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Kamala Harris Campaigns in Iowa While Cory Booker Focuses on South Carolina; Interview with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Presidential Candidate; Hate Crimes on the Two-Year Anniversary of Heather Heyer's Death. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 12, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: -- people and he provides cover for hatemongers. He's been doing this -- we were talking about this off-air. This is the two-year anniversary of the Charlottesville white nationalist protest --

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Right.

CILLIZZA: -- and violence, that Donald Trump came out and said was due to bad actors, essentially, on both sides.

So we could go two years before that, right? We can go two years before that. This is who the man is. That's the only reason I would say, as it relates to Scaramucci. If he just had this revelation, he's not been spending enough time on Planet Earth because this is who Donald Trump's been, virtually his whole life.

HARLOW: He said something that struck me in the interview, that isn't going to make the headlines but I thought it was notable, and it was about the economy. He talked about the Fed, and why would the Fed have to cut rates if the economy were so strong.

CILLIZZA: Yes.

HARLOW: And the economy has been propping up this president a lot. And I guess I just wonder if you think if the economy does turn south, he -- his voice could be echoed in more and more and more business leaders, who like the policies of the president, like this, you know, bull run we've had but hate the rhetoric, that they may elevate their voice.

CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, I think that the thing with Trump's presidency, it's a, "Well, everything about him I don't like, but..." as it relates to the business world. Then the "but" is, "Well, the economy is doing well." They -- businesses like the corporate tax cuts, et cetera, et cetera.

So it's one of those things, that it keeps, I think, a lot of them in the fold because they're seeing profits, there's sort of an economic optimism. I don't know, at this point, Poppy. I just -- if it changes anyone's mind. If it goes south, sure, maybe a few more of them speak out. But I will tell you, the idea that Anthony Scaramucci proposed in that

clip, that the party needs think seriously about replacing Donald Trump, that will never happen, right?

HARLOW: Right.

CILLIZZA: The people who didn't want -- the people who would do that are the same people who tried to keep Donald Trump from the nomination in 2016 --

HARLOW: Right.

CILLIZZA: -- and you know how that one turned out. Remember, he is very popular --

HARLOW: Ninety percent.

CILLIZZA: -- one of the things he says that is true, very popular among Republicans.

HARLOW: Yes.

CILLIZZA: And Anthony Scaramucci is a prominent voice, but he is by far not representative of that Republican base that is still with Trump, 85, 90 percent.

HARLOW: Fair enough. All right, Cillizza. Always good to have your voice. Thank you so much.

CILLIZZA: Always a pleasure. Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Let's go to Iowa. Today, 2020 hopeful Kamala Harris is wrapping up a week of barnstorming the state. The California senator is on the last leg of a five-day bus tour, hoping to gain momentum ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. Those, now, just five months away.

Dozens of Democrats descended on Iowa over the weekend, paying a visit to a campaign rite of passage that, of course, is the Iowa State Fair. Joining me now to discuss is Brianne Pfannenstiel, the chief politics reporter for the "Des Moines Register."

Good morning. And have you had your fill of Iowa State Fair food yet?

BRIANNE PFANNENSTIEL, CHIEF POLITICS REPORTER, DES MOINES REGISTER: Yes. Perhaps had too much.

HARLOW: I think I do the same at the Minnesota State Fair.

All right. So let's begin with this. And Biden, the frontrunner, you know, even though Elizabeth Warren has been creeping up on him in polling in your state, significantly, he's still, you know, around 30 percent there among Democrats.

But he's had these verbal miscues. I mean, he's had these -- I don't -- gaffes, moments where he just says things that aren't true, that don't totally make sense. And then his campaign comes around and corrects them. Do the voters care in Iowa?

PFANNENSTIEL: I think yes and no. In talking with some of the people who were in the room when he's made some of these comments, you know, some people give him the benefit of the doubt a little bit. They say, you know, "He misspoke, he immediately corrected himself. We get it, we misspeak too."

But some people worry that it's becoming a pattern again, that this has been a pattern for him in the past. They worry about, you know, going up against Donald Trump. These are voters who are desperate to defeat the president, right? And so they want someone who's going to be on their game at all times.

And so I do think it is starting to creep into the mindset. I don't know that it's dissuading any of Joe Biden's staunch supporters at the moment, but it is a concern for some people.

HARLOW: There was a really interesting piece over the weekend, Brianne, that caught my attention about Biden, and specifically Iowa and the Democrats in Iowa. It was by "The New York Times'" Nate Cohn, it was in "Upshot."

And I'm not sure if you saw it, but he talked about this. Let me read it to you. "The cause of Mr. Biden's weakness in Iowa is fairly obvious: His national edge is mainly attributable to a wide advantage among black voters, and relatively speaking, there aren't many black voters in Iowa." It also talked about how Cory Booker and Kamala Harris are focusing a lot more of their attention right now on South Carolina, and that strategy. What do you make of it?

PFANNENSTIEL: Well, I would say that Joe Biden still has a lot of support in Iowa. You know, you can't forget that he's campaigned here twice in the past. And so when he goes around and he says, "I have a lot of friends in Iowa" --

HARLOW: Yes.

PFANNENSTIEL: -- he means that.

HARLOW: Yes.

PFANNENSTIEL: These are people that he's met and has maintained relationships with. And, you know, Cory Booker, for example, has one of -- scaled up his Iowa operations faster than a lot of the other campaigns --

HARLOW: OK.

PFANNENSTIEL: -- and so he's competing here as well.

HARLOW: OK. And just on Booker quickly, the polling hasn't caught up though. I mean, he's still polling around between one and 3 percent. Do you expect that to change in Iowa soon?

[10:35:05] PFANNENSTIEL: You know, it's tough to predict what the polls are going to do or when somebody is going to catch fire. But what I do think about Cory Booker in Iowa is that he has the infrastructure in place to capitalize on that moment, if and when it does happen.

HARLOW: OK.

PFANNENSTIEL: You know, we looked at Pete Buttigieg early on, he had this big moment, he caught fire and he did not have the staff on the ground at that time, to really turn it into support here on the ground. So Booker is positioned well to capture that, if and when it does happen for him.

HARLOW: OK. His team is confident. We'll see what happens. Good to have you on, Brianne, thank you very much.

PFANNENSTIEL: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: All right. Today, Democratic Senator Kamala Harris is wrapping up that five-day bus tour around Iowa, making her final three stops this afternoon. First, though, she is with us live with our Kyung Lah in Burlington, Iowa.

Kyung, take it away.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning -- yes, good morning, Poppy. This is the last day. We are wrapping this bus tour with Senator Harris. And we started out, talking about your bus tour. We are now on the final day.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.

LAH: I want to first talk a little bit about some news --

HARRIS: OK, sure.

LAH: -- this morning. Anthony Scaramucci, you're familiar with who he is --

HARRIS: Yes.

LAH: -- says that he is now neutral on the president. He is not intending to vote for a Democrat. Do you need to win over disaffected Republicans like him? And how are you going to do it? Do you need it in order to win?

HARRIS: As far as I'm concerned, I need everybody. And I plan on competing for everyone's vote, and earning everyone's vote. And I'll tell you why.

Listen, I am a proud Democrat. And I also know that what the American people want in their president, is someone who is focused on the things that keep them up at night, the things that are weighing on them, their immediate issues and concerns. And I'm prepared to address those. And so many of those, really, are experienced not through the lens of the party, which people are registered to vote, it's just life.

LAH: But what's your message to someone who's disaffected, to --

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: You know what, here's the thing. Here's part of the message. Donald Trump betrayed a lot of people. He came in office, making all kinds of promises to working people, from farmers to auto workers.

We've been here in Iowa on our bus tour for the last five days, and I've been here many, many times before that. Iowa farmers, many of them are looking at bankruptcy, soybeans rotting in bins because of Donald Trump's so-called trade policy, which has been trade by tweet, in a way that has cut off a market that they cultivated over 10 years. And now, they're looking at bankruptcy.

He said he was going to help working people. He passed a tax bill, benefiting the top 1 percent and the biggest corporations in America. He said he was going to help working people, and it is estimated that as many as 300,000 auto workers may be out of a job before the end of the year.

You look at the fact that American families right now, because, again, of his so-called trade policy, are paying $1.4 billion more a month on everything from shampoo to washing machines. He made a lot of promises, and he has betrayed a lot of people. Infrastructure Week, what happened to that? I guess we slept through that one.

LAH: Well, let's talk about something that he is announcing today. The Trump administration released a regulation that could drastically cut the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter and stay in the U.S., by making it easier to reject Green Cards and visa applications. Coupled with what we just saw out of Mississippi, the ICE operation there, what does this say to you?

HARRIS: Well, it's just an ongoing campaign of his to vilify a whole group of people, to -- as he does with so many things, be ignorant about the history of our country, who we are, how we were founded and what our values are.

And also, this is an issue that, you know, when I look specifically at what he's been doing with these raids -- listen, I serve on Senate Homeland Security Committee. I was the attorney general of California and a district attorney before that. I took on transnational criminal organizations. I mean, I tell you, put those resources where they need to be because they are limited resources.

Instead, this guy, Donald Trump, wants to send our military to the border to have some grand display based on his agenda about vilifying people and building a wall, which will never get built, because he wants everyone to be distracted from the fact that he has betrayed so many people, and has actually done very little that has been productive in the best interests of American families.

And now, he is criminalizing people, innocent people. He is locking babies up in cages. He has a policy of separating children from their parents in the name of border security, when what it has been is a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government. In those most recent raids in Mississippi, almost half of the people

that they detained had to be let go because there were -- the policy was indiscriminate. There were children who were detained, and they didn't even reach out to Child Protective Services. It is inhumane, what he has been doing.

[10:39:59] And it is not in the best interest of our values or who we are, or limited resources, or anything that's really productive. This is a guy who likes to create drama, and then come as the hero to fix it, instead of dealing with the real issues that need to be fixed for American families.

Fix the eroding bridges and roads, fix -- I mean, I can go through a whole list. Deal with climate change because guess what, guy, it's real and it's a crisis. And wind turbines do not cause cancer. Like, I could go through a whole list of what is, frankly, misplaced priorities by this administration and this president.

LAH: Let's chat a little bit about Iowa, since we are in --

HARRIS: Yes, let's do that.

LAH: -- the state of Iowa. Joe Biden has been in Iowa.

HARRIS: Yes.

LAH: He has misspoken a number of times while he is here, and I want to read you a quote from the Madison County Democratic chair. Quote, "There is starting to be a real fear that he cannot hold his own in the debate against Donald Trump." Do you share that concern about the former vice president?

HARRIS: I think that his -- you know, you can ask his campaign about that.

LAH: Are you concerned about the misspeaking?

HARRIS: I think that you have to ask his campaign about that. I think he has explanations for what he has said, and so you'll have to talk to them about it.

LAH: We have spent five days with you, here in Iowa. It's been a long five days, from the Iowa State Fair to going to farms, to your various rallies.

HARRIS: It's been a great trip. I've enjoyed it.

(LAUGHTER)

LAH: You've committed time, you've committed resources.

HARRIS: Yes.

LAH: Are you signaling an overall shift because of the time and the resources you've spend here in Iowa, that you need to win Iowa? Because there was this intentional amount of time you were spending, previously, in South Carolina.

HARRIS: Well, no. It's about an overall plan, which is to spend a lot of time in each of these places. I intend to earn the support of people. And that means I intend to work to do that. And so that's about spending time, and it's about listening as much, if not more, than I talk.

So that at the end of this process, not only will we win, but that we will be relevant. That is very important to me. And so this five-day bus tour has been about just, you know, five continuous days of being able to, frankly, go to places where, you know, there may not be an airport, but there are people who deserve to be heard and seen. And I'm really enjoying it, I'm really enjoying it.

LAH: And to the people of South Carolina, that initial strategy of leaning into the diverse vote, especially women in South Carolina, what do you say to that group of voters?

HARRIS: I want to earn your vote, and I intend to earn it. And I'm going to work at it, and you know, listen, I think that it's really important, in a campaign, much less, you know, in politics or in life, to not -- to not assume that one group is to the exclusion of the other. Because when I -- when I talk with mothers in South Carolina or I talk with mothers in Iowa, the thing that wakes them up in the middle of the night is usually the same thing.

I mean, I'll give you an example. One of the big issues in South Carolina and in Iowa, is teacher pay. That teachers, the number of teachers that I have met in both states who are working two and three jobs. In South Carolina last year, 5,000 teachers had to leave the profession because they couldn't afford to do the work. They couldn't afford to put food on their table and follow their passion, which is to teach our children.

Big issue here in Iowa. In fact, one of my first conversations as a candidate in Iowa, was just about that, which is why my policy is a policy about making what would be, in the history of our country, the first federal investment in closing the teacher pay gap, which, nationally, is $13,500 a year.

$13,500 a year, for most places, that's a year's worth of mortgage payments. It's a year's worth of grocery bills, or it means putting a significant dent in student loan debt, which is one of the greatest barriers to our students coming out and joining a profession for which they have a passion.

These issues are the same issues, be -- you know, be it talking to a mom in South Carolina or a mom in Iowa. And I guess that's also part of what I'm really enjoying about the process, is pointing out the commonalities.

You know, while we have a Donald Trump in the White House who is spending full time trying to sow hate and division between us and have folks pointing fingers at each other, what I am experiencing, what I've always known is that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us, so. LAH: Thank you, ma'am.

HARRIS: Thank you.

LAH: Thank you so much and congratulations on a very long five days.

HARRIS: Thank you. It's been fun, though. Pork chop on a stick, are you kidding?

(LAUGHTER)

LAH: She did eat pork chop on a stick. And she did --

HARRIS: Uh-huh.

LAH: -- I can tell you, Poppy, she did find it to be delicious.

HARRIS: It was really good.

(CROSSTALK)

LAH: -- back (ph) to (ph) you (ph).

HARLOW: Did -- did -- ask Senator Harris if she has had cheese curds yet.

LAH: Oh, I don't think so. We didn't stop at the cheese curd booth, did we?

HARRIS: No, but I wanted to! We walked by it.

LAH: Oh, no.

HARRIS: I noticed it. We walked by it --

LAH: Yes.

HARRIS: -- and they do -- there's a whole cheese curd thing that they do -- I mean, there's no lack of -- I don't mean to say there's no lack of pork at the state fair.

[10:45:00] HARLOW: All right.

HARRIS: So they do this cheese curd thing with bacon, wrapped up with a jalapeno pepper, I --

LAH: Could go on and on and on.

(LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: She -- all right. Well, I'm waiting --

LAH: I'm going on a diet.

HARLOW: -- for that -- I'm waiting for that, Kyung. You're not a true state fair goer in my book unless you've had cheese curds. But on a serious note, that was a very good interview, Kyung. Thank

you very much.

LAH: You bet.

HARLOW: All right. We are going to take a quick break. And ahead for us, really, an important day to mark. Two years ago today, Heather Heyer was killed while protesting hatred and white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia. Why is her death still not listed as a federal hate crime?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:50:13] HARLOW: Two years ago today, Heather Heyer died when a neo-Nazi drove straight into an anti-hate protest that she was part of in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Last month, her killer received a second life sentence after pleading guilty to nearly 30 federal hate crimes. But still, her death is not included in an annual list of hate crimes. Our Sara Sidner explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The murderous rev of a muscle car driven by a neo-Nazi, barreling into a crowd of peaceful counter-protestors, injuring nearly three dozen and killing Heather Heyer.

SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER: I miss my kid a lot.

SIDNER (voice-over): Exactly a year to the day before Heather Heyer was killed, a racist shot and killed Khalid Jabara in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The two cases made headlines around the world, becoming symbols of the consequences of the rise of hate in America. So how is it possible, two well-publicized hate crimes still do not exist in the annual federal hate crime data reports?

SIDNER: What was your first thought, when you saw this data was missing?

BRO: My first thought was WTF.

(LAUGHTER)

Because if that's not a hate crime, what is?

TEXT: Mounha Jabara/Father: He shot him! He shot him! Dispatcher: Just stay on the phone with me OK?

SIDNER (voice-over): CNN wanted to find out why the two cases weren't listed among the federal reports that help illustrate how large or small a problem is.

In Charlottesville, we sat down with Police Chief RaShall Brackney, who took the job about 10 months after Heyer was killed. SIDNER: The numbers in the FBI data do not reflect a single hate

crime from August of 2017. How is that possible?

RASHALL BRACKNEY, CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE: even the federal government did not categorize this as a hate crime until well after a year later.

SIDNER (voice-over): But the data collection starts at the local level. And it was Charlottesville Police that initially did not report this incident as a hate crime.

SIDNER: The fact that this happened at a time when you had literal neo-Nazis coming out into the streets, it seems impossible not to look at this as a bias-based crime.

BRACKNEY: A lot of the information that was being uncovered about the suspect was uncovered after the fact. Most people do not want to make a mistake and categorize something as a hate crime that cannot be proven as a hate crime.

MAYA BERRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN ARAB INSTITUTE: That's not the federal standard. The idea is not that you have to be in the perpetrator's mind to understand exactly what happened at that time.

SIDNER (voice-over): It was a researcher at the Arab American Institute that first discovered the missing data.

SIDNER: How did you discover that Heather Heyer's death was not counted as a hate crime?

BERRY: In order to get to that, I actually have to start with Khalid Jabara.

SIDNER (voice-over): For years, the Jabara family, Christians who emigrated from Lebanon, endured harassment by their next-door neighbor, Stanley Majors.

HAIFA JABARA, MOTHER OF KHALID JABARA He'd keep saying, "You filthy Lebanese, get out of here."

SIDNER (voice-over): In 2015, it escalated. Majors ran over mother Haifa Jabara, nearly killing her. Police wrote that when arrested, Majors said, "Mrs. Jabara and her family were filthy Lebanese." Eleven months later, Haifa's son Khalid called her to warn her not to come home. Majors was fighting with his husband, and Khalid had called 911 because he'd seen Majors with a gun. Khalid was shot while on the phone with his mother.

H. JABARA: There was not one single day that I don't remember my son.

SIDNER (voice-over): But police still haven't reported the killing as a hate crime because they struggled with Majors' intent.

SHANE TUEIL, SARGEANT, TULSA POLICE: Did the murder happen because he was upset that 911 was called? Did the murder happen because he didn't like the friendship that his husband had with Khalid? Or did the murder happen because Mr. Majors didn't like Lebanese people living next door to him?

SIDNER (voice-over): But prosecutors went forward, charging and convicting Majors, not just of the murder but of malicious harassment, which is a hate crime under Oklahoma law.

VICKY JABARA, SISTER OF KHALID JABARA: I don't know of a clearer-cut case as it related to hate crime.

SIDNER: He was charged and convicted under Oklahoma's hate crime laws.

TUEIL: Correct.

SIDNER: Should he have been counted?

TUEIL: Yes, yes.

SIDNER: Would you say it fell through the cracks?

TUEIL: When you look at it statistically, I could see how it could be construed as falling through the cracks.

SIDNER (voice-over): Khalid Jabara's hate crime case has still gone uncounted. These cases illustrate a national problem. Hate crime reporting is not federally mandated. Several states do have mandatory reporting laws, but numbers published by the FBI show about 87 percent of police agencies that sent in data, reported zero hate crimes in 2017.

In 2018, at a congressional hearing, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin explained the problem this way.

[10:55:00] ROY AUSTIN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: We do not have the slightest idea how many hate crimes we have in America, and we have never known. The numbers currently kept by the FBI are largely useless.

SIDNER (voice-over): The FBI agrees that the data is not at all accurate because, it says, it continually faces the issue of under- reporting at the victim and law enforcement levels, and faces the problem of law enforcement training on classifying hate crime incidents.

The latter is what a new bill is trying to help fix. It's called, the "Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act," aimed at fixing the problem by offering funding incentives to departments for reporting hate crimes.

TEXT: 118th Congress, 1st Session S. 2043: This Act may be cited as the "Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assault and Threats to Equality Act of 2019" or the "Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act."

BERRY: People don't understand how data can impact policy, how policy can impact people.

SIDNER (voice-over): But right now, America doesn't know how big its hate problem is. These families say that must change to save the next family from heartache.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HARLOW: Sara Sidner, thank you for that important reporting, today of all days.

I should note the Charlottesville Police Department told us it has updated its data to the state of Virginia in April of this year, but it may never be updated in the federal data FBI-published report. The FBI has only ever updated those, that was back in 2012.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Poppy Harlow. I'll see you back here tomorrow morning. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" is next.

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