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Another Horse Dies at Santa Anita Track, 26th Since December; Feds Fear Prison Escape if "El Chapo" Gets Outdoor Exercise; Trump's Trade War Reaches American Retailers; Utah Judge Suspended for Criticizing President Trump; U.S. Army's Tweet Prompts Heartbreaking Stories, Cries for Help. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:00] AMANDA ELLER, LOST HIKER FOUND AFTER 17 DAYS: Seeing the way that the community of Maui came together, people that know me, people that don't know me, all came together just with the idea of helping one person make it outside of the woods alive, it just warms my heart.

And there were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up. It did come down to life and death, and I had to choose. And I chose life. I wasn't going to take the easy way out.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: Pretty amazing, I chose life. Friends say her work as a physical therapist and a yoga instructor really helped her survive.

And this story, another race horse has died as southern California's Santa Anita Racetrack. This is the 26th horse death since December at this park and the third in just the last nine days. The latest horse was euthanized Sunday after injuring its front leg.

Santa Anita has temporarily stopped racing there. They had stopped that in early March trying to investigate what's going on at this track. There's also an increasing concern about horse safety at the track ahead of the Breeders' Cup, which is later this year.

Let's go to Nick Watt. He's following that story.

Twenty-six deaths, three in the last nine days. Do we have answers as to why?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet. We're expecting a briefing from track officials here any moment now. But right now, racing today is going to go ahead. The first race will be off in two and a half hours from now.

You mentioned, of course, they did close this track for much of March after a similar spate of horse deaths earlier in the year, 26 now dead. Listen, horses die at race courses. That's part of the situation, part of the reality. But a couple of real clusters of deaths have put the spotlight here on to the Santa Anita track.

Now, the district attorney is right now looking into it. They have put out subpoenas for documents. They are interviewing more than 60 people. They are trying to figure out what is going on.

But the necropsy results of the 26 horses, we do not have yet. Probably won't get that until sometime in June.

Some people are saying that the unusually wet winter in California might have contributed to this, making the track more dangerous. But we just don't know.

But PETA is saying suspend all racing until we know. Other people are saying, you know what, let's just be done with horse racing all together.

The industry is trying to put changes in place to keep going. They know that they could be facing here an existential crisis here essentially -- Poppy?

HARLOW: Because the numbers are unbelievable that this is happening, especially those three in the last nine days.

Nick Watt, keep us posted for us live there in Arcadia, California. Thank you very much.

So "cruel and unusual conditions" -- this is how the notorious drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, is characterizing his life in a federal prison in New York. He's asking a judge to intervene and grant him, among other things, more outdoor time. But prosecutors are fighting the request, saying Guzman successfully planned and executed elaborate escapes from two high-security prisons in Mexico and he may just be trying to plot one again.

My colleague, Polo Sandoval, is live for us in New York covering this story.

Look, he's done it before, not once but twice. This is a high- security prison. How could he escape from this one?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If there's anything we've learned, Poppy, covering Joaquin Guzman, if there's a will, there's certainly a way --


SANDOVAL: -- for the former head of the Sinaloa Cartel. As you mentioned, prosecutors are certainly afraid he could attempt an escape on this side of the border.

So what his attorneys are doing right now, they essentially filed a letter with the judge asking for additional privileges for Guzman. Among them, the ability to purchase more bottled water, earphones. Apparently, the former head of the Sinaloa cartel is complaining he's having trouble sleeping so he's had to roll toilet paper in his ears for a good night's sleep.

But what seems to be the real deal breaker for prosecutors, which is an additional two hour of outdoor exercise, or at least two hours of outdoor exercise a week.

U.S. authorities say they should not be taking a chance with him for various reasons here. The facility in lower Manhattan that's been home for him for the last two and a half years, the only outdoor space us up on of the rooftop. Now, while it is wired in and secured, the concern here is he could try to communicate to somebody in the neighboring building or potentially try to be removed from that roof by an accomplice. So authorities are asking that judge to reconsider this.

They do essentially have now, or at least the team has another week before they can present their case and the judge will decide whether or not to allow these additional privileges -- Poppy?

HARLOW: Wasn't it a helicopter that swooped in the last time he escaped?

SANDOVAL: It happened in 1981. This is a case that was cited by prosecutors. This was an inmate at this very same facility. He basically had his cohorts hijack a sight-seeing helicopter in New York. They tried to remove one of the inmates from the rooftops. That was foiled but the concern is there.


SANDOVAL: He escaped with this mile-long sophisticated, ventilated tunnel, which prosecutors say something like this would be elementary by comparison.

[13:35:14] HARLOW: I suppose.

Polo Sandoval, thank you for the reporting.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Poppy.

The president says the U.S. is not ready to make a deal with China to end the trade war. How American retailers are preparing for the impacts of the president's tariffs, next.

And have you heard about this? A judge on Utah's Supreme Court just suspended without pay. Why? Because he bashed the president. We'll discuss.


[13:40:13] HARLOW: President Trump weighing in on the current trade war with China. This is during his trip overseas. He's in Tokyo right now.

Here's the president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They would like to make a deal. We're not ready to make a deal. And we're taking in tens of billions of dollars of tariffs. And that number could go up very, very substantially very easily. But I think sometime in the future, China and the United States will absolutely have a great trade deal.


HARLOW: Quick and important fact-check there. The U.S. consumer, you, folks, are paying for those tariffs, not China.

After the president made that comment, China's foreign ministry criticized the United States for being inconsistent in trade negotiations. I think the U.S. could say the same of China.

U.S. consumers may start feeling the heat in terms of higher prices starting as soon as tomorrow.

My colleague, Cristina Alesci, joins us in Herald Square at the big, big Macy's here in New York City.

Maybe the sales are today, Cristina, but not only are the prices going to be higher on some items there at Macy's, we're talking about a number of different stores. And I think a pretty dire warning from Goldman Sachs, who said last week, if the U.S. moves forward with additional tariffs on additional goods from China, it's going to push the stock market down four more percent.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. The trade war is getting real for U.S. companies and U.S. consumers. A number of companies, including Macy's, right behind me. But we're talking about Walmart, Target, Kohl's, all warning that they will have to do one or two things, either take a hit to their bottom line or increase prices.

What retailers are grappling with right now are two things. One is the increase on tariffs on goods that already have tariffs on them. And we're talking about things like luggage, mattresses, handbags, vacuum cleaners. They are dealing with that and trying not to pass it on to the consumer and finding it very difficult to do that.

On top of that, Trump is threatening additional tariffs on $325,000 billion. That would essentially tax everything coming in from China into the U.S. And that is what has many retailers and Wall Street very nervous.

I want to read you a quote from the Macy's CEO just last week on the earnings call: "Looking at all those categories and those brands that are included, it's hard to do the math to find a path that gets you to a place where you don't have a customer impact," Poppy.

This is not anecdotal. I just want to point out that 29 companies have mentioned tariffs in their earnings calls over the last month versus just seven a year ago. HARLOW: Right.

ALESCI: And remember, a year ago, we were already talking about this. So these are real concerns. And to your point, analysts are becoming more negative about a potential deal happening here -- Poppy?

HARLOW: Yes, and you've got Walmart, the biggest retailer in the country, with their shareholder meetings coming up next week. Bernie Sanders, as we know, is going to be there now. I wonder what they are going to say about all of this. We will watch.

Cristina, thank you. Great reporting.

Another story we're following, a Utah municipal judge is being suspended without pay for six months because of comments he made - suspended six months for comments he made very critical of the president. He said it in his courtroom. He said it on social media.

We're talking about the Utah Supreme Court that set the punishment for Judge Michael Kwan, citing a history of politically charged comments.

Including this Facebook post on the day of President Trump's inauguration. Let me read it to you. Quote, "Welcome to governing. You will dig your heels in and spend the next four years undermining our country's reputation and standing in the world." And called it a "fascist takeover."

Recently, that judge suggested a defendant not rely on a tax refund for a court fine because the judge said President Trump would use that money for a border wall.

But Kwan's criticism isn't restricted to the president. He also made a lewd comment at one point in the past about former President Bill Clinton.

Let's talk about this. Former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu, is with me now.

So you have an interesting take on this. You've got the judge's lawyer arguing, look, he's entitled to his own free speech as long as it doesn't interfere with his rulings and the work that he does. What do you think? Should Kwan have been? Censured?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's an overaction, Poppy. From courtrooms that I've been in, the judges' banter in the courtrooms is pretty much off limits, they can do what they want, as long as -- of course, it can't be offensive to a litigant or demeaning in any way.

There's been political jokes I've heard from judges, even judges in D.C. And the critical point is, does it affect their ruling or not? And I would distinguish that from his posts on social media and also his positions as an officer in an advocates group. Those are probably inappropriate for a judge, particularly the position in the advocacy group.

[13:45:11] On social media, judges need to be careful. The judicial ethics vary from state to state, but they are pretty universal when they say the judge can't exhibit political biases or act in a way that's unbecoming to the dignity of the bench. So it's probably safer for them to stick to cute pictures of pets on social media.

HARLOW: Or stay off of it.

WU: Right.

HARLOW: Just saying.

It reminds me of last November when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts really pretty directly rebuked the president for using the phrase, "an Obama judge." And he said an independent judiciary is something to be thankful for. We don't have Obama judges or Clinton judges or Bush judges.

So suspending this Utah judge, I just wonder if you think, does it threaten judicial independence at all, or do his own comments do that?

WU: I don't think his comments really threaten the independence. Although, as I said, on social media and that position may be inappropriate.

It's worrisome in this climate. Obviously, a very conservative state. He may have liberal leanings. From what I've read, it doesn't not appear to be a diverse bench in that state.

It's part of a generalized approach that -- it could be alarming, particularly if you saw the current administration beginning to target Obama judges saying, oh, they are so biased that they can't even sit on our cases.

And we know the president is frustrated with some of those district courts.

HARLOW: Yes, that's a very important point.

Shan, nice to have you. Thanks for weighing in on that.

WU: Sure thing.

HARLOW: And of course, today is an incredibly important day. It is Memorial Day. The entire nation pauses to honor and remember America's fallen heroes. The Army sent a tweet asking people what service has meant for them. Many of the responses have been heartbreaking. We'll talk about that.

Also, the president once again lavishing a dictator with praise. But this time, it's at the expense of former Vice President Joe Biden.


[13:52:00] HARLOW: On the day dedicated to honoring our fallen servicemembers, striking a chord with many online is a tweet from the U.S. Army. It asks simply, how has service impacted you, but many of the responses are heartbreaking. One person responded writing, "I've had the same nightmare almost

every night for the past 15 years."

Another says his service impacted him by giving him, quote, "the combat cocktail, PTSD, severe depression, anxiety, isolation, suicide attempts, never ending rage." And he goes on to say, "It cost me my relationship with my eldest son and my grandson. It cost me some of my men. So much more. How did service impact me? Ask my family."

Melissa Bryant joins us now. She's the chief policy officer of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She's also a former Army captain and an Iraq combat veteran herself.

Melissa, our thanks to you for your service and sacrifice.

Reading this, seeing those responses, some people are torn. They say, did this backfire. But at the same time, didn't it also do a lot of good by opening up this incredibly difficult conversation to make us all confront it and talk about what these servicemembers have faced?

MELISSA BRYANT, CHIEF POLICY OFFICER, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Absolutely, it did. I think we always need to remember the sacrifice of those whom we've lost in battle. And we need to remember we lose so many after we come back from these wars. That's the message the IAVA likes to show or needs to show to the American public. I'm glad this discourse has now taken place.

I'm sure it was a bit embarrassing to the Army after they tweeted it, but it's a necessary conversation to have. So many of us, when we return, are not the same, and it could be for the better, but sometimes it can be for the worst.

HARLOW: And the Army responded by thanking everyone for their responses, saying, look, we have to talk about this and what's really happening. What do you think is the single most important thing we as a nation could do for the 20 million veterans in this country?

BRYANT: For the nearly 20 million veterans in this country, the best thing we can do is keep the conversation going. Don't let it fade from collective memory.

We've been at war for nearly 20 years and we're an all-volunteer force and a family business. I served. My father served for 27 years. He commissioned me. He was in Vietnam. My grandfather was killed in action in World War II. That's what I remember most on Memorial Day. He was buried in Italy.

We need to make sure the stories don't just stay in families like mine, that we share that with the public so you remember that there's still many of us who are on the front lines and many of us deployed around the world. And when we come back, we're still standing watch. Don't forget us. And don't forget our service. And even when we had the hard-to-talk-about things, we need to talk about those topics like veteran suicide and others.

HARLOW: Let's pull up the pictures again and just end on that, which is your grandfather having served in World War II. What does this day mean to you in his honor, in his memory?

[13:55:06] BRYANT: In his honor and in his memory, although I obviously never met him, I hope he's proud. I hope I continue a military legacy within our family as the first woman to serve in my family. So that's something we're proud of. And I hope that I carry with me everything that he has pushed through the bloodstream to me. That's why I remember his service today and every day.

HARLOW: No doubt he would be proud as we look at this beautiful picture of and your servicemember standing by that American flag.

Melissa Bryant, thank you for your service to this country and thank you for being with me today.

BRYANT: Thank you, Poppy. I appreciate you following us. And please, at 3:00 p.m., remember to go silent for the fallen, please.


OK. Melissa Bryant, thank you.

BRYANT: Thanks.

HARLOW: We're back in a moment.