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Stunning Upset as First-Time Candidate Trounces Crowley in New York; Judge Orders Family Reunifications, End to Most Separations at Border. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 27, 2018 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:10] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, June 27, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me. John Avlon here, as well. And we do have breaking news this morning.

Overnight, oh, my. A genuine political shocker. Democrats, call your office. A stunning primary upset of one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington. Congressman Joe Crowley, the fourth ranking House Democrat and, most importantly, once seen as a possible House speaker should the Democrats take over, he was beaten and beaten badly in his New York City district.

The upset winner, first-time candidate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just 28 years old, supported by the Democratic Socialists of America. She ran far, far to the left of this race. So what does that tell us about where the energy is in the Democratic Party? What does it mean about the party's chances in November?

This is one of those rare moments that causes a party to pause, look inward, figure out what it is and where it's going.

There were other big results overnight. Mitt Romney picked up the Republican nomination in Utah. And other Republicans that the president backed also prevailed.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking overnight, a federal judge in California issuing a nationwide injunction to stop the Trump administration from separating families at the border. The judge also ordering families be reunited within 30 days. If a child, though, under the age of 5 was separated, that reunification must happen within two weeks.

Keep in mind here, in the past week, just six children of the more than 2,000 who had been separated have been reunited with their parents, according to the latest numbers from the government.

And in just a few hours, FBI agent Peter Strzok will voluntarily appear before the House Judiciary Committee. That is happening in a closed-door meeting. It's the first time lawmakers will hear from him after those text messages will reveal he didn't want Donald Trump in the White House. A lot to cover this morning. Let's begin our coverage on the election

center with CNN's political director, David Chalian.

David, good morning.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It really was an earthquake inside the Democratic Party as results were coming in in that 14th Congressional District in New York.

Of course, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the big winner, the surprise winner, the insurgent from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, takes down the No. 4 guy in the House Democratic leadership, Joe Crowley and doesn't just do it by a thin margin. Look at this. It is 15 points here, 57 percent to 42 percent. This was a smashing victory for this young upstart woman, who is now poised to become the next congresswoman from this overwhelmingly Democratic district.

This is stunning and for many reasons. Because it is a generational shift in the party. It is ideological shift in the party. And of course, it has to do with race and gender and the different makeup of today's Democratic base.

If you are sort of part of the old guard of the Democratic establishment, you look at these results, and you are a little bit worried about your future inside the party.

Some other results last night to tick through. Donald Trump had a very good night. His guy in South Carolina, Henry McMaster, the governor there, he pulls through that runoff. Remember, the president was down there just a couple days ago, Vice President Pence over the weekend. McMaster was one of Trump's earliest supporters in this key state of South Carolina. He heads to the general election.

Back here in New York, on Staten Island, Dan Donovan, the incumbent Republican, easily defeats Michael Grimm, the former congressman. Some rules in politics seem to still apply. An ex-convict. This is our second ex-con running in a Republican primary this year. He doesn't advance to the general election.

And of course, another note from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP, has a pretty substantial 10-point victory in a crowded field to become the Democratic nominee for governor in Maryland. Bernie Sanders went in and supported him. He was a Sanders supporter in the 2016 race. This is another notch of victory for that Sanders progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

And finally, Mitt Romney, we all remember the 2012 Republican nominee. He looks like he's heading back to Washington, this time in the United States Senate from Utah. He convincingly beat Mike Kennedy, his Republican opponent, in that primary there last night.

BERMAN: All right. David Chalian, you are going to walk over here and join us at the table. In the meantime, let's also bring in CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson. And Nia, to you, this race in New York, this is a race that ended up

being squarely about gender, squarely about race, squarely about generation, and squarely about the future of the Democratic Party. As David said, I think Democratic leaders have to be waking up this morning saying, "Oh, boy, we've got to reassess."

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, this means a lot for those folks who think in November, if the Democrats take over the House, that Nancy Pelosi should once again assume the gavel. They're the top sort of leadership of the House Democrats. They are older. Right? They're in their 70s. Even Stenny Hoyer is going on 80. At some point, he was someone, as well, who was thought to be next in line. Obviously, Crowley, as well. So they've got to really rethink this.

They've got a restless number of younger Democrats. And Ocasio-Cortez will be another one of those restless Democrats. Some of whom had actually left Congress, because they didn't see a pathway forward into leadership. So they left, and they've assumed offices in states across the country.

And so you've got to figure, if you are Nancy Pelosi, you are waking up worried about your future, worried if you can get the real support that you need to be speaker.

I think one thing, too, this also highlights the fault lines along race. Right? That Nancy Pelosi didn't necessarily make any better when she came out against Maxine Waters. The CBC basically backed Maxine Waters in some of the statements that she said, and Nancy Pelosi came out sort of on the other side of that.

[06:05:02] So this is a real wakeup call for Democrats. It is, I think, a key also kind of assessment of 2020 and the chances of people who want to run there.

It's also, I think, an interesting critique of Bernie Sanders. Right? A lot of these people who won were Bernie Sanders acolytes. Ocasio- Cortez, obviously, worked for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Ben Jealous, as well. But is Bernie Sanders sort of the vector of Bernie Sanders-ism. Can you be Bernie Sanders, who's older, who's white male, also sort of bear the mantle of the kind of movement you created?

HILL: It also brings up an interesting point in all of that, David, in that these are signs that have been there. And these were certainly signs that were there in 2016. The hindsight there has been 20/20 plus. But as we're looking at this, it just brings up the point that Democrats seem to be continually ignoring these signs that the party and the people who are coming out to vote, that's changing.

CHALIAN: Yes. I would be surprised if they continue to ignore it at the level they were after seeing the results of last night.

HILL: One would hope.

CHALIAN: But I do think we've seen over the -- I would say the last 10 to 12 years, the Republican Party go through a real battle between its grassroots insurgents, its establishment wing, some purity tests being applied. And we've seen this time and again.

The Democratic Party seems to be going through a process not terribly dissimilar from what the Republicans have spent the last 12 years going through. There is an insurgent wing of the party that is -- it's got the energy. It's where the fuel and the fire is inside the party. And I think that, if you are a long-time establishment leader inside the party, you ignore it at your peril.

JOHN AVLON: CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

AVLON: Yes, but let's not forget -- I mean, look, yes, the parties are becoming more polarized. This is more evidence of that. The energy is on the left in the Democratic Party.

We have seen the Tea Party take over the Republicans a long time ago. This is the Occupy generation that really rallied around Bernie Sanders' campaign. And this campaign was smart. Yes, she is a Democratic socialist.

But she really did, in her viral campaign ad, play the idea of working-class, implicitly dissing Joe Crowley for being establishment and out of touch, talking about income equality and really the authenticity of her experience as it relates to this district, which is Queens, Bronx, majority, minority. Crowley no centrist, per se. He's a very liberal guy, but not a good fit for the district, and he did not see this coming. Outraced her 10 to 1 and still go --

BERMAN: I don't think anyone saw it coming, including, I think, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, based on her reaction last night. Let's just watch that reaction last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's right here. She's looking at herself on television right now. How are you feeling? Can you put it into words?

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL NOMINEE: No. I cannot put this into words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a grassroots campaign. Can you believe the numbers that you're seeing right now?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I cannot believe these numbers right now. But I do know that every single person here has worked their butt off to change the future. That's what I know. That's what I know. And that this victory belongs to every single grassroots organizer, every working parent, every mom, every member of the LGBTQ community. Every single person is responsible for this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So Nia, I think those of us who have been watching this race in New York noticed she's a good candidate. She knows what she is doing. And she ran a good race. And it just shows what having a strong candidate can do.

You are going to hear from the Republicans because of this race the words "Democratic socialist," which of course she was backed by the Democratic Socialists. They are going to mention that. You're going to hear from the Republicans she wants to do away with ICE. You know, the progressives within the party -- the Democratic Party are more and more saying that.

How will Republicans -- Republicans use this to position themselves going forward?

HENDERSON: You know, I think they will do what you said. Basically, highlight her, highlight Nancy Pelosi, highlight Maxine Waters, highlight Ocasio-Cortez as the face of the Democratic Party, as the hard left. Right? And if you are a white working-class person who typically, at least at this point, seems to be in Trump's corner, white evangelical, you might not feel like you fit into that idea of the Democratic Party with these sort of new faces coming. A more diverse party, a more progressive party. So I think that's what -- that's what they're going to do.

I mean, we saw Donald Trump tweet about this already. He didn't really tweet about it in a way that he can fully grasped what had happened there. But you imagine that he's going to grab onto this in the way that he did with Bernie Sanders, calling him a whacky socialist.

But listen. I mean, a lot of those white working-class voters, in particular, did find Bernie Sanders to be an appealing candidate. So we'll see what happens.

But yes, this is the new Democratic Party. We'll see what it means for 2020. We'll see what it means for 2018 in November with this -- with the speaker race, even if that comes to pass for Democrats.

[06:10:01] HILL: Well, and I think it picks up on what you just brought up, John. And the fact that we are seeing both parties get more extreme. Right? So we saw it, you know, a few years ago. It started, obviously, with the right. They're both going to be playing the opposite side as the most extreme you can get.

The question is who's actually left in the middle? Where are the American people and the voters? Are we -- are they starting to lean more independent, because they're fed up with all this?

AVLON: Look, we've seen a rise in independent voters over a period of two decades as the parties have gotten more polarized. There's still a plurality of Americans who are squarely in the center, but the parties have become more polarized.

The difference is the Democrats have been evenly split between liberals and self-identified moderates. Republicans have basically excommunicated the center right. But that center of gravity is moving left in the Democratic Party.

Remember, Republicans have been making hay off running against Nancy Pelosi as her as an avatar of the far left, some San Francisco Democrat. For this rising tide of new Democrats, she is not far left enough.

BERMAN: I will say -- I will say if Republicans try and demonize a Ocasio-Cortez, they might be surprised with what they end up with. I mean, she has handled attacks throughout the course of this primary. She is, as I said, an energetic spokesman for what she believes. And she is also a face and a voice for a new generation. And generational politics, powerful.

CHALIAN: There's no doubt about it. We talked so much in the aftermath of Parkland about a youth movement. And is there -- and so you do see some young, newly -- entrants into the political arena starting to make some headway. There is -- that is where a lot of the energy exists, John.

I will say this, though. It is a majority/minority district. There's no doubt about it. I do think, though, if we just dismiss it at that, there are lessons here for 2020. If you are an older white male moderate who may be a bit more moderate inside the Democratic Party, I think you're going to have a tough path to the nomination to be the one to take on Donald Trump potentially. This is -- there are lessons to be learned here, even though Iowa and New Hampshire look a lot different than Queens and Brooklyn, just about where the party is, where it identifies itself, and the kinds of principles it gathers.

BERMAN: Women candidates all over the last few months have been succeeding at record rates.

HILL: It's also about how people are fed up. Right? They're fed up with Crowley, who didn't even show up for the last debate. So what was it? Ten days? A week ago. He doesn't even show up. He sends a surrogate in his place. What does that say? And the "New York Times" editorial board called him out for that. What does that say to your constituents?

AVLON: And actually, he bailed on two debates, saying he was too busy. That's not good constituent maintenance.

BERMAN: It's malpractice.

AVLON: It is, it is. And remember, these turns -- look, 15,000 people turned out for this primary in a district of 750,000. So democracy, decisions are made by people who showed up. Crowley didn't show up. Well, his opponents' people did.

BERMAN: I do want to talk a little bit about -- about some of the other primaries, Nia. And the president really did score two victories last night. He threw his weight behind two big races. The gubernatorial primary in South Carolina, where henry McMaster -- actually, it was a pretty close result. He squeaked out a victory in the primary there.

And also here in New York City, Dan Donovan winning that district in Staten Island over -- over Michael Grimm.

This does show how the president, I think, Nia, can be effective. I'm not sure that either of those results would have happened had the president not gotten involved to the extent that he did.

HENDERSON: Yes, and we've seen before that the president getting involved wasn't a good idea, right, in Alabama first and in that special election in Pennsylvania. So here he is trying to put his thumb on the scale and really show the power of the presidency and the power of the Trump brand. So he's leaning into these races in a way that didn't turn out well for him in some instances.

But over the last couple of races, he's had a pretty good record there in West Virginia, for instance, as well. And so I think this is -- you know, this is a president who feels emboldened. He's looking at the poll numbers. He sees a very high approval rating among Republicans. It's something like 90 percent in that last Gallup poll. So he knows that if he gets in there, he can rally his base. I mean, South Carolina, obviously Trump country to begin with. Henry McMaster had come out early on as a supporter of Donald Trump.

And so yes, he's going to use his political capital, which he sees, in some ways, as growing. The Supreme Court, kind of ratifying his decision with the travel ban there, and some other things are going his way.

So I think he thinks he is looking at November and saying he wants to defy those odds again in the way that he defied them in 2016.

BERMAN: All right, guys. Stick around if you will, because we had two other major pieces of news overnight. No. 1, if you can believe it, only six children -- six, six -- have been reunited with their parents, those who have been separated from their families by the U.S. government in the last week. Just six.

And then overnight, a federal judge ruling that all of these children must be reunited within the next 30 days. What that ruling means, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:18:33] HILL: Breaking overnight, a major legal setback for the Trump administration. A federal judge in California issuing a nationwide injunction to stop the U.S. government from separating families at the border. The judge also ordering families be reunited within 30 days.

CNN's Laura Jarrett is live in Washington with these breaking details for us.

So what more do we know?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, good morning.

The clock is now ticking for the Trump administration to come up with a plan and fast. A federal judge has ordered that federal officials must stop detaining

parents apart from their minor children. Nearly all children younger than 5 must be returned to their parents within 14 days, and older children now have to be returned within 30 days.

The ACLU had actually originally filed this case against the Trump administration back in February, but had recently ramped up things after the president's zero-tolerance policy resulted in over 2,000 children being separated from their parents at the border, as we've been covering for days.

And this judge did not hold back. He blasted the Trump administration for what he called a chaotic circumstance of the government's own making. He said the situation had reached a crisis level. And officials had no real plan in place for reunification.

And Judge Sabraw did not say that the administration must stop prosecuting people who cross the border illegally, but his language and tone throughout this opinion is just remarkable.

He says, in part, here, and I want to quote: "The government readily keeps track of personal property of detainees in criminal and immigration proceedings." And then he goes on to say, "The unfortunate reality is that, under the present system, migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property."

[06:20:05] Now, this order was issued over the objection of the Justice Department, which had asked the judge to hold off while agencies continued to work through some implementation plan of the president's executive order from last week keeping families together.

So now we wait to the see if the administration tries to appeal this decision -- John.

BERMAN: Yes, we will have to see what happens there. Laura Jarrett, thanks very much. As you said, a major development overnight.

Joining us now, CNN legal analyst Laura Coates. David Chalian back with us, as well.

Laura, I want to ask what the actual practical implications are of this judge's ruling. And I ask that question in light of what happened yesterday. You know, by 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down, you know, objections to the president's travel ban. The travel ban that he instated will hold. That's an immigration-related matter.

Will that have an impact here?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, interesting you make that parallel, John. Because just like the travel ban had to have a series of different incantations, this particular implementation of immigration policy has to follow that same track record.

Because remember, the reason there was a 5-4 decision was not because of the very first implementation of the travel ban, which caused great chaos, confusion among the different agencies. It was a third or a fourth version of the travel ban that the Supreme Court ultimately said that's a go on.

This is kind of the first incantation, the first instance of it. And, again, the court has recognized before and could follow the same Supreme Court logic and other courts' logic and say, "Listen, you have to have a way to implement the program that's not going to cause the mass chaos and confusion, even if you do have the immigration basis in your executive authority."

This tracks that same sort of logic. And I think that this is a signal to the Trump administration that, listen, you have to have some end result in mind and some process for reunification. Otherwise, you simply have a parental removal proceeding, which is very different.

HILL: There's also the fact that -- and we just heard a little bit about the language that the judge used here. He also referred to this as a startling reality. The fact, John -- and we've been talking about this all week long. In fact, since last week, that we don't know, essentially, where these kids are. We don't have firm information also on how or when they could be reunited.

So this is great. But there is still the question of where are they and how do you make that happen?

AVLON: The line from the judge said, "We are not tracking, the government is not tracking migrant children as efficiently as it does property," is chilling. That is the callousness with which we are treating these children and the families they have been separated from. It is unconscionable to do at any point in our history but especially now.

And so, as John pointed out, less than six kids have been moved over. That is less than 1 percent of the number of kids we know who have been detained. So this is -- this is a great decision. But the ability to implement something, there's no reason that we should have confidence that the government can do it, and we need much more accountability on that, top to bottom.

BERMAN: I've got to say, when I saw that number, that number that just six of these children being reunited with their parents, I thought this can't possibly be right. I mean, you accidentally would reunite more than six. You have to go out of your way not to reunite more than six there. This just goes to show, at least to me, that the administration doesn't appear serious about this.

CHALIAN: Well, that may be. What it -- what it certainly appears is that the administration is incompetent in being able to do this. And that's what I think.

We moved past the political argument on this last week. Right? The president caved. He wrote the executive order. There's no more debate between the parties about whether or not kids should be separated from their families. So now all we have left is the competency factor of being able to execute on that. And I actually think that that poses as deep a political problem for the president, potentially, as does the original political fight when he got backlash from his own party.

Because when you are deemed an incompetent government who can't actually execute and do things that you say you want to do, that sort of rips off a veneer for the American people when they're assessing you.

AVLON: And incompetence is the most generous explanation.

HILL: Let's remember, the president already said, and this is not a surprise, on Tuesday night at his rally, "This is working" -- Monday night. "This is working." Right? He's saying, "Look, you know what? It's not as bad as people say in the pictures. This is actually working to our advantage."

So we know that it's going to be spun that way.

CHALIAN: Yes, there's no doubt, from a political argument, he sees that he has a -- he believes he's got a winning political argument. But what is clearly not working is --

HILL: The reality?

CHALIAN: Is the reality of reunifying these children with their families.

BERMAN: Look, Jeff Sessions was making a joke about it last night. He was making a joke about separations.

Sorry, Laura, go ahead.

COATES: I was going to say, you know, he certainly will be emboldened, however, in thinking that it is working, because he has the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. Which inures to his benefit, given what happened with Merrick Garland, versus Neil Gorsuch. He can make that argument.

But the reality here is he's talking about incompetence. The Supreme Court has never said at any point in time the government could not be presumed competent, because it guarantees due process. And that's what the Supreme Court did not say yesterday, that it goes away, suddenly, even if there is some incompetence.

They still have to follow along the other precedential decisions of the Supreme Court that says that you can't simply execute laws and enforce them in a manner that's incompetent, because we guarantee due process even for those who are not citizens of this country. And that's where they're falling short, even if they're emboldened by the new decision.

[06:25:14] BERMAN: I do want to listen to what the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said yesterday. He seemed to make a joke about the separation of children from their parents. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The rhetoric we hear from the other side on this issue, as on many others, has become radicalized. We hear views on television today that are on the lunatic fringe, frankly, and what is perhaps more galling is the hypocrisy.

These same people live in gated communities, many of them, and are featured at events where you have to have an I.D. to even come in and hear them speak. They like a little security around themselves. And if you try to scale the fence, believe me, they will be even too happy to have you arrested and separated from your children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Wow. He seemed to think it was funny, the attorney general.

AVLON: Yes. By the way, a badly delivered speech whose sentiment was even worse. You're trying to play the limousine liberal card and mocking people who seem to be -- who are concerned about the separation of children from their families. That is -- that is just so far beneath what we should expect from our attorney general.

BERMAN: Another major development today we're going to see in Washington. Peter Strzok, who of course, was the FBI agent -- I guess he still technically does work for the FBI, even though he was marched out of the FBI headquarters last week. He will testify behind closed doors to a joint hearing from the House Oversight and Judiciary Committee. They have a lot of questions for him.

He is willing to talk, though. He -- his lawyer says he's going to waive his Fifth Amendment rights. He's going to answer every question that's asked of him. This will be fascinating, albeit behind closed doors, Laura.

COATES: It's an effort, really, to restore his credibility and answer so many of the unanswered questions. Remember, of that scathing I.G. report, he was the No. 1 target of that scathing rhetoric for his conduct, for his text messaging between himself and another attorney, Lisa Page. And so it's justified for them to question and wonder what his statements meant and what was behind the scenes.

Of course, he also played a role not just in the Hillary Clinton e- mail probe. But for a short time, he did play a role in the Russia collusion investigation. And so that is one of the things that has been fodder -- or added fodder to the -- for President Trump's discussions and narrative about why this particular investigation is a witch-hunt. Now, that's an inaccurate assessment, but one that he makes nonetheless.

And so it's important to figure out what he is going to say. Unfortunately, for the American people, we won't be able to hear it in real-time. But I suspect, just as in every other hearing that we've had on the Hill about these late issues, we will hear something about it. Now, how the narrative is twisted and meanders and crafted is a different story. And I suspect it will bolster the president's own statements.

HILL: We'll have to parse through all of those little tidbits that we'll be getting from people afterwards. BERMAN: I have to say, it's interesting. The president says he wants

this hearing to be open. But he better be careful what he wishes for, Peter Strzok testifies out in the open. Peter Strzok's lawyer -- let me just read you part of it -- you know, he says, "His political conviction that a Trump presidency would be disastrous for American national security is not based on his bias. It was based on information that was available to him, in his perception, on national security."

David Chalian, it does seem to me Peter Strzok is hinting there, "I might be willing to tell you some of the things I saw that concerned me as part of this investigation."

CHALIAN: And not backing down from his Trump opposition, which obviously, the president is going to engage on.

Laura just mentioned his involvement also in the Russia investigation. And I do think that will be one of the most interesting things to learn today. The I.G. report suggested that he had a prioritization issue about whether or not the Clinton e-mail investigation, the Russia investigation should get more attention in the fall of 2016. Hearing him talk about that, I think, is going to be particularly interesting.

BERMAN: All right. We saw something fascinating on late-night television last night. Yes, the late-night comics sort of teamed up and did one united opening monologue. Wait until you see this, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)