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Massive Anti-Government Protests In Hong Kong Sparking Chaos In One Of The World's Busiest Airports; The White House Announcing That The New Wave Of Tariffs Will Now Go Into Effect In December; FBI Raids Epstein's Private Island Mansion After His Death. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 14:00   ET


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They said all available information links the two stabbings together.

The suspect had a USB drive that contains terrorism-related materials. But the incident is not being treated as such because police said that the suspect had no apparent ties to terrorist organizations. Back to you, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you so much, Bianca. That is it for me. NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. Breaking news on this massive anti- government protest in Hong Kong sparking chaos in one of the world's busiest airports.

President Trump now responding, warning that Chinese troops are heading to the border with Hong Kong. Moments ago, President Trump tweeted this, "Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese government is moving troops to the border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe."

This is coming as thousands of anti-government protesters took over the airports massive departures and arrivals halls, blocking security gates, grounding flights now for the second straight day with riot police literally at the front door.

Paramedics tried to push their way through to get to one man who protesters accused of being an undercover police officer. Some people were reportedly hitting him as he just sat there lying on the ground. He lost consciousness and he was eventually evacuated.

Right at the airport entrance, there were police in full riot gear. Protesters used luggage carts just to try to keep them out, and at one point, full blown clashes broke out.

Some demonstrators and police fought each other hand to hand, protesters hitting an officer with his own baton. All of this as passengers have been arriving at the airport for their flights.

There have been scenes of angry passengers confronting demonstrators furious because they can't get on their planes. President Trump speaking out on these protests there in Hong Kong just a little while ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation. It's very tough. We'll see what happens, but I'm sure it will work out. I hope it works out for everybody, including China by the way. I hope it works out for everybody.

It's a very tricky situation. I think it will work out, and I hope it works out for liberty. I hope it works out for everybody including China. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt, I hope nobody gets killed.


BALDWIN: CNN's Will Ripley is with me now. He is actually based in Hong Kong, hoping to get a flight back into Hong Kong, so you can be there tomorrow to cover this for us. But first of all, who are these protesters? What do they want?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These young people primarily who feel that they're fighting for their future, the future of Hong Kong. They know that at 2047 is the year that China takes back full control. Because One Country Two Systems was guaranteed from the handover from British rule in 1997 until 2047.

But the fear in Hong Kong amongst some is that China is moving that deadline up and they've built a bridge that connects Hong Kong, literally to the Mainland. There's a high speed rail line. And you have increasing feeling that China is becoming more heavy handed.

And what triggered these protests was an Extradition Bill proposed by Hong Kong's Chief Executive, Carrie Lam that would have allowed China to extradite suspects back to the Mainland accused of crimes by Beijing.

The concern amongst people in Hong Kong is that those crimes could include speaking out against the Communist Party, effectively stifling freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Hong Kong. That's what started all of this, but it has now devolved into something much darker and much more violent.

BALDWIN: So is China's stepping in and is what the President tweeted about, you know, that the military on the border -- is that what's happening?

RIPLEY: I'm not sure what Intelligence he is referring to. But what we have seen in recent days are a number of videos posted by some Chinese state media showing military armed police assembling in Shenzhen, which if they drive on that bridge that was just completed within the last year, they can get to Hong Kong, military vehicles, Chinese authorities in a very short period of time. A lot of analysts at this stage believe it is still Beijing trying to

send a message almost of intimidation, of warning of what could happen. But look, I think that the Chinese government is slowly building the case, and there might be people in Hong Kong, a large number of them at this stage who would support some kind of intervention, because they feel that the Hong Kong Police have been overwhelmed.

But Beijing has to be very careful because once they make that decision, they're not going to go in halfway. But these are optics, you know, some are already calling it Tiananmen Square 2.0. We're not there yet, but we're getting closer and closer.

BALDWIN: Wow. Well, we wish you safe travels and we'll be talking to you from Hong Kong hopefully in the next 24 to 48 hours. Will Ripley, thank you very much.

Back here at home, Wall Street's recent wild ride continues today, but this time, it is to the upside. Stocks rebounding sharply from Monday's triple digit decline after President Trump backed off a trade threat against China, at least for now.

[14:05:08] BALDWIN: The White House announcing that a new wave of tariffs on items like iPhones, TVs, video game consoles, it's an estimated $300 billion in Chinese made consumer goods will now go into effect in December, instead of two weeks from now.


TRUMP: The stock market is way up today for various reasons including tariffs. Just in case they might have an impact on people, so what we've done is we delayed it so that they won't be relevant for the Christmas shopping season.


BALDWIN: And here are some live pictures of the President there, now in Pittsburgh, where he will be giving a speech touting his policies and their impact on the economy.

But a good day for the Dow. That's not the whole story here. Economists at several top firms now increasing the odds of a recession, and some of them are pointing Trump's trade battle with China and the uncertainty that comes right along with that.

There's also the deficit which grew to $876 billion through the month of July. That is a 27 percent jump from the same time last year. And the White House says the deficit will exceed $1 trillion this year. That is the first time that's happened since the years following the Great Recession.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is traveling with the President. So Jeremy, we saw the President there up on the stage, what's his message today?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Brooke, as you can see, the President has just arrived here on stage and we're at Shell's Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, and here you have many of the several thousand workers who are working to actually build this plant out.

Once it goes into effect, this plant will convert natural gas into one of the key precursors for plastics, and so what you're going to hear the President here talking about is his policies on the economy, his policies in terms of natural gas and energy independence. That's something that he touts very frequently.

Obviously, many of those policies are at the expense of environmental regulations. But make no mistake, Brooke, a big message here for the President is going to be about politics. This may be an official White House event, but we are here in Beaver County, which is one of the key counties in Western Pennsylvania that was crucial to the President's victory in 2016, turning Pennsylvania from blue to red, and he is also pinning many of his hopes for 2020 in Western Pennsylvania this time around as well.

However, he won't be able to take credit for this plant in particular. Shell announced plans to build this back in 2012, but perhaps, what we will hear from the President is that if they do reelect him to a second term, there will be many more plants like this. Certainly, the President standing behind the natural gas industry in the United States -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jeremy, thank you there in Pennsylvania. We will listen. Catherine Rampell is an opinion columnist for "The Washington Post" and a CNN political commentator. So, why do you think the President delayed the tariffs until December?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there were two core reasons. One is that he was really worried about consumer blowback. He actually even said today that he decided to delay these tariffs because he didn't want them to affect the Christmas holiday shopping season, which is a little bit at odds with his claim that consumers are not paying the tariffs. You know, he is trying to save China money for the U.S. holiday shopping season.

But then the other issue, of course, is the risk of recession, right? That economists, politicians, business leaders, business industry groups have been warning that the introduction of this latest round of tariffs is introducing more uncertainty and more costs, and that that could tip the balance here.

BALDWIN: Do you think it's a coincidence that he delayed the tariffs and then boom, he is speaking in Western Pennsylvania on the economy?

RAMPELL: It's hard to say. It certainly seems likely that if he were thinking ahead, that he could have timed this announcement --

BALDWIN: Look at the markets.

RAMPELL: Right, exactly. So that he could say, "Look, the markets are rising. You know, we had a great day with the Dow today." However, of course, the reason why markets are rising is that they had fallen before in response to the threat of tariffs. So again, it's Trump sort of committing arson and then taking credit for putting out the fire.

BALDWIN: Is there any incentive for China to back down from this now that Trump walked back his tougher talk?

BALDWIN: It certainly doesn't seem that way. Look, if anything, he has discredited his own argument that there's no pain for the United States as a result of this trade war, which again, he has been saying pretty consistently until today.

And China has now realized that there is a pain threshold that they can take advantage of, and of course, we have an election next year, they do not. So if anything, it looks like that Trump has basically been caught in a lie that he's been bluffing all along, which, you know, arguably China already knew, but this reinforce that.


RAMPELL: And beyond that, you know, it sort of makes him look weak. If China was going to cry "uncle," they would have cried "uncle" already. It's not clear how announcing the tariffs and then delaying the tariffs and then announcing the tariffs and delaying them again is going to help our negotiating --

[14:10:10] BALDWIN: But why -- because he is running on the strong economy, why gamble like that?

RAMPELL: I think he is genuinely confused about the wisdom of his trade wars. I think, he really doesn't understand what accounts for the trade deficit. The fact that these tariffs do hurt U.S. consumers, U.S. businesses, sometimes that message seems to get through. Again, he seems to have been responding to market declines recently, that we're reinforcing that response.

But, you know, I think he's genuinely confused. And again, the economy is the only good thing he has going for him right now. Arguably, it was the right thing to do by pulling back on at least some of these tariffs, some of them still will go into effect on September 1st, by the way, most of them have been delayed or cancelled.

But, you know, some of the damage has already been done here. Because if you're a business right now, why would you bother hiring, investing, building a new factory, given the uncertainty of the trade environment? Given the uncertainty of the business environment? You need to know the rules of the road, and it's just impossible to know that under this administration.

BALDWIN: Catherine Rampell, thank you very much. We have new details this afternoon in the case of Jeffrey Epstein. What we have learned about FBI raids of his property and how one of the most high profile prisoners in the country was left unmonitored.

Plus, a Michigan police officer is under investigation today. How the discovery of KKK documents hanging up in a frame in his home opens up new questions about the officer's fatal shooting of a black man. And the sacred words on the Statue of Liberty, how Trump's top

immigration official is twisting them to defend the President's new rule.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The FBI has been searching this estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands of uber rich, sex predator Jeffrey Epstein and as agents are investigating, we're learning just who was watching the 66-year-old when he apparently hanged himself in his jail on Saturday.

A source says, at least one of the employees assigned to monitor him was essentially a fill-in guard, not even someone part of the regular detention workforce. Epstein's suicide inside the MCC -- the Metropolitan Correctional Center -- in New York City has robbed his victims of seeing justice against the man who violated them, so say their lawyers.

And the detail here adds to this mosaic of irregularities surrounding his death. The source adds that Epstein's cellmate was moved out the day before Epstein took his own life and that that went against protocol. He was supposed to have a cellmate. The rules state an inmate just removed from suicide watch -- which Epstein had been -- must have a roommate.

Plus, the source says it was hours before anyone we realized Epstein had actually killed himself; also against protocol, which mandates to check on him every half an hour.

Michael Daly is a special correspondent for "The Daily Beast." He wrote this piece about Epstein's prison called, "The MCC, Where Jeffrey Epstein Died, is a Place That Time Forgot." So hello, friend, to you, you've been in there. You've been in the MCC, you said more times than you care to recount. So you know this place. You know how claustrophobic it is, you said it was the first high rise jail ever?


BALDWIN: As far as you know. So how the heck could this have happened? Was it just seriously the lack of guards?

DALY: Well, it's not just the lack. I mean, there were two officers there. I mean, but the question is, who are the officers? And what kind of lives have they been leading?

I mean, more than a year ago, the Officers Union came forward and said, "Listen, there's a real problem at the MCC. We don't have enough officers. The officers we do have are being forced to work overtime, sometimes 16 to 17 hours a day, and then when they get off that, there's no one to relieve them.

So they've got to work another couple hours. And they can't afford to live in Manhattan. So they've got to commute." And some of them just say, "Well, by the time I get home, I'll have to turn around. So I'll just sleep in my car."

BALDWIN: They sleep in their cars.

DALY: I mean, you know, in the middle of the splendor of Manhattan, these guys and women are sleeping in their cars. And so then they go back to a place and coming to be a Corrections officer is a very tough job in any circumstances.

I mean, you're basically doing time with people, and it's a dangerous job. It's emotionally draining. It's depressing. And to add all that on top of it, but then you have -- that was one of the officers on duty.

The other officer on duty was what they call "augment." That means that you received a little bit of training at the beginning of your career. But since then, you've either been a clerk --

BALDWIN: An engineer.

DALY: An engineer, or you've done maintenance or you kept the ventilation going.

BALDWIN: Your job is not to be a scary guy.

DALY: Right. All of a sudden, you get told, "Hey, you're coming in. And you're going to be a Corrections officer." And not only a Corrections officer, but in the Special Housing Unit, which is the unit for discipline and protected people. Right?

So you have -- you're given the toughest assignment in the place, right? And on top of that, you're probably also working overtime. And then you've got to figure that that's been going on for a long, long time, which degrades the whole morale of the place.

[14:20:12] DALY: Because there aren't maintenance people -- enough maintenance people -- the place starts falling apart physically. And when you're in a place that falls apart physically, you start getting a little frayed mentally.

BALDWIN: You mean, falling apart physically, you describe it in your piece, but --

DALY: Yes, you know, you go in there. There's mold, water leaks, roaches, rats. The ventilation doesn't really work. The cells are either boiling hot or freezing cold. It's a mess. And yet in -- the one -- you know, there's always little telling details, and the lawyers, you know, lawyers are not allowed to bring in watches or phones. So they go up to meet with their clients.

First of all, it takes forever to meet their clients because a lot of times there aren't enough officers to get them at door and get them up. And then -- but there are wall clocks, right? So they look at the wall clocks, that's fine. But there's no batteries in any of the wall clocks. So it literally is place that time forgot because the wall clocks don't even work.

And then you say it is conspiracy. There is conspiracy of people -- like most things that happened like that. It is conspiracy of dunces is what it is.

BALDWIN: Conspiracy of dunces. You open and you close your whole piece about Attorney General Bill Barr and how he is calling and demanding like every three hours how this man could have taken his life given the fact that he was supposed to be monitored? And so it sounds to me that this is Bill Barr, but this is Trump's Justice Department. Therefore, this situation falls under Bill Barr.

DALY: It does. I mean, he knew in April, he testified. He knew about augmentation. And there had been a hiring freeze before he got there, and to give him a little bit of credit, he ended that hiring freeze in April.

But you know, if you've got a long term hiring freeze, you know, you can't just -- you don't just all of a sudden get Correction officers the next day, but it's been going on for years, and it's gotten worse, worse and worse.

And that Union more than a year ago, there's a magnificent woman who runs the Officers Union named Serene Gregg, and she more than a year ago, said this is a serious situation. And when I talked to her yesterday, she said, you know, it was inevitable what was going to happen. It was just a question of who.

BALDWIN: A matter of who was going to be able to do what he did over the weekend. Michael Daly, your reporting is excellent. Thank you very much.

DALY: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, a police officer on leave after this KKK document is found hanging on a wall in his home. Hear from the African-American man who actually found it and why it's raising new questions about an old case.

And no more huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Trump's top immigration official is rewriting the words of the Statue of Liberty poem.


[14:27:15] BALDWIN: A man who was just looking to purchase a new home in Michigan says he found racist material inside this police officer's home in Muskegon, which is about three hours outside of Detroit.

He says while checking out the home of Officer Charles Anderson that he spotted Confederate flags, and then it was this -- this KKK application inside of a plaque that was hanging on the wall when he said, "Let's get out of here."

CNN's Nick Valencia is following this one for us today, and so you talked to one of the homebuyers who is now facing threats. What's the story?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been a few days, Brooke since Robert Mathis and his family toured this home, but he says that he is still disgusted and that he debated on whether or not he should go public with what he saw. But ultimately, he felt that not only the public should be made aware, but really the Township patrolled by Officer Anderson, this officer in question that they should be made aware of what he has hanging in his home.

As a result of going public, it was earlier this week, according to Robert Mathis that police arrived at his home to notify him of a credible threat against his family. A post made on Facebook talking about they needed to have eyes in the back of their head. It has terrified his wife and they were both scared by what they saw.

Going into this home, Brooke, they were looking for a home with a lot of acreage. They wanted a bigger home. And when they walked in, they said they saw a whole wing of the house dedicated to Confederate flags. Even the place mats had a Confederate flag theme.

But he said what really shocked him was what he saw hanging on the wall, which was a blank KKK application, and he says everyone has a right to have whatever they want in their home, but what makes this significant, according to Robert Mathis, is that this was in the home of a police officer, somebody who has authority over the community. This is what he told me in our conversation earlier.


ROBERT MATHIS, DISCOVERED KKK ITEMS IN OFFICER'S HOME (via phone): He is displaying the number one hate organization in America. How can you, as an officer of the law, uphold every person's rights and protect the public, have those type of views and make justifiable decisions and do your job at 100% capacity for blind justice? How can you do that?


VALENCIA: Leaving the home, he felt like -- he says, that he felt like he needed to be dipped in sanitizer afterwards, and there's no doubt in his mind, he says he doesn't need to meet Officer Anderson just by seeing what he saw in his home, Brooke. He feels as though this officer is a racist.

We want to be clear, we did reach out to Officer Anderson. He declined to comment. His wife though did give an interview to a local affiliate. They asked her point blank, "Is your husband a member of the Klan?" She laughed. She said no. We should also say that a formal investigation has been launched into this officer who has now been put on administrative leave. Brooke?