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Attack On Two Oil Installations In Saudi Arabia; Texas Republican Party Is Fundraising Off Of Beto O'Rourke's Promise To Ban Assault Weapons And Take Them Away; Oscar-Nominated Actress Felicity Huffman Will Be Heading To Prison for a little while. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired September 14, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: But CNN reported on July 31st that the U.S. believed Hamsa bin Laden was dead citing U.S. official.
CNN military and diplomatic analyst admiral John Kirby is here with us now.
And admiral Kirby, last hour we talked about the fact that Al-Qaeda has been somewhat eclipsed by maybe other terror groups since 9/11, most notably ISIS. You also mentioned Boko Haram. What is the strategic importance of Hamza bin Laden's death?
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Well, he certainly has symbolic importance because he was the perceived heir to the throne of Osama bin Laden. And many people believed that the elder bin Laden was grooming him for leadership. (INAUDIBLE), who is the stated leader of Al-Qaeda is old and some believe to be ill. So it wasn't clear how much longer his leadership was going to go on. So there was a significance in the name brand bin Laden and what that might do to the morale of Al-Qaeda and their recruiting capabilities going into the future.
They have been at odds with groups like ISIS and were looking to resurge. And many inside the organization thought that Hamza bin Laden could be that sort of anchor, that lightning rod that could get the organization to be more viable and more virulent in the future.
CABRERA: The fact this announcement comes the week of the September 11th anniversary, on the heels of John Bolton resigning or being fired, on the heels of the controversy over that Taliban meeting that was canceled that was supposed to happen at Camp David. Do you read anything into the timing of this?
KIRBY: No, I mean, it's possible. I mean, who knows with this administration, Ana. But I think the way I have seen this happen in the past is largely these kinds of announcements -- and President Trump's announcement was really lacking any hyperbole or shrill tone, the way he typically does announce things.
I think this was based on a very careful calculation by the intelligence community to not release it until, a, they were 100 percent sure that they actually did get Hamza bin Laden. And b, that they had been able to exploit all the intelligence surrounding this strike, the conduct, the planning and the execution of it so that they had all the information as a result of it going forward. In other words, that they collected enough intelligence about it so that they could either prevent ongoing attacks that were being planned or future ones that were in the works.
CABRERA: Earlier this year, the U.S. state department offered a million-dollar reward for information leading to Hamza bin Laden's capture. And that amount really pales in comparison to the 25 million on the head of al-Zawahiri, who is considered the actual leader. How much power does the bin Laden name still hold in terror circles?
KIRBY: It depends on what analyst you talk to, you know. I have talked to some that don't think it really matters that much. Others think that there is a brand notoriety to it. I think the fact that it was less than Osama bin Laden had more to do with the fact his son really hadn't done anything yet. And it was very unclear in the intelligence circle, you know, what his role was now and what it might be in the future. So I think that's probably why it wasn't quite as much.
But look, I mean, this is a viable terrorist network. And regardless of who is leading it, they still want to be powerful. They still want to conduct attacks. They are decentralizing much more than ever before. They are still dangerous.
And you know, back to your point about the peace talks and camp David and all that. This is a good reminder for the trump administration that the Taliban still has not renounced their association with Al- Qaeda. They still have a relationship there. And it's not a monolithic organization. And it's not very clear that even if you get a peace deal in Afghanistan that the Taliban is going to be able to prevent groups like Al-Qaeda, including Al-Qaeda, from operating inside Afghanistan and planning attacks.
CABRERA: I want to go back to the fact that CNN reported the possible death of Hamza bin Laden back on July 31st, yet there had been no confirmation, really haven't seen it still from Al-Qaeda itself. Terror watch groups would have expected them to release some kind of eulogy, wouldn't they? And what do you make of the fact they didn't?
KIRBY: It is very curious. I wish I had an answer for that one. I mean, you certainly would have expected the son of Osama bin Laden, the soon to be heir, that they would have done some sort of martyrdom statement. So it's either they don't want to convey how important he was to the organization. In other words, they don't want shatter whatever the morale effect might be and damage recruiting going forward. So they are being careful to marshal their resources. Or maybe he wasn't as important as some analysts think he was to the organization. It is really unclear, very curious. I wish I had a better answer, but I have been trying to figure that out myself.
CABRERA: Admiral, stay with me. More to discuss.
There's an attack on two oil installations in Saudi Arabia that has raised the Specter of oil prices going up here in America. U.S. markets won't open until Monday, but we are told the attack did immense damage. Two oil facilities owned by Saudi Arabia's Aramco were attacked by drones, disrupting half of the kingdom's oil capacity. Five million barrels of crude production a day have been impacted, we are learning.
CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins us now with the latest. Also here is CNN's White House reporter Jeremy Diamond.
Ben, first, give us the details on these attacks. No one was hurt?
[16:05:05] BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we understand is that there were no casualties in the attacks. But as you mentioned, half of Saudi Arabia's oil output has been put out of operation. That's about five percent of the world's oil production.
Now, what happened was -- and this was claimed by a spokesman for the Houthi rebels in Yemen is that they fired ten drones towards these two oil facilities. But keep in mind, Yemen is 500 miles away from those facilities. So it would indicate that somehow the Houthis, perhaps from Iran r getting a kind of sophisticated technology that nobody thought they would have, that would be so precise as to hit these facilities. And the pictures coming out of Saudi Arabia are breathtaking in terms of the size of the fires that are going on.
Now, Saudi officials say the fires are now under control. And officials at Saudi Aramco say they hope to get production back to normal in the coming days. But certainly this has raised tensions significantly, hitting Saudi Arabia's oil facilities, knocking out half their production is really the nightmarish scenario that's been in place for this region for a very long time. And it certainly raises the possibility of further confrontation between Iran, which of course, supports the Houthis, and Saudi Arabia, which since march of 2015 has been waging this war that's really become a quagmire that's left tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians dead and many more suffering from disease and hunger -- Ana.
CABRERA: What's the word from the White House? Any response there?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As of now, we know the President did speak in morning with the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman over the phone. We do have a statement from the White House on that phone call. And this is what the White House is saying today.
They are saying, the United States strongly condemns today's attack on critical energy, infrastructure, violent actions against civilian areas, and infrastructure vital to the global economy only deepen conflict and mistrust. The United States government is monitoring the situation and remains committed to ensuring global oil markets are stable and well supplied.
So of course we know the United States and Saudi Arabia are close allies. So it is natural there would have been a phone call between the two leaders, the U.S. leader and the de facto Saudi leader. But at the heart of this conversation, also as it's clear in this White House statement, is this question of what will happen to oil markets as a result of this attack, as a result of the disruption to Saudi oil supply. We know that the President has in the past been concerned about oil prices and especially of course as he gets closer to his 2020 reelection campaign. Gas prices in the United States, always something to look out for.
But beyond that, there is also, of course, the implication as it relates to Iran. Now we know that the United States and Saudi Arabia have coordinated closely in terms of monitoring the oil markets to prevent Iran from benefitting too much from that. And there's also a question, of course, as we look at the possibility of the U.S. president engaging diplomatically with Iran's president at the United Nations next week. What will the effect of this be? We know that Iran has backed the Houthi rebels, supplied them in the past.
And so there will, of course, be questions about this. We have already seen a tweet from the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, suggesting a connection here, again, between the Iranians and this attack.
CABRERA: OK. Jeremy diamond at the White House. Ben Wedeman for us in Lebanon. Thank you both for that reporting.
Let's get a deeper perspective on what this means. CNN's diplomatic and military analyst, retired rear admiral John Kirby is back with us. He served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs and was also a Pentagon spokesman.
Let me read to you, admiral Kirby, secretary Pompeo's recent tweet. He writes, Tehran is mind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world energy supply. There is no evidence the attack came from Yemen. What do you think of that?
KIRBY: He is definitely signaling that they are planning to hold Iran almost singularly accountable for this strike. Now, you and I don't have access to the intelligence. We have to take him sort of at his word when he says there's no evidence it came from Yemen. But clearly, even before Pompeo's tweet, my assumption was that the Iranians had provided the technology, if not actually conducted this attack on behalf of the Houthis from Houthi territory inside Yemen. So what Pompeo is saying is maybe even didn't even come from Yemen.
Clearly, this is going to very much make even more difficult any sort of rapprochement with Iran. I mean, just over in the last couple of days, President Trump was talking about being willing to endorse sort a loan to Iran by other nations to help their economy get back on its feet. This is certainly going to, I think, torpedo any chance for that.
And also, there's significant now, I would think, a rise in increase of actual conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran and maybe even through Yemen. I don't know that this would result in an attack by Saudi Arabia to Iranian territory, but clearly the Saudis are going to be looking for a way to retaliate inside Yemen. All that's going to do is make that conflict even worse than it is.
[16:10:31] CABRERA: A source says that Aramco hopes to have oil capacity restored within days. How serious a disruption is this to global supply? KIRBY: Well, as Ben was reporting, you know, five percent of global
oil supply now affected. Is it a disaster, catastrophic? No, but it certainly gong to have a bite and an impact. And it's going to be exacerbated by however long it takes them to get these refineries back online.
What is unique about this strike is how precise it was. Ben alluded to this. But we have never seen anything like this from the Houthis when they were flying missiles into Saudi Arabia. They were fairly unguided, not very precise and sort of irregular. They were mostly for shock value.
This was very calculated, to have a very specific effect on Saudi Arabia and its economy. Definitely in my view, there's the hand of Iran here. I just don't know exactly how far they went with it. So I think what worries me more than the effect on the oil supply is the regional outcomes here, both in terms of the broader Middle East and specifically inside Yemen.
CABRERA: Admiral Kirby, thank you much. Good to have you with us.
KIRBY: You bet.
CABRERA: It's been called the line of the night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In time, hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We are not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: How the Texas Republican party is now fundraising off O'Rourke's big promise during that debate.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:15:38] CABRERA: Welcome back.
Now listen to this. The Texas Republican party is fundraising off of Beto O'Rourke's promise to ban assault weapons and take them away. The Texas GOP is now giving this shirt to anyone who donates more than $30 to the party. You can see there it reads, Beto, come and take it, with an outline of an assault rifle.
I want to bring in "New York Times" congressional editor Julie Hirschfeld Davis, and correspondent for "New York" magazine, Olivia Nuzzi.
So Julie, isn't this exactly what Democrats were afraid of, that Republicans would be able to take this line and galvanize their base, saying we told you Democrats were going to take your guns? JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. I
mean, this is what Democrats have been afraid of for a long time for many election cycles. And it used to be you would see Democratic presidential candidates doing things like going hunting to show they, too, were advocates of people's rights to bear arms and they weren't planning to take anyone's guns away. But obviously Beto O'Rourke thinks this is an issue that's shifted and that people are ready to hear someone say we are willing to take extreme measures to try to get a handle on gun violence and the mass shootings that have -- that we have seen a wave of in the recent past.
The problem for the Democrats is that, you know, they had a strategy here of coalescing around some more moderate sounding proposals, things like universal background checks that, are more broadly popular in the country. And this makes it more difficult for them to say that that's where the party is. Because there are people like O'Rourke who are really going to push this issue and they are going to have to figure out whether they are going to join them or distance themselves.
CABRERA: It did seem that that remark caught a lot of people off guard. But I want to play what Joe Biden said about assault weapons last month, right here on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON 360: So to gun owners out there who say, well, a Biden administration means they're going to come for my guns.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bingo, you are right if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is they should be illegal, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So Olivia, how is that different from what O'Rourke said this week?
OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, I think the difference is the venue, right. O'Rourke said it in a very powerful way at a debate that took place in his home state where there was just a mass shooting that really, you know, caught the attention of the entire country and seemed to reignite his campaign in some way and really refocus his campaign on this issue of guns. So I think the difference is how he said it and where he said it.
And I would point out that, yes, we are used to seeing Democrats say things like, you know, if you hunt, if you have a gun for a reason, that's not to harm people, that we are not coming for your guns. But the difference on the debate stage in Houston this week was that nobody said that. You didn't hear the more moderates on the stage talking the way that we're used to more moderate Democrats talking about this issue. So I think the party has really shifted to the left on this, and it doesn't seem like there's going to be a re-shift back to the center any time soon.
CABRERA: And yet, you don't hear that at all from congressional Democrats.
Julie, when you look at where all the Democrats, at least in 2020, are standing on this issue, every single candidate on that stage Thursday night f you go into their policy platforms, on their websites, they all support an assault weapons ban. Is O'Rourke just saying the quiet part out loud?
DAVIS: Yes, and I think he's saying it in a more aggressive way. But you are right. They have all come around and come out to that position in their platforms. But it is different, and I think we are going to see this on a lot of issues than what you hear in Congress, where the Democratic caucus is made up not only of progressives but also of a small but important group of centrists who really don't want to go there on this issue.
If you look at the polling, you know, a majority of Americans do support an assault weapons ban, but a much greater majority supports some of these other measures that Democrats have coalesced around in Congress. And that's the reason that you are not seeing them push an assault weapons ban as part of this legislative debate that's going on right now with talks with the White House and on the hill about where they can come together on some gun compromises.
So I think there is going to be a continued disconnect between what we hear from Democrats in Congress on this issue and what we hear from the presidential field.
CABRERA: But what I don't understand is it seems like it's not just Democrats who are going along with some of what we are hearing from those congressional Democrats. A lot of Republicans out there also agree with the idea of background checks. We have the polling that you referenced. Ninety percent support universal background checks. Two-thirds support an assault weapons ban.
Olivia, which party has more to worry about when it comes to gun control?
[16:20:08] NUZZI: Well, I think it's interesting. I think lawful gun owners probably feel the way that other groups of lawful people who have some bad actors who color the entire group feel. You know, some people are making them look bad. And they want their laws to be abided by as much as anybody else does. They don't want to be painted with a broad brush either.
And I think Beto O'Rourke, even as forceful as he was on that debate stage. And even though he said hell yes and got a lot of applause and seemed very radical maybe to some people who believe in the second amendment unequivocally, he has been talking about the fact that there are Republicans, there are gun own who are agree with him, who think there should be common sense gun reforms, that you should close loopholes, you should try and guard against mass violence like we have seen an uptick of over the last several years.
And so I think it will be interesting to see whether or not he's able to take this message anywhere beyond just the left on this issue.
CABRERA: Olivia Nuzzi and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, I always appreciate both of you when you can join. Thank you.
DAVIS: Thank you.
CABRERA: Actress Felicity Huffman learns her fate after buying her daughter's way into college, but some say it's not enough.
More right after this, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:25:16] CABRERA: Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman will be heading to prison for a little while. A Boston judge sentenced her to 14 days behind bars for her part in the nation's largest college admissions scam. Huffman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud after she paid $15,000 to boost her daughter's SAT scores.
CNN's Miguel Marquez has more.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Felicity Huffman hand in hand with her husband, actor William H. Macy, entering a federal courthouse in Boston to learn her fate. Huffman addressing the court through tears, she apologized to the judge, her daughters, and husband, saying she is ashamed of her behavior, recounting how one of her daughters told her, I don't know who you are anymore, mom. She also said she was driving her daughter to the testing center, she thought to herself, turn around, just turn around. And to my eternal shame, she says, I didn't. Huffman concluded by saying she takes full responsibility.
Prosecutors wanted her to spend a month in prison. Her lawyers wanted probation for a year. In sentencing Huffman to 14 days in prison and a $30,000 fine, the judge saying despite Huffman taking responsibility, the outrage isn't the harm to the colleges. The outrage is a system that is already so distorted by money and privilege in the first place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what --
MARQUEZ: In may, the "Desperate Housewives" star pleaded guilty to one count of fraud for paying $15,000 to Rick Singer, who got her daughter extra time on a college entrance exam and bribed the administrator at the location where she took it.
In a three-page letter to the judge explaining herself, Huffman wrote, in my desperation to be a good mother, I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot. I see the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair.
Huffman is the first parent sentenced in the sprawling federal investigation into college admissions cheating, dubbed operation varsity blues. Dozens of wealthy, prominent, and connected parents, coaches, and administrators have been charged in the scam masterminded by Rick Singer.
His front charity, Key Worldwide Foundation, purported to help disadvantaged kids in the U.S. and abroad. Singer, who is cooperating with investigators, has since confessed to taking tens of millions of dollars for helping kids of wealthy parents cheat on college entrance exams and bribing coaches to falsely designate students as athletes paving the way for their admissions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
MARQUEZ: Also caught up in the scandal, "Full House" access Lori Laughlin, whose two daughters were admitted to the University of Southern California as competitive rowers, even though they never participated in the sport. Prosecutors say she and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, paid singer a half million dollars and even sent photos of both their daughters on rowing machines to bolster their false claims. Laughlin and Giannulli have pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering. The charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Huffman has been ordered to report to prison on October 25th. It's not clear where she will do that time. She asked for California. It is not clear that she will get it. The judge at the end of the sentencing said she thought he was the right sentence. He she said to Huffman, you can rebuild your life from here on out. You have paid your dues.
Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.
CABRERA: They are still looking for missing people in the Bahamas. And now the same areas devastated by hurricane Dorian brace for more destruction from a tropical storm. We are live in Nassau next.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Just a couple of weeks after Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of the Bahamas, the islands are facing another round of dangerous weather. Right now, Tropical Storm Humberto is packing 50-mile-per-hour winds, bringing new worries for those still struggling to recover and rebuild after Dorian.
Meteorologist Karen Maginnis is tracking the storm for us and joins us from the CNN Severe Weather Center.
Karen, what kind of impact is Humberto going to have on the Bahamas?
KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Ana, it looks like the weather conditions here will be deteriorating quite a bit over the next 12 to 24 hours as this tropical system begins to pull away from the Bahamas. I want to emphasize that.
But most of the energy associated with Humberto, which is fairly poorly organized, but a lot of that deep convection is along that eastern and northern edge of the system.
You can see here to the south, not a whole lot of activity, but nonetheless, still enough energy from Humberto, which is supporting winds of 15 miles per hour, to produce some heavy squalls. You'll see a pretty rough surf, but it looks like as far as the storm surge is concerned, there's going to be little, if any.
Now, it is moving off towards the northwest. And look at this. We don't generally see something like this, where the spaghetti models are in very, very good agreement, that this tropical system Humberto will move off towards the northwest and very rapidly spin out into the open Atlantic.
And maybe the next several days, we'll have to watch as it could possibly impact the Bahamas at hurricane intensity.
Right now, as far as Florida is concerned, there are no watches, no warnings. There's a heavy surf. We're also looking at a rip current, and that makes it dangerous for people who have gone to the beautiful peninsula of Florida to enjoy the nice weather.
But, Ana, that'll be just one problem to have to deal with. We don't have to worry about it making landfall there at all.
CABRERA: That sounds like some good news.
Karen Maginnis, thanks for that update.
Now, as the Bahamas brace for what could be this other powerful storm, hundreds are still missing, thousands remain homeless two weeks after Dorian hit as a category 5 hurricane.
Right now, 50 people are confirmed dead, but officials say that number is expected to keep rising. Nearly 4,000 evacuees have fled to south Florida. For those who can't leave, there's hope.
My next guest is the founder of Mercy Chefs, which continues to serve thousands of meals a day to evacuees in Nassau.
Gary LeBlanc, thank you so much for joining us.
We know there's so much need there already after Hurricane Dorian.
GARY LEBLANC, FOUNDER, MERCY CHEFS: Thank you.
CABRERA: How have you been preparing for potentially more bad weather heading that way.
LEBLANC: Well, we got a couple more of our chefs on the island. We're continuing to expand our operations here. We brought in some additional equipment. We hope to double our capacity by Monday or tuesday. We'll be ready for whatever comes.
CABRERA: What is your assessment of the situation right now, two weeks after Dorian hit?
LEBLANC: I think everybody is doing the very best job they can possibly do. The circumstances are very unusual. You're looking at a nation with 17 percent or 18 percent of its population that are homeless tonight. So absorbing all those people from the out islands into Nassau and other places they can take them has been very challenging.
CABRERA: You've called it the most desperate humanitarian situation you've ever seen in 13 years that you've been doing this. What does your day-to-day look like right now?
LEBLANC: Well, we're up early with the chef teams in the morning. We'll prepare food all night. We'll serve lunch. We'll serve dinner. Then we'll start getting ready for the next day. The days are long, but they're incredibly rewarding. We've been focused on feeding the evacuees in the shelters here in Nassau. These are folks that really do need love.
CABRERA: And when it comes to even being able to provide food and water, it's not that simple, right? Clean water is still hard to come by as I understand it in some places. The infrastructure is just not there. Tell us more about that.
LEBLANC: Right. Well, clean water has been an issue. We have one water filtration unit that Mercy Chef has provide that's on Freeport. We have another one going into Abaco tomorrow or the day after. We're holding a third unit to see where a second and larger kitchen is going to land.
CABRERA: What is your biggest concern when it comes to the long-term recovery process for the Bahamas?
LEBLANC: Just being able to effectively absorb that many additional people into the service needs here.
You know, schools are going to have to change. You've got all these folks now that are going to need to get their children in school. Job structure is going to have to expand. Then housing for these people. It's water, it's food, but then it's shelter.
So in the sheltering concerns, Mercy Chef is going to support volunteer teams for years to come.
CABRERA: Wow. How can people help?
LEBLANC: They can go to mercychefs.com and find out everything that we would need them to do. They can pray for the people of the Bahamas as well.
CABRERA: All right. Gary LeBlanc, thank you for all the great work you're doing, for taking time to share with us what's happening there on the ground and what is needed in order to make a difference.
LEBLANC: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: Thank you.
An Atlanta woman is now calling for change after her father, a Vietnam vet, who was terminally ill with cancer, died at a V.A. center after he was ravaged by ants. How the hospital is responding to this stunning photo next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: A stunning and horrifying discovery in Indiana. The family of a doctor who operated at an abortion clinic found more than 2,000 medically preserved fetal remains on his property. The doctor ran a women's health facility in South Bend, Indiana, before his license was suspended in 2015.
He died earlier this month, and relatives made this grisly discovery on Thursday while going through his property. Police say there's no evidence that any medical procedures were conducted at the doctor's house. Investigators say the family is cooperating with their investigation.
Allegations of wrongdoing and substandard care at veterans hospitals are once again making headlines, this time, after the death of two vets who died under troubling circumstances.
CNN's Scott McLean has details.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Laquna Ross went to see her father last week, she expected him to be in rough shape. He was diagnosed with cancer. But she never imagined she would see this. Her father, Joel Marrable, an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, had swollen hands and was covered in bites, hundreds of them.
LAQUNA ROSS, DAUGHTER OF JOEL MARRABLE): If it didn't promote his body to die quicker, what is the protocol within the V.A. just to manage when something like this happens?
MCLEAN: Marrable had been staying at a nursing home in Atlanta run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ross says the room was infested with ants.
ROSS: His room had ants, the ceiling, the walls, the beds. They were everywhere.
MCLEAN: And crawling all over her father.
ROSS: The staff member says to me, when we walked in here, we thought Mr. Marrable was dead. We thought he wasn't even alive.
MCLEAN: Ross says her father was moved to a new room but died an hour later.
Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson said he was shocked, horrified, and down-right maddened by the conditions.
The Atlanta V.A. say it has apologized to the family and promised a top-to-bottom review to ensure it never happens again.
The apology comes just as the V.A. faces a wrongful death lawsuit in a separate case in South Carolina after a Navy veteran died at a V.A. hospital in Columbia.
According to the civil suit, 37-year-old Luke Smith was honorably discharged from the Navy after a mental illness diagnosis. September 2017, surveillance footage shows Smith charging at another patient before hospital staff restrain him.
The lawsuit says employees continually applied pressure to his neck and maintained their positions on him, which resulted in him being slowly asphyxiated.
The coroner ruled the death a homicide, but criminal charges were never filed.
RANDY HOOK, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY: None, zero, zip. A homicide and no one was charged. So who is accountable?
MCLEAN (on camera): The Columbia V.A. health care system would not comment on this specific case but says that its quality standards are among the highest in the country.
Meanwhile, Laquna Ross says she's glad the V.A. here in Atlanta has promised to make changes. She's just not sure if any changes will be enough to heal the damage done in her mind.
Scott McLean, CNN, Atlanta.
CABRERA: Coming up, the school changes inspired by an Ohio boy denied a hot lunch on his birthday all because of a $9 debt to the school. That student and his grandmother join us live, next.
CABRERA: Outrage in Ohio after an elementary school student had his hot SHARP lunch taken away because of an unpaid balance on his cafeteria account.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFERSON SHARPNACK, STUDENT DENIED LUNCH DUE TO $9 DEBT: They didn't say anything. They put the bread sticks and sauce and took out the cheese on bread out of the fridge and put it on my tray.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The fact this this happened to Jefferson on his 9th birthday only makes it worse.
The local news did a story. It caught fire on social media sparking a big reaction and now the school district is making changes.
Jefferson Sharpnack and his grandmother, Diane Bailey, are joining us now.
Jefferson, thank you so much.
I love your bow tie and your great big smile you have today.
Can you just walk me back through what happened?
SHARPNACK: OK. So it was my birthday like a week ago. And I was at school, I was in line getting ready to go sit down at my table when the lunch lady took my cheesy bread sticks and went to the fridge and took out bread on cheese and put it on my lunch tray.
CABRERA: And what did you do after that?
SHARPNACK: I walked back to my lunch seat, my lunch table, and told my friends about it.
CABRERA: And how did that make you feel to have them take away your lunch right in front of your classmates?
SHARPNACK: It hurt.
CABRERA: It hurt, no doubt about it. You are so brave to share this story with us.
Diane, I'm wondering how you found out about what happened and what your reaction was.
DIANE BAILEY, GRANDMOTHER OF JEFFERSON: Well, I was waiting for him to get off the school bus, which was his birthday, and he had taken in a snack and he was all excited. And when he got off the bus, he looked at me and said, Worst birthday ever."
I asked him what happened and he said, first, he couldn't do snack because they changed the policy, and that I understood. But then he said they took my lunch. I said. what do you mean they took your lunch. He said, they took it off of my tray and gave me cheese and bread.
And I said, OK, we'll take care of it. So I went into the house and called the school and voiced my unhappiness.
CABRERA: Yes, unhappiness just to say the least I'm sure. I understand Jefferson and his siblings just moved in with you, right? How many children?
BAILEY: Yes, they have only been with me for a few weeks. And so he was pretty upset because he hadn't made a lot of new friends at the new school yet. So he was a little embarrassed. And I was aggravated.
CABRERA: No doubt. Already a big adjustment for a 9-year-old, a new scenario for you, a lot of new things to worry about.
You said there was only a $9 debt on the account.
CABRERA: What did you do?
BAILEY: They had sent me a letter on Friday that it was $9.75 that he owed. And there was no school Monday. So Tuesday morning, I called the school and asked to be transferred to the food service and told them I had four students in the school system, and if I could have an amount for each one, I would make sure that it was taken care before the paperwork had been processed for the free lunch or reduced lunch.
And they said no problem, they gave me the amounts. No amount was over $9. And I thought it had been taken care of.
And then when he got home and that had happened, I called the school and I was a little irate. And they said that they were sorry.
And I felt bad because my 13-year-old grandson had said that it happened the first week of school. But it wasn't his birthday and I wasn't excited so much about it. But I realized it happened to a lot of children and I said there has to be a different policy. They aren't there to humiliate and embarrass. They're there for an education. And I was upset.
CABRERA: And it does sound like something good has come of it. The superintendent sent a notice to parents and posted this on Facebook. And part of it reads, "All students enrolled in this district pre-K through 12th grade will receive standard lunch at school regardless of their account balance."
Diane, what do you think of the school's response now?
BAILEY: Well, I was very happy that they responded in a positive manner. And the assistant superintendent came out to speak to me. And she asked me if I was happy with the situation. And which I was.
But you know, then I realized that there's 30.3 million students in this country on reduced and free lunch programs. That is a lot of kids. So it is a lot of lunches.
And I've had responses from people around the country who say that they grew up on free lunch programs and were stigmatized by it. And this shouldn't happen. These are our future generation. These are the people that will run our country.
CABRERA: And those children need fuel for their bodies. It doesn't matter how much that costs.
CABRERA: It should be a no-brainer for children to be fed.
CABRERA: I want to take a moment here because -- to point out that the School Nutrition Association says 75 percent of school districts reported having unpaid student meal debt at the end of 2016/17 school year and this is an extremely common issue.
And the Department of Agricultural has mandated that schools must develop plans for kids with deficit accounts. They strongly discourage lunch shaming and denying meals.
Jefferson, let me come back to you. What do you hope people learn from your experience?
SHARPNACK: I hope that the people learn that it is not right to take away a kid's lunch.
CABRERA: That is a good lesson.
Jefferson Sharpnack and Diane Bailey, thank you both being here and thanks for sharing.
BAILEY: You're welcome. Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: We'll be right back.
CABRERA: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York.
We have breaking news. A stunning attack on the world's energy supply. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is pointing the finger at Iran. It happened in Saudi Arabia. Drones hitting crucial oil facilities, setting them on fire.
That attack is expected to ripple around the world when the markets open on Monday.
Yemen's Houthi rebels have taken responsibility for this attack. But Pompeo says Iran is to blame.
He writes this, "Tehran is been behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Iranians pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply."