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Trump Confirms He's Looked into Buying Greenland as NASA Warns of Its "Supercharged" Ice Melt; Trump in Change in Tone Now Says "We Already Have a Lot of Background Checks"; Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D- NY) Discusses Trump Flipping on Background Checks, Gun Control, House Judiciary Committee to Take Up Series of Gun Bills; New Jersey Child is 35th Death in a Hot Car This Year; Sources: NYPD Commissioner Expected to Announce Decision on Officer Involved in Death of Eric Garner. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:00] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chief scientist, Josh Willis, shows me the probes they're launching all around Greenland. It's like dropping thermometers into the sea.

(on camera): They go out of the plane, right down this tube right here, and fall down into the ocean, and then they separate into two parts, all the way down to the sea floor. So it gives us a profile from the surface to the bottom on the shelf.

(voice-over): We've reached today's drop zone, the massive Helheim Glacier.

What we're seeing from our cockpit camera is not the glacier itself, it's just the ice it's lost in the past days, and this goes on for miles.

(on camera): It is absolutely all-inspiring to see the size of this glacier, to see how much ice is coming off the glacier that's going to flow into the world's oceans. It is one of the largest glaciers in Greenland. The amount of activity is just absolutely overwhelming.

(voice-over): But the scientists spot an ice-free zone right at the mouth of the glacier. It's pretty unusual. With great precision, they have to drop a probe right in that pond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, drop, drop, drop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fourteen away. I see water.

PLEITGEN: Bull's eye.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw it, yes. Oh, wow. I see it.

PLEITGEN: But the readouts they get are troubling. Warm water along the entire depth of the glacier, more than 2,000 feet below the surface.

IAN FELTY (ph), NASA OCEANS MELTING GREENLAND MISSION: That means warm waters now are able to be in direct contact with the ice over its entire face supercharging the melting.

PLEITGEN: And it's not just this glacier. The ice melt has been supercharged in all of Greenland recently.

(on camera): This year is on pace to set a record for ice melt here in the Arctic. And at NASA scientists are finding out it's not just hotter air, but also warmer ocean water that's causing a lot of the attrition that's making these glaciers lose so much ice.

(voice-over): And while it may look majestic, the ice melt is also dangerous. These billions of tons of ice are causing sea levels to rise.

The scientists from NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland Project saying all of us need to pitch in to try and slow down global warming or face the consequences.

JOSH WILLIS, CHIEF SCIENTIST, NASA OCEANS MELTING GREENLAND PROJECT: There's enough ice in Greenland to raise sea levels by 7.5 meters. So it's an enormous volume of ice, that's about 25 feet. And that would be devastating to coastlines all around the planet.

PLEITGEN: The changes to our planet's environment can already be clearly seen here in Greenland, a remote Arctic paradise whose warming climate will affect us all.


PLEITGEN: And, Kate, I can tell you that was a pretty humbling experience flying over the glaciers and also hearing how far a lot of those glaciers will already receded.

And I did ask the scientists from NASA, what can we do to try to stop this or try to hold this up, and they said the only thing we can try to do is curb emissions.

But they also said, at the rate it's going right now, it might be time for some people to think about moving away from coastal areas because the sea-level rise is already happening -- Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it's real right now. And you said it was humbling to see, but it was such an amazing view to be there with those climate scientists.

Great work, Fred. Thank you so much. That was really important.

PLEITGEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I appreciate it.

Coming up for us, oh, what a difference a week makes. Last week, President Trump said that he supported stronger background checks for gun buyers. He said he wanted to see something done. Now he's saying something else. That's next.


[11:38:04] BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

Do you remember what President Trump said last week on what he would like to see done about gun safety? Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am convinced that Mitch wants to do something. He wants to do background check and I do, too, and I think a lot of Republicans do.


BOLDUAN: Then on the way home from vacation yesterday, something seems to have changed with the president's view. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Congress is going to be reporting back to me with ideas and they'll come in from Democrats and Republicans and I'll look at it very strongly. But just remember, we already have a lot of background checks. OK?


BOLDUAN: What is the president signaling here, if anything? Is this deja vu all over again?

A horrific mass shooting and the president says he wants to see something done about it and then he doesn't.

The House Judiciary Committee announced last week that it's heading back to Washington early from recess to take up a series of gun bill measures. What is that going to do?

Here with me now is Democratic Congress Adriano Espaillat, out of New York.

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D-NY): It's great to see you, Congressman. Thank you for being here.

It's great to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: What you heard there from President Trump, when he says, just a reminder, we already have a lot of background checks, is that a bad sign to you?

ESPAILLAT: That's a bad sign, certainly. We don't have enough background checks. In fact, we passed H.R.-8, which makes them stronger, and H.R.-12, which allows a 10-day period to do a very extensive background check. And if you don't complete it during that time, then the FBI will do it. This is what the American people want. Eight-nine percent of the

American people want more background checks. They want common-sense background checks on weapons. And I think that as a central piece of gun control.

BOLDUAN: We now have some Democrats, Judiciary Committee heading back early to get the ball rolling on some gun measures. When you hear that from the president right there, is it worth it?

ESPAILLAT: If he's not willing to even accept the need for additional background check, I would just imagine what he will say about banning assault weapons or the magazine piece of legislation --


ESPAILLAT: -- that's going to be taken up when we get back.

[11:40:04] BOLDUAN: Right. So there's a slew of things that are going to be taken up. The assault weapons ban, taking that back up. That's already, at least from the perspective of Republicans in the Senate, that's not going to be part of it.

But on the issue of background checks, are you to a place of you are more skeptical than you than you are optimistic on where this is going now?


BOLDUAN: Because everything comes from -- look, Mitch McConnell controls the Senate, but I've heard from a lot of smart Republicans who say nothing is going to happen without pressure and the buy-in from the White House so the president can offer some political cover for folks.

If you've got the president saying right now, we've already got a lot of background checks, is that signaling to you -- are you becoming more skeptical?

ESPAILLAT: I'm not skeptical because I know nearly 90 percent of the American people want background checks. And I think that's not something that's going to fade away. I think it will carry into next year and it will carry into the political season.

I think that Mitch McConnell and the president know that this is a fact, that people -- there's something different about this last massacre, this last tragedy. I think we're finally getting very tired of this and something must be done.

And the minimum that we can do is increase background checks. But there's hate crime legislation that's up there that should be taken up. We're going to have hearings on the assault weapons ban. We need to take a look at ghost guns, that's a piece of legislation that I've introduced.

(CROSSTALK) ESPAILLAT: So there's a whole slew of legislation that will make it safer for the average American. And I think people want that.

BOLDUAN: But Axios is reporting that a source is telling them that it's September-or-bust in terms of the fragile momentum that is still there when it comes to getting gun measures through.

If that is even close to a reality, I do wonder, you've got bipartisan -- some more bipartisan support around expanding background checks.


BOLDUAN: You've got those bills still sitting in the Senate. But now you've got the Judiciary Committee and you're talking about other measures that are going to be passed.

Are you concerned at all that, if taking up red flag laws, assault weapons ban, banning high capacity magazines, does that dilute or distract where at the moment there seems to be bipartisan support, which is around background checks?

ESPAILLAT: No, because I think the background checks bill should be taken up by the Senate. And Mitch McConnell must come back and take up that bill.

I think that there are some precluders from taking up the other bills in the House and beginning a full discussion about comprehensive gun control. I think it's necessary for America. Obviously, the first step is the background checks bill.

BOLDUAN: There's always the conversation of, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


BOLDUAN: If you think H.R.-8 is perfect, there are -- I've heard Republicans say there need to be some changes when it comes to certain things, farm hands, ranch hands, family, that they would like to see changed. Would you still support H.R.-8 with modifications?

ESPAILLAT: I've got to see what the modifications are, but H.R.-8 and H.R.-11 are very good pieces of legislation.


ESPAILLAT: But let me tell you something, Kate. I don't see how any American -- and I think 62 percent of the American people agree with this. I don't see how they see it normal for anybody to be walking around --


ESPAILLAT: -- with a semiautomatic weapon.

BOLDUAN: Those poll numbers have been there before.

ESPAILLAT: You know what --


BOLDUAN: They've been there for a while. That's not you have seen --

ESPAILLAT: Unfortunately, we may just get another massacre, and then what? What will the American people say then?

I think this is horrendous. And there's been far too many deaths. The rest of the world is looking at us, we haven't done background checks? We still just allow people to -- we allow people to transfer weapons without an extensive background check? That is horrendous.

BOLDUAN: I hear your optimism. And I think, as an elected representative, I think our district would want you to be optimistic. I meet that, though, with skepticism.


ESPAILLAT: Well, the final -- the final action will come from the American people. And I guess they'll have to take decisions up at the polls.

BOLDUAN: That is true. We'll see how much of a priority it is then when it is taken up.

Thank you for being here.

ESPAILLAT: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: Thank you, Congressman.

Up next for us, it is a nightmare and it is maddening. A child dead after being left in a hot car. Why does this keep happening? Why was there another case of it just last week? What can be done to stop it?

[11:44:12] We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Thirty-five children have been killed this year by something that was completely preventable. You've heard the term, hot car death. This year is on track to be the most-deadly yet. The most recent just last week. A 22-month-old little girl left in her car seat in a van in New Jersey. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is maddening. Last year set a horrible record, 52 children died in hot cars. And that was the deadliest year in two decades.

And this isn't an issue exclusive to one part of the country or another. These deaths happen anywhere. Just look at this map. It happens all across the country. Warm climates, cold climates, everything in between. Why does this keep happening?

Joining me right now is the director of, Amber Rollins.

[11:50:02] Amber, thank you so much for being here.


BOLDUAN: I said it, and I really mean it, it really is maddening. Every time I see another report of another child dying after being left in the car, I want to know why. I just don't understand it. Why does this keep happening? Why does it seem that problem is getting worse not better?

ROLLINS: Well, it is a very difficult thing to understand. And, you know, that's really our biggest challenge in overcoming these tragedies because nobody believes that this can happen to them. That's why it continues to happen. If you think something is not going to happen you to, you're not taking precautions to prevent it.

We're seeing the trend get worse and worse every year. And, you know this problem isn't going away with education and awareness. So clearly we need to do more.

BOLDUAN: Most of the deaths occur when parents forget their children in the car. But what do you hear from families that you work with on why they -- on what they wish they knew?

ROLLINS: Yes. So this is happening to wonderful parents. Highly educated, responsible people. And they never knew that this could happen to them.

And we see some common factors in just about every single case. There's always sleep deprivation, which is universal for people with young children. And there's always some type of change in that normal daily routine.

And so those are big risk factors that we really want to pay attention to for people that have young children.

BOLDUAN: Another portion of the deaths occur when the little ones find their own ways into the cars themselves. How do you -- I mean, how do you protect against that if they're able to grab the keys and get in there?

ROLLINS: Those are really easy to prevent, actually. You want to keep the car locked, 100 percent of the time --


ROLLINS: -- even if you don't have children. And keep those keys somewhere where the children cannot access them 100 percent of the time.

And then, of course, if your child goes missing, just like you would check the swimming pool right away, check the inside, trunk, and floorboard of all vehicles in the area immediately.

BOLDUAN: What do people need to know about -- I think how quickly something -- this can go from dangerous to deadly surprise me when I started researching this. What do people need to know about that?

ROLLINS: Well, the vehicle acts like a greenhouse. It lets that heat in through the windows from the sun and it heats up very quickly. In fact, more than half of the increase in temperature happens in the first 10 minutes.

When you combine that with the fact that a child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult, you have a recipe for disaster in a very short amount of time.

BOLDUAN: One safeguard that a friend told me a very long time ago was, after a scare, she always puts her one of her shoes in the backseat right when she gets in the car. When you get out of the car, you'll never walk around with one shoe off. No matter what, you'll remember to look and go back to the backseat. That is always something that stuck in my head. It seems like logical and something to do.

Amber, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it.

ROLLINS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, sources are telling CNN that New York City's police commissioner is expected to announce a final decision on the future of the officer accused of fatally choking Eric Garner. Details on that ahead.


[11:57:57] BOLDUAN: This just in. Sources are telling CNN that the New York City police commissioner is expected to announce a decision about the future of Officer Daniel Pantaleo following his involvement in the death of Eric Garner in 2014. The police commissioner's decision could be announced within the next hour.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz has been following this. He joins me right now.

Shimon, this final decision, if that's what happens, comes five years after Garner's death. And his final words, "I can't breathe," becoming a symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement. What are you hearing?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Absolutely right, Kate. A symbol of the Black Lives Movement, a symbol of really police reform within this country, within this city.

And we do expect that we're going to hear from the police commissioner at 12:30 for quite some time. I'm told he's going to take a lot of questions. He's going to tell essentially the nation his decision on whether or not this police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, will get to keep his job. That decision, sources we talk to, are not telling us. They're

cautioning us to wait and here from the police commissioner.

Of course, the mayor has said he wanted this police officer fired. The family said they wanted this officer fired. And then the judge, NYPD administrative judge, who oversaw a several-week hearing, also recommended that Pantaleo be fired.

The decision solely rests with the police commissioner. What will he do? That answer, we expect to get around 12:30 -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: And, Shimon, this has been a long road getting here. There are a lot of steps along the way. It is the beginning of this month, right, that there was a recommendation that he be determined.

PROKUPECZ: Right. It was just at the beginning of this month that these trial -- this trial judge made this recommendation.

It was also, you know, just recently that the Department of Justice finally made the decision on not to prosecute him. Remember, that is one of the big things that his family, that the NYPD was waiting for. They finally got that decision and now we await this decision.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

[12:00:02] Thank you, Shimon. I really appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: We'll see what the police commissioner has to say here shortly.

Thank you all so much for joining me. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.