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Former EPA Chiefs go to Congress; A Look Back at the O.J. Simpson Trial; Go Go Brothers in Turning Points; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 12, 2019 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: There is no doubt in my mind that under the current administration the EPA is retreating from its historic mission to protect our environment and the health of the public from environmental hazards.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That was former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. She and two other former EPA administrators, under Republican presidents, sounding the alarm over the Trump administration's approach to the environment and its denial of science. They went to Congress yesterday to get the country's attention.

And Christine Todd Whitman joins us now.

Again, she served as an EPA administrator in the George W. Bush administration.

Governor Whitman, thank you very much for being here.

What -- what is it about what the Trump administration is doing that has caused you so much concern that you felt the need to go to Congress?

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, it's been this just consistent rollback of regulations without a seeming analysis of why this particular regulation is no longer relevant. And particularly when it comes to climate change, it's the scrubbing of any mention of climate change. It's the restriction of the scientists, their ability to do their work, to say, this could be a problem and here's what we need to watch. It's -- this is what's happening.

You know, it's not going to make it go away. By denying it we're -- it's not going to go away. We are not, as humans, the only cause, but we certainly are a large part of it. And so we need to be studying this.

And the public sees it. You see every poll that says better than 50 percent of the American people, even among Republicans, know the climate is changing, say that climate is changing, say it's serious, humans have some role to play and we should be doing something. And this administration just refuses and they're hamstringing scientists in their ability to do their work. CAMEROTA: The public also feels it. I mean we report every day, it

feels like, certainly every week on extreme weather that's gripping the country, extreme weather events. And that, of course, is getting people's attention.

You know, I asked our producers to make me a full screen graphic so we could show the viewers some of the rollbacks that President Trump has done since he's taken office and they came back and told me that they couldn't make it because there are 83 of them.


CAMEROTA: They said no graphic could ever support those 83. So we've narrowed it down to just three. I mean just -- here are three at random that I will put up on the screen. The Trump administration has canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions. OK, so as the ozone layer is being threatened, they're -- they've canceled that. They've revoked an Obama era executive order designed to preserve oceans and other waters. Obviously there's just tremendous plastic and garbage dumps in the ocean and they've revoked Obama era flood standards for federal infrastructure projects just as the Midwest is having this historic flooding.

Is there anything that keeps you -- what is the one thing that keeps you up at night? Is there any way to put your finger on the thing that has been most alarming to you?

WHITMAN: Well, it's all of this. It's the rollback of the tail pipe standard with cars, which makes no sense. The car manufacturers are already there. The big manufacturers are coming to the administration saying, don't do this. But it seems to be this attitude that if Obama did it, it's gone, good, bad or indifferent. And that really, really worries me.

The biggest thing, I guess, long term is this erosion of trust in science. They are trying to create confusion in science by not allowing science -- pure science. They are replacing people on the Science Advisory Board with people from industry. And while industry has a right to be heard when there's a regulation that affects them, they should not be the dominant voice. But that's what we're seeing this administration again and again talking about just the economics of an issue.

The EPA is about protecting public health and the environment. The economics play a role. I mean you're allowed to consider it in some cases on clean air standards. You might consider it in others. And there are a third set of -- of clean air areas where you're not allowed to consider cost benefit at all because it's too important for human health and yet this administration seems to be ignoring that entirely and -- as if they're -- they're also going to change the way you assess deaths and attribute deaths to particular things. Studies will tell -- tell us that between 200,000 and 300,000 Americans die every year from dirty airborne related causes, diseases, heart attacks, emphysema, lung cancer, those kinds of things, asthma. It's the number one miss -- reason for missed school days in children. I defy anyone to go to an event, if you're giving a speech or a talk,

and ask the audience who has asthma, who knows someone with asthma, a family member with asthma. Two-thirds of the hands in that room will go up. I mean it's happened to me every time that I've done it, no matter where I've done it. I even did it at a graduation and the same thing happened.

This is serious. We don't know what causes asthma, but we do know what can trigger an attack and what can make it worse, and that's dirty air. So we ought to be going after these things. And, oh, by the way, they contribute to climate change as well.

CAMEROTA: Well, on the flipside, I mean you bring up the economics. What the president's people in his administration have told me, along with his supporters, is that they felt there were too many regulations that had piled up over the decades and that they were a stranglehold on business, not just big corporations, but even small business owners and farmers. And was that a fair point?

[08:35:21] WHITMAN: Yes. I mean that's absolutely fair. And I think regulation should be revisited because we learn more. Science gets more -- if you allow science to be science, it will find out more things. It will determine that maybe something that we thought was really bad isn't quite as bad or that you can -- there are new technologies to deal with it that aren't as burdensome. That's absolutely appropriate.

But as you mentioned at the start, if you've rolled back 85 regulations in this time period, in less than four years, you're not doing the kind of scientific study behind them to justify those rollbacks. That's the one piece of good news because the rollbacks will be challenged, they'll be challenged in court, and if they haven't done the job, they being EPA, hasn't done the job in saying, OK, this is why this is no long relevant. You can't just get up in the morning and say, you know, I think arsenic's OK, go ahead and have a glass. You've got to come back with, this is why the standard is set at the wrong place. It needs to be higher. It needs to be lower. This is the backup, the scientific data backup that justifies that. So it's fine to look at them, but that means it's got to be to be a deliberate process and you don't do that overnight.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting. Thank you for all of the information this morning. Former Governor Christine Todd Whitman, thank you. We appreciate your expertise on this.


WHITMAN: My pleasure.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, June 12, 1994, the day that eventually led to the case of the century. We're talking about O.J. Simpson. Twenty-five years after that day, he is a free man. We'll look back at the case, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:40:48] CAMEROTA: It was 25 years ago today that the country learned that Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman, had been brutally murdered. Then came the stunning news that Nicole's ex- husband, football legend O.J. Simpson, was the prime suspect.

Stephanie Elam is live in Los Angeles with a look back at this infamous case.

Everyone remembers where they were that day, Stephanie.


The 71-year-old Simpson now lives in Las Vegas. He tells "The Associated Press" that, quote, my family and I have moved on to what we call the no negative zone. We focus on the positives. But for anybody who was alive at that time and remembers what happened and then the trial of the century, it's a period that no one will ever forget.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A witness discovered the body of Nicole Brown Simpson --

ELAM (voice over): Twenty-five years ago, O.J. Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman, were savagely killed in a knife attack. Simpson would become the prime suspect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Simpson is a fugitive of justice right now.

ELAM: Days after the murder, Simpson, driven by friend Al Cowlings, led police on the slow speed chase broadcast around the world.


ELAM: The white Bronco ride sparking reality television some critics say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I just saw O.J. Simpson on the 5 Freeway. He's heading north.

ELAM: The country riveted by a manhunt for a national sports hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police radio is saying that Simpson, the passenger in the car, has a gun at his head.

ELAM: Simpson's ensuing arrest, his criminal and civil trials, full of unforgettable moments.

O.J. SIMPSON: Absolutely 100 percent not guilty.

ELAM: Courtroom theatrics were constant. Pop culture stars emerged, including lawyer Johnny Cochran.

JOHNNY COCHRAN, LAWYER: If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.

ELAM: Known as the dream team, Simpson's lawyers persuaded the mostly black jury to acquit Simpson of all criminal charges in October 1995.


ELAM: The victim's families were crushed.

But one year later, Simpson was back in court facing civil charges for the deaths of Goldman and Nicole. She had repeatedly accused Simpson of abuse.

NICOLE SIMPSON: I don't want to stay on the line. He's going to beat the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of me.

ELAM: A mostly white jury found Simpson liable, ordering him to pay $33.5 million to the families of the murder victims in 1997.

Simpson left the trials with huge debt, but free. He moved to Florida. He would get arrested again in 2007 after allegedly leading a violent raid on memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room. Ironically, 13 years to the day after being cleared of the murders, a jury convicted Simpson of armed robbery and kidnapping.

SIMPSON: So, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all of it.

ELAM: The apology rejected, he served nine years in prison and now lives in Las Vegas.


ELAM: And it is worth noting that the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman are still officially listed as unsolved, John.

BERMAN: The whole thing just so unbelievable.

Stephanie Elam, thank you so much for that.

Our own Jeffrey Toobin was in the courtroom when the Simpson verdict was read and his book inspired the popular Netflix series about all of this. We're going to speak with him.

CAMEROTA: Look at his son on screen.

BERMAN: Look at that. That's Jeffrey Toobin.

CAMEROTA: Oh, that's Jeffrey.

BERMAN: We're going to ask him to justify this photo and much, much more, next.


[08:47:48] CAMEROTA: Twenty-five years ago today, the brutal double murder of O.J. Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, sparked what became known as the trial of the century against football legend O.J. Simpson.

BERMAN: CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin covered the trial for "The New Yorker." You can see him there in the crowd. There he is.

CAMEROTA: Right there.

BERMAN: There he is. That's Jeffrey Toobin.

CAMEROTA: Boy reporter.

BERMAN: Hasn't aged a second since then. He's also the author of "The Run of His Life: The People versus O.J. Simpson," which is a terrific read, like all of Jeffrey's books.

Look, we barely have enough time to talk about this. This would be -- you know, we could talk about this for days on end.


BERMAN: But I just want to focus on two moments, if I can. First, that picture we saw you of the verdict. Just talk us to that moment while young Jeffrey Toobin is in that courtroom while the verdict is being read.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, the -- the extraordinary thing about verdicts in general is that, you know, in so much of our political lives, in so much of, you know, the news business, you sort of know what's coming. Everybody -- you know, when somebody is giving an acceptance speech, the -- an election result, you have polls, you have some idea. No one knew. I mean the -- the tension in that room was so extraordinary. It was like there was no one breathing. I mean you could just see all the air molecules sitting there not moving because no one was exhaling.

And the jury walked in and, you know, one of the cliches that I find is true about verdicts is, if a jury is going to convict, they look away from the defendant. But if a jury is going to acquit, they look at the defendant. And all those jurors were looking right at O.J. Simpson. You know, that famous shot you're looking at right there, the camera was right above the jury box. You never -- you never saw the jury on television. But they were all staring right at O.J.

And -- and I remember, you know, Dominick Dunne, a lot of people in that courtroom are gone. Johnny Cochran has died. Dominick Dunne, the great reporter for "Vanity Fair," who was sitting a couple seats away from me, he's died. And I remember Dominick's mouth just dropping open. And I remember Mr. Kardashian, who, of course, was not as famous then, that name wasn't as famous then, and he looked almost stricken. And the Goldman family, who were right in front of me, Joe McGinnis (ph), the reporter over there, he's also died. There's Robert -- Ron Goldman's father, his sister. I mean they were so distraught, it was -- you know, you just had the sense -- and little did I know -- you just had the sense that the story, as big as it was, was going to get even bigger because so many people thought he was guilty, including, of course, me, and I continue to believe that with all my heart. But the idea that he got acquitted after all this evidence meant that the story was going even -- even farther into the stratosphere.

[08:50:48] CAMEROTA: I mean, and, of course, and then it revealed the deep racial divide in this country. Previously probably unknown to that degree of how people saw the trial and how people saw O.J.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, Alisyn, that, to me, is why the trial matters. You know, it was a celebrity event and obviously the heartbreak of the families of Ron and Nicole, that's always going to be the most important thing about the trial.

But what made it a major, national event was the videos we all saw after the verdict, where you saw crowds of black people cheering, crowds of white people stricken and it really was a lesson in how the races view the criminal justice system so differently. I don't think we all realized how profound the divisions were in this country about race and criminal justice. And, you know, Berman, you mentioned the series that I was very proud to be associated with and it was FX not Netflix, but the -- the reason why I think that series resonated so much is that it came out right at the time of Ferguson and Black Lives Matter and all of the renewed tension between African-Americans and law enforcement, of which the O.J. Simpson case, for better or for worse, was a big part. And that, to me, is the big, larger lesson of the O.J. case was about race and criminal justice.

BERMAN: When did you know -- we have to let you go, we're out of time, but was there a moment -- when did you know in the process that this was going to be something we'd be talking about 25 years later?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, I guess I didn't. I mean, I really didn't know how big it was. And it was only after the verdict, it was only after we saw the racial divisions and the aftermath that I thought, wow, this isn't just some celebrity murder case, this is a major national event.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you, as always, for being with us.

TOOBIN: All right, guys.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Jeffrey.

BERMAN: Amazing that he was there for that.

All right, "The Good Stuff" is next.

But first, two Florida boys with special needs have drawn a world where anything is possible and the stars of the show. Meet the "Go Go Brothers" in today's "Turning Points."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Go Go brothers, go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every kid loves the spotlight.

Three, two, one, action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just smell that fresh jungle air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The "Go Go Brothers" is about my two boys who are put on wild and zany adventures by kids who send in their drawings and we bring those stories to life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today's idea comes from Mrs. Czarnowsky's art class from Maxey Elementary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was something initially to just help them get through their challenges.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bean Boy, as we call him on the show, he's seven years old and he was born with spina bifida, which is basically a spinal defect.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My other son, who is nine, he was diagnosed at age six with autism. It's been our goal to focus on not what they can't do, but what they can do. And so the Go Go world is really born out of that idea. It's a place where everything is possible.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had people from all over find it on YouTube. It really touches people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it makes them and us happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because you have a disability, it doesn't mean that you're going to have any less of a beautiful life. And we hope that the Go Go world helps you feel important.



[08:59:24] CAMEROTA: Time now for "The Good Stuff."

A young boy in Napa, California, is showing his classmates that someone cares. When nine-year-old Ryan Cayote (ph) spoke to his mother about kids who could not afford their school lunches, he decided to do something about it himself. He asked his mom to find out how much is owed by his fellow third graders and then he anonymously paid off the outstanding debts with his allowance money.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want them to feel happy that someone actually cares about them.


CAMEROTA: Ryan's mom says that they hope that this can inspire other classes or schools to do the same.

[09:00:05] BERMAN: What an amazing kid. But I have to say, it shouldn't take a third grader to fix that problem.

CAMEROTA: To teach us this lesson?

BERMAN: Yes, or to fix that.