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Dorian Strengthens into Category 1 Hurricane; Grieving Community Outraged Over Deaths of 12 Children Since April; Trump Turns Against Fox Saying Network Not Doing Enough for Him; Vet Carries Fellow Marine Who Lost Legs on Utah Mountain. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 28, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We are watching the path of Hurricane Dorian very closely. Right now the category 1 storm is hanging over the U.S. Virgin Islands and ready to thrash Puerto Rico with heavy rain and potentially damaging flash flooding. Forecasters predict Dorian will welcome a major storm possibly category 3 hurricane by Sunday over the Bahamas, and then it heads toward the U.S. mainland with an eye on the southeast.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is live in San Juan with conditions there and Polo, talk to me about how's the rain.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: So we had that first outer band a little while ago here. Brooke. It came with a little bit of wind, it came with some of the rain, that sent the people off the beach, but now that that's past ahead of what we are expecting to be a very busy evening. But folks have come back out here for just a little here while here in San Juan.

Here's what officials are doing this very second. They had previously deployed resources to the southern edge of the island when they thought that Dorian was perhaps going to be heading that way. And then this morning they woke up to the forecast showing a very different path. So at this moment, they're scrambling resources to the northeastern part of the island, and also the southeastern places as well.

I should mention that officials are really quite concerned about the rain that is it expected later tonight. It's very clear that this by no means will be Maria when it comes to the wind, but when it comes to the rain, the concern here is that parts of San Juan could see up to 4 inches, the more mountainous regions up to 10. And that then creates the potential for flooding, for mudslides as well, cutting off some of the more rural parts.

So that's really what we're seeing right now in Puerto Rico. It really is business as usual if you were taking a walk here on the beach. But officials are recommending that folks simply not come out if they don't have to here. Because the worst is still ahead.

Those conditions are supposed to get much worse later today, Brooke. But at this point, again, the main concern is just trying to get the word out, and let's remember what happened two years ago, the electrical grid, it was hit hard, it was crippled. And took months for some people to get power restored.

The concern is that some of that infrastructure today, Brooke, it is still fragile and it could take -- even before Dorian turned into a hurricane, just as a tropical storm that was already seen as a threat. So you can imagine with the storm getting bigger, growing stronger, those concerns also going to grow more significant on behalf of the authorities -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes. I see those beach goers behind you, nice for now, heed the warnings, though, Polo Sandoval, we'll be staying in close contact with you. Thank you, sir, very much.

Now to this, here's a quote, I miss his laugh, a young girl's tearful response to losing her friend to gun violence. Just one of a dozen children killed in one American city since April. What heart broken families told our correspondent Ryan Young.


BALDWIN: A dozen children have been killed just since April in a single American city, and each one of these faces you're about to see the young victim of gun violence. Over the weekend in the aftermath of the latest shootings in St. Louis, city officials announced a grim formula for calculating rewards leading to the killers, $25,000 for each child younger than ten. The clock is ticking and the reward money expires this Sunday.

Ryan Young is CNN's national correspondent. He is there in St. Louis and I know you spoke with some of these victim's families. How are they doing?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, you know this just heartbreaking to have this sort of conversation, you think about it, we're in the neighborhood where Xavier was shot and killed. He was just a 7-year-old, in fact, he loved playing with Spiderman. That was his thing and of course, now his picture is up front here. This young man wasn't playing with balls he was dodging bullets.


DE 'OSHA SANDERS, XAVIER'S FRIEND: He will always make me feel safe.

YOUNG (voice-over): Two sisters and a friend too young to be saying this.

DE 'OSHA SANDERS: I miss his laugh. I miss his voice.

YOUNG: They were all playing with 7-year old Xavier Usanga in their backyard when gunfire broke out down the block. A bullet hit Xavier in the throat.

TRINITY USANGA, XAVIER'S SISTER: I've been mad and sad sometimes.

YOUNG: Dawn Usanga could only watch as violence in the neighborhood took another child, hers. DAWN USANGA, MOTHER OF XAVIER: Everybody says it's not going to

change. You know what, it's really time for a change. We're killing more kids than we can keep count of.

YOUNG: That message repeated by at least a dozen families in St. Louis, that's how many kids have been killed here just since April, the youngest only two, the pain hard to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The happy memories that we had ain't even enough, it's just --

YOUNG: These families told us they want the nation to feel their pain. If the photos aren't enough, listen to this man, a bystander, he tried to save 8-year-old Jurnee Thompson.

MARK VASQUEZ, WITNESS: She was unresponsive, we tried to find the bullet wound. Found it in in her abdomen. You could see the life leaving her.

YOUNG: Jurnee was hit when shots rang out outside a high school football game.

RASHEED THOMPSON, JURNEE'S FATHER: Jurnee was a lover, a protector, a fighter.

YOUNG: Her father says Jurnee wanted to be a police officer. She was always the protector.

[15:40:00] THOMPSON: In this instance since my nephew had a gun pointed at him, Jurnee would not move, Jurnee took a bullet so my 16- year-old nephew could live.

YOUNG: Community leaders say what's happening in St. Louis is the result of an urban core in social and economic decay.

ALD. BRANDON BOSLEY, 3RD WARD, ST, LOUIS: We have a bunch of individuals, I want you to know, who are trying to grow up in a system that never realistically had -- they really never had a fighting chance.

YOUNG: Why should the nation care about this problem here?

JAMES CLARK, BETTER FAMILIES ST. LOUIS: Because in every urban core you have the same mentality that is on display in St. Louis right now.

God bless you, brother.

YOUNG: A mentality that James Clark says that fosters kids who don't have hope where violence is accepted. He wants funding for trained outreach workers from the neighborhoods to intervene one house at a time. But he's also urging the community to look at itself.

CLARK: We shoot each other dead in the street, every day of the week in every major city. And we've got to give it the attention that it demands. I can appreciate professional athletes taking a knee for what police do to African Americans, but what athlete is going to have the courage to take a knee for what we do to each other. That's what time it is right now. We cannot fight racism and each other at the same time.


YOUNG: Brooke, this story is so painful, when you sit there and talk to two young sisters who lost a brother, who loved Spiderman, loved hanging out. What do you offer them? They've gone back to school, but are they getting the counseling? There are so many people who are suffering here from PTSD, there's larger questions about what happens to the community that's left behind.

Now tonight there will be more of a town hall where they'll talk about solutions here, but there's a lot of people who are feeling the desperation here because they don't know how to help the young people who are trapped in the cycle of violence -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Too young and I appreciate your conversation with that, community activists, you know, talking about athletes taking a knee, maybe someone will watch this and maybe someone will for this very reason. Ryan Young, thank you so much for bringing that to us from St. Louis.

Eleven suspicious deaths prompting an investigation at a VA medical center in West Virginia, at least one death. The death of 82-year-old Army veteran Felix Kirk McDermott has been ruled a homicide. His family now has filed a wrongful death claim against this VA. And according to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, there is a person of interest.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): The person is no longer in contact with any patients whatsoever. And there's an investigation. That's what we knew. We did not know that there was a homicide that was connected with this. And what we're hearing about, there could be more victims. We don't know for a fact.


BALDWIN: Rene Marsh is CNN's government regulation correspondent. And Renee, the VA isn't releasing too many details. They say they are looking into potential wrongdoing. What prompted the suspicions?

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: So Brooke, this really is a string of deaths and they're all suspicious and they all have something in common. That's according to one of the family's attorneys. He says what they all have in common is that these patients all died from low blood sugar.

Now the family of Felix Kirk McDermott, a patient who died at the hospital, alleged he was injected with a fatal dose of insulin, either negligently or willfully by an unidentified person. He was 82 years old. An Army veteran and he did not have diabetes. The medical examiner determined that the insulin shot caused his blood sugar to drop fatally low.

His family also claims that each of these nine or ten other patients had received a large and wrongful injection of insulin in the abdomen that was neither ordered by a doctor or even medically necessary. In other words, they are alleging that these veterans at the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia were killed with an insulin shot that they did not need. That is their allegation.

The VA medical center is now under investigation, and both the VA Inspector General as well as federal law enforcement have been called in.

BALDWIN: So sad for these families, we'll follow the investigation, Rene, thank you very much.

President Trump claiming Fox News, quote, isn't working for us anymore. Us, what's behind the latest string of attacks against the once favored cable network.


BALDWIN: Two and a half years into the Trump administration, we are getting one of the clearer signs yet, that this President thinks the media should work for him. President Trump is now lashing out at Fox News today tweeting that the conservative outlet, quote, isn't working for us.

Arguing his supporters, quote, have to start looking for a new news outlet. This, after a segment featuring a DNC official. With me now, Oliver Darcy, our CNN senior media reporter.

[15:50:00] And I just have to, the way he said, isn't working for us, using that word specifically. It's like he's just outright saying, wasn't Fox an extension of me, or the White House, or the Republicans?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: He is explicitly saying, you know, that he effectively views Fox News as an organ of the Trump White House, as an organ of his re-election campaign and not as an independent news organization. He's criticized Fox in the past as we talked about it before but this really takes it one step further.

BALDWIN: Feels different.

DARCY: Yes. I mean it feels different because he's saying "us." If you look his tweet -- all read part of it.

He says that we have to start looking at a news outlet, Fox isn't working for us anymore. It feels different.

It feels like he is explicitly acknowledging what we have all known or suspected for a long time that Fox is really, you know, to some extent, part of the White House. He thinks the whole network is, and that's what he was saying in the tweet.

BALDWIN: Do you think if he continues to put the pressure on Fox, that Fox will bend? DARCY: Well, I think, one is that Fox News prime time hosts are not

going to be changing anything. They are going to be pretty supportive of the President, moving forward, into 2020. And I also think though that someone like Shepard Smith, who is one of the lone, you know, straight news anchors at Fox is probably going to be covering Trump aggressively as he has been doing before.

So I'm not sure anything is going to change here. It probably though is making things a little more difficult for the anchors who are trying to report the facts on air. Because they know that if they report something, you know, slightly critical of the President, that they could be on the receiving end of a Trump tweet.

BALDWIN: Because there is a differentiation, I think us in TV world know, sort of more Fox daytime tries to be, as you point, Shep and others, straight down the middle and then obviously, it switches toward those who are really opining, and more or less in Trump camp, you know, in the evening, and we know that. But it's a blurred line maybe for viewers, and also it seems for even Trump himself.

DARCY: Yes, Trump is sort of like the typical Fox News viewer. If you think about the typical Fox News viewer, someone who is watching it, it reminds me of someone like Trump. And so he's not seemingly understanding the difference between someone like Sean Hannity and someone like Shepard Smith. And I'm actually really curious, you know, Fox News hasn't commented on Trump's attacks. They're not going to it seems like moving forward.

But I'm curious where is someone like Sean Hannity? Where is someone like Laura Ingraham? Or Tucker Carlson to say, hey, it's my responsibility to give my opinion and I support your administration. But it's Shepard Smith's responsibility, it's Bret Baier responsibility to report the news straight, fair and balanced. And that requires talking to Democrats, that requires sometimes reporting things that you might not like. That's their job and when are they stand up for their colleagues?

BALDWIN: Oliver Darcy, all great questions. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

DARCY: Thanks. Brooke.

BALDWIN: More out of breaking news, the winds and rain are starting to hit Puerto Rico as hurricane Dorian barrels towards the U.S. mainland. So stand by for the new forecast. Plus the remarkable act of kindness from one marine to another. Don't miss this.


BALDWIN: I'm going to tell you about a rare news conference. It happened this afternoon at the Pentagon. The top two officials of the military held a joint Q&A with reporters and the new Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, and the Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford. And one of the topics, Afghanistan, and whether the U.S. should leave all together.


GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I don't think about it as we are going to withdraw. I think about we're going to initiate inter-Afghan dialogue, ideally leading to peace and stability for the Afghan people. And again, Afghanistan not being a sanctuary from which we can be attacked.

The President and the Secretary have been quite clear to me, that as this progresses, we are going to ensure that our counter-terrorism objectives are addressed. And so I think it is premature -- I'm not using the withdraw word right now. I'm using, we're going to make sure that Afghanistan is not a sanctuary, and we're going to try to have an effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.


BALDWIN: Secretary Esper, also contradicted the President by saying they are indeed concerned about North Korea's missile launches.

And let me leave you with this story today. I'll begin with just a photo. Two friends, hiking in the Utah mountains, came across this pair of hikers, and they were in awe. Because if you look really closely, they pulled out their cameras and they took photos as one man was without legs, was being carried up a steep mountain side on the back of the other.

Jonathon Blank lost his legs in Afghanistan, ten years ago and his fellow marine, John Nelson, who was now carrying him up this mountain, was actually by his side, when that explosion took his legs. Nelson says that he was driving in the Utah mountains one day, looked up, saw this high peak and thought he would like to take his friend to the top.


JOHN NELSON, CARRIED FELLOW MARINE UP MOUNTAIN WHO LOST HIS LEGS IN AFGHANISTAN: I thought this would be something epic, for him to experience, to actually get to, you know, to the saddle.

JONATHON BLANK, MARINE LOST HIS LEGS IN AFGHANISTAN: I got legs. I got legs. I couldn't imagine if I --


BALDWIN: How moving for them. I would love to talk to these guys. It takes a special kind of friendship to carry 135 pounds on your shoulders up more than 14 miles of steep terrain in Utah. But this is not the end for these two. Listen to this.

The pair plans another climb this coming Veterans Day, November 11th. They plan to hike Mount Whitney. In case you didn't know, Whitney is the tallest mountain in California. And Jonathon Blank explains it this way. Quote, we can do anything. We can maybe instill that mindset into other people. Jonathon Blank, thank you so much for that. Gentlemen, we applaud both of you for your service and for the climb. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. Dana Bash is in for

Jake. And "THE LEAD" starts right now.