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First of All with Victor Blackwell

Biden: Will Only Drop Out If "The Lord Almighty" Tells Me; Biden: Only "The Lord Almighty" Could Get Me tTo Leave The Race"; Biden: "Completely Ruling Out" Getting Out Of The 2024 Race; Some Dems Start Moving To Harris As Biden Defends Candidacy; Some Dems Start Moving To Harris As Biden Defends Candidacy. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 06, 2024 - 08:00   ET



NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Death Valley. We're looking at potentially 125 by Sunday or Monday, Victor and Veronica back to you.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN ANCHOR: Certainly very hot. Well, First of All with Victor Blackwell is coming up next. Victor, what do you have for us?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We have a lot two former presidential candidates will react to President Biden's interview, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and former senator and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun are here. Do they think that he can resist the calls to step aside?

Plus, we're hearing a lot from politicians. But how do voters feel about all this? I'll speak with two radio hosts who also interviewed the President this week. And the case of Taylor Casey missing in the Bahamas for more than two weeks now. We're not going to let all the politics drown this story out. Her mother is asking for the FBI to help. And she'll be joining us live.

MIRACLE: A lot going on. We'll be watching.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's start it right now.

Well, first of all, if Democrats are worried about that one bad night at a debate, and that might lead to one bad night in November, they're probably not comforted by how President Biden answered this question last night.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, AMERICAN TELEVISION HOST: Mr. President, I've never seen a president 36% approval get reelected.

JOE BIDEN, USA PRESIDENT: Well, I don't believe that's my approval. And that's not what our polls show.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if you stay in and Trump is elected, and everything you're warning about comes to pass. How will you feel in January? Biden: I feel as long as I gave it my all I did the British jobs and now I can do. That's what this is about.


BLACKWELL: Whether he can give it his all or if that all is good enough. Those are the central questions facing Democrats right now. A publicly for Democrats in Congress say the president should step aside. Privately more lawmakers are concerned. Sources tell CNN that Virginia is Mark Warner is working to get fellow Senate Democrats on the same page about what the campaign should do.

In his first TV interview since the debate, the President is defiant. He says that he's healthy. He's not too old to stay in the race, and is not swayed by people saying he should drop out of the race.


BIDEN: Look, I mean, if the Lord Almighty could not say Joe, get out of the race and gather race, Lord Almighty, he's not coming down. I mean, these hypotheticals, George, if I mean, if all --

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's not that hypothetical anymore. I grant that they have not requested the meeting. But it's been --

BIDEN: But I've met with them. I've met with a lot of these people. I've talked with them, right. I had an hour conversation with that key. I had more time to dive in Jim Clyburn. I spent time with many hours off and on the last little bit with Chuck Schumer. It's not like I had all the governors, all the governors.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I agree that the Lord Almighty is not going to come down. But if you are told, reliably from your allies, from your friends and supporters in the Democratic Party in the House and the Senate, that they're concerned, you're going to lose the House and the Senate. If you stay in, what will you do?

BIDEN: I'm not going to answer that question. It's not going to happen.


BLACKWELL: With me now is the former governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick. He was a presidential candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary. You're not the Lord Almighty.

DEVAL PATRICK, (D) FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: Victor, good morning. That is so sweet of you to say, I was in that race for 15 minutes. But thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: But you were in it. You were in it. You're not the Lord Almighty, but I'm glad to have you anyway. So --

PATRICK: It's good to be with you.

BLACKWELL: Let's say this. We can stipulate. We know that the President will have to make these decisions. Ultimately, it is up to him.

PATRICK: That's right.

BLACKWELL: But do you believe that the President should step aside and release his delegates?

PATRICK: Listen, as long as Joe Biden is the nominee, I'm with him. I want to be absolutely clear about that. And I want to emphasize your point that nobody can make this decision, except for the President and his decision to withdraw if he makes it is the only way that he steps aside from this race. I totally understand why he feels so determined. He isn't a determined person, even a stubborn person. He's also had an extraordinary impact on policy, on the future of this of this country, incredible administrative and legislative record in this in this first term. I totally get that.

But I also hear and see what you and everyone else also hears and sees about his apparent frailty and the questions that it surfaces that have been around for some while now about whether he's up to the next to the next term. We have to beat Donald Trump, no doubt about it. But we also have to be talking about what we want to accomplish you in these next four years. So if he does withdraw Viktor, I do believe there needs to be albeit a short, competitive process to arrive at who our nominee ought to be going forward. And I think that's a real opportunity for us.


BLACKWELL: So you sent me in two different directions. Let me go with the one I was thinking first, that there's a little space between my question and your answer. My question was, should he release his delegates? And should he step aside? Your answer was, if he is the nominee, I'm with him. So let me get to the half measure here. Do you believe that he is the strongest candidate for Democrats to go up against Donald Trump's?

PATRICK: Well, that's what primaries are for, of course, Victor, and I am avoiding the question because I don't want to presume to be trying to push our presumptive nominee out of that position, he has to make that decision. But he has to make that decision and not just pretend like there is not a lot of concern expressed, certainly externally and probably internally about his capacity to handle his campaign and the next in the next four years.

And I think that just, you know, I can totally understand why it is. The campaign may depend on this sort of historically short attention span of the American people hope that this just blows over. And we get on to, to the business of the campaign and laying out that vision of the next and for the next four years for all of us. But I don't think it's just going to blow over. So I think he has to make the decision and not just behave and the committee and the campaign behave as if this is not an issue that has been on a lot of people's minds for some time.

BLACKWELL: Let me play a bit of the interviewer here. This is the President on offering more proof of his mental fitness and a potential cognitive test.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Have you had the specific cognitive tests? And have you had a neurologist? A specialist, do an examination?

BIDEN: No, no one's that I had? No. Instead, they said, I'm good.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would you be willing to undergo an independent medical evaluation that included neurological and cognitive tests and released the results to the American people?

BIDEN: Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test. Everything we do. You know, not only my campaign and my running world, not and that's not how it sounds like hyperbole. But we are the central nation in the world. I don't know if it was right.


BLACKWELL: Do you think that the President would do himself? Well, it would behoove him to take the cognitive test to release some detailed neurological proof that he is up to the task of not only staying in the race --

PATRICK: Maybe Victor. I mean is it -- I'm sorry.

BLACKWELL: -- but doing the job?

PATRICK: Yes. I hear you. I hear you. It's a humiliating question. You know, particularly given the fact that, that on the other side of this campaign is someone who cannot seem to complete a thought that isn't about him or about hating or hurting somebody else. It is -- look, I just say what I said a second ago. I think that the President has to make that decision that just tried to power through this moment. And it feels to me like he is trying to power through this moment. There's a great deal of skepticism.

At the same time, there is tremendous depth on the Democratic bench so I'm not worried about that. I think that a competitive process gives us a chance to showcase that depth of talent, it also gives us a chance to appeal to the disaffected in our own party and beyond. And it's a great opportunity to come back again and again, to what I think the people have not heard enough from Democrats. And that is, what do we want to do the day after we defeat Donald Trump? What is it this next four years is about? Where do we want to lead the country?

And President Biden and his team have given us an extraordinary Foundation, a set of tools that really make it possible to create economic opportunity for everyone everywhere, Dem's and Republicans, urban, rural, everybody. But we've got to be strategic about that. We have to execute on that. And we have to talk to people about why this next four years is an important opportunity for all of us.

BLACKWELL: And if there is an opening and the president steps aside and there is this process that you said that should happen, will you throw your hat in the ring? Do you want to get back into this for 20? PATRICK: Oh, gracious. You know, I was warned you would ask me that,

Victor. Look, I don't want to presume anything. If the President makes a decision to withdraw, I think I like a whole lot of other people will have to look at this seriously. And we have to look at whether the process is in fact open. I hope it is and if it is, then I and my family and my team will look hard at that.

BLACKWELL: All right, that's enough for now. Former Governor Deval Patrick thanks so much. All right. From headlines to memes about the K hive, it seems like there are several viral momentum that are happening now behind the idea of a Kamala Harris candidacy for president. But could she -- should she replace President Biden on the Democratic ticket?

I'll ask someone with unique perspective former presidential candidate and Senator Carol Moseley Braun. First the President spoke with two black radio hosts before sitting down for his TV interview. Both are here to tell us how their listeners have been reacting.



BLACKWELL: Before the President sat down with George Stephanopoulos, he spoke with two black radio hosts in the battleground states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Both are with me now. Earl Ingram is the host of the Earl Ingraham show in Milwaukee, and Aundrea Lawful- Sanders is the host of the source on WURD in Philadelphia.

Welcome to you both. Congratulations on such a big week. And Earl, let me start with you. And I want to play here the President's answer to your question about his performance in the debate. Here's what he told you.


BIDEN: I had a bad night. I had a bad night. And the fact of the matter is that, you know, it was I screwed up, I made a mistake. And -- but I learned from my father, when you get knocked down, just get back up. Get back up.


BLACKWELL: Did you hear the version of the president similar to one we saw the debate that alarm so many Democrats gauged for me what your exchange was with the President?

EARLY INGRAM, HOST, "THE EARL INGRAM SHOW" ON CIVIC MEDIA RADIO NETWORK: Well, you're talking about a person, myself, who has followed the president for over 45 years. I've watched him from a very young -- when I was a very young man to where he is now. Clearly, not just the president, but any person over a 45 year period is going to there's going to be some changes to who they were as there is with me. I'm not surprised that Joe Biden is not who he was 45 years ago.

I am a little surprised that the Joe Biden of today is different from the Joe Biden of two years ago or even a year ago.


INGRAM: Well, clearly, cognitively, anybody who hears him, and knows of Him and who he has been, will detect that there are some differences in his speech. You know, people attribute that constantly to the fact that he has a speech impediment. He's always had a speech impediment, his entire life. But people hadn't been talking about the fact that he has a speech impediment until, you know, the last few weeks. And clearly, there's something that is different about President Joe Biden.

BLACKWELL: Yes. He says that he hasn't, will not be taking or releasing a cognitive test. Andrea, let me ask you here about your interviews and something I listened to both of them. And there's something that similarly here you each were you asked for questions, and maybe that's what you're allowed to ask by the campaign or the White House. But there were essentially the same questions, both interviews about accomplishments, progress in your respective state, what's at stake in the election, what he has to say about his debate performance? And what he would say to voters who think their vote doesn't matter, or might sit this election out?

Were those questions given to you by the White House or did you have or the campaign or did you have to submit questions ahead of this interview?

ANDREA LAWFUL-SANDERS, HOST, "THE SOURCE" ON WURD: The questions were sent to me for approval, I approve to them.

BLACKWELL: Okay. So the White House sent the questions to you ahead of the interview?



LAWFUL-SANDERS: I've got several questions. eight of them and the four that were chosen were the ones that I approved.

BLACKWELL: Okay. And the reason I ask is not a criticism of either view, it's just that if the White House is trying now to prove the VIM vigor acuity of the President, I don't know how they do that by sending questions first, before the interview so that the President knows what's coming. Let me play here a bit of your interview. This is and you've probably seen it's gotten a lot of attention. This is when he was asked about his accomplishments as president. Let's play it.


BIDEN: I'm proud to be the, as I said, the first Vice President -- first Black woman -- to serve with the Black president.


BLACKWELL: Did you hear as it's being covered, the President say that he was proud to be the first black woman president because that's what the headlines all over the internet is suggesting.

LAWFUL-SANDERS: I find it interesting that they saw and heard that he's what I got from him was that he was intimating that Kamala Harris was the first black woman Vice President, and I guess with a speech impediment, they heard something else and I find it interesting that was the only thing that they picked out of that entire conversation and ran with it. Look, we have a hard way to go in this country. I am listening to the community that is speaking to me every single day on WURD Radio. We are answering, looking at the things that are mattering to us. We can't afford to get excited and fumble and fumble about what folks are thinking about this, the President and his frailty and his speeches. We are concerned about the purging of the government in Project 2025.


We've been talking about this on WURD since January, fully and completely the slashing of the Department of Justice and dismantling the FBI and replacing their traditional independence, from political pressure with fealty to the administration. Those are the things that matter to us in the black community. So when I asked them, what matters most to you that if President Biden has this speech impediment, or that he's slowing down, versus the other person who has all these other things going on, they keep saying to me, we did it on Friday on the source. We did Thursday. We keep asking them. They keep saying the same thing. We want the Democrats to win because we feel like if we do anything else, it's going to be a problem for us.

What I'm concerned about is that no one really seems to be in the community talking to the very people who has to vote.

BLACKWELL: Earl Ingram from Civic Media, Andrea Lawful-Sanders from WURD, thank you both.

President Biden says that he is staying yet it's not ending the conversation among Democrats. Many are now imagining what a Kamala Harris candidacy could look like. Former presidential candidate ambassador and Senator Carol Moseley Braun is here with us with her thoughts.



BLACKWELL: President Biden did not mention vice president Kamala Harris last night. The headlines about the President as whether he should stay in the race. Headlines about her ask if this is now her moment.

Now look at this, CNN's Isaac Dovere put it this way. "Biden always says not to compare him to the Almighty but to compare him to the alternative. And that's exactly what a growing number of Democrats are looking at Harris are doing here."

The vice president says that's our man, she going to stick beside it. The campaign plans to lean on her to boost outreach to black women voters. Today she'll be at the essence Festival in New Orleans here she was last night. And on the 10th, she'll give a speech to a gathering of her fellow AKA's at Alpha Kappa Alpha 71st Boulais in Dallas.

My next guest's career has some parallels with the vice presidents. She was the first and only other black woman elected to the United States Senate. She ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004. And she also says that President Biden should stay at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun is here with me now. She is the chair of the U.S.-African Development Foundation Board of Directors of position she was nominated to buy President Biden.

Madam Ambassador, good to see you again. And thank you for being on with me. You believe that the President should stay at the top of the ticket? Do you believe that he is the strongest candidate against Donald Trump?

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do. And thank you very much for having me. But yes, he should absolutely stay all this chatter about what have you done for me lately, is very discouraging. Because this man has delivered for every constituency I know of, or care about. And he's delivered. He's been really good in office, and how all that gets buried under this conversation about he's been -- he's too old, et cetera, et cetera, he should go at his debate performance was terrible. I agree with him on that.

He owns that. But the fact of the matter is, he's the best shot, we have to keep this country on an even keel, keep us moving forward, keep our democracy intact, keep our leadership in the world intact. So I just think that the chatter should stop. I don't even know where it's coming from unless it's coming from the other side of the aisle. That's a possibility. But the fact is to have Democrats pulling on him is the equivalent of what have you done for me lately back to the song. Right?

BLACKWELL: Well, the chatter is very much within the Democratic Party. I mean, you've now got four sitting members of the House who are calling from the step aside. Former U.S. Senator Mark Warner is now reportedly working toward organizing some Senate Democrats to approach the President about his future as the candidate. How do you reconcile everything you've just said about the president staying at the top of the ticket with the most recent polls that show that he's six points behind former President Trump, but the vice president Kamala Harris is in a statistical tie with Donald Trump?

BRAUN: Well, you know, at the end of the day, it was to get what Schumer said it but the only poll that matters is the ones taken on Election Day. It's whether you get the votes out, and Joe Biden can get the votes out to beat Donald Trump, which is the challenge and I think he can do it. And I'm sticking with him, certainly.

I know for a fact that he has delivered on everything he told the community he was going to do when he was -- when he started, he's delivered on all those things. And I just don't understand how people can have such short memories, or if it's that kind of, I mean, I know it's like roller ball. But at the same time, you know, this man has been good for our community. He's been good for the country has been good for the world. And I don't understand where a lot of this is coming from.

BLACKWELL: So let me put it this way. And I'm not advocating one way or the other, but when you suggest that it's a lack of memory and not remembering what the President has done for the country, and that looks backward.


The question is, what is his capacity over the next four years and the questions about his neurological health, his cognitive health. And I think that's where the framework of this is, and his ability to do the job moving forward.

I mean, if the record is as great of the three and a half years, that's Kamala Harris's record too, right? She spent two years breaking ties in the Senate. I mean, could she not run on that same record?

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, she could. But she -- but he's already said he's not going to step aside. And frankly, I'm bet he's not. I've known Joe Biden now since the time I was in the United States Senate, and serving with him on the Judiciary Committee, which was an adventure in itself, by the way. But I know he can do the job. He's done a job for three and a half years. So it's like one bad debate performance is going to just unearth all of that.

I mean, I -- it's kind of surprising to me. He was terrible in the debate. There's no question about it. But having said that, and he's on that. But having said that, the fact of the matter is the sky is the limit for everybody. And so it's like, where's all this chatter coming from? And why is it coming? I mean, ask the question, dig a little deep, and ask yourself, why is it such that the conversation, we had the other candidates sit up -- stand up there in that debate and lie repeatedly about what he had done and what was going on.

And it's like, well, who's going to pick, the liar who's making you feel better or the guy is telling the truth, but not as elegantly as you might like, I mean, seriously. So I just -- I feel strong, and it's got to be Joe Biden. I'm prepared to stand with him until the end.

BLACKWELL: So what then is your message to, I know you didn't serve with Mark Warner, Senator Warner, he came in after you left Senate.

BRAUN: I didn't.

BLACKWELL: But -- you did? You did serve with him? You didn't. OK. So there are some I think, maybe four or five, who from the 90s are still there? What is your message to those Democrats that potentially he's approaching, to gather to now go to the President, what do you tell your former colleagues in the Senate? BRAUN: Well, remember, what was it Mark Twain who said, I don't belong to an organized group, I'm a Democrat. You know, the fact is, that that's the nature of our party, and that there's different voices saying different things all the time. And so Mark Warner is fully within his rights to do to say whatever he's going to say and make the call that he's calling.

People like me, however, are saying, Mark, you're on the wrong track. You've come to the wrong conclusion here. And we need to move forward with our nominee, Joe Biden.

BLACKWELL: Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, always appreciate having a conversation with you. Thank you so much for being with me this morning.

BRAUN: Thank you. Thank you for having me.


BLACKWELL: All right, the message from some Democrats right now, don't say we didn't warn you. I will speak with one progressive who says their fight should not be about replacing President Biden but about the leader she says, put the party in this situation.


BLACKWELL: Well from the ACLU to actress Taraji P. Henson at the BT awards, you might have seen this new push this week to raise awareness of something called Project 2025. Now, this is not the official agenda of the Trump campaign, but it's a policy wish list. Conservative groups say they'd want to see enacted if the former president returned to the White House. It calls for firing thousands of federal workers, eliminating affirmative action and diversity programs, eliminating the Department of Education and it's more than 900 pages long.

On Friday, the former president claimed on his social media platform, I know nothing about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they're saying. And some of the things they're saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Well, Project 2025 is spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation, whose leaders said this, this week.


KEVIN ROBERTS, PRESIDENT, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: We are in the process of the Second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.


BLACKWELL: Now what frustrates Democrats is that despite the divisive rhetoric and policies, Trump still beats Biden if the election were held today, according to some polls, progressives say they saw this coming. My next guest writes, pushing for Biden to be replaced is not our fight. The Democratic establishment has made clear that progressive voices are not to -- not listen to, which means the predicament establishment Democrats find themselves in is of their doing and is theirs to fix.

Former state senator in Ohio, Nina Turner, is with us now. She was a co-chair of Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2020. Senator, thank you for being with me. I want to pull this thread a little more. This is not your fight. Why is it then? Do we lost the shot? Go ahead. We can hear you.

NINA TURNER, FORMER CO-CHAIR, BERNIE SANDERS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Certainly the neoliberals in the Democratic Party created this mess. They closed down all primary -- the primary -- the total primary process, Victor. And in states like Florida and North Carolina, they totally did not allow any other names to be submitted for the primary. Had we had a robust primary, the challenges and growing pains that the Democratic Party isn't doing right now would have been revealed.


When I say that this is not a fight for progressives I'm not saying that we shouldn't care, we shouldn't keep sounding the alarm and speaking out about what the challenges are in this country. What I am saying is that every candidate, including this President, is moderate and neoliberal in their convictions. And so for us, there will not be a candidate this go around.

BLACKWELL: So if there is, and we discussed this as the top of the show with former Governor Patrick, if there is a short primary, if the President doesn't run, the progressives won't feel the candidate, you won't push, you won't get involved?

TURNER: No. We should definitely get involved. But I'm saying we should lay this conundrum at the feet of the people who created it. Victor, the emperor has no clothes on. And the emperor hasn't had clothes on for quite some time. I remember when former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, during the 2020 presidential election, mentioned some that, you know, mentioned that there may be some cognitive challenges going on with then a sense of former Vice President Biden, people were in arms in the Democratic Party, they tried to push him out because he made those statements.

And we fast forward four years later, Victor, there are many people who surround this President on a regular basis. And what they are saying to the American people, don't believe your lying eyes and don't believe your lying ears. They created this problem. And so they need to fix it.

BLACKWELL: You wrote about --

TURNER: -- like Medicare.

BLACKWELL: I apologize. We have taken some hits on your shot. So that's why I'm jumping in. But continue your thought we got your back.

TURNER: Yes. We need -- progressives need to continue to push, don't get me wrong, and continue to raise hell and force this party to be a party that answers to the people and not to the donor class. But I want to make this clear, we have been sounding the alarm for a very long time. And what neoliberals in my party did was gaslight progressives, and made it seem as though we were trying to be cheerleaders for Trump, when all we were trying to do is to make sure that this party upholds its Democratic values.

And part of that, Victor, is to have a robust primary process, we wouldn't be here, but for those people, so they made the mess, and they need to clean it up. And progressives should actually continue to push.

BLACKWELL: So I read your piece and you said that if there is a moment where the President steps aside, that the woman was here on the stream right now, Kamala Harris, should be next in line. Jeff Weaver who was Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign chair advisor 2020 campaign says, there should be debates, there should be an open process. What would be the impact if this does not go then to the Vice President, or goes -- instead goes to a Newsom or Buttigieg or someone else?

TURNER: I don't think necessarily what Weaver is saying is too far apart from me. If they want to go to that convention and allow the delegates to vote, that's fine. But tactically, tactically, Victor, there's only one person who is -- has been on the ballot in all 50 states, one person who has served side by side by this President, now I'm not in love with the policy positions of the Vice President, she very much will be a moderate and a neoliberal. But I'm speaking tactically here, the person who can take on the money that has been raised, the person -- position is the current Vice President.

If they think they're going to skip over her, we know that race and gender is still, unfortunately, a component in the fabric of America. You can't just skip over her like that. And I would say that if the Vice President was of another ethnicity and gender, given that we only have four months, she is the best position. So there's no need to jump to a Buttigieg or Gavin Newsom, or anybody else who they might try to pull up.

But if for sure they want to have a vote, then they can do that. But if it is the Vice President, we know goodwill that those delegates are going to go to the Vice President, so I'm not for sure and tell us any more, Victor, this is serious business. I am ashamed of my party for putting us in this position. If we firmly believe that Donald J. Trump is the biggest threat to democracy, which is he is a neo fascist, then Victor, why would my party play games like this? They're playing games. See, that class of people they're going to be all right, but big momma's and big -- and that is a problem.

BLACKWELL: Nina Turner, thank you so much for being with me. We had a few technical issues, but we certainly got the message and the passion behind it. Thank you so much for being with me this morning.

TURNER: Thank you.


BLACKWELL: Taylor Casey has been missing now for two weeks in the Bahamas. Her family in Chicago feels that not enough is being done to find her. They're calling on the U.S. government to help. Taylor's mother joins us live, next.


BLACKWELL: The family of an American woman who disappeared in the Bahamas is now pleading with the FBI to get involved in this case, 41- year-old Taylor Casey was last seen on June 19th around Paradise Island, where she was attending a yoga retreat. And so far, authorities have found Casey's cell phone and journal. But her family and friends are concerned about how police and retreat organizers are handling the case.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN the department is aware of reports of a U.S. citizen missing in the Bahamas, but declined to comment on Casey's case specifically. Taylor's mother, Colette Seymore, is here along with Taylor's friend Emily Williams, thank you both ladies for being with me. And Colette let me start with you. You said at a statement that what you learned after meetings with local authorities and retreat managers is disturbing and infuriating.


Let me start with the investigation. What do you find dissatisfying about the Royal Bahamian police and how they're handling this case? That's for you Ms. Seymore.

COLETTE SEYMORE, TAYLOR CASEY'S MOTHER: Yes. It was very disturbing that when we got to the Bahamas, there were no posters or flyers put up about Taylor, my missing child, and they were just like really nonchalant, and, you know, just not acting like it's their child missing. You know, I feel like I want people to act like it's their child missing, and do what you would do if it was your child missing.

BLACKWELL: So just a lack of urgency you believe from the police department. They found your daughter cell phone, have you learned whether any relevant information has been pulled from that phone or if the forensic work has even begun?

SEYMORE: No, actually, they said they couldn't even open the phone, but they wouldn't give it to me. I asked them, can I please take it home with me? And they said it's evidence and, no, but they told me they couldn't open the phone. So what use was it to them? I didn't understand that.

BLACKWELL: Emily, I know you traveled as well to the Bahamas. And the description at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, where Taylor was you called deeply upsetting. Why? Do you believe that the managers at this retreat are intentionally withholding information?

EMILY WILLIAMS, FRIEND OF TAYLOR CASEY, WHO IS MISSING IN THE BAHAMAS: I don't know the answer to that question. But what I can tell you is that the way that we are engaged with is not what one would expect from a yoga retreat center that had been with a person for two and a half weeks in this deeply intensive teacher training. And we did not feel that we had the kind of regard that really should come from the yoga retreat center in terms of our loved one being missing. As Colette said, there were no missing person flyers on the yoga retreat property. You know, travelers had checked in the week after Taylor went missing from the retreat center. And they were -- they checked out because they were not informed prior to their arrival that Taylor had gone missing. And so when we think about those details, it's hard to believe that they were very concerned about finding Taylor or even with finding out what happened to Taylor.

BLACKWELL: Collette, do you believe your daughter is in danger?

SEYMORE: Sometimes I do. You know, I try not to think that way. But yes, yes, I do. Because Taylor hasn't called me. I believe if Taylor wasn't in danger, you know, and able to pick up a phone and call me, I know Taylor would call me. I know for a fact. So yes, I do believe Taylor is in danger.

BLACKWELL: Quickly to you, Colette, let me stay with you. What are the conversations you've had with the State Department or the FBI? You heard what they've told us? What did they told you?

SEYMORE: Well, I haven't spoken to the FBI at all. One time I spoke to the FBI. And they just asked me for my e-mail address. That was it. And that was all. I haven't spoken to the FBI at all.

BLACKWELL: And the State Department?

SEYMORE: And local authorities are -- they told me they would reach out. The State Department said that they would reach out.


BLACKWELL: Well, Colette Seymore and Emily Williams, I thank you for being on with me for just a few minutes. Her name is Taylor Casey, missing for about two and a half weeks now in the Bahamas. Here's her face. Here's the poster. That is now from the Royal Bahamian police force. We will stay on this and we will have you ladies back as this case continues. Thank you so much for being with me this morning. And we'll be right back.


BLACKWELL: The first Asian American bachelorette starts handing out roses on Monday. Jenn Tran was named the bachelorette after appearing on The Bachelor this spring. New Jersey born daughter of Vietnamese immigrants recently spoke about being the first Asian American lead and the franchise with the news.


JENN TRAN, BACHELORETTE: Well, you know, I'm the first Asian American bachelorette. And I know that being in the limelight, like you get a lot of backlash for it and racism is specifically. You know what, just you know what you're doing for a reason. And so there are going to be haters out there, there's going to be racism out there. But to know that, you know, you're doing it for a reason and it just be strong willed and strong headed. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: In recent years, the franchise has featured its first black leads and last September the golden bachelor which showcase older contestant's debut.

All right today's shout out is to a woman in Oklahoma working to preserve the language and culture of the Muscogee Nation. Eli Rowland- Chang is the director of the Muscogee Language Preservation Program. Right now that group estimates there are between 250 and 400 fluent Muscogee speakers in the world.



ELI ROWLAND-CHANG, DIRECTOR, MUSCOGEE LANGUAGE PRESERVATION PROGRAM: Our elders, you know, they were forced into boarding schools where they weren't allowed to speak Muscogee. And they were punished for speaking English. And then those that didn't, get forced into a boarding school. Even at their public schools, their teachers would punish them for speaking in their native languages.


BLACKWELL: Rowland-Chang has gotten the language curriculum into 30 public schools and launched Zoom classes that are open to everyone and a new website. Eli Rowland-Chang and the team at the Muscogee Language Preservation Program, I see you.

Thanks for joining me today. I'll see you back here next Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Smerconish is up next.