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Trump Ramps up Attacks on Congresswomen; Protests in Puerto Rico; Michigan Beauty Queen Stripped of Title; New Court Documents on Opioid Crisis. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 22, 2019 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know what that number should be, 20 to 40 maybe who start pushing back. I think that can help change behavior. And then the leadership -- the elected Republican leadership is going to have to make a choice, do they support their members or do they support the president? It's the members who vote for the leaders, not the president.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Wes, it's so interesting what Charlie brings up because we now know from "The Washington Post" that did kind of an anatomy of what happened. After that Wednesday night rally in North Carolina where the crowd was chanting "send her back" it turns out we know from -- "The Washington Post" says that they spoke to 26 advisers, aides and lawmakers that what happened was there was this sort of all hands on deck call for everybody to circle the wagons and try to make sure that Republicans didn't defect. And what they -- the permission that the White House gave Republicans was, you can criticize the president, you can speak out if you want, but you can't vote against him. And as Maysoon said, four of them decided to do so. But they feared at one point 50 might defect. And it's just interesting to see what the people around the president, how they have to swing into action mode when he says something like this.

WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Certainly, time and time again, you saw this after Charlottesville, we've seen this at various times when the president has kind of gone off the script as that piece notes. And I would -- I'd encourage everyone to go read it by my colleagues in "The Washington Post."

As that piece notes, he woke up before a golf trip and started tweeting. And no one was prepared for what he was going to bring to the conversation.

But I do think that, you know, as it relates to the Republican reaction to this and how they try to triangulate and handle the president, right, you have political questions and you have moral questions. As we're talking about here, these tweets, this conversation is something that does not only make uncomfortable but terrify and scare any number of Americans, people who are worried they might be targeted by, you know, by racist targeting, that they might be subject of hate crimes or hate speech, right? This sense that this might encourage other people to express these type of bigoted views, which we know are out there, right? We all have some level of prejudicial thinking. That's human, right? But the -- but the danger with these types of statements from the leader of the free world is that it empowers and it validates those types of feelings in other people who might now act on them or -- or harass someone in a grocery store or -- or on a street corner, right?

And -- and what Republicans have to think about, it's not just a political calculation, but a moral calculation, right? If the president of the United States does and says something that makes black and brown and Hispanic and immigrant Americans feel physically in fear, uncomfortable, angry, what is the moral obligation of an elected leader to stand up and say, this is wrong and this should not happen because here's the thing, as we know, the president was horrified of these defection. He is horrified of the criticism from the Republicans. And -- and so if the action itself is something that is harming the country, upsetting people, making people feel like they're in fear, what is their obligation to push back as hard as possible if only to make sure he doesn't keep doing things like this because he's afraid of the pushback.

GREGORY: But we are being -- we're in a political context all the time, especially in an election context.

LOWERY: Of course.

GREGORY: And there have been Democrats who have said it's a mistake, whether it's presidential candidates or members of Congress, to go along with what the president wants to do, which is to have this conversation. You have an opportunity, Democrats do, to -- to get him out of office through an election. Should the focus be on what Democrats can do and let his actions speak for himself rather than being drawn into a debate over how welcoming he is, how harmful he is, how he makes people feel?

MAYSOON ZAYID, WRITER AND PRODUCER: I think that the Democrats are actually doing both well, and I think that I was really happy when I saw the four congresswomen not just fighting back against the hate, but also spelling out what they were working on, what they're doing. And I think that, unfortunately, if Trump is deciding to make hate and racism an election issue, then the Democrats have no choice but to go against it and make fighting hate, not being the party of racism, not being the party where four people are so terrified that every -- only four people voted against racism. We are talking about American citizens who are literally in fear. And what I'm hearing is, poor GOP lawmakers, they are so scared that the big mighty leader might smack their hands down.

So Democrats do need to make hate an issue. It is a campaign issue, and we need to know that someone in this country is willing to stand up against their leader and protect every American citizen regardless of race, religion, or gender.

GREGORY: All right.

CAMEROTA: Maysoon, Wesley, Charlie, thank you all very much for this really important conversation. We appreciate it. Thanks for being here.

DENT: Thanks.

GREGORY: Thank you.

[08:34:57] Meantime, protesters are gathering this morning in Puerto Rico, where a massive protest is set to begin in just a matter of minutes. We're going to take you there live in the streets of San Juan coming up next.


CAMEROTA: One of the largest protests ever in Puerto Rico is set to begin in just minutes, calling for the governor to resign. Ricardo Rossello says he will not step down.

So joining us now are CNN's Leyla Santiago and Nick Paton Walsh. Both of them are live in San Juan.

So, Nick, let's start with you. What's the scene happening behind you?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, underway early here definitely, Alisyn. The crowds behind me have been in place for about an hour now. And here at the stadium, they're beginning to filter out towards the main expressway.

Now, the key focus is blockading that key route into San Juan, Las Americaus (ph). They will then, we think, go around at a kind of loop, frankly, not going towards the old town of San Juan near the governor's mansion, which has been a focus of much of the tension and, in fact, some violence on Wednesday night. Large numbers here and a sense, I think, that they heard what Governor Rossello thinks last night when he said he wasn't going anywhere. Yes, he wasn't going to fight an election next year that he'd almost certainly lose, but some protestors we were talking to just saying maybe the strength of numbers on the streets today will be what changes his mind.

[08:40:11] But I have to tell you, speaking to the mayor of San Juan (ph) yesterday, one of his opponents, she described a man who had grown up with his father being the governor in the governor's mansion and retained perhaps an isolated view of the world outside. He's not listening to democratic candidates tell him to resign. His own press secretary stepping down because she didn't want to be associated, she said, with corruption allegations in front of her. Some -- these haven't changed his mind.

His defense is, well, listen, I was elected and those who support him say let's wait for an election to kick him out. And (INAUDIBLE) say, it's hard to know what comes if he does suddenly step down because the anger here is against the political system in general rather than necessarily one man. He's the latest manifestation of that because of the chat messages that were leaked.

But potentially a tense day ahead here. There are organizers hoping the sheer force of numbers will get the message across.


CAMEROTA: And it does look like they certainly have a lot of numbers behind you there.

Nick, thank you for the update.

So, Leyla, tell us what you're expecting where you are.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually right now we're seeing hundreds of thousands of people come in, and this is such a historic moment for the island. A lot of people wearing the flag on their shirt, holding their flags in hand. I can hear in the distance the song "Breciosa" (ph), which talks about the love of Puerto Rico and liberty here on this island. So you certainly here and feel patriotism today.

I've spoken to people who say this is a new day for the island of Puerto Rico. You can see people cheering over here.


Let me go ahead and ask them.


I'm asking them why they're here today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm here today because I want the governor, our f-governor (ph), to leave the presidents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out. Get out.


SANTIAGO: But yesterday he said that he was not going to run in 2020. Is that not enough?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. We all imagine that. We all want it. And we all know that he was going to say that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to leave. You have to leave, governor. You have to leave.

SANTIAGO: He's saying, "you have to leave, governor, you have to leave, governor."

Thank you so much.

That's -- I think that's something that I've heard echoed over and over. Not only is that yesterday was not enough, but that they have had enough.

Remember, this comes after leaked chats that show quite a few exchanges that really insulted people here. But more than those chats, this, for them, is about getting rid of corruption on this island.

CAMEROTA: Well, we know you'll both be covering it for us, whatever happens, at 9:00 a.m. this morning.

Leyla Santiago, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much.


GREGORY: Alisyn, legendary Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau, who spent more than three decades prosecuting mobsters, crooked politicians, white collar criminals and drug dealers has died. Morgenthau was a World War II Navy hero. He served as U.S. attorney in the 1960s before a 34-year run as district attorney. He even inspired a character on "Law and Order." A close friend of the Kennedy's, Morgenthau was at Robert F. Kennedy's side when he got the call that JFK had been shot in Dallas. Morgenthau was 99 years old. He died just 10 days shy of his 100th birthday. Pretty amazing.

CAMEROTA: All right, so John Berman is off today, but we still have Tom Brady news. I hope you can carry the mantel here.

GREGORY: I'm going to try.

CAMEROTA: Yes, all right.

GREGORY: And I might just do it.

CAMEROTA: OK, so, listen to this. The New England Patriot quarterback is taking some heat on social media. John Berman would not like that.


CAMEROTA: For this Instagram clip. OK, watch.

All right. Some say it was irresponsible for him to jump off a cliff and basically drag his daughter along with him.


CAMEROTA: OK. She seemed, I think, David, a little reluctant to jump off, and he grabbed her and took her with him. The video was shot during a recent vacation in Costa Rica.

Now, the actor, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson said watching this clip gave him anxiety. Now -- now he does a lot of stunts, but this was too scary for him. Others say it's no big deal. Everyone's OK. What would John Berman say is what I want to know?

GREGORY: Well, no, but I'll say of my own --

CAMEROTA: What? What?

GREGORY: For myself.


GREGORY: I -- I -- no, I don't -- I don't agree that it was irresponsible. What I think happened here, and he -- and he writes in the -- in the post that -- that his daughter may not -- you know, may go to the Olympics for diving but not for synchronized diving. I think they just got the -- the timing wrong. I don't know that she was reluctant.

My own daughter, by the way, I would have been afraid to go --

CAMEROTA: And she would have dragged you.

GREGORY: But she would have gone -- gone back up and gone again.

But, no, I think we should stop the hate against Tom Brady. Stop it now.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, wow. John Berman has really gotten to you. Wow.

All right, so one day after being crowned Miss Michigan, she was stripped of her title. She says it was her conservative views that contributed to the decision. The judges say it was offensive comments. We'll talk to her, next.


[08:49:07] CAMEROTA: A Michigan beauty pageant winner and outspoken supporter of President Trump has her crown revoked. She claims it was over her political views. Kathy Zhu was abruptly stripped of her title of Miss Michigan last week after some past tweets came to the attention of pageant officials.

And Kathy Zhu joins us now.

Kathy, thanks for being here.

So -- so just to get the story straight, the pageant officials said that they found your social media content to be offensive, insensitive and inappropriate. Do you see why they felt that way?

KATHY ZHU, STRIPPED OF MISS MICHIGAN TITLE OVER TWEETS: Honestly, you shouldn't just take, you know, tweets out of context. I think it's super important to full -- the full content of the tweet and the full conversation. Everything I've posted was my statistics and opinions. And I think that, you know, we should be empowering women's voices and not just stripping them of their title only because of their opinions.

CAMEROTA: So let's look at some of your posts that I think that they had objections to.

[08:50:00] So here was one, this was from October 2017. I think it was in reference to some conversation about Black Lives Matter. You wrote, did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks. Fix problems within your own community first before blaming others.

So do you see how that could be seen as offensive?

ZHU: You know, this tweet was on -- actually in response to another person talking about how all blacks -- or all cops are bad people, that they kill innocent black people. And I think that you shouldn't just put a blanket statement over all cops. You know, again, read the full tweet and context to make sure -- to see the full story.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But, I mean, I guess your point of, did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks. What's your point?

ZHU: That's a statistic. And you can find it on the FBI's (ph) website. This is all backed up by statistics and facts. I think it's really, really awful how -- how the left thinks that statistics and facts are racist. So I don't think anything I said was remotely wrong. I stand by every tweet that I post.

CAMEROTA: And do you know who causes the majority of white deaths?

ZHU: Yes, this is -- you know, apparently this is white people cause white deaths. It's not even that's the issue. The issue is that people didn't know that I was responding to another person calling cops bad people.

CAMEROTA: Right. I guess my point is, why would you focus on blacks causing black deaths when the majority of white deaths are caused by white people? Why -- you know this is why people think that that has a ring of racism to it. You didn't mention the white statistic.

ZHU: Again, this is in response to another person's tweet talking about how cops kill black people. And this is -- you know, I can't just take a tweet and just, you know, turn it around saying, oh, white on white violence, too. Of course everyone has problems with their own communities and I completely understand that. But, you know, we have to empower women's voices honestly to show that, you know, we can have different political opinions and that not just statistics and facts are racist.

CAMEROTA: Well, first of all, the pageant isn't -- wasn't calling you racist. They were saying insensitive and offensive content. And, again, you're the person who focused in on that statistic. That's the statistic that you decided to highlight instead of police excessive force, showing those statistics. And so this is what got the attention of pageant officials.

ZHU: You know, that's actually false because if you read the text through the state director, she actually quoted the tweet that I said and called -- and said, is this racist? This is racist, right? I mean, you know, again, this is taken fully out of context and I think that, you know, if you actually think that statistics and facts are racist, I don't know what to tell you. I think, again, we should --

CAMEROTA: No, it's just which ones you highlight. I mean it's just which ones you highlight. Since, you know, you could have said the thing about white people.

But let's move on to your next -- your next tweet and that was about Hijab Awareness Day.

ZHU: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And so you wrote here, there's a try a hijab on booth at my college campus. So you're telling me that it's now just a fashion accessory and not a religious thing or are you just trying to get women used to being oppressed under Islam?

Again, you don't --

ZHU: Yes, you know --

CAMEROTA: What would you like to say about that? You don't see how that could be offensive?

ZHU: Not at all. They were -- you know, I went past the booth. I was late for class already. They were saying, do you want to put on a hijab. Putting a -- you know, over me. I said, no, I don't want to. I declined wearing this, you know, garment.

I think that, you know, it's really rude, I feel like, to Muslims, too, that, you know, to wear their sacred garment on someone who isn't a Muslim themselves. You know, I -- I don't -- I wouldn't want to put, you know, a Catholic rosary on someone if they aren't Catholic. So I think, you know --

CAMEROTA: Right, but that's not what you said. What you said -- it wasn't that you felt badly for them that you weren't Muslim, it's that you said, or are you just trying to get women used to be oppressed under Islam. That's the part.

ZHU: Yes, there are -- there are so many women in Muslim countries right now who are being stoned to death because they don't want to wear a hijab due to their husband's requirement to do so. And I think that we should be focused on that way more than the western things about Muslim because, you know, there are -- there are so many bad things happening in Muslim countries because of these, you know, women and -- and these women are being, you know, crucified for not wearing a hijab. And I think that's really, really awful.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kathy Zhu, thank you for coming on NEW DAY to make your case.

ZHU: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here.


GREGORY: Alisyn, new court filings are shedding light on the role drug companies have played in fueling the country's opioid epidemic.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins us here with more on this.

Jean, good morning.


In 20 years, drug manufacturers and distributors shipped hundreds of millions of suspicious opioid doses in two Ohio counties. That is according to a motion filed in U.S. district court in the northern district of Ohio. In a case with more than 400 defendants, including drug manufacturers and distributors, two Ohio counties filed the motion asking a judge to determine that defendants violated their obligations under federal law alleging some drug manufacturers and distributors knew their drugs were addictive but only cared about selling and distributing as many opioids as possible.

[08:54:57] In one January 27, 2009 e-mail cited in the filing, a sales representative for defendant Mallinckrodt Pharmaceutical, Victor Borelli, shipped 1,200 bottles of oxycodone to distributor KeySource Medical overnight. Borelli's contact at KeySource Medical, Steve Cochrane, wrote back to him, keep them coming. Flying out of here. It's like people are addicted to these things or something. Oh, wait, people are. Borelli, just like Doritos. Keep eating. We'll make more.

He is also alleged in the filing to have described his job as ship, ship, ship. Another e-mail from Borelli, if you are low, order more. If you are OK, order a little more. And joked that the client should destroy that e-mail. Is that really possible? Oh, well.

According to legal documents, their companies are others were required to design and operate systems to identify suspicious orders of opioids, to report those suspicious orders to the DEA, and to hold the shipments of those suspicious orders. According to plaintiffs, those companies made little effort to do any of this. And between 1996 and 2018 shipped hundreds of millions of opioid dosage units that should never have been shipped.

Defendants must file their response to this by July 31st. CNN has reached out to Victor Borelli, Steve Cochrane, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceutical and KeySource Medical for comment. We have not yet heard back.


CAMEROTA: Those e-mails are remarkable, Jean. Thank you very much for all of that reporting.

All right, so there are these huge protests that are beginning on the streets of San Juan right now. CNN "NEWSROOM" picks up after this quick break.