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Some GOP Delegates Will Bring Guns to Cleveland; Toxic Algae Bloom Blankets South Florida Beaches; Twenty One People Shot, One Stabbed in Chicago This Weekend; VP Guessing Game On; ISIS Claims Responsibility For Iraq Bombings. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired July 3, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:14] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Happening right now in the NEWSROOM, making the rounds.
Potential Democratic vice presidential picks being put in the test defending their positions and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Plus, on the heed of Clinton's three-and-a-half hour grilling by the FBI assessing the timing and potential impact.
And terror around the world, a deadly bombing in Baghdad. ISIS again claiming responsibility. It's the third massive casualty attack in less than a week abroad. Turkey, Bangladesh, and now Iraq.
Hello, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
As the vetting process moves into full swing for Hillary Clinton's vice presidential picks, the former secretary of state is facing the FBI's final probe into the use of her private email server. Sources tell CNN an announcement of no charges is expected within the next two weeks as long as no evidence of wrongdoing emerges from yesterday's interview with the FBI.
The campaign hopes to put the more than year-long controversy to rest and officially turn their full focus to the general election, but the issue still threatens to haunt her candidacy. Clinton supporter and potential running mate Cory Booker ruled out any possibility that an indictment would emerge. The New Jersey senator also weighed in on the VP selection process.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We learned more about Donald Trump's vice presidential search this week, one of the names under consideration is New Jersey governor Chris Christie. You are very familiar with him. The two of have you have worked pretty closely together on the issue of education. Would Chris Christie make a good weren't?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Look, as you know, Chris Christie and I, even though we are different parties, and I can write a long dissertation on our disagreements, when I was the mayor of the largest city in the state and he was governor, we found ways to work together.
But frankly, I don't care who you are going to put with Donald Trump, you are not going to find a good partnership to lead this country, especially someone who has consistently demeaned Americans, degraded Americans and deceived Americans in just about his entire campaign. If I turn on the news in any given week, he is demeaning and degrading and deceiving another group of Americans. And whether it is Muslim- Americans or whether it's judges, whether it's people like John McCain --
KEILAR: But, Chris Christie, you are more obviously comfortable with him.
BOOKER: I'm telling you right now I don't care who Donald Trump picks. This is somebody that is a danger not only to our country but his recklessness, his disregard, his demeaning and degrading of other individuals will put this planet in peril. This is a dangerous man and I have heard what's come out of his mouth. And it's frankly frightening about what could happen if he was the commander in-chief of this country and had his finger -- had the codes to the nuclear weapons.
KEILAR: Two weeks ago you said you were not being vetted to be Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running mate. Is that still the case? Have you, has your staff provided any personal docents to the Clinton campaign?
BOOKER: You know, at this point I have answered this question, talked about this, I'm just referring questions about the vice presidency to the woman that's going to have to make this decision. You should talk to the Hillary Clinton campaign. What I do know is that on the Democratic side there are many fabulous candidates, people that could really be strong --
KEILAR: That is not a no, sir. That is not a no.
BOOKER: That's exactly what it is. It is telling you that if you have a question like that, please direct it to the Clinton campaign.
KEILAR: I think I may have gotten the answer I need from that actually.
WHITFIELD: All right. Senator Booker is not the only possible Democratic VP candidate deferring all questions about the vetting to the Clinton campaign. Three others did make the talk show rounds this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you being vetted for VP? Do you want to be?
REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: That's a question that has to be asked to Secretary Clinton. And I have full faith, total confidence that she's going to make a great decision. She has got a great core of people to choose from and we will see. And we will see.
TOM PEREZ, LABOR SECRETARY: It's all about judgment. And Donald Trump is such a volatile individual. And what I have seen working with Secretary Clinton is that she is a steady hand.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I'm not going to speculate. I think --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not asking you to speculate. Have you been contacted?
BROWN: I understand. You have heard my answer. That's what you're going to get. And I talked to the secretary Clinton campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk about the possible running mates now for both Clinton and Trump. Joining me right now is Jim Kessler, who is the co-founder of the third way and is a Hillary Clinton supporter. Good to see you.
Also with me is Scottie Nell Hughes, who is the politics editor for rightsalert.com and is also a Donald Trump supporter. Good to see you as well.
All right. So, Jim, you first. The Clinton campaign and possible running mates, you know, may want to focus on that part of the campaign but isn't the FBI interview and the possible outcome going to dog not just Clinton but your Cory Bookers or your Elizabeth Warrens out there as well?
[14:05:16] JIM KESSLER, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I don't think it's going to dog her for long. This should be over in a couple of weeks. From all indications that I hear, there's not going to be talked to legal experts. It seems like that this is going to be a thing of the past. I'm sure the Trump campaign is going to use it. That's what campaigns do, but I think she will move on and voters are going to move on on this one.
WHITFIELD: And what do you see that Clinton, the Clinton campaign, is going to need as it entertains all of `the options of the possible VP picks? What does that campaign, what does that candidate need in a possible running mate?
KESSLER: Well, I agree with what Cory Booker said. There's a lot of excellent candidates out there for her. There's a lot of good Democrats. Cory Booker is definitely one of them. Tim Kaine, some the other folks on there.
Look, I think this has changed the vice presidential nod. It used to be this was the attack dog that is going to, you know, as the presidential nominee rises above it. We have seen with Donald Trump that is not going to be the case on the Republican side. I think somebody like Cory Booker or Tim Kaine or some of the others, can you appeal to the center of the electorate? That's where this fight is going to be. Do you have a history of working with folks on the other side? I think people want to get things done. And do you, you know, are you qualified to be president? I think a lot of the folks on the Democratic side definitely are. And I think with somebody like Cory Booker, you're looking at someone who is very adept at modern campaigning. He's got about two million twitter followers. I think that's more than anybody else in the Senate. So I do think he's -- he feels like a very modern candidate in what is going to be a very modern election.
WHITFIELD: And, Scottie, how do you see the Trump campaign now trying to balance -- he is taking advantage of this FBI interview. He has been tweeting. He has been talking about how this folds right into the narrative that he has been espousing for a very long time that, you know, that she is not to be trusted. Yet at the same time he is thinking about and looking toward the general election and making a promise that he is going to reveal a possible running mate in time for the convention just two weeks away.
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yes. I think both candidates right now are looking for something different when it comes to their VP candidate. I think on the Democrat side, they are really looking for somebody that will cause that engagement that gave Barack Obama the overwhelming wins both in 2008 and 2012. But their risk is they don't want somebody that has more energy that is more exciting than Hillary Clinton. So that's a really hard handle right there.
The Republicans, on the other hand, in a VP candidate are looking for somebody to more solidify, to more make the foundation stronger with government experience and somebody that's maybe more traditional. So two different candidates looking for two different things. But the idea, this whole email --.
WHITFIELD: Who is out in front? Who is that person for Donald Trump who has that Washington experience? We know that Chris Christie, you know, has been working very closely with the campaign, has filled out, you know, whatever applications need to be, you know, filled out for that possible inclusion in that part of the race for Donald Trump. Is he a serious candidate or is there someone else?
HUGHES: I think you will see Chris Christie somewhere within the administration. And obviously he is obviously a serious candidate if he is being vetted. But, you know, I think a lot of conservatives would feel very comfortable with somebody like a governor Mike Pence whose name starts to circulate yesterday, as someone who had a solid conservative leadership. The question is, you know, does he have the energy to engage, you know? Does he have enough of a state to bring in?
You know, part of people think, yes. We don't need any more energy within the Trump campaign. We have a lot coming from the front-runner himself. Another name being tossed around is Colonel Alan West. I mean, he is someone that brings in military experience. There a lot of Republicans want somebody that knows enough about the military as well as he has got obviously legislative experience being -- he brings in Florida, which is a very much a battleground state right now for Republicans.
And we obviously heard the rumors of Newt and some of the traditional ones. But there's a lot of great options on the Republican side. And the one thing we don't have to worry about that the Democrats do is somebody that is going to overshadow our front-runner and be more popular than the front runner because it's obvious the front-runner is pretty cool.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, recently Trump former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, he has been out in front quite a bit lately. This is what he had to say this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the vice presidential selection is going to come down to one person's comfortable and that is going to be Donald Trump.
Look, you know, what he wants and what he has said he wanted is somebody who can help him accomplish his legislative agenda. It is going to be very important as chief executive of our country to make sure that he is cutting taxes, he is reducing our national debt, he is making sure our military is strong and having someone who has those relationships in Washington is going to be a critical component of his administration. Newt Gingrich is one of those people. Chris Christie is one of those people. Governor Pence is one of those people. Jeff Sessions is another option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:10:00] WHITFIELD: So, Jim, how much will it matter for Hillary Clinton, who has that experience in Washington, you know, who has the name recognition, how influential will it be in how her strategy or how her campaign pivots weighing on who Donald Trump would select as a running mate?
KESSLER: Well, I think one thing that's very different between who Donald Trump is looking at and Hillary Clinton is, there's a lot of people on the Republican side who do not want the job and are actively pushing away on it. And all of the names that are mentioned, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Mike Pence, these are people on the downside of their political career like they have no place left to go. I mean, they are on the long slide to oblivion. So I think there's something very interesting that's going on there.
I think with Hillary Clinton, look, this battle is going to be fought in the center. She probably would do best to pick a candidate who can appeal to moderates and centrist voters. There are plenty of opportunities out there to do so. In terms of excitement, she is going to be the first female nominee of a major party ever. I think there's plenty of excitement out there.
You know, Cory Booker, Tim Kaine, those are some very good names in the centrist space. Tom Perez brings you some Latino voters as well as Xavier Becerra and Julian Castro. But I don't think she is going to govern her choice by the person that probably very few people are going to know who Donald Trump is going to pick.
WHITFIELD: All right. Scottie Nell Hughes, Jim Kessler, we are going to talk again. Stick around. Thank you so much. Later on in the hour.
Meantime, libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson says Donald Trump doesn't deserve to stay in the race. He outlined his concerns this morning on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, just that he has said one hundred things that would disqualify anyone else from running for president, but it doesn't seem to affect him. And just turn the page and here is the page turned and now we have another reason that might disqualify a presidential candidate. That statement in and of itself, it really is - it is racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Gary Johnson there, this coming on the heels of Trump's controversial tweet yesterday where he targeted his rival Hillary Clinton. Criticism started rolling in after the Republican presumptive nominee tweeted an image, you see the opposing images here. At first using a symbol that many say resembles a star of David and then not long after Trump deleted that and then retweeted the same message but this time within a circle.
CNN Political commentator Corey Lewandowski commented on that as well this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, a tweet is a simple tweet. And the bottom line is you can read into things that aren't there, you know. This is a simple star. And you know, to make an accusation, it's the same star that sheriff's departments across the country use all over the place to represent law enforcement. And to read into something that isn't there is I, you know what, I think, again, that's the mainstream media trying to attack Donald Trump for something that really isn't here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Trump's campaign didn't respond to CNN's request for a comment on the issue. And of course, we are still waiting for another reply.
All right. Coming up, ISIS claiming responsibility for last night's deadly bombing in Baghdad. It is now marking the third terror attack on civilians in less than a week. The latest on the war on terror next.
[14:15:53] WHITFIELD: ISIS is now claiming responsibility for one of two devastating attacks overnight in Baghdad. At least 126 people were killed in all in two separate car bombings. The attack happened in a busy shopping area in central Baghdad as people were breaking their fast on one of the last days of Ramadan. This is the third major terror attack claimed by ISIS in the past
week. First last week's shooting and bombing at the Istanbul airport killing 44 people. Two days later civilians taken hostage at a cafe in Bangladesh, 20 were killed. And now Iraq.
But we got full coverage for you. Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is following the biggest attack there in Iraq. Nima Elbagir is in Istanbul, Turkey. Also with me is CNN military analyst lieutenant colonel Rick Francona. He is a former U.S. military attache in the Middle East.
All right, Ben, let me begin with you. If you can tell us more about the neighborhoods targeted in these attacks in Baghdad.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, the major attack happened right in Karaga (ph). It is right the middle of the center of Baghdad. There were hundreds of people out on the street shopping, strolling, going to cafes, really just doing what normally people do on a hot summer's night in Baghdad when we believe a truck bomb went off at about midnight. Not only the blast causing huge damage, but it set fire to many of the buildings around it. We understand that people are still being pulled out of the ruins. According to the Iraqi police, among the 125 dead they say are at least 25 children and 25 women.
Now, when the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went to the scene to inspect the damage, many people very angry at the fact that once again security has failed in Baghdad. They essentially drove him out of the area pelting him, his car and his entourage with rocks and bottles - Fred.
WHITFIELD: And, Ben, the White House has now issued a statement on today's bombings there in Iraq saying this, these attacks only strengthen our resolve to support Iraqi security forces as they continue to take back territory from ISIL.
So, Colonel Francona, you know, Iraqi forces just took back the city of Fallujah which is only about 50 miles down the road from Baghdad. Are people seeing this bombing as a form of retaliation of sorts for what has been taking place there?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I think so. And also it's kind of surprising to many of us that they were able to mount this attack after being driven out of Fallujah because we believed that many of the previous attacks had been staged out of Fallujah. I think the Iraqi government was hoping if they cleared Anbar province, not you know, Ramadi and Fallujah, that that would cut down on the amount of violence in Baghdad. Because, you know, the people of Baghdad are more concerned about their own security than what's going to happen several months from now for the liberation of Mosul.
So the Iraqi government, Haider al-Abadi they have got to get a handle on this or his government will fall.
WHITFIELD: And then Nima there in Istanbul, Turkey, just days after that deadly, you know, attack there. Now we understand that some 13 of 27 suspects rounded up in connection to that airport, you know, shooting and bombing investigation are in court today. So what's expected in that kind of legal proceeding?
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the expectation is that the judge will decide whether or not they can now be formally arrested, and that will give the authorities a sense whether this line of investigation, whether these people are the ones that they want. But just in terms of the bigger picture in terms of the week that we're having in this ISIS fight back, what's really interesting is how many of these are Turks. Only three of those arrested so far are foreigners. And given that the attackers themselves are believed to have been foreigners, this gives you a sense about the fears here of the homegrown terror network and the way that ISIS is coalescing those two strands, the foreign fighters with the local support base and how this plays in to ISIS' bigger picture plan, which is to give this perception that they do still matter. That they are still able to carry out these attacks whether in Baghdad, Bangladesh or Istanbul. And Turkish sources that we have been speaking to acknowledge to us that if you want to hit western targets, it's always going to be easier to hit Turkey, to hit west in targets to it. The airport inside Turkey than it is to hit a Paris or Brussels again. And that is why they believe that ISIS is in an active state of recruitment here, Fred, to play into that bigger push to reassert that their brand still matters to the wider world.
[14:20:47] WHITFIELD: And Colonel, you know, Nima has just touched on a number of things there, you know, talking about ISIS and its relevancy, trying to show its power. And when we talk about Bangladesh and even Turkey, as she said, using homegrown people who are less than suspecting to carry out these attacks. I mean, this is strategy that is leading to very sizable results for ISIS in all of these places. How big of a problem is that for counterterrorism?
FRANCONA: Well, I think it's going to be a much bigger problem than it is now. As we see ISIS losing territory in Syria and Iraq, and that's inevitable, that eventually they are going to get kicked out of Iraq, hopefully out of Syria. They have got to go somewhere. They are looking for somewhere to go. They are looking for how the organization will be structured after that.
These are smart people, and they are looking forward to what they are going to have to do. We see them moving to Libya, looking for other failed states and striking out all over the area and seeking the recruits. And although we have seen some decline in recruitment, they are still drawing new recruits to their cause.
WHITFIELD: So then, Ben, is that the case though in Iraq? Are these Iraqis or are these people from -- who have been training in Syria who have made their way across the border into Iraq carrying out the attacks?
WEDEMAN: Well, there are non-Iraqi, Arab, and foreign elements involved in the fighting in Iraq with ISIS, but by and large, many of them are Iraqis. Don't forget that ISIS, many of its commanders are former officers from the army from intelligence of the fallen regime of Saddam Hussein. And when you are talking about the changes on the ground, for instance in Iraq I just got back from Baghdad. The feeling was getting rather upbeat. The Iraqi government, ordinary Iraqis have been saying, look, we have driven ISIS out of Ramadi, out of Fallujah, out of Tikrit, out of (INAUDIBLE), it did appear, it does appear, in fact, it is the fair fact that ISIS is on the run in Iraq. And, therefore, if you're putting yourself in the mind of ISIS, what better way to strike back at this time when they are losing ground steadily, losing hundreds of men in this fight than to strike back in the heart of Baghdad in an area where there are hundreds of innocent civilians and, thereby, causing this crisis for the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Those scenes were angry Iraqis are chasing the Prime Minister out of their neighborhood after this attack are a bonanza for the propagandists who are working for ISIS -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ben Wedeman, Nima Elbagir, and Colonel Rick Francona, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.
When we come back, the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server may be nearing an end and the timing is crucial as the decision could come just days possibly ahead of the Democratic National Convention. Stay with us.
[14:26:42] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
In as little as two weeks, sources tell CNN the investigation plaguing the Hillary Clinton campaign could be over. Clinton voluntarily met with the FBI for three-and-a-half hours Saturday. Source tell CNN the expectation is that there will be an announcement of no charges in her use of a private email server as long as no evidence of wrongdoing emerges from that interview.
Attorney general Loretta Lynch says she will accept whatever recommendation the FBI and prosecutors make. This follows Lynch's brief meeting with former president Bill Clinton prompting allegations of a conflict of interest. Hillary Clinton was asked if the meeting was a mistake, and this said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Well, I think, you know, hind side is 20/20, both the attorney general and my husband have said that they wouldn't do it again.
CHUCK TODD, HOST, MEET THE PRESS: Were you given that indication today that no charges would be filed, and are you confident no charges will be filed?
CLINTON: Chuck, I am not going to comment on the process. I have no knowledge of any time line. This is entirely up to the department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now, CNN investigations correspondent Chris Frates. So, Chris, well, there are sources that are saying this really could
be wrapping up. It had been made very clear that her interview would be that kind of final stage, but how confident should the Clinton campaign feel that the outcome will be in her favor?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, that's what our sources are showing us. But as is not a surprise to you, Fred, the Republicans are still pouncing all over this regardless of what the outcome is going to be. And that's t not surprising, right? If you have a presumptive Democratic nominee who sits down with the FBI for three-and-a-half hours, you're going to make some political hay out of that.
We heard from Donald Trump yesterday who made the argument that it would be impossible for the FBI not to charge Hillary Clinton. The RNC said, you know, she was trying to skirt transparency laws and all the Republicans seem to key in on that meeting between President Clinton and Loretta Lynch on Monday where their planes were on the same tarmac in Phoenix. Bill Clinton popped over to Loretta Lynch's plane to make what everybody describes as a social call, but Republicans really jumped on the meeting to say, you know, here you have Hillary Clinton's husband talking to the same official who is overseeing the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. That's not right. In fact, Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, made that case today. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: I think the events of the last week though do call into question attorney general Lynch's judgment in taking a private meeting with Bill Clinton. I think it was very unwise of her to take the meeting, very unwise of him to seek the meeting. And since she has not fully recused herself from this decision, I think it raises questions about political interference in this investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRATES: Now, you are going to continue to hear that again no matter what happens in this investigation. Republicans have said, you know, that Loretta Lynch for a number of reasons, one, because she was appointed by President Obama to the attorney general's office, and President Obama out there campaigning for Hillary Clinton.
[14:29:54] Two, because President Bill Clinton made her a U.S. Attorney in New York. That all those ties, all those friendships call into question her ability to be impartial. Now she says she'll accept whatever the career prosecutors and the FBI recommended in this case and, you know, and apologized and said it was a mistake to meet with Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton camp yesterday say, it was a mistake. They wouldn't do it again.
But this is certainly something you will going to continue to see from Republicans and as far as this investigation goes, Fred, it looks like we're expecting that we should see some kind of decision within the next couple of weeks, but always important caveat here, we expected that this would be wrapped up long before now. So there could be some surprises left in store -- Fred.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Right. And still lots of critics saying, you know, even if Loretta Lynch is just reviewing, that kind of abdicates her role as the U.S. Attorney General. I mean, that job would mean that you would have some input on an investigation like this. So, still lots of unanswered questions. Still lots of criticism coming in all directions.
All right. Chris Frates, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
FRATES: You're welcome.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, numb chucks, swords, ladders, don't even think about it. But your loaded gun, well, that's just fine to bring. The dos and don'ts surrounding the Republican National Convention events. Next.
[14:34:12] WHITFIELD: All right. Hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
GOP delegates so worried about their state. They say they will be bringing guns to the Republican convention later on this month. They say violent protests at Trump rallies and the threat of terror attacks are enough to convince them to take their safety into their own hands.
CNN White House producer Kristen Holmes talked to one of those delegates and she's joining us right now live from Washington. Good to see you, Kristen. So, they can't bring guns into the convention hall but it doesn't necessarily apply to all the surrounding events?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, that's exactly right. You know, the U.S. Secret Service, they told us that, there is a secure perimeter and that is as you mentioned to the arena and the immediate surrounding areas, but anything outside of that, Secret Service says they're deferring to Ohio state laws. Now, Ohio is an open carry state which means that people who have legally purchased firearms can carry them in any public area, parks, streets, outside of that secure perimeter.
Now, in that area there will be events. There are also designated protest areas within there. So as you mentioned, I did speak with a Pennsylvania delegate, James Klein, who said he and his wife will both be taking firearms to protect themselves from violence that he's seen at rallies as well as possible terrorist threats. Here is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES KLEIN, PENNSYLVANIA GOP DELEGATES, 5TH DISTRICT: There were violent activities at Trump rallies. Later, of course, there has been a lot of activity by ISIS, and in all candor, this adds a level of seriousness to the threat. I would think that this would be a big target. Clearly, they're not afraid of dying. In fact, they seek death, but I was elected to go, and that is my duty, and I cannot -- I can't be intimidated. I can't allow myself to be intimidated and to betray the people who elected me. If the police handle it right, if there's nothing that happens, even greater. But I think that none of us can really count on nothing happening ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And, Fred, I did push him on that asking him if he was concerned at all about potentially mixing people who were armed with unarmed civilians and protesters, and he said that he was trained and would not use lethal force unless it was necessary.
WHITFIELD: Okay. And so, Kristen, to underscore, you know, there is a list of what you can, what you can't bring, you know, into this area. These are items that are banned from the Republican National Convention. Swords, switch blades, nunchakus, you know, hatchets, drones, fireworks, containers of things, glass bottles, lasers, ladders. I mean, it's a very peculiar list. What's behind this?
HOLMES: Oh, yes. I mean, also on the list was sleeping bags, tennis balls, pieces of rope or tape that we are over a certain length there. You know, and these were set by the Republican National Committee. Now, when we did ask again the Secret Service about this and as well as the Republican National Committee, they are deferring us to Ohio State Law, which just says that when it comes to guns, they will let it be an open carry state, and they are allowing firearms, but they aren't allowing as you mentioned, sleeping bags, tennis balls, glass bottles, anything that can be thrown. You know, and again, those aren't things you need a license to have whereas a firearm they do, you know, you do need a license to have.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kristen Holmes. Thanks so much from Washington. I appreciate it.
HOLMES: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring back now, Democratic strategist Kim Kessler, who is a former policy director for the group Americans for gun safety. And Scottie Nell Hughes, political editor for RightAlerts.com and Donald Trump supporter and a gun owner as well.
All right. Good to see you both. OK. So, what about this list? This is a very unusual list. Scottie, how will this be interpreted?
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, POLITICAL EDITOR, RIGHTALERTS.COM: Well, this is a very hard issue for me, I'll be honest with you. Not only going to my third RNC and knowing the chaos and commotion that goes into. The typical political convention but also this year my family will be attending as members and delegates themselves. So this is very hard for me to sit there and say when emotions are so high on the inside, you know, a bunch of people having, you know, firearms, kind of scares me.
I'm one of those that usually believe in a case like this, it's best to leave it to law enforcement. But on the outside, however, is where I believe where most people are afraid of the danger after looking at the rallies of San Bernardino. And we already know that there's going to be some very large, very contested protests like always, and so, you know --
[14:39:17] WHITFIELD: But there are also, there will be reinforcements of security, and that should be the reassurance, would it not, particularly outside the perimeter at these other, you know, events, and doesn't that send a message enough to people that they should feel safe and secure? They don't necessarily have to be prepared to take matters into their own hands?
HUGHES: Well, absolutely. But here is the thing. First of all, I like the idea of surprise where people do not know whether or not these folks are carrying. I myself, my husband, we're both conceal carry handguns owners. People will not know whether or not we'll bringing our -- we're actually going to have a gun on us or if we'll going to have any sort of weapon. I do think this is where the governors of these states could step up and help alleviate it and by saying, you know what, we're going to send protection, we're going to send state troopers, we're going to send state protection for these delegations and I believe it should be at the Republican Party and Democrat Party both. And I think if we sat there and overwhelmingly show there's law enforcements protecting these delegates as they go from event to event, I think that will help subdue some of this fear that might be happening within the delegations.
WHITFIELD: OK. Arming one's self not only top of mind at the conventions but we're also talking on Capitol Hill. In fact this week the House is set to vote on a GOP sponsored gun bill but the Democrats oppose it. Among the key provisions are the Department of Justice would have three days approved whether a suspected terrorist should be allowed to own a gun. It would require homeland security to step up its efforts against radical terrorism and it would revoke U.S. passports from members of designated terror organizations.
So, Jim, what is the mindset of why some Democrats would be against this and, of course, many Republicans for it?
JIM KESSLER, CO-FOUNDER, THIRD WAY: Well, first of all, let's just say thank goodness that the Republican convention is outlawing water pistols because I think that's the thing that we really need to worry about here. Look, there's a bill being brought to the House floor. There was a sit-in by Democrats demanding a vote on guns after Orlando. Speaker Paul Ryan had a choice of either caving to Democrats or caving to the National Rifle Association. He's trying to do a little bit of both. This is a National Rifle Association-backed bill. It is completely unworkable. That's what law enforcement says. It's --
WHITFIELD: What part of it being unworkable? I mean, clearly both sides are saying they want to do something, but they can't come together on what that thing is. So why is this unworkable to a law enforcement?
KESSLER: OK. Both sides want to do something, but Republicans who are in control want to do something that also gets the sign off for the National Rifle Association, and that is proving to be an impossible task. So the only thing that they're doing is a scheme to basically kill first and then deny the gun later. You know, you have to prove that the person is a terrorist before that person is denied a gun where the other lists are these are folks that are suspected terrorists.
That was what the bill was in the Senate that was a bipartisan bill, and then if you are denied a firearm because you are on one of these two pretty discrete watch lists, you can at that point appeal that decision. But this one they have to prove first and they have three days to prove that when somebody is going to buy a gun that they are, in fact, terrorists. I mean, who are we kidding? That is not going to work.
WHITFIELD: So, Scottie, is that underscoring that criticism that, you know, the Republicans are too much in the pocket of the NRA, unwilling to do something until the NRA endorses or gives the thumbs up on a measure?
HUGHES: No. I think this is Republicans actually working with Democrats and not acting like children and throwing a temper tantrum in a sit-in on the floor. I think this is actually great for Paul Ryan to do because for Republicans, this is a question about constitutional rights and a due process. And it should be a no- brainer since we are the majority. So, if they do pass it, they say, listen, we are trying to make a difference, we are trying to stop terrorists from getting guns in their hands.
And I think Democrats should recognize that and at least take the step to work with them on it, and you can always encourage that increase as need be but let's get something on the books and the Republicans at least are saying, listen, you're either going to stand and you're going to help us keep these guns out of terrorists' hands or you're going to sit there and do a sit-in on the floor just to get whatever provisions that we want that take away the due process and constitutional rights as we think here in America.
WHITFIELD: All right.
KESSLER: It's pretty simple. The Second Amendment either extends to terrorist or it does not. Democrats think it does not. Republicans aren't really sure.
HUGHES: We're talking about international terrorism but that's another conversation.
WHITFIELD: All right. And another conversation. Scottie, you know many would take issue with the temper tantrum and the fact that protest is as American as apple pie.
HUGHES: Yes, but there's rules that are involved in the House right here and why are you going to sit there and reward children that throw a temper tantrum and not expect them to do it again for every other issue they don't get their way on.
KESSLER: There's no water pistols.
HUGHES: There you go. That we can agree on. No water pistols on the Congressional floor.
WHITFIELD: All right. Scottie Nell Hughes, Jim Kessler, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
KESSLER: Thank you.
[14:44:12] WHITFIELD: All right. Of course we're also continuing to monitor a situation developing right now in New York City. The bomb squad is on a scene there in Central Park after an explosion injured one person. Police are still trying to figure out what caused the explosion. Could fireworks this holiday weekend have anything to do with it? A teenager is in surgery we understand after part of his leg was severed in that blast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA BORDEN, WITNESS: I have no idea what it was. It sounded like a cannon. So that's why I thought it was like a Fourth of July thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. The around the incident still closed, but the rest of the park remains open to the public. Much more right after this.
[14:48:00] WHITFIELD: A toxic algae is covering parts of Florida, and it's caused by a polluted discharge from the Lake Okeechobee. The army corps of engineers is diverting the water on purpose to protect nearby towns from flooding, but as it flows downstream, that water picks up pollutants from agricultural land, and that creates the giant dangerous mess that is this algae bloom.
Joining us right now on the phone is environmentalist Maggy Hurchalla and a former Martin County commissioner, one of the affected counties. So, Maggie, glad you could be with us. What's your reaction to what is taking place with this algae bloom that seems to have taken over a number of waterways, estuaries, et cetera?
MAGGY HURCHALLA, ENVIRONMENTALIST (on the phone): I know it sounds melodramatic but I don't think anybody who has seen it has any reaction other than absolute horror.
WHITFIELD: And how did this happen? We hear there is a -- the plan of correcting this potential overflow of Lake Okeechobee, is at the root of this problem, but would an environmentalist or wouldn't the army corps of engineers or wouldn't anyone would been able to anticipate that this might be the result of releasing this water?
HURCHALLA: This is the way the system was built with the State of Florida and the federal government agreed to 50 years ago. It was built to do this, and, yes, you could foresee that we were going to have increasing number of algae blooms. The more phosphorous is in the lake, the warmer the water is, the more sunshine there is, the more likely you get a bloom. This year we have analogy bloom in Lake Okeechobee that is toxic. That has the highest level of toxins that they have ever tested before and it's 100 square miles. They were dumping it on the East Coast --
WHITFIELD: And so was it toxic before it was being released?
HURCHALLA: They're releasing it on the East Coast and the West Coast because they don't have anything else to do with it.
WHITFIELD: So what's the answer here? Because now you've got a giant problem, a giant growing problem of these toxic algae that is suffocating wildlife, bird life, marine life. What can be done at this point to correct it, fix it, stop it?
HURCHALLA: First of all, if we could come back later to we're not just talking about the fact that we're spiraling into a massive fish kill in Martin County and on the West Coast estuary. That's the next step after the algae blooms. It dies. You get a fish kill.
HURCHALLA: But we're talking about human health. This is Florida's Flint, Michigan. You can no longer pretend that we're adequately protecting the public from that toxic algae. But what do we do about it? We have known since 2000 when Congress first approved the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration plan that we need to buy land south of the lake, treat the water, and send it south to Everglades National Park in Florida Bay.
WHITFIELD: So, when you make a comparison to this is Florida's Flint, Michigan, do you also feel that this is criminal?
HURCHALLA: Not yet. Let's give them a little time to look at the fact that there is growing evidence nationally and internationally that cyanobacteria which is what this stuff is, doesn't produce just one toxin. It produces a half a dozen toxins. One of those toxins has been identified in an increasing number of scientific studies as causing ALS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. I realize that sounds like chicken little. I realize it sounds overdramatic.
Look at the evidence. We are the poster child for something that's happening as we get global warming, as we get increased fertilizer in our waterways, that's happening all over the world, and we need to find out what the effects of it are and we need to be able to warn the public about it. You're talking about something that's going to have an effect 30 years from now. We can't wait 30 years for that to happen.
WHITFIELD: So then short term, Maggy, real quick then, you mentioned that expect fish kills. That is, you know, we're on the precipice of that right now, but short term, is there anything that can be done to stop the growth to kill the bacteria right now to potentially save the lives of humans, the economies of many, the lives of any wildlife?
HURCHALLA: As far as I know, and I have listened to a whole bunch of different ideas, if you kill the algae, it then releases the toxin to the water, it releases the nutrients in the sediments and it does it all over again. So there is no easy answer other than the fact that we are pleading with the corps of engineers and they have been somewhat responsive that we need at least a break for the Eastern and Western estuaries, to give them time for some relief from this massive flow of algae.
The second short-term is that we have a plan which is the Everglades Restoration plan. We need to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee so we can store and treat and convey this cell, and we have the money and the amendment one, that 75 percent of Floridians voted for, and we have an option with U.S. sugar to buy 150,000 acres. We need to do that and we need to do it now.
WHITFIELD: Very fascinating and very complicated. Maggy Hurchalla, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.
HURCHALLA: Okay. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
[14:56:25] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. The Fourth of July holiday weekend is traditionally one of Chicago's most violent of the year. So far there has been one fatality and 21 people have been shot. Another person was stabbed to death.
Ryan Young has more.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the continuing images of crime scene tape and grieving in the city that earned the nickname Chirac, Chicago police are trying to avoid a repeat of last year's holiday weekend bloodshed. Halfway through the year, the city is on pace to blow past last year's murder rate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, the crime in Chicago is just totally unacceptable. It's ridiculous.
YOUNG: Last month a bullet struck a three-year-old boy's side as he sat in his father's car leaving him paralyzed. A few days later a four-year-old boy holding his mother's hand felt blood pouring down his face after he got shot in the face. He survived, but the children are just the latest innocent victims of Chicago's continuing violence. In the month of June, 72 people were killed with a total of 429 shooting victims. One recent shooting took place near downtown in front of several people getting off the subway. The Fourth of July weekend was one of the deadliest of the summer last year. At least nine people were killed. Over 50 more were injured in shootings. Heading to this year's long holiday weekend, more tough talk from police.
EDDIE JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO POLICE: Repeat gun offenders are telling us that they're not going to stop their behavior unless we stop them, and so that's what we're going to do. We're going to stop them. YOUNG: Police say 5,000 officers will be on the streets over the
holiday weekend helping to protect big events, but the south and west side neighborhoods of the city are where the bulk of the murders and shootings are happening, but just look at the numbers so far and the increase in violence is easy to see. This year through the end of June, there were 315 murders. Over 100 more than the same period last year and more than 700 more shooting victims recorded through the first six months of this year according to the Chicago Police Department. Windy City residents can only still hope for some winds of change to help blow away a crime problem that only seems to be getting worse.
Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.