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Congress Warns President Against Executive Action on Immigration; MIT Professor's Controversial Comments on Obamacare Examined; ISIS Leader Reportedly Releases Audio Tape

Aired November 14, 2014 - 08:00   ET



REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: We're going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, President Obama has a plan to overhaul the immigration system on his own -- an executive order on anchor babies entitling millions to stay in the U.S. Republicans say this would be war. Is the word "shutdown" actually being used already?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Chilling message, the leader of ISIS reportedly calling the U.S. coalition, quote, "terrified, weak and powerless." This as ISIS may be forming a new alliance.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Mystery illness, a strange illness has paralyzed 75 children in some 29 states. Doctors are baffled, parents terrified. We have an update for you this morning on what health officials are trying to do.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning, welcome back to your NEW DAY. Happy Friday on this November 14th just after 8:00 in the east. Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota here with news that President Obama is pushing the envelope on immigration. He plans to take executive action and soon, perhaps as soon as next week. He says the system is broken and he can no longer wait for Congress to fix it.

CAMEROTA: Republican leaders are ready for the challenge. House Speaker John Boehner says they will fight the president, quote, "tooth and nail." The plan itself we're told is still coming together, but it could protect millions from deportation. We have comprehensive coverage for you with Michelle Kosinski at the White House and Athena Jones in Washington. Good morning, ladies. Michelle, let me start with you. The president is starting with something contentious. How do they think that's going to go at the White House.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They know that it's going to be an issue with Republicans. This has been well-known, it's been talked about for more than a year now that the president is going to do this. but what the White House says is, well, look, we've been talking about this for so long. Congress had many, many chances to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It's not as if they haven't been warned. The president has almost given them a deadline to act, and they haven't acted. Here's some of what he said during his Asian trip.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I gave the House over a year to go ahead and at least give a vote to the Senate bill. They failed to do so. And I indicated to Speaker Boehner several months ago that if, in fact, Congress failed to act I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better. And that's going to happen. That's going to happen before the end of the year.


KOSINSKI: He's also said that there could be something -- he's tempered some of his statements at times saying, you know what, I'm going to do this, but if Congress then passes something to supersede what I have done through executive action, well, they can do that, too. So Congress, of course, has that option to act after the president acts and that could change the whole thing. But what the president has said clearly, wants to get done is some kind of reform of what he calls the broken immigration system, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Athena, I want to talk to you about this, because there are two, at least two big lightning rod issues in this plan that we're told he is considering, namely that he would protect the parents of babies born here in the United States, and also he would protect the parents of children brought here illegally. So these are two issues that the Republicans probably will not take sitting down.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, and this is already an explosive issue on Capitol Hill. Just listen to some of the language that we've heard from Republican leaders. You heard House Speaker John Boehner say they're going to fight tooth and nail. He also said the president will get burned if he goes around Congress and goes it alone on the immigration actions.

Let's listen to the latest warning from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He is going to be the majority leader come January. Let's listen to what he had to say just yesterday.


MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The American people elected divided government. And we'd like for the president to recognize the reality that he has the government that he has, not the one that he wishes he had, and work with us to try to find a way to improve our immigration system.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JONES: Now Senator McConnell has also said the president going around Congress is going to poison the well with Congress. They won't be able to get anything done. What's unclear right now, Alisyn, is just what Republicans on the Hill are going to do to fight back. We know one of the next big things that has to be passed on the Hill is a spending bill to make sure the government is funded, so what's going to happen with that, that's the big question, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: That's a great question. Athena Jones, Michelle Kosinski, thanks so much for laying it out for us this morning. Let's go over to Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so let's play through the thinking here. We're going to bring in Michael Smerconish, one of our best thinkers, the host of CNN's "Smerconish." It's not the most creative title in the world, but don't let that jar you.


CUOMO: He's a CNN political commentator and he's also the host of "The Michael Smerconish Program" on Sirius XM. It's good to have you Mike.


CUOMO: All right, so let's go through this. You take it from the Republican perspective. Where are they on this? Why would they be resistant?

SMERCONISH: If I'm in the Republican Party and I'm looking at this, I have to be cognizant of what's coming in 2016 assuming I really do want to win the White House. And I say it that way because I'm convinced, Chris, a number of these individuals in the House and the Senate are only concerned about self-preservation. But they need to be worried about their ability to win in 2016, and in order to do so, they need the Hispanic vote. Neil Neuhaus, who was Mitt Romney's pollster in 2012, said if the dynamics stay the same, given the changing demographics, they will need 64 percent of the white vote. That far exceeds anything that John McCain or Mitt Romney were able to obtain. So they're playing with fire on this, is my point.

CUOMO: Why do we keep hearing the disposition is that they want to do nothing until the end of the year? Isn't that kind of telling the voters you brought us in to get things done, we all say we will, and now we're not going to it?

SMERCONISH: I think because the changing dynamic of the Senate. They want to wait until they're in control.

CUOMO: Wait until they have their seats.

SMERCONISH: Exactly. And look, this plays to the base. Make no mistake about it that obstinacy might be a way that the Democrats would describe what the Republicans are doing, but they are giving their core electorate exactly what they desire, because I can tell from you answering the telephones on this issue, the core constituency of the GOP regards this as nothing short of amnesty.

CUOMO: OK, now, do they? Because let's think through what this issue actually is on the other side of it. This issue is called the "anchor babies." I used that term this morning. I shouldn't have. It's ugly and it's offensive to what it is. What it really goes to is the root of the most destructive part of our current immigration policy, you're splitting up families. They come here, here illegally, they have a baby, and the family gets split up. Maybe the kid stays. We don't have a workable formation. This goes to the heart of the Latino vote because it shows a real lack of sympathy. You have to come up with some kind of fix. So why avoid this one? Don't you have to take it on?

SMERCONISH: In other words, you would think this would be the easier fix and would fit with a core tenet of the GOP, which is all about family values.

CUOMO: That's right.

SMERCONISH: In fact, to your point, I think that's why Jeb Bush, if you remember several months ago when he started to float that trial balloon pertaining to 2016, his words were "I regard this as an act of love" and I think he was making your point. That didn't go over so well in certain parts of the GOP base.

CUOMO: Then do what the president threatens you with doing, which is pass your own bill that helps out these families one way or the other and own the issue, because it's going to come back to haunt you in 2016, it's going to come back earlier than that.

SMERCONISH: So this is the solution. I think the solution that you've just identified is the president takes executive action at some point in the next two weeks but he delays implementation. So he puts 30 days, he puts 60 days on the clock and he says to the GOP controlled Senate you have until the end of January, the end of February, and if you don't like it, then you pass something that I can sign and it will supersede my executive action. That's the way out.

CUOMO: Because everything else about workers and general immigration, that gets into the weeds. It's going to be hard to compromise on. But splitting up family, having these kids in the balance as political pawns is not the place to start.


CUOMO: All right, let's switch topics. Gruber, what's your take? One, do you believe he is an architect of Obamacare?

SMERCONISH: I don't know. I really don't know. I paid attention to all the videos. I've watched it. I find that now he's getting thrown under the bus by people who were supportive of the Affordable Care Act who say, you know, he really wasn't that significant. Look, the guy's a bit of a knucklehead to come out of MIT and to say that.

CUOMO: Judge for yourself, listen to what that professor at MIT said.


JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT PROFESSOR: We had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in, made explicit healthy pay in, sick people get the money, it would not have passed. Just like people, transparent, lack of transparency is a huge political advantage, and basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.


CUOMO: I would call his quote, his characterization of Americans, that's the arrogance of a certain type of professor class. But that's what do you with all legislation is sell what is best about it, right? Isn't that what do you?

SMERCONISH: So that's great fodder politically, right, because you can roll that out now and use it in the next cycle and it fits all of the talking points in terms of the haphazard way in which this was passed. So horrific that he would have said such a thing.

I don't think that's the real issue. I think the real issue is what else he has said that seems to support the plaintiff claim in the King case that's now going before the Supreme Court of the United States. So that sound bite is the one getting all the attention, but where he seems to buy into the contention of the plaintiffs who are seeking to strike down Obamacare, that's where I think he really is going to play a significant role.

CUOMO: And how so?

SMERCONISH: Well, because the argument in that case is that there shouldn't be subsidies in those states that didn't set up their own exchange. There is other tape out there, I've watched it, where he says that the whole purpose of setting up the subsidies was to encourage those states to set up their exchange. So you have to get into the weeds on this, but he seems to be supportive of that plane of contention. And I suspect they'll try and use his argument, his verbiage in bringing down Obamacare in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.

CUOMO: But what would make him that relevant?

SMERCONISH: If, to go back to your initial point, he really was the architect of Obamacare.

CUOMO: You would have to have such proof that there was some type of pernicious design of this that was done to do something that was unlawful.

SMERCONISH: Chris, as you know, this now comes down to what was the intent, right. And so you're going to have these House and Senate staffers who are going to say the intent always was to provide subsidies regardless of whether you set up your exchange. Boy, we sound like a couple of eggheads now, don't way. And they'll say, look, here's Professor Gruber who makes that exact same argument. CUOMO: The intent of the law was to cover the uninsured and try deal

with some of the runaway costs of health care as best they could at the time. There was a tremendous need. Everybody knows it who deals with health care. Doesn't the conversation end there?


CUOMO: About the righteousness of purchase? Whether the action gets it done is another issue.

SMERCONISH: No, because the argument I would maintain in the King case is one of saying those exchanges that were not set up by the states, those states that didn't set up changes and they nevertheless provide subsidies have to go away. If you take the subsidies away, then the financial underpinning of the affordable care act is in jeopardy.

CUOMO: I get what you're saying now. You're saying that it will wind up having the practical effect of taking away the funding mechanism that makes Obamacare work as opposed to undermining it as a hoax.


CUOMO: I got you. See, Smerconish you have to slow down. It takes me long enough to say your name, you got to slow down.

SMERCONISH: I call the guy MIT knucklehead, listen to me.

CUOMO: No, you're smart and I love having you on NEW DAY. Thank you very much.


HANNITY: Have a good weekend. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Michaela and I slow it way down for Chris, Michael, OK, so remember that.


CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, there was speculation this week that the leader of ISIS had been killed, but now a chilling new message believed to be from Abu Bakr al Baghdadi has surfaced, and it includes new threats against the U.S. and its allies. The terror group says it will begin minting its own currency using gold, silver, and copper, all of this as reports emerge of a possible alliance between ISIS and Al Qaeda. CNN's Arwa Damon has more.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is the leader of ISIS out of hiding? Days after he was reportedly wounded, perhaps even killed in an air strike, an audio message purported by of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi released by the group on social media. In the message he calls the U.S.-led coalition terrified, weak, and powerless, and calls upon his followers to erupt volcanos of jihad everywhere. U.S. air strikes in Syria have killed dozens of ISIS militants and are

taking aim at the Al Qaeda linked Khorasan group. The latest round on Thursday targeting at least one top operative. But al Baghdadi deems the coalition air power a failure, saying that they will be forced to send ground forces to their deaths. The terrorist leader pointed to President Obama's plan to send more troops under the claim they're advisers, urging fighters to battle the tyrant and their soldiers.

And this, U.S. officials believe ISIS and the Al Qaeda-linked group al Nusra are now cooperating in an ad hoc limited bases on the battlefield in Syria. So far they see no indication the two groups have any formal partnership, but it could be a dangerous sign of alliances to come.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Only for the last several months have they not been working together. We certainly are focused most on ISIL at this point in time, but we'll certainly be tracking this closely.

DAMON: As the United States prepares to send 1,500 additional military personnel to Iraq, the nation's top defense officials reiterated --

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: U.S. military personnel will not be engaged in a ground combat.

DAMON: But officials say Iraq will need 80,000 of its own troops to recapture territory it has lost to ISIS, leaving the door open for greater U.S. involvement.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I'm not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we're certainly considering it.


DAMON: Not surprising that Dempsey at this stage would not want to take that potential option off the table. He and others know only too well just how volatile this situation in the region is and just how quickly it can change. When it comes to a U.S. strategy, however, as much as America may want to say that it does not need to intertwine the policies when it comes to Syria and Iraq, well, those two battlefields at this stage are effectively one.

CAMEROTA: All right, Arwa Damon, thanks so much for breaking it all down for us. Let's get over to Michaela for more news.

PEREIRA: All right, here we go, 14 minutes past the hour. Prosecutors have added terrorism now to the charges against suspected Pennsylvania cop killer Eric Frein. He is also facing the death penalty for allegedly killing state trooper Brian Dixon and wounding another. The charges were upgraded after Frein's apparent motive was revealed. He told police he wanted to change the government and said he carried out the attack to wake people up. You'll recall Frein was captured after a 4-day manhunt in northeast Pennsylvania. Lawmakers have drafted a bill proposing to block social accurate

benefits for suspected Nazi war criminals. The bipartisan legislation targets anyone who took part in the persecution of Jews and others during World War II, following reports dozens of Nazi suspects collected millions of dollars in Social Security payments even after being forced out of the U.S.

The House set to vote today to approve the Keystone oil pipeline project, taking on new significance against -- ahead, rather, of Louisiana state Senate runoff next month. The pipeline would transport crude oil to the Gulf Coast from Canada. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it passes Congress, pending legal action on the actual pipeline route makes it hard to evaluate. Some landowners along the proposed route and environmentalists have expressed great concerns about this project.

Clayton Kershaw is going to need a bigger trophy case. The L.A. Dodgers star named the National League's most valuable player Thursday, just a day after he won the Cy Young award as the league's best pitcher. That hasn't been done in the National League since, what, 1968, when hall of famer Bill Gibson did it. Mike Trout named American League MVP after being runnerup the fast two years.

A good night for SoCal baseball, just saying.

CUOMO: It's true, it's true. Very nice for you guys out West. How do you feel like about that?

PEREIRA: I feel pretty great. Yes, why do I feel like you're going to say something --


CAMEROTA: Even Chris can't argue with this, but he's trying to find a way to argue with this.

CUOMO: Listen, you have to give the glory when it is due.

PEREIRA: Excellent.

CUOMO: And it is due, good for you.

CAMEROTA: I keep waiting for a but --

PEREIRA: And a but.

CUOMO: Because you two are inherently suspicious in a negative way but I stay positive.

CAMEROTA: Well, all right, take a note what have time this was, everyone.

OK. On to --one of our top stories. He was believed to be dead but the leader of ISIS is apparently alive and issuing a warning for the U.S. We'll discuss that with Fareed Zakaria. CUOMO: Plus, kids across the nation suddenly becoming paralyzed, even

worse, officials do not know what's causing it. Is there a way to protect our kids? We're going to speak with a medical analyst.


CAMEROTA: Terrified, weak and powerless, that's what the leader of ISIS is calling the U.S.-led coalition. An audiotape believed to be from al Baghdadi was released days after there was speculation that he was killed in an air strike.

So, what are his latest threats and is there renewed reason for concern this morning?

Here to talk about all of it and more is CNN's Fareed Zakaria. He is the host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

Fareed, thanks so much for coming into the studio. Great to see you.


CAMEROTA: OK. So, it appears al Baghdadi was not killed in the airstrike and we know this, because in the audiotape that was released, he refers to things that happened this week after he was thought to have possibly been taken out. How significant is this audiotape?

ZAKARIA: It's not terribly significant. Look, it's very hard to target individuals. You have to have good intelligence, they have to stay put in one place, these kind of things take often months. As we know from the bin Laden raid, it took years, and bin Laden stayed in one place. Baghdadi is moving around a lot.

What's significant it reminds us the taunts, the taunt, the bait that he sets, is because he wants the United States engaged, he wants to be the leader of the most important terrorist organization fighting the United States. He doesn't want to be one of the citizen radical groups competing for market share. He has effectively replaced al Qaeda. And the only way to do that is take on the 800-pound gorilla.

CAMEROTA: One of the things that he refers to in the audiotape is that more U.S. advisers are heading to Anbar. That was a decision that the president made and General Martin Dempsey yesterday said something that made it seem as though he is open to combat forces or as we call them boots on the ground, going back to Iraq.

Listen to what he said.


GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I'm not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces but we're certainly considering it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: What does that tell you, they're considering more U.S. forces helping along the border?

ZAKARIA: I'll tell you what that's about, because I've talked to some people in the government. What's happening is the Iraqi government is trying, has begun to make efforts to bring in the Sunni tribes, to bring in the Sunnis, and the reason you have the collapse in Iraq is that the Sunnis are not fighting ISIS, sympathizing. The Sunnis feel excluded, they say we don't trust the Shia government. We don't trust the Shia army. We will only put skin in the game if the United States gets more involved, but the United States takes the lead like the surge under David Petraeus.

So, the U.S. is considering whether in order to get this humpty dumpty of the Iraqi army back together, it should put more boots on the ground. I think it is a bit of a slippery slope, because the problem is how long do you stay, and the minute the U.S. forces leave won't we be back to the same problem.

The fundamental problem is, Iraq as a nation is not sticking together. The Shia don't include the Sunnis and the Sunnis don't trust the Shia enough. They've got to sort that out because it's an emergency now, there's an impulse to send people in. The minute you withdraw them you have the same problem all over again.

CAMEROTA: Maybe this is an impossible task to get Iraq to stick together.

ZAKARIA: You know, there are people in Iraq -- senior people in the government who have told me maybe we should accept the reality of Iraq and train the Shia militias and Sunni militias. There is already a Kurdish militia, and let them all fight, they're all fighting on the same side rather than trying to create this unified Iraqi army which will have Shias and Sunnis and Kurds happily living together and fighting together.

I think here is something to be said for maybe just a kind of coming to terms with reality rather than trying to impose this idea of a unitary multi-sectarian Iraq.

CAMEROTA: Because otherwise, it's impossible here at home and the U.S. not to hear it as mission creep.

ZAKARIA: It is mission creep, there's no question it is. In Iraq, at least you have a coherent strategy which is you have a local partner on the ground. The United States can use air power, they can do ground power.

When you get to Syria, it gets complicated because you really don't have any local partners on the ground off significant strength. And so, what happens is, a wonderful report in the "New York Times" points out in Raqqa, the United States has been bombing, the residents are upset, annoyed.

Not that they sympathize with is it's that U.S. bombing just creates instability, just creates chaos. It means no electricity. It means no food, and so, that's the problem with the bombing only strategy.

Bombing destabilizes. You need ground forces to then stabilize and there are few in Syria that the United States can count on.

CAMEROTA: Let's move on to another chaotic hot spot, Ukraine. NATO says Russian forces and equipment are prosing the border into Ukraine, Putin denies it. What's happening?

ZAKARIA: Everyone is somewhat puzzled by it. There seems to be one military rationale that makes sense, which is these separatist towns are somewhat dispersed and so the Russians might be trying to create a kind of defensive line, a defensible link among all these towns in eastern Ukraine, towns that are pro-Russian and that are, you know, in a sense vulnerable to the Ukrainian government come in saying we're going to take back our territory or something.

So, that might be the answer. By the way, I should say, of course, Russian forces are going in, this is a standard tactic, they deny it and we later discover it was true.

The most troubling part about what's happening here and this is parallel to the Middle East is, we now have reports that almost 1.5 million people have left this area -- half of them to Russia, half of them to the other part of Ukraine. So, the area is getting depopulated which is a sign that the locals on the ground don't think the violence has finished. They don't think the civil war is over.

Trust the locals, they know when a cease-fire is real and it's holding and obviously, they're telling us they think there's still some fighting to come.

CAMEROTA: The G-20 summit starts tomorrow in Australia. Will other world leaders hold Putin to task for all of this?

ZAKARIA: You know, the problem here is, everyone is willing to hold Putin to task, very few people are willing to pay a price for it. The Australians have been very tough and they are the host, you might remember the Australian prime minister said that he was going to shut front Vladimir Putin which is a rugby term, you bang up against him or something like that. We'll see if he makes good on that in the sense of confronting Putin.

But, so far, while there have been some sanctions, let's give the Europeans credit, there's a line beyond which nobody wants to go, because militarily there isn't that much you can do, some things you can do and economically, it doesn't seem to make that much difference to Putin. Putin's popularity has gone from I think it was the low 60s a couple years ago, now in the mid 80s, so whatever Putin is doing domestically, it's working for him.

CAMEROTA: We'll see what happens this weekend. Fareed Zakaria, great to see you.

And be sure to watch "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS", Sundays, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Let's go over to Chris.

CUOMO: A mystery illness taking a toll on kids nationwide, so far left dozens of kids paralyzed. The question is, can we do anything to prevent our kids from getting it? We'll talk with a medical analyst.

Plus, a new series on our sister network HLN is giving students a chance of a lifetime. They get to transform small businesses. We'll talk to Ty Pennington about his new show.