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NEW DAY

Epstein Not Checked On For Hours, Guard Was Substitute; Trump Administration Announces Rule That Could Limit Legal Immigration; Is Congress Going To Do Anything After Mass Shooting; 2020 Democrats Take Aim At The Media. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 07:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: -- brutal attack.

[07:00:01]

All right, Ryan Young, thank you for these new details. Thank you very much for that.

New details in the investigation of Jeffrey Epstein's death, New Day continues right now.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me. You have me tongue-tied already this morning.

ERICA HILL, CNN NEW DAY: I'm sorry.

BERMAN: You have an effect on me. I know.

HILL: Good morning.

BERMAN: We do begin with important new developments in the death of Jeffrey Epstein behind the walls of one of the country's most secure prison. CNN has new details of serious irregularities at New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center. One of the two people assigned to monitor Epstein on the day he died was not even a full-time guard there. That person was filling in with budget cuts and staff surges, facing many employees to work 18-hour shifts.

HILL: The investigation of Epstein is nowhere close to over despite his death. CNN has learned prosecutors are examining the convicted sex offender's inner circle of associates. Some of them may have helped him with the sex trafficking of underage girls.

BERMAN: All right. CNN's Kara Scannell live in Washington for us with the very latest on this story. Kara, tell us what you've learned.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPOTER: Well, good morning, John. I mean, that's right, one of the key things that we're are learning in this is that one of the guards who was responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein was not in fact a trained correctional officer, though it's not clear what that person's full-time job is. But that person who was one of the two guards there who was supposed to ensure Epstein's safety was not actually trained for that.

And a representative for the one of the unions representing a police at the Metropolitan Correctional Center where Epstein is housed, you know, saying that this is because of understaffing. Both of the guards were on overtime shifts. One of the guards, we're not sure which one, was serving his fifth overtime shift. So there was a lot of pressure on the guards. They are saying that they were understaffing. And employees say that this house relates to budget cuts and hiring freezes that were put in place at start of the Trump administration.

Now, those hiring freezes were lifted in April but employees say it has taken its toll. We have also learned that there was another breach in protocol when Epstein was removed from suicide watch. He was put in a special housing unit. And in that unit, the guards are supposed to monitor the prisoners every 30 minutes, even wake them up if they have to.

What we've learned is that Epstein hadn't been checked on for hours Friday night to Saturday morning when he was found dead in his cell.

All of this has angered Attorney General Bill Barr. Here is what he had to say yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability.

But let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice, and they will get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCANNELL: And in a sign that this investigation is continuing, FBI agents from the New York Field Office were in the U.S. Virgin Islands yesterday. They were on sight at Little St. James. That's the island that Jeffrey Epstein owns. They were there collecting additional evidence.

John, Erica?

HILL: Kara, thank you. We'll continue to follow those developments.

In the meantime, a major policy change by the Trump administration is trying to dramatically limit legal immigration into the U.S. The so- called public charge rule would make it more difficult for people who are here, again, legally but relying on some form of government assistance, Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers, some of the examples. It would make it harder for them to get a green card. The new criteria favors wealthier, more educated immigrants.

BERMAN: All right. I want to discuss this now with Dana Bash, CNN Chief Political Correspondent, John Avlon, CNN Senior Political Analyst, And Bianna Golodryga, CNN Contributor. And I just want to note because I do think it's interesting for the purpose of this discussion. Bianna, you're an immigrant, you came from Russia, John, the grandchild of immigrants, Dana, grandchild of immigrants. I practically came on the Mayflower compared to you people, and fairly great grandchildren, great, great grandchildren.

So that's what colors this discussion. What is the Trump administration really trying to do here, Dana, because we're talking about legal immigrants and really raising the bar?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT. It's -- I think it's obvious it's on its face, you see what they're trying to do, which is the president has said he wants to move the local immigration system to a merit-based system.

[07:05:08]

And what he means by that is people who can come and have money, people who can come and live without needing the assistance of the U.S. government.

And that is just a very different practice than we have seen in recent times. Maybe not historically, there have been, you know, ebbs and flows in how the United States takes in immigrants based on the times that they were in. But this is a huge departure from recent times, and it is basically what the president wanted to do legislatively, couldn't get through as part of a larger immigration package back when they were pretending to have bipartisan discussions. And so he's doing it on his own.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And he's also moving the goal post, right? Remember the conversation went from legal versus illegal immigration, and now this applies to legal immigrants who are here utilizing the government safety net. There is obviously a reason to question those who do abuse government safety nets, as too many U.S.- born citizens as well.

That having been said, we met some of the criteria when we moved here. We were from a white country, Russia, educated parents, they had a young child. But my parents didn't speak English. We were allowed to leave with $75 a person each. We had the help of HIAS, which is the Jewish resettlement program here in the states.

But to think that people move to this country with a boatload of money to resettle is just pie in the sky theory. I mean, you have rare cases of people coming here wanting to resettle their entire families being able to support themselves fully. It's just not this case. And so people come here, they need help to resettle.

Everyone has these stories where they rely on government subsidies, government help to get them on their feet, right, get them language skills, get them employment. So I don't know where you draw the line between people who come here and make use of government programs. Maybe you say after a year or two or three, what have you, if you're on these programs, we'll reevaluate. But to just have this blank statement, people just can't come and rely on our safety nets, it's absurd.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And it shows that that argument, the delineation between we're going to open legal immigration but crack down on legal immigration isn't true, that instead there sometimes to be an animus against immigration, period. And you look at everyone here at this table and look at people working in the White House today, look in the mirror and say when and how did my grandparents or great grandparents come here.

People come here because they're in economic or political distress. And they come here because they want to work for a better life. And that's what we should be encouraging. The poem on the Statue of Liberty says, give me your tired, your poor, your tempest-tost, yearning to be free. And what this policy does is say GTFO.

BERMAN: Yes. And, look, the reason people question the intentionality of this and what they are really trying to do is because of the president's own words in times, Right? Who can forget The Washington Post story, Josh Dawsey and others wrote about that meeting inside the White House where the president said, why are we having all of these people from S-hole countries come here. Trump then suggested the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway.

BASH: This is exactly what the rule is intended to do. I mean, don't think we should dance around it. It is intended to keep people from S-hole countries out of America. And until this rule, and we'll see if it stays because it's already being challenged legally and in the courts, and especially without congressional approval, it's hard to imagine that the president is going to be able to really keep those, but we'll see.

This is intended to get around the Congress and keep the immigrants, legal immigrants from S-hole countries out because they can't stand on their own.

GOLODRYGA: And the silence from Republicans is deafening, right? Because in the past, this going back, obviously, we're not talking about legal immigration, we're talking about legal immigrants, Republicans tended to embrace this because it added to the economy, it contributed to the economy, especially in states like Texas, like California, where immigrants came in, they were typically younger families, many of them got college degrees here. They have larger families than many native born Americans as well, so they contributed to the economy.

Democrats viewed this as a plus also because they viewed at least from a political standpoint that many of them would vote Democrat. But this is a huge shift from Republicans. And to see that they're silent right now is a bit startling.

AVLON: Immigrants create more companies, they win more noble prizes. You want to know what makes America great, immigration.

HILL: You know what else is interesting too, we have looked up some of these numbers, because they're talking about the numbers, right, what you would have to meet, people who would likely be using some of these programs, albeit more than 250 percent of the poverty line, right, wouldn't be likely to be declared public charges. So that's about $64,000 a year of what you're bringing in. That's actually below the median household income in the United States, so just closer to 61,000. It's a difference of $3,000.

[07:10:00]

But when you look at the median household income, there are plenty of U.S. citizens who need assistance. And we're are looking at people here legally, who are trying to stay to get that green card and there have been, you know, where we've heard anecdotally there's information from WIC, saying we are seeing people ask to be dis-enrolled because they are afraid when they heard this was coming down last year, they were afraid it could reflect negatively on them, and they wouldn't be able -- so they're foregoing nutrition for their children because they're worried they're going to get kicked out even though they came legally.

BASH: Absolutely. I mean, in The New York Times, there was a story this morning where there's a pregnant woman who was married to an American citizen but they need help financially who was worried about financial assistance to that point.

And, look, I think we have to keep our eye on the ball to what you said, John, which is this is a philosophical and ideological change in what the country -- this country was founded on, and for many, many years at Ellis Island and elsewhere was known for and it is a shift, and it is a shift in keeping with the ideology of this president, which is different.

GOLODRYGA: And ask any immigrant without being sappy here, you ask my parents, ask most immigrants, whenever you talk about people who love this country the most, it is immigrants because they realize how special, how fortunate they are to be in this country. They obviously left a country where they came from for a reason, for a better life. So it would be sort of slap in the face by saying that we're not going to provide services for you to make your life in America, I think that's upsetting for a lot of immigrants.

BERMAN: But, John, how will this play in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, given that we're practically in an election year? How will a move like this play? I can see it perhaps being something that the president would want to run on in some places.

AVLON: Maybe. But remember, there's actually a great tradition of immigrants resettling in the Midwest. My grandparents came from Greece and Buenos Aires in one case to Youngstown, Ohio. So there is an immigrant tradition that is well within living memory. So you risk alienating those.

Now, are there folks who are doing a distinction between current waves of immigration and their parents, that old shut the door after my family gets in impulse? Sure. But, again, what this does is cuts against the core common sense promise of saying we're going to crack down on illegal immigration but we are going to open and encourage and streamline legal immigration, this shows that that's been a lie. And I think that goes against fundamental values.

So you're playing a dangerous game if you're predicating your politics on that kind of stuff.

GOLODRYGA: You could make the hypocrisy argument too. I mean, we've got an administration that's providing billions of dollars of subsidies for farmers, right, because of your trade war. So, on the one hand, saying that we're not going to provide a safety net for immigrants that are already here versus we're already providing a safety net because we want to implement our own policies and it may not be helping some farmers whose votes we need.

BASH: But, John, I think in some ways, it hasn't been a lie. It's just that people have heard what they want to hear. The president has said, yes, crack down on illegal immigration, streamline legal immigration. And what he meant by that is make it so that legal immigrants are from wealthier countries, which tends to mean, in many cases, look more like us.

AVLON: This is H-1B visa, right? And can get H-1B visas without saying we need to punish the poorest immigrants who come here legally.

BERMAN: Let me (INAUDIBLE) with a milestone according to The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, who tracks this closer than anyone, the president has now made 12,019 false or misleading claims over 928 days. He's averaging about 20 false or misleading claims a day. 1/5 of them -- interestingly enough, 1/5 of them were about immigration, says Glenn.

AVLON: Do any of us know anyone in our own lives who lie 20 times a day? We are past the point where the term pathological seems to apply to the president.

BERMAN: All right. Dana, Bianna, John, thank you very much for that.

One week, it is just one week after the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso. What is Washington doing this morning to change the gun laws? Have you heard anything today? Did you hear anything yesterday from the president on this?

We're going to speak to Democratic Presidential Candidate Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio who is in the middle of this battle, as we speak, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:15:00]

BERMAN: President Trump says bipartisan talks are underway for improving background checks for guns when the Senate gets back from their month long recess in September. So does that mean there's hope in 2019 for meaningful gun legislation?

Many of the 2020 Democratic candidates say that change needs to happen even faster. Joining me now is Democratic Presidential Candidate and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who really, for the last nine days, Congressman, has been in the middle of this battle, nonstop.

So my question to you is, as we sit here on Tuesday morning, a mere 9 1/2 days after this attack in Dayton, the president hasn't mentioned battling gun violence in three or four days. He has been talking about all kinds of other stuff, but not that. I haven't heard anything necessarily from the Republican side in the Senate. So how do you assess where this discussion is this morning?

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First, it's appalling that this can happen back-to-back, El Paso, before you go to sleep, Dayton when you wake up, the first alert you get is about what happened there, and absolutely nothing from the Republicans.

And I don't want this to be a partisan issue at all. I mean, the legislation we have at the Senate has the support of 80 to 90 percent of the American people, over 70 percent of hunters and gun owners support a universal background check.

So this is appalling that Mitch McConnell wouldn't go back to Washington, D.C., call the Senate back, pass these two pieces of legislation. So what we have to do is do is from without. There are a bunch of rallies this week, and we're having a big one in Cleveland, Ohio, with Moms Demand Action, and every town, and Sandy Hook, all of these groups are coming together. We've got to apply the pressure from the outside.

And what Mitch McConnell and President Trump need to realize is the ground shifting underneath them. And there are Republicans, there are veterans, there are hunters who are all saying enough is enough.

BERMAN: Let me play devil's advocate though.

[07:19:07]

Is the ground shifting underneath him in the Sense that if, and I've heard this is a delay tactic from Senator McConnell or the president, a delay tactic, we're not going to bring the Senate back, I'm going to say it before the discussion, but we're not actually going to have the discussion right now. If they're trying to delay it, I looked at the front pages of the papers this morning, I didn't see anything on legislation to battle gun violence or action to battle gun violence. Has it Already dropped from the national consciousness less than two weeks later?

RYAN: Well, I don't think so. I saw in USA Today, a bit on the fold (ph) today there was a story about us candidates talking about it, making it an issue. As I said, it's happening on the ground. There are going to be rallies across the United States here this weekend, a huge one in Cleveland, there's going to be ones all over the country. We're just going to keep the heat on. This is going to be like every other thing that happened in the United States that pushed social progress or safety and security for the people outside in, and we've got to apply the pressure on these guys. BERMAN: This wasn't your district, but to an extent, you put yourself in the middle of this battle since it happened, since the day after in Dayton. How does it feel to be in the middle of this now? Is it frustrating? Are you getting the reaction you thought you would?

RYAN: It's awful. I mean, it's an awful thing to have to be a part of because it is so frustrating, because things aren't moving, and the heartbreak and the anguish, and the tears and the stories we just keep hearing from people who have been victims of gun violence, moms and dads, kids who have lost their parents, it rips your heart out every single day, which is why we've got to convert that anger into action on behalf of all of these victims.

BERMAN: We're learning this morning from Politico. Politico reports that the Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, is going to formally ask the Trump administration to withdraw its request to spend $5 billion at the border and instead spend the money on addressing gun violence and violent white supremacist extremism. Do you think that will be fruitful? Do you think that's something the president would do?

RYAN: No. I mean, here's the problem. Now, we're getting into the left, right, you know, here's the Democrats, here's the Republicans. Let's just get the damn thing done.

BERMAN: So you think Schumer is wrong?

RYAN: Of course, we want to provide some contrast, but this isn't going anywhere. Let's keep the heat on these guys. Let's keep the heat on Mitch McConnell, which is why I let the caravan from Ohio down to Mitch McConnell's backyard in Louisville, his hometown, not his backyard, his hometown, and we put pressure on him.

When I was in Dayton, I had more Republicans grab me saying we've got to get something done on this. This is ridiculous. Congressman, please talk to other Republicans, tell them that we want this. So the ground is shifting underneath. I'm telling these Republicans, they better be very, very careful if they think this is 1994, which a lot of them are still living in the past, and they think it is. It's not, because this has accumulated from Columbine to every one of these stories, we've seen synagogues, we've seen churches, we've seen schools, now, we've seen entertainment districts, we've seen Walmart.

People are dying. This has accumulated and now it's time for action.

BERMAN: Assault weapon ban, I saw one thing, a report of this morning, that there aren't even 200. There are about 200 Democratic votes to ban assault weapons in the House right now. Nancy Pelosi is loathe to bring an assault weapon ban on the floor because it won't even pass the House.

RYAN: Yes, which is why let's pass the things that have 80 or 90 percent support. I don't want to get into another fight. I'm so sick of this left, right baloney that we deal with every single day. The American people want us to act. The bills in the Senate have the support of 90 percent of the American people. Hunters, 70 to 80 percent. Hunters in the United States say, universal background check. I don't want somebody getting a weapon of mass destruction and walking into Dayton, Ohio and annihilating people.

BERMAN: Scott Jennings, who worked for Mitch McConnell, calls background checks a 90 percent issue, as do you. If I can talk about the Democratic presidential race for a moment, Joe Biden said some things that got some focus over the weekend, he misspoke. You then said Democratic candidates have to be really careful because the president will pounce on this and create a false equivalency if you say anything incorrect. Are you suggesting that you think Joe Biden is a liability?

RYAN: Well, I think we all have to be careful. I mean, clearly, he's made a couple of blunders. Look, this is hard. You're traveling, you're exhausted. There's always a microphone in your face. So we're all going to make mistakes. But I think we all have to be very, very careful because when Trump says something like it's too bad for the people in Toledo, Ohio, and the shooting was in Dayton, and I'm trying to make the case that I think Trump's mental faculties are diminished, clearly diminished from where he was a few years ago.

And so we've got to stay focused on him. He doesn't make any sense. You know, he is -- sometimes you can't even understand what he's talking about. He talks in circles. He doesn't make any sense, and we're dealing with these very important issues. So we've got to make sure we can highlight that deficiency as opposed to having him say we're all the same.

BERMAN: Do you qualify for the September debates yet?

RYAN: No, not yet. But we've had the best fundraising week in my campaign.

[07:25:00]

We had the best fundraising day the day after the debate last week, almost two weeks ago now, and we continue to build support. We gave one of the best speeches at the Iowa State Fair, we're the ones talking about moving out of the left, right divide, moving into new and better, holding Trump accountable. I think a lot of people are starting to see me as the person who is best to take on Donald Trump and these swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin. And anybody who wants to help the campaign can go to timryanforamerica.com and send us a few bucks and keep us going.

BERMAN: You got that in there. But if you don't make the debate stage, will you keep going?

RYAN: Yes, of course. I mean, we have momentum. I think this is a momentum game. And to say you need $135 low donors, where most people are spending big money, that they raise $50 to $70 to get a $1 contribution to get yourself going, I think, is inconsistent with where we should be as Democrats. But again, people are calling, people are supporting us. We've got a lot of momentum moving in the campaign now. And, again, people are saying, hey, a guy from Ohio who is going after Trump, he's leading on guns, he's leading on the economy, let's take a look at this guy.

BERMAN: Congressman Tim Ryan, thanks for coming in the studio. I appreciate it.

RYAN: Thanks for having me. Thanks. Always good to be with you.

BERMAN: Erica?

HILL: They are the unofficial enforcers with the Russian government, aimed at disrupting America's influence at every turn. Coming up, CNN's exclusive report exposing Putin's private army for the very first time.

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[07:30:00]

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