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NEW DAY SATURDAY
President Trump Arrives in France for G7 Summit; International Leaders Demand Action from Brazil on Amazon Wildfires; Latest in China Trade Dispute; Congress and Gun Laws Discussed; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Treated for Fourth Bout with Cancer; Former Boxer Survives Murder-for-Hire Plot. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired August 24, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's very little agreement about anything at this G7.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it will be very productive, seeing a lot of the leaders who are friends of mine for the most part. I wouldn't say in 100 percent of the cases but for the most part.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wall Street nose-diving, President Trump dramatically escalating his fight with China and his own Federal Reserve chairman.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're having a spat with China, and we'll win it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crisis in the Amazon where fires in the rain forests are having a worldwide impact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Argentina to London to France, activists and global leaders alike are demanding action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democratic field down two candidates. Moulton suggests 18 of them are wasting their time.
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It doesn't make me stop. I've got the money rolling in. This love train is on a roll.
ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day Weekend" with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Good morning to you. Thank you for sharing part of your Saturday with us. It's 8:01 (inaudible) right now. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. PAUL: So President Trump arrived just a short while ago in the south of France for the G7 summit. Fellow world leaders there as well and they have a long list of world crises to deal with.
BLACKWELL: So one of the pressing issues - most pressing issues right now is the environment and the climate crisis we're facing. Specifically, the French president wants the devastating wildfires burning in the Amazon to be a priority. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is joining us now with the latest on the fires in the Amazon from (inaudible) there in Brazil.
Nick, the last hour you gave us a really good scan of what the impact of the fires, the smoke in the air, what that looks like and described what it feels like. I wonder for the people who are with us at this hour you can tell us about that and what is changing at least, the suggestion from the Brazilian president.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, let me run you through where we're standing here. We are in the state of Rondonia which is where close to 300 large fires are currently burning; the most afflicted state in all of Brazil. Let me just show you what dawn - I mean this has slightly got worse as the sun has kind of picked up in terms of visibility. You should be able to see the sky here. But there is no sky. Instead, that alarm is not something to be concerned about, just how a normal factory does nearby, but what you're seeing here is the smoke, which has traveled across Brazil as far as Sao Paulo a major coastal city in major coastal city in recent days, obscuring the skyline.
Now, this is not an exact science, but we've asked people here, was it like this last year because much of the contention that these are annual forest fires in the dry season which happen like this a lot, perhaps slightly worse this year. They've not seen this kind of sky obscured from a bridge here outside of Portoviejo for quite some time. In fact, many of them couldn't remember anything like this before. But it obscures much of what you can see and down in the river as well you can see what often President Bolsonaro talks about which is in fact the industry, the economy which he wants Brazil to thrive inside the Amazon regardless of the cost it has in fact to what people call "the lungs of the earth." Victor.
BLACKWELL: Walsh -- Nick Paton Walsh for us there watching those fires. Thank you so much. Now given what happened two years ago with the U.S. pulling out of the climate accord, French President Emmanuel Macron wants to refocus attention on the environment.
PAUL: Before this, Macron tweeted this, "The Amazon, the lungs of our planet which produces 20 percent of our oxygen, is on fire." This is an international crisis. G7 members meet in two days to discuss this emergency. CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Pamela Brown joining us now from southern France where we know the president has landed. What is on the agenda, first of all, and how receptive might the president be to these conversations, Pamela, about climate, about Brazil when they are such a priority for the other leaders?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we may find out soon because I have just learned that President Trump is having lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron, and Macron has made clear he wants to bring up the wildfires in Amazon with the president as well as other climate issues. But the president has proven himself to be a thorn in the side of Macron and other G7 leaders who have prioritized climate change. Not only has he pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, but he has made clear that it's not a priority for him. In fact, he has complained to his aides that during past G7 summits there was too much discussion about the environment and about climate change in general and about oceans. His focus really wants to be on the economy.
He wants to be able to tout his accomplishments. He wants to be able to talk about the strength of the economy. So that really is what is top of mind for President Trump. Now, something else he'll likely be bringing up to Macron during this lunch is the digital tax. The president has been very focused on that. He has threatened to put tariffs on French wine in retaliation. Here's what the president said about that just before he boarded air force one at the White House.
TRUMP: I don't want them doing anything having to do with taxing unfairly our companies. Those are great American companies and frankly, I don't want France going out and taxing our companies; very unfair. And if they do that, we'll be taxing their wine or doing something else. We'll be taxing their wine like they've never seen before.
BROWN: So the president has spoken publically about this before. He's tweeted about it but this will be the first time that he confronts Macron about taxing French wine if there isn't some sort of solution to the digital tax that the president believes targets innovative U.S. companies. Now tonight he'll have dinner with other G7 leaders and then tomorrow he has a very busy day. There are several working sessions. And there's an economic forum in the morning that the president himself has pushed for.
Now aides say he wants to tout his economic accomplishments, talk about the strength of the economy, but it should be interesting because many of the G7 leaders also believe that we're seeing this global economic slowdown in part because of the president's trade war with China. As you know, China and the U.S. both slapped tariffs on each just yesterday, and there are looming auto tariffs on European imports as well at the deadline in a couple months for that. Back to you.
BLACKWELL: Pamela Brown for us there in southern France. Thank you so much.
PAUL: Thank you Pamela.
Now, French police cleared out protesters from a field where they were demonstrating ahead of the G7 summit. Take a look at what you can see there. These giant heads of Presidents Trump, Macron, Merkel all on display. Some other demonstrations, they were tense. There were mortar firing and there were other projectiles hurled at police.
BLACKWELL: Police have already detained 17 people near with where the meetings are happening. Reportedly 13,000 police have been deployed ahead of these demonstrations. CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is in France as well following these developments. How far from where you are, are these protests? Like what's the safe zone that's been created?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The safe zone is right in the city of Biarritz itself, two zones. One, a super secure zone where the leaders will be meeting. So if you look at the map there you can see it stretches all the way down to the water. And then behind that around the rest of the town, you have another secure zone. That's only part of the picture.
The actual zone that the police have a very substantially increased presence spreads 20 miles south of Biarritz where President Trump is all the way to the Spanish border and it's at the Spanish border just on the French side is an authorized family zone and that's where these sort of alternative G7 protesters are meeting today. They had a march. They're having sort of an encounter meeting just there, which is as I say 20 miles, a long, long distance from Biarritz so the leaders won't even get a sense of it.
But I have to say this afternoon the protests here have been relatively quiet. No trouble reported. But that is in a contrast last night when the protesters were in a field -- a camping field. The police confronted them. Projectiles were hurled at the police. Even what the police are describing, they've used the word "mortars" and they mean sort of very large fireworks - explosive devices really being thrown at the police. Four police officers injured. But that seems to have been isolated to last night, at least that's what we're seeing so far, Victor.
BLACKWELL: We've also watched throughout the summer these yellow vest protests in Paris and in other parts of France. Are we expecting those to flare up as well this weekend?
ROBERTSON: Yes, that's been the real concern of the police here, that and what are known as the black walk protesters that dress in black and really aggressive protesters. What we've seen from these termed yellow vests protesting in Paris, are some of the rampages earlier this year have led to destruction of stores on the famous Champs- Elysees in the center of Paris, right in the heart of the tourist district there, and it's those protesters that the police were worried about. They are here but so far they haven't kicked off that level of violence.
BLACKWELL: Nic Robertson watching the protests for us there. Nic, thank you.
Now before heading to France for the G7, President Trump again escalated his trade fight with Beijing, imposing more tariffs on Chinese goods after Beijing announced a new round of tariffs on about $75 billion worth of U.S. goods.
PAUL: Now the president, President Trump, announced the tariff hike in a tweet, saying this -- there's part of the series. But he says, "Starting on October 1st the $250 billion of goods and products from China currently being taxed at 25% will be taxed at 30%."
BLACKWELL: And that news sent stocks tumbling but President Trump says there is nothing to worry about.
PAUL: So CNN Beijing Bureau Senior Producer Steven Jiang with us now. Steven, good to see you this morning. Are we hearing anything from China in response to the tariffs?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN PRODUCER: Christi, in the last hour, actually, the Chinese government has just responded to the latest move by Mr. Trump and really voicing its strong opposition to this move by Mr. Trump to the increase already announced tariffs on Chinese goods. This response came in the form of a statement from the commerce ministry and saying this latest move by Mr. Trump really showing the unilateral approach to trade by the U.S. as well as its trade bullying tactics against China. It warned the U.S. to stop misjudging the situation or underestimating the determination of the Chinese people to fight this trade war or the U.S. Would have to bear all the consequences of its own doing. So not entirely surprising in terms of these very strongly worded and hardened rhetoric from China given what's happened in the past week from both sides. But it certainly is casting a lot of doubt over the next round of trade talks which are supposed to take place in Washington in September. Remember, one of China's preconditions for any trade deal is the immediate removal of any existing U.S. tariffs. Now with these latest back and forth tariffs and counter tariffs, that goal is certainly becoming more elusive not to mention growing fears here that the Chinese would deploy nontariff barriers to make American companies' life very difficult. So Christi, certainly another round of escalation in this ongoing trade war that shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
PAUL: All right, Steven Jiang, we appreciate the update. Thank you so much.
It's a familiar face in New Hampshire; Joe Biden trying to capture voters' attention there. What he's got planned today.
BLACKWELL: Plus, was this manslaughter? Was it self-defense? A jury decides in the case of a man accused of shooting a Florida father in front of his family in an argument over a handicapped parking space.
PAUL: And a former boxer faked his own death to escape a murder for hire plot against him. Who orchestrated that hit? How did he manage to escape? We're going to talk about it.
[08:15:00] BLACKWELL: All right, just in to CNN, we have the pictures of a working lunch here between President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. It looks like they've shut down a restaurant for the two to have conversation. We know that heading into this President Macron said it would be pointless to come to any communique but of course the hope is that these two men can come to some agreement on the issues of trade, economic issues, climate. So we are seeing that President Macron is making some comments. Haven't seen President Trump say anything but we'll get the headlines of this early afternoon there in Biarritz. So appropriate time for a working lunch. We'll get to the headlines out of this event as soon as we get those in.
PAUL: Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden wrapping up a two- day visit in New Hampshire today.
BLACKWELL: He'll visit with voters and attend a community event in Keane a few hours from now. CNN's Arlette Saenz is following the former vice president, joins us now from New Hampshire. So Arlette, we know what's happening on the vice president's schedule today, but while he is in New Hampshire, most of the field is in San Francisco. Why is he there?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, Joe Biden had committed about a month ago, three or four weeks ago, to come to New Hampshire to campaign here in the nation primary state. He did send representatives, his campaign manager, Greg Schultz, out to San Francisco for those DNC meetings. But here in New Hampshire, former Vice President Joe Biden has really been training his focus on President Trump. Yesterday he described him as a president who is becoming more and more unhinged and warning that electing him again would further put the country he says in trouble.
And I want to read you a statement that Biden released yesterday just before President Trump left for the G7 summit. Biden said, "This week and the lead-up to the G7 in France, President Trump has continued his irrational and self-defeating campaign to make America less secure and less respected in the world. He has insulted our closest partners and denigrated one of our most capable allies, Denmark, a country that has repeatedly fought and sacrificed alongside our troops." In that statement, Biden also criticized President Trump for his approach to Russia as well as his handling of our NATO alliances. And I also want to play a moment for you, a heartfelt moment for you, from last night's event at a campgrounds up in New Hampshire where Biden was asked by this woman about what he would do to help those who are less fortunate. Take a listen to what he had to say.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is food security. My neighbors are starving. (Inaudible)
JOE BIDEN, 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know. I know it's happening...
BLACKWELL: Let's go back to that working lunch, President Trump. Listen.
TRUMP: The Eiffel Tower dinner. That was a very good beginning. We have some great things to talk about and couldn't ask for better weather or a more beautiful location. Next year we'll be hosting in the United States, so that will be great. Very good. That'll be great. We'll do a good job. But so far so good. The weather is perfect. The guest is fantastic (ph). Everybody's getting along and I think we'll accomplish a lot this weekend. And I look forward to it. Thank you for having me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, press.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: All right. So just a few words there from President Trump, exchanging some pleasantries with the French President Emmanuel Macron, talking about the U.S. hosting next year the Group of 7 meeting and weathering all of that.
But of course they have some very serious topics to cover over the next three days. This was just a working lunch, a greeting there between the U.S. President and the president of the host country. As more headlines come out, of course, we'll bring them to you. The president en route to France mentioned that if France went through with this potential digital tax against U.S. companies that the U.S. would then tax or place a tariff on French wines, quote, "like they have never seen before," close quote. We've now had the response from Donald Tusk, the European Council Chairman, the president, who said that the E.U. would respond in kind. So potentially trade war on that end as well as we watch what's happening with China. We'll talk about all this throughout the morning.
Still to come, the NRA is making their influence on the gun control debate known, pushing back on measures like stronger background checks, but there are a lot of gun owners who are not falling in line with the NRA line. Coming up, we'll talk to a former NRA member who is reflecting about the moment he says the group lost him forever.
PAUL: Now, there are still a lot of questions about what lawmakers are actually going to get done in addressing mass shootings once Congress returns from their recess. The NRA will likely have a say. Just this week we learned pressure from the National Rifle Association played a role, and a big one, in changing the president's tune regarding background checks. His focus instead turned to mental health. Let's talk about this with James Galliano, CNN law enforcement analyst and Ross K. Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers. And Ross, I'd like to start with you if I could please because I know that you wrote on op-ed in the "USA Today" and you talked about the day the NRA lost you forever. I know that you were a member of the NRA since you were 12 years old. What happened? What was that moment where your mind changed?
ROSS K. BAKER, FORMER NRA MEMBER: Well, I happened on an NRA show in suburban Virginia when I was living in the Washington area, and I was induced to coming to the show because of a very generous discount the NRA was giving for people who were willing to either sign up or to rejoin, and would be rejoining because I'd let my membership lapse. And I went inside, and frankly I was appalled by one of the things that was very prominent in the show, and that was people selling Nazi memorabilia. And that's something I just never associated with the NRA. When I got my bolt action .22-caliber Mossburg rifle from my dad along with an NRA card when I was 12 years old, it was a wholesome organization. I think it's now become nothing more than a front for gun manufacturers, and I think it attracts a very dubious element of people who just see no limit to the amount of firepower that they need to protect themselves.
PAUL: You know, James, the White House is eyeing this proposal that would try to identify early warning signs of violent behavior in people with mental illness. So they're trying to shift the debate here from guns and the availability of them to mental illness. But the reality is there are mental illness issues in every pocket of the world. But every pocket of the world does not have the mass shootings that the U.S. does. What is your reaction to that?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, Christi, the available data we have, the FBI conducted a preincident indicator study between 2000 and 2013. They looked at about 160 mass shootings, and I believe they determined that in 25 percent of those, so 1 in 4, there were some mental health considerations. Look, to our other guest's point, I agree, there's a lot of low-hanging fruit there. We can certainly look at mental health. We can look at our culture. We can look at HIPAA and FERPA privacy protections that make it difficult for law enforcement. But in the Dayton, Ohio, shooting the subject there had a double-drum magazine that held 100 rounds and in a recently foiled plot in Long Beach, California, police came upon and arrested thankfully pre-incident a guy that had 38 30-round magazines. I just believe there's some low-hanging fruit there that we can all wrap our arms around and get together on and get pushed through for legislation that will make a difference Christi.
PAUL: But this has been going on for years. I have to follow up with you, James, and ask what is it that makes you think this time is different?
GAGLIANO: You know, that's -- that's a great question. I try to stay between the white lines of law enforcement matters and I understand there is a legislative component here. Again, we can legislate this to death and it is not going to be a panacea or end-all-cure-all. But we have to do something. I mean bump stocks after the Las Vegas massacre that took a long time to happen. How can anybody argue against universal background checks? This is low-hanging fruit. Will it prevent every mass shooting? No. We live in a world that's ripe with evil but if it prevents one, isn't it worth it?
PAUL: Good point. Ross, you wrote -- I want to read something from your op-ed. You wrote, "Today the organization," speaking about the NRA, "has become nothing more than a front for firearms manufacturers and its leadership is corrupted by vanity and self-dealing. The organization's become a source of personal enrichment for the chief executive, Wayne Lapierre, who ranked in a cool $1.37 million in 2017 plus additional benefits. The NRA I once belonged to and later briefly rejoined was not a family business whose leader has demanded a $6 million mansion in a gated luxury golf club on the pretext of personal safety. Today's NRA is a degraded and morally compromised organization that bears no relationship to the one I looked up to as a kid." Do you believe there is a space for an organization like the former NRA that you knew?
BAKER: Oh, I absolutely believe that there's an organization that's dedicated to the proper and sane treatment of the Second Amendment. I don't happen to agree with Justice Scalia's opinion in the Heller case, which of course created the right of personal ownership of guns.
But I think that there's an organization that can represent responsible gun owners, people who don't want to have these extended magazines or drums that carry 100 rounds. I think the gun ownership is a proper thing. But this is not about hunting. This is not about bolt- action rifles. This is not about revolvers. This is about assault rifles. This is about high-capacity magazines and the ability to deal death and an alarming and horrifying rate.
PAUL: So James let me ask you this becuase he brings up a point about the assault rifles and the high-capacity guns that we've been talking about that for some reason are still legally out there. Let's say that that's pulled back. Say that they are now illegal. How do you collect them? How do you get them out of the hands of people who may be at risk?
GAGLIANO: Yes, that's the distinction there. You're not going to collect them. Look, we live in a country with 335 million people. I believe at last count there were roughly 300 million firearms out there. The vast majority of Americans that own them do so responsibly. They follow the rules. They do it for the right reasons. Look Christi, the Second Amendment's been around since 1791. I understand its utility. I think it's an important component that is a right that we have to keep and to bear arms.
But the founding fathers could not have envisioned what we can do mechanically with weapons these days. Look, the issue becomes the assault weapon. How do you define it? Collapsible stock, pistol grip, detachable magazine, shrouded barrel, suppressor on the end. Those are all things that people that argue about the need for that for hunting, I don't understand it. I'm a former military guy, law enforcement guy. I just don't understand the connection there.
PAUL: Yes. James Galliano and Ross Baker, thank you both so much for taking time for this morning.
BAKER: Thanks, Christi.
BLACKWELL: So we just dipped into the working lunch with President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron there at the G7 summit. What are they talking about? Well we have some answers for you. We're going back live to France next.
TRUMP: We look forward to it but we actually have a lot in common, Emmanuel and I. We've been friends for a long time and every once in a while we go at it a little bit, not very much. We get along very well. I think I can say we have a special relationship. We all remember the Eiffel Tower dinner and that was a very good beginning, and we have some really great things to talk about and we couldn't ask for better weather or a more beautiful location. Next year we'll be hosting in the United States so that will be very good.
PAUL: President Trump holding a working lunch there with the French President Emmanuel Macron as world leaders assemble for the G7 summit in France this weekend. Did he just say once in a while?
PAUL: We, you know...
BLACKWELL: Once in a while we go at it just a little bit.
PAUL: Just a little bit.
BLACKWELL: But not very much.
BLACKWELL: OK. We'll see how that reconciles with what actually happens this weekend. CNN Senior White House Correspondent Pamela Brown in southern France. Pamela, hello to you. The president says once in a while we go at it a little bit, that's right after saying at the White House, if you create this digital tax, I'm going to tax your wine.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely right. It was interesting that the president exchanging pleasantries, calling Macron a friend, but hinting at some of the key differences the two leaders have as it pertains to trade, to climate change, to Iran. And you're right, just as he left the White House last night to board Air Force One, the president threatened tariffs on French wine, something he's done before, in retaliation for the digital tax that the president believes targets innovative U.S. companies. He is expected I'm told by sources to confront Macron face-to-face on that matter. And I'm told that it's not an empty threat, that if there isn't a solution to that or something that would ease that tax, the president will move forward with those tariffs.
That's just one issue on the table. The two leaders have a number of pressing issues they want to talk about. Macron said that he wants to discuss with the president issues in Syria, Ukraine, North Korea and Iran. He said both leaders want to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran, but of course they both disagree on how to go about that. Of course there is climate change with wildfires in the Amazon. But top of mind for the president we know is the economy.
He wanted to come here this weekend, reluctantly, we're told, telling aides he thought it was a waste of time, but he still wanted to come to tout the economic accomplishments that he sees as strengthened the U.S. economy, that he believes he can share advice with other countries on how to strengthen their economies. But of course there is a global economic slowdown and many of the G7 leaders believe that is due in part to the president's escalating trade war with China. Back to you.
BLACKWELL: Let's see if anything is accomplished once they get beyond the pleasantries. Pamela Brown for us there; thank you so much.
PAUL: So Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg obviously is not letting recent cancer treatments slow her down one bit. She's hitting Broadway. She's ready to give speeches. The 86-year-old justice is able to keep up with her busy schedule. How is she? We'll talk about it.
PAUL: Well, let's talk about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just completing three weeks of treatment for pancreatic cancer.
BLACKWELL: So the Supreme Court says the tumor was first detected last month and that no further treatment is needed at this time. Ginsburg is 86 years old and was nominated to the court by President Clinton in 1993. Let's go now to CNN's Joan Biskupic. She's with us from New York. Joan, this is Justice Ginsburg's fourth bout with cancer. An optimistic statement from the court, but how serious are her health issues?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, these are serious issues, but she keeps finding them early on. Physicians -- she gets herself checked so regularly because in 1999 when she had the colorectal cancer scare and survived that, she just got into the practice of constantly being checked. And in 2009, when she had the pancreatic cancer, there were all sorts of dire warnings, but she survived that. And then last year of course it was the lung cancer that she survived. So she is getting these treated early, which obviously helps her situation, but she is 86. So at this point, with her travel schedule and the way she's talking and the court's talking we'll have to take her at her word that things are okay for now.
PAUL: So what do you anticipate is next for her?
BISKUPIC: OK. So here's the thing. She wants to be visible. So she's continued her travel schedule. She's always been the sort of person who has a renewed sense of mission after any of these cancer ordeals. So she hasn't changed any of her of schedule for the next couple of months in terms of speeches and appearances.
She's expected to be on the bench the first Monday in October. And we had a recent clue into her approach to her daily life at her age. She referred to the fact that Justice John Paul Stevens, who recently died at age 99, had taken a trip to Lisbon shortly before he passed away. And she said it might have been a risky trip for someone who was 99, but he wanted to live every single day to its fullest. And I think that's her attitude. Here she is 86. Some people would say, please, rest up a little bit, why don't you sit home, watch a little TV, you know, shore up your energy for cases, but she wants to be out there and wants to be visible.
BLACKWELL: All right. Joan Biskupic, thanks so much.
BISKUPIC: Sure. Thank you.
PAUL: Thanks Joan.
So a former boxer survives a murder-for-hire plot against him. How did he manage to escape this and he's got some advice for other people who might find themselves in abusive situations. That's straight ahead.
PAUL: Listen, this is an unbelievable story, about a former boxer who faked his own death, to escape a murder-for-hire plot against him. And get this, the plot was orchestrated by his wife. "I Walked on My Own Grave" is the book. It recounts in detail the events that led to Ramon Sosa's wife hiring a hitman to kill him. Ramon wants to be a voice for men now who are in abusive relationships and don't see a way out. We talked about that.
RAMON SOSA, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BOXER: When I met Lulu back in 2009, she was a beautiful lady that had just moved down to Houston, for a better life, from Mexico City, with her two kids. We had a lot in common, she was very athletic, very beautiful person. She treated me like a king. A year and a half later, we married. It was a wonderful marriage for the first three years. She became an American citizen. Her kids became an American citizen. Even her mother became an American citizen because of me. We had a wonderful time.
And then things started changing when we, it was kind of difficult merging our families, I have three kids from a previous marriage and she had two, and it was kind of difficult, with her kids, especially with her young, the older boy, but when I did find out that she was trying to kill me, it was just the most horrific thing that I can ever think of.
PAUL: Do you remember that moment when he said she is trying to hire a hitman to kill you?
SOSA: Well, what happened was me and Lulu were going through a difficult divorce. It was something that, it was difficult but we had to go through, because it was not going to work out. We tried going through counseling. We also tried different things, but it was just not going to work out...
SOSA: ... and she wanted everything, but the thing was, when I found out, from them, that the bomb got dropped on me, that she was planning on killing me, or having me murdered, that was I was so angry, I didn't know what to do. It was anger. I was upset. I just didn't want to believe that the person that one time I loved so much and we lived together and had a great thing going was now trying to kill me.
PAUL: And you had an elaborate plan then to fake your death, and that lasted three days. Walk us through real quickly what that was.
SOSA: Yes. Well, what happened was when we first found out, between my friend and I, the guy that told me that she was trying to kill me, we did our own amateur undercover investigation. We just, he was recording everything that she was saying, and then once we thought we had enough evidence, we took it to the authorities, and then they went and did their own undercover investigation, and they brought their own undercover police officers, and then at the end, they thought they had enough evidence, but they said you know what, Ramon, we need one more thing for you to do, we are going to fake your death.
And I was thinking why, you know, I thought you had enough evidence to charge her with the crime. But they told me that she's a beautiful lady. She's never been in trouble with the police. She's the mother of two kids. We don't want to take a chance on going to trial, and having one of the jurors feeling pity for her, so we are going to fake your death and show your picture that you're dead, and that would be evidence that the job has been done and that's how it happened. So they put me in a hotel for three days, and ...
PAUL: You had makeup on, and you acted, they showed a picture of you dead to her, as I understand it.
SOSA: Yes. They took me to a grave site, and put, you know, but a bullet hole on the side of my head and took a picture of it and that's what they showed her and she was happy when they showed her the picture. That really hurt too when I saw that she was so happy to see me dead. She even asked the undercover officer if I wasn't going to get up and he said, "No he's dead."
PAUL: Oh, my gosh.
PAUL: I know part of the reason you are talking about, this a big part of the reason is because you want people to understand that she was abusive, she was accusing you of being abusive, you say it was actually the opposite. What message is it that you want people to know?
SOSA: You know, I'm using this, what happened to me, to help others, especially men, because men that find themselves, that are victims, of domestic violence, tend not to speak up. They are embarrassed to go to the police and report these types of crimes because they're afraid that they're not going to believe them.
Like in my case, look at me, I'm an ex-professional fighter; I'm a boxer and I feel so much shame that I would have to call the police because I couldn't take care of this lady. I was never going to be physical with her but I would just feel so much shame and so embarrassed to call the police about this type of stuff. So that's what I do now. I talk to men and women too that need to speak up. There is a lot of help out there. They don't need to feel shame or embarrassed or -- because there's help, and they need to speak up, and men hurt, too, you know, this happens a lot to men, more than most people think. But we need to speak up. And if you're going through this type of stuff, domestic violence, men or women, speak up, especially men, because you're not alone. You're not alone.
PAUL: Ramon Sosa, you are a strong brave man and we appreciate the fact that you are talking about this. Thank you so much.
SOSA: Thank you so much for having me on the show. I would just like to say that I mean take it from me, you know, I walked to my own grave and I look at life very differently now.
PAUL: Yes. No doubt about it. You have a lot to share. Thank you.
SOSA: Thank you. Thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: Remarkable story there. Thank you so much for spending your morning with us.
PAUL: Yes. We're back here at 10:00 with you -- 10:00 a.m. eastern, for CNN "Newsroom" but Smerconish is with you in just a moment. Stay close.