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Obama to Bypass Congress; Hobby Lobby Ruling; Tim Howard Volunteering to Help Children; Mysterious Disappearance of Family in Texas

Aired July 01, 2014 - 09:30   ET


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We should keep in mind the White House has been up front about the fact that just telling the public about conversations between the president and House Speaker John Boehner, that does not work too well for John Boehner with his own Republican caucus. So they've really treated this very delicately.

It's interesting that the White House said yesterday that the president was told by John Boehner last week that basically immigration reform was dead before the midterms, and that is something that the White House really did not tell the public about until almost a week later. And even the speaker's office is saying that that is not exactly how the conversation went.

And so this has been a very tricky political issue for both sides. You know, the president takes executive action on this, Carol. It fires up a key segment of the Democratic base. It may get Latinos out to vote, but it may also activate Republicans who are very suspicious of these executive actions and say he's going outside of his constitutional bounds.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime, David, we have -


COSTELLO: Go ahead, David.

LEOPOLD: I just wanted to jump in there. Republicans, by and large, the real Republicans support immigration reform. And you've got to remember -- I agree with what Jim said, but you've got to remember that immigration reform, real immigration reform, with secure borders, is going to create jobs for U.S. workers. It's going to infuse the economy with $1.7 trillion in gross domestic product. There's -- this is a no brainer and it's unfortunate that John Boehner and the leadership of the Republican Party in the House have refused to do what they need to do to protect the country and create jobs for American workers through immigration reform.

COSTELLO: And just in fairness, you know, for, you know, the other side, Jim, the Republicans are say it's because of the president's lax immigration laws and his inability to enforce the laws already on the books that's really causing this problem. ACOSTA: That is what they're saying and the White House response to

that is that, you know, border security is as tough that it's been in years. That deportations are at their highest levels in years. And keep in mind, Carol, the president has heard, and I've heard from immigration reform advocates who have called this president the deporter-in-chief. So he is taking it from both size here. He is in a very difficult, political spot. If he doesn't do enough in the minds of immigration reform advocates, it could hurt Democrats with Latinos. But at the same time, this White House feels, heading into the summer, looking at these recommendations that will be coming to the president's desk, that the public is on their side, as David said. The polls indicate the public is very strongly in favor of immigration reform and so they feel here at the White House the president does take some executive actions, they will have the poll numbers on their side if he decides to do that. The question is, how far can he go without some sort of backlash from Republicans? That's something that they have to keep in mind, Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, I got to leave it there. Jim Acosta, David Leopold, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, a fight for religious liberty or a setback for women's rights. The sharply divided reaction to the Hobby Lobby ruling. We'll talk about that next.


COSTELLO: The war on women just got a lot more intense thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court. It ruled Hobby Lobby could indeed limit access to certain kinds of contraception because of its religious beliefs. Republicans hail the decision as a victory for religious freedom. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal tweeting, quote, "President Obama's war on religious liberty hits a wall - the First Amendment." Others like Kristan Hawkins, the president for Students for Life of America, went a step farther.


KRISTAN HAWKINS, PRESIDENT, STUDENTS FOR LIFE OF AMERICA: Birth control does not make me equal to men. I honor my fertility. My fertility is a gift. It is not a disease.


COSTELLO: Democrats, on the other hand, see this decision in an entirely different light. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley tweeted, quote, "your boss does not belong in your bedroom or your board room." Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who issued a scathing dissent, has become a sort of folk hero. She is now known as "notorious RBG," a bad ass for standing up for women's rights. So let's talk about this. Sally Kohn is a political commentator for CNN and Rachel Campos-Duffy is a blogger at and the author of "Stay Home, Stay Happy."

Welcome to both of you.


COSTELLO: Thanks for being here.

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY, BLOGGER, CATHOLICVOTE.ORG: Carol, I'm the national spokesperson for the Libida (ph) Initiative.

COSTELLO: Awesome. Thanks so much.

So, Rachel, I'll start with you. Do you see the Hobby Lobby decision as empowering to women?

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Look, this was the Obamacare versus the First Amendment and the First Amendment won. And I -- what I see with young women in particular is that they're trending libertarian and they understand that they can't have it both ways. They can't, on the one hand, ask for the government to stay out of their lives, stay out of their bedroom, and on the other hand expect for their employer to subsidize their birth control at the expense of their religious liberty. They're very smart, they're very savvy and although I can see how and why the Democrats are going to try and use this to gin up support among young women, and it may work with some, I still think it's a mistake because women care the same as the rest of America about the economy first and foremost. And what they're seeing is that this Obama economy is hurting women in particular.

COSTELLO: Sally, do you agree with that?

KOHN: Not even remotely. I mean, first of all, women, where Rachel is right is that women, like all voters, care more about the economy and jobs and it would be nice if Republicans were focusing on that. But, instead, Republicans keep focusing on attacking women's reproductive freedom. This was a settled issue. We figured this one out until Republicans reopened it.

This is very simple. Women across the country who work, who have jobs, that is part of their economic - the economic engine of this country, pay a part of the portion of their health insurance. Employers pay a part of that insurance that covers all kinds of things, including birth control. The decision to use birth control, which birth control is a decision between a woman and her doctor, period. And what Republicans have done, what this court has helped them do is say, no, actually, that should be the decision of the government, of the courts, of your boss. That's ridiculous in this day and age. Of course women are outraged.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: It's -- what's ridiculous is to think that this ruling has anything to do with women's access to birth control. It absolutely does not. It's a very reasonable and limited ruling saying that only four out of 20 different forms of birth control are abortifation (ph) and -

KOHN: Ah, whoa.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: By (INAUDIBLE) liberty of the employer to not be involved in that in subsidizing that form of birth control. Women can still go out and get Plan B, get the morning after pill, if that's what they want. Believe me, listen, (INAUDIBLE) --

KOHN: There's two things - there's two things we should be really clear about here. First of all, according to the FDA and every major medical opinion, they are not abortion drugs. These drugs - these drugs and devices.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: We can debate this (INAUDIBLE) --

KOHN: (INAUDIBLE) So that's - it's fascinating - it's fascinating --

COSTELLO: That is a fact. I'm on Sally's side on this one. Sorry, Rachel, that is a fact.

KOHN: And it's really troubling that groups we're able to assert a religious view that is purely just mythical.


KOHN: It is not based on fact, number one. Number two, if you're earning $7 an hour in this country -- and I do want to, by the way, praise Hobby Lobby because they actually pay their Workers well. They pay them (INAUDIBLE) an hour.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Absolutely they do. (INAUDIBLE).

KOHN: But if you're earning $7 an hour, paying for Plan B, paying for Ella, that's 5 percent to 10 percent of your monthly income that you now have to shoulder on your own. You don't have to pay for your Viagra on your own if you're a guy.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: I can take -

KOHN: But as a woman, you've got to shoulder that yourself. That's a big deal.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Let me just make this point.

COSTELLO: Well, Rachel -- Rachel, let me ask you this question. Let me ask you this question.


COSTELLO: Should - should a religious -- let me ask you this question, Rachel. Should a religious entity, any religious entity, tell you which drugs you should take and what they do and ignore medical science?

CAMPOS-DUFFY: They are -- first of all, it's not ignoring medical science. Those drugs are abortifation. The morning after pill is an abortifation. And we can sit here and argue that. But here's the bottom line. Women care about jobs. When I go to a job interview, I do not ask what - you know, are - is my -- are you going to subsidize my birth control? First of all, I want to make sure --

COSTELLO: Will you now?

CAMPOS-DUFFY: No. What I ask is, what's my salary, what are my benefits, do I have vacation time?

KOHN: That's a benefit (INAUDIBLE).

CAMPOS-DUFFY: These are small minutia arguments that are being used to gin up and somehow create the impression that conservatives or that employers that happen to have a religious point of view are somehow anti-woman. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hobby Lobby has the right, as business owners, to not be involved and not subsidize that. This is a - this - again, is Obamacare versus the First Amendment. And the First Amendment won.

COSTELLO: Well, look, I think that - I think that there is a certain group who feel birth control - well, I'll just put it this way. We have heard conservatives call women who support mandated coverage whores frankly.


COSTELLO: This is - this is the kind of rhetoric that's not helpful when a majority of women not only approve of birth control but they take it.


KOHN: Ninety-nine percent, Carol, 99 percent.

COSTELLO: So really it seems to some women that this is really about controlling - controlling how many times they have sex.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Forms of birth control.

KOHN: But it was worth -


KOHN: It's worth noting here that Hobby Lobby provided, provided Plan B and Ella, the two forms of birth control they now don't want to provide. They provided them for years until they decided to file this suit. Right?


KOHN: So, again, this isn't a decision an employer should make. Rachel has a right to her opinion. She has a right to not take or use those medications. But government should not make those decisions. Employers should not make those decisions for their employees. This is plain and simple. This decision is wrong. This decision is un-American.


COSTELLO: Well, Rachel, last word.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Well, last word, if the Democrats want to make this election about birth control, go for it, because I think women care much more about the economy and the fact that this Obama economy has been horrible, wages down, cost of living up, kids moving into their parents' basement, young women not being able to afford to live out on their own the way they - they way they want to. This is what this election is about, and all of this ginning up of very exaggerated arguments by the left is only going to prove the point that they're not serious about the economy.

COSTELLO: Sally Kohn, Rachel Campos-Duffy, thanks so much.

KOHN: Thanks, Carol.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Thank you.

COSTELLO: That was an interesting, fun conversation.

I'm back in a minute.


COSTELLO: All eyes will be on goalkeeper Tim Howard today, the last line of defense for the U.S. in its critical World Cup match against Belgium. Howard's not just a brick wall for his team but a pillar in his community. He's a role model for kids. He shares a disorder with.


COSTELLO: He is the anchor of team USA. At age 35, Tim Howard is still at the top of his game, and at his New Jersey high school, no one is surprised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember that. I remember that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See a goalie, and like he could anticipate where the ball was going to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was watching his eyes the whole time. Yes.

EDDIE BERHENEY, NORTH BRUNSWICK H.S. HEAD BASCKETBALL COACH: Nothing Timmy does surprises me. That's the thing about it. When he's working as hard you see Timmy Howard doing all things right the U.S. team - U.S.'s coach say, hey, I'm going up my game and I'm going to try to match what he's doing.

COSTELLO: Howard played basketball and soccer at North Brunswick High School. His year book quotes senior year "It will take a nation of millions to hold me back." He went on to major league soccer and at 23 he was recruited by one of the best known sports teams in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Tim got the call for Manchester United it was like a win for all of us. That was like all right, our guy made it. And it was really cool to see.

COSTELLO: For Howard, fame also meant responsibility, he lent his body to PETA for this anti-fur campaign and turned a very personal struggle into advocacy. Faith Rice is the executive director of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome. FAITH RICE, EXEC. DIRECTOR NEW JERSEY CENTER FOR TOURETTE SYNDROME:

Tim called us one day and said he wanted to volunteer with the organization.

COSTELLO: Howard had been diagnosed with Tourette as a child, when he joined Manchester United, British tabloids ridiculed the goalie for the disorder. But he told CNN in 2011 it was an obstacle he never let stand in his way.

TIM HOWARD, GOALSKEEPER, U.S. MEN'S SOCCER TEAM: I may not make it, you know, as a professional footballer, but I don't want the reason to be Tourette's syndrome, and so, you know, it's something that I live with every day and for me now, and my life, it's like breathing to me. You know, if I woke up one day and didn't have Tourette's syndrome it would feel weird.

COSTELLO: Howard has done work with children and their families for the New Jersey center and is lending his name to its brand new Tim Howard Leadership Academy.

RICE: It's really important for these kids to have a hero, someone who has dealt with all of the things that they're dealing with, and has survived.

COSTELLO: And to the kids at North Brunswick High Howard is a role model, too.

LOU EMMANUEL, NORTH BRUNSWICK H.S. ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: The same hallway that that kid is walking is the same hallway that Tim walked in. That locker may be Tim's locker. So, all these kids have a direct connection, they could see what hard work can do and it's right there on TV, every other day.


COSTELLO: Pretty awesome guy, right? Rachel Nichols, host of CNN's "Unguarded" joins us live from New York. So, Tim Howard has played with and against a number of the Belgian players, advantage for him or for them?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST, "UNGUARDED": Oh, definitely for him, whether it's hockey or soccer, the advantage is always to the goalie because they know how an attacker prefers to score, but also it's an advantage for the U.S., just that they have Tim Howard, you mentioned he's 35 years old. But this is a guy who way back played his first professional match before he even graduated high school. That's how good he was so young. Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. coach calls him one of the top five goaltenders in the world, and he's also very motivated today, Carol, as well. Because hey, he does know at 35, this is likely going to be his last World Cup. He's treasured these experiences, and this the knockout round. So, if they get knocked out that's it, that could be a hit for his World Cup career and he doesn't want to go home yet.

COSTELLO: No, I can understand that certainly. Something we found kind of funny going on here, you probably heard that the Waffle House is boycotting Belgian waffles? I love that.

NICHOLS: You know, really, attacking breakfast food, I understand patriotism, but at some point, right?


NICHOLS: I mean, come on. Yes, everybody should eat pancakes and cereal today. Lay off the waffles until tomorrow, but you know, don't take them away, come on.

COSTELLO: No, I'll just call them my freedom waffles.

NICHOLS: Exactly.


COSTELLO: Yeah. Rachel Nichols, thanks so much. I'll be right back.

NICHOLS: Thank you.


COSTELLO: A young family of four disappears from their San Diego home without a trace, no signs of struggle, no apparent plans to flee, then nearly four years later, they are found dead. So, what happened to the McStay family? The story is part of a special CNN report tonight. And as Randi Kaye found out. It took days for other family members to alert police that these four were even missing.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Monday, February 15th, 11 days after the family went missing. Michael called the sheriff's department who came to the house to investigate. They immediately alerted homicide. Then investigators did something Patrick McStay finds unbelievable.

PATRICK MCSTAY JOSEPH MCSTAY'S FATHER: They don't put any tape on it, crime scene tape, any notices on the door. Nothing. They just lock the house back up and they leave to get warrants.

STEPH WATTS: It doesn't make any sense to me. I think you've got a family that's missing for a week and they are still not going to call it a crime scene?

KAYE: It took San Diego investigators three days to obtain the warrants they needed to complete a full search of the home. But during those three days, the McStay's home remained unsealed, which allowed Joseph's brother, mother, and friend access in and out of the house.

SUSAN BLAKE, JOSEPH MCSTAY'S MOTHER: I wouldn't go in there unless I called, you know, the sheriff's department and they said I could, so I had permission. I cleaned up the kitchen because it was disgusting and the trash can from diapers sitting there all that time, you know, it was terrible, terrible smells. MCGYVER MCCARGAR, JOSEPH MCSTAY'S FRIEND: She was cleaning. We were

looking for bank statements. I mean, I think she was just reaching for evidence.

KAYE (on camera): It was a crime scene?

MICHAEL MSSTAY, JOSEPH MCSTAY'S BROTHER: No, it was not deemed a crime scene because there was no sign of forced entry, there was no signs of foul play at the house.

KAYE (voice over): Michael says investigators gave them the OK to remove some items from the home.

MICHAEL MSSTAY: With their permission, I grabbed his computer, what would be Joey's computer and the S.D. card. I got the pictures off of it. I got that downloaded and then I had to put that back prior to them issuing the warrant.

KAYE: Back in Texas, Patrick could hardly believe what was going on.

PATRICK MCSTAY: The first thing I'm thinking is like you are going to destroy evidence? I was just stunned.

WATTS: Certain items that might have been really key to the big mystery of why they left that house are gone, touched, moved, cleaned up. It's ridiculous.


COSTELLO: Randi Kaye joins me now. Good morning, Randi. So the remains of the McStay family were found four years after the night they disappeared in the California desert. Did that surprise detectives?

KAYE: Oh, absolutely, Carol. I mean the San Diego sheriff's department. They had been investigating the case initially and they thought that the family disappeared into Mexico and they thought it was voluntary. I mean they had found the McStay's Isuzu Trooper parked near the Mexico border. They found computer searches on their home computer looking for paperwork that was required into Mexico. The was still unclear who did those searches or even when, Carol.

And then there's this. Security camera video from the border of a family of four. Now some say it matched the McCray's description and it looked like they were walking into Mexico, but still Patrick McStay, Joseph's father, he's the husband in the case, I mean we talked to Patrick for this documentary. And he said they would never go to Mexico. He never believed this story. He said that his daughter-in-law Summer (ph) did not even like Mexico. But investigators still early on remained focused on the border, focused on Mexico. And that they went there never imagining that their bodies would be found more than 100 miles north of their home, which is far north of the border.

COSTELLO: So, why do investigators think they left their house so suddenly? KAYE: Well, It's hard to say. I mean they have a new detective who's working on the case, but there's no question that they left in a hurry. I mean there were eggs on the counter, there were popcorn bowls in front of the television on this futon. Their beloved dogs, which they really treated like part of the family, they were left tied up in the backyard. And this is the main problem, Carol. San Diego sheriff's department, the deputies there, they didn't even enter the home with a search warrant until 15 days, 15 days after that family disappeared.

So in that time, as you heard there, Joseph McStay's mother, she entered the home with her son Michael, she cleaned up the counter, she threw out dirty diapers, they threw out the eggs that were rotting on the counter. But who knows what clues may have been lost in the time that it took authorities to get in there with that warrant?

COSTELLO: Well, I can't wait to watch your documentary tonight. Randi Kaye, thanks so much. And you can watch the CNN "Special Report: Buried Secrets: Who Murdered the McStay Family." That's tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a break