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Union Workers Given Ultimatum On Trump's Speech: Attend The Event Or Lose Overtime Pay; Gun Control Groups Hold Rallies, Confront Lawmakers In Their Home Districts; Police Say Man Seen Leaving Rice Cookers In NYC Now In Custody; Faith & Politics Intersect As Democratic Hopefuls Pitch To Black Voters; Economic Concerns Raise Political Risks For Trump; Farmers Concerned Over Long-Term Impacts Of Trade War With China; Was Russian "Super Weapon" Behind Nuclear Incident?; Three Women Files Claims Against Epstein's Estate Following His Suicide; Survivors Recount Devasting Mass Shooting, Are Searching For Answers; Dramatic Video Shows Dale Earnhardt Jr. & Family's Escape From Fiery Plane Crash. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired August 17, 2019 - 13:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:00:36] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

New information today. CNN is learning workers who attended President Trump's speech on Tuesday at a Pittsburgh chemical plant were told that they had to attend and there were other conditions.

CNN's Sarah Westwood is live for us in Berkeley Heights where the president is wrapping up his vacation.

Sarah, you just got wind of this reporting and CNN has a copy of a memo that authenticates this. Explain what's at issue here.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Fred, President Trump traveled to this Royal Dutch Shell petrochemical plant on Tuesday to deliver an official speech. And workers there were told that they technically did not have to attend the event, but if they didn't, they would either have to use a paid time off day, PTO day, or they would have to take a day with no pay.

And if they didn't attend the event, they wouldn't be eligible for all of their overtime pay for the week, they wouldn't meet the overtime threshold.

Some workers were also instructed not to protest the president or do anything at that event that could be interpreted as resistance.

This was an official White House event. It was not supposed to be a campaign event. It was taxpayer funded. Supposed to be about promoting U.S. energy dominance.

But President Trump did take the opportunity to promote some of his campaign high notes, including by imploring union leaders there to support him politically. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to speak to some of your union leaders to say I hope you're going to support Trump, OK?

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: And if they don't, vote them the hell out of office because they're not doing their job. It's true.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: Vote them out of office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now, in that memo that you mentioned, Fred, workers were told that their union leaders had agreed to this kind of arrangement ahead of the event.

A spokesman for Shell tells our colleague that Shell was not one that distributed that memo. It read, in part, "Your attendance is not mandatory. This will be considered an excused absence. However, those who are not in attendance will not receive overtime pay on Friday."

Shell would not say how many or if any of its workers did end up exercising that right to take a PTO day, to take an unpaid day off to avoid attending the event.

But certainly, it seems, Fred, President Trump had something of a captive audience at that event that official event that definitely veered into political territory on Thursday.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

In the aftermath of two mass shootings and a nation on edge, gun safety groups are taking to the streets in all 50 states today. The rallies, organized by Every Town for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, are set to take place in more than 100 locations this weekend in response to mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

With U.S. Congress in the midst of a long summer break, the so-called recess rallies are aimed at pressuring lawmakers to change gun laws in America. In some cases, protesters plan to show up at Senators' district offices to demand action on background checks and red flag laws.

One of those rallies is getting under way right now in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 22 people in a rampage two weeks ago.

CNN's Natasha Chen is there for us.

So people are gathering, Natasha? NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. We're seeing all the

setup happening. Within half an hour, we'll see the first speakers, including Congresswoman Veronica Escobar.

This rally is slightly different from the others around the country. The organizers here tell me they feel very empowered knowing all these other rallies are happening. But this was organized in a grassroots fashion, not by those organizations you mentioned, though, they did get help from Moms Demand Action.

I'm here with one of the organizers, a college student, Sophia Badarama.

Sophia, you grew up in El Paso and now go to U.T., El Paso.

SOPHIA BADARAMA, PROTEST ORGANIZER: Yes.

CHEN: Tell me why it was important for you to do this?

BADARAMA: Because it's my city and I feel like it's been giving me so much impact. It impacted me so much. I feel like El Paso has given me a home and giving me enrichment and culture. I had to give back. They're my people regardless. Regardless of if I know them or not, they're my people.

CHEN: What is the message that you want people to hear from what really is a lot of young voices today?

[13:05:03] BADARAMA: We want to encourage young voices. I'm 19 myself. I want even middle schoolers to come out and talk about what's happening, the facts, and not sugar coat things. I think people overlook us because we're young and I feel like young voices should be heard.

CHEN: What do you want the lawmakers at the national level to hear? I see a sign over there that says, "Ban assault weapons." Is that what you want them to do?

BADARAMA: Personally, I feel like it's something that I want action. I feel like there's not action being done right now. I don't see any action going on.

I think a lot of people have been saying, oh, yes, we'll do it, we'll do it but there's nothing really. And I feel like, especially what Beto O'Rourke has been doing, he's been going around, he's been going to a lot of the funerals and going to a lot of amazing events like this. He's been doing change. He's been talking about it. And by not sugarcoating stuff, it will get it done.

CHEN: I know there are a lot of people here to support your cause today. You're registering voters, I hear?

BADARAMA: Yes, we have a lot of registrations going on, which is really exciting. I know when I was 18, I was excited to vote.

CHEN: Excellent. Definitely, we're hearing a lot of civic engagement from young people,

Fred. People excited to be together at a time when this community is truly still grieving and mourning this loss from two weeks ago.

We're seeing a lot of events where people just want to be together. And this is an example of the young people in town wanting to take action instead of passively sitting at home -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: Using that moment to galvanize something else.

Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

Now to a story developing right now. The NYPD says it has detained the man seen in surveillance video dropping off rice cookers around the city. Early Friday morning, authorities discovered three rice cookers at two different locations. Two of them were found at the Fulton Street subway station, one of the busiest transit hubs, the other rice cooker located near a garbage can a couple of miles north. All of those devices were eventually deemed safe.

CNN correspondent, Polo Sandoval, is live in New York for us with more.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. Good afternoon.

Though the NYPD has not identified the individual by name, they have confirmed they have the individual in custody that was behind at least two of those pressure cookers, which caused quite a scare yesterday afternoon after they were dropped at a very busy subway station in lower Manhattan.

The call initially came in of possible pressure cookers that were located there. Of course, the investigation started. They later determined that those pressure cookers were in fact rice cookers and that they were empty and harmless.

But of course, that initial report, once you get that report of a possible pressure cooker, that certainly dozen lead to concern given what we've seen in the past. But again, investigators eventually looking into that and finding out that they were harmless.

As for this individual, we do understand based on a source close to the investigation who is telling my colleague, Brynn Gingras, that he was arrested in the Bronx, in a neighborhood in the Bronx.

But we're trying to find out a little bit more about his state. Because according to the source, he was un unconscious at the time and is currently hospitalized. That is leading to more questions.

What we do know is that he could potentially face some charges. We understand that has not happened as of now.

Again, Fred, we do know investigators believe that he intentionally placed two of these rice cookers in that subway station but they have not been able to directly link an incident that was happening at about the same time, a very similar kitchen appliance that was found just uptown in Chelsea.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, 2020 Democratic candidates making their pitches to black Millennial voters, but are they having the success they had hoped for? A live report, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:12:37] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

Right now, Atlanta is in the intersection of faith and presidential politics. The Black Church PAC is hosting five of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Julian Castro.

Sanders and Warren both speaking in the last hour, making their pitches to African-American voters on how they would reshape the country's future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Justice means that all of our people, regardless of income, have the right to all of the education that they need. And I am proud to have helped lead the effort to make public colleges and universities tuition free.

(CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why should black church folks trust you with their vote?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): So I've put out a lot of plans.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard.

WARREN: You've heard. But the reason for doing that is partly to say, this is where I'll go. Those plans show my values. But it's also partly to say, and you can hold me accountable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Our business and politics reporter, Vanessa Yurkevich, is at the event, joining us right now.

Vanessa, are these candidates resonating with the voters there?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS REPORTER: Hi, Fredricka. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren just left the stage a short time ago, speaking to voters here, Millennial black voters, at this conference, talking about a host of issues, criminal justice reform, gun control, health care. But the topic that really got voters here to their feet was about student debt. A lot of the voters here in this audience still in college and saddled with sometimes thousands of dollars in student debt and trying to figure out how to plan for their future.

I spoke to one voter and she told me why this issue of student debt was so important for her in this next election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED VOTER: Their views on student debt. I'm a graduate from the University of Phoenix, Arizona. I have over $22,000 in student loans. And that's my main concern is, how can I establish myself and lead a good life if I have all of this debt. I can't purchase a home, starting my own business, getting credit lines, things like that. That's one of the hindrances that I have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[13:15:09] YURKEVICH: Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren promising to cancel student debt. That played really well with the crowd here.

Now, also, three of the five candidates who spoke here at this conference, Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, all either on their way to or in South Carolina, this key early voting state where about 50 percent of the voting population there is African- American.

It's also important to point out that if you're not Joe Biden, who is polling at nearly 50 percent with African-American voters, most of the candidates have a lot of work to do. They're polling in the single digits.

So many of them are going to keep making this case for African- American voters, about why they should be the nominee, heading to these key states like South Carolina, as they try to clinch this really important electorate of African-American voters in order to win the Democratic nomination -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you very much.

Still ahead, President Trump touts the economy as the main reason that he should be reelected. But after a rocky week on Wall Street and concerns of a recession, should he be concerned about his 2020 chances?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:20:02] WHITFIELD: All right. This week brought a triple threat of warning signs for President Donald Trump heading in to 2020. First, the Dow tanked on Wednesday, dropping more than 800 points over recession fears. That was followed by wild swings on Thursday, prompting the president to try out this very stark and very frank warning at a rally Thursday evening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401Ks, down the tubes, everything's going to be down the tubes. So whether you love me or hate me, you got to vote for me.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: OK, this coming as a new FOX News poll shows President Trump trailing the top four Democratic presidential candidates among registered voters.

And a former GOP congressman and Trump supporter now says he regrets helping to get Trump elected and published an op-ed in the "Washington Post" urging Republicans to mount a primary challenge to Trump in 2020.

Let's talk about it now. I'm joined by Brendan Buck, former top aide for House Speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner, and CNN Political Analyst and Host of the "Ben Ferguson Show," Ben Ferguson.

Good to see you both.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to be here.

WHITFIELD: Ben, you first.

President Trump touting the economy. He's been doing so since the election. It's, you know, his ace in the hole. If this goes south, what does that mean for 2020?

FERGUSON: Any time you have bumps in the road with the economy, it doesn't help whoever is the in White House to say vote for me again. The president needs a good economy to go into 2020 and he needs it to stay strong. And he's reminding people my policies are what have given us the last three years of great economic news and the lowest unemployment numbers --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: You said it needs to stay strong --

FERGUSON: Sure.

WHITFIELD: -- but that means, if it does dip, how much in danger is he?

FERGUSON: I think it certainly will affect him in some capacity with those voters that are maybe on the fence, those that are sitting there going, I'm undecided right now, and that's the reason why the president is talking about this early.

You're never going to have an economic cycle that will consistently go up and up and up. We know there's trends that some with this. The president is smart this, to say, hey, if you want to keep going the way we're going, you're going to have to stick with me on this one. Yes, there's going to be some bumps in the road, but I understand the economy and I'm clearly helping the American people out more than the last administration. That's going to be a sales pitch.

WHITFIELD: Trend is one thing, Brendan, but that "R" word, "recession," seems to be popping up in the minds of so many. And this trade war between the U.S. and China is fueling so much of this economic uncertainty.

CNN spoke to farmers this week who say they feel like they are caught in the middle. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FARMER: You just feel like they're going after us. We're the small people. We don't matter. And I hope that that's not right but I don't know. I mean, it's very scary. I sometimes stay up at night worrying about what the future does hold.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Brendan, blue-collar workers helped Trump get elected. Should the president be concerned if they feel like they are being left behind or picked on?

BRENDAN BUCK, FORMER TOP AIDE TO FORMER HOUSE SPEAKERS PAUL RYAN AND JOHN BOEHNER: Yes. There's two dimensions to this. The president -- there are bumps in the road but a lot of it is his own doing. It's the trade war and the tariffs he's putting in place.

If he's going to win, he's going to have to be able to appeal to more than just the base of the party. What that means is he's going to have to something to sell to people in the suburbs, more educated voters. If he doesn't have the economy, he doesn't have much.

But to your point, how did he get elected? He got elected by winning that Rust Belt, the Midwest. And where are a lot of farmers hurting as a result of his actions on tariffs? It's the Midwest. It's this very area. So not only does he lose the broader pitch that he's able to make about the economy, it's those targeted voters that are most important to him that are hurting him.

I think that's why you're seeing reports at least of a lot of his aides saying maybe we should pull back. You saw this week he pulled back a little bit on the confrontation with China. Hopefully, he'll continue down that path if he wants to continue to tout a strong economy.

WHITFIELD: Ben, you have to wonder how worried the president might be, how concerned --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: -- especially with this new FOX poll. Let me show you this poll showing the president is trailing behind Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris in these head-to-head matchups.

The president says he doesn't believe polls but we know he watches FOX religiously and he believes polls if they favor him. So how do believe he's feeling about now?

FERGUSON: I don't think he's too concerned. He knows one thing. There's a lot of people that lie to a lot of pollsters, especially Republicans and conservative voters. We've seen that now even with the last polls right before Election Day when he actually won that showed he was going to lose overwhelmingly. That's what the polls showed. People like messing with pollsters.

I also think the president understands here, you got to fight with China not right before Election Day but years in advance of Election Day. That's what he's doing right now.

[13:25:08] He understands there needs to be an end to this with the tariffs. And there needs to be some sort of conclusion to this war to get a better deal for the American workers and then all of this concern will disappear. That's why he started it right after the midterm elections.

So he understands he has a small window here to have a real course correction with these issues with trade. And if things get good, which they will if you have a good deal, all of these concerns from many of these blue-collar workers will disappear because they realize, wow, the president did look out for us, he got us a better deal, we're on better footing now.

And that's what the president is betting on. I think it's a smart strategy.

WHITFIELD: Brendan, it's not just Democrats the president needs to be concerned about but former GOP Congressman Joe Walsh penned an op-ed in the "New York Times" urging Republicans to challenge Trump in 2020.

He also had this to say on CNN yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE WALSH, (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: This guy in the White House is a disaster for the party and the country. I wrote that piece in the "New York Times" yesterday trying to wake up Republicans. I mean, every single day, he says something or does something, he lies to the American people.

If Republicans don't stand up right now and challenge this guy right now, he's bad for the party, he's bad for the country, we're going to get wiped out in 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And then former South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Have you decided whether or not you are going to run? You gave yourself till Labor Day I think. Have you reached a decision?

MARK SANFORD, (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: I've not yet. A couple more "T"s to cross and "I"s to dot, but I'm, at this point, growing ever closer in that direction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, Brendan, this is, you know, possibly setting the stage for a real rare occurrence, for an incumbent to face a primary challenger of the same party.

BUCK: Yes. I mean, spoiler alert, no one is going to beat Donald Trump in a primary. This is very much Donald Trump's party at this point. He has upwards of 95 percent support in the party and he really has taken over it.

I am probably more aligned with a Joe Walsh or a Mark Sanford's views on things. I actually think this is a healthy debate to have about, what do Republicans stand for. Do we still stand for free trade? What are the traditional things that Republicans believe in?

But this is really a fool's errand. And I think, for a lot of these people, it just ends up being a way to make a name for themselves. Nobody's taking on Trump in this party and doing any damage to him.

WHITFIELD: Is it that, Ben, or is it a moment of realization as well?

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: No. This is 100 percent self-serving, grand standing, trying to make a name for yourself. Even Walsh tweeted out that more than 80 percent of his callers to his own radio show basically said he was crazy and couldn't believe what he was doing. This is all about self-promoting.

The scary part now about running for president is there's really no downside for a candidate. You get a book deal out of it. You get some speaking engagements. And you get your name out there. And you make, honestly, probably, more than a million dollars just by running to lose.

I think what you're seeing by Walsh here and Sanford -- Sanford is a washed-up hack who has no political future so he says, I'll just run for president and get on TV for it.

Walsh has a radio show that a lot of people have left because of his views on Trump. His own tweet said his own callers disagree with him, 80 percent of them. He's trying to figure out a new path in his career and this is a way to do it.

It political grand standing. He doesn't have a chance. But why not do it? Because you're going to get a lot of TV attention. You'll get a quick book deal. You'll make a little cash. And then you're going to get your brains beat in.

It makes no sense except for the fact that you're basically using people to give you money real quick to make you rich while you can say, I stood up to Donald Trump. It absurd.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there.

(LAUGHTER)

Ben Ferguson, Brendan Buck, on that note, thank you so much.

FERGUSON: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Up next, new details on that mysterious explosion in Russia that killed five scientists and sent radiation levels spiking. Families were told to stay in their homes. Was it a so-called super weapon test?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:32:50] WHITFIELD: A missile explosion in Russia leaves five nuclear scientists dead, causes radiation levels to climb and raises new questions about what exactly was being tested. The Kremlin says accidents happen but has said little else.

But could the mystery about the missile test involve strategic weapons touted by none other than Vladimir Putin?

Here's CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As often the case in Russia, slow drip of information about exactly what happened near the Arctic Circle, where this explosion seems to have caused radiation, some of it appears may be drifting in the direction of Scandinavia.

Slowly, people learning more and more about the missile that may have been fueled and driven by a nuclear reactor. A bid for Russia to find a new generation of cruise missiles. But it so far doesn't appear to have been entirely successful.

(voice-over): The tiniest traces of radiation recorded on the Norwegian northern coast, say Norwegian officials. A radioactive I.D. they said from an unknown source, which isn't harmful to people.

Could this be more fallout from Russia's accident in the Arctic, which sent radiation levels soaring and killed five scientists during an apparent missile test? And what is the "Skyfall" known as the 9-M-370 in Russia.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WALSH: Announced by President Putin in March 2018, it was lauded as a new generation of unstoppable nuclear-reactor-powered cruise missile that would render U.S. missile defenses obsolete.

(EXPLOSION)

WALSH: They claimed it had unlimited change and can fly around the world multiple times before approaching its target from an unpredictable anger.

The point is the technology is secret, yet most analysts believe it uses a nuclear reactor to heat air propelling it forward while expelling nuclear waste.

The U.S. called their version Project Pluto. It was abandoned in the '60s because of the trail of damaging material it leaves behind as it flies. Basically, a dirty bomb with wings.

DR, MARK GALEOTTI, SENIOR FELLOW, ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE STUDIES: This is a doomsday weapon. It's not something that could be deployed in anything other than a full-scale nuclear war. It's a cruise missile that can stay in the air for a longer time but, at the same time, it's belching out radioactive plumes behind it.

[13:35:13] WALSH: These satellite images show an apparent launch site in 2018.

Does it work? U.S. officials told CNN it's being tested a few times, but never fully successfully. The truth is, we just don't know how close success it is now. Leading to the question, why would the Kremlin try to show off technology that doesn't seem to fly.

GALEOTTI: Vladimir Putin's Russia is trying to puff itself up. It's trying to look more militarily formidable than it is. They don't like the fact that the test failed. The fact that we're all no talking about the latest Russian military technology is something of a plus.

WALSH: Yet, the risks the Kremlin appear to tolerate in pursuing this new arms race mean a more dangerous world could be ahead.

(on camera): So there aren't many other missile programs, it seems, that Russia has been more keen than you think to publicize. As you heard there, it may well be because they're trying to make their military capabilities seem bigger than they are.

But certain, now with many missile treaties being whittled away at by Washington and Moscow, deep concerns potentially about this new arms race. And obviously, too, of course, the immediate regional impact if Russia has more accidents like this.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, Jeffrey Epstein's suicide is not stopping litigation against his estate from moving forward. Three women filing lawsuits over sexual assault and rape. The legal battle straight ahead, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:40:54] WHITFIELD: All right. The New York City medical examiner said Jeffrey Epstein's death was a suicide by hanging. But his lawyers are not convinced. Attorneys for the late financier announced they will open their own investigation into his death on top of the federal government's own search for answers.

Questions remain not just about Epstein's death but also about what happens to his accusers who have continued to move forward. This week, three women have filed suits against Epstein's estate, two victims claiming he sexual assaulted them in 2004 and another who says he raped her when she was just 15.

Epstein died while awaiting trial on charges he operated a sex trafficking ring, including underage girls.

Joining me right now, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a criminal rights attorney.

Good to see you both.

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Fredricka.

RICHARD HERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, so, Avery, you first.

These are two lawsuits that are taking very different approaches toward Epstein's estate. Why?

FRIEDMAN: Well, hooray for the victims. They've got good lawyers who are looking at different ways of making the estate accountable.

Number one, Jennifer Araoz, who we saw an op-ed piece in the "Times," is going into state court using traditional assault and battery cases. But the two other women are using a federal law, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which provide for damages. It was just amended as early as this year, 2019.

And what an exciting way to make the estate accountable for these women who have suffered all these years.

I think all three cases are a sign that victims who have suffered for all these years, Fredricka, can come forward using state or federal forums to step up and fight back.

WHITFIELD: Richard, since the criminal case died with Jeffrey Epstein, how can a defendant who is no longer here be tried? How will a civil case, how can it be won just simply by way of -- or can it be challenged, other testimonies or even evidence?

HERMAN: Well, his lawyers are saying, no, you can't. You don't have him. He can't speak from the grave. How can he contest anything? But that's not going to fly and these cases are going to proceed, Fred. But, you know, Avery is all hooping and hollering and all excited

about this. These are very, very difficult cases, Fred. You have issues of corroboration. You have issues of people recollecting events that took place 15 years ago, 12 years ago, 20 years ago --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: And people can say, I don't recall, I don't recall, I don't recall.

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

HERMAN: They're not that simple. Right. They're not as simple.

And the most important thing -- and nobody is talking about this, Fred -- is this. Epstein went through this ordeal in 2008. He wasn't a stupid guy. He had advisers.

I'm speculating that his assets are airtight in trusts and in other names, just like O.J. Simpson. They got a $50 million judgment against him, they couldn't collect anything.

Don't be surprised if Epstein is completely judgment proof and airtight and any verdicts against him are going to be useless because you're not going to be able to collect.

WHITFIELD: So, Avery, in these civil cases, there will be this pursuit of alleged co-conspirators also.

FRIEDMAN: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: And when we talk about the span of time, whether it 15 years, it's likely some alleged co-conspirators will say, I don't recall. That will make it very difficult for the accusers, would it not?

FRIEDMAN: I'm very optimistic about the litigation. Because, among other things -- let me give you a couple of examples. When one of the children, one of the teens was involved there, among the things that Epstein would do, she was starring in a high school play, so he sent flowers. Another one he was indicating a willingness to play tuition at SYU.

The records are substantial. This is civil. This is not criminal. What that means is the discovery will involve going into records, looking into the trusts to see if they were properly put together.

[13:45:05] And I must tell you, given the nature of discovery, the record, calendars, computers, all of this information, I am very optimistic the victims are going to -- it not hooping and hollering. That's a reality. It's a sobering reality. And I think the victims are going to be successful.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: So one of the other alleged co-conspirators, Ghislaine Maxwell --

FRIEDMAN: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: -- a friend of Jeffrey Epstein, apparently, she's been very difficult to find.

Richard, in her case, her name is out there. There have been all these Social Security associations made.

FRIEDMAN: Yes.

WHITFIELD: But what can be done to, I guess, apprehend or get her, to be interviewed or to testify? What's the situation on finding her?

HERMAN: A couple of things.

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: A couple things real fast here. First of all, against Epstein, there are rules of evidence, which will preclude anybody from testifying as to what Epstein said to them. So that's not going to be admissible, Fred.

FRIEDMAN: Not true.

HERMAN: Now, with respect to Ghislaine Maxwell, this woman is, I think, in a heap of trouble. Because the Department of Justice has egg all over their face with the death of Epstein under their protection, supposedly, suicide. So basically, they're going after everybody. Attorney General Barr said, if you were a facilitator or you were involved, we're coming for you.

So this woman is number one.

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

HERMAN: She is number one target I think. I'm, again, speculating, but if she was smart, she would call me -- no, no.

FRIEDMAN: What! What!

HERMAN: Call a lawyer immediately and get representation to cut a deal to save your life. Because they're going to throw it all on her, Fred. They're going to make her the bad guy.

FRIEDMAN: Way off. Way off.

WHITFIELD: OK. Remember, a medical examiner determined, based on the autopsy results, that Epstein did hang himself and died that way.

HERMAN: Yes, that's right.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: OK. So we have to leave it there for now.

FRIEDMAN: See you soon.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Keep us updated in your world of legal friends. See what you learn about the whereabouts of anybody.

Avery Friedman, Richard Herman, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

FRIEDMAN: See you soon.

HERMAN: You, too.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:50:58] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

Right now, gun safety groups are rallying across the country calling for action in the wake of deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The rallies organized by groups Every Town for Gun Safety and -- there's another group that's all involved there. They're set to take place in more than 100 different locations across all 50 state.

And as 31 families mourn the loss of their loved ones in those two shootings, those who survived the El Paso attack are still searching for answers from authorities.

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Guillermo Glenn is a survivor and a hero of the El Paso Walmart shooting. A woman was shot and the wounded right near him in the store.

GUILLERMO GLENN, SURVIVOR OF EL PASO WALMART SHOOTING: She had a big gash on her thigh.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You tried to help her?

GLENN: I was trying to help her.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The accounts we're hearing from survivors are harrowing, but they're also particularly illuminating because we're not hearing the same information from police.

(on camera): And there's still so much that remains publicly murky. What's absolutely glaring about the arrest of this alleged killer is that he was never nabbed by police. He actually turned himself in, right at this intersection, to a cop. We're four-tenths of a mile, according to the GPS, from the Walmart right behind me.

How did he get away from the Walmart? Did he drive? Did he walk? If police know that information, they're not releasing it. (voice-over): Maribel Latin was shot in the foot and the arm.

MARIBEL LATIN, WOUNDED IN EL PASO SHOOTING: I just laid there, and I turned my head to the left away from him. And I pretended I was dead.

TUCHMAN: After being shot and playing dead, she looked for her daughter who she feared had also been shot. Maribel found her. She wasn't shot, it was OK.

Maribel doesn't know how much time had gone by but, at that point, she saw no police in the store.

LATIN: That's when I took my phone out and I dialed 911.

TUCHMAN (on camera): The first 911 calls from this Walmart came at 10:39 a.m. Police say they arrived six minutes later. But how many police arrived, and how long did it take to go inside? Officials here in El Paso are not telling us that.

When we told them that, in Dayton, Ohio, officials had given a lot of information, including surveillance video, they told us it's a different case because that perpetrator's dead and this alleged perpetrator is still alive.

(voice-over): Police are not even confirming if officers entered the Walmart during the shooting.

Guillermo confirms he saw some officers in the part of the store he was in.

(on camera): How long do you think it was from the first shot to you saw the policemen in the aisles?

GLENN: I think it was probably a good 10 minutes or more.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And the 78-year-old offered some more detail.

(on camera): How many police do you think you saw?

GLENN: I saw at least three. Two men and a policewoman. And they were -- they were going up and down the aisles, and they were communicating with each other.

TUCHMAN: Did they have weapons?

GLENN: Yes, they had weapons.

TUCHMAN: Assault-style weapons?

GLENN: The ones I saw was assault.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The El Paso Police Department says official information will remain scant for the time being. So until that changes, we'll be left with piecing together what happened from the stories and the bravery of the survivors.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[13:54:17] WHITFIELD: And next, NASCAR driver-turned broadcaster, Dale Earnhardt Jr, miraculously surviving a fiery plane crash. Hear from witnesses who say Earnhardt, his wife and young daughter escape the wreckage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Dramatic video today showing the escape of NASCAR legend, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and his family from a fiery plane crash in Tennessee. The retired driver was on his way to this weekend's races in Bristol Motor Speedway when the crash happened.

Listen to the 911 calls from those watching the families escape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED 911 CALL: Crashed across the street. Right on the highway. There's fire everywhere. There's somebody getting out. Now there's -- they're trying to get out now. There's a baby. One, two, three, four, five, five people, and a dog.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Wow. Incredible.

Dave Faherty, from CNN affiliate WSOC, has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVE FAHERTY, REPORTER, WSOC9 (voice-over): You can see black smoke pouring out of the back of the plane and a man running toward the wreckage.

Moments later, flames shoot up from one of the wings just seconds before the door to the plane pops open. Scrambling to get out are Dale Earnhardt Jr and his wife, Amy, and two pilots. Their first concern is Dale's 1-year-old daughter. She was handed to the first person off the burning plane who rushed her to safety.

The video shows one person falling to the ground and then the family's dog running from the wreckage.

These two women called 911 from their office nearby watching in horror as flames spread across the plane.

LACY PASQUALE, WITNESS WHO CALLED 911: I couldn't believe it was happening. Especially right in front of our office. When we saw them escape and them hand a child out, both of our hearts just sank.

BETH BARE (ph), WITNESS WHO CALLED 911: It was really scary. There wasn't much time for them to get out. And it really is a miracle that they got out before the flames overtook the plane.

FAHERTY: Both women say it was just 30 seconds to a minute later before a second explosion caused flames to engulf much of the plane.

We could see NTSB investigators around the plane for much of the day. Feet away, skid marks in the grass from the Cessna Citation business jet at the end of the runway before it went through a fence and ended up on the four-lane highway.

For much of the day, race fans stopped by to see the wreckage, including Bobby Loveless and his son, whose middle name is Dale after Junior's father.

[14:00:09] (on camera): What do you want to say to Dale and his family tonight?

BOBBY LOVELESS, RACE FAN: That you're in our prayers. And just be blessed. Make quick recovery.

(END VIDEOTAPE)