Return to Transcripts main page


Biden Campaign Raises $21.5 Million; Military Chiefs Concerned about July 4th Event; Trump Tweets about Cost of July 4th Event; Buttigieg Outraises Biden and Sanders; Overcrowded Migrant Centers; Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) on Offensive Border Patrol Posts. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 3, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "BLOOMBERG": President Trump is very comfortable with. And I think many of his party members are following suit.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: All right, everybody, thank you so much.

Thank you for watching INSIDE POLITICS. We'll be right here tomorrow on The Fourth.

Brianna Keilar is starting RIGHT NOW.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, a shocking report of squalid conditions and severe overcrowding inside migrant detention facilities with senior management calling the situation a ticking time bomb.

More than $2 million of taxpayer money meant to improve the nation's national parks has been diverted to help cover the costs of President Trump's July 4th extravaganza.

Plus, another poll shows another slip for Senator Bernie Sanders. Is his 2020 bid in trouble?

And will she or won't she? An Alabama prosecutor expected to announce her decision on whether or not to go forward with the case against a woman charged in the death of her unborn child after someone else shot her in the stomach.

But we begin with news of second quarter fundraising numbers. Just last hour, the campaign for former Vice President Joe Biden announced it had raised $21.5 million. And this is putting him behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg with $24.8 million, but then ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders with an $18 million haul.

This news is coming as Biden and six others hopefuls are spending the Fourth of July holiday in Iowa, which is where CNN political reporter Arlette Saenz is.

And, Arlette, how come Biden's numbers weren't bigger? ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Brianna, it's worth

noting that Joe Biden entered the 2020 race three weeks into that fundraising quarter. So his campaign has pointed out that he was only raising that money over 66 days.

But Biden brought in $21.5 million as he devoted a lot of time during this period out there fundraising. He held over two dozen high-dollar events across the country since he entered the campaign. But he still was not able to overcome that number or best that number posted by a little-known South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, who just a few months ago many in this country had not heard of. Mayor Pete Buttigieg brought in $24.8 million in that second fundraising quarter. Biden is ahead of Bernie Sanders, who posted $18 million. And we'll see what the other candidates might be posting in the coming days.

But these figures come, as Biden has seen a drop in some polls, a tightening of the race since that last debate. And today he will be coming here in Iowa as many of the other top-tier candidates are also descending on the state over this holiday weekend. We're going to see Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, also Mayor Pete Buttigieg across the Hawkeye state, exactly seven months before the Iowa caucuses.

And yesterday there was a poll that showed the race here kind of tightening. A "USA Today"/Suffolk University poll found that Biden is still leading the pack here in Iowa with 24 percent, followed by Kamala Harris at 16 and Elizabeth Warren at 13 percent. But we're going to see what kind of message Biden brings today here to Iowa, as he's coming off kind of that shaky debate performance, as he's looking to reassure voters that he is the best pick to be the Democratic nominee and take on President Trump.


KEILAR: All right, Arlette, thank you.

And, in the meantime, we are now about 24 hours from President Trump's July 4th extravaganza. And CNN has learned that U.S. military chiefs have some serious concerns about this event, including the fact that it involves displaying armored tanks. Their reservations appear to have fallen on deaf ears, though. As you can see, tanks were rolled into the capital overnight and they're already sitting on the National Mall.

Our Jim Sciutto broke this reporting about some of the dismay among the military chiefs.

Tell us about why they're concerned.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this is what I'm told, that senior military commanders, including the uniform chiefs of the individual services, have deep concerns about politicizing the July Fourth event, being politicized by the president, by the White House specifically. They have deep reservations about including tanks, armored personnel carriers as part of the celebrations, though, of course, president's commander in chief, so ultimately the Pentagon would fulfill those requests under the direction of the White House, but they did have deep reservations about that.

In addition, I'm told that several of those uniform chiefs of the individual services were, themselves, reluctant to attend the ceremony, being made part, in effect, of what could be seen as a political event. Several of them are not attending, though we are told that some of them had prior plans in place that are conflicts.

But the big picture here is that the president has said that military commanders were, quote, thrilled by this event, that the Pentagon was thrilled by this event. In fact, when you speak to people who have direct knowledge of their conversations about this, they were not. In fact, they had deep reservations about it.

KEILAR: All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you for bringing us the fact check on that. We appreciate it.

[13:05:03] And along with these concerns about potential politicization, there's also this important question, who's going to pay for all of this? Well, according to "The Washington Post," the National Park Service is footing at least some of the bill here. It's diverting nearly $2.5 million collected from entrance fees that you and other Americans pay when you visit parks and also people who are not Americans, obviously, foreigners as well, who visit parks, to help cover the cost of this event. And usually that money would be spent on repair and restoration projects.

The president, though, is defending this expensive celebration tweeting, quote, the cost of our great salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth. We own the planes. We have the pilots. The airport is right next door, Andrews. All we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!

With us now is April Ryan with American Urban Radio Networks, and Rachael Bade with "The Washington Post."

All right, April, fact check this for us because fuel isn't the only expense here.


KEILAR: We know that aircraft are coming from quite far away.

RYAN: Yes. Not only that, let's look at the transportation to bring these great pieces of military equipment to the city of Washington, D.C., then also the repair. The streets are not actually made for this. There's so much -- it's not just the moment. It's beyond the moment, the preparation, the moment and beyond.

And then I also talked to Julian Castro yesterday, Democratic presidential candidate, who said the cost of what it takes for this Fourth of July celebration should be used for homeless veterans instead of this.

It's not just about the moment. It's not about the optics. It's before, during and after. KEILAR: And it's going to be a different event. He's holding an event

and Democrats say that they are being frozen out of July 4th.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, they have an opening here, particularly because of the taxpayer money that's being expended here. I mean $2.5 billion. This is money that --

RYAN: That's a lot of money.

BADE: Yes, and a lot of the national parks right now are hurting. There's a lot of renovation projects that are underway --

RYAN: Yes.

BADE: And they could use that money.

Add on top of that, that the president is inviting his political donors and giving preference to Republicans and people are saying on Capitol Hill, you can't use taxpayer money for something that looks like a campaign event and could ultimately turn into some sort of campaign event or at least look like it. So Democrats on The Hill are angry about this. You're, of course, going to see them send a bunch of letters, try to get people on the record saying, you know, this is not the way it should be handled at the Pentagon.

But, yes, this is definitely giving them an opening to say this is not what the July 4th should be about.

KEILAR: I want to talk about the 2020 race. We're looking at some new fundraising numbers. Mayor Pete Buttigieg raising more than any other candidate this last quarter. Is that something that surprises you, April?

RYAN: No. He's a maverick. He's young. But, at the same time, he's got some problems in South Bend. And people aren't necessarily paying as close attention to that as they are supporting someone new.

People want to break the cycle in Washington. We have a president who has broken the cycle and done something totally different. But they want someone who understands politics, who is new, who's fresh, but, at the same time, he brings a different message. And I think it's more about the message that he brings versus who he is.

And Joe Biden needs to step it up some kind of way. He's the one to beat. And, I mean, he has to do something at that next debate to really show people that he is actually the contender that can go up against Donald Trump because the way Kamala Harris went after him, it does not look like he could actually do the clap back, go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump.

KEILAR: Let's look -- let's look at what the polls are showing. A new ABC/"Washington Post" poll finds Democratic voters --

RYAN: Yes.

KEILAR: Overwhelmingly thought Senator Harris stood out for her performance at the debate, though when it comes to who they'd vote for in the primaries, and this is key --

RYAN: Right, Joe Biden. Yes.

KEILAR: Joe Biden still wins, Rachael?

BADE: Yes, no, when just did a poll -- "The Washington Post," we just put out a poll showing that when voters were asked to just name a candidate without actually giving the names of candidates who are running, 21 percent still said Joe Biden, and that was an increase from 8 percentage points since April. So he's still ahead.

But the thing to watch here, I mean, this is the end of the fundraising quarter. But this doesn't really take into account the big shift we saw from the debates. I mean the next quarter is the one to watch, I would say. You see Kamala Harris, you know, surging ahead. You know, how does she -- how does her fundraiser numbers stack up after she did that with her good performance there?

RYAN: She did have a good performance.

KEILAR: Well, so let's look at Bernie, right? He's starting to see a dip. Bernie Sanders is starting to see a dip in the polls in recent CNN and Quinnipiac University polls, he's coming in fourth right now behind Biden, Sanders and Warren. How -- how much more difficult is this field for him since he's not like the soul alternative like he was against Hillary Clinton.

RYAN: He's got to find -- one thing that you have such a crowded field, it's over stimulation for a lot of people. And people know the message of Bernie Sanders. He's been there, tried it. And they said, OK, we give you a chance, give us something fresh and new, and they're not hearing it.

[13:10:02] The problem is, again, the crowd is so large and everyone has something to say. But I think -- I think these second debates, the second round of debates, really will put them on front street to see what you're made of.

And a lot of it has to do with electability. If you are that person who can stand next to Donald Trump, are your issues really about all America, or is it just about one side, pushing it to far left or are you a centrist? People want to hear now, does this affect me? How does this affect me? Is it for the good? People are not hearing that in one candidate. They're seeing it in a hodge-podge right now.

BADE: Yes. And with a lot of the other candidates, they're -- they're adopting what Bernie Sanders ran on in 2016 --

RYAN: Right.

BADE: Whether it's Medicare for all --

RYAN: Yes.

BADE: Free college. I mean these are policies that he's been pushing for, for a long time, but it makes it harder for him to stand out. KEILAR: Yes, he's made an impact, but he's not shiny and new, right?

April, Rachael, thank you both so much.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, are sitting down with Chris Cuomo for an exclusive one-on-one interview. As the competition surges, how does the 2020 Democratic frontrunner stay ahead of the pack? Watch that CNN exclusive interview Friday morning at 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

And next, a CNN exclusive. A border patrol agent speaks out about offensive posts found on a closed FaceBook page which allegedly shows fellow agents mocking migrants. Our Nick Valencia is going to join me with this stunning interview.

And in just two hours from now, an Alabama prosecutor is going to announce whether she'll move forward with this case against this woman here, Marshae Jones. She was pregnant when her unborn baby was shot and died.


[13:16:3] KEILAR: Now to a story of the atrocious conditions in border detention facilities through the lens of the kids who are enduring them. These are pictures that were drawn by children, two 10-year-olds and one 11-year-old who were just released from Customs and Border Patrol custody in Texas. They were asked to draw something that depicted their time spent in CBP custody. So they drew themselves in cages. And a social worker provided these pictures to the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose incoming president has been touring facilities.


DR. SARA GOZA, PRESIDENT-ELECT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: When they opened the door, the first thing that we -- that we -- that hit us was a smell. And it was a smell of sweat, urine and feces. And I heard crinkling to my left and I looked over there and there was a sea of silver and there were young children, boys, and there are unaccompanied boys in there, and they had no expressions on their faces. There was no laughing, no joking, no talking. I describe them almost like dog cages with people in each of them. And the silence were just hard to watch. Hard to see.


KEILAR: Well, these drawings reinforce what we've learned from a 16- page report that was compiled by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security. And it found massive overcrowding, prolonged detention and squalid conditions for both adults and children.

Some had no access to showers or to clean clothes. And this report said, quote, most single adults had not had a shower in CBP custody despite several being held for as long as a month. At some facilities, Border Patrol was giving detainees wet wipes to maintain personal hygiene. Most single adult detainees were wearing the clothes they had arrived in days, weeks and even up to a month prior.

They also described detainees desperately trying to pass on messages from inside of their cells. Here's another quote from the report. When detainees observed us, they banged on the cell windows, shouted, pressed notes to the window with their time in custody and gestured to evidence of their time in custody.

Nick Valencia, you have been covering this story. You're outside of one of these border facilities in El Paso, Texas, right now. Tell us more about the findings of this report and what CBP is saying.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the images in this report are just disturbing. And there's no denying the facts, migrants are being held in conditions that run a risk to not just their health, but also the safe of not just the migrants in custody, but the agents themselves. And here are some of the more shocking things listed in this report.

A third of the children are being held for a prolonged period of time, more than 72 hours, sometimes weeks, months. Three facilities that were visited by these inspectors didn't have showers for the children to shower, so not even given the dignity to wash themselves. Two facilities weren't providing hot meals to the children. And, most importantly, what is important to note from this inspector general report, Brianna, is just the overcrowded conditions. You have 80 migrants sometimes in a cell that's meant to hold only 30 to 40.

Now, these facilities were in the Rio Grande Valley, which is the most active sector. But here in El Paso, the conditions are just the same. And that's what we're hearing from a veteran El Paso Border Patrol agent who decided to speak on conditions of anonymity. I asked the agent why speak out now and they told me, enough is enough, it's time to speak out about the horrid conditions inside these facilities.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The holding facility, the cells, they are what I will say filthy. We have a maintenance and cleaning crew that clean the general area, like the hallways, but I have never seen them cleaning counters or cleaning toilets in the cells.

[13:20:16] VALENCIA: You're taking a big risk by doing this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but America needs to know. They need to know the truth.


VALENCIA: The veteran agent went on to tell me that earlier this week they overheard a supervisor joking about the photo, that viral photo of Oscar, the father from Central America, and his daughter, Valeria. They heard a supervisor joking about dead migrants and also following up with a statement saying that they wanted to use their vehicle to run over migrants.

Now, these are very serious allegations. Allegations that we took to Customs and Border Protection. And while they did thot directly respond to these allegations, Brianna, they said they are taking them seriously and have handed them over to the inspector general.


KEILAR: All right, Nick Valencia, thank you for bringing us that interview. So important.

Ahead -- the head of Homeland Security is vowing swift action against any Border Patrol agents found to have made disturbing social media posts in a private FaceBook group. Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan tweeting this, these statements are completely unacceptable. And he says he has directed an immediate investigation.

I want to bring in Congresswoman Judy Chu from California. She's joining us.

You were among the Democratic lawmakers who visited border facilities in Texas this week. You went to three different facilities. When you hear McAleenan, the secretary, saying that he's going to conduct proper oversight here when it comes to this FaceBook group, for instance, do you trust that he will do that?

REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): Well, I certainly think there's an urgency for him to do that. And, in fact, he will be brought before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee next week in the House. So there will be a chance to question him on that.

But the question of this FaceBook post is just horrendous. It's unbelievable that this group has 9,500 members when there are 20,000 agents as a whole, nearly half of them that belong to this FaceBook group, which laughed at the death of migrants, talked about throwing burritos at us congress members that were coming to investigate and also had derogatory pictures of Congress member Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. This is not acceptable and it has to stop. And people have to be held accountable.

KEILAR: I do want to be clear, we know that this was a group for current and former CBP officers. So it is possible that that ratio is not exactly as large. And I just want to say, there have been some CBP people who -- supporters of CBP who say that this is looking very poorly for some members who do not share these opinions as well.

You visited three of these detention centers. We've been hearing some of the stories. Can you tell us what you saw?

CHU: We went to the El Paso border patrol station, as well as the Clint border patrol station. And in El Paso, we were immediately struck by our conversations with women who were in these holding cells. And as they realized who we were, tears streamed down their faces as they talked about their miserable conditions.

They had been held for more than 50 days and did not know when they were going to get out. They had been separated from their children. Some of them had medical conditions, which they desperately needed medication. One was epileptic and the another had an aneurysm, still hadn't gotten their medication, and they said that they had no running water. And, in fact, one woman said that when she asked a CBP agent for it, that he told her to drink from the toilet. It was appalling and it was disgusting.

KEILAR: Did -- what -- were you there during mealtime?

CHU: We were not there for that. But I have to tell you that at Clint, which houses the unaccompanied children, they took great pains to show us their stocks of food, and toothbrushes, as well as soap. But what was incredibly disturbing is that when we asked about the reports that had come out through the attorneys that had interviewed 60 children, they denied all of that. They said that that did not occur. These children were not in conditions where they could not shower or could not brush their teeth. That this incidence of them running around with dirty pants because there was no diapers, that that was totally fiction. And they pointed to the toothbrushes and said, well, it's there. If they didn't use it, it's basically their fault. So it's a blame the children kind of ideology.

[13:25:05] KEILAR: So -- and who was telling you that?

CHU: The head of the facility.

KEILAR: The head of the facility. And did you --

CHU: Yes, (INAUDIBLE), of Customs and Border Patrol.

KEILAR: The head of the facility, Customs and Border Patrol head of the facility.

And did you believe them?

CHU: No, of course not, because these lawyers had been very thorough and the lawyers had the ability to do these interviews because of the Flores Agreement, which provided oversight. So they interviewed 60 children, six attorneys talked to these children and they say that the children's stories were all pretty much the same. So it was repeated 60 times over, and I believe the children.

KEILAR: Congresswoman Norma Torres, who also toured facilities, said she didn't feel safe, at least on one of these tours. Was that your experience?

CHU: I felt very uneasy because -- in fact, we had just read the ProPublica report which revealed the FaceBook posts. And there we were right with all those CBP agents. It was of great concern. And, in fact, they took an unauthorized selfie of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, not for good purposes, I'm sure.

But there is an underground network of CBP agents who I think are out of control. I was so glad that you had that one CBP agent talking out. That agent was very courageous and it shows that there are well- meaning agents who are trying to do their bests. But there are out of control agents and there has to be done -- something done to hold them accountable. KEILAR: Congresswoman, you were part of that Democratic bloc that did

not vote for the $4.6 billion border spending bill. There were objections that there weren't protections, more specific protections for migrants. I was speaking with Republican Congressman Tom Reed who said he has confidence that the agency is getting that money are going to -- that they're going to put that money where it needs to be, especially right now when we see all this attention on what's happening. Do you share that opinion?

CHU: I do not share that confidence. I felt it was so important to have provisions in that bill, which would specify that there would be minimum standards for medical care, hygiene and nutrition. Right now the law is that the detention facilities only have to provide what they think is safe and sanitary. But only recently, at the Ninth Circuit Court, the Trump administration attorneys were arguing that safe and sanitary does not include soap and toothbrushes. That is what they're thinking is. They're saying if it's a temporary facility, we don't need to provide that.

So we need to make sure that those minimum standards are there. And this $4.5 billion that was voted upon goes to the actual purposes for which it was intended. That's the only way that we can make sure that these migrants have at least the humane treatment that could keep them safe and, indeed, sanitary.

KEILAR: Congresswoman, thank you so much. Congresswoman Judy Chu joining us.

CHU: Thank you.

KEILAR: Right now an Alabama prosecutor is deciding whether to go ahead and try this woman, Marshae Jones, for the shooting death of her unborn child. This is a bizarre case. She was not the shooter. We're going to tell you all about this.

And later, the funeral for NYC bomb squad detective Luis Alvarez, one of the countless first responders on 9/11 who never stopped fighting to get support for fellow victims.