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Getting Congress Decide on Immigration before Leaving on Vacation; Democrats Hoping for Women's Turnout in Coming Election; Martin Indyk on Necessity of Ceasefires and Perspectives for Solving Conflict between Israel and Gaza

Aired July 30, 2014 - 07:30   ET



JOHN KING, ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: And he didn't even mention Sarah Palin there who has said this, so the speaker might be right, they have no plans to do this, but this is a mess of the Republicans' making, but how is a Democratic White House so happy to talk about this?

LISA LERER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: The White House is loving this, it is like their birthday and Christmas all rolls into one perfect package. They are happy to talk about, it because, one, it raises them money, right? Steve Israel said they raised $1 million yesterday. Their Democratic base loves this, is happy to fund it, but also plays into this narrative that they have been pushing for quite a long time, which is that it's not President Obama's fault that nothing is getting done in Washington, it's the Republican Congress' fault and this allows them to say, look, it's their last week, this is we are going to hear possibly even from the president today in Kansas City, it's their last week in town and they are focusing on impeachment rather than a host of other pressing issues the country faces.

KING: And part of the problem for Republicans, Manu, is that they are going to vote to sue the president. They said he's overstepped his executive powers, particularly in health care. They say other issues as well. So again, Republicans want to keep it about the president's power, but some of them, some of them have said impeach him.

MANU RAJU, POLITICO: Yeah, and when the president does move on immigration on an executive level, which it sounds like he's going to do something this summer, possibly giving work permits to undocumented immigrants, expanding the deferred action program for people who are brought to the country here illegally at a young age, that's going to really rile up folks on the right to say once again the president is overstepping his constitutional bounds and we need to do something about it, and you may hear the impeachment word come out. This is a way for the White House in some ways to preempt that attack knowing that they are going to move forward on immigration sometime this summer.

KING: So, at the moment it's part of the fundraising and down the road a bit, we shall see as we go forward. You might say this is the do something Congress or at least attempt to do something Congress just this week. They are trying to work on a border bill, but they are far apart. The House Republicans say we'll give you about $700 million. Senate Democrats want to pear the president's request. He wanted nearly 4 billion. They want to give him about 3 billion. What's the significant differences here as they try, both the House Republicans and the Senate Democrats think they need to at least try to do something before going on a five-week vacation, but can they bridge the gap?

RAJU: I'm not sure, because I'm not even sure that a House bill can get out of the House and a Senate bill can get out of the Senate right now, so neither chamber may have a bill to even negotiate in a conference committee, not just the difference on money, which is huge difference on money, but also whether or not to change any policy to speed up those deportations, that's something that the House wants to do, that's something that Senate Democrats don't want to do. They are very far apart. What you may see happen is actually there's money in the Senate bill for Israel, aid for missile defense in Israel, that may be stripped out and maybe they move that separately. Or funding for wildfires in the northwest. That may happen, but immigration, looks like they are going to leave that on the table for the foreseeable future.

KING: Is the White House OK with that in the sense that the White House says both parties have acknowledged this is an urgent crisis. Why can't they come together and do something? What the Republicans are looking for to see if the president will work liberals, and say let's change the 2008 law, let's make it easier to send these children back. Is the president going to get his - you know, roll up his sleeves on that one? Or that he'd rather just have the issue?

LERER: Well, the White House, of course, hasn't really been clear, totally transparent on where they are on that issue. I think they do see this politically as another example that they can use to show that this is a Congress, we have this pressing problem. There was polling out yesterday that was fascinating. 70 percent of people think that they should start a process for these minors that they should remain in the country during that, so everyone is not saying -- a majority of people are not saying deport these kids immediately and the White House knows that, so they do see from a political standpoint this is another example of an issue where they can say the president is trying to do something, Congress can't get it done, but it is going to be a big problem for them from a policy standpoint.

KING: All sides, all sides, the White House and both parties in Congress. This is what they get elected to do. It is an urgent crisis, maybe they can actually get into a room and talk to each other, but pipe dream. I know. Crazy thing. But let's move on. One of the races, it's a tough one, but one of the races Democrats do think they can pick up sit this year in the Senate, races Kentucky, Mitch McConnell is the Republican leader. He thinks that Republicans will take a majority, and he could be the next majority leader, but Alison Grimes, his Democratic opponent, she's in a dead hit race right now, but 90 something days to elections, that she is close and she things the key is to turn out women voters. Look at this new ad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Arlene Woods from Lynch, Kentucky. Here's her question for Senator McConnell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, why did you vote two times against the violence against women's act and against enforcing equal pay for women?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can never get him to answer this one either.


KING: Both in substance and style, I like this ad. I'm not - Alison Grimes is in a tough race here. But very smart, I think. Number one, turning out women is key for Democrats, we see that in everything the president does, we see that in their ads, a little bit of offbeat production there. Why is this so important for the Democrats?

LERER: Well, they have to maintain this gender gap that they have had in recent elections. Single women are a huge percentage of the voting base. They voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in the past, and for Democrats mid-term elections are about juicing turnout so this is one key group that they have to juice the turnout of, and this feels like a good issue for them to jump on for it.

KING: On the substance, Senator McConnell says he was for the original Violence against Women Act. He didn't - he did oppose a Democratic reauthorization that he says expanded the powers too much. But how do they counter this one?

RAJU: You know, that's what he's been saying. He said that that this is, essentially, a manufactured issue by the Grimes campaign, and the McConnell people actually feel pretty good about the gender gap right now. They think they have narrowed that gap, and they see the polls going in their direction, that is Grimes' chance for victory, is to turn out that demographic and to turn out liberals, and even in a conservative state and that's why you see people like Elizabeth Warren go out to Kentucky and trying to drive up that vote because of we know nationally and in Kentucky turnout favors Republicans this year. Democrats need to close that gap if they have any chance of keeping a majority.

KING: We'll watch this one play out. There's also a hearing on Capitol Hill today as Democrats trying to make gun control also a women's issues saying that one of the arguments for gun control is to combat domestic violence, so we'll watch as this will plays out. Lisa, Manu, thanks for coming in.

As we do close today, Seth Meyers wants to talk about somebody sending a letter to the president. Listen here, try to get the joke


SETH MEYERS, HOST "LATE NIGHT": The FBI has captured a man accused of sending over 500 letters filled with white powder to President Obama. The FBI said he was a disillusioned middle-aged man who felt beaten down and powerless at work, and the guy who sent the letters was kind of a mess, too.



KING: And so it goes for this mid-term election year. Nice, easy funny at the president's expense there.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I thought this was going to be a Charlie Sheen punchline there. But no, he went a different direction.

CUOMO: I was going Rob Ford.


CUOMO: Hey, John, did you know that we started a hashtag fixorstay, to give people behind the idea of making Congress do something before they go home. Now, trending on Twitter. So, people are resonating.

KING: You know, they do when they put their hand on the Bible and take the oath, they do say that they are there to do a job, if you in Congress to legislate, the president to be the chief executive. God forbid we put them all in a room until they figure something out.

CUOMO: Having ...

CAMEROTA: Right. But you should watch Chris' interview with Congressman Steve King because it did break a little news. And he did talked about what he plans to do to fix the immigration situation. And it was just a great interview, so everybody look it up on CNN.

CUOMO: And he said he's moving off the cantaloupe's comment. He said they have calves like John King now.

KING: I'm going to just - on that one.


CAMEROTA: Let it lie.

CUOMO: I've seen his calves.

CAMEROTA: Have you?

CUOMO: Yeah. I'll tell you about it in the break.

CAMEROTA: I'll look forward to that.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, is a diplomatic solution still within reach in the Middle East? We're going to ask former special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations right after the break.

CAMEROTA: And prosecutors could wrap their case today against the Detroit man who guns down a woman on his porch. Some explosive moments in the courtroom. We'll show you all that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: Welcome back, the Middle East conflict is getting uglier and more tragic by the day, you know that. New numbers. Overnight 19 people killed in an exchange of fire at a U.N. school in Gaza. Hamas militants caught for a third time storing weapons at a sensitive site. Israel again accused of heavy-handed measures. Palestinian Authority caught in the middle with hopes for statehood hanging in the balance. How do you possibly carve a diplomatic solution out of everything I just said? Let's ask Martin Indyk. Martin resigned just a month ago as the U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. He was also the former U.S. ambassador to Israel. He's now at the Brookings Institution.

Thank you very much for joining us. Let's talk about the resignation. When you left you said there's so much water under the bridge, so much skepticism, so much distrust and lack of confidence. The difficulties we faced were far more because of the 20 years of distrust that built up. Are you saying this is not doable?

MARTIN INDYK, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: It certainly doesn't look that way at the moment given what you're reporting this morning. What we're watching is war-making, not peace-making, but when the dust settles and the blood of innocence is cleared away, Israelis and Palestinians have only one solution to their conflict which is to resolve it through peace negotiations. The idea of a two-state solution, in which the Palestinians have an independent Palestinian state living alongside the secure true state of Israel is an idea that's been around for more than two decades. There is no other solution. It's only a question of when both sides will recognize that that's a better solution than continuing the conflict.

CUOMO: What do we learn from the Oslo accords? Some 20 years ago, the deal that was temporary, was supposed to be made permanent and then events that happened in the interim wound up turning both parties away from the belief in the accord? Was that as close as you can get? Do you think that what's the lesson? That's the question.

INDYK: I think the lesson is that the Oslo accords, which were designed as an interim process.

CUOMO: Right.

INDYK: To build confidence that would then enable the parties to grapple with the really tough issues of a final resolution of the conflict, doesn't work, that instead of building confidence, the years that have passed, that process was supposed to be a five-year process, not 20 years since Oslo, that that process actually destroys confidence, convinces both sides that the other side doesn't want peace, and that's now more the case than today when both sides are killing each other. And that is not -- as I said, it's not peace- making. That's war-making, and so what we tried to do, what Secretary Kerry and in support of our President Obama and my efforts as a negotiator, we tried to resolve all of the core issues, and while we made some progress on that, it's very difficult to do because of the distrust between the leaders and the people. There's one hope, but it's only a sliver of hope at the moment. I don't want to exaggerate it, but there's a hope that coming out of this conflict. Israelis will come to see that Abu Mazen, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, is a partner for peace. He stands in contrast to Hamas as a man who promotes nonviolence and peaceful resolution of conflict, and maybe they will come to see that that is better to do a deal with him than to avoid the really tough decisions.

CUOMO: Nobody wants to see any more violence. Everybody is traumatized by the pictures that we see of what's going on in Israel and certainly in Gaza, but is there a point at which you need to let the two parties fight it out and come to their own resolution through conflict, or is there just no meaningful point to what's going on right now?

INDYK: I would never endorse the idea that the parties should be left to fight it out, and neither would Secretary Kerry or the president. That's why they have been so active in the last couple of weeks trying to get a cease-fire.

CUOMO: Why not?

INDYK: It's -- simply because conflict only increases the passion and the hatred and makes peace-making more difficult. The only hope out of this situation, as I said, that both sides will come to recognize that it's much better to try to resolve their conflict through negotiations than to try to do it through war.

CUOMO: But why would they come to that situation? What would make them arrive at that point when you have Hamas in control, gaining support, saying that Israel cannot exist, and now you have Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister on the Israeli side, who says he does not really see a two-state solution, in as much as he most recently said, I don't see any solution where we relinquish security control of the territory west of the Jordan - of the River Jordan. You can't have a two-state solution if you do that, so where is the point where they will come to this recognition that you talk about where they need to negotiate?

INDYK: Well, I think the two things that you've cited are very much a part of the problem, that on the Palestinian side, Hamas is dedicated to destroying Israel rather than making peace with it, but it -- it doesn't represent all Palestinians. As I say, there's an alternative voice there in the leader of the Palestinian Authority and the head of the PLO in Abu Mazen who is committed to peace. On the Israeli side what you've got is the prime minister expressing real security concerns, that if they withdraw from the West Bank they will get another Gaza there, but we know that there are answers to that issue that reconcile Palestinian needs for sovereignty and independence and Israeli needs for security. We've had the Pentagon with some of the smartest people in the military working on these issues with the Israelis, with the Palestinians, we've developed ideas that can deal with that, but they do have to reconcile the need for a Palestinian independence and freedom with Israeli security needs. One side's needs cannot trump another's in this situation. Otherwise there won't be a resolution to the conflict.

CUOMO: Help give some context to something that matters very much to our audience. When you look at the pictures of all the civilians who are being killed in Gaza and the schools getting hit, the hospital getting hit, do you, with your experience of the Israelis and their intentions and the integrity of those intentions, do you believe the claims of Israel that they are not trying to take out civilians? They are going at targets where they believe there are weapons or there are access to tunnels and that Hamas are putting those in civilian places, putting those in vulnerable areas so it's not Israel's fault when something like that happens. Do you believe it?

INDYK: Well, it's not a question of belief. You can see it in the images, rockets being fired from built-up areas of rockets being found and now for a third time in UNRWA schools. Hamas is operating from civilian areas and is calculating that the damage done by Israeli retaliation to innocent civilians, now at something like over 1,600 have been killed, that that is a strategic weapon in their arsenal, because Israel comes under such international criticism, including from the United States, Israel's closest friend, for the killing of innocent civilians.

CUOMO: But you believe that criticism is unwarranted?

INDYK: I believe that Israel faces a very difficult dilemma. It's got rockets coming in on its civilian populations, over 2,000 have been fired by Hamas at its civilian population, and how does it stop it, but other than by hitting in civilian areas, in Gaza. That's why we need a cease-fire as soon as possible

CUOMO: Mr. Ambassador, I want to interrupt you only to say that you're getting exactly what you just asked for. We're hearing reports right now that Israel has called for a four-hour humanitarian cease- fire. I don't know if it's unilateral or if they are calling out to the other side, but it sounds like it's unilateral. What do you think that means? Why are they doing it? What could it lead to?

INDYK: Well, I think that that four-hour cease-fire is important in terms of giving people a chance to get humanitarian supplies, medical supplies and so on, but it's not going to solve the problem. What we need is a much longer cease-fire that allows for negotiations of an agreement that will produce a very different situation for Gaza and for Israel. So as much as I would welcome any cease-fire, I think that is not going to be sufficient. If it can lead to a longer cease- fire, then, of course, it will be very welcome.

CUOMO: In your experience, the cease-fire is supposed to go from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. local time there Eastern time, so based off our clocks here, not there, so that four-hour window, could that be a step towards something else or do you think it's just a gesture and probably just ends when it ends?

INDYK: Well, it could be, but something needs to come in very quickly in terms of some diplomatic initiative that can extend that cease- fire. We've tried four-hour cease-fires, 12-hour cease-fires, 72-hour cease-fires, seven-day cease-fires. They've all been tried in the last two weeks and none of them have held, and I fear that this one won't either unless it's backed up by more serious cease-fire initiative. Secretary of state tried that last week. He's still involved in ongoing efforts there. Fortunately, this week it seems that the Egyptians are kicking in. They were reluctant to do so last week. The Palestinian authority and the PLO are also moving in to try to effect this and hopefully with the combination of all of these parties now trying to get a cease-fire that we will see it in the next few days, because the alternative to that is just more of this horrendous bloodshed that achieves no real purpose other than the killing of innocents and the terrorizing of innocents.

CUOMO: You have too many senior citizens on both sides thinking that they will not see peace in their lifetime, and that is a sad commentary indeed. Mr. Ambassador, hopefully they wind up being wrong and peace prevails. Thank you for joining us.

INDYK: I hope so, too. Thank you.

CUOMO: Let's take a break right now. When we come back on "NEW DAY," emotions spilling over at the trial of the man who shot a woman to death on his front porch. Question, was it murder? Was he defending himself, or was it something more than that? There's some new information. We'll give you the latest from the trial when we come back.


CAMEROTA: All right we're following that breaking news. Israel announcing a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire just moments ago. Will Hamas do the same? We'll have much more on these developments right after the break with Wolf Blitzer, he is live on the ground.