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Report: 7 U.S. Sailors Found Dead After Sea Collision; New Ad Uses Scalise Shooting Against Democrats in Georgia Race; Dems To Block Senate Business Over Health Bill Secrecy. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 19, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] JOHN KIRBY, RETIRED ADMIRAL: I think rightly the navy is focused on the families right now and the crew, that's important, but obviously we want to know how -- it's rare and shouldn't happen.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I've been on a bridge in a ship, even in the wee hours of the morning, this was 2:30, you still have people on watch.

KIRBY: Sure.

BALDWIN: If you have a shipping container coming by, how -- they have to see it.

KIRBY: Again, I don't want to prejudge the investigation, they will do a timeline almost minute by minute of when the first two ships reached contact on radar and how it ended in a collision. Look -- I wouldn't -- you know, try to speculate. Things are different at night, yes, you have a sophisticated radar, but maybe it wasn't operating properly. Yes, you have lookouts, maybe additional assets when you are steaming in a heavily trafficked area at night-- but the eyeball can trick you at night when the lights of the other ship may not be working. And you can't control the behavior of the people that are running the other ship. I think it's too early to try to guess exactly what happened. They navy investigations are extremely thorough. They will be very definitive and will be able to leave without doubt not only what happened but how it happened, and what decisions were made or not made that led to it.

BALDWIN: We have lost seven young sailors. There has not since we learned their fate, admiral, we have not heard a people from the White House, there has not been a tweet from the President. Why is that?

KIRBY: I wish I knew the answer. I don't, I am disappointed by that. This is the commander in chief. Sailors, like all troops, look to their leadership both in uniform and in elected leadership for guidance, for support. I'm disappointed by that. If you look at the ages here, the average age of these sailors is about 25, which is roughly the average age of sailors on any given U.S. Navy ship. They're very representative of the kind of youth and talent and skill and energy that we have in the navy. If you look at, you know, look at their faces, you can tell they represent all of America as well. It's a very special group, a very special service, and I am sorry to see they're not getting stapes of support and condolences from the leadership. BALDWIN: I've eaten many meals with sailors like them, and what

struck me was their commitment and sense of duty, and my thoughts and prayers to the navy community, and to the families. They are too I don't think.

KIRBY: I guarantee you that in coming days, you will hear story after story after story of incredible skill and bravery, as they saved that ship, as the 7thth fleet commander said, that gash was near the keel. The water coming in had to be almost overwhelming, yet they kept her afloat and got her back to port. Unbelievable bravery.

BALDWIN: We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: A high-stakes special election in Georgia is turning ugly. Tomorrow voters head to the poll tomorrow to decide between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. It has become the most expensive U.S. house race ever. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution poll, Ossoff is up by 7 points and with the runoff a day away a new ad is hitting the airwaves being condemned by both sides. Put out an outside political action group blames Ossoff and the Democrats for the shooting of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise.

[15:40:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER, POLITICAL AD: The unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans. When will it stop? It won't if Jon Ossoff wins on Tuesday --


BALDWIN: Gentlemen, welcome to both of you. Brian Robinson, former chief of staff for communications under Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, and Keith Boykin, CNN political commentator and former Clinton White House aide. Brian, I want to begin with you, you know this district well. You call these types of ads counterproductive. What impact do you think the ad we just played, what will that have on voters going to the polls 7:00 a.m. tomorrow?

BRIAN ROBINSON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR COMMUNICATIONS, GEORGIA GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL: I think it's counterproductive. We are in this week where the nation wants to see some unity, they want to see at least just a break some invite more toxic rhetoric. That's what this is. But what does it mean tomorrow? It means almost nothing. This is a cable buy, a very limited buy, it won't penetrate into the district. After $50 million has been spent, I can tell you I live in the state's district. My door has been knocked on over and over again.

BALDWIN: I'm sure it has.

ROBINSON: One ad on cable isn't going to change anybody's minds going into the ballot box tomorrow.

BALDWIN: So, you say that's correct let me read from the Republican chairman Georgia's 11th district from Brad Carver saying this will ultimately help Republicans.

This quote -- "I'll tell you what. I think the shooting is going to win this election for us. Because moderates and independents in this district are tired of left-wing extremism. He gets that there's extremists on both sides, but we are not getting them."

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE AIDE: It seems cynical that some people are attempting to use the tragedy of the Steve Scalise shooting for political gain to win an election. We see not only that, but this is also coming from a party this had no problem endorsing and endorsing Gianforte who admitted he assaulted a reporter. The idea there's some rhetoric or violence doesn't make sense. Donald Trump was leading a lot of anti-Democratic rhetoric in the campaign last year, and he's being sued for that right now. So, I think it's important to tone down the rhetoric. That has to happened from both sides, but the President is primarily responsible and he needs to help lead that effort, and he hasn't done that.

BALDWIN: And in the case of Montana, Gianforte won after that assault, later for which he apologized for.

In this radio ad in order to convince the Georgia 6th district black Democratic voters to switch to the Republican party. Listen.


ANNOUNCER, POLITICAL AD: Police brutality rampant when the so-called black committeeman came around election time, we all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket, sell our souls for a Christmas Turkey.


BALDWIN: The ad doesn't mention that President Obama is quoting a barber about the political system in Chicago about 1983. The organization behind the ad says "those are his words and we want to use his words," but Keith, voters may not know that.

BOYKIN: Yes, this is a disgusting desperate ad. It shows the Republicans, at least the people responsible for this ad, are really afraid of losing the Georgia's 6th district. But this is a racially coded ad. What they're doing is using this to not get people to vote for Karen Handel, but for voters not to vote. This is designed for voter suppression. There's nowhere in the add go vote -- they're saying don't vote at all, black people. We don't want you to show up. It's a district that's 13 percent African American and the polls are so close if you have a tiny shift in the black turnout, that could be a determinative factor. I think it's cynical politics to try to discourage African Americans from voting. We should be encouraging people to vote.

BALDWIN: So, Keith says it's suppression. Brian, how do you see it?

ROBINSON: I see it as largely irrelevant. One, the black vote in this district is relatively small for Georgia. And two, many of those Democrats already voted in early voting. Three, what's most important here is Karen Handel has condemned these ads. She's not associated herself with them, and the one shown earlier, she suggested it come down, and when asked this morning about a reporter in Dekalb county, she said don't ask me about the politics of the Steve Scalise shooting. It's inappropriate.

[15:45:00] This is a humanitarian issue, a life or death issue, this isn't about politics. If anything, these ads have allowed her to look above the fray, and look statesman like in her responses saying, that's not me. I'm here to talk about the issues that are important to the 6th district.

BALDWIN: All right. We'll see how it goes. Big deal for Georgia and this country. Gentlemen, thank you both so much.

Coming up next, Democrats are threatening to shut down the Senate tonight over plans to cut Obamacare, and details on the debate over healthcare that is taking place in secret.


BALDWIN: The U.S. Senate will be back in session in a couple minutes, but by tonight Democrats plan to bring business in the U.S. Senate to a halt. This dramatic shutdown is aimed at pressuring Republicans to open up the discussions on the health care bill. Democrats are frustrated, the Republicans are apparently crafting this bill behind closed doors, the whole thing that is shrouded in secrecy, so Phil Mattingly, we have the clock ticking on this self-imposed Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell deadline, but as far as tonight, what is are the Democrats planning to do?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Whatever they can, I think when it comes to the U.S. Senate, when it comes to the minority party in the Senate that is almost entirely procedural.

[15:50:00] Nothing can move forward in the Senate if you don't have all 100 senators agree. Usually this is not a big deal at all. Tonight, the Democrats will try to halt debate, try to shutdown committee hearings. They are going to try kick the house version of the health care bill directly to committee, something that Mitch McConnell is planning to avoid. They're going to be overly successful in anything on something like that, but Brooke, the real key is this is strategic.

They're trying to draw attention to this process, draw attention to this health care bill that here in the capitol and as bad as the process might look outside, as angry as Democrats might be about the process, this is intentional by Senate Republicans. They understand how difficult the dynamics are both on the policy and on the politics of this. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a clear calculation that doing this behind closed doors, giving members the space to try to negotiate these issues, try to reach compromises was the best way to do things no matter what attacks they're going to get. Brooke, those attacks are coming fierce and fast, because before the July recess, that is still the deadline, sources tell me, Mitch McConnell wants a vote before then. They are moving forward. Democrats are doing whatever they can to stand in the way. BALDWIN: Storm clouds over Washington. I hope you brought an

umbrella. We just showed you the Capitol. You can barely make it out. Stay dry, my friend, and thanks very much and keep covering the tick-tick of the medical bill.

Rhode Island's teacher of the year making headlines for this photo, brought a fan to the Oval Office. He joins me live to share details of his White House visit and his message for LGBTQ Rights.

But first, a look at a growing number of the so-called micro- nations. This is just an hour outside Reno, Nevada.



PRESIDENT OF MOLOSSIA: Welcome to Molossia.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you as well. Am I on U.S. soil right now?

PRESIDENT OF MOLOSSIA: You are in Molossia right now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You probably haven't heard of the Republic of Molossia. That's because it's not on the map. It's an hour's drive outside the city of Reno, Nevada, a city that pulls in 4.7 million visitors a year. Molossia is a micro-nation and it's gaining a following of its own.

PRESIDENT OF MOLOSSIA: I am his excellency the president, most Americans are comfortable with Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OF MOLOSSIA: Micro-nation is basically a tiny, self-pro claimed nation, usually not recognized by any other country.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: His excellency says he spent $10,000 to build this nation right in his own backyard.

PRESIDENT OF MOLOSSIA: This is the geographical center of country. From here you can also see the northeast corner of our nation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: During my tour of Molossia, I was shown the country's bank, general store and space program. These are all other micro-nations.

PRESIDENT OF MOLOSSIA: There are hundreds of micro-nations out there. If you exist and you say you have a country, cool.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I know what you're thinking.

PRESIDENT OF MOLOSSIA: Most people are in on the joke. It's not a joke, though. We are serious about having our own country.


PRESIDENT OF MOLOSSIA: When I use it as a joke, I don't mean it's a joke.




BALDWIN: Rhode Island's teacher of the year has become quite the internet sensation thanks to his photo with President Trump and the first lady in the oval office back in April. Niko is seen standing next to the President with a pen, the fan. The openly gay teacher is definitely turning the internet abuzz. Joining me now, Nikos Giannopolous joining me now. Big deal being teacher of the year. Thank you for joining us, Niko.


BALDWIN: How was it being in the Oval Office, meeting with the President and first lady? How were they?

GIANNOPOLOUS: I mean, they were polite. You know, it was a very brief photo shoot so it was kind of in and out so I didn't get a lot of time to interact with them, but they were both very polite. It was a really, really incredible moment, though, to be an openly gay man in the White House and be able to express myself openly and honestly. That meant so much to me.

BALDWIN: Tell me about the fan.

GIANNOPOLOUS: So the fan, it came from Venice, actually. It was a souvenir that my husband brought back from a trip to Venice, and, you know, he left it around the house for --