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Sessions "Amazed" Judge "On An Island" Can Block Travel Ban; Judge Attacked By Trump To Hear "Dreamer" Deportation Case; Trump Wants $1.4 Billion For Border Wall In Spending Bill; Boston Officers Make Boy's Wish Come True. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 21, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: Good. Thank you. You bet.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Dave Brat, I appreciate you being on the show. The motivations will be clear when we actually see the bill. Thank you for making the case on "New Day."

BRAT: You got it. You'll see. Good. Thank you. You bet.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. We look forward to that.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions making comments about a federal judge and angering Hawaii in the process. The reaction to his controversial comments next.


CAMEROTA: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is under fire this morning for some controversial comments about a federal judge ruling on the president's travel ban.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: We are confident that the President will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So, this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.


CAMEROTA: Well, Hawaii did not take kindly to that. In response, Hawaii's Senator Mazie Hirono tweeted, "Hey, Jeff Sessions, this island in the Pacific has been the 50th state for going on 58 years. And we won't succumb to your dog whistle politics."

[07:35:10] Joining us now is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. He's on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator, thanks for being here in studio.

SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Great to be with you. Thanks. CAMEROTA: So, what do you think about the attorney general's comments?

BLUMENTHAL: Really bizarre. Friendly reminder to Jeff Sessions as attorney general, number one, Hawaii, that island in the Pacific is our 50th state. Number two, judges routinely issue orders that apply nationwide. So there is nothing amazing about that fact except that our constitutional system really is amazing. That a judge can uphold individual rights against a president who issues an unconstitutional order is amazing. It's the marvel of the world.

And so, I think Attorney General Sessions perhaps needs to be reminded a little bit that this amazing fact is very much a part of our constitution.

CAMEROTA: Well, the Attorney General was being flipped on this radio show, I assume. And he knows that -- he says he knows that Hawaii is a state and, in fact, this is the official statement from the Justice Department. Let me read it for you. Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific. A beautiful one. Where the Attorney General's granddaughter was born. The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the President's lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe." That's their real beef is that they think that the judges are activists.

BLUMENTHAL: And they're wrong because the order is, in fact, unconstitutional. It imposes a religious preference. Donald Trump promised a Muslim ban. That's what they --

CAMEROTA: Hold on a second. I mean, there isn't anything in there that says you can't come in if you're not Muslim. They wrote it specifically to keep that out. Yes, these are Muslim majority countries but there are a lot of other Muslim majority countries that are not on this ban. This is their argument.

BLUMENTHAL: And their argument is entitled to be heard. It has been heard. It's been rejected by three courts. In fact, two district court judges and a court of appeals. They could expedite their appeal if they want to the United States Supreme Court. And it would have to hear those arguments which in my view are, in all due respect, mistaken because the affect of the ban is on Muslim majority nations and initially imposed a preference in favor of one religion against another. That is a violation --

CAMEROTA: Right. They fixed that in the second go around.

BLUMENTHAL: They fixed it but the effect was still very much the same. The second order was less objectionable than the first. And they are entitled to then gain (ph) court as well. That's what they should be seeking in. Here's the important point, Alisyn. This kind of talk about the federal courts is fundamentally disrespectful to the independence of our judiciary.

The Attorney General of the United States should be demonstrating respect for the courts, not talking about district court judge in this way. And the President did the same when he referred to the so-called judge.

CAMEROTA: Well, look, this isn't obviously the first time as you are pointing out that we've heard Mr. Trump or his associates speak about federal -- I mean, about judges in sort of this way. We all remember the case of Judge Curiel who was presiding over Trump University and that case. And -- then candidate Trump said he can't be impartial because he is Mexican. Judge Curiel, of course, is American. He was born in Indiana.

But do you think -- I mean, does this really have a harmful effect? I know it is not pleasant. I know you think it is disrespectful. But does it really harm this branch of government?

BLUMENTHAL: That is a very important question and it goes to the core principles of our democracy. Judges don't have police forces. They rely on their credibility and trust and respect for the enforceability of their orders. People obey the courts because other branches of government demonstrate respect for them.

And that's why this kind of talk blaming, for example, the Court of Appeals for any potential terrorism act and they result from striking down the order or talking about Judge Curiel's Mexican heritage or the so-called judge reference. All undermine respect for the judiciary. And the checks and balances of our system, the checks against the tyrannical and arbitrary ruler and a president depend on the respect to the court.

CAMEROTA: I want to quickly talk about the wall that President Trump has promised, the border wall with Mexico. He's now asking Congress for $1.4 billion in the budget to pay for the wall. Is that going to happen?

BLUMENTHAL: In my view, no because it is a waste of money. His own secretary of Homeland Security has rejected the idea of a wall from sea to shining sea, as he has put it.

[07:40:09] And that money could be better spent on other forms of border security or on other forms of national security that are equally important to our national defense including, for example, education, our diplomatic corps, all kinds of national needs for infrastructure that are important rather than a wall which will be ineffective.

CAMEROTA: And geographically (ph), and this is not rhetorical. I'm truly curious. What happened to Mexico paying for the wall?

BLUMENTHAL: That is a question that Donald Trump should come on the show to answer. And I doubt that you'll see an answer anytime soon.

CAMEROTA: He is invited every day. Senator Blumenthal, thank you so much for being here.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We should let you know that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will be live on "At This Hour" with Kate Bolduan. That is 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Stay tuned for that. Chris.

CUOMO: Good for Kate.

All right. So it's called ground zero for climate change in America. But do people living there accept the science? Next.


CUOMO: Severe weather ready to strike the south. CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis has your forecast. What do you see?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We are looking at severe storm just kind of rocking the area all the way from Amarillo towards Oklahoma City. As an area of low pressure and a lingering frontal system kind of triggers the storms. But not just the hail and high winds, but lightning.

[07:45:14] As a matter of fact, just in the past 15 minutes or so, we saw report coming in up El Reno, Oklahoma or just at the west of Oklahoma City, there was an oil tanker storage facility that was on fire. And it's kind of presumed that perhaps was started by lightning. There was lightning in the area.

If you're watching us from New York City to Philadelphia, some rain showers there. Keep the rain in the forecast. Over the next three to five days. But also across the Red River Valley and extending into the Ark-La-Tex region, quickly (ph) between 2 and 4 inches of rainfall. We could see an isolated thunderstorm as we had towards the weekend. Shifts a little bit further towards the east as we go towards Saturday and Sunday. So, look for some storms right now in Dallas also into Little Rock. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK. Good warnings Karen. Thank you very much for all that. Well, climate change is a hard sell in some parts of Louisiana. Despite stark evidence of changing sea levels along the coastline.

CNN's Ed Lavandera traveled to the spot where experts say the effects of climate change are most visible in the U.S. And Ed joins us live now from Houma, Louisiana. Tell us what you found, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, you know, that divide between climate change advocates and skeptics is really deep here in Louisiana. It's really an interesting place to examine this issue.

Perhaps in no other place in the country has the effects of climate change are so visible. And then you find so many skeptics looking out in that ocean.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): For more than 30 years, Jeff Poe has guided fishing trips, chasing speckled trout and other fish in the waters near Lake Charles, Louisiana.

(on camera): You consider yourself an environmentalist? JEFF POE, FISHING GUIDE: Yes, for sure. For sure, without a doubt. That's just my thing with the climate change. I just don't know that there is anything we can do about it.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): You're traveling the waters because according to a study from Yale University, this part of southern Louisiana has one of the highest concentrations of climate change deniers and skeptics in the country.

POE: Speckled trout. I'm not a denier. I won't put it that way. But I'm, you know, I'm skeptical as to, you know, how much control we have over.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Climate change experts say the skeptics are denying what's unfolding before their very eyes. And around here, climate change is a hard sell as we quickly discovered after sitting down with Cecil Clark and Leo Dotson.

LEO DOTSON, CAMERON RESIDENT: So, I just don't think climate is real.

LAVANDERA: Is there anything or sign I just can say to you to change your mind or show you any kind of evidence that would change your mind?

DOTSON: If he was 500 years old and he told me it changed, I would probably believe it. But in my lifetime, I didn't see any change.

LAVANDERA: You have to hear from a 500-year-old scientist?

DOTSON: Right.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): One scientist described the Louisiana coastline to us as the ground zero of climate change in the United States. Where the coastline is disappearing in large part according to scientific studies because of rising sea levels.

A new Tulane University study calculates sea levels along the Louisiana coast are rising 10 to 13 millimeters per year. It may not sound significant, but scientists say it is more than enough to cause significant damage in the next 50 years.

Pilot Charlie Hammonds has seen the Gulf of Mexico March north since he was a teenager. That's how long he's been flying over this vast Louisiana marshland. Hammonds says the gulf waters spread north like a cancer and that much of the water you see below used to be land.

CHARLIE HAMMONDS, PILOT: It's probably, when I was a young pilot, I'd say it had at least three or four times what you see here.

LAVANDERA: You literally used to land next to islands.

HAMMONDS: Yes. Well, way out in the bay now. I'm talking about out in that bay, all right, and they are gone.

LAVANDERA: Those islands are gone.

HAMMONDS: They're gone, yes, that's right.

LAVANDERA: You couldn't land next to it today if you tried?

HAMMONDS: No. It's open water. Open water.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Just look at how the Louisiana coastline has changed. NASA recorded the satellite images. And from the mid-1980s to now, you can see a subtle yet steady change around the town of Houma, capturing how a significant amount of coastline is disappearing. Charlie Hammonds says the Gulf of Mexico water keeps swallowing up water.

HAMMONDS: Like a cancer. I mean, it just keeps moving. I watch it every year. It keeps moving farther and farther and farther every year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And eventually everyone is going to have to retreat?


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Along these desolate roads of the Louisiana bay, one of the first signs that things are quite right is when you come across Cyprus and Oak trees like this simply withering away.

[07:50:08] These trees depend on fresh water. But so much saltwater has pushed north and risen up from the Gulf of Mexico that these trees are simply withering away. Leaves and limbs have fallen off. Eventually these trees will simply crumble into the marsh. Spots like this around here are often called a ghost forest.

After all this, you'd think Charlie Hammonds and others would be on the climate change bandwagon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of people out there who believe that climate change and sea-level rising is contributing to what you're seeing. But you don't buy that.

HAMMONDS: Well, I don't buy that.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Hammonds and many others minimize the impact of climate change, and say other factors are in play. Like the impact on the Mississippi River. They say marsh land is naturally sinking that something called subsidence, and oil companies have carved canals through the marsh here, allowing salt water to creep north. But for environmental activists like Jonathan Foret, the skepticism is bewildering.

JONATHAN FORET, SOUTH LOUISIANA WETLANDS DISCOVERY CENTER: I don't get how you can look at scientific data and see this very, very plainly and then say that it's not happening. The climate change is very climate change.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In front of Chris Brunet's house in Isle de Jean Charles, there stands one dying tree. A clue that underground not all is right. From weathered scrapbook photograph, he can see how the landscape and trees have disappeared. For generations, Isle de Jean Charles has been a Native American community where 350 people once now live. Now, it's down to about 70. They fled north to escape the encroaching gulf waters. The island once covered 2,200 acres. It's now dwindled to about 350 acres.

(on camera): Do you think this is just part of the kind of natural evolution of the planet, or do you think man made causes have created such a rapid change here in Louisiana coast?

CHRIS BRUNET, ISLE DE JEAN CHARLES RESIDENT: I believe that the Gulf of Mexico is such a powerful force that it wants to make its way north. You know, only one thing that's going on there.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Skepticism around here thrives even as Chris Brunet and others prepare to be the next to pack up and move north.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Chris, despite the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence about the effects of climate change, that skepticism is rooted deeply here in the communities along the Louisiana coastline. A reminder that those advocates have a great deal of work to do to change minds if that's what they want to do. Chris?

CUOMO: You see the people there who are living it. You see it in Washington, D.C. with the people who are supposed to be figuring out how to change it. Ed Lavandera, beautiful reporting. Thank you very much.

So the President couldn't get a radical change to your health care system done in 92 days. Now he says he can get it done in eight. A reality check, next.


[07:56:39] CAMEROTA: A young boy who suffers from a rare form of brain cancer gets his wish. It's all thanks to a bunch of police officers in Boston. CNN's Jason Carroll has this week's beyond the call of duty.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This past January, the Suau family was out on vacation. One of their boys, Devin, a precocious six-year-old fell off his snow board and hit his head. At worst the family thought he might have a concussion. Then came a devastating diagnosis.

CHRISTINE SUAU, DEVIN'S MOM: Life with four boys was crazy before this anyway and now it's unimaginable.

CARROLL (voice-over): Devin was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric cancer and there is no cure. SUAU: I think every moment has been challenging because we're constantly reminded of how quickly our life changed.

CARROLL (voice-over): Devin dreamed of, perhaps, one day becoming a police officer like his uncle. But now the doctors have given him eight months to two years to live. His outlook is measured week by week, day by day.

JUSTIN CREMMINS, BOSTON POLICE OFFICER: The most challenging was just find to wrap your head around the seriousness of the disease.

CARROLL (voice-over): Enter, Devin's local police department who stood by his family.

WILLIAM GROSS, SUPERINTENDENT-IN-CHIEF, BOSTON: When we hear of any fight of any kid facing a challenge of a debilitating disease, we step forward. You have to take care of the future and you have to show parents that are going through this that they're not alone.

CARROLL (voice-over): The Boston P.D. made Devin an honorary commissioner, framing him police made him chief. He's relishing his new roles and him to offer law enforcement advice.

DEVIN SUAU, HONORARY CHIEF: Stay safe. And be careful to not get eaten by a bear.

CARROLL (voice-over): The Boston P.D. has stepped in before to help make a day a little easier for a child suffering from brain cancer. The department made four-year-old, Declan Higgins, an honorary police officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is also moving to me is to see the support coming from this department.

GROSS: It's something we have done for years and years and years as a village as a whole. We have to care of everyone in the village.

CARROLL: As for Devin, despite the odds, his family is hoping he will be the first to beat the disease. And if plan, what they'll plan when what they call the nasty rock in his brain is gone.

SUAU: I (INAUDIBLE), I'm going to eat ice cream every single day. Ice cream.

CARROLL: Devin did serve and eat ice cream the day we saw him and days later, go to Rome where he was blessed by the pope.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Boston.

CAMEROTA: OK, that's adorable.

CUOMO: What experience as a young kid, but he'll remember. And if the time he has here is time well spent.

CAMEROTA: I know. We love featuring those things that the police officers do obviously above and beyond what they do everyday. But that sounds like his little face, be careful not to be eaten by a bear.

CUOMO: That good advice.

CAMEROTA: It is. Then argue with that. All right. We are following a lot of news for you on this Friday, including the latest on GOP's new plan for health care. Can he really get it done next week? Let's get after.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The plan gets better and better. This will be great health care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it passes they're in trouble. If it doesn't pass they're in trouble and if they pull it they're in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of his ticking, a government shutdown is (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: We want to keep the government open. Don't you agree?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Trump administration is securing the release of an Egyptian American aide worker.

TRUMP: In case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President al-Sisi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Days before the presidential election, a terror attack rocks Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The attacker was a French --