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Trump Taps Ratcliffe for Intel Chief; Harris Unveils Medicare for All Plan; Trump Attacks on Rep. Cummings; Americans Accused of Murder in Italy. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 29, 2019 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: An update on the break news this morning.

A deadly mass shooting at a food festival in the town of Gilroy, California. Three people were killed, 11 others injured. We've learned that one of the victims is a six-year-old boy. Six years old. Stephen Romero was his name. Look at that picture. His mother and his grandmother were also shot. Police say officers confronted the gunman almost immediately, fatally shooting him. Authorities are investigating whether a second suspect was involved.

As we speak, police say they have no motive for the shooting. They say the site of the Garlic Festival is still considered an active crime scene.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, moving on to this.

President Trump has nominated Congressman John Ratcliffe to be the next director of national intelligence. Now that position is supposed to be non-political, non-partisan, but Ratcliffe is a loyalist of the president and he has even peddled in conspiracy theories about the FBI.

So back with us are Andrew Gillum, Kirsten Powers. Also joining us is CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd.

Phil, I'll just start with you because this is bigger than just a personnel change. This is not just another -- oh, also we should mention your new book, "Black Site: The CIA in the Post 9/11 World." We love that book.

All right, the idea that he's replacing DNI Dan Coats is a very big deal. Obviously there have been a whole host of personnel changes in President Trump's administration. This is different. Dan Coats was trying to stave off Russian interference in the upcoming election. Seven days ago, Dan Coats had just created a new role to coordinate election security which he was going to oversee. To replace Dan Coats with Ratcliffe, Congressman Ratcliffe, who we saw at, you know, at the latest hearings who is a huge President Trump loyalist, what does this mean? PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, this -- this is going

to make the intel guys, and I'm among them, former intel guys, pretty nervous. The reason is pretty simple. The president has a right, if he wants to, to appoint a partisan. Mike Pompeo was the director of the CIA. He's a hard core conservative congressman formerly, now secretary of state.

The question that's going to come up is, when you appoint that partisan, is that individual going to represent truth to power, speak difficult words about things like not only Russia but what about North Korea when they start suggesting that they're not complying with any hold on their missile or nuclear program? What about the story about the Saudi leadership complicity in the murder that the president doesn't want to hear, the murder of a journalist in Turkey? The question is not partisanship, the question looking at the record of the congressman is going to be, does he represent the intel or does he represent the politics? Right now I wouldn't be sure.

BERMAN: Is he qualified, Phil? Do you think he is?

MUDD: I think he's less qualified than some of the players we've seen in that position, which has been around since 9/11. For example, you look at somebody who appears on CNN. James Clapper, very well regarded in the intel world for his experience. Mike Hayden was a senior position over -- General Hayden over at ODNI. If you compare the resumes of the congressmen versus them, he's going to lose by a wide margin. Intel guys can do it. Leon Panetta didn't know a lot about intel. He was a great CIA director. So he can learn the business, John. The question is whether he comes in with an agenda. And that's going to make people nervous.

CAMEROTA: Kirsten, this is from "The New York Times" about how some of the lawmakers feel. Some Republicans, however, privately express concern, including Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intel Committee, who cautioned the president's advisers that he considered Mr. Ratcliffe too political for the post, according to people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Trump disregarded that warning.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, well, because what Donald Trump wants is somebody who's just, first and foremost a loyalist to him. I don't think he's that interested in having people who have experience. And I think Dan Coats was sort of -- was an extreme mismatch, to say the least, for Donald Trump. I mean this is somebody who helped craft George W. Bush's compassionate conservatism, you know, agenda. So it's the polar opposite of Donald Trump.

[06:35:05] And so when -- when Donald Trump came in, I think he felt like he needed some legitimacy and so he was choosing the sort of Dan Coats of the world and these different people to help him to confer some legitimacy on his presidency because he didn't have experience in Washington. I think now he feels very comfortable where he is and he doesn't think he needs that anymore and he just wants yes men, he just wants people that are going to do what he tells them to do and -- and are being extremely partisan. BERMAN: John Ratcliffe's experience is he was mayor of a town of some

8,000 people in Houston. Also worked as a U.S. attorney outside Dallas with focus on terrorism. But he is well known, mayor, for his role in these hearings.


BERMAN: And just last week, instead of talking about the Russian attack on the U.S., he kept on asking Robert Mueller why he wasn't investigating how much Russia helped Hillary Clinton.

GILLUM: Yes. I mean basically chasing into the ground these conspiracy theories that have been pretty well circulated in strong, conservative, extreme circles. But for -- all along we've always known that the congressman has been rehearsing for this position. The hearing that we saw last week again was another trial for an audience of one. And that is Donald Trump. And what is, I think, most troubling here about this nomination, but also, frankly, a (INAUDIBLE) of them coming from the president, that is, is that the president is making these selections, not from individuals who were in the best interest of the country, but of those individuals who are going to be there to have his back.

The attorney general of the United States is the attorney general for the people of this country. Their interest is the interest of the American people.

On the census, again, another opportunity to make a long play for politics. How do you decrease the number of minority representation in the Congress and lose some of those seats because the demography doesn't happen to be going in their direction? All of these political decisions, in my opinion, ought to not just trouble those of us on my side, who are on the Democratic side, but I think people who are loyal patriots who care about this country and believe these roles are to serve the people of the United States and not just the president.

BERMAN: All right, mayor, Kirsten, Phil, thank you very much.

Senator Kamala Harris has shifted on the campaign trail when it comes to health care, but now she is laying out her plan. That plan out just moments ago. We'll give you new details. And this is very interesting in how she wants to position herself for the CNN debates this week. We'll give you that new information, next.


[06:41:20] CAMEROTA: OK, we have some breaking 2020 news. Presidential candidate, Senator Kamala Harris, has just unveiled her Medicare for all plan.

And CNN's Kyung Lah is in Detroit with us with the details.

What have we learned, Kyung?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a plan that is fresh just as of the top of the hour. Before I get to exactly what's in this plan, let's note the timing of

this. This is being released, Alisyn, a day before the Democratic debate starts. She had been criticized for weeks now about what exactly does she believe? Well, she is now putting it on paper.

Here is her plan. It is a Medicare for all plan. Right, Kamala Harris, in a "Medium" post, that published at the top of the hour. It puts her squarely in between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders ideologically because it scales up the current Medicare system. It leaves in place what we know as the traditional Medicare program.

But in today's Medicare, there's also private insurance. A private insurance option known as Medicare Advantage. About a third of Medicare enrollees take advantage of that. So under Harris' plan, there is a place for private insurance. That's very different from Bernie Sanders, who would eliminate all private insurance.

The second thing she does is she expands the transition time. Under Bernie Sanders' plan, he believes that he can transition in four years. Senator Harris saying that is not realistic for her. She wants a smooth transition of ten years.

And then the biggie. She has no middle class tax hike. It is a promise she made here on CNN. She says under her plan there will be no tax for families who make less than $100,000 a year. And that there would be a progressive tax for anyone who makes -- households making, John, over $100,000 a year.

And, you know, I spoke to a tax person yesterday, John. He says it is feasible, although there hasn't been an exact study of how long a ten- year transition would potentially cost.


BERMAN: All right, Kyung Lah here with us in Detroit. Very interesting, as you say, the timing of this. This gives Senator Harris something to talk about to go on the offensive with rather than trying to defend sometimes changing positions on health care. We will watch this very closely over the next two nights.

In the meantime, President Trump stoking racial division. It appears to be a plan going into the 2020 election. We'll talk about how effective it will be and the right way for Democrats to battle that, next.


[06:47:51] BERMAN: This morning the country's faced with a question of how to respond when a president says racist things. Democratic presidential candidates who will debate here in Detroit over the next two nights faced with the challenge of how to confront that in a campaign. The president spent the weekend attacking African-American Congressman Elijah Cummings, calling his Baltimore district "rat infested" and questioning how any human could live there.

Joining me now is Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia, and author of the new book "Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand against White Nationalism."

Governor, thanks for being with us.

I spent yesterday afternoon reading this book. And the timing is fascinating given the president's comments because I want to read to you back a quote that you wrote in this book.


BERMAN: You said Donald Trump -- and you're talking about the day after the Charlottesville events -- chose that day to come out as a white supremacist. He chose that day to come out as a dyed-in-the- wool, unapologetic racist. It was his coming out party that day. No more room for any doubt that this man was at heart a racist and hater.

What made you believe that then and do you still believe that this morning?

MCAULIFFE: And, listen, that was tough to write that, but, you know, I was governor when Charlottesville occurred. I had talked to the president of the United States on Saturday, early in the day, explained to him what had happened in my state, that I had a thousand white supremacists neo-Nazis come in, John, screaming the most vile things I've ever heard about African-Americans, members of the Jewish faith. And, you know, people used to wear hoods. They don't feel they have to do that anymore.

And I told the president what was happening in Charlottesville. I appreciated that he called me. And he said he was going to go out and do his press conference. I would wait for mine. And then, John, time went by. Hour, hour and a half, two hours. He did not come out and do his press conference. And what I write about in the book, what actually happened, that was the decision point in his presidency where he decided that he was not going to come out and he wanted to defend neo-Nazis and white supremacists. That was a calculated decision. He and his advisers in the White House spent that time debating. And his advisers said, you're not going to attack neo-Nazis. You're not going to do it.

[06:50:05] So he came out and said there were fine people on both sides. There were not fine people on the neo-Nazis, carrying their swastikas with a gentleman who weaponized his car and killed Heather Heyer. I lost two state police in a helicopter crash that day. They were horrible white supremacists neo-Nazis. They were not fine people.

Heather Heyer was a fine person protesting against hatred and she was killed that day. And the president should have been the moral leader. He should have stood up to the world and said, we do not condemn this type of behavior.

As I said later in the day, go home. Leave Virginia. Leave this country. You're a bunch of cowards. You're not patriots.

I had to do what the president of the United States should have done. It was a calculated move, John, on his part. And now we see it with Elijah Cummings and "the squad." This is who he is. He has come out as a full-fledged white supremacist, supporter of -- how could you be a supporter of the neo-Nazi movement? How hard is it to condemn neo- Nazis who exterminated 6 million members of the Jewish fait?

BERMAN: Well, "The Washington Post," when it talks about what we've seen over this weekend, and maybe the last few weeks with the president's also attacks on members of Congress who are women of color, "The Washington Post" says that Trump's advisers had concluded after the previous tweets that the overall message sent by such attacks is good for the president among his political base, resonating strongly with white working class voters he needs to win re-election in 2020.

Do you think there's a sound political strategy in what the president is doing?

MCAULIFFE: John, that sickens my stomach when I hear somebody in the White House say something like that. This is not about politics. This is not about re-election. The president of the United States of America is the moral leader. The world looks to America. And when we're divided, as is happening now because of Trump's record, he has failed as his duty as commander in chief and the moral leader of the United States of America. We are the greatest nation on earth. People around the world look to us. And that's why -- how did these folks, John, think that they could come to Charlottesville, literally look at the synagogue and say we're going to burn that down and we're going to burn you like we did in Auschwitz? How do we get to a place in America?

I do not blame the president for specific acts, but I do blame Donald Trump because of his rhetoric that people feel that it is OK to scream their vile language and bring their hatred. I blame him for the tone that he has created in this country that divides people. People said in Charlottesville, when you read the book they're quoted, we felt empowered by Donald Trump. And that is a bad place for our nation to be. And that's why in the debate coming up, John, coming up this week, I want to see these Democratic candidates talk about how we can heal America, how we can bring America together, because we are stronger as a nation. We are a mosaic tile when we all work together.

BERMAN: Governor Terry McAuliffe, we miss you out here in Detroit.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks for being with us this morning.

MCAULIFFE: I'll be out there with you tomorrow, John.

BERMAN: Terrific. The book is "Beyond Charlottesville." It's a terrific read. We appreciate your time this morning, governor.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, John, now to this. An Italian police officer is murdered. And two American teenagers are

accused of killing him. So we go live to Italy for the latest evidence, next.


[06:57:34] CAMEROTA: Authorities in Italy say they have found the knife and blood stained clothing hidden in the hotel room of two American teenagers who are accused of stabbing to death an Italian police officer.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau is live in Italy with the very latest.

What do they know about this, Barbie?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the investigation in Italy is going on parallel to what's happening here, which is the funeral for this 35-year-old police officer. But police this morning tell us that the seven inch knife that was allegedly used by these suspects in the murder of the police officer was brought from the United States by one of the suspects.

Now, it's important to note the narrative has been driven by the police from the very beginning of this investigation. And the scenario that they were involved in a drug bust, in a botched drug deal, and the cops were under cover, the one that was killed allegedly by these Americans, was part of some sort of investigation. It's so unclear, though, the details at this moment. And we don't have a solid defense voice yet on this matter, Alisyn.

But what is happening right now here behind me is the funeral of this officer. This tiny little town in southern Italy where 40 days ago in the very same church he was married. And he had just returned to active duty from his honeymoon when this -- when this murder took place. The young guys are still in jail in Rome about three hours up the road. And we'll know more as the week progresses.


BERMAN: That's just horrible. All right, Barbie Nadeau, thank you very much.

Listen to this. An outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin may have been poisoned by an unknown chemical substance. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was hospitalized with an acute allergic reaction following his arrest last week. He was sentenced to 30 days in prison for violating the country's protest laws.

On Sunday, a spokesman said Navalny was experiencing severe swelling of the face and redness of the skin, adding he never had an allergic reaction before. On Saturday, more than a thousand other protesters were detained by police in Moscow in a crackdown on opposition supporters demanding free and fair elections.

CAMEROTA: A deadly mass shooting at a food festival in northern California. NEW DAY continues right now.

[07:00:02] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: All right, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.