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MLB Pitcher Adam Plutko Remembers His Friend Tyler Skaggs; Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) is Interviewed About Trump's Fourth of July Celebration; President Trump to Hold Fourth of July Celebration with Fighter Jets, Tanks, and Speech; Images of Immigration Facilities May Affect Public Opinion on Immigration Policy. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2019 - 08:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: "Shameful," that's the cover of "The Daily News." "A Ticking Timebomb" is what the "Dallas Morning News Warns," and "Squalor Pervasive" screams the headline in "The New York Times." Meanwhile, the president is getting ready to throw a birthday party for America Trump style. His Fourth of July extravaganza will include fighter jets, tanks, and a rally. For the first time in nearly 30 years, there will be a military parade in Washington D.C. Critics accuse President Trump of using the military firepower as a political prop.

We have so much to talk about with Maggie Haberman. Let's bring her in. She's the White House correspondent for the "New York Times" and a CNN political analyst. Maggie, happy Fourth to you.


CAMEROTA: OK, so the president is finally getting what he wants. He's been enamored of this idea since he saw the big military parade in France. This is what, it has been pointed out, North Korea does, what Russia does. Do we have any reporting on how much this will cost the taxpayers?

HABERMAN: No. We have gotten some indications that $2.5 million, "The Washington Post" reported this first, confirmed this, in diverting park service fees to pay for this. But the reality is we don't know how much this is going to cost. We don't know how much it's going to cost in terms of tickets, in terms of other street closures, and there's going to be all sort of associated costs.

You noted this is the first time in 30 years. There have been other people who have used the military, there have been other presidents who have used the military, but none who have done it -- and it's important to note when President Trump is not the first person to ever do something. I think we tend to treat everything as if it's new with him. it's not. But it is the way in which he's going about it, it's the fact that he is a president who simultaneously praises authoritarians, has done all kinds of things to try to maintain good relations with people who use military might in a way that is not the way that democracies do. So I think that is where it becomes a problem for him, you are correct. He has been fantasizing about this for a very long time, even,

frankly, prior to that Bastille Day event. He wanted to do something like this at his inauguration. So for him, this is a dream come true.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Except for the fact the tanks won't be moving. They'll be parked. He would love it if they could actually be rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue.

CAMEROTA: But the city council shut that down, right, the Washington D.C. city council.

HABERMAN: The theatrics would have been more appealing to him. But as it is, there's going to be fighter jets overhead, and I think that he loves that visual. I was with him at that Bastille Day event, and it was like watching a kid with a new Lego set.

BERMAN: That's exactly what it was. That's the perfect image there. Another aspect that is controversial here the fact that the RNC and the Trump Campaign are being given these VIP tickets, so donors and political cronies or political acolytes will be able to get in there and get seats. And again, this is an issue only insofar as this is supposed to be an apolitical celebration of America. And it also matters very much if there are federal dollars being used if the president uses this speech in any kind of political way.

HABERMAN: The president, and I was thinking about this because I know we were going to talk about this, the question of will the president give a political speech. The president has one speech that he gives pretty much, and he gives it in almost every setting that he's at, whether it is at a rally or whether it is in front of the CIA world stars. This is what he does. So I assume you are going to hear if not something totally overtly political you will hear criticism of his critics. You will hear a celebration of self in terms of how he sees his accomplishments.

And I think that is where it becomes very complicated. That combined with the tickets to donors, these are the kinds of things that elected officials traditionally have tried to avoid appearances with, have tried to avoid any suggestion that they're doing something improper to reward people with what is, as you note, supposed to be an apolitical thing. We'll see what he says, but I suspect it's going to be a variation of what we've heard before.

CAMEROTA: So while all this extravaganza is happening in Washington, D.C., what is happening on the southern border many people feel is a stain on America's reputation. And that is we see these new pictures, they've just been released by a government inspector general, in other words a watchdog agency. Last month they made it into these detention centers and they are able to bring us pictures because our cameras are not allowed inside here.

They are trying to sound the alarm of what's going on where people have not been allowed to shower for the better part of a month, maybe more. And as you know, the president says this is Congress' fault because there are these loopholes in the asylum system that allow you to seek asylum, or attempt to seek asylum for things that are not spelled in the asylum code. But there's nowhere in the law that says that you can't let shower or that babies need to be kept in dirty diapers and have lice.

And so the question is, when you see these pictures, are these being countenanced at the highest level of government somehow? Is the fact that all of this is happening -- why is all of this happening? Why aren't Border Patrol agents aren't able to help people shower? Are they really overrun, or is somehow this the point because we know that the government, that the Trump administration likes deterrence?

[08:05:03] HABERMAN: I do think that the Trump administration likes deterrence. I do think we should note, again, this tends to devolve into some question of who is to blame. Did Obama do bad things in relation to immigration, too, quote-unquote, as opposed to looking what the issue is and trying to fix it?

Look, I can't speak to what's in President Trump's heart, right, so I don't know whether he looks at these images and thinks this is a good thing, this will keep people from wanting to come or trying to use the asylum system as a way to come. There is clearly a crisis at the border and clearly these images exist in part because there's a high influx of people and they need to be put somewhere. But no, is it said that people can't show, that you have to make people shower? No, there's clearly a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. And then the question becomes how.

BERMAN: When the issue becomes how they are treated once they're here, that's different. That's different than how they got here or what the United States is doing to keep them from coming in here.

HABERMAN: Correct. And suggesting that shouldn't be part of the conversation, that the real conversation is about whether they're here in the first place is generally not how the U.S. has sought to deal with this.

BERMAN: You can see some changes in the polling over time. First of all, on the issue on whether or not it's a crisis at the border, 74 percent now say yes. That's much higher than in January. But it's the type of crisis that's changed, because now a lot of Democrats say it's a crisis, a humanitarian crisis, and if you ask them your view of the government treatment of migrants seeking asylum, 62 percent disapprove. That's a different number than this than how is Trump handling it. But if ask if you approve of how the U.S. government is treating those seeking asylum, 62 percent disapprove, which gives the sense that Americans are looking at these pictures at recoiling.

HABERMAN: Yes. I think there's no question about that. One of the things that came up just from the political context, because this is where it gets into as we get into an election year, one of the things that came up in the Democrats debate last week was Democrats talking about decriminalizing border crossings. And a lot of Republicans and a lot of people close the president were thrilled by this, thought this is going to be a real problem for Democrats heading into next year. And it may very well. But those images are also a huge problem for the president. And at a certain point it's going to tip in one direction or the other. The president I think is going to have to contend with this at some point. I just don't know when that point is.

CAMEROTA: Connected to all this was the issue over whether there would be a citizenship question on the Census. So a judge has shot that down. There will not be a citizenship question on the Census and the Census is being printed. So for the 2020 Census, people who didn't like that idea have won. But President Trump, correct us if we're wrong, but he wanted to raise the issue. Does he see this as a loss? In other words, has this been a loss for him, or did he raise the issue, sort of drum up the base to think about it and be angry about it, and then it doesn't really matter what's on the Census?

HABERMAN: I don't know that I would go that far, that it doesn't really matter. But I think certainly he's willing to cut his political losses. You saw him tweeting about this last night as if there hadn't been this defeat. We're going to keep working at this, because, as you note, that's the message he's sending his voters, we're really trying and these activist judges are keeping us from doing this. And that's been a message that we've heard repeatedly. I suspect we're going to hear again.

There is a sense from people that I have spoken to within the administration that this was still problematically handled by the Commerce Department that they just didn't want to continue going ahead with this, that they was no point, they clearly have gotten smacked down. But you are correct, this relates to larger immigration policy, a lot of larger issues tie together for him. And I think that he feels that he's gotten what he can out of it.

BERMAN: So he bailed because he figured there was no way to win on --

HABERMAN: Or they figured, and then he was told that by his --

BERMAN: Is Wilbur Ross a goner?

HABERMAN: We've been saying Wilbur Ross is a goner for a year, and I'm not sure that this is going to be finally the lever that tips it. It's the president despite having clear disdain for Wilbur Ross in many, many meetings according to many, many officials has kept him around for quite some time. I don't know that this is going to be what ends him.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, where has Mike Pence gone? What happened where Mike Pence was a no-show at this event in New Hampshire, right, and there was no explanation.

HABERMAN: My understanding from a bunch of people is that it had something to do with some kind of issue with the venue, some kind of security issue that got flagged. And I don't know the details of it. Marc Short, the vice president's chief of staff, told reporters that we would know in a few weeks from now or something to that effect.

It was unusual because Pence is normally the person who is seen as the force of stability in this administration, and so to have him show up on a plane and get on a plane and then deplane and not go and not hear what happened, it prompted all kinds of conspiracy theories. There's a national security emergency, or health issues, or there was one question which was going around for a while, is the president really going to go ahead with what "The Wall Street Journal" suggested and change him off to the ticket right now? I don't think it was any of those things, but I think it is another one of those issues where because of how it was handled it was made into a far bigger problem.

[08:10:03] BERMAN: Is the president in a bind with the U.S. team in the World Cup Finals now that he's got this public feud with Megan Rapinoe. He hasn't tweeted, he hasn't tweeted congratulating them, wishing them luck heading into the finals. How do you see this?

HABERMAN: I think he's going to continue to ignore her the way he has shown very adept at ignoring all manner of things. But maybe I'll be wrong. This is not a good fight for him to tonight. I understand in general he sees these arguments over sports teams as a winner for him. I think that most people did not see the criticism aimed at him as somehow aimed at America. And I think it's going to be harder for him to make that case. I think he tried at one point, saying people shouldn't disrespect this country or this White House, and I don't think that resonates.

CAMEROTA: Also sometimes when American teams win hugely, as he would say, American presidents like that.

HABERMAN: This is a president who, despite what he says, which is not true, about how he faired with women voters in 2016, has a problem with women voters. I think there are enough people around him telling him this is not a winner to contend with.

HABERMAN: Maggie Haberman, have a wonderful holiday. Great to see you. Thanks so much for being here.

A quick programming note for you. This Friday we have a CNN exclusive. Former Vice President Joe Biden is going to sit down with Chris Cuomo. How does the 2020 Democratic frontrunner plan to stay ahead of the pack? And I'm sure Chris will ask lots of other questions as well. This interview airs Friday morning on now day at 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. eastern. Set your alarm.

BERMAN: Again, the former vice president hasn't done this type of interview, which makes this crucial.

All right, the Los Angeles Angels remember teammate Tyler Skaggs as they took the field for the first time after his death. A friend of Skaggs who's also a Major League pitcher joins us next.


[08:15:52] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Los Angeles Angels return to the field a day after pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room. Teammates held up his jersey before a moment of silence before the game last night. The home team, this game played in Texas, the Rangers stenciled his number onto the back of the mound.

The cause of Skaggs' death remains unknown. Police say there were no signs of foul play and it did not appear to be a suicide.

This is the Angels manager Brad Ausmus talking about how his players are dealing with the loss.


BRAD AUSMUS, LOS ANGELES ANGELS MANAGER: Most importantly, in the end, we were able to talk about Tyler and laugh about some of the stories and some of the goofy things he did, listen to some of his music. So it was good.


BERMAN: Just devastating.

Joining me now is one of Skaggs friends, Cleveland Indians pitcher, Adam Plutko.

Adam, thanks so much for being with us. We're so sorry for your loss and the loss of your friend.

Just tell us how you reacted when you first heard the news.

ADAM PLUTKO, PITCHER, CLEVELAND INDIANS: It was an off day here for us in Kansas City. We were out playing golf. I was having a pretty good day, really.

We were on the green and I think we played like 27 holes that day, so maybe 22 holes in at this point, and one of the guys in the group said that an Angels pitcher died and I have two friends on that team, so I kind of ran back to my phone immediately and saw it was Ty. Just kind of crouched down. I didn't really know what to do.

BERMAN: It's hard to believe, right? It's hard to believe when any 27-year-old who appears to be in perfect health passes away like that.

Tyler has been a friend of yours for sometime. You didn't play on the same team, you're competitors. But you trained together. You sort of grew up together in competitive baseball. Tell me about your friendship.

PLUTKO: Yes, I mean, listen to everybody kind of talk about Ty and a lot of the memories of him, goofy is what Brad Ausmus used to describe him, and it couldn't be more accurate. I mean, he's goofy in the best way, he'll make you laugh. He always called himself the sparkplug in the room, kind of get everybody going, his energy going. Couldn't be more accurate about Tyler.

BERMAN: How hard was it for you get back on the field last night for your first game after getting this news?

PLUTKO: Yes, I was -- again, the easiest part of your day is kind of playing baseball is what you know. It's your job, so going through the motions of getting ready, working out all of that stuff, that's kind of the easy part. And right before the game, we had a moment of silence, too, and there's a time to kind of be alone in your thoughts and that's always the hardest part.

So, after we kind of got through that, then baseball as usual. But there was a few times that it was pretty tough yesterday.

BERMAN: We've seen the images from watching the Angels last night. Maybe it was best they played. How hard do you think it was for the Angels players to be out there last night?

PLUTKO: I can't imagine. Like I said I had two friends on that Angels team, so I was in contact with the other two days ago and just kind of talked to them and I can't imagine what that team is going through specifically just to try and win baseball games and be competitive out there. I feel that would be the last thing on my mind but they went out and won last night, and they played a heck of a ballgame last night.

BERMAN: Yes, they did win last night, but I'm with you. That could not have been the first things on their minds during the game.


BERMAN: Do you have any questions -- have you had any answers yet is? Has anyone given you any information about what happened to Tyler?

[08:20:02] PLUTKO: No, I mean, like I said I've talked to people. We share an agent. They went out to Texas just to help out any way he can with his family and whatnot. And there's a lot of questions being asked by a lot of people and there's just nothing. It's just sad.

I mean, Southern California baseball players are all pretty tight. We all kind of know one another. It's a small community baseball in general and you put it in a very small area of the country in there. So, talked to a lot of guys that are known him and everybody's just kind of saying the same thing. It's really sad and upsetting.

BERMAN: No health issues that you know about?

PLUTKO: No, none that I'm aware of.

BERMAN: I mean, he had Tommy John surgery but that doesn't explain anything. Any mental health, any substance issues, anything?

PLUTKO: Nothing that I can speak to. This is just my friend Tyler. You know, I don't know anything beyond that.

He was a good guy. He was like I said the energy in the room. So, I don't know, it's just this is my buddy and my friend and I want to make sure that I tell everybody how great of a guy.

BERMAN: And he is lucky to have you as a friend because you are serving him well, talking about him being a light in the room and goofy, we're so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is for you, for the entire baseball community. But you're pushing forward and I appreciate you being with us this morning.

PLUTKO: Yes, thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Yes. Adam Plutko, thank you very much. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I know no answer will ever bring him

back, to the loss of his family and friends like that, but we do want to know what happened. It is important to know. Somebody that healthy and beloved drops dead, you do need to know what happened.

So we just hope the autopsy results can be provided and that the family feels comfortable somehow making them public.

BERMAN: Two things we have been told so far by authorities are they don't suspect foul play and they don't believe signs point to suicide. That's it. That's all we know.

CAMEROTA: All right. Well, the Trump White House calls tomorrow's Fourth of July military parade patriotic. One D.C. lawmaker has a different word, authoritarian. He's next.



[08:26:25] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. It'll be like no other, it'll be special. And I hope a lot of people come. And it's going to be about this country and it's a salute to America.

And I'm going to be here and I'm going to say a few words and we're going to have planes going overhead, the best fighter jets in the world and other planes, too. And we're going to have some tanks stationed outside.


BERMAN: Happening now, preparations are under way this morning for the president's salute to America Fourth of July event. "The Washington Post" reports this morning that the National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million to help foot the bill.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Don Beyer from Virginia.

And, Congressman, in response to that "The Washington Post" report of $2.5 million being diverted to help pay this National Park Service, you write this is insanely corrupt even for Trump. Why?

REP. DON BEYER (D-VA): You know, it's just such a sad thing. I grew up here in Washington, I've been to the salute on the Mall many, many times and it's always been nonpartisan.

This must be the most insecure man I've ever seen because everything has got to be about him. And he's bringing in the military. Again, we've never seen something like that. It reminds me of some small autocratic country.

And there's all kind of actual infrastructure worries. We've seen "The Post" today $2.5 million set aside. I know they're worried about putting tanks above the cavernous rooms below the Lincoln Memorial. All the D.C. city council worry about the tanks on our city streets.

And then the untold amount of money that's going to cost to fly those jets and helicopters overhead. You know, this stuff is way different than anything we've had before.

BERMAN: Yes, it is different.

Certainly, Nixon had a military parade, but he didn't speak at it. There are a couple of issues here. You bring up the cost and you bring up the partisanship. Let's put those apart for a second.

What makes it inherently partisan in your mind?

BEYER: Well, even Nixon, 1970 was the last time he was engaged in this, and he sent a video from the West coast, from California. It's never been Democratic versus Republican, but putting Donald Trump in the middle of it with a speech, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial inevitably makes it about make America great again.

Even the whole notion that the RNC, the Republican National Committee is giving out tickets to have select seating in the front, that's never been done before.

BERMAN: I know this is hypothetical, and perhaps hypothetical is difficult to imagine given his history, but what he if gives a completely nonpartisan speech?

BEYER: That will be a good thing, and I celebrate that. You know, we want it to be about America and celebrating our past. I like my hometown of Falls Church where everyone gathers to read the Declaration of Independence. That seems a more fitting way to go.

BERMAN: Now, you've also suggested if the president wants to do this, he should pay for it himself. Are you being serious?

BEYER: I am being serious. He still owes the city $53 million from the inauguration.

Well, I'm just trying to make the point if going to tear up our city streets, Arlington Memorial Bridge, which is already at risk, buses are allowed to drive on it. We've got to make sure we're not making a huge national infrastructure problem worse by this essentially vainglorious display of his own political need for celebrity.

BERMAN: If he does speak in political terms, is that violating the law? You're not supposed to use federal dollars for political events like this. So what then happens?

BEYER: I'm not a lawyer but there's certainly been a number of people writing in the last couple of days about potential violations of the.