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CNN NEWSROOM

New Poll: Warren, Sanders Tied For Second Behind Biden; Trump Vows To Cure Cancer, Eradicate AIDS If Reelected; Man Travels To All 50 States To Mow Veterans' Lawns For Free; FBI Tests Minibar Samples after Deaths Of American Tourists. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 19, 2019 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Her new profile is in the June 24th issue of "The New Yorker." She was with Warren on the campaign trail and at her home. So, a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for coming on the show.

And Elizabeth Warren, you know, I talk to so many people who cover her who talk so much about, you know, she's got all the plans, and she stops and takes all these selfies, and is incredibly personable in person. When you look at those numbers that she's now tied for second, to what do you attribute that?

SHEELAH KOLHATKAR, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: What's really interesting, when I started reporting this piece for "The New Yorker" back in January, February, everyone kept saying to me, you know, she has the best ideas. She has ideas --

BALDWIN: But!

KOLHATKAR: But she'll never win. And I think her campaign has sort of pursued this very slow and steady, frankly, not very glamorous approach of just getting out there and hitting the pavement and meeting with voters.

And I know her campaign people feel really strongly that, sometimes, she may have sort of a harsh sort of persona on T.V., but when she's face-to-face with voters, she's actually very charismatic.

BALDWIN: What was she like with you?

KOLHATKAR: Well, her personal story is very powerful, and, frankly, I found it very kind of touching to hear about her whole background. You know, she grew up very lower middle class in Oklahoma. She was a working single mom.

She's very relatable. I think every day, average people, once they are in front of her, they see she's sort of like them. She's not really an austere Harvard professor.

BALDWIN: Yes. You talked in your piece about how she was prescient when it comes to, you know, her economic values, economic issues, but she's had to expand her brand, right, beyond being this Wall Street critic. And so as a candidate, she has been rolling out policy after policy

after policy. I think she's up to 22 at latest count. You know, you can get text updates with pictures of her dog, Bailey. She was, like, dolling out love life advice to somebody on Twitter. You know, to her critics, do you think she is more, well, well-rounded than they say?

KOLHATKAR: I think she is. She was a bit underestimated at first. And it's true that early on, her campaign was a little bit bogged down by this whole controversy about her, you know, Cherokee ancestry and --

BALDWIN: The DNA.

KOLHATKAR: -- and the DNA test. And, obviously, a lot of people on the left suddenly became very critical of her decision to take that. But that really all kind of died down.

And I went to many, many campaign events. I didn't hear a single voter ask about that. They were asking about kitchen table issues, you know, health care, the environment, my children's education, how am I going to pay for childcare.

BALDWIN: And she's got an answer to that.

KOLHATKAR: She has an answer.

BALDWIN: She's got an answer to that.

KOLHATKAR: She's been there herself and she studied those issues.

BALDWIN: The criticism, though, is, all right, well, all her plans sound well and good and everyone wants free tuition and so many people want, you know, Medicare for all, but how does she pay for it? What's their response?

KOLHATKAR: Well, their response is she's going to tax the 75,000 wealthiest families in the country with this wealth tax. Now, it sounds like it could potentially work. It would generate a lot of revenue.

Her advisers told me, you know, the second they did the calculation and realized how much money they could generate by taxing this small group of people and all the programs they could pay for, they had to at least try to do it.

Now, many experts feel that it would actually be really difficult, if not impossible, to actually implement such a tax. You would have to go and establish the net worth of every single American with more than $50 million.

BALDWIN: Yes.

KOLHATKAR: And that is, obviously, going to be challenging.

BALDWIN: Of all the time you had with her -- and I love the scene you described at Penn station and her running -- what surprised you the most? What do people not know about her?

KOLHATKAR: Well, she has an incredible amount of energy, and that is really remarkable given the sort of hectic pace she keeps up. And also, I think this does not always come across in Senate Banking Committee hearings, she's pretty funny.

BALDWIN: Yes.

KOLHATKAR: And, you know, she was very quick on her feet. I saw her just making little quips and cracks with voters asking questions. Of course, Bailey's there, like her little comedic sidekick. So I think that does -- that is going to charm a lot of people.

BALDWIN: Yes.

KOLHATKAR: I think the question will be about the substance of the policies.

BALDWIN: Yes.

KOLHATKAR: Could they really work? How would she implement them in such a divided Washington? I think those are important questions.

BALDWIN: People are craving substance.

KOLHATKAR: Yes, clearly.

BALDWIN: That is part of it. Sheelah Kolhatkar, thank you very much for coming in with "The New Yorker." Everyone can read your piece in just a couple of days. Thank you very much.

Coming up next, President Trump vows to cure cancer if he is reelected as your next president. Even though moments before, his own son slammed Joe Biden for making the same promise. We'll talk to an oncologist to find where we really stand.

[15:34:26] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Promises made, promises kept. That is the slogan for President Trump's reelection campaign. And last night at his kick-off rally in Florida, he made two very big ones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will come up with the cures to many, many problems, to many, many diseases. Including cancer and others. And we're getting closer all the time.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We will eradicate AIDS in America once and for all, and we're very close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Now, just -- just step away from the cheering crowd just for a second and dig into the facts because President Trump's recent budget proposal doesn't seem to match his soaring rhetoric.

Fact number one, his budget actually cuts overall funding for the National Cancer Institute by $900 billion while boosting money for pediatric research. And then fact number two, global AIDS funding is also being cut in that same budget, even as there is a commitment of nearly $300 million to stop the spread of HIV in the U.S. within a decade.

[15:40:04] Dr. Matthew Weiss is a deputy physician-in-chief of surgical oncology at Northwell Health Cancer Institute. And I wanted to bring him in today -- good to see you again --

DR. MATTHEW WEISS, DEPUTY PHYSICIAN-IN-CHIEF AND DIRECTOR OF SURGICAL ONCOLOGY, NORTHWELL HEALTH CANCER INSTITUTE: Thanks.

BALDWIN: -- to just react to this. And so just if you do the math, if Trump is re-elected, his second term ends 2024. That's five years. So in five years, he is effectively saying, we'll cure cancer and cure AIDS. When you heard that, what did you think?

WEISS: Well, obviously, I was excited by the enthusiasm. I mean, the idea that we're going to cure cancer in the next five years and actually put a cancer surgeon like myself out of work sounded great to me.

BALDWIN: You want -- we want you out of work, no offense.

WEISS: Correct.

BALDWIN: But is that realistic?

WEISS: Well, I think, you know, you have to look back. Over the last 20 years, we've made remarkable advances in cancer care. So if you think back to the '70s and '80s, if you were diagnosed with cancer, you had a less than a flip of a coin chance of being alive five years from now.

But now, about -- we've had a reduction of about one percent per year in cancer deaths. So we've actually improved it to the point where patients now that are diagnosed with cancer, they actually have a greater than 70 percent chance of being alive at five years.

But if you think about how we've gotten to that point, we've gotten to that point through early detection -- early detection is probably the most important way -- and tobacco and smoking cessation. Both of those things have been remarkably instrumental in reducing cancer- related deaths, but it's taken us 20 or 30 years to get to this point.

BALDWIN: Got it. It takes longer than five but, hopefully, we will get to that point. I wanted to ask you because, in that budget that I was citing, the President cites the fact that childhood cancers haven't seen new therapies in decades. And so he's saying that that is why he's investing $500 million over the next 10 years. But that investment comes at a cost -- overall funding actually goes down. So what's the impact of that? WEISS: So I mean, I think -- you know, obviously, I agree with some

of the things that Mr. Trump said -- President Trump. But what I would say is that cancer care for kids actually has improved over the last 20 to 30 years.

I actually did research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia many years ago, working with pediatric cancer patients. And actually, for those diseases, we've had remarkable advances, but we still need to do better. And funding for pediatric cancers? I can think of nothing more important than funding cancers in children.

BALDWIN: Dr. Weiss, thank you very much. Good to see you again.

BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, the FBI now helping to test minibar samples as part of the investigation into the deaths of those Americans in the Dominican Republic. We will take you there live.

And I will speak to this incredible man who went to all 50 states, mowing the lawns of veterans for free. All 50 states, by the way, several times over. So you have to stick around for a little inspiration. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:47:41] BALDWIN: An Alabama man with a big ol' heart wanted to help fund -- get help to people in need, so he started a lawn mowing business and decided to travel the nation trimming yards for veterans for free. Robert Smith, Jr. visited veterans in all 50 states and cut their grass, documenting his travels on social media. And he said he wants to make a difference one lawn at a time.

I said Robert. Rodney is his name. Rodney Smith, Jr. joins me. He is the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service.

And so, Rodney, thank you so much for being here. I've been looking forward to talking to you all day. I went on a deep rabbit hole reading all about you this morning. This is --

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: This is your fifth time around the nation doing this. You are all about helping veterans --

RODNEY SMITH, JR., FOUNDER, RAISING MEN LAWN CARE SERVICES: Yes.

BALDWIN: -- as we all should be, but mowing their lawns.

SMITH: Of course. Yes.

BALDWIN: What was your inspiration for doing this?

SMITH: Well, back in 2015, I came across an elderly man outside mowing his lawn. And it looked like he was struggling, so I pulled over and helped them mow. Then that night, I decided I'll start mowing, free, lawns for the elderly, disabled, single moms, and veterans. And that one small act of kindness kind of changed my life forever.

BALDWIN: The fact, though -- it's incredible what you're doing, but the fact that you rely entirely on word of mouth and social media, right?

SMITH: Yes.

BALDWIN: So you take a picture of yourself, you pop it up on social media with the state behind you. Delta Airlines jumping in on this, flying you all the way to places like Hawaii.

SMITH: Yes.

BALDWIN: You're meeting these strangers everywhere you go. Is there one trip that's most memorable for you?

SMITH: Yes, it kind of was. I met this Vietnam veteran in New London, Connecticut. He has five Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and a Bronze Star, and he was a medic during Vietnam. And I heard so many stories of what he went through during Vietnam.

He told me that it felt like it was his fault that soldiers were dying in his arms, and it just was a touching story that I -- you know, that he shared with me. And that's one story that stuck out with me.

And, of course, the World War II veterans that I met. When they told me their stories, I felt like a little kid being told a story during story time because the stories were so detailed. They remembered it just like it was yesterday.

BALDWIN: And, I mean, to -- I could sit and listen to so many of your stories. What's the reaction to, you know -- from these folks to you when you show up, and you're like, I'm mowing your lawn?

[15:50:06] SMITH: They really appreciate it. Just by mowing the lawn, just showing appreciation to our veterans, it means a lot to them. You know, especially the veterans that can't afford to pay anyone to do it, or they can't do it themselves. When I could come mow their lawn, they can now use their extra funds for medication and food and other things they really need.

BALDWIN: And where does this come from within you, Rodney? Is this your mom, your dad, what?

SMITH: Yes, just the way my mother and father brought me up. You know, they always told me, give back when I can. And that's one thing I always try to do every single day, give back when I can.

BALDWIN: I am listening to you so, so closely and so dearly. You know, you're this model for paying it forward. And just for people watching, some people have yards, Rodney, some people do not.

SMITH: Yes.

BALDWIN: What's your message to others to help out? SMITH: Well, there are many ways to make a difference. I have simply

chosen the lawnmower to make a difference with, and I hope to encourage kids to get out there and make a difference one lawn at a time. But if you're good at something, you know, give back. Use your skillset and give back to your community.

BALDWIN: Rodney Smith, thank you very much. Thank you.

SMITH: Well, thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Just in to CNN, the FBI has been testing minibar samples from at least one hotel resort in the Dominican Republic. This is coming amid the sudden deaths of at least nine American tourists on the island nation. Some of the deceased reportedly drank from their hotel minibar in the hours before their untimely deaths.

And CNN's Rosa Flores is live in Santa Domingo. And so, minibars, Rosa? What exactly is being tested and why?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brooke, we know that the FBI is helping with the testing of three different deaths. So samples collected from the scenes of three different deaths at the Bahia Principe Resort, which is probably about an hour and a half from where I'm standing here in Santo Domingo.

Now, specifically, we're learning today from the Ministry of Health that when it comes to the minibar of the New York couple, samples were taken and are being tested by the FBI. Those toxicology reports are pending. Now, we're also learning, Brooke, a lot more about the other samples that were collected in the room.

Now, all of this is according to the Ministry of Health. They tell us that the day of that couple's death, investigators arrived on the scene, secured the scene. Samples from the shower and the sink were taken, water samples. They also sampled the hotel bar, the minibar at that room.

While investigators were in the room, according to the Department -- Ministry of Health, excuse me, the investigators turned on the air conditioner, and they were working in there with the air conditioner on. That was their test for testing the air conditioner, making sure that nothing was wrong there.

According to the Ministry of Health, the tests for the water, for the minibar, for the hotel bar, all came back negative. Now, we know, of course, that the FBI is conducting toxicology tests on some of those samples as well.

Now, Brooke, one of the big questions that we have, of course, is chain of custody for all these samples. And we're asking further questions to see if chain of custody was respected and if the FBI actually collected these samples or if these samples were collected by D.R. authorities and then handed over to the FBI. Now, Brooke, one other thing I want to mention because we've learned a

lot from the Ministry of Health. They say that the number of deaths of American tourists has actually dropped year to year from last year to this year. Hear this.

So this year so far, they say, and we know of, seven deaths, seven American tourists who died in this country. Last year, Brooke, that number was 21 during the same time period, from January to June. So comparing apples to apples during the same time period, they say that that number was 21 -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Still, nine deaths in the D.R. Let us know what they find from these minibar tests. Rosa Flores, thank you very much. In Santa Domingo.

Next, we've got more on our breaking news from Capitol Hill. Hear what Hope Hicks just said under oath about those hush money payments involving President Trump.

And a former Navy SEAL testifying today that he saw a colleague pose for pictures with the enemy and shoot into crowds. It is a high profile war crimes trial that the President has weighed in on. Stand by.

[15:54:43] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, new details about the trial of a former Navy SEAL who's accused of war crimes. President Trump has come to Eddie Gallagher's defense and even intervened to have him moved to less restrictive confinement as he awaits his trial. But the charges against Gallagher are serious.

And moments ago, one of his fellow SEALs testified that he saw Chief Gallagher pose for pictures with a purported dead ISIS fighter and shoot elderly people and women who were not military targets while they were on this tour in Iraq back in 2017.

Dylan Dille said that after Gallagher posed for the photos, he told his team, quote, I know you're not all right with what happened, but it's just an ISIS dirtbag. Next time, if I get a prisoner, I'll do this where you can't see what happens.

Dille was ordered to testify at Gallagher's trial and is not protected by immunity. Gallagher's defense attorney has said that the witnesses all have, quote, an admitted hatred toward Eddie.

[16:00:00] I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me here in the last two hours. Let's go to Washington, D.C. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.