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Police Use Tear Gas in Puerto Rico Protests; Trump's Ugly Plan to Get Reelected; Theresa May Condemns Populism and 'Absolutism' in Last Speech as Prime Minister; U.S. National Debt Approaching $23 Trillion; Drug Lord Sentenced to Life in Prison. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, welcome to our viewers all around the world, great to have you with us, I'm John Vause. We continue with breaking news in Puerto Rico.

A fifth day of protests has turned violent on the streets of the capital, San Juan. Police fired tear gas into the crowds demanding the resignation of Puerto Rico's governor over leaked text messages from his administration that were homophobic, misogynistic and laced with profanity between Ricardo Rossello and members of his inner circle and he targeted political homes and celebrities.

The governor has expressed regret but refuses to leave. These are the live images from the capital, San Juan, and a day of violence and unrest as the police have fired tear gas and protesters have responded by burning barricades.

They are still on the streets there as the clock ticks past midnight. San Juan island has suffered so much in recent months in the past year or so from hurricane devastation to now this unrest across the island.

This is not just about text messages, which were homophobic and laced with profanity, it's about corruption at the highest levels of the office of the governor there and these are protests joined by celebrities in Puerto Rico on the mainland and also Puerto Ricans who live on the mainland United States.

Leyla Santiago is now on the line with more.

Leyla, it's just past midnight there.

What's the latest?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John I'm, calling in because we're struggling to get a live shot out of here. What are seeing is (INAUDIBLE) the governor's mansion are the eerie, empty streets with signs of protest, calling for the governor's resignation thrown on the ground.

This comes as we (INAUDIBLE) where we are now. We stepped in a very kind neighbor's home. We can still hear blasts off in the distance as police continue to try to conquer the streets after a very long day of protests. And it certainly is not the first day of protests here.

We heard from many Puerto Ricans who are among the thousands, coming together (INAUDIBLE) the governor's recognition. And when I would ask them, why are you here, what is it about, many (INAUDIBLE) and his inner circle in which homophobic remarks were made.

There were some choice words in describing women that I will not repeat. They made light of the bodies that were piling (INAUDIBLE) talked about (INAUDIBLE) their own.

So I think a lot of people saw those texts and some of those insults, saying, hey, they made fun of folks from the countryside, that's me.

Hey, they made fun of women, that is me. So we heard that from a lot of people and we also heard (INAUDIBLE) need to send this island from the corruption and it's much greater than texts. These (INAUDIBLE) were leaked just days after the FBI made arrests of some former officials from (INAUDIBLE).

VAUSE: It does seem --

SANTIAGO: -- scandal.

VAUSE: Leyla, we're having some problems with the phone line; it's dropping in and out but we'd like you to stay with us for as long as you can. One thing we noted -- and you brought this up -- this isn't just about the leaks of these text messages, which have been dubbed there, RickyLeaks after the governor. This is also now pitting the governor of Puerto Rico against the popular mayor of San Juan. She's the face of the opposition, if you like, to the governor.

She was also the face of the opposition against Donald Trump at the time of Hurricane Maria, which left the island devastated and the U.S. president had engaged in a controversies when it came dealing with the island, when it came to emergency aid --

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VAUSE: -- and assistance and how much financial assistance they received from Washington.

Leyla, we still have you, so we are looking at a situation with five days a protest, from what you've seen, would you say they are growing increasingly violent?

When we look at these images we see the results being drawn from the crowd and the police are responding with tear gas and if this is the case, there must be a concern for the authorities?

SANTIAGO: We were actually on Monday night with a massive protest and things escalating to tear gas with police with at the barricade in front of the governor's mansion and then tonight we saw the exact same thing.

Protesters were out on the streets and you can feel their anger, their frustration. They don't read the signs and they are feeling through their words (INAUDIBLE) protesting and calling for this governor to resign.

For the governor's part, he is saying he will not resign. While many in that chat have resigned, the governor is saying he was the only elected official and was elected by the people of Puerto Rico. He will fulfill his duties and continue to do his job.

On the other hand, even some of his own party are saying that his days are numbered. Given the reaction that we are seeing in Old San Juan and in the municipalities across the island and even outside.

We are seeing protests in Miami, in D.C., in New York, Puerto Ricans who left this island after Hurricane Maria. We will touch on that a bit, too. One of the concerns here, is that the governor is now seen as someone that cannot be trusted.

The fear for some is that those who are most vulnerable and are still rebuilding nearly two years after Hurricane Maria destroyed on this island could suffer because the White House may not send federal aid to those who need it most. That is a concern. That has not been discussed by the White House. But that is what the concern is for a lot of people on this island.

Even tonight, I heard one woman tonight say that I don't agree with what President Trump says. But I hate to say he was right on this. Our government is corrupt in while some say it's displaced in the chance, others in the FBI arrests to make that point.

I will say as far as the phones of the 12 individuals who were involved in this catch in which many took offense to many things of the 900 pages of the chat, the Department of Justice here in Puerto Rico asked all 12 of those of those officials to come in and have their phone inspected to review those chats.

But really we are -- this is a play by play and are watching the protesters take to the streets, call on his resignation as of right now. The governor -- I checked about an hour ago -- the governor's office said that he is refusing to step down, despite what we may see on the streets in Old San Juan playing out right before our eyes -- John.

VAUSE: Leyla Santiago, we appreciate the update there from the capital of San Juan, giving us the latest there and context of what is happening right now.

This is tens of thousands of people turning out for a fifth day now, protesting a leak of text messages between the governor and his aides, profanity laced messages, 889 pages in all but that's a tip of the iceberg for many people who are suffering from a multibillion dollar debt crisis and coming from Hurricane Maria.

We will monitor the situation in San Juan. We'll continue to check in with Leyla Santiago on the scene. But we now go on to the other major news of the day.

In the past few hours we possibly saw the U.S. president plans to campaign for a second term, whipping a crowd of thousands into a frenzy and leading them in racist chants. It's become increasingly obvious over the past few days, that Donald Trump is prepared to do almost anything, no low is too low to do whatever it takes to get a second term.

At that rally in North Carolina, Trump's message was clear --

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VAUSE: -- reelect a true patriot, the flag-loving defender of the white middle class, Donald Trump. And in return he promises four years of economic prosperity and those who look different or sound different will be on notice to mind their place.

For a Democrat, he'll be supporting a rabble of violent American hating Communists. And at that rally in North Carolina, Trump's message was this. He was essentially bringing out there by attacking those four Democratic congresswoman, doubling down, tripling down, if you like, on those attacks which he made earlier in the week.

And in fact, he also thanked the Democrats who removed or tabled a motion to impeach the president. That was put on hold, much to the delight of Donald Trump.

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TRUMP: I just heard that the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most ridiculous project I've ever been involved in: the resolution -- how stupid is that? -- on impeachment. I want to thank those Democrats because many of them voted for us. The vote was a totally lopsided 332 to 95 to 1.

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VAUSE: Ron Brownstein is the analyst and the senior editor for "The Atlantic" and he joins me now from Los Angeles.

Ron, now the president is clearly energized and enjoying this controversy possibly more than any other of his presidency. A Reuters opinion poll has seen support for him among Republicans tick up compared to a week ago. He believes he's on a roll. Listen to the president before Wednesday's rally.

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TRUMP: I do think I'm winning the political fight, I think I'm winning it by a lot.

The Democratic Party is really going in a direction that nobody thought possible. They're going so far Left they're going to fall off a cliff.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: To his point, Democrats seem to be flat-footed here. An impeachment vote was tabled on Wednesday and the president, we just heard, falsely claiming that impeachment is off the table because the Democrats killed it.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Obviously that is not true. It is still continuing in the Judiciary Committee.

But, John, that is a sideshow next to the magnitude of what we're watching here today. A president of the United States openly leading a racist taunt, an unabashedly, full-throated racist chant in front of a crowd of Americans, who are gleefully joining in.

I just want to ask listeners to think about this scene applied to any other aspect of life in America or, for that matter, anywhere else. If 20 high school students surrounded an immigrant classmate on the football field and chanted, "Send her home," how many of them would be expelled?

If 20 employees at your company surrounded someone in the lunchroom and chanted, "Send her home," how many of them would be fire?

If 20 soldiers did that to a fellow platoon mate, much less a commanding officer leading the chant, how many of them would be discharged from the Army?

We know the answer to all of those question and yet now we are being -- in effect, the president is saying that this is an acceptable way to deal with each other in a country that is growing inexorably more diverse and more connected to the globe.

And it is an absolute moment of looking in the mirror for all Americans about what they will accept from the highest office in the land.

And by the way, imagine a CEO doing this.

Would a board of directors let them stay in their job?

VAUSE: Well, in 2016, Trump felt just like one person, Hillary, "Lock her up" Clinton. In 2020, it's these four Democratic congresswomen. Who knows who else will be a target.

Instead of jailing political opponents, now it's deportation. You talked about the crowd, let's listen to the crowd.

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TRUMP: And obviously and importantly Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.

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VAUSE: How is it that a significant part of the country can look at that rally, can listen to it and listen to the chant and not find it chilling, abhorrent, to a point terrifying while others see nothing wrong or even enthusiastically agree?

Look, as you know, I've said to you for year, I've believed for years that the fundamental fault in American politics is what I call the coalition of restoration and the coalition of transformation, that essentially our politics now divides along an axis between those groups and areas of American society that are comfortable with the way we are changing, demographically, culturally and even economically. And those who view it as a threat to the America they have known.

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BROWNSTEIN: And that was who Donald Trump was talking to when he put the single most important words of the 2016 campaign in his slogan, make America great again because again is about looking back.

There are a lot of 30-year-old African American MBAs who think America is imperfect today but there's not an "again" they are trying to get back to or professional women in the workforce. There is not an "again" they are trying to get back to.

He is directly, ever more directly, as he goes on, appealing to the portions of the electorate, who believe that they are threatened by changing realities in the country on every front, cultural, demographic and economic, as I said.

And this is the line that he wants to draw in the country for 2020. I think it is an expression of weakness as much as strength, because if you're talking about unemployment at 4 percent and the stock market at an all-time high, most presidents would be wanting to ask, are you better off than you were four years ago?

But Trump knows that there are enough people who answer yes to that question, that answered no to him for other reasons, precisely in many ways these reasons, that he is not assured of winning that question. So he wants the question to be, who is a real American?

And he will take his chances on that front. And again, it is a moment of choosing for the country that he is precipitating.

VAUSE: Here's the type of language that the president used to whip up the crowd.

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TRUMP: And tonight I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good to say. That's why I say, "Hey, if they don't like it, let them leave, let them leave, let them leave." They're always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to do -- you know what, if they don't love it, tell them to leave it.

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VAUSE: Quickly, the president is equating criticism of him --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. VAUSE: -- criticism of his administration as being the same as an attempt to tear down the country. I really hesitate about this next point but in March 1933, the German Reichstag passed the Malicious Practices Act, making it a crime to speak out against the new government or criticize its leaders. It made even the smallest expression of dissent a crime.

They called it the Enabling Act, which enabled the chancellor to punish anyone he considered an enemy of the state.

It sounds insane, it sounds hyperbolic. But this is what history teaches us, that these acts (INAUDIBLE) authoritarian leader, this is where it has the potential to end up, which is why so many people are stunned and shocked.

BROWNSTEIN: Look, I'm always, you know, I am first on the list to be leery of any kind of comparisons to Nazi Germany. But your intermediate point, that you don't know how far this can go once you start, I think, is a very valid one.

And that's why I find it astonishing that we have not heard more from the collective social leadership of the country. I would like to hear from the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the business roundtable and Apple and GM and Exxon and IBM, what -- and Microsoft.

What would happen at their company to a senior executive who, when being disagreed with by a colleague of color, told them to go back to where they were from?

I would like to know from school superintendents in every major city, what would happen to a group of students who chanted, "Go back where you came from," at a classmate?

And, again, military leaders, I mean, this is a moment where it is pretty clear that the congressional Republican almost completely having accepted Trump's transformation acceleration -- he didn't start -- the acceleration of their transformation into a party centered on the parts and voters in America most uneasy about what the country is becoming, are not going to really make any stand for a collective American identity.

They are allowing him to both on moral and political terms execute this enormous gamble of redefining them as a party of white racial grievance against a changing America above all.

And that is -- and so that is kind of baked in at this point. The question is, are there other voices in the society that are going to stand up and say, look, at a time when a majority of public school students are already non-white, when a majority of our under 18 population will be nonwhite by 2020, when a majority of our high school graduates will be nonwhite by 2023 or so, is it OK to use this kind of language, to use and to cleave the country in this way as we are growing inexorably more diverse?

VAUSE: We spoke a couple of years ago about what the future holds. And we're out of time, but I remember you clearly saying to me at the time that this will only get more amplified as we -- as the years go on --

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VAUSE: -- and that's what we're seeing play out right now and in so many ways --

BROWNSTEIN: -- John, a very quick thought. History will have no problem understanding what it was that precipitated this moment in American history. We are going through a profound demographic --

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BROWNSTEIN: -- change along with a profound economic change and there are big parts of the country who want no part of either.

VAUSE: Yes. Ron, as always, thank you so much.

A short break: still to come, Theresa May rails against populism and absolutism, claiming in her final speech as British prime minister that politics has sunk to an all-time low.

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VAUSE: The British prime minister, Theresa May, says politics in the U.K. and beyond has descended into rancor and tribal bitterness. Speaking a week before leaving office, Ms. May said politicians had lost the ability to compromise. She also went on to say she regrets the failure of her Brexit deal to win parliamentary approval.

Journalist Josh Boswell joins us now from Los Angeles.

Josh, thanks for coming in.

JOSH BOSWELL, JOURNALIST: Hi, John.

VAUSE: This was a farewell speech which had the right message. There was a call for civility and compromise and there was a dire warning of what lies ahead. Listen to some of it, here she is.

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THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Words have consequences. And ill words that go unchallenged are the first step on a continuum toward ill deeds, toward a much darker place, where hatred and prejudice drive not only what people say but also what they do.

This absolutism is not confined to British politics. It festers in politics all across the world. We see it in the rise of the political parties on the far left and far right in Europe and beyond.

And we see it in the increasingly adversarial nature of international relations, which some view as a zero-sum game, where one can only gain if others lose and where power, unconstrained by rules, is the only currency of value.

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VAUSE: It's hard to disagree with the message, it just seems to come from the wrong messenger. If you listen to the entire speech, she (INAUDIBLE) almost everything she failed to do in office.

BOSWELL: That's quite right. I think it's a fairly hypocritical speech and a lot of her critics are making that point. I think this is a thinly veiled jab at President Trump, talking about absolutism and making references to what I think is his America first policy, that a zero-sum game, a form of international relations.

She's also talking about compromise and how we need to have a politics that doesn't lie to people, doesn't just tell them what they want to hear. The problem is that Theresa May should have compromised a lot earlier on. If she had reached across the aisle to Labour, the opposition, then she might have solved --

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BOSWELL: -- the Brexit crisis quite a long time ago. That's something she's been criticized for, coming to them at the 11th hour. Instead she catered to the right wing of her party, the Brexiteers. And there's a lot of these criticisms that you can level straight back at her.

VAUSE: There's an editorial in "The Guardian," in which she seems to bring home that point, it's especially blunt, calling out her failure to speak about the risks and dangers of leading the E.U. without a deal. This is part of it.

"She retreated into a familiar routine of blaming Parliament for the current impasse, as if she were a paragon of flexibility and compromise while implacability was found everywhere else.

"No honest narration of the past three years would substantiate that self-serving revision of events. It is true that Ms. May suffered at the hands of fanatical Eurosceptics in her own party but by pandering to their unrealistic fantasies, she became the author of her own misfortune."

There does seem to be this element of self delusion in what she did not say.

But how is this all being seen by the British public?

How do they view her legacy?

BOSWELL: I think the consensus is that she has very little legacy. Not very much to speak about that's positive. Her legacy is failing to deliver on Brexit and she is, I think, widely viewed as one of the worst prime ministers we've had.

She is having this last-ditch attempt to salvage some kind of legacy here. She came in with these grand gestures and a speech of the burning injustices that we have in British society, of racial and economic inequality. And she has made very little progress on those, in some places moving backwards.

She is now try to get through at the last minute a 27 billion-pound education spending package. She is trying to get the office for tackling injustices set up. But these are really too little, too late and I think that's the consensus here, that she's failed to come through on the main task for her premiership should have been, which is delivering Brexit. And she has failed to tackle any of those other social issues as well that she says she wants to tackle.

VAUSE: As Theresa May heads out of Number 10, coming into Number 10 will most likely be Boris Johnson, seen as likely to win the Conservative Party leadership and become the next prime minister.

Here's the Tory leadership debate on Wednesday.

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BORIS JOHNSON, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: The planes will fly. Whatever deal we do, it will be ready, whatever deal we do. The planes will fly and there will be clean drinking water, my friends, and all the adequate supplies of glucose and milk solids and whey to make the Mars bars that we need because where there's a will, there's a way, ladies and gentlemen.

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VAUSE: That is Boris Johnson talking about Britain post Brexit, all very jolly hockey sticks and yuk, yuk, yuk. But the reality is yoke no-deal Brexit will have a big impact a lot more than just hitting the supply of Mars bars. This is economic Armageddon, some have described it as.

BOSWELL: And you have some alarmist people, certainly on the Left, saying it's going to be Armageddon but you also have people saying -- people whose job it is to give a very responsible forecast. The Office of Budget Responsibility, a section of government set up to make forecasts about those kinds of things and they say that we could have a 3 percent decline in GDP. That is what they forecast for a no- deal Brexit and that's in 2020, so just around the corner.

VAUSE: Yes, that's no laughing matter from (INAUDIBLE) standpoint.

BOSWELL: Yes, exactly, and then you've got even worst forecasts from the Bank of England. They say by 2035 an 8 percent decrease in GDP. So it's really no laughing matter and Boris is a great speaker and he's very charismatic and I think part of the reason why he's so ahead so far in the polls is because the Conservative Party membership think he can win an election off the back of that exuberance and charisma.

The only problem is, he is leading us into a potential economic catastrophe and --

(CROSSTALK) VAUSE: -- almost out of time, let me interrupt that. Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson's only challenger for the leadership, seems to be smelling the scent of defeat in the air. Here he is.

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JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: If I don't win, it would be a huge honor to serve Boris in a way that unites our party and our country.

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VAUSE: Very quickly, that sounded like a concession.

BOSWELL: Yes, it's sounding like he's really getting to that point. The polls are so clearly showing that Boris is ahead. As a good politician, he should be making those moves if he wants to have any high-ranking job.

I think Boris would be clever to do what Churchill would do, a man that he very much admires, and be very gracious in victory. He do well to bring Hunt into his government and I think Hunt recognizes that and wants to push the advantage there in defeat, in getting a decent cabinet job.

[00:30:14] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Josh, thanks so much. Good to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Short break. When we come back, the U.S. national debt continues to surge. It seems the one fiscally-conservative Republicans, they just don't care. That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.

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VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Thank you for staying with us. I'm John Vause with an update on our top news this hour.

In Puerto Rico, the time now, 12:32 in the morning. These are live images of protestors, which have erupted in San Juan, demanding the resignation of the governor, Ricardo Rossello. They are upset over leaked text messages, among other things. These messages were between the governor and his inner circle. A lot were acerbic (ph), misogynistic. They were offensive in nature. The government has expressed regret, but he is refusing to step down; and that is forcing these protestors to be on the streets for a fifth night.

Donald Trump claiming victory after the U.S. House voted down a resolution to impeach him. The motion focused specifically on the president's racist remarks, not his possible obstruction of justice. The president incorrectly tweeted, "Impeachment is now over." Democrats could revive the issue, though, at any time.

New figures released Wednesday by the Institute of International Finance show combined U.S. public and private sector debt was close to $70 trillion. Government debt has hit a record high.

In just simple terms of dollars and cents, America's national debt hits a new record high every second, approaching $23 trillion right now, about $68,000 for every man, woman and child.

Last month, 20 Democrats hoping to be president stood on a stage for four hours over two nights, and the word "deficit" was never mentioned. At least, government debt was mentioned a grand total of once.

And here is Freedom Plaza in Washington on Wednesday, deserted. Not a placard, not a protestor, not a silly hat to be seen. Unlike a decade ago when ultra-conservative Republicans formed a "Taxed Enough Already Party" or Tea Party to protest a debt field increase in government spending.

Back then, of course, a Democrat called Barack Obama it was in the White House.

Amid the rancor of Washington politics, there is rare bipartisan agreement when it comes to the ballooning national debt: a head in the sand approach. But ignoring the problem only makes it worse. And on its current course, the ratio of debt to GDP will hit unprecedented levels within 30 years: 144 percent by 2024, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

And unlike a decade ago, when the U.S. economy was in crisis and in desperate need of physical stimulus, government debt is rising now amid an economic expansion. Unemployment and inflation are low. The stock market is high, a time when previous governments would work to reduce deficits.

[00:35:12] But as Reuters reported, asked about rising deficits last month, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow downplayed concerns. "It doesn't bother me right now," he said.

CNN political commentator and opinion writer for "The Washington Post," Catherine Rampell is with us now from New York.

Catherine, thanks for staying with us.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Great to be here.

VAUSE: OK. So in Washington right now, Democrats and Republicans have found a way to work together to raise the debt ceiling before the government runs out of money in September. Listen to the House minority leader, a Republican, Kevin McCarthy. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I would say to the speaker, if we are as close as I believe we are, and we need a day or two longer, we should stick here and make sure we get it done.

There is a real concern, and I don't think this is a question on any side of the aisle, that when the debt ceiling can hit, that it could hit early September or maybe sooner.

We should not leave for August without dealing with that, and I would say if we can't get this done, we should do a 30-day. I don't think that's ideal. I'd rather get a cap agreement and a debt ceiling agreement before we leave in July. And I think we are very close to making that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You take whatever you can get in terms of a corporation, and at least they're not scratching each other's eyes out. But what does it say when these two parties, that the only thing they can work together on and get something done is raising the debt ceiling so they can borrow more money?

RAMPELL: Well, they haven't actually raised the debt ceiling yet.

VAUSE: Good point.

RAMPELL: So I wouldn't hold your breath. We've had these debt- ceiling showdowns in the past.

And, look, if the least they can do is prevent another worldwide financial crisis, which is probably what would happen, if the U.S. defaulted on its debt, that's -- I guess that's a worthy goal. It's a pretty low bar.

But yes, that -- at the very least, that should be bringing the parties together. We don't want to default on our debt. We don't want to raise borrowing costs, which is what would happen. And we don't want to have this cascading financial panic, which would likely result from a default.

VAUSE: I guess the point I'm trying to make here is probably better said by the former congressman, Mark Sanford, who is one of the few voices of concern right now when it comes to the debt. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK SANFORD, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I think that we're walking our way toward the most predictable financial crisis in the history of man. And there is little to no -- I guess I'd say no discussion of debt, deficit in government spending in Washington these days. I've watched two Democratic presidential debates, and there's been zero discussion on both of them as to this issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Why can't they work together to lower the debt and not far more money, because when this debt bomb explodes it will take down not just the U.S. economy but quite possibly, the world economy with it?

RAMPELL: Right. So there are a couple of things to separate, here. One is the debt ceiling, which is about just making sure we can pay bills we have already committed to pay. Which is what we're -- what we had initially been talking about. And the other is what about budgets going forward? What about

spending commitments and taxation? What about the structure of taxation?

And I think it's a little bit rich here to have Republicans lecturing us about the virtues of fiscal responsibility when they oversaw, when they had unified control of government, a $2 trillion tax cut, unfunded tax cut, which is what we're dealing with right now, as well as, of course, a spending increase.

It kind of seems like the Republicans only care about deficits and debt went the other party is in power. Democrats don't seem to care about them so much, regardless of who is in charge. But certainly, there's a lot more preaching from Republicans when they are no longer holding the reins and when they get to point to President Obama, for example, and say that he was overseeing too much of an increase in the debt.

VAUSE: A year ago, "The Daily Beast" had a report about the surging national debt and where this current president stands: "Sources close to the president say he has repeatedly shrugged it off, implying that he doesn't have to worry about the money owed to America's creditors -- currently around $21 trillion -- because he won't be around to shoulder the blame when it becomes even more untenable."

The story's a couple months old, so now, what, 21, 22 trillion.

Donald Trump will most likely not be around, I guess, to see the impact of this debt explosion. He may be, but it's unlikely. But what will it look like in terms of economic devastation? What will happen to this country, in just very broad brushstrokes?

RAMPELL: Well, to be fair, pretty much all politicians have that same attitude, that Trump spelled out. Right? "I won't be around when it's a crisis."

And hopefully, that's the case in the sense that we don't expect the crisis to be immediately around the corner. Right? It doesn't look like we're suddenly going to have a major crisis resulting from our inability to pay our debt, assuming we continue raising the debt ceiling in the near term?

Right now the world wants to buy U.S. treasuries, because it's considered the safest of safe assets, which allows the United States to continue borrowing, to continue spending beyond its means.

[00:40:10] That said, look, if something can't go on forever, as the saying goes, it won't. And so at some point, we don't know when that will be. Probably not going to be tomorrow, but at some point in the future, these trends will not be sustainable, which is why you kind of need politicians to show some backbone, to show some leadership and to start laying the groundwork now for getting these structural problems under control.

VAUSE: Next time we can talk about the U.S. debasing its role as the reserve currency on other issues like sanctions on Iran and you know, that kind of stuff, and what the impact of that will be on its status, you know, as the reserve currency and what happens, you know, moving forward with that one. But next time, Catherine. Good to see you. Thank you.

RAMPELL: Next time. Next time.

VAUSE: Next time, indeed.

El Chapo escaped prison twice. Still to come here, now he is the most -- in the most secure prison in the United States, most likely for life. We'll have the very latest on the drug lord's sentencing.

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[00:43:09] VAUSE: The notorious Mexican drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman will most likely spend the rest of his life behind bars, and they'll be the most secure bars in the United States.

He was sentenced to life in prison, plus 30 years, convicted of engaging in a criminal enterprise, drug trafficking and firearms charges.

The 62-year-old, who infamously escaped prison twice, claimed he did not get a fair trial. Guzman has already been moved to the super max prison in Colorado. It is the most secure federal prison, quite possibly in the world.

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ANGEL MELENDEZ, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, HOMELAND SECURITY: This sentence today finally separates the myth of El Chapo from the man, Joaquin Guzman. And for the man, it is the end of the line, and it is a reality that he will not be able to escape.

JEFFREY LICHTMAN, JOAQUIN GUZMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: All we had asked for at the beginning was a fair trial. I'm not here to tell you that Joaquin Guzman is a saint. I'm not here to tell you that what occurred, that the witnesses were unusual than any other American trial. All we asked for was fairness. And no matter what you think of Joaquin Guzman, he still deserves a fair trial.

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VAUSE: As Guzman left the courtroom, he blew two kisses to his wife. She returned in kind. His attorney says that could potentially be the last time the two would ever see each other. How about that?

Continuing to monitor the situation in San Juan, but for now, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Up next, WORLD SPORT. You're watching CNN.

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