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Bahamas Death Toll Expected To Spike As More Bodies Are Found; Cruise Ship Carrying 1,400+ Evacuees Arrives In Florida; CNN: Trump Has Private Concerns Over Economy; Trump Defends False Claims On Hurricane's Threat To Alabama; House Panel To Vote On Next Steps In Trump Impeachment Probe; Bahama's Marsh Harbour Resembles Ghost Town; NYC Mayor & Presidential Candidate Bill De Blasio Discusses the Race, Debates, Jobs and Taxes; Walmart Asks Customers Not to Openly Carry Guns in its Stores. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 7, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Hurricane Dorian forever destroy the lives of so many people in the Bahamas. Forty three people are so far confirmed dead and that death toll is expected to go up sharply. That's because people's bodies are still buried in their homes that crumbled all around them, or haven't been found yet, and the debris that covers so many of the islands.
Just a short time ago, our CNN crew was with a U.S. Coast Guard search team when they found the remains of a woman in the wreckage caused by the hurricane. That was in the town of Marsh Harbor. Reporters and emergency responders, all veterans of large scale natural disasters, tell us the smell of death is everywhere in these areas where so many homes were swept away. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in the city of Freeport. Patrick, how far are you able to safely travel from where you are? And what have you seen?
PATRICK OPPMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, you can know Google 15 minutes from where I am, and you see houses, every house in neighborhood after neighborhood, they were just under water the other day. We were there when they were doing rescues for a bridge. It was itself was underwater. So you go there now and it's a very sad scene, because it's families going to see how their houses are if they evacuated, or in many cases, it's people going to check in on neighbors or family who live in those areas.
And then, you go from there perhaps another hour. And it gets really tough. We had to get out the largest car we can find. You're going through water that goes halfway up the door. There are pieces of the road, it's one road in one road out, that just don't exist anymore. And you have to do some off road driving and you get to communities where people say this used to be a neighborhood and it's gone.
And while we were in some of these communities, Ana, we had people that came in, as we did from Freeport, to look for their family members, because they had not heard from them since the storm. And these people said they couldn't even recognize the neighborhoods anymore. And they came and talked to us trying to get the word out about their family members missing. And they just don't know where they are. And we're going to show you now some of that devastation we were able to witness firsthand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPPMAN (off camera): Reaching the hardest hit areas of Grand Bahama Island means driving through still flooded streets. And streets that are no longer streets. This area in the east of the island has until now been inaccessible since the storm. Little to no help has arrived. The force of the hurricane threw cars through buildings.
The storm stalled out here. A Category 5 leveling whole towns. Many rode out the storm in their homes. Many did not survive. Pastor Joey Saunders was on the third floor of his home with his son when the storm surge crashed in.
JOEY SAUNDERS, PASTOR: We started to make out to the second floor of the House. It went up but 10 minutes and it started to flow up to the third floor. In a matter of a minute it flowed up to our head and it felt like you know this strong current trying to break loose everything, you hear the cracks.
OPPMAN (on camera): And this was in the middle of the night.
SAUNDERS: About 1:30 in the morning. And then the current was so strong, then the roof started to lift. And next thing I remember I was underneath the water. My son's trying to get -- I notice had he to search light. He just disappeared with the search light. I heard him, you know, screaming, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.
OPPMAN (on camera): He was in the water at that point, right?
SAUNDERS: He was really gone. And minutes later when I came from underneath the water I threw my hand, I caught onto the truss. The roof carried me away. We were like but 600 feet away from each other over two days. We crawled up in the pine tree, 32 feet high.
OPPMAN (on camera): So the water carried you into a pine tree in the middle of the night. Your son was always away from you. What was going through your mind? You must have been terrified.
SAUNDERS: Yes. I was hoping that he was alive. He thought I had died also. It was until two days later that we saw one another. He was under the trailer right there and that's when we saw one another, yeah.
OPPMAN (off camera): The Bahamian government has warned people the death count could spike. And places like High Rock where everyone knows of dead or missing family and neighbors, that news is no surprise. Even though this is one of the hardest hit areas help from the Government is yet to arrive.
SAUNDERS: The government is on its way. It's going to take a bit of time because there are other settlements. But they are doing their thing gradually, you know? OPPMAN (on camera): Do you wish they were moving quicker.
SAUNDERS: Yes, I wish it can move quicker.
OPPMAN (off camera): People desperately need food and water before time runs out.
SAUNDERS: A lot of people have lost most of their clothes, water, need food, you know, stuff like that basic stuff right now.
OPPMAN (on camera): And every survival story you hear, Ana, just sounds like a miracle, an impossible feat against all odds. And yet, we still have no idea how many people didn't make it, Ana.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Patrick Oppmann reporting. Incredible work you're doing. Thank you. A cruise ship has arrived in Palm Beach, Florida, from the Bahamas with more than 1,400 evacuees onboard. According to Customs and Border Patrol, all the evacuees are properly documented to enter the U.S. Let's get right to CNN's Rosa Flores in Riviera Beach, Florida. Rosa, fill us in on what you're seeing and hearing from people there.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, this port turned into a reunification center today, throughout the day, as evacuees disembarked, and they were welcome. They were embraced. We saw hugs. We saw tears all happening right here at this board. Now, most of them were family who were welcoming the evacuees.
But then, there are these two women. And I want you to take a look at these images, because this is Renata Cox Taylor and Victoria Payne. And long story short, they are not family until a few weeks ago. They were not friends. But Cox Taylor made a plea online several weeks ago, because she needed financial help to seek medical attention for her son. That's how she met Victoria Payne. They stayed in touch throughout the hurricane and now they are counting their blessings and also their new friendship. Take a listen.
RENATA COX TAYLOR, BAHAMAS RESIDENT: The experience on the whole was something to get away from. You know, to know that your friends you usually have would stand strong with Americans compared to persons drowning and stuff. That was really hard. A lot of families lose their loved ones. That was really hard. I know that my Bahamas land is going to catch itself. Now, the timing, when it's going to catch itself, I wouldn't say. But we are a strong, united people. And I feel as though with some time and help we'll be able to come back.
FLORES: And Ana, Victoria Payne tells me that through several non- profit organizations, they are providing hotels for Cox Taylor and her sons. So those are the types of stories that we've been here hearing today, not just friends and family, but even new friends that are helping each other, Ana. CABRERA: So good to hear it. Rosa Flores, thank you for that report. Clearly, the need is great. The depth of this disaster is still unknown. For information on how you can help the victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas and here in the U.S., just head to CNN.com/impact.
We have new CNN reporting that the president is privately expressing concerns about the economy, even as he boasts everything is going great.
Plus, top Democrats take a big step forward as they consider articles of impeachment against the president. The key vote happening next week.
CABRERA: President Trump is publicly touting the strength of the U.S. economy on the heels of yesterday's jobs report. But behind the scenes, that confidence has waned. Sources tell CNN the president has expressed concern over what has served to be a pillar of his presidency and re-election campaign. They say Trump is now ordering aides to draw up plans to boost Americans confidence in the economy and be ready to roll them out this fall if economic conditions worsen.
Joining us now, CNN political commentator and host of S.E. Cupp Unfiltered at the top of the hour, S.E. Cupp, and CNN Chief Media Correspondent and Anchor of Reliable Sources, Brian Stelter. The president just tweeted on this, guys, I think we have to put up. "The economy is doing great!!!!!," he writes, five exclamation points.
S.E. CUPP, S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED HOST: That's how you know it's true.
CABRERA: Right --
CUPP: The exclamation points make it true. Look, as a PR strategy, it's been an effective one for him. You know, his critics, or his opponents, or the media says something's happening. And he goes to Twitter and says, no, it's not. And actually, you know, he knows that his supporters will believe him and repeat it. So to just, sort of, keep his base reassured, motivated into him, I think his tweets will actually be effective.
But we know from that reporting that behind the scenes, he is very concerned about the economy, because he knows without it, it really is the linchpin of his base of support. Farmers are feeling the pain from his tariffs. He knows this could really be a problem for him. So he's trying to juice the Fed. He's thinking about some new tax cuts for the middle class. He's kind of trying to pull out all the stops now in, sort of, like a Hail Mary.
CABRERA: I mean, what a week it has been. First, it was Sharpie gate, which has gone on, and on, and on. Brian, the president won't let this go, but now I mean, it's gone on to a different level on Twitter. We have two federal agencies, NOAH and the National Weather Service, now duking it out against each other, essentially because of how the two different organizations have responded to the president's claims. One of them, NOAH, backed the president, and NWS, not so much. I mean, what is going on?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It's disturbing to see federal agencies feeling that they have to prove a president's falsehoods somehow belatedly correct. That's embarrassing. And no matter whether it's a Republican or Democratic president, you call it 'travelgate', I say it's lying about a hurricane gate.
This is serious. This was about an emergency situation. The president had bad information about a hurricane. He shared it three times in one day. It was objectively wrong. But now they're trying to belatedly fix the data to prove he was right. Now, that's impossible. But as you said, NOAH, an unnamed spokesperson from NOAH, did try to do that.
Now, that appears to be a political appointee trying to clean up Trump's mess. What we've seen from the rank and file in these agencies, including the National Weather Service, people speaking up saying this is unacceptable, is inappropriate. We've also seen former heads of these agencies come out and say, well, there's no such thing as fake weather.
STELTER: We shouldn't be getting to this game where presidents make mistakes and then try to clean them up by using agencies in this way.
CABRERA: Now, the president's blaming the media for all of this. Does it seem like his attacks have escalated against the media this week, Brian?
STELTER: Definitely in the past few weeks, we have seen an escalation. You know, if there's a scale of one to 10, he was already at an eight. So he can't go much higher. But, yes, he has been lashing out recently. I think, because of a sense of insecurity about the 2020 re- election and about the economy. He will deny that. But those seem like the underlying factors.
CABRERA: We know how much the president values loyalty. He expects that the Republican Party, as he seems to be giving it to him. I mean, just look at what's happening now in, sort of, the primary contests. We saw South Carolina today throw out their Republican primary --
CABRERA: -- even though there are at least two Republican primary challengers. We know Bill Weld and Joe Walsh. Walsh was on CNN earlier today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE WALSH, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is unprecedented. It's never been done where there's been some -- there's at least been primary opposition. I can think of nothing, so to speak, of more undemocratic than what this is. What are they afraid of? Well, clearly, if you're President Trump and things are great and you feel fine, and you're strong, you wouldn't do this. They must be afraid of the fact that maybe he's not doing well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUPP: S.E. it's not just South Carolina that's considering this. What's your reaction? Yeah, I mean, I've been reading the press statements from the RNC and from the GOP on shutting down these primaries, that if you read them, they'll say this is how fired up we are about Trump. And then, they also list all the precedents for other administrations, other candidates having done this before.
But as Joe Walsh said, they would not do this if they felt good about his chances. And I think they really are worried, not that Joe Walsh, or Bill Weld, or Mark Sanford, if he runs, is going to win. But they don't want them to ding his base support. And they could just by going on television, as Joe Walsh has been doing for the past two weeks. And pointing out his mental, psychological, moral, ethical failings, they are hoping that that is significant enough to eat away at it, just enough voters to prohibit him from getting re-elected.
CABRERA: I mean, as a conservative yourself and a traditionally Republican voter who does not like this president, what he represents, and how he is operating, for them to just remove other options for people who --
CABRERA: -- may feel like you.
CABRERA: How does it make you feel?
CUPP: It is undemocratic. It's completely undemocratic. It's corrupting the process. It's taking votes away. And I think it is. It's desperate and it's a desperate use of power, because they know that, you know, no one's going to check them for this. And it's offensive. It should be offensive to people in both parties, or people in no parties. It should be offensive to all Americans.
CABRERA: SE, Brian, thank you both. And let me just really quick remind everybody, S.E. Cupp Unfiltered starts in just under an hour right here on CNN. And catch Brian tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern on "Reliable Sources".
Coming up, battleground New Hampshire, 19 Democratic candidates stormed the state that's home to the first in the nation primary. I'll speak to New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, about what he sees as his path forward as he fights to make the October debate.
CABRERA: House Democrats are getting ready to take the next step in the impeachment process against President Trump. Multiple sources tell CNN, the House Judiciary Committee is prepared to vote next week on ground rules for conducting impeachment hearings.
So far, at least 134 Democratic Congress members in the House, along with independent Justin Amash, have stated publicly they support starting a formal impeachment inquiry. CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, is joining us now by phone. And Manu, this is your reporting. What more can you tell us about these new developments?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a significant move, because what the House Judiciary Committee Democrats want to do is essentially formalize the process that is taking place and emulate the process that took place in 1974 when the same committee, the House Judiciary Committee, moved to try to impeach Richard Nixon as president.
Well, what the Democrats are going to do in the coming weeks ahead is, to show that the hearings that they're going to have, will be a bit different than what typical congressional hearings are looking like. What the vote that's going to happen on Wednesday, a resolution to lay out exactly the ground rules and the procedures of these hearings, and say that it would look like essentially impeachment hearings.
That would include allowing committee staff members to question witnesses, allowed to have grand jury information, secret information as it spells out how would be handled in a closed door session that would discuss how were the White House counsel can respond to questions from the committee.
But also this resolution that the committee is going to vote on spelled out clearly the jury now that the House Judiciary Committee chair can call full committee and subcommittee hearings in relation to his deliberations over impeachment. Now, this is an escalation of sorts, Ana, because right before Congress took its summer break, the House Judiciary Committee announced that he was actively considering articles of impeachment.
So now, what they're essentially saying is, this is what's going to look like in the weeks ahead. The broader our investigation, beyond just obstruction of justice, looking a whole wide range of matters, potential criminal matters that occurred in this White House. Things ranging from dangling pardons for officials, urging them, allegedly, the president did, to try to get them to break laws.
They've implemented immigration policies, as well as concerns over possible violations of the emoluments clause of the constitution, which is designed, of course, to prevent a president from enriching himself, and designed to limit foreign influence. Democrats want to look at all those matters and say they'll all go under the prospect of the possibility that they may move forward and impeach this president. So a significant move that will occur on Wednesday, a procedural move
or one that will show that they are taking this very seriously and may move forward in the coming weeks to vote to impeach this president. But, of course, Ana, we know that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to endorse impeaching this president.
RAJU: So that's going to be a question for her. Will she ultimately endorse this move, because if she doesn't, then they'll just investigate and they won't ultimately go, but it is ultimately up to her. But that's a debate the Congress is going to have as they come back after the summer break on Monday, Ana.
CABRERA: And this will be a formal and official move this week. Manu Raju, we know you'll stay on top of it for us. Thank you. Coming up, reports that the stench of death is in the air as search crews spread out across the most hard hit areas of the Bahamas. CNN is live as mobile mortuaries are being set up.
CABRERA: Right now in the Bahamas, emergency officials have brought in mortuaries on wheels, mobile morgues set up to handle the bodies of hurricane victims when they are eventually found. So far, 43 people are confirmed dead and that number is expected to go way up as the search for victims continues.
Hundreds of people who stayed in the path of Hurricane Dorian are still missing.
The town of Marsh Harbour -- look at this -- it took a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian and today's there's almost nobody there. People have either evacuated or they are in the process of getting out to other cities like Nassau or out of the country altogether.
CNN's Paula Newton is in Marsh Harbour right now.
Paula, describe for us the needs on the ground and this rush to evacuate.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the last couple of days, what's happened, Ana, is a lot more people have been able to evacuate. One woman told me, Ana, I said, do you have enough food and water. She was waiting for her boat to leave. To said, I don't want food and water, I want to get out of here.
And many have been able to do that. And that is why when you're in Marsh Harbour, it was like a ghost town.
It was my colleague, Patrick Oppmann, who first reported from Freeport saying it's eerily quiet. And that's what's haunting when you get there.
Other thing, of course, Ana, is the devastation, absolutely complete and total.
And even the vegetation, Ana, it looks like it's been incinerated. It is literally difficult to behold the destruction of this storm when you see it.
Through all of that, as you were saying we met up with mortuary teams as well as K-9 units. While they are starting the search and recovery -- and, unfortunately, that's what it is right now, they do not believe they'll be able to rescue anyone else -- that the issue has been that they will continue to try and find the bodies that they know are already there. If they have someone in the house that they can retrieve quickly, they will do that.
There are other recovery operations that will be much more difficult and they were very honest with me and it will take several days.
The other prospect which is also grim. I spoke to people who say I saw four people next to me in that house that died. I don't think they're there anymore. So they speculate with me in saying they believe their bodies have been swept out to sea.
And the other horrific thing there, Ana, which means that it's going to be so difficult for family members who reported these people missing to really get a handle on what exactly happened to them.
So much adversity ahead for everyone. But at least -- at least today there did seem to be enough food and water in Marsh Harbour and a lot more people were making their way out.
I have to say after some people have been there 12, 16 hours with families and young children.
NEWTON (voice-over): The people of Marsh Harbour can barely believe they survived the epic devastation of Dorian, but now they wonder, can they survive the aftermath?
The Nixon family says they barely made it through the storm. They put the children in coolers to get them out. And at the airport, they were separated. Those same children are now stuck on the island.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night they said they was in the -- in the airport and they didn't even eat.
NEWTON (on camera): Are they at the airport right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. They're in the front, but it is so chaotic, you know, if those little kids tried to push through --
NEWTON: Their Aunt Elizabeth made it to Nassau and tells us the conditions are horrific. And families are having to make difficult choices. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bodies are in the harbor. It seems like we're
in a movie because you hear stories where a mother had her neve and you she had to decide which one was going to live.
NEWTON: It is the death toll that so rattles many here. And even the government admits the official death toll doesn't begin to tally the grim reality of this disaster, especially in some of the poorer neighborhoods.
And then there's the aid effort. It would be a challenge for any nation, but the damage inflicted here over several hundred miles of scattered islands and keys will transform the Bahamas for month, possibly years. Villages and towns that may never be inhabited again.
The basics are getting in, but the distribution has been spotty and, at times, chaotic.
There are significant search-and-rescue efforts on the go and aid pre- positioned on land and offshore, but the mix of government and volunteer efforts has complicated delivery. That means aid isn't always getting to the most needy. The effort has brought volunteer aid workers to their breaking point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's upsetting that they have shelters and I hear that they're not being fed -- and the children have no toys --
NEWTON: And Bahamians also worry the millions being donated may not reach them in time to make a difference or reach them at all.
NEWTON: As you can hear behind me, this aid effort continues. And yet many people now speculate, Ana, that a lot of the aid has to remain in Nassau because the people I spoke to in Marsh Harbour wonder what's here for them when they do, indeed, make it here -- Ana?
CABRERA: Paula Newton, thank you for all of your hard work and trying to continue to report on such a devastating situation. We appreciate it.
We'll be right back.
CABRERA: The 2020 Democrats are pounding the political pavement in New Hampshire, a crucial early voting state. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio is among the pack, hoping to score some points.
Bill De Blasio is one of a number of candidates who didn't meet the threshold for appearing in the next round of debates this month. In fact, it's just next week.
And at a news conference on crime statistics in New York, he admitted it's a tough break. He says making the October debates is now crucial to the future of his presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO, (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think the debates are the end all be all and I've said that. And I think the polling really bears out. The debates of actually, in the end, had relatively little impact in the polling. But they're kind of the main street of the dialogue.
So obviously, I wanted to get into the September debates. That wasn't possible.
I think the logical thing to say is I'm going to go and get into the October debates. And if I can, I think that's a good reason to keep going forward. If I can't, it's tough to conceive of continuing. So that's the way I look at it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Mayor Bill De Blasio joins us now.
Mayor, good to have you with us.
So you're not in this debate next week. Have you made adjustments or strategic changes to qualify for the next round in October?
DE BLASIO: Well, Ana, what I'm doing is getting my message out in a lot of new places. And I think it's having a real impact.
And this week is a good example. I put out a major new policy on automation. Actually, went on another network where I'm often not welcome, but I went there to talk about something that's affecting a lot of American workers, tens of million.
And I talked about a plan that no one else is talking about, to stop the tax breaks that are going now to companies that automate and put workers out on the street and take away American jobs and instead have a robot tax. Have a tax on automation to create the funds to provide new jobs for American workers and to disincentivize companies from taking away those jobs.
This is a very different proposal. It's not out there from any other candidate and it's getting a lot of attention.
I think, Ana, the way to get attention is to come up with important ideas and talk about what Americans care about.
I have to tell you, tens of millions of people are scared. They're scared about the insecurity of not knowing whether their job will be replaced by a robot. I'm speaking to that in a very blunt way. And people appreciate that.
CABRERA: You sound like Andrew Yang. How does your plan differ from his? DE BLASIO: That's a great question, Ana. It differs quite a bit.
I give Andrew Yang credit for putting this issue front and center. But in my plan, I just plain disagree with his solution. He talks about universal basic income. That basically means every American displaced from their job gets a check once a month. They don't have work. They don't have a career. They don't have a future. They just get a check and it's not that big a check. That's not a solution.
In fact, a lot of folks in Silicon Valley who have talked about universal basic income, I think they do it to calm their consciences and to make themselves feel better about the fact that they're automating away the jobs of millions of people.
We cannot have a future without work. And the American people need the dignity of work and the meaning of work and the security of work.
My plan, unlike any other candidate, says very boldly, we're going to stop tax giveaways to companies that automate the action and make it appealing to cancel out millions of American jobs. And instead tax them. Literally tax them when they put more robots in. And a tax on those robots to create jobs for everyday Americans.
That's different than any other candidate is talking about.
DE BLASIO: Honestly, Ana, if we don't start talking about this soon -- you know, the Brookings Institution estimates 36 million American jobs could be compromised by automation by 2030, 11 years from now.
DE BLASIO: It's one of the ways you deal with it. It's being used in South Korea right now as one of their strategies to address this crisis.
CABRERA: And I know, I know, increasing taxes and taxing more people, more entities, is a big part of your policy platform and you're trying to get the message and your ideas out far and wide.
But you're still mayor of New York City and the local media here has been critical of your absence. Reports of you spending a total of 11 hours in city hall in the month of May, for example. What is your cutoff point for deciding whether to continue your presidential bid?
DE BLASIO: Ana, those reports -- and god bless the New York City media -- but those are not accurate reports. I work every day on the job as mayor of New York City. And even when I'm on the road, I'm constantly dealing with the issues back home because that's what a chief executive does.
Ana, remember, there are a lot of good candidates in the race. There are few that have run something big and challenging. I run the nation's largest city and we have the record-high employment, record- low crime, best graduation rate our schools have ever had. And I know a lot about how to get things done wherever I am. I put a huge amount of time into it.
But the bottom line to your question is, as I said, October 1st is crucial. There's still plenty of time. In the social media age, Ana, I think you would agree, word can travel very fast. I say a person can go from unknown to famous in 72 hours, nowadays. There's plenty of time to get my word out and for people to hear about this plan on automation.
And, please, I ask your viewers to go to BillDeBlasio.com and look at my automation plan. I think a lot of people will agree with it. If you like it, please donate at least a dollar. That helps me to get on the debate stage.
DE BLASIO: There's time to get the word out and time to get in the next debate --
CABRERA: Mayor --
DE BLASIO: -- and that's what I'll fight to do.
CABRERA: Mayor Bill De Blasio, thank you for being with us and good luck on the campaign trail.
DE BLASIO: Thank you.
CABRERA: More than a million kids sleep on the streets or couch surf every night in the U.S. Kids who made the tough decision to leave their unstable homes and navigate a dangerous world on their own. This week a "CNN Hero" is bringing teenagers out of the shadows, giving them a safe house to live in and a chance for a brighter future. Meet Vicki Sokolik.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICKI SOKOLIK, CNN HERO: There's a lot of shame that goes with being a homeless, unaccompanied youth. They hide what is actually going on with them. They become this very invisible population.
Most people don't even know these kids exist.
SOKOLIK: The transformation of these kids is monumental. They come in so broken. And I'm just one person telling them I'm going to help them. They become softer. It's just great that they can be happy and they're able to be kids, again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: To find out more about Vicki, go to CNNheroes.com.
We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon, this week took a stand on guns in the wake of a string of deadly mass shootings. Walmart is now asking customers not to open carry guns in its stores unless they are authorized law enforcement officers, even in states where it is legal to do so. The retailer will also stop selling handguns and ammunition for handguns and short-barrel rifles.
Walmart's CEO going a step further by sending a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass universal background checks and other common-sense gun safety legislation.
The company's actions creating a ripple effect. And now four other major retailers this week, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and Wegman's are now asking customers not to openly carry guns in their stores.
[17:50:13] Here is what President Trump had to say about Walmart's decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's up to Walmart. Hey, they're very smart. They had a tremendous quarter. They just announced tremendous numbers, which tells you how well our country is doing. That's sort of like the ultimate poll.
But Walmart announced numbers that were shockingly good. I am very proud of them from that standpoint.
From the standpoint of what they are doing with ammunition and guns, you would have to talk to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Joining us now, Randi Weingarten. She is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers' unions in the nation.
Randi, good to have you with us.
When we last spoke, you were calling on Walmart to end all gun sales and stop donating to lawmakers who take NRA money. Do Walmart gun control moves this week go far enough?
RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: First, Ana, thank you for publicizing our letter a couple of weeks ago. We saw a lot of protests and a lot of other groups sign on.
I think that Walmart has taken a huge step, you know. At the end of the day, we said at that time that Walmart is a big employer and a big retailer with it has a big footprint. So what Walmart does, others follow. That is when you see Wegman's and CVS. Dick's did it a couple of years ago. And now a bunch of other retailers doing it now. Is it far enough? The test is really, can we create enough pressure
on Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump that they listen to what people across America are saying?
This is not about sports people that use their guns responsibly or hunters that use their guns responsibly. It is about making sure that people that ought not have guns don't have access to the military style weapons that can kill so many innocent souls in the span of a minute. That is what they are trying to stop.
Other countries and democracies' with the same number of videos games, the same number of mental health issues, have been able to do this. They've been able to stop mass shooting. They don't have people that ought not have them have access to guns. That is what we are trying to do here.
You know, I have had issues with Walmart on their education policies, labor policies. But let's call them out positively for taking this step.
This was really good news this week for those of us that care about the safety of our kids and community.
CABRERA: Here is the NRA's response to Walmart's move. It writes: "It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites. Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America's fundamental freedom."
Clearly, the NRA does not like this. Does that signal to you that the NRA is worried? And I also wonder because previously you called for a boycott of Walmart how that changes your perspective of that specific thing.
WEINGARTEN: Again, you know, we have had issues with Walmart on their labor and education policies. But this is an important step they have taken and we are grateful they have done it, that Dick's has done it, that CVS and Wegman's and Walgreens have done this as well.
We need corporations in this country to listen to their consumers and to the will of the people.
At the end of the day, the NRA is here for one reason. They want to sell guns. They are an appendage of the gun industry.
Our union, my members are here to help protect children. The interest of saving kids and stopping anxiety. That's what we are fighting for. Common-sense safety rules and laws that do that.
CABRERA: Randi, what does Congress need to do for teachers and for children to feel safe in schools?
WEINGARTEN: Congress has -- there's a package of common-sense gun safety laws that are pretty well known, that have been passed through the House of Representatives. All it takes is Mitch McConnell to put it on the floor and hold people accountable responsible for a vote on this. [17:55:16]
Over 90 percent -- they are this, the background check laws. And, frankly, in this last horrible situation in Odessa, the shooter could not pass a background check. So it's getting rid of the semi -- the weapons of war that -- reinstating the ban on assault weapons. It's the background check. It's getting rid of the Charleston loophole. It's having stricter firearm storage. It's having these red flag laws.
WEINGARTEN: Everyone knows what they are. They just have to get a vote in the Senate.
CABRERA: Randi Weingarten, thank you for being here and lifting your voice up to the issue.
WEINGARTEN: Thank you, Ana. Thank you.
CABRERA: I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. That does it for me this hour. I will see you back here at 8:00 Eastern.
For now, my colleague, S.E. Cupp, continues our coverage of today's news after a quick break.