Return to Transcripts main page


Ratcliffe DNI Nomination Pulled; Hong Kong Protests Reach Tenth Weekend; Latest on Italian Police Officer Slaying; Body Cam Video Released in Dallas Police Case; Majority of House Democrats Support Beginning Impeachment Inquiry; Saoirse Kennedy Hill Death Examined; Pedro Pierluisi Sworn in as New Governor of Puerto Rico.. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired August 3, 2019 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another presidential nominee for a very important job being pulled from consideration.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I felt that Congressman Ratcliffe was being treated very unfairly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump abruptly yanks the nomination of republican Congressman John Ratcliffe to be his next Director of National Intelligence.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: He strikes me as extremely unqualified in every way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Puerto Rico has a new governor. This comes after months of unrest. Ricardo Rossello has stepped down and has chosen Pedro Pierluisi to replace him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people here are saying they are not happy with that selection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the 9th straight weekend of massive public protests in Hong Kong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This may be the last time we can come on to the streets to demonstrate for our freedom and democracy. As long as there is still a little bit of hope, we will still fight until the end.


ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day" weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Good Saturday morning to you. Always good to be with. He was announced less than a week ago but now President Trump says Congressman John Ratcliffe will no longer be nominated as Director of National Intelligence. CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: The president blamed the press for

Ratcliffe's downfall after questions came up over his qualifications. Now Ratcliffe had very little national security experience and a republican Senate source told CNN there was very little enthusiasm for his confirmation with the intelligence community nervous at the prospect of it.

Now with us from Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, CNN White House reporter, Sarah Westwood. Sarah, good to see you today. So first of all, any more reaction from the president?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well good morning Christi. And yes, President Trump as you mentioned pointing fingers at the media as he was leaving the White House yesterday for the collapse of Congressman John Radcliffe's nomination. But that was slowly building throughout the week. Sources tell CNN that President Trump had privately expressed concerns about his nominee to be the Director of National Intelligence in the days leading up to that polled nomination, Ratcliffe took to twitter to say that it was he who decided to remove himself from consideration looking ahead to what could be a contentious partisan confirmation battle.

But it was republican senators, too, that were calling the White House to voice their concerns not just about Radcliffe's lack of a background in the intelligence community but also there were reports that Radcliffe had embellished parts of his record when it comes to national security. That could have made a confirmation hearing very difficult. Sources are pointing fingers at the lack of a vetting process in the White House comparing it to past failed nominations like the V.A. Secretary Ronny Jackson.

There have been many others from this White House. It's sort of remarkable given that President Trump has considered removing DNI Coats for months now but now the White House, President Trump saying he's considering who to replace Radcliffe with this weekend here in Bedminster.

BLACKWELL: Sarah, before we let you go, President Trump we know spoke with Vladimir Putin this week after he saw a map of these widespread wildfires in Siberia according to a senior administration official. But we understand from other sources there were other things they talked about on that call, right?

WESTWOOD: That's right, Victor. One thing that came up according to sources is the fact that soon the administration may need to name a new U.S. Ambassador to Russia and that's because the current ambassador, Jon Huntsman, is expected to step down in the months ahead. Now Huntsman has been in that role since the beginning of Trump's presidency. Sources told CNN that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not discuss names for a potential replacement for sHuntsman, only that that change would need to be made soon. Sources also said that Trump and Putin did not discuss the coming U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty nor did they discuss the impending U.S. sanctions on Russia for that poisoning of an ex-spy in the U.K., but they did, Victor and Christie, discuss the coming vacancy in the ambassadorship to Russia. BLACKWOOD: All right, Sarah Westwood there for us there in New

Jersey. Sarah, thank you.

PAUL: All right, let's talk about more of all of this with CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis who is with us. He's also a political anchor for "Spectrum News." Errol, good morning to you on a Saturday.


PAUL: So Director of National Intel. Listen, this is one of the most sensitive jobs in the country at the end of the day. We heard Sarah talk about how there was very little support for him in the intel community and even in republican circles. So with that said, how much confidence do people have in the White House vetting process?


LOUIS: Well, look, we've gotten a lot of bad news about the White House vetting process. Some of it coming directly out of the mouth of the president himself, Christi, where he, you know, talking with members of the press, says well you guys end up doing some of my vetting. I put a name out there and you guys do a pretty good job of looking into their background. Now look, that is shocking. You can maybe get away with that if you're talking about a relatively unimportant cabinet post but this is somebody who is supposed to is supposed to oversee one of the most important parts of the security of the United States. Presumably you would think there would not only a deeper bench but a more serious process by which that person is selected.

There's not going to be a lot of confidence from the intelligence community, from Congress or from the general public if that's the way the White House wants to fill this job. I mean, there are some places where you kind of have to put the politics aside and really reach for somebody who's going to be a dedicated professional. When the White House realizes that, perhaps we'll get a more serious approach to this.

PAUL: So let's talk about who is on deck, essentially, in some people's minds anyway. Deputy Director Sue Gordon, of course, there is reporting the president likes her. That there are many in the administration who question her loyalty to the president, whether she is a political loyalist, essentially of his. She's qualified. Should she be considered, and if she is skipped over, Errol, does that buck the protocol.

LOUIS: Well, I mean look, I mean, when it comes to what Donald Trump is going to do, the president has made clear that he's his own best adviser and he cares not at all about protocol or precedent or frankly what a lot of other people think. If he's comfortable with this person then she'll get the job. The fact that she's qualified is not only important but it's really really critical in this particular job. I guess the only x-factor that's out there where political loyalty will make a difference and could be decisive in this case, is the extent to which these questions about the Russian attack on American democracy in our voting systems becomes an important issue going forward into the 2020 elections.

The president has seemed so kind of distant and removed from any kind of serious engagement with that question. If the democratic opponents who were trying to unseat him make it a big deal, then who the DNI is, how he or she performs, what they do in particular about that vital question about the Russian attack on our democracy is a really really important question, and that's where I think President Trump will want a loyalist there, somebody who is politically safe and loyal to him personally.

PAUL: OK, so you're talking about somebody who's politically safe for him. Let's talk real quickly about Representative Will Hurd, who I think this was a jolt to most everybody. It came as very abrupt. His retirement, that he is not seeking reelection. There he is the 6th GOP lawmaker and the third from Texas, from the House, to announce retirement. We had Mike Conaway, and Pete Olson announcing as well. What is going on, Errol, in Texas and how significant is this for the GOP?

LOUIS: It is and it isn't significant Christi. I mean let's keep in mind, this is somebody who really squeaked by. This is a district that Hillary Clinton won. This is a district that is majority minority. This is a seat that the republicans were luckily to have held at all frankly, and Will Hurd, who is an extraordinary politician by all accounts barely squeaked out a reelection. If you're in the minority, as the republicans currently are, if you don't get a chance to really direct legislation or chair a committee, it's not a really fun kind of proposition, and most politicians, if they faced the kind of uphill battle that Hurd faces to get reelected, they would probably do what he did, which is to say, you know, kind of go home on your break, talk to your constituents, talk to your advisers, your backers and then make a hard decision. In this case, he saw that the writing is on the wall that this wasn't going to be a seat that was going to be easy for him to keep.

PAUL: And it's interesting because he has said of his future, that he's leaving the House of Representatives to help our country in a different way, to help make sure the Republican Party looks like America so we'll see what he has in store. Thank you so much, Errol Louis, always appreciate your perspective.

LOUIS: Thank you Christi.

PAUL: Sure.

Well rocker A$AP Rocky back in the United States this morning while a Swedish court is deciding his fate. The 30-year-old rapper spent a month in jail on assault charges after a street fight in Stockholm.

BLACKWELL: So the rapper and two members of his entourage claim they were defending themselves. Prosecutors are requesting that A$AP Rocky and his codefendants receive a sentence between 6 to 10 months in jail. A verdict is scheduled for August 14th.

A protest march is now winding down through an area of Hong Kong. That is one of the most crowded places in the world. PAUL: The anti-government pro-democracy march started a few hours

ago. Pro-police demonstrations -- demonstrators I should say, held a competing rally as well. This is the 9th weekend of protests. Tensions are running high and the unrest obviously very strong there in Hong Kong, still. Well. This is the 9th weekend of well. This is the 9th weekend of protests. Tensions are running high and the unrest obviously very strong there in Hong Kong, still.

BLACKWELL: And let me correct one thing.


I said winding down. It is winding through that area. Let's go to CNN Senior International Correspondent Ivan Watson in Hong Kong there because this is not dying down. This is still going pretty strong, I see.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is. I mean this is truly the summer of discontent for Hong Kong. As you mentioned, the 9th straight weekend of protests here, where some of the protesters and some of the police have used increasingly violent tactics. So far we have not seen violence here happily. What you see instead is a predominantly young demographic of demonstrators, most of them covering their faces and some of them equipped with helmets and protective gear, anticipating perhaps trouble.

They have moved outside of an area that was authorized for their protest march at the last minute by police. They themselves are controlling traffic in this incredibly congested city, and the big question is will we see a repeat of the kind of violence that has rocked this city week after week in previous weeks of this standoff, a standoff that I would generalize and describe as a bit of a youth revolt against the city's rulers and by extension, against the Communist Party government in mainland China.

The protesters have a number of demands. They don't want these protests to be called riots. They want the withdrawal of a controversial law that would allow extradition of suspects to mainland China. But it's become about so much more than that, and the gorilla in the room is basically that Hong Kong doesn't really have democratically-elected leaders and these people are frustrated with the arrangement that many of them are fated to.

They're born into a city that will come under communist authoritarian rule and they have no say in the matter. There have been increasing warnings from the government in Beijing, from the head of the Chinese military garrison here in Hong Kong, calling these protesters violent and saying that their actions will not be tolerated and that is ramping up the pressure and the tension in this former British colony. Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: The 9th weekend of these protests and they will continue throughout the day, and we'll of course get back to you Ivan. Thank you.

At least three people have died, two others are hurt after a bluff collapsed on top of them.

PAUL: This happened just north of San Diego. Witnesses say -- and you'll hear them here -- just how much watching what happened affected them, that it was just terrible. Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was real hard to watch, and it was unnerving, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People in Encinitas shocked after a bluff collapsed yesterday afternoon.

ROBERT ROSSBACH, CARLSBAD RESIDENT: A boulder from the cliff had fallen and there were chairs and toys and towels scattered everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a hard scene for a lot of people to process. A large group had been set up on the sand, a bit too close, apparently, to the bluffs, as chunks began to give away. Five people were buried.

MIKE STEIN, CHIEF OF ENCINTAS FIRE DEPARTMENT: We had an active life guard in that tower who actually reported to us that he actually heard it slough off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Life guards jumped in immediately; the fire department arrived just four minutes later.

JIM PEPPERDINE, ENCINTAS RESIDENT: They were digging out a woman, frantically digging her out and they managed to get her out and there was already another person removed and there was still another person underneath - trapped underneath some pretty good sized boulders. It was pretty devastating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Equipment was brought in to move all of that debris and service dog teams searched for people trapped under the broken cliffs. The area that broke off was about 25 by 30 feet, 10 feet tall at its highest point.

LARRY GILES, CAPTAIN OF THE ENCINTAS MARINE SAFETY DIVISION: This is a natural eroding bluff that we see up and down the San Diego County coastline, and the state of California. Unfortunately this afternoon, it naturally eroded. It fell away from the bluff and came off in a slab form and landed on the beach where (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the end, three people died, and two were injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is absolutely sad, and watching them counsel the victims, either their parents or relatives or whoever they were, they were pretty distraught.


PAUL: The experts say another collapse could happen in that same area. They don't know when that could happen but they do say homeowners in the area do not need to worry.

BLACKWELL: There is a crucial development in the case of two American teenagers accused of killing an Italian police officer. Coming up the key piece of evidence their families are asking prosecutors to make public immediately.

PAUL: And body cam video shows Dallas police mocking a man moments before he died while in their custody. Coming up, we're going to hear from the Texas mother who fought three years for the release of those tapes.



PAUL: So the father of one of the two teens accused of killing an Italian police officer is coming back to the United States this morning and he's asking prosecutors to release evidence in this case.

BLACKWELL: Police say one of the teens stabbed the officer 11 times after a botched drug deal. The other teen is accused of attacking the officer's partner. CNN's Jamana Karachi joins us now. Jamana, these parents want to know exactly what happened and they want a crucial piece of evidence to be released.

JAMANA KARACHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Victor, this is what we're hearing from Ethan Elder, Finnegan Elder's father. We know that he's departing Italy today, but still hoping to get more evidence, more clarity from Italian authorities on this case against his son. The allegations that he was the one who stabbed that police officer on this street corner more than a week ago, and more than a week into it, Victor, we still have so many more questions than answers; a lot of questions about how this all transpired, what took place on that evening.

Keeping in mind that the version of events the world knows right now that has been made public is what we are hearing from Italian authorities. It is the prosecution's case basically, the court documents that have been made public. It is based on the testimony of a number of prosecution witnesses. It is also based on analysis of CC TV footage, but there's also questions about more CC TV footage, more surveillance cameras from this specific corner of the specific incident, the specific murder.

What we know for a fact is that Italian police officer was murdered on that Friday night on this street corner but the families, as you mentioned, want more clarity. They want to know more about the case and we could perhaps learn some more. One of the two teenagers, Gabriel Natale, has applied - has appealed this pretrial detention and under Italian law, he appealed that on Thursday, and they say that within a few days, perhaps, the evidence of the prosecution will have to share that with the defense.

So maybe perhaps that will give us a bit more clarity, while we know that he has not - he has not confessed to taking part in the murder. Allegedly he was - he was part of that assault that took place here and under Italian law, he faces murder charges as well, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, we'll see what's revealed in the next step here. Jamana Karachi for us there in Rome. Thank you.

Dallas police have released body cam footage from the night a man died while in police custody there. This was August of 2016. Tony Timpa called police asking for help. The video here shows the officers mocking the man while he yells, "You're going to kill me." In less than an hour, he was dead.

PAUL: CNN's Ed Lavandera reports on the three-year battle for the video's release, and listen we do not want you to be caught off guard. This is a tough video to watch. Here we go.s


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In August of 2016, 32-year-old Tony Timpa called 911 on himself. He was standing outside of a Dallas pornography store. He told dispatchers he suffered from schizophrenia and depression and was off his medications. When Dallas police officers arrived, Timpa had already been handcuffed by private security guards.

TONY TIMPA, VICTIM: Don't hurt me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relax, man, we'll get you some help, Tony. Relax man. Just stay down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Tony, Tony, Tony.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just keep him down.

Unidentified Male: It's too much.

LAVANDERA: Dallas police said Timpa was arrested due to his erratic behavior. But the officer body camera video shows Timpa repeatedly begging for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground.

TIMPA: No, you're going to kill me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to kill you.

TIMPA: You're going to kill me. You're going to kill me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, relax, buddy.



TIMPA: I need you to help me.

LAVANDERA: You can hear the officers laughing and joking about the situation. The video captures 20 minutes of the interaction between the officers and Timpa. One officer uses his knee and body weight to hold Timpa on the ground face first. Timpa continues begging for help.

TIMPA: Help me, help me. Help me. Help me. Help me. Help me. Help me.

LAVANDERA: As they switch out handcuffs and then zip tie his legs together, the officers continue mocking Timpa. Nearly 12 minutes into the video, Tony Timpa stops responding. His family's attorney says a paramedic injected him with a sedative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, time for school. Wake up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to go to school.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First day, you can't be late.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got your new shoes for the first day of school. Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Made breakfast, scrambled eggs, your favorite. Waffles.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rootie-tootie-fruity waffles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's out cold now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This might wake him up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. He just got quiet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, there he comes.

LAVANDERA: More than five minutes pass before anyone administers CPR and the officers start showing concern about Timpa's condition as Timpa's lifeless body is lifted onto the gurney, officers again laugh about the situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope I didn't kill him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All this (Beep). LAVANDERA: Then the paramedic breaks the news that Tony Timpa is dead. The autopsy determined Timpa died of sudden cardiac arrest caused by toxic effects of cocaine in his system and the stress of being restrained. Tony Timpa's mother says even three years later it's still excruciating to watch.

VICKI TIMPA, SON DEAD IN DALLAS POLICE CUSTODY: It's real hard to hear my son scream, "Help me," and cry and they laugh at him and they torture him and they kill him and they have fun doing it and they keep doing it even when he's not breathing.


It's like, okay, we get this 911 call. This guy needs help. Let's go have fun with him. Let's torture him and kill him.

LAVANDERA: A grand jury indicted three Dallas police officers on a misdemeanor charge of deadly conduct. Those charges were dismissed by the Dallas County district attorney earlier this year. Prosecutors said they believed that the officers did not act recklessly. Those officers are still on the Dallas police force. Tony Timpa's family has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Dallas police and the department says it will not comment on the because of that lawsuit. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.

PAUL: Well still to come, the majority of House democrats now publicly support starting an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. This is a milestone that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can't ignore any longer. So where do they go from here? We'll talk about that.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the granddaughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy found dead at the family compound. What her family is saying today.


PAUL: Well, 29 minutes past the hour. I'm Christi Paul. Welcome to Saturday.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, good to be with you this morning.

PAUL: So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is under some pressure this week after a majority of House democrats now publically going on record supporting an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.


BLACKWELL: Now the speaker has insisted she's not stalling on the issue. CNN Politics Congressional Reporter Lauren Fox has the story.

LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS AND CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well a majority of the democratic caucus is now supporting moving forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Trump and that's significant because Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House has been trying to hold her caucus back. She released a statement a short time ago arguing that democrats should stay the course and now is not necessarily the best time for impeachment. She wrote quote, "Democrats in the Congress continue to legislate,

investigate and litigate. The president will be held accountable," and democrats in the caucus are back in their district for the Congressional recess. You can expect that they're going to be hearing from constituents who might also be making calls to impeach the president. But it's a difficult balance because we have moderates who may be going back to districts where President Trump won in 2016. They may be hearing a different message than those members who are in safe democratic seats who might be hearing from more liberal constituents.

BLACKWELL: Lauren Fox, thank you.

Joining us now to discuss, congressional reporter for "Politico," Kyle Cheney. Kyle, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: OK, so now most House democrats support starting impeachment formally or the inquiry at least. How much harder, if at all, will it be for the speaker to convince her caucus that now is not the time to move forward?

CHENEY: So the speaker seems pretty settled on where -- on her path. She doesn't want to move forward with an inquiry at this time. So what I hear from democrats who do want to move forward with a formal impeachment process is we need to run up the score. We can't have a bare majority of our caucus favoring this path. We need to show an overwhelming number and that, maybe, can move the speaker.

BLACKWELL: OK, so let's listen to one of the members, now in the minority, who says that now is not the time to move forward starting formally with the impeachment inquiry.


REP. GREGORY MEEKS, (D) NEW YORK: The Judiciary Committee is doing its investigations. I sit on the Financial Services Committee. We're doing an investigation. I also sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee. It's continuing with its investigation. Elijah Cummings is doing what he has to do on Government Oversight. Richard Neal is doing what he has to do on Ways and Means. So the investigation to get the evidence that's necessary so that you can prosecute a case is continuing and moving on right now.


BLACKWELL: OK, so that was Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York. That will likely take months. Right? They're right now in this August recess. When do they need to decide? Congresswoman Jackie Spears said September. If they're not going to do it, stop talking they might do it. Do they at least have a general agreement on when will be too late to start the impeachment proceedings?

CHENEY: There's not. I mean if you hear Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler he says we can do it anytime in 2020, although the politics of that seem fairly impractical. I have heard maybe of a more consensus time frame by the Iowa Caucuses when presidential politics really are going to dominate the landscape, but that seems to be the outer edge of when democrats might consider going down that road.

BLACKWELL: So right before the start of the August recess, House Judiciary announced this new lawsuit to get the grand jury materials and the chairman, Chairman Nadler said that this in effect is the start of the impeachment inquiry without using that term and too much is put on it. Has that lawsuit served to pacify or satisfy any of these members who believe that impeachment should formally start?

CHENEY: Not at all, in fact, there's been an uptick since Special Counsel Mueller testified a couple of weeks ago that really the number of members coming out and announcing and that lawsuit, that petition to the court has not changed a thing. I think members really want to be on record in their districts. They are going to hear from constituents now that they're home. They don't want there to be any mystery about where they stand as they hear from especially in those progressive or safe districts, people that are clamoring for an impeachment inquiry.

BLACKWELL: So let's flip to the other districts, those democrats who are elected in purple districts or in some cases, districts that have traditionally been represented by a republican, those red districts. What does this now majority shift in favor of impeachment mean for them and what will they have to say now that they're back in district?

CHENEY: Well, the Speaker Pelosi says the politics are not part of this calculus. It's undeniable that just because a majority is in favor doesn't mean that these particular members, the ones who helped give democrats the majority are suddenly going to support this move. There have been quite a few, actually, eight or nine democrats in these red to blue districts are in favor of this path but that's not even close to a majority, and that may be where leadership is looking when they think about how to proceed.

BLACKWELL: One other thing that we heard from Congressman Meeks last night on Chris Cuomo's show, is that they are putting all of this information together so that at some point when they start impeachment, they want to be sure that they convict the president in the Senate. There seems to be no evidence that that is likely, especially after what we heard from Bob Mueller several weeks ago.

CHENEY: Right, and I think republicans are showing that there's no motivation on the senate side to impeach or convict the president. And so what we're hearing more and more from some of these democrats is that we have to put the ball in the Senate's court and if they want to let him off the hook, then that's on the Senate, but it doesn't mean we should sit on our hands. That's where some of the energy is coming from in the democratic House.

BLACKWELL: Kyle Cheney, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

CHENEY: Thanks so much. PAUL: Well after weeks of protest, Puerto Rico has a new governor

this morning. His opponents, though, have significant doubts. Some calling this unethical and illegal.

BLACKWELL: And the granddaughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy passes away suddenly; just one in a long line of tragedies to strike the Kennedy family.


BLACKWELL: The Kennedy family is mourning today after the granddaughter of former presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was found dead at the family's Massachusetts compound. Saoirse Kennedy Hill was 22 years old.

PAUL: Now authorities haven't released a cause of death but Kennedy's grandmother says the world just got a little less beautiful. Here's CNN's Rosa Flores.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of America's prominent political families struck again by tragedy. Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter, 22-year-old Saoirse Kennedy Hill died Thursday after she was found unresponsive at the family home in Massachusetts. Her mother, Courtney Kennedy Hill was one of the 11 children of the late presidential candidate and his human rights activist wife, Ethel Kennedy. Police say they responded to a call about an unresponsive female at the Kennedy family compound, a place which captured the nation's attention during the presidency of John F. Kennedy in the 1960s.

Saoirse was transferred to a Cape Cod hospital say police where she was pronounced dead. The cause of death wasn't immediately released but authorities say an autopsy revealed no trauma. They are now awaiting results of a toxicology report.

The Robert F. Kennedy family issued a statement saying their hearts are shattered by the loss and sharing details about the difference the young Kennedy has made during her short life. Saoirse was passionately moved by the causes of human rights and women's empowerment and found great joy in volunteer work, working alongside indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico. Her death is the latest in a series of tragedies in the Kennedy family. President John F. Kennedy, and his brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy were both assassinated. David Kennedy, one of Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy's children died in a Florida hotel after a drug overdose. The couple's other son Michael Kennedy, died in 1997 during a ski accident in Colorado on New Year's Eve. And two decades ago, a small plane crash killed John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn Kennedy, and his sister-in-law Lauren Bassette. As for Saoirse Kennedy, her death remains under investigation according to police. Rosa Flores, CNN, Atlanta.

BLACKWELL: Puerto Rico has sworn in its new governor, Leyla Santiago is there. LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, some are questioning the

constitutionality of this and what's next for the island. That's coming up.



PAUL: Forty-six minutes past the hour, welcome back. A new governor has been sworn in sto the office in Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi took the oath yesterday. He is replacing Ricardo Rossello who stepped down after weeks of protests to unseat him.

BLACKWELL: But now opponents are questioning the legitimacy of this appointment. CNN's Leyla Santiago is in San Juan where people have been holding rallies. Leyla, hello to you and what are the opponents saying about this new governor?

SANTIAGO: Good morning, yes, a lot of people questioning the legitimacy of this because here's how most believe this is supposed to work. If the governor appoints someone as Secretary of State, which would be next in line for governor, that the legislature, the House and Senate here in Puerto Rico is supposed to confirm before it's official. Now Pierluisi was sworn in and approved but the House but the Senate here says they don't even plan on considering whether they will confirm him until next week.

That said, they are moving forward and having him sworn in as governor and some are questioning the constitutionality of this because the Senate has not confirmed. So much so that, yes, you bet you, there are lawsuits already being drafted. The municipality of San Juan says that Monday morning they will be going straight to the Supreme Court to file a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of this.

So while it is one step in really what has been a saga for nearly two weeks now of protests and demands calling for a new governor, still some uncertainty that is looming. Now we were here in old San Juan when Rossello stepped down right at 5:00 p.m. yesterday. There were cheers. There were hugs. There were tears. So there was a bit of a celebration, but protesters are saying, nope, we're still not happy. We're still demanding that Pierluisi step down because they don't believe that this is the right step for Puerto Rico in moving forward.

So again, while there is a development, the story is far from over because there still seems to be a lot of uncertainty in what will happen given the legal challenges. Now Pierluisi yesterday, in speaking to the press, he said that he expected there to be some challenges in the courts and he also said that if the Senate does not confirm him next week that he will step down.

BLACKWELL: All right, Layla Santiagos for us there in San Juan. Thank you.

PAUL: Thanks Leyla. So listen, there is a legal battle brewing over a mascot. You could call it a free agent frenzy is that right COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christi. You don't

hear this often. The Philly Phanatic, one of the most iconic figures in sports, so why are the Phillies having to sue to keep their beloved green thing? That's coming up. S



PAUL: The new CNN original series. Are you saying that's yours, Christi?

BLACKWELL: Yes, go ahead.

PAUL: Yes, sorry? "The Movies" continues tomorrow night with the 60s, "Psycho," "Dr. Strangelove," and "2001, A Space Odyssey." You're going to hear from the actors, the directors, the people who brought your favorite films to life. "The Movies" airs tomorrow night at 9:00 only here on CNN. OK, now this report.

BLACKWELL: OK. The Philadelphia Phillies are fighting to keep their biggest and greenest fan from becoming a free agent.

PAUL: So we're talking about one of the most iconic mascots ever, the Philly Phanatic. We were saying this morning, I didn't know a mascot could be a free agent.

BLACKWELL: You learn new things every day.

PAUL: Oh my God.

WIRE: Yes, they're not supposed to, I would think from the team's perspective. We're talking about a mascot that has great dance moves like Victor after some gin.

PAUL: Calling you out.

WIRE: The mascot since 1978 the Phanatic debuted. But there's a firm saying that the Phillies don't own the exclusive rights to the mascot. The team filing a federal lawsuit which says it's paid Harrison Erickson 215 grand in 1984 for the rights to the mascot forever. They say they hired the firm to create the costume based on an idea they developed but the team says that Harrison Erickson tried to terminate the contract claiming they created and copyrighted the mascot now wants millions of dollars in compensation. The team calling those claims legally baseless.

All right, the Yankees Gleyber Torres swinging his way into the record books with a first inning grand slam in a 4-2 win over the Red Sox last night. The 22-year-old now sits among legends. He's the youngest Yankee to hit a grand slam against Boston since Joe DiMaggio in 1937 and just the third youngest to hit two in a season behind Mickey Mantel and Yogi Berra.

NFL players are rallying to help a former player who suffered a brain injury in September. Neiron Ball was drafted by Oakland in 2015 out of the University of Florida, but before graduating he was diagnosed with a rare brain condition. His health insurance isn't covering the care he needs. Falcon's head coach Dan Quinn and safety Keanu Neal are fellow former Gators. They're trying to help.



DAN QUINN, COACHED NEIRON BALL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: If you would ask the guys on his team when he was playing, "Who is the best teammate you ever played with?" I would imagine, you know, damn near half the team might have listed him as that.

KEANU NEAL, NEIRON BALL''S TEAMMATE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: Him going through this hurts. But, you know, it gives me courage because I know he's a fighter and I know he's fighting through it. I'm encouraged by that.


WIRE: A GoFundMe page for Neiron Ball's medical care has raised $126,000. I'll tweet the link from @coywire.

The Huston Astros trade deadline moves make them Vegas favorites to win the World Series. Well one of their new players stole the show at their introductory press conference. Meet comic reliever, Joe Biajini.


JOE BIAJINI, HOUSTON ASTROS PITCHER: Since you guys are taking so many pictures of us, I'm going to take a picture of you guys really quick. That's pretty cool. The process of getting here was a car to a plane to another car. I was promised therapy puppies and I haven't found them yet but we're looking; listening for barks.


WIRE: I'll also tweet this link out because sometimes it's refreshing when you have an athlete that's not cookie cutter with their responses.

BLACKWELL: Next contract, emotional puppies.

WIRE: Comfort pups.

BLACKWELL: Comfort pups.

PAUL: We need that some days, too, don't we.


Next hour of your "New Day" comes up after a quick break.