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Trump Digs In On Attacks Amid Uproar Over Racist Tweet; White House Says Immigration Raids Are Underway; Judge Says He Will Likely Decide Epstein Bail Issue On Thursday; American Airlines 737 Max Flights Cancelled Through November 3. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 15, 2019 - 10:00   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto here in Washington.

Right now on Capitol Hill, a deafening silence from republican lawmakers as outrage grows over racist -- it has been 24 hours since President Trump attacked four minority congresswomen saying they should go back to what the President calls the totally broken and crime-infested places they came from. Of course, three of them were born here in the USA.

HARLOW: This morning, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pushing back. She calls the President's words hallmark language of white supremacists. And if you are waking up this Monday morning and you feel like, haven't we been here before, yes, we have. The President has a long history of using racially charged language, from questioning President Obama's birthplace to calling Mexican immigrants racist and on and on.

Boris Sanchez at the White House with more. Charlottesville, need I continue? How is the White House, how are those closest to the President framing the comments this morning, because he's not walking away from them. He's doubling, tripling down on them.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Poppy. The President is digging in on this. At least one White House official has denied that President Trump is a racist, even though, as you pointed out, he frequently traffics in the language of white nationalists, trying to court support from people who are uncomfortable with immigration, perhaps uncomfortable with demographic changes and people of color.

Now, the President feels comfortable doing this in large part because he hasn't felt the consequences of making these kinds of remarks. Republicans who have been critical of this president in the past have largely remained silent on this. The Vice President's Chief of Staff, Mark Short, spoke out this morning saying that he believes the President is not a racist. Listen.


MARK SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I don't think that the President's intent anyway is racist. I think he's trying to point out the fact, since elected, it's hard to find anything ill on him or is said that actually his support of the United States of America.


BORIS: Short also pointed to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao as evidence of President Trump's inclusiveness. Let's point out the obvious. There are plenty of people in Congress who strongly disagree with this president in his vision of the United States and speaks so just as forcefully as these four progressive congresswomen, people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But the President is not telling them to go back to their countries. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: That's right. Boris Sanchez, thank you very much for the reporting.

SCIUTTO: Joining me now is CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She's live on Capitol Hill. So the silence from GOP lawmakers, one congressman, Chip Roy, the one to make something of a critical comment via Twitter, he since re-Tweeted one of the President's own comments seemingly supporting him. I imagine you're speaking to people on Capitol Hill. Are any republican lawmakers saying in private that they criticize the President?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, it's very interesting. We've been combing the halls and the Twitter accounts of many members of Congress, and, of course, the democrats are coming to the aid of these four congresswomen who are under fire, very little from republicans who are actually speaking. We might have a better opportunity in the House when they convene at 2:00 and the Senate when it convenes at 3:00.

What we have heard, however, from some republicans and really just a few, Senator Lindsey Graham, the friend of the President on Fox, talking about and urging the President to aim higher, he says, while at the same time not personally attacking these congresswomen. He begins this interview doing just that. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- those Tweets were negative, do you think?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think there are American citizens who are duly elected that running on an agenda that is disgusting that the American people will reject. Talk about what it means for America to have free healthcare for illegal immigrants and no criminalization of coming into the country. See how that works for controlling immigration. Their ideas, they're anti-Semitic, they talk about the Israeli State if they're a bunch of thugs, not victims of the entire region. They wanted to impeach Trump on day one. They're socialists. They're anti-Semitic. They stand for all the things that most Americans disagree with, make them the face of the future of the Democratic Party. You will destroy the Democratic Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, it sounds like you're saying the President went too far with these --

GRAHAM: I just don't think -- you'd aim higher. You don't need to -- they are American citizens. They won an election. Take on their policies. The bottom line here is this is a diverse country.



MALVEAUX: And also Representative Chip Roy taking a similar tact as well in a Tweet putting out this, saying that the President of the United States was wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not has any home besides the U.S. But I just as strongly believe non-citizens who abuse our immigration laws should be sent home immediately and representatives who refuse to defend America should be sent home 11/2020, meaning the election here.

I had an opportunity this morning to speak with Senator Angus King. He's an independent from Maine. And I asked him straight up if he thought this was racist, the President's comments. He did not go that far but he did say that he believed that they were wrong. He was urging his republican colleagues to speak out about this. He turned to the President and said, have you no shame?

And he also believes that this is something that is going to rally the democrats. We have already seen that, Jim and poppy, many democratic staffers, aides and Tweets, members of Congress coming to these four congresswomen's aid and support, as well as Speaker Pelosi.

SCIUTTO: Well, Senator Graham also said those four sitting congresswomen hate this country, I'm quoting directly, and he called them communists, unclear what he's basing that comment on. I'm sure they would disagree. Suzanne Malveaux on the Hill, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Yes. It's a great and important point, Jim. All of what he said should be taken into account here.

Let's talk about this and more with the Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He is the first Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Thank you very much for being with me. And I know, of course, you've also served this country in Iraq. So thank you very much for your service.

Look, your response to this was personal. Here's part of what you Tweeted over the weekend. Growing up, I used to hear go back to Mexico from many kids though I was born in the United States. Has the President with these words essentially, congressman, served to unite an increasingly divided democratic caucus?

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): Absolutely. I mean, we weren't even that divided. Obviously, we have family spats. But this president has united us but more importantly, it's also united the white nationalist movement in this country. The President is the figure head of that movement. And even though many people have tried to deny it, this president is racist, will continue to be racist. And the only way you stop people like President Trump is you defeat him at the ballot box.

HARLOW: So why the pretty much silence from republican senators and members of the House? I mean, we mentioned Chip Roy and we heard Lindsey Graham but I don't get it. I mean, (INAUDIBLE), where is everyone else?

GALLEGO: Well, the Republican Party only can exist as a national party if they bring in racists into their coalition. That's it.

HARLOW: I don't know that that's -- the history of the party doesn't show us that, Congressman. Are you saying now?

GALLEGO: As a matter of fact, if you look at the history of this party first just really hurt with George Bush. If you look even further down the line, you see even more actions by other candidates. If you look at how this President started his campaign, he started by running a rumor about the first black president being born in Africa and then calling Mexicans rapists and thugs crossing the border.

You know, I think the press and a lot of people just don't want to admit it and other politicians. This president is racist. The Republican Party relies on racism to continue winning because they have no ideas. Their ideas are unpopular. And the only way they can really continue to win elections, especially national elections is just by stoking this anger and this --

HARLOW: So you are hearing no -- you are hearing privately -- I mean, have you talked to republican -- your republican colleagues over the weekend and you're saying that, privately, they have not expressed dismay to you even about the President's comments?

GALLEGO: Look, it doesn't matter if they say anything to me privately. It does not, because that shows no courage. What matters here is the fact that they're not willing to stand up to the racism that exists within their party and they rely on it. They rely on it to win every election cycle.

I'm from Arizona. This is what they did every election cycle. They targeted immigrants. They targeted Latinos. And that's the only way to win because their ideas are not popular in this country.

HARLOW: Okay. So, Congressman, let me ask you about, and this is tied to it, the immigration raids that -- the ICE raids that were set to begin. We haven't seen much evidence of them but yesterday and continue for a week. You told MSNBC recently that the deportation policy under the previous administration, the Obama/Biden administration was, quote, way too harsh and contributed to the environment we are in today. Of course, we know that over 2.5 million immigrants were deported over -- during the Obama administration. He was dubbed by some immigrants rights groups as the deporter-in-chief. You clearly had an issue with that policy.

Given that, what would you and your fellow members of the Congressional Hispanic Congress need to hear from Vice President Biden about that policy to give you enough confidence that he would do something differently as president, that would give you enough confidence in him to grant him your endorsement?

GALLEGO: Well, certainly my endorsement is not going to be just contingent on an apology or anything of that sort. I mean, I think a recognition that there was a problem in the past will be very important.


The thing that happened with the last president was not just that he set up the policies, that he did have a deferred program for families that were here that were not, you know, committing major crimes or had committed major crimes. The problem was that you had an ICE agency that was rogue and was rogue the whole time and was essentially just deporting people en masse without the President stepping in.

Now, I think the most important thing is the next president, whether it's Biden or anyone else, they need to understand that this agency needs to be reined in. And if they don't, it will continue going forward.

HARLOW: Let me clearly understand what you're saying here. You either do blame President Obama and former Vice President Biden for those deportations during those eight years or you don't. Previously, when I listen to --

GALLEGO: No, no, I do. I'm sorry. I tend to be a very clear person. You know, obviously I blame the people that were in charge but part of that is that they have to recognize where the real problem was coming.

HARLOW: So, okay, good to have that clarification. So, finally, before you go, as you look at the broad, and it's a big democratic field, and we're going to see all of those contenders on the stage in the CNN debate coming up at the end of this month, but of those and their proposals so far on immigration, some say eliminate ICE altogether, who do you think has the most sensible immigration plan?

GALLEGO: Yes, I think it's tough to say right now. I think everyone is actually making a very good effort at putting together a plan. The most important thing though is to recognize that --

HARLOW: Well, give me a few names because they're all over the board. I mean, they're from eliminate ICE to don't eliminate ICE. That's a big gap, right?

GALLEGO: Yes. I think that's also a difference between our interpretation. That's enforcement, that's necessarily immigration. If you're talking about comprehensive immigration reform, I think, so far, you have Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro actually having some very thoughtful ideas of what they're doing, as well as Kamala Harris.

Now, the other area that you're talking about is when it comes to enforcement, I think everyone is left to right on that.

In my opinion, there is somewhere in the middle where we need to make sure we still have enforcement to stop bad people for coming into this country, we still need to understand who is coming to this country and no candidate, democrat, that is running right now, from what I've seen, actually wants open borders. And I think that's really important for people to understand. And

maybe there's a characterization out there that is otherwise.

HARLOW: We are out of time. But I would note that's what a lot took away from all of them on that stage that were on that night raising their hand during the NBC debate, you know, saying if they would decriminalize crossing the border.

GALLEGO: Decriminalize does not mean open borders. You still have to control the border even without decriminalization.

HARLOW: Congressman Ruben Gallego, thank you for joining us. Come back soon.

GALLEGO: Thank you.

HARLOW: I appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: Important interview, important time.

Still to come this hour, lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein say he should be able to stay at home before his trial but prosecutors say the accused sex trafficker should remain in jail, not in his multimillion dollar mansion. So what will the judge decide?

HARLOW: Plus, police investigating the very troubling and mysterious death of a beloved community activist after her body was found in the trunk of a car in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. What happened?

SCIUTTO: Just a horrible story there.

Thousands of American and United Airlines flights have been canceled now. This is Boeing's troubles with the 737 Max jet could now stretch into next year.



SCIUTTO: Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein is now in a New York courtroom for his bail hearing where a judge will hear arguments on whether Epstein can put up his jet and nearly $80 million mansion as part of a bond package to get him out of jail while he awaits trial.

HARLOW: Yes. His lawyers say he should be able to stay at home under monitoring before the trial. Prosecutors say he must stay in jail. With us again, our Crime and Justice Correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz, you're outside the courthouse in New York. This is all happening right now. And you just got some news. What did the judge just say?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. So just moments ago, Poppy, the judge saying he does not intend to rule today. He's not going to make a decision on whether Jeffrey Epstein should be released pending trial in this case. Instead what he said, what he's going to do is he's going to allow both side, the attorneys for the prosecutors and the defense team to argue, argue their case for about 20 minutes each and then he's going to issue a ruling in a written form on Thursday.

So for now at least until Thursday, Jeffrey Epstein will remain in jail and then the judge will decide by Thursday whether or not he should be released. Of course, the defense attorneys are asking that Jeffrey Epstein be released to go and spend time under home confinement, electronic monitoring with security guards that they intend to hire, in essence, creating a jail at his $77 million mansion, Prosecutors are vehemently opposed to this. They're saying he is a flight risk.

And there's also concern here, prosecutors say, for the victims. Their concern is that he can cause a dangerous situation for victims who want to come forward and for the victims in this case because perhaps he could try to somehow influence their testimony. They already have evidence of him, they say, trying to buy the silence of potential witnesses and all this, they're saying is a big, big concern for them and that is why he should remain in jail.


And, of course, there could be possibly other charges in connection with this case, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, that's right. Okay, Shimon, thank you very much. Keep us posted on what happens.

SCIUTTO: Joining us to discuss this, Kan Nawaday, former corruption and fraud prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, where this case will be tried. Thanks so much for taking the time this morning?


SCIUTTO: So, first of all, let's look at what his lawyers are requesting here to stay at home in effect in his mansion while awaiting trial. They're going to put a GPS monitor on him, put up his corporate jet as collateral for the bond. For normal people without corporate jets and high priced lawyers like this, would a judge normally grant a request to stay at home while awaiting trial?

NAWADAY: Absolutely not. And this judge in particular is predisposed not to entertain this type of gilded cage argument that Epstein's lawyers are putting forth. In fact, this judge, Judge Berman, several years ago, a gold trader from Turkey made the same argument. And in a written opinion, Judge Berman said, well, just because you're rich, you can't buy your way out of jail.

SCIUTTO: Danger to other -- to his victims, and there are more victims coming out, we should note, or alleged victims here, to his victims, what is the danger that prosecutors are concerned about if he is allowed to go home while he awaits trial?

NAWADAY: The danger is that, one, he can influence and try to influence other witnesses. Remember, over the weekend, it was reported that he'd actually given hundreds of thousands of dollars to co-conspirators to try to influence them. So there's that danger. Also there's the danger that he's still committing crime. Remember that he also, in his safe at his New York mansion, kept discs labeled girls nude photos. So it seems, even though ten years have passed, he's still committing crime potentially.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And you mentioned that because just last week, Julie Brown, of course, the Miami Herald reporter, who has led a lot of the revelations reporting on this case, she said that more than 12 new Jeffrey Epstein accusers have come forward. He already has a number of accusers against him clearly enough for this trial to proceed here in New York in addition to the one that took place in Florida. Could this lead to further charges, these new accusers coming forward?

NAWADAY: It absolutely can. And I frankly expect an additional indictment. The Southern District of New York continues to investigate, as I am sure they are doing right now. They have more potential victims, which could mean more recent conduct and more charges for Epstein.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this as well, just from your own experience, you are a corruption and fraud prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. I'm sure you saw and dealt with a lot of bad actors during that time period. What do you think big picture about the treatment that Jeffrey Epstein received in Florida? Does it give you concerns that someone with a lot of money, a lot of powerful friends, a lot of powerful lawyers can influence the system and not face the justice they deserve?

NAWADAY: Well, Jim, I actually also did sex trafficking crimes. I prosecuted those types of crimes. And it hits a visceral nerve that Epstein got the treatment he did, that should have never happened. I cannot fathom why he got it. And it's sickening because, frankly, as a prosecutor, your job is to speak for victims

And here in Florida, what happened was the victims were silenced, they were kept in the dark and the prosecutors didn't fight for them. I hate to say it. That's what happened.

SCIUTTO: Wow, that's quite a damning indictment. Kan Nawaday, thanks very much.

NAWADAY: Thank you.

HARLOW: Ahead for us, the continued grounding of Boeing 737 Max jet has led to thousands of additional flight cancellations over the next few months. Where is this going? What does it mean for you as you fly next?



HARLOW: American Airlines this morning has extended its Boeing 737 Max cancellations for a fourth time. This will result in thousands of additional canceled flights through early November. This is all, Jim, of course, because of the grounding of that 737 Max jet.

SCIUTTO: And we're also learning it's becoming more likely Boeing's troubles with the 737 Max will now stretch into 2020.

CNN Correspondent Tom Foreman is in Washington, joins us now to explain.

So, Tom, have they discovered new problems with the jet or is it the solutions to the problems we already knew about aren't sufficient? What's happening?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A little bit of both seems to be the answer here. I mean, the real fundamental problem here is that every time they seem to be getting close to a finish line on this, the goalpost moves a little further out.

And I think the real key to that has been that, as they have looked at the basic airplane, not just this one problem, they've re-examined all sorts of earlier things that they said were fine or they felt were okay, and have started saying, well, is that really okay? One of the questions, for example, being if you go to these manual controls, are they essentially too stiff for some pilots to maneuver? Are they requiring too much energy?

American Airlines has expressed some faith in all of this.


They have said that they remain confident that impending software updates to the Boeing 737 Max, along with new training elements and developing a coordination with the union partners, will lead to recertification.