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Nineteen of 23 Democratic Candidates Stump in Iowa; Interview with Presidential Candidate John Hickenlooper About Recent Iowa Polls; 1 Killed, 6 Injured in Dallas Crane Collapse; Attacks on LGBTQ Victims During Pride Month. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 9, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:07] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York, and we still have 239 days until the Iowa caucuses but if you were there in Iowa caucuses tonight you might think this first test of the 2020 election season is right around the corner because 19 Democratic candidates descended on the state to pitch themselves to voters and donors at the party's Annual Hall of Fame Dinner.

And while most of the candidates talked in generalities, the cold hard numbers from CNN and the "Des Moines Register's" recent poll show just how hard it is to rise above the pack in this crowded Democratic field. Only five candidates were able to get above 3 percent in this poll. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris. Another nine polled at just 1 percent or 2 percent. And these nine candidates aren't even statistically registering in the poll.

CNN's Leyla Santiago joins us now from Cedar Rapids.

Leyla, how are voters receiving these candidates and who stood out most?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, a lot of the voters are telling me that this didn't really make their job as an Iowa voter easier, rather more difficult in narrowing down that short list. They got to hear from 19 of the 23 Democratic candidates. They each spoke for five minutes, sort of made that pitch to each individual voter, spoke to a few of the voters after the fact, three of them as a matter of fact, and all three of them mentioned two names, that's Amy Klobuchar as well as Elizabeth Warren.

But every single one of them also saying look, it's early, we still haven't decided. We have a short list to get through so they want to hear from these candidates more. I had one person from Iowa say if I've only seen a candidate once, that's off my short list. I want to see them multiple times to be able make up my mind.

Remember, this is Iowa. This is the first caucus state here. So a lot of these candidates see potential not just support but delegates in that audience. They sold out here for the Hall of Fame Dinner, 1400 tickets. So a lot of these voters are wanting to hear how these candidates stand out in such a crowded field and how they can relate to them as well as the strength in their campaigns. We saw before the candidates even arrived. A lot of the campaigns out

on the street with street signs as well as different chants that they had to show the enthusiasm and the strength of their campaign here in Iowa.

Now who did we not see here? Again it was 19 of the 23 candidates. But in speaking to the voters several of them mentioned that they actually kind of took offense to the fact that the front runner Joe Biden was not here. Now his campaign says that he was at a family commitment that had been scheduled a while ago. And he will be here on Tuesday.

President Trump will also be here on Tuesday and then I'd also to take note of the timing of this. We are just a few weeks away from the big first debate. That will be in Miami so you'll see these candidates once again pushing what they see is their priority and try to stand out in such a crowded field on the debate stage.

CABRERA: All right, Leyla Santiago in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, tonight. Thank you.

As I noted earlier two candidates in that new Iowa polling got zero percent support, meaning not a single Iowa caucus-goer mentioned them when asked who they would vote for. They weren't anyone's first or second choice. New York City Bill de Blasio is one of those candidates. He joined me earlier. And I asked him about that poll and whether he can relate to rural Iowans considering he is the mayor of America's biggest city. Here's part of our conversation.


CABRERA: How do you process this information that not one single Iowa voter named you as a first or second choice in this new polling?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ana, it's a poll of 600 Iowans eight months before the caucuses. This is just the beginning of a very long process. And I'll tell you something, Iowans have consistently surprised the pundits and come out many, many times with a choice that was not expected. A lot of times that choice only emerged in the final weeks before the caucuses. So we got eight months ahead, and I'm going all over Iowa, and I'm talking about a very simple idea of putting working people first.


DE BLASIO: And it's resonating.

CABRERA: I wonder if being New York City mayor might actually hurt you in a place like Iowa and that voters may look at you skeptically given life in the big apple is a lot different than life in a rural Midwest community.

DE BLASIO: Ana, it's a fair concern but I'll tell you something, when it comes to the issues, I'm hearing from rural Iowans the same issues I hear from my constituents in New York. And I actually think the Democratic Party for decades formed a rural-urban coalition. That's what Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that's that what we had for many, many years.

[20:05:03] And it worked for Democrats because it was about working people, it's about farmers, it was about factory workers, it's about everyday people. And when I say to folks, we need to put working people first, and I talk about things like pre-K for all kids in this country, paid sick leave for working people, paid time off guaranteed two weeks paid vacation, which we're doing now in New York City as a law, these are the kinds of things that working people care about and they want to hear.


CABRERA: Now former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is another one of the 19 candidates swinging through the Hawkeye State this weekend. And he spoke earlier today at the Democratic Hall of Fame event where each candidate got five minutes with the mic and for the second time in a little over a week, he slammed socialism.


JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must be progressive, but also pragmatic. We need a dreamer but also a doer. We must present a bold vision for the future. But we must also acknowledge that the most effective attack the Republicans can level against us is one of socialism. Now, that doesn't mean the Democrats should shy away from big progressive goals. Far from it.


CABRERA: Former Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper, and 2020 candidate, joins us now.

Governor, thanks for being here.

HICKENLOOPER: Great. Thanks for having me on.

CABRERA: I want to ask you about your statement on socialism in just a moment but first, I've got to ask about these new polls. You've campaigned in Iowa quite a bit, at least 34 events, in over 13 days. But CNN's new poll there of Iowa caucus-goers shows you have less than 1 percent of the support. Why aren't you breaking through?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think we haven't done any advertising at all. And people really aren't making up their minds, they're not paying attention. I think most of the people we've talked to have narrowed it down to five or 10 people. So during a poll, they'll pick somebody. But that's not necessarily who they're going to support.

CABRERA: If what you're doing, though, isn't rising to that level where you're top of mind, are you planning to make any changes in your campaign?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think when I'm in a house party or in a small town hall and I have 20 people or 60 or 80 people and I explain that I am the one person who has actually done the big aggressive things that people said couldn't be done, I'm the one person who's done what everyone else is talking about. I yield, I mean, I get a lot of people saying, hey, Iowa, you're the one. I'll come caucus for you. So I think we got -- we're selling something people want to buy. I just have to, you know, raise the money to advertise it and figure out how to put it into soundbites. That's the challenge.

CABRERA: Now last week, and speaking of soundbites, you were at the California Democratic National Convention, and your comments on socialism saying, that wasn't the answer to beating President Trump. You also mentioned that today. You mentioned that. And that got a lot of reaction there. That was very different. I want to play this moment for our viewers.


HICKENLOOPER: Socialism is not the answer. I --



CABRERA: You could hear the booing there. Were you surprised by that reaction?

HICKENLOOPER: Yes, I was a little surprised but not too surprised. We anticipated that in that room, I mean, that's where the most liberal parts of America, we might get some boos. But you know, the -- we know that the Republicans are already trying to label us as socialists. And I think as Democrats we've got to recognize -- we've got to draw a sharp line about who we are and who we're not. And we've got to speak loudly that we're not socialists.

CABRERA: But those are Democrats you were talking to. Those weren't Republicans trying to be critical of you. That's part of your party.

HICKENLOOPER: No, but I think they're the people that have to or I think they should be considering stepping back and say, well, you know, I want this big program. I want to make sure we get universal healthcare coverage. But maybe when I think about it I don't think we have to take health care -- you know, private insurance away from 160 million Americans. And I think that's the challenges, sometimes Medicare for All sounds great until you really think that it's going to be this massive government expansion. You're going to take away private insurance from 160 million people. When people hear that, that they're going to have to give up their private insurance, they're not so enamored.

CABRERA: Are you concerned that by continuing to label some of your fellow Democrats' agenda as a socialist that you're helping bolster Trump's argument that your party wants a socialist government?

HICKENLOOPER: No, absolutely not. And certainly I have not labeled any of my opponents socialists. And I'm just trying to point out that the Republicans already have and will continue to attack us for these massive government expansions and when you look at what happened in the midterms, one after another, you know, moderate candidate in swing states, they won because they did separate themselves from those attacks of you're a socialist.

[20:10:08] They were very clear that here's what I stand for. They're pragmatic. But being pragmatic doesn't necessarily mean you don't go after big ideals. It means you figure out how to do those big ideas.

CABRERA: You know, Bernie Sanders proudly calls himself a Democratic socialist. And he explained what he means by that on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning. Let's listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I mean by Democratic socialism is creating a government that works for everybody. Not controlled either legislatively or politically by a handful of very wealthy people. That's number one. Number two it means that in America, we have certain economic rights that are human rights. Human rights. Healthcare to my mind is not a privilege. It is a human right. That's what Democratic socialism means to me. It means that if you work 40 hours a week in this country, you should not be living in poverty.


CABRERA: Governor, what part of Sanders' agenda do you disagree with?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I agree that I've said my whole life that healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. I believe that. But I don't think we can, you know, take away private insurance from over 100 million people that want to keep it. And what we've offered is a public option that allows people that can't get insurance or the people and there are many that are unhappy with their private insurance.

It allows them a way to migrate into something that's Medicare or Medicare Advantage, but it's a voluntary migration that, you know, over 10 years or 15 years, you would end up quite possibly with Medicare for All. But it would be an evolution, not a revolution. It wouldn't be big government coming in and taking something away from, you know, again over 100 million people that are perfectly happy with their private insurance.

I think we've got a certain responsibility to make sure that we do -- we don't enact legislation or policies that a large number of people are going to resist and actually prevent from happening.

CABRERA: OK. Last question because of both of our connections to Colorado. And this weekend being Wear Orange for Gun Violence Awareness, the superintendent in Jefferson County schools in Colorado is proposing tearing down Columbine High School because of the history there and because he says there is a morbid fascination with it for all the wrong reasons. What is your take on that? Should it be torn down?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, you know, we -- I had that discussion briefly a few months ago. And, you know, the connections between these shootings and the places where they occur is very, very difficult. And I can certainly understand where he's coming from. And if -- he's doing the right thing because he's out talking to the entire school community, the graduates, the families, you know, the survivors of the shooting itself, and really trying to assess whether the connection is too bleak and too destructive to the school continuing to be, you know, one of the best public schools in metropolitan Denver.

My guess is that there is probably a lot of pressure on him, too, to tear it down.

CABRERA: I grew up in Littleton, Colorado, so I'm going to push you on this. What's your opinion? Should it be torn down?

HICKENLOOPER: You know, again, I wouldn't make that decision until I have assessed the sense of the community. I think again he's doing the right thing to go around talk to everyone --

CABRERA: You know that community well. You know that community well. You were the governor of Colorado for eight years.

HICKENLOOPER: I was the governor, but I don't know that community in terms of what they feel about this school. I really don't. And trust me, I wouldn't hesitate to give you my opinion if I thought I could bring together an honest assessment of people really felt and what mattered to them. I don't think what the former governor of Colorado, what my emotional opinion is, should have as much weight as the people directly affected.

CABRERA: Governor John Hickenlooper, really appreciate you taking the time. Thank you.

HICKENLOOPER: You bet. Always a pleasure.

CABRERA: We are getting new updates about a massive crane collapse in Dallas. People inside their apartments as it crashed into this building. Plus, in cities across the country celebrate the start of Pride Month, we're learning of another violent crime inspired by hate and bigotry. Details ahead live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:18:04] CABRERA: Our breaking news tonight. A huge crane collapsing and crushing parts of an apartment building in Dallas. One woman was killed, at least six others are injured, two of them critically.

Right now we do not know if anyone else may be trapped in the rubble. But we are hearing from eyewitnesses who were inside the apartment complex when that crane collapsed.


ABBEY KEARNEY, WITNESSED CRANE COLLAPSE: We notice it got really dark really quickly so we walked outside on to our patio and the wind picked up incredibly quickly. And all the pool furniture went into the pool. And I happened to say what if the cranes fall, are they going to fall on this building? And almost immediately after that we saw one fall and it just sliced through the building. I mean, not to be a cliche but like a hot knife through butter and it went from the fifth floor all the way through to -- from what I can tell at least the third floor.

I believe we found out that a second crane had fallen on the parking garage and so we walked out to the parking garage to check our vehicles and we just saw cars everywhere. I don't even know how to describe it. There were cars that were vertical, there was cars from maybe the 8th floor all the way down on to the third floor where we park, and what we saw where you take the pictures from.


CABRERA: Now I spoke with another resident named Sammy Sandquist who described the chaos inside that apartment complex.


SAMMY SANDQUIST, LIVES IN BUILDING HIT BY CRANE: We don't know if they've accounted for everybody. I know they're going in to check for people still and animals still. So we're watching people come out with animals all the time right now. But we don't know if a tornado hit or not. Right now we don't know if it was just wind, we don't know if those are tornado. We know that there was the thunderstorm that had hit. It was raining like crazy and so that was what happened. It's lightened up right now. There is no rain and blue skies on one side and clouds on the others.


CABRERA: As she referenced, severe storms and wind had whipped through that area. But officials aren't saying yet if that's what caused this crane to fall.

[20:20:03] Joining us now CNN's Cristina Alesci.

I understand, Cristina, you're hearing about other recent crane incidents that may shed some light on to what happened here?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Essentially we don't know whether it was weather related or human error or a combination of both. We've certainly seen other crane incidents. One in just earlier this year in April where four people were killed in Seattle and experts there say human error played a role. But they're still investigating that. And that investigation will likely go on for several more months.

Now, in 2017, Hurricane Irma took down three cranes that were supposed to be able to withstand 95-mile-an-hour winds so it just goes to show you, you could really run the gamut here. but what's going on in Dallas right now, it appears that authorities were using rescue dogs to try and find missing and injured people. And it's unclear if the actual first responders were able to get access to the entire building.

We're still trying to figure that out. We've called the crane company. We haven't heard back from it yet. But look, it's going to be really difficult to determine the cause of this over the next, you know, couple of days. It's likely a long investigation. And it's likely going to involve multiple different parties, for example in the Seattle incident, they're talking to five different companies involved.

So there are a lot of hands on this crane. What's really scary is the fact that it was so close to a residential building. And it happened in a residential building with a parking lot in front. That I think is what is jarring people in this particular instance. It's not like, you know, there was a big construction site and it fell on the construction site.


ALESCI: This was a construction site and a residential building.

CABRERA: Do we have any idea if people are still trapped inside that building?

ALESCI: That's what we're trying to figure out. We hope not. But we don't have a clear answer on that yet.

CABRERA: OK. We do know one person confirmed dead and several others injured at this point.

Cristina Alesci, thank you for that update. We'll be right back.


[20:25:41] CABRERA: In Detroit, two gay men and a transgender woman were killed in what prosecutors are calling a hate crime. A teenager is now facing three counts of first-degree murder in their deaths. And this is happening during Pride Month.

This is 18-year-old Devon Robinson. He's accused of shooting and killing the victims inside a home on Memorial Day weekend. Investigators say the teen targeted them because of their sexual orientation. Robinson is being held without bail in Detroit. He is scheduled to appear for a probable cause hearing on June 21st.

And we learned of this arrest among the backdrop of June being Pride Month and events being held throughout this month to recognize the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world. Yesterday I spoke with Melania Geymonat who was attacked in London with her partner Chris as they were headed home. Listen.


MELANIA GEYMONAT, ATTACKED ON LONDON BUS: In other situations that I have been when people maybe I feel -- I have friends like some kind of harassment or something, I have always tried to avoid the situation or maybe I wasn't completely aware of the situation. The thing that happened, I believe is that (INAUDIBLE) stood up for us because they were really saying stuff that we shouldn't -- we shouldn't have to be OK with. So, I mean, I know that that behavior can be usual but it shouldn't be.


CABRERA: I want to bring in "New York Times" op-ed columnist and CNN political commentator Charles Blow.

Charles, Detroit, London, is there a bigger issue here?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we see hate crimes rising across the board. The LGBT hate crimes are part of that. It is interesting that those -- the Detroit story you opened with which it is emblematic of something, right, which is that it allows you to be happening in big cities, and they're liberal cities.


BLOW: And -- but also people don't always recognize that the number one place that hate crimes against LGBT people happen is actually in the home. Second is on the street. And it is rare at bars. It used to be that people would target places that LGBT people congregated. And so there will be bars in their safe spaces and there will be harassment there.

That is less the issue now. And it's more an issue of people refusing to be segregated. Refusing to hide their identities. Refusing to live in a gay ghetto and presenting themselves as they are and being opened in the street. And people are responding to that in ways that are incredibly harmful and sometimes criminal.

CABRERA: And yet we have this new Pew Research Center poll earlier this year that found support for same-sex marriage has drastically grown in the past 15 years. But at the same time we're seeing the rise in that acceptance of same-sex marriage, you have, you know, people in places like Boston that are saying, they want to put on a "Straight Pride" parade. Do you see that as backlash to this acceptance?

BLOW: Backlash would be one way of saying -- I would probably phrase it slightly differently, which is the more people come out into the open, insist on being able to have to share the same displays of affection that every other human being shows, insists on being able to dress and present themselves in their truest sense of how they see themselves, the more they will come into contact with people who hate that, feel threatened by that or have a fear of that, and that rub will sometimes result in this sort of violence.

CABRERA: Let me also ask you about this new CNN report, detailing how multiple U.S. embassies were denied permission by the Trump administration to fly rainbow pride flags from their flag poles to commemorate Pride Month, even though we're told this has been routine for years. Now I spoke with Jeffrey Davidow, he is a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico for both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations. And I asked him if this made sense to him. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEFFREY DAVIDOW, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO, VENEZUELA: No, not at all. Not at all. I don't know who made that decision. I think part of the problem is that what's happened in the State Department in Washington is that, through the actions of the Trump administration, a lot of the very most competent people have left, and so you're getting decisions from the State Department, from the National Security Council that just don't make any sense.


ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Now, Evangelical Christian Leader Franklin Graham had a different take. Let me read you his post. He writes, the only flag that should fly over our embassies is the flag of the United States of America. The gay pride flag is offensive to Christians and millions of people of other faiths, not only in this country, but around the world.

The U.S. flag represents our nation, everyone, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. What's your reaction?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Get over it, I mean, the idea that people say that it is offensive to you that someone else wants to live their life the way that they want to use it has no impact on you, whatsoever. If you don't like same-sex, sex, then don't have any.

If you don't want to be married to a person of the same sex, then don't marry that person. It has literally nothing to do with you, has nothing to do with your religion. I'd say, have whatever religion you want. But you cannot impose that on another person's life, and if they choose to do something that it violates your religion, then, OK. Then, go to where the bad places that your religion says don't exist.

But let them choose to do that. That has nothing to do with this. So, I take real offense when people say, oh, I'm offended by that. I don't like it. I don't find it natural. What does it have to do with you? What -- literally, what does it have to do you with you, absolutely nothing.

CABRERA: Does the issue of the gay pride flag bother you?

BLOW: Absolutely not. Most times when we fly any kind of symbolic flag, you fly along with the U.S. flag. It's not like we are hoisting the ISIS flag over the U.S. Embassy. We're not -- this is not an attack on the U.S. by saying we celebrate a day. It's just part of a -- kind of, recognizing humanity of a group of people who've had that humanity denied to them for a very long time.

I don't really care what Franklin Graham says about this. I don't really care if religious people are upset about it. Get over it. Do your thing and live your life by your religious texts, whatever that text is, I'm happy for you. Stop trying to impose that on other people and stop saying that those people's lives whatever or how they're living them offends you, because that is offensive to the rest of us.

CABRERA: Charles Blow, thank you sir.

BLOW: Thank you.

CABRERA: Appreciate your perspective. House Democrats want the courts to give their subpoenas more clout. Even as the internal struggle over impeachment drags on, where do things stand right now? You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: This week, House Democrats are expected to vote on a measure that would empower committees to enforce subpoenas they filed against members of the Trump administration. Now, this move would allow them to avoid floor votes, which could require politically vulnerable Democrats to have to cast a vote.

Instead, committees will be able to go directly to the courts to pursue charges of civil contempt against former White House Counsel Don McGahn and Attorney General William Barr. Both men have so far refused to comply with orders to testify.

Meantime, Congressional Democrats continue to wrangle over the thorny issue of impeachment. Should they or shouldn't they? Manu Raju has more on where things stand.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump continues the assault he launched on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with the graves of U.S. soldiers behind him on the solemn 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion, calling Pelosi a disgrace to herself and her family.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think she's a disgrace. I actually don't think she is a talented person. She's a nasty, vindictive horrible person.

RAJU: The insults did not stop there.

TRUMP: I call her, Nervous Nancy. Nancy Pelosi is a disaster, OK? She's a disaster.

RAJU: Trump responding to Pelosi's private comments in a meeting in the capital this week, where according to Politico, she said she doesn't want to see Trump impeached. She wants him in prison.

TRUMP: And she made a statement. It was a horrible --


TRUMP: -- nasty, vicious statement, while I'm overseas.

RAJU: But while she was in Normandy, Pelosi actually avoided criticizing the President, publicly.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don't talk about the President while he's out of the country.

RAJU: Behind the scenes, the debate over whether to impeach the President, has taken a new turn. CNN has learned House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is pressing Pelosi to open up an impeachment inquiry, arguing it would bolster the Democrat's battle with the Trump administration in court.

In the same meeting where Pelosi said she wanted Trump in prison, Nadler said an impeachment inquiry won't let his committee play the main role in investigating the President's conduct, freeing up other House panels to push forward on legislation, instead.

But sources said, he met resistance from Pelosi and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, the divide, evident this week, where Nadler would not say if he and Pelosi are on the same page over mounting an inquiry.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): When that decision has to be made, it'll be made not by any one individual.

RAJU: Nadler is feeling growing pressure from members of his own committee and from 2020 candidates that made White House defiance of their subpoenas.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): There is a growing sentiment that it's an intolerable situation.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I do believe that the Judiciary Committee in the House should go forward with an impeachment inquiry.

RAJU: And in the coming week, the House will take its first real step to try to enforce subpoenas that have so far not been complied with. The House will authorize the House Judiciary Committee to go to court to enforce a subpoena that was issued to Bill Barr, the attorney general, to turn over the unredacted Mueller report.

And the underlying evidence to that committee, also, for Don McGahn, to comply and turn over records of former White House counsel has so far not complied with the subpoena under the instruction of the White House.

That same resolution that will be approved by the full house will authorize all committees to go to court directly, bypassing the full house, in order to pursue any subpoenas that have not been complied with by this administration. Democrats say this is necessary. Republicans say this is overreach. But, it can lead to even more court fights than we've seen so far. Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


CABRERA: Now, former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort is in prison and an unexpected ally comes to his defense.

[20:40:01] Why does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez think the Feds are going overboard with his sentence? You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Van Jones has dedicated his life to work with the criminal justice system. And now, in his new show, "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT," Van brings together victims and their offenders for an opportunity to talk, heal, maybe even forgive. Here's a preview of tonight's episode.


JOSHUA JOHNSON, VICTIM OF A VIOLENT CRIME: Being the victim of a violent crime, I went down a real dark path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to go there to murder someone.

JOHNSON: He pointed a pistol at me and shot me twice. No one can go through that without being scarred.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted that badge of a psychopath. I wanted the people to fear me.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: You are going to be sitting across from the guy who tried to take your life, who killed your friend.

JOHNSON: If you expect me to forgive you, you have to come to a place in your life where you are honest about what you did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not asking for his forgiveness.


CABRERA: Van Jones host of "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" here with us.

[20:45:01] Now, Van, in this episode, we meet Gunner and Christian who were friends 20 years ago, until one of them robbed and shot the other and killed one of his friends. Tell us a little bit more about these two men and how their violent meeting that night, just spent their -- sent their life spiralling? >

JONES: Well, I mean, these were two guys who had already, kind of, taken a bad turn. They are both involved in the drug trade, but one of them just turned on the other in the most vicious way. Now it's 20 years later, both their lives have been impacted. But they're going to sit down and have a conversation.

People say, well, why do I want to watch this? Why do I care? This is the basic human condition. Everybody has done something awful. That they feel bad about it, they wish they could get forgiveness for it. And everybody's got somebody in their life they find it hard to forgive.

Now, in our show, the stakes are a lot higher because we're dealing with very, very serious, you know, incidents, very, very serious crimes. But this show -- the reason this show gets 99 percent positive on Twitter, is because it gets to that universal human thing. Can people grow? Can people change? Can people truly atone? Can people accept an apology if it's offered? And that's what this show really gets to. And this -- and this show, also gets in this whole question around addiction and drug recovery. A lot of this stuff I think we need to be talking a lot more about in this country.

CABRERA: And I want to ask you a bigger picture question about an issue that comes up in this episode, because it really showcases how a vicious cycle of crime and violence begets more crime and violence.


CABRERA: How do restorative justice conversations like these help break that cycle?

JONES: Well, listen, in all of these shows, there has been the normal justice process. Somebody has, you know, been convicted or plead guilty. They've done some time. In this case, a person is still doing time. And yet, there's still is this unhealed hurt. Just because you get a verdict, doesn't mean as a crime victim, you feel complete. You feel like you understood what happened.

Your healing may still be stuck back 20 years ago. And so these restorative justice conversations where you bring people together to have that conservation well-facilitated had been incredibly helpful to so many people, but it has never been caught on film before.

CNN is the first news organization to catch this process on film and bring it to a primetime audience. And people always say, it should be -- the sponsor should be Kleenex, you know, bring your tissues because it's so emotional when these people finally sit down and talk to each other, and this show is no exception, really, really powerful episode tonight.

CABRERA: I know how passionate you are about the issue of criminal justice. So let me ask you about this scenario that's playing out right now with Paul Manafort, the President's former campaign chairman. Prosecutors want to send him to Rikers Island and put him in solitary confinement.

I want to read this strong response to that from New York freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She tweeted this, sorry, but if people aren't willing to apply principles evenly, no matter the person, then they aren't fighting for criminal justice reform.

People acting as though this is summer camp. It's Rikers, widely known for abuse. Van, how do you respond to Paul Manafort potentially being thrown into solitary at Rikers Island?

JONES: Listen, I applaud Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to what she is saying. Listen, solitary confinement is widely used in this country. It's considered a psychological torture and abuse. People have committed suicide. It's not -- this is not a joke. This is not a game.

If we're going to have -- if we're going to be the country we're supposed to be, when people have done wrong, we should punish them appropriately and proportionately, but we shouldn't be torturing people. And the U.N. and other people say solitary confinement is torture. And we should be doing it. And I applaud her.

She is certainly no fan of the Trump administration and certainly no fan of Paul Manafort. But she's applying her principles consistently. I wish more people on both sides would do that.

CABRERA: All right. Van Jones, good to see you. Thank you.

JONES: See you too.

CABRERA: Be sure to tune in an all new episode of "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" with Van, is at the top f the hour right here on CNN.

2020 race is heating up with 19 Democrats visiting the crucial state of Iowa, this weekend. They're all there in that Hawkeye State.

Coming up next, how the abortion issue is set to shape the 2020 race for the White House. We are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: A new CNN poll out this week shows 3-in-10 Americans would only vote for a candidate for major office, who shares their views on abortion. It's a big jump from 15 years ago and the highest number, in our poll, in more than two decades.

And this week, we saw the Democratic front-runner do a 180 on his stand on a key abortion law. CNN's Natasha Chen shows us how those are just some of the signs abortion will dominate the race for the White House. Natasha?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, especially when you look at the female respondents of this poll, women who identify as independent of any political party and non-white women are much more likely than men, to say that abortion is a critical issue for their vote in 2020.


CHEN: With several states banning abortions in much earlier stages of pregnancy than established by Roe versus Wade, 2020 Democratic candidates are coming forward in defense of abortion rights.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People who are frightened are the ones who don't get access. And that's just not right.

CHEN: Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand have called for Roe versus Wade to be codified into federal law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Kamala Harris had a good idea the other day.

CHEN: Harris is proposing the Department of Justice block what she calls dangerous abortion restrictions in states, pushing unconstitutional anti-choice legislation before they go into effect.

Harris is also among a host of Democratic candidates who tweeted in support of repealing the Hyde Amendment which bans federal dollars from being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or where the mother's life is in danger.

Fifteen states offer their own funding for a wider range of abortion services to Medicaid recipients. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports more than half of the women of childbearing age on Medicaid do not qualify for most abortion services.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This assault on women's reproductive rights is an assault on women, but it's a particularly assault on African-American women.

CHEN: Joe Biden was the only candidate in the Democratic field who supported the Hyde Amendment until he changed his mind this week.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I believe health care is a right as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's zip code.

CHEN: On the Republican side of the race, President Donald Trump was for abortion rights in the 90s, but is now against them. His administration imposed new restrictions Wednesday on the use of fetal tissue in scientific research. His only primary challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, penned an op-ed last week, defending a woman's right to choose.


[20:55:08] CHEN: And that leaves President Trump as the only candidate in 2020 who is against abortion rights. A few weeks ago, Trump tweeted that he is, "strongly pro-life, but with three exceptions for abortion, rape, incest, and protecting the life of the mother," Ana, back to you.

CABRERA: Natasha Chen, thank you. Up next, Amanda Knox back in the headlines. Why she's going back to Italy. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Amanda Knox is going back to, of all places, Italy. That is where she spent nearly four years in prison, accused of and put on trial for murder, in the gruesome death of her roommate. That was back in 2007. Ultimately, she was acquitted. And Knox said afterward, she would never willingly go back to Italy.

But, she is returning in just a few days to speak at a criminal justice conference on the subject of trials that received a lot of media coverage. And a short time ago, I spoke to Anne Bremner, an attorney and friend of the Knox family. She says Amanda feels duty- bound to share her experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNE BREMNER, LEGAL COUNSEL AND SPOKESWOMAN, FRIENDS OF AMANDA KNOX: Amanda has dedicated herself to innocence projects all over this country, including in Seattle. And she's not out on the talk show circuit. She's not out trying to capitalize on this. She's very focused on these Innocence Projects.

And I think it's like Mark Twain said, always do right, it will gratify some and astonish the rest. And that's really where she is today.


CABRERA: The director of the Innocence Project invited Knox, personally.