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New Whistleblower Comes Forward In Inquiry Over Trump-Ukraine Calls; U.K. Police: U.S. Diplomat's Wife Drove On Wrong Side Of The Road; Demonstrators Take To The Streets For 18th Straight Week; Key Witness In Amber Guyger Trial Gunned Down; House Dems Demand Docs From Pence In Impeachment Inquiry; Manhunt Underway After Nine Shot, Four Killed At Kansas Bar. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired October 6, 2019 - 15:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right, hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right, new today, a major development in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump. A second whistleblower has now come forward with accusations concerning the President and his interactions with Ukraine. The person's attorney tells CNN the new whistleblower works in the Intelligence Community and has firsthand knowledge that supports claims made by the first whistleblower.

Let's go straight to CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez. So Evan, what more do we know about this new whistleblower? Has a formal complaint actually been filed?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Not at this point, Fred, but we know from the lawyers representing the first whistleblower that this person also works in the Intelligence Community, that this person claims to have firsthand knowledge about some of the interactions -- some of the accusations that the first whistleblower brought up in their complaint that they filed with the Inspector General.

And we also know that this person, the second person, has spoken to the Inspector General, and we had seen previously the Inspector General said that they had corroborated some of the things that were made in the first claims. And that's one of the reasons why they had -- they believed that the claims were not only credible but an urgent concern that deserved to be notified to the Intelligence Communities in Capitol Hill.

WHITFIELD: Is it an issue, does it matter, that the first whistleblower and the second now whistleblower share the same attorney?

PEREZ: No, I don't think it really matters. I think what matters most of all is that you have somebody who is coming forward and claiming to corroborate what these accusations that were first made. If you remember, the President and some of his allies have said that, look, don't listen to this person. There were a number of people who were aware of the President's comments on that July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian President and have not really raised any complaints.

And they also said this person -- the first whistleblower was essentially passing on hearsay. Well, now you have a second person, and you have a person who claims that they have firsthand knowledge. I think that's makes it a lot more complicated and a lot more difficult for you to just dismiss this out of hand.

Now, look, there's still a lot of investigation to be done here. The Members of Congress say that they want to hear from the first whistleblower. You can bet that they're going to hear from this person as well.

WHITFIELD: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much.

PEREZ: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Let's check in now to see how the President and his administration is reacting to this news of now a second whistleblower. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House for us. So Jeremy, what's being said? We know the President has tweeted out already criticism of this second potential whistleblower.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. And what we're seeing from the President is really a continuation of the strategy that we've seen from him so far. It's all about criticizing the whistleblower and then pivoting to these unfounded claims about Joe Biden and his son. Here's the tweet from the President that came in last night as the story was breaking.

The President tweeted, "The first so-called secondhand information whistleblower got my phone conversation almost completely wrong, so now word is they are going to the bench and another whistleblower is coming in from the deep state, also with secondhand info. Meet with shifty". Meaning, Congressman Adam Schiff keep them coming.

Now, it's important to know Fredericka, that so much of what the first whistleblower claimed in his complaint has already been corroborated. We've seen the transcript of the call that has corroborated the whistleblower's claims about pressure on Ukraine to investigate the President's political rival, Joe Biden.

We have seen the text messages between ambassadors handling the Ukraine matter, clearly a broader effort to pressure Ukraine on that front while also leveraging the potential of a White House meeting. So, so much already that we have seen in the whistleblower complaint has been corroborated by evidence that has become public, and now we have this second whistleblower with firsthand information wanting to go further and provide that evidence.

I think it's important to note also, Fredricka, that while we have seen Republicans either silent or a few of them defending the President, circling the wagons around him, no administration officials were willing to go on the Sunday news programs today to talk about this matter.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thanks so much.

All right, let's talk about this right now with CNN National Security Analyst, Sam Vinograd, Melissa Murray, a law professor at New York University and CNN's Evan Perez back with us.

Good to see you all.

So Sam, you first. You know, what's your interpretation of this new whistleblower now having firsthand knowledge of the claims?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's important to note that the whistleblower's identity should be protected until such a time that he or she wants it to be made public that's guaranteed under law, the privacy act, as well as the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.


That said, firsthand knowledge really speaks to the fact that this person had direct access to the contents of the July 25th call in realtime. They didn't hear about it from somebody else. They were likely present when this call was taking place. Having been on a lot of these head of state calls, that's a relatively small group, Fredricka. There's typically White House situation room staff on that call, the White House situation room director staff monitoring the call and staff taking notes, as well as policy people at the White House.

The NSC staff that are responsible for the country at hand, in this case, Ukraine. So it could be a group of those people, and we know from the whistleblower complaint itself that 12 or so White House staff, according to the complaint, were on that call. So it narrows the pool somewhat, and the question from my perspective, Fredricka, is whether any of the other people that were on this call that have firsthand knowledge will come forward and make a protected disclosure as well.

WHITFIELD: Right, and potentially it could mean that this second whistleblower may be one of those people that you just cited with the firsthand knowledge who then first, you know, went to what is now the first whistleblower. So, Melissa, you know, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted this.

He says, "When it comes to more whistleblowers coming forward, I've seen this movie before with Brett Kavanaugh. More and more doesn't mean better or reliable". So is Lindsey Graham also participating in potentially violating this protection of the whistleblowers who should be able to file their complaint without harassment?

MELISSA MURRAY, LAW PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: I think this is more of the same that we've seen over and over again, an attempt to sort of pivot and distract attention from what seem to be the kinds of claims that would only fuel and accelerate an impeachment inquiry. If in fact the second whistleblower comes forward with firsthand information that corroborates what the first whistleblower said, this would be huge.

And not only that, it would actually permit other whistleblowers to step forward knowing that they had some cover in that other people who are in this limited milieu are also coming forward and taking the rest. So, the fact of a second whistleblower is huge and it's not surprising to see the administration and its allies dissembling on this point.

WHITFIELD: All right, so Melissa you say it's huge that there's a second. So, you know, Evan, much of the original complaint has actually been corroborated. You know, what has not checked out perhaps in the first whistleblower account that this potential second whistleblower one could underscore or help bolster?

PEREZ: Well, you know, I think one of the things that we're still waiting for and I think the President and his allies are keep pointing out to everyone that, you know, that there was a hold on the Ukrainian assistance, the aid that had been approved by Congress. But the ability to sort of show that there's a direct line between what the President was asking on that phone call and the hold on that aid and then getting it unstuck, right, that is still left for the investigators to put together. I think that's one of the things that they're focusing on.

Look, everything looks like it follows one, one thing follows the other, but we still need some more direct information that shows that one thing led to the other. Now, we know from the transcripts that were released this week, some of the text messages, rather, that were released this week that at least in the Ukraine, the American ambassador there, raises the question and says, you mean to tell me that we're going to withhold this aid in order to help the President's campaign.

And I think that's one of the big pieces there that is still, I think, going to help this accusation get more air, simply because when that ambassador comes in for testimony, we assume that they're going to be brought in for testimony. I think we're going to hear a little bit more about why they made that claim in those text messages.

WHITFIELD: And, of course, the complaint of the second whistleblower, we don't know details about that --

PEREZ: Right.

WHITFIELD: -- but it doesn't mean people aren't commenting about it, including Republican Senator Roy Blunt who had this to say.


SEN. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: Earlier today that maybe this would be a firsthand source which means they -- MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's what the attorney

for one of the whistleblower says.

BLUNT: And I guess they may have seen the transcript that we now have all seen. You know, I did wonder, as we talk to the I.G. for the Intelligence Community, is there something wrong with the whistleblower law that people who were firsthand sources told somebody else and tried to get that other person to come forward? I think it will be interesting to find out more about who that person is and what kind of contacts they had.


WHITFIELD: So, Sam, what is going to be the distinction between firsthand sources versus secondhand sources, because we're hearing those things associated with the first and second whistleblower accounts?


VINOGRAD: Well, Fred, I'll leave that question to the lawyers on this panel, but I will note that the Intelligence Community Inspector General is really going through the statutorily defined investigative process right now. When the first whistleblower complaint came out, the ICIG who is appointed by President Trump, deemed the complaint to be urge and incredible based upon a preliminary investigation.

What we are seeing now is insensibly the Inspector General continue that investigation concurrent of course with congressional inquiries. So the I.C. Inspector General has to speak with people that perhaps were witnesses that spoke with the original whistleblower and get really collaborating evidence. So that process will continue to unfold.

And, you know, Blunt saying that the problem is with the Whistleblower Protection Act itself. That's not the problem. The problem -- This whistleblower may followed the letter of the law in terms of the statute, made a complaint, and now the I.C. Inspector General is going to the process.

WHITFIELD: So Melissa, on that issue of, you know, first and secondhand account, if the I.G. says, particularly about the first whistleblower complaint, that it is, you know, verified, it's been checked out, it's legitimate enough to raise concerns and see it through, what is the difference between this first and secondhand account in terms of the veracity of a complaint?

MURRAY: Well, the real difference is how it plays out on the political landscape. One of the things that the President and his supporters have been harping on for the last week is that there was an earlier iteration of the whistleblower law that did require firsthand information, but the new guidance was issued that allowed secondhand information to be conveyed up the chain of command in order to make a whistleblower complaint.

And they seized on this saying that the secondhand information basically constituted hearsay, which as we know in a court of law, there are lots of situations where hearsay evidence can't be use to prove the treat (ph) of a matter of certain.

In this particular case, the fact of the second whistleblower coming forward with firsthand information not only corroborates the information of the first whistleblower has already corroborated but actually gives more fuel to the first whistleblower who, basically said that all of these is happening. So it add some credibility here that the President and his allies were trying to undermine by focusing on the fact of the first whistleblower having secondhand information.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Thanks to all of you. Melissa Murray, Sam Vinograd, Evan Perez, I appreciate it.


WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, the wife of a U.S. diplomat now being treated as a suspect after deadly crash that killed a 19-year old in the U.K. Now questions are being raised about why she was allowed to return to the United States during an ongoing investigation.

Plus, as people in Hong Kong gather for their 18th straight week of protest, a taxi cab plows into a crowd of demonstrators, the dramatic scenes unfolding this morning. Details coming up.



WHITFIELD: British police tells CNN that the wife of a U.S. diplomat who left the U.K. after being involved in a deadly car crash was driving on the side of the road. This is the man who dies, 19-year old Harry Dunn. The crash happened in late August in Central England and now the U.K. wants the diplomat's wife who is unnamed to return to the U.K.

CNN's Anna Stewart is following the developments from London. So Anna, you've just spoken to the victim's family. What's being said?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This family is living their absolute worst nightmare, and it wasn't until shortly after the funeral that they discovered that the suspect in the case is no longer in the country, and they have no idea when she went, where she's gone, why she's left. They literally didn't hear anything. And the family, which are obviously grieving are now in huge torment and anguish.

Take a listen to what the mother Charlotte Charles had to say to me.


CHARLOTTE CHARLES, MOTHER OF HARRY DUNN: It can't be right that somebody, a diplomat, or their family can come over to the U.K. or any other country, kill somebody unintentionally or not, and just go away and ignore what's happened. And leave us with nothing. We can't change what's happened to Harry and we can't get him back. But what we will do our absolute utmost to do is to make sure it doesn't happen to another family.


STEWART: This family wanted to speak to us to CNN because they want our viewers and America around the world to know what's happened because they feel that the police can't do anything at this stage. The British government doesn't appear to be able to do anything, either. They are meeting with the foreign secretary late this week. But so far, all he's said is he has spoken to the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K., has expressed his disappointment. But frankly, the power here in terms of diplomat community, that lies with the United States.

WHITFIELD: So explain the reach of this -- or the reach and the protection of this diplomatic immunity.

STEWART: Well, it's highly complex when you look at diplomatic immunity, and even more so perhaps when you look at spouses and, you know, the others that surround them when they're in different parts of the world. And we did speak to the State Department. When we put the question to them the U.K. would like this woman, the suspect, to be return to U.K. to face justice.

And this is what we got from them. "Any questions regarding a waiver of immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive intense attention at senior levels and are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry, immunity is rarely waived".

Rarely waived but that's not to say that it can't be and this family is really hoping that make an exception in this case. They're not going to stop here. They didn't get what they want. They have GoFundMe page, Justice for Harry, there is money, they will go to the United States and they will put that question to the Capitol.

WHITFIELD: All right. Anna Stewart, thank you so much, from London.

All right, for the 18th straight weekend, protesters are hitting the streets of Hong Kong and there are no signs of slowing down. What began as protests against an extradition law has turned into violent pro-democracy demonstrations.

Just take a look at this shocking video and you can see a taxi driver plowing his vehicle right through a sea of protesters rallying against Hong Kong's new anti-face mask law. And then there's also this graphic video from a local online media outlet that shows that driver being dragged from the car and then attacked. The driver is now in serious condition.


Here's CNN Correspondent, Anna Coren with a look at what it's like at the center of those demonstrations.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police have just said the current operation as you can see. Multiple people have been arrested. They sat here for about 10, 15 minutes waiting, and then suddenly they charged these protesters, these hard-line protesters that set barricades on fire, that threw (ph) petrol bombs and bricks. Police have just come in and arrested, and you can see there are at least a dozen people who have been arrested.

Today is an unlawful assembly. These people can be arrested just for being here but they also were defined the face mask ban early on. At least tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people marched easily (ph) through the streets of Hong Kong, to find the face mask ban which was put in place midnight on Friday to try to restore law and order to the streets of Hong Kong. This has now been going on for some 18 weeks.

Talking another (INAUDIBLE) until 8:00 they are being told to move. The press is being told to move. But the protesters that we have spoken to today say they are going to continue to come out fighting for their city, for their freedom and for their civil liberties. Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Anna and her crew there in Hong Kong.

All right, still to come, another twist in the murder trial of Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger. A key witness in the case shot and killed just days after giving testimony. More straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. A key witness in the murder trial against now convicted former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger was shot and killed Friday night. The Dallas County D.A.'S Office confirms the victim was this young man, Joshua Brown. He was the neighbor who testified that he heard the confrontation between Guyger and Botham Jean, the man Guyger murdered in his own apartment. Brown became emotional during the trial.


JOSHUA BROWN, EYE WITNESS: I probably hear him. When I come out, lock my door, I hear him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So from in the hallway, you can hear his activities inside his apartment. Yes? You have to say it out loud. I'm sorry.

BROWN: Yes, ma'am.


WHITFIELD: The shooting happened at the same apartment, the shooting of that man, Brown, happened at the same apartment where Botham Jean was murdered. Witnesses say they saw a silver four-door sedan speed away from the parking lot, but there are no descriptions of the suspect. And we've just learned a businessman is offering a $100,000 reward for information in this case.

Let's discuss now with retired LAPD Police Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey. Cheryl, good to see you. So what does this look like to you?

CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Good to see you, too, Fred. It looks like a conspiracy theory, right? It looks like maybe he said too much and there was a price to pay. And so, are these shades of Ferguson post the Mike Brown incident where you had four local activists come up dead within close proximity to that whole shooting? It's problematic.

WHITFIELD: Joshua Brown looked like he was struggling. It was hard for him to testify. And we know in so many cases, investigators find it difficult to get witnesses to testify because they fear for their lives. And now, just a couple of days after a conviction, after sentencing, a key witness is killed? I mean, what does this do to, I guess, the ongoing tension between, you know, communities and police about whether to cooperate in big cases, especially like this?

DORSEY: You know, in the minds of people who look like me, this further corroborates don't get involved, don't have anything to say because there's a price to pay. And listen, Joshua Brown is not the only one who -- I mean, he paid the ultimate price, but there is a young lady by the name of Bunny that we've heard about who also videotaped some information and had something to say and offer, and she lost her job, she's now in hiding, there is a gag order, she's fearful for her own safety as well, and so this is a problem. This does not look good, and it's only going to exacerbate the tension between minority communities and the police.

WHITFIELD: So in your view, what tools will be used to try to get to the bottom of who did this? Yes, there's a description of a vehicle, but would there be surveillance video? I mean, who is -- if anybody was a witness, they really might be afraid to speak, especially after this witness was just killed.

DORSEY: Well listen, there are tools that the police department have, and we'll just have to see what kind of weight they put behind this investigation. Are they really interested in even solving it? I mean, we haven't heard anything, as far as I know, from Chief Renee Hall, a black woman, who, you know, should have something to say.

This is a very influential, impactful situation, and so how vigorously are they going to look? Are they going to check with video recordings in nearby businesses like they normally do? Are they going to, you know, use all the forensic and technology that's available to them in other areas? And if they don't, because my community is not expecting them to, it is going to be a problem.


WHITFIELD: So disturbing. All right, Cheryl Dorsey, thank you so much. DORSEY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up next, Vice President Mike Pence is implicated in President Trump's now infamous phone call. So how will one of the President's most enthusiastic supporters navigate his role in this impeachment inquiry?


WHITFIELD: The Democrats have given Vice President Mike Pence until October 15th to turn over documents related to his involvement with Ukraine. The Pence request adds the Vice President to a growing list of Trump officials and allies under scrutiny by Democrats who are seeking documents as part of the impeachment inquiry. Pence has been distancing himself from the scandal by defending the President and attacking Democrats.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last week you all saw it in the news. The do-nothing Democrats launched a partisan impeachment inquiry in a blatant attempt to overturn the will of the American people in the last election.


But I think you all see through it. You got these do-nothing Democrats who've spent the last two and a half years on endless investigations and they're at it again. After two years of investigations they'd found no collusion, no obstruction.


WHITFIELD: All right, with me now is a journalist who has covered Mike Pence's political career for years now. Tom LoBianco is the Author of the book, "Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House". Good to see you Tom ad congrats on your book.


WHITFIELD: OK. So, knowing Mike Pence the way you do, how involved do you think he is or how much does he know about what may have transpired between the President and Ukraine?

LOBIANCO: Yes, I think the Vice President is in a fundamentally different place here than he was during the Trump-Russia investigation and the Mueller probe. The first real hint you got of that was last week or two -- week and a half ago when Trump said, at the U.N. Press conference, that maybe we ought to hear Mike Pence's tapes. Look, that only escalated this past week when The Washington Post revealed even more of how much he's exposed in all these.

You know, there's a lot of questions still out there. Obviously, that's why the House Democrats issued that subpoena just a few days ago. How exposed is he here? That is the key question and we're still waiting to find out.

WHITFIELD: You sent out a tweet earlier saying to people, you know, don't underestimate Mike Pence. Tweeting this, "If he didn't read the July 25th call readout, possibly it was because he knew it could contain trouble. Again, one key lesson in my reporting, don't underestimate Mike Pence. I made that mistake when I started covering him, learned my lesson with the book". What do you mean?

LOBIANCO: You know, one of my sources put it this way. They said, boring is his camouflage, and I used to fall into that trap very early. Look, I never understood before I really pulled back for this book and went deeper in the reporting that he's very cunning and he's a very good tactician. Not a very good strategist but good at tactics.

And you have to wonder, and this is something that some of my sources have raised, you know, whether or not Keith Kellogg, his national security adviser, yes, he was on that call on July 25th, but maybe he told them not to look at the readout. Maybe he warned them, hey, this is some bad stuff. Now, look, I don't know that one way or another, but Pence is very good and he's very good at coming out clean. If anybody can thread the needle on this, it's probably him, although that looks very tricky right now.

WHITFIELD: So prior to becoming Vice President Mike Pence, you know, had a lot to say about impeachment in general. Take a listen to how -- to his comments, rather, on Bill Clinton's impeachment.


PENCE: You make a point in your report that this business of high crimes and misdemeanors goes to the question of whether or not the person serving as President of the United States put their own interests, their personal interests, ahead of public service. Now, when you testified here 10 years ago, you indicated that -- you testified about the allegations made against President

Clinton and you said if they were true, it showed that over many months Mr. Clinton engaged in deception, lying under oath, concealing evidence, tampering with witnesses and in general obstructing with justice by seeking to prevent the proper functioning of the courts, the grand jury and the investigation of the Office of Independent Counsel. I believe -- I'm inferring here, I believe you testified that if those things were proven to be true, those would be instances where President put his personal interest above public service.


WHITFIELD: So Tom, do you see a contradiction in his point of view today?

LOBIANCO: You know, one of the most drawing (ph) things when he joined the Trump campaign and, you know, eventually took office was that he used to be a very clear about constitution, the rule of law. He has to make this point. You know, he studied Russell Kirk as sort of the basis of this Goldwater's-Reagan style (ph) conservatism. And he used to talk about that very often. You know, the idea that no man is above the law.

It's drawing (ph) to watch the Pence of the last, you know, 16 years prior to Trump and then to listen to him now, because it's such a major pivot. So, yes, it's a huge change from where he was just a few years ago.

WHITFIELD: All right, Tom LoBianco, thank you so much. Good to see you.

LOBIANCO: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, breaking news, as police search for a shooter that open fire in a Kansas bar, killing four people. We're on the scene.



WHITFIELD: We're following breaking news right now. A desperate search is on for the people responsible for a deadly bar shooting in Kansas City, Kansas. Police say four people were killed and five others were shot at the Tequila KC bar early this morning. And now police believe there are possibly two suspects on the loose.

CNN National Correspondent Natasha Chen is live for us in Kansas City, Kansas this afternoon. What are you learning?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, the good news is that the people who were injured in this case, the five people injured are going to be OK according to police. There are, unfortunately, four people who died here at this establishment. We're on the back side of the bar right now where we can see just a couple of surveillance cameras. There is also one on the front that we saw.

Police say that they are going to be accessing that footage and taking a look to see what exactly happened here. There were about 40 people in the bar overnight around 1:30 when this happened. We talked to somebody who was in the bar just a few hours before the shooting. She said she was hanging out here with her best friend and her best friend's fiancee.


She says that best friend's fiancee was one of the four people killed. Here's what she told me.


SHAY CELEDON, WAS AT BAR WITH VICTIM BEFORE SHOOTING: None of it really seems real right now, you know. We were sitting here yesterday evening having drinks with, you know, with my best friend's fiancee.

You know, we were sitting here having drinks and chatting and, you know, having a good time, and then I go home, go to bed and get woke up two hours later that he's deceased and she held him until he took his last breath and tried to, you know, bring him back and keep pressure on his gunshot wound. And it was just one fatal shot that took him from us.


CHEN: So there's a lot of shock right now going around the community. I'm being told this is a very tight-knit neighborhood where a lot of the people who are regulars at this bar all know each other. People of all ages, adults of all ages come here to hang out and relax after work, in addition to some late night fun.

And we are also in a very family-oriented neighborhood. There are homes or houses right up against this parking lot right here, and I'm being told that they have never seen violence at this bar before. So, they're all trying to deal with what's been going on and also making a plea to the people who might be responsible to turn themselves in, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Natasha Chen, thank you so much in Kansas City, Kansas.

All right, it is one of the most popular medications to treat everything from anxiety to seizures, but it may also be one of the most dangerous, and we're not talking about opioids. Coming up, a look at how so called benzos has become a public health emergency.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Tonight, Lisa Ling is back with an all new episode of "This Is Life." This week, Lisa explores the growing use of benzos, the troubling threat these drugs pose when used long term and the challenges facing patients who try to quit. Here's a preview.


LISA LING, CNN HOST, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING": This is micro tapering, and it looks like something out of high school chemistry, portioning out the correct amount of medication over four daily doses while cutting back 1/100 of a milligram every day.

(on camera): My, god, because this seems like such a daunting process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This way of tapering has helped me lose my symptoms.

LING (on camera): How do you track your taper?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I keep a record in this notebook. I started here, July 30th of 2017.

LING (on camera): I see you've written hold a number of times on some of these pages. What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My symptoms were escalating, and to feel safe, I just would not make a cut in my dose that day.

LING (on camera): Is there any room for error in this at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: None, no. Really, to me, it's a life-or-death mistake. I just don't want to go back to that place again.


WHITFIELD: Wow. A drug you mix yourself. I mean, you essentially have to be your own chemist. The host of "This Is Life", Lisa Ling with me now. So, first of all, I didn't even know about this, benzos, a type of drug that you are, you know, mixing yourself or portioning out yourself and how do people do this?

LING: Well, actually Fred, so benzodiazepines or benzos, they include drugs like Xanax and Ativan and Valium and Klonopin. They are some of the most widely prescribed doctor -- doctor prescribed medications in the world to treat anxiety and sleeplessness and so on. And while people have had success with treating their various disorders, thousands and thousands of others have had just horrific experiences on them and those who have decided to stop taking them after a period of time have reported just the most horrifying experiences.

And that clip that you saw, there was a woman named Chrissy (ph) who became dependent on benzodiazepines after she had been experiencing anxiety, and she went to her doctor reporting a lot of these symptoms. And he just started giving her more medications, not realizing that she was withdrawing from benzodiazepines. And so, because her doctor wasn't helpful in helping her taper, she found these methods online because there are no doctor-sanctioned methods for helping people taper off benzodiazepines.

So she got this information from random people she found. And she is having to herself taper off and remove 1/100 of a milligram of her Xanax in order to heal herself and she's having to consume this four times a day and has to be on schedule. I mean, it's just really unbelievable and it's an example of a drug that doctors are prescribing on a widespread level. But when people start to experience the side effects or the consequences of them, many doctors aren't able to help them recover from what they're experiencing. It's really scary.

WHITFIELD: So did you uncover these? Yes, it is scary. How prevalent is this? You know, how was it -- you made this discovery about this kind of problem?

LING: So it's incredibly prevalent because benzos are so widely prescribed. I was having lunch with Vicky Cornell, the wife of the late Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden who took his own life a couple years ago, and she defiantly believes that he was experiencing benzo withdrawal when he took his own life. And when she was describing the symptoms of it to me and how his doctor kept prescribing them, I was astounded. And so I started doing more research, and we found this massive community of people for whom similar things were happening. And I even recognized that my own father had had a similar experienced years before when he was prescribed Klonopin. And I didn't even realize that until after we had already started working on this episode.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And so what about treatment? What are the prospects of that?

LING: Well, here's the tricky thing. Most doctors don't really know how to treat this which is why so many people who become dependent on them are seeking out the sources online.


In fact, we interviewed a well-known psychiatrist at Stanford. I asked her, when you were in medical school, did you learn how to help people get off this drug or to treat the symptoms of withdrawal? And she said -- and she's a psychiatrist -- she said, no.

And these are drugs that are being prescribed by internists and general practitioners and pediatricians. And so, I'm hoping that people will watch this, start reading the literature that accompanies their medication and start to ask questions of their doctors if they do become concerned.

WHITFIELD: Wow. It is fascinating. Lisa Ling, thanks for bringing it to us. And of course, we will all be tuning in this evening to an all new episode of the CNN original series "This Is Life with Lisa Ling" and it airs tonight, 10:00 Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.


WHITFIELD: Hi, hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right, we begin this hour with new details in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump. A second whistleblower is coming forward with accusations concerning the President and his interactions with Ukraine.