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Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) Ends Presidential Bid; Comedian Dave Chappelle Hosts Benefit Concert In Dayton, Ohio; Police Say Sheriff's Deputy "Made Up" Sniper Shooting. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 26, 2019 - 07:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:30:46] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Republican field for president now has one more candidate; the Democratic field, one fewer after our next guest just announced he is no longer running.

Congressman Seth Moulton says he will run for reelection to the House in Massachusetts and he will campaign for whoever gets the Democratic nomination in 2020.

Congressman Moulton joins me now. Congressman, why did you make the decision?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I was proud to get in this race. I don't think that there is a better foil for Donald Trump than a young combat veteran. And as the only combat veteran in the race, I was willing to take him on, not just as president but as a commander in chief, to challenge his ability to keep us safe.

But I always told my supporters, my friends, my volunteers across the country that if I ever got to a point where I just didn't see a path to the nomination then I would back out and focus my efforts on getting reelected to the house, but also supporting whoever becomes our nominee.

BERMAN: You told Kevin Cullen of "The Boston Globe", "It's a three- way race now -- Biden, Warren, and Sanders. I can see the writing on the wall. It's a debate about how far left the party can go."

What do you mean, how far left the party can go?

MOULTON: Well, just take health care as an example. I mean, all Democrats believe that everybody in America deserves health care. It's a human right. We're having a big debate in the party right now about to deliver on that right.

I personally believe we should double down on Obamacare -- strengthen Obamacare. And I say that from the perspective of being the only person who is in the race who had single-payer health care because I made a commitment to continue getting my own health care at the V.A.

And so, I wanted to see a public option that competed in a regulated market against private options that people would still be allowed to have.

But, of course, there are some Democrats who think that everybody should be forced onto a Medicare for All -- you know, a government plan designed in 1963 -- and I just don't think that's what most Americans want. That's not what I was hearing out, especially on the ground in Middle America.

BERMAN: So do you fear that there are some candidates pushing or pulling the party too far left?

MOULTON: Well, I think that's my point, you know. I mean, this is -- this is how this debate is playing out. And if we're going to be in the majority party we need to have the majority of views. So I don't have any problem with people who want to advocate for Medicare for All and make that case.

But if we choose a nominee who's focused on these kinds of programs, I think it's going to be very hard to win in the swing districts -- the swing states that we need to get --

BERMAN: Well --

MOULTON: -- if we're going to win this election.

BERMAN: So, using your own logic with "The Boston Globe," you said it's a three-candidate race between Biden, Warren, and Sanders. Two of those candidates, Warren and Sanders, support what you just told me was a health care plan that you feel is too far left.

So, of those three --

MOULTON: I can see where you're going.

BERMAN: -- of -- it's your own words, Congressman. Of those three candidates, who, then, do you see yourself more in line with?

MOULTON: Look, I'm not going to make an endorsement right now, but Joe Biden has always been a mentor and a friend of mine. I think he'd made a fantastic president. You know, there are other great candidates in this race as well.

I think it's important to say that I don't think it's a good thing that it's become a three -- a three-way race this early in the process. And I'm no political pundit but if you just look at the polling that's where we seem to be.

BERMAN: You think he's the most electable -- former Vice President Biden?

MOULTON: Well, I think that the most important thing in this race right now is just choosing the best person to take on Donald Trump. I don't think we've had a worse president in history and that's why it's so important that all of us do whatever we can to beat him, and that includes choosing the strongest nominee we have to take him on.

BERMAN: Is that Joe Biden? MOULTON: I mean, again, I'm not going to make an endorsement right now, John.

BERMAN: OK.

MOULTON: But I do think that the vice president has shown the experience and the courage in taking him on, but also to do so in a way that unites Americans that's necessary if we're going to win.

I mean, to win this race we have to build a very broad coalition and that includes everybody in the Democratic Party, and we can't leave any group out. But it also includes Independent Obama-Trump voters and even some disaffected Republicans. So we've got to find a nominee who can truly bring together that great unified coalition, not only to win in 2020 but ultimately, to accomplish our agenda in 2021.

[07:35:07] BERMAN: You were the first presidential candidate ever -- at least that I know of -- to talk about your own battles with post- traumatic stress.

And I know that as soon as this interview is over, later today, you're going to meet with Gen. Stanley McChrystal and you're going to continue to talk about veterans' issues and issues facing people like you.

What's your mission?

MOULTON: My mission is to continue doing what I did during the presidential campaign, which is elevate issues that I think should have more prominence in our party.

I was talking a lot about national security -- about how Democrats must have a strategy to keep us strong overseas and safe here at home.

I talked about mental health in a way that no other presidential candidate in history has talked about it, and I have the most ambitious mental health proposal out there of any -- of any candidate, current or former, and I want to see that enacted.

We're actually introducing a bill this week to make 988 a national mental health hotline.

So that if you have any issue, whether you're a veteran or a non- veteran, whether you're thinking about suicide or you're just simply looking to talk to someone, you can dial that number -- you don't need to look up all the different hotlines out there -- and just be able to talk to someone to get help. We're introducing that bill this week.

So I'm going to continue pushing my agenda and yes, a big part of that is speaking up for veterans.

And that's why I'm meeting with Gen. McChrystal today, doing a town hall for veterans in Virginia. And we're going to talk about how important it is for veterans to be involved in politics up and down -- up and down the ticket -- not only in the presidential race but in State House races across the country, in local races. We've got to build a Democratic bench and I know veterans are going to be a big part of that.

BERMAN: I wanted to give you -- and only about 15 seconds left, but I wanted to give you a chance to respond to what the president said about you the other day when you withdrew from the race.

He tweeted -- this is when the market was crashing on Friday -- "The Dow is down 573 points, perhaps on the news that Rep. Seth Moulton, whoever that may be, has dropped out of the 2020 president race!"

You have 15 seconds to respond to that.

MOULTON: Look, I don't think the president knows much about economics. That's pretty clear from his trade war and everything else. But the fact that he believes that Wall Street wanted me to win and so the market went down when I got out -- look, if it's a backhanded compliment, I'll take it.

BERMAN: All right, Congressman Seth Moulton. Thank you for joining us this morning. Good luck on your endeavors and the work you're doing. It's very --

MOULTON: Thanks very much.

BERMAN: -- much appreciated -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, John.

Comedian Dave Chappelle hosting a star-studded block party and a benefit concert in Dayton, Ohio to honor victims of the mass shooting there, which is his hometown, and to support their families and the survivors.

So, CNN's Polo Sandoval spoke with Chappelle and he joins us live from Dayton. So how did this go?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alisyn, good morning.

Having been here in Dayton now, several times in the last three weeks here since those shots rang out, I can tell you this community is still reeling with the deaths of those nine people -- nine of their own here. And they are doing everything they can to help in the healing and also to make sure that those nine people did not die in vain, and they had some of the help there from that familiar face.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(Gunshots)

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Three weeks after one of Dayton's deadliest nights, there are signs of healing in the downtown arts and entertainment community known as the Oregon District.

CNN talked exclusively with Dave Chappelle as he walked among his fellow Ohioans. The comedian and actor was the driving force behind Gem City Shine, a day-long block party that happened on the very street where nine innocent people were gunned down. DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN, ACTOR: I didn't know the scope of it, I didn't know the size of it. I didn't find out until later when I got off stage. And the next morning I called the man and, you know, this began to happen.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): What followed were weeks of planning and an outpouring of support, including from familiar faces like comedian and activist, Jon Stewart.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN, ACTIVIST: And to take that terrible memory and recreate a new one. And that's what's been occurring out there, and you watch the process -- kind of the city kind of exhale and set their resilience. So it's been -- it's been incredible.

CHAPPELLE: You look beautiful up here.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Chappelle also called on the everyday folks to step up and donate to families of the victims and those still recovering, both physically and emotionally.

CHAPPELLE: The best way to honor the people that were slain and even injured in this is to pick yourself up and to pick your city up and be better than you were before, you know. Otherwise, we don't want anyone to die in vain or suffer in vain. There are a lot of people suffering and it really affected the community a lot, but the way we're coming out of it, I think is what makes it such a great place to live.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): But for some of the faces in the crowd, Sunday's event offered a much-needed moment of levity.

CATHY PARSON, ATTENDED CONCERT: I'm just glad that the families are able to come out tonight and enjoy the fun activities that they have that Dave Chappelle set up for them. And I do appreciate the fact that he came out to do that for us. Oh my gosh, I am so grateful for him.

[07:40:04] SANDOVAL (voice-over): Dayton's mayor showing that appreciation on stage.

MAYOR NAN WHALEY, DAYTON, OHIO: We have declared it "Dave Chappelle Day."

SANDOVAL (voice-over): But as Chappelle told the masses, it's not about him or even just about being Dayton strong. He said he dedicated the day to the victims of all mass shootings across the country.

CHAPPELLE: If something like this happens in your city and you think of all the other times it happened, it makes it all very real. You realize these aren't numbers, these are people's lives. And it hurts -- like, not even in a political way, but just in a human way.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SANDOVAL: For Chappelle, certainly hitting close to home.

I should mention that the crowds, obviously, gone this morning but those efforts to honor those nine people, those will continue, Alisyn. In fact, just on Friday, the city mayor announced her intention to establish a permanent memorial to them and also to some of the survivors, too -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure they appreciate all of this love. Polo, thank you very much.

So, there's a battle to save the Amazon. CNN gets an aerial view of these raging wildfires and just how devastating they are. That's next.

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[07:45:17] CAMEROTA: CNN is getting an aerial view of the staggering devastation as large portions of the Amazon Rainforest burn. Scientists say more than 80,000 fires have scorched the forest so far this year, and that is an 85 percent pike over just last year.

So, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh flew over the inferno. He joins us live now from Brazil. Tell us what you've seen, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, absolutely startling to see exactly how apocalyptic it looks from above. We spent three hours flying over the worst-hit parts of the Amazon and frankly, at times, the smoke was so intense we couldn't even see much of the forest canopy.

We just heard from the French president, Emmanuel Macron, that $20 million are being pledged to fight this immediate crisis and they'll be talking about it at the U.N. shortly. But look at these pictures. A lot more than that needs to be done.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (voice-over): There's little below but goats (ph), and even they seem to have been given up on.

These are newest fires in the worst-hit state in the Amazon. We didn't see below us any of the 43,000 troops Brazil's president has pledged to the fight.

In fact, in some places it's so bad you can't even see how bad it is. That'll suit just fine those who'd rather ignore the world's most urgent environmental crisis.

No matter how high you are, you can't escape the smoke. We even closed our air vents inside the plane to stop it. The sun made this green paradise over millennia, but now barely peaks through the smoke of its destruction.

WALSH (on camera): These apocalyptic sites are kind of like the warnings about what might happen if the world doesn't do something about the climate crisis that you keep hearing. But instead, it's right below us, right here, and right now.

WALSH (voice-over): More startling is how much of this immense jungle people have managed to destroy in so short a time.

WALSH (on camera): Unbelievable.

WALSH (voice-over): They had help -- fires they lit and that happened naturally in the dry heat but usually peak later in the year.

ROSANA VILLAR, SPOKESWOMAN, GREENPEACE BRAZIL: This is not just a forest burning. This is almost a cemetery because all you can see is dead Amazon.

It's extremely fundamental for the water system for all over the continent. So if we cut off the forest, in some years, we're not going to have rain on the south of the country.

WALSH (voice-over): We find another area where the damage is fresher and easier to see. Raging in straight lines, swallowing everything left on the plain.

And when you look at this, you learn something about yourself. Do you see a crisis impacting every fifth breath you take of killing the future or do you see what man must do to nature to enrich himself and live better? The answer means little below where the fire burns our heritage and suffocates our future, regardless of how we feel about it.

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WALSH: At the end of the day, this is really about money.

Now, there's an urgent task to put the fires out. Possibly, rain will do that eventually and they will not probably burn forever on their own. But something has to be done right now to stop, frankly, the smoke, which is enveloping the city every day.

But money is what people are deforesting this forest for, for cattle, for woods, for anything they can lay their hands on. So the money being pledged by the G7 just now, tiny as it is, just perhaps the beginning of solving this problem in the long-term.

But right now, Israel is the only country sending aid here because Bolsonaro -- the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, will permit them in. Will others be allowed in to help? We'll have to see.

It appears now the Brazilian president has been engaged in a bit of a Twitter war between those who criticize him, so have to see if they can push past that and frankly, stop that astonishing destruction.

Alisyn, you just cannot really imagine how endless and devastating it is until you fly over it -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, we get a much better sense this morning thanks to your reporting, Nick, of it.

And, you know, we rely -- this is more than just a wildfire -- oh, it looks so shocking. We rely on the rainforest --

BERMAN: Well --

CAMEROTA: -- for so much around the globe.

BERMAN: And the Twitter war is not going to solve it, first of all. Second of all, those pictures are simply terrifying.

And as you point out, there are global implications here not just for all the people in South America who need to breathe and need rainwater and don't want their weather patterns disrupted, but this has impact all over the world.

I was just with some birdwatchers this weekend and all the migrating birds going south, they go to South America. They're going to get there and have no home.

[07:50:03] CAMEROTA: Yes, and we all need to breathe the oxygen --

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- that that rainforest provides and the medicine that is found within there.

Our thanks to Nick.

BERMAN: All right.

The report of a sniper targeting a sheriff's deputy set off an urgent manhunt in Southern California. Why that deputy is now out of a job and could face criminal charges. That's next.

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[07:54:27] BERMAN: All right.

New this morning, a strange twist to a story we covered last week. A sheriff's deputy in Southern California now says he made up the story about being shot outside the station. The initial report triggered a huge police response searching for a sniper.

CNN's Stephanie Elam live in Los Angeles. And there will be repercussions here, Stephanie, yes?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For sure. For one thing, this deputy will be out of a job and now, this investigation into what happened.

Now, keep in mind that this was a situation that put on lockdown this 4-story apartment complex that's across from this parking lot where the deputies park their personal cars.

[07:55:04] What Angel Reinosa claimed happened -- this 21-year-old deputy -- is that he was on his way to his personal car when he was fired upon. He called in for help. Other deputies ran to his aid to help them. There were holes in his shirt but it turns out now, according to this new information from officials, he actually used a knife to cut that bullet -- those bullet holes into his uniform, and that when he was taken to the hospital that they were able to treat him but it was not a penetrating wound. What they said had happened was that the bullet hit his bulletproof vest and ricocheted into his shoulder.

But then, in a very rare occurrence on Saturday night, the Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies coming out and discussing what happened, and saying that they believe this was all ricocheted by the fact that when they went to investigate this there wasn't much that was really backing up his claim. And that's when they found out that they believe that this would be false.

One thing that we can tell you is that there is a lot of discussion about the embarrassment of this. In fact, take a listen to a captain talking about exactly what they found that Reinosa has said and done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. KEN WEGENER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S HOMICIDE BUREAU: Angel Reinosa admitted that he was not shot at. He also told investigators that he had caused the holes in his uniform shirt by cutting it with a knife.

There was no sniper, no shots fired, and no gunshot injury sustained to his shoulder -- completely fabricated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: Remember, a school was put on lockdown as well.

The only thing they found in that 4-story apartment complex was a pellet gun that they took in for ballistic testing. Obviously, they're now thinking that it has nothing to do with this.

The Lancaster Sheriff's Station did put out on Facebook a message saying that they're "Angry, embarrassed, furious, unbelievable, ashamed. These are some of the words circulating our station's hallways since last night as our deputies try to wrap their minds around last night's press conference. The actions of one individual are not indicative of the who Lancaster Sheriff's Station deputies are."

But obviously, people very upset about this. And one thing we have heard is that his behavior and his productivity in this role, whether or not that was a motive to why he may have done this. But now, no word on that just yet.

BERMAN: Yes, and again, while the whole force was focused on that -- very dangerous. Something else could have happened. You just never know.

Stephanie Elam, thank you so much.

President Trump says he can order American companies out of China and he cites a law to prove it.

CAMEROTA: But is he right?

John Avlon knows the answer. He's here with our reality check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Hi, John.

AVLON: Hey, guys.

So, "American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China." That's what President Trump wrote on Friday when announcing an escalation of the trade war. But as a way of gauging his state of mind, it came two minutes after the president asked whether his own Fed chair Jerome Powell or China's Xi Jinping was, quote, "our bigger enemy."

But it was the imperial language that got some folks' attention.

"The Wall Street Journal" editorial board weighing in, saying, "Someone should tell Chairman Trump that this isn't the People's Republic of America."

One of Trump's Republican primary challengers, Bill Weld, also slammed the president, writing, "That a POTUS would ever utter the words 'American countries are hereby ordered...' is outrageous. That he believes he can actually carry out such an outrage is the insanity of a would-be dictator."

Trump, of course, doubled down by attacking the news media and arguing that he could order U.S. companies out of China thanks to the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. "Case closed," he said.

So what's the real deal? Well, this law is one of Trump's go-to's. It's the same line he invoked to justify his threat to increase tariffs on Mexico.

But the law was actually written to constrain presidential powers by replacing several World War I-era laws. The congressman who helped draft it, Jonathan Bingham, actually argued that the laws that replaced, quote, "Could have been dictatorial powers that the president could have used without any restraint by Congress."

So, this law President Trump was citing was specifically designed to rein in presidents by imposing transparency and involving Congress in the process, outside of real emergencies involving national security.

And its first use certainly fit the bill when President Jimmy Carter froze Iranian assets and trade after they seized hostages at the American embassy in Tehran.

Among other things, invoking this law requires a declaration of national emergency, something Trump hasn't yet done with China. But it's far from clear the trade wars were its intended target. One senior economic adviser to George W. Bush told "The New York Times" that invoking the law for "...these circumstances and for these purposes would be an abuse. The act is intended to address extraordinary national security threats and true national emergencies, not fits of presidential pique." And, presidential pique is the point here.

It should be obvious to everyone at this point that trade wars are not good and easy to win. The economic impact of tariffs may, indeed, cause American manufacturers to move operations to countries like Vietnam, as some have. But ordering them to do so just isn't within peacetime presidential powers.

The larger irony, of course, is that so many Republicans have rolled over for a president who orders around private businesses, attacks free trade, and acts like he thinks he's a king. I'm old enough to remember when conservatives were calling President Obama a king for things like executive orders designed to protect the Dreamers.

But for most conservative members of Congress today, they're.

END