Return to Transcripts main page


Jolie Headlines Summit; Cantor Ousted; California Teacher Tenure Unconstitutional

Aired June 11, 2014 - 08:30   ET



Actress Angelina Jolie, no stranger to activism. This week she is co- hosting a four-day summit in London on sexual violence during war. Governments from almost 150 countries are taking action to curb assaults, punish attackers and support survivors who are victimized in the midst of conflict. So what exactly motivated Jolie to take up this particular cause? Well, she spoke with our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, who joins us from London.

What a conversation I'm sure the two of you had.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michaela, it was really interesting because this has been the brain child of William Hague, the British foreign secretary, the most important G-7 power ever to actually use this as a transformative possibility for the 21st century. And I asked Angelina why she's lending her name to this and what specifically it was in all her travels around as a special U.N. envoy for refugees that brought her to this particular table.


ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: You are moved by someone you meet. And for me it was - it was time and again meeting young girls, boys, and women and men who talked about -- publicly could talk about all of their pains, but privately would become very emotional and tell me about the rape and what had happened to them or the child they couldn't, you know, they couldn't tell that the child was a child of rape or they couldn't - they couldn't - they just simply couldn't function anymore and they carried this deep shame and this deep pain. And it was just too - it was just too many. It was just one too many.


AMANPOUR: And she also, of course, said that the whole point of this summit is to make sure that there is a system in place for justice and accountability. And that is what they're trying to achieve here. And the British foreign secretary is really gathering this momentum to try to change different governments attitudes to help them, training their soldiers, their militaries, including some U.N. peace keepers who have been accused of raping and sexually assaulting the very people they've been sent out to protect.

Michaela. PEREIRA: No easy fix to be sure. It's going to take an international effort, coordinated and cooperative.


PEREIRA: Interesting, you know, you mentioned she's a special envoy, she's an activist. She's also a mother. We know very well that she and her husband, who's an activist in his own right, have all of these children and they take their parenting very seriously. I'm curious how she talks to her children about this very important work to her and then how she also teaches them about the world they live in, in regard to the things -- these terrible atrocities that are happening.

AMANPOUR: Right. I actually asked her. She has six children. Some of them adopted. Three of them. And she explains that she talks to them about the countries that they came from, many of which were in conflict with each other. She talks about the work she's doing to promote gender equality and justice. And she explains, that's why I have to leave home. You should be happy that I'm going out to do that for other people.

But she also talks about the roles that she plays. I asked her whether she chooses the roles that she plays depending on the character of the woman. And she says, yes, she does. She tries to pick roles that women are not necessarily victims, women are not necessarily, you know, in sort of an evil role, but those who are strong. And she tries to teach that to her girls, that's it's a world of male/female equality that they've got to aim for. And she says she even shows her daughter (INAUDIBLE), her daughters, to say, look, that is an action hero that you too can aspire to be. In other words, that's not just the domain of men and male actors.

PEREIRA: Isn't that amazing to think. And "Tomb Raider," I think, will always stick in many of our minds of a great feminine role for Angelina Jolie. Well, you're one of my role models, Christiane. Thank you so much for sharing the great conversation the two of you had and we appreciate looking at the great work she's doing.


CUOMO: All right, Mic, thank you very much. And, you know, you can tune in to CNN International for Christiane's full interview.


CUOMO: It will be going off this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Eastern

BALDWIN: Coming up next right here on NEW DAY, in case you haven't heard, we've been talking about it all morning, this is the driver today, this huge political upheaval. The House majority leader, Eric Cantor, falls in a primary. We're breaking down this stunning upset. What this means for the Tea Party, the Republican Party and key legislation that may now be dead in the water.

CUOMO: And for Boehner, what's he going to do with him?

BALDWIN: What happened to him, speakership (ph). Yes.

CUOMO: And for the president. What's he going to do?

Now, are we a step closer to having performance standards for teachers? No more tenure. A landmark decision in California that may change education across the country.


CUOMO: Let us return now to our top story, the shocking defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. He lost the primary in Virginia to tea partier David Brat. The results of this race will have huge implications, certainly for him, but immigration reform, for Boehner, Senator Boehner, to be able to control his party, for the president, in terms of being able to get anything done. Big, big, big. Let's break it down now with our political commentators, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Republican strategist Ana Navarro.

Shocking. Nobody saw it coming, so let's not say we did, Ana Navarro, but when you look at it, low turnout, a lot of money spent, but didn't get it done. Why not?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Nobody saw it coming. Most importantly, Eric Cantor didn't see it coming. One of the things I read yesterday was that the chamber and some other groups had offered him help and they waved it away because they thought -- their internal polls, Chris, had them 34 points ahead. They thought that the polls in Washington that had them 10 points ahead were too low and they were going to win by more.

Why didn't he win? Frankly, I don't think it was entirely immigration and I don't think it was a Tea Party versus establishment thing. If you look at it, the guy who won, David Brat, does not describe himself as a tea partier. He was on Fox yesterday saying this was not a Tea Party versus establishment thing. The Tea Party wasn't there investing. Neither was the establishment because this was supposed to be a done deal. This was all about Eric Cantor, who ran a poor campaign, who people didn't know what he stood for, who was too busy running for speaker and who, frankly, just fell asleep at the wheel.

CUOMO: I find Ana Navarro compelling, yet I feel like she's putting something over on me, Donna Brazile. What are - why am I saying this is Tea Party then if the guy's not with the Tea Party? Is she trying to move this guy into the rank and file on us, Donna?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, he may not be a registered member of the Tea Party, after all the Tea Party and Republican Party are really one party. But you know what, he had the momentum that many of the so-called Tea Party candidates typically have in primaries where many of their voters are more excited, they are more energized, they are more passionate.

And for Eric Cantor, who has been a leader in Washington, D.C., he's come to personify what's wrong with Washington, D.C. He's focused most of his attention on K (ph) Street (ph) lobbyist, gathering their supports and using his constituent service apparatus to really run the Republican Party. I mean in the House majority versus representing the people 100 miles from Washington, D.C., down near Richmond, Virginia.

I think it's a wake-up call, not just for Republicans who have to continue to focus on their far right base and the energy that they have, but it's also a wake-up call that perhaps we may not see anything get done in Washington, D.C., for the rest of the year.

CUOMO: Could you argue, Donna Brazile, bad for President Obama, this situation, because Cantor was at least willing to work with him a little bit on immigration reform? Now you've got everybody in that party petrified of taking a step near him at all.

BRAZILE: Well, as you well know, if you step to the middle in any bipartisan way, someone on your far right will accuse you of working with the president. I don't think this has anything to do with the president. The president will continue to try to get things done on behalf of the American people. But, clearly, John Boehner now has lost one of the most loyal, I think, souls in the Republican Party. Eric Cantor did have reach to work out bipartisan deals and perhaps that's the reason why he might have alienated many in his own party down home.

CUOMO: And to you, Ana, this is a punch in the nose as a party member and a slap in the face.

NAVARRO: Can I just tell (INAUDIBLE) -- let me just say - wait, wait. Chris, let me just say this. Nobody that I think really knows the situation and is close to John Boehner would consider him one of the most loyal members of John Boehner's leadership. If anything, there's a lot of people who think that he has been trying to outmaneuver and outright flank John Boehner in his quest to be the next speaker. So this idea that they are so tight -- but we all know Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi aren't that tight.


NAVARRO: And it is not surprising that John Boehner and Eric Cantor weren't, you know, Bobbsey Twins either.

CUOMO: All right. I'll give you that.

NAVARRO: And, no, Chris, I'm not trying to pull anything on you.

BRAZILE: Loyal to the agenda.

NAVARRO: Look -- take a look -


NAVARRO: But take a look at it. Take a look - you know, just compare this to what happened in Mississippi where the Tea Party did show up. And I'm talking about the Washington consultants -


NAVARRO: And the outside groups who poured money into Mississippi -


NAVARRO: Into Kentucky -

CUOMO: Right.

NAVARRO: And so did the establishment. Here, nobody showed up because this was supposed to be an Eric Cantor trouncing.

CUOMO: Right. Well, look -

NAVARRO: So there was no point to invest in this.

CUOMO: I take all your points and I accept them all as true. And as Donna says, it's more about the agenda than the particular relationship.


CUOMO: But, also, let's be honest about what the pollsters got wrong here, because they got it wrong. And as we all know from campaigns, we always regret putting money behind pollsters in the first place. But what they got wrong was the turnout expected. They got their margin wrong based on their turnout. You had 12 percent turnout. You probably had Democrats in there. Who knows, they may have come out for Brad -- just to, you know, take down Cantor.


CUOMO: You don't know what happened, it's such a small number. So they got that wrong.

But I don't really care about the inside stuff as much, guys. What I care about, Ana, is, you care about immigration reform. You've been pushing your party to take a progressive step there. Cantor was doing that. Now you had this guy beat Cantor like an egg about that issue. Where will your party go on immigration reform? Is it DOA?

NAVARRO: You see - but, Chris, you're going to tell me I'm pulling something over you on this one too. But if Eric Cantor was pro- immigration reform, then somebody's got to inform all the pro- immigration reform advocates, because they didn't know what he stood for.

BRAZILE: That's right.

NAVARRO: He was pro one day, he was anti the other. Many people thought he was the biggest --

CUOMO: He's a politician, Ana. Welcome to politics.

BRAZILE: Right. She's absolutely right, Chris.

NAVARRO: The biggest obstacle. Well, but let me tell you, though, that's where he failed. Immigration did cost him and it didn't cost Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, which is not a liberal bastion of Republican base. CUOMO: Well, that's true. Fair point. Fair point.

NAVARRO: And the reason was because Lindsey Graham showed up in his state and he sold what he stood for. People may have disagreed with him, but they knew he was standing on conviction and they knew he had principles and they knew that he stood for something. With Eric Cantor, pro-immigration folks thought he was against them. Anti- immigration folks through he was against them.

BRAZILE: He gave it lip service.

NAVARRO: And I don't know what he stood for.

CUOMO: You know what I've loved about this particular segment, even though every one of my questions wound up being a false premise? It is that -

BRAZILE: What's that?

CUOMO: Ana was hitting me -

NAVARRO: That's all false (ph). Yes, you have been completely wrong on everything.

CUOMO: I know. This has -- this has been terrible. Ana has been hitting me with a big stick -

BRAZILE: Be gentle, Ana. Be gentle.

CUOMO: And you, Donna Brazile, you have been serving as the chorus on this one, kind of accenting all of her points and both of you wound up being on the opposite side of me. But a lot of key insights here -

NAVARRO: All I can - all I hear is my - look, I - all I can her is her chuckling.

BRAZILE: Take two (ph).

NAVARRO: There's nothing I love more than Donna Brazile's laugh.

BRAZILE: It's joy.

CUOMO: Donna Brazile's laughing, but Democrats, they're going to have to worry about this too because getting things done is more important when you're in power as the administration than out (ph) of power. And this is going to be another check on that I would assume.

Ana Navarro, Donna Brazile -

BRAZILE: Mississippi's up next. Mississippi's up next.

CUOMO: It's true. We'll be watching that. We'll be watching it.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

CUOMO: See if this is a pattern or not. Very different dynamics there, As Ana laid out. Thank you, ladies. Appreciate the input, as always.

BRAZILE: That's true. Thank you.

CUOMO: Brooke.

BALDWIN: I love it -- the ladies bringing the juice. It isn't even 9:00 in the morning -- Chris Cuomo. Thank you all for that.

Coming up next here on NEW DAY, this judge rules the tenure for teachers is unconstitutional in California. What does that mean for teachers not just in that state but all across the country -- the ramifications of the story here? We will debate next.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: We want to talk about a ruling that could fundamentally change education in our nation. A California judge finding that teacher tenure, dismissal and layoff laws in California violate the civil rights of students. The judge wrote that those laws deny equal educational opportunities. The implications are simply huge. We know school districts across the nation are going to be watching.

Let's talk about it with the president of the California Teachers Union, this is Josh Pechthalt; and we have with us CNN commentator and legal analyst, Mel Robbins.

First thing I know we all agree on. We care about our kids and want to have good, honest conversation about the future of education. Josh, I want to start with you. The judge said in his ruling that the existing system impedes a student's fundamental right to equal education. What are your thoughts on that?

JOSH PECHTHALT, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA TEACHERS' UNION: Well, we fundamentally disagree with the judge's ruling on this. We have lots of experience with districts and schools that run well using the existing education code. We know it works in school. And to drive education policy based on the idea that how do we -- what do we do when we are laying off teachers when the vast majority of teachers are doing a good job?

We do have struggling teachers. We know how to work with struggling teachers. We agree that teachers who shouldn't be in the classroom need to find other careers. There are means to deal with those teachers. To blow up the education code, we think is wrongheaded and will have very bad consequences, not for teachers but for our students.

PEREIRA: All right, Mel, I want you to pick apart some of those things that Josh has said. Go ahead and start with the points that get you the most here.

MEL ROBBINS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Here is the thing. The judge was sweeping, he was unambiguous and what he said in this ruling is, "Students, you win." There were three key parts of his ruling where he basically said, look, these practices in California are unconstitutional.

Number one, in California, in a mere 18 months, you can get lifetime tenure. And he found absolutely no legal justification for that. In fact, found that that has a detrimental impact on students.

Number two, they have a last in, first out, which means they don't look at merit when they are looking at lay-offs.

PEREIRA: You can get rid of a junior really high quality teacher.

ROBBINS: Yes. And then this is the thing that was very profound and got the judge totally. Basically what he said is that the process of getting rid of ineffective teachers is so long, is costly that it is quite, "an illusion". And he did a little bit of math. He basically said that there are about 8,000 teachers that are ineffective in the state of California. That means 200,000 kids have teachers in front of them that school districts are trying to get rid of and they are having a hard time doing it.

PEREIRA: So Josh, to that point, as the president of the California Federation of Teachers that is a concern. We know it is timely, it can take up to ten years and it is costly to get rid of these problem students (SIC) that you maintain at a minimum. And trust me, I know there are a lot of quality teachers in the California system. But the ones that are our problems inordinately are getting placed in low income and minority schools. How do we resolve that and how do you deal with getting out the bad eggs or the bad apples if you will?

PECHTHALT: I come to this wearing a few different hats. I was a high school teacher in Los Angeles in an inner city school for more than 20 years. I'm a parent of a soon to be tenth grader in the Los Angeles unified school district.

PEREIRA: So you know this well?

PECHTHALT: I do know it quite well. I know there are teachers who are struggling. And we have methods for moving those teachers out. And in fact, the teacher unions in California over the last two years have supported legislation to expedite and make more efficient the process for moving teachers out who shouldn't be working with our children.

PEREIRA: Mel, are they moving fast enough?

ROBBINS: No, they are not moving fast enough. When a judge says the impact on students of having ineffective teachers shocks the conscience, you know they are not moving fast enough.

And here's what we all agree on. We all agree that students come first. We all agree that we are in the business to teach students. What this case says is any laws -- any laws that put ineffective teachers ahead of students, unconstitutional.

PEREIRA: So, Josh, to that point. I think there is a frustration with people that the teachers' rights are being protected. Shouldn't the focus be the students' rights and the students' future and their right to a good education?

PECHTHALT: Absolutely, absolutely. But I think it is a misunderstanding to believe that teacher rights are somehow -- should be pitted against the rights of students. The issues of seniority and due process allow teachers the flexibility to teach unencumbered by changing political whims, by favoritism, by nepotism. This allows teachers to go into a classroom and raise controversial issues.

Without these protections, teachers are going to look over their shoulder every step of the way. You are going to incentivize districts to push out teachers at the top end of the salary schedule. You are going to incentivize teachers to stay silent. Teachers who raise their hands in a faculty meeting and question how the money is being spent on a campus -- those are the teachers who are going to get pushed out.

PEREIRA: There is a concern that teachers will lose their voice. Quickly, Mel, in a word, do you think the appeal -- the conversation about an appeal, you think it has legs?

ROBBINS: The appeal, no. This was unambiguous. It was thunderous and it's going to have a national impact.

PEREIRA: I want to say a big thank you to Josh Pechthalt. We had a great conversation with you. Thank you for representing the California Federation of Teachers.

PECHTHALT: Thank you.

PEREIRA: And Mel Robbins, always a delight to have you here. Obviously, this conversation, Brooke and Chris, is on going. We will be talking about it a lot.

BALDWIN: Mel Robbins, congratulations on the Gracie award today.

ROBBINS: Than you.

BALDWIN: You're welcome. You're welcome.

Coming up here, much more on the shocking primary in Virginia forcing out house majority leader Eric Cantor -- the latest, next.


BALDWIN: So that will do it for us for this morning.

CUOMO: Some more urgency. Go with urgency.

BALDWIN: That will do it for us. Carol Costello --

CUOMO: There's a lot going on. A lot of big news.

BALDWIN: We are going to bring it to you early, Carol Costello.

CUOMO: Got to get to the "NEWSROOM" right now. Ms. Carol Costello.

PEREIRA: Oh my goodness.

CUOMO: Take it away.

BALDWIN: Good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO: I appreciate every precious second. Have a great day.

CUOMO: Sell, sell, sell.


COSTELLO: Sold. "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM".



COSTELLO: Cantor collapses in the Commonwealth.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: It's disappointing sure. But I believe in this country.


COSTELLO: The Tea Party candidate toppling the GOP.