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Biden's Weekend Gaffes Worry Some Democrats; Goldman Sachs' CEO David Solomon On The Economy; High-Profile Omissions Reveal Flaws In FBI's Hate Crime Data. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 12, 2019 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- people call them gaffes -- misstatements. In all the articles this morning, as you wake up, about Joe Biden's weekend on the stump in Iowa has been that he's been having this trouble speaking and what does it mean.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. I spent a bunch of time following Biden around to a few events in Iowa in the last couple of days. I will -- and talked to some voters that were attending there.

There is real palpable concern in the political class -- in the Democratic operative world -- wondering if Joe Biden is the right horse that can go the distance here.

Voters -- I didn't get as much of a sense in talking to them. Boone, Iowa, the other day, he did a small event -- about 125 people -- and it was after he had made some of these so-called gaffes, John. And you just did not get a sense from voters that that was very high on their concern list.

So we'll have to see, I think. Obviously, if this becomes a defining narrative of his candidacy and this is all the information voters get, we'll see if voter opinion turns on that. But their initial sense in hearing some of these comments, at least that I was getting in Iowa, was not of great concern.

I will say the thing here that Democrats have, plenty of options. So, the -- while we see time and time again this huge desire to place their money and place their bet on somebody who they think can absolutely defeat Donald Trump -- and right now, Joe Biden sort of is that vehicle -- the moment that gets pierced in some fashion there are plenty of other options for voters to look at.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: The question, though, is obviously, are there too many options because it's hard for them to figure out which one they like.

And, Jeff, when we look at this, what we see from Biden over the weekend -- and to just to piggyback on what you said, David, Maeve Reston has a great piece up this morning as well with a number of voters that she spoke with who brushed off all the concerns. This is not I like this guy for X reasons, and those are a lot of the things we hear in terms of why Joe Biden is ultimately, in the view of many, the most electable. Despite there being that many choices, though, who could fill that void if, in fact, this doesn't work for Joe Biden or if voters start to want someone else?

BERMAN: Well, Jeff Zeleny for that point (ph).

HILL: Jeff Zeleny can do it. Can technology do it?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. That is one of the open -- that's one of the open questions here -- you're absolutely right. I mean, Joe Biden has remained remarkably --

(Audio difficulty)

BERMAN: All right, mad lib. David, you want to finish that?

CHALIAN: I don't quite know how Jeff was going to finish that.

HILL: Remarkably, adjective -- adjective.

BERMAN: If Joe Biden does slip is there another candidate who obviously steps into that position?

CHALIAN: Well, I will tell you right now, the sense on the ground talking to a lot of Democrats there, Elizabeth Warren has that state extraordinarily well-organized right now.

HILL: Yes.

CHALIAN: We've got several months to go.

But I will just say this. I asked a lot of voters because I'm -- I am totally fascinated with this notion of we want someone that can win. And I keep asking the voters how do you know who that is? Like, what metrics are you using to determine that this person can actually win?

BERMAN: When the election is over we'll tell you.


But, one metric that voters will use is when there's an actual vote. And so that's why I think Iowa, which is always important, is going to become that much more important a cycle for Joe Biden, specifically, because if he loses the Iowa caucuses the entire rationale for his candidacy --

HILL: Yes.

CHALIAN: -- goes away.

And so, somebody else, all of a sudden, looks electable and that they could be the one to win.

KAITLIN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. His support is wide but the question is how deep is it. And if he doesn't perform well in Iowa it's not going to inspire a lot of confidence for other voters to want to make him their guy because, of course, they do care about defeating Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is not a conventional candidate. He's not going to be beaten in a conventional way. So that's really the question here.

BERMAN: And, of course, if he survives all of this, it maybe makes him stronger.

CHALIAN: Exactly.

BERMAN: David Chalian -- Jeff Zeleny, our thanks to you in absentia -- Kaitlin Collins, thank you very much.

HILL: Protests shutting down one of the busiest airports in Asia. Why the situation in Hong Kong is escalating this morning.


[07:38:13] BERMAN: We do have breaking news this morning. All flights out of Hong Kong International Airport have been canceled because of huge anti-government protests.

This is such an important airport for commercial activity around the world. As many as 5,000 people swarmed the area outside the security checkpoint this morning.

Violent clashes between pro-democracy groups and police have been erupting throughout the weekend. At least nine people were hurt in Hong Kong's Metro, with officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the demonstrations. Many of the protesters responded with petrol bombs and bricks as they continue to call for the resignation of Hong Kong's leader.

HILL: A source tells CNN Jeffrey Epstein was not being monitored regularly on the night of his death. The convicted sex offender was found dead in his jail cell of an apparent suicide.

A source also says Epstein was alone in his cell which, in itself, is an apparent violation of protocol. He had been on suicide watch in late July but was removed from that watch in late July.

An autopsy this weekend is now pending further information.




BERMAN: That's musician and Ohio native John Legend surprising the families of victims in Dayton with a concert. Legend visited Dayton a week after the mass shooting there that left nine people dead. Before the concert, he met the mayor and toured the city's Oregon District where the shooting took place.

Legend urged people to take action by calling their senators and demanding they vote for stricter gun laws. I am sure that his presence there was welcomed. You could see how warm it was.

HILL: Absolutely.

Fears are growing about a looming trade war. Is there reason to panic when it comes to this country's economic security?

[07:40:01] We're going to get answers in an exclusive interview with the new CEO of Goldman Sachs. That's next.


HILL: Stock markets hitting record highs, interest rates falling, and yet, there are fears about taxes, tariffs, and trade wars -- fears that could disrupt the growing economy.

In a CNN exclusive, Christine Romans interviews Goldman Sachs' new CEO, David Solomon, who says he is optimistic about the country's financial health.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Ten years into an economic recovery, the longest expansion in history, things are -- seem really solid to me. They always say that expansions don't die of old age, they die from policy mistakes.

[07:45:05] What do you see out there?

DAVID SOLOMON, CEO, GOLDMAN SACHS: Well, first, I just want to echo that I think when you look at the base economy, the base economy is chugging along OK. And while it has been a long cycle -- it was a very deep recession the last time -- I know it's a gradual slow climb out. So it's not surprising that maybe this has gone on for a longer period of time.

I think the economy is doing fine. There are things that are getting added to the equation -- in particular, the trade war with China -- that is having an impact. It's having an impact on growth. I don't think that impact is significant yet but we're watching that very, very carefully.

And I think those are the kinds of things -- what's going on with monetary policy, what's going on with trade -- how that's all linked. That has the potential to slow down growth if it's not handled correctly over time.

ROMANS: You've got the president, who is really embarking on a tough trade war with China, and then he's, at the same time, saying that the Fed should be the one to mitigate the damage from his trade war. So in a way, he paints the Fed into a corner a bit, doesn't he?

SOLOMON: Well, it's -- you know, I think it's very, very important that we have an independent Fed. But I would observe -- and this is not just a U.S. observation -- when

you look around the world -- and I think this is the result of the fact that the world has, in some way, gotten used to the very, very significant easy-money monetary policy that's a result of the crisis -- monetary policies -- policy, to me, seems a little bit more attached to markets at the moment --

ROMANS: Right.

SOLOMON: -- and also, politics. And that's something --

ROMANS: Is that healthy?

SOLOMON: That's something to watch carefully. I don't think that is healthy and I think that's something to watch carefully.

And you're right. When you put trade policies into place, they do have an impact on the economy and we have to live with that impact.

ROMANS: American business leaders, for years, have complained about Chinese trade practices and many are -- say the president is doing the right thing but maybe in the wrong way and that's what they're concerned about. That maybe tariffs aren't the right way to do it.

Is there a better way to do it?

SOLOMON: I think that's a complicated equation.


SOLOMON: I'm not a fan of tariffs but we need to find a way to push. You know, personally, I think we've got to be candid and honest about the fact that this is something that's going to be hard. It's going to be hard for all us as Americans. There'll be some friction --

ROMANS: Right.

SOLOMON: -- all of us as Americans -- for pushing at this relationship because we're very economically entwined. But we have to do it and we have to be prepared to see it through and get to a better place because it hasn't been fair.

ROMANS: Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders want to break up the banks. Several of the Democrats want new taxes on Wall Street trades and they say that the superrich should pay to help minimize or ameliorate the income inequality -- the trade -- the income gap in this country.

Do they have the right idea?

SOLOMON: There's no question that we've operated in an industry that has been the focus of a lot of discussion, appropriately, since the financial crisis.

You know, the first thing I'd just say is that legislators in Washington around regulation did a very, very good job in improving the safety and soundness of the system, and that's something that we all benefitted from.

We're in a political election cycle. I have no idea where that election cycle is going to go.

There are a number of things that you talked about that I wouldn't personally agree with I think are good for all of us as Americans in an economy where we can't to create opportunity and bring people along. But we'll have to wait and see.

ROMANS: What about the free college and the wiping out student loan debt, and some of these other ideas that seem to be getting a lot of attention, at least in the primary part of this election cycle?

SOLOMON: We've morphed to a place where I think the rhetoric in the country is that the path to opportunity -- the only path to opportunity is a college education. And it's a path to opportunity but there are a lot of other paths. And you look around the world -- the apprenticeship programs and other skills-based training.

I think there are a lot of paths to opportunity and I think we have to think about programs and where we allocate our dollars to do what we can do to open up opportunity -- continue to open up opportunity to as broad a group of Americans as possible. And I'm not sure that free college for everyone is a plan that will do that.

ROMANS: What role do corporate leaders have in the gun violence debate, and are your employees making any questions or demands of you? Are you -- do you advise companies that are in the gun business or are retailers in the gun business still?

And there's a big difference between political stump speeches and legislative policy. And so, I watch the election like everybody else, but I'd say it's early.

SOLOMON: Well, first, I'd just have to start by saying that my heart just goes out to all the people that have been affected by these horrible tragedies. It's just -- I can't -- I can't imagine what it's like to live through one of these tragedies. And this just has to stop. This has to stop.

We need our government officials, our legislators to come together, Democrats and Republicans, and try to improve the framework for which we all operate.

Goldman Sachs does not do business with people that manufacture assault weapons, bump stocks, high-capacity magazines. That's been our policy for a long time.

We do do business with retailers who sell guns, but we're thinking about what we should do and how we can contribute to this debate.

But at the end of the day, this is not something that private business can legislate. This needs to be legislated by law. And I think it's time for our political leaders to come together on something that's so tragic for our country and make some progress.

[07:50:12] ROMANS: You don't think boycotts are the answer, you think policy is the answer.

SOLOMON: Policy is the answer. This has to -- you can -- at the margin -- at the margin, boycotts create discussion and hopefully, they put pressure on legislators. But we need policy that changes this. If you want real wholesale change, in my opinion, we need policy change.


HILL: It has been two years now since Heather Heyer was killed while protesting against hatred in Charlottesville. Her death, however, is still not listed as a federal hate crime. We'll take a closer look at how Congress is now working to change that.


HILL: Today marks two years since a neo-Nazi ran over and killed Heather Heyer as she protested at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Last month, her killer received a second life sentence after pleading guilty to nearly 30 federal hate crimes.

BERMAN: So why hasn't her death been included in the annual list of hate crimes? CNN's Sara Sidner explains.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The murderous rev of a muscle car driven by a neo-Nazi barreling into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters, injuring nearly three dozen and killing Heather Heyer.


SIDNER (voice-over): Exactly a year to the day before Heather Heyer was killed, a racist shot and killed Khalid Jabara in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

[07:55:05] The two cases made headlines around the world, becoming symbols of the consequences of the rise of hate in America.

So how is it possible two well-publicized hate crimes still do not exist in the annual federal hate crime data reports?

SIDNER (on camera): What was your first thought when you saw this data was missing?

BRO: Well, my first thought was WTF because if that's not a hate crime, what is?

SIDNER (voice-over): CNN wanted to find out why the two cases weren't listed among the federal reports that help illustrate how large or small a problem is. In Charlottesville, we sat down with police chief RaShall Brackney, who took the job about 10 months after Heyer was killed.

SIDNER (on camera): The numbers in the FBI data do not reflect a single hate crime from August of 2017. How is that possible?

CHIEF RASHALL BRACKNEY, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Even the federal government did not categorize this as a hate crime until well after a year later.

SIDNER (voice-over): But the data collection starts at the local level and it was Charlottesville police that initially did not report this incident as a hate crime.

SIDNER (on camera): The fact that this happened at a time when you had literally neo-Nazis coming out into the streets, it seems impossible not to look at this as a bias-based crime.

BRACKNEY: A lot of the information that was being uncovered about the suspect was uncovered after the fact. Most people do not want to make a mistake and categorize something as a hate crime that cannot be proven as a hate crime.

MAYA BERRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN ARAB INSTITUTE: But that's not the federal standard. The idea is not that you have to be in the perpetrator's mind to understand exactly what happened at that time.

SIDNER (voice-over): It was a researcher at the Arab American Institute that first discovered the missing data.

SIDNER (on camera): How did you discover that Heather Heyer's death was not counted as a hate crime?

BERRY: In order to get to that, I actually had to start with Khalid Jabara.

SIDNER (voice-over): For years, the Jabara family, Christians who emigrated from Lebanon, endured harassment by their next-door neighbor, Stanley Majors.

HAIFA JABARA, MOTHER OF KHALID JABARA: He kept saying, "You filthy Lebanese, get out of here."

SIDNER (voice-over): In 2015, it escalated. Majors ran over mother Haifa Jabara, nearly killing her. Police wrote that when arrested, Majors said, "Mrs. Jabara and her family were filthy Lebanese."

Eleven months later, Haifa's son, Khalid, called her to warn her not to come home. Majors was fighting with his husband and Khalid had called 911 because he'd seen Majors with a gun. Khalid was shot while on the phone with his mother.

JABARA: There is not one single day that I don't remember my son.

SIDNER (voice-over): But police still hadn't reported the killing as a hate crime because they struggled with Majors' intent.

SGT. SHANE TUELL, TULSA, OKLAHOMA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Did the murder happen because he was upset that 911 was called or did the murder happen because he didn't like the friendship that his husband had with Khalid or did the murder happen because Mr. Majors didn't like Lebanese people living next door to him?

SIDNER (voice-over): But prosecutors went forward charging and convicting Majors not just of the murder, but of malicious harassment, which is a hate crime under Oklahoma law.

VICKY JABARA, SISTER OF KHALID JABARA: I don't know of a clearer cut case at it relates to hate crime.

SIDNER (on camera): He was charged and convicted under Oklahoma's hate crime laws.

TUELL: Correct.

SIDNER (on camera): Should he have been counted?

TUELL: Yes, yes.

SIDNER (on camera): Would you say it fell through the cracks?

TUELL: When you look at it statistically, I could see how it could be construed as falling through the cracks.

SIDNER (voice-over): Khalid Jabara's hate crime case has still gone uncounted.

These cases illustrate a national problem. Hate crime reporting is not federally mandated. Several states do have mandatory reporting laws but numbers published by the FBI show about 87 percent of police agencies that sent in data reported zero hate crimes in 2017.

In 2018, at a congressional hearing, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin explained the problem this way.

ROY AUSTIN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: We do not have the slightest idea how many hate crimes there are in America and we have never known. The numbers currently kept by the FBI are largely useless.

SIDNER (voice-over): The FBI agrees that the data is not at all accurate because it says it continually faces the issue of underreporting at the victim and law enforcement levels and faces the problem of law enforcement training on classifying hate crime incidents.

The latter is what a new bill is trying to help fix. It's called the "Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act," aimed at fixing the problem by offering funding incentives to departments for reporting hate crimes.

BERRY: People don't understand how data can impact policy and how policy can impact people.

SIDNER (voice-over): But right now, America doesn't know how big its hate problem is. These families say that must change to save the next family from heartache.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SIDNER: Now, the Charlottesville Police Department -- we spoke to them. They said they have updated their hate crime data. They tried to do so in April of 2019 -- April of this year. That incident is finally reflected in the state data, but you will likely.