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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Appeals Court Ousts Judge on NYC Stop and Frisk; Millions Face Cuts in Food Aid; White House Denies Biden-Clinton VP Swap for 2012.
Aired November 1, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Thousands of New York City police officers are likely awaiting some new marching orders soon as to whether they can once again stop and frisk people that they suspect might be up to no good. This has been a controversial policy in New York City and it's been called racist. Most of those people who end up getting stopped have been minorities. In fact, the policy was struck down because the judge said that that action violated people's rights. But now an appeals court has ruled otherwise, saying the judge herself violated procedure and now she's been booted from the case.
I want to take this right to our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Intimately involved in this case because you interviewed the judge who has now been booted from the case. She made comments to you in your "New Yorker" piece, and I believe she made media comments as well, and this is a big part of the reason why she's off the case. It's not that the appeals court ruled on the merits of the case.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Correct.
BANFIELD: They ruled on the merits of the judge.
TOOBIN: The appeals court has not yet addressed whether the Judge Scheindlin -- Shera (ph) Scheindlin was the judge -- was correct about ruling the New York Police Department's actions unconstitutional. All they have done so far is, on their own, to a big surprise to everyone, has said, this judge has betrayed a certain bias and an absence of impartiality. So she's off the case for any future purposes and another judge will be in charge of it.
BANFIELD: So just not to get too sticky and technical about it, but the development's in the details here. That appeals court still needs to decide whether Stop and Frisk is either right or wrong -- I hate to get it that simple -- but effectively, whether it's constitutionally OK or whether it's unconstitutional. But this other judge will have nothing else to do to be involved in the case?
TOOBIN: Correct. Stop and Frisk as a technique is clearly legal. 1968, the supreme court, in a famous case called Terry v. Ohio, said there are circumstances when the police can go up to someone, who has not committed a crime but there's a suspicion about that person, they can stop them and frisk them. What the judge said is how New York used that technique and who they used it against, that's unconstitutional, and that's what's up on appeal now.
BANFIELD: One of the first questions we all have is, what happens today? Do the New York City police officers go out and stop frisking people again? And we called the NYPD and the commissioner gave us a statement. I want to read exactly what Ray Kelly told CNN. He said, "This is an important decision for all New Yorkers and for the men and women of the New York City Police Department who work very hard day in and day out to keep this city safe. Their reputation was unfairly besmirched by Judge Scheindlin's decision. And I am pleased that independent judges have begun to look at this case and have stayed her decision. I have always been and, certainly, I haven't been alone, concerned about the partiality of this judge. We look forward to the examination of this case, a fair and impartial review of this case based on its meters. It's important for New Yorkers and important for the police department that that case be heard as expeditiously as possible."
TOOBIN: But there's a big issue here that Ray Kelly's statement doesn't address. Next Tuesday is Election Day in New York City. Bill de Blasio is almost certainly becoming mayor. He campaigned on Stop and Frisk. He's going to be the mayor come the first of the year. He's going to change the policies anyway. So in some respects, this is going to be moot and settled once de Blasio becomes mayor.
BANFIELD: It doesn't matter. But for everybody who is watching right now, who does not live in New York City, and that is many --
BANFIELD: Doesn't this set some kind of precedent for other departments across the country who are eyeballing this and saying, my god, what do we do?
TOOBIN: This is one of the great paradoxes of law enforcement in the United States, which is New York City has reduced crime tremendously in the past 10 or 20 years. Is Stop and Frisk the reason or is Stop and Frisk a form of discrimination against minorities? This is something that the city has been struggling with and the whole country address -- needs to address because it's a tough question. Why does crime go down and who -- and do the police help or hurt in this way? I don't know the answer. But it's a question everybody is trying to ask.
BANFIELD: And while the case may be legally moot for you and me in our decision and discussion, it matters, period.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. All over the country.
BANFIELD: Everyone is watching.
TOOBIN: And it's been a remarkable saga.
BANFIELD: Thank you. I appreciate your being here to get to the bottom of it. I know (INAUDIBLE)
Jeff, have a good weekend.
TOOBIN: Thank you.
BANFIELD: Families who are buying groceries with food stamps are finding out today that they're not going to get as much as they thought they could before. They're losing money. And it's partly due to a program to curve childhood obesity. It's sort of ironic, but it is really a difficult story. That's coming up next.
BANFIELD: We've heard a lot this month and especially this week about health care. And rightly so. But today, November 1st, the very act of survival gets a lot harder for one in seven of you, one in seven Americans. Because that's how many people are in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If you don't know what that is, most people know it better as food stamps. 47 million Americans. It works out to $23 million household. And more importantly, that figure on the bottom, 22 million children, living on $1.50 per person per meal. $1.50 per meal, day in and day out. That is, until today. Because today, those benefits are getting smaller. They're cutting back to $1.40. Think about that for a moment. Try spending that, and no more, on your lunch today. Of course, those cuts came from Congress.
But CNN's Rosa Flores reports that is not where it started.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It sounded like a great idea when it was launched, a program aimed, in part, at making school lunches healthier.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We're determined to finally take on one of the most serious threats to their future and that's the epidemic of childhood obesity.
FLORES: But to fund the war on obesity, the White House borrowed money from the war on hunger.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of the funding comes from rolling back a temporary increase in food stamp benefits, or SNAP as it's now called, starting in the fall of 2013.
FLORES: That's now, when the SNAP program runs out of money from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
STACY DEAN, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES: After these cuts, the average benefit per person per meal will be $1.40.
FLORES: The cuts impact 47 million Americans, including 22 million children on food stamps and nine million elderly or disabled people according to the Center of Budget and Policy priorities. KATHERINE MCKINNON (ph), ON FOOD STAMPS: What did you have for lunch?
FLORES: Like Katherine McKinnon (ph), who went from grandma to a single mother of three when her daughter died.
MCKINNON (ph): That's good for five cents.
FLORES: Each month, she gets $358 in food stamps to feed a family of four, about $4 a meal, in a city where a box of cereal is $4.50. She sells cans to make ends meet.
MCKINNON (ph): No matter how people look at you, you keep your head up.
FLORES: The president said he would negotiate more funding with Congress. But negotiating with Congress right now seems unlikely.
OBAMA: I know a number of members of Congress have expressed concerns about this offset being included in the bill. I'm committed to working with them to restore these funds in the future.
FLORES: His gamble even upset some congressional Democrats.
REP. ROSA DELAURO, (D), CONNECTICUT: I did not want to do that. This was a bad -- these were bad choices to make.
FLORES: McKinnon (ph) already supplements food stamps by eating two meals a day at a food kitchen. A Senate version of the next farm bill proposes cutting nearly $4 billion over 10 years. The one in the House cuts $39 billion more.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: We need to reform the food stamp program with better policies. I'm not so much concerned about the planned spending that will be reduced as getting policies that promote work and dignity.
FLORES: For Katherine McKinnon (ph), it's just about making ends meet.
MCKINNON (ph): I'm just learning how to survive.
BANFIELD: And CNN's Rosa Flores joins me.
That's really just awful. I think so many times you here the hyperbole among lawmakers, these lazy people on food stamps, they don't deserve it, and then you see somebody who, by no fault of her own, is looking after grandchildren and bottle picking with them. The question becomes this: They're going to have to get their food somewhere, so is the issue now, how are the food banks going to survive? How are they going to pick up the slack?
FLORES: That's the case. If you think about it, because of the recession, the food banks are giving up a lot. We talked to the one here in New York City, and they feel like the first line of defense, when it comes to the war against hunger, and our resources are depleted. We've gone to our donors time and time again to ask for money. And so a lot of cases, a lot of these people, like this woman we met, through no fault of her own, her daughter died, she inherited children, and now she picks up cans, five cents a can. Pick up 100, that's $5, that's a gallon of milk for her children.
BANFIELD: If they're getting cutback every meal, ten cents per person per meal, that is significant to them. The 10-year plan, as we heard in your report, this is not going to get any better. There are additional cuts on the horizon. Is anybody lobbying on their behalf? We talk about having to cutback. Government is overspending. But is anyone lobbying on behalf of poor people who actually can't eat?
FLORES: There's a lot of these organizations and anti-hunger organizations that are doing that. But if you think about it, the proposed bill in the House is $40 billion over 10 years. In the Senate, it's $4 billion. Regardless of the way that you cut and slice and dice that, that means cuts. That means less money for the people who are already in need. And if you think about the people who are actually receiving these benefits -- we asked the Congressional Budget Office has these numbers out there. Most of these people are in deep poverty. 85 percent of them are in deep poverty. And from the food bank, they tell us we're seeing new customers, a lot of them are veterans who are unemployed, not receiving benefits in the past who are now looking for benefits, and also college-educated people.
BANFIELD: College-educated people.
FLORES: College-educated people.
BANFIELD: That's distressing.
Rosa, great story. Thank you.
BANFIELD: Thanks for looking into it and getting to the heart of it as well.
CNN has learned that a group of CIA operatives are planning to testify before Congress about the 2012 Benghazi terror attack that left four Americans dead including the United States ambassador, Christopher Stevens. That group includes former Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces, the very people who responded to the embassy the night of the attack.
Inmates in a southern Arizona jail have a new way to communicate with the loved ones or anybody else on the outside world. Family and friends and even attorneys can visit with them using a system similar to Skype. It doesn't cost the taxpayers a thing. And the inmates are allowed two free video visits per week.
A new book claims the Obama campaign was considering dumping Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton instead as vice president on the ticket. But, of course, they didn't do it. Could even the talk of that make a difference for either of these two potential candidates in the 2016 presidential race? That's coming up next.
BANFIELD: Welcome back to "Legal View." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
Fascinating new details from one of Washington's inner-most circles. According to "Double Down," a new book due out next week, President Obama's top aides prepped for the 2012 election by putting all options on the table, including considering replacing Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton on the ticket.
Details from senior White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the spotlight, a president united with his vice president the year before his re-election.
OBAMA: My outstanding vice president, Joe Biden, is here.
KEILAR: But behind the scenes, with Obama's prospects for a second term in doubt, top aides reportedly considered replacing Biden within Hillary Clinton on the 2012 ticket.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, A.C. 360: How serious were they looking into having Hillary Clinton be the vice president?
JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it was serious enough that it was intentionally polled in focus groups.
COOPER: Is it possible the president didn't know about that, about them polling and doing focus groups.
MARTIN: Very much possible.
COOPER: Really? That's interesting.
MARTIN: Joe Biden didn't know, certainly.
KEILAR: According to "The New York Times," that's one of the explosive revelations in the new book "Double Down," where the authors, Mark Halperin (ph) and John Hylaman (ph), say Biden had dodged a bullet he never saw coming and never would know anything about if the Obamians could keep a secret.
MARTIN: It was only known by about a half dozen of the top Obama senior advisors.
KEILAR: Including then-chief of staff, Bill Daley.
MARTIN: He totally confirmed, reporting in the book, saying that he thought it was his due diligence as chief of staff to at least explore the possibility of what Hillary Clinton on the ticket would mean for President Obama in 2012.
KEILAR: Despite Clinton's popularity, Biden stayed on the ticket.
MARTIN: They concluded after this polling and focus groups that she wouldn't add a substantial effect. She would have helped but not so much that it was worth dumping Biden.
KEILAR: Obama's 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, who worked in the White House in 2011, denied the report, tweeting, "Never any, any consideration of V.P., HRC switch. Not even entertained by the only person who mattered or most of us."
Another bombshell in the book, the Romney/Ryan ticket was almost a Romney-Christie ticket. The New Jersey governor was on Mitt Romney's short list of running mates not once but --
COOPER: And the reasons -- it didn't go much farther.
MARTIN: Yeah, well, he had Christie on the first short list. He then crosses his name off because he's leaning towards Paul Ryan.
KEILAR: Romney's advisors pressured him to reconsider Chris Christie. In the end there were two obstacles. Christie couldn't keep his day job and also fundraise due to New Jersey law. And, the book says, he wasn't as forthcoming in the vetting process as other candidates.
BANFIELD: And Brianna Keilar joins us live now from the White House.
How are the people in the House behind you reacting today to this, Brianna?
KEILAR: Well, they're sort of downplaying it. First, let me tell you, I don't know, you can probably hear some of the noise behind me. Those are protesters outside the White House. Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al Malaki, will be here visiting with President Obama. These are protester who's allege the Iraqi government was involved in an attack that killed Iranian dissidents north of Baghdad. That's what's going on here.
But inside the House, they are recanting to news of this book, and they say -- they're not saying it didn't happen. First, we should say that, but they are downplaying how important this is.
Listen to what Jay Carney said on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I know for a fact that President Obama never considered this, never thought about it, never entertained it. The vice president has been a partner of his from the 2008 campaign on. He's been an excellent governing partner and an excellent campaign partner. So you know, again, campaigns test everything. But as the book itself says, this was never considered by the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And the former chief of staff, Ashleigh, Bill Daley, he also is downplaying it, although, as you heard, he did confirm that this happened.
So I think it's sort of fascinating and certainly not something that I would say those close to President Obama really wanted to get out there.
BANFIELD: I would say you're right, especially Joe Biden.
Thank you, Brianna Keilar. Have a good weekend, my friend.
KEILAR: You, too.
BANFIELD: Enjoy your weekend. Well deserved.
Coming up next, a man goes on a hike in July. He was attacked by a bear and left for dead. And that hiker was found just this week, three months later, alive, but just hours from starving to death. An amazing story of survival coming next.
Attacked by a bear and stranded for three months in a Canadian wilderness. That is exactly what happened to an experienced hiker and his German shepherd. This week, Marcos Lavoy (ph) was rescued. Near death, in fact, when he was rescued. And amazingly, he is expected to live.
BANFIELD: Foster children moving from home to home may think that people don't care about them, but that is where Danielle Bleeto comes in. She makes wishes come true, and is one of our "CNN Heroes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been in and out of foster care for most of my life. When you move from place to place, you don't really get the same connections that your peers have. You get very insecure. You don't think that people really care about your desires and wishes.
DANIELLE BLEETO, CNN HERO (voice-over): When I became a foster parent, I realized, a lot of these children decide that it's not worth wishing anymore because it isn't going to happen. People have made promises to them that they haven't kept.
(on camera): Do you want to take any of the babies?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure. BLEETO: All right, here you go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
BLEETO (voice-over): Everything's brand new. I thought how do we give them the feeling that people are out there that care about you, even if you've never met them?
My name is Danielle Bleeto. I've helped make wishes come true for thousands of foster children all over the country.
Anybody, anywhere, anytime, can look at wishes from thousands of children in foster care.
(on camera): Working on an audition for a play, he needs the radio in order to practice with his audition C.D.
(voice-over): Wishes are as unique as the children who make them. And so personal.
BLEETO (on camera): Isn't that beautiful?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Yes.
BLEETO (voice-over): These small things make an enormous difference in the life of a child. It's really just a kid being a kid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wish was for a suit so that I could attend a family member's funeral. It meant a lot that someone took the time and they knew that that was important.
BLEETO (on camera): This looks awesome.
(voice-over): When a child wish is granted, we are reassuring them that their voices are being heard.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I love you.
BLEETO: That there is this is big world out there that just wants to wrap their arms around them and protect them, and we need to all step up and do that.
BANFIELD: Thanks for watching, everyone. Have a good weekend. AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.