Return to Transcripts main page


Criminal Justice May be Focus in Second 2020 Debate; Manhunt for Two Canadian Youth Suspected of Murders; Justice Department to Restart Federal Executions. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 25, 2019 - 10:30   ET



[10:31:44] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): 2020 is unquestionably the only way he gets removed from office. So we can never lose sight of that. I have tried to put the political question out of my head. That is, does an impeachment help us in 2020 or does it hurt us politically. Because I don't think it's the right question to ask.

But we do need to be realistic. And that is, the only way he's leaving office -- at least at this point -- is by being voted out.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: That's significant, from the House Intelligence chairman, Adam Schiff, putting the pressure on 2020 candidates to do everything they can to remove the president from office in the election. Of course, this comes in the wake of the Mueller hearings.

Meanwhile, the president and the RNC are looking to rally the base on the special counsel's testimony. Rebecca Buck, our political reporter, is with me now.

Good morning to you. So let's begin there --


HARLOW: -- and how significant you think it is, to hear Adam Schiff say that after he led the Intel Committee's questioning of Mueller yesterday?

BUCK: Well, it's significant, Poppy, but I wouldn't say it's surprising. Democrats, as we've seen over the past months and even years, really, during the Mueller investigation, have been very cautious and very cognizant of not trying to get the hopes of the Democratic base up too much during this process.

Of course, the word that really stood out to me in Schiff's comments there, was "realistic." He's trying to be realistic about this process. Because if you look at the Senate -- and of course Democrats have -- Republicans are in power there. So even if the House voted to impeach the president, it would be, really, an impossible battle to get the Senate to convict him.

And so Democrats, the entire time -- we've seen this in the 2020 race -- have been saying, "Well, we should just go to the ballot box" --


BUCK: -- "if we want to remove the president. Use our energy in a more productive way."

HARLOW: I'd like to spend some time talking about what we're seeing on stage today. Joe Biden is about to take the stage there (ph), speaking in Indianapolis. We've heard from Senator Cory Booker, whose campaign you follow very closely. You remember the day he announced. You were there in Newark.

BUCK: That's right.

HARLOW: And they have just made explicit that they will go after one another on the debate stage. And a lot of this is going to be about their record on criminal justice.

Now, you know, the '94 crime bill, busing for Biden: Those have been in the spotlight. I don't think Americans are as familiar with Cory Booker's record as mayor of Newark and what happened there, and where he is vulnerable to Biden's attacks. What are you expecting on that front?

BUCK: That's right. Well, we're already starting to see this strategy unfolding from former Vice President Joe Biden, trying to go after Cory Booker's record as mayor of Newark.

During his tenure, there was a Department of Justice investigation that found gross unconstitutional actions by the Newark Police Department. Basically stop-and-frisking, they were targeting African- Americans, not going through the correct processes. It was an extensive report.

And Cory Booker has long seen this as a potential political liability. He addressed this in his memoir that came out a few years ago, going point-by-point through that investigation, explaining why he reacted to it the way he did, how he dealt with it. He said, ultimately, that he was glad the investigation was conducted to help him make changes to the police department.

But this is Joe Biden's pushback as he's expecting Cory Booker to go after him on the debate stage on criminal justice reform. Biden's crime bill --

[10:35:04] HARLOW: Yes.

BUCK: -- that he authored in 1994 is going to be a big point of contention --


BUCK: -- not only from Booker, also from Kamala Harris on that stage, potentially.

HARLOW: Certainly. And, look, Jake Tapper did a good job of pressing Cory Booker on this about a week ago on "STATE OF THE UNION." But, you know, the -- what Biden's camp is saying is that Booker not only didn't welcome the Justice Department's intervention in Newark, but pushed against it. Is that true?

BUCK: He did. So there is some truth to that, Poppy. What Booker did do, is he -- initially, this started with a lawsuit by the ACLU. Booker did object to that initial lawsuit. He -- as he says in his memoir, he was upset by it. He felt that the ACLU was not operating in good faith. He felt betrayed by them.

But ultimately, he said -- he praised the DOJ's work, he thought that they did a responsible investigation. So I think that's what we're going to hear from him --


BUCK: -- if he has the opportunity to explain this on the debate stage.

HARLOW: They'll certainly get into it, I have no doubt.

BUCK: That's right.

HARLOW: Rebecca Buck, thank you for the great reporting --

BUCK: Thank you.

HARLOW: -- and of course, we're watching this. It's the vice president, live, speaking there in Indianapolis.

And there you go. On your screen, the lineups that are set for the CNN Democratic presidential debates, two big nights. Ten candidates each night, next Tuesday and Wednesday, live from Detroit, only right here -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You've got to be watching.

Meanwhile, two young Canadian men who have been missing since last week are now the prime suspects in three murders. The father of one of those suspects, now saying that his son will be dead soon. The details, coming up.


[10:41:08] SCIUTTO: The story of a big manhunt now. Officials in Canada are searching for two young men wanted in connection with three murders, including the shooting death of an American and her Australian boyfriend.

HARLOW: The father of one of those suspects says his son planned to go out in a, quote, "blaze of glory." Our correspondent Polo Sandoval is all over this story. It's gained immense interest, obviously. And now the father -- POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.

HARLOW: -- is speaking out.

SANDOVAL: Well, think about it, Jim and Poppy. The victims here are from three different countries. From the U.S., from Canada and also from Australia. The last recorded sighting of these two young men was in the Canadian province of Manitoba. That's about -- over 2,000 miles away from where the bodies of these three victims were found.

Obviously, Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler, this traveling couple who was found shot to death about 10 days ago. And then just this morning, the identity released of the third individual, who was found about 300 miles from the first scene, now identified as Leonard Dyck, a university lecturer, now described as a loving husband and a father.

So this is certainly tragic for the families of these three people. But then when you hear from the relatives of one of the suspects, Alan Schmegelsky, basically describing what he's feeling right now, and afraid that it's not going to end well for his son.


ALAN SCHMEGELSKY, FATHER OF MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING THREE PEOPLE: A normal child doesn't travel across the country killing people. A child in some very serious pain does. Mounties are going to shoot first and ask questions later. Basically, he's going to be dead today or tomorrow. I know that. I want (ph) to say (ph), "Have some peace, Beyer. I love you. I'm so sorry all this had to happen. I'm so sorry that I couldn't rescue you."


SANDOVAL: As you hear from Mr. Schmegelsky, it's quite evident there that no family is spared the heartbreak as this massive manhunt continues.

Finally, I'll leave you with a quick anecdote that was shared by Sheila Deese, Chynna's mom, who is in North Carolina, as we look at some pictures. This -- I'll tell you why this is particularly haunting for her. She recalled a few weeks back, visiting her daughter Chynna in her apartment in Charlotte as she tried to basically cram a pair of size 12 boots into her luggage.

Turns out that she actually got those boots for her boyfriend, Lucas. And if you look at this video, according to Sheila Deese, those are the boots that Lucas is wearing. It basically symbolized, again, what is what is their relationship that was growing.

According to many family members, they -- it was a couple that was going somewhere. And now, obviously, ending in tragedy and now, families in three different countries, grieving, struggling with trying to answer the question of what happened.

But as for police in Canada, Poppy and Jim, the main question is where, particularly the whereabouts -- HARLOW: Yes.

SANDOVAL: -- of these young men.

HARLOW: Wow. That's heartbreaking. Polo, thank You for reporting it out for us. We appreciate it.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, guys.

[10:44:17] HARLOW: All right. Ahead, wait until you hear this. A very rare move by the U.S. military after it sends home an elite team of Navy SEALs from Iraq. We'll tell you why one commander says they lost confidence in the team's ability to accomplish their mission.


HARLOW: So a group of Navy SEALs is being sent home from Iraq after a commander there says he lost confidence in them. It's a pretty rare move, right, Jim?

SCIUTTO: No question. CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, knows better than anyone.

Barbara, elite unit, deployed to a war zone, not sent home lightly. What happened here?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a very serious matter in the special operations community because as you say, it's a rare event. I'm not sure anybody can recall this happening any time recently.

This Navy SEAL platoon, about 20 Navy SEALs, sent home to their base in San Diego from their deployment in Iraq. And let's just read exactly what the commander had to say about that, to all of our viewers.

[10:50:08] "The commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the mission in Iraq, ordered the early redeployment of a SEAL team platoon to San Diego due to a perceived deterioration of good order and discipline within the team during non- operational periods. The commander lost confidence in the team's ability to accomplish the mission."

So what were these Navy SEALs doing? Several sources are now telling us they were drinking alcohol. It is not clear how long this went on, whether the entire platoon of 20 was involved in it. Alcohol, of course, not permitted in a combat zone.

They weren't drinking when they were on missions, we're told, but drinking in their off hours. But in a war zone, you never know when you have to pick up your weapon and go on a mission. Drinking simply -- alcohol, simply not permitted.

So it's a serious ethics violation. This team is being brought home. And to some extent, the concern is this is not the first time of a serious ethics lapse in the SEAL community. It's recently come to light, another group of Navy SEALs in the United States, actually disciplined for cocaine use.


STARR: So this is getting a lot of attention and a lot of concern, that ethics are maintained.

SCIUTTO: Yes. One of the most elite units, too. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much.

A federal judge in California, blocking the Trump administration's new asylum rule. It was put in place just a week ago. It limits the ability of migrants seeking asylum here in the U.S. if they stopped in another country along the way.

HARLOW: Let's read you part of the judge's decision here. Quote, "An injunction would vindicate the public's interest, which our existing immigration laws clearly articulate, in ensuring that we do not deliver aliens into the hands of their persecutors."

The American Civil Liberties Union, other groups challenging the government, praised this judge's decision. And the White House responded this morning, calling it "meritless."

Well, a stunning admission from the woman who leads the United States Border Patrol. She, too, was a member of that secret Facebook group where members mocked detained immigrants. The group was called "I'm 10-15," referring to the Border Patrol code for undocumented migrants in custody.

Carla Provost -- we've had on this program --


HARLOW: -- says she reported her membership immediately after news broke about the shocking commentary.


CARLA PROVOST, BORDER PATROL CHIEF: Not only did I self-report, I turned my entire Facebook account over to the Office of Professional Responsibility --


SCIUTTO: Yes, Provost has been on this program more than once, as you said, Poppy --

HARLOW: Yes, yes.

SCIUTTO: -- she denied knowing about any of the content because she says she doesn't go on Facebook very often.

[10:53:01] It has been almost two decades since the federal government put an inmate to death -- the federal government. But that's going to change.


HARLOW: All right. This just in. The Justice Department has announced that it will resume the federal death penalty. This is for the first time in nearly two decades.

SCIUTTO: Senior justice correspondent Evan Perez joins us now to explain.

This has been a penalty the federal government has imposed very rarely --


SCIUTTO: -- this will change. Will we see it used often?

PEREZ: Well, right now, the Justice Department has identified five inmates that they say have exhausted all of their appeals processes, and they expect that they're going to be able to start these executions in December.

Now, this is a process that began at the beginning of the Trump administration under Jeff Sessions, the attorney general at the time. And he ordered the Bureau of Prisons to look into how to be able to restart federal executions.

There's been a whole controversy over the protocols, especially the drugs that are used to put federal -- to put people to death under the death penalty.

States have started using a new protocol. And so what the feds are doing now, under this new order from Bill Barr, the new attorney general, is they're going to adopt essentially the same protocol that's being used in Georgia and other states that have resumed executions. The Obama administration has essentially just given up on using any of these.

So we expect that in December, we're going to get the first of these new federal executions, barring, of course, any new legal appeals that may come forward. We expect in December and January, we're going to have these five people executed.

SCIUTTO: When's the last time the federal government -- who were the last that it executed?

PEREZ: 2003 is the last one. Of course, one of the more famous federal executions is Timothy McVeigh, for the Oklahoma City bombings. But 2003 is the last time the federal government used the death penalty.

SCIUTTO: Evan Perez, thanks very much.

Poppy, quite a news day --


SCIUTTO: -- for all of us here. HARLOW: Quite a news day.

SCIUTTO: A lot in Washington. Developments coming up and we're going to stay with it throughout the week.

HARLOW: We certainly will. All right.

Thank you all for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto, here in Washington. We're turning it over now to "AT THIS HOUR," which starts right now.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR, AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN: Well, hello, everyone. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Kate Bolduan on this Thursday. Thank you so much for joining me.

It was a historic hearing without any real bombshells. So the question today is, where do things go from here, after Robert Mueller's testimony? Republicans and President Trump are declaring victory, and calling on Congress to move on.

[11:00:03] But House Democrats are trying to figure out where to go from here. CNN has learned that some are.