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Time Warner Rebuffs Bid; Border Fix; Gaza Clash Joins Ongoing Tensions in Iraq, Syria and Libya; Preteens Turn Viral Video into Record Deal

Aired July 16, 2014 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Welcome back.

Dick Cheney has challenged President Obama's handling of everything from the Middle East to the border crisis. But on whether Mr. Obama should be impeached, Cheney told CNN's Jake Tapper, no.


JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, CNN'S "THE LEAD": Your successor as vice president nominee in 2008, Sarah Palin, recently called for the impeachment of President Obama. What do you think about that?

DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not prepared at this point to call for the impeachment of the president. I think he is the worst president in my lifetime. I fundamentally disagree with him. I think he's doing a lot of things wrong. I'm glad to see that the House Republicans are challenging him, at least legally at this point. But I think that gets to be a bit of a distraction, just like the impeachment of Bill Clinton did. Everybody could get geared up to have a big fight over it, but it wasn't going any place. And I think at this point that we've got - we've got to aggressively pursue sound policies, we've got to advocate those things we believe in and we think they're vital to the future of the republic.


COSTELLO: Cheney also defended the Bush administration's actions in Iraq saying it left behind a stable country and that the blame for the current crisis rests on the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki and President Obama.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

COSTELLO: All right, more on our breaking news this morning. Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is rebuffing a multibillion dollar takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch owns media powerhouses like 21st Century Fox, as well as networks like Fox News. CNN Money's Cristina Alesci is following the story for us.

Cristina, tell us more. CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Time Warner has come

out with a pretty strong statement rejecting the offer or basically publicizing that it had rejected the offer. The statement says, "the board is confident that continuing to execute its strategic plan will significantly generate value for the company and its shareholders and its superior to any proposal that 21st Century Fox is in a position to offer."

Obviously, they also point out a lot of complications around this deal. It is a - it is a big deal. You're talking about execution risk of combining two major media companies. There's always going to be complications around that.

Also, not part of the official release, but in general when you talk about these mega deals, you know, there are questions about whether or not the buyer is in a position to really finance these kinds of large transactions. And then you have the regulatory, you know, overhang on this deal when you - when you talk about consolidating two huge content providers, regulators are going to take a hard look at it. Nonetheless, Time Warner shares are rallying on the news this morning. They're up about 16 percent. That means that investors do see some kind of hope of a deal here.

COSTELLO: OK. Hope of a deal. I was just going to ask you, is there -- I know it's a very strongly-worded statement, but you know the business world and what can happen.

ALESCI: Yes, absolutely. And for Fox, actually, it does make a lot of sense. You know, Fox wants to get more leverage with the distribution side of the house. The distribution side of the industry actually has been coming together and they've been gaining more power. You know, with this deal right now on the table between Time Cast and Time Warner Cable, which does not have an affiliation with Time Warner, that gives the distributors a lot of power. And want the content companies would like to do is to maintain some of that power and they can do that by coming together. And this has been talked about a lot amongst bankers and lawyers and industry executives, the wave of content M&A coming to the forefront.

COSTELLO: All right, Cristina Alesci, thank you so much.

I'm back in a minute.


COSTELLO: Jose Antonio Vargas, perhaps the most famous illegal immigrant living in America, is a free man, at least for now. The undocumented immigrant journalist and activist has been released after being briefly detained by border control at a Texas airport on Tuesday, admitting to officials that he did not have a visa to be in this country legally. This is what Vargas told CNN earlier.


JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS (voice-over): Well, what happened is, you know, like I was boarding - I was trying to board a plane to go to L.A. and actually to visit my family and then it went by pretty fast, getting handcuffed after they asked me about my passport and then being taken to a border patrol station. And it was interesting because, you know, I came down here on Thursday, this past Thursday, because I really wanted to kind of chronicle what's happening with the humanitarian crisis, particularly with the kids, and I ended up being at the border patrol station, where many of these unaccompanied Central America minors were actually also being detained. So that was really surreal and kind of ironic.


COSTELLO: And it's not over yet. Vargas faces a hearing before an immigration judge. We do not know when that's scheduled for. But when we find out, of course, we'll cover it for you.

Miles away from the Texas border, Congress is attempting to reach common ground on the immigration crisis. Today, Senate Democrats will have a closed door briefing with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, while members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus hold their own meeting with White House officials. And those meetings come as Politico reports House Republicans may vote as early as next week on their own bill.

Joining me now, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Ana Navarro and Republican Congressman Bill Flores of Texas.

Welcome to both of you.


REP. BILL FLORES (R), TEXAS: Good morning, Carol.

COSTELLO: Good morning.

Congressman Flores, I know Republicans are working on a new bill. We already know the Cornyn-Cuellar Bill is kind of dead in the Senate. Lawmakers now have 11 days to come up with a solution. I'm willing to bet you, congressman, nothing concerning immigration will get through Congress. Do you care to make that bet with me?

FLORES: Well, Carol, I would actually disagree with you. I think that we, in Congress, view this as a humanitarian crisis, a security cries and a health care crisis and we need to -- if we need to stay past July, we should stay past July to address this important issue for the American people. So - so, in short, yes, I would take that bet.

COSTELLO: You would take - it just seems like everybody's working on their own bill and nobody's really working together.

FLORES: Well, that's fairly common in Congress. I mean everybody has a different idea as to how we can best address this issue. And so, I mean, there are certain key things (ph) that we know we have to work on and I think over time you'll see these - they'll gel together with a solution that gives at least a majority in each of the House and in the Senate 80 percent or 90 percent of what they want. COSTELLO: So, Ana, you're a Republican strategist. You know the game.

Will all of these ideas gel into one bill that everybody can vote yes on?

NAVARRO: Look, I think at least some temporary measures, even if it's for a few months, need to pass and will pass because there are -- there's a lot of public pressure on Congress right now and on the administration to address this. It's an issue that's an emergency issue that has gotten a lot of media coverage. I think they are hearing from their constituents. I think it's going to be hard for people like Representative Flores and other members of the Texas delegation, of the Arizona delegation and all over the country to go back home for a one month recess without having addressed what is a very urgent need. And I think people in Congress feel that, as does the administration. It's important that the administration is spending the time this week to brief Congress on the data, which has been very fuzzy. I think that when they understand all the push and pull factors that are making this perfect political storm, that there might be some meeting of the minds and some actual result out of Congress.

COSTELLO: Oh, I really - and, congressman, you said that you are willing to stay into your August recess if nothing gets done in the month of July?

FLORES: That's correct. I have a lot of work to do with my constituents in August, but I'm more than willing to stay here and address this crisis. And, really, I think many of my colleagues are as well. And I fully agree with Ana's assessment of this situation. It is too critical to allow the failed policies to continue. We've got to fix the policies and to address this humanitarian health and security crisis.

COSTELLO: Ana, I wanted to ask you about these protests throughout the country, blocking buses carrying undocumented kids to places willing to house them. What are your thoughts on that? Is the one in --

NAVARRO: It breaks my heart.

COSTELLO: It breaks your heart.

NAVARRO: I've got to tell you, Carol, it makes me cringe. It breaks my heart. I think - I think that's not at all what America is about. And I fear when it becomes this vitriolic, when the debate becomes this angry. And, you know, and I also kind of put myself in the shoes of those kids and think about what those kids, some of whom have been on the road trying to get here for three weeks, four weeks, gone through God knows what. We know some of them get raped. We know some of them get abused on the way over here and they finally make it here. We know we're sending them back. But do we have to scream vitriolic offenses at them while they're here? You know, so I - it really breaks my heart.

I think we are a nation that is compassionate, that is empathetic, that can understand some of these people are fleeing really God awful conditions, violence, poverty, just terrible conditions. And I - you know, let's be that compassionate America that has always been part of our history. Even though we're sending those kids back, is it - you know, the days that they're here, must we treat them this way?

COSTELLO: Congressman Flores, do sights like that break your heart as well?

FLORES: Well, they do. And I think their -- I agree fully with Ana. But I -- we have to put ourselves in the shoes of those children. We also need to put our shoes in the -- ourselves in the shoes of a frustrated constituency in this country that sees laws being broken, that sees the actions of the administration that caused this crisis to happen and so we need to understand their frustration.


COSTELLO: But the scene -- but the scene in Oracle, Arizona, no laws were being broken. These kids were taken to a place that was willing to accept them. No laws were being broken.

FLORES: Well, the laws that are being broken go further back than that. And they're the reason that these unaccompanied minors are here to start with. The one is the president's deferred action memo of 2012 and then the way he's enforced the 2008 trafficking act. If he would follow -- if he had not done the deferred action memo and had forced the 2008 trafficking law the way it's supposed to be we wouldn't have put up a big sign at the border says come north, we're going to feed you and house you and give you citizenship, and let you stay for the rest of your lives.

COSTELLO: So how is this 2008 law is supposed to work then? Because these children have a right to hearing, correct?

FLORES: Well, they do but for --

COSTELLO: According to this law.

FLORES: If they are unaccompanied. But a large percentage of these children coming over, just under 50 percent, are coming over with adults. They don't have the right to stay here. They should turn around and sent back.

NAVARRO: So Carol --

FLORES: And so that would greatly reduce the headcount.

NAVARRO: Carol, I think it's important to put that 2008 law into context. The 2008 law was an amendment by Senator Diane Feinstein and it was to help protect the victims of human trafficking so that they wouldn't be immediately repatriated and fall again immediately into the hands of the human traffickers that had abused them in the first place. I think there was never any intent or any thought that it would result in this.

And I also think there's just not one cause to this problem, it's broken systems in Central America, it's broken economic systems, broken government, it's violence, it's gang organizations. But more than anything, it is a criminal organization of human smugglers taking advantage and misrepresenting U.S. policy in Central America and making these parents believe that for $6,000, $7,000 their kids can come here and have a free pass.

That's just what's happening. So those are all the things we have to address. We can't just address one thing or this problem will really never end.

COSTELLO: So Congressman --

FLORES: Ana is exactly correct.

COSTELLO: It's in your hands. Thank you so much, Ana Navarro, Congressman Bill Flores.

FLORES: Yes, ma'am.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

COSTELLO: I'm back in a moment.

FLORES: Great to be with you today.


COSTELLO: The clashes in Gaza joining ongoing tensions in Iraq, Syria, and Libya have some asking is the world less safe? Is the United States making the right choices in terms of our response?

Chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto has the answers.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Gaza, hopes for an immediate ceasefire today up in smoke even before it started.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There are great risks in what is happening there and in the potential of an even greater escalation of violence.

SCIUTTO: It's a statement that could describe an entire region mired in conflict. From Gaza to Libya to Iraq and Syria.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I would argue that given conditions in the Middle East this might be more dangerous than at any time in the past.

SCIUTTO: In Libya, warring militias bombarded Tripoli's airport as the government considers asking for international troops. In Iraq, politicians took a first step towards a new government even as ISIS militants bulldozed barriers along the Iraq/Syria border and celebrated the takeover of Iraqi government buildings. And in neighboring Syria, ISIS is flourishing as the civil war rages on. With the U.N. now urgently sending in humanitarian aid.

This week the White House raised eyebrows seeming to claim broad foreign policy victories in the region. JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There have been a number

of situation from which you've seen this administration intervene in a meaningful way that has substantially furthered American interests and substantially improved the -- you know, the tranquility of the -- of the global community.

SCIUTTO: Today the administration insisted it is engaged diplomatically.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: This is not an administration or a secretary that rests. The fact is there are a range of factors happening in the world that are not caused by the United States but the United States remains engaged in because we care about the stability in the region, as well.


SCIUTTO: Of course, the other major U.S. foreign policy in the region now the nuclear talks with Iran. The deadline for a long-term agreement is this Saturday, that appears very unlikely to be met. Secretary Kerry said that the two sides have made, quote, "tangible progress but significant gaps remain."

He has now returned to Washington to discuss next steps, including the possible extension of talks. But, Carol, I've also spoken to Iranian officials including their deputy foreign minister, Majid Ravanchi. He's very much involved in the talks. He told me the following. "We are in the middle of negotiations now and are still aiming to reach a deal by the deadline of July 20th. But if they cannot get a deal by then, we will decide on July 20th how long we need to extend the agreement reached in Geneva last November,

So, Carol, he's still sounding something of a hopeful note there but most of the officials I am talking to do not expect agreement really now just a question of how long they extend the talks to see if they can reach a longer-term deal.


Jim Sciutto, thanks.

I'm back in a minute.


COSTELLO: Move over, Metallica because these middle-schoolers are gunning for you.

Fantastic, right? But I bet your eighth grade band didn't sound like this. This band is called Unlocking the Truth, a trio of Brooklyn middle schoolers who just inked a record deal with Sony that could earn them as much as $1.7 million.

We're joined by the band now. Guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse, drummer Jarad Dawkins and bassist Alec Atkins.

Welcome to all of you.


COSTELLO: Hello. You guys are fantastic.

Malcolm, do you have any concept of how much money $1.7 million is?


COSTELLO: It is a lot of money. Do you guys care at this point, Jarad, or is it just so exciting that you have this record deal you can't think about anything else?

JARAD DAWKINS, DRUMMER, UNLOCKING THE TRUTH: It is exciting. I'm very excited for all of us and we finally got where we need to be, and hopefully one day we'll have a record out.

COSTELLO: Well, tell us how you were discovered, Jarad. How did this come to be, this deal?

DAWKINS: Well, we started posting videos up on YouTube to get exposure from the Internet because the Internet is one big source that all artists uses, and we used that source to like gain fans and publicity from all around the world, and just one video went viral, and everybody just started contacting us and we got more gigs and more gigs and we became bigger and bigger.

COSTELLO: Well, you're unbelievably talented.

But, Alec, I just wondered why heavy metal?

ALEC ATKINS, BASSIST, UNLOCKING THE TRUTH: Heavy metal is different from what other people are doing and heavy metal is what interests us right now.

COSTELLO: And I understand you actually went from playing in Times Square, because I know you played on the street a lot, right, but you actually opened for Guns N' Roses. What was that like?

ATKINS: It was very exciting because they are a legendary band and for us to be opening up for them was good exposure and also just a good feeling.

COSTELLO: Yes, great feeling. So, Jarad, what are your hopes and dreams? What is the ultimate goal?

DAWKINS: The ultimate goal is to get our music out in the world and share it to people that really need it, and hopefully it will be helpful to those that really need it, and also a dream for us is to headline our own tours and make more records, sell more records. What else?


ATKINS: Become one of the biggest heavy metal bands out there. DAWKINS: Yes. Become one of the biggest heavy metal bands out here.

COSTELLO: That's what I wanted to hear. Absolutely.

DAWKINS: The top 40, everything.

COSTELLO: So are you guys going to add a singer?

BRICKHOUSE: I am the singer.

COSTELLO: Oh, you do sing. See, I looked at all your videos online and I didn't see you singing.

BRICKHOUSE: Yes, you can find a video of me singing at Coachella.

COSTELLO: OK. Gotcha. I heard you in the background and all these people were in front of you so I couldn't actually see you but I guess I did hear you.

So when do you guys go into the recording studio and start recording your first album?

BRICKHOUSE: Later this July.

COSTELLO: And do you have all the songs written?


COSTELLO: Really? Who writes the songs? Who is the song writer?

BRICKHOUSE: Mainly I write the riff or Alex writes a riff, and Jarad comes up with a drum beat and then we make the lyrics at the end.

COSTELLO: Well, you guys are fantastic and congratulations.

We're talking to members of Unlocking the Truth, Malcolm Brickhouse, Jarad Dawkins and Alex Atkins.

Soon your names will be famous, I'm sure, and thank you so much for joining me this morning.