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Democrats Flock Iowa Ahead of First Big Political Event in 2020 Race; Violent Protests in Hong Kong Over China's Extradition Bill; Steve Mnuchin Said Mexico Tariff Threat Can be Brought Back. Aired 4- 5p ET
Aired June 9, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walks on the door, and it's a man, you have some assumptions about what that means. And we've also been conditioned to not talk about it, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching all new episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" tonight at 10:00 Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.
Well, thanks for joining me. I'm Alex Marquardt in for Fredricka Whitfield.
Happening right now, the biggest political event yet in the 2020 race is under way. You're looking at live pictures from the Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where 19 of the 23 Democratic presidential candidates are speaking and trying to win over voters in that state, which holds the nation's first caucus.
A key contender is missing today. That's frontrunner Joe Biden, the former vice president. He has sent his regrets for missing the event. He is attending his granddaughter's graduation.
Biden's absence comes as a brand new poll from CNN and the "Des Moines Register" shows that the former VP is in the top slot in that key state with 24 percent. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, are all in a virtual three-way tie for second place. Senator Kamala Harris comes in fifth with 7 percent before a sharp drop in the rest of the field.
Now some of the 19 Democratic candidates attending today's dinner -- that's right, 19 -- are already making their pitches to Iowa voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president because we can't take four more years of Donald Trump. I'm running for president to beat Donald Trump. And I'm running for president because beating Donald Trump is not enough.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a president who lives like you live. We need a president who has the grit that you have. And we have a president right now that doesn't understand the dreams that you have. I will be that president.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While we are all united in the need to defeat Trump, there are disagreements amongst us as to the best way to do that. In my view, we will not defeat Donald Trump unless we bring excitement and energy into this campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: CNN's Leyla Santiago is at the event in Cedar Rapids.
Leyla, what have you heard from the candidates? What do you expect to hear from those who haven't spoken yet?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now Mayor Pete Buttigieg is speaking. That makes him the fifth candidate to go before the audience of about 1400 people. Those are activists and supporters who are asking themselves, who stands out? Who stands out and speaks directly to me? And while they're asking that, the candidates and the campaigns are basically thinking, how do we stand out?
So you're hearing some crafty lines. One that kind of stuck with me was Representative Swalwell. He compared the Republicans in 2016 to the "Hunger Games" and the Democrats for 2020, he says, well, they are the Avengers. So everyone is looking for sort of this breakout moment, something that will get a lot of hits on social media and TV.
Again, we are now on our fifth candidate. You've got about 14 more to go. Cory Booker kicked off the night and speaking last today is Congressman Beto O'Rourke. Some of the things we've been hearing -- I'm hearing a lot on abortion and also hearing a lot on gun violence. The overarching theme every single candidate talking about the effort to bring down President Donald Trump. Let's listen to what Tulsi Gabbard said earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I know the cost of war. I've seen it firsthand. For too long, we have warmongers from both political parties who have been dragging us from one counterproductive regime change war to the next, who are hyping up a new cold war and nuclear arms race now.
So as president and commander-in-chief, I will end our long-standing foreign policy of waging wasteful regime change wars that have taken so many lives, that has cost us trillions of taxpayer dollars and undermined our national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO: And Alex, we should mention that this is the largest event for the Democratic candidates so far in this cycle. The person who actually opened up the event said not only is it the largest, but because we have 23 candidates, it is also the longest Hall of Fame that they have had to date. Now take note of the timing. I know you and I have talked about this before. But we are just a few weeks away from when they all hit the stage in Miami for the first debate.
MARQUARDT: Nineteen candidates, five minutes each. Kind of like Democratic candidate speed dating.
Leyla Santiago in Cedar Rapids, thank you very much.
MARQUARDT: Now with me now is Ron Brownstein, a senior editor for "The Atlantic" and the senior -- CNN senior political analyst, as well as Jackie Alemany, from -- the author of the must-read "Washington Post" daily newsletter, "Power Up."
[16:05:10] Thank you both for joining me this afternoon.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Alex.
JACKIE ALEMANY, AUTHOR, WASHINGTON POST'S "POWER UP": Thanks, Alex.
MARQUARDT: Ron, let me start with you. We have seen this latest Iowa polling that shows that Joe Biden is still very much in the lead.
MARQUARDT: But that lead is shrinking. He is not at that dinner today. He has an excuse. He's at his granddaughter's graduation. How important is this dinner for those other 19 candidates to not just introduce themselves, but try to chip away at Biden's lead?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think, first of all, the poll for Biden is solid, but not at all spectacular. I mean, the low 20s is not a number that's going to scare anybody. And it shows there's a lot of room. It's a very open race. You know, I looked at some of the cross tabs, which hadn't been published yet. And the Iowa poll is very revealing of the overall structure of the Democratic race.
If you look at our CNN poll in Iowa and voters under 45, Alex, it's essentially a four-way pileup with Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg and Warren all around 20 percent. But it's those voters over 45 where Biden has a big lead, he's at 30 percent, 2-1 over the next closest candidate, that really has been pretty clearly his constituency both in these state polls and these national polls that the challenge for these other 19 candidates is that this poll shows a clear tiering.
I mean, there are five candidates who are in that -- you know, in that top tier. It's similar to national polls and I think there's a lot of work ahead for anybody who is behind them and is trying to kind of claw their way into that inner circle.
MARQUARDT: And now we're seeing Senator Kamala Harris who is in the top five, so kind of in that inner circle. She's just taken the stage in Cedar Rapids, kicking off her five minutes on that stage.
Jackie, I want to look at some of the other numbers from this poll. 65 percent are saying that it's more important -- so these are Democrats in Iowa saying that it's more important to nominate someone who can win in 2020 versus 31 percent who say it's more important to nominate someone who shares their positions. We just heard from New Jersey Governor Cory Booker who said that beating Trump is not enough.
When it comes to Democratic voters, do you think that's the case?
ALEMANY: I think that's something that Democratic voters are actively figuring out right now, which is why we have these cattle calls featuring 19 different candidates in one day. But that is a really good question, and I think that's what really separates Joe Biden right now from the rest of the pack. And I think why he's been able to sort of pull ahead as this known commodity at the moment. Sort of, you know, this discrepancy between he -- his view is that Trump is an aberration. Really we just need to get back to the middle ground here, push forward that once, you know, a Democrat gets back into office, he's going fix a lot of the problems that we've seen under Trump, versus the rest of the progressive pack who sort of is trying to address problems from a more systemic, fundamental level here.
And I think, you know, where this discrepancy also speaks to, as you're seeing in Joe Biden's enthusiasm numbers, he's not necessarily -- you know, despite the fact that he is far ahead of some of the other candidates right now, he is struggling with those enthusiasm numbers, especially in comparison to people like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg. And that I think is really on the basis of authenticity, speaking to positions and policies that they truly believe in and that they're passionate about.
And I think those numbers will really crystallize once we do get on the debate stage and see all these people really up against each other and as people start increasingly paying attention.
MARQUARDT: Some of the biggest names in this progressive pack are polling near the bottom in this latest poll. Let's look at the list of candidates who are below 3 percent in Iowa. Big names like Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand who we just spoke with. She's not even registering at 1 percent polling level. So here is Governor John Hickenlooper, formerly of Colorado, dismissing these early poll numbers. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Honestly, I think the polls at this point -- I mean, so many people aren't paying attention. I mean, everybody wants to do well in the polls, but at this point in the election, I think now that we get the debate, people will begin to start paying attention. But they're probably still not going to start paying attention until August, September, October. I mean, Jimmy Carter, when he ran for president, he was essentially a 1 percent or 2 percent, you know, right in through March, April, May.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: Ron, eight months until the Iowa caucuses.
MARQUARDT: Is he right?
BROWNSTEIN: It's a really interesting point. Really interesting. You know, he's right to an extent. But things have changed since Jimmy Carter. I mean, he's right that it obviously for most voters, it is early. And we have seen the debates do matter. There will be actual events that will change the way people look at these candidates between now and then.
I think where he's wrong is that, you know, it's true. That when Jimmy Carter won Iowa and New Hampshire, when Gary Hart won New Hampshire in '84, they were both at about 2 percent or 3 percent in the national Gallup poll, and that those early states were kind of like, to Stephen King's term, they were kind of under the dome.
[16:10:03] You could go into them and kind of create a constituency, even if you didn't have one nationally. I don't think that's true anymore. I mean, now we have something that's much more like a national audition, where the -- where most voters, even in these early states, are getting their information about the candidates through national media, and then not really hermetically sealed the way they were 40, 50 years ago.
And what that means is that one of the things that affects whether voters are willing to consider a candidate is whether they see you as viable in the national polls. So there is something of a self- fulfilling prophecy for this very large group of candidates that is stuck at zero percent, 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent in the national polls. And that it probably shrinks the universe of voters that are willing to cast their vote for them in these early states out of the fear that it's essentially a wasted vote.
MARQUARDT: All right. Interesting weekend in Iowa. Interesting days ahead.
Ron Brownstein, Jackie Alemany, thank you very much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: Now still ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM. We have --
Violent protests unfolding right now as huge crowds fill the streets of Hong Kong protesting a controversial new law. We will be going there, live, next.
MARQUARDT: We're following a major developing story out of Hong Kong, where there have been huge demonstrations. Organizers say more than one million people have been filling the streets to protest a controversial new government bill about extradition to mainland China. Some of these protests have turned violent, police using batons and pepper spray against demonstrators.
[16:15:14] The U.S. State Department says it is concerned with the new bill and is closely monitoring the situation. For more, we have with us CNN's Kristie Lu Stout who has been out
there in the middle of those protests all night, as well as Samantha Vinograd, a former senior adviser in President Obama's National Security Council.
Christie, first to you, we know that it's past 4:00 a.m. Things have calmed down a little bit. What are you seeing now and what did you see earlier tonight?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, the situation calmed down around the Hong Kong Legislative Complex Building where we were earlier. That is from the district of Admiralty. Now we're in the district of Wan Chai and Webster Road, and this is feeling like potential a flash point.
Let me describe the situation here. About a hundred or so protesters have been corralled, hemmed in against the wall of this building. They're being surrounded by 100, 200 police in riot gear. Speakers have moved in. About moments ago, the police moved in unison one step backwards.
There is a sense of anticipation that something is going to happen. We don't know what's going to happens next, but this is just another dramatic event on top of a dramatic day and night of protests and police action. A few hours ago earlier, the Hong Kong Legislative Complex Building, we saw that footage of hard core protesters clashing with police.
According to a Hong Kong Police spokesperson, they told CNN that protesters used the metal barricades to attack the police and the police responded with pepper spray, as well as with batons.
We also learned that at least two police officers were injured. They're seeking treatment. There are also reports that protesters were also caught up in the mix. They were injured, as well as journalists.
This follows what was and had been a peaceful day of mass protests here in Hong Kong. At issue, this proposed extradition legislation that would -- critics fear that would allow critics of Beijing to be able to be extradited into China and inside China not have access to a free and fair trial.
Now the Hong Kong government says that is not the case. The legislation is needed in order to cover up a legal loophole that exists in the current law. But a lot of the protesters say they are not buying it, and the protests even at this hour is continuing.
Back to you.
MARQUARDT: They're continuing. There's lots of uncertainty, a lot of anger.
Sam Vinograd, to you. When U.S. officials look at these scenes and take stock of this uncertainty, what would the State Department, what would the White House be concerned about right now? SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we have to
consider this against the backdrop of broader Chinese encroachment against various territories in the Asia Pacific region more generally. Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under what we call a one- country, two-system set of arrangements under which Hong Kong would maintain various autonomy, its own institutions, and various freedoms like the freedom to protest, for example.
If this bill passes, which it's expected to do, based upon the majority pro-Beijing coalition in Hong Kong's legislature, that could erode some of the autonomy that Hong Kong's legal system has had under this 1997 arrangement. And when the State Department takes a step back and looks at perhaps China having more control over Hong Kong, one of its legal territories, along with the fact that China is really increasingly aggressive against Taiwan, another country that it considers to be part of mainland China, and in the East China Sea, South China Sea, and basically all throughout the APAC or Asia Pacific Region.
So the State Department is likely weighing how heavily to weigh in right now with respect to this potential extradition bill. Based upon the broader policy that China is pursuing in the region.
MARQUARDT: Kristie, when we look at these scenes, and we're just looking at a sea of protesters out there, we can see all of them behind you, organizers saying more than one million people turning out, I believe the Hong Kong population is somewhere between six million and seven million people. So this opposition is quite widespread.
STOUT: Absolutely. Opposition to this proposed legislation is very widespread for the reasons that Sam just laid out because it cuts to the heart of what makes Hong Kong Hong Kong. People are fighting for the continued autonomy of Hong Kong and not only the ordinary people of Hong Kong who are against this proposed bill, but the business community in Hong Kong.
The American Chamber of Commerce has also voiced their concerns about it, as well as the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it wasn't that long ago when a group of pro-democracy legislators from Hong Kong went to Washington, D.C., visited with the State Department, and made their case to Secretary Pompeo, and he expressed concern about the legislation. But you really felt how widespread the opposition was when you went out on the streets earlier on Sunday.
It was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a sweltering Sunday in Hong Kong, and yet you saw the elderly, senior citizens going out to protest.
[16:20:06] Families with young children and babies even making the long two-hour march from , that's where the Legislative Council Building is based, just underscores how deep the opposition is here in the special territory.
Back to you.
MARQUARDT: Sam, we just saw the anniversary, the 30th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square. Hundred, maybe thousands killed. We heard Secretary of State Mike Pompeo come out with a very pointed statement accusing the Chinese government of human rights violations. Have we heard anything from Washington, from State Department, from the White House on this? What would you like to be hearing from them?
VINOGRAD: Well, Alex, I want to point out that Secretary of State Pompeo did issue that statement about gross human rights abuses over a decade -- several decades ago. But the current administration has not taken action to curtail ongoing Chinese human rights abuses. We have the mast detention of Muslim minorities in China and the administration hasn't even initiated a statutorily required human rights investigation into those Chinese practices. So they should focus on the president and not just look backward.
With respect to this current situation, the administration should make very clear that Hong Kong's autonomy is legally protected under this 1997 arrangement. And that the -- that that arrangement should continue going forward while concurrently stating that China's ongoing aggression in the Asia Pacific Region is not something that the United States will put up with. We had Chinese aircraft intercept an American military asset just a week or two ago in the Asia Pacific.
Again, we are seeing China continue to raise the volume on its aggressive behaviors throughout the region. So this incident in Hong Kong is an existential one for Hong Kong, but it is part of a larger policy of China trying to encroach on autonomy more broadly.
MARQUARDT: And we're seeing China growing ever closer to Russia, as well, against American interests.
Sam Vinograd, Kristie Lu Stout, our thanks to you.
Now we have breaking news out of Dallas, where a crane has collapsed on a building that appears to be an apartment complex. You can see right there part of that building was severely damaged. Local affiliates are reporting there may be injuries. CNN is still trying to confirm that information.
The area is dealing with severe storms with damaging winds. We will continue to watch this and update this story as we learn more. We'll be right back.
[16:26:16] MARQUARDT: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is warning that the threat of sweeping tariffs against Mexico could be brought back if Mexico doesn't live up to its pledge to stem the flow of migrants to the U.S. border. Mnuchin was at a G-20 finance meeting when he told CNBC, quote, "I have every reason to believe that they will meet their commitments, so I think that will be the case. But if for whatever reason they don't, the president reserves the right to put on tariffs."
Meanwhile, the "New York Times" in a new report says that the deal with Mexico maybe isn't so new. "The Times" citing sources said that many of the actions agreed to in the deal were actually hammered out long before Friday's deadline, months ago, including the pledge to send troops to its border with Guatemala, which the paper reports was agreed to back in March.
For more, I want to bring in our Boris Sanchez from the White House.
Boris, how is the president now pushing back on this reporting that this actually isn't all that new a deal?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, the president sent out a spree of tweets this morning, sort of downplaying this reporting in the "New York Times," and insisting that he deserves more credit that he's getting for this newly brokered deal between the United States and Mexico on immigration. The president suggesting that previous administrations tried to get portions of this deal on the books with Mexico, but they couldn't. And he could.
He also revealed that apparently there's a portion of this agreement that the Mexican government and the Trump administration have yet to make public. He says that he's waiting for the right time to do that. Administration officials are backing up the president's suggestion that it was the threat of tariffs that really brought the Mexican government to the negotiating table.
Listen to what the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, said on one of the Sunday morning talk shows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The president put a charge in this whole dialogue with Mexico with the terror threat, brought them to the table. The foreign minister from Mexico arrived within hours, he arrived the next day and with real proposals on the table. This is the first time we've heard anything like this kind of number to law enforcement being deployed in Mexico to address migration, not just at the southern border but also on the transportation routes to the northern border and in coordinated patrols in key areas along our southwest border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: As for Secretary Steve Mnuchin's comments about the potential for tariffs to still be at play in these discussions, look, these two sides still have 90 days to iron out further agreements on the issue of immigration. It could potentially be a way to try to keep that over the Mexican government's head to try to push them for further agreements, further concessions in the negotiations.
But we should point out, the president has been very aggressive on this issue of immigration, and he's made similar threats before. Just a few months ago, he suggested that he might shut down the entire southern border with Mexico until he was talked out of it by aides. We'll see the president returning to this sort of aggressive tone and these sorts of threats moving forward as we get closer and closer to 2020.
The really fascinating aspect of this is that he's threatening tariffs on an issue that isn't based on trade. This is immigration.
SANCHEZ: So the question moving forward is whether the president will make these sorts of threats on tariffs, on allies, for issues that have nothing to do with trade, perhaps telecommunications, on Huawei with certain allies suggesting that they might continue buying from that Chinese telecommunications company, or a host of other issues. Really, it is uncertain at this point what the president might do.
MARQUARDT: Yes, absolutely. A very good point, Boris. Weaponizing economic tools for the sake of immigration policy.
Boris Sanchez on the North Lawn of the White House, thanks very much.
MARQUARDT: Still ahead, George Conway is back on Twitter, slamming his wife's boss. Calling President Trump, quote, "mentally unwell." More on that, coming up.
[16:30:01] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news out of Dallas where a crane has collapsed on a building that appears to be an apartment complex. You can see in these aerial images that part of that building was severely damaged. Local CNN affiliate, KTVT, is reporting at least two injuries. The area has been dealing with severe storms and damaging winds.
You can see there the incredible damage that this crane has caused as it collapsed on that building. Again, according to CNN affiliate, KTVT, there are two injuries. We have reached a witness who saw this happen. Her name is Bianca Harper-Kelly. Bianca, can you hear me?
BIANCA HARPER-KELLY, CRANE COLLAPSE WITNESS: Yes.
MARQUARDT: What did you see?
HARPER-KELLY: We were on our way to the 230 corral performance. We were trying to drop our baby off. He's only five months. With a friend of ours that lives in the apartment. So we had made a u-turn. We had missed the turn. We were at the intersection of (Inaudible) and I don't recall the other street. But the crane was directly in front of us.
And the apartment complex that got hit was in front of us to the left, which is where we were trying to get into. You know, the rain started coming down, and all of a sudden this big breeze started picking up. And debris started flying around. So I'm, like, OK, I've got to get my family somewhere safe. And this car was not safe. So we had never been here before so we were on the phone with our friend that lives there who was in the elevator trying to come meet us.
[16:35:00] And she said try to get in the parking garage. And I said, OK, well, give us one second. There's, you know, some wind going on. Once the debris clears, I will head in there. As I said that, the crane started to sway and it kind of looked like it was spinning like a normal crane would do in windy situations until it took one tip and my wife and I watched it slowly. And we were trying to tell her, the crane, the crane, get out, get out.
And I mean it just -- it happened in seconds. And the crane completely collapsed. And then every bit of debris came up. And I went and put my wife and the baby in the car somewhere else. I ran to try to see where our friend was at, what was going on. And that's when I saw how bad the situation was.
MARQUARDT: Bianca, did you see anyone who may have been hurt? Did you hear about any of the injuries?
HARPER-KELLY: Yes, yes. So there was one female that was pretty bloody in her face who was explaining to me -- I was asking her, are you OK? What's around you? I was trained in certain situations on how to keep people calm. And so she was pretty bloody. I said do you have anything near you that you can wrap yourself with? And she was, like, said no, I live on the fourth floor. She was now on the second floor.
To my right, like, two windows down to the right, also on the second floor was a gentleman and another female who she said lived above the gentleman that was standing there with her. There was nothing behind them. Everything had collapsed to the bottom floor. He was desperately looking for his fiance who I was helping him scream for.
There were people videotaping and taking pictures rather than helping these people. And my wife is trying to get a hold of 911. Their signals were busy. Everything was down. She was trying to get through. And the only thing that I could think to do in this moment was try to see how I can help if there were people that survived. And the people that were injured -- I mean there were only three people I could find that where the building had been crushed.
I tried to help scream for his fiance, but I mean there was nothing but -- it was horrific, nothing but debris. And the first floor was covered in everything that was above the first floor. Everything came completely down.
MARQUARDT: For anyone who is just joining us, what we're looking at are aerial images from CNN affiliate, KTVT, of a crane collapse in Dallas. We are speaking with Bianca Harper-Kelly. Bianca, can you tell us a little bit about this area? What are we looking at here? What kind of -- what are part of Dallas is this?
HARPER-KELLY: It's pretty close to Deep Ellum. The Latino Cultural Arts Center is actually right across the street. When they were forcing people to vacate, that's where everybody was standing, pretty close to downtown Dallas, lots of high buildings, a lot of construction. Deep Ellum is pretty, you know, it's a younger crowd, a lot of the people that were, you know, probably in the building either just graduated, pretty close to my age, 20s, early 30s.
I mean, there were families that were coming out, other people with babies like myself that were coming out of the building, so...
MARQUARDT: Is this the kind of area where there would be a lot of people around on a Sunday?
HARPER-KELLY: Oh, absolutely. This could have been a lot worse. I mean, I don't know how bad it is. I mean, I just ran in and tried to help until emergency services got there. Once they got there, my next thing was to get my family as far away from the situation as possible. Because I didn't know if the building was going to collapse any further or what kind of -- you know, I am not an engineer.
And I'm not here to decide whether the building is going to collapse or not. And I just needed to get out as soon as I knew these people had help.
MARQUARDT: OK, we are looking at extraordinary aerial images of what looks like the floor of a parking lot that has collapsed with a hole several floors deep. Bianca, we have seen pictures of emergency vehicles that have gathered. You said that you tried to call 911 and weren't able to get through. Do you have a sense of the emergency response?
HARPER-KELLY: It was fairly quick. I mean, I was able to shuttle cars that were in that -- it was a big open space to get into the garage. And so I was getting cars out of the way, calming the people down upstairs, that way my wife was letting me know -- I mean it was a matter of five minutes that we had emergency services there.
You know, they came -- as soon as we could get through. My wife let me know, you know, they're on the way. And that's when I was relaying to the people that were stuck, like, please don't jump. Don't move. Because they were asking, do I need to get out? Do I -- should I jump down? I am, like, no, do not move. The worst thing you can do right now is hurt yourself further. Stay right here.
I am right here with you. Stay calm and, like, help is right here. I mean -- and as I was saying that, you could hear the sirens pulling up. And I mean, in a matter of 10, 15 minutes, there were, you know, 10, 15-plus and they just kept coming. So the help was quick and it was a lot.
[16:39:51] MARQUARDT: And you can see this crane that has fallen right on to this building here and collapsed part of that wall there, if not more. As far as we know so far, at least two have been injured. Bianca, I want you to stay with us on the line. We're going to bring in our CNN Meteorologist, Tom Sater. Tom, we understand that it was high winds -- there have been high winds in this area. How could that have contributed to this crane collapse?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, a watch went into effect, Alex, at 9:00 a.m. this morning, a severe thunderstorm watch. We did not see any indication of radar-indicated tornadoes. There have been a few reports from the public of possible funnel clouds. But we do know that they had a wind gust of 71 miles per hour. The airport sustained a little bit of damage. There were some snapped trees and uprooted trees in some of the
suburbs, as well, ping-pong ball-sized hail. But the radar, pretty much, if you want to take a look at this, it has blown right through. You can tell from the video there that the skies are clear. The sun is out. But again, when this line came through, straight line wind damage most likely is going to be the problem here.
Of course, investigators will take a look at this, and they're going to go back and recap up everything as far as how does it go hand-in- hand with the radar. Now, we still have a threat in Texas, because the Storm Prediction Center has given us a level three out of five. It's an enhanced area. So far, we've had 33 wind reports in and around this area.
Five hail as mentioned and the larger sizes, but south of Dallas, Alex could be an issue a little bit later on in Waco down toward Austin just north of San Antonio. Again, it's a level three out of five. Typically, when a line like this moves through the Dallas area, some of that heavy rain helps to stabilize the atmosphere, so we're not looking at anything renewed to move in to the Dallas Metroplex.
But again, I think the big news here. They did have a watch that was issued at 9:00 this morning. So part of their investigation, obviously, will be on this construction site. And did they have everything secured properly. But 71-mile-per-hour winds, definitely strong enough to do some damage. And that's exactly what we have, unfortunately here.
MARQUARDT: Tom, that's extraordinary, because the pictures that we're looking at, you know, they are -- it's clear blue skies. It's sunny out there. And yet, you say there is a watch. Do you have any sense of what construction companies or anybody who is operating a crane is supposed to do when there's a watch, and obviously that's going to be a question that investigators are going to be asking.
SATER: Well, I mean, that's a great question. I mean, obviously, it's the responsibility of that construction team and crew there to secure all of this. Now, there was video earlier that was released of another building with a larger crane that was under construction. And you could see the debris flowing at the top of this building that was under construction.
Whether that was insulation or, you know, sheetrock or what have you, it was still under construction at the top of the tower. So obviously, they knew this was coming. The watch was in effect at 9:00 this morning. So again, they had ample time to know that this was coming. The Storm Prediction Center has indicated to be a problem spot for the last -- over 24 hours.
So they have been hit hard, Texas, in the last couple of weeks. We were set up in a pattern that was just relentless with the number of tornadoes from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, into the Missouri Valley. But again, there's still a few more out there. But Dallas is going to be in the clear tonight. And so that's good news, at least to give investigators some, you know tranquil weather to at least continue what they're going to be doing for the next 24 to 48 hours or so. MARQUARDT: All right. Tom, we've just gotten some new video of the
actual crane collapse that I want to show our viewers. You can see here it looks like user-generated video. You can see there that crane going right over, the weather far worse than what we are looking at currently. Let's just play this one second, all right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god, the crane is falling over, oh, my god.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: All right. That crane going over in what looks like pretty severe weather, Bianca, if you're still with me, can you describe what you're seeing there?
HARPER-KELLY: I mean, it -- state of shock, state of panic. And I had never seen anything like this before in my life. I was not expecting to see this on a Sunday afternoon. This came out of nowhere. And I just -- my heart goes out to those that I ran in to go help, and those that they had me trying to help locate that I unfortunately could not locate while I was trying to help them.
MARQUARDT: Tom, back to you. I mean, I just mentioned the contrast in the weather there and that video where we see the crane going over. It was very clearly bad weather. And now it looks to be quite clear out there. Is that pretty -- is that standard? Is that -- would that be expected for this kind of weather patterns, for that warning that was in effect that you mentioned?
SATER: Yeah. It's kind of a complex system that we have been watching down in Texas. When you have a line of severe weather rush through an area, especially on radar when it kind of looks like a bow, we call it a bow echo. That's a signature of straight line winds. It doesn't mean there wasn't a tornado here. But many times with those echoes racing and this one coming almost from the northwest to the south southwest.
[16:45:03] When they blow through, your skies will clear pretty quickly. Now, in the video you were showing where the actual crane collapses, there is another tall building just to the left of that. At the very top of that tower, that's the one we were talking about before. There were other angles around on social media showing the debris getting thrown around.
You'll see where the crane is. And there is a taller one just to the left. And that one was under construction it looks like, as well. And I think that's the same building and construction site where we had the other video of the debris flying around. But it's not unusual to have the skies clear up behind a system like this. The threat, as mentioned, does move to the south now.
And I really think Dallas is going to be in the clear once some drier air starts to move in, and the rainfall associated with this kind of stabilizes the atmosphere somewhat. So at least for those that are dealing with this unfortunate event, they're not going to continue to have pouring rain into this area.
And, of course, for first responders and rescue workers to do their job, at least they're not going to have to worry about any more strong winds moving into the area. That's great news.
MARQUARDT: All right. That is good news. We do know that there are first responders there in the area. We also know that at least two people have been injured. That is according to local affiliates. Those pictures you're seeing there from CNN affiliate, KTVT. We are going to take a quick break. I want to thank Tom Sater and witness, Bianca Harper-Kelly. We will be right back.
[16:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARQUARDT: We are following breaking news out of Dallas, Texas, where there has been a crane collapse on a building that appears to be an apartment complex. You can see right here in this aerial video that part of that building was severely damaged. Local CNN affiliate, KTVT, is reporting at least two injuries. The area has been dealing with severe storms with high and damaging winds. We'll stay on that story and continue updating as we learn more.
Now, switching gears, George Conway, the husband of top Trump aide, Kellyanne Conway, is once again taking shots at the president's mental health. This morning on Twitter, Conway tweeted this about his wife's boss. You're not presidential at all, period. You're mentally unwell. You engage in bizarre, irrational, self-defeating behavior, which prompts criticism of you, which triggers more bizarre, irrational, self-defeating behavior. You would have been fired from any other job by now.
Brian Stelter, the Host of CNN's Reliable Sources, joins me now. Brian, Conway, obviously very, very vocal on Twitter, has been for a long time. You and he had a back and forth recently on Twitter. Take us through that exchange and your reaction.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN RELIABLE SOURCES ANCHOR: Yeah. He's out there today as he has in the past. But he did this to raise the volume on his comments about his wife's employer. So Conway today saying that the president is psychologically unfit. He should resign and seek treatment. I said this is astonishing to see the husband of a top White House official say this on Twitter.
Here's what Conway wrote back to him. He said, what is astonishing is the media's and the nations utter failure to confront the fact that we have a psychologically unwell and unfit president. That's the latest comment from George Conway. Look, he has avoided saying these kinds of things on television or at public events. Instead, he has chosen Twitter as his forum, as his medium.
There are -- some people think that George and Kellyanne Conway, it's like some sort of staged wrestling act. Give me a break. This is a high-ranking Republican lawyer, decades of experience, who has been calling out Trump while his wife works in the Trump White House. It's a very strange situation, but in some ways it's just a really heightened, extreme version of what's happened in a lot of families across the country, families that have lots of disagreements about the president.
Obviously, the difference in this case, Alex, is it's the husband of a top White House aide saying the president's mentally unwell and needs to resign.
MARQUARDT: Yeah. Whether fabricated or not, it is extraordinary dynamic to watch play out. But Brian, it's not just people who are outside the administration like George Conway who is saying this. You earlier on your show had CNN's Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta this morning. He's out with a new book. It's called Enemy of the People.
And in that book, he quotes an unnamed senior White House official who said "the president is insane." Here's his response to whether that person was being literal or not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think he was venting his frustrations, this particular official. We sat down one afternoon to talk about how things were going with this particular source's area of expertise. I don't want to get too deeply into that. But flopped down in the seat in front of me and said the president is insane.
And I later went back and talked to this official and said, well, why did you say that? And this official said, you know, really, I was just frustrated with the president's lack of understanding about the constitution, the constraints placed on the presidency, you know, guard rails that were put in place by our founding fathers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: So Brian, in listening to Jim, what do you think, literal or not?
STELTER: Right. Jim was saying, you know, it's the idea of crazy versus crazy like a fox. And Acosta usually comes down on the side of crazy like a fox. And that's what's going on when we see erratic behavior and other conduct from President Trump. But clearly, there is this incredible, you know, dissent that sometimes occurs among White House aides, among former aides.
And again, even people that are in that inner circle, in that orbit, like George Conway who is married to one of the president's top advisers. It is not normal for us to be talking about whether the president has a mental stability issue. And yet, that's been going on now for quite a while, hasn't it? It is notable that Conway continues to raise his voice about this issue.
MARQUARDT: Yes, he does, and with you.
MARQUARDT: Brian Stelter thanks very much.
MARQUARDT: All right. This week's CNN Hero was wrongfully convicted and then locked up in a Texas prison for 15 years. After a full exoneration and starting his life over in his mid 30s, Richard Miles has spent his newly found freedom reaching back out to help others transform their lives after leaving prison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:54:47] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom would always tell me, when you look out the window, don't look at the bars, look at the sky. I could change my perception within the place of incarceration. At the end of the day, be confident in your change. The idea really started from inside. People get out and they come right back in. I said if I ever get out, man, we're going to start a program and we're going to help people.
Acknowledgment, transparency, and forgiveness, these are the three essential things we need when we are coming back home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: To hear more of Richard's incredible story and see how he helps change parolees' lives, go to CNNHeroes.com right now. We are continuing to follow breaking news out of Dallas, Texas. Here, you can sea aerial images from CNN affiliate, KTVT, where there has been a crane collapse. We know that at least two people have been injured.
We will have more on this news out of Dallas just ahead in the Newsroom with Ana Cabrera. I am Alex Marquardt in the CNN Newsroom in Atlanta. Thanks so much for joining me this afternoon, more news next.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN Newsroom. I am Ana Cabrera in New York, and we're following breaking news out of Dallas this hour, where a crane has collapsed on a building that appears to be an apartment complex.