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Police Helicopter Footage From The Night Stephon Clark Was Shot And Killed; Police In Baton Rouge, Louisiana Have Just Released Graphic Body Cam Footage Showing Alton Sterling's Final Moments; EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Is In The Hot Seat; President Trump Escalating His Attacks On Amazon Today With A String Of Inaccurate Statements; White House Office Responsible For Recruiting And Vetting Thousands Of Political Appointees Has Suffered From Not Only Inexperience, But A Staff Shortage; Martin County, Kentucky, They Can't Even Drink The Water; Former President Jimmy Carter Sat Down With Stephen Colbert Last Night. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 31, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Those new details we're learning, that on the night of March 18th, Clark was hit by at least eight police bullets, six of them in his back, and that he may have lived as long as ten minutes affidavit. Here is the police helicopter footage from that night.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
CABRERA: This was the night Sacramento police officers say they opened fire on Clark in the backyard of his grandmother's home, believing he had a gun. He didn't. He was unarmed.
CNN's Ryan Young joins us live in Sacramento.
So Ryan, talk about what's happening there right now. And what do the people protesting want to accomplish?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can see the crowd right here has grown tremendously since the last time we had a conversation. The emotions of course running high after that new information about where Stephon Clark was shot. So many people have said, hearing about him being hit six times in the back. The family who are trying (INAUDIBLE) coming out with a separate narrative that he was not charging toward officers. That he was shot after he got hit here in the side and then turned and then got hit several times in the back.
Look. This rally is ongoing right now. But one of the most powerful bits of information that we have so far is the fact that someone who knew Stephon Clark very well was just up on the stage. I grabbed her. I wanted to make sure you guys had a chance to hear from someone who loved Stephon.
You were up there giving powerful testimony just about Stephon's life. Could you share with everyone at home what kind of man Stephon? What kind of father he was? CHRISTINA RODRIGUEZ-JOHNSON, FRIEND OF STEPHON CLARK: He was a
wonderful father. You know, these boys in this community don't have a whole lot of examples sometimes. And he came to live with us. And him and my son are best friends. And my husband was very, very close to him. And all he wanted to be was a good father. He read stories to them. He played games. He sang. He danced. He videotaped everything they did. He was so proud. He was the most proud he has ever been when those boys came into the world.
YOUNG: To hear all the information that we have heard over the last 24 hours and how he was likely shot and turned and six of those shots came in the back, I saw you get emotional up there. For us we hear this but for you had touched you in a different way, of course, because you know him. What has this been like?
RODRIGUEZ-JOHNSON: It's a bad dream. One that we will never wake up from. It's just like on a loop, it's on repeat. Because now that it's national, it just relives. I'm glad it's national because it needs to change. But those of us that knew him know knows that this -- he would have never believed this would have happened for him. He just wasn't - he didn't believe that he even deserved attention this way. He was the most humble person that you would ever meet.
YOUNG: To see Sacramento coming together the way it has so far behind Stephon, has that touched you in terms of the way people are sharing about his life?
RODRIGUEZ-JOHNSON: Well, Sacramento is very unique in that way. Sacramento is a large, spread-out town, but it's a very small town. People, they do come together for injustice, and just for love. And people that are here are here because they want to be here. So it doesn't -- it doesn't surprise me that Sacramento reached out this way and that they made this happen.
YOUNG: Thank you for sharing with us.
Quite emotional as she was on stage. Of course, she shared some tears with me. She knew Stephon Clark. So the crowd is still going. We have people who are coming together to have a conversation about this. So this will continue throughout the day. We will see what happens next - Ana.
CABRERA: Ryan Young, thanks for being our eyes and ears on the ground.
I have some more information on another deadly police shooting nearly two years after the death of Alton Sterling. Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana have just released graphic body cam footage showing Sterling's final moments.
Sterling was shot six times during an encounter with two police officers outside a convenience store back in 2016. And while those officers were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, one was fired just this week. The other was suspended. We are now going to show you the video. And warning, it is extremely disturbing to watch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back off?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your problem?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't move. Stop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I did? Hey, sir, what I did?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't (bleep) move or I'll shoot your (bleep). Put your (bleep) hands on the car. You understand me? Hands on the car or I'll shoot you in your (bleep) head, do you understand me? Do you hear me? Why don't you --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. You're hurting my arm. What happened, man?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officer, what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pop him again, Howie. (Bleep). (Bleep). (Bleep).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shots fired. Shots fired.
[16:05:51] CABRERA: Tough to watch.
I want to bring in my panel, Cheryl Dorsey, retired LAPD sergeant and author of "Black and Blue: the creation of a manifesto," and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson.
So Joey, let's begin with you. That very disturbing video we just watched. Based on what we saw in that video and the other evidence that's been made public, does it make sense to you that the officers were not charged?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It does not. Let me give you my human reactions, Ana, if I can, and then I will give you my legal reaction.
From a human perspective, it's appalling. Here is why. Officers are taught to de-escalate a situation. You are trained. You encounter many things that you and I quite frankly are not qualified to encounter. It is part of the training. It is part their DNA. It's part of who they are.
My father was one, I get, I understand, may he rest in peace, what they go through. But the reality is that, you know, when you escalate something to this, that leaves them in death. It just becomes alarming, disturbing, unnecessary, and something has to be done. Now to the legal in terms of the charges. I get that the federal
government didn't pursue charges, because the standards are quite high, Ana. From a civil rights perspective, you have to show specific intent and animus, evilness, wickedness in order to tries them with civil rights violation. A very high standard. And so the federal government took a pass.
When you get to the state level, there are so many tools that the state has and it is box prosecution that it could use that don't rise to intent. So if an officer, for example, is negligent or otherwise reckless in the encounter, then you do it there.
And let me tell you what the problem is. And when I say reckless, you know, the legal term, if you consciously disregard a risk, the officer comes and immediately is approaching, using profanity, I'll blow your head off, taking out his weapon and using it, I mean, is that not reckless or negligent in and of itself? And so, then you get, really, to the critical issue of the investigation. People are tired of these investigations happening behind closed doors and then seeing officials come out there and make the same pronouncements, after long, exhaustive review, after coordinating with several agencies, after hiring experts, we have concluded. No.
People want transparency. What do I mean? Bring in front of a jury. We can have a reasonable difference as to what occur on that videotape. But let 12 people who sit in a box after all the evidence is uncovered, and the public has a right to know, and let the jury make a decision instead of an official making a unilateral determination not to charge. That's what distressing so many communities.
CABRERA: What about you, Cheryl, having been in the shoes of those officers, being a police officer, what was your take away from that video we just showed?
CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Well, as a police sergeant, I'm outraged. As a supervisor of patrol officers, I'm disgusted. That was an execution. We heard those officers threaten Mr. Sterling. And they did exactly what they said they were going to do. We are not trained or taught, and it shouldn't be tolerated where you confront someone. I don't care if they are disruptive or they are not cooperating. You don't get to use expletives when you refer to them. You don't get to threaten them, I will shoot you in your f'ing head if you won't be still. We are taught to execute and kill people because they don't comply, because they won't be still.
And the fact that this officer was fired brings me no comfort. He needs to be charged with a criminal offense. He needs to be convicted of a criminal offense. Because what happens is, this officer may very well find himself in a week or two on another police department where obviously he has learned nothing here and do this very same thing again. We don't need another Alton Sterling. I'm outraged.
CABRERA: Wow. Let's talk about Stephon Clark. A lot of people are outraged over this case as well. Police wanting to be transparent, they say, release the videos from that incident, almost immediately, just a couple of days after the shooting itself happened.
And now, we have, Joey, this independent autopsy that has come out, a request that from the family of Stephon Clark, specifically showing he was mostly shot in the back and the side and his leg, seems to contradict what the police say happened in that he was moving toward them when they opened fire. How does this play?
JACKSON: You know, Ana, this is what we call irrefutable evidence. We can talk about the police can give a narrative as to what happened. They were fearful. He was approaching them. He had his hands up. He was in a stance towards them. But when you see evidence like this, does that not contradict that, I mean?
And looking at an autopsy, which gives you an indication, you have the video, the screen right there, to of exactly where he is hit, how does that jibe or otherwise, how is that consistent with the narrative that you felt threatened, that you were in eminent fear?
[16:10:24] CABRERA: But again, this was an independent autopsy. This wasn't the official autopsy by the court.
JACKSON: I get it. But so does the official current autopsy would that say something different? I guess that's for a trial to decide.
CABRERA: That's what I wonder. But does it make a difference like who is doing it?
JACKSON: I think it makes a difference in terms of you want to make sure that whoever hands' on an autopsy that it could be trusted by people who evaluate this.
But let me tell you, in addition to the autopsy, briefly what concerns me about this. When the police got the phone call, Ana, it was about vandalism of cars. That informs the judgment of the officers. It goes to their state of mind. They didn't get a call that there was a murder on the loose, that there was someone (INAUDIBLE) and trying to get into buildings, that there was raping someone. It was vandalism.
And then you go and you give the command to show your hands and you say you thought it was a cellphone, should someone be executive - well, we know it was a cellphone after the fact, but should he be executed for having a cellphone? And strategic way, you know, he appear in the stance like this, then maybe you should have been asked to get on the ground and then you don't render aide after it?
I mean, this is just a problem and we have to address this. This is a divide across the country. And you know, you could see and understand why the outrage is there. And God bless that community for coming together, taking a stance, and the Sacramento kings for doing what they have been doing and being vocal about this. It has to stop.
CABRERA: Again, we mentioned the video, Cheryl, has been put out there. This independent autopsy result has come out. We don't have the details from the official autopsy done by the coroner. But what do you make of how the investigators have done their work and what information they've now revealed to the public? DORSEY: Well, listen. A shot in the back is a shot in the back. And
so, I don't know what the official police department coroner autopsy is going to show. And I understand that police departments have a symbiotic relationship with the coroner. So I hope it's not very contrary to what the independent autopsy showed.
But these officers acted reckless and without regard. They were in a position of cover and concealment. They had an air unit overhead. There was no exigent circumstance that required or cause them to engage this young man if they suspected that he was involved in property-damage-only criminality.
And so, for them to execute him and fire 20 rounds, eight of which struck him in the back, is outrageous. It's over the top. And for the police chief to say that he released the video to bring us comfort and then say he can understand or maybe provide a reason why they would mute their camera, doesn't really sound like someone who is going to be transparent. It sounds more like circling up the wagons and let's minimize and mitigate the shooting this should never have occurred.
CABRERA: Thank you both for the papal discussion. Really, great to have you both.
Joey Jackson and Cheryl Dorsey. Have a great rest of the weekend.
JACKSON: Thank you.
DORSEY: Thank you.
CABRERA: Coming up, are we about to see another White House cabinet shake-up? Reports today the White House isn't happy about Scott Pruitt's over his controversial living arrangement and his security details is rocking up the bill. Is the EPA chief the next to go?
[16:17:31] CABRERA: Just days after the latest White House firing, the Trump administration is facing another controversy. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is in the hot seat. He is facing questions on multiple fronts. The latest have to do with an apartment Pruitt rented from an energy lobbyist. Now one EPA source says his goose is cooked.
CNN's Rene Marsh brings us the details.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is the latest cabinet member under fire. And even the White House is mad. CNN is learning his unprecedented 24/7 security detail has gone with him on personal trips including a trip to the Rose Bowl and a family vacation to Disney Land. That's according to a democratic senator.
Now Pruitt is also under scrutiny for renting a D.C. apartment owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist. The question now, could Pruitt be the next cabinet member to go? (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
MARSH (voice-over): Two days after firing one cabinet secretary, the White House is growing increasingly frustrated with another cabinet member, sources tell CNN. The focus now on EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, following two damning stories in less than a day.
First, CNN reporting that Pruitt went to the Rose Bowl, the college football semifinal featuring his home team, the Oklahoma sooners.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best game in college football all year long!
MARSH: Then took his family to Disney Land. Both personal trips with his EPA security detail in tow. Pruitt also used that security for trips home to Tulsa, Oklahoma. All that according to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, after the Democrat said he viewed documents that back up the claim.
WHITE House has been a fierce critic of Pruitt since his nomination to the EPA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This got awful nominee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, this isn't epic ram jam.
MARSH: Senator Whitehouse recently sent a letter to the EPA's inspector general laying out the new details about Pruitt round the clock security detail. The letter which CNN reviewed raises questions about the cost of Pruitt's unprecedented EPA-funded security.
NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let him go on vacation. If he wants to go to Disney Land, put on a baseball cap and some sunglasses. Nobody knows who he is. He is not that famous.
MARSH: The EPA tells CNN because of the unprecedented number of threats, administrator Pruitt follows the same scrutiny protocol whether he is in his personal or official capacity.
Pruitt is also facing scrutiny over the condo he lived in when he first came to Washington. ABC News first reported that Pruitt has been renting a condo at this Capitol Hill property which CNN confirms is owned by the wife of a prominent energy lobbyist whose firm represents a long list of companies that are regulated by the EPA. Bloomberg News reports that Pruitt's arrangement allowed him to only pay $50 for the nights he actually slept there, for a total of $6,100 over six months, well below market value.
[16:20:36] EISEN: It appears to be an impermissible gift. And here is why it matters. Because the owner of this condo is married to a lobbyist who seemingly has business through his firm, the lobbying firm, important client interests at the EPA.
MARSH: Well, the EPA does have an ethics counsel to consult with issues like this. I spoke with an EPA official with direct knowledge of the situation who says this was not an ethics issue and the condo was not considered a gift because Pruitt paid value in the form of rent. The source added that the landlord was a friend of Pruitt's. And that the law does not ban federal employees from receiving a gift from a friend.
We spoke with several experts ethics who disagree with this line of thinking, especially considering Pruitt paid below market value for the condo.
CNN should also point out, we did some research and we found out that the landlord for Pruitt's condo also happened to be political donors.
Ana, back to you.
CABRERA: Rene Marsh, thank you for that report.
Coming up, it's an American jewel with an owner who has become the richest man in the world. And now the President directly targeting amazon. But is the beef personal or business?
[16:26:19] CABRERA: President Trump escalating his attacks on Amazon today with a string of inaccurate statements. Here is part of the President's morning tweets.
This post office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs and taxes now.
Amazon's stock recovering this week after tumbling five percent Wednesday if the wake of "Axios" reporting that Trump wanted to go after Amazon and change its tax structure. Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos happens to own "the Washington Post." And the President despises the newspaper's critical White House coverage. Also Jeff Bezos is the richest man in history. His fortune now vastly larger than the President.
Let's talk it over with Dan Alexander of "Forbes" magazine.
Dan, is Trump's beef with Bezos, personal or is this all strictly business?
DAN ALEXANDER, TRUMP REPORTER, FORBES MAGAZINE: Well, I think I would be foolish to try and get inside into Donald Trump's head. But clearly, there are some business connections, OK. The first you mentioned was "the Washington Post." The second one is that Donald Trump owns a large amount of retail real estate in one of America's most famous retail corridors, which is Fifth Avenue in New York City. The value of that real estate has gone down over the last year or two as Amazon and other e-commerce companies have just basically wiped out brick and mortar retail.
So the rise of Amazon has had a real effect on Donald Trump's personal fortune, costing him hundreds of millions of dollars.
CABRERA: I wonder if the Bezos-owned "Washington Post" were to read more like a print version of "FOX and friends," would the President even touch amazon's tax breaks? Is the President putting a value on politically endorsing him in some way?
ALEXANDER: You know, again, I think you would be crazy to try to guess at that. But certainly, it's shocking that he owns "the Washington Post," and Donald Trump himself seems to be connecting these two separate businesses.
CABRERA: The President says Amazon pays little to no taxes to state and local governments. Dan, that's not exactly accurate. Breakdown Amazon's tax payment structure for us.
ALEXANDER: No, that's not accurate. You know, Amazon last year reported paying almost a billion dollars in taxes. We don't know how that breaks down between local, state, and federal taxes, but certainly it is a large amount of taxes.
Now, what Trump might be referring to is how much people who purchase items on Amazon pay in taxes. If they purchase items that are Amazon items, they do pay taxes on those sales. However, Amazon still does allow third party vendors on the Web site who buy things to not collect sales tax. And so there could be people who are doing transactions in that way and not paying the adequate amount of tax.
CABRERA: Dan, what about Trump's claim that Amazon hurts the U.S. post office?
ALEXANDER: Well, it doesn't seem to be true, you know. If you look at postal companies in general, look at the price of, for example, FedEx's stock and how it's gone through the roof. That's almost all because of Amazon and the growth of e-commerce. The idea that any shipping enterprise would have really been, you know, struggling because there are more people shipping stuff just doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.
CABRERA: Dan Alexander, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
ALEXANDER: Yes. Thank you.
CABRERA: Quick break. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:34:10] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I read where, gee, maybe people don't want to work for Trump. Believe me, everybody wants to work in the White House. So many people want to come and I have the choice of anybody. I could take any position in the White House and I will have a choice of the ten top people having to do with that position. Everybody wants to be there. The White House has tremendous energy. It has tremendous spirit. It is a great place to be working. It's just a great place to work. The White House has a tremendous energy and we have tremendous talent.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: So the President likes to say, everybody wants to work at the White House. But according to a new report in "the Washington Post," the White House office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees has suffered from not only inexperience, but a, get this, staff shortage.
I want to bring in my panel, CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza and CNN national security analyst and national security correspondent for "the New York Times" David Sanger.
Guys, good to have you with us. Thanks for joining us on a holiday weekend.
Ryan, to you first. What's your reaction to this new report?
[16:35:12] RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's not totally surprising. This White House has had, first of all, a tremendous amount of turnover, almost depending on how you define senior positions, almost half of the senior positions in this administration have turned over since the start of the administration. That is remarkable, and well above any recent presidency. And we know from the security clearance problem that they have had, the backlog, that clearly there was some chaos going on with getting people vetted, getting people through the system. So it doesn't shock me. And it's just another sign of some serious dysfunction in this White House, you know, at a time when there are a lot of big issues on the President's plate.
CABRERA: No doubt about it.
David, there are several reports that incoming national security adviser John Bolton plans to clean house at the national security council, starting with holdovers from the Obama administration and those seen as disloyal to Trump. We know Bolton has a reputation as a foreign policy hawk. What are you looking for as Bolton now makes his moves?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first of all, this would be a lot of turnover within the NSC. If he is looking for people who were leftovers from the Obama administration, he's looking mostly at career people who sort of run the inner workings of the NSC, frequently have the deepest experience, but have were in the Obama administration NSC and then stayed over during the transition. Most of those that I know of have returned back to their main agencies, whether it is the state department or the CIA or the defense department. But I'm sure there are still some around.
I think the bigger issue is going to be this. Does he clean out the people who H.R. McMaster, his immediate predecessor, brought in? And General McMaster cleaned out a lot of people who had been put in their posts by Michael Flynn when he came in. And you will remember he lasted just around a month. In fact the ones who stayed past that time were called Flynn-stones. And the question they had at the White House last year was, gee, are they getting rid of the Flynn-stones. Well now, the question will be are they getting rid of the McMaster employees.
LIZZA: They are going to need their own name.
SANGER: They are.
CABRERA: Yes, I know. I was waiting to hear what the McMaster --.
LIZZA: Well, there's so much turnover that you have these funny names in this White House. You know, a unit of time in this White House of ten days is known as a Scaramucci because that's how long the communications director lasted. So the Flynn-stones lasted several Scaramuccis.
SANGER: That's right.
CABRERA: So let me bring it back to the topic at hand guys and the impact of some of these turnovers and also part of the issue here being that the President doesn't always follow the guidance of the people he puts around him.
So Thursday in Cleveland, before a crowd of supporters, the President made this surprise comment on Syria. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are knocking the hell out of ISIS. We will be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon. Very soon. We are coming out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So Ryan, that comment not only caught Trump's own administration by surprise. Defense officials warned that now is not the time to get out of Syria, warning ISIS could reemerge if the U.S. leaves. So there seems to be a disconnect between what President Trump is saying and his own team's assessment.
LIZZA: Yes, he's really gone back and forth about this idea of what the U.S. presence should be in that region, sometimes arguing that Obama pulled out of Iraq too soon and led to the creation of ISIS, other times arguing that we shouldn't have anything to do with Syria or Iraq.
You know, when he gives these speeches, these big public speeches, they often are a sort of unfiltered version of what he has been telling other people around him in the White House, in the preceding days and weeks. So they are very important to watch to understand what he is saying and thinking, because Trump generally doesn't have very many unventilated thoughts. And I am not surprised that that was -- I don't think that he said that off the top of my head in the moment. He very clearly was thinking about it and talking to senior officials.
I'm a little surprised that, you know, some White House officials have said they didn't know what he was talking about, when other reporting suggests that this has been on his mind recently. I think his gut instinct when it comes to America's footprint in the world is he doesn't want us out there meddling. He doesn't want troops all over the place. Famously, he has to get a briefing at the Pentagon where the generals explain to him why we have troops in, you know, Asia, and Japan and Japan, Europe and these other places. So you know, I think this, you know, Trump has this isolationist instinct. So I'm not surprised what he is thinking about with respect to Syria right now.
[16:40:19] CABRERA: There's a couple of ironic things to that, because of course he criticized the Obama administration for pulling out of Iraq and that region, creating a vacuum for ISIS to move in.
And then, David, he is also over and over again said he wouldn't reveal plans to the enemy, like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We no longer tell our enemies our plans.
America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.
I don't want to tell everyone what I'm doing or what I'm thinking. I'm not like other administrations where they say we are going to do this in four weeks. That doesn't work that way.
My administration will not telegraph exactly military plans and what they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: David, what do you make of Trump's Cleveland pronouncement on Syria?
SANGER: Well, you know, it gets at this oddity in the way he thinks about American power. And I think Ryan was getting at this before. On the one hand, he wants us to have the biggest, most unchallengeable military force he can imagine. And on the other hand, he doesn't want to forward deploy it, to use the words, the terminology that the defense or state department would use.
And of course the problem with that is if you keep it all back, you are not forward deployed, you don't have the opportunity to stop conflicts when they are still small, before you have something that turns into something much larger. There is an argument to be made that had we been better forward deployed and had stayed around in Afghanistan, that Al-Qaeda never would have been able to go use Afghanistan as sort of a place to base themselves before 9/11. But of course the United States and others pulled back from that. You have mentioned the Iraq possibility. And of course you have seen the President had to be convinced to keep some troops in Afghanistan, and generally in the Middle East, just a few months ago.
What's strange about this is whenever we go to briefings at the state or defense department, they talk about the two things that are necessary for stability. One is some continued level of American presence and training. And secondly is some continued American funding. And they just announced several hundred million dollars for Syria that will build up those areas, keep them from being useful to ISIS. And "the Wall Street Journal" reported yesterday that in fact the President's frozen that as well.
CABRERA: Exactly. Real quick, Ryan, before I let you go. Because you brought up Scaramucci, we saw Hope Hicks, another communications director of this White House, leave this week. Is there anybody who could be an effective communications director?
LIZZA: Well, I mean, the issue is that Trump is his own communications director. I mean, his whole life has been handling his own press. Famously in the '80s, he used to call reporters and pretend to be his own spokesperson, assuming an identity. So it's an impossible job, because just like chief of staff, he wants to run things on his own.
And Hicks, you know, she had the title of communications director. Her job in the White House was, you know, in some ways bigger and smaller than that. She wasn't really in-charge of long term communications planning in the way that previous communications directors were. But she was very important, her relationship with Trump was very important, probably the most important thing in the White House. And you know, I think she stopped a lot of bad things from happening because she was there and was partially moderating influencing on the President.
CABRERA: Ryan --.
LIZZA: Yes. I wouldn't want that job. I don't think -- you know. There's a war going on to take it, but it's not an easy job. He is his own spokesperson and communications director.
CABRERA: Thank you both. Ryan Lizza, David Sanger, good to have you with us. Thanks.
Coming up, the President again touts his infrastructure goals. But in Martin County, Kentucky, they can't even drink the water. And that's not the only place. Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates what's going on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you drink it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. There's no way that I drink it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:48:57] CABRERA: The President is promising to breathe new life into what he calls America's rundown highways, railways and waterways, transforming roads and bridges, and as he likes to say, under budget and ahead of schedule. But for one county in Kentucky, this is more than just a speech topic. CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, has their story.
GUPTA (voice-over): The hills of Appalachia are part of America's legacy. The people here in Martin County, Kentucky proudly self- sufficient. But it's hard to take care of yourself when you don't have the most basic of necessities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we have blue water here.
GUPTA: It's left hope workman with no other choice. Twice a week, Hope and her daughter drive up this dirt path on the side of a mountain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what we go through to get water.
GUPTA: Twenty years ago, she placed this three-and-a-half foot long pipe into this hillside to tap a spring, just to collect clean drinking water. Because obviously, no one drinks the water here. Do you drink it?
[16:50:07] GARY BALL, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE MOUNTAIN CITIZEN: No. There's no way that I drink it.
GUPTA: Gary Ball is the editor-in-chief of the local weekly paper, "the Mountain Citizen." Water has been a front page story for most of his career.
What's going on here? I mean, the citizens, the people who live here and deal with this every day, where do they put this on their list of concerns?
BALL: In 2018, in the very place where LBJ declared war on poverty, 54 years ago, water is our number one issue. That's hard to imagine.
GUPTA: You declare a war on poverty, 54 years later, you come back there, and you can't reliably get clean water, what progress have we made?
BALL: It's a third world country here as far as water. We let our water system just dilapidate to the point of collapse.
GUPTA: You went how long without water?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got tea and ice.
GUPTA: To manage that, Hope has turned her pool into a make-shift reservoir, collecting rainwater for even the most basic needs.
In order to wash your clothes, in order to get water to bathe in, this is what you have to do?
HOPE WORKMAN, MARTIN COUNTY RESIDENT: Yes. I did this in 17-degree water. We had to take a chainsaw to drill through the ice to get to the water. GUPTA: So you use the chainsaw to get through the ice and un-siphoned
the water with your mouth out of this.
GUPTA: That's what it's come to.
WORKMAN: That's what it's come to.
GUPTA: In fact, the American society of civil engineers gives the United States drinking water infrastructure a grade of "D."
So how does the water get so contaminated here in Martin County? It is worth looking in how we get our water. Here, it comes from (INAUDIBLE) river where it's done pumped into the crumb (ph) reservoir. And from there, it makes its way to this water treatment center.
After getting treated, about two million gallons per day of fairly clean water then leaves this treatment facility through a cascade of pipes traveling all over the county. The problem is those pipes are also old and cracked. More than 50 percent of the water leaks out before it gets to the people who need it. Even worse is what's getting into those pipes and into the water.
We reviewed the most recent EPA data. And the Martin County water district has violated federal drinking water standards every quarter between October 2014 and September 2017. In fact, until just a few months ago, the district's nearly 10,000 customers received notices that their water had exceed federal limits for potentially cancer causing chemicals.
GUPTA: Doc, I got this thing, what am I supposed to do about it? Am I going to get cancer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very difficult question. I can't tell them that it's safe or that isn't safe.
GUPTA: Dr. Laufferty is the quintessential small town doc. He is pretty sure that almost every person in this county has come to see him at some point in his clinic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shouldn't haven't been asking them. 2018, whether or not the water is causing cancer in Appalachia. We should be (INAUDIBLE) in 2018. In the richest country in the history of the earth that we have clean water. It shouldn't be a question.
GUPTA: Eastern Kentucky has some of the highest cancer rates in the country. And there's plenty of blame. Smoking, obesity. But one thing stands out to many who live there, the water.
Is it the rainwater that you are getting is better than what's coming out of your faucet?
GUPTA: On this day, Hope is filling up three additional pots of water from her pool.
WORKMAN: It's not easy. But it beats not being able to flush the toilet or take a bath. I hope you see this, Mr. Trump, because I don't know who else to talk to about it. They are not doing a damn thing.
GUPTA: President Trump released a $1.5 trillion plan to address all of the infrastructure for the whole country. But experts' estimate $1 trillion alone is needed just to meet our drinking water demands for the next 25 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Central Appalachia at this point is being left behind. Central Appalachia certainly voted for President Trump. But we always kind of take a wait and see attitude. Time will tell.
GUPTA: Is water a basic human right?
BALL: I believe so.
GUPTA: That's not happening here.
BALL: That's not happening here.
GUPTA: And Ana, I can tell you, this is not a unique situation. There are about 150,000 water systems in the country. But it is the small ones like Martin County that accounted for 72 percent of the total EPA violations. They are often small, often rural, and often ignored - Ana.
CABRERA: So eye opening. And to think it's happening here in America.
Thank you, Sanjay Gupta.
Coming up, a Parkland survivor takes on a FOX News host after she attacked him on twitter. David Hogg joins us live on why he is saying no thanks to her apology.
[16:59:10] CABRERA: Former President Jimmy Carter sat down with Stephen Colbert last night, telling the late night host what he thinks makes a good President, and that he prays for President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: What is the one, one of quality that requires to be a good President?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I used to think is was to tell the truth.
CARTER: But I have changed my mind lately.
COLBERT: Does America want a jerk to be President?
CARTER: Apparently from this recent election, yes. I never knew it before.
COLBERT: Do you pray for Donald Trump?
CARTER: I pray that he will be a good President and will keep our country at peace and that he will refrain from using nuclear weapons, and that he will promote human rights. So yes, I pray for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:00:00] CABRERA: President Carter is the only President to run an administration for an amount of time without a chief of staff, by the way, something we Are hearing President Trump may be looking into.