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Israel Warning Gaza Residents to Leave; Divide Deepens on Immigration Crisis; Dick Cheney Calls Obama the Worst President; Hot Car Mother Speaks Out

Aired July 16, 2014 - 08:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, July 16th, 8:00 in the East. We begin this hour with the Mideast crisis.

Right now in northern Gaza residents are being urged to leave their homes. Israel warning them that they will be in danger if they stay. That's because Israel is going after Hamas with airstrikes in these populated areas as the militants continue to fire rockets on Israel with no apparent intent of slowing down.

Is the hope of a ceasefire completely out of reach at this point?

Wolf Blitzer is joining us, he's host of course of CNN's "SITUATION ROOM," and he's live.

You've been -- you've been reporting in Israel for us, Wolf. What toes it took like today on the ground? What are you seeing?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: It still looks very, very gloomy if you're on the ground whether here in southern Israel, I'm in the town of Ashkelon, right not far from the Gaza border. It looks very, very gloomy. Obviously awful if you're in Gaza, especially in northern Gaza where the Israelis have been warning residents get out because they want to go after where those rockets and missiles are launched from where they're usually launched from sites in northern Gaza. But there's no let up at all despite maybe there might be some behind-the-scenes effort in the ceasefire.

Just moments ago, Kate, I was driving here with our crew. We were driving to Ashkelon and all of a sudden a Hamas rocket came in and we caught it on tape. Watch this.


BLITZER: I'm going to get out. You can hear the sirens. You can hear the sirens now. You can see what happened over there. There was rockets coming in. The Iron Dome Anti-Missile System goes up there. Knocks off those rockets. And that's the aftermath. You see the smoke from the (INAUDIBLE). We got the all clear now. A lot of the cars here on this highway going towards Ashkelon. A lot of the cars simply pulled over to the side to watch what happened, and now the traffic is resuming.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: In just about a few moments later we started driving away and all of a sudden, maybe 100 yards or so from where we were standing, we saw the smoke, we saw the residue of where that rocket, at least the remnants of that Hamas rocket had landed.

It was in an open field and there's no one hurt but it was only maybe 50 feet or so from a major intersection on the road leading here to Ashkelon. So it potentially could have caused some damage. This one in particular did not -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. The volley of -- the volley of rockets continues to go back and forth. But, Wolf, you also had time to spend some of your day with the Israeli Air Force. What are you hearing about the consideration, the option of Israel expanding its military operation?

BLITZER: That air war, if you will, the Israeli airstrikes are going to not let up at all. If anything I suspect they are going to intensify, unless there's another ceasefire and maybe there are some efforts behind the scenes. We know the Egyptians are still very much involved. Maybe they will achieve something. But there's no doubt the Israelis would like to destroy as much as Hamas' military capability as they possibly could before a ceasefire.

Hamas, from its perspective, there's no doubt they want to try to cause some casualties, cause some damage here in Israel to show that they've achieved something from their own perspective. So I think that it's going to intensify. When I was there at this Israeli air base just a little while ago, earlier today, not with an Israeli pilot, an F-15 pilot, met with a drone operator. The Israelis are flying a lot of sophisticated drones over Gaza especially to try to find some reconnaissance.

We're going to have a full report of course later in "THE SITUATION ROOM" on that but it's a very, very tense situation right now. Diplomats may be working on something up with ceasefire again. And maybe there's some hope. But I don't see it at least not yet.

BOLDUAN: Yes, sure. I mean, so many ifs, so many maybes. But what is going to break through, it doesn't seem either side, no one has that suggestion of really what's going to -- what's going to stick at this point.

Wolf Blitzer is on the ground for us. Wolf, thank you so much. You can see Wolf of course later today at 1:00 p.m. and "THE SITUATION ROOM" at 5:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And here's another situation. Small towns near the U.S./Mexico border sending a tough message to thousands of children in limbo. You are not welcomed. First, there were protesters in Murrieta, California. Now a new flash point is emerging. Oracle, Arizona, where detained migrant children were supposed to be transferred Tuesday. They weren't because the very idea of them coming sparked an angry mob.

A symbol of the immigration fight, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas was detained at a Texas airport.

Let's bring in Ana Cabrera. She's in Denver following the details.

What do we know?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, you get the feeling that this immigration crisis at the border could be nearing a tipping point. So much has happened in the last 24 hours. We had the detainment of Jose Antonio Vargas. We also saw more emotionally charged protests breaking out all over the country, concerns, frustration, even sentiments of hate are mounting. This as lawmakers still can't agree on a solution.


CABRERA (voice-over): A bold statement in the immigration battle at the border. One of the nation's most famous and outspoken undocumented immigrants detained for several hours in Texas on Tuesday.


CABRERA: Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, was trying to fly to Los Angeles about two weeks after his film "Documented" that traces his decision to speak out about his status aired on CNN. His capture, then release, comes as calls for action on broader immigration crisis are growing louder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are not born here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have to go back to Mexico.

CABRERA: And it's not just at the border. Protests have spread across the country. Yesterday in Arizona, passionate protesters on both side of the debate turned out in droves once word spread that a busload of unaccompanied immigrant children were set to arrive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're just lucky. You're not better. None of you are better than them.

CABRERA: And in Texas, demonstrators made their voices heard at a town hall hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't even take care of ourselves. We have veterans that are homeless.

CABRERA: Protesters are digging in and concerns are growing.

GOV. DAVE HEINEMAN (R), NEBRASKA: Our concern is the cost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Worried about jobs. These kids that are 17, in a year they're going to be competing with our kids.

CABRERA: This as states from Washington to Virginia received word undocumented immigrants have arrived or could be sent there way for processing and perhaps deportation.

GOV. TERRY BRANSTAD (R), IOWA: I do have empathy for these kids, but I also don't want to send a signal that send your kids to America illegally.

CABRERA: Critics of the Obama administration have blamed mixed messages for the surge of nearly 60,000 unaccompanied minors crossing the border since October. A new ABC News/"Washington Post" survey shows only 33 percent approved of how the president have handled the crisis. Well, even fewer Americans approve of the response by Republicans in Congress. But while Washington debates, the protests continue.


CABRERA: Now the president has put forth a nearly $4 billion plan to help deal with this crisis that includes money to temporarily care for these unaccompanied minors. More resources for customs and border resources to go after those smugglers who are bringing these children and helping them come into the United States. Also more resources to process their cases more quickly. And money to work with the Mexican and Central American governments on this issue.

But many in Congress don't like the price tag. Again nearly $4 billion that the president is proposing. So they're coming up with their own plan that they hoped to have finalized in the next couple of weeks. And we've heard that it will likely include trying to change a 2008 law to be able to send these children who are coming from Central America back to their home countries immediately, circumventing the current procedures in place that can sometimes draw out over the course of weeks, maybe even months -- Chris, Kate.

CUOMO: All right, thank you very much for giving us the latest on that. The debate will continue. And we're going to talk with the man in the center of it, Jose Antonio Vargas. He was detained by Border Patrol down there. He rose to national attention because he is an undocumented journalist here, but won the Pulitzer Prize. And we'll talk to him coming up.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead on NEW DAY Dick Cheney calling President Obama the worst president of his lifetime and that is not all. Our political panel is going to be reacting to more of Cheney's interview with Jake Tapper coming up.


CUOMO: Stunning words from Dick Cheney to listen to this morning in an interview on "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper. Cheney called Obama the worst president ever of his lifetime. And that's no surprise. But what perhaps is a surprise is how certain he is that the Bush did the right thing in Iraq.

Take a listen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, THE LEAD: Your administration really had nothing to do with what's going on in Iraq right now?

RICHARD CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think when we left office we had an Iraq, a very stable situation. Barack Obama said as much. We put together a program with the surge, the decision the president made and implemented in '07 and '08. And by the time we left office Iraq was in relatively good shape.


CUOMO: All right. Time to comment. CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill, a host with "HuffPost Live" and an associate professor at Columbia University and CNN political commentator with Mr. Ben Ferguson, the host of "The Ben Ferguson Show."

Gentlemen, always a pleasure to see you here with me and Kate.

So let me ask you this, Ben. The idea, Jake says, I don't -- let's not talk about weapons of mass destruction, but let's talk about it here. Do you accept the idea that Dick Cheney just put out there, the former vice president that we did the right thing going into Iraq? It made sense. It was right.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Based on the intelligence at the time, yes. And I also think what he said at the end about we were -- we left it in a positive place not only is that backed up but remember, Barack Obama was one that said he was going get us out of Iraq and instead he agreed with the surge and continued to implement the Bush-Cheney agenda there for how many years? Four after he became president of the United States of America?

So I do statistically looking at the facts that what he's saying about when I left, we left in a stable situation. Obama agreed with that then continued their policies which he ripped on when he ran for president. So I don't think he's crazy to say this at all.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, it takes a special kind of hubris to go on a campaign criticizing the president's actions in Iraq when, one, they didn't foresee 9/11. They put us in Iraq based on a false connection between 9/11 and Iraq and al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. And then help installed Nuri al-Maliki who was the centerpiece of the failure of Iraq. That's a Bush-Cheney doctrine, that's a Bush-Cheney project. Not an Obama one.

So for me it's amazing that he's even having this conversation. But to say that we left Iraq in a good place is simply untrue. We set the stage for sectarian violence by invading Iraq in the first place. We set the stage for sectarian violence while putting Maliki who like Morsi in Egypt, essentially said all the right things until he got in office and then went about repressing the Sunni majority which only destabilizes the region.

And Cheney predicted this as much in the '90s when he was secretary of defense. So all of this is crazy to me. And to say he's the worst president in Cheney's lifetime which, with all due respect, is a really long time, is just absurd. BOLDUAN: I mean, it's one thing to have a conversation to -- to re-

litigate what happened in the Iraq war. What led to it, what happened, and so on and so forth, Ben.

CUOMO: Sure.

BOLDUAN: But I'm sitting here wondering and listening to this interview, why is Dick Cheney coming out to speak about this so forcefully? Why does he think that he should be out there defending his legacy? Is this about his daughter's political future? What is this about?

FERGUSON: No. I don't think it's that at all.

BOLDUAN: What does this help for the Republican Party?

FERGUSON: Well, I mean, look at Bill Clinton, for example. He's out there all the time talking. Dick Cheney says, look, I almost died, I got a new heart, I'm out here, I'm passionate about these things. I'm going to be blunt and bold like I have been consistently my entire career. And the other part about this that kind of makes me laugh is we always hate politicians who don't give straight answers. We always hate it when they run around issues or they refuse to answer a question or they're like well, I may not do that or I'm not going to comment on that.

He's doing what we want. We ask him a question, he gives a blunt answer.

BOLDUAN: I don't think -- I don't think Jake Tapper -- I don't think Jake Tapper was hating him. I don't the critics are hating him.

FERGUSON: No, but I'm talking about society.


FERGUSON: No, no, I'm talking about society. I'm saying -- I'm saying voters don't like it when we don't get a straight answer and he's saying this is what I believe. This is why I did it. I'm not backing away from it.

HILL: But there's nothing straight about his answers.

FERGUSON: And I think that's something you should at least respect him for that, saying like Bill Clinton does.

CUOMO: Ben, Ben here's why -- here's why I'll take the other side on that and set you up with this question.


CUOMO: I think Jake did him a favor. He asked all the right questions. Jake is no joke, we all know that. But when he said I don't want to talk about weapons of mass destruction, he didn't allow the former vice president to just say yes, because at the time, you know, we were really worried about this. There were no weapons of mass destruction. That became proven. You had the whole ruse with yellow cake that cost a political career of Colin Powell when you forced him to jump on the hand grenade. It was just a false premise and a mistake.

Why not own that if he wants to do what we all want to see politicians do and take accountability.

HILL: Instead of doubling down.

FERGUSON: I don't -- I don't think that anyone would disagree the intelligence we had was bad. But at the time were they making the correct decision based on the intelligence, we all know that the intelligence was not good after the fact but we have intelligence all the time, unfortunately, that is not perfect. It's not always spot on. And so do you have a president that acts based on the best information he has, or do we say unless you know 110 percent that it's not perfect, you say well not going to act on that.

You can't expect someone to do that. Monday morning quarterbacking six, seven, eight, 10, 12 years later is very easy to do.

HILL: Well, that's exactly what Dick Cheney is doing right now, Ben. That's why I'm criticizing him because he's Monday morning quarterbacking but he's not being straight --

FERGUSON: On what issue?

HILL: On Iraq. He's reflecting back and saying the invasion was correct. We had the best information we had possible. We used the best information possible. That's hugely generous of you to suggest that he was relying on good information. You can say --


HILL: Let me finish a point, Ben. You could say that the Congress was relying on the best information they had access to, but to say that Dick Cheney is generous and probably not fair or accurate. But now in retrospect, even as we (INAUDIBLE), he's still saying look, there was a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. No one believes it. The Senate Intelligence Committee doesn't -- 9/11 commission says that isn't true. There is -- much of what Dick Cheney is saying is simply dishonest.

BOLDUAN: Mark, Ben, let me jump in because I want to actually get your guys a take on another part of the interview that Jake had and there's also I think an important thing to be talking about.

Jake asked Vice President Cheney about the calls for impeachment coming from some people on the Republican Party of President Obama. Listen to this.


CHENEY: I'm not prepared at this point to call for the impeachment of the president. I think he is the worst president of my lifetime. I fundamentally disagree with him. I think he's doing a lot of things wrong. I'm glad to see that the House Republicans are challenging him at least legally at this point, but I think that gets to be a bit of a distraction, just like the impeachment of Bill Clinton did.


BOLDUAN: I mean, we're talking about Sarah Palin who's called for the impeachment of President Obama over all.


BOLDUAN: Is it -- is it a distraction? Give me your honest take, Ben.

FERGUSON: Yes, I do think it is. And I don't -- I've gotten ripped on by some on the far right who said that I'm not a true conservative because I think it's absurd to talk about impeachment. I ask the same question over and over again, what has he actually done that is truly impeachable offense? You may not like him. I hate it when people throw around the word impeachment because I think it cheapens it and it becomes -- people become numb to it.

And there may be a day with some other president that we actually need to talk about impeachment like Nixon but I don't like it being used for political reasons. And I'm going to get ripped on that for saying it again today but I think Dick Cheney was right in saying that. He doesn't see anything right now. I don't see anything right now. And I think it -- it turns people off to the real issue.

You can disagree with Obama. You can disagree with his policies. But it doesn't mean that you get to impeach him. He got elected by the people not once but twice and we should all respect that.

BOLDUAN: Your quick take on that, Marc.

HILL: Real quick. Ben, I'm glad you mentioned Nixon because I think it's amazing. In light of Richard Nixon's existence we're even debating that Barack Obama could be the worst president in Dick Cheney's lifetime. But to your point, of course it's a distraction. Suing the president is a distraction. Sarah Palin conceded that as much. By trying to impeach the president is a distraction.

The fact that you have to even defend yourself against Republicans who say you're not conservative because you don't impeach a president who does nothing impeachable says everything about the current political climate and that for me is really disturbing.

BOLDUAN: Marc, Ben, always great to have you guys. Thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas has become a champion for immigrants who don't have legal status just like himself. He was just detained along the Texas border and he was released. He's going to be speaking with us live. CUOMO: And we have news about Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. He's just

retained an attorney and we're going to speak to that lawyer live about everything his client has been through. New information for you.


PEREIRA: All right. Here we go with the "Five Things You Need to Know for Your New Day."

At number one Israel is warning people to leave northern Gaza ahead of more airstrikes against Hamas rocket launchers. The first Israeli has been killed in the conflict. The Gaza death toll now stands at over 200.

A symbol of the immigration fight recently detained at the Texas airport. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas is free now but he will face deportation proceedings. We will talk with him live just moments from now.

Militants have taken control of the key Iraqi city of Tikrit. They fired mortar shells and machine guns at Iraqi Security Forces forcing them to withdraw. More than 50 service men were killed.

President Obama's top adviser plans to defy a subpoena and will not testify before a House Oversight Committee today. The White House asserting immunity for David Simas. The hearing will go on as scheduled, though.

And at number five, the center -- the director of the Centers for Disease Control is scheduled to appear before a congressional panel today. He'll have to answer tough questioning about the mishandling of dangerous pathogens recently at CDC labs.

We do update those five things to know so be sure to visit for the very latest version -- Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you, Michaela.

So for the first time since her son's funeral we're hearing from the mother of the toddler who was left to die in that hot SUV. Her name is Leanna Harris. And she got an attorney and they issued a statement on her behalf.

In part it reads like this, "Newspapers, television and online media have fostered a poisonous atmosphere, in which Leanna's every word, action and emotion or failure to cry in front of a crowd is scrutinized for some supposed hidden meaning. Please allow her the dignity to mourn her son in private."

What does this statement mean? Will it satisfy? Will it raise more questions?

To discuss Lonnie Coombs, former prosecutor, Sunny Hostin, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.

Sunny, you're here. Your reaction.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think it makes sense. I've often said, I've interviewed so many victims of crimes. I've interviewed a lot of defendants, and you never know how someone is going to react after a tragedy. And so I don't think you can read too much into her reaction. She has reacted suspiciously by, you know, and oddly some of the things she said at the funeral like I don't want Cooper back if I could have him back. That was very strange to many people. At the jailhouse --

CUOMO: Suspicious and odd are different things, though, right?

HOSTIN: Yes, they are. But I think that statement was probably both. At the jail she told her husband did you say too much? She sort of came out forcefully in support of her husband. Many people thought that was odd and perhaps suspicious as well. But again I really don't think you can't read that much into it.