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Hurricane Dorian Devastates The Bahamas; Volunteers Bring Supplies To Bahamas From Florida; Analysts Examine Possible Effect Of Slowing Economy On President Trump's Reelection Bid; Democratic Presidential Candidate Tim Ryan Interviewed On His Comments About Joe Biden And His Campaign; Defendants Face Sentencing In Trials Stemmng From School Admissions Scandal; Eight-Year-Old Boy Survives Attack By Mountain Lion. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 7, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


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[14:00:28]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka.

Right now, the situation in the Bahamas is getting desperate as survivors try to flee the island and people try to get aid to those still there as fast as possible. Officials describe the death toll as catastrophic. Recovery teams are getting bodies out of the flood waters, which is why the prime minister warned the confirmed number of 43 deaths will increase significantly.

We begin in Marsh Harbour Port, an area that has seen some of the worst destruction. CNN's Paula Newton is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yet another day here on Marsh Harbour. People have come with anything they could carry, quite frankly, anything that survived the storm and have come here to the port in Marsh Harbour we have seen certainly a ferry, other boats, and helicopters. And the main thing as well is that we have seen the Bahamian military here try and obviously keep some calm and really try to ensure people that they will get out in time.

We have heard from many saying that they just don't want to stay here anymore. They do not believe it is safe and there is nothing for them in terms of food, water, medicine, and also just the basics in terms of infrastructure. They no longer want to be here. The problem is they are also wondering what happens next. Many have nowhere to go and are wondering how they can possibly rebuild their lives after this horrific storm.

Paula Newton, CNN, Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And now we have some new information, too, since Paula Newton filed that report. She's on the phone with us now. So Paula, what do you have?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going through the streets of Marsh Harbour right now and have been to a few government facilities. We saw the temporary morgue that they have set up and just spoke to three morticians who have been hired by the government.

Look, they're trying to do the job they need to do, which is recover the bodies of the victims. They say that they're still waiting to work, in their words. So, we saw a team come in with at least two bodies on a truck. They are doing the best they can in the heat.

We also spoke to a canine unit from the Immigration Department of the Bahamas government, and they also were just stressing their jobs. They told me that they had obviously they tried to make the recovery effort and tried to get the victims' bodies that were easier to get to.

But Fred, in places like the mud an old field farm each for an area that's close to the port here, unfortunately, that's where they don't know how many people died in that area. It was a poorer neighborhood. The homes were flimsy. When I walked by it today, as I know our Gary Tuchman has, as well, they don't know how many bodies are in the water there or under debris.

And what both the canine unit and the morticians told me is, look, those are more difficult recovery tasks, and it may take some time to get that done. They, obviously, are under a lot of constraints because they do need the equipment to come in from Nassau. And then after that, they obviously need to try and identify these people, which is obviously going to be difficult. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Paula Newton in Marsh Harbour, thank you so much for that update.

In Freeport, Bahamas, we're getting new video of residents coming together to save one another.

These are images we're just now getting in of when the storm was under way. Volunteers on jet skis rescued a wife, husband, their six-year- old daughter trapped in flood waters. About a dozen jet skiers rescued at least 100 people in dangerous conditions.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Freeport, which is the main city on Grand Bahama. And, Patrick, you mentioned earlier survivors were the first responders, and now we're seeing the pictures to go with the images that you really were describing earlier to us.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And we were there the day after the hurricane, it was Tuesday morning. The hurricane was still really raging here. And I would say just being here far more than 100. We saw them working around the clock, dangerous conditions, conditions you should never be in a boat or jet ski.

And imagine, you're not just out on the water and hurricane-force winds. You're driving down submerged streets where there's all type of debris, fences under water, light posts, tons of different objects floating in the water. This is harrowing.

And actually, we just had one of the boat captains over that we met and have been talking to these last few days to where we're staying, and we're chatting with him, and he said there's still people out doing this, hoping against hope, really, incredibly, that perhaps people could still be out there in some of these cutoff areas, some of these isolated areas that no one has reached, and that they might be able to find people alive.

[14:05:20]

So they have not stopped, which is really quite incredible. But it's also just terrifying to think that there could be survivors out there waiting for rescue.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And then, Patrick, I know you were describing earlier, there really are bodies kind of strewn everywhere. It is hot there. And beyond the smell, we also know that with the decomposition of bodies, whether they can locate them right away or not, I mean, that will only potentially spread diseases and sickness.

OPPMANN: I worry we're going to go from one disaster to another very quickly. When I was out, as far as you can go down the one road in the most affected areas here in a town called High Rock yesterday. The people there, one out of 10 houses survived this storm, and the people are essentially squatting.

And the conditions are awful. No one has running water, nobody has electricity. There's not enough hand sanitizer, people can't clean themselves, they're drinking out of wells that are contaminated with sea water. So if help does not arrive there, and help has not arrived there other than private donations and Bahamians coming out to help each other and their family and their friends and fellow citizens, if it doesn't come in a much, much larger way soon, more people are going to lose their lives, and that would really be the ultimate tragedy that people would survive this storm would then fall ill as a result of the fact that everyone is just living in filthy conditions right now.

So, at some point, thinks need to stabilize and turn around, and people either need to get off the island or be posted somewhere. But certainly, they need to have running, clean water. They need to be able to cook and feed themselves and have a way to dispose of their waste.

But certainly, the priority right now appears to be on any survivors, if there is hope of survivors. And while we're there we saw helicopters throughout the day flying, sometimes they would go very low and hover there for a while, and that's what residents said is what it looks like when they find a dead body.

And we saw that on a couple occasions, that they would get very, very low, be hovering quite low for sometimes minutes, and it appeared from what we're told they were marking those locations to communicate back to Bahamian authorities to begin the process of retrieving the remains of the victims they found there. WHITFIELD: Tragedy on top of tragedy. Patrick Oppmann, thank you so

much in Freeport.

Right now, nearly 1,500 people have arrived safely in Florida after being evacuated by way of a ship from the Bahamas. CNN's Rosa Flores is live for us at the port of Palm Beach. What is the latest there?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, we've also been talking to medical professionals, because medical professionals were also on board this ship. I talked to one doctor who says that he volunteered to go on this humanitarian mission, and that while he was there, that most of the people that he treated had symptoms of dehydration, lack of nutrition, and also a fractured hip.

Now, one woman who we talked to who was a survivor, Pat Allard, 83 years of age from Massachusetts but was in the Bahamas at the time of the hurricane, she says that she received medical attention, as well, but she described the horrors that she lived during the storm. She says that at some point, at one point it was so dark that she touched the walls of the building to get around. That was the only thing that she could do. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ALLARD, EVACUATED TO FLORIDA: I don't think there's words for that. The sound of the wind and then the rain continually hitting the windows and everything, and total darkness. So this was just how you walked, holding on to walls. And you can't describe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: And you know, Fred, Pat Allard and so many people here who arrived today have a heavy heart for everyone else that has been left behind. They're thinking about the other individuals who haven't made it to the U.S. or to another location just yet. And, of course, there's still so many people missing.

WHITFIELD: Indeed. All right, Rosa Flores, thank you so much.

So, food, water, generators, medical supplies, all of that is pouring in to help displaced residents in the Bahamas. T. Dwayne McCay is one of the many people helping to make that happen.

[14:10:02]

He is the president of the Florida Institute of Technology, and this week -- good to see you -- your volunteers loaded a lot of those supplies that I just described onto a Florida Tech airplane bound for the Bahamas. And tell me what happened once that plane landed.

T. DWAYNE MCCAY, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Well, the individuals that flew it down, one of our staff and one of our alumni, were amazed at the situation they found, because everything is under an evacuation order, but luckily they had brought some foodstuffs and bottled water and of course medical supplies, and some of the things that the people that were standing in line to try to get an opportunity for evacuation hadn't had in at least two days.

So our mission became, and we have done this several times, actually. Whenever there is a disaster that we can participate in, one of our mantras for not just education and research for Florida Tech is that we build good global citizens. And so we have 125 countries represented on our campus. So there's an enormous outpouring of love and concern whether, it's a tsunami or it's a hurricane or it's an earthquake or whatever it may be. So our goal with the people in the Bahamas is to keep as many of them that have made it to this point alive as possible.

WHITFIELD: It takes incredible coordination to gather, get all these items, fly it down there, and then distribute. Talk to me about what have been the greatest obstacles in getting this undertaking underway.

MCCAY: Well, actually, because we've done this before, and this is our third or fourth time in the last few years where we participated in a relief effort, it wasn't as difficult as you might think. The outpouring of people from the Brevard County community where we're located is just enormous. In fact, we've got a warehouse full of supplies that are available right now to go down there. So, most of the difficulties have been short circuited. Our alumni, our students, and we have the labor, and the number of supplies have been made available is just mind boggling.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Dr. T. Dwayne McCay, president of Florida Institute of Technology, thank you so much. And I know all the people, the Bahamians are very grateful for the efforts. Really took an incredible community, as you say, you are a community of global citizens to do what you're doing. Thank you so much.

MCCAY: Thank you, Ms. Whitfield.

WHITFIELD: For more information about how you can help the victims of hurricane Dorian, please go to CNN.com/Impact.

Also still ahead, it has been President Trump's strongest political asset, the economy. But is he quietly worried? Public confidence may be wavering. How he hopes to fortify his support ahead of 2020 elections.

Plus, Democrats descend on New Hampshire. We'll speak with Congressman Tim Ryan live about why he thinks he has the best chance to take on President Trump.

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[14:16:51]

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. As President Donald Trump continues to publicly tout the strength of the U.S. economy, sources now tell CNN that privately the president has begun expressing concern over what has been his biggest selling point for the 2020 race. And he is now ordering aides to have plans ready to roll out if the economy takes a turn for the worse. CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood joining us right now with more

on this. So Sarah, what can you tell us about the president's growing concerns about the U.S. economy?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Fred, we know that President Trump has tasked his aides with coming up with plans that could mitigate the effects of a potential economic downturn heading into his reelection season. Keep in mind, he knows that his fortunes are likely tied to the fortunes of the economy. He has experienced this good economic growth through the first two years of his presidency, but there are some signs that that could start to slow down.

So aides have been discussing various ways that they could accomplish this, such as a new package of tax cuts, indexing capital gains, we've heard the president talk a little bit about this, and a renewed push for the president's renegotiated version of NAFTA, the USMCA. That's something that's been a top White House legislative priority for months now, but it's languished in Congress.

And sources tell CNN that there is a recognition within the White House that with election season coming up, if they don't get movement on USMCA before November, it may not happen at all before 2020. But the president shows no signs of letting up on the thing that experts agree is actually causing a lot of this market instability, and that's the U.S./China trade war.

The president, in fact, in private conversations threatening to impose even more tariffs on China to try to force their hand. And this week he said that he thinks his trade war is the right thing to do with China regardless of its effect on the economy. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I wanted to do nothing with China, my stock market, our stock market would be 10,000 points higher than it is right now. But somebody had to do this. To me, this is much more important than the economy. Somebody had to do this. We had to do it with China. It had to be done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now, many of the aides who had opposed tariffs in the past, Gary Cohn, Kevin Hassett, they are gone. So Fred, it does not appear that President Trump will be deviating from that strategy any time soon despite these private concerns.

WHITFIELD: And seemingly unrattled by all of that and the discussions about it, because he's out on the golf course again today in Sterling, Virginia. Those were some of the new images that we just received. All right, Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

Joining me right now, Julian Zelizer who is a historian and professor at Princeton University and a CNN political analyst, also with me Anita Kumar who is a White House correspondent and an associate editor at "Politico." Good to see you both. JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks for having us.

WHITFIELD: So Julian, you first. How important is a strong economy for a president's reelection?

ZELIZER: It's very strong and important for any president. The two recent one-term presidents, George H. W. Bush in 92, Jimmy Carter in 1980, both had poor economies. President Trump is old enough to remember that. And with President Trump in particular, given how low his approval is and how fragile his standing in the public, his best bet is that the economy is strong. So I'm sure he's aware this is a key vulnerability for him.

[14:20:08]

WHITFIELD: So Anita, the economy concerns come as the Democrats are now preparing to ramp up more impeachment probes about the president. So is this kind of a do or die when it comes to impeachment talk and action?

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR, POLITICO: The impeachment talk is very interesting. I think that the president and his top advisers still feel like there aren't the numbers that the Democrats need to actually have the vote, right. There are not enough yet that are on board with impeachment.

But what we do hear is that there's some concerns that these investigations, and there's so many more that are going to be, so many more areas they're going to looking at, really does take a lot of energy and time for the White House and staff to kind of respond to them, look at what the Congress is asking for, and just deal with them. It's just so much energy.

Remember when they came into this year, year three, when the House went to the Democrats, the White House really wasn't ready for that. They hadn't done a lot of preparation at the end of last year to prepare for all these investigations, and it really is a time- consuming thing. So it takes a lot of energy and it takes a lot for the staff to deal with that. So that's taking away from other things, right, taking away from other issues they should be dealing with.

WHITFIELD: OK, and Julian, as you look at the landscape, there are a couple Republicans who have thrown their hats into the ring who want to challenge the president during the primary season, but now several states are considering eliminating the Republican primaries in order to support Trump. It's not that it's unprecedented, because it has happened when a president is unchallenged, seeking a second term. But this is particularly unusual. What does this say to you?

ZELIZER: Well, it says, once again, that much of the Republican establishment is fully behind Trump. Neither of the two primary challenges is from a major Republican figure. Even Governor Weld is not really in the center of the party any more.

And at the same time, this is one more instance when they are trying to essentially clear the field for the president to secure a nomination, to do so in a way that is not divisive, and to be in the strongest position possible by fall, 2020. So the Republican Party and President Trump right now are one in the same, and this story is just one more example that we have on the list of how you can see that in action.

WHITFIELD: Anita, earlier I talked to former Illinois Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Joe Walsh. I asked him about some other reporting involving "The Washington Post," that George Conway, the husband of counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, has been talking to him about his campaign. Take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE WALSH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm honored to have his advice. I speak with him often. He is a wonderful adviser. As far as any formal role with our campaign, I would only be so lucky as to have somebody like George Conway involved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Anita, how might this be going over in the White House about now?

KUMAR: This has been one of those extraordinary things these last couple years as we see Kellyanne Conway and her husband and how they've interacted and dealt with it. They can't like it. Clearly they are sick of the questions, are sick of this dueling publicity situation, right, where George Conway, every single thing he is tweeting and pushing back on, and we see Kellyanne Conway out there on TV doing small gaggles with reporters pushing back. It's just an odd thing.

But I do think, to what was said just before, what Julian said, is that the president and the White House does feel very confident that they have the support of the Republican Party. They do not feel these opponents are significant, and they feel like the party and the state parties will be behind them completely.

WHITFIELD: OK, "odd thing." I like those delicate words.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: Odd to say the very least. It really is something else we're seeing. Julian Zelizer, Anita Kumar, thank you so much.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up next, Democratic presidential candidate, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan joining me live as he stumps in New Hampshire. We'll speak right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: OK, to New Hampshire now where Democratic Congressman and 2020 candidate Tim Ryan just wrapped up his speech at the state's Democratic Party Convention. He is also responding to a comment he made this weekend in which he said he believes Joe Biden is declining and doesn't have the energy to take on Donald Trump. Here's what Tim Ryan just told CNN's Arlette Saenz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- what you meant?

REP. TIM RYAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I made the statement. It was a comment that I made, and that I'm not backtracking from it. It is a concern you're hearing from a lot of people in the country. I'm just saying that it's unclear sometimes, when he is articulating positions, there is a lack of clarity. And I'll leave it at that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Congressman Tim Ryan joining me live right now. OK, good to see you. Hope you can hear me all right. President Trump says Biden has lost his fastball. You say he's declining. Are your comments kind of in step with what the president is saying about Biden?

RYAN: Well, let me just say that I think President Trump is declining. President Trump has shown on multiple occasions, especially when he called Dayton, Ohio, Toledo. He's very forgetful. He's not as sharp. He's lost a lot in the last couple years.

And all I'm saying is there's a lot at stake in this campaign, for our kids, for our future, for our environment, for the economy, for our democracy. And we have got to make sure that we send someone to take down Donald Trump who can articulate a very clear vision for the country in a very forceful and firm way, and do it in all 50 states all over the country.

And that's what I'm saying. And as I said, there's sometimes a lack of clarity, and I think that's what I'm hearing on the ground, I think that's what a lot of people are thinking, and we can't afford that at this point. And that's what these primaries are for, to figure out who is the best person to put forward.

[14:30:13]

WHITFIELD: It sounds like you are really taking aim, though, at the former vice president by saying I just think he is declining. I don't think he has the energy. You see it almost daily. And I love the guy. And you said, well, you're not backtracking, what do you really mean by this?

RYAN: Look, these primaries are about us presenting our platform, which direction we want to take the country, but also a contrast to other candidates. On the debate stage I was very clear about some positions that Democrats in this field are taking around taking people's private health insurance, around free health care for undocumented people in the country when other people in the country, citizens are paying for their health care. These kinds of issues are putting us in a position where we are not going to be able to win the states we need to win.

And I also we've got to make sure we have a candidate that can be very aggressive at Donald Trump in the campaign. I'm not backing down from any of that that I've said.

WHITFIELD: So you're saying you don't believe that Biden can be aggressive. You say he's declining. In what way do you mean that? And is this in inference to his age or something else?

RYAN: He went on Colbert to address this very issue. It's not like I said something that a lot of people aren't thinking or he wouldn't have went on Colbert to talk about it. So this is an issue. We have to be honest with each other. There's so much at stake in this election.

We can't just put somebody up there who can't beat Donald Trump, whether it's on the issues, or on the issues of energy or lack of clarity. We have got to be very clear. And I believe that I'm that person or I wouldn't be running. And so people can support my campaign and go to TimRyanforAmerica.com and help out. I think I'm the person who can best take this guy on.

WHITFIELD: OK, except some of the polling does show that in a head- to-head Biden against Trump, it's Biden, at least in one recent poll that might come out nine points ahead. Let me ask you about, you're in New Hampshire today. However, you didn't make the cut for next month's debate. Do you think that not qualifying for a debate is a barometer for your viability to win the nomination?

RYAN: I don't think at all. I think it's very early. Bill Clinton didn't get in until October. And I think when you look at the polls of previous primary elections and previous general elections, Hillary Clinton was winning, Joe Lieberman was winning, Howard Dean was winning at this point and previous elections. This election has got a long way to go. It's only September.

And what I'm doing is I'm building things out on the ground. I'm pulling Joe Biden people in South Carolina, primarily from the African-American community. His state co-chair in 08, Representative Fletcher Smith, is now in my campaign as political director, Brandon Brown in South Carolina is now with my campaign. Pastor Caesar Richburg, who was now Vice President Biden's top faith-based person in South Carolina is now with my campaign. We're pulling endorsements here in New Hampshire.

I'm doing it the old-fashioned way. I'm on the ground. It's not about just Twitter and social media. It's about honest, heartfelt, and meaningful conversations on the ground, and that's what we're doing. And that's why we're just releasing six new endorsements today from South Carolina. So, we're moving in the right direction. Slow and steady wins the race. TimRyanforAmerica.com, help us out.

WHITFIELD: And what do you think about that? Particularly South Carolina, what do you think about four states now where Republicans in those states are now saying they won't have a primary because it might as well just be a shoo in for the president. What does that say to you?

RYAN: I think, I think it's outrageous. I mean, to think that they're going to rig the system where no one could even have a voice. I'm an old athlete. There's a reason you play the game. How many games, how many teams say they're going to win, no problem. They're a 30-point favorite, and then the upset happens. You never know in politics. And you should give people an opportunity to have that discussion.

I think it shows to independent voters and moderate Republican voters just how rigged the Republican Party is and in bed they are with Donald Trump. And I think that's going to further turn them off, which is why we as Democrats need to make sure we run somebody who isn't so far to the left that's talking like me about new and better about bringing the country together, about winning Republicans and independents, because we can capture and really build a new coalition.

So, I think they're walking into a very dangerous trap and they're going to turn off a lot of Republicans in the process. These guys who want to run against them, Mark Sanford down there in South Carolina, what is his following going to feel like if they can't even have an election?

[14:35:03]

They're going to say, hey, I just voted for a Democrat in Joe Cunningham, who is a Congressman down there, a Democratic Congressman in South Carolina, maybe I'll vote for a Democrat in the general. And if I was Lindsey Graham, I would be very concerned, because he's so much in bed with Donald Trump that our candidate down there, Jamie Harrison, will have a really good shot at beating Lindsey Graham because those Republicans aren't going to want to double down on a dictatorship. They're going to want to look for a Democrat, a moderate in tone and policy Democrat.

WHITFIELD: Joe Walsh and Bill Weld among those Republicans who have thrown their hat into the race and are hoping to take on the president for the nomination. Congressman Tim Ryan, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much, and good luck to you.

RYAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, still to come, some of the most high-profile defendants in the college tuition scandal are now facing jailtime. So, where does that leave the schools and the coaches involved? More on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:40:06]

WHITFIELD: Actress Felicity Huffman is asking for a year's probation, community service, and a $20,000 fine for her involvement in the college admissions scandal. But prosecutors want her to spend a month in jail followed by a year of supervised release. Huffman pleaded guilty back in May of paying $15,000 to a fake charity that in actuality helped her daughter get a higher SAT score. The actress will be sentenced in Boston in a week.

I want to bring in Areva Martin. She's a civil rights attorney and a CNN legal analyst. Good to see you. So while the legal process plays out, I want to ask about the repercussions for the schools involved. The University of Southern California had four coaches involved, for example. So what could happen to administration officials here?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, one thing we know, Fred, is that one of the coaches involved in the cheating scandal that was a coach at Stanford University, at his sentencing, during his sentencing process, the prosecutors recommended that he receive 13 months in jail. Now, ultimately the judge decided that he would only serve a day in jail because the money, the bribes that he received actually went to the sailing program at Stanford and there was a determination that he didn't get any of the money, he didn't benefit personally from any of the money.

But I think the coaches involved in the USC case, those that have been implicated in this cheating scandal, should expect that the prosecutors are going to recommend that they receive jailtime, as well.

One thing that's happening for Felicity, though, she went early on and made a deal with the prosecutors, and that deal has resulted in them making a recommendation on the lower end of the sentencing guidelines for her rather than the higher end of those guidelines. So this deal that she made back in April I think is paying dividends for her.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. So what about a school? If the school is a benefactor of that money, should the school be culpable or pay a price, as well?

MARTIN: Well, that's interesting, Fred, in terms of how this whole cheating scandal is playing out. And even the fact that the individuals involved who have pled guilty, who have made deals, the sentencing recommendations tend to be a lot lower than what we saw when you look at the Atlanta cheating scandal.

There is this great documentary out about that cheating scandal that talks about how those teachers involved. And it's not an apples to apples comparison, but it was a major school cheating scandal, and those teachers' recommendations were three to 30 years in some of those cases. And what we're seeing in this cheating scandal is that the recommendations are on the much lower end of the sentencing guidelines.

Now, with respect to those schools, not clear that any of the administrators, particularly those who didn't have knowledge, will be held criminally responsible, but the reputations of the schools have clearly been damaged.

WHITFIELD: So, there are some character witnesses for Felicity Huffman by way of letters. Eva Longoria, actress, is pleading for leniency, as is her husband. So will this potentially make a difference?

MARTIN: It can make a difference. Obviously, the judge is going to look at her background prior to this cheating scandal. The fact that she doesn't have any criminal record, hasn't been involved in the criminal justice system, look at what she has done in terms of any kind of community service or what she has done as a philanthropist, and the judge will then have to make a decision.

I think the things that weigh in her favor is that she made that deal early in April with the federal prosecutors. The amount involved in her case is on the lower end of the spectrum. It's $15,000.

We know with respect to Lori Loughlin and some of the other defendants the amounts are much higher, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I think going to the prosecutors early, striking the deal, being on the lower end of the payment scale, those are the kind of things that I think the judge will look at when he's making a determination.

But for people who are just looking at this story unfold, a lot of people are asking how come there is not more jailtime when you think what was done here, the amount of money that was spent bribing these coaches and these administrators to get kids into schools when --

WHITFIELD: Potentially squeezing out the opportunity for other students who were more deserving.

MARTIN: Absolutely, more deserving students who didn't have the money, didn't have the privilege, who were not allowed the opportunity to gain admissions to these types of universities.

WHITFIELD: Lots of questions.

MARTIN: So a lot of people not happy, I think, with these sentencing recommendations.

WHITFIELD: All right, Areva Martin, we'll leave it there for now. Good to see you, thank you.

MARTIN: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PIKE CARLSON, EIGHT-YEAR OLD SURVIVED MOUNTAIN LION ATTACK: If they want to wrestle a mountain lion, they shouldn't because they cheat.

KEVIN TORRES, REPORTER: How do they cheat?

PIKE CARLSON: They scratch and bite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Extraordinary story from this eight-year-old boy attacked by a mountain lion, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:48:56] WHITFIELD: All right, now to this incredible story of survival. It's rare enough that someone battles a mountain lion and then lives to tell about it. So, when the survivor telling the tale is just eight years old, it's a story worth listening to. It comes to us from our Denver affiliate KDVR.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON CARLSON, SON ATTACKED BY MOUNTAIN LION: It could have been a completely different story.

KEVIN TORRES, REPORTER: This story is all about bravery.

PIKE CARLSON, EIGHT-YEAR OLD SURVIVED MOUNTAIN LION ATTACK: A big cat.

TORRES: And a little boy who battled a big old 65-pound cat.

Did you think you had to fight a mountain lion before?

PIKE CARLSON: No.

TORRES: No?

PIKE CARLSON: But I knew in life that I would see one because where we live.

RON CARLSON: That's true.

TORRES: Having grown up in Bailey, Pike Carlson is used to seeing wildlife. Last month while he was playing with his brother in the backyard, things got a little too close for comfort when a mountain lion popped out of nowhere.

PIKE CARLSON: Right by the house, on this rock right next to me I just see this mountain lion jump on it. And then it kind of pounces onto me, and he kind of rolled down the hill to a tree, and it tries to push me under the tree.

[14:50:05]

TORRES: Pike peeked at the ground, looking for any sort of weapon.

PIKE CARLSON: I picked up a stick trying to jab it in the eye, but then the stick breaks.

TORRES: Fortunately, his dad ran out screaming.

RON CARLSON: Because when I went through the trees, it was laying on top of him with his head in its mouth, and I just, the scream that came out of my mouth was like, like I said, it was like a cross between a scream and crying.

TORRES: The cat ran off while Ron grabbed his boy and booked it for the nearby fire station. So far Pike has received more than 60 staples to his head and had to have his eyeball reattached to his skull.

PIKE CARLSON: If everyone knows if they want to wrestle a mountain lion, they shouldn't because they cheat.

TORRES: How do they cheat?

PIKE CARLSON: They scratch and bite.

TORRES: That's true. That's an unfair advantage, right?

PIKE CARLSON: And they're faster.

TORRES: Yes, but you seem cooler than they are.

In Bailey, this is Kevin Torres, Channel 2 News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: He's a little hero. We'll be right back.

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WHITFIELD: For the second time in just over two months, Major League Baseball is mourning the loss of one of its own. Former St. Louis Cardinals player Chris Duncan has passed away from brain cancer at the age of 38. Duncan played a key role in the Cardinals World Series championship in 2006.

[14:55:03] The team's chairman and CEO released this statement saying the Cardinals are deeply saddened by the passing of Chris Duncan and extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Amy, the entire Duncan family, and his many friends.

In July the baseball world also mourned the loss of Tyler Skaggs, a 27-year-old pitcher for the Angels, who passed away from an accidental overdose.

In Santa Barbara, California, there was a vigil last night for the victims of last week's dive boat fire, 34 people died when flames ripped through the Conception boat off the coast of Santa Cruz Island.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These 34 lights and scuba cylinders before you here represent our brother and sister divers who did not make it home that night. They are also our friends and our family members.

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WHITFIELD: Police say the people who died in the Labor Day fire likely died from smoke inhalation. The victims were in the boats lower sleeping deck and likely got trapped as the flames spread. Five crew members including the captain survived after jumping off the boat.

Thanks you so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So much straight ahead in the NEWSROOM with Ana Cabrera right after this.

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