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Judge Slammed For Leniency To Rape Suspect From "Good Family"; NYPD Beefs Up Security For Fireworks Show Tonight; President Trump Claims Border Facilities Better Than Where Migrants Came From. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 4, 2019 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:53] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A heartrending farewell to Luis Alvarez, the retired NYPD detective who spent the final years of his life fighting for 9/11 first responders.

Hundreds of fellow New York City officers turned out for his funeral yesterday. Alvarez died Saturday after a 3-year battle with cancer linked to the terror attacks, at the age of 53.

Among those attending, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, comedian Jon Stewart, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Alvarez spent three months digging through the rubble after the 9/11 attacks. His grieving son told mourners, "Before he became a hero across the country, he was always mine."

Wow, just the images and hearing the bagpipes, it's all so stirring and emotional.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: It is, and our prayers to the Alvarez family

A New Jersey judge, meanwhile, is under after showing leniency to a 16-year-old rape suspect who the judge says comes from a good family and would probably go to a very good school.

Now, the judge denied a request to try the boy as an adult and an appellate court just reversed that decision, warning the judge against siding with privileged teenagers.

And joining us not talk about it, CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson. Joey, what's the story here? This feels like affluenza all over again.


So there are two problems here, John and Alisyn, the first of which is a legal issue; the second, which is really a moral and social issue.

Let's get to the legal issue first. This was a simple waiver application. What does that mean in English? It means that if you're a juvenile and you commit an offense, which would be a felony as an adult -- a serious offense --


JACKSON: -- a year or more. Pretty serious, would you not say?


JACKSON: Then it could be tried in adult court provided the prosecutor go to the judge and make an application. Talk to the judge not about whether they can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but whether or not this, again, as an adult should be tried in adult court.

The judge went left and not only evaluated -- really, didn't evaluate the merits of that, but really went off into an issue about wait a second -- you know what? Did you speak to the victim's family and did you express to them what could happen to this child in the event that this matter goes to adult court?

[07:35:00] CAMEROTA: Now, hold on a second.

JACKSON: Problem number one.

CAMEROTA: Just one second. He wanted -- the judge -- because I don't think we're getting to the heart of the matter of shocking this is. The judge told the victim to be careful here because the victim might ruin the suspect's life.

JACKSON: Correct, and that's the essence of what I'm saying. So, you're re-victimizing the victim, Alisyn, by saying wait a second -- before we move forward, do you know what you can do in the event that you press forward in this case? That's number one.

Number two, you're talking about whether or not someone comes from a good family? So what does that say, getting out to the social issue, about those people --


JACKSON: -- who don't come from good families, whatever that means, and those people who are not privileged?

And so, think about this, and this is the biggest thing for me. We're here talking about this case. We're talking about a judge who is very abusive in using his discretion. A judge who decided to disregard the law and evaluate privilege before all else.

If a judge can be so explicit in the bias that they're expressing, how about the implicit bias that goes on in courtrooms every day, every year, and that don't get the press coverage of this? This is a travesty of justice.

But I'll say this, the system worked. Why? Because an appellate court really called him out and said that's not how we do things. This is going to adult court, as it should have the first time.

CAMEROTA: But a couple of more things.

So, this judge doesn't think that anyone from a good family who might go to a very good school ever rapes anyone?

JACKSON: Apparently.

CAMEROTA: I mean, hasn't our history taught us otherwise?

JACKSON: I think our history has taught us plenty.

And the fact is -- look, you know, there's a gross distinction and a big distinction, I get, between juvenile court and adult court. Perhaps a judge can be empathetic and sympathetic to those facts.

But when you have an issue here -- when a simple issue before the court is whether or not it should get to that court, I don't think you should be throwing in factors to protect someone because of their background, because of who their parents are --

CAMEROTA: Of course.

JACKSON: -- because of who their families are, and otherwise, degrade and debase people who don't come from those families while you're re- victimizing a victim here who was clearly abused.

It was taped and the prosecutor showed it was degrading, it was premeditated, and it was predatory.

AVLON: And let's dig into that because that goes to the heart of the argument for why this young should be tried as an adult -- should have been back then and which he is now going to be done.

This was something that he videotaped at the time.


AVLON: He passed it around social media and joked about raping this young woman --


AVLON: -- in his own words -- and then lied about it.

Is that -- you know, that, to me, makes it pretty clear that this is not a juvenile case. Is that the argument that was ultimately persuasive when the new judges stepped in to review the first judge?

JACKSON: I think that was one argument John that really carried the day inasmuch as in accordance with what you said, he's passing around this videotape and lying about it as well, in terms of being confronted and saying I'm not sending anything around -- what are you talking about? And then saying when your first act of sexual intercourse -- I'm paraphrasing -- is rape.

And so I think it weighed heavily upon the court that you had a person who was young who clearly did not get the gravity -- or if he got the gravity, he wasn't expressing it properly.


JACKSON: And I think at the end of the day, it's about justice and it's about justice for all.

ALVON: Fair.

JACKSON: When you have a system that varies like this, what does it do? If you don't have trust in the system, if people can't connect with the system and think it works for them, then you know what -- the system doesn't work at all.

And the fact that this would go on in the courtroom and be so explicitly expressed, it's so problematic for me and so problematic.

CAMEROTA: I agree.

How long has this judge been on the bench? Do we know how old this judge is?

JACKSON: We do. The judge is 70 years old.

And the judge, apparently, Alisyn -- what they do -- sometimes judges leave and they call you back to evaluate cases. That's the type of judge this was. He was gone and he called them back to evaluate.

And this was a multi-day hearing --


JACKSON: -- and at that multi-day hearing he expressed some views that I think are pretty troubling and pretty problematic.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But, I mean, this judge, he's 70 years old but he -- for the past few years he must have been living under a rock to not know that you can't size up who a rapist is based on how they present themselves in court and whether they're from a good family who might go to a very good college. It's so -- it's truly an anachronism from like a different decade.

JACKSON: Without question. And, again, what does it say to those people who -- and he also talked about the grades -- who may not have the best of grades?


JACKSON: He -- the judge also evaluated --

CAMEROTA: What does that have to do with sexual assault, you know?

JACKSON: -- the extracurricular activities.

It has nothing to do with it and that's why we're talking about it.

AVLON: He made explicit the implicit bias that a lot of folks -- CAMEROTA: Yes.

AVLON: -- see in the system.

JACKSON: Exactly right.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Joey.

AVLON: Thank you.

JACKSON: Of course.

CAMEROTA: Happy Fourth of July.

AVLON: Appreciate it.

JACKSON: And to you.

AVLON: Happy Fourth.

JACKSON: Thank you.

AVLON: All right.

Speaking of, the big fireworks display here in New York City just hours away. Love me some fireworks. A live look at the preparations for the spectacular, coming up next.


[07:43:43] AVLON: America turns 243 today -- that's a lot of candles -- and one of the biggest birthday parties right here in New York City where millions of people are expected to watch the fireworks lighting up the night sky tonight.

CNN's Brynn Gingras live near the Brooklyn Bridge where some of the best views will be. It's incredible. Brynn, tell us what's ahead.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Oh, yes, John, it's going to be incredible.

As you said, there are just going to be enormous crowds here in Lower Manhattan and also on the Brooklyn side to get a view of the Brooklyn Bridge and this area of New York City because it's going to be a spectacular show.

We're going to zoom in on the Brooklyn Bridge right now because we want to show you at the bottom of that bridge are these white packets, if you can see that. There's 15 of them, I counted. Those are fireworks.

For the first time in five years, fireworks are going to be launched from the Brooklyn Bridge. It is going to be pretty incredible to see.

But you've got to imagine this takes incredible security and that's what we've been talking to the NYPD about. They are going to have thousands of police officers around the city -- not just on the ground here where there will be spectators.

But also, we were with them yesterday -- the special operations teams in the air, on the water, the harbor units -- and they have been planning for this event for months and then actually getting on the ground and doing some of their security details just about a week ago. And that includes securing the bridge and all those fireworks and securing the barges -- those Macy barges that are also going to be in the water for the fireworks off Staten Island, at this point.

[07:45:07] But take a listen to the special ops chief talking about how the harbor units -- when the fireworks go off, their jobs isn't done. Take a listen.


HARRY WEDIN, CHIEF OF SPECIAL OPERATIONS, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: There's issues when the fireworks are over. Every boat is leaving en masse to go back to where they came from throwing wakes, so there's issues. There's concerns about boats being capsized -- people going overboard. It tends to get very busy when the fireworks are done.


GINGRAS: Yes, when you have such a crowd that's probably something you don't really think about is that fact that there are going to be so many boats in the water, as well, getting a good look at this spectacular show.

One other thing Alisyn to point out, that the NYPD is using this year are drones. They're going to be having drones up in the air being able to watch spectators. Be able to see if there are any security measures they need to tie in as this show goes on into the evening -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Brynn, the amount of brainpower they put into thinking about this and manpower they put on the ground --


CAMEROTA: -- is really remarkable. Thank you very much.

So, will storms put a damper on fireworks wherever you are? CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam has our forecast. What are you seeing today?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alisyn, it's hot, it's summer, and anyone who lives along the mid-Atlantic all the way to the southeast knows that thunderstorms form this time of year. It's just exactly when and where they'll start to pop up.

If you're in D.C. today for the parade, I think we'll get off without a problem. By this afternoon and evening, for the salute to America festivities, that could be a different story. We have a few thunderstorms that will pop up across the region.

Notice New York, though. We'll stay dry. Your forecast looking fantastic for the fireworks off the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now, for D.C., a 40 to 50 percent chance of precipitation. For the rest of the country, more of the same for the East Coast. Stronger storms expected later this afternoon and evening across the Northern Great Lakes as well as the Central Plains. So keep an eye to the sky for that to impact some of your local fireworks displays.

Temperatures -- the other big story -- soaring to the upper 80s. You factor in the humidity levels and we're talking triple-digit heat along the Deep South. Over on the East Coast, temperatures will feel like the upper 90s for the nation's capital.

So, you'll be breaking out in a sweat as you break out the barbecues this afternoon.

Back to you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, Derek.

AVLON: As it's supposed to be.

All right. A watchdog report quoting one border patrol official calling overcrowded detention facilities a "ticking time bomb." Is the Trump administration doing enough to address concerns about conditions? We've got the former acting director of ICE joining us next.


[07:51:33] CAMEROTA: President Trump says the conditions for migrants in detention centers is not so bad.

And of all of those images that are now getting out of the inhumane conditions and extreme overcrowding at the border shelters, the president says, quote, "No matter how good things actually look, even if perfect, the Democrat visitors will act shocked and aghast at how terrible things are."

Joining us now to talk about what's happening there is John Sandweg. He's a former acting director of ICE under President Obama. He is now a partner at Frontier Solutions, an immigration law firm.

Mr. Sandweg, so the first argument that the president makes there is don't believe your own eyes. Don't believe your own eyes. The Democrats are acting aghast but things are actually good. I think that that's one of the arguments he's making.

The second argument, he also tweeted this. "Many of these illegal aliens are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions."

I'm not sure how you compare living under the thumb of the drug cartel to living in these overcrowded conditions without showering for weeks. They both sound horrible.

So, what do you see when you see all of these images released? JOHN SANDWEG, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, ICE (IMMIGRANT AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT), FORMER ACTING GENERAL COUNSEL, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, PARTNER, FRONTIER SOLUTIONS: Well, Alisyn, first of all, it's not just the Democrats who are pointing out these conditions. It's obviously the department's inspector general's office who published a report, I think validating a lot of the observations that lawyers have made before, the Democrat congressional delegation -- the congressional delegation made.

So -- and, you know, look, none of this is terribly surprising to me, quite frankly, when you're looking at the number of individuals involved and this administration's approach, which is to try to build deterrence through detention.

The facilities just simply were not built for this population nor were they built to handle this many individuals for this long. It's just a -- it's just a natural consequence in trying to detain this many people in vulnerable populations in these facilities.


SANDWEG: So, look, as a -- yes, go ahead.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I want to ask you about that because I think that that's the argument that the administration is making -- that they're being overrun and that Customs and Border Protection can't handle it.

And because you know the infrastructure and you know the system so well, do we, the United States, have the infrastructure and ability to allow migrants to take showers more than once a month and allow children to not have to live in dirty diapers?

Do -- I mean, this is a real question. Are we able to do those things for the migrants?

SANDWEG: Yes, yes. Yes, Alisyn, we are, in part. I have to tell you though, the problem is this, that we are applying basically the same approach that we've applied to our border security situation prior to this influx of Central Americans.

And if we use the tools that we have and the policies and procedures that we utilize for the prior border security situation -- which was largely adult males trying to enter the United States and escape -- you know, evade capture -- the answer to your question is no, we do not have the resources. We simply cannot detain this type of population. We don't have the facilities to do it, to do it humanely and safely.

Candidly, it's why I think we should have been looking a long time ago at treating this as a humanitarian refugee crisis rather than a security crisis. But when you apply these security tools, this is the necessary outcome because we simply aren't equipped and border patrol is not properly resourced to do this in a humane and safe way.

CAMEROTA: Here's another thing that the president tweets and I think it's really telling. I mean, this is what his mindset is and he's been quite candid about it.

Here is what he tweets. "If illegal immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly-built or refitted detention centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!"

[07:55:02] Do you find it interesting that the president has gone after the migrants who are fleeing poverty and fleeing violence, as we know, rather than other people that he could go after? For instance, the employers that give the incentive for migrants to come here and find work.

SANDWEG: Yes or frankly, the drug cartels and the gangs in Central America that are pushing these people north in the first place.

Look, the president's been very clear throughout he wants to take this kind of tough deterrence-based approach. I think he's finding out what he's -- and look -- and I understand there's frustration with people in this country who look at the situation and say why should we be the ones who have to take all these people on.

But if you look at the reality of the situation, as conditions are so dire in Central America that really, nothing we can do -- and this has been demonstrated by the numbers that have been consistent and rising over the last four years -- nothing we can do can be -- deter this population from coming north. Things are so desperate -- they're so desperate they will try anything.

It's long since past time that we need to look at this and start -- stop cutting off aid to Central America. Just do what we can to restore conditions there to build some stability. You know, do a better job here processing these individuals for their asylum claims quickly rather than detaining them in facilities that are wildly inappropriate for this population.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Sandweg, I also want to ask you about this private Facebook group of something like 9,500 border agents that has been exposed by "Propublica" with just the most vile, disgusting comments and posts about migrants and about female members of Congress.

And I'm just wondering from your experience, is that a sentiment? Are those sentiments that are rampant in the immigration community?

SANDWEG: You know, I was very sorry to see that.

Listen, I spent a lot of time in my career with border patrol and right at the border with ICE agents. I will tell you this. The vast majority of them care.

I think they've been dealt a very difficult situation. I think that incidents like this and a handful of bad apples give the entire agency a black eye here. I really think that does not reflect the sentiment of the majority of the border patrol agents or the majority of the ICE agents.

I think -- I think one of the things -- one of the lasting damages of this administration's policies -- things like family separation and this mass detention of asylum seekers -- is going to the reputational damage it's done to ICE and CBP. And that's going to take years, if ever, to fully recover from.

CAMEROTA: Former ICE director John Sandweg, thank you very much for coming in with all of your expertise on this.

SANDWEG: Yes, thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Max Foster is next.

For our U.S. viewers, President Trump fighting to add that citizenship question back to the census after dropping the effort yesterday.

NEW DAY continues right now.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: This tweet comes out of left field and the Commerce Department and the Justice Department agreed that they were throwing in the towel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is obviously embarrassed by the fact that he couldn't get his way.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: He is determined to find a way ahead even though the census questionnaires are being printed without this question.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Busing is a tool among many that should be considered.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Does the issue of busing matter to the voters in states like the Midwest that Democrats need to win back?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They started engaging in a very public forum last week and obviously haven't reached a resolution on it.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thirty seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights.


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

CAMEROTA: And, good morning, everyone. Welcome to a special holiday edition of NEW DAY. Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Happy Fourth, John.

AVLON: Happy Fourth.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you here in your red, white, and blue tie. AVLON: I represent.

CAMEROTA: Totally.

AVLON: Love it.

CAMEROTA: OK. It's 8:00 in the East. John Berman is off; John Avlon joins me.

We begin with census confusion. The Justice Department is scrambling to find a legal basis to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census because of a presidential tweet.

President Trump caught government lawyers off guard and sent them scrambling to figure out next steps because the president tweeted moments ago, quote, "So important for our country that the very simple and basic 'Are you a citizen of the United States' question be allowed to be asked in the 2020 census. Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice are working very hard on this and they don't think" -- oh, sorry -- this is still the tweet -- "even on the 4th of July!" End quote.

Now, you will remember that last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the administration's reason for adding that controversial question that lawyers say is actually not very simple.

AVLON: Also new this morning, another setback for the Trump administration. A federal appeals court has blocked President Trump's plan to shift $2.5 billion from the military's budget to pay for his proposed border wall.

All of this as the president prepares for his Fourth of July event, defending the cost of displaying the nation's military muscle.

Now, CNN learning that military chiefs are concerned about the president politicizing tonight's celebration.

Joining us now, the great Maggie Haberman. How are you?

CAMEROTA: Happy Fourth.

HABERMAN: Well -- happy Fourth.

AVLON: Maggie, look, the administration's own lawyers seem to have whiplash about the president's.