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Dems Face Immigration Dilemma; Boehner Explains Obama Lawsuit; New Search Warrants Released In Hot Car Death

Aired July 7, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": All right, happy Monday, you guys. I hope you had a great 4th. Let's go to inside politics this morning. A lot to talk about. With me to share her reporting and her insights, Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the "Associated Press." Let's start with this border crisis. The president will be in Texas this week. An open question is whether he will go visit the border.

It's not scheduled at the moment. The Homeland Security Secretary Jay Johnson is going to the border. He is also going to Guatemala later in the week. Among the urgent topic of conversations there trying to stop the influx especially of children coming up to the border. The administration has faced a ton of criticism. Listen to Jay Johnson yesterday saying, we're on top of this.


JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We have to do right by the children. I personally encountered enough of them to know that we have to do right by the children. At the end of the day in the final analysis, our border is not open to illegal migration and we will stem the tide.


KING: We will stem the tide, Julie. This is not a Republican. This is a Texas Democrat, Henry Cuellar, saying the administration should have known about this, should have acted not days ago, not weeks ago but months ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, it would be nice for him to come down to the border, but again, with all due respect, I think he's still one step behind. They knew this was happening a year ago, last year. They're not reacting fast enough at this time.


KING: How do they answer that? That's not Republicans. We'll get to the Republican criticism. That's a Texas Democrat saying we warned them a year ago and they didn't do anything.

JULIE PACE, "ASSOCIATED PRESS": Really that is true. We talk about 52,000 children that have shown up at the border. That's not 52,000 children that have shown up in the last few weeks. This has been happening for several months. When you listen to Jeh Johnson, he talks about doing right by the children. You notice that he didn't really say what that would entail. This is really complex for the White House.

Because on the one hand, you do have children showing up, have gone through really extraordinary circumstances, many are fleeing violence in their home country, yet you can't send a message if you're this administration that if you show up at the border, you'll be allowed in. So they're really weighing with the emotions of this situation and trying to balance what it would mean to let these children in for extended periods of time for the broader immigration issue.

KING: And what do they say when you ask at the White House, will he stop by the border? Obviously in some ways, the picture could help, but it could also back fire?

PACE: It's another very complicated situation because if he goes to the border, there are a lot of potentially awkward optics. He can't really meet with these children given that one of the policies of the administration is to try to put more money into the deportation process. If he meets with law enforcement officials down there, he could really anger immigration activists who are upset about the politics of deportation. But he's going to have this drum beat over the next day or two from Republicans and even some Democrats who say this is a crisis and the president of the United States should show up.

KING: The comment from Congressman Cuellar gives credence to a lot of the Republican criticism. Republicans say, look, there's a Democrat talking about this. I raise that point because one of the critics of the president in recent weeks is Rick Perry. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination last cycle. He had a disastrous campaign. He is trying to run again in 2016.

And this issue has raised his national profile because he is, of course, the Texas governor. His message very much like Congressman Cuellar saying Mr. President, Obama White House, I told you so a long time ago.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I will tell you they either are inept or don't care and that is my position. We have been bringing to the attention of President Obama and his administration since 2010, he received a letter from me on the tarmac. I have to believe that when you do not respond in any way that you are either inept or you have some ulterior motive of which you're functioning from.


KING: Again, it's a border policy question. Governor Perry is also raising a competence question. Why don't they respond? They may just say I'm just a Republican, but I'm the governor and they don't even respond to me. PACE: This gets into a lot of issues that Republicans think are good for them politically. One is the issue of competence. We've seen it come up not only with immigration, the recent Veterans Affairs scandals, and things like that. On immigration for Republicans, what's interesting is this comes at a time when the White House is trying to pin the blame for comprehensive immigration reform not happening on Republicans.

This in a way allows Republicans to shift the immigration conversation back to the White House and say that things at the White House did are to blame for what's happening at the border. If the president goes forward with more executive actions, we could be seeing similar situations for years to come.

KING: Republicans think they have the upper hand on that one. Also a big subject of debate, visit if you want an explanation of why. House Speaker John Boehner getting a lot of attention. He says he will go forward with his plans to sue President Obama. He says President Obama is grossly overstepping his authority. He says over the last five years when his political party lost the majority in the House of Representatives, the president has consistently overstepped his authority under the constitution and in so doing eroded the power of the legislative branch.

Now what's interesting you would think conservatives would say, great, sue him, he's overstepped on health care and other issues as well. But the grassroots doesn't trust the speaker. There are some in the grassroots who want to bring impeachment proceedings against President Obama. This is from Erick Erickson for, not exactly morning television language.

I realize John Boehner and the House Republicans may lack the testicular fortitude to fight President Obama. He wants impeachment proceeding, but I would kindly ask that he save the taxpayers further money on a political stunt solely designed to insight Republican voters who might otherwise stay home given the establishment's bungling of Mississippi and the abandonment of their constitutionally derived powers.

So the same point I want to make, Congressman Cuellar, gave Republicans credibility when they question the administration on immigration when you have a grassroots conservative activist saying, Mr. Speaker, this is a stunt he plays into the White House, doesn't he?

PACE: Yes, absolutely. John Boehner has been trying to thread this needle for years now where he has this wing of his party that wants to take really aggressive action against the president. Now as you said, we're starting to hear rumblings about going forward with impeachment. So in a way, this possible lawsuit, is Boehner trying to say, maybe we shouldn't do impeachment, but look, I am being aggressive. I am trying to take action against the president.

It's not going to satisfy Erick Erickson or other people in that part of the Republican Party. What John Boehner hopes it does, draws more attention to what he says are failing of the president and at least rallies some of the Republican base to show up in the November election.

KING: We'll see how much of that lawsuit is a legal challenge? This is more of a footnote than anything else. Remember Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor started a gun control organization called "Every Time USA." It will issue questionnaires today that it says it's going to ask candidates across the country to answer in this election. I think it will be interesting to watch. The NRA is a powerful force in midterm elections when turnout is low. It will be interesting to see about 120 days to the election. We'll keep an eye on this.

PACE: Absolutely. Bloomberg has a lot of money. He is a well-known figure. You feel like if anybody could challenge the NRA and provide a counterpoint, he has the name recognition and the money to do it. The results haven't been there.

KING: I am counting, Ladies and Gentlemen, 120 days to the election.

Let's close with this, John McCain on "Face The Nation" talking to CBS' Bob Schieffer. His first instinct tells you everything he needs to know. He is hoping the folks in Arizona aren't watching. Why? He's saying nice things about Hillary Clinton.


BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: Senator McCain, I have one question that I can't get you get away without acting. Hillary Clinton has said you are her favorite Republican. I just want to ask you if she's your favorite Democrat.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Actually, I hope this program is blacked out in Arizona. Please cut. I respect Secretary Senator Clinton. I respect her views. We have had disagreements on a number of issues. I think it's my job to work with every president if she is -- regrettably if she attains the presidency.


KING: Kate, Mr. Berman, Michaela, that's John McCain's eat your peas moment. He wants to maybe take her shopping in that giant mall.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The best part was Lindsey Graham laughing, thank God that question is not coming to me.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm talking about me just winning my primary.

KING: All yours, buddy.

BERMAN: All right, thanks so much, John.

KATE: Thanks, John. Coming up next on NEW DAY, police are investigating the hot car death and they have just released new search warrants as attention has shifted to the toddler's mother. What's next in this tragic case? BERMAN: You have got to see this. It is the world's tallest slide and it was tested for the first time by the man who owns it. You have got to see this. It is our absolutely must-see moment.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Overnight new search warrants were just released in the investigation into the Georgia father accused of leaving his toddler to die in a hot car. Now the focus is also starting to shift to the little boy's mother as well, but it's unclear whether police suspect, Leanna Harris, if she played a role.

Let's bring in Mel Robbins, CNN commentator and legal analyst to discuss all of this. We'll get to the mother in a second. I want to ask you your take. Seven search warrants have been released. This I think is really important because it confirms some of what we heard was being discussed and came out in the probable cause hearing.

They really were looking into the finances of the family, credit card debt and also looking into that life insurance policy that they took out on their son. What does this tell you? Do we get a clear direction of where they're looking, where they're going?

MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR AND LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely, Kate. We've got the search warrants right here, you guys. They're looking at his iPhone, looking at his computer, looking at medical records. They're searching the house. One thing that I found interesting, Kate, is that in the search warrant for the house they specifically state that they're going to be looking for light bulbs. Why is that an interesting detail?

Well, because many of you remember that it's at the middle of the day that the dad goes back out to the car and puts a package in the driver's side seat. That package contains light bulbs. So they're actually looking at the house to see were there sufficient number of light bulbs. They're starting to build a case, Kate, where this dad killed his son intentionally.

And everything he did that day including buying light bulbs that he didn't need so he could put them in the driver's seat, presumably so he could see the progress of what was happening in the car, those are all details that they're starting to stack together so that they can prove that this was not an accident.

It was not negligence and, in fact, I think we might see this progress into a case where the charges change yet again, not from negligence and felony murder to perhaps even intentional murder.

BOLDUAN: Coming out of the probable cause hearing, a lot of folks were saying while this seems incriminating, a lot of the discussion that was going on and the evidence put forth in the probable cause hearing, it spoke more to motive. The thing that seemed left out was a direct link to intent, that a lot of it was circumstantial. You think they have a stronger case than that?

ROBBINS: I do. Just last week you and I were talking about this case. I kept saying it's totally plausible that he did forget, that at some point during the day he realized this horrible mistake and it's in the cover up of the mistake that it's intentional. When you look at some of the details that came in the probable cause hearing, here are some things that make you sit forward and say holy cow.

Five days before this happened, he watched a PSA that was by a veterinarian on what happens to animals when they're left in a hot car. The day of the actual incident you've got all kinds of information coming out, Kate, about who he was texting, what he was doing on his phone. You know how the fact that the wife shows up at day care, and this is a detail that I find to be really chilling.

She shows up at day care around 4:00 to pick up her son, and they tell her he's not here. He was never dropped off. Her reaction isn't, my God, where is he? It's, holy cow, I bet he left him in the car. As they try to reassure her, Kate, no, maybe he took her out for the day, we don't know what happened. She keeps insisting that her husband left him in the hot car.

BOLDUAN: And that does speak to investigators described -- they describe his reaction as suspicious and odd. They also describe the mother's reaction and behavior on the day she find out her son is dead as odd as well. But again you have to confirm that odd doesn't necessarily mean criminal.

ROBBINS: Yes, you're absolutely right. What we're starting to see here, which is what's troubling is you have behavior before the death that shows that he's not only researching kind of hot car stuff, he also did internet searches on surviving in prison. He did four internet searches on the Reddit site looking at what's called a child- free life and read four different articles about child-free life meaning you don't have a kid.

The morning that his kid is dying, he's sexting six women, which the defense might argue, this is a sign he's distracted, his life is a disaster. He's got financial problems. This is why he forgot the kid because he has all this other stuff going on.

BOLDUAN: On where things go from here, Mel, does it surprise you that the investigation appears to be shifting in its focus to also include the mother, or does that seem a standard course of investigation when you look into a toddler's death like this?

ROBBINS: I think it's a standard course of the investigation, and particularly given the fact that investigators are also saying that while he's been in custody, he's telling family members how to cash in on the two insurance policies, one that they had from his employer for $2,000 and another one that the parents took out on their son in 2012 for $25,000. When you hear he's in jail telling people how to cash in on a life insurance policy on this kid that's now dead, it makes you sick.

So I think the police are naturally turning their investigation toward her, but I can't imagine a scenario where a couple who is having financial problems and marital problems somehow conspires to kill their kid. Most of the evidence points at the dad at this point. It's a very, very troubling case, particularly for the defense.

BOLDUAN: There also is that one moment that was discussed in the probable cause hearing as relates to the mother that sticks out in my head, that when she and her husband were in police headquarters in the interview room and he's laying these things out for her. She says to him, the investigator says, did you say too much? It seems the strangest reaction for a mother to be having when she's finding out her son has been killed.

ROBBINS: Completely. Absolutely. Again, you said earlier, and I think you're right, you can't really layer on top your own opinion about how you would react because you just don't know. Maybe she's referring to the sexting. Did you say too much about your phone? The truth is who knows why she said it, but it is absolutely so weird. This is going to be a fascinating case to watch because you still have friends that these two were so scared about something like this happening that it actually did happen.

And that there were are so much going on in this guy's life in terms of marital problems, financial problems, that that's what caused the distraction. Not some intent to kill the kid that he truly loved. So we'll see. But these new details that came out in both the search warrants and the probable cause hearing are extraordinarily troubling and kind of make me feel sick to my stomach, frankly.

BOLDUAN: They sure are and you make an excellent point, the defense has been laying out in everything we've heard from people who know them, call them, call both of them loving parents, say there is no indication that anything like this would ever happen, even his co- workers saying it seemed like a normal day, he acted completely normally throughout every interaction that they had with him, but, of course, there's no judgment to be made right now other than it is just absolutely tragic when you get back to the fact this 22-month-old was left in the car and died after some seven hours in those temperatures. It is just horrible.

Mel, thanks so much. We'll obviously continue to talk about this. We'll talk about this more in this case in the next hour. We're going to be joined by HLN's Nancy Grace, she'll be joining us coming up.

BERMAN: Interesting to get her take on it.

BOLDUAN: Understatement of the century right there.

BERMAN: All right, next up for us on NEW DAY, it is amazing. It is also, I got to say it, a little scary. Video of the tallest water slide in the world. You just got to see this.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Talk about a free fall. What does it feel like to fall off the tallest water slide in the world. The water park is in Kansas City. The slide is called the Rucht. Riders who brave the slide drop almost a 90 degree angle before plummeting over 17 stories. That's the Niagara falls, Kate. Anywhere from 45 to 65 miles per hour, they then travel over a five- storey bump before ending in a pool at the end of the slide. Henry posted the video online after the opening of the slide was delayed for the third time to prove that the ride was indeed safe.

BERMAN: The FCC is calling you about the word -- I don't know if you broke any rules there.

PEREIRA: He lost his hat.

BOLDUAN: He had to ride it first. He needed to make sure the slide would actually stay on the slide and not lift and take off.

PEREIRA: He designed it. He better try it out.

BERMAN: His legs -- who says your legs have to be displayed like that.

BOLDUAN: Let's not focus on that one.

BERMAN: It's 56 minutes after the hour. Next up for us on NEW DAY, his cousin was burned alive. Now an American teen is recovering from a vicious beating allegedly at the hands of an Israeli police. What needs to be done now to stop this cycle of violence? That's next.