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New Day Sunday
U.N. Security Council Set To Meet Today Over Escalating Violence; Israeli Warplanes Strike Building Housing News Media; Biden Faces Pressure To Broker Peace As Violence Escalates; At Least 174 Dead In Israeli Airstrikes; Major U.S. Businesses Loosen Mask Restrictions For Fully Vaccinated; New CDC Mask Guidance Brings Mix Of Relief And Questions; House To Vote On Legislation Creating Jan 6 Commission This Week. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired May 16, 2021 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul, with some escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict now in its seventh day. There is no end date as far as they can see. Both sides are exchanging fire. What the Biden administration is now saying though about the violence.
SANCHEZ: And as more Americans unmask, questions remain about how the CDC is going to enforce new guidelines, a key question, can people be trusted to abide by the honor system?
PAUL: And days of searching, this mysterious phone call and an anonymous handover, how the formally missing tiger known as India was finally recovered safely.
SANCHEZ: And an emotional induction, the late Kobe Bryant officially taking his place in the basketball hall of fame.
PAUL: 6:01, you're up early on a Sunday morning. We are certainly grateful for it. It is May 16th. We're grateful to have you with us. Hey, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Hey, Christi. We missed you yesterday. Glad you're back with us today on Sunday.
Look, the U.N. Security Council is set to meet this morning to discuss the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, as international concern escalates over a violent back and forth.
PAUL: Yes. We want to show you some new video here of what the Israel Defense Forces say is the home of Hamas's leader in Gaza. Hit there by an airstrike today. Now, the IDF says he wasn't hurt but we're also seeing the moment that journalists evacuated a 12-story building in Gaza, later leveled, by the way, by Israeli warplanes. Now, the Associated Press is calling for evidence from the IDF that Hamas military intelligence assets were also inside. SANCHEZ: Yes, "Al Jazeera's" acting director calling the strike, as you see here, a war crime. The Biden administration is now facing growing international pressure to step up its intervention. President Biden saying that in calls with leaders in the region that Israel has a right to defend itself, but also that he's concerned about innocent Palestinians, including many children losing their lives. The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowing that the airstrikes will continue if the rockets being fired by Hamas continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel has responded forcefully to these attacks and we will continue to respond forcefully until the security of our people is reinstated and restored.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: And notably Secretary of State Antony Blinken apparently calling the head of the "Associated Press" offering -- quote -- "His unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world and he noted the indispensability of their reporting in the conflict zones." Blinken also expressing relief that the "Associated Press" team on the ground in Gaza remain safe.
PAUL: We want to go live to Israel with you now. CNN's Hadas Gold is in the city of Ashdod where she again had to take shelter. That again happened just a short time ago after rocket siren sounded. Hadas, how is everybody there? You're all obviously OK, we're grateful for that, but talk to us about what it is like there this morning.
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, we are in Ashdod. We're just about 15 1/2 miles from Gaza, which is just to the south behind me. And you're right within the past hour we did have red alert siren, which means that everybody in the area has to go into a -- or should go into a protected area, and we heard at least four explosions.
And actually, just now we are hearing what sounds like aircraft overhead. And the pattern that we have been seeing over the past few days is we'll hear aircraft overhead, they might do some strikes, and then we might hear a red alert siren and rockets being launched towards this area.
Tel Aviv also last night received some rockets, some -- about 2,900 that Israel says have been fired from Gaza into Israel since this conflict began seven days ago. Now, Israel says that the Iron Dome has intercepted 90 percent of rockets that could have hit populated areas.
They are continuing to strike Gaza. They say they have struck hundreds of militant targets including things like rocket launchers, buildings. They say also the houses that belong to Hamas leaders.
They said they've also inflicted damage on what they call the Hamas Metro, which was a series of tunnels they say were underground, all throughout Gaza. Thousands of kilometers which they say not only housed important Hamas material but also was how Hamas militants traveled around Gaza. But the death toll and the destruction is rising to alarming rates in Gaza. At least 174 people have been killed, including 47 children. That's according to health officials in Gaza.
In Israel, 10 people have been killed, including two children and a soldier. Now, one of those buildings that was destroyed in Gaza yesterday was a building that houses amongst other things the offices of the "Associated Press" and "Al Jazeera."
Now, Israel says that they called in advance and told the building's occupants to evacuate. And the "A.P." and "Al Jazeera" said none of their staff were harmed but they say that it was very close, and they only had about an hour to get all of their things out.
Now, Israel says that Hamas was using that building to house military intelligence. Israel says that Hamas often uses civilian locations in order to hide behind civilians as shields. But this attack on the building is receiving very, very swift and harsh condemnation not only from media organizations, but we've also heard from President Biden expressing concern over this, over the State Department expressing concern over the safety of journalists.
And a lot of questions here about, you could call it the risk reward of why Israel targeted this building. The "A.P." is asking for evidence that Hamas was using this building. They say that they have never seen any evidence of Hamas being there.
The idea has not yet provided that saying, simply that Hamas uses civilian locations for -- to protect its asset, using civilians as shields. The IDF has released other images which they show prove that Hamas is using civilian locations to hide behind.
But as we speak this morning, we have been seeing red alert sirens throughout southern Israel. We have experienced some of them here. We continue to hear airplanes flying overhead. This does not seem to be deescalating anytime soon, despite the growing pressure and concern from the international community.
PAUL: Hadas Gold in Israel. You and the crew stay safe there. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.
So, the escalating violence in Israel and Gaza obviously forcing the White House to escalate its response as well. Top administration officials we know are working the phones to express their concern, including President Biden before he heads out to his home in Delaware. That was yesterday actually.
SANCHEZ: Let's get to CNN's Kevin Liptak. He's traveling with the president in Wilmington. Kevin, between juggling vaccines and COVID restrictions, there are bumps in the economy with rising inflation, cyber security issue affecting the fuel supply, and obviously his own efforts to pass a multitrillion dollars infrastructure plan, Biden now dealing with violence in the Middle East. What more do we know about how he's handling this situation? KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, this issue is taking on new urgency in the White House. I'm told the president and his aides growing increasingly concerned about the civilian deaths as this violence intensifies. And you saw that urgency play out yesterday with the president when he spoke on the phone with the prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.
This was the second time in four days that the president spoke to Netanyahu about the situation there. And you saw in how the White House described that call some subtle shifts in language that reflects this growing concern. They said three times that the president raised concerns about developments on the ground there. They didn't use the word concerns at all after that first phone call. They also used a new word, Palestinians. They didn't mention the Palestinians at all earlier in the week.
They said the president noted that the currently period of the conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians including children. He raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists, and reinforced the need to ensure their protection that, of course, after the air strike that leveled the building housing the bureaus for the "A.P.," "Al Jazeera," and other news organizations.
Now, with Abbas the president expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom, and economic opportunity that they deserve. So, those are subtle shifts but they are important.
Of course, the president is not the first U.S. leader to deal with this situation. He came into office not necessarily focused on starting a peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He has focused elsewhere. But the president is focused right now, I'm told, on efforts by other regional partners to develop some sort of cease fire agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Ultimately the president's influence in all of this, the influence of any U.S. president is limited. The U.S. doesn't engage directly with Hamas. They consider it a terrorist organization. And they're relying on countries like Egypt and Qatar to sort of negotiate between the two sides to come to some sort of disarmament.
Now, there is an American envoy in the region right now from the State Department. He's meeting with senior Israeli officials while he's there. But the president, we're told, is keeping very close touch with leaders in the Middle East. There were 25 calls as of Wednesday between American officials and their counter parts in countries like Egypt and Qatar. The president updated Netanyahu and Abbas yesterday on those conversations, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Kevin Liptak in Wilmington, Delaware. Thank you so much for the update. Let's dig deeper and discuss with CNN global affairs analyst Aaron David Miller.
[06:10:00] He's a former Middle East negotiator for the State Department, also a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Sir, always a pleasure to chat with you. We appreciate you sharing part of your Sunday with us.
At this point, neither Israel nor Hamas are signaling that they are ready for a de-escalation. A cynic might look at this situation and say that because of the current political circumstances in Israel and among the Palestinians that politically both sides have something to gain from this conflict. From your perspective, what calculation is each side making here, and where do you see a potential path to at least temporary peace?
AARON DAVID MILLER, SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Yes. I don't want to make any predictions because the 2014 Israeli-Hamas confrontation went on for 50 days. But after seven days, I think it's possible that we've reached the point where both Hamas and the Israelis have essentially accomplished everything they want to, and they risk losing the gains that they have accomplished.
On the Israeli side, and Kevin referred to it, I think that clearly international support is wearing very thin. The Israeli strike on the office building that houses "Jazeera" and "A.P." unless there was a terribly important military target, to strike the press, it's never a good idea. The press and the Israelis haven't provided much explanation as to why they did it.
Humanitarian situation in Gaza is extremely dire, water, electricity shortages. And Palestinian casualties are rising. One hundred seventy- four on the Palestinian side, there are 11 on the Israeli side. So, it may well be that the Israelis will in fact now in the next day or two be open to a cease fire.
Hamas' part I think they have achieved quite a lot. They have undermined Mahmoud Abbas. They presented themselves as the defender of the Palestinian cause when it comes to Jerusalem. But they have lost plenty now in terms of senior commanders being killed, tunnel infrastructure being destroyed and their rocket production facilities hammered.
The only thing that could deter and ramp this up, Boris and Christi, is a mass casualty event where some Israeli artillery shell slams into a residential area, killing large numbers of Palestinians or alternatively a Palestinian rocket. But I think we may be witnessing the beginning of the end.
SANCHEZ: For the sake of peace, I hope you're right. I want to focus on the American response now.
The Biden administration repeatedly saying that Israel has a right to defend itself, yet, among progressives, specifically, there's a notable and growing amount of dissent on the issue of Israel. Here's senator Bernie Sanders in the "New York Times" this week and he writes -- quote -- "With a new president the United States now has the opportunity to develop a new approach to the world, one based on justice and democracy."
He goes on to say, "In the Middle East, where we provide nearly $4 billion a year in aid to Israel, we can no longer be apologists for the right-wing Netanyahu government and its undemocratic and racist behavior."
Multiple Democrats have condemned Israel, calling it an apartheid state both on the floor of the House and on Twitter in recent days. How do you think the pressure coming from his own party maybe changes the calculus for Joe Biden on this issue?
MILLER: Governing is about choosing. This president is challenged with the greatest task of national recovery of any president since Franklin Roosevelt. Three or four domestic crises which in his mind are far more dangerous and destructive to his presidency and to the future of the American republic than any, I repeat, any foreign policy issue.
The Biden administration came to Washington willfully downgrading the Israeli-Palestinian issue, without a doubt. Iran is what they're interested in in the Middle East, not Israelis and Palestinians. Yet, you know, like the "Hotel California," as the Eagles sang, you can check out any time but you really can't leave. And the fact is the Middle East has a way of reasserting itself.
That said, I think the administration is not going to be pressed by the progressive elements within the party. If this goes on, however, for another four, five, six, seven days, and casualties mount, then I think you will see a much firmer approach.
For until now, I think the thinking of this administration is simply this, they wish this problem would go away, and they're not prepared or willing, or I would argue, able, given their domestic agenda, to take on a major effort on Israeli-Palestinian comprehensive peace.
SANCHEZ: All right. Aaron David Miller, we have to leave it there. We appreciate the time, sir. Thank you.
MILLER: Thank you.
PAUL: Still to come, getting back to normal here. The CDC says fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks. There's a lot of confusion out there and there's some hesitation as well. Hear how some people are reacting to that response.
SANCHEZ: Plus, an update to a story we have been following all week. A tiger spotted roaming a Houston, Texas, neighborhood has finally been found. We've got the story and what happens next. Stay with us.
PAUL: So, people still reconciling today this announcement from the CDC that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks or socially distance in/or outdoors. We know big retailers and other businesses such as Walmart, Trader Joe's, Starbucks, they're saying vaccinated customers can go mask free.
SANCHEZ: CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us now. Polo, many U.S. retailers largely moving to the honor system, trusting that only people who have been vaccinated are going to be going maskless. It's a bit of a risk.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Christi and Boris. Good morning to you. And just days after that new guidance was issued by the CDC, we now know of another round of recommendations that was issued by the CDC last night, and specifically being directed at schools that are providing in-person teaching, the CDC recommending that those schools continue with the masks at least for the remainder of the 2021 school year.
The thinking is that with children under the age of 12, not yet eligible for the vaccine, then there is concern that they won't be protected the coming months.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): For the nearly 122 million Americans now fully vaccinated, this weekend came with a mix of relief, and in some cases, some questions with only 37 percent of the country fully vaccinated, is it too soon to unmask indoors asks Wilson Hung?
WILSON HUNG, NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT: I work in an elementary school where I think I will still -- probably still wear a mask until I feel like it's safe enough to not. It's not just to protect me, but to protect, you know, like the CDC has said, protect the ones around us.
SANDOVAL: All over the country, Americans like Hung are choosing to keep the mask on even after the CDC announced it's OK to lose it indoors if you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and under most circumstances. Some experts maintain it's a personal decision, recommending you look up transmission rates in your community or county, if in doubt. If it's high, consider some activities to be risky and keep the mask on. If not, feel free to unmask like David Harris.
DAVID HARRIS, NEW YORK RESIDENT: I feel comfortable, but I understand that some people might not feel comfortable. I feel comfortable outdoor and I think in some settings, indoors might feel more uncomfortable, particularly crowded.
SANDOVAL: At least 19 states lifted mandates for vaccinated people following the CDC's new guidance, others still studying the recommendations before deciding. Businesses face some tough decisions of their own. At grocery chain Stew Leonard's mask signs are gone but not actual masks.
STEW LEONARD JR., PRESIDENT AND CEO STEW LEONARD'S: A lot of our customers are still a little uncomfortable walking through the store with no masks. So, all of our team members, we have 2,500 team members, they're all required to wear masks right now. We're not going to throw people out of the store if they come in with no mask. SANDOVAL: The new challenge will be knowing if those discarding their masks really are fully vaccinated. The Biden administration maintains Americans will be on an honor system.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm also like a little unsure about that because I definitely feel like you're going off of like what people are saying. And like there's no really way to like hold someone accountable to something like that.
SANDOVAL: Among some doctors, similar concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I think now we're asked to trust other adults in a situation where there's every reason not to trust a lot of people right now because there's so much nihilism out there. There are so many people who don't get a mask, who don't get vaccinated because they either don't believe that this crisis is real or they don't care.
SANDOVAL: At least seven states have reached the Biden administration's goal to vaccinate 70 percent of their adult population with at least one shot. New Jersey became the latest this weekend.
SANDOVAL: But here in neighboring New York, we're not quite there yet, the state yesterday releasing newest numbers here suggesting that about -- or showing that about 50 percent of New York residents have actually received that first shot. Forty percent have completed that series, Boris and Christi. In an effort to try to increase those numbers here in New York City alone, they're going to set up these pop up, walk up vaccination sites including at Central Park.
PAUL: All right. Polo Sandoval, good to see you this morning. Thank you.
So, there was nearly a week of searching for this Bengal tiger that was roaming the streets of a neighborhood in Houston. The good news is it has been found unharmed. There are still some serious questions about what happens now. We have those details for you in a live report next.
SANCHEZ: Folks in Texas can breathe a sigh of relief this morning, the search for that Bengal tiger that went missing in Houston for nearly a week is finally over.
PAUL: Yes. Houston Police say the owner of nine-month-old India surrendered the animal yesterday. CNN's Rosa Flores is in Houston.
Rosa, so I understand Houston's mayor says that India is going to be medically evaluated before being taken to a wildlife sanctuary, but there are so many moving parts to this story. Help us understand what happened and what happens from this point. ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, I'm going to try my best. So this tiger is beyond the gates that you see behind me. It is safe, it is secure, according to the Houston Police Department, and it will be transferred to a sanctuary later today.
Now, according to HPD, the man that was linked to this missing tiger, Victor Hugo Cuevas, is actually the owner of the tiger, together with his wife, Gia Cuevas, despite fact that his attorney has denied that for nearly a week. Now, according to the Houston Police Department this mystery ended when a concerned citizen who knows Gia Cuevas called the police and the transfer of this animal actually happened in west Houston.
According to investigators, this animal was in a very small cage. It was agitated and that's why investigators allowed Gia Cuevas to pet the animal, to feed the animal. She's the woman in the video that was released by police that you see there. Now, despite those images, police say and remind citizens that tigers are not pets. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMANDER RON BORZA, HOUSTON POLICE: But in no way, shape or form should you have an animal like that in your household. That animal is only nine months old. It already weighs 175 pounds. Full grown, that animal can get to 600 pounds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: Now, having a tiger in Houston is a misdemeanor according to the Houston Police Department. Victor and Gia Cuevas will not be cited. And they say that they are not going to file any further charges in relation to this missing tiger.
Now, Victor Cuevas is in jail but on an unrelated $300,000 bond for a murder case out of Fort Bend County in 2017.
So, Boris and Christi, there are just so many twists and turns to this story. I know that everybody, not only here in the United States but around the world has been captivated by this tiger. We can finally report that the tiger is safe and secure. It will be transferred to a sanctuary later today.
SANCHEZ: I'm glad to hear it, Rosa. We appreciate you walking us through all of that. The makings of a sequel to Tiger King definitely. Rosa Flores, thank you so much.
PAUL: Yes, seriously. Very well done, Rosa, very well done.
SANCHEZ: Back in Washington D.C., congressional leaders have struck a deal for a 9/11 style commission to investigate the deadly January 6th Capitol attack. A final vote on it is expected this week, but roadblocks remain. So, will the plan move forward? We'll take you to Capitol Hill next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PAUL: Bipartisan breakthrough, it's not two words typically associated with Capitol Hill these days, but it happened.
SANCHEZ: Yes, after months of negotiating, the House striking a deal to create an independent commission to investigate the deadly January 6th attack. And as we take a live look at the Capitol, it's a vote that's now set to take place this week. Let's get over there to CNN's Daniella Diaz.
Good morning, Daniella, what are the odds that this bill actually gets through?
DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: The odds are very favorable, Boris. Look, this is a major breakthrough for Congressional leaders who have been trying to negotiate this for the last few months. You know, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy could not agree on the scope of the investigation and how many Republican and Democratic members should be on this panel.
But, like I said, a major breakthrough they -- these two sides negotiated and reached a deal. You know, Congressman Bennie Thompson, the House Homeland Security Chairman negotiated on behalf of Democrats, and John Katko, the Republican counterpart on the committee negotiated on behalf of Republicans, and they struck this deal on Friday and announced it.
So, I want to talk a little bit about what this commission is going to look like. The commission is going to include a ten-member panel with half appointed by Democratic Congressional leaders including the chair and half by Republicans including the vice-chair.
The panel is also going to have the power to issue subpoenas if they are signed off by both the chair and the vice-chair, and the commission would be tasked with issuing a final report by the end of this year making it a quick timeline for the panel to put out its final product.
Look, this commission is a 9/11 style commission that is going to investigate what happened during the insurrection. But there was a debate between what the scope of this investigation would be.
You know, Republicans wanted this investigation to include what happened last summer with the Black Lives Matter protests, but Democrats really wanted just to focus on the days and the events on January 6th. And that seems to be what the commission is going to focus on.
And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Friday that he has -- was still looking at the deal, but that is not stopping Democrats from putting this to a vote next week. They're planning to vote on this -- creating this admission next week, as well as a $2 billion supplemental funding bill to increase and improve Capitol security.
So, bottom line, major breakthrough here on a bipartisan deal to investigate the events on January 6th. Boris, Christi?
PAUL: Daniella Diaz, always good to see you. Thank you. So, we have Margaret Talev with us now, managing editor at Axios. Margaret, good to see you this morning as well. Thanks for getting up early for us.
I want to jump off that point that Daniella was talking about. How solid is this deal knowing that GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has not formally signed off on it.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Christi, good morning. In the House, it looks like this is moving forward. It is going up for a vote next week. It's expected to pass. Democrats control the majority in the House, albeit by a slim number. And there are Republicans in favor of this, including John Katko, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee who helped broker the deal.
Also, we know Representative Liz Cheney, removed from her leadership post last week, is saying she's glad this commission is moving forward and that McCarthy himself should testify.
The real question here comes on the Senate side, right, which is, are there 60 votes for this in the Senate. If it's legislation, you need both chambers to move it forward, and we know that threshold is higher in the Senate. And we haven't heard Leader McConnell commit to this yet. We haven't heard predictions about what the vote could look like in the Senate.
I'm told that level of support may, to some degree, depend on how strong that vote is on the House side. And then there's the question of how much can this commission accomplish. Raising awareness, certainly.
Keeping this on the front burner at least through December, certainly. But if the agreement, if the rules say that you need support from a majority of this ten-member commission to subpoena anybody, and half of the commission are tapped by Republicans, that bar gets a little bit higher.
So, you know, I think this is certainly going to move forward next week. But long-term, what are its prospects in the Senate, and how much teeth does the commission have, very much still in question. And we're going to see a lot interesting jockeying in the coming weeks for who wants a spot on the commission and who's going to get tapped if it does move forward.
PAUL: Yes, good point. Let's talk about what President Biden is dealing with in the moment because just in the last week, we have had the lack of fuel and panic buying after that Colonial Pipeline attack. We have had this escalating violence we've been watching in the Middle East. We've had these rumblings about inflation as he enters -- you Know,
President Biden is entering this critical time where he's going to try to negotiate his $4 trillion spending bill.
What signals are you hearing from the White House about how the administration is handling each of these really tough moments ahead for the president?
TALEV: Well, I think it's safe to say that the honeymoon is over. I'm not sure there was a honeymoon when you take office in the middle of the pandemic. But, look, the Biden administration's priority has been since the election and the transition has been getting a handle on COVID and on returning children to school, the country back to work, life back to normal.
That CDC announcement seems to have set things in motion probably a little more quickly than everyone was planning. And now a lot of mixed messages about masks, no masks, masks and no masks. So, even though that's good news for the Biden administration, there is a real pocket of worry about what happens if it moves too fast and there's any kind of a resurgence.
But look, I think that that domestic priority, the priority of COVID, and the priority of moving forward on that infrastructure package remain the policy priorities. But when you're the president of the United States, you have to respond to what's actually in front of you.
And the situation in Israel and the Palestinians is of grave concern to the Biden administration but not as policy priority or focus. And so, there had to be a real shift of attention. The president spent a huge amount of his weekend in the last several days trying to have phone calls with Netanyahu, get a handle on this as best he can. But he doesn't really have the ability to wave a magic wand and do much.
And look, this is happening when there's a lot of dissent inside the Democratic Party about whether the U.S. policies are democratic approach toward Israel is appropriate. So, I think, Biden, you know, a few weeks ago, we thought, oh, my goodness, the situation at the southern U.S. border is going to become his major distraction.
I don't think that's right. I think it's going to become one of several issues that are kind of burning that he has to deal with simultaneously.
PAUL: And it will be interesting to see what the Democrats do considering there are calls for the administration calling into question their commitment to human rights, as you have said. You know, this riff that seems to be growing in the Democratic Party as well for as much as we talk about what's happening in the GOP.
Margaret Talev, it's always good to have you with us. Thank you.
TALEV: Thanks, Christi.
PAUL: Sure. SANCHEZ: And coming up, Israel is facing criticism for its attack on a building with offices belonging to the Associated Press and Al Jazeera in Gaza, which it claims Hamas is using for military intelligence. Brian Stelter joins us with a look at how media outlets are reacting.
SANCHEZ: We have some new video to share with you this morning showing the frantic moments before an Israeli airstrike leveled a building in Gaza that housed offices for media outlets. Journalists for the Associated Press and Al Jazeera say they had little time to flea. You can see them here, just gathering everything they could right before the walls came crashing down.
PAUL: The Israeli air force says the building was also harboring Hamas military intelligence assets. But according to the Associated Press, there was no indication Hamas was present or active there. CNN's Brian Stelter is with us now.
So, we know those journalists, they only had an hour to get out, is that right?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In some cases, even less time. The A.P., one of the reporters there in Gaza described being awakened from a nap, grabbing his computer, grabbing things off his desk, and running down the flight of stairs about 15 minutes before this bomb blast.
A number of bombs leveled the entire building. We know there were some residences, some homes in the building as well. But Israel could not be more clear about this. They say Hamas was using this building, using these journalists as human shields, and that there were military offices inside this building, and thus, this building was a legitimate military target.
Israel says it's applying the international rules involving war. However, Al Jazeera which is based in Qatar, Qatar with ties to the Palestinians, Al Jazeera says this was a war crime and has real concerns and wants Israel held accountable.
So, there's now a war of words going on about the attack in the building. But here's what the A.P. CEO Gary Pruitt told our colleague Jessica Dean last night. Here's what Gary Pruitt said about the situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY PRUITT, CEO AND PRESIDENT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: We did have one hour's notice from the Israeli military that they were going to target that building with a missile strike. We didn't know any other details but we knew to get out. And our folks then did get out, and the missile strike ensued and leveled the building.
So, we didn't get all of our equipment out, but importantly we got all of the people out. But our bureau, our offices where we had operated for 15 years in Gaza, were completely destroyed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Pruitt also saying that the world will know less about what's happening in Gaza, as a result of the demolishing of this building. Other news outlets have other offices elsewhere in Gaza. However, there are concerns now among reporter advocacy groups that are not safe either.
All of these of course downstreamed from this broader and very disturbing situation, the hostilities that we are seeing in the Middle East right now, and whenever the press seems to be targeted, it raises questions about whether someone, some side is trying to block out the story from getting out.
Again, though, Israel has been very clear saying this was a legitimate target because they believe Hamas was in the building and operating in the building. Now, we are seeing the group like the committee to protect journalists, show the proof, show us the evidence that Hamas was there.
In the meantime, here's what the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said about this, issuing statement saying, "We've communicated directly to the Israelis and ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.
Bottom line, this is one of the challenges of an asymmetric conflict when you've got the allegations of human shields, of military tools and resources being hidden in a civilian population, you're going to get situations like this that are incredibly complicated.
SANCHEZ: Yes. We'll have to see if Israel shows any proof that Hamas was somehow in that building. Brian Stelter, thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: Of course, don't forget to watch "RELIABLE SOURCES" today starting at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, anchored by Brian Stelter. We'll see you then, Brian.
Well, it was a night to remember. The late Lakers Legend, Kobe Bryant inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.
PAUL: All right, in case you missed it, there was a lot of emotion last night. There was laughing, there were tears. All of this, of course, because Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant was being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
SANCHEZ: Coy Wire joins us now. Coy, Vanessa Bryant sharing really a touching message on behalf of her late husband. COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Boris and
Christi. It is almost impossible to express what Kobe Bryant meant to so many people. His passing impacting an entire culture all around the world. And last night was a celebration of a legendary career. It was a ceremony that he talked about with his wife Vanessa just the week before he died.
Kobe's mentor and friend, Michael Jordan presenting him to the hall of fame last night. But it was Vanessa who M.J. walked up to the stage to give Kobe's induction speech in his place, and she showed nothing but pure strength.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VANESSA BRYANT, WIFE OF KOBE BRYANT: There will never be anyone like Kobe. Kobe was one of a kind. He was special, he was humble off the court, but bigger life. Congratulations, baby. All of your hard work and sacrifice has paid off. You once told me, if you're going to bet on someone, bet on yourself. I'm glad you bet on yourself, you overachiever.
You did it. You're in the hall of fame now. You're a true champ. You're not just an MVP, you're an all-time great. I'm so proud of you. I love you forever and always, Kobe Bean Bryant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: Now, Kobe's passing is something that hit current L.A. superstar LeBron James particularly hard. He reflected on just how important last night was to Kobe and the entire Lakers organization.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: It's an unbelievable time for himself, looking down on all of the compliments that he had for his wife and his daughters and for his daughter that's up there going to be watching along Kobe -- alongside Kobe when they watch that moment. It's a beautiful thing to see Vanessa, you know, put the -- you know, put the jacket on his daughter -- on his eldest yesterday, a beautiful thing.
And you know, it's a beautiful time for the Lakers. You know, like I said, it's a celebration for another Laker great. And I'm just happy to be a part of his legacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: All right, let's go to the final turn of the Preakness in Baltimore yesterday where Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit had the lead on the inside. The horse is cleared to run despite a failed drug test in Churchill Downs. But with the (INAUDIBLE) Rombauer who gets shot out of the cannon bursting all the way from fifth to first as Medina Spirit fades.
Rombauer, an 11-1 underdog dominating, winning by 3 1/2 lengths. And what a moment for Jockey Flavien Prat. It's his second time winning a triple crown race, but the first time he crossed the finish line first. His other win came at the controversial 2019 Kentucky Derby when Maximum Security was disqualified, and Prat's horse Country House was named champion.
You can imagine just how much sweeter this one must have been crossing that finish line first.
PAUL: Coy Wire, it is so good to have you here. Thank you.
PAUL: Good to see you, Coy.
WIRE: Thanks. Good to see you.
PAUL: I want to give a quick programming note here. When the original king of late-night decides, you know what, it's time to ride off into the sunset. Who takes the throne? Hear about the drama behind the scenes as the network scrambles to find his replacement. An all-new episode of the CNN Original Series The Story of Late Night, it airs tonight at 9:00.
Your next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.
Good morning to you. Welcome to your Sunday, your NEW DAY. I'm Christie Paul. We're grateful to have you here.
SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez.