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Police Attack Protesters in Hong Kong; Trump's Tweet Targets Representative Elijah Cummings' Baltimore District; Two Americans Arrested in Italian Cop's Stabbing Death; Democrat Presidential Candidates Prepare for Second Debate; Seaweed Bloom Invades Beaches; Egan Bernal Set to Become First Colombian to Win Tour de France. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired July 28, 2019 - 03:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: One day after these dramatic scenes, protesters gather for another day of demonstrations in Hong Kong, we are live in the middle of it all.

"Rat infested": The U.S. president insults a prominent African American lawmaker and his hometown.

Plus a sea beach invasion in Florida and Mexico battle ugly and stinking floating mats of algae.

I'm Paula Newton. Great to have you with us.


NEWTON: OK, at this hour, protesters are gathering in Hong Kong for the eighth straight week of pro-democracy demonstrations. They are going to march through the city's financial district, demanding justice for police violence during earlier protests. It's happening a day after violent clashes during an illegal rally.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds but only after protesters threw bricks and glass bottles at them, they claim. Kristie Lu Stout is live in Hong Kong in the middle of it all.

Hard to know what to expect to today.

What are protesters telling you?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Well, what we are seeing right now, is a beginning of the gathering, an authorized, legal rally taking place in the heart of Hong Kong, the central business district. The aim here is to condemn police tactics and this comes in a timely moment.

Last night, the scenes of violence and pandemonium in the north of Hong Kong were after a peaceful, unlawful assembly took place. It culminated in a standoff in the train station. Blood was seen on the floors of the train station, when police engaged in a forceful clearance operation using tear gas, pepper spray and baton charge to clear the protesters out.

We talked to the Hong Kong hospital authority, they have confirmed 24 people have been hospitalized as a result of the clashes. Human rights groups like Amnesty International are condemning the forceful response from Hong Kong police.

We have heard from Hong Kong police, they said that 11 people have been arrested and four officers were injured and they defended the response, saying they were acting and reacting to protesters, who were deliberately using violence by throwing projectiles at them.

Joining me now is pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong, who witnessed what happened.

You were in the standoff in the train station, what did you experience?

JOSHUA WONG, HONG KONG PRO-DEMOCRACY LEADER: We experienced how riot police used (INAUDIBLE) bullets and pepper spray attack on protesters that are planning to leave the protest and take train back to the home.

We are not surprised, police might use violence and attack on citizen and protester during protest. But there is no reason for police to attack protester inside the railway station, when they already end their protests.

STOUT: The police said they had given adequate warning. The police said that some of the protesters were acting violently, throwing projectiles, ramming barricades.

Are some members of the protest movement becoming more radicalized, more violent?

WONG: It's no surprise and we know that police love to condemn on violence and love to criticize on forceful use by protester.

But the fundamental problem is what is the legal ground and the legitimacy or explanation to attack and target protester inside of railway station?

I hope we know that no matter if assembly of protest authorized by police or not, police will still use the crowd for control weapon with excessive force to targeted not only protesters but even ordinary citizens and journalists. We know that journalists were shoot by rubber bullet yesterday and some were sent hospital.

At the same time, protesters, of course, some of them use force but at the same time, why the government still hide behind police and do nothing. Hong Kong leaders just serving the interest of Chinese government and being the puppet of Beijing.

STOUT: Is there any conversation taking place at all, behind the scenes and between the protest movement and the Hong Kong government?

WONG: Pro-democratic legislator sent an open letter, urged to have dialogue with the leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam. But Carrie Lam has no respond at all and what we heard in the short-term, stop police brutality, stop gangster that serving the interest of --


WONG: -- Beijing violence (ph). And in the long run, it's a must to have free election.

STOUT: And what do you think will happen today?

This is so far a peaceful gathering. This is an authorized, legal assembly of protesters that are here to protest against violent police tactics. Originally the plan was to march to Sheung Wan, where the China liaison office is located and they received the clashes there. That would be unlawful.

Are they going to -- are you going to march to Sheung Wan tonight?

WONG: Riot police might attack protester no matter the protest is authorized by them or not. So it's hard for us to expect what might happen. Two days ago, when assembly at Hong Kong International Airport, whole international community kept eyes on Hong Kong. Yesterday, we have demonstration at New Territories, urge government stop the violence and not allow pro-Beijing (INAUDIBLE) attack on elderly and youngster.

At the same time, today here at central Hong Kong, protests will continue. Calls for democracy will never stop.

STOUT: Protests will continue but for how long?

We have entered the eighth consecutive weekend of protests, how long will it go for?

WONG: Last month, I would still describe our protest as anti- extradition bill protest. Of course, we know that the bill still exists and not terminated and withdrawn yet. But with the police violence and how government just being the puppet of Beijing, we knew that now it's not only related to that extradition bill. Now it's is the summer of discontent to Xi Jinping and Carrie Lam.

STOUT: Joshua Wong, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

And joining us now from Vancouver, we have pro-Beijing legislator, Michael Tien. Let me see if I can hear him. Fortunately it seems that --


STOUT: -- I have lost contact with him.

Paula, I am going to throw it back to you so I can reestablish communications. But that was a discussion with Joshua Wong, (INAUDIBLE) events are going to happen later this day. We will continue to monitor it for you right here on CNN. Back to you. NEWTON: Right, thanks, Kristie. I will take it from here and really interesting to hear from Joshua Wong, that, in fact, the demands, the list is getting longer.

Michael Tien, can you hear me?

It's Paula Newton in Atlanta.

Great. Thank you. Perhaps you heard Joshua Wong, he said, look, the problem here is not just the extradition bill that has been shelved but that the government, the legislative council, of which you are a member, is a puppet of Beijing.

Where do you expect it to all go now?

MICHAEL TIEN, PRO-BEIJING LEGISLATOR: I guess you want to hear both sides of the camp, right?

So you here from the opposition camp and I supposedly represent the pro-establishment. A week ago last Sunday, I condemned the district command police level as you know of not handling the protest properly.

I wrote a letter to the secretary for security, asking them to look into the matter and if there's any mishandling, somebody's head should roll. I'm doing that as a pro-establishment legislator to let you know that a lot of us are actually very objective about these things.

NEWTON: But in being objective, I have to stop you there, you are objective about these things. But OK, we saw with our own cameras what happened to a CNN crew and even innocent bystanders in the train station.

So what is being done today?


TIEN: Well, let me tell you what happened today. Again, objectively, the protest went on without a permit given by government, the first time ever. Government police still allowed the march to go on from 3:00-5:00 pm.

At 5:00 pm, there was 10 percent or 5 percent of the protesters, they were very militant. They start getting rowdy, attacking and causing conflict with the police. And at one point, they were throwing fire extinguishers at the police and refusing to not enter areas that are cordoned off and prohibited.

In so doing, the police went and to start dispersing the crowd, went after them. These people went into the rail station and I think, at about 9:00 or 10:00, that's when your reporter was there.

Inside the station, there were the other 95 percent of the protesters that were very peaceful. When the police came in, they were going after those 5 percent. They were all wearing black.

So I don't know what happened. Obviously, the police also got into some conflict with the other 95 percent.

NEWTON: And we can see, as you are speaking, as you are speaking, we are replaying a lot of the images that we saw from last night. I take your point, it was chaotic. But the point of the protesters here --


TIEN: All I'm trying to say is both sides have done something wrong --

NEWTON: -- OK --

TIEN: -- to antagonize each other. But leave Xi Jinping out. This thing has nothing to do with Xi Jinping. This is wholly created by Carrie Lam.


TIEN: She started this whole thing. She needs to finish it off.

Now the two demands that I have also made to Carrie Lam was to openly retract the bill and also have an independent inquiry into the whole incident. This has gathered increasing momentum across all sectors of Hong Kong.

I will be meeting her personally in two days' time and I will tell her face to face that that is the only way to resolve this crisis or else it's going to continue on. And I don't know how long she can last.

NEWTON: I don't have a lot of time here.

But I do have to ask you, do you believe Beijing is considering bringing in the army?

TIEN: No. Absolutely not.

NEWTON: What makes you say that?

TIEN: What makes me say that?

Let's just say that I have connections with Beijing and I know what they are thinking about. OK?

The worst that can happen is Carrie Lam will step down, OK, and eventually an independent inquiry will take place.

We can take care of our own problems. We want all foreign intervention and foreign elements to stay out of Hong Kong and we also want Beijing to leave us alone.

NEWTON: OK, we're going to leave it there. Thank you for calling in as we continue to watch these protests, as they unfold for yet another day in Hong Kong. Thanks so much.

Moving on here now, President Trump is provoking even more outrage among Democrats after he verbally attacked a prominent African American member of Congress.

This time, the president targeted veteran House Democrat Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

That's an important point. It's one of the most powerful and influential institutions on Capitol Hill. And it has been a thorn in the side of the White House.

Now the president's tweet called Cummings "a bully" and said the congressman's district in Maryland was a "rat and rodent infested mess," where no person would want to live. We have more from CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It appears that President Trump was set off on his Twitter tirade about Representative Elijah Cummings and the district that he represents, which includes the city of Baltimore, for a combination of reasons.

The president obviously unhappy with the way that Representative Cummings grilled DHS officials during House testimony earlier this week on the issue of immigration and the president apparently also watching FOX News.

In the hour before this series of tweets were sent out, they did a segment about west Baltimore in which a FOX News commentator negatively compared conditions in that city to conditions at the southern border, laying the blame on Representative Cummings.

So that's where you get the president's line of attack. Forget questions about decorum or about race baiting, which we've seen this president do in the past.

There's also the fact that these tweets are misinformed. Representative Elijah Cummings' district is actually one of the most well-educated and most affluent, predominantly African American districts in the country. So the picture that the president is painting is, to say the least, inaccurate.

The mayor of Baltimore, Jack Young, weighed in on this attack. Listen to what he said.


JACK YOUNG, BALTIMORE MAYOR; I guess everybody in the 7th District will be assaulted, including me. I mean, you ride through the 7th Congressional District and see all the developments that we had done and we are still working to rebuild some of the areas that need the help the most.

So for him to say that was an insult to me, as a resident who lives in the 7th District. That was totally an insult. We are not going ignore anyone degrading any Baltimore City and the elected leadership. No one. I don't consider it fueling the fire. I look at it as defending Baltimore City, the city where I live. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Now President Trump, as we have seen before, digging in, tweeting this out on Saturday evening, the president writing, quote, "Elijah Cummings spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people through oversight. He does nothing for his very poor, very dangerous and very badly run district. Take a look."

And then he hashtags it #BlacksForTrump2020.

President Trump shifting into campaign mode there. But it appears he will need some help courting the African American vote. Let's not forget President Trump got 8 percent from the African American community during the 2016 election -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.


NEWTON: In Italy, authorities have arrested two Americans in connection with the killing of a policeman. Now investigators say this officer was repeatedly stabbed after he questioned the two about a robbery in Rome.

According to a police statement, the two confessed to the crime. Italy's interior minister says he wants them to serve life sentences. He and other officers have expressed their condolences over the fallen police officer.


SANDRO OTTAVIANI, COMMANDER, FARNESE SQUARE CARABINIERI HQ (through translator): He was a person that was always, always, always available. Everyone could count on him. Everyone in the neighborhood knew that they could count on him. He never tried to cut corners.


OTTAVIANI (through translator): He was very altruistic.


NEWTON: Now the people of Rome have also paid tribute to the officer. They have placed flowers and handwritten notes at the site where he was killed.

Protesters also hit the streets of Moscow Saturday, they were met with force by police and more than a thousand people were detained. Demonstrators took to the streets to demand free and fair voting.

This after a number of opposition and independent candidates were barred from municipal elections. Police used batons to crack down on the protesters leaving several people injured.

Democrats are just days away from the second debate among their presidential candidates. It could be a make or break moment for many of them, especially that front-runner right there, Joe Biden. Plus, it's nasty, it's ugly and it stinks and it's invading some of

the most beautiful beaches around. Why massive amounts of seaweed are washing ashore, that when we come back.




NEWTON: OK, the next round of Democratic presidential candidate debates will be held next Tuesday and Wednesday in Detroit, hosted by CNN. It's a crowded field, 20 people competing for airtime and public recognition.

For front-runner Joe Biden, it's a chance to assert himself more forcefully after his -- how shall we put it -- less than commanding performance in the first debate. Others will be looking to articulate their vision and build that name recognition.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not attack my fellow Democrats.


WARREN: And what I try to do, whenever I'm asked, is I try to talk about my vision and talk about the positive vision of what we can do, come 2020.

JULIAN CASTRO (D-TX), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My name ID is still lower than for several of the other candidates. So I want to make sure that I continue to introduce myself, talk about the vision that I have for the future of this country.


NEWTON: All right, want to get a preview of what to expect from CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali, who joins me now from New York.

I mean, look, Joe Biden, after all that, is still the front-runner. Very clear he is still the front-runner.

Do you believe that the next debates will do more to thin the field?

And do you think thinning the field will be helpful at this point or should they just slug it out for months to come and talk more about policy?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I don't think that the Democratic National Committee wants them to keep slugging it out.

This coming debate is extraordinarily important because it is going to set the stage for the debates in September. And the requirements for being on the stage in September are twice as high as for August. So you have a lot of the middle --


NAFTALI: -- tier candidates who have not yet qualified, because they know in advance what the requirements will be in September. They need to get attention now.

So there are a number of them -- Klobuchar, Cory Booker -- they need to get more attention. So the August debate is a make or -- really a do or die opportunity for the middle tier.

NEWTON: Right.

NAFTALI: For the leading candidates, it's a chance to push further ahead. And for Biden, it's a chance to show that he has got more energy and is a little bit better on the stump, a little less rusty than he was in the last time we saw him.

NEWTON: Yes, less than a stellar performance there.

You know, so many people are now looking to the breakout moment that Kamala Harris had at Joe Biden's expense during the last debate. It was that very aggressive tone. I want you to listen to someone you already mentioned, which was Cory Booker, talking about what he will do. Take a listen.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And now he's unrolled his -- unveiled his crime bill. For a guy who helped to be an architect of mass incarceration, this is an inadequate solution to what is a raging crisis in our country.


NEWTON: That is some hard-hitting stuff against Joe Biden and his record.

Is that what it's going to take if you want to get into that top tier?

You have to hammer that front-runner?

NAFTALI: Well, yes, you do have to hammer the front-runner. And you also have to be the alternative. You have to be the person who looks like they have the best shot at bringing down the front-runner.

Let's keep in mind, we are still -- it's still the early going. What is more important at the moment is to see the winnowing of the field, as it goes from 25 down to maybe 10, or all more than 10 between now and September.

You will start to see a jockeying for position among those who are left and you will see that they'll want to be the opponent. They'll want to be the alternative to Joe Biden, if he is still the front- runner. NEWTON: And he has still been the front-runner, that's the point here. And that is despite what was a very lackluster performance in the last debate.

What do you think he has to do?

Does he really have to come out swinging?

It seems that he is promising he will be more aggressive.

But is that in itself, a more risky strategy for him?

NAFTALI: Well, I don't think it's risky for him to be more aggressive. I think the worst thing a front-runner can do is to rest on their laurels. I think one of the reasons why he is -- we have seen a softening of some of his support is that he has actually not been as -- he has not been able to take on the issue of his long years of service.

One of his challenges is, A, to experience either that he has changed his mind over time, because, his record, not all aspects of his record are those that he would want to run on at this point and, two, is he up for the job?

He was a great vice president, no question; he was a team -- great team player with Barack Obama.

But can he be the number one guy?

Does he have the energy to be the number one on the ticket?

He has not yet proven that. The fact that he is a front-runner is a sign that first of all the party knows him, the people know him. He has name recognition and there's a lot of Democrats who absolutely feel that the most important thing is to beat Trump.

And you beat Trump with a known quantity like Biden. That's why he is the front-runner. Doesn't mean he will stay there.

NEWTON: It will be so interesting, especially given the fact that he, even as the front-runner, had a lot to prove, as you pointed out, at this debate. Really appreciate you being with us.

Now don't forget, the next Democratic debates will be live on CNN on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Coverage begins at 8:00 pm Eastern time here in the United States. But you can see encore presentations at 7:00 am London time, the day after. Right here on CNN.

Now some of those beautiful beaches in the Western Hemisphere are facing an ugly and smelly effect of climate change. Once pristine shores like these you see there in Miami Beach, Florida, are seeing white sands and crystal blue waters turn to this, huge mats of brown seaweed, blanketing larges swaths of the beach. It's known as Sargassum.

(WEATHER REPORT) [03:25:00]

NEWTON: We are going to go to the Tour de France now. Egan Bernal is poised to become the first Colombian to win it and the youngest rider to do so. In 110 years, the 22-year-old cyclist kept his lead after stage 20 on Saturday although he still has to finish Sunday's stage.

Now it's traditionally not contested except for that final sprint. Bernal crushed the dreams of the hometown crowd, who expected Julian Alaphilippe to win the first title for France in 34 years.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Paula Newton. I will be back with a check on the headlines in a moment.