Return to Transcripts main page
Border Crisis Battle Continues; Bank Robbery Turns Deadly; Alleged Prostitute Pleads Not Guilty in Death of Google Executive; Hamas Violates Five-Hour Humanitarian Truce; Photojournalist Recounts Air Strike On Gaza; Russia Reacts To Tougher U.S. Sanctions
Aired July 17, 2014 - 6:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now, the Israeli military says at least three of the mortars came over there, but they have not retaliated so far. We'll keep updating the reporting there, even before hostilities resumed in the air though. There was drama on the ground.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Israeli forces say they stopped more than a dozen terrorists entering Israel this morning through a tunnel constructed by Hamas. This is a day after an Israeli air strike killed four Palestinian boys on a beach in Gaza. Let's get to CNN's Ben Wedeman. He is live in Gaza. Ben, of course, the question is what now?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We understand we're now three hours into this humanitarian pause. Thousands of people have come out in Gaza to buy supplies, to go to the banks, which have been closed for more than ten days. Employees to pick up their salaries. Some people going back to the homes they fled from to get more personal supplies and what not, but already there are cracks in this humanitarian pause.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): This morning the humanitarian ceasefire broken. Rockets launched towards the regional council in Israel, two hours after the temporary ceasefire started, agreed upon by both sides in order for the U.N. to tend to the injured in Gaza nearing 2,000. Just hours earlier rockets were fired by Hamas over Tel Aviv, one intercepted by the iron dome, another making contact.
Israeli forces also announcing they foiled what they called a major terror attack. Hamas attempting to infiltrate the border crossing through a tunnel from the Southern Gaza strip. The Israeli military says this video shows about a dozen men emerging from the tunnel. The air strike that followed killed several of them. Photographs from the scene show weapons on the ground around the tunnel entrance.
MARK REGEV, SPOKESPERSON FOR ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We must be clear that people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our problem is with the terrorists, with the Hamas and others, who shoot these rockets into Israel trying to kill our people.
WEDEMAN: In Gaza more than 200 people have been killed in the last week and a half. Seventy percent of them civilians, according to the United Nations. Around 40 of the dead are children. On Wednesday medics raced along a Gaza beach where four boys were killed by shelling from an Israeli gunship near a refugee camp in Northern Gaza.
The boys, ranging in age from 9 to 11, were rushed to a hospital in Gaza City, but it was too late. Their parents collapsing in grief. The 11-year-old Mohammed Bakr's mother cries out in agony and his blind father equally devastated.
Later that day hundreds turned out for their funeral carrying their bodies to the sands of Gaza to be buried. A Hamas spokesman calls these deaths a war crime. The Israeli military says they are investigating, calling the civilian casualties a tragic outcome.
CUOMO: All right, our thanks to Ben Wedeman. I want to bring in now, Tyler Hicks, also in the battle zone inside Gaza. He is a noted photojournalist for the "New York Times." He was close, almost too close, when those kids were blown up on the beach there. Tyler, thank you for joining us. I'm sorry you had to see something like that, but, of course, it's a part of what you do. Tell us what you saw.
TYLER HICKS, PHOTOJOURNALIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I was in my hotel room and heard a loud explosion, very close outside the window. My hotel room actually looks over this beach very closely. When I looked out the window, I could see a metal shack on the sea wall in flames, and at that time just one boy running as fast as he could north of that on to the beach.
CUOMO: And the beach was basically empty, right, because people were staying inside during, you know, the threat of bombs. What happened when you got down to the beach?
HICKS: Well, these boys I later learned were actually warned by their parents not to go to the beach, because it's abandoned and all the exposed areas are vulnerable. About 30 seconds after that first explosion happened another one that came in. That's the one that killed the four boys. So they actually would have been OK had they just stayed where they were, but in the commotion they ran out into the open and that's where the second bomb killed all four of them.
CUOMO: You can only imagine their fear though, not knowing what to do in that situation and then, of course, you come down to the scene. Was there anything you could do for them?
HICKS: Absolutely not. Actually I arrived -- there's no people on beach yet. When I arrived at the edge of the beach, I could see that there were bodies of these boys laying there, but there were no people. They were clearly killed instantly and I didn't want to just run out into the open and -- and be a casualty as well. As soon as some people from the neighborhood saw what was going on. That's when I ran to the beach and they rushed the boys up to the street and into an ambulance.
CUOMO: Looking behind you there's just so much destruction there. What is everyday life like in Gaza right now?
HICKS: It's really quite difficult. I mean, the streets are very empty, bombs are being launched all day every day here. You never quite know where they are going to hit and Hamas at the same time is firing rockets back towards Israel so this is just a back and forth that has been going on for an entire week now, more than a week.
CUOMO: Now you've seen it. You were there in 2012. You're very familiar with this dynamic. How is it understood on the ground? We just heard a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister saying we are not enemies with the people of Gaza, only the terrorists. Is that distinction made by the people in Gaza?
HICKS: Not really, there's so many civilian casualties, both in 2012 and this time I've seen so many children, women, young boys, you know, clearly non-militants killed, and this is just part of the psyche of the people here. They live with this and -- and there's really no way to justify it for them.
CUOMO: Food, water, the ability to get money, to work. How many of these things are intact?
HICKS: Even when there's not a conflict going on with Israel here, life is difficult. Huge amounts of unemployment. Not very good supplies for the hospitals, not very -- a lot of food, you know. It's just not a free open border that comes into this country, so you can only imagine at a time like this that it's -- it's even worse.
Almost every shop is closed. The streets are more or less abandoned, and aside from certain neighborhoods where more people tend to come out maybe in the middle of the day, but for the most part it's completely empty.
CUOMO: You know, for some, no matter how they are doing it, they have been digging tunnels. You saw, of course, how the Israelis took people out, trying to sneak into Israel through one of the tunnels. Now the threat is that there's going to be an invasion. Do you think that you'll stay for that?
HICKS: If there is one, yes, I'll stay for it. That kind of changes the way that we work. Right now we're going out and going to funerals, seeing what the destruction is and the bombings are like. That will completely change the dynamic and how we'll approach with as much safety as possible.
CUOMO: All right, Tyler, everybody is telling you to be safe in situations like this, but we also need to understand it from the ground so thank you for doing that work, and we'll check back in with you.
HICKS: Thank you so much.
CUOMO: Kate, over to you.
BOLDUAN: Chris, now to turn to Russia right now where officials are reacting very strongly to new sanctions imposed by the U.S. Russian officials are warning the response will be painful for the United States and heightened tensions between the two nations, levels not seen since the cold war.
White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski is following these developments for us. Michelle, what do we know about the latest sanctions?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Obama announced what the west has believed for a long time now, that Russia has not acted to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine as it promised to do, but in fact has continued to escalate it, and he put the U.S.' money where its mouth is in expanding those sanctions.
They now include top Russian banks, defense companies, energy companies and several individuals, and sure, I mean, those entities will feel these sanctions, Russian banks and they are essentially shut out of doing business in the U.S. dollar, that's important, but you may have noticed that.
No, these sanctions are not the sweeping sectoral sanctions over big swaths of the Russian economy that the U.S. and others have been warning Russia about for months now. The U.S. has had a tough time getting Europe on board with sanctions like that. In response, Russia called these targeted actions evil and harmful to the U.S. -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: And it continues. Michelle, thank you so much from the White House for us. Let's discuss this and more with Peter Beinart, CNN political commentator and a contributing editor for "Atlantic Media."
Peter, I want to talk about the sanctions in a minute, but let's talk about what's going on right now on the ground between Israel and Gaza specifically. I was going to ask you, so, the humanitarian ceasefire, could this be an opening? But now Israel is reporting that mortar fire has been coming over already just a few hours into the ceasefire. What does this mean?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there are two big problems in getting a ceasefire here. First of all, two sides are quite far apart on their terms. Israel has been willing to accept an immediate ceasefire. Hamas doesn't want a ceasefire unless it offers some relief from the blockade of Gaza that has prevented people and goods from going in and out of Gaza in recent years. They also want the re-release of some of the prisoners who Israel took in retaliation for the kidnapping of those boys.
BOLDUAN: Isn't that what the five-hour ceasefire was supposed to be about, letting people go about their way for a short period of time.
BEINART: Right. It's tragic that even this period was not free of rockets and it seems like there were rockets coming in from Gaza, which was very, very unfortunate.
BOLDUAN: So while this is going on, there is no real reports of any progress going on in Cairo. The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is there trying to work out a deal. We're just seeing reports that there's an Israeli delegation there, but without Hamas being there. Is this where a ceasefire is going to be brokered?
BEINART: The real big difference between this time and last time when the Egyptians brokered a ceasefire is back then you had Mohamed Morsi --
BEINART: -- who was essentially an ally of Hamas, whom they trusted to some degree and now you have an Egyptian leader extremely tough on Hamas, so while Israel seems quite open to dealing with him and Abbas does, Hamas would like other intermediaries. They would like Turkey and Qatar to be the countries so we can't even agree on who the intermediaries would be.
BOLDUAN: Makes you wonder what is it going to be that's going to get them from here to there? One of the things that seems to be a big wild card at this point is, is it more likely that Israel is going to put in place a military ground operation? The talk is it's more increasingly likely that this is going to happen. Why?
BEINART: I think Benjamin Netanyahu is under some political pressure from his right who have called for ground invasion and other things pushing Israel in that direction is they are getting close to exhausting targets they can hit from the air.
BOLDUAN: So that's the reason to go in.
BEINART: They feel like they could do much more damage to Hamas' arsenal on the ground where it would be easier to find things.
BOLDUAN: But the acknowledgment is that could also bring a lot more civilian casualties, right?
BEINART: And certainly would bring more Israeli casualties. I deeply hope that we don't get to that point because I think ultimately, although it's understandable that Israel feels the need to respond to rocket fire, if there's not a political solution to the underlying problems in Gaza and between Israel and the Palestinians, we're going to simply see these wars again and again and again with more and more suffering especially for the people in Gaza.
BOLDUAN: Seemed to be such high hopes for this U.N. -- U.N. had tried to ask for ceasefire to be put in place, and it seems high hopes for it. We'll see what happens as we speak, but let's turn now really quickly to Russia. I want to ask you Michelle Kosinski laid out really well the sanctions the United States is putting in place. What's the real impact here, because it's being described as the most punishing measures taken to date by the United States against Russia?
BEINART: I think the hope is that this will make people around Putin, people who have gotten very rich through the business connections put pressure on him to de-escalate in Ukraine. The Obama administration seems to have evidence that they believe that Russia is actually escalating its support for separatists in Eastern Ukraine and by doing this they feel like maybe they can tilt the balance so that Russia will pull back and there will be a solution.
BOLDUAN: We've been talking about sanctions for a long time. You and I have been talking about it. What is it about this round that's going to pull it back?
BEINART: Well, I think this is -- this is a more serious blow to more important Russian businesses and economic institutions. I think the Obama administration that past sanctions have had some impact on Putin, but they seem to believe that -- they seem to have some reason to believe in recent days that Russia is actually moving again in a more aggressive direction.
BOLDUAN: Sure doesn't seem from the talk that Putin even really cares about it. His prime minister put out a pretty clear statement saying these sanctions won't help Ukraine.
BEINART: Right. Publicly no question they will be defiant, but I think privately the Obama administration believes that the damage to Putin's economy and the damage to people who are close to him has restrained him in the past, and they are betting, we'll see if they y are right, that it will strain them in the future as well.
BOLDUAN: Thanks so much for coming in. See you soon.
CUOMO: Let's take a little break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, the White House held this big meeting to push its plan for how to fix the current border crisis, but now there seems to be even more resistance from both sides of the aisle. Here's the question for you. Can these people really go on vacation without deciding what to do with all these kids in limbo? Look at them.
Plus, two bank robbers and a hostage are now dead following a holdup and high speed chase with police in California. Listen to this, two of the hostages were thrown or jumped from the getaway car. Dramatic details are ahead.
BOLDUAN: The battle continues over what to do on -- about the border crisis. You look on Capitol Hill and there's no agreement to this point. Democrats, they are voicing opposition to changing a law that would require a hearing for kids that are crossing over from Central America across the border. Republicans, they want that change to the law, and they want more to approve the president's request for nearly $ 4 billion. A White House briefing last night doesn't appear to have convinced some lawmakers to reach compromise. Let's discuss this some more with CNN political commentator Paul Begala, Senior Adviser for the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA Action, and also Matt Lewis, a senior contributor at "The Daily Caller." Good morning, guys.
MATT LEWIS, "THE DAILY CALLER": Good morning, Kate.
BOLDUAN: So let's first talk about this meeting at the White House that the president held with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He said coming out, they said that the president said he's going to take every action he can within the confines of the law to move ahead to try to fix issues with the immigration crisis. But, Paul, when you really look at it, he's been trying to do that already. Was this anything more than a courtesy call?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I hope so because, again, the president hasn't been to the border. People like me have criticized him for that. Many of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus members have. Hopefully he got a little more firsthand knowledge of what's going on there, but also I hope it was the beginning of trying to get Congress to go back to their regular order, find some compromise, pass the funding that we have to have, both to enhance the security at the border and to take care of these kids, so it's a first step. Now I want to go see and meet with the Republican leadership in the House, with other key folks up on the Hill.
BOLDUAN: Matt, weigh in on this because he sent one of his top deputies, Secretary Johnson, over to the Hill last night to speak with all the senators. And coming out of that briefing, it was a two-hour long briefing, but coming out of the briefing it sure didn't seem like he had won over anyone. Republicans, they don't like the route that the White House wants to go with this $4 billion. Democrats, they are now kind of moving against the president saying that they don't want to change this law. What's going to give, do you think?
LEWIS: Well, look, first, I think Paul is right. I think that President Obama ought to get on the phone or ought to go over there and that the power of the presidency, what would Reagan do, what would even Lyndon Johnson do during a crisis like this? This has been something about Barack Obama's administration. One area that he's really failed in terms of whether it's twisting arms or cajoling and persuading people, but here's what I think ultimately needs to happen. We all need to be adults, and I think they probably need to do a couple of things. One is preserve the spirit of the law, (inaudible) this trafficking law which essentially said we need to decide if these young folks coming here, are they refugees or are they illegal immigrants? And some of them are probably fleeing really bad conditions and maybe they ought to be allowed to stay. The second thing we need to do though, is to expedite deportation for folks who ought not to stay here.
So I think that's common sense. Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to agree on that.
CUOMO: Hey, Paul. Well, they are not agreeing on anything and I think one thing that guys in your side of the business, Matt, should agree on is you should start a shame campaign to not let them go on vacation and leave these kids sitting in pens. They are going to go and the question is who is going to hold them accountable? I know we will here, but its going to take a much bigger group. Paul, conflating the issue of taking care of the kids and taking care of the border problems and immigration problems I think is very dangerous, don't you think the kids and the obvious neglect that's going on should be broken out because the more you tie them to the political situation, the more you're damning them.
BEGALA: That could be, Chris. The alternative, which actually I would prefer, is stitching them together because you would hope, at least, that liberals will want to take care of the kids. And conservatives will too, I don't mean to denigrate them. But conservatives want more security. I've looked at what's actually in the funding request the president has asked for, and a big chunk of it of course is the care and feeding of these children.
CUOMO: Why do you think they are not visiting them, Paul? Why do you think politicians on both sides of the aisle aren't banging down the doors and doing all their different little legal operations to get in there and see these kids the way they would if they thought they could curry sympathy? They know why they are not.
BEGALA: They should though, you're right.
CUOMO: You know what they're not, though. Because these kids have become a metaphor for your position on immigration. The kids are pawns.
BEGALA: That's right and either side you're on, these are children and we do have an obligation to care and feed for them. Some -- Matt is right. Some of them have to be deported, I'm sure. Some of them will have to be let in, but we can speed it up with money. There was also a thing, I just read this coverage from the meeting that Secretary Johnson and Secretary Burwell from Health and Human Services had with the senators. Apparently the law as written already has a provision for exceptional circumstances. Now I don't know why the --
BOLDUAN: Paul, that's actually what Dianne Feinstein has argued all along, but the White House continues to say that they want to see a change in the law. And now that's putting them at odds with other Democrats on the Hill who don't want to see a change in the law. Nancy Pelosi now coming out strongly against changing the law, so I don't understand what's going to give there.
BEGALA: I don't either, but at least use the provision that's there. Who knew, okay? Actually Dianne Feinstein actually read the law, which I think is against the rules of the Senate.
BOLDUAN: I think she helped write the law.
BEGALA: I think its James Madison who wrote the constitution who says, "Who readeth this crap?" So somebody did and God bless Dianne Feinstein who actually read the law.
CUOMO: Why, when she read it, didn't she point out to everybody that the law is really not really designed for this situation? That this isn't why they drafted it in 2008. They were talking about trafficking, it was dealing with a very finite group of kids. It was already dealt with. Matt, why are we even having the discussion?
LEWIS: One of the changes by the way that Republicans, including John Cornyn, is actually bipartisan change because Congressman Cuellar supports it, too, is to not just make it exclusive for Cntral America, but if you come here from Mexico, if you're a young person who is fleeing gang warfare or something, why shouldn't you also now be eligible for this? So there are actually some ways that you could expand this and have a more coherent system. Look, if President Obama actually wants to pass something, then maybe some compromise. Maybe send the National Guard down to the border to help control the border. Maybe expedite this. Maybe have some more immigration judges who could expedite, and then I think Republicans ought to go along with maybe some of the funding that would provide for health care, for example, for these young folks.
BOLDUAN: Paul, let me get your take. Maybe both of you guys can weigh in really quickly on this as kind of a side story, if you will, of this immigration crisis. Jim Acosta has been doing some great reporting at the White House for us. I've got to ask you what is going on with Governor Martin O'Malley. He seems to be contradicting himself in public and private. He says that we need to help these children, but in private he's saying but maybe not in my backyard. I don't know what's worse, that apparent contradiction or the fact that, as he's suggesting, the White House has leaked this out as retaliation. Paul?
BEGALA: Well, look, all of us want things both ways, right? And I don't fault the Governor of Maryland for wanting to say one thing in private and another in public. That's part of politics, that's part of life, okay? But, note that the White House, as you say, they threw a high hard one right at his head. This is now major league pitching and I like that, I do. I want my -- my president and his team to be tough. And I think Governor O'Malley, who is plainly thinking about running for president is going to learn that the pitch speed in the majors is a lot faster.
CUOMO: Matt, what is wrong with O'Malley saying, "Hey, think about the kids as kids first and, you know, don't send them to this particular of my state," he said. I'm already full there. He didn't say not to my state at all or at least that's his clarification on it. Do you think he's not getting benefit because he's playing against narrative for the Democrats?
LEWIS: Well look, I think that the Obama administration leaked this. Somebody leaked this to make him look bad, to make him look like a hypocrite. I think he was trying to score points to maybe woo the Hispanic vote for when he runs for president. I'm from Western Maryland, a place that would make the place that he thinks is too red neck look like Paris, France. I'm offended. I think the fact that the governor of Maryland would imply that some of his constituents just would not treat these -- these young Hispanic, you know, in some cases refugees, with compassion is insulting. I'm from a place called Wolfsville, Maryland, and the notion that folks where I'm from couldn't be trusted to take care of young people I think is an insult. Those are people that helped elect, you know, Governor O'Malley. I think he should apologize to them actually
BOLDUAN: The clarification didn't seem to clarify quite well enough maybe. Its great to see you guys. Thank you.
LEWIS: Thank you.
CUOMO: Let's take a little break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, a bank robbery turns into this terrifying car chase, becomes a deadly shootout right on the street in California. The suspects were armed to the teeth, and one of the hostages that they took is now dead. We'll take you there.
BOLDUAN: Plus, an alleged prostitute pleads not guilty in the death of a Google executive. The surprising developments now in this case which is already surprising enough, including the defense that her lawyers are planning to present.