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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Ends Automatic Citizenship for Kids of Some U.S. Troops, Workers Living Overseas; Biden Appears to Conflate Details in Telling War Hero Story; Family of Unarmed Man Killed by Police Takes Legal Action; Local Tribe Forced to Become Firefighters as Amazon Burns; "Fastest Woman on Four Wheels" Killed Trying to Break Own Record. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 29, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] PETER PERKOWSKI, LEGAL & POLICY DIRECTOR, THE MODERN MILITARY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA: Yes, thank you, Ana. And I think we need to be clear that it's not just naturalized citizens that this affects but also green card holders and also DACA recipients and others who are serving in our armed forces who, frankly, deserve to be rewarded and not punished.

But regardless of whether it's 100 people or one person, I think this targeting is inappropriate for people who should be focused on serving their country.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Are you hearing from any of the families that would be affected? What are they saying?

PERKOWSKI: Yes, we are. We've heard from families all over the globe. They're very anxious and worried about how this policy affects them and what it means and how best to respond to it.

At this point, we haven't had any answers and the policy and the announcements from USCIS have been very confusing.

Let's be clear, Ana, I think the Trump/Pence administration should be embarrassed at how this was rolled out. And it was irresponsible to announce it this way and have so many families worried about how this affects them.

CABRERA: What's important isn't so much the number of people here, but the population it targets. Why make it more difficult for children of people who are, in some cases, willing to risk their lives for our country?

PERKOWSKI: I can't answer the question why, Ana. But I will acknowledge that, yes, this policy is, like so many of Trump's policies, targeting immigrant communities. And again, we believe anyone who serves our armed forces should be rewarded.

But I think -- I'm worried that the policy will have collateral consequences to LGBTQ communities that we serve in the Modern Military Association.

And that's because those communities, couples, LGBTQ couples are more frequently using alternative reproductive technologies, such as surrogacy and egg and sperm donors and adoption. And cannot avail themselves automatically of birth right citizenship.

We're very worried for our members.

CABRERA: So you're worried about this leading to a larger goal that this administration has hinted at, and that is invoking birth right citizenship?

PERKOWSKI: Well, I'm worried that the population is larger than anyone is acknowledging. That is correct.

I don't know if the 100 number they're putting out includes DOD civilians, for example. Those are all mop laces we serve and we're worried how this policy affects them.

CABRERA: Understood.

Peter Perkowski, I really appreciate your perspective. Thanks for being here.

PERKOWSKI: Thanks for having me.

CABRERA: A manhunt for a married couple. Police say these accused murderers beat up their guards and got away, and now they're on the run. They're considered armed and dangerous.

Also, we're tracking Dorian, keeping a close eye on this powerful storm now expected to be a category 4 when it hits Florida.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:37:46] CABRERA: Now to the 2020 race. And this just into CNN. On the campaign trail and even before running for president, former Vice President Joe Biden has been telling a moving story about a war hero in Afghanistan. But after a "Washington Post" fact-check, it appears he's conflated details of three separate stories.

I want you to listen to this story he told at a town hall in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Young Navy captain, Navy, Navy, up in the mountains. They're behind a FOB, a forward operating base. Behind these great big barriers on top of a mountain in a godforsaken country.

One of his buddies got shot, fell down a ravine about 60 feet. Four- star general asked me would I go up into the fob. Now, everyone got concerned a vice president going up in the middle of this, but we can lose a vice president. We can't lose many more of these kids, not a joke.

This guy climbed down a ravine, carried this guy up on his back under fire. And the general wanted me to pin the Silver Star on him. I got up there and, this is the God's truth, my word as a Biden, he stood at attention. I went to pin him and he said, sir, I do not want it. Do not pin it on me, sir. Please, sir, do not do that. He died. He died.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The problem is, it seems the former vice president has mixed up some of the key details of those events.

CNN's Jessica Dean has been fact-checking this story.

Jessica, what's missing here?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Hi, Ana. We're putting together all of this. The "Washington Post" doing that fact-check. You showed the video there from a town hall in New Hampshire where he told that very moving story.

As we've seen, it appears he's taking true stories but conflating the details and making it into one story.

He did, in fact, awarded a serviceman a medal that that soldier did not want, asked not to receive. He emotionally didn't want it. But it's not the same person that was in that story that he told. It's a different type of medal than in that story he told as well.

[14:40:02] Now, as the "Washington Post" put it, and I'm quoting here from their piece. It said -- they said, "In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch, and the rank of the recipient wrong as well as his own role in that ceremony.

So far, Ana, the Biden campaign is not commenting on this yet officially. He is in South Carolina. He does have public appearances today. He's already had one. He's headed for another.

The only thing we heard from the Biden campaign is a tweet from his deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, and she just quoted the final piece, the final paragraph in that "Washington Post" piece in which they interviewed the serviceman.

And they say that his version is the same, but with one added detail. He recalled meeting Biden's gaze. This is when Biden did award him that medial. Eight years later, workmen remember how Biden looked at him. "He has that look where his eyes can see into your eyes. I feel like he really understood."

That was the quote the deputy campaign manager was putting out.

But, again, Ana, no official word from the campaign yet.

The big takeaway here is that he did tell this story on Friday. And it appears he took true stories from three different events and conflated those details into one story.

CABRERA: OK. Jessica Dean, thank you for that reporting.

The images out of the Amazon, the past few weeks have been powerful. They're heartbreaking. See exactly what firefighters are up against when they go into the jungle and fight these flames. Our Nick Paton Walsh just got back from the frontlines and joins us from Brazil, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:46:08] To California now. A family of a Chinese immigrant killed by police during a marijuana bust is bringing legal action against the Chino Police Department. Li Xi Wang was not armed and was hiding behind a door when one of several officers who were executing a search warrant on July 3rd shot and killed him.

CNN's Stephanie Elam joins us from Los Angeles.

Stephanie, police are now releasing the body cam video of this shooting. I know it's fairly disturbing. What's the reasoning for the timing of releasing now?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for one thing, Ana, the family -- we did hear from the attorneys representing the family that have begun this legal action against the Chino Police Department.

This did happen July 3rd. It's quite a while ago. We do know there are three different investigations into the shooting that are happening now, one from the police department, the Chino Police Department, the district attorney's office, as well as the San Bernardino County sheriff.

One thing I need to note, the video that they have released is highly edited by the police department itself. Let me show you the part just before this man was shot so you can see for yourself what it looks like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CHINO POLICE DEPARTMENT: I have a search warrant. Hold your hands up.

UNIDENTIFIED CHINO POLICE DEPARTMENT: How many people inside?

UNIDENTIFIED CHINO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Anyone else inside the house?

(SHOUTING)

UNIDENTIFIED CHINO POLICE DEPARTMENT: You don't want to hurt anybody?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CHINO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Let me see your hands.

(GUNFIRE) (END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: So right there, you can see the man behind the door. They did in this video show they did knock on the door three times, announce they were police officers going through. But you can also see in the video that at least one officer walked by the man behind the door before the officer behind him sees him.

In the video, they say several officers walked past him at this point. And that's when Li Xi Wang was hit, one time, one bullet. But later had to be taken off life support by the family.

The Chino Police Department saying they recovered 1500 marijuana plants, $35,000 in cash, and evidence of grand theft. However, the family says he's being misrepresented as to what was happening here.

Take a listen to Daniel Deng, a lawyer representing the Wang family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL DENG, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING FAMILY OF LI XI WANG: Two years ago, when marijuana was legalized, just like any other workers, he was trying to find a job. And he was hired to take care of the marijuana house. He's not a drug dealer. He's not a smuggler. He's just a simple worker trying to make a living by taking care of marijuana.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: It's worth noting that the police say he was unarmed. They didn't find any weapons in the house. The family also saying that the money that was found, that $35,000, part of that was representing Wang's life savings -- Ana?

CABRERA: OK. Stephanie Elam, thank you for that story.

As the Amazon Rainforest continues to burn, a local tribe is taking matters into their own hands and becoming firefighters. Leaders of South American nations have agreed to meet on policies, but these raging wildfires are devouring chunks of the Rainforest every hour.

CNN senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, just returned from the front lines of the fire.

Nick, tell us about these indigenous tribes and how they're battling the fires?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what they call Mother, the earth, where they've lived for centuries. And it's been increasingly depleted by a Brazilian government that seems to want to get agri-business in there, mainstream agriculture.

We heard today President Bolsonaro issuing a wide federal ban on people using fire to clear their land. Something considered to be part of the problem in starting these fires.

But you have to see from the grounds level, the fires rage like a wall pushing through the land.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (voice-over): Dusk isn't when you rest when the Amazon burns, it's when the day cools enough to give firefighters a chance. Everything we see in a bumpy hour's drive to nowhere turn to ashes in the last four days.

[14:50:04] This is how. The wall, that marches across the bush and into the trees when it can.

(on camera): It feels a bit like the end of the world, doesn't it? When flames rage like this, the firefighters have to pull back and there's nothing they can do really until the wind dies down.

(voice-over): Destruction that overshadows an entire branch of our species here.

The Tinharin (ph) are an indigenous community a thousand strong who they legally own nearly a million hectares nearby.

UNIDENTIFIED TRIBE MEMBER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WALSH: The next generation will have a darker future he says.

UNIDENTIFIED TRIBE MEMBER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WALSH: Since this president came to power, these things are happening a lot more.

President Jair Bolsonaro is keen to bring what he calls progress to Amazon, even pushing letting these areas to be commercially farmed for the first time.

The raging fires, all of which here have burned since he pledged to send 45,000 troops, clear land for farming, too.

The sunrises again on little bit less of this marvel.

The Tinharin (ph) didn't want to be a part of our world but now it wants part of them.

All around are signs ever what's fueling the infer no, land cleared for cattle so we can eat more beef.

Logging and deforestation to enable crops like soy to grow line the busy roads.

The firefighters that tackle the blaze here, a three-hours' drive from the nearest village.

This is the land we flew over four days before, but the devastation is more final from the ground.

Fires do occur naturally in the brush, like Bolsonaro says, but it was startling how nearly every policeman, firefighter or official we spoke to said very many are caused deliberately. To clear land. To farm. To alleviate poverty. Or to just make the rich richer.

Yet, they don't have the water here to put the fire out, only to stop its spread.

Damage limitation only with the most basic tools on the front line of this global environmental crisis.

(on camera): The scales involved here are absolutely unimaginable. Such vast swaths affected. We just drove just through a tiny patch that has been destroyed so quickly.

The idea of Brazil, sadly, being able to put these fires out entirely while they burn is a big one. And it certainly I think damaged. You saw the damage, demarking areas so it doesn't continue to burn. Even massive international help isn't going to put these things out in the days ahead.

The question is, how do you stop the cause of it. You heard there how many people consider many of these fires to be started deliberately. And I think many believe, certainly in that area, you got to address that, first, and the political culture that feeds it before you can see these fires begin to decrease and not become something that gets worse every year -- Ana?

CABRERA: Keep bringing us the latest and the reality there on the ground.

Nick Paton Walsh, really appreciate that reporting. Thank you.

More on our breaking news. Hurricane Dorian now poised to be a category 4 storm when it hits Florida in a few days.

Plus, a daredevil and a TV host known as the fastest woman on four wheels dies while trying to break her own record.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:57:56] CABRERA: She's known as the fastest woman on four wheels. Race car driver, Jessi Combs, died this week trying to break her own speed record. And now investigators are trying to determine what caused the crash that killed her.

CNN entertainment reporter, Lisa France, is joining us now.

Lisa, Jessi Combs was more than just a fast driver. She was a TV host on some pretty popular shows. What are investigators looking at?

LISA FRANCE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: They are looking to try to figure out what caused the crash. People are interested because she was a very talented race car driver.

She had first set the record for being the fastest woman back in 2013. Then she broke her own record in October when she went over 480 miles per hour in a four-wheel vehicle, which is crazy.

So people knew she was extremely skilled. They are trying to figure out why in the world this fatal accident happened.

CABRERA: Such a tragedy. She had a popular run on the TV show "MythBusters." Talk to us a little more about her role.

FRANCE: She stepped in during season seven when one of the other hosts went on maternity leave. "MythBusters" is a show that had a die-hard fan base. The fans love it and they don't like change. But they embraced her wholeheartedly because they saw she was as in love with science and engineering and technology as they were.

And she's been a huge proponent. She was in other shows, like Spike TV's "Extreme 4X4." She was in "All Girls Garage." And she is being hailed as a woman who was about letting people know the industrial game wasn't just for men. That women could also be empowered through it.

She had her own line of wielding tools specifically for women. She was a huge proponent of STEM and women being actively involved and really getting involved and mixing it up with boys doing stuff like racing cars and engineering projects and things like that.

So it's a huge loss for the community.

CABRERA: She has a legacy.

Thank you, Lisa France.

FRANCE: Thank you.

CABRERA: Top of the hour. I'm Ana Cabrera, in for Brooke Baldwin, on this Thursday.

[14:59:56] We're watching Hurricane Dorian making its slow churn to the U.S. Dorian is expected to make landfall somewhere along Florida's east coast by Monday as a powerful category 4. Right now the storm remains a category 1.