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Interview with Representative Mike Rounds; Interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Officer Charged in Shooting Death of Unarmed Black Teen; Battle Ignites Over Trump's Next Supreme Court Pick; Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 28, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- and this person will become a Supreme Court justice here. I'm just suggesting that Mitch McConnell did this because he could. He did because he could. You supported him. The senators did -- Republicans in the Senate, because you saw an opportunity to maybe get an additional conservative voice on the court. And it worked. It just worked. And at this point that's just history.

I will ask you this. What's your advice to Democrats going forward? There will come a time when maybe there is a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress. Would you advise Democrats to take this same path in the future?

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I think what you're going to find is that now we're back to a 51-vote margin on judges and also on the Supreme Court. Remember, it was Harry Reid's idea to go to 51 on the other judges. When that happened, and now it has become a case where it's more -- it's easier for the party in power with 51 votes to actually have a say in a more timely fashion as to who the members on the court will be.

What the total -- what that actually will do to the makeup of the Supreme Court and the actual bench in the United States really is yet to be determined. But I think it will change it from what it has been in the past. And I think now there is going to be a lot more emphasis on, number one, if you have a president in power and a Senate who is of the opposite party, I think there's going to be more negotiations than what there's going to be than if you have a president and a party of the same that are in power. I think you'll find it leans more liberal and more conservative based on who is in control.

BERMAN: Look, I think the lesson here is that raw political power can't pay dividends. That we've seen it play out over the last two years.

Senator Mike Rounds, it is a pleasure to have you with us. I do appreciate the honest discussions that you bring on when you come on. So come back on soon, please.

ROUNDS: Thank you.

BERMAN: Erica? ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: As we move forward November, a lot of

questions about the Democratic Party. Is it still the party of Nancy Pelosi? As we hear from the president, we will ask a newcomer who unseated a 10-term top Dem next.


[07:36:00] BERMAN: A 28-year-old political newcomer emerges as a star after pulling off a stunning upset over 10-term incumbent congressman, Congressman Joe Crowley here in New York. Her win caught the attention of President Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of my biggest critics, say slovenly man named Joe Crowley got his ass kicked by a young woman who had a lot of energy. She had a lot of energy.


BERMAN: Joining me now is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Thank you so much for joining us. I think President Trump was praising you there? Your reaction?

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I mean, first of all, it is unacceptable to be, you know, disrespectful I think of Congressman Crowley. He's done some phenomenal, phenomenal work for the Bronx and Queens, and so I'm -- you know, I'm first and foremost saddened and upset at the disrespect that he displayed at my predecessor. And I mean, it's bizarre to say the least.

BERMAN: We'll come back to the president in just a second. But since we have you and since you are now a new force within the Democratic Party, I do want to get your take on the news of the day, which is major news of the day. Justice Anthony Kennedy, he is retiring. The president will get to nominate a new pick for the Supreme Court. By all accounts it will be a Gorsuch-like pick. That will move the court to the right.

There is very little that the Democrats can do, if anything, to stop this. But what is your advice to your fellow Democrats? How do you want to see Democrats react to this over the next several months?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think that we should be unafraid to play hardball a little bit in this Congress. After all, the Republican Party has shown throughout the Obama presidency the extent to which that they would go, you know, to be obstructionists. And while I don't believe that we should be halting progress in this country, I don't believe that the party that we should be a force for progress, at the same time, you know, they stole the first Supreme Court seat.

And for us to take that sitting down in this time, especially when there are so many critical decisions, you know, pending, we're talking about labor rights on the line, civil rights, women's rights, et cetera, at the very least that we can do I think is delay that damage. BERMAN: How? Practically speaking, how do you fight this?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think legislatively. Once again, we have to -- we have to create a lot of pressure. I myself come from a background as an organizer. And in order for us to get things done, in Congress especially, I feel like we need to organize inside and outside the chamber. And if we only work inside the chamber, then we aren't going to get too much done. We have to work in conjunction, organize popular support to push our priorities in the chamber. And that's really how we're going to get our agenda and our priorities passed.

BERMAN: There are Democratic senators who supported Neil Gorsuch. Heidi Heitcamp, Joe Connelly, Joe Manchin. There could be so-called red state Democrats that support this next pick as well. Do you feel as if your fellow Democrats from the progressive wing should abandon these people?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I mean, I think that it all comes to circumstance. It all comes to that one individual choice. Like what does abandon mean? And I think that -- at the end of the day, the word abandon, does it mean to support primary challengers? Does it mean to, you know, refuse to work with them? What does abandon mean?

I don't think that we should ever just say we're not going to work with members within our own party once they're in our party and in our chamber. But I also think that we can apply pressure. We should be applying pressure to some of those individuals that may be, frankly, I think putting some of people's most basic rights in jeopardy.

[07:40:07] BERMAN: I want to talk about you if we can for a moment because there was -- I mean, I'm old enough to remember when your primary win was the biggest news of the day. That lasted until the Supreme Court vacancy existed there.


BERMAN: The majority leader Mitch McConnell commented on this. Republicans are trying to use you in some of your positions as a bit of a wedger. Listen to the leader.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: It was a stunning development. The energy in the Democratic Party is self-avowed socialist, open borders. I think it's a general election problem for them in a number of places and a real drag on the party in terms of appealing to American voters who I don't think want us to turn into a European socialist country.


BERMAN: He uses the S word, socialist. You are a Democratic socialist. You can see how Republicans will bring that up. What's your response? OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, you know, I think that we've seen that the

American people -- the vast majority of American people believed and approved and expanded Medicare for all. They believe that we should have public college and trade school. They believe that we should elevate the minimum wage. And you know, I think it's easy for Republicans to start yelling out labels in order to be divisive and incite fear. But at the end of the day, I believe that our legislative priorities are completely in line and reflective with the majority of Americans.

And I understand why they want to use fear tactics. And I understand why they're scared of me, because I represent a change to their status quo.

BERMAN: Some of these --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And I represent I think a real threat to the Republican Party.

BERMAN: Some of these legislative priorities include eliminating ICE, for instance. And President Trump --


BERMAN: -- came after you directly on that. I don't have time to play the sound there. But he noted that there are Democrats who want to eliminate ICE. He says this would put people at risk. You don't deny that you'd like to see ICE go?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes. I mean I think what people need to -- we need to remember is that ICE was just established in 2003. We had an immigration system before then. ICE was established with the Patriot Act, with the Iraq war, with the AUMF, with DHS. And we look at all that legislation now as a mistake. And I think now we're starting to realize that ICE, part of that suite of legislation, has a structure that allows for civil rights and human rights abuses.

And you know, it may seem like a radical position, but I actually think it's very, very common sense. You know, we should not be separating children from their families. We should not be detaining people and violating, you know, one's rights to due process.

BERMAN: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Look forward to speaking to you again in the future maybe for many, many years based on what could be your new seat coming up. Thank you.


BERMAN: I do think it's very interesting to hear from her. Again she's got no vote. She will have no vote on this. First of all she won't be in Congress until January. Then she'll be in the House, not the Senate. But she is to some extent the voice of a wing of the Democratic Party here. And she wants to fight on the Supreme Court pick. She basically says we have one pick stolen from us. Those are her words. HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: And she wants to fight. Less clear on how. But you do see the energy there. Democrats in the base are not just going to say, hey, senators, you take this. They're going to want to see some kind of attempt.

HILL: Right. The big question is what exactly -- to your point, and what we'll talk about all morning is, what will, what could that fight be? What could it look like? And if you're trying to stave off until we get a majority, but then what are you going to do? Are you just going to -- and every confirmation we know what the list is.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, look, this is a fundamental problem.

HILL: About how many --

AVLON: I don't think her position, the willingness to fight over the Supreme Court is radical or extreme within the Democratic caucus. I think that's their intention. But with Mitch McConnell upending history and tradition to do a simple majority vote for Supreme Court, there is very little Democrats can do. But she is going to be, once she gets into Congress and she is overwhelmingly likely to win that seat, a going to be an incredibly influential avatar for a new generation of Democrats. And the energy is on the left.

BERMAN: She used the word delay which I think is a code for -- that you are now hearing within some in the Democratic Party who would like to see Democrats do something radical within the Senate, which is don't let it ever come to vote, keep proposing things.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: Refusing to show up. Don't have a quorum. Just delay it as long as you can here. I doubt that Chuck Schumer will take that path, but we'll see.

HILL: Just ahead, the officer charged with the shooting death of an unarmed black teen. We have more on this investigation next.


[07:48:23] HILL: Disturbing new details about what a Pittsburgh area police officer told investigators in the moments after he shot and killed an unarmed teen. That officer is now facing a charge of homicide.

CNN's Athena Jones is live in Pittsburgh with more for us.

Athena, good morning.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. Officer Michael Rosfeld was released on bond over the objection of the district attorney. Well, now he's been ordered to subject himself to electronic home monitoring. That's another way of saying house arrest where he'll be forced to wear an ankle bracelet.

This came after senior staff at the D.A.'s office found that there may have been jurisdictional issues with the way the bond was set early Wednesday morning. The D.A.'s office informed the judge of their concerns and the judge then issued an order, quote, "reinforcing the bond" and adding this condition of electronic home monitoring.

There are still a lot of folks who wanted to see that his bail revoked entirely. We also learned from the lengthy and extensive detailed briefing that District Attorney Stephen Zappala gave to reporters yesterday, that Officer Rosfeld gave inconsistent statements when he was being interviewed by investigators.

At one point he said he saw something dark that he perceived as a gun in Antwon Rose's hand. But when investigators pressed him on that, he told detectives that he did not see a gun. This is the pointed that D.A. Zappala emphasized when he called the shooting of Antwon Rose intentional, reckless and unjustified.

And about those three shots that this officer fired, we learned from the autopsy report they hit Antwon Rose in the face, the arm, and the back. But that last shot to the back was the shot that killed him. Rose's family sees these charges as an important first step. But activists want to see changes to the East Pittsburgh police department's policies and procedures and they want to see this officer fired -- John.

[07:50:02] BERMAN: All right. Athena Jones for us in Pittsburgh. Athena, thank you for being there. We're watching that story very closely.

In the meantime this Supreme Court nomination it will change the country. How will Democrats respond? How should they respond? David Axelrod joins us next.


HILL: President Trump's second Supreme Court appointment could reshape the high court for decades. CNN political commentator David Axelrod highlighting the importance of the pick in a tweet saying, "This SCOTUS nomination will determine a lot about the nature of American life for a generation or more, yet the decision will be made by a president who lost the popular vote and a Senate whose majority represents less than half of a deeply divided country."

David Axelrod, joins us now.

David, we know what the president and what supporters would say to that. Listen, he won. At the end of the day, this is the man who is on office. A number of people who did vote for him voted for him precisely because this is a number one issue for them. So he's just fulfilling his mandate.

[07:55:03] DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there's no doubt that he won. I mean, you know, under the Constitution he is the president. Under the Constitution we have a majority in the Senate that represents less than a majority of the country as far as public opinion, so there's no doubt about it. And, look, there's going to be a titanic battle, you know, over these nominations. I think it's going to very much color the midterm elections.

But in the end, you know, the constitutional tools are within the possession of the Republican majority and the president and so the outcome seems faded. The question is what are the implications of it? What are the implications for the elections? What are the implications for the future which I think are pretty profound.

BERMAN: And they are?

AXELROD: Well, the implications for the future are obvious. I mean, particularly on those issues where Kennedy -- let's remember that Kennedy voted with a conservative majority to, you know, gut labor union powers as we saw the other day, to roll back voting rights, to open the door to dark money in unlimited amounts in our politics. It's on these social issues of abortion rights and gay rights and affirmative action that he strayed from the conservative majority and was the swing vote.

On those issues you're going to see a big rollback, and I'm sure others will arise that, in which the court will actually take points of view that are in contradiction of public opinion. So I mean, that is the implication of the appointment. In terms of the midterms, I think this puts enormous pressure on red state Democrats which I think that Republicans are aware. It's one of the reasons McConnell wants to move quickly.

I think it also is going to put some pressure on some of these Republicans. Even though the House doesn't vote on this, the injection of these issues into the race will, I think, impact on these midterm elections in some of these purple House districts. So, you know, it is going to be a major, major item of discussion throughout the fall.

AVLON: Yes, but, Axe, let me press you on this because what can Democrats do as a practical matter? When you say it seems faded, then it seems that, you know, we're going to have a big political debate, but the -- you know, what can Democrats do to actually functionally push back on this nomination?

AXELROD: Well, look, I think that the implications are more for the election than they are for the nomination itself. I think that Democrats are going to demand that Chuck Schumer do whatever is in his power to try and delay the outcome of this vote.

AVLON: Which is?

AXELROD: And put maximum pressure on the -- well, he has all kinds of tools as his disposal to delay a vote and I'm sure that he will avail himself of those tools, but the real issue is going to be how much pressure is put politically on Democrats in the Senate and ultimately, what happens in these districts and, you know, I mean, my answer to everyone on these kinds of questions is, that the ultimate power in a democracy lies with people and their vote, and even though it may not change the Supreme Court vote, it may very much mobilize people to come out and vote in the fall and I think you're going to see Democrats use this issue to mobilize their base.

I also think you're going to see Republicans use this issue to mobilize theirs and this will give the president one more talking point in terms of accomplishments for his evangelical base, for his Republican base. So it's going to play big on both sides.

BERMAN: Look, I am curious about what you think Democrats should do going forward in the sense of, what lesson do you learn from this? The lesson that I take from this is that Mitch McConnell won here by playing the hardest of hard balls. So why shouldn't Democrats do exactly the same thing if the situation arises again or a similar situation?

AXELROD: Well, I think once norms are -- once norms are degraded it's very hard to rebuild them. I think that, you know, the rules are now set. If you have a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate and a Supreme Court justice comes up, I think you can see the reverse kind of scenario.

You know, it's interesting. President Obama appointed Merrick Garland precisely because the country was divided. Garland was someone who had had support from both Republicans and Democrats and he thought this was respectful to the political situation in the country and as you point out, McConnell disregarded it and simply wouldn't take up the nomination which was an outrage. But, you know I don't think -- so he set the rules now --

BERMAN: But should actually --


BERMAN: We're out of time, David. But Erica was talking about this before, should it have been a different pick? In retrospect, given what ultimately happened, should he have picked someone that wasn't seen as middle of the road? Would he have been better off to acknowledge --


AXELROD: Would that -- would that have made a difference in the outcome?

BERMAN: No, but it might have --


AXELROD: I don't think so.

BERMAN: Might have energized --

HILL: It may change the conversation afterwards.