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Baseball Fans Mourn Death of Tyler Skaggs; Trump's July 4th Celebration; Whistleblower on Pompeo's Security Detail; Humanitarian Crisis in Syria. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 2, 2019 - 09:30   ET



[09:34:05] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Just moments ago, South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaking at Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition event and addressing the questions about how he, as mayor, handled police shootings at home. Have a listen to his comments.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd say we've done everything we need to do because the results aren't there. That's something I've owned up to and something we will work on even harder as a community.

But this is a national concern. There as so many communities where there is a gap in diversity between the profession and the people that are served. And I think a lot of it has to do with this vail of mistrust between communities of color and law enforcement that has a lot of young people of color saying, why would I ever want to be in that line of work? We've got to turn the table on that and make sure people know that if you want to be an instrument of safety and justice, yes, it might make sense for you to be an activist, it might make sense for you to be a public defender, it might a lot make sense for you to be part of law enforcement and be part of doing that job well.


[09:35:01] SCIUTTO: Well, as he did in the Democratic debates, Mayor Pete owning up to mistakes in handling the police shootings in the community of South Bend. He's continuing to speak. We're going to monitor that and we'll bring you any news we hear from there.

Another story we're following this morning, police in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are investigating the mysterious death of Los Angeles Angles Pitcher Tyler Skaggs. The 27-year-old, just 27-years-old, was found dead yesterday in his hotel room shortly before the Angels were scheduled to play the Texas Rangers. All of Major League Baseball is in mourning now with fans leaving flowers and notes at the Angels' stadium while tributes pour in from other teams and players.

CNN's Sara Sidner has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tyler Skaggs taking the mound for the Angles.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Lefty Tyler Skaggs on the mound against the Oakland A's. The 27-year-old athlete was one of the Los Angeles Angels most reliable pitchers. Less than 48 hours later, police find Skaggs dead in a Texas hotel room.

His body discovered just hours before he and his teammates were to begin the opening game of a series against the Texas Rangers. Their game postponed as shock and grief set in from Texas to his home field in Anaheim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For him to pass away at such a young age, it's hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just honoring him. He earned our respect pitching.

SIDNER: Major League Baseball, his team, those he played against and those he never knew took to social media to express their sorrow for number 45.

His teammate and all-star Mike Trout remembering him as a great teammate, friend and person who will forever remain in our hearts. We love you, 45, he tweeted.

All-star pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, Marcus Stroman, tweeted, RIP Tyler Skaggs. Heart breaking, man. Makes me sick to my stomach. Prayers for his entire family and friends.

The reason for Skaggs' death is still a mystery. Police reportedly ruling out foul play or suicide. He had so much to live for. The Los Angeles born athlete was playing professional baseball for a team in his home state and he had just gotten married last year. He appeared happy and ready to take on the Texas Rangers, donning his Texas duds in this Instagram photo shared by his wife Carly. That was Sunday.

By Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles born Angel would never alight on the mound again.


SIDNER: I mentioned that he and his wife were just married in December. They didn't even get to spend a year together.

Also that the game was postponed. They are now going to play the opener of the series today.

You can bet, Jim, that this will be a very heartfelt talk from players from across the country talking about him and the fact that he was just 27 and really someone who was well liked across the board.


SCIUTTO: His poor wife as well, no question. SIDNER: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Sara Sidner, thanks very much.

The governor of Arizona says that the state will no longer provide tax incentives to Nike. This after the company decided not to sell a special edition shoe featuring an older version of the American flag. The sneaker, which was supposed to have a Betsy Ross version of the flag, was due to be released yesterday, but "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that the company pulled the shoe after receiving complaints from former NFL star Colin Kaepernick and others. They said the show was offensive because that version of the flag has ties to America's era of slavery. Tax incentives from Arizona would have been used to build a Nike manufacturing plant in the state. Governor Doug Ducey says the company bowed to an onslaught of political correctness. No word in response yet from Nike.

And we know the president loves a show and he's kind of getting it. Those tanks arriving for his July Fourth celebration. We'll have more after this.


[09:43:15] SCIUTTO: So, there will be tanks at President Trump's Fourth of July celebration in D.C. You see them right there, already arriving in Washington on the back of flatbed trucks. The president getting some of the military show that he's long been pushing for, though maybe not quite as he planned it.

CNN's Ryan Browne is live at the Pentagon.

So, Ryan, they're not going to roll down Pennsylvania Avenue, these tanks, but they will be there.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: That's right, Jim. We're being told that they are going to be displayed in a static presentation. That means they won't be moving. Part of that is to protect roads and bridges. You know, D.C. was not designed to have these very heavy M-1 Abrams tanks driving on them. In fact, this is one of the reasons the military advised against having tanks participate in the now canceled parade that Trump had planned some time ago.

But in addition to these tanks, we're being told there's going to be some other armored vehicles on display and some flyovers from some B-2 bombers and some F-22 fighters and F-35s. Again, Reagan International Airport will be suspending operations, we're being told, for a brief period of time to permit these flyovers. But there are some questions of costs involved in these very advanced jets. You know, how much this is all going to cost.

But one thing that Trump did say was going to be there are Sherman tanks, which, of course, haven't been in use since the 1950s. So it remains to see what exactly is on display on July 4th.


SCIUTTO: Not a Sherman tank. That you'd find in a museum.

Ryan Browne, thanks very much.

BROWNE: You bet.

SCIUTTO: Now to a CNN exclusive and another potential scandal brewing inside the Trump administration, an ethics one. House Democrats are investigating accusations by a State Department whistleblower that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his family misused his diplomatic security detail. The whistleblower claims that Pompeo asked special agents, armed agents, to run his personal errands, such as getting Chinese food, picking up his dog from the groomer.

[09:45:02] CNN's Michelle Kosinski broke the story. She joins me now with more.

So the source of this is a whistleblower, and this would be an unethical use, would it be an illegal use of those resources too?


Anyway, the whistleblower goes to these congressional investigators with a key House committee saying that there are concerns within diplomatic security, or DS, that agents are being asked to do things at times that they don't really feel comfortable doing, like picking up Chinese food, making them feel like, quote, Uber Eats with guns, according to the whistleblower. Picking up the family dog from the groomer. Picking up Pompeo's adult son from the train station and taking him to the family house.

According to long-standing protocol within DS, the secretary is supposed to be in the car if they do a trip like this, unless there's some specific threat that would necessitate --


KOSINSKI: A DS special agent doing tasks like this.

So the State Department, in these carefully worded statements that took them four days to get to us, they don't deny that these trips took place, but they say at no time did any member of the family ask anybody at DS to do anything that was inconsistent with protection. That's how they --

SCIUTTO: How could food delivery be in -- consistent with protection?

KOSINSKI: We don't know. I mean I -- like I said, according to protocol, there would have to be some specific threat. But they did not deny these trips. They didn't explain these trips.

However, the bigger issue here, according to this whistleblower, is that multiple people within DS don't know why Pompeo's wife, Susan, has her own dedicated security detail.

SCIUTTO: That's not protocol. KOSINSKI: They -- they don't believe that long-standing protocol was followed. They don't believe that there's a threat that merits this. And our sources say this is unusual. That in the past, if a spouse of a secretary was given a detail, it would be for a short period of time and based on some specific threat.

SCIUTTO: Right. Right.

KOSINSKI: So the State Department says that an initial threat assessment was done back in July of '18, and that's about all we know according to the State Department.

SCIUTTO: Great story. Great reporting. Michelle Kosinski, thanks very much.

KOSINSKI: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Another story we're following this hour, growing violence and deteriorating living conditions forcing tens of thousands from their homes. CNN goes inside northern Syria, the last rebel stronghold in that country. The conditions are harrowing. We'll bring you a report from the ground.


[09:51:59] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

Six people were killed, seven others injuries during a series of air strikes on Syria's Idlib province on Monday. A volunteer group says that three children were among those hurt in the shelling by the Syrian regime.

Meanwhile, this dire warning from humanitarian officials. They say that northern Syria is on the brink of a nightmare unlike anything we've seen this century, with 3 million people trapped in Idlib as violence keeps surging.

CNN's Arwa Damon went inside the country's last rebel stronghold. She joins us now from northern Syria.

Arwa, I just don't think people are aware of both the scale, the number of people there, 3 million people, but the threat that they're under now. Tell us what you're seeing.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, and I also don't think that they understand just how dire the situation is.

The main refugee camp is completely full. These are people who arrived in this most recent wave of bombings. They went to try to get tents. They went to try to get housing. They were told there is nothing left. One of these woman here is pregnant. Another woman over here, who we can go see, just gave birth out here in the open last night.

And these are all people who are fleeing because of this intensified bombing, mostly in the southern part of the province. We were down there earlier today, Jim. It's terrifying. The fighter jets are constantly in the sky. People don't know how to protect themselves. The clinics, the hospitals are being bombed and people's field, their livelihoods, are being bombed as well. Most of these people out here, this group that we're with, they're farmers and they had their fields completely burnt.


This woman here -- (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -- and this is Besa (ph) and she was born here last night.


She says that she wasn't afraid.


She says, you know, we don't have anywhere to go. She gave birth here.

And, Jim, if you can imagine, there are entire areas very similar to this one, these scattered camps that are throughout this entire area. And then, of course, you have the main refugee camp. From the minute we arrived here, we were mobbed by these families who want to show us how they're living. People who come up to you and say, my father was killed. Children who come up and say, yes, come see, you know, my two brothers were killed. People who still today don't know where their loved ones are because they were being detained by their regime.

And this is a province that despite everything that it has been through, Jim, is still bracing itself for the worst. It's still bracing itself for that major offensive. And this is still more than eight years into what has been happening and unfolding across Syria. A war that has left the vast majority of the population, people that we've been talking to, wondering why it is that the international community, that world powers are watching what's happening and, in their opinion, and in the opinion of so many others, choosing to use these people as political pawns as opposed to do something to actually try to help them.


[09:55:21] SCIUTTO: Goodness, 3 million people under such dire conditions.

Arwa Damon, thanks very much there.

We just brought you there live to the ground in Syria, just a remarkable moment to witness there.

We'll be right back.