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CNN NEWSROOM

Two Missing Teens Now Considered Suspects In Three Murders In Canada; Afghanistan Demands Trump Clarify "Wipe Off The Map" Remarks; Study: Cuba "Sonic Attacks" Changed People's Brains; Robert Mueller Makes Last-Minute Request To Have His Deputy Sworn In For Tomorrow's Testimony. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 23, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


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[14:31:29] ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: There's growing concern in British Columbia that a serial killer may be targeting victims in remote areas of Canada. This is after an American woman and her Australian boyfriend were found shot to death. Their bodies discovered last week along a remote highway near Liard Hot Springs.

And a few days later, two teens, reported missing, were seen at a general store in Dease Lake, about six hours away. Their burning car was found the next day.

We also have this, a sketch of an unidentified man whose body was found near the scene of the teenagers' burning car.

And a few moments ago, new information coming in about those missing teens.

CNN's Paula Newton is following the latest for us out of Ottawa.

Police held a news conference. Things are changing a little bit for these teens.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Yes, incredible, Erica the turn of events. Police say those two teenagers -- again, Erica, they're teenagers, 18 and 19 -- now the lead suspects in the murder of that young couple and an, as yet, unidentified man found by the side of the road a few days later.

Police say these young men, Bryer and Kam, Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, are on the run in Saskatchewan, armed and dangerous. Police telling people not to approach, that they are, in fact, quite dangerous.

I want to give you some scale, there, Erica. You just saw a map in terms of how far apart those locations were, upwards of 300 miles. These two young men have been spotted about 1200 miles, about a 24- hour drive from that location in northern Saskatchewan. Police say they're clearly on the run. And they want to know more about what has transpired in the last few days.

I have to tell you, Erica, Bryer's father was speaking to the media just yesterday, tearful that police find his son along with his friend. And now quite a turn of events.

Police won't say what exactly has led them to suspect that these two are responsible for possibly three murders. But they clearly must have some forensic evidence at this point, even though they're unwilling to saw.

Heart breaking for the families yesterday. Police revealed some of the last moments, those last video moments of that young couple at a gas station.

Sheila, the mother of Chynna Deese, who has been killed, saying that she looked at that video, Erica, over and over and over again, clinging to her daughter's last moments where she seemed so happy and was talking about the embrace that this young couple took.

Erica, you have to imagine, I mean, why are these two young men suspects. What went on? Apparently, that couple killed by gunshot. Apparently, it was a gruesome scene where their bodies were found.

Police right now continuing a Canada-wide manhunt for these two men.

HILL: We know you'll continue to keep us updated. Talk about a turn of events.

Paula Newton, with the latest for us. Paula, thank you.

[14:34:26] Afghanistan demanding clarification after President Trump announced taking out the country, quote, "wiped off the face of the earth." The very real danger of his off-the-cuff comments.

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HILL: Afghanistan wants answers from President Trump after he said this at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we wanted fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. It would be gone. It would be over in -- literally in 10 days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: A spokesman for Afghanistan's president issuing this statement: "The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fight."

It's not the first time President Trump has threatened to obliterate an entire nation in a seemingly offhand remark.

CNN Politics Reporter and Editor-at-Large, Chris Cillizza, joining us more with that history -- Chris?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes, Erica, there's a lot of that history, even though Donald Trump has only been president for a couple of years.

Let's start with North Korea. You'll remember this. If not, we'll refresh your memory. This is what he had to say about North Korea and Kim Jong-un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[14:40:11] TRUMP: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CILLIZZA: And, as always, Erica, we see his public pronouncements backed up by his Twitter announcements. These are a few of those.

Remember this, "Military positions now are locked and loaded," to North Korea in August of 2017.

Then this one: "Kim Jong-un, obviously a madman, will be tested like never before."

OK, we seem like we're building up.

Then this famous/infamous one, January 2, 2018: "Kim Jong-un just stated has a nuclear button. Will someone from his depleted and food- starved regime please inform him that I have a nuclear button but it's much bigger and more powerful than his, and my button works."

Stunningly, that led to a summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. So that's part one of this rhetoric.

It wasn't just North Korea. It was also Iran.

Here's two times Donald Trump talked about Iran in very fiery terms. Play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have the greatest people in the world. We have the greatest equipment in the world. We have greatest ships, the most- deadly ships. We don't have to use them. But they're the most-deadly ships ever conceived. And we're not -- we hope, for their sake, they don't do anything foolish. If they do, they will pay a price like nobody's ever paid a price.

I'm not looking for war. And if there is, it will be obliteration like you've never seen before. But I'm not looking to do that. But they can't have nuclear weapons. You want to talk good. Otherwise, you will have a bad economy --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: -- for the next three years. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CILLIZZA: Again, Erica, the public pronouncements backed up by Twitter. This one last month, June 2019. Talk about Iran: "Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great overwhelming force. And here, "Overwhelming will mean obliteration."

And he took a shot at former Secretary of State John Kerry, and former President Barack Obama.

There's more. Let's go to the next tweet. "To Iranian President Rouhani, never ever threaten the United States again, or you will suffer consequences, the likes of which few in history have ever suffered before. We are not a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious!"

Again, Erica, back to you, but a reminder. In North Korea, the North Korea situation, he did wind up getting space to face with Kim Jong- un. You can debate whether that was smart diplomatically or not. Iranian situation similar. Afghanistan, who knows where that one is ending.

Erica, back to you.

HILL: We'll watch.

Chris Cillizza, appreciate it, my friend. Thank you.

CILLIZZA: Thanks.

HILL: U.S. Army veteran, Jason Dempsey, served in Afghanistan, multiple tours in 2009. Again, from 2012 to 2013. And he also returned to the country briefly again in 2014.

Before we get into what's happening at the moment, I'm curious your take on the president's rhetoric.

JASON DEMPSEY, U.S. ARMY VETERAN WHO SERVED MULTIPLE TOURS IN AGHANISTAN: On the one hand, one of the things he's been consistently right is he's been able to tap into that frustration the American people have with the lack of progress in Afghanistan. He's been widely ineffectual in actually changing the trajectory but he's tapping into that desire to see some kind of solution.

Or, I think, he comes across with a simplistic view of military force is, he wants there to be a black-and-white solution. And if there's one thing we know the use of military foreign policy, it doesn't lead to black-and-white solutions.

HILL: Right. And often, just getting to that decision to use force, that is not a black-and-white decision either. There's so much that goes into it.

You talk about his simplistic view of that. Do you think the president has a real understanding of the situation on the ground today in Afghanistan? DEMPSEY: Not at all, unfortunately. I don't think, one, we've seen

enough attention paid to it. If look at all the confirmation hears we've been having, Afghanistan is almost never brought up. Members of Congress don't want to touch it.

And part of that problem is that we've handed the issue over to the military entirely. We have this faith that, somehow, if we throw more military money, manpower, lives and forces at it, that somehow we'll come out with a decent solution.

So we haven't seen true sustained political engagement and a way forward in Afghanistan. That's a failure not just of this president, but our previous presidents as well to fully articulate and justify to the American people why they're there and what they might achieve that is short of the full victory they've been promised.

HILL: What does that do then? We talk a lot about (INAUDIBLE), but I think it's important. What does it do to people on the ground if their mission isn't clear, let alone with this type of rhetoric and what that can mean from a safety perspective?

[14:45:10] DEMPSEY: It's very tough. The one thing -- and it's been a blessing and a curse, the way the military approaches these wars. We have sent people over on very short tours. So if you're only there for nine months, you do what you can. And more often than not, you can find that you have moved the ball a little bit, at least you think that you've created some kind of success.

Unfortunately, you cannot run a counter-insurgency campaign. You cannot rebuild the nation. It's absurd to think you can rebuild a country by sending leaders over on six, seven, nine and 12-months. You simply can't do it.

You would not run CNN that way. The idea that we would run our military in a foreign country that way is utterly absurd.

So on the one hand, individuals in the military who go over there find that, hey, I can make a difference in the short term. But those of us who sit back after being there again and again, say, well, wait a minute, what's this all adding up. And that's for your leadership.

HILL: It begs the question, do you think your time was wasted?

DEMPSEY: Yes and no. Right? I think that the units I was with did the best we could. But I don't think we were properly utilized. I think we were a little bit delusional about how much change we could make both in the Afghan culture and government.

HILL: Still a lot to be done and a lot to process.

DEMPSEY: Indeed.

HILL: Jason, I really appreciate your coming in today.

DEMPSEY: Thank you. Appreciate your having me.

HILL: Thank you

Any moment now, the Senate is set to pass a bill to fund the 9/11 victim compensation fund through 2090. You'll hear from the first responders who have been fighting tirelessly for years for this moment.

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[14:51:07] HILL: Just into CNN, the president has filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent the disclosure of his tax returns. He's suing the New York attorney general, the New York tax commissioner, and the House Ways and Means Committee. He's filing this as a private citizen and wants a series of injunctions and restraining orders from the court.

A major medical study finds those co-called "sonic attacks" experienced by American diplomats working at the U.S. embassy in Cuba changed their brains and did so in some fairly significant ways.

This comes to us from a study out of the University of Pennsylvania's Medical School. It was just released. The problems U.S. embassy workers' complained about began back in 2016. They started to recall reports of hearing intensely loud sounds.

CNN's Senior National Correspondent, Alex Marquardt, is going over these findings.

So what else did these 10 researchers find, Alex?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPODNENT: Erica, what is clear here is that the symptoms the doctors studied don't match up with any specific disorder they know.

Now it's almost three years later and we don't know what's behind it and what caused it. We do know, it was very clear from the study, doctors say, that something did happen to the brains of these people at the embassy.

What they did was study, 40 different officials, they studied their brain scans. They carried out MRIs. They compared those to 48 control cases to get a sense of what was different in the brains of those officials.

What they found was, according to one of the authors, was there were group differences all over the brain, they said. They called these variations in brain structure and functional connectivity, which includes whole brain white matter volume.

The conclusion, the authors say, is that something happened and we need to look further. So something happened to their brains.

One of the problems with this study is that they didn't have access, there weren't MRI's for these same 40 people from before these attacks, so you couldn't do a before and after.

In layman's terms, Erica, the doctors say that if you brought these 40 people into a brain injury clinic and told the doctors to study their brains without knowing what had happened to them, they would assume these people had been in a bad car crash or in an explosion in the military.

There's a long list of symptoms that these doctors observed in these 40 people. I'm going to list several of them: sharp ear pain, headaches, vertigo, disorientation. Problems with memory, concentration, balance, eyesight, hearing, sleeping, that lasted several months. They reported feeling mentally foggy or slowed for months.

Now, Erica, as you noted, these attacks started in late 2016. We have lumped them together, calling them sort of sonic attacks. But the range of what was heard by these embassy employees was wide ranging. They described intensely loud sounds coming from a specific direction, buzzing, grinding metal sounds, piercing squeals, and humming.

But doctors say it was not the sound that caused these injuries. That was -- the sounds they heard, they say, was simply a result of the exposure. To what? We still do not know.

Cuban officials are saying there were no attacks against American citizens. But at the same time, American officials in China, not very close to Cuba, have reported hearing and feeling similar symptoms. So there has been an expanded health alert for U.S. officials in China as well.

Erica, here we are almost three years later, and this mystery endures.

HILL: It's amazing. You get all this information yet, in many ways, it raises more questions. It's fascinating.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: Alex Marquardt, appreciate it. Thank you.

[14:54:43] Just in, ahead of tomorrow's blockbuster hearing, Robert Mueller making a last-minute request to the committee. Hear who Robert Mueller now wants to bring along with him.

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HILL: Top of the hour here. I'm Erica Hill, in for Brooke Baldwin today.

In less than 24 hours, Robert Mueller will swear an oath, answer questions about one of the most polarizing investigations in our nation's history. Perhaps the only thing rivaling the pressure on Capitol Hill, may be the last-minute preparations being made.

CNN is learning the former special counsel just made an 11th-hour appeal to the House Judiciary Committee. Mueller wants his deputy, Aaron Zebley, to be sworn in for the hearing as well. Why? He says that's in case he needs to answer any questions the special counsel cannot fully answer himself. A source tells CNN his deputy will merely sit next to him. All of this as President Trump has been preemptively attacking

tomorrow's testimony.

[15:00:04] CNN White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, joins me now.

Kaitlan, you also have new reporting about the conversations that are happening with the president's aids behind the scenes. What are you learning?