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Trump Continues Director of National Intelligence Search; Bouncer Saved Lives in Dayton Shooting; One-Quarter of Greenhouse Gases Attributable to Land Use and Agriculture. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 8, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Is essential to the investigation into President Trump, calling McGahn the most important witness. Former federal prosecutor Shan Wu joins me now.

So an aide for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells us that she signed off on language in that lawsuit that said the committee was trying to decide whether to impeach Trump. Does that indicate to you that the speaker is moving closer to a yes on an impeachment proceeding?

SHANL WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It certainly sounds like she's becoming more publicly open about it. I think internally, she's probably been balancing the strategy behind this for a while. But I think that's a signal, that she's allowed that message to come out.

SCIUTTO: Don McGahn's lawyer in response to this threat, to call him, has said, in effect, "You've got to get a judge to order us." I mean, is that proper here? Because the lawyer's point here is that they're getting conflicting demands from coequal branches of government, the White House saying, "Don't testify," House demanding that he testify. Does a judge have to decide, in the end?

WU: I think that's right. The judge wouldn't have to decide if McGahn just stepped up and volunteered to do his duty as a citizen. But from his lawyer's standpoint, if I were representing him, that's the safe move. I would rather have my client be ordered by a judge to come forward, and really protect him from criticism both ethically, if there's any issues of privilege being asserted later, and also protect him, of course, politically as well.

SCIUTTO: OK. So if they don't get that judge's order, is the prospect of his testimony dead in the water?

WU: Oh, I think so. If the judge doesn't go with them, I mean, you know, there could be an appeal from that obviously. But if the judge doesn't order him, I do not think McGahn will testify.

SCIUTTO: Shan Wu, always good to have your expertise. Thanks very much.

WU: Good to see you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: The search for the nation's top intelligence official, the director of National Intelligence, back to square one after President Trump's first choice, Congressman John Ratcliffe, abruptly withdrew from consideration with a lot of opposition, even from Republicans.

Sources tell CNN that a wide array of candidates, now under consideration by the president to replace the outgoing director, Dan Coats. He steps down in one week. The president is once again seeking input from aides and allies. CNN's Alex Marquardt, he's been covering the story.

So who do we know is on this list? Is it a short list, is it a long list at this point?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right. This is a real reset moment for this White House, after that Ratcliffe episode really went down in flames.

So what the White House is now saying is that feelers are out. They are carrying out a deliberative and diligent process. That has, of course, slowed the process down, not to mention the fact that the White House this week has been dealing with the horrible aftermath of those shootings in Dayton and in El Paso.

The challenge, Jim, as you know well, is to find someone who is both palatable to the president in a way that Dan Coats was not, and someone who can get through --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MARQUARDT: -- Senate confirmation, which Ratcliffe could not.

Now, some of the names that we are hearing on this list -- remember, the president on Friday, he said that he had a short list of three names, after Ratcliffe withdrew himself. And that he might name one of them on Monday. That didn't happen, we don't really know why.

But some of the names that we are hearing, among them are the former NSA director, Mike Rogers; former Georgia congressman, Saxby Chambliss; and the current ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Hoekstra.

Now, we're told that Mike Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, is very much involved in this search. That John Bolton, the national security advisor, and Mike Pence, the vice president, are lending their voices and obviously carry a lot of weight.

But they're casting a wide net in terms of opinions. They've reached out to Richard Burr, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who of course, that's going to be the first hurdle for whoever the nominee is. They're asking other people on Capitol Hill, they're asking other national security experts.

Time is ticking. One week from today, Dan Coats is leaving. And not only that, but the White House has not named an acting DNI. The logical name would be Sue Gordon, who is Dan Coats' number two. It's quite notable that the president hasn't named her. He has said that he likes her, but she is very much part of that intelligence establishment that the president has routinely criticized. SCIUTTO: Right. And claims that they're not on his side --

MARQUARDT: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- although this is meant to be not a political position. Alex Marquardt, thanks very much.

[10:34:13] Coming up this hour, as police investigate the Dayton shooter's motive, we are now hearing from a bouncer from one of the bars there, whose heroic actions may have saved dozens of lives. What that man says he saw in the shooter's eyes, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: As authorities search for a motive behind the Dayton shooting, we're learning new information about the shooter's past. Nine people, including the shooter's sister, were killed in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, early Sunday morning.

Now, one of his sister's friends tells CNN that the shooter once tried to choke her. CNN's Brynn Gingras is in Dayton this morning.

And, Brynn, you look at this, just so many warning signs, it seemed, in this shooter's life --

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- prior. And this, one of the most shocking.

GINGRAS: It really is, Jim, because it also speaks to who might have known, also, about his violent past. Because his mother witnessed this incident, according to this girl.

So CNN spoke to this woman, Taylor Gould. Now, I want to put a time reference on this. She says it happened when she was in middle school and the gunman would have been a freshman in high school, so we're talking about a decade ago.

And she says she was over at the Betts' family home, and she stood up for the gunman's sister, again, who was killed in this horrific tragedy. And at that moment, she says the gunman choked her around -- you know, put his hands around her neck and started choking her. And she says that the only reason he finally let go was because his mother pleaded for him to let go, and she was crying.

[10:40:20] So it really, again, speaks to the fact that the mother witnessed this. This history of violence goes back even further than we may have initially thought, or at least violent tendencies because we're talking, again, about a decade ago and it's just chilling. And the fact of hearing this and probably sticking with this girl, even more so now, but clearly has stuck with her for quite a while, this particular incident -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: All right. So nine people killed on that street where you're standing there, in Dayton, Ohio. We're hearing that someone -- there was a hero Saturday night that might have saved more from dying. What do you know?

GINGRAS: Yes. You've got to love these stories, right? When you hear these heroic stories, coming out of this, even days after. We're talking now about the bouncer of the club right behind me, Ned Peppers.

And I want to tell you personally, I actually spoke to someone who was inside that bar when the shots started ringing out. He told me he leapt on the other side of the bar, and he got down. And he said the whole floor was covered with people, even trampling each other.

But this gunman -- I mean, sorry, this bouncer stopped the gunman from coming inside that bar. We know from surveillance video that police were able to stop the gunman by shooting him. And that's where he was killed, at the doorstep right there. But we're told by him that he actually pushed the door, kept it closed, made sure no one else could -- or the gunman could get inside Ned Peppers.

And even before that, was grabbing people from the street to actually get into the bar to safety. But I also wanted you to hear this bouncer, who just got out of the hospital, his words about what happened that night. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: Did you look at him?

JEREMY GANGER, BOUNCER, NED PEPPERS BAR: Yes. I looked him right in the face. He had a dead stare. I would have died before that guy would have came in. I just -- no way, I was going to let anyone get hurt. I was going to try to stand my ground, best I could. The next thing I know, he's being shot by the officer. I am lucky. I'd do it again, though.

GINGRAS: You would do it again?

GANGER: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: Yes. And just another heroic story. Because, again, that man made sure that door was shut for the people who were inside, and even before that, was pulling people from the street to safety inside that bar. So I know the man I spoke to had a big thank you for him, and I'm sure there are a lot of others -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Small acts of bravery, saving lives. Brynn Gingras, thanks very much.

Some of the world's top climate scientists have a sobering warning for all of us: growing food shortages around the world as the weather gets harsher and more unpredictable. We'll have more when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:47:46] SCIUTTO: They're chilling warnings in a new report. If we want to save the planet as we know it, we need to dramatically change the way we produce food. And if we try to solve the climate crisis by only cutting carbon emissions in cars, factories and power plants, the whole effort, doomed to failure.

These headlines, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, its report, just released this morning. Bill Weir, he covers this story closely, has for years. He joins us now from Crescent, Iowa.

Bill, you've been talking to farmers there. They, of course, experience this firsthand. Here in Washington, this data is political. It's science. Tell us what the farmers tell you.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really interesting, Jim. You know, these guys live on this land, generation after generation. They know this acreage better than any politician, even any scientist everywhere. And what you're seeing is an increasing conversation from both sides of the political spectrum, as to what to do about this.

This spring has been brutal: flash floods and crazy frosts. And so the crop yield in Iowa, here, in Nebraska, all across the heartland is expected to take a hit. This is on top of the trade wars, on top of record debt, the worst since the '80s when Farm Aid was created. So calls to Farm Aid suicide lines are doubling. It's really a grim time.

But what's interesting about this report is, it looks at all the land use around the world, at how we've basically paved and logged and deforested three-quarters of the planet. Which is great for economies, horrible for natural cycles.

The good thing about farmers, they are natural carbon farmers. Even the -- you know, everything here from these soybeans to the corn to these trees, is pulling carbon dioxide out of the air, putting it in the soil. So they're talking about, "What if we had a market that would incentivize carbon farming"?

That would pay somebody, not for producing the cheapest beans, but the most sustainable beans. We could go into the store and, where you've got dolphin-safe tuna, carbon-neutral produce. So these guys could -- you know, men and women could go from becoming a big part of the problem -- this report blames almost a quarter of greenhouse gases on agriculture and land use -- they could go from that to warriors in this fight.

Unlike minors and frackers, who would have to be retrained, you know, install solar panels and whatnot, farmers could make a huge difference right away.

[10:50:07] SCIUTTO: It's a great point because there are innovative solutions to this, where you can incentivize. And then there are other economic benefits. I mean, that's the broader conversation the country needs to have. But, again, it's so politicized, you can't even talk about the facts, you can't even talk about the science. Iowa State Fair begins today. Iowa's got a few farmers in it, as you

know. What's the conversation politically with the new Democratic candidates here? I mean, are farmers there saying to the folks running for president, that this is a priority for them?

WEIR: Yes. In fact, you know, I spent all week here. I've talked to farmers of all political stripes. And to a person, they say, "Look, if you want to win Iowa, we've got to be at the table as we talk about this." What they fear the most, most conservatives, even those who admit human habits are to blame, worry about one-size-fits-all regulation that may not work on their particular farm.

And so if there's ways -- Elizabeth Warren put out her big plan yesterday. It includes a lot of these new ideas, incentivizing farmers to let some of their fields go wild for biodiversity, cover crops, no-till farming, which leaves the carbon in the ground.

There's all this new innovation out of Silicon Valley. Bill Gates threw $70 million behind a company called Pivot, which wants to be for fertilizer, what Uber is to taxis, in using natural materials instead of the -- the, you know, the synthetic stuff that mucks up waterways and creates dead zones.

So there's a lot of exciting ideas. And we've got a climate town hall coming up in a couple of weeks, so it'll be interesting to see --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

WEIR: -- whose plan is better.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I'm so glad you're doing this. Because, like with gun control, right? With the environment, folks throw their hands up in the air and say, "Well, listen, yes, maybe it's bad. There's nothing we can do about it." Fact is, there are solutions. People are experimenting with them, with the success. Bill, we are -- great to have you on the story.

WEIR: My pleasure, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles, blasting USA Gymnastics in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. Andy Scholes, he's been following this story.

You know, this is such an alarming case here. I mean, it was extensive for so many years at Michigan State, and more broadly. What is Simone Biles alleging now?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Jim, Simone Biles was one of the victims of Larry Nassar. She's getting ready to compete at the U.S. gymnastics championship in Kansas City. She's a strong favorite for gold, once again, at next year's Tokyo Olympics.

And, well, basically, Biles, she broke down when speaking with reporters, Wednesday, about the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. As I said, you know, Biles, one of the hundreds of young female athletes abused by Nassar. An 18-month-long congressional investigation found that the U.S.

Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics knowingly concealed Nassar's abuse. And Biles says it's just tough to compete for an organization that didn't look out for its athletes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMONE BILES, FOUR-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: It's hard coming here, for an organization and -- having had them failed us so many times. And we had one goal. We've done everything that they asked us for, even when we didn't want to. And they couldn't do one damn job. You had one job, you literally had one job and you couldn't protect us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And USA Gymnastics responded to Biles' comments, saying while they have made progress in strengthening athletes' safety measures and putting athletes first, they admitted they still have work to do.

Adding, "One of our goals is for our athletes to feel comfortable in speaking up and sharing their opinions... And we are listening to what they have to say. We will continue to work hard to demonstrate to Simone and all of our athletes, members, community and fans that we are working to foster a safe, positive and encouraging environment where athlete voices are heard."

Now, Larry Nassar was sentenced to more than 100 years in federal prison for his crimes. Biles has said she was depressed, and attended therapy to cope with the abuse that she suffered at the hands of Nassar.

And, Jim, Biles says, you know, it's also important that she and the other victims continue to publicly voice their disappointment over how all of this was handled, so that real change happens.

SCIUTTO: Andy, good to have you on the story. It's an important one. Thanks very much.

[10:54:11] And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Police are now searching for a motive after a random robbery and stabbing spree left four people dead, two others injured in Orange County, California. CNN's Paul Vercammen joins us now, live with more.

I mean, just an amazing act of violence, but a mystery as to the motivation?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is right now, though robbery seems quite likely, Jim. And they say, the reason there was so much carnage is he used a large machete-type knife. That is the suspect.

His spree started at his apartment complex, where he stabbed to death, two men. He would then go on to other stops, including a gas station, where he stabbed a man in the back and police say, nearly cut off his nose.

Police also say that he stabbed and killed someone at a 7-11 restaurant -- excuse me -- 7-11 gas station. That was a security guard, and he cut out that guard's gun from its holster. But fortunately, a plainclothes police officer stopped this man before he could fire that gun.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL WHITNEY, LIEUTENANT, GARDEN GROVE, CALIFORNIA POLICE: We have no motive at this point. We don't know. It's just pure hate, this guy who did this.

I've worked here in Garden Grove for 30 years. This is the first time I've ever seen something like this, where we have a suspect kill four people in one day and attacked other people that just are innocent victims.

It's pure evil when this happens, and you don't see this happen every day. This is one of those things you see one time in a career.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And to restate this, Jim, police say that he was searching for cash. Back to you.

SCIUTTO: Goodness, that's horrible. Paul Vercammen, thanks very much.

I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. AT THIS HOUR.

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