Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Children Killed in Yemen After Airstrike Hits School Bus; Kobach's Lead in Kansas Cut in Half After Vote Mistake Discovered; Melania Trump's Parents Sworn in as U.S. Citizens; Suspects Accused of Training Kids to be School Shooters; Academy Adds New Category for "Popular Film" to Oscars. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 9, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- is just too graphic for us to air. I've spent most of the day sifting through the images that have been coming out of Yemen and they are fortifying.

There was one video that had the dismembered remains of children piled in the back of a pick-up truck. There are few others that showed children whose faces were so burned that you couldn't actually distinguish their features. And then in others you can see children attempting to crawl to safety after the strike. It is offensive that this happened today, but it's not unique with regards to what is happening in Yemen. It is a particular low point that this comes after weeks and weeks of intensifying strikes on the only remaining functioning port. The only way that people from Yemen are able to get any kind of supplies from the outside world.

And many of those that we speak to, the heart break is, Brooke, that they don't think that these images that you have broadcast that that will actually change anything for them. They expect that the horror that they live in will continue day in and day out.

Although we have now heard from the U.S. State Department spokesperson saying that they are calling for a thorough investigation. This comes after months and years of both the U.S. and the U.K. who have sold many of the arms that are used by the Saudi-led coalition. Blocking attempts to investigating reports of Saudi war crimes. And back in June, they blocked even the U.N. Security Council releasing a statement calling for a brief cease fire to allow for supplies into the country. So, it's understandable the people think that their lives are going to change much in the immediate future -- Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST:: Let us know what amounts from this investigation. An offensive is the perfect word to describe some of what we just saw. Just awful. Nima, thank you so much for bringing this story to all of us here in the U.S. I should point out the United Nations says the war in Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis. 8 million are on the brink of starvation, according to the U.N. Half of the country's medical facilities are closed, and a recent cholera outbreak infected more than a million people. Find ways to help, CNN.com/impact.

Breaking news now back here at home. In this too close to call Governor race in Kansas we are learning now a vote tally mistake has been detected. Meaning Republican Chris Kobach's razor thin lead is about to get thinner. Details next.

And Melania Trump's parents are now official U.S. citizens. Details on their ceremony today coming up.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A nail biter in Kansas in the race for governor could come down to this recount. And the person who would technically be in charge of overseeing any kind of recount is the Republican candidate. He is Chris Kobach. He is the current Secretary of State in Kansas who is strongly endorsed by President Trump. We've just learned his current lead against the sitting governor, Jeff Colyer, has been cut in half. CNN political director, David Chalian, is here to explain what is happening.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: They have more than half, actually. So, this race was the difference between the two candidates on election night when that initial unofficial count was done, 191 votes separated Kobach from current sitting governor, Jeff Colyer. We know that President Trump endorsed Chris Kobach. Very, very competitive Republican primary.

But look at those new numbers now. Now only 91 votes separate them, Brooke, and this is because of just a numeric mistake, it seems, on what was submitted from this county up in the northwest of Kansas, called Thomas County. That Colyer on Tuesday night it was reported on the Secretary of State's website that he only got 422 votes from that county. But that county official is now telling us, our colleague Eric Bradner, no, no, no, what that was, was 522 votes for Jeff Colyer. So, the governor just got 100 votes added to his total. Thereby cutting Kobach's lead by more than half.

BALDWIN: Oh, my gosh. And they were talking earlier and just reminding everyone again, this is the Secretary of State we're talking about, whose job it would be. His office is overseeing any sort of recount measures. And this is the guy who is also saying he won't recuse himself from said potential recount. Correct?

CHALIAN: Yes, and then I think he's been a little wishy-washy on that depending on how things come out.

BALDWIN: OK.

CHALIAN: But this is always a problem right across the country about having the top elections official be an elected official whose name appears on the ballot. And we're running into this scenario here. Potentially just to note, there is no automatic recount in Kansas, so the only way a recount is going to happen here is if one of the candidates requests it. They have until August 17 to do so. That's a week from tomorrow, Brooke, and whoever does request it has to put the money up for the recount first. And if the result is actually overturned in their favor then the state would pay them back.

So, we are not sure yet. All we do know is the governor has not conceded this at all. There are provisional ballots that are still outstanding that have not yet been counted because they have until tomorrow as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday, to get into election officials' hands. So, there is a lot more counting to do here. And as you can see, it's just a razor thin difference between them.

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: The twists and the turns, we will be watching. We know you will. David Chalian, keep us posted on all things Kansas. Thank you so much.

Now on to the President's wife, the first lady. Her office is declining comment about the new status of Melania Trump's parents. The couple from Slovenia just became U.S. citizens. They were sworn in today in New York. So, CNN's national political reporter, MJ Lee, is on this. It an interesting no comment from the first lady so far. We know that her parents have been living in the U.S. with green cards. Do we know if the couple took advantage of the chain migration policy the President's been blasting?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: No, but we do know the answer to that yet. What we do know is that he said they did became U.S. citizens today. This is according to their immigration lawyer. He says though, and he was emphatic about this, that the couple did not receive any kind of special treatment in the process of getting this U.S. citizenship. He said the application, the process, the interview, was no different than anybody else's. He said everything was all done lawfully.

Now, as you alluded to, the couple's immigration status has been of such interest because, you know, the question of how they got their green card have been unanswered. This immigration lawyer has not answered that question in the past, and he didn't answer that question today. Which raises the question and has raised the question in the past, of whether the first lady Melania Trump sponsored them so that they could come to the U.S. and get their green cards. And then eventually get their citizenship as they did today.

This would be notable, obviously, because President Trump himself has been very harshly critical of this process, which is a family-based migration process. Which he refers to as chain migration. We've heard him talk about it at rallies. He actually wants to work with congress to make sure that that kind of migration is actually drastically cut. So, it would be interesting if that was the process that was used for the first lady's parents to become U.S. citizens and apparently that's what happened today, they are officially U.S. citizens.

BALDWIN: All right, MJ, thank you so much for that.

And now to Roger Stone. Roger Stone says his loyalty to President Trump still rock solid. The President's former political advisor said there are, quote, no circumstances under which he would testify against the President. And that is in spite of the fact that Stone's former partner Paul Manafort is currently on trial facing up to 305 years in prison if convicted. And Stone's longtime friend, Kristin Davis, also known as the Manhattan Madam was questioned by Mueller's team. Even with all of that, Stone said he does not lose sleep at night over the Mueller investigation. This is what he told my colleague Anderson Cooper last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: At this point have you been asked to appear before the special counsel's team?

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP POLITICAL ADVISOR: I have not. But it has been publicly reported that they have interviewed and subpoenaed a number of my associates. I know that there exists nowhere evidence of Russian collusion or WikiLeaks collaboration or any nonsense pertaining to John Podesta's email. But I'm also mindful of any prosecutor's ability to squeeze underlings to get them to compose testimony against a bigger fish. I have not been contacted by the special counsel's office. I've been abundantly clear that there's no circumstances under which I would testify against the President. I would not rule out cooperating if they think I can be helpful in some area, but beyond that, I have not spoken to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Watch the whole thing, go to CNN.com.

Coming up next, we will go live to New Mexico with even more information today about what was happening at that compound. Where prosecutors say five adults were training their children to become school shooters. The father of the suspects just spoke out for the very first time.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: New today, this father of a suspect accused of training children to commit school shootings is now speaking out. And we'll play some of that for you in just a second here. But his son, one of five adults arrested in this filthy New Mexico compound where authorities rescued 11 starving children and found a young boys remains. Authorities now telling CNN it may take weeks to positively identify the boys remains. A foster parent of one of the 11 rescued children says that the child was trained, quote, in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for future school shootings. Scott McLean is therefore us in Amalia, New Mexico. Scott, what are we hearing now from this father of the suspect?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so the suspect's name is Siraj Wahhaj. His father actually shares the same name. And he's a well-known imam Brooklyn, New York. He's well known because he's the first Muslim to actually lead a prayer in the House of Representatives. And he was also though known because he was a character witness for the mastermind for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. So, he is a controversial character to say the least, Brooke. He said, look, his family is perplexed. He suspects that may be there

was some sort of mental disorder or mental condition that was in play here. He hadn't actually heard or seen from his son since December when he walked off with his grandson, a three-year-old boy. We also learned that Wahhaj, the younger one, the suspect in this case, had actually worked as a bodyguard prior to ending up here in the middle of nowhere in northern New Mexico. As for questions about radicalism, the elder Wahhaj said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[15:50:00] IMAM SIRAJ WAHHAJ, FATHER OF SUSPECT AT NEW MEXICO COMPOUND: I think that my son can be a little bit, maybe a little bit extreme. When I say extreme, not radical killing people and stuff like that, God forbid. I've never seen anything like that. But just, you know, he's just a little bit sometimes a little bit, you know, high strung. We're going to find out what happened. That's what we want to do. Even if it's again -- again if it's against them, we stand in judgment, God stands in judgment against them and we stand on the side of truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: And, Brooke, it is important to note that these accusations about the school shooter training they have not been proven in court. But I can tell you that out on this compound there is a shooting range. I'm standing on it right now and I'll quickly show you this dolly it is riddled with bullets, so are these propane canisters. These tires here they were used as the backstop here. And then quickly I'll show you this. This is a target that was home made on a piece of dry wall. You can see a drawing there of a person that looks like it was made by a child. So, it is also important to keep in mind though that we are, again, really in the middle of a remote area and a lot of people have guns in this area. And the neighbors tell me, Brooke, that they didn't think twice about it.

BALDWIN: To hear a father say his son could be a little bit extreme. Can one be a little bit extreme? Scott McLean, thank you for now -- for that.

Still ahead, the Oscars adding a new category to recognize blockbuster films. It may not be the critics' choice. We'll talk about whether this is necessary or just a gimmick.

But first, let's take a moment for a segment we are calling "Mighty Millennials." It highlights a new generation of political candidates. And in Michigan's first congressional district there are millennials on both side of the ticket. You have 37-year-old Lena Epstein. He is a Republican businesswoman who cochaired the Trump campaign in Michigan in 2016. And 35-year-old Haley Stevens who is a former Chief of Staff on President Obama's auto task force that helps saved GM and Chrysler.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALEY STEVENS, (D) MICHIGAN CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: I'm Haley Stevens and I was Chief of Staff to President Obama's auto rescue. We saved over 200,000 job and strengthen Michigan's advanced manufacturing economy. That's our future. That's our future. Now that Donald Trump is trying to sabotage Obamacare I'm running for congress to protect and improve it.

LENA EPSTEIN, (R) MICHIGAN CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: Our border is a national security disaster. President Trump is right to deploy the National Guard. In congress I'll stand with President Trump to build the wall, deport the criminals and put America first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Both women are running for office for the very first time.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Hollywood's biggest night is months away, but the Academy is trying to remedy any kind of complaints about the Oscars being too long and too boring. So, more changes are coming to the broadcasts like this new film category. It'll be for outstanding achievement in popular film. But, get this, the best picture it stays so why add this category? Nischelle Turner is back with us today, CNN contributor and host of Entertainment Tonight. This has obviously become a thing, this whole popular category. And it's like, who are they trying to placate? What is up with this?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think they are trying to placate some films. I remember last year there was a loud resounding what is going on when "Wonder Woman" wasn't nominated for best picture. Which it was so deserving. I was one of those people who felt like it was widely snubbed. And I think that in a lot of academy voters' minds they think, well, that's a big blockbuster tit pull movie, so we couldn't dare vote for that for best picture. Which is absolutely ridiculous.

So, I think the Oscars this year tried to say, well listen, we'll just add a category for popular films and I guess films that make a lot of money or a lot of people go see. And maybe that can make it better or make it a wider audience for our voters. But my thing is -- let's invoke en vogue here and just say free your mind and the rest will follow. Because I feel like if the films good, a film is good. You know.

BALDWIN: When I was reading about this, the whole thing is about "Black Panther." Right? And a lot of people are saying, oh my gosh, I can even imagine the "Black Panther" wouldn't be nominated for best picture. And then the Oscar folks thinking, OK, we'll just pop this popular category in and it can be the most popular film?

TURNER: Well listen, I was about to say that. I don't know, there could be a thought and I'm not saying this is their method of thinking. That they don't want backlash if it doesn't get nominated in the best picture category. So, maybe they can put it here and make everybody feel good. But I have to tell you, it's such a great film and it has been widely said that if it wasn't nominated for best picture no matter where you put it I think there would be backlash. Saying, what is going on here with the voters. It really comes down to the voters. And these are academy voters. They should know when a movie is good. So basically, I think this is ridiculous. And from all the feedback that I have seen on social media and the like, a lot of folks think the same way.

BALDWIN: Adriana working the camera is nodding with me. Yes, a lot of people -- Nischelle Turner, thank you so much for that. We'll see what happens with the "Black Panther" and other great ones this year.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you so much for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.