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CNN NEWSROOM

Brock Long is Out as FEMA Chief; Ex-Air Force Officer Charged with Spying for Iran; A Record 7 Million Americans Are 90 Days Behind on Car Payments; Historic Street in Virginia to Be Renamed for Arthur Ashe; Confessed Serial Killer Draws Portraits for His 90 Victims; Bipartisan Senators Target Russia Over Syria, Ukraine Interference. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired February 13, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: More breaking news right now. FEMA chief Brock Long is planning to leave the agency and an acting administrator has been named. Rene Marsh is with me from Washington. What do you know?

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, FEMA administrator brock long will be resigning. We received two statements. One from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and she says in part over the last two years administrator Long has admirably led the men and women of FEMA during difficult historic and complex times. She goes on to talk about all of the natural disasters that he led the way on as far as recovery efforts from wildfires to the hurricanes that we saw during hurricane season last year but Brock Long, the head of FEMA saying he will resign.

According to a source familiar with this. We expect he could be leaving as soon as the next couple of weeks so they will have someone else in place, there is a deputy administrator who is there currently at the agency and he will become the acting administrator in the absence of Brock Long as a decision is made as far as who will be named to that position permanently, so Pete Gaynor, currently the deputy administrator, will then serve as head of FEMA until a permanent replacement is named or nominated so that's the latest here.

Remember, Brock Long didn't serve in this position without any controversy. He was under investigation by the inspector general looking into his use of government vehicles, traveling back home to North Carolina so there were issues he faced but we are being told it's not because of that why he is leaving, he's choosing to leave on his own but not many details around this resignation and why it is happening now, we just know it is happening now. Brooke.

BALDWIN: Once we're able to connect the dots -- which I'm sure you will Rene -- we'll get them on. Rene Marsh for us in Washington.

A former Air Force intelligence specialist has been charged with spying for Iran. Her name is Monica Witt, she is a former counterintelligence officer for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. She defected to Iran in 2013 and the Department of Justice alleges she was recruited by Iran to spy on the U.S. and they say her spying revealed the identity of at least one U.S. intelligence officer. Alex Marquardt is in Washington and Alex, explain how federal prosecutors say this went down.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a story of a young woman who spent years at the highest echelons of American intelligence as a surveillance -- sorry, an intelligence specialist and counterintelligence officer serving overseas on multiple deployments so she had access to the highest levels of information the U.S. government had. The timeline is important. She left the Department of Defense where she was a contractor in 2010. In 2012 she went to Iran for something called a Hollywoodism convention. Something put on by the Revolutionary Guard and essentially it slams the U.S. for its morals or lack of morals in their view and it sounds like in 2012 that's when the recruitment began in earnest.

She attended the same conference in 2013 and deserted and went to Iran in late 2013 and that's when she started to help the Iranians turn against her former colleagues. In this indictment it says she conspired to and delivered on what they call national defense information including the identity of at least one U.S. intelligence agent and a highly classified program that fell under the Department of Defense. Now she then helped hackers, cyber collaborators as the DOJ is calling them, to target at least eight of her former colleagues. Those included efforts through fake Facebook accounts as well as phishing and malware attacks to target people she had worked with to get information from them back in the United States, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Extraordinary. And cyber collaborators. Welcome to the new world in which we live. Alex Marquardt, what a story. Thank you very much for that.

Just ahead, just as the President might get more than a billion dollars for his border wall, the national debt just rose to a staggering new high, $22 trillion and counting. What this means for you next.

And a convicted serial killer who confessed to murdering 90 people is drawing portraits of his victims. What this could mean for so many unsolved cases.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: As a candidate, President Trump vowed to eliminate the national debt within eight years or two terms as President. Rana Foroohar is a global business columnist and associate editor for "The Financial Times" in the CNN global economic analyst.

[14:10:00] Good to have you on. Again, keeping in mind this is under a Republican President. Why should the average American care?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You should care about the debt because it can affect our borrowing costs. If it gets tougher for America to borrow money because we have a high debt and there's a sense that we may have trouble repaying this that means interest rates can go up and the borrowing costs on our cars it might go up. BALDWIN: Now what about Americans are almost three months behind on

their car payments. Red flag?

FOROOHAR: It is. It's correct. And that is something that a lot of economists have begun to worry about. We're starting to see concerns about people not being able to repay debt in areas like auto loans and student loans. The fact that we have this rising deficit at this moment, it didn't have to be this way. We can go back a year, 18 months ago. We were talking about tax cuts and the implications that might have. When you cut taxes, it increases the debt and deficit and we knew we were going to be here. Growth is slowing, you ideally want a budget that's reigned in, and higher growth in order to knock that debt out, now we have the opposite.

BALDWIN: Just talking to a CPA on TV speaking of the big Republican tax overhaul and how everyone's refunds will be smaller and not to be so surprised, right?

FOROOHAR: Exactly. And this is a time when we need consumers to keep spending and feel confident and when people see no refund or maybe even owing some money that will be a hit.

BALDWIN: Rana Foroohar, thank you very much.

Coming up, just as Virginia is having a statewide conversation about racism and whether to forgive its again of the blackface scandal, a street famous for so many of its confederate monuments was just renamed for the late tennis star great Arthur Ashe. We'll talk to his nephew who has ideas on how to make his state more inclusive and diverse.

[15:45:10] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Calls for Virginia's governor to resign over his use of blackface have splintered some in the African-American community. Some leaders want governor Ralph Northam to be forgiven and give a second chance. This discord comes as Richmond, Virginia, is about to make a major change to one of its most historic streets, the boulevard is about to be renamed for tennis legend and Richmond native Arthur Ashe. Ashe is the first and only black man to ever win three grand slam titles and when he retired from tennis, he became a champion for social justice. There is already a statue honoring his legacy on the same street soon to be named after him. And David Harris Jr. is Arthur Ashe's nephew with me live from Virginia. So, David, a pleasure to have you on. Thank you.

DAVID HARRIS JR., NEPHEW OF ARTHUR ASHE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: You were there when the Richmond city council voted to make the change and when you think of Richmond you think of Monument Avenue where all those Confederate monuments remain and a city where your uncle was barred to play on whites' only courts. What do you think he would be thinking about this name change?

HARRIS: This name change was a great opportunity for us to bridge the gap, take an opportunity to bring recognition to Richmond because we are a growing city and we are desiring of showing that we're more than just the former confederate capital and we're more than that now and more than just the statues and we have lots of opportunity here. Our mayor is promoting the fact that we are one city, which is very true. So, a lot of folks have connections and we all live and play here and we want to show we're growing and improving.

BALDWIN: But what's going on with the governor's mansion. The decision -- the timing is stunning. The decision to change the name amid this crisis where two of the three top state officials have admitted to wearing blackface. What do you think about that? Should the governor step down?

[15:50:00] HARRIS: I think the governor needs to do some -- needs to educate himself considerably but I will say this. Nationally and worldly, from a world standpoint, you don't need to do blackface to imitate or emulate a black star. You can just wear a costume and we can figure out who you're trying to imitate or emulate. But however, I think education will be key.

This opportunity to rename a street came -- we were already planning to have our piece but once the governor's situation came about, my group, we had a little bit of a panic but we took a deep breath and said this will be an opportunity for us to reach out and say, hey, even though this has occurred, we're here to lead and we're here to move forward because my uncle came about, my group, we had a little bit of a panic but we took a deep breath and said this will be an opportunity for us to reach out and say, hey, even though this has occurred, we're here to lead and we're here to move forward because my uncle left a blueprint.

BALDWIN: And with that blueprint look at what you're doing and Richmond. What would you like to see? What other changes could the state of Virginia to do, to do as you are doing and promote inclusivity?

HARRIS: Well, one is education. That's first and foremost. We need to start teaching our children not just in schools but parents at home, they need to reach and talk to their -- they need to explain what's going on and why it's going on and tell the truth of it. The history of how we have gotten -- how racism has continued to thrive unfortunately but as I said in our city council meeting, we will continue to coexist together. We'll have to do change. There's no way around it.

BALDWIN: David, thank you very much.

HARRIS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up, victim sketches decades in the makings. Look at these pictures. A convicted serial killer drawing pictures of the women he says he killed. Could they help solve cold cases around the country

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: A convicted killer is helping identify his victims. The sketches, all of them are women all painted from memory. The FBI is hoping the images will help them crack several unsolved cold cases. CNN's Jean Casarez is on this for us. So back up and tell us who this man is and what he did.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is amazing. His name is Samuel Little. He was living in a homeless shelter in Kentucky. He led a nomadic life all around the country different places. He was extradited to California on a narcotics charge. They got his DNA and ran it through the system.

They found that DNA match, three female homicide victims. That initially showed them wait, we have got something here. They decided to find out what his life was about. They put him through the FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program for felons. They found a profile on him. They linked him to Odessa, Texas. They knew he went through west Texas about that same time. The Texas rangers went out with the Department of Justice. They gained his trust. He started confessing to 90 women he murdered. They say the details were unbelievable he had on these women. He himself started to paint a picture of who he said these women were with amazing detail on these photographs. He was not that good on the time line when he murdered them.

Of these 90 two of them have actually been confirmed and identified. Family members told and now they have justice, 34 of the 90 have been confirmed to his confession. There are some that are about to be confirmed and some that are not yet corroborated at all. But the FBI is asking for anyone, if you a family member that went missing, didn't come back, you don't know what happened to them, this is between 1970 and 2005 to look at the pictures and contact them. They may be able to give your family member justice and answers you never been able to have.

BALDWIN: So, if you actually saw one of those pictures reach out to the FBI. 90 women. What an extraordinary story. I don't believe in closure but at least some families can move onto the next chapter. Jean Casarez, thank you so much.

We do have news involving legislation aimed at Russia. Let's go straight to Michelle Kosinski in Washington. What do you have?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: This is a massive bipartisan bill proposed in the Senate that aims to punish Russia for a vast array of bad behavior and in multiple ways. First of all, it is sanctions that would be harder than anything we have seen before. Again, it is bipartisan in the Senate from Senator Menendez saying President Trump's willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress.

[16:00:00] Republican Senator Lindsey Graham saying these sanctions are the most hard hitting ever imposed, if they were to be passed, and the direct result of Putin's desire to undermine American democracy. So would be bigger sanctions on different sectors of the Russian economy, on people, ranging these would be punishments for everything from meddling in democracy to, it's issues in Ukraine. And some of the things that this bill would require would be an assessment by the State Department of whether Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism. It would require a report on Vladimir Putin's net worth and assets, accounting of who is buying large amounts of residential real estate in the United States, and a two-thirds vote in the Senate if President Trump wants to leave NATO.

BALDWIN: Wow. Michelle Kosinski with the update there. Thank you very much for jumping in and gets us that reporting. In the meantime, I am out of time. I am Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.