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Trump to Back Down from Census Citizenship Question; Ocasio- Cortez Calls Pelosi's Singling Out of Democratic Women of Color Disrespectful; Trump's Long List of People He Feels Badly for; Buttigieg Unveils Racial Justice Plan in Bid for Black Voters; Body of U.S. Scientist Found in Former Nazi Bunker in Greece; Empty Vatican Tombs Add New Twist to Hunt for Teen's Remains. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: -- for go through Commerce and that could give him an opening to adding the question?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Well, this is an unusual turn of events but think, Brooke, of all we've been through in recent months, especially the last two weeks. Two weeks to today that the Supreme Court ruled that the reason that Secretary Ross gave for needing the citizenship question on the census was contrived. And at first it sounded like the administration was digging in and saying that it still wanted to ask the question on the census.

Now, the census is a very special document. It's what you know the government wants, a very high percentage of responses for that, because it's used to apportion seats for the House of Representatives. It's used to divide up political districts at the state level. It's used to allocate so many billions of dollars in government funds. So that's where the real issue was. Will this question be asked on that form? But the word we're getting today, is that they would use alternative methods, other administrative records.

You know, the Census Bureau already does ask about citizenship on a whole different kind of form, one that's not the Census Bureau, but I think again not knowing, but I think what the administration is talking about are -- is compiling citizenship status information from the Social Security Administration, the IRS, the State Department, immigration records, a whole source of other administrative documents that have nothing to do with getting a really high quality count on the U.S. Census.

BALDWIN: I think the way Jim Acosta put it, it was kind of like an offramp by going this way. Do you expect him to face any challenges going through the Commerce Department?

BISKUPIC: Well, doing it this way could bring up potentially other challenges. But not like what we have now, because when the government -- when people were complaining about this, when the states first brought the lawsuit and so many civil rights groups were worried about it, it had to do with the fact that it was going to be done on the census, and there could be people who were recent immigrants or Hispanics would be discouraged from answering. And as I said, it's so important to get an accurate count. And right now, we have several legal actions in lower courts in California, in New York, in Maryland that involve the census document itself.

BALDWIN: Ok, Joan Biskupic, thank you.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

BALDWIN: The freshmen versus the most powerful woman in Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez now trying to explain comments suggesting Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been targeting women of color in the House for criticism. So what's really happening there behind the scenes? We'll look into that.

And a stunning twist in the case of wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, his lawyers are now pitching a bail package worth $77 million. We have the details stay with me.


BALDWIN: After weeks of in fighting, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez is sharpening her criticism of the Speaker of the House, after Nancy Pelosi called these freshman Democrats for undermining her on immigration. Ocasio-Cortez tells "The Washington Post", quote: "...the persistent singling got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful...the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color."

Well, today Speaker Pelosi did not directly respond to those comments and instead urged unity within her party.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I said what I say in the caucus. They took offense because I addressed at the request of my members, an offensive tweet that came out of one of the member's offices, that referenced, our blue dogs and new Dems essentially as segregationists. Our members took offense at that, I addressed that. How they're interpreting and carrying it to another place is up to them. But I'm not going to be discussing it any further.


BALDWIN: CNN's senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is live on Capitol Hill, and I mean, AOC is saying specifically this is about race. How are lawmakers responding to that?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not well. Not many are siding with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Many Democrats firmly in the side of the Speaker including members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Lacy Clay, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus just told reporters that it's a quote, weak argument that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is making. Saying that she is quote, playing the race card.

Now, Karen Bass, who is the Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus told me moments ago, that it's not correct to say that Pelosi is simply singling out people because they're people of color. She says she wants to talk to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez further to understand where her criticism is coming from. But I did have a chance to talk to Ocasio-Cortez earlier today. And I asked her directly if she still stands by that criticism, and she seemed to suggest she did.


[15:40:00] REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D- NY): It's signaling out four individuals, and knowing the media environment we're operating in, knowing the amount of death threats that we get, knowing the amount of concentration of attention, I think it's just, it's just worth asking why.

RAJU: Do you think she has racial animus, is she racist?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: No, no. Absolutely not.


RAJU: So Brooke, some progressive Democrats including Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan who lead the Congressional Progressive Caucus are trying to set up a meeting with the Speaker next week to talk to her more about this back and forth that's been going on between the Speaker and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Even though it seems at the moment that Ocasio-Cortez is essentially alone in the way she's leveling this criticism.

And that's what Nancy Pelosi has been saying that it's just a handful of members who only have four votes, they don't have enough votes to dictate the whims of this caucus but at the moment they're getting a lot of attention. Particularly Ocasio-Cortez given her audience on twitter and given what she's saying about the Speaker. Going much further than the rest of her members -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Manu, thank you very much, thanks for the interview with the freshmen Congresswoman, coming up here, the President says that he feels badly for his Labor Secretary as he gets slammed for the deal that he made with a wealthy sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein. But it's not the first time the President has given his sympathy to associates embroiled in a scandal. We'll introduce you to the members of that very eclectic club next.


BALDWIN: New today, attorneys for Jeffrey Epstein are proposing a lavish bail package for the wealthy financier who is also a registered sex offender. They're offering $77 million to get him out of jail, 77 million. Epstein is accused of operating a sex trafficking ring of underaged girls. And prosecutors want him to remain behind bars of course pending trial. Court documents show the bail package would put Epstein in home detention that is large upper east side home with electronic monitoring by GPS.

Epstein's lawyers are proposing that he waive his rights against extradition, provide a substantial personal recognizance bond secured by his Manhattan home, which is the 77 million and deregister and ground his personal jet. The President this week declaring that he, quote, unquote, feels badly

for his own Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. Acosta is facing Democratic calls to resign over his role in brokering Epstein's 2008 plea deal on sex crime charges down in Florida. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel very badly actually for Secretary Acosta because I've known him as being someone that

works so hard and has done such a good job. I feel badly about that whole situation.


BALDWIN: Feel very badly. Does that sound kind of familiar? Maybe a sense of deja vu? The answer is yes, Trump's I feel badly line is one that he uses quite often when it comes to referring to his allies in crisis.


TRUMP: Well, I feel badly for General Flynn, I feel very badly.

I feel badly for some people, because they've gone back 12 years to find things about somebody. And I don't think it's right, I don't think it's right that they burst into a lawyer's office.

I feel very badly for Paul Manafort, I think it's been a very, very tough time for him.

To charge a house like they did at 6:00 in the morning, I think that was a very sad thing.

It was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he's also very sad --

It's very sad. Because he's a very good person. I've always found him to be a very, very good person.

I feel so badly for him, that he's growing through this, to be honest with you, I feel so badly for him.

I feel badly for Theresa, I like her very much. She's good woman --

I felt badly for her, because you look over the years, his party has virtually, he's like the forgotten President.


BALDWIN: And don't get us started on how the President feels about dictators around the world. Now to this. In an effort to boost his support among African American voters, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is unveiling a proposal to combat racial inequality in the future with a nod to the past. It's called the Douglass Plan, in honor of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. And here is just some of what's in it, an investment of $25 billion in the nation's historically black colleges and universities. And a $10 billion fund for black entrepreneurs over the course of five years. On the subject of criminal justice reform the plan would seek to reduce the number of U.S. prisoners by 50 percent, as well as abolish both the death penalty and mandatory minimum sentences. It would also eliminate prison time for federal convictions for drug possession. Something that would be retroactive.

And so earlier today, Buttigieg talked about why it's critical for him and other white candidates to address race head on.


[15:50:00] MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (audio): If you're a white candidate, it is twice as important for you to be talking about racial inequity, and not just describing the problem, which is fashionable in politics. But actually talking about what we're going to do about it and describing the outcomes we're trying to solve for.


[15:50:00] BALDWIN: Wesley Lowery is a national reporter for "The Washington Post" and a CNN contributor. So Wes, good to have you back. I ran through some of the bits of the proposal, it also includes biases in health care, homeownership, you think it's a good start? Not enough?

WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Certainly it's an extremely ambitious plan. And as the Mayor said, you know I think there is an importance and I think a lot of minority voters feel an importance. And folks not just talking about adopting the language of the problem, it is kind of the woke speak of the moment. Where everyone knows they're supposed to decry white supremacy and talk about privilege, but actually putting forth proposals to attempt to address those things.

I mean, this plan, like I said, is very ambitious in terms of the funding for health centers, in minority communities. In terms of HBCU funding. This new voting rights act, which would increase access to the ballot box, but that would also re-enfranchise a lot of voters who had previously lost their opportunity to vote because of incarceration. But beyond then beyond that, also, the criminal justice proposals in terms of undoing the Trump administration's steps to stop federal investigations of police departments, collecting, data which is something that folks at "The Washington Post" have tried to do the last few years.

Because the federal government doesn't do it. And as you noted, an attempt to decrease the incarcerated population by 50 percent. All of these things are very ambitious. They come as you note at a time when Pete Buttigieg is working very hard to gain traction in the black community.

BALDWIN: He's at zero, zero percent with black voters.

LOWERY: Zero percent.

BALDWIN: Zero percent. I mean he's got this ambitious plan. What does he need to do to sell it? How does he convert words on a page into support?

LOWERY: Of course. A big part of it is showing up and being there. Again Pete Buttigieg doesn't have the name recognition even among white people much less among black people yet and so he has to keep being in the conversation and putting out big, ambitious things like this as a way to gets to talk about him. And now viewers today are going to hear his name a few more times.

But beyond that, he's got to show an ability to build real relationships with black leaders as well as black voters themselves. I think that the conversations around his relationships in South Bend, how the police operated there, are things that have hurt him. But beyond that, black voters are pragmatists in many ways. They want to support somebody who is going to win. And so Pete Buttigieg's fund- raising numbers I think help that, these ambitious plans help that, but he's got to start charting a little more highly in the polls. Because once black voters see that white voters really take him seriously, they might be able to give him another look.

BALDWIN: Wes Lowery, good to see you, thank you very much.

LOWERY: Any time.

BALDWIN: A murder mystery on the Greek island of Crete. The body of an American scientist found inside a Nazi bunker from World War II. We'll take you inside the bunker, next.


BALDWIN: The body of an American scientist found in a former Nazi bunker is the center of this murder mystery. Investigators believe Suzanne Eaton went missing on July 2nd during her jog on the Greek island of Crete. Eaton was there for a work-related conference. Her body was found Monday inside a cave that Nazi soldiers turned into a bunker during World War II and police believe she was asphyxiated. CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon reports from outside that Nazi-fortified cave complex, where they found Eaton's body. Arwa?


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. We're just outside of the tunnel complex, where Suzanne's body was found. And just take a look. You can see the evidence that the forensics team were here. Now, this area is not that far from the main road, but it's not necessarily all that easy to get to. You really need to know what you're looking for. And according to the chief of police, it was two locals who were exploring this area, who were exploring this fortified cave tunnel system that was used by the Nazis.

There you have one of the entrances that leads into it. They were the ones that found Suzanne's body a few hundred feet inside and what the chief of police was telling us was that her body was found with some stab wounds, not lethal, and they determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation. They also said that her body appeared to have been dumped from one of the holes that is on top of the hill and then deep into this tunnel system.

There is now a massive homicide investigation underway. This entire island, Brooke, is in shock. This is known to be a very safe place. And then, of course, Suzanne's family reeling with grief, but putting out some really heartfelt memories, talking about her dedication to her profession, her biological career, but also her dedication to her family, saying that they're not going to allow the circumstances of her death to define the memory that they have of someone who they say touched not only them, but everyone around her, Brooke.


[16:00:00] BALDWIN: And Arwa just reading about her black belt in Tae Kwon Do, they say she's a fighter. They don't understand. Arwa Damon for us there in Greece.

Two empty Vatican graves exhumed today are adding a new twist to the decades-long search for a missing teenager or her remains. 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi went missing back in 1983. She was the daughter of a prominent Vatican employee. Her family received an anonymous letter recently suggesting they check out two specific tombs located in this tiny Vatican cemetery near Orlandi's mother's home.

The family was finally granted permission to proceed, and earlier today, the tombs of these two 19th century German princesses were pried open, nothing was found inside, no bones, no remains, the tombs were empty. An Italian journalist telling CNN he believes the Vatican finally agreed to exhume the graves because Vatican officials knew nothing was inside and that mystery continues.

A quick check of the big board today, and you can see, ten seconds away from the closing bell, it will close above 27,000 for the first time ever. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.