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Teen Involved in Encounter with Native American Elder Responds; New Footage Shows Different Side of Encounter Between Teen, Elder; Giuliani Analysis His Comments on Moscow Tower Deal or Hypothetical; Furloughed Workers Face Uncertainty as Shut down Drags On; Democratic Hopefuls Court Black Voters Ahead of 2020. Aired 3:30- 4p ET

Aired January 21, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Social media was quick to call the students involved racist. But as more videos emerged, we are seeing a different side of the confrontation that is much more complicated than first thought. CNN's Sara Sidner explains.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Catholic high school student who comes face-to-face with a Native American elder in a viral video is now responding. In a statement, student, Nick Sandmann, says the viral video does not reflect the true nature of events when the students arrived at the Lincoln Memorial.

When we arrived, we noticed four African-American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he said. The protestors said hateful things. Indeed, a small group of black men who identify as Hebrew Israelites did say hateful things to seemingly everyone around them including a priest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PROTESTER: That makes American great again. A bunch of child molesting f****ts.

SIDNER: And the students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See how you got these pompous bastards come down here in the middle of a native rally with their dirty ass hat on.

SIDNER: When a black visitor tries to stand up against the rhetoric, he faces hate too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PROTESTER: You got all these dirty ass crackers behind you with a red, with a red "Make America Great" hat again on and your coon ass you want to fight your brothers.

SIDNER: At first, the Catholic students there for the "March for Life" are still in small numbers, but more and more show up, watch, but not engaging. The small group of men continue taunting them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PROTESTER: A bunch of incest babies. A bunch of babies made out of incest. SIDNER: Sandmann says the rhetoric was startling because we were

being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student asked one of our teacher chaperons for permission to begin school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group.

And they do. At one point a student removes his shirt and the chants drown everything out. Two minutes later, you hear a drum beat. That is Nathan Phillips, an Omaha tribe elder and another drummer. Phillips said it was their attempt to thwart potential violence. The kids dance to it. They began chanting, some doing a tomahawk chop, which some Native Americans consider offensive.

NATHAN PHILLIPS, NATIVE AMERICAN ACTIVIST: I realized I had put myself in a really dangerous situation, you know. Here is a group of people who were angry at somebody else and I put myself in front of that.

SIDNER: Phillips, a Vietnam Veteran, walks around. Other students avoid him. Until you see him come face-to-face with a student who has now gone viral. In a statement the student says, he was the one trying to deescalate the situation, not Phillips. I believe that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict.

Sandmann has every opportunity to move back. So does Phillips. Neither do. While they faced off, the kids faced more taunting from the Hebrew Israelites group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE PROTESTER: This is a bunch of future school shooters.


SIDNER: While Phillips maintains he felt the kids were mocking him and being rude, Sandmann says it was the adults using hateful words and trying to provoke the kids, not the other way around.


SIDNER: Now the diocese which oversees the Covington Catholic school, Brooke, they initially came out and condemned the students for their behavior between them and that Native American elder and native Americans in general. And said they would be investigating. They still have not changed that statement. That is still the statement that is on their front page of their website. The Mayor of the city condemned the students. We have not heard from the Mayor. But now Congressman Thomas Massey has said basically, look, I am proud of these students because in the face of racism and homophobic slur, they didn't respond. And you'll see his tweet there. He talks about them even after being taunted, they kept to themselves and they were bewildered, but did not respond. He said he was proud of them -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: I was reading about it this morning. It's like snapshot of America, 2019. SIDNER: Yes.

BALDWIN: Sarah Sidner, thank you so much. You can read so much of Sara's reporting. Just go to on this one.

Still ahead from TSA workers calling out sick, to food banks so workers and their families don't go hungry. A look at the real-life impact of this government shutdown as the situation is going from bad to worse.


BALDWIN: All right. Getting some additional comments now just in from the President's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as he is really what appears to be on clean up duty today. Made some comments to Pamela Brown this morning. This is all pertaining to the Trump Moscow project and how long they had actually been in talks for this Trump Moscow project. Was it through the election or not?

So Pamela Brown is up with me. She's our senior White House correspondent. Pamela, we talked, you know a second ago, so let me just getting everyone caught up. So initially, the reporting was that they had talked about this Trump Moscow project as deep into November of 2016. So into the election. Then it became that Rudy Giuliani said that Trump didn't remember and now it's hypothetical conversations?

[15:40:00] Am I getting that right?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You are getting it right. It is a bit confusing. This is certainly Rudy Giuliani, the President's attorney, playing clean up. Because what happened is, he did a round of interviews yesterday and "The New York Times" reported that he told them that the President had told Rudy that the conversations about Trump Tower Moscow happened through November 2016. Happened until the election. Which was significant. He also told NBC that the discussions could have happened up through October, November.

Now the reason why that mattered is because that's a longer timeline than previously known. Michael Cohen told Congress that those conversations ended in June of 2016. And it also overlaps when the President was making certain comments that some said appeared to be cozied toward Russia. Pulling out of NATO. Getting rid of Russian sanctions.

So now, Rudy Giuliani told NBC today, that look, I was just saying this was a hypothetical. That the President doesn't have a recollection of it, but that it could have happened through the campaign. But it doesn't matter because it was so insignificant.

And here's the statement that was just released from Rudy Giuliani, Brooke. Let me read it.

He said, my recent statements about discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump about a potential Trump Tower Moscow project were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the President. My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions. The point is that the proposal was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent.

So if you notice here, Brooke, in this statement he doesn't say the discussions ended at X date. Because he claims they don't know. And what I also think he's trying to do here, Brooke, is leave some wiggle room in case new revelations come to light of discussions happening throughout the campaign until the election or beyond.

BALDWIN: Wiggle room. It's one way to put it. Pamela Brown, thank you so much for reporting that out for us.

I do want to get to the real-life impact of this government shutdown now. Nerves are fray, tensions are rising for hundreds of thousands of Americans who are now at risk of losing their second straight paycheck as the shutdown drags on. TSA is reporting that callouts jumped to 10 percent yesterday. That is triple the number from a year ago. Employees say they are having trouble coming into work because of, quote, financial limitations. And those same financial limitations, those concerns, are forcing a lot of federal workers to a place they probably never thought they would go. Their local food banks.

CNN's Renee Marsh is at Reagan National Airport in Washington. Vanessa Yurkevich Is at the food bank in the Bronx in New York where volunteers are preparing those items for those folks in need. So, Renee, let me start with you. These folks calling out sick. They need money. They need to make some sort of money. I imagine. How is the TSA handling that?

RENEE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're seeing airports be forced to shut down their security check points because, Brooke, they don't have the manpower to staff those checkpoints because of excessive callouts. We'll also see that TSA is flying out back up officers to some of these airports where they're having these staffing shortages. This is an issue that is not get getting better the longer this all drags on for the agency.

You mentioned that 10 percent number. That's more than three times what it was the year before. The agency saying that there has not been any impact on security. But I can tell you, I've been talking to TSA employees since the shutdown began and that is their number one concern. They say, look, there's no other way to look at this. They're doing the same mission. They have fewer people. You have to be concerned that at some point, this agency reaches its breaking point as it relates to these sickouts that continue to stack up -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: So this is the issue that the TSA is facing and really just air travelers are facing as they go through the longer lines. And then, Vanessa, over to you, you know, as these lines are also forming at these food banks. You're at a place that processes food and then sends it out to the pantries and the soup kitchens. Tell me what you're hearing? VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, we just

spent a day with hundreds of volunteers that were taking the time to pack food for federal workers. This is the first time the food bank for New York City has done something like this for federal workers in particular. There're cans here. There're bags that are going to be distributed to local food banks. One in particular on Staten Island, which is right here a Coast Guard base. So Coast Guards who we know are not getting paid right now can come to those local food banks once these bags get there and pick up food. I do want to talk to one volunteer who hung around for us. This is Nikki Lofton right here. And, Brooke, you know, she stayed all day with her sorority sisters. And I want to know from you, how did it feel to be here preparing food for federal workers?

NIKKI LOFTON, VOLUNTEER: It felt wonderful to be here preparing the food.

[15:45:00] We volunteered for four years in a row and this is the very first year that we would have needed to prepare food for federal workers who are employed by our government. It's troubling to us.

YURKEVICH: Did you ever think, you know, that you sort of would see the irony this this. That these with people are actually supposed to be getting paid. They do have jobs, but yet you're preparing food for them.

LOFTON: Absolutely. It's extremely ironic and also that it's MLK day. And this is a day of service normally for us to help those that are in need. These are workers that are here supporting our federal government and supporting individuals that live in this country. And it really is a shame that we have to prepare food for them. But we want them to know we are really with them and we're behind them.

YURKEVICH: Yes, and, Brooke, we're hearing that from a lot of people we spoke to here today. Just trying to do anything they can to give back to their fellow Americans. And Brooke as I'm sure you've been talking to a lot of people on the show, there are Americans that are really struggling right now and the people here today were happy to lend their hand to help.

BALDWIN: Yes. Everyone seeing is doomsday. Rent's due, mortgage, credit card bills. They're feeling it for sure. Vanessa and Renee, thank you ladies so much. As Vanessa and her guests so appropriately pointed out, it is Martin Luther King Day. But it's also turning out to be a pretty significant day for Democratic presidential and potential presidential candidates. We'll take a look at what they're doing to court African-American voters.


BALDWIN: On this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday several potential Democratic contenders for president have been appearing at MLK events today in an effort to court African-American voters. And group of voters it is critical, certainly to securing the party's nomination. CNN's Victor Blackwell tells the story today.


CYNTHIA HARDY, RADIO AND TV HOST: You're listing to "OnPoint". Give us a call 783-993-6783-wwdm. Our topic, Democrats are in the --

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 2020 presidential election is more than a year away but it's already the hottest topic on Cynthia Hardy's call-in show in Columbia, South Carolina.

HARDY: In a very odd way the current administration and the current President has lit a fire under African-American people.

BLACKWELL: And Democrats are introducing themselves to black voters at Martin Luther King Day events across the country today hoping to capture that heat. Senators Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker will attend Columbia's annual King Day at the dome. South Carolina's primary election is the first major test of candidates' strength among African American voters who accounted for more than 60 percent of Democratic primary votes in 2016.

JAMIE HARRISON, ASSOCIATE CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: So goes the African-American vote, so goes the Democratic Party.

BLACKWELL: Jamie Harrison is associate chair of the Democratic National Committee and former chair of the South Carolina State Democratic Party.

HARRISON: Part of the success that we saw in 2018 in the midterm elections came as a result of African-Americans mobilizing and getting the vote out. A cohesion and unity of the African American vote has been the real engine and the driver of the Democratic Party.

BLACKWELL: At Zion Baptist church, when President Donald Trump was compared to a biblical tyrant, the congregants shout, amen.

UNKNOWN PASTOR, ZION BAPTIST CHURCH: King Herod had one purpose and that was to build a wall.

BLACKWELL: They are ready for change.

(on camera): And who do you like?



HALL: Because I like him. I like his principles and what he stands for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden would be one person I would be interested in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do like Kamala. She is a voice as a black woman. I think that it is time for one of us to step up to the plate.

BLACKWELL: Senator Kamala Harris will travel to Columbia Friday to speak to more than 2,000 members of her majority African American sorority.

MAYOR STEVE BENJAMIN (D), COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA: You have to get out there and work. Earn votes one at a time. The interactions that Senator Harris had here last year, that Senator Booker has had here in the past have all been left very positive feelings for the citizens here. But there will be lots of other very credible candidates. So, I would take nothing to chance.

BLACKWELL: All Democratic hopefuls are making seemingly passionate pitches.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've had too many instances where young black men, especially, have been the victims of state violence.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The government itself has systematically discriminated against black people in this country.

REP. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK : You are never going accomplish any of these things if you don't take on the systems of power that make all of that impossible which is taking on constitutional racism.

BLACKWELL: Local experts say the key to earning votes here, tone and striking the wrong tone could be more effectual than getting it right.

HARDY: You know how sometimes you might not know what you want you know certainly what you don't? And that helps you to determine how you're going to examine the candidates. I think that's what we're going to see.

BLACKWELL (on camera): Now the Democratic energy in South Carolina is really focused on the primary. Because the last time a Democrat won that state at a general election was Jimmy Carter more than 40 years ago. And when it comes to African-Americans in the general election, President Trump was very optimistic in 2016 when as a candidate, he promised that he would win more than 95 percent of the African American vote in 2020. While the latest polls show his approval rating among African-American voters is at 9 percent. Back to you.


[15:55:03] BALDWIN: Victor Blackwell, thank you. Isn't that noteworthy? Is just about tone. And certainly getting it right but don't get it wrong.

Coming up, saddled with riffraff. Chris Christie now taking shots at some of the biggest names from the Trump administration. We're back in just a moment.


BALDWIN: 48 hours after walking away uninjured from a car accident, 97-year-old Prince Phillip was caught on camera driving without his seat belt. Police say, quote, suitable words of advice have been given to Prince Phillip. Thursday, the Duke of Edinburgh collided with another vehicle carrying two women and an infant. And while he was unhurt both women in the other car did suffer minor injuries. One passenger says police have not asked her for a statement.

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