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NEW DAY SUNDAY
Phoenix Mayor Apologizes After Video of Family Held at Gunpoint Surfaces; Politico: The Escalator Ride that Changed America; Pittsburgh Father Gives Out Hundreds of Hugs at Pride Parade; NY Times: U.S. Ramping Up Cyberattacks on Russia; Crew Members of Oil Tanker Attack Arrive Safely in Dubai; Massive Protests in Hong Kong Over Controversial Bill; Democrats Court Black Voters at South Carolina Forum. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired June 16, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- very in-depth briefings to the president on issues related to Russia.
[07:00:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president can't be trusted with this kind of information. Therefore, the security services are hesitant to give it to him.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Joe Biden does not have what it takes. Now, I see that Pocahontas is doing better. I would love to run against her, frankly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can expect some attacks on Joe Biden, but you are going to see more attention on Elizabeth Warren.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hong Kong people have been lied to so many times, that we have learned that the government cannot be trusted.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you on a Sunday. And happy Father's Day to all you dads out there. I'm Christi Paul.
And happy Father's Day to this guy as well.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much.
I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell.
PAUL: So, "The New York Times" calls it a, quote, land mine in a foreign power network, reporting that the U.S. has deployed potentially crippling computer code into Russia's electric power grid.
SAVIDGE: Also happening today, the nearly three dozen crew members of the tanker attacked in the Gulf of Oman have returned safely to Dubai.
PAUL: And we got some breaking news out of Hong Kong. Massive protests in the streets right now. CNN is there live.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is a sea of demonstrators dressed in black protesting against their government, walking through streets where they were getting tear gas just four days ago. I'll have a live report on this in just a couple minutes.
SAVIDGE: We'll get to Ivan in just a moment.
But we begin with a counter-punch in the cyber cold war with Russia. "The New York Times" is saying that malware now in the Russia grid can be used for surveillance or attack. But either way, it's sending a message.
PAUL: Yes. In a report, "The Times" writes, I want to quote this, now the American strategy has shifted more towards an offense, officials say, with a placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never tried before. It's intended partly as a warning and partly to be poised to conduct cyber strikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow.
SAVIDGE: We're covering this story from a number of angles.
Let's begin with CNN international correspondent Matthew Chance who's live for us from Moscow.
And, Matthew, what is the reaction from Russia today?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, martin.
It's been quite muted at the moment in the sense of Kremlin hasn't reacted about this yet. Although I expect they will in the hours or days ahead when they finally get across this. Behind the doors of the Kremlin, though, I expect privately there will be some satisfaction hearing how President Trump has reacted to this "New York Times" report, again, calling the media the enemy of the people. That sort of plays into the Russian narrative in the sense they also like to undermine the work of the free press.
As I say, the reaction has been pretty muted. The Russian newspapers have been covering this, pointing out two things. First of all, it's not surprising, they're saying, essentially countries would be probing each other's cyber defenses. But also, secondly saying, what would be the hysterical reaction in the United States, that's what they're saying, if the report was the other way around and it was found Russia infiltrated the United States' infrastructure. So, putting out the double standards, some of the hypocrisy, perhaps, in that.
It does add, though, to that growing list of problems between Washington and Moscow. Already they're at odds over Russian intervention, Russian meddling in the presidential election in 2016 or the situation in Ukraine and Syria. This is yet another problem the two leaders could possibly discuss when and if they meet on the sidelines of the G-20 in Japan later this month, Martin.
SAVIDGE: All right. Matthew Chance with a view from Moscow, thanks very much.
PAUL: Thanks, Matthew.
Now, Pentagon and intelligence officials told "The Times" there was hesitation in briefing the president on this malware operation.
SAVIDGE: Here's a look at why this may have happened from a former CIA officer and also one of the authors of this "New York Times" report. Both spoke to CNN last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID SANGER, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIEMS: What makes this particularly interesting, though, is we know from other reporting in other cases that the chairman of the joint chiefs, intelligence officials and others are reluctant to give very in-depth briefings to the president on issues related to Russia for the uncertainty about how he'll react.
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president can't be trusted with this kind of information. And for natural reasons, therefore, the security services are hesitant to give it to him. We can't trust the commander in chief, the chief executive officer of the country with information, national security information, that's critical to keeping our elections, our power grid and other key assets secure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: So, for the other side of the story, we go live now to CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood.
[07:05:01] And what's the president's reaction? I say that when I know, in fact, he's already tweeted and he is livid about all of this?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Martin. President Trump is disputing the veracity of this "New York Times" story. He was seemingly very frustrated with the publication yesterday, writing on Twitter, do you belief the failing "New York times" just did a story the United States is substantially increasing cyber attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our country? Also not true.
And he goes on to attack the media, reprising his smears that it's the enemy of the people. "The New York Times" responded in a tweet, though, saying accusing the press of treason is dangerous. We described the article to the government before our publication. As our story notes, President Trump's own national security officials said there were no concerns.
And indeed, in that "New York Times" report, the reporters do specify they brought what they had found to two Trump's national security officials and they were told by those officials, they didn't see a problem in publishing their findings. And "The Times" speculated that perhaps that was because the administration wanted Russia to know that they had penetrated its electric grid. Now, it's interesting that President Trump wasn't briefed on these incursions into the Russian power grid. "The Times" attributes that to little noticed powers slipped into the military authorization bill Congress passed last year, that allowed Cyber Command to take actions, clandestine operations in cyberspace without having to get special presidential approval, making them more like traditional military actions that don't have to go up to the president's desk. So, that is how Cyber Command was able to do this without the president knowing, according to "The Times" reporting.
But President Trump clearly frustrated that this report is out there at the moment -- Martin and Christi.
SAVIDGE: Yes, he unleashed a broadside on social media.
Sarah Westwood, thank you very much for that.
Right now, a massive protest flooding the streets of Hong Kong over a controversial extradition bill. We'll tell you what the protesters are demanding and we'll take you there live.
PAUL: Also, four 2020 Democratic presidential candidates were at the Black Economic Alliance Presidential Forum. What they talked about regarding the changes that they are pitching to woo African-American votes.
SAVIDGE: Also, millions of dads are feeling the love this Father's Day. But one father is actually spreading the love, giving free dad hugs. We speak to him about his mission of human kindness.
[07:10:41] PAUL: All right. What are you looking at there are live pictures of massive protests on the streets of Hong Kong. This is despite the suspension of a controversial bill that would allow for criminals to be extradited to mainland China. That's what they were hoping for. They don't want it just suspended, however. They want it dismantled all together.
SAVIDGE: They do, indeed. And organizers are also calling for the city's embattled leader to step down. That is just one of a number of demands.
CNN correspondents Ivan Watson and Matt Rivers are both covering every angle of this for us.
Ivan, let's start with you first. Any indication that the voices of these protesters are actually being listened to?
WATSON: well, they have already accomplished something, which is to force the local government into a major concession, Martin, which was made on Saturday. That was the temporary suspension of the law that has started the most dramatic week in politics that Hong Kong has seen in years. That concession coming Saturday, but only after this park where these protesters are now gathered was the scene of clashes between riot police and protesters, where the police were firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators.
And now, just four days later, we'll pan around here a little bit, so you can see you have a sea of protesters dressed in black, peacefully gathered here with the police standing by in the background helping control traffic. It is, in the short term, a victory for the streets here in Hong Kong.
And the protesters are also now calling for the resignation of the top appointed official in this city, Carrie Lam. They're calling for allegations of what they say is police brutality on Wednesday. And they want this controversial extradition not just temporarily suspended but completely scrapped.
We don't know what authorities will say in response to this, but there's a deeper, deeper, popular distrust that we're seeing here. Hong Kong is officially part of China. It's only through a twist of colonial history that people are legally allowed to gather here and criticize their own government. This would not be tolerated anywhere else in China. And that is at the heart of the protest movement.
But there's a time limit. In 2047, this city is supposed to go back into Beijing's jurisdiction, under communist rule. All these freedoms are to go away and the people here are showing they do not like that arrangement -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: All right. Ivan Watson, thanks very much.
Now we turn to Matt Rivers, who has the street view of the protests here. This crowd is just -- as we look at these images, it's just staggering to see from above. What's it like to be right there on the street?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Martin and Christi. We've been in this section of Hong Kong called Causeway Bay and all of these people behind me. They're making their way to where Ivan is, outside of the legislative council building.
I've been on this roadway here for hours and the amount of people that just keep coming, they don't stop. And I think it shows the numbers out here. Last Sunday, organizers said it was about a million people that ultimately showed up.
I don't know exactly how many people are on the streets today, but I can tell you the numbers have to be competitive with what we saw last Sunday. I think there's certainly a chance it would go over a million people just given the volume of people we've seen on every single street. We've been on these streets for hours and hours and every single street is packed with people.
And you heard Ivan talk about all the different issues protesters have. Each one of them is a gripe they would point to and say that's why they're out here. But the overall message is also what Ivan spoke about. They are increasingly afraid of encroachment from mainland China.
I live in Beijing normally. I can tell you this does not happen in Beijing, because the communist leaders there don't allow freedom of expression and freedom of protests. And these people, a little over 7 million Hong Kongers in total, they -- a lot of them do not want to become a part of mainland China and the amount of people you've seen out on the streets, the momentum over a week's worth of protests just shows you the energy that is behind this movement.
[07:15:06] And that's why I don't think that energy and these kind of protests are going away soon.
PAUL: I was wondering if there are more planned so they can try to secure what it is they want to happen there.
Matt Rivers, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.
And we'll obviously keep following that for you.
Also, we want to tell you about the 23-crew members from an oil tanker that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman. They are safely in Dubai this morning. The shipping company Front Line says everyone is well, they're being looked after in Iran. The ship is still in the gulf. And will be inspected for damage.
Now, the cause of the incident is still unknown. President Trump is convinced Iran is responsible. The U.K. has said the same. The U.S. believes Iran fired a missile at a U.S. drone hours before the attack but missed.
SAVIDGE: Four 2020 Democratic potentials are wooing black voters in Charleston. We'll take a look at why South Carolina is such a key testing ground for candidates looking to court African-Americans.
PAUL: And O.J. Simpson just made his Twitter debut. And he has a message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O.J. SIMPSON, FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER: This should be a lot of fun. I have a little getting even to do, so god bless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[07:20:03] PAUL: Nineteen minutes past the hour. So good to have you back here.
There were four Democratic presidential candidates in Charleston yesterday. They were courting African-American voters. We're talking about Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke. They attended the Black Economic Alliance Presidential Forum.
April Ryan is with us now. She's CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.
April, so good to see you. Let's listen here together to what the candidates had to say at the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How deeply worried people are about their children, about how they build a future for their children. Often, it's talked about in education terms, sometimes in health care terms. Sometimes it's just the basic infrastructure.
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're stepping up outreach both in terms of events like this and more grassroots events engaging with activists and community leaders, making sure our campaign team itself reflects the diversity of the party in the country we seek to serve.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm really confident we're going to do well here and I believe we're going to win South Carolina because we're going to earn the votes of the people here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: April, as I understand it, they each had about 15 minutes to talk. Did one resonate with the audience more than the other?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I would say, for the four that came, they resonated. Those four out of the field of how many, 23, that's sad. Especially in the last presidential election with Hillary Clinton -- the matchup with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton received, what was it, 94 percent of black women, the vote of black women and 80 percent of the vote of black men. And that was for the general election.
The black vote is crucial, and for the other candidates not to come, I'm sure they're busy but the black vote, all votes matter. But the black community is the highest number of negatives in almost every category. And there are two things that follow the black community, race and economy. Two things, they're twins, they're conjoined twins.
You know, the black community has issues of unemployment. The black community has issues of unfair justice system punishment and prison issues, you know, education. All of this is commingled together.
And for the other candidates not to come and for these four to stand out, I'm sure the 28 percent or so of black people who live in the state of South Carolina, one of the first voting states, they will pay attention to that.
PAUL: Yes, you just highlighted why South Carolina is important there. Why do you think more of these candidates did not show up? And will it hurt them?
RYAN: You know, there's so much time between now and Election Day. That's one thing. But when you are not in certain venues at certain times that are promoted as a big moment, people take note of that. There are some candidates who are struggling with the black community
right now, and there are some candidates people assume have that vote. That's not necessarily so, be it a black or be it a white candidate, be a woman candidate, or be a man candidate, male candidate.
This is a hard-fought vote. It's important for these candidates to not. They talk about on the campaign trail, issues of reparations. Why weren't you in South Carolina? They talk about black unemployment. Why weren't you in South Carolina?
So, it's very important as you run for president of the United States that covers all America, you have to be there for all America.
PAUL: That's a quote right there.
April, I want -- that is a good -- that is a quote. I just have to ask you about something else while you're with us, because this story is getting an awful lot of traction. O.J. Simpson set up a Twitter account.
PAUL: Yes, let's look at a little bit of his first two video tweets here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMPSON: Hey, Twitter world, this is yours truly. Now, coming soon to Twitter, you'll be able to read my thoughts and opinions on just about everything. Now, there are a lot of fake O.J. accounts out there. So, this one, @therealoj32 is the official one.
So, this should be a lot of fun. I have a little getting even to do. So, god bless and take care.
Hey, Twitter world, you know, for years people have been able to say whatever they want to say about me with no accountability. Now I get to challenge a lot of that B.S. and set the record straight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: OK. So, you tweeted last night, we see it there, what do you think about this.
[07:25:03] I want to know, first of all, what do you think about this?
RYAN: So, you know what? I have a problem with people wanting to know what I think. OK, so, this is not presidential, OK? This is not presidential.
PAUL: It's not.
RYAN: This is not presidential. If people say, why is she -- OK. I'm a person like everyone else. I grew up watching O.J. Simpson run through the airports with those suitcases trying to gets in the Hertz car. Remember that? PAUL: Uh-huh.
RYAN: Remember when he was a sportscaster. We all remember when -- well, for those of us above a certain age remember when O.J. was known as a hero. Then we remember when Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson were killed, were murdered.
And the police arrested O.J. We remember the slow speed chase. We remember the trial. During all that, it was such a big issue. I remember a split screen with O.J. Simpson and President Bill Clinton when Bill Clinton was delivering his State of the Union Address.
You remember that? There was a split screen. So, you remember that. That was a big deal.
PAUL: It was a big moment.
RYAN: Yes. It was a big moment. That was one of our first split screens we had ever seen before. That moment really captured the nation's attention at the time.
As far as O.J. Simpson, he wants to get even. You know, I went on his Twitter feed today, this morning. I'm not following him, but I looked at him.
It's up to the America public to decide. I mean, if you believe -- there is a lot of emotion and passion around O.J. Simpson. There are many people who believe that he did it. You know, we heard the late Johnnie Cochran with that famous quote, if it doesn't fit, you must acquit.
There are still people who believe that O.J. was responsible in some kind of way, even after he said he was going to spend the rest of his life looking for the killers. We haven't seen that yet. And there are people who believe he's innocent.
So, I want to see what he has to say because I study people and I watch the news. It's not presidential. The only presidential piece was the split screen.
But he's still part of pop culture. He was once a hero. But now, for some, he's a zero. But we'll see, he was a hero who's now trying to vindicate himself. We'll see what he has to say.
PAUL: Hero to zero. You're full of one of my liners today, April Ryan. Thank you.
RYAN: It's Sunday. It's Father's Day. Happy Father's Day to all the fathers.
PAUL: Amen to that. Happy Father's Day to all the fathers. Thank you, April. Always good to have you here.
RYAN: Thanks. Great.
SAVIDGE: On the subject of politics, you don't want to miss "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" this morning. It will be at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Jake will be talking with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke.
That's "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" today, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, of course here on CNN.
Still to come on this day, four years ago, President Trump announced his candidacy and he chose a rather unusual conveyance there at Trump Tower. The escalator moment, going down? We'll look at what all of it may have meant now four years later.
PAUL: And Phoenix's mayor is issuing an apology after that video of officers pulling over a family.
Natasha Chen is following the developments.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Phoenix mayor and police chief are speaking out on what they will do and will also share some new facts we're learning about the police accounts of the case.
[07:31:56] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: The mayor of Phoenix is apologizing after a video of officers drawing guns on a family have sparked outrage on social media and beyond.
CHRIS PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the video from late May shows police attempting to arrest a couple after their 4-year-old daughter walked out of the Dollar Store with a doll. In the video there's an officer cursing at the mother while she's holding a daughter and the other child is standing by her side. Another officer kicks and curses at the father.
CNN's Natasha Chen is with us now.
Talk about the mayor's apology. This, of course, happening after the family has notified the city, we're suing you for $10 million.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you get a notice of claim, and next step would be suing, depending on their response.
And the mayor has called for a Tuesday community forum because of this.
So, let's read part of her statement from yesterday. Mayor Kate Gallego says: I'm deeply sorry for what this family went through and I apologize to our community. This is not who we are. I refuse to allow this type of behavior to go unchallenged. I have spoken with our police chief, city manager and our public safety committee chairman.
Now, this statement comes as we're hearing more from a police complaint we obtained. It talks about the dad, Dravon Ames, admitted to having stolen underwear he threw out the window before the confrontation. Police said Ames was also cited for driving on a suspended license. Now, in a more detailed report that one of our affiliates obtained,
the officers do mention they use loud and strong language but it doesn't mention some of the profanity and aggression seen on this video. The video prompted a statement from the police chief she posted to Facebook here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JERI WILLIAMS, PHOENIX POLICE: I wish investigations could be handled instantly. But each one takes time and deserves the due diligence before we can discuss specific details. For those who have made public comments and have contacted me personally about the video, I get did. Your concerns are also my concerns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Slightly different accounts of what happened between police and from what the family says, but all parties agree the 4-year-old seems to have taken a doll from the store that wasn't paid for. That doll was returned and no one was charged with any alleged thief -- Christi, Marty.
PAUL: All right. Natasha Chen, thank you for the very latest. Appreciate it.
SAVIDGE: Panic broke out at a California Costco after an off-duty officer shot and killed a man. Police say that an off-duty Los Angeles police officer shot 32-year-old Kenneth French after French allegedly attacked him. The officer was shopping with his family and holding his young child when the alleged attack happened.
PAUL: Two of French's family members were injured. They're a hospital in critical condition. Shoppers ran out of the store when the shooting started, as you can imagine, thinking there was an active shooter. Polices are further investigating the incident.
SAVIDGE: Well, today marks four years since arguably the most consequential escalator ride in U.S. history. We're talking about that day, the day President Trump announced his candidacy. My next guest spoke to reporters, aides, and even Trump biographers about what the day was like.
[07:39:13] SAVIDGE: What were you doing exactly four years ago today? Well, you might get a flash back now. June 16, 2015, Trump Tower and what is now that famous escalator ride when Donald Trump announced that he was running for president.
Four years later, we get the inside scoop about what that day was like from the people who were actually there.
Michael Kruse writes in "Politico" magazine. Let me just read a quote to you here. Four years ago Donald Trump stepped onto an escalator in the atrium of Trump Tower of Fifth Avenue in New York and began ascending into a lobby packed with cameras. Safe to say the 10 or so seconds that followed are the most consequential escalator ride in American history.
And I do believe that is exactly safe to say.
Senior staff writer for "Politico", Michael Kruse joins us now.
[07:40:02] First of all, let me ask you, why focus on the escalator? What gave you this idea? It is a fascinating read, but I'm just wondering, you know, what made you go, hey, the escalator, right?
MICHAEL KRUSE, SENIOR STAFF WRITER, POLITICO: Well, the escalator is literally the first step of what we now, of course, know to be his path to the presidency. So, to the idea of the consequence of the escalator itself, there is the United States of America before June 16, 2015 at 11:05 a.m., and there is the United States of America after June 16, 2015 at 11:05 a.m. The people who were there, the people watching TV all over the country, they couldn't have known that at the time, but we now know looking back that this is very much a before and after moment in American political history and American history, period.
SAVIDGE: You talked to dozens and dozens of people, all of whom who are quoted throughout this article. And everybody has a different perspective. Not just from where they were physically in the building but also, you know, maybe politically where they are.
How did you round all these people up? How did you know all who was there?
KRUSE: Well, I've been reporting on the president almost as a biographer over the last three-plus years. So, a lot of these people I've talked to for other stories. They all, of course, either were there at the moment or watched that moment with particularly insightful or educated eyes. I wanted to go back to them, given what we now know and get their perspectives on what they were thinking at that time and how they sort of funneled that scene and that imagery through either their relationship with Donald Trump over the years, the study of Donald Trump that many of them had done over the years.
So, I thought by bringing all of these voices, this variety of viewpoints and vantage points into that one moment and delivering it in oral history form would help us kind of hit a pause button on those ten or so seconds and grapple with what has become clear, the significance of that entrance of Donald Trump's re-entrance of public life in this different context.
And, of course, at that time, people didn't know. People thought perhaps this was another publicity stunt, this was a way to juice up his celebrity, this is a way to get more money from NBC for subsequent seasons of "The Apprentice." He, of course, had had head fakes in previous years and decades, I'm going to run for president, but then, of course, not running for president seriously.
And so, there are all kinds of reasons to doubt that the reality of this moment, the legitimacy of that moment. What was he doing? Lots of people, reporters, photographers, you know, Joe Schmoe's off the street even at the time wondering, is this for real? Of course, we now know it was very real.
SAVIDGE: You know, a lot of people look at this and they can't ignore the fact that metaphorically they see the escalator going down. But not everybody is critical here. You have people in this article that speak highly of the president and think that the venue was very appropriate.
KRUSE: The venue itself, the setting itself is not only appropriate but extremely important to consider this moment. Trump Tower opened in 1983. It is singularly the finest achievement of Donald Trump's life with the possible exception, of course, of being elected president.
But it is everything to Donald Trump. It's where he works and where he lives, until that became the White House. More importantly, though, it is and always has been since 1983 the epicenter of all things Trump. The stage set for his life.
The image he wants to convey to the American public is done first and foremost from and out of Trump Tower. That atrium is the public place in that building.
SAVIDGE: Let me interrupt you. The only reason I do is because the article is so good, I don't want you to give it away in the interview. I want people to read it because it's a fascinating look back at a moment now through the lens of four years we really focus upon.
So, Michael Kruse, thanks very much for writing it. And we do appreciate you coming in and talking to us about that article. Thanks.
KRUSE: Thanks for having me.
SAVIDGE: You bet.
PAUL: So, a small act of kindness getting a huge response for Pittsburgh, for a father there, Howie Dittman. He is with us to tell us what happened that day, not just to the people there, but to him. Stay close.
[07:48:48] SAVIDGE: I'm going to go out on a limb and think if you're watching right now, you're probably sitting down. In today's segment here on "Staying Well," we're going to point it is not about the sitting but how you sit down that makes all the difference.
Take a look.
CHELSEA VARGAS, ENTREPRENEUR: Finding a way to sit down properly has been huge. I had been having sort of lower back pain off and on for years at that point. JENN SHERER, OWNER, SPINEFULNESS STUDIO: How you sit down is
important, because that's usually the moment where you decide how to place your pelvis, which is the foundation to your spine.
Put all the bend into the hip socket so the tail is out and free and allow the knees to bend without changing the tail position and placing your pelvis down. All your fold is in the hip socket. And basically just relax your chest down.
This is a good sitting position because you're holding your body weight in your bones and not your muscles.
DR. TIN-NA KAN, ANESTHESIOLOGIST, THE PERMANENTE MEDICAL GROUP: When the structures of your back, the backbones, which are supposed to be holding your body up, when they're in the proper place and properly aligned and doing their job, then the rest of your body can relax.
[07:50:07] SHERER: Go ahead and now start bending your knees.
VARGAS: Now once I can sit down well, I can basically maintain that well, I can basically maintain that posture so I can stay comfortable that way for the whole, you know, stretch of time, which is really great.
PAUL: So you may know this Pittsburgh father, because he is being called a hero for a simple act of kindness. He attended the Pittsburgh pride parade and offered free hugs.
And the response was overwhelming. More than 700 hugs in two and a half hours. And Howie Dittman is with me now.
Howie, thank you so much for being here. Happy Father's Day to you, first of all.
SCOTT "HOWIE" DITTMAN, LGBTQ SUPPORTER: No, thank you. Thank you.
So, you were offering free dad hugs at the pride parade.
PAUL: I want to get to a couple of things that you shared that really struck you. This picture of you with a woman -- I think it was the first woman that you said came up to you. What was that like? What was that about?
DITTMAN: I traveled down there with my friend Denna (ph) Hayes with the organization freemomhugs.org. When I had seen her RSVP on Facebook to the event, my first thought was, well, you know, if you have 100 moms and 100 dads presented with a child that identified with this population, you know, my thought was, my assumption was, the moms overall would be more accepting. So, possibly dad hugs could be even more needed. So, just grabbed a shirt online and went down with Denna. The parade
hadn't started yet. It was a joyous festival. I turned around and there was this young woman with tears in her eyes.
She threw her arms around me and thanked me and thanked me. And, obviously, I wasn't going to be the one to let go first. Even though we headed down there to, you know, spread joy and have smiles, that maybe it was going to turn out a little bit differently.
PAUL: She was kind of tearing up when she saw you. Was it the hugs from dad?
DITTMAN: Yes. Yes. She told me even then she had been across the street and was just, you know, going about her day having a good time and she saw the shirt and ran across the street because she instantly needed -- it threw a switch. However you want to phrase it.
But it struck her from being in this, again, joyous festival kind of thing to, you know, just needing a dad hug, I suppose. So --
PAUL: Let's talk about the gentleman that you put a picture up of on your Facebook page as well. This one resonated with you, too. What did he tell you?
Are these people talking to you? Are they telling you stories about themselves and why this is important to them, or is the hug enough?
DITTMAN: The -- for that gentleman, he's almost 50 now. And he just cried and cried and cried.
And, again, you know, I didn't know his story at the time. He actually shared with Denna after we had ended the hug that he was 19 when his parents found out and excommunicated him. It was almost 30 years, and he hadn't heard from his parents. You know, there's been no contact.
And I remember him coming down the street where he was singing and everyone is having a blast. Again, just in the middle of this festival, this great parade. And then he saw the shirt and, you know, it just broke -- breaking people down.
It was heartbreaking honestly how many -- there was a mix. There were joyous ones of course, and there were ones that they just -- they held on a little bit longer. You could feel them reacting and starting to cry and things like that --
PAUL: And after this I know, it struck you so much that you actually put it on your Facebook page. I want to read something you wrote.
You said: Imagine that, parents. Imagine your child feels so lost from you that they sink into the arms of a complete stranger and sob endlessly just because that stranger is wearing a t-shirt offering hugs from a dad. Think of the depths of their pain. Try to imagine how deep those cuts must be. Please don't be the parent of a child that has to shoulder that burden.
Have you heard from any parents?
DITTMAN: Yes, I've heard from everyone, I think. But, you know, some of them are -- you know, there's a lot of people are thanking me. A lot had supportive parents but their partner didn't or their friend didn't or they themselves obviously didn't.
I've heard from parents that told me they have been crying for days. They were that parent. Now they have reached out to try to reconcile to ask for forgiveness and try to reestablish with their child.
[07:55:02] I've heard from children of those parents of all ages that have, you know, received that call and said I haven't heard from my parents in five years, or 10 years. And, you know, this morning I did and now they want to have lunch. Things like that.
PAUL: Wow, that's a moment, Howie. That's a moment to realize what you did actually brought people together. I only have 30 seconds.
But I want to ask how this changed you?
DITTMAN: I'm sorry?
PAUL: How did this change you?
DITTMAN: I don't know. It's just kind of what we do. I have an organization called Helping Butler County that we just try to identify needs in the community and fill those needs. And we don't start with labels or end with labels. We just try to do good human things.
So, it definitely is impactful. I mean, I can't deny that in any way, shape or form. I mean, it's -- I'm looking forward to next year's parade for sure. But in between, we have a lot of work to do.
PAUL: I bet you're not going to be the only one wearing that free dad hugs shirt anymore.
Well, thank you so much, Howie. You are doing -- you did some pretty darn incredible work in 2-1/2 hours there, bringing families together and you didn't even know it.
Thank you so much and happy Father's Day to you again.
DITTMAN: Thank you so much.
PAUL: Absolutely. Some real good human kindness going on there.
We want to show you these images from Hong Kong, where obviously they are 12 hours ahead and in the darkness. Massive protests under way. And the protests are ongoing despite the suspension of a controversial bill that would allow for criminals to be extradited to mainland China. We will continue to follow this situation.
PAUL: We are always so grateful to spend your Saturday and Sunday mornings with you. We want to wish you a happy Father's Day. Happy Father's Day to my dad. That is me and my daughter. Hey, to my
husband as well, and to you, Martin, happy Father's Day.
SAVIDGE: Thank you very much. Happy Father's Day to all.
"INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" up after this break.