Return to Transcripts main page


Billionaire Tom Steyer, Who Wants Impeachment, Enters Race; Crying Boy Begs Father Not to Call Police on Black Man; When Will Trump Fulfill Vow to Open Detention Centers?; Question Over Interior Secretary's Role in Controversial Development. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 9, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] DOMENICO MONTANARO, LEAD POLITICAL EDITOR, NPR NEWS: I mean, since January, you know, until now. Because in January remember, he said he wasn't going to run. Then the Mueller report, I assume, came out and that may have had something to do with his thinking here. Because you've seen more Democrats in Congress call on Democratic leadership to do something about impeachment.

Now what's curious about that, he ran a group called "Need to Impeach." Right? Not a single word of impeachment was in his four- minute video today. So you were left wondering, what is his rational going to be. Because certainly national press are going to all ask him about impeachment and that's going to bring that question forward for a lot of the other Democrats to have to answer for. And frankly, we've been hearing from a lot of people, a lot of voters out on the campaign trail saying, there are just too many candidates. So bring one more in, means we have two dozen in the race.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Yes, Domenico thank you very much. And back to what we're talking about regarding Kentucky. Amy McGrath will be on "THE LEAD" next hour. So definitely stay tuned for that conversation.

Coming up next here, a black man waits for a friend in an apartment complex, and his mere presence bothered a California man so much that he called the police. Despite pleas from his young son standing right there telling his dad not to do it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a trespasser in my building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE'S SON: Daddy, don't. He's gone.

WESLEY MICHEL: Listen to your son.

SON: Daddy, don't. We can do better. I agree with him, daddy. Please don't. Please. I don't like this. I don't like this.


BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin and you're watching CNN.


BALDWIN: A video of a young boy tearfully begging his father not to call police on a black man who was just waiting for his friend at a San Francisco apartment building has gone viral. This father despite his little boy's pleas calls the police anyway.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there's a trespasser in my building.


WESLEY MICHEL: Listen to your son.


SON: Dad, please don't. We can do better. I agree with him, daddy.

WESLEY MICHEL: That's awesome.

SON: Let's go. Please, I don't like this. I don't like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Standing in the lobby.

SON: I don't like this. Let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As I left through the door and I walked, he walked in. He appears to be African-American.

MICHEL: Appears to be African-American.

SON: Daddy --

MICHEL: 35, software engineer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Polo shirt and a Yankees cap.

MICHEL: All good, all good, software engineer. Pink polo shirt and tennis shoes, jeans. Yes. You have to be here for when they call them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's filming me saying and refusing to leave. And saying, I'm going to be the next person on TV.

MICHEL: Yes, sir, you don't remember.


BALDWIN: Telling me I'm going to be the next person on TV.

Well, CNN national correspondent, Stephanie Elam, is with me live from Los Angeles. And Stephanie, he was right. What do you know?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think he necessarily knew that the man was filming it was going to be right about this one. But when you watch this video, I think what a lot of people are reacting to is the young boy. The son who's out there pleading with his dad saying, please don't, daddy, I agree with him, daddy, asking his dad to stop doing this. Now as this video plays out, the man shooting the video, Wesley Michel, keeps shooting the video while the man is calling. He says that why don't you just put your code in and call your friend down here. That's what the man in the video says. He's like, I don't have to do that. That's what the man shooting the video says. Eventually though the friend does show up. And let's show you that part of the video now.


MICHEL: This is your son? OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. He's actually here.

MICHEL: Yes, he's actually here. Yes, go ahead. I'm recording you.

He refused to identify himself. And now he's filming me. Look at you. Look at you.

SON: What are you doing?

MICHEL: Look at you, look at you. Look at you.

SON: Hey, stop it. Stop it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop filming me. Take your phone away from me.

MICHEL: If you touch me, I will --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your phone away from me.

MICHEL: OK, no, I'm not going to do any of that.

Now you're online forever.


ELAM: So the crux of the issue here is that the man in the video seemed to believe that he had a right to ask for him to identify himself. Whereas the man who was shooting the video felt that he did not have to identify himself. CNN was able to get in contact with Wesley Michel who shot the video. And he did give us a statement and in part he said this. "Unfortunately this incident mirrors the experience that African-Americans endure daily where we are questioned on whether we belong. I videotape this incident to protect myself and to support my story should police get involved. In fact, I was vindicated when the police arrived by showing them this video." And he also goes on to say that he's an American, a brother, a son. An ambitious engineer who loves to code and wants to greatly contribute to the tech world in SF, San Francisco, a city that he loves.

BALDWIN: Stephanie Elam, thank you so much for bringing that to our attention.

Coming up next, an investigation you will only see here on CNN. A whistle blower says he was pressured by the Trump administration to allow a major development deal in Arizona despite warnings about the damage it could do to the environment. We'll have that for you.

And the fate of Obamacare is in jeopardy as the President's Justice Department in a group of red states are arguing to a court about why it should die.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will defend the environment, but we will also defend American sovereignty, American prosperity, and we will defend American jobs.


[15:45:00] BALDWIN: That was President Trump trying to tout his record on the environment. But a new CNN investigation finds the Trump administration gave the green light to a massive Arizona housing development that raised serious concerns. CNN's Drew Griffin explains.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Villages at Vigneto is a massive housing development being planned in this Arizona desert east of Tucson. But like all development in Arizona water is an issue, especially for wildlife. And U.S. Fish and Wildlife Supervisor, Steve Spangle, thought before putting in all those homes, golf courses and potentially 70,000 people, government scientists should look carefully at how the project would impact the nearby San Pedro River.

STEVE SPANGLE, FORMER FIELD SUPERVISOR, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE: We wanted them to assess how much water was going to be withdrawn from the aquifer.

GRIFFIN: The EPA had said years earlier that developing the site represented a substantial and unacceptable impact. But the Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit for an earlier project on the site.

Spangle decided before the new Villages at Vigneto could move forward, a full-scale biological assessment was needed. That was October 2016. Then this happened. What followed was a series of events pieced together by CNN that shows a developer with connections to the Trump administration was able to push his project forward despite environmental concerns. It was just 7 months into the new administration, Steve Spangle received an unusual phone call.

SPANGLE: It was one of our solicitors, one of our attorneys from Washington and she told me that she had gotten a call from a high- level political appointee, within the Department of the Interior who informed her that our position out here in Arizona was not the position of the administration. GRIFFIN: Spangle says the lawyer from the Interior Department told

him he needed to reverse his earlier decision on that environmental assessment for the project.

SPANGLE: I felt I had a duty, I worked for the administration, I have to do what I'm told, so I did. I felt pressured to reverse my decision. In the simplest terms, I was rolled.

GRIFFIN: Spangle followed orders, reversed his decision, and four months later retired. Environmentalists are livid.

TRICIA GERRODETTE, TUCSON AUDUBON SOCIETY: We're supposed to work under the laws and science. And science was overridden here.

GRIFFIN: This is the developer. Mike Ingram is part owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He donated more than $50,000 to Donald Trump's political committees. Co-chaired a cancelled inauguration fundraiser that promised half million-dollar downers a hunting trip with Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump and a private reception with the President.

He's connected to Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, too. Ingram is a director of the Safari Club International Foundation. A group Bernhardt once represented. And since Donald Trump became President, Ingram has enjoyed easy access to Trump administration decision makers who oversee his interests. Schedules obtained by CNN, show at least 11 meetings, phone calls or emails with top Trump administration officials. Including then EPA chief, Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke who was Secretary of the Interior.

And CNN has learned that in August 2017 Mike Ingram met up with his old lobbyist friend and then Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The first of at least five meetings with him. This secret meeting, not on any public calendar, was a private breakfast held at Mike Ingram's hunting lodge in Montana. Just two weeks later, Fish and Wildlife Supervisor, Steve Spangle, got that unusual call from Washington, and the Villages at Vigneto development was on track again. A lawsuit by environmentalists filed earlier this year now has the project on hold. Ingram will not talk to CNN. He has hired one of Washington's most powerful lawyers to speak on his behalf, Lanny Davis, a Democrat.

LANNY DAVIS, ATTORNEY FOR EL DORADO HOLDINGS: The innuendo is, well he's close to Trump, there must have been political influence. That's just innuendo. I can't see any evidence there was any influence whatsoever politically.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Not even that he has unprecedented access to David Bernhardt on August 18, 2017. He invites him for breakfast. Isn't that right?

DAVIS: So, yes, that's right.

GRIFFIN: At his hunting lodge.

DAVIS: At his hunting lodge.

GRIFFIN: And it shortly after that that the phone call is made to Mr. Spangle telling him, we want you to change your decision.

DAVIS: And you now have done an incomplete narrative of the facts, so let's do the rest of your facts.

GRIFFIN: Please.

(voice-over): He explains the Army Corps of Engineers asked about Spangle's complaint. Fish and Wildlife Service looked into it and found no evidence Spangle's reversal was unjustified.

[15:50:00] And it's all in a new official letter handed to CNN by Lanny Davis just days after CNN first reached out to Ingram for comment on this story.

(on camera): CNN calls and suddenly there's a brand-new letter that comes out and reaffirms that everything is OK, and by the way, in that letter, nobody from Washington had anything to do with this. I mean, Mr. Davis, with all due respect, that sounds like a pretty slick move.

DAVIS: So, if your discussing innuendo and fog, I completely agree. If you focus on facts, the facts are that the Army Corps of Engineers made a decision on the facts, under the law.

GRIFFIN: Did you have anything to do with that letter?


GRIFFIN: Did Mr. Ingram have anything to do with that letter.

DAVIS: No. I would say on camera that sometimes bad luck happens to me when I'm working for client. In this case it was pure luck that I read this letter just before the CNN interview and I said there is a God in heaven.

GRIFFIN: The department of interior responded to the list of questions with a one sentence reply. Stating the issue had been reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and found nothing wrong. But the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources is now demanding its own answers. The Democratic chairman of that committee, Raul Grijalva, has informed the Department of Interior Congress has initiated an investigation into how and why environmental concerns about this massive project changed after Donald Trump was elected. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


BALDWIN: Drew, thank you. Coming up next, President Trump goes after "The New York Times" for its reporting on the conditions inside migrant detention centers and that reporter joins me live to share what she's seen firsthand.


BALDWIN: The Trump administration under fire from Democrats, activist groups, reporters following troubling stories and photos just like these. Showing overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at migrant detention center facilities. And just over this past weekend President Trump said he now wants the media to go inside and to report on the conditions for migrants detained at the border.


TRUMP: I'm going to start showing some of these detention centers to the press. We're going to have the press go in and see it because they're crowded, and we were the ones complaining about They're crowded.


BALDWIN: Caitlin Dickerson is a natural immigration reporter for "The New York Times" and a CNN contributor. I know you and I talk so much your pieces on immigration. But when you heard President Trump wants to bring journalist into the facilities, it hasn't happened yet.


BALDWIN: Do you think it will happen?

DICKERSON: It is hard to believe. And it is hard to believe because immigration detention facilities have been a black box for reporters, even preceding this administration. And all we've seen in the last five, six years is just more clamping down. So this all pre-dates Trump. You know, the difficulty that reporters face in trying to get into detention facilities. It's like trying to get into a jail or prison. There are security concerns of course. But as journalists we also see those security concerns used as a crutch sometimes to prevent us from getting inside.

So we did get a tour of the detention facility or -- excuse me, it is a border patrol station in Clint, Texas, that was being used to detain migrant children. We got a tour and the immediate aftermath of the story is that prompted all this discussion. But of course by then several hundred kids had been transferred out of the facility. Significant cleaning had been done. And often when we do get inside -- if we do get inside -- we're not allowed to interview anybody who's there and we're only allowed to see certain areas. So it makes it very difficult.

BALDWIN: You need unfettered access?


BALDWIN: Hopefully we'll hold the President true to his word. I was doing TV on Sunday and the President broke in and he was speaking and he was criticizing this "New York Times" piece. So a little Google search told me it was any friend Caitlan who wrote that piece. So first here was President.


TRUMP: "New York Times" story is a hoax. I think anything "The New York Times" writes nowadays, they're really, you know, they use the word unhinged, "The New York Times," When they write a story like that, I went to my people and they said, sir, it's not true. We told them about a crisis. They said it was manufactured. They laughed. But "The New York Times" story is a fabrication. I had people there that told me the job they are doing is incredible.


BALDWIN: OK. So I know you're shaking your head. I've got a minute left with you. Briefly, what were you writing about and what is your response to the President?

DICKERSON: My colleagues and I for that story talked to border patrol agents. They were our primary sources. Agents who worked at the facility in Clint, Texas, and told us what they saw. The idea that that's a fabrication is completely ridiculous. These are people who have firsthand knowledge of the conditions. But if you don't believe them, you can look at inspector general reports that the Department of Homeland Security has created in recent months. They corroborate so many of the conditions that we wrote about in the facilities. And so when you have the agency that runs the facilities corroborating the idea these conditions exist, I'm not sure what more the President wants. But we stand by our reporting. We feel strongly that it's accurate and we know that because we interviewed people who have firsthand knowledge. And who actually were doing the work of taking care of these migrant children without enough resources to do it.

BALDWIN: I wanted to make sure you could come on and respond to the President yourself. Thank you so much for all that you do. Caitlin Dickerson with "The New York Times", nice to have you back.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. We'll see you tomorrow. And in the meantime, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.