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Giuliani Cancels Ukraine Trip; McGahn Told Mueller Investigators Trump Did Not Obstruct Justice; Trump Claims China Bears Coast of Tariffs but U.S. Consumers Do; Weather Hampers Cleanup After Barges & Oil Tanker Collide Near Houston; Emotional Tribute from Parents of Kendrick Castillo, Killed in Colorado School Shooting. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 11, 2019 - 17:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: It is 5:00 p.m. here in the east. You are live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Alex Marquardt in for Ana Cabrera.

When President Trump ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016, he openly called for Russia to hack her e-mails. And people working on his campaign met with Russian spies to deliver dirt on his rival. Now that he's president, now what does he have in mind for 2020? According to Politico, one thing that he's considering is having Attorney General Bill Barr investigate potential rival Joe Biden.

Specifically, he seems to be interested in allegations about the connections between Biden's son, Hunter, and a Ukrainian oligarch. This reporting coming as the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is standing down on his planned trip to Ukraine. He blamed Democrats for cancelling the trip, saying, they say I was meddling in the election. Ridiculous. But that's still their spin.

Now, CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood joins me with more. Sarah, Democrats were really outraged yesterday when they heard about Giuliani's plans to go to Ukraine. And here is an example of some of their comments.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA, CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Hearing Rudy Giuliani is inviting a different foreign nation, Ukraine, to involve itself in our campaign by conducting an investigation of a family member of the rival, the president apparently fears most, Joe Biden. So, they, again, are taking us down that destructive path.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK, CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We've come to a very sorry state when it's considered OK for an American politician, never mind an attorney for the president, to go and seek foreign intervention in American politics.


MARQUARDT: Now, Sarah, we should know that we don't know if the president had any advance knowledge of Rudy Giuliani's travel to Ukraine. But do you think that Democrats will now respond differently if he employs the same tactic that he did in 2016?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, Alex, Democrats are on heightened alert for this kind of action from the Trump campaign now that we do know the extent of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election. Although there was no evidence that the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to accomplish this. And Democrats certainly were highly critical of Giuliani's now reversed decision to go to Ukraine to talk to Ukrainian officials about the Biden family.

Now, to put this into context, this all goes all back to events that took place three years ago in 2016 when then Vice President Joe Biden was among several western leaders who pressured the top Ukrainian prosecutor at the time to step down. That Ukrainian prosecutor was investigating a Ukrainian energy company in which Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, had a financial interest. But Biden has told "The New York Times," through a spokeswoman, that he did not take any actions, based on his son's business activities.

And, as I just said, he was not the only leader calling for the ouster of that prosecutor. And there was no evidence that his actions were connected to his son's business. But, nonetheless, this is something that conservatives have seized on. And Giuliani reversing that decision to go to Ukraine after an outcry from Democrats -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: And, Sarah, what about this -- the other part of this reporting? What kind of response are you hearing, from both Democrats and Republicans, about the president possibly asking the attorney general to dig up dirt on Biden?

WESTWOOD: Well, Alex, we haven't had a lot of reaction to that request or that comment from President Trump that he would consider it within his rights to ask Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate the situation with the Biden family.

But, of course, if you look back to 2016, President Trump did get quite a lot of criticism, and continues to to this day, for indulging in these lock her up chants, by suggesting that the Justice Department should investigate Hillary Clinton for the classified information in her e-mails. Even after she was cleared by the Justice Department.

So, we have seen the president engage in this tactic before and he was met with criticism. So, it's likely that he could face that again if he goes down this road of calling for an investigation of Joe Biden -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. All right, Sarah Westwood at the White House. Thanks very much.

Now, with us now to go through all of this, our former New York City prosecutor, Paul Callan, and former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti.

Well, we have heard from Democratic presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren gentlemen. She was asked about Giuliani's decision to cancel his trip to Ukraine. And here's what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, Rudy Giuliani canceled his trip to Ukraine last night. What do you have to say about that?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, he never should have scheduled it to begin with. I'm glad somebody finally talked some sense into him.


[17:05:00] MARQUARDT: So, Paul, what do you think, did someone talk some sense into him?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't know. Giuliani would be better off going to Hawaii, I think, than Ukraine. I think the publicity relating to this trip has become an embarrassment for the Trump administration. And Giuliani, of all people, should know that he, Giuliani, is no longer an FBI agent or even a U.S. attorney. And if he suspects criminality, what you do is you call the cops. In other words, you call the FBI or you call the proper people to investigate it. Not somebody who is an attorney in private practice.

MARQUARDT: I mean, someone who is so high-profile as well.

CALLAN: And not only that, I mean, he should have the political sense to know that this doesn't help the president. It embarrasses the president to see him attempting to provoke a foreign country's investigation of the son of a -- of a candidate who's running against Trump. It's just -- it's bad politics and it's bad law.

MARQUARDT: And terrible optics.


MARQUARDT: Now, the president did tell us that this is exactly what he would do before he took office. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Clinton --


MARQUARDT: Renato, if you could, for a moment, put yourself in the mind of the president and ask yourself, on what level would it be OK to ask the Department of Justice to investigate your political rivals?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's very difficult for me to put myself in the mind of the president, because I'm a lawyer. I respect our legal system and our -- and our law enforcement system. And part of that is that we don't initiate prosecutorial decisions or initiate investigations based on a political motive. That's not the way that our justice system is supposed to be used.

So, I think I'm constructed differently than President Trump. I think perhaps he thinks that since he warned people that that's what he was going to do that that makes this OK. But I will just say, as a former Justice Department prosecutor, that is completely foreign to what I understand the purpose of the Justice Department and our criminal justice system to be.

MARQUARDT: Gentlemen, let's switch gears here for a second to Paul McGahn. CNN has learned that McGahn, who was the former White House counsel, when -- in the early -- the first part of President Trump's first term, that he declined to say, publicly, the president did not obstruct justice. This is something, however, that he told the Mueller investigators.

So, why decline to say it publicly, Paul? Why is this significant?

CALLAN: You know, I'm really -- I'm surprised that he wouldn't say it publicly. Now, just to be clear. Lawyers don't have to express an opinion about clients they represent. I mean, lawyers represent guilty people sometimes. They don't come out and say, it's might opinion he's guilty. Their job is to present the evidence, the legal evidence in the case.

But it's not unusual if the lawyer thinking a client is innocent to express that publicly. And particularly when you're representing the president of the United States and you've said it already to the Mueller investigation.

So, I think it's rather odd that he won't say that. And I think it's -- it hurts the president that his lawyer is not willing to say he's not guilty of obstruction.

MARQUARDT: Renato, why do you think he is trying to walk this line and not repeat something publicly that he already said privately?

MARIOTTI: I'd say a few things. I mean, first, he's also a witness, don't forget. So, he's a fact witness as to things that the president did. And I think that makes this more completed for him because he's witnessed some things. And, perhaps after reading the report, I think, it's not clear exactly what Mr. McGahn's opinion is.

I will say, from reading the Mueller report, what I got the sense of is that Mr. McGahn saw his place in history and did not want to do things that he thought were unlawful or shameful. He said, at one point, he did not want to be carried -- you know, initiating the Saturday night massacre, being known as the Saturday night massacre Robert Bork. And so, I think that, you know, given that -- give that mentality that he has, perhaps he's not sure the president is guilty. And, at the same time, he doesn't wants to anger the White House. So, he thinks the best course is to stay silent.

CALLAN: You know, Alex, I think also that the issue of privileges come up. Because the president has been so unclear. On the one hand, had being very cooperative with the Mueller investigation and then doing things to try to seemingly obstruct the investigation.

Now, McGahn is looking at a situation where the president has said, publicly, he's going to assert executive privilege. He's going to fight every subpoena that's been issued. And I suppose McGahn is sitting there saying, well, if I get out and start making public statements about the investigation, that will be a waiver of any privileges that the president might ask me to assert later on. So, I think that might be his legal reason for doing what he's doing.

MARQUARDT: Of course, this major question of whether McGahn will actually end up testifying in front of Congress.

[17:10:02] CALLAN: Absolutely.

MARQUARDT: Paul Callan, Renato Mariotti, thanks so much.

CALLAN: Thank you.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Now, this news just in to CNN. Rising floodwaters in Mississippi have caused a Norfolk southern train to derail. Coming up, the latest on the flash flooding and where the dangerous storms are heading next. You are live in the CNN Newsroom.


[17:15:00] MARQUARDT: After doing a little bit of political calculous, the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has changed his mind and called off his upcoming trip to Ukraine. The purpose of that trip was to look into the origins of the Russia probe and dig up dirt on the president's potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden. This decision comes on the heels, of course, of the Mueller report which had revealed that the Trump campaign welcomed help from Russia to get negative information on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

CNN Political Commentator, and former Clinton White House, Keith Boykin and CNN Political Commentator Tara Setmayer join me now.

Tara, first to you. Do you think it was simply the optics of a high- profile Trump aide going to visit a foreign government -- in the run- up to an election that drove this decision to call off the trip?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that was one of them, one of the reasons. And the fact that we are even having this conversation is surreal. Did we ever think that, in American politics, we would have the personal attorney of a -- of the president of the United States going over to a foreign country to try to dig up dirt on a political opponent? This is insanity.

But this is exactly what volume one was all about in the Mueller report which I encourage everyone to read because if you do, you will be horrified by the level of Russian involvement. Not only Russian involvement, but by the willingness by the Trump folks to accept stolen information and to be in cahoots with them. I'd say playing footsies with them. Even though it may not have been a criminal conspiracy. It's only because they were too inept to actually get -- go through with it.

This is a problem. And the American people should recognize it for what it is. This is not normal. This is not the normal course of political campaigns. I've been in politics for 25 years. This is not normal. And also, there are internal politics going on in Ukraine that -- or in Ukraine that were not welcoming to what Rudy Giuliani was trying to do. He was met by a lot of opposition in Kiev, trying to meddle in what was happening there. And he was not welcomed.

Even Kilimnik -- Krofne Kilimnik (?), who -- the people know that name from Paul Manafort. He a Russian intelligence officer, by the way. Even he said, you know, what is Giuliani doing coming over here? There's a new regime coming in and they were not friendly to Giuliani coming. So, I think it was a combination of both things.

MARQUARDT: And then, trying to justify this trip to Ukraine, Giuliani has said that there were legitimate questions about Joe Biden's efforts to remove a top Ukrainian prosecutor. That was back in 2016. That prosecutor had, years earlier, investigated a gas company connected to Biden's son, Hunter.

Now, as we see it currently, Joe Biden is at the top of the Democratic polls, leading the field. He very well may be Trump's eventual opponent in the 2020 general election. Before canceling his trip to Ukraine, Giuliani said this. We're not meddling in an election. We're meddling in an investigation which we have the right to do. There's nothing illegal about it. Somebody could say it's improper.

Keith, what do you think?

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, imagine this. I mean, Donald Trump has been complaining, for quite some time now, allegedly about -- that, supposedly, Democrats were spying on him. That the Obama administration were spying on him. That they were misusing the tools of the state in order to do so.

Well, Donald Trump has taken this to the nth degree and expound -- expanded on this. By now using the tools of the presidency to get his own personal attorney to investigate his chief rival, his chief political rival or his potential chief political rival. And not only that, he's also authorized or attempted to encourage his attorney general to go after his political rivals with investigations that are targeted for political motivations.

We've never seen anything like this since the Nixon administration when President Nixon created his enemies list. This is not what a president of the United States is supposed to do. And if there are any questions, one thing that we do know for sure, the standard is that you are supposed to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Attorney General William Barr have done exactly the opposite. They've created the appearance of impropriety. And this has got to be a disquieting set of circumstances for American people who are watching thinking there are no ethical standards in our government anymore.

MARQUARDT: So, when we take these two things together, Tara, the potential trip to Ukraine which has now been called out, and the president talking about how it might be appropriate for him to talk to the attorney general, Bill Barr, about launching an investigation into Biden, or his son, Hunter. What does that tell you about what the president is thinking right now about Biden and his chances?

SETMAYER: Well, it's clear that Trump is afraid of Joe Biden and he should be. And it's also clear that the president will also tell us, eventually -- he'll telegraph, eventually, what he's really thinking. We don't have to wonder for very long. Either he will have a Twitter tantrum on Twitter or he'll say it in an interview because he just can't help himself. It's also very revealing that the attorney general could not say, unequivocally, that no one in the White House had suggested, inferred, implied, asked him to open up an investigation.

[17:20:04] The question that Senator Kamala Harris asked him when he testified, he was, you know, trying to avoid actually answering it directly. Well, clearly, we know that the president of the United States has no problem, whatsoever, doing that. It is completely improper.

And I just want to set the record straight about something concerning this whole thing with Hunter Biden and Joe Biden and any impropriety in Ukraine. That's not true. This is a conspiracy theory being pushed by people on the right that want to discredit Joe Biden to try to create some kind of controversy.

The prosecutor that Joe Biden went over to Ukraine to try to push out, it was legitimate. The guy was corrupt. He was not -- he was not investigating corruption in Ukraine. And he -- they -- we weren't the only country that wanted him out of there. It was at a time when Ukraine was trying to put forth anticorruption efforts. That investigation into the company that Hunter Biden was advising, that had ended two years prior.


SETMAYER: So, there really is no conspiracy here, but they're ginning it up on the right to try to create one. So, hopefully, more and more facts will come out that will tamp that down.

MARQUARDT: Well, it's a very important point. Biden was one of several western officials, leaders, --

SETMAYER: Correct.

MARQUARDT: -- who had called on the prosecutor to step down. He was not alone in that, as you note.


MARQUARDT: The case was dormant, I believe it was.

SETMAYER: For two years.

MARQUARDT: And it was eventually dismissed --

SETMAYER: For two years. Eventually dismissed by the new prosecutor that came in after that prosecutor was removed.

Guys, when we look at this Democratic field, which Biden, as we've noted, is at the top of. We have Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is on the cover of this week's "Time" magazine. And in the cover article, she details -- sorry, the article about her details the -- her heavy focus on policy and on putting forward all these comprehensive plans for America's biggest problems.

Keith, when you look at what she is trying to do, which is really, really focus on policy, and compare that to what Biden has done so far, and the fact that he's at the top of the field, how do you compare -- which strategy, do you think, is going to be more affective?

BOYKIN: Well, I think that maybe the better comparison is between what she is doing and what Donald Trump is doing. Because he's not talking about policy at all. He's really talking about just demonizing his opponents and using, like I said, the tools of the government in order to go after them.

But I think it's instructive and it's important to see that the Democratic candidates, Elizabeth Warren being the leading among them, are putting out policy ideas. She's talking about specific ideas that she wants to do, even candidates like Andrew Yang have been talking about policy issues. And then, Democrats have 22 candidates who are in the race right now. Elizabeth Warren is the one, I think, who has the most positions that people can see on our Web site and seeing in her speeches and policy -- in her policy statement.

MARQUARDT: And we're seeing all those on the screen right there, that long list.

BOYKIN: Yes, you can see those on the screen as well. And not all those are going to be popular with everyone. But at least she's talking about the issues. At least she's talking about substantive ideas to move the average American family forward. You can debate about whether you agree or disagree. She's not talking about trying to just create fake investigations in order to go after someone.

And if Donald Trump has a serious argument to make the reelection, make that argument. If he has an argument against Elizabeth Warren or an argument against Joe Biden, make that argument. Don't make it a personal attack. But that's what we've come to expect from this guy.

MARQUARDT: Great discussion, guys. We've got to leave it there. Keith Boykin, Tara Setmayer, thanks very much.

SETMAYER: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, nearly 800 bucks a year. That's the dollar amount that the average American family will lose if President Trump's tariffs stick. And if -- and the products impacted, a very long list, may surprise you. You're live in CNN Newsroom.



MARQUARDT: We've heard President Trump repeatedly claim that tariffs are paid for by other countries, not by us. He justified them in a tweet a few days ago writing, quote, "For 10 months, China has been paying tariffs to the USA. These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results. The tariffs paid to the USA have had little impact on product costs, mostly borne by China."

Now, this is not true. So, either the president doesn't know how tariffs works, or he does but realizes they're not that popular politically.

Here's Republican Congressman Will Hurd, explaining exactly what tariffs actually are.


REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Ultimately, a tariff, we should think of a tariff like a sales tax.


HURD: On American consumers, right. So, it's going to be -- it's going to be more expensive for Americans to buy products, right. And so, that is why this has a long-term impact on the U.S. economy.


MARQUARDT: So, here's how tariffs actually work. The U.S. places a tax, aka a tariff, on foreign goods, in this case China. When a U.S. imports -- when a U.S. company, rather, imports those goods, like cell phones or clothes or fish, think about everything that has a sticker that says, made in China. Those products, those companies of those products are forced to pay that tariff. Companies can either absorb the extra cost themselves or, as they so often do, increase the price of their products. So, ultimately, you, the U.S. consumer, ends up paying for these tariffs. Not China. Not any other country.

So, joining me now is the former deputy U.S. trade representative, Ambassador Robert Holleyman, who served under President Obama. Ambassador Holleyman, thanks so much for joining me this afternoon.

AMBASSADOR ROBERT HOLLEYMAN, FORMER DEPUTY U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: You're welcome. MARQUARDT: Trump's tariffs could end up costing the average American,

as we understand it --average family, I should say, around $800 a year.


MARQUARDT: That's according to Oxford Economics estimates. We could see higher prices on products, ranging from cell phones to paper towels. In your view, are the president's new tariffs with China worth that cost to the American consumer?

HOLLEYMAN: Well, it's a step that, certainly, other presidents have been reluctant to take. Because we know that the consequence of having a big tax increase in the United States is not only bad for our economy, but it's also something that's politically difficult.

I think one of the challenge is what the president is doing in his tweets, by saying for his domestic constituency, that China is paying for these. When, in fact, China knows that they are not paying for these directly, it actually undercuts his negotiating position. Because he's putting things out that, fundamentally, China knows is not accurate. Which, then, raises questions about how the rest of the negotiation goes.

[17:30:03] So, I wish he would just call these what they are, say that trade wars are expensive. If there's a case to be made that we should carry out this trade war, then lay out to the American public why we need to pay this price to get to a long-term victory, but we shouldn't say this is a trade war without a consequence to Americans, because it clearly is one we will pay for.

MARQUARDT: One of the things he did lay out was in a tweet this morning when he said, "Such an easy way to avoid tariffs, make our produce your goods and products in the good old USA. It's very simple."

Robert, nothing about this appears simple, but, in your opinion, is it that simple for American business owners?

HOLLEYMAN: We've seen the tariffs in place for $250 million of imports. There's a proposal to come out on Monday for another $300 billion of imports. What we have seen by businesses, particularly small businesses looking for alternative supplies, for the most part they are looking elsewhere in Asia, looking at Vietnam, Malaysia, elsewhere. Very few are coming home, because we 1i6r7ly don't have the supply changes at home. So the challenges that Americans will end up paying more, clearly there are major problems with China. Those need to be tackled, but the tax strategy is a sort of doubling down in a way that says Americans will have to pay now that with the president as hope in the long-term Americans will get a good deal will remain to be seen how that works out.

MARQUARDT: Robert, it looked like the trade talks were doing well, but then we saw them break down this week in Washington. China's vice premier and chief negotiator said that, "The U.S. must remove all extra tariffs before a deal can be reached." President Trump clearly thinking he's negotiating from a position of

strength, but China certainly doesn't sound scared. Who has the upper hand?

HOLLEYMAN: I think it's a pretty strong match. The U.S. has an advantage, because our economy is very strong. You certainly talked to people on the Hill and the White House, they say we can afford to do this now, because the U.S. economy is strong. China exports more to the U.S. than they import, but the victims in this are most likely to be, first and foremost, the American farmers and others who are subject to retaliation. They will feel the first impact followed by consumers in the months ahead. I actually believe we will find a resolution. I believe both the U.S. and China want to come to a deal, but we will not see it right away. I suspect when the president and President Xi meet next month, they'll be on the verge of a deal.

MARQUARDT: And a lot of those farmers you mentioned in states that vote for President Trump.

Ambassador Robert Holleyman,, thank you so much.

HOLLEYMAN: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Now a collision in the Houston ship channel. It leaves 9,000 barrels of a gas product spilling into the water. Next, the urgent efforts to contain the leak.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:36:53] MARQUARDT: Flash flooding is being blamed for a train derailment in Mississippi along the Norfolk Southern line. You can see there some of the 28 railcars that were derailed after the tracks were washed out. The officials say 25 of those 28 cars were empty and no one was hurt.

The same storm system has complicated efforts to clean up a large chemical spill in Texas. It happened Friday after a tugboat pushing two barges collided with an oil tanker and 9,000 barrels of a gas blending product spilled into the Houston ship channel.

Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera with the latest.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been a week of intense rainfall here in the Houston, Texas, area as another third round of rain is expected to continue falling here this afternoon. So, many people here in southeast Texas waiting to see if any more serious floodwaters will rise out of the bayous and tributary systems that run their way out of Texas into the Gulf of Mexico.

The good news is for most of the last 24 hours, little to no rainfall. That's given previous floodwaters a chance to recede and give residents a break. That should be enough to get most areas through the worst of this flooding.

But the renewed rainfall and severe weather is going to be hampering efforts in another problem in the Houston ship channel on Friday afternoon. A vessel collided with two barges carrying 50,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock. One of those barges leaked about 9,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock into the Houston ship channel. Emergency crews are trying to contain that spill. Officials say one of the other barges was carrying a 25,000-barrel container is capsized but has not ruptured. They are trying to contain that and make sure none of that oil or gasoline spills into the ship channel as well. There's around the clock air monitoring going on. Officials here in Texas say none of the levels have come back harmful for residents in the area. But they are urging residents to stay away from the coastline and they will probably smell the effects of this spill for those residents who live close to the coastline in the area.

So far, no injuries and no reports that this spill is causing any kind of health impacts for the residents in that part of the Houston ship channel.

Ed Lavendra, CNN, Houston, Texas.


MARQUARDT: Thanks to Ed Lavandera there.

Police are saying one set of human remains has been found after an explosion at a Virginia gas station. At least three are unaccounted for. Four others were injured and taken to the hospital. Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the explosion on Friday morning, but they say it doesn't appear suspicious.

Now, yesterday would have been his last day of high school, but now his parents are planning Kendrick Castillo's funeral instead. In spite of their grief, they're honoring their bravery.


[17:40:02] JOHN CASTILLO, FATHER OF KENRICK CASTILLO: There's more good and love than there's evil. That's really the message, I feel, that we'll celebrate my son, you son. Kendrick was that example.


MARQUARDT: Their emotional tribute to their son, just ahead.


MARQUARDT: Van Jones had dedicated his life to reform the criminal justice system. Now, in his new show "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT," he brings together victims and offenders for an opportunity to talk, heal, maybe even forgive. This week, Van introduces us to an activist and a comedian whose 16-year-old daughter was gunned down in a gang- related shooting. Now her father wants to confront the man who took his child's life.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "THE VAN JONES SHOW: You've already been through a lot. For you to sit across from someone who took your daughter's life. You don't have to do it, man.

DONALD LACY, 16-YEAR OLD DAUGHTER GUNNED DOWN IN GANG-RELATED SHOOTING: That's what a lot of people have been telling me. Some people have been telling me, don't do it.

JONES: Why are you doing it?

LACY: I've been just imagining, when we make eye contact for the first time what's that going to be like for him? What's it going to be like for me? You know? I'm not going to bring her back, but I want to know it all. I have all these questions that I want to know. Why did they shoot off 40 rounds or whatever it was? Why were they so angry at this guy? Why? Why? Why? And there are some things I want to say that I've been carrying around.


[17:45:31] MARQUARDT: Van Jones, host of "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT, joins us now.

Van, good to see you.

JONES: Good to see you.

MARQUARDT: This murder was huge news in Oakland when she was killed 20 years ago. Tell us what happened.

JONES: This is one of the biggest cases in Oakland about 20 years ago, LoEsha Lacy, honor student, beloved, well known in the community, happened to be sitting in the wrong car at the wrong time with the wrong guy, and gang members sprayed the car with bullets. She lost her life.

The young man who was convicted of that murder has been behind bars all these years. And unbeknownst to the fact. has undergone his own personal transformation. So we brought them together.

Donald Lacy is a household name in Oakland, California. His slogan, "love life," that's what her name means in the African language, is the logo of Oakland. That gives you a sense of how big he is in Oakland.

Yes, he goes to San Quentin for the first time and sits down inside that prison. What happens is so remarkable. I hope people will check it out. It's one of the most transformational breathtaking things I've ever been a part of.

MARQUARDT: Van, her father, Donald Lacy, is a very well-known activist and comedian in the Oakland area. He says, for a parent who has gone through what he has, whose child has been killed, there's really no closure, so what is he looking to get out of when he meetings his daughter's killer? JONES: You know, that's the thing about this whole series. We found

-- the reason we're doing this series is because we feel I feel that the culture has gone 180 degrees the wrong way in terms of no compassion, no empathy, no listening. It's all call out. I wanted to do something, go the opposite way. Can we find an opportunity for healing and listening, even when it's very, very difficult? Forgiveness is not on the menu for some, but healing can still happen. Very often, parents don't know what happened. The person who is behind bars never took the stand, they pled guilty, so 10, 20 years later, they don't know what happened. Just to actually get across a table and ask basic questions can be incredibly healing. So he's just looking for some answers, but along the way. in this series, you learn a lot about what people go through on both sides of the crime.

MARQUARDT: We don't want to give too much away, but what I can say it's a very powerful, raw and emotional meeting. What do you think, Van, this tells us about this power of restorative justice, and the impact that these kinds of meetings between the victims and the offenders can have?

JONES: Well, listen, you know, we have a justice system that's set up a particular way, basically they're just trying to determine guilt, innocence, punishment, and we imagine if we can just find out whodunit, and then we think, well, now we're done. This is about the truth long after the crime, ten years later, 20 years later where often there's not been healing for the person who is a surviving family member, and sometimes the person who did wrong has actually bettered themselves somehow. And so it's the truth long after the crime, and the possibility of healing. I hope that people take away that restorative justice can actually, you know -- there's a need for punishment, but also a need for healings and some reconciliation sometimes, and this show beginning to paint what that can look like.

MARQUARDT: What an incredibly powerful project.

Van Jones, thank you so much for coming in.

JONES: Thank you.

[17:49:43] MARQUARDT: Be sure to tune into an all-new episode of "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" with Van Jones. That airs tomorrow at 9:00 P.M.


MARQUARDT: This week's "CNN Hero" is delivering meals with a dash of love. She's 75 years old and runs a small diner in San Diego but she also makes home-cooked meals for sick people unable to feed themselves. She has made and delivered over one million free meals and has been doing this for over 30 years. Meet Ruth Hendricks.


RUTH HENDRICKS, CNN HERO: There's a special connection when you're feeding people.

Let's do the veggie burgers.

In the beginning, our mission was feeding people living with AIDS. Now, we have added people living with other chronic illnesses. A lot of them are bed bound. Many times, they don't have the money to shop. It's kind of a desperate thing, when they don't have any food in the house.

Nice to see you.

It's bringing that love. It's bringing that dignity to them. This is the assignment that I feel that I've been given.


MARQUARDT: Good for Ruth. To see how Ruth got started and kept it going or to nominate your own hero, go to right now.

He was set to graduate in a few weeks to take the next steps into his life, but instead, he died a hero. And 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo was the only fatality in this week's school shooting in Colorado. He, along with two other students, lunged at the gunman to protect their classmates. Kendrick will be remembered as a robotics aficionado who loved fishing, hunting and cars.

His father says his son's decision to spring into action is an example of his selfless character.


[17:55:01] CASTILLO: Let me just say this. When you're raising a child and you're all in and spending of moment with them and you're a loving mother, like my wife, cooking food and working a hard job to give them whatever they want. And it's not just the material things but the attention and creating their favorite dish when they want it, you know, it almost becomes natural that you don't even realize that you're creating such an incredible person as my son. And as I've been telling people today as I've met, you know, it's community. It's his faith in religion. He's been a catalyst in the schools where he's been and where it's allowed us to be part of other people's families and the faculty in these schools. And I just can't say that enough. There's no doubt in my mind that he leaped into action because of all of those things. He knew that he had to protect people he loved, you know, and it didn't surprise me or my wife.


MARQUARDT: Our thoughts, of course, are with the Castillos.

I'm Alex Marquardt, in New York. I hope to see you back here tonight at 8:00 Eastern time.

My colleague, S.E. Cupp, continues our coverage of today's news right after a quick break.