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Dorian Strengthens to Major Category 3 Hurricane; FEMA Warns to Prepare as it Shifts Supplies from Puerto Rico to Florida; Colorado Woman Sues After Giving Birth in Denver Jail Cell; Rosenstein Targets Comey after Inspector General's Report. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 30, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] ANA CABRERA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The city of Miami is so concerned about scooters becoming projectiles during the storm that the city has now ordered companies to take them off the street.

Right now, as people are preparing, lines are already wrapped around gas stations. Stores are packed with shoppers, while companies rush to replenish empty store shelves.

All of Florida is under a state of emergency.

Here's what we're hearing from some residents.


LIZ WALTON, FLORIDA RESIDENT: It's a lot of work. It's a lot of work. And very nervous and arrange despite and everything.

JILLIAN SPARKS, FLORIDA RESIDENT: We're hoping everything comes out OK. But I'm kind of freaking out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe anything until it's here. It could shift, it could change. We've seen it do loop-to-loops and come back. You just don't know until it's here.


CABRERA: Let's head out to CNN's Dianne Gallagher. Picking up our team coverage today at Orlando International Airport.

Dianne, are the airlines or passengers expressing any concern so far?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ana, I wouldn't say passengers are expressing intense concerns right now. Behind the scenes, it doesn't look like a normal day.

Here behind me, it's as good as any Friday, especially the Friday of Labor Day. They get about 130,000 people on average each of these days of the last holiday weekend of the summer. They were already prepared for a large flow of people. Add the hurricane preparations, complications with flights, they're going to have a very long few days ahead of them.

I walked out of a meeting about half an hour ago where the airport was working with the airlines to try to determine what the hurricane track means for those flights coming in and out of here.

You have all sorts of amusement parks, Disney and Universal here, families taking those vacations.

Some of them decided maybe they should cut them short, just in case the hurricane got here quicker than they thought.


KATIE EVANCIC (ph), TOURIST: We were in Orlando for a family vacation for the week, and we were supposed to leave tomorrow. We cut it short by a day because we didn't want to get stuck here. We've got four little ones and they start school on Tuesday so we didn't want to risk being stuck. I would have loved to have stayed longer.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Yes. I want to stay longer, too. Yes.

GALLAGHER: You got kids here, you were nervous about getting out?

EVANCIC (ph): Yes, yes, because our flight was tomorrow. We knew that -- we didn't know when it was going to hit so we figured if we got out sooner, we'd be less likely to get stuck if it came in faster because one knew what it was going to do.


GALLAGHER: That's still really the case right now, Ana. In that meeting, the airline officials, the airport officials, government officials were talking about the fact that they weren't going to make those decisions until they had a better idea of the hurricane track.

As of now, they don't have a time frame for when the airport in Orlando is going to stop allowing passengers to fly in and out of it. The airlines make decisions on their own individual flight path. If you're flying, check with the airline.

CABRERA: Dianne Gallagher, you'll keep us posted as well, of course. Thank you.

Prepare, prepare, prepare -- that is the message FEMA is driving home to everyone in Florida.


PETER GAYNOR, ACTING FEMA DIRECTOR: A lot of people believe that the wind is what kills people. It's actually flooding. And 90 percent of all disaster-related deaths are flooding, 50 percent of that 90 percent are people in cars driving through flooded waters.

So again, turn around, don't drown. Don't put yourself, your family, your neighbors in danger. Don't put first responders in danger.

Keep yourself safe. The clock is ticking right now. Don't waste time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Ninety percent of storm-related deaths are from flooding.

FEMA is shifting resources like food, water and generators from Puerto Rico and Florida. And officials are already signaling that Dorian will come with multi-billion-dollar problems.

CNN's Rene Marsh covers aviation and government regulation.

What else is FEMA doing to get ready, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, when you talk to FEMA, they say they are ready. And all eyes are going to be on the man you just showed that sound bite from, the acting FEMA director, and how he leads the agency. Peter Gaynor, he took over after Brock Long resigned in February.

This will be Gaynor's first hurricane as head of the agency. But in FEMA's own words, they are bracing for a very big storm that warrants a big response.

Now, the agency says, if this is a category 4 storm, FEMA says it's going to cost in the billions of dollars. The damage will be both on the coast as well as inland. FEMA also says the storm will wreak havoc on infrastructure, power lines, roadways, of course.

Additional concerns are the elderly who live in the state of Florida. Many of them not always mobile. Getting them out will also be an issue -- Ana?

CABRERA: Rene Marsh, thank you for that update.

[14:34:55] A lot of questions for the medical team at a Denver jail. Video shows them standing by doing nothing to help as a woman gives birth alone in her cell, coming in only to take the baby away. What's behind such a lack of compassion? We'll discuss.


CABRERA: This next story defies logic and, frankly, human decency. A Colorado woman has filed a federal lawsuit after she was she forced to give birth alone in her Denver jail cell after more than five hours of crying for help.

[14:40:04] This video is from July of 2018. It shows nurses and deputies were close by Diana Sanchez, but provided little aid. At one point, someone slides what Sanchez's lawyer says is an absorbent pad under her cell door.

But ultimately, she had to do everything herself. We're not going to show the full video of the childbirth. As you can imagine, it's graphic.

As you can see here, her face contorted in extreme pain. Sanchez said, in the weeks after the birth, that at the time of her most urgent need, the nurses and deputies made her feel so rejected.


DIANA SANCHEZ, GAVE BIRTH BY HERSELF IN DENVER JAIL CELL: I felt helpless. Nobody was helping me. So many people there, and nobody lifted a finger. Basically, it's indescribable. What hurts me more thought is the fact that nobody cared.


CABRERA: Her attorney says Sanchez had been arrested on identity theft charges for cashing a check that was written to her sister. The attorney also says Sanchez took full responsibility and was sentenced to two-years' probation.

CNN's Scott McLean has been tracking this story.

Scott, how are officials in Denver explaining this?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana. So the Denver Sheriff's Department, which operates the jail, said that Sanchez was inside a medical unit inside the jail and under the supervision of medical professionals. And that the deputies involved did nothing wrong.

That put out a statement that read, in part, "To make sure nothing like this happens again, the Denver Sheriff's Department has changed its policies to ensure that pregnant inmates who are in any stage of labor are transported immediately to the hospital."

After this happened last year, the jail did its own internal review. And in a statement, they released the results of that review, which read, "It was determined the deputy sheriffs took the appropriate actions under the circumstances and followed the relevant policies and procedures."

Sanchez's lawyer, Mari Newman, had this to say in response.


MARI NEWMAN, LAWYER FOR DIANA SANCHEZ: I was flabbergasted. The notion that a woman could give birth in a jail cell after being in labor for hours and hours and hours, in excruciating pain, calling out for medical care. I cannot fathom any legitimate explanation for not providing her with adequate medical care and taking her directly to the hospital where she belonged.


MCLEAN: So Denver Health, which employs the nurses who work in the jail, we asked them for an explanation. They declined to comment on this case, Ana, because of the pending litigation.

I should also let you know that the baby is doing fine so far, as Mari Newman, the lawyer, knows. But she says that does not excuse the experience her client had to go through.

CABRERA: So many questions here.

Scott McLean, thank you for that reporting.

Let's turn to a legal expert. Areva Martin is a legal commentator and civil rights attorney.

Areva, first, your reaction to this?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I was really shocked and appalled by this Ana. I can't imagine -- I'm a mother, I've given birth to three kids. I know how painful and how scary it is to give birth.

This is a miracle baby. There are so many things that can go wrong in the process of childbirth, including the mother bleeding to death, including complications with the delivery.

And to think that a woman went through this childbirth experience by herself in this very unsanitary jail cell next to a toilet, while these adults watched her go through this experience, and no one called 911, no one called emergency technicians or professionals to come, and there's really no explanation.

I think what shocked me and upset me the most was the determination by the sheriffs that their deputies did everything correctly, that there were no violations of their policy.

The question has to be, what are the policies. I can't imagine the policy is to allow a woman to lie on a cold steel bed in a cell and give birth alone.

CABRERA: I'm sure every person, every woman who has given birth to a child can relate to this story, is thinking, wow. My son had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck when I was trying to deliver.

Obviously, you bring up the concern for the baby to not have medical staff there.

And I want you to hear some of what this lawsuit says: "No one had an immediate way to cut the umbilical cord. No one dried or warmed he baby. No one administered eye drops. No accounting was made of the fact that Ms. Sanchez was an opioid addict taking prescription Methadone. Or for the potential of the baby to suffer withdrawals or other opioid-related complications upon birth, even though the nursing staff was aware of this danger."

Yet, Areva, the sheriff's office said staff followed protocol.

How strong do you think this lawsuit is?

MARTIN: I think the lawsuit is very strong. I think we will see, as this sheriff's office has already said, they changed their procedures but, yet, they stand by the protocol.

They haven't described for us what that protocol is. They did tell us in any detail what it is that their sheriff's did so correctly. But they've made it very clear that they changed the policy.

[14:45:11] And this should be a warning call to jails all over this country. There are about 2,000 women each year that give birth of children in jail. And many states allow for these women to be shackled as they give birth and the children are taken away from the mothers right away.

I think this is a great opportunity to have a conversation about the humanity of childbirth and what these children, who are being brought into the world in these jail cells, what we should as a country be doing to ensure a much more humane and much less humiliating process for these mothers.

CABRERA: Sanchez told the guard she was in labor. The lawsuit details how that deputy and nurse sort of went through. Sanchez had been screaming and was, quote, "clearly in excruciating pain," which the video clearly shows. She had been in labor for nearly five and a half hours.

Areva, as a civil rights attorney, do you see a civil rights violation?

MARTIN: Absolutely. When jails incarcerate people and take people into their care, they have duty to any individual who has health need or a medical condition.

She went into this jail eight months pregnant. So they already knew that she was going to be giving birth to a child in about 30 days. They knew about her addiction to opioids. So they knew what her medical condition was.

The fact that they didn't prepare for this delivery, the fact that they didn't transport her to a hospital where she could receive adequate medical care is a direct violation of her civil rights.

I think she will recover civil damages. More importantly, I think she will force this jail and, hopefully, jails around the country to change the way treat women who are in their custody who are in labor and who are giving birth.

CABRERA: Areva Martin, I appreciate your perspective. Thanks for joining us.

MARTIN: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: New fallout today from the DOJ's decision not to prosecute James Comey. Why Rod Rosenstein is now throwing shade.


[14:51:27] CABRERA: Now that the inspector general has spoken, more fingers are being pointed at former FBI Director James Comey. One of them is from the former deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

The Justice Department's inspector general determined that Comey did violate department policy when he leaked the details of memos that recounted his meetings with President Trump.

The inspector general found Comey had other options and, quote, "What was not permitted was the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive investigative information in order to achieve a personally desired outcome."

But the DOJ opted to not prosecute Comey.

President Trump tweeted this in response, quote, "The fact that James Comey was not prosecuted for the absolutely horrible things he did just shows how fair and reasonable attorney general, Bill Barr, is."

Trump goes on to say that Comey was "lucky."

Rosenstein also tweeted. He quoted from a letter he wrote in 2018 to Senate Judiciary leaders. Writing this: "It is important to follow established policies and procedures, especially when the stakes are high. We should be most on guard when we believe that our own uncomfortable circumstances justify ignoring principles respected by our predecessors."

Joining us now, CNN legal analyst, Renato Mariotti.

Renato, I know you have issues with what we heard from Rosenstein in that quote. But in regard to Trump's tweet, he went on to stay he had spoken to many other experts who would have gone a different direction with this.

As a former federal prosecutor yourself, would you have taken the same course as the DOJ in deciding not to prosecute?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST; Yes, I don't think there's really any question that that was where they had to go. The inspector general said there was, quote, "no evidence," unquote, that Comey disseminated classified information or committed any other crime.

So not following departmental policy is not a crime. Breaking your employment contract is it not a crime either. The issues that were uncovered in that report or that Mr. Comey was taken to task for in that report had nothing to do with a criminal prosecution. No prosecution is possible.

CABRERA: You're calling out Rosenstein for his tweet. Why?

MARIOTTI: Well, Rosenstein is essentially scolding Comey for failing to adhere to department policy, but you have to look at the context. James Comey had the president of the United States ask him for loyalty, ask him to quash the investigation of his friend.

Comey then was fired under false pretenses, based on a memo that was written by Rosenstein that was for a reason that turned out not to be the actual reason Comey was fired.

Essentially, what was his recourse? To go to Rosenstein?

At that point, I think Comey was dealing with a difficult situation. He did not follow policies and procedures. But in the -- in our history, we're -- is replete with people that we wanted the public to know about, the personally desired outcome. By the way, that was quoted in that report, that was a special counsel

to be appointed to look at this issue. It's not like Comey was doing this to gain something for himself personally.

I think, in the scheme of things, it's a shame that people like Mr. Rosenstein are aiming at Comey, taking a look at Comey and firing at him when there was corrupt activity he was responding to. And Mr. Rosenstein is not calling that out in anyway.

CABRERA: Mr. Rosenstein read your tweet because he wrote in response, "Notice how this pundit misses the point and, thereby, illustrates it."

[14:55:03] Your response to that?

MARIOTTI: Well, I think what he's trying to convey -- he's being kind of mysterious here. What he's trying to convey, the belief that if you just follow the rules, it's going to work out, trust our system, trust the processes. And following orders and following policies, sometimes when there's an evil corruption that is being done in front of your eyes, is not necessarily the right course.

I will say for Mr. Rosenstein, he stood silently when Attorney General Barr made a number of misleading statements. And then he would fault him for that or for other decisions he made.

So I think it's -- I think that everyone has to examine their own conscience. But Mr. Comey should not be the target of Rosenstein's ire in my view.

CABRERA: Renato Mariotti, always good to have you with us. Thank you.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

CABRERA: Our breaking news continues. Twenty-one million residents, plus countless tourists, in the path of a monster storm, already a category 3. We're tracking Dorian as a state of emergency is now issued for all of Florida.

Stay with us.