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CNN NEWSROOM

Officer On Leave After KKK Documents Found In Home; Top Immigration Official Tweaks Lady Liberty Poem; Whitney Cummings Shuts Down Extortion Effort; Warden At Epstein Jail Temporarily Reassigned & Two Staffers On Leave; Another NYPD Officer Dies By Suicide, Eighth This Year. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They asked, 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?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: So let me ask, on that last point, they've launched an investigation. Are they looking at past cases? How will they approach cases going forward?

VALENCIA: According to our local affiliate, this same officer shot and killed a man in 2009, a shooting that was found to be justified. That man was a black man said to be running away from an officer after they got into a scuffle in an alleyway.

According to Robert Mathis, again, the man who toured this home, his family wanted to buy this home, he says it raises a lot of questions as to what kind of encounters this officer had, particularly with people of color, and whether or not they were treated fairly.

According to Mathis, this raises all sorts of questions. And I'm sure a lot of people have questions as well -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: What a story.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Let us know what they find.

Nick Valencia, thank you very much.

It is being called possibly one of the worst nuclear accidents since Chernobyl. And now Russia asked a village nearby to evacuate and then called it off. What we know about the radiation fears there.

And actress and comedian, Whitney Cummings, is taking on the trolls who tried to use a nude photo to extort money from her. We're going to talk about the brave way she's very publicly turned the tables.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:35:51] BALDWIN: The Trump administration has been trying to revise American immigration laws since the president took office, but today his chief immigration officer suggested that this precious piece of American history be rewritten.

In an interview with NPR, Ken Cuccinelli was asked about the administration's new rule for those seeking legal status and a possible penalty for using public benefits like food stamps and welfare, even if they are employed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST, NPR (voice-over): Many people in those jobs don't make enough money to make ends meet. Are they less qualified to become American because they earn less?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION SERVICES (voice-over): If they don't have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare, that will be counted against them, yes. And that is the point of the rule.

MARTIN: Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus' words etched on the Statue of Liberty, "Give me your tired, your poor," are also part of the American ethos?

CUCCINELLI: They certainly are. Give me your tired, your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: You just heard NPR's Rachel Martin's voice there. She is the reporter who conducted that interview.

Rachel, thank you so much for joining me today.

MARTIN: You bet, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So your reaction when he said that back to you?

MARTIN: Well, you know, it was a little surprising to hear Mr. Cuccinelli actually revise Emma Lazarus' poem on the spot in real time.

But obviously, President Trump has made illegal immigration a key part of his platform and his time in the White House.

I think what's notable here, is this is about legal immigration. This is about people who came to this country, did everything right, crossed their "Ts, dotted their "Is.

They're working in some cases, as was illustrated in that clip, and can't make ends meet for whatever reason for a couple of months a year, perhaps, need to get on public assistance. That's now going to be a major ding against them. Their application for a green card can either be delay ordinary outright revoked. And that is a substantial change in how the U.S. government has

determined who gets to be an American citizen.

BALDWIN: Well, there's now more to this conversation you had with Ken Cuccinelli, because the president of the United States was just asked about his comments to you. Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am tired of seeing our taxpayers paying for people to come into the country and immediately go onto welfare and various other things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So do you think the president just took this a step further?

MARTIN: Well, you know, what the administration is going to have to grapple with -- and this is the complicated part of this rule change -- this is about looking into a crystal ball and trying to predict the future for people.

Because, yes, this is going to affect people who are already on public assistance, right? That's going to be a red flag on their applications.

But this is also about people who the administration is going to try to determine whether or not they could go on public assistance. So that's a whole different game. Looking at a life and trying to measure, is this person going to be a successful American, and how do you determine that.

BALDWIN: How do you figure that out?

MARTIN: The entire American dream is built on the idea of defying the odds. And this seems to run counter to that.

BALDWIN: And again, the rule change goes into effect October 15th.

I want to play one more clip. I remember this happened during our show just a couple of years ago, because this isn't the first time the administration has disregarded that famous inscription on Lady Liberty.

This was Stephen Miller speaking to our own Jim Acosta. This was two years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Statue of Liberty says, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." It doesn't say anything about speaking English or being a computer programmer.

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty and light in the world. It's a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you're referring to was added later and is not part of the actual original Statue of Liberty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: By point just being, Rachel, why does this administration not seem to understand the significance, the symbolism behind this poem and this monument?

[14:40:02] MARTIN: Because they'll say it's not the law. That Emma Lazarus' poem is a poem.

But I think what people are having such a hard time with is those words have bearing on how we see ourselves. It is part of the American story.

If America is a country about ideas, which it is, this runs counter to that idea that you can come to this country with nothing. How many stories have you heard? I came to this country with nothing. My father came with nothing. My father came with nothing.

BALDWIN: So many.

MARTIN: And we made a life here. And they became successful Americans.

And that is the core of what this is about. Trying to decide, who gets to come in, who's worth the risk.

BALDWIN: NPR host, Rachel Martin.

Rachel, thank you.

And I should also point out, Ken Cuccinelli will be on Erin tonight at 7:00 Eastern here on CNN.

Rachel, thank you very much.

MARTIN: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: The president just claimed the top Republican in the Senate now supports background checks. Butt Leader Mitch McConnell's office is actually saying something different.

Plus, a rash of suicides is rattling the New York Police Department now that another officer has taken his life. What is being done to help these officers in crisis?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:46:07] BALDWIN: A comedian is taking on social media trolls who tried to extort her by beating them to the punch. Stand-up comic, Whitney Cummings, says she accidentally posted a partially topless photo on Instagram and, before she could delete it, some people screen grabbed the image and demanded money to keep it private.

Her response? She tweeted the original photo for the entire world to see.

And we've censored the photo, because we're on television.

But Cummings says, quote, "When a woman in the public eye is extorted, we have to spend time, money, and energy dealing with it, hiring lawyers and security experts, and living with a pit in our stomach about when and how we will be humiliated. You all can have my nipple, but not my time or money anymore."

Areva Martin is a civil rights attorney and a CNN legal analyst.

I mean, good for you, Whitney Cummings.

What do you make of the way she's publicly fighting this?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hashtag girl power is all I could say.

BALDWIN: Yes.

MARTIN: When I saw her response, I was like, yes, go, Whitney. Reclaiming her power and her image!

And what a way to say to would-be, you know, people who would try to extort others and use their image in this way, what a way to say to them, I will not be bullied. I will not be intimidated. And I'm not going to pay you any money! That's what I love about her response. It was so powerful and so forceful.

And I think it sends a strong message, for those who would try to extort others. Not this woman, not on her watch.

BALDWIN: Don't mess with Whitney Cummings.

Now, she also said that she is not going to post the names of some of these extortionists, because she said, to quote her, "some of them just might be dumb kids."

But if she chose, Areva, if she chose to hand over some of those threats to police, what kind of legal trouble could they actually be in?

MARTIN: Well, significant. Because about 30 states now, Brooke, have these revenge porn laws, which essentially make it a crime for someone to use an image, an illicit image of you and try to extort money from you, you know, threaten you. That, if you don't pay me "X" amount, I'll publish this photograph, this new photograph to the world. That's a crime in about 30 states.

There's not only the criminal aspect, but also civil penalties. She could also, you know, find out who these people are that sent her these messages and file civil lawsuits and seek civil damages from these individuals.

But I also love that, you know, she's not going to do that. You know, I'm a lawyer, so I love when lawyers get hired. That's what we do to make a living. But she said, no lawyers, no investigators, because this just might be some dumb kid that's trying to, you know, get some publicity for himself.

And she says, rather than do this, I'm going to just publish this image. Anybody that wants to see it, look. Here it is. Have at it!

Not only is she making a powerful statement, but perhaps saving someone that might find themselves in a lot of trouble.

BALDWIN: I hear you on the message about her. Like, people shouldn't be messing with her because of how she's responding the way she is.

But do you think, overall, as you point out, revenge porn is a thing, do you think this will send a broader message to people, just don't do this?

MARTIN: Yes, I hope so. We've seen a lot of high-profile cases where celebrities have had their social media accounts hacked and people have gotten access to their nude photographs, and they've had to go to the police and had to launch investigations and they've had to even file civil lawsuits as well as go to prosecutors' offices and file claims.

So there's recourse if this does happen to you. And I encourage anyone that finds themselves in this position. Because you might not have the platform that Whitney has. She's a stand-up comic. She's on Netflix. She has this huge platform, so she's able to do this and gain media attention.

Someone who doesn't have her platform may not find themselves in that same situation. And they may have no recourse, with other than going to the authorities. And I think, and I encourage those people to do so.

[14:50:04] Because you should not be extorted. You should not be bullied. You should not be intimidated. And you should not be publicly ashamed for pictures that you take of yourself or you have others take that belong to you.

Because you control your own image. And you should be the one to decide whether it's published to the world or not.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

Areva Martin, thank you very much.

MARTIN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Moments from now, a new development into the investigation in that mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. Officials are about to hold a news conference. We're standing by for news there.

Also, the president blinks in his trade war with China. The big move he just made as more warnings come from Wall Street.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:55:07] BALDWIN: Breaking news now in the case of Jeffrey Epstein. The Justice Department has now temporarily reassigned the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.

Let's get right to justice correspondent Jessica Schneider.

Jessica, what's the story here?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, the Justice Department just now announcing these significant changes at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, of course, all in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide over the weekend.

So what the attorney general has just announced is that they are temporarily reassigning the warden of MCC. He will be moved to the Bureau of Prisons northeast regional office. This is all while the FBI and the inspector general, their investigations play out.

In addition, the Bureau of Prisons has also placed the two staff members who were assigned to Epstein's cell, they are now being placed on administrative leave. Of course, again, all while these investigations play out.

And we heard from the attorney general yesterday and over the weekend. He did not hold back, Brooke, in his emotions. He talked about how appalled and angered he was by Epstein's apparent suicide.

And then he mentioned yesterday at a talk down in New Orleans, he talked about the apparent irregularities at MCC, the correctional center where this apparent suicide happened over the weekend.

And you know, now, the DOJ through the Bureau of Prisons, they are taking swift action here. So a new acting ward has been named to fill that slot from the warden that has now been moved.

That new ward will be taking over from Otisville Prison, just north of New York City, where Michael Cohen is actually serving his sentence. That warden will now move to MCC to oversee it.

And then, of course, you have these two staff members who are being put on administrative leave.

And, Brooke, we reported last night that on the night of Epstein's suicide, at least one of those two employees on duty was just filling in as a guard. You know, it wasn't part of the regular detention workforce. It's unknown really what that person's regular position was.

So now a lot of changes at this correctional facility, all as these investigations from the FBI and the inspector general are ongoing here -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Jessica Schneider, thank you for the update. Warden reassigned. We got it!

We're also learning that another officer with the New York Police Department has died by suicide. His death marks the eighth NYPD officer to take his life this year. Six have happened since June, already double their yearly average.

CNN National Correspondent, Brynn Gingras, is with me now.

And I know you talked to the commissioner about this recently, but what's going on!

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, that's the question, right?

BALDWIN: So tragic.

GINGRAS: This is so tragic and these are not the records they want to be setting at this point. We know that.

Let's talk about this officer. What we know about him, he was 35 years old. He was on the force for just seven years. There were officers who were texting me today saying, he wasn't even on that long. He was assigned to do detail around Yankee Stadium.

And he took his own life not while on duty. He was off-duty. There -- you know, he left a suicide note. That hasn't happened yet, at least as far as we know, with other suicides that have happened.

So maybe that will give us some insight, some answers, or at least the department some answers to try to help figure this out.

Because they're doing steps, they're making moves, they're evolving as the commissioner told me. But there's still work that needs to be done, clearly.

BALDWIN: What did Commissioner O'Neill say?

GINGRAS: He was so emotional when sitting down with us.

BALDWIN: Yes.

GINGRAS: Commissioner O'Neill has always said he's a cop's cop. So he takes these personally. And I sat down with him after seventh suicide. And he had just gotten back after consoling that family. He was quite emotional.

One of the questions, aside from talking about the protocols that they are putting in place, which is peer-to-peer counseling and getting the chiefs some training, he talked about his fears.

And one of those questions I asked him is, are you scared this is going to happen again, remember, before today? Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: Are you scared it's going to happen again? When you --

JAMES O'NEILL, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Am I scared? I've got to be honest with you, yes, I am. You know, maybe there's somebody out there right now that's in crisis or approaching crisis and is just unable or unwilling to come forward.

This is a job that's difficult, but it's necessary. And when we do it effectively, we save lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: You know, and the commissioner admits, Brooke, that there's not all good cops. There are some bad cops, right? But he says if the community could somewhat just help ease the burden on how much cops have to go through, that might also help, aside from all the changes that they're making in the department.

He said, they don't live separate lives. It's not like when we go home from work, we can put work aside maybe and spend time with our family. They see murders and they see people in the worst conditions possible. And then they go home.

[15:00:02] And he said, you know, who are you going to talk to about that? You can't talk to your wife or your kids about that. You have to internalize all of that. And they think that's a big problem, along with the stigma with coming forward.