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Cease-Fire Broken, Mortars Fired at Israel; Russia Reacts to Tougher U.S. Sanctions; Deadline Approaches in Iran Nuclear Talks; Interview with Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland
Aired July 17, 2014 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: a temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ends early. Israel thwarting a terror plot overnight as well, now threatening a full invasion as Palestinians mourn four children killed on a beach. We are there.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Running out of time. The White House pushing to win over senators on its immigration plan in closed door meetings late Wednesday. But there seems to be little common ground. Now, Congress has just days to act before their long summer recess.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Shoot-out. A wild and deadly standoff between police and bank robbers carrying machine guns. Three hostages caught in the middle of it all. One of them has died. We have the latest.
CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.
BOLDUAN: Let's quick check of the day and off we go. Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY, everybody. It's Thursday, July 17th, 8:00 in the East.
This was supposed to be the moment the humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas was tested. Instead, it seems Hamas broke it hours in, hours ago.
Breaking this morning, Hamas violated what was supposed to be a five-hour period of calm by firing tree mortar shells into Israel.
CUOMO: The two sides agreed to hold their fire, the reason so that people in Gaza could replenish essentials in a peaceful environment. The Israelis say Hamas militants tried to infiltrate Israel during this period by sneaking through a tunnel just as the truce began, a day after four kids who were playing soccer on the beach were killed in an Israeli air strike.
Let's bring in CNN's Ben Wedeman. He's live in Gaza.
Ben, what are you experiencing on the ground? Are you seeing exchange of fire?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No exchange of fire at the moment, Chris. In fact, what we're hearing is the exchange of horns, car horns in the streets of Gaza. I have' seen more people out than I've seen in the last 10 days. Downstairs there's a bank, there must have been 30 or 40 people waiting to get out money, it's the first day that banks have been opened in 10 days.
So, despite that incident, in fact, Gaza almost looks back to normal. We're not hearing anything from here where we are. Now, it is three minutes past 3:00 local time which is when the cease-fire was supposed to come to an end. There was that incident but it didn't really work out that the fire ever really ceased.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): This morning, the humanitarian cease-fire broken. Mortars launched toward the Eshkol Regional Council in Israel, only two hours after the temporary cease-fire 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 of Kerem Shalom, through a tunnel from the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli military says this video shows about a dozen men emerging from the tunnel, the air strike that followed kill several of them. Photographs from the scene show weapons on the ground around the tunnel entrance.
MARK REGEV, SPOKESMAN FOR ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We must be clear the people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our problem is with the terrorist, with Hamas and the others who shot these rockets into Israel, trying to kill our people.
WEDEMAN: On Wednesday, medics raced along a Gaza beach where four boys were killed 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 Hamas spokesman calls these deaths a war crime.
The Israeli military says they're investigating, calling the civilian casualties a tragic outcome.
WEDEMAN: Now, there is talk of a possible cease-fire, there is rather an Israeli delegation just now left Cairo discussing the possibility of an end to hostilities, but at the moment, no word yet -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Things need to move a lot faster and a lot quicker. Thank you so much, Ben. Thank you very much. He's on the ground
for us there.
Let's turn now to Russia, though, where tougher U.S. sanctions are escalating tensions between two countries, Russian officials warn the response from the United States will be painful for the U.S., and relations between the two countries could revert to that of the Cold War era.
White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski is following all of these developments.
What do we know? What's going on here?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate.
Well, you know, just today, there's a report of Russians shooting down a Ukrainian military jet.
And we have a handful of top Russian banks, energy companies, defense companies and more individuals targeted by sanctions and it was the president himself who announced what the West has believed for a long time that Russia has not been taking any steps to deescalate the situation in Ukraine. It has been continuing to escalate it and he put the U.S.'s money where its mouth is in expanding these sanctions.
And, yes, those targeted are going to feel the sanctions. I mean, we are talking about banks here. They're now essentially shut out of doing business in the U.S. dollar which is pretty important. But you may have noticed, no, these are not those sweeping sectoral sanctions that would target huge swathes of the Russian economy that the U.S. and others have been warning Russia about for months. What happened to those?
For one thing, the U.S. is having a tough time getting Europe on board with those. In response, Russia called these targeted actions evil and harmful to the U.S. -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right. Michelle, thank you very much.
Let's turn to this, all sides indicating talks could be extended over Iran's nuclear program. Negotiations had been stalled for months over Iran's enrichment program but now with the deadline approaching, Iran is signaling it may be ready to make some concessions if sanctions can be sailed back.
Elise Labott is joining us with more from Washington now.
So, Elise, what exactly is Iran saying here?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER. Well, Kate, negotiators are continuing to talk through the July 20th deadline. It's a foregone conclusion right now that they'll pass that July 20th deadline and in the coming days, announce an extension of the talks. No one wants to say that until the last minute but the gaps are still significant between the two sides. And even as Iran is saying it might be willing to, you know, make soften negotiations on this architecture, this nuclear architecture that they would be able to maintain in the event of a deal, it's still very far from what the United States and the other parties want.
President Obama has set a very limited nuclear enrichment program because they think that nuclear enrichment fuel could be used for a bomb and Iran wants to be able to hold on to a lot of it. They say they need that for a peaceful program.
So the problem is, Kate and Chris, both sides are coming up against domestic pressure at home, the U.S., President Obama has to deal with Congress, who says if there is no deal, that new sanctions should be imposed and the Iranians are dealing with their hard liners at home that could use this time for an extension for the talks.
So, it does look as if that deal -- those talks will be extended for another couple of months, but if we go up to November, which is a deadline from this original interim deal, immediate U.S. sanctions could be imposed and that could really further deteriorate this goodwill that we've seen from Iran in these recent months -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Elise, thank you very much.
Crisis over a border abroad. Crisis over a border at home. Tough talk is ramping up about what's happening right now with these undocumented people who are down on the border, but action much harder to come by. Democrats and Republicans both now blasting the White House, opposing President Obama's $4 billion proposal to deal with the issue, not coming up with much themselves, though, we're still waiting to are that.
And if they can't think of anything better, they have two weeks before they go on vacation for a month. Do you think they would take a vacation while all these undocumented kids are sitting in not great conditions on the border?
For more on this, let's turn to Republican Kansas -- Kansas secretary of state, Mr. Kris Kobach. He drafted the controversial Arizona and Alabama immigration laws.
Thank you very much for joining us, Mr. Secretary of State. It's good to have you.
What do you think, first of all, before we get into the specifics of what you see in Kansas and what you think should be done and why -- this notion that in two weeks, the men and women down in Washington are going to take a one-month vacation, do you think they should be allowed to do that before they find a fix?
KRIS KOBACH, KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, they'll decide whether they're allowed to or not.
CUOMO: Well, what do you think?
KOBACH: Well, I think no. Obviously, we've got so much going on in this country right now. We need to address this problem.
But I do want to say, Chris, I don't think congressional action is necessary to address this problem at all.
CUOMO: Now, that's very interesting. That's why I wanted you on. You believe the president can do things himself that doesn't need a huge legislative shift. What are they?
KOBACH: Well, there are three things that federal law provides for and by the way I used to serve, when Attorney General Ashcroft was in charge of immigration policy, served as his chief counsel on this issue. And there are three things the federal law already allows. One is called the Section 2-12F proclamation. This is where the chief executive issues a proclamation that all of these incoming aliens in this wave are inadmissible.
The elder Bush did this with the Haitian wave that came right after the coup in 1991. President Clinton also acted under the same proclamation. And those aliens could be repatriated immediately.
CUOMO: Now, would that be justified in this situation?
Let's take your actions one at a time. Why do you think it would be that way when many of these people, one, we don't know what made them come here yet, because they haven't had their due process, but, two, there's an assumption that many are leaving terrible situations?
KOBACH: Sure. Well, in every situation, we have an influx of illegal aliens, people coming in without permission. You have situations in the home country that were horrible. I mean, back in -- in that case in Haiti, you had a coup, you had political retribution, you had chaos and economic hardship as well.
But what happens when you do a 2-12F proclamation is that hey have -- they set up a very expedited proceeding right there at the border or at the shore, and the aliens are basically put into -- the vast majority are not admissible. But if there are true asylum --
KOBACH: -- people who can get refugee status, then they're allowed in. But then you make that determination very quickly and then send them home, the rest of them.
CUOMO: So, there is due process. What's the second thing?
KOBACH: The second thing that the president needs to do is stop talking about the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008. That -- he's saying, well, maybe I don't have the ability to send these people home because they're not contiguous countries and he's citing this 2008 law. But that law has an exception for exceptional circumstances. And these clearly are exceptional circumstances and --
KOBACH: Well, because you got a -- well, let's put it this way, in 2011, you had 6,500 unaccompanied minors come across the border. Now, you're looking in this fiscal year, over 70,000. This is a 10- fold increase of unaccompanied minors. Clearly, the fact that your network and other networks are devoting so much attention to this, is a recognition that this is a crisis. So many people, unaccompanied minors coming in, that's a big deal.
But even more to the point that act doesn't even apply here, because these aren't trafficking victims. Trafficking victims who are people brought in involuntary and they're kept in some kind of servitude or sex trafficking or something like that.
CUOMO: Right. So, it's not just the president, because your message is going out to legislators on the left and right because they're talking about amending the 2008 law to make it more easy to deal with the current situation. You're saying don't do that because it's the wrong law to begin with.
KOBACH: Right. The law doesn't even apply here and if it does, the president can just point to the exceptional circumstances exception and say, look.
KOBACH: And the third thing is Congress created yet another tool for the president to use back in 1996, it's found at Title 8, Section 11-03 of the U.S. Code, and it allows them to deputize rangers and sheriffs, country sheriffs, to assist with all of the powers of a border patrol agent or an ICE agent, and they can give a huge force multiplier. So, if the president wanted to solve this problem within 24 hours, he could immediately take those three steps and then start repatriating these individuals back to their parents. Remember, their parents are back home.
CUOMO: Assuming you can find them.
KOBACH: Well, assuming you can find the parents but presumably if the parents are willing to put them on the train and send them to the entire U.S. with no particular destination, they can probably come back to the capital of the home country. At that point, words get back to the families, hey, we just spent $3,000 paying a coyote to smuggle our kid, and he's back here now, the flow will stop immediately. That's how you solve the problem.
CUOMO: Now, let me ask you something -- in the past, you said, you know, this president is unilaterally trying to fix the immigration crisis, he shouldn't do that. Bu now you're saying that's exactly what he should do? Is this double speak or you got a change of heart?
KOBACH: No, no, not at all. The interesting thing is, here I've just given you three specific statutes the president has authority but the irony here is, the president caused this crisis by acting where he did have no authority whatsoever, and that was on June 15th, 2012, the president issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals directive, and that's where he ordered ICE agents to stop deporting any person who claims they came to the country under the age of 16 and claims that they are still under the age of 31. That sent a message immediately back to these countries that, hey, go to the United States and claim you're eligible for this. That's why --
CUOMO: At the same time, though, he has deported more people than any president in modern history. So, he's gone after it, right?
KOBACH: No, he hasn't actually if you look at the numbers. He's claiming roughly 400,000 in fiscal year 2013, that was his big high water mark, but what he's doing is counting something we normally would never count as a deportation where the border patrol takes someone -- intercepts someone at the border and the person is transferred to another border point before being let go back into Mexico. Those weren't ever counted before as deportations, they were just -- "voluntary returns" is the term at the border.
CUOMO: Sounds like a deportation to me, though, right? If I catch you and I send you back?
KOBACH: No, because a deportation is where you're apprehended in the interior of the country and then you're sent out. The border turnarounds have never been counted as deportations.
CUOMO: So, you're saying, if he didn't count that, his numbers wouldn't be as high.
KOBACH: Right. They'd be about 84,000 less and actually show we're at a low point.
CUOMO: Let me ask you one last thing.
KOBACH: So, the president has the authority he needs.
CUOMO: I hear that and these are helpful to the dialogue going on and more productive than a lot of what we're hearing from other lawmakers. If this were going on in Kansas right now, OK, and you had these kids there, here is the problem I have with this situation -- you have to fix all the fixes you're talking about, have to send back the ones that don't belong to be here, who aren't refugee status eligible, but wouldn't you be taking better care of these kids, don't you feel these kids have been made pawns in this overriding political struggle?
KOBACH: Well, yes, there's no question about that. Whenever children are involved in any political issue, you have the politician's impulse to say, oh, I'm for the children and someone on the other side says, no, I'm for the children.
KOBACH: Look, the bottom line is let's follow our laws and let's act humanely, means taking care of the people as soon as they come into our custody. But it also means --
CUOMO: Do you think we're doing that? KOBACH: Yes, sure. They're being given food and water, and now,
some of the places they're placed obviously, they're, you know, bursting at the gills.
CUOMO: Because they're kids, a lot of them are kids, not you and me. These are vulnerable kids.
KOBACH: Right, right.
CUOMO: They're traumatized kids. You like the conditions they're being kept in? Would you like this in Kansas?
KOBACH: No, I'm saying some of -- I'm saying some of the facilities they're being temporarily held in before they're being transported to other parts of the country are not ideal. But the point is, let's remember, their parents are back in Central America. Why in the world are we looking for foster homes in America when their parents are waiting for them or should be waiting for them back in the home country? We should be repatriating them as soon as possible.
CUOMO: All right. Mr. Secretary of State, thank you so much for adding to the discussion today. Appreciate it.
KOBACH: My pleasure.
BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, a battle is brewing in Washington after one of the president's top advisers defies a House subpoena. The House's committee ranking member is joining us to talk about that.
Plus this, chaos on the streets of Northern California, a violent bank robbery ends in a deadly high speed pursuit. We're going to tell you what happened.
BOLDUAN: Battle over White House subpoenas taking another turn on Wednesday. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa battling it out really again with his Democratic counterpart, Elijah Cummings, over the push to get a top White House adviser to testify before the committee.
Cummings, he argued that the chairman has no justification for calling the White House political director to the Hill. Cummings also accused Issa of playing politics here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It is time for this committee to stop serving as a center stage for political theater and fulfill their responsibilities under the Constitution to conduct responsible oversight.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: This isn't their first dust-up. Let's bring in the
congressman, Elijah Cummings. He's joining to us discuss this, this morning, joining me from Washington.
Congressman, it's good to see you. Thanks for your time.
CUMMINGS: It's good to be with you.
BOLDUAN: So, while it might be fun to watch from the outside, this continues to get more and more heated in these committee hearings between you and specifically the chairman. On this latest issue over the subpoenas, the chairman wants to know if a top White House adviser violated the rules that bars many federal employees from taking part in partisan political activities. It sounds in the weeds but it is important.
I want to know from you -- why do you think that's wrong for the chairman to look into it?
CUMMINGS: It's wrong for him to make a decision that he's going to go to the top adviser to the president's political adviser and ask him and just bring him, subpoena him before the committee to ask him any questions he wants to ask him, when that's already been addressed. In other words, the White House took the time out to have its folks come before our committee, the staff, and to provide us with details as to how this office was being established. And basically I didn't see any -- we have what's called in these United States a separation of powers, and the president should have the opportunity to have confidential conversations between he and those people who advise him and this violates that. Mr. Simas is one of his number advisers.
And I do not believe for one second that this was about finding legitimate answers to the questions raised by Mr. Issa, because if that were the case, Kate, he had at that hearing the woman who basically is responsible for overseeing the Hatch Act, who has investigated power and prosecutorial power sitting at that table, who had already gone over all of this and was about to testify this new office had not violated the Hatch Act, they were in compliance and he did not ask her one single question. Something is wrong with that picture.
BOLDUAN: What do you think his -- what do you think Chairman Issa is trying to do then?
CUMMINGS: I'm not sure what he's trying to do, perhaps to play to his base but I can tell you one thing, it goes against anything that when you're trying to be effective and efficient, it leads to dysfunction and it leads to distraction. And we are not addressing the problems that the American people want us to address. And that's the unfortunate part of this. I mourn for what we could have done and what we could have accomplished under his leadership.
BOLDUAN: Now, the -- and the Oversight Committee, if folks don't know is one of the most important and influential committees in the House.
CUMMINGS: It certainly is.
BOLDUAN: One of the only committees that has subpoena power or one of the very few that has subpoena power. It's very important and it's very powerful.
Are you saying that none of the investigations that Chairman Issa has instigated are serious or are worthy?
CUMMINGS: I would never say that. I think that we have -- the investigations that we've taken on are appropriate. But what I'm saying is, is that there is a way to investigate. You don't -- you don't put out headlines and then claim that things have happened that didn't happen. And then, the next thing you do is go searching for the facts. That goes against your very credibility not only of the committee, but of the Congress.
Keep in mind that Chairman Issa has issued 99 subpoenas unilaterally basically and he's supposed to have consultation with me, rarely do we have consultation, never been debate, never been votes -- nothing.
BOLDUAN: Well, Congressman, that's exactly what I wanted to ask you about, because this is not the first time that -- I mean, I watch your committee closely but this isn't the first time we've needed to talk about this on TV, the dust-ups that have gone on between you guys. I mean , just a few weeks ago, Chairman Issa cut your mike and that led to a whole scene that happened on the committee. That was just a few weeks ago.
Do you two even have a working relationship at this point?
CUMMINGS: We have a working relationship. We're able to get things done when he's able to put aside the political theater and get down to the things we ought to be working on. I have told Chairman Issa, I've worked with Republicans. I've achieved a lot of things with Republicans.
But this has been a very difficult situation. Again, I told him that if you want to go far, you go with others. If you want to go fast, you go by yourself and basically he's been going fast and unfortunately, issuing subpoenas in many instances that he's made mistakes. He issued a subpoena to Secretary Kerry, didn't even call him to find out he'd be out of the country, sent a subpoena to an IRS higher-up who wasn't there at the time the issues came up.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, it seems you think the chairman is out of control. Do you?
CUMMINGS: I'm not saying that? I'll leave that all to you all to judge. All I'm saying is, I want to be about the business of searching for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and helping the American people live better lives. That's what it's all about, holding government to the highest standard possible. That is our job. That's what I'm sworn to do and I'll continue to do that.
BOLDUAN: I feel like I hear you saying in committee meetings more often that not, political theater, partisan politics. I hear this from you over and over again. It does make me wonder as a member of Congress, why do you stay on the committee if you don't think, one, your voice is being heard or two, you don't think it's doing the business that it should be doing for the American people?
CUMMINGS: I stay on because there are so many people dependent upon me. When I go back to my district, I see people who say congressman, keep fighting for us. We need government to work for us. And I will fight until I die, because it's so -- it's just that important.
BOLDUAN: Do you think -- I don't mean to be flippant but do you and the chairman need an intervention? Should you hash this out in private before we see this blow up in public?
CUMMINGS: I tell you what I do. Every morning, my mother and father appreciate it (ph). So, every morning, before I walk into the hearing, I pray. I pray for about 15 minutes, go into meditation, and pray that God will allow us to work together, to uphold the standards that we have set for the American people and for our Congress. Prayer changes things.
BOLDUAN: But we need the good men and women of Congress to put the prayer to action, I'll tell you that much. I really hope you guys can get this worked out and I know that we say that these -- sometimes what we see in these committees, they make for good sound bites that we put on TV, but I'm very serious when I say, you are part of a very important committee and we need it to work.
CUMMINGS: I agree. And I agree with you a million percent and that's why I stay on and I'll continue to stay on.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for your time.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Of course.
CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, GM chief Mary Barra back on Capitol Hill again today, over those faulty ignition switches. This as a new investigation is giving lawmakers a lot more to grill her about. We'll tell you what they have and what she says.
And a violent robbery in California becomes a high-speed chase, winds up involving hostages having to dive out of cars, all ends in a hail of bullets you're listening to right now. We'll bring you to that extraordinary standoff.