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Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) is Interviewed about Impeachment and Bloomberg; American victims Laid to Rest; Lessons of Berlin Wall; Woman Helps Homeless Yale Graduate. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 8, 2019 - 08:30   ET



REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): Intelligence Committee and to speak to these important questions about the president of the United States using his office to pressure a foreign government, to help him in his political campaign.

We've seen all of it play out, but, fortunately, it, in this case, it hasn't worked. We've seen these patriotic Americans, national security officials and diplomacy officials who have -- State Department officials who have come forward to share with us their very real concerns. They're not going to be bullied by the administration. And so we're not going to allow the administration's efforts to prevent this from going forward to succeed not when there's already so much powerful testimony we've already received that the American people will start to hear next week.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: "The Washington Post" is reporting this morning that a new strategy we might hear from Republicans on top of the other strategies that they have been putting out over the last several weeks is that the president wasn't the one doing anything wrong here. The president's not responsible for the shakedown of Ukrainian leader holding up military aid in order to investigate the Bidens and political opponents. It was Rudy Giuliani. It was Ambassador Sondland. It was Mick Mulvaney. "The Post" reports they're going to be the fall guys.

What's your assessment of that argument?

DEUTCH: Well, it's ludicrous, John. Think about what's transpired so far. The defenders of the president first attacked the whistleblower. Then they attacked the process. Then they attacked the witnesses, including Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, a Purple Heart veteran. Now they're going to try to say that the president didn't know what was going on? They're literally throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something will stick.

I would suggest they read the call transcript in which the president says to the president of Ukraine, Rudy Giuliani's a good man. He knows what's happening. You should talk to Rudy. And he says it more than once. That should put an end to any effort to try to suggest that the president didn't know what was happening. It's outrageous. They should have to just answer the fundamental question, all of my colleagues, is it appropriate for the president of the United States to use his office to pressure a foreign government, withholding vital security assistance for political gain in the next election?

BERMAN: Very quickly --

DEUTCH: That's what they ought to be talking about, but they can't.

BERMAN: Very quickly, if I can, I want to ask about Democratic presidential politics.


BERMAN: Michael Bloomberg, who has put a lot of money in efforts to fight gun violence, which I know was an effort close to your heart as you represent the district that Parkland is in, is going to enter the Democratic race, we think, as soon as today.

Is his candidacy something you could get behind?

DEUTCH: Well, there hasn't been a vote cast anywhere yet, John. And I think any candidate who's going to raise issues that are urgent in this -- this political campaign should be able to bring them up.

I was with Mayor Bloomberg in my community. I know his commitment to fighting gun violence everywhere in the country wherever it happens. And I think his commitment to elevating the issue of climate change matters. Listen, anyone who wants to raise these issues should. They're important. That's, I assume, what he's going to focus on. We need to be talking about these things.

BERMAN: All right. Your non-answer there is noted, but I appreciate the effort there.

Congressman Ted Deutch, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

DEUTCH: Thanks very much, John.

BERMAN: All right, now here is what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:30 a.m. ET, Roger Stone trail continues in D.C.

3:00 p.m. ET, President Trump speaks in Atlanta.

6:15 p.m. ET, Joe Biden speaks in New Hampshire.


BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Chilling, new audio messages reveal horror and heartbreak after an American family was ambushed in Mexico.


KENDRA LEE MILLER: Nita and her children are gone. They've been burned inside the vehicle. Dear God, pray for us all.


GOLODRYGA: We have the latest details coming up next.



GOLODRYGA: Funerals will take place today for six more American victims of the massacre in Mexico. Three other victims were laid to rest yesterday. This as CNN has obtained audio that captures the confusion among family members immediately after the attack.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has more.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There were three mothers and 14 children driving to a wedding. It was supposed to be a moment of joy for this American community of Mormons who have lived just across the border from the U.S. in Mexico for generations.

But according to the Mexican government's timeline, at 9:40 on Monday, shortly after leaving La Mora in northwest Mexico, a region controlled by warring drug cartels, the first car driven by Renita Miller was ambushed by gunmen wielding heavy weapons. She and her four children were killed. Their car set ablaze.

Then, at 11:00 a.m., two other cars following Miller also came under attack.


For more of the group were killed. Some of the wounded children ran for their lives and hid in the nearby brush.

Soon, members of the community realized a horrible, inexplicable tragedy had taken place and began seeking help from relatives in the U.S.

KENDRA LEE MILLER: Dear God, everybody pray on. (INAUDIBLE) just came and said my mom's suburban is blown up, up on the (INAUDIBLE) by the hill. Everyone, please pray.

OPPMANN: This recording is one of several Whatsup (ph) audio messages provided to CNN by family member Kendra Lee Miller. She had sent them to relatives in the confusing hours after the attacks.

MILLER: Nita was supposed to be going over there and we don't know where she is yet. If anybody knows, please let us know quick.

OPPMANN: For privacy purposes, Miller did not provide us with audio messages of other members of the family, but she did authorize us to air her frantic pleas. Pleas that soon turned to sorrow as members of the community realized that all three cars had been attacked. MILLER: Nita and her four children are gone. They've been burned inside the vehicle. Uncle Jeffrey verified, counted all five bodies. Their bones are burned. Their bodies are burned to a crisp. Dear God, pray for us all.

OPPMANN: More than nine hours after the first attack, Mexican military and police began search operations. They say they arrived at the remote and lawless area as soon as they could.

The scene they found was one of unimaginable carnage. More than 200 rounds had been fired at unarmed women and children. Miraculously, though, at 8:30 p.m., they found survivors, including seven-month-old Faith. She was in a car that had been riddled with bullets, still strapped into her car seat, somehow unharmed.

MILLER: My brother-in-law said it -- Christina's baby Faith, she was in the car seat in the back seat, which is where she was able to survive. I'm not sure where Brixon (ph) was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting when he was found by our family and the armed men. He was hiding in the bushes still with his siblings.

OPPMANN: Now, instead of celebrating a wedding, this community is burying their dead.

The government says the Americans may have been caught between cartels battling for turf. Residents tell us they think they were targeted on purpose but don't know why.

For the moment, the Mexican government is providing heavy security. But residents of this American enclave tell us the government's protection likely won't last for long and they fear that, once again, they will be on their own.


OPPMANN: And crime is so out of control here, John and Bianna. Drug cartel crime that Mexico is on track to have one of its deadliest years ever. It is very rare that any of the killers ever face justice.

Back to you guys.

BERMAN: Patrick, thank you so much for this reporting. It is so deeply troubling. And as you've been saying, our heart do go out to that family. I just can't imagine. I can't imagine.


BERMAN: All right, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking moments ago just steps from where the Berlin Wall once stood with a stark warning about China and Russia.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Today, Russia, led by a former KGB officer stationed in Dresden, invades its neighbors and slays political opponents. Chinese communist party uses tactics and methods to suppress its own

people that would be horrifyingly familiar to former east Germans.

Because western free nations have a responsibility to deter threats to our people.


BERMAN: One of the nations that Russia invades is Ukraine. We'll discuss that, I'm sure, at length over the next few days.

Tomorrow marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

John Avlon here now with more in a "Reality Check."


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Thirty years ago this weekend, the Berlin Wall fell, and the world changed. It felt like the future was endlessly bright. The Cold War had been won without firing a shot and an evil empire was ending. It was a celebration about liberation and the rise of liberal democracy. It's what seemed like a new consensus elevating individuals over ideological excesses.

Now, looking bac, the gap between the hopes of 1989 and the facts of 2019 are stark. We've gone from tearing down walls to building them. From autocrats being on the run, to autocrats on the rise, with technological surveillance states secured by fear and greed, while democracy itself seems in retreat.

The liberal idea has been declared dead by a former KGB officer who has been president of Russia for most of the past 20 years. Someone who called the end of the Soviet Union the 20th century's greatest tragedy and is still trying to roll back freedoms gains in countries like Ukraine.

While one time liberal student leaders like Hungary's Viktor Orban have turned into ethno nationalists who champion illiberal democracy and seek to divide a united Europe.


We hear the old Soviet rhetoric of enemy of the people spoken by a U.S. president who questions the value of NATO and refuses to criticize the Russian president who meddled in our election to his benefit, all while America is becoming less free, according to Freedom House. We've seen a degree of historical amnesia kick in, a growing fascination with socialism among a generation borne after the end of the union of soviets socialist republics. And even worse, glimpses of a kitschy romanticization of communism, which does deep disrespect to the 100 million people who were killed in its name. As does on the flip side the impulse to attack policy differences in a democracy, a slippery slope to soviet state.

These are arguments we hoped would be on the ash heap of history by now. Then again, when I read about the fall of the Berlin Wall back in high school, I never imagined that defending liberal democracy would be a core responsibility of my generation.

But there is a defiant optimism that lingers as a legacy from the spirit of 1989, because none of the experts predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Soviet Union. It came about not just because of western leaders like Reagan and Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, but primarily because of countless small acts of courage by people behind the iron curtain who refused to live in fear. Small bands of dissidents who refused to conform to communism and give lip service to its lies, big and small. They spoke out at personal risk and the power of their example slowly gave courage to others until many were marching in solidarity from shipyards in Poland to public squares in Prague.

And that's where a playwright and prisoner turned Czech president, Vaclav Havel, said this during his country's velvet revolution. Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred.

I've been thinking a lot about that quote lately. It resonates with our times as well. Thirty years drift from the hope that accompanied the fall of the Berlin Wall teaches us that we cannot take progress or peace for granted and that there is no end of history. But freedom, like truth and love and liberal democracy is worth the fighting for in a spirit of solidarity.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: And a super important reminder, John. Thank you so much for that.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you so much, John.

Well, we return now to a conversation about health that many around the world consider taboo, and that's menstruation. It's a reality for women everywhere and not talking about it not only makes monthly periods extremely stressful for girls, but it also limits what they can achieve. Well, one woman says she, too, struggled with this growing up in Ethiopia. So what did she do? She designed a solution. Meet one of this year's top ten "CNN Heroes."


FREWEINI MEBRAHTU, CNN HERO: In Ethiopia, most women and girls do not have access to sanitary pads. Many girls stay at home during their period. They are scared and ashamed. Half of the population is dealing with this issue, but no one is willing to talk about it.

I knew that I have to make a product that helped women and girls to get on with their lives.

All I want is all girls to have dignity, period.


GOLODRYGA: Well, nearly 800,000 girls and women have benefited from Freweini's work. Go to to vote for her for CNN Hero of the Year or any of your favorite top ten heroes. BERMAN: So a Yale graduate who ended up homeless gets a second chance.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is there any chance you'll wind up back on the street some day?



BERMAN: We have an update on a story we brought you weeks ago. "The Good Stuff" is next.



BERMAN: So it really is a new day for a Yale graduate whose life hit a road block and found him homeless in Los Angeles for ten years. So we brought you the story of Shawn Pleasants back in September. Today we're happy to report he's no longer on the streets thanks to someone he calls an angel.

CNN's Dan Simon has his story.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): California's homeless crisis has touched people from all different backgrounds. But Sean Pleasant's case is truly unique.

SHAWN PLEASANTS, HOMELESS FOR 10 YEARS: It's not someone else's problem. It's a problem we all could face.

SIMON: The 52-year-old had been a high school valedictorian, got a degree from Yale, worked on Wall Street and became the owner of his own business before it all fell apart and he wound up homeless on the streets of L.A.'s Korea Town. Our story seemed to hit a nerve.

KIM HERSHMAN, ATTORNEY AND YALE GRADUATE: I started reading it and just tears.

SIMON: Kim Hershman could not sit still, especially after learning his encampment was mere miles away from her home. The Hollywood attorney, also a Yale grad, began to formulate a plan.

SIMON (on camera): You're a lawyer. You're not a homeless advocate. Why are you deciding to get involved with this?

HERSHMAN: Because I'm a human being. How could I not? I live in L.A. He is someone who was a year behind me in school.

SIMON (voice over): So on a sunny September afternoon, she headed to Korea Town, feeling an obligation to help someone she considers one of her own. HERSHMAN: You don't have to bring any food. You don't have to bring

any toiletries.

SIMON: Fast forward, 20 days later --

PLEASANTS: I didn't stop for a second.

SIMON: Moving day as Shawn, along with his partner David, say good-bye to the streets after ten years.

PLEASANTS: On this day today, we will leave the streets, hopefully forever.

SIMON: Kim arranged for them to stay in a guest house on a posh L.A. estate.

Soon they'll have a place of their own with section eight housing.

PLEASANTS: She's an angel.

SIMON: You have air conditioning.



SIMON: All the comforts of life.


SIMON: Television. Internet.

PLEASANTS: It was --

SIMON: What's that like?

PLEASANTS: It was unreal because we kept thinking of ones -- at some point someone's going to say April Fools and then -- and it's over.

SIMON (voice over): Turns out it was just the beginning.

HERSHMAN: We are having a birthday brunch.

SIMON: But it's not all fairy tales. Years on the street contributed to a powerful drug addiction. Rehab is a must. Kim is facilitating.

PLEASANTS: It's tantamount. It's -- to my credibility.

SIMON: And along the way they've been documenting the journey.




SIMON: Shawn's goal, to become a powerful voice to combat the homeless crisis and become worthy of his new lease on life.

SIMON (on camera): There are people watching this story saying, this guy has been given another chance.


SIMON: And I sure hope he doesn't blow it.

PLEASANTS: I do, too. I hope I don't. And sure hope I don't. And I hope for their sakes that they don't lose their footing because they'll experience some of the worst times that I -- I experienced personally.

SIMON: Is there any chance you'll wind up back on the street some day?

PLEASANTS: I hope the hell not.

SIMON (voice over): Dan Simon, CNN, Los Angeles.


BERMAN: I hope the hell not.

You know, it's only one step on a journey and I think there are so many people pulling for him.

GOLODRYGA: And so many people looking at this and saying how important it is to invest in other people. Everyone has a story, right? And so many deserve another chance.

BERMAN: Good luck to all of them.

All right, it is a big news morning. Any minute now we expect to hear from President Trump. He's going to head to a helicopter. He likes delivering these impromptu news conferences. Wonder what he has to say about Michael Bloomberg's entry into the presidential race.

CNN's coverage continues right after this.