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Washington Post: Park Service Diverts $2.5M for Trump's July 4th; Federal Watchdogs Release Images of Overcrowded Migrant Centers; Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) is Interviewed About Detention Centers at Border. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2019 - 07:00   ET





[07:00:04] MCAULIFFE: John, happy birthday.

BERMAN: Happy birthday, America.

MCAULIFFE: Let's get some hot dogs and some beer, and let's go.

CAMEROTA: Let's do that.

BERMAN: We can do that any day, though. Let's be -- establish that.

MCAULIFFE: Yes, I do that every day anyway.

BERMAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, Governor.

All right. There are these disturbing government photos that we have to show you of how migrants are being treated today. NEW DAY continues right now.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is exactly what the president wanted: big pieces of military hardware.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP: The Fourth of July is a celebration of this country's independence. I'm not going to allow you to politicize it.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Involving Republican National Committee changes the fundamental tone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about celebrating our military.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think we need to bring them onto the National Mall to justify their effectiveness. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New images from the DHS office show what one CBP

official calls a ticking time bomb.

REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D-FL): I am not leaving this facility. I am prepared to stay until I see the girls!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These Border Patrol facilities are only supposed to house people for less than 72 hours.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't understand why we don't see more of a sense of urgency.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: And we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, and we begin for you with new evidence of the deplorable conditions for migrants in these detention centers at the U.S.'s southern border.

Look at your screen. These are the images on the front pages of several newspapers this morning. That's "The Daily News" calling it shameful. "The New York Times" on the right has the headline "Squalor Pervasive."

Now, these disturbing pictures were released in a report from the Trump administration's own watchdog agency. So of course, they will be very hard to deny. They show hundreds of migrants, including children, crammed into extremely overcrowded border facilities.

BERMAN: So also new this morning, the president is getting his tanks and his planes, not to mention his political friends and donors in prime seating. This is the Fourth of July celebration that he wanted. The one bringing military firepower to our nation's capital.

So how much will it all cost? The exact price tag, frankly, completely unknown. But "The Washington Post" is beginning to uncover some of the details. And reports this morning that the National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance fees to help pay for it. And that's just a fraction of it.

Let's bring Josh Dawsey. He is the White House reporter for "The Washington Post" who broke this story.

Josh, great to have you on this morning. Two point five million dollars from national park entrance fees. And again, this is only a small part of what this will cost, correct?

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Correct, John. Two point five million that usually would go to the parks is being diverted to organizing the national lawn, setting up the, you know, fireworks, presidential -- you know, the motorcade, the travel. Everything that goes with him coming to such an event.

These are just some of the first contracts we've seen. Then you have additional costs for, you know, the flyovers, the bombing flyers that are going -- flyovers that are going to go over; the military cost of the event; you know, the different -- cost of getting the tanks here. We saw tanks rolling through the streets of D.C. last night.

So you have a lot of different costs coming together. But the first numbers that we've been able to see are $2.5 million from the National Park Service. And then there will be, you know, a number of others that pile on top of that.

BERMAN: Now you're talking about the military cost of this. One of your colleagues I was reading estimates that a flight hour for a B-2 -- and there is going to be a B-2 bomber flying overhead. A flight hour is $140,000 per hour. And if that -- if that B-2 is coming from Missouri, where they tend to be based, you know, that's $600,000 at least for one plane that's flying overhead?

DAWSEY: Right. And there are going to be a number of planes flying overhead. You have Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, that's expected to fly overhead when the president takes the stage.

And then you have different aircraft for -- I mean, different aircraft from each branch of the military that are also expected to go over. So there will be a number of planes going over. And if you take that calculation, as you just did, and you multiply it, you can imagine that you'd be getting in the millions of dollars pretty quickly.

BERMAN: So the dicey subject of Republican donors. The RNC is getting an allotment of tickets for party VIPs here. Federal law -- and correct me if I'm wrong here, Josh -- prohibits the use of public money for political purposes here. So what line does the White House have to walk here?

DAWSEY: To be clear, John, so is the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign is also getting an allotment of tickets. So you have the RNC that's getting some and the Trump campaign that are getting tickets.

The line that they're using to explain this is they're saying that there's always VIP tickets for White House events. If you have an Easter egg roll, so to speak, a Christmas party, different events at the White House.

[07:05:04] What makes this a little trickier, John, is that this is on, you know, public property. This is on the National Mall. This is a ceremony that had not, in the past, had VIP entrants. It was a fireworks display for, you know, everyone to come and see it. And now you have a special cordoned-off area for the front of a show that folks, if you gave a lot of money or you're allied with the party, that you're going to have a better view than if you're not. And that has really turned some people the wrong way.

BERMAN: And a lot depends on what the president chooses to say in his speech, correct? If he uses words that get political, and we just don't know. And we know that oftentimes, the president, despite what might be on the prompter, does veer into the political.

DAWSEY: Right. He's expected to go for about 20 minutes at 6:30, John. And you can -- you can imagine the tones of a speech that will be written in the teleprompter would probably be of soaring unity, of America, of Independence Day, of kind of a theme that often drives such a ceremony.

But as you've said, we've seen the president many times go off prompter. In fact, the two and a half years I've been covering him, most of the time he goes off the teleprompter. So what he will actually say when he sees an assembled throng of crowds, maybe many supporters, maybe some MAGA hats in the crowd. Who knows what will happen?

But this extravagant jubilee that he's been planning and has been getting daily briefings on is coming together. And tomorrow night it will be showtime.

BERMAN: Just one last point on the $2.5 million that you're reporting on. Is that money now that doesn't go somewhere else? Is there a national park in America now that isn't getting that money that needs it?

DAWSEY: Well, there's a finite amount of money for parks service fees. I mean, they only take in so much money for them, based on how many people go to the park. So if you take this money out of the pool, it makes sense that it wouldn't be there for other parks to use.

Now, whether a specific park won't get money before this, it's hard to know. But there's only so much money in the pool. And if you take this out, then it would stand to reason that in other places, you may -- you would have less.

BERMAN: Josh Dawsey, doing reporting in your backyard. This celebration scheduled for tomorrow. "The Post" has been doing great work on this. Thanks so much for being with us this morning. Keep on digging.

DAWSEY: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk more about all this. Let's bring in Margaret Talev. She's a senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg News. Toluse Olorunnipa, he's the White House correspondent for "The Washington Post." And CNN contributor Bianna Golodryga. Great to have all of you. Happy early Fourth of July.

So Margaret, I'm still confused. Is this a national holiday event? Or is this a political rally for the president?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Alisyn, the White House says that this is not a political event, underscore not a political event, and that he will talk about soaring themes of unity, what it is to be an American, patriotism, the strength of the military, and so on and so forth.

As Josh was just saying, I think we will see what he says and sort of take our cues from there. But this has essentially now become a politically divisive event; and it's not typically a divisive event. It's typically the Fourth of July. You know, I think that this is sort of an inside the Beltway, outside

the Beltway story to some extent. I think the president knows his base, and he knows that this is an event that will resonate well with his base.

Is it going to have implications on the election? Is it going to turn voters who would have supported him off? Probably not.

And so the president has decided the more the criticism piles on, the more he's determined to do this. He's wanted to do this since he was impressed by the French event when he met with Emmanuel Macron in 2017. His first effort to do it got ruled out because it was too expensive. And when the president doesn't get his way, it just redoubles his desire to go forward.

So that's what we have here. But -- but it has become a huge topic of conversation inside Washington, and it's given some members of the military and Republicans a little bit of heartburn in the process.

BERMAN: You know you bring up some great points, Margaret. I think the president probably doesn't mind the controversy. The -- he gets to be at the center of the controversy, which may be what he wanted all along.

CAMEROTA: But -- but soaring themes of unity, is that what he's known for? That's what he'll speak about?

BERMAN: It would be an unusual event if that were the case. Look, he did it at Normandy. But then he also did the interview, you know, off to the side beforehand. So he's never had a day free of it, let's say this.

And Toluse, Margaret said this will play to his base. His base doesn't really live in Washington, D.C. You know, typically speaking, you know, we saw a little bit of that at the inauguration. You know, he's not exactly drawing from what could be a friendly crowd there.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. The president loves having big crowds. In this -- in this case, he's sort of coopting a pre-existing crowd of people: tourists, Washingtonians, who are -- every year go to the Mall for this big event, to watch the fireworks, to celebrate the Fourth of July. The president's sort of coopting this and turning it into his own crowed.

And there will be protests. There will be people who are not happy that the president is there giving a speech, even if he does stick to themes of unity, which we are not sure that he will do that. But the president is likely to have people who are not happy to see him there.

[07:10:09] One point I wanted to make is that it's very interesting that the president was finally able to get this parade and this military -- this show of military might after two years.

It's important to remember that the Defense Department does not have fully confirmed head, defense secretary. For two years, while Jim Mattis was the defense secretary, the Defense Department kind of pushed back against this. But now that there's an acting secretary looking to please the president, looking to be fully confirmed, it seems like there's less pushback from the Pentagon to the idea that, you know, millions of dollars may be spent and hundreds of manhours may be put towards putting all of this military might on the Mall, something that the military was previously opposed to doing. Now they seem to be on board.

And there's no one at the head at the Defense Department that's fully confirmed by the Senate. Everyone seems to be in an acting position, looking to sort of get confirmed and get the full support of the president. Sort of trying out for the job. And I think that's an important point to note, as this moves forward.

CAMEROTA: Bianna, let's talk about what the Democrats will be doing this weekend. So many of them in Iowa.

So there's this new interesting Iowa poll. So not a national poll. Arguably more relevant. Iowa caucus goers. This is from Suffolk University, "USA Today," and it has Biden still leading, 24 percent. And then Harris at 16 percent. This is post-debate. Warren, Elizabeth Warren, at 13 percent. Then Bernie Sanders. Then Pete Buttigieg, then undecided at 21 percent. So what do you see here, Bianna?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It shows the significance of the debate. Right? Bernie and Biden both have name recognition. Others, like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, not so much. And given their performance at the debate, I think a lot of people for the first time really saw them in a position where not only they could possibly look presidential taking on other candidates but obviously, the big question, can they take on Donald Trump?

Biden had a not-good night. I mean, that's what the takeaway has been. He did not come prepared. And you see how Kamala Harris has soared ever since. This is something that the Biden folks are really concerned about. What is he going to come to the next debate with, if he wasn't prepared to take her on with issues that, arguably, he should have been prepared by, right?

CAMEROTA: I mean, busing did seem to come out of left field. But then we find out he had five pages devoted to it in his own autobiography.

GOLODRYGA: Right, right. And I keep going back to the point where he stops on his own. He said, "My time has come out." He's never done that in the past. He's never been one to stop talking or stop thinking out loud. And yet here he was. And that really showed a point of weakness for him.

And the question will be can he recover? It was the first of many debates. If there is a time to stumble, obviously it's the first time. But this is a time where people are really seeing Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren shine.

BERMAN: I want to focus, if I can, for a minute on this inspector general report. This is a report from the Trump administration itself. So keep that in mind, if people within the White House try to deny this later on or push back on it.

It includes photos from some of these detention centers and border facilities housing migrants who have crossed the border there. And it includes the finding, Margaret, that "the purpose is to notify you of urgent issues that require immediate attention and action. Specifically, we encourage the DHS to take immediate steps to alleviate dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention." People supposed to get showers after 72 hours. They haven't received a shower for a month.

You see the pictures of the squalor as the papers are putting it down there. Very much what is a humanitarian crisis at the border.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think this is a real concern now throughout the administration.

I think when the president talks about ICE and Border Patrol and the people who run the kind of immigration enforcement part of the government, he tends to talk about tough guys getting, you know -- getting bad guys.

But the truth is that there are thousands of employees, many of whom are sort of career employees and are not particularly partisan and not particularly activist. And are very concerned about doing a good job, doing an appropriate job.

I think we're going to see more of these kind of releases of information from the inside by employees who are concerned and some more pushback from the courts.

You know, there's been these high-profile tragic cases of parents and their children trying to get across the border, across rivers and, in some cases, ending in fatalities. That is not the administration's responsibility, but it becomes your responsibility.

But once you take someone into your custody, it becomes your responsibility. And we're going to see now a real test of the administration's approach of saying, "We're going to hold people rather than release them." You know, that is -- that is going to be tested, both with these images and now with the courts.

CAMEROTA: That's such a great point.

Toluse, what about that? President Trump likes to blame Congress for this, for the loopholes in the asylum laws that he says are causing this sort of influx at the border.

[07:15:03] But Congress is not authorizing treating people worse than dogs in cages. And it's -- for some reason, President Trump doesn't think that you can do both, which is press Congress to fix the asylum laws if need be, and treat people humanely. Why is that so hard right now for the U.S. to do?

OLORUNNIPA: Alisyn, the president and many in his administration see that this type of treatment is a deterrent. They're trying to send a message down to Central America that if you come to the U.S., you're going to be treated poorly and that you shouldn't come up, because it's hard. You're not going to be able to get a shower. You're not going to get soap or toothpaste. It's not going to be like staying at a hotel. And the president is trying to send a message.

And these images really should be a humanitarian outrage, that if the president has millions of dollars that he can pull out of -- out of nowhere for a military parade on the Mall for the Fourth of July, you would think that they could find enough money to provide sanitary conditions for these migrants.

GOLODRYGA: And I think you're going to see more pressure on Congress, specifically Republicans from the state of Texas and who are affected firsthand by the situations that we're seeing there and the deterioration of situations there in these facilities, why they're not going with their Democratic congressmen to visit them. Because clearly, this is a crisis that's going to continue throughout these summer months as it gets much more heated.

CAMEROTA: We have a lawmaker who just went yesterday to one of these detention centers coming on next to tell us about what she saw inside.

BERMAN: Wet wipes. Wet wipes --


BERMAN: -- is what's being used. The solution right now is wet wipes.

CAMEROTA: I mean, haven't showered in weeks.



BERMAN: A month.

CAMEROTA: OK. A quick programming note. This Friday, we have a CNN exclusive for you. Former Vice President Joe Biden is going to sit down with Chris Cuomo. How does the Democratic 2020 frontrunner plan to stay ahead of the pack? This interview will air Friday morning, right here on NEW DAY at 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Eastern.

BERMAN: And again, the vice president hasn't done interviews like this. It's a big deal.

CAMEROTA: This will be fascinating.

BERMAN: All right. Breaking news. Iran is threatening to increase uranium enrichment to any amount it wants and needs. That is what the president, Hassan Rouhani, told state-run media.

The accelerated enrichment is start to set [SIC] after July 7 and would be the second breach of the nuclear agreement since the U.S. withdrew from it.

Uranium enriched at low levels, allowed by the agreement, is used for nuclear power. Highly-enriched uranium is for weapons. Iran announced today that it acted on its threat to increase its stockpiles of low enriched uranium, beyond the 300 kilogram limit set by the deal.

Again, the key here is that this uranium that Iran says it will start doing is of a higher quality and can be used for weapons. This is seen as a more serious breach of the deal than what's been done up to this point.

CAMEROTA: And the question is now what?

BERMAN: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: So those disturbing images of the detained migrants that we just showed you, these of course, have some lawmakers demanding big changes. We're going to speak to a congresswoman who toured one of these facilities yesterday.


[07:21:56] CAMEROTA: These pictures capture more than words can. Government watchdog photos show dire conditions at these overcrowded migrant detention camps in the U.S.

A report describes people there who have not showered in weeks being held in standing-room-only cells.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. She visited a detention center for unaccompanied minors in Homestead, Florida, yesterday.

Good morning, Congresswoman.

REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D-FL): Good morning. How are you?

CAMEROTA: So yes -- I'm well. Tell us about what happened yesterday. You led this group of congressional Democrats to this detention center, and what did you all see?

WILSON: Well, we saw children crowded in a facility just like they were in prison, overcrowded, the -- where they slept like a gymnasium with bunk beds.

And I was truly concerned about the adolescent girls. And for some reason they kept shifting my focus and trying not for me to see the adolescent girls. So I demanded that I would not leave until we saw the girls.


WILSON: So I had a star-studded group going with me. We had John Lewis and Benny Thompson, who's chairman of the homeland security.


WILSON: We had the teacher of the year. I mean, all -- there was ten of us. And it was unbelievable.

CAMEROTA: But congresswoman, we heard you --

WILSON: It's jail. It's jail.

CAMEROTA: We heard you making your impassioned plea. "Where are the girls?" you were yelling. "Where are the girls?" And so did you see the girls that you demanded to see?

WILSON: I saw the girls that I demanded to see, but not all of them. I saw the 17-year-olds.

And the sad part about it, the 17-year-olds were in a classroom. Maybe 14 classrooms of 17-year-olds. I saw where they sleep at night. And everyone uses the bathroom outside. So there's a porta toilet. So if it's raining or whatever inclement weather you may encounter, you have to go outside to use the bathroom.

So they're there at 17, waiting on their 18th birthday. ICE comes to that facility, shackles their hands, shackles their feet, and take them to a private prison just like the private facility that they're in. So they're profiting from these children. So it's profit and greed.

And instead of them processing them out of these centers, out of that center, they're constantly bringing girls and children into this center. And I do not trust them with adolescent girls. I do not trust them with girls going through puberty. I do not trust him. And those were the girls that I didn't see. The 13-, 14-, and 15-year- olds --

CAMEROTA: You couldn't get access to them?

WILSON: -- who are changing from womanhood.

[07:25:03] CAMEROTA: So though you were demanding to see them, you could not get -- they would not let you meet with them?

WILSON: I met with the -- with girls, 700 girls.

CAMEROTA: But not the 13- or 14- or 15-year-olds?

WILSON: Not -- no, no. And that's who I will be going see, because I want to question them. I want to know how long have they been there.

And these are not all unaccompanied minors. Some of these children have been separated from their parents, separated from their aunties, grandparents, as they cross the border.

CAMEROTA: And so Congresswoman, I mean --

WILSON: And I said to one --

CAMEROTA: Yes. Just so I understand.

WILSON: Yes. CAMEROTA: What are you suggesting? Are you suggesting that they're being separated and kept away from any sort of prying eyes, because this is a money-making scheme? I mean, what do you fear is happening there?

WILSON: Yes. That's what I think it is. I think it's a money-making scheme. Instead of them processing the children out, they're processing children in so that they can use government money to expand this facility, which is already about the size of three football fields, with thousands of children. And every day they're bringing in new children from the border.

So there's no real plan to exit these children out of this facility but there's a real plan to bring them there, because they said to us, "We're going to add permanent structures." Now they're in tents. And it is so sad.

I said to one of the workers, who were all white men -- no Hispanic men, no Hispanic women. Everyone running this institution are white men. And I said to one of them, I said, "I feel so sorry for these kids."

He said, "We treat them well."

I said, "I'm not -- I mean, I feel sorry for them, because you have taken them from their parents."

And he said, "Oh, because we treat them well."

I said, "You think crowding them in a jail in beds that are one foot apart in a gymnasium full of just girls and right across the hall, right across the hall are the same age boys." That is very dangerous. And this place needs to be shut down. Shut down.

CAMEROTA: That's what you're calling for?

WILSON: They're making profit, greed.

CAMEROTA: OK. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, thank you for sharing with us what you saw yesterday and your calls to shut it down. I know you're also calling for some of the agents to be fired who were involved in that Facebook group. So thank you very much.


CAMEROTA: Obviously, we will monitor what happens in the coming days now that this has been fully exposed.

WILSON: And we have to keep up with those girls, Alisyn. Keep up with these girls.

CAMEROTA: Please do, Congresswoman. Please let us know what you find. Thank you very much for coming on NEW DAY.

BERMAN: And I do want you to know we're waiting for a White House response on all of this this morning. We will bring it to you as soon as we get it.

Also this morning, the answer to one question could determine the fate of the world. The World Cup, that is. Will superstar Megan Rapinoe play? We'll give you the answer next.