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Trump Claims He Was Unhappy With "Send Her Back" Chant Then Praises Crowd As "Incredible Patriots"; Ocasio-Cortez Responds To Trump On Racist Comments; Trump Quotes Right-Wing U.K. Commentator Katie Hopkins In Tweet; Over 150 Million People Threatened By Potentially "Deadly" Heat; Britain Warns Of "Serious Consequences" As Iran Releases Video Of Forces Seizing Oil Tanker; New Protests As Puerto Rican Governor Refuses To Resign As 2020 Hopefuls Join Protesters; John Boehner And Joe Crowley Talk About Current Politics, Trump, Racism; NASA Celebrates "Apollo 11" & 50th Anniversary of First Moon Walk; Dad Allowed U.S. Entry To Take Daughter Off Life Support. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 20, 2019 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:20] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Great to have you with us on this Saturday.

President Trump still fixated apparently on the fallout from his rally in North Carolina this week, in particular the disturbing moment when the crowd broke out in a loud and clear chant aimed at an elected member of the U.S. Congress.




CABRERA: That chant of "send her back," referring to Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, one of four House Democrats whom the president has made a point of singling out recently as those who should go back where they came from.

The president first suggested that he barely heard the chants and that he quickly moved on. Now neither of those is true.

Then he told reporters he was not happy with the chants and he disagreed with the crowd.

And then, today, he takes another direction, tweeting this: "As you can see, I did nothing to lead people on, nor was I particularly happy with their chant. Just a very big and patriotic crowd. They love the USA."

Our White House Correspondent, Boris Sanchez, is in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, not far from where the president is spending the weekend. Boris, the president's new opinion of people chanting for a U.S.

congresswoman's removal from the U.S. made up what he calls a patriotic crowd. Any explanation today from the White House for his back and forth on this?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Ana. White House officials are essentially letting this speak for itself.

You're right. The president has been spinning this in a number of different directions not just suggesting that he tried to intervene and speak quickly when the crowd started chanting but also suggesting in that tweet he wasn't particularly happy with the chant, even though the supporters on Wednesday night in North Carolina were echoing what the president himself tweeted out about a week ago.

And even in that tweet that the president sent out, where he says he is not particularly happy about this, that is actually a retweet of someone who is praising these chants, suggesting that "send her back" is the new "lock her up." That chant we heard so often going back to the 2016 election about Hillary Clinton that we still even hear at Trump rallies now.

The president also contradictory on whether this works for him politically. The president was asked a few days ago if he believed that he was winning this political fight, and he said, yes.

Last night, before departing for New Jersey -- he is staying at Bedminster this weekend -- the president was asked about this again. He says he doesn't really know whether he is winning or not but he says it has to be done because of the way these four congresswomen speak about the United States. The president trying to paint them yet again as extremists.

This is all about 2020. The president wants to raise the profile of the four very progressive Democrats. He wants to paint them as extreme and, thereby, paint the Democratic Party as extreme and potentially unelectable to many of his supporters -- Ana?

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez, thank you.

Let's dig into this with two of our CNN Political Commentators, Karen Finney, who was a spokesperson for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, and Tara Setmayer, a former communications director for the GOP.

And, ladies, as the president doubled down again on his antipathy for the Squad, we're getting new sound from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Once you start telling American citizens to, quote, "go back to your own countries," this tells you this president's policies are not about immigration. It's about ethnicity and racism.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: We know that he has been thinking this the entire time. But he's been keeping it in here. And this week, it went out here. When he started telling American citizens. Where are we going to go? We're going to stay right here. That's where we're going to go. We're not going anywhere.




CABRERA: Karen, she mentions ethnicity and racism. But I want to throw in something else. Sexism? "Lock her up?" "Send her back?" What's your read on this?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, yes. I think the fact that these are four women, not just women of color, particularly gets under the president's skin in the same way that Nancy Pelosi does.

Look, there have been seven studies from 2016 that showed that fear of change was the big part of what was driving people to Trump. He preyed on that. That's why he talked about building a wall. We know he used racial, bigotry, and race baiting, and sexism. He preyed on that as well in terms of the changing roles of women. That is part of the fear.

[15:05:03] With these women, these four women represent a changed America. We are a majority/minority country. And so, in 2016, he said to people, your problems are because of those people. And it's very clear that is what 2020 is going to be about.

But what he forgets is that these women also represent an important part of this country. We are here. We're not going back. We're from here. We love this country.

I think in 2020, it is going to be a lot of people I think in the middle who may have thought, let's give Trump a try, who don't like this kind of talk. They're not comfortable with it. Frankly, they probably prefer that the president was focusing on, you know, infrastructure or his other parts of his job instead of attacking these four women.

CABRERA: He's trying to say this was about patriotism and love of country and that's why he is going after these women, Tara. But these are some of the things the president himself has said about America. Listen.


TRUMP: How stupid is our country?

They're so far behind the time. By the way, the world is laughing at us because they can't believe these policies. How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the



CABRERA: Tara, how can he criticize, but anyone else who does, hates this country?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because he's a walking example of hypocrisy, including the way that the GOP and his enablers seem to excuse away. Whenever he does something that he accuses other people of doing, then somehow it's OK. I call it the Peewee Herman defense. I know you are but what am I? He's been doing this from day one.

We could have spent five minutes showing clips of the president disparaging this country, disparaging heroes in this country, whether John McCain, who was a war hero, saying that he prefers people who weren't captured, or going after Gold Star families, or making comments he's made about American carnage.

I listened to the inauguration, like everyone else, horrified by the vision he was painting of this country.

Donald Trump has some nerve trying to define what constitutes patriotism. He is saying these people, oh, just love their country. Did he feel the same way about the people with torches saying "Jews will not replace us" in Charlottesville?

His response to this is a half a step away from his disastrous response to Charlottesville. It is very revealing about where he stands concerning what he constitutes as patriotism. It's very dangerous in this country.

The "love it or leave it" mantra is something the KKK used to use. It's something that was very prevalent during segregation and Jim Crow when integration was trying to happen in this country. This is a very ugly past involved with this. What he's doing for political expediency is dangerous in my opinion.

But on the other hand, it may actually help him in the places he needs electorally. I think that's more concerning to me about where we are as a country.

CABRERA: You mentioned "love it or leave it." There's another tweet this morning that talks about just that. The president quoting a woman named Katie Hopkins in this tweet. Hopkins has proposed a campaign slogan for him: " Don't love it, leave it."

Let me fill everybody in on who Katie Hopkins is. She's a right-wing British commentator. She has said the synagogue's rabbi was to blame for the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh because of what she called his support for mass migration. She has called for a final solution for Muslims in the U.K.

Karen, how can he expect to be taken seriously on claims of defending anti-Semitism, against anti-Semitism if he is quoting this kind of a person who has rhetoric like this?

FINNEY: Because this is the gas-lighting we have seen from Donald Trump time and time again. He whipped up and participated in the uttering of President Barack Obama, and then when he talked about his education and then said, well, I wasn't the first one who did it. Other people did it. Right?

This is exactly the pattern we've seen time and time again. We saw him do it with Charlottesville. We saw him do it this week when we know he is the one who started this conversation with his tweets last Sunday. This is what he does.

Again, we should remember that this is a history that goes back to the '70s when he was in real estate with his father and they were actually sued for discrimination on the basis of race.

Trump believes he kind of puts this out to parts of the base. I think he very much knew exactly what he was doing at that rally the other night. I think he enjoys seeing people get so whipped up.

But then, he'll come back and say -- and you've seen, you know, his daughter-in-law and the whole White House apparatus trying to walk it back and say that what we know we all saw --


SETMAYER: Not really.


FINNEY: Well, they have. They tried to.


FINNEY: They tried to say, oh --


SETMAYER: -- then they turn around in the same breath and say --

FINNEY: That's right.

SETMAYER: -- what's wrong with you if you don't love America? They try to disguise it under patriotism --


SETMAYER: -- which it absolutely is not.


[15:10:05] SETMAYER: Donald Trump, anyone who worked with Donald Trump throughout his career, except for the sycophants now, will admit that Donald Trump was a racial bigot. It was well known.

One of his casino executives came out in the book and talked about how Donald Trump would talk about blacks being lazy and all kinds of other racial stereotypes.

It is very obvious where this man is. I called him the Archie Bunker in chief initially. But it has gotten so much more nefarious. It's nothing to laugh at.

And the fact he is going after people this way and ginning up this kind of racial resentment isn't something we've seen in this country from a president in a very, very long time.

CABRERA: OK, Tara Setmayer, Karen Finney, thank you, ladies.

FINNEY: Thank you.

SETMAYER: Thank you.

CABRERA: Tens of millions of Americans are facing a potentially life- threatening heat wave right now. From the Great Plains to the East Coast, nearly half the continental U.S. is getting socked with temperatures above 95 degrees this weekend.

The mercury really doesn't tell the whole sweltering story. There's also the heat index, making it feel like a boiling 110 degrees or hotter in some places. It's so hot in Oklahoma right now even a highway couldn't hold up to it.

CNN Meteorologist, Allison Chinchar joins us now.

Allison, who faces the most danger as the heatwave sweeps across much of the country?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A great question because it is actually a very large area under this threat. In fact, take a look. These are the excessive heat warnings, watches, and heat advisories. And they stretch from New Mexico to Maine. This is a very wide swath of people dealing with extreme temperatures.

This is a look at the current temperature, plus the humidity. We often call this the feels-like temperature, the heat index. Take a look. Washington, D.C., Reagan Airport right now, 110. That is what it feels like right now. New York feels like 101. They just officially, JFK Airport broke a daily record high for today. It feels like 104 in Boston. Same thing in Detroit. Chicago feeling like it's 105.

It is the combination of the temperature and the humidity that goes together, Ana, that is making this so difficult for people. And why we need to pay very close attention to the elderly, children. Make sure you don't leave pets in the cars. All those things you hear so often in the summertime.

CABRERA: Absolutely. Make sure everyone stays safe. We know some places are seeing power outages already, including Michigan. We'll stay on top of this.

Allison Chinchar, thank you. Overseas now, Iran has released new footage of the moment its forces

took over a British oil tanker. Now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is weighing in.

And --


NEIL ARMSTRONG, FORMER ASTRONAUT: One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.


CABRERA: Man first walked on the moon 50 years ago today. Hear from the former astronaut, trainer, who helped prepare Armstrong and Aldrin for their historic first steps on the lunar surface.


[15:16:32] CABRERA: Tensions are escalating after a brazen move on the part of Iran. Today, Iran posting this video showing the exact moment members of the Iranian Navy seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. The video also shows masked men onboard a helicopter and then shows them descending from the helicopter onto the deck of the British tanker, "Steno Impero."

Britain warns there will be, quote, "serious consequences" for the capture of the British-flagged tanker in the critical Middle East oil shipping zone.

Joining us now to discuss, former Pentagon and State Department spokesman, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, and senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, from Abu Dhabi.

Matthew, by posting that video of the taking of the tanker, it seems brazen. What does Iran have to gain from this?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a couple of things. First, by posting the video, they are using the same methods the British used to seize an Iranian oil tanker earlier this month off the coast of Gibraltar. This is clearly meant as an act of retribution for that seizure, which the British say was because they suspected the tanker of violating E.U. sanctions, European Union sanctions by shipping oil to Syria.

The Iranians have, for many weeks now, been vowing retribution. And they seem to have taken that step.

What they gained from it is a very potent negotiating chip. They can now essentially say to the British, who say they want to resolve this diplomatically, look, you give us back our tanker, we'll give you back ours. As simple as that, Ana.

CABRERA: We just heard from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is in Ecuador. Let's listen.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Today, we have seen no indications that the Iranians are prepared to fundamentally change the direction of their nation, to do the things we've asked them to do on their nuclear program, missile program, their malign behavior around the world.

You can just watch their actions. These are actions that threaten.

We saw the statements of the Foreign Minister Hunt. I spoke to him yesterday.

We saw their actions. These were not the actions of a country that looks like it's headed in the right direction.

But we hope, as President Trump has said, that they will sit down and discuss these items with us.


CABRERA: Admiral, what is your reaction to Pompeo's statement?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Couple of things there. Tactically speaking, he's right. Iran's malign activity continues. They can obviously lay mines and seizing ship. Clearly, they are on a trajectory of increasing the pressure from their own perspective.

A couple of things, Ana. He said Iran hasn't done what we've asked them to do. We haven't asked anything. We've been demanding. Pompeo delivered 12 demands after the United States pulled out of the Iran deal.

That's the other thing we need to keep in mind here. While, I'm no apologist for Iran and what they're doing in the region, a large part of the tension we're seeing is because the Trump administration pulled out of the deal, levied more sanctions, and declared the IRGC as a terrorist group. We bear some responsibility for increasing the tensions in the Gulf region.

CABRERA: Matthew, with all the recent incidents in the region, help us understand how tense it is.

CHANCE: I think when you consider the backdrop, the fact that, you know, Iran is accused by the United States of carrying out limpet mine attacks against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf region. The two countries have downed each other's drones. And the U.S. has been deploying additional forces to the region as well.

[15:20:01] When you set this latest incident of the seizure by Iran of this British-flagged oil tanker, it gives it a whole different perspective. It is not just a bilateral dispute between Britain and Iran. It could easily be the spark that sort of ignites this tinder box that is the Persian Gulf region at the moment.

The irony is that Britain has been one of those countries that signed the Iran nuclear deal, that has been opposed to the United States unilaterally pulling out of it, and has been trying to find a way, along with other countries, to keep the deal alive.

That will, on the part of Britain to do that, is undoubtedly going to be severely undermined by the fact that this British-flagged vessel has been seized by Iranian forces in this way.

CABRERA: Admiral, you've been involved in past negotiations with Iran. What should the U.S. and allies in the region be doing to de- escalate the situation?

KIRBY: Right now, from a military perspective, I like the idea they put forward called Sentinel, which is sort of a maritime security initiative, which would involve other nations not just American military forces to increase our visibility on what's going on in and around the strait.

You would have surveillance and reconnaissance platforms in the air, maybe some more maritime escorting of convoys or at least monitoring of the shipping traffic.

I think those are good ideas. And I think there are ideas, hopefully, that other countries will be able to join the United States in doing because, right now, we don't have a lot of credibility on the world stage when it comes to dealing with Iran.

The threat that they're posing, the IRGC to the free flow of oil, should energize other nations to want to get onboard. That is a good thing.

Diplomatically speaking, Ana, I don't see any good answers. As Matthew laid out, there's not a lot of incentive on either side to come to the table.

The other thing Pompeo said in the clip was, hey, we want to see them sit at the table and talk to us. The foreign minister of Iran volunteered to do that the other way and the Trump administration poo- pooed it and said there's no way they could take him seriously. I just don't see a diplomatic easy way out of this.

CABRERA: Rear Admiral John Kirby and Matthew Chance, we'll be watching to see hopefully no more escalations this weekend. We appreciate your time, guys.

KIRBY: Thank you.

CABRERA: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are the latest lawmakers to call on Puerto Rico's governor to resign over a corruption scandal and hateful, leaked comments. Live pictures of protesters gathered outside the governor's mansion in Puerto Rico. CNN is on the scene.

And a story you will never forget. A father trying for years to join his daughter in the U.S. Sadly, their reunion came too late with the 13-year-old on her death bed after a suicide attempt.


[15:26:28] CABRERA: Protesters are taking to the streets of Puerto Rico this hour and 2020 presidential hopefuls are sounding off about the scandal involving Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello.

An investigative journalism group exposed nearly a thousand text messages in which Rossello and other men in his government slander other politicians, journalists, and celebrities using homophobic and misogynistic language.

Joe Biden calls Rossello's comments shameful but stops short of demanding his resignation.

Another 2020 candidate, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, actually flew to Puerto Rico last night to join protesters calling for the governor's ouster.

She joins other lawmakers and presidential hopefuls insisting Puerto Rico's governor must step down. They include Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, and Marianne Williamson, along with New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida.

Let's get right out to CNN's Senior International Correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, in Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan.

I know it is hot. And it is also very tense there on the ground. You just spoke with Congresswoman Gabbard. What did she tell you?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, quite simply, an increasing number of Democratic candidates agreeing with the crowd around me here that Governor Ricardo Rossello should resign immediately.

I should say there's a practical problem with that in the secession process even if the governor was minded to immediately do that. These people are serious about it.

Also, given the nature of the politicization of this, of course, Democratic candidates trying to almost outdo each other with their presence here and calling for the resignation. It may become a part of politics.

Here's a sample.


REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI): I'm here to stand with the people of Puerto Rico and to lift up their voices. Because what they're doing here in calling out a corrupt government that's more interested in serving the rich and powerful rather than serving the people, I'm doing what I can to lift this up to the national conversation. And calling on leaders in the United States of America to stand with the people of Puerto Rico against corruption and for the people.

You're right. This is not about partisan politics. We are seeing bipartisan calls to action from people here in Puerto Rico against the corruption across their government. That's the same kind of call to action we need to support here and that we need to support in the United States government as well.


CABRERA: He's not showing any signs of leaving, Governor Ricardo Rossello.

We have a much larger, much noisier protest that may bring parts of San Juan, the capital, to a standstill on Monday. Protesters hoping for a million people.

But Governor Rossello simply saying he thinks he can regain their confidence. And in the last hours or so, rejecting yet further allegations of corruption against him.

Remarkable really, the distance he seems to have between the people here calling for him to leave -- Ana?

CABRERA: These protests have been going on for days now.

Nick Paton Walsh, thank you, in the middle of all of this.

He rarely speaks publicly since leaving office, but now John Boehner, the former speaker of the House, is weighing in on the current state of the Republican Party and the president's tweets. My interview with the former House speaker coming up.

But first --



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CABRERA: President Trump is again defending how he handled the rally in North Carolina where part of the crowd chanted, "send her back," after the president lashed out at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

In new tweets today, the president insisted he did nothing to lead people on and he called the crowd big and patriotic.

He's been inconsistent at best. A couple days ago, he told reporters he wasn't happy with the chant and that he felt badly about it.

[15:35:06] It has been almost a week since President Trump sparked the controversy telling four congresswomen of color that they should, quote, "go back and fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came."

Three were born in the U.S. The fourth is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

I spoke with former Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, and Joe Crowley, the 10-term Democrat who was ousted by one of those congresswomen, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I asked if they thought the president's tweets and the "send her back" chants are racist. Listen.


JOHN BOEHNER (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I just don't think there's room in American society for these kinds of chants, this kind of conversation. It certainly doesn't belong in our politics. But, unfortunately, it's kind of reflective of how divided America has become.

And, you know, I grew up being taught that it doesn't cost anything to be nice. And that you can disagree without being disagreeable. Probably two of the most important lessons I learned growing up that helped me in my political career.

CABRERA: I can respect you saying that. I think a lot of people believe in that. I'm a parent and I teach my children to treat others the way they want to be treated --


CABRERA: -- as sort of just the bottom line, right?

But, again, were the president's tweets racist?

BOEHNER: You know, I -- I don't watch the news every day. I'm not in the political arena every day. And so, you know, I'll people have that fight and that discussion.

CABRERA: I can -- I mean I can read the tweets to you. His original tweets say, he writes, "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came, then come back and show us how."

They're from America.


CABRERA: They're all American citizens. Three of them were born here.

BOEHNER: Right. Right.

CABRERA: One of them was born in Somalia as a refugee, as a naturalized American citizen.


CABRERA: How is this not racist?

BOEHNER: A little different style than I have, let's put it that way.

CABRERA: Were they racist?

REP. JOE CROWLEY (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I think at some -- from my perspective, as the speaker said, it really has no place in our politics today. This -- this -- this should be the -- the rhetoric that we're hearing today on all sides, quite frankly, is -

CABRERA: Do you feel comfortable being a Republican and being attached to where the Republican Party is right now?

BOEHNER: I grew up as a Democrat, but I became a Republican a long time ago. I feel like --


CROWLEY: We're still working on getting him back.


BOEHNER: I am a Republican.

CABRERA: Well, I remember -- I remember, you know, before 2016, when Trump was the nominee, you said, quote, you -- that you thought he was barely a Republican, but that you were going to vote for him anyway. Do you feel -- is that how you still feel going into 2020?

BOEHNER: Well, listen, I made it pretty clear that I thought his choices for the Supreme Court would be more in line with my thinking than -- than his opponent. I believe that is correct and that's why I voted for him.

CABRERA: Congressman, I want to ask you also, because you famously lost your seat in Congress to Representative Ocasio-Cortez, who is also, you know, the target of these most recent attacks.

Do you believe she and other members of this Squad, which they call themselves, have outsized influences in the caucus and do you think the president's framing of them as the face of the party would hurt Democrats?

CROWLEY: I think that what's getting lost in all of this is that we're focusing on the rhetoric and divisive rhetoric on all sides, and not focusing on the issues that matter to the American people, like the issue of pension reform, that if it is not addressed, will be a catastrophe for our country. Not just for those millions of folks whose pensions will be reduced, but for our country's economy moving forward.

The more we dither and dather and not get anything accomplished, the more we'll regret that, and we'll rue the day, in years to come.

CABRERA: Congressman Crowley, have you decided which Democratic candidate you will support for 2020?

CROWLEY: No, I haven't yet. And I'm doing a good deal of television and making observations on behalf of our party. I think we have a great number of candidates up for this office. Some would suggest maybe have too many candidates. But we have a lot. And all good people with great ideas. And I'm looking forward to a robust discussion as we move forward in this president's primary.

I can say that, in my retirement from Congress, I have the opportunity to work with the likes of John Boehner, someone who I admired and -- and continue to and have a friendship with, and be able to work on issues that we both care about in a bipartisan way, maybe set a stage, for example, for something as well for our former colleagues.

BOEHNER: And even when we were in Congress, and before I was speaker, Joe and I worked together. We were friends. We never said an ill word about each other. This is not rocket science.

CABRERA: So, on that note, let me ask you about the Democratic candidates. What do you think of -- of Vice President Joe Biden? I know you worked a lot with him in Washington.

BOEHNER: I love Joe. I love Joe. He's a great guy. I'm not sure he should be running for president, but, you know --


CABRERA: Would you support him if he were the Democratic nominee over President Trump?

BOEHNER: Well, there's a lot of if's there. And I just remember this old saying, if --


CABRERA: So you wouldn't rule it out?

[15:39:58] BOEHNER: -- if ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. I don't know.



CABRERA: It has been 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing and we're going to look back on that historic feat and look ahead to NASA's new mission to land the first woman on the moon.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drifting to the right a little.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Contact light. OK. Engine stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Eagle has landed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rocket tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to --


WALTER KRONKITE, FORMER NEWS ANCHOR: Armstrong is on the moon. Neil Armstrong. A 38-year-old American standing on the surface of the moon on this July 20th, 1969.

ARMSTRONG: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.


[15:45:00] CABRERA: Wow. That was 50 years ago today. In fact, the exact moment Neil Armstrong stepped on to the moon's surface, plus 50 years, it's later tonight, at 10:56 p.m. Eastern time, when he took that one giant leap for mankind.

Right now, NASA officials and everyone around in 1969 are remembering the crew of Apollo 11 and their tremendous, historic achievement.

Our Space Correspondent, Rachel Crane, is in Houston at the Johnson Space Center.

Rachel, how is the NASA community celebrating a half century since man set foot on the moon?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION & SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, I think it is important to remember it's not just the NASA community that is celebrating this week. It's the whole world. Because, of course, this wasn't just an American victory. This was a victory for all of humanity.

Here at Johnson Space Center, there's a crazy line outside of people waiting to get a glimpse of this incredible Saturn 5 rocket behind me. Now, this, of course, is the rocket, the type of rocket that flew all of the Apollo missions and brought Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to the moon 50 years ago today. This is still the most powerful rocket ever made. It's on its side

right now. But when standing upright, it's as tall as a 36-story building. When fueled up, it weighed more than six million pounds, had seven million pounds of thrust. So truly an incredible engineering feat just in the creation of the rocket, itself.

But, of course, this isn't the only relic here of the Apollo mission here at Johnson Space Center. People are coming also to get a glimpse of Apollo Mission Control. That just recently went under a six-year restoration project.

We have the great fortune of speaking with Scott Milligan (ph), who was in the room when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon 50 years ago today. He spoke about how it was a time capsule being in that room. Take a listen to what he had to say.


SCOTT MILLIGAN (ph), FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT TRAINER: Sitting in this seat again after 50 years, when we were stepping out on the moon, it is really an emotional thing. It's been quite emotional for me this year especially. And I wasn't so emotional about things back when it happened. And I really didn't realize we were making a big historical event. I was doing my job as an engineer, doing my task that had to be done.


CRANE: Now, Ana, all of the veterans of the Apollo program who are here at Johnson Space Center are gathering in that Mission Control at 17 minutes past the hour to honor what they were able to accomplish in that Mission Control and really what humanity was able to accomplish with the moon landing.

Back to you.

CABRERA: So fun to remember those special moments.

Rachel Crane, great stuff. Thank you.

Be sure to check out the CNN film "APOLLO 11." It airs tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

"CNN Heroes" do extraordinary work to help others but those people are rarely in the public eye.

Last fall, U.S. Army combat veteran, Jason Kander, was a rising star in the Democratic Party, running for mayor of Kansas City, when he dropped out of the race to seek help for post-traumatic stress.

He spoke to CNN about his journey to get help from a nonprofit run by CNN Hero" Chris Stout.


JASON KANDER, (D), FORMER ARMY COMBAT VETERAN SUFFERING FROM PTSD & FORMER MAYORAL CANDIDATE: My first message to people is, if you think something might be wrong, something is wrong and you should get help.

I went to the V.A. and they gave me a lot of paperwork. I looked at it and said, I'm not really sure I know how to navigate this process.


KANDER: Yes. And I'm in a decent spot to figure that sort of thing out.

I went to an organization in my town of Kansas City called Veterans Community Project. They helped me navigate the process.

They serve all vets. Anybody who falls through the cracks they have a village of tiny houses. They have effectively eradicated veterans' homelessness in Kansas City.

And I am excited to lead the national expansion of the organization. It's a new mission.



[15:52:34] CABRERA: The broken immigration system is having a life- and-death impact on families. CNN spoke to one father who was preparing to bury his 13-year-old daughter. She attempted suicide and later died of her injuries after her father was denied asylum.

Ed Lavandera has their heartbreaking journey.


MANUEL GAMEZ, TEEN'S FATHER (through translator): This is the hardest thing for a man. To know that the most important thing in his life is gone.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Manuel Gamez is living a nightmare, watching his life unravel. He's on his last walk to say goodbye to his 13-year-old daughter, who's been on life support since she attempted to take her own life in early July.

And the pain of knowing his attempts to cross the border failed to make it in time, is too much to bear.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Manuel says he was in a detention facility in Texas when he got the news that his daughter had tried to commit suicide by hanging herself.

GAMEZ (through translator): I promised her that we would be together. I think she lost faith.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Gamez was given an ankle monitor and a two- week humanitarian parole so he could see his daughter one last time.

(on camera): Why do you think your daughter did this?


LAVANDERA: He says she lost hope that they were going to be reunited.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): This family story captures the often- excruciating reality of desperate families separated by a border.

In 2014, Manuel Gamez was an undocumented immigrant who had spent seven years living on Long Island, New York, working as a mechanic. His father was taking care of his daughter in Honduras.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Manuel says that his father was killed by M.S.- 13 gang members, in 2014, for not paying extortion bribes. And that after that, he decided to send his daughter here, to the United States, to live with family members in New York. And that she was granted asylum.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Gamez thought if his daughter had been granted asylum, he would as well. But he was denied.

After that, he crossed the border illegally twice, hoping to reunite with his daughter who was now thriving, learning English and dreaming of a career in medicine while living with his sisters.

But Heydi would often break down in tears because she missed her father.

Jessica and Zoila Gamez Garcia are Heydi's aunts. Zoila was the one who discovered her after she attempted to take her own life.

Earlier that night, Heydi was distraught over learning her father was once again caught by Border Patrol and was being held in an immigration detention center.

[15:55:08] ZOILA GAMEZ GARCIA (through translator): She often cried when we would tell her that her father couldn't come. She would cry and lock herself in her room. And when she didn't feel like talking, she would tell me, "I don't want to talk." I would say, "That's OK," and I would give her space.

JESSICA GAMEZ GARCIA (through translator): I feel I didn't know how to take good care of her. I feel like I failed her. I don't know what it was. I don't know why. I don't know why I didn't know how to protect her.

LAVANDERA (on camera): (SPEAKING IN SPANISH) What are you going to tell your daughter, there at the end?


LAVANDERA: He says he's going to ask her to forgive him and that -- for failing her.


LAVANDERA: He says that it was never his intention to leave her alone.

(voice-over): Manuel Gamez was by his daughter's side when she was taken off life support. As he stood by her the day before, he caressed his daughter's hands and face and whispered, "We love you. Don't leave us."

And now, Manuel Gamez prepares to be deported.

(on camera): Manuel Gamez must turn himself in to immigration authorities again by July 27th, a little more than a week away. His lawyer tells us they will try to file some sort of legal motions that would grant him a reprieve. But because he's entered the country twice illegally, that becomes a much more difficult fight.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, New York.