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Gunman Kills 49 in New Zealand Mosque Shootings; New Zealand Mosque Gunman Posted Manifesto Online Minutes before Shooting; President Trump Vetoes Congressional Bill against President's National Emergency Declaration; Analysts Examine Inequalities in U.S. Educational System; U.S.-Mexican Border Experiencing Increase in Numbers of Migrants; Retrospective on President Nixon Compares Similarities with President Trump. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 16, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've just been waiting here just to see if our son is all right, but he's not answering his phone.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And right now 39 victims are fighting for their lives in the hospital, 11 of them in intensive care, two of those patients are children, a two-years-old and a 13- years-old, both in stable condition.

The shooter 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant has been charged with murder and police say more charges are coming. In his first court appearance, he appeared to flash a hand gesture associated with white supremacy. And right now, authorities are combing through an 87-page manifesto, laced with anti-Muslim rhetoric, that the shooter posted just minutes before the attacks. New Zealand's prime minister, who also received a copy of the manifesto moments before the gunman opened fire, says the gunman had planned to continue his shooting spree beyond the two mosques.

CNN International Correspondent Alexandra Field is in Christchurch and spoke to some of those who lived through that horrific shooting.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the massacre at Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, where seven Muslims were killed, Ahmed Khan narrowly saved his own life.

AHMED KHAN, WITNESS: The guy shot at me, but I dodged down, so he missed me. And then I ran back to the mosque and tell everyone to go to the ground because there is someone with the gun that is going to shoot everyone. Then everyone went to the ground and then he started shooting through the windows.

FIELD: Inside, Khan found a friend pleading.

KHAN: I knew he had shot in the right arm. So I went there and held him and tell him. He was asking for some water. I said to him calm down, the police is here and stuff, just because, and then the gunman came through the window again and shot him when I was holding him in the head, and he was dead.

FIELD: Kahn came to New Zealand 12 years ago seeking safety, a refugee from Kabul, Afghanistan. His Afghan uncle, among those killed in the gunfire on New Zealand's darkest day, at a second mosque, just minutes away. Khaled al-Shdokhi was inside Al Noor Mosque when the bullets began flying there.

KHALED AL-SHDOKHI, WITNESS: Some of my friends died yesterday, some of them this morning, and one of my friends is still in the hospital because he got shot in his leg.

FIELD: Al-Shdokhi, a Ph.D. candidate from Saudi Arabia, says he recently told his Saudi friends he thought New Zealand was the safest place on earth. To him, it was.

AL-SHDOKHI: I saw the bullets in the wall. The man came inside. And we couldn't do anything. Just, I looked, I was sitting next to the window. I smashed the window and escaped through the window, and many people run after me, and we went to the backyard.

FIELD: Sue Harrison heard the shots ring out across the yard.

SUE HARRISON, WITNESS: We got in the stairwell, and sort of hunkering down with panic, a feeling, just describing the sound.

FIELD: Finally, there was silence.

HARRISON: After the gunshots had stopped for a few minutes, we peeked out the window and we could see people in the backyard of the mosque milling around. And they were upright, they weren't running, they weren't panicking, they were just sort of walking around, there was wailing going on.

FIELD: Harrison hasn't been allowed back to the apartment. The area around the mosque is still a crime scene. It's where 41 people who couldn't get out died inside.


FIELD: And Fred, we have seen security stepped up all around Christchurch during this still tense time. Police say that they have their suspected attacker. They are not directly looking for any more suspects. But still, that police presence is out there, particularly outside of those two mosques where these attacks happened. The prime minister of New Zealand says authorities are working as quickly as possible to return the bodies of those killed to the loved ones now waiting for them. Fred?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Alexandra Field, thank you so much.

And as victims fight to survive, authorities are digging into the suspect's motive and what led him to gun down dozens of innocent worshippers. One theme that clearly fueled the gunman, white nationalism. CNN Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin has more.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It's titled "The Great Replacement," 87 pages, more than 16,000 words, not rambling, but a spell checked, referenced dissertation on a hate- filled view of immigrants, immigration, and Muslim. Unsigned, it is the killer's explanation for why he did this.

JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand, and in fact, have no place in the world.

GRIFFIN: The manifesto was posted online by this man under the name Brenton Tarrant. There is no doubt the 28-year-old under arrest is a white supremacist who believed his own white European race is being wiped out by immigration, labeling it "white genocide."

[14:05:06] It is also the universal rallying cry of hate-filled white supremacists across the world. In Charlottesville, Virginia, the neo Nazi cry was --

CROWD: Jews will not replace us!

GRIFFIN: In Warsaw, Poland, in 2017, some marchers in an independence day demonstration carried banners that read "White Europe" hero and "Clean Blood." In 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, a white teenager named Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans in a church. The white supremacist reportedly said, you all are raping our white women. You all are taking over the world, as he gunned down unarmed parishioners.

The rhetoric is old, but new technology has allowed these messages of hate to be spread in real time across the globe. The New Zealand killer streamed parts of his attack live on Facebook. The video spread to YouTube, Twitter, news sites, before police pleaded for it to stop.

MIKE BUSH, NEW ZEALAND POLICE COMMISSIONER: I have seen social media footage. It is very disturbing. It shouldn't be in the public domain, and we are doing everything we can to remove it.

GRIFFIN: But hours after the attack, copies of the gruesome video still continued to appear, shared by social media users. While police will not discuss motive, the suspect refers to Dylann Roof and writes he was inspired by white supremacist Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in Norway eight years ago. He does try to explain his own breaking point, came in 2017, the French presidential election of what he describes as an antiwhite ex-banker and the terror related death of an 11-year-old Swedish girl run down by a Muslim terrorist in a stolen truck in Stockholm, a crime, he writes, he could no longer ignore.

In his 87 pages, the suspect does make one reference to Donald Trump. He writes, "Are you a supporter?" Asking himself. "As a symbol of renewed white identity, and common purpose," he answers, "sure. As a policymaker and leader, dear God, no."

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: So even after 49 Muslims were murdered in a hate-fueled attack, President Trump still won't recognize white nationalism as a growing threat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see today white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's a case, I don't know enough about it yet. They're just learning about the person and the people involved. But it is certainly a terrible thing, terrible thing.


WHITFIELD: New data from the FBI suggests domestic terror arrests have been on the rise in recent months. Let's bring in Josh Campbell, former supervisory special agent with the FBI. So Josh, explain this recent uptick.

JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY AGENT: Hi, Fred. We're getting some new data from the FBI, as you mentioned. It's important to realize at the outset as a caveat that this is a snapshot of time. This is the last three months of 2018, and what officials tell us is that they have seen an increased volume of arrests when compared to some other quarters over the last few years, 25 approximate arrests in that period of time. And again, it is important to look back on the years, in 2018, they saw 120 arrests, and 2017, 150. So it's too difficult to extrapolate right now as far as how that is going to match the rest of this year, but at least the most recently available data shows the increased volume and arrests for the FBI.

That piece there from Drew Griffin tells us that this remains a very serious problem. A lot of focus continues to be on international terrorism, groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, but as that piece showed and as we're seeing now in New Zealand, right wing radicalism across the spectrum, ideology, remains a very serious concern for law enforcement.

WHITFIELD: And you're also learning more about the FBI's response to these massacres in New Zealand.

CAMPBELL: We are. A law enforcement official tells CNN that the FBI is closely latched up with officials over in New Zealand, they're sharing information. And FBI headquarters has actually sent out word to its field offices, instructing those in the field to go through their systems, go through case files, look for any details that may assist investigators in New Zealand, but also to look for any potential subjects who might match the mold of this person who conducted the attack over New Zealand. Again, the concern is follow on attacks, or retaliatory attacks. We're also told that agents in the field are being directed to proactively go out and talk to their sources, these are human informants that provide information on a range of violent crimes and terrorism, intelligence and the like, they're being tasked to go talk to them, ask them if they have any leads that pertain to New Zealand and also threats here to the homeland security.

Again, the relationship between New Zealand officials and the FBI remains very strong, and that is being brought to bear right now. We see FBI officials, as we're being told, really trying to gather information that they can share, and gather information that will help protect against those threats that we just talked about here in the United States.

WHITFIELD: All right, Josh Campbell, thank you so much.

CAMPBELL: Thanks, Fred.

[14:10:02] WHITFIELD: Still ahead, in the wake of the New Zealand attacks, President Trump offers his sympathy to New Zealand, but does not address the Muslim community directly. This as the president denies that white supremacy is on the rise.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. President Trump is digging in on the cornerstone of his campaign, a border wall. After the House and Senate passed a resolution to block his national emergency declaration, the president used it as an opportunity to issue his first veto. His reasoning? The invasion that's unfolding at the border, his words. That invasion rhetoric eerily echoing that of the New Zealand gunman who killed 49 innocent worshippers at two mosques. CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta has more.


[14:15:01] JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Surrounded by supporters, the president turned a veto into the day's main event, officially rejecting a bipartisan measure in Congress that rebuked Mr. Trump for trying to use a national emergency declaration to go around lawmakers to build his border wall.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution. And I have the duty to veto it.

ACOSTA: The president also sounded off on the mosque terror attack in New Zealand.

TRUMP: It's a horrible, horrible thing. I told the prime minister that the United States is with them all the way.

ACOSTA: Earlier in the day, the president offered his condolences, tweeting "My warmest sympathy and best wishes go out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the mosques." But the president's critics question whether that response should have been more forceful in condemning the attack, allegedly carried out by a rightwing extremist. Mr. Trump was asked by reporters whether he thinks white nationalism is a rising threat.

TRUMP: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's a case, I don't know enough about it yet. They're just learning about the person, and the people involved. But it is certainly a terrible thing.

ACOSTA: As a candidate, Mr. Trump once called for a ban on Muslims coming into the U.S., a campaign promise the administration later tried to turn into policy.

TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

ACOSTA: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said thoughts and prayers are not enough, adding that attacks like the one in New Zealand are now all too common.

BETO O'ROURKE, (D) PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: They're on the rise around the western world. They're on the rise right here in this country. They're part of a larger disease of intolerance that has taken hold in what was thought to be the most tolerant, most open, most welcoming country the world had ever known.

ACOSTA: Before the mosque attack, authorities say the killer in New Zealand wrote a long manifesto expressing his anti-Muslim and anti- immigration views, even describing the president as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose. Top White House officials are blasting the notion that the president's rhetoric had anything to do with the violence in New Zealand.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: He says I'm not a conservative, I'm not a Nazi, it sounds like be an eco-terrorist. And he certainly absolutely is a ruthless killer, and he's to blame.

ACOSTA: But just this week, questions are being raised whether the president's rhetoric simply crosses the line. In an interview with the conservative Breitbart website, Mr. Trump bragged about his support coming from, quote, "tough people," saying, "I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don't play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad. Very bad." Democrats say the president is playing with fire.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: I interpret that kind of comment as a danger to peaceful transition of power in our democracy. That's one of the fundamental principles of our constitution, that we have that kind of peaceful transition of power, and respect for the rule of law, which that kind of comment utterly betrays.

ACOSTA: The president said he hadn't read the New Zealand killer's manifesto, so Mr. Trump declined to weigh in on that. But as for the president's claim that white nationalism is not a rising threat, he might want to consider recent FBI figures and other figures showing rightwing extremism is a growing concern, from the neo-Nazi violence on the streets of Charlottesville to the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh last year, and now the mosque attack in New Zealand, it is a threat that can't be denied.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


WHITFIELD: Joining me right now, CNN's political analyst and national political reporter for "The New York Times," Lisa Lerer, Washington bureau chief for "The Toronto Star," Daniel Dale, and opinion contributor and "Daily Beast" contributor Dean Obeidallah. Good to see all of you.

So Lisa, you first. What does it say, that the president has this platform to strongly condemn white supremacy, but his first response on Twitter to the attack used words like "warmest sympathy" and "best wishes" and didn't even say the word "Muslim," "Muslim community," "Muslim victims," anything like that?

LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, this is not a president whose known for being cautious with his words, or not wanting to get out in front of an issue. He usually charges right in. So the fact that he didn't automatically jump in and condemn this as an attack of white supremacy is notable, but it is not surprising. We've seen the president condemn hate in the past. But he tends to condemn certain kinds of hate. He was really vocal after the Pittsburgh shooting at the synagogue about condemning anti-Semitism. He's talked about when there was an attack in Egypt against Coptic Christians, about attacks on Christians and condemned that.

But when it comes to condemning attacks that are linked to racial issues, that are conducted by people who have ties to white supremacist organizations, he really has not condemned those attacks in the same way, certainly not forcefully, and certainly not without a wave of criticism first.

[14:20:14] WHITFIELD: Why is he or even the White House not concerned more about that, I mean that avoidance, so to speak?

LERER: Well, look, part of the -- the president has played footsy in a way with the groups, and not necessarily white supremacist groups, but people who may share some of those concerns, who may worry about the influx of immigrants coming into the country, or the changing racial composition of the country. So that is part of his base. Now, it may be a small part of his base, but it is part of his base. So it's hard not to see politics at play here. We are in an election year, or we're in his reelection cycle.

WHITFIELD: So Dean, in your latest piece for "The Daily Beast," you write, "At this point Trump lies somewhere between an apologist for white supremacist terrorism and a person who inspires people to commit such acts. While ultimately those who commit the violent acts are responsible for their crimes, we can't ignore the connection between people who support Trump and white supremacist violence." So expound on your thoughts there. DEAN OBEIDALLAH, CNN.COM OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: Sure. Politicians can

inspire good, bad, and ugly, and Donald Trump, he has continually inspired some of the worst in this country to commit acts. And, Fred, we talk about the big incidents. There is other ones that I note in my article, where people who were arrested who were self-avowed Trump supporters, self-avowed white supremacists, plotting to kill Muslims like in the New Zealand attack, but they thankfully were stopped.

And in January, four young men were arrested who were going to New York state to a place called Islamberg, primarily a African-America Muslim community, to kill them. You had three men, self-avowed white supremacists, who were also Trump supporters, sentenced in January to 25 years in prison for plotting to kill Muslims in Kansas, Somali Muslim community.

So these incidents are not getting the press they deserve so Americans don't see how dangerous this is. So they would push, I hope, Donald Trump to say, white supremacist terrorism. He called all of it to say radical Islamic terrorism, because you can't solve it if you can't say it, but Trump doesn't have the courage politically to say white supremacist terrorism, and he won't address it.

WHITFIELD: And then, Dean, you're particularly incensed that the president doesn't say anything compassionately about Muslim, the victims, the community impacted, particularly in this incident, and beyond.

OBEIDALLAH: Absolutely. And in fact, we have the opposite with this man. I'm Muslim and this is a man who has demonized my community in ways that I only saw those on the fringe in the past, the real anti- Muslim bigots. Trump has amplified that, saying Muslims cheered on 9/11 in New Jersey, lying about us, too, Islam hates us. Calling for a ban of Muslims, we are navigating through a difficult time when we think the president of the United States hates us for our faith, but sadly that's where the Muslim community stands right now. It's heartbreaking. I hope things can change. But we are going into an election year. And I fear it is going to be get much worse going into now November 3rd, 2020, with this man.

WHITFIELD: So when asked whether white supremacy and nationalism is on the rise, this is just yesterday following the veto, this is the president's response.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see today white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't really. I think it is a small group of people who have very, very serious problems.


WHITFIELD: So you just look back, you know, at when the president is asked about incidents like Charlottesville, Pittsburgh. Here's an example of how he has handled it.


TRUMP: I condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides, on many sides.

It is a terrible, terrible thing, what's going on, with hate, in our country, frankly, and all over the world. And something has to be done. Something has to be done.


WHITFIELD: So Daniel, is there a pattern, is it concerning, if that is the case, that he is ambiguous about things, he is reluctant, he speaks in real vagaries here?

DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE TORONTO STAR": Sure, I think there is an obvious pattern, when there was a terror attack perpetrated by a Muslim, to him it's evidence of a group problem, it's a problem with Muslims more broadly. Where in many cases, when there is an attack perpetrated by a white person, especially a white person with rightwing leanings, then it is evidence that this individual person is sick, or demented, or weird. He does not describe it as a group problem in the same kind of way.

And I agree with Dean. I think we have to be careful in trying to assert any kind of causality, but it is fact that the president campaigned on a campaign of promoting anti-Muslim bigotry. It was not only the Muslim ban policy. He enthusiastically told an entirely fake story about a U.S. general ordering a massacre of 49 Muslims, coincidently 49, with bullets dipped in pig's blood, and he enthusiastically cited that as a way to combat the terror problem.

[14:25:08] When a man asked him during the primary in September, 2015, how do we get rid of the Muslims from this country, he said, well, we're looking at a lot of different things. So he has made an active effort to promote this kind of sentiment.

WHITFIELD: So Lisa, you talked about potentially, it may not change because we're coming up on election year, but some of this began right after taking office, the Muslim ban, the travel ban. So is it election season that really is the explanation?

LERER: Look, I think you can date it even further than that. Don't forget this is a president who became a national political figure, really, by pushing this birther conspiracy against President Barack Obama. So he is someone who has long dabbled in conspiracy theories, particularly those that have links to white supremacy, and those that are deeply tied to anti-Muslim and racial sentiments.

So I'm not sure, we have a long pattern of behavior here. It's hard to imagine it changing in any dramatic way, particularly as we move into this election year where the president is going to be more and more eager to court and inflame his base. That is the White House's political philosophy. They believe that it is not about reaching out. It is about firing up the supporters they have. And this is a way that the president at least believes that he fires up a portion of his base.

WHITFIELD: Lisa Lerer, Daniel Dale, Dean Obeidallah, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.

We're also following this breaking news out of Paris. We're just learning that police have now detained nearly 200 people in the clashes with the yellow vest protesters. The protests turned violent as police used water cannons and teargas to disperse the crowds, as you see right there. Protesters could be seen throwing rocks, setting up barricades as well. Other groups have been demonstrating for months, starting with the protest on gas tax hikes and evolving into a push against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies.

All right, still ahead, the ripple effects of that massive college admissions cheating scandal unveiled earlier this week. Universities now pledging their own investigations. And students now suing, saying they weren't given a fair shot.


[14:31:55] WHITFIELD: Cal Berkeley is the latest university looking into possible ties to an alleged college admissions scam. The school says it may revoke diplomas if it uncovers any wrongdoing.

Meantime, a class action lawsuit has now been filed in the wake of the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted in the U.S. Outraged students and parents want the schools involved and the scheme's mastermind to pay up. They allege the universities were negligent and denied students a fair process. The colleges were cited in a stunning nationwide conspiracy, unveiled this week, involving celebrities and the wealthy. The defendants are accused of cheating on tests and bribing university officials to get into elite colleges.

With me now is Nikhil Goyal, he is the author of the book "Schools on Trial," and a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge, and Masha Gessen is a staff writer for "The New Yorker," and wrote an article about the admissions scandal this week. Good to see you both.

Nikhil, you first. You argued that our educational system is designed to give rich white kids the best odds of getting into these elite colleges. So explain why you believe that is the case.

NIKHIL GOYAL, AUTHOR, "SCHOOLS ON TRIAL": Well, you can see this in the system of legacy preferences which disproportionately privilege rich white kids at many elite colleges. Legacy students, with legacy, all have higher admission rates than those without. And then you can also see with the standardized testing system, where the emphasis on SAT and ACT scores. Family income is the best predictor of SAT performance. And I strongly believe that if we are going to make college admissions more equitable, we've got to end legacy preferences and make colleges and universities go test optional as have more than 1,000 colleges and universities in the United States.

WHITFIELD: Masha, do you agree that that might be a way in which to cut through any potential cheating or inequities? MASHA GESSEN, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": I think that's part of

the solution. I think we really have to talk about what college is for. Whether we're trying to make an inherently unequal system more equitable, which I think is what we're talking about right now. How do we get -- if colleges are essentially a way for people to perpetuate their social standing, to perpetuate their wealth, which is how they function now, then we can give people a slightly better shot at also getting wealth.

But I think we have to also talk about the for profit system of college education, the incredible expense of education, the inequality built into the way that we perceive college education. It is not in our interest as a society to have the current system but somewhat more equitable. It is in our interest as a society to rethink the college system all together.

WHITFIELD: So Nikhil, in so many of these instances, it may just be the case that in terms of the whole cheating scheme, that parents were doing this, hoping that this would guarantee placement in some of these prestigious schools for their kids, but the kids don't even know it.

[14:35:10] Do you believe these kids should be penalized, and that their admissions now rescinded, or if the case, say as in Georgetown, there were some cases that date back as far as 2012, some of these young people have already received their degrees. Should their diplomas like Cal Berkeley is proposing, be rescinded as well?

GOYAL: Well, I think it is a case by case basis, based on the situation of the student, especially if the student knowingly was involved in such a scheme. But I think it's important to think about larger systemic issues that are at play here.

I consistently said that the inequities we see in college admissions is a reflection of larger inequities in American society. How is it that we fund public education in this country through a regressive property tax model where wealthier communities get better schools while poorer kids get fewer librarians and social workers and books? I think we have got to broaden this conversation beyond simply college admissions and examine some of inequities we see throughout the system.

And Senator Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand both support moving away from funding education via a property tax model, and I think we need to transform the system so that all children get a decent and equitable public education, and then we can -- that will ultimately affect the college admissions process.

WHITFIELD: So Masha, how deep do you think this kind of cheating scandal that has been brought to the surface, how deep do you think it is?

GESSEN: That's for the investigators to answer. I think that an important point for us to consider is that they did something illegal at the top of an iceberg that is legal but inherently gameable. And the top of the iceberg of the admissions process that every step of the way gives advantages to the children of the wealthy, to the children of the well-connected, to the children of people who already have all the things that colleges are supposed to give you.

And if you haven't had the benefit of an excellent public or private education, tutors, advisers, social connections, counselors outside of your counseling system, if you haven't had the benefit of that, you're already hugely disadvantaged. So if a miracle happens and you get to college, you're still disadvantaged.

WHITFIELD: So right now while some parents will be paying the price, educators, teachers, coaches will be paying the price, what about the universities? Is it enough that some of these universities will be able to say we didn't know this was going on?

GESSEN: It shouldn't be enough. This should be an excellent opportunity for universities to really look at their admissions system, which they claim is holistic, but as Nikhil was saying, to look at how the admissions system is structured in a way that is inherently unfair.

WHITFIELD: So Nikhil, how do you see this as potentially changing the entire admission process, or at least getting that dialogue going?

GOYAL: Sure. More than 1,000 colleges and universities have already gone test optional. And the research shows that no longer requiring the SAT or ACT in admissions leads to greater class and racial diversity, not just in the applicants but also in the students who are ultimately enrolled. And I'm part of an organization called Fair Test which tracks these colleges, and last year the Iniversity of Chicago announced that they are going test optional, lots of liberal arts schools have gone test optional as well. So I think moving away from the emphasis on standardized testing and considering alternative forms of assessment is something that colleges can really think about. And to me, the inequities in the system really go to the core of it. And I think the scandal is a very good opportunity for colleges to rethink fundamental admissions practices.

WHITFIELD: And Masha, in an article for "The New Yorker," you made the case that this scandal exposes problems throughout our educational system, not just at the college admissions level. What do you mean?

GESSEN: I mean the colleges are entirely oriented toward money, and admissions is a part of it. But even public universities basically make their decisions about what they develop, about what buildings they build, about what resources they attract, about how their curricular will change and what faculty they hire, they base all of those decisions how they can attract money. That is the opposite of thinking about education as a public resource, as a public good, and thinking about how it benefits society.

WHITFIELD: All right, Masha Gessen, Nikhil Goyal, we will leave it there for now. Glad you could be with us.

GOYAL: Thank you.

GESSEN: Thank you. [14:40:03] WHITFIELD: Still ahead, overwhelmed at the border. We'll take you to the heart of the border battle and hear why those who work in El Paso say it is ground zero for illegal immigration.


WHITFIELD: This week, CNN witnessed a group of more than 50 migrants, including toddlers, taken into custody along the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas. Border Patrol agents say lately it is happening multiple times a day every day, even though this is supposed to historically be the slow period of migration. Here now is CNN's Nick Valencia.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the new reality in El Paso. Every day, several times a day, migrants arrive by the dozens, sometimes by the hundreds. Here, U.S. customs and border protection officials say is the new ground zero for illegal immigration.

AARON HULL, CHIEF PATROL EL PASO SECTOR, U.S. BORDER PATROL: We're seeing an unprecedented influx of illegal entries here in El Paso sector.

[14:45:06] VALENCIA: Chief patrol agent for the El Paso sector, Aaron Hull, says his agents have seen more than 550 percent increase in migrant apprehensions from this time last year.

HULL: We have to balance our humanitarian challenges along with the need to secure the people of this country from the many threats that are still trying to get in. And they're exploiting these family units. Smugglers are very aware of the dynamic that is created when a large number of aliens comes in requiring special needs. They know that it ties up our resources.

VALENCIA: Because of that, Customs and Border Protection says the immigration system is at a breaking point. Chief Hull blames the pull factor, and says it is not just family units from Central America.

HULL: We've arrested aliens from 60 countries other than Mexico and the northern triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

VALENCIA: Just minutes later, agents spot two men from Brazil asking for asylum.

This is what the chief is talking about. It's not just Mexican national and Central Americans. It's also people from different countries like Brazil, Cuba, everywhere.

Standing along the site of the newest construction of the border wall in El Paso, we meet local activist Fernando Garcia. He says this is the new Ellis Island.

FERNANDO GARCIA, LOCAL ACTIVIST: What we're experiencing right now is a humanitarian crisis, yes, but we need more officers at the port of entry. Building the wall is not going to stop the refugee crisis in this country.

VALENCIA: A crisis that Ruben Garcia says has left him feeling like he is living in a tornado.

Are you more stretched thin than you ever have been?


VALENCIA: Garcia running the Annunciation House in El Paso. He along with his team of volunteers, helped migrants after they're processed out of ICE custody. They're averaging 3,000 migrants per week, which has put him at capacity.

GARCIA: This Saturday, ICE released 600 people to us. We took in 600 people. And that maxed out our hospitality sites.

VALENCIA: Are you now having to turn people away?

GARCIA: Some days, we have had to turn some people away.

VALENCIA: So what do they do then? They go to the streets?

GARCIA: They are in the streets. They are in the streets when we cannot take them in.

VALENCIA: Depending on who you talk two, what is happening along the southern border is either a humanitarian crisis or a threat to national security. What is clear is that everyone involved is desperately seeking for solutions as to how to best deal with their new reality.

Nick Valencia, CNN, El Paso, Texas.


WHITFIELD: So much more straight ahead in the Newsroom right after this.


[14:51:58] WHITFIELD: Police in Washington state had to be called after a brawl broke out at a middle school.




WHITFIELD: What you hear is screams happening right after a basketball game yesterday. School officials say when they tried to break up the fight, students became hostile and actually assaulted them. And when police showed up, there were death threats. Police say 60 to 70 teenagers were involved and deputies had to ask for backup, quote, due to riot conditions. At one point nearly three dozen officers were on the scene. Nine teenagers were arrested for various charges including assault and resisting arrest. This was middle school.

And this Sunday, the all new CNN original series "Tricky Dick" looks at the unprecedented political rise and fall of Richard Nixon. Now some of Nixon's controversial campaign strategies, battles with the media, and headline grabbing scandals and investigations seem to be repeating themselves in the Trump administration. Here now is CNN's Tom Foreman with a look at the parallels and the connections between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This time, we're going to win.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Listen to the long-ago roar for Nixon, and you may hear a coming wave.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to win, we're going to win fast.

FOREMAN: Any political analysts have noted similarities between President Nixon and President Trump in their populist calls to white voters, their pledges to the working class, and how they spoke about military might.

NIXON: I want you to bomb those bastard all over the place.

TRUMP: I would bomb the -- out of them.


FOREMAN: But it goes farther. The two men knew and admired each other, Nixon sending a letter after Trump was on TV in 1987 predicting "Whenever you decide to run for office, you will be a winner." Trump taking pages from Nixon's playbook on crime.

NIXON: It is time for us to restore, respect for law, and then we will have real progress.

FOREMAN: Nixon inflamed racial fears and pledged to crack down. Trump brought similar themes to the immigration debate.

TRUMP: They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists.

FOREMAN: On investigations, as Watergate erupted, Nixon furiously denied doing anything wrong.

NIXON: I'm not a crook.

FOREMAN: Trump's response to the Russia probe.

TRUMP: It is a total witch hunt.

FOREMAN: On the media, Nixon bristled at the reporters. NIXON: The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy.

FOREMAN: Trump --

TRUMP: I call the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are. They are the enemy of the people.

FOREMAN: And on hush money. Nixin was recorded about payoffs to keep Watergate conspirators quiet.

NIXON: You could get a million dollars. And you could get it in cash.

FOREMAN: And Trump, too, has been caught on tape allegedly discussing a payment to a former Playboy model who claimed a sexual affair which he denies.

TRUMP: We'll have to pay --


FOREMAN: There are big differences, too. Nixon grew up poor, Trump wealthy. Nixon served in the Navy. Trump got a medical deferral. Nixon was a career politician. Trump, not. And of course, Nixon was undeniably wrapped up in the Watergate affair and he resigned. Trump, so far there has been no indisputable proof that he has broken any law, nor that he will walk away from the White House.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: And be sure to watch "Tricky Dick" premiering tomorrow night, 9:00 eastern, only on CNN.

Thanks so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The news continues with Ana Cabrera after this.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You're live in the CNN Newsroom. And right now, New Zealand is beginning the process of burying 49 people killed in the worst mass shooting in its history.