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Congress May Pass Bill to Address U.S. Immigration Crisis; Violence Continues Between Hamas and Israel; Some Bodies May Still be at Plane Crash Site in Ukraine; Interview with Ben Rhodes; Ebola Crisis Growing in West Africa; Boehner: Calls for Impeachment a Democrat Scam
Aired July 30, 2014 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. STEVE KING, (R) IOWA: Well, I wanted to see it hands on and look in people's eyes that are down there and they are suffering, Chris. And when you see that, when you see little babies and they are in there and they are nursing in a cell with a scattered group of people that haven't had a chance to take a shower in a while, they are going to get one in a few hours, I will say. Border Patrol is doing a good job, CBP is doing a good job, but when you see that happen, you have to understand that this human tragedy and calamity started because there's this huge magnet created by the president's policies and these families are sending their daughters up through 2,000 miles of Central America, down a channel of people who are between 30 and 70 percent of them will be raped along the way. And that is a human tragedy.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: That is a human tragedy.
KING: So we have to send them back. That means fix the 2008 bill. That means fix the amnesty language that they are exploiting right now, and get the resources also down there to help out and give them a hand when they need it.
CUOMO: So figure out a way to fix this before you go on vacation and remember that these kids coming up are not the enemy. They deserve respect and dignity. And it's good to hear you say that. Congressman, we'll be very anxious to see what you get done before you go on vacation.
KING: We might get it done today. It won't be a vacation. I've got a work day.
CUOMO: It sounds like a vacation, congressman. You better not come back with a tan.
CUOMO: Thank you very much for joining us on NEW DAY.
All right, that's one of the stories we're following this morning, but there is a lot of news, so let's get to it.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota in for Kate Balduan this morning. We are following breaking news, of course, in the Middle East. A deadly incident at a U.N. school in Gaza, at least 19 people were killed and more than 120 hurt. The Palestinians blame Israeli shelling for this. The initial Israeli review say soldiers returned fire near the school after being targeted by militants.
Meanwhile Israel hit more than 75 sites overnight, including mosques, and they say that those mosques hide weapons and tunnels into Israel. So let's get back out to Wolf Blitzer. He is live for us in Jerusalem with all of the breaking details. What's happening at this hour, Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Quite an intense night, Alisyn in Gaza. All those strikes you just mentioned, some of them Israel going after Hamas military cyber facilities. At the same time all of this comes a day after the U.N. said weapons were found at a different U.N. school in Gaza. That would be the third time Hamas weapons were found in a United Nations school in Gaza.
Let's go to John Vause, He's our man on scene right now in Gaza city. What is the latest there right now, John, what are you seeing?
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, just a few moments ago you can probably see that black smoke in the distance. That's the Jabalya refugee camp where the U.N. school that you've been talking about that was hit overnight. There was an airstrike just a few moments ago where that black smoke is coming from.
But I have to say it's not just incoming fire. Within the last hour or so we saw two rockets not far from that location being launched from Gaza towards Israel as well. Today is shaping up to be a very deadly day here in Gaza. According to health ministry officials, 54 Palestinians have been killed just today, including the 19 men, women, and children at that U.N.-run school. They're seeking shelter because their homes had either been destroyed by the Israeli military operation or they've been warned to leave because there was a pending military operation, though it just simply scared and wanted to get out.
Now the U.N. is fairly certain that it was in fact the Israelis that carried out the strike. They say there had been shelling in that area for an hour. Five artillery rounds had in fact hit the school. It's happened around 4:30 in the morning as people were getting up to attend morning prayers. There has been this investigation promised by the Israeli defense forces. There are initial results already in now. What they are saying is that their soldiers in that area around the Jabalya refugee camp came under mortar fire from militants, and then they returned fire. So that's where we stand right now. The U.N. saying definitely the Israelis, the IDF still looking into it. They say there's still a full investigation pending. They are not saying how long that will take. Wolf?
BLITZER: John, military arm of Hamas still holding firm. They say there won't be any ceasefire until Israel, they say, ends the blockade, the siege -- what they call the siege of Gaza. That's still the same position, right? VAUSE: Yes. This is incredible. Last night there was a very rare
statement from the founder and head of Hamas' military wing. It was an audio recording only. We know the Israelis have been after him for some time. They carried out a number of strikes on him, but he is still alive according to this recorded audio transmission which everyone here in Gaza heard last night, essentially saying that there will be no ceasefire with Israel until blockade as the Palestinians and Hamas calls it is lifted by the Israelis. And chillingly he added that Hamas fighters are craving the death. Wolf?
BLITZER: John Vause, thanks very much.
Let's go to the White House right now. Ben Rhodes is joining us. He's President Obama's deputy national security adviser. Ben, thanks so much for joining us. The secretary of state, as you know, I think he is on his way to India right now. So is the U.S. leadership trying to get a ceasefire, is that over with, at least for now?
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No, Wolf. We continue our discussions with Israelis and Palestinians and countries in the region. Obviously we're in a very difficult time with a lot of violence back and forth. We're very concerned about reports, of course, that you have these weapons being hid in schools, just as we're also very concerned about the civilian loss of life among the Palestinians. All of that points, to us, to the need for a ceasefire, a short-term ceasefire to be put in place so that we can, again, address the broader issues that we see at stake in Gaza.
BLITZER: I don't know if you saw it, I assume you did. One of the Israeli television channels published and put on the air what they said it was a transcript of a rather testy phone conversation that President Obama had the other night with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I saw the transcript of that. It looked pretty blunt. Was that accurate?
RHODES: Wolf, I've seen a lot of craze I things in the last six years. That was one of the craziest. That quote, unquote "transcript" bore no resemblance of the call that the two leaders had. Yes, they had a very candid exchange about the situation in Gaza. They talked strategy about how to pursue a ceasefire. They talked about Israel's need to defend itself, about the need to take care to avoid civilian casualties, but that was a totally made up transcript that you saw appear in the Israeli media. We were able to correct the record, and so were the Israelis, by the way, who made it clear that that was not at all a transcript of the call.
BLITZER: Mark Regev, the spokesman for the prime minister, also denied that was a transcript. I've got to tell you, it's getting a lot of momentum and a lot of publicity and a lot of buzz here in Israel. What can be done right now? I know there's an immediate crisis. It's awful what's going on in Gaza, but there seems to be a little tension developing between two very close allies, namely the United States and Israel. What needs to be done to fix that?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, again, I think on the basics, on the fundamentals, there's not any distance. The United States has provided enormous support for Israel's security. You have seen there in Israel the effects, for instance, the iron dome system has had which the United States helped develop and fund to save Israeli lives with the rockets. We've supported Israel's right to defend itself. We've also, however, focused our diplomacy on trying to bring about the ceasefire.
We believe that's a way to stop the rocket fire into Israel. We believe that Israel can still deal with the tunnels as it pursues a ceasefire, and we believe that a discussion about a long-term fix to some of the challenges we see in Gaza, including Hamas' stockpile of weapons, that would be in the interest of Israel's security. So we're going to continue to send that message to Israel, privately, publicly. And, again, I think the fundamentals of the relationship between the United States and Israel allows for discussion and sometimes debate about tactics.
BLITZER: The Israelis say, and we heard this just a little while ago here on NEW DAY from Mark Regev, the spokesman for Prime Minister Netanyahu, if you go back to the original Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire, Israel will accept it right away without any conditions. What they didn't like, clearly some of the add-ons that were put forward in subsequent conversations. Is that original Egyptian proposal still on the table?
RHODES: Yes, Wolf. The Egyptians have been in the lead for the ceasefire negotiations. Their proposal has been the basis for everything that has followed. There have been subsequent discussions with Egypt and Israel and the Palestinian authority, with some other countries in the region, like Turkey and Qatar, but it's on the basis of that Egyptian proposal.
And what we've said, too, is if we get these short-term ceasefire in place to provide for a humanitarian pause on the ground, that parties can convene in Cairo for those discussions, again, with the Egyptians in the lead in helping to bring people together in pursuit of a more lasting ceasefire solution. So, again, that is the proposal we continue to work with, and that's been the basis for a lot of our discussions with Israel.
BLITZER: I spoke to Robert Serry, the special U.N. envoy who is here in the Middle East. He's trying to get 24-hour ceasefire expanded to another 24 hours to see where they can go from there. Ben, hold on for a moment. Chris Cuomo back in New York has some questions for you as well.
CUOMO: Wolf, thanks very much. Ben, I just want to go from one continuing crisis to another, what's happening with Russia versus the U.S. in the eastern Ukraine. Now you have your western partners together. Let me ask you this with the new sanctions, if Vladimir Putin is at 80 percent popularity domestically in Russia, do these sanctions really matter? How do you make into his popularity at home?
RHODES: Well, Chris, that's a very good question, and he has stirred up nationalist sentiment at home which accounts for some of those numbers that you referenced. However, the impact of the sanctions we've already put in place has driven down their growth rates to near zero and has led to almost $100 billion in capital flight. That's before the very dramatic action taken yesterday by the United States in coordination with Europe, which has not gone as far as they have gone yesterday. That is going to impact the Russian economy, and you know that over time has an impact on public opinion as well. So we believe these sanctions are the best way to send a strong message to Russia that their policy in Ukraine has costs.
CUOMO: That's the long-term game. The short-term exigency, the immediate problem there is MH-17 and dealing with the crash site. We just heard from one of the international monitors. They believe there are still bodies there, the dignity of the victims. Have you done anything to approach Russia about helping to allow the investigators into that crash site?
RHODES: Well, we have, Chris, and what we've done is we've had had the Dutch in the lead for the negotiation to get access to that crash site and for the investigation, and given the overwhelming loss that the Dutch suffered as well as the Australians who also suffered a great loss in MH-17.
CUOMO: They are not getting in, though, Ben.
RHODES: I know. And what we said is the United Nations is behind those efforts. They need to make sure that there's access to international police forces that can secure the site. And again, we're going to be very clear that Russia has a responsibility, and part of the reason why we moved to the sanctions yesterday is because they have not cooperated with that investigation and the separatists that they back are still blocking access to the site.
CUOMO: Now one of the reasons that there's also blocked access is the shelling. There are reports even from Human Rights Watch, not just from on the ground from the Ukraine side, that there are short missiles being used by Ukraine to knock out different areas as they try to reclaim some control there. If that's true, if they are shelling civilians, if their ongoing fighting is stopping access to the scene, do you need to approach the Ukraine side as well?
RHODES: Absolutely, Chris. We've been talking to the Ukrainian government about this. The fact of the matter is President Poroshenko put forward an exclusion zone of many kilometers around the site that they were going to abide by in allowing for access to the site. They did stick to that. It was the separatists who were repeatedly violating that agreement and not allowing OSCE monitors and others to get to the site. However, we're going to hold the Ukrainians to their commitments on that exclusion zone. They need to provide a space where international investigators can do their work.
CUOMO: They were supposed to give 45 kilometers. There's certainly fighting going inside it. If they are using short range missiles and hitting civilian targets, is that something that the U.S. will stand for?
RHODES: Well, we obviously would never support them hitting civilian targets. They have a right, of course, to conduct security operations inside of Ukraine to secure their own territory against these violent separatists. What we would like, however, is for there to be space around the crash site so international investigators can get to the scene.
CUOMO: And also, Ben, you know there's metaphor value of what happened to MH-17 as well as the world remembers the dignity of the dead there was not observed. You know, it's a window into the situation for people, and the more attention it gets, the more consensus you'll have around doing the right thing in Ukraine and eastern Ukraine. Thank you for joining us this morning. Appreciate your answers from the administration.
RHODES: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: A lot of news this morning. Let's get to Michaela for that.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. It's 12 minutes past the hour. Skeptical lawmakers in Congress want a say in a final nuclear agreement with Iran. On Tuesday members of both parties at two congressional hearings insisted on a vote for any final deal with Tehran. The lead American negotiators declined to give a firm date for a deal. It would only say the Obama administration would consult with Congress along the way.
Islamist militias have taken over a special forces base in Benghazi, Libya. Government troops say they abandoned the base after heavy shelling. No injuries were reported after a government fighter jet crashed into a residential area during that fighting. Days of fighting between government forces and militants in Libya's second largest city has left at least 38 people dead.
U.S. Airways investigating an incident at sky harbor airport in Phoenix involving smoke in the cabin. Officials say the smoke condition after the plane landed. The pilot decided not to taxi back to the terminal. Fire and rescue crews were dispatched to the runway instead where all 64 passengers were taken off the plane safely. We're told no injuries have been reported.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has been suspended for a week now by the network following his remarks on domestic violence. While addressing the two-game suspension of NFL running back Ray Rice, Smith suggested that women could be to blame for domestic abuse and should not, quote, "provoke wrong actions." He has since apologized and calls the comments, quote, "the most egregious error of his career." Rice, you'll recall, was suspended for allegedly knocking his then fiance, now wife, unconscious and dragging her off an elevator after a fight.
CUOMO: At least we're having the conversation now.
PEREIRA: That's the point. As I said yesterday, I know Steven A., I know him not to be a Neanderthal and knuckle-dragging dude that is just thinking that women -- he is not that guy.
CAMEROTA: Yes. That was an unscripted moment on live television that can often get you into trouble.
PEREIRA: Right. CAMEROTA: As we can all attest.
PEREIRA: And he's had a terrible week as a result.
CUOMO: He is not the problem, but he did speak to --
CAMEROTA: He speaks to a greater problem.
CUOMO: That's right. And that's what's worthy of the discussion. And it's also good to hear he didn't lose his job altogether.
PEREIRA: It has been happening a lot. And also yesterday, can we also talk about the fact that Carol Costello, our colleague here, bravely told her story, which is very, very difficult to do. And we salute her for that.
CAMEROTA: That was really powerful. I loved that interview. Great to hear.
CUOMO: Another up of our colleagues, Christi Paul wrote a book about her experience on this as well.
CAMEROTA: All to common.
CUOMO: Which is a really powerful account if you want to learn more about the subject.
Let's take a break on NEW DAY -- one flight away. That's how close the Ebola outbreak came to our shores. A major airline now canceling flights in west Africa. The question is how worried should we be? We have Dr. Sanjay Gupta here. He'll tell you what you need to know.
CAMEROTA: The Ebola crisis is getting worse in West Africa. A major airline in the region has stopped flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone amid growing fears that the virus could spread, and a doctor leading charge to combat the outbreak has died of the virus himself. Meanwhile, two American health workers who tested positive for Ebola are clinging to life in Liberia. This all follows the death of American Patrick Sawyer, whose case has raised international alarms, because he was able to board a plane while infected.
So let's get to chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, great to see you. So explain to us how Mr. Sawyer came in contact with Ebola, and if you could put this in context for us, how big of a threat is it now?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the thing about Mr. Sawyer is we're not exactly sure how he contracted the virus. There have been some reports he may have been taking care of a relative who in fact was infected with Ebola. That was happening in Liberia. And then he got on a series of planes and made his way into Nigeria and it was actually in the airport itself that he started having real difficulty and then died.
So where exactly he contracted the virus, was he sick at all when he got on any of these planes or not, we don't know the answer to that. But we know the infection seems to have occurred very quickly in his case, and, you know, within hours, it seems he went from being relatively healthy, able to board a plane, to actually dying in that airport.
CAMEROTA: Right, and in fact there are some reports from witnesses that he was markedly ill on the plane during the flight. So how big of a concern is that for all the other passengers?
GUPTA: Well, that's a real concern, and what's happening now in these countries and these airlines are trying to find those passengers on those flights, which can be hard to do because there's a series of flights. And they want to find them, inform them, and then what they will do is simply monitor their temperature for 21 days. That's sort of the outside period where someone could still develop problems. If they don't develop a fever in 21 days, they should be in the clear.
First step is they have to find patients and then monitor them like that. So this is one of the big challenges. Should he have been caught before he got on the plane, or was he truly healthy, feeling fine, no fever, nothing that would have prevented him from boarding that plane and leading to this. We just don't know answers here.
CAMEROTA: Sanjay, can you explain to us the difference between a contagious disease and an infectious disease?
GUPTA: This is an important distinction, Alisyn. When you think about things that are very contagious, like the flu for example, they spread through the air. It lives on surfaces for a long time, so someone else who touches that surface could also get the infection. Something that's highly infectious like Ebola means that just a small amount of the virus, small amount of body fluid containing the virus, could cause an infection.
So it doesn't spread through the air, per se, but when you're in those camps, Ebolaa camps like I was, you see the guys putting on the spacesuit, so to speak, and that's because they want to cover every square inch of their body. Even a small amount on your hands could potentially cause an infection. We all have breaks in our hands, whether we realize it or not, and that's what highly infectious means.
CAMEROTA: So, Sanjay, is there any treatment for people who are infected with Ebola?
GUPTA: There is no specific treatment, and that's -- that's a big problem, not only from a medical standpoint but also from a psychological standpoint. I think as a result there's been an increased mistrust of doctors that come into these camps. They don't have a specific antiviral; they don't have a vaccine.
What they do is provide fluids. People become profoundly dehydrated, ultimately that's what can lead to death. So simply replacing the fluids while the infection clears itself, that's the goal of these medical professionals there. It's called supportive therapy and it does make a difference. In previous outbreaks, the mortality rate has been as high as 90 percent; here it's hovering around 60 percent. Still awful but better than before.
CAMEROTA: Liberia has announced tougher screening for passengers coming and going in order to try to contain this disease, so how are we supposed to keep it from spreading?
GUPTA: Yes, I'll tell you the thing about screenings, and Mr. Sawyer may make the case here, is they don't always work. Should he have been caught before he got on a plane, might even already have had a little bit of a fever, something to give people a clue that there was something going on here. You know, they are just not always going to work.
What's interesting about screenings is that they do provide a little bit of a psychological deterrence as well, so just the pragmatic thing, you might catch somebody with a fever, but also psychologically, it forces the traveler to sort of think have I been sick lately? Have I been in a situation where I could potentially have become infected? Let me consider this a little bit.
So they are not going to be perfect though. The real key, ultimately, is to stop this at source and that's happening in these villages where people are continuing to transmit Ebola to each other, and the people coming out of those villages into bigger towns and so forth. So if you can really educate people in these villages how to stop transmitting this, I think that's going to ultimately lead to the end of this outbreak.
CAMEROTA: OK, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks for all the information this morning. Great to see you.
And next hour we'll talk to the widow of that American man we were just discussing, Patrick Sawyer, who died from Ebola.
And next up on NEW DAY, a U.N. school comes under attack in Gaza, killing 19 people, but who was behind it?? The latest in this ongoing deadly conflict.
And what's next in the battle over the border? Republicans stripped $3 billion, the vast majority from President Obama's request for money to deal with the children stuck at the border. Is it enough to solve the problem? We'll go INSIDE POLITICS on that.
CUOMO: There is a lot going on this morning, so let's get right to INSIDE POLITICS on NEW DAY with Mr. John King. John?
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Chris and Alisyn, good morning to you. There is a lot going on and let's start with this as we go INSIDE POLITICS.
The question of why is the White House and why are Democrats so happy to talk about the possibility of impeaching a Democratic president? With me to share their reporting and their insights, Lisa Lehrer of Bloomberg News, Manu Raju of Politico.
Now this has come up of late. Some Republicans have talked about this. John Boehner, though, listen to the Speaker of the House. He says, wait a minute, this is not a serious issue at all. This is Demcorats trying to raise money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president's own staff an coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Why? Because they're trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's election. We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans. Listen, it's all a scam started by Democrats at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, most of that is actually factually correct. Democrats are raising a lot of money to this. But to the point is it a scam started at the White House? Well, the speaker wishes a number of Republicans hadn't put this word out there. The White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest eager, happy to provide a list.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, if that's the case, then I suspect that there may be members of the Republican conference that didn't receive the memo. Steve King from Iowa, Congressman Ted Yoho from Florida, Congressman Lou Barletta from Pennsylvania, the distinguished Congressman Steve Stockman from Texas, his fellow Texan Blake Farenthold has raised this prospect. We've even seen Kerry Bentivolio from Michigan call this a dream come true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And he didn't even mention Sarah Palin there, who has said this.