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Global Strike as Masses Take to Streets over Climate Crisis; Fact-Checking Conspiracy Theory Involving Biden & Ukraine; Ukraine is Reportedly County Involved in Whistleblower Complaint on Trump "Promise"; HUD Secretary Ben Carson Under Fire for Remark about Transgender Women; Sudden Uptick in 2020 Rivals Attacking Elizabeth Warren. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 20, 2019 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Scott McLean is in Seattle for us. Rene Marsh is in D.C.

And we begin with Bill Weir, in New York.

Tell us what you're seeing, Bill.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we're just coming the Canyon of Heroes by so many astronauts and so many World Series champs were showered with ticker tape and confetti in celebration. Now we have tens of thousands of kids who care about the planet.

Ironically, we're just going past the Wall Street bull. People know that as a landmark here in lower Manhattan, lower Broadway here, a symbol of corporate America. There are plenty of signs here taking them to task as well as politicians and diplomats, as you can imagine.

It's hard to really understand how this exploded so -- in such huge proportions in just a year.

In just about a year ago, Greta Thunberg, that 15-year-old teenager from Sweden, sat down in parliament in Stockholm and says, I'm not going to school on Fridays until grown-ups start taking this as seriously as I do. She said, I read the IPCC reporters. I know how depressing it is. But she turned her depression into action and this is the result.

This is just one sample. This isn't the official Friday for Futures March. They are five blocks back because the crowd is so big in New York City, Brianna, that NYPD had to shut down all the streets in lower Manhattan, including the Brooklyn Bridge, to handle these crowds.

They're headed for Battery Park where the speeches will be. Greta Thunberg is scheduled to speak as well. This is massive. Massive.

KEILAR: Bill, thank you so much for giving us a look at that from New York. Let's go to D.C., and Rene Marsh.

What are you seeing there?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you, Brianna, the police had to block off portions of Pennsylvania Avenue. We've now all landed here.

Listen to the crowd here. They're listening to speakers here. There are some adults here, but the majority of people here are young people. They are passionate, they are determined, they are motivated to make sure that the people inside the capitol are hearing their message, that they need more to be done, more to be done as it relates to combating this issue related to climate change.

I spoke to a 12-year-old who said this is march today, this is our big shot to show them we need business, and essentially there will be consequences.

Just a short time ago, a speaker on the stage said, how many of you here are able to vote, and we saw a lot of hands going up.

It's not just their message of climate change. They're promising to vote people out who don't support them on this issue -- Brianna?

KEILAR: They may not have created the problem, but they're certainly inheriting it there, Rene Marsh.

Scott McLean, you're in Seattle. What are you seeing there?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna. It's still early out here in Seattle. But more than 1500 Amazon employees are expected to take part in this climate march today.

Amazon, the company, just announced new climate plans, including buying 100,000 electric delivery vans. They want to be net carbon neutral by 2040. There's lots to celebrate there.

But some employees say it's not still enough. They want the company to stop donating to climate science. And they also want them to stop using technology to help oil and gas companies, something CEO Jeff Bezos has flatly rejected.

The company says there are 53,000 workers in the Seattle area. This will not really affect their business. It's not much of a strike for workers, hence, they'll have to take vacation days.

It is a strike, though, where the students these Amazon workers will meet up with, the school district is not offering any excused absences, though they said they admire their enthusiasm.

And there's plenty of it. I spoke to one 15-year-old organizer who said she feels like this is her issue. She said it's her generation that will be most impacted but it's the older generations that actually have the power to do something about it -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Scott McLean, Rene Marsh, Bill Weir, thank you to all of you.

The president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, admitting he did ask Ukrainian officials to investigation Joe Biden. But what actually happened with the Bidens in Ukraine? We'll fact-check the conspiracy theory.


Plus, if you haven't noticed, there's a sudden uptick in 2020 rivals taking on Elizabeth Warren.


KEILAR: Russia, Ukraine, fill in the blank country, if you're listening -- well, you've heard this before.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement because it was disgraceful where he talked about billions of dollars that he's not giving to a certain country unless a certain prosecutor is taken off the case. So somebody ought to look into that.


KEILAR: Well, that was President Trump in the Oval Office just a short time ago saying somebody should look into a conspiracy theory involving his political rival, Joe Biden, and a Ukrainian prosecutor. That's exactly what the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has been pushing Ukraine to do for months now.

Ukraine also is reportedly the country in the center of this whistleblower complaint involving the president and an alarming promise he allegedly made to an undisclosed foreign leader.


Here's the conspiracy theory the president has been urging Ukraine to look into. Essentially, they claim that Joe Biden used his powers as vice president to protect his son, Hunter Biden, who worked with a Ukrainian gas company.

The catch, well, the theory has been thoroughly debunked.

CNN political correspondent, Sara Murray, is here with us.

Explain the comments.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's go back to the comment Joe Biden made to the president that's been bothering him. Joe Biden made a comment after he cracked down on this Ukrainian prosecutor that he felt was really corrupt and threatened to pull U.S. aid.

Here he is bragging about his work.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm telling you, you're not getting a billion dollars. I looked at him and said, I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money. Well, son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) --


BIDEN: -- he got fired.


MURRAY: So he managed to get the prosecutor fired because he didn't think he was cracking down on corruption. At the same time this was happening, his son, Hunter Biden, was on the board of an energy company, Barisma, that had previously been investigated by that prosecutor.

But sources say that investigation was already closed. These things were not happening simultaneously. And Biden has denied over and over again that he was doing this in any way to try to benefit his son or to use his influence as vice president to benefit his son.

So there's no proof whatsoever that Joe Biden did anything wrong or that Hunter Biden did anything wrong. Does it look great? It doesn't look great, but there's no evidence there. These things just kind of were both occurring.

It's worth noting that, even though Rudy Giuliani tried to go to Ukraine and reanimate this and get prosecutors to look into it again, prosecutors weren't really buying it there.

Ukraine's prosecutor general, he left in August. But back in May he said, "I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of the U.S. presidential elections. Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws. At least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing."

KEILAR: We should point out, and I think this is people who don't pay a lot of attention to Ukraine a lot, this corruption issue is a big one. This is something multiple administrations have raised, including the Trump administration, according to a Ukrainian readout of a phone call with United States, right?

MURRAY: Yes, and at the time that Joe Biden was trying to get this prosecutor ousted, he was not the only person in a vacuum making this call. There were calls coming from the European Union, from the IMF. Everyone in the international community had this feeling that the top prosecutor in Ukraine was ready to rule out corruption and he wasn't doing his job.

KEILAR: So important that you lay this out for us.

Sara Murray, thank you so much.

Among other headlines from the president's news conference, he threatened to release ISIS fighters into Europe. He says the U.S. nuclear arsenal is in, quote, "tippy-top shape." Yes, he said that.

Plus, HUD Secretary Ben Carson reportedly telling a room that society can't tell a difference between men and women anymore, among other things.



KEILAR: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is coming under fire for dismissive comments he allegedly made about transgender people. This is according to the "Washington Post."

The paper said the remarks were made at a recent HUD staff meeting in San Francisco where, quote, "Carson expressed concern about big, hairy men attempting to enter women's shelters." That's according to three people present who interpreted the remarks on an attack against transgender women.

HUD has not responded to CNN's request for comment, but a senior HUD official told "The Post" that the secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgender individuals and called the report staff.

Gillian Branstetter is the spokeswoman for the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Thank you so much for joining us.


KEILAR: People walked out of this meeting because they heard something they thought was very discriminatory toward trans Americans. When you heard about this, what do you think?

BRANSTETTER: Unfortunately, it's a heinous and grievous insult but a common one to try to justify stripping away our rights.

What we know is that transgender people are not only likely to be the victims of sexual violence, but the very laws that protect our rights, including the Equal Access Rule, a rule in HUD that ensures rights to transpeople for HUD programs, they have zero impacts on violence.

There are 20 states that allow transpeople, to use certain restrooms, for example, and the not a single one has there been an increase in violence. The nation that there is, is nothing but a myth to put transpeople down.

KEILAR: The trope is that transpeople that he's trafficking in are perpetrators of violence when, in fact, they are the recipients of violent acts. You have statistics on how often this occurs.


BRANSTETTER: Absolutely. Transgender people, nearly half of us are sexual assault survivors. It's a crisis a lot of transgenders struggle to respond to because of this trust that exists between transpeople and the various authorities who have control over our lives.

More than half of transgender people are afraid to go to the police if they need to. One in three transgender people are afraid to see a doctor if they need to. And more than three quarters are afraid to seek shelter access when they need to.

So the secretary of Housing and Urban Development floating this debunk harmful myth is extremely harmful to a community of -- one of three experienced homelessness, one of eight just in the last year.

KEILAR: Because of that, when you see it's the HUD secretary, there's something particularly -- I guess not just painful, but if you're talking pragmatically about the needs of the trans community, this is a department that the trans community is very reliant on?

BRANSTETTER: Yes. Absolutely. The programs that have been enacted in HUD since 2011 under the Equal Access Rule ensuring that no program that is receiving HUD discriminate tax dollars are life-saving for transgender people.

It's important to understand, if you don't have stable access to shelters or housing, you're more prone to violence. This is an epidemic impacting our community.

Black transgender women in particular are murdered at extremely high rates and frightening home rates. A homeless transgender woman in Portland was found hanging from a tree. A homeless transgender woman in Idaho beaten so badly her jaw broken in 10 places and she needed reconstructive surgery.

Right in Baltimore, two weeks after this president maligned the people of Baltimore, a trans woman 17 years old, a high school senior,, was murdered on her own block.

Denying us equal access to these shelters not only fuels that crisis of violence but by spreading a myth we are not a community that need this assistance is gravely damaging to hear from the administration official.

KEILAR: Gillian Branstetter, thank you very much. We appreciate you coming in.

BRANSTETTER: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

KEILAR: In the 2020 race, why rivals are suddenly going after Elizabeth Warren.



KEILAR: As 2020 Democratic presidential candidates begin unveiling their policy plans, they're getting a lot of criticism from each other. One of the latest targets, the cost of Elizabeth Warren's health care plan. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar both weighing in.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & SOUTH BEND MAYOR: Senator Warren is known for being straightforward and was extremely evasive when asked that question.

It's puzzling that when everybody knows the answer to that question of whether her plan and Senator Sanders plan will raise middle class taxes is yes. Why you don't say so and explain why you think that's the better way forward.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): If you are tired of the extremes in politics and tired of the noise and nonsense you have a home with me.

We've got a lot of great people are running, but some of these ideas are better left in the college faculty lounge than right here at this point.


KEILAR: Pages Professor Warren.

CNN political director, David Chalian, joining me now.

We should be asking questions about these candidates' policies, however seems the other candidates are asking much harder questions only when people are up in the polls?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: To be fair, it's not like journalists haven't tried to ask at every debate. Even Steve Colbert tried to ask Elizabeth Warren, are you raising middle class taxes and she refuses to answer that question.

Bernie Sanders says -- Elizabeth Warren I'm with Bernie. Bernie says yes, raise taxes but everyone's costs will go down. Elizabeth Warren refuses to answer. And Buttigieg can call her out on it.

Welcome to the top of the heap, Elizabeth Warren. This is what happens in the campaign. And we're heading into a much more intense season in the fall. Voter are paying attention in the early states. Third-quarter fundraising deadline up, a debate coming up. We're 135 days, 136 days away from the Iowa caucuses.

KEILAR: She should take it as assurance she's well-positioned and not just Joe Biden is taking incoming?

CHALIAN: No doubt. Bernie Sanders trying to heap a lot of complaints to Joe Biden. Yes, should take it that way and has to show she can handle a new level of scrutiny.

KEILAR: Will she answer this question? And so like there's seems like obvious answer, she won't say it. CHALIAN: It's not going to stop getting asked. I think, at some

point, it's the authenticity that Pete Buttigieg pointed to, that will come into question because she's selling herself as totally authentic in her policy positions. And this piece of it, she's trying to play the political rhetoric and saying, I don't want to talk about taxes or costs.

KEILAR: OK. That's not going to fly forever.

CHALIAN: Exactly.

KEILAR: David Chalian, thank you so much.

That is it for me.

"NEWSROOM" starts right now.

[14:00:09] ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Hello. Thanks for joining us this hour. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Brooke Baldwin.