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Supreme Court Upholds Obama Health Care Plan; Interview with Josh Earnest; Guard Charged in Connection with Prison Escape; Interview with Stacia Hylton; Interview with Representative Terri Sewell; Trump on Fire in New Hampshire; Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 25, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALESCI: Provided evidence to back up its claims, but instead, took this issue to the media to coerce Whole Foods.
Now, for how this will all play out, we'll have to keep history in mind here.
Whole Foods paid almost $800,000 in fines last year for similar charges in California -- Jake.
TAPPER: Cristina Alesci, thanks so much
That's it for THE LEAD.
I'm Jake Tapper turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, ObamaCare saved -- the United States Supreme Court holds a crucial finding in the Affordable Care Act -- protecting subsidies for millions of Americans. Republicans vow to fight on. But it's a huge win for President Obama.
I'll speak with the White House press secretary, Josh Ernst.
Guard charged -- a second prison worker tells police he helped make the escape of two convicted killers easier. Why he's now facing three felony counts.
Mourning in Charleston -- the first two massacre victims are laid to rest and a viewing is to begin shortly for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney in the Emanuel AME Church where he was murdered.
And Trump rising -- breaking news, a CNN exclusive. Donald Trump's reputation as a successful business leader is resonating right now with Republican voters in New Hampshire. Our brand new poll results. That's coming up.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories, starting with an eye-opening new poll of Republicans in the first in the nation primary state of New Hampshire. A just released CNN/WMUR poll shows Donald Trump hot on the heels of Jeb Bush among New Hampshire Republicans.
Take a look at this. Bush has 16 percent, Trump -- Trump is at 11 percent. No other Republican candidate is in the double digits. Senator Rand Paul is in third place, with 9 percent.
Much more on this poll coming up this hour.
We also have new details about the second prison worker charged in connection with the escape of two New York killers.
Why does his attorney want to be taken off the case?
And where are the escapees?
We're following today's historic 6-3 Supreme Court decision, as well, a decision saving President Obama's health care law. As people celebrated outside the U.S. Supreme Court, the president and his staff exchanged hugs inside the Oval Office. And the reaction off this -- the reaction is continuing to pour in.
And in just a few minutes I'll speak live with the White House, press secretary, Josh Ernst. There you see him.
Our correspondents and our experts, they're all standing by with new reporting on all of the breaking stories.
Let's get the very latest, though.
Our Justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, was at the Supreme Court when today's historic Trump was announced.
Tell us what happened.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, crowds erupted when the Trump came. And this is a huge victory for President Obama, who nearly saw his signature legislative achievement wrecked by four word -- "established by the states."
The high court, led by Chief Justice Roberts, once again stepped in and saved this bill, saying that when you look at the law as a whole, it's clear that the intent was for eligible Americans to receive subsidies no matter where they live, not just in the states that set up their own exchanges.
This means that millions of Americans can keep receiving subsidies to help them pay for their health insurance.
The government had argued early on that these subsidies are crucial and without them, there would be chaos. Now, in a scathing dissent, Justice Scalia, from the bench, sitting right next to Chief Justice Roberts, said that the six justices in this majority opinion, including conservatives Kennedy and Roberts, were essentially rewriting the law by saying that tax credits are available everywhere. And he even suggested we start calling this law ScotusCare.
Again, he said this sitting right next to Chief Justice Roberts.
But no doubt about it, Wolf, this is, again, a resounding victory for the Obama administration.
BLITZER: A huge, huge win for the president and his team.
There's another major decision we're expecting from the U.S. Supreme Court as early, potentially, as tomorrow morning.
BROWN: Absolutely, Wolf. In fact, we're expecting the court to decide one of the biggest greatest civil rights cases of the decade -- whether states are allowed to ban gay marriage. Gay rights advocates are hoping that the court is poised to make history and say marriage is a fundamental right and gays cannot be excluded from that right, essentially clearing the way for same sex couples nationwide to get married.
Supporters of the ban have been saying that that decision should be left up to the people, not the courts.
The court could also go with the middle ground, upholding the bans, but saying states with bans must acknowledge lawfully performed gay marriages in other states.
Of course, all eyes will be on Justice Kennedy to see if he cements his legacy as a gay rights champion.
BLITZER: I'll be anxious to see what the chief justice, John Roberts, decides...
BLITZER: -- on this historic decision, as well.
We assume those four liberal justices, the Democratic-appointed justices, they will go with equal rights, with gay marriage. We'll see what Justice Kennedy and Justice Roberts do, as well.
Pamela, you'll all be busy, maybe as early as tomorrow morning.
BLITZER: The court's Trump today is a huge victory for President Obama, who says it proves his health care law, quote, "is here to stay."
Let's go to our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski,
She was there in the Rose Garden when the president came outside to speak about the Trump -- Michelle?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, right. And you know, for all the creative and confident posturing the White House has been doing leading up to this momentous decision, I mean calling this an easy case that shouldn't have even been taken up, the sense of relief around here, and celebration that things actually did go their way, is more than palpable.
KOSINSKI: (voice-over): Celebration outside the highest court and in a far more reserved way, at the White House. The president and his chief of staff.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today is a victory for hardworking Americans all across this country, whose lives will continue to become more secure in a changing economy because of this law. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.
KOSINSKI: Administration officials beamed from the front row. And the president spoke directly to his legacy, clearly feeling it solidifying now before him on this.
OBAMA: Someday our grandkids will ask us if there was really a time when America discriminated against people who get sick, because that is something this law has ended for good.
KOSINSKI: The Supreme Court's majority opinion, by conservative Chief Justice Roberts no less, mirroring almost word for word what the White House has been saying about Congress' role.
JOSH EARNEST, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Their interest is not in trying to protect the critically important gains that have been enjoyed by millions of Americans across the country, but rather to dismantle them.
KOSINSKI: Roberts writing, "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."
And, on the same day, another victory on another key legacy item for this president -- trade.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill is passed.
KOSINSKI: Congress finally passing two contentious bills, setting the stage for a massive trade pact with Asia.
President Obama, though, acknowledging that more battles lie ahead as Republicans vow to keep trying to, quote, "protect Americans from ObamaCare by repealing it." OBAMA: My greatest hope is that rather than keep refighting battles that have been settled again and again and again, I can work with Republicans and Democrats to move forward. So this was a good day for America.
Let's get back to work.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KOSINSKI: (INAUDIBLE) the biggest fight. It's not over yet, not on ObamaCare and not on trade. And keep in mind, the deadline for the Iran nuclear deal is coming up in only five days. That is going to bring plenty of fireworks, as well as practically the whole world weighing in -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Lots going on.
All right, thanks, Michelle.
On Capitol Hill and beyond, disappointed Republicans -- and they are deeply disappointed -- they're promising not to give up their effort to try to repeal and replace the president's health care law.
Let's go to our chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.
She's getting lots of reaction -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And you know very well, there is often a difference in politics between rhetoric and reality. But for Republicans on this particular Supreme Court case the gulf is huge.
BASH (voice-over): On the Republican 2016 trail, outrage.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I disagree with their decision. I believe ObamaCare is bad for Americans and bad for the country.
BASH: Even though the Supreme Court's decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, a Republican appointee, conservatives like Mike Huckabee spoke of an out of control act of judicial tyranny. And every GOP presidential candidate renewed promises to dismantle ObamaCare.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R-LA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to replace and repeal ObamaCare.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This election, in 2016 for the House and the Senate and the White House will give you a chance to stop ObamaCare.
BASH: Despite all that strident rhetoric, behind-the-scenes in many
Republican quarters there is a giant sigh of relief. If the Supreme Court had gone the other way, ruled that government subsidies for ObamaCare are unconstitutional, it would have been up to the GOP-led Congress to deal with the fallout for 6.5 million Americans still required to have health insurance, who can't afford it without government dollars.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Crocodile tears are flowing here in our nation's capital.
BASH: Ted Cruz tried to gin up his Tea Party base by calling up his own Republican establishment.
CRUZ: Quietly celebrating the court's decision. If they believe this issue is now settled, so they don't have to address it, they are sorely mistake mistaken.
BASH: In fact, conservative activists say there will be even more pressure on the GOP-led Congress to vote again to repeal ObamaCare, especially the Senate, now led by Republicans.
KEITH APPELL, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL CONSULTANT: The grassroots advocates, the rank and file Republicans, the Tea Party activists, all those people are asked by the party, give us your votes, give us your -- your energy in walking precincts and getting out the vote, give us your money.
And we will repeal ObamaCare. And it doesn't happen.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BASH: A Senate Republican leadership source tells me that the GOP-led Senate does plan to take up the repeal of ObamaCare, likely in the fall. They probably can get the repeal to the president's desk, but they will not have the votes to override his veto.
So, Wolf, the law won't change. And that's the key here. The law will not change while President Obama is in office. The votes simply aren't there.
But politically, Republicans feel a lot of pressure from conservatives to try. And they're going to do it.
BLITZER: Yes. They can make statements. They can get it passed in the House and the Senate.
BLITZER: They have majorities there. But they don't have the two- thirds override that would be required once the president vetoes any of those pieces of legislation.
All right, Dana, thanks very much.
BASH: Thank you. BLITZER: Let's get some more on what's going on.
Let's go to the White House, the press secretary to the president, Josh Earnest, is joining us right now.
Would you say, Josh, today was one of the two or three happiest days of the presidency for Barack Obama?
EARNEST: Well, Wolf, we didn't really have an interesting confluence of events here. You know, the president had been fighting for months to try to get this bipartisan majority built in the Congress to finally pass the full trade package that he was looking for. We finally got that through the House today. So that's up -- headed to the president's desk.
And then we got this Trump from the Supreme Court.
So, look, I think, what today validates is the president's willingness to take on really tough issues. You know, a lot of the pundits in Washington, DC said I don't understand why the president is taking on health care reform in the midst of this challenging economy. And a lot of people were very skeptical that Democrats and Republicans would actually come together to advance trade legislation.
Because of the president's determination, both of those things happened. And both of those things, in the mind of the president, are going to be really important for the future of middle class families in this country and that's exactly why he took on these tough challenges.
BLITZER: The president says he wants to even improve the Affordable Care Act, make some changes, work with Republicans.
Is that realistic?
EARNEST: Well, Wolf, it will be realistic if Republicans abandon the strategy that they've pursued for the last five years, which is that several dozen times, Republicans in the Congress have voted to repeal, to undermine, to take away, to weaken ObamaCare. And the fact is, if Republicans are willing to work in genuinely bipartisan fashion to try to strengthen the law, the president would be eager to work with Democrats or Republicans who have ideas about how exactly to do that.
But that's not what we've seen from Congress. Instead, what we've seen is a repeated partisan political effort to try to dismantle the president's signature domestic policy achievement, even though it has important benefits for millions of Americans all across the country.
BLITZER: Millions of Americans have benefited. But other millions of Americans say their -- the cost of their health care has gone up because of the Affordable Care Act. To them, what do you say?
EARNEST: To them what I say is that since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, the growth in health care costs is actually lower than it's ever been in our nation's history. So the fact is, before the Affordable Care Act went into place, it was commonplace for health insurance premiums to skyrocket, to increase by double digits.
But right now, because of the Affordable Care Act, if an insurance company wants to raise your rates by double digits, they actually have to file papers with state regulators and try to justify exactly why they want to raise rates.
So there are a variety of mechanisms in place that are holding down the growth in health care costs. That's having real benefits for middle class families across the country. It has real benefits for small business owners across the country. And it actually turns out, to be good for the fiscal situation for the United States government.
So the irony is, if that you really are concerned about deficits in this country and trying to get our fiscal situation under control, that should make you a really strong advocate of the Affordable Care Act, because the Affordable Care Act is actually having that effect on the government's budget.
BLITZER: As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court could rule as early as tomorrow morning on same-sex marriage, in effect, validating same-sex marriage, not only in those states that approve of it right now, but all over the country.
How optimistic are you that the court will rule in favor of gay marriage?
EARNEST: Well, Wolf, we believe in the power of the arguments of those who believe that people should not be discriminated against because of who they love. And the fact is, the president has made his views on this made known pretty clearly.
But I think what's really fascinating about this is this is an issue where we have seen rapid change all across the country. And the country is waiting to see if the Supreme Court has changed, too. And we should find that out in the next few days.
BLITZER: We could find that out as early as tomorrow morning.
As you know, the deadline for the Iran nuclear deal is June 30th, although it could slip by a few days.
Are you optimistic there will be a deal?
EARNEST: Well, Wolf, that's a tough one. Their -- you know, our negotiators have been hard at work for the last several weeks in Vienna. Tomorrow, Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz are going to -- are prepared to fly to Vienna to begin the high level negotiations that will be required to try to move this deal across the finish line.
You know, the fact is, there are still some really tough issues that they have to work through. And I think it still remains to be seen about whether or not they'll succeed.
The president has been really clear. He's only going to accept an agreement that shuts down every single pathway that Iran has to developing a nuclear weapon. [17:15:18] And it's going to seek a commitment from Iran to cooperate with the most intrusive set of inspections that has ever been imposed on a country's nuclear program. That's what will be required for us to get an agreement.
Now, Iran agreed to all of this in principle back in April. The question is if they're going to lock in the details here at the end of June. And that's the open question right now.
Now, if Iran is not willing to live up to those commitments, we won't be able to get a deal. But if Iran is able to verify in a verifiable way, shut down every pathway they have to a nuclear weapon, then we could get a really important agreement.
BLITZER: Josh Earnest, thanks very much for joining us.
EARNEST: No problem. Thank you, Wolf. Have a good one.
BLITZER: All right. Coming up, as the hunt for the two escaped killers reaches its 20th day, a guard is now the second prison employee charged in connection with the breakout.
And funerals are held for the first two Charleston massacre victims while a wake is set for the pastor of Mother Emanuel AME in the church where he was killed.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:20:43] BLITZER: As a thousand searchers scour the woods for the two escaped killers. A second prison employee now charged in connection with the breakout.
Corrections Officer Gene Palmer faces three felony counts. Let's go to Brian Todd. He's got the latest details on this obviously very disturbing development.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, just moments ago, this officer's attorney, Gene Palmer's attorney, Andrew Brockway, resigned from the case. Brockway said he's a small-time lawyer who simply doesn't have the resources to handle this case. The new attorney, identified as William Dwyer, didn't immediately return our calls.
Tonight we've got new details on how at least one inmate referred to this corrections officer and on what he told investigators in a police interview.
TODD (voice-over): Clinton correctional officer Gene Palmer begins his legal fight. Palmer faces charges of promoting prison contraband, misconduct and tampering with physical evidence relating to the escape of killers Richard Matt and David Sweat.
Palmer is expected to plead not guilty. According to court documents, Palmer says he didn't intentionally help Matt and Sweat, that Matt provided him with information on crimes committed by other inmates and gave him paintings, which Palmer is now accused of destroying.
In exchange, Palmer said, he gave Richard Matt paint, paint brushes and that now-infamous hamburger meat. In a police interview, Palmer said he gave David Sweat a screwdriver and needle-nosed pliers to work on electrical breakers in the catwalk behind his cell. Palmer says he supervised their work and took the tools back. But he and fellow prison employee Joyce Mitchell could face more trouble.
KEITH WATTERS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The worst-case scenario is that they both get charged with conspiracy to break out of prison, to help these two individuals break out. If these two people, convicts that are on the lam, commit further crimes -- say they murder someone, kidnap someone, rape somebody -- then I think there will be severe punishment for both Ms. Mitchell and him.
TODD: Palmer's now-former attorney says Palmer didn't know that some frozen hamburger meat he carried to at least one of the inmates had tools in it.
ANDREW BROCKWAY, PALMER'S FORMER ATTORNEY: He was conned by Joyce Mitchell. She duped him. Looking back on that, he can't believe that someone would take advantage of him. He knows that he made a mistake and that he shouldn't have done what he did, but I think at the end of the day he's a man of integrity. He admits that he made a mistake, and he's willing to do whatever he can to make it right.
TODD: Responding to the comment that Joyce Mitchell conned Palmer into giving the inmates the hamburger meat, Mitchell's attorney told us it's hard to believe she could dupe an experienced officer, quote, "who Matt referred to as 'his boy'." Palmer's side didn't respond to that.
In an interview with North Country Radio 15 years ago, Gene Palmer described working as a corrections officer as a, quote, "negative environment."
GENE PALMER, CORRECTIONS OFFICER: With the money that they pay you, you'll go bald and you'll have high blood pressure. You'll become an alcoholic. You'll divorce, and then you'll kill yourself.
TODD: Now, one criminal defense attorney told us that may be something Palmer could actually want to use as his defense, citing the stress of the job. The New York state Department of Corrections would not comment on the new charges against Gene Palmer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Wolf, you're also hearing from some experts that this is likely to go beyond just Joyce Mitchell and this corrections officer, Gene Palmer, right?
TODD: That's right. A former warden and a criminal defense attorney both told us they believe there is no way it could have only been Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer allegedly helping these inmates escape. They say the trustees of the prison should be investigated. The trustees are those inmates allowed to roam freely. They've had good behavior, allowed to work with tools, to work with contractors.
And when we asked if the trustees at Clinton are being investigated in this case, neither the prosecutor nor the Department of Corrections would comment.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
They arrest hundreds of fugitives every year. We're talking about U.S. Marshals. They're responsible for protecting federal judges, fetching federal fugitives and operating the witness security program.
Let's discuss what's going on with the director of the U.S. Marshal Service, Stacia Hylton, who's with us right now. Stacia, thanks very much for coming in.
STACIA HYLTON, DIRECTOR, U.S. MARSHAL SERVICE: Thanks for having me, Wolf.
Blitzer: What specifically is the role of the U.S. Marshals in this case, involving these two escaped killers?
HYLTON: We have a long-standing relationship with the New York state troopers. In fact, they serve on our task forces. We have several individuals on our task force. It's long-standing.
They've done an exceptional job in inviting us in right from the beginning, because they're bringing to bear all law enforcement.
BLITZER: So you've dispatched marshals from the U.S. Marshal Service up to upstate New York to help in this search?
HYLTON: That's correct.
BLITZER: What are you hearing? What's going on?
HYLTON: Well, you know, everyone's hard at work, and actually you're seeing that unfold even over these couple weeks. I mean, the superintendent and the troopers, you know, long hours, been working with everyone. They've done a fantastic job.
So what we're really seeing is a result of their investigation. We're watching pieces unfold, and everyone is chasing down leads, both domestically and globally.
BLITZER: It's day 20 already. These guys, these two killers, they're still on the loose. They might be armed right now. This is an extremely dangerous situation.
HYLTON: Well, you know, of course, the nature of their crimes, you know, we saw us put them on our 15 most wanted. Really, we bring visibility and assets. We take someone, really the worst of the worst and put them on our top fifteen, because we really want to bring to bear all those assets. You know, just the very nature of their crimes, this is something that
law enforcement entirely across the board want to get these guys off the street.
BLITZER: You think these two guys are still in the general vicinity -- they're only about 20 miles or so from the Canadian border.
HYLTON: You know, in general in all these cases, there's no set pattern for this. So what you want to do is you want to lock down any perimeter on any of these cases, but you then chase down every lead. In this country, outside this country. And really, there are hundreds of leads coming in in cases like this.
BLITZER: Is it the working assumption these two killers are still together or they've split up?
HYLTON: Well, you know, in general, they'll do whatever works to their advantage. I mean, these are survivalists at these point. And they're going to do what's advantageous to them. They're going to look for opportunities. They're going to seek opportunities. They're going to take advantage of situations.
BLITZER: Stacia Hylton, I want you to stand by. We have much more to discuss. You're bringing us some new information to us. Much more with the director of the U.S. Marshals when we come back.
[17:31:03] BLITZER: It's day 20 in the hunt for the two escaped killers as search teams scour the rugged countryside in upstate New York where clues where found. A prison guard facing serious charges relating to the escape and a second guard now also facing charges.
We're back with the director of the U.S. Marshals Service Stacia Hylton.
Stacia, you believe others, insiders, other prison guards may have been involved as well?
STACIA HYLTON, DIRECTOR, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: You know, I think at this point I don't want to speak to specifics of the investigation. But, you know, generally you're going to go all out on this, you're going to look everywhere and you're going to exhaust every single possibility because each piece will bring new information to the investigation which is critical to all of us.
BLITZER: Because it doesn't look to me as if the stuff that was snuck in, in that frozen hamburger meat, little hacksaws, chisel or whatever, could that get through concrete? Could that get through steel?
HYLTON: Well, you know, what's interesting is when these guys get to the point where they're planning an escape, in any of these cases, you will be unbelievable what they can actually get accomplished with what. You know, so every time you look at any escape situation and you're on site at the point of where the escape took place, sometimes you're amazed at what they can accomplish.
The perseverance of an individual, a hardened criminal trying to get out of an institution, they will take all kinds of risks.
BLITZER: It looks to me, based on what we're hearing, you can correct me if I'm wrong, this is so-called maximum security prison, the Clinton Correctional Facility, in upstate New York, they seem to have run it almost like some sort of frat house or college campus or summer camp, if you will, the way these two convicted killers. They were in this honor block. They could run around. They could eat, they could walk around.
They' basically were doing a lot of stuff that I didn't necessarily think convicted killers would be able to do in a maximum security prison.
HYLTON: Well, you know, I've not been to this prison so I can't really speak to this prison. In general, I will just tell you in the world of corrections it's always hard to find the fine balance between civil liberties and detention. Right? So we have an image from the public of what we expect. I have not seen this prison so I'm not able to comment. Yes.
BLITZER: When you say civil liberties, convicted killers, murderers, who committed these horrendous crimes, they have civil liberties, if you will, in a prison?
HYLTON: We do live in the United States of America. You know, with a heavy democracy --
BLITZER: So even though they're convicted in this -- to life in prison, they're going to have some civil liberties, is that what you're saying?
HYLTON: Yes. All our corrections systems there are civil --
BLITZER: Civil liberties to be able to go out there and fraternize with one of the female prison guards? Is that a civil liberty?
HYLTON: I think in general, again not speaking to this investigation because I don't know what came about in this specific investigation. What I'm really talking about is the environment in which they live in, the access that I have to law libraries, the access that they have to food. They access that they have to --
BLITZER: I understand you've got to feed them, you know, in a humane way.
BLITZER: I don't necessarily think you've got to let them roam around almost freely inside those walls. HYLTON: But the other place takes place in a regulatory system, you
know, correction systems in general have regulatories, have inspections, have protocol that they follow. And you have to remember, we detain as a nation at least 1.5 million prisoners at any time in state and local and federal jails. So while we see this instance and we've got to be concerned about it in our corrections system, you've got to remember how many are detained every single day in a safe and secure way.
BLITZER: I guess the thing that bothers me the most is that convicted murderers are allowed to be in what they call the honor block. Doesn't that bother you?
HYLTON: Well, you know, I think for me, I'd rather wait until I get all the facts out, you know, to comment on that. So I think you can appreciate that. I'm not on that piece. You know, my focus right now is giving the New York state troopers everything they need for the manhunt. You know, for us to bring to bear our fugitive investigator skills, both ground and air assets so we can hunt these guys down. That piece takes -- you know, takes place in a different venue outside the Marshal Service.
BLITZER: You know, it's been -- it's now day 20. It's costing millions and millions of dollars. At one point do they give up?
HYLTON: You know, when we refer to the cost associated with this, is there anything that's too high a cost to get these guys off the street? Right? Public safety does have a price tag. So at the end of the day, you know, we exert all efforts because we've got to apprehend those individuals. I mean, that's really our number one priority.
BLITZER: And the U.S. Marshals Service has a good track record. I know you're working really hard. We hope you find these two guys. Let's say you do find them, what do you do with them? Where do you put them?
[17:35:03] HYLTON: You know, at this point they come back in the court system. There'll be an investigation surrounding the entire escape and then they'll make the right decision. This escape, like it is in every situation in corrections, these individuals get classified so they may be classified differently based on the escape and they'll be handled differently.
BLITZER: Assuming they're found alive, they're not going to be sent back to this Clinton Correctional Facility, right?
HYLTON: I can't speak to what New York will do but --
BLITZER: Would they be technically eligible to go to the super max prison in Colorado that the federal government runs?
HYLTON: You know, it depends on what they'll be charged with at the end of the day. But they will be apprehended. It's a matter of time. And then they'll be charged. If they'll charged federally, then they'll be put in a security, and all of their behavior surrounding their escape will be assessed, they'll be classified and then they'll be secured.
BLITZER: Stacia Hylton is the director of the U.S. Marshals Service, you've been in the U.S. Marshals Service for 35 years.
HYLTON: I have.
BLITZER: Thanks so much for your service.
HYLTON: Thank you, Wolf. I appreciate it.
BLITZER: Good luck. Let us know if you find these two guys.
HYLTON: OK. Great. Looking (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: Thank you very much. Don't leave.
Coming up, amid stepped up efforts to remove Confederate flags across the country, the first two Charleston massacre victims are buried and there's a wake for the pastor of Emanuel AME, the church where he was murdered.
Plus, we have a CNN exclusive. Donald Trump is on the rise among Republican voters in New Hampshire. Our brand new poll results, we're going to show you why. Stay with us.
[17:40:59] BLITZER: Funerals were held today for two of the nine Charleston massacre victims. Ethel Lance was 70 years old and enjoying retirement when she was murdered. Sharonda Coleman Singleton was 45, she was a reverend at Emanuel AME Church, a speech therapist and a high school track coach. A wake is to begin shortly for the church's pastor and state senator, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney.
Meantime, there are stepped up efforts across the south, indeed across the country to remove the Confederate flag from official display.
Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama. She calls the Confederate flag, quote, "a symbol of hate, not heritage."
Congresswoman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. TERRI SEWELL (D), ALABAMA: Absolutely.
BLITZER: You saw your governor, Governor Bentley, decided to remove some of those Confederate flags from official premises in the state of Alabama, your home state of Alabama. He's a Republican. Were you surprised that he decided to do this?
SEWELL: No, not really. Listen, I applaud Governor Bentley for removing the flags even without being prompted. But having said that, I think that, if we are to change racial behavior, we have to change policies. And so I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do meaningful changes like voting rights restoration, like sentencing reform, like -- you know, criminal justice reform. So while I'm very happy that my governor chose to remove from the
grounds the Confederate flag, that's but a symbol. We really need action I think.
BLITZER: In Alabama he had the authority to do that on his own.
BLITZER: He didn't have to wait for state legislature to do it --
SEWELL: And I was very happy he did that. Absolutely.
BLITZER: Which of course is a different situation in South Carolina.
BLITZER: He also said this, it was a pretty eye-opening quote. He said the Confederate battle flag, this is Governor Bentley, is offensive to some people because unfortunately it's like the swastika. Some people have adopted that as part of their hate-filled groups. Swastika, that's a pretty tough comparison.
SEWELL: It is. But, you know, I think he's right. Look, the symbol of the Confederate flag has always been one that was about fighting against slavery or fighting for slavery, I'm sorry. Fighting for slavery and not necessarily trying to abolish it. So it's always been a symbol of white supremacy. And kudos for my governor for saying that. I do hope my governor will work with me to expand Medicaid and other -- other things that I think will help change behavior which is what we ultimately wanted.
BLITZER: You're originally from Selma, Alabama. Right?
SEWELL: I am.
BLITZER: That's your hometown.
SEWELL: It is my hometown.
BLITZER: On the 51st commemoration of the Birmingham Baptist Church bombing, four little girls were brutally killed as part of that bombing, you said this, you said, "When our brothers and sisters of color suffer from some of the same injustices suffered 50 years ago, we cannot ignore that their work has now become our work."
How do you move on beyond the symbolism of the Confederate flag and take some of these other steps? You're going to have to work with Republicans, Democrats, get the country going. What do you need to do?
SEWELL: Well, Wolf, today is actually the second anniversary of the Shelby case. You know, voting rights started in Selma and is actually underlined by the Shelby case. And so I, along with Senator Leahy have introduced a bill to restore the voting rights pre-clearance protections. It's called the Voter Advancement Act. And I really hope that we can galvanize meaningful legislation to change behavior. And we can start by protecting everyone's right to vote.
BLITZER: You're going to go tomorrow, the president, the first lady, the vice president, you're all going to go to the funeral of the Reverend Pinckney. The president is going to be delivering the eulogy. We'll of course have live coverage here on CNN. A really remarkable man. All nine of these people who were massacred in that horrific, horrific attack. What wonderful people as we got -- as we're now getting to know them even more.
What would you like to hear from the president?
SEWELL: Well, I'm sure the president will respectfully mourn those who lost their lives way too short. But I think he'll also make a comparison to the fact that churches -- African-American churches have always been under attack. I mean, it's eerie that we can celebrate or commemorate the four little girls losing their lives in 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham just three years ago and to have this now.
[17:45:10] So I really hope the president will talk about meaningful actions that we can do to change behavior so that we're not always struggling with race relations. I know it's hard. I know it's hard fought. And every generation has to be vigilant in its fight against racism. But I think it starts with the home. We have to not only teach our children to love and not hate, but we must also as elected officials try to produce policies that promote equality.
BLITZER: You think the president has done enough?
SEWELL: I think the president has done a lot and I think that he is truly inspirational when it comes to the fight for equality and justice, and I think that he will deliver a speech like no other.
BLITZER: I'm sure he will deliver a wonderful speech tomorrow at that church.
BLITZER: Representative Terri Sewell, thanks very much for coming in.
SEWELL: Thank you, sir.
BLITZER: Coming up, there's breaking news we're following here in THE SITUATION ROOM. A CNN exclusive, Donald Trump's reputation as a very successful business leader is indeed resonating with Republican voters in New Hampshire.
Stand by, our brand new poll numbers are about to be released.
[17:50:57] BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news we're following. Look at this, Donald Trump is clearly on the rise among Republicans in New Hampshire. Our brand-new exclusive CNN/WMUR poll shows the billionaire is second behind Jeb Bush in that first in the nation primary state. Look at this, Bush at 16 percent, Trump has 11 percent, the other
candidates are all in single digits. Senator Rand Paul, he's in third place with 9 percent.
Let's dig deeper with our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
Dana, explain what's behind these high numbers, very impressive numbers for Donald Trump in New Hampshire.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the biggest factor is the economy and the fact that the vast majority compared to other Republican candidates, nobody gets a full majority, but compared to others, think that Donald Trump would do better on the economy, 29 percent say so. Jeb Bush is pretty far behind at 13 percent. And then it goes down from that.
Now he's a billionaire so it's not that farfetched for people to think a well-known billionaire who has amassed that much money for himself could do well for the country. The other thing that you cannot discount is the fact that he as reality TV star. Based on the show, which has been on for over a decade, "The Apprentice," on his prowess of handling business and the economy. So there's no question that that is a big factor in this.
BLITZER: Yes, James Carville once said, it's the economy, stupid back in '92. If it's the economy, stupid, that should help Donald Trump. But not everyone, though, as you know, you look at the closer numbers in this poll, look at Donald Trump favorably. Take a look at this. Which Republican candidate do you personally rule out among Republicans as a nominee in 2016? 23 percent said Trump, 10 percent said Bush, and 10 percent Christie, Cruz 4 percent, all the others barely rolled up. But Trump is pretty high there.
BASH: Very high. I mean, you have almost a quarter of the Republican electorate, at least respondents in New Hampshire, saying anybody but Donald Trump. That is not a good sign. And it really does tell you a lot about the feeling out there about Donald Trump. That a lot of people think he's interesting, a lot of people think that -- you know, that they -- that he would do well obviously in the economy and other issues like leadership.
But there are also a lot of people who say, are you kidding me? No way. And much more so for him than any of the other candidates. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, are way below him on that 10 percent only say no way to those.
BLITZER: A quarter, that's a high hurdle for him to get over.
BLITZER: We also asked in this new CNN/WMUR poll, which Republican candidates can best handle immigration? Rick Perry, the governor -- former governor of Texas, 16 percent. But look at this, Bush and Trump are both at 13 percent, Rubio 11 percent. That's pretty impressive right there. BASH: It is. Well, let's just kind of keep that poll up and talk
about it for a second. 16 percent for Rick Perry, let's give him his due. That's -- he leads the pack when it comes to immigration. Probably because of the fact that he has been governor of Texas until January and he dealt with a lot of immigration problems. However, the numbers for Bush and Trump, the fact that they are tied for 13 percent, is so telling, Wolf, about the Republican Party.
Trump, who now famously or infamously talked about, you know, Mexican rapists coming illegally across the border, wanting to build a fence with Mexico, him having one very serious slice of the Republican Party, and Jeb Bush, who has a Mexican American wife, and thinks very differently about how you should reform the immigration process. That just shows the very deep divide within the Republican Party that both can get an equal number of supporters on immigration. And they're so, so different in how to deal with the problem.
BLITZER: All right. Dana, don't go too far away because in the next hour we have a brand-new exclusive CNN/WMUR poll on the Democratic race for the White House. And our viewers will be interested in that as well.
Dana, thanks very much.
A quick note. Donald Trump will be Jake Tapper's guest this Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION." You can tune in and see the interview, 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
Coming up, the U.S. Supreme Court may have saved Obamacare. But Republican presidential candidates, they're vowing to get rid of the health care law. I'll talk with one of those Republican presidential candidates, the 2016 hopeful Rick Santorum. He's standing by live.
[17:55:10] And a guard is now the second prison employee charged in the escape of two convicted killers. Did he make their breakout easier?
BLITZER: Happening now, Obamacare survives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Supporters of the president's health care law are celebrating after a huge win at the U.S. Supreme Court. Tonight, many Republicans are refusing to accept defeat. I'll speak with the Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.