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Lawsuit Against President Obama; Republican and Democrats Engaged in Fighting for Electorate Instead of Solving Problems; Israel Answers New Accusations in Targeting U.N. Facility; Interview with Mark Regev
Aired July 31, 2014 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question. In some ways, I would not be surprised at all if we hear a headline within next period of time that a case of Ebola is now in the United States. That has not happened as of yet.
It's not made its way into the Western hemisphere, but, you know, between the time someone is exposed and the time someone gets sick, you have 21 days so you could be all over the world during that time and that's -- that's the concern. I think that the resource in the United States is so different than the resources there in many of these places in Africa.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: True.
GUPTA: Isolating people and being able to identify this quickly through genetic testing of the virus, all this sort of stuff, I think, will make a difference. So, we will hear that scary headline, my prediction that Ebola has made its way into the United States but I don't think we'll hear the follow-up scary headline which is that it's starting to spread. I think it will be contained very quickly.
CUOMO: Well, good -- that's good to know. Thank you for the perspective, Doc. Always good to have you on the show
GUPTA: You got it, Chris. Thank you.
CUOMO: All right, now if you want to learn more about the organizations that are working to help those affected by the Ebola outbreak, you can. You just go to cnn.com/impact.
We take a break now. We come back on NEW DAY. Your House of Representatives just found the time to sue the president. So, what other priorities got put on the backburner so they could do that? We'll take it on in "Inside Politics."
CUOMO: Well, to say the least there's a lot going on in the world that has political ramifications so let's get "Inside Politics" on NEW DAY with Mr. John King.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Chris, Kate, nice to see you. You're right. A lot going on. Especially, this is normally the sleepy period, but not this week in Washington. Let's go "Inside Politics" with me this morning to share their reporting and their insights. Julie Pace of the Associated Press, Ron Fournier of "National Journal." Now, most of you at home think your Congress can't do anything. Well, you'd be mistaken. The House of Representatives now on record. It is going to sue the president of the United States. House Republicans say the president overstepped his authority in the implementation of his signature health care act. They say the president changed things he didn't have the power to change. Listen to the president. He says, why can't we do other things and just get along.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America deserves a raise and it's good for everybody, so some of the things we're doing without Congress. We're making a difference. But we could do so much more if Congress would just come on and help out a little bit.
OBAMA: Just come on.
OBAMA: Come on and help out a little bit. Stop being mad all the time. Stop, you know, just hating all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It looks like the president is relaxed, having a little fun with that, a little sarcasm. The White House makes a decision when to be mad and when to lecture the Congress when they want to do that and when to do it light heartedly like that. What's behind that strategy?
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I think you can tell from that clip that the White House is not exactly, you know, quaking in its boots over this lawsuit. They actually feel like politically this is a very good thing for the president and Democrats in a mid-term election year. Not only can they point to this week in Congress and say look at all the other things on the table that Congress could be doing and instead they are doing this lawsuit. They can paint Republicans in a broader way as saying with all of these issues facing the country, with all of these priorities that the American people have, this is where Republicans are, and they are raising money off of it.
RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Stylistically that's the president at his best. That was Harry Truman with the smile, give them hell with a smile. Policy-wise, a little bit of more long view, you are talking about quaking in their boots. The president and the White House should be ashamed of themselves and so should the Republicans. They are both playing politics for the presidency. They are both playing the impeachment game. They are both raising money and cheating up their bases over something that's fundamentally abhorrent to most Americans.
But stylistically, yeah, they are playing.
KING: But they are playing politics with the country, not just the presidency in the sense that both parties seem to like this. You mentioned ...
KING: You mentioned The White House likes this because it helps gin up the base. Steve Israel who runs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was in for a briefing with us yesterday. He says they have raised $7.6 million since Republicans announced the plans for this lawsuit and the Republicans like it, too, because they think it gins up their base. And they are not worried about the president's friends in California or the president's friends in New York. They are worried about their red districts in the middle of the country. And both sides are playing the zero sum game where they think it helps them in November
FOURNIER: Three people will vote in November.
FOURNIER: I mean the Republicans started this. The Democrats have taken it to a new level and the rest of America, the vast majority of America is even more turned off by government and more turned off by politics. They should be ashamed of themselves.
KING: And so you wonder if they can vote to sue the president, can they vote, just bring to the floor, maybe the House and the Senate wouldn't be able to resolve their differences. But will they just have some votes and see if they can solve the border crisis. Well, that's one of the big challenges right now. House Republicans want to do something much more modest than the president wants. Even Senate Democrats want to scale back the president's request a little bit, but one of the most fascinating dynamics yesterday as you look at the House Republicans, can Speaker Boehner get his crowd, which gets a little unruly sometimes, to agree on the bill. Ted Cruz, the senator and Tea Party favorite from Texas comes over to talk to House conservatives.
After that, this story, a great story in the "Washington Post" today. Robert Costa quotes Peter King, the moderate Republican from Long Island, says the Obama White House should put Ted Cruz on the payroll.
Ted Cruz over there telling them essentially, don't give the president anything.
PACE: This dynamic with Ted Cruz and the House Republicans is actually fascinating. This is becoming a little bit of a pattern for him, where he's meddling in House Republican business and he does this because there's a group of Tea Party Republicans in the House that want Boehner to be taking more conservative positions, that want him to be tougher on the president and when it comes to this immigration issue in particular want him to not only vote against what the president wants, but also try and scale back programs that the president has already passed through executive order to grant what they say amnesty to a lot of people here in the country illegally.
KING: So, House Republicans will cast in votes, including on that amnesty question as they view it that have zero chance of passing in the Senate and zero chance of getting the president's signature. But Ron, this -- the Republicans have political dynamics to play. But so do Democrats on the Senate side. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana voted against bringing any immigration bill even to the floor. Why are they worried about? Again, this is what they got elected to do, right? To debate and vote on the country's big problems?
FOURNIER: No, no.
KING: Oh, I'm sorry.
FOURNIER: They got elected to make sure that they can get a few more members of the party elected in the next election. There's nobody in this town right now up in Congress who are really looking at the long- term future of the country. The Republicans are perverting and in this case a couple of Democrats perverting the word amnesty and are doing it in a way that's turning off the fastest growing electorate of this country. There will not be a Republican president in our lifetimes if they don't get right on this issue. But they are not worried about even that. They are only worried about the short-term game, as you say, the zero sum game of how can we get the most of our voters out in November and make sure the other side doesn't get their voter out. It's pathetic.
KING: One election at a time at the expense of the country and trying to have a conversation about ...
KING: Some legitimate issues.
That's about another issue. Republicans have long been saying that Lois Lerner, remember her, she ran a tax exempt division of the IRS, they have long been saying she targeted the Tea Party and they have a new e-mail that they have found that they think proves her motives. Now, I want to be careful. Lois Lerner here is responding to a couple of e-mails from a friend, we don't know the friend's name and the friend says some pretty nasty things about right wing talk radio hosts, about -- she uses the term wackos to talk about conservatives. The Lois Lerner response "so we don't need to worry about alien terrorists," that typo you see is hers, she did that on her BlackBerry, "We don't need to worry about alien terrorists. It's our own crazies that will take us down." Is this what the Republicans are looking for, that smoking gun to say Barack Obama's Justice Department cannot investigate this, you need a special outside counsel or is this just another bread crump on the trail of weirdness at the IRS?
PACE: You know, it's hard to say if this e-mail alone ends up being a smoking gun, but what it certainly does is that continues to keep this issue alive for Republicans, and it gives more fodder for what they have been saying the whole time, which is that this is not just something that was isolated, that that was not politically motivated, that in fact started with one person and perhaps more who had a real -- a real ax to grind with Republicans and it is going to keep this issue alive, particularly heading into the midterms, because with the IRS like some of these other issues that we've talked about, it's one of those issues that really does motivate the Republican base.
KING: The -- own crazies (ph). The prosecutor would say in the courtroom, goes to motive.
FOURNIER: Right. I think that. And to borrow the president's phrase, there's at least a smidgeon of bias in the IRS.
KING: Let's move on to Kentucky, one of the premier Senate races in the country when you see a new candidate, Alison Lundergan Grimes is the Democrat running against Mitch McConnell who wants to be the Senate majority leader, he's now the Senate Republican leader. When you running for the first time for a national office, federal office, sometimes you head the test on foreign policy. Listen to her talking about Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D-KY), CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists and have tried to tunnel their way in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, if you couldn't hear that clearly, the Iron Dome has been the big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in. The Iron Dome is air defense patriot missiles or the anti-missile system. It doesn't deal with tunnels on the ground. It deals with rockets in the sky.
FOURNIER: You Can argue and they are arguing now that you can make a sophisticated argument that antimissile defense system allows you time to focus on rooting out the tunnels and that is what she was trying to say. The problem is, this is a candidate who just a few years ago, we got a look at her internal campaign memo that said if she had the right position on Israel, a really pro-Israel stance she could raise a lot of money and her position was, in their words, her own campaign's words, TBD. So she has an authenticity problem already on this issue and this just underscores it.
PACE: I think the thing that this shows and we all know that's having written about Middle East issues, is that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian debate, your language is going to be parsed constantly. You have to be so careful with what you say and then it's a really complicated issue.
KING: Right. Right
PACE: And experience has been one of the things that McConnell's campaign has been going after with her, and this might play into that.
KING: I think the TBD was in the Georgia Senate Race, not the Kentucky Senate Race, Michelle Nunn versus Alison Grimes. That's OK. That's OK. It's the same dynamic, you get a candidate running for the first time that has to deal with these issues, they get troubles in sometimes. The key test for the candidate is, how do they clean it up? So, we'll watch the Kentucky Senate race - how that plays out. That's going to be -- it's been a long time. That's what they hired me for many, many years ago.
KING: And another different place. Julie and Ron, thanks for coming in. Let's get back to you guys in New York. That's the most fascinated part to me in this.
Georgia and Kentucky, two first time Democratic candidates in the two states, they think they can pick up Senate seats, they will be tested in these last 90 something days.
BOLDUAN: And every word and every statement parsed down to the syllable, that's for sure. Thanks, John.
KING: You are welcome.
CUOMO: Lucky, we have John King with this encyclopedic knowledge.
CUOMO: Of politics. Coming up, on NEW DAY, Israel's prime minister says this is only the beginning. He says terror tunnels in Israel must be eliminated no matter how long it takes. We're going with this chief spokesman about what that means after the break.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Welcome back to NEW DAY. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Jaffa just overlooking Tel Aviv right behind me. Let's bring in the spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Mark Regev. He's joining us from Jerusalem. Mark, the prime minister said today very bluntly, he said Israel will continue to destroy those Hamas tunnels going from Gaza into Israel with or without a cease-fire. I want you to elaborate. What does he mean by that?
MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, those tunnels, Wolf, and you've been there and you've seen it, they are a strategic threat to our country. They are a real and present danger to every Israeli civilian living in the southern part of our country because those tunnels allow terrorists to come across the frontier by tunneling under. They pop up on our side of the territory. You never know where, and they come out of those holes with explosives, with automatic weapons, with rocket-propelled grenades and they will kill and they'll kidnap. And I can tell you people in southern Israel are very concerned. You
know, no one wants to see a knock at the door because a terrorist has come out of a hole in your backyard with an AK-47 automatic rifle, so we have to deal with those tunnels, and we do -- we will do so either in the framework of a cease-fire or in the framework of continuing the conflict, but either way those tunnels have to be neutralized.
BLITZER: Have you completed your investigation who was responsible for the shelling of that United Nations school and shelter in Gaza yesterday, which killed so many people?
REGEV: Obviously, we are talking about a tragedy. Innocent people being killed, innocent people lives lost at a U.N. facility, and it's a terrible, you could not be moved if you see the pictures, but let's be clear, the investigation is ongoing. It's not clear to us that it was Israeli fire. We're looking into it. What we can say for a fact is that there was hostile fire from the immediate vicinity of that facility on our forces who were returning fire.
Now in the framework of a combat on the ground, a firefight, it's possible there was stray Israeli fire. I don't know that for a fact, but those accountable, those responsible are those who turn a U.N. facility into a war zone and that's clearly the Hamas terrorists who have a consistent pattern of behavior, of brutalizing U.N. facilities, storing weapons there, shooting out of them and they're the ones who have ultimately violated U.N. neutrality and violated the U.N.'s humanitarian mission, and with that, they should be, for that they should be condemned by all.
BLITZER: Because you know, the United Nations has flatly said it was Israel responsible for the shelling of that shelter. There's other horrible images we've shown our viewers in the United States and around the world, these horrible images of what happened subsequently at a marketplace, when there was a shelling there, a lot of injuries, a lot of deaths. Do you know if Israel was responsible for that particular incident?
REGEV: It's a similar sort of case, because we know we had forces in the area, and they were in combat with Hamas terrorists, and somehow we don't know exactly how, but those civilians were caught up in the cross-fire. Now, we make every effort when there is combat to tell civilians to leave the area, and you know this, Wolf. We've sent phone calls, we dropped leaflets, we send messages, we do radio broadcasts. We don't want to see any civilian caught up in the cross- fire between us and Hamas. We don't want to see a single civilian casualty.
Unfortunately Hamas has exactly the opposite strategy. Hamas wants those civilians there as human shields, and asks them or demands from them I should say probably more correctly that, commands them to stay so they do have these human shields. We try and make a maximum effort to avoid collateral damage.
I was on this program NEW DAY. I think it was ten days ago with CNN's own military analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, and he said, and his words I think are clear, he said that the Israeli military does take special care to try to avoid hitting civilians. We don't want that to happen.
BLITZER: I know that the U.S. has accepted Israel's requests for emergency resupply of certain specific munitions. Here is the question. Is Israel running low in certain munitions as a result of which you've asked the Obama administration for some emergency resupply from U.S. stockpiles currently in Israel? The Obama administration said yes, but are you running low?
REGEV: Wolf, with your permission, I'm going to say that Israel and the United States are friends and allies, and we have a very close defense relationship. We have very close military-to-military relationship, we have a very close intelligence relationship, but I'm not going to go into any details whatsoever about what might have transpired between our officials and American officials on these issues.
BLITZER: Our Barbara Starr, a Pentagon correspondent was the first to report this information yesterday. Mark Regev, thanks very much for joining us. Let's go back to New York and Kate and Chris.
BOLDUAN: All right, Wolf, we're actually going to get back to Wolf in just a moment with more on his interview with Israeli President Shimon Peres. We'll be back right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: It's unbelievable (ph). This is sort of a war that you don't get a chance to make it at least a little bit more humane.
BAN KI-MOON: Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) remains silent. We assume ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Putin does not have respect for our president. I see this as becoming a real threat to the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The deadly Ebola virus spreading even further.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But when the first wave of the epidemic hit in April, we knew that that was a potential that they would have to deal with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY. It's Thursday, July 31st, 8:00 in the East. Let's get right to the breaking developments this morning in the Middle East. Israel's prime minister vowing to finish the job, going after Hamas' terror tunnels, leading into Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu says operation Protective Edge will continue with or without a cease-fire to protect Israeli citizens calling this the first phase of the demilitarization of Gaza. It came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the U.N. Secretary-General that the Israeli air strikes amount to war crimes.
Overnight more shells fell near a U.N. school in Gaza after a nearby building was supposedly targeted. Still unclear who launched those. The United States is standing in support of Israel's right to defend itself from militants, but does warn Israel it needs to do more to limit civilian casualties. On the ground, Wolf Blitzer joining us from Jaffa this morning. Wolf, what is the situation? And good morning.
BLITZER: Well, the impression we're getting is that this is just beginning maybe to a certain degree, only today the Israelis mobilized, what, another 16,000 reservists. I think they're getting close to 90,000 reservists who have been mobilized so far over the past three and a half, four weeks. So, they're clearly listening to the Israeli cabinet, the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces. They're going forward with their military operations, and it's obvious what's going on inside Gaza, indeed. Let's go to Gaza City right now. CNN's Karl Penhaul is on the scene with more. What has happened basically in the past 24 hours overnight, Karl?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, if you look at the casualty toll, Wolf, more than 120 people were killed in just the last 24 hours and there is in many ways a palpable sense that things are going from bad to worse. Electricity is almost non-existent now, and that means that the water pumping systems are also failing, so many houses are going to be left without running water.