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Sources: Epstein Left Alone In Cell The Night Of His Death; Police Demonstrators Clash During Unauthorized March; Separatist Seize Control Of Key Yemeni City; Trump Admin Reverses Environmental Policy; Trump Retweets Conspiracy Theory About Epstein's Death; Captive U.S. Journalist Austin Tice Turns 38; Boris Johnson's Senior Adviser a Divisive Figure. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 12, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Breach of prison protocol. Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was left alone in his jail cell and wasn't being monitored the night that he apparently committed suicide.
Hong Kong police escalate their crackdown on protesters, violent scenes in the subway after a day of anti-government demonstrations. And the war in Syria is ongoing but Austin Tice is still held captive after seven years. The parents of the kidnapped journalist are fighting for his freedom.
Thank you for joining us I'm Cyril Vanier. We're live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. New information has surfaced on the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein. CNN has learned that nobody was regularly monitoring Epstein on the night that prison officials say he killed himself.
No guards had eyes on him around the clock. He was not on suicide watch and did not have a cellmate. The politically connected multi- millionaire was a convicted sex offender and was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Epstein was found unresponsive in his prison cell Saturday. Kara Scannell reports.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A source with knowledge of his detention tells CNN that there appears to have been two breaks in protocol. The first, Epstein was placed on suicide watch after he was found unconscious in his cell with marks on his neck several weeks ago. When he was removed from suicide watch, he was supposed to have a cellmate, but for some unexplained reason, Epstein was alone in his cell from Friday into Saturday morning.
Second Epstein was placed in a special housing unit after he was moved off suicide watch. In that unit, guards are supposed to monitor inmates every 30 minutes, even wake them up when they're asleep. That didn't happen according to the source.
These questions are likely to be of interest to the FBI and Justice Department's Office of Inspector General who are investigating how Epstein went from suicide watch to dead in under two weeks. Also late Sunday, the chief medical examiner said an autopsy of Epstein was completed. His cause of death is pending further information. Kara Scannell, CNN Washington.
VANIER: New York Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio has his own questions about what happened to Epstein and the case in general. Here's what he told our Ana Cabrera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I've heard does not make any sense. I don't know how on earth in a federal jail, highest-profile possible prisoner, and a guy who either tried to commit suicide previously or was assaulted, how on earth is he not being watched 24/7?
So something's wrong here. I am not a conspiracy theorist but something is way too convenient here that you know, I don't know how on earth this could have happened. Full investigation are needed right away.
But Ana, the other thing is it goes far beyond this incident in this jail. Everything that we've heard about Epstein, everything we've heard about this ring of wealthy people trafficking and underage girls, that needs to be fully investigated by the Justice Department, by local authorities, anyone and everyone because you're talking about some of the wealthiest, most powerful people in America, and if they commit a crime they should still see justice whether Epstein is alive or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Epstein's death came just hours after the release of hundreds of pages of court documents. In them is the allegation that a British socialite who was a longtime member of Epstein's inner circle assisted Epstein. CNN's Senior Reporter Vicky Ward has reported on Jeffrey Epstein for years and says that the investigation will likely shift focus to Epstein's associates and employees.
VICKY WARD, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: The U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman made it very clear in his statement that this was a conspiracy and that there are other people involved and you know, I think that the face of this now becomes Jeffrey Epstein's longtime girlfriend, the alleged procurer of a lot of these women, Ghislaine Maxwell.
I mean, she was certainly named in the affidavit of Maria Farmer who was one of the women who spoke to me, one of the victims in 2002. And her sister Annie Farmer who stood up in court at Jeffrey Epstein's bail hearing and asked the judge not to grant Jeffrey Epstein bail, you know, told me that she really blamed Ghislaine Maxwell for what happened to her when she was underage because Ghislaine Maxwell was -- you know, she sounded so sort of aristocratic British reassuring.
She told their mother that she would be a chaperone when she invited Annie Farmer, then 16 to come stay with Jeffrey Epstein. So you know, a lot of eyes now on gay Ghislaine Maxwell. The time period 2003 to 2005 that the indictment really focuses on is very much when Ghislaine Maxwell was in Jeffrey Epstein's life.
You know, we know -- I certainly know from the victims who've spoken to me and I think the victim has been reported in the Miami Herald, she was there. She was there in Florida. She was there in New York. So she's got to be I think, you know, a top target for investigators.
[01:05:47] VANIER: Maxwell and her representatives have previously denied that she engaged in sexual abuse or sex trafficking. Violent clashes between police and protesters in Hong Kong are becoming an all too common sight.
At least nine people were injured after police in riot gear fired tear gas at demonstrators on Sunday including in this subway station. More video shows police chasing protesters and throwing people down on the ground.
Demonstrators have accused police of brutality and acting with unwarranted force. But officials have said that they are only cracking down on illegal and violent protesters. Ivan Watson explains why ten weekends on, the tensions keep ramping up.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A collective howl of rage. Residents of a Hong Kong neighborhood join protestors to face down a squad of riot police. They retreat, the focus of so much anger.
This two-month cycle of confrontation resumed Sunday with what police call an unauthorized assembly. Authorities rejected requests for this pro-democracy march, but that didn't stop thousands from joining in.
It was peaceful until a hardcore group came to this neighborhood police station. Hong Kong now is in its tenth straight week of protests. And often it's the city's police stations that become a focus of some of the demonstrators. You can see the officers there on alerts on the station walls.
And this tense face-off there with some protesters in the distance and the police warning residence to close their window.
Using vandalized traffic barriers, they push closer, purling eggs, ignoring repeated warnings from the police until -- the protesters were spoiling for a fight and now they've got one. Squads of riot police storm in a show of force repeated week after week.
In the scuffles, people get hurt both protesters and police. Once the riot police moved in, it took mere minutes for them to clear out thousands of protesters. The Hong Kong government says it's cracking down on violent riots arresting hundreds of young demonstrators.
But at the scenes of these confrontations, some ordinary citizens lash out at law enforcement while others appeal to the city government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please responds to what the students reacted. This is the most important thing. If you don't stand out to explain or to compromise with the students, I think this protest will continue and then there were no ending.
WATSON: This is a city divided and few here see any way out of this mess. Ivan Watson CNN, Hong Kong.
VANIER: In Yemen, a new campaign by a separatist group has made the turbulent civil war even more complicated. The militia has suddenly turned against the Saudi-led coalition and seized the key city of Aden.
The interior minister of the Saudi-backed government there has conceded defeat. He calls the situation of coup. Aden became the seat of that government after Houthi fighters took over Sana'a in 2014. The separatists went on to help the coalition fight the Houthis but now their takeover of Aden is driving a wedge through that frail partnership. CNN Sam Kiley has more.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yemen Saudi-led coalition being blasted away by its own members. Militia backed by the UAE claiming victory over the government that it had been fighting for, vanquishing the government's allies in Isla, an Islamist militia armed and supported by Saudi Arabia.
[01:10:01] AHMAD MAHMOUD, YEMEN'S SOUTHERN TRANSITION COUNCIL FORCES (through translator): We dedicate this victory to the people of the south after we were victorious over the Isla terrorist party.
KILEY: A spokesman for the southern separatists told CNN that they now control the whole of Aden having defeated the very government they had supported in a four-year war against Houthi rebels in the north.
Saudi and Emirati troops vanished from the streets as the two nations saw their alliance collapse around them on the ground.
MOKHTAR AL-NOUBI, CHIEF, 5TH BATTALION OF THE SEPARATIST ARMY (through translator): Today, we achieved a big victory in the capital Aden, and ten battalions were defeated. And at night we took control of the presidential palace.
KILEY: Saudi Arabia has threatened retaliation against any group that does not cease-fire. The separatists told CNN that they would accept a Saudi invitation to talks. But the millions of Yemenis already impoverished by war, this is what their future looks like. Sam Kiley, CNN Abu Dhabi.
VANIER: The fierce fighting in Aden has left at least 40 people dead and hundreds of others injured. That is according to the U.N. which has been trying to deliver food and medical care to civilians there.
The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Yemen says she's heard reports of civilians trapped inside their homes with little food or water. And she says the fact that there's fighting during the important Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha is heartbreaking.
But even those casualties do not begin to illustrate the magnitude of suffering Yemen's civilians are facing. The U.N. says the conflict has triggered the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Of Yemen's 28 million civilians, ten million are facing starvation and 24 million are in need of some form of assistance.
In addition, it says almost 18 million have no clean water and almost 20 million lack adequate health care. The U.N. says the Civil War has shattered Yemen's economy. It has shrunk 50 percent since the conflict erupted more than four years ago.
A hectic scene outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israeli police firing sound grenades to disperse thousands of Palestinian worshippers after clashes erupted. Palestinian emergency services say 14 people were injured in Sunday scuffles while Israeli police say four officers were hurt when protesters threw objects.
Tensions have been high at the site as an Islamic holy Festival coincided with a Jewish holiday this year.
In Norway, now police are investigating a shooting that wounded one person inside a mosque as a possible act of terrorism. Investigators say the suspect, a Norwegian man in his 20s expressed right-wing sympathies online. He's also been charged with murdering his 17-year- old stepsister. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: On the eve of a Muslim holiday, tragedy strikes. At about 4:00 p.m. local time Saturday, a man in his 20s, a Norwegian citizen entered the Al-Noor Islamic Center by shooting through the mosques locked glass door.
According to local media, witnesses say the shooter was wearing all- black, had on body armor, and carried a shotgun-like weapon and a pistol. What happened next made 65-year-old worshiper Mohamed Rafiq a hero to his community.
ABDUL-SATAR ALI, COUNSEL FOR MOHAMED RAFIQ (through translator): Mohamed acted immediately when the shooter entered the room. He toppled the shooter and pinned him to the floor, sat on top of him. After a while, board member Mushtaq came and helped hold him down. Then police arrived and arrested the man.
ABDELAZIZ: Afterwards the suspects home was searched by police and another terrible discovery made. The body of a 17-year-old woman, the gunman's stepsister. Police say the man is a suspect in her murder. The mosque shooting is being investigated as a possible act of terrorism. After it emerged, the gunmen had expressed right-wing sympathies online. On Sunday Mosque members were forced to celebrate the most important Muslim holiday of the year Eid al-Adha at a local hotel. The country's Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited the group and vowed to battle the rise of the radical right.
ERNA SOLBERG, PRIME MINISTER, NORWAY: We're trying to fight this, but it is also difficult. But the police is having a higher priority against hate speech and harassment on the internet.
So we're trying to combat this but it is -- it's a challenge. I think it's a worldwide challenge.
ABDELAZIZ: Yet another world leader struggling to contain the rapid spread of hate and fear. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN London.
VANIER: Stay with us. We'll be back after this.
[01:15:00] VANIER: A fire raging in Spain's Canary Islands forced 1,000 people to evacuate their homes this weekend. The blaze spread across parts of Gran Canary and threatened several neighborhoods. Firefighters said Saturday that they were overwhelmed and "fighting for their island." A local official reports aircraft have been sent in to tackle the inferno along with hundreds of troops.
Heavy monsoon rains in India have left more than 150 people dead according to local government reports. And hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes due to landslides and floods. This here is the scene in southwest India where many have been evacuated and sent to relief camps.
Meanwhile, rescues are ongoing after Lekima made a second landfall in eastern China. Meteorologists Pedram Javaheri joins us with more on that. Padram?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: This was a menacing storm at one point getting up to a super typhoon equivalent, 240 kilometers per hour winds that had weakened significantly on approach to land. But you notice even a category two equivalent system here leaving behind significant damage in a very densely populated environment when the system moved the shore.
And the second landfall were at 175 kilometers per hour which puts it in category two and again coming ashore into the very early morning hours right there across a populated area across Wenzhou.
And the system itself some five million people impacted as it approached land and some 30,000-plus homes damaged. Over 170,000 hectares of crops also estimated to have been destroyed because of this particular storm.
And keep in mind, we had a very quiet run from February until last week where not a single typhoon had formed across the western Pacific. And then in that one-week period, three storms -- three named storms, two of which became typhoons formed across this region, and this particular one brought down upwards of 300 millimeters of rainfall across this region of the Bohai Bay and still beginning to rain itself out across the area.
So still some rain to be had across this particular region in the next couple. Jiangsu in particular, Taizhou as well getting in some heavy rainfall, potentially 150 or more millimeters. But there is another system on approach, and this particular one is Krosa.
This was a typhoon in the past couple of days. It has weakens just a little bit but you notice, there is some organization, some redevelopment here and the models suggest from 100 km/h we bump this up potentially to 120 which would make it a category one equivalent system, and it looks to remain that way as it approaches the southern pre fixtures of Japan sometime we're say Wednesday into Thursday of this week.
So with that said, this is a storm a lot of people are watching carefully and it is a slow-moving system here so a lot of damage potential there on the coast especially when it comes to storm surge which is one of the largest areas of threat when a tropical system. So, Cyril, this story will follow for much of this week.
VANIER: All right, Pedram Javaheri, thank you very much for any update. We'll stay on that story, thanks. Bristol Bay in Alaska is one of the world's great habitats for sockeye salmon. Well, it could be endangered now that the Trump administration has cleared the way for the construction of a new goldmine.
A meeting on the President's plane Air Force One set everything in motion. CNN's Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin has the exclusive details.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The meeting took place on the tarmac during an Air Force One stopover, June 26th. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, a pro-mining, pro-business, anti-EPA governor met with Donald Trump for nearly a half-hour.
GOV. MIKE DUNLEAVY (R-AK): I just got off of Air Force One with President Trump.
GRIFFIN: Dunleavy has been pushing for approval of a massive gold and copper mine known as the pebble mine, planned for Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed, home to the breeding grounds for one of the world's largest and most pristine sockeye salmon fisheries. And after his meeting aboard Air Force One, Dunleavy said this about the president.
DUNLEAVY: He really believes in the opportunities here in Alaska and he's doing everything he can to work with us on out mining concerns.
GRIFFIN: Inside EPA, sources now tell CNN the very next day June 27th, top EPA officials in Washington held an internal videoconference with Seattle and told the staff the EPA was removing a special protection for Bristol Bay, and in essence clearing the way for what could be one of the largest open-pit mines in the world.
That internal announcement was a total shock to top EPA scientists, sources told CNN, because their environmental concerns were overruled by Trump political appointees. Bristol Bay and its tributaries are regarded as one of the world's most important salmon fisheries. Roughly half the world's sockeye salmon come from here.
It's been protected since 2014 when after three years of study, the Obama era EPA used a rare provision of the Clean Water Act to basically veto any mining that could pose a threat. EPA scientists writing a mine would result in complete loss of fish habitat that was irreversible.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER SECRETARY, EPA: It's mind-boggling that it's still being considered at all.
GRIFFIN: Christine Todd Whitman is a Republican, a former New Jersey governor, and under President George W. Bush Rand the EPA. She has joined several other former EPA chiefs to publicly oppose the mine.
WHITMAN: The potential damage is so overwhelming. The opposition to it up there is amazing. Over 80 miles of streams, thousands of acres could be damaged from this project.
GRIFFIN: This is the second time during the Trump administration the political appointees at the EPA have decided to remove special protections for Bristol Bay to pave the way for this huge mine. In 2017, President Trump's first EPA Administrator scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt canceled the protections after a private meeting with the mine company's CEO.
After a CNN report exposed the meeting and the lack of scientific debate behind the reversal, Pruitt back down and put the protections back in place. Now another private meeting this time with the President himself has led to yet another win for the mine and removal of environmental protections for this pristine watershed.
WHITMAN: One of the most troubling things about this administration on the environmental side is this disregard of science. They're gutting science across the agencies, across the departments, across the government.
GRIFFIN: Even if scientists at the EPA are advising you, Mr. President, this is very dangerous to the environment to the fisheries, to the state of Alaska, if the president decides, that's the decision?
WHITMAN: That's the decision.
GRIFFIN: And the only recourse then is for environmental groups to sue?
WHITMAN: Environmental groups, native Alaskans, you'll have a host of lawsuits, I am convinced.
GRIFFIN: Alaska's Governor Mike Dunleavy elected last fall is a huge Trump supporter. He's met with President Trump multiple times, sent this letter to the President asking for a long list of EPA reversals, including what he called the Clean Water 404 veto, a direct reference to Pebble Mine.
A member of his staff used to work on the pebble project in public relations. And at EPA headquarters, Andrew Wheeler, the former coal company lobbyist who now runs the agency has a tie to Pebble Mine too. He has recused himself from decision making on the project because his former law firm represents the mine.
In response to this report, the EPA said those Obama your protections were outdated and this mine would still have to go through approval process. Our sources are telling us it's really a done deal. And when we asked the EPA about that internal meeting on June 27th, at first the EPA denied it even happened, but then we presented them with our evidence, they admitted the meeting took place and our sources say that is when officials told scientists at the EPA the decision on Bristol Bay was made and their work was not needed. Drew Griffin, CNN Atlanta.
VANIER: Conspiracy theories in President Trump's tweets are nothing new nor are his favorite targets the Clintons. We'll look at the latest accusation against them and a few that have gone before. Plus, it's believed that U.S. journalists held for years in Syria is still alive. What his family's doing to try to bring Austin Tice home, that's when we come back.
[01:30:20] VANIER: welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.
Let's look at your headlines this hour.
at least nine people are injured after police and protesters clashed in Hong Kong. police in riot gear fired tear gas at crowds of demonstrators during unauthorized marches on Sunday. Thousands of Hong Kong citizens and pro-democracy activists have held massive protests across the city for ten straight weekends now.
Alejandro Giammattei will become Guatemala's next president. Early returns show the conservative with nearly 59 percent of the vote. He inherits his predecessor's agreement with U.S. President Trump to make Guatemala a so-called safe country for migrants. He has called the accord bad news but it's unclear whether he can change it.
According to a source Jeffrey Epstein's prison cell was not regularly monitored the night that he apparently committed suicide. That lack of supervision violates prison protocol. The multimillionaire was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. A medical examiner performed an autopsy Sunday and said a cause of death is pending more information.
Meantime, President Trump on Saturday promoted a conspiracy theory linking the Clinton family to Epstein's death. CNN's Polo Sandoval is following that part of the story and has more on the official death investigation.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The two investigations are pressing forward. One of them is led by the FBI and the other one from the Department of Justice inspector general's office. As that takes place -- I tell you there is no shortage of conspiracy theories right now that are floating around online including one that has actually been promoted by the commander in chief himself.
Donald Trump, the president who often spreads baseless claims online is at it again. Hours after convicted pedophile and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein took his own life, the commander in chief took to Twitter promoting a conspiracy theory about the death.
The original tweet posted by self proclaimed Trump supporter and comedian Terrence Williams suggested Bill and Hillary Clinton were somehow responsible for Epstein's death, stating "#Jeffrey Epstein had information on Bill Clinton and now he is dead." Williams includes the hashtags "ClintonBodyCount" and "ClintonCrimeFamily".
Angel Urena, spokesperson for former President Clinton, responding writing "The conspiracy theory was ridiculous and of course not true and Donald Trump knows it. Has he triggered the 25th amendment yet?"
While the President was retweeting, his own attorney general William Barr released a statement saying "Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered."
Another federal official told CNN no foul play is suspected. The 66- year-old millionaire was discovered dead in his cell at this Manhattan federal detention facility Saturday morning. AG Barr has even said an inspector general investigation will look into the circumstances of Epstein's death.
There were reactions from both sides of the aisle. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill tweeting "Something stinks to high heaven. How does someone on suicide watch hang himself with no intervention? Impossible. Unless -- "
Criticism from Republican Senator Mark Rubio on Saturday who agreed with scrutinizing the suicide but also wrote, "The immediate rush to spread conspiracy theories about someone on the other side of partisan divide having him killed illustrates why our society is so vulnerable to foreign disinformation and influence efforts."
On Sunday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway attempting to justify the President's retweet.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: And again, this is all speculative. And it is not for me to go further than where the DOJ and FBI are right now. But you do hear different people asking questions and they want to know who else was involved in Epstein's crimes or even just activities? And I guess that that will be revealed in time. SANDOVAL: It's not the first unfounded theory from Donald Trump.
Before becoming presidential candidate he promoted the theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya even then after Obama released his U.S. birth certificate.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Do you accept that President Obama was born in the United States?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know. I really don't know.
SANDOVAL: Early in 2016 Trump ridiculously suggested Senator Ted Cruz's father was involved in the JFK assassination.
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This is nuts. This is not a reasonable position. This is just kooky.
SANDOVAL: Recently Trump wondered about the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
TRUMP: It's a horrible topic but they say they found a pillow on his face which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.
SANDOVAL: Authorities said he died in his sleep of natural causes.
And amid the conspiracies there is perhaps some clarity right now with one source telling CNN that they believe that Epstein was left alone in his cell and the guards weren't checking on him every 30 minutes as required. As for the Federal Bureau of Prisons they've declined to comment.
[01:35:02] Polos Sandoval, CNN -- New York.
VANIER: It's believed that a detained U.S. journalist just spent another birthday in Syria. The latest on efforts to free Austin Tice when we come back.
VANIER: A U.S. journalist committed to getting the story straight, willing to go where many wouldn't, just spent another birthday in captivity. Austin Tice went to Syria as a freelancer in 2012. In an op-ed his parents say that he wanted to raise awareness about the consequences of urban warfare especially for children.
Well on Sunday Tice turned 38, almost seven years after being detained near Damascus. His parents say his 31st birthday was the last one that they spent with him.
Now they are calling on the Trump administration to bring their son home. They want people to petition lawmakers and the State Department in an effort to secure his release.
Joining me is Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Robert, I unfortunately, sadly have to ask you -- start with the hardest question. How do we know at this stage that Austin is even alive?
ROBERT MAHONEY, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: Well, publicly we don't have any information but we are all working on the assumption from the family and from the U.S. government that Austin is alive.
VANIER: What else do we know?
MAHONEY: Well, after he was taken IN August of 2012, about five weeks later there was a YouTube posted video which we believe showed him with his captors and that video lasted only 43 seconds I believe. And since then absolutely nothing.
So his parents, his family, his colleagues haven't heard a word about his fate since that time. That's seven years ago.
[01:39:57] VANIER: We don't know who his captors are or what they want?
MAHONEY: No, we don't. But the family believes that giving publicity to the case will be helpful which is why remembering him and honoring his work, we believe is the right thing to do.
VANIER: But again -- so we don't know if it is the militia, we don't know if it can be linked to the Syrian government. I ask that question because I know the family believes that the Syrian government could be of assistance. We have no idea who the captors may be connected to?
MAHONEY: Not that I'm aware of. The thing is that the family believes the publicity will help his case. We know that he was taken in what was then a rebel-held area of Damascus but we don't know what happened to him after he was taken at the checkpoint.
He was -- he just celebrated his 31st birthday and he was on his way to leave Syria to go back to Lebanon when he was taken. Since then, as I said, there's been no word but the family and organizations like the Community to Protect Journalists and Austin's colleagues have been calling upon the government of Syria, the government of President Assad and the U.S. government to do all they can to bring him back.
And there is an FBI $1 million reward offered to anyone who can provide information that could lead to his release.
VANIER: And has there been information provided based on that offer?
MAHONEY: You know a lot of these contacts are secret. We don't know, I have no information about who, if anyone has ever contacted the FBI on that but we know that obviously he is still missing so the reward has probably not been taken.
VANIER: Is the U.S. government doing everything it can in the case of Austin Tice? MAHONEY: We -- it's working behind the scenes. And it is making a
public statement of support, we can only assume good faith. The government has been in touch with the family since the beginning and, you know, the family is working with the government. So I just assume that everything that can be done is being done.
VANIER: But that means, in fairness we don't know. I mean we just don't know how hard they're working on this. We can't tell. We can't judge just because we have no information.
We do know one thing. The family must, to some degree, feel that public knowledge of this case will help. But we don't even know how they feel about the government's efforts of this.
But they are asking the public. I just want to say this again. They are asking the public to get in touch with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and ask him to continue his efforts or even do more?
MAHONEY: Yes, I believe that, you know, continuing to lobby the government to do its best is absolutely necessary. I mean, I think that we have to understand that these issues are incredibly difficult, kidnappings --
MAHONEY: -- and what we want to do is everything that we can to help, we don't want to do anything that might hinder contact. I know that Austin's parents Mark and Deborah Tice have been to Beirut many times and have done everything that they can to get governments, diplomats, organizations to bring influence to bear in whatever way to get him released.
The problem is that there is an informational black hole here and a lot of the time we just don't know who is holding him or where they are holding him.
VANIER: Austin was a freelancer when he was taken. He was working -- covering the war in Syria as a freelancer. Meaning he wasn't a full time employee of a network, or a newspaper, or affiliated to a newsroom. Do you think that has hurt his case that he hasn't had that infrastructure behind him from the word go?
MAHONEY: I think that everyone has rallied around -- look freelancers do not have the institutional support of a single employer as someone who might be working for CNN or the "Washington Post".
But Austin did contribute reporting to the "Post", to McClatchy, to Al-Jazeera and other organizations. Organizations like mine are taking up his case too, so I think the fact that he is a freelancer made it difficult for him to have those resources and that information at the time that he was deployed in Syria.
And since his disappearance seven years ago I know that journalists generally and news organizations have improved the safety advice conditions, insurance, and other ways for freelancers to better protect themselves when they do deploy to conflict zones. VANIER: Robert Mahoney -- thank you for your time today. We do not
forget Austin. And we wish the absolute best in all the efforts to bring him home. Thank you.
MAHONEY: Thank you.
[01:44:54[ VANIER: He's been called Britain's answer to Steve Bannon. Dominic Cummings is the man many see as the brains behind new Prime Minister Boris Johnson. We will take a closer look at that when we come back.
VANIER: He's been in power for a little more than two weeks. But increasingly it is Boris Johnson's special adviser Dominic Cummings, the controversial mastermind behind Brexit, dominating the headlines.
As Nina Dos Santos reports -- stay with us.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A genius to some, arrogance to others -- just two weeks into his job Boris Johnson's most senior adviser cuts a divisive, if dressed-down, figure in Downing Street.
ANDREW ADONIS, PRO-REMAIN LABOUR PEER: He hates the current political establishment including in his own party. It's so important to understand that there's almost nobody that Dominic Cummings likes in politics.
DOS SANTOS: In 2016 he was credited for masterminding the winning vote Leave campaign fronted by Johnson.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Do you think they've won? No, they haven't.
DOS SANTOS: A seminal moment in Britain's recent history immortalized by Benedict Cumberbatch in the Channel 4 drama "Brexit the Uncivil War".
[01:49:58] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone knows who won.
We want to return to a time where we knew our place, when things made sense.
It will lead to a significant disruption in the commission ECJ (ph) institutional architecture.
DOS SANTOS: But after refusing to answer questions on whether his campaign misled public he was held in contempt of parliament.
DOS SANTOS: And that has made him a wholly inappropriate choice for such a prominent role, say a pro-remain MP. ADONIS: The combination of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings is very dangerous. Cummings is very much to Boris Johnson what Steve Bannon was to Donald Trump. He is the brains and a massively destructive force.
DOS SANTOS: This former colleague says Cummings is just what the country needs now.
GABRIEL MILLAND, FORMER U.K. CIVIL SERVANT: He's not a member of the establishment And he's not really a member of the elite. He works better outside it. He doesn't particularly want to be liked, either. Not actually quite powerful.
DOS SANTOS: Cummings has often talked about respecting the will of the British people who voted narrowly in favor of leaving the E.U. two years ago. However with a working majority of just one seat, his boss Boris Johnson won't have an easy ride forcing a no deal through parliament which is why some say Cummings wasn't just hired to deliver Brexit but instead to fight an early election.
The U.K.'s already extended departure date is October 31st, unless the government sanctions a last-minute reprieve. But that departure less than three months away the only question is, which one will come first?
Nina Dos Santos, CNN -- London.
VANIER: It isn't just American football players who are taking a political stand on the field. They are joined by a gold medalist at the Pan-American Games in Peru. A fencer named Race Imboden knelt during his team's medal ceremony as the U.S. national anthem was played. He was one of two Americans who made an overt protest during the games.
Hammer throw gold medalist Gwen Berry, raised her fist while she was on podium. Imboden is also known for being an Olympic medalist, competing both in London in 2012, in Rio in 2016.
My colleague Fredricka Whitfield spoke with him earlier and asked him if there was a specific moment that led him to make this statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACE IMBODEN, ATHLETE: I think that the catalyst was certainly the shootings this past week and being overseas and not being home and being an athlete who is on the road a lot and seeing the terrible things that were happening and wanting to evoke change. And I don't have a big platform and at the time I was trying to speak to those people who followed me.
And you know, I'm a fencer and for a lot of people I believe that I represent white privilege and I'm in a sport that is probably mostly wealthy elite. And I thought it was time that a different face stepped up. And in this case I followed, you know, Colin Kaepernick and the other athletes in the NFL that have been protesting. And you know, I decided to take a knee and join them and represent and protest in my own way.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And so you're following suit, you know, Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players but you also see that, you know, Kaepernick has paid a big price. I mean he's not playing. He's not, you know, he's not on a team right now.
And did you think about a potential consequence when taking the knee in the spirit of Colin Kaepernick taking the knee, wanting to call attention to injustices in America. He has said very clearly that it's not about a lack of respect or a lack of patriotism in honor for America but making a statement because of these injustices.
But he paid a price and is paying a price. So what about you? Do you worry about your longevity in the sport?
IMBODEN: Yes of course. I think that fencing is something that's near and dear to me. It's what I love to do. It's why I get out of bed in the morning. And at the same time there was a moment for me and in that moment the weight of what was going on in the world and the things that I had to say felt heavier than that of that moment, than earning that gold.
And I felt like it was necessary to say those things and to maybe just evoke one person to see it or to change your mind or even take action against, you know, any of those causes that I listed before. And of course I'm fearful of that. Of course.
I mean it would be devastating for me to not be able to fence. But I can't say that regret taking a stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: K-Pop boy band BTS is taking a break from performing. The young music stars announced that they're taking their first hiatus since their debut in 2013. The group's management calls it a well- needed vacation to give the teen idols time to rest and recharge. There's no word yet on what they will do with their free time but fans are being encouraged to let the members enjoy their private time off.
[01:55:04] Also Ohio native John Legend paid a visit to Dayton, one week after a shooting there left nine people dead. The singer held a surprise concert for the families of victims.
VANIER: (INAUDIBLE) businesses in the area where the shooting happened and called on lawmakers to do something and push for gun law reform.
VANIER: Thank you so much for joining us this hour. I'm Cyril Vanier.
Another hours news is up next with Rosemary Church. You're in great hands. Have a good day.
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