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Report: Climate Change Could Slash Size of U.S. Economy by 10 Percent by 2100 if Nothing Done; Final Message of John Allen Chau Killed by Tribe on Remote Island; Dems to Probe if Trump is Protecting Saudis. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 23, 2018 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: This afternoon, the Trump administration just released a major, ominous climate change report two weeks earlier than planned, raising suspicions it was purposely released on Black Friday because fewer people would be paying attention. Climate change is not a top priority for this White House. President Trump has doubted its existence and called it a hoax.

For more, here's CNN's Rene Marsh.

Rene, this report offers, as mentioned, a more ominous outlook. What's in the report?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT Brooke, this report came out 30 minutes ago. It's hundreds of pages long. It's a government report that focuses squarely on the human impact of climate change, and it peels out real-life examples of how climate change is already impacting our life when it comes to health, the economic cost, and the impact on transportation infrastructure.

I'm going to pull out some of the highlights. One of the stunning highlights that we're seeing out west, they're saying if it's not brought under control wildfires will burn up to six times more forest area per year by 2050. And they say more people will be exposed to ticks that carry Lyme disease, Zika and dengue fever.

And when it comes to our health, the impact the climate change will have on our health, it says the higher temperatures will also kill more people. They predict that the Midwest will have the highest temperature rise, and in the Midwest, they could see an additional, more-premature deaths. It said throughout the century we could see annual losses in some sectors that reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century.

There's no good news in this report. It all runs counter to what we have heard from President Trump, as well as the policies we've seen at agencies like the EPA as they continue to roll back regulations that are intended to curb these dangerous greenhouse gases that scientists say, without question, contribute to climate change -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: It seems crucial details that is out this day after Thanksgiving perhaps in an attempt to bury it a bit.

We're going to continue reading this and have your team continue to read this and we'll have more.

Rene, thank you for hitting these key notes there.

MARSH: Sure.

BALDWIN: Now to this. An American missionary wrote about his final days before being killed on a remote island off the Indian coast. His name is John Allen Chau. He was killed while illegally visiting the North Sentinel Island last week. He wrote about how he had been shot at with a bow and arrow and it had pierced his Bible. He writes, quote, "You guys might think I'm crazy in all this but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people. God, I don't want to die."

That was the final note to his family, who say they forgive the tribesmen responsible for his death.

We turn now to CNN New Delhi bureau chief, Nikhil Kumar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DEHLI BUREAU CHIEF: Brooke, the latest we have from authorities is they're still trying to locate the body of an American Christian missionary, who is believed to have been killed by an isolated tribe after he visited their remote island community. Police here say 27-year-old John Allen Chau came to India on a tourist visa but he went to the North Sentinel Island to preach and convert its inhabitants, tribespeople known as the Sentinelese, who are protected by Indian law. It's a tiny community with estimates ranging from a dozen or so to 80-odd people. The island is strictly off limits for tourists such as Chau. They're not allowed within five nautical miles of the island, a rule meant to protect both the tribe and outsiders because of the tribe's history of forcefully repelling strangers.

Chau went. He found local fishermen who could take him close to island in mid November. Police say he took a canoe the rest of the way. The fishmen said they saw the tribespeople dragging Chau's body around the island. That hasn't been independently verified by the police. They're going by what the fishermen, who have been arrested for facilitating Chau's trip, have told them.

Meanwhile, a friend of Chau's tells CNN he knew the island was off limits and that his mission was illegal but he went nonetheless. It all appears to have ended in tragedy, Brooke.

Authorities have sent out a team of experts in the waters near the island to see if they can spot Chau's body. They've been accompanied by the fishermen who say they saw the body. If they find it, the next step will be working out how to recover it -- Brooke?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:35:09] BALDWIN: Nikhil, thank you.

On the phone, a friend of John's, Matt Staver. Matt traveled with Chau once on a trip to Israel.

Matt, thank you so much for jumping on the phone with me.

I'm so sorry about your friend.

I wanted to read one more quote from John's journal. He described being shot at with a bow and arrow. Writing, "I hollered, "My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you."

I appreciate his desire to spread the gospel and his passion, but to go to all these far-flung places, dangerous places, can you help us understand why he felt so compelled to do so?

MATT STAVER, FRIEND OF JOHN ALLEN CHAU (via telephone): Sure. Thank you, Brooke. Certainly our heart and prayers and thoughts go out to the Chau family as they gathered for thanksgiving without John with them.

You know, I met John Chau on a trip we did in Israel and that was in August of 2015. He was 23 years old at the time. At the time of his death he was one month away from turning 27. At the time he was attending Oral Roberts University. He had already gone on two mission trips in South Africa. From high school days, somehow he had a real desire and a passion to go to North Sentinel. And the reason, although he didn't articulate it then, he told other people months and even years later, he wanted to go there because they were one of the most-isolated people groups on the planet and he wanted to share Jesus with them. He went to that location and, unfortunately, that's where he, from what all we know, met his last days.

His journal entries are absolutely heartbreaking and compelling because that incident in which the arrow was shot and it hit his waterproof Bible that he held over his chest was on Thursday, November -- last week. So it was just a week ago. And he has a journal entry that he wanted to go back. He actually had his canoe taken by the Sentinelese people from him the day before. From the boat, he ultimately swam there and a fisherman left him there to be there overnight. When they came back, they saw him being dragged and shot and being buried, according to their story, on the beach.

But in his last journal and in his last words to his mom and dad he said the words that you've already quoted. And he also said, if they kill me, don't be mad at them, don't be angry at them. It's just the nature of John. You have to understand who he is. He was a very loving person. He loved people. He loved Jesus. He loved to be able to share the word of God with people. He was willing, in this case, especially as you read his last words, to give his life to be able to do that.

He meant no harm whatsoever, but he also knew his life was in danger when he got shot and, fortunately, survived but returned a day later and didn't survive the final attack.

BALDWIN: Let me repeat those words again. "My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you." And again, his parents have forgiven this tribe for doing this to him. Matt Staver, thank you very much for joining me

STAVER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: -- and telling us a little bit more about John.

[14:39:53] Coming up next, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee confirms he plans to look into President Trump's response and personal ties to Saudi Arabia after giving the royal family a pass on the murder of U.S. Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Jamal's former editor at the "Washington Post" joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:43:18] BALDWIN: President Trump siding with the Saudi government again. He continues to cast doubt about the CIA's findings about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi while arguing that the flow of money into the United States is important not to lose. Instead of placing blame on the crown prince, he and his secretary of state are blaming what they describe as a dark and vicious world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: It's a mean, nasty world out there, the Middle East in particular.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You take a look at what's going on in Iran and the vicious, the vicious situation that's taking place there and the number of people that are being killed and slaughtered. You take a look all over the world. We're not going to be able to -- let's not deal with anybody.

Maybe the world should be accountable because the world is a vicious place. The world is a very, very vicious place. You look at what's happening in China and you look at what's happening in so many different countries. I could name many countries. You look at what's happening with terrorism all over the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Karen Attiah is with me, a global opinions editor for the "Washington Post." It was Karen who recruited Khashoggi to "The Post" about a year ago.

Karen, it's always great to you have.

I want you to react to the president saying it's the world, this vicious world to blame for Jamal's murder. What do you make of that?

KAREN ATTIAH, GLOBAL OPINIONS EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: It's just such a -- you know, for a president and an administration that has been so preoccupied with projecting strength, with projecting America first, it just is such a sort of weak and cynical statement and it denotes a sort of helplessness in the face of human rights abuses, of oppression and says nothing of, you know, our role in, at least in this case and the case of Jamal's murder and the war in Yemen, in the case of what we're seeing to be, you know, global instability and repression coming from Saudi Arabia, denying that we have any sort of role to play in stopping this. And it just makes us look helpless, and that is not the case. We are not. As the United States of America and as a country that Saudi Arabia depends very much on for its economy and, frankly, its survival.

[14:45:45] BALDWIN: The statement that the president released a couple of days ago, I haven't spoken with you since he released a statement siding with the Saudis, maybe he did, maybe he didn't refer to tombs, of the whole thing, what was most unsettling to you when you first read it?

ATTIAH: I mean, beyond the fact as far as a statement goes, it was written as if it was penned by a middle schooler, not the president of the United States. It just -- beyond smearing Jamal as some sort of enemy of the state of Saudi Arabia, which he wasn't, I think what was most disturbing about that is, first of all, nobody is claiming that we want to break relations with Saudi Arabia. The problem isn't so much that, it's the issue of Mohammad bin Salman and the questioning our relationship with a man who not only most likely ordered the butchering of a "Washington Post" writer, but also has been the main architect of a vicious war in Yemen who has kidnapped the prime minister of Lebanon, has broken diplomatic ties with Canada and doesn't deserve this unconditional support from the Trump administration that he seems to be enjoying. What can we point to for his rise from deputy crown prince to crown prince now? We can't point to any evidence of any stability in the -- it made us look like a servant to Saudi Arabia and not a partner.

BALDWIN: A servant. There are people who do want to push further. I want to hold you over commercial break, Karen, and then ask you about the Democrats looking at the president's financial ties to Saudi Arabia.

Back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:52:09] BALDWIN: Continuing my conversation with Karen Attiah, a global opinions editor for the "Washington Post."

Karen, I wanted to ask you about how the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, he told your paper that Democrats will indeed investigate the president's personal financial dealings with Saudi Arabia. Financial. Do you think that could explain the president's response in all of this?

ATTIAH: I mean, I think this is absolutely something that we need to look into because the president's response again is bordering on the irrational at this point considering, you know, what our own intelligence agency has concluded, again, not guessed, not any sort of feelings. This is with high confidence and in addition to the CIA's findings, we also know that intelligence from other countries, Germany, U.K., also have similar intelligence as far as the, again, viciousness of Mohammad bin Salman and in relation to this murder. So it's welcome and it's absolutely necessary because I think what we need to underscore in this case is that if we allow our administration to turn a blind eye and whether or not that's because of financial interests or not, we're in a situation where a lot of people's lives are in absolute danger. You know, we can't allow for a blank check to be given to ruthless leaders who are just willing to silence anybody and everybody at any time at anyplace. So I think Adam Schiff, we need to send a message to the administration as well that if there are conflicts of interest, financial conflicts of interest that is putting money basically before lives, that needs to come to light and that needs to end.

BALDWIN: Another piece of this, Jason Rezaian, of the "Washington Post," he said he feels a lot less safe working as a journalist in the U.S. Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON REZAIAN, JOURNALIST, "WASHINGTON POST": As a journalist who has unfortunately experienced some of that in the world, I feel a lot less safe today working in the United States of America than I did a couple of hours ago. I think it's a horrible message to be sending to the world really condoning this murder only in the interest of our commercial dealings with Saudi Arabia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: I was wondering, Karen, if you agree with this and why.

[14:54:48] ATTIAH: I agree with Jason. I also feel less safe. I'm more concerned with those who I work with who are from these regimes who have been telling me for the last six weeks since Jamal's murder, that they are terrified for their lives. If someone as prominent as Jamal can just be taken out of the picture in such a gruesome way, they feel nobody will stand up to them and nobody will check any of these leaders. That is what's at stake here. It's beyond Jamal at this point. It's about whether or not we are willing to say enough is enough and journalist lives matter, Arab lives matter, free expression matters. This has been such a -- Jamal felt safe. I think Jamal felt safe in the United States working for the "Washington Post." And I think we also felt that would be something that would protect him. And the idea that it didn't is chilling. And so, you know, we have a chance. I don't want us to feel helpless. I think the Democrats have a massive role to play, principled Republicans, American citizens to press on us to get to the bottom of this and to impose consequences on those who did this because lives are on the line, people are being killed.

BALDWIN: Democrats, as you say, --

(CROSSTALK)

ATTIAH: It's not right.

BALDWIN: -- and Republicans. Keep speaking up, Karen. Keep using your voice.

Karen Attiah, over at the "Washington Post," thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

ATTIAH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Breaking news this afternoon in the Russia probe. An associate of long-time Trump adviser, Roger Stone, is in plea negotiations with Robert Mueller.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)