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Some Democratic Presidential Candidates to Speak to Union Workers in Nevada; Protests Continue in Hong Kong Over Controversial Extradition Agreement with China; Congressman John Ratcliffe Steps Down as President Trump's Nominee for Director of National Intelligence; Video Release of Man Dying While Being Restrained by Police in Dallas; Robert Kennedy's Granddaughter Found Dead. Aired 10- 11a ET.
Aired August 3, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. We are so grateful to have your company on this Saturday, August 3rd, yes, August already.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Already, moving through the summer.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, good to be with you here in the CNN Newsroom.
Nevada in the spotlight today as over a dozen Democratic presidential candidates get ready to participate in a public service union forum in just a few hours. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders will be there, among others. Each candidate will address questions from public service workers.
PAUL: The candidates are also hosting town halls, community events, panel discussions, and they're doing this across the state throughout the day. CNN Washington correspondent Jessica Dean in Las Vegas for us right now. Jessica, good to see you. What's the energy like so far?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Victor and Christi. Things just getting started of course. It's still pretty early in the morning here in Nevada. But we are expecting a number of those candidates here at this forum today. As you mentioned, this is the largest public services employee's union in the country. This is their chance to really talk to these union members.
The thing about Nevada, an early state, very important in the 2020 Democratic Party, is that you have a very large Hispanic population. You also have a large population of unionized workers. So this is these Democrats chance to really sell their message to these union workers today who are here. And when you're talking to union workers, you've got to believe
they're going to be talking about health care, what their plans are for health care. There are varying degrees of where these Democratic candidates want to go, from Medicare for all and getting rid of private insurance to expanding upon Obamacare and keeping private insurance but growing into a public option.
The format for this today is that they're going to have onstage with the candidates about 15 minutes. They'll each get to be interviewed. And then these union members will get to address them and ask them their particular questions. But again, also all of these candidates then disbursing across the state of Nevada. It's a chance to really talk to the people here, get out with the voters, get a sense of what they need, and really sell their message to the people of Nevada, which, again, will be a very critical state as we head into 2020.
BLACKWELL: So the third debate coming up in September, we're talking about the third one, we just finished with the second debate.
PAUL: Well, got to look ahead.
BLACKWELL: Yes, got to look ahead. We're learning that the DNC is making it more challenging for candidates to qualify. Who has reached that threshold? Do we know?
DEAN: Well, there's -- I think there are about -- it's an ever evolving number. It's about eight or nine people at this point. But what they're doing is for September, for this next round of debates, is they really want to up the ante, they want to make it a little more challenging to get on that debate stage. And what they're doing is kind of winnowing the field.
Now, you don't have to drop out if you don't get on that debate stage, but it makes it a lot harder for these lower tier candidates to fundraise. That's how a lot of these people get their exposure. So if you don't get that exposure, it gets a lot harder to get the fundraising, which means it's harder to get out and meet people, and that's how you really start to see some of these candidacies come to an end.
But we know right now that the top tier candidates have already qualified, so Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg. We also know Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, those are some of the names that we know will be on that stage. And others are getting close. So we will continue to see people qualify and then look to that next debate in September, guys.
PAUL: All righty, Jessica Dean, have a great day out there. Thank you so much.
DEAN: You too, thanks.
PAUL: We'll be checking in with Jessica throughout the day, by the way.
Scott Wong, the senior staff writer for "The Hill" is with us now. So when we listen to her talk about the significance of Nevada, this is one of the first caucus states as well when you look up the makeup of the voters, the Hispanic population, the union workers there. Who is most at risk, I think, today? When you are talking about a candidate being on a stage and being able to -- being asked questions by the audience, who do you think is most vulnerable to some of the questions that may be targeted at them today?
SCOTT WONG, SENIOR STAFF WRITER, "THE HILL": Well, perhaps some of the candidates that are not as friendly to labor unions, maybe some of the more moderate candidates. And so if you think about Nevada, it is the first state in the west in terms of the primary calendar. It goes Iowa, New Hampshire, and then swings out to Nevada. And so it is a key state for presidential candidates who are trying to build momentum. Obviously think about all the hotels and casinos in Nevada, all of those workers are unionized. The people that are cleaning the rooms, the blackjack dealers, people working in the restaurants, all of those people mobilize turn out for primaries. They tend to vote as a block.
[10:05:10] And so that's why you're seeing these candidates head out to Nevada. That's why it's so critical.
PAUL: Yes, 19, I think 19 of them out there. How important, because this may not be a debate, but how important is an event like this with all of them there, particularly to the candidates that are just on the cusp of making that third debate?
WONG: Exactly. Because you have folks like Andrew Yang and Julian Castro, the former HUD secretary, who are right on that bubble. Maybe they have the donors that they need to qualify but haven't yet secured that two percent in four polls that they need to put them over the top.
PAUL: Gabbard is in that camp as well.
WONG: Right, right. And so you have a number of candidates that are right on that cusp.
PAUL: Can this push them over? Let me ask you that. Can an event like this push them over?
WONG: Perhaps, but again, this is an opportunity, and especially for those perhaps eight or 10 who may not even qualify, this is a chance to get exposure. This is a chance for big crowds to hear their ideas. And as I mentioned before, labor is going to be absolutely critical in the democratic primary.
PAUL: We talked about the new DNC requirements, you have to have two percent or higher in the polls, and you have to have received contributions of 130,000 individuals. And we mentioned it, and we want to put it up on the screen again who has made it so far into debate number three, former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Booker, Mayor Buttigieg, Senator Harris, Senator Klobuchar, former Representative O'Rourke, Senator Sanders and Senator Warren. At what point -- because we just heard Jessica talk about, do you survive if you do not make it into the third debate essentially? I'm just wondering at what point do you look at the numbers or do you just look at the whole spectrum of it and go it's time to pull away?
WONG: Right. The Democratic Party, the DNC, is trying deliberately to make it incredibly tough for these candidates to qualify for these debates because they want to see a winnowing of the field, right? They don't want to head into the new year, into the Iowa caucuses with 20 people. They want to see that number scaled down so that they can rally around a nominee as we head closer and closer towards Election Day, and they want to have the party consolidating around one candidate to take on Donald Trump. They don't want a disparate field, disparate support among their entire party. And so I think that's why you're seeing a doubling of the requirements, making it two times as tough than we've seen in past debates to qualify for this third debate.
PAUL: So how will they do that? We talked about how during the second debate they took on Biden via Obama, and how now some of them now are backing off of that, because they're saying that might not be such a smart move. What is the strategy? Do you still target Biden, who is so far ahead?
WONG: You have to in order to shake up this race. We've seen Biden consistently ahead. He's ebbed and flowed, but he has been the frontrunner throughout this entire thing. And so these candidates that are polling at two percent or one percent, they need a game changer. They need something to happen. And so I think that's why you're seeing some of these candidates like Julian Castro or like Cory Booker take chances in going after Joe Biden --
PAUL: And it worked for Booker in the second debate.
WONG: Well, yes. And we'll see how these polls continue to evolve and whether he gets an additional bump. But a lot of these guys need something to change. They need that dynamic to change, or else they're going to have to drop out. They won't be able to raise any money. They won't be able to get into those next debates, and they'll have to drop out.
PAUL: Scott Wong, appreciate it so much.
WONG: OK. Thank you.
PAUL: Thank you for being here.
BLACKWELL: So we've talked a lot about the revolving door of the Trump administration, right. Members get into the administration, and then they turn around and leave. There are also plenty of people who can't get beyond the velvet rope at the door. President Trump's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Congressman Ratcliffe, he's out five days after his name was announced. There's also the scrutiny from both sides of the aisle that piled up. We'll talk about the danger of this position becoming so politicized.
PAUL: Also new video revealing another disturbing case of police brutality, allegedly. Officers seen laughing, making fun of a man as he died in their custody. The family's fight for justice now, you'll see more of this so you understand what happened. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[10:13:35] BLACKWELL: Riot police are now firing tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong, ordering them to disburse as they say they are damaging cars, setting fires, throwing bricks.
PAUL: We want to go live to CNN International Correspondent Matt Rivers who's in Hong Kong. Matt, what is the situation there right now?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a situation that we have seen before, we've talked about on your show before. This is the new normal here in Hong Kong. Behind me, that's fully equipped riot police there. They have been firing tear gas. We were in the middle of it earlier where we were moved back. We want to show here, this is a police station in this neighborhood. This is where protesters had congregated for most of the evening, and police started their clearance operation a little bit after 9:00 p.m.
And so we moved actually from well down that street. We were pushed back by these officers firing dozens of canisters of tear gas, and their aim was the people down there. You can't really see it too clearly, but there's a lot of members of the press, of course. But we're in this no man's land right now between police and protesters. And these protesters are out on the street again protesting, they want more democracy in this city, they want to withdraw a very controversial piece of legislation that kicked off all of this in the first place. They want universal suffrage, a whole list of demands. And they are becoming increasingly violent and combative against the police in they say completely justifiable ways.
[10:15:00] There are many people in Hong Kong that wouldn't agree with that. But tonight, we saw bricks. We saw graffiti. We saw sticks being used. We saw one officer's car windows being smashed inside the parking lot. So this is an increasingly violent series of events here in Hong Kong. And where it goes from here, where it ends, I simply don't know. But the momentum of these protests after nine weeks now straight is not slowing down.
BLACKWELL: So this protest, I can see there it's 10:15 p.m. there where you are in Hong Kong, is it typical for them to go until the morning? And have they become increasingly violent as the evening has stretched on?
RIVERS: Yes, it's good question. Usually what we see happen, and we should note that this day started off with a peaceful march. Organizers say 120,000 people showed up for another peaceful march. That's again, the ninth weekend in a row that that's happened. And then you get several thousand people that will stay on, and that's when if there will be violence that's what happens.
These people behind me, they were ready for a fight and they came prepared for it. But usually what happens is, oddly, it runs around the subway system. The subway system closes here around 12:30 in the morning, and most of these protesters are kids, they're not here with cars. It's the only way they can get home. So oftentimes you see things tend to wrap up around midnight.
But look where we are. That's police right there. And I showed you where the protesters were. That's a pro-democracy lawmaker who wants to talk to the cops. But where does it end? At some point the cops might move in and clear out the rest of the protesters, or maybe they're going to try and wait them out or hope they get on the subway. But we're just going to have to wait and see what happens here.
BLACKWELL: We'll see if this ninth weekend follows the pattern of the previous eight. Matt Rivers, you and the crew stay safe out there. Thanks so much for your reporting.
PAUL: Thanks, Matt.
President Trump says Congressman John Ratcliffe will no longer be nominated as the next Director of National Intelligence. He was announced less than a week ago at this point, and his confirmation seemed less likely with every passing day up to this point. A Republican Senate source told CNN there was very little enthusiasm for his confirmation, but while blaming the press for Ratcliffe's downfall, the president also seemed to say that he was depending on the media to vet his candidates. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You vet for me. I like when you vet. No, no, you vet. I think the White House has a great vetting process. You vet for me. When I give a name, I give it out to the press, and you vet for me. A lot of times you do a very good job, not always.
I think the -- if you look at it, I mean, if you take a look at it, the vetting process for the White House is very good. But you're part of the vetting process, you know? I give out a name to the press, and they vet for me. We save a lot of money that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell with us now, former FBI supervisory special agent. We appreciate you being here, Josh. Thank you so much.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Good morning.
PAUL: Good morning to you. The Director of National Intelligence is a very -- it's a very sensitive position. CNN reporting was that the intel community was up in arms, that they were very worried about this particular appointment. How much confidence does the intel community have in the vetting process, whatever that might be at the White House?
CAMPBELL: It's a good question. The president said that he relies upon the press to vet people because it saves money. I think it also causes frequent embarrassment as well. It's a very unconventional way to go about vetting these candidates for high office. As you mentioned, this is a very important position. The person who sits atop the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, and what they expect in these agencies are people, leaders that are going to be apolitical, independent, that are not going to be on anyone's side. They're going to give the White House the best available information without regard to how it might impact the president politically.
The issue here, and I think what was frustrating the members of the intelligence committee, is the notion you would bring someone in who was so political, so partisan. It's not unprecedented to have a politician in those positions. Think about the current occupant, Dan Coats, former elected official, Leon Panetta from the last administration as well who went on to work in these different high positions. So it's not unprecedented.
But what Ratcliffe brings with him is a bit of baggage. This is someone who has been on record criticizing Robert Mueller's investigation as well as peddling these early theories that there was perhaps this secret society or deep state inside the FBI working to undermine Trump. So if you're in the intelligence committee and that person is coming on board to possibly be your boss, it's going to give you pause and cause for concern.
PAUL: So let's talk about who is on deck, so to speak, Deputy Director Sue Gordon. In terms of the optics you would think she'd be the next in line. The reporting that President Trump does like her, but there are people apparently in his administration who don't think that she's the type of political loyalist to the president that he is looking for, that he wants in that role. From an intel perspective, would she be who intelligence officials would choose?
[10:20:04] CAMPBELL: Well, you just keyed in on it, someone who is loyal to the president. Obviously, we've seen this pattern with this White House, that the president likes to be surrounded by people who are loyal to him, which in certain appointee positions that's fine. You want people who are going to continue to carry on your message.
The problem is the intelligence community is different. Again, it comes down to having independents, apolitical people that are in there that are not going to make decisions based on how it might impact the White House on any given day. That's what the president wants, someone who is loyal to him. I think what the intelligence committee hopes and what I suspect Americans want in there, again, are people who are experienced. We know that Ratcliffe's had this issue based on some good journalists unearthing these issues about his candor, about his experience. He'd indicated as U.S. attorney he had prosecuted these terrorists and sent people to jail. We asked his office for a list of names of people that he sent to jail. They couldn't come up with any. So there was obviously an issue there as far as his experience.
I think what we're probably going to see from the White House, at least in a perfect world, is they would tap someone with that kind of experience. I don't know if that's going to be Sue Gordon, the current number two there at DNI, because the president's own son, Don Jr., came out on Twitter criticizing her and her connection to the past CIA director. And so if he's in the president's ear then that may be -- he may be able to persuade the president to look elsewhere. Can I say just one more thing real quickly I think that's so important
for the American people to understand, and that is -- and this gets back to that notion of independence and having experience in there -- the intelligence community is filled with professional liars. That's their job in certain instances is to lie, cheat, steal from foreign governments, to collect secrets, to inform our own national security, and to protect this nation. But there's a universal ethos that you don't lie to your own. You don't lie to each other. And so how can all of those members of the intelligence community be expected to conduct themselves with integrity and honesty if the person coming if in to take that job, I'm talking about Ratcliffe potentially, obviously before this flamed out, was someone who was on deck to get that job because of a lie. That caused a lot of eyebrows to be raised, and folks will be looking to see who they bring in next. And again, we'll have to wait and see whether that's a politician or someone with experience.
PAUL: Josh Campbell, so appreciate your input. Thank you for being here.
BLACKWELL: Thank you. Thanks.
BLACKWELL: Criticism of former president Barack Obama has people fired up on both sides. Still ahead, we'll take a look at this no thanks Obama strategy and why it could backfire for both sides.
PAUL: And Congressman Ratcliffe's bid to be DNI chief didn't even, as we said last week, we're talking about the revolving door overall, not just him but all of the nominees for top spots in the Trump administration who went out the door almost as quickly as they came in.
[10:26:24] PAUL: We want to take you back to Hong Kong right now. Take a look at what's happening in the streets there right now, that line of policemen in their riot gear as they are trying to fend off some of the protesters that are getting closer to them. They are nearing the protesters now. This has been going on for hours. This is the ninth weekend in a row that this has happened. And a lot of questions now about whether Xi Jinping is going to at some point step in to try to quell this, because this is not only a number of protests, there are a number of protests that have turned violent already, but you can see the authorities there are prepared for that right now. It's almost like they're in a standoff with protesters, as you see some of those protesters there who have come ready themselves.
Some of the protesters are wearing hard hats. They're wearing facemasks. They are ready to go, and we just don't know how far it will go today. So that's what's happening, live pictures for you from Hong Kong. We will continue to monitor it and bring you the very latest as it comes to us.
Meanwhile, Dallas police have released this body camera footage from the night a man died while in police custody. This was August of 2016. Tony Timpa was his name. He called police asking for help. Now, the video shows the officers mocking him while he yells, you're going to kill me, and in less than an hour he was dead. CNN's Ed Lavandera reports on the three-year battle for this video's release. And listen, I don't want you to be caught off guard here. Some of this is very hard to watch, and I just want you to be prepared for that. Here we go.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In August of 2016, 32-year-old Tony Timpa called 911 on himself. He was standing outside of a Dallas pornography store. He told dispatchers he suffered from schizophrenia and depression, and was off his medications. When Dallas police officers arrived, Timpa had already been handcuffed by private security guards.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't hurt me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Tony. Tony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get you some help, Tony. Just stay down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just keep him down. That's too much.
LAVANDERA: Dallas police said Timpa was arrested due to his erratic behavior. The officer body camera shows Timpa repeatedly begging for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you're going to kill me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to kill you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to kill me. You're going to kill me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, relax, buddy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chill out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relax.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you going to do? Help me.
LAVANDERA: You can hear the officers laughing and joking about the situation. The video captures 20 minutes of the interaction between the officers and Timpa. One officer uses his knee and body weight to hold Timpa on the ground face first. Timpa continues begging for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help me, help me, help me, help me, help me.
LAVANDERA: As they switch out handcuffs and then zip tie his legs together, the officers continue mocking Timpa. Nearly 12 minutes into the video, Tony Timpa stops responding. His family's attorney says a paramedic injected him with a sedative.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey Tony, time for school. Wake up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to go to school. Five more minutes, mom.
[10:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First day, you can't be late.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony. We bought you new shoes for the first day of school. Come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Made breakfast, scrambled eggs, your favorite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With waffles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rooty tooty fruity waffles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's out cold now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try and wake him up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, he just got quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden just bloop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that Narcan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here he comes.
LAVANDERA: More than five minutes passed before anyone administers CPR, and the officers start showing concern about Timpa's condition. As Timpa's lifeless body is lifted onto gurney, officers again laugh about the situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hope I didn't kill her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's all this "we" -- ?
LAVANDERA: Then the paramedic breaks the news that Tony Timpa is dead. The autopsy determined Timpa died of sudden cardiac arrest caused by toxic effects of cocaine in his system and the stress of being restrained. Tony Timpa's mother says even three years later it's excruciating to watch.
VICKI TIMPA, SON DIED IN DALLAS POLICE CUSTODY: It's real hard to hear my son scream "help me" and cry, and they laugh at him, and they torture him, and they kill him, and they have fun doing it. And think keep doing it even when he's not breathing. It's like, OK, we get this 911 call. This guy needs help. Let's go have fun with him. Let's torture him and kill him.
LAVANDERA: A grand jury indicted three Dallas police officers on a misdemeanor charge of deadly conduct. Those charges were dismissed by the Dallas County district attorney earlier this year. Prosecutors said they believe that the officers did not act recklessly. Those officers are still on the Dallas police force. Tony Timpa's family has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Dallas police, and the department says it will not comment on the video because of that lawsuit.
Ed Lavandera, CNN Dallas.
PAUL: And we'll keep you posted as to what happens with that story.
But I do want to tell you about something we're just getting into the newsroom. People in the city of Clinton, California, being told this hour to stay inside their homes because fire is breaking out across the county apparently, Contra Costa. This is about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco. But take a look at the pictures we're getting in, 500 acres have already burned. This started last night. We know that firefighters are working as we speak to try to put this fire out, or these fires, I should say. We have no word yet how it started, but we will continue to monitor this and let you know what develops. Victor?
BLACKWELL: President Trump's attempt to name a loyalist to the job of Director of National Intelligence fell flat on Capitol Hill, but Congressman John Ratcliffe is far from the first Trump pick to see his nomination really go nowhere. Joining me know, Tharon Johnson, former south regional director for Obama 2012 and president and CEO of Paramount Consulting Group, and Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and president of Robinson Republic PR. Welcome back to both of you.
THARON JOHNSON, FORMER SOUTHERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012: Good to be here.
BLACKWELL: So let's start here with Ratcliffe. This lasted five days from tweet to tweet. Tweet Sunday from naming the guy, tweet Friday, sorry, not the guy. What happened here?
BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Congressman Ratcliffe had a star turn during the Mueller hearings, was seen as one of the more effective, one of the more tenacious defenders of Trump, and one of the best attackers on the credibility of Robert Mueller. We know that that means a lot to President Trump. When you're talking about folks going in over these giant bureaucracies in the federal government, you have to understand the president's mindset. He thinks that they are staffed with people who hate him and who are determined to undermine his presidency. That's how he sees the world, and frankly, many of his supporters agree with the deep state is out there. So it makes sense if you see it from that perspective that he wants
somebody who's going to go in there and tenaciously stand up for his agenda, and tamp down the staff below it that might be trying to undermine the president's administration.
BLACKWELL: Yes, but someone who is a loyalist as the Director of National Intelligence?
JOHNSON: What Brian just explained is not governing. In this position you want someone who is going to be apolitical, someone who is going to provide the best information to the president of the United States to keep this country safe.
But Victor, this is, again, showing that this president, this administration has failed in the vetting process. President Trump doesn't care about experience. He doesn't care about talent. He doesn't care about skills. All he cares about is loyalty. And don't get me wrong, in politics loyalty is paramount. But in this particular position he has shown to countless people of his administration has been improperly vetted. And then once they get in they basically -- all these things arise, he's shown that he's not paying attention to what really the country needs. And the country needs someone in this position who's going to keep us safe, not just someone who's going to be loyal to this president.
BLACKWELL: Let's look beyond the specific position. We've put together some of, again, not all, but some of the Trump nominees or announced nominees who didn't make it to confirmation or through it, starting with Andrew Puzder at the beginning of the administration as secretary of labor, Ronny Jackson at the V.A., Vincent Viola and Mark Green for secretary of the Army, Philip Bilden, secretary of the Navy, Heather Nauert at the U.N. ambassador, Ron Vitiello at ICE director, Jason Miller, White House director of communications, Sam Clovis at Commerce, David Clarke at Homeland Security, K.T. McFarland, ambassador to Singapore, Stephen Moore, Herman Cain, both at the Fed Reserve. What is going on with the vetting process at the White House that you could put this together? Every administration has one or two that withdraw because of some revelation, but this seems to be an established pattern here.
ROBINSON: One good thing about having so many names is that if you're one of the people on the list, people quickly forget you because there's so many names on that list. If you look back at what happened during the transition in 2016 going into 2017, Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey was the head of it. They fired him very early in that process, and there was nobody who took the helm. There was a bit of chaos, and you see the result of the chaos of that deliberative process, or lack of deliberative process.
BLACKWELL: But this is no longer 2016 or 2017. It's 2019.
ROBINSON: But I'm saying, Victor, you're not seeing lists like that today. I do think there has been --
Herman Cain, Stephen Moore, Ratcliffe -- no, Herman Cain and Stephen Moore were this year. Ratcliffe was this week. ROBINSON: That's true. Part of what you're seeing there is this
technique that the president has, and you can bash it if you want, but he likes a national focus group. He does this a lot. He'll tweet something out. He'll go to his rallies and see how it's responded to. He'll see how the host on FOX News respond to it, how "FOX and Friends" responds to it. And then if it doesn't go well, he withdraws it. Where other administrations did this internally in many ways, he does it externally.
BLACKWELL: Yes, but is that the way you're supposed to run a railroad? The president says I throw a name out to the media, you vet them.
JOHNSON: It's flawed leadership, and seeing them now basically depending on you guys at CNN to help vet the candidates, that's not you all's job. You all job is to provide the facts about these candidates or these people who are being vetted to the public. But what it really just shows, this president, Brian just said it, he's basically running this White House into the ground. He's playing political football.
ROBINSON: That's not what Brian just said.
BLACKWELL: I'm sure that's not what Brian just said.
JOHNSON: But I'm saying that I think he's running it into the ground. But I think that Brian's failure to defend this reckless behavior and his inability to govern in a vetting process when you have tens of thousands of people at your disposal that could gather information on these candidates. And more importantly, what's disrespectful to these people who have basically put their lives and their families out there to actually be put on the public stage and then to basically to be withdrawn and not to be confirmed is an embarrassment.
BLACKWELL: Both of you stay with us, because we've got some more to talk about, especially the Democrats. When we come back, we'll talk about a milestone reach the majority of House Democrats now support, an impeachment inquiry, but it may not mean they're any closer to actually doing it.
PAUL: And also, we have to talk about what's happened to another member of the Kennedy family. The death of Robert Kennedy's granddaughter is opening up a new discussion about the family curse.
BLACKWELL: It's 19 minutes until the top of the hour now. A majority of House Democrats now support impeaching President Trump, or at least beginning the impeachment inquiry. Let's bring back Tharon Johnson and Brian Robinson now. So you've got a majority of Democrats, but you've got a speaker who says now is not the time. Does this threshold make her job harder to convince the caucus, hold off?
JOHNSON: Yes. And what she's going to have to continue to do is to make sure that publicly she does not say anything to make these members of the House who have supported this inquiry feel bad about it. What I know is that these members of the House of Representatives are hearing it loud and clear from their constituents. Now, what's really interesting is that Speaker Pelosi internally what I'm hearing and behind closed doors, is meeting with these members of Congress and making them sort of feel comfortable that she's hearing them and that she understands their position.
BLACKWELL: Is she just pacifying them?
JOHNSON: No, no, she's not pacifying them. What she's saying is do not forget the overall objective here. The overall objective here is to beat Donald Trump and make sure that he does not return to the White House. And I think she's clearly saying that if we are to move forward with these inquiries and to basically create a pathway towards impeachment, it may backfire on us. And so I think what she's doing in a methodical way is weighing both sides.
BLACKWELL: That's exactly the opposite of what she's saying when she has this news conference and says this is not going to be political, but hold off because we really just want to get Donald Trump out of the White House. If she's -- this is specifically political. Your thoughts?
ROBINSON: Impeachment is implicitly, by definition political. It is a process for taking someone out of office that's not through the judicial law system. It's totally political. And look, I can't believe that I am sitting here saying that Nancy Pelosi is the voice of common sense, but she is the voice of common sense on this. This would be devastating for Democrats. They had historic pickups in 2018 talking about kitchen table issues, not talking about impeachment.
As Joe Biden said this week, the case for the American people is for them to decide next November, period. This does not need to go to the U.S. House. We do not need this distraction. As a Republican, let me tell you, bring it on. Bring it on. This would be great politics for Donald Trump. It would make the Democrats look even more unhinged than they looked in their debates these last months. And Americans don't want it. They've had enough with the Mueller investigation. They've had enough of the probes, the endless probes by the Democrats in Congress. They want to move on and get some stuff done. If they focus on this for the next year, it will be the best thing that could possibly happen to Donald Trump other than them nominating the worst possible nominee.
JOHNSON: But one of the things I don't want us to forget, there are some things that this president has been accused of, has been alleged that is impeachable. And so let's not forget that Robert Mueller basically said that this president has not been exonerated, and let's not forget also that to impeach a sitting president is almost kind of impossible, right.
And so I don't want to take the facts away that there are some things that these people feel that are impeachable, but Brian just laid it out is that the minute you go down that road and you don't have the votes or the process to actually impeach this president, you open up a whole other can of worms. [10:45:04] But listen, I agree, the number one way to get rid of
Donald Trump is to make sure that voters have all the information they need to why the Democratic nominee is a better choice, he or she, than this current president. And that way you make sure he doesn't return.
But I do say this, Victor, that I am hearing more and more that the groundswell is growing for this impeachment. So Speaker Pelosi is in a very, very tough position, because we know that while it's a simple majority, I think that majority of people who want this president impeached will grow.
BLACKWELL: Can you give me a five second answer when the drop dead date if they want to start this process they've got to do it. Jackie Speier says September. Is she right?
JOHNSON: I think it's going to be a little longer than that. I think you can get until November.
BLACKWELL: OK, all right. Tharon Johnson, Brian Robinson, always good to have both of you. Christi?
PAUL: We're still waiting this morning for an official cause of death for the granddaughter of Robert Kennedy. She wrote about her battle with depression, very candid about it. She's being remembered for her generous spirit, but what we're learning this morning about it all. Stay close.
PAUL: It's 49 minutes past the hour right now, and the Kennedy family again this morning, they're mourning after the granddaughter of former presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was found dead at the family's Massachusetts compound. Saoirse Kennedy Hill was her name. She was just 22 years old. And Jean Casarez has the very latest on the investigation from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
[10:50:22] JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Cape and Islands district attorney office is saying that the jurisdiction is now with the chief medical examiner. An autopsy has been performed. There was no sign of trauma on her body, inconsistent with those lifesaving maneuvers. They are now awaiting toxicology results, which should determine the cause and manner of death.
Saoirse Kennedy Hill's family is saying that they are devastated by this loss, their hearts are shattered, that her life was filled with hope, with promise, and with love. In 2016 when she was a student at Deerfield Academy, she penned an op-ed saying that she did suffer from depression. She said that sometimes it would come and go, that it began during her middle school years, and that her friend depression would suddenly show up. She said that at points there were deep bouts of sadness, and then they would go away, even though she said she had a happy childhood. We do not know the cause of death of this young 22-year-old woman, but
one thing is for sure, the tragedies that have befallen the Kennedy family throughout the course of years are here once again.
Jean Casarez, CNN, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
PAUL: Jean, thank you so much.
We want to show you what's happening right now in Hong Kong. You can hear the noise. You see the authorities there dressed in riot gear with their shields, with their helmets on as they move forward toward a group of protesters this morning. This group of protesters, we understand, has just charged forward towards police. That alone broke a 40-minute standoff. Police responded by firing more tear gas. But again, this is what's happening there now. We will continue to follow more on the other side of the break.
[10:55:51] BLACKWELL: This week CNN's Hero has made it his life's mission to give the children of Haiti a safe haven.
DANIEL TILLIAS, FOUNDER, THE COMMUNITY CENTER FOR PEACEFUL ALTERNATIVES: Inside of this garden it's joy, happiness and peace. We collect that tires that burn and we use them as planters. People eat from what they actually grow. We opened a community library to all the schools. We help kids manage their anger. We can't let the children of Haiti lose the only thing that they have left, which is their hope.
BLACKWELL: To see Daniel's full story, go to CNNheroes.com.
PAUL: Thank you so much for being with us. We hope you make good memories today.
BLACKWELL: There's much more in the next hour of CNN Newsroom. Fredricka Whitfield is up next.