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Lawmakers Battle Over Border Crisis; Interview with Senator Angus King of Maine; Israel Takes Rocket Fire from Lebanon

Aired July 11, 2014 - 08:00   ET




MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Breakdown at the border. Republicans blaming President Obama for the border crisis, taking issue with his request for emergency funding. And now, Republicans are suing the president of the United States over the health care law.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, rockets now flying into Israel not only from Gaza but now also from Lebanon. The Israelis and militants still battling near Gaza. Is there any hope on the horizon for a cease-fire?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: World Cup final fever: excitement is ramping up worldwide ahead of Sunday's match up between Germany and Argentina. Who will take home the glory? We'll talk live with the star from Team USA.

PEREIRA: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


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

PEREIRA: Full view of New York.

Welcome to NEW DAY and good morning. Happy Friday. It's July 11th, 8:00 in the East, Chrate, I call them Chrate, Chris and Kate.

BERMAN: They call us Mick Berman.


PEREIRA: They do call us Mick Berman and out of Romans, and you got a party. Christine Romans here doing our headlines today. John, thanks so much for joining us.

Wow, the political rhetoric really ramping up over the border crisis. President Obama urging lawmakers to pass his $3.7 billion emergency package. He is getting all sorts of strong pushback, though, from Republicans who are criticizing the president for not taking responsibility. But as lawmakers squabble, communities are trying to deal with the influx of immigrants as federal and local law enforcement tries to stem the tide.

Alina Machado is live this morning with us on NEW DAY from the Texas/Mexico border.

Good morning to you, Alina.


You know, we've been talking all week about just how much law enforcement presence there is in this area, especially the closer you get to the river. But as you're about to see, keeping one what's going on here just isn't easy.


MACHADO (voice-over): This is the Rio Grande, nearly 1,900 miles long, and now, the battleground of an immigration crisis hitting the U.S. It's where a flood of undocumented immigrants are crossing in Texas every single day.

We wanted to get a firsthand look so we headed out on a boat with Johnny Hart who has lived on the river for more than three decades.

JOHNNY HART, MISSION, TEXAS RESIDENT: It's a routine deal touring the river that we see the crossings.

MACHADO: It didn't take long for to us find a path used by undocumented immigrants to cross the river -- a man in the heavy brush even appears to hide from us.

HART: It's mainly adults that we see. Lately, in the last several months, it's been women and children.

MACHADO (on camera): You've seen them on this river?

HART: Yes.

MACHADO: On rafts?

HART: Yes.

MACHADO (voice-over): U.S. law enforcement boats, whether state or federal, are never too far away. But when they are we see this, people on rafts hurrying to cross the river. In this case, they seem to be headed back to Mexico after a drop off on the U.S. side.

While we can't say for certain what they're up to, it's clear the men on the rafts are not happy to see us.

(on camera): We wanted to see where those rafts were coming from and just a few feet away, look at what we saw on the U.S. side, several border patrol agents, two vehicles, and four people who appeared to be detained. Not long after, a bus shows up, perhaps suggesting more than just four

were now in the hands of U.S. border patrol.


MACHADO: Now, remember the raft you just saw, they're not particularly large, but locals tell us that they've seen as many as 12 people on a raft crossing into the U.S. -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Alina Machado for us on the border right now -- thanks so much for being there.

Joining us to discuss the crisis on the border, also the other big story coming out of Washington, Republicans in the House drawing up papers now to sue the president over Obamacare.

Joining us to talk about this, Angus King, the independent senator from the state of Maine. He sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also the Rules Committee.

Good morning, Senator. Thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Good morning, John. Nice to be with you.

BERMAN: I want to start with the lawsuit coming from the House. Speaker Boehner saying it will focus on Obamacare and the fact that the president, he says, unilaterally delayed the employer mandate for a year.

Now, you, sir, you are an independent, but you caucus with Democrats in the Senate. I assume, I'm going to assume you're against the idea of this lawsuit.

But let me ask you about your opinion about executive authority. How much is too much? How far is too far? Are there any things that concern but how much authority the president has used over the last several years?

KING: Well, absolutely. This is a question that goes back to the beginning of the country and it's a constant tug-of-war between the Congress and the president, with occasionally the courts stepping in.

Here is an interesting fact, though, I ran across because I kept hearing all these charges of the imperial presidency. Barack Obama's issued fewer executive orders per day, which is a sort of apples to apples way to look at it than any president of the you state since Grover Cleveland in about 1880.

I know that sounds hard to believe, but that's just the facts, if you can look at the data. But on the other hand, I am worried about too much executive authority. I'm old enough to remember Richard Nixon, they called it the imperial presidency when he was refusing to spend money that Congress had appropriated.

So, this isn't a new issue. I think it's one that needs to be examined, that needs to be worked over and looked at. But I don't think we should act like this is something that's never happened before.

BERMAN: Senator, I want to talk about the crisis at the border right now, because there's been a whole lot of shouting, a whole lot of finger-pointing over the last several days. You know, President Obama sat down with Republican Governor Rick Perry in Texas. Then, promptly, after the meeting, the president had harsh words about the Republicans, the governor had harsh words about the president and Speaker Boehner was yelling about it yesterday.

Where is the compromise going to come here?

KING: Well, I think -- you put your finger on it. There's too much shouting, too much finger-pointing, too much squabbling. I think that word was used earlier in the broadcast. People need to take a deep breath, sit down and look at the facts.

So, the first fact is this crisis was generated by a law passed in 2008 in December, ironically almost unanimously -- I think it did go through the Congress unanimously, signed by President George W. Bush. It was one of the last acts of his presidency and it treats immigrants from non-contiguous countries, children, differently from those from Canada or Mexico.

And that's really part of the origin of this, and you know, at first I thought -- well, President Obama said he's going to treat children differently and obvious he will that's what's caused this. The trouble is the facts don't bear that out. These kids are coming from three countries, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, three of the most dangerous countries in the world.

And here's an interesting fact -- undocumented children seeking asylum are going into other neighboring countries like Costa Rica and Belize and Panama. The requests have gone up over 700 percent. Now, I don't think their presidents have said anything.

So, really, there's plenty to talk about here but I think we need to take a deep breath. I try to get at the facts before I start talking about whose fault it is. By the way --

BERMAN: That makes you a rare breed.

KING: -- I got to tell you, I've been a member of Congress for a year and a half -- well, we're really good at blaming and second-guessing and pointing fingers at things. Let's sit down and try to solve this problem.

It's a serious problem, John. It's one that's going to take some real thought and work. But, man, everything turning into a political issue.

BERMAN: Senator, are you in favor of changing that 2008 law which allows for a waiting period essentially for people coming over the border from noncontiguous nation, are you in favor of changing the law?

KING: I think we do have to look at changing it. I don't think it needs to be repealed but right now, the deal is that children that come from a contiguous country, Mexico, Canada, are treated differently and more expeditiously than children that come from a non- contiguous country like the three countries I mentioned.

BERMAN: Understood.

KING: I think we need to examine and we have an unintended consequence here and it's a humanitarian crisis and we've got to really start thinking about it. But we also have to start thinking about what can we do to help those countries like Honduras, with the highest murder rate in the world, so that these kids don't feel they have to escape and go through this horrible process of trying to get to our country.

BERMAN: Senator Angus King, it's great to have you here with us. We hope that voices like yours get louder calling for discussion, calling for compromise, calling for people to get in a room and discuss this, rather than just finger-pointing and waving their own personal partisan flags.

Senator Angus King, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

KING: Thanks, John. Good to be here.

BERMAN: Michaela?

PEREIRA: All right. John, thanks so much.

And I want to head to the Middle East, the situation there escalating. Israel coming under fire now from Lebanon. This is the first time in the conflict that Israel has seen incoming rockets from the north. Israeli forces responded with an artillery strike.

Meantime, Israel and Hamas militants trading fire along the Gaza Strip. Casualty there reaching 100 in Gaza. The damage, meanwhile, growing in Israel.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer is on the ground. He's near the Israel/Gaza border.

Wolf, we're so glad to see you, and for to you get a sense of what's happening there on the ground. I understand you've been there for over 24 hours now even had a scare yourself with the sirens going off where you were. Tell us about that.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: You know, it's a regular situation here, especially as you get closer and closer towards Gaza -- Gaza literally maybe a couple miles behind me. Don't be surprised if you see a plume of smoke come up. Those are Israeli airstrikes going after targets inside Gaza. There's a plume of smoke that comes up, we've been seeing it regularly over the past hour or so, as I've been at this location not far away from the border with Gaza.

The Israeli airstrikes continuing to pound away and as you point out, 100 deaths already in Gaza, many of them civilians, 600, 700 people have been injured. So, it's very intense what's going on there as well.

On this side, on the Israeli side, the sirens go off fairly often. I was on a road I was driving and all of a sudden we heard a siren. Listen to this.



BLITZER: You can hear the sirens have just gone off so we're all being told to get to a shelter. So, we're running and --


BLITZER: So, you see we all were in a car. The car stopped. All the cars on the main highway there stopped. Everybody gets out, they start running, the doors are wide open or the cars, you run to the closest shelter, there are a lot of shelters all over the place especially along this border with Gaza.

So, you go inside these concrete shelter, wait for the all clear, and everybody goes back to their vehicles, they get in their cars and they drive away.

They're very nervous because some of rockets have actually hit specific targets. Little earlier today, I was out and I went to see a gas station that had just been a direct hit from a Hamas rocket from Gaza, there were about a dozen vehicles completely destroyed. The whole gas station was basically destroyed, completely burned, the fuel truck exploded. There was huge plumes of smoke.

And one Israeli -- unfortunately handicapped Israeli couldn't get out of the car he was trying to get some gas. He was stuck inside. He was severely injured in the process. People ran away and then they came back.

Usually, they have the closer you get to Gaza about 30 seconds of a siren that goes off while you can go search for a shelter before that rocket or that missile hits. So, it's a pretty tense situation.

So, we've been traveling around seeing what's going on, clearly it's a tense situation here. It's obviously a whole lot worse on the other side of the border behind me in Gaza with the Israeli airstrikes going after Hamas targets. But Gaza, as you know, Michaela, is very populated, 1.5 million or people so in a small area. There are going to be civilian casualties and there have been -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: You talk about that tension on both sides, living with it every day. You got a sense of it in the 24 hours that you've already been there for. Now, this is new today. We talked about it at the top of this story with you that this rocket was fired from Lebanon, the first time in this conflict that a rocket has been launched from the north.

What has been the reaction on the ground? What are you hearing from your sources about this? BLITZER: Well, the Israelis are hoping that was an isolated incident,

that rocket came in presumably from some sort of target, Hezbollah or maybe some other group in South Lebanon came into northern Israel. They're hoping it was an isolated incident. The Israelis went in with artillery fire and responded. Let's see if there are any more incidents along the northern border between Israel and Lebanon because if there are, this becomes all of a sudden for the Israelis a two- front war.

And, in fact, it could be a three-front war. Remember, the other day at a beach, maybe a mile or so from where we are, a beach called Zikim, there were some efforts by Hamas commandos to storm the beach and get onshore.

I went to an Israeli naval base where they detected these Hamas infiltrators coming in. We spoke to the commanders there, and we toured some of the patrol boats. We're going to have full report, by the way, on that coming up later today in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

But they're very worried, the Israelis. There's a long Mediterranean coastline with a lot of beaches, all the way from Gaza, up north through Tel Aviv, all the way through Haifa and all the way to Lebanon so they're patrolling that area because they're very afraid there might not only be rockets coming in from Gaza or from Lebanon for that matter, but also from the sea as well so they're watching that very closely.

I've been to Israel as you know, Michaela, many times. This is a pretty tense moment right now.

PEREIRA: It certainly is. A hope for de-escalation seeming to fade with every passing day. Wolf Blitzer great reporting for us, and we know that you'll be there throughout the day and the coming days reporting for CNN. We appreciate it.

BERMAN: Next up for us on NEW DAY, disturbing behavior by the father of the toddler left to die in a hot car. We'll tell you what prosecutors have uncovered from his online behavior.

PEREIRA: And it all comes down to Sunday, the World Cup final is approaching. Team USA's Alejandro Bedoya joins us here for a look at the big game between Germany and Argentina. Choose your team.

BERMAN: Argentina! Argentina! Argentina!


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

New details emerging this morning in the case against Justin Ross Harris. He's the father accused of letting his toddler die in a hot car. Hundreds of new discovered Internet postings have now emerged. Investigators are trying to paint a picture of Harris using all of it.

But will it be enough to hurt Harris in court? We want to bring in some legal minds on this Friday. Joining us from

Atlanta, Mo Ivory, attorney and radio personality. Page Pate, he is criminal defense attorney. They both join us.

So good to have you both. Good morning. Happy Friday.

Mo, I want to start with you. You know, you look at these postings, some of them are a little disturbing, and some of them are intriguing and you kind of can't help but read into them. As an attorney you know not to do that. You try to figure out what the facts are in the case.

The posts are believed to be Harris expressing some views. For example, strong anti-abortion views. Quote, "Killing a person in the sense of abortion is selfish and malicious, with the intent of only satisfying your own agenda."

Does this sound like this could help his defense at all?

MO IVORY, ATTORNEY AND RADIO PERSONALITY: If I was his defense attorney, I would certainly use it to do that. I mean, it sounds here that he's trying to make a case for how important life is and the life of a child and, you know, how much he believes in the life of a child and that nobody should end it. So I definitely think that it speaks to that.

But if I was in the prosecution, I'd use it another way that, you know, they are a religious family. They have been in church. But that really doesn't have anything to do with killing your own born child for selfish reasons, for an agenda to have a child-free life or to fix your marriage or whatever the prosecution ends up saying is the reason why he did this.

So, I think it can be used both ways.

PEREIRA: Either way.

Page, you know, other posts say, "I'm now in my beautiful dream job, a 6-month-old son, I couldn't be happier." That doesn't sound like a guy on the brink.

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It really doesn't. I agree with Mo that this kind of information can help him in the court of public opinion, but it's unlikely to help him in a trial court. This type of evidence is not admissible unless he takes the stand and testifies to it. You can't get in your self-serving hearsay statements that you may have said in a text or some other communication. So it's not going to come in at court but it may help him with the public and his character witness.

PEREIRA: And, Mo, he brings up a great point -- this court of public opinion, you know, we look at the fact that Leanna Harris, the wife, who has made some comments people view as odd and ill-timed and strange, she has hired legal counsel now.

What does that development say to you as a legal professional? IVORY: Well, what it says is it's sort of the smartest thing that

she's done since this whole incident happened. You know, getting an attorney doesn't necessarily mean that you're gearing up for a charge. It could, and it might, and that's what she could be doing.

But it's always a good idea when you're surrounded by a case such as this to have representation. It doesn't mean you're guilty. It doesn't mean you're innocent. It just means you're getting representation.

So, I was kind of glad that she did, because it means now that they are taking this seriously, that she may -- you know for me, I hope it means that she is going to decide to take, if she gets charged, to take a plea, to work with the prosecution, and testify against her husband, and if that would save her life, maybe that's what she's gearing up to do. But I definitely think the public pressure in the last week has been pointing towards her, which probably sped up the process of her getting an attorney.

PEREIRA: Page, you're shaking your head.

PATE: Right. I know the lawyer she's hired to represent her. He's a good lawyer, but they are close to her husband's legal team and we know she's been visiting her husband's lawyer. She's been visiting her husband at the jail.

While I think it's a great idea to get representation, at least have somebody run interference with the media, with the public, with law enforcement, I don't see her breaking off from her husband at this point. If anything, I see just the opposite. I see them tied very closely together.

PEREIRA: Page, pretend you're her attorney for a second. What would you advise her?

PATE: Well, I'd advise her, number one, to stop talking over jail phones to her husband about anything other than --

PEREIRA: I'd advise her of that, too.

PATE: Anything other than, you know, "I love you, I care about you." And then I would advise her lawyer or if I'm her lawyer, to start talking to the district attorney's office, if nothing else, to get a good idea of what their case is.

Do you consider my client a suspect? Let's get that out there, because if you do, then we need to discuss the evidence and I need to take some strategic moves at this point.

PEREIRA: Mo, really quickly, they're wrapping me, but we know it sparked a big debate about hot car deaths, et cetera. We know a law is in place in Tennessee now that protects bystanders who if they see a child trapped in a car, they can break the window without legal recrimination.

Are you hearing any calls in Georgia about a similar law there because of this story?

IVORY: Well, I definitely think that people are talking about what the governor did, a program of education to let people know about this and taking that a step further, and making sure that we have some laws around this. Now we're finding out after this happened, so many cases of it happening, and so many people coming forward to say I actually left my child in the car.

One of my best friends told me yesterday she did that and I was shocked. So, I think it's a secret that a lot of people hold and a law could only help to protect children in that situation.

PEREIRA: Our key goal in talking about this, we don't want this to happen again.

Mo Ivory, Page Pate, always a pleasure. Thanks so much.

PAGE: Thank you.

PEREIRA: John, send it over to you.

BERMAN: Next up for us on NEW DAY, the World Cup final is upon us, who will win, Argentina or Argentina? We will ask a man who knows, because he played in the World Cup, our very own U.S. men's national team star Alejandro Bedoya joins us in studio, live.


ROMANS: Good Friday morning. Welcome back.

Time for the five things to know for your NEW DAY.

Number one, President Obama facing a lawsuit from House Republicans who say he broke the law when he made changes to Obamacare. The president is also facing GOP pushback over the border crisis.

Israel is now taking fire from Lebanon, as fighting in the Middle East intensifies. The death toll in Gaza has now risen to 100 as Hamas militants fire more rockets further into Israel.

Germany has kicked America's top spy out of Berlin. The move comes after two cases emerged of alleged American spying. The NSA came under fire in Germany last year for tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

A Mississippi baby thought to be cured of the HIV virus is again showing signs of infection. It's a blow to doctors who thought they were on track to a cure. Researchers remain optimistic they are on the right track.

And will LeBron James make that big announcement today? We're expecting to find out where he'll play next season before he heads to Brazil for Sunday's World Cup final.

We are always updating the five things to know, so go to for the latest -- John, Michaela. BERMAN: Romans mentioned just a little game this Sunday.

PEREIRA: What's happening?

BERMAN: Called the World Cup final. It happens Sunday. Germany faces off against Argentina. It will be quite a game. We've got to talk about this, and I am so excited --

PEREIRA: He really is.

BERMAN: -- that we have our very own U.S. men's soccer star Alejandro Bedoya, just back from Brazil, where he helped Team USA really in an effort we all loved watching.

First of all, thank you for keeping us entertained for so long there. I got to say I played soccer growing up. My kids play soccer. I don't think we play quite as well as you.

You just told us, you know, when you grew up, you played in the backyard pretending it was the World Cup, playing in your own mini world cups. What's it like to be there after all this time, more than a billion watching on TV?