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President Trump Tries To Disavow Racist Chant, But Video Shows He Didn't; Dad Allowed U.S. Entry To Take Daughter Off Life Support; 50 Years After Apollo 11 Lands On The Moon. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 19, 2019 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN, PENNSYLVANIA: -- those of us who push back. They didn't like the way we responded to their outrageous statements, whether it was Todd Akin or Steve King or whoever who made some kind of wild statement. We had to respond to it and that's what happening now.

And a lot of these Republican members, particularly in the swing and marginal districts, are feeling terribly pressured right now as a result of the president's remarks. They're just despondent over this.

And so, hopefully, Republican leadership is telling the president to knock this off. This is not helping them politically.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Senator, do you feel like the president had to at least look like he was walking it back?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. SENATOR, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I agree with Charlie that they're reckless statements. They're ignorant statements that -- what the president put out on Twitter. I don't think they were racist statements.

And I think that's -- that's -- I think that's one of the things that's going on here, which is that everything -- and again, I'm not defending what the president said in his tweets, but what I am saying is that to take everything and turn it into racism is what gets people all sort of fired up.

And, you know, the fact is that the president was attacking the radicalism. He was attacking their radical positions on a variety of issues. And I think to that extent, that's sort of what's gotten people fired up -- that these are very radical people.

BERMAN: Well --

DENT: Yes.

SANTORUM: And so, you know, to turn that into well, this is just blatant racism and ignore the underlying radicalism of what these -- what these people are talking about, I think has gotten -- you know, it's gotten this thing sort of twisted around.

BERMAN: The underlying fact is Ayanna Pressley was, what, born in Cincinnati and she represents a district in Massachusetts. Three of the four of them were born in Massachusetts

SANTORUM: Right, it's like I said. It's an ignorant statement. I mean, it was -- it was wrong.

BERMAN: What they all have in common is they're people of color. That is what makes this racist -- the idea of going home.

I want to move this discussion, though, to where we are now, Senator, and I asked you, do you think the president had to look like he was walking this back?

SANTORUM: Yes. Look, I mean, as I said, the president's statements were wrong and ignorant and he needed to -- he needed to somehow try to heal this because while I don't think they were racist, I think you probably have a good -- a good a case that -- a lot of the things the president says are termed as racist. This is probably one -- because, as you mentioned, the four people are people of color -- that makes it maybe the most subject to be called racist.

BERMAN: And also because --

SANTORUM: So he needed to do something to walk it back.

BERMAN: And also because there's a long history of people being told to go back where they came from. He didn't invent that, he just bought into this thing that we've heard for centuries. All of us have heard for centuries or with their own families if you come here as immigrants.

Charlie, when you look at this, Congressman, and you see how the president tried to walk it back -- he said that he didn't like it. And then he lied about trying to stop it. Why lie?

DENT: Again, this is one of those inexplicable, indefensible moments that we have to deal with, with the president, and I've seen this before.

You know, I was an appropriator. I saw how we worked with that administration to negotiate an -- on the bus appropriations bill only to have the president later say he was going to veto it. I mean, he does these things. He says things that are just simply untrue.

And what's really frustrating about this situation -- you know, the so-called "Squad" are not a particularly sympathetic bunch, particularly within the Democratic Party given the statements they have made that are so reckless about calling moderate Democrats -- equating them with segregationists. And, Nancy Pelosi, who has a policy disagreement with them, suggesting she attacked them over their color.

I mean, these are not sympathetic people. They take extreme positions.

And as a Republican, I watched this and these members are so upset because the Democrats are engaged in a circular firing squad until those tweets. And now, the president has effectively united them because of his own wild statements.

Why the president then turns around and -- you know, and basically misrepresents what actually happened is -- I don't know how he gets away with it. He's -- you know, he's done this many times before so I don't know why we're surprised this time.

BERMAN: Senator, what were your personal feelings? I don't know if you were watching the event live as it was happening, but when you first saw the people in the crowd chanting what they were chanting, what did you think?

SANTORUM: You know, I think the president should have stopped them and said, you know, that's not appropriate.

Look, I'm not defending what the crowd said and I think it's -- I'm glad he's walked it back. I'm glad he said he doesn't agree with it.

You know, obviously, you've got the 13 seconds and you can -- you can interpret what you want. But the fact that the president says he doesn't agree with it, I'm glad he said that.

But look, in the end, what the president has done -- and you can, again, dissect it all -- the president has focused the country's attention on the radical elements. As Charlie was mentioned -- very unsympathetic figures when it comes to some of the --

I mean, this week, Rep. Omar sponsored a bill to -- you know, to go after the State of -- State of Israel and supporting the BDS movement, which was clearly anti-Semitic.

[07:35:06] So she continues to do things that are going to make her controversial.

BERMAN: Let me --

SANTORUM: That's not going to change.

BERMAN: Let me --

SANTORUM: And the fact that the Democrats are now uniting behind them, I think is problematic for the Democrats --

BERMAN: I want --

SANTORUM: -- going forward.

BERMAN: I'm breaking CNN rules. I want a one-word answer from both of you on this.

Start with you, Congressman Dent. Now that this week is over, is the Republican Party better off, worse off or no different.

DENT: Worse off.

BERMAN: Senator?

SANTORUM: I would say worse -- probably, long-term, better.

BERMAN: Worse, short-term. Long-term, better. We're going to have to dig into that much more next time --


BERMAN: -- because that's intriguing.

Senator Santorum and Congressman Dent, thanks for being with us -- Alisyn.

DENT: Thanks, John.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: John, now to this story.

A heartbroken father separated from his migrant daughter, but the story gets much, much worse. The real-life impact of the crisis at the border, next.


[07:40:10] CAMEROTA: There was a fiery hearing on Capitol Hill over the humanitarian crisis at the southern border. House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings got emotional while dressing down acting Homeland Security Sec. Kevin McAleenan.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): I guess you feel like you're doing a great job, right?


CUMMINGS: Is that what you're saying?

MCALEENAN: We're doing our level best in a very challenging --

CUMMINGS: What does that mean? What does that mean when a child is sitting in their own feces, can't take a shower? Come on, man, what's that about?

None of us would have our children in that position. They are human beings.

And I'm trying to figure out -- and I get tired of folks saying oh, they're just beating up on the border patrol. Oh, they're just beating up on Homeland Security.

No. What I'm saying is I want to concentrate on these children and I want to make sure that they're -- they are OK.


CAMEROTA: The broken immigration system is having a life and death impact on families, and CNN's Ed Lavandera spoke to one father who is preparing to bury his 13-year-old daughter. She attempted suicide after he was denied asylum.

And, Ed is here now with this heartbreaking story. Ed, I can't remember a sadder story that we've seen in a long time.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is, definitely. After having covered immigration issues for several years, it is really heartbreaking and it is a story with such kind of a deep magnitude that it is hard for most of imagine -- most people to imagine just how painful it is.


TEXT: This is the hardest thing for a man to know that the most important thing in his life is gone.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Manuel Gamez is living a nightmare, watching his life unravel. He's on his last walk to say goodbye to his 13- year-old daughter who has been on life support since she attempted to take her own life in early July, and the pain of knowing his attempts to cross the border failed to make it in time is too much to bear.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Manuel says he was in a detention facility in Texas when he got the news that his daughter had tried to commit suicide by hanging herself.

MANUEL GAMEZ, DAUGHTER DIED BY SUICIDE (text translation): I promised her that we would be together. I think she lost faith.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Gamez was given an ankle monitor and a 2-week humanitarian parole so he could see his daughter one last time.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Why do you think your daughter did this?

GAMEZ (Speaking Spanish).

LAVENDERA (on camera): He says she lost hope that they were going to be reunited.


LAVENDERA (voice-over): This family's story captures the often excruciating reality of desperate families separated by a border.

In 2014, Manuel Gamez was an undocumented immigrant who had spent seven years living on Long Island, New York, working as a mechanic. His father was taking care of his daughter in Honduras.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Manuel says that his father was killed by MS- 13 gang members in 2014 for not paying extortion bribes. And then after that he decided to send his daughter here to the United States to live with family members in New York and that she was granted asylum.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Gamez thought if his daughter had been granted asylum, he would as well -- but he was denied. After that, he crossed the border illegally, twice, hoping to reunite with his daughter who was now thriving, learning English and dreaming of a career in medicine while living with his sisters.

But, Heydi would often break down in tears because she missed her father. Jessica and Zoila Gamez Garcia are Heydi's aunts. Zoila was the one who discovered her after she attempted to take her own life.

Earlier that night, Heydi was distraught over learning her father was, once again, caught by border patrol and was being held in an immigration detention center.

ZOILA GAMEZ GARCIA, HEYDI GAMEZ GARCIA'S AUNT (text translation): She often cried when we would tell her that her father couldn't come. She would cry and lock herself in her room.

And when she didn't feel like talking, she would tell me I don't want to talk. I would say that's OK, and I would give her space.

JESSICA GAMEZ, HEYDI GAMEZ GARCIA'S AUNT (text translation): I feel I didn't know how to take good care of her. I feel like I failed her.

I don't know what it was. I don't know why. I don't know why I didn't know how to protect her.

LAVENDERA (on camera): What are you going to tell your daughter there at the end?

GAMEZ (Speaking Spanish).

[07:45:00] LAVENDERA (on camera): He says he's going to ask her to forgive him and that -- for failing her.

GAMEZ (Speaking Spanish).

LAVENDERA (on camera): He says that it was never his intention to leave her alone.

LAVENDERA (voice-over): Manuel Gamez was by his daughter's side when she was taken off life support. As he stood by her the day before, he caressed his daughter's hands and face and whispered, "We love you. Don't leave us."

And now, Manuel Gamez prepares to be deported.


LAVANDERA: So now they face a really difficult road because Manuel Gamez has to turn himself in to immigration authorities by not tomorrow, but the following Saturday. The funeral is on Tuesday, I believe.

And so, he -- his lawyer tells us that they're trying to figure out a way to keep him here. All of his siblings live here on Long Island and he has no one to go back to in Honduras.

So -- but it's a longshot, you know. He's attempted to enter the United States three times -- it hasn't worked out and that becomes a much more difficult fight for him now. CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, it's so gut-wrenching to watch him and all of his grief. Of course, we think of the Salvadorian father with his toddler who drowned. The ripple effect of these separations of the family members left behind and how for the rest of their lives they will grieve through all of this.

LAVANDERA: It really captures -- this isn't just a current problem. This problem has kind of gone on for a while. Like, you know, what does a family like this do, right? I won't pretend to have all the answers here, but what does this -- what does this father do?

CAMEROTA: Right. Stayed behind and be killed by MS-13 or attempt to cross into the U.S. legally, by asking for asylum. But yet, there are still these separations.

I mean, there are no good answers. There's no good answer, obviously, for the U.S. or we would have solved it already.


CAMEROTA: It's just devastating.

Ed, thank you so much for --

LAVENDERA: Thank you, guys.

CAMEROTA: -- your heartfelt reporting --


CAMEROTA: -- on all of that.

NEW DAY will be right back.


[07:50:58] CAMEROTA: New reports in British media say Queen Elizabeth may be asked to step in to stop a no-deal Brexit.

CNN's Max Foster is live in London with all of the details. So, it might take the Queen to solve this, Max?

MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST, "CNN NEWSROOM WITH MAX FOSTER": It really is extraordinary. As you know, Boris Johnson widely expected to take over as prime minister next week -- he's being very open about the fact that he is open to the idea of taking the U.K. out of the European Union without a deal.

That's worried politicians even within his own party. And some senior members of his own party have gone to the BBC and said that they are, effectively, thinking about going over Boris Johnson's head and appealing directly to the Queen. What they're going to use is this very arcane, rarely-used convention called the "humble address." It allows Parliament to appeal directly to Buckingham Palace.

She's going to hate that idea. She's built her entire reputation on staying above politics. But they're saying they could effectively force her to go to the next E.U. summit and ask for a delay in Brexit.

Well, I've spoken to the U.K.'s two leading experts on the constitution. And, Robert Hazel, University College London, tells me it's absurd -- the idea of sending her to the summit. Brexit is for heads of government, not heads of state.

And the other one, Vernon Bogdanor, told me that actually, she'll probably just respond by leaning on another convention, which is to rely and act only on the advice of ministers. So, effectively, she'd bounce it back to the prime minister. And, Boris Johnson, if it's him, indeed, will end it there.

But it does show how concerned some senior politicians are about a Boris Johnson premiership even within his own party.

BERMAN: Max --

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Max.

BERMAN: -- great concern and great uncertainty as this goes forward. Max Foster, thank you very much.

So, tomorrow marks 50 years since America landed a man on the moon and astronaut Neil Armstrong took those historic first steps on the lunar surface.


NEIL ARMSTRONG, CREW MEMBER, APOLLO 11: One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.


BERMAN: Joining me now to reflect on this milestone and what's next for the space program, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik. It is great to have you here with us.

Fifty years ago tomorrow, such an important moment. I wonder for you, who spent, what, 150 days in space -- I know you were busy when you were up there, but did you ever gaze up at the moon and just think about what that moment must have been like?

RANDOLPH "KOMRADE" BRESNIK (COL, USMC RET.), NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, absolutely, John. And thanks for having us on, on such a historic weekend.

To look up at the night sky and see that moon and know that 12 human beings walked on it, I'm sure like you and everybody else in America this weekend are still in awe of what was accomplished back then.

You know, with the technology we had and there's the national will to take that goal on that the president put -- laid out for us, and actually accomplish it within that decade, it still is a testament to what the human spirit can achieve when we set our minds to it.

BERMAN: I've loved covering the space program. I'm something of a space junkie.

So, I do not hold this view but you know it's out there, which is that we did this 50 years ago. We put a man on the moon 50 years ago and that was remarkable, and it was cool, and it was forward-looking. What we're doing now with space, you often hear, is meh.

So, how do you respond to that?

BRESNIK: Well, certainly, after having spent five months aboard the International Space Station just two years ago and seen what a great platform that is for exploration and proving out technologies that allow us to go explore further into the solar system, it hasn't been just meh.

We've been up there doing science and we did over 250 different science experiments while we were up there.

Think about the technologies of reclaiming the water. All these regenerative technologies that we have where yesterday's coffee can be today's coffee because we're able to purify the water. Applications that are applicable here on earth but also, if you want to go explore further in the solar system.

And certainly, we were at the moon where we actually put the boots on the planet. We went and planted a flag.

[07:55:02] But this time, with the Artemis program, we're going back for a sustained presence. We're going to be living there and proving out the technologies that allow us to make the moon a stepping stone onto Mars, which is the ultimate goal.

BERMAN: First of all, I drink yesterday's coffee all too often.

But secondly, talk to me about the idea of Artemis. Talk to me about going to the moon for a longer time. How important do you think it is or why is it important in your mind to go back?

BRESNIK: Well, certainly, going forward to the moon proves out the technologies that allow us to go further. We -- you know, it's -- the moon is the harshest environment that we have actually sent probes or anything to at this point.

It is just pulverized rock. There is no erosion, there's no wind. There's no rain to mull the rocks over and take off the sharp edges.

So if we can go there and have our habitats, and our hatches, and our rovers, and the wheels, and the spacesuits all survive in the lunar environment by having a sustained presence there -- well when we go to Mars, now the risk is the journey to get there and the time that we have to spend there because of over-dynamics. We can't come back just in a few days. We have to spend like about a year, year and a half there.

Then we've taken on all this risk of the hardware not working and you can go there with the confidence to know that hey, after a year, our hatches are going to work. We can still go do these surface explorations of the Red Planet.

And, you know, the moon holds so many different things, whether scientific -- you know, as a historical record of what happened in the solar system because we haven't had that erosion and changes in the moon. It's just all sitting there in the same place that it's been over time, along with the fact that there's water.

BERMAN: Right.

BRESNIK: Tons and tons of water exist on the moon. And what does water separate into? The oxygen we need to breathe and the fuel that we need for rockets.

And so, it's an in situ resource place so we can go ahead and learn how to develop that because Mars has the same thing. We've got ice that can turn into water. They can turn rocket fuel into oxygen.

And so we've got these amazing corollaries between the moon and Mars and so it's a great test bed.

Imagine if you want to take your family out on a wilderness camping expedition, you're going to go to the sporting goods store and buy your tent and your camp stove and get your hiking boots. But you're probably going to want to break in the camping -- you know, break in your boots by walking around on them.

You want to go on a local camping trip to make sure you know how to put up the tent and make sure it can survive in the weather. Make sure you can operate the camp stove and you've got enough fuel.

Well, the moon is three days away --


BRESNIK: -- and we can have the opportunity to go there and test everything out on the moon and its harsher environment so when we go to Mars then we're going to have to worry about the big things like how to shelter --

BERMAN: Right.

BRESNIK: -- the humans from the radiation and things like that.

BERMAN: I've got to say your enthusiasm is infectious.

Is your name on the list -- the moon and mars list?

BRESNIK: Well, certainly, everybody in a blue suit right now looks forward to the opportunity to go to the moon.

And with Artemis 1 flying next year for the un-crewed mission -- the first time aboard the SLS and the Orion vehicle Fly and two years later in 2022, we send Artemis 2 up with the first crew leaving low earth orbit for the first time since 1972 -- world's largest rocket ever made, the SLS aboard the Orion vehicle and we're going to go ahead and send people around the moon. Followed four years -- you know, just two years later in 2024 by Artemis 3, we're going to put the first woman and the next man on the surface of the moon -- wildly ambitious.

But guess what? We've got the technology and the expertise to do it. And now, we've got the political will to do it and we look forward to being able to doing -- you know, setting up that stepping stone lighting the path on the way to Mars.

BERMAN: I look forward to speaking to you one day -- perhaps you talking to me from the moon.

Randy Bresnik, thank you very much for being with us. I appreciate it.

BRESNIK: Thank you, sir.

BERMAN: So, the CNN film "APOLLO 11" takes you inside humanity's greatest feat with newly-discovered incredible footage. You can watch it tomorrow night, 9:00, right here on CNN.

CAMEROTA: Can't wait.

OK, thanks so much to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM WITH MAX FOSTER" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, we have new details about how Democrats and Republicans are preparing for Robert Mueller's testimony, so let's get to it.


ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public.

CAMEROTA: New details on House Democrats' game plan for the Mueller hearing next week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats are planning to focus on five areas of alleged obstruction of justice, banking on the fact that this shifts public opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans on the committee are going to try and disrupt everything that they try to do. It's going to be quite a spectacle.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The roster is now set for CNN's 2-night Democratic presidential debate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is best able to take on Donald Trump? The people will be judging them by that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A real ideological difference will be on display. The stakes are really high.


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

CAMEROTA: All right, good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, July 19th, 8:00 in the East.

Yes, it is Friday, John.

BERMAN: I'm smiling because I --

CAMEROTA: I know, because you don't believe it.

BERMAN: No, I think I finally am beginning to believe it.

CAMEROTA: That's great.

All right. CNN has new reporting this morning about the game plan the Democrats and Republicans will use in the Robert Mueller hearings next Wednesday.

Democrats' strategy will be to focus on five episodes of potential obstruction of justice by President Trump, including his efforts to fire Robert Mueller, himself, and tamper with witnesses like former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Also, there is new reporting about what caused the president to.