some Democrats opposing that. They want more comprehensive plans here. From where you are, are those resources needed immediately?

JOHANSSON: Yes. Again, I do have some trouble with the word "crisis." Because I am very proud to be an El Pasoan (ph) now. And the -- we've had no migrants released onto the streets. We've had no pediatric deaths since the group that Dr. Gutierrez and Dr. Manny (ph) De la Rosa helped organize back in October. So I'm very proud of that.

But I would like to see something ongoing and established. For example, let's take that money and help educate doctors. A lot of these children are coming from Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador, and there are tropical medicine diseases: Chagas (ph), Leishmaniasis (ph), which American doctors aren't used to treating. Let's create an education for them.

Let's also establish a more organized system, where these people can come into the hospital's (INAUDIBLE) centers, set up by Annunciation House. So we can have more organized screening, including for tuberculosis and other illnesses.

SCIUTTO: Final question before I let you go. And I know you say -- and rightfully so -- you praised the individual work of customs officials there, the Border Patrol, et cetera, people doing their best. But do you think that the policy, the current policy is mistreating these children?

JOHANSSON: I'm glad, the way you articulated that. Much better than I did. I absolutely agree. I think the issues here at the higher leadership levels and at policy.

You know, I am proud to be an American. I am the son of immigrants. And we can do better than this. This is the America that my grandparents and parents immigrated to, is one that cares for its migrants.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, Dr. Johansson, we appreciate the work you're doing on the border there. We know your focus is taking care of the children. Thanks very much for taking the time this morning.

JOHANSSON: Thank you for having me on board. Have a good day.

[10:53:23] SCIUTTO: Still to come, dramatic dashcam footage. A sheriff's deputy dragged during a traffic stop. Next, what led to these scary moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCIUTTO: Today, a law making it harder for Florida felons to vote goes into effect. It requires that felons pay all fines, fee and restitution before they can register to vote. You'll remember that last year, Florida voters approved an amendment that restored voting rights to about 1.5 million felons who had served their time.

But last week, the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill that set conditions -- new conditions on that amendment, which was not in the referendum. Civil rights groups are suing the state, arguing the new requirement amounts to a poll tax, which is illegal.

Staying in Florida now, where a man will be in court this afternoon, facing attempted murder charges after investigators say that he dragged a police deputy nearly a hundred yards with his car. The video is just incredible.

Investigators say the deputy pulled over the suspect on Saturday because of his tinted windows. But the situation turned tense when the deputy said he smelled marijuana, started to question the driver. And that's when this happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now. I'm telling you, right now! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Put it in park! Put it in park! Put your hands up! Put your hands up! Put your (INAUDIBLE) hands up! (INAUDIBLE) you're trying to take off with me, step (ph) them up (ph), now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't do nothing. Please!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I'm telling you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What (ph) are (ph) you doing to me (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up. Put your hands up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't do nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I swear to God. Put your hands up. Put it in park. Sir --


SCIUTTO: Goodness. What a standoff there. The deputy did shoot the suspect in the leg before rolling into the median. Authorities arrested the man, several hours later. That deputy expected to be OK. Just remarkable video there.

[10:59:52] Thanks so much for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.