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NEW DAY SUNDAY
Biden: "This Appears to Be An Overwhelming Abuse of Power"; Ukrainian FM Denies There Was Pressure to Investigate Biden's Son; Saudi Diplomat: "An Act of War" if Oil Attack Launched from Iran; Poll: Warren Surges, Biden's Lead Fades in Tight Iowa Race; AOC Calls Out Dems for Not Impeaching "Lawbreaking" President; White House Threatens to Pull Funding from UNC-Duke Middle East Program; Emmy Awards: Hollywood Readies for TV's Biggest Night. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired September 22, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president faces this whistle-blower complaint. He is calling it the Ukraine witch hunt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The drum beat for impeachment grows louder and louder.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time for us to start impeachment proceedings right now!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saudi Arabia intensifying its rhetoric against Iran more than a week after an attack on its oil facilities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would be considered an act of war.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A student reported Catherine Maccarone wasn't acting like herself, smelled like alcohol and ran three red lights.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just got off the bus, me and my friend. Our bus driver, she was drunk.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. We are so glad you're with us here.
Several well-known Democrats are repeating their calls for the impeachment of President Trump this morning. This is the Ukrainian whistle-blower controversy is unfolding. While campaigning in Iowa yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren said the president believes he is above the law and Congress must hold him accountable.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez called out her own party for not impeaching President Trump. Last night, she tweeted: At this point, the bigger national scandal isn't the president's lawbreaking behavior -- it is the Democratic Party's refusal to impeach him for it.
Now, we need to state here explicitly, there is absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden. We are covering the angles, though, of this story.
PAUL: Yes, all angles. Sarah Westwood it at the White House this morning. CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is in Kiev, Ukraine.
We do want to start in Washington with you, Sarah.
Joe Biden is at the center of this as well. Is he calling for impeachment?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christi, former Vice President Joe Biden is stopping short of calling for impeachment right now, but he is calling for investigation. And he said depending on what the House find investigating these allegations, then impeachment could be considered down the road. Keep that in mind this whole controversy centers on July 25th phone call President Trump had with the Ukrainian President Zelensky. A source tells CNN that on that call, President Trump pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of Joe Biden.
Biden had an obviously strong reaction to this yesterday while campaigning in Iowa. He said the president is only attempting to go smear him because he is afraid he could lose to Biden in 2020. Take a listen.
(BEGION VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Trump's doing this because he knows I'll beat him like a drum and he's using the abuse of power in every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me. This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power. To get on the phone with a foreign leader who is looking for help from the United States and ask about me and imply things, if that's what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WESTWOOD: President Trump was on Twitter yesterday defending himself, describing that phone call as a perfectly fine and routine conversation. House Democrats still trying to get their hand on that whistle-blower complaint, despite roadblocks from the administration, but lawmakers this week would get some answers when acting intelligence director Joseph Maguire appears before the House committee to testify about this whole situation. There will be a lot of questions, Victor and Christi, not just about the complaint itself, but also how it subsequently been handled by the administration.
PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.
Now, this controversy is playing out in Ukraine as well. And it could have major consequences for politicians there.
BLACKWELL: Ukraine's president has not given specific details of his phone call with President Trump, but the two leaders are expected to meet this week, at the United Nations General Assembly.
PAUL: CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance joining us now from Kiev.
We know that we heard from the foreign minster about this, Matthew, saying I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure, which doesn't sound particularly definitive. But are we going to hear from President Zelensky himself on this at some point?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I hope we are. Certainly, we have been putting in sort of hourly request to get some sort of official statement on this. But the fact they haven't gone back to us or said that they won't comment on this so far is, I think, you know, a testament to the fact they are struggling with walking this tight rope.
I mean, they know very well that first of all, they have to preserve a good relationship with the United States, with the current U.S. president and with future U.S. presidents. United States, you remember, Ukraine is the most strategic important ally it has. It's an important provider of economic support and diplomatic support, but crucially, military support as well in its ongoing battle with Russian-backed rebels in the eastern part of the country.
I mean, it released $250 million, the United States, for the military aid of Ukraine just a few weeks ago, to the great relief of the military establishment here. They don't want to jeopardize that relationship. So, you know, the kind of comments we are hearing have been very noncommittal. I think we may have sound of the Ukrainian foreign minister making his point that pressure was not applied directly to the Ukrainian leadership, but conversations were had.
Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VADYM PRYSTAIKO, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Our president has a right to talk to another president the way this conversation remains confidential. If someone believes that our president is being put under pressure, they have to prove it. I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure. There was talk, conversations are different. Leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist. This conversation was long and friendly and a touched on a lot of questions, including those requiring serious answers.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So, Victor and Christi, look, I mean, there is a sense that the some exasperation is how to characterize the mood here in Kiev. President Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has been pushing since he was inaugurated in May for a face-to-face meeting with President Trump. He's finally getting one on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly next week, next Wednesday. It's been scheduled for in New York. But, no, it is going to be overshadowed, like it or not, by this latest controversy.
Back to you.
BLACKWELL: Matthew Chance for us there in Kiev, thank you, Matthew.
The head of the elite Revolutionary Guard in Iran says that they will pursue any aggressor and seek to destroy them even if there was a limited attack on them.
PAUL: So, we hear this after the U.S. announced its sending additional troops to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in response to the Saudi oil attack.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the troop would be, quote, defensive in nature and primarily focused on air missile defense.
BLACKWELL: CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Iran following these developments -- Nick.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems, as though, Iran is outdoing kind of doing its regional competitors here in terms of the top rhetoric, particularly you heard those comments kind of echoing what they heard from the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that they would launch all-out war against U.S. or Saudi Arabia if they attacked Iran's territory directly. Sort of a standard calculation, frankly, Iran always likes to project that here.
But we also heard today from President Rouhani speaking on the anniversary marking the start of the Iran and Iraq war in the '80s, particularly brutal, savage episode for the people of Iran. He made some comments about the likely soon arrival of possibly hundreds, possibly dozens, because we don't know yet, of more American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirati defense.
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We announced to the world that the presence of foreign forces can be problematic and dangerous for the region for international waterways, for maritime security, for oil and energy security. But our path and our way is creating unity in coordination with the region's countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PATON WALSH: He went on to say that they will at the U.N. be putting forward a peace initiative, a plan to try and get regional neighbors to work together and reduce tensions in the gulf because, of course, the United States and Saudi Arabia would say, well, it's Iran that was behind some of the (INAUDIBLE) there and they blame for the attack on the Saudi oil refinery, which Iran has consistently denied.
The question is really what comes next of this? But the Iranian president, you saw him there and arriving there Monday. His foreign minister is already there. And they will be talking, they say, possibly to the Saudi Arabian neighbors or the Emiratis too, if for example those neighbors are willing to do so.
They will not be talking to the United States, period. They said unless Donald Trump gets back into the nuclear deal or drop the sanctions that were lifted under it that he subsequently reimposed. Very slim chance of diplomacy between Washington and Tehran but he has to look what people have learned from this week.
Frankly, Donald Trump talked about military retaliation and not done it. He put on sanctions that frankly will not as tough as he made them sound. He's wanted to talk to the Iranians without preconditions. He's unclear on that.
And now, we have Iran still going to United Nations General Assembly in New York, launching their own peace initiative. People here looking at the last week or two and saying that they got very close to conflagration here and possibly new calculations ahead as to what exactly the United States is willing to do in terms of intervening militarily to defend its allies here.
Back to you.
PAUL: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, we appreciate it. Thank you.
You heard Nic reference Saudi Arabia. A top Saudi diplomat tells CNN now that it will be, quote, considered an act of war if there's direct evidence that Iran was behind an attack on its oil facilities. The Pentagon says they have intel that shows the drones and cruise missiles used in the attack were produced by Iran.
BLACKWELL: CNN's Nic Robertson sat with the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Are we on the threshold of a military war? Do you believe?
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: We don't want war. The U.S. doesn't want war. But it's really up to the Iranians, if they continue along this path, then they risk the possibility of military action. But nobody wants war. Everybody wants to resolve this peacefully and the end result has to be an end to Iran's aggressive policies.
ROBERTSON: I don't see the difference of the moment, if you don't mind me saying, of Iran producing these weapons and waiting for an investigation to find out where they were fired from because surely it all amounts to the same thing that you're going to come to the same point. Eventually, are you playing for time by saying that we are investigating right now when you perhaps have a very strong inclination?
AL-JUBEIR: We hold Iran responsible because the missiles and the drones that were fired at this country are not only against Abqaiq and Khurais, but also from Yemen were Iranian built and Iranian delivered missiles. So we hold them responsible. To launch an attack from your territory, if that is the case, puts us in a different category.
ROBERTSON: What's the different category?
AL-JUBEIR: This would be considered an act of war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: And we'll have more on that a little bit later.
Also, new poll numbers show Senator Elizabeth Warren is surging, now neck and neck with Vice President Joe Biden in one key state.
BLACKWELL: Plus, an American couple's romantic vacation end in tragedy. What we are learning about this heartbreaking marriage proposal.
And breaking overnight, police in Greece have arrested a man in connection with a plane hijacking from 30 years ago.
PAUL: We are live in Athens when we come back.
PAUL: Breaking overnight, Greek police just arrested a Lebanese man in connection with a plane hijacking that dates all the way back to 1985.
BLACKWELL: All right. So, let's talk a bit about the case. Terrorists seized control of a TWA flight 847 while it was en route from Athens to Rome. This was mid-June 1985. More than 100 passengers were kept on board the plane for 17 days before gradually being released.
CNN reporter Elinda Labropoulou is in Greece, was following this story for us.
So, what more can you tell us?
ELINDA LABROPOULOU, CNN REPORTER: Well, the man was arrested on the island of Mykonos after he disembarked a cruise ship. There was an international warrant by the German authorities that seemed to correspond to a lot of the information that had been available about his actual profile. Now although police in Greece have not given his identity, we are trying to understand, police have confirmed that the arrest has been made in connection to the actual 1985 hijacking as well as a kidnapping case in 1987 in Germany. All of this leads to the profile of just one man from the militants that were aboard this flight.
From the Lebanese side, the authorities have said that they are looking into this. They said that at the moment, the prisoner was being kept by the Greek authorities appears to be a journalist but they are looking into this to see what the man's true identity is. And the Greek authorities are currently working closely with the German police as well to try and decide, find out who the man really is and if he is the person in question to then begin extradition procedures to Germany.
PAUL: Elina Labropoulou, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: Well, what should have been a romantic proposal ended in tragedy for an American couple vacationing in Africa.
PAUL: Steven Weber and Kenesha Antoine were staying in a cabin that had a bedroom that emerged into the ocean. Webber swam under the water holding a handwritten note asking her to marry him. The thing is never surfaced.
Here is CNN's Farai Sevenzo.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tragedy struck for an American man who died when he was proposing to his girlfriend under water. He wrote on a note, I can't hold my breath long enough to tell you everything I love about you, but everything I love about you, I love more every day. Will you please be my wife?
Sadly, he didn't resurface and his girlfriend went to post on her Facebook post: You never emerged from these depths, so you never got to hear my answer. Yes, yes, yes, a million times yes, I will marry you.
But, of course, he had already died. She went on to say, we never got to embrace and celebrate the beginning rest of our live together as the best days of our live turned into the worst -- in the cruelest twist of fate imaginable. The U.S. State Department confirmed that a U.S. tourist had died in Tanzania and, of course, this has touched many people across social media.
Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.
PAUL: Well, police in Washington state say a student called 911, a student, to report his bus driver was driving drunk.
BLACKWELL: And police arrested the driver on September 12th after she completed two trips carrying students. No students were on board the bus at the time of her arrest, though. Listen to part of the 911 call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CALLER: We just got off the bus me and my friend, and on bus 8, our bus driver Catherine , she was drunk because she was like she passed three red lights an she got on a side road by the 76. And there's still kids on there, and I was telling my friend to get off with me and his sister, but the bus driver wouldn't let him.
DISPATCHER: Did she smell of alcohol?
CALLER: Yes, her breath sort of smelled like alcohol.
DISPATCHER: And you said she ran how many red lights?
CALLER: About three red lights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: The bus driver is on administrative leave while the school district investigates.
BLACKWELL: New poll numbers show Senator Warren and Vice President Biden both with the fair lead ahead of the rest of the pack.
But which candidate is surging in the key state of Iowa?
PAUL: And you know it's TV's new to shine. Still ahead, who's up for the top honors at tonight's primetime Emmy Awards? What you can expect to see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we will win the last war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Well, it is quite the surge for Senator Elizabeth Warren. In a new CNN/Iowa poll, neck and neck with Vice President Joe Biden.
BLACKWELL: Warren and Biden both with a fair lead ahead of the other candidates.
PAUL: Let's get to CNN's Jessica Dean in Des Moines.
Good morning to you, Jessica. What are the conversations there this morning?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning to both of you as well.
This new data coming out from our CNN "Des Moines Register" poll. And you hit the nail on the head right there. The big takeaway there is there is a surging Elizabeth Warren in this race who is really challenging the dominance of Joe Biden here in Iowa and this is reflective of national polls we have seen. We have been Elizabeth Warren's numbers going up. We've also seen her favorability going up in poll across the country but Iowa specifically, that's what we're digging in to today.
Let's take a look at the broad numbers. You see Warren coming in with 22 percent and Biden 20 percent. And Sanders is the next closest at 11.
So, really, the two of them right there making up that top tier.
And when you factor in the margin of error in this poll, this is neck and neck. They are right that there is no clear leader. A very tight race there at the top. And when you dig into those numbers a little bit you see that Warren is taking a lot of support from Bernie Sander. When we look at liberal versus moderate Democrats here in Iowa, you'll see that Warren taking 34 percent of their support, 10 percent of the liberal support, 10 percent of the moderate.
And when you look at Biden, it's flipped almost identically, right? Which is really interesting there because Biden is showing real strength with moderate conservative Democrats and also people over the age of 65.
Take a look at these numbers. You'll see Biden running away with the support in that category, 35 percent of the vote to Warren's 12 percent of the vote, everybody else in single digits. And for the Biden campaign, those are solid numbers that those voters 65 and older oftentimes are the ones that really show up that are very accountable.
Look at the number for supporting or considering. These are interesting. These are -- this is the question of would you -- are you supporting this candidate or would you consider supporting this candidate? Warren there with 71 percent, Biden at 60 and you see Buttigieg and Harris and Sanders also in the 50s there.
And something to really take away if you zoom out and look at this poll and look at the state in the big picture, also in this poll they found that just 20 percent here in Iowa, Democrats, 20 percents have firmly made up their mind. So, what that tells us is this is still a fluid race. And, Christi and Victor, at the Iowa state fair yesterday, they saw 17 candidates. We were there all afternoon. Big festivities there.
The electorate here very engaged and very enthusiastic having so many people to choose from, some people wearing one person's shirt and another person's button. So, still a lot of fluidity in this race and still, what, 135 days until the caucuses. So, we will see more from there.
But, right now, Warren and Biden really the top tier of a tightening race here in Iowa. PAUL: Yes, yes. There's still time, Jessica, no doubt about it.
DEAN: That's right.
PAUL: And that one in five likely caucus-goers saying that they were the only ones who had a solid first choice. It is interesting at this point.
Thank you so much, Jessica Dean. Good to see you.
PAUL: So, since we are talking about Senator Warren, we need to point out that the Massachusetts senator did take a swipe at Congress yesterday as well, calling on them once again to start impeachment proceedings against the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has made clear that he does not respect the rule of law. Congress has one responsibility on this and that is to initiate impeachment at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watch out for the street. Watch out!
WARREN: This is about Donald Trump and his belief that he is above the law. He is not and it's up to Congress to hold him accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this with CNN political analyst, April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.
April, good morning to you.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: OK. So, let's talk about impeachment in a moment. First I want to talk about this new poll. We see that Senator Warren --
BLACKWELL: -- is surging but we have seen surges before. We have seen Senator Harris surge. We've seen Mayor Buttigieg surge. They have faded.
Her climb has been slower and steadier. Does this appear to be something different? Make the makings of something more sustainable?
RYAN: Well, this is a big deal. Democrats want a diverse ticket and this, if Senator Warren stays on top, could be diversity at various levels.
But you have to remember, there's so much time between now and the Iowa caucus, February 3rd, 2020. We still have a lot of time and just in a week, things can change. This spells great news for Elizabeth Warren. I mean, just last week, we were talking just last Sunday about how Elizabeth Warren received the biggest round of applause at the CBC and the CBC Phoenix Awards Dinner has been a gauge for me for the last number of years when it comes to presidential candidates and the black community.
She's got the black community supporting her but Joe Biden wasn't there. Now let's see how the nation reacts and let's see if this is a continuation.
But here's another thing, we need to talk about Joe Biden. Joe Biden's numbers are slipping. Just last week, the Biden camp is saying but he is winning, but he is winning, no matter the gaffes. Those gaffes maybe taking a toll on his numbers.
For Elizabeth Warren to be up by two points, I mean, what is it, plus or minus, I mean, it's still too close to call --
RYAN: But still for her to be up over Joe Biden right now says a lot. So, Elizabeth warren is now the person that they are going to be swiping out. They're going to be more attacks on her. There is blood in the water for Joe Biden but there is also going to be attack now on Elizabeth Warren more so than ever before.
BLACKWELL: Let's turn to this discussion over impeachment. And Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted this, one of a few tweets.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BLACKWELL: She tweeted: It is one thing for a sitting president to break the law. It's another to let him. The integrity of our democracy isn't threatened when a president breaks the law. It's threatened when we do nothing about it.
The GOP's silence and refusal to act shouldn't be a surprise. Ours is.
Now, as we start a new week. And you can look over what happened last week, on one hand, you had what many people considered to be just that circus atmosphere of the Corey Lewandowski impeachment inquiry hearing.
RYAN: Yes, horrible.
BLACKWELL: But also, the new revelations about the whistle-blower and president's potential call with President Zelensky of Ukraine.
Is leadership any closer at the start of this week to endorsing, supporting an impeachment move and by leadership, I mean Nancy Pelosi?
RYAN: Well, Victor, on this Sunday morning, the devil is in the detail. This is a very complicated situation. For all intents and purpose, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is absolutely right. The rule of law has been broken.
But there are two things right here. Today, you probably won't hear too much from Democratic leadership on this because right now, people are mourning the loss of Congressman James Clyburn's wife, Dr. Emily Clyburn, in South Carolina and many are going there for services today and tomorrow.
But at the end of the day, Nancy Pelosi is standing firm because, granted, you have more Democrats in the House saying, yes, we need to do this. Yes, we need to do this. But when you look out over America, the numbers are still showing, polls most recently are still showing that people don't want impeachment.
BLACKWELL: It's still unpopular.
RYAN: Right, it's still very unpopular. And they don't have that on their side.
And so, Nancy Pelosi is banking on the courts right now. Did the president break the rule of law? Yes. The rule of law has been broken but we are in a critical time period, election time.
And, right now, we are still seeing the Democrats would win against President Donald Trump. But if you throw in impeachment, Nancy Pelosi doesn't want what happened years ago with Bill Clinton, you know, the popularity and --
RYAN: Right, right. Trump would be viewed as someone who oh, woe is him, let's support him.
BLACKWELL: Nancy Pelosi has to think about the purple district Democrats who got in.
RYAN: Yes, exactly.
BLACKWELL: Or even red district Democrats who got in and you want to protect them or don't want to have them make that vote.
Let me move on to one more thing while we have you here. Senator Cory Booker sent out this urgent plea. He needs $1.7 million by the end of this month. According to his campaign, he has pulled in about a quarter of a million dollars of that, and he has nine days to go.
Here is Senator Booker with our Jessica Dean.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, on so many metrics on the ground, we are running a great election to win but we can't continue this without more support. I won't continue this unless I can look people in the eye and say we have a chance to win it. So, if you believe in me, this is the time to help. Without it, we shouldn't be in this race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Have you seen this strategy before, a specific dollar number or I'm out? And does it come off as desperate or does it come off as focused? What do you think?
RYAN: I look at it as reality. I look at it as desperation as well. He has fought a valiant fight but his numbers have not grown to the point that, you know, he is one of the top four or five contenders.
You know, at this point, you know, he brought diversity to the ticket. He brought -- not to the ticket, but to this race.
RYAN: You know, he has spoken out and it's hurt him. It seems like anyone who has spoken out against Joe Biden has not been able to sustain. We saw he was one of the first ones. Then we saw Kamala Harris and then we saw Julian Castro.
BLACKWELL: And this really despite that second debate performance that many Democrats said was pretty strong. He didn't get the boost that you saw Senator Harris get after the first debate after her performance.
April, we've got to wrap it there but always good to have you on.
RYAN: So great to be with you, Victor. Always.
BLACKWELL: All right. Have a good Sunday.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the White House is threatening to pull funding from two schools unless they change their curriculum. Coming up, why the Department of Education say the two schools are too focused on the positive aspects of Islam.
[07:38:08] BLACKWELL: The Trump administration is threatening to pull some grant funding from the University of North Carolina and Duke University unless the school revise their shared Middle East studies program. Department of Education sent a letter to the schools saying, among other things, that the program puts too much emphasis on the positive aspect of Islam and not enough emphasis on the good things about other religions.
Joining me now, Henry Reichman with the American Association of University Professors.
Sir, good morning to you.
HENRY REICHMAN, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS: Good morning.
BLACKWELL: All right. So, let's start here. The Department of Education claims that Duke and UNC, the courses supported by the Title VI grant, they don't really align with the mandate. We'll talk about that in a moment.
But what is getting so much attention is this, the complaint that the outreach to elementary and secondary students, let's put this up, and to teachers places a considerable emphasis placed on the understanding of the positive aspects of Islam while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.
You find that troubling. Why?
REICHMAN: Well, I find the whole thing trouble because it's a question of the federal government telling colleges and universities what kind of programs they should offer. The program under which they fund the center is clearly has broad criteria for approval. And the programs clearly fit within that.
Now, they will always vary from university-to-university. Some will emphasize some things, some others, that's -- as it should be. But for the government to start dictating what programs can be offered is deeply troubling and poses a threat to the autonomy and economic of freedom.
BLACKWELL: So, the department says that this Title VI grand is to promote foreign language learning and advance the national security interests and economic stability of the United States.
So, to their point, the question about the mandate, how do courses that they highlight in this letter, courses on love and desire in modern Iran and Middle East film criticism aligned with the mandate set forth as part of this Title VI funding?
REICHMAN: Well, first of all, I looked at the website for these national resource centers and there's no mention there of national security at all. But putting that aside, this letter cherry picks a handful of courses -- not even courses. Sometimes, they're just academic papers delivered at conferences.
In fact, if you look at the website of the center, you'll see they offer more than 60 course on the politics history, society, and culture of the Middle East, and they offer literally dozens, actually more than 50 sections of foreign language and all of this is in accordance with the program. Moreover, the government provides just $235,000 of funding to this program which, obviously, costs far more than that. Not only to offer all of the courses but they have nine full-time administrative staff.
So, you can't even say that the government money is going to any specific course or event. BLACKWELL: So, then, what do you and your group AAUP, what do you now
want or you think this consortium could should do? I mean, they get the $235,000 grant. Do they have any choice but to change the curriculum?
REICHMAN: Well, I hope they won't. I certainly don't know everything about their own situation and it's up to them to decide. I hope they won't just knuckle under. $235,000 is a lot of money, but two really major universities could, I'm sure, find that money to make up for it in the funding of the center.
But, more important is what I would hope is that the department of education would think twice about the path they have undertaken here and move away from trying to hold university program to these kind of political criteria. The real danger is, is that universities can find themselves whip-sawed if administrations apply their own political viewpoint to the broad criteria each time an administration changes. We have new criteria and new course.
BLACKWELL: All right. Henry Reichman, thank you so much for being with us. We reached out to the Department of Education for comment and they declined to respond with one.
Thank you so much for being with us.
REICHMAN: Thank you for having me.
PAUL: All righty. Well, the stars are getting ready to walk the red carpet at tonight's Emmy Award. Coming up, major changes that you can expect as Hollywood honors its biggest stars.
BLACKWELL: Plus, a 29-year-old man spent the last four years completing good deeds for complete strangers. The last one, this tops all of them.
PAUL: Should we do this a little bit?
PAUL: We are just in love with the music.
BLACKWELL: The music calls for it.
TV's biggest night, it is tonight. The 71st Annual Emmy Award.
PAUL: And this year, the Emmys is going hostless.
Here's CNN's Stephanie Elam.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Emmy question this year: Can anyone take the throne from "Game of Thrones"?
Last year's winner is once again the drama frontrunner with a record number of nominations for its final season.
MATTHEW BELLONI, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Even though some of the reactions to "Game of Thrones" were negative this season, the show is such a juggernaut and changed television in so many ways, voters are going to go for it.
JULIA LOUIS DREYFUS, VEEP: Just want to be president.
ELAM: Also in its final season, HBO's "Veep," a favorite for best comedy and actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
BELLONI: It had to take a year off because Julia Louis-Dreyfus was undergoing cancer treatment. So, there is a lot of goodwill associated with the show.
But the nice new shiny thing on the block is "Fleabag."
JENNY RAINSFORD, FLEABAG: Oh my God. Definitely not, that does nothing for you. What?
PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE, FLEABAG: These are my clothes, Boo (ph). I've been wearing these all day.
ELAM: "Fleabag," a British comedy, is Amazon Prime's new entry following last year's winner, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," a nominee again this year.
But "Fleabag" has momentum, led by star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, also a writer and producer for drama contender "Killing Eve."
BARRY BERKMAN: Do you think I'm a bad person, Mr. Cousineau?
ELAM: Bill Hader's "Barry" is another comedy favorite. Overlooked in the category last year, voters could be looking to make amends.
JARED HARRIS, CHERNOBYL: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chernobyl is on fire.
ELAM: "Chernobyl" leads a spate of real-life stories making up the best limited series category.
ETHAN HERISSE, WHEN THEY SEE US: I didn't see a lady or hit anyone.
ELAM: Including tough competition from Ava DuVernay's "When They See Us," about the Central Park Five.
BELLONI: It's just -- it's nothing like it on television.
ELAM: This Emmys will be host-less this year, emboldened by the success of the Academy Awards without a host.
BELLONI: I personally like having a host. I think it sets, you know, a bar and gives you something to look forward to when you tune in. But the Oscars had no host, the ratings were up, and the reviews of the show were generally positive.
ELAM: Without a host, the star power of the Emmys will be left to the winners.
Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.
PAUL: Still to come, an extraordinary act of human kindness, a man donating something very special to somebody he doesn't even know.
PAUL: In this week's "Human Kindness", the man you're about to meet insists he's nothing special, but people in his home town might agree.
Twenty-nine-year-old Jon Potter spent the last four years just helping people that he doesn't know, home repairs, someone struggling to pay groceries, he goes out of his way, he's on a mission to help these people.
But it's his latest act of generosity that may top them all, donating his own kidney.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: When I look at what you've done, you've helped people with rides in the middle of the night, buying people groceries, pet- sitting, career coaching. How do you go from that to donating a kidney?
JON POTTER, DONATED HIS KIDNEY TO A STRANGER: It's -- the kidney was a huge leap. I even joked with Mike, the man that I donated to, when I called him, I was like, I didn't wake up today and even understand what kidney donation was, nor did I wake up and decided I wanted to do it. I started out seeing a post, his daughter posted a picture with him asking for a kidney at the hockey game, at the Penguins game, and my first instinct was I've said yes for years and it was only supposed to be for the first year and I'm four years in, so I don't have to say yes to this.
But I felt led to it because I saw mike and his daughter and I just imagined, what if that were my wife, what if I were her dad, and it just struck a cord with me, it's like, we don't treat strangers like we would treat our own family, and luckily no one in our family has kidney problems or has predisposition for it.
So, I wanted to, yes, look into it more and see if it were possible.
[07:55:01] And then having met Mike and his family, I immediately knew it was the right thing to do.
PAUL: So did this start, if I read this correctly, after you turned down a woman who had asked you for help?
POTTER: Yes, she knocked on my window at a gas station and I wasn't expecting anyone. You know, it was just a gas station and she asked for a ride to the battered women's shelter and I said no. My natural instinct was I froze and said no, and then immediately I wanted to help and I realized what I had done and then I couldn't find her.
And so, that kind of started out a mid-year resolution to say yes whenever someone asks for help.
PAUL: So is there any request that has by far been your favorite up to this point?
POTTER: Yes, I mean, my favorite one currently was this guy and he needed money. He was just behind on a lot of bills and everyone said it was a scam and no one wanted to help him and his post actually got deleted because they thought it was a scam. And I was like, wait a minute, I want to see if this guy is legitimate.
So, me and my wife went and met him and he was the nicest guy I've ever met and five weeks later I'm really proud to call him a friend and I helped him transition job careers, and now, he's going to be a programmer, and he has a whole new career and then, yes, I mean, he's getting his United States citizenship. He's an immigrant from Turkey. He's getting it as we speak right now.
So, that's my favorite one, going from everyone thinking he was a scam to now being able to call him a friend. And this guy wants to help out and he's helping on good deeds now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Thank you so much to John. He's doing really good work there.
BLACKWELL: Very good work.
PAUL: We hope you go out and do some good work today, too.
BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King is up after a quick break.